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Category Archives: Temptation
“My name is Jesse Vaughan, and I am going to share how friendships have affected my life greatly. Friendships were designed to make life more enjoyable but also to strengthen the soul of each other. Unfortunately, the part I lacked was that some of the friends I made were in no way good influences on the way I wanted to live.
This story begins when I decided to start public high school with no Christian guy friends. As baseball season came along, I made some friends, whom at first seemed completely harmless. In fact, I was fooled into thinking I was leading them to Christ. At the end of my freshman year, two of those friends decided to smoke weed for the first time, which then ended up being a weekly thing for them. I was influenced greatly although I was able to stay clean for quite some time. At this point, I would still hang out with them because – well, they were my friends. I was not ready to give them up and be alone. I thought I could continue to be friends with them and still live clean from drugs and alcohol. I would soon learn how difficult this would be.
The first weekend after school started I went to my friend’s lake house with another friend. This is where I finally gave in to the temptation of alcohol, which later lead to the use of drugs. I must explain all of this to emphasize that the main reason this occurred was due to the fact that I didn’t choose the right friends at first. “Bad company corrupts good morals” is what I have always been told, but just didn’t get it until later.
During baseball season of my sophomore year, a parent of one of my other friends caught her daughter with drugs and told all the parents of the kids she had been texting. I was not on this list but two of my friends were, which is how my parents found out about their actions. I then could not hang out with those two kid anymore, and I couldn’t help but feel as if I was lacking a best friend (later I would recognize that I have a perfect best friend who is there wherever I go). As my friends got kicked off the baseball team, all I felt was guilt because I was right there with them doing that stuff. This lead to me confessing to my parents, and truly repenting, and coming to the realization that without Jesus as my best friend, I would never be able to overcome the devil.
God tells us that every day it is necessary to put on the armor of Christ, which is true. Although, fighting a battle with no other soldiers from God’s army is a definite loss; therefore, it’s also necessary to find a band of brothers all fighting for the same cause; but to be certain of an overall victory, God has to be the leader. Of course, there will be fallen soldiers and lost battles; but I have read the back of the book and if we stay on God’s team, we win!”
“Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. 9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication. 10 Then my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, ‘Where is the LORD your God?’ My eyes will look upon her; now she will be trampled down like the mire of the streets.”
Micah 7: 7-10
In our day and age, even as young men, the obsession with dating has reached an unprecedented level. Nowadays you rarely meet a middle-schooler who hasn’t “dated” anyone. These so-called dating relationships last a few weeks to a month or two at most. Now, personally, I believe, and this is my opinion, that when you can drive someone somewhere and then go eat or go to a movie and then drive them back to their house, that is a date. The word dating doesn’t implicitely include make-out sessions, sex, or total exclusivity, by any means. But these relationships almost always end in anger, heartache, broken friendships, and two people who are worse for wear. And that’s just middle-school.
Then you move to high school relationships, where it is worse. These relationships are almost solely based on physical highs and emotional entanglement with flimsy boundaries that are easily exploited. I’ve read stats that only 2% of high school sweethearts get married. I believe this is due to most dating relationships being based on infatuation or puppy love. On top of this, I bet if you ask a friend in a relationship what their goals are or why they like that person, they will stare blankly back at you or say they have never thought of that before. My dad challenged me to set goals in my relationships with people, especially girls, and especially when I start dating. In my opinion, I don’t feel like dating is a smart idea until about freshman year in college. This doesn’t mean I’ve never liked a girl or had feelings for one before; I have just seen where these young relationships lead: decreasing grades, obsession, and usually gradual seclusion from friends and family. This is not healthy for anyone, especially a maturing Christian man, so I have resolved to not date until later in my life; because at this point, I don’t see the wisdom in it at such an early age.
At this point, I have never kissed a girl. I feel like it gets you too emotionally entangled with her and leads to other, more risky things. Some words of wisdom from a friend to me were that kissing leads to babies… meaning that once you open that door, you put yourself on a downward slide of more compromising behaviors. I am lucky to have such a wise and Godly father who has been able to guide me down this winding road and has set me up for success to avoid the same traps that he experienced, and I am forever greatful for that. I have been fortunate enough to read books by great Christian authors on dating by Biblical standards as well as on girls and what they want deep down inside. These have given me a different perspective on what God wants and what girls want. At times I feel like I am hopelessly alone in my convictions and wonder if I am doing the right thing; but I am continuously encouraged by older men’s stories, along with young men in college, encouraging me keep up my resolve.
It may sound like I am against dating, but I am most definitely not. I just feel that before you fall head over heels for a girl and start dating, just because she makes you feel good and is hot, you need to take a few weeks or even a month or two to let the infatuation wear off and pursue a friendship instead. This doesn’t mean you can’t like her; it just means that you should make wise decisions. When you do finally begin to date, make sure to set clear goals and boundaries and never throw your relationship with God to the wayside. Also, try your best to not fall into the trap of physical entanglement; because I bet if you ask your dad or one of his friends if they regret being sexually active or promiscuous in high school, every one of them would answer with a whole-hearted yes. It’s not worth a world full of heartache for a few moments of an emotional high. Again, I am not against dating in high school; I just encourage everyone to be very methodical in choosing a person and in beginning a dating relationship.
For all of my life, I have longed to be loved. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been loved by my parents, friends, and God, throughout my life. He surrounded me with so many godly people; yet still, I was not always satisfied. Growing up in a Christian home and attending Christian private schools for most of my life gave me the tools to find God and know him more. Yet I longed for satisfaction in my life—I longed for love. Striving to be a good person, I sought acceptance and love in all the wrong places. Looking towards friends for acceptance, being the guy to take home to mom and dad, having a good Christian reputation, excelling in sports, and being loved by my parents (not for who I am, but what I have done), etc. were some of the things I thought would make me feel loved and happy. That was not the case, so I kept on searching.
Sure, I was a Christian. I prayed to God when I needed him or needed something from him, but I never fully embraced him for who he was. I knew he was my Savior, who had died for me and would forgive me of my sins, but I never fully experienced his love and grace because I never fully embraced him. Instead, I went to the world. I had numerous girlfriends, but could not find true love. Then I went to the internet and my iPhone, only to find a lust that would not only lead me astray from God, but would destroy my life and leave me broken and unfulfilled. Eventually, in the midst of my battles, I recognized the idols in my life, such as: baseball, friends, and my girlfriend—I had to give them up to God in order to glorify him and live for him.
I have been blessed abundantly and do not deserve the life that I have lived. Still, the question remained in my mind. “God, you have you given me the talent to play a collegiate sport, surrounded me by such godly people at a Christian college, given me a wonderful family, and placed a godly woman in my life… So why am I still on the internet lusting and ultimately looking for a satisfying love?” When times were tough, when I didn’t feel loved or accepted by my friends, family, girlfriend, or God, I would turn to lust. Afterwards, I would turn back to God in humiliation and despair, asking him, “Where are you?” I would pray constantly. I desperately wanted to experience a full, satisfying love. My family, friends, and girlfriend pointed me to a love that would satisfy, but I looked toward them instead. I finally realized that the expectations I put on my girlfriend, family, friends, and baseball, could only be met by God. I longed for my girlfriend to love me fully, but all she could do was love me as best as humanly possible. I expected satisfaction in a godly relationship despite our sin. I expected success and support throughout my life because I prayed and read the Bible, but I only got a taste of temporary satisfaction.
This search left me weary, burdened, depressed, and unsatisfied. I didn’t feel like myself. I had hope, since I had been pointed towards the answer, which was him all along. Yet I was just too selfish, angry, and doubting, because I couldn’t necessarily see him in all of this. I was broken… and that is where I found him—I found true love. Dealing with life issues as a couple, relationally and individually, my girlfriend and I decided to take some time apart from one another to focus on God. During that time, I realized that I had been living a life of me; but until I was fully broken, I couldn’t see my weakness and my need of, not just what God could do but who he is—Love.
I have been pure and abstaining from lust for almost two months now because I finally experienced His love. Through this search, I have found that that pure love can only come from God. As humans, we have unrealistic expectations that we place upon ourselves and others. Recently a sermon helped me realize that as humans we cannot measure up to such expectations—it is only in God that we can measure up (Matt. 11:30). When I looked to him in my brokenness, I finally realized my self-worth. It’s frustrating that it took me this long to realize that the answer had been right in front of me my whole life. But it was not until I was fully broken and sapped of my strength, from battling my flesh, Satan, and the world, that I lay there defeated, asking God to lift me up, carry me, and mold my life to His will.
By God’s grace, I finally found the answer to my prayers. An intimate, loving relationship is a “constant, selfless walk” with God. Previously, I had been lingering in my sin and then sprinting to catch up, only to find myself thirsty and out of breath. I would drink from the dirtiness of the world only to spit it back out; I would drain everything from from my friends, family, and girlfriend only to want more when they had nothing left to give. When I finally did find intimacy, it was by drinking of God’s word and actually applying it to glorify him and live in his will. Two verses that spoke to my blindness and brokenness were Mattew 27:45-46 and John 8:11. In Matthew 27:45-46, it says, “Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”
As I bawled reading this, I realized that it was not the physical pain which was too great for him (which I cannot even begin to imagine), but the loss of God’s presence in his life that was so crushing. Jesus lived in perfect intimacy with God and walked with God and lived every day of his life, not in his will but in his Father’s will, only to bear the weight of our sins on the cross; it crushed him spiritually as he felt the presence of God leave him. You see, Jesus longed for intimacy too; but it was not because of his sin, since he was perfect, but because of my sin that he sacrificed his life physically and spiritually for me. I was dead, but he made me alive; and I truly experienced this when I realized my brokenness. John 8:11 talks about the adulterous woman who was about to be stoned when Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” After all of the disobedience, pain, and hurt I have caused myself, my girlfriend, my family, my friends, and most importantly my God, I wondered how I could make amends and fix all that I have messed up. And that is the beauty of this verse. After so many years of lusting longing for an intimate love and destroying my life and the respect of so many others, I realized I cannot fix what I have done. Only He can.
When I read Jesus’ words, “Neither do I condemn you” I fell to the ground realizing how I don’t deserve this life God has graciously given me. I was overwhelmed with grace, love, and gratitude. I finally felt like myself. God redeemed my life and made me into a man of God. With that being said, I know I must constantly walk with God and keep watch of Satan. He has been banging on my door, verbally abusing me, and questioning my confidence, and has tempted me more now than ever; but that is the beauty of it. In these moments, God has shown himself to me even more and has pointed me back to him and enveloped me in his loving arms. Constantly praying, being in his Word, and applying it on a daily basis, has ended my search for a true, satisfying love. It is a daily struggle to live in his will and be patient and faithful, but it is through him that I am humbled in my brokenness, boast in my weakness, and love because he first loved me.
To conclude, I would like to thank Jeff Knapp and his ministry IRON & FIRE for being a huge influence in my life, my family for supporting me, encouraging me and loving me, Victoria whom I love and cherish and cannot thank enough for loving me, being there, and pointing me back to God, the French family for loving me as their son, as well as my accountability partners and those who have helped me in my struggles (Dave Hamilton, Rashad Gober, Malcolm Galwey, Kevin Hughes, my father, Jeff Knapp, Lee French, John Holland, Spencer Smith, Andrew Beck, Keith Rice, Scott Hoelsema, Chad Miller, and Victoria).
My story starts like a lot of other people’s story. I went to a Christian elementary and middle school and was raised in a Christian household. I was drilled on all the facts and what I was supposed to believe. I accepted Jesus into my heart at a young age and always knew what I believed, but didn’t really walk the walk. I went through public high school pretty much unscathed by the big bad world, mostly due to the fact that I was so afraid of getting in trouble with my parents and hurting my relationship with them. Once I went off to college, my world was flipped upside down. It was the loneliest year of my life. I literally didn’t have any friends, regardless of my attempts to meet new people. I thought something was wrong with me. I was lonelier that I had ever felt and for the first time my mind was consumed with thoughts of how to fit in.
It wasn’t until the end of my freshman year that I reconnected with an old friend from high school. He invited me to his apartment where I met his roommates. It wasn’t 10 minutes into my visit that I was smoking weed, getting high for my first time.
I ended up moving in with those guys, taking over my friend’s rent when he moved out of the apartment, and lived there for the next two years. It was all downhill from there. I found out real quick that I was not a drinker. It really just made me feel gross. This was really hard because both of my roommates drank to get drunk almost every night of the week and were constantly trying to pressure me into drinking. I felt like I needed to find my way to fit in; and I did this by smoking. I started out smoking weed here and there whenever someone offered it to me; but then it turned into me spending my own money on it. Fast-forward almost 2 years of living this sin. My parents literally didn’t have a clue I smoked; and I was confident that I would never get caught. For some reason (the Lord), at the end of my junior year, I felt like I wanted to tell my parents I smoked. I struggled with this thought for a few months until one late night while talking to my mom, I just told her. I was tired of living the lie. This was the start of a battle between me, the Lord, and the Devil.
I was completely brain washed. I believed that weed was all natural and therefore okay. I looked everywhere to find an answer that told me it was okay. I even went to the bible for an answer. This is where the Devil was really trying to get me. I read verses like,
Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth. And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. Genesis 1:29-31
I thought, “Yes! I have justification that this is okay for me to do.” Unfortunately, there was a verse I found that I could not shake. It was,
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
This got me thinking; but not enough to make me want to quit.
My mom had told me to watch these videos on IRON and FIRE’s blog. I told her I would, with no intention of actually watching them. The next day I’m scrolling down my newsfeed on Facebook and there is Andrew Collins’ video. I watch his video, then the next, and before I know it, I had watched all six videos. After watching all the videos, I realized all the lies I was telling myself were not true. I was so brainwashed that I believed that everyone was doing it so that made it okay for me to do it. I felt like I was the only one out there that was trying to quit doing something that I really didn’t want to quit doing in the first place. It wasn’t until I decided to meet with Jeff that he totally opened my eyes to the sin that I was living within. He then invited me to be a part of IRON and FIRE.
Here I got to meet tons of guys. Some older and some younger, but we all had one thing in common. We were trying to make each other better by having fellowship together, spending time in the word, and praying together. IRON and FIRE has helped me to meet new friends that are Christians. When I first stopped smoking, one of my biggest fears was that I was going to be lonely again and boy was I wrong. In fact it was the complete opposite. I met new friends that were there to build me up and encourage me. I had really never experienced this type of friendship. This type of friend is called a brother.
The more time I put between that time of my life and now, the clearer it becomes of how I slipped into that life style. My biggest encouragement to someone reading this is: You need to have a reason to quit doing what you’re doing. Like I stated earlier, I didn’t really want to quit because I didn’t see the harm in it. I didn’t see how this was harming my relationship with the Lord and killing my potential to be all that I can be. It numbed my brain and helped me feel like I was “fitting in.” The first few weeks after quitting was the hardest because I had to quit using pure will power, instead of relying on the knowledge that it was sin. Once I believed that it was truly a sin and hindering my relationship with the Lord, I was able to lose the desire to smoke.
All in all, IRON and FIRE has been the biggest life-changer for me. It has helped me see who I really want to be and has refocused my life to the Lord. Now I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means, but I now have accountability and fellowship to help me work through my daily struggles and draw closer to the Lord.
“The Gospel is a simple message to grasp; and yet it also has huge implications and so much to say about living life that there is no way we can cover it all in one place. The gospel is multi-faceted and all of the implications should be considered; because, to just walk down one path repeatedly, would mean missing out on other aspects. For example, talking about freedom in Christ exclusively might lead to licentiousness – but not talking about it can lead to legalism. Today, and over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the cost of being a Christian; and this entry is about the cost, at the risk of downplaying the joy.
The closer I get to the Gospel, the more I realize that there are certain parts that are really unpleasant to act upon. Gospel Lite as Steve Brown calls it, is really easy to sell. The Gospel however, is impossible to sell. Everybody loves hearing about eternal life, free grace, and all the other wonderful things about Christianity. But nobody wants to hear about being hated for being a Christian. Nobody wants to hear about living a step or two below your means so that more of your resources can go to the needy. They’d rather hear about God blessing people with prosperity. And I don’t blame them.
When you grow up in the church like me, it’s really easy to start thinking in a bubble because you lived in a bubble. John 17:14-16 is the foundation for the phrase being in the world, but not of it. It’s one of the greatest challenges we face as Christians. It’s really easy to be a Christian when your life is spent living in Christian fortresses like mine. Inside you have to deal with things like self-righteousness, but nobody thinks you’re stupid for being a Christian. Nobody laughs at your decision to wait until marriage to have sex. Nobody assumes that you are intolerant. And nobody makes you feel uncomfortable when you talk about Jesus. But after some time at UGA, I came to the realization that the Christian was never intended to live in the fortress. They’re meant to live in the world; to be salt and light. And that’s costly, and difficult, and requires a lot of grace, because it’s really easy to become of the world, and not just in it.
I worked at Snelling Dining Hall for three years during my time at UGA. Originally, I was just there because I needed the paycheck; but eventually, I made a lot of friends among my co-workers and began hanging out with them during my senior year. Through these friends, I met a girl and we hit it off at the beginning of the spring semester.Read more ›
“Everywhere we look in life, we find conflicting views on achieving true fulfillment and happiness. There are many different worldly avenues through which one can search for significance, whether through being successful in the business field, having popularity throughout social circles, getting attention from the right girls, you name it. It is all too easy to get caught up in this secular worldview where God is, in essence, placed on the backburner as we pursue finding our own significance through worldly means. This is exactly what Satan wants, to make the things of this temporary world so enticing to our flesh that we make them more important than God.
This is by far my biggest struggle in life. Some part of me, deep down, believes that if I devote myself fully, one hundred percent to God, I will be missing out on all of the “fun” that this world has to offer. It’s only recently that God has opened my eyes to this struggle. He has given me nearly everything I desired in my selfish nature as I pursued finding my significance through other means: the girls, a great close group of friends, getting into nearly any school I desired, a great and understanding family, being highly well off, and even a state football championship. If examined solely from a secular point of view, my life would be going as well as I could hope and I should have no complaints.
But with all of these worldly, albeit positive, experiences, I lost track of God and placed Him on the backburner of my life so that I could enjoy everything else. God was the One who was truly making all of this happen for me, but rather than acknowledge Him for all that was happening, I began to place more and more focus on myself and pursuing fulfillment by these worldly means. However, again and again, I was left wanting more, and knowing that there was more! I had bought into what the world says will make you fulfilled, while making God less of a priority in my life. The irony of this is, as I tried to become more and more significant through secular means, I was truly becoming more and more empty on the inside because these things had partly taken over the position that God had in my life.
Although none of these things were bad (I still thank God every day for them), it was vital to realize God’s presence in my life and acknowledge the fact that none of this would come without Him. The fallen world that we live in calls for all of the importance to be placed on yourself and the life that you are living on the outside; while in actuality, God needs to be our priority so that our spiritual health on the inside can bear fruits that are easily seen in our outside lives. This is much easier said than done, and I still struggle with this issue daily; but it is vital to remain rooted in the fact that God alone provides true significance.”