My whole life I have always been told I am good. Whether it was teachers, friends, or just random people that I encountered. As a child I was VERY crazy, but I still have been regarded as a good kid. This surprisingly has gotten me in more trouble! Let me explain!
The other day I listened to podcast that was talking about the prodigal son.(Luke 15: 11-32) He asked if we were typically rule followers, or a rule breakers? (Go ahead and answer in your head) So the story starts with this, "Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man (Jesus) receives sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2) When the pastor asked the question I really couldn't decide what I was, so I chose to sit in the middle. I know I look good and play nice but I know my thoughts and motives.
And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
Wow!! What a beautiful story! It should end right there!! But, it doesn't. Read on!
“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
This story ends so abruptly. There is no redemption at the end for the older brother..? It just ends with the younger brother in the midst of an awesome party. The older brother is left outside pouting. So there a couple of things I would like to point out in this story!
The Young Son.
So jump back a bit to the younger son. He is just done, and decides to leave the father's house. He takes his money and runs! Things did not work out for this guy. He ends up out of money and in the midst of a famine. But, he remembers his father and chooses to go back and ask to just be a servant to his father. He was making some poor decisions but he sees the wake of his decisions and goes back to his father, not knowing what will happen.
His youngest son had left and taken what wasn't his yet. His father let him go and didn't hold it against him!
One day the father was at his home and in the distance he sees a filthy, tired, and poor representation of what was once his son. It says the son was far off and the father RUNS to him! He ran all out to embrace his loved child. The father goes on to kill one of his most prized possessions, the fattened calf. The whole community would have been invited to this special occasion!
The Older Son.
If the whole community knew.. Why didn't he?? It says he was in the field. He was working. This shows that you can be connected to the father's rules and not be connected to father. You see the older son is the rule follower, he is the "good" kid. He stayed and through working for his dad he attempted to manipulate the father. He tells his dad all that he has done and believes he has earned some sort of special ranking.
The Father can not be manipulated!
This story really sunk in for me this week. You see, I have always been "good".. I have been told I was good and I followed the rules in order to earn something. But this story is told by Jesus to the Pharisees, to the "good" guys. I have played the good role on the outside but my inner thoughts and motives have rotted away the interior.
You see the Father in this story is obviously God. We must admit that we are not good. We never will be and never have been. Only God is good!! The story ends with the younger son partying and the older son on the outside.. The father didn't choose favorites. The older son had everything he needed, but he let himself believe he had earned something with his father. The other son just saw the mess he had made and made a change in his life to go back. Just like the younger son, I am broken and I will run back to my father for I know He is my only hope.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."
Matthew 23: 27-28
Yes Lord, that is me. I admit that I am not good. But you alone are! Through the life of Jesus I can now run home! Thank you!!
If I were capable to see a print out of porn's cost on my life it would wreck me. I think if I could actually see the wake of my mess I would be done for. Porn and lust controlled my actions for almost 10 years! That is almost half of my life.. I have finally tasted freedom and I never want to go back. So I just want to list out some real areas that porn, and I am sure most addictions, take from us.
This one is probably pretty obvious. Porn stole my childhood, my teenage years, and really bled into adulthood. Lust whispers to us that it will only be this one time or that it will be quick. I have news, Satan is a liar, always was and always will be. Your worldly cravings always need just a little more from you. With those small little cravings they add up quick to one large sum.
Really the best time to kill it is right now!!
I enjoy writing, I may not be the best at it, but it allows me to express my thoughts. When porn consumes your time and stains your thoughts it is impossible to be creative. I even think art whether it is music, painting, poetry, or writing can help you fight the temptations. I have no clue what I could have created by now if porn wasn't there, but now is the time to find out.
Porn has been the sole murderer of every relationship I have been in. It has wedged me from friends and it led me directly to isolation. Not cool. In all honestly I hate the sin that has stolen from me. Porn gives you false hope and leads you to see people as objects. Not only has my relationships with people been hurt, but with God I ran directly away from the freedom He had for me!
Porn will wreck your character and steal your integrity. It isn't easy to get back, but we must turn away and go towards Jesus!
It is very hard to fight an addiction without confidence. Porn creates a cycle of curiosity, indulgence, and shame upon shame. Porn will steal your time, it will steal who you really are, and take your friends. That leaves you in a lonely pity party where there is no hope..
Even after everything porn has taken away, it has given me one unique thing. It has given me a testimony. Jesus called me out of the darkness when I was 16 and on a mission trip. He showed me that I am not perfect and that He so deeply loves me. Even after experiencing that I believed the lies of lust. But lust never gives what it promises, it actually never gives you anything. The only one who is trustworthy is Jesus. If you are reading this today and you don't have a relationship with Jesus, please ask questions you do not want to miss that opportunity. But if you are reading this and you do have Jesus know that He still loves you.
The way that porn became a thing of my past is through me being honest with myself and with others. Jesus must be greater than all things in your life. He is better!
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." Romans 8: 1-6
Praying for y'all!
So I recently packed up and went back to Malawi, Africa. Malawi is a beautiful place full of warm smiles, lots of laughing, and some of the most gracious and loving people I know. It was pleasant. Things are obviously so different from here, and I enjoy it!
This was my second time back and I just fell deeper in love with this country! I went with Drops of Grace ministries and we partner with Somebody Cares in Malawi. The ministry in Malawi is probably the healthiest and most effective ministry I have ever seen! They go into communities and truly build them up from the inside, it is so harmonious!
Much of my brief time there was spent playing. I pretty much get off the bus make some noises and the kids laugh at me. It is honestly a humbling experience to have 30 little kids laugh and point at your face. Going in I didn't think I was taking any tangible skills or anything, boy was I wrong!
Soccer and giggles can break any language barrier. This is true. I am glad that I serve a God who sends a tall white boy just to laugh with kids in Malawi. While I was in Malawi I was super attacked by just thoughts of being inadequate. I mean I was only playing around and failing at speaking Chichewa. But again I was wrong, I am pretty good at that.
The majority of Malawi is under the age of 20.. These kiddos have to grow up quick. There are children who are taking care of their sick parent. Or some don't have their parents around anymore and they're now the head of house. These kids don't get to just play.
When I am in Malawi I get to do what I love and that is giggling and playing! The kids have absolutely no problem joining in with me either! As soon as I got off the bus this year I recognized a familiar face in Kalimbira. His name is David and he is different from the other kids! Most kids usually run up and just get to playing, but David likes to sit back and observe. I respect that. I know in my life I like to sit back and observe and just scope it all out. I can always look up and see David watching, he follows.
One of the days we were driving over to a neighboring community for like 10 minutes and then heading right back to Kalimbira. So we went over there I made the kids laugh and we picked one of our teammates up, we started to head back and we passed by David on the way. The only thing is David lives in Kalimbira not Kasakula where we were leaving. As we arrived back I got out and David was there! This dude ran all the way back!
David was running to simply play with me.. That changed everything for me. I am nothing special in worldly terms, but David ran for me.. I don't even know the last time I literally ran towards something! Do you?
I am a sinner. My choices hung Jesus on the cross. But Jesus chose to give His life for us and die on the cross. Three days later He rose victorious and beat death and whoever put their faith in Him will be cleansed. That is my only hope! So as David ran to me I hope I show that type of faith in Jesus. And I hope as I chase Jesus, David can chase me and see Jesus through me.
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3: 12-14
My name is Andrew Berry! I am just living my life chasing after Jesus and trying to point others to Him.