Today, I woke up and started my normal routine. I got out of bed, brushed my teeth, and started to prepare to take a shower. In the midst of brushing my teeth, I hear a knock on the door and I hear a tiny giggle. I know it is my son behind the door, but I also hear the water running in the other bathroom so I know that my wife has started preparing his bath. Somewhat curious, I decided to open the door. There, giggling and standing in front of me, was my stark nude 2 year old son yelling “I’m a naked kid Daddy!” There is nothing cuter than a toddler rump.
Of course I laughed at this situation. I then thought about it on a different level. My son has no shame and does not recognize the concept of private versus public. He has nothing to hide and he does not feel vulnerable in front of us. He is filled with innocence and purity that is powerful despite the fact that he is too young to comprehend.
When God created humanity, this posture was the intention. Adam and Even had the awesome opportunity to live with God, speak with Him, and live in relationship with no barriers. Sin ruined this relationship, and shame, guilt, and depravity entered the scene.
When we talk about the concept of prayer, God wants us to communicate with Him in the way that humanity did at the beginning. He has not changed. He is the same loving Father. We have changed.
What would happen if we abandoned what we thought of ourselves (our unworthiness, shame, guilt, our past) and simply allowed ourselves to be vulnerable before our mighty yet loving God?
It all comes down to trust. Do we believe that God desires to communicate with us? Communication is a vital part of any relationship. This is why we were created.This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. You can find the original post with comments here: http://other-words.net/2013/05/07/exposing-prayer/
This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
Sometimes it is difficult to believe that we 'belong to the truth'. Sometimes it is difficult to imagine having our 'hearts at rest'. The part of our heart that is damaged by shame reminds us of all our inadequacies and failures. As this text puts it, our hearts condemn us.
In the process of recovery many of us become aware that we have internalized a voice of shame and self-condemnation. We may tell ourselves that we are unlovable. "How could anyone care about me?" Or, we may tell ourselves that we are worthless. "I'm no good." Or, we may tell ourselves that we are not capable. "I can't do anything right." These are some of the ways we condemn ourselves. We also may question our faith. We may wonder, as this verse puts it, whether "we belong to the truth". Because of our early experiences of rejection and our current self-condemnation, we find ourselves expecting God to condemn us. As a result we cannot rest in God's presence.
But God is greater than our self-condemning hearts. God knows everything. God knows our history. God knows the wounds in our past. God knows our humanness. God knows our strengths and weaknesses. God knows our failures. God knows we condemn ourselves and expect that God will condemn us as well. God knows that we need healing.
God is greater than our self-condemning hearts. God knows everything. And God does not condemn us.
I long to set my heart at rest, Lord.
I long to rest in your presence.
But, my heart is full of self-condemnation.
The voices of shame are loud within me.
I am afraid that you will also condemn me, Lord.
I am afraid that you will agree with the shame voices.
Speak to me today, Lord.
Speak more loudly than the voices of shame.
Be greater than my heart.
Shame can only feed on the hidden things, Lord,
but nothing is hid from you.
Be more powerful than the shame, Lord.
Let me find rest today in your love.
Copyright Dale and Juanita RyanNational Association for Christian Recovery
Research shows that there are five predictable steps a man goes thru as he becomes addicted to pornography. I'm not saying that everybody who looks at pornography becomes addicted to it. However, porn has a powerful effect on men, their relationships and how they view women. There is some research to indicate that pornography has a higher addiction potential than cocaine and harder to quit than cocaine. It is believed that's how Ted Bundy got started. When the porn he was addicted to wasn't enough anymore, he tried the real thing — rape, and then murder. When he succeeded, he did it again. And again. Pornography addiction is very serious.
Five stages of addiction
- Early exposure. Most guys who get addicted to porn start early. They see the stuff when they are very young, and it gets its foot in the door. The earlier a guy is exposed, the higher the chance for addiction.
- Addiction. Later comes addiction. You keep coming back to porn. It becomes a regular part of your life. You're hooked. You can't quit. You convince yourself that porn is normal and that everyone does it.
- Escalation. After a while, escalation begins. You start to look for more and more graphic porn. You start using porn that would have disgusted you when you started. Now it excites you. You start getting into sadism, bondage,bestiality, etc. You may even start mixing drugs with your porn experiences. There is a very LARGE connection between cocaine use and sexual addictions.
- Desensitization. Eventually, you start to become numb. Even the most graphic, degrading porn doesn't excite you anymore. You become desperate to feel the same thrill again but can't find it. The "highs" that you used to get last such a short time, that they feel almost nonexistent.
- Acting out sexually. At this point, many men make a dangerous jump and start acting out sexually. They move from the paper and plastic images of porn to the real world. They have affairs, one-night stands, multiple sexual encounters, etc. They may even start to stalk women, unable to differentiate their sexual fantasies from reality. Finally, they move to committing unwanted sexual activity and are arrested for their behavior.
Some of you reading this may have already developed an addiction to porn. If you see any of the patterns I've described above in your life, you need to put the brakes on right now. Is porn beginning to control your life? You can't put it down — you keep going back for more? Perhaps you find yourself needing to see increasingly graphic pornography. You're masturbating more and more often. You're starting to take risks or act out physically for sexual thrills. If you see yourself at any point on this progression, you are in serious trouble, and you need to realize it — and get help.
This information is taken from the TROUBLED WITH site of Focus on the Family. You can find this entry by clicking here.
BE A MAN.
His parents were blind-sided by the phone call. Even though they’d noticed their son’s grades had slipped, they blamed it on entering high school. He was a quiet kid, staying in his room when he was home. He’d lost interest in youth group, but since they were still able to get him to church most weeks they let it slide. Nothing outward seemed all that different, so when the principal told them to come to the school immediately, they thought there’d been a mistake.
Their son was part of an underground porn cartel in his school. Distributing pornographic DVDs had become a thriving business—but it had been a one-way street to a mind-consuming obsession for their ninth-grade boy. They’d been unwittingly raising a porn addict. The confiscated discs were beyond reprehensible.
The parents felt a mixture of shame, uncertainty, and fear that “normal” wouldn’t ever return. Their fears would prove to be well founded. For their son, getting busted was the best thing that could happen. He wanted his old life back. But breaking out of his mind’s porn prison wasn’t something that anyone in that principal’s office knew how to help him do.
Parents take note: This is just one kid in one school in one town in America. There are thousands and thousands of others. They just haven’t been caught.
Porn re-wires our brain circuits and can become as addictive as narcotics. It creates neural pathways that seek gratification through graphic images. Porn often contains scenes of sexual exploitation, domination, and rape, warping minds in ways that others can’t always see, but often emerge in abusive relationships.
Porn obsession is like many other hard-core addictions. Recovering porn addicts often relapse just like drug addicts. Those neural pathways have to be re-wired, but sadly nothing erases those images—ever. One learns to mentally change the channel, but to tell someone they’ll ever be the same is an unfair expectation.
And many don’t seek treatment. Porn addicts continue to live dual lives—seemingly keeping school or jobs separate from their sexual deviancy. It begins with porn images, but thousands of sex crime victims are a tragic testimony to porn’s evil end.
President of Morality in Media, Patrick Trueman reports, “Child-on-child sex abuse and rape is a growing problem in every culture where pornography flourishes.”
Younger and younger kids are becoming abusers and its victims. Parents need to warn their kids about porn just like they do with drugs, alcohol, or premarital sex. Sadly, porn is far easier to get—as close as a neighbor, or a friend’s school locker.
Crime statistics tell a story and it doesn’t have a happy ending for our society. Morality in Media’s Patrick Trueman said it best: “The world is suffering an untreated pandemic of harm from pornography and children are suffering the most.”
America, it’s time to really see porn for what it is—a road to hell.
This post was written by K Farris. For the original post, go to: http://m.blogs.christianpost.com/friday-tidings/youthful-porn-addicts-15551/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Here is an anonymous confession by a reader of this blog. It is edited slightly and names are changed to protect the identity of the individuals. It is posted here with his permission.
"Dale, I have struggled over sending this to you. I don't know why I am. Maybe leading by the Holy Spirit. I'm not looking for anything out of it. If anything, maybe it will help someone else. You're blog posts on pornography have hit closer to home than you may know.
You probably know already that Mary and I are no longer married, but I don't know if you are aware of the circumstances that brought that split about. In 1995, I sexually molested my daughter. I have not voluntarily told this to anyone. In fact when asked if I have children, I have recently started telling people, "no," so I don't have to explain or make up a story about why I can't see them. I was arrested and spent several months in jail and the next four years in psychosexual counseling.
Because of my sin, I destroyed or at the very least damaged several lives. Mary was so hurt she left not only me but her faith. I have kept up a little with the kids (I have a permanent no-contact order) through MySpace and Facebook. John and Sally have graduated high school, but they both appear to be heavily into the occult. They are doing drugs and drinking. Bobby seems to have gotten on a better path (finally). I can read their wall posts, but if I were to contact them, it would be a mandatory six months in jail. So, I have watched my kids grow up online due to my actions.
All three kids have been in and out of foster care. John and Bobby have both been incarcerated. Mary has been through more than I am even aware of. I am devastated to know the damage I have done to these innocent lives. Would things have turned out differently if I was still in the picture? I don't know, but I would like to think they would. I did read on Mary's facebook page that her new boyfriend and Bobby were baptized a couple weeks ago. So, hopefully things are on a better track for her. I continually pray for them.
I have been addicted to pornography and sex since I was in my teens. I recall shoplifting pornographic magazines from the store when I was in junior high. When I was working for a city in Montana, I found a stack of porn in one of the trucks. I sat parked in that truck for several hours looking at those magazines. I had a tough time explaining to the boss where I had been with the truck. I made up a lie to cover myself.
I am reluctant to tell you what has happened to me, because I don't want to sound like I'm looking for pity. I want no sympathy from anyone. For what I did there is no pity warranted. I hate this kind of behavior in others. I am repulsed by it.
What has my crime/sin cost me...?"
"Everything! I lost my wife. I never got to see my kids grow up. I lost my ordination in the church. I lost friends and family who can no longer stand to be around me."
In the last several years I have lost jobs when employers found out about my past. I have had difficulty finding jobs, especially in the last couple years where everyone now does a background search.
I have to register as a sex offender for the rest of my life. When I move, my neighbors are informed of my crime and who I am, including a picture. I have been denied residency because of my crime. Every six months a sheriff's deputy shows up at my door to make sure I still live here. I have a felony conviction that denies me entry to other countries.
I have been asked not to attend two different churches including what I considered my home church. I attend church regularly, but now I will not fill out a visitor card for fear of being asked to leave. The church is a mega-church. 4,000+ attendance, and I don't know anyone there.
What I did was over 15 years ago, and I have lived a model life since. I haven't even had a speeding ticket since 1984. I pay all my bills on time. My faith in Christ has never dwindled. I know that without my faith, I would have ended it all years ago.
I knew I had a problem, but fear kept me from finding help. I never considered how much it would cost (myself and others). I told myself it would never happen again, but without counseling the cycle just continued.
I have always been kind of a loner. I never really fit in, so I have kept to myself. As a result, I have taken to living in isolation. I have no close friends, but I have 400+ facebook "friends." If they only knew... This is the beginning of my cycle... then depression...
How have I broken the cycle?
1. Awareness - I was made painfully aware of my problem. I recognize that I have a propensity to porn and I avoid it.
2. Admission of problem - I have admitted that I have a problem, and that it is a problem.
3. Recognize cycle - In my four years of counseling, I learned to recognize that my failings came in cycles. I found that when that cycle was progressing toward sin, there were ways to avoid it, to break the cycle.
4. Avoidance - I have used several things to prevent entering into my destructive cycle over the years. I can't say that it always works, but I have found that these help: 1) Turning off the TV or computer, 2) Prayer or read my Bible, and 3) Negative reinforcement ~ snapping a rubber band on my wrist (when I think about it)
5. Redirection - Find something else to do. Go for a walk, fish, read, exercise. Anything healthy."
Anonymous will be reading your comments. So please let him know what you think...
BE A MAN.
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'
It is easy for us to lose our way. We may start off with confidence. We think we know where we are and where we are headed. And, then, somewhere along the way in life we get lost. We find ourselves alone and we don't know where we are. We get confused and disoriented. We don't know how to find our way back, how to get 'on track' again.
Fortunately, God pays attention. God notices that we are lost. And, because of the great value God sees in us, God sets out to find us. God searches for us. God pursues us until we are found.
When God finds us, most of us expect God to say: 'Where have you been? I have been looking all over for you! Can't you follow directions? What's wrong with you? I don't want to have to come back out here again to find you. Try to pay attention from now on!'
But there is no hint of scolding, shaming, yelling or blaming in this text. When God finds us, God is full of joy. God picks us up and carries us home. God celebrates.
God pays attention. God notices when we are lost. God searches for us. And God celebrates when we are found. Recovery is the gift of being found by God.
I was lost, Lord.
Disoriented. Confused. Afraid.
You found me.
I expected blame and rejection when you found me.
I expected you to be full of rage.
I expected you to see me as an inconvenience.
But you greeted me with joy.
Thank you for finding me.
Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan
National Association for Christian Recovery
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love may have power . . .to grasp . . . the love of Christ.
We all have root systems. Roots are life-lines. They seek out and drink in water and nutrients. And they provide stability in times of wind and erosion.
Unfortunately, many of us are rooted in the soil of shame. Roots in this rocky soil become bound. They cannot sustain growth. They are not able to provide nourishment or stability.
Recovery for many of us is like being transplanted. It is the process of allowing God to first pull us out of the parched and rocky soil of shame and to then plant us in the soil of love. In the rich soil of love our fragile roots can finally begin to stretch, grow and take hold. It is a soil in which real nourishment and real stability are possible.
But transplantation is not a simple matter. No matter how gently God pulls us up out of the soil of shame, there will be trauma. And sinking roots in new soil will feel like an unfamiliar and risky adventure.
As our roots sink deeper and deeper in the soil of God's love, however, we will begin to experience growth that never could have been possible in the soil of rejection and shame. We will become 'rooted and established' in love.
My roots are in poor soil, Lord.
They do not nourish.
They provide no stability.
My roots are bound, Lord.
Give me grace-full soil, Lord.
Sink my roots deeply.
Give me stability.
In your love.
Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan
National Association for Christian Recovery
San Diego, California – A former staff member at a Christian college in California has filed a lawsuit against her employers for firing her for having sexual relations outside of marriage, stating that the college’s actions were “un-Christlike.”
Teri James, 29, worked as a financial aid specialist at San Diego Christian College in El Cajon until October of last year when she admitted to the school’s human resource director that she was pregnant. According to reports, rumors had been circulating on campus that the single woman might be with child, and therefore, she sought to put an end to the speculations.
However, upon being informed of the matter, the human resource director presented an ultimatum: resign or be fired. James was later given a termination notice that stated that she “engaged in activity outside the scope of the handbook and community covenant.”
San Diego Christian Christian College requires that all of its employees sign a lifestyle statement committing to live in a manner that is consistent with Biblical values, which includes abstaining from fornication. James admits to signing the statement, but still believes that her termination was unlawful. She hired renowned feminist attorney Gloria Allred to represent her in the courts.
“Teri engaged in activity outside the scope of the handbook and community covenant that does not build up the college’s mission,” Allred acknowledged. “The HR director indicated that she was not being fired because she was pregnant. Instead, she was being terminated because she had premarital sex.”
During a press conference this week, James broke down in tears over the matter, claiming that the school has caused her harm.
“I feel like what San Diego Christian College did to me was hurtful and un-Christlike,” she stated. “I was unmarried, pregnant and they took away my livelihood.”
“San Diego Christian College did not show any mercy or grace towards me, and acted completely un-Christlike,” James added. “They made more of a business decision than showing God’s love.”
Allred asserted that although the college is a Christian institution, it cannot terminate employees based on their private lives. She said that officials have no business in knowing what James is doing outside of the work environment.
“They can call themselves a Christian college, but they have to comply with the laws of the state of California, which prohibit discrimination on account of gender, marital status and pregnancy, and with the California constitution, which guarantees the right of privacy,” Allred told reporters.
Therefore, James is suing San Diego Christian College for wrongful termination and invasion of privacy.
College officials are not commenting on the matter at this time as per the advice of their attorney.
James has since married and is expecting a boy in June.
As previously reported, a number of women formerly employed at Christian colleges, universities and other schools across America sued their employers last year for discrimination after they were terminated following their admission of engaging in premarital sex.
The original article for this post can be found at: http://christiannews.net/2013/02/16/california-woman-sues-christian-college-after-being-fired-for-fornication/
I've always wondered what it would have been like to be present at Jesus' crucifixion. I wondered if I would have joined the disciples and disappeared. Or would I be like the only disciple, John, who stayed to witness Jesus death.
I was fortunate to be granted the opportunity to see Jesus being crucified. However, having been a participant in the Easter Musical, I became, at times, a little complacent about Jesus' crucifixion. It became a matter of rehearsal and the actor playing Jesus was a friend. However, one practice, I was struck with the reality of Jesus' compassion and love, how He died for me.
I walked onto stage and Jesus was on the cross. I looked up and just at that time, Jesus was looking down at me. I forgot that this man was an actor and my friend. I felt transported to the time that Jesus' was actually on the cross. I felt so overwhelmed. Jesus was looking at me and I was the only person there even though the stage and the audience was filled with people.
It was Jesus and me.
Nevertheless, I was overwhelmed by two competing emotions: 1) I felt ashamed at my sin, and 2) I felt pure love. I felt no condemnation. A flood of tears came to my eyes and at that night's performance, I didn't have to pretend to cry. My complacency vanished.
My tears were real.
Jesus was real.
My sin was real.
The love I felt was real.
The forgiveness Jesus offered was real.
Salvation is real.
BE A MAN.
So often, a person only reveals a difficult period of his or her life after the event, while reflecting on the event. This is especially true of "testimonies" given at church. A person stands to thank the Lord for seeing her through a dark period of life; meanwhile, many people stare in wonder how most of the rest of us were unaware of her living through such an event. I, too, used to live a privatized life. If I was struggling through a rough patch in my life, I would keep it all to myself, unwilling to share my pain or difficulties. Part of the reason for my privacy was fear, part of it was shame, and another part was pride. I have decided not to live my life like that any longer. I intend on being transparent about my struggles. I think that in doing so I can honor the Lord, live a more honest and thus healthy life, as well as give comfort to anyone who may be experiencing the exact same feelings.Over the last month or so I have felt loneliness unparalleled -- never have I felt this lonely. This lonely period began when I discovered that the only friend I had (in my area) was not really a friend, in the true sense of the word. Our relationship, unbeknownst to me, has never been one of true friendship but of convenience. If this certain person could not find anyone else to spend time with, then I would do. I was unaware that our so-called friendship was in this sad state of affairs. Now, in other periods of my life, I would have responded differently to this tragic state. But at this vulnerable point in my life, when I most need a close friend (with whom I can spend time and confide and share my thoughts and feelings, as well as reciprocate), I am left all alone and very hurt. The friend I thought I had was not really my friend at all.I often picture loneliness as a chasm because that is how it feels -- like a space of emptiness that needs filling. "But the Lord should fill that chasm," some say. Well, that sounds nice; that sounds like the typical, Christian, spiritual-yet-superficial pat-answer to every situation. But I cannot see the Lord, nor can I audibly hear His voice, or hug or touch or punch and be playful with Him like I would a friend. The Lord gives us like-minded friends who can excite the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell (hopefully pleasant). "Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one's nearest kin" (Prov. 18:24 NRSV). In my present situation, little did I know that I had the former but not the latter. This present loneliness is also coupled with a deep sense of rejection. The one is as hard to bear as the other. What I am learning from this experience is how to choose a friend more wisely in the future. The saying is true: we cannot choose our family members, but we can choose our friends. Nor can we choose if or when loneliness will visit us: all of us, no matter our age or social status, are susceptible to a brief encounter with loneliness (or depression or rejection). Spouses and members of large families often sense loneliness as much as any single person; so the mere presence of people in our lives will not guard us from its grip.Some people, when experiencing loneliness or depression, merely endure it instead of praying or calling someone or watching a movie or going for a walk; they merely sit and endure the grief and pain, the emotional and mental torment. For some, enduring these times is all they can do; they feel paralyzed by their emotions or mental state.I know firsthand that there are many people in the world today, Christian and non-Christian, who are lonely and depressed. I know so because I receive their emails. None of us should deny the fact that at certain times in our lives we must drink the cup of loneliness. We do not like this cup. We try to avoid drinking the contents of this cup. But often we are forced to take this cup, press it to our lips, and drink.I think the aversion we sense to such an experience is natural. We should not feel guilty because we try to avoid feeling lonely or depressed. However, Henri Nouwen has some sound advice:Whenever you feel lonely, you must try to find the source of this feeling. You are inclined either to run away from your loneliness or to dwell in it. When you run away from it, your loneliness does not really diminish; you simply force it out of your mind temporarily. When you start dwelling in it, your feelings only become stronger, and you slip into depression. The spiritual task is not to escape your loneliness, not to let yourself drown in it, but to find its source.1Why finding the source of your loneliness is so very important, he admits, is because "it leads you to discern something good about yourself."2 For me, that goodness is grounded in the fact that I consider myself worthy of friendship, with much to offer a friend. I despise this loneliness because it reminds me that I actually have been rejected, and it hurts. During Jesus' darkest hours in the garden at Gethsemane (lit. "the place of pressing"), He confessed to being deeply grieved, to the point of death, praying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me" (Matt. 26:39). Do we not pray the same prayer when we are facing some of the darkest hours of our lives? We all want our respective cups to pass from us. This cup of loneliness is mine to drink for now. No one else can drink from this particular cup. I must drink it, and I must drink it alone. A time will come when the contents of this cup will be depleted. I can then wash the cup, dry it, and place it back into the cupboard. I look forward to that day. 1 Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom (New York: Image Books, 1998), 36.
2 Ibid. This truly honest post was written by William Watson Birch. You can find the original post with comments here: http://www.classicalarminian.com/2013/01/the-cup-of-loneliness.htmlBE HOLY.BE A MAN.