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 I

Contemporary Christian music (a.k.a. CCM), which stems from the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s, has introduced many talented performers/singers over its 40+ year history. And like any of the other industry genres, there are only a few artists whose music has stood the test of time. Carman is one of those artists. Though he’s now primarily seen and heard on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (a.k.a. TBN), Carman’s music is still known for its varied styles and strong Gospel message.

When he was touring, Carman (full name: Carman Domenic Licciardello) was a charismatic sight to behold. His concerts were incredible experiences; more like a rock-n-roll, Billy Graham Crusade than a church event. After each concert, hundreds of people would work their way down to the counseling area to accept Christ; often as many as 5,000 in an evening. Amazingly, admission to a Carman concert was usually free and an offering generally was taken.

Carman could fill the largest of stadiums, too, and did. In fact, Carman holds the record for the largest Christian music concert ever. It took place in Dallas, Texas, at the famed Texas Stadium (former home of the Dallas Cowboys). But more than that, if you take the mega stadium acts that played the famed landmark (Pink Floyd, U2, Madonna, The Jackson Five, Paul McCartney, Garth Brooks, Metallica, et al.) you’ll see that, as the newspapers noted, the one act that drew the highest attendance in Texas Stadium’s history was Carman, with 71,132 in attendance.

Carman’s ability to cover any style of music, from Gospel/R&B to Rock-a-Billy, from ballads to Hip-Hop, made him appealing to all walks-of-life. The name “Carman” assured listeners that his albums would take its listeners on a journey that wasn’t just an all-American cultural trip through popular musical styles, but was also a deep walk into all things theological. Take the song Yahweh, as an example. It’s from Carman’s 1983 album Sunday’s On The Way:

Verse 1:
Call thy walls salvation,
Call thy gates praised.
There’ll be no moon to light the nights,
No sun to light the days.
For God shall be thy glory,
An everlasting light.
The Lord shall reign forever,
In power and in might.

Chorus:
His name is Yahweh.
The Lord is one. (repeat)
Alpha and Omega,
Beginning and The End.
The Word, Who reigns forever.
Yahweh. Redeemer. Friend.

Verse 2:
His people shall be righteous,
They shall possess this land.
The branches of His plantings,
And the works of His hands.
For from a small beginning,
A mighty nation grows.
And in the fullness of His time,
The whole wide world will know (repeat chorus).

There, in simple melody, is a lyric so full of the truth of who our Creator is — Yahweh! Hear this song and you’ll have these words embedded in your mind. Meditate on them and you’ll grow in this lyric’s basic truth; Yahweh, is everything humanity needs and so much more. Let’s look deeper into the meaning of the name “Yahweh,” one of the three primary names of God (Elohim/Deity).

First, before we can understand the names of God, we must understand the nature of Hebrew names. Hebrew names are not meant to be just formal titles used to identify one person from another, as they are in our western culture. No, they are actually sentences within themselves. It’s very similar, in fact, to how Native-Americans named their children. You know, names like “Crazy Horse,” “Sitting Bull,” “Black Hawk,” etc. which weren’t exactly complete sentences, like the Hebrew names were, but descriptions of the individual’s perceived character traits. Our Creator’s name, Yahweh, is a full sentence and it’s the shortest sentence in any language. So, what is this short sentence? What does the name “Yahweh” mean, in English? The answer is, stated simply — “I AM.”

Let’s look back into the Old Testament book of Exodus when the Almighty first declared His name to be Yahweh — I AM. In Exodus chapter 3, Moses is seen on the mountain of God talking to the angel of the Lord, who is speaking from a bush that appears to be burning, but it’s not being consumed. It’s here that God tells Moses that He has chosen him to return to Egypt and command Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free. To which Moses immediately begins his argument with God that he can’t go for various reasons, one of which is Moses doesn’t know God’s name. We pick up in verse 13-14:

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His Name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I AM Who I AM [Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh]. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM [Yahweh] has sent me to you.’”

Many scholars believe that Yahweh, actually spelled YHWH in the Hebrew language, is the third person singular form of the ancient Hebrew verb “haya,” which means in English “to be.” The basic driving force of this verb describes a state of existence. As the third person form of haya, the name “Yahweh” literally means “He [God] is,” or “He [Elohim] exists.” It’s a description of who God Almighty, is. He is “The Self-Existing One.” Ponder that thought for a moment (selah/pause). He is “The Self-Existing One.” How’s that for a name!? God is “The Self-Existing One.” It blows the mind a bit, doesn’t it? God reveals to us in His name, the name “Yahweh,” that He always has been and always will be. God (Elohim/Deity) was not created or birthed, but exists. Allow me to reiterate this truth — God (Elohim) has always existed, and will always exist. Truly awesome!

Every name of God revealed to the Hebrews, as you will see throughout this study, was to reveal some portion of Himself and His nature to mankind. And in doing so, our Lord, Yahweh, calls us to be in awe of Him, of Who He is — to worship Him.

If you will recall from our study on worship, known as The Joshua Project, we learned that God has laid out a formula for calling His own into worshiping Him. The formula is simply this: if we will come to know the attributes of God, and also acknowledge those attributes in our lives, then God will produce the actions in us that equal true worship.

(Knowing the attributes of God + acknowledging and applying the attributes of God in us = true worship)

The same becomes true of knowing and understanding the meaning of God’s various other names. God (Elohim) is the Lord, Yahweh — “I AM.” The Self-Existing One. This name of God describes who He is, and discovering who the Almighty is will call us — even move us — to worship Him!

(Knowing God’s names + learning and understanding the meanings of God’s names = true worship)

When God revealed His name to mankind, it was not merely so we could know what to call Him (i.e. give Him a formal title), but it was to reveal to us all something about Himself, His nature, and His attributes and thus call His creation to worship Him, The Self-Existing One.

Once more, everybody — selah!

His Name Is . . . 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 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.

Yahweh lyrics by Gloria Gaither and music written by Carman. Copyright © 1983 CBS Inc.

If you want to use these lyrics, please contact the authors, artists or labs.

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.