The Squeezings of my Brain Grapes.
I’m A Girl, and I Might Be Attracted To Other Girls. What Do I Do?

Anonymous asked:
Hey Jed! So I’m writing this message at 3 am. I’m so confused about life, God, etc. it hurts because I KNOW God loves me. The thing is, I may be attracted to women as I do men. I felt this way for as long as I can remember although it never really bothered me. I’m a shy person but at times, around my close friends, I’m funny and outgoing. Recently though it hit me hard. My words are scrambled and I’m really starting to lose focus on Jesus, my Savior.. I don’t know what to do Mr. Jed, I’ve also have been watching porn as well and I just really need God more than ever..

Jed Brewer replied:

Hey sis,

Thanks for your note. 

It sounds to me a little bit like you’re freaking yourself out.  Like you’re letting a lot of disconnected details try and tell you a big fat lie about your life.  For what it’s worth, sometimes, I do that, too.  And it’s no fun at all.

So, you may be attracted to women, too.  Ok.  Well, what do we do with that?  Simple: take it to God, and tell him what the deal is.

Like you say, there’s been an element of that attraction within you for a long time, and we don’t know exactly where it comes from.  That doesn’t leave you with anything to feel bad about, sis.  You didn’t decide to be “naughty”; you’re just trying to live your life, which is what all of us are trying to do.

The key is to take it to God.  Tell him, “God, I’m attracted to women.  I’m not quite sure what to do with that.  But I know you’re not looking down on me in the midst of that.  I need you to give me peace about where I’m at today, and wisdom on where to go with this tomorrow.”

To avoid any trollish responses to this post, allow me to note that, no, same-gender sexual intercourse is not a right thing.  There.  Now, then, let’s review where you’re at:

  • You like looking at porn.  This is totally normal.  (Yes, it’s naughty.  We’re all clear on that.)  As it turns out, everybody likes looking at naked bodies. 
  • You’re somewhat attracted to folks of the same gender.  OK.  That’s true for a lot of people.  (The numbers vary a bit, but folks who experience same-gender sexual attraction are about 1-in-10.  That’s about the same percentage of people who are left-handed.)
  • You feel freaked out.  Well, dang, sis, that’s true for a whole lot of people, and just about every young person on the planet.

None of the above makes you a freak, or a weirdo, or a super-sinner.  It makes you a normal person with sexual desires who’s trying to figure out how to live and follow Jesus.  And that’s no easy thing.

God is not looking down on you.  I promise.  And, more than that, he’d love to talk about your sex life, who you find attractive, where that’s coming from, and where he wants to see it go.  In other words, God has a whole lot more to say on the subject of your sex life than “just don’t.”

I’d encourage you, in your prayer life, to start being completely honest with God about how you’re feeling, who you’re attracted to, and how you feel about that attraction.  And then I’d encourage you to memorize this verse, and claim it as true for yourself:

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

God gets it, sis.  He understands.  More than you do.  He understands, and he’s not looking down on you.  He wants you to share your heart with him.  And he wants to give you wisdom on where your desires are coming from.  And he wants to guide you into a life where you are truly satisfied.  I promise.

I’m Tormented By Lust. What Do I Do?

Anonymous asked:
You have a beautiful picture of sex and marriage that I can hardly comprehend. I have been entrenched in to masturbation and lust for several years, even before being born again. I want the healthy, pure, and godly marriage that God has for me, but I almost don’t think that it is possible given how frequently I struggle with this particular sin. So often (I am sure from viewing pornography) when I see a girl my mind imagines her unclothed and it is a constant torment. How can I get out of this?

Jed Brewer replied:

Bro, I’m sorry you’re hurting.  I really am.

If you’re open to a crazy thought, I think it’s worth considering, even for a moment, that, just maybe, lust isn’t your main problem.

Yes, I get that you have looked at a lot of porn, given into a lot of lust, and engaged in masturbation on a regular basis.  That’s terrain I know well, and from personal experience.  And, yes, all of that is wrong.

But – and this is a very, very big but – it’s a pretty huge leap to go from saying, “I’m doing this wrong thing, and I know it ain’t good”, to saying, “Probably, God can’t bless me anymore, and I’m in torment.” 

Look, yes, mentally undressing girls is not a righteous thing to do.  It is, however, something that basically every man on the planet has done many, many times.  If God can’t deal with a serial-mental-undresser, then he really can’t deal with anyone.  All we’ve got down here are sinners.

Like I said, I don’t think the problem here is lust.  I think it’s shame.

I get the sense that you think you’re a pervert.  The problem with that thought is that you’re thinking your past (and present) mistakes define you.  They don’t.

Your identity is not “pervert”.  It’s “sinner-save-by-grace, and adopted Child-of-God.”  There’s no place for shame in that.  God knows you have issues, and he loves you anyway.

I think the challenge before you is not getting rid of lust – although that will come in time.  I think the challenge before you is accepting that God loves, desires, embraces, and accepts you today, as you are.  That he knows you’re a dude who is eaten up by lust, and he loves you anyway.  That he has enough grace to handle your failures, and enough strength to handle your weakness.

Here’s what the Bible says:

“I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Cor 12:7-9, NIV)

So what’s the answer?  Simple.  

Let God love you.  Let him embrace you.  Get a copy of the Bible in The Message translation, read Ephesians chapter 1, and choose to accept that God is talking about you.  Read the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and make up your mind that God’s talking about you.  Read the story of the treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13:44) and decide to believe that the treasure God sold everything to have is you. 

Choke that shame out.  Show it no mercy.  Put it to death, and let God’s love for you take its place.  That love will change you, and in ways that nothing else can.

Lastly, relax.  As impossible as it sounds, let yourself relax.  Bro, you are not a super-sinner.  You just aren’t.  I work in prison ministry, and I deal with guys who have made an art form out of sinning, and God most definitely is prepared to receive them.  Well,  if God can receive my brothers from County, then he can receive you.  And he wants to, more than anything.

Why Is Sex So Easily Corrupted?

tingaroo asked you:
A general consensus I’ve heard from Christians is that sex is a gift from God. But why this gift easily perverted (pornography, abuse, etc.) and tempt people into sin, versus other gifts like prayer?

Jed Brewer replied:

My friend, that’s an extremely cool question.

First, before we go any further, let’s be very clear: sex is a gift from God.  Sex is meant for married people to enjoy without guilt or reservation, and it is intended to be pleasurable and satisfying.  Here’s one of the many things God says on the subject…

“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. 
A loving doe, a graceful deer — may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.” (Proverbs 5:18-19)

The fact that, often times, people can and do misuse and mistreat the good gifts God gives us doesn’t change that God still wants to give us a good gift.  In other words, sometimes people kind of suggest, “well, since sex has been so distorted in our culture, it’d probably be best to just declare the whole thing icky and lead sexless lives.”  I suppose that sounds like it makes sense, but God doesn’t agree.  Here’s what He says.

“Everything God created is good, and to be received with thanks. Nothing is to be sneered at and thrown out. God’s Word and our prayers make every item in creation holy.” (1 Timothy 4:4-5)

So, you asked: why is sex more easily perverted than other good things God has given us?  Well, I’m not sure that it is more easily perverted.  I think that, in our culture, the signs of its corruption are just more obvious.

I live in Chicago, dead-center in the middle of the United States.  We’re a city of about 30 million in the greater metropolitan area.  And I can’t walk out my door without being confronted with sexuality.  It’s everywhere.  It’s on the billboards and the radio.  It’s at the movies and behind the counter at the convenience store.  It’s in the greeting cards at the grocery store.  Let’s be honest, particularly with hip, trendy churches, it’s waiting for you on Sunday morning, too.

And, because sexuality is so prevalent, and because the folks presenting it are fallen – just like you and me – we see a corrupted version of it, everywhere we go.

But, the thing is, every other good gift gets corrupted, too, we just don’t see it as easily.

You mentioned prayer.  If you can dig it, a person can corrupt prayer in huge ways.  In fact, Jesus went off on the religious people of his day for doing exactly that:

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:5-8)

If you think about it, I bet you’ve seen - and maybe even done – exactly what Jesus is talking about here.  Dude, we’ve all been at church and had a guy get up to pray and he’s all, “Gracious Triune Godhead, who was, and is, and is to come, slain before the foundation of the earth, whose Spirit did hover over the waters of the unformed earth, who, yay, spake the very creation into existence with naught but a word…”

This dude’s going on and on, and we’re all looking down at our watches, and it’s been 5 minutes, and he hasn’t even gotten to what the heck he’s asking for yet!  Dang!

Or, on the other hand, you probably know people that tell you that if you’ll just keep praying this one special prayer (maybe, you know, the one about enlarging your territory and keeping you from harm) then everything will be great in your life.  And that doesn’t even sound like it makes sense!

Well, both of those are exactly the kind of things Jesus is talking about here.

What that all leads us to is this understanding: as sinners, we can screw up anything.  There’s nothing we’re not capable of making a mess of.

The answer to that, though, isn’t to get discouraged, and it isn’t to get down on ourselves.  It’s to recognize that we need wisdom.  We need God to tell us how he wants these good gifts used!

In that passage from Matthew, Jesus is saying, “Here’s how prayer should work.  You and God get together, just the two of you, and you say, ‘Hey Dad, here’s what’s up, and here’s what I need.’”  Boom!

Likewise with sex, God’s design is, “Wait for me to bring the right person into your life.  Wait to make that marriage commitment.  Then, it’s on like Donkey Kong.”  Boom!

Sin doesn’t get the last word in our lives.  That’s what it means to be redeemed!  The truth is that, yes, we’re capable of screwing anything up, and badly.  But all the more, God wants to show us how to use and enjoy and celebrate every good gift he’s given us.  And that’s the good stuff.

Habitual Sin - What It Doesn’t Mean

Bless their hearts, but Christians manage to say a whole lot of stupid stuff when it comes to the subject of habitual sin.  Here are some paraphrases of actual things I’ve heard Christians say on the subject…

“If you’re not willing to stop sinning, you shouldn’t even call yourself a Christian.”

“The answer to habitual sin is to just stop it.”

“If you’re stuck in habitual sin, you should question whether or not you’re really saved.”

Wow.

Now, I bet you’ve heard some of those same ideas before.  And I bet, just maybe, they freaked you out.  That’s kind of the point, of course – to try and scare you into changing behavior.

But let’s take those item by item.  “If you’re not willing to stop sinning, you shouldn’t even call yourself a Christian.”  There’s a few problems here.  First, Christians don’t claim to be sinless – quite the contrary, in fact!  1 John says, “If we claim to be without sin, we lie and the truth is not in us.” 

Second, if you actually talk to a person struggling with a habitual sin (instead, of, you know, yelling at them), what you’re almost certain to find is that they are very willing to stop sinning.  They just don’t know how to do it.  I work with a whole lot of people stuck in habitual sin, and, consistently, they hate the thing, they don’t want to do the thing, they’ve tried all kinds of stuff to not do the thing, and nothing has worked.  Willingness is not the problem.

That brings us to the second idea.  “The answer to habitual sin is to just stop it.”  Only someone who has never faced down something impossible would say this.  I don’t know about you, but, my sinfulness is too big for me.  It’s almost like I need a savior.  Paul – the guy who wrote most of the New Testament – had the same experience:

“For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:19,24)

Paul’s answer to this was that he needed Jesus Christ to change him.  That his will power wasn’t enough.  He wrote about this in the book of Galatians, when he chastised the folks there for trying to live the Christian life “by human effort.”  (Gal 3:3)

One of the ways that Jesus changes us is to give us wisdom about what’s driving us to that sin in the first place.  For a lot of folks reading this, their sin of habit is pornography.  And they feel really guilty about it.  But very few of them have every thought and prayed on the question, “What’s driving me to look at this in the first place?”

As a quick example, a big motivator for a lot of folks is that they use pornography as a stress release.  Well, now, if we want to move past porno, we’d need to learn how to live a lower-stress life and what Godly, healthy stress relievers look like.  But we’d never come to that point if we’d clenched our teeth and decided to “just stop it” in our own strength.

So, let’s look at that last bad idea.  “If you’re stuck in habitual sin, you should question whether or not you’re really saved.”

No, no you shouldn’t.  Here’s what the Bible says: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)  If you’ve said, “Jesus, I’m a sinner, and I’m asking you forgive me and take control of my life and heart,” you’re as saved as saved can be, and nothing can change that, now or ever.

As I said at the beginning, there are a lot of Christians who say dumb stuff on this topic, and, as we say in the south, bless their hearts.  Some of them, I am certain, mean well.  They do.  They know that sin is bad – and it is.  They know that God doesn’t want us to sin – and He doesn’t.

But these Christians are confused about how we move past a sin.  The truth, as we were just saying, is that we do so piece by piece, bit by bit, with wisdom guiding the journey.  Human willpower and gritted teeth don’t lead to changed lives.

The second thing, though, that our well-meaning brothers and sisters are confused about, is the nature of God’s forgiveness.  The truth is that it just doesn’t run out.

Jesus said that, if your brother wrongs you the same way seven times in a single day, you should forgive him. (Luke 17:4)  And, further, that you should be prepared to forgive the same person 70 times 7 times. (Matthew 18:22)  And the Bible tells us that our forgiveness of others is to mirror God’s forgiveness of us. (Ephesians 4:32)

What all this means is that God has an impossibly high ability to forgive us.  Which is good, because we have an impossibly high ability to sin.  And isn’t that exactly what the Bible says?  “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” (Romans 5:20)

If you’re struggling with habitual sin, first, welcome to being human and a Christian.  We’ve all been there.  Second, relax for a minute.  God’s not gonna let you go.  Take a deep breath and be still.  Then, start asking God for wisdom.  Seek out some older Christians who don’t have a stick up their butt.  Seek the Lord on what’s driving the sin areas in your life.  And, step by step, begin to address those behind-the-scenes problems, and you will begin to see God changing your life right in front of you.

How Do I Receive God’s Help?

Anonymous asked:
How do I ask God for help when I feel helpless?

Jed Brewer replied:

Hey Anon,

Helpless can mean a lot of different things, but, I’m guessing that you’re referring to temptation.  As in, “How do I ask God for help when I feel like I know I’m gonna do this wrong thing, even though I know I shouldn’t?”

Here’s my next guess – you aren’t wondering so much about asking for help, as receiving help.  I mean, the asking part is pretty easy: “God!  Help!” (God doesn’t have any problem with a prayer just like that…)

But receiving that help requires a couple of things.

First, you have to want it.  See, for me, when I’m doing something I know I shouldn’t, maybe I don’t want to be helped out of it.  ‘Cause I like whatever that thing is.  So, I think step one is being honest about where we’re at.  So, for example, “God, I like this sin.  I want to do this sin.  I don’t want to stop doing this sin.  I know that’s wrong.  And, deep down, I want you more than I want any sin.  But I need you to show me how to move forward, ‘cause, Lord, I really, really like this sin.”  God can roll with that, and honesty is where we start.

Second, receiving God’s help requires you to believe that he can help you.  A lot of guys I work with feel like when temptation comes a-callin’, they have no choice.  Seriously.  It’s just, the devil says, “Do this”, and now I gotta.

Well, you don’t gotta, but I bet you can feel the same way.  (I know I can.)  The old routine of, “I’ve done this a thousand times before, so, probably, I’m doomed to keep doing this sin forever, and nothing will ever change.  Probably God can’t do anything about it.”  I bet you know that feeling.  And I bet you can see pretty much immediately what’s wrong it.

God can change things in your life.  No matter what you’re stuck on, and no matter how long you’ve been stuck on it, God can set you free.  I know this to be true; I have tried it for myself.

Part of how God frees us from things, though, is through understanding.  If you asked the Lord to set you free from a sin that was really messing you up, part of what he would likely want to do is to give you some understanding about why you’re drawn to that sin in the first place.  What is it that you like about it? What is it you’re getting out of it?  I’ll give you an example.

Everyone everywhere struggles or has struggled with internet pornography.  And we all know it’s bad, yes.  But, if you asked the Lord, “What’s the deal with me and porno? I need understanding on this issue,” here’s part of what the Lord might show you.

-       You looking at porno functions as a stress reliever

-       You looking at porno alleviates boredom

-       You tend to look at porno when you’re feeling lonely

Ok, well, all of a sudden, it’s a whole different ballgame.  We know that, if we want to deal with pornography, then we, at the very least, need to find healthy stress relieving activities, and maybe figure out a way to have a lower stress-level to begin with.  We need to find some new interests and pursuits that engage our passions and imaginations.  (Y’all are incredibly cool, creative people – none of you need to be bored.)  And, if we’re feeling lonely, then we need to build some newer and deeper relationships with other people.

And that leads to the last thing about receiving God’s help.  There’s what a theologian might call a “participatory” roll for you to play.  In other words, there’s something God wants you to do as a part of him helping you.

So, say you’re there, thinking about doing whatever that thing is, and you say, “God!  Help!”  Well, maybe all of a sudden it occurs to you, “Prolly, I should call my friend Bob and go hang out.  I can’t really be cutting when I’m with Bob at Taco Hut.”

See, God’s showing you a way out in that moment – just like he promised he would (1 Cor 10:13).  But that way out involves you choosing it.  Picking up the phone, dialing Bob’s number, and saying, “What’s up, Bobby, it’s hang time.”

Make no mistake, God wants to help you.  Always, no matter what.  And if we’ll cultivate a relationship with him based on honesty, remembering that God is able, if we’ll seek understanding from the Lord, and then choose to live out steps based on that understanding, we’ll find ourselves receiving God’s help in unlimited supply.