Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace

bookAs I have been working ahead and preparing for sermons this coming spring at Revolution, one of the books I read for our man series called Fight is the book, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace (kindle version) by Heath Lambert is easily the most helpful, grace filled, gospel centered book on fighting temptation, pornography addiction and lust.

Here is one thing that sets this book apart:

This book is not about pornography. This book is not about the pornography industry. This book is not about the catastrophic effects of pornography. The purpose of this book is not to rewire your brain when it comes to pornography. This book is about something much better than pornography. This book is about the amazing power of Jesus Christ to free you from pornography.

What follows are 8 strategies the power of the gospel gives you to fight pornography: using sorrow, accountability, radical measures, confession, your spouse (or singleness), humility, gratitude, and a dynamic relationship with Jesus.

One of the things Lambert said that really stuck out to me is that humility is one of the best tools to fighting porn addiction (or any addiction). Addiction is an issue of a prideful heart.

Here are some things I highlighted:

  • Jesus Christ died to set you free from every sin that can be committed. That includes pornography.
  • When you believe in God’s grab towards you, you get God’s righteousness.
  • God’s grace pardons you and forgives your sin, and God’s grace empowers you to live differently and be obedient to him.
  • The first step in repentance is talk to God and tell him about your sin.
  • Mental punishments are not helpful because they deal with sin in a self-centered way instead of a Christ-centered way.
  • Jesus’ grace to change you is stronger than pornography’s power to destroy you.
  • Worldly sorrow is sad over losing the things of the world, while the focus of godly sorrow is God himself. Godly sorrow is pained over the break in relationship with God. It is heartbroken that God has been grieved and offended. The tears of godly sorrow flow from the sadness that God’s loving and holy law has been broken.
  • The person full of godly sorrow has a heart that wants to please God rather than self. Godly sorrow motivates real and lasting change.
  • Godly sorrow hates the sin itself. Godly sorrow feels the horror of disobedience and weeps over the reality of a heart that chose transgression over faithfulness.
  • To find freedom from pornography, you will need to employ radical measures in at least three areas. You look at porn when you have the desire to see it, when you have the time to look at it, and when it is available to you. Nobody looks at pornography without all three of these elements coming together. In your fight to be free from pornography, you must learn to take radical steps to eliminate each one.
  • The Bible promises that there is no prosperity for those who cover up their sin.
  • The circle of your confession should be as broad as the circle of your sin.
  • You can never stop thinking about something by trying to not to think about it. If you want to get something out of your mind, you must begin thinking about something else.
  • God wants to change your thinking, not by having us focus on the things we’re trying to quit thinking about, but by replacing old, sinful thoughts with new, righteous thoughts.
  • God wants you to quit thinking about porn and start thinking about your wife.
  • Whenever your thoughts begin to drift toward porn, see this mental drift as an alarm reminding you to pray for grace to refocus your thoughts on your spouse.
  • If you look at pornography, you are arrogant.
  • Every bad thing you do flows from an arrogant heart that is selfishly ambitious.
  • Men look at pornography out of an arrogant desire to see women in a way that God does not allow. They show arrogant defiance to God’s commands, rejecting the delight of sexual intimacy in marriage and deciding for themselves what they believe is better – looking at naked women in porn. They show arrogant disregard for God’s call to selfless marital love. They show arrogant derision for the female actresses whom they should be seeking to respect as who women who need to hear the good news of Jesus. They show arrogant disdain for their own children by hiding their sin and inviting the enemy into their home and their marriage. They show arrogant disrespect toward all those who would be scandalized if their sin was known. The root problem with men who look at porn is not neediness – it is arrogance.
  • Men who struggle with pornography often see pornography as their only sin.
  • If you struggle with porn, one of your greatest needs is to grow in the grace of gratitude.
  • Porn is only consumed by thankless people.
  • Porn is the trading of gratitude for greed. Porn trades joy in the reality God has graced you with for greed in the counterfeit world he has not. Defeating porn requires a grateful consideration of God’s good gifts to you.
  • You should not seek a dynamic relationship with Jesus because you want to be finished with porn. You should not seek a dynamic relationship with Jesus for any purpose other than knowing Jesus.
  • Your struggle isn’t just to avoid looking at porn. It’s much more glorious than that. You have the unspeakable privilege of being invited to have a real relationship with the Savior of your soul who alone has the Father’s seal of approval.
  • You cannot look at Jesus and look at porn at the same time. You have to stop doing one to do the other. A living, breathing relationship with the Savior of the world will drive porn out of your life quicker than anything else.

When it comes to recommendation for men and women fighting lust, temptation, porn addiction, this is the first book I will recommend to them.

Every Saturday I share a review of a book I’ve read recently. If you want to see some of the past books I’ve reviewed, go here.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

book

  1. What your church can learn from Joel Osteen and his church. While I disagree with much of Osteen’s theology, this article is a great read for pastors and what they can learn from him.
  2. Brian Croft on How a pastors should schedule his week.
  3. How to help your child read with discernment.
  4. Bob Franquiz on The challenges of an introverted pastor. Definitely have applied these in my ministry.
  5. How do Tim Keller, John Piper, Mark Driscoll & Alistair Begg prepare a sermon.
  6. Rich Birch on 5 time wasters for pastors.
  7. What to learn from a church spy. Pastors need to read this.
  8. Doug Wilson on A childish life. Great look at the growing desire of what Time Magazine calls “The Childfree life.”
  9. What the teen choice awards tell us about youth culture. If you don’t read Walt’s blog and you are a parent or a pastor, shame on you.
  10. Sam Storms on Why God doesn’t save everyone.
  11. When you pray with your children, you are teaching them how to pray.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. How to uncomplicate your life.
  2. Russell Moore on How to explain the same sex marriage debate to your kids.
  3. Preachers of L.A. I can’t believe this is real.
  4. Tim Challies on 8 ways Satan convinces you to question your salvation.
  5. Joe Thorn on How open air preaching went.
  6. Walt Mueller on Teens and plastic surgery. If you are a parent of teenagers or a student pastor, you should be reading Walt’s blog.
  7. 10 things every Christian should know about Islam.

Some Quotes from “Follow Me” that will Push You

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I just finished reading David Platt’s new book Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live (kindle version). Usually I write a book review, so here is my review.

You need to read this book. 

Here are some quotes to push your thinking and hopefully push you to pick up the book:

  • When people say they don’t “feel close to Jesus” I ask them if they are making disciples. After all, the promises for Jesus to be with us is directly tied to his command to make disciples. Experiencing God happens when we are being his witnesses and making disciples.
  • Repentance is a rich biblical term that signifies an elemental transformation in someone’s mind, heart and life. When people repent they turn from their walking in one direction to running in the opposite direction. From that point forward, they think differently, believe differently, feel differently, love differently and live differently. When Jesus said, “Repent” he was speaking to people who were rebelling against God in their sin and relying on themselves for their salvation.
  • We can’t fathom a Christian on the other side of the world believing that a wooden god can save them, but we have no problem believing that religion, money, possessions, food, fame, sex, sports, status and success can satisfy us.
  • The penalty for sin is not determined by our measure of it. Instead, the penalty for sin is determined by the magnitude of the one who is sinned against.
  • Jesus is not calling these disciples because of who they are, but in spite of who they are.
  • No one has ever been saved from their sins because they have pursued Jesus. Everyone who has ever been saved from their sins knows that they have been pursued by Jesus – and their lives haven’t been the same since.
  • Jesus has not invited us to journey to him; instead, he has made the journey to us.
  • The only reason we can seek Christ in our sinfulness is because Christ has sought us as our Savior.
  • Being a disciple of Jesus means we are not called to simply believe certain points or observe certain practices, but ultimately to cling to the person of Christ as life itself.
  • Becoming and being a disciple of Jesus involves far more than mere intellectual belief in Jesus, but it certainly doesn’t involve anything less.
  • It is impossible to separate faith in Jesus from feelings for Jesus.
  • The Bible portrays the church as a community of Christians who care for one another, love one another, host one another, receive one another, honor one another, serve one another, instruct one another, forgive one another, motivate one another, build up one another, forgive one another, motivate one another, build up one another, encourage one another, comfort one another, pray for one another, confess sin to one another, esteem one another, edify one another, teach one another, show kindness to one another, give to one another, rejoice with one another, weep with one another, hurt with one another, and restore one another.
  • This is how God grows the church and reaches people: through holiness in Christians. God grows his church by creating disciples who are serious about reflecting the righteousness of God and honoring the holiness of God.
  • More important than asking people to pray a prayer, we are calling people to lose their lives – and find new life Christ.
  • Disciple making involves far more than just leading people to trust in Christ, disciple making involves teaching people to follow Christ. This necessitates that we show people (particularly new Christians) what the life of Christ looks like in action.

Tuesday Morning Book Review || A Grace Revealed

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is A Grace Revealed: How God Redeems the Story of Your Life (kindle version) by Jerry Sittser. I’ve read two of his books and neither has disappointed.

A Grace Revealed looks at what the redemption provided by Jesus really means and does. Many have this idea that redemption means everything in our life gets cleaned and life becomes this rosy walk. While redemption does promise that one day, God will right all the wrongs of our lives and world, redemption does not promise it will happen now. 

So, what is redemption? According to Sittser:

Redemption from something — namely, sin and death and hell — also implies redemption for something, which once again points to the future. Redemption promises reconciliation between God and humanity, thereby turning enmity into friendship; restoring our broken relationship with God; repairing the divine image in us, once marred almost beyond recognition; renewing spiritual lives that were selfish, stagnant, and perverse; reforming ugly character and conduct; and resurrecting the body after death, which will make our bodies fit for eternity. God reclaims what is rightfully his. He created us; he redeemed us. We belong to him, twice over. In short, we are not only liberated from sin and evil, we are also given new life — a life so new that the apostle Paul equates it with sharing in the inexpressible and inexhaustible glory of God. God redeems through Jesus Christ, completely and perfectly. We don’t have to earn or accomplish our redemption as if it were a burden that rests on our shoulders alone. It is not a project but a gift, not something to achieve but something to receive.

One of the other things I loved about his picture of redemption is how it is not our job. It is something that is already completed, worked out by God, but something we live into and become. Sittser said:

Redemption means becoming the new persons we already are in Jesus Christ. In fact, we can become new in Christ because we already are new in Christ. Redemption is the work of Jesus Christ applied to the unfolding story of life, your life and my life. It turns gospel truth into a dramatic narrative and makes theology applicable to everyday life. Redemption happens through God’s involvement in the ordinary circumstances of life, no matter what those circumstances happen to be. You are not beyond God’s redemptive reach — not now, not ever. Redemption is rooted in a paradox, which can be summed up in a simple phrase: we become who we already are in Jesus Christ.

Here are a few other things that jumped out in the reading:

  • If you dare to surrender yourself to God, he will take up the story of your life and integrate it into the great story of salvation, turning it into something so extraordinary that you will be tempted to think that it was all a beautiful dream.
  • He wants to use the harsh conditions of life to shape us — and eventually the whole world — into something extraordinarily beautiful.
  • God purposes to claim us as his own — no matter how far we are from him, how fallen into sin, how lost and lonely. He wants to restore us to a right relationship with him and to remake us according to the image of Jesus Christ, which will ultimately lead to the renewal of the whole world.
  • God is the author of the redemptive story, from beginning to end. As sovereign Lord of the universe he is writing the story — it is thus his story; we are only playing a role in it. Still, as characters in the story, we do have freedom to make choices and thus to shape the plot, though that freedom is only true freedom when, in the course of the story, we surrender it to God and do his will. The setting and circumstances in which we live — however desirable or miserable — always play a limited role and, if submitted to God, can actually play a useful role.
  • The goal of redemption is not immediate happiness as we might define it now, but holiness of life; not the good life as we imagine it on Earth, but the perfection of Heaven itself.
  • Heaven is not some “place” out or up there, perhaps on the other side of Jupiter. It is rather a completion, enlargement, and perfection of what we experience in this life. Thus, everything that happens in this life spills over into that other and greater life, pointing beyond itself to reality as God knows, sees, and experiences it.
  • The problem is, none of us actually lives that way. We might be new in Christ, but we don’t behave in a way that seems new. If anything, there is still a lot of “old” in us.
  • redemption has a future orientation that is grounded in God’s eternal purpose,
  • Redemption from something — namely, sin and death and hell — also implies redemption for something, which once again points to the future. Redemption promises reconciliation between God and humanity, thereby turning enmity into friendship; restoring our broken relationship with God; repairing the divine image in us, once marred almost beyond recognition; renewing spiritual lives that were selfish, stagnant, and perverse; reforming ugly character and conduct; and resurrecting the body after death, which will make our bodies fit for eternity. God reclaims what is rightfully his. He created us; he redeemed us. We belong to him, twice over. In short, we are not only liberated from sin and evil, we are also given new life — a life so new that the apostle Paul equates it with sharing in the inexpressible and inexhaustible glory of God.
  • God redeems through Jesus Christ, completely and perfectly. We don’t have to earn or accomplish our redemption as if it were a burden that rests on our shoulders alone. It is not a project but a gift, not something to achieve but something to receive.
  • Circumstances don’t make us happy; only God can, enlarging our capacity to know and love him.
  • however bad it may be, adversity has no power to thwart God’s redemptive plan.
  • faith always comes easily when it isn’t really needed,
  • Faith is not faith when it sees, wills, and gets what it wants; it is not the same as self-confidence, natural optimism, or positive thinking.
  • The Christian answer to suffering, however, is suffering itself, Christ’s suffering; it is also resurrection, Christ’s resurrection — both of which are eternal realities to God. God knows pain within himself; God knows joy within himself. He knows the whole story as one, including how it all turns out, which is glorious indeed.
  • To be a person of character, then, is to exhibit the qualities Jesus Christ manifested while he lived on earth, whose suffering seasoned him and whose steady obedience made him strong and true, like a weathered tree.
  • circumstances alone have no power to determine what a person becomes.
  • Redemption thus consists of becoming who we already are in Christ.

If understanding where God is in your life story, how he is redeeming your life, what has happened, the pain you’ve experienced, or if you are questioning your salvation, this is a book worth reading.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like
  1. Download a FREE album from The Gray Heavens. Check out an interview with the band here.
  2. Tom Ascol on Being a pastor and handling confidential stuff.
  3. 50 shades of porn and the growing number of women drawn to porn.
  4. Dan McCarthy on What we can learn from the worse CEO’s of 2012. Fascinating leadership reading.
  5. A play by play of Andy Stanley’s pre-preaching time for the inauguration service. Pretty interesting stuff.
  6. J.D. Greear on 2 ways to know you are saved.
  7. Why pastors and elders need prayer. When people at Revolution tell me they are praying for me, our elders and my family, it is one of my favorite things to hear.

Don’t Make Salvation Difficult

When I finished reading Andy Stanley’s latest book Deep & Wide (kindle version), my first thought was, “This might be one of the best books I’ve ever read on church ministry or leadership.” It is chock full of wisdom, things churches can learn and ways staff’s can grow together to be effective. I’ll share a full review on September 25 when it releases, but over the coming week I wanted to share a few longer quotes from the book that pushed some thinking for me. Some I agreed with, others I didn’t, but ones I wanted to share with the My World community.

Churches shouldn’t do anything that makes it unnecessarily difficult for people who are turning to God.

What are some ways churches make coming to Jesus difficult? How do we guard against that?

This Weekend @ Revolution: The Lie that Affects Our Whole Life and Faith

So many great things happened at Revolution Church right now. I announced that in conjunction with our move at the end of August, we will be moving to 1 service on May 26th. The reason is that all the places we are talking to right now are larger than where we meet right now and we want to be prepared for that. I’m excited about this on a number of levels: we get to worship as an entire church in one room this summer, God is preparing us for some big things as we look to move to a larger facility and he uses Revolution to help people find their way back to God. By making this transition now, it helps us to make sure our teams and systems are ready for 1 service instead of 2.

We also announced 2 weeks ago that Jared Carter has joined our staff team as the Next Generation Pastor overseeing Planet Rev and Rev Up. He had a parent meeting this past week for parents of Planet Rev kids and announced that this week we are introducing an electronic check in for Planet Rev. You can read all the details here at the Planet Rev blog. If you are a Revolutionary parent, I’d encourage you to subscribe to this blog to stay up to date on what is happening in Planet Rev.

Also, this past week, we started a brand new book of the Bible, 2 Peter. The theme of 2 Peter is simple: many of us believe lies that affect our lives and our faith in Christ. On Saturday, we looked at how we fight one of the biggest lies in our culture, the lie of having more. If you missed it you can listen here.

This week, I’ll be preaching from 2 Peter 1:5 – 15 and looking at some of the doubts that many people wrestle with: have I sinned too much for God’s grace, is it possible for me to lose my salvation, can I do something for God to stop loving me. Many people can easily believe that God exists but then struggle with believing that God cares for them, loves them and forgives them. If we see these lies and the truths that combat them, it actually affects everything about our relationship with Jesus.

So, do whatever you have to do to be at Revolution this week (and bring someone with you, you never know how a simple invite can make an eternal difference). An easy to invite someone is to send them an e-vite.

Remember, we meet at 4 & 5:30pm at 6620 E 22nd. St.

See you Saturday.

This Weekend @ Revolution: How do I Know if I’m a Follower of Jesus?

So excited for this weekend at Revolution Church.

On an almost weekly basis I’m asked, “How do I know if I’m a follower of Jesus? What does it take to be a follower of Jesus? Can you lose your salvation? Do something that will make God not love you anymore?”

These are enormous questions, ones that have even bigger ramifications in their answers in how we view sin, the gospel, God, his grace and love, and ourselves and how we live our lives.

If you’d like to read ahead, you can read 1 Peter 1:13 – 21 to see where we are headed this weekend.

We are also having a baptism next week, February 11th, in both of our services. If you have never taken this step after salvation, you can get more information about it here, or you can email Mike Miller.

So, do whatever you have to do to be at Revolution this week (and bring someone with you, you never know how a simple invite can make an eternal difference). An easy to invite someone is to send them an e-vite.

Remember, we meet at our NEW services times at 4 & 5:30pm at 6620 E 22nd. St.
See you Saturday.

When I Found Jesus

If you were to ask me today when I was saved, I would answer, not entirely humorously, “about two thousand years ago.” Indeed, because I have been predestined for salvation by the one who foreknew me before I was born or had done anything good or bad, and because the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world, I don’t need the security of the date of my new birth. I only need the security of knowing he whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to safeguard my life for all eternity. -Jared Wilson, Gospel Wakefulness