Church Planting... A Great Joy!

As I sit down and begin to think about the journey that the Lord has brought me through over the last few years, it is hard to stay seated. Reflection for me brings about a desire to run around my house like a crazy man screaming the praises of God. There's no doubt that ministry is one of the hardest adventures anybody can ever endeavor themselves in. Interestingly enough, it is also by far the most honorable and rewarding work imaginable.

There's nothing more difficult than trying to deal with the unbalances that come with church planting. The random phone calls, the untimely meetings that are necessary, the family needs, the financial stresses and the burning desire to fulfill what God has called you too. All of those things have the ability to bring upon great amounts of stress. Yet the rewards of seeing just one person having their life absolutely transformed by the grace found in the Gospel of Jesus, trumps any amount of difficulties.

This past weekend I had the privilege of baptizing 11 people in our service, as the rest of Netcast sang loudly their praises to our King. Some of those baptized were very close friends of mine, while others I didn't really know well. Nonetheless, the beauty and power that is found in a life transformed by Jesus continues to fascinate me. When service ended, I rushed into the city of Boston and performed a wedding for two friends of mine, which was beautiful. It was small, intimate and fun. In addition to that, I was able to walk this couple through pre-marital counseling and saw incredible growth in their relationship and walk with Jesus over the past few months.

When I eventually came home that night and laid down in my bed, absolutely exhausted, it occurred to me that in the course 10 hours I witnessed 11 people outwardly demonstrate their identification with Christ in his death burial and resurrection and then I visibly witnessed two people becoming one flesh through the covenant of marriage.

 Honestly, can you think of anything in all of the world that you would rather be doing? I feel like I am literally living a dream.

Don't tell people how to be "Radical for Jesus".

As many of you know, I am a church planter in a major metropolitan area of the country. In addition to that, I am attempting to spread the gospel in what many believe to be the most pagan and liberal area of North America. I am a part of the SBC and the North American Missions Board which simply means that I love the Jesus, the bible, evangelism and the autonomous church. I am also a part of the Acts 29 Network which means that I love the Gospel, Reformed Theology, Missional Philosophy and Church Planting.

That said, I often see things that I fear in American Evangelicalism and specifically within some of the tribes that I roll with. Here are some things to think about...

The movement of The New Calvinism, Reformed Christianity, Missional Living and anti-fundamentalism / attractionalism, has the temptation to lead people into a hyper-theology, unbalanced philosophy of ministry and too much cultural compromise in the name of "Godly Influence". All believers need to learn what it means to be content in the mission of Jesus throughout the mundane rhythms of life. We have to be careful to not fully define what it means to be "Radical for Jesus" or "Living on Mission" lest it become another rule for people to follow that brings no life and in the end births no joy. If we over explain the practical application of the mission of Jesus, we rob people of the beauty of hearing God's voice for themselves and utilizing their own unique gifts in the time, place and culture that the Lord Jesus has put them in.

What sparked this though was recently a good friend asked my thoughts on an article written by Anthony Bradley called: The New Legalism. You can read it here.

Sex: I'm Gay & I Love Jesus (Day 6; Post #7)

This post comes from a very brave and Godly young man at Netcast. I commend him for his incredible honesty and faithfulness to the Lord. 

All I Need is You, Lord”...Really? 

I grew up in a Christian home with loving parents. I went to church every Sunday and attended a Christian school. Like all the other boys, I enjoyed sports, Legos, and long days in the backyard with my friends pretending we were police detectives who could travel into outer space. I even had crushes on the pretty girls in my class and in my neighborhood, but was always too shy to admit it!

Adolescence hit around the 6th grade and that’s when the sexual feelings started. Although, oddly enough, my focus was not on the pretty girls, but rather on the handsome boys. It didn’t really bother me at first. I had just discovered my body’s newfound, um, abilities, and I was curious if any of the other boys had found them as well. “It’s just a normal thing. Every boy is curious,” I tried to convince myself. To confuse matters, it wasn’t until 8th grade that my parents told me about the “birds and the bees”. Well, they didn’t actually tell me. Mom left a book on my pillow and hoped for the best.

Apparently this issue was just too difficult or embarrassing for them. Of course, by that time, I had most of the facts of life figured out already. As I entered high school (A good Christian high school, of course), I finally began to become a little concerned that maybe I was gay. My interests still hadn’t changed. It was still the boys I thought about when I was in bed at night. “Maybe I’m just a late developer,” I thought. “If I pray hard enough, God will make me interested in girls. Then I will be normal.”

I met a great girl and we became best friends. She really liked me. We had similar interests and a similar sense of humor. She had been raised in a “good Christian home” like I was. I loved being with her. We had so many inside jokes together that when I saw her down the hall, I’d just start cracking up. We would have made a great couple if I had had the slightest interest in a romantic relationship with her. I kept checking myself... Nope. Nothing. Dang.

High school came and went and it was off to college. Christian college, of course. Now, I’ve heard tons of college stories where the guys in the residence halls enjoy being naked for no good reason. I was disappointed when I found out that my floor was nothing like that. Even the showers were very private with double curtains! So my homoerotic curiosity continued unsatisfied. I’m embarrassed to say that I would occasionally try to sneak peeks at my roommate when he returned from the shower just to see what a naked man looked like. (These were the days before internet porn was there to satisfy every curiosity in its own destructive way. But that’s somebody else’s blog post!) 

Now, at this point, I need to rewind my story a little bit. Ever since I was a young child, I have been painfully shy. My father loved me, but was emotionally distant and didn’t do put much effort into raising a son with confidence. We didn’t do much together. And the older I got, the more difficult it became to interact confidently with people. The teasing in middle school (that everybody goes through) really did a number on me.

When adolescence hit, I started getting depressed because I wasn’t getting any attention at school. I felt completely invisible. When high school came, I started internalizing it so much that I started feeling worthless. When college came, I knew “for a fact” that I was worthless. Especially with my struggle with homosexuality on top of everything else. I lived in a world of self-pity. But the people in college were not like the people in high school. They were kind. They were friendly. And for the first time in my life, I made true friends. It was, without a doubt, the most excited I had ever been about anything in my life. I had friends! Maybe I was worth something! That feeling didn’t last long.

All my newfound hope crashed down when I had to withdraw from school to take a mental break. I was now out of my friends’ everyday world and they were out of mine. I tried to visit the campus and reconnect, but they were getting to know new people and seemed very, very busy. In my mind, they didn’t want me around anymore. To make matters worse, I had just gotten fired from my job. And that’s when I hit rock bottom. It’s hard to know what rock bottom looks like until you get there yourself. It’s a place of absolute hopelessness where you despise every minute of your existence during the day--and the night is even harder because there is nothing to distract you from your thoughts of despair, loneliness, and self-loathing. It was all-out, full-fledged depression and I really didn’t have anybody to talk to about it. Even my prayers to God seemed to bounce off the walls. But “rock bottom” was also when my relationship with God changed. I was a lonely, sick, broken young man and I was desperate for hope.

Up until now, my faith was just “going through the motions” of what I had learned from my mother. But now, it was becoming real. In a very small way, I knew that He was listening. It was time to get serious with Him because I needed Him so badly. One weekend, to my surprise, one of my former floormates gave me a call and wanted to fix me up on a group date with a friend of his girlfriend. “I have to try it,” I thought. “Maybe there will be something there.” I went on the date. There was nothing there. Nothing but awkward. College came and went and it was off to pursue a career. Now reality was setting in. I was gay. There was no denying it. Every single one of my sexual fantasies was about the male form.

The pain that this realization caused was excruciating. First there was the pain of being different. Then there was the pain of being in a people group that society generally looked down upon. And finally, there was a crisis of faith. After all, I was supposedly this fine Christian young man. I can’t be gay. “Homosexuality is forbidden in the Bible!,” I thought. I will never forget the night I “came out” to my friends. It was absolutely the scariest night of my life. I got the college boys back together for a little reunion and we went to one of our favorite outdoor hangout spots--a cool seashore spot covered with huge boulders that the waves crash into. Hanging out on a huge rock overlooking the ocean, I finally told them, without actually saying the words, that I was gay. To my surprise, I was met with nothing but love and acceptance. Telling people got easier after that. Many years later, I was even able to tell my parents. But living with this “condition” didn’t get easier. It was time to fix things.

I went online and checked out Exodus International and Harvest U.S.A. and got myself checked into a local support group. I got involved in a church and had godly men in my life. I read the books that were published at the time, all explaining how I can be freed from homosexuality and fall in love with a woman and get married and live happily ever after. I did all the right things, but nothing happened. I was still a homosexual. Nothing I could do--and no amount of prayers--was changing that. But God had begun His work on my heart--calling me to draw close to Him. To trust Him in my circumstances. To allow Him to be a companion when I was lonely.

It was a very slow road to fully accepting His reality and his care for me. He did begin to answer my prayers for companionship, and through some odd circumstances when I was in my mid 20’s brought me to an amazing church where I became part of a family. God used these people to give me a sense of belonging. I quickly got involved in various ministries and a sense of purpose began to grow within me. I learned more about God’s love for me and got excited about joining God in the things he was doing on our planet. I learned to live outside myself and see what it was like to serve others instead of constantly being focused on my own needs and shortcomings. New life was rising out of the ashes of brokenness.

I did ministry in that church for twelve years. It wasn’t always without complication. In fact on a few separate occasions, I essentially “fell in love” with certain men in the church. These guys were my friends and we had bonded emotionally. And that led to physical desires as well. But each guy was straight, so nothing happened--except for the emotional torment of desiring somebody I knew I couldn’t have. This was just as painful, if not more so, than when I hit rock bottom during college. I ended up having to go on anti-depressants because my heart was so hungry for love (or what I thought was love) and so distraught that my desires could never be met. But even through those excruciating times... even through the times I was literally screaming mad at God for making me this way. He never let me go. I wanted to walk away. I wanted to give up. But I couldn’t. His love for me and His call on my life has been so unmistakable that I could never live without Him.

I still struggle with same-sex attraction today. I have made the choice to not enter into a gay relationship based on what I believe God’s will for me is through study of scripture. (Other gay Christians conclude their study differently.) But He is making me stronger and more confident in who HE is. Who I am is becoming less and less important. My story is becoming less and less important. I’d rather be a part of His story. And I’m learning from my married friends that a spouse doesn’t meet you in the deepest places of your soul’s longing. Only the pure love of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit can do that. The love that was displayed for all to see when he stretched out his hands and died for us. The love that made a way for us to be with Him in perfection forever. The love that washes us clean of everything we’ve done wrong. It’s an amazing love. It’s an undeniable love--not always with our emotions--but with a deep-seeded satisfaction that it’s the truth.

I will probably never get married. I will probably never have sex. I will probably never have a romantic kiss. I will probably never hold somebody’s hand. Isn’t that sad? NO! Because there is greater freedom in walking with my heavenly Father and following his best plan for my life. Instead of putting my hope and trust in the love of another person, I’ve had to put my hope and trust in Him and Him alone. In the Father, I’ve found a nurturing dad who wants me to grow up big and strong. A dad who has big plans for his son, who is priceless, not worthless! In the Son, Jesus Christ, I’ve found a friend who never leaves me, even when I come home to an empty house. A confidant who knows what it’s like to face struggle, loneliness, and temptation. And a partner and guide on an adventure to change the world! In the Spirit, I’ve found an indwelt intimacy that surpasses the love of any man or woman. He is continually inside of me representing the abolition of my worst fears and lies about myself. When I turn to Him, my spirit unites with His, and His power becomes my own. I am empowered to view this life not as a series of difficult struggles and circumstances, but as a specific plan that was drawn up by the Father. 

If you have same-sex attractions, being alone for the rest of your life might seem an impossible, heartbreaking outlook. But with the nurture of a caring Father, the example of the Son, and the spiritual intimacy of the Holy Spirit, anyone in my situation can go forward into tomorrow knowing that your life has a purpose, a plan, and the support you need to make it a rewarding journey. At some point you need to accept the fact that your story doesn’t look like everybody else’s. But that doesn’t make it less valuable. Sure, you might occasionally feel very alone, but remember that your alone-ness was His call to make, not yours. Because the truth is that you’re not alone. Surrender your life to Him and realize that He is all you need. Trust Him to bring people into your life who will encourage you and keep your focus Him and not yourself. There is so much freedom to be found when we can shift our energy from what we want to what He wants.

Scripture that has encouraged and strengthened me in my journey: 

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Psalm 61:1-4 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35, 37-39 

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Lesson through Divorce, Dating & Jesus. (Day 5, Post #6)

This is a post written from an incredibly Godly and dedicated woman at Netcast. 

I was married for 6 years, in my 20’s, and then was in a 9 year relationship, in my 30’s. And, even though we did get engaged, thankfully, we did not end up getting married. Both relationships were sexually broken.

First of all, getting physically involved too soon, definitely stunted the growth, in other areas of these relationships. I was too embarrassed to talk to friends or family and got very good at denial . Dealing with infidelity and lack of trust, can truly take a toll. After much prayer and reflection, I realize I was just as much of the problem. There is no excusing their actions, but it was up to me, to standup and respect myself. I was afraid to fight or have conflict , and didn’t really know how to address the issues in a healthy, mature way. Ultimately, both relationships ended.

I decided a number of years ago, to stop doing it my way, and committed to the Lord, that I would not live with, or sleep with another person, unless I was married. I can tell you, based on that decision, the peace and contentment I feel has made a huge difference in my life. I don’t know if I will ever marry again. But, am living my life determined to make it the best it can be, either way.

I wish I had heard a message years ago, like the one that Pastor Matt shared, this past Sunday. I would like to think, that it would have saved me much heartache. I am not that same person, in so many ways. God really changed me, and for that I am so thankful.

SEX: 25 Years of Intimacy & Thoughts from a Single Mom

This is a wife at Netcast who shares her observations from 25 years of physical intimacy...

Our first years of physical intimacy were illicit. We weren’t married yet. We were trying to be “technical virgins,” doing sexual acts right up to, but not including penetration. It almost worked, if it weren’t for the few times we couldn’t reign in the passion and took it farther than we intended. It was glorious in the moment, but shame and worry followed.

Our first years of marriage were challenging. Suddenly without the aphrodisiac of the forbidden and dangerous, I struggled to become aroused. Sex without arousal was sometimes painful and often nauseating, but I knew it was important not to deny my husband, so we settled into a couple times a week of ho-hum going through the motions. It was slightly better for him than it was for me, but nowhere near the pleasurable intimacy I knew it should have been.

I believed that this was what our married sex would look like forever; that it was the price I was going to have to pay for my pre-marital sins. Because it wasn’t all that pleasurable for me, I was also non-orgasmic. This really saddened and discouraged us both. We read books and tried different “remedies,” but part of me just continued believing that I didn’t deserve to have an orgasm because we weren’t virgins when we married.

Fast forward 15 or so years, and now we have fireworks. F.I.R.E.W.O.R.K.S. Mindblowing fireworks. And did I mention fireworks? 

It’s been that way for us for so long now that it feels like we’ve always had good sex. So what made the difference for us? It came softly, slowly, quietly. I don’t understand it completely, but here is what I’m sure of: Most importantly: grace. I needed to understand God’s grace. He doesn’t give me what I deserve. I don’t deserve fulfilling sexual intimacy with my husband. I also don’t deserve eternal salvation. Or good health. Or my next breath, even. But God loves me so much in my brokenness that He sent His Son to be my Rescuer. And, in His passionate love, He showers me with good gifts.

I Corinthians 6:9-11 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Praise Jesus! I am not defined by my past sins. I am clothed in His righteousness. Once I was set free by a deeper understanding of grace, I think several practical factors played a role: 

  • Recognizing that seeing my husband breathlessly ravished by my love is a gift I give him. I’m the only one who holds the key. I love giving him that gift, knowing that I’m honoring God while I do it, and that I’m drawing my husband’s heart to mine as he knows he can count on me to leave him deliriously satisfied. 
  • Realizing that when I’m an active participant in our lovemaking by adding my own motions to his, or lovingly directing him in how he can increase my pleasure (which actually took me a while to figure out myself), or initiating sex altogether, that it not only increases his pleasure, but mine as well. I’ve discovered that when I might not be all that aroused in the beginning, engaging myself in the moment by doing some or all of those things usually leads to being highly aroused. 
  • Grasping the mechanics of sex. It’s almost humorous now how inhibited and uninformed I was in those early years. I was amazed when I learned that clitoral stimulation is most women’s pathway to orgasm. 
  • Embracing more than one type of sex. I think a lot of women have a problem with giving or receiving oral sex because they don’t think nice girls do it, or they think it’s gross. Godly girls know that it is a God-given gateway to orgasmic pleasure, especially for the wife, and that a sensual bath or shower together right before sex can be helpful to make you feel more comfortable with it, although it may take many tries at being vulnerable in this way before it becomes pleasurable. It took me probably 10 years, but I’m so thankful I never wrote it off completely. 
  • Understanding that my mind is my most important sex organ. If I’m worrying if I remembered to take the beef out of the freezer for dinner tomorrow, or if I smell ok, or if he noticed that I forgot to shave, I’m shutting down my ability to relax and engage, and cheating us both. 
  • Accepting that although times like menstruation or fluctuating pregnancy hormones might inhibit typical sex, this is a great time to demonstrate selfless love to my husband by offering to pleasure him in an alternative way, no strings attached. Just because I don’t need or want a release doesn’t mean he doesn’t. My body is not my own. 
Our culture thinks that monogamy leads to boring sex, but our life demonstrates just the opposite. God in His wisdom saves sex for the marriage bed because the best sex is a by-product of deep spiritually, emotionally, and relationally intimate couples. It takes time to get there. No matter where you are in your journey as a couple, please know that there’s hope that God can redeem beauty from ashes. Never give up. Never stop growing. Marriage thrives when each partner is seeking Christlikeness. It’s a beautiful parallel that the more satisfying sex is, the more I long for more. So it is with the Christian walk. The more we delight ourselves in our Savior, the more we long to know Him better. He gives us good gifts.

This is the story of a single mother at Netcast Church... 

Growing up in church, sex wasn't often talked about, and when it was, it was strange and horribly uncomfortable. At youth group, we were taught that we should remain virgins until we married, but why? I don't recall ever being told why, but instead was left with an impression that sex was the sin above all sins. As a teen, I made a decision and a vow to God to wait until I was married to have sex. I failed. I had sex, and became a mom at 21 years old. I believed a lie, as so many other young women believe, that if I gave my body to a man, I would receive love in return.

For a while, sex and relationships became a god in my life. I looked for fulfillment in these things and ran from the one who could truly satisfy my soul. There was a deep feeling of shame. I felt as if I could never go back to Jesus again. Thankfully, after some time, I went home. Jesus showed that although I sinned sexually, I wasn't hopeless. He showed me His word, His truth. Scriptures like Hosea 2: 14-17, John 4 and John 8: 1-11. 

I am single now. I hope to one day have a husband, to enjoy sex as God intended, but for now, I will wait. It is a daily choice that is not always easy, but is made possible by His grace. So, the question remains, why? For me, it's not because the bible says so, but because it is just one way I can express my love to my Savior. I no longer feel a need to give myself to a man, because I have Jesus who gave Himself for all of us. I wait because it is my act of worship to a God who loves me with a most precious and everlasting love. 

Having Fun through Theology, Intimacy and Sex (Day 3)

The story of 30 years of loving Jesus while having fun and enjoying the pleasures of marital intimacy by an anonymous couple at Netcast.

Having Fun through Theology, Intimacy, and Sex 

Being intimate for us encompasses much more than a physical act with each other. It is us not being afraid to reveal and share ourselves with each other. In the Garden, when God created man and woman, they experienced a level of intimacy with each other that caused Adam to sing with joy as he finally felt complete in a way he had never felt before.  

"Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" (Genesis 2:23 ESV) 

Before the Fall, they enjoyed such intimacy with each other and with God, that they had nothing to hide from Him or from each other emotionally. Before the Fall, they were unaware that they were naked and they had nothing to hide physically. And then quickly, with both of them complicit, it all changed.  

"Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself." (Genesis 3:7-10 ESV) 

In one terrible act, their intimacy with God was lost. And, perhaps, their intimacy with each other was damaged for ever as they began to blame each other and their circumstances for their shortcomings.  

"The man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." (Genesis 3:12, 13 ESV) 

It's interesting that their first action, as a couple with lost intimacy with God and with each other, was to hide their sexual organs.  

"Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they ... made themselves loincloths." (Genesis 3:7 ESV) 

It was clear that things weren't going to be much fun after that: there is lots of toil, sweating, and pain that is described as a consequence of the lost intimacy with God. In the garden after the fall and as a result of sin, ALL things became work and toil, sex included. What was once effortless and always perfect, now intentionally needs to be maintained. As a result of sin and lost intimacy with God, even sexual relations with the partner that God created for you can be flawed, can be work and require effort to maintain. ALL of creation, formerly perfect, was damaged by the fall. But for us, marriage and sex has been one of our most cherished gifts this side of heaven.

What began in college with a "flirt", was quickly followed by a first date, friendship, romance and ultimately marriage. It's totally crazy, but we knew after four months of dating that we wanted to get married; highly bizarre even to us. In anticipation, we started buying married people "stuff" like dishes, pots & pans and the like and hid them away. After what we thought would be an acceptable time to our parents, we asked their permission to marry. All were excited, everything was cool.  

Fast forward three years to the wedding... 

No joke, we had to wait THREE YEARS for one of us to finish college so they didn't have to pay their parents back for the education. That was the deal: if married or dropped out of school before the diploma was in hand, it was payback time. These parents were serious and really weren't kidding! The wedding was phenomenal, over the top, and what many people only dream of. All we cared about though was the wedding night. Waiting for sex was a long haul and we almost didn't make it. We were the LAST ones to leave our wedding reception because it was so fun to talk and spend time with friends. Finally at the hotel, life was good. A lingering first bath together in anticipation of much more to come that evening, well really, it was early morning by then. Little did we know "more" would come, but in the form of siblings and their spouses bearing champagne, and sitting all over the our bed! Not kidding, how ever did they find us , let alone get in? (story for another time though)!

Anyway, between the bath and the sibling arrival was the culmination of three years of waiting for sex. Two virgins, madly in love, naked and not ashamed! It really was amazing to become one physically for the first time, after developing intimacy in other ways for three long years. Neither of us had prior experience or other sexual relationships intruding on our first night of sexual intimacy. It wasn't that it was long and drawn out, but tender, slow, romantic and ALL about the needs of the other. It was a "perfect" first time.

Amazingly enough though, the real beauty wasn't really that night but in the months, years and decades that followed. We can now look back and know that we guarded and protected a very special gift that has and always will belong only to us, given and honored by God. For us, now married couple for more than 30 years, having fun with each other begins with being transparent and unashamed with each other, and with a desire to return to the garden in true intimacy. It requires being intentional about emotional and physical intimacy with our partner and best friend. We were made as physical and sexual beings to enjoy each other, and if there is something between us (like clothes), then we can't (fully) enjoy each other. But it also means we can't have emotional stuff between us, and that means being honest about ourselves, each other and what we like. It also means that we look for things we enjoy doing together, because once we have emotional intimacy then the physical intimacy is so much better.

Three years of developing emotional intimacy led to an amazing physical intimacy. But now, sometimes it's reversed. As we enjoy physical games together, we laugh, create memories and develop deeper emotional intimacy. Memories like naked hide-and-seek, with all the lights out. While the hiding and the seeking are fun, the finding was even better. Memories like strip pool - you miss a shot and off comes a piece of clothing. Memories like "Lose a bet, become my sex slave". (This last requires some explanation - sex slave doesn't mean degradation and domination. It means your partner is totally committed to doing what makes you feel good. You make me feel good, and I GUARANTEE you will feel good). Memories like a dice game: roll a six, and kiss something round. Roll a seven, and I rub your back. Roll a twelve, and you pick the body part I have to massage. Roll a three and tell me the happiest memory from the last year. (Making our own rules for both physical or emotional intimacy for each number is still part of the fun.). Memories like having sex in every room in the house, and then remembering which room was best.

Part of restoration back to the garden, through the blood of Christ, is that we can live life without guilt. Nothing is off limit for us when it comes to sex, because we love and respect each other. God created us to enjoy each other, He doesn't tell us what we can and cannot do for our enjoyment, except to say we have become one. We enjoy giving kisses to all parts of our bodies. We enjoy giving and receiving oral sex. We enjoy tickling each other with feathers when one of us can't move. We enjoy trying different positions in different locations: inside, outside, in the garage during the middle of the afternoon. But sometimes an experiment doesn't work. It's not pleasurable, one of us feels uncomfortable, it's not the garden experience of intimacy. So - we laugh, we stop, we say "That was really not fun." - and we don't do it again!

When we were married, two became one. We love each other as we love ourselves, and over 30 plus years, we enjoy our oneness without guilt on how we do that sexually. Some ways we build intimacy are physical, some are emotional but all are aimed at making us more "one". That's particularly true when we intentionally make plans together. We then get to enjoy the physical aspects of intimacy three times: during the planning, during the doing, and during the remembering. After 30 plus years of marriage all three are great!

Staff-Led Prayer & Worship: This Thursday

Just a reminder that THIS THURSDAY morning we are hosting our monthly "Staff-Led Prayer and Worship". 

Prayer and worship are inextricably linked, but we are used to practicing them as separate activities. Staff led prayer and worship is the 1st Thursday of every month from 6am - 7am. This is an incredibly powerful time for us to gather as a family to combine worship and prayer into an hour long encounter with God's presence.

Join us as we approach God in faith, guided by the Holy Spirit, asking Him to release more of His glory throughout our region. Come to worship, pray, and discover the prayer warrior that resides within you!

Location and Time
Beverly Church of the Nazarene.
556 Cabot St. Beverly, MA 01915
6:00am - 7:00am