God called me into full time ministry to sexually broken people with only three words: Tell your story. So, ever since the early 2000’s I have been doing just that, telling my story. Over and over. But the first time I told my full story wasn’t as one called by God to minister to others. It was years earlier in a counselor’s office as a broken, desperate man wrestling with the destructive effects of a 13-year addiction to porn and sex.
As I look back over the nearly 20 years that I have been on this journey of recovery and growth I see a sort of “pathway” take shape that has led me to where I stand today. And while I have certainly not walked this pathway perfectly (nobody does) I have seen how it is the same pathway that anyone who wants to break free from sexually addictive patterns must walk. Therefore, if you would like to pursue a life of greater integrity, I invite you to walk this pathway with me.
This pathway has 5 key markers on it, and I want to share each with you over the coming weeks. Here is the first marker on the Pathway to Purity:
Share Your Story
The very first step on this Pathway to Purity is to share your story -- your full story. You must share your history of brokenness, failure, fear, hurt, and false starts. Everything in the dark needs to come into the light, because this is not a pathway covered in shadows. A life of sexual wholeness is marked by confession and openness.
I recommend you seek out a pastor or counselor or trusted friend who will hold in confidence all the pieces of your story. If you sense that the person you are sharing with is “unsafe” and does not have your best good in mind, then do not entrust your full story to them. Move on to someone who exhibits trustworthiness and a genuine desire to see you move forward on the pathway to purity.
Sharing your story is not only confessing sin. It is also revealing your confused and broken heart. You must share the feelings you have carried in secret. The questions and doubts you have had about yourself, your family and friends, and even God. We all struggle with the brokenness of life and how this brokenness invites us to fear, anger, shame, and despair.
You may be wondering why is it so necessary to share your “full” story. Can’t you just share the current sexual struggle or challenge you are facing? The problem with only sharing your current circumstance is that it is only revealing the culminating symptom of what has occurred in your history. In other words, your “today” is connected to all your “yesterdays”. To try to address today’s problems without uncovering all your yesterdays is to leave you with an incomplete picture of what today’s problems are really all about.
Once you tell your story, take a deep breath. You have done a good thing. You have taken your first step toward a life of integrity and wholeness. That is worth celebrating. Don’t try to run on this pathway; it’s meant for walking. So, take your time on this first step of sharing your story. After all, you probably have more than just one yesterday to share.
I’m praying for you to have the courage to take this first step on the Pathway to Purity. Because if you never take this first step you cannot make it to the subsequent mile markers. Sharing your story is the key to starting well. You can do this!
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
To share your story with a qualified counselor, visit Counselors.Bebroken.com.
To find a support group, visit Groups.Bebroken.com.
by Keith Repult
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How can you face the withdrawal symptoms that come with breaking a sexual addiction? Find out in this popular edition of the Purity Post.
For help getting started on your recovery journey, visit StartingPoint.Bebroken.com.
Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction
by Dr. Mark Laaser
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His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord. 2 Chron. 17:6a
I'm not a theologian, but I love God's Word and read it every day. One of my favorite ways to read through the Bible is chronologically. In case you didn't know, the content of the Bible is not laid out in the order that it occurred in history. This year I'm once again reading the Bible chronologically.
Sometime in early June I found myself reading in the book of 2 Chronicles. This is a book that highlights much of the nation of Israel's early history as they struggled to establish a unified kingdom (very unsuccessfully, I might add). There were many kings who came and went, most of whom were not good kings, regularly summarized by these words, "And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord." But a few kings would have positive things said about them, that they obeyed the Lord and walked in his commandments. One such king was a man named Jehoshaphat.
While Jehoshaphat was certainly not perfect (no king is other than Jesus), he had this said of him: His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord. (2 Chron. 17:6a) Wow! What a wonderful badge to be pinned on the chest of any human being. These words leapt off the pages of Scripture and sunk deep into my soul. Oh, Lord, how I long to be labeled with such words of commendation.
What does it mean to be "courageous in the ways of the Lord?"
Courage is defined as "the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery." I think everyone (especially men) would like to be described as courageous. We want that noble quality that emboldens us to face difficulties with bravery, even heroism. But anyone can exhibit the actions of courage, even those of poor character. What separates the merely courageous from those who are courageous "in the ways of the Lord?"
To boil down "the ways of Lord" you could simply go to Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which says, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." And in another place in the law (Lev. 19:18) it says, "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord."
These are the two passages that Jesus drew from when millennia later he would be asked by a religious leader what the greatest commandment was. Jesus responded, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40) This is the way of the Lord: to love God and love others in obedience to God's law.
But the Scriptures did not say that Jehoshaphat simply acted courageously in the ways of the Lord. It says his heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord. Why is this significant? Because it is from the heart that we live. What is in the heart is what makes a person righteous or unrighteous before God (Mark 7:14-23). It was Jehoshaphat's heart that was being commended by God, not merely his actions.
How can you and I have this same commendation pinned on our lives? In exactly the same way it was for Jehoshaphat: to obey God from a pure heart. Are there areas in your life in which you are not obeying the Word of God? Or are you obeying the "letter" of God's law but with impure motives, maybe trying to impress people instead of truly serving God for His own sake? Check your heart and ask God for boldness of character in the face of temptation and opposition.
The world we live in today is begging for us to blend in and abandon our Christian beliefs. You and I have a choice: to be "courageous in the ways of the Lord" or to "do what is evil in the sight of the Lord." What is in your heart to do today? May you grow in courageous love day by day...
by Dan Allender
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Here we are, at the final post in this 5-part series on the Benefits of Recovery. I hope you have gained encouragement and insights as you have read these posts. Whether you struggle with addictive patterns or know someone who does, my hope is that these benefits of recovery will help draw more into the hope and joy that is found in recovery.
Let's dive into the final Benefit of Recovery.
Recovery Benefit #5:
Recovery leads to purpose and service.
If addicts are increasingly selfish, you can be certain they aren't serving others out of a caring heart. They may be involved in "service," but it's probably with an agenda or a sense of duty to cover up the truth about their raging addiction. This is another reason why addicts don't have deep joy: the greatest joy is only realized through giving.
As an addict progresses in recovery, there comes a point when a "nudge" starts happening. It's similar to a nesting bird when she senses it's time for the baby chicks to spread their wings and fly. The early stages of recovery are like the incubation and hatching period; a total dependence on the protection and nurture of the mama and papa birds (sponsors, mentors, counselors, etc.). But no bird is meant to live its entire life in the nest. And no addict is meant to live his or her entire recovery in the "nest." There must come a time to fly.
"Flying" in recovery is when an old-timer addict simply takes a few newbies under their wing and mentors them. He share his story with them. He encourages them as they tell their story and face all the fears of starting this awkward journey. He passes along insight and wisdom as one who knows through experience the highs and lows of the recovery process. And most importantly, he reminds them that recovery is worth it because there is a God who loves them and made them for something special, something beyond addiction -- something even beyond recovery...
For additional recovery resources visit PureCommunity.org
So far in this 5-part series on the Benefits of Recovery I have shared that:
These benefits are great news to the addict who is drowning in self-loathing and despair. And there are still two more benefits to share!
Recovery Benefit #4:
Recovery leads to freedom and joy.
I have never met an addict who hasn't immediately answered 'Yes' when asked the question, "Do you want to be free?" All addicts know they are in prison (even if they won't verbally admit it, they know it in their soul). But not all are ready to be free. Not all are broken and weary enough to give up their way for a different way. This is why patience is so important when trying to help someone break free from an addiction. Freedom only comes to those desperate enough to die for it.
Jesus once said regarding life in His kingdom, "Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it." (Luke 17:33) Some addicts keep clinging to their life of addiction, all the while losing it more and more. But when an addict chooses to give up control, to submit their life and future to their Creator, they finally discover the life of their dreams.
Freedom is a beautiful thing; to no longer be controlled by impulses and temptations and false ideas of happiness. This freedom, however, is not found in recovery, but rather along the way. You see, freedom isn't a place, it is a Person, Jesus Christ, and the freedom He offers is more than simply cleaned up behaviors and properly firing synapses. Jesus offers freedom for eternity. He said, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
The freedom that God offers leads to joy, something an addict has rarely known. Addiction and joy do not mix. But recovery can lead to freedom, and freedom brings joy. I believe that the goal of recovery is to lead an addict to a place of true love and joyful community. This is the way God made us to live, and recovery is a pathway for addicts to discover this.
In my next post we will look at the final Benefit of Recovery: Recovery leads to purpose and service. Let's finish strong!
by Russell Willingham
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