Safeguarding Your Heart

David Mackey

It was 1998. I had just begun a counseling practice with New Life Ministries. I had finally bought a new computer that worked rather then a hand-me-down computer that really didn’t.

More good news, geographically, my New Life Clinic office was closer to one of my best college friends. I didn’t know what an ‘accountability partner’ was then, but he was the guy I first confessed to regarding my struggle with pornographic magazines. Our regular talks and prayer times were a big tool toward my finding victory over the use of porn.

So I called my friend to exchange my office and email addresses and to catch up after many months of being too busy to pick up the phone.

One of my friends first questions was ‘Hey Dave, did you get a filter for your computer?’ ‘What’s a filter?’ I asked, as I tried to imagine how a coffee filter could possibly be used with my computer. Tim went on to explain how late one night when he was just starting to figure out his computer, he came across sites that were beyond his imagination. He wasn’t looking for them, they easily found him. After 25 years one of this guys first inclination when talking to me was concern for how I was doing in the Battle. How cool is that!?!

Internet porn may be the biggest issue for those in the Battle. Pornography has been around for a long time. Sexual temptations have been around even longer. But it was the advent of the Internet which really awakened the world to a need for EMB Workshops. Indeed many of the men who come to EMB Workshops found the use of Internet porn to be THE slippery slope that finally brought them down. Most men’s story is that they started looking at magazines at the ages of 10 to 13. Most men report that they continued looking at magazines throughout their life. Most, often secretly, men carried this secret passion right into adulthood, even throughout their marriages. Other sexually impure behaviors often came into play including actual affairs and connection with real women but the pornographic magazines never really left UNTIL the Internet.

For with the Internet comes way more freedom and access than most men can handle. Indeed we are bombarded with seductive ads constantly. Even pictures can pop-up without our request. Sometimes just the subject line in an unsolicited email can be a powerful trigger. I personally learned this the hard way.

This article is to provide some practical tips on using the Internet on your computer. Let’s look at 3 levels of protection: Our Personal Tools, Passive Tools and Proactive tools to assist in our internet use.

Personal Tools involve some work in our heart and mind. Romans 12 tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Let me encourage you to renew your mind with truth that ‘The Internet Can Be Dangerous.’ Know that in your head. Know that in your heart. Believe this truth so you can approach it appropriately. If you have any love for guns you know that they can bring much enjoyment and good times. But they are dangerous and any gun owner worth his salt, knows in his head, knows in his heart and believes the truth that guns are dangerous. So when they use them they do so with safety constantly on their mind. Treat the Internet the same way! Too often the way we got in this mess was because we treated the Internet as a toy’ it’s not!

Passive Tools involve setting up your Internet and computer services in such a way that access to pornography on the Internet is difficult. Unfortunately one can’t say access is impossible. There is always a way that our devious hearts and minds seem to figure it out.

The first and I believe best Passive Tool is to get a Filtered Internet Service Provider (ISP). Very likely you have ‘aol’ or ‘msn’ as your ISP because they come with computers and/or offer lots of freetime. However, what you need is an ISP which filters porn before it even gets to your computer. I personally have used Integrity-On-Line, Cleanweb, and Safe-eyes. They are very effective and I didn’t even have the titles of porn sites come up when I searched for something else. Do a search for Filtered ISP’s you should find many to choose from.

However, when receiving emails I did receive solicitations. The subject line itself would be pornographic, and I don’t even need to read that. I also found out that if your email account is set up to preview your emails, it opens some of them up and you could be hit with a picture.
To fight this you do 2 things:
1) turn off your preview option on your email account and
2) purchase spam blocker software.
I have used software called ‘Mail wiper’ which worked well for me. This software will automatically send a message to a sender asking if they know ‘you’ the receiver. If they respond then they will be added to your mailing list. If they don’t respond they will be added to your delete list. Your own personal mailing list will not be blocked. McAfee also has a ‘spam killer.’

Proactive Tools involve setting up software which monitors every move you make on the computer. I have heard the Net Accountability, Covenant Eyes and X3Watch are all helpful. Each week an email is sent to the person you designate, perhaps an accountability partner so they will know what you have been doing. This not only protects you from wandering/searching for a way around the filters but also will show what time is wasted playing solitaire. Time stewardship is another problem we who struggle with Sexual Purity seem to have.

To be sure this is not an exhaustive list of that which can be done to safeguard your heart while on the internet. However, these are effective tools. Of course, if your heart continues to pursue Internet porn even after these tools are in place, the best plan is to get rid of the Internet all together. After all we did survive before the 1990’s.

See Every Home Protected Internet Filter.

Holy and Healthy Sex in Marriage: Part 4

David Wever

My guess is that many of you have heard this familiar phrase from your wives at some point in your relationship: ‘You just want sex!’ As men this is often times the main goal or mission we have on our minds even if it is with good intentions. The problem is that our lack of communication may leave our wives feeling that our sexual intimacy is more about getting to the goal rather than truly connecting.

One of the most essential, yet often times least developed facets of sexual intimacy, is communication. Romance and arousal are truly built on this necessary dynamic. Communication is the lubricant in a well oiled machine. Often times we learn as men by our culture or otherwise that talking may get us to sex. The problem though with our talking is that it may just be a vehicle to get our ‘goals’ met without truly connecting in the relationship. We may converse in order to get information or direction towards the goal we are trying to accomplish especially if we have hyper-stimulated ourselves to achieve certain goals in sexual intimacy.

I want to offer a different way of communicating for us as men. It is not the manliest way but it may help to establish connection rather than just completing a mission in sexual intimacy.

This proposed way of communicating is chatting. That’s right, I said it. You might be thinking, ‘But Dave, chatting is something guys just don’t do.’ You’re right! But when a person chats, there is often times not a goal or mission to get somewhere in mind. Instead when most people chat they are usually pretty relaxed and talking about their days or their hearts and thoughts. The main point I want you to catch here is that in your romance or arousal towards healthy, Godly sexual intimacy, sex is not the goal. It is truly connecting that needs to be at the forefront.

Sometimes a paradigm shift in the way we approach communication can help us move towards actually letting ourselves be there in heart and mind and then body. The Songs of Solomon are a beautiful picture of a couple moving toward God’s gift of sexual intimacy and then celebrating their oneness. The small but deeply explicit book on romance and intimacy is filled with conversations and chatting about how they feel about one another. Simply, it is filled with communication leading up to eventual physical intimacy.

One set of verses in particular can be found in Song of Songs 1:15-16, How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves. How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant.’ Here the Lover (the husband) and the Beloved (the wife) are exchanging not only feelings about one another but are expressing and conversing about the heart of their relationship that leads to a verdant or lush place of intimacy in their marriage bed. Their chatting, if you will, goes on throughout the entire book. An exchange of not only passion but of true hearts is shared in a back and forth dialogue.

Is the vibrancy or lushness of your marriage bed rooted routinely in how good the physical component of intimacy is? Or is it founded upon the communication leading to connectedness in the heart?

Communication leads to connection. Ultimately, connection allows communion with one another in celebrating God’s oneness in your hearts. Rebecca and I both do not commune in sexual intimacy unless we feel connected. And the way we feel connected is to talk, to chat, to dialogue and express our hearts not just to gear up our loins. You may be thinking, ‘Well what about spontaneous, ‘quickie’ sex? Is that ok even if we don’t communicate?’ Yes. But I would guess if you go back a day or two, you may find that even that spontaneity may be founded upon safe, understanding, heart felt communication. If not you may be cheating yourselves of the most important part of sex: true connectedness and intimacy from the heart.

Next time you and your wife are feeling aroused, give chatting a try as it leads to further physical intimacy. Ask yourself before the fires of desire are fanned, have I communicated or talked about my day with her? As you rebuild and restore your heart around sexual intimacy ask yourself: Am I communicating? Is the communication we are having leading to connection? And when we commune in physical sexual intimacy do I feel and stay connected emotionally and spiritually?

Remember, your communication is an essential building block to connection and safeness to allow desire to blossom. It is also a building block to physical foreplay in sexual intimacy. We will look further at Holy and Healthy physical foreplay next time in this series.

For more help, join one of our couples groups at our next New Life Weekend.

Finding Strength in Weakness

David Wever

Earlier this year I was able to accomplish a feat that I had always desired to do. This was a feat that I had tried for years to begin and accomplish. It seemed to always elude me no matter how much I motivated myself and received encouragement and sometimes admonishment from others to do. I wish I could tell you it was a feat such as climbing Yosemite’s half dome (which I missed summiting last year by one-half mile) or winning a 5k run event (which I never even entered).

Although those would be awesome accomplishments to attain, the one I was able to attain and then maintain was flossing my teeth.

Yes, flossing my teeth!!!

I can only imagine what you might be thinking at this point: ‘Dave has finally lost it.’ Or ‘Dave, you have such high goals for your life.’ Or ‘We never knew and now we wished we didn’t.’ But bear with me for a moment.

This accomplishment symbolized an aspect of my life that for years I had never seen about myself and I thought I could never achieve it: Taking care of myself.

For years my shame from my sexual acting out had not only covered things around my heart but also stole away energy and awareness of the need to take care of my heart and body. For years when I would visit the dentist, my hygienist or the dentist would say, ‘Dave, if you would only take 2 minutes a day and floss, you would save your self so much grief around cavities and fillings.’ And I would leave the dentist sometimes feeling guilty and sometimes feeling empowered only to never begin the practice and finding myself feeling defeated and weak again.

When I first began recovery for Sexual Addiction in late 1995, my sexual addiction was not the only mess in my life. In actuality my whole life was a mess!

Flossing wasn’t the only thing I wasn’t doing for myself. The Lord began to reveal so many weaknesses as He and I began to address the sexual addiction. For starters, I was in financial debt up to my eyeballs, my desk in my office could never be seen for the piles and piles of papers I rarely ever filed or threw away, and I would always complain I was tired even if I had gotten 8 hours of sleep the night before.

The shame around these weaknesses was for me much like the shame I felt around my sexual acting out. I was so afraid of being seen as weak yet that is what I was. Not so much from the weaknesses themselves but rather from the denial, hiding and resentment I had around my heart. For me I lived as if taking care of my heart and my life was for someone else to do..

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I lived as if ”
taking care of my heart and my life
was for someone else to do.
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When I married my wife, Rebecca, I think she thought she was getting a full-grown responsible man who knew how to take care of himself. Instead she got a seven year old boy scared to death of responsibility. I leaned so much on Rebecca to be that strength for me. She couldn’t. And it was also not her role to do that for me. I had to begin to face these weaknesses and the condition of my heart head on. And the revealing of my sexual addiction did just that.

But I was not alone in beginning to face the weaknesses. ‘

The apostle Paul speaks of facing his weaknesses in II Corinthians. Speaking of his weakness he writes, ‘At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then He told me, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’ ‘so the weaker I get, the stronger I become (2 Corinthians 12:8-9,10b, MSG).’ When I first read this passage in recovery I was somewhat encouraged but at that point much more scared and doubtful at the prospect of finding strength in weakness.

Looking at my weaknesses would mean dropping my guard. But as I began to drop my guard and look at my weaknesses, a funny thing happened. I began to feel strength. The strength to sit in a financial seminar and begin to learn to budget. The strength to begin to take the time each week to file papers and organize my desk. The strength to begin to eat and sleep properly and care for my body and emotions. And the strength to floss my teeth. I believe that as God began to help me face my weaknesses and truly see my heart, His covering of grace allowed me to have strength to do even the smallest of tasks in my life. The responsibility of taking care of my heart and life began to happen out of the grace and strength He gave me in facing my weaknesses..


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His grace is our covering
as we step out
of our hiding place!

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Brothers, His grace is our covering as we step out of our hiding place and begin to look at the weaknesses He reveals in our hearts. What areas of weakness has the Lord began to reveal in your heart as your shame and guard begin to come down? Write them down and begin to talk about them with someone within a safe, healing relationship. Remember, His grace is enough. It’s all the strength you will need!

For more help see our Every Man’s Battle resources and Every Man’s Battle workshop.