I was cutting the grass a couple of summers ago and got the scare of my life. at the time the yard of my house looked like a swamp area. my shrubs looked like they had afros. my oldest son was two years old at the time (he's four now). josiah dragged his little plastic lawnmower into the yard and was cutting the grass alongside daddy. then he abandoned it to head for the street in front of our house.
josiah and i have had the talk. i’ve gotten on a knee, looked him in the eye, pointed to the street and tapped it with my finger. i’ve warned him of the dangers of it. i’ve done that countless number of times. i’ve gently cupped his face in my hands, propped his head in front of mine, told him to look daddy in the eye, and said, “buddy, never, ever, ever, ever, ever get near this street. it can give you bad boo-boos and hurt you. it will make daddy sad and upset if you get near the street. I care about you so much. I love you enough that I will spank you in order to keep you out of the street.”
he still didn’t get it though. he didn’t buy into my facts about the danger of the street. so he ventured up to the street and walked alongside it. it’s like he wanted to test what i told him. he wanted to see (experience) for himself. at the same time an suv was driving toward him. christie went running after him. i shut the lawnmower off and began shouting and running after him too. but there was no urgency for him to run. he just looked at us like we were clueless. he wasn’t so sure he bought into the fact that the street could cost him his life.
i think of proverbs 7 which deals with sexual sin. being on the road so much, sexual temptation and opportunites abound. ministers have crashed and burned due to travel temptations. just this past weekend i got news of another youth pastor crashing and burning due to adultery with an intern.
for you out there in jesusfreak land, know this. you don’t have to travel far for these opportunities to seduce you. the opportunities lurk in bible studies and church congregations.
Solomon said to the young men (it applies to young women too), “Listen to me, my sons (and daughters), and pay attention to my words. Don’t let your hearts stray toward her (or him, or porn, or fantasy). Don’t wander down herwayward paths. For she has been the ruin of many; numerous men have been her victims. Her house is the road to the grave. Herbedroom is the den of death.” Proverbs 7:24-27; NLV
Fact:: If you venture into the street of sexual sin you can ruin your life, your mind, your soul. Sexual sin (this includes porn) has been the ruin of many. Few, very few, are the exception. The odds are you won't be either. Sexual sin is the road to the grave. The den of death. These are the facts.
For our third "We Recommend" Blog, we have Rock N Roll Worship Circus' (now The Listening) with their 2004 EP, The Listening. This EP was the beginning of the transitions from the Rock N Roll Worship Circus to their current state as "The Listening." It was an amazing metamorphosis. A dark but hopeful and ultimately beautiful collection of songs with a fresh heart for worship. "I Love The Rain" is easily the best song on the EP and one that shouldn't be quickly forgotten.
Anyone else familiar with this record? Let us know if you recommend it!
Also, be sure to check out The Listening's latest EP Transmission #1 which the band independently released.
Rock N Roll Worship Circus (The Listening) The Listening EP (2004)
Our synopsis: "By far my favorite CD of 2004, this is one unique worship record that breaks molds." (Recommended by JFH's John DiBiase) Perfect For: Intimate Worship, Bold Faith Song Highlights: What's not a highlight?! "I Love The Rain" is still one of my favorite songs of all time.
So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album The Listening EP? Do you recommend it? If so, why?
When was the last time you had a spiritual conversation with someone outside the faith? It had been a while for me too. I was mostly consumed by perfecting my Christian "duties" and trying not to sin. If that sounds shallow, it is. And it's not the fullness of living the gospel. I was self absorbed spiritually. I found myself in the hot-tub of Christian subculture. Been there?
Then I took a look at Jesus. Jesus was completely un-self absorbed. He didn't soak in the hot tub of religious subculture. He entered and waded through the mess of people's lives, pain, and sin. He came to seek and save that which was lost. His life was on mission. Crooks, drunks, prostitutes, and the average "Joe six-pack" (sorry, I couldn't help myself) never rolled their eyes at Jesus, shook their heads, and walked out of the room. In front of Jesus these people told off-color jokes, I'm sure. They cussed. They drank too much. But they felt comfortable with Jesus and enjoyed His company. Could this be said of me? Of you?
There was no such thing as busyness or distraction with Jesus. Even when Jesus was worn-out and hungry he never turned inward, moody, or bitter. He was on mission to have conversations to bring people into repentance, belief in the gospel, and joining him in the kingdom movement. This was his DNA. Funny what wears me out is the opposite. It's all the Christian things I do and Christian venues I attend that saps my drive and drains my energy...just like what happens to your body when in the hot tub too long. The Christian subculture easily becomes my life. Then places and opportunities outside of it are what become distractions, obstacles, a fear of potential temptations to sin, and a burden.
But Jesus got into the thick of it. He looked for every possible way to have spiritual conversations. He picked up on vines, fig trees, bread, fish, religion, work, wine, parties, tragedy, death, sickness, coins, sheep, birds, flowers, weeds, spices, family, friendship, water, light, wind, fire, evil, children, spirituality, sex, war, taxes, and so forth. Jesus watched for opportunities, created opportunities, and embraced opportunities to have spiritual conversations. He made some people think, some he gave hope, some he told to repent, some he called them to sacrifice, some he condemned for their self-righteousness. Everything was spiritual to Jesus. Conversations couldn't help but follow.
Jesus knew nothing of a 4 week program to learn how to have a spiritual conversation. He taught and led his disciples in the context of everyday life. Ministry wasn't relegated to Sundays.. It was a way of life. It was His DNA. Spiritual conversations isn't something you do once a week on Tuesday nights. Nor is it yelling at people leaving the Katy Perry concert. Jesus didn't leave a gospel tract on water wells after he took a sip. He engaged. He ministered. He loved. He conversed. And he looked for any open door, indeed even pushed the door open himself at times, to take the conversation into the kingdom realm.
Likewise, Jesus didn't do what many do. He didn't pull out his "compassion, love, and evangelism" game card and polish it off on a mission trip to Samaria or the inner city. And He didn't term ministry as only serving the poor, downcast, and homeless. Although this was of monumental importance, it was not the "end all, be all" of His life. Jesus' life was on mission to people deep in sin, the average wage-earner, and His followers. Not just the poor. The everyday is where and the every person is whom Jesus impacted powerfully too.
This is the journey I'm on right now. Getting out of the hot tub and living everyday life as a mission and ministry. It's watching for opportunities, creating opportunities, and embracing opportunities for spiritual conversations as a way of life so that people might come from outside faith in Jesus and into faith in Jesus. It's a mission to have spiritual conversations with the Baristas at the coffee shop, the neighbors across the street, the co-worker on the other side of the cubicle, the dude on the bar stool, the riders at the Harley gathering.
Thoughts? I hope you'll check back soon. Thanks for reading.
Many probably don't realize Skillet has been around since 1996 (the same year JFH came into existence, actually!), and I have fond memories of listening to this record a lot when it released. They were just a three-piece then and several years would still go by before frontman John Cooper's keyboard playing wife Korey would join the band.
Anyone else familiar with this record? Let us know if you recommend it!
Our synopsis: "Every great band has their beginnings. This debut is still a fun grunge rock record to listen to." (Recommended by JFH's John DiBiase) Perfect For: Forgiveness, Surrender, Faith Song Highlights: "I Can" is still an amazing reminder of Christ's forgiveness, "Gasoline," "Promise Blender" is a wonderful reminder of God's faithfulness when we are not...
So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album Skillet? Do you recommend it? If so, why?
Have you ever been driving down the road, your thoughts being neither here nor there, and then it hits you. Instantly you're reminded that you're hungry and what you're hungry for. That's right... It's McDonald's french fries. As you see the golden arches just up ahead you know that those french fries are just what you need, but one look at the clock tells you that you don't have time to consider this little endeavor any further.. and you cruise past. Ten minutes later, you still have that rumble in your stomach but the thought of those fries is gone.
Often it's like that for me and having a clear vision. I can talk about my vision for my ministry in broad, sweeping strokes. However, the nuts and bolts of that vision are fleeting. They'll gently waft into my head (like the smell of french fries), but when the time comes to start putting it down and working it out those specific concepts, dreams, and ideas (the french fries) just aren't there.
It's something that I need to get better at. It's something I'm trying to get better at. It's something a lot of Christians need to get better at. We talk about seeing people come to Christ. We talk about changing culture. We talk about making the world a better place, but how do we do that? Our instincts usually come up with something like "Pray more and try harder." How... ineffective.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking prayer, but God doesn't want us to just have a seat and pray for Him to take care of it. He wants us to pray for a vision, for a plan, and then go get it. He's a God who has asked us to join Him in His mission.
One of my favorite quotes comes from a video for a book called "The Vision & The Vow." It says "They work as if it all depended on them, and pray because it all depends on God."
... but it's all for not without clear vision and a clear plan. Maybe it's time for us (me) to stop throwing our prayers at lofty abstract dreams and rather pray for God to give us a clear vision and a clear plan... with a side of fries.
Just hit me with it. If you have something to say don’t dance around the subject. Just come out with it. Look me in the eye, don’t mince words, and let me have it.
Confront me. I don’t need to be “talked to” about it. I live in an age where sexual temptation and sexual sin is all up in my business. But no one is in my face calling me out to flee it, fight it, fess it, and repent of it. So come with it. Hurt my feelings and tick me off. I need it.
It’s time for men to be men. We need repentant men who are repeat champions over sexual sin. And we need these men to grab others by the collar, look them in the eye, call their sin out, and demand they not ruin their life.
And I’m not talking accountability. Accountability is often overstressed and overrated. Think about it: A couple of guys chat over coffee and dreadfully approach the topic of, say, porn. Following then is the most common response in all of Christendom: “I’m still struggling.”
That little phrase is ultimately a cop out, particularly on the heels of weeks of accountability. Where’s the dude who’ll say, “What do you mean you’re still struggling? Quit being a pervert. Be a freakin’ man. Tell me three things you are going to do this week to flee it and fight it? And do not just say ‘pray.’ “
Porn and other sexual sin will ruin a man’s Christian testimony, mind, relationships, and indeed his whole life. If that doesn’t warrant getting in a guy’s face to save him from himself then what will? “The wounds of a friend can be trusted,” says Solomon (Proverbs 27:6).
When I was a college basketball player I can vividly remember my coach in my face with his finger in my chest calling out my mistakes, my laziness, my lack of execution, and my excuses. He’d have my full attention. I’d then be resolved to carry out his instruction. My motivation was a mix of obedience, fear, and passion to succeed. He was pushing me to compete at a level above my potential. I guarantee that if he only took me out for coffee, listened with gentle nodding and understanding as I rambled about my “struggling,” and then placed his hand on my shoulder and prayed for me, I would not have achieved anything. Sometimes, it takes “man-talk” to get the attention of man’s mind and heart. When it comes to sexual sin I want to, no, I need to be talked to like a man, not a puppy.
The heart is the main issue, no doubt. But to just pray with and encourage the man who continues in his sinful “I’m still struggling” pattern will not cut it. He doesn’t need a hug. He needs to be shaken. He doesn’t need a pat on the back. He needs a finger in the chest.
Where are these men?
If you would like to learn more about how to wage war against pornography and other types of sexual sin, my new book, 13 Ways To Ruin Your Life, is now available for free download at www.13waystoruinyourlife.com.
Welcome to the first ever "We Recommend" Blog! For a few years now, we've selected a record that we feel is well worth a recommendation from one (or more) of the JFH staff to YOU and placed it in a little box on the front page of Jesusfreakhideout.com. Well, we've decided it's about time to include you guys into the mix as well. How so? Well, here's the deal...
"We Recommend" includes our little one-line review plus a sort of "prescription," if you will. If you're looking for more thoughtful music or a worship record we feel breaks out of the box, we might specify that the record is "Perfect For" just that. Need a pick-me-up? Perhaps we know a record that works for us. So here's where YOU come in.
Each week, we will continue recommending a different record and then post a blog for it here for YOU to comment on how the record has affected you. But please keep in mind - *This is NOT FOR YOUR OWN REVIEWS* We're not looking for Reader Reviews here at all. This is where you can share on how a song or the whole album has affected you, maybe touched you in a certain way, and how you would recommend it to someone else (we won't approve comments that are just posts of reviews). Also, is this the first time you're even hearing about the record we're recommending? Let us - and others - know what you think about it you get a chance to check it out.
Anyway, here's the first one. Since Sixpence None The Richer is back this week with a new Christmas album, how about their 1997 self-titled gem!
Sixpence None The Richer Sixpence None The Richer (1997)
Our synopsis: "This record put them on the map. Artistic, melancholy, and lovely, this one's memorable indeed." (Recommended by JFH's John DiBiase) Perfect For: Rainy days, Romantic relationships, Patience, Perseverance. Song Highlights: "The Waiting Room," "Sister, Mother," "Love," among others...
So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album Sixpence None The Richer? Do you recommend it? If so, why?
It's kind of a mind-blowing concept to realize the God who created the earth and every thing and everyone on it wants to spend time with us... even me?!
As a married man (with no children) who spends a lot of his time alone at a desk, one little guy keeps me company more than any other earthly being -- a little guinea pig named Chewie. My wife and I picked him out and took him home in the Spring of 2005, and he's been wreaking havoc and spreading love from his tiny little caged world ever since. This year, Chewie seems to have developed even more of a personality and even more unique habits than I've ever seen in a small pet, let alone from a guinea pig. Now, when I sit at my desk for the first time each day, he'll often be eating or sleeping (ah, the life!), but after a short while, he will run to a side door of his cage that faces my side of the desk, stand up against it, and wait there for a few moments to see if I'll notice him. I usually do, and when I open the door, he remains standing at it, waiting for some attention and affection from me (photo of Chewie at the open door). Recently, when I opened the door one day to pet the little guy (who purred like a kitten with great contentment), another simple Biblical life lesson slapped me across the face (figuratively, of course) and reminded me -- HE just wants to spend time with me (and... you!).
A devotional by Charles Stanley that I just read on Sunday brought to mind the scripture in Revelation 3:20 where Jesus says, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." Stanley points out in his writings that in no other religion/belief system does God seek us out. It made me feel rather ashamed that I tend to take that for granted. And sure, a cute furry little guinea pig has grown attached to me enough to stand at his green wire-framed door and wait for me to stop widdling away at JFH responsibilities and show him a little attention... but the God of all creation is doing the same thing? Waiting for us to drop what we're doing, sit at Daddy's feet, and just spend time with Him? Wow.
Even as I've worked harder at spending more time with Him in a little quiet time every day, the amount of time does tend to vary by circumstance and day, and it can be discouraging to feel like I fall short and put Him on the back burner some days when I get too busy or the routine shifts or whatever the case may be. Recently, a dear friend brought up a similar concern to a mentor of ours at Bible study, who kindly reassured her that God will always be there -- will always welcome us back. Like the story of the prodigal son, and in really any real life situation where you have a spouse or friend or child who is too busy for you one day, you'll still welcome their company if and when they try to give it the next day. Rest assured: Jesus will always welcome your time and attention... but we can't take this for granted. We need to make time for Him. Whatever the cost.
Hopefully that will encourage some of you. Go sit at His feet today!
There is the feeling of uncertainty and a lack of security that might not have been there before. I start to wonder about my mortgage - about whether or not I'll be able to continue to put food on the table for my family. I know a lot of industry gets effected by recession but what about rock music? Do people still go to concerts if the stock market crashes? Sometimes I get the idea that insurance and savings plans will continue to supply me with stability and protection- safeguards and defense that will always be around. But now we're all asking similar questions - what if the bottom drops out?
And then the bigger questions come for me - is this what I'm putting my hope in? Is my sense of security contingent upon what happens with stocks and bonds on a street in New York City? Or is there something else that I can depend on and put my confidence in?
For any disquieted souls like my own that are reading here - remember, we have a hope and a certainty. There is an economy called grace that won't go into recession - grace won't let you down. It's possible to depend entirely on the wealth and resources of a kingdom that will never experience economic decline. Hope is with us in these hard times, in the rubble of our broken dreams and failed accomplishment - reminding us of sights yet unseen.