Wow, I have been absolutely terrible about posting. Where has the time gone? Well my August Peru trip was amazing. God has opened so many doors since then that I am just trying to keep up and stay out of His way. (more to come on that soon.)
I am returning to Peru earlier this year. Actually the trip is in 22 DAYS!!! Holy cow! I am super psyched about what is happening in the villages of Tapacocha, Cotaporacco and Allpacocha. The GOD certainly is alive and at work there. we have seen much growth physically and spiritually there. We believe our trip this year will be a little different than in the past as it will involve more equipping and discipling those believers already there. When we left in August they were so fired up for the Lord I can’t wait to see what He has done since our last visit. Please keep our team in prayer and I will try to keep you posted about new developments and the actual trip once we return. Thank you and God bless.
Yesterday I was blessed with the privilege of giving my daughter away in marriage. I don’t really like that phrase though. It sounds so “end of the story.” It’s more like gaining a new son. Actually, it’s the beginning of a whole new story and Jenni and I not only got to be part of the story and help launch it but now we get front row seats to watch the rest of it unfold and we now have a new son to enjoy and share life with.
It was also awesome to see a group of young people, in Marissa, Casey and their friends, that have Christ at the center of their lives. I am confident that Marissa and Casey are well grounded in Him which made this weekend much easier for me but as always I do have a few words to pass on to them and all others that are getting married or already married.
Love God and love each other. Keep Christ at the center always. With His example of unconditional love as your focus you can reflect that on each other. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)
Treat love as a verb. We often treat love as an emotion instead of an action. Christ showed us His love with actions and we need to follow that example. Not for reciprocation or for “love points” but because, as spouses, it’s what we have committed to by joining together in a covenant marriage. and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2 NIV)
Always have Christ centered friends you can turn to. Also, give them permission to call you out when they need to and ask them to lift you up when you need it. Marriage is tough at times and you need friends that understand what your marriage means to you, even when you don’t want may not want to hear it. Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20 NIV)
Laugh! At yourself, at each other, at life. Don’t forget to laugh because nothing should be as serious as we make it out to be. a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, (Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV)
Cry. When you need to, lean into Christ and lean into each other and cry. You will find comfort in the arms of Him and your spouse. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. (Luke 6:21 NIV)
Forgive often. Look at what Jesus has forgiven us for… everything! We need to follow that example with our spouses and forgive quick and often. Don’t confuse this with trust. Trust may be broken and it may take time to rebuild, but forgiveness should happen immediately. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NIV)
Communicate!! All of things listed above require communication. I have sat with couples that thought they were at the end but once we reestablished some communication and they started verbalizing some of their issues things started working better. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19, 20 NIV)
I can say from experience, I did not follow this path for the first 17 years of my marriage and I nearly destroyed it. If I had not gotten in line with the above things and what God designed marriage to be I may not have had the blessing I had yesterday. My daughter may not have been where she is now either. I’m not saying it’s easy or that I’m on it all the time but It’s a lot easier than the previous way (my way).
I thank God for His direction and instruction for my marriage. I thank Him for my wife and daughter for their patience with me and now I thank Him for my new son.
August 23rd – 30th 2013, I will be returning to Peru. I am so excited to be making this trip again. Last years trip changed my life forever and I can’t wait to see where God will lead our team this time, not just during the trip but afterwards too.
Once again, I have already seen Him at work all around me in my life and the other team members lives as well. Many people have stepped forward to pray for us all and to help out financially. It is always so amazing to see The Lord at work in people.
I am also excited to be working through a new program that will help us process and work through what God puts on our hearts with this trip. It is called “The Next Mile: Short Term Missions for the Long Haul.” You can check it out at http://www.thenextmile.org The program offers practical tools and training for Short-Term Mission experiences with emphasis on Post-Ministry Follow-Through.
I love their use of the phrase “Follow-Through” instead of follow-up. Follow-up implies a one time thing while follow-through is an ongoing, continuous thing.
If you or someone you know is planning any kind of short-term mission trip I highly recommend “The Next Mile” as part of their preparation before and during the trip but especially for after. As I have worked through the material I keep wishing I had discovered it last year to better help me process after my return but I guess He has His reasons for everything.
Thank you all again for your continued support financially and most important spiritually.
If you would like more information about our Peru mission trip or would like to see about joining us next year please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A hero is defined as:
1. a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities.
2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal.
I’d like you to meet one of my heroes. Her name is Marissa, she is my 20 year old daughter. Last weekend she graduated from Anderson University. She acquired a four year degree in three years. She accomplished this by taking college courses during high school and working very hard to finish early.
She’s my hero because when I was in high school I didn’t tend to focus any further ahead than the next party. I certainly had no ambition or drive to go to college let alone finish early. While I tested as gifted, just like she did, I chose to make poor decisions and just eke by. She graduated high school with a 3.87 gpa and graduated college with honors, Magna Cum Laude, with a 3.875 gpa.
She is my hero because she keeps her eye on Jesus. I didn’t know Him or care to know Him at her age. I gave my life to The Lord at the age of 36. Up to that point I was pretty much only concerned about me.
She is my hero because she has a clue what she is going to do with her life career-wise. She has a degree in communications and wants to work in the public relations field. I joined the Army at 17 because I was clueless and had no way of getting into college at that point. After 6 years of that I became a carpenter for 5 years before figuring out what I was going to be when I grew up and settled into a career in massage therapy at the age of 28.
She is my hero for being true to her beliefs and saving herself for her future husband whom she will be marrying July 28th. Me? Well I didn’t wait, ’nuff said. This decision made for a lot of turmoil and trouble in my marriage. Problems I thank God she and her husband will not have to face.
She is my hero because she has already been figuring out how to be a wife to her husband. She has read about the “5 Love Languages” and sees them as an important part of her future marriage. I did not do this. I caused her amazing mother a lot of grief and heartache in the first seventeen and a half years of our marriage.
She is my hero because she is is fun to be around and knows how to have fun in a safe, clean, moral way. Rather than seeking the drunken often vulgar party lifestyle I chose to live in my earlier years, she has chosen what I consider a better path.
She is my hero because she doesn’t have a smug, superior or holier than thou attitude. Even when those she knows, loves and cares for, like my past self and others her own age, are making poor choices and running headlong in the wrong direction. She exhibits a Christ like love for others instead.
Now of course she’s not perfect. I know that and I’m not trying to paint her out to be. But I truly admire her faith, her character, her tenacity, her drive, her determination. Also her obedience, her ambition, her morals. While I may be a bit biased it is my opinion that she “has heroic qualities.” I love her dearly and she is my hero.
I think its sad sometimes that when someone makes a commitment to follow Christ that we don’t offer them a class in how to pray. It may seem too basic or simple but I think it’s an important piece of our spiritual maturity that is often overlooked or just assumed.
Knowing how to pray is not that easy sometimes. It can be intimidating, daunting, scary… “what if I say something dumb… wrong… unbiblical…” In Luke, chapter 11, the disciples asked Jesus “Lord, teach us to pray…” He then gave them what we know as the Lord’s Prayer. But before we get to that in Matthew 6:5-8 he gives a little more pre-instruction.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Basically, what He is saying here is we need to have the right mind-set or heart-set not only for what we are praying for but how and why we are praying. Don’t be boastful or prideful in our prayers proclaiming our great works or sinlessness so that others can see how holy we are. The only one that could even claim this was Jesus and even He did not pray that way. So, prepare yourself or your heart for prayer.
As we’ll see, it’s not so much the words spoken as the the motivation for speaking them. There are no magic words. You also don’t have to use big confusing words or King James English. You don’t have to use your “prayer voice.” Just pray, from the heart.
Jesus then says: “This, then, is how you should pray:” He doesn’t say word for word but “HOW” as in here is a model for you to design your prayers around.
“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” -Luke 11:2-4 KJV
So let’s break this down.
“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by thy name…” This set the stage for us. We first need to proclaim and acknowledge God’s rightful place. Above all else He is first and foremost. Hallowed means to honor as holy or consider sacred.
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” Here’s where things get a little tough for us. Before we even ask anything we have to realize God has a plan that is bigger than all of us and that plan has a direction. What this really means is no matter what I pray for, not my will but Your will be done. That’s a hard one to say and mean. Because God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want them answered. Don’t misunderstand me here, He always answers prayers. His answers are either yes, no or wait. Now, of course, yes is the easy one I’m not even going to talk about that. No, that one’s certainly hard to take. We want that illness to go away, we want people healed, hurts mended, problems fixed but that just might not be God’s will. In the end, He knows what is best and how things should and will work out so in order for His will to be done sometimes the answer has to be no. And wait? well that one certainly stinks too but it all happens in His timing not ours. Gods will comes before our want.
“Give us day by day our daily bread.” Ok, finally the good stuff! The “gimmes.” We usually get this one in the wrong order. We want to say “Father in heaven, gimme my daily bread…” but our wants need to take their proper place because remember “Thy will be done…” not “my will be done…” Notice too He says “day by day” or sometimes it’s “this day” Keep it simple, “Lord, here’s what’s on my heart right now…” Here’s a little hint though, He already knows what weighs heavy on our hearts I think sometimes He just wants us to say it so that we realize it too. Stating it sometimes makes it more real for us. I know I have a tendency to kind of sweep things under the rug or ignore the elephant in the room. So, “here is what I’m asking, Lord”
“And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.” Now the first part here is pretty obvious the second part is yet another thing we often forget. We are to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. That’s a tough one to remember but probably more important than asking His forgiveness for sins He has already forgiven by dying on the cross for us in the first place.
“And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” God will not lead us into temptation as we commonly think of it. The word temptation can also mean trial or affliction and we will be met with trials and sometimes afflictions along the way and we need to pray for protection against them or the strength to avoid temptations/trials/afflictions. A strength that can only come from God. And through this strength we will be delivered from the evil that can drag us into embracing that temptation.
So, there we go. Keep this in mind when you pray as a model for what, when and how to say it and you may find more focus in your prayer life. I feel like I have.
Ok, here’s the thing, I hate to do what I am about to do. I know that’s a weird way to open a post but here it is.
I’m going back to Peru this year, August 17th – 24th. Going again really wasn’t a hard decision. When it comes down to it, Jesus laid out a pretty simple plan for us, didn’t He? Love God, love others. Nope, deciding to go was easy. Paying for it however, does present a bit of a challenge.
(Here comes the part I hate) I am seeking financial support to fund this trip. The Ridge Church is so committed to sending people on mission that they are paying up to 50% of the cost, for members, through their missions fund. Those of us going are responsible for the other 50% which comes to around $1,200. The truth is that I don’t like the idea of asking anyone for anything, especially money. I also feel weird sending out letters and posts pretending this is just the latest in a long chain of correspondence we’ve kept up oh these many years. But, I also don’t happen to have a spare $1,200 dollars just lying around.
Last year I went on this same trip. You can read about it here and here. At that time a lot of people were probably thinking “Rick is going on a mission trip? Really? Rick Phillips?!?” That’s a completely fair thought. Honestly, I kept thinking the same thing. Then I went and God really changed my life through the experience.
I know I’m not the first person people think of when it comes to loving on others. Plus, just like everyone else, I’m busy. My life is really intense right now and this is just not a good time to go on a mission trip. But I’m not sure if there is ever a “good time” to go on a mission trip. And I could probably come up with a list of reasons why I shouldn’t go, but I keep coming back to the one reason I should – Love God, love others.
Since my experience last year, I’ve been trying to live my life more “on mission”. I mean it’s easy to pray for people, but to really love the people who you live with, work with and encounter everyday is a challenge. This trip helped me to experience this in action, to see things more clearly and to see Christ’s love in action more clearly. This past year I’ve been trying to see my life as a mission field, not just that trip. And it’s been cool to see the way God has used this new approach to everything from the way I tip at restaurants to the way I treat people in traffic. But now, it’s time to take another leap of faith and go back.
So this is where you come in. Instead of selling my plasma 87 times, I’ve decided to ask for something I don’t usually ask for, money from people I don’t often write or talk to. It would be a real blessing if you could help financially support me on this mission trip. A little, a lot, any would be great. You can do this electronically through the options in the right hand column of this blog or by check made out to Rick Phillips sent to : 4998 Clayton Rd. Brookville, OH 45309. And if you want to know more about the trip, please let me know and maybe we can have lunch and discuss it (you may have to cut me off though, I have a tendency to go on about it.)
The one thing I have no problem asking for is for your prayers. Whether you can give or not I would truly appreciate it if you would pray about the trip. Not just for me, but for the others that will be going and for those we will be reaching out to. As much as God loves mission trips, other people don’t. There will be a whole host of obstacles that pop up and entangle themselves around our ankles as we prepare to go love the people of Peru. And knowing that you are praying would mean more than any and all of the financial support in the world.
Thanks for reading this rambling post, God bless you.
Hello, my name is Brianne and I cancelled my Compassion sponsorship.
File that tidbit right under, the thing I didn’t want any of my co-workers to know. And definitely something I didn’t want you to know.
But I am currently suspended in the air, wrapped up in a metal vessel, headed back to a country that haunts me. Peru.
Peru, the first country I visited outside of the United States. Peru, my first overseas mission trip. Peru, the first place I saw the beach.
The country I sponsored my first Compassion child.
I don’t live in the age when jazz is on its rise, a hot scene. Or when the industry is booming.
I live in the “social injustice” age.
When I was in college poverty, social injustice, and the depravity of the world was hot. It was burn-your-heart hot.
Most of my friends were involved in missions work and worked to bring awareness to our campus.
When I was in college the question wasn’t,
“What company do you want to work for when you graduate?”
“What mission field are you going to move to?”
I think technology had a huge role in this. All of a sudden Africa, Asia and South America weren’t a faraway land. It had people, and we saw their pictures. It had statistics, and we could look them up.
It wasn’t a world away, it was one Hotwire or Cheap Tickets purchase away.
When I was in college, I wanted to get out. I wanted to go help. I wanted to be the solution. Not the ignorance. Not the problem.
Amidst this I went on a mission trip to Peru. A rip-my-heart-out trip, an “I don’t think I ever cried on that trip, never, not even after I came back home because I was afraid I’d never stop crying” kind of trip.
And then I went to a conference and heard about Compassion.
I marched myself directly to a table after I heard a Compassion Leadership Development Student speak. I looked and looked and looked at the pictures and there she was. A girl from Peru. That day I became her sponsor.
I was told that I could write her letters and she would write me too. I was told she would know she now has a sponsor. Shortly after the conference I received materials from Compassion about their program and their financial integrity.
Quickly, too quickly, I forgot about what that Compassion student said. I was sure that it was not truly her writing me letters. A girl in poverty? Writing me?
And Compassion somehow keeps track of that? And gets the letter to me? And then takes the time to process and translate my letter and get it to her? Um, right. But thanks for the warm fuzzies.
A few years later I decided to cancel my sponsorship.
The problem with the burn I experienced from all the social injustice hype in college was that I only let it burn me, not brand me.
After awhile I was all of a sudden graduating college. I was going to be dropped from health insurance. Oh my gosh. I needed to pay for health insurance. And then there was the real growing up.
Several of my friends did go to the mission field. But I didn’t feel that pull anymore. I needed to get a job. I needed to pay bills. I needed health insurance.
And then one day I realized I didn’t believe in what Compassion was doing. I never researched the ministry. I never read the materials they sent me. I barely even read the letters from my sponsored child.
So, I cancelled. Surely, she wouldn’t know. I mean, she didn’t even know I existed. Right?
Years later, God did call me to minister to the poor in Thailand. And then He called me to work at Compassion.
I remember when I started working here thinking, “And now I will see the underbelly of a ministry that so many people I know support.”
I’ve almost been here for five years. I now have two sponsored children. I believe in what Compassion does. I know my sponsored children know my name. And I know they read my letters.
Now, I’m branded. I’m not branded by hype or an emerging movement. I am not even branded by Compassion. I am branded by the heart of God.
He showed me the beat of His heart. He showed me that He is close to the poor. I want to be close to Him. I want to be close to whatever it is that He is close to – even if it means being in the throes of too many, “will I ever stop crying? It’s all so much to take in” sessions.
The problem is, not everyone reads the mail they receive. Or looks up information on the ministry they support.
In fact, once in a marketing meeting I was asked,
“What can we do to really bring the reality of Compassion’s ministry to the hearts of people?”
I thought and thought about it and I could only respond with two answers. It wasn’t sending more mail. It wasn’t pushing people to get online and research us. It was either to hire everyone to work at Compassion (which is how my Compassion conversion happened) or to take every sponsor to the field. That was it.
Thankfully, in a room I wasn’t in, a few brilliant people decided that we do need to take people on trips. Trips that people who can’t go on trips could follow. And thus the birth of Compassion blog trips. You might not actually get to board the plane and walk through the villages but it is so very close.
When you follow a blog trip you see through the eyes of several different bloggers and you read what they have to say about Compassion’s ministry.
They are in the field asking the hard questions, going through filing cabinets, asking about how finances are handled. They are faithfully conveying, the best they can, about what this thing called Compassion is and where God is in all of it.
Have you cancelled your sponsorship? Do you want to? Or have you thought about it? Do you have questions about letter writing, financial integrity, and what people without a filter have to say as they put Compassion under a microscope? Then follow them.
In fact, you can follow them this week. I know they’ll be tackling some of these questions in Peru.
If you are a sponsor, do you remember why you’re a sponsor? Are you branded by God and His heart for the poor?
Your heart for the poor can only carry you so far. My heart for the poor led me to cancel a sponsorship.
I have often heard the following statements, or something similar: “The church should provide for others, the church should help the poor and unfortunate, the church should be a safe haven for others, the church should teach about God’s word, the church needs to welcome people, the church needs to love people.” I’m sure you have a list of your own and have heard many other ideas of what the church should do. I have to say I COULDN’T AGREE MORE to most of these.
The problem lies in the definition of church. So here’s a little pop-quiz. I know I didn’t give you time to study, sorry. From the definitions of church below, taken from dictionary.com which would Jesus say is the correct answer:
a.) A building for public Christian worship.
b.) Public worship of God or a religious service in such a building: to attend church regularly.
c.) The clerical profession or calling: After much study and contemplation, he was prepared to enter the church.
d.) The church is a body of believers.
Now let’s keep in mind that dictionary.com or anything else on the internet are not the best way to gather knowledge however this seems to be where we learn from these days. This information is a representation of what is being taught or what has already been learned in the world today. The dictionary people don’t just make this stuff up as they see fit. They poll people and research with “experts” to determine the best definition(s) possible. So, where did they get this from? US. We (followers of Christ) have allowed these definitions to creep in and define us. We have taken on these views and definitions of church. We have twisted and perverted church into something it is not supposed to be.
Before we go any further, let me be clear. I’m not talking about the way we worship on Sundays or any other time your body chooses to worship. That is not church. Church is not a “DO”. Church is a “BE”. We should BE church.
By the way, if you didn’t catch it yet d.) should have been the correct answer. A church is a body of believers. Yes, it’s that simple. Now a body is designed for motion or activity. What happens to a sedentary body? It gets fat and it grows weak. A body that is not doing what it is designed for eventually becomes ineffective.
So where do you fit here? Do you “DO” church on the weekends or when its convenient or are you the hands and feet of Jesus? Christ commands and commissions us in Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” While the Bible never specifically says we are to be “hands and feet” it does does call us (followers of Christ, the church) to go out and preach the gospel and with the words “go into” comes action… and with action we use our hands and feet. If our “body” is in motion it is doing what it was designed to do.
So with the same thinking where does your “church” fall? Does your church “go into the world”? Does it “GO” anywhere other than into a building at the designated times of worship? Well if not you should leave, right? Well, don’t start packing your bags just yet. Remember we’re using the Biblical definition of church. So if you are a part of this body of believers, aren’t you in part responsible for it’s actions? I don’t mean responsible as in to blame for its inaction but responsible to the body to be a part of and facilitate action. The body is at fault, right? You are a part of the body, right? It starts with you. Please, please, please don’t just leave the church/body of which you are a part. See if you, as part of that body can enact change, if it needs to happen. Find other parts of your body to help out. Work together to figure out how to carry this out. If you start this others will come along, trust me. Now if you meet resistance from within and just can’t move things in the direction of Christ then and only then should you consider a move. Just because things aren’t happening your way is not a good reason to leave a body either. If there is movement and momentum and it is in the direction of Jesus, then join in and be a part.
You need to answer the call God has sent to you. What is the burden on your heart? How can you be an effective part of an effective body?
Well, first and foremost, prayer. You need to pray about what your particular piece of God’s “mission” is. Second, carry it out to the best of your ability. Third, pray more. Pray that God will work in you and through you, that He will use you beyond what you are capable of and into the realm of what He is capable of. I believe the results will be amazing.
Want to learn more about GOing with the body (The Ridge) that I belong to? Contact me at email@example.com. Want to learn more about starting a movement with your own body? Contact me. I’d love to help you figure it out and get started. Also, check out “Barefoot Church” by Brandon Hatmaker and “Missional Moves” by Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder. Two awesome resources for inspiration and motivation. These two books have rock my world and pour gasoline on the fire God ignited in me this year.
I’ve had people ask me about Compassion International so I thought I’d take a moment to help you better understand what it is and what you can do to help.
- DON’T STOP READING YET!!
I’m not asking for money, only a little of your time. Below are some of the common questions and answers from the Compassion International FAQ web page. Before you read on though I’m asking one simple request of you. During the month of September (and longer if you choose) take a moment each day to go to the Compassion International website select one or more children and just pray for them. It may seem like a simple request but it is so important. I understand not everyone can afford to sponsor a child. But, everyone can afford to add a minute or two each day to their prayer time. Of course, please pray that someone would be called to sponsor the children you select but more importantly, pray for the salvation and safety of them and their families. Pray for their education especially in God’s Word. Also, pray for those that are blessed with the ability to give financially and support a child, because not all of us are gifted in that way. Pray that they would be faithful and obedient and cheerful. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). That’s all I ask, simply pray… “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NIV)
Here’s the FAQ’s:
What is Compassion International?
Compassion International is a Christian child development organization dedicated to releasing children from poverty. Our ministry is twofold: We work through local churches to provide child development programs to deliver children from economic, physical, social and spiritual poverty, enabling them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. And we speak out for children in poverty – informing, motivating and equipping others to become advocates for children.
How does Compassion work?
The hallmark of Compassion’s work is one-to-one child sponsorship. A sponsor is someone who has made the decision to personally invest in the life of a child in need. Through sponsorship, children are able to participate in a church-based program that offers life-changing benefits that range from educational opportunities to health care.
How much does it cost to sponsor a child through Compassion?
Sponsoring a child costs $38 a month. It’s a significant commitment, but the incredible difference it makes in the life of a child is invaluable.
Thank you for your time and God bless.
During this trip God basically stretched my heart over 4000 miles from here to just outside of Lima, Peru to a couple of small villages named Tapacocha and Cotaparaco. We had the opportunity to meet a lot of children and adults. It was such an amazing time in which I felt closer to Christ than anytime in my walk so far. It stretched me beyond my comfort zone and opened my eyes to so many things. One of which is a realization that I’m doing a terrible job of sharing the gospel message right here, in my own backyard and that’s got to change. I believe God has and is using this trip to really speak to me about that and while I’m scared about where that may lead me, I’m extremely excited about it too.
We spent a lot of time in the villages trying to build relationships, getting to know people and just sharing the love of Christ with them. We chose some of our favorite Bible stories and kind of tied them together with our own testimony. This is such a great way to present the gospel but in a personalized kind of away that I think people may understand a little bit better and relate too more personally.
I chose the story of Saul when he was on the road to Damascus and the Lord just grabbed hold of him and changed his life. He took him from a man who hated and murdered Christians to a great example of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ in the man he became in Paul. Now, I don’t claim to be one of the greatest followers of Christ by any means but I was a lot like Saul and the Lord came to me and turned my life in a 180. He stopped me from persecuting and hating others by showing me the love that he had for me even though I was who I was. I also told them that like Paul I too was going out into the world to share Christ’s message and love. But this really got me thinking and I realized that I’m not doing that right here, or at least not nearly enough. I traveled 4000 miles and 14,000 plus feet above sea level up the Andes mountains to share with complete strangers and I’m not doing it right here with people that I can continue to have a long-lasting relationship with. People that I could really help, day in and day out in their walk.
I do have every intention of going back to Peru, maybe on a regular basis. The Lord has certainly softened my heart for the people there. But He has used this experience to teach me so much about myself and about Him and His grace, love and provision that feel even more compelled to continue His commission here, now.
We also met some great new friends and brothers and sisters in Christ from Columbus that led our trip. One of these new friends told me as the plane landed “we can’t forget there is a huge mission field right here in our very own backyard and we need to answer that call. We need to reach out to those people just as much as any other and spread God’s word with them too.”
I think sometimes it’s easier to use an interpreter and talk to a complete stranger about Jesus because you don’t fear possible rejection or the ridicule. While they may reject what you’re telling them about Jesus, typically people in the South American, warm climate culture, are more polite than the people we run into here. They will generally listen, thank you and move on. While people from the U.S. will challenge you, be rude or even hateful. But I think it’s more our own pride or ego that get in the way then. Maybe we fear that we won’t fit in or that we won’t know enough to answer the questions or challenges they give us. I think that often keeps us from really talking about Christ with others. The fear just freezes us up which is really crazy when you think about it. Often times these are people that we would share the most intimate details of our life with and here we are finding it hard to share one of the most important things in the world to us which is the gift God has given us through his son Jesus Christ.
Well I’m tired of being afraid or just too lazy to share the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I’m done hiding behind excuses of why I can’t or won’t or should share with others. God has really expressed to me that I need to be more bold in my faith. I want to keep to keep the momentum of that going in my life and so that’s why I’ve chosen to step out into some new ministry areas at our church and personally. I’ve seen a need for a long time and it just hasn’t been filled and I feel like God is really calling me to step up and lead the way for others to catch this vision He has for us all in being bold and sharing our faith. It’s my prayer that he will show me how he would have me do that and it’s also my prayer that I would be obedient and in his leading in his teaching. I’m super excited and I’m just blown away and so moved by but what he’s done and is doing in my life. He is once again taking me and reshaping me into who he wants me to be. So, over the next couple weeks I am going to prayerfully work this thing out and see where it leads, so keep an eye out for more information and more the story of how God is using me now and using me next.
Lord, I give myself up to You as a living sacrifice to be used, as You see fit.
I just read a great post at http://marriedspice.com. I believe it is dead on and exposes a deeper look into the dangers of sliding into the trap of pornography. This is an ever-growing problem that is becoming more and more acceptable in our society. The article may be long but it is so informative. Please take the time to read and even re-read it.
Also, don’t fool yourselves, “looking isn’t cheating” is a load of crap. This is a major problem in the world today and is wrecking lives, marriages and families at an alarming rate.
This study is by Mark B. Kastleman. He is the author of the revolutionary book titled The Drug of the New Millennium- the Science of How Internet Pornography Radically Alters the Human Brain and Body.
You can find more information on his brain studies at http://markkastleman.com/
The Funnel of Sexual Arousal
The mindbody is persistent in its mission to seek to link information, experiences, and knowledge together, to achieve a “peak experience.” Sexual climax is one of the most intense “peak” experiences the mindbody can experience. And climax cannot take place without what is called the “narrowing process.”
Our mindbody is like a narrow landing strip–only one plane can set down at a time. For example, if you are in conversation with someone, and the T.V. is blaring in the background and children are screaming and playing outside, in order to clearly make out what the children are up to you must “let go” of the conversation first. Of course, if you do so, then the conversation becomes background.
Yes, there are those that can pull the “stunt” of performing multiple tasks, but the natural tendency of the mind is to focus on only one thing at a time. In fact, the mindbody craves a singular focus. Why? Because it is by way of a singular focus that it has the greatest access to all its own learning resources.
The mindbody assumes that its number one responsibility is to learn. It is there to acquire new experiences, learn from them, then turn them into habit so it can go on and focus on new tasks, habituate them-and the cycle continues. How does the mindbody access its highest ability to carry out this function? By a single focus-one plane at a time on the landing strip. The mindbody is a master of focus.
Sexual climax requires a “one plane on the landing strip” type focus in order to take place. As with any sexual activity, this focus by a man or woman as they move toward climax is legitimate and desirable in the appropriate setting. The following discussion of the “funnel of Sexual Arousal” and the “narrowing process” provides an explanation of sexual functionality without any implied moral commentary.
Narrowing Down the Funnel into the Tunnel of Sexual Climax
If sexual climax is one of the most intense, single-focus, peak experiences that the human mindbody can experience, but it can only take place through a “narrow focus,” how does the mindbody do this? In order to understand this process, consider the illustration below: (link–>) KastlemanFunnel
At the top of the funnel, we are in control of our thoughts, perspectives, beliefs, morals, etc. and keeping them in check in the “widest sense.” Keep in mind that women more naturally think at the top of the funnel much of the time. While on the other hand, men can narrow down to the bottom of the funnel very quickly and stay there for longer periods of time.
When a person “lets go” and moves from the top of the funnel, narrowing toward climax, everything at the “big picture” level of thought starts to fade away as the mindbody begins to narrowly focus on the attainment of a powerful peak experience. Our wide perspective and full mental faculties are not accessed again until after orgasm, when we emerge from the tunnel at the base of the funnel. This narrowing process is where the powerful differences between the male and female brain structure really manifest themselves.
The Male Brain in the Funnel
When a man or teenage boy uses pornography as the process to arrive at the peak experience of climax, the results are usually mind-boggling.
Remember, because of testosterone and the structure of the male brain, a man or boy can focus intensely on a very narrow subject for long periods of time. He also can block out all other thoughts and distractions.
Men typically do not think in terms of the big picture, but rather on the specific issues at hand. They tend to be more goal-oriented and can focus intensely on getting to the finish line, completing the project, winning the trophy, while blocking out all other thoughts not related to the end goal. This is not to suggest that a man cannot see things from a wide perspective. If he makes an effort to do so, he can see the big picture. But, given a specific task, goal, or purpose, he tends to narrow very rapidly and utilize a specific area of the brain on one hemisphere or the other.
What do you think happens when a man begins to focus on pornographic images with the intention or goal to achieve the peak experience of climax? The male mindbody races down the funnel and narrows so quickly that it is scarcely believable!
After climax and exiting the narrow opening at the base of the funnel, the male mindbody returns quickly to the wide part of the funnel.
With their senses restored, men often ask themselves after a porn-viewing session, “How could have I forgotten my wife and children, my religion, my convictions?“
How can a man, staring at pornography, with all of his focus on attaining the culminating peak-experience of climax, possibly be thinking about his wife and children at the same time? He can’t. Having descended into the narrow base of the funnel, he surrenders his ability to see the “big picture” and what ought to be most important to him.
As a man heads into the tunnel and “narrows” his mental consciousness, chemical and hormonal responses are triggered in the brain and body that would not be triggered if he stayed at the top of the funnel. When a man viewing pornography begins his descent into the tunnel that leads to climax, this narrowing leads to “switches” that are not accessible at the wide perspective level of thinking. Remember, the mindbody can only experience sexual climax on a “narrow landing strip.” Once he heads down the funnel to where the switches of arousal and climax focus are tripped, there is little hope of him being able to turn back.
[In a similar way, we counsel teenagers not to start down the funnel of sexual arousal in the first place, because they will reach a point where their bodies take over and rational thought is lost-along with their virtue.]
Comments from Male Porn Addicts About the Funnel
In gathering research for my book, I have conducted interviews both formal and casual with many men who have been or are addicted to Internet pornography. As soon as I show them the funnel illustration, it’s like a light going on. The standard comment is, “That’s exactly the way it is!”
Without exception, these men talk about how rapidly their focus and perspective narrows with Internet pornography. But the amazing and frightening thing is, the narrowing process usually began before they actually turned on their computer!
John, a man with a typical Internet porn addiction problem, said, “I would be going through a normal day and then suddenly I would get this urge to look at porn. Once the urge hit me, it was like everything around me became unimportant. All I could think about was getting to a computer. It was like I was being pulled by some powerful force. I would cancel meetings, or make up excuses, do anything necessary to get to the computer.”
“Once there, I blocked out everything else. I would spend hours looking at porn on the Internet. It was like I was in a cave and the rest of the world didn’t exist. These sessions always ended with masturbation, after which it was like I was suddenly coming out of a cave and seeing the world again. I remember being shocked when I would look at my watch and realize how long I was out of commission. It was almost like I didn’t know where I’d been-like waking up from a dream or something.”
With virtually everyone I spoke, it was the same story. They described being pulled or pushed down the funnel-almost as if its sides were greased and once they had begun their downward plunge, pulling up was nigh to impossible.
They all talked about being trapped in the narrow tunnel, glued to the images, riveted by desire, completely consumed, out of control.
They referred to everything around them as being blocked out, blurred or of little significance. And in every case they described the sensation of emerging from the narrow tunnel after masturbation and suddenly coming to their senses, stepping out of the dark, once more being aware of everything around them.
The desire to experience a sexual encounter and climax is triggered in the male very quickly because the brain narrows very quickly. The sexual stimulation of pornography floods directly into the male brain stem where higher reasoning is eliminated and automatic response or animal instinct takes over.
In Brain Sex, The Real Difference Between Men and Women, Anne Moir and David Jessel state the following:
Male lust is blind. High testosterone acting on the male brain increases the narrow focus and “single-minded” approach to the “object” of his desires. After orgasm, testosterone levels subside and the male brain starts to receive a wider input of information without the “narrowing” effect of larger amounts of testosterone present during arousal.
__ An Interesting Side Note__
It isn’t only pornography that pulls men into such a narrowing process. Since the beginning of time men and boys have enmeshed themselves in dangerous, foolish, careless and crazy things in the “narrow tunnel” at the base of the funnel. But instead of the peak experience being sexual climax, it is something else such as the thrill of danger, the heat of competition, the enticement of mischief.
How many times after pulling some really dumb or dangerous prank has a boy or man been asked, “What on earth were you thinking?” And the response has usually come, “I don’t know,” or “I just had the sudden urge to do it.“
And you know what? When you ask, “What on earth were you thinking,” you can already assume that they “weren’t thinking at all,” but were acting on instinct in the narrow passageway at the bottom of the funnel, in hot pursuit of a peak experience. With a narrow “male” focus on a single end goal, the wide-perspective and logical-reasoning mechanisms were completely blocked out.
Dedicate significant time and attention to studying and understanding the Funnel. It is the key to understanding the male porn addiction process. When women understand the narrowing process they usually begin to understand for the very first time, how their husband, son, brother, boyfriend, etc., can get so caught up in pornography and abandon values and loved ones. The funnel is also extremely valuable in helping pornography addicts finally understand “why” they lose all perspective and reason in the addictive process.
The Female Brain and the Funnel
How does the female brain operate in the funnel of sexual arousal? With every woman I spoke to about this issue, including those who were presently involved with Internet porn and cybersex chat rooms, the response was universal: Yes, a woman does slip and slide down the funnel, but with some very important differences:
None of the women indicated that they had ever been pulled uncontrollably down the funnel with no way to stop. Each of them used one word to describe their slippery descent into the funnel: “choice.” They each said that narrowing toward climax was a conscious choice rather than an uncontrollable compulsion. They only descended down the funnel when they wanted to and at their own pace.
They all agreed that they had never narrowed to the point where everything else was completely blocked out. None of them had experienced suddenly emerging from the narrow tunnel after orgasm and exclaiming, “What just happened? Where was I?”
All of the women maintained that climax was very enjoyable, yet it was not their singular focus and be-all/end-all goal. In fact, they contended that if the other important elements of intimacy were experienced, and climax was not reached in a given situation, they could be just as satisfied with the experience. (With all of the men I interviewed, the attitude was entirely opposite-the funnel experience could not be complete without climax. Climax was the total focus.)
None of the women were interested in Internet porn images all by themselves, as the way to narrow down the funnel to climax. Each insisted that there had to be more to it than that.
Each of these areas of response from women makes total sense when measured according to the structure of the female brain. The female brain is not organized so as to keep sex and the process leading up to climax in a separate, narrow mental compartment like the male brain does.
A woman is exerting both sides of her brain when she starts into the funnel. She connects the process with a wider variety of emotional information against a background where relationships, communication, and emotional fulfillment are more important than the single, narrow event of climax.
For Women, the Right Setting Is Paramount
Because she is so much more aware of her emotions, thoughts and feelings at a much wider perspective, it takes the right setting and a longer period of time for a woman to allow herself to get to the place in the funnel where she begins “throwing the switches” leading to climax. This of course is completely contrary to the classic porn flick scenario, in which the woman plays the willing victim, the ravenous nymphomaniac, the office hussy.
Porn also shows women writhing in pleasure, achieving orgasm at the drop of a hat and under all circumstances. These responses are obviously staged. Few if any women could become aroused so easily, especially in such situations. Remember, porn seeks to create fantasy women who respond sexually the same way a man might-or in the way a man wishes the woman to respond.
In the female brain, the centers of logic, reason, arousal and emotion are well connected. A woman thus will not typically narrow down the funnel unless she has considered the big picture and deems the journey to be in line with her overall values, reasoning and goals.
And even when she does slide down the funnel, a woman’s narrowing is not nearly that of a man’s. Again, remember, even when focusing on a single issue, such as intimacy and climax, a woman is still exerting her entire brain and on a wider scale when compared to the male. A woman’s reasoning is still intact at some level, which is why all the women I interviewed used the word “choice.” And this would explain why they did not suddenly “regain their reasoning when coming out of the tunnel”-basic reasoning was connected to the process all the time.
In The First Sex, Helen Fisher says the following:
Women are more likely than men to be distracted during coitus. If a woman hears a baby cry, recalls something that happened at the office, or wonders if she turned off the stove, her concentration can be interrupted. She has to reset her focus and rebuild her sexual excitement. Men are better able to keep their attention riveted on sex . . . Women tend to assimilate many disparate thoughts at once-web thinking. Web thinking may disrupt their concentration as they make love.
The women I interviewed suggested that the funnel of intimacy be rendered slightly differently for women. They offered the following adjustments:
The female funnel should be wider at the top, indicating that women start out using more brain space and taking in a wider range of information, emotions, etc.
The female funnel should narrow more gradually, with “exits” or “rest stops” along the way, to suggest that women more slowly narrow toward climax and can halt the process at will. Further more, they can be completely satisfied if the process is put on hold, if other important elements are present.
The tunnel at the base of the funnel should be wider than the male tunnel, indicating that, even in its narrowed state, the female brain still maintains a wider perspective and is continuing to consider a wide range
It is obvious that men and women do not approach or experience sexual arousal in the same way. Through a more habitual, mindbody process, a man uses Internet porn as the process to achieve sexual climax. And each subsequent time he expresses that intention, his mindbody is trained to seek out the network of cellular memories that activate the process and he begins the slippery slide down the funnel very quickly.
When a woman expresses an intention for a sexual experience, her mindbody requires much more than some pornographic images. She must receive a much wider range of stimulus in order to be fulfilled, thus her mindbody will seek for the network of cellular memories best equipped to make her intention a reality. This network generally will be much larger and more complex than in the male, and so her journey down the funnel is necessarily wider, slower, and much more of a “consciously directed” process than in the male.
Given what I have learned about the female brain and based on numerous interviews and discussions, I would have to agree that the female funnel of intimacy should be rendered differently than that of the male. However, there is a disturbing trend with Internet porn and cybersex chat rooms that indicates a growing number of women may be approaching the funnel more like men do-traveling down the funnel more quickly and more narrowly.
If you are caught in this trap I beg you to seek help. It is a real problem and you can’t control it. Stop fooling yourself. There is help out there: http://xxxchurch.com & http://heartsupport.com are a few online resources. I am currently involved starting a Celebrate Recovery program at The Ridge Church. If you would like more information on this please contact me. -Rick
This book is primarily geared toward those preparing for marriage some day but don’t let that stop you from reading it if you’re already there. In this book, author, Craig Groecschel offers many insights into relationships, past present and future. It is invaluable information you can pass on to others as well as heed for yourself.
Love, Sex and Happily Ever After will give you great advice for your future spouse (your #2) as well as guide you in your relationship with the “One” (Jesus Christ). You first need to meet and know the “One” and develop your relationship with Him to truly be able to understand and develop your relationship with your “two”.
Craig’s openness in his own failures and successes in relationships with the opposite sex are very real and even painful at times (such as the pick-up line he first used on his wife Amy).
I believe I could have made things much easier for myself but especially for my wife had I read this 25 years ago. So, whether you are just dipping your toe into the dating pool for the first time or you’ve been married for years, Love, Sex and Happily Ever After is a great book for staying the course or getting back on track.
I will certainly be giving a copy to my 19 year old daughter and her boyfriend soon.
Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv. Meeting in multiple locations around the United States, and globally at Church Online, LifeChurch.tv is known for the innovative use of technology to spread the Gospel.
With a passion for serving the Church and partnering to reach people for Christ, LifeChurch.tv develops and shares resources and applications with churches worldwide.
Craig, his wife, Amy, and their six children live in the Edmond, Oklahoma area where LifeChurch.tv began in 1996. He speaks at conferences worldwide and has written several books, including his recent release: The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn’t Exist.
FTC DISCLAIMER: “I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. –1Peter3:1-6
I am married to the most patient, kind, caring women I have ever known. 1 Peter 3:1-6 is what I call my Jenniverse. My wife, Jenni, often times unknowingly followed Gods command here in dealing with me, long before I became a believer. The first time I read these words I saw her reflection in the page.
I know a number of women struggle with the fact that their husbands don’t go to church with them or don’t follow or believe in Jesus. My wife was one of them for the first 17 1/2 years of our marriage. But through her obedience in 1 Peter3:1-6 I saw Jesus reflected in her actions and lifestyle. Not through her arguing, nagging, begging and pleading for me to “try out church” (although she did her fair share of that too).
Ladies I know it’s tough sometimes. At times I look back on what I put her through and get sick about it. But just keep this scripture handy and truly live it out and watch what happens.
Does God only answer the prayers of the believer?
Some would say scripture supports that only the prayers of the believer can and will be heard by God, other than the prayer of salvation of the non-believer.
Psalm 66:18 says, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened”. Isaiah 1:15 says, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.” And Proverbs 28:9 has, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable.”
These scriptures might support that but can’t a believer also fit here? Can a believer “…cherish sin in his heart”? or “…turn a deaf ear to the law”? I have, and I don’t question my salvation, I know in my heart that Jesus Christ died for my sins as well as the sins of all man, even the ones that choose never to believe in Him. The difference is where that salvation will take me and where that missing salvation will take them. But, that’s another discussion. Let’s get back to prayer?
Now, I’m not talking about prosperity prayers or prayers that are self centered in nature. I don’t believe those are answered for anyone if it is outside God’s plan. I’m talking about righteous prayer that is in line with God’s will.
Long, before I was a believer I prayed for the safety of my wife and unborn daughter through a difficult child-birth. My daughter is now 18 years old, healthy and a faithful servant of Christ. Wait a minute, I’ve only been saved 4 1/2 years?!? But, isn’t that an answered prayer? I also added in “I’ll straighten up and change my ways…” Some would say I’ve done that and some would say that is an answered prayer for them too but that event occurred 14 years later. All in God’s timing not man’s, maybe? If, God had not answered that prayer, if Jenni or Marissa or both had not made it through would that have driven me further from God? Was this a coincidence or was this the starting point of a belief that would eventually emerge in my life. There were other times I prayed. I prayed for a safe return from The Gulf War. I made it home, some didn’t. That was even two years before that prayer for Jenni and Marissa. If I hadn’t prayed for that safe return or if God had ignored that prayer because I didn’t believe, where would I be? Where would Jenni be? Would Marissa be?Again, as far as we can tell, these prayers appear to line up with God’s will. You could say the prayer for a safe return was a selfish one but I had a wife, who would become an amazing sister in Christ, to return to. And a, yet to be conceived, daughter that is now turning into that same kind of woman. That is now an answered prayer of mine, albeit after the fact of my salvation.
Muscles don’t just appear one day. We have to build them. How can we build our faith muscles if we don’t excercise them? And how can we reach the strength to take that first huge step and ask for God’s forgiveness if we don’t exercise a little first? I’m not saying that’s all it takes but it’s a flex in the right direction.
God saved me from what I had turned my life into. I know that is an answered prayer of my wife’s. But, God gave me the life I was ruining. Maybe that initial life was an answer to someone else’s prayer. Where they a believer? Will they be someday because of that first step 40 some years ago?
What say you? Is prayer a private club only for the members that “said the oath” or is more than that? I would love to hear your thoughts.