Men’s Breakfast – June 2010

A transcript of the short talk at the Highland Men’s Breakfast today (Ron Orrick speaking)

I started several devotions for this morning’s breakfast; a Father’s Day chat, and Memorial Day recognition, a direct and forceful talk about a Christian man and his calling, but I have been led to the book of Ephesians for today’s conversation with you. First.. a personal story. I went in recently for a consult on ADHD. I wanted to try some new treatment options, and needed to undergo an assessment with a new doctor. I sat in the waiting room for 10 or 15 minutes, tapping my foot, reading magazines, pacing… until the assistant came and took me to a room with nothing on the floor, walls, or ceiling. The only thing in the room was a rather sturdy looking desk with a monitor and a keyboard. The assistant explained that letters would flash on the screen and I was to press a key each time this happened, except when the letter “X” flashed up on the screen. I began, and the letters came, fast and furious, then slower… then fast again. Here and there I skipped the “X” when I should, but as I got into a rhythm, I found that the “X” would flash, and I’d press the key… just because I had become used to pressing the key. Then, I became incensed at myself for hitting the “X”… so upset that I would mess up the next couple of keypresses. “A” – press, “I” – press, “N” – press, “K” – press, “X” – press… D’OH!!! It seems that this is much like our life as Christians… we naturally do what we repeat. 14 minutes of that seemed like an eternity, and I am glad I didn’t take a blood pressure test soon thereafter. Take a guy with ADHD and put him in a small room, make him do one boring thing, boy I tell you… I’ll bet they had a hidden camera somewhere! Let’s see how this idea of conditioned stimulus and response applies to Paul’s writings.

So, Ephesians… are we going to talk about the fact Paul seemingly wrote Ephesians expressly to demonstrate Pastor Jeff’s [our senior pastor] continued focus on the difference between (and necessity of) orthodoxy and orthopraxy? After all, the book is split neatly in two between “how to believe” in Chapters 1 through 3 and “how to live” in Chapters 4 through 6! Perhaps we will talk about relationships and focus on the gender-specific verses from 22 through 26? It’s always nice to talk about submissive wives, right?

I have a confession to make; we are going to speak about only two verses in Ephesians today… that’s all you’re getting. If you feel ‘jipped’, please show up on Sunday for some preaching that’s far better than what you’re getting now! I further confess that you’re going to get a strong message about what God expects from us as Christians, with the added note that we are to lead in this regard in our homes… by example.

So, here we are in the middle of Paul’s preaching on how we ought to live, and, taking up in verse three of Chapter 5 we read, “..sexual immorality and all impurity of covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints”.  We are saints! Isn’t that cool!? Now, I know what you’re saying… “I know Ron pretty well and I can’t speak for the rest of these jokers, but he’s no saint”. Here, Christ has declared us saints and then sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, giving us the strength to live as saints. Paul extends a bit of grace to the Ephesians (and to each of us) by calling them “saints”. Paul states that sexual immorality should not exist among the saints. Sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it? I can already hear some of you thinking, “I don’t sleep with other women, I’m good”, or, “I am a ‘normal guy’ in this regard, not extra kinky or anything”. I don’t suppose that our view changes if we bring in Christ’s view that thinking about sex with a woman is a sin, just as performing the act would be? Not convinced? Okay, let’s “rise above” the laiety and focus only on clergy for a moment. Leadership Journal did an anonymous survey on sex and the American clergy. Of the pastors responding to the survey, 20 percent said they looked at sexually oriented media at least once a month! 38% said they actively fantasized about sex with someone other than their spouse more than once monthly. When asked if in their church ministry if they had even done anything they felt was sexually inappropriate, 23 percent answered yes! When asked about physical infidelity, 12 percent of pastors answered, “yes”, after entering the ministry. When the laity were asked the same questions, the rates almost doubled, across the board. This indicates – to me – that leaders have an issue looking clearly into the mirror and confronting themselves and their sin. Let me give you a bit of a secret about that study. It was done more than twenty years ago, before the advent of the Internet. What do you think the rates are now?

Paul then goes on to talk about greed, and it may seem as though this is out of place, but greed has a great deal to do with sexual immorality. Greed is an appetite for something more, always. Sexual immorality is us ‘acting out’ on this desire for more. Covetousness is greed applied to something another person already has. There was a time that advertising companies would give an honest overview of a product they were proud of and compete for market share. I worked in advertising before coming to Wausau, and we didn’t care if our product was a great one, only that our advertisement was present once we successfully made people dissatisfied with what they had. All we had to do was awaken greed in a person, and have our ad in front of them when it happened.

God’s standard for behavior and sin are absolute, and Paul states that even a hint of these things must not exist among the believers. With the statistics we’ve heard and the knowledge of the truth, it’s clear that strong medicine is needed. In order to raise children that are moral and behave in a saintly manner, we must each act in that manner. Children’s behavior is more ‘caught’ than ‘taught’. We must remove from our homes every form of immorality and every hint of sex and greed. I challenge you each to do the following this evening. Sit down – as a family – around the dining room table with your DVD, music, or media file collection in the middle. Then, read Philippians 4:8 aloud and separate the movies into two piles, one to keep and one to toss. Each time you find yourself rationalizing a movie with a phrase like, “there are a couple ‘things’ in it, but it has a good story or moral”, place that movie in the “toss” pile. The way we explain this to our kids is as follows. We all like brownies, right? I’ve made some brownies, chocolately and thick… still warm, and I have some ice cream to go with them; want some? Inevitably they yell, “yes”! And we say, “ah, just one more thing… in all of this chocolatey goodness, we’ve mixed in just a teeny bit of cat poop… but don’t worry, there not much bad stuff and overall, the brownies taste really good”! Their faces fall, and they walk away… every time. Cat poop isn’t the loss of our reward after arriving in heaven, and yet we have a stronger reaction to it… wow.

Why do I think that this verse speaks so strongly about a zero tolerance for these things? Well, beyond the simple and clear language used, the next verse brings it home in a big way… let’s cover verse four; “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving”. The word for ‘filth’ here is the same root as “disgraceful” and means anything about which we ought to feel shame. The word “moron” comes from the word that is translated “foolish talk” and in this context does not mean someone who is mentally deficient, but a person who is morally deficient. Crude joking means “to turn easily”, or, to have a quick comeback. Again, in context, this means a quick comeback of a sexual nature. The ability to turn anything into something sexual should not be a skill of ours. We don’t joke about sex for the same reason we don’t joke about God… it’s a sacred subject.  God’s standard is absolute and it includes moral purity in thought, speech, and behavior.

So, how do we do it? At the end of verse four we see that the opposite of greed and lust is to give thanks. What does giving thanks have to do with purity? Remember when I said that to trigger greed we had to become dissatisfied with what we have? A person that is giving thanks doesn’t have the time or inclination to be dissatisfied. A thankful person is inoculated against greed. Eve was tempted because she was made to be dissatisfied with “everything but the forbidden fruit”. If we complain about the job we have, the wife we have, and so on; we are not merely dissatisfied, but we are questioning God’s wisdom and sovereignty in our lives! Do you trust God, or don’t you? Let us focus on giving thanks for what we have, the fact that we are in the Light, and live as though we are.

This entry was posted on Saturday, June 5th, 2010 at 21:14 and is filed under Kids and Parenting, Men's Ministry. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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