Celebrate Your Victories!

Jonathan Daugherty

There is one thing I wish we as Christians were much better at doing, and that is celebrating. We tend to struggle on the whole at really cheering one another on in the faith and throwing parties in honor of those demonstrating the character of Christ. In this article I want to challenge you to cultivate an attitude of celebration in your ongoing pursuit of purity.

God designed us for joy! He didn’t design our minds, bodies, or spirits for anxiety, depression, or gloom. Yet, how often do you find yourself stressed to the max and feeling as if you can’t breathe under the weight of your life? The pace of life, the onslaught of temptation, and uncontrollable circumstances beat you down. But is that reality from God’s perspective or just the excuse often used?

The truth is that it is simply easier to point out faults than to celebrate victories. One reason for this may be that we are spending more time giving into temptation than we are living in purity. But does that mean we must wallow in our sin and shame while our moments of faith and resolve go completely unrecognized? I think not.

One thing I have found to be true in pursuing purity is that the “domino effect” works in both directions, whether following our lusts or following Christ. The more we give into temptation the easier it becomes to fail more quickly the next time we are faced with a similar situation. Conversely, the more we discipline ourselves to obey Christ, taking every thought captive, and connecting with our band of brothers, the stronger we become in resisting attacks. Because of this principle I believe it is all the more important that we develop an ongoing attitude of celebration, not only for our own benefit but for the benefit of other brothers striving for purity.

I have numerous people contacting me every week, wanting to know how to break free from sexually destructive habits. I try to respond to every person based on the core values of ministry (hope, integrity, humility, honesty, compassion, perseverance, accountability, faith, and love). The values that amaze people most about how I interact with them are hope and love. Many times people will attempt to argue that their situation is unique and they really can’t be free. But I never back down from the hope of freedom available to everyone through Christ. What many of these individuals have missed much of their life is someone sharing the truth with them and cheering them on when the journey is hard. They have never been celebrated for doing what is right, only chastised and shamed for their sin and addiction.

Jesus Christ was the incarnation of joy. Many times, because of the very serious nature of his mission (salvation of all mankind) we tend to picture him sullen and, well, miserable. Last time I checked, I didn’t see throngs of people dashing to see a sullen, miserable person. People were drawn to Jesus because He exuded life, true life. As his followers we are to do the same. And one way we do this is by celebrating the successes we, and others, have on our journey to purity.

Here are a few ideas on how you can celebrate your victories:

When you meet a purity goal

– Give yourself a gift of some sort to remind you of meeting that goal.

– Share a meal with your band of brothers in honor of accomplishing your goal.

– Celebrate with a favorite hobby or activity (i.e. golf, hunting, professional sporting event, etc.)

When you resist temptation

– Call a buddy to share the success with them.

– Say, “Thank you Jesus for this victory!”

– Write down what happened to remind you later of the victory.

Here’s the real key to celebrating victories: don’t celebrate alone! God wants us connected, to Him and to others around us. We can certainly have personal moments of celebration just between us and the Lord, but the ongoing impact of celebration is most often realized in the context of others. Surround yourself with people of celebration who understand how to balance getting excited about doing the right thing and holding you accountable when you stray.

So, how’s your “celebrateability?” I challenge you to watch for the moments and situations worthy of celebration. Then, don’t be afraid to cut loose and enjoy the freedom God has given!

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

Celebrating God’s Attributes: His Goodness

Gary Burkle

One of the blessings of being a child of God is the imparting, by God, of some of His attributes into the believer. The holy Spirit is the indwelling presence of God in the believer. “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16-17)

When we accept Christ as Savior, He sends the Holy Spirit, the counselor, to live within us. We know some of the significant attributes of the Holy Spirit from Galatians 5:22…(“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, GOODNESS, faithfulness, and self-control”). Therefore, Goodness is one of the attributes God imparts to us as part of the gift of salvation.

We, then, can allow the Holy Spirit to affect us and our behavior through a series of conscious choices throughout our life. He helps make us GOOD.

This is one of the true blessings of accepting Christ as Lord and Savior. As we grow in our walk with God in the Christian life we become a better and better (a GOOD) person. This is a by-product of the Christian life-style. We humans are truly blessed to be able to participate with God in His goodness through this phenomenon.

We are able to access the attribute of God’s Goodness in our own life’s behaviors and actions by becoming more like Christ. We do this, in some measure, by developing the “Mind of Christ”

. “…the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) We develop the “Mind of Christ” by conversing with him through prayer, learning and internalizing His word (reading/studying the Bible), and through fellowship with fellow believers (the Church/smaller Christian groups). Certainly the indwelling “counselor,” “advisor,” the Holy Spirit helps us in this endeavor of having a Christian life-style.

Now let’s look at a practical application. Purity as a life-style choice: If we are struggling with sexual sin, purity in our life is the key to successful recovery. Purity in thought and deed is incompatible with continued sinning in the sexual area. Sinning in the sexual area of the Christian’s life is defined as sexual contact outside of marriage. In addition, the obsessive viewing of pornography resulting in dysfunctional levels of masturbation, qualifies as sexual sin. A sexually driven thought life is a tell-tale sign of these sins, as well. A sexually driven thought life objectifies the object of our lust and, therefore, dehumanizes a child of God. This is a sin, pure and simple. These inappropriate thoughts also often lead to sinful behaviors, and are incompatible with the holy living life-style urged by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is good and pure and demands that the believer adapt to His standards to allow His continued relationship with us. We must be good and pure to provide an appropriate home for the indwelling Holy Spirit. In turn, He will empower us to experience his attributes, such as goodness and purity, through his power.

To be sure, all humans will be tempted by inappropriate and/or sinful thoughts. There is a spiritual war going on all around us. Part of that spiritual war is the bombardment of our minds with tempting images or thoughts. This can be complicated and exacerbated in our minds if we have engaged in sexual sin in the past.

The more sin we have been involved in, the more challenging images and thoughts we must deal with. In our past sexual sin, we have moved from the tempting thoughts or “triggers” into sinful behaviors, as described above. The more we have done this sexual sinning, the more difficult our struggle for goodness and purity will be now. Most of us need help in this “battle”.

The best answer to successfully combat these maladaptive thoughts and behaviors is found in the principles taught in the Every Man’s Battle workshops. The practical teachings available in the EMB workshops are the best hope for an individual’s successful recovery process. Successful recovery is defined as sexual purity or sexual sobriety.

The principles taught in EMB are tried-and-true principles based on the addiction model. These principles work when diligently applied by the individual. The true key to the success of the EMB workshop model, however, is that it is Biblically based. The EMB workshop model is, at root, based on Biblical truth, and therefore, represents the best hope for success. God bless you in your “Battle.” It is worth the fight.

Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle

Kent Ernsting

I was smitten from my first sight of him. The first time I held my newborn son in my hands the tears began to well up in my eyes. A deep sense of love enveloped me when I looked into his amazing eyes. I loved that little guy with everything within me. I thanked God for him and I pledged him back to God from that moment. I was struck with the tremendous stewardship responsibility that I now had, to raise him to become a godly young man. I knew that I could not complete that task without God’s help and the help of many others along the way.

Now he’s 14 years old, stands 5’8′ tall, and he’s strong enough to fold me into a pretzel. He routinely aces me on the tennis court. He’s a fullback on his freshman soccer team and he feels responsible for every ball that an opponent gets past him and into the net. He’s smart and brave and he wants to show others that he has what it takes to be a man. I will probably not know if I have successfully completed my task of parenting him until he is in his thirties. The indicator will be whether or not he is living a God -honoring life and rearing godly children.

I don’t know about you, but the challenge of shepherding my son through his young adult years with purity as the goal has been a daunting one for me. How can I talk to him about purity when my own sexuality has been complicated? I have had to deal with my own issues on the subject. We all know intuitively that we need to be the one talking to our kids about sex, but how do we do it?

I am an imperfect parent, but I want to pass along some tips and strategies that I have learned from others and have used with my son.

The first is the principle that RELATIONSHIPS COME FIRST. As long as I keep the relationship that I have with my son strong, then he will be willing to receive guidance and coaching from me. As Josh McDowell says, RULES WITHOUT RELATIONSHIP LEADS TO REBELLION.

I look for ways to spend time with him. Relationship growth occurs when we do things together like going to his games, working together on projects, playing pool with him, and taking him camping with me. It helps me to relate to my son and for my son to relate to me. Relationships are what life is all about.

I want him to know deeply and intimately how to connect with another person in a life-long committed relationship. I want him to experience it first in our father/son relationship. Eventually he will transfer that into a relationship with his wife.

Sex education is really not so much a matter of providing information as it is a matter of deliberate character formation. The first messages are the most potent; it is far more powerful to form a child’s view of sexuality from scratch than it is to correct the distortions the child will pick up in the world. This is a concept that I picked up from a very helpful book by Stanton and Brenna Jones, entitled How & When to Tell Your Kids About Sex. In fact, it was their book that gave me what I needed to know and say to my son when we had our first ‘key talk’ in a local restaurant. After I finished my explanation he asked, ‘Dad, do you eat that green stuff?’ as he pointed to the parsley on my plate.

I took my son camping for a weekend before he entered junior high school. Together we listened to the ‘Preparing for Adolescence’ tapes by James Dobson and we talked about the content of the tapes. Between disc golf and fishing we discussed what would be happening to him in the coming years.

We spent a weekend at a sexual abstinence until marriage conference interacting with various speakers, presentations and youth events. We went to a Promise Keeper rally for youth where the message o purity was presented through music, worship, extreme sports, speakers, and multimedia.

I take him to church regularly and help him plug in with youth groups and their events. Now he is attending Young Life where the message of purity will be reinforced. I want him to know about redemption when he stumbles and about the love of his creator sustaining him throughout his life.

Look for opportunities that will challenge both you and your son such as rock climbing, rappelling, or canoeing. Bathe your son and his future wife in prayer. Let’s talk about how it turns out when our sons are in their thirties.

Please see Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle.