Category Archives: Grace

The Courage of a Young Lion

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

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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.

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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.

Finding Grace In A Van Down By The River

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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.

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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.

IT’S STILL WORTH IT

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My wife and I are bereaved parents of a 24-year old son we buried nearly six months ago. In the wake of our beautiful ache, we both maintain the indicatives of this and my prior post. God remains good even in this, and it’s still worth any trial we must go through if we can but know Jesus more fully and intimately. Selah.

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My previous post (hopefully) encouraged the saints that in whatever circumstance of suffering or degree of disappointment, hardship, brokenness and despair you may find yourself in, IT’S STILL TRUE:

God is eternally Good to His own,

and is fiercely jealous of His own,

and eternally protective of His own.

That is unassailable Truth.

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Now I’d like to take it to the next level (as if there could be a higher level!) and leave you with this pinnacled truth: whatever bad business you’ve endured or are enduring, whatever mischief of hell cast against you, because of His promises, IT’S STILL WORTH IT!

(1) Because of His nature to love and guard His own, IT’S STILL TRUE: He is good.

(2) Because of the promises He folds into His new creation, IT’S STILL WORTH IT: I can go on. I won’t give up.

I can be strong in my trial because there is One who fights for me, wins my battles and makes me a (constant) overcomer in this life. I can endure because He will make my suffering worthwhile in an eternity bedecked with glories everlasting.

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IF GOD BE FOR US, WHO OR WHAT CAN BE AGAINST US?

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Steven Curtis Chapman sang a bold anthem, “Bring It On” and a year later, his son backed their car over their newly adopted little girl.

Bring it on
Let the trouble come, let the hard rain fall
Let it make me strong
Bring it on

Now, maybe you’re thinkin’ I’m crazy
And maybe I need to explain some things
‘Cause I know I’ve got an enemy waiting
Who wants to bring me pain

But what he never seems to remember
What he means for evil, God works for good
So I will not retreat or surrender

Bring it on
Let the lightning flash, let the thunder roll
Let the storm winds blow!

Now…I’m not advocating our throwing down the gauntlet and taunting the adversary but there is a blessed promise that we can boastfully claim. Nothing – absolutely NOTHING – the enemy brings against us will overcome and destroy us.

What does the intrinsic force of verse 31 do for you???

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Paul said it minimizes his trials. What they work FOR HIM is great and glorious, but what they do TO HIM is minimal compared to the greater work. Rom 8:18.

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― C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, illuminated this truth in an imaginative way:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

But please take note:

It is not suffering itself, but my voluntary acceptance, submission and praise of it. To come under it, be trained by it (see Heb 12:11) that produces greater glory within.

Rom 8:17 gives further light. Not just any suffering, but suffering “with Him.”

“But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.” CEB

To VOLUNTARY ENDURE suffering is proof that we belong to the Age to Come…it is the hostility of THIS age that works against us (and is the doorway into future glory!).

But, look – LOOK! – saints, at the glorious promises that make our renovations, remodels, additions and painful constructions worth it!

(1) Our REVEAL as eternal sons and daughters (v19)

Creation – sun, stars, mountains, oceans, beasts of the field, fish of the sea, birds of the air, trees and flowers in the fields, the sunrise and sunset – even angels! – all wait with eager expectation for the revealing of the sons of God. For our wedding day to the Son, for God Himself to make His Home in His people.

Creation was not designed to frustrate man, but to serve him and reflect his glory. Gardens were to produce fruits not weeds, the animal kingdom was not fearsome to man, but friendly; his body was free from disease and sickness, the night was not terror-filled and the climate was calm and favorable.

In the curse, creation was subjected to decay and corruption and not friendly dispositioned to man but rebellious. But this is not the DNA of nature and creation. It knows it’s under bondage and will remain so until the saints are glorified.

If you’ve wondered at the aggression of climate and nature you only have to know these point to the increasing of birth pangs as creation’s convulsions are getting closer together in anticipation of the revealing of the sons.

(2) Renewed PURPOSE (v20)

“Futility” translates ματαιοτησ,
‘nothingness’, ‘pointless’ and ‘worthless because so twisted and faulty’

Man was made in God’s image but through the Fall and Death, perpetuated Adam’s image (Gen 5:3). Through new birth, we are again bearers of the image of God! No longer pointless, worthless, vessels of destruction, but with glorious new purpose and destiny!
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I am moved by the words of Sara Groves in her song “Why It Matters”. The lyrics were inspired by Vedran Smajlović, a former cellist in the Sarajevo String Quartet.

During the Siege of Sarajevo, he played his cello in the bombed out buildings and on the streets where mortars had killed his neighbors and friends. He called this “a protest of the darkness” and spoke of his cello as a weapon.

Like the statue in the park
Of this war-torn town
And it’s protest of the darkness
And the chaos all around
With its beauty,
how it matters,

How it matters.

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The redemptive work of our own suffering is a “protest” against darkness, letting in light to those around who are lost and blind and shielded from Truth. I posit there’s no greater evangelical “tool” than for the unsaved to encounter a saintly broken vessel that lets the Light of Christ shine into the darkness!

(3) Infectious HOPE for the earth’s redemption (vv20b-22)

The Greek for corruption is the opposite of ζωη αιωνιοσ (eternal life). So we should relish the pains of our redemption – the “gospel of weakness” – because they are the merits that point to a glorious rebirth for the earth!

(4) the REMOVAL of every last curse of the Fall against us, taking us into eternal life – THE life, unended, that we were created for way back in Genesis 1 and 2 (see Rom 8:23)

Revelation alert:

Have you seen that Romans 8 is taking us back to our intended purpose: no condemnation, adopted sons, glory, a submitted creation, reigning in Life with the Father, uninterrupted fellowship, conquering and ruling?

What we have access to, what Adam and Eve could not partake in, is the Tree of Life. They had innocence conditionally – so long as they didn’t eat off the wrong tree of self-rule, but we have His Life permanently within.

Their judgment shut them away from the Tree of Life.

Our salvation has His Tree-Life growing in us!

So, to wrap up:

It’s worth it because:

(1) I’m assured of Finished Glory – that my future state will be as the Glory of the sun, moon and stars in Glory

(2) I have a purpose that is eternal – a unique role I’m called to perform throughout eternity, that only I can do, and that will add Glory to the Godhead

(3) A glorious environment is being prepared for me.

(In Genesis, the environment was first prepared, but in the New Creation, God prepares His Man and Woman, then prepares a place worthy of the Glory they’ll share with the Son!)

(4) The Joy and Glory of Eternity is endless and exponential – that the afflictions of this lifetime will determine the affluence of my eternity and the pains I endure here will reciprocate to pleasures compounded daily for eternity

Say it with me:

It’s worth it.

I can go on.

I will go on.

By grace.

Through faith.

In victory.

And a song.

For His glory.

Amen and amen.

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