Knowing the ROCK; Knowing TRUE Intimacy in Recovery: Part 5

David Mackey

Psalm 31:4”free me from the trap set before me’

Once more let’s review: Just as false intimacy was part of what helps maintain our addiction, TRUE intimacy will strengthen our recovery. 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 found that in knowing God as our rock we are free from shame and we are listened to with acceptance and understanding. These are pieces, deep pieces, of having an ‘In-To-Me-See,’ an intimacy relationship.

We also discovered that in knowing God as our Rock, He leads and guides us in preparation for Battle.

In verse 4 of Psalm 31, David, reveals the last facet of intimacy which we look at in this series. As with Shame, being listened to and guided, David, throughout the Psalms, repeatedly, equates knowing God as his Rock, Refuge, and Fortress, with safety or being free from traps.

Perhaps if we asked the average Christian what it meant to know God as his rock he would likely come up with this connection. The idea of sitting on a solid Rock in the midst of storm and turmoil is a comfort to so many. Our hymns and songs over the years are full of this comforting imagery.

For us, in this battle, this piece of intimacy seems even more significant. Our battle usually starts out with a trap. It seemed so innocent to curiously look at some pictures. What child/young teen could have ever envisioned the imprisonment set before them? Now, 20 or more years later as we break free from the imprisonment we have more traps than ever all around us.

Think about this idea we look at our battle. Psalm 31:4 says ”free me from the trap set before me.’ What a thought. Indeed, the simple natural feeling and act of masturbation became a trap. It worked best with images’ seemingly simple little pictures. What harm could that be? Yet the trap was so sure, so strong. It kept us ensnared for the trapper to come and the trapper eventually would have taken our life, our very soul.

So to be offered by God a relationship with Him and with others that involves freedom from those traps is remarkable and so very needed.

We could not’. Tho we tried for so long’ we could not free ourselves from the trap. Only intimacy can do it!! Intimacy, true intimacy, with God and with others can seem like a lot of work, especially after so many years of false intimacy. A lot of emotional work. ‘In-To-Me-See’ is often hard and painful but it is real and it brings real connection, real passion. The free stuff is a trap. It is false and once trapped it is difficult to get away from. You cannot do it alone. You need someone to free you from that trap. God offers that freedom in true intimate relationship with Him. He offers it in knowing and being known by him intimately and by knowing and being known by others intimately.

We need the power of intimacy with God AND with others to be free from the trap. And we need, we must have, true intimacy with God AND with others to avoid falling into the snare, the trap once again.

This is so critical. The traps, the snares, as we know, are many and they sometimes seem constant, daily, and all around us.

So this concludes our look at just 4 aspects of intimacy, or knowing God as our Rock, Refuge and Fortress. Amazing love‘ the song says’ How can it be!!! God, the creator of the universe, Jesus who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords offer us INTIMACY. True intimacy in which we are free from shame, free from traps. Where we are listened to, understood and accepted as God’s child (He wants to be ‘Abba,’ Daddy!) and Jesus be brother and friend. Amazing love!!

And in this relationship he will lead and guide us through the battle. We will, while in intimate relationship with HIM and intimate relationship with others WIN THE BATTLES. Eventually, with Him as our rock, our refuge, and our fortress, we will win the war.

Once again I invite you to, in your recovery, pursue the path of true intimacy with all your being. Remember, this is not as much 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 and the Battles will be won!

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

For more help on this subject see Every Man\’s Battle.

Behavior Change And Heart Change

Dave McWilliams

Most of us, at one time or another, have wished that we were a different person. These thoughts may come to us when things are not going well or in times when we are in trouble. We may feel shallow or inadequate in these times. Our behavior may have been offensive or unacceptable to others, and we may be embarrassed or overcome with guilt.

Change is very difficult for all of us. What about those of us who have gone through devastating situations, such as a hurricane or flooding, where we have lost a lot of what we own. Perhaps we have moved to a new location and changed jobs, and everything is now different. We can feel lost and left out in many ways. Things may never be the same again. Or we may have lost a friend who has been very close to us and supported us in many ways, and the pain is almost unbearable.

When it comes to making personal changes in our lives, it can be just as difficult. Often the focus is on changing our behaviors and our habits, but these are often not long lasting. As an example, many of us have made New Year’s resolutions, only to abandon them within a few weeks, because it was too difficult to maintain the new behaviors and habits. More often than not, our efforts are pointed at negative habits and behaviors and we put a lot of effort into trying to avoid them. It often does not occur to us to ask ourselves what to do to replace these behaviors.

While heart changes are more lasting, they cannot be made all at one time. They are not an event, but a process or a journey. In the mean time, we cannot ignore our behavior that is offensive to others or destructive to ourselves. If we are an alcoholic, or a gambler, or we struggle with pornography, our behaviors should not be excused while working on building our character.

The apostle Paul talked about making changes in our lives in Colossians 2:20-3:17. He pointed out that when we try to make changes in our lives through rules and regulations, or by trying to restrict our poor behaviors, failure is soon to follow. In his day (as in our time) people would say ‘don’t touch’ or ‘ don’t taste’, which really is nothing more than mere human effort to control our poor indulgences. But Paul pointed out that these rules and restrictions ‘lack any value in restraining our sensual indulgences’ (Col.2:23).

The best phase of our life to focus on restricting our poor behaviors is childhood. The duty of good parenting is to help us to recognize what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. The down side to this process is that no parent has it all together as to what is good and bad behavior. When we made poor choices, the way that they were managed had an effect on us, some positive, and others were destructive. The guilt that followed those destructive attempts to change our behavior will remain in our minds for many years until we are finally freed from them. While our minds are filled with the thoughts of guilt, we seldom have the clarity of thought to find direction in our lives. Feelings of loss and confusion block us from finding our way.

Real and lasting change comes from a different place than focusing on our behavior. Lasting change comes from change in our hearts as we take the focus off ourselves and onto the needs and concerns of others as well as our own. Behavior change is external and is often done to deceive others, or to avoid our pain, etc. Heart change does not deny our behaviors, but focuses on internal and character change. Heart change has a purpose in mind that is greater than our own needs and desires. We begin to become aware of how our actions and choices effect others and their well being, as well as our own.

There is another powerful factor that is involved with making changes from the heart, and that is coming to the realization that we cannot do it on our own.

Real heart change comes only through the power of the Spirit of God working in our lives. This is different than behavior change, which is done mostly in our own human efforts. When our human efforts fail, we continue to carry enormous guilt. The opposite result comes as we focus on change from the heart. This change will usually result in freedom within our thoughts, thus giving us the ability to think about life situations much more clearly. We also refer to the results of this type of change as bringing us inner peace.

Paul talked about ways to achieve inner peace as we change from the heart. He sited several concepts of life that will help our hearts grow. Some of these things are compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and bearing with each other. There are many ways to display these principles to others. God did not assign to us only one way to carry out any of these life principles. These principles are found as we seek God’s direction in each and every circumstance in our lives. And as we display them, we let others decide how to use them effectively. For example, if we are going to be compassionate to our spouses, we will let them define the most effective way to show compassion, otherwise it is nothing more than a selfish act.

There is another benefit in changing from the heart. It takes a lot of the pressure out of life. Behavior change usually results in trying to achieve perfection, and usually trying to make it quickly to avoid pain. This is real stress and anxiety and worry over what others will think of us. It often leaves us angry and defensive with others, as they point out our flaws. Heart change accepts our flaws as a part of who we are in the moments that they are revealed. The pain is used to help us change and grow. But the growth process is done without a sense of urgency. Change becomes a journey that is at times slow but consistent. Our flaws and weaknesses are seen as opportunities to work with those flaws so that they become more acceptable to others. Thus, our weaknesses do not totally define us as a person.

For help with sexual integrity, see Every Man\’s Battle.
If you need help in other areas, please join us at our next New Life Weekend.

Challenging the Lies of the Heart

Bob Damrau

In Every Man\’s Battle the enemy has his crosshairs set on our minds. What we do comes out of what we believe about ourselves, and in order to have a new life, not just a change of destructive behavior, we must examine our current belief system.

Since our thoughts have sustained a barrage of evil deception, the process of renewing our minds requires us to challenge the lies of the heart.

Webster defines the term belief as: ‘to have trust in or confidence in what is true.’ When we have confidence and place our trust in something we thought was true but was actually a lie, we have a false belief system. When we have confidence and place our trust in something that bears witness to the truth, we have a true belief system. So, how can we know a true belief from a false one?

True beliefs are based on the Word of God; Truth. False beliefs are based on fear. True beliefs support the value and growth of an individual. False beliefs diminish the value and growth of an individual. True beliefs are proven true through life experiences. False beliefs are proven false by destructive, self preserving behaviors. True beliefs create peace and confidence. False beliefs create anxiety and exhaustion.

Our belief systems developed long before we became conscious of them. We believe our false beliefs to be true especially if we were told they were true by someone we trusted. These are called projected lies. For example, your mom told you: ‘You’re no good. You’re just like your drunken father. You’ll never amount to anything.’ Projected lies are when others take their own hurts and project them on to someone else.

Another source of the lies we believe comes from within. These are the lies we tell ourselves in order to survive’survival lies. If you grew up in a family that was abusive or neglectful, your needs were unsatisfied. The very act of having a need made you vulnerable. Being vulnerable put you in a position of being hurt. In time, as the hurts multiplied, you came up with a way to stop being vulnerable. You may have told yourself, ‘I don’t need anybody.’ So developed a survival lie that you don’t have any needs.

Those kinds of lies evolve into false belief systems that tend to control our lives even as adults. So, if we’ve bought into the thought that fierce independence is a good thing, our lives will be marked by isolation and feelings of loneliness. That emotional pain is an example of what we’ve tried to medicate through our acting out behaviors. By the way, most compulsions are ways to dull pain and anesthetize loneliness caused by isolating survival lies.

Challenging the lies of the heart requires identifying our false beliefs and how they are being manifested in our current behaviors, then replace them with truth.

Here’s a practical suggestion: Fold a sheet of paper in half from top to bottom. On the left side write out the lies you tend to believe. This may include thoughts on performance, approval, blame and shame. Then on the right side of the page write down God’s truths that contradict those lies. Check out Romans 5:1, 1 John 4:9-10, 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Colossians 1:21-22 for some examples. Reflect on your responses every day for one month.

Satan’s plan is to deceive our minds in the hope we will lose heart. But the Lord Jesus reminds us to ‘take courage; I have overcome the world’ and ‘the ruler of this world shall be cast out.’

Growing Deeper with Your Accountability Partner

Bob Parkins

If you have ever watched a documentary on wild animals, you probably know the two primary defenses these animals employ to protect themselves from predators. The animals that form herds or communities are constantly protected by their numbers. When attacked by prey, these animals flee danger together. It is those that don’t remain with the herd that are usually killed, typically the young, old, or weak.

1 Peter 5:8 describes our enemy [the devil] as a ‘roaring lion, who walks around, seeking someone to devour.’ This passage is not just an effective word-picture of the realities of daily temptation, but an important warning to flee and stick together.

Sticking together is absolutely an essential part of addiction recovery. James 5:16 tells us that in order to be healed, we need to be transparent with one another through confession. God created us to be in community and relationship with not just him, but one another.

Notice in Genesis 2, after God created Man, he created Woman because ‘it is not good that man be alone.’ God did not design us to be completely isolated from other people. Even though Adam was in intimate communion with God, he still was not complete until God gave him a partner.

Those who struggle with addictive behaviors especially tend to have difficulty forming and maintaining accountable relationships. They resist accountability because it is contrary to the way they have become comfortable living; they live as rugged individualists, or Lone Rangers. Most addicts don’t want to be held accountable. They don’t want anyone to look over their shoulder and want to be the boss of their own recovery program.

But those who do not remain accountable to others in their recovery simply don’t recover. This is not, however, just an issue of control; addicts are also hiding. Allowing another person access to look over your shoulder can leave one feeling somewhat naked or exposed. After hiding behind their masks for so long they have convinced themselves that no one will truly accept them the way they are – they are afraid of intimacy.

Accountability relationships should be supportive and encouraging relationships, although many do not fully utilize the support available to them. It is not uncommon for men to tell me they relapsed, and while they thought of calling their accountability partner for support, they didn’t. Sometimes they were afraid they would bother him, felt ashamed, or simply didn’t want to stop.

I once asked a group of men how they feel when they receive a call for support from their accountability partner. They told me they actually feel important when they are asked for help. It not only helps the person calling, but strengthens the partner as well. They feel valued, and more tightly bonded together as ‘brothers in arms.’ The Bible describes this as ‘iron sharpening iron'(Prov. 27:17).

For those who have difficulty calling their accountability partner when they are feeling tempted, I encourage you to call sooner. There comes a point when you already have decided to act out, and if a call for support is going to be made, it is essential to call way before reaching this point. One of the best ways to train yourself to call your accountability partner for help is to practice. Call your accountability partner when you have a victory. It is much easier to reach out when you feel victorious, rather than shamed. When you call before you are in trouble, it strengthens your confidence, relationship, and may help you prevail over or avoid temptation altogether. You are putting your fears to the test when you call your accountability partner and challenging those old beliefs that you will not be accepted as imperfect. How do you feel when your accountability partner calls you for help? If you feel at all valued, encouraged, strengthened, bonded or closer to him, chances are this is how he feels getting a call from you.

Together with your accountability partner, you are much more likely to succeed in your recovery (Ecc. 4:9-10; Prov. 17:17). For animals in the wild, fleeing danger together is a matter of life or death, and so it is also with us.

Need help finding an accountability partner? See Every Man\’s Battle.
For Drug and Alcohol help, see New Life’s Recovery Place.

God's Mercy vs. The band of bullies

Martin Fierro

Walking down the street you are heading towards home. It has been a delightful day with areas of victories and successes to be proud of. And then it happens before you can realize it: you are in danger. A bunch of guys come out, seemingly out of the blue, and surround you! This band of bullies begin the initial taunt and jeering of your character and personality. You stand there stunned asking yourself, how do they know my weaknesses like they do?

There is an obvious leader who decides to confront you by saying to you, ‘sissy, what are you going to do about it?’ Your heart races, and the fear for your life begins to take view asking yourself internally ‘What should I do? Where can I run to? Who is going to help me?’ So, the gang leader again approaches you and this time physically pushes you in the chest saying ‘loser, what are you going to do about it?’ And before you know it this bully has your arm twisted behind you back which causes an intense sharp pain in the arm as you crouch over facing the ground attempting to levy the pain away. Taking advantage of your position of weakness, the bully gets really close to your ear and whispers, ‘hey loser, what are you going to do now?’
This band of bullies are now in full force laughing and making belittling comments about who you are and your predicament. One of many probable thoughts running your head is how did I ever get into this? And more importantly, a thought that if I get out of this, I will never in my life time walk down this street again.

Feeling helpless, powerlessness, ambushed, overwhelmed, and fearful are common themes in recovery. Such experiences occur when sudden attacks corners us, like being surrounded by the band of bullies. Their main goal is to remind you of your past behavior and who you were when in the throngs of sexually acting out. This band of bullies knows nothing of edifying, encouraging, or mercy. For that is not their job. The band of bullies job is to remind you and distract you from the Truth that God has offered mercy for all your sins, even your sexual vices. And this band of bullies knows that if they can distract you enough from the Truth of mercy, emotionally you will spiral and not experience victory in your behavior, thoughts and feelings.

Mercy is a powerful word in that it is received, as it is accepted. God so desires you to grasp that His mercy is powerful and wants you to take it in to be part of you. When we sit in the shame and guilt of past behavior, tormenting thoughts and feelings feeds a defeated attitude. In that we then become polarized, stuck in the moment. U2, a famous rock band from Ireland, wrote a song entitled ‘Stuck in a moment’ which was written after a friend of the band completed suicide after a long battle with his ‘demons.’ Being ‘stuck in the moment’ is the twisting of the arm by the enemy–when we place our face to the ground in a powerless moment. But crying out for help and receiving that mercy from God empowers us to not be ‘stuck in the moment’ but moves us towards better and hopeful moments.

Being ‘stuck in the moment’ can be pure helplessness but not powerlessness. Your prayer life has a strong part in ushering the power of mercy into your life, and maybe more forgiveness towards yourself.

One can encourage people to take the mercy God offers, but it takes faith to accept that mercy in spite of life events and situations. God offers mercy to you irregardless of your situation brought on by you or by a band of bullies. Crying ‘uncle, UNCLE, UNCLE,’ will not release you from the enemies clutches. It is relying and believing on the mercy of God that you can say ‘Jesus help me’ or, ‘God help me,’ and/or ‘Holy Spirit, help me I am in danger’ –these prayers chase off the band of bullies.

God’s mercy is the element that will pick you up no matter what befalls you. It is the key to your accepting and receiving forgiveness from God. Even though He gives it, you have to receive it by faith.

Continuing with the introduction story: So you are facing the ground and the band of bullies are in full force, so you call out, ‘God help me.’ Then in a powerful quiet approach, three blurred figures come towards the band of bullies. This blurred three approaches with synchronized momentum as they come quickly from behind the leader of the band of bullies, who has no idea what is happening. But then he sees that his troupe is breaking apart and then running off, leaving him all by himself to deal with this blurred three which comes into focus as One. As He approaches, makes eye contact and states, ‘Flee, NOW.’ The leader releases your arm and struts off saying with a defiant attitude, ‘yeah, whatever, I’ll be back, you’ll see.’ As he walks away you fall to the ground narrowly miss hitting your face as your one un-injured arm supports the hard landing.

This Helper is now reaching out to you offering comfort and encouraging you to sit and recover because He will keep watch for you. You are too weak to get up now. ‘Rest with Me,’ He says. Then He reaches out and takes your arm over His shoulder and supports you to stand. He brushes you off, and walks with you home.

On the way home, you finally recognize who it is. It’s your Heavenly Father. ‘Dad’ you say, ‘I am so embarrassed, they made fun of me and all that I was.’ He responds, ‘First my child, I love you for who you are today and who you will become tomorrow and lastly I can assure you I will deal with that band of bullies in due time.’ He smiles and you both continue the walk home. ‘It is sure a long walk home,’ you say. He responds, ‘yes, but I am here right with you to support you if you let me, I wont force myself on you, please don’t do it alone.’

For help in the fight for sexual purity, see Every Man\’s Battle.

Sex and the Brain

Jayson Graves

‘WOW that felt good!’ This is a common cognition when a man has an orgasm, otherwise known as an ejaculation. What most people don’t know is why an orgasm feels so good. In fact, the reason it feels so incredible is the same reason why some men form addictive patterns at the neurological level in their brains through a process known as ‘conditioning.’

Remember back to your senior year of high school when you took basic Psychology 101 and your ‘cool-guy, disco-party man’ psych teacher told you about Pavlov and his dogs? Let me refresh you: Pavlov was a Russian scientist interested in the process of conditioning. He used his dogs and a bell. Pavlov would ring the bell and then feed his dogs, repeating this over and over again. After some time of this he discovered that when he rang his bell, the dogs would begin to salivate in anticipation of these tasty morsels. Herein lies the discovery of ‘Classical Conditioning.’

What happens at the neurological level in your brain when you become aroused also involves classical conditioning in that we have allowed our own ‘bells to be rung’ and as in the case of 98-99% of all men, have ‘fed the dog’ through masturbation, pornography or both. Here’s how.

A man typically becomes aroused in several ways and has the urge to be sexually gratified for various reasons, some legitimate according to the intention with which we are designed, some not. Whatever the case, when a man ejaculates he receives the most potent chemical reward the brain can achieve’the brain releases into his system the highest level of endorphins and enkephalins, naturally occurring ‘pleasure chemicals’ which are about 4 times stronger than morphine!

The average male begins masturbating around the ages of 10-14 at a rate of 2-7 times per week or more. In the first 20 years of his ‘career’ he will have had from 2,000 to 7,000 of these reinforcing experiences. What happens over this time on a neurological level in the brain is akin to an entrenchment process. Imagine if you were to dig a ditch between the street and sidewalk from your driveway down to the store on the corner. Everyday you walk in that ditch to buy the morning paper and over time that ditch gets deeper and wider to the point where even if you wanted to walk on the street or sidewalk, because of the erosion, there would be a tendency to fall back into the ditch. THIS IS THE ADDICTION in the hard-wiring of your brain.

What I try to do in my therapy with men recovering from sexually addictive patterns such as masturbation, pornography, adultery, etc is help them cut-off that old addictive route completely and to create a wholly new route of healthy sexuality and healing. We accomplish this by setting good boundaries. Boundaries are set around behaviors that absolutely cannot happen if sexual sobriety is to be maintained. Also, we set standards around what must absolutely happen behaviorally, emotionally and spiritually in order to maintain the full, healthy lifestyle God intended.

In terms of undoing unhealthy patterns there is a technique that can help decrease unwanted urges and impulses up to 80% in one month: it’s called the Rubber band technique. Simply take a rubber band that is thick enough so it won’t break easily (are you getting scared?) and keep it on your wrist. Don’t even take it off for bedtime, showers, or times when ‘you think you won’t need it.’ Whenever you catch yourself staring at someone lustfully or for more than 3 seconds, have the urge to masturbate, look at pornography, or act inappropriately, sinfully or otherwise act-out sexually, simply snap the band on the inside of your wrist. This will send a pain message to your brain (don’t worry, you don’t have to snap it so hard that you injure yourself) in a way that, where you used to ring the bell and feed the dog, it will now be a pattern more like ‘ring the bell, kick the dog!’

This is a helpful tool in the process of retraining your brain, helping you engage the fruit of the spirit, self-control and freeing yourself of a pattern you have created over the course of many years. Of course, it is important to consider therapy with a sexual addiction specialist and place yourself under the authority of a men’s recovery group that is healthy, willing to hold you accountable on a weekly basis, and allow you a place to connect with and serve others in a relationally healing way.

For help in the battle for sexual integrity, see Every Man\’s Battle.

What are the 4 Pillars of Purity?

Jonathan Daugherty

Most of us desire purity. We really do. Our heart longs for it, the Spirit of God within us points us to it, and the dissatisfaction of impurity confirms our longing. But how many of us, if we were honest, would have to admit that our desire for purity alone has not produced long-term results? To want purity is one thing, to walk in purity is quite another.

So, what does it actually take to live every day in sexual purity? And how can we implement these principles into our daily lives?

There are 4 Pillars of Purity that are necessary for anyone who desires to live each day in sexual purity. Let’s go over each Pillar and then I will offer practical ways to implement them into your daily life.

Pillar #1 Profess the Struggle

Humility is the doorway to freedom and purity. Once you recognize your struggle with impurity and confess that you are incapable of conquering it on your own, you are on your way to the exciting adventure of purity. This Pillar is critical, however, because without admitting your need there is no hope of long-term change. And remember, God opposes the proud, but gives GRACE to the humble. (James 4:6)

Practical application:

– Write in a journal your primary struggles and confess your powerlessness over them.

– Share with a pastor or friend your struggle with sexual temptation and your inability to manage it.

– Pray to God, sharing with Him your weaknesses and desire to walk in purity.

Pillar #2 – Understand Triggers

For a solution to really work you must address the problem, not the symptoms. The ways you act out (i.e. viewing pornography, masturbating, affairs, etc.) are much less important factors to address than the attitudes, environment, and temptations preceding. To understand your triggers is to study and evaluate your typical patterns that lead to acting out. This requires brutal honesty and a willingness to deal ferociously with these triggers in order to create effective strategies of escape when faced with sexual temptation.

Practical application:

– Use Be Broken’s “Online Personal Inventory & Evaluation Form” to assess you triggers and build a strategy for purity.

– Write out all the things you can remember that typically precede your acting out.

– Share your triggers with a pastor, friend, or trusted band of brothers and develop concrete strategies for responding to each trigger.

Pillar #3 – Relate with God

Apart from the healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ there is no hope for long-term freedom from sexual sin. Relating with God is essential to experiencing growing freedom from sexual acting out. The idea of relating with God can seem foreign, even intimidating, but by growing in intimacy with your Creator you build strength of character and gain wisdom in battling sexual temptation.

Practical application:

– Read and study God’s Word every day – even when you don’t feel like it.

– Pray every day. This is simply talking with God. A good “tool” to use to help you get started is the A.C.T.S. method: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. Praying the Psalms is another good exercise in learning to pray.
– Begin talking to God throughout the day in any and all circumstances.

Pillar #4 – Engage Others

As powerful and important as the three previous Pillars of Purity are they come up short of providing long-term freedom apart from the Pillar of engaging others. This may sound heretical considering Pillar #3 is Relating with God, but without fellowship and accountability it is virtually impossible to maintain sexual purity. You were designed for relationship – with God and others. Developing deep, lasting relationships with others will provide the support, encouragement, and accountability you need to consistently walk in purity. You simply cannot maintain freedom on your own.

Practical application:

– Attend a support group regularly.

– Be willing to deepen your friendships by sharing your struggle and seeking their support.

– Help get a purity group started in your church or community.

You will notice that the 4 Pillars of Purity form an acronym, P.U.R.E. We hope this will make it easier for you to remember as you pursue being a man of purity. And as you resolve to offer each day to God as a day of sexual thought purity, we invite you to share your story with others so they might benefit from it. Just log into the Message Boards or Chat room and connect with other like-minded brothers. You have nothing to lose ‘ but your sexually destructive habits.

See Every Man’s Battle.

Facing the Scary 'C' Word: 'Confrontation'

Dan Jenkins

– The Balance of Love and Law –

One of the most difficult things about interpersonal relationships is the occasional need to confront another person about their behavior. If you are like me, you do your best to avoid confrontation, usually with a justification like, ‘Well, the Bible calls us to be long-suffering.’ However, when I look at my true motives, I often find that they are not so righteous. Instead, my motives are self-centered and based upon faulty beliefs that have their roots in my childhood. Let me explain.

Very early in life you learned a very important lesson about obedience. If you obeyed your parents, then nothing bad would happen. If you didn’t obey, you would get punished, restricted, or experience some kind of pain. Sometimes you’d get into trouble and you had no clue what you did wrong. In either case, you had to learn to conform to some standard, some rule, that was placed upon you. If you didn’t conform to the rules, you would quickly run into bigger trouble with the powers that be.

Of course, learning to follow the rules of the family, classroom, society, etc., is not a bad thing in the least. Failure to obey all these rules would be disastrous to any individual.

But what if you were raised in a family that had lots of rules but very little love? What if the rules seemed more important than the people they were designed to protect? Personalities are shaped during the early years of our lives, and if your family environment was filled with lots of ‘law’ but very little ‘love’ we would expect several significant impacts upon your development.

In a family heavy in law but light on love, it may become very important to you to never be wrong . . . about anything. Without a foundation of attachment and love, the value of a person would come from following the rules and never doing anything wrong. Yet, this fragile sense of self-worth would be constantly challenged because no one can do everything right all the time. Over and over again, you would be found to be at fault for not being perfect. If a mistake is made, it would have to be denied and covered up, or the result would be a deep sense of self-doubt and personal shame. Like men with sexual addiction, the sin must be hidden, kept in darkness, or the shame would be overwhelming.

Additionally, it is difficult to confront someone about a behavior when you have far worse offenses hidden below the surface. Your wife may feel the same way when she knows about the sexual acting out behavior, and in her mind you have no right to confront her about anything until the Lord returns. ‘You broke the rules of our marriage and now you owe me big.’ If this debt can never be repaid and you cannot confront her again, then you will grow more and more resentful about the imbalance of power in the relationship. You must be able to share with your spouse both the good and the bad ways you are affected by her. Such is the basis of emotional intimacy, and without it, your relationship cannot stay healthy.

– To Slam or Clam, Either is a Sham –

Many of the men I work with in my private practice have tremendous difficulty confronting their wives about anything. They may be hurt by something she said or did, but instead of saying anything to her, the typical response is to clam up. Unfortunately, this technique only serves to confirm a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness. Sometimes wives will actually try to get a response to see if their husband is emotionally alive. It’s as if he has turned off his emotions and she is left with the dubious task of trying to read his mind by any little thing he says or does.

Passive withdrawal can kill two birds with one stone. It is a response to our own fear and insecurity. Like a child in school who is afraid to raise his hand to answer the question, we hold fast to the rule, ‘when in doubt do nothing.’ But simultaneously, it can be a passive expression of hostility because the emotional shutdown usually drives the wife up a wall. If we have been hurt by her, the clamming up response can bring some satisfaction when we see the resultant frustration developing in her.

The other option is to let the fury fly and slam the person who needs confrontation. If their behavior has been eating away at us for any length of time, the confrontation could easily become an explosion. Like the proverbial pressure-cooker analogy, the steam release valve isn’t working properly, so an explosion is eminent. The emotions come out in a cathartic outpouring and the recipient of the anger doesn’t understand why it is so intense.

Both ‘Clamming’ and ‘Slamming’ are different sides of the same dysfunctional coin. The answer is to be assertive in expressing what we need. What does that mean exactly? It means letting her in on our feelings such that it doesn’t threaten or degrade her in any way. Confrontation requires action, not passivity. It requires tact and wisdom to share our emotions without harm to our spouse. Most of all, it requires courage to confront those we love.

For men struggling with sexual integrity, see Every Man\’s Battle.
If you are a married man who has already attended Every Man\’s Battle, we highly recommend Every Marriage Restored or Restoring a Wife’s Heart–programs at our New Life Weekend.

Expectations: The Great Set-up

Martin Fierro

Traveling through out America we daily experience the ‘rules of the road.’ Such as when we come to an intersection that will display one of the three standard colors (green, yellow red). And as we come to the intersection we are expecting that if we have the green light, the perpendicular street must have the red. Thus, no one should be trying to cross into our ‘right of way.’ These rules of the road are reasonable expectations and we easily become emotionally charged if our path is interrupted to these reasonable expectations.

However on the road to recovery and sobriety our expectations, realistic or not, will affect the daily relation patterns.

Expectations at the early onset of recovery from sexual sin and vices can appear to be like waiting at a double-stop sign waiting for a clear shot to cross traffic, or get into it. And then, in large part, expectations are placed on you to work your recovery, keep sobriety, attend this meeting, make that appointment, make those calls, and the list goes on. It was best said by an EMB alumni that his spouse ‘drilled me with questions’ about my daily behavior and sexual addiction management. Now many of you are probably nodding your head recognizing the expectation of such questions and similar expectations. It is the art of expectations that is related to inspections. For how else is someone going to be measured and then evaluated on their progress of recovery and sexual sobriety?

Within your band of brothers, when checking in with one another, the onset of the meeting should be about inspections. Not necessary expectations being evaluated at the first. When it is not about inspecting and evaluating (good and bad information) the relationship can become one of dictatorship.

Expectations in any relationships will begin when we take our own ideals, standards, and views of things, and project them onto other people. Then we anticipate that our brother at arms will live in accordance with these standards we set. And when that person(s), band of brothers, church, pastor, political leader doesn’t ‘live up to it’ we can become bitter and will most likely cut-off the relationship.

Now take a brief moment and see if you recognize yourself in the pattern of cutting off because someone else does not or did not measure up to your expectations–that might be the exact experience your wife experiences when she reviews her relationship with you. Possibly? Then again some of you might reverb ‘she expects the impossible!’ When it comes to your relationship with your spouse her expectations are commonly for the recovery of the relationship. Not to destroy you. While also in support to the rebuilding of trust, expectations are the fuel to long term stability not necessary short term comfort.

Expectations in any aspect of recovery should be evaluated and reviewed with a brother at arms, officer at arms, mentor etc’ Having too strong of expectations, like you should have all the green lights going your way because your in recovery can be selfish, insensitive and careless to your loved ones. Too weak of expectations on yourself in recovery lead you to feel like you will always be stuck at the red light appearing defeated and stuck in life and will lead to contempt.

Finding the balance of having reasonable expectations is part of the recovery process. Your expectations will not come from out of the blue, but, from your faith system that fuels your moral and ethics in life. Your unreasonable expectations come from your internal wounded self that deep down desires healing and protection. That wounded core self creates many expectations on an individual and the relationship with others.

At the onset of any relationship there is the inspection phase. It is through that inspection a person will learn, rely and develop expectations for how the relationship will pursue, or not. When the road way is open, it appears we have all green lights and the relationship continues. Then, we take a side road, apart from the one we asked to trust in us and expected the same. When sexual sin entered your relationship on that side road trip, your wife’s expectations of full sexual devotion to her alone became the interference with relationship growth. Call it the red light of the ‘trust’ highway. And now maybe you so desire to get on that road, while she won’t even give a yellow light.

In closing what is trying to be conveyed here is that to rebuild trust, a man must be careful of his expectations on his spouse for the green light of the open highway of the relationship. At the same time, work through the expectations to carry out his battle plan with brothers in the battle inspection and evaluation to support you maintain your sobriety and assess if your expectations are reasonable.

‘When we demonstrate the insight and courage to embrace the truth, along with finally putting an end to the pain of constantly being disappointed by unmet expectations of one another, our relationships have the opportunity to become rich in authenticity, trust, and deep emotional bonding.’ Author Unknown

Celebrate Your Victories!

Jonathan Daugherty

There is one thing I wish we as Christians were much better at doing, and that is celebrating. We tend to struggle on the whole at really cheering one another on in the faith and throwing parties in honor of those demonstrating the character of Christ. In this article I want to challenge you to cultivate an attitude of celebration in your ongoing pursuit of purity.

God designed us for joy! He didn’t design our minds, bodies, or spirits for anxiety, depression, or gloom. Yet, how often do you find yourself stressed to the max and feeling as if you can’t breathe under the weight of your life? The pace of life, the onslaught of temptation, and uncontrollable circumstances beat you down. But is that reality from God’s perspective or just the excuse often used?

The truth is that it is simply easier to point out faults than to celebrate victories. One reason for this may be that we are spending more time giving into temptation than we are living in purity. But does that mean we must wallow in our sin and shame while our moments of faith and resolve go completely unrecognized? I think not.

One thing I have found to be true in pursuing purity is that the “domino effect” works in both directions, whether following our lusts or following Christ. The more we give into temptation the easier it becomes to fail more quickly the next time we are faced with a similar situation. Conversely, the more we discipline ourselves to obey Christ, taking every thought captive, and connecting with our band of brothers, the stronger we become in resisting attacks. Because of this principle I believe it is all the more important that we develop an ongoing attitude of celebration, not only for our own benefit but for the benefit of other brothers striving for purity.

I have numerous people contacting me every week, wanting to know how to break free from sexually destructive habits. I try to respond to every person based on the core values of ministry (hope, integrity, humility, honesty, compassion, perseverance, accountability, faith, and love). The values that amaze people most about how I interact with them are hope and love. Many times people will attempt to argue that their situation is unique and they really can’t be free. But I never back down from the hope of freedom available to everyone through Christ. What many of these individuals have missed much of their life is someone sharing the truth with them and cheering them on when the journey is hard. They have never been celebrated for doing what is right, only chastised and shamed for their sin and addiction.

Jesus Christ was the incarnation of joy. Many times, because of the very serious nature of his mission (salvation of all mankind) we tend to picture him sullen and, well, miserable. Last time I checked, I didn’t see throngs of people dashing to see a sullen, miserable person. People were drawn to Jesus because He exuded life, true life. As his followers we are to do the same. And one way we do this is by celebrating the successes we, and others, have on our journey to purity.

Here are a few ideas on how you can celebrate your victories:

When you meet a purity goal

– Give yourself a gift of some sort to remind you of meeting that goal.

– Share a meal with your band of brothers in honor of accomplishing your goal.

– Celebrate with a favorite hobby or activity (i.e. golf, hunting, professional sporting event, etc.)

When you resist temptation

– Call a buddy to share the success with them.

– Say, “Thank you Jesus for this victory!”

– Write down what happened to remind you later of the victory.

Here’s the real key to celebrating victories: don’t celebrate alone! God wants us connected, to Him and to others around us. We can certainly have personal moments of celebration just between us and the Lord, but the ongoing impact of celebration is most often realized in the context of others. Surround yourself with people of celebration who understand how to balance getting excited about doing the right thing and holding you accountable when you stray.

So, how’s your “celebrateability?” I challenge you to watch for the moments and situations worthy of celebration. Then, don’t be afraid to cut loose and enjoy the freedom God has given!

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