@robertkwendt || lead pastor
There is one thing I have learned as I've continued to grow older. Life throws us storms. Physical storms. Emotional storms. Spiritual storms.
Recently I listened to a friend explain what he was going through. He had just gotten ahead on his bills and was taking a leisurely drive home from work. Then, he saw it. His entire side of his house was destroyed by a wind storm.
A woman called me. Everything was seeming to come together for her, then a storm hit. Her doctor found a spot that led to a diagnosis of cancer.
A young man wanted to talk. He can't find the motivation to get out of bed in the morning. He is crippled by anxiety and searching for his purpose in this world.
I don't care who you are, what social status you have, or how young or old you might be, there is one thing that we can know about life in this world...storms will come our way. A mentor of mine once said to me, "Enjoy the quiet, seemingly uneventful, and calm times in life. Those are the moments when you are able to recharge before another storm comes your way."
storms can be overwhelming
In Matthew 8:23-27 we read about how Jesus was on a boat with his disciples. In fact, the disciples followed Jesus onto the boat. While Jesus was asleep a storm hit. Overwhelmed by the situation, the disciples began to think they were going to die.
Can you relate? You seem to be enjoying a moment of peace in your life (like a nice day out on the water) when suddenly a storm hits out of nowhere. When we face these situations on our own they can be very overwhelming. We can be overcome with emotion and will jump at whatever seems it may solve our issues. We grasp on to whatever we can, even if in the end that is what actually can do the most harm to us.
In his book, How the Mighty Fall, Jim Collins writes, "When we find ourselves in trouble, when we find ourselves on the cusp of falling, our survival instinct — and our fear — can evoke lurching, reactive behavior absolutely contrary to survival. The very moment when we need to take calm, deliberate action, we run the risk of doing the exact opposite and bringing about the very outcomes we most fear."*
When my wife and I were expecting our first child we said we would not raise our voices in front of him. While I wish I could say I was able to hold true to that, I would be drastically lying if I said I never raised my voice. When caught up in the moment, when I am very frustrated, there are times where I do not stop to think. Instead, I react by raising my voice and by so doing go against the very thing I said I would not do.
This is how we often act when storms hit. We are overwhelmed. We lurch and react in such a way that goes against how we said we wanted to be.
but jesus calms the storms
Here is the thing. We are not alone! Jesus was with the disciples. He is with us.
Matthew 8:26b says, "The he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm."
When we are being attacked. When the storm seems to be hitting us hard, we can cling to Jesus. We can call out in his name for the storm to be calmed. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He was in the beginning of creation and he is with us now. He is all powerful and all knowing. He wants to calm the storms in our lives. Like the disciples did then, we can do now...call for him. Then, we can marvel at what he does!
jesus calls it like he sees it
I love what Jesus says in Matthew 8:26a, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?"
Jesus calls the disciples out. He challenges them with their faith. Here is the thing...
Storms are overwhelming when our faith is underwhelming."
What kind of faith do you have amidst your storm? Are you trying to do it all on your own? Or are you looking to an all-powerful God?
Often times Jesus uses the storms of life to build our faith. He uses them as opportunities to see him work and move. He uses them to build our relationship with him. He wants us to call out to him. He wants to calm the storms.
Have overwhelming faith that he will.
* How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins, p. 96
@robertkwendt || lead pastor
It felt like it was going to be forever. Do I really have to wait until marriage to have sex? Is that really what the Bible says?
Let's be honest: this is not a very attractive element of following God, waiting to have sex until marriage. In fact, it's one of those things that may even make following God seem impossible. Or, if we're truly honest, it's one of the areas we choose to not really follow—even though we do want to follow God.
Like a loving parent or guardian tells a child to hold back from things that will hurt them in the end, God has that same heart. He wants the very best for us and tells us to 'wait' out of a protection for us rather than it being merely a hard-hearted rule.
Here are some things God says and why we should listen to him.
sex has consequences.
Newton's Third Law of Motion says: "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." For example, when a fish swims, it pushes its fins backwards while the water reacts by pushing the fish forward. A car's tires spin in the opposite direction of the desired direction because the road pushes back in the opposite way.
Discoveries like this law in science are fascinating, but they're also proof that God has been showing us this all along. Paul, in writing to the Galatians (see Galatians 6:7-9), says, "For whatever one sows, that will he also reap."
When we choose to have sex, we must know that it comes with consequences. Here are just three:
1) Sex is powerful. It has the ability to create life. No means of protection comes with 100% guarantee. The reason: sex is powerful. It is so powerful that it can create life. While no child should ever be labeled a "mistake," we do know that a newborn baby is a life altering event. It changes everything. When we have sex, there is always the possibility of making a baby!
2) Sex has physical consequences. The CDC has this statement on their website: "HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get the virus at some point in their lives."* When we think of sexually transimitted diseases, we often think of the big names like AIDS. But it's diseases like HPV that we must also be aware of. There is physical contact that takes place during sex, and it has consequences.
3) Sex has emotional consequences. There is really no such thing as a one-night stand. In the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, that moment in time is etched into our memory banks. There may only be one night of actual connection taking place, but it's not forgotten about. Additionally, there's a bond that takes place—an emotional bond. God designed it that way. He wants us to be bonded to the person in a deeper way. We cannot ignore the fact that this takes place.
a glimpse at god's design.
When we look at Genesis 2:24-25, we see that two individuals become one flesh. We see this bond and commitment take place. This takes place when the man holds fast to his "wife." Not his friend or girlfriend or fiancée, but his wife. God designed it this way. He gave us companions. He designed marriage for us to be able to navigate this world. Paul, in sharing his views on marriage, even explains that if one has a burning desire for sex, then they should get married (1 Corinthians 7:9).
The other thing we see is that Adam and Eve felt "no shame." When we follow God's plans, there's no reason to be ashamed. There's no concern of the consequences that could happen. A child doesn't feel shame when following the guidelines of his or her parent. In the same way, we should not feel shame when we are following after God's heart.
The reality is, we all mess up. It may or may not be sexually, but we have done something to mess up. The good news is, Jesus forgives!
1 John 1:8-10 says, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."
For every action, there is a reaction. That's why when we messed up, God came down to us to save us.
No matter what our past has been, we must understand that Jesus wants to give us a new story. He wants us to be in relationship with him, and he did everything possible to restore that relationship.
If you've messed up, know and rest in the fact that God loves you and forgives you through your faith in Jesus Christ. Also know that when we live for Him and follow His guidelines, we begin to realize just how much wisdom He has. We see how things work out.
We realize God's design is best.
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* CDC, "HPV Statistics," https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stats.htm.
@robertkwendt || lead pastor
It is a moment that will forever be etched into my mind. A kid simply wanted to "fit in" with the other fifth grade boys. A kid who, in a moment, without even realizing it would happen, went from a boy to a man. It was when he first saw an image of a naked woman. I was that kid.
Right there in elementary school, a neighborhood boy pulled out a picture he said I wasn't cool enough to see. Looking for his approval, I had to force my way in. While it was innocent in nature, it was an image that forever stuck with me. From that time on, I had to struggle through and navigate a world where people around me would make looking at pornographic images seem okay.
Since the introduction of the internet, the message of sex is all the more prominent. It's easy to access. Even content blockers that we think we're successfully enacting contain easy workarounds for young, maturing minds to discover. In order to navigate this world, to keep healthy boundaries, and to keep our eyes on Jesus, we must begin to talk about the role of sex and pornography in our society.
just a few stats...
These statistics should alarm us. They should make us realize that there is a problem happening. There's a demand for sex, and it's causing serious harm to people.
sex is good. the problem is sin.
God designed sex. It's a good thing by God's design (see Genesis 1:27-28). The problem is not sex, but sin.
In writing to the Romans (Romans 1:24-25), Paul says, "Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator."
There lies the problem. Worshiping the creature rather than the Creator. When we sin, we "miss the mark." Instead of honoring and glorifying God, we go against Him by living for our own desires and passions rather than His.
While God shows us how sex is to be enjoyed within a marriage, we often will forgo His desires in order to gain instant satisfaction in our own lives. We turn toward lusting over other people and going against God's design in order to gain an instant benefit.
Our struggle takes place when we worship the creature (ourselves) rather than the Creator (God). || tweet this ||
god gives us boundaries.
An incredible place in our world is the Grand Canyon. The Colorado River flows majestically through these deep, beautiful, red canyons for hundreds of miles. It's one of those places you visit that leaves you in awe and wonder of God's creation.
Throughout the canyon are spots where you can walk to the edge to get a beautiful view of it. Along the edge is a small fence. It's easy to climb through, under, or over. It's not a barricade by any means. This fence is a boundary marker. It's a visible sign to stay on one side or else serious consequences may exist for those who cross over.
God gives us boundaries throughout the Bible. Boundaries include having sex within marriage, not giving into sexual immorality, and understanding the power of sex (the ability to create life).
Yet, we see throughout the Bible that the people of God often ignored these boundaries and had to suffer the consequences of their actions.
Take King David for example. This is the same David that took down Goliath, was king of the Israelites, was chosen by God. He wasn't only a shepherd, but a very successful warrior. He was a man after God's heart, but he was still far from perfect.
In reading the book of 2 Samuel, we read the story of David and Bathsheba. In this account, David sees a beautiful married woman bathing. He orders that she be brought to him, and he gets her pregnant. When he finds out that she was a married woman, he ultimately orders for her husband to be put on the front line of battle so he can be killed.
There is a lot we can learn from this story that can help us as we navigate boundaries in our own lives—boundaries in regards to lust, pornography, sex, and the many other struggles we have to face in a world full of imperfections.
alone time can be dangerous.
While all the men were away, David was alone. He was wandering around, and his wandering eyes led to him seeing Bathsheba. From that moment, lust began to take a hold of him. One thing led to another—and the next thing you know, David's sleeping with another man's wife.
Like sex, alone time is not a bad thing. However, it can be a dangerous thing if proper boundaries are not set up. Here are some practical ways to protect yourself:
God wants us to have times of rest and to recharge, but we must be aware of Satan's desire for us to serve ourselves (the creature) rather than God (the Creator).
don't let your past define your story.
Through mentors and accountability partners, the power of the Spirit gave me a desire to fully live for God. I watched God take away my desire to look at any pornographic images. This was never easy, as society continues to throw it in our faces—but it was a process that made me stronger.
Jesus desires to change our story. He wants us to live in relationship with Himself.
Satan seeks to destroy us while Jesus seeks to restore us. We all mess up. Despite our mistakes (both big and small), Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave so that our stories may be changed. He did it in order to bring us into relationship with Him and to make us new.
No matter where you have been or what you have done, Jesus desires to be a part of your story. He wants to restore you. He wants to go through life with you.
Colossians 1:21-22 says, "And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him."