A Christians Voice From Raymore, Issue 2, Number 2: “Slow Fade”

Last October, I published an article here that focused on the importance of “fireproofing” your relationships. Many of the thoughts presented then were triggered by the movie “Fireproof.” One of the compelling songs from that movie declares,

“Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you’re thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see”

(Sung by Casting Crowns; From the Album THE ALTAR AND THE DOOR

(Mark Hill); Copyright 2007My Refuge Music/Club Zoo Music WECS Music (BMI), all rights administered by EMI CMG Publishing)

This song had great impact in the movie! The song begins playing as Caleb sits down in front of his computer and is being tempted by Internet pornography. The camera cuts away to another scene in which Caleb’s wife, Catherine, is talking to her mother and says, “It makes me feel so humiliated…. When did I stop being good enough for him.”?

Sadly, Internet pornography is a prevalent problem in our culture and in the church! It is a “parasite” that Satan uses to destroy the influence of godly men and to break up faithful, covenant-based marriages!

“A parasite is anything that latches onto you or your partner and sucks the life our of your marriage. They’re usually in the form of addictions, like gambling, drugs, or pornography. They promise pleasure but grow like a disease and consume more and more of your thoughts, time and money. They steal away your loyalty and heart from those you love. Marriages rarely survive if parasites are present. If you love your spouse, you must destroy any addiction that has your heart. If you don’t, it will destroy you.” (The Love Dare, Stephen & Alex Kendrick, p. 112)

Statistics cited by Mark Broyles at the October 16-19, 2009 Fireproof Your Marriage Seminar & Get Away (p. 13) show:

  • 4.2 million (12% of total websites) are pornographic
  • 60% of all website visits are sexual in nature
  • Hollywood currently releases 11,000 adult movies per year – more than 20 times the mainstream movie production
  • Every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being created in the United States
  • 87% of college students are having “web sex”
  • At a recent Promise Keepers convention, 53% of those surveyed said that they had visited a porn site within the last week
  • 8-10% of visitors to porn sites become addicted

Additional statistics show the pervasiveness of this issue. Steve and Bette Wolf cite extensive statistics, with the following caution, “We should caution readers about the uncritical acceptance of what is reported and repeated in both the public media and scholarly journals.” They cite the 2001 “duel” between the New York Times and Forbes magazine and the forced recanting of portions of a July 3, 1995 Time Magazine cover article. With this caution the following statistics are noted:

  • “…even the lowball Forbes estimate acknowledges that porn is bigger than Major League Baseball (2.8 billion in 1999, according to the MLB Commissioner) and Broadway theatre ($575 million in ticket sales in 1999, according to the League of American Theatre and Producers, Inc.)
  • “Worse, the problem is not confined to non-Christians or irreligious persons. According to a Zogby International poll, 17.8% of ‘born-again Christians’ have visited at least one sexually explicit website.
  • “A 2001 survey of evangelical clergy by Leadership Journal reported that 40% of respondents struggled with pornography, largely obtained through Internet; one-third acknowledged Internet pornography usage in the last 30 days
  • “The results of a recent study of Internet pornography usage by those identifying themselves as members of Churches of Christ recorded 4,365 Internet survey responses.”

(“Helping Christians Addicted to Pornography,” Truth Magazine Annual Lectures, July 11-14, 2005: The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, pp. 89-91)

As men who desire to be godly influences in the lives of others, let’s take to heart the messages of that song …

  • This destructive habit does not develop in a day!
  • It is the “second glance” that sucks you into the sin!
  • Pornography destroys one’s influence with “those little feet that are sure to follow!
  • “When black and white have turned to gray,” you have allowed the lines between right and wrong to be blurred!
  • The progressive nature of this sin: “thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid.”
  • The “it can’t happen to me” attitude can leave you vulnerable
  • Though we may think we are doing these things in secret, God knows all!

This short article certainly has not been an exhaustive treatment of the subject of Internet pornography. For your further study, I would commend the Wolfgang article quoted above. It contains extensive footnotes for detailed study of this issue.

Recognizing my responsibility to give voice to the good news of the gospel, I hope to address other men’s issues in future articles. These will appear on this site under the monthly A Christian’s Voice From Raymore page. I will also be launching, in June 2010, the Remembering My Creator page on this site, focused on youth issues. I have invited several young Christians to be “staff writers.” I invite you to pray for this effort and to look for upcoming articles.

Thanks for reading with me, dear friend. Have a blessed day!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading Monday­­­­­­, May 31, 2010

Today’s Scripture: Exodus 37-40

Things to remember in today’s reading:

  • Moses continues the Lord’s instructions, by describing the making of the items to go into the tabernacle (37:1-29), and items to go outside the tent of the tabernacle but inside the court that surrounds it ((38:1-20)
  • The official record of those who oversaw the work of the tabernacle and of the precious materials used (38:21-31)
  • The description of the garments for Aaron and his sons are given and how they are to be made (39:1-31).
  • The narration of the fact that the people completed all the work of the tabernacle and then brought the pieces to Moses (39:32-43)
  • The Lord speaks to Moses with instruction on when and how to erect the tabernacle and it is done (40:1-33).

Things God is teaching me in today’s reading:

  • It is right and good to celebrate the success of a group of God’s people completing a task that they have worked together to accomplish (49:43).
  • A very important part of our work is consecrating it to God (40:9-15).
  • The glory of the Lord will fill the house that is built with God as its architect and designer. He will lead us throughout our journeys (40:34-38).

Things to act on in today’s reading:

  • I will look for ways to celebrate tasks successfully completed, working with my brethren
  • I will consecrate this day’s work to God!
  • I will praise God for His plan!

Things to pray about in today’s reading:

  • For God’s word to serve as a lamp to light my path!
  • For Christians in the local body with whom I work and have fellowship!
  • For opportunities to glorify God!

Thanks for reading with me dear friend. Have a blessed day!!

— Randy Sexton

Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading Sunday­­­­­­, May 30, 2010

Today’s Scripture: Galatians 4-6

Things to remember in today’s reading:

  • Paul makes a dispensational appeal, as he discusses the differences of heirs and slaves, to teach that the period of Law was a special way in which God dealt with Israel for a special purpose (4:1-11)
  • Paul makes a sentimental appeal to the Galatians to accept the truth (4:12-18).
  • Paul makes an allegorical argument, using the story of Abraham’s two sons (Genesis 16 and 21), to show that the new covenant has superseded the old (4:19-31)
  • Paul makes the practical application of Christian liberty to the lives of believers as he contrasts: liberty vs. bondage, spirit vs. flesh, others vs. self, and God’s glory vs. man’s approval (5:1-6:18).

Things God is teaching me in today’s reading:

  • “… the Jews were in their ‘spiritual childhood’ under the law. The rules and rituals of the Law were the ‘religious ABCs’ they had to learn before they could graduate into their full inheritance.” (Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament, p. 525)
  • God’s providence is evident in sending His son, at just the right moment in human history, to redeem those who were under the law.
  • We may be hindered in obeying the truth (5:7) and can fight that occurrence by walking by the Spirit (5:16-18). The decisions and choices made, as we walk by the Spirit, will result in the fruit of the Spirit (5:22-23).
  • My love for others should motivate me to bear their burdens and to kindly entreat them when they are “caught” in transgression.
  • The Word of God is rich in meaning that I can “mine” to gain new insights every time I study it!

Things to act on in today’s reading:

  • To live by the Spirit in the decisions and choices I make!
  • To do good, seeking out opportunities to serve!
  • To send a note “in the spirit of gentleness” to just one who has “gone astray” (Matthew 18:12-ESV) and is “leading an undisciplined life” (2nd Thessalonians 3:11-NASB).

Things to pray about in today’s reading:

  • Lord, please help me to keep watch on myself, lest I also be tempted!
  • That God’s word will work in the hearts of those who have turned back into the world and are no longer serving him!
  • That we never use our freedom in Christ as an opportunity for the flesh but as an opportunity to serve one another!

Thanks for reading with me dear friend. Have a blessed day!!

— Randy Sexton

Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading Saturday­­­­­­, May 29, 2010

Today’s Scripture: Luke 7-8

Things to remember in today’s reading:

  • Jesus heals a centurion’s servant (7:1-10).
  • Jesus raises a widow’s son (7:11-17).
  • Messengers from John the Baptist come to Jesus asking, “Are you the one who is to come or shall we look for another?” (7:18-35)
  • Jesus encounters “a woman of the city, who was a sinner,” who washes His feet with her tears and dries them with her hair, affording Jesus an opportunity to teach about saving faith (7:36-50).
  • Jesus teaches in parables: the sower and the lamp (8:1-21).
  • Jesus demonstrates His power over nature, demons, disease and death (8:22-56)

Things God is teaching me in today’s reading:

  • I should approach the divine with humility, “Lord, I am not worthy” (7:6).
  • Would that we have a faith that causes Jesus to “marvel” (7:9).
  • The poor have good news preached to them (7:22), as they see a man of great compassion (7:13) preaching a message of hope (7:50; 8:1).
  • The condition of a person’s heart determines their reaction to the preaching of the gospel.
  • I need to keep sowing the seed, even though only one-fourth of it may fall into that “good soil” that is those “who hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”
  • Spiritual relationships are important (8:21).
  • Fear can cause one to reject the Son of God (8:37).
  • Sometimes the best work that I can do for God is to return home and declare how much God has done for me (8:39).

Things to act on in today’s reading:

  • To sow the seed of the kingdom
  • I will NOT cover my light with a jar or put it under a bed! I will put it on a stand so that those who enter may see the light!
  • I will praise the Awesome God we serve! I will magnify the precious name of Jesus and the power He demonstrated in His mighty deeds and words (Luke 24:19) during His earthly ministry!

Things to pray about in today’s reading:

  • For a faith and a compassion that will even cause Jesus to marvel!
  • For good and honest hearts in which to plant the seed of the word of God!
  • For those who have had Satan steal the word from their hearts, for those who have fallen away during times of testing, and for those who have been choked by the cares and pleasures of life!

Thanks for reading with me dear friend. Have a blessed day!!

— Randy Sexton

Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading Friday­­­­­­, May 28, 2010

Today’s Scripture: Jeremiah 47-52

Things to remember in today’s reading:

  • The impending destruction of the Philistines is described, an event which did occur when Nebuchadnezzar accomplished it in 604 B.C. (47:1-7)
  • God’s judgment against Moab, another of Israel’s enemies, is predicted for his complacency and because he magnified himself against the Lord (48:1-47)
  • God’s judgment against Amnon, Edom, Damascus, and Elam is predicted (47:1-39)
  • Jeremiah predicts the fall of Babylon as a world power, an event which occurred in 539 B.C. when Persia conquered her (50:1-51:64)
  • Jerusalem’s fall, Zedekiah’s binding, the destruction of the temple, the exiling of the people, and the continuation of the Davidic lineage are described (52:1-34)

Things God is teaching me in today’s reading:

  • God judges nations
  • In Jeremiah, trouble always comes from the north. “As the ESV footnote for 1:14 explains, the same word (Hb. ra) can be translated either ‘evil’ or ‘disaster’ ‘harm,’ according to the context. Jeremiah loves to exploit these two possible meanings, as he does in vv. 14 and 16, with implication turn from your ‘evil’ or God will send ‘disaster (cf Jeremiah 4:4, 6; 11:8, 11, 17; 18:8-11; 23:11-12; 25:5, 7; 26:3; 32:32, 42; 35:15, 17; 36:3; 44:2-3, 22-23; see notes on Jonah 1:2).” (ESV Study Bible, p. 1370)
  • God protects His chosen ones
  • The new covenant predicted by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34) stands in great contrast to the conditions of Jeremiah’s day. Even as “Babylon removes Judah’s chief religious, civic, and military leaders, leaving the nation without wise direction…. God’s promises cannot fail, and God promised David a permanent kingdom (2nd Samuel 7:16; 1st Chronicle 17:14) from which the Messiah would come (Jeremiah 23:1-8; 33:14-22).” (ESV Study Bible, p. 1474)

Things to act on in today’s reading:

  • To appreciate the difficult life lived by Jeremiah in the midst tumultuous times!

Things to pray about in today’s reading:

  • For the compassion and faith of a Jeremiah
  • For Jesse and Lura Law
  • For Lou and June Matlock

Thanks for reading with me dear friend. Have a blessed day!!

— Randy Sexton

Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading Thursday­­­­­­, May 27, 2010

Today’s Scripture: Proverbs 1

Things to remember in today’s reading:

  • The goal of the proverbs of Solomon is to instill wisdom in the reader. “The wisdom offered here is practical (instruction in wise dealing), intellectual (increase in learning), moral (righteousness, justice and equity), and probing (to understand a proverb and … riddles)” (ESV Study Bible)(3:1-6)
  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (3:7)
  • Appeals are presented as a father exhorting his son to seek wisdom and warning him against the ruin that comes from folly (1:8-19)
  • Wisdom cries aloud in the street and in the market and at the entrance to the city gate and those, to those who accept her, she pours out her spirit. But those who refuse her, experience folly (1:20-33).

Things God is teaching me in today’s reading:

  • To have the wisdom of God is a worthy goal!
  • The seeking of knowledge and wisdom, without a feat of God as a foundation, is an exercise in vanity!
  • Godly living is the result of reverence and humility before our Creator and our Redeemer!

Things to act on in today’s reading:

  • To fear the Lord in all that I do
  • To renounce the enticement of sinners

Things to pray about in today’s reading:

  • To give thanks for the wise instruction I received from a godly mother and father
  • For Jesse and Lura Law
  • For Lou and June Matlock

Thanks for reading with me dear friend. Have a blessed day!!

— Randy Sexton

Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading Wednesday­­­­­­, May 26, 2010

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 63-65

Things to remember in today’s reading:

  • David remembers past worship – my soul thirsts for you! (63:1-2)
  • David expresses confidence for future worship – my lips will praise you, I will lift up my hands! (63:3-4)
  • David’s soul clings to the Lord as he remembers Him upon his bed and meditates on him in the night watches (63:5-8).
  • Those who seek David’s life will fail but he will rejoice (63:9-11).
  • David prays to be hidden from the secret plans of the wicked (64:1-6).
  • God makes an example of the wicked (64:7-10).
  • David offers thanksgiving for a fruitful harvest (65:1-13).

Things God is teaching me in today’s reading:

  • My passion for God and for serving Him should not be a secret to those with whom I interact!
  • My meditations upon God should be frequent!
  • I should be thankful and expressive of that thankfulness!

Things to act on in today’s reading:

  • Meditate, meditate, meditate …
  • Send one letter inviting a friend to come worship the Lord. This psalm “inculcates the confidence that the worshiper will indeed be able to return to the sanctuary to worship God…. The psalm, in instilling such confidence, also enables its singers to treasure this worship as the gift that it is.” (ESV Study Bible)

Things to pray about in today’s reading:

  • For the initiative to share the privilege and joy of worship with my friends
  • For Jesse and Lura Law
  • For Lou and June Matlock

Thanks for reading with me dear friend. Have a blessed day!!

— Randy Sexton

Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading Tuesday­­­­­­, May 25, 2010

Today’s Scripture: 1st Kings 1-4

Things to remember in today’s reading:

  • David’s son Adonijah, tries to exalt himself to be king but Nathan and Bathsheba thwart his attempts by telling David. At David’s request, Zadok anoints Solomon as king (1:1-40)
  • Adonijah fears Solomon when he receives word that Solomon has been anointed king. When he pays homage to Solomon, Adonijah is pardoned (1:41-50).
  • David charges Solomon to be strong, show himself a man and keep the charge of the Lord, walking in His ways and keeping His statutes, His commandments, His rules, and His testimonies as it is written in the law of Moses and to act according to his wisdom in dealing with certain individuals (2:1-9)
  • When David dies, Solomon’s kingdom is firmly established in spite of an attempt on the part of Adonijah to exert a degree of mutiny by trying to marry Abishag (2:10-46)

Things God is teaching me in today’s reading:

  • God’s plans are fulfilled despite man’s attempts to alter them!
  • Once conspiracy, to usurp God’s authority, is detected in the heart of a man, it bears close scrutiny for reappearance!
  • There is a duty we bear, in passing on the responsibility of leadership to the next generation, to solemnly charge them before God!
  • It is good to pray for wisdom!

Things to act on in today’s reading:

  • To look for opportunities to discuss today’s kingdom business and lessons learned from history
  • To find a way to incorporate God’s word into everyday in some way
  • This is the tough part of each daily reading! It is a challenge just to keep up with the reading. There is much in this process of living to keep us from this task! But then to make what we read a part of us is very humbling!

Things to pray about in today’s reading:

  • For godly wisdom
  • For your servant Jesse Law and his faithful wife Lura, members of the local body of Christ. Jesse continues to struggle with life-threatening lung deterioration. Comfort, strengthen and give them peace.
  • For Lou Matlock and his faithful wife June, members of the local body of Christ. Lou is struggling with life-threatening cancer that has returned and is attacking several areas of his body. Comfort, strengthen and give them peace.

Thanks for reading with me dear friend. Have a blessed day!!

— Randy Sexton

Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading Monday­­­­­­, May 24, 2010

Today’s Scripture: Exodus 33-36

Things to remember in today’s reading:

  • God commands Moses to leave Mt. Sinai and lead His people toward the land of Canaan, the use of the tent of meeting is described, and Moses pleads with God to re-consider His decision to not go among them (33:1-23)
  • At God’s command, Moses cuts 2 new2 tablets of stone like the first and God writes on them the words that were on the first tablets which he broke. He spends 40 days and nights with the Lord on the mountain and when he comes down, the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God (34:1-35).
  • Moses delivers the Lord’s instructions regarding the preparation and construction of the tabernacle (35:1-36:38)

Things God is teaching me in today’s reading:

  • We should take seriously what God has spoken to us! He does not speak directly with us, the way He did with Moses but, in a sense, our face should glow with awe and respect as God speaks to us through His word!
  • We should be of a “generous heart” (35:5) and donate the skilled craftsmanship talents we have to the building of the work of God (35:29-35).
  • It is a great occasion when “the people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.” Sadly, in many congregations today, this is NOT the case!

Things to act on in today’s reading:

  • To be a faithful follower as I am lead to implement the laws of God!
  • To be a faithful leader as I am charged by God to be!

Things to pray about in today’s reading:

  • For Jesse and Lura Law
  • For a generous heart!
  • For a quicker response to calls to serve!

Thanks for reading with me dear friend. Have a blessed day!!

— Randy Sexton

Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading Sunday­­­­­­, May 23, 2010

Today’s Scripture: Galatians 1-3

Things to remember in today’s reading:

  • Paul offers a greeting that is more reserved than normal, to the churches of Galatia and expresses disappointment and amazement that they are “so quickly deserting” and turning away from the truth of the pure gospel of Christ. He rebukes them sternly for this (1:1-9).
  • Paul defends the gospel and declares mightily that its source is Jesus Christ by means of revelation. He recounts the events of his conversion and the early days of his preaching as evidence of his authority (1:10-2:21).
  • Paul appeals to their experience of how they first came to know Christ and the OT example of Abraham (3:1-9).
  • Paul argues that those who rely on the works of the law for salvation are cursed and do not belong to Christ. He asserts that it is not necessary for them to become Jews in order to be Christians (3:10-29).

Things God is teaching me in today’s reading:

  • It is possible for any of us to come under the spell of false teachers. The way to guard against that happening is to continually “take head” and “examine” to see whether we are “in the faith” (1st Corinthians 10:12; 2nd Corinthians 13:5).
  • We must be passionate about truth, grace and faith and fight to preserve the gospel against those who seek to pervert it!

Things to act on in today’s reading:

  • Perform self-examination of the passion with which I serve the Lord!
  • Read these chapters aloud with the emotion and passion that Paul had as he wrote them!

Things to pray about in today’s reading:

  • Lord, please be with your servant Jesse and his faithful wife Lura; comfort them, give them peace and strengthen them!
  • Lord, please help me to stand fast in the faith all the days of my life!
  • : Lord, “My spirit is willing, but my flesh is so weak. Light the fire in my weary soul, Fan the flame, Make me whole again. Lord you know where I’ve been so light the fire in my heart again.” (Lyrics from song, “Light the Fire” by Bill Maxwell)

Thanks for reading with me dear friend. Have a blessed day!!

— Randy Sexton