How’s Your Plan Working?

For some of you reading this, Every Man’s Battle is still a fresh experience; you’re still on the mountain top, and your recovery is exciting. For others who may be a year or two removed from an EMB workshop, things have drifted back to the routine, and some of the ‘warm fuzzies’ of the workshop have faded. Whichever group you find yourself in, one thing is for sure: for your recovery to be successful and meaningful, it will be extremely important to stick to the action plan that you developed at EMB.

One of the hardest parts about sticking to the action plan, is that sometimes it gets a little mundane, a little routine. I can still picture Joe, in sweatshirt and jeans, flexing his muscles while reminding us that as guys, we’re more ‘hero’ oriented than ‘routine’ oriented. ‘Give me a burning house and a baby, and I’ll show you what a hero I can be,’ he’d say. ‘But ask me to take out the trash or get up 15 minutes earlier to put on coffee for my wife? C’mon, that’s a little boring.’ Yet that’s what recovery is all about, doing the mundane, doing the routine, and doing it consistently.

What’s the action plan that I am talking about? Well, by way of a little refresher, let’s go over the things that Joe and the EMB staff want us to do after we leave EMB. I am not going to go into the detail that Joe does, but I’ll hit the highlights. One of the things is to make sure to get an accountability partner and an accountability group. Find someone who isn’t afraid to ask you the tough questions, and who will see through if you’re trying to manipulate. This person does not have to be in recovery from sexual addiction themselves, although that is helpful, but they do need to be available, and willing to meet with you on a weekly basis; and they do need to be honest with you and demand honesty from you. If you’re married, it’s important that this person have full access to your wife, and can call her about anything that is going on in your life that is inappropriate.

Another part of the plan is for you to be seeing your pastor, or someone in leadership at your church. This will help you stay spiritually focused. And speaking of staying spiritually focused, starting off your day with some prayer and Bible reading is the best way to let your Heavenly Father know you’re grateful for all of the gifts He has given you.

Recovery is all about: doing the mundane, doing the routine, doing it consistently!

In all of the follow up calls I’ve done with EMB alumni, I have never once had a guy who was struggling or who had relapsed tell me that he was closely following his action plan. On the flip side, most of the guys who are doing well are doing most or all of their action plan. How are you doing with your follow up plan? If you don’t have a church home, call New Life–we may have a referral for a church in your area. And if you’re not spending any time with the Lord during the day, carve out 15 minutes today to do that. They may not sound like the most exciting things in the world, but it’s the ordinary things in life that we do consistently that keep us in recovery.

 

Shame On Me

shame

“Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” – Job 42:6

In January of 1984, I had my crises of truth. I was a Christian who had back-slidden into destructive sexual behaviors, and the conflict between my sexual and spiritual desires reached its peak. That was the beginning of my recovery and oddly enough, the darkest time of my life. All my porn had to go, of course. I had my cable service turned off, canceled my subscriptions to erotic publications and relocated to another city.

Only then did it hit me that I’d ruined everything good I had been given. By indulging in my sins, I had abandoned a fruitful ministry, a loving family, great potential – all wasted in a public, shameful way. The more I thought about it, the more I sank into a bottomless disgust with myself. I began sleeping through the days, then waking up horrified at myself, remembering what I’d done, each time seeing it in a worse light. I would cry, thrashing around in my bed in fits of weeping and moaning.

The poet Robert Bly wrote: ‘Where a man’s wound is, there he finds his genius.’

As part of my ‘penance’, I called all my old friends to apologize and to let them know that I had repented.  I could only find a few, but one of them permanently interrupted the ‘I Hate Joe’ cycle I had gotten myself into. When I got him on the phone and told him what was happening with me, the dam burst and I poured out my guilt, the miserable state I was in, and my fear that there was no future for me.  ‘Well, Joe’, he said, ‘if banging your head into the wall is going to build up the Body of Christ, please keep doing it. But if it won’t, don’t you think all this energy you’re putting into self-pity could be put into doing something useful with what’s left of your life?’ That shut me up. ‘And who knows’ he continued ‘but someday, after you get through all this, you might have learned something worth passing on?’

I had been drowning in shame, beating myself up but accomplishing nothing worthwhile in the process. That night I decided to find something more useful to do with my pain. Oddly enough, it was that very pain which led me into my own counseling, and then into a desire to become a trained counselor, and finally into the opportunity to work with hundreds of other men who’d made mistakes so similar to my own.

Be sorry for your sin, by all means. But don’t wallow in shame. Instead, take the time to prayerfully consider how God can convert your worst failures into useful opportunities. You just might be amazed at the genius lurking behind the wound.

For more information on Every Man’s Battle, please call 1800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433)

Unleashing Samson

He was strong and impressive; a clever Nazarite who could spin riddles, destroy lions bare-handed and conquer a thousand men with a donkey’s jawbone. He was Samson, and he was not to be messed with. Yet this man of strength eventually found himself tied up, blinded and put to work at a grindstone like a common mule. What happened? Compromise. Samson was bound by a vow to abstain from drinking wine, eating unclean meat, and cutting his hair.

So long as he was faithful to this vow of separation, he retained his strength. But when presented with an aggressive beauty named Delilah, he broke his vow and integrity, never imagining the nightmare a simple compromise would bring. As soon as he foolishly told Delilah the secret of his strength, she betrayed him to the Philistines, who immediately tied him up, gouged out his eyes, and put him to hard labor.

Strength came from faithfulness to God’s design of separation. Your own Delilah doesn’t care any more about you than Samson’s did. Whatever your weakness may be ‘ pornography, commercial sex, affairs or anonymous encounters ‘ you can be sure it will only weaken and betray you. Look what it’s done so far. Look at how it’s affected your confidence, your judgment, your general ability to perform. Be honest about this. Has sexual sin done anything for you, other than to weaken and limit you?

Compromise came from breaking from God’s design and his own integrity. That need not be the end of your story. When Samson allowed his hair to grow back, his strength returned. And with it came a determination to once and for all destroy the enemies who had so brutally kept him from his potential. If his compromise mirrors your own, take heart. Because his final victory can mirror yours as well. I hope you’ll begin by recognizing that, apart from a consecrated relationship with God, you’re very much like Samson at his weakest. But in returning to Him through repentance and a commitment to knowing Him and His will for you, your spiritual and emotional potential will return as surely as Samson’s hair grew back.

Unleashing Samson involved repenting and waiting for his power to return.
Unleashing Samson was as simple as repenting and waiting for his power to return. So take heart if you’ve allowed yourself to become a compromised man. Your compromise has been foolish and destructive,yes, but your potential, like Samson’s is still waiting to be unleashed.

For more information on Every Man’s Battle call 1800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433) or consider attending one of our Weekend Workshops.