Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sacred Sex

This last Sunday as part of the Sacred Marriage message series we talked about sex.  My hope is that we talked about it in an appropriate and biblical way.

I started the message by sharing how I was introduced to sex.  I was introduced to sex in shameful ways.  A boy brought an explicit magazine to school and I found myself curious, excited and confused all at the same time.  About that same year a family member had me look in a similar magazine.

All of this is just to say that many of us were introduced to sex in shameful ways.  No wonder we so easily pervert it. 

The sad part is that there is an entire industry hoping that we will be introduced to sex in this way and that we will give into to our natural desires for the rest of our lives so that the industry will continue to be profitable.  And profitable it is.  The porn industry is more profitable than Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon, Ebay, Yahoo!, Netflix and Earthlink combined.  It's more than a 100 Billion dollar industry worldwide. 

What does this mean?  If you were introduced to sex in shameful ways, it was for someone else's profit.  If your children or grandchildren are introduced to sex in shameful ways, it will be to make someone else rich.  To me, that's sick.  It ticks me off.  I have two young daugthers.  I don't want them being introduced to sex in this way, nor do I want them buying into their idea of what sex is and isn't.

Before sex was perverted into a mult-billion dollar money making industry, it was a gift from God to be celebrated in the relationship of marriage.  Sex is supposed to be fun and enjoyable to keep a husband and wife connected and their marriage relationship strong.  Sex is just as much spiritual, emotional and relational as it is physical. 

If it was only physical it wouldn't do the kind of damage it does when it's practiced illicitly.

My point was that sex is a physical represenation of a spiritual reality.  Just as Baptism and Communion involve physical elements to convey spiritual truth, sex does the same thing in marriage.  Therefore, sex within marriage can be seen as a type of spirtiual discipline. 

As Gary Thomas says in his book Sacred Marriage "It might sound shocking, but it's true: God doesn't turn his eyes when a married couple goes to bed.  It only stands to reason that we shouldn't turn our eyes from God when we share intimate moments with our spouse."  In other words, when we think of sex biblically we are thinking of it as something physical, spiritual and emotional all at the same time. 

The money making sex industry wants to keep it just in the physical because that's where they make their most profit.  However, as most married couples know, sex is a whole lot better when it involves the physial, spiritual and emotional connection. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


This past Sunday I preached from Ephesians 5:21-25.  A part of that text is the famous "wives submit to your husbands" passage that can and has been used to relegate the wife to the status of obedient servant of the husband.  That's not what Paul is communicating.

In verse 21, Paul says "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."  Verse 21 does not contain the word "Submit" in the original greek.  The greek for verse 22 is "wives to your husbands as to the Lord."  When Paul wrote this, grammatically the two verses form a complete thought.  Husbands and wives, submit to one another, why, out of reverence for Christ.

As Andy Stanley so aptly puts it: Submission just means putting your spouses wishes, dreams and desires above your own.

So when Paul also tells husbands to "Love your wives as Christ loved the church," he's saying, just as Jesus was willing to put away his own desires and go to the cross out of love for us, you are to practice that same kind of submissive love to your wife.

Paul is saying the same thing to husbands as he is to wives and to wives as he is to husbands.

Marriage is about mutual submission.  Both spouses being willing to lay aside their own agendas, wishes, dreams, desires and for the sake of the other.

The reason God designed marriage that way is because it was his way to us.  Submission is God's way in marriage becuase it was God's way to us.  God in Christ willingly submitted himself to the pain, insult, mockery, shame and death of the cross to demonstrate his love for us.  He submitted himself to death for our sake.  Submission is God's way in marriage because it is his way to us.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Entitlement vs. Gratitude

Americans live in a culture that teaches the "unvalue" of entitlement.  We think the world owes us.  We think people owe us.  We think stores and restaurants owe us.  we think our spouse owes us.  We think our church owes.  We think God owes us.

The litmus test for an entitlement attiude is if we get angry, resentful or frustrated when we don't get our way.  When we don't get paid what we are owed.  When our expectations aren't met.

The truth is the world owes us nothing.  God owes us nothing.  People owe us nothing.  Our spouse owes us nothing.

What if we replaced the "entitlement" attidude with one of gratitude.  What if instead of thinking that the world and everyone in it owes us something, what if instead we functioned out of the truth that everything good that happens to us is a gift.  And sometimes, even bad things that happen to us are a gift (obviously there are major exceptions, but we often grow through difficult times). 

The gratitude attitude (rhyme unintentional) will free us from the anger, resentment and frustration when we live out of an entitlement attiude.   

Gratitude, thankfulness and recognizing all good things in our lives as gifts is the antidote to entitlement and I believe the antidote to freedom and life of fulfillment.

May you take the dose of gratitude everyday and be set free from entitlement tendencies.

(The thoughts from this blog mainly come from the article found here).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sacred Marriage

We are in a message series called Sacred Marriage at Catawba UMC.  It's a series based off the book of the same title written by Gary Thomas.  The question Gary Thomas explores in the book is this: What if God designed marriage to make us holy rather than to make us happy

What I appreciate about the book is that it is not one of those 5 Ways to a Happy Marriage or 7 Steps to a Perfect Marriage, it's actually more like a biblical theology of marriage.  It's a way to understand holiness within the context of marriage.

I've enjoyed re-reading the book and preaching the ideas from the book.  My hope is that it both strengthens our marriages and helps all of us (married or not) pursue a life of holiness.

To hear either of the first two messages you can scroll down to the bottom of this blog and download or play it from the Sermon player.  Or you can go here and click the Messages tab.

Here's the video of the song I played at the beginning of the message yesterday:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Unmet Expectations

I heard somebody say recently that most (maybe all) conflict comes because of unmet expectations.

In a marriage unmet expectations cause conflict.

At work unmet expectations cause conflict.

With my children unmet expectations lead to conflict.

With every single relationship in my life I can say that unmet expectations have led to conflict.

We can either meet people's expectations, change their expectations or refuse to do either and live in loneliness and isolation.

Especially in a marriage, it is important to communicate reasonable expectations and get agreement from your spouse that those expectations are fair and doable.  Otherwise, bitterness over unmet expectations will creep in and cause each spouse to be frustrated and withhold affection and affirmation, which just creates more distance in the relationship.

I guess that can be true with any relationship, not just marriage.

So, if there is tension or a conflict in a relationship in your life, maybe resolution starts with you communicating your expectations and listening to the other person's expectations and figuring out a way to either change them if they are unfair or meet them if they are reasonable and doable.

If there is tension in your relationship with God.  Maybe you are expecting something from Him that He just isn't going to do?  Maybe you have a view of God that is too selfish?

A good way to keep your relationships with people and God in check is to figure out what expectations aren't being met and why.

Have fun...no really, this can be freeing stuff and freedom is fun.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Writing Exercises

I've been doing writing exercises lately.  Actually, they're typing exercises.

I sit down and write for 15 minutes straight and write...without thinking too much about grammar or spelling or content or flow of thought.  I just write.  I have one topic I write on.  I think if I do this enough I will have a book on that topic.  Or at least that's the hope. 

There's been several different inspirations for this but the biggest one is my two daughters.

My biological father died before I was born so I never knew him.  I would've loved for him to write a book that was for his children, for me.

That's the kind of book I want to write. One that is for my children.  I want it to be publishable quality, but if it doesn't get published, I will not care. 

It will be about what I consider one of the most important things when it comes to living a Christian life.

Sort of a spiritual theology of living practically.

Anyway, I've only done these writing exercises three times so far and they seem to go well.  I don't know that I have the discipline to do it daily, but three or for times a week is definitely possible.

I can't wait to see where this goes.  Hopefully they will turn into a book my daughters can keep with them long after I have left this world.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama Bin Laden

My friend and colleague in ministry James-Michael Smith did such a great job writing about how a Christian should respond to Osama Bin Laden's death that I thought I would just link to his post instead of trying to write something myself: