Posts from February 2008
I was talking to a guy the other day about life. It led to a conversation about Christ, church and decisions he had made throughout his life.
As we talked I kept hearing the same theme over and over. He was talking about mistakes he'd made (and who hasn't?) and about when he became a believer and started going to church and "cleaned up his life."
It wasn't long before he stopped going to church. Some of his old bad habits came back and he even felt guilty or ashamed to go back to church. Thus, he's at this juncture in life - knowing something has to change, but not sure if going back to church will suffice. He still feels guilty.
I then said to him "Your idea of Christianity is nothing more than behavior modification. You've bought into the lie that says God wants you to be a good little boy and a 'nice guy' and it's frustrating you." I think I surprised him. Apparently, he's like most people who believe the Christian life is nothing more than going to church, behaving right and reading your Bible. While those are good things and even admirable, the questions remains "Is that it?"
Something in what Christ said regarding his purpose resonates here. He said the he came to bring us life, and not just life, but LIFE to the full.
Somewhere we've missed this.
Christianity is not about developing a list of good deeds and making sure you and everyone else follows them. The Pharisees did that and you can read how Christ dealt with thim. Christianity isn't about throwing away all the rules either. Remember, Christ didn't come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Therefore, Christianity is about understanding that God's boundaries for us are to allow us to experience real life, not keep us from it and Christ has come to give it to us.
What are your thoughts?
To be loved and be one's beloved. This is the final message in a series that takes a look at God's plan for attraction, love, romance, sex and marriage from the perspective of the Song of Solomon.
A few weeks ago the Florida Times-Union ran a series of articles on the adult industry and it's connection with the Jacksonville area. One feature was on a former adult movie and internet star, Crissy Moran. I had read of her on a Christian ministry's website that is dedicated to reaching people in the adult film industry for Christ. It's a pretty radical ministry in that most churches would never venture to even try to reach that group.
Here is a portion of the Times-Union's story on Crissy. . .
It began in a hotel room in Jacksonville. The pretty girl took off her clothes in front of a stranger for the first time and posed for the camera.
It was the fall of 1999 and Moran was desperately searching for something. A string of bad break-ups left the 23-year-old office clerk depressed. She'd worked at The Jacksonville Landing's Hooters for a while but found it degrading, after being chastised for not jumping rope or throwing Frisbees to entice customers.
"I was probably the only one there who wore glasses," she said.
She jumped to a string of jobs at a local retail store, the county clerk of courts then the Supervisor of Elections office. Curious about modeling, she posted bikini snapshots of herself on the Internet.
"People started e-mailing me. It was immediate," she said. "I was enjoying the flattery of being considered for a job."
Though she'd hoped legitimate modeling agents would call, the hotel room shoot instead launched her into the pornography industry. She quit her job and modeled full time. She took jobs in Miami and Los Angeles for Playboy and Hustler. Her bread and butter, though, was online.
Moran was creating a male following who ogled her images and, as a bonus, could communicate with her at her own personal dot-com. Hundreds e-mailed seeking more attention from Moran, who would occasionally write back.
She had moved to California and performed in mainstream porn movies. Those and her magazine shoots provided Moran with more exposure and drew people to her Web site, which garnered thousands of hits per day. A monthly subscription to her site cost about $22.95.
Though Moran made nearly $14,000 each month in the business, the raunch was weighing on her. For a while she was able to rationalize her work: "The people that I surrounded myself with, we all normalize it, and it's so, so easy. You turn on VH1 and there's [porn stars] Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeremy.
"But people don't realize the hurt and pain going on in the inside, or going on with the people who are addicted," she said.
One guy did.
Darren Hayman, a singer-songwriter from London, wrote a song about Moran that became a YouTube video.
When she'd slip on her nylon stockings,
does something shocking,
she doesn't blink an eye.
She imagines it's a fashion shoot in Tuscany,
not down in Tampa Bay.
It's best that way.
She cried when she heard his words. They were true and it hurt to hear them out loud.
Finally, Moran decided to get out. She quit her Web site last fall and immediately felt the backlash from her manager and Web master, who mocked her "interest in Religion & Christianity."
The monthly checks stopped coming. She was nearly broke.
Moran, now 31, joined a church.
"I know in the beginning when I first started going I felt a lot of them judging me," she said, but now it's the kindness of her friends and fellow congregants that gets her through emotionally and financially.
"I mostly think about the struggles I'm going through and how I don't have a job or the skills I could've been working on at that time and bettering myself in so many different ways," she said.
She wants to find a job - at least part-time - so she can go to school to be a social worker. In the meantime, she's started volunteering with Treasures, a nonprofit group that encourages women in the adult industry to turn to Christ. She's spoken out at her own church about her story, which she said helps her heal.
She still struggles with self-esteem issues and sometimes has a hard time relating to the people in her circles and gaining the confidence to interview for jobs.
When I read about Crissy's conversion I couldn't help but think of the amazing power God has to change a life. You can see for yourself at her mySpace blog - http://www.myspace.com/yourfriendcrissy. This is the story of a little girl who needed someone to tell her she was beautiful. That's what God is telling her now. She is beautiful, not just on the outside, but like all of God's children, she is beautiful in spirit and her heart is secure.
Crissy's story is extreme because, to be honest, we as believers sometimes just have a hard time remembering that God has the power to transform lives. . .any lives. Remember John 3:16? "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." I think in Crissy's case (as with us) the key word here is "whoever." Great reminder of the powerful grace of God.
Pray for Crissy. I've never met her, but she has Jacksonville ties, so she's one our own who lost her way but is now back on track. In reading her blog, one of the things that she struggles with is the fact that all the hundreds of images of her taken in provocative poses and for the adult industry are still floating out there in cyberspace as a constant reminder of her past. Thank God there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (though consequences still remain.)
Part 3 in my series through the Song of Solomon. Now we journey with this man and his bride through their wedding to their wedding night. God's plan for intimacy.
Our second journey into the Song of Solomon. This time we move beyond the man and woman's attraction into the realm of courtshihp.
Now I've done it. I've started a sermon series on the one book in the Bible that most churches avoid - the Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs.) This week we look in the first chapter to what is called "The Attraction."