What came first? The desire to sin or the opportunity?

When a Christian falls into gross immorality, the question arises: What came first: the desire to sin or the opportunity?

From what I’ve seen and heard of fallen pastors it’s almost always the desire to sin that comes first. It’s not that they were walking closely with the Lord, keeping their hearts and minds holy, mortifying their lusts, etc., and suddenly an opportunity for sex just came out of nowhere and they fell into it almost “accidentally.” In fact, I’ve never heard of such a scenario.

No, instead the man has allowed his imagination to stray, he’s begun to entertain fantasies about certain women, he’s comparing his wife unfavorably with then, and he’s maybe even started saying and doing certain things to attract them.

When that desire to sin is allowed to fester, it’s almost guaranteed that the devil will arrange for some opportunity to arise that the man is already primed for. The desire he has entertained has made him highly flammable and it only takes a small spark of opportunity for his whole life to go up in flames (and many others in his and her family with him).

The critical lesson is that if we crucify the desire, God will almost always shield us from the opportunity. And even if God may permit the devil to throw a spark of opportunity our way, there’s nothing in the heart that will easily catch fire.

However, if we entertain and enjoy the desire to sin, God may permit the opportunity to sin to coincide. Look around you, the church is full of the charred remains of such catastrophic infernos.


Check Out

Blogs

When the Pastor Has an Affair | ThomRainer.com
Thom Rainer shares some lessons from churches that have gone through this tragic time. Sadly this article is frequently needed these days. The areas I see churches failing in most are #3 & 5.

Pastors’ Joys and Struggles With Family Life | Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media
In the light of the above it’s good to read this:

A whopping 70 percent of U.S. pastors said their marriage relationship was ‘excellent,’ while 26 percent described it as ‘good.’ In the overall population, less than half of U.S. adults (46 percent) ranked their marriage relationship as ‘excellent,’ while 35 percent described it as ‘good.’

Report: Global Spike In Cohabitation Is Destabilizing Children’s Lives | Holly Scheer, The Federalist
“This study firmly shows that across the world marriage confers the best chances for stability for children. Yet adults are increasingly choosing not to provide their kids that optimal environment.”

The Five Tests of False Doctrine | Tim Challies
“In summary, true doctrine (content) originates with God (origin), is grounded in the Bible (authority), and agrees with the whole of Scripture (consistency). Because such doctrine is sound (quality), it is healthy (benefit), and profitable (value) for us, and we are responsible for holding it (responsibility). False doctrine (content) originates with man (origin), is not grounded in the Bible (authority), and contradicts portions of Scripture (consistency). Because such doctrine is unsound (quality), it is unhealthy (benefit) and unprofitable (value) for us, and we are responsible for rejecting it (responsibility).”

15 Reasons Our Churches Are Less Evangelistic Today | Thom Rainer, LifeWay Pastors
“I conducted an unscientific Twitter poll to see what church leaders and church members thought of this trend. My specific question was: ‘Why do you think many churches aren’t as evangelistic as they once were?’”

What Happened When I Forced Myself To Wake Up At 5 A.M. Every Day For A Month | Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company
Some informative and practical sleep science in here.

New Book

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.


Work and Our Labor in the Lord by James M. Hamilton Jr.

Kindle Deals


Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson ($0.99)


Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds by Chris Brauns ($2.99)


Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts by Robert D. Jones ($2.99)

Video

Crooked cop pairs up with man he framed


My New Motto: To the End

As prominent pastors continue to fall left, right, and center, I’ve been thinking a lot about the verse: “He who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13). “To the end” are the words that haunt and challenge me. “To the end” is all that matters. If I don’t make it “to the end,” better never to have begun.

I don’t believe this is an unhealthy focus or fear. Even the Apostle Paul said: “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27).

I think of the millions of unknown Christians who live unheralded lives of unimpeachable integrity and die beautifully in faith. Then I think of well-known pastors who fall into gross sin and bring dishonor upon the cause of Christ.

Better live unknown and die in faith, than live well-known and die in disgrace.

My new motto for the rest of my days: “To the end. To the end. To the end.”


Check out

Blogs

How I Gleaned Hope from the Darkest Psalm
“I’m so grateful Psalm 88 is included in Scripture. It reminds me that I can cry out to God with a broken heart and that he hears me—no matter how weak my prayers. It directs me to focus on the truth of who God is, for even in the darkest night, his grace still shines. And when it seems as though darkness is my only friend, I can remember Jesus Christ, who faced the darkness of the grave so that I could be called a friend of God. ”

Did Old Testament Men Treat Their Wives Like Property?
“The sense I am left with after reading the Bible as a whole is that men loved and appreciated their wives, just as they do today”

Helping those who struggle with anxiety
“When people struggle with anxiety, they need to address their physical needs as well. Sometimes this will mean talking to a doctor or other medical professional about their anxiety and receiving medical treatment. There’s no shame in needing help. If anxiety keeps them from fulfilling normal daily tasks, they need to get that help.”

10 Suggestions for the Wannabe Writer
“How can I become an author?” Start with this article.

Stories of Suicide and the Faith Community
This article on suicide and the black community has good counsel for all churches:

Establish an understanding of what mental illness and mood disorders really are. Consider establishing resources right there in your church, including in-house training for staff, informational videos and pamphlets for parishioners. Invite speakers who have survived mental illness to come in and speak to members of the congregation. Consider preaching sermons on mental illness and mood disorders. Organize events centered around mental health Provide resources that will connect those in need with the right programs and medical professionals.

The Sin of the Boring Sermon

Of Pastors and Politics

David Powlison on Prayer and Counseling

Kindle Books

Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love by Ed Welch $3.99.

The Pastor and Counseling: The Basics of Shepherding Members in Need $3.99.


Digital Detox Round-up

We start with a general article on How Much Entertainment Is Too Much? Tim Challies offers some guidance on how to strike the balance.

Entertainment is a good gift of God, designed to refresh us from the long labor gone by and to renew us for the long labor ahead. As Christians we do well to pursue it. We do well to create new forms of it, to invite others to participate in it with us. But always we must remember what J.R. Miller says so well: “Amusement is not an end, but a means. It is not life’s object, but a help along the way. It is not the goal, but the cool bower, or the bubbling spring on the stiff, steep mountain-side.”

The Gospel and Social Media Part 3 | For The Church (Part 1 and Part 2)
This article emphasizes some of the Gospel benefits of social media:

Though the negatives of social media seem to justify abstaining from using it (and for some, it should) there are some gospel positives that come along with our virtual societies. If social media users can press into these realities while straying from some of the pitfalls, social media can actually act as a gospel well we should drink from often.

A Spiritual IT Policy
Good tips on how to prune back our use of Apps, social media, podcasts, etc.

7 Questions to Ask Before Posting about Politics on Social Media
My own policy is  mostly “Don’t.” but if you want something more sophisticated, here are some good questions to run through before hitting “share.”

Facebook Dead At 12, A Victim Of 2016
Bethany Mandel writes an obituary for Facebook:

Since the end of the 2016 election, and especially since it resulted in the victory of Donald J. Trump as president, Facebook has become utterly intolerable. I took the application off my phone when I realized, a few days after the election, that I felt angry every time I scrolled through my newsfeed, and that this sour mood was affecting how I spoke with my co-workers, who happen to be my children (I’m a stay-at-home mother by profession). Deleting the application made me feel more disconnected from these online friends from all walks of my life, but also happier and more calm.

I’m 15 and Snapchat makes me feel awful about myself
Am I glad I’m not fifteen!

7 Tips to Stop Your Phone from Interrupting Your Life | Time Management Ninja
If you want to get more work done, you need to remember that your phone is a tool that is meant to help you, not constantly interrupt your day.

  1. Don’t Answer the Phone When You are Busy.
  2. Turn Your Phone Off.
  3. Use Do Not Disturb Mode.
  4. Let it Go to Voicemail.
  5. Block Unwanted Callers.
  6. Respond with a Text.
  7. Only Answer Callers That You Know.

Why Our Son Doesn’t Have a Smartphone | TGC
This is the article all teens have been hiding from their parents all week.

A Parable on the Reading of Blogs | A Small Work
Good motivation to prioritize books over blogs.

Thirty Seconds Alone with God | Desiring God
Tony Reinke analyzes the changes in our use of digital technology between 2015 and 2016. The clearest finding is “that our mobile devices, our tablets, and especially our smartphones are filling in more and more of life’s little gaps with perfectly sized bits of consumable media.” He warns us: “The worst of our compulsive social media habits in the empty spaces of our lives is corroding our prayer lives.”

More Digital Detox Resources.


Check Out

Blogs

How the U.S. Marines Encourage Service-Based Leadership | Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch, Harvard Business Review
“If managers want to get the most out of every team member, they can adopt many of the Marine Corps’s service-based leadership practices. Understanding the concept isn’t enough; they must overcome the three common barriers that prevent managers from putting the needs of their employees first: awareness, time, and unhealthy competition.”

Encouragement for Discouraged Pastors | Jay Sanders, LifeWay Pastors
Jay’s answer to discouragement? “Cut the grass!” It’s not as crazy as it sounds.

Stott’s Simple—Yet Surprising—Productivity Secret | Kevin Halloran, For The Church
“Take a quiet day once a month. Go away into the country, if you can, where you can be sure of being undisturbed. Stand back, look ahead, and consider where you are going. Allow yourself to be drawn up into the mind and perspective of God. Try to see things as he sees them. Relax!”

Pastors and Retirement Stewardship | Chris Cagle, Retirement Stewardship
“The same powerful forces that are at work and that make planning and preparing for retirement necessary for you and me are just as important to pastors. Things such as increased longevity, the need for income for life, taxes, inflation, the uncertainty of investments, and escalating healthcare costs, are all in play.”

New Book

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.


Sons in the Son: The Riches and Reach of Adoption in Christ by David B. Garner

Kindle Deals


Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns by D. A. Carson ($3.99)


The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision by Gerald Hiestand and Todd A. Wilson ($3.99)


God in the White House: A History: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush by Randall Balmer ($1.99)