I don’t know how old I was when I first became aware of pornography, but it impacted my life powerfully, taking over my mind and displacing wholesome priorities. But praise God, He gave me enough insight to keep me from pursuing the worst, most demeaning types of porn. Even so, my early exposure to that evil established a lifelong pattern that has interfered with God’s work in my life.

Most people might think that being born anew in God’s Spirit would end my fascination with porn, but it simply introduced a life-and-death battle where no such conflict existed before. Over the years I rationalized my appetite for erotic imagery by calling it a compulsion, but a particular Scripture passage dashed that deception:

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:13-14)

So much for that cherished rationalization. For me, the key truth here is idolatry, or placing something between myself and my God. In fact, I did exactly that with my “compulsion,” placing it outside of God’s reach, believing that He was unable to deliver me from that sin. Could that be anything but the most subtle of blasphemies?

Erotica is indeed common to man—and woman for that matter—and in the natural context of marriage between a man and a woman it is a beautiful thing. But porn is mass marketed erotica, and one of the enemy’s perversions of natural and good innate drives.

Fatal Attraction

What’s wrong with having a little fun? After all, no one really gets hurt, do they?

Oh my, where do I start? From personal experience I know that immersing myself in erotica both pulls the plug on my spiritual life support and interferes with my emotions and my creative and critical thought processes. Recognizing the spiritual aspect is no great stretch, but I suspect most people fail to realize how it messes with ones mind.

Think in the physical terms of a healthy lifestyle; most of us realize that our bodies work best when we take regular exercise and eat a well-balanced diet of minimally processed foods. The body receives both the exercise and the diet well because God created us for just that sort of natural maintenance.

We also have other needs, such as physical and emotional intimacy, and they are best satisfied when we meet them according to our Creator’s pattern. Shortcutting the satisfaction of those needs produces only frustration and heartache, and makes us ripe for the enemy’s picking.

The Lie

Every convincing lie is built around a kernel of truth, and the pursuit of sexual gratification through pornography is a powerful example of such truth-based falsehoods. God indeed created us with a powerful sexual drive that is fulfilled in a healthy marriage. Many husbands, however, tell themselves that porn’s erotic stimulation will help to spice up their marriages, often with their wives’ approval. Somehow they fail to recognize the probability that such perverse sexual gratification will displace their normal, healthy sexual relations. But men aren’t the only culpable parties to porn; many women consume “spicy,” romance novels that show a perverted view of romantic relationships, and that habit is every bit as damaging as graphic porn. Both encourage false ideals and expectations to which real people can’t possibly conform.

Such is the way of perversions. Whether they be sexual, food related, or the pursuit of prosperity, possessions, security, or the power-trip of dominance over others, they’re all based on some God-given drive gone horribly wrong.

My Erstwhile Prayer

For years I’ve prayed for God to deliver me from my compulsion to use porn for sexual release, issuing anguished cries of desperation and shame. Through my stubborn refusal to apprehend God’s victory, I managed to covertly blame God for not taking it away from me. My muddled mind interpreted God’s “failure” to deliver me from the need for such perverted sexual release as His implied permission to continue.

We regularly hear a particular Bible promise that should put all these desperate pleas to rest:

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

Why are we so unbelieving that we regularly gloss over such beautiful promises? Somehow they are good in principle, but our issues are just too big for God’s power. BALDERDASH! Isn’t it remarkable how the flesh can pervert even such a beautiful, God-given resource as prayer?

The Pornographic Church

We church folks can easily understand the unchurched world’s dependence on sexual and all other forms of perversion. Yet, we fail to grasp how easily the world system erodes the church’s holiness. Pollsters tell us that church-goers are mere percentage points less likely to frequent pornography web sites than the unchurched, and among those, ministers are just as likely to develop the habit of viewing porn. In fact, some of the most vocal in their condemnation of sexual sin are themselves deeply stained by such virtual voyeurism.

My personal experience demonstrates the futility of trying to maintain an intimate relationship with God while chronically involved with pornography. We church folks find Christianese verbiage easy enough to spout, but though we practice a form of godliness, we deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5). Remember; shame kills intimacy, whether with God or with one’s spouse.

The Remnant

Despite all the successful attacks on the church’s moral purity, God has maintained a remnant of chaste brothers and sisters in Christ. Are all the rest hell-bound for eternity? But for God’s amazing grace they would be. Does that mean we can freely gratify our fleshly drives without consequence? As Apostle Paul wrote, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2) We must remember that making excuses for our sin is actually self-justification, which in a real way rejects Christ’s justification, and we all know what that means.

To avoid our enemy’s condemnation, we must remember a key Scripture passage:

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh. (Romans 8:1-3)

The operative phrase is, “for those who are in Christ Jesus,” so anyone trying to fudge a free pass for sin is flat out of luck.
Glance back to Romans 6:1&2 for a moment; the phrases, “continue in sin” and “live in it,” mean there’s a huge difference between living in sin and inadvertently sinning. We all experience moments of weakness when we yield to temptation, but a true Christ-follower gains no satisfaction from such behavior. That’s why Jesus gave us 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Despite having been made dead to sin, we are certainly not immune to temptation. In fact, we suffer greatly from grieving God’s Holy Spirit within us, and the only remedy is brokenhearted confession and heartfelt repentance.

If your relationship with Father God lacks intimacy, there’s a strong probability that you have allowed something to block your access to Him. Even if that something is addiction to pornography, Jesus has already won your victory over it.

Dump your depravity! Shuck your shame! Claim God’s precious promises for yourself and join His holy remnant as an ultimate conqueror.

Dave Barry Learns Everything You Need to Know About Being a Husband From Reading 50 Shades of Grey | TIME

If you typically react with offense or nausea to humor that employs PG-13 level … ah … um … “gender” related … I mean … well … physically that is … subject matter, you probably aught to pass up Dave Barry’s hilarious review of E.L. James’ runaway best-seller novel, 50 Shades of Grey. At least, I thought it’s hilarious, but then, I’m weird. While it uses some frank terms to describe bodily processes—like I said, it’s roughly PG-13 rated—the humor is pure Dave Barry. And if you’ve ever wondered about all the fuss regarding 50 Shades of Grey, read this review first.

So, that’s my way shorter and somewhat less funny review of Dave Barry’s review. If all those hyperlinks suggest to you that I consider Dave Barry’s review worth reading, you are correct.

“But where,” you might ask, “is the famous spiritual content that I’ve come to anticipate in “The Well-Dressed Branch”? To that I might answer, it’s all over the place in Dave Barry’s review, by means of his comparison between men’s and women’s communication styles, and his sarcastic ridicule of the novel’s ridiculous, verbally pornographic content, euphemistically known as erotica. Barry simply confirms one of my semi-regular themes; women are every bit as likely to consume porn as men, but since it’s hasn’t got pictures, they consider it more respectable. But, if you seek sexual arousal from it, you aren’t exactly in tight with God.

Okay, since I couldn’t play the harp if my life depended upon it, I’ll cease my harping on this well-worn topic.

You’re welcome.

C.S. Lewis on Faith and Feelings

Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders

Have you ever known someone you wanted to totally agree with, but couldn’t? I respect C.S. Lewis, both the man and his work, but I can’t agree with everything he wrote about Christian doctrine. What you see below is one of his statements that I heartily agree with, and I wish every Christ-follower would read it and take it to heart.

“Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods ‘where they get off’, you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith.

“The first step is to recognise the fact that your moods change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious readings and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?”

From Mere Christianity

In my observations, Christianity seems to be polarized between two extremes: the emotional Pentecostal/Charismatic side, and the analytical scholarly side. Both extremes, of course, include vast numbers of variations, from Charismatics who love God’s Word and spend great portions of their time studying it, to Bible scholars who feel God’s love so deeply they can’t contain it.

“Follow Your Heart”

The recurring theme in Disney’s and others’ “family” movies is, “Follow your heart.” It’s based on the idea that anything that makes you happy couldn’t be bad. That idea, however, almost never works out. I’ve experienced its folly so many times that I hesitate to admit it. Just look at the things people do to themselves because they think it will make them happy: Alcohol, drugs, relationships, sex, cosmetic surgery, and accumulating money and power. If you allow any one of those things to run your life, it will ruin your life.

Nothing is wrong with strong feelings, about God or anything else. What is wrong is basing your life on those feelings. That is what Jesus was talking about when he delivered this parable:

Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: (25) and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. (26) “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: (27) and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

I’m sure the wise man felt like finishing his house quickly, just as the foolish man did. But the wise man built his foundation on solid rock (God’s word) despite his inclination to go the easy way. This may not present feelings the way we typically think of them, but it demonstrates the broad range of circumstances that feelings can influence.

Whether it concerns relationships or home-building methods, feelings aren’t facts, and they most certainly aren’t truth. Too often they work against both.

Proud of Being White?

AWHMI followed a link to a Facebook page called, “American White History Month.” On it, I found a slogan with which I, though about as white as one can be, cannot agree. With it, however, I found a true statement, which I will quote first, “Never apologize for being white.”

I’ve done many things during my sixty-eight years for which I could indeed apologize, but why would I apologize for being what God made me? That would be like apologizing for being male, or human. Though males and whites, indeed, all humans, do despicable things, we don’t do them because we are a particular sex or color; we do them because we are sinful.

The second slogan on that page proclaims far more than its creators realize. “Proud of our race and heritage,” seems dangerously close to taking credit for God’s creative work. We didn’t choose to be born white, and of European heritage, so how can we be proud of that? We can certainly be glad of it, and thankful for it, just as people of color can be glad and thankful for who they are. Following, are Bible passages that deal with pride and its consequences:

Ephesians 5:15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21

1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

1 Timothy 4:4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Pride in something, and gratitude for it, are antithetical, if at once, one takes credit for it, and gives credit for it. So, which will it be? The passages above, and many more, command gratitude, but never does God’s Word tell us to take pride in what he gave us; even though we may have worked hard for something, or even invented it, we didn’t create it. Such pride is most certainly one form of evil.

As for our heritage, we are a nation born of Christian principles, and that, according to our Constitution’s Establishment Clause, is where our national Christianity ends. As Premier Obama said, America was never a Christian nation. Fact is, we can take pride in no nation governed by fallen human beings, as everything they do is based in sin, even if it seems noble. But we can, and must, remain thankful for it.

I Hate Being Needy

A Universal Prejudice

Everyone hates the thought of being needy in this society that idealizes self-sufficiency. But who are we fooling? Skeptics defiantly state they don’t need a crutch; they stand on their own two feet. Yet, they lean on “Science” to sort through all the confusing sensations assailing them in this almost infinitely varied world.

Though my pride would love to deny my need for anything outside of myself, I must admit needing a stabilizing factor. Dairy farmers know a two-legged milking stool is inherently unstable—though hand milking is an oddity today. Bicyclists know you have to keep moving to stay upright for very long—no rest for the biker. Architects know a simple planar triangle won’t stand; any structure needs support on another plane.

So, what do I lean on for stability? Near forty years ago I swallowed my pride and accepted Jesus as my Lord, Savior, and Solid Rock. In Him I don’t need riches, power, sex, alcohol, or any other god to keep me upright.

I Am needy

The same pride I swallowed back then, however, is still alive and loading me down(rather like too much meatloaf). It also tries to convince me that I don’t need any person outside of myself. Trouble is, I am needy; I need a woman, or should I say “the” woman, to balance my maleness with her feminineness. God created man and woman to complement one another. As He said, “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper corresponding to him.” (Genesis 2:18-25)

We’ve all heard the overworked, romantic movie declaration, “You complete me.” God created mankind—both sexes—for fellowship, both with Him, and with each other. He created woman because the male sex is incomplete without her(Now that’s a complete understatement.), and by inference, the female sex is incomplete without the male, for whom she was made. So much for feminism.

God’s eternal Word incarnate, the anointed Lord Jesus, became the necessary sacrifice to reconcile mankind to the Father. Those of us who hear His good news, believe it, accept His Holy Spirit as surety of the new covenant, allow Him to turn us around and change our life’s destination, and walk in that new way until God calls us home, He corporately calls the bride of Christ.

Does our eternal Husband intend to meet every need that He placed in us for the opposite sex(celibacy)? For single Christ-followers, it be wonderful if that were the case. Are we to be content in our current state? Of course(Philippians 4:11-13; 1 Timothy 6:6-8; Hebrews 13:4-5).

God’s Provision

According to the New Testament, is marriage discouraged or recommended among Christ-followers? Let’s examine the evidence: Jesus performed His first miracle at Cana, in Galilee, showing His approval of the marital covenant(John 2:1-11). Apostle Paul told the church that local leaders in the body must, among other criteria, be the husband of one wife(1 Timothy 3:1-13). The apostle instructed Timothy to restrict the list of widows(those who were allowed to serve in the church and take support from the church) to those who were older than sixty years-of-age(1 Timothy 5:9). But he instructed younger widows to get married, “to give the enemy no occasion for reproach”(1 Timothy 5:14). (“Younger widows” were less than sixty? Apparently, sixty years old wasn’t all that aged for first century women.) Dealing with the moral issues evident in the Corinthian church, and defending his prerogatives as a minister of Christ, Paul claimed for himself the right to take along a believing wife(1 Corinthians 9:5). Finally, the author of Hebrews commanded that the marriage bed be held in honor, discouraging fornication and adultery(Hebrews 13:4).

Does God recommend marriage only as a last resort for relieving sexual tension? Though sex is one small part of the marriage covenant and relationship, God’s word assigns far more significance to marriage than just that; a godly marriage relationship gives stability to both the man and woman by meeting their multitude of unique needs, and fulfilling His purpose for mankind.

There is no need to hate being needy. Just allow God to fill that needy void in His way, and in His time.


Expect the unexpected” may be trite advice, but it’s a good idea.

But, who really practices such wariness? Our lives are ruled by inertia; once in motion, we tend to stay in motion―locked in one direction, one speed, one mode. Even those who desperately try to live unconventionally do so according to their own conventionality.

Our attitudes and expectations toward such ethereal qualities as love and peace largely depend on our experiences with them. Those fortunate enough to have been reared in safe, affirming, supportive homes with unconditional love, typically gravitate toward similar circumstances and relationships throughout their lives. Trouble is, few seem to enjoy such positive inertia. The rest of us had parents who were human beings; flawed people with baggage of their own, who despite their parental love, messed up regularly, perhaps flying into a rage for no good reason, punishing their kids unfairly, breaking promises they fully intended to keep.

Such parents, fully aware of their shortcomings, suffer wracking guilt pangs for warping their kids’ temperaments and personalities for life. “Will Johnnie become a serial killer because I failed to make it to Science Fair Parents’ Night as promised?” “I’m not the warmest of people. Will Mary become a cold and detached wife?” But they fail to realize their failures are imperfectly normal.

Those of us who care more about our kids than ourselves naturally have these passionate misgivings about our parenting abilities. We wonder how those people manage to raise such wonderful little geniuses, not realizing they entertain the same misgivings about their parenting. With all this failed parenting in the world, how can humanity hope to ever rise above its historical hatred, violence and indifference?

We humans have shown little potential for demonstrating the kind of love and enjoying the kind of peace that we long for. Only an incurable optimist would argue that such sterling qualities lie within our human reach. But that is not to say we humans weren’t created specifically to enjoy perfect love and peace. And that is exactly why we are never satisfied with anything less.

From the outset, we human-type beings have bent every effort to obtain bits of divinity. We believed a usurper’s lies and tried to take a shortcut to the exclusive qualities we thought God owned outright. Then, when we were busted, we lied about it to God’s face, tried to cover it up, tried to blame each other, tried to insist, “Da devil made me do it!” While we call that whole fiasco “Original Sin,” there’s nothing “original” about it. Whenever we decide to live our own way instead of God’s way, we repeat Adam and Eve’s little mistake, bearing our own eternal guilt.

Love and Peace

Two little words that infatuate us like none other. Our pea-brains confuse sex for love—or at least the prospect of getting some—and confuse lack of war, for true and lasting peace. We’ve built elaborate cultural institutions around those lofty misunderstandings, often involving various altered states of mind. When we can’t find the authentic items, we’re quite content to delude ourselves into feeling as though we have. Too often, however, the world’s version of love quickly turns to exploitation and addiction, while the world’s peace leaves us bickering among ourselves if not actually shooting at our neighbors.

God’s love and peace, however, doesn’t involve hangovers, smoking stuff, or unwanted pregnancies. It doesn’t include smacking folks with placards while screaming, “Make Love, Not War!”

To those of us saturated by popular culture and indoctrinated by academia, God’s way to authentic love and peace, quite frankly, seems rather weird. For one thing, God’s way isn’t a method or an institution. It’s a person. When Jesus addressed his followers, preparing them for his departure to his Father, Doubting Thomas seemed confused. So, Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.(John 14:6 KJV)

How does God define Love? He defines it by identifying it with himself: So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.(1 John 4:16 ESV) In fact, the Lord’s apostle John wrote more about love than any of the other anointed Bible writers. His gospel and his letters to the churches are filled with a unique depth of understanding for God’s love. Yet, the majority of folks still don’t get itcan’t get it. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV) Is there any wonder that the world consistently warps this vital teaching?

And how does God define peace? He shed some light on the subject when he addressed his followers for the last time: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27 ESV)

But wouldn’t it be nice if that was all he had to say about it? In another place he gave his followers some idea of his complexity: Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34 ESV) Yet, he said: “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”(Luke 19:42 ESV)

He may as well have said, “It’s … complicated,” for truly it is. The one thing we know for sure about both love and peace is whatever popular culture is buying, God isn’t selling. Will we buy the lie, just as Man and Woman did in Eden? Or will we hold out for God’s truth—the Truth he left for us in his word, the Bible? Yes, it can be complicated, but why would we expect anything else?