This week OUR is excited to have Pastor Lou Rodriguez share his thought about being wise online. Just as much as technology is a tool and the internet can be used for good it can also be a place to easily slip into a dark path. Pastor Lou has been a great friend and mentor as well as a guiding resource to OUR as we have come from concept to where we are today.
- Written by Pastor Lou Rodriguez:
One day in the 3rd or 4th year as a lead Pastor, I was in my office, preparing for the Sunday service. Behind me were many beautifully finished shelves full of Bible commentaries, Bible helps, devotionals and books of sermon illustrations. On that day it dawned on me that even though I treasured the books on my shelves, I was using them less and less. It wasn’t from lack of diligence, just the opposite! I was putting study time in every week, but all the material I needed was online. At the same time, I found myself regularly using my iPhone to post info to our church family, check social media, and countless other uses. The bottom line, like countless other Pastors, I was using the internet A LOT.
While the internet is a valuable tool for ministry, it can also be a place of temptation, and it can destroy one’s ministry. The statistics are sobering: According to one source, among other sobering statistics, 68% of church-going men and over 50% of pastors view porn on a regular basis.1 In short: The battle for sexual purity is real; the casualties are mounting, and the stakes are high! Men and women of God need to put safeguards around themselves to protect themselves and their ministries.
As Craig Groesgel puts it: “Knowing that I am a warrior with a mission from my God, I want to acknowledge that my enemy will try to stop me and disengage me from the battle. So I'm going to put some safeguards in my life
as a part of my battle plan, so I will not be as vulnerable to the attack to the enemy…I know that I could be potentially vulnerable to look at things online that I shouldn't look at, So my devices are locked down to the best of my ability… and on my computer, everything is tracked. So, I've put up safeguards and you're like, "Pastor Craig, are you like "that weak and that vulnerable?"
And the answer is no, not normally, not most of the time, but you never know. Six months from now, when I'm in a bad place emotionally or mentally or spiritually, I'm traveling somewhere and it's late at night you never know.
So, why in the world would I resist the temptation in the future that I have the power to eliminate today?”2
He’s right! To effectively battle sexual temptations today, may I suggest the following thoughts:
Remember Your Calling!
I remember our first call to a church ministry. It was in the Summer of 1993, we received a phone call from a church confirming that they indeed wanted us to join their staff. My wife and I went to a quiet place to discuss our next steps. When we started the vehicle, to our surprise and thrill, the stereo immediately went to the song “For the Sake of the Call” by Stephen Curtis Chapman. Chills went down our spine as we considered what God was doing in our lives. It’s easy to forget the sacred call God has on your life and find yourself, like David, remaining in Jerusalem during battle. Challenges, weariness and disappointments can distract us and it isn’t long that we find ourselves looking over the roof, putting our sacred calling at risk. Remember your calling!
Remember Your Passion!
All of us know what it’s like to immerse ourselves in Spiritual Disciplines: intense personal prayer, intimate worship, rich Bible study for the purpose of our own enrichment. We are taken to a place that we don’t want to leave: the presence of our Abba Father! But if we aren’t careful, our passion can slowly erode, we tire, we get distracted, we become complacent, and we find ourselves in a place where we have “forgotten our first love” and we are suddenly vulnerable to temptation. Remember your passion!
Remember Your Family!
This is a life changing truth: The Christian life was not meant to be lived alone. As believers we are redeemed to be in community! As a young man I met with a seasoned believer because I was frustrated by the lack of growth in my life. I asked him if I could meet with him regularly for accountability and I still recall his answer to my request: “Why would you need that? Nobody checked on me!”. I left the meeting feeling there was something wrong with me; “Why can’t I do this on my own?” Time has taught me that this gentleman, though sincere, was in error. We are called to “Encourage and build up one another” 1 Th 5:11. Surely this includes the area of sexual purity among men and women of God!
We can meet regularly with an accountability partner or group, praying for each other, holding each other accountable, allowing a brother to track our websites, in other words “spurring each other onto good works” Hebrews 10:24. Remember your Family!
What a blessing to be able to stand before the Lord and in front of your congregation with a clear conscience in the area of sexual purity.