Ann Voskamp” How to Give up “Devotions” & Look God in the Eye (Or: How to Walk 130 Miles with God for Lent)

A very powerful message from Ann Voskamp about the power of the Bible.

When you first meet this guy named Joshua, you’d never know that he’s been in the mouth of a lion.What do you say to a man who’s walked out of the mouth of a lion? Only to give his entire life to the Lion and the Lamb?

You’d never have the faintest idea that lion teeth slammed down on his waist while he was just a kid sleeping out in the wilderness with his herd of goats.

Clenched between the incisors and canine teeth of the lion, Joshua found himself dragged into the bush, braced to be ripped apart for a pulpy nocturnal feast for the beast.

And in the split second that the lion dropped the mangled boy to get a better grip, the kid’s barking dog lunged in between the lion and the boy, growling and snarling, holding the lion at bay until near-by goat herders snapped awake and dragged the barely-alive Joshua out of the lion’s deadly reach.

Esther Havens for The Seed Company
Esther Havens for The Seed Company
Esther Havens for The Seed Company
Esther Havens for The Seed Company
Esther Havens for The Seed Company
Esther Havens for The Seed Company
Esther Havens for The Seed Company

The boy lived to become a scarred man. What do you say to a man who’s walked out of the mouth of a lion? Only to give his entire life to the Lion and the Lamb?

“Why?” I ask Joshua standing there in the wilderness, holding the reins of a camel. “Why — give your entire adult life, nearly the last three decades of your life, to translating the Bible into the language of your people?”

Joshua leans forward. “It is like giving them a weapon.” He points to a tree where women in these stacking rings of glorious, rattling beads are gathered under its branches.

“One of those women told me said “Now you have given us a weapon that we can use. Which is God’s Word. It’s like you have given us a spear that we can use to fight a spiritual warfare.”

Because you have to beat back your lion attacks, because “your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Joshua holds up a Bible.How would everything in this tilting world stand stronger if the Word of God laid more open for us than closed?

“This is — powerful. The weapon is God’s Word. Now, we can be equipped. But the problem is now — we need the other bigger part of the weapon. The Old Testament. We also need the Old Testament.”

Read the rest of this article here

Reflection on 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Two young businessmen shaking hands


Scripture

For God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting their sins against them. And he gave us this message of reconciliation.

Observation

Paul says he has stopped judging other people by human standards, because he once judged Christ this way. Now he knows that anyone who is in Christ is a new person with a new life.

This is God’s gift. God reconciled the world to Himself in Christ. And He has given us the message of reconciliation, making us ambassadors for Christ.

Application

In Christ, God reconciled the world to Himself. God took the first step in bringing us back to Him. He sent Jesus into the world to become our Saviour.

We were the ones who needed reconciling to God, not the other way around. God’s love for us never faltered even when we our sinful desires took us far away from Him.

God is still in this process of reconciliation. His grace never stops calling people to come back and enjoy Him. Nobody is too far away to escape God’s love, except through the hardness of their own heart.

It is not just about Jesus and me. God has given us the message of reconciliation. We have been given the task of showing the world that God is for them and not against them. It is like a good virus that spreads from person to person changing sinners into saints as they receive the message.

Now we are ambassadors for Christ. We live in a country that is not our own, for our true citizenship is in heaven. We live as representatives of the kingdom of God, advocating, speaking and acting on behalf of Christ.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for calling me back into fellowship with you. As your ambassador, I am tasked with representing you in the world. Please equip me and empower me to do this well. Amen.

10 Reasons Why Porn Is Unhealthy For Consumers And Society

From Fight The New Drug:

10 Reasons Why Porn Is Unhealthy For Consumers And Society

"Teen": Why Has This Porn Category Topped the Charts for 6+ Years?

In our world today, we have seemed to assimilate a toxin into our understanding of a healthy life, and primarily, a healthy sex life. Can you guess what it is?

This toxin is none other than pornography. In recent years, pornography has been deemed a normal, healthy aspect to human sexuality, and that the taboo and shame around it should be obliterated.

Though we agree that shame has no place in a discussion on porn consumption, we (and a whole lot of scientific research) disagree that modern pornography promotes healthy sexuality. To be honest, we not only think that it doesn’t promote healthy sex lives—we think you simply can’t be pro-pornography and pro-sex. They are incompatible, at their cores.

If you don’t think so, check out our list of the top 10 reasons why porn is the worst for consumers and society:

1. Porn damages relationships.

Despite what the narrative around pornography says, consuming porn has been found to negatively impact relationships.

The act of consuming porn alone can hurt the consumer’s partner, [1] but on top of that, porn consumption can lead people to feel less satisfied with their partner’s physical appearance and sexual performance. [2] Similarly, other research has found that porn consumers are not as intimate or committed to their partners, [3] and are less satisfied with their romantic and sex lives. [4]

2. Porn objectifies people.

The entire premise of porn is based upon seeing people as objects or tools for the consumer’s sexual gratification. Men and women both are seen as merely parts, not as whole people; men’s faces are rarely seen and women are just a collection of body parts and orifices.

Something tells us that training ourselves to see anyone—even strangers on a screen—as mere objects isn’t the healthiest habit to get into. Research would agree.

Lover And Fighter Crew
3. Porn normalizes violence and abuse.

The “softcore” pornography of previous decades is gone, and the violent, abusive pornography of today is in full-force and completely mainstream.

In a 2010 study of the most popular porn videos, 9 out of 10 scenes contained physical and/or verbal aggression, and the victim in these scenes responded either with pleasure or indifference. [5] Some common, and popular, categories of porn include rape scenarios and incest.

Is “fantasy” really harmless when it involves fantasizing assault and other harms that would never be seen as acceptable in real life?

4. Porn promotes racism and sexism.

Porn thrives off of stereotypes: by displaying women as submissive objects willing and eager to do anything for men, and by displaying men as aggressive, power-hungry beings who long to take advantage of vulnerable people, the complexity of gender and individuality are already reduced to gross misrepresentations.

Likewise, stereotypes are used in content with non-white performers, and promotes the “taboo” of interracial relationships and leads to fetishizing certain ethnic groups.

5. Porn warps ideas about sex.

Porn changes a consumer’s expectations of sex, especially when these consumers’ are young, impressionable, and without firsthand experience in the realm of a sexual relationship. In porn, people look perfect, can (and will) have sex at any moment, and everything will be catered exactly to how the consumer wants it. In real life? Not so much.

Considering what we just mentioned about porn’s normalization of sexism, racism, and abuse, it seems like a good idea to not let porn inform our expectations or shape our sexual tastes.

Classic PKL
6. Porn can literally change a consumer’s brain.

Our brains our able to change aspects of their structure throughout our lifetime, and some things are better at doing this than others. Unfortunately for us, pornography is one of those things. Because of how strongly porn triggers the reward center in our brain, neural pathways are built easily and get stronger, leading to the potential for the reward of pornography to be greater than sex with an actual partner. [6]

7. Porn can fuel extreme sexual tastes.

Because of how readily porn changes the consumer’s brain, porn consumption is an escalating and sometimes addictive behavior. As the consumer becomes desensitized to a certain type of porn, they will gradually turn to different, and oftentimes more extreme, types of pornography.

Chasing this intense high can lead a growing tolerance to it, creating a situation where they need pornography just to feel normal: a formula for an addiction. Click here to learn more about how porn can become addictive.

8. Porn leads people to disengage from their lives.

A porn habit or a porn addiction can pull people away from the things they love and care about most. Whether it’s their romantic relationshipstheir social lives, or their hobbies, porn can lead to a more isolated life for a multitude of reasons. Be it shame, depression, disinterest, addiction, etc., porn is not proven to be a tool for enhancing your quality of life—it’s shown to do the opposite.

9. Porn leads to worse sex lives.

If the previous eight facts didn’t make this point abundantly obvious, we’ll spell it out, just to be sure: porn has been shown to worsen consumers’ sex lives.

Porn warps a consumer’s expectations of sex, re-shapes their sexual tastes (usually for the worst), leaves them less satisfied with intimate sexual encounters and with their partner, and oftentimes leads to less sex overall. [7]

10. Porn facilitates sex trafficking.

The connections between pornography and sex trafficking are daunting. Consider the facts: pornography increases demand for trafficking by providing an outlet for people to imitate what they’ve fetishized in porn, porn consumption is linked to violence, victims of trafficking are often “groomed” and desensitized with pornography, [8] and people who grow up where porn is regularly consumed are more likely to be trafficked in their life. [9]

Most importantly than all that, though, porn and sex trafficking are often the same thing, and there’s no real way to tell if the porn you’re consuming is of an individual who has been a victim of human trafficking in some way or another.

Multiple research studies, similar conclusions

Ultimately, the research is clear: porn is harmful to consumers, relationships, and society at large. If you’re interested in living a healthy, full life, free from contributing to sexual exploitation or an industry that profits from sexualizing illicit and exploitative behavior, steer clear from porn.

NSW Election

Last night Gladys Berjikilian became the first woman to win a State election in NSW. You wold think the feminists would be all over this as NSW is Australia’s most populous state.

What a role model to young women and girls everywhere. She was born in Manly but when she started school she could not speak a word of English. Girls can achieve anything.

But the feminists are silent. Gladys is playing for the wrong team- Liberal not Labor, conservative not “progressive.” The feminists, consistent as always in their support for all women, say nothing. Jane Caro described the result as “Depressing and boring.”

Commentators last night described her as humble. After her speech at the main Liberal venue last night she went over the Bridge to personally thank her electorate volunteers. She also stopped to kiss babies after the election- nobody does that!

In Barwon, our long history of support for the Nationals (formerly the Country Party) dropped remarkably allowing Ray Butler from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Part to pick up the seat. I think that’s a good thing even though I didn’t vote for him- marginal seats always get more attention from Governments than the rusted on safe ones.

The biggest issue locally has to be water management. I think State and Federal Governments have dropped the ball on the Murray-Darling catchment plan. It’s probably a big part of their wins in NSW.

The Nationals have to decide whether they are a conservative party that represents people in western NSW or a trendy party competing with Labor and the Greens in the North Coast where retirees and sea changers have changed the demographic.

Paul Green has not yet won his seat in the Upper House for the Christian Democrats. I think as the week wears on and the preferences are doled out, he should get in. The Christian Democrat vote was halved this election by the presence of other conservative parties, notably One Nation under Mark Latham.

Most pundits believed that there would be a change of Government, or that the Liberals would be forced into a minority government. They thought that people would be swayed by the divisions in the Federal Liberal Party over the removal of Malcolm Turnbull last year. I think it’s safe to say that nobody is that bothered any more, if they ever were. The commentators need to get out and listen to people beyond the inner Sydney suburbs.

I am thankful that the ALP has been rejected again. It is still too left-wing for most people. Their continued agitation for free legal abortions, their obsession with football stadiums and their high spending policies were too much for many people.

We must continue to pray for the imminent Federal election. Bill Shorten will be disastrous for the nation. He has already flagged forcing all hospital to provide free abortions, he supports Safe Schools and will drag us down the expensive path of ever more “renewable” energy.