Looking Good on the Inside

Chuck Underwood

What is it that keeps men imprisoned in a downward spiral of sexual sin? It can be summed up in one word’denial. The fact is we cannot change what we will not acknowledge.

Many men have a behavioral life that is in conflict with the professed values, and beliefs that define their Christian walk. They look good on the outside, but are pretty shabby on the inside–like the duck that seems to glide effortlessly across the smooth calm water. It looks good on the surface, but under the water that duck’s feet are anything but still: they are wildly kicking just to stay in forward motion.

Some men create a lot of ways to look good on the surface without looking at what goes on under the waterline’a lot of violent kicking.

Many times a man will try to solve his sexual addictions by making the problem someone else”a wife, or girlfriend. If only she would change, then I wouldn’t have to act this way. She just isn’t meeting my needs. Someone else must be responsible for my choices.

The most difficult thing for a man struggling with sexual sin is to be honest. The wisest man ever’King Solomon said, ‘He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy’ (Proverbs 28:13, NIV).

Admitting that there is a need to change is the first step out of sexual bondage. Minimizing the need to confess to God, others, and ourselves only obstructs positive growth.

What is the positive growth we are after? To restore the relationships that were destroyed as a result of sexual sin is of utmost importance. Sexual sin separates and isolates a man from his network of support. In a counseling practice one of the predictors of successful therapy is the degree of connection of a person to his family and friends. A sexual addict perpetuates fantasy in his daily life that plays a huge part in isolating him from other people. It becomes a double life that seeks to avoid exposure at all costs’bringing a loss of emotional connectedness. Disconnection and isolation are the very things that are realized in a world that becomes extremely self-centered.

The goal for every Christian should be restoration. This begins with confession. Confession implies transparency’a straightforward agreement with God that those choices were sinful. Confession is reality-based: a complete honest, humble emptying of self. The reality is being willing to deal with the sexual sin up close and personal. When a man comes before God in this manner He declares him forgiven’even righteous (I John 1:9). It is a three-part journey’forgiveness from God, forgiveness of self, and forgiveness of others.

God’s forgiveness is always available for the asking. But, have you ever asked God to forgive you and then not felt forgiven? First, forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a fact, a fact backed up by God’s own Word.
For some forgiveness isn’t accepted because there is a belief that forgiveness is not deserved’the idea of not being good enough to be forgiven. The reality is that men often stand in the way of the effects of forgiveness because they are trying to hide the complete truth from God and themselves.

Forgiveness and reconciliation must take place in order to restore relationships with Christ, wives, family, and friends. Reconciliation is a process of emotional reconnection to those vital relationships.

Can the downward spiral of sexual sin be stopped? Absolutely! What does it take? It takes honesty confession, growth, forgiveness and restoration. Acknowledging the problem and desiring to change is the pathway to establishing a behavioral life that is no longer in conflict with the values and beliefs of a growing Christian walk.

For more help in the battle for purity see Every Man’s Battle.
Also, take the loving step of helping your spouse. See the programs for wives and couples offered at the New Life Weekend.

Dropping the H-Bomb

Sam Fraser

There is a word in the English language that I have personally experienced and, over the years, have also found to be true for men almost universally. The hardest word for the male gender to accept is a 4-letter word. It begins with the letter H. Can you say H-E-L-P? Or should I write HELP! Although I have no research that proves this to be true, I do believe it must be genetic. To ask for directions is hard enough but to ask for – – – – is impossible. It goes against our maleness. It is down right unmasculine.

So much of what we learn from the world about what it means to be a man is the opposite of what the Bible teaches. From the world’s perspective of manliness, asking for help means I am weak, I can’t make it by myself, and I am a wimp’ or worse. Humiliation and shame move in. However, spiritually speaking, to declare the need for help is to initiate the truth that sets us free. So much of the Scriptures declare that we can’t make it on our own. It takes great courage and strength to confess our true condition.

“I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid” said Adam. Help! The shame of being needy is like being a ‘girly man’ in the world’s eyes.

There is a difference between humiliation and humility. Humility is the ability to ask for help and not be ashamed of having emotional needs. God has designed us for relationships and yet our culture and gender icons espouse independence and self-reliance. That sets us up for humiliation.

‘There’s no crying in baseball.’ It’s just not in baseball, it has become a way of life and applies to all areas of life as men. We learned long ago as boys on the playground that being needy or asking for help was a source of teasing and ridicule so we learned to bury that side of ourselves. Now, we cover it up and become self-contained rather than risk humiliation. In its place we learned to ignore, deny, minimize, and rationalize our feelings. In many aspects of our lives we can get away with that strategy. But when it comes to this on-going issue with our out of control sex drive, we need the support of other men. Not women. Men!

What is a man to do?

Scriptures constantly point to the reality that we need a Savior, that we can’t do it in our own abilities and resources. Paul prays in Colossians 1 that we do not rely on our own ‘puny’ human strength, but rather experience the power of God’s supernatural strength. Truly, accepting that we are needy and must receive help from others is a spiritual reality and is the beginning of sexual freedom.

So many of us try to fight this battle with sexual temptation on our own, isolated and alone, only to end up failing miserably over and over.

In the Every Man’s Battle workshop, every man who has failed admits not having a band of brothers he can be vulnerable with and share the shame and humiliation of this struggle. It is not that there are no men’s groups out there, rather it is reaching out asking for help that hinders our growth. Utilizing these resources can be the way God leads us back to community, to being whole. No more lone ranger.

There are two steps to getting help. The first is to reach out. The second, actually utter the word HELP! Don’t let what happened to me happen to you. I realized I needed help but didn’t know how to ask. God allowed circumstances which forced me to get help. My situation came crashing down on me. We can come to the rock to be broken or we can allow circumstances to take their natural course and be crushed. Either way God will bring us into a place of restoration and reconciliation with Him. Freedom! If you have a choice I recommend the former!

True Identity

Kent Ernsting

Who am I? Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life? What have I been designed to do? What is my identity?

Perhaps the runaway success of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life indicates that incredible numbers of people are searching for the answers to those same questions. Every man battles with these same issues every day.

Steven Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, says ‘Identity is Destiny.’

Who we think we are determines who we become, our dreams for the future and how we go about making those dreams become a reality.

As young boys we are told to, ‘Be a man’ or ‘Act like men.’ But how does our culture define masculinity? Movies, media and athletes practically shout their answers to the question. Is the ultimate man John Wayne, solitary and heroic, who is never intimately connected to anyone? Or perhaps it is a James Bond kind of guy smart, suave and debonair. He has a bunch of one-night stands. The message is that sex, without connectivity, validates maturation and masculinity. Or perhaps it is a sports hero with glorified images of power and strength and athletic ability? Or perhaps manhood is all about money and power. Success is measured by net worth and your value as a man is based on the size of your bank account, your house, the car you drive, or the prestige of your job title.

These are all examples of false masculinity. There is no relational piece to it at all. Where does that whole setup leave us? Isolated and alone. Hiding who and what you really are. If you’re hiding your true identity then you can’t connect with anyone else.

These images of masculinity promise satisfaction but always disappoint. There’s a huge bait and switch going on here.

John 10:10 identifies who is behind the spirit of the age and points to the One who has the solution to this dilemma. ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’

If men are to discover and live out their calling as men then we must uncover and embrace our God given identity. At the core of the crisis that men face is that we lose touch with our true identity. We lose the fascination with the story God wants to tell through our lives. The enemy of our soul is so enraged with the image of God that is reflected in you that he will hurl his mightiest weapons right at your soul. The thief is attempting to steal, kill, and destroy your identity, who God says you really are as a man. If he succeeds then he will render you spiritually impotent. He will kill your heart by watering down your true identity and slowly seducing you into living for a small god with shallow dreams.

With our identity stolen, we numb ourselves to escape this false identity by watching TV, surfing the Internet, or working too much. We struggle with pornography or creating fantasies or becoming workaholics. Men are bored.

What is our true identity? Genesis 1:26-27 tells us, ‘Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the bird of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

What did God have in mind when he created man? In the ancient near East the kings had a special advisor. The role of this advisor was to remind the king of his plans and to keep him on course. It is from the name of this adviser that we get our word ‘man.’ The Hebrew meaning of the word ‘man’ is ‘the remembering one who takes action.’ Men express God’s movement and action. Men ask, ‘Am I dangerous?’

God created men to uniquely move into chaos and mystery and have a vision for what it could be and create it. As men we can move into the uncertainty of circumstances that we don’t understand and cannot predict. We can move into the uncertainty of how people will respond to us. And having a vision for what our wives and children can become as image bearers we move into changing our generation. We move into leaving a legacy by embracing who we are and whose we are. We are faced with a choice today. Embrace your true identity or run from it.