Article III, part 2

Truth or Dare (Article 3)

In part one, of Article III, we began looking at what can happen to us when we allow wanton, hedonistic pleasure to rule our lives. We learned, just as the fabled character Pinocchio did, that there are consequences to satisfying our ungodly pleasures. God, however, has provided a way for us to be free from such wrongful desires. All we need do is believe in the LORD, Jesus Christ, and live according to His plan. Pleasure 5 In this article, we will look into the various types of pleasure.

There are pleasures of the mind, which consist of:

Solving the unknown (appeasing ones curiosity)
Using a unique skill to its full potential
Nurturing someone or something, or being nurtured by someone or something
Being apart of a community (a.k.a.: sociality; finding companionship, etc.)

There are pleasures of the body, which include any stimulation of the five senses:

Sight
Smell
Sound
Taste
Touch

And, there are the pleasures of the soul, which incorporate the nine “fruit of the spirit,” found in Galatians chapter five, verses twenty-two and twenty-three:

Faithfulness
Gentleness
Goodness
Joy
Kindness
Love
Patience
Peace
Self-control

Our pleasures can be to our advantage, and promote a healthy lifestyle. It can also bring about disastrous consequences, when acted upon without discretion or outside of God’s boundaries.

One example of a healthy pleasure is proper sleep. A lack of sleep has been found to cause anxiety, depression, and weight gain. You see, our bodies use sleep to perform important routine maintenance at a cellular, and metabolic, level. Proper sleep boosts our body’s immune system, and our brain’s means to store, and recall, details from our memories. Approximately seven to nine hours of sleep, each night, is necessary. Too little or too much sleep and our health begins to decline.

A second example of a healthy pleasure is consuming foods that you enjoy, and that also have healthy benefits to them. Something like chocolate. Yes, chocolate. Did you know that chocolate contains powerful antioxidants? It seems that cacao, which is taken from the cocoa bean during the manufacturing process, has been shown to improve the flexibility of blood vessels. This flexing of the blood vessels help us reduce our risk of heart disease, and heart attack, but note: not all chocolate is going to be beneficial. You must choose only dark chocolate, and make certain that it contains a minimum of seventy-five percent cacao, and you must limit yourself to one or two squares a day.

A third example of a healthy pleasure, and one in which I will focus the remainder of this article on, is sex. Healthy, monogamous sex is probably the most incredible experience that humanity will encounter in a life time. When men and women, by way of the marriage relationship, participate in regular, monogamous sexual relations, they experience an amazing form of pleasure that appeals to their entire beings. Rarely can a pleasure, other than sexual pleasure, appeal to a person’s body, mind, and soul. Though human sexual relations primarily function as a means of procreation, God also carefully and concisely designed it to be a deeply satisfying form of pleasure.

Healthy, monogamous sex, between a married man and woman, is also a special kind of physical work out; a beautiful act of tandem exercise that can burn as much as eighty-five calories per coupling. Pleasure 4 This physical exercise is unlike any other, as it results in the intermingling (or combining) of two bodies into one, and it results in the release of “feel-good” endorphins through out the human brain. When these endorphins release, the couple becomes less likely to experience depression, individually, and they are less likely to experience dissatisfaction with their marriage relationship, due to their deeply intimate connection with their spouse. A healthy, monogamous sexual relationship, within the confines of marriage, will not solve all the problems that a couple will face in their lifelong alliance, but it does bind them in such a way as to help strengthen their resolve to work through these issues.

Another benefit for married couples who participate in healthy, monogamous sexual relations, at a minimum of once or twice a week, is that their immune responses are improved. According to the Oxford Journals, and other medical magazines, our sex hormones positively affect our immune response toward such illnesses as the common cold, flu, and other more serious infections. It’s a pretty interesting arrangement, isn’t it?

Our bodies actually produce higher levels of an antibody (a.k.a.: immunoglobulin, or IGA) that can thwart colds, and flus, where those very germs most often enter the body. Ironically, our bodies can use the very act that can transmit germs and disease (sexual intercourse) to help prevent such illnesses from manifesting. This ultimately allows men and women, who are married, the freedom to enjoy more intimacy. God wants us to enjoy our spouses, passionately. He designed us that way; it’s only when we abandon God’s design for human sexuality that sexual intercourse becomes painful, and dangerous.

Did you know that the number one way to get a sexually transmitted disease (a.k.a: STD) is by having sex with multiple partners? Sounds odd to have to say, but societies all around the globe live as though this were some type of myth, or fairy tale. In fact, ninety-five percent of U.S. citizens under the age of thirty are sexually active. Thirty-three percent of the men polled, and nine percent of the women, stated that they had more than ten sexual partners in their lifetime. It is also believed that one out of every four non-married, sexually active Americans, by the age of twenty-four, will have contracted an STD. Furthermore, about sixty-five million people in the U.S. are now living with an incurable STD — sixty-five million! Bottom line, STDs such as Bacterial Vaginosis, Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Gonorrhea, Human Papillomavirus, Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis, as well as other life-threatening conditions (ex.: prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and oral cancer), are more common among people who have sexual intercourse with more than one person in a lifetime.

Sexual relationships affect more that just our physical bodies, though. As stated earlier, they also affect our minds and souls. Many psychologists, and religious counselors, have found that having multiple sexual encounters with a variety of partners places men and women at a higher threat of making risky choices on a regular basis. This cycle of making dangerous choices can lead to a life filled with unhealthy and risky sexual experiences (a.k.a.: homosexuality, pornography, prostitution, and other perverse sex acts), multiple unsuccessful relationships, which can nurture a lower self-esteem, and even lead to manic depression. Again, when we abandon God’s design for human sexuality, sexual intercourse becomes painful, and dangerous.

King Solomon, known as the wisest ruler in the history of the world, wrote this concerning uncontrolled, physical pleasure:

I [King Solomon] thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly — my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well — the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2: 1-11)

To gain worldly pleasures, of any kind, will never bring about real contentment, or gratification. No amount of excessive laughter, drinking of alcohol, or reckless abandon will ever fully appease us. Completing some great project, for yourself, won’t satisfy; owning a successful business, or some huge ranch, or farm, won’t fulfill. Access to the world’s richest treasures can’t gratify, nor can the world’s greatest library of music. Not even multiple sexual encounters with the world’s most beautiful people can quench what you long for — No. True fulfillment only comes through experiencing pleasures, not as the world defines them, but as God has defined them.

Worldly pleasures look similar to many of the pleasures God provides us. They appeal to our minds and bodies, but what the world can’t gratify is our souls. Only God can supply that kind of gratification. Note Proverbs chapter ten, verse twenty-three:

A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.

You see, when we seek to please ourselves, and ignore God’s plan for us to be rightly satisfied, we become nothing more than ignorant jerks. Dumb as a wooden stump with no true happiness to be found. This is what King Solomon was trying to say. Though he sought after foolishness, God allowed Solomon to remain wise enough to know it was indeed foolishness. Though he looked to gratify his own selfish desires, God allowed Solomon to remain wise enough to know that self-gratification always comes with a consequence and those consequences can never be avoided. Sexual pleasure, that is intended to please one’s self, will never really satisfy. Sexual intimacy requires two people, one male and one female, for a reason. That reason is for the man to gratify the woman, under the blessing of marriage, and for the woman to please the man. This is as our Creator intended.

I’m reminded of an interview from 1975. In this interview, Phyllis George, from the old CBS NFL Today show, asked Roger Staubach — then the starting quarterback for the American football team Dallas Cowboys — to reveal what he felt about his image as an “All American, straight guy” (he was very well known as a “clean-cut,” family man). Roger’s image was in stark contrast to another very popular American football quarterback, named Joe Namath. Joe, who also had been recently interviewed by Phyllis George, had become just as famous for his playboy lifestyle as he had become for his ability to quarterback the New York Jets. Roger Staubach responded by saying:

Roger Staubach You interviewed Joe Namath — everyone in the world compares me to Joe Namath. You know, as — you know, the idea that off the field he’s single, bachelor, “swinging.” I’m married, and family, and — you know, he’s having all the fun, [a smile crosses Roger’s face] and — I enjoy sex as much as Joe Namath [Phyllis begins to laugh], only I do it with one girl. You know, I mean it’s still fun.

A monogamous relationship is not a life sentenced to lamentation and sorrow; not at all. Sexual intimacy, as God intended, is free of disease, despair, danger, and worry; it’s both exciting and healthy.

True pleasure — the kind that really brings joy to a person’s whole being — can only exists when we experience it God’s way. And if we will, then we can also bring pleasure to our Creator, and others. You see, genuine pleasure is not about self-gratification at all, but about gratifying God and the other people in our lives. Let’s all strive to drink from the cup of Christ, and let’s all live merrier lives.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article VI, part 2


Our last post began the construction of our fourth and final wall, as we returned to what is truly at the heart of our worship — God.

We also reviewed the three main attributes of God (faithfulness, hope, and love) and revealed that an obedient heart [spirit] was a very key ingredient to becoming a true worshiper.

Finally, we began to look at twelve ways in which we can begin to develop the discipline of being obedient to God, the Father, in our daily worship. The first being the reading and studying of Scripture. Being obedient to read and study Scripture is essential to our heart’s growth and well-being.

Prayer is the second way we can learn the discipline of obedience. Romans 12:12 admonishes us to be “faithful [consistent] in our prayer.” Philippians 4:6-7 teaches that if we desire peace in our hearts then we should pray to God and petition Him regarding the things that weigh heavily on our spirits. Paul told us to devote ourselves to prayer, in Colossians 4:2-5, and not just for ourselves but for our fellow believers. Why? So that the message of Christ can be proclaimed clearly for all to hear and believe.

Prayer takes us right into God’s presence. It’s how we not only communicate to God our wants, needs and desires, but also it becomes an offering of worship to God (Psalm 141:2; Proverbs 15:8). Being obedient to pray regularly keeps our hearts connected to God Almighty.

Our third way to begin developing obedience to God in our daily worship is in the playing and singing of songs. Remember in Article 5 we mentioned that creation was created to declare God’s glory and mankind is the instrument that God chose to hear His glory declared. Whether we think we can sing or play an instrument, or not, isn’t the point. The point is that God desires our hearts to be filled with His joy and praise, and He also desires for that joy and praise to be voiced back to Him.

One of my favorite TV shows is an old comedy from the 1960s entitled F-Troop, which starred Forrest Tucker, Larry Storch, Melody Patterson, and Ken Berry. In this sitcom, we get to experience the colorful mishaps of the various men assigned to serve the United States Cavalry at Fort Courage. Leading this group of rag-tag horse soldiers is Captain Wilton Parmenter (Ken Berry), and serving his captain as both orderly and company bugler is the no-talent Private First Class Hannibal Shirley Dobbs, played by James Hampton. No matter how hard PFC Dobbs tried, he could never make his bugle sing the various military songs required of it. But somehow, every time, the men managed to know what it was they were being summoned to do, and every time, no matter how horribly the bugler played, Captain Parmenter would always receive the last note with an honest-to-goodness, heart-felt word of encouragement. PFC Dobbs would beam at times, believing he had given his all to a gracious commander. That is what it’s like when God’s people sing or play their praises to the Almighty. Our best is never really all that good, but God loves our music just the same. In fact, God usually requests an encore!

You see, nothing exposes what is in the heart more clearly than music. Music gives voice to our laments and our praises. With one stroke of a chord we can know immediately if the heart is happy or sad. The Bible is filled with examples of this, but one book stands firmly out in front as the official songbook of Scripture. That book — Psalms!

Look through these verses from the book of Psalms for a few examples of how we can bring honor and praise to God through being obedient to the playing and the singing of songs: Psalms 33:3, 59:16-17, 71:22-23, 81:1-2, 95:1-2, and 98:4-6.

Family is the fourth way we can learn the discipline of obedience. Western civilization has long forgotten, it seems, the importance of family and the impact it can have on our future generations. We rarely see fathers, or even grandfathers, mentoring their sons in godly masculinity. We hardly see the tender care and godly teachings of life being presented from mother to daughter. Why? Parents have rejected their responsibilities to teach God’s Word, mentor a godly lifestyle, and discipline their children based on God’s statutes (laws). Parents have given up this right to the local church, area state child-care facility, or local government/private school. How sad. How irresponsible! If we are going to be obedient to God’s call on our lives to be true worshipers of the Almighty, then we (the parents) have to take back the home and begin again to teach our children to love, trust, and fear (respect) God.

Joshua understood this, as did many of the patriarchs of the Bible. Let’s revisit Joshua 24:15, mentioned in Article 3, which says, “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” The psalmist understood this: “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Psalm 34:11). King Solomon, possibly the wisest man to have ever lived, said in Proverbs chapter 22, verse 6: “Train [teach/mentor] a child in the way he [or she] should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” The wise king also had this to add, concerning discipline, in verse 15 of that same chapter, “Folly is bound up in the heart [core/spirit] of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away from him [or her].”

This parent/child relationship is taken even further in Ephesians 6:1-4, where the apostle Paul admonished children to obey their parents “in the Lord” (meaning, according to God’s ordained plan and statutes). Paul took it further and stated that if we, as children, “honor” our parents, then God will grace us with a long, well blessed life. Does this mean we will be rich? No! Again, just as we discussed in Article 5, we are more spiritual than physical. God made us in the image of His Spirit, therefore we must think in these terms where blessings are concerned. And we can’t overlook verse 4, which reminds parents (fathers in particular, as we are generally less patient and kind) that we cannot “exasperate” (meaning, bully or infuriate) our children. We must parent and discipline our children according to God’s Word and by applying His attributes; just like I’ve instructed throughout this study regarding our worship.

Lastly, with regard to relationships in the home, there is more than just the parent/child relationship; there is husband and wife. This relationship is without a doubt the most important of all human relationships, as it’s this special devotion between a man and a woman that gives sinful humanity a physical glimpse at the spiritual — a living, breathing picture of the relationship God intended for mankind to have with Him. That’s how special the marital relationship is. This is why marriage vows should be taken so very seriously. We can’t jump in and out of marital relationships any more than we can be wishy-washy with our spiritual devotion to God.

The apostle Paul explained this when he penned Ephesians 5:22-33. In these eleven verses, Paul taught that women should submit to their husbands “as to the Lord” and that men should love their wives “just as Christ loved the church.” This shows us that when women live out the special role of submission (remember Article 4: serving/acting out of love and respect) to their husbands, then mankind can learn how to submit to God. Men, Paul’s words are teaching us that when we love our wives correctly, then humanity can see how much God really does love mankind. Serving and submitting to one another is not a shameful practice — it’s a godly act of worship.

This also applies to the “marriage bed.” In 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, Paul wrote:

“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise . . . the wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband . . . Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self control.”

Sexual intimacy between a man and a woman, inside the marital vows, is a strengthening, bonding act, and meant to grow the devotion between them as well as protect the relationship from Satan’s attacks. Physical intimacy between the husband and the wife is more than procreating — it’s a weld that binds two weak, vulnerable human spirits into one strong, unbreakable life of godly worship. As the psalmist said in Psalm 128, verses 1-4, regarding a man and his family: “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways . . . blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man [family] blessed who fears the Lord.”

Our next post on the subject of returning to the heart of worship will begin with the fifth way we can learn obedience to God, as we continue in the construction of our fourth and final wall on our temple of worship.

The Joshua Project by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

F-Troop Copyright © 2006 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Copyright © 1965 Warner Bros. Television. All rights reserved.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.