Fighting For Marriage

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/28898383 w=600&h=325]

In this inspiring four-minute video by Elevation Church, pureHOPE Charlotte Advisory Board members Chris and Sandra Pollard share their journey from bondage, betrayal, and distrust to hope, healing, and intimacy.  Their story highlights the abundance of grace and mercy that God readily pours out upon couples who, like the Pollards, choose prayer, repentance, forgiveness, and resolve to fight for their marriage instead of just fighting in their marriage.

“It took getting me into all those closets, and into all those things that I had hidden, and just exposing them to the light of the Lord.”  Chris Pollard

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Parenting by Example

A core concept of our purePARENTING message is that when it comes to sexual purity, parents must lead by example.  You can’t give away what you don’t have; as C.S. Lewis put it: “None can give another what he does not possess himself.  No generation can bequeath to its successor what it has not got.”

The Bible confirms this.  Biblical, God-centered parenting begins with the mandate that the words of Scripture be in our heart AND that we teach them diligently to our children (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).  Note the progression: the Word of God alive in us, then communicated to our children–in word and deed.

This is especially true regarding sexual attitudes and behavior.  If we are tolerant of impure thoughts, words, actions, or media in our lives and households, this will over time communicate to our children that sexual integrity and purity is not central, is not important, perhaps that it is not possible, and that it is actually not God’s will for us–even though the Bible makes clear that it is.

This article on leading by example as a parent hits the nail on the head.  “Observational learning” is a huge part of childhood, and because of that, parenting is not first about telling your kids what to do–it is about being the person God would have you be and living a pure and virtuous life that produces the fruit of the Spirit.  Kids are smart, and they are sponges; when we walk uprightly, they see it, and they will learn.  Modeling virtue is never a wasted effort.

“As often as you might say to them, ‘Do as I say, not as I do,’ your continual actions will speak louder than your words.”

Food for thought:

  • Have you made a covenant with your eyes as a parent?
  • What media are you allowing into your house, and what does it communicate?
  • Do you turn the channel when inappropriate images come up?
  • Where are you going online?
  • Are you examining the purity of your language and humor?  Your clothing?
  • Do you honor and show affection to your spouse in the presence of your kids?

Your Child’s Two Greatest Needs

By Dan Martin

I have heard several variations on the topic of our kids’ greatest emotional needs.  As I read, ponder, and experience the needs of my own kids, I have come to the conclusion that all of their basic emotional requisites can be summed up in two primary needs: to be fully known, and to be fully loved.

To be fully known: Going back to the Garden, Adam and Eve were “naked and unashamed” (Genesis 2:25).  God knew them completely and they knew one another completely before…until sin entered the picture.  Once they chose to disobey God, immediately they recognized that they were naked and began feeling the need to cover up, to withhold, to hide their true selves.  They no longer fully trusted God or one another.  God designed us to be fully known, by Him and by those closest to us.  Sin has led us to feel ashamed and to put on masks to cover up who we really are.  Fully knowing our kids means that we know them intimately, and we understand them in a way that the rest of the world does not; in doing so, we invite them to live authentically and openly with us, despite the pull of the sin nature to hide.  It also means we do the hard work of getting to know their joys and desires, as well as their fears, insecurities, and struggles.  This develops within them a sense of confidence and assurance that God has created them divinely and uniquely as individuals with gifts to be used in His service fulfilling roles that only they can accomplish.

To be fully loved: Only God is capable of truly loving fully and unconditionally.  But we are called to abide in that love (John 15:9), and as parents, we are charged with loving our children no matter what they do or what has happened to them.  This type of unconditional love requires one to let go of selfishness and a desire to command complete control over our kids.  Our kids have free will just as Adam and Eve had free will and chose to disobey God.  God never withdrew His love for them; in fact, His love would have to be demonstrated even more profoundly as a result of their disobedience.  He offered His Son, Jesus Christ, as an atonement for their sin and ours.  Our kids will make mistakes, and there will be (and must be) consequences, but we are to love them with the love of Christ, who endured pain, disappointment, and disgrace to love us (Hebrews 12:2).

Ultimately, these two needs are essential for all of us and were instilled in us by God.  We were created by God for the very purpose of relationship with Him, fully known by Him and fully loved by Him.  Fully knowing our kids means getting inside their world and understanding who they are in a way that no one else does.  Fully loving them means doing so in a way that reflects God’s unconditional and eternal love for us (Jeremiah 31:3).

Dan Martin directs pureHOPE’s parenting ministry.  He and his wife are the parents of three teenagers.  You can contact him directly at dmartin@purehope.net or follow him on Twitter @danmar34.

United States of Addiction

According to a recent book review by The Economist, our society is “porn-crazed, bingeing, gambling, pill-popping, fiddling incessantly with gadgets,” and facing an “epidemic of addiction” because “modern humanity faces temptations that it is ill-equipped to resist.”

An article by Dr. Philip Zimbardo on CNN describes how “arousal addictions” to online porn and video games are creating a generation of men unable to function in the real world and ultimately to “the demise of guys” (view his TEDTalk on this).

And this blog post claims that perhaps 80% of applicants to the International Mission Board, SBC have a porn history that in many cases slows down or ends their application process.

What to do?  For starters, the church must openly, honestly, and frequently preach and teach about subjects like addiction, porn, and the isolation inherent to modern life.  It must explain and equip people to understand how those subjects subvert God’s design for sex, relationships, and community, which are fundamental to a loving, authentic, and robust Christian life that glorifies God.

To that end, there are many excellent resources available (and more appearing all the time) discussing the issue of addiction, recovery, and healing through God’s grace and mercy.  Here are two books we recommend that are particularly helpful in understanding sexual addiction from both a neurological and biblical perspective: Continue reading

Proverbs 31, To Be Exact

Step 1:  Watch this video by 31 Status.

Step 2:  Read Proverbs 31:10-31.

Step 3:  Forward the video to someone who needs to see it.

Step 4:  Repeat steps 1-3.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyXSFnZijSs&feature=related&rel=0]

Take the 7-Day Challenge

“Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:3

We are purified through our hope in Jesus, a hope based in faith that His atoning death and resurrection sanctifies us and cleanses us from all sin.  How is that purity reflected in us, and what habits ought we to develop to grow in that purity?  We call it the PURE lifestyle: a pattern of prayer, understanding, resolve, and engagement.

One of the tools we put in people’s hands as they leave our conferences and seminars, to script the critical moves for them and aid them in generating and sustaining momentum, is what we call The 7-Day Challenge.  Often when we get new information or ideas in a book or at a conference, the greatest challenge is doing anything with that information or idea once we close the book or leave the conference.  The 7-Day Challenge is intended to help overcome the inertia we all experience by providing short, simple steps to implement for one week that will help create movement that can form the basis of radical life change through deeper intimacy with God and dependence on His grace.

Will you take the challenge?  Click here, journal about it, and pass it on.

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Documenting Hope

As the injustices of pornography and sex trafficking increase, more individuals are engaging in action to combat them and raise awareness, including many talented artists and filmmakers across the world.  The pureHOPE team has had the privilege of connecting with several such projects over the past few years, and below are three documentary projects currently in production that we believe are worthy of not only your viewership, but your prayer and even financial support as well. Continue reading