NIGHT LIGHT FOR PARENTS

NIGHT LIKE FOR PARENTS.jpg

Double Life

by Michael Fitzpatrick

For five years I had been struggling with an addiction to pornography—a battle I was losing. I had become a Christian two years before, but my addiction changed my relationship with my family and took even my love of God hostage. It’s not that I didn’t pray. I did—usually while looking at porn sites on the Internet. Lust consumed me, and I felt powerless to change.

One Sunday morning, I sat in the sanctuary half-listening to the sermon. My thoughts were on a verse from Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

I wanted to believe that God could rescue me, but there I was, sitting in church yet living a double life. People at church think I’m a strong teen role model, I thought. My family thinks I’m a devoted Christian. The truth is that I’m neither. I lift up my eyes to the hills, but help comes from nowhere.

Seconds later, my attention was riveted to the words spoken from the pulpit. “The Lord detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless” (Proverbs 11:20).

God detests me? The thought shocked and horrified me. But why wouldn’t He? I was a hypocrite and a liar. I was a failure in my faith. My ways were far from blameless. For the first time I saw my sin the way God saw it. I bowed my head and sent an urgent prayer to heaven. God, if You are listening to me, hear my plea. I am a sinner and a slave to my sin. God, save me! I believe that You can, yet I’m still shackled. Relieve me of this burden—please. I have no other options.

I hurried out of the church, avoiding everyone I knew from my youth group. At home, I fell on my bed and stared into space for half an hour until my mom knocked on the door.

“Honey,” she said, “I just got a call from the church. One of the kids can’t go to camp, and the camp fee is nonrefundable. They want to know if you’ll go in his place. Interested?”

I need to get away from that computer and think about something else.

“Yeah, I’ll go…”

“Are you all right?”

“Yes, but Mom, could you leave, please? I need some time alone.” My mom left my room.

God, I’m in a black pit and can’t see light in any direction. How do I break these bonds? How do I break this addiction? I pray and pray, yet You don’t seem to hear my cry. The Israelites waited four hundred years before You released them from bondage in Egypt. How long do I have to wait? Why won’t You answer me?

A few hours later I left my room and discovered that I had the house to myself. Immediately my mouth went dry, and I looked at the computer sitting there, luring me.

Nobody will see.

I booted up and connected to the Internet. A Christian home page came up, and I stared at it for a minute. Then, hating myself for doing it, I logged on to the Playboy site. I swallowed hard as lewd photos filled the screen. A few minutes later, I switched back to the Christian web site. Five words stared at me:

Jesus watches where you surf.

A pair of eyes followed my cursor as I moved it across the screen. The words…the eyes…it was all too much. I fell across the keyboard, sobbing. “I’m a Christian who looks at porn sites! Lord, forgive me and change me—I need a miracle! Work something awesome in my life!”

The words on that screen still burned in my mind as I walked up the hill at church camp a few days later. I saw three girls playing Ping-Pong and introduced myself to them. As we talked, I noticed that a light seemed to radiate from them. Their smiles, their attitudes, their words—it was the glow of Jesus in them. At that moment, a warmth and love filled and satisfied me more than any lewd images ever had.

With sudden clarity I understood that pornography had controlled me because I’d tried to use it to fill a void for real love—the kind that only Jesus could fill. I found a spot alone and rededicated my life to Him. Once again I asked God to forgive my sin and give me the strength to resist.

When I got home from camp, the first thing I saw when I walked in the house was the computer. Cold fear gripped me—my mouth went dry; my hands felt clammy. It was time to confront the monster in my life. Romans 6:17 came to my mind: “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.” I prayed, turned, and walked away.

That wasn’t the only time I had to resist temptation. In the months that followed, every time I turned on the computer I had to resist it. More months passed, but finally, with God’s help, the day came when it wasn’t a struggle anymore. The Lord had given me the power to defeat my addiction. I was free! My double life was over—and my relationships with my family and with God were back where they belonged.

Looking ahead…

The dangers of this world are truly terrifying for moms and dads trying to safely guide their kids through the minefield of childhood. Pornography, drugs, sex, and violence are just some of the weapons that Satan uses in an attempt to gain control of your daughters and sons in their most vulnerable moments. But as Michael Fitzpatrick reminds us, we will prevail if we keep turning to the original source of truth and power.

Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, gathered His disciples in a vineyard and prayed eloquently for them, saying, “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:14–15). In the same way, the world hates your children if they belong to God. Though we might wish that the precious little ones in our care could be spared from the evil influences in our immoral society, God has a purpose for their lives on this earth, and we must yield to His plan. Our task is to pray for our kids, to teach them the ways of God, and to protect them as long as we have breath in our bodies.

Last week we discussed the “assault on innocence.” This week we’ll take a look at more threats to your family—and how, by resting in God’s grace and mighty authority, you can successfully deliver your children into the joy of eternity.

– James C Dobson

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

“Double Life” by Michael Fitzpatrick © 2000. Used by permission of the author.

RESTORATION: HOLINESS MEANS HEALING

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by John Eldredge, author of Restoration Year

HOLINESS 
Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. — Romans 12:2 The Message
It seems that much of what Christians believe they are called to is a cluster of activities that include regular church attendance, Bible study, giving, and attending the annual retreat. Now — what is all this activity supposed to do in us? If it’s not restoring the whole person, it may be completely missing the point of what God is after in our life: to heal us as human beings.

It might help to contrast this with a couple other popular options out there: the self-help movement’s goal of getting your life working — helping you with your anxiety or your weight problems. It is right and it is wrong. I believe with all my heart that God wants life for us there. But when we focus on fixing problems, the transformation of our character is missed.

Then you have what we’ll call righteousness Christianity, focusing mostly on “sin” and “the loss of morality.” A great deal of energy is spent trying to make people behave. And it is right and it is wrong. Yes, we’re supposed to live godly lives, but where’s the joy and the intimacy with God?

God is restoring the creation He made. Whatever holiness truly is, the effect of it is healing. That’s what it does to a person.

Is the Christianity you are living healing your life? Is it ushering in restoration? If not… you might want to ask Jesus if He has something new for you.

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TWO ESSENTIALS
Jesus said, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’… ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ ” — Matthew 22:37, 39 The Message
Only Jesus could get away with taking all of God’s commands — and boiling them down to two. Two. We’ve missed the brilliance of it, and the immense kindness too.

People seem committed to making things complex. Look at what we’ve done to education and taxation. The Jews of Jesus’ day had so many rules it practically immobilized them. This wasn’t what God intended. The way of holiness was never meant to be a labyrinth of complexity and eventual despair.

High standards are often ignored because we feel we haven’t the slightest chance of meeting them. So why bother? Moral issues remain cloudy as a way of excusing ourselves from ever really facing them.

Jesus cuts through this when He says, “It all comes down to this: Love God, love others. Practice this and you’ll be fine.” He’s not dismissing the many wonderful instructions God has given us in His Word; He is bringing us back to the issue of motive. Okay. If the entire Bible comes down to these two issues, it ought to grab our attention. These are our marching orders: if we make loving God and loving others our motive, we will find the beauty of Jesus’ holiness.

Yes, Lord, I choose Your way of love. I choose love as the goal of my life. Loving You and loving others. I say yes, Lord!

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YOUR HEART IS GOOD
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His Cross and crucified them there. — Galatians 5:24 NLT
The idea that we are ready to sin at a moment’s notice, incapable of goodness, and far from any glory is a common mind-set. It’s also unbiblical.

The passage people think they are referring to is Romans 7:18, where Paul says,
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing, — KJV
Notice the distinction he makes. He does not say, “There is nothing good in me. Period.” What he says is that “in my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” The flesh is the old nature, the old life, crucified with Christ. The flesh is the very thing God removed from our hearts when he circumcised them by his Spirit, as Paul explains in Galatians.

Yes, you will still battle with sin. You have to choose to live from the new heart, and your old nature doesn’t go down without a fight. But the question on the table is: Does the Bible teach that Christians are nothing but sinners — that there is nothing good in us? The answer is no! Christ lives in you. You have a new heart. Your heart is good, and that good heart is what is true about who you are.

Which version do you believe — that your heart is simply wicked, or now that Jesus Christ lives in your heart, God is giving you His holiness?

Excerpted with permission from Restoration Year by John Eldredge, copyright John Eldredge.

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Your Turn

God is in the midst of restoring you. This is a restoration in progress! He is restoring you to a position of holiness in His presence. So, day by day we can love Him and love others out of the good that He has given us through His holiness! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

 

COMMENT

ANSWERS FOR PASTORS

 
 
Why is sound doctrine essential for the health of the church?

 

Sound doctrine is essential for the health of the church because the church will always listen to someone, and it will always follow whoever it listens to. The only question is, will a church follow God or Satan? Will it confess the truth or lies? Will it uphold sound doctrine or false teaching?

 

To be specific, sound doctrine is essential for:

The existence of the church. The church is the gathering of Christians, the gathering of people reconciled to God through the gospel. If there’s no sound doctrine, there’s no gospel. If there’s no gospel, there’s no church.

 

 

Evangelism. If a church doesn’t have sound doctrine it cannot preach the gospel. If it doesn’t preach the gospel, no non-Christians will turn from their sin and trust in Christ.

Discipleship. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17, NIV). Christians grow by learning and living in light of the truth about God—in other words, by sound doctrine.

Unity. According to the New Testament, the only true unity is unity in the truth (1 John 1:1-42 John 1:10-11).

Worship. Jesus says that true worship is worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24). If a church doesn’t proclaim the truth about God then it can’t worship God “in truth.” Only by believing and teaching and proclaiming sound doctrine will the church glorify God by declaring his excellencies (1 Peter 2:9-10) and worship him because of who he is (Psalms 29:2).

Find more great resources for church health from Mark Dever and 9Marks Ministries at www.9marks.org