Command and Control

Dan Jenkins

About a week ago I heard President Bush mention that the United States is going to help the new Iraqi government build Command and Control Centers in order to fight the insurgency. When I heard the phrase, ‘Command and Control’ several recollections came to mind. I recall several years ago during the initial phase of the Iraqi war our primary objective was to knock out their command and control centers in order to create confusion and lack of direction among the troops loyal to Saddam Hussein. I also couldn’t help but relate this whole idea of command and control to how the mind works.

Individually, a lack of command and control takes a person down the path of confusion and chaos that is so characteristic of addictive behavior.

It’s been said that an army without the structure of command is led around by its privates. What an appropriate analogy for a sexual addiction! In fact, the rational thinking of your mind is done in the outer layer of your cerebral cortex, and that layer is only a few millimeters in thickness. The cortex makes all the big decisions and psychologists have come to refer to this activity as the ‘executive functions of the brain.’

Below the cortex, running through the heart of your brain like a wishbone, is the limbic system and the source of your emotions. The limbic system is concerned with only a few basic things.

When you walk into a room the first thing your limbic system does is threat assessment, ‘Should I fight or run?’ If there is no threat the question becomes, ‘Is it food and can I eat it?’ If it’s not food the final concern of the limbic system is, ‘Can I have sex with it?’ What do you think would happen if the executive functions that exert command and control over the lower levels of the brain were knocked out by, let us say, a strategically placed cruise missile? The brain would function like an army without an executive commander and the result would be chaos, lack of control, and yes, men being led around by their privates.

Did you know that there are more inhibitory neurons in your brain than there are excitatory neurons? In other words, more effort is spent mentally keeping you from doing things than the energy it takes to do things. Let me clarify this further with some examples. People with brain damage are often impulsive in their actions. They don’t seem to have the executive functions that inhibit impulsive acting out behavior. It takes effort for the rational side of your brain to control the impulsive, emotional side.

Now, add to this that the Limbic system, the emotional part of your brain, does not have an understanding of time or reality. Fantasy seems to satisfy almost as well as reality. For example, you fool your limbic system every time you create a sexual fantasy and your body becomes sexually aroused. You know in your cerebral cortex that this is not reality, but that old limbic system doesn’t seem to know or care.

What happens, then, when you give command and control functions over to that base, lower level, emotional part of your brain? Answer: You stop living in reality. You start living a life of impulsivity and chaos. People who have lost executive functions, either by brain damage or addictive processes, feel threatened by things that should not evoke a fight or flight response. Without command and control, people develop anxiety disorders (see threat everywhere), eat excessively, or become sexually out of control. Sound familiar?

When a person with brain damage has lost command and control over their behaviors, we don’t lay big guilt trip on them. The answer is fairly simple. We structure their environment so they are more likely to succeed. For example, sometimes mentally retarded individuals self-stimulate by banging their heads against a wall. Lectures and shame-based approaches don’t change the self-abusive behavior because it’s not based in rational thought. Instead, we take away a little of their freedom and make them wear a helmet.

People with sexual addictions need some external control too (no, not chastity belts). We call it accountability to someone else. Submit yourself to the authority of another person who can help you make those tough decisions. It’s humbling but the alternative is to stay emotionally retarded.

If your command and control centers are not functioning correctly, seek out someone else who will fulfill that function to some degree. I’ve known very intelligent men who are being led around by their limbic systems because they have a long history or relinquishing control of their executive functions to their basic instincts. It’s very humbling to realize that the path to regaining control involves other people but accountability partners will help you start thinking again with your cerebral cortex.

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

Rebuilding Trust in Friendships

Clint Thomas

Friendships can be an incredible source of stability, encouragement and strength. God said in Genesis 2:18, ‘It is not good for man to be alone,’ thus the friendship between Adam and Eve began. Also in Hebrews 10:24-25 we are exhorted to, ‘spur one another on toward love and good deeds as well as maintain meeting together for the purposes of encouragement.” In other passages (Eph. 4, 1 Cor. 12, Rom. 12) Paul talks of Christians working together as a body in interdependence. All throughout scripture we see examples of the importance of friendships.

A good friendship requires maintenance and care, time and attention. Something we guys don’t think much about this part of friendship, expecting that it won’t require any effort. In effect we sometimes treat friendships as if they have very little value. In large part we have not been taught how to maintain or value these relationships. An unfortunate fact about our culture today is that most men have very few friends compared to women. As a result this has negative effects on our emotional and physical health.

Friendships are primarily about intimacy; knowing another person and being known. The phrases ‘see into me’ or ‘into me see’ describe it well.

Maintenance within a friendship is allowing yourself to be fully known and showing interest in knowing the other person. When this happens a deep connection can be experienced. However, what happens when we are caught up in sin that we are ashamed to share with our friends? Can we be intimate and hide simultaneously?

This is the ultimate struggle in friendships and marriage for that matter; allowing our sin to be known as well as our positive qualities. I hear from wives who are broken by their husband’s sexual sin say, ‘I thought I knew him but I guess I didn’t. I feel so hurt, I don’t know if I can ever trust him again’.

They feel betrayed, foolish and vulnerable. While wives are our closest friends, our other friends will sometimes feel similar.

Friendships are like taking a walk with someone. The further you travel the closer you become. However, at the point you begin to lie, or deceive, you are no longer walking with that person even though they think you are. You have chosen a separate fork in the road.

Rebuilding the friendship is much like walking back to the fork in the road where you separated from your friend and starting from that point forward. Your friend will know that you are trustworthy by your willingness to do this without defensiveness. They will see they are important to you by your willingness to put this kind of effort forward to restore trust with them.

A trustworthy person will have words and deeds that match. What they say and what they do will be the same. They will also acknowledge when they have hurt someone. Taking responsibility for their actions, they will apologize. Their non-verbal communication such as body posture and facial expressions will match this as well. When this repentant stance is taken over a period of time trust will begin to build.

A repentant heart leads to rebuilding trust and reconciliation can be the end result. You don’t have any guarantees that your friend will respond to your efforts but you will never know unless you put the effort forward. When your friend knows that you mean what you say he can trust that it will be safe to get close to you and reconcile an intimate relationship.

The Greek term for reconcile is to bring back to a former state of harmony. This harmony can only be gained when there is true repentance on the offender’s part and therefore safety in the relationship.

For more help on this subject see Every Man’s Battle and The New Life Weekend.

‘Ka-CHOO’

Martin Fierro

Because a Little Bug went Ka-Choo is a silly focus of a book where Dr. Seuss details the ongoing impact of one seemingly small act, a sneeze, which leads to a large disastrous result. At each step of the intensifying destructive storm, the bug follows along in horror of what has resulted from the onset of his behavior. The end of the story concludes with unsettling chaos within the city, which is not any where near being controlled. The last picture of the bug who sneezed is a display of, ‘oh my, look what I did, I am ashamed of myself.’

When a man truly works through his crisis of truth where he has to confront his sexual addiction, he starts to recognize the impact of his seemingly little action on his life environment (family, friends, co-workers, church etc’). There will be raw moments of discouragement, frustration, embarrassment, shame, guilt. In such, it is virtually impossible to escape the snare of depression.

Recovery and depressed moods do frequently go hand in hand. Once in sobriety, uncovered wounds must be dealt with to truly ‘move on’ from the snare of the addiction. Reconciliation with others and personal healing is an initial focus of recovery/sobriety from sexually addictive behavior. But when the momentum for this recovery/sobriety is not in the optimum desired fashion, or rapid speed, men can become depressed and experience a sense of hopelessness. A ‘why bother’ attitude can settle in as well.

In that, working sobriety is a two-edged sword. The one side is the reclaiming of the healthy life God desires for you and the relationship you are in (or going to be in). The other side of the sword is the pain of facing the feelings and thoughts that got you to this point in life (the seemingly little sneeze idea). The actions towards reconciliation with yourself, your relationships with others and with God will naturally cast a light on your soul where you will have to face the true despair of your actions.

Through the ongoing recovery and reflection of life many men will begin to see the very small acts of life that began the ripple effect leading to the complete snare of addiction. This is why it is so important to have a support group and a professional therapist to assist you through these times. If it is attempted alone, the chances for being stuck in those moments (even without realizing it) are extremely high.

Again, it is a benefit when a man turns away from sexual vices pursuing daily sobriety because it does him well to recognize the triggers that led to the disastrous result. Much of that is the turning back the pages of life, facing painful experiences and feelings while recognizing the results from one situation to another.

For some to recognize the impact of the ‘Ka-Choo’ moments in their life can bring on great despair and grief. In the recovery process depression can set in as you turn back the pages of your life to face and come to peace with wounds (humiliation, incompetence, insignificance, and powerlessness) that occurred in your life.

Maybe you are recognizing that the depressed moods you have been struggling with have caused some difficulty in your life: trouble sleeping, changes in your eating habits, significant weight change, difficulty with concentration, feelings of hopelessness, or thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself. These are significant symptoms and signs that you should seek professional mental health support.

Depressed moods can be extremely powerful and debilitating and should not be taken lightly. To find professional support to manage and work through the depressed moods you are suffering from call 1-800 NEW LIFE. As with the recovery process from your sexual vices, depression is something you should never go through alone. Seek help and talk with others confirming your experience. And most importantly don’t underestimate the ripple effects of depressed moods through your recovery process. It may seem like a simple episode but if the depressed moods affect your daily routine and functioning, seek professional help.

See Every Man’s Battle for support.

Why Hasn’t God Delivered Me From This Sexual Struggle?

Sam Fraser

The story line for myself and many Christian men wanting to achieve sexual integrity often feels like an endless pattern of short-term successes and long-term failure. Exasperated, I turned to God crying out, ‘remove this thorn!’ But He didn’t. Hey God, why not? If God is good, and He is; if God is love, and He is; then what’s up with that? There must be another message that God is giving me and it’s not sinking in. Why have I not been delivered from this? The thorn remains.

Paul reports his experience of praying for God to remove a sin pattern that he was unable to master, his personal thorn in 2 Corinthians chapter 12. There is much speculation of what Paul’s thorn actually was but nobody knows for certain. However, I definitely know what mine has been. Perhaps you do as well.

Paul prayed three times to have this ‘thorn’ removed. The Lord’s answer: Uh-uh, nada, zilch, negatory, no deal. God did not deliver Paul from his personal thorn either. Sometimes God is like that; He doesn’t always do the straightforward thing. Paul prayed and did not get the obvious and expected solution. God was up to something else. God was teaching Paul a deeper spiritual truth. For some things, God wants us to rely on Him much more than we normally would.

The answer was elucidated for Paul when he writes, ‘When we are weak, then we are strong’. (2 Cor. 12:10)’.

So, I am spiritually strong when I can confess that my puny human strength fails me. I can identify with that. I cannot maintain my sexual integrity in my own strength, in my own power, through my efforts. God has to supply the strength. The flesh nature is not strong enough and it never will be. But, rather, it is a confession that sets me free from continuing in my futile attempts. It also disrupts the powerlessness and shame of failure that lead to despair. The despair sets in motion a cycle that leads to more acting out.

By confessing that I don’t have what it takes I find healing. I can now agree with Paul that the secret of my strength will be in a willing confession that I don’t have what it takes. Nor will I ever. This has been very restorative. Additionally, knowing that each time I cry out for His strength and relying on Him will make me spiritually stronger. Hallelujah! Now I get it’ duh!

Still, asking for help (cf., my article in the archives on the H-bomb) takes a lot of courage and strength, and/or desperation. Not only the first time, but every time. Eveeerrrry time! Even now, I have to rely on His strength and I have to ask for it. It has taken such a long, long time to follow through and maintain this strategy. After millions of failures (it seemed like that many) I felt like turning away from God and giving up hope because of the depth of my despair. I was humiliated and hated myself for not being able to overcome my acting out.

As a Christian I thought that I should be able to overcome this sin sooner. But the spiritual truth that God taught Paul is that I do not have it within me’ at all. Ever. It is a theological fact. Period.

Initially, I was taught that I needed a Savior to overcome my sinful nature. But, somewhere along the way, I got it in my head that now that I have been a Christian for a while I should somehow be able to achieve moral victories through my own efforts. The misconception was that by this stage of my Christian walk I should have accumulated enough of ‘whatever’ to achieve moral victory. Failure translated into the belief that there was something lacking in me. There was, what has always been there, my human nature. I cannot save me from myself. Knowledge is one thing. Understanding is another. Until the knowledge in my head drops into the heart of my understanding it is like a banging gong and a clanking cymbal.

I am strong only when I confess I am weak. To take it a step further in this weak-strong principle, we must rely on others. It is another aspect of accepting my weakness. But’ that is an article for another day. Blessings.

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

Why Hasn’t God Delivered Me From This Sexual Struggle?

Sam Fraser

The story line for myself and many Christian men wanting to achieve sexual integrity often feels like an endless pattern of short-term successes and long-term failure. Exasperated, I turned to God crying out, ‘remove this thorn!’ But He didn’t. Hey God, why not? If God is good, and He is; if God is love, and He is; then what’s up with that? There must be another message that God is giving me and it’s not sinking in. Why have I not been delivered from this? The thorn remains.

Paul reports his experience of praying for God to remove a sin pattern that he was unable to master, his personal thorn in 2 Corinthians chapter 12. There is much speculation of what Paul’s thorn actually was but nobody knows for certain. However, I definitely know what mine has been. Perhaps you do as well.

Paul prayed three times to have this ‘thorn’ removed. The Lord’s answer: Uh-uh, nada, zilch, negatory, no deal. God did not deliver Paul from his personal thorn either. Sometimes God is like that; He doesn’t always do the straightforward thing. Paul prayed and did not get the obvious and expected solution. God was up to something else. God was teaching Paul a deeper spiritual truth. For some things, God wants us to rely on Him much more than we normally would.

The answer was elucidated for Paul when he writes, ‘When we are weak, then we are strong’. (2 Cor. 12:10)’.

So, I am spiritually strong when I can confess that my puny human strength fails me. I can identify with that. I cannot maintain my sexual integrity in my own strength, in my own power, through my efforts. God has to supply the strength. The flesh nature is not strong enough and it never will be. But, rather, it is a confession that sets me free from continuing in my futile attempts. It also disrupts the powerlessness and shame of failure that lead to despair. The despair sets in motion a cycle that leads to more acting out.

By confessing that I don’t have what it takes I find healing. I can now agree with Paul that the secret of my strength will be in a willing confession that I don’t have what it takes. Nor will I ever. This has been very restorative. Additionally, knowing that each time I cry out for His strength and relying on Him will make me spiritually stronger. Hallelujah! Now I get it’ duh!

Still, asking for help (cf., my article in the archives on the H-bomb) takes a lot of courage and strength, and/or desperation. Not only the first time, but every time. Eveeerrrry time! Even now, I have to rely on His strength and I have to ask for it. It has taken such a long, long time to follow through and maintain this strategy. After millions of failures (it seemed like that many) I felt like turning away from God and giving up hope because of the depth of my despair. I was humiliated and hated myself for not being able to overcome my acting out.

As a Christian I thought that I should be able to overcome this sin sooner. But the spiritual truth that God taught Paul is that I do not have it within me’ at all. Ever. It is a theological fact. Period.

Initially, I was taught that I needed a Savior to overcome my sinful nature. But, somewhere along the way, I got it in my head that now that I have been a Christian for a while I should somehow be able to achieve moral victories through my own efforts. The misconception was that by this stage of my Christian walk I should have accumulated enough of ‘whatever’ to achieve moral victory. Failure translated into the belief that there was something lacking in me. There was, what has always been there, my human nature. I cannot save me from myself. Knowledge is one thing. Understanding is another. Until the knowledge in my head drops into the heart of my understanding it is like a banging gong and a clanking cymbal.

I am strong only when I confess I am weak. To take it a step further in this weak-strong principle, we must rely on others. It is another aspect of accepting my weakness. But’ that is an article for another day. Blessings.

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

Finances and Recovery

Bob Damrau, MS, LPC

How would you answer the question, ‘Am I doing all I can in my recovery today?’ If you strongly respond in the affirmative, then skip down to the closing paragraph’you are probably due a reward. On the other hand, if you find yourself reframing the question”Am I doing what others perceive as my trying (whether or not it is the most I can do)?’ Then read on’you are probably struggling to maintain sobriety. I pray these thoughts will help.

Intention, no matter how good, misleads an individual to think he is on the right path when he really is not. Personal finance is an area that is not openly discussed; yet most acting out behaviors take money. Without this resource a sexually compulsive man can not purchase the means to feed his addiction. But expanding recovery behaviors around finances can play a large role in the journey to health.

Just think of the full amount your acting out behaviors cost you. The purchase of pornography, phone sex and prostitutes constitutes a direct type of expense. But don’t overlook the indirect costs like guilt offerings, (remember the stone Kobe Bryant bought his wife) legal fees, and child support. If you add the time lost while acting out, as an earning opportunity, the overall cost is phenomenal. One member of a therapy group estimated his cost to be half a million dollars!

Now, using adjusted thinking to put the most into your recovery let me suggest two proactive paths for your journey. First, set up financial accountability with a peer in recovery. Here are some suggestions:

‘ Only use checks or a credit card and have your accountability partner review the bank or credit company statement each month

‘ Disclose to both your spouse (if married) and accountability partner all sources of your income

‘ Delete any hiding places for extra cash

‘ Do not carry much cash with you

Being open and honest with your financials could save your sobriety. Second, budget for recovery by establishing a line item in your planned expenditures. Things to consider can include:

‘ Counseling for individual, group and/or couples therapy

‘ Literature to gain understanding of sexual addiction and stay abreast of sobriety techniques

‘ Workshops for support and connection with the larger recovering community

‘ Giving to help others in their journey of recovery

You spent money on the illness. Why not use your resources, now, for your health?

Doing whatever it takes with your finances will kick your structure into high gear. The money you both earn and save will be a blessing as you will be able to reward your sobriety with appropriate gifts at significant milestones. The apostle Paul writes to Timothy, ‘God (has given) us richly all things to enjoy’ (1 Timothy 6:17). Are you doing the best you can today for Him today?

For more help please see Every Man\’s Battle.
And if you are married, please join us for our next New Life Weekend with your spouse.

Where Do You Turn When Tested?

Ray Lueck

What Do You Keep In your Head? Where do you turn when tested?

The week before this last EMB my daily devotional took me to II Chronicles 20 where I read about the battle fought by King Jehoshaphat. The king had quite a task before him.

He was up against 3 other armies and was greatly outnumbered. Let’s walk through this chapter and look at the lessons we can apply to the Every Day Battles that we fight.

Vs.1 Jehoshaphat is a target conspired against and attacked. You and I also have our enemies (supernatural and of the flesh) and we are conspired against and attacked on a daily basis. Satan wants to destroy us. The proliferates of smut want to attack and steal our money, and those tempting people in our lives that flirt with us are out to conquer and consume us sexually or emotionally.

Vs.2 Jehoshaphat had people who reported to him and warned him of the attack. Apparently, this wasn’t just an attack, but a huge overwhelming assault. The good news is that Jehoshaphat was not alone. He had a support system. He had people who were concerned and involved. We can’t fight our battle alone. We have to be tied in to others. We have to let others be our eyes and ears and tell us things that we may not see on our own. Like him, this is not just a little skirmish. This is a life altering battle. If we don’t succeed today, life will never be the same again.

Vs.3 Jehoshaphat freaked out, but wisely turned toward God rather than toward idols. He rallied his support system, by proclaiming a fast through out the land. It’s good to be in touch with our emotions. Whether fear or anger, we need to be aware and expressive. Like Jehoshaphat we can take action in a positive direction. We can fast and pray and ask others to do the same.

Vs.4 The battle didn’t only affect Jehoshaphat, but the whole nation, his whole community. Our battle and our decisions affect countless lives and even generations that are yet to come. Many will be influenced on the basis of our response.

Vs.5 ‘ 12 Jehoshaphat prays. As I look at his prayer, it strikes me that he is using prayer as a means of reinforcing his faith and that of those around him. He is recalling the character, the corroboration and the promises of God to the children of Israel. He isn’t telling God anything He doesn’t already know, he is reminding himself of things he needs to be aware of so that he can walk with deep faith with the one who alone can win the battle. Do our prayers focus on the character of God and the recollection of His hand upon our lives? Are we just praying ‘give me’ prayers, or are we building our faith as we reflect upon Him and commune with God on a personal level?

Vs.12 Jehoshaphat admits, ‘We are powerless’and we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on Thee.’ We can’t win the battle in our own strength, but as long as we keep our focus on Christ He will direct us and lead us in victory.

Vs.13 The whole nation (community) was standing before the Lord; men, women, children and infants. Grandparents, parents, friends, brothers, children and babies surround us. We have the eyes of many upon us. We influence many in our sphere of activity.

Vs. 14 ‘ 17 A prophet of the Lord speaks and tells them ‘The Battle is not yours, but the Lord’s’ Do not fear them or be dismayed’for the Lord is with you.’ We all got to hear words of truth and encouragement at our EMB weekends. We exposed ourselves to the teaching of God’s word and our lives were changed.

Vs.18 ‘ 19 Jehoshaphat and his community bowed to pray and rose to praise the God of creation. They listened to the preaching of the word, took it to heart, and were changed and convicted to follow God in faith, confidence and joy.

Vs. 20 ’22 Jehoshaphat and his community acted in faith. They went forward into the battle with the instructions to put their trust in the Lord. He appointed singers to praise God saying, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for His loving-kindness is everlasting.’ They rose early and obediently to follow God’s directives. They filled their minds and hearts with songs of praise to God. They worshiped together and reinforced one another’s convictions.

Vs. 22 ‘ 23 As they sang and praised the Lord, God set ambushes and turned Jehoshaphat’s attackers against each other, so that they destroyed themselves. Wow, what a beautiful picture. As we focus on God, as we praise Him, He rises to rout the enemy for us. We can’t win this battle on our own. Only He can do it. What a blessing that this battle that we fight gives us the opportunity to learn to trust God and enables us to see His power at work within our lives.

Vs. 24 ‘ 26 Not one of the enemy survived. The people of Judah spend four days picking up all the booty, treasures and weapons of their invaders. It was more than they could carry. When God fights our battles for us. He destroys the enemy and gives us more blessings than we can fully enjoy.

Vs. 27 ‘ 28 They returned to the city of Jerusalem rejoicing together with music. Music played a role in the Preparation, the Battle itself, and in the Aftermath. Their minds and hearts were filled with songs of praise and adoration for the Lord. Their lives were changed and blessed and filled with joy and celebration. What a triumph is ours to enjoy as well.

Vs. 29 ‘ 30 The surrounding nations took notice and had total respect for God and what He did for Jehoshaphat and Judah. They had peace on all sides. As people see God fight our battles, they will respect Him and know that it was God that changed us. God blesses us with peaceful relationships when we live in compliance to His will.

Vs. 31 ‘ 37 Jehoshaphat formed an alliance with the ungodly King of Israel. He disobeyed God in doing this, and the project they worked on together was destroyed. We cannot form any unholy alliances. The Lord will not bless them. Winning one victory does not mean we can never be defeated. Each day is a new battle. Each day we need to put on our armor. Each day we need to trust God, listen to His direction, and make decisions, which are pleasing in His sight. As we do this, we will continue to walk in victory. When we fail to do so, we will experience defeat.

LESSONS TO BE LEARNED:

1). Trouble and temptation are ever present seeking to destroy us.

2). When testing appears, we should turn to God, pray, listen to His word and teachers.

3). We should arm ourselves with praise and use songs of worship to fight our battles.

4). We can’t fight it alone. We need a community. Remember, we affect the lives of many.

5). We are powerless, but when we put our faith in God and thank Him for His mercies, we will see Him rout our enemies and give us more blessings than we can handle.

6). As we obey God, we will have peace in our relationships; but if we form ungodly alliances, God will not bless them and we will experience defeat.

Many of us struggle with Scripture memory. Many of us fill our minds and bodies with things that are not good for us. What kind of music are we listening to? If you have trouble memorizing scripture, try putting it to music, or just singing praise songs that teach scriptural truths. Jehoshaphat fasted. He didn’t use food or liquor to numb his emotions and deny the reality of the problem. We need to be honest and emotionally expressive about the issues and problems we face. He turned to others; he got the rest he needed; he rose early in the morning; he obeyed the teaching of the Lord. He didn’t try to do it on his own, and he didn’t turn to things that couldn’t help him. He did it the right way and God blessed him for it. You can do it the right way too. You have the tools and the training. The battle is not yours; it is the Lord’s. Now go and do it the right way.

For more help please see Every Man\’s Battle.

Battle Strategies for Real Soldiers: Why Accountability Is Important

Dante Poole MA, NCC

“Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)

Accountability. It’s one of the words that bring the same reaction as cod liver oil or enema. You know it’s good for you but it doesn’t feel good. For most men isolation is comfortable and hiding is convenient. We are so use to living in isolation and so use to hiding that the thought of letting others into our sick world causes an adverse reaction. It’s as if we were allergic to being vulnerable, having real connection and living honestly.

When we are driven by fear of exposure, we continue to assume the posture and attitude of Adam that began in the Garden of Eden’hiding and ashamed. All the while God is calling for us. Adam where are you? Why are you hiding? Because God knows the true condition of our hearts He calls us back to Himself through meaningful relationships with other believers. It is through these godly relationships that we begin to experience the love of our Heavenly Father.

God understands the importance of connection. The power and source of sustained victory lies in our willingness to connect with others in the realm of truth. Without this connection our faith in achieving long lasting victory looses its grip and we are left adrift clinging to our old sinful ways of coping with ourselves. It is a dangerous and miserable state to be left to ourselves. A reprobate mind is how the bible describes this state. After many attempts to convince us to do it His way, God allows us to experience life on our own self seeking terms. What a mess we are in when we get everything we desire!

We must make a choice to live life on God’s terms as a soldier or on our own terms as a victim. Being a soldier is much more desirable than playing the victim. There is the potential for spoils, honor, and strength for soldiers. Victims always get the short end of the stick. Playing the victim also means others become our victims and eventually casualties of war.

“One who isolates himself pursues [selfish] desires; he rebels against all sound judgment.” Proverbs 18:1 (HCSB)

A rebel dressed up in victims clothing!

Whenever we choose not to connect with others we rebel against the mandate of community. Once a choice has been made to engage in the Battle for purity as a soldier certain strategies must be utilized as a necessity for survival. One such strategy is accountability. Success in the battle requires, no demands, community. We must choose to fight and fight together!

If this battle were just about managing our sexuality then we would have found a quick easy solution by now. But there is something much more. Much greater than staying away from lustful pleasures of the flesh. There is something about this battle that calls to a place deep within us. At the very core of our being there is a desperate longing to be a man. Ever noticed how men are drawn to movies and activities that involve danger, a damsel in distress and victory to the underdog!

In every man there is a desire to shed his thin skinned boyhood in exchange for thick, leathery manhood; Unashamed and unafraid. Commingled with this desire is a plea to be in the company of other men engaged in the battle. This company provides a place for three things:

A. The challenge to become extraordinary

B. The opportunity to help create change

C. The freedom to develop real connections

This is real accountability. Not some watch dog sent to protect me from myself, but a ‘band of brothers’ who offer refuge, responsibility and respect. It is within the safety of this network that divine surgery takes place transforming wounds into testimonial weaponry.

Joshua said ‘choose you this day whom you will serve’ (Joshua 24:15). I echo his challenge to you. Choose. Either become a soldier and join an army ready to fight or die as an isolated victim. Join a band of men, soldiers even, and learn the art of war. Let them hold you responsible for carrying your load. Let them help you when the load is difficult to bear. Learn to fight in unity with others to keep from dying in isolation.

Live on fellow soldiers, live on!

For help in the battle for integrity see Every Man’s Battle.

Recovery Resistance

Jeffery Baker

There are several behaviors, which sexually compulsive people habitually practice, that make their pathological sexual characteristics resistant to healing. One such unconscious behavior is the isolation practiced in their closest relationships. The need to protect mood-altering sexualization is the same as a cocaine addict hiding their ‘stash’. This can be any type of material, memory, or thought, which is used for inappropriate erotic arousal for escaping the painful life that they have designed.

In addition are the behaviors used to seek out sexual stimuli and recover from the shame based ‘hangovers’.

Isolation hides the true nature of intimate relationships. The confederate is selected for hiswillingness to practice a superficial appearance driven connection. The relationship must focus on its public image. Both addict and the partner mutually and tacitly agree to conceal all the painful shame, anger, and despair caused by lives spinning out of control. The credo of the Saturday Night Live show ‘Looking marvelous is better than being marvelous’ is the marching order of the day. The representation of healthy Christianity is sacrosanct, not the essence.

The result of isolation produces two dysfunctional tenets, which maintain the painful union. The first is replacing intensity for intimacy so the focus becomes the stimulation of the powerful emotions of fear, anger, and eroticism. One can get lost in these strong feelings and never process the content of the problems that are choking the life out of them. The distracting nature of these feelings serves an important purpose which keeps the addiction safe and hidden, and the relational dance intact. The second tenet is the practice of compulsive and obsessive overcontrol instead of a caring emotional connection. The isolation has a ‘no talk, no sharing’ rule which helps keep the separate existence preserved. Power struggles emerge from a climate where two people try to control one another and are obsessed with mistrust and mind reading. This becomes the fodder for all kinds of insane conflict, none of which address the real problem and issues they live with everyday. A caring emotional bond produces security. The overcontrol produces the inability to predict what the other is going to do when they are outside one’s direct grasp. This fact is the basis for many wasted hours of speculation and worry.

Because an emotional and spiritual bond does not unite them, they do not calculate very well how the other will react if they would take the ultimate risk and become honest. A great deal of distorted perceptions grows out of the ignorance that never gets a chance to be checked by the reality test of an actual intimate relationship.

An essential requirement to healing is being emotionally connected and living an open and honest life before God and man. Making this step is daunting for any addict due to the multiple levels of relational change for them and those coupled to them. Often the first level of change comes when a person is ‘busted’ and is faced with consequences that cause terrible shame and anguish. The change begins when one of God’s servants ministers grace and mercy to the busted perpetrator. This powerful supernatural and unnatural exchange between the sexually compulsive person and a true minister of grace begins a slow and developmental process of disclosure. Strangely and spectacularly, isolation and secrets give way to the acceptance and caring bond of confessional and priest. The ensuing battle will be against the established lifestyle and all its potent rewards and the new found freedom discovered in the acknowledgement of sin. The process is life giving but at the same time will feel very threatening.

The opportunity for a human to represent Christ’s love to another eventually leads the recipient to reach upwards to the Great Healer.

This act of hope results in another developmental process of transformation. This will challenge an additional set of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that have kept the enslaved Christian practicing an empty religious front. The religious veneer must fall to expose the true need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Such a process in time will become foundational in their recovery but in the beginning, it will feel intimidating and odd.

While these two levels of change occur another level is clamoring for attention and usually is the most difficult to transform. This is because it involves other people and sometimes a network of people. They invest in things remaining the same but for very different reasons than the addict. They have been involved with the addict because many things about their sick and exterior focused relationship works for them as well. They may find that being open and honest with these people does not result in grace and acceptance but in rejection and shaming.

During this process of change, the addict finds the more he grows in God the more tension it creates with those who resist recovery. This tension must be seen as a gift, because it is through the conflict and how it is managed God can influence change. The vital key is how the addict engages the conflicts and yet builds an emotional bond with those relationships. The final antidote for isolation is the committed emotional bond developed by open honest intimacy with God and man.

For help in the battle for integrity please see Every Man\’s Battle.

Overcoming Fear and Anxiety

Chris Cole

‘Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad,’ Proverbs12:25.

Being anxious or fearful are common emotions that all of us face and deal with, especially when we go into recovery from addictions. Perhaps you have been medicating the anxiety experienced in relationships for many years and now you are for the first time beginning to deal with it in a healthy way. The scripture affirms that anxiety can really weigh a man’s heart down. It can be such a burden that we will do anything to find relief. In this article I will focus on some strategies to help you overcome the struggles with anxiety and fear.

I think that one central fear we face is the unknown. Not knowing what will happen can really drive a person to control their environment and everyone in it. As a result, we try to control so much that is out of our control. We anxiously try to control outcomes, as well as the circumstances. We try to control bad things from happening and people from getting upset with us. I believe that is why we falsely think that our addictions can make life work. We find relief from the anxiety with something that we can control. Take away that and the anxiety comes back. Then we get desperate for something else to take away the anxiety that we can control. Perhaps you struggle with cross addictions, where you take away one addiction (sex) and increase another (smoking).

Learning to deal with anxiety in a healthy way is an essential component to your recovery. The bible teaches that we must renew our mind with the truth, for the truth sets us free.

One strategy is to learn how to recognize anxious thoughts. Beware of: all or nothing thinking; over-generalization, dwelling on the negative, magnification and minimization, and ‘should’ statements. Learn to speak the truth to yourself and to calm yourself down by utilizing positive and truthful self talk.

In Philippians 4, Paul wrote:
‘(6) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (7) And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (9) The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. ‘

I want to highlight the importance of dwelling on the things of verse 8. Verse nine says we need to practice them. You can train yourself to respond (think) in a new way. I also recognize that much anxiety comes as you project yourself in the future. Some people use the acronym FEAR as Future Events Appear Real. I cannot control the future, or how someone may respond or react, but I can control me and what I think in the here and now. So stay in the present. Also remember, take one step at a time. Essential here is learning to give up control over what I can’t control anyway, like what people think of me or how they may react.

If your anxiety is overwhelming, seek the help of a professional Christian counselor. Sometimes medication may be necessary to help you manage while you change the way you think. A counselor can help you process your fear and anxiety and help you develop new ways of handling life. He or she can help you learn to take risks and grow, and depend on God in new way. Peter (1 Peter 5:7) said we are to ‘cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.’

So in summary, learn to accept anxiety, understand it in context, and learn to identify the anxiety producing thoughts and replace them with the truth. I like the serenity prayer that Reinhold Niebuhr wrote because it reminds me that I need to ‘accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and to have the wisdom to know the difference.’

Do you need some help with you fear or anxiety? Please join us at our next New Life Weekend.