Thursday, September 09, 2004

God Takes Us Back

After playing around with my camera at the apartment, I drove back to campus for Bible study at the interfaith center. Matt Parris and Mary led the study. I would say that the topic was what I needed to hear tonight. We read from Exodus 32: 7-14. This told the story of how God forgave his people and did not inflict punishment even though they had turned away from Him and began to worship a golden calf. In 1 Timothy: 12-17, Paul states how grateful he is that God has shown mercy on him, even though he was once a persecutor and an arrogant man. He states, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost." Thirdly, from Luke 15 are the parables of The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and The Lost Son, telling us that God is always showing compassion and reaching for our hearts.

This topic really hit me because I was just talking to Adam about sin yesterday, and how it is so hard to avoid. Especially, the sin of impure thoughts. This is the sin that I believe I struggle with the most. Just walking around campus it is so hard not to have impure thoughts about females that walk by. Of course they don't help my situation out any by dressing the way they do. I really need to work on this, and if you have any suggestions or ways to help, lay them on me. The only thing I know to do right now is pray about it, and to be comforted knowing that God will always take me back.

Ah, yet another masterpiece. I took this picture when walking into the Interfaith Center for Bible Study. I think it was appropriate for tonight.


Blogger David said...

I read about a tactic in a book that I think works well. It's called "bouncing the eyes". It pretty much means what it sounds like, whenever your eyes gravitate towards something you shouldn't be looking at quickly "bounce" them away and focus on something else.

Your impure thoughts need something from which to feed, so one way to reduce impure thoughts is to starve your sexual appetite. This may seem extreme and unnatural at first, but it's because in our modern culture we have been over-sexed to the point of sexual obesity. It's amazing how much can change if you start looking women in the eyes and nothing else. Our culture has made it common for women to be seen as lust objects, and it's very hard to go against that. Especially, as you mentioned, when some pratically walk around naked.

I'm not saying you can't admire a woman for her God-given beauty, you just have to make sure that those thoughts never come anywhere near lust; and sometimes that takes extreme measures.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Dave. :)

Blogger Melodie said...

Good blog Mikey. I'll be praying for you, but since I am a woman i doubt I have any advice for you, but I hear a lot that "Every young man's battle" is an awesome book. I read the girl's version "Every woman's battle," and it totally rocked! Later.

Blogger Michael-Fay said...

Well, Mikey, I don't know that I have any good advice for you. I think it's awesome that you recognize the sin and want to change it; that is exactly what God wants from you. However, He does not want you beating yourself up over this. How many times in grade school did you hear that we are all sinners and no matter how hard you try, you're human and will always sin?? Well, take that to heart right now.

I think, too often, we feel pressured by our beliefs/friends/whatever to stop sinning altogether, or to confess every single act of sinfulness to God in confession (or prayer). This isn't a bad thing until you take it to the extreme; if you think that by prayer and faith in God you can stop lusting after women (or whatever vice is plaguing you at the time) then you are grossly mistaken.

Buddy, I mean you no disrespect, but "What the bleep" are you thinking? The sin in life will always be with us and God knows that. He knows we are weak and we'll keep sinning day in, and day out. He doesn't want promises from us saying we'll stop ... (insert sin). That is why he gave us Grace; Jesus died for our sins. Yes Sends, all these pesky little things that keep you from a closer relationship with God, all these big things that make you feel unclean, they all are forgiven because Jesus died for us. All God wants to hear every morning is, "I love you and I will do my best." All God wants to hear every night is, "I love you and I'm sorry for (...)"

He doesn't expect any more, but He won't settle for anything less, than your best effort. So keep trying, keep praying, keep asking forgiveness; He has already forgotten your sins, so stress yourself out over it.

I love you buddy, because you love God and you want to be a better human being (and you're fun to be with). I will pray for you.


And Remember: Even St. Paul died with sin on his heart; but he knew that it doesn't matter what we do, because we have been given grace. Grace will not be taken from us for what we do, because it wasn't given as a reward for the good we've done. It is God's eternal gift; it came in Jesus Christ. I don't intend to say that sinning is ok, but rather we shouldn't stress ourselves over perfection, because we cannot achieve it.

Blogger Hinton said...

"if you think that by prayer and faith in God you can stop lusting after women (or whatever vice is plaguing you at the time) then you are grossly mistaken."

Umm....what the bleep?

Mike, prayer and faith and seeking after God more and more is the ONLY way you can be rescued from your sin; and yes, it certainly can be done. Do I mean to say you can reach a point where you no longer sin? Of course not. However, you can certainly get to a point where, for example, lust isn't really a problem any more! Sanctification is a process amigo; a battle if you will. It's not something that happens over night though, and not without God's grace either. But it IS an attainable goal. It sounds like M-Fay has given it up as a lost cause and is just going to bank on God's forgiveness. But you know what? God is a WRATHFUL God. You were quoting from Exodus, so why don't you just take a look at what happens earlier in Exodus 32, when the Levites go rampaging through the camp and kill 3,000 people. God wants us to pursue personal holiness Mike, not give up on it.

1 Thessalonians tells us to "excel still more". John 15 tells us to remain in Him and he will prune us back so that we can bear even more fruit. Phillipians 4 says that "I can do ALL things through Him who strengthens me."

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate everyone's comments. I know I can't be a perfect person, but I still want to be a better person because of the love and sacrifice God has given us. And therefore, I will still strive to do better and pray for God's help.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, dearest brother, I wasn't going to comment at all on this topic because I'm pretty sure you don't wanna hear what I have to say. You felt that way for awhile now. But I don't think I can keep my mouth shut anymore. I don't necessarily agree with everything that Fay said to you about you're "problem" but he's a good man, and I haven't heard such good advice in awhile. First off, I really don't believe that you're sinning at all. I'm gonna go all Zen on you or something...but what exactly is a sin? It's a state of being, right? If you are involved in some situation or action that makes your life feel unbalanced...or as they say,you're distancing yourself from God, this is sinning. So in essence, it's just a state of mind, a state of being. Now, your problem is finding girls attractive...well, honey, that's biology pure and simple. It's a part of your genetic make-up. Now, of course, too much of anything in life isn't good for you. This can mean that if you have too much cake you might have a heart attack. Or, if all your life is focused on how a girl looks in her underwear, your life will no longer be balanced...priorities must be kept straight or you will drive yourself insane.
I don't really know how to explain this, but this wrathful God, that's been mentioned, is simply a character in a book. Sure, there are morals to be learned from the stories, but you don't have to make yourself a total wreck over them. You are a wonderful, thoughtful guy. I know this because I'm your sister and I have been around you a lot longer than anybody else...I know you, and in comparison to me, you're a saint. Anyway, I'm not going to go into the stuff that I believe, you don't wanna hear it. But I want you to hear this...I'm proud that you are always trying to be a better's a noble endeavor...but please, realize that your "problem" is not a problem unless you let it become one and it's certainly no sin, no matter what anybody or any book tells you. Well, I love you buddy, and I will talk to you later. Ris

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sister, of course I want to hear what you have to say, and I am really glad that you commented. I want to hear the comments of everyone because I am trying to figure out my faith, what I should believe, and why I believe the things I do. I have asked mother dear to comment as well. I'm really anxious to hear what she has to say.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Said...

I couple different points have been brought up and I agree with both of them. But Since your question was if we had any helpful suggestions I'll stay out of that.

I’ve hear of the bouncing eyes and I’m sure it works really well for some people but it was not working out for me, So. One thing I try to do is of course look at Girls faces only. But the main thing is don't look at the Hot Chica but look at the daughter of loving parents, look at the daughter struggling to make it on her own, look at the girl who on the inside feels alone, or the girl who is so excited she just aced her test. I think you should be getting the point now. By just looking at Chicas it objectifies them, so instead try to see the human side of the girl, who has thoughts and feeling and is not just a hot thing to jump on.

This is a thing that almost all men struggle with but there is hope and the struggle can be won. I myself am in the mitts of battle not really seeing the end but I do know several men who now longer have to deal with this struggle much.

Another thing to know is (sorry this is getting long) is that the roots of the word sin supposedly come from an old archery term which met missing the bull’s-eye, or missing the mark. I say this, to show that Sinning is not the end of the world it just means you have not hit the mark God set for you. But the thing is no one is going to always hit that mark. You just have to practice your “Aiming” so that hopefully you’ll hit the mark more often.

This is all I can say about a struggle which I have a very hard time with self. Oh yeah and one last thing (I promises) if you stopped saying things about hot Chicas, even though I know it’s jokingly, I think it will help, but I sure you already knew that. And good will in you struggle.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've had a few thoughts on this recent topic of sin and forgiveness. Well, to be honest more than a few. I hesitate to put them in print because it's really not the same as dialogue. I will at least make an attempt to put my various thoughts in some cohesive order.
The readings from Sunday last are among my favorite Biblical "stories". Who wouldn't be relieved that the prodigal son was forgiven---whew!! that's a load off! That's the straight forward of it. Remember though, that Luke was Greek and had a gift like M. Night Shyamalan--great with a twist to shake up the coplacent Jewish-Christians. Remember the "sinner" is INSIDE feasting on fatted calf, and the self-righteous one is OUTSIDE of his Father's house fuming. What the heck! Hadn't he followed all the rules! I think that Bible study (or the study of any text) must also include historic and other contextual references to aid comprehension. Many of my Christian friends have no inkling of early Church history. Damn shame.
Now onto the the "sin" of impure thoughts. Sexuality is normal. Thinking, imagining, dreaming-- ALL GOOD. Especially for any future partner who may benefit from your rehearsal. Obviously, when something,including sex, becomes an obsession that is an unhealthy thing. This is true from both a spiitual, physical, emotional, or psychological perspective. As your sister stated--you are out of balance when that happens. I personally don't believe there is anything intrinsically evil about intimacy. And let's face it, sex, if its a good relationship is usually very intimate. Most Catholic priests I've talked to in recent years will tell you that the "sins of the flesh" were empahasized a little too much in the past. The key here is RESPECT for your partner or potential partner. (Yes, all those scantily-clad women are potential partners.) Even Andrew Greeley (Jesuit Priest and author) maintains that it is possible to undress someone with your eyes and not give offense--if it's done respectfully! Don't believe me ask a mature, confident female and see if she doesn't agree. She may blush, but she isn't offended. Now this is not licence to participate in lewd behavior..and I think you know that I am not advocating such. I also will tell you that the Grace possible in a mature intimate relationship will be one of the earthly ways you may experience God. In fact, if you are blessed you will be grace (God) for each other. And before all the fundamentalists go nuts that is not not heresy I speak. St Clement said "to know the Self is to know God".
Finally, (heavy sigh from the cheap seats) I tend to think that God does not really differentiaiate between good and bad. He says he makes the rain to fall on both the wicked and the just. That was Mosaic Law--and its great to have laws to govern earthly society. Christ's message was one of forgiveness and compassion. Jesus mostly speaks of enlightenment--moving toward the divine. Not the vengeful God of the Hebrew Bible, but a loving God of compassion and mercy. The concept of original sin is the early Church's way of telling us we are born this way. Sin is not something we do, but something we are. When we are separate from God, Spirit, Divine, we are lacking, suffering. Being human is not the cause of sin but it does impede us in our search toward God. We, like Christ, must transcend our ego, our self, and seek the selfless. William Law said "All sin,death, damnation, and hell is nothing else but this kingdom of self..."
So, no, I don't think normal sexual thought is BAD or a SIN. Any more than I think craving ice cream is detrimental to the soul. I think you are beating yourself up for no good reason. Lustful thoughts followed by guilt and self-flagellation followed by lustful thoughts...etc is in itself obsessive. Like trying not to mention the elephant in the room. I think its commendable that you are seeking answers for yourself and equally commendable that you listen to many differing opinions, including this one! Read them all and then listen to your own heart--your own Spirit--God's voice and know what is right for you. Acceptance,forgiveness, transcendence these will set you on a higher path.
Know that I am blessed with grace just knowing you.
You dearest Mother

Blogger David said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Blogger David said...

***Sorry about the above deleted post, the links were broken, they're fixed now.***

Marissa, you said that finding girls attractive is biology and of course you're right, but that's not the problem that Mikey is talking about. It may be that girls don't exactly know what he's talking about here due to the fact that most of the time guys are way more "visually stimulated" than girls. That's why the majority of pornography watchers are men.

Let me try to further explain what Mikey is talking about (and Mikey, if I get it wrong of course correct me). Girls may look at a guy and think, "Wow look at those muscles, he must work out." And then promptly move on with their lives. Guys on the other hand may look at a woman and say, "Wow look at those breasts, she's a full healthy woman." And while some may move on with their lives, others may steal a second glance, and then a third, and so on. Then that image is stuck in our minds and we begin to dwell on it, and then that leads to other things that definitely are not holy outside of marriage. In order to control our minds (2 Corinthians 10:5), and essentially to obey the commands of Christ (Matthew 5:28), we must take extreme measures.

Marissa, you also said that in comparison to you, Mikey is a saint. While sometimes I wish I could do this to justify things, it's never a good thing to do. Yeah, I downloaded an illegal MP3, so what? Nero burned down Rome. If you want to compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to Christ. That's when you begin to realize that you cannot compare and that by only grace can you be saved. Which leads to me the last thing I have to say...or uhh, type.

Micheal is right when he says that God does not want promises from us. (See Matthew 21:28-31 and Ecclesiastes 5:4-5) However, God does not want us to be complacent with our sins (see Romans 6:1 and James 1:22-25). Santification is a journey and a hard-fought battle at the same time. Micheal, I don't see where you're getting that one is grossly mistaken if they think that by prayer and faith in God they can stop [named sin]; I'm with Adam, I see it as the only way. Granted you may never overcome [named sin], but that's no excuse to give up.

Grace saves us from sin but does not rid it from us, we must take the initiative to do our best to become like Christ.


Blogger Parris said...

Treat your sisters in Christ as you would treat Ris.


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