How the Father Pursues the Heart!

Let me start this blog off by saying I would highly encourage you to go to Amazon and order this book:

Prodigal God

Reading Luke 15 and this book (by Tim Keller) has really helped me have a better understanding of the Father heart of God. That will be the subject of this blog (the heart of the Heavenly Father and His pursuit of us).

In Luke 15 Jesus is addressing the “sinners” and “tax collectors”.  He is speaking to those who are known for their sin.  In the 1st century culture, these people would have been outcasts.  That is what is so great about Jesus.  That is who He hangs out with.  That is who He pursues.

There was also another group of the people there (the Pharisees and the Scribes).  These were the religious leaders of that day.  These were the people that pretty much thought they were better than everyone else.  They cared more about how they appeared on the outside than they did about making sure their heart was right.

In Luke 15 Jesus addresses both groups of people with 3 stories.  The great news is that Jesus is still addressing those two groups of people today.  There are people in our culture who seem to be very sinful, and there are people in our culture who appear to be religious.  I am just thankful that Jesus can speak to both groups of people.

Make no mistake about it: The “sinners” and the “religious” both need Jesus, but only the “sinners” really know that.

Jesus tells 3 stories in Luke 15, and as I stated, He is addressing two groups of people.  We can call them the “Prodigal” and the “Perfect”.

In the first story Jesus tells about a shepherd who has 100 sheep.  99 of them are fine, but 1 of them is lost.  He leaves the 99 to go find the 1 lost sheep.  When that 1 sheep is found, there is much rejoicing.

In the second story Jesus tells of a woman who had 10 coins.  She lost 1 of her coins, and she tore up the entire house looking for that 1 coin.  When it is found, there is much rejoicing.

In the first two stories, we see a very similar theme.  Something of value is lost, and someone pursues that which is lost. When the lost is found, there is much rejoicing.

Then Jesus comes to the third story.  It is about a father who has two sons.  The older son works very hard for his father.  The younger son greatly insults the Father.  The younger son goes to the father and requests all his inheritance that he will receive after his father is dead.  What a bold move!  What a classless move!  What a selfish move!  He is telling his father, “I wish you were dead.  I just want your money.”  Wow!

Amazingly, the father agrees.  The younger son takes the money and squanders it on prostitutes and loose living until he is eventually broke.  He eventually decides to go back home to see if his father would let him work for the family estate as a servant.

The son is on his way back home, and the text in Luke 15 says something interesting.  It says that the Father was out looking for him.  He was pursuing the son even though the son was lost in his loose living and sin.  Once the Father sees his youngest son, he takes off and sprints after him.  This would have been unheard of in that culture.  What an amazing sight!

Once he gets to his son, he kisses him and embraces him.  He chooses to throw a party in his honor.  See how this story is very much like the first two.  Something of great value is lost (the son), and the Father pursues the son in his lostness.  Once the lost is found, there is rejoicing and celebrating.

However, in this story it does not end there.  In this story, Jesus tells us how the older brother gets angry with the Father.  He refuses to come to the party to rejoice over his brother being found.  Wow!  What bitterness and anger!

Here is the crazy thing.  The father pursues him as well.  The father leaves the party and goes out to be with his angry son. He wants him to come to the party.  The older son never comes to the party, and the story ends.

It would appear the lost sheep, coin, and son represent the “sinners” and “tax collectors” that Jesus is speaking to, and it would seem the older son/brother represents the religious leaders.

Here is the irony in these stories.  The “sinners” get found and there is rejoicing, but the “religious” people just stay “religious”, meaning they don’t get found.  Ouch!

In my life, I have been the “perfect”, and that did not help me find Jesus.  I have also been the “prodigal”, and that didn’t help me find Jesus either.

I can tell you this though.  I am thankful he pursues both types of people.  Otherwise, we all would be in trouble.

Here is the sad truth.  It is easier for the “prodigal” to find Jesus than the “perfect”.  The “perfect” are usually too prideful.  Only the humble get found by God, but God pursues all!

Before we talk about how God pursues us, let me ask this.  Who are you?  The sinner?  The prodigal?  The religious?  The perfect?  Have you let God pursue your heart?  Will you let God pursue your heart?

How does He pursue us?  In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve sin, and they are overwhelmed with shame!!!  That shame leads them to try to cover up.  It leads to fear and hiding.  Ultimately, it leads to the blame game.  Here is the amazing thing.  Amid their sin and shame, God pursues them anyway.  He still was wanting to be with them!  Wow!  To see more on this, watch this sermon:

Shame Video 

In John 8 Jesus encounters a woman who has been caught in adultery.  Religious leaders bring this woman to Jesus.  I believe these religious leaders wanted Jesus to condemn this woman in her sin (by stoning her).  The story is fascinating. Jesus says “the one who is without sin can throw the first stone”.  All her accusers leave.  Jesus asks the woman, “Where are those who wanted to condemn you.”  The woman indicates that they are gone.  Jesus looks at her and says, “Neither do I condemn you!”  He then encourages her to leave her life of sin.  To hear more on this, click on this sermon link, and pick it up at the 22:00 minute mark:

Shame Sermon

So how does God pursue us?  He comes to us in our sin.  He comes to us in our shame.  He pursues us!  He pursues our sinful, lustful, greedy, “prodigal” heart.  He pursues our prideful, religious, and “perfect” heart.  Why?  The path of both sons/brothers in Luke 15 leads to hell.  He wants us to have life with Him!!!  I am so thankful for God’s pursuit of my heart to rescue me from hell and to give me abundant life here on earth and eternal life in heaven.

Questions to consider:

Have I let this God pursue my heart?

If I have,

Do I pursue people with the Gospel like this?

Do I pursue my children’s hearts like this?

Do I tell God how thankful I am in his pursuit of me and my messed-up heart?

I am so thankful to the God of Luke 15, Genesis 3, and John 8.  He is the God who pursues my heart!!!

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Purpose for Sex, Part 7

Again, I am sorry it has taken me so long to get another post up.  I don’t want to keep blaming it on life, but it has still been crazy.  I continue to disciple many men and students, and I continue to have a heavy speaking load. Moreover, our almost 2-year-old fractured his forearm.  Praise the Lord that his arm is supposed to completely heal.

Enough of my excuses of why I haven’t posted for about 10 days.  Let’s crank out one more post.

This will be our last post in our 7-part series on the “Purpose for Sex”.  We have looked at how “sex is worship”, how “sex is about intimacy”, how “sex demonstrates faithfulness”, how “sex is intended to be a selfless act”, how “sex is for pleasure”, and how “sex produces a Godly heritage”.  Today we will look at how “God honoring sex can only be heterosexual”.  Scripture is clear on this point.  Our culture does not see it that way so even trying to address it can prove to be controversial.  I will attempt to be as non-controversial as possible, while sharing the truth in love.

Just a few quick reminders: Why am I writing about this? –

  1. Many of the men and students I have helped were not taught the true purpose of sex growing up, either in their homes or in church.
  2. Culture is teaching many false things about sex and its purpose.
  3. If I understand the purpose for sex, then I have a much better shot of understanding God’s boundaries.

7 Purposes of Sex (not saying this is all there is, but these 7 are outlined in Scripture for sure) –

  1. Sex is worship.
  2. Sex is about intimacy.
  3. Sex demonstrates faithfulness.
  4. Sex is intended to be a selfless act.
  5. Sex is for pleasure.
  6. Sex produces a Godly heritage.
  7. God honoring sex can only be heterosexual.

Today’s Post – “God honoring sex can only be heterosexual”

Let me start off by saying a few things.

First, many who claim to know Christ have been very unkind to the LGBTQ community.  That is unacceptable and is not the purpose of today’s post or any of my posts.  It is the kindness of God that leads people to Him!

Secondly, many who claim to know Christ have come out in favor of homosexuality.  From my perspective, this has produced a ton of confusion.

Thirdly, please know I have met with many young men in a one to one context who are not participating in sex God’s way. This includes sitting across from many who are participating in homosexuality.  I love them the best way I know how and point them to the Scriptures and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is what I will attempt to do in this blog post.

Sex was ordained by God in the garden of Eden between Adam and Eve (one man and one woman).  One point I would like to make is that if God was signing off on homosexual sex, wouldn’t he have ordained homosexual sex at the beginning of time like He did with heterosexual sex?

God had an entire book written on sex called Song of Solomon.  That entire book is about heterosexual sex.  If God wanted and was okay with homosexual sex, would He not have had Song of Solomon mention it?  Would He not have had another book written on it?

1 Corinthians 6 condemns homosexuality.  Keep in mind it condemns many other things.  We tend to only focus on homosexuality, but there were other things mentioned as well (things like sexual sin, idolatry, stealing, greed, drunkenness, gossiping/slandering, swindling, etc.).

Side note: I want to continue in this blog to point out how God honoring sex can only be heterosexual, but I need to stop here and make a point.  All sin dishonors God!  When we pursue sex outside of heterosexual marriage that dishonors God!  When we bow down to false idols that dishonors God!  When we steal that dishonors God!  When we are greedy that dishonors God! When we get drunk that dishonors God!  When we gossip or slander or swindle that dishonors God!  All sin dishonors God. We must look at the stuff in our heart.  If Jesus is Messiah, then He must be Master!  It is a lifelong pursuit to let Him master our hearts.

The purpose of today’s post is not to throw rocks at those in the LGBTQ community.  If you read my blogs you know I condemn all sin, all idolatry.  Why do I do this?  God condemns all sin.  That is why we need Jesus to save us, and I am so thankful for Christ’s sacrifice!

Back to the purpose of this post.  Like I said, 1 Corinthians 6 condemns it, and so does Romans 1.  Romans 1 goes so far as to say that sex between man and woman is natural, and sex between same sex is to be considered unnatural.  God calls these acts shameful, and they are.  And so is a bunch of other sin.  And make sure we are clear, homosexuality is sin.

Sex is not something that exists over on its own little island.  Sex is created by God, and it is an act that is meant to be worshipful!  Sex must run through the lens of Scripture and the lens of the Gospel.  Therefore, understanding the purposes of sex is so important.  Let’s go back and look at two of the purposes of sex I have outlined in this series:

Sex is worship

If I am to worship God with sex, then it is only worshipful if I am doing it His way.  If I am pursuing homosexuality, I am worshiping my partner, myself, or both.  I am not worshiping God!!!

Sex produces a Godly heritage

I am not at all poking fun or trying to be graphic, as much as I am just trying to be as honest as I can about what God created. I have an extension cord at my house.  There is a male end and a female end.  I can plug the male end into the female end. Why can I do this?  They fit.  The same is true of male and female sexual organs.  They fit!  God designed it this way.  Last post we shared how God wants sex to produce a Godly heritage.  When the male sperm connects with the female egg, a life is formed.  Life begins at conception (that will be a post for another day).  Homosexual sex cannot reproduce a life.  If one of God’s purposes of sex was to reproduce life (Godly heritage), then how does homosexual sex fit in His purposes?  The answer is that it doesn’t!

Let me be clear.  I am condemning homosexual sex because God does (like many other sins).  I am honoring heterosexual sex because God does (like many other acts of worship).  I am not condemning homosexuals.  Many Christians are drawn to that lifestyle.  The only way to walk away from it is to let Christ become Master!  The reason many Christian that are drawn to that lifestyle choose that lifestyle is simply because the LGBTQ community is more loving and accepting that many “Christians” in the church.

Here is an idea.  Love people where they are at, and let God’s kindness lead them to Him (not our preaching, pointing fingers, or our shame).  What if the church out loved the LGBTQ community?  Much could come from this.  One of the things that could come from that kind of love would be for homosexuals and lesbians to be more likely to even listen to God’s purpose for sex as outlined in Scripture.  I promise you they are not going to be listening while I am preaching at them!

Sorry for my rant.  Let’s sum up this blog series.  One more time let’s look at the 7 purposes of sex:

  1. Sex is worship.
  2. Sex is about intimacy.
  3. Sex demonstrates faithfulness.
  4. Sex is intended to be a selfless act.
  5. Sex is for pleasure.
  6. Sex produces a Godly heritage.
  7. God honoring sex can only be heterosexual.

May we view sex through the lens of Scripture and Christ’s Gospel, and may we view all of life from that lens as well!

 

Purpose for Sex, Part 6

I am sorry it has taken me so long to get this next post up.  Life has been crazy for us.  I have had 3 speaking opportunities, and I continue to mentor/disciple many young men.  On top of that, we have had a bunch of sickness.  I am not complaining, but when we get sick it is hard to get rid of it (10 people in the same house).  We have had bronchitis, the flu and strep throat go through our house in the last two weeks.  Fortunately, we are now all well physically.  Praise the Lord!

So here we go.

Let’s continue our 7-part series on the “Purpose for Sex”.  We have looked at how “sex is worship”, how “sex is about intimacy”, how “sex demonstrates faithfulness”, how “sex is intended to be a selfless act”, and how “sex is for pleasure”. Today we will look at how “sex produces a Godly heritage”.

Just a few quick reminders: Why am I writing about this? –

  1. Many of the men and students I have helped were not taught the true purpose of sex growing up, either in their homes or in church.
  2. Culture is teaching many false things about sex and its purpose.
  3. If I understand the purpose for sex, then I have a much better shot of understanding God’s boundaries.

7 Purposes of Sex (not saying this is all there is, but these 7 are outlined in Scripture for sure) –

  1. Sex is worship.
  2. Sex is about intimacy.
  3. Sex demonstrates faithfulness.
  4. Sex is intended to be a selfless act.
  5. Sex is for pleasure.
  6. Sex produces a Godly heritage.
  7. God honoring sex can only be heterosexual.

Today’s Post – “Sex produces a Godly heritage”.

Last time we talked about how “sex is for pleasure”.  However, that is not all it is intended for.  Sex is also meant to produce a Godly heritage.  Because we are so fixated on pleasure and selfishness in our culture, this point about sex seems to have been completely lost.  It has been lost in culture for sure, but it has also been lost in the church as well.

In Genesis 1, God commands us to “Be fruitful and multiply”.  There are some Christian married couples who are unable to have biological children.  We have had friends walk through this, and we have watched them experience all kinds of pain through that experience.  We have also watched those friends pursue adoption, and God is allowing them to produce a Godly heritage through adoption.

There are other Christian married couples who simply choose to not have children.  From my perspective, this is selfish and disobedient to God.  God wants us to be fruitful and multiply and produce a Godly heritage.

There are Christian married couples who do have biological children, but from my perspective many couples stop having biological children way too soon.  I am not saying that God wants everyone to have a really big family, but I am saying this.  Muslims in America reproduce about 7 children per household.  American Christians reproduce about 2 children per household.  We need to seek the Lord through prayer and fasting to see how many children the Lord may want us to have to produce the Godly heritage that He desires.

Like we looked at last time, sex is for pleasure.  No doubt!  Just remember this, while married couples are enjoying their sexual relationship, producing a Godly heritage must be a priority along the way.  What does it look like to produce a Godly heritage?  As a follower of Jesus, I have no control over whether my children will follow Christ or not.  However, there are some things I can do to intentionally pursue their heart.

I have 8 children growing up in my home.  I have been a parent for almost 19 years.  The first 12 years of my parenting journey, I was not a very good dad.  I was okay, but I was not great at investing in my children.  I was very selfish, and I was chasing my career.  This was a huge mistake.

I repented to God, my wife, and my children.

There are 3 things my wife and I try to do now to really pursue the hearts of our kids.  When we pursue the hearts of our children, we are laying the foundation of what could be a Godly heritage.  God is responsible for bringing any spiritual growth, but I am responsible for pursuing their heart.

What are the 3 things we do in our home with our children?

  • Relationally Connect
  • Spiritually Invest
  • Appropriately Protect

Relationally Connect –

In 1 Thessalonians 2:8 Paul tells us that people there had become so dear to him that he shared the truth of the Gospel and his very life.  We must share the truth of the Gospel with our kids, but we must also give them our lives.  How do we do this?  We have game nights, movie nights, and watch old shows like “I Love Lucy”.  We date our kids in groups, and we date our children one on one.  We try to do this at least twice a month.  All of this takes a great deal of time, but it is worth it.  This is how we relationally connect with our children.

We don’t just want to give them our lives.  Like Paul, we want to give them the truth of the Gospel.  Christ’s death and resurrection saves me from hell and empowers me to live a life to the glory of God.  Kelly and I want to give our children our lives, and we want to impart the truth of the Gospel to our children.

Spiritually Invest –

Spiritual investment is more than just sharing the truth of the Gospel with our children.  We must live out the Gospel in front of them.

Deuteronomy 6 tells us that we are to love God with everything that we have, and we are to model this for our children.  Producing a Godly heritage requires spiritual investment.  I cannot spiritually invest in my children if I am not loving God with my whole heart.  My wife and I ask the Lord to give us the strength to model this for our kids.  This covers everything from devotional life, career, church involvement, entertainment choices, Kingdom of God investment, etc.

Spiritual investment also includes instruction.  Deuteronomy 6 also speaks of talking to your children about loving God wholeheartedly.  We try to do this in many different ways in our home (reading Bible stories to our younger children, having God/Bible discussions with our older children, praying for our children, etc.).

Appropriately Protect –

In Nehemiah 4, the children of Israel are trying to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.  They face opposition, so their leader, Nehemiah, has them carry a sword in one hand and a tool in the other.  I think the tools of parenting are relational connection and spiritual investment.  I think the sword for parenting would be us appropriately protecting them.

We live in a very evil world, and it is our responsibility to protect our children from this evil.  We cannot be overprotective, but we do need to protect their hearts as much as we can.  As a general rule we try to protect from that which is evil.  We don’t try to protect our kids from pain.  At least we try not do this.  Pain is one of the greatest agents God uses to conform us into His image.  Don’t protect from pain.  Protect from evil!!!!

Like I have said throughout this blog, connecting and investing in our children does not guarantee that we will produce a Godly heritage, but it does put their heart in the best place to hear from the Lord.  Let them hear from the Lord, and let Him draw our kids to Himself.  I would much rather they be children of God than children of Josh and Kelly.  Only He can change their heart.

May we enjoy sex in the context of Biblical marriage!  May we experience all kinds of pleasure doing sex this way!  But may we remember to use sex to help produce a Godly heritage for Gods Kingdom.

Kelly and I believe with all our heart that our children are the greatest investment we can make in the Kingdom of God.  Through them, we have a chance to produce a Godly heritage.  To not see that sex makes this possible is to limit God’s purpose for sex.