BIRDS, BEES AND MEN – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW  (Yes, this is about sex.)

BIRDS, BEES AND MEN – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW (Yes, this is about sex.)

Sex Pin 0Birds do it, bees do it (but drone bees actually die after sex), and most men want it. A lot.

Some suggest that men think about sex as often as most people blink, about 15 times a minute, or every 4 seconds. However, studies indicate that it’s more like 15-20 times a day and not hundreds of times per hour. Whatever the number, it’s safe to say men think about sex on a regular basis.

How researchers measure how many times a person thinks about sex is a mystery to me. A complicating factor in most studies is known as the “white bear problem.” If you want to have fun with a child, tell them to put their hand in the air and only put it down when they’ve stopped thinking about a white bear. Once you start thinking about something, trying to forget it just brings it back to mind.

Additionally, one’s age, health, energy and environment matter. A robust eighteen-year-old at the beach probably has sexual thoughts far more often than an old man taking an afternoon nap during a football game (then again, there are those cheerleaders).

Whatever the statistics, I’m going to make two assumptions: 1) men think about sex on a regular basis; 2) few women understand the challenges most men face regarding sex.

Sex Pin 1

By the way, there’s one more thing I want to clear up before we go any further. Experiencing arousal does not mean men are automatically leaping from arousal to imagining infidelity or undressing every woman they meet. There is a difference between arousal and sexual fantasy or activity. Of course, arousal might lead to fantasy or sexual activity, but that depends on what we do with those thoughts.

Let me be painfully clear: Sexual arousal or even sexual temptation is not a sin. It’s what we do with those thoughts and temptations that matter. (Read that sentence again; it’s important.)

So what is the difference between arousal and sexual sin?

  • Arousal: Wow! That person is hot! And you may even experience attraction.

  • Sexual sin: I want to have sex with him/her. You fantasize about the act of sex with someone other than your spouse, which Jesus said is sin (Matthew 5:28). Of course, it’s also wrong to pursue emotional and physical satisfaction through intercourse with someone other than your spouse.

The only way arousal becomes a problem is if you let it control you rather than learning to exercise control over your mind and heart.

Sex Pin 2

Here’s my presupposition: You can’t stop arousal or attraction, but you can direct or redirect your thoughts and actions. We are sexual beings made by God with sexual desires. By God’s design, sexuality is a part of our humanity. It’s literally in our DNA. Again, it’s what we do with that desire that determines whether we end up in sin or not.

So what’s a person to do? (BTW, these apply to everyone, not just men.)

  1. Admire beauty with caution. It’s normal and okay to acknowledge someone is attractive. However, allowing that acknowledgement to become lust is not. When we linger, we lust. In other words, it’s nearly impossible to stare at someone and not drift to something beyond admiration. You know the difference. You know where the line is, so don’t cross it. If you’re looking at someone other than your spouse and think, Gotta have that! then you’re lusting. Lust is about wanting something that doesn’t belong to you.

  1. Don’t excuse lust or porn as harmless. They’re not. In fact, allowing these things into your heart creates at least two problems: 1) you start to see people as objects rather than those created in the image of God; 2) you throw yourself into a vortex that leads to more aberrant and uncontrollable sexual thoughts, making natural sexual experiences unsatisfying.

    Porn does not satisfy your sexual longings. Porn does not bring you sexual relief. Porn twists your perspective of this gift of sex from God and fans the flame of lust that makes it difficult not to be obsessed with sex.

    In marriage, sex is a gift. However, when we take that gift and pollute it with images that are unholy, we end up driven by compulsions that are self-centered. What can be done to satisfy me becomes the focus rather than putting our spouse’s needs before our own.

    If you find yourself drifting to porn, I suggest you get an accountability partner and accountability software, then learn to identify your triggers and avoid them like the plague. In other words, make it difficult to look at pornography, and find a friend who will help you.

Sex Pin 3

  1. Make holy and healthy choices with your eyes, heart and mind. At the moment of arousal, you can make a choice to pursue it or control it. Take those sexual thoughts captive (redirect them) rather than becoming enslaved by lust.

    Tragically, we live in a culture in which people are encouraged to dress provocatively. Sexy clothing is sold everywhere. We’ve become accustomed to suggestive apparel and indecent exposure. Certainly, this complicates things for anyone attempting to make moral choices.

    Nonetheless, the Word says guard your heart, protect your eyes, and flee immorality. Each of those admonitions (and many others) involve a choice you and I must make. We are sexual beings; we had no choice in that matter. But by God’s grace and through healthy, godly choices we can thrive despite the challenges of our times.

Choose well. Live well. Be well.

Sex Pin 5

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WHY YOUR PAST DOESN’T HAVE TO DISQUALIFY YOU

WHY YOUR PAST DOESN’T HAVE TO DISQUALIFY YOU

Past 1 God Chooses Losers

I love a good story, especially one where God chooses to use losers and idiots (like you and me).

A few years ago, I had coffee with a middle-aged man in our church. Mark was gifted and full of potential. However, I noticed that he’d stayed in the shadows and refused to get involved. When I asked him why, he replied, “Oh, I wish I could serve, but I’m divorced.”

I was flabbergasted. “Who told you divorced means disqualified?”

He took the next twenty or so minutes to tell me his story. He and his first wife married young. Neither one of them was a Christ-follower. They both came from broken and dysfunctional homes deeply bound by sexual sins. During the course of their ten-year marriage, both of them had multiple affairs. The fact that their marriage had survived as long as it did surprised everybody who knew them. Eventually, they “fell out of love” (I hate that phrase) and went their separate ways.

A few years later, after another failed marriage and two DUIs, Mark hit bottom and ended up in AA. His sponsor was the first person to ever tell Mark about Jesus. Eventually, he became a devout follower of Christ, and within another year or so he married a godly woman who loved Jesus with all her heart.

He was Lutheran. She was active in the Church of Christ. Neither one of them felt comfortable in the other’s denomination, so they decided to start fresh at a new church in their neighborhood. After just a few months, they were told, “You are welcome to attend our church, but you can’t serve here since you are living in sin.”

With tears in his eyes, Mark said to me, “We had no idea that God saw our new marriage as a mistake, but we couldn’t divorce each other. If that means we can’t serve God, so be it.”

I went from being flabbergasted to being pissed! How could anyone tell this man he was disqualified because of sin that had happened before he was even a Christ-follower? I grabbed my Bible and went pastoral on him. With a passion that surprised him, I assured this brother that he did not need to live as a second-class Christian.

Past 2 No 2nd Class Christians

Maybe you’ve read this verse: “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”[2] Or perhaps you’re familiar with Paul’s words to Titus, “God saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”[3]

I looked Mark in the eye and said, “Buddy, everything that happened BC (before Christ) is gone! New birth and new life mean a new start, and we are never disqualified by what we did before we surrendered our lives to Jesus! In fact, the blood of Jesus covers all our sin, including the ones we committed after becoming a Christian. If we’ve confessed it and repented of it, no past sin can rob us of our destiny or disqualify us from service in God’s kingdom!”

It was his turn to be dumbstruck. It was as if the heavens parted and he heard the voice of God saying, “You are my beloved son, and I am well pleased with you.”

Is divorce a sin? Often it is, but it’s not the unpardonable sin. Why do we so easily doubt the goodness of God? Why do we listen to the gloomy voices of the self-righteous or the dark voice of the accuser? Why are we so quick to disqualify ourselves because of failure?

Here’s a crazy idea: Let’s stop making excuses, walk in forgiveness, and not let our regrets become a reason to opt out of living an epic life in Christ.

There’s something I need you to embrace and remember: Our past shapes us, but it doesn’t have to control us. Our history influences our future, but it shouldn’t imprison us. In Christ, we are more than the sum of our past mistakes.

Bottom line—God is bigger than your past and greater than your sins.

Past 3 God is Bigger

 

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[1] A paraphrase of the biblical book of Jeremiah, chapter one.

[2] 2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT

[3] Titus 3:5, NLT

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11 Responses to WHY YOUR PAST DOESN’T HAVE TO DISQUALIFY YOU

  1. Really great word. Thank you.

    I truly wish I could get certain people in my life to actually believe this. It’s devastating to watch people live in the defeat of their past mistakes or things they’ve done.

    I have said the exact words you shared “your past does not have to define you.” It shapes you, but does not have to define you.

    I live by this because I am very aware of what Jesus did for me and who I am in Him. But to others, choosing to live in this freedom is seen as Christian rhetoric. And when trying to share this truth, it’s referred to as Christian-ese.

    I’ll just keep my faith. And keep praying.

  2. Kurt,
    Isn’t the church grafted into the vine? And hasn’t Israel been cut off of the vine? So if that standard that a divorced person cannot be used by God were true, then how can one explain the continued love and promise God has for His chosen people. “His first love”. One day Israel will be grafted back into the vine, only to be used mightily by God.
    Why is it that so many limit the reach of God’s forgiveness and grace to what seems to be a “reasonable expectation”. God hates sin, all of it, from rolling through a stop sign, to (place your worst sin here) and all sin makes us unusable by Him. But His love, grace and mercy for us is what makes us all equally justified in His eyes through the blood of his only son. God used David, and not only that called him a Man after His own heart. I’m sure your words to Mark reached out much further than one man.

    Saved by grace, not by gross.
    Cary

  3. A quote comes to mind, but I can’t remember where (Winston Churchill I think):”Those who choose to forget the past, are doomed to repeat it”. But, God does “forget the past” when He forgives us, and heals us; so remember, learn, and be healed. I was broken, but God put me back together, and is working to heal the scars. I am whole because of Him. I am so very glad you wrote this piece, Kurt, because so many people NEED to hear it. And HEED it!!! Love, Jim

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HOW TO USE THE POWER OF THE MUTE BUTTON (And Why It Matters!)

HOW TO USE THE POWER OF THE MUTE BUTTON (And Why It Matters!)

Mute Busy

Our world is filled with noise. It’s hard to find a place of quiet reflection anymore. Whether it’s some kid’s over-driven-bass-thumping music from his car, the laughter or racket of children, or jets overhead—we are frequently bombarded with sound. Some good. Some not so good.

Due to my bad back, bad knees, and bulbous belly, I haven’t backpacked in years. One of the things I miss about those great outdoor outings into the backcountry of the Cascades or Glacier National Park is the serenity. Except for the occasional call of a bull elk or the melodic chatter of birds, the silence was golden. Those quiet times refueled my soul.

Believe it or not, I’m an introvert. I love people. I can engage in a crowd with smiles and conversation. But I am refreshed in moments of solitude. There’s nothing I love more than a good book in one hand and a great cup of java in the other. Reading. Alone.

Mute Solace

I find solace in solitude.

Interestingly, many people are uncomfortable with silence. I know people who must have a radio, CD or TV playing in the background all the time. Perhaps quiet intimidates some or makes them feel alone. Maybe the hum of a TV in the background silences an inner voice they’d rather not hear. I’m not sure why, but too many humans fill their environment with white noise of a sort, and they avoid silence as if it were the cause of Ebola.

Some might argue, I just like to be informed, or music matters to me. I understand. But I wonder if we’ve filled our heads with so much information, news, and opinions of others on FOX that we’ve forgotten how to reflect, meditate, and think on our own. Is it possible that we’ve so filled our heads with the music of others that we’ve lost the ability to create music in our hearts?

I read. A lot. My book budget is ridiculous. I could be a professional reader if somebody would just pay me to do so! I subscribe to no fewer than twenty blogs. I appreciate the insights and wisdom of others. However, if I don’t take the time just to sit and think on a regular basis, then the swirl of data I’m jamming into my mind is of no value.

Mute Reflection

Reflection leads to realization. Meditation results in movement. Silence produces substance.

So here’s what I propose: hit the mute button—often. Find a place and time to quiet your heart, mind, and soul every day. If you’re like the old woman who lived in a shoe, get up early to invest at least the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee or tea alone before the craziness begins.

When we had children at home, my wife would have them take an hour a day to be quiet. Even after they were way past taking naps, they were told to find a spot to read. No playing. No talking. Quiet time for all (including momma!). By the way, all of my grown children are avid readers to this day because of that daily family ritual.

Mute Girl Alone

You can do this . . .

  • Turn off the electronics for at least thirty minutes a day. (Yes, that means your smart phone.)

  • Take a walk someplace other than Main Street or the mall.

  • Clear some space in your closet if you must, crawl in there and close the door for twenty minutes.

  • Turn the CD player off on the way home from work and think, What did I learn today? What am I thankful for in my life?

  • At the very least, turn off your car radio once in a while and savor the relative silence.

I am grateful for modern technology. I use it. I like it. But I will not let it rob me of what I need most—moments alone—quiet time to ponder, contemplate and ruminate.

How about you? Introvert or not, you too need daily downtime to maintain your sanity. Don’t wait for it to happen; make it happen.

Who knows what great idea or dream is waiting to sprout out of the soil of solitude and personal reflection?

Mute Meditate

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THREE THINGS TO DO WHEN WAITING IS TOUGH

THREE THINGS TO DO WHEN WAITING IS TOUGH

Most of us hate the word wait. It’s a four-letter word that stirs up all sorts of negative emotions. No kid likes to hear, “Wait your turn.” No adult likes to wait in long lines at the DMV. No husband enjoys waiting for his wife to do “just one more thing before we go”. No wife loves waiting for her husband to fix the kitchen faucet he promised to repair a month ago. And I’ve never met anyone who appreciates it when they feel God is saying, “Not yet. Wait.”

In our minds, waiting ranks right up there with a root canal. Necessary perhaps, but not at all fun.

Wait Hard when silent

The most difficult challenge for me, and maybe for you too, is waiting for God. We pray. We fast. We search the Scriptures for a promise. We vow to God to be better and to do better, believing somehow that we can twist His arm into action. We desperately look for something, anything to hang our hopes on. We cry out to Papa God for answers, and we curse the heavens when He seems silent.

A dear friend of mine has suffered with infertility for years. She’s tried everything, read every book she could get her hands on, talked to multiple doctors and attempted several expensive medical procedures. She and her husband have the medical bills to prove it. And yet nothing has changed. No pregnancy. No baby. No answers. And hope is waning.

A thirty-something woman I know is single and frustrated. She’s intelligent and gifted; she’s attractive and full of life. She’s tried online dating sites and a few blind dates that were set up by friends. She’s even met a couple of guys who her mom thought were perfect for her, yet they weren’t. (Seriously, Mom?) At this point, all she wants is to be a wife and a mom, but both of those dreams seem elusive. She sometimes cries herself to sleep at night wondering what’s wrong with her and why she can’t find the man of her dreams.

Waiting is hard. It hurts. We want to believe God has a plan. We pray for patience and perspective. But the passing of time is painful.

At the heart of this issue is more than just a struggle with patience. We find it hard to wait because sometimes we find it difficult to trust God.

pregare

We lie awake in the darkness wondering . . .

Has God forgotten me?

Have I brought this pain upon myself because I’m a failure?

Do I not deserve what I’m longing for, or am I being punished?

Does God have my best interest in mind?

Can He be counted on to make good on His promises?

Does God have any idea what I’m going through?

Is God even listening to me?

Regardless of the circumstances, we all face the same question: Will I trust God to create His masterpiece in and through me, or will I demand to be the master of my fate? In other words, will we trust Him or take matters into our own hands?

Wait Trust Trees

WHAT IT TAKES TO WAIT

Here are some extremely practical things I’ve learned along the way about waiting. Are these things easy? No. Are they worth it? Absolutely.

            First, you have to determine now what you will do during a delay. By that I mean, if you wait until you’ve waited to the point of frustration to decide how you will handle the delay, you’re going to be in trouble. It’s best to understand early in the process that God’s sense of timing is radically different from ours. Unlike us, God sees the end from the beginning. Unlike us, God is just as concerned about what happens along the way as He is the end result. In fact, sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Why? Because during the delay our faith and character are forged.

            Second, to wait for Him means to actively engage in your present circumstances with joy. Rather than miss what’s happening right now because you’re so preoccupied with your future, God wants you to be fully present in the moment. Sadly, while waiting for God to do the one thing or the big thing I desperately desired, too often I missed a thousand “little” things that mattered to Him. Instead of resisting and resenting the process of waiting, choose to look for God every day and to find His purpose in the present.

Wait Present Sunset

            And finally, for you to wait with patience and faith, it’s always best to have someone in your corner encouraging you to hold on. My wife, Laura, consistently inspires me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. By her example and her words, she frequently reminds me that God is good, He is faithful, and He always has a plan. She challenges me not to let the known and the seen world discount what God is doing in the unseen realm. Frankly, you will wait more successfully when you find a partner who will stand with you in the darkness and confusion and whisper into your soul, “It’s okay; we’re not alone . . . He is here.”

It seems that victory and failure often go together in our spiritual journey. Sometimes we wait for God and we grow. Sometimes we act impulsively and rashly and we still grow, but it just takes longer. And sometimes, we fail miserably, but even then God is patient and good and able to redeem any situation and any broken life that is surrendered to Him.

There’s that word again, surrender. For a Christ-follower, surrender and trust are interwoven. You can’t succeed at one without the other, especially when it comes to waiting.

Wait Surrender

 “They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.”

Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

 

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10 Responses to THREE THINGS TO DO WHEN WAITING IS TOUGH

  1. I agree, Kurt. Waiting is tough, especially when we WANT something. So, I have a verse that inspires me: 1 Peter 3:15 [Full Chapter]

    But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

    Jesus tells us to “not worry” and live for each day. And, this tells us to have faith, and have that faith always in the forefront of all that we do. Waiting requires patience, and the manifestation of our faith is knowing that the Holy Spirit is within us, and the ultimate reward is dying to this world to be in His, consciously. Life is a gift, and we should treasure and enjoy it ALWAYS!!! I love to read what comes from your heart!!!

    • Life is indeed a gift…and one where waiting is almost always good for us in some way. Thanks for your thoughts, Jim, and thanks for the kind words too. You are loved.

  2. I did used to hate that word, but one day I realized God was saying wait with expectation. That changed my thinking. He’s really got a plan and will come through. My hardest thing to wait for is that my whole family follow Jesus with passion. He is working on that harder and better than I could and I trust he will bring it about.

    Love you friend!

  3. Great article! We so often focus on the waiting from our side of things. I wonder if God ever gets tired of waiting for us…to worship him properly, serve him humbly, to make a deliberate decision of moving toward spiritual maturity? I’m afraid He may have spent more time waiting on me than I have waiting on him. And yet still, he loves me. Grace…it really is amazing!

BIRDS, BEES AND MEN – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW  (Yes, this is about sex.)
Birds do it, bees do it (but drone bees actually die after sex), and most men want it. A lot. So [more]
WHY YOUR PAST DOESN’T HAVE TO DISQUALIFY YOU
I love a good story, especially one where God chooses to use losers and idiots (like you and me [more]
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Our world is filled with noise. It’s hard to find a place of quiet reflection anymore. Whether [more]
THREE THINGS TO DO WHEN WAITING IS TOUGH
Most of us hate the word wait. It’s a four-letter word that stirs up all sorts of negative emot [more]
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