When You Do the Exact Opposite of What You Want to Do

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Last week, we kicked off Fight and it was an incredible first week to our man series. If you missed it, you can listen to it here.

This week, we will once again look at the life of Samson and see from Judges 14:1 – 10 why we often do the exact opposite of what we want to do and why that is. Why many struggle to let go of negative emotions, why we fail to beat addictions and sins and why so many of us feel chained to something that controls us.

On a weekly basis I will have heartbreaking conversation after conversation that goes like this:

  • I can’t stop buying things I can’t afford.
  • I can’t stop eating.
  • I can’t stop looking in the mirror.
  • I can’t stop thinking about that woman or man.
  • I can’t stop looking at porn.
  • I can’t stop getting angry.
  • I can’t stop being not trusting people.
  • I can’t stop trusting people too soon.
  • I can’t be alone.
  • I can’t let go of that person.
  • I can’t stop hating that person.
  • I can’t trust my spouse.
  • I can’t give myself to my spouse.
  • I can’t stop sleeping with my boyfriend.

At the end, they will look at me (often with tears in their eyes) and say, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I be free from this?”

That’s what we’ll answer this week.

If you or someone you know struggles with a sin, addiction, temptation or being able to live a free life, this is a great week to bring them to Revolution (seriously, how we are ending the service is going to be so powerful you don’t want to miss it).

Remember, we meet at 10am on Sunday mornings at 8300 E Speedway Blvd.

 
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Top Posts of January

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It was a great first month of 2014 on my blog. Tons of traffic and interactions. If you missed anything, not to worry, here are the top 10 posts for the month:

  1. When a Staff Member or Volunteer says, “I’m Done”
  2. The 3 Most Destructive Words a Man Hears Growing up Are: “Be a Man”
  3. Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace
  4. What I Eat
  5. 10 Gospel Truths about Homosexuality
  6. Photoshop, Beauty & Women
  7. 6 Ways to Stay Motivated to be Healthy
  8. Leading Up
  9. The Weight of Pastoring
  10. Why do a Series on Men & Women?
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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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Tim Challies on 6 deadly enemies of marriage.

Marriage is under attack. Marriage has always been under attack. The world, the flesh and the devil are all adamantly opposed to marriage, and especially to marriages that are distinctly Christian. Marriage, after all, is given by God to strengthen his people and to glorify himself; little wonder, then, that it is constantly a great battleground.

Thom Rainer on 11 things I learned from pastor’s wives.

The number one challenge for pastors’ wives is loneliness. That issue arose again and again. Many of these ladies have no true confidants. Some have scars from bad relationships. More than a few have experienced depression. Some still are.

Ann Voskamp on The cure for burnout.

The only way to lead a symphony is to turn your back to the crowd, the critics, the court.

Busy all the time: over-scheduled kids and the freedom of the gospel.

As a suburban youth pastor in a context where nearly all of my students attend college, I witness every day the madness and fallout from the frenetic, overloaded schedules of these children. Parents feel helpless and trapped in this lifestyle, while kids are flat-out exhausted and overwhelmed. Three terms capture the tone of statements I hear from parents when they lament over the busyness of their family: robbery, obligation, and inadequacy.

Kevin DeYoung on Yes, we are judgmental, but not in the way you think.

Evangelical Christians are often told not to judge. If there is one verse non-Christians know (after, perhaps, some reference to the “least of these”) is that’s Jesus taught people, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). Of course, what the casual Christian critic misses is that Jesus was not calling for a moratorium on moral discernment or spiritual evaluation. After all, he assumes five verses later that his followers will have the wherewithal to tell what sort of people in the world are dogs and pigs (Matt. 7:6). Believing in the sinfulness of sin, the exclusivity of Christ, and moral absolutes does not make one judgmental. Just look at Jesus.

Jim Gaffigan on Parenting 4 kids

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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.

This Weekend @ Revolution || How to Find Freedom

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So glad to be back in the saddle and preaching again.

I’m really grateful to Pantano Church and their willingness to help us while I’m in Africa and providing a place for us to shoot sermon videos. Love how the church in Tucson is taking steps to work together and move the kingdom forward.

This week, we are continuing our series Jesus Changes Everything and looking at John 8:31 – 59 as we look at the topic of what it means to be free and follow Jesus. I’ll often get questions such as, “How do I know if I’m a follower of Jesus? What if I continue sinning and doing what I used to do? What if I can’t stop doing something? What if I’m afraid? Have doubts? Or struggle with anything? Does that mean I’m not a follower of Jesus?”

Those are enormous questions and are answered in this important passage. So, if you’ve ever asked those questions, wondered them inside your head or know someone who has, then be sure to bring them with you (you never know when a simple invite will make an eternal difference).

We also started sign-ups for our missional communities recently. Our MC’s are smaller groups that meet around the city on different nights for the purpose of community and discipleship. We say this all the time, but if you don’t get plugged into an MC, the countdown for you sticking at Revolution begins to tick as this is where care, shepherding and growth happens best. And we would not anyone to miss out on those things.

I’ll see you this Sunday at 10am.

Remember, we meet at 8300 E. Speedway Blvd. at 10am.

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. Anthony Bradley on Millennials leaving the church.
  2. Brian Howard on How to build the perfect church staff.
  3. Rick Warren’s first sermon since his son’s suicide.
  4. Steven Furtick on Fences bring freedom.

How to write a worship song:

How to Help Someone Find Freedom from an Addiction

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I get asked a lot based on my past how to help someone find freedom from an addiction. I’ve shared in numerous places about my addiction to porn from when I was 11 until I was 21 and then my food addiction that followed that. I can honestly say now that I am 34 and have found freedom from these, it feels good. But, freedom is a long road. My wife Katie talks about her part as my wife in that journey here.

When someone asks me how to help someone find freedom from an addiction or the first steps in this process, here are the most important things:

They must want to be free. 

This may seem obvious, but everyone who asks for help in an area doesn’t truly want help. Too often people are looking for attention, wanting to be the victim or simply draw attention to something or someone. People like being helped and like being seen.

There was a guy who every week would post on his connection card at my church that he would like prayer for an addiction. This went on for over a year. I finally talked to him and asked, “How long is this going to be a prayer request? Are you doing anything to move away from this addiction?” The answer was no.

I knew a woman who said she wanted to be free from an addiction, yet every time I or someone else stepped in to give accountability or help her with it, she would balk. It wasn’t until she lost her job because of that addiction that something changed.

One thing I ask people is, “Are you willing to do whatever it takes to be free?” Any hesitation in the answer often shows a desire to stay in their addiction.

Freedom from an addiction is hard work. It might take years. You will always be in recovery, a moment away from wrecking your life and falling back into your addiction. I know that without boundaries I could very easily fall back into old patterns. The reason freedom is so hard is because those patterns have become an enormous part of our lives.

Identify the “why” behind their addiction. 

Often in talking about freedom, we jump to what to do. Things someone can and should do to be free. Accountability groups, software, cutting up credit cards, breaking off relationships with the wrong people, getting rid of a TV or certain clothes.

These have their place and are helpful.

If you don’t identify why you do something, you won’t find freedom from the real issue. 

That issue is your heart. For me, I simply traded a porn addiction for a food addiction. Both are dangerous and destructive in their own ways. The one main difference is that no one in a church will say anything to you if you put 100 pounds on in a year. Think of a vending machine of sins, going up and picking one. Without identifying the heart issues, we will simply do this.

What drives you to spend money you don’t have? To look at porn? To hoard your money? To work too much or too little? Why do you gossip and put people down? Why do you want to control everything?

The answer to these questions will identify the why behind any addiction you could fall into.

Identify the “when” of their addiction. 

The last thing someone needs to do is identify when they are most likely to fall into this. Closely related to the why question, understanding when you’ll do something will enable you to create an action plan. Are you most tempted when you are tired? In front of the TV? By yourself? With a certain friend? In a certain place? Where and when does it happen?

By identifying these things, you are able to uncover a good process to find freedom from the addictions that hamper your life.

What would you add? If someone asked you this question. 

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This Weekend @ Revolution || Finding Freedom

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This past week at Revolution Church was incredible as we looked at The Image of ChristmasIf you missed it, you can listen to it here. This week, we are continuing our series Image is Everything and looking at Ephesians 6:5 – 9 and talking about freedom. Here’s what’s happening:

  • The implications of what it means to be a Christian reaches into every aspect of life.  This brings a great deal of freedom and responsibility.  There is freedom because we know he is ultimately in control and nothing can happen to us that is outside of his Will. There is also great responsibility because we now know that we serve a Holy and perfect God who sees nothing as as trivial.  If you have put your trust in Jesus, you are one of his own, and there is not relationship or circumstance where we’re not called to live in light of His Lordship.
  • We also announced the series that is coming up next at Revolution: on January 13th, we are kicking off a brand new series on the book of Ecclesiastes called Meaning.
  • There’s still time to give to our Christmas Offering recently and I’m really excited about the response so far. For more information on what it is going to and how you can be involved, go here.
  • If you haven’t “Liked” the Revolution Fan Page on Facebook, do so now. It is one of the ways we communicate and pass on resources for sermons and other ways to help serve you in your spiritual growth.

This is definitely a week you don’t want to miss at Revolution Church. So, bring someone with you (you never know when a simple invite will make an eternal difference).

Remember, we meet at 8300 E. Speedway Blvd. at 10am.

Freedom From AND for Something

The implications of freedom for the Christian because of the gospel are vast and far-reaching, but essentially, according to the New Testament, the freedom is a reality effected in and through the Christ-event, which has broken the power of sin and neutralized the individual hostility against God; which at the same time has covered the guilt and stain of sin and erased the past; which has crushed all enslavement to self, to religious convention, to the present powers of evil, and to cosmic forces; and which has triumphed over every force that dominates humankind; including human mortality itself. But that is only one side of the coin – the “freedom from what?” side; there is also the significant “freedom for what?” side. It is infinitely complex in its outworking:  a Christian is now free to obey God in a radical fashion by serving his fellow human beings in selfless love. -E.J. Epp