“Me Time” For Men

Steve Arterburn

When I first began reading the Gospels in the New Testament I was struck by several things: Jesus didn’t heal everybody; He was willing to say ‘No’ in a way that would be considered rude today; and He often fled from the masses ‘ he withdrew to rest.

The popular image of Jesus as a passive guy who couldn’t say ‘No’ and who catered to everyone’s beck and call is wrong. He argued, used strong language, said ‘No,’ and walked away. When it came to taking time for Himself, He provided an example we’d be wise to follow.

Men have responded pretty well to the current mindset in our culture that suggests men need to be more involved at home. You probably do housework, change diapers, shop for groceries, play with the kids, date your wife, and help with homework. But having adopted this mindset, many men feel guilty about taking time off for themselves. I don’t mean a ski trip to Colorado. I’m talking more about just taking a few hours here and there to regroup.

Often husbands will stay with the kids while their wives get together with the girls, but they don’t plan similar events for themselves. Do you think your wife needs a break and you don’t? That’s a big mistake.
Friend, if ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,’ it’ll also make him an increasingly dull husband and father. Take care not to let this happen to you.

Understanding Your Wife’s Heart: Part 2

New Life Ministries

Your wife can be your ‘comrade in arms’ if she understands the battle for sexual purity and the road you have chosen for sexual integrity. Because male sexual impurity can be unsettling, even shocking, to women, we’ve included this section of interviews with women regarding Every Man’s Battle to give you awareness of how to relate better to your wife and communicate with her in your struggle to be and stay free. Be aware there’s a natural tug-of-war in the hearts of women between pity and disgust, between mercy and judgment.

As a man, you’ve no doubt become aware of how much men and women differ sexually.

Heather: ‘I’m starting to be more understand and sensitive to my husband’s feelings. Men are always in the mood.’

Andrea: ‘Through the years I’ve come to read my husband’s body signals and usually, even if I’m tired or don’t feel good, I can appreciate his sexual needs, so I do my part to satisfy him. I have to admit, though, I’ve had times that I felt resentful, wondering why my emotional needs weren’t as important as his physical needs. I’ve told him repeatedly what my needs are for intimacy to better satisfy him and not feel like I’m just an object for his physical pleasure. Although my husband is wonderful in so many ways, he still slips up in this area, and I have to remind him often.’

Andrea: (warming to the subject) ‘Ann Landers once ran a series of stories of women who couldn’t care less about sex anymore. My husband asked me how I felt about that. I told him honestly that I could appreciate where those women were coming from sometimes. He looked surprised, but I went on to say that I could understand why they despise sex if their husbands had never done anything to please their wives, and done only what it took to satisfy themselves.’

It can often be difficult for wives not to be repulsed by the male tendency to draw sexual satisfaction from the eyes.

Rhonda: When I first heard about how men are, it seemed so wild and unlike anything I could imagine. I had a hard time believing it and occasionally even wondered if men were making it up. But having accepted the differences. I can now say that I have a good attitude about the whole thing.’

Cathy: ‘Understanding that his desires have a physiological basis has helped me be more sensitive to a very real need. I used to think that Victoria’s Secret was a store for sleazy women. My husband helped me understand that my wearing ‘intimate apparel’ was a big plus for him. I think Christian women need to feel freer to use whatever turns their man on.’

At the same time, wives have to be careful of how their appearance can turn on other men. The Bible instructs women to dress modestly (1 Timothy 2:9), but many women tend to take such verses lightly. When shopping, some women will look for ‘something attractive,’ when they really mean ‘something sexy.’ They want the sweater that sets off their breasts, the low-cut dress that sets off their hourglass figures. While these may be nice for your husband, what about the rest of the men you know?

Cathy: ‘I don’t think that most women are consciously aware of what other men are thinking. Now that I know how intense the temptations are that my husband and other men face, I’m more careful how I dress.’

After attending Every Man’s Battle, we strongly encourage you to attend our marriage program at our New Life Weekend.  This weekend will help your marriage to heal from the wounds of impurity and will especially help your wife with questions that she still may have.


Back to Our Knees in Recovery: Starting the New Year off Right

Jeff McVay

It’s that time of year again. The Christmas decorations are slowly coming down. Times Square is getting ready for the big celebration. Children are planning for another night of sleep deprivation before school starts. Everyone is asking the familiar questions: ‘What are you doing New Year’s eve?’ ‘Where are you going to watch the ball drop?’ and ‘Does anybody know what auld lang sine really means?’

Shortly after this we usually ask ourselves what our New Year’s resolutions will be.

Many Christians set New Year’s resolutions around time in prayer (myself included). Prayer is something that we all need and something that most Christians consider important. However, we often set our resolutions so high that we cannot possibly keep them (example: I will get up at 4:00 am everyday and pray for at least an two hours about everything I can think of). Or we set them so low that they do not really stretch us and we forget about them (example: I will say ‘thanks God’ before I get out of bed and go on with my busy day). I would like to help us all set a reasonable resolution concerning prayer that will stretch us enough to keep us going but not be so overwhelming that we give up at 12:01 am New Year’s Day.

Prayer is a great place to start the New Year, especially for people who are in recovery from various addictions. Eugene Peterson, author of numerous books and translator of The Message, says:

Getting started is easy enough. The impulse to pray is deep within us, at the very center of our created being, and so practically anything will do to get us started- ‘Help!’ and ‘Thanks!’ are our basic prayers. But honesty and thoroughness don’t come quite as spontaneously.

For our New Year’s resolution we want to ‘get started’ and yet move towards the honesty and thoroughness that Dr. Peterson talks about.

Setting our standards too high or too low is only part of the problem. For many people struggling with various addictions, we tend to think that we must clean up our act before we can pray effectively. We have a deep sense of shame that paralyzes us as we think about talking to God who is holy and perfect. You might say to yourself ‘There is no way that I can pray the flowery prayers that my pastors or elders pray.’ We assume that God only wants to hear about our ‘good’ feelings (happiness, joy and gratitude), and that ‘bad’ feelings (anger, frustration and sorrow) should be left alone when it comes to prayer. Therefore, we hold on to ‘bad’ feelings and say ‘I’ll just work on these ‘bad’ things myself and only try to bring the ‘good’ things to God.’

This is truly ‘addict’ thinking. The substances of addictions (drugs, alcohol, pornography, sex, etc.) are only the symptoms of a much greater issue’fear of intimacy, which requires openness and honesty even about the parts of ourselves that we are ashamed of. When we indulge in these things we spend an awful lot of time trying to cover our tracks so that no one will know what we have done. This leads to isolation, which causes pain. We then try to medicate this pain or ‘make it go away’ by indulging once more and thereby starting the cycle all over again.

When we can only bring our ‘good’ feelings to God then we are doing the same thing to God that we do to our families and friends by covering up. God invites us, through prayer, to take off the mask (that He can see through anyway) and stand before him just as we are and not as we should be. God longs for us to bring the totality of ourselves, both what we think is positive and what we think is negative, before Him in openness and honesty. Again Eugene Peterson writes, ‘Prayer is not ‘advanced’ language. It is the means by which our language becomes honest, true and personal in response to God. It is the means by which we get everything in our lives out in the open before God.’

So how do we do this if we don’t have experience in being open and honest before God? We go to the prayers God has given us in His word as a way of practicing how to pray. These are found in the Psalms. If you are having trouble believing what I have said about prayer so far, I invite you to explore the Psalms and see if I am wrong. You will find Psalms that are cries for help. There is utter sorrow. There is complete anger where people pray for the death of their enemies and even their enemy’s children. There are prayers of frustration even when their frustrations are with God. And, of course, prayers of hope, joy and thankfulness.

The Psalms teach us that openness and honesty about our feelings before God is what God desires. Our emotions and our honesty do not scare God. He will not run screaming from the room. He will run to us and listen to our deepest feelings. In fact Romans 8:28 tells us that when we bring ‘difficulties that are too great for words to express’ God’s Spirit prays in us and for us.

With all this in mind, we will now look at our New Year’s resolution again. Much like learning to run a marathon, we must enter into a training period. No one goes out and runs a marathon on their first day. They first run a few minutes and gradually build up to marathon distance. So with our ‘prayer training’ we will also start with small increments and with the proper tools to help us eventually get to wherever we think we want to go in prayer.

I think a great place to start is with five minutes of reading a particular Psalm and five minutes of practicing our own prayer per day. That’s right, ten minutes a day is all you need to begin. And, just like running, you set your own pace in growth from there. Psalm 51 and Psalm 139 are great places to start, but you can pray any of the Psalms. If the flowery language of the Bible has been off- putting for you, then pick up a translation in Modern English such as The Living Bible or The Message. Either one will help you remember that these prayers are from regular people opening themselves up before God.

Then spend five minutes using your own words before God.

If you can, try to be in a place where you can speak your prayer aloud without anyone hearing, that way you get in the habit of opening yourself up verbally before God. It will feel strange at first, but you will see a change in yourself very shortly if you continue. At first your prayers may only be ‘help’ and ‘thanks’ to God, but Psalms 139 and 51 will help you remember that prayer is about developing openness and honesty. Strive for thoroughness as you continue. You will find that God will meet you and continue to call you forward into greater joy, love, peace, hope and intimacy with yourself, with your struggles, with your loved ones and with God himself. Quoting Peterson once again: ‘[I am] convinced that only as we develop raw honest and detailed thoroughness in our praying do we become whole or truly human in Jesus Christ, who also prayed the Psalms.’

If the Psalms benefited Jesus in his prayer time, we can definitely rely on them this New Year to guide us into a deeper, more open and honest prayer time with the God who loves us. Happy New Year!