Guarding Your Heart and Mind

James Hutchison

One of the biggest struggles men have is living in a world where temptation is so constant. The life that God wants us to live as men of integrity puts us at odds with Satan. The Bible never tells us to attack the forces of evil, because we are not equipped to fight in the supernatural world. Instead we are called to protect ourselves from attack.
The good news is that God does not leave us defenseless.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 6:11 (NIV) says, Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devils schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything, to stand.

We are called to protect our heart and our mind, in Proverbs 4:23 we read, guard your heart for it is the well spring of life,’ 2:11 says discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you, 4:13 says Hold on to instruction because it will guard your life.

So if you have not looked at the plan that you developed at Every Man’s Battle, now would be a good time. The plan is your goal! Reflect on what you have been able to keep and what needs more attention. Don’t get discouraged by the things that continue to stop you from reaching that goal. In the book of James, he tells us that when bad things happen, not if, but when they happen that we should consider it pure joy, because whenever we face the trials of life God is testing our faith to develop our perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that we may become mature and complete not lacking anything.

Get together with your small groups, have some clean fun, and don’t get slimed.

If you haven’t attended Every Man’s Battle yet, please click here for some information.
If you are married and have attended Every Man’s Battle, we encourage you to attend our next New Life Weekend with your wife.

Finding Ms. Right

Sam Fraser

If you read Bob Parkin’s article, Healthy Dating in Recovery, you will find that he gave some important insight for single guys and dating regarding accountability, boundaries, and intimacy. Continuing along those same lines, I’d like to give you a couple clues to finding Ms. Right.

There is a reason God says wait until marriage for sexual intercourse. Among the myriad of reasons, one sure-fire reason is that it is for our own protection. As men, we are often identified as having two brains, (I think most of you know, and the rest of you can guess, where the second brain is, right?). Not sexualizing a relationship is the absolute best remedy for keeping our judgment clear and our priorities straight. But if that bridge is crossed prematurely, our reasoning gets all discombobulated and our judgment becomes blinded. Guys, sex changes everything. Once sexual activity is introduced into the equation, we lose an important part of our sensibility. Our sexual desire, or lust, can become the primary motivation for pursuing Ms. Right Now instead of Ms. Right! How much you desire her body has nothing to do with her being right as a marital partner for life. Don’t be blinded by that second brain. Just because it feels good, doesn’t make it true.

Let’s face it guys, sex is overrated as the answer to all of our problems. God’s plan for finding Ms. Right is much broader than how she makes us feel sexually. If that becomes the main focus, disappointment will soon follow. Sex was never intended as the be all, cure all. Once sex falls short as the answer to all of a man’s problems, some men will turn to sexual addiction as a cheap alternative to the real deal.

So, then, what is the real deal? How do we find Ms. Right? What is she like and how will we recognize her?

A much better criterion for the long haul is to develop a deep friendship with someone that you find attractive–attractive being the operative word, which is something much better and more noble than mere lust. Over and over I have encountered this common factor in successful marriages. When the husband says that his wife has become his best friend, take it to the bank.

Being married to your best friend will provide the emotional spark that can be fostered and kept alive with time and effort. This will keep the connection strong. If you cannot be vulnerable and share your deepest needs, dreams and fears with your girlfriend now, then seriously ask yourself why not? If it isn’t happening now, marriage will not cure it.

One thing that is a common theme for Every Man’s Battle participants is they have a secret life. Having a secret life is the opposite of having marital intimacy. A man who gets married without having the skill or courage to disclose important feelings and thoughts is sure to feel very lonely and isolated. So it is crucial to develop an openness during dating. If you can’t open up now, openness just won’t magically occur once you are married. Therefore, don’t underestimate the importance of having a woman with whom you can develop an intimate friendship. With that said, here are a couple of key factors for evaluating potential Ms. Rights:

1) How well do you share your feelings with her now? Is she safe and trustworthy or does she bring out your dirty laundry and shame you with it already? It needs to be discussed and resolved. If she can’t be a person who is safe and trustworthy then it is better to find that out now rather than later. Most women desire that kind of connection, and nine times out of ten, she will be accepting of our fear and shame, and will reject or humiliate us when we disclose them to her.

2) Take some risks and share feelings that are painful. Women respect men who have feelings and share them, particularly feelings that are hard to share, or that have previously been kept secret. From a male’s perspective, we don’t place such a premium upon that need; so if you can develop that with her in intimate friendship, then you are well on the way.

The interesting thing is that developing that intimate emotional bond with your future wife now will naturally translate into greater romantic intimacy later. Then sexual fulfillment will take care of itself.

The greatest testimony to this is that older couples with secure relationships are far more likely to have highly gratifying sex lives. That is because those couples have special bonds of deep friendship and devoted love for one another, bonds that have been built and strengthened because they have become best friends to one another. Think about it…

Thoughts on Rest in Recovery

Bob Damrau

Say, ‘When’

A cartoon that recently got my attention depicted a client exclaiming to his counselor, ‘I’m learning how to relax, doctor—but I want to relax better and faster. I want to be on the cutting edge of relaxation!’ I smiled on the outside but a deeper sense of fatigue prompted a time of personal reflection. I was feeling overwhelmed by the demands of a major life transition. My behaviors appeared frantic, as if I was in a run-down between necessary activities and scheduled deadlines. I thought nothing was being done quite right and gave up on ever hearing the words, ‘You’re safe.’

This downward pattern of thought is a vulnerable place for anyone, but it is especially dangerous to an individual with compulsive tendencies. The temptation to give in to a quick fix presented itself as my way to escape from feeling out of control. It would have been easy to act out and medicate the seeming negativity, but I have learned to better manage situations like this in order to prevent that kind of relapse. I brought to mind a quote from Rollo May, who said, ‘It is an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.’

Then I remembered the Lord Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew’s gospel, ‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Did you know that Christ spoke this during a time of increased opposition to His ministry? That acted as the reality check I needed to identify the problem, break free from the insane thoughts, and find rest within the bounds of a healthier perspective.

The earthly lifestyle of our Savior is the prime example of living a balanced life. A colleague once said, ‘Jesus–the only person ever to be charged with saving the world—never got in a hurry.’ Just prior to preaching in Galilee, cleansing a leper, and healing a paralytic, the Lord ‘went out and departed to a solitary place’ (Mark 1:35). When the disciples finally located Him they said, ‘Everyone is looking for you’ (Mark 1:37). There were urgent matters to be addressed for sure, but He knew the limits of life in the flesh.

People teetering on the edge of burnout usually spend too much time and emotional energy caring for others and too little for themselves. That happens when we attempt to outwork and under-rest everyone we know, including God. I often wonder if Jesus would be hired by a lot of churches if His work habits were well known. My favorite movie is ‘Regarding Henry.’ Harrison Ford plays a powerful and arrogant lawyer whose life is drastically altered when he walks into the middle of an armed robbery and is shot in the head. His injuries leave this character with some long term cognitive deficits. Returning to his office, Henry’s secretary offers him a cup of coffee and cheerfully says; ‘Say when,’ as she pours the milk. The camera pans from the coffee cup to Henry and back again, without a word from him. When the secretary realized her disabled boss would not respond, she finished pouring the milk, handed Henry the cup and cordially said, ‘When you’ve had enough, you need to say ‘when.” Later in the movie, Henry is fed up with his old lifestyle of sex, lies and greed, and decides to change. As he walks by his secretary he exclaims, ‘I’ve had enough, so I’m saying ‘when.” I was that character—always on, ready and in control. It wasn’t until I experienced a traumatic illness that landed me in the hospital for an entire month that I began to come to terms with the fact that control is God’s realm and I needed to cast aside my plan and take on His yolk. That’s how I learned to say when.

Getting caught up in the fast pace of life is a certainty. A lack of rest can lower a person’s resistance to the place of despair. Any plan for recovery must include an appropriate amount of R & R, and Jesus, Himself, promises to give it. He simply requires that we come to Him. There, in His presence, is where I heard, ‘You’re safe.’

Need help finding harmony and balance in your life? Join us at our next New Life Weekend.