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.