Category Archives: Christianity

The Courage of a Young Lion

IMG_0414.JPG

Watercolor artwork by Dylan Pierce (another one of my young lions!)

__________________

Over the past few years I’ve featured a “lion’s share” segment on my blog, providing a platform for the ‘young lions’ I’ve been privileged to mentor and father spiritually.

Today I share with you, my beloved readers, one of the great young men of his generation. Shawn Buck has been with me in the pride for a bit over a year and will soon be moving on from the den as God has called him away from us. Lord willing, Shawn will be leaving for Cape Town, South Africa for a two-year (or life-long?) commitment with the Ubuntu Football Academy.

I’m honored to serve on Shawn’s board but even more blessed to call him a son of the faith. This dude is as real as they come! In this post, Shawn bravely shares his greatest fight and offers hope in overcoming addiction to pornography. As the guys and I have discussed on numerous occasions, we don’t affix the slang “porn” too often because that has become a designation that makes it a culturally acceptable norm. To call it what it is – pornography – paints it in a more ‘graphic’ light, relegating it to it’s more insidious and self-destructive nature.

Thank you, Shawn, my son, for listening to Wisdom’s call and learning to pass by the “forbidden woman’s” house on the other side (Proverbs 7:4,5). I love you, courageous lion of God.

__________________

IMG_0500.JPG

When I was 13 years old, I came across pornography for the first time. It led me down a destructive road of getting deeper and deeper into the world of porn, of continuously lusting after girls and after self-gratification. It led to incredible shame, gut-wrenching guilt, and loss of self worth. It destroyed relationships and it built a dependence on something that doesn’t satisfy. It led me to lie constantly to cover my tracks. It consistently brought me into a world I never dreamt I would be a part of.

It changed my life.

Lust and porn is a cruel drug. That isn’t just some saying. It acts the same way as cocaine by releasing large amounts of dopamine into your brain. The fact that it is so easy to get can make it more dangerous than cocaine, because you can keep your brain doped up for hours (fightthenewdrug.org). It truly is one of the most dangerous things on this earth.

Have you ever heard of a healthy marriage where either the husband or wife wishes they would have slept with more people or watched more porn?

No.

Lust and porn are damaging to our future relationships. There will be images you can’t get out of your mind, unfair expectations you will put on your spouse and even damage done to your own confidence.

I pray that people realize just how destructive lust and porn are. This isn’t just some harmless thing that everybody does. One, it is so degrading to women. Women are amazing and deserve to be held up and shown so much more respect than porn. It truly does alter your view of them subconsciously and starts to paint them as objects in your mind. Two, it plays a large role in human trafficking. Chuck Norris actually wrote an incredible article about that here (http://www.wnd.com/2013/11/porns-part-in-sex-trafficking/). And three, it ultimately hurts you by making you think that that’s what it should be like: by bringing down your confidence, and by taking something so beautiful as sex and making it a cheap, non-committal and perverse action between two random people.

I say all of this not to judge you, be pessimistic or throw hatred on you, but to convince some of you that this is not some cute pet to keep around and play with. It is a dangerous destructive lion just waiting to destroy you completely.

I wish so badly that I could sit here today and tell you that it is something that I’m free of and have victory over, but it’s not. I still have a sexual addiction that I struggle with daily. I have seen significant, positive change in my life with this sexual addiction, though, and that is the only reason I am able to open up enough to write this blog and share my story with you.

I want you to know that you aren’t the only one dealing with this. You haven’t gone too far and or done something too awful. You aren’t defined by your addiction and you can see freedom from it. I have tried every cure/fix there is: accountability partners, Internet filters, multi-step programs, books, and everything else under the sun, and can I tell you the only thing that has made a lick of change in my life? Honestly, Jesus.

I know that is going to turn someone off and I hope you continue to read because I’m going to tell you the difference between all of the things I’ve tried and Him.

He knows you’re going to mess up. He doesn’t guarantee that everything will be fixed after 5 easy payments. He understands exactly, let me say again, exactly what you are going through. Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t happy you are failing like this, and yet he takes you back anyways. You will never go too far, mess up too much or be too unworthy of his acceptance. He loves you and delights when you realize that you can do nothing but lean on HIM. That’s called dependence, and when you start to depend on something that can truly satisfy instead of the false hope of pornography, that is when you will start to see change.

That is my story. Here it is for the world to see and know about. I hope that one day you can open up about your struggles and share your story with people.

If you don’t know whom you can tell, my email is scbuck27@gmail.com. I would love to listen and help in anyway I can.

Thank you so much for listening to my story!

H/T to Karlye – one of our lionesses! – over at flower roots.com. Her layout is way better than mine anyhow. And more pictures.

A Book, A Review and a Giveaway

20140727-184136-67296903.jpgRead on for a chance to have Matt’s book shipped to you FREE!

Matt Knisely asks to be “the voice that cuts through the noise in your head” and invites us to lie down in peaceful scapes and hear the gentle whispers of God to our road-weary souls. Sound inviting? Thought it might.

Matt sent me (and dozens of bloggers) an advance copy of his book “Framing Faith” that I might blog about it and offer a review here on my website. The back jacket sold me on the book before I even cracked it open. The author is an Emmy-award-winning photojournalist, has numerous honors, including Edward R. Murrow (2), for his unique photography and is recognized nationally for his compelling visual storytelling. Fittingly, Matt serves as the creative director for Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

Which all makes the book even that more appealing.

Aside from the eminent accolades and accomplishments, the book stands auspiciously on its own. In truth, I sat down and read it through in a single sitting, which I almost never do. I’m an ADD reader, losing focus after a few pages, plagued by sensory overload and needing to “step” away and process. Not this one. One of my favorite bookstore baristas even commented the day I (nearly) read it entirely through (save the final ten pages) that she would have greeted me but saw I was fully engrossed. Good for Matt for holding my attention.

He’s a very deep, scholarly thinker without being snooty or boring. Definitely not that. I told a buddy that I would’ve given the book five stars on Amazon simply for the ingenious quotes he deftly includes at the opening of each chapter. Not the same, overused, tired quotes you find in many popular Christian books, either. Ones you’ve never seen before. Matt, did you make them up?

My favorite was an Einstein quote which, for me, saddles the gist of the book’s purpose. Purportedly, the eminent genius was quoth to say,

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.

Einstein said that? The dude with unruly hair and caterpillar eyebrows? A romantic? Imagine that.

Knisely very craftily handles the lyric by reminding us that this world, with its entrapments of social media, calendar demands, tyranny of urgency and even trappings of religion all serve to deflect us from the Beauty that is with us and all around us. The magnificence of Christ and His creation.

Framing Faith is a call to authentically live out the faith instilled in our DNA, to tell our stories with care and contemplation and to take the time to listen for the heart story in others, disregarding our culturally-imposed 140-character or quick-status-on-the-fly limitations.

Photography, Matt reasons, is a medium that tells an authentic story, subject to interpretation, yes, but demands an interpretation nonetheless. Framing Faith encourages us to each find our unique story and give it voice, craft, color or composition. It reinforces the truism that we each matter. Matt’s thoughtful prose bequeaths us not to purloin the art of our organic selves from the gallery of God, hung in the full eye view of humanity.

I loved this book. It spoke in soothing rhyme to my at-times discordant tendencies and aided me to imagine for myself a frameworthy faith. Thank you, Matt, for being a seer and helping your readers to see more fully.

Nicely done.

My apologies. Couldn’t resist. 😎

______________________________

Matt has graciously offered some giveaways of Framing Faith and the first five readers to email me your address at scott@revonwheels.com will receive a free copy.

Finding Grace In A Van Down By The River

20140612-171912-62352437.jpg

I can’t be held responsible for what I’ve posted today. I just hope it’s because I’m under the influence of grace.

______________________

Romans 14:17 (Message)
God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness ‘sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with

joy

I like to get goofy sometimes. I love to laugh and kid and poke fun. I even love good-natured ribbing from friends whose hearts I trust and with whom I am safe.

I laugh at Ron Burgundy and Austin Powers and the Dumb and Dumber duo. Tommy Boy gets me every time. The night I learned of my son’s tragic death six months ago, I honored his memory by pulling up Tommy Boy on my Netflix because it’s a movie my boy and I watched dozens of times together.

I love Jesus. I cry at the drop of a hat. I can be dead serious about holiness, the mars and scars of the Church and the souls of the very men and women I laugh with and at on the big screen.

I know some believers who are all business. They exude starchiness and stiff collars. People choke on the religious dust they kick up behind them. If they sing, they prefer the minor key. Should a gathering of saints start getting away from a down and dusty Bible study and rollicking laughter and silly hi-jinx ensued, you’d see them withdraw and button down. They might even clear their throat as a warning.

I once made the mistake of laughing during a student revival. No, not holy laughter. Just plain ol’ Jesus-hugging giggling. One of my peers stared my friend and me down, obviously un-happy with our unrighteous behavior.

I couldn’t now say what made us laugh while some students were on their knees and faces in the guys’ dorm at camp late one night. I do know this: it wasn’t inappropriate. I know this because my friend and I had been praying for our school chums throughout the school year. We were deadly serious about the spiritual malaise of the guys and we wanted more than anything for our buddies to have a righteous encounter with God. We were in the minority of young men in our Christian school who fasted, prayed and cried out for a move of God in our school.

But we laughed and played too.

So when Sammy glared at us and lashed out with, “what’re you laughing about? Can’t you see God is working?” I just drew up, shriveled and felt condemned.

Satan loved it.

Turns out, my buddies just experienced a typical unsustained “camp high” spiritually because a week later, it was back to business as usual. Spiritual zealots one week, dullards the next.

Whatever the reason, I know my friend and I were not to blame for our holy laughter. And I know there’s a time to laugh and a time to weep. There’s a time to fast and a time to feast. There’s a time to dance and a time to put on sackcloth and ashes.

I know these things, trust me.

These days I’m drawn to three kinds of people: people of joy, people of humility and those who are painfully honest about themselves. Well, I suppose that’s the same as the second, so I’ll also include an honorary mention: I’m enjoying being with people of grace, who dispense it freely, don’t presume upon it and who readily admit they are lost and hopeless without it because it’s the only thing that will fix everything broken about themselves and brings joyful surrender to their souls.

Dang. I guess that’s the same as the other three. In short, these days I’m gravitating to grace largely because of my son’s obituary and redemption story.

I like the Laughing Jesus that’s hanging in our home’s foyer, a gift from a friend long ago. It reminds me that the Kingdom’s not a eulogy, it’s a doxology. It captures a Jesus who redeems lost causes, not the straight and square. When we start feeling good about ourselves with regard to our morals, performance and theology, we’ve already fallen from grace.

We like to use that text on those who laugh and play too much, but isn’t it directed contextually more to the proud and religious?

It’ll be Father’s Day this weekend, my first without my only child. I wish I could thank him for the best Father’s Day gift he ever gave me.

Graham’s leaving this earth has helped me process the fuller revelation of the gospel of the kingdom, that it is full of grace and truth – yes, grace AND truth (to those who’ll be quick to rightfully remind me)…but grace comes first and always in that equation.

I can’t think of a better way to thank my boy than to kick back and watch some more Chris Farley in a van down by the river.

I’ll keep your chair warm.

In full view of my Laughing Jesus.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 989 other followers