Personal Letter

I received a long email from a precious twenty-something young woman pouring her broken heart out about her Christian boyfriend’s struggle with pornography. I responded to her email at length. But alas, it returned to me undeliverable. So, I decided to make it an open letter (with modifications, of course) to all the girlfriends just like her….

 


__________,

 

Thank you for sharing your heart. I grieve for you. By your very words I can tell you are weary, drained, discouraged, afraid, and torn.  I’ll cut right to the chase….  Bear with me, as I speak not only as your pastor, but like a big brother to my little sister. Or, being that I’m 42 and you’re [twenty-something] I guess I could speak to you like a father. Geesh! NO! Let’s keep it big brother and little sister!

It is disturbing to me that he has met with men and continues to meet with men weekly about the pornography, very open about his struggle even with them and you, yet there is no lasting repentance.  Where is the real “accountability” in that? Very disturbing and troubling.  This is what I’ve seen in so many Christian men for so long regarding the sin of pornography–the mantra of “I’m [still] struggling”…as if that makes it okay. And it does not. It is not genuine repentance.

_________, you already know in your heart what you must do. In fact, you could be an enabler for him, sadly. In other words, he’s told you his sin (as well as other men including [a family member]) with no real consequences. And he continues to struggle in his sin with no real repentance. And he gets you not only in a relationship but also physically when together.  His sin is not costing him anything. Why would he be serious about repenting from it?

Here’s the thing, ________. I speak confidently with over a decade of ministry experience with this kind of thing with men and marriages (and a lifetime as a male with male friends). Not only will his porn addiction not stop, it will intensify in your marriage. That’s a guarantee. And it will not end with porn. It will grow into other extreme forms of sexual sin. Bank on it. You think you are in pain now? You can’t fathom what’s coming. And what about when you have children? Now you have to worry about them being exposed and generational sin being passed on if he is not genuinely repentant.

Repentance is proven by time… not tries. Make sense?  In my personal understanding of Scripture, pornography is adultery, and yes, even a warrant for divorce. However, why even consider that potential for your future marriage? Listen to yourself, ________. That’s not even natural. You are not married to him. You are not responsible for him. He is not your ministry. You are not his messiah. There is no call upon you to “stick it out” with his porn problem. You are not his wife. So get a grip on your thinking here.

All my heart wants you to be spared from the pain that is coming. Trust me, _________, I am not being melodramatic. I am spending much time on this email because I’ve seen this scenario played out SO many times over decades. My sincere hope, and goal is to bring truth to where you are emotionally cloudy, if not deceived. Sadly, this young man will eventually lose his ministry if real repentance does not happen. I’m not talking about him being perfect.  No-one is perfect. We all stumble at times. But repentance means those stumblings are the exceptions, and not the norm labled—“I’m struggling.”

My sister, you are not his messiah. Accountability is overrated too. His heart must be shattered before God. His heart needs to break because he is breaking the heart of God. But that must be a work of God.  You just need to make sure that you are not in the way of that work. Don’t get in the way of the Messiah thinking you’re his messiah. Until his heart is broken, repentance will elude him. He needs to be broken before God long before he is broken before you.

__________, you know what you should do. I don’t have to tell you. But sadly, my heart is burdened for you. I have given this counsel many, many, many times to young women in your situation. And almost every time, if not every single time, my counsel was ultimately dismissed. Emotions ruled. I pray you might be the exception.

Praying for you, my sister in Christ….

Jarrod

Is there anything you would add?

* Updated July 19, 2014, 4:50pm:  We tracked down the correct email address for the young lady to whom the personal form of this letter was written and delivered it.

JJDayFood

My daily intake

Coming off the fourth of July damage, I figured this might be timely.  If you were like me, you took in extra, a lot of extra, sugary, fatty, starchy, meaty goodness over the holiday and weekend.

Time for a fresh start!

If you have not read my About page regarding why fitness is important to me, check it out HERE. Throw in these posts (HERE) for extra measure, and you’ll get the full picture.

I am forty-two years old, a husband, father of of four (ranging from four years old to ten years old), and lead pastor of a growing church presently consisting of four campuses, seven services, and many ministries.  In other words, I’m busy. But I’m fit and healthy. In fact, even though I was a college basketball player, I am more healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually now, than then. How? Eating well (this is 80% of the issue); exercise; and sleep (sleep is tough for me actually but that’s for another post). I’ll share more later. For now, my eating habits….

The picture above is how I eat and drink nearly seven days a week. The teaspoon of white goodness is not sugar. It’s Xylitol (sugar alcohol found in some fruits and veggies, not processed sugar). It’s wonderful for your teeth and easy on your body. Still, I use it sparingly and only with my green tea. I drink coffee in the mornings (black—no sugar, no creamer), and green tea in the afternoons. I drink tons of water throughout the day too (yes, many potty-breaks).

I begin every morning with an Isalean protein drink mixed with half-a banana, natural organic pure peanut butter, and powdered greens. (For more information on the special protein drink, greens, cleanse (that I’ll mention soon), and what protocal best fits you, check out my wife Christie’s site, HERE).  The rest of the day, I eat what you see in the picture above (except I have five eggs). Unless I have a lunch appointment, I don’t eat lunch. I just snack and sip on what you see above all day. It’s delicious and I’m never hungry. I throw in a pack of tuna if I’m egged out.

I allow my self two “cheat” meals a week (typically Friday nights and Sunday afternoons/nights). One cheat meal is best. But I’ve reached a point that I can afford two. On those cheat meals, I indulge in my favorite poisonssoda, ice cream, wings, pizza, burgers, cookies, and such. Now in my forties, I lay off soda more than ever, but I’ll down a soda or two here and there with pizza and burgers.

The day following my cheat meal(s), I do a fast and cleanse until noon or three in the afternoon. For example, Saturday morning I drank a botanical/herbal cleanse every three hours while drinking tons of water to flush out my system. To break the fast, I had the protein shake with greens, followed by a chicken and veggie dish Christie prepared for dinner (and preached two services with more energy than ever). I do the same fast protocol on Mondays. If no chicken and hot veggies, I go for the boiled eggs and raw greens. In a bind, I go to organic natural peanut butter and an apple. (Hint: The ingredients in your peanut butter should only say this: “Peanuts,” or “Peanuts, salt” and the like.)

Stay away from diets. They are no good. And they are discouraging. It’s about lifestyle. I want to live a lifestyle that allows me to enjoy life with my wife, play hard with my sons especially when they are teenagers, and preach five or more services till kingdom come. As the Apostle Paul wrote, I want to be a tool useful to the Master (2 Tim 2:21). I’m a sharper tool when healthy and fit. And so are you…

Helpful? Where do you struggle?  What do you do to be healthy and fit? Do share! I truly geek out over this stuff.

Lookin’ out for you….

providence 1I’ve lost count over the years of how many asks and emails I’ve received about where I fully land in the debate of “Predestination (Calvinism) vs. Free-Will (Arminianism).” (If you want a grasp of the arguments of both camps, go HERE.)

This past weekend I was forced to deal with the debate fairly head-on due to the launch of a teaching-series through the book of Malachi entitled, “Going through the Motions.”  The second verse of Malachi reveals God declaring, ““I have loved Jacob, Esau I have hated” (Malachi 1:2-3). There’s no running away from that!

If you’re interested in hearing the sermon where I share my personal feelings regarding the blood-bath that comes from the “Predestination vs. Free-will” debate, as well as the “love/hate” issue in Malachi, but especially the breathtaking love of God for His people, please check out the sermon podcast. Just go HERE (Itunes) or HERE (Grace Community Church site) and listen to “Heartless” (6/29/14).

For what it’s worth, I thought I would take this opportunity to come out of the closet about where I fully land regarding my position in the debate. Below is a link to a 25-page position paper I wrote for a seminary study on the Providence of God taught by Dr. Bruce Ware in the Spring of 2000. In fact, when I have been asked or emailed about my full position in this debate over the years, I’ve answered by sending this paper (Meaning, if you are really that interested in knowing, you will have to work for it! :-) ).

I carefully re-read the paper recently and my position has not changed one iota in nearly 15 years. So if you’re interested, here you go. And more than answering curiosity on where I fall on this issue, perhaps this paper will serve to answer other questions you have on the topic also (see “Table of Contents” below). Or even better, perhaps it will serve to expand your vision of the greatness and glory of God in Christ. 

Grab some coffee (lots of coffee), your Bible, a pen and journal, and dig in.

The Providence of God by Jarrod Jones
Table of Contents
Providence and Natural Law:  Page 1
Providence and Human Freedom/Moral Responsiblity: Page 3
Providence and Conversion: Page 7
Providence and Election: Page 9
Providence and Evangelism/Missions: Page 16
Providence and Prayer:  Page 21

* Comments are closed on this post

father Sons want to capture their dad’s awe. Daughters want to capture their dad’s attention. John Elderidge, in his little booklet, You Have What It Takes: What Every Father Needs To Know, states it this way: “Little boys look to their dads to answer the question: ‘Do I have what it takes? Am I a man?’ Little girls look to their dads to answer the question: ‘Am I lovely? Am I worth fighting for?’ “

I believe those questions are answered through their dad’s Holy Kiss.

1) The Holy Kiss of Affection.

Hug your sons. Dote on your daughters. Hug your son long and tight. Cup his face in your hands and tell him he is a man and has what it takes. Give your son a literal holy kiss to his cheek and forehead. The Prodigal Son’s dad kissed him again and again and again (according to the original language)!

Also, dads, kiss your daughter. Stroke her face and tell her she’s lovely and worth fighting for. Scratch her back, rub her feet, hold her hand, hug her tight, and let her sit in your lap.

And do all the above whether they are six or forty-six.

2) The Holy Kiss of Captivation.

Your son is asking, “Do I have what it takes? Am I a man?” He’s asking this as he flips off the couch, shows you his drawing, runs down the track, gets cut from the team, shares his dirty secret, weeps after the break-up, hands you his acceptance letter, or mentions his promotion. Are you noticing (not grading)? Are you affirming with your undivided attention? Are you showing him he captivates you?

Your daughter is asking, “Am I lovely? Am I worth fighting for?” She’s asking this as she prances about, sings and dances, arm-wrestles you, competes against her brothers, keeps climbing into your lap, performs in recitals, gets no invite to the prom, shows you her new clothes and pedicure, rambles on about her friends and boys, and struggles in her marriage. Are you paying attention? Are you showing that you are captivated by her?

3) The Holy Kiss of Availability.

I received a book years ago about practical ways to love my sons. One sentence read, “Take his calls…forever.” In other words, be available. And dads, that has to do with your son and/or daughter’s timetable, not yours. Jesus retreated to spend time with His Father early mornings, late at night, or all night. And His Father was always available.

So trust that the lawn will get mowed, the emails will get answered, the deadline will be met, and grace will come for sleep deprivation. Welcome your kids to interrupt your time, your work, your game, and your movie. Be available to them till kingdom come. And give them your holy kiss…forever.

tightrope2It’s tough enough to preach a sermon on “Money” to New Yorkers. But to stand before 2500+ people (and knowing it would be podcast to many more) and say, “I am saddened, frustrated, and disappointed in the overall giving of our Church. But I take the blame. It’s a failure in my leadership”? Well, that is outright horrifying. H.o.r.r.i.f.y.i.n.g. Yet God led me to do just that this past weekend.

I’m sure you can literally hear my sweat in the sermon podcast.  I felt like I needed sponging off after every service. In fact, before our seven weekend services began Saturday night, I awoke from a nightmare about this around 2:00am Saturday, and barely slept again.  To truly know why this was a huge deal, you have to hear the sermon to get the full context. (Go HERE to listen or watch the sermon podcast).

How did I know this was of God? How did I come to the place of knowing that if I didn’t share my heart I would be disobedient?As I journaled about it this morning, I wanted to share it with you.

Early last week, I just happened to be reading Hebrews 13 in my devotional time with the Lord.  Hebrews 13:5-7 NLT jolted me! It was about, you guessed it, MONEY. Coincidence? No such thing in God’s agenda. The Hebrew author quotes an Old Testament passage in those verses: Psalm 118:6 (but the context that gripped me is verses 7-9 that follow it!). I found great encouragement and confirmation to move forward in what the Lord was leading me to share.

Then, Saturday morning hit. I began doubting. I started second-guessing, especially after that nightmare!  The easy path was to preach what I had planned weeks ago and trust the Lord with the rest. But was that really what the Lord wanted? So I took my Bible again and went outside to sit before the Lord, and pray, and listen. “Lord, are you sure? Is this of you? Please speak to me. I’m nervous. I’m anxious. I just want to be sure this is of you.”

I opened my Bible back to Hebrews 13:5-7. Keep in mind the context of that passage is about money. Out of that text I noticed another Old Testament passage quoted by the Hebrew’s author that I had missed all week: Deuterononmy 31:6-8.  Specifically, it was verse 8 that brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes: “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord is the one who goes before you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

In that moment, all doubts, all second-guessing, evaporated. After wiping tears, and sitting there for a while just praising and worshiping the Lord for speaking so clearly to my heart, I walked in and said to Christie: “Babe, I know that I know that I know now that what I’m sharing this weekend must be shared. If I do not share it, I will be disobedient.  But pray for me HOW I share it!”) :-).

Now, it is Monday morning. Do I feel naked, raw, vulnerable? Yes. Have I received some negative responses (with more to come, I’m sure)? Yes.

But more so, the response of many of the leadership and people of Grace has been overwhelming in encouragement to me personally. In fact, after the final service, a precious servant on our staff came backstage in tears and hugged me. Also, after I prayed to end the final service, I walked off the stage and basically into the arms, smiles, support, and love of our Washingtonville campus worship team waiting right behind the curtain for me. Wow. I get choked up even now thinking about that. And this was after they had to cut a song due to my long-windedness!

But even more so, there has been an overwhelming response by Grace family and friends to the call and challenge to honor the Lord first from their income through tithes and offerings*.  All along, this has not been about me (though this post kind of is, I know). This is about how worthy Jesus is of our first and best financially, and how one cannot lose to give toward that which cannot be stopped–God’s church. THIS was what God wanted our people (and maybe you?) to hear, but especially obey. Will you?

Personally speaking, I sit on this side of the weekend with joy that I obeyed. It was a landmark weekend for me personally, spiritually, and as a pastor and leader.  I feel God’s pleasure. I have spent the morning in gratitude, worship, and joy before Him, His speaking to me, and giving grace to speak tough words through me. Oh, His pleasure…. My friend, there is nothing greater. I want this for you so much.

Where is God leading you to do one of the toughest things you have ever done? Don’t be afraid before it. And no matter what happens after it, don’t be discouraged. He goes before you. He will never leave you nor forsake you, especially when it comes to your money (Hebrews 13:5-7).

* If you are interested to know more about Grace’s “Don’t Waste Your Internet 500,” go HERE.