Recovery With a Purpose

Dave Boyle

What is the purpose of life?  This is a question that many people have asked themselves over the last couple of years since the book The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren was released. In fact so many people have been asking themselves that question, that the book has been either number one or two on the New York Times best seller list for the past 60+ weeks.

And it’s a question that we, as men who have struggled with sexual integrity issues, should be asking ourselves on a regular basis. The Every Man’s Battle Workshop has made it very clear to us: we need structure in our lives if we are going to be successful in our recovery. And at the very core of having a structure in place, is having a purpose in life. In other words, it’s a lot easier to implement an action plan in our lives when we know why we’re doing it.

In The Purpose Driven Life, pastor Rick sets out the five purposes that he believes are the most fundamental and most important in any believers life.

The first one is that we were made to worship God. The very first line of the book is, ‘It’s not about you.’ The sooner that we realize that our lives are about worshiping, obeying and pleasing God and not about pleasing ourselves, the sooner our recovery can begin. Remember one of the big roadblocks to recovery? It’s entitlement. ‘I deserve to get on the Internet with how stressful my life has been.’ ‘I’m entitled to have that affair with the way my wife’s been treating me.’ But God says it isn’t about me, it’s about Him, and working through that sense of entitlement to get to a place where I’m obedient to God whether I feel like it or not is a huge recovery step.

The second purpose that Rick outlines in his book is that we were made to have fellowship with other believers. There is no such thing as a ‘lone ranger’ Christian. Our recovery is so tied in to having others around us that it is one of the most important things you’ll ever do in your journey to sobriety. If you are not part of a support group, please start exploring that right away. You cannot do this on your own.

The third purpose in the book is that we were made to be like Christ. That kind of maturity takes work, which is why it is the very first thing of your action plan that we talk about at EMB. Spend at least 15 minutes in the Word and in prayer every day. No one can become mature in Christ without spending time in His Word and in prayer.

Rick’s fourth purpose that he talks about in the book is that we were made to serve God. And most of serving God is serving His children. If you’ve been in recovery awhile now and have some sobriety time behind you, this is a good time to start practicing some of the gifts God has given you to help others. You may want to step up in your support group and start providing some leadership, or start actively looking for another guy to be a sponsor or accountability partner with. God doesn’t want you on the sidelines, and He doesn’t want you just showing up but not contributing from the gifts he has given you. Pray for a servant’s heart, and for God to open the door for you in ministry.

And finally, we were made for a mission. And that mission is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, whether that be actively witnessing to our friends, family, co-workers or neighbors, or sharing with other guys in recovery what God has done for you. Read over what the 12th step says sometime. The bottom line is you can’t keep it unless you give it away.

These are five of God’s purposes for your life. Go back over them and see which one is most lacking in your life, and in your recovery, and pray this week that God will help you to implement it. And then go for it.  See what exciting things God brings into your life!

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

Maintaining Vibrancy in our Devotional Life

David Mackey

Growing up in the church, a constant theme was the importance of a daily devotional life. As I recall this came in one basic outline: Read the Bible daily every morning and pray. There seemed to be little variation in this edict, only a variation in how much of the Bible one read. Reading more was always better. Basically this was the quest and I failed miserably. For many years I rarely succeeded for more than a few days in a row following this type outline. And when I did read, many times, it was just reading’ there was nothing vibrant about it.

Good news!! Vibrancy can be experienced. I finally did discover that vibrancy could be found in one’s devotional life. What hindered me for so many years? Perhaps several things but I believe a primary hindrance can be found in one’s heart. Consider the heart. The heart is that part of our being in which we find our beliefs and values residing. In the church you often hear phrases like ” invite Jesus into our heart,’ and ”believe with all your heart,’ etc.

When it comes to our devotional life, what do we believe, or what value does a devotional life have? Consider just one belief that might hinder vibrancy. It might go like this, ‘God demands I have a devotional life in obedience to Him and in order for Him to keep me from relapse.’ Variations of this belief might be, ‘It is my duty to maintain a disciplined devotional life.’ Or ”without a disciplined devotional life I will not please God so he will not keep me from falling.’ There are many such beliefs that could hinder vibrancy. What would happen in one’s life if we believed that God does not REQUIRE a devotional life?! Rather God INVITES us to have a devotional life. What would a devotional life be like if we believed that the purpose of this invitation is deep intimate relationship with Him rather then a tool to prevent relapse? How would ones vibrancy change?

God, the almighty creator of all things, invites us to know Him as ‘Abba,” Aramaic for ‘Daddy’ (Romans 8:15-16). Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords calls us brother and friend (Mark 3:35 & John 15:14). If we believed we are invited into this kind of relationship, our devotional pattern might be different and lead to a great degree of vibrancy. Our devotional life may be more akin to pursuing friendship, brotherhood, and sonship. Vibrancy in these earthly relationships is not found in obedient, disciplined habits. Rather it is found as we pursue those relationships regularly and in many different ways. When we desire relationship with our friends, brothers, and Daddy we find unique ways to be in close contact. We don’t allow our busy schedule to hinder us. If we made this belief change, there will also be a change in how we pursue intimate relationship. Rather than one disciplined daily habit we likely will add many creative and changing ways to stay in touch, throughout each day. Consider some ideas listed below:

Read small amounts of scripture several times a day.
Write and pray your own Psalms.
Pray Psalms from scripture that express your heart’s joy and sorrows.
Include worship and praise music in your listening habits.
Read the worshipful writings of early church fathers.
Schedule a weekly 2 to 4 hour time to just meditate, listen, and pray.
Schedule personal weekend retreats.
Find a church whose emphasis is worship and relationship.
Read a different translation of the Bible.
Listen to the Bible on CD as you drive throughout the day.

All of the above are tools and activities that can be used to know and hear God. Vibrancy will be found when done with the purpose of intimate relationship with God. Don’t miss the point. Disciplined and daily devotions should be developed in a believer’s life. This seems to be especially true as we continue to win the battle. If this discipline is rooted in obedience and approval from God, the disciplined devotional life can easily become a routine of our mind. If, however, our purpose is toward a brother and friend relationship with Jesus, a son relationship with the Father then our devotional life will be quite different. It can be vibrant and it will likely grow as we discover creative ways to pursue God through out each of our days.

For more help on this topic see Being Christian: Exploring Where You God and Life Connect.

Singleness and Masturbation

Sam Fraser

We are familiar enough with the Scriptural mandates about sexual purity so I will say no more. During our season of singleness, masturbation is a very real and present temptation. As a Christian single man I struggled with it in the 70’s and 80’s failing more than I succeeded until I was married. Getting married however, did not cure me. Now having been divorced for several years, I am once again acquainted with the battle anew with masturbation as a single man.

Sex studies have concluded that for most men our sex drive, hormonally speaking, peaks at about age 15-20 or so. Since that is true as we move towards 25, 35, 45 and beyond, even though our sex drive begins to wane I didn’t notice that my frequency of acting out declined. So what gives?

The activity of masturbation is no longer exclusively about the amount of testosterone flowing through our veins. Rather it is an expression of another ‘drive’ taking place.

Of the many forces that could keep this battle raging, I want to address only one, loneliness. Acting out in this way actually may be a substitute for not having a special relationship. For many singles, from 25 on, it can become part of a lifestyle to manage loneliness.

This lesson took me from being an unmarried single into my 30’s, married into my 40’s, to divorced and single again to figure out.

As a single person I was never able to overcome this temptation alone, by myself, in isolation. I could white knuckle it for periods of time but never conquer it.

It was only after I was single again that I learned how much I needed to be connected to others. Having a couple of dear friends with whom I can share my needs, hurts and deepest feelings is like air and food–I can’t live without it! Until I had those kinds of people around me I was never able to have very much success in this important spiritual area of my life. I would masturbate the feelings of loneliness because I wasn’t connected.

For a long time I did not know how to admit this need.

With my boyhood training about being independent, self-reliant, and standing tall, coupled with “big boys don’t cry” attitudes that pretty much shut me down emotionally throughout my formative years and well into adulthood. I was programmed to grow up as a man to stand alone. To ask for help went against the very grain of my upbringing. Some men have been able to battle sexual temptation and succeed on their own. However, for me and many others like me I am unable to do it without help.

As a single man this becomes even more pronounced. Not having the type of friendships, or having the personal communication skills to express my loneliness openly and honestly had been my downfall. Since I couldn’t be real with my feelings, the development of a secret life became the place where I felt and acted in a manner that I didn’t feel was ok in my “real life.” Masturbation became the intimacy I craved in lieu of having a genuine relationship. Masturbation became the outlet I had substituted for healthy expressions of my maleness. It became sort of the social life that I did not have in real life. It was a way to cope with loneliness. It became the way to connect with myself since I was not connecting with others.

One of the great benefits of attending the Every Man’s Battle workshop is the opportunity, for many, the first time to be open and honest in a safe environment with other men to speak openly and frankly about this problem. We are all aware of the Scripture’s directives about sexual purity. But there are few places that we can openly discuss the struggles we have in this area of or spiritual life.

Churches and Christian men’s groups are beginning to respond to the need for men to talk about the battle. There are people and places that can support you. Find them or you call us at 1-800-NEW-LIFE for help.