More Tools In The Battle: Part 3 of 4: Wash EACH OTHER's Feet?

David S. Mackey

Unless you take the position that washing some other guys’ dirty, stinky feet could be one of the biggest ‘turn-offs’ in history, what could feet possibly have to do with being strong in the battle?

In review, the premise of these articles is that part of winning 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.

Many tools/facets of True Intimacy with God and others are found in the ‘Each Other’ passages of the New Testament. ‘Each Other’ messages can help us build True Intimacy, with God and others.

Jesus’ primary message was to ‘Love Each Other’ or ‘Love One Another’, in a kingdom way right now. Loving others will be a powerful, maybe THE powerful tool, towards fighting this Battle by building True Intimacy. The ‘Each Other’ passages are actions which are to be actions of love, and actions of love build true intimacy. When True intimacy destroys false intimacy the Battles are WON!!!

SERVING and FEET WASHING

Some church communities actually have foot washing ceremonies as part of their worship activities. Most of the church has taken the more symbolic meaning in John 13 and understood Jesus’ intent as being to serve others. In fact Jesus says that this is why the Son of Man came’ to serve.

In Galatians 5:13 the ”each other’ phrase ‘serve each other’ is found. Peter also tells us to serve in 1 Peter 4:10 and throughout the New Testament the message continues. We are called to serve each other.

Back to John 13 and Jesus example of serving by washing his disciples’ feet we find some significant meaning. History tells us that it was the custom, in the times of Jesus’ walk on earth, for people to have their feet washed when they entered a home. Actually, it would be the house servants who would do the washing. More specifically, among the servants, it would be the servants of the lowest status who would do the washing.

So Jesus was not just saying be just any servant but he even modeled taking the position of the lowest servant when you serve. If you think about it, there was good reason for this task to be delegated to the lowest position. People in that day wore open sandals and walked in pretty dirty conditions. The dust and sand would be bad enough but consider all the animals and their deposits made also in the walking area. So people who come walking in off the street would have REALLY dirty feet.

The message of Jesus and the New Testament is to serve each other even to those with the lowliest possible need.

Could this possibly have anything to do with fighting the Battle? I say absolutely.

As has already been said in this series, taking the focus off ourselves and on to others will give us strength in the Battle. A focus on others needs and moving to serve those needs is an even greater distraction to the temptation all around us and it is a distraction from the temptation within us.

Remember the acronym HALT BS? Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, Bored or Stressed. While serving others it will be hard to be focused on Anger or Loneliness or being Bored which are 3 common triggers toward acting out.

What about how we feel about ourselves? Hasn’t it been the case that in our acting out we feel pretty lousy about ourselves. Our goal in serving others should not be to make ourselves feel good but the truth is that serving others will make us feel better about ourselves. In Christ, we are ‘new creatures’ we should think and feel good about who we are in Christ. Serving will reinforce that truth. Serving will build us up, it will encourage us. Serving will put us in touch with love’ loving another and being loved. Serving is the ultimate esteem builder.

The kind of service we are called to is part of intimacy. Washing another’s feet seems like a pretty intimate activity. As with Encouragement, it does involve looking more deeply into people and seeing their struggles and needs. Serving puts our focus more often on others, take the focus so perpetually on ourselves and builds up who we are in Christ.

Can you see this as yet another tool in the Battle? What difference would your Battle be if you were focusing on the needs of others? How would you feel about yourself if your focus were on others’ needs and not your own desires.

The Battle needs to be fought on many fronts, using many internal and external tools. Serving others though an external tool will internally change and strengthen your heart giving you strength in the Battle.

Serve Each Other!

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

More Tools In The Battle: Part 2 of 4: Encourage EACH OTHER

David S. Mackey

In review , we are working on the premise 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. It is a pursuit of loving with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. This experienced, is True Intimacy.

Many tools/facets of True Intimacy with God and others are found in the ‘Each Other’ passages of the New Testament. ‘Each Other’ messages can help us build True Intimacy, with God and others.

Pursuing the ‘Each Other’ principles will enhance our relationship with God and others. In so doing, we will find more victory in the Battle.

We have already looked at ‘Love Each Other’ or in some translations, ‘Love One Another’. One of Jesus’ primary message was to Love Each Other in a kingdom way right now.

Loving others will be a powerful, maybe THE powerful tool, towards fighting this Battle by building True Intimacy. The ‘Each Other’ passages are actions of love, and actions of love build true intimacy. When True intimacy destroys false intimacy the Battles are WON!!!

ENCOURAGE and BUILD UP EACH OTHER

The exhortation to encourage or build up one another is mentioned a number of times in the NT. Romans 14:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 3:13 and Hebrews 10:25 tell us to build up or encourage each other. This repetition makes me think that encouragement is pretty important. Repeated 4 times, do we have to wonder why?

Think about those times in which you have been discouraged or beat down. Sometimes those times can get so dark that we don’t even want to keep going. Not necessarily thinking about actual suicide but just wanting to give up on life. When we stop trying and or stop working toward goals we of course become pretty vulnerable in the Battle. Ever been there?

Now think about those times when you have been encouraged. What kind of strength does it give you?

Encouragement heals, it does build up. It makes us stronger. Being encouraged and built up is a wonderful tool in the Battle.

But the call is not only to be encouraged; we are also invited to encourage others. You will find healing and strength if within your life focus is a habit of encouraging others. You will in turn be encouraged and built up by others in response to you being an encourager.

Encouragement is part of intimacy. Encouragement does involve looking more deeply into people and seeing the struggles of their heart, their behavioral struggles, and the situations in which others find themselves; their emotional, spiritual and relational struggles. It is in knowing another’s struggle that we can know how and when to encourage. And of course, knowing another’s struggle and addressing it through encouragement is a piece of True Intimacy. When we are discouraged, we most often want to isolate. But we need to come out–to be authentic about our discouragement so that others can see in us (In-to-me-see) and know how to encourage and build up.

How will you find encouragement? It will be difficult for others to encourage you if you are not living an authentic, open, and honest life. Our past behavior, most often, was to take our pain, our struggles, our failures, our hurts and hide them. We tried to take care of them ourselves. We pretended to others that we were ‘okay’.

If we are living lives that are authentic, if we are open about our struggles, if we are honest about our shortcomings and needs, there will be OTHERS who will encourage us, who will build us up. It is in those encouragements that we will find growth and strength. It is in encouragement that we will find healing.

Encourage others and be encouraged.

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

The Importance of Grace in Recovery

Jonathan Daugherty

My daughter just started kindergarten this week. What an exciting time of new beginnings and endless possibilities. These first few steps of her educational journey are memorable and mark the start of a truly adventurous quest for increased knowledge. The buzz created in our home because of my daughter’s first days of school caused me to reflect on the process of recovery and the essential ingredient to lasting purity: grace.

One thing I can assure my daughter (as well as you who are hiking the trail toward purity) is that the journey has obstacles. Just as my daughter will encounter barriers to her educational growth, so too will you encounter seemingly insurmountable challenges in your pursuit of sexual purity. You may hit a wall of frustration, boredom, or temptation in your recovery. The fact that recovery requires resistance is sometimes discouraging to the point of wanting to give up. But rather than take the path of least resistance (which only leads to more pain and disappointment), press forward on the path to personal purity.

The challenges we face in our pursuit of purity are no secret. Laziness, pride, temptation, even relapse. These obstacles attempt to impede our progress and reignite the deadly flames of shame in our minds and hearts. If we allow them to stunt our growth in recovery, we lose momentum and soon find ourselves contemplating old acting out behaviors. From there it is a short trip to deeper bondage in sexual sin.

What then allows a man to break through these barriers and enjoy ongoing, long-term freedom in sexual purity? A proper understanding and application of grace is a great starting point. Grace is God’s favor poured out on undeserving, sin-stained men just like you and me. It is God’s continual “stamp” of approval and acceptance on His children. As God’s child, you are forever engaged by him within the loving boundaries of grace – even when discipline is necessary. To understand such grace begins to put into perspective the many obstacles along the road to purity.

How do you apply this grace in a practical sense when faced with a very real obstacle such as temptation or laziness? First, you must recognize that something has gone awry in your recovery plan. The ship is taking on water, so-to-speak, and something needs to be done to correct it. Let’s say you realize that you have begun to drift toward certain sexual temptations, maybe lingering on seductive websites or TV shows. You haven’t “crossed the line” to porn, but you are drifting. Applying grace to such a situation would include first recognizing that a drift is occurring, and then reminding yourself that whatever you choose to do from that point on, God still loves you. That’s right. Grace is given, not because it is deserved, but because of Christ’s sacrifice for you. Most often, such a reminder will cause you to see that any more movement toward sin would only bring pain, shame, and disappointment. Grace, therefore, leads us to repentance and purity.

I once knew a counselor who used a very unconventional practice to help smokers overcome their habit (and I am not necessarily recommending it here). After several months in counseling and support group therapy, the counselor would instruct his clients to spend one week carrying a pack of cigarettes in their pockets. Not so they would smoke them, but rather so they knew that at any moment they could pull one out if they chose to. This counselor wanted to teach his clients that they had a choice – they did not need to be controlled by the cigarettes, they could choose what to do with their lives. Grace often reminds us of this scary truth – we have a choice. We can choose to walk humbly before God and others and receive the blessings of God’s grace, or we can choose to live in pride, calling the shots and suffer the consequences of isolation, shame, and broken relationships.

Seeing my daughter’s excitement at beginning school also reminded me that the road to recovery is worth it. There is a benefit to pressing through the obstacles and discomfort to reap the reward of peace and true contentment. Although there may be moments (even seasons) of difficulty and disappointment, the long-term results of a lifestyle of purity are worth it. And for every moment, or season, of obstacles and challenges, we are assured that God’s grace is sufficient.

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

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.

Full Disclosure

Larry Colclasure, M.S., LPC

Disclosure, as I’m sure we all know, is one of the toughest processes to go through. There is no good way to disclose, it is not a natural process, it is the result of the enemy and sin.

The first step to making a good disclosure is to go from defense to offense. We have been defensive for a long time, trying to hide what we have been doing, trying to cover our tracks, trying to find time to get away, to act out, and even lying to the most important people in our lives. It is time to stop defending these behaviors, admit the truth and get on the offense for our recovery (which includes our connection with God), marriage, and relationships. We choose to attack our sickness and our sin for these reasons and the front line of the battle is honesty.

There are a couple of big mistakes that many of us make at this time.

The first one is to hold back some things, to only do a partial disclosure. This takes some real balance. It is not good just to go to your spouse and vomit all your guilt. You might feel better, but your spouse will not feel good at all after being vomited on. At the same time, if you just admit to a portion of your behaviors, when the rest becomes known, it is much harder and more painful to deal with. And the rest always seems to become known. So it is best to disclose all the behaviors, types of behaviors, places we have acted out, and if we have acted out with someone our spouse knows, they need to know that name. Our spouse does not need to know any gory details or specifics. It is very common for a spouse to start asking a lot of questions. I recommend that we agree to answer any questions she has if she will take a month to pray about her need to know and get counsel about this first.

The second mistake is to start justifying what we have done and why we have done it. Our spouse is not interested in the why right now. It is time to admit the truth, take ownership of our decisions and our sickness. Trying to justify will usually just stir up more anger from our spouse.

The third mistake is to blame others for our behavior. Other people have impacted us and the reasons for our sickness are many, but now is not the time to discuss this. It is time to own my stuff, stay present, and take what I have coming to me.

That brings up the next issue which is, what I have coming to me. Most of the time, the addict has been escalating in behavior, hiding more and more, taking more and more time and getting farther away from relationships. It is often a real release to get this all out and still be alive. For the spouse, it is usually just the opposite. She has been going along thinking things are okay, or not sure about things, and then this bomb is dropped. She is reeling from this and trying to deal with emotions, thoughts, and consequences. She needs time and space to have her reactions. This timing is different for each person.

This is why it is so important to get some support and guidance. If I am not a home builder, it would not be too smart to tear my house apart and rebuild it without some guidance and help. If I am not an electronics specialist, it would not be too smart to tear my TV apart and try to repair it. I believe, and my experience has shown, that our marriages and relationships are much more complicated than any building or TV set. Therefore I believe it is very important to get some guidance and support.

This will come in three areas, first for the disclosure, then for the addict after disclosure to continue his journey in recovery, and for the spouse to deal with the damage and to rebuild.

Like I said, there is no perfect way to do disclosure, but I would like to share a model that can give some guidance. First is to list what you have done. Write this out and give it some time to make sure you have all that needs to be said and only what needs to be said. You will need some help with this. Second, list why you are stopping the behavior, why you are wanting to change. Third is to list what you are doing right now to stop the behavior and to attack your sickness and sin. Fourth is what you are going to do in the future to make sure you do not return to this behavior. I know that we can relapse any day, but we can have actions and plans in place to help us make the right choices each day too. And last is to list what your hopes, dreams, and wishes are for this relationship in the future. Where do you want to be in two years, five years, and ten years with this person?

Sometimes a spouse is not willing to hear any more than the first step. That is okay, that’s where she is right now. I need the other steps to understand that I am on the offense and know where I am headed. My ability to stay focused in this direction and continue in my recovery is the best tool I have to win her back.

For help, please see Every Man’s Battle.
There is also great help for your spouse. Please encourage her to join us at our next New Life Weekend.

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.

Trick or Treat’Choosing Authenticity

Dante Poole MA, NCC

Ask a kindergartener what they want to be when they grow up and most will give you an answer without hesitation. In the mind of a child the possibilities are endless as they are allowed the freedom to dream big dreams because they are children and well’the possibilities are endless. By middle school most early adolescents begin to exchange their big dreams for someone else’s small fantasy. The greatest heist occurs during these years as the enemy begins to seduce us through the influence of our peers, into believing that we need to be just like them. Using our need to belong and the threat of that need not being met, our dreams latent with the truth about who we were suppose to become, get tabled in exchange for cheap Halloween costumes that we accept as our new identity.

If you have ever worn one of those costumes you know how uncomfortable they can be.

As a child my parents allowed us to celebrate Halloween. Every year we would get a new costume and participate in some party or gathering highlighted by tons of the sugary treasures we hoarded in our pockets, socks, plastic jack-o-lanterns, themed plastic bags or the old faithful brown paper bag. Most outfits were plastic jumpsuits with drawstrings that got tied around your neck. There were two very distinct features about these outfits;

(1) no matter which character you chose to be (or in some cases the only character left on the shelf because your parents waited to the very last moment to buy your costume) there was always a part of your back that remained exposed leaving part of your true identity without concealment;
(2) the rubber band that held that hot plastic mask to your face always irritated your head as you sweated profusely all the while yelling ‘Trick or Treat!’

Oh, the lengths we went to become someone else.

The truth is we enjoyed those outfits because for a moment in time we had the chance to be something or someone we admired. The costumes, whether superhero or super-beast/creature, had characteristics we longed to have in our own lives and we chose them so that we could pretend to be able to leap over buildings in a single bound. We were faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive.

Unfortunately, masses of men are still running around hidden behind hot sweaty masks with their backs exposed hoping no one will notice that it’s just a costume. We have somehow convinced ourselves that as long as we wear the costume and play the part no one will know the truth. Our lives have become adjusted to the darkness of our concealment to the point that we have become crafty as actors, playing our roles so well that we can no longer distinguish between the false persona and the real person. When faced with the truth about ourselves we fortify our masks and push others away so that we can remain in darkness.

The scripture says in Luke 8:17 ‘For everything that is hidden or secret will eventually be brought to light and made plain to all’. (NLT)

Have you ever met a child who wanted the trick instead of the treat? What disappointment a child would experience if they got duped into believing that they had a bag full of treats only to discover later that they had been hoodwinked. Have others experienced this disappointment because they were expecting to encounter the genuine you and what they ended up with is feeling tricked? We cannot hide in darkness forever. We are called to live authentically. That means we not only tell the truth about ourselves, but we live the truth and accept that some people will not be able to engage us with loving kindness when they see us for who we really are. To live authentically can be unnerving for those who are skilled at hiding.

One truth that has helped me in my struggle for genuine transparency is knowing that God loves me despite all of my failures, bad decisions and all the other things about my life that make me want to take cover. He loves me, not the person others say I should be, not the person I wish I could be’.He loves me and that’s the truth. The Father Almighty takes pleasure in bestowing His love, mercy and favor upon all those who would dare to live the truth. His love looks beyond our faults and meets our need for love.

Here are three steps to towards living more authentically:

1. Learn to tell yourself the truth. Jeremiah 17:9-10a says ‘The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives.’ It is part of our human condition to lie to ourselves about our abilities, limitations and the true nature of our condition. Left on our own we will make a mess of our lives. What is it that keeps us from being honest with ourselves? Pride. It is being confident in our own ability to fix things. The trouble in our lives didn’t get there because of someone else but because we refused to accept our own limitations for fear of being seen as weak or failures. If you re-examine every failure in your life you’ll find bread crumb trails that lead you back to moments of pride & self sufficiency. All of us are in need of spiritual heart surgery.

2. Let God show you how to live in any way that seems right to Him. Sometimes we are expecting God to do things according to what we have determined is the right course of action. The problem is that God’s ways are above our ways and His thoughts are above our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). We are all guilty of trying to tell the Expert how to do His job. The Lord knows what is best and He chooses the course of action that best accomplishes His will for the lives of humanity. Trust the Expert.

3. Look at the man in the mirror. Authenticity requires regular self examination even when things are going well’no especially when they are going well. Surveying our hearts for the little things we let slide because they don’t seem to matter, will make all the difference. What we won’t deal with today, will deal with us tomorrow.

Either we make a choice to come into the light freely or God will allow circumstances to bring us into the light through consequence. Never ever forget that God is with you and longs to reveal the real you to the rest of the world because you are an expression of His love. The earth becomes a better place when men decide to take off their masks and live an unconcealed, unveiled life. Walk in the light and may every person who encounters you discover the treat that God has gift wrapped in the package called you.

When the Bathroom Door is Locked

Dwayne Collins

Recently, my wife and I were flying on a small commuter jet. The plane was full and we had the last row on the right side of the airplane. I was on the aisle and immediately behind and to my left was the sliding bathroom door. I was trying to read, but was aware of the people as they entered the door to the bathroom.

I vaguely noticed a little child, about 4 years old, enter the bathroom and slide the door shut. A short time later, I thought I heard a light tapping. I listened, and again I heard the tapping. It was getting louder and louder. It was apparent that the child, a little girl, had locked the door and didn’t know how unlock it. She was stuck.

I glanced across the aisle and the passenger there nodded his agreement with my assessment. I got out of my seat and tried to slip the slide lock with my finger, to no avail. I got close to the door and yelled for the child to slip the lock back, but she could not understand. I could tell the she was beginning to cry.

I knew that an adult next to an empty seat was probably her parent. I walked about four rows forward and found a lady sitting alone. I told her that her child was locked in the bathroom and couldn’t get out. She looked back and motioned to her husband who was sitting two rows back. He jumped up and tried to force the door open. By this time, the flight attendant, a male, came and began to work the door. He finally got it open and freed the child. Crying, she climbed into her father’s arms to be comforted.

I was reminded of another time, years ago, when my sister was taking her three children to Florida from Illinois on the train. My nephew experienced the same fate. He too, was hysterical by the time he was freed from his prison, unaware of all that was going on, outside of his sight and understanding, to unlock the bathroom door.

Isn’t this just like us. We get ourselves locked in the bathroom and can’t get out. We panic and yell because we don’t know what is going on outside the door. Yet, all the time, God is making the necessary arrangements to rescue us.

The problem is that we can’t see what is going on outside of our sight. We don’t know what God is doing to help us. We begin to doubt. We take matters into our own hands. We think we have to devise a plan instead of letting God work.

This happened in Genesis 15 when God promised Abraham (Abram) a child, even though he was already old, and his wife Sarah (Sarai) was long past child bearing age. Abraham could not see how God was going fulfill His promise. He did not know how God was going to get him out of the locked bathroom of childlessness. So he and Sarah panicked and took matters into their own hands. Sarah gave her maidservant to Abraham to bear a child.

To sit in the locked bathroom and wait on God takes faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. So, even when we are in the bathroom, and don’t see what God is doing, we can be patient and know that God has a plan.

We need to remember that God hears the first tap on the door. Daniel found this in Daniel 10:12. Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.

Are you locked in a bathroom? Have you tapped on the door? Do you think that no one has heard your tap? Be assured, even when we lock the door ourselves, and don’t know how to unlock it; when we tap on the door, and are not sure anyone has heard; when you are trapped in circumstances that you don’t know how to get out of, don’t be alarmed. God has heard your tap on the door. He will answer.

In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. Psalm 31:22.

Join us at our next New Life Weekend.

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.