Augustine

Does Jesus Tell us We “Can’t Get No Satisfaction”? Our Struggle Against Lust

Does Jesus Tell us We “Can’t Get No Satisfaction”? Our Struggle Against Lust

Virtually everyone agrees that adultery is wrong. According to one survey, more than 75% worldwide agree that it is wrong.[i] The vast majority of us agree: adultery hurts marriages, it hurts children.

And yet, simultaneously, our culture encourages us to pursue our desires and fulfill our passions. But there are cracks in that approach. The #metoo movement has begun to uncover the devastating impact of some men living out this sexual philosophy.

Two thousand years ago Jesus pointed to the crack in this moral pavement. He says that our sexual offense, our sexual sin, doesn’t begin with the action, but with the heart:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).

Sexual sin begins with our heart and moves to our imagination and only then to our actions. There was never a person in the history of the world who committed sexual sin who didn’t initiate that sin in his heart and then his imagination.

Only 14% of women and 22% of men admit to having had an affair.[ii] And yet, If you ask Americans if they would commit an affair if they wouldn’t get caught, then 74% of men and 68% of women say they would have an affair.[iii]

And every person has at one time or another turned over in our hearts the desire to experience someone other than our spouse sexually and/or emotionally. That desire then gets turned over and played with in our minds. This is lust.

Chasing the Rabbit

Chasing the Rabbit

Bob Buford tells a story about dog races in his book Finishing Well that rattled my heart when I first read it and continues to shake me:

“One of my favorite stories is about the dog races in Florida. They train these dogs to chase an electric rabbit, and one night the rabbit broke down and the dogs caught it. But they didn’t know what to do with it. They were just leaping around, yelping and biting one another, totally confused about what was happening. I think that’s a picture of what happens to all sorts of people who catch the rabbit in their life. Whether its wealth or fame or beauty or a bigger house or whatever, the prize isn’t what they thought it would be. And when they finally get it, they don’t know what to do with their lives.”

What rabbits have you caught in your life? I’ve caught a lot of rabbits in my life. And, like the dogs, they usually hang lifeless in my jaws once caught. It’s not long until I drop them and find another on the horizon, and then I’m off once again.

A romantic interest. A degree. A job. A car. A dream vacation. A spouse. A family. A home. Respect. Power. Fame. You can catch them all. And they’re all good (or at least can be used for good). But none are ultimate. Each will flop lifeless in your jaws once it’s caught and another will appear on the horizon.

In Defense of Love Songs to God

In Defense of Love Songs to God

“God isn’t your boyfriend!” It doesn’t take much Googling to pick out an assortment of articles skewering intimate love songs inappropriately parading as worship. “He is the almighty God, not your lover,” the criticism goes. “Don’t trivialize our holy, incomprehensible God.”

Is it really appropriate to sing, “I could sing of your love forever” or reprise again and again, “your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me”? Or how about “Revelation Song” where we sing, “You are my everything and I will adore you”? And of course, the most obvious offender: please tell me we should nix the embarrassing “How He Loves Us,” where we belt out, “And I realize just how beautiful you are, and how great your affections are for me,” and then the cherry on the sundae, “And heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss.”

Let me stand up against the pitchforked crowd in defense of the modern worship love song. That isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of songs out there that are weak theologically or that our diet of worship should be comprised primarily of love songs to God, but I do believe there is a place for us to sing love songs to God.

Why Aren't You Going to Church?

Why Aren't You Going to Church?

Pew recently released a survey[i] on why Americans do and do not go to church. While 73% of Americans identify as being Christian[ii], surveys say Americans who report going to church weekly is only around 35%.[iii] Our best estimates for our own city (Tucson) are that less than 3% of the population is in church on Sunday.[iv]

I write this as an appeal to the 65% nationally and 90%+[v] in Tucson who don’t attend church regularly.

First, I want to understand you and your reasons for not attending. In a recent survey, those reasons were expressed this way[vi]:

Look and Live by Matt Papa

Look and Live by Matt Papa

Ironically, for a group caricatured as being strict and unfeeling, the Puritan's greatest legacy is the insight that we are worshiping creatures whose beliefs and actions flow from our affections, not our minds. It is our desires, not our intellect that direct us.

Matt Papa takes this key insight and unpacks it beautifully in his book Look and Live. We are worshipers, created for worship from the womb. If we want to fight the grip of sin in our lives, Papa argues, we need only look at the greatest and most glorious object of our worship: God, who most powerfully reveals his glory on the cross. As Papa says, "we worship our way into sin. We must worship our way out."

The glory of God is no trivial thing. "The glory of God is the reason why every person in the Bible who encounters God nearly falls dead. It changes you. When we see God, we get small." Papa looks at God's glory in redemptive history and in nature, stoking the awe of our hearts.