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DEC

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2014

R EGAINING C HILDLIKE W ONDEr IS RESPECT ENOUGH? F IGHTING P OrN wITH F.A.I.T.H.

A publication of On My Own Now Ministries, Inc.

The

White Knight Within

GENUINE MOTIVATION Young Christian Man Feb/Mar 2014, Vol. 5 On My Own Now Ministries, Inc., Publisher Rob Beames, Editor Katelyn Larson Editorial Support Donna Schillinger Page Design Contributors Rob Beames, Will Dole, Sam Harris, Sara Minett, Thom Mollohan, Jason Moore, Gavin Ortlund Except where noted, content is copyright 2014 On My Own Now Ministries. Articles may be reprinted with credit to author, Genuine Motivation and www.OnMyOwnNow.com. On My Own Now Ministries, Inc. is a nonprofit organization with a 501 (c) (3) determination. Your donations aid in our mission to encourage faith, wise life choices and Christ-likeness in young adults during their transition to living on their own. We welcome submissions of original or repurposed articles that are contributed without expectation of compensation. May God repay you. Visit us at www.OnMyOwnNow.com.

in this issue...
FOREMOST
BY

Fighting Porn with F.A.I.T.H.


GAVIN ORTLUND

.4 .8 .10 .12 .14 .16 .18

PRESS ON
BY

Regaining Childlike Wonder


WILL DoLE

REAL RELATIONSHIPS
BY

Wielding the White Knight Within


SAM HARRIs

CAN YOU RELATE


His Perpetual Presence
BY

ThoM MoLLohAN
bY

CORNERED
BY

Respect: Is it Really all you Want?


RoB BEAMEs

GRAcE

BEGIN AGAIN
BY

Easy Listening: Stay Tuned


JAsoN MooRE

THE REcAP
BY

Crimson Harvest
SARA MINETT

Advanced Training in Self-Denial


Matthew 4:1-11 (how I would say it)

ollowing his debut, Jesus went into seclusion as per instructions from Gods Spirit. The purpose: advanced training in self-denial. He spent 40 days and nights there without eating, after which he was quite hungry. Then the torture. The tempter approached him and said, So you think youre the Son of God, eh? Why dont you make bread out of these rocks then?

Jesus reply: The textbook says that it takes more than bread to sustain life. Mans true need is to consume Gods word. Then the tempter took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. Well, if you were really the Son of God you could throw yourself off of this building, because the textbook also says, He will command his angels to take care of you wherever you goeven to the extent of giving you a little boost to keep you from stubbing your toe on a rock. Jesus answered him, Yep, and the textbook also says, God doesnt do tricks on command. Next up, the tempter took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the nations of the world and flashed their opulence in front of him. See all of this? he said. It can all be yours if youll just acknowledge that Im number one. Jesus dispatched him by saying, The textbook says, Theres only one boss, and that would be God. Work only for him. So get lost, Satan! So he did. The tempter leftfor the time being. Then some beings from outside of this earth appeared to take care of Jesus [and give him a high five].

Read More Scripture (how I would say it)


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F OREMOST F OREMOST
BY GAVIN ORTLUND

FIGHTING PORN WITH

F.A.I.T.H.
I
4
MAR14

n my current ministry role, guys often confess to me that theyre struggling with pornography or some other kind of sexual sin. To help them, as well as in my own fight for purity, Ive developed an acronym that encapsulates some oftenneglected strategies for fighting the good fight in this area. I call it fighting by F.A.I.T.H (okay, kinda corny, but easy to remember).

Last year Dane Hays wrote a helpful article reminding us of the importance of accountability. These strategies complement that important theme. In other words, if someone says, I have Covenant Eyes on all my devices, and I meet with a group, but Im still struggling!what else can we do?

FEATURE

ARTIcLE

1. Friendship

In his book The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis lamented how impoverished our idea of friendship has become. While in the ancient world friendship was considered the happiest and most human of all loves, today its rare to even find real friendships. As a result, we tend to look to romantic love for what God designed to be a part of friendship love. We use sex to fill a more general relational void. In my experience, guys rarely connect the dots between temptation and plain old loneliness. And yet so many feel disconnectedisolatedlike no one knows whats really going on inside them. Amid our busy schedules and social media activity, were aching for the deeper connections God designed us to experiencefor vulnerability, trust, acceptance, assurance. Temptation has such power because it appeals to this deep-seated loneliness. In our cultural setting, the fight for sexual purity is one piece of a countercultural approach to all relationships. We need the kinds of friendships described in verses likeProverbs 17:17. When were living in deep and authentic community, the appeal of temptation is less comprehensive and thus less powerful.
2. Adventure

a sense of life. It reminds me of King Davids choice to stay back from battle in 2 Samuel 11:1where the real battle with lust for Bathsheba was ultimately lost. So many guys succumb to temptation because, like David, they stay back from their own God-ordained battles. Theyre overwhelmed by temptation because theyve never been overwhelmed by the glory of God and the wonderful thrill of walking in the good works hes prepared for us. Im reading The Hobbit to my son in the evenings. Its great theme is adventure. Adventure is a holy thing, a delightful thing. Our hearts will seek adventure one way or another, so temptation can seem overwhelming when were safely burrowed up in our cozy hobbit hole. But the same temptation will often grow small and languid in the midst of a journey toward Smaug. And we all have our own hobbit holes to abandon, and our own Smaugs to slay.
3. Intimacy

Another issue is the lack of adventure in many guys lives. So many seem to have nothing grand to aim for. Theyre drifting, cynical, boredlacking in idealism and initiative, without a sense of purpose and direction, untethered from anything transcendent and glorious. And when our lives lack adventure, temptation promises what were not getting elsewhere: excitement, adrenaline,

In one of my counseling classes during seminary we devoted an evening to analyzing different kinds of marital affairs. My professor, Dan Zink, suggested affairs rarely happen because of the strength of ones sex drive. Instead, they usually have to do with emotional factors, like the desire for relational intimacy and affirmation. Ive carried this insight with me and applied it to sexual sin more generally, and I believe its crucial to consider in fighting temptation. When counseling guys fighting porn, for instance, I encourage them to look underneath to the emotions making the temptation particularly strong, and then to engage those emotions with the gospel and in other healthy ways. Are 5
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F OREMOST F OREMOST
you tempted because youre bored? Pursue a hobby. Are you tempted because youre exhausted? Take Sabbath rest. Are you tempted because youre depressed? Talk with a biblical counselor. Are you tempted because of rejection? Engage your heart with the gospel. A lot of guys seem to fight temptation at the biological level but never at the emotional level. But because our sexual lives are related to our entire person, thats like bolting up two-by-fours over our front door while leaving the back door wide open. Seeking sexual purity must involve seeking emotional self-awareness as well. temptation comes that ancient question: has God really said? Resisting temptation is therefore not just a matter of willpower but of faith. Part of the fight involves clinging to the objective truths of the gospellikely those very truths that seems most distant and unreal in the moment of temptation. In Lewiss That Hideous Strength, the character Mark is imprisoned, and he experiences a kind of intellectual temptation. In the midst of it, he discovers the power of objective ideas: Day by day, as the process went on, that idea of the Straight or the Normal which

A lot of guys seem to fight temptation at the biological level but never at the emotional level ... that's like bolting up two-byfours over our front door while leaving the back door wide open.
4. Truth

In The Meaning of Marriage, Tim and Kathy Keller recount Jane Eyres inner struggle with temptation. They note how most TV depictions of this classic novel make it sound like Jane resists the temptation by looking inward for selfassurance and self-respect. But in the book, Janes inner emotions are a whirlwind of clashing and confused emotions, and she has to look outside of herself to resist the temptation. The Kellers observe: [Jane] does not look into her heart for strengththeres nothing there but clamorous conflict. She ignores what her heart says and looks to what God says. . . . Gods law is for times of temptation. (231, italics original) In the midst of temptation, its often hard to cling to what we know is true. After all, the tempter is also a deceiver, and with

had occurred to [Mark] during his first visit to this room, grew stronger and more solid in his mind till it had become a kind of mountain. He had never before known what an Idea meant: he had always thought till now that they were things inside ones own head. But now, when his head was continually attacked and often completely filled with the clinging corruption of the training, this Idea towered up above himsomething which obviously existed quite independently of himself and had hard rock surfaces which would not give, surfaces he could cling to. Like Mark, we need to learn to cling to the objective truths of Gods Word in the moment of temptation. Temptations power is its fleeting pleasure; truths power is its bracing objectivity. Temptation is like cotton candy, empty and unfulfilling; truth is like cold steel, unyielding and enduring. The great allies of temptation

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FEATURE
are distortion, spin, deception, theological muddleheadedness; the great ally of resisting temptation is truth. Let me share an example of a gospel truth I speak into temptation, sometimes even out loud: Thats not who I am anymore. In my union with Christ, this assertion is a hard surface of glorious truth I can cling to no matter what my emotions may be saying to me. What truths do you particularly need in order to defeat temptation? Cultivate the habit of clinging to them amid temptation. They will not give way. Cotton candy cannot bend steel.
5. Healing

ARTIcLE

Gavin Ortlund is a Ph.D. student in historical theology at Fuller Theological Seminary and serves on staff at Sierra Madre Congregational Church in Sierra Madre, California, where he lives with his wife and son. Gavin blogs regularly at Soliloquium. You can follow him on Twitter. This article originally appeared on GospelCoalition.org.

If you were exposed to pornography at a young age, or sexually mistreated at some point in your life, or have a family history of sexual sin, that part of your past has undoubtedly complicated your battle for sexual purity. Victory over future temptation will probably progress only as you deal with your past brokenness. An important step may be counseling. Above all, though, healing comes from the gospel, and the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Eph. 3:19). Christ is the great physician. He died for failures, repeat offenders, and the sexually broken. He can bind up all wounds and make you whole again. A final note: no matter where you are, no matter how hopeless you may feel, dont give up. In the gospel, Jesus has perfect patience (1 Tim. 1:16) for those who rely on him. That means no amount of falling down can ultimately destroy you as long as you keep getting up and running to Jesus (Prov. 24:16). But we must keep repenting, keep fighting. Dont give up!

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Press On

Regaining

CHILDLIKE WONDER
BY

WILL DoLE

hen people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. (Matthew 19:13-14) Most of us have heard sermons, read blogs or been encouraged by someone to be more childlike in our faith. Thats a good thing. Jesus does tell us that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. But what does that mean? Again, we are familiar with exhortations to seek such things as humility and a simple faith. Both concepts are taught many other places in Scripture; however, I believe we

miss something deeper if we equate being childlike only with humility and faith. I am far from being an expert on children, but I have been around a few during the course of my life. Being the oldest of 11 siblings and having a one year old daughter, one thing has always struck me as a distinctive childlike trait: wonder. You may have heard someone say that there is no need to purchase presents for their small children, because they seem to be more fascinated with the wrapping paper and cardboard boxes than the gifts. While this is usually said in jest, its pretty accurate. Children can take what we see simply as garbage and entertain

8
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themselves for hours on end. They are happy with simple toys like plastic utensils and stuffed polar bears. And dont forget the toys that make noise. My little girl will push the buttons on her singing dog incessantly. Sometimes when I watch her, I wonder, why cant I be more like that? Not about toys and boxes, but what about all the marvelous things we walk past every day? Why dont such things as trees blowing in the wind, squirrels running through the leaves, flowers in a garden or snowflakes falling gently on my nose cause me to stand in awe? Are these not miracles in a sense? We can even take our salvation for granted, when it is no less a miracle. Jesus, the Creator of allwhom we have rebelled against, rejected and scornedentered human history by being born in a stable to a poor, unwed teenage mother. He lived in a no-name town in the Middle East for 30 plus years and then, after roughly three years of ministry, was brutally murdered. He submitted himself to this in order to bear, not only the human punishment for crimes committed, but also the wrath of the Almighty God for all the sins of men. He then rose again, conquering death, and became the first fruit of eternal

Why don't such things as trees blowing in the wind, squirrels running through the leaves, flowers in a garden or snowflakes falling gently on my nose create more of an awe in me? Are these not miracles in a sense?

life, offering the same to all who place their hope in His sacrifice. He told His rag tag group of followers that they would be His witnesses to the world, and, in fact, the entire world has been changed. Not only that, but He has promised to return again in power and glory, righting every wrong, restoring creation, punishing the unrepentant sinner, rewarding His faithful, wiping every tear from their eyes and dwelling eternally with them as their God and King. Can we read this and not be consumed with awe? Can we not be amazed, as the hymnist says, that thou my King shouldst die for me? Sometimes, it is easy to be bored with the Christian life. There are days we approach our Bibles like we do our toothbrushes. There are Sundays when we seem to approach church like it was a business a meeting or a school assembly. Why does it seem we are never jazzed about our spiritual life? Perhaps its because, at least in part, weve forgotten how simply marvelous and amazing our God is. We desperately need a shot of childlike wonder in our lives. Maybe thats why Jesus said, The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. 9
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Real Relationships

White Knight
BY

Wielding the
SAM HARRIs

Within

elp! Someone save me! yells the beautiful damsel in distress. Ill save you! I shout, while riding towards her on a white horse with the sunlight gleaming off of my shining armor. I pull out a masterfully forged sword, plunge it into the throat of the gigantic dragon looming above her. I scoop her up in an embrace as we ride off into the sunset togetherat least, thats how it always works out in my head. Call me melodramatic, but Ive always been kind of fascinated by the idea of a noble and selfless hero rescuing the innocent. Maybe it comes from reading too many superhero comic books and legends of medieval knights. Maybe it comes from following Jesus, the ultimate self-sacrificial hero and defender of the innocent. Or maybe, theres something inherent in men that makes us want to be the protector and to fight for what is right. After reading some good books on the subjectfor example, Wild at Heart by John Eldredgeand talking with several of my male friends about the issue, I dont think Im the only guy who feels the need to be a hero. Because of this fascination, I take every opportunity to act like a hero. I dont mean that I jump off rooftops and fight criminals in dark alleys at nightalthough that would be pretty cool! What I mean is that I try to be more aware of people who are hurting in my day-to-day life and look for ways I can help. It doesnt have to be a great feat. It might simply be a quick, encouraging word. It could be a prayer or

a random act of kindness. It might involve carrying books for a girl on crutches, driving a friend to the store to pick up some needed medicine, or it might be as important as reminding a friend recovering from a suicide attempt due to a bad breakup that life is still worth living. Of course, we dont want to only focus on the ladies. But, we guys tend to not share our struggles or show our weaknesses as openly, because we want people to think that were tough and manly. So, in keeping with my dramatic, medieval, superhero fantasies, it does seem that getting to rescue a dude in distress doesnt happen quite as often as with the other sex. Either way, we should try our best to be sensitive and compassionate to those around us and look for ways to help whenever possible. Most of us do enjoy that certain sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing weve had a positive impact on someone else, and we like to believe our actions can make a difference. I would like to think, by doing kind and selfless acts, Im following my favorite fictional heroes,

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but, more importantly, Im responding to our command to love others selflessly in whatever ways possible. But trying to be a hero can have its downside as well. A compulsion to help others is good, as long as we are doing it out of love for God and others. But its also easy to fall into the trap of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Sometimes, we should ask why we try to be a hero. Is it because we truly have compassion for people and want to bless them? Or is it because we want people to see us as a good person? Is it because we feel guilty and want to feel better about ourselves? Maybe were trying to score points with girls? Whats even more ridiculous is when we do it to earn more favor with God. As if that were possible. Its hard to tell what our motives are sometimes. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9). Thats why heroes like us need help and the continual forgiveness won by Christ. Doing good deeds for others may become problematic if we start to think that our efforts alone can save people or fix their issues. If our motives for good deeds are selfish, then we have lost sight of Gods love and power, which is never selfish in the least. In these types of momentary lapses, we can easily think that were able to save the whole world. But theres a big difference between thinking we should try to help people and thinking we can save everyone in the world through our efforts. The line between the two can be easily crossed. At times like these, its wise to take a step back and remember that saving people is Gods job, not ours. Yes, its important to help when we can, but not in order to hog the spotlight and puff ourselves up with pride. Well do more harm to ourselves and others if we forget the source of our love and power. Were much more effective pointing people back to the true Savior. Honestly, trying to be a hero isnt always as noble and selfless as it looks, but that

doesnt mean that we shouldnt try. It does mean we need to find a balance between two extremes: doing too few genuine good deeds and too many for the wrong reasons. If we can keep doing good things for people while maintaining a compassionate and selfless attitude about it, then we do well. If we start to question our motives or cynicism starts to set in, we can trust that God has a habit of using fragile vessels to demonstrate His powerful love to others. For whenever we communicate the love of God, Paul explains, ... we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this allsurpassing power is from God and not from us (2 Corinthians 4:7). Fortunately for us, God uses flawed people to do His work. As men, many of us want to be bold and noble heroes rescuing those in need. Hopefully, its because we love God and others, but sometimes we love ourselves and our own glory even more. However, if we stay focused on God and pray for purity of heart and motives, then God will use us to make a difference for those in need of His love; in His grace, He may use us either way, but its better if we cooperate a little. If we look around hard enough, we find theres never a shortage of hurting people who need kindness and encouragement. So, let us rise to the occasion and be the selfless, heroic warriors that our Savior has called us to be. Let us wield the white knight within in the best way possiblefor the good of others and the glory of God. Sam Harris continuously strives to follow Jesus Christ more closely and to love others more fully. He has recently completed his B.A. in English Education at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and is planning to start on his M.A. in English in the fall. He enjoys writing nonfiction accounts of his life experiences, as well as science-fiction and fantasy stories and the occasional poem. He would like to be an English teacher, a writer or a superhero when he grows up. You can find his blog at www.sirrahleumas.wordpress.com, or like Samuel N. Harris on Facebook. 11
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CAN YOU RELATE

HIS PERpETUAL PRESENCE

BY

ThoM MoLLohAN
and destiny. At times like these, we are so hardpressed that we try to redefine our very identity. This transition became an extreme time of crisis for me in both physical and material ways. The bigger trial, however, came when Satan tried to use my confusion during this difficult season in my life to make me question Gods faithfulness and love. On the one hand, it was a time of complete chaos where Gods presence was unclear. Yet I still trusted He was there. Being forced to make a living in a new way, it wasnt long before the financial strains on my family exposed how unprepared I was for the imminent changes on the horizon. How was I going to make it? How could I make everything bearable for my family, the beautiful people under my care? The fear of the unknown was overwhelming, and the hurt my family felt at the hands of many whom we had previously trusted was crushing. I increasingly felt out of control with sickening intensity, and I didnt know where to turn. I looked for God, but could not sense His presence.

welve years ago, God brought a major transition into my life, which not only affected me directly, but had powerful life-changing ramifications for my family as well. An uneasy relationship between myself and my newly appointed supervisor exploded in my face, in spite of all I had labored to do to maintain a respectful and supportive role to his authority. Sadly, I and the ministry to which I had been called did not fit into his overall vision. Not only was I let go, but because of his fear that I could become inconvenient to his plans, this supervisor engaged a series of attempts to discredit me. Other than an outright counterattack that would have done nothing to glorify God, advance His kingdom, or reach the lost, I had no choice but to simply accept this turn of events and attempt to move along a path I wasnt prepared to tread. Change is never easy. Its especially difficult having to recreate a once familiar daily routine or construct a new lifestyle. Even harder are those moments which force us to examine our calling

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This time of rejection taught me that storms come as do dry seasons, times of loss and moments of pain. When such things come, we are tempted to believe that God has forgotten us. Depending on the degree to which we experience it and the depth of our confidence in Gods sufficiency, rejection can create such an aching vacuum in our hearts, so all we feel is a deeply set loneliness a feeling of abandonment which we quickly tend to attribute to God. Since we feel so alone, we usually determine that we must truly be alone. Rejection frames the mind and heart for believing the lie we have been abandoned, and we often find ourselves wide open to despair. The repercussions of arriving at such a conclusion can be cataclysmic. For example, we are more susceptible to disastrous life choices during feelings of abandonment than at any other point in time. Why? Because we are quick to join with anyone or anything that will accept us. This

check, revealing what is most important to us. Others opinions of us, material rewards, physical comforts and even our emotions can be subtle forces in our lives and gradually usurp the rule of Gods Word, the Bible. Anger, sorrow, greed, lust and laziness are all feelings that the Bible warns us against. He especially warns us against fear, because fear almost always misleads us in making critical decisions. The exception to this, of course, is having an appropriate, reverential fear for the awesome might and holiness of God, which has a unique way of putting everything in its proper perspective. Jesus, the Son of God, made some special promises to us that have the power to override inappropriate feelings, such as fear. In Matthew 28:20, Jesus promises, I am with you always. Think about that for a moment. God revealed Himself to us by taking on human form with all its limitations and then promised us that He will always be with us.

When we feel abandoned, we no longer have any sense of moral obligation to those we perceive have left us. When we feel abandoned by God, we naturally do not feel any particular impulse to live a life which honors Him.
strong feeling might cause us to remain in abusive relationships, as its easier to bear the emotional or even physical cruelty than feel alone and unwanted. When we feel abandoned, we no longer have any sense of moral obligation to those we perceive have left us. When we feel abandoned by God, we naturally do not feel any particular impulse to live a life which honors Him. Feelings of abandonment can have an enormous impact on our choices. When we feel rejected, it is good to pause and ponder some very important questions such as, am I really alone or do I just feel what way? During such times in our lives, we should keep in mind that what we feel may not necessarily be the way things really are. Such moments of desperation can serve as a reality While He is not with us in a physical sense today, His Holy Spirit is here. He is always with us! And if He is with us, then we are never abandoned, no matter how we feel. Neither should we feel unwanted. We are not. Yes, in spite of our failings and weaknesses, God wants to be with you very much, indeed. And, fortunately for us, He always is! Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio for more than 18 years. He is the author of The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at unfurledsails.wordpress.com. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at pastorthom@pathwaygallipolis.com.

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CORNERED

bY

GRAcE

IS iT REALLY ALL YOUrE ASKiNG FOr?

RESPECT

BY

RoB BEAMEs
That sounds like something a man might say. At least, it sounds like what we might expect a man to say. To most men, a comment like that even makes sense. It did to me at first, but, after I gave it some thought, I said to myself, Hey, wait a minute! Thats not enough for me. Weve probably heard similar expressions from other men. We may have even uttered something like it ourselves. In the right contextlike the workplace, a football field or the armyit usually works. It might even be required for our emotional survival, in some settings, but, if we are really honest about it, do we really agree? Is respect really all we need from others? Why do we settle for respect? We rarely expect love from anyone other than our family and

ecently, I sat in a conference room full of electrical technicians for a monthly seminar. As you might imagine, the men in the room were all accustomed to working in bad weather and fixing things with their hands. They all seemed fairly rugged. It wasnt a convention for unionized construction workers, but it wasnt far off. After a couple hours, with the attention of his audience waning, the speaker decided to get real. I wanted to hide. I didnt think it was exactly what that crowd needed. Not to be deterred, he spoke from his heart, Id rather have respect than love. After a few silent moments and awkward glances from one another, he explained, You dont have to like me to respect me... and thats all a man really wants, right? I dont need you to even like me... but I do want your respect!

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closest friends, but perhaps we should. Maybe its a cop out to settle for respect. Its probably easier that way, but we were created for more. After all, Jesus didnt settle for respect. If anyone should have commanded respect from everyone around Him, Jesus, the Son of God, should have. Instead, He demanded love. Jesus didnt ask anyone for respect. He constantly said things like, Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching (John 14:23). Wheres the call for respect there? It goes deeper than that. In fact, Jesus warned us to avoid the type of worldly respect some sought: Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces (Mark 12:38). He didnt seem as interested in the high regard someone might have had for Him, as much as He was concerned about a genuine response from the heart. Once a large group accused Him of being possessed by a demon, so Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me (John 8:42). By saying this, Jesus made it clear that the children of God, not only respect His Son, but love Him, intensely. While fear and respect may be good places to start, the goal is much higher: To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices (Mark 12:33). Okay, we are to love God with all we have, but not others with the same intensity. Thats true, but as the second half of that commandment shows, we are to love those around us, not just show them respect. This includes fellow believersA new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34)but also extends to our enemies, even those who mistreat usIf you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? (Matthew 5:46). Its fairly clear that respect for our fellow man whether a co-worker, neighbor, friend or foeis not enough. We must love, not just respect. While it is true we can respect someone without showing them love, there is no way to genuinely love

someone without showing them proper respect. We more often respect someone out of fear than we do out of love. As children of God, we cannot stop at mere respect, we must go much further and love others, even those with whom we only have business relationships. So, if this is the how we are to consider others, why should we be content with commanding respect from others? It sounds like the way real men should behave, but rather we should desire to compel others to love us, because they are loved well by us. We should strive to have others respond to our overwhelming kindness and patience by loving us well. If we are well loved, it can only mean that others are receiving the same from us. As Paul explains, it is the only way for us to live: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law (Romans 13:8). Is it possible to really gain this without a visit from three ghosts in the middle of the night like Ebenezer Scrooge? Unfortunately, we do not have it within ourselves. We cant just conjure up powerful magic to love others. Instead, We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). So, if we want to love, we have to first understand how greatly we have been loved by God through Jesus. If we are finding it difficult to really love others, perhaps we need to better understand how we are always forgiven, greatly favored, relentlessly loved and accepted without condition. If we are satisfied to have only the respect of others, perhaps we need to experience more of the vast power that love can yield. Jesus broke all the manly stereotypes many years ago, some of which said that real men caused others to fear and respect them. Many kings and rulers of past and present have operated in this way. Because of Jesus, we know that a real man causes others to love him by the way he first displays love and compassion to others, even when its difficult to do so. If we are having trouble loving our enemies, family or friends well, maybe we need to spend some more time soaking in the vast love shown to us by God through Jesus. Once we know were incredibly well-loved, well love others well. (I believe He wanted me to remind you of this.)

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BEGIN AGAIN

Easy Listening: Stay Tuned!


BY

JAsoN MooRE

ne of my favorite radio stations recently went through a name change and is now known as Fresh 102.5. The name has changed, but the music isnt all that different. In my opinion, its still considered easy listening. The station doesnt play rap, jazz, hard rock, heavy metal or classical music. It plays only familiar tunes from various decades that have found wide appeal within popular culturemusic which is easy on the ears. Not everyone likes that kind of music, but we all like easy listening; we prefer to listen to things that we like to hear. For example, dont you love it when someone agrees with you? We all desire to be affirmed, praised and to hear encouraging comments. I take this a little further, because, in fact, I have a bad habit of seeking only the advice that I want to hear. Each year, during fantasy football season, I ask for roster advice from one particular friend. For anyone not familiar with fantasy football, each week decisions have to be made regarding which players will be in the starting lineup and which will be on the bench. I often send my buddy a question,

listen to his advice and sometimes I take it. But usually, I just want him to confirm what Ive already decided. Thats a type of easy listening, but at some point we need to listen to things that arent so easy to hear, like the truth. It could be considered hard listening. We often dont want to hear that were wrong, that we need to change our attitudes or our ways. No one is really all that eager to hear negative or disturbing things, especially about ourselves. The gospel of Jesus Christ should actually be considered easy listening, since it literally means good news. We often dont think of it that way, however, because there are times where the gospel can be difficult to hear. It begins with the bad news that we are all sinners in need of saving (Romans 3:23). Then the gospel tells us that without God we are worse off than we can possibly know: The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14). Without Christ, we are excluded from citizenship in Israel and

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foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12). As we continue to read, we find that we are rebels who love other things more than God. We learn we are finite and broken people living in a fallen world. We discover we are alienated from God and deserve to be punished, because we constantly disobey our Creator. We learn we are in need of healing, but cant heal ourselves. Nonetheless, we refuse to admit we are in desperate need. Yes, sometimes we need to hear hard truths. We need to be around friends and in a community where we can be wellloved, while being challenged by the truth. We need to hear the difficult things, so we dont lose perspective as we listen to all those around us who tell us what we want to hear. We are warned, For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3). Who wants to be that guy? Through all of this, its easy to forget that the gospel is ultimately good news for us. It overwhelmingly makes up for the bad. In Christ, we are more loved than wed ever imagine possible. We are forgiven and reconciled to God: But now

he has reconciled you by Christs physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation (Colossians 1:22). We are set free from fear and shame: So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36). We are made into new people who are being changed by God in body, mind and soul: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17). The gospel may start out difficult for us to hear, but, if we listen long enough, we find it very easy on the ears. The good news saves souls, opens hearts, changes minds, transforms relationships and brings joy even through suffering. One day, it will thoroughly change the world. We need not shy away from truths that are hard to hear, because that type of hard listening leads to the easy listening of Gods free love and grace poured out on those who remain long enough to hear the good stuff. Jason Moore is a church-planting pastor with the Presbyterian Church in America. More than that, he is a child of God saved by His amazing grace. It is his hope that, come what may, God will use his life to display the love of God and make His goodness known.

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the recap

Dark Fiction Leads Teens to the Light


Crimson Harvest by Thom Mollohan Paperback 240 pp. $24.95 on Amazon; Kinle edition $2.99

REVIEw BY SARA MINETT


rimson Harvest by Thom Mollohan is a suspenseful and fast-paced novel that reflects spiritual truths and the struggles of many Christian-raised teenagers. This quick but exciting read merges fantasy and reality in the story of an average teenager, her spiritual struggles and bloodthirsty monsters of an ancient evil. The book follows the story of Heather, a sixteenyear-old girl from a Christian home, who is pressured by her friend Jillian to rebel against her parents and her morals. When Heather finally breaks and agrees to sneak out to a club with Jillian and her handsome and charming new BY S TEVE BRAUN friend, Gage, she gets far more than she bargained for. After witnessing Gage brutally attack (and possibly murder) Jillian and her brother Rich, Heather flees home and seeks the help of her parents and Uncle Kevin. Heather starts to see that there is a much deeper evil at work as she tries to flee from Gage, who is out to kill her, and save Jillian, who seems blinded by Gages lies. In spite of a random attack on her parents, Heather gains a deeper understanding of Gods love and protection. With her parents hospitalized, and still no idea of how to escape from Gage, it seems to Heather that Gage has an evil and inhuman hand in everything that goes on

in her town. Wooed by a cry of help from Jillian, Heather is kidnapped by some of Gages followers, and even the police are involved. It is now up to Uncle Kevin, himself not a Christian, and Officer Logan Sharptwig, seemingly the only man on the police force who can be trusted, to save Heather before its too late. Heathers character transforms from a spiritually insecure girl who just wants to have fun into a young woman after Gods heart. Mollohan uses this action-packed story to demonstrate the importance of an honest relationship between Christian teens and their parents, having a strong church family, and learning to rely on Gods love. Mollohans approach to Heather was realistic, exposing the inner struggle for good decisionmaking, despite her relationship with Christ. This story also reminds us that making mistakes doesnt mean an end to our relationship with God. The narration of Heathers feelings of shame for going to the club makes a realistic connection to the struggle of many teens in similar situations. Even if cheesy at times, the story was involving and the message moving. A great way to connect with a teen in the rebellious years, this encouraging story with page-turning suspense is ultimately a message of Gods love.

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