I’m excited to announce my first column as a guest blogger on www.XXXchurch.com is posted! You can check it out at the link below:
As Christians many of us don’t know exactly what to do with the Passover holiday.
Isn’t it only a Jewish tradition?
I’d like to take a look at this important holiday and maybe give you a fresh way to look at it in your life today.
You may recall the 1956 classic movie The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston playing Moses. Although Cecil B DeMille took artist license with some of the story, most of it is taken directly from Old Testament accounts of the Israelite’s deliverance from 400 years of slavery.
No doubt it will be shown this week on cable. If you haven’t seen it or it’s been a while since you have, I encourage you to watch it with you family this week. The visuals from this movie help me to have a clearer perspective on the reality of the Passover and its importance.
In this story, God has heard the cry of the Israelite people who have been bound by slavery to the Egyptians for hundreds of years. A series of events leads Moses, who has grown up as a Prince in Egypt, out into the wilderness.
God comes to Moses in a burning bush and asks him to go rescue the Israelites and lead them out of Egypt. After some initial doubt, Moses agrees. He goes before Pharaoh multiple times asking for the Israelite’s freedom to leave so they can worship God. Pharaoh denies them their freedom.
With each of Pharaoh’s denials God brings upon Egypt 10 plagues:
1. All the water in Egypt turned to blood
2. Frogs covered the land
3. All of Egypt was swarmed with gnats
4. Then a swarm of flies
5. All the livestock dies
6. All the people broke out in boils
7. A hail storm killed all the plants and animals
8. Locust covered Egypt and ate what was left after the hail
9. Three days of such darkness that no one could move
10. Death of all first born including people and animals
During the first 9 plagues God protected the Israelite people. But for the final plague-Death of the Firstborn– the Israelite people had to take an action to protect themselves.
Before the Death Angel came, God commanded the Israelites to put blood from an unblemished, first born lamb, over the door posts of each home; this would protect them from death.
Inside their homes, the Israelites ate a meal of roast lamb, bitter herbs and bread made without yeast. They ate bitter herbs to signify the bitterness of slavery. Unleavened bread; because the dough didn’t have to rise.
The meal was to be eaten while dressed for travel as a sign of their faith that God would deliver them. Although they were not yet free, they were to be prepared, for God had said he would lead them out of the bondage of Egyptian slavery. The Israelites were ready to leave at any time.
I’m sure you know the rest of the story, the Death Angel comes; the Pharaoh’s son dies then in his grief finally agrees to let the Israelites leave.
So what can we take from this story and apply to our modern lives today?
What lesson is here for us?
For us who are recovering addicts…?
For us who have overcome a particular challenge in our lives?
For us who have been freed from our own bondage?
Since Jesus was Jewish, he celebrated all the Jewish traditions. As followers of Jesus doesn’t it make since that we would celebrate those same traditions as well.
I suggest we take the Passover holiday and use it as an opportunity to celebrate the freedom that God has given us. Maybe have a Passover dinner with lamb, unleavened bread and some bitter herbs. I don’t mean in a legalistic way but simply to honor what God has done in our lives.
I don’t know about you, but the Death Angel has passed me by several times!
I am free today from the bondage of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, from sexual and relationship addiction, from the grips of pornography, fantasy and disease.
Father God, thank you for sending Jesus Christ; The Perfect Lamb, and covered me with The Blood that saved me from the ultimate Death.
Let’s use Passover as a memorial to the freedom God has given us.
What bondage has God freed you from?
What can you do to remember the freedom God has given you?
Maybe you aren’t yet free of your bondage?
What can you do as a sign of your faith that God will bring you out as He has promised?
I’m excited to announce that I’ll be writing as a freelance/guest blogger for the www.XXXChurch.com ministry starting sometime in April!
For those of you unfamiliar, XXXChurch has been on the leading edge, tackling the porn industry from the inside, for 8 years now. In 2002, when I was heavily in my own sin/addiction I ran across their site one day when I was surfing for porn. I immediately thought it must be a joke.
It’s far from a joke. The founders Craig Gross and Jake Larson started simply by showing up at the renown Las Vegas Porn convention with their own booth, telling the porn stars and producers that Jesus loves them no matter what they have done. The ministry has grown so much that now they’ve started, among other things, the Strip Church which is reaching Sin City with the love of Jesus Christ.
Three years after I first heard of XXXChurch, I got free myself from sexual addiction and have followed their ministry closely hoping to one day partner with them in the fight against pornography. Praise God! That day has arrived!
For my friends who’ve been with me so far, buckle up, this ride is about to get really exciting. God has opened a huge door for my ministry, one I’ve been anxiously waiting for.
More details to come soon…
Earlier this week I posted a blog. OK, that’s not big news, it’s what God taught me after the post that’s so cool.
Since I started writing my blog two years ago, I’ve been focusing on trying to become a better writer, post on a somewhat regular basis and grow my reader base.
For those who know me or have been following me for any time, you know Bill and I have moved multiple times in the last 3 years. (6 moves to be exact!) Needless to say, that can put a cramp in anyone’s writing style or schedule.
When I did get a chance to write, I would take several hours of an afternoon, armed with the inspiration God had given me and set out to write the best blog possible.
Carefully, consciously, creatively crafting…
Occasionally I get discouraged. Even though a lot of women follow me, I’ve only had a couple of comments post to my blogs these two years.
No long ago I found out that to post a comment on my blog you must sign up for a Gmail account because Blogger is a Google product. This has kept many readers from posting comments.
To deal with the Google issue I contracted with Feed Blitz to distribute my blogs in an email newsletter to my followers. That’s going well; my reader number continues to grow, but still little response.
Now to this week’s post…
On Tuesday instead of spending hours carefully crafting my blog, I just sat down and blurted out what was on my heart in about 15 minutes.
I’ve gotten several phone calls and multiple emails in response to that post.
What’s the lesson learned here???
Don’t try so hard.
Set a timer.
Go with the flow.
Share from my heart.
Trust the Lord, He’s in control!
It’s for Him that I write anyway!
It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted a blog, so I must apologize for my silence.
I was sick for almost two weeks; during that time and since, I’ve been having technical difficulties with my computer.
Now that the sickness has subsided and my computer is pretty much back to normal, I hope to get my writing schedule in sync too.
These last few days I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with the task at hand…
So many books I need and want to read. So much to say to the many women who need reaching. I feel like I’m running behind. Getting discouraged because I don’t seem to be making any real progress.
One of the books I’m currently reading is You Were born for This: 7 Keys to a Life of Predictable Miracles by Bruce Wilkinson; best known as the author of The Prayer of Jabez.
During my most recent slump- today, I read:
“If you’re determined to serve people for the sake of people, you’ll eventually burn out and quit…. you’ve been called to serve God–and that’s always worth it. But one of the ways you serve Him is by serving others. You have to keep your eyes on Him, because otherwise you won’t last. Once you’re focused on serving and pleasing God, the rest becomes irrelevant.”
It dawned on me–
Why am I doing what I am doing?
For the hurting women; for the head knowledge from all the books I read; or because I’ve been called by God to serve Him in whatever way He wants to use me?
Joyce Meyer aptly puts it this way: Frustration=Works of the Flesh
In other words, if I’m getting frustrated maybe I’m trying to do something in my own power and strength not depending on God’s guidance, strength or power to get me through.
Today, I will re-access my goals, back up a bit and prayerfully see where God leads me from there.
The main thing I want is to be available to be used by God; if I’m overwhelmed, out of focus or discouraged, I’m certainly of no use to Him or anyone else for that matter.
I appreciate your prayers as I labor to rest in the Lord, to keep my focus on Him and not the tasks at hand, to know that He will bring about what He wants me to do in His perfect timing.
Since I’m a married woman, you may be wondering…
“Tamara, why are you writing on chastity?”
I’m reading an excellent book by John Michael Talbot – The Lessons of St. Francis-How to Bring Simplicity and Spirituality into Your Daily Life, where Talbot discusses how to apply the spiritual disciplines taught by St. Francis in our modern world and relationships.
As I was reading the chapter on chastity I was prompted to write a blog that relates chastity to the challenges sex addicts face today.
With the hyper-sexualized media that’s thrown at us today, many are desensitized. From fashion magazine at the grocery checkout, to billboards on the freeway, to commercials on TV. It’s almost impossible to avoid the near naked images of provocatively posed models vying for our eyes and pocketbooks.
For some of us, this is a serious battle, continuously waged; always careful to look away, preventing possible triggers from being set off. Sober now 5 years from sexual addiction, Praise God today these images are not a big problem; not that I dare let my guard down.
Jesus said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman [or man] lustfully has already committed adultery in his [her] heart.”-Matt. 5:28
I take these words very seriously, because I know it only takes one look to lead to… a fantasy, which, if meditated on long enough, can easily be acted out on.
Chastity, along with celibacy, is usually seen as something only practiced by men and women who’ve made specific vows to God.
I’d like to challenge that thinking with the idea of celibacy and chastity to heal or improve sex in a marriage relationship.
Celibacy is critical in the very early days of sex addiction recovery. It’s important the sex addict refrain from all sexual stimulation for a period of 3-6 months, this may vary by individual. (includes sex in the marriage and self-sex). For an addict beginning recovery this is very difficult, but crucial to recovery.
Chastity in a marriage can be as simple as cherishing your sexuality as a gift from God, using it in appropriate holy ways that respect God and your mate, resisting any temptation, no matter how small, when they come your way.
Our marriage relationships are tender gardens that need to be cared for. If we’re not careful, the weeds of fantasy and comparison can easily tear down any healthy growth, if not kill it completely.
Talbot writes from an interesting perspective on sexuality:
“I’ve personally lived through at least three completely different approaches to sex: the freewheeling sensuality readily available to a rock musician; the cleansing fire and spiritual passion of repentance and sexual abstinence; and the rejuvenating joy of marriage, a union through which the church has long honored sex as a sacrament, and which helps me see sexuality as sacred and God-given.”
Talbot further notes that many people don’t remain faithful in their marriages because they never learned the value of sexual control.
I heartily agree with this last statement and will even go further to say, when you make a covenant with your eyes, to not look at another person with lust, examining them like they were the roast about to be served up for lunch, you’ll have more desire for the mate God has given you.
If marriage was respected as the sacred covenant that it is, with its vows taken as seriously as our brothers and sisters who take a vow of celibacy, we’d have much healthier sexual relationships.
Similar to Talbot, I’ve lived through three different worldviews of sexuality:
- Relational – sex is part of a loving relationship; without commitment to marriage
- Recreational – sex is purely for pleasure; dispenses with romance and spirituality
- Traditional – sex is exclusive with mutual respect; emphasizes lifelong commitment
For most of my life I used sex to substitute unmet emotional and spiritual needs.
After trying all the world has to offer, sexually speaking, I tell you today, without a doubt, sex kept simply between a husband and wife, with no toys, no fantasies, no porn; is better than any orgy, better than being hyped up on drugs using every toy one can imagine.
If you would’ve asked me 5 years ago:
“Is ‘Meth sex’ possible without the Meth?” I would’ve said, “NO WAY!”
Today, I tell you it is! Because with God, ALL THINGS are possible!!
By God’s grace and mercy, practicing the discipline of chastity in mind, soul and body, God has not only restored my marriage but continues to renew our desires in ways we could never have imagined before sexual sobriety.
If you struggle with sexual sin or are just playing with the idea of it, I want you to know first of all you are not alone.
Millions of women struggle with sexual sin even in the church.
Find someone you trust and share your struggle with them; that’s the first step to freedom.
Whether you’re single or married; one who struggles with sex or not; I encourage you to make a covenant of purity with your eyes, your heart and your mind.
It will change your life!
Question: What’s your world view of sex? How important is chastity to you? What are you doing to maintain a pure heart and mind?
Reviewed by Tamara Mapp
Posted February 26, 2010
I recently joined a new kind of book club: BookSneeze. As a member I receive a free book in exchange for an honest review on my blog. Upon joining it didn’t take me long to choose Free Book by Brian Tome because I agree with every word in the subtitle:
“I am a fanatic about freedom. And I’m fanatical about coming at you hard in this book. I’m tired of seeing people beaten down by the world’s systems and by religion. I’m sick of seeing people live safe, predictable lives while their God-given passions die. I hate the assumption that getting close to God means more rules and restrictions. No more. God’s offering real freedom. Get yours.”- Brian Tome
Brian takes a little different approach to the subject of freedom. You may not agree with everything he says; but give him credit, he passionately covers all areas of life & how to walk out a life of freedom. This was an excellent book. I highly recommend it for those who are serious about living Free!
Here are a few of the topics he discusses:
- Be Void of Fear – cast off whatever hinders you; go after the grand adventure of experiencing God while you experience all of life.
- Be Who God Designed You to Be – live free of condemnation & others’ concern; develop a healthy conscience; not allowing your past to taint your present or future.
- Jesus: the Ultimate Freedom Giver – freedom requires a decision to follow someone; it’s about the one who’s leading you and the way you choose to follow.
- Ride the Forgiveness Freeway – staying free means going with the flow of forgiveness; the more we give the more we receive.
- Live an Unbalanced Life – instead of over committing & striving for balance in multiple areas, throw your weight behind one focused effort; push to experience the fullness of God’s blessings.
Don’t go through life burdened by strongholds and fear; struggling with relationships or finances.
Experience the grace and truth with which Christ brings us True Freedom!
Read Free Book by Brian Tome.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
My husband and I had the opportunity to phone conference today with another ministry. Freedom Begins Here is an organization focused on putting much needed resources in the hands of churches and individuals to curb the pornography epidemic we are facing in our culture today. This week on their site they blogged about a men’s ministry leadership conference they attended recently:
“The epidemic of pornography (now in the church) was mentioned at least 4 or 5 times by the speakers from the stage. The struggles that Christians face in regard to this temptation and stronghold as well as the enormity of the crisis were thoroughly addressed. Yet, very few came by the Freedom Begins Here booth to learn how this may be dealt with in their men’s group or church. Very few were looking for resources, plans, ideas, or thoughts. Why? Is it fear? Is it a refusal to face the truth? Is it because it is hard to deal with real issues as opposed to just talking about them? Were they struggling with this issue themselves? Did that make them believe that they, therefore, can’t address it in a group? Or, do they just really not care? I do not know.”- www.freedombeginshere.org/blog/talk-is-cheap
Christian Churches: Pornography Statistics http://www.archomaha.org/pastoral/se/pdf/PornStats.pdf
• 51% of pastors say cyber-pornography is a possible temptation,
• 37% say it is a current struggle. (Christianity Today, Leadership Survey, 12/2001)
• Over half of evangelical pastors admit viewing pornography last year.
• 20% of the calls received on the Pastoral Care Line are for help with issues such as pornography and compulsive sexual behavior.
• 33% of clergy admitted to having visited a sexually explicit Web site. Of those who had visited a pornography site,
· 53% had visited such sites “a few times” in the past year, and 18% visit sexually explicit sites between a couple of times a month and more than once a week.
• 29% of born again adults in the U.S. feel it is morally acceptable to view movies with explicit sexual behavior. (The Barna Group)
• 57% of pastors say that addiction to pornography is the most sexually damaging issue to their congregation. (Christians and Sex Leadership Journal Survey, March 2005)
The church as a whole isn’t being proactive and won’t until ministers and pastors start addressing it directly from the pulpit. The above numbers are very dated and unfortunately, we don’t have any more current numbers. So we can only imagine what the statistics would be today. Considering that, I don’t see pulpits addressing addiction across the board anytime soon.
My personal barometer: If a pastor isn’t addressing porn there’s a good chance he or she has a personal porn problem.
With most things change begins at a “grassroots” or lay person level and moves up. It’s up to us to call our pastors and leadership to accountability. But with over 50% of the grassroots/lay membership addicted to porn most don’t care about dealing with it either! With so much shame and embarrassment attached to the issue people are afraid to even discuss it.
What we have here is the typical AA ‘invisible elephant’ that no one wants to talk about. Instead of the elephant being in a family living room, it’s in the church sanctuary.
As a minister called by God to address this issue head on, I believe if we are going to even begin to make a dent in our country’s #1 addiction, the pandemic that’s destroying lives and families, we must hold our pastors and leadership to a higher standard. To make our churches what they should be, a safe place where hurting men and women can come to find healing and wholeness. It’s not about shaming or condemning anyone. It’s about sharing the freedom only found in Jesus Christ.
At all times we must remember Jesus cared just as much about the woman at the well as he did any other person he came in contact with.
My question to you today: IS YOUR CHURCH TAKING A PROACTIVE STAND AGAINST PORNOGRAPHY?
Is your pastor or leadership team addressing sexual addiction at all from the pulpit?
How is your church addressing this critical need in your community?
If so what are they saying and doing?
Please give me your feedback.
Seriously, I want to know!
Many of us are in seasons of transition; job, finances, relationships maybe even in our recovery journey. During these times we often feel like we’re treading water; not making much progress but expending a lot of energy just to stay afloat.
The Lord is my light and my salvation-so why should I be afraid? The Lord protects me from danger-so why should I tremble? When evil people come to destroy me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will know no fear. Even if they attack me, I remain confident. The one thing I ask of the Lord- is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; for he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high, above my enemies who surround me. At his Tabernacle I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music. –Ps. 27:1-6 NLT
Let’s find hope in this passage for our struggles:
- Make God Our Stronghold: We must know without any doubt that God is our protector. He will not let us drown!
- Abide with God Daily: Set up camp with God; get in God’s boat, live with Him.
- Be Astonished by God: Stay in awe of God of his love and mercy. Find joy in His creations; delight yourself in Him throughout your day.
- Seek His Fellowship: In God’s presence we will find direction for our life; His shining light with show us the pathway.
- Get the Big Picture: No matter how hard times may be, it helps to keep things in perspective. Look up; see things from God’s viewpoint. He really does have a plan!
It’s important that we learn how to live and act during times of pressure. God wants to be the stabilizer in our lives. If we try to do it on our own we will fail. We must determine, one day at a time, to follow God and His plan for our lives. Patiently waiting; confident that He will protect and lead us all the way to our victory!
Most of us at the beginning of our recovery are feeling wobbly, unstable and unworthy to be in God’s presence; not to mention undeserving of His love, mercy and forgiveness.
How do we get past these feelings & press in to healing?
Summer 2004 I began working on sobriety but had no real strength within myself. I had clear choices in front of me — I could go back down the familiar path of darkness that had caused untold destruction to my family, and would now lead to certain death. Instead I chose to go forward into the life offering, healing light of Jesus Christ.
When I walked down the church isle on December 26, 2004 it was like an out of body experience. I don’t remember what the preacher said that day, I just knew this was the only answer to my problems. I had such a sense of unworthiness that I couldn’t stop crying. It wasn’t an easy step to take, but it brought such peace and security.
When I talk with some in the beginning stages of their recovery, I get frustrated at the lack of commitment I see.
If we are to make it for any length of time in our recovery journey we must have a firm commitment, not only to ourselves, but to God and to what He wants for our lives.
We can’t be on the fence at this crucial time.
We must get to a place of clear decision and dive in with all we have.
This isn’t a foreign concept, after all isn’t that what we’ve been doing, diving in head first into God only knows what?
I don’t know about you, but for me it’s either all the way or nothing, no matter what I’m doing, I don’t do anything halfway! That can be good and a bad thing, if you know what I mean…
But seriously, how determined are we?
What are we willing to give up to be successful in our sobriety?
Early on, I had to make some tough choices about the influences that were sure to effect my walk with God and my sobriety. It was uncomfortable at first but over time I didn’t miss the friends, the television programs, the secular music and the magazines.
Sobriety soon became easier and I began to see an added benefit, I could think clearer and retain the things I was studying. I was actually learning, growing and even changing into a new person…the person God wanted me to be.
Perseverance and determination always pay off.
It may be a while before we see any results from our hard work, but eventually we will reap a reward if we just don’t give up!
Change doesn’t happen over night, after all we didn’t get in this condition of addiction over night either!
Sobriety is a life long process of little deaths — surrendering each day to new patterns for our life.
The best news is we don’t have to do it on our own anymore! Praise God! Jesus is there to carry our burden for us if we will just give it to Him!
Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. –Galatians 6:8-9
(Originally posted Sept 20, 2008)