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31 Days of Purity
March 20, 2014

Through the month of March, I am inviting you to 31 Days of Purity—thirty-one days of thinking about and praying for sexual purity. Each day features a short passage of Scripture, a reflection on that passage, and a brief prayer. Here is day twenty:

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. (1 Samuel 11:2) 

A king walking on the roof and gazing over his kingdom is not an unusual scenario. It is not even unusual that he might catch a glimpse of something that he should not be seeing. But what is unusual in this story is given to us in verse 1. David is leisurely strolling across his roof and gazing across his kingdom during “the time when kings go out to battle”. It is the season for battle but David is having his own season of leisure. As the text says, “David remained at Jerusalem”.

You can likely relate to David’s story. Some of our greatest sins take place in times of boredom and inactivity. What Spurgeon once said is demonstrably true, “Idle people tempt the devil to tempt them.” One of the antidotes to a life given to impurity is the grace of meaningful work. It is difficult to be consumed with sexual impurity when you are consumed with gospel work. Let us pray that the Lord would help us “approve what is vital” and give our energies to that which is eternal.

Father, thank you for your gift of work. Thank you for involving us in your purpose to fill the world with passionate worshippers. I confess that far too often my mind and heart are focused on much smaller things. At times my heart is driven towards comfort and ease. When my brothers and sisters are “doing battle” I’m “remaining at Jerusalem”. Stir up in my heart a passion to pursue the vital things in life. Keep me from flitting away my time on fleeting pleasure and to pursue your eternal kingdom. Amen. 


What Now? Consider joining our 31 Days of Purity Facebook group. It is optional, but you will find it a good place to go for discussion and encouragement. (Note: that Facebook group is for men only; here is one for Women Supporting Men).

Todays devotional was prepared by Mike Leake. Mike is associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Jasper, IN. He and his wife, Nikki have 2 children (Isaiah and Hannah). Mike is the author of Torn to Heal and regularly blogs at mikeleake.net.

Outrage Porn
March 19, 2014

Outrage sells. It’s plain as day. If eyeballs on articles are the currency of new media, there are few things that attract those eyeballs more effectively than outrage. In the wider cultural context of new media there is always lots to work with: Alec Baldwin’s homophobia, Steve Martin’s racism, Patton Oswalt’s insensitivity. It goes on and on. There is always someone saying something dumb or unwise, and new media’s response is immediate, fiery indignation.

We as Christians are also easily outraged. Sometimes we seem to forget that we are sinful people living in a sin-stained world and that sinners—even saved ones—will behave like sinners. Sometimes we appear to hold the people we admire (or admired) to the impossible standard of perfection. We don’t mind if our historical heroes are deeply flawed, but we can barely tolerate the slightest imperfection in our contemporary heroes. When they fail, or even when they falter, we respond with, you guessed it: outrage. For a few days we light the torches and lift the pitchforks in our empty protests. And then we move on.

[Aside: I wrote this article last week, so don’t think that any event that happened this week was the catalyst.]

A new term is entering the lexicon to describe this phenomenon. They call it outrage porn. Like pornography, this kind of outrage is ultimately self-centered and self-gratifying. One person calls it “self-gratification through feigned indignation.” Even when it isn’t feigned, there is still that element of selfishness, of self-pleasure, in it. The outrage isn’t for them, it’s for us. We feel better for having done it, for having participated in it. It is expiating in a sick sense. With the outrage behind me, I am satisfied that I have done my bit, and now I can move on to the next thing. Expressing outrage is almost a kind of brand loyalty—we are outraged together in this common cause.

I know it because I’ve done it. I know it because, as a blogger, I am especially prone to it. If we really are in an attention economy in which eyeballs on articles are our primary currency, then I, as the proprietor of a web site, will find myself tempted to do whatever it takes to attract those eyeballs. I’ve done it and it has worked. It works because I, as the writer, want it, and it works because you, as the reader, want it. We’re in this together.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are times for controlled outrage and indignation. Absolutely there are. Jesus walked into the temple and was full of the most righteous indignation as he turned over tables and scattered coins. His outrage was pure and holy and good and purposeful. When Jesus saw the disciples turning away children, denying them a blessing, he was “indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God’ ” (Mark 10:14). Here it would have been a sin for him to not be outraged.

There are times for outrage. There are times to turn away from leaders who have proven themselves unworthy or unfaithful. There are times to expose the charlatan or the unfaithful and to make a fuss and to raise an outcry for the sake of distancing ourselves and protecting others. But it’s not every time. It’s not all the time.

31 Days of Purity
March 19, 2014

Through the month of March, I am inviting you to 31 Days of Purity—thirty-one days of thinking about and praying for sexual purity. Each day features a short passage of Scripture, a reflection on that passage, and a brief prayer. Here is day nineteen:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:27-30)

In the context of sexual purity, Jesus lays down the challenge of radical action. “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.” We understand that Jesus may not be speaking literally, but this does not indicate that he is suggesting something ridiculous. When we accuse him of exaggeration, we minimize the force of his words, and perhaps give ourselves an out. But Jesus is asking a serious question in this text: Do you love your sexual sin enough to go to hell for it? 

If you are committed to battling sin, you need to be committed to getting rid of those things that lead you to sin. Don’t toy with sin when you should be running fast and far from it. If your iPhone causes you to sin, cut it off; if your computer causes you to sin, gouge it out. As an integral part of your commitment to sexual purity, as a means of gaining victory, take radical action against your sin. What is God telling you to cut off or gouge out?

Father, I pray that I would have the courage and integrity to take radical action. Don’t let me toy with sin. Don’t let me continue to taste of sin and act surprised when I soon feast on it. Keep me from ever thinking lightly of the very sins that required the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Show me where my patterns of sin are so deeply ingrained that I will need to cut something off or gouge something out for my good and your glory.


What Now? Consider joining our 31 Days of Purity Facebook group. It is optional, but you will find it a good place to go for discussion and encouragement. (Note: that Facebook group is for men only; here is one for Women Supporting Men).

31 Days of Purity
March 18, 2014

Through the month of March, I am inviting you to 31 Days of Purity—thirty-one days of thinking about and praying for sexual purity. Each day features a short passage of Scripture, a reflection on that passage, and a brief prayer. Here is day eighteen, which comes courtesy of a guest and friend: Dave Harvey.

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:2)

We hear it all the time, practice “protected sex”! But for the Christian man, protected sex means something much more significant and wonderful than birth control. Enjoying your wife sexually (and inviting her to enjoy you!) is a God-installed sentry for guarding your heart in the fight for purity. Think of it as one of your first lines of defense. God says, “because of the temptation to sexual immorality,” I’m giving you protection—it’s called your spouse. Rather than squandering your sexual desire in pornography and lust, fulfill it by having wonderful, God-honoring sex with your wife. Love her sacrificially and enjoy her often!

And to the unmarried man – “God’s divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), including the power to overcome “the temptation to sexual immorality.” You have not been left without ammunition in the fight! God’s divine power includes the grace to wait patiently for her arrival. Isn’t it just like God to create something we savor and then use it as a shield!

Lord, your ways are magnificent! You gave us marriage to display your character and your care. [For the married man: You gave me a bride so she could be well-loved. You gave me a wife because you care about my weakness. Help me, O God, to cherish this gift and enjoy it often, even today! Not simply because sex protects me, but because the purity of your people glorifies you.] [For the unmarried man: I may not understand why you have given me a sexual appetite without giving me a wife, but I do trust that your power has granted to me all I need for life and godliness. I trust that this includes the powerful to overcome the temptation to sexual immorality. So until the day I can enjoy sex with the wife you provide, I ask that I would be pure.] Amen!


What Now? Consider joining our 31 Days of Purity Facebook group. It is optional, but you will find it a good place to go for discussion and encouragement. (Note: that Facebook group is for men only; here is one for Women Supporting Men).

Todays devotional was prepared by Dave Harvey. Dave serves as Pastor of Preaching at Four Oaks Church in Tallahassee, Florida. He is the author of Am I Called? The Summons to Pastoral Ministry, Rescuing Ambition, and When Sinners Say “I Do”: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage.

31 Days of Purity
March 17, 2014

Through the month of March, I am inviting you to 31 Days of Purity—thirty-one days of thinking about and praying for sexual purity. Each day features a short passage of Scripture, a reflection on that passage, and a brief prayer. Here is day seventeen:

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father,younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2, ESV)

As men, we are trained from a young age to objectify women, to see them not as people created in God’s image, but as objects who exist for our pleasure. As we battle for purity, we trust that God begins to transform our minds, our hearts, and our view of women. It is a wonderful relief when the Lord extends his grace and we begin to see growing evidence that we are putting to death this sin of sexual immorality. Every victory is a victory we ought to celebrate. Yet one victory is not the end point in our quest for personal holiness. The Lord does not call and empower us to merely put off sin, but he also calls and empowers us to put on righteousness.

It is one thing, a very good thing, to stop looking at pornography. It is another thing, a much greater thing, to have the Lord transform and restore our view of women. Apart from his grace we will continue to view women as objects—only this time, they will be objects to be avoided instead of objects to be consumed. The Lord’s aim is much higher. He tells us to view younger women as our sisters in Christ, and older women as our mothers in the Lord. Let us pray that the Lord would transform our view of women, and see them with His eyes.

Father, I thank you for the gift of women. They are fearfully and wonderfully made to uniquely reflect your glory. It grieves me that our culture views your daughters as nothing more than sexual objects. It further grieves me that I have been guilty of joining in this. Lord, captivate my heart and transform my mind in such a way that I view the opposite sex correctly. Let me treat younger women as sisters with all purity, and let me treat older women as mothers with all dignity. Stir up in my heart a deep and holy love for my sisters in Christ. Amen.


What Now? Consider joining our 31 Days of Purity Facebook group. It is optional, but you will find it a good place to go for discussion and encouragement. (Note: that Facebook group is for men only; here is one for Women Supporting Men).

Todays devotional was prepared by Mike Leake. Mike is associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Jasper, IN. He and his wife, Nikki have 2 children (Isaiah and Hannah). Mike is the author of Torn to Heal and regularly blogs at mikeleake.net.

The False Teachers
March 16, 2014

A few weeks ago I set out on a new series of articles through which I intend to scan the history of the church—from its earliest days all the way to the present time—to examine some of Christianity’s most notorious false teachers. Along the way we will visit such figures as Arius, Pelagius, Fosdick, and even a few you might find on television today. We continue this morning with a false teacher—the first woman in the series—who has around 18 million followers in the world today.

Ellen G. White

Ellen Gould Harmon was born on a small farm near the village of Gorham, Maine, on November 26, 1827. Only a few years after her birth, her parents Robert and Eunice Harmon gave up farming to move to the nearby town of Portland where her father became a hat maker. When Ellen was nine she was permanently disfigured when a fellow student maliciously hit her in the head with a rock. The rock put her into a coma that lasted several weeks and forced her to miss a long period of schooling. 

Ellen G WhiteWhen Ellen was twelve, she and her family attended a Methodist camp meeting in Buxton, Maine, and there she had a formative religious experience in which she professed faith in Jesus Christ. In 1840 and 1842 she and her family attended Adventist meetings and become devotees of William Miller. Miller had dedicated himself to the study of biblical prophecy and was convinced that Christ would return on October 22, 1844. When Christ did not return, a non-event that would become known as The Great Disappointment, most people abandoned Adventism. But in the resulting confusion, Ellen claimed to have received visions that were soon accepted as God-given revelation. The small Adventist movement that remained was split by many rifts and much infighting, but Ellen was believed to have a gift that could reunite and guide the movement. Her dreams and visions continued and she quickly became a leader among them.

In 1846, Ellen married a young Adventist preacher named James White and together they traveled extensively, spreading the Adventist faith to New England and beyond. Twelve months later she gave birth to a son, one of four children she would bear, but soon left the child with friends so she could carry on traveling, preaching, and writing.

In 1855 the Whites moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, and that became Adventism’s hub. Five years later, representatives from each Adventist congregation gathered there and determined that henceforth they would be known as Seventh-day Adventists. Soon after they formally organized as a denomination.

All through this time Ellen continued to receive prophetic dreams and visions—some 2,000 during her lifetime—and through them she guided and formed the church. Over her lifetime Testimonies for the Church expanded from a mere sixteen pages to nine full volumes. In 1863 she received a vision about human health and her followers soon adopted her health regulations as part of their practice, rejecting meat, coffee and medication in favor of natural remedies.

31 Days of Purity
March 16, 2014

Through the month of March, I am inviting you to 31 Days of Purity—thirty-one days of thinking about and praying for sexual purity. Each day features a short passage of Scripture, a reflection on that passage, and a brief prayer. Here is day sixteen:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

In the heat of the battle for purity, sexuality can feel like a burden and a curse. We might even find ourselves wishing that God had made us asexual beings, or that he would just take away all those feelings and all those desires. Yet we know that God is a loving Father who looks upon his people with kindness. Far be it from this Father to give us something that is bad for us!

In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul addresses some of the sexual immorality among those people. He rebukes the church for this immorality, and gives them this command: Glorify God in your body. This is a command he gives to the married and to the unmarried. Our sexuality has been entrusted to us as a gift from God. We serve as faithful stewards when we use it only in the ways God intends. For those who are married, that will mean regularly and joyfully enjoying sex with your wife; for those who are unmarried it will mean regularly and joyfully denying yourself those physical desires. In either case, it is God who owns our bodies, not us; it is God who owns our sexuality, not us. My brother, be a faithful steward of what God has entrusted to you. 

Father, you tell me that I can and must glorify you in my body. I believe that you have given sexuality to me as a gift. I may not always understand why you have done this because it does not always feel like a gift. But I do understand that you are good and kind and that you love me. I pray that I would be a faithful steward of this gift, that in that final day you would look at how I have stewarded this gift and say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


What Now? Consider joining our 31 Days of Purity Facebook group. It is optional, but you will find it a good place to go for discussion and encouragement. (Note: that Facebook group is for men only; here is one for Women Supporting Men).

31 Days of Purity
March 15, 2014

Through the month of March, I am inviting you to 31 Days of Purity—thirty-one days of thinking about and praying for sexual purity. Each day features a short passage of Scripture, a reflection on that passage, and a brief prayer. Here is day fifteen: 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

The New Testament knows nothing of the lone Christian—the man who claims to be a believer but who deliberately or carelessly allows himself to drift from the local church. Just as the wolf will prowl outside the flock of sheep, looking for the one that strays from the shepherd, Satan prowls the church, looking for the people who stray from Christian fellowship. Every Christian is dependent upon the local church and we neglect it to our peril, for it is in the church that we powerfully experience the means of grace God gives us—the Word, prayer and the sacraments (or ordinances). We cannot thrive or even survive without them. Neither should we expect to.

It is also within the church that we uniquely experience the joy of imitating Christ in putting aside our own desires in order to love and serve others. And so, my brother, don’t simply go to church: Be an active, serving, participating member of that church. Do not expect that you will be able to put sin to death or to pursue holiness without the local church.

Father, I am grateful for the gift of the local church. I am grateful that through the church I am able to experience those wondrously ordinary means of grace. I am grateful that you led me to my church, and I pray that you would help me to commit to it more and more, that I would love the people you bring there, that I would have deep and meaningful friendships there, that I would faithfully serve your people by stirring them up to love and good works.


What Now? Consider joining our 31 Days of Purity Facebook group. It is optional, but you will find it a good place to go for discussion and encouragement. (Note: that Facebook group is for men only; here is one for Women Supporting Men).

31 Days of Purity
March 14, 2014

Through the month of March, I am inviting you to 31 Days of Purity—thirty-one days of thinking about and praying for sexual purity. Each day features a short passage of Scripture, a reflection on that passage, and a brief prayer. Here is day fourteen:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2, ESV)

God’s Word cuts and cuts deep. This kind of cutting doesn’t always feel like a blessing to those who are living in impurity. It hurts. It convicts. It wounds as it penetrates our hearts and exposes our sin. God’s Word lays us bare before Yahweh. But it also strengthens and sustains. God’s Word is the weapon that He wields (and that we wield) in our fight against impurity. It is through His powerful Word that mountains melt like wax. It was through His powerful Word that your heart came alive. And it will be through His powerful Word that our impure hearts will be transformed into the likeness of His Son.

If we want a passion for God, it will only come through a passion for God’s Word. If we want to be rescued from the land of scoffers and the counsel of the wicked, then we’ll want to position ourselves under God’s Word. It is here that our delight in God will grow. Therefore, let us pray that the Lord would give us an abiding passion for His Word.

Father, we thank you for your Word. Though it slays me I know that it also restores me. I know that naturally I do not have a passion for your Word. I will not drift into reading and meditating upon your Word. I certainly will not naturally treasure it. But through your Spirit the Word will be a delight to my heart. So, God I pray that you would incline my heart to you. Give me an abiding passion for your Word, a passion unlike any I have known before. Use your Word to conquer my sin and unbelief. 


What Now? Consider joining our 31 Days of Purity Facebook group. It is optional, but you will find it a good place to go for discussion and encouragement. (Note: that Facebook group is for men only; here is one for Women Supporting Men).

Todays devotional was prepared by Mike Leake. Mike is associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Jasper, IN. He and his wife, Nikki have 2 children (Isaiah and Hannah). Mike is the author of Torn to Heal and regularly blogs at mikeleake.net.

March 13, 2014

The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, is meant to be an ongoing crusade that will continue for many generations. Situated on the same property as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the library opened in 2007 and is neither a museum nor a memorial. Rather, it is an extension of the evangelistic ministry that Graham carried out for so many years. The building, notable for its giant cross-shaped door, is meant to expose visitors to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Among the many items it houses is an unusual and fascinating relic of Graham’s famed 1957 New York Crusade—a prayer wheel. And this, Billy Graham’s prayer wheel, is the next (and second to last) of the twenty-five objects through which we are exploring the history of Christianity. 

Billy Graham played a crucial role in the emergence and definition of Evangelicalism as we know it today. Evangelicalism emerged as a reaction to the belligerent Fundamentalists whose desire for doctrinal purity led them to separate from other Christians. Where Fundamentalists were primarily concerned with pure doctrine, Graham and other Evangelicals were far more concerned with conversions and cultural impact. “They wanted not only to win the world for Christ, but also to rejuvenate conservative Protestant intellectual culture and earn the respect of the secular intelligentsia. These were the core aims of organizations like the National Association of Evangelicals (founded in 1943), Fuller Theological Seminary (1947), the Evangelical Theological Society (1949) and Christianity Today (1956)” (source).

A key part of Evangelical strategy was the evangelistic crusade. History will remember Billy Graham as the greatest of the crusaders, and no crusade was more important than the one in New York in 1957.

New York CrusadeThe New York crusade was originally planned to last 6 weeks, beginning May 15, 1957. However, by the time it came to an end, it had lasted for 16 weeks, nearly three times longer than planned. Over that time Graham preached at 114 services and rallies, 98 of them in Madison Square Garden. But the impact carried far beyond New York City. Beginning on June 1, the final hour of each Saturday evening service was broadcast nationwide by ABC and the response was overwhelming, with an estimated audience of 6.5 million viewers. While 18,000 people were experiencing the crusade live in Madison Square Garden, millions more were watching it on television. From this point onward, television would be a major component in every crusade.

The crusade ended at last with an open-air sermon on Sunday, September 1 at Broadway and 42nd Street. Between 60,000 and 75,000 packed the nearby blocks to hear Graham preach on the unknown God. And then, at last, the crusade was over.

Graham’s New York crusade had generated massive crowds, but also massive waves of critiques. Liberal Protestants were bothered that Graham’s kind of evangelism was not concerned with social justice, but only with conversions. Meanwhile, Fundamentalists, led by Bob Jones Sr., were concerned that Graham’s ecumenism led to a diluted message and opened the possibility that converts would be sent not to sound churches, but to Catholic or Liberal churches. Graham continually insisted that he would accept support and assistance from anyone, as long as they did not hinder his message. This crusade marked the final break with many of his Fundamentalist supporters and Evangelicalism’s final distancing with Liberalism.

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