Wednesday, November 2, 2016

"Tell Yourself the Truth"

James 1.21b-24 NASB

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.”

Mirrors tell the truth. They say it like it really is. There are very few people with Hollywood star-quality looks. Mirrors prove that. Mirrors reveal to the honest mirror-looker what everyone else already knows. Look in a mirror. You may or may not like what you see. But what you see is visual reality. Mirrors don’t lie. They cannot lie. 

Politicians ‘spin’ the truth. Photographers enhance the truth. Salespeople embellish the truth. Fishermen exaggerate the truth. Addicts ignore the truth. 

But mirrors tell the truth. 

Can you bear to take a mirror into your soul? There you cannot be a victim. You will find no one to blame. It’ s just you alone with you. What you see is super-visual, spiritual reality. Look deeply into this mirror. Memorize every broken, marred, and blemished detail in your reflection of self. Never forget the image. Be faithful to what you see. Be real with Jesus and everyone else.

“But prove yourselves doers of the word, not merely hearers 
who delude themselves... like a man who looks... in a mirror;... and gone 
away, [and] has immediately forgotten what king of person he was.”

The photo above is called "Reflection in the mirror" by photographer Sergey Mikhalchik from Copenhagen.  You can view his excellent work on "Yet Another Blog" at

Monday, October 10, 2016


Titus 1.15-16 a NASU 

To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him,…”

What is purity? Purity happens when profession and performance match up. A person consistent in word and action is pure, without inner conflict. He says what he believes and acts accordingly. A pure man is transparent, authentic, real. With the pure, what you see is what you get.

Jesus taught with great power because He was pure.

“…the crowds were amazed at His teaching;
for He was teaching as one having authority
and not as their scribes.”
Matthew 7.28-29 NAS

The scribes and the Pharisees were not pure. No one really believed what they said because they did not practice what they preached. They were hypocrites and Jesus nailed them:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but
on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In
the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous
but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
Matthew 23:27-28 NIV

The Pharisees of Jesus’ time were phonies and posers. What they displayed on the outside was not what you’d find on the inside. These guys were not congruent within themselves. For them, life was a show to impress and control the multitudes.

“They say they know God, but their

actions speak louder than their words.”
Titus 1.16a "The Message"

In 423 Men we try to tell the truth. We don’t sugarcoat, pose, pretend, defend, excuse, over-explain, understate, dismiss, minimize, rationalize, or justify. We simply tell the truth about our sexually addictive behavior patterns. During meetings, members report on their previous week’s successes and failures with sexual sin and lust issues. Overgeneralized statements about “acting out” are not acceptable, nor do we tolerate graphic detail which could sexually arouse listeners. Group members are simply required to confess and take responsibility for their sins in the presence of empathetic and supportive brothers. This transparent and honest process has an immediate freeing effect, prompting some members to discover freedom from sexual bondage for the first time in decades. 

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world... Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5.14a, 16). We are tempted to paint our bulbs yellow to simulate the light. Ultimately, that hypocrisy won’t fool anyone. We may decorate our globes with glitter and fluorescent colors, but the light will not shine without an in tact filament on the inside. The pure light from heaven shines with the brightness of day through the clear glass of a transparent and authentic soul.

A legitimate 423 Men prayer

Lord, make me a pure man. Help me make...
  • my profession and performance match up.
  • my actions speak just as loudly as my words.
  • what I profess to be true and show to be true exactly the same thing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

"Driven to Isolation"

Luke 8:29b NIV

“…and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.”

The Good Earth describes the plight of a peasant farmer, Wang Lung, and his family somewhere around the turn of the century in China. After enduring unspeakable poverty, Wang Lung finally achieves a measure of success and wealth. He becomes arrogant and loses his moral bearings. Driven by lower instincts he pursues his lust for a young prostitute…
“…fevered, filled with a sickened hunger, he followed slavishly, bit by bit, her unfolding, until the moment of crisis, when, like a flower that is ripe for plucking, she was willing that he should grasp her wholly.
“Yet never could he grasp her wholly, and this it was which kept him fevered and thirsty, even if she gave him his will of her. When O-lan [Wang Lung’s wife] had come to his house it was health to his flesh and he lusted for her robustly as a beast for its mate and he took her and was satisfied and he forgot her and did his work content. But there was no such content now in his love for this girl, and there was no health in her for him. At night when she would have no more of him, pushing him out of the door petulantly, with her small hands suddenly strong on his shoulders, his silver thrust into her bosom, he went away hungry as he came. It was as though a man, dying of thirst, drank the salt water of the sea which, though it is water, yet dries his blood into thirst and yet greater thirst so that in the end he dies, maddened by his very drinking. He went in to her and he had his will of her again and again and he come away unsatisfied.” [1]
Pearl Buck’s hero is inexplicably determined to destroy himself. What compels a smart man to do stupid things? Ask New York’s Governor Eliot Spitzer[2] or an Islamic suicide bomber or a compulsive gambler or a guy hooked on endless hours of internet porn or the abused wife returning home for more of the same. There is no answer beyond pointless rhetoric, pathetic excuses, or empty apologies. Like the Gerasene demoniac, they are “driven by the demon into solitary places” of personal destruction.

The same man who forced a “Legion” of devils into a herd of pigs, offers you and me “authority over all the demons” (Luke 9.1). Are we, like Wang Lung, driven by personal demons down the path of isolation and despair? We must face the truth, come out of isolation and into the light. Take Jesus up on His offer and join a community of recovery before you do something irreversibly destructive.

[1] The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck, Washington Square Press, 1931, p. 181.

Don’t let your life slip away without reading this 1932 Pulitzer Prize winner and Oprah’s Book Club selection in September 2004. The book was adapted for use in a major motion picture by MGM in 1937 and seen by an estimated 23 million viewers. Peal Buck’s work offered Americans of the 1930’s a glimpse into Chinese culture and may have paved the way for consideration of the Chinese as allies in our war with Japan a decade later. Pearl Buck was a civil rights and women’s rights activist and a great humanitarian. She grew up in China and served as a Presbyterian missionary to that country from 1914 to 1933. Buck founded Welcome House®, the first international, interracial adoption agency which has placed over 7,000 children since its inception in 1949.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

"The Annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue"

Mark 6.1 NKJV

“Then He [Jesus] went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him.”

I follow Jesus. I am a disciple of Christ, but not always a very good one. Sometimes I want to lay down my cross and veer a little from the path. That’s why God gave me 22 years with a great woman. He knows I mean well and, with a little help from my wife, I just might stay (nearer to) the course.

Adonica was a sports fanatic. She once subscribed to Sports Illustrated magazine and enjoyed the weekly updates on favorite teams and the mostly well written articles about athletes personal and team achievements. I occasionally glanced at the magazine.

Like most guys, I was aware of the annual swimsuit edition in which beautiful women model tiny bits of fabric. I’m not sure what this has to do with sports but I am fairly certain it boosts magazines sales and revenues. Maybe I would take one of my “occasional glances” when the swimsuit issue arrived in the mail. I would be nonchalant.

Adonica informed me the annual swimsuit issue had arrived.

“Oh yeah, where is it?,” feigning only casual interest.

“In the recycling. I didn’t even bring it into the house,” she replied.

“So you mean its in the red recycling box in the garage?”

“No. I mean it was picked up today and taken to the dump. It’s gone for good.”

“Good,” I said. “Darn,” I thought.

My dear wife saw this as a teaching opportunity. She explained that the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated is really soft pornography and had no business in our home. She also discovered that subscribers can ‘opt out’ of receiving the swimsuit issue and get an extra magazine at the end of their subscription. I learned that’s what we would do if we re-subscribed.

Truthfully, I probably would not have opened the magazine. God faithfully provides a way of escape with every temptation I face (1st Corinthians 10.13). By His amazing grace, I have not viewed pornography (or an SI swimsuit issue) for over 15 years or more. Nor have I started up my old sexual addictive behavior patterns since my dear Adonica died nearly 6 months ago. I am acutely aware of the enormous weight that sin once carried in my life. I don’t want to go there again. However, I most certainly would have been tempted and I am glad I had a marriage partner who understood that. I am weeping as I write these words, for she is no longer here to remind what a good man is and does. Now I must figure that out on my own.

And yet, she is here. Last August, Adonica joined “a great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds and reminds me to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” me, (Hebrews 12.1). Together we “followed Him” on earth and stayed on the path. Alone, I might have taken a detour. I certainly was not watching where I was going. 

The woman I married lovingly removed stumbling blocks and helped me remain true to my convictions. She was the most beautiful woman on earth. Now she’s in heaven. She’s still beautiful, I still love her, and I still have her. By Gods grace, I will not dishonor Adonicas memory. I will keep following Jesus and be the man she always wanted and deserved and expected and helped me to be.  


The beautiful image of the ring on the Bible casting a heart-shaped shadow is by Canadian photographer Travis Parsons of Vinland Photography, Newfoundland. You can view his exceptional wedding photography at

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"The Dark Room"

Ezekiel 8.7-10a, 12 NET

“He brought me to the entrance of the court, and as I watched, I noticed a hole in the wall. He said to me, ‘Son of man, dig into the wall.’ So I dug into the wall and discovered a doorway.” “He said to me, ‘Go in and see the evil abominations they are practicing here.’ So I went in and looked.” “He said to me, ‘Do you see, son of man, what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in the chamber of his idolatrous images? For they think, “The Lord does not see us! The Lord has abandoned the land!”’”

I would be mortified if others knew exactly what I was thinking. If the images of my mind were projected on a wide-screen television for all to see, I would be more than just a little embarrassed. If I imagine myself as an ancient city. The wall around the city is what I project to the outside world. I welcome friends through the proper gate into the town square where I present entertaining shows and engage in inspirational conversation. Only trusted friends receive an invitation to my personal residence where they may observe how I actually live.

But there is a room in my imaginary home no one is invited to enter. I call it the “dark” room and I try never to go in there. In this “chamber of… idolatrous images” hangs pictures of lust and greed. It is decorated with idols of jealousy and selfish ambition. People I despise are imprisoned there. I am ashamed of this room and tightly lock the door.  Though it beckons me relentlessly, I try to forget its existence. I’m afraid of this room. It’s very dark in there.

The Lord found “a hole in the wall” of my fortified city of self. He “dug into the wall and discovered a doorway” to my “dark” room! He “went in and looked” around. I was ashamed. I thought “the Lord does not see”. But He does. I thought “the Lord… abandoned” me to my room alone. But He didn’t.

Instead of politely avoiding this area of my abode, Jesus found His way in and shed His light. With the same righteous anger He exhibited in the Temple at Jerusalem [1], Jesus engaged in serious house cleaning. The junk in my “dark” room was exposed, ripped from its sacred pedestal, and thrown out with the trash.

Sometimes I feel sad, lonely, afraid, or otherwise “abandoned” by God. I am tempted to sneak back into my “chamber of… idolatrous images” and close the door behind me. I know this room well. I can hide from my outside realities, fully embrace my self-pity, and practice the “evil abominations” of my secret sin.

How thankful I am for the “Son of man” who will “dig into the wall” of my dark and private space and expose me to the light of His relentless and unending love.

[1] John 2:13-16a The Message 13 “When the Passover Feast, celebrated each spring by the Jews, was about to take place, Jesus traveled up to Jerusalem. 14 He found the Temple teeming with people selling cattle and sheep and doves. The loan sharks were also there in full strength.” 15 “Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather and chased them out of the Temple, stampeding the sheep and cattle, upending the tables of the loan sharks, spilling coins left and right. 16 He told the dove merchants, ‘Get your things out of here!...’