Tag Archives: purity

Breaking Bad: The Problem

image courtesy of jscreationzs / freeditigalphotos.net

image courtesy of jscreationzs / freeditigalphotos.net

There’s a whole slew of people for whom being good is first nature. They want to be good people; they don’t tire of doing the right thing; their natural position is to desire holiness. When they sin, they are grieved by it. There’s only reveling when there’s reconciliation with their God. They may struggle with something, but it’s a brief struggle and then joy returns as they know they’ve overcome. They love being good because it brings them closer to holiness, closer to righteousness, closer to the Lord.

Then there’s me. I just wanna be bad.

It’s not that I don’t desire to be good and be godly; sometimes, I do. But sometimes (right now being one of those times), I don’t want to be a good person. I don’t want to be godly or holy, I don’t want to do the right thing, and I don’t want to represent Christ in my actions. In fact, right now, I think it’s safe to say that I want to be the exact opposite of godly. Yeah, that’s right Willa Ford—I get what you were feeling. I don’t want to be evil, killing innocent children or anything like that. But I do want to be a little dirty, a little crazy, and a lot self-indulgent. And I know there are other people out there who feel just like me, because I have been talking around to others and trying to find if there are others like me. And they freely admit it.

I go through this every now and again, where the desire to be bad outweighs my desires to do anything that honors the Lord. My motto right now is, “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” And what’s worse is that this desire plays itself out in my daily decisions. I’m not going to sit here and tell you what the cause is (it’s just sin, quite honestly—human nature, flesh) or how to fix this; I’m just here to tell you that if you’ve ever felt this way, I understand. I’m there right now. The struggle is REAL.

This isn’t one of those times where I have done something wrong and I regret it—this isn’t every day living and every day sin. This is one of those intense struggles with my flesh where I don’t want to be good and I’m not even trying. I’m watching things I shouldn’t watch, thinking about things I shouldn’t think about, and indulging in my fleshly desires—whatever they may be. I don’t have discipline and quite frankly, I don’t want it. Interestingly enough, I’m doing my devotions every day, I’m praying and going to church, and I’m fellowshipping with other Christians. I’m just being very honest with everyone about where I’m at: I want to be bad, and there’s nothing anyone can do to convince me that being good is the better alternative right now.

So why am I blogging about this? Because I think there are more people out there struggling like this than there are struggling about the fact that they said a bad word or had a fight with their spouse or had an impure thought. I’m not saying those things aren’t struggles or that they aren’t real. They most definitely are. But this here, this hardcore struggle against flesh and blood, this is where the rubber meets the road. And nobody is talking about it (except maybe the guys from Bad Christian Podcast, and God bless them). So I want to be a voice crying out in the wilderness…I’m struggling, man, and I want to share it with you so that if you’re struggling like this, you know that you’re not alone. And maybe together, we can start breaking this desire to be bad. Lord willing. 🙂

Questions, Christians, and 50 Shades of Grey

questions by Stuart MilesI’m not going to see 50 Shades of Grey. I think that, if you’ve read my testimony and followed my blog, you know that for me to see that would be incredibly hypocritical. I did not read the books, and I am not following the hype. But I am on social media, and I know people are excited about it—even many Christians. And I don’t understand that. I have been reading comments on social media from Christians who are going to see the movie, and trying to understand their reasons for doing so. In response, bear with me as I ask some questions to get us thinking—and praying.

Some Christians have claimed that it is a redemptive love story—because Christian Grey comes from a very dark past, and eventually, this young lady saves him from that dark past. I understand redemption, because the best redemptive love story can be found in the Bible—and because I have lived through redemption myself. I was very lost in a world of porn and addiction to sexual promiscuity, so I do somewhat understand that about Christian Grey. But my question is this: does a love story of redemption need to include lewd and graphic sexual content to tell the story? In other words, do you need to see a video of my sexual escapades in order for me to tell my story of redemption? Of course not. If I posted a video of myself having sex with someone as part of my story here, Christians would RIGHTLY be enraged. But some of these same Christians will go into a movie theater and watch lewd sexual situations in this movie because “it is part of the characters’ redemptive love story.” Both situations are pornography. One is more acceptable by Christians. My brothers, this should not be so.

The other aspect to the “redemptive love story” claim is the idea of trying to present darkness as light. I have done this a lot in the past to justify my decision to do something I know is not increasing my Christlikeness. But I am reminded of a few things from God’s Word. First, the devil presents lies as truth and darkness as light. In Genesis 3, that is exactly how he deceived Adam and Eve. Even today, he continues as the great deceiver who packages some aspect of the light (it’s a redemptive love story) around darkness (it’s also full of sexual deviance and mistreatment). He is, of course, the father of lies. And the Bible is very clear that Satan and his servants disguise themselves as angels of light and servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14). So my question is this: have you been fooled into believing that this movie’s darkness is light?

I have also seen many Christians who will see this movie claim, “you can’t judge me,” “don’t judge me,” or “only God can judge me.” Interestingly enough, Matthew 7:1 is American Christianity’s favorite Bible verse to quote. American Christians, in my opinion, don’t believe they should be held accountable for the choices they make. And that is simply not true. To judge is to hand down the verdict as to whether or not you are guilty and I give you a sentence based on your guilt. And it’s true—only God can do that. But when there’s a standard or a law that you obviously don’t live up to, then I can and should point that out and lovingly correct you. Paul even gave us the how-to guide for that in Galatians (6:1, and chapter 2 when he lived it out). In fact, most of Paul’s letters were written to point out blatant sin in the church—but Paul was not God, so should we disregard most of the New Testament? Of course not! As fellow believers, we do indeed have not only the right but the responsibility to lovingly hold each other accountable for our sins, including impurity, lewdness, pornography, and fornication—all things represented in the movie 50 Shades of Grey. And that’s why we need to think before we say, “don’t judge me.” But my question is: would you even need to say “don’t judge me” if you weren’t doing something that you knew was not in line with Scripture?

I can’t tell anyone what choice to make, but I can tell those who claim to be believers what the Bible says. It says to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), to think on pure things, to be pure as God is pure. We don’t do these things because we are prudes, we do them because we want to please God with our actions and our thoughts. We do them because our example, Jesus Christ, would. God’s will for every believer is simple: Christlikeness (see Genesis through Revelation). So my question is: how does seeing this movie contribute to your Christlikeness? Because that is the question we should be asking ourselves—not just about this movie, but about everything we say and do.

I pray that Christians will begin to stand up for Jesus Christ and the Holy Word, not Christian Grey and Hollywood.

Read more awesome coverage about reasons to skip 50 Shades of Grey here, here, and here, or check out an awesome book about Christian women and our awesome sexuality “Pulling Back the Shades” by Dannah Gresh here.

My First Love

Success. Everyone wants to tell you how to get it. In the business world, companies that made it big want to tell you how to succeed—even if they are Christian. Recently, I have been struggling with the idea of success. A few months ago, I was doing all the things that everyone told me to do to be successful: I was doing my social media posts, I was writing blog posts, I was talking to people about my business, I was scheduling events. I had a business plan for 2015, a brand new calendar to write my new business stuff in, and a head full of steam. I was “hustling,” as a friend of mine and I started saying about ourselves.

love sky by winnond

image courtesy of winnond / freedigitalphotos.net

 

I planned a brief vacation with my mom, with full intent of “getting back to hustling” when I returned. I couldn’t work on vacation—I was in another country and wanted to be present with my mother. So I put away my cell phone, my blogging, and all the nice new habits I had acquired. When I returned, I picked up my cell phone…and some weird virus that left me mostly incapacitated for the month of November. Then my father died in early December, and I spent the rest of that month mourning and recuperating. I realized that I was exhausted. I had been doing a lot. But save for one week in November, I had forgotten how to BE.

The seven letters to the churches in Revelation are one of many lists of seven in the Bible that correspond to the seven spiritual gifts in Romans 6. As a prophet spiritual gift, the first of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2:1-6 has always beckoned to me. I was recalling this over the holidays, thinking about where I am and what it means. Here’s what it says:

I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. (Revelation 2:2-5)

More than ever, this passage spoke to me. Of course God knows my deeds and my toil and my perseverance—that I have endured for His name’s sake and have not grown weary. But soon after my father’s death, I realized I had left my first love. Was I spending time in prayer? Sure. But I was spending more time “doing” God’s work than I was “being” with Him. For the same reason that I put away my cell phone while I was on vacation to be with my mom, God wanted me to put away these deeds and get back to my first love—being with Him.

So what does that mean? Does that mean PPG Ministries is no more? Of course not! But it means that I have to give up some of the “comforts” in my business for now, like posting on social media. I’m trading those things in for quality time at the feet of my Master. I want PPG Ministries to be filled with God, not with me. My business really belongs to God, anyway—so I know I can trust Him with it. And I’m finding that this is its own purity challenge—the challenge to bring holiness into all areas of my life, not just my sexuality.

Maybe you’re out there, having forgotten your first love, and you need to hit the reset button. Maybe God is asking you to give something back to Him so that He can refine and purify it and you, and make you both better than you ever knew. My challenge to you today is this: will you let Him? Will you trust God enough to give back to Him what is already His? If so, join me on this journey of purification. I don’t know where it’s going to lead, but I do know that God’s plans for us are for good and not evil, to prosper us and not to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). And as further proof of that, here’s how that passage in Revelation ends:

To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)

So are you ready for this year? Or more importantly, are you ready for this God? Ready or not, here He comes. 🙂

Spiritually Healthy Habits: Simplicity

spirit health by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

My space was shrinking. I moved from a two-bedroom house into an apartment in someone’s house, and I had about half the space I had in my previous place of residence. So I got a storage unit and put everything I couldn’t fit into the apartment into the storage unit. One year after living in the apartment, I realized something: I had not been to that storage unit even once during that year to get anything out. I had everything I needed in my apartment and then some. So I did what any convicted person would do: I opened up the storage unit to my friends. Anything they saw in there that they wanted or needed, they could take free of charge. Then I took what was left—about ten boxes—and headed to the dump. I threw the boxes into the trash compactor without even opening them to see their contents.

Spiritually healthy people practice simplicity in their lives. Why should we seek simplicity? Because simplicity will clarify your life in the following ways:

  • Simplicity refines our spirituality. The spiritual discipline of simplicity may not seem like a “spiritual” health issue at all, but the Bible says to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). “These things” refers to what we shall eat, drink, or wear (Matthew 6:31). Our simplicity is often centered on these earthly things—having a nice house, eating at nice restaurants, wearing designer clothes. And if we are worried about these earthly things, then we have little time to be concerned with heavenly things. The remedy is to simplify: to focus less on these things gives us more time to engage in our relationship with Christ and His people. Because if we simplify and seek God’s kingdom first, “these things” will take care of themselves. If you want to clarify your spiritual life, seek simplicity.
  • Simplicity refines our physical space. When I moved into the apartment from the house, though I had a smaller place, I had more space—because I had less junk. This meant I felt less anxious when it was time to clean, because I not only had less space to clean, but I had fewer trinkets to dust and furniture to vacuum around. I felt renewed—I had more than enough space to live! I was reminded that Jesus lived a simple life. In fact, He encouraged us to “not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). The less “earthly treasures” I have, the less I worry about thieves, and the more room I have to store up treasures in heaven. Want to de-clutter your physical space? Seek to simplify.
  • Simplicity refines us emotionally. I did not open up the boxes before I threw them away because I knew that if I did, I would find some reason to keep most of the stuff. “Oh, he gave that to me in middle school…” The more stuff we have, the more emotional ties we have to that stuff! It is the reason we keep so much “stuff”—both physical and emotional—in our lives. In Matthew 6, Jesus continues, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (6:20). I realized when I let go of those boxes, I was letting go of many emotional ties—some good, some bad—that were holding on to me. I was emotionally purified in the process and freed to hold onto what God wanted me to hold onto. So where is your treasure—and your heart?

In our consumer-driven society, simplicity is one of the hardest spiritually healthy habits to practice. But I want to challenge each of you to begin practicing simplicity by changing how you think about things. For the next week, each time you make a non-food purchase, ask yourself, “Am I storing up treasures on earth or treasures in heaven with this purchase?” If you accept this simplicity challenge, then leave me a comment below to let me know how you did. Best of luck!

Spiritually Healthy Habits: Giving

spirit health by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

I had just been laid off at my job and I was searching for another one with very little luck. I was getting a small amount of unemployment and living off the little savings I had. I was still attending church and going to my small group, though, and one week, I found myself listening to the prayer requests of a young woman who wanted to attend an internship in another state. She had been accepted into the internship, but did not have the $350 to buy the one-way plane ticket to get there. As I listened and prayed during the group, I heard God say, “Give her the money for her plane ticket.” I opened my eyes wide and muttered, “I know you just didn’t say that, God.” But I heard it again, so I decided to wait a week to see if that was really what God wanted me to do—after all, I was unemployed and needed that money. But the feeling never went away, and the following week, I presented that young woman with the check for her plane ticket—with no strings attached.

Spiritually healthy people practice giving as a way of life. But although giving definitely includes financial resources, giving is not just about money. Here are three ways you can practice giving more in your life:

  • Give your money cheerfully. This is probably the hardest thing for people, because money is such a necessary commodity in our world. Whenever we earn some, we think it is “ours” and that we need to hold onto it, save it, or use it for our own good. It’s hard to write that check to the electric company, or the mortgage company, or (especially) the church—because we need that money for ourselves! But the Word says that God “loves a cheerful giver” and that we should give “not reluctantly or in response to pressure” (2 Corinthians 9:7). God wants us to give, but He also wants us to have the right attitude. When is the last time you gave away your money cheerfully?
  • Give your time abundantly. Time is another commodity we have a hard time giving away because like money, we want to spend time selfishly on ourselves. And while it is healthy to have some time to ourselves, we also have to give our time to the things that God tells us is important. Some people say time is the most precious of all our resources—because you cannot earn it back. But Christians know that our times are in the hands of the Almighty (Psalm 31:15). And if our time belongs to Him, then we should seek what He wants us to devote our time to instead of what we want. And we should give it abundantly to those people and causes! Where do you give your time abundantly?
  • Give your whole self lovingly. Giving yourself is more than just giving your time. I have spent plenty of time doing things for friends. I’ve worked it into my schedule and given it time; I may have even spent money on them. But I have only been there physically. I haven’t invested myself emotionally and spiritually; I haven’t laid down my life for my friends. If we are truly loving and giving people who want to be spiritually healthy, we have to lay down our lives—ourselves—for our friends (1 John 3:16). Jesus said there was no greater love, and that is the love we should strive to achieve. To do this, we have to be authentic and willing to be held accountable. When is the last time you laid down your life for someone else?

The young woman to whom I gave the plane ticket ended up staying in that state, and I love seeing how she continually gives back to the community there. It reminds me that I don’t give so that *I* can receive in return, I give so that others can receive and see the glory of God. So I encourage you to give—because none of it is really yours anyway. 🙂