Slay Your Inner Demon (1 of 3)

"We all have inner demons to fight. We call these demons 'fear' and 'hatred' and 'anger'. If you don't conquer them, then a life of 100 years is a tragedy. But if you do a life of one day can be a triumph." - Bruce Lee (From the Movie: Dragon) 

One of the things we all deal with is, what many refer to as, our "inner demons." Whether these are born of insecurities, things we lack, irreversible past treatment, deep dark desires, unmet needs, unquenched thirsts, or simply fears, they are real. Many people are tortured daily by their demons and if we let them, they will drag us down to the pit of darkness, despair and eventually, if we give in, they will lead to our destruction. Even if you do not give in to them they often work as a distraction, keeping us from the life God desires for us.

So, what you and I want to know is what the freak to do about it? I mean, how can we not let our demons ruin our life?

Side note: I can hear in my head someone saying, "Just denounce them. Don't acknowledge them, then they won't get a foothold in your life." I'm sorry, but that's just so ignorant, in my humble opinion. That's like ignoring or not acknowledging when the doctor says you have cancer. Also, I am uncertain if we can ever completely rid ourselves of our demons. And when I say "demons" I am not talking about an actual demon, but rather our carnal selfish flesh, our sinful nature - the part of us that wants to do whatever the hell we want, when we want and with who we want. You understand? I am not talking about demon possession. That's a whole other teaching.

1) Know Your Demon - What I mean is that we should know what our struggle is; know your enemy. I think most of us do know what our demon is - whether Lust, Pride, Fear, Insecurities, etc. When you know your demon, you know not to give in, and you know it's not God speaking to you. Make sense? Know what voice belongs to who. Many times all this takes is a little commonsense. I find the Holy Spirit to be a HUGE help in knowing and identifying my demon.

For example: I know that when I feel like skipping church, its the Devil speaking to me. I know God wouldn't be asking me to skip church, and I know that the Devil isn't going to encourage faithful church attendance. I know when I feel like being selfish and not supporting my church financially, it's the Devil. I know God encourages generosity. (I am sure there is some one who would like to dispute this obvious point, but I am speaking generally here ... of course we all know there are always exceptions to most rules. But frankly a person who would want to dispute this is only attempting to justify why they are stingy and not obeying God. People who are generous would agree with this principle 100%)

Let me continue; I know it's not God telling me to run off with some other woman and leave my wife and kids. Duh! But how many of us know people who have done this and have actually claimed it was God? But even commonsense would tell you that is something you should not do, but it happens all the time. I could go on with example after example, but you get the point. Know your demon!

2) Don't Obey Your Demon - This seems so easy, doesn't it? But it's a lot harder than it sounds, huh? How many times have we considered doing what our demon is asking us to do. Even with the above examples? It's strange how the demon can make something that is so wrong seem so right. Our demon makes it seem like such a great idea, saying things like, "You deserve it" or "You don't want to miss out on that ..." or "It will make you so happy ..." and so many other tempting one liners. 

I have helped people through these very struggles and always thought, "how can they not see that this is so stupid" until I faced some of the very same demons speaking to me. Wow, it's real, and not always easy when you are the one wrestling the demon. Often the craziest thing can be so tempting.

What I have learned is so very helpful here, is to have good trustworthy friends, who are people of character who you can go to and they can confirm for you, "dude, that's crazy! Don't do it!" Then your response should be, "Okay, I won't!" I can't tell you how many people have come to me about something I have said, "Dude, that's crazy! Don't do it!" To only have them go ahead and do it, and later regret it.

1 John 4:4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

To Be Continued ... 

Why Pastors Have Affairs (2 of 3)

1)      Stay Close to Jesus.
To me this is the biggest and most critical thing in keeping yourself from an affair. Live as close to the one who is Holy! And this seems strange that I’d say this writing about “Pastors” but even we pastors can stray away from Jesus. Weird I know, but we can get so busy doing the work of the Lord and forget the LORD of the work. Your relationship with Jesus is the #1 most important thing in living a holy life!
2)      Work On Your Marriage
I speak on this all the time … but a good marriage takes work, so work hard on it. It doesn’t happen just because you walked an isle and said some, “I dos and I wills and I promise” it takes so much more than that. Do it! I highly recommend couples read at least a book a year on marriage, attend a marriage series at church or seminar or do a marriage retreat once a year. Anything you can do for “continuing education” on the subject of marriage!
3)      Work On Yourself
Spirit, soul and body! Take time for yourself. Make sure you are not wearing yourself out! Make sure you are getting rest, exercising, reading, taking time off, journaling, etc. Not only that, but if you have issues, which you do, work through them with a counselor, or close wise friend.
4)      Protect Yourself
You know what your boundaries are, come on! If you find someone at your work attractive you can’t go to lunch with them every day! Come on, you are smarter than that! “Oh but we work together!” So, why don’t you go to lunch with the weird ugly person? Be smart. Don’t put yourself in situations that could compromise all that you believe! Know and understand that we are ALL susceptible to the lures of an affair, and people who feel they are not, are MOST vulnerable! The Bible says that “pride comes before a fall.” Be humble, smart and make wise decisions!
5)      Have Real Accountability Partners
Having REAL accountability partners! Not suedo-accountability partners! Have people of the same sex that you are completely honest and vulnerable with about your every struggle, temptation, fear, dream, passion, etc.
6)      Don’t Look at Porn
I realize this one falls under “protect yourself” and “live close to Jesus” but I felt it needed to be a stand-alone. I truly believe Porn is poison. It is addictive. It is something most men struggle with, and all men are tempted with on a regular basis. The bottom line is that men are visual, and they want to see women naked. Again, it’s important to “protect yourself” however you need to keep you from looking at Porn. I use, I am sure there are others out there.

To Be Continued ... It's About You

Why Pastors Have Affairs (1 of 3)

I have been in ministry for 22 years and each year I hear reports of pastors having extramarital affairs. And over the last few years it’s been pastors I know personally, and some would be considered close friends. I just received a call the other day that another friend I’ve known for the last 10 years has fallen.
It breaks my heart each time I hear of another pastor falling into sexual sin. It’s disconcerting, sad, frustrating, disheartening, scary, confusing, disappointing and hurtful. I am not even sure all the emotions it raises in me … but primarily one of great sadness. And not only for the one who had the affair, but for all those affected; the people he pastored, the city he pastored in, his family, and of course the person he had the affair with. So many people affected in these scenarios. In recent years my family was affected by a good friend, who is (was) a pastor, who had an affair. It is absolutely devastating for everyone involved!  
To answer the QUESTION, “Why Do Pastors Have Affairs?” I would say that the simple answer is that Pastors have affairs for the very same reason any person has an affair. Pastors are no different than anyone else in the world, though they are viewed as someone who should be living a higher life. And frankly I do believe that this is something that should be considered by anyone looking to become a minister; can you live holy and be above approach? I understand this, for I am a pastor. Although people shouldn’t look at pastors any different than they do anyone else, but they do. It comes with the job. It’s called, “living in a glass house.”
Let’s unpack this a little here, shall we!
Reasons Pastors (people) Have Affairs
1)      The Marriage Relationship is Broken.
Every relationship has its issues, but if something in the relationship is broken there should be continuous effort given, by both parties, to resolve the issue.
2)      They are broken.
Every human being is broken on some level and capable of the greatest of evil. Just like in a relationship we should seek to resolve issues with each other, we also ought to resolve our own issues that reside deep within.
3)      Their spouse is broken.
Same as above.
4)      Opportunity.
This one surprises many people, because they will typically say, “I would never have an affair!” And that is just an ignorant statement that we’ve all made, even those who have had affairs have made that statement. We are all capable of having an affair, especially if given the right circumstances; opportunity. No one is exempt! We all must guard ourselves.
5)      Selfish & Immoral
Some people are just selfish and immoral and have affairs because they want to have affairs and have no moral compass keeping them from such activity. They do it because they want to do it. Most likely you cannot help these people, unless you can help them see that they are wrong.   
To Be Continued … Ways to Protect Yourself from Having an Affair