What's Love Got to do with it?

What if we've missed the point? What if Love Wins is enough? And why Rob Bell may just be right.

Right On our doorstep

Think that slavery is a thing of the past? Think that the UK is too civilised to be part of trafficking? Think again

5 reasons why being married to Brit is great (or 5 reasons to marry an American)

5 things you will never know until you marry an American

Masturbation Month

Giving up masturbation for a month. Why we need to save the kittens.

XXXchurch! Whaaa?

Why I love porn (ministries).

20 Jul 2009

The Last Temptation of Jesus

When the Bible is called the 'living word' it usually means several things. For example that even though it was written a long time ago it is still relevant today. But what I love more is that you can read something in the Bible, something you have read many times before and then suddenly a new insight jumps out at you. You get a new look at a bit of information that before was just part of the background.

I love when this happens and it happened to me this week. And it happened at a time when I really really needed a certain passage to take on some fresh meaning for me.

I'm talking about Matthew chapter 4, where Jesus is taken into a desert and tempted by Satan, trying to get him to give in to him. I haven't read this passage loads of times for myself but I felt like I knew it pretty well and that I understood all there was to understand. Boy was I wrong! And maybe the biggest lesson I learned was to read things for myself, not just assume that I know what they are going to say.

But in the words of the great Jimmy Cricket....there's more.

In my last post I talked about struggling with temptation. And one of the things I have really struggled with when I have been tempted by porn is to understand where Jesus was in it. I would pray and I would ask him to help and often he did, but somehow he felt distant and pretty much didn't understand what I was going through.

I mean I have heard on countless occassions that Jesus knows exactly what it feels like to be us. He knows what it feels like to go through our struggles. But I couldn't quite believe that. How can Jesus know what it is like to be tempted by porn?! He may well have been tempted sexually but it certainly isn't reported in the Bible.

But reading Matthew 4 again something hit me which has changed my whole look on Jesus. And the thing that hit me most was verses 8 and 9 (the message)

For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth's kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, "They're yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they're yours."

Jesus was tempted twice by Satan but then on the third time, he offers Jesus everything. He offers him power and prestige and control. He offers him the chance to control and rule the world.

There is a little problem though in that Satan can't offer him any of this. According to Satan if Jesus just bows to him he can have it all. But it isn't Satan's to give. Satan does not have any authority to give this to Jesus. It's a big stinking lie. Plain and simple.

I thought about when I struggle with temptation and lust and porn and I realised that this is exactly what Satan does with me. He offers me an escape. If I was just to take the time to look at that website or buy that magazine, then everything would be ok. The things I was looking for would be given to me. The hurt or void in my life that I think porn can fill will be filled....

When you struggle with porn or lust it is usually because there is something you are trying to fix. We use it to fix our past, our feelings of abandonment, our self image issues. We turn to porn to give us back control we feel we have lost somewhere. For me it may be issues to do with losing my father. A loss of a father figure. A loss of the type of love that a Father gives. For others it may be abuse they suffered or other parental junk from your past.

The main thing, no matter why you look at porn, you are looking to get back some sort of control. You were raped as a kid so you look at porn because it gives you a feeling of control again. Something that was taken from you. There are a hundred reasons why people turn to porn but I believe that regaining control is the underlying reason.

And it's at this point that I realised that Jesus does know what it feels like to be sexually tempted. Because Jesus was offered the chance to get control by Satan. Verse 1 tells us that Jesus had been fasting for forty days and nights and he was hungry. We don't know what Jesus dealt with during that time, but I bet he thought about what lay ahead for him. We know from Matthew 26 v 39 that Jesus was human because he asked for God to provide an alternative from him dying on the cross.

"My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?" (the message)

Jesus was scared. Jesus knew that this was not going to be nice. Wow Jesus was human. I read these two passages and suddenly I realised Jesus was just like us. I started to see Jesus as someone who understood everything I went through. This changes everything.

Back to the desert.

Jesus was hungry. He was vulnerable. He needed filled up. If you struggle with porn it's because you are hungry. You are vulnerable. You need filled up.

Wow. Are you getting that?!

And when Satan offers him a chance to get back a feeling of control, it must have been very tempting.

Jesus knows exactly what it's like to be tempted by porn. And he didn't cave. He stood firm. He knew that not giving in was what was really going to fill that hole. He knew that only God could really offer what he desired.

And if Jesus can do it then so can we. He is in me now and so that means his power is in me and you and anyone who loves him.

I have been tempted a few time recently and when I am I remember this. I remember that Jesus does understand what I am feeling and because he loves me he shows me how to get past the temptation. If nothing else just knowing Jesus understands is enough for me to resist. Knowing that Jesus does care. Because now I don't feel alone. I don't feel like I am the only one who goes through this.

And even if you are (but you're not)

Jesus knows.

Jesus understands.

Jesus does feel what it feels like.

Jesus survived the desert.

That means so can you.

13 Jul 2009

I like big Buts

I'm putting my lack of blog posts lately down to being pretty busy. In the last few weeks since I got home from London I have been at school, saying goodbyes, making some money, hanging out with friends, Summer Madness and now finally sitting down and just taking some time for myself.

It's much needed. It feels good and I think that everyone should take some time, every day just to be on their own. I'm finally now getting the chance. And what a lot of stuff it has thrown up!

This week the temptations and issues I thought were a thing of the past raised their ugly (and I mean hideously ugly) heads again, (I need to deal with why that happened for sure but for now I want to deal with how I react in the moment). When something bad in your life that you thought was done with and has lost its control over you comes back it can be scary and alarming and just frustrating. But this week I really got to understand first hand how God can use all things for his glory.

I was tempted to look at porn again this week and I honestly very nearly did. Something stopped me. Something in me that I certainly can't explain but whatever it was I am just glad it spoke up inside of me. However I wasn't honest about how I was struggling. I said I was fine and I wasn't and I lied to the one person I should be able to share these things with. It was close and I know that I hurt someone very close to me because of it.

And that is where my healing really came from.

Love is supposed to be a great motivator but honestly for me anyway, knowing I have hurt someone is much more challenging for me to change behaviour. When I stopped looking at porn it began by feeling terrible about what I had done. The feelings of shame or being found out made me reassess what I am doing. Simply put, causing someone else to hurt is what makes me more than anything else want to not look at porn. There is no greater motivation for me.

The trouble for me though is that I think I have confused these feelings for feelings of hatred and disgust at myself. No doubt sometimes those feelings are necessary to cause change in our behaviours but definately it is not what we should be living with. I have been shown this week by my best friend that feeling bad because we have hurt someone should not be seen as identical as hating ourselves all the time.

I don't want to ever forget how I made my girlfriend feel when she found out what I had nearly done but at the same time I need to live with that at a healthy distance. My girlfriend calls this 'owning our sin'.

In one of the books in the New Testament, Romans it talks about God's love and it says

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: (The Message).

Now if this is true and I believe it is, then how would me hating myself constantly, fit into God's love for me. Well..it just couldn't. It's impossible. Porn or masturbation (if that is a sin?...that deserves another post all of its own) or any other sin we do are not able to make God love us less. And me hating myself is certainly not in God's plan for me or you or anyone. So we can't go around beating ourselves up all the time. I can't beat myself up because of stuff in my past.

God's love is bigger than us or anything we think or do.

So this is where I find myself. I want to remember what I have done in the past. I want to remember the hurt and devestation it has caused, to myself but also others. I want to remember the way I felt when I have been pulled up about porn. I want to remember when I have been told that unless I stop things I shouldn't be doing a relationship can't continue. It's not nice. It certainly puts things in perspective.

But.... and this is a huge but (insert own joke here), I don't want them to affect how I feel about myself. I am loved. God loves me so much. God's love covers the worst thing I can think of. Or the worst thing I do. I want love to be the main motivator for me to stay pure. God's love and my girlfriend's love. My friends' love and my families love. I think the way we should live in this truth is that when we sin it should make us feel bad. I guess that's where repentace begins.

But maybe we need to always hold these feelings at a safe distance.

Love allows us to live with these things and not let them dictate our lives. So my challenge for myself and anyone who struggles with porn or lust or sin. Don't just assume your actions don't affect other people. They do. We need to remember that. But if we base them in God's love, a love that can never be destroyed, they can inspire us to be fair to ourselves and the people close to us by living without sin, without giving ourselves a mental beating.

If that doesn't help remember this ....

the only buts we should be looking at are the ones that God shows us, when we think we can't let go of our sin..


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More