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Monday, April 30, 2007

White fence
A bucolic meadow right around the corner from our house.

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"I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl" (Job 31:1).  "Keep yourself pure" (1 Timothy 5:22).
I recall a time we lived in New England when Brooksyne had an evening appointment with her hairdresser.   It is extremely rare that I would accompany her to the beauty shop, but since it was in a part of the city where overnight shootings were frequently reported I went with her.  I felt very much out of place as I waited so I decided I'd read to make the time pass quickly.  After sorting through many women's glamour type magazines, I finally found "Sport's Illustrated" magazines to peruse.  After flipping through the only two available I searched for another one and spotted one under a chair so I reached over and picked it up.

Ester, who was about 8 years old at the time, saw what I had done and didn't lose a second in telling me, "Mommy hid it under the chair cause she didn't like it.  She said it wasn't a good magazine for you to read."  Well, as you have probably guessed it was the "swimsuit issue" (a popular edition that resembles a girlie magazine.)  As I looked toward Brooksyne she was looking back at me through the mirror and smiled as I sheepishly slid it back under the chair.
Yesterday my Pastor concluded a sermon series on living sexually pure lives with a very pertinent message on resisting pornography.  I was again reminded of God's call to purity and the pernicious wiles of the enemy of my soul.

The counsel of God's Word is timeless.  Our first daily text speaks of a personal covenant Job made that godly men would do well to repeat today.  I really don't know the ways temptations came to Job since he lived during the patriarchal age some 4,000 years ago.  But I sure know the way they come today and a covenant with the eyes remains a wise practice.  In Job's time did they have anything near the equivalent of swimsuit editions of sports magazines, Victoria Secret catalogs, graphic billboards or lingerie ads?  Today the internet, which I believe is such a powerful tool for ministry, is also a major, major purveyor of porn and has trapped far too many.  Lust inducing images abound.  But true followers of Christ must know and obey God's call to purity and holiness.

Staying pure has always been a challenge.  I wonder how many visually enticing ways girls were able to be seen some 4,000 years ago?  But all through the Bible we read candid reports of Bible heroes and their battles in this regard.  Joseph ran.  David didn't.  Samson really struggled.  Judah failed miserably.

Both daily verses enjoin us to personal responsibility.  A personal covenant (contract) with the eyes is a powerful decision and needs to be renewed regularly.  The straightforward command of the Apostle Paul to "Keep yourself pure" can easily be memorized and recalled at the time of temptation.  Let us renew this commitment today and obey God.  In doing so we take a stand against the tide of moral decadence in our land!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer:  Jesus, we know that You desire the very best for Your children. We also know that Satan is a thief who "comes only to steal and kill and destroy" and because he masquerades his destructive schemes millions fall victim to his enticements.   You created within us a physical and emotional desire to have sexual intimacy.  Knowing our inclination to sin, You clearly established and presented Your laws to us that are needed to form a healthy foundation for our relationships.  Help us to see these laws as our protection so that we will enjoy Your blessing upon our marital relationships.  Forgive us where we have resented, ignored, or disobeyed Your truths in this area of our lives.  As we apply Your Word would You repair shattered marriages.  We will trust You to restore the joy and intimacy of the marriage covenant.

Personal note from Stephen: Let me be quite blunt here. It occurs to me that there are likely those reading this who have godly materials on your computer such as Bibles, devotionals and other spiritual helps.  But you also have pornography. You really need to make a decision and I share Joshua's ancient challenge: "Choose this day who you will serve." A powerful personal reminder might be to print out the daily verses and place them right above your computer screen, or make a banner type screensaver with this message!  (You may need to do so above your TV as well.)  If that isn't deterrent enough rid yourself of the tool of temptation altogether.
Personal note from Brooksyne: I have counseled with women who were devastated after finding that their husbands were involved with pornography.  It made them feel that they were inadequate in meeting their husband's physical and sexual needs.  It also made them feel like pornography was a mistress who had stolen their husband. Pornography creates unnatural and excessive desires in their husbands that a wife is unable to fulfill nor should she be expected to do so.  It replaces the beauty of sexual intimacy in a marriage to one of shame and degradation.  Husbands who generously love their wives and are wholly  devoted to them will be blessed by wives who will give generously of themselves in a marital relationship.   Certainly we're aware that women are also caught in the grip of pornography and their husbands experience the same kind of emotional pain as the wives described above.  "Guard our hearts, Lord Jesus, from that which defiles Your law."

Additional Resources On This Topic

Here are several  online resources that deal with the topic of moral purity.
Pure Life Ministries
Pure Intimacy
Resisting the Lure: Recognizing the Dangers of Sexual Temptation
(an online booklet from RBC)
Pornography and Cybersex

For deeper study I highly recommend this book, which I have used in discipleship classes for men.

Disciplines of a Godly Man, 10th Anniversary EditionDisciplines of a Godly Man, 10th Anniversary Edition By R. Kent Hughes / Crossway Books
Our churches and homes need men who aren't afraid to work up a "spiritual sweat." Using engaging illustrations, scriptural wisdom, and practical advice, Hughes helps you "train" in the areas that matter most, including marriage, fatherhood, friendship, purity, integrity, leadership, prayer and ministry. Through this revised edition complete with study guide, discover what it means to be an effective and godly witness as a man in today's world.

The Purity Principle: God's Guardrails on Life's Dangerous RoadsThe Purity Principle: God's Guardrails on Life's Dangerous Roads  By Randy Alcorn / Multnomah
Looking for a way to open up discussions about sexual integrity with your family---or at your church? Alcorn's biblical, practical one-stop handbook deals with everything from teaching young children about sexuality to relationship principles for teenagers, older singles, and married couples; from special advice for those in ministry to transforming hope for those sorely tempted. 96 pages, hardcover from Multnomah.

Pastor Bob Verno Yesterday my pastor, Bob Verno, completed his series on sexual purity with a candid message based on Matthew 5. Here's an audio file of that message. I recorded it using my laptop and had some problems with feedback so it's not of the best audio quality but it is still quite listenable and you will really laugh at the opening illustration!

Today's music features a song I had never heard before prior to a search for another song (which I was unable to find!)

Guard Your Heart (mp3)
From a group called "Fields of White"

With friends at Red Robin, Carsisle, PA
On Friday evening and all day Saturday we attended a marriage conference in Carlisle, PA and had lunch with some friends.

Lavere and DottieOn Sunday afternoon we attended a 50th wedding anniversary for Lavere and Dottie, friends of ours from York County, whom we came to know when I served as an interim pastor in Spring Grove Pennsylvania last year.  It's a real blessing to honor marriage in this manner.

Mike and LyndseyNewlyweds Mike and Lyndsey, also a part of the church, attended the celebration. They were married only a week ago!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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