The following is the video from a webinar I presented for the Apologetics Academy on God's Design for Sexuality. If you want to skip to "the good stuff" just go to 1:09:06(ish).
Click here if you'd like to download the PDF handout for the webinar.
I wrote a book. Again. (Sort of.)
Secrets is the story of my 13-year struggle with sexual addiction and the freedom I discovered in the Light of God’s grace. It was originally published in 2009 under a different publisher, so it was in need of a facelift.
Our current publisher, New Growth Press, has done a wonderful job of breathing new life into this work. I hope now it will reach thousands more who are struggling in the darkness of secrecy to find the hope and freedom that comes from living in the Light.
Please share this post or the following links with anyone who could use inspiration and hope.
Available on Amazon.com or NewGrowthPress.com.
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My whole life I have struggled with depression. It's been an on-and-off thing since as far back as I can remember. It's not something I talk about very often. I have been on medication in the past to help regulate my mood. It is one of my core weaknesses, like a "thorn in my side." And although I have discovered on life's journey that I don't need to live in fear of my weaknesses, there is no guarantee I will not feel afraid because of them.
My imagination is vivid and active, just ask my wife! This is a great blessing when attempting to write or tell stories, but it can be quite crippling when mixed with a depressed mood. Several years ago I was going through my mental checklist of all the events and tasks and projects our ministry had coming up in the months ahead. The list just kept going and going and... I felt this wave of pressure come crashing down on my soul. I wanted to kick and thrash, try my hardest to swim to the surface of this overwhelming ocean. But instead I was frozen, unable to move, suffocating. Fear enveloped me and I felt myself slipping into emotional unconsciousness.
As I experienced the scene above, my mind wandered through a trail of old movies. I love movies, especially those with lots of plot twists. I'm always drawn to stories that have an element of free-spirited living, like in Shawshank Redemption when Tim Robbins' character refuses to let the walls of prison entrap his sense of wonder and hope, or Eric Liddle in Chariots of Fire, feeling God's pleasure when he ran. Freedom, hope, these wonderful passageways that lead the burdened heart to a place of calm and lightness. But sometimes I feel like these passages are walled off, or constantly moving, requiring more and more searching to find their treasures.
I believe God is not cruel or into playing games with our emotions. I believe He is what His Word says, a loving Father who cares infinitely more for us than all else in His creation. And although I believe this, I still find it a great mystery that God allows His children to suffer, to endure pain and unanswered questions, and even prevent some "thorns" from being removed. This mystery doesn't cause me to abandon my faith, but it is puzzling nonetheless. I really don't want to struggle with depression, yet it lingers. I want to feel at peace, unburdened, able to breath, but the seasons come in which I taste nothing, see nothing, feel nothing. Is God uncaring? Absent? Busy?
Ironically, it has been through my depression that my love for God has deepened. I'm not saying I would have chosen this method, but this has been my journey. I often picture God as an endless ocean. His richest treasures are not found washed up on the shore, but deep in the depths of the waters miles and miles away from all that is safe and "firm." The more I venture into those "unsafe" waters the more my weaknesses are exposed -- and experienced! I flounder, sink, gag. But then something unexpected happens. In certain moments I'm enveloped not by my weakness, but by the majesty, power, and grace of God. The waves of my depression that sought to crush my soul are replaced by waves of God's steadfast love and tender heart. And although the power and force of just one cresting wave in the ocean of God could completely destroy me, instead it refines me, instructs me, moves me, heals me.
I still don't like feeling depressed. And I don't always manage my fear of it very well. But for the moments God reveals to me how His power is made perfect in weakness, I will press on. I will not give up. I will confess my frailty, acknowledging my complete emptiness apart from Christ. Then, and only then, do I know what it means, "When I am weak, then I am strong."
Are you wrestling with God over your weaknesses? If not, I hope you will. Not because I think you'll win. No, I hope you will wrestle over them because sometimes it's the only way to get into deep enough water to see the rich treasures of God. That's a sight worth seeing, and something I believe God only reveals to the truly broken; even the depressed...
The Cry of the Soul
by Dan Allender
Order on Amazon.com
I attended a ministry workshop years ago with my wife. We were there to learn about how to prevent burnout when working in full time ministry. The speaker made a comment in one of his teaching sessions that really floored me. He said, "God is extremely inefficient in His character." I didn't really know how to react to such a statement. I leaned in, blinked my eyes a few times to remove any mental cobwebs, and waited to hear what he might say next to clarify this perplexing comment.
He went on to say that God, if He were efficient, would carefully measure everything He did. Why place a million flowers on a field in South America that no person may ever see? Why fill the sky with billions of stars in galaxies we will never know about? Why create thousands of sea creatures when just a few dozen would have gotten the point across about His creativity? If a business analyst in the 21st century were to evaluate "God's business" he would have to conclude that the operation is running at a loss. There is too much extravagance. God does not operate "efficiently."
As I pondered this idea, a powerful truth began to sink in - and I rejoiced at the inefficiency of God. What if God were efficient in His dealings with me, a stubborn, selfish child? What hope would I have if He were not one who poured out His love, lavished His mercy, and filled me to overflowing with His grace? The extravagance of God has been offered to me. I am, therefore, thankful for the inefficiency of God.
The longer I thought about this truth the more I was convicted of how I treat other people. I became painfully aware that I often interact with others in ways that attempt to measure everything, a way that is "efficient." I attempt to keep everything "even" between me and others. They pay me a compliment, I return the compliment. I borrow something, I lend something. Measure, measure, measure.
My heart grew sad as I thought of how this must break God's heart to see His children, who have been given the keys to the doorway of heaven, selfishly mete out the bare minimum of blessing on those around them. Jesus spoke of such inconsistency when he shared the parable of the unmerciful servant. (Matt. 18:23-30)
He said, "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents (millions) was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (pennies). He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.
"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt."
God refuses to "measure out" His goodness, grace, mercy, and love toward us. He refuses to contain Himself when it comes to showering peace, purity, and promise. He gives and gives and gives. He is the "inefficient" God, whose purposes far exceed any measurement. You see, God is interested in our hearts. He wants a relationship with us. You don't measure relationship. You cannot measure love. This is the heart of God: mercy and compassion for wretched sinners like you and me.
I have been challenged by this truth. I must wake up each day and take an honest look in the mirror and ask myself if I am willing to reflect the heart of God today. It can be a tough question when the busyness and trappings of this world compete for my attention. I am tempted to "measure" my kindnesses or generosity, feeling such sacrifices carry with them an added burden. But what I am learning is that "[his] yoke is easy and [his] burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30) When I reflect the heart of God, I carry no burden because God provides immeasurably beyond what I could even ask or imagine.
Rejoice with me for the inefficiency of God...and ask Him to be reflected in you today.
What's So Amazing About Grace?
by Philip Yancey
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The following is a video post I recorded 2 years ago. While the video may be dated, the content is timeless. We are exhorted by God's Word to live without a "hint" of sexual immorality. The abundant life in Christ is only found in radical obedience to His Word.
The Holiness of God
by R.C. Sproul
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