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A New Song About the Prodigal Son

“Jesus's teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.” - Tim Keller, Prodigal God

I am reading Prodigal God with my LifeGroup at Assurance, which has got me thinking a lot on the life of the younger brother in the story. I wrote this simple song from his perspective, with a twist at the end changing to the Father's. I hope meditating on it along with the scripture might inspire new appreciation for this old story, providing some holy imagination, and breath some new life into what may be an old, dry narrative for you. If the Bible, or even Christianity, feel a bit dry and crusty to you - I wholeheartedly recommend Prodigal God for fresh life. It has certainly done so for me. The song is called Thinking of You. I have put the story first, then the song and lyrics underneath. 


"And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate." - Luke 15:11-32

Field and house
Lamb and calf
All my rings
All my staff

Give me mine
Father now
Sell my rig
Seal my right

Cause I've got things to do
And none of them involve thinking of you

Leave this land
Shake these hands
Lay with pigs
Laid with lambs

Cold wet ground
Ash dry mouth
Craving dregs
Caving crown

But I've got things to do
And none of them involve thinking of you

Heading home
Head hang low
Slaves still sing
Slaves belong

Rising sun
Father runs
Robe and ring
Arose my son

Dance and song
Seem so wrong
Years waiting
Father longs

Yes I had things to do
But all of my time was thinking of you

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XXX: My Rap About Porn Problems

This past Christmas I wrote a rap inspired by the Porn Problems post I put up a year ago.

I listened to a lot of rap growing up. Starting with sneaking Lil' Bow Wow in my portable CD player on road trips, then Outkast, later Kanye. I took a long break but here and there I jump back in and discover good rap is still alive. I discovered Kendrick Lamar before Christmas and was inspired to try my own, taking one of his beats for the track. I have had a pretty cushy life though, so I couldn't find anything to write about that got me angry enough to inspire lyrics, until I thought of pornography. Oh, and I made my voice lower to sound more intense. If you haven't read my previous post called Porn Problems, here it is. Here is the rap and the lyrics below:

XXX marks the spot.

They found me defenseless.

Jumping all these fences then

Dead down in the trenches.

Doubled over, I wish I didn't feel it.

Wish I didn't do it, but I did, and now I see it 20/20.

 

My marbles spilling,

I pick them up. They're on the floor,

Me they ignore, and now I'm reeling.

I should have some wisdom in these molars but I'm still teething,

Still seeking.

 

What is the answer? Where is the higher path?

A partial lobotomy or end up under my epitaph

Too soon. Severing limbs until quadriplegic,

Numbing my senses until paralysis stops my breathing.

There'll be no fireworks, there'll be no celebration

This is the funeral of the villain: the mistakes I'm making.

 

So you come to me asking do I hate myself for what I've done.

Would you end it all for yourself if I just gave you a gun?

Well hunt me, shun me, run me off into the sun,

But as for me my battles done, come see my red run.

And where's your blood?

Four-hundred-ninety times,

Seems the flesh still won.

 

So here's my question:

Where is the line? What's really natural and what is divine?

Or when is it time to find another lens;

A rhyme or reason for this mess we're living in?

Is ignorance bliss or is knowledge supreme ?

Or are we all drifting in the same dream?

My guess is were drifting, but it's not a dream,

And we drift on the ships of the slave or free.

 

Would I rather live in captivity than die in freedom?

So I guess give me the gun.

My time has come,

I'm over board; who cares who won,

Or whether,

I drown weighed down by my chains or find myself tethered

To a raft that washes me ashore in foul weather.

Better found dead or a tattered haggard,

Then a living, lost, locked away, rotting, beggar.

 

XXX marks the spot.

They found me defenseless,

Washed up on the shore,

Alive to live as a weary witness.

-----

Daniel

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Radiohead vs. Coldplay: A Study in the Purpose of Music

In the nineties, two bands emerged from the UK as distinguished and fresh to the music scene: Radiohead, led by Thom Yorke, and Coldplay, led by Chris Martin.  I became entranced with both of these leaders growing up.  I have seen both in concert, where I realized quickly how similar they were.  Besides visually looking alike, the leaders of the two bands play the exact same roles.  Both of them write the lyrics and music for their bands.  They sing the lead parts during the songs and play acoustic guitar or piano during them, as well.  The direction that these two musicians take their bands in often follows the same path.  They have both experimented with electronic, ethnic, hard-rock and non-lyrical music on their band’s records.  Although Yorke and Martin share similarities in their musical style and life-related characteristics, there remain significant differences between them in these regards. These similarities and differences lead to the discovery of two core needs in humanity that music is meant to provide.

My favorite Radiohead

Thom Yorke is angry, and his lyrics are almost always acutely poised for attack. Teeth showing, claws out - songs are often based on world issues such as materialism, poverty, war, and government corruption.  Other times they are more personal, but with weighty, often dark overtones: they focus on the deterioration of relationships, insanity and the emotional absurdities of humanity. The names of songs like “Knives Out” and “I Am a Wicked Child” are good examples of his style.  The music he writes is tense and serious due to the usage of distorted minor chord combinations.  His music exerts a pessimistic view of the world to most, and to others a strong desire for it to change, or to change it themselves, from its corrupt state.

My favorite Coldplay

Chris Martin’s music is unfailingly uplifting and romantic.  The names of his songs show their optimistic nature; such as “Beautiful World” and “God Put a Smile upon Your Face”.  They give feelings of hope to the listener.  His music incorporates major chord patterns, causing the mood of his songs to be light-hearted.  Lyrically, his focus is on the love that he has encountered throughout his life and the beauty found in daily situations.  Martin’s music is cheesy to some, but most perceive it as enjoyably catchy and emotionally appealing.

Thom Yorke has many mysterious and haunting characteristics.  He has an injured left eye that stays half-shut, giving him a look of being consistently demented.  He wears the color black in most concerts and public appearances and is seen in photographs with a snarling look of malcontent.  Yorke seems to take life seriously, and his music as very personal.  During concerts, he is known to yell at audience members if interrupted and lose his temper if a song does not go as he planned.  His music is a close reflection of his life characteristics. 

The life of Chris Martin is content and joyful.  When in public, he and his band are seen wearing bright colors and big smiles, proving their attitude to be cheerful.  Martin greets his audience with praise and gratitude after every song.  When a problem occurs on stage, he is better known to laugh and move on than to be upset or stay stuck in the moment. He dances around on stage in every show, smiling and laughing, like it is the best day of his life. These characteristics are played out in the overall optimism of the songs he writes. 

Faces of Martin and Yorke overlayed

Faces of Martin and Yorke overlayed

Although they have several similarities, Chris Martin and Thom Yorke prove to be contrasting in several significant ways.  The fact that they share a fan base seems confusing.  The explanation is that the differences they have apply to different aspect of the listener’s lives.  I, like other fans, enjoy these two bands because of some qualities they share, but also for the characteristics that they differ in greatly.  One is yin, the other yang. One is a glass-half-full perspective (a theme Martin explores in his song "Glasses of Water") and the other half-empty. The question this dichotomy introduces is imperative to understanding the purpose of music: is it to simply get us through the day? Is it here to provide a rose-colored lens to look through, or to divert our focus from the everyday problems we all are so aware of to the mystery and beauty of what is all around us that we might be missing? Or is the purpose of art to magnify the hidden issues? To snatch the wool from our eyes, rip the bandaid off, and make us feel something real in a raw, untempered delivery. Is music meant to sustain us or to change us? To cheer on to our play of life or to chide us as our biggest critic. Is music here to bolster a life all about working in the harsh, cynical yet remarkably productive New Yorke, or vacationing in the sublimely ignorant and peaceful Lake Martin? Well, I like New Yorke and Lake Martin, and I need both. I need the rough streets to chisel me down to being a life that's worth living, and the other to soak in the warmth of all that's worth living for in life. Music needs both. Humanity needs both.

Let's be real: Radiohead is a way better band, musically. Chris Martin even has hinted at wanting to sound like Radiohead at the beginning. From Rolling Stone: "At last night's free Coldplay show in London, frontman Chris Martin joked that his band's song "God Put a Smile on Your Face" sounded an awful lot like Radiohead's "2 + 2 = 5." "Sorry, we shouldn't be talking about plagirism," he joked. "Ignore that!"" Elsewhere Martin said "Sometimes I feel like they [Radiohead] cleared a path with a machete, and we came afterward and put up a strip mall," he says. "I would still give my left ball to write anything as good as OK Computer." 

I say all that because, guess who played at the Superbowl and who didn't? Most people know Coldplay and not Radiohead. I think that is revealing. Most people want an IV of Coldplay music, and would rather ignore Radiohead music. They would rather keep the wool over their eyes, stay in that cushy, ignorant, sunny place and never face the hard facts. But music has more to offer. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater (as I said, I love Coldplay - the best concert I've ever been to by far), but let's listen to something that is musically incredible while emotionally and intellectually challenging. If you have never listened to Radiohead, go with Chris Martin's suggestion: start with OK Computer. If you are a Radiohead...head...that thinks Coldplay is cheesy: get out in the sun a little - maybe start with Viva La Vida. I think Radiohead and Coldplay are like Clark Kent and Lex Luthor, protons and electrons, your mother and her smart phone: they can't live with each other, but they can't live without each other either. They are equal but opposites. They need each other.

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Musical Moments that Made Me Weep

I have physical responses to music sometimes. Not sure if this is common - let me know if you experience this too. I don't mean that the lyrics necessarily are powerful - although sometimes they play a part - I mean the music. The note, or the moment, or the harmony, or the rhythm - whatever it is - sometimes it hits me hard - maybe it clenches my emotional and/or spiritual nerve so acutely that my body is affected too? Most often the result is crying. I have felt nauseous once as a result of a note Josh Garrels sung the first time I heard him (I explain it in an old music blog I had here). I don't know...maybe you can explain what is happening? Has this happened to anyone else?

Here's my best guess: Its like there was a bubble, a ceiling, over the place, with the whole song pushing against the top - and then this moment pierces through it. You can feel the singer stretching, yearning for breakthrough. Maybe what is happening musically is reflecting what is happening spiritually? So I feel that push, that breakthrough, when I listen - my spirit is resonating with what is taking place. The result for me is often breakthrough. It's like I am resistant to what the Holy Spirit is trying to do in me, and then this moment comes, and I'm undone. I can't resist any longer. I'm broken.

So here's my list. It's long - but I have always wanted to get these down. And I am vacationing in an Appalachian cabin by the fire (jealous?), so I had the time. I have put the moment that the tears started flowing by the song. I recommend listening to the whole song so you get the build up to the moment, but if not, start it a bit before so you get the effect. I've separated these experiences into four different types: notes, moments, instrumental and rap. 

 

bethel music w/ jenn johnson - our father

the moment - 3:38

josh garrels - words remain

the moment - 1:43

bethel music w/ amanda cooke - wonder

the moment - 5:14

bethel music w/ amanda cooke - shepherd

the moment - 4:54

kings kaleidoscope - felix culpa

the moment - 2:56

bethel music w/ jeremy riddle - walk in the promise

the moment - 3:18

 

bethel music w/ steffany frizzell-gretzinger - be still

the moment - 3:53

john mark mcmillan - silver shore

the moment - 2:56

hillsong united - with everything

the moment - 4:24

 

hillsong united - prince of peace

the moment - 4:00

harvest - curtains (side note - I made this video! stolen footage..)

the moment - 1:25

all sons & daughters - reason to sing

the moment - 2:34

 

lecrae - welcome to america

the moment - 3:41

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Porn Problems

I hope you don't read any of my direction in this post as overly preachy or insensitive. I have been there, and have the scars to show it. I am hoping that my experience, both personally and pastoring others through this, and the resources I gained practically, spiritually, and scripturally might lend a helping hand to others finding themselves still amidst the struggle. I pray you will walk away with fewer scars because of my words shared here. I pray you might join me on the offensive side of the battle, where I am confident we will win, if we fight together and not alone.

Proverbs is a book of wisdom, given by God, that man might live a life of good, not evil. Something this generation needs wisdom on is pornography. Proverbs 5-7 gives a dead on portrayal of the porn struggle, step by step, and provides remarkable wisdom into how to prevail. Sorry for the "p" alliteration...I got carried away. Forget addressing cheating, sex outside of marriage, or divorce; if we take care of porn, we prevent the others at the root of the problem: our nation's men are addicted to pornography - and it's going to destroy everything in their lives. 

6 Practices from Proverbs to Prevent Porn Problems

1. Keep the Commandments

"My son, keep my words, and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, "You are my sister," and call insight your intimate friend, to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words." - Proverbs 7:1-5

Scripture is apparently a magic weapon against sexual temptation, seeing how direct the correlation is in these verses between knowing/applying scripture and staying pure. The idea of "treasuring" God's commandments means they are so carefully and frequently looked over so that we know them by heart, and value meditating on them high above anything else we could be doing with our time or attention.

"My son, keep your father's commandments, and forsake not your mother's teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress." - Proverbs 6:20-24

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." - Psalms 119:9-11

Isn't this the question on every man's mind that struggles with pornography: "How can I possibly steer clear of this!?" Scripture has an answer: know God's word ("store up your word") and do what it says do ("guard it according to your word"). For scripture to work its magic charm, we must be "doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving [our]selves" (James 1:22). If we want to not be shaken when the storm of temptation comes, we must take Jesus' tip: "Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like the wise man who built his house on the rock" (Matthew 7:24). Plenty of people hear and even know God's word well, but will we apply it? Here is the true dividing line between those on top of this and those underneath it: discipline. 

2. Keep Away...Far, Far Away

"Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house" - Proverbs 5:8

Note here that it does not say "do not go into her bed," or even "do not go into her house:" but rather "do not go near the door of her house." God's strategy for us to defeat sexual temptation is not to flee once we find ourselves in its house, but rather to avoid the house altogether! For that matter, even the street that it is on! See what chapter seven says about keeping your distance:

"For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness. And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait." - Proverbs 7:6-11

You know what the "street near her corner" and the "door of her house" look like for you. Maybe it's Netflix, an app, a website. The first step for a man struggling with pornography (meaning that he has a conviction about it, but has not overcome it) is to identify these "gateways" in their life (the "door" or "street" of her house); they won't look that bad on the surface, and you could cover up for them if you got caught there, and you might even be tricking your own mind into rationalizing why it's ok to be in these gateways. Scripture's strategy is to stay far, far away from even these gateways. Sound too dramatic? Listen to Jesus: "And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell" (Matthew 5:30).  His point is that there is not a response to the causes of sin that can be too violent; cutting off your hand or plucking out your eye is about as violent and self-harming as you can get. So, if it has ever caused you to trip up even a little bit, cut it off and throw it away, forever. Cancel your subscription. Delete the app. Throw away the phone. 

But there are two problems at play here: one is our fault and another is the world's. The truth is, this isn't a fair fight. Right? We do have the responsibility to "not go near the door of her house," but we also see "her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait." Right when we think we have a kicked out every gateway to pornography in our lives - temptation comes to you right where you are! And in this day more than ever. I could type in "cute cuddly bunny" into Google images and probably find Playboy bunnies. I'm walking at the mall with my wife and "ohp! There's Victoria Secret, diverting my eyes away and ohp! Lookie there! A barely clothed woman with candles and lotion around her is the ad for Bath & Body Works..." It can feel defeating. Like fighting an uphill battle with boulders barreling down and pummeling you as you climb. But the awareness of this element is part of the fight. We need not be naive or ignorant as to how common it is. And we need to take an open and vocal approach to the frustrations we have with this: I tell my wife how pissed I am about sexy commercials and have written an email to NY Times letting them know I deleted their app because of the voluptuous Game of War ad I repeatedly had to see at the bottom of my screen (they responded apologetically and promised to make efforts at providing a more family friendly news reading experience). These efforts are both to do our part in eliminating temptation for others, while also cultivating our hearts to become like God's as we love what he loves and hate what he hates (Psalm 97:10).

3. Be Intoxicated with Your Wife's Sexy Body

"Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love." - Psalms 5:15-19

Sex is good. It is actually one of the best and most powerful things in our world - intentionally made so by God. Marriage is crazy business - and the Bible says some wild things about what happens when we get married (two become one...what!?). So what is so magical that happens when we get married that makes it any different than two people who love each other dating? Sex. Yes, there are other things - but sex is the defining trait of what biblical marriage should have that biblical courtship should not.

Sex is not bad, it is powerful.

In the same way that nuclear fission, or a shotgun shell is powerful, sex has the potential for great good or great harm. If nuclear fission happens within the confines of a power plant, it can provide power for thousands. If it is used in a nuclear bomb, it can kill thousands. In the same way, if we smash a shotgun shell with a hammer, it might fire and BBs will fly everywhere, injuring me and anyone around; but if it is put into the confines of a shotgun, I can aim and fire with accuracy at this Thanksgiving Day's turkey dinner. Sex within the confines of a marital covenant is phenomenally powerful at its purpose of uniting two souls.

What makes the marriage covenant such a successful conduit for sex? A covenant is different than a contract. A covenant says "I'm not going anywhere, no matter what." God made a covenant with Abraham regarding the nation that would come from his children, and even though they failed to keep up their end over and over, He always kept up His, and never abandoned them. This type of biblical understanding for what marriage is is radically different than our modern interpretation of it - even within the church. But when there is a true understanding and a true marriage covenant is made, there is remarkable safety and trust that is necessary to share in the powerful, vulnerable, mingling of souls action that sex is. Side note: it is not surprising that so much damage is seen in relationships and individuals that have sex out of the confines of covenantal marriage, because true soul damage has been done (1 Corinthians 6:18). 

With that being said, a real combat to porn is to engage in the life-giving act of sex regularly and with intentional energy to improve your marraige and love your spouse well. There is no harm in enjoying your wife too much or too often - visually or physically. For unmarried men, focus your attention on preparing yourself to be the man you want your wife to have one day. Keep your eyes on working unto the Lord, and one day you will look up and she will be there beside you, running after Him alongside you.

Side note: sex is not about you. If love is not self-seeking (1 Cor. 13:5), then true love making ought not be self-seeking. Our aim in having sex should not be getting our pleasure and intimacy, but rather our focus should be on providing pleasure and intimacy for our partner. Giving is better than receiving (Acts 20:35). That and the golden rule should be enough reasons to convince us to realize that sex is not about us. God-intended sex is not about receiving; it's about giving.

4. Realize that Sexual Sin is Surreptitious Slavery

"The iniquities of the wicked man ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin." - Proverbs - 5:22

"All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life." - Proverbs 7:22-23

"Let not your heart turn aside to her ways: do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng." - Proverbs 7:25-26

In sin we often seek freedom; escape from our current stresses or sadness. But as we know, sin is a liar. We buy into the lie of satisfaction, fulfillment and pleasure over and over, but it always leaves us empty. A fleeting moment, then gone. The truth is sin is a snare, placing our ankles in shackles, chained up to a post. Rather than becoming more free as we continue to sin, the chain becomes shorter, and our radius around the post becomes tighter. Eventually, there is no freedom left; we have locked ourselves back down on the ground, every limb constricted. "How did I get here?" we ask ourselves. Well, the enemy is the father of lies, and his lies don't seem so irrational at first. Take a look at the downward spiral with the man in Proverbs:

"She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, 'I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home." - Proverbs 7:13-20

"For the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread" - Proverbs 6:26

Do you see the rationale offered? She has offered sacrifices, so she is a good girl, an exception to the others. There is such nice and pleasurable things inside her house - Egyptian linens, perfume -  why not enjoy them? Can you see him taking another step closer as he is offered and believes each subsequent lie? She tells him her husband isn't at home, and won't be until a much later known time. And lastly, it's easy - it barely costs anything. These are all lies we believe as we step through the gateways into pornography. It appears good on the surface, different perhaps, from the other times. It seems good for pleasure, and something inside us does crave those things (sounds familiar from Genesis? "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye...she took some and ate it" [Genesis 3:6]). There is then the rationale that no one will ever know. "My mom won't know, or my wife won't find out" - the plan is perfect. And lastly, its not like it's costing me anything! Just a few minutes. Just a click. Just a short peak or video. Of course we know all of these are lies. It will not relent. The chain will only shorten, and the cost will quickly grow exponentially.  

To turn an apple commercial on its head: What do we have to lose? Only everything. Which leads to my next point:

5. Comprehend the Consequences

"For a man's ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths." - Proverbs 5:21

"Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death." - Proverbs 7:27

We often talk about loving God, and from this love the trust of relationship blooms. However, I have often avoided talking about fearing God, which is a key element if we want to actually obey him. This is necessary if we want real life change, and therefore real world change. I wrote more about this balance of being loved/being commanded by God & loving/obeying God here, but the gist of the idea is this: Jesus said "If you love me, keep my commands" (John 14:15). How often do we rationalize our lack of discipline, and minimize the consequences in our mind as we premeditate our sin? Let's realize the consequence of our actions: the ugly separation that porn puts between us and God, the chief consequence of sexual sin, grieves Him greatly. We can't overlook the value of fearing God, when it comes to wisdom especially, as Proverbs starts out with the thesis statement for its book that "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Proverbs 1:7).

Going back to the original idea, the best strategy I have found truly is to store up God's word in your heart, and to do what it says to do. Don't miss the second part. I love what Francis Chan says about this American church tendency: "We know an important scripture is 'Go make disciples of all nations'. We say, 'Great! I'll go memorize that verse!" If we don't learn to grow a spine and start making hard choices that go against everything we want; if we don't learn to heed discipline, we are truly going to reap the consequences. As Proverbs says below, the results could be wounds, dishonor, punishment, utter ruin, and death. No good outlooks here. Or do we really think this isn't going to affect us? No, if you play with fire, you get burned:

"Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; none who touches her will go unpunished...He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away." - Proverbs 6:27-35

"At the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, 'How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors. I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation...He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray." - Proverbs 5:11-14, 23

Jon Foreman (of Switchfoot) Song About Porn Struggle

"Ghost Machine" from Jon Foreman's new album series The Wonderlands is a remarkable introspective study into the struggle as a whole and the mind of one struggling with pornography. I fully recommend a listen and for you to read the lyrics, as I believe it can be cathartic for wherever you are in the process:

Ghost Machine Lyrics

All hail the siren of our time
I'm possessed when she passes by
She drains the best years of my life
She makes promises
She could never keep

Ain't it a ghost machine
Making a ghost out of me
After all her lies I'm surprised that I still believe
She haunts me with her laughter in my dreams
My ghost machine

Father forgive me cause I know
Exactly how I spread my soul
My idolatry is in the pocket of my coat
I make promises
I could never keep

Ain't it a ghost machine
Ain't she a ghost machine
I'm still haunted by the faces on her screen
I swear she's gonna make a dead man out of me

Do you know yourself?
I heard a voice call out loud
We define ourselves
By the things we can't live without
I deny it, I could quit at any time
But my ghost is a drug
My ghost is a drug
She's in our blood
And I can't give her up

The clock - the altar of our time
The thought - the temple of our mind
Then I've been sprinkling the blood of most my life
On the altars of my ghost machine

Ain't she my enemy
My ancient remedy
The gods of all the empty promises that I believed
She haunts me with her laughter in my dreams
I swear she's gonna make a dead man out of me
My ghost machine

Final Word: Don't Be Discouraged

I have been more direct in this blog, because of how serious I take it. I hope in doing so I have not stirred up emotions of shame or condemnation. I hope it produced godly guilt - which is a good thing. Guilt says "I made a mistake;" Shame says "I am a mistake." Paul puts it best as he is writing to the Corinthians, whom he was writing to to confront many similar issues: "For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it...I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief...[which] produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death" (2 Corinthians 7:8-10). If worldly grief (shame/condemnation) is what you are feeling, ask the Lord for godly grief. If godly grief is what you are feeling, treasure and heed His words. Take them into action. Repent. Confess. Cut what you need to out. And run for the Father. He is there ready for you, saying "Don't turn your eyes from me. My love can't be undone." 

Please email me at dbjackson3@gmail.com if you want to talk.

Daniel

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New Song by Daniel - One Day

These big dreams
Keep me cozy at night
But morning comes
And puts 'em all to flight
Rent keeps coming
Even though I try to fight it

All my friends are real growns up
With cars and kids and so much stuff
It makes me look
And realize times are rough

But one day
When I make money
I'm gonna throw my friends a Hollywood party

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna take my wife to Paris for a date

I might be broke
But I'm not sad
'Cause I know one day
I'll be just like dad
And give it all away
To make my momma glad

Some might say that
I seem stuck
My head in the clouds
Running low onluck
But In due time I'll turn
Pennies into Bucks

'Cause one day
When I make money
I'm gonna throw my friends a Hollywood party

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna take my wife to Paris for a date

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna get my dog a big ole juicy steak

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna buy my parents a cottage on a lake

I've had years to plan for when I land on my feet
And I realize moneys just not mine to keep

Though time moves slow and the day seems far away
When loves around life just seems okay

So for those who saw me through my very worst
Here's to you I offer up this toast

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna throw my friends a Hollywood party

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna take my wife to Paris for a date

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna get my dog a big ole juicy steak

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna buy my parents a cottage on a lake

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3 Reasons Why I Chose Apple Music, Not Spotify

Author // Daniel

I have had countless friends try to convince me to sign on with Spotify, and I still never touched it. Apple Music knocked on my door politely once, and it only took the click of a button (since my credit card info is already stored) for the free three month trial. I took a quick look around, which turned into a long look around…all my high school and college years of music, and dreams of music I thought I might own one day (like the entire catalog of Led Zeppelin…which I now have). I am sold. Here are my top three reasons:

1. For You

The genius of Apple Music starts here.

By asking for a few of my favorite genres & artists, the “For You” section was not just interesting. It was dead on. Playlists from artists I love and had forgotten about. New music from artists I have never heard of but after listening to, was totally sold. And the greatest part? It costs me nothing to add their music to my collection.

The point is, I trust “For You”, and therefore it works. Like a good friend who has the same taste as me; I want to listen to their opinions (artists), their new mixes (playlists!). Adding to that, the fact that the heart button on songs, albums or artists only fine tunes and diversifies the “For You” section further, let’s just say it’s a keeper.

2. My Music Integration

One reason I never wanted to get Spotify is a lot of the same reason people with Spotify don’t want to switch to Apple Music: it’s MINE.

I have years and years of music uploaded from CDs, tons of music I bought with my own hard earned money, and playlists that are special to me and unique to certain seasons of my life. Part of the joy of being a music lover is the hunt. Exploring to find that new song that you heard on a TV show and have been looking for forever, or one you hear by chance and can’t explain why you connect with it so much — but just have to buy it. This is MY music.

One of the most beautiful things about Apples Music to me is the ease of adding anything to the My Music I have had forever. There is this ownership aspect that feels as though I am still the curator, just like I did before, but now with access to every song I could ever want (except for the Beatles…). It’s like my previous Apple experience on steroids. It’s not even that different. Just better (infinite options). And easier (pay once/mo & press a “+” button).

3. Siri Integration

This sold my sister.

She is a long time Spotify user, sucked in with their free trial littered with ads, who decided to pay to stop being annoyed (thank you for not doing this Apple). I was trying to talk her into it all weekend, but she just wasn’t buying it. One night after she put her two kids to bed, she said “we need some music while we cook dinner, but it needs to be something mellow so we don’t wake up the kids.” My ultimate selling technique popped into my mind. “I wonder if this will work,” I think to myself. I hold down the home button on my iPhone and tell Siri “play me a mellow playlist.” Immediately, Siri answers “playing Halftime Naptime Mellow Mix.” Modest Mouse (one of my sister’s favorite bands, which she introduced me to ten years ago) comes on with “Gravity Rides Everything”, probably their most chill song, and she is sold.

The playlist continues with The Shins, Jose Gonzales, Elliott Smith, and the Postal Service. These are some of my favorite artists. I have tried it out more since then, and love the convenience. Try it. Tell Siri to play a playlist to workout with, or fall asleep to. It’s hard to beat.

My One Suggestion?

Allow Spotify users to transfer their playlists over (that can’t be that hard, right?), so hundreds of thousands of people like my sister won’t be so hard to convince.

Thank You, Apple

The truth is I have wanted to jump on the subscription train into the future with everyone else, but between not being convinced by Spotify, and not wanting to part with My Music in Apple, I never made the jump onboard. Thank you Apple for not just creating, but integrating a lovely service into what I already loved.

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