Category Archives: Guest Posts

Moving Through Sin ~ A Guest Post by Pastor James Emery White

Moving Through Sin ~ A Guest Post by Pastor James Emery White

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We all sin. Real, honest, hard-core moral rebellion.

From addictions to pornography; from an uncontrolled temper, a critical spirit and uncontrolled tongue to greed and ambition; from cut-loose pride to adulterous thoughts and even actions.

 Broken Figure LegWe are sinners.

 Present tense. Today. Multiple times.

 I know I am. The stench of my sin, the shame of it, the demoralizing dynamic it plays in my life – particularly as a leader – are among the deepest of my spiritual challenges.

 And I hate my sin.

 But it’s very real.

 One of the most honest statements I have ever read was from a French thinker named Joseph de Maistre who said, “I do not know what the heart of a rascal may be; I know what is in the heart of an honest man; it is horrible.” Or as the nineteenth-century Christian leader Alexander Whyte said to a woman who showered praise on his life, “Madam, if you knew the man I really was, you would spit in my face.”

 He wasn’t talking about hypocrisy. He was referring to the reality of human depravity in people’s lives.

 Even leader’s lives.

 Like mine.

As Christians, we are redeemed by Christ and engaged in the ongoing process of transformation; but we are sinners nonetheless. So what we do with our sin becomes the pivotal issue. This is where spiritual growth is won or lost. I don’t say this lightly, as if attempting to avoid sin is not significant. It is significant. But in our weakness and depravity we will fail, and it is at the moment of failure that we encounter one of life’s most defining moments – not simply moving past sin, but moving through it.

Here comes the rub: the typical person of faith has no idea how to react – deeply and biblically – to the sin in their life. Much less how to walk through the four stages critical to addressing it, which begins with the simple task of “realization.”

Rejection Girl

 Realization

In the midst of sin, it’s often difficult to see the sin. Or perhaps more honestly, we have made the choice not to see it. The first step toward dealing with sin is to realize that we have, indeed, sinned. Faithful to our soul development, God will always bring that conviction to bear. Yet if we ignore the earliest pangs of conviction and instead purpose in our hearts to turn away from God, we dampen the sensitivity within our spiritual system to our choice. The more we turn away, the more calloused and deadened we become.

Regret

Right on the heels of realization should flow regret. This is wishing you hadn’t done what you did. Unfortunately, regret – by itself – is rarely penetrating. It has more to do with the fact that you are having to pay for what you did (or got caught) than anything else. You’re emotionally distraught, but it’s because of the consequences you face, not really for the act itself, which speaks to the importance of moving into third stage, “remorse.”

Remorse

When you move beyond regret into remorse, you experience spiritual sorrow. This is not anguish over what your actions have brought to bear on your life as much as it is agony that you did a wrong thing in the eyes of God. This is the essence of spiritual remorse: having your heart break because you’ve broken the heart of God.

Mary at His feet

In my own life, I know how easy it is to admit I’ve taken a “less than best” course of action. In other words, I am quick to express regret. What is missing is any sense of anguish that I have done something wrong. When this refusal to be remorseful is allowed to take full reign in someone’s life, there can be an almost militant spirit that seeks to justify their course of action as both understandable and unavoidable. Albert Camus, in his novel The Fall, observed that, “Each man insists on being innocent, even if it means accusing the whole human race, even heaven.” But even a healthy sense of sin that brings remorse isn’t the highest or deepest place a soul can travel.

Repentance

The final destination of the soul when responding to sin should always be repentance. This is when you realize what you’ve done, regret it, experience authentic remorse over it, and then seek to turn from it. This is the literal meaning of the word “repentance.” To repent is to be heading in one direction, come to the realization that it is the wrong way, and with regret and remorse, turn around and head where you should have been going all along.

One of the easiest habits to fall into is the repetitive cycle of confession that seeks forgiveness, over and over again, without ever moving into repentance. You commit a sin, so you confess it and ask God to forgive you. Again and again. This can’t be all you do to address the sin in your life. You must move on to repentance. To truly repent isn’t simply the seeking of forgiveness, it’s turning around. It’s stopping, replacing, moving, ending, giving, correcting, quitting, fixing, returning…

…in a word, changing.

Fear Leap

Lingering Guilt

Once you seek forgiveness and repent, what then? You are forgiven. And you need to walk in that forgiveness. Accept and apply the grace you have been given. As Corrie ten Boom once said, when God forgives us, he takes our sins to the deepest part of the ocean, attaches a large weight, drops them overboard and puts up a “No Fishing” sign.

But that’s often easier said than done. The feelings of guilt and shame rarely just vaporize. They linger on like a bad odor, impacting every facet of our lives, making us question the degree and extent of God’s acceptance.

I once read of a medical report that told how amputees will experience the sensation of a phantom limb. They will have lost their arm, or lost their leg, but somewhere, locked in their brains, a memory lingers of that limb, a memory so strong that they can feel their toes curl or their hand grasp, but it’s not really there. God doesn’t want that for our lives. The Bible tells us that: “This is how we shall know that we are children of the truth and can reassure ourselves in the sight of God, even if our own conscience makes us feel guilty. For God is greater than our conscience, and he knows everything.” (I John 3:19-20)

But what if we sin again? No matter how authentic the repentance, we may fall prey to the temptation again, and wonder what this means for our relationship with God.

Give up b & w guy

Repeated Sin

There are two extremes to avoid. The first is presumption. We should never wink at our sins, and say: “Oops, sorry, God. I guess I kind of blew it this time. I sure am glad you’re aaalll llloooovve” and then think of God chuckling a bit saying, “Oh well, boys will be boys.” God is not mocked, and grace must never be cheapened. Paying for our sin cost Jesus His very life, and the call on life is plain: “You must be Holy, for I am Holy.” (I Peter 1:16)

Equally distorted would be to forget the scandalously inexhaustible depth of grace that God is only too willing to bestow upon authentically repentant men and women. The wonder and joy of this can be found in the 32nd Psalm. It’s worth a read:

Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be – you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean. Count yourself lucky – God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him. When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up.  Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.” Suddenly the pressure was gone – my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared. (Psalm 32:1-5, Msg)

Yet throughout this journey, it would be wise to remember that Satan is not exactly sitting on the sidelines cheering this process on. He despises a repentant life, so he will do what he can to muddy the waters. He will try and have you resist realization, resent regret, reject remorse, and refuse repentance.

And even if he’s not successful at any of those junctures, he will then earn his reputation as the great accuser.

Here’s what will happen:

The Holy Spirit will convict you of sin in your life. You will handle it in a God-honoring way, moving through realization and regret, remorse and repentance. After that process has come to fruition, Satan will move in and accuse you of that sin.

“Who do you think you are?” 

“You call yourself a Christian?”

“No Christian would ever do what you did.”

“You don’t really think you and God are just going to be ‘okay’ after that, do you?”

We must learn to discern the difference between the voice of the evil one and the voice of the Holy Spirit. When it comes to sin, the Holy Spirit will convict, but never accuse. Satan has only one note to sing, and he uses it for the monotone chant of indictment. 

Anything but the new lease on life repentance brings.

Anything but moving through sin as part of the journey

…to moving past it.

James Emery White

Broken Woman Healed

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.
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Stuff ~ A Guest Post by Brooke Perry

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{I have known Brooke Perry since she was a little girl. Her father and I were friends many years ago before he passed away from cancer. Since I’m in Africa this week, I asked Brooke to write this post about a major change in her life. This blog is full of great insight. Enjoy! You can check out her blog here.}

Just about a week ago I watched everything I own be put into a 6’x7’x8’ metal box and be driven away on the bed of a truck.

And I don’t miss any of it.

Knowing I wouldn’t see any of it for at least two weeks I kept waiting for that feeling to rise up of regret or lack or emptiness, but I’m still waiting.

I love to fly, even when the flight is like the one I’m on as I write this. This flight has so much turbulence that I don’t even think I’m allowed to have my computer out right now, but seeing as how the flight attendants aren’t even allowed to walk around still 45 minutes into this flight, I think I’m safe from their reprimand. Safe from crashing however is yet to be determined…If you’re reading this, just know I survived.

In nine days I will be boarding another plane, but this time I will be on a one-way trip to Washington DC all the way from my home outside of Portland, OR. I was born and raised in the NW, and other than a 10-month stint in sunny San Diego and as much international travel as I’ve been able to shove into my 31 years of life, I have always lived in the NW, and I have always loved it.

My childhood is here, my friends are here, my family is here, my church is here, and everything I have known that has shaped me into who I am today is here.

And in just a mere nine days from writing this post I will not be here.

Due to the gentle but firm prompting from my grandpa and parents, I decided against driving a U-Haul truck across the country. My step-dad reminded me that maybe I don’t need that much adventure, especially in February weather, when he asked me, “isn’t moving across the country enough adventure already?”. Touché Brad, touché.

So I went with my logical head instead of my dreamy heart—this time—and listened. So I decided to ship my stuff instead.

Let me just tell you right now, even with my limited amount of stuff, that is not a cheap option! Purging was definitely next on my to-do list after looking at my budget, so I started giving away or selling pretty much anything I could bare to part with. There were definitely things that were easier to part with than others, but it became a quite cleansing process.

Even with all of the purging, the day the truck came to deliver the empty metal container I stood there feeling a bit discouraged not knowing how on earth all of the remaining pieces of stuff would ever fit into a space that looked so small. I started to quickly decide what other stuff I could actually part with. In the end we made it all fit thanks to some good friends with amazing tetris-like skills.

I was very thankful that they were able to fit it all, but in the end, as I stood there and watched it drive away the next day I couldn’t help but feel as if I would be just fine if I never saw any of it again.

That was my tangible stuff. The heart stuff that I’m deciding whether to take with me or leave behind however, now that’s a much harder purge to make.

This move has been a catalyst in my life for facing the previously-avoidable-now-turned-unavoidable-stuff.

I’ve been on a journey in this process of ridding my own heart of a lot of the unnecessary intangible stuff, and that is where the real cleansing has begun to take place.

The real question for me has become, what am I holding onto in my heart that is not meant to fit in that relatively small box of necessities that is making this next move with me?

What is unhealthy for me that it is time to purge?

I have realized in this move how blessed I am with relationships in my life, and yet I still allow myself to hold onto doubt and resentment and bitterness toward God for things yet unseen in my life that I have prayed for. Whether it’s for my future husband, for my healing—emotionally, spiritually and physically—or for the myriad of other things that I try and control instead of trusting God with fully.

For the most part I was completely in control with the purging of my possessions, however the purging of the heart stuff? Ya, that job has got to be given completely to God. To give Him control of purging and deciding what’s junk and what gets to go with me is not an easy thing to do.

It’s one thing to proclaim that I trust God and His heart and plan for me, but it’s a whole other thing to be able to get to a place where I could watch a lot of my emotional stuff drive away and say to God, “I would still be whole in you even if I never saw any of those unanswered prayers come to life”

Stuff 4 FallingWoah, that’s even hard to type.

But I’m determined to only type words on a screen that I’m willing to live out. So that’s what I’m doing. I am here, on this bumpy plane, asking God for an increase in my faith. This move is not simply about embarking on a new adventure. It definitely is about what He’s moving me forward into, but it’s also just as much about what I’m willing to leave behind. Perspective is a very healing thing, and although the only thing I can see outside of the plane right now is white fog, my heart is feeling clearer than ever.

What do you need to allow God to purge you of? Seatbelt signs are on, it will be a rough ride at times, but will you commit to trusting God with me on this incredible invitation to freedom?

It’s time to purge the stuff.

You’re not alone.

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The Playboy Grave ~ Guest Post by Dr. James Emery White

The Playboy Grave ~ Guest Post by Dr. James Emery White

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{According to the experts, 3 out of 5 men in the Church viewed porn this past month. The average American will see 15,000 risque ads or promiscuous characters a year on TV. Tragically, this issue is destroying marriages and lives. The following is a guest post by James Emery White and is worth your time.}

Porn Blog Image

Playboy magazine has decided to end printing the pictures of fully naked women. So as many have been joking, if you really did read it just for the articles you’re in luck.

It’s hard for younger generations to realize the cultural weight Playboy threw around. During the 1970s, it was estimated that one out of every four college males was reading it. It “was there at the start of the American sexual revolution in the early 1950s – and drove it wildly through the 1960s and 1970s spanning continents.”

Yet the greater cultural headline is why they will no longer feature nudity.

The rise of internet pornography.

The magazine’s circulation began to drop off in the early 1990s, from a record 7.2 million for the November 1972 edition to just 800,000 today. So the libertarian views of its founder, Hugh Hefner, the “leader of the revolution that helped take sex in America from furtive to ubiquitous,” have won. Or as Scott Flanders, Playboy’s chief executive told the New York Times, “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. It’s just passé at this juncture.”

Yes, it sadly is.

And because we live in such a pornified world, we can forget how damaging that world is.

Let’s not.

It is sexual sin. Jesus made it clear that when we give in to lust, it is akin to the act itself. It makes no difference whether you know the person or not; lust is not tied to relationship.

It is addictive. The ubiquitous nature of porn is new to our culture, and to human sexuality, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it is highly addictive in nature. As a result, it can not only begin to dominate a life, but can demand ever-increasing levels of exposure and ever-increasing degrees of experience to continue to stimulate.

It is degrading to women. In pornography, women are treated as objects. They are not fulfilling God’s dream for their life as His precious daughter, nor are they fulfilling His design for sexual expression and fulfillment. You are watching a woman who is being sinned against, treated in a way that is contemptible to her heavenly Father (whether she sees it or not – and the fact that many may not only adds to its tragic nature). And if you are a woman watching it for the men, it is equally degrading to them.

It leads to other sins. Studies are beginning to show that the effects of porn on men are more than temporary sexual stimulation: as they see women treated as objects, they begin to treat women that way. They become more sexually aggressive, leading to date rapes and expected “hook-ups.”

It harms your relationship with your current, or future, spouse. It is absolutely ridiculous to say that watching porn enhances a sexual life. Instead, it cheapens it. Those caught in its web testify to how porn quickly becomes a substitute for sexual intimacy with your spouse.

It desensitizes your soul. Sin of any kind desensitizes your spiritual life. Continued exposure to a sin such as pornography is like shooting Novocain into your soul. It deadens you and grieves the Holy Spirit in your life, forcing Him to withdraw His utmost filling in a way that diminishes His power and presence in your life.

It distorts sex. Nothing reduces sex to lust more than pornography. Yielding to such images is overwhelmingly addictive, like a narcotic that delivers a quick hit to the emotions or senses, but ravages you from within. It destroys real relationships, real intimacy, real sexuality.

So Playboy magazine finds its nudity irrelevant in a Playboy world. By helping create a sexualized world, it dug its own grave.

Unfortunately, it dug a grave for much more than itself. 

James Emery White 

Sources
 
“Playboy Magazine abandons nudity,” by Barney Henderson, The Telegraph, October 13, 2015, read online.
 
“Nudes Are Old News at Playboy,” by Ravi Somaiya, The New York Times, October 12, 2015, read online.
 
See also James Emery White, A Traveler’s Guide to the Kingdom (InterVarsity Press).

About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

 

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2 Responses to The Playboy Grave ~ Guest Post by Dr. James Emery White

When it’s absolutely wrong to forgive! ~ A Guest Post by Cary Edwards

When it’s absolutely wrong to forgive! ~ A Guest Post by Cary Edwards

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{Note: This is a guest post by my friend, fellow blogger, and Eastpointer, Cary Edwards. Enjoy!}

CHP_Police_Interceptor_Utility_Vehicle

It was too short of an event to get the helicopters in the air, but I remember a story in the late 90’s of a police pursuit in southern California which barely made the news.

As we have seen so many times, a police officer spotted a vehicle driving sporadically on the 14 freeway. The vehicle wasn’t speeding, but it was swerving in and out of its own lane. The officer suspected the possibility of an intoxicated driver.

After several, seemingly, very long miles the officer was able to get the vehicle pulled over and stopped. As he approached the car, hand cautiously on his holster, he looked in the driver’s window to confront the intoxicated driver.

Well, almost in an instant, everything happened. Almost too quickly, in hindsight.

If you’ve grown up in, or even around church you’ve undoubtedly heard teachings on forgiveness. Although (surprisingly) the word “forgiveness” is only used a handful of times in the Bible, the entirety of scriptures is riddled with the theme of forgiveness. As a matter of fact, it’s such a strong theme it actually “plays trump” to many teachings in the Bible. 

In the frequently taught passage in Matthew 18, Jesus instructs His disciples how to handle situations where someone has offended or wronged someone else. In that passage the proper steps are explained; first go to your brother or sister alone. If that doesn’t work, take a witness with you. Finally, take it before the church.

Simple enough, right? That should handle any issue where you have been wronged. Unfortunately most sermons end there.

But here’s where forgiveness “trumps” that passage. Ephesians 4:32 tells us, “be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another”. So with respect to Matthew 18, before confronting the offender, we should always be willing to forgive them.

Furthermore, approaching the situation with a tender heart, placing yourself in the other person’s shoes before and during the confrontation. When and if it happens like this, many times one will find it is absolutely wrong to forgive. Why? (Well, since that’s the title of this article, I better explain it. Right?)

Often times we go into such an encounter expecting an apology.

We stage everything around our own big hearted willingness (aka. obligation) to forgive. As if to say, “once you see it my way, you will understand your fault”, and “if you were concerned about me, we wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place”. This whole process ultimately brings the attention back to one’s self.

Here’s the rub. Without all the information, received through a tender heart, an expectation of an apology will often be completely without merit. An “offense” may be based on incomplete or misplace or false information. This means a pre-planned attitude “to forgive” is completely wrong.

Even worse, it ultimately forces the other person into a situation of now needing to forgive you, which they never asked for or even deserved. Why? Because of your pre-conceived assumption of fault, judging and even condemnation of them. This is why it’s critical to be tenderhearted first.

Sitting there on the side of the 14 freeway, that officer determined to holster his gun and call immediately for an ambulance. With his training and willingness to evaluate the whole situation, he very quickly realized the driver wasn’t intoxicated at all. He was actually having a stroke. The officer’s willingness to observe, listen, and respond to the facts ultimately saved the driver’s life and quite possibly, many others.

The officer could have approached the car with a big hearted plan to sternly explain the driver’s offenses to him. He even could have pre-planned to ultimately forgive him, and allow the driver to continue on his way as he tipped his authoritative cover (hat). But if he had done that, it would have ultimately led to tragedy. 

Forgiveness can be a very tricky thing, but when tempered with tenderheartedness, so often it’s often absolutely not needed and possibly could even be wrong.

So next time you feel you’ve been offended by someone, maybe it’s actually wrong for you to expect to forgive. Always be willing to forgive, but first be desirous to be kind and tenderhearted. See what wonders God works out in the situation.

The passage in Matthew 18 goes on to say, if you are able to resolve the situation you have won your brother. Shouldn’t that be our desire in the first place?

Just a thought…

I hope you enjoyed this. If you did, please “Share”. Thank you.

 

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