Monday, March 21, 2016

Freedom from the Performance Treadmill

Two weeks ago our friend and my mentor Jerry Bridges went  home to the Lord. As I was re-reading his classic book "Transforming Grace" today, Jerry reminded me once again about my (our) freedom from the performance treadmill in Christ Jesus. I need to hold fast to this reality for myself and the men I pastor in my church and through WACMM. Below are some excerpts of Jerry's wisdom I trust you will find helpful and encouraging:

“My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our personal relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. If we’ve performed well—whatever “well” is in our opinion—then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works rather than grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the “sweat” of our own performance…


“Living by grace instead of by works means you are free from the performance treadmill. It means God has already given you an “A” when you deserved an “F.” He has already given you a full day’s pay even though you may have worked for only one hour. It means you don’t have to perform certain spiritual disciplines to earn God’s approval. Jesus Christ has already done that for you. You are loved and accepted by God through the merit of Jesus, and you are blessed by God through the merit of Jesus. Nothing you ever do will cause Him to love you any more or any less. He loves you strictly by His grace given to you through Jesus...
“To live by grace is to live solely by the merit of Jesus Christ. To live by grace is to base my entire relationship with God, including my acceptance and standing with Him, on my union with Christ. It is to recognize that in myself I bring nothing of worth to my relationship with God, because even my righteous acts are like filthy rags in His sight (Isaiah 64:6). Even my best works are stained with motives and imperfect performance. I never truly love God with all my heart, and I never truly love my neighbor with the degree or consistency with which I love myself…

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God…

“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6–8)…There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)…For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:15, 16)”

As we meditate on truths like these, our minds are renewed and freed from enslavement to performance. Focusing on the truth that our acceptance with God is purely because of His grace toward us in Christ will keep us humble and dependent on the Spirit of God. 

Bridges ends his chapter on, “The Performance Treadmill,” with an illustration of Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan (2 Samuel 9), in which he likens the lame man’s ever-helpless physical condition to our spiritual need of grace and makes this application: “Mephibosheth never got over his crippled condition. He never got to the place where he could leave the king’s table and make it on his own. And neither do we”.

That is the key! We must never lose sight of our helpless condition and desperate need of grace. As we make progress in the Christian life, we must guard against the pride that too often grows from valuing our performance above His grace. True acceptance is based solely on God’s gracious work in Jesus. When we learn to rest in this truth, feelings of acceptance by God will follow.Bottom of Form

Friday, March 11, 2016

When Washrooms Are Weaponized

Building Codes as Opportunities for Activism
TIME magazine recently observed, “Bathrooms often become battlegrounds in fights over civil rights.” San Francisco now requires single-occupancy washrooms be designated as gender-neutral, and a gender-neutral washroom on each floor of new buildings. Gender-neutral washrooms have been added to the city’s building inspection checklist.

When, days ago, South Dakota’s governor vetoed a bill requiring students to use washrooms corresponding to their biological gender, some conservatives reacted positively, describing the veto as advancing “local control” of such decisions. Yet Christians should be concerned about how local building codes are “weaponizing” washrooms to advance the transgender agenda. Although TIME says San Francisco’s bill goes “beyond similar laws in other cities,” it falls well short of what transgender lobbyists want. For example, Vassar College similarly created a “Gender Neutral Bathrooms Initiative” ensuring a gender-neutral facility in each building. However, the “Vassar Queer Health Initiative” student group objected that this didn’t go far enough. They want all college washrooms to be “all-gender.”

Women as Collateral Damage in the Culture War
Particularly chilling is how VHQI belittled concerns from women about such a change: “Cisgender women [biological females identifying as female] often claim uncomfortability [sic] in all-gender bathroom situations….VHQI attributes cisgender women’s fear of transwomen in bathrooms to transmisogyny and not actual dangers to their safety.”

In other words: if you’re a woman who isn’t comfortable with men in your washroom, shame on you! You’re uncomfortable because you’re a bigot, not because there might be a danger to your safety!

Foreshadowing what is to come, a man recently twice entered the women’s change room in a municipal pool in Seattle (Washington guarantees access to locker rooms “according to a person’s gender identity”). The man declared, “the law has changed and I have a right to be here.” The second time he went in, a group of young girls were changing for swim practice.

Transgender “rights” inevitably will be—and probably already are being—used as “cover” for sexual predators. When gender distinctions are minimized, women suffer most.

How are Christians to respond to such cultural pressure? Society’s desire to blur gender distinctions represents both a challenge and an opportunity for believers.

Preparing for the Genderless Legal Environment
Here is the challenge to the church. Distinguishing between men and women even in the provision of washroom facilities is increasingly considered a bigoted act. What will happen when a Christian restaurant owner refuses to allow a man to access the women’s washroom? (Here’s my prediction).

What of families in public places? This forces a terrible dilemma upon Christian men. As a man I’m called to protect women and girls, which entails respecting private spaces for them like washrooms. However, as a husband and father of four little girls, I need to protect my family, and now I’m worried when they go into those same spaces—because I can’t be reasonably confident that a man isn’t waiting in there for them. What obligation will take priority in the non-gendered future? Will I be forced by sheer necessity to accompany my wife and daughters into the public restroom in the future?

And what of churches? A Russian pastor once told me how anti-evangelical authorities had harassed his church by withholding building permits. Sadly, as the U.S. government tries to force Christian institutions to buy abortion pills, as Canadian law societies blacklist graduates of a Christian university because it requires sexual purity of students, guarantees of religious freedom in Western nations increasingly resemble fictional counterparts in Russia and elsewhere. So, I expect secular authorities will argue that washroom access isn’t a matter of religious conviction. It’s a building code issue now. “Queer health” will be handled in the same way as physical health and security are assured by basement egress windows and fire sprinklers. Building inspectors aren’t likely to accept religious objections to the latter; why would they accept any to the former? If cities like San Francisco are adding gender-neutral washrooms to building codes—which apply to church facilities—and if the transgender lobby succeeds in following that requirement with one for “all-gender” washrooms, churches will soon face a crisis of conscience.

My church needs, and is planning for, a building. In this age of “weaponized” washrooms, we need to anticipate this question: will we deny our confession of biblical sexuality, and compromise our duty to protect our vulnerable women and children by permitting men to access church ladies’ rooms, if local bureaucrats demand it? What happens when the building inspector says not having an “all genders welcome” sign on the three-stall ladies’ washroom is like not having enough fire exits? I’m already wondering whether my church might, at greater cost and inconvenience, have to offer only single-occupancy washrooms—no multiple-stall washrooms at all!—both to protect the women and children in our care, and to avoid being forced to implicitly recognize men as “women” in washroom access and signage.

Pastors and congregations need to begin practical planning for a “non-gendered” world. Christians must discuss concrete ways to protect the vulnerable in our midst while preserving our ability to speak clearly and consistently to our fallen world.

Clear Proclamation to a Confused World
More than a challenge, however, “weaponized” washrooms present us an opportunity to declare that Christianity is not only utterly incompatible with, but better than, this revolution in sexual affairs. God’s design for sexuality begins in Genesis 1:26-27, which declares that humanity is made in the image of God, as male and female. This distinction is foundational to the Christian conception of humanity.

Jesus Christ himself appeals to this text and its explanation of distinct genders when explaining his view of divorce (Matt. 19:1-12). Jesus’ argument, in the New Testament world, safeguarded women from abandonment by fickle husbands. Even his mention of eunuchs in that text leaves no room for other gender categories, for in Acts 8, the Bible explicitly refers to the eunuch baptized by Philip as a “man” (aner, Acts 8:27) with masculine pronouns (for example, in verse 27, autou, i.e., “his” chariot).

The Bible from beginning to end upholds the permanent, binary distinction of genders. The first woman was created after, and differently from, the man (Gen. 2:21-22), and specifically to be a “helper” to her husband (Gen. 2:18). Gender distinction is consistent throughout Scripture, from gender-specific curses for the first sin (Gen. 3:16-19), to distinct roles in marriage (Eph. 5:22-33) and the church (1 Tim. 2:11-14), to commanding husbands to protect their wives from themselves (1 Pet. 3:7). Moreover, the Bible condemns anything that confuses this distinction. The Bible prohibits cross-dressing (Deut. 22:5), and even condemnations of homosexuality (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:26-27) explicitly presume permanent distinctions between male and female.

Christians cannot concede, even in things like bathroom signage and access, a conception of gender as transferable or changeable. Not just because gender distinctions protect women and girls. The sexual revolution seeking to subvert these distinctions can never fulfill or satisfy—much less save sinners from God’s wrath. Only Jesus Christ can, by uniting repentant, confessing sinners to himself through faith alone. This union, this Gospel, is pictured in marriage by the very gender distinctions being undermined today.

Make no mistake. In the transgender debate, the Gospel is at stake—and we will not surrender or be silent.

by Jeff Jones, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

What Do Movies Tell Us about Our Culture?

There are few movies as beloved as Gene Kelly’s classic musical, “Singing in the Rain.” It’s a story about Hollywood’s awkward transition from silent pictures to—as they called them in the 1920s—“Talkies.” During one scene in which the characters watch their first “talkie,” a mogul of the old-school silent film industry scoffs, “It’ll never catch on."

Well, it’s clear that film as we know it has not only “caught on,” but as Sunday’s Academy Awards remind us, it’s become probably the most visible expression of culture. But the Oscars reveal another transition taking place in Hollywood.

At first glance, this year’s nominees look like very different movies. One takes place on Mars, another in the American wilderness, and another in a nightmarish, dystopian future. But on closer inspection, writer and producer Bryan Coley says the nominees all have one thing in common: They’re about survival.

Bryan, who’s the Founder and Chief Creative Director of “Art Within,” calls movies the “cultural texts” of our time. John Stonestreet spoke with him on our latest episode of “BreakPoint This Week,” and got his take on this year’s Oscar nominees.

He explained that survival is a theme Hollywood has wrestled with for almost fifteen years. Since 9/11, Americans have been subconsciously frightened. And this year’s nominees for Best Picture reflect that same fear.

In “Mad Max,” “The Martian,” “The Revenant,” and “Room,” characters fight for their lives against forces outside of their control. In nominees like “Brooklyn,” “Spotlight,” and “The Big Short,” characters also struggle to survive, albeit figuratively.

What’s different about this year’s nominees is the answer they offer. For years, our culture has focused on superheroes who swoop in to trounce the bad guys and save the day.

But moviegoers aren’t looking to the skies anymore. Instead, we’re looking amongst ourselves for ordinary saviors. And in this year’s batch of Oscar hopefuls, survival depends not on our heroes’ ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but on their grit, their scientific knowledge, and their moral fiber.

Take “The Martian,” for example. When Matt Damon’s character, finds himself stranded on the red planet, he relies on his own ingenuity and determination to survive. And rather than the big wigs at NASA saving him, it’s his own crew—in an act of mutiny—who return to Mars and rescue him.

This theme of ordinary people banding together against corrupt institutions runs all through the year’s top films—not to mention politics. For American culture, explains Bryan, “us and them,” has been replaced by “we.”

He points to the “we-centric” way the millennial generation lives, [sharing] each other’s cars with Uber…each other’s bedrooms with Air BNB…each other’s experience with Periscope, and…each other’s statuses with Facebook.”

And this new reality has got to affect the way we Christians engage our culture—at least if we hope to be heard. In John’s interview on “BreakPoint This Week,” Bryan offered some practical suggestions on how to do that without compromising our message.

First, we’ve got to humble ourselves. Instead of acting like superheroes come to save the day, we need to recognize that we need saving, too! And when we point people to Christ, it’s got to be Christ manifested in our lives—not just to an abstract idea.

And we must embrace the power of stories—or as Bryan Coley calls them, “moving pictures.” This isn’t new. When Jesus wanted to communicate eternal truths to his culture, he didn’t use doctrinal treatises, but “moving pictures,”—so to speak—of His own.

Go to BreakPoint.org to hear John’s “BreakPoint This Week” interview with Bryan Coley about this year’s Oscars, and be sure to check out the great resources from “Art Within.”

BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

4 Ways to Overcome the Feminization of Boys

The world gaped in awe at the story of the four Americans, aided by a Brit and a Frenchman, who wrote about this Jason Bourne-like episode for The Stream. It is a story you need to read. It will lift your spirits as it did mine. singlehandedly, without weapons, prevented a mass shooting on a French train a couple weeks back. I just

Writing this essay reminded me of the duty we have to train boys to take risks and lead in self-sacrifice for the good of others. This is a distinctly Christian idea, one filtered down through the teaching of the Old Testament and especially the image of Jesus Christ, who ascended a Roman cross to purify his bride (Eph. 5:22-33). It is an idea that has had a major impact on the West, as men historically have recognized that if a war must be fought, it is theirs to fight. Women and children should not be thrust into combat. They should be protected. This is what men do. This is what men have done for millennia.

But what about today? Recently, men on a train in Washington, D. C. failed to act as a crazed man stabbed a victim 40 times. They cowered in terror. Let’s be clear: if a would-be killer entered our area, we would fear for our lives, too. But please note what I said for The Stream:
You see, traditional manhood fears death, but it fears something even worse: being a coward. For a man, the only thing worse than a bullet in the kidney, or a box-cutter across the throat, is the failure to act. To act self-sacrificially on behalf of women and children is the epitome of virtuous manhood. It reflects, in fact, the apex of Christian doctrine: a Savior-husband giving his life to save a bride, the church.
How can we help boys understand this? How can we encourage them to embrace virtue and, in a fearful moment, act, as the Americans in Paris did? Let me give four quick thoughts.

1. Dads can be unapologetically masculine. Fathers need to be plugged in with their children. If they’re never around, or disengaged, boys won’t learn what it means to be a man. Fathers need to be present, and they need to be men. There’s nothing fancy about this. It’s not complicated. Every man will have his own interests; no two men are the same. But according to biblical categories, men should be men. They should dress like men, talk like men, and carry themselves like a man. For more on what this looks like and how the Bible shapes men, see the brand-new book Designed for Joy, with a stirring foreword from John Piper.

2. Dads can demonstrate courage. If there is a crazy person in the parking lot outside the apartment complex, fathers need to be the ones who go outside. If there is a scary situation at the shopping mall, dads need to act to get their family to safety. If a neighborhood child bullies the father’s child, the father needs to appropriately confront and handle the matter. Fathers are made for courage; men are made for action. Consider David’s words to Solomon as David’s life ebbed: Be strong, and show yourself a man (1 Kings 2:2). A secular, feminist age despises this cisgender exhortation, but Christians love it. Men hear in it a summons to full manhood; women hear in it the foundations of the kind of character that will treasure and bless them, not target and use them.

Fathers should also tell their sons great and spectacular stories of courage under fire. My recent book on Chuck Colson is one such attempt.

3. The church can encourage physicality. Not every boy can be a J. J. Watt-like display of power and fury. Not every man likes fishing or hunting or deadlifting. But in general, the church should not seek to stamp out the instinct for play and physical activity that boys have (and need). Boys should be encouraged to play, to be adventuresome, and to compete in healthy ways. There is not one narrowly-subscribed way for boys to be physical; there are in truth a thousand different ways for boys to give vent to their testosterone-fueled flights of fancy.

Boys have on average 1000% more testosterone than women. It’s all well and good to be gender-neutral in the classroom, but I dare you to try to defy the natural force of testosterone when you have an actual boy and not a bunch of cool ideas from a fancy textbook.

4. The church can hold high the example of Jesus. Jesus was a man. He took on fearsome odds in coming to earth and rescuing his people. Contra the ultra-spiritual model of his life, where he floated six inches off the ground and never so much as ripped a tissue in half, Jesus’ ministry to fulfill the very will of his Father involved hard, physical challenges. He fasted; he was a carpenter; he frequently had little rest and many demands; he paid for the sins of the wicked by dying in absolute, undiluted physical agony. Jesus was not exaggeratedly masculine, but neither was he anything less than masculine.

If churches will recover this aspect of Jesus’ life, they will help men to see that he is not a fairy tale. He does no violence to the God-created nature of manhood. Instead, he redeems manhood, and channels to ends that glorify the Father. Men find in him the example they desperately want. They discover a warrior-savior who is so manly that he feels no insecurity over weeping over the death of his friend (John 11:35). They find their own understanding of manhood challenged, stretched, corrected, and galactically enhanced in the person of Christ.

The stakes are high when it comes to our boys. What we communicate to them about manhood will definitively shape them, as I said for The Stream:
Teach a boy that he is an idiot, that he can only ever ascend to Fantasy Football champion, that he cannot ever measure up to his sisters, that he is at base an animal, and watch in wonder as he fulfills all your worst predictions.
But teach him that he has immense dignity and worth, that he was made — whatever his chest size, whatever his height — to spend himself for the good of others, and you will form the kind of young men who do not cower when a terrorist stands up, sweating and fevered, to fulfill Allah’s will by mowing down innocents. This kind of young man wakes up from his nap, sees bloodshed on the horizon, and moves with a swiftness he has trained for to sacrifice himself for others. He may die, he knows. But he will die with honor.

by Owen Strachan, President of the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood and Associate Professor of Christian Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. At MBTS, I teach the full range of theology and supervise doctoral students while serving as the Director for the Center on Gospel & Culture. He is the author of the soon-to-be released book The Grand Design:Male and Female He Made Them. He is also the author of The Colson Way: Loving Yur Neighbor and Living with Faith in a Hostile World (Thomas Nelson, July 2015). The Colson Way is the first study of Chuck Colson’s life in a decade.

 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

How to Slay the Dragon of Pornography



Pornography raises many questions, but two of the most simple
are also the most important. Why fight temptations? And how?

So many resolutions to avoid porn fail with this first question. The how question is the easier one—we can quickly identify steps such as Internet filters or a friend willing to ask us tough questions. It’s the why where we get tripped up. We need biblically persuasive reasons to stand firm when the hard questions and justifications come.

And they will come:

  • Why bother? It doesn’t hurt anyone.
  • If my wife were sexually more available or adventurous, I wouldn’t need this.
  • If I had a wife, I wouldn’t need this.
  • All men look at porn. It’s how we were created. How can God give me the desire and then expect me to fight it?
  • This next time will be the last time.

The pursuit of porn has bad consequences. We need no special insight to see it erodes relationships and never satisfies. But bad consequences aren’t enough to stop us. We must be ready with persuasive reasons to put up a fight, and then assemble those reasons into a story that has some of the following elements.

Getting the Story Straight
Human beings, like all creation, are designed to live within boundaries. When creation exceeds its appointed boundaries—as in hurricanes, in which the seas encroach on dry ground—bad things happen. It’s the same with us. This is one of the points of the creation story, when Adam and Eve were told a certain tree was off-limits. Why was it off-limits? That isn’t the important question. What’s important is this: God’s royal children are tested. Will we be faithful to our Father when temptations arrive and faithfulness suddenly feels inconvenient?

When our temptations are especially strong, no rationale for those boundaries will be enough. For example, God has his reasons for limiting sexual expression to heterosexual covenant union, but those reasons won’t give us power to fight temptations. Power doesn’t come from mere knowledge; it comes as we grow in the knowledge of God and respond to him with obedient trust. It comes only as we discover that in God’s presence—not from what the world or fleshly pleasure can offer—do we find fullness of joy and pleasures that never lose their capacity to satisfy (Ps. 16:11).

As it turns out, the act of saying no to certain desires seems to be a distinguishing feature of human beings. Animals don’t say no, but we do. Consider the book of Proverbs. It’s all about wisdom, and wisdom means we’re living as God intended. Within the first nine chapters, which summarize the book’s main themes, the father-teacher is doing everything possible to portray the beauty of self-control and to dramatize the dangers of a life given over to one’s desires.


What is the real problem? We don’t cherish the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7). Since fear is about what controls us, wisdom begins when we’re controlled by the triune God rather than by the objects of our temptations. In other words, life outside God’s boundaries is evidence we must not know him very well. We must not know he’s good, and that everything he commands us to do is for our benefit. We must think he’s a mortal who doesn’t see what we’re doing. We must think the darkness can hide us from his presence. We are given the God of life, but we keep veering off into independence and misery. And in doing so, we fail to be truly human.


This is the story Jesus enters. Jesus was led into the desert to experience the extremes of physical and Satanic temptations (Matt. 4:1–11). Though his temptations weren’t sexual, they did involve intense physical desires that pleaded for satisfaction. Jesus entered into our struggle; he revealed the essence of true humanity in his stand against Satan; and he became the tested and perfect man who would be our representative before the Father. These were the credentials he brought to the cross.


The gospel is activated in our lives through faith, as we say to our King, “I’m with you. My own record is a mess; yours is perfect.” And in that response we get more grace than we expected. We’re joined with Jesus in his successes, and given his Spirit to empower us to follow him.
And then we’re led into temptations once again, which is how royal children are trained and matured. Although this time we’re better prepared.

Now, in dependence on Jesus, we engage our passions with resolve and aim for nothing short of slaying them (Gal. 5:24; Col. 3:5). The critical weapon we bring is our growing knowledge of God’s mercy and grace. This grace reminds us that we have forgiveness, so we can turn to him in our failures (2 Pet. 1:9).


We believe a lie if we think we are too far gone. Since grace has no limits, we start with a simple “help.” God delights in those who turn to him in desperation (Luke 15:6).


How Do We Fight Temptation?
Once the story of grace is embedded in our hearts, practical applications flow.

1. Repeat the story.
The most obvious application is to repeat the story: in love, Christ came, forgave, rescued, and empowers. Paul began each letter with how everything has changed because of Jesus.

You could follow Paul’s lead. Write out the gospel story, read it to a friend, ask others to give their telling, underline the many ways the New Testament expresses it, and tailor it with your own particular struggle in mind. You are on the right path when the story sounds good and is about Jesus more than you.

2. Examine your ways.

Pay close attention to how you move toward porn. Think of your predicament as a kind of “voluntary slavery” in that you’re victimized by porn’s allure but intentional in its pursuit. Consider the details of the path you take (Prov. 7). What are the lies you believe that blind you? “God is not so good”? “Sin is not so dangerous”? Think about what else is happening. Are you angry? Indifferent? Stressed, feeling you deserve a break? What do you really want? When do you think you actually made the decision to pursue porn?

When we walk toward porn, we fail to consider our ways. When we run from it, and we know we’ve been forgiven, we should look back and consider carefully where the path got dangerous.


3. Go public.

This step is the hardest, or at least the most humbling. Pornographic desire thrives in darkness (Col. 1:13). That darkness, of course, isn’t hidden from the Lord, and if we don’t bring it to the light, he will (Heb. 4:13). So we confess it to the Lord, and we confess it to others (James 5:16).

We confess to others for at least two reasons. First, we need help, and God has given us others to pray for and help us. Second, we want to get as far from the darkness, lies, and justifications as possible, and transparency is a way to do that. We could easily argue our sin is private, it’s against God, and it should be handled privately. But if we easily confess to God yet refuse to confess to others, the authenticity of our confession is suspect. Openness is a way we can avoid being tricked by new justifications.


Within God’s boundaries is freedom and contentment; outside is slavery, misery, and an insatiable desire for more (Eph. 4:19). It isn’t easy to stay within God’s appointed boundaries, but it’s certainly good.


No one ever regretted saying no to temptations.




Editors’ note: This is an adapted excerpt from the ESV Men’s Devotional Bible (Crossway, 2015).

Ed Welch 
is a counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF). He earned a Ph.D. in counseling (neuropsychology) from the University of Utah and a Master of Divinity from Biblical Theological Seminary. Ed has been counseling for over 30 years and has written extensively on the topics of depression, fear, and addictions.