Recovery With a Purpose

Dave Boyle

What is the purpose of life?  This is a question that many people have asked themselves over the last couple of years since the book The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren was released. In fact so many people have been asking themselves that question, that the book has been either number one or two on the New York Times best seller list for the past 60+ weeks.

And it’s a question that we, as men who have struggled with sexual integrity issues, should be asking ourselves on a regular basis. The Every Man’s Battle Workshop has made it very clear to us: we need structure in our lives if we are going to be successful in our recovery. And at the very core of having a structure in place, is having a purpose in life. In other words, it’s a lot easier to implement an action plan in our lives when we know why we’re doing it.

In The Purpose Driven Life, pastor Rick sets out the five purposes that he believes are the most fundamental and most important in any believers life.

The first one is that we were made to worship God. The very first line of the book is, ‘It’s not about you.’ The sooner that we realize that our lives are about worshiping, obeying and pleasing God and not about pleasing ourselves, the sooner our recovery can begin. Remember one of the big roadblocks to recovery? It’s entitlement. ‘I deserve to get on the Internet with how stressful my life has been.’ ‘I’m entitled to have that affair with the way my wife’s been treating me.’ But God says it isn’t about me, it’s about Him, and working through that sense of entitlement to get to a place where I’m obedient to God whether I feel like it or not is a huge recovery step.

The second purpose that Rick outlines in his book is that we were made to have fellowship with other believers. There is no such thing as a ‘lone ranger’ Christian. Our recovery is so tied in to having others around us that it is one of the most important things you’ll ever do in your journey to sobriety. If you are not part of a support group, please start exploring that right away. You cannot do this on your own.

The third purpose in the book is that we were made to be like Christ. That kind of maturity takes work, which is why it is the very first thing of your action plan that we talk about at EMB. Spend at least 15 minutes in the Word and in prayer every day. No one can become mature in Christ without spending time in His Word and in prayer.

Rick’s fourth purpose that he talks about in the book is that we were made to serve God. And most of serving God is serving His children. If you’ve been in recovery awhile now and have some sobriety time behind you, this is a good time to start practicing some of the gifts God has given you to help others. You may want to step up in your support group and start providing some leadership, or start actively looking for another guy to be a sponsor or accountability partner with. God doesn’t want you on the sidelines, and He doesn’t want you just showing up but not contributing from the gifts he has given you. Pray for a servant’s heart, and for God to open the door for you in ministry.

And finally, we were made for a mission. And that mission is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, whether that be actively witnessing to our friends, family, co-workers or neighbors, or sharing with other guys in recovery what God has done for you. Read over what the 12th step says sometime. The bottom line is you can’t keep it unless you give it away.

These are five of God’s purposes for your life. Go back over them and see which one is most lacking in your life, and in your recovery, and pray this week that God will help you to implement it. And then go for it.  See what exciting things God brings into your life!

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

Holy and Healthy Sex in Marriage: Part 2

David Wever

As we begin the journey of examining holy and healthy sex in marriage and we allow for our perspectives about sexual intimacy in marriage to be challenged, one of the key places to start is to study what was God’s true design and intent for sex. A healthy understanding of His design and intent is crucial to the healing of our minds and hearts around sexuality.

An understanding of His initial design gives us a platform by which to move safely and confidently towards holy and healthy sexual intimacy in marriage. You are probably familiar with two common understandings for God’s purpose for sex: procreation and pleasure. These are the most common reasons we often give for God’s purpose for sex. And they are valid and worthy reasons. However, within these general reasons lie, I believe, further tenets of God’s design and intention for sexual intimacy.

One of the prime tenets of sexuality and sexual intimacy is that He created you and me to be sexual. This was no mistake. You may feel at times like it was a mistake due to the difficulty we have in our sexual sin condition. But God was intentional when he created us to be sexual. Biblically we see evidence of this in two prime ways. First sexual oneness began as two. Two individuals: male and female. Genesis 1:27, ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.’ Not only was God intentional in designing us to be sexual but his fingerprint on this is found inherently in his design of male and female. We don’t have the space to go into a full anatomy lesson on the differences between men and women, I will trust you have some knowledge; we are made uniquely different by gender. But, He had in mind that sexual oneness would begin and end with two people uniquely designed to be connected.

Second, it is that connection that would ultimately be celebrated in sexual intimacy. We see this in Genesis 2:24‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.’ God’s idea of emotional, spiritual, and relational connection is captured in the sexual union. Not that the sexual union is the connection (though I often thought it was this way from my old, hyperstimulated perspective) but rather that the relational oneness is ultimately celebrated in that physical union. This sexual union is further blessed by God for procreation in Genesis 1:28‘God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” There is no denying the sexual union was meant to occur and to be celebrated and enjoyed.

Another tenet of God’s design for sexual intimacy is that in that oneness we could be fully naked with our spouse. Genesis 2:25‘The man and his wife were both naked.’ The biblical translation refers literally to their physical nakedness. However, their nakedness also suggests other aspects of their connection. One aspect is that nakedness suggests sinlessness. Their sinlessness prior to the Fall allowed nothing to stand between them. Sin distorts how we see ourselves and others. They literally had no blemishes or flaws to hinder or impede their connection. Eve didn’t have to worry about that ugly mole on her belly or a slight deviation in her nose, and Adam didn’t have to worry about his love handles or his penis size and performance. Their sinlessness allowed for them to be naked and connect spiritually, emotionally and sexually without worry or fear. Boy, did they have it made! This is where the concept of oneness really takes its form. Oneness basically means to be fully known by our spouse in spite of our blemishes and flaws. To be fully known ultimately means to be naked.

Lastly there was no shame in sex. In Genesis 2:25 we see that not only were Adam and Eve one flesh and naked with one another, but they also felt no shame. Without flaws and blemishes due to sin they didn’t feel a sense of something being wrong with themselves and one another. They ultimately felt safe with one another and it felt right and good just the way God intended. They were equal and together and that left no room for shame. Sex was not created to be one-sided but rather an equal partnership in union. Unfortunately due to sin this is one of the shortfalls to healthy sexual intimacy. You can see it in the way a man may objectify or deify a woman, especially sexually. When we do this we do not put her as our equal nor do we then enter into a partnership where true intimacy in sexual intimacy can develop. Due to shame out of our sin we push one another away rather than accept and feel safe in that union.

As we walk along this journey of recovery and healing it is comforting to know God truly had a great plan in mind around our sexuality and sexual intimacy. Although we live and interact within a fallen state that includes sin leading to shame and isolation, we do have hope in experiencing God’s initial design for sexual intimacy because of Christ Jesus. We will look next at how sex is reclaimed in Jesus Christ setting the stage for healthy sexual intimacy in marriage.

Would you and your spouse benefit from a small group weekend? Join one of our couples groups at our next New Life Weekend.

No Higher Power

Dave Boyle

Easter Sunday is the day that separates Christianity from all of the other world religions. No other religious leader ever rose from the dead. Jesus alone accomplished that miracle. And that is why we worship Him–that is why we put our faith in Him alone for our salvation.

Christ’s resurrection from the dead, which we celebrate this month, is also why you and I can stay free from sexual sin. The same power that brought Jesus out from the grave is the same power that you and I can plug into, on a daily basis, to bring us to, and help us maintain, sexual sobriety.

Much like a bulb is of little value if the lamp is not plugged into an outlet, so our lives will not shine to our wives, our kids or our friends if we are not plugged into God’s power source. It takes some work on our part, but the results are well worth it.

How do we ‘plug in’ to God’s power source?

The first way is to make sure you are connected to Him by talking to Him and learning about Him on a daily basis. This generally happens through a daily quiet time of prayer and Bible reading. If you have gotten away from this habit, it will probably be only a matter of time before relapse is crouching around the corner. The first point of the action plan that you received at EMB was to spend at least 15 minutes in the Word and in prayer each day, remember?

One of the things to pray for is sobriety; God will hear your earnest prayers and will be faithful. One hint: pray specifically and pray passionately. If your struggle is masturbation, pray with all of your heart that God will keep you from lusting and acting out, today. Don’t pray about tomorrow, or next week, take it one day at a time. Recovery is hard by the yard but a cinch by the inch. If your struggle is a certain woman at work, get on your knees and pray that God will fill you so full with the Spirit that you don’t notice what she looks like or what she’s wearing, but will only see her heart and that she needs Jesus. And if your issue is internet pornography, cry out to the Lord that He will get you to a point where you are so emotionally connected to your wife, or spiritually connected to a trusted friend or accountability partner, that the thought of an air brushed image on a screen holds absolutely no sway over you. If you pray specifically and passionately about your recovery, God will honor those prayers and will begin and maintain the healing process.

The other way of being plugged into God’s power source is by being in His Word. If prayer is talking to God, then reading the Bible is listening to God. Whether you use a devotional book along with your Bible, or just read a passage and think about it, always pick out one truth that you have received and meditate on it periodically through out the day. If you’re like me, you tend to forget what you’ve read, so I always put a post it note on my computer with the truth I learned that morning, and refer to it through out the day. It’s amazing how relevant that truth becomes as situations come up during the day. Then again, it’s really not all that amazing, because the same God who raised His Son from the dead, and gave Him power, is the same God who is vitally interested in you and your sobriety, and gives you power. You matter to God, and He wants to see you be successful in your pursuit of holiness.

As you celebrate Easter this month, make Christ’s resurrection power your own. It will be the best 15 minutes a day you’ve ever spent.