I'm Not In The Mood

I’m not in the mood. I’d have to say that for me this is true more often than not.

I love my Savior! I desperately need his life-giving Word to survive this roller-coaster life! I need to hear his Truth speak into me. Yet, the reality is still there: many times when it comes to sitting down and opening up my Bible I’m just not in the mood.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I don’t know all the right reasons to study the Bible, but some days it's too easy to just not care.

It’s more appealing to just do something easier. It's more appealing to just do something more relaxing. It’s more convenient to just use that time to check something off my list of to-do’s for the day.

It’s just too easy to skip doing what should be the most important part of my day. 

sleepy
sleepy

I have a hard time thinking of any of the worthwhile and important things in my life that came easy. Things like: building a good marriage, making it through labor and delivery, raising children, graduating from college and the list goes on. No, the worthwhile things in my life have not come out of a lazy night of TV on the couch, they have come out of hard work and choosing to do what is best, even if that is not the EASY route.

The same is true for getting into the Bible.

If you are waiting until the perfect spot opens up in your day to read God’s Word, it just isn’t going to happen. If you are waiting until your heart is right and you “want” to read the Bible, many days that isn't going to happen. If you are waiting for your spouse to take the lead and encourage you to read the Bible together, you could wait for a long time. You see the last thing Satan wants us to do is open up that book. He doesn’t want us to hear the truth of what God has to say. He doesn’t want us to know what God’s idea of normal is. He doesn’t want us to be refreshed, reminded of the joy of our salvation, repentant of our sins, or ready for battle. He wants us to be lazy, complacent, and filled up by other things; things that have no real power to change our lives.

Many days you may not be in the mood to read your Bible. However, please don’t let that stop you from doing it anyway. There is truly nothing more important than spending time sitting at the feet of our Lord and letting his powerful Word change your life. Because it will. You cannot read the Word of God without being changed.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. - Isaiah 55:10-11

There is real power in God's Word. Power to change our hearts; power to change the things we care about; power to revive our marriages; power to make us better parents; power to enable us to do wild and crazy things for the Kingdom of God.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12

We live in a world steeped with sin and the only way to combat falling into the current of the world is to hold tightly to the TRUTH of God’s Word. And the only way we can know and hide that TRUTH deep in our hearts is by reading and meditating on the Bible as often as possible.

The reality is that it takes hard work, persistence, and many times forgoing the easy or relaxing option, for what we know is truly the BEST option. So many other things vie for our time and energy, so we need to be on guard against the distractions and excuses that come up. If you don’t have room in your schedule to spend time in your Bible, then you need to cut back on something else to make time for that. If you find yourself blocking out the nights of your favorite primetime TV shows, but not getting in the Word, you need to reevaluate your priorities. If you and your spouse make time for all your favorite hobbies, but don’t spend time in the Word together, you are missing out on the best part of marriage.

If you are like me and just fall into the trap of being "not in the mood" join me in praying for strength, overcoming laziness and getting in the habit of opening up the pages of the Bible anyway. I can guarantee you will NEVER be disappointed that you did. The coolest thing is that God's Word even has the power to change how we feel about his Word. The more we are drinking from the Spring of Life, the more we are drawn back to it, the more we are drawn back to it, the more we hide God's Word in our heart where no one can take it from us.

Are you normal?

What is normal? A three bedroom, two bathroom house? Two kids, two cars, and a dog? Going to college? Working hard to establish a great career? I bet we could all agree on many things we could call “normal” but who decides what “normal” is? The media and our society, that’s who.

Twenty years ago it would have been crazy to walk through the mall to see a 20ft tall picture of a woman in nothing but a skimpy bra and underwear. Now it’s “normal” because we are used to seeing it. Ten years ago it was crazy to show homosexuals kissing on TV. Now it’s "normal" because we see it all the time.

For us Christians, we have a difficult road ahead of us. You see, the world wants to dictate to us, what is ok and acceptable and what is not. However, there is one huge problem with that:

God doesn't care one iota what the world says is normal. He created the entire universe for HIMSELF and for HIS glory. (Romans 11:36)

This world is not for us and our whims and ideas, but for his GLORY and his PURPOSE. He gets to decide what is good, what is right and what is acceptable. That is just the way it is.

This is not always an easy truth to accept. In fact, everything in us wants to have a part in deciding what is best for us. Don’t we? From the very beginning when we see Satan tempting Adam and Eve in the garden he says: “Did God really say?” (Gen 3:1).

Or in other words:

“God didn’t really mean that.”

“That might be a good suggestion, but don’t try to tell me there aren’t other good ways of doing it.”

“God might have said that, but he doesn’t really want what’s best for you. He is a mean, unloving God who wants to keep you away from the best this world has to offer.”

Satan is sneaky and he gets us at our weakest; thinking we know what’s best; thinking we can have the blessings of God, but still set the rules for our own life.  However, we have been given the Bible, the divinely inspired, PERFECT Word of God. It is meant to guide every single aspect of our lives from how we interact with our neighbors to how we spend our money to what we do with our time.

I would guess that 99% of the people reading this blog would agree with me on this point, but here is where I’d like to challenge you. If we spend most of our free time immersed in the world and only spend an hour or two on Sunday hearing the truth of God’s Word, do you really think we will look much different from the world? The truth is that our normal will probably look much more like the worlds version of it, rather than God’s version of it. If we are going to combat the strong current we are up against, we need to know and study the Word of God often and with fervor.

Bible
Bible

How do we expect to live lives for God if we have no idea what the Bible says about a godly life? How can we make sure we are attending a church that preaches the truth of the Bible if we never read the Bible for ourselves? How can we expect to model our lives after God’s design if we don’t know what his design is? How can we have strong marriages if we don’t know what God says about loving each other? How can we choose the right priorities if we have no idea what kind of life God calls Christians to live? How can we stand against compromise and temptation if we don’t have the power of God’s Word? Jesus defeated the lies of Satan by using God’s Word as his sword. We need to do the same. But how do we expect to battle if we never pick up our swords; if they sit dusty and lying on the shelf?

This is a call to action; to pick up your Bible; to get comfortable wielding that powerful sword; to become familiar with its truths, and promises. The Bible needs to be the foundation of every single aspect of our life. God's Word is what decides what is normal and what is not. If we call ourselves Christians, then there really is no other way. There is nothing more powerful and world changing than the Church equipped and going out in love with the truth and authority of God's Word. That’s when lives start changing. That’s when radical changes start happening in the world. That's when God's kingdom comes "on earth, as it is in heaven." Don’t you want to be a part of that?

"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth." - Deuteronomy 11:18-20

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Overcoming Pornography: The Moment of Truth

FIGHT2Header My husband will pen the next few posts on this topic. For years, neither of us wanted to talk about porn. We had no desire to be vocal about its part in our life, let alone talk to others about it.  But the power of God and the joy of the freedom found in him, bring out our feeble voices. So, this is our story and we are fervently praying it will encourage others with their own stories. Jesus has overcome all darkness and with his strength, you can too.

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This is a continuation of last week's post. If you missed it, you can read it here: Overcoming Pornography: The Struggle

The Moment of Truth

I call it the moment of truth because in one instant what had been hidden in darkness for so many years was brought into the light. It was also the moment that Truth set me free. When I look back at that moment, I see it as the beginning of the end. Years later, it has proven be a triumphant instant, and I am so thankful it happened. However, placing myself back in that room that evening, I remember it as it really was, a moment of overwhelming shame, of total fear, and much silence.

God was present that night. I had no intentions of telling my fiancé about my struggle. I was still living in self-denial that somehow I’d overcome it before we were married or, if not, maybe marriage would solve it. But God placed the thought of confession in my head and it grew all night until I spontaneously told her.

Her shock and hurt were expected and awful, but God was still there and He filled my fiancé with grace and she forgave me. I was able to leave her that night so thankful to know I hadn’t lost my best friend.

God’s Refining

While I spent all the days after trying to earn back her trust and restore our wounded relationship, God was unknowingly continuing His plan of redemption in my life, and it all began with a simple swollen finger.

Sickness

It was during this same time that one of my fingers swelled up for no known reason. I went to the doctor and they figured I must have injured it, so they recommended taping it and letting it heal. This didn’t work and the swelling remained.

Fast-forward a year. I’m now married and the swelling had spread to numerous fingers, my wrists and toes. The inflammation in my feet was particularly bad and made walking quite painful, forcing me to limp around all day. I was seeing one specialist after another and was being put on one drug after another, but nothing was working and to make matters worse all the different medications had only left me feeling more sick.

Unemployment

While this was happening, I was struggling to find a job. During my final semester at college I had been interviewing for a great position at a good company and was nearing the end of the interview process. I was supposed to meet with the president of the company (I was hoping it was to shake hands on the job), but suddenly two weeks went by with no word from them. The call finally came and it wasn’t good news; the company was going on a hiring freeze because the economy wasn’t looking good. The job no longer existed.

My plan for a post-college job was gone and I had no back-up plan. I ended up continuing at my internship making $10 an hour. However, even this could only go on for so long and before I knew it, I was totally unemployed.

Anxiety Attacks

Thankfully God provided a job after three months without work. It was nice to have a full-time position doing what I majored in at college. While I was still searching for answers with my sickness, this job was an answered prayer.

Then it happened, I had only been at the company for several months, when one day I suddenly felt like I couldn’t breathe and my heart was racing. I had no idea what was happening and I called my wife panicked. She quickly came and took me to the ER where they concluded I had suffered an anxiety attack. I had never heard of that and thought they must be wrong.

They weren’t. For the next six months, I suffered from life-debilitating anxiety attacks. I was terrified to go anywhere or see anyone. I never cry, but this brought out the tears, and many nights I lay in my wife’s arms an emotional wreck feeling like I was losing my mind. I had no control over this and it was defeating me. It was the final straw and it broke me.

I needed God.

Made New

While I was at my sickest and only weighed 128 pounds, I had no cure; I needed God. While I was doing everything I could to find a job, I couldn’t force it to happen; I needed God to provide one for me. When I was at my lowest moment with anxiety attacks, feeling totally helpless and scared, I had no solution; I needed God to rescue me.

Through the course of all these trials, God revealed to me the root of my problem: I was my first love and He wasn’t. Though I had a faith in Him, my life was self-serving and really, I had no need for God beyond my salvation. When we look at God’s laws, we either will obey them because we are afraid of the consequences or because we love Him enough to do what He says. With pornography, I loved myself more than God and I didn’t have enough fear of the consequences so it was easy to choose sin.

One of my biggest regrets is that I initially overcame pornography for my wife. She said she would leave me if I ever slipped up again, and I believed her. I didn’t want that to happen so the consequence was severe enough to stop me. However, now that God has made me new and drawn me into a deep relationship with Him, He has become my first love. I am able to overcome temptation based on my love for Him alone

Amazing Grace

In the months to come, God slowly began to rebuild me. My prayer life and time in his Word became essential parts of my day. He provided an answer to my sickness. God also helped me to find complete freedom from the anxiety attacks through Him alone.

I’ll always remember driving to work one day after all this had passed listening to Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace. I found myself overwhelmed by the lyrics because all of a sudden I truly understood the gravity of what God had done for me. “My chains are gone. I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior, has ransomed me.” This truth has transformed my relationship with God and also healed and blessed my relationship with my wife.

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. - 2 Timothy 4:18

 

To read about the lessons I learned about overcoming pornography you can read the the last part here: Overcoming Pornography: Thoughts for the Struggling. You can read the other post in this series here: The Pornography Epidemic, Going on the Offensive Against Porn

 

HenriettaSignature

Overcoming Pornography: The Struggle

FIGHT2Header My husband will pen the next few posts on this topic. For years, neither of us wanted to talk about porn. We had no desire to be vocal about its part in our life, let alone talk to others about it.  But the power of God and the joy of the freedom found in him, bring out our feeble voices. So, this is our story and we are fervently praying it will encourage others with their own stories. Jesus has overcome all darkness and with his strength, you can too.

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I was addicted to porn, but now I’m free. I was living a life of constant guilt and shame, but now I understand more fully God’s amazing love and forgiveness. I was a walking lie, but now the Truth defines me.

How did I do it?

One word: God. However, the journey He used to set me free takes many more words to tell.

The Struggle

I had been struggling with pornography since 8th grade and I was incredibly ashamed of it. I knew it was wrong and I was committed to winning the war. But day after day, month after month, and year after year, the battle continued.

I can’t explain how awful this sin is and how incredibly addicting it becomes. At 14, I was just a curious male teen, giving into a sin this one time. But soon a one-time sin became a one-more-time sin, and before I realized it I was losing control of the situation. I had allowed darkness into my life.

I’ll always remember my prayers: “God forgive me. Don’t give up on me. Don’t leave me. I’m so sorry!”

While I needed God so badly, my guilt and shame pushed me away. I felt undeserving to even touch God’s Word or go to Him in prayer. Why would God listen to me anymore? Why would He continue to put up with me?

While God knew the real me, no one else did. I was just a “great” Christian guy that people respected. I strongly desired to be that guy, but I was locked in the chains of this sin.

College Days

During high school I feared that God would punish me for these sins by not letting me find a wife. However, in college that worry quickly faded when I started dating a girl our freshman year. Right from the start, we became best friends and our relationship flourished. Life was great.

The problem is I was still living a double life. College had brought new freedoms and the struggle was even worse. My girlfriend only knew the “great Christian guy” version of me, which I rationalized was okay because I was still determined to overcome this sin and she would never have to know.

Fast forward to our senior year. We were now engaged and had a wedding planned for after our graduation. One part of me was on top of the world, while the other was overwhelmed by the darkness I had let into my life nearly a decade earlier.

I knew the truth: I wasn’t going to be able to overcome this addiction on my own, but Satan used my shame and fears to keep me trapped in this never-ending cycle of guilt, remorse, and failure.

We were spending time together in her room after having completed our homework for the night. Nothing was unusual. It was just a normal night. But something happened. The Truth happened. God opened up my mouth and in one unplanned instant I broke my silence. The entire course of our lives had just changed.

To be continued... You can read part 2 here: Overcoming Pornography: The Moment of Truth

Note: If you missed the other posts in this series, you can find them here: The Porn Epidemic, Going on the Offensive Against Porn

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