Recent Reflections

I've been absent for a bit - sorry about that. We just completed Beeson Pastors School last week, and that's a week where my team puts in about 16 - 18 hour days for the week. I did four 90 minute workshops and a great deal of counseling over the week.

it is simultaneously rewarding and devastatingly discouraging. The porn workshop draws a crowd of curious onlookers, and the prerequisite number of people who complain that anyone dare talk about the facts of this plague. Never mind the fact that, statistically, the majority of attendees are hitting porn in their offices every week - we're not supposed to talk about it out loud, right?

The good news? Several pastors wanted to genuinely talk about how to help the men and women (yes, women too - 40% of all hard-core porn traffic is by females) begin to talk about and break free from the porn pit. Many others came to talk to me about their struggle and for advice on how and where to get help. Do you see the power of boasting in our weaknesses? Do you see the power of transparency? Do you see the power of the Gospel?

The discouraging news? There were so many more pastors, and a couple of wives, that I spoke with that were struggling. The problem was they would circle me in rooms, like vultures, waiting for there to be nobody around so they could talk to me. I know why they do this, but make a habit of asking anyway. The response is almost always the same - "Well, I can't be seen talking to YOU. You're the porn guy. If I'm seen talking to you, everyone will know I have a problem."

Do you see the narcissism? Do you see how addicts think that the entire world is always watching them? Do you see how they believe the world revolves around them? Now, I know this because I have been this way, and am still trying to die to this everyday.

I asked each one of them, "Well, you do, don't you?" And they responded, "Well, yeah." They are so trappped because ministers and their wives are not allowed to have problems - especially like porn or sex. If they get caught - they are fired. If they ask for help - they are fired. So, it is in their best interest to keep it all on the down-low and never let anyone know. The problem in that is that it is the power of secrecy and shame that keeps all addicts trapped in the chains of addiction. The only way out is to let the mask drop and shatter. The only way out is to admit you have a problem and you need help.

Most pastors are forced to live out a perpetrated perfection. Parishioners put pastors on pedestals and assume they live perfect little problem free lives. That, my friends, is crap. Nothing could be further from the truth. My main problem with that is that it denies the power of the Gospel. It is the antithesis of the Gospel. It negates justification. It cripples sanctification.

Here's a shocker for you - I'm about to be blunt... There's too much "church" and too much "Jesus" in our world today. Ok, now breathe and let me clarify. Christianity today is actually "Churchianity." It's the culture and not the Gospel.

We talk about Jesus and we toss His name around like rings that never quite hit the ringer. We go to Church instead of understanding that we are the church. We have made the Gospel a system of rules and regulations instead of the relationship Jesus really intended. Many of us believe that the Gospel is behavior modification and that, my friends, is also crap.

If the Gospel is about behavior modification - what happens when we blow it? What happens when we demonstrate our sinful nature? Are we no longer saved? Has our adoption by God been undone? Are we thrown out of the Kingdom? Are we no longer heirs with Christ? Absolutely not. Whether we are ministers, elders, deacons, teachers, or lay people does not matter.

We are justified in Christ, and are being sanctified the rest of our lives. We will blow it, but when we do, we have to remember Colossians 2 - the record of our sin was nailed to the cross of Christ. We are justified and we are to continue to place our human nature on the altar and allow our flesh to be crucified.

Jesus is not just a charm. Jesus is not just a name we cling to when we have blown it. Jesus is not just a name we cry for when we are in trouble. Jesus is not a magic word - not a substitute for "Abracadabra." Jesus is the one who loves us. It is Jesus' blood that justifies us. It is Jesus that hides us - we are hidden in Christ. When God looks at us, he sees Jesus. We wear his righteousness.

What anyone else thinks of us is irrelevant - our significance is in Christ. Not in what we do or don't do. Good, bad, indifferent - it makes no difference in where our significance lies.

We don't extend the Gospel in our world, and that's why it is making little difference today. We have made it about behavior modification, and that assumes that we are actually capable. What does Jesus say? "Apart from me you can do nothing." Nothing. Let that sink in for a bit.

According to Jesus, you are actually incapable of sitting on the sofa doing nothing without him. We cannot be couch potatoes without Jesus. Isn't that amazing? Jesus is so much bigger than we understand, isn't he?

The behavior modification pedaled by "Churchians" today is what he came to rail against. The law, by itself, is impotent to save us. Think about it this way - if the only reason I'm not looking at porn is because my accountability partners would catch me and be angry at me, then I'm screwed. I'll find a way around it, or at some point I may simply not care what they think about me.

Jesus says it is not about our behavior, it is about the condition of our hearts. It is not our behavior that changes first - it is our heart that must change, and our actions will follow our hearts. When we understand the work of Jesus on the cross, and we understand that all of our sin was paid for at that moment so that we are justified in God's eyes and the record of our sin was destroyed on the cross that ought to radically transform our hearts.

We ought to want anyone and everyone to understand that, but the sad facts are that too many pastors don't understand and live that today, and as a result, too many people don't understand that today. They are too busy hiding sin that has been paid for, and too busy doing things to make others think they have been captured from hell instead of pointing to the incredible work of Christ on the Cross so that God is glorified.

We can boast in our weaknesses! God is glorified in our weakness! If we have no weaknesses or failures, God was right to save us - He just has good taste. That's not the God I serve. I don't deserve it. That He chose to save me is incredible. I don't care who knows how much I didn't deserve it, and neither should you.

We have emasculated the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it breaks my heart. When people know we have problems, we can also tell them of our Savior. We can point to the Glory if his work on the cross for us, and the power of his resurrection. Can we, or more importantly will we, break out of trying to live out the concept of Christ and put on the character of Christ?

Abide, abide, abide, abide, abide, abide.

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