Poetry Saturday—He Leads Us On

Count Nicolaus Ludwig von ZinzendorfHe leads us on by paths we did not know;
Upward He leads us, though our steps be slow,
Though oft we faint and falter on the way,
Though storms and darkness oft obscure the day;
Yet when the clouds are gone,
We know He leads us on.

He leads us on through all the unquiet years;
Past all our dreamland hopes, and doubts and fears,
He guides our steps, through all the tangled maze
Of losses, sorrows, and o‘er clouded days;
We know His will is done;
And still He leads us on. —Nicolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf

10 Benefits From Suffering

Horatius BonarCommenting on one of the opening passages in Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth, Horatius Bonar shares ten benefits to Christians who will cling to God during times of suffering.

“The meaning and use of trial:

  1. It shows God to be in earnest with us. He does not let us alone. He takes great pains with our spiritual education and training. He desires fruit and progress.
  2. It assures us of His love.
  3. It draws us to prayer. When one member suffers all the others suffer with it. As soon as it is said, ‘such a brother or sister is in sorrow,’ all who hear of this begin to pray for the afflicted one. Thus sorrow becomes a magnet which attracts the prayers of the church.
  4. It knits us in sympathy to the whole body.
  5. It teaches us sympathy with brethren.
  6. It brings us into a mood more receptive of blessing. It makes our spirits tender, it softens our hearts, it makes our consciences alive, it empties us of adverse influences.
  7. It makes us prize the Word.
  8. It shuts out the world.
  9. It bids us look up.
  10. It turns our hope to the Lord’s great coming.”

Break Free From Porn—5 Quotes That Will Help You

The Porn CircuitThe Porn Circuit is a great book to make you aware of the dangers of pornography. You can read my full book review of this free downloadable book here, and check out the first set of quotes I shared by clicking here.

Here are some additional quotes specifically to help you break free from the hold pornography has on your life.

Your #1 strategy … LEARN TO HATE PORN!

Hate what it does to you, to your relationships, and to those involved in sex trafficking because of the porn industry.

#2 … Create some positive activities you can do when you’re tempted to look at porn.

“The prefrontal cortex is the decision-making logical part of the brain, and each time that a person resists temptation and each time a positive habit is reinforced, the prefrontal cortex gets stronger. That means a person’s willpower grows and the cues and cravings for porn use grow weaker.”

“This approach (of introducing positive habits) makes plastic sense because it grows a new brain circuit that gives pleasure and triggers dopamine release which, as we have seen, rewards the new activity and consolidates and grows new neural connections. This new circuit can eventually compete with the older one, and according to use it or lose it, the pathological networks will weaken. With this treatment we don’t so much ‘break’ bad habits as replace bad behaviors with better ones.” —Dr. Norman Doidge

“Whatever rewarding activity is pursued, it needs to be an activity that is reoccurring. Building new rewarding neural pathways requires time and ongoing repetition:

  1. Neurons that fire together wire together. Repeating a pleasurable activity instead of the compulsive activity, such as porn use, forms a new circuit that is gradually reinforced instead of the compulsion.
  2. Neurons that fire apart wire apart. When a person refuses to act on a compulsion, like porn and masturbation, it weakens the link between the activity and the idea that it will provide relief.”

#3 … Start using the 3-second rule.

“When watching TV, walking through the mall, or driving past billboards, temptation can strike when least expected. Many therapists recommend using the 3-Second Rule, which involves three steps:

  1. Alert: Realize that you see something inappropriate. It may only take a split-second to recognize a tempting situation.
  2. Avert: Close your eyes or look away. These first two steps should be instantaneous.
  3. Affirm: Give yourself a mental high-five to congratulate the effort. Say to yourself, ‘I saw that by mistake, and I quickly looked away. I’ve been clean for (xx number of days) and I’m going to stay that way.’”

3-Second Rule

#4 … Don’t forget to watch out for H.A.L.T. times.

“Physical care is vital to vigilance. HALT is the acronym often used by therapists to remind people of when they can be most vulnerable it stands for: hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Simply going to bed on a regular schedule to get a good night’s rest can help one’s brain be more focused on positive habits and more alert to fight temptations. Not only eating but also eating well can improve mood and feelings of well-being. Regular exercise keeps the mind more focused, the body feeling great, and improve sleep.”

Craig Groeschel On Online Gossip

#strugglesI love technology! I love how social media and my iPhone can keep me in touch with family and friends. But one of the dark sides to this easy access to technology is the ease with which people can gossip—or even slander!—people publicly online. In his book #struggles, Craig Groeschel has some good counsel for avoiding gossip.

“God is crystal clear on how He feels about gossip. Solomon said, ‘There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him…a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community’ (Proverbs 6:16, 19). What a perfect way to describe a gossip: ‘A false witness who pours out lies,’ and someone who ‘stirs up conflict in the community.’ God hates that.”

“The people being gossiped about hate it, and God hates it. So before you post, comment, or link, consider three sets of questions to keep yourself gossip-free online.

  1. Is what I’m about to say helpful or hurtful? Will this build others up or tear them down? What’s my intention behind what I’m about to type? [Ephesians 4:29]
  2. Am I making private matters public? Am I about to share something that would be better handled privately? [Proverbs 11:12-13]
  3. Am I permitting—maybe even encouraging—others to gossip? It’s not only wrong to dish it out; it’s also wrong to eat it up. Notice that this verse [Proverbs 17:4] doesn’t say that only gossipers are wrongdoers. No, it says wrongdoers are also those who ‘listen to gossip.’ It’s not just wrong to spread gossip; it’s wrong to consume it. Why? Because what you permit, you promote.”

You can read my review of #struggles by clicking here. I have also posted other quotes from this book here and here.

Confession: I Struggle With Being An Atheist

ITLWYou see, I love my day to be highly organized. I like to get to all my meetings on time, and then have them run smoothly and efficiently. I like to setup my To Do list, and then methodically check off each item as I go through my day. I like to be in charge of my day.

I am an atheist.

I’m the one calling the shots. I set my agenda. I determine my day. I decide who to see and what project to accept.

There was a guy that Jesus talked about who did the exact same thing. This guy thought to himself and talked to himself all about his plans. Seriously, in just three verses he says me/I/my a dozen times (Luke 12:17-19)!

But God said, “You fool!” The word for fool means without mind. He didn’t mind his mind. He thought the thoughts he wanted to think, without ever consulting anyone else. Not even God.

Jesus made prayer a priority every day (Mark 1:35). What do you think He prayed? Do you think He said, “Here’s what I’m going to do today, and I want You to bless it, Father”? No way!

When Jesus taught us to pray He said, Your kingdom come, Your will be done” (Matthew 6:9-13). Not only did Jesus pray this way, He lived this way too. He didn’t do a single thing unless His Father directed Him to do it (John 6:38), and He didn’t say a single word unless His Father directed Him to say it (John 12:49).

The problem is not going into my prayer closet to meet with God in the morning, the problem is thinking I can leave God in the closet as I go about my day! That is atheism!

The Apostle James gave us this sound counsel: Instead of making my plans all on my own, I should say, “If the Lord wills, this is what I will do today” (James 4:13-17). And wise King Solomon said I shouldn’t lean on my own thoughts when planning my days, but lean onto God, and then watch to see how He will direct my life in the right way (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I’ve begun writing I.T.L.W. on the top of my daily calendar. It’s my reminder to say, “If The Lord Wills” this is what I will do today. And if something else comes up, I quickly acknowledge that God is directing my path where He needs me to go.

Your Kingdom come means my kingdom has to go. Your will be done means my agenda takes a distant second.

If you’re feeling stressed about your schedule, that should be your reminder to pray: “God, what do you want to have done here.” Silence the atheistic thoughts that sound like, “I have to get my list done.” Stop and pray right there on the spot.

Here’s the full video of my message on this topic—

We will be continuing our series called Practical Prayer this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in Cedar Springs, please come be our guest. Or you can tune into our live broadcast via Periscope.

Poetry Saturday—Preventing Mercies

IMG_4992The sorrows, that to us seem so perplexing,
   Are mercies kindly sent
To guard our wayward souls from sadder vexing,
   And greater ills prevent.

To save us from the pit, no screen of roses
   Would serve for our defense,
The hindrance that completely interposes
   Stings back like thorny fence.

At first when smarting from the shock, complaining
   Of wounds that freely bleed,
God’s hedges of severity us paining
   May seem severe indeed.

But afterwards, God’s blessed springtime cometh,
   And bitter murmurs cease;
The sharp severity that pierced us bloometh,
   And yields the fruits of peace. —Hugh Macmillan

11 More Quotes From “#struggles”

#strugglesCraig Groeschel nailed the tension between technology and relationships in his timely book #struggles. He doesn’t advocate getting rid of technology, but he does make a great case for not allowing technology to diminish our flesh-and-blood relationships. You can read my review of #struggles by clicking here. Below are some more quotes that caught my eye from this book.

“The highest percentage of consumers of pornography our children aged twelve to seventeen.”

“We have access to many opportunities online that—without accountability—can turn technological blessings into curses.”

“Over time and with repeated use, technology is eroding both our moral beliefs and our commitment to acting on what we believe. According to one study, ‘Roughly two-thirds (67 percent) of young adult men and one-half (49 percent) of young adult women now believe that viewing pornography is acceptable.’ … Times have changed. But that doesn’t mean morality should.” 

“If you want to live in a way that honors our Savior—if you want to follow Jesus in a sin-saturated, selfie-centered world—then you will have to be different. … Our convictions must be guided by God’s timeless principles, not by the ever-eroding popular opinion on whatever happens to be acceptable now.”

“Most people I know you don’t plan to ruin their lives. I don’t know anyone who thinks, ‘If I can connect with an old boyfriend on Facebook, I can totally wreck my life. I can almost guarantee an ugly divorce full of expensive lawyers helping us fight over custody rights for the kids. I can devastate my husband and drop a nuclear bomb of pain into my kids’ lives. And I can spend the next years of my life trying to forgive myself, rebuild my life, and regain my name.’ No one plans like that, but these things happen every day. Same with pornography. I don’t know a single man who wanted to crush the wife he loves when she discovered his ‘little secret.’ But one glance followed by another click often leads to an addiction that seems impossible to overcome.”

“When you think about it, no one stumbles into righteousness. People fall into sin and every day. But no one just falls into holiness. It requires making deliberate, prayerful choices and walking an intentional path.”

“Here’s what many people miss: when we misuse technology, we’re robbing ourselves of the peace we so desperately crave, because even the momentary escape is followed by waves of intense guilt. We want to numb the pain, but on the other side of our binge, the pain is still there, only worse. We love the momentary distraction, but then reality screams at us and our responsibilities pile up. We love the thrill of the lust, but the fear of getting caught haunts us and robs us of sleep and peace. Like a person dying of thirst who gulps salt water, that which is supposed to satisfy only intensifies our need. So life goes on as usual. More stress. More anxiety. More worries. And less peace.”

“Now is a great time to be brutally honest. Are you addicted to something online? Looking lustfully? Spending uncontrollably? Surfing endlessly? Playing continually? Gambling consistently? Scrolling incessantly?”

“If you are checking multiple times a day to see what people are saying about you, let’s call that what it is: idolatry. If your identity comes more from who follows you, who Likes you, what they say and what they think about you rather than who God says you are, it’s time to take this issue to God.”

“When our minds are idle, we’re not thinking about anything meaningful, and when we’re not intentionally living, it can be so easy to shift into neutral. When we don’t have a specific destination in mind, any road will do. And if our time and our resources aren’t precious, if we’re not doing anything important, it can be so easy to just pick up our phone, unlock the screen, and wonder aimlessly through cyberspace, wasting our time and our thoughts.”

“Maybe it’s time to power down and take a cyber Sabbath. Maybe it’s time to remember what life is like without your phone, tablet, or laptop. Maybe it’s time for your soul to rest.”

You can check out the other quotes I shared from #struggles by clicking here.

9 Quotes From “The Porn Circuit”

The Porn CircuitThe Porn Circuit is a marvelous ebook (and it’s a free download!) which shows the biological, emotional, and relational dangers of pornography. This is a great book to help protect you from the entanglements of porn, and it’s also a great help for those who want to break a porn addiction. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are some of the quotes that caught my eye.

“Between 14,500 and 17,500 sex slaves are trafficked into the US each year. Another 300,000 American children are at risk for trafficking each year.”

“Our biggest sexual organ rests between our ears. The brain is where we truly experience intimacy, pleasure, love, and satisfaction. But it is also where we create negative feelings, bad habits, destructive compulsions, and addictions.”

“People, unlike any other animal, were designed to have sex with their spirit, soul, and body, says sex addiction therapist Dr. Doug Weiss…. Porn not only leaves out the spirit and soul, but also the tenderness and love expressed through a spouse’s body, their words, their giving, and on and on. Unlike real intimacy, there are multiple parts missing from the pornography puzzle.”

“It should be no surprise that pornography use is correlated with a 318% increase in infidelity.”

“Though not true for everyone, many porn users find they need a greater amount or more intense porn to activate a state of arousal. The brain has decided after multiple porn excursions that this amount of dopamine is excessive. So it has reduced the amount of dopamine in response to porn, and it has reduced the number of dopamine receptors for the neural circuits associated with porn use. To escape this desensitization, people, and men especially, expand their pornographic tastes to more novel stimuli. What was once considered hard core…is now considered mundane.”

“Like a path is created in the woods with each successive hiker, so do the neural paths set the course for the next time an erotic image is viewed. Over time these neural paths become wider as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography. They become the automatic pathway through which interactions with women are routed. The neural circuitry anchors this process solidly in the brain. … All women become potential porn stars in the minds of these men. They have unknowingly created a neurological circuit that imprisons their ability to see women rightly.” —Dr. Williams Struthers

“Pornographers promise healthy pleasure and relief from sexual tension, but what they often deliver is an addiction, tolerance, and an eventual decrease in pleasure. Paradoxically, the male patients I worked with often craved pornography but didn’t like it.” —Dr. Norman Doidge

“Dr. Dolf Zillmann reports when young people are repeatedly exposed to pornography, it can have a long-lasting impact on their beliefs and behaviors. Frequently, men who habitually view pornography develop cynical attitudes about love and the need for affection between partners. They began to view the institution of marriage as sexually confining. Often, men develop a ‘tolerance’ for sexually explicit material, leading them to seek out more novel or bazaar material to achieve the same level of arousal.”

“You will never destroy an enemy you embrace.” —Dr. Doug Weiss

Coming soon: some quotes from The Porn Circuit to help you break free from pornography’s hold on your life.

21 Days Of Prayer For Life

Prayer for lifeJanuary is Sanctity Of Human Life Month. I hope you are thinking about how you can support life-affirming causes this month. There are several great things you can do: financially support a pregnancy resource center (PRC), volunteer your time at a PRC, be aware of how your elected officials are voting.

And pray!

Prayer is the most powerful life-affirming activity we have at our disposal, because we pray to our Life-sustaining God! The Colson Center has put together a 21-day prayer for life guide. I encourage you to download this guide and then pray for life.

Download your free 21-day prayer for life guide here → 21 days of prayer for life

Here are some other resources for you:

  • To find local pregnancy centers, maternity homes or other similar resources in your area, visit helpinyourarea.com.
  • To participate in a 40 Days for Life prayer vigil near your home, visit 40daysforlife.com.
  • To get involved with Students for Life, visit studentsforlife.org.
  • If you know someone who is hurting from abortion, Bible studies such as Her Choice to Heal by Sydna Masse (for women) and SaveOne by Sheila Harper (for both women and men) provide spiritually based intervention that lead to healing.
  • For information on pro-life issues, visit the National Right to Life at nrlc.org and personhood.com.

The Porn Circuit (book review)

The Porn CircuitThere is scientific data, as well as anecdotal data, from researchers and therapists that pornography is an unfulfilling, relationship-destroying, life-controlling habit. Porn is NOT, as some people try to lead us to believe, harmless fun nor is it a victimless indulgence. The data about porn’s destructive potential, and the good news on how to break free from its stranglehold, is the subject Sam Black covers in an easy-to-read ebook called The Porn Circuit

Don’t let the mention of scientific data keep you from downloading this book. You don’t need a biology or chemistry background, because Sam Black explains the brain science of pornography in a way that anyone can grasp. The bottom line: porn is fooling your brain into false pleasure, and creating an addiction that can destroy your life just as easily as an addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or any other life-controlling substance.

But the good news is you can break the hold of porn on your life! After Sam lays out the case of how destructive pornography can be for your life and relationships, he then shares some solid strategies for getting the help you need to break free.

This is a FREE downloadable book from Covenant Eyes, so there is no reason for you not to download it right now. Click here to go to ebook page.

Don’t let pornography ruin your life. Get help to get free.

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