More Tools In The Battle: Part 1 of 4: Love Each Other

David S. Mackey

In my previous articles, I have written about what I believe is ultimately the key to all healing, the key to becoming all God created us to be. Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love God and others with your whole being, with your heart, soul, mind, and strength. My premise was and is that a large part of the Battle is to leave the false intimacy of sexual acting out and pursue the true intimacy of loving God and others with our whole being.

In the pursuit of True Intimacy, there are many tools God has given us which are useful in this Battle. Most of the ‘tools’ found in Scripture are tools which can help us in all facets of our life, with many different struggles in our life.

In the New Testament, there are found a series of ‘Each Other’ messages which, when practiced move us in the direction of intimacy. These ‘Each Other’ messages can help us build True Intimacy, with God and others.

Remember, 1 John says that we cannot love God without also loving others. Naturally, it is also true, that when we love others we are also loving God. The ‘love’ we are ultimately talking about is that Agape (Greek) love, unconditional love, which includes our whole being.

In this series of four articles we will look briefly at many of these ‘Each Other’ messages. I believe if we put these into practice it will help build toward Truly Intimate relationships. They will enhance our relationship with God and others. In so doing, we will find more victory in the Battle.

In this series of 4 articles we will identify and look at several of the ‘Each Other’ passages with the goal of moving away from false intimacy and moving towards true intimacy with God and each other.

LOVE EACH OTHER

The very first ‘Each Other’ statement covers them all. ‘Love Each Other’ or in some translations, ‘Love One Another’ is found 17 times in the New Testament. Jesus stressed love in many ways throughout his teachings and, of course, even more so in His actions. Peter, John and Paul reinforced this message in their letters to the church. Loving others will be a powerful tool, maybe THE powerful tool, towards fighting this Battle by building True Intimacy.

Love is many faceted. Love is huge. Love is a noun. Love is a verb. Love is an adverb. Love is a feeling. Love is an action. Love is God. Love can’t be exhausted. If God truly is Love then it has the attributes of God. That’s big, Love is huge.

What would our lives look like if they were all about love? How much more would we win the Battle? If we could live a life characterized by love, we could remain in Victory always even in the smallest of Battles.

So loving others and loving God needs to be our goal. The goal of having our life characterized by love. A pretty big undertaking for the biggest of attributes and if it wasn’t for God in our lives it would be impossible. God, however, does desire to be in our lives and he has given us a whole list of actions and attitudes that together will characterize our life in love.

WWJD? Easy answer- ‘love’. It is pretty silly (maybe futile is a better word) to try and figure out what Jesus would do in every specific situation. Especially in this culture, in this post industrialized nation, in this information society which is so different from that of the New Testament times.

We DO know, that in whatever ‘He would do’, it would be done in love. Maybe the bracelet we should wear is not WWJD? but HWJL?. ‘How would Jesus love?’ is probably the question we should be asking. Because loving each other is what we should be about.

I ask again; In your days of acting out, what would have been different if loving each other had been on your mind? What choices would be different if you had been in the habit of thinking ‘How Would Jesus Love?’

How would your relationships be different if right now, this very day you set out to love unconditionally the people God has put in your life? God has put your wife, your children, your mother, your father, your siblings, your work peers, your church friends and many more in your life. How would today be different if you set out to love them?

Imagine how much victory you would have in your battle if loving others were the main goal of your day! LOVE will bring us victory in our battle…guaranteed!

The ‘Each Other’ passages are actions and attitudes of love–and actions of love build true intimacy. When True intimacy destroys false intimacy the Battle is WON!!!

For help with the battle for sexual purity, please see Every Man’s Battle.

How to C.A.L.M. Your Anger

Jonathan Daugherty

Anger is a huge underlying issue for men struggling with sexually addictive behaviors. But most men don’t recognize it as a problem because they have learned that anger is the “acceptable” emotion for a man to express. Therefore, even as acting out behaviors might decrease in recovery, the bedrock of anger remains.

In order to resolve anger well you must know where it originates.

For most sex addicts the anger that eventually expresses itself in adulthood is often a compilation of numerous “little” disappointments along life’s journey. Most of these disappointments occurred in childhood, and not many of us had the emotional maturity to respond well to such feelings. Therefore, adulthood expressions of anger are constructed through years of mismanaged disappointment. I don’t blame men for not handling their disappointments well in childhood. Most of us were never taught how to manage feelings of disappointment.

These disappointments range in “size” from smaller ones such as Mom forgetting to give you a promised ice cream cone, to larger ones like Dad telling you he is ashamed of you and wished you had never been born.

Whatever the disappointment, when it goes unresolved it adds a thin layer, or film, of pain over the heart. Over time, and as more and more layers of pain are added, your heart grows heavier and harder. Eventually, you end up a grown man with a heart like stone. And anyone or anything that attempts to penetrate its exterior is met with harsh, cold anger.

What is most interesting about this type of anger is that it may appear like you are strong and tough. In reality, however, you are very insecure and afraid. But you have learned to use anger to “scare off” everyone so you don’t have to peer into the cold darkness of your own heart. But if freedom, peace, and purity are to ever be enjoyed, you must break through your frozen heart.

If you can relate to a life of mismanaged disappointment that has turned into anger that puzzles you, there is hope to be free. It isn’t an easy path to peace and security, but a life of joy and contentment is possible. The following are four steps that will help you overcome your anger and become a CALM man of peace, joy, and contentment.

C.A.L.M.

 

1. Confirm the true object of your anger.

Most of the stuff that gets us mad isn’t what we are really mad about. Those are just the ‘triggers’ that set in motion the wheels of angry behavior. We might falsely accuse our wives or some out-of-control motorist for our anger when, in fact, it often goes much deeper than those external circumstances. This is why it is important to identify what has truly ignited this flame of anger. Until you get to the root you can’t kill the tree.

For example, let’s say your wife comes to you and says, ‘Honey, I’ve noticed you have been distant from me and the kids this week. Is everything ok with purity?’ Such a question might stir some feelings of anger and you might fire back in a defensive manner. You may falsely assume that your wife is the object of your anger. Nope. You are. She simply pressed a button that hit a nerve and you launched the retaliation missile.

Most of the time (if you are honest with yourself) you will find that the true object of your anger is yourself or some origin of disappointment in your past. The bad news about such self-directed anger is that it can create numerous unhealthy thoughts of shame that eat you up from the inside out. The good news about this, however, is that if you are the object of most of your anger, you can do something about the object!

2. Address the “nerve” of disappointment this trigger presses on.

Once you confirm the object of your anger (usually yourself or a wound from your past) it then becomes important to address whatever ‘nerve’ of disappointment the triggers are pressing on. For instance, in the example above your wife’s comment might have pressed on long held feelings of inadequacy that began in childhood from never being able to measure up to Dad’s impossible standards. Or maybe the trigger pressed on the nerve of an overbearing mother who never let you take risks and was always in your face about something.

The real healing from anger begins when we get to the emotional ‘nerves’ in our heart. These are the points at which most of our anger was born. As you learn what these nerves are you are better prepared for addressing them with the healing power of the truth.

3. Look to God’s promises for the specific need you have for security.

God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). And it is the truth that ultimately sets us free (John 8:32). To address the nerves of disappointment that trigger our anger we must bring the Word of God to bear upon them. We touch the layers of pain encasing our hearts with the truth and, over time, we are healed from years of anger and bitterness.

Here is how this works. You get to the nerve of disappointment. Let’s say it is never measuring up to Dad’s strict standards. Then you search God’s Word for the truth about your security in Him. And you find amazing passages like John 10:28-29 and Hebrews 6:16-20. As you implant these truths in your mind they begin to melt your heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh, soft and pliable in the hands of God.

4. Meet with others to grow in connectedness.

Anger ultimately isolates us from relationships. We grow distant and cold toward those who love us. When we combat the pattern of anger with the truth we must complete the transformation by connecting with others. To truly break the bonds of anger requires relationship. And in relationship we have the ideal ‘practice field’ for engaging in new responses based on truth rather than the old method of lashing out in anger.

To continue in anger causes us to live lonely, isolated lives filled with pain and dissatisfaction. To address our anger and move toward honesty and relationship creates a new foundation for long-term peace, purity, and deep satisfaction.

So, be CALM!

See also:  Every Man’s Battle.

The Flood: Sexuality Outside the Boundaries

Jeff McVay

“…if we walk in the Light and He Himself is the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” – I John 1:7.

A pastor friend of mine once preached a sermon on the topic of sexuality (scandalous to most of us, I know, but he did it nonetheless and I am glad that he did but that’s a different article). In his sermon he said that ‘sexuality is a powerful river that flows through all of humanity.’ As a hiker and backpacker, that was a powerful metaphor for me. When I go hiking, there is nothing I love more than to walk along the side of a river, creek or mountain lake. I began to think about why that is. Mostly I love it because of the life that I see all around it. Life is sustained by it. The river that I am walking next to may also water the crops of the farmer up stream which then puts food on my table and sustains life for my family and me. The river also may provide life for animals and trees that produce life giving things for many people both up stream and down stream. This is also how God intended sexuality to be among us as human beings. It (much like the river) is a wonderful, life giving, sustaining, and powerful force for good as long as it stays within the boundaries (i.e. life long commitment between a man and a woman).

When either a river or sexuality gets outside of its banks, the end result is destruction.

After the horror of what we all witnessed in New Orleans this past summer, we know the destructive power of water when it gets outside its boundaries. The water that was life giving now becomes life taking. It flows to the lowest places and becomes polluted.  People in it and around it become sick due to the bacteria that the water picked up in places that it was never supposed to go. We saw that its greatest impact was on the poor, needy, and weak who were unable for various reasons to get out ahead of the storm. We also saw how great numbers of people became isolated from the rest of the world and from each other. As the water rose, they moved from the first floor to the second floor and then many to the attic where there was no light. They were trapped in the dark wondering if anyone would come or if anyone even knew that they were still alive.

This is also similar to what happens when the powerful river of sexuality gets outside its boundaries. What was intended to bring life, flows to the lowest places, gets polluted, harms those who are most vulnerable, brings destruction, and most of all, leads people into a desperate isolation. The flood of shame becomes so overwhelming that people wind up retreating into dead end places, alone in the dark, isolated with little or no resources, wondering if anyone could possibly rescue them.

It is into this darkness that the good news from I John comes when it says, ‘God is light and in God there is no darkness at all’ (1 John 1:5). What isolated people who are living in the dark need is light. This is not a light that shames them for being in the dark, but a light that shows their need for rescue and a light that shows the way out. For those in New Orleans, I never once heard a news report of a rescuer shaming or belittling a person who needed rescue. They never asked, ‘Why are you in the dark?’ or ‘Why did you retreat to your attic?’ No one commented that, ‘Those people were so ignorant to rush to the dead end.’ They simply saw that there was a need of rescue and the most important thing was to help them get to safety and into the care of others who could help.

This also should be the process of recovery from sexual addiction. People need light and help not shame and condemnation. Again I John seems to give hope to those who are currently alone in the dark when He writes, ‘If we walk in the light, and God is this light, then we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, God’s son, cleanses us from all sin’ (I John 1:7).

In studying this, I found it interesting that the first thing people experience when they step into the light of God is that they have ‘fellowship (another word for friendship) with one another.’ I felt like John got his priorities mixed up. Shouldn’t he have said that the first thing that happens is that we get cleansed from sin or at least that the first person we have fellowship with is God? But then I remembered that usually God allows His light to shine through other human beings into our darkness and that to be with God is to be in community. In other words, we cannot do this alone and God never asks us to. In essence it is through these friendships that God applies the blood of Jesus for our cleansing.

What does this mean for you? If you are trapped in the dark attic of sexual addiction or pornography, there is hope for you. There is light to show you the way out. There is a community of others to help, because you cannot do this yourself. There is cleansing from your sin, and there is a new story that God will write for you. All you must do is let someone know that you are trapped and make that step into the God’s light. As the boundaries of structure, discipline and friendship are applied to your life, you will find that even sexuality can be what God intended it to be: a river of life giving intimacy, honesty and openness that is renewing for both you and your spouse. The clean up (just like in New Orleans) might be long, exhausting, and difficult but in the end you will have a sexually safe place to live for both you and your family.

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