Crosswalk.com aims to offer the most compelling biblically-based content to Christians on their walk with Jesus. Crosswalk.com is your online destination for all areas of Christian Living – faith, family, fun, and community. Each category is further divided into areas important to you and your Christian faith including Bible study, daily devotions, marriage, parenting, movie reviews, music, news, and more.

Denison Forum on Truth and Culture Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Denison

Denison Forum on Truth and Culture
DenisonForumBanner_400
 
Ashley Madison exists to help married people have affairs.  With 34 million members, it claims to be the world's second-largest dating website, second only to Match.com.  Avid Life Media, which owns Ashley Madison and related websites, values itself at $1 billion.  The company reported revenue of $115 million last year, up 45 percent from 2013.  It is making news today with plans to raise up to $200 million by listing its shares in London.  
 
The company claims that it helps married couples: "The response we get from our members who have had an affair via the website is that they feel happier, invigorated and transmit that happiness, which actually reinforces and ignites a spark in their marriage and relationships." 
 
Don't be deceived.  Satan is the "father of lies" (John 8:44), so we know that all deceit has its ultimate origin in him.  Consider three claims regarding adultery, and see if they are Satanic lies intended to destroy your marriage, home, and witness.
 
Claim #1: "Everyone is doing it."  The truth: the annual prevalence of infidelity is 2.3 percent, according to a national study.  A University of Chicago study reports that 75 percent of husbands and 85 percent of wives never have sexual relations outside of marriage.  We often hear that Christians have affairs as often as non-Christians.  The truth is that worship attendance drops the divorce rate 25 to 50 percent.  Satan has used popular media to normalize adultery, so that it seems common and ordinary.  The opposite is the case.
 
Claim #2: "Nobody will get hurt."  The truth: seven out of 10 marriages end after an affair is admitted or discovered.  The spouse is often afflicted with "acute stress disorder," including great sadness, profound fears, intense anger, and severely damaged self-esteem.  And an affair can be crippling for the children: 55 percent of adult children from families where one parent was unfaithful commit adultery themselves.  Satan wants to use an affair to damage our families and everyone we love.
 
Claim #3: "Nobody will know."  The truth: the spouse nearly always finds out.  One marriage counselor estimates that 99 percent of the time the spouse discovers the affair.  Satan loves adultery, because he knows that moral failure damages our witness for Christ. (Tweet this)
 
If you've fallen to the deception of adultery, know that God still loves you.  He can forgive every sin you confess to him (1 John 1:9).  He can restore any relationship that is completely yielded to his word and will.  But don't let Satan use God's forgiveness to encourage sin.  If we drive a nail into wood, a carpenter can remove the nail but the hole remains.
 
What's the solution to Satan's schemes?  Finding our identity in Jesus.  When we know we are loved absolutely and unconditionally by Christ, it is easier to refuse the temptation to seek love and affirmation through adultery.  When we are in love with Jesus, he helps us love our spouse.  And he gives us the power to be faithful and pure.
 
Consider this wise observation from a veteran marriage therapist: "Very often we don't go elsewhere because we are looking for another person.  We go elsewhere because we are looking for another self.  It isn't so much that we want to leave the person we are with as we want to leave the person we have become."  She was asked, "Would you ever recommend an affair?"  Her response: "No more than I would recommend cancer."
 
She's right: adultery is marital cancer.  If you're being tempted, or if you've fallen to temptation, turn to the Great Physician—now.
 
 
Publication date: April 17, 2015

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.

DenisonForumBanner_400
 
When I first saw this headline, I was horrified.  My visit to Pearl Harbor was one of the most poignant experiences of my life.  Standing over the sunken remains of the USS Arizona, the final resting place of 1,102 sailors and Marines, was something I would never forget.
 
The headline caused me to think that government authorities would be raising the ship, an act that seemed to desecrate the memories of those who died there.  Then I read further: the nearly 400 servicemen to be exhumed died on the USS Oklahoma, not the Arizona.  They could not be identified, so they were buried in caskets marked as "unknown" at a national cemetery in Hawaii.  Now forensic and DNA testing may help authorities discover their identities and allow families to give them a personal burial.  And so what seemed to be bad news turned out to be good news. 
 
The news often works that way.  For instance, an Islamic State (IS) video made news recently with its warning, "We Will Burn America."  An IS spokesman claimed that no American anywhere in the world is safe, and called on supporters to stage attacks inside the U.S.  However, the video is actually evidence of IS's weakness outside its core areas of operation.  As one analyst noted, "groups that are capable of conducting terrorist attacks do not ask others to do so for them."  And so IS's frightening video turns out to be good news for its intended victims.
 
It's easy to become discouraged by today's culture.  On many fronts, it seems our society is "slouching toward Gomorrah," as Robert Bork famously described us.  But a defensive, negative attitude toward the "culture wars" is not the spirit of Jesus. (Tweet this) In a day arguably as decadent as ours, he consistently offered the gospel (literally "good news") of God's transforming grace.  He spoke the truth, but always in love.
 
Paul did the same.  When he came to Athens, "his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols" (Acts 17:16).  Did he condemn their profligate idolatry?  Quite the opposite: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious" (v. 22).  What Jews and Christians saw as idolatry, Greeks saw as religion.  Paul then used their idolatry to preach Jesus: "For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To the unknown god.'  What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you" (v. 23).
 
We need Paul's approach to our culture.
 
In a 2007 study, only three percent of non-Christian young adults expressed favorable views toward evangelicals.  Their number would be even lower today.  A Public Religion Research Institute poll found that 70 percent of millennials believe "religious groups are alienating young adults by being too judgmental on gay and lesbian issues."
 
Between rejecting our culture and revising our faith to accommodate its declining values, there's a third way.  It's possible to start with common ground—shared commitments and challenges.  Then show how Jesus' transforming love is the answer to our greatest problems, the hope for our deepest pain.
 
I spoke at an event in Washington, D.C. earlier this week.  Our driver was from Ghana by way of Los Angeles.  Raised in a Christian home, he had not been to church in many years.  He told me that he did not see the relevance of religion.  
 
The bad news is that people everywhere are worshiping unknown gods.  The good news is that the one true God loves them. (Tweet this) Who will hear the good news from you today?
 
 
Publication date: April 16, 2015

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.

DenisonForumBanner_400
 
Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for president on YouTube and then traveled 17 hours by van to campaign in Iowa.  Ted Cruz made his announcement first on Twitter, and later at a university.  Rand Paul announced his candidacy in a hotel ballroom.  Marco Rubio made his announcement at the Freedom Tower in Miami, known as the "Ellis Island of the South."
 
The presidency is arguably the most powerful and prestigious office in the world.  Why would its candidates work so hard to be so down-to-earth? 
 
Because we live in the age of social media.  President Obama tweets to his 58 million followers.  Taylor Swift used Tumblr to share that her mother had been diagnosed with cancer.  When we hear from celebrities, we feel we know them.  There was a day when familiarity bred contempt.  Today it breeds loyalty.
 
We want to know our president.  What about our Lord? (Tweet this)
 
I was talking recently with a well-known pastor in our city.  As we discussed the health of the church in our culture, he asked me what I considered the greatest challenge pastors face today.  My answer was simple: staying in love with Jesus.
 
As a pastor for 25 years, I was constantly tempted to focus more on my work than my Lord.  It's been said that people do not do what you expect—they do what you inspect.  Not once in 25 years did a church leader inspect my relationship with Jesus.  I was evaluated by the popularity of my teaching and the effectiveness of the church's programs.  But no one ever asked me if I was in love with Jesus.
 
When I am working for Jesus more than I am walking with him, life becomes drudgerous, people can be frustrating, and the day loses its joy.  But when I am in love with Jesus, everything changes.  He speaks to me and through me.  He gives me his grace and patience for people.  He infuses my spirit with his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  Even—especially—in the hard places, I experience his presence and power.
 
Nothing we do in human strength frightens Satan.  Human words cannot change human hearts. (Tweet this) This Cultural Commentary will have no enduring value unless Jesus inspires its words and his Spirit uses them for divine purposes.  Nor will anything you do today last beyond today unless Jesus makes your temporal work eternally significant.
 
Here's the good news: you can know Jesus more intimately than you know your spouse or your best friend.  Your risen Lord is praying for you right now (Romans 8:34) and knocking at the door of your heart (Revelation 3:20).  If you ask him to make himself real to you, he will.  Then the Bible will speak to your spirit as his Spirit speaks to your heart.  Prayer will become communion.  The day's events will become opportunity for divine revelation.  All because the living Christ is alive in you, changing you and changing the world through you.
 
When last did you ask Jesus to make himself real to you?  Paul summarized his life purpose simply: "I want to know Christ" (Philippians 3:10).  Do you?
 
 
Publication date: April 15, 2015

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.

Follow Crosswalk.com