Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sexual Temptation

It's hard to avoid. It's in the movies, a substantial number of TV shows, on the radio, at the grocery store checkout counter, in e-mails, and all over the Internet. It's been around since the first fig leaves in Eden, and it thrives in today's society -- sexual temptation. The numbers are both staggering and sobering. According to some studies, 70 percent of men ages 18-24 visit a pornographic Web site monthly, 30 percent of viewers of Internet pornography are women, 90 percent of children ages 11-16 have seen Internet pornography and the majority of pornographic Web sites are visited between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

All classes, races, and occupations of men are affected by sexual temptation and particularly the sin of Internet pornography -- even churched men. The numbers continue to grow, due in part to the affordability, accessibility, and anonymity afforded by Internet pornography. Often the addicted will attempt to dismiss his or her sin with the words, "It doesn't hurt anyone," or "It's a victimless crime."

Ah, the rationalization of Satan! Sexual sin is sin that fractures families, destroys lives, and places people in danger of eternal damnation. Addiction, especially to Internet pornography, will cause a person to draw into him- or herself at the expense of family, work, and all relationships. One extreme danger associated with pornography is the exploitation of children. Dipping one's toes in this cesspool can lead to a federal charge of child pornography -- a felony punishable by a fine and jail time.

Men, it's time to step up and be sexually pure. Men, let's examine what our mouth says, our eyes see, and our mind desires. We need to especially scrutinize our use of the Internet, cable TV, and what we read. It's also time for men as responsible -- and protective -- fathers to critically assess and guide the use of the Internet by our children.

Men, it's time for us to confront a sin that seems to know no bounds. And men, it's imperative we remember there's still hope in Christ for the sinner -- every last one of us. It's time for us to extend the Good News of the Gospel to those entangled in the use of pornography, especially Internet pornography.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Whose Job is it?

With all the recent discussion about health care, gay rights, abortion, military involvement in war, euthanasia and government bailouts, the question is naturally asked, "Whose job is it to take care of people?"

It seems to me today's answer would be, "The federal government needs to take care of all the social needs of society. Only the federal government will insure that social programs are administered fairly and equitably to all residents of the country, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, financial need, or citizenship status." It seems it is assumed in today's society only the federal government is capable of delivering social services to America's population. It seems as if individual states are looking to the federal government to keep them fiscally afloat, even as it provides for the social needs of the state's population.

As I review the list of social services afforded by the federal government, I am in a quandary. I wonder, "Wouldn't it be best for people if social services were provided by churches instead of governments? Wouldn't it make sense for churches to come forward and feed the poor, help the homeless, provide for job placement help, fund the medical needs of the indigent, and so on?"

I know churches used to be the first place people went for help in time of need. I know churches still do an awesome job providing aid and comfort; hurricane Katrina is a perfect example of how the church community stepped up and continues to provide aid. However, why is it many church folk today seem content with the federal government taking over the primary role of aid and comfort? Why is it so many non-Christian people in America see the church as close-minded and unwilling to help others in need?

Is it time for Christian men to step up and become a force for social programs in the church and not rely on the federal government? Is it time for us to speak up and show up? Have we gone so far that churches will never regain their role of providing aid and comfort to those in need?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Guest BLOG - My Lesson in Grace

I first remember experiencing grace was when I was about 12 years old. It was just after Christmas and I was the church acolyte one Sunday. Nobody had trimmed the wax on the Christmas candle in a while so I should have just blown it out at the close of service rather than trying put it out with the issued equipment. As the candle started to fall I quickly reached out and grabbed it resulting in hot wax pouring over my hand. The swear word that exited my mouth not only was loud enough for the congregation to hear, but I'm pretty sure anyone walking outside became a little more curious about the Lutheran denomination that day.

Now it was standard operating procedure that our pastor would stand facing the alter as I put out the Advent and Christmas candles behind him. After my charismatic outburst, pastor slowly glanced over his shoulder checking to see that I wasn't on fire. As I turned back toward the congregation I noticed everyone's eyes darting around the room in every direction but mine.

I then finished up my duties, exited the sanctuary, and put away my acolyte gear. It was then that the fear of the inevitable gripped me. A lecture was a given, a beating was more than possible.

As I exited the church and found my dad I braced for the worse. What I got though, wasn't what I expected. Nothing. Nobody said a word. It wasn't even joked about by anybody. It was as if it had never happened.

Our Lord and Savior is just like that, only better. His forgiveness is complete each and every time. In fact, Psalm 103:12 reminds us,"as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Now I'm not saying that the grace of my congregation is equal to God's everlasting grace, but the feeling and the consequence was pretty similar.

You see, even though I screwed up royally nobody held it over my head and they still let me light the candles. I'm sure with crossed fingers. In addition, I learned from my mistake. First, I kept a tight grip on my tongue; and second, I blew the candles out the next go around just to avoid a repeat performance.

In our Christian life it's humbling to recognize that we're all just a bunch of dumb sinners. But that our Lord is the Lord of second, third, and as many chances as we need. And that He will keep on forgiving and forgetting until we get it right.

I hope your first experience in grace was just as memorable.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

NFL - Week Four - Real Men Wear Pink

Watch any football last weekend? Pink hats, pink gloves, pink ties, pink shoes and even pink ribbons on the goalposts. Coaches, receivers, linemen and even officials are wearing pink. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the NFL has donned pink to draw attention to the second leading cause of cancer death for U.S. women - breast cancer. These men of the gridiron are showing support for and encouragement for the estimated 192,370 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and the estimated 2.5 million women living in the United States that have a history of breast cancer.

While some may think it is a bit odd for the bastion of manliness...the NFL to take up this cause of breast cancer awareness, I could not agree more with their support. I have a bias towards anything that will advance the cause of breast cancer awareness and cure.

My wife did everything right - according to all of the risk factors for beast cancer. Yet at age 43 she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. A radical mastectomy and aggressive chemotherapy gave her ten more years of cancer free life. Then the disease returned - this time no surgery, no treatment could take away the disease. She fought for three more years as the disease slowed its ravages, but continued to progress. The disease won and she was called home to her Heavenly Father. She left behind her husband of 35 years, four awesome children, a fantastic daughter-in-law and one amazing grandchild.

Having witnessed her fight against the pain, the attack on her body, the weakness, and her physical deterioration, I am a crusader for Breast Cancer Awareness Month - for if I never witness another woman who has to fight this disease, I will be happy.

Her fight was such an inspiration to me - for against her tremendous pain and suffering - she always pointed to God as her salvation - God as her strength - God as her Fortress! As her pain increased, her trust increased - she witnessed to her faith, her strength, her Father. I pray that we each can be encouraged by her faith, but never have to face the disease.

The men of the Men's NetWork also join together to encourage the women in our life to have an annual screening mammography beginning at age 40. We also urge the women who are at high risk of breast cancer - a first degree relative who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, delayed child birth, along with other risk factors - to have a screening mammography at an earlier age. Yes, real men are wearing pink and are proud to do so,

Yes, this real man will wear pink.