To Glorify Christ – Christ is the true head of the church and we seek to glorify Him and worship Him. (Jude 1:25)
To Reach the lost with the true gospel of Jesus by sharing our story of salvation and the story of Christ’s sacrifice. (Mark 8:35)
To Imitate Christ in every aspect of life and share with him in his sufferings. (Phil 3:10)
To Pursue a life of spiritual discipline and obedience to God’s written word. (Heb 12:8)

(Formerly Gateway International Student Ministries)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

7 deadly: LUST

The secret, dirty, unspeakable thing that we just don't want to talk about. Well, here it is...

Lust - uncontrollable desire, raging hormones and thoughts, dirty secrets, impure thoughts... there's a ton of common definitions about sex and lust.

What has the church taught you about sex?
Just say no.
Don't do it.
Wait until marriage.
It's dirty.
It's good.

Where have you learned the most about sex?

Media in general

Do you think the church should be involved in teaching about sex?
A little, but not really

Who knows the most about sex?

Based on these questions and the answers you gave listed here, what kind of view do people have about sex and sexuality?

Well, God teaches us about sex, sexuality, and lust. It's right there for our reading in the Bible. Period. We just don't look there for our views. All we do is say "don't". As a church, we have failed to TEACH you the proper means to deal with your sexuality. If we are to base our sexuality on what God says (since He created it, you know) then we as a church need to address it, you the student, your parents, and us as your church leaders. All that said, we want you to come to us with any questions. You can still count on us to be confidential, but you can count on us giving you a TRUE account of what's happening in you because we will never, ever base our counsel on the sinful view of sex. (Parents: this goes for you, too. Talk to us about your concerns! Your kids are bombarded every single day by tens of thousands of sexual images and messages - there are statistics, seriously. We have a lot of catching up to do!)

So here we go...

Lust is simply this - Satan's twist of God's love. Get it? God created love, Satan comes along and twists it. Love always gives. Lust always takes. Love is what causes us to make sacrifices, to see things as beautiful, to appreciate the things around us. Lust is just the opposite. Lust causes us to want to take away from others, to think you deserve what you want, to see people as objects, to think that others "owe" you certain actions.

The Bible says that our body is the temple of God. Christ dwells in us. If we would really recognize that we are walking temples, carrying with us the presence and image of God, then we might be able to combat this lust thing. But really remembering this concept takes a lot of practice. We have to meditate on this and really make it apart of us. If we don't think about this, and study it, and pray about it, and really seek God to help us, then we will be doomed to fail. Why? Because "don't have sex" and "don't lust" are just rules with no meaning. They are not a part of who we are.

Look at our culture, it's a one-night stand, let's hook up, I'm only dating 2 people and 9 others online...

It's crazy.

Ok, all of this "meditate on God" stuff sounds good, but what do I do when I'm faced with lust. Seriously. Every time I see ________ I have really bad thoughts. Every time I'm online, I just can't stay away from the temptations.

Unfortunately there's not easy answer. You have to make a choice to live your life as a sacrifice to God - in everything. If our thoughts about the opposite gender do not honor God, then they are sinful.

One of you asked how to know the difference between lust and love. If I'm married, and I just want sex with my wife, is that lust or love? Well, the easy answer is not easy. Although sex is OK in marriage, you can also lust in marriage. The question actually needs us to examine our heart. Are you (remember, you're married) looking at you wife as an object or as the person you love? That's the key. It's a matter of the heart. Now that's in a committed, marriage relationship. OK, what about in your non-married relationships. You can love and desire your boyfriend or girlfriend, but you have to be extra careful. You are not married. Sex is FOR marriage only. You can really spend a lot of time or effort dreaming about this. That's when you are sneaking right into the lust category. Do you see the difference?

Love seeks to develop a relationship that involves sacrifice and giving.
Lust seeks to get what you desire and sees the other person as your object of love.
You have to remind yourself that lust is Satan's perversion of God's love.

Lust is when we try to fill our need for love (relationship) with something physical (sex).

Did you know that the emptiness we are trying to fill with sexuality is often our lack of relationship with God. We are so desperate for REAL LOVE (which only can come from our creator) that we try anything to fill that empty spot. It usually starts with small compromises and then grows into huge, uncontrollable lust. You've seen people on the news convicted of really gross things. Do you think they wanted that a long time ago? Probably not. They made little decisions to get pleasure and they eventually couldn't stop. It's not a disease. It's a lack of something we see in scripture - SELF-CONTROL.

Jesus gave us a great example to deal with lust. Remember the woman caught in adultery? What did Jesus do?

1. He forgave her. Forgiveness is huge for us, as Christians. If we lust, we have to forgive ourselves, not hate ourselves. We have to seek God's forgiveness.
2. He gave her power. He told her to go and not sin anymore. That right there should be a great reminder that we have the ability to stop sinning. If you have a problem with lust, listen to Jesus. GO and sin NO MORE! WOW!

Here's a few ways to stop or prevent lust.
1. We determine to be free from lust with the help of Christ.
2. We keep our bodies holy, as a sacrifice to God. We respect our bodies and others.
3. We have to remember that sex is sacred and it is God's gift to us.

4. We constantly remind ourselves of these things by reading scripture, praying, leaving little notes in your purse/wallet, discussing it with a respected adult.

5. We get an accountability partner - someone of the same gender who will get in our business about our private habits.

6. What else can you think of as a help for you?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

7 deadly: GLUTTONY

Gluttony isn't so bad. You gotta eat, right?

Philippians 3: 19 talks about folks whose "god is their belly." Woah. Keep reading and he says "their glory is in their shame." That's a reference to sensuality - sex. What do you think about that? Right before this, in verse 18, he explains that these people are enemies of the cross. !!! Now, that sounds serious.

Is the sin of gluttony only referring to food, overeating? NO! We've got to look at this sin from the whole perspective. Gluttony is the sin of over-indulgence. Not just food, but other pleasures, too. You can look anywhere around the good ol' USA and see gluttony of all sorts. Americans are horribly obese. We have very high rates of deseases that are related to our poor eating habits. America has an extremely high level of personal bankrupcy. Our garages are so full we can't even park our car in there. Although Gluttony typically refers to consuming too much food or drink, it actually is consuming too much of anything.

Gluttony is the sin of TOO MUCH.

What do you have too much of?
What consumes most of your time?
Your thoughts?
Your money?

You see, what we consume (food, drink, drugs, money, tv, music, video games) can eventually consume us. Example: people used to eat so they could live, but now we live to eat. You get the difference? Remember, we're not just talking food.

Any time you do something to satisfy your desire for more, that's gluttony. Gluttony is the desire, the unquenchable thirst, for more. It you trying to feed your soul with food for the body. Get it? The soul needs spiritual food (God, Christ, scripture, etc.) but we try to fill our emptiness with food for the body (cake, huge sub snadwiches, super duper sized meals, gallon size drinks, etc.).

Another thing, gluttony is a distraction. It makes you focus on your wants rather than seeing the people all around you that are starving to death. Think about it. Not only do we miss people starving, we miss people that just need a buck or need some help buying clothes, we miss people who are homeless, people who are abused, people who really just don't know what to do to live.

Even Jesus was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard. He hung out with sinners, drank wine, ate with people all the time. But the key is Jesus understood the difference between a feast and excessive eating. A feast is a celebration that brings people together in community. Excessive eating often happens in private or with just a few.

Getting rid of gluttony...
Simple - give up whatever you are over-endulging.

Eating too much? Fast, take your lunch to someone on the street.

Watching too much tv? Sell the tv and give the money to someone that needs to pay their electric bill.

Seriously. This is a great way to fast, not just food, but our cunsuming habits, too.

Buying lot's of clothes every month? STOP - buy someone clothes at the women's shelter.

Don't forget to read Matthew 11:19

And here's a bonus to remember - when you live with less, you have more. Less stuff to take care of, clean, replace, mess around with = more time to think, to reason, to seek God, to know Christ and more opportunity to change the people around you!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

7 deadly: GREED


The American Way.

Greed is the belief that everything belongs to you.
That you have a God-given right to whatever you want.
That you deserve the same things and accomplishments as someone else.

Greed is what causes us to make what we want (a new car, Wii, iPhone, popularity) and turn that want into a NEED. Do you NEED those things we just listed? NO!

Greed is what has caused us Christians to believe that the Christian life is "the good life", you know, easy street. Yeah. Right. Where is that in scripture? Do you know? I haven't found it yet. We've got Christians running around telling people that it's your God-given right to have riches. Yuck!

Of all the videos we viewed, the one on Kenneth Copeland's ministry brought the most comments. Why? We heard that "the news media was twisting things about Copeland because they are just attacking Christians." There was quite a bit of discussion on that.

Here's the question we left you to think about...

Why are we, as Christians, so quick to defend the actions of someone who calls themselves "Christian" without even considering that they may be in the wrong?

And one more...

Do you remember where the verses are that talk about Christians holding each other to a true standard? Can you find them? Do a little search in your Concordance for the word judge (remember to read the whole paragraph!) and read 1 Tomothy 4 & 1 Timothy 6:20-21.