Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sexual Addictions

Sunday morning we looked at Ephesians 5 when Paul spoke: But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as it proper among the saints.

It is striking how often the Bible warns God's people about sexual sins. Not only that but we read that when there are specific sins recorded, sins of a sexual nature often appear at the top of the list. What do we make of this? Well, we may say for certain that sexual temptations are serious in nature and also that God's people struggle. This means that the church should be talking about it - but we don't. We pretend no one looks at "those" pictures or visits "those" websites and I believe the result is people suffer and struggle in silence. Or, we don't know how to respond other than wagging the religious finger at that shameful sinner.

Jesus met up with a "sinful" woman in Luke 7. She struggled with immorality and made her living by it. And what did Jesus do?

First, she felt welcome. In order to feel welcome, she must trust Jesus. He is a welcoming trustworthy person.

Second, the first words spoken directly to her were: Your sins are forgiven. If someone comes to you confessing sexual addictions, Jesus teaches us that we are to point them to the cross. There is forgiveness for sexual sins and hope for future victory at the cross.

Third, (and note the people begin to question his worthiness to forgive sins - and Jesus does not even answer - he is focused on ministering to the sinful woman) he gives hope for the future: Your faith has saved you - go in peace. Jesus says - from this point on, your life is a changed life. And that is what Paul will go on to say in Ephesians - your life is a changed life and there is hope for obedience.

If someone comes to you and confesses that they have a sexual addiction, Jesus teaches us - welcome them, point them to the cross and then walk with them in this new life.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ministering To Those With Cancer

Where to begin? What to say? These are just a few random thoughts about how to minister to believers who have cancer.

1. They are first of all not believers with cancer; rather they are believers. That may seem like splitting hairs but the point needs to be made. When we talk with them we may want to focus on how they are doing with their cancer or how they are feeling. As difficult as that is (and it can be extremely difficult) there is a spiritual battle that is being waged fought in many areas including trust in the sovereign ways of God. That leads us to how we minister to believers with cancer - that is we come alongside of them as brothers and sisters in Christ and seek to encourage them through genuine Christian fellowship. Sometimes it is just listening; sometimes it is praying with them or praying quietly for them while you are listening; or sometimes it is providing practical help with providing meals or cleaning their house or doing yard work or caring for the children for a while. Pray for wisdom that God will give you insight as you make a phone call or talk with them at church - and God will lead.

2. When you approach the believer with cancer, they may have already talked about their health with 10 people beforehand and are a little tired of discussing their medical health with everyone they meet. There is a fine line between caring and smothering. They are not only going through cancer but they are also a mother, a wife, a believer, a employee - whatever it may be. Focus on the whole person.

3. Laugh with them. God has given moments of laughter and we do not need to be so "spiritual" with them that we lose our joy.

4. Share your life - not in a comparison sort of way but in a "you can pray for me in this area" sort of way. In other words, be real - they want to help you and minister to you as God gives them strength.

5. Pray often for them in your heart. Psalm 63.1: O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water. They are in a dry and weary land. As you talk with those who have cancer, weariness can be their greatest experiences - appointments, effects from treatment, anxiety concerning their family, etc. Pray that their soul would be fed by God - He is the great provider and comforter.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


This Sunday we are looking at Ephesians 5:4-14 as Paul reminds believers that the gospel radically changes people's lives. Specifically, in verses 3-14 Paul speaks out against sexual immorality, any kind of impurity and any kind of greed. The believer is to be shaped not by darkness and sin but by light and the gospel.

One verse I found interesting is verse 6: Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. In the battle against sin, you will hear many deceitful words that lead to emptiness - empty living, empty purposes, empty hearts, empty minds and empty futures. It is all a lie! Satan, the world and our remaining sin would have us ignore the great promises of God and live not by faith but by sight as we seek to satisfy our desires with emptiness.

One is reminded immediately of Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes as he relates various experiences with money, women, work and great possessions - all of which lead to one word: emptiness (meaninglessness).

Why does the church seem to run on empty, filling time with religious words but so little godly action? Why are so many Christians filled with anxiety and disappointment rather than joy? Is it because we are listening to deceitful words that lead to empty living? In other words, true joy and meaning is found in light, not darkness and that means our lives must be radically different than the world which is without the gospel.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Battling Sin

Sometimes when we read the Psalms which deal with "enemies" and "bloodthirsty men" we wonder how we can relate. As far as I know, I am not on anyone's hit list - at least not yet. So what do we do?

Recently, I read Psalm 59:

To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him. Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me; (2) deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men. (3) For behold, they lie in wait for my life; fierce men stir up strife against me. For no transgression or sin of mine, O LORD, (4) for no fault of mine, they run and make ready. Awake, come to meet me, and see! (5) You, LORD God of hosts, are God of Israel. Rouse yourself to punish all the nations; spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. Selah (6) Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city. (7) There they are, bellowing with their mouths with swords in their lips-- for "Who," they think, "will hear us?" (8) But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you hold all the nations in derision. (9) O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress. (10) My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies. (11) Kill them not, lest my people forget; make them totter by your power and bring them down, O Lord, our shield! (12) For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride. For the cursing and lies that they utter, (13) consume them in wrath; consume them till they are no more, that they may know that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the earth. Selah (14) Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city. (15) They wander about for food and growl if they do not get their fill. (16) But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. (17) O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.

I began to think - who is attacking me? Who are my enemies? Well, my own heart can be my enemy, Satan and attacks from the world. These are my enemies. They would rise up against me and I need to be delivered. And so I started to pray Psalm 59 asking the same God as King David served to Awake, come to meet me and see.

I noticed a few things including an awareness that I was in a battle and also God is more powerful than my enemies. There are enemies that would seek to destroy our testimony and our salvation but when we cry to God, the One who laughs at the rebellious nations, we may rest in Him as he is our fortress, the God who shows [us] unfailing love.

Take the Psalms which talk about your enemies and begin to pray against your sins, your own battles of the heart and the attacks of Satan and his legions. God will grant you the desire of your heart as you battle.