Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Category: For Men (page 2 of 24)

Old Scars and New Hope

Broken_Heart

Look closely at my forehead and you’ll see a diagonal scar. It is about an inch and a half long, and I will never forget the night I acquired it. I still remember falling and bashing my head on the edge of the swimming pool. I remember my dad forcing me to lie down, knowing that blood running down my face would terrify me. I remember the slight stinging sensation as the nurse prepared my wound for stitches. I remember the large bandage that they secured to my forehead. I remember playing in my grandmother’s back yard before returning home. I remember it all vividly, as if it were yesterday.

This memory is now over 30 years old. It will be with me forever, just like the scar on my forehead. I’ll always have this scar, but it is healed now. It doesn’t hurt anymore.

Physical scars are easy to see, but many of us also have emotional scars. Maybe you still have emotional wounds—memories that still hurt and “bleed” just like any skin laceration. There’s something I’ve noticed about sexual sin—it seems to carry more shame and guilt than almost all other forms of sin.

I’m writing this post for those who have made major relationship mistakes. This especially applies sexual immorality, but can also apply to bad decisions in general. There is hope for those who are brave enough to start making better choices.

Consider this passage from the Old Testament:

Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

Nathan replied, “Yes, but the LORD has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin. Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the LORD by doing this, your child will die.”

After Nathan returned to his home, the LORD sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife. David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused.

-2nd Samuel 12:13-17

This passage is part of one of the Old Testament’s most famous scandals—David and Bathsheba. King David first spotted Bathsheba as she bathed on a rooftop. He inquired about her and discovered that she was a married woman. He proceeded to invite her to his home and seduce her, which resulted in a pregnancy. He eventually arranged the murder of her husband to hide his own sin.

There was only one man brave enough to confront the King—the prophet Nathan. Nathan delivered a message of both forgiveness and consequences. I hope to do the same for you.

I wish I could tell you that there are no consequences for our behaviors. This is simply not true. If you’ve given away your virginity, there’s nothing you can do to get it back. Virginity is a one-time gift, and nothing in the world can change that reality. If you’ve watched pornography, some of those images will stay in your mind for years to come. If you’ve become an unwed mother, the course of your life has been permanently altered. None of these things can be undone, just like David’s sin could not be undone.

Fortunately, there’s more to the Bible than a list of consequences. David’s life was forever changed by his sin, but David was forgiven. The Bible tells us that he repented and admitted his sins to God (see Psalm 51). If you are willing to do this, God will forgive you—just as he forgave David (see also 1st John 1:9). God will not change the past, but He certainly can change your future!

Why change? Let me give you the following reasons:

First and foremost, you can live with a clear conscience before God. When you repent of your sins, you can enjoy true intimacy with God. You no longer have to be fake or “plastic” with God. You can freely invite Him to bless every aspect of your life, knowing that nothing is hidden from Him in the first place. You can sleep peacefully at night without having your conscience bother you.

Secondly, you can live without fear of further consequences. You have two choices: 1). keep making the same mistakes and follow a downward spiral, or 2). Live in the freedom that comes with obeying God. If you choose the second, you can stop worry about the physical, emotional, and physical consequences that come with sexual immorality. Leave those fears behind, along with your past life!

Thirdly, you can demonstrate a changed character for your future spouse. As I’ve mentioned before, I believe we have to be honest about our past. It may not be easy to tell a potential spouse that you’ve given away your virginity. The shame is only multiplied if you’ve continued to repeat this same mistake in many relationships. Imagine, for example, telling someone that you made a mistake ten years ago. Now, imagine having to confess multiple sexual partners (some of which are recent). Which is more difficult? Which would you rather say? Which would you rather hear? By making better choices, you can better prepare yourself for a lifetime commitment of marriage.

Sin (especially sexual sin) has a way of wounding our soul. God will heal these wounds if you let Him. Scars will be left behind, but these scars won’t hurt anymore.

David paid a high price for his sin—his life was never the same. David learned the value of God’s forgiveness through a painful process of restoration. The Bible ultimately assessed him as a man who was “completely faithful to the Lord” (1st Kings 11:4). His mistakes, severe as they were, did not define him.

By the way, David and Bathsheba did have another son. Maybe you’ve heard of him—his name was Solomon.

Note: This post is a excerpt from my first book: Basta LoveLife, Making Wise Relationship Decisions.

This article is one of many you’ll find in my book: Basta LoveLife: Making Wise Relationship Decisions. – See more at: http://kevinsanders.org/2007/01/the-male-sex-drive-blessing-or-curse/#sthash.XdynE42t.dpuf
This article is one of many you’ll find in my book: Basta LoveLife: Making Wise Relationship Decisions. – See more at: http://kevinsanders.org/2007/01/the-male-sex-drive-blessing-or-curse/#sthash.XdynE42t.dpuf

Father’s Day Gratitude

Father’s Day feels a little different for me this year. Maybe it’s because the past year or so has been full of emotionally charged events. I got married a little over a year ago, so becoming a father is something I see for myself in the not-too-distant future (Mare Cris and I are waiting until we get established in the States to take that step). Months later my mom passed away—a harsh reminder that no one, including our parents, will be with us forever.

I’d like to publicly share what is on my heart this Father’s Day.  These are some very personal memories and reflections that I hope will serve as a tribute to my dad.

Some time in the 70's

Some time in the 70’s

I was blessed to grow up in a home that was led by a hard-working, Christian dad. I’m sure I took him for granted at times, but even in my youth I realized some of my friends were not as fortunate as I. This became especially clear to me around the time of my early teenage years. Two of my best friends were from broken families. Mom and Dad always welcomed them in our home and even on some vacations/outings.

I remember one time when Dad allowed me to carry one of my friends on a fishing trip. We got up during the wee hours of the morning, hitched up the boat trailer to our old truck, and headed to the lake. Apparently the trailer was not quite connected the right way because it became unattached while we were going down the freeway. You can imagine our surprise when we saw the boat/trailer passing us in the left lane. Fortunately it ended up in the grassy median without causing a wreck (wasn’t much traffic at that time in the morning). I don’t remember how many fish we caught, but I assume the rest of the trip went well.

The Tradition Continues: Dad with his grandsons (2011).

The Tradition Continues: Dad with his grandsons (2011).

I could share dozens of fishing stories. Some would involve bringing along friends; most would be memories of just the family. All are precious to me, because I realize not all boys are blessed to grow up with dads who take them fishing.

Dad has been a deacon in our church as long as I can remember. He and Mom always made sure we were there every Sunday. Sometimes we would wake up early in the morning to cook for an event called Brotherhood Breakfast, a Sunday morning gathering of men in the church.  I know my life would not be what it is if I hadn’t grown up hearing the gospel on such a regular basis.  I’m blessed—not all boys have the privilege of growing up in a home with a strong spiritual leader.

I got really serious about my relationship with Christ early in my high school years. Not long after that I felt God was calling me into vocational ministry. It didn’t make much since to me since I was so shy. One night I told my parents what I sensed God was asking me to do. Their advice was similar to what Eli told Samuel (1st Samuel 3:8-9)—they encouraged me to keep listening to God and obey Him. Mom and Dad have always supported my ministry, even when it took me far away from them.

My early years of ministry were a real eye-opener for me. I still remember some of the training I went through as a teenager in preparation for doing prison ministry. “Be careful about referring to God as ‘father,’” the prison chaplain warned us, “that doesn’t bring up a nice image for many of the men you’ll meet in here.” I understood it, but I was thankful for being unable to relate to it.

I spent years as a substance abuse counselor after I graduated college. I did meet people who came from good families and just made bad choices. But I met a lot more whose lives seemed to be direct results of growing up without a father (or with a bad one). It made me all the more grateful–not all boys grow up in a stable, Christian home.

These and other memories have flooded my mind this Fathers’ Day.

There’s a lot more I could say here–all the lessons my dad has taught me about the importance of education, financial stewardship, and the list goes on.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad–I Love you!
I wouldn’t be the man I am without a father like you.

The righteous who walks in his integrity—
    blessed are his children after him!
-Proverbs 20:7

Praying for the One

Someone asked question to me through my Facebook page a few days ago:

“Is it OK to ask God to give me a specific person as my future spouse?”

This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this question, though people phrase it in different ways. Students have asked me, for example, if it is OK to pray about someone you admire.

Let me start my response this way: I definitely encourage singles to pray about relationship decisions. God is eager to guide us and give us wisdom about every choice we make—especially something as significant as who we will spend the rest of our lives with.

But you need to keep a few things in mind while you are praying. Let me first address the men, then the women:

For the Men:

A young man asked if he could pray and ask God for a specific girl during the Q/A portion of one of my seminars.

“You need to find out if she likes you first,” I replied, “otherwise, you may be wasting your prayers.”

I like the way Proverbs 27:5 puts it: “An open rebuke is better than hidden love!”

In other words, prayer is not intended to be a substitute for old-fashioned pursuit and courtship. If you like her, tell her and pursue her. One way or another, the answer is going to come from her, not directly from God. If she’s not interested then it’s time to move on.

For the Ladies:

I never encourage women to make the first move as far as initiating courtship or expressing romantic interest. With that in mind, here’s my main piece of advice: don’t assume a guy is interested in you unless he has made it 100% clear.

I’ve noticed a tendency among less mature Christian women: “praying for someone” can turn into a complete fantasy world. She’s planning the wedding and praying about what to name their first baby while the “potential husband” hasn’t even asked her out for coffee. Part of “guarding your heart” (Proverbs 4:23) means not allowing your fantasies to consume your thoughts.

A Few Final Thoughts (for Guys and Girls):

*Remember that “NO” is an answer, even if it isn’t the one we want to hear.

*Don’t expect God to supernaturally coerce someone into loving you. It doesn’t work that way.

*I really wish I didn’t have to say this, but I do: don’t tell someone you barely know that God told you to marry him/her. Your unsuspecting future spouse may not have gotten the divine memo.

*Last but not least, remember that God is not going to choose your spouse for you (see God’s Will and “The One.”). He will help you choose wisely, but don’t expect Him to choose for you.

Lies, Relationships, and Cockroaches

If you see one . . .

If you see one . . .


A faithful witness does not lie,
    but a false witness breathes out lies
-Proverbs 14:5

Sometimes I’ll get a text from someone who has caught a boyfriend/girlfriend in some kind of lie.  Here’s my main piece of advice if you are sure you’ve been lied to:  don’t ignore it!

Lies are a lot like cockroaches–find one and you can be pretty sure there are a lot more you haven’t discovered. 

A relationship requires complete trust, and there’s no way to have this when lies are involved.   It’s much better to be alone than to be in love with a liar.

 

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