Only Human or Superman?

Jesus looked at them and said, With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. – Matthew 19:26

Only Human or Superman

It might be disappointing to you, but the truth is, you’re only human. You may think of yourself as Superman or Superwoman–until you discover a flaw. And the danger then is that you’ll come crashing down and see yourself as completely worthless. But seeing the whole truth about yourself means accepting your humanity and realizing your great  potential in Christ.

The prophet Elijah is one of the great men and heroes of the Bible. If any man had reason to feel superhuman, it was him. His prayers brought a lengthy drought upon Israel–and then brought fire down from heaven–which humiliated Queen Jezebel and her priests who worshiped Baal. But even Elijah could have a bad day. Listen to his reaction after Queen Jezebel threatened him:

I have had enough, Lord . . . Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors . . . I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their  covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I alone am left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:4, 10)

If you’re able to do superhuman things, it’s because God gives you the power to do so. Even those who are used powerfully by God must always realize they are only human. If you fail to see the truth that you’re only human, you’re at great risk during the times when life reminds you of that fact.

– Steve Arterburn

Some days you’re the bug. Some days you’re the windshield.” – Unknown

Developing Self-Control

Be self-controlled and alert. 1 Peter 5:8a

Developing Self-Control

Developing self-control will help you tremendously as you seek to follow and become more like Jesus. And what we learn in the Bible is that self-control is both a fruit of the Spirit and a part of a larger progression of spiritual growth.

Peter, who learned some difficult lessons about self-control himself wrote this: “Your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better. Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness. Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

Where are you struggling to exert some self-control? Are you struggling to control your temper with your husband, wife, or kids? Are you struggling to work diligently? Or maybe you work so diligently on the job you feel you’re entitled to spend your evenings playing video games, watching TV, or closing the door of communication with your family. Are you having a hard time living without that drink? How about your eating or spending habits? I could go on and on, but I think you catch my drift.

Self-control is a “fruit” that grows in your life when you cling closely to God, allowing his Spirit to flow through you. As you persevere, God will develop his own character in you, including self-control. And remember, you’re not alone. Seek help from your pastor, a wise friend, or a counselor–God has put these people in your life to help you in your efforts to be faithful.

– Steve Arterburn

The greatest strength and wealth is self-control.” – Pythagoras (6th century B.C.)

Silence

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 1 Peter 2:15

Silence

Have you ever hung up the phone or left a conversation and felt like you said too much? Have you ever wished you could take back something you said? We often learn the hard way that words can cause pain and create problems.

One way to refine your use of words is by routinely practicing the discipline of silence.

Take a day to monitor your conversations. Spend some time in silence to reflect on how you’ve used and abused words. Do you use words to rationalize, lie, deceive, exaggerate, or manipulate? In silence you’ll remember the words you spoke quickly in anger and slowly in apology, arrogantly in accusation and humbly in confession. In silence you’ll begin to hear and you’ll begin to experience his renewal.

Then you can begin to make changes where necessary. People recovering from heart attacks are often counseled to bring quiet into their lives by speaking less often and more slowly when they do speak. Such discipline has been proven to reduce stress and ease tension. And most importantly it can help you use your words in ways that encourage others and please God.

– Steve Arterburn

Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.” – George Eliot (1819–1880)

Gifts And Gratitude

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Gifts And Gratitude

There’s a real danger in thinking your spiritual gifts are blessings God has given you for your own benefit. The problem with this selfish viewpoint is that you see your use of these as an option or luxury that you neglect or use according to your will alone. That’s a far cry from a biblical understanding, which sees your spiritual gifts as expressions of gratitude God wills for you to use in service to others.

The Bible teaches that God gives us spiritual gifts so we can give to others. We use our gifts to continue Christ’s work on earth. The apostle Paul wrote: A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. His point: your gifts aren’t your possessions. Yes, they’ve been entrusted to you, but actually, they belong to the community of believers. The truth we need to think about is that God has woven a unique design into each of our hearts. And our spiritual gifts are part of that fabric.

So, what are your spiritual gifts? Not sure? Read the Bible’s teaching on spiritual gifts in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. Then ask yourself where you’ve felt the greatest satisfaction serving the Lord. Carefully thinking through that question will go a very long way in clarifying this issue; because when you do what you love in order to show God’s love, you’ll find spiritual fulfillment and renewal.

– Steve Arterburn

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, I used everything you gave me.” – Erma Bombeck (1927–1996)

Our Shield of Togetherness

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Facing Up to Our Wrongs

Alone we’re vulnerable to temptation. Together, however, we form a shield of protection for one another. God wants you and I to grow spiritually in a network of mutual commitment and accountability, where we help each other to think and live in new ways.

The apostle Paul wrote, “In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan” (Ephesians 6:16). The shield of faith was likened to the shields carried by Roman soldiers, which were able to cover the entire body. To advance in battle, a group of soldiers would assemble together, making a wall of shields for protection as they moved forward.

Similarly, we’re told to stick together. The author of Hebrews wrote, “Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other” (Hebrews 10:25). Our encouragement of one another and our shared faith in God and his Word will serve as the shield we need to persevere in tough times.

Who is standing beside you in the everyday battles of your life? Are you alone on the field or do you have trusted friends on each side? If you’re alone, how is that working out for you? Who has God called you to stand beside?

– Steve Arterburn

If I have seen farther than other men, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton (1642–1727)

A Daughter’s Letter to Her Dad

dear-dad

 

I want to let you know first of all that I love you and forgive you for what this has done in my life. I also wanted to let you know exactly what your porn use has done to my life. You may think that this effects only you, or even your and mom’s relationships. But it has had a profound impact on me and all of my siblings as well.

I found your porn on the computer somewhere around the age of 12 or so, just when I was starting to become a young woman. First of all, it seemed very hypocritical to me that you were trying to teach me the value of what to let into my mind in terms of movies, yet here you were entertaining your mind with this junk on a regular basis. Your talks to me about being careful with what I watched meant virtually nothing.

Because of pornography, I was aware that mom was not the only woman you were looking at. I became acutely aware of your wandering eye when we were out and about. This taught me that all men have a wandering eye and can’t be trusted. I learned to distrust and even dislike men for the way they perceived women in this way.

As far as modesty goes, you tried to talk with me about how my dress affects those around me and how I should value myself for what I am on the inside. Your actions however told me that I would only ever truly be beautiful and accepted if I looked like the women on magazine covers or in porn. Your talks with me meant nothing and in fact, just made me angry.

As I grew older, I only had this message reinforced by the culture we live in. That beauty is something that can only be achieved if you look like “them”. I also learned to trust you less and less as what you told me didn’t line up with what you did. I wondered more and more if I would ever find a man who would accept me and love me for me and not just a pretty face.

When I had friends over, I wondered how you perceived them. Did you see them as my friends, or did you see them as a pretty face in one of your fantasies? No girl should ever have to wonder that about the man who is supposed to be protecting her and other women in her life.

I did meet a man. One of the first things I asked him about was his struggle with pornography. I’m thankful to God that it is something that hasn’t had a grip on his life. We still have had struggles because of the deep-rooted distrust in my heart for men. Yes, your porn watching has affected my relationship with my husband years later.

If I could tell you one thing, it would be this: Porn didn’t just affect your life; it affected everyone around you in ways I don’t think you can ever realize. It still affects me to this day as I realize the hold that it has on our society. I dread the day when I have to talk with my sweet little boy about pornography and its far-reaching greedy hands. When I tell him about how pornography, like most sins, affects far more than just us.

Like, I said, I have forgiven you. I am so thankful for the work that God has done in my life in this area. It is an area that I still struggle with from time to time, but I am thankful for God’s grace and also my husband’s. I do pray that you are past this and that the many men who struggle with this will have their eyes opened.

love-daughter

 

 

 

 

*This has been posted anonymously due to the nature of the topic.*

This letter was provided by Luke Geraty, founding and managing editor of ThinkTheology.com.

Thank You Letter From An EMB Wife

This is a letter we received from an EMB wife whose husband went to the Every Man’s Battle Workshop in 2014.

Dear Steve,

I cannot thank you enough for what happened to my husband at Every Man’s Battle last weekend.

We have been married for 44 years. We have 9 precious children. Most of my marriage has been almost intolerable. I tolerated the intolerable until I found out that I was worth love. God’s love.

My husband’s dad baptized him in the pool of pornography at a very young age. In that baptismal pool all of his five senses were stopped (except for his ability to see himself and his needs). He had no ears to hear me or others. No eyes to see. No heart. I felt hopeless except for trusting God for a miracle. Nothing I said would be heard.

He abandoned me for a total of 10 years while he gave himself to his hobby. Everything was my fault to him. It took a crisis in our marriage 14 years ago for me to start to get strong. I have been on a journey. I went back in your archives and have listened to every one of your shows. I can’t thank you enough.

I required my husband to attend Every Man’s Battle last weekend. I got a new husband when he came back! I got my miracle!

Thank you Jason! Thank you New Life! Thank you Jesus!

My husband has come back and he talked to our two oldest sons yesterday and is going to talk to all of our children. We are giving them your book “Every Man’s Battle. We are going to stop this generational curse. We are building the walls!

Thank you so much!

Reaching Out – The Best Way I know to Give Back

giving-back
Hey Guys,

Sexual things/images—do you ever think they control you instead of you controlling them?

Here is an upcoming national workshop that is going to be held in Indianapolis, IN the first weekend of April.  I attended this workshop fourteen years ago in CA, and found it to be a great resource that equipped me with the tools needed to win the daily battle of sexual integrity in my life.  

Sexual things/images are being shot at us in every direction, so it seems.  Quite often I find other guys that are wanting to win this internal battle, too, but like I used to think, they feel like they just need to try harder or pray more.  Prior to attending “Every Man’s Battle”, I didn’t know and wasn’t using all the tools that God has available for those that are wanting to find true freedom. God created my sexual being as VERY GOOD, but the one problem was I hadn’t been taught or trained to use it for good, as our society primarily  promotes it from “it’s all about my pleasure” negative worldly view.  There is a lot more to my story that I’m open to discussing with anyone.

If you are interested in the “Every Man’s Battle” (EMB) workshop click on the link below.  Any full time pastor can attend free of charge.  If you have interest, but financially don’t know how you can make it work, give me a call or send me an email.

http://newlife.com/emb/workshop/

Satan desires for you and me to be in bondage-while GOD has put a plan in place for us to experience true freedom.

Is pride and fear keeping you stuck in bondage? In Christ you can break the chains as you step out of your comfort zone. 

If you are wanting a deeper/richer sexual life with your wife that has a WOW factor, GOD has the plan.  As for me, the awesome rewards thus far have outweighed  the work that it has taken Renee & I to get from point A to point B.  It’s a working art in progress.

To me it seems like the “Church” has missed the mark as this isn’t an issue that is commonly talked about.  Is that the reason why the foundation of marriage is failing?  Can the divorce rates (according to the Barna Research Group that are just as strong for Christian marriages as non-Christian marriage) be changed?  What can I/we do to protect our marriages and reverse this trend?  Do you know who’s plan you are using, GOD’s or the world’s? I strongly sense we are being massively deceived into believing Lucifer’s craftiness as he continues his master plan of deception. Terrible things happen, relationships are damaged, wounds are deep – but God has a plan for healing, restoration and transformation!

Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.” Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.” “Don’t you understand yet?”Jesus asked.  Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart-that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.” – Mathew 15:10-20 NLT

The Bible is teaching me new things about good vs. evil.

It’s not the sexual images that makes me sinful or defiles me in of its self, it’s the process of how I allow my mind/heart/spirit to filter those images that then has the potential of either luring me towards sinful actions of lusting/acting out. It’s only when I willingly choose in each moment to strive to live not for my own physical pleasure that I then am able to be a mirror reflection of my Creator and bring a smile upon HIS (my Daddy’s) face and HE communicates to me “Well Done Robb, I love it when you willing choose good. The actions or your heart enables me to know that you love ME”.

Thanks for being willing to read and entertain my passions and convictions.  Challenging thoughts are welcome . . .  

Sowing Seeds for God’s Harvest,

Robb

What is 12-Step Recovery?

 

12-steps-recovery.newlife

As a seminary graduate and pastor, I was skeptical about much of psychology and recovery programs. I did learn a little more when I watched My Name is Bill W.–the story of the man who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous–but not much. I suspected that group meetings were touchy-feely, superficial gripe sessions that allowed addicts to blame everyone else in their lives for their problems. My greatest reservation stemmed from the commitment to speak of the generic ‘higher power’ instead of acknowledging Jesus Christ as the true life-changing power.

My views changed immediately and dramatically when a new job required a visit to a substance abuse rehab center. I found myself sitting in a group therapy session with men and women from their late teens to 60’s. They came from upper class homes, middle class working families, and the streets. I was amazed that they treated each other as true peers. Their pointed questions and frank confessions scared me, but I recognized that this is what real conversion looks like’people struggling with real guilt having no other hope than experiencing genuine rescue through faith in Jesus Christ. In short, they were living in true Christian community.

12-step recovery is biblical:

In my personal Bible study, I have found the principles that supported the steps. I finally became convinced that the steps were biblical when I recognized that Paul made his confession in 1 Timothy 1:15 as the result of completing the work of the 4th step: ‘Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.’ In verses 8-11, Paul outlines the basis for a searching moral inventory: the 10 Commandments. He then confesses, ‘I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man’.’ In verse 15, Paul then explains why he can complete his moral inventory without fear: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’of whom I am the worst.’ Later, I recognized the prodigal son experienced the admission expressed in the first step when he came to his senses. The 5th step is completely in keeping with James’ instruction in his letter: ‘Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.’ The 12 Steps help addicts face their sin and apply the remedy of the Gospel.

12-step recovery is progressive:

Working the steps requires following a process that moves the addict from a life of isolation to healthy relationships with others. In working the first 3 steps, you recognize the futility of your efforts to overcome your addiction by your own efforts and acknowledge your total dependence upon the Lord for help. In steps 4 through 6, you face the reality of your own brokenness due to sin and declare your readiness to have God transform you through the Gospel. In steps 7, 8, and 9, you work to repair the relationships that have been broken as a result of your addiction. In the final 3 steps, you work to advance the work already by growing in your knowledge of God and sharing what you’ve experienced with other addicts

12-step recovery is not self-help:

Anyone who hopes to end addiction must work the steps personally, but cannot work the steps without help from others. Groups urge members to find a sponsor/mentor who has already worked the steps or a partner who can work them at the same time in order to provide accountability for working the steps. Demonstrating a willingness to be in relationship through the steps is one of the most important foundations for completing the work. You are choosing to end the hiding and isolation. You must begin by deepening your relationship with God first. If I don’t really trust Jesus, then I won’t be able to trust His people. In the group meeting, you invite the other members to walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death. Knowing the God Who has walked that valley first is essential.

12-step recovery is an adventure:

The function of a 12-step group is not a precise science, as group veterans will attest. There are healthy and unhealthy groups. A healthy group fosters wholeness as the members progress through the steps. An unhealthy group permits members to repeat the same confessions they have made previously. Healthy groups can have unproductive meetings and unhealthy groups can have productive meetings.

The single greatest factor influencing a group’s health and effectiveness is the commitment of each member to work the steps. Members must help each other face the external and internal triggers that make up their patterns of addiction. Each person experiences moments of strength and of weakness’moments when it seems much easier to return to the life of denial and blame-shifting than to keep growing by answering that difficult question that has just been posed.

Following the well-trod path outlined by the 12 Steps will help you to escape the pattern of self-defeating behavior that has dominated your life and prevented you from experiencing wholeness through faith in Christ.

If you struggle with alcohol or drugs, we can help — call 800-NEWLIFE (800-639-5433).

If you struggle is with sexual integrity, please see Every Man’s Battle.

Hope for the Broken Marriage

(A ‘broken marriage’ – in the context I am writing – is one damaged by sexually inappropriate conduct.)

mended-heartThere are a growing number of broken marriages in the United States today. Men, and a rapidly increasing number of women, are falling prey to the schemes of pornographers and a culture saturated in sexual gratification at the expense of moral integrity. These couples regularly lie to each other in order to keep their sin a secret. The more they lie the further they drift apart emotionally. The further apart they drift the wider the crevice of brokenness expands. Given enough time, the chasm between them seems an insurmountable obstacle. Thus, many couples who eventually wake up to the reality of their broken marriage feel they have fallen too far apart for any reasonable expectation of real healing and reconciliation.

As more and more broken couples reach out for help, too many are not finding what they really need to rebuild their relationship. Why? No one seems to be offering them the foundational element of long-term healing: hope. A host of well-intentioned counselors and pastors see a hurting, broken couple sitting on the couch in their office and immediately begin strategizing the best techniques to remedy the numerous problems of communication, finances, or sex they might be facing. What is wrong with this approach? Without casting a vision of hope, the counselor or pastor is simply offering a band aid as the solution for the gaping wound in the broken marriage. Broken marriages need hope for long-term healing and restoration.

There are many challenges to assisting spouses in a broken marriage to embrace hope. First, trust is always damaged in a broken marriage, and as such each spouse is reluctant to move toward the other for fear of being wounded even more deeply. Second, most couples suffering broken marriages have little, if any, ability to communicate well with one another. They have each learned to place their own interests first, thus making communication a tool to manipulate his/her spouse to achieve his/her self-centered agenda. Finally, the sheer distance created between spouses through lying and hiding makes it difficult for the couple to imagine closeness as God designed it.

Does it seem like the deck is stacked against the couple in a broken marriage? Only if you believe God is incapable of dealing them a new hand. And this is where hope must be reborn (or birthed for the first time) for those suffering the broken marriage. A couple must believe that God is able to heal, willing to restore, and desirous to make all things new. Spouses in a broken marriage must embrace the truth, individually and as a couple, that God can bring beauty from ashes and breathe life into their ashen relationship. Hope, true hope, is born in the one who begins to expect God to fulfill His promises even when it appears the situation is beyond repair. Hope sees beyond circumstance and anchors itself on the certainty of God’s Word.

So, how does a couple suffering from a broken marriage actually embrace this kind of hope? Surprisingly, this type of hope is gained through brokenness. That’s right. The couple who wakes up one day and realizes the extent to which their marriage has been broken is closer to hope than they might know. But such a realization and appropriation of hope cannot come without outside intervention and guidance.

Most couples can experience brokenness without any help from anybody else. In fact, it comes naturally to those who allow sexual sin to infiltrate their union. But hope, healing, and a rebuilt marriage must involve external influence. Of course, there must be the touch of God if true and lasting healing is to occur. But there must also be the instruction and guidance of wise counselors and friends to help a broken marriage be rebuilt. Without such influence the probability of the couple drifting back to old patterns of deception and self-centeredness is virtually certain.

In choosing those to counsel the broken couple, the determining factor is truth. Invite truth-tellers in; reject falsehood. How can such a broken couple determine what is the truth and what isn’t? Through the benchmark of truth, God’s Word. God never lies. Never. If particular counsel does not match up with God’s Word, it is not good for the healing of the broken marriage. And such false instruction does more to damage hope than to encourage it. Truth, though it may require painful self-examination, will always lead to the path of freedom. And freedom (from deception, bitterness, fear, and self-centeredness) is exactly what the broken marriage needs in order to rebuild to a healthy, whole, ‘oneness’ union.

Why is hope so important in this process of healing the broken marriage? Because without hope it is easy to become discouraged. Healing a broken marriage is not easy. It takes time, sacrifice, endurance, and hard work. When the road gets bumpy it is hope that reminds the couple that their efforts will not be in vain. It is hope that reminds them that God is good, patient, and loving even when this appears not to be true. And it is hope that encourages the couple that what they are working toward will be more beautiful than anything they had in the past. This is the importance of hope for the broken marriage.

God promises a good return for those who invest in seeking hope. Amazingly, the Bible even tells us that we can ‘rejoice in our sufferings.’ Why? Because ‘suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.’ (Rom. 5:3-5) The benefit to pressing through the suffering of a broken marriage and pursuing hope to rebuild is that the love of God will increasingly abound. True love, true intimacy, and true joy can be experienced even by those whose marriages have been broken by sexual lust and unfaithfulness.

If you are living in a broken marriage, begin today to ask God to lead you and your spouse to hope. Keep a watchful eye for wise counselors and friends who can help you persevere, build character, and invest in hope. The small steps you take today toward a new attitude of hope will produce long-term benefits that far outweigh the current momentary sacrifice. And even if circumstances do not progress in the manner or time frame you expect, you can know that the hope you gain in Christ is not in vain because movement toward God is always movement in the right direction.

‘May the God of all hope 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.’
(Rom. 15:13)

We would like to help you in your journey of finding hope and healing. Please consider attending our upcoming Marriage Solution Workshop or getting a copy of some of our resources. Read what previous attendees of our Marriage Solution Workshop are saying. Call us on 800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433), we can help.