Posted 20 hours ago

Job 15 - Emphatic Eliphaz

Big Idea:

  • Eliphaz speaks up for a second time.
  • He accuses Job of being both foolish and sinful, “Your sin prompts your mouth.
  • Eliphaz tells Job to stop questioning God, “Do you listen in on God’s council?
  • He says that, if even angels are imperfect, men must be especially corrupt, “What are mortals … that they could be righteous?
  • Again, Eliphaz insists that an evil person will suffer justly, “because he shakes his fist at God.
  • He concludes by indirectly comparing Job to an evil man, “like a vine stripped of its unripe grapes.

Jesus:

Posted 1 day ago
I am having trouble with something, maybe you can help. I was thinking about sin.We sin. We ask for forgiveness. He forgives. After that, we go back. It is like a cycle. Yes indeed, for your salvation, you only need to believe in His death and His resurrection. But where does the sin part go? Why are we asked to do that, and don't to that? The only reason I can think of is the relationship, because sin put's a wall between us and God and we risk in living a shallow life.But is this all? Thanks
Anonymous asked

Hi Anon,

I’ve often wondered why God doesn’t just throw a switch in our brains to make us stop sinning once we’re saved. Wouldn’t that would be a lot easier?

But I think you nailed it: It’s about relationship. Ironically, God allows sin to remain an issue for us for the sake of our relationship with Him.

Relationship is a process.

A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh
Matthew 19:5

Last November Ashley and I said our vows and got married. At that moment, we were “united.” A mere 10 months later, I’m already a better husband than I was on our wedding day. I’ve learned about Ashley. I’ve learned about myself. And I’ve learned about how we best live and work together. We’re “becoming one flesh.” We aren’t any more married now than we were when we said our vows, but we’re growing closer and stronger in our marriage.

Our relationship with Jesus is similar. The moment Jesus took control of my life, I was saved. Many years later, I’m a better Christian than I was when I first found faith. I’ve learned more about Him. I’ve learned about myself. And I’ve learned about how to serve and represent Him better. He is sanctifying me, making me more like Himself. I’m not any more saved than I was when I first found faith, but I’ve grown closer and stronger in my relationship with Him.

Salvation is central to our relationship with Jesus. It’s the marriage vow that unites us with Him. But sanctification is the process of strengthening that relationship with Jesus. It’s the years of marriage that follow the vow and grow us closer to Him.

Process helps us grow.

We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:3-4

Even in just 10 months of marriage, I’ve messed up. I’ve missed chances to serve Ashley. I’ve stressed her out. And I’ve hurt her feelings. It’s a drag, but it happens in every marriage. And in those instances, I’ve had to ask Ashley’s forgiveness, listen to understand her feelings and make adjustments for the future. But surprisingly, working through the hard stuff has brought us closer than any of the good stuff—because it’s forced us to grow.

Again, our relationship with Jesus is similar. When I mess up and sin, I ask His forgiveness, I listen to His guidance and I make adjustments for the future. There have been times, especially when I was struggling with addiction, when I wondered why it had to be such a process. Why didn’t God just flip a switch for me? But now that I’m free from addiction, I can see that working through the hard stuff with Jesus brought me so much closer to Him than flipping a switch ever could—because it forced me to grow in my relationship with Him.

I remember reading Stephen E. Ambrose’s book “Band of Brothers” about a group of soldiers in WWII. I was amazed by the intimacy and trust in their friendships. And I remember thinking, I’ve shared good times with great friends, but I’ve never known and trusted anyone in peace the way these soldiers knew and trusted each other in war.

Overcoming hardships strengthens relationships. It’s true for soldiers facing the dangers of battle together. It’s true for spouses working through the struggles of marriage together. And it’s true for Chrsitians as Jesus overcomes our sin to makes us more like Him.

I hope that answers your question.

Peace, love and Jesus,
-James

Posted 2 days ago

Job 14 - A Tree’s Hope

Big Idea:

  • Job waxes philosophical as he prays.
  • He wonders why God pays attention to us when our lives are so short, “…few days and full of trouble… do You fix Your eyes on them?
  • Job says that a tree has hope in life, because its stump can live on after the tree is cut. But when a person dies they are gone, “At least there is hope for a tree.
  • He asks God to renew him like a tree, “Call and I will answer you… cover my sin.
  • But then Job goes back to feeling abandoned by God, “You destroy a person’s hope.

Jesus:

Posted 3 days ago

The Anatomy of My Porn Recovery

jamesjourneys:

[A follow-up to my post, The Anatomy of My Porn Addiction]

I used to be a really anxious kid. Even in elementary school, I struggled with insomnia and sat awake at night wondering if I was going to be OK and if there would be a place for me out there in the world. But as I entered my teens, this anxiety seemed to fade.

Then, a couple years ago, it came back in full force. My obsessive tendencies seemed to worsen, and I even experienced a couple mild panic attacks. What had changed?

As I looked back, I noticed that my anxiety was indirectly correlated to my porn use. It seemed to have dissipated in my teen years, because that was when I started looking at porn. And the further I got from porn now, the more my anxiety returned.

That was when I realized that I had always been an anxious person, I had just been self-medicating by distracting myself with pornography. And now that porn was out of the way, my anxiety was returning.

In my previous post, I wrote about how porn offered me the lie of an escape into a fantasy world I could control. Writing that helped me to wrap my mind around how to recognize my triggers and stay away from them.

But I’ve also reflected on it since then, and I’ve realized that the lie of my porn addiction—and my anxiety—had its root in a perfectly legitimate desire:

I wanted wholeness within and harmony without.

If I could find a healthy way to feel OK with myself and right with the world around me, not only would I know how to stay away from porn, I would also know what to run toward instead

And I knew exactly where to look.

Read More

Posted 5 days ago

Job 13 - Yet Will I hope in Him

Big Idea:

  • Job continues his response to his friends.
  • He tells them that they have misrepresented God in their counsel to him, “Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf?
  • Then he decides to turn to God for help, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.
  • Job prays that God will end his suffering and hear him out, “Why do you hide your face?

Jesus:

Posted 6 days ago
1.What advice would you give to a couple soon to be married?2. I saw a post of yours that you had asked several men on giving some advice regarding marriage, and made a book. How did you came up with the idea? Were people willing to do this? I think it is such a brilliant idea!Maybe someday you will share some passages from it ;) Or share it like you made "Mans Manual".
Anonymous asked

Hi Anon,

Fun questions!

Advice

I’ve been married for less than a year, but I’ve learned a few things already…

  • Get pre-marriage counseling if you’re able to. It will help you start out on the same page.
  • Talk about your expectations ahead of time—chores, schedule, etc.—and agree on what’s reasonable and what isn’t.
  • Talk about your long-term hopes—ministry, travel, etc.—and make a plan to accomplish them.
  • Read Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. Seriously.
  • Adjust your thinking from my home/life/money to our home/life/money.
  • If you’re new to sex, it might take some getting used to. Be patient with yourselves.
  • Get into the habit of showing and expressing love to each other throughout the day—notes, hugs, texts, etc.
  • Find a routine. This will help you survive day-to-day life.
  • Go on date nights. This will help you survive your routine.
  • Serve in church together. (This will require you to also go to church together.) It will be a bonding experience and will strengthen your sense of shared purpose.
  • Join a married couples’ small group or Bible study. Comparing notes with friends in a similar season of life will be a huge help.
  • Read the Bible together. Ashley and I do this before bed every night.
  • Pray together every day.
  • Document your first year together. It will be fun to look back on when things are good, and important to look back on when things get hard.

Husband’s Manual

The Husband’s Manual I put together was an extension of the Man’s Manual my dad gave me as a teen.

For my 15th birthday, my dad asked his friends and brothers to write letters to me with advice on what it means to be a man and how to live successfully. He then put the letters together in a book. It was a huge source of encouragement and guidance for me as I entered a time of transition and uncertainty.

Getting married is also a time of transition, so I thought I’d seek out some similar encouragement and guidance about living successfully as a husband. So I requested letters from a couple dozen men I know and respect.

Fewer than half of the men I asked to write me actually did, but the ones who did were really helpful. I collected their letters into a book like the original one my dad gave me, a sort of Part II. I might share it someday—like I did with the Man’s Manual—but a couple of the letters were pretty personal, so I’ll likely hold off for a while.

I don’t know where my dad got the idea for a book of letters to guide in transition, but it’s a tradition I plan to continue for my own kids.

Thanks for writing!

Peace, love and Jesus,
-James

Posted 1 week ago

Job 12 - It’s up to God

Big Idea:

  • Job responds to his friends’ advice.
  • He tells them they are wise, but so is he, “Who does not know all these things?
  • Job says that he has become a laughingstock to this friends and enemies, “Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune.
  • Job points out that God is in control of nature, “In his hand is the life of every creature.
  • He then concludes that God is also in control of our lives, “To Him belong strength and insight.

Jesus:

  • Job acknowledges that God “leads rulers away stripped.Jesus told us that the “first will be last.
  • Job acknowledges that God “brings utter darkness into light.Jesus told us that “though seeing, they do not see.
  • Job acknowledges that God “reveals the deep things of darkness.” Jesus told us that “there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.
Posted 1 week ago
Do you think that anxiety is a sin? I have a pretty severe anxiety disorder and I worry constantly. The bible says over and over not to worry and to trust God but sometimes I feel that I'm not trusting him enough when I worry. I feel guilty for participating in communion at church, as if I'm living in sin for being anxious all the time. Is it something that I should feel guilty about?
Anonymous asked

Hi Anon,

I’ve been hesitant to respond to your question, because worry is something I struggle with too. A lot. (Just ask my wife.) 

I’ve even written about it a few times on my personal blog:

Because it’s still a weakness for me, I don’t feel like I have a lot of wisdom to offer—beyond what I wrote in those links anyway.

But there is one thought I want to share with you:

It’s not a sin to be sick.

If you have a clinically diagnosed anxiety disorder, you have nothing to feel guilty about. Your worry isn’t the result of a lack of faith, it’s the result of confused emotions and/or a chemical imbalance—and that’s not your fault.

Even Paul faced a similar difficulty. In 2 Corinthians, he wrote about a “thorn” in his flesh. He never specified what that thorn was, but it may have been an emotional struggle or a physical sickness …like an anxiety disorder.

Yet, in response to Paul’s requests for God to take the thorn away, God simply told him: 

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

God wouldn’t willingly allow something sinful to remain in Paul’s life—or in yours. So you have no need to feel guilty about your disorder, and you shouldn’t feel any hesitancy about participating in communion.

I hope that helps. Let’s pray for each other that our trust in God will grow.

Peace, love and Jesus,
-James

Posted 2 weeks ago

Ashley got her interview date for permanent residency!

It’s about a month from now—much sooner than we expected! Prayers are very much appreciated. :)

Posted 2 weeks ago

Job 11 - Zophar, No Good

Big Idea:

  • Zophar echoes his friends’ advice to Job.
  • He says he wishes God would answer Job to put him in his place, “Will no one rebuke you?”
  • Zophar says that God hasn’t wronged Job, “God has even forgotten some of your sin.
  • He reminds Job that he doesn’t know everything, “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? …They are higher than the heavens above…and wider than the sea
  • Zophar implies that God is taking action against the evil in Job’s life, “When He sees evil, does he not take note?
  • Then he tells Job that God will forgive if Job repents, “Life will be brighter than noonday.
  • To paraphrase: Zophar tells Job, “You’re out of line for complaining. Just repent for whatever you did to make God punish you.”

Jesus:

Posted 2 weeks ago
James what are you feelings about the Gaza/Israel situation? On one hand I understand that Israel had to defend itself against terrorists but what about the innocents in Palestine getting caught in the crossfire?
Anonymous asked

PS. And what is the Biblical/Christian view? Do we support Israel no matter what?

Hi Anon,

This is a great question.

But before I answer, let me say that Christians can disagree on this topic and still be Christians. It’s not an essential belief of the faith, so it’s not something we need to divide over.

But since you asked for my opinion, I’ll tell you honestly.

A short history of Israel and Palestine

In AD 70, Rome attacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. This forced the Jewish people to scatter across the globe in what is known as “The Diaspora.”

Over the centuries, many other nations fought for control of the Promised Land. The Crusades are the best-known example, but most recently it was controlled by a “British Mandate”.

Meanwhile, the Jewish people established themselves in other countries—especially in Europe. And though they assimilated well into these other cultures, they also preserved their Jewish heritage and religion.

But following the anti-Semitic horrors of the Nazi Holocaust, the world decided the Jewish people needed their own country again. So, in May of 1948 the United Nations set up the new political state of Israel.

The only problem was that the land wasn’t exactly empty. Palestinian people were already settled there. And they had lived there for generations with homes, families, farms and businesses.

In order for the new Israeli state to be established, the Palestinian people had to be forced out. And that’s exactly what happened. Israel and the UN removed the Palestinians from their homes and forced them into refugee camps and settlements in Gaza.

Ever since then, the Palestinians have been fighting back, the Israelis have been defending themselves …and both sides have committed horrible atrocities against each other.

(Check out what Biblical Scholar N.T. Wright has to say about it here) 

Why Some Christians Support Israel

So that’s the context of the situation. But the more important question you ask is about how Christians should respond. Do we support Israel no matter what?

A lot of Christians would say yes, and their reasons tend to fall into three categories:

  • Some believe Israel is politically important, because it is the only democracy in the Middle East (and therefore the United States’ best ally there).

  • Some believe Israel is historically important, because it has a role to play in the End Times.

  • And some believe Israel is spiritually important, because the Israelites are the Biblical People of God.

The Bible never tells us that Christians should support democracy. In fact, it doesn’t give us a lot of political direction one way or the other. So Christians can support Israel for being a democracy if they want to, they just can’t argue that their reasons for doing so are Biblical.

The Bible has more to say about the End Times, and people like to dissect and debate the prophesies of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation …but I try to avoid these discussions.

For one thing, the details of the End Times are not an issue of essential doctrine, so it’s not worth getting into arguments over. Yet some Christians become obsessed with this topic to the point that they neglect our true calling.

For another thing, no one is ever going to figure out the End Times before they happen anyway. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus will come back for us, God will finally defeat evil, creation will be renewed ….and no one will see it coming. Beyond that, the Bible is pretty vague. So any speculation about details—like whether or not Israel will play a role—are pretty meaningless to me.

God’s People

This leaves the spiritual reason some Christians support Israel: The Israelites are the Biblical People of God. And while I have a lot more respect for this argument, I don’t necessarily agree with it.

Because the Bible has always defined God’s people as people of faith.

This definition applies in the Old Testament. Some people who weren’t biologically Jewish were included with God’s People because they had faith—people like Rahab and Ruth. Other people who were biologically Jewish were excluded because they didn’t have faith—people like King Saul and King Ahab. And God’s Old Covenant with the Israelites even defined His relationship with them in terms of their faithfulness.

This definition also applies in the New Testament. Any Gentiles who had faith were welcomed as God’s people. And Jesus taught that any Jewish people who rejected Him would also be rejected by God. Paul even wrote that the People of God weren’t necessarily Abraham’s biological descendants, but the descendants of God’s promise to Abraham—a promise that was fulfilled in Jesus.

So the People of God have always been those people who have put their faith in God through Jesus. It’s not about race or nationality, it’s about faith.

This means the current nation of Israel isn’t necessarily the People of God, and we Christians have no Biblical obligation to support it or its government.

I Support Peace

Back to Israel and Palestine—At this point, both sides have legitimate reasons to be upset. The Israelis have now lived in the land for a couple generations and consider it to be their home. And the Palestinians have been displaced by the Israelis for a couple generations and still want justice.

But both groups have reacted to this tension with increasing violence. There have been so many raids, kidnappings, bombings and civilian deaths over the past six decades that neither side can be considered blameless against the other. And the best efforts of outside governments—which caused this whole mess in the first place—haven’t been able to end the warfare.

At the moment, Hamas, a Palestinian authority/terrorist group, has been firing missiles into Israel, and Israel has been firing missiles back. It’s not the first time it has happened, and it probably won’t be the last.

But that’s what we get when governments try to fix the world by force.

No matter what, I can only support peace. So as long as both sides insist on using indiscriminate violence against each other, neither will have my support - but both sides will have my prayers for protection.

As I said at the beginning, Christians can disagree on this topic. So I’m not interested in debating it with anyone who disagrees with me. You asked for my opinion, and I gave it. Feel free to take it or leave it.

But I hope it was helpful.

Peace, love and Jesus,
-James

Posted 2 weeks ago

Someday we will stop hurting each other.

Someday we will feel safe.

Someday we will no longer be broken.

Someday His beauty will reign.

Someday our fears will flee before us.

Someday we will love well.

Father, teach me hold on for someday.

Savior, come back for us now.

Posted 3 weeks ago
I am coming soon!
Posted 3 weeks ago

Job 10 -  “I loathe my life”

Bid Idea:

  • Job turns his attention to God in prayer.
  • He says he has nothing to lose by complaining to God, “Tell me what charges You have against me.”
  • Job reminds God that he is God’s loved creation, “You gave me life and showed me kindness.
  • He says that, if he is guilty, he’s hopeless. And if he is innocent, he’s too crushed to live on anyway, “Your forces come against me wave upon wave.
  • Job closes by wishing he was dead, “If only I had never come into being, or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave!

Jesus:

Posted 3 weeks ago
So I have a boyfriend, he's the first one. I'm asking him to delete his ex girlfriends on facebook. He doesn't want to because he tells me he is good friends with them. He's hoping I'd understand. I want to ask for your opinion. Good day!
Anonymous asked

Hi Anon,

Every relationship deals with conflict. Sometimes you’ll be wrong, and sometimes the other person will be wrong. In this care, you’re both wrong.

But you’re new at this, so it’s ok. ;)

Deleting an ex on facebook isn’t a big deal; He’s wrong to want to keep tabs on old flames. And keeping an ex on facebook isn’t a big deal; You’re wrong to be possessive.

But the more important question to ask here is, “Why does it matter?

Why is he unwilling to make a change for your sake? Why would he resist making you feel more secure in your relationship with him?

And why are you so concerned about something as trivial as a facebook friend list? Why is your trust dependent on being obliged by him?

Your conflict isn’t really about his being friends with ex’s on Facebook — It’s about trusting and serving each other. 

So you should probably have a conversation about that. I hope it goes well.

Peace, love and Jesus,
-James