All the Wrong Reasons?

homeI have a confession to make: there have been times I’ve doubted the Prodigal’s motives when reading this piece.

Part 1: Be Careful What You Wish For

Part 2: Sex Isn’t Making Anyone Happy

Part 4: He Runs to Us

Part 5: Goodies and Godliness

“When he came to his senses…” (Luke 15:17a)

Biblical commentators make much of the phrase “came to his senses”. Jesus seems to be describing a soul gone mad from sin, detached from reason, and only just now waking up.

Most skeptics think that Christians are the ones detached from reality. Hearing voices, imaginary friends, etc. They say reason leads away from faith.

They’re using the wrong wisdom. When 1 Corinthians 2:14 says “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised”, commentators identify the natural man as unregenerated, governed by carnal motives – labeling even earthly wisdom as carnal and prideful. It can’t reveal God.

Sure, that’s a convenient thing to say to a skeptic. It sounds to them like circular reasoning.

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Sex Isn’t Making Anyone Happy

crowdPart 1: Be Careful What You Ask For

Part 3: All the Wrong Reasons?

Part 4: He Runs to Us

Part 5: Goodies and Godliness

Well, I wasn’t planning on two posts this month with the word “sex” in the title. But it is February. And hey…you clicked. Ha.

Anyway…

This is for obedient Christian singles fascinated with this mysterious thing called sex. Call it an occupational hazard of virginity.

It’s kind of understandable. When an entire civilization stampedes past on the street in pursuit of something, you’re bound to crane your neck that way. Throw in an entertainment industry that’s found its golden calf cash cow in sex and you’ve got a powerful allure. “Wow,” we find ourselves going if we’re not careful. “Sex really does look like the answer. Wish I could get that.”

Now, I’ve never had sex.

But I’ve seen what it does for people.

Three years on an Air Force launch truck trying to block out “the guys” detailing their tech school experiences and favorite porn.

Three more years as a teacher, watching a few of my students bring their babies to class, where they’d promptly tear up any of their mothers’ homework they could reach. Cute little buggers.

Three additional years (cumulatively) at a local pizza place which, like any minimum wage job, attracts a lot of tough cases.

I do not want to sound judgmental, but years later, here’s the scorecard. Those airmen were beset with divorce and cheating. How many worst-of-humanity stories seem to center around sex? My former students are still neck-deep in a hard, impoverished existence. The minimum wage scene? Those guys can’t hold down a job, existing perpetually in the town’s scummiest trailer parks with few tools for reaching escape velocity from their addictions and debt. The turmoil crisscrossing these stories is not appealing.

But the one thing they all had more of than me?

Sex.

Lots of it.

Whenever they wanted.

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Be Careful What You Ask for

handThanks for the prayers, everyone. I’m back from my mini-vacation. Let me tell you – I love my home, but central Colorado is some spectacular driving. Also, I may or may not have filled my car up with gas one time and then gotten back in the car to find it still running.

What? It was a long trip. It won’t happen again, Mom, I promise.

You know what else I love? The Prodigal Son story.

I’m gonna have to do a series here, for the Prodigal Son passage from Luke 15 is stuffed to bursting with symbolism and meaning. Here we find the haunting testimony of every fallen human, a solemn warning against religious pride, hints of the kingdom’s treasures, and perhaps most importantly, a poignant glimpse of God’s sheer emotion towards his children, one which has comforted me many times. There’s so much here to dig into; the treasures are more than worth the time.

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We Are The Consumer Culture Problem

I’m on vacation until Monday, so this is an auto-post. But please feel free to leave your usual comments and accusations of heresy, and I’ll be back on Monday to answer, with a post following on Tuesday. Keep it real.

cart

Rant time.

I’m not the sort to promise hell upon people for enjoying simple entertainment. (In fact, I’m not the sort to promise hell for anything short of not believing in Jesus, because that’s, y’know, un-Biblical.)

But something has been brewing in my mind for a while, sending a mighty WALLUMP to the top of my brain every time somebody complains about the bombardment of cheap shallowness we call American consumer culture.

Which I certainly understand.It’s true that our culture seems to have about as much depth as a piece of paper these days. Everything the networks deem noteworthy for us is carefully packaged and marinated in bias, while a great deal more goes unseen. Meanwhile, Beyonce and her bizarre religion-mocking getup are blasted at us, television and movies can’t decide whether to glorify or condemn evil, and our holy holidays are commercialized beyond recognition.

But one factor seems to be escaping us.

It’s our fault.

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To the Single Who Doesn’t Care About God’s Love

berries(Last singleness post for a while.)

There’s a part of me that has struggled to care about God’s love.

You probably know what I mean. We would rather things just go well than be forced to lean on him.

This week is a prime example for singles, especially. Valentine’s Day comes and we singles feel missed, not only by the season but by the church. My church has handled its singles with grace, but not every church does. Irritated by what it perceives as our self-pity, the church swings open its arms with a beatific smile and goes, “Jesus is your boyfriend! Singleness isn’t something to be endured; God’s love is all you need!”

You know they’re right somehow. You feel vaguely guilty. And you do care about God’s love. You do.

But…

“You don’t understand,” some part of you still says. “I’m tired of being alone. I’m sick of the 8,967th article telling me to be content while the church reserves its celebrations for weddings and births. I know you are able, Lord. Wouldn’t it be simpler to just gave me someone?”

Some part of us doesn’t care.

It’s okay to admit that. It’s not like God doesn’t know. Admitting it is the first step to fixing it.

As I’ve opined before, it’s okay to call singleness a legitimate hardship. Doing so diminishes neither singleness nor God. It just reminds us that even comfortable first-world Christians have their disappointments and that God is making us mature, and more fully his, through trial. The mature church should note this and keep striving for a balance of exhortation and empathy, so expertly struck by its Wonderful Counselor.

That said…

It takes little more than a glance at Facebook, or a day at work hearing people’s stories, to see that many Christian singles aren’t happy. Too many don’t know how to get there; too many leap from relationship to relationship, stuff their shelves with romance novels, or just settle into unfruitful funks.

I do not say this in judgment. I used to be full-on funky (not in the 60s way). Over the years, God has slowly gained sweeping victory over this territory of my heart, but it didn’t happen overnight. Every Christian, in some measure, is still somewhere on the trail to a prizing of God’s love above all.

For those still back near the trailhead, I would ask this: have you unknowingly agreed with the lie that God’s love is not enough?

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Godly is Sexy

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

godlyA well-known verse. But would you be interested in a male paraphrasing, overheard from an old Air Force colleague of mine?

“For every sexy woman, there are five guys in her wake who got sick of her crap.”

Crude, perhaps. Highly generalized, certainly. And you have to wonder whether all five of those men were as crap-free as he made them sound. (You’ll notice I called the guy a colleague, not a buddy.)

But if you’re rolling your eyes at a male reading of Proverbs 31, you might be surprised to learn that the chapter was written to men. Women have grabbed it and run with it as a means of educating their youngers (praise God for it), but the audience of the entire book of Proverbs is actually men. Read the book sometime; notice all the invitations for sons to learn discernment, to avoid the adulteress and the dripping faucet, to live as a pillar of wisdom.

And those words are needed.

“Desiring a healthy and vibrant sex life in marriage is a good and even wise thing. But for the Christian it’s not ultimate. As a single Christian man, I desire a spiritually healthy marriage before a sexually healthy one, though I trust the former encourages the latter. Therefore, I’m willing to trust God and wait, not because I want to have the most euphoric wedding night with someone I’m perfectly sexually compatible with, but because I want a healthy, God-honoring marriage after the wedding night with the person to whom I’ve just committed my life.” – Hafeez Baoku

I love it when I stumble across an article that speaks to what I’m pondering. It’s a God thing. Got to be. To him be the glory.

We need to be thinking about the after. When real life and boredom assert themselves over a marriage, it needs to be about more than just tan lines and muscles and things that happen after 10pm, because there’s still a 7am to deal with. Get over their surface. Get under their surface; ask God to reveal who that person really is.

That’s going to require a revolution on our part. A renewing of our minds.

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Envy is a Filthy Liar

Last fall, a blogging mentor of mine welcomed me to guest-post on her blog. I had the perfect story to tell, thanks to a timely lunch with a high school friend I hadn’t seen in fifteen years. Ever had one of those revealing conversations that completely reshapes your viewpoint on your past? This was one of those, one that exposed some deep lies about my self-worth. The piece actually got picked up by an online Christian publication!

Enjoy.

http://www.christyfitzwater.com/self-worth/story-envy-filthy-liar/