Ministers in bondage

At War: Porn

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Sex is awesome. We are at war.

There are 86,400 seconds in a single day, and intimacy is under attack every single one of them.

The gift that is physical intimacy was provided to man and woman by God in His creative design for us, and it has been hijacked by His enemies and perverted into something it was never meant to be. Identity, quick high, substitute for relationship, and pathway to intimacy are just some of the many shapes sex has taken in our culture, and in our world today. The derailing of this train was not subtle, but has since become so ingrained in us as the norm, we may never see different in this lifetime.

The culprit that helped accelerate this, and is so violently,relentlessly, but quietly attacking our relationship with God and each other is this: porn.

An Enemy In Our Midst

I’m not here to convince you there is a problem with pornography; truthfully there is little time for that. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely given it some thought, or you are well aware of the sexual bombardment we face as a people in today’s society. It is everywhere, and we are being told by everyone and everything what physical intimacy ‘is’. We don’t have to look far in our Bibles to see what it isn’t. Nevertheless we are constantly exposed, tempted, and desensitized to sexual practices replacing relationship on a daily basis. And now we have capabilities for unlimited viewing of pornography in the tiny super-computers that fit in our pockets.

These are practices the enemy of God has deployed to keep us so focused on the immediate, or what is in front us, that we slip further and further away from Him in pursuit of sex as just a form of pleasure.

The War Is Won, But The Fight Continues

Fortunately, the war against sin has been won for us by our King. Every swing of the hammers that nailed Him to the Cross was a victory blow to sin and death He delivered on our behalf. This does not, however, mean we can be complacent in our defense against the temptation of sexual immorality; and the best defense, as the old saying goes, is a good offense.

In order to be effective in our strategies for overcoming this sin that destroys intimacy and relationship we have understand a couple of key points:

  1. Porn is a problem, even for Christians. If 35% of pastors currently serving in the pulpit struggle with pornography, how much more does the average man or unbeliever? We have to start talking about this in Church, because it is a war that is claiming casualties in Church.
  2. Going to the front line alone may have worked for King David, but we are not David, and this will not work for us. Getting plugged in to a group of men who accept they are at war with the sin of lust will be one of the best decisions of your life, as you will quickly see you are not alone in this fight. When you are losing the battle or the fight, having backup to come to your aid and shower you with grace and truth is the spiritual equivalent to reinforcements in the theater of war.
  3. Accept extreme, even if the world doesn’t. When I say ‘extreme’ I do not mean violence that harms you or others. I don’t mean violence at all, but I do mean diligence, and boldness. Lock your cellphones down, rid yourself of electronic devices you don’t need, install website blocking or accountability software on your necessary devices. These steps will not change the heart, however they will buy you some time that you should fill with knee-scarring prayer to the Father for strength and tenacity to see the next day through with a pure heart (Psalm 51). Jesus commanded us to be bold when it comes to fighting sin in Matthew 5:29, but we have a lot of options in our armory that we can humble ourselves to use before we get to the eye-gouging. 

This is the first part in the series ‘At War: Porn’ and more entries will follow. Until next time, prayers to men and women everywhere who are waking up and fighting these battles…

Grace vs Guilt: Go and Sin No More

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When you become saved, you are saved by your faith alone, in the forgiveness and grace offered by Jesus Christ alone. These are the fundamental concepts of what is known in Christianity as the reformation, or the claim brought forth in the late 1500’s by a German monk named Martin Luther that countered the group think of the Roman Catholic Church, the thought that salvation could be purchased by financial contributions or works. Jesus Christ is who are you saved by, but what are you saved from?

You are saved from your sins against God, and the just penalty you would otherwise face without the intervening grace and mercy offered to you by Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. But what happens if you sin after you have been saved?

Can We be Sinless?

There’s a ton of debate on this question, that is: can humans be sinless? The short answer I subscribe to is: we won’t be sinless in this lifetime. Sin is so deeply rooted into the hearts of mankind that it seems it’d be impossible to escape it for now, and we certainly could not do so on our own strength.

It takes no time at all to think of the countless sins I’ve committed in my life, and the list isn’t what I would call ‘short’ since being rescued by Christ. The enemy of God, Satan, would love nothing more than to use these sins and the weight they carry to shame you and paralyze your growth in your relationship with Jesus. I know you hear the voice inside your head. It sounds a lot like your voice, telling you that you could never be sinless, you’re too lost, you’ve done too much wrong, and you should abandon any hope in God ever deeming you worthy. But the truth is, it has nothing to do with your worth, and everything to do with the worth of His Son, Jesus, who said your sins are “forgiven”. This is what makes you acceptable to God. That is ‘Grace’.

Romans 6: 1-2 – What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so grace may abound? By no means…

This is not a free pass to go on sinning. Jesus Christ said “Repent, and believe…”. There is a glaring requirement here besides just believing, and that is to repent. One who freely revels in their sins and gives no regard to their implications usually shows no fruit of a repentant believer in Christ Jesus. Contrarily, one who comes to hate their sins, mourns them when they occur, and strives daily to put the sin to death by praying for the Father’s help and spending time in the word will, in time, usually see the bondage of the accompanying guilt and shame broken, and the sin will hopefully be a distant memory. This process is called sanctification, or to be made holy.

The unfortunate part, for us, is because of the depth of the roots of sin we usually have to fight a war on many fronts. Lust for sex, porn, greed, excess, anger, dishonesty, infidelity, gluttony, envy, and our PRIDE are all faced daily in our culture. Sometimes the fight seems to already be lost before we even realize we are in the midst of battle.

Armor Up

We are told in Paul’s letter to Ephesus, to put on the ‘armor’ of God (Ephesians 6:11) to protect ourselves from the devil’s schemes. The devil will shower you with distraction, guilt, and shame when you’ve been called to follow Christ and still find yourself falling short of Christ Himself (Romans 3: 23). Remember the disciples, each of them with their flaws and faults, were still called by Jesus and sanctified over the course of their life as His followers.

The best way to armor up and protect yourself from the lies of the enemy are to read and pray daily. When you do this you will begin to intimately discover what kind of savior died for you, and His loving nature. One of the best illustrations we have in the Bible, while its origin is disputed, accurately depicts the loving and gracious nature of Jesus Christ when confronting a sinner, an adulteress more specifically. In John 8, after the hypocrites have dispersed and Jesus faces the adulteress, He doesn’t require her to be clean or without sin before He passes His judgment on her, nor does He ask her for some sort of work in return for salvation. He freely offers it to her.

He simply says, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more.”

Relentless Love of God

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This post is a “re-post” of a great article forwarded to me by a friend: 


Relentless Goodness

 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever (Psalm 23:6, ESV).

If you’re a follower of Jesus—if by faith you have turned from your sins and received His forgiveness—I have news for you.

God is after you.

IF YOU’RE A FOLLOWER OF JESUS, GOD IS STILL PURSUING YOU.

He’s still pursuing you. Wanting more of you. Hungry to make sure you’re experiencing every blessing that His Son died and rose again to give you, for His glory.

It doesn’t matter how defeated or discouraged you are today. He’s still after you. All that matters is that you are His. “My sheep hear my voice,” Jesus said, “and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Is that you? Following Him? Not perfectly, of course, but following? Sometimes stumbling, but still getting up? And following? And trying again? And wanting to follow Him even better, even more?

Then God Himself is also following you. He’s on your trail. He’s after you. Promising you that your best days are still ahead of you, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done. Your greatest days of usefulness and service to God are still in the future, because “goodness” (defined as bounty and blessing) and “mercy” (lovingkindness and favor) will be on your heels and hunting you down every second of the time.

Can’t be true, you say . . .

Too many failures. “I’ve failed God too many times. No way am I on His first team anymore. I’ve blown it. I have areas in my life where I’ve never gotten victory. Even today I failed again. I’m on the shelf from here on out, and I know it.”

Too many years. “It’s too late for me. Too much water under the bridge. It’s fine for those who came to Christ as kids or in college or whatever. But I showed up late to the party. The best I can do is just sneak into a back corner of heaven.”

Too many others. “I don’t have any big-time gifts. I don’t have any great abilities. Other people have training and know what they’re doing. Not me. I’m just not that important. It might even be wrong for me to get in their way.”

Too many obstacles. “I’ve got so many things going on in my life right now—work, family, health stuff, all of it—I don’t really have time. And I don’t see it changing anytime soon.”

Believe me, I’ve heard all these lies and dodges before. They’re as old as time, because the enemy will do anything to convince you that God has lost the scent and given up on you.

But just you try staying hidden behind these shadowy half-truths. Just you try imagining you’re out of sight, out of mind. Just you try giving in to the unreality that your home and heart are off His grid, out of His hunting zone.

Because, listen. Can you hear it? It’s the panting of the hound of heaven, running full-speed, headed your way, chasing you down. Following you “all the days” of your life—not to rip into you, but to restore you and refresh you, to overwhelm all of life’s badness with His “goodness.”

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Journal

  • Which of these fears and excuses have sometimes convinced you that God’s “goodness and mercy” are not coming for you anymore?
  • How different would your life be, even today, if you wholeheartedly embraced this truth?

Pray
Lord God, I believe Your Word, even when I doubt myself. I believe what You have done to claim me as Your own, even when I too often resist You and choose my own way. Thank You for loving me enough to want me experiencing the full blessing of relationship with You. And thank You for relentlessly pursuing me until I’m actively living in it. In Jesus’ name, amen.

article source: https://www.jamesmacdonald.com/teaching/devotionals/2017-09-15/

 

Watching Porn can Literally Change your Brain

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Another great article from the folks at Fight The New Drug, (www.fightthenewdrug.org), enjoy:


Science is finally catching up with the truth and its findings cannot be ignored: porn is harmful. Did you know that porn can mess with your head, actually rewiring the actual chemistry of your brain?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (a chemical that relays messages to and from the brain) and it is central to our brain’s understanding of rewards and pleasure. It is released when we experience pleasure (could be anything from eating a delicious meal or watching a comedy to shooting up heroin or watching porn) and of course it makes us feel good. Normally, this release of dopamine is a good thing; it helps our brains to recognize things that keep us happy and healthy, and it is one of the chemicals that allows us to form relationships and fall in love.

On the flip side, an oversupply of dopamine can be triggered when the pleasure stimulus is too frequent or too prolonged (as is the case with all addictions) or unnaturally stimulating. When it comes to porn, think about the hours and hours that can be spent clicking on new videos and shocking the mind with every type of sex imaginable and unimaginable. You better believe that this habit is unnaturally stimulating to the viewer and forces a prolonged rush of pleasure chemicals in their brain. And what happens is that this causes the brain becomes desensitized to dopamine, which is majorly bad news.

The reason why this is so harmful to the brain is because the end result of dopamine desensitization is that the brain no longer recognizes the pleasure signals. In order to adjust to this frequent and prolonged chemical release, the neuroconnectors in our brain have to lessen. When the brain is no longer recognizing the dopamine release (the reward) from its usual stimulus, it craves stronger and more frequent hits to feel something. This desire can become quite consuming, causing obsessive behavior and detracting focus from other important areas. Worst of all, it fuels habitual use, or even addiction, and makes the compulsion (that must have it now! feeling) stronger than ever.

Related: Psychologist – Teenage Brains, Porn, & Video Games Are A Bad Mix

Addiction of any kind—alcohol, drugs, porn, whatever it may be—is a huge cause of dopamine desensitization. And if that’s not enough, addiction or compulsively watching can also cause dysfunction in the stress circuits of your brain. Dysfunction in stress circuitry means that stress of any kind, be it physical (illness) or emotional (a fight with your boyfriend/girlfriend), makes the addict especially prone to seeking out that behavior to numb the pain. Relapsing, of course, means further exposing the brain to the addictive stimulus, which brings on more dysfunction in the stress circuits, which means more susceptibility to relapse… and we’re back at square one.

Your frontal cortex is the part of your brain that directs ­tasks like decision­ making, problem­ solving, planning, weighing pros and cons, focusing, and controlling impulses (you know, like the urge to yell at your boss or eat an entire chocolate cake). Decreases in the function of your brain’s reward circuits can cause activity in your frontal cortex to start plummeting too. Bam. Now your frontal cortex is operating below what it should, and your ability to perform all those important decision making functions will suffer. This can make things pretty difficult when you need to solve problems in your relationships, make decisions at work, focus on your schoolwork, or just make overall healthy life choices. Not good.

Related: The Serious Mental Costs of Watching Porn

And then, of course, the stress of realizing you have these problems is only going to wreak havoc on your already­ malfunctioning stress circuits. Your brain’s going to crave porn to forget about the stress and the resulting dopamine release won’t fully register because it’s desensitized…and on and on the cycle of the porn habit goes.

This ugly cycle drives the viewer further and further into a porn struggle, and farther away from a happy, healthy, and passionate life. So the next time you think watching porn is harmless, think again. It can mess with your head—literally.


article source: http://fightthenewdrug.org/watching-porn-can-mess-brain-v2/?utm_expid=19046507-1.HyXL65kBT7a6WMmRQWBZQw.1&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=organic_social&utm_campaign=ftnd_general&utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FfHisbel8E5

 

Is abstaining from sex in marriage while recovering from porn really necessary?

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This article comes from CovenantEyes.com.  The concept in this article is one that any person addicted to or struggling with pornography [and their spouse] needs to read.  


Should Married Couples Fast from Sex During Porn-Detox?

 

90 days of no sex. This is what several porn addiction counselors prescribe for addicts and their spouses during the initial months of recovery. Why is this? Is this really necessary?

Dr. Mark Laaser, a nationally recognized author in the field of sex addiction, requires his patients to sign a 90-day abstinence contract: no masturbation, no porn, not even sex with your spouse. Sam Black, in his book The Porn Circuit, explains Dr. Laaser’s rationale:

First of all, he says, a person needs to learn that they won’t die without sex, especially for 90 days. But more importantly, the person struggling with pornography or sex addiction needs to work proactively about learning true intimacy.

“The abstinence contract on the front end is entirely about neurochemical detox,” Laaser says. “It’s resetting the brain in terms of sexual expectations.”

Dr. Laaser isn’t alone in the 90-day abstinence concept. Dr. Patrick Carnes, founder of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals, himself a 30-year veteran in the field of addiction therapy, also requires this of his patients.

 

The Rationale Behind “90 Days”

From a clinical perspective, a porn addict is hooked on the neurochemicals released in his or her brain during a sexual encounter. This powerful neuro-cocktail of dopamine, norepinephrine, oxytocin, vasopressin, endorphins, and serotonin is responsible for the physical aspects of porn addiction (including withdrawal symptoms). These neurotransmitters and hormones are part of the “reward circuit” in the brain.

Some addiction therapists believe the only way to deactivate the reward system of the brain is to stop the reinforcing behavior—i.e. letting these neuro-circuits rest.

The concept of “90 days” is taken from substance abuse research which has demonstrated that it takes about three months for neurochemistry to reset to normal levels once the substance use has ended.

Other counselors are far more flexible on the time frame, suggesting 30 or 40 days instead.

The Biblical Rationale: Fasting From Sex

There were some in the early church who thought sex was beneath the ideal Christian life. Sex was a base act of the body. These Christians wrote to Paul saying, “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman”—not even his own wife (1 Corinthians 7:1).

Hear Paul’s response:

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (1 Corinthians 7:2-4)

Paul’s position was radical. In the Greco-Roman world of his day, marriage was often a mere social arrangement. But here, Paul talks about a mutual sexual responsibility and blessing. Moreover, in that day, men of status were masters of their wives. For Paul to say that a woman has conjugal rights and that she has authority over her husband’s body would have been unheard of.

But then Paul adds this addendum:

Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:5)

Paul here implies that sex in marriage should be frequent. In fact, he says to deny sex to one’s spouse is to “deprive” him or her—this same word is translated “defraud” one chapter earlier (6:8). Sex helps to guard against sexual immorality and a lack of self-control. But he does make the provision that a couple can make a mutual agreement to abstain from sex for a “limited time” for the purpose of being devoted to prayer.

Paul is describing a type of fasting. Just as fasting from food was an acceptable way to devote to prayer for a season, fasting from sex was also a custom in Paul’s day.

Caveats and Conditions

While Paul endorses the idea that sexual fasting can be an appropriate way for a couple to devote themselves to prayer, the following caveats should be noted…

  • Sexual fasting is not required. Nothing in Paul’s tone should lead the reader to think most or all married couples should engage in sexual fasting. Paul is wary of the Satan’s ability to tempt and sees frequent sex in marriage as a good safeguard.
  • Sexual fasting should only be done by mutual consent. The man or woman in porn-detox may not simply declare a sexual fast. It must be discussed and agreed upon. Christian counselors, even if they encourage a sexual fast, should not require it if the spouse is not agreeable to it.
  • Routine sexual abstinence in marriage is not just unwise but is clearly immoral in Paul’s eyes. My marriage bond means my body is no longer my own, and to deny my wife sex is to defraud her. Fasting from sex might be appropriate on occasion, but should never become the norm.
  • Fasting from sex should be for “a limited time,” or literally, a fixed period of time. Fasting from sex indefinitely was not prescribed here. A set time should be agreed upon.
  • Fasting from sex should end with sexual enjoyment. Paul tells couples to come back together again when the agreed upon time is over.

Dethroning the Idol of Sex

Every case of porn addiction is difference among men and women. In each instance, counselors should meet people where they are. This means not every couple should fast from sex.

For many Christian counselors, this abstinence period is recommended as a time to intentionally de-throne the idol of sexual gratification. For many porn addicts, sex is life to them. Intimacy is about sex and nothing else.

A sexual fast disciplines the man or woman obsessed with sex to remember that sex is not a need. It may feel like a need, but it is not. A sexual fast can also be helpful for the man or woman who finds it impossible have sex without pornographic fantasies dominating his or her mind.

A sexual fast also reinforces an important truth for the spouse: she or he is not to blame for the partner’s addiction. It is easy for a spouse to feel like if they were more sexually available, prettier, or thinner, the partner wouldn’t need porn. A sexual fast reminds the couple: porn was never a need to begin with. The spouse can rest knowing there is no pressure to sexually perform to make recovery a success.

During a sexual fast, the couple is encouraged to practice and develop the habits of non-sexual intimacy. For many addicts, their porn-saturated minds are numb to everyday pleasures and joys. They have lost the ability to simply enjoy spending time with their spouses—talking together, taking walks together, cooking together, praying together. Sam Black writes,

For someone with an obsessive porn habit or an addiction, the focus has been on personal and immediate gratification. The people in porn are used; the porn user gives nothing. Especially for men, porn equates to selfishness that typically extends to their marital life. This even includes the overemphasis men can have of their sexual performance, pride or fear about their prowess, and where sexual performance is equated to their manliness. (The Porn Circuit, 33)

Porn trains us to treat sex as something that should be devoured. A sexual fast retrains the mind to understand that sex is better when it is savored.

Can You Really Go 90 Days?

Before Christian men and women are married, they go years—even decades—without sex. Going without sex for 90 days is more than possible.

However, for a married couple, the situation is somewhat different. Sex unites men and women in a profound way: the Bible calls it being made “one flesh.” There is an intimate bond established, and God beckons married men and women to reforge that bond through frequent sex.

Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love. (Proverbs 5:18-19)

This is why sexual fasting in marriage—in the sparing instances when it is done—should never be done with a grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it mentality. The goal of a sexual fast is drawing closer to God and one another, with the ultimate goal of more intimate sex when the fast is over.


article source: http://www.covenanteyes.com/2014/02/25/married-couples-refrain-sex-porn-detox/#

How Porn Trains Objectification

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Confessing your porn addiction… to your spouse

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Another great article from the Covenant Eyes blog:


Surviving the Worst Day of Your Life: How to Confess Your Porn Addiction to Your Spouse

September 9, 2005 was the worst day of my life. Confronted by my church board leaders, I had to admit my addiction to porn and headed home to tell my wife and four children. I knew a major train wreck was about to happen, and there was nothing I could do. My sin had been found out and I had no idea of the consequences that were going to unfold.

It feels like the hardest thing in the world to do. You know this news is going to wound her deeply and you have used that as an excuse to not confess. You reason, “If I keep it a secret and she never knows your marriage will be better and I will be able to stop on my own.”

Look in the mirror and say to yourself, “Liar!”

The truth is you have already wounded her and your marriage. She just doesn’t know why there is this barrier between the two of you. Here is your reality.

Your use of porn is heart adultery according to Jesus in Matthew 5:28.
This has gone on for years and perhaps decades and you haven’t stopped.
You are scared to death of what this confession will do to her, you, and the family.
I understand your fears and I know it is the last thing you want to do. Yet, it has to be done…so what is the best way to tell her?

I lived in that world for years. Not until I resigned my position as a pastor and was forced to confess was I able to do it. Nine years later our marriage is still intact and God has healed our wounds and inhabits our brokenness every day. Getting through it with your marriage surviving can be helped or hindered by how you deal with your disclosure. So here are five things that will prove helpful to you.

Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. What you plan on telling her will not be the same as what she will want to know. The truth is how often you act out using porn. The when and the where are important facts. The details are not. Too many details will be destructive for her in the long run.

Consider telling her in the presence of a counselor or pastor. Having someone there to help moderate the conversation can be helpful to things escalating and becoming worse. That third person should be made aware of what is going to happen in the meeting and should be someone your spouse is comfortable with.

Confession is the beginning of the long journey of recovery. Hopefully you are broken by your bad choices and desire to really stop and get the help you need to walk in purity. This is a reality most people want to minimize. Seeing this as a first step is good but having a plan for recovery helps give hope. Find what groups there are in your area that deal with sexual brokenness and make plans to attend consistently. You should plan on attending at least for one year.

Genuinely ask for forgiveness and be repentant. It will not be your words from which she will receive assurance. Talk is cheap. It will be a change in your behavior and seeing godly sorrow that will help her. She will feel that she cannot trust you…and that is normal. However, she needs to place her trust in God that whatever you do He will take care of her.
Realize that this will be traumatic for her and create desperation and wounding. Both of you would do well reading from this website and this book.
Nothing is going to make this easy. Looking back, I wish I had come forward and confessed before I was caught. If I were a better man I would have done so. However, the bottom line is you need to come clean. You need to be honest.

Your Father, your Lord and Savior, and the Spirit—your comforter and counselor—will walk you through it. You need to allow Him to begin dealing with putting the broken pieces together. It all begin with walking in the light of confession and repentance.

Over the past 9 years I have worked with many men trying to break free from this sexual sin. The support and encouragement from your wife will be a very helpful part of the process. However, that is a decision she will need to make on her own. What you do and how you act in the days following your confess will either help her come along side of you or push her away.

It is time to be a humble and loving servant to her as we are commanded to love our wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).

About the author, John Doyel

After 26 years in full time ministry John Doyel resigned his position as Senior Pastor in 2005 because of his sexual brokenness. For the past 10 years he has dedicated himself to helping men recover from sexual sin and return to God. He writes daily e-mails of encouragement to help believers recover—called 180 Recover—because we are told to encourage one another daily as long as it is called today. He also lead a recovery ministry at Vineyard Columbus called 180: Helping Sexually Broken Believers Return to God.


article source: The blog at covenanteyes.com

click here to read the article on Covenanteyes.com