In January we received an email that signed off like this:
“I have started reading Lust and the City. I’m happy to have the book with me. But one thing is that I want God to deliver me for this porn and masturbation problem. Please support me in prayers.”
My wife and I get many emails like those. During the month of February, she and I get invited to preach and teach in many campuses in Kenya about Love, Sex and relationships. It is usually the busiest month as far as our ministry is concerned. We usually have two major highlights during this month. Firstly, we get to tour the beautiful country. On the week leading to Valentine’s Day we had to deliver 13 different sermons! Those many sermons often mean new places to visit. Recently we were in Kitui county preaching at Kenyatta University Kitui Christian Union and later at South Eastern Kenya University (SEKU). SEKU is the biggest university in the country. The distance between the main gate and the school administration is 10KM! An indelible experience was teaching the Love, Sex and Relationships theme with K-Krew in Nairobi city. Night preaching in a cinema hall filled with hundreds of people in their early and mid twenties.
The second highlight is praying and crying with broken people who are worn out by sexual sin and wrong relationship moves, like the ones in the emails we receive. Last month, we were in touch with many college students who wanted out of porn addiction, masturbation, bisexuality and adultery. We also encountered a few who were sex addicts and amidst tears wanted out because of an irresponsible lifestyle that was hurting them. This is a highlight because we identify with the struggles of these people. Personally, I had my victories over porn and masturbation after gruelling nights of crying to God, struggling to stop and falling over and over again. This is also a highlight because we hear victorious stories. Yet despite the victorious stories, we can’t help but notice in many of the places we preach that we are fighting fires. We see a stronger need to foster foundations instead. Prevention is better than cure. One repetitive remark we often hear from people is “I wish someone told me these things when I was younger.” Another is, “I wish you and your wife had met me three months before now; things would be different.” You see, Beloved, fighting fires means you play now and pay later; fostering foundations means you pay now and play later. Either way you pay. The question is this, Beloved: do you want burned flesh from fighting fires or do you want strengthened muscles from fostering foundations?
On April 10th at CITAM Valley Road, my wife, Turi, and I will be hosting the 4th Volume of BOY MEETS GIRL. The theme is FOUNDATIONS. We are getting back to the basics because we realise that things don’t go wrong; they start wrong. If you have a good foundation in your faith, you can build without worrying. So today, we will look at a few basic lessons on foundations from one of Jesus’ teachings in the Gospel of Matthew.
Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV)
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Jesus gives an analogy of a life with a good foundation and one with a bad foundation. From a general view we can see some differences. There are two builders and two foundations. We can also note some similarities. There is one word and one storm. Let’s pair them up.
Two builders; One Word
Jesus outlines the lives of two people in verses 24 and 26. One is wise and one is foolish. The wise one is deemed so on account of hearing the words of Christ and doing them. 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. He succeeds. The foolish one is deemed so on account of hearing the words of Christ but not obeying them. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. He fails.
The foundation of a victorious Christian life is not in hearing the word of God but in obedience to the word of God. Both builders hear but only one DOES. We live in a time where professing believers think Christ, Paul and other Biblical characters inspired by the Holy Spirit were not really that serious when you read their words. The word of God has been relegated to an opinion among many. As a result, it has no authority in the life of a believer who is trying to be politically-correct. My wife and I have seen for a fact that young people who listen to the scriptures and do them, grow in their faith and topics such as “Can I date an unbeliever?” are a non-issue for them. They subscribe to the authority of the word because they know that God means what he says and he says what he means. But we’ve seen the converse too. Young people who listen to the word and have no inclination to obey it. It’s not the difficulty of the word that’s the problem, Beloved. The problem is how the word challenges sin. John 3:19 says that light has come to the world but men have rejected it because they have loved their sin. And when the conviction of the Holy Spirit is rejected, Beloved, no intellectual arguments can persuade you otherwise. People with weak foundations don’t want to be free from sin; they only want to sin freely. And the trouble with a desire to disobey God is that you cannot even be sure you are born-again in the first place. A strong foundation for a believer is based on obedience to the word of God. Any relationship for a believer with the opposite sex that ignores the instruction of the word is destined for a great crash.
Two foundations; One storm
I love this teaching on Jesus because of the storm. The first house experiences a storm. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. It withstands. The second house experiences the same storm. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”It gives in. I find it interesting that both houses face the same storm. The one with a sandy foundation of disobedience to God’s word inevitably falls. It shows that short cuts are wrong cuts. It’s not how fast you go, but how far you do. It’s not how high you rise but how anchored and deep are you? The house built on Jesus’ words, the right foundation, does not get special privileges and protection from storms because he/she obeyed Christ. The storm is not a respecter of foundations. Following Jesus does not mean you won’t experience storms. In a relationship you will face temptation just like those who ignore Christ. You will face anger and pain just like those in the world. Some believers think that a pain-free life is God’s reward for their faithfulness. That just isn’t true. Jesus promised us in John 16;33 that in this world we will have trouble. Look at the most faithful man that ever lived on earth- Jesus Christ. And just see how much pain he experienced despite his faithfulness. The storms will come, Beloved. Being a Christian doesn’t change what you deal with; it just changes how you deal with it. The storm will test what your foundation is really made of. You will experience hard beating and stress but you will stand if your foundation is right.
One of the greatest strides that a born-again person can make in their spiritual growth is handling personal pain by acting on what they know (God’s word) despite how they feel (emotion). By no means do I mean maturity is to deny the pain (as some may quickly misinterpret this). You are a mature person not because you don’t feel personal pain – but because you DO feel it, but the difference is how you respond to it. The pain of the storms brings negative emotions and often we act based on how we feel. However, the more you mature in your faith, God strengthens you to depend on what you know (his word) more than how you feel. Because what you know will keep you afloat when how you feel is drowning you. How you feel may be real but what you know is TRUE. And what you know is mastered by imbibing the word of God through scripture memory and meditation. The more you have God’s word hidden in your heart, the more you will see mature decisions and outcomes from the personal pains in your life. The feelings will not go away because you are saved. You will experience every raw inch of them but you will overcome because your foundation of God’s word can withstand any storm.
Love the foundation
Beloved, you cannot obey the word whole heartedly without loving the word. For the unbeliever, that means you must be born again. For the believer, that means you must tear down your idols. We can fail to benefit from God’s word in two ways: by misinformation and by lack of application. Whatever is taking the place of God in your life will deny you an opportunity to build on the right foundation.
Lastly, you cannot fix a foundation during a storm. The storms of life are not building grounds. They are battle grounds. And battle grounds test us. They don’t give us rest. Make a conscious decision today to be obedient to the scriptures. To be forewarned is to be fore-armed. The decision to live purely, disciplined and faithfully must be done now because when the storms come, decision time is over, Beloved. The storm is a tester of your decisions. So, Beloved, are your basics set? Will you live the rest of your life fighting fires or will you live the rest of your life enjoying the fostered foundations?