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Where's Your Focus?

What does the voice in your head sound like?

C’mon . . . I know you have one. It’s not about talking to yourself or about admitting to the “voices in your head,” but about the one inner voice you’ve had for as long as you can remember. It’s probably the voice you hear up there as you’re reading this. Or, maybe it’s the voice that’s about to say, “what is this guy even talking about?”

Yeah, that one.

We all have an inner voice, but you know who doesn’t? The absolute rest of God’s creation. From everything scientists can tell, other animals don’t really think about what they’re doing before they do it – at least, not like humans do. Dog sees a treat. Dog eats the treat. The dog might hesitate if there’s danger in the way, but it’s not going to count the Weight Watcher points, think about beach season or wonder later if they really should’ve indulged.

In the same way, a tree doesn’t think about growing. A rock doesn’t think about . . . uh, rocking.

The Latin name for humans is actually related to this very point: Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Some simply translate that, “The very wise man,” but that’s not quite right. It literally means, “The man who knows that he knows.” Or, even clearer, it can mean, “the man who thinks about his thinking.”

When God breathed into Adam and gave him (and thus all of us) a rational soul, it sparked within mankind the ability not only to think about our actions, but also to examine our own thoughts. It is a tremendous gift, but . . . like everything sin touches, it can also be a tremendous burden.

I’ll ask again. What does the voice in your head sound like?

For many, the voice in their head sounds a lot like a narrator voiceover in a TV show about their life. Our inherent narcissism paints us as the lead character in our very own sitcom with everyone else either as a supporting role or as the villain.

At other times, our inner voice sounds like the scene in a court room drama. Satan whispers about our innumerable wrongs and we either tell ourselves stories to defend our actions (to an audience of one, no less) or we play prosecutor and wrack ourselves with guilt.

In either of those scenarios, it’s clear that we’ve taken a tremendous gift of God and done what mankind always does with God’s good and gracious gifts – we’ve ruined them by making it all about us.

There’s actually a fancy Latin term for that as well, incurvates in se. Literally, “curved inward on oneself.” Saint Augustine was likely the first to use the term, but it later gained quite a bit of traction in the works of Martin Luther who was both a fan of Augustine in general (being a member of the Augustibiab Order as a monk) but also the concept that so much of our problems in life have to do with being too preoccupied on ourselves.

In his “Lectures on Romans,” Luther wrote:

“Our nature, by the corruption of the first sin being so deeply curved ib on itself (incurvates in se) that it not only bends the best gifts of God towards itself and enjoys them, as is plain in the works-righteous and hypocrites, or rather even uses God himself in order to attain these gifts, but it also fails to realize that it so wickedly, curvedly, and viciously seeks all things, even God, for its own sake.”

This is our human condition in a nutshell. What does the voice in our head sound like? It sounds self-obsessed, self-absorbed and unable to really diagnose the condition of anything outside of our immediate wants and needs.

The English idiom, “navel-gaze” is related to this concept as well, and that’s a pretty solid picture for the life of a human—so curved in on oneself that we not only can’t see the forest for the trees, we can’t even see the trees past our own belly buttons.

This presents a huge problem in how we deal with the sin in our life.

One of Satan’s greatest weapons is isolating a sinner within his sin. Our natural inclination to think only of ourselves makes his assaults so much easier. And so, what starts as a seemingly harmless impulse or as toeing the line between right and wrong leaves us alone, broken and in a metaphorical (or perhaps literal) fetal position too curved in on ourselves to be of any use to anyone, let alone ourselves.

It plays out in the moment. “This sin can’t hurt anyone,” we tell ourselves. Of course, miles down life’s road, that same sin can be remembered as the start of a painful, destructive process. A little foresight would be nice, but we were too busy being curved in on ourselves and thinking only of what we wanted.

Even more dangerously, this plays out in how we deal with guilt and shame . . . internalizing over and over and over again. Making not only the sin about us, but also the punishment and forgiveness all about how we feel in any given moment.

God, save us from this!

He has.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains,” Psalm 121 says. “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” 

This Psalm of Ascents was written to be sung as worshippers were on their way up to the Temple, built on a literal mountain (Mount Zion). It’s also, traditionally, a Psalm used by the Christian Church in Lent—a time where we are encouraged to think soberly about our heart’s condition and where we have more muted praise as we ponder our Lord’s passion.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains . . .” Is there anything more powerful than the picture of a sinner finally straightening up to focus on something other than themselves? This, of course, is not done by our own power, but only through Jesus’ sacrifice and by the work of the Holy Spirit.

As we fit our eyes to the mountains, we focus on Mount Calvary where Jesus paid the full atonement for all sin—large, small, habitual, life-damaging, relationship-ruining and the like. As we look for the solution in ourselves, God straightens us up and our weary eyes learn to focus on his son, a solution that was there all along.

And, so, we fix our eyes on yet another mountain, Mount Zion once again. This time, as a picture of Heaven used over and over throughout scripture, a Heaven that is yours, a Heaven that is already won for you, a Heaven that is full of the richest pleasures we could never find within ourselves.


Author: Michael Schottey, Palm Coast, Florida

Love that won't disappoint

Valentine’s Day was awesome.

You know, back in the second grade when you had the parties at the end of the school day. When you passed out the fun Looney Tunes Valentines to all your classmates. When you got to consume loads of sugar.

You remember those Valentine’s Days? They were great!

And then you get older. And Valentine’s Day changes. And it becomes more complex. They can still be great, but they certainly become different.

If you’re single on Valentine’s Day, you get tired of hearing about everyone else’s plans. Perhaps you put on a brave face and act like it doesn’t bother you, but deep down, it stings. Deep down, you wish you had plans as well.

If you’re dating or married, there’s pressure to make sure this day is special. There’s pressure to live up to some sort of standard. You don’t want to let your significant other down.

Social media has added another layer to this. You see the Facebook and Instagram posts of friends and acquaintances of all these “perfect” Valentine’s Days.

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to stress out. It’s easy to covet. It’s easy to be envious of other relationships. At the end of it all, it can even feel like a letdown.

And here is where the devil often likes to strike.

This is often the time the devil will tempt you to turn to a convenient lover.  A lover that he says won’t let you down. This lover is there for you when nobody else wanted to spend Valentine’s Day with you. This lover is there for you when your significant other lets you down. This is, of course, how the devil makes this lover look. This lover, of course, is pornography. But despite how tempting the devil makes this lover look, all it ever does is let you down. All it does is bring guilt and shame.

As Valentine’s Day comes and goes, I encourage you to assess the situation that you’re in. The concept of love and relationships will be everywhere. It will be on television, social media, at the store, and many other places.

Assess your relationship status. 

If you’re single. rejoice! Celebrate the blessing that is and recognize all the blessings in life that come from that.

If you’re dating, rejoice! Celebrate the relationship you have as you learn what you want in a future spouse. Know that Valentine’s Day will be unique to you.

If you’re married, rejoice! Celebrate the love that your spouse gives and see all the strengths your spouse brings to your relationship.

Whether you are single, dating, or married, you are able to rejoice and recognize all the blessings in life.

You are able to do that because of Christ. You are able to do that because your most important status is secure. You are a redeemed child of God!

In (Jesus) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins . . . (Ephesians 1:7).

Jesus went to the cross, gave his life, shed his blood . . . for you. Jesus went to the cross to wash away your sins. Jesus went to the cross to redeem you, and make you his child. Jesus accomplished that, and that will never change.

It is finished (John 19:30).

Because you are a child of God, you have a purpose. God has a plan for you. And no matter what your earthly situation is, you get the opportunity to thank and worship your God for all that he has done for you.

Brothers and sisters, I pray that you are able to assess your earthly relationship and identify where the devil may look to tempt you.

But I pray that you never lose sight of your status in Christ. The love that Christ has for you is incomparable to any earthly love.

You are forgiven. You are a redeemed child of God. You are loved by God.

And God’s love will never let you down. 


Author: Daniel Koch serves as the Staff Minister of youth and family ministry at Grace Lutheran Church in Crivitz, WI.

Clean

Clean Slate

We have reached the point in the new year where a third of the population who set a New Year’s resolution will have broken it. This is according to various studies, so take that for what it’s worth.

Personally, I have never been one to make a New Year’s Resolution. I do find it admirable to those who who do, however. It is a respectable thing to set goals and strive to reach those goals. Having goals can motivate us, and the new year is certainly a time to make new goals.

I pray that your new year has been one filled with blessings. I pray that you are able to reach those goals you set for yourself.

However, as noted above, we are weak. We are weak when it comes to pleasing our own sinful nature. We are weak to give in to the temptations of this world.

We are weak to lust. We are weak to satisfy our sexual cravings. We are weak to give in to pornography. As the apostle Paul said, “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not keep doing what I want. Instead, I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15)

Rather than feeling new, we are often feeling like the same old person.

 

Scapegoat

Obviously, we celebrate the new year once in a calendar year. For the Israelites of the Old Testament, one of the festivals they celebrated once a year was the Day of Atonement.

On this day, God commanded the high priest to carry out certain things. One of those duties was to take a goat, called the scapegoat. The high priest would confess “all the guilt of the people and all their sins” (Leviticus 16:21) and place that on the scapegoat. An appointed man would then take that goat and walk away from camp. They would walk until they were out of sight from the camp, and the man would release the goat into the wilderness, completely out of sight.

Here, God was teaching two things:

1) “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12)

2) One was coming to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Could you imagine watching that goat leave camp? What a feeling that must have been! Could you imagine placing all that guilt of your lust and porn on that goat and then watching it walk completely away?

While we don’t celebrate today with a goat, God gives us that same promise: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12)

Your sin and guilt are no longer a part of you. It is completely removed from you.

Psalm 103:12

And that brings us to number two.

The one promised to come. The one promised to make atonement has come and done just that.

Jesus is “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Jesus was the sacrifice, taking all your sin and guilt on his shoulders when he went to the cross. Your sins are paid for. Your sins are atoned for. You are at one with God.

Jesus has “made us clean from all our sins” (Leviticus 16:30).

I pray that you have a blessed new year! I pray that God gives you the strength to reach the goals and resolutions that you have for yourself.

But above all, look to the One who has removed your guilt. Trust in the one who has taken away your sin. Praise the one who has made you clean.

In Christ, we are new – today and always.


Author: Daniel Koch serves as the Staff Minister of youth and family ministry at Grace Lutheran Church in Crivitz, WI.

A Date With The Holy Spirit

A Date With The Holy Spirit

Do you want someone around when you sin? Almost never, right?!

It’s almost as if our conscience finds a megaphone when it knows someone is there to witness what we are doing wrong. We don’t want our conscience to hurt so much. “Calm down,” we may tell ourselves. “No one will see me. No one will come in. No one knows about the thoughts I have. I can hide it.” But the conscience knows better.

You may hide them from some people for a little while, but can you really hide your sin from everyone?

Whether you want him around or not, the Holy Spirit knows your mind and its desires. Psalm 139:7 says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” David sang those words with wonder. But do they frighten you?

It may seem like a good strategy, then, to always remember that the Holy Spirit is present with us. We can attempt to scare ourselves away from sin. You may have even heard someone comment about a frisky couple, “I hope they leave room for the Holy Spirit!” If we remind ourselves that God is always watching us, then we can avoid sin.

Those thoughts are certainly a good curb to sin, but is it the best overall strategy in our approach to sin?

Couple holding hands at table

If the Holy Spirit is with you on your date, or while you are alone, or in any moment of the day, how does that make you feel? Scared? Nervous? Guilty? Ashamed? Powerless? If so, that’s a work of the Holy Spirit and he’s good at it. Very good at it.

John 16:8 “(The Holy Spirit) will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin.”

Whether the Holy Spirit grabs a line of the law in the Bible or uses the divine law written in the hearts of every human being since Adam and Eve, his work is decisive. We stand alone. Convicted. Ashamed. Scared. We have offended God. That knowledge may certainly help us to avoid some sins some of the time, but it will never give us hope and positive desires.

The best work of the law only prepares us for the best work of the gospel.

1 Corinthians 6:11, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

The Holy Spirit’s work does not end with a soul crushing conviction. We find our hearts naturally tugging toward the rules as if they could relieve us. Do this. Don’t do that. Follow this. Go there. The list is a tempting source of hope! The plan is all laid out, step by step. If I only do this and this and this, then I will successfully escape.

Nope. As tempting as it may be, the list is always out of reach. Like reaching for apples high in the branches of a tall tree. So close, but so far!

Apple on a branch

Our hope lies in another tree . . . a tree as preposterous and ugly as one placed on Golgotha. And the Holy Spirit is eager to fill you with the fruit of that salvation. Fervently. silently, and passionately, he opens the Scriptures for us. With the message of Jesus, fear dissipates, shame turns to honor, and guilt hears the happy voice of an innocent man.

It is good that the Holy Spirit is here to work his miracles. The miracles continue with new desires – better desires – that the Holy Spirit creates in us. Instead of hesitance to be in the Holy Spirit’s presence, fearing his approach and being eager to push him out of mind, we want him to be with us! We want him to help us war against our sinful self. In fact, we want to keep up with the Holy Spirit in the battle for our soul!

Galatians 5:25, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

In the battle against sin, we want to travel the whole path of the Spirit’s work – from law to the gospel to its precious fruits. It’s tempting to stick with the law, but the law won’t fully help us on our eternal journey. The full and complete message of the Holy Spirit makes him pleasant company whether we are enjoying him alone or with other people.


Author: Nathan Schulte serves as a missionary in WELS missions in Latin America. He lives in Quito, Ecuador.

Don't Let Covid-19 become porn's pandemic

Don’t Let Covid-19 Become Porn’s Pandemic

Published originally April 2020

I wish the pastor’s text was wrong about porn.
A colleague of mine shared some recent data about the correlation between cases of Covid and the amount of traffic on the internet’s biggest pornography site. According to the study, from late February to mid-March, traffic spiked nearly 12%, a swooping upward curve that resembled the side of Mt. Everest. Even worse, in the 16 days since that study was released, global corona cases have quintupled.
That’s right—quintupled. Which means, in my unscientific analysis, there’s a lot of porn out there.
I should be upfront and let you know that I believe porn is a serial killer of God’s good gifts. Both through a ministry I serve (Conquerors throughChrist) and in a book I wrote (From Dirty to Dancing), I have tried to persuade people that pornography wrecks our bodies, our souls, our relationships, and our world.
Yet, I get it. I get why so many of us, even those of us who follow Jesus, would be so drawn to porn at a time like this.
In my studies on addiction, I have learned that five of the most tempting times to fall into destructive behaviors are when we feel…
  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Tired
  • Bored
Know anyone who feels like that these days?
The coronavirus has messed with our routines and structures, affecting our meal times and hunger levels. Our utter loss of control and feeble attempts to be productive with work while caring for kids makes us angry. Social distancing, despite technology’s blessings, has left us lonely. Staring at screens for double-digit hours makes us tired. And, even after watching every episode of The Tiger King, we are bored, our brains itching for some dopamine-releasing novelty to excite us again.
That is just the physical factors that might lead to porn use. Add to that the spiritual forces at work—The sinister part of our hearts that lusts for short-term pleasure. The world that loves to make a dollar off of us, no matter what the cost to our integrity or our relationships. The Devil who convinces us that no one has to know and no know has to get hurt.
So, I get the graph. It makes sense to me why so many people, even Spirit-filled people, would click where we shouldn’t.
Which begs the big question—How do we fight back against the pandemic of porn?
Here are the 5-Steps that have blessed many people pre-corona and are even more urgent today:
  1. Get Real about the Wreckage—Porn seems so innocent when it’s just you and a screen. Just a release. Just a way to pass the time. Just a way to explore your sexual desires. But porn is not innocent. We must, through scriptures, stories, and studies, get real about the wreckage that every click causes. Spouses are crushed when they discover the images. Children are trafficked as supply to meet the demand. Eternities are lost for those who turn their backs on God. Take off the filter and see porn as the hates-your-future enemy that it is.
  2. Get Back to God’s Grace—Porn may be worse than you thought, but Jesus is better than you believed. Run back to Jesus, cling to his cross, and know that he is the friend of sinners. Meditate on passages like Romans 8:1, 1 John 1:8-9, Romans 5:8, and Jeremiah 31:34, and be amazed at God’s grace for those who fall into sexual sin. Embrace your identity as a child of God through faith in this Savior. Let the message take root in your heart that you are not what you have done. You are who God says you are—his own, beloved, pure in his sight.
  3. Get Rid of Porn—As much as possible, cut off your access to porn. Delete apps, pictures, and videos that cause you to stumble. Be ruthlessly honest about the triggers that lead you down a road that has no u-turns. Ask a friend to password protect your devices from installing anything that wouldn’t be good for your soul. While there is no fool-proof way to get away from porn in our digital age, there are wise ways to give the Holy Spirit more time to snap you out of your porn-pursuing fog. Make sure porn is way more than 1-click away for those moments when you feel hungry, angry, lonely, tired, or bored.
  4. Get Accountable to Others—Nothing helps our self-control as much as the good news of God’s love and good people who love us. Deal with the embarrassment and tell someone about your struggles. Confess to a trusted friend or two, be honest about when/how/how often you sin, and ask for their prayers, encouragement, and love. Remind them to remind you of Jesus’ patient love for sinful people (you will need it). This is the biblical path to healing (James 5:16, Proverbs 28:13).
  5. Get Ready for Battle—Craft a battle plan to fight porn one day at a time. Memorize a Bible passage that has proven helpful in your struggle. Screen save a picture of Jesus that reminds you that he is better than the pleasures of porn. Install filtering software on your devices (I personally use Covenant Eyes). Go to war, so that this day ends invictory, not defeat.
If those 5 steps work for you today, repeat them tomorrow. And if they don’t “work,” repeat them anyway! They will keep you close to Jesus, his truth, and his grace. Nothing matters more than that.
Resisting sexual immorality has always been a challenge. That only got more challenging when corona changed our lives. But we have a God who is up to the challenge. Talk to your Father, look to his Son, and ask for his Spirit.
With his help, let’s make sure there’s only one pandemic among God’s people.

Author: Mike Novotny serves as CtC Chairman and pastor at the CORE in Appleton, WI

FAQ

Do not overreact. This was going to happen eventually. Nothing is ruined. And your child is normal. It’s not shocking that this is happening, it’s shocking that you didn’t know about it. Now that you do know about it, you can have a conversation about it with your child. Let them know that sex is good, but pornography is not. Let them know what your plan will be going forward. Consider putting a content blocker on the devices your child uses. Let them know they are forgiven and loved.

FAQ

Pornography objectifies people and creates unrealistic expectations for sex that are completely void of the intimacy God intends. Pornography can be very addictive. Pornography encourages the abuse of women. The harm of pornography on your child extends beyond a guilty conscience and a damaged understanding of God’s design for sex. Pornography harms self-image and leads to lack of confidence and low self-worth.

pandemic

Porn Is A Pandemic

Begin to leave that awful, dark place you know all too well. It won’t be easy, but Jesus and his medicine of forgiveness are working for you.

I moved to Atlanta just after Dr. Kent Brantly was brought to Emory University Hospital. Of all the places to bring a man with Ebola, they chose MY CITY, even as Americans were thinking: “Keep Ebola as far away as possible!”

Since then, only one person in the United States has died from Ebola, and it wasn’t Dr. Brantly. By percentages, we’re doing well: we have a better chance of dying by shark attack while being struck by lightning than from Ebola.

Now look at percentages for a far worse disease, one that many people are not trying to cure but are actually trying to contract.

Some estimates suggest that 35 percent of Christians struggle with pornography. Those 35 percent live with an illness that slowly kills the soul by attacking their relationship with God. And that’s just those who acknowledge that pornography is sinful and admit they have a problem.

Maybe you live with this disease and with its accompanying darkness, guilt, and frustration. Maybe you know that place all too well.

In that place it can feel like no one, not even God, could love you. Even though you know Jesus died for your sins, you feel unworthy of that forgiveness. Friend, you’re absolutely right.

But even when you feel like God shouldn’t love you because of what you have done, remember what he has done.

But even when you feel like God shouldn’t love you because of what you have done, remember what he has done. Remember what that One – who knows everything about you – did for you and for every person trapped by pornography.

“We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

“‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’” (1 Peter 2:24)

Like Ebola, porn can be deadly, but not to your body. Pornography attacks your soul. A person infected with Ebola needs help, and so do you.

A great place to start healing is at a website called “Conquerors through Christ.” (www.conquerorsthroughchrist.net) Go there! Begin to leave that awful, dark place you know all too well. It won’t be easy, but Jesus and his medicine of forgiveness are working for you.

A perfect cure for Ebola is not yet known, but your perfect Savior gave you his perfection in exchange for all your sexual sins, including pornography. Because he suffered the shame of the cross, God sees you as pure and perfect, without wrinkle or stain or any other blemish (Ephesians 5:27).

The Conquerors through Christ team is praying for you. Ask trusted friends to pray for you. May God protect you from temptation and remind you that, in Christ, you are alive, free, and victorious.


Author: Caleb Schultz, vicar at Faith Lutheran Church, Sharpsburg, Ga.
Original article on wels.net

Marriage

More about intimacy in marriage

The beauty of marital intimacy doesn’t shine very brightly in this unfamiliar passage and we wince, imagining this is about a power struggle. Our flesh will see an excuse for selfishness and our renewed heart simply doesn’t understand. What place do these words have in the setting of a Christian marriage? Do they really apply? Maybe that’s not the right question because these words are from our Savior who knows more about yielding rights than we could ever imagine; so perhaps we should listen. The Lord is calling husbands and wives to look at the needs and desires of each other and yield their rights out of love. He is also making it clear that each belongs to the other and both made a promise to live as one flesh. Sexual intimacy is not a manipulative bargaining tool or spiteful move in a power play. There is no withholding sex to prove a point or get pay back. It is part of marriage—to fulfill needs, draw couples together and build love, a very special love.

The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.
1 Corinthians 7:4

You see, the love God has given us for life and marriage affects every part of our lives, including our intimacy. The Greek word for this love is “agape” and we see it most clearly when Christ laid down his life to earn our salvation. It is self-sacrificing love that looks for the benefit of the other. It is love that asks, “What can I give? How can I bless you?” It longs to see the other person grow and thrive. This beautiful, self-sacrificing love influences the sexual intimacy between a man and wife by compelling them to put the needs of the other before their own needs. Each is willing to yield to the other in love, understanding God’s design for sexuality in marriage. A wife will yield to her husband. A husband will yield to his wife. Personal rights are set aside as each serves the other. Christians reflect Christ in their marriage with this love and it is radiant in their intimacy as well. Each understands the important part that sexuality plays in their Christian marriage and the responsibility they have to one another.

It is a perfect design—but living it is much more difficult than understanding it. The reality is, this is really, really hard. The daily life of a Christian is often spent working hard in or out of the home. It is unrealistic to think that after a long day of work the powerful desire for sexual intimacy can simply be set aside as one considers the needs of their spouse. The husband may face a thousand sexual temptations in a day: glances, flirtatious laughs, suggestive comments and unsought images that focus his thinking on one thing. The wife may face a thousand temptations in a day as men appreciate her work, make comments about her femininity, or show interest in who she is as a person. Perhaps the wife is home all day with children who absorb every ounce of her energy and share more than enough physical contact but not a bit of meaningful conversation.

Paul doesn’t address the daily collision of needs at 9pm. The husband does have sexual needs. He comes home to his wife and wants to want her—this is his faith in action! Marriage is the place that God has given for sexual intimacy. But even now, he is called to set aside those needs to think about his wife. It is an incredible concept, that the powerful motion of love can not only pause, but defer to the needs of another. And the wife has needs too, which are often a bit more complex. She may have sexual desires but they are buried under a list of more tangible needs, like help in the kitchen or time to talk about her day. She may recognize her husband’s sexual needs but what about her exhaustion? Now whose needs are more important? Who yields? The Lord answers by giving husbands and wives the directive to consider the needs of the other and yield. Conflicting needs will call each of us to be self-sacrificing in our love. Compromise, consideration, and communication are all so important, especially in times of exhaustion and hurt. Sighs of frustration and emotional isolation don’t resolve conflict. Spouses cannot guess or assume they understand each other’s needs. Talk about it and listen to one another! Speak in love to find a way through it.

A husband can come to see how his help in the kitchen communicates love to his wife and makes her yielding a joy. A wife will begin to understand the importance of her husband’s needs and speak the language of love he longs to hear. Each yields to the other and the bedroom is a continuation of selfless love. It all starts with Christ in each heart as we are washed clean and filled with agape love. Forgiven and empowered with the gospel, we live according to his calling and find new strength and joy every day. Yes, there will be hardship, failures and hurts, but they have all been covered by the blood of Christ. It is God’s love that spurs us on to love one another. Live in his peace, be blessed by his love.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the perfect example of selfless love that blesses others. The sacrifice you made brought us that love as it covered our sins and gave us peace with God. We want to live in that love but it is so hard. How do we give when we feel like we can’t give any more? How do we yield when there are so many reasons not to? Call us to hear your voice and follow, for we know that your words are true and give us the strength we need. Forgive us for the many times we fail. Continue to teach us, remind us, and bless us so that we may honor you in our marriage and intimacy, and in all we do. In Jesus name, Amen.



Written by Naomi Schmidt
Reviewed by Pastor Gary Pufahl
Original devotion on WELS.net Women’s Ministry

Am I?

Am I A Sex Addict?

The good folks over at Covenant Eyes want to help you answer your most secret question: Am I a sex addict?

We at CtC encourage you to take a look at this article if you’ve ever, even furtively, wondered about your sexual behavior. It is worth the 5-10 minutes of personal reflection. We also encourage you to compassionately share this with anyone you know who may be struggling with sexual addiction – but carefully. Maybe it would be best for you to have a more informal conversation about this before you drop the bomb of “I think you are addicted to sex” on them.

…overcoming sinful behavior, especially addiction, is difficult. But it is much, much easier through Jesus.

Finally, NOTE this: overcoming sinful behavior, especially addiction, is difficult (as the article notes.) But it is much, much easier through Jesus. He has already suffered the consequences of our foolishness on the cross. He has already overcome the punishment we caused him to bear through his resurrection. He is investing in you, with his body and blood, his time and attention, his Spirit and his love, so that you can know you are not alone in this fight.

In fact, when you overcome your sexual addiction, you will be able to point to Jesus as the one who made it possible. Are you a sex addict? Perhaps. Are you a conqueror? Absolutely.

Read: Am I A Sex Addict at Covenant Eyes