Tag Archive | Jesus

Book review and report of “Surfing for God” by Michael John Cusick

Book review and report of “Surfing for God” by Michael John Cusick

                “Surfing for God” is really amazing book of it kind which tries to find out what it means to be addicted, what are the factors behind a person getting addicted and how to come out of it. One amazing thing I notice in this book is it addresses the issue why many people take decision and why they are not able to overcome it in reality. Also it addresses why porn is so attractive to people. The personal experience of the author adds credibility to the subject dealt with. Also the way he connects story and personal instances with the subject makes the book interesting.

The author starts the book with an exciting quote from Bonhoffer, “The pursuit of purity is not about the suppression of lust, but about the reorientation of one’s life to a larger goal”. In the introduction chapter “What’s better than porn?” he talks how porn is using the deception, the hiddenness, and the damage to our souls. He also says two important statements people talk about porn like “I am tired of how little porn delivers” and “I am tired of the never-ending battle over lust.” Having said this he offers as to how Gospel has the power to free a person from porn. He also promises that one will find knowledge and understanding to help you identify the real issues contributing to sexual struggles so you can offer grace, hope, and guidance. The author puts the book in the plot of a rabbi and his young disciple.

In the first chapter “Getting your feathers back”, He expresses how the efforts of many people which come from deep and meaningful commitments of genuine surrender—only to return to masturbation and porn. He calls this a bipolar struggle. He also says that “identifying this struggle and acknowledging our failure to manage it gives us the hopeful building blocks of a growing belief and true maturity”. Another point he makes vehemently is that porn allures us with the image or fantasy of being with a woman, while preventing us from being able to actually engage with a real woman. Porn keeps us from flying the jet, getting in the game, or sailing the high seas. He says God designed one to be a hero— to focus your strength and courage on behalf of something and someone bigger than yourself. He says we are created to do something bigger and not to live a life of shame.

In the second chapter “it’s not about sex” he brings out the point your struggles with lust and porn are not actually about sex. The way you are sexually aroused reflects what’s happening deep in your soul, beyond your sexual organs. The point that lures many is that the reality is that your heart needs something, and porn promises to meet that need. He says From my experiences, research, and observations, porn promises fulfilment of five key desires, all without responsibility like: validation of our manhood without requiring strength, sexual fulfilment without relationship, intimacy without requiring risk and suffering, pass ion and life without connection to your soul, promises comfort and care without depending on others and power over women without responsibility and humility.

In the third chapter “Insatiable Thirst” he deals with lust. Quoting scriptures he puts how Desire and thirst are central to Christianity. Every sinful behaviour is rooted in a legitimate God-given appetite. So he first asks the readers to identify and write out fifty deep thirsts or longings in their hearts. He also offers a list which offers a straightforward way for you to begin to put words to what lies below the surface of your life. All the core thirsts are God-given appetites and longings. Once one has identified ones deepest desires, he can begin understanding why pornography is so alluring. One can see beyond the easy rationale of your body’s libido to the underlying longings of your soul. But the problem is Lust Is the Outcome of Disordered Desire. Disordered desire results from desires that are disowned, demanded, or misplaced. Disowned desire usually results from shame or pain. Demanded desire is the opposite of disowned desire because we demand relief from the pain of unmet thirst. When we misplace our desires, we direct our hearts toward something that takes the place of God’s good gifts. He warns that sexual desires expressed outside of God’s boundaries and design  causes damage and destruction.

In the next chapter “Gathering the Broken Pieces” he shows how we are broken men who must live from our brokenness. Our behavior is just the tip of the iceberg. Connecting these deep passions and purposes below the waterline to the behaviors, struggles, and issues above the waterline helps us recognize the cause of our confusing behavior. Understanding ourselves at this level is not about the “what” of our sin (I can’t stop looking at porn), but the “why” (porn promises to meet some need in me). The whys that explain our addictions can be categorized into four interwoven, underlying dimensions: wickedness, weaknesses, woundedness, and warfare. Our brokenness begins with our wickedness, accentuates our weakness, encompasses our woundedness and attracts the enemy’s warfare. The greatest barrier to the life of freedom that God desires for us is not our brokenness. It is brokenness unsurrendered.

In the fifth chapter “Exposing the Counterfeits” he explains about the counterfeit. Quoting Jesus tempted by Satan he exposes three counterfeits: COUNTERFEIT GOOD, COUNTERFEIT TRUTH and COUNTERFEIT WORSHIP. Then he says how Compulsive sexual sin, porn, and lust operate like our own little Disneyland—our Magic Kingdom—where we can escape our momentary struggles, pains, or boredom. What we see is the progression of compulsion. It starts when we turn away from God as our source of life and turn other things into idols that we’re convinced will satisfy our desires. We worship and serve “created things rather than the Creator”— that’s counterfeit worship. What we see is the progression of compulsion. It starts when we turn away from God as our source of life and turn other things into idols that we’re convinced will satisfy our desires. We worship and serve “created things rather than the Creator”— that’s counterfeit worship. it is never too late to exchange the false intimacy of images and illicit encounters for authentic relationships and God’s gifts. A living encounter with God is the destination. But first, we need to explore the obstacles that stand in the way of such an encounter.

“Shame and Core Beliefs” is the sixth chapter where he explains to us the ways of shame and overcoming it. In this chapter he categorically draws a difference between shame and guilt. “Guilt is the conviction we feel when we have violated some standard, when we have done wrong”. “Shame is a feeling (which quickly becomes a belief) that we are defective, flawed, bad, or worthless”. He goes on to bring out how sin initially brought shame. Whereas erstwhile they could be naked and unashamed before each other. God doesn’t shame us but hiding the brokenness brings us shame. With that he goes on to take the reader examine his core believes which make him to be ashamed like: “I Am Basically a Bad/Unworthy Person, Nobody Would Love Me as I Am, I Can’t Get My Needs Met by Depending on Others, and Sex Is My Most Important Need”. He then gives tips on overcoming the shame by following tips: By Pulling Back the Curtain and seeing us as we really are, “we overcome our shame by identifying the core beliefs and convictions that contradict God’s truth about who we are”, by “learning to practice true humility” (At the core of humility is trust—trusting God, and trusting others with who you are.)

In the seventh chapter “The Soul Snare path” where he explains why we actually take up the things that we renounced at a point of time. Then he explains what he calls as soul snare cycle where he talks about four elements in the cycle naming: soul brokenness—wickedness, woundedness, weakness, and warfare. This will lead to soul preoccupation a stage where passion works toward the pursuit of sexual gratification. Next stage is what he calls as soul snare where desire is put into action. The soul snare cycle then leads us to the soul shame stage. Here he gives a clear explanation as to how our brokenness fuels fire for this soul snare. Then he helps the reader to understand what triggers porn. “Internal triggers include feelings and thoughts. Emotions such as disappointment, loneliness, rejection, anxiety, anger, and boredom are common triggers. Physical feelings, including fatigue, headaches, hunger, or chronic pain, can also serve as internal triggers”. Before ending this chapter he makes aimportant point as to how shame fuels brokenness.

In the next chapter “Your Good heart” he talks about the role of Gospel in making a new heart for a man. Here he explains how our hearts “are bent in a direction away from God”. With the he explains the need for a heart transplant which can be done by the Gospel. He explains how “God has worked in such a way that our hearts that were bent away from God (before Christ) are now bent toward God because of Christ”. This new heart gives us true identity and true core belief as against the older core belief that leads us to shame.

The chapter with the title “The invisible battle” explains the spiritual war. Here he explains as to how satan makes sexuality as one of the targets in this war. Then he explain how he uses idols (an Omega watch or images of naked women, etc) gives satan opportunity in to enter in war after which he uses two important strategies to further deepen our bondage: footholds and strongholds. Then he gives the tips to break footholds and strongholds like: “announce the lie you have befriended”, “renounce the lie” and finally “pronounce the truth”.

The next chapter “Your brain on porn” is crucial as it brings it to us how brain is one’s most important sex organ. Then he goes on to prove how porn over stimulates our brain which causes brain to change and rewires the brain. Then he gives tips on rebooting our brain. The first step of rebooting as he mentions is defining objective. The objective describes the person he really want to become. Then he talks about 90 days of abstinence. Next step is being careful about cravings and being ready for relapse. He also gives more tips to rewire brain like: “Practice Intentional Thinking”, “Pursue Alternate Passions”, “Employ the Power of Repetition”

In the 11th chapter “Less is more” he deals with inner struggle. Here he tries to help us understand how the porn addict should try to transform his emptiness to listening to God’s voice in solitude. The next chapter “The Soul Care Highway” he deals with dealing with soul snare cycle. Here gives a counter cycle: soul brokenness, soul attentiveness, soul care and soul transformation. Here he gives practical suggestion like “Making the Connection Between Brokenness and Porn”, “Stalk Your Triggers”, “Interrogate Your Cravings” and finding out genuine thirst, “Surf Your Urges” and directing the focus to on one specific area where you are experiencing the urge and carrying tension. Then he asks the reader to ponder on the following questions and help one understand ones’ genuine need: What does my soul really need right now? What Does the Physical “You” Need? What Does the Relational “You” Need? What Does the Emotional “You” Need? What Does the Spiritual “You” Need?. The 13th chapter “Freedom to Live” explains various aspects of being free and focusing on God to have true freedom. The next  “Going under the knife” he talks about circumcision of heart. In the concluding chapter “Becoming the Hero that you are” the author reiterates the need for a fresh vision for life encourages the readers to completely kill the porn that controls a person.

The book is an awesome book of its kind where it analyzes various aspects of addiction including circumstances, emotion, physical and spiritual aspects. The way the author brings the pint with a proper blend of Spiritual insights from Word of God and psycho analytic details. The way the author deals with the topic with lot of real life incident gives credibility the details presented. The way it is presented in the backdrop of lot of allegories and illustrations makes the work interesting to read. In short this book is an awesome book which will definitely help the porn addict to come out of it.

Few important links regarding the book:

Amazon books: http://www.amazon.com/Surfing-God-Discovering-Beneath-Struggle/dp/0849947235

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Is Good Friday Really Good?

IS GOOD FRIDAY REALLY GOOD?

Jesus, on the cross, is mocked in Calvary as t...

 Good Friday is one of the festivals usually Christians celebrate (I personally feel all the nations should celebrate as Jesus is not alone Christian’s or Westerner’s God) where they commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Bible (The book which is the word of God for people of all nation, race and religion) claims Jesus to be God. Logically thinking Good Friday should be a called as ‘Bad Friday’ because it superficially appears to the commemoration of the death of God Himself; moreover it seems to be the victory of evil over good. Let us discuss if Good Friday is really good. If yes, why and if no, why?

For me, Good Friday is good in general. While talking from individual point of view whether Good Friday is good or bad depends on the individual.

To understand Good Friday we have to examine Bible which gives account of the events took place in Good Friday, the need for a Good Friday and how can Good Friday really become good to an individual.

 The need for Good Friday:

 We live in a world where topics like corruption, violence and so on is very frequently talked about. We can see malpractice in each and every institutions. The saddest part happening in our nation is the presence of of corrupt activities within a movement that fights against corruption. This is an illustration from recent times which brings out the point “something is wrong in the world”. To speak in the language of John Milton we live in “Paradise Lost” condition.

Well what is basically wrong? Individual or system? I think individual is basically wrong. Systems are made by individuals. Every person in this world will definitely want to do what is right but falls to a predicament to err. He lacks strength to do what is right. He falls to the pull to err. Corruption, violence and all manifest of evil is the result of that pull that originates from man. Bible calls this as sin. Primarily not the action but our inclination to do what is wrong. I believe God the creator of this universe has something in store to rescue this world from “Paradise Lost” situation. It is Good Friday.

 The Hero of the Good Friday:

Just now we discussed how we live in a fallen world and God wants to rescue this fallen world. But His righteous nature will not permit Him to do this without a punishment. If an animal, bird or so receives the punishment on man’s behalf it will not appease God’s anger (as animals are considered lower to human beings). The righteous requirement of God needs an innocent individual to bear the punishment. In God’s law the punishment for evil deeds is death (a separation from God). No man born of natural birth can fulfill this condition. So Jesus – God Himself- has to come to this earth to bear the punishment so that mankind can be saved.

Jesus had a virgin birth through God’s creative Spirit. This implies a sinless majestic God identifying with sinful man. He was tried in different courts yet was proven innocent. But His crucifixion was a willing act to redeem the sinful world eventually coupled with false accusation of Jewish religious leaders.

 The event of Good Friday:

 What follows is the sequence of events that preceded and happened on the first Good Friday. All these happened in 30 AD. On Thursday April 6, 30 AD, Jesus feels deep agony in the Garden of Gethsemane as He was about to carry the sin of the whole world. He spends time in prayer (John 18:1, Luke 22:40-44, Matt 26:40-46). Then on Friday (the first Good Friday) April 7, 30 AD Jesus was Betrayed by Judas – one of his disciples- and was arrested by the army. (John 18:2-9, Luke 22:47-48). All the disciples left Jesus and fled (Mark 14:50). After the arrest Jesus had to face 6 trails

Jesus’ 6-Trails Before the Jewish and Roman Authorities

Trial 1: Jesus is bound and first led to Annas, the father-in-law to High Priest Caiaphas. Jesus is struck by officer for his answer. John 18:12-14, 19-23, John 18:24

Trial 2: The late night session at Caiaphas’ house before the Sanhedrin. False witnesses testify against Jesus. Jesus remains silent to false charges. Caiaphas tears his robe and charges Jesus with blasphemy. Jesus is spit on and hit in the face. Matt 26:57-68

Trial 3: Early morning ratification of the sentence by the counsel. Jesus is bound and led away. Matt 27:1

Trial 4:Jesus faces the first trial before Pilate, the governor. The counsel avoid Pilate’s question. Pilate tells the counsel to judge Jesus by their own laws. Pilate questions Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” and Jesus answers Pilate. Pilate asks Jesus, “What is truth?”. Finally Pilate returns Jesus to the counsel, finding no fault in Him. Mark 15:3-5 John 18:28-38

Trial 5: Since Jesus is Galilean, Pilate refers Him to Herod’s jurisdiction. Herod hopes to be amused by Jesus with a miracle, and questions him at length. Jesus says and does nothing. Herod mocks Jesus and puts Him in a robe. Herod finds the entire matter a joke and returns Jesus to Pilate. Luke 23:4-12

Trial 6: Pilate calls the counsel together to tell them he and Herod have found no fault in Jesus. Pilate offers to punish and then release Jesus. It was customary to release a victim at this season. Pilate tries to release Jesus instead of Barabbas. Pilate’s wife wants Pilate to have nothing to do with Jesus. Pilate presents a beaten Jesus to the crowd, hoping they will find sympathy, and have Him released. The riotous crowd cries for the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus. Pilate washes his hands of Jesus. Jesus is stripped, beaten, flogged, crowned with a crown of thorns, mocked, spit on, and hit repeatedly in the head and face..Luke 23:13-23, Matt 27:17-30 , John 19:4-16

 The Crucifixion

  • The soldiers take Jesus away, strip Him, scourge Him, place a crown of thorns on His head, give Him a reed scepter, and worship Him in mockery.

  • They spit on Jesus, and hit Him in the head with the reed scepter.

  • Jesus, not having said one word, is dressed again, and led away. (Matt 27:27-31)

  • Jesus is made to carry the 75-125 lb. Cross beam which His wrists will son be nailed to.

  • Weakened from the severe beating, Jesus can not carry His cross any further, so Simon of Cyrene is made to carry it for Him. (Luke 23:26-32)

  • Having arrived at Golgotha (The Place of the Skull), Jesus is nailed to His cross, along with two robbers, one on each side of Him.

  • Jesus is offered wine mixed with gall, but He refuses to drink it. (Matt 27:33-38)

Jesus’ seven Phrases on the Cross:

While hanging on the cross Jesus uttered 7 phrases of great significance.

1st Phrase: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” John 19:23-25a

Jesus told this as a response to all acts done by Jesus and Romans and spoke to the Jewish people and the Roman soldiers. This shows the unconditional love of Jesus who pleads in our behalf in spite how people act to Him.

2nd Phrase – “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:35-43)

When Jesus was crucified in the cross two robbers were also crucified along with him. One robber says, “Are not you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” and the other robber rebukes him and asks, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise”. This brings to us the fact that even though Jesus accepts us as we are it is our duty to acknowledge Him as God.

3rd Phrase – Jesus says to Mary, “Woman, behold, your son!”; and to John, “Behold, your mother!” John 19:26-27

This talks about His complete human nature and fulfilling His responsibility as a son.

4th Phrase – “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matt 27:47

As He was hanging on th cross darkness covers the land from noon until 3:00 PM. At 3:00 PM, Jesus cried out “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?. Jesus expresses the agony of separation from the Father as the full weight of human sin presses upon Him.

5th Phrase – “I am thirsty.” Matt 27:49, John 19:28-29

This is the symbolic expression which means He longs for the whole world to accept Him as God and get their lives changed. After this Jesus was given a drink of sour wine from a sponge.

6th Phrase – “It is finished. spoken to fulfill scripture” John 19:30

This shows the fact that He completed the purpose for which He has come. In other words, He has borne the punishment of all the mankind.

7th Phrase – “Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit!” Luke 23:46

This shows His completion of His mission in earth and is going to His original state of complete Godhead.

Events after Crucifixion:

  • The veil of the temple is torn in two from top to bottom (by God), the earth quakes, and the rocks are split.

  • The tombs open and the saints are raised and appear to many.

  • The crowd is afraid, and the centurion says, “Truly this was the Son of God.”

  • Many of the women who came up with Jesus from Galilee were watching from afar. Matt 27:51-56

  • Jews asked Pilate to speed up death by breaking the leg’s of Jesus and the two robbers, so they might not remain on the cross into the Passover.

  • The two robbers leg’s are broken, but Jesus is already dead.

  • The soldier pierced Jesus side with his spear. Blood and water flow out.

  • ALL scripture about the crucifixion in fulfilled.

  • Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple of Jesus’, asks Pilate for the body of Jesus.

  • Joseph and Nicodemus prepare Jesus’ body for burial.

  • Jesus is laid in a new tomb. John 19:31-42

  • The women from Galilee go up to see where Jesus is laid, and then leave. Luke 23:55-56a

  • The Chief Priests and Pharisees ask Pilate to seal the tomb and place guards around it, hoping this will prevent the disciples from stealing Jesus’ body, and then lying about His resurrection. Matt 27:62-66

Prominent event after Good Friday – Resurrection:

 One important event after Jesus’ crucifixion and death is Resurrection. He defeated final enemy of humankind: the death – which separates man from people and God. Now with this resurrection Jesus brings the hope that all human kind too can unite with God. Even though man can not escape the bodily death, man gets a hope to live in God’s presence after death. Without resurrection his destiny was to spend his life in hell. Jesus not alone assures us about life after death but also about change in human nature while we are still alive. As the robber acknowledged Jesus as God in cross, even when we acknowledge Lord Jesus genuinely and accept Him genuinely, we receive new strength to live as a different and transformed people.

Good Friday: Good or bad

Is Good Friday good to you? It is yes because I know Jesus Christ has forgiven all my sins and is transforming me daily. I also have the assurance of life after my bodily death. Good Friday becomes really good when we accept the forgiveness, changed life and eternal life Jesus earned for us at the cross. Good Friday may become bad for an individual if he does not accept the truth and benefits of Good Friday. In that case he is rejecting a good privilege to earn God’s forgiveness, get a lifestyle of goodness and eternal life.