Saturday, November 19, 2011

Negative Effects of Porn - by BJ Stockman

 This was posted on The Resurgence blog today.  Originally created by BJ Stockman.

 This is a rather frank post on porn, so proceed, or not, with that in mind.
Porn is a problem. It's a personal problem for many and a cultural problem for all. You may think you have not been affected by porn, but you have because it's embedded in the surrounding culture. The staggering size of the pornography industry, its influence upon the media and the acceleration of technology, paired with the accessibility, anonymity, and affordability of porn all contribute to its increasing impact upon the culture.
Pornography affects you whether you’ve ever viewed it or not, and it is helpful to understand some of its negative effects, whether you are a man or woman, struggling with watching it, or simply a mom or dad with a son or daughter. There is a plethora of research on the detrimental effects of pornography (and I do not think that what follows are necessarily the worst of them), but here are seven negative effects of porn upon men and women:

1. Porn Contributes to Social and Psychological Problems Within Men 

Anti-pornography activist, Gail Dines, notes that young men who become addicted to porn, “neglect their schoolwork, spend huge amounts of money they don’t have, become isolated from others, and often suffer depression.” (Pornland, 93). Dr. William Struthers, who has a PhD in biopsychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, confirms some of these and adds more, finding that men who use porn become controlling, highly introverted, have high anxiety, narcissistic, curious, have low self-esteem, depressed, dissociative, distractible (Wired for Intimacy, 64-65). Ironically, while viewing porn creates momentary intensely pleasurable experiences, it ends up leading to several negative lingering psychological experiences.

2. Porn Rewires the Male Brain 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Great time at Chuch Planting Leaders Fellowship

One of the roles I serve is as a committee member for the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC) Congregational Church Development (CCD) committee.  Our job is to help the local church, church planters, and new church core groups in the establishment of new Congregational Christian churches.  

With that as our charge, I get the opportunity to represent our association at the Church Planting Leaders Fellowship (CPLF).  CPLF is a pet project of Ed Stetzer's that is held in Nashville, TN at the Lifeway office where Ed works.  This is a gathering of like minded evangelical denominations and networks where we share and learn best practices and network for church planting to advance the Gospel.  The idea is we can learn from each other without collaborating or competing.  Ed is pretty big on the idea that churches aren't planted cross-denominationally, and I'm inclined to trust his expert opinion on this.

So early (3:45AM!) on Wednesday I got up made it to the airport and on to Nashville.  We spent the next two days learning from Bob Logan, Hugh Halter, Neil Cole, Alan Hirsch and Ed Stetzer.  Bob's focus was on leadership and Hugh and Alan were more focused on the future of church planting in incarnational and missional ways.  And Alan Hirsch touched on things from all over the map and was largely pushing us to re-think church planting in new and creative ways including but not limited to what Neil & Hugh were advocating.

Truly mentally stimulating, even if you didn't always agree with everything being said.

My flight into Nashville ran a bit late due to rain en route, so I was unable to eat at one of my all time favorite places - Monell's.  Probably for the best because it is a diet killer kind of meal, but oh-so-worth the calories.  We did make it to Jack's Bar-B-Que last night for supper at least.  I had pork shoulder (shredded), brisket, and smoked chicken.  The brisket was by far the best of the three, and the chicken and pork we quite good as well.  Mac & cheese wasn't all that good, corn was really good, and the corn bread was some of the worst I've had.  But I'd definitely go back for the brisket.  A couple other guys I was with got some St. Louis style ribs that looked outstanding and they said the ribs were the best of the meats they tried.  Next time. St. Louis style is my favorite, but I didn't want to tease my mouth with just a few bones.  Definitely next time.  And I must say I really like Jack's Kansas City Style BBQ sauce!

I will certainly sleep well tonight though.  It's been a long and busy week already! 

Update - Ed Stetzer's thoughts on the CPLF.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Values Survey Released

The results of a survey released this week by the Public Religion Research Institute show that two-thirds of Americans believe it is important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs, even if those beliefs are different than their own. The research, based on interviews with 1,505 adults between September 22 and October 2 of this year, also reveals that only one in five Americans would object to a candidate whose beliefs were different to their own, and that 67 percent would be uncomfortable with an atheist as president. To read the full report go to the Public Religion Research Institute.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Nearness to God

I don't think we can measure our nearness to God by our feelings.  Honestly, our feelings are idiots sometimes!  And by that I mean that our feelings aren't always right because of many reasons.  With that in mind though, I think there are things we can do to feel closer to God.  I don't know what that is for you though, so you'll have to give it some thought.  For some people it can be music - God created music and gave us the ability to enjoy it, and some people really connect with God by listening to, singing or playing music.  Others it is nature - a walk in the woods or watching birds and thinking about the beauty of God's creation.  And there are many other things that we can do that make us feel closer to God. 

As I mentioned in my previous post, the truth is we aren't any closer to God at that point, we just feel that way.  One thing that I do personally when I feel distant from God is I spend extra time in prayer and reading my Bible - and while I do that I ask God to show Himself to me and to teach me in that time what I need to hear.  It often doesn't happen in a moment, but over time I start to draw back near to God.  The other thing I do is set aside time to pray - quiet time all by myself - and I just spend time thanking God.  I thank Him for everything that comes to mind.  Thanks for fingers and toes and snow and a lawn to mow and beautiful spiders and the chance to serve my son by changing his diapers.  Sounds weird, but I think we often times take a lot of our lives for granted, even the bad things in life, and they are all opportunities to praise God. 

A pastor I know got brain cancer, but used it to praise God.  Sounds strange, but when you see that kind of love for God in others, it draws you nearer to God as well. When I write my prayers down it is a huge blessing to me later.  I'll come back to those prayers months and years later and be amazed at how God responded to my prayers.  Sometimes they are answered, and other times I see God's wisdom in not giving me what I was praying for.  And of course, some of the prayers are unanswered as far as I know, but even those weren't wasted, God knows what's going on even if I don't.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Is God in your life?

Is God in your life?  First, you should know there are ebbs and flows to our feelings, but God is constantly there.  The changing thing is us not Him.  One way to feel closer to God is to spend more time in prayer - do this regularly for a while.  Do it just like you're having a conversation with a friend.  Some people (myself included) find it very helpful to write these prayers out in a prayer journal. 

Spending time reading the Bible is also helpful.  When I regularly read my Bible I always feel pulled toward God - even when He is pointing out my sins.  Read the book of John if you are looking for a place to start. 

Spending time with other Christians, especially those who are more spiritually mature than you are is another good way to feel God's presence in your life.  Keep in mind that often times our perspective is warped in our view of God, and we miss a LOT of places He is working in our lives and is close to us because we can't see it in the moment.  Years later we can look back and clearly see God's fingerprints all over our life, but in the moment while we are living it, it can often seem like we're not closely connecting with God at that time. 

Another place we need to look at is all the blessings in our lives and we'll clearly see that God is there.  While life can sometimes be tough and we can be frustrated, the reality is that God deeply loves us and provides for us in amazing ways.  We have food to eat where many in the world went to bed hungry.  We have clean and safe drinking water where many people died today because of diseases they picked up from drinking bad water.  While our relationships aren't perfect, there are people in our lives that God placed there who love us very much.  We have clothes to wear.  We have a roof over our head.  We have so many other wonderful and amazing things we take for granted - both big and small - that are clear evidences of God in our lives. 

Sometimes He isn't in our lives like we want or expect, but He is always there nonetheless.  And often times when God seems most distant is when He is actually closest to us.