Rejection in Recovery: Handling an Earthquake to the Heart

Pastor Ed Grant

The rain-slick highway was more dangerous than it appeared in the headlights, especially through the blurry eyes of someone who had indulged in a few too many drinks. But Bob knew the way home, and he had driven it countless times before without any problems. He had called his wife, Denise, to say that he was on his way home and assured her that he was fine to drive. However, once outside the tavern, he stood for a full half hour telling a friend about a recent fishing trip. Denise worried: it was only a ten minute trip from the tavern and her husband had yet to come through the front door.

She decided to drive there to see if something had happened to him. Bob knew she would be angry for a time – as she always was. He’d stop drinking for a while, attend a few AA meetings, and Denise faithfully came along side him to cheer him on. As Bob approached a curve in the road his front tires lost all traction. He began to slide across the double yellow line just as a car came around the curve the other way. In his headlights he saw the terrified face of a woman: it was Denise. To avoid a collision she went off the road and hit a telephone pole, demolishing her car and breaking her leg in two places. Surgery was necessary to repair the damage: steel rods, pins, and screws – equipment better suited for a metal shop – now held her leg in place until it would heal.

It was now three months since the accident. Bob attended AA meetings faithfully and hadn’t had a drink since the accident. He was excited about his sobriety and grateful to God for sparing his wife’s life. He was also terribly sorry for the pain he had caused his wife. But, truth be told, Bob was growing increasingly frustrated with Denise. She was cold, somewhat distant, suffering both from physical and emotional pain. He longed to have his cheerleader wife back in his corner again and was both sad and miffed that she didn’t celebrate or even seem to notice all the changes that were taking place in his life.

But Denise could not cheer him on. She had a wounded heart and a broken leg – and he was the cause of both.

Bob was feeling rejected by his wife, one of the most painful emotions we can experience. Those in recovery feel it even more acutely because they have stopped medicating their pain with drugs, alcohol, or pornographic fantasy. They are fragile and self absorbed, typically more aware of their own pain than of the pain they have inflicted on others. They want to move on with their lives, wanting everyone around them to notice what they’ve accomplished, to cheer them on and to trust them again. The trouble is, the cheerleader’s leg is still broken.

Emotional Pitfalls on the Road to Recovery

1. Unrealistic expectations
Those in recovery need to remember the years of pain, deceit, broken promises, and hardships created by their addiction have had a greater negative impact upon their loved ones than they can possibly know. Their loved ones require selfless support throughout the healing process. We can’t ‘fix’ our loved ones or undo what we have done, but through sincere and patient love we can help create the climate in which God can bring healing.

2. Riding the ’emotional Ferris wheel’ with loved ones
Those in recovery often give their wounded loved ones the power to dictate their feelings. If the loved one is hopeful, they feel hopeful; if he is having a bad day, they don’t feel they have the right to be happy. While riding the emotional Ferris wheel is normal for our wounded loved ones, it is unhealthy to take a ride with them. It is a nasty trap that keeps us from recognizing and celebrating what God is doing in us, making it difficult for us to leave shame in the past and to fight the temptation to return to the addiction.

Finding refreshment for the Journey

The road to recovery is too demanding to walk alone. Sponsors, mentors, pastors, and support group members are prepared to offer the encouragement that loved ones are not able to give at the moment. This requires time, energy and a willingness to allow others to minister to us.

Finally, time spent with God in prayer, meditation and the reading of His holy Word are indispensable assets for recovery. St. Paul reminded the congregation in Rome of this, ‘For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves’May the God of peace fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ (Romans 15:4 & 5, 13).

For help with alcohol or drugs, call our Resource Center at (800) 639-5433.
For help with sexual integrity, please see Every Man’s Battle.

Summer Battle Tactics: Keeping the Bounce in Your Eyes

James Hutchison

Summer is coming and so is temptation. This warning comes to prepare you, so be ready. As the temperature rises and the heavy clothing drops, remember your covenant with your eyes. Staying sexually pure takes renewed resolve every day and every season. This is the time to review your battle plan.

Have you been having your time with God, in his word and in prayer? It is there that we find our strength, as we are told in Eph 6:10-13: ‘Finally be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of the dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.’

Reading the scriptures is only half the job. It is important to meditate on them also, so that we become different after having read them. Would a farmer, after having planted his crop, walk away hoping for a harvest, or would he tend to his crop? Just like the farmer who works hard to nurture what has been planted, we need to look carefully at what we read. Spend time thinking deeply about what you have read until it changes your heart and life.

In John 14:26 Jesus was telling the apostles that He was leaving but the Father was sending someone to help them: ‘But the Counselor, the Holy spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to .. Let the Holy Spirit do its intended work in your life. If you don’t understand the purpose of what you have read and how it should affect you, ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand. This is the kind of prayer God loves to answer.

The time we spend with other men is also crucial to our ability to endure all temptation. Not only can we hold each other accountable, there is something to be said about the encouragement that comes from the companionship of a common struggle. The French author and war hero, Antoine De Saint-Exupery said: ‘Happiness! It is useless to seek it elsewhere than in the warmth of human relationship. Our sordid interests imprison us within their walls. Only a comrade can grasp us by the hand and haul us free. And these human relationships must be created. One must go through an apprenticeship to learn the job. Games and risk are help here. When we exchange manly handshakes, compete in races, join together to save one who is in trouble, cry aloud for help in an hour of danger-only then do we learn that we are not alone on earth.’ The close friendships that we develop can support us when we are struggling, comfort us when we hurt, and equip us for new challenges ahead. If you have been ignoring this part of your battle plan, do something today. Call a friend, make a new one, get connected; you won’t regret it! To ignore this is to reject the model of the creator God; 3 in 1. It is part of the design. If Judas had gone back to the others with his remorse like Peter, instead of isolating himself, he could have received forgiveness through the others. Instead of hanging himself, he could have experienced God’s love.

It’s Gods plan for your life; don’t reject it when you can enjoy it!

For more help in the battle for purity, see Every Man\’s Battle.

Knowing the ROCK; Knowing TRUE Intimacy in Recovery: Part 4

David Mackey

If you are new to the reading of these articles here is a short review: Just as false intimacy was part of what helped maintain our addiction, TRUE intimacy will strengthen our recovery. So this series will look at 4 of the many facets of intimacy which can be found in an intimate relationship with God AND with others.

This is our design: to have intimacy with both God and Others. In the Psalms, David equated knowing God as his Rock, Refuge, and Fortress with knowing God intimately. So far we have looked at the idea of being free from shame and being listened to with acceptance and understanding as pieces, deep pieces, of having an ‘In-To-Me-See’ relationship.

In verse 3 of Psalm 31, David, reveals yet another facet of intimacy. I can’t say that I have ever thought of being lead or guided as a piece of intimacy. For David it was. If you think about it awhile you might conclude that after someone listens ‘In-To” someone; after perhaps seeing another’s shame and vulnerability, then leading/ guiding them seems like another part of an intimate relationship.

In his book Pursuit of Intimacy, David Ferguson identifies one of the ‘foundational blocks’ of intimacy as ‘joint accomplishment.’ He contends that in intimate marital relationships a couple accomplishes things together. So working together to buy and/or build a home together, raise children together, complete grad school together, etc. contributes to a deeper level of intimacy in couples.

Think about the intimacy that develops with your Band of Brothers as you lead and guide each other through the battle. Think about the intimacy that develops with God as you listen to His Word and His Spirit leads and guides you through the battle. There is comfort and security found in being lead and guided within a truly intimate relationship. So for David intimacy was not just a passive event in which he was listened to. He knew that as God listened He was also guiding David, preparing him for perhaps more of the same battles David had dealt with throughout his life.

This is indeed a messed up world. We have found a common set of struggles among men who struggle with sexual impurity. Father wounds, mother wounds, abuse wounds, neglect wounds and many other past issues, very often affect us today. Present issues, wounds, and struggles are often magnified by our past issues. So we need guidance, we need preparation, we need tools for battle. Knowing God as your Rock, Refuge and Fortress, i.e. having an ‘In-To Me-See’ relationship with God will not just bring healing from past battles but preparation for future battles. False Intimacy didn’t/doesn’t prepare us for anything. Rather it weakened us. We sought comfort in false intimacy and it gave us none. We sought to rid ourselves of some of our shame only to find we were beaten down by deeper and deeper shame. We sought excitement and even happiness only to find terror and depression. If anything in us was at all satisfied with acting out, then other needs and desires of our life became damaged even more.

God invites into True Intimacy with Himself and with others. Part of true intimacy actually leads us, guides us, and prepares us for the Battle. We are not in this alone. Perhaps the most famous of Psalms says even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death He is with us. What a blessing!! It would seem that if we know God as our Rock, Refuge, and Fortress He doesn’t only walk beside us through the battle, the valley, but he leads us and guides us through. More Blessing!! This is intimacy with God. And it is what exists in an intimate relationship with others. Someone listening to the cry of our heart, just listening and understanding and accepting.

So we find another piece of a wonderful invitation God gives us through David! God invites us to be lead and guided while sitting in the Rock, Refuge, and Fortress! Intimacy: Knowing God as your Rock, Refuge and Fortress. What will recovery be like knowing that God is there to lead and guide you through this battle. His Word is not a list of rules’ it intimately leads and guides us through the battles. In your recovery pursue the path of true intimacy with all your being. Remember, this is not a command from God but rather, it is an invitation. Intimacy with God and others is what we were created for and it will bring real fulfillment and a strong recovery. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5

Discouragement in Recovery: A Silent Ambush on the Heart

Invia Betjoseph

“Why don’t you just give up on me Lord? I’m hopeless!” Sound familiar? Thousands of Christian men have uttered those words out of sheer frustration. At some point they promise God that they will stop acting out their sexual fantasies’that THIS time they are ready’ that THIS time it is different’ that they are, to quote a famous Alcoholic Anonymous saying, ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired.’

Maybe you’re one of these men who decides to ‘starve’ himself of anything remotely sexual. You get rid of cable television, cancel the internet access, throw away all pornographic material, and even avoid having sex with your wife for a while! Several weeks pass and you notice that you don’t have the desire to view internet porn, visit massage parlors, or even masturbate! You begin to think that this is pretty easy and tell yourself, ‘maybe I can conquer this after all’ or, ‘I think I’m on my way to getting healed.’

But before you know it, lustful thoughts invade your mind like ‘pop-ups’ from Yahoo! You try not to panic but find yourself completely preoccupied with sexual thoughts for the next few hours or even days. At work you try to concentrate and endeavor to meet deadlines but your attention span is that of a woodpecker. You attempt to pay attention at staff meetings but each minute that goes by makes the struggle more intense. And then it happens’you end up in front of a computer screen or an x-rated video and for the next three to five hours you gratify your fleshly desires by viewing every known porn site under the sun, compulsively masturbate or ‘binge’ the whole weekend from massage parlors to escort services.

You cry out, ‘What happened? Why can’t I just quit?’ You not only feel disillusioned and guilty but you also feel like you are perverted to the depths of your being. You want to ‘resign’ as a Christian because you continually feel helpless and hopeless and you believe that no one can relate to you.

Well, you are not alone! You don’t believe me? Read with me Peter’s letter; specifically chapter 5:9 ”because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.’

All of us are running in this race for sexual integrity and sometimes we trip and fall. And when we do, we can’t afford to just sit there and watch everyone run by. Can you imagine watching Olympic athletes trip and fall and just sit there in bewilderment as to why they fell? No, they immediately get up and run’ they don’t even wipe the dirt off of themselves. Their whole focus is the finish line. Proverbs 24:16 adequately captures the theme of what you’ve read thus far: ‘For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again!’ So before you decide to beat yourself up any further let me suggest that we pay a visit to some of our Heroes of the Faith and see just how human they really were.

In I Kings chapter 18 Elijah and the prophets of Baal engage in a contest to see who is truly God. In verse 27 when the prophets of Baal are struggling Elijah feels so confident that he begins to taunt them (how cocky we get sometimes). You know how the rest of the story goes. What amazes a lot of Christians is that after his amazing victory Jezebel puts a contract on his life and the man cowers into a cave and starts whining. God didn’t tell him to go there. The Lord even asks him, ‘What are you doing here Elijah?’ (19:9). Do you see how human Elijah really is? Just like you and I, he distances himself from the Lord out of fear, shame, and other feelings that damage our confidence.

What about John the Baptist? Jesus says of him: ‘Among those born of women there is no one greater than John (Luke 7:28). This is a prophet who boldly spoke against Herod’s adultery, he put Pharisees ‘in their place’ and preached about the coming Messiah as if his life depended on it and he did not sugarcoat his words. Yet in Luke 7:18-19 we read that from his prison cell he sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’ Excuse me John, wasn’t it you that said to Jesus, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’? It is amazing what despair does to the person. It slowly strips him of his confidence, blinds his eyes to past victories, and finally creates an environment in his soul in which doubt can thrive.

Let’s not forget good old Peter. When Jesus predicts his death and tells his disciples that they will all fall away on account of him our beloved brother protests, ‘even if all fall away on account of you, I NEVER will’ (Matt 26:33). Can you just picture him speaking in a baritone voice with his chest sticking out? Jesus then tells Peter that he will disown him three times. One can only imagine the level of agony Peter felt when the rooster crowed three times. The Bible says ‘he went outside and wept bitterly’ (Matt 26:75).

So, do you still feel alone? I hope not. There are many other accounts in the Bible where men and women ‘messed up’ but God used them anyway despite their shortcomings. Meanwhile, what does one do when he has messed up in the sexual integrity department? I thought you’d never ask!

First, it is very important not to mistake the absence of symptoms for cure. Just because you’ve thrown out your porn stash or haven’t masturbated for weeks does not mean that the condition of your heart has changed.

Secondly, if and when relapse occurs, there will be a tendency to abandon the whole process altogether. It is vital that you do not give up’to get up and run the race.

Thirdly, if you have someone in your life that holds you accountable pick up the 100 lb. phone and call him. Let him know what you did and do not hold back (Satan thrives on secrecy).

Fourthly, try to identify what exactly happened. Usually, there are 3-5 things happening at the same time. For example, you’re having car trouble, the boss is acting like Hitler and you have not been sleeping enough… all of the above can have a toll on your body and mind. Try to pin-point what the trigger was for you.

Finally, you need to strategize. In other words, you need to place preventative measures at each trigger point so that you do not repeat the cycle.

You know, theologians and preachers often speak about the work Christ did on the cross for our salvation. However, the work that Jesus continues to do on our behalf is often not talked about. Just as He prayed for Peter during some dark hours, so also he intercedes before the Father’s throne on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus’ ongoing ministry of prayer is there for you as long as you are in need of His guidance, comfort and blessing.

Robert Murray McCheyne, the beloved Scottish minister of the 19th century, wrote, ‘If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference. He is praying for me!’

If you are still sitting there asking the Father, ‘Why don’t you just give up on me? I’m hopeless!’ I would imagine he would say, ‘Because I who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 1:6).

Tiredness in Recovery: Don't Let It Get You Lying Down

Martin Fierro

You have worked a long day, feeling a cold coming on or is it the spring time allergies, you did not have one solid meal, did not sleep well the night before, stuck in traffic, late for an appointment, forgot to call your wife back, that home project needs to be completed, the car engine light just went on AND it is only Monday. When the last hour seemed hard enough to get through to remain sexually pure in heart, mind and soul, here comes the next hour to press through.

Taking it one day at a time really can come down to a minute to minute per the environment our mind is entertaining. Part of what can make a tempting situation worse is the condition of ones mental and physical state when such life stressors occur. And it is common that tempting situations will occur with more intensity at the early onset of sexual sobriety along with when you are physically/mentally drained (the enemy does not want you to win). And sobriety can seem more intense because for the first time in your life maintaining sexually integrity, to not sexually acting out, is the healthiest option irregardless to what has occurred on any particular day of the week.

‘Well, what do I do now? I am exhausted; feel disconnected, lonely and angry. So now I sit in a lonely house with no one, what I can get myself into? This is boring; I need something to make me feel good about myself. I am so tired of going through this on my own. No one has my problems.’

Should we call the ‘whaaamm-bulance?’

Self pity not only can be a trigger to acting out, but also a key that you are physically and mentally needing rest and recovery.

Don’t let temptations catch you lying down and don’t under-estimate your tiredness in your recovery process. And the reality is that you are going to have tired days, tired of working recovery days, and both.

Let this be of encouragement to you. You are not alone. God has not abandoned you and there are others out there who want to be supportive to you as you seek sexual integrity and sobriety from the addictive behavior. But in a tired emotional and cognitive state of being we begin to believe that this cave of our emotional struggles is to be kept inside that cave, keeping our feelings in the dark.

Just the opposite is true for health and sobriety. Bring the feelings to the light. Seeking support from other brothers who are in ‘the battle’ is a great step. And when asked by that brother in arms ‘how are you doing?’ Not answering ‘fine.’ Those of you who have participated in a 12 step program know what that acronym for FINE is (we’ll just say ‘Faking it,’ Insecure, Negative and Evasive).

Here are some options to consider to help when you are tired of fighting this fight and want to just give up because of life stressors:

1. ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Ground yourself spiritually. Do not rush through the prayer of ‘okay okay okay, I am sitting’..waiting’.. ahhh’.okay, waiting waiting’ um, where are you God?’ Quiet you inner talk and LISTEN. Let me encourage you to first turn off the television and/or radio. Then go and sit down somewhere comfortable, uncross you arms and take some deep breathes for at least 5 minutes while focusing on nothing but your breathing. Clear your mind.

2. Have an officer in arms/sponsor. Pick up that 600 pound phone and connect with a brother in arms. Be open and honest. Saying what is going on is not weakness. It can mentally beneficial to say it out loud (take some power away from it).

3. Remain on alert. When you become tired you can convince yourself, ‘I can handle things now, in this part of my recovery.’ Don’t open that door to temptations; keep your Armor of God on. There is a spiritual war going on with your mind and the enemy knows the best way to get you is by brainwashing (convincing) you to believe and behave otherwise.

4. Exercise. It cannot be said enough: go for a simple bike ride, swim or walk. Observe the creation of the earth, take in the splendor that is before you (watch your eyes and where you look, of course!).

5. Eat well, diet appropriately per what your doctor would recommend for you stage in life.

6. Pick up that God given gift, talent ,or skill and put it to use for others benefit.

Recovery & Stewardship: Is 'What's in your wallet?' affecting your bottom-line?

Bob Parkins

Many men in recovery find they need to set limits on their spending habits; often men will include financial accountability as part of their commitment to recovery in general. Although sexual addictions have dramatic effects on some men’s finances, for many more its influence is more subtle and may lie ‘under the radar.’ For these men financial issues often surface when they begin to gain some control over their recovery by maintaining longer periods of sexual sobriety. While men begin to feel victorious over their addictions they will often increase their spending on gadgets, hobbies or other compulsive purchases. Not unlike their increased desire for sexual experiences outside biblical boundaries, they now find an increase in thirst for money or material goods that is unquenchable (Ecc 5:10).

When men enter recovery their relationship with God must become a primary focus in his life. If men have been pursuing materialism ‘under the radar,’ these financial idols will then come into conflict with their spiritual walk (Lk 16:13). As it did with lust or sexually acting out, these two passions cannot dwell together for long without consequences.

There are many emotional connections between sexual addictions and finances.

Just as in the manner people handle finances reveals their true values, so does it reveal how they manages their lives. I frequently speak about money with others in recovery as a ‘secondary addiction.’ Whether it is money, television, hobbies, alcohol, etc., there is almost always a secondary addiction underneath the more visible primary addiction. Sexually addicted men have not developed the same ability to tolerate frustration, other negative emotions, or delay gratification to the same degree as other adults. Sexually acting out is how men cope with the uncomfortable realities of life and resulting emotional pain.

Unfortunately, simply removing the method of coping [acting out sexually] does not give a person the necessary skills to cope in a fallen world. Not only does this make sexual sobriety increasingly difficult, it leaves a men feeling even more powerless and ultimately sets them up for relapse. Sexually acting out is not the only coping behavior addicts employ, there is a whole dynamic that drives many behaviors and the way they relate to others. For instance, these patterns may include avoidance, procrastination or explosive anger.

Men who systematically avoid pain may not only do so by acting out, but avoid conflict in general. Behind virtually every decision they make is the mantra of ‘avoid pain at all cost.’ If a man’s primary defense has been sexually acting out and that is no longer an option he will continue to seek avenues of avoidance. It is this dynamic that is often referred to by the term ‘dry addict.’ The ‘drug’ may not be there but the life patterns remain. In the absence of sex, he may act out with money.

Recovery is not just about abstaining from sexually acting out; it is a complete healing of the heart. Not only do men need to learn sobriety, they also needs to learn to cope with old triggers in healthy ways. Knowing this makes facing recovery more manageable as it helps to refocus on the actual issues. It empowers by causing men to seek new ways of relating. These changes are best made through ‘baby steps.’

In my own recovery I started practicing assertiveness with the phone company. It is too overwhelming to tackle some issues head-on without first preparing, practicing and gaining confidence in new skills. I gained new skills at confrontation by fighting to have bogus charges removed from my phone bill. When I began to curb my spending habits I began to closer assess my motivation for spending each time I made a compulsive purchase. Soon I began to feel uncomfortable with purchases I knew where compulsive. The first day I returned a compulsive purchase I began to feel a bit of power over it.

Ultimately men must address the triggering needs or emotions. When they can refocus on the actual problem they regain power and may no longer feel the need to spend or engage in other unhealthy secondary coping behaviors. I encourage you to own your choices, choose to view pain as an opportunity for growth and enter into the uncomfortable realms that you have avoided for years. You will slowly feel your heart stretching as you begin to tolerate more and more of what once felt intolerable. In retrospect, you may someday be amazed at the men you have grown up to be.

See Every Man\’s Battle for more help.

Knowing the ROCK: Knowing TRUE Intimacy in Recovery: Part 3

David Mackey

Just to review: Just as false intimacy was part of what fed our addiction, True intimacy will strengthen our recovery. So this series will look at 4 of the many facets of intimacy which can be found in an intimate relationship with God AND with others.

This is our design: to have intimacy with both God and Others. In the Psalms, David equated knowing God as his Rock, Refuge, and Fortress with knowing God intimately.

Last month we discovered that David often equated being free from shame as a piece, a deep piece, of having an ‘In-To-Me-See’ relationship. Our struggle with shame might be at the deepest layer that someone can see in us.

In verse 2 of Psalm 31, David, reveals another facet of intimacy. ‘Turn your ear to me” be my ‘rock of refuge,’ be my “strong fortress.’ David equates God BEING his ‘Rock of Refuge’ and Strong Fortress’ with being listened to. Psalm 28:1 and 72:2-3 make a similar connection. But wait there’s more! Over 60 times in the Psalms alone, the psalmist asks God to listen or hear or turn His ear.

Being listened to is part of intimacy!

Listening, at first glance may first be seen as more of a practical or functional piece of intimacy. Most likely, as with most facets of intimacy, something deeper is inferred. These are cries to be listened to with understanding and acceptance. These cries are looking for a listener who does not belittle one’s most vulnerable heart and soul. They seek listener who loves and accepts even after hearing the hurts and pains of one’s heart.

As a counselor, people actually pay me to listen to them. Weird huh? Not so weird if one ponders how important being heard or being listened to is for us. It is such a great need. Think about how frustrating it is when someone doesn’t listen to us with even the most mundane of issues. Now think about what it feels like for someone not to listen to some deeper issues in our heart and soul.

For the practical side of intimacy, listening is a must! How will one share one’s self, or allow someone to ‘See-In-To-Me’ without being heard? The other practical side of listening is of course, talking/verbalizing. Verbalizing/talking about anything deeper then sports seems to be difficult for most men, especially men who have nurtured the secret sins of sexual impurity. That however, is a different article. But take note that David was finding intimacy, finding God as his rock by speaking/verbalizing his heart.

This all started back in the ‘Garden’ (not ‘Madison Square’ sports fans). Adam walked with God. Adam talked and God listened. God talked and Adam listened. There was intimacy. We are strengthened and encouraged when someone listens to and understands our hopes and dreams, our pain and sorrows, our fears and challenges. These tell who we really are at our core.

Take time to explore the Psalms and see the context in which David is often asking God to listen to him. David shares his loneliness, fears, discouragement, and his anger as well his joy. Sharing good stuff is part of intimacy also. Our dreams, hopes, laughter, and praise all come from within us, sometimes deep within us. David shares it all with God and in doing so connection happens. Intimacy is strengthened. He cries out for God to listen to him. God’s response seems to be to listen and accept.

See the picture? David is sitting in the safe intimacy of God as his Rock, Refuge, Fortress and pouring out his heart in all his pain, hurt and even ugliness and God is just holding and LISTENING to David in that safe refuge.

This is intimacy with God. And it is what exists in an intimate relationship with others. Someone listening to the cry of our heart, just listening and understanding and accepting.

So we find another piece of a wonderful invitation God gives us through David! God invites us to be heard and known while sitting in the Rock, Refuge and Fortress!

Intimacy: Knowing God as your Rock.

What will recovery be like knowing God in a way in which we are listened to, loved, and accepted? We can sit and look Jesus in the eye and share our deepest struggles.

What will recovery be like listening to and being listened to by others? Knowing others in a way in which they hear our hearts. We can sit and look one another in the eye and share our deepest struggles. How powerful is that in recovery?

In your recovery pursue the path of true intimacy with all your being. This is not a command from God but it is an invitation. Terrifying, in our sin to be sure, but it is what we were created for and it will bring real fulfillment and a strong recovery.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5

Avoiding Concealment: Living Your Days as an Open Book

Kent Ernsting

Steve got caught. He and Amy were married several years when she found porn images popping up on their home computer that he thought he’d deleted. He told her that it must have come in attached to an e-mail or something. A couple of weeks later she caught him looking at Internet porn when she normally was asleep. She was devastated, especially that he had concealed this from her and that he had deceived her.

Steve learned the hard way that keeping certain things concealed, like his struggle with sexually compulsive behavior, led to real problems. He found out that in darkness his compulsive and addictive behaviors grew and multiplied, a bit like mushrooms grow in a dark environment. Steve began to do the right thing. He took responsibility for his behavior and admitted that what he was doing was wrong. He changed his behavior and recommitted to Amy. Both Steve and Amy wanted the same thing, the restoration of their relationship. Both wanted the restoration of trust, reparation of the breech that had formed a wedge in their marriage. But how could he restore his relationship to Amy?

Steve took stock of what happened between them. The dishonesty that he had spoken to her had promoted distrust. He held on to secrets that had created an emotional and spiritual gulf between them. His secrets had led to him feeling guilty and ashamed about his behavior. He felt bad about himself and became afraid that if she knew what he had done then she would reject him. The lies and the deception were harder for her to take than his behavior and she began to doubt other areas where she had normally trusted him. She began to ask him lots of questions and whenever he was late she asked him where he had been and what he had been doing. Steve realized that he had to live his life in an open manner.

He began to recover from his compulsive behavior when he talked about it with other men who understood what he was going through. He attended a weekly group with other men who were recovering from compulsive and addictive behavior. From them he learned that he wasn’t the only one who struggled with lust and found out that it reduced his shame when he talked with them. He started to meet with an accountability partner who encouraged him with words like, ‘Good job, thanks for telling me about the struggle you’re having.’ He also found that his emerging spirituality helped him to resist cravings that he had previously struggled to overcome. He asked God to search his heart and know him and show him anything that was preventing him from living in the light.

He began to feel better about himself and he was able to lie down to sleep knowing that he had lived in integrity that day. Steve also found it helpful to meet monthly with his spiritual mentor who encouraged openness in their relationship with one another. Steve found that in order for Amy to trust him he had to tell her the truth, even when it hurt to be honest. One day she asked him if he had deposited a check into their account that he had said that he would do. He knew that she would be disappointed with him when he admitted that he hadn’t gotten to the bank that day. But he also knew that if he concealed that fact in order to avoid her temporary displeasure, he risked a much greater loss when she eventually saw the bank statement and realized that he had lied to her. He knew that he had to be open with her about the little things as well as the big things.

Steve found that he had been hiding more than just his behavior from Amy. He had been hiding his true feelings from her as well. As a result, she really didn’t know a whole lot about him. He decided not to conceal his core from her, he decided not to pretend, and he disclosed more of his true self to her. The irony of it was that when he dropped his mask and let her in, she responded well and began to accept him as he was, even with his blemishes. She loved him for who he was and they began to experience true intimacy. He found that honesty and mutual acceptance became the foundation of the intimacy they had longed to have with each other.

For help, please see Every Man’s Battle.
If you have already attended Every Man’s Battle, take the next step–healing for your marriage–by attending the New Life Weekend.

Celebrating God's Attributes: His Goodness

Gary Burkle

One of the blessings of being a child of God is the imparting, by God, of some of His attributes into the believer. The holy Spirit is the indwelling presence of God in the believer. “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16-17)

When we accept Christ as Savior, He sends the Holy Spirit, the counselor, to live within us. We know some of the significant attributes of the Holy Spirit from Galatians 5:22…(“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, GOODNESS, faithfulness, and self-control”). Therefore, Goodness is one of the attributes God imparts to us as part of the gift of salvation.

We, then, can allow the Holy Spirit to affect us and our behavior through a series of conscious choices throughout our life. He helps make us GOOD.

This is one of the true blessings of accepting Christ as Lord and Savior. As we grow in our walk with God in the Christian life we become a better and better (a GOOD) person. This is a by-product of the Christian life-style. We humans are truly blessed to be able to participate with God in His goodness through this phenomenon.

We are able to access the attribute of God’s Goodness in our own life’s behaviors and actions by becoming more like Christ. We do this, in some measure, by developing the “Mind of Christ”

. “…the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) We develop the “Mind of Christ” by conversing with him through prayer, learning and internalizing His word (reading/studying the Bible), and through fellowship with fellow believers (the Church/smaller Christian groups). Certainly the indwelling “counselor,” “advisor,” the Holy Spirit helps us in this endeavor of having a Christian life-style.

Now let’s look at a practical application. Purity as a life-style choice: If we are struggling with sexual sin, purity in our life is the key to successful recovery. Purity in thought and deed is incompatible with continued sinning in the sexual area. Sinning in the sexual area of the Christian’s life is defined as sexual contact outside of marriage. In addition, the obsessive viewing of pornography resulting in dysfunctional levels of masturbation, qualifies as sexual sin. A sexually driven thought life is a tell-tale sign of these sins, as well. A sexually driven thought life objectifies the object of our lust and, therefore, dehumanizes a child of God. This is a sin, pure and simple. These inappropriate thoughts also often lead to sinful behaviors, and are incompatible with the holy living life-style urged by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is good and pure and demands that the believer adapt to His standards to allow His continued relationship with us. We must be good and pure to provide an appropriate home for the indwelling Holy Spirit. In turn, He will empower us to experience his attributes, such as goodness and purity, through his power.

To be sure, all humans will be tempted by inappropriate and/or sinful thoughts. There is a spiritual war going on all around us. Part of that spiritual war is the bombardment of our minds with tempting images or thoughts. This can be complicated and exacerbated in our minds if we have engaged in sexual sin in the past.

The more sin we have been involved in, the more challenging images and thoughts we must deal with. In our past sexual sin, we have moved from the tempting thoughts or “triggers” into sinful behaviors, as described above. The more we have done this sexual sinning, the more difficult our struggle for goodness and purity will be now. Most of us need help in this “battle”.

The best answer to successfully combat these maladaptive thoughts and behaviors is found in the principles taught in the Every Man\’s Battle workshops. The practical teachings available in the EMB workshops are the best hope for an individual’s successful recovery process. Successful recovery is defined as sexual purity or sexual sobriety.

The principles taught in EMB are tried-and-true principles based on the addiction model. These principles work when diligently applied by the individual. The true key to the success of the EMB workshop model, however, is that it is Biblically based. The EMB workshop model is, at root, based on Biblical truth, and therefore, represents the best hope for success. God bless you in your “Battle.” It is worth the fight.

Ministering Through Our Experience of Recovery

Pastor Ed Grant

I began counseling Sarah almost eight years ago. Her addictions and self destructive behavior were misguided attempts to keep her painful feelings at bay, to keep her ‘in the land of numb’. Recovery has been an inch by inch experience as we plumbed the depths of her painful past. Despite some occasional emotional struggles and setbacks, she and her husband now have a marriage neither could have imagined before they began the journey toward recovery together.

As our congregation prepares to begin ‘Celebrate Recovery’, a wonderful program based on the Beatitudes, I asked Sarah to lead the group for sexually abused women. Though she stills struggles with the shame of her past she sincerely desires to use her experience to help others. Recently she said to me, ‘It would be a shame not to use my experience to help others.’

Satan’s purpose is to keep us bound in the shame of our sins and secret past, isolated from God and from one another.

God’s intention for our recovery was demonstrated most clearly on the cross when He defeated sin, death and the devil. The open tomb on Easter declared to the world God’s power to rescue those held by death’s bonds and by the devil’s lies, to free them to experience His amazing, unconditional love.

St. Paul writes, ‘He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.‘ (Col.2:13b-15).

The scars on His resurrected body became the evidence of Jesus’ triumph. Ministering to others through our recovery requires that we show them our scars. God has chosen to use our scars and the vulnerability it takes to show them to offer hope, wisdom, encouragement and warning to those embarking on the journey toward recovery.

Our scars give hope.
Ted Rose, a former elder who has gone home to be with Jesus, loved to visit the sick and shut-ins. Once he visited a man who was to undergo heart surgery the following day. He was visibly shaken at the thought of having his body cut open. Ted offered to pray with the man and to show his own scar from heart surgery. Seeing Ted’s scar had a very calming effect. Our scars show the world that we survived our wounds and that there can be healing for those whose wounds are still bleeding.

Our scars offer wisdom.
It is important that we learn from our mistakes, but heaven help us if it is the only way we learn! How much better to learn from the mistakes of others. King David sinned and, for a time, was in denial about it. God’s hand was heavy upon him until he finally came clean about his secret sin. After he confessed his sin and received forgiveness he wrote, ‘8I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. 9Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.‘ (Psalm 32).

The mistakes we have made can serve as warnings to those considering a short-cut to recovery. Our failures can expose the traps and pitfalls Satan conceals from view.

Our scars offer encouragement.

Those beginning recovery usually have a difficult time receiving God’s love for them because of an overwhelming sense of shame. Those who bare their scars give great encouragement to accept what cannot now be felt. Their scars testify to the healing power that flows from God’s loving touch. When the walking wounded see us and hear our candid testimonies they are encouraged to believe that God could love even them.

Paul often recalls his past life for this very purpose: ‘15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. 16But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.‘(1 Timothy 1:15-16).

To Titus he wrote, ‘12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 13Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

As we share our scars with the wounded I believe that God continues to work healing in our own lives. Certainly the telling of our stories and the response we receive dispels the commonly held belief: ‘If you really knew me you wouldn’t love me’. We are refreshed and encouraged as we see the way God uses our scars to touch the lives of others.

When we get to heaven and see Jesus, we will gaze upon His scars. They are ‘the marks of love the Father chose never to erase.’ (Michael Card)