Sep 21, 2017

The Consequences of Saying Yes to Sexual Temptation

A quick scan of the major news media sources reveals that scandals involving infidelity and immorality are being exposed almost daily.

It seems that no one is immune including athletes, coaches, politicians, teachers, and yes, even more than we would like to admit, the clergy.

Careers and lives are ruined as families are ripped apart in the aftermath of a series of poor decisions by leaders who thought that it would NEVER happen to them.

Some of these decisions were caused by giving into temptation from simply being worn out from pouring out into others without refilling the tanks.

And yet, not everyone who is tempted needs to give in; there is a way out.

I’m thinking of Joseph (in the Bible). Let me refresh your memory from Genesis 39:6b-12 (MSG):

“Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master's wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master's wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.
11 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house,12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.

Did you catch that? Joseph, instead of giving into temptation to have sex with this woman was able to FLEE!

How? GRACE. There is always GRACE to assist us in fleeing:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Whenever I feel particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation, I find it helpful to review what effects my action could have:

·        Grieving the Lord who redeemed me.

·        Dragging His sacred name into the mud.

·        One day having to look Jesus, the Righteous Judge, in the face and give an account of my actions.

·        Following in the footsteps of these people whose immorality forfeited their ministries.

·        Inflicting untold hurt on my spouse and children; losing their respect and trust.

·        Destroying my example and credibility with my children, and nullifying both present and future efforts to teach them to obey God ("Why listen to a someone who betrayed us?").

·        If my blindness should continue or my spouse be unable to forgive, perhaps losing my spouse and my children forever.

·        Causing shame to my family; especially when asked to step out of ministry.

·        Losing self-respect.

·        Creating a form of guilt awfully hard to shake. Even though God would forgive me, would I forgive myself?

·        Forming memories and flashbacks that could plague future intimacy with my spouse.

·        Wasting years of ministry training and experience for a long time, maybe permanently.

·        Forfeiting the effect of years of witnessing to my family and reinforcing their distrust for ministers that has only begun to soften by my example but that would harden, perhaps permanently, because of my immorality.

·        Undermining the faithful example and hard work of other Christians in our community.

·        Bringing immense pleasure to Satan, the enemy of God and all that is good.

·        Heaping judgment and endless difficulty on the person with whom I committed adultery.

·        Possibly bearing the physical consequences of such diseases as gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, herpes, and AIDS; perhaps infecting my spouse or, in the case of AIDS, even causing their death.

·        Possibly causing pregnancy, with the personal and financial implications, including a lifelong reminder of my sin.

·        Bringing shame and hurt to fellow pastors and elders.

·        Causing shame and hurt to these friends, especially those I've led to Christ and discipled:

·        Invoking shame and lifelong embarrassment upon myself.

I’m not sure where you are at today or why you’ve read this blog. You may be in a state of transition because you haven’t fled when given the opportunity. Instead, you gave in and you may be wondering; “Is there any hope for restoring me back to health and wholeness?

I can heartily state; “Yes, there is hope that a broken life can be restored again!”

All Scripture is from English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Sep 14, 2017


Hi, my name is Gus. My mom sent me down to welcome you to the neighborhood.” He was around five years old and had loving parents who would become great neighbors and who still live down the block today.

That was 32 years ago in August 1985.

Over the years we watched Gus grow up, get married, and eventually have children who spend time at our house picking berries or just stop by to talk. His oldest has the same gift of hospitality that his father Gus has!

We would get another visitor, Nathan, who was around eight years old, would greet us a few days later. I first saw Nate when every day he would bring his LARGE dog down to our house so that his LARGE dog could do his daily duty in our front bushes. One day, I had enough, so I asked Nate to not do it and he said nothing and walked away.

So, I grabbed a shovel, scooped up the dog’s “present”, and brought it back to Nate’s house; and told Nate that his dog had left something at my house. Nate was not receptive to me returning his dog’s property. I left it on his lawn and went back home.

About five minutes later, I saw an elderly gentleman walking down the block escorting Nate by the ear. It turned out to be Nate’s grandfather who was helping his single mom raise him and his two brothers.

When they arrived at our house, Nate was very lovingly exhorted to apologize for what he had been doing for months even before we had purchased the home.

And then Nate said; “Oh ya, I’m supposed to welcome you to the neighborhood.”

Eventually he came to mean what he said because when it would snow, he would occasionally shovel our walks and, when he was doing lawn care, he aerated our lawn just to be nice, and ten years later he purchased my pickup truck.

I am happy to report that almost every time that Nate stops over at his mom’s house (and sees me outside) he either stops over to say “hi” or shouts; “Hey Mr. Oestreich; hi!”

Nate (and his brothers) have turned out to be great men; mom and grandpa (and eventually step-dad) did an excellent job raising them.

“Welcome” in any language is a simple gift that takes so little to say; but can have lasting effects on the hearer.

Webster defines it as: ‘to greet hospitably and to accept with courtesy or cordially’. ‘To accept with pleasure the occurrence or presence of’  

Because of the effect that it had on our lives when we were the newbies on the block, Cathy and I try to be a “Gus” to new people who move to our neighborhood. At the first sign of someone moving in we try to make it a point to go over and say; “welcome” to them into our world.

At the church that we attend, we have members who come from well over thirty different nations so you might hear greetings like; “Karibu” (Swahili) or “svāgat” (Hindi) or “akeyi” (Haitian) or “bienvenidos” (Spanish) or “huānyíng guānglín" (Mandarin) or “bienvenue” (French) or “bine ai venit” (Romanian) or “si argun naaf gammachudha (Ethiopian) or “sawatdee-krap” or “sawatdee-kahwhich” (Thai)…

The Apostle Paul exhorted the church in Rome to; “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7 ESV)

The Greek word translated there as ‘welcome’ means: to take to oneself, that is, use (food), lead (aside), admit (to friendship or hospitality)

Jesus exhorted us to welcome people. He said in Matthew 25 that When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on his glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats….” (see Matthew 25:31-46)

Jesus goes on Matthew 25 to say that part of how we are judged by God in the last day will be whether we welcomed people in our lives… “I was a stranger and you welcomed me…Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.”

Who are the people that the Lord would want you to reach out to; to say, “Welcome” to? In your neighborhood, place of employment, church, family, and even your own home?

Who are the least of these that Jesus is calling you to reach out to today?

Who is God calling you to be a ‘Gus” to and say; “bienvenidos!”

Scripture from English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Sep 7, 2017

Sand, Rocks, and Trees

Recently, Cathy and I spent three days and two nights up on the North Shore. It is located on Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota. It is a destination that we have been going to over the thirty six years that we have been married; as well as the times when we individually went to that area prior to our marriage.

Our goal was to go from St. Paul to Grand Marais; staying in Two Harbors at night. The whole trip from St. Paul to Grand Marais can be done in a little over four hours. The from St. Paul to Two Harbors can be done in around two and one-half hours. We would have gone to Canada, but I forgot to take along our passports.

In the past, my goal was to get from point “a” to point “b” in a little time as possible; because I had a destination to get to. Over the years I have been trying to slow myself down and take in the scenery along the way.

Each and every time we discover something new and exciting that we hadn't seen before. This time was no exception.

What stood out to us this time was how many different beaches and coves there are on Lake Superior. It is almost as though someone had sorted out all of the rocks, sand, trees, and water into different beaches and coves on the entire shoreline of Lake Superior! 

Let me share with you some of my observations…

ROCKS: Each and every beach or cove has a different type, shape, and color of rocks. Some beaches have jagged rocks that are hard to walk on without the right type of shoes. Some have rocks so smooth they look as though someone came in and tumbled them in a rock polisher. Some have rocks that were all the perfect rock for skipping. Some were perfectly round made out of taconite or sand.

Some rocks were black; others were orange, gay, white, tan or red. Some were dull, and some were filled with stones that sparkled as they reflected the sunshine. Some areas even had rocks that look liked someone had gathered all of the variety of stones and melted them together into individual rocks made up of a composite of multiple types of rocks.

SAND: Each and every beach or cove has a different type, shape, and color of sand; from jet black to pristine white, as well as orange, gray, tan and red. Some of the sand was large grains, others were as fine as dust. Some was warm and some was cold to the touch.

WATER: Each and every beach or cove has a different type and color of water; from choppy to calm, from green water to almost clear. Some that was so clear that one could almost drink it and some was so covered in algae that one wondered why the water was stagnant.

TREES: Each and every beach or cove has a different type and color of trees; from pine trees to hardwoods. Some were tall and some were short; almost like bonsai trees! Some were fallen; others were so attached into the rocks that the very winter storms that ravage that area couldn’t remove them from where they were planted.

WILDLIFE: Each and every beach or cove has a different type of wildlife; from birds to fish to other types of waterfowl.

ATMOSPHERE: Finally, Each and every beach or cove has a different type of atmosphere. Some were crowded, while others were secluded. Some were covered in debris, others were pristine with absolutely no trash in any form. Some felt inviting while others gave off a feeling of uncertainty.

Some were harbors for large ocean-going ships, while others were places for kayakers to explore as they calmly paddled along. Some were littered with trash and even old ship wrecks that contained a reminder of who vastly different this great lake can be from one location to the next.

All of these different coves were on the same lake and yet each had their own unique things to offer to anyone who was willing to stop, wait, and observe. Each and every one came with the observation that someone had to have put this all together as part of some master plan.

My thoughts and take away:
Don't just go through this next week as though you are running a race; you already did last week.

Don’t go through this week thinking that you are alone and that no one is behind all of this placing into your life each and everything that is necessary to make you who you are called to be.

Don't just go through this next week as though there is no master plan for your life. Let God show you what He is doing.

Don't just get through this next week; there is so much to see that you won't notice if you don't slow down and enjoy the trip and soon you will be at thirty plus years wondering how the time flew by.

I'm praying for you and looking forward to your observations.