Monday, September 24, 2012

Thinking Again About Pornography

I've been thinking again about pornography. I say again, because I wrote on this blog a year ago about the dangers of porn. I still believe as I did then, that pornography is an insidious evil, a trap that people get caught in, and the more they struggle to escape this deceitful web, the more entrapped they become.

The reason I'm writing about this again, is because of a link that I believe can be drawn from porn use to childhood sexual abuse. In my conversations with men who have been involved as perpetrators of sexual abuse toward children and adolescents, I have noticed that in most cases, the men who have abused have previously been involved in pornography. Why might this be the case? I believe that men who view pornography become addicted, and as that addiction escalates, it becomes more and more difficult for the sexual addict to limit the acting out of their addiction strictly to the virtual. When I speak of "virtual," I mean those images one views on the internet, or on the TV screen. What one indulges in virtually eventually will be acted out in real life. Hence, I believe that men who are addicted to porn, will eventually cross the line into real life violations.

Men who abuse their children and other family members fact the very real possibility of legal consequences, such as being separated from their children, and possibly probation and/or prison sentences, not to mention the painful emotional consequences of adult children who later break off communication with their parents over such violations.

I realize that what I am writing sounds dire indeed, but if you are reading this and you are addicted to pornography, please know that what you may believe is personal and private now, may very likely express itself in a more public and painful way in the future. If you are a sexual addict, there is help available. Please don't wait until you have violated trust and boundaries in your family to seek resolution.

Tom Horst, MA
Marriage and Family Therapist

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Believing IN Jesus Becomes Living FOR Jesus One Day at a Time!

Jesus clearly proclaimed to each of us who believe in Him, that the narrow path to eternal life is walked out one day at a time!

He also told us very specifically what should happen each day as we follow Him, in the Gospel of Luke:

9:23 Jesus said to all, If any person wants to come after Me, let them deny themselves [disown, forget, lose sight of self and their own interests, refuse and give up self] and take up their cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also].
24 Whoever would preserve this life and save it will lose and destroy it, but whoever loses this life for My sake, they will preserve and save it [from the penalty of eternal death].
25 For what does it profit a person, if they gain the whole world and ruins or forfeits (loses) themselves?

Jesus did not give us this instruction as an option, but as a command to be obeyed by all His followers, not just certain special people. Most of us have read this or heard this many times over. The fact that we are called to actually do it is where we become challenged, because deep in our hearts we know that on our own we really can't!

As the apostle Paul says at the end of Romans 7, when faced with a similar challenge himself:

24 O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death?
25 O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord!

Although impossible for any of us in our own strength, God has given all His children purchased by Jesus' own blood, His Holy Spirit with infinite power, to live within us and strengthen us to live out all that Jesus had commanded us to do!

We can be trained by God's Spirit to die daily (decision by decision) to our selfishness or cowardice or need to control or whatever currently influences us to miss the mark, and then to receive and walk in what our Father is showing us to do. How much we actually walk, by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit in this way, has profound influence on every aspect of life and fruitfulness for each of us.

This level of surrender is impossible by ourselves, but we must always keep in mind the fact that we can do all things only through Him Who strengthens us! Jesus referred to this kind of surrender in His parable of the Pearl of great price. Only those strengthened to become fully willing to sell everything would be the ones who could pay for this wondrous Pearl, Who is Jesus Himself.

This kind of strengthening comes to us in the process of amazing synergy between the humbled and surrendering believer and the Lord Himself, outlined very specifically for us by James, the brother of Jesus in chapter 4 of his letter to the churches:

6 He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it).

7 So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.

8 Come (draw) close to God and He will come (draw) close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery].

9 [As you draw near to God] be deeply penitent and grieve, even weep [over your disloyalty]. Let your laughter be turned to grief and your mirth to dejection and heartfelt shame [for your sins].

10 Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant].

Jesus Himself confirms His receptivity to this kind of humble heart surrender in His parable of the Publican and Pharisee in Luke 18:

9 He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [that they were upright and in right standing with God] and scorned and made nothing of all the rest of men:

10 Two men went up into the temple [enclosure] to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

11 The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men--extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers--or even like this tax collector here.

12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I gain.

13 But the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am!

14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified (forgiven and made upright and in right standing with God), rather than the other man; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

The importance and outcome of constant surrender of self and everything else in our lives, is underlined emphatically by Jesus in several serious statements recorded for us in Luke 14:

25 Now huge crowds were going along with [Jesus], and He turned and said to them,

26 If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his [own] father and mother [in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God] and [likewise] his wife and children and brothers and sisters--[yes] and even his own life also--he cannot be My disciple.

27 Whoever does not persevere and carry his own cross and come after (follow) Me cannot be My disciple.

28 For which of you, wishing to build a farm building, does not first sit down and calculate the cost [to see] whether he has sufficient means to finish it?

29 Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is unable to complete [the building], all who see it will begin to mock and jeer at him,

30 Saying, This man began to build and was not able (worth enough)  to finish.

31 Or what king, going out to engage in conflict with another king, will not first sit down and consider and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand [men] to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?

32 And if he cannot [do so], when the other king is still a great way off, he sends an envoy and asks the terms of peace.

33 So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple.

34 Salt is good [an excellent thing], but if salt has lost its strength and has become saltless (insipid, flat), how shall its saltness be restored?

35 It is fit neither for the land nor for the manure heap; men throw it away. He who has ears to hear, let him listen and consider and comprehend by hearing!

It is our daily surrender of our entire being, body, soul, and spirit, to God's perfect will for our lives that changes outcomes now, and will most certainly affect the ultimate, everlasting outcome of our future!

~Neil Uniacke
Executive Director

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Labor of Love

   Every year my family has a pizza party that is typically held over the Labor Day weekend. We start the preparations months in advance as we buy items needed while they are on sale. As the time gets closer we begin to consider whom to invite and how many. This is a very tedious and thought out process.  A list is created and then gets gleaned over until it is at a manageable amount of people.

   Several weeks before the "big day" there are pizza crusts that are prepared and frozen. The day before the event we do the last minute shopping for the perishable items that can't be purchased any sooner. We lovingly call this part the "shopping and chopping" as we prepare the toppings for the pizzas. This is  a very long day and it takes many hands to make the work go quickly and smoothly.

    The quality time spent with our nieces and nephew passing down a tradition that was started over twenty years ago is priceless. Our labor of love for family and friends is enjoyed in a few hours and our guests can hardly wait for the next "unique" pizza to get out of the oven to be tasted. We make pizza with unique toppings along with the standards. Our guests often question our "taste" but usually love the pizzas with toppings are not "standard" to the norm for the east coast.

    As Christians we should be willing to offer our "labor of love" to all people. How often do we feel that we could never talk to someone because of how they look, dress, or talk? Jesus' labor of love was to share God's word and works with ALL people, not just the ones the disciples felt were worthy.

    Have you helped someone in need, fed them or clothed them as Jesus tells us to in Matthew 25:35 & 36? The disciples question Jesus about when they saw him in need and he replies that when they "have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Mathew 2:40b KJV.  All of our works should be our "labor of love" to our fellow man.

     As we celebrate Labor Day may we remember God's labor of love for us. What greater gift than to give us eternal life through His Son!

     Have a Safe, Healthy, & Happy Labor Day weekend!

Elaine Campbell, MA
New Hope Counselor

                                           Elaine's unique shrimp & sauerkraut pizza!