Monday, September 26, 2016

When This Pastor’s Wife Found Her Husband’s Porn Addiction – It Took Her 3 Days to Confront Him…

When This Pastor’s Wife Found Her Husband’s Porn Addiction – It Took Her 3 Days to Confront Him…

 

When Christina fell in love with a pastor in training, she thought she was marrying one of the good guys.
From the beginning of their marriage, she always felt like something was off. Within two years of their marriage, Christina had a feeling that it wasn’t going to last, but she couldn’t describe why. Eight years into the marriage, she opened their computer and found something in their search history that changed everything. She discovered her pastor/husband had a hidden porn addiction.
“It hit me like a wrecking ball, but some things started to finally make sense–why he wasn’t emotionally invested in our marriage, why he wasn’t available to me, not on a sexual level, but an intimate level. I always felt like there was half of him missing,” Christina says.
It took Christina three days to build up the courage to confront him. To her surprise, he didn’t deny it.
After that, they went through two-and-a-half years of an unhealthy cycle of forgiveness and relapse. Christina felt abused; she had no self-esteem. She even felt like her children were created in a lie and she was just a vessel her husband was using.
It was the toughest time of her life.
But the story didn’t end there. God ended up redeeming and reclaiming Christina and her husband–and put their marriage back together again.
“I see myself as the victorious daughter of Christ who is loved and valued.”
Dealing with pornography addiction as a pastor or ministry leader is incredibly tough and messy, but there is always hope in Christ.
If you know someone who needs to hear Christina’s story, please share this with them today.

20 Interesting (But Often Overlooked) Facts about the Parable of the Prodigal Son

20 Interesting (But Often Overlooked) Facts about the Parable of the Prodigal Son

20-interesting-facts-about
It’s an epic story, praised for its beauty, extravagant grace, surprising narrative and simplicity, but how well do you know it?
The story of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15: 11-32 is one of the most iconic parables in all of Scripture. There is arguably more artwork (sculptures, paintings, literature, stained glass) focused on the Prodigal Son than any of the other 30 parables in the entire Bible.
It’s an epic story, praised for its beauty, extravagant grace, narrative clarity and simplicity, but it’s also full of subtle context, shocking twists and deep truths.

Here are  20 facts about the story that could be easy to miss–even for a seasoned ministry leader…

***
1. The word “Prodigal” doesn’t mean rebellious or lost—it means “wasteful” and “extravagant.” The word origin refers to a person who’s reckless and squanders their wealth.
2. The parable of the Prodigal is the last of three parables Jesus shares about loss and redemption—The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin and The Lost Son—and it’s best read in that context to understand the full force of Jesus’ narrative.
3. When the prodigal son asked for his inheritance, it was like saying to his father, “I wish you were dead.” It was a huge insult, weighted with shame and guilt.
4. In the Jewish culture at this time, doing something like this would’ve likely cut you off from the community forever. And being a part of the greater community was critical for survival, health and overall quality of life.
5. In reality, the father would’ve had to split up the land and sell a portion of his assets to give his son the requested inheritance.
6. When the prodigal son was done partying and found himself alone and hungry, he took a job feeding slop to pigs. Why is this significant? In the Jewish culture pigs were “unclean” animals. If a Jewish man longed for the food of pigs it was definitely hitting “rock bottom.”
7. The prodigal son decides to head home—thinking that maybe his father would receive him as a servant. This is proof that the son didn’t understand the depth of his father’s love and compassion.
8. The prodigal son rehearses a speech, but he never gets to use it.
9. When the father sees his son return, he runs to greet him. Running in the Ancient Near Eastern culture was taboo at that time. It required a man to pull up his tunic to his hips and expose his legs (to keep from tripping). The practice was frowned upon and typically brought shame and embarrassment.
10. If a Jewish son squandered his money, giving it over to the Gentiles, he would’ve been cut off from the community upon his return. The father likely ran to meet his son to reach him before anyone else in the community had a chance to confront him. The fact that the Father runs to receive him is scandalous and shocking and goes against the cultural norm.
11. We title the story “The Prodigal Son,” but it could be just as easily titled “The Running Father,” says New Testament scholar N.T. Wright.
12. The father didn’t scold the son but gave him a lavish welcome home party—calling for his servants to prepare the fattened calf, a ring, a robe and shoes. This is God’s stance toward repentant sinners, and it’s always bold, surprising and overflowing with joy.
13. The father gave his son a robe to restore his dignity in front of the community. No doubt the son was tattered and dirty from feeding slop to pigs and the father clothes him as an act of love and compassion and to honor his son in full view of the village.
14. The father also gave the son a ring. Wearing rings during this time in history was a sign of both wealth and position. The power of this symbol reflects the father’s desire to restore his son as a family member and a respectable member of the community—under the shadow of the father—once again.
15. Next, the father asked his servants to get his son a pair of sandals. This, perhaps the most practical gift, was a gesture that said, “I want you around for a while.” The sandals prepared him to walk with the father without fear of cutting or soiling his feet from the ground.
16. But there was one last gift—the fattened calf. This kind of extravagant feast was reserved for incredibly important occasions. No longer would his son settle for the pods of pigs—he would now dine on the best meat available in the presence of his family and, likely, everyone in the village.
17. The story has a part two about the older son, that often gets overlooked, but it’s just as important.
18. The older son represented the Pharisees and scribes—they felt disrespected by God’s scandalous grace to the sinner and the outcast. Besides, they’ve been keeping the rules since day one—why didn’t they get a party?
19. The father’s response to the older son? “All I have is yours too, but this requires a celebration—my son was dead and now he’s alive again!” This is a great picture of God’s stance to the self-righteous sinner—kind, direct, generous, but still focused on the power of repentance.
20. The parable ends with the refusal of the older brother to attend the feast. We don’t know what happened, but Jesus left the story hanging, open-ended for questions and discussion, as he often does.

5 Ways Christians Worship and Glorify Satan

5 Ways Christians Worship and Glorify Satan

5 Ways Christians Worship and Glorify Satan
“We Christians often give credit and glory to Satan for things which he had nothing whatsoever to do with.”
Was that blog post title too provocative?
Here is something even more provocative: There is much in Christianity that is Satanic.
In fact, many elements of Christianity might make it the most Satanic religion on earth.
If you are already offended by this post, you may simply want to stop reading here. But if you keep reading, you will learn five ways that Christians worship and glorify Satan, and these five areas strike at the heart of much of what goes by “Christianity” today.

1. We Give Credit to Satan

Christians often say that one of Satan’s biggest deceptions is convincing people that he doesn’t exist.
This may be true, but I sometimes think that an even bigger deception of Satan is convincing people that he does exist, and that he is more powerful than he really is.
We Christians often give credit and glory to Satan for things which he had nothing whatsoever to do with.
It is not uncommon to hear Christians “blame Satan” and pray against Satan for things that in any other person’s life would simply be the result of poor choices, poor planning,or just poor timing.
Christians sometimes say that they are being tempted by Satan, or were sent bad dreams by Satan, or were kept by Satan from witnessing to a friend. With such ideas, Christians are attributing omniscience and omnipresence to Satan, which are attributes of God alone. Satan is a created (but fallen) being, just like you and me. He cannot be everywhere at once, and so it is nearly certain that none of us will ever have a personal encounter with Satan in our entire life. He has (in his mind) better things to do than give you bad dreams or tempt you to look at porn. The bad dream might be a result of the movie you watched, a stressful situation at work or the anchovies you put on your pizza. The temptation to sin most likely comes from your fallen “flesh,” the part of each human which naturally pulls us toward our baser desires. In both cases, Satan has absolutely nothing to do with it.
Christians sometimes complain that Satan created problems for them at the airline customs gate or in coordinating travel plans. This is especially true if these Christians are “missionaries” who are headed to another country to “carry out the great commission.” Any problem is therefore attributed to the power of Satan. Yet these things happen to tens of thousands of “normal” travelers every day. To give Satan credit for these is to give him way too much credit.
I once talked with a woman who wanted me to cast Satan out of her car. She said that she wanted to come to church on Sunday morning, but when she got in her car, it would not start. Clearly, this must be because Satan wanted to keep her from coming to church. I told her, as gently as I could, that Satan was not possessing her car, and it would do no good for me to pray over it. More than likely, her car wouldn’t start because of some completely natural reason. Maybe her car was old, or the battery was dead. Or maybe it wouldn’t start because it had been extremely cold the night before. To give Satan credit for keeping her car from starting on Sunday morning was to give glory to Satan that he did not deserve.
Make sure that as you go through life, you don’t give credit and glory to Satan for things he has nothing to do with. Life is full of problems, and everybody has problems, and these problems do not come upon you because Satan is targeting you. In all likelihood, Satan doesn’t even know you exist, and even if he does, he’s not going to waste his time by freezing your car engine or slowing you down at the customs counter.
But this is not the only way we Christians worship and glorify Satan.

2.We Accept Satanic Offerings

In Luke 4 and Matthew 4, Satan comes to tempt Jesus, and in the process, offers three things to Jesus, if only Jesus will worship him.
The three things Satan offers to Jesus were riches, control and fame, and Jesus rejected all three.
Yet within 300 years of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the church had accepted and embraced all three as tools to help them spread the Gospel. But these offerings from Satan did more to hinder the message of the Gospel than help it.
Whenever Christians today chase after riches as a means to spread the Gospel, control over others as a means to manage sin, and fame or glory as a way of gaining the world’s attention, we have sacrificed the Gospel on the altar of Satanic offerings. When we do this, we not only fail to advance the rule and reign of God, but instead help advance the influence of the ruler of this age.
I wrote a lot more about this in my forthcoming book, Close Your Church for Good, and so I won’t say anything more about this point here. (Sign up for the newsletter to get a free digital copy of this book when it is released.)

3. We Diagnose Someone as Demon Possessed

I know that this point might be controversial (but which of these five points are not?), but I do not believe we Christians should ever diagnose someone as “demon possessed,” for doing so might actually glorify and honor Satan.
I sometimes think that we diagnose someone as “demon possessed” because we don’t want to deal with the psychological, emotional, mental or spiritual issues that the person in question is actually dealing with. It is so much easier to write someone off as “demon possessed” than to do the hard work of loving, healing, restoring and mending that may need to be done with someone who suffers in such ways.
But more than this, when we consider the “deliverance” ministry of Jesus in liberating people from demon possession, it is important to recognize what Jesus was, and was not, doing.
In Jesus’ day (as in ours, though to a lesser degree), people associated sickness with sin. People believed that if you sinned, one way God might punish you is by sending a sickness upon you. Therefore, if a person got sick, this was taken as an indication that the person had sinned and God was punishing them.
One of the reasons, therefore, that Jesus went around “casting out demons” was to turn this religious lie on its head. Jesus wanted to show that God didn’t punish sinners with demon possession, nor was demon possession an indication of God’s punishment or of that person’s sinfulness. The so-called “demon possessed” person was just as loved and accepted by God as anyone else.
Furthermore, what Jesus wanted to reveal was that the most demonic thing about demon possession was not the demon possession itself, but was the diagnosis of demon possession. To diagnose someone as “possessed by a demon” is to diagnose them as being outside the grace of God, underserving of His love, care and protection, and as having been so sinful as to incur one of His greatest punishments.
But to show us that God does not send demons and that God does not punish sin, Jesus “cast out demons.” When God is truly at work, it is not to punish someone with demons or accuse them of having a demon, but to rescue, deliver and free people from such hopeless and condemning accusations.
So to accuse someone of having a demon or of being possessed by a demon is to remove a person from the sphere of God’s grace and love, and lock them in a prison of shame, fear and darkness, which is demonic. Therefore, to keep from glorifying Satan, we must never accuse someone of being demon possessed.
In fact, this accusatory spirit—for which we Christians are often known—is the fourth way we Christians worship and glorify Satan.

4. We Engage in Satanic Accusations

The word “devil” in Greek is diabolos. It is built upon the Greek words dia, meaning across, and bollo, meaning to cast or throw. The devil is one who casts or throws across something. In the various contexts of diabolos, it refers to one who maligns, slanders, or sows discord and division.
The word “satan” is similar. “Satan” is a Hebrew word (the Greek is satanas), and it means “accuser.”
Both of these meanings are clearly seen in nearly every passage in Scripture where Satan, or the devil, is described. He accuses God of withholding something good from Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), and he accuses God of showing favoritism to Job (Job 1). In Luke 4 and Matthew 4, he accuses, challenges and questions the mission and purpose of Jesus. The New Testament refers to him as the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev 12:10).
While God only loves, forgives and accepts, Satan only judges, accuses and condemns.
So when we Christians judge, accuse and condemn others, whose example are we following? Are we more like God or more like Satan?
When we demonize our enemies so we can condemn them, we mimic Satan rather than God.
When we accuse and condemn those whom we think are “sinners,” we mimic Satan rather than God.
When we sit in judgment on others, because they believe something different or behave in ways we think are wrong, we mimic Satan rather than God.
If we were to mimic God, we would love unconditionally, forgive infinitely and accept unreservedly.
But by mimicking Satan, we worship and glorify him instead.
And this judgmental, condemning, accusing attitude leads to the fifth and greatest way we worship Satan.

5. We Commit Satanic Violence

The most Satanic thing Christians do, however, is committing violence in the name of God.
If one person murders another, this is evil.
But it is infinitely more evil when one person murders another in the name of Jesus Christ.
The same goes for war, vengeance, lust, greed, gossip, slander and any other thing that is contrary to the character and nature of God.
When Christians go to war against their enemies in the name of Jesus Christ, we are not worshipping the God who told us to love our enemies, but are worshipping the demonic being who loves nothing more than to get us to do his bidding while blaming it on God.
We commit adultery because “God wants us to be happy.” We retaliate against our selfish neighbor because “God wants us to stand up for what is right.” We become rich on the backs of the poor because “God wants us to be wealthy.” We tell lies about others because “God wants us to share prayer requests.”
And on and on it goes.
Satan, having failed to become like God, tries to get God to become like him. And though God will never fall into such a trap, we who worship God have made God into Satan by doing what Satan wants while attributing it to God.
The most blatant way we do this is by committing violence against our enemies and claiming that it was divinely sanctioned, that God wants our enemies dead as much as we do.
While it is the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy, God gives generously to all, grants life to those in the shadow of death, and mends broken lives and damaged souls. If we are going to follow God, we will do what God does — even (especially!) for our enemies.

The Glorification of Satan

I know that this post will be somewhat controversial, but I believe that if the church is ever going to rise up and reveal to people the outrageous love of God, we must begin by jettisoning everything that looks like Satan.
I have suggested five ways we can do this above. Do you have anything to add?  

Burnout Main Reason for Pete Wilson’s Resignation From Cross Point Church in Nashville

Burnout Main Reason for Pete Wilson’s Resignation From Cross Point Church in Nashville

burnout
“We’ve said that this is a church where it’s okay to not be okay, and I’m not okay. I’m tired. And I’m broken and I just need some rest,” says Pete Wilson.
Pastor Pete Wilson, the founder and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, has resigned from his position due to burnout.
You can see a clip from Wilson’s announcement to the congregation in the video below.

When It Is Time to Go

When It Is Time to Go

When It Is Time to Go
“There’s a difference between leaving and knowing when to go.”
Leaving is easy.
It’s what people do, right?
When things get difficult, it’s easier to go than it is to stay.
– It’s why the divorce rate is as high as it is.
– It’s why so many kids are growing up without one of their parents.
– It’s also why so many leave ministry far too early.
As a pastor or ministry director, usually the best thing you can do for yourself and your church is to stay. So many good things can come of hard and honest conversations. Influence and impact is multiplied by the number of years one invests in a community. Staying when most would leave builds character. Staying when most would leave earns respect and influence. Although leaving is what we feel like doing, staying is almost always what is right. My friend Sam Luce wrote a post specifically on this very topic. Also, my friend Carey Niewhof wrote about knowing when it is time to leave. He says that the average tenure of church staff isn’t really long enough to transform anything. Good things come to those who see things through.
However, knowing when to go is entirely different. Sometimes, God opens the door for what is next when you least expect it. Sometimes, God makes it abundantly clear that you are done. In these seasons, it takes courage to go, and knowing when it is time to go takes wisdom and clarity of God’s call on your life.
There have been two times in nearly 17 years of of full-time ministry that God has called me to go (he forced me to go one time, but that’s for another blog post). The first time was nearly 12 years ago after an incredible four years of ministry at the first church that took a risk on me. The second time was just just four months ago after a very fruitful and rewarding eight years of ministry. When I look back on my two experiences, I see several similarities.
Knowing it was time to go wasn’t immediate.
I wrestled with what God was doing in my situation for months, even years. In both occasions, I sensed that my time was coming to a close. In both occasions, I felt that God was preparing my heart for something. I began having conversations with family and trusted friends, seeking wisdom and advice as I wasn’t entirely clear on what was happening. On both occasions though, I had not given up. I was highly engaged in my work and ministry, excited about what God was doing with vision for the future in my current role. Although I felt in my heart that God was doing something, in both occasions I was working under the assumption that I wasn’t yet finished. My schedule was full and I had plans.
Knowing it was time to go was connected to honest conversations with my pastor.
The two times that I knew it was time to go came following honest conversations with those who led me. At my first church, there had been a leadership transition. I had endured some hurts and an endless list of frustrations. My wife sensed that I had disconnected from the vision of the house and it was true. Interestingly, my pastor called a meeting with me that week to see how I was doing. I was able to get everything off my chest and it was so healthy. This new pastor responded with love and acceptance and he did something I never expected. He released me. He told me that he didn’t want me to go, but if I felt God calling me to something else, he blessed me to go. Interestingly, I received a very random phone call two weeks later about a job in Texas. The time to go came AFTER an honest conversations with my leadership that needed to happen. I left with a clean heart and without hurts.
My recent departure was somewhat similar. I began feeling tension and frustration nearly two years ago. It wasn’t because of anything bad, just normal tension that many leaders experience when there is miscommunication or missed expectations. I felt like I was having frequent conversations with my leadership, trying to close gaps when they occurred. However, it was about eight months ago when I began having very intentional conversations with leadership. I was able to say all the things I needed to say, expressing hurts and frustrations and my leadership listened and responded. I felt accepted as they empathized with me, which was very honoring. However, it was in this season of open and honest conversations that I clearly heard the heart of my leadership. On multiple occasions, I received a very clear picture of where the church was headed and what was most valued—and it didn’t resonate with me. It wasn’t bad or wrong, it just wasn’t me. I knew in that moment that I wasn’t going to be able to serve my leadership as well as someone else would. Interestingly, like the previous time, someone approached me about an opportunity in Phoenix right after my conversations with leadership. One phone call with my current lead pastor and I knew that Phoenix was where we were headed. Hearing his vision resonated with my soul and it was a vision that I was excited to serve.
On both occasions, I left with a clean heart. I wasn’t frustrated, hurt or angry. I had been honest and clear with my leadership and amazing opportunities seemed to open up AFTER these kinds of conversations. The time to go wasn’t until after I was in sync with my leadership.
Knowing it was time to go was deeply connected to my calling.
I was called to the Next Generation on a summer beach retreat when I was 14 years old. Over the next five years, my calling would be refined and clarified. Since then, I’ve had a very clear sense of who I am and what I have been called to do. I’ve always known that I was in the exact place where God wanted me when my calling aligned with the church I was serving. I’ve never taken a job because it was a bigger church, healthier church or bigger compensation package. When I have known that it was time to go, it was to either a smaller church or a church that was less healthy than the church I was leaving. In both occasions though, I felt like I had more to offer and the church God was leading me toward was a place that aligned best with who God had made me to be and what he had called me to do.
There’s a difference between leaving and knowing when to go. When in doubt—stay. Have hard conversations. Push through the tension and fight for clarity and unity. Trust God in the process and have the courage to go when it’s time.  

Rick Warren: 3 Pillars That Lead to Success in Ministry And Life

Rick Warren: 3 Pillars That Lead to Success in Ministry And Life

Justin Blaney, the founder of Innovate 4 Jesus, asked Rick Warren to think back to when he was first starting a church at age 25. “What is something that other 25 or 30 year olds can learn from what you knew back then that set you up to become what you are today?”
Warren doesn’t miss a beat as he responds, “Don’t focus on building the church; focus on building people.”
At the end of the first year as a pastor, Warren faced burnout, even fainting in the middle of a service. The second year of Saddleback church, he battled with depression. But in that second year, Warren says God taught him the lessons he needed to build the church into what it is today.
From that second year, Warren learned that great leadership is “all about character, not charisma.” If you want God’s anointing on your life, Warren says, it has nothing to do with strategy, marketing, systems, etc. Instead, “it has everything to do with who you are.”
Finally, Warren offers three pillars on which to build your life and ministry: “You must build your life on integrity, on humility, and on generosity.” Those three things, he says, are the antidote to the three great traps of leadership.

Francis Chan: Satan Wants to Destroy Your Marriage

Francis Chan: Satan Wants to Destroy Your Marriage

“One of the things I absolutely hate is when I have an amazing spiritual experience and my wife isn’t there,” Francis Chan says in the following video.
This is a problem, Chan implies, because it can cause distance between husbands and wives when one spouse is trying to relate an incredible experience to the other but is not getting across accurately. As Chan explains, “Satan is so on the warpath” and he has his eyes set on taking out ministry leaders any way he can.
“Some of you guys are living some godly lives. You’re fighting; you’re pursuing things that are difficult and Satan hates that. If he can’t take you down in your theology and he can’t take away your courage, he’ll strike at your marriage.”
So what can you do to guard against Satan’s attack against your marriage? Chan advises that you don’t just do things like go on vacation with your spouse, but have focused times of pursuing the Lord together. He also emphasizes pursuing ministry together, which is something that Chan admits men are not always the best at doing.