What Is The Difference Between Lust And Sexual Attraction?

8093460968_1e9224a109_b

The following is a recent exchange I had. I hope it encourages and sharpens you.

From: XXXXX

Date: Wed, 13 Mar 2013 22:38:33 -0600

To: pastoraloffice@watermark.org

Subject: Lust and  Attraction

Mr Wagner,

I have a very important question that most Christian men probably ask. What is the difference between lust and sexual attraction? It seems that the distinction between the two is always blurred. Is it possible to sense sexual attraction to a woman without lusting after her? I was talking to a friend tonight, and he told me that lust is distinguished by complete selfishness. Lust involves looking at a woman as simply an object of sexual desire while disregarding the fact that she is a human being with emotions and needs. Sexual attraction, on the other hand, is possible along with selflessness and respect for a woman even if the man is not committed to her in marriage. In other words, sexual attraction can exist without lust. Do you agree with this view? This is an important subject for me personally because from puberty till recent times, I was always given the impression that a man’s sexual attraction to a woman is solely based on lust, vulgarity, and misogyny. Many men do not feel like they ever lust after a woman; therefore, they question if they are capable of experience sexual attraction to a woman and then conclude that they are not attracted to women at all. In this country, it is probably reasonable to assume that every young male has this impression. Shouldn’t a man experience sexual attraction to his girlfriend or fiancée to know if he will be sexually attracted to her in future marriage? If it’s acceptable for him to be physically or emotionally attracted to her before marriage, why can’t he be sexually attracted to her as well?

Thanks,

xxxxx

*****************************

Xxxxx…thanks for your patience in letting me get back with you. You email was around a flurry of many more, but as of today, I am glad to tell you it was not forgotten. Now, on to your excellent question, and as I always want to do, let me run to Scripture as I look to serve you.

Temptation is not sin. We know this primarily because clearly our Lord was tempted and He never sinned (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:15). Also, James 1:14-16 directly answers your question:

“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”

James clearly states that lust isn’t sin, but lust when conceived (given life) always gives birth to sin. Sexual attraction is a normal aspect of human existence. If you think of lust as a desire to have what we want, regardless of God’s described best or others’ ultimate good then you see why we are not to let it rule us. Anything that rules us other than the Spirit of God is going to lead to death.

Sexual attraction is God’s gift. Meeting a God-given desire in a God-forbidden way is sin. This is why we are called to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). So, I would say that your friend seems to be on the right path. Check out Solomon’s take on his attraction to his bride in Song of Solomon and you will read more of how God wants us to enjoy our spouses in a healthy, sexual way. Not only is the Lord not bothered by their attraction to one another, He encourages them to “drink deeply”. Wanting the drink is not the problem. Where you drink might be.

We are not to be ruled by this thirst (even in marriage), but in all things we want to be ruled by Christ. How great that part of His rule is to allow us the joy of sexual intimacy with another human in a way that leads to life, pleasure and shameless joy. I would suggest that there probably ought to be a healthy level of sexual attraction between any couple that spends time together, which is one of the reasons we have to be wise in how we spend time together before we are married, lest we “awaken love before it’s time” (Song of Solomon 2:7;3:5)

Though not the ultimate reason for marriage, sex is a part of it, and it is not at all unhealthy that you should have to exercise discipline to remain pure with that person before you marry them. It is plenty unhealthy if you don’t, but that is another blog for another day. Remember, self-control is evidence that the Spirit of God is active in your life (Galatians 5:22ff). Sexual attraction is normal and God-given, and it must be governed by God-given principles and our reliance on His Spirit, which He graciously has given to those who believe. Don’t ever meet a legitimate need in an illegitimate way. Pain, guilt and shame await when we do.

Really glad you reached out, but let me encourage you even more to reach out to others here at Watermark who can run with you every day on topics like this. I am CCing the community team here as I know they would love to connect with you, hear more of your story, and introduce you to other men who can walk through questions such as this with you. Jump in with other believers deeply friend. Proverbs 18:1 has a lot to say about the sad state of those who go at this life alone.

Finally, in case you missed it, you should check out the great series done at the Porch on sex…you can find the link below and I think it, along with living in community with others, will be extremely helpful to you.

http://www.watermark.org/media/series/247/

If you want a good couple of messages on temptation in general, check out the “Way of Escape” series I did a few years back.

Press on friend, and don’t forget the truth of 1 Corinthians 10:13. You are not alone and you are not unable to keep your lust from giving “birth”.

Todd

 Do you have a question for Todd? Please send your question to pastoraloffice@watermark.org. We’d love to hear from you.

Making The Invisible Kingdom, Visible; Part 1

breakpoint-todd-wagner-interview-marriage-ministry-watermarkI recently had the privilege of  talking with John Stonestreet of Break Point about how we are making the invisible kingdom visible by investing into marriages here at Watermark. You can check out the interview below, and I’d encourage to also check out the various opportunities available to help your marriage become a clearer reflection of the Invisible Kingdom.

(Click the play button to check out the interview.)

[audio http://s3.amazonaws.com/Wccmisc/20130405_todd_point_interview.mp3]

-Todd

3 Things A Rapist Reminds Us About Living In A Wretched World

"...In his hand are the depths of the earth..." - Psalm 95:4

“…In his hand are the depths of the earth…” – Psalm 95:4

As anyone who lives in our area has become painfully aware, there have been a recent series of sexual assaults on women and consistent threats of acts of terror in local school districts. Unsurprisingly, these events are creating a growing sense of insecurity and even fear among an ever-growing number, and many have asked for my thoughts on how to shepherd yourself and others during these times.

Here are a few thoughts:

1. This is earth

The truth is that every day is filled with dangers, toils, and snares, many that have already come and many more that are coming. Any confidence we have that we are going to be continually free from the brokenness that defines our fallen world is misplaced. As the song says, “My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.” Rather than asking how these things happen, we should marvel that the “restrainer” keeps them from happening more. Believers must remind themselves of this everyday. We are not home yet. We are on assignment in enemy territory and sadness is never far away.

2. When others suffer because this is earth we should not think truth alone should quiet them.

God tells us this is earth, that we are at war, and that trouble is coming – but He also “comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4) He tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15). These are not just days to parade our theological assurances, they are also days to provide incarnational tenderness and comfort. The closer we are to those suffering, the closer our actions ought to reflect Jesus’ actions near those in pain. (see John 11…where our Savior shared truth AND tears.)

3.) While Jesus tarries and we live among terrors, let us be diligent to remind others that greater terrors are to come if they do not come to know the One Who is the Savior.

(2 Peter 3:9-15) Bold proclamation of ALL of our need for a Savior (not just the rapists or terrorists) is both appropriate and ultimately the primary means that this world can be a little more kingdom-like until the Kingdom comes. How we as believers live in the midst of these days says much about the fact that Jesus is the King we claim. As a brother in Christ and fellow servant of at least two of the young ladies recently assaulted, I have been spurred on by the testimony widely observed of their faith, faithfulness, courage, and other-worldly peace. Pray with me for these dear women. Everybody wants to be Daniel but nobody wants the lion’s den. I am humbled to live among the saints in this city and pray our love for each other makes us stronger, our Savior more famous, and our city safer.

Praying with you for our land and our faithfulness in it.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14,

Todd

A Few Thoughts From Todd On Memorizing God’s Word

tips memorizing bible scripture

Todd,

I’m a member of the *** community here at Watermark and one of the topics that JP often references is the amount of scripture you have memorized. I’ll admit, I’m often impressed by your ability to bring up, seemlingly, the perfect verse at the perfect time during Q&A and impromptu talks. I’ve read a few books on memorization, mostly because I don’t think my memorization is great. These books are good for helping remember names and events, but I don’t think it’s the best for memorizing scripture, quotes, or poems. As such, I wanted to ask about your approach to memorization. Is it through a series of tools like flash cards or read/repeat techniques? Or do you have another way of categorizing scripture in your mind?

Thanks for any guidance on this endeavor.

***

Brad,

Love that you are wanting to get more Scripture committed to memory and are asking! One thing that I’d suggest (and a system I’ve used) is the Topical Memory System from the Navigators. You can check it out below, and Watermark’s Equipped Disciple ministry also goes through these verses. You might want to check that out and jump in with others. One of the keys to any commitment like this is having others around you spurring you on (I have cc’d XXXX who is the leader of EQ.)

Either way I would beg you to jump into life with others as a means to faithfully live out the Word…and joining a community group is a great place to start! I have CC’d Luke Friesen from our community ministry here so that he can help you find a community group if you don’t already have one.

As for my “personal method of memorization”….review, review, review…saturate in the Word….live in the Word…meditate and then review again. No real secret for me. Some use pictures and “mental markers”…that is awesome if it helps you but focus and review is what I have used. I am ccing Robbie Rice as well b/c he has a method that has proved helpful to others.

One last word ***…I’m praying whatever you memorize you double down in living! All the memorizing and reviewing do us know good if we don’t execute. So memorize and jump in on Hebrews 10:24-25 with me.

Encouraged ***…hope you experience the blessing of Psalm 1 by hiding God’s Word in your heart!

Matt 7:24,

Todd

214-239-8809

www.twitter.com/wordsfromwags

pastoraloffice@watermark.org

www.watermark.org

To those of you reading this, what methods of memorizing God’s Word has been helpful to you? Leave a comment below and tell us about it.

Don’t Follow Your Passions…Follow Him

As I sat down January 1 to shepherd myself and my kids I decided to come up with a group of questions that we could ask ourselves EVERY DAY to evaluate how we are abiding with the One we profess to follow.  It all starts with daily learning more of Jesus and His ways and continually yielding to His Spirit which dwells in all who believe.  My deep conviction is that as our lives increasingly have full and meaningful answers to the following questions our lives will increase in joy, fullness and serve as a greater source of glory to our King.  I am sure you can improve on my list of questions, but as for me and my house, we are going to purpose to improve our ability to faithfully answer them every day (Matt 6:33-34).  Feel free to add your own….but in all your adding stay focused on using them to sharpen each day the Lord gifts you (Psalm 90:12). Check out more on these by listening to what I shared at Watermark this past Sunday here.  Hope you are encouraged!

LEARN:
What have you done to grow in wisdom and stature today?
What do you know today about God, His Word or His purposes that you did not know yesterday?
What are you going to do differently as a result of what you have learned?

1 Tim 4:7; James 1:22

LEAD:
How is this world or are others better today because you have stepped up and been God’s servant?
When you showed up, how was evil restrained, injustice conquered, love multiplied, captives rescued and/or joy increased.

Luke 4:16-21

LOVE:
What have you done today to make someone else know of God’s great love for them?  Has your motivation for everything been love of God and others?
“May this small act of kindness remind you of God’s great love for you.”

1 Cor 13:1

LAUGH:
Have you laughed out loud today?
Have you laughed uncontrollably?
Have you laughed till you cried?
Have you made others laugh much today?

Prov 17:22

LIVE generously:
How have you shown generosity today?  Who is better off because God stewarded you with His resources?

2 Cor 8:9

LIVE with gratitude:
How have you expressed a heart filled with Thanksgiving today for the multitude of blessings you have received?

Eph 5:20;

LIFT others up:
Who have you encouraged today with a word, a phone call, an email, a note or a card?

Heb 3:13

LEAN on others:
Who are you relying on to spur you on?  Confront you? Shepherd you?
Who has access to your heart? Who faithfully reproves you?  Sharpens you?  Admonishes you when you are unruly?
When is the last time you repented and changed because someone who loves you “smote you in kindness”.

Ps 141:5; Pr 13:20

LIVE it all by faith (by yielding to the Spirit):
What have you done today that only makes sense because you believe in the grace of Christ and the resurrection of the dead?
Have you lived today by faith? By the power of in constant relationship with the Spirit?

Col 1:29; Eph 5:18

 

What do I do if want to be God’s man? How can I grow to love and lead like David?

Ok Porch (and all blog friends)…here is the short note I sent to someone a few years back that I promised last night I would post for you.  Below you’ll find my response to a question about how they could take new ground in their relationship with Christ and grow to love and lead like David.  So much more I could have said….but if you want a good quick response to the question, this short reply will serve you well.  I know I was spurred on myself when I reread it.

I LOVE your question. Good for you for asking…the test of your heart will be in the doing. In the end, what you need to do is easy….but difficult.  The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat. (Prov 13:20)

Learn.  Learn constantly.  Read.  Read well.  Meaning read the right stuff…which obviously means read God’s word ferociously…it alone is profitable for teaching, rebuke, correction and training in righteousness.   Ask people you respect what book has impacted them the most.  Read broadly…not just the pop Christian stuff…read old books that have stood the test of time.  When you read the bible…read it with a pen in your hand and an expectation that the Lord is going to give you something to deal with/learn from/act on etc……Read to ACT.

Lead.  The best way to grow is to put yourself in a place where you have to learn…and place where you have to stay fresh…a place where you need God to show up or you will crater.  A place that demands your attentiveness to Christ.  A place where you can give so you have purpose in your getting.  Teach.  Do not shy away from hard conversations.  Don’t let someone put a ceiling on you.  Dream, believe, act.  Responsibility is laying around everywhere…pick some up.  SERVE.

Be Loyal to your Lord.  “Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man.” (Prov 20:6)  Make it your goal to be a man that the Lord wants to strongly support.  (see 2 Chron 16:9, Isaiah 66:2)

Choose your friends wisely.  Make allegiances with or depend on no one except sold out followers of Christ who want to see Jesus made more famous.  It is amazing how quickly we become like those with whom we spend time. (This works BOTH ways: see Prov 13:20; 1 Cor 15:33) Don’t allow folks with fortunes or fame to influence your actions….move by the leadership of the Spirit. 

Finally, seek the Lord…not leadership.  God uses faithful men…not self-promoting, inpatient men.  Be a Joseph and Pharaoh will find you.  Be a fraud and you will be found out.

Learn and lead….grow and give…don’t wait, start now.  Reject passivity, hate apathy, assume it is your time and your moment. Be a man of action. The precious possession of a man is diligence.. (Proverbs again!) You know the Lord wants you to be His man..so if there is not a steady sanctification in your life, it is not a problem with HIS will, it is a problem with yours. 

Praying for you friend…may both of us be overwhelmed how the Lord works in and through you.

Joshua 1:8,

Todd

Why Doesn’t Watermark Church Have A Cross On The Stage (Most Of The Time?)

watermark-stage-shane-and-shane

Where’s the cross?

With technology today, one way I frequently interface with Watermark members and guests is through email. I typically get some excellent and thoughtful questions that I welcome the opportunity to respond to. These questions are great teaching moments for not only for myself and those who are asking, but also for anyone else who may have similar inqueries. From time-to-time I would love to leverage this blog in an endeavor to make those emails public and spark more conversation around them.

To kick this off, below is an email I recently received from Jason asking why we don’t have crosses on stage. Read below for his original question and my response back to him.

—————————-

From: xxx
To: pastoraloffice
Subject: Cross?

Quick question…Why is there no cross on the stage?

From: Todd Wagner (pastoraloffice@watermark.org)
To: xxx
Subject: Re: Cross?

xxx…glad you asked. While we don’t have any objections to crosses being on stage (that is evident if you were here with us on Easter…if you weren’t, check out this video. Most of the time however, our set up does not typically include a cross on stage. The same is obviously true for the outside of our building but we earnestly pray it is never true in regard to the the testimony of our lives.

While a cross is an excellent reminder of Christ’s atoning death for us and our subsequent justification and death to sin, we also believe having a cross on our bodies or our building is not necessarily the best way to display our love for it or the Christ Who hung on it. I think you will agree that there are many who culturally wear a cross around their necks without having any understanding of its implication and also sadly agree that there are too many buildings with crosses on top of them that are full of leaders, followers and doctrines that do anything but reflect its glory.

As you know, Jesus says they will know we are His disciples by the way we LOVE one another, not by the way we decorate our stages, buildings or wardrobes. (John 13:34-35)

Bottom line, we have no objection to a cross being displayed anywhere in or on our building or bodies but we do pray that we have an increasing obsession to live our lives in such a way that others see us “pick up our cross daily and follow Jesus.”

Hope that helps xxx…I’m not sure if you are fully connected with us at Watermark, but would love to help you take steps towards doing so if you would desire that. Glad you reached out and hope you are out representing Christ by the way you lead, love, and serve today!

Todd Wagner | pastoraloffice@watermark.org
Watermark Community Church
www.watermark.org
214.239.8809