Pleasure and Temptation

“Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground.  I know we have won many a soul through pleasure.  All the same, it is His invention, not ours.  He made the pleasures; all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one.  All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden.  Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable.  An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula.”

C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York, 1996), Letter IX.


The Heart of Mature Masculinity

“At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships."
John Piper, pastor/theologian


A Praying Life

“Time in prayer makes you even more dependent on God because you don't have as much time to get things done. Every minute spent in prayer is one less minute where you can be doing something ‘productive'. So the act of praying means that you have to rely more on God.”
Paul Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World


Free Men

"The essence of Adam's sin was that he put himself in God's place. The essence of Christ's obedience is that He put Himself in our place. Because of His life in our place, and His death in our place, we are freed from our sins."

Trevin Wax, author Counterfeit Gospels


God's Design for Sex

“Your desire for sex is proof that God loves you. Your physical draw to another human being is proof that God created you to want to experience unparalleled intimacy in a way that reflects His desire for intimacy with us. God designed sex and the acts and attitudes preceding it to access aspects of your heart, soul, body and mind that could not be accessed any other way.”

Relevant Magazine, July 21, 2011


Opening the Door Into Christ

“Here, then, is the crucial question which we have been leading up to.  Have we ever opened our door to Christ?  Have we ever invited him in?  This was exactly the question which I needed to have put to me.  For, intellectually speaking, I had believed in Jesus all my life, on the other side of the door.  I had regularly struggled to say my prayers through the key-hole.  I had even pushed pennies under the door in a vain attempt to pacify him.  I had been baptized, yes and confirmed as well.  I went to church, read my Bible, had high ideals, and tried to be good and do good.  But all the time, often without realising it, I was holding Christ at arm’s length, and keeping him outside.  I knew that to open the door might have momentous consequences.  I am profoundly grateful to him for enabling me to open the door.  Looking back now over more than fifty years, I realise that that simple step has changed the entire direction, course and quality of my life.”

John Stott (1921-2011)


The Insidiousness of Pride

"There is one vice of which no man in the world is free. Which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else, and of which hardly any people, except Christians ever imagine they themselves are guilty. I have heard people admit that they are bad tempered or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink. Or even that they are cowards. I do not think that I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice. . . . There is no fault that make a man more unpopular and no fault of which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. The more we have it ourselves the more we dislike it in others. The vice I am talking about is pride or self conceit. And the virtue opposite to it in Christian morals is called humility."

C. S. Lewis


Your Story in the Resurrection Power of Christ

"The true understanding of the Bible is that it tells a story of which my life is a part, the story of God's tireless, loving, wrathful, inexhaustible patience with the human family, and of our unbelief, blindness, disobedience. To accept this story as the truth of the human story (and so of my story) commits me personally to a life of discernment and obedience in the new circumstances of each day."

Lesslie Newbigin


What Are You Staking Your Life On?

"I can honestly say that I've staked my life on an empty tomb Everything I am, everything I own, everything I've done or hope to do hangs suspended on whether or not Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. The decision I made decades ago to put my trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is only as good as the tomb is empty. If Jesus didn't rise from the dead my life is a sham. I've invested everything in, staked everything on, entrusted everything to the historical fact of the empty tomb."

Dr. Sam Storms, Pastor, Theologian and President of Enjoying God Ministries


Spiritual Amnesia

"One reason we don’t grow in ordinary, grateful obedience as we should is that we’ve got amnesia; we’ve forgotten that we are cleansed from our sins. In other words, ongoing failure in sanctification (the slow process of change into Christlikeness) is the direct result of failing to remember God’s love for us in the gospel. If we lack the comfort and assurance that his love and cleansing are meant to supply, our failures will handcuff us to yesterday’s sins, and we won’t have faith or courage to fight against them, or the love for God that’s meant to empower this war. If we fail to remember our justification, redemption, and reconciliation, we’ll struggle in our sanctification."

Elyse Fitzpatrick, Because He Loves Me


Don't Flinch at the Fiercest Point of the Battle

"If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point."

Martin Luther


I Hate Accountability Groups

The real reason, however, that I hate “accountability groups” is because the primary (almost exclusive, in my experience) focus is always on our sin, not on our Savior. Because of this, these groups breed self-righteousness, guilt, and the almost irresistible temptation to pretend–to be less than honest. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in “accountability groups” where there has been little to no attention given to the gospel whatsoever. There’s no reminder of what Christ has done for our sin–”cleansing us from its guilt and power”–and the resources that are already ours by virtue of our union with him.  These groups produce a “do more, try harder” moralism that robs us of the joy and freedom Jesus paid dearly to secure for us. They start with the narcissistic presupposition that Christianity is all about cleaning up and getting better–it’s all about personal improvement.

Tullian Tchividjian

See Part Two


You Cannot Die Until Your Work Is Done

Henry Martyn said, “If God has work for me to do, I cannot die.” That is true of everyone whom God has made alive. You cannot die until your work is done. You are immortal until every good work that the Father has created on your trail is accomplished.

If you are alive, then God has something yet for you to do.

That’s the very reason you are alive. You are not at the end of your trail. There are still good works that God has prepared for you to walk in.

If you’re stuck in a tough marriage, God still has something for you to do. If you’ve reached a plateau in your career, God has something good for you that you can’t see right now. If you’ve been passed over for a promotion, remember that “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge; he putteth down one, and setteth up another (Psalm 75: 6, KJV).”

Have you experienced some great failure? Your failure is not final. God’s plan is bigger than your failure. God takes men who fail and uses them. Let me ask you something. Who else is God going to use? All He has to work with are men who have failed. Your failure is not bigger than His plan. If you are seeking Him, you’re not on the shelf, and your best days are not behind you. The best days are ahead of you.

Are you getting this? Is it really registering with you? If God’s good works for you were over, you would be physically dead. But you’re not dead and your future isn’t dead. God has a trail for you to complete. And it’s a good trail. No, that’s not quite right. It’s the best trail.

That ought to give you hope, right now. That ought to give you meaning and significance. That ought to tell you that your life is not a waste. God has planned your future. And that means you are a fortunate man.

Steve Farrar


Teaspoon Christianity

"For those of us who have been Christians for a while, it becomes easy to think that we've pretty much exhausted the possibilities of the Christian life. We can settle into a routine of activities at church and in our small groups and Bible studies, with little expectation of anything new. The familiar becomes the predictable, and everything from here on out will be more of the same. We dip our teaspoon into the vast ocean of the living God. Holding that teaspoon in our hand, we say, 'This is God.' we pour it out into our lives, and we say, 'This is the Christian experience.'

God calls us to dive into the ocean. He call us into ever new regions of his fullness, his immensity, his all-sufficiency. There is more for us in Christ than we have yet apprehended. Let's never think that we have him figured out or that we've seen all he an do. The Bible is not a guidebook to a theological museum. It is a road map showing us the way into neglected or even forgotten glories of the living God."

Ray Ortlund, When God Comes to Church


"Christianity And" - The Enemy's Strategy of Using New Fads and Fashions

"My Dear Wormwood,

The real trouble about the set your patient is living in is that it is merely Christian. They all have individual interests, of course, but the bond remains mere Christianity. What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call "Christianity And". You know—Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Christians let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing. The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart—an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friendship."

C. S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters (chapter 25)

Life is Meant To Be About Adventure

The life of a man is a story; an adventure story; and in our vision the same is true even of the story of God."

G. K. Chesterton


Evil in Tucson and in Every Human Heart

"Evil exists and a few are possessed by it. C.S. Lewis said that evil isn't an absolute; it needs good. It's a parasite that rides on good. G.K. Chesterton offered an explanation for evil we may not want to hear, because it places blame where we like it least: "Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable." We tolerate, even promote, many things we once regarded as evil, wrong or immoral. And then we seek "explanations" for an act that seems beyond comprehension. Remove societal restraints on some evils and one can expect the demons to be freed to conduct other evil acts. The fault, as Shakespeare wrote, "lies not in our stars but in ourselves." Once tolerated, evil grows like the parasite alluded to by Lewis. It inevitably and predictably leads to other evils, like the tragedy in Tucson."

Cal Thomas, Christian syndicated columinist 1.1.11


Cheap Grace

[ICheap grace] "is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship


The Greatest Uses of Facebook and Twitter

"One of the greatest uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time."

John Piper


Desire is Not Your Problem

“The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory


What Only A Christian Brother Knows

"The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Confession and Communion,” in Life Together (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), 118-19.


Spiritual Battle

"We are the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no great war, or great depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We've all been raised by television to believe that one day we'll all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars — but we won't."

Tyler Durden In Chuck Palahniuk's book Fight Club (made into a movie starring Brad Pitt)


Typical Men's Ministries:

"You cannot just put a bunch of men together and assign them to a care group like some sort of E-Harmony for men and think that is going to solve and fix and help the masculine soul. We have modeled most of our men's ministries after our women's ministries -- get the men together, read a book together, hold their hands and pray together and talk about the worst sin that you ever did -- and that ain't happening. Men solve problems. They fix stuff. They get stuff done. When we give men such weak assignments -- we put them on the bereavement committee and the flower committee and the grounds committee and the fellowships committees -- give men a God-sized task that they know requires a man."

Randy Stinson, Executive Director, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood


From Lord of the Rings:

Frodo Baggins:

I can't do this Sam.

Sam Gamgee:

I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.


What are we holding on to Sam?


That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.

Castrated Men

"And all the time—such is the tragic-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive,’ or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity.’ In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ an demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful."

C.S. Lewis, “Men Without Chests” from The Abolition of Man


The Masculine Mandate from God

"Whatever we call it, it seems obvious that America is facing a leadership crisis. Bold leadership and the exercise of authority are commonly met with skepticism, if not outright disdain. I believe this is happening for two reasons. First, in our sinful pride we all have a resistance to being led, especially in a country like America, where independence is highly prized. Second, we are all familiar with leaders who have used their power to enrich their own lives, abusing rather than blessing those entrusted to their care. Some business leaders have been shown to be self-serving scoundrels, so we tend to see all of them in that light. Political leaders are widely perceived, rightly or wrongly, as having been bought by moneyed interests. Because so many men fail to conduct themselves in an honorable, biblical way, women can become skeptical of the entire male gender. Certainly, few of our cultural heroes today are leaders in the biblical sense—those who serve and influence their followers, steering them toward some greater good."

Richard Phillips is senior minister of the historic Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C and author of The Masculine Mandate


Treating Men Like Women or Felons

"Christian men don’t like the prejudice against them, they complain--sometimes bitterly--in private, but they keep going, though something happens to many of them beginning in their late thirties. Church becomes a chore. And a bore. They go out of duty, not because they receive much inspiration there as men, or truly helpful instruction regarding marriage and gender differences. They go because they feel they have to. If you question this prejudice against men, then ask yourself: Why do men have “Accountability Groups,” at church, yet women have “Fellowship Groups”? Men are treated as if they are one step away from committing felonies. So they require constant monitoring, constant “accountability,” as if they are at risk of jumping a form of spiritual bail." 

Paul Coughlin is  a popular speaker and best-selling author of No More Christian Nice Guy, Married but not Engaged, No More Jellyfish, Chickens, or Wimps.


Men Without Friends

"One serious problem is the friendless condition of the average American male. Men find it hard to accept that they need the fellowship of other men. Thanks to the men's movement the church understands now that a man needs other men, but what we've offered is a two dimension solution: 'accountability' groups or partners...'You're really a fool and you're just waiting to rush into sin, so we'd better post a guard by you to keep you in line.' We don't need accountability groups [although we need accountability]; we need fellow warriors, someone to fight alongside, someone to watch our back...we need to who we can bare our souls. But it isn;t going to happen with a group of guys you don't trust..."

John Eldredge, author of Wild at Heart


All Glory is Fleeting

"For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting."

General George Patton, portrayed by George C. Scott in the last scene academy-award winning movie Patton


It's All Grace

"One of the best kept secrets among Christians today is this: Jesus paid it all. I mean all. He not only purchased your forgiveness of sins and your ticket to Heaven. He purchased every blessing and every answer to prayer you will ever receive. Every one of them – no exceptions.

Why is this such a well-kept secret? For one thing we are afraid of this truth. We are afraid to tell even ourselves that we don’t have to work anymore, the work is all done. We are afraid that if we really believe this, we will slack off in our Christian duties. But the deeper core issue is that we don’t really believe we are still bankrupt. Having come into God’s Kingdom by grace alone solely on the merit of Another, we’re now trying to pay our own way by our performance. We declared only temporary bankruptcy; we are now trying to live by good works rather than by grace."

Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace

That's What Friends Are For

"There are two statues in Washington D.C. that together tell a remarkable story. One is the massive memorial to General Ulysses S. Grant that stands at the east end of the Reflecting Pool, literally in the morning shadow of the U. S. Capitol building. Visitors can hardly miss this majestic depiction of the legendary general atop his war stallion. Grant's military leadership was decisive to the Union's victory in the Civil War, and he is considered a symbol of the force of human will, an icon of thestrong man who stands against the storm when all others have shrunk back."

"Some two-and-a-half miles away, in a pleasant but nondescript city park, stands a more commonplace memorial. The statue of this lesser-known Civil War figure, Major General John Rawlins, has actually had eight different locations and is hardly ever noticed by visitors. Rawlins had been a lawyer in Galena, Illinois, where Grant lived just prior to the war, and he became Grant's chief of staff. Rawlins knew Grant's character flaws, especially his weakness for alcohol. At the beginning of the war, Rawlins extracted a pledge from Grant to abstain from drunkenness, and when the general threatened to fall away from that promise, his friend would plead with him and support him until Grant could get back on track. In many ways, it was Rawlins who stood beside the seemingly solitary figure of Grant the great general. Rawlins' memorial is modest compared to the mounted glory afforded Grant, yet without his unheralded love and support, Grant would hardly have managed even to climb into the saddle."

Richard Phillips is senior minister of the historic Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C and author of The Masculine Mandate


The Neverending Story

“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at least they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."

C. S. Lewis, the last paragraph of the last book of The Chronicles of Narnia series


God With Skin

“In the person of Christ, God ‘dropped in’ on his rebel creatures. He came into our living rooms, our wedding receptions, our places of business. He ate with us, drank with us, laughed with us, and cried with us. The apostles testified not to having experienced a man who walked with God or who somehow became divine; nor to a god who looked and acted like a human being, but to the man who was God and the God who was man. They did not testify to their own subjective religious experiences, but to that ‘which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched.’ (1 John 1:1)

Michael Horton, theologian and popular author


Intended for Adventure

"Because we’re so careful to keep control over our lives, we water down the ‘Christian life’ to the point that there is actually very little Christ in it. We’re so concerned about it being user-friendly, seeker-sensitive, open-minded, and non-offensive that too often it can cease to be Christ-centered. In fact, if we’re honest, we have to ask whether our life really reflects a commitment to a living biblical Christ or to a ‘cultural Christianity.’ We learn to go through the religious motions, use the Christian lingo, attend Christian meetings and events, but we lack the evidence of a life transformed by Jesus Christ. As Pat Morley well describes it in his book, Man in the Mirror, we create a god of our own preference rather than the biblical God who calls for our allegiance. We may even blame Him for the lack of fun and adventure.

"Yet that’s never how God meant it to be. He intended life to be an adventure . . .and to be fully and holistically integrated. God never intended to be confined to a box . . . or for any of us to be in one either. In God’s view everything is sacred . . . after all, He created it all. If we’re not careful, we miss the vital truth that ‘the only real difference between the sacred and the secular is that the secular doesn’t know it’s sacred yet.’

"The sacred was never meant to be relegated strictly to the temple or the church. Instead, the sacredness of God’s mission to bring everyone into a personal relationship with Him and to become involved in His life-changing ministry to the world was intended to penetrate every area of life, and to involve everyone answering His call."

Bob Reccord & Randy Singer, Live Your Passion


The Big, Big Difference Between "Do" and "Done"

"Do you know the difference between religion and Christianity? It's two letters versus four letters. Religion is spelled with two letters - D-O. Religion is a list of things people think they have to do in order to be accepted by God-go to church, give money, keep the Ten Commandments, say the Rosary, be baptized, pray every day. The list is endless. It’s always Do …… Do …… Do. That’s what religion is all about. If you want to go to heaven, you’re going to do something and keep on doing it until the day you die. Christianity is spelled with four letters-D-O-N-E. Christianity is not based on what we do but upon what Jesus Christ has already done. If you want to go to heaven, you don’t have to do anything; you just have to trust in what Jesus Christ has already done for you. That’s it. That's the whole difference — Do versus Done. Either you do it or you believe that Jesus Christ has already done it for you."

Ray Pritchard, Sr. Pastor, Calvary Memorial Church, Oak Park, Illinois


Nice Guys?

When all is said and done, I think most men believe God put them on the earth to be a good boy. The problem with men, we’re told, is that they don’t know how to keep their promises, be spiritual leaders, talk to their wives, or raise their children. But if they will try really hard, they can reach the lofty summit of becoming… a nice guy. That’s what we hold up as models of Christian maturity: Really Nice Guys.

Now in all your boyhood dreams growing up, did you ever dream of becoming a nice guy. Ladies, was the Prince of your dreams dashing… or merely nice? Dedication to niceness is the reason there are so many tired and lonely women, so many fatherless children, and so few men around. We’ve taken away the dream’s of a man’s heart and told him to play the man. As C. S. Lewis said, "We castrate the gelding and bid him be fruitful."

John Eldredge, Wild at Heart


Respectable Sins

The sin of judgmentalism is one of the most subtle of our “respectable” sins because it is often practiced under the guise of being zealous for what is right. It’s obvious that within our conservative evangelical circles there are myriads of opinions on everything from theology to conduct to lifestyle and politics. Not only are there multiple opinions but we usually assume our opinion is correct. That’s where our trouble with judgmentalism begins. We equate our opinions with truth. (p. 141)

Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins


God's Sovereignty

"No plan of God's can be thwarted; when He acts, no one can reverse it; no one can hold back His hand or bring Him to account for His actions. God does as He pleases, only as He pleases, and works out every event to bring about the accomplishment of His will. Such a bare unqualified statement of the sovereignty of God would terrify us if that were all we knew about God. But God is not only sovereign, He is perfect in love and infinite in wisdom."

Jerry Bridges, Trusting God