The Porn Phenomenon

“The Porn Phenomenon

Culture & Media
Today, our team had the privilege of launching a new nationwide study about pornography. It is a massive research project examining teenagers, young adults, and Americans in general as well as pastors and youth pastors – more than 3,000 interviews in total across a range of questions.

We conducted a press conference with the study’s patron, Josh McDowell Ministries, today in New York City.

The official release of the full study will come in April, when we launch a report on the topic, called The Porn Phenomenon. (You can pre-order a discounted copy here.)

This study is sure to stir up a conversation about porn in our society and within the Christian community – and we hope it leads to healthy, meaningful change. Because a lot of what we have been doing to help address porn in a digital culture doesn’t seem to be working very well….”

 

Entire article here @The Porn Phenomenon.

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The Christians Struggle with the Guilt and Shame of Porn

Excerpt from article:

“In many Christian churches, viewing pornography is seen as a sin. Ogden’s Refuge Church Preaching Pastor Brian Sauvé pointed to two passages in the New Testament of the Bible about sexual sin that he believes apply to pornography.

The first passage Sauvé referred to, found in Romans 1:1-32, discusses how one aspect of God’s judgment is based on resisting temptations, like sexual desires, which limit consciousness of what God commands of his people.

Then there’s 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 which, according to Sauvé, states that people who give in to lust will destroy their relationships with God.

Sauvé said it’s the nature of Christians to feel more guilt and shame when they sin.

“One of the things sin does is it numbs us to the fact that it even exists at all,” he said. “It’s actually the grace of God to allow sin to result in shame or a hurt conscience in order that we will be pointed to Jesus for removal of shame.”

Many times church followers don’t believe they have an avenue for help in their churches, Musil said.

“Today, porn is accessible, available and affordable,” Musil said, pointing to a majority that is obtained online. “We also need resources that are accessible, available and affordable.”

A study conducted by the Barna Group and funded by the Josh McDowell Ministry found that only 9 percent of churches have formal programs to address the needs of members who say they’re addicted to pornography. The study, titled “The Porn Phenomenon,” also states 26 percent of all Christians surveyed say they come across pornography weekly; 28 percent of young adult Christians said they seek pornography at least weekly.

“For Christians in particular, using porn comes with feelings of guilt and shame, and many local faith communities do not seem like safe places to admit a struggle with sexual sin,” the report says.


“Recovery from sexual betrayal is very, very difficult in a marriage,” she said. “Marriage recovery means recovery of a family. … We can’t recover families if we are in hiding or in shame.”

Steven said clergy often tell pornography addicts to pray more, sing a hymn, read the scriptures more and have better time management.

“We need to have a much higher understanding of what is porn addiction and what is necessary to stop behavior,” Steven said.

 

The full story can be found here.

Violins, Paintbrushes and Peace — the rip[ple] effect

 

I just watched an amazing YouTube video of a violinist and violist performing a piece by Mozart. They played with grace, ease, and such a sense of joy; it was really fun to watch. It brought out some emotion in me as music often does. I can find myself in tears when witnessing really exceptional […]

via Violins, Paintbrushes and Peace — the rip[ple] effect

Liberty for ALL!

Super Bowl Football

New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus

This past Sunday while getting ready for church, this sonnet came to my remembrance. It is on a plaque within the base of the Statue of Liberty. These words are exceptionally powerful. For while eschewing legendary and timeless civilizations, it brings recognition to a new, and most worthy addition to the history of mankind. America. The words toward the end of this quote are what most remember and for good reason, but there is much more here for us.

I would like to say that this verse could well be the clarion call of the church;  though in its long history it has intermittently forgotten its charge, and has at times resorted to maintaining the persona and image of its “storied pomp.”

I think the spiritual equivalent of this sonnet would be found in the Bible here:

Luke 4:18

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.

King James Version (KJV)

That, my friend is the purpose of our churches. To be relentlessly compassionate and self-sacrificing; so that no man, woman, or child be left outside its gates of salvation and complete freedom. This is further demonstrated by these verses:

John 15:12-14

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

King James Version (KJV)

This is a new age, one of incredible temptations and fear. The one I am speaking of being primarily in the areas of pornography, sexual addiction, and their accompanying compulsive behaviors. 

The onslaught is not just against every single individual in this world, but specifically targeting the church, and could result in its relegation to total irrelevance if not complete collapse. This dire attack on the minds of the faithful has been proven to be more than the personally afflicted are able to overcome themselves. Shame overwhelms in a repeating cycle of futility while the church at times appears unwilling, or just believes it is unable to effectively confront the horrific consequences.

We have to stop giving up on ALL people; instead, we must chase them into the streets to extend compassion, giving of that which we have to show the love of God, and provide every opportunity for the lost and mis-guided to be completely restored.

Jesus went into the highways and byways, he went to the woman at the well, he traveled to those who were unable to come to him. He healed the sick, cast out demons, and people were saved.

What does the life of Jesus translate to in todays world? That is a really good question. But what I have been witness to is many debates and conversations without enough tangible action. We fortify our church structures to protect our revered institutions, but the truly needy and desperate must often find help elsewhere. In doing so, we deny the truth that we are all fallen and lost without the miraculous sacrifice and triumph of Jesus Christ.

The call of Christ is to preach the gospel, yes, but we are also “sent to heal the broken hearted and set at liberty the bruised.” There is nowhere it says “unless you are uncomfortable with their issues or think they are undeserving of Gods mercy.”


1 Corinthians 13:7

If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.

Living Bible (TLB)

We are commanded to love, and that love doesn’t stop at the first sign of trouble, or avoid problems for the sake of appearance or comfort. That love goes beyond reason and walks with the broken. That love goes past a financial contribution and gets involved in solutions. That love is what sacrifice is all about, realizing that we are all deceived and stumbling, and precious to Jesus. That love knows offenses and hurts will try to separate, but strives that much harder to fulfill its purpose. That love doesn’t try to make clones of ourselves, but celebrates our various roads to Jesus;  fulfilling the call of Gods people to be one body.

I Corinthians 12:11-14; 23-26

But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many…

…And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

King James Version (KJV)

Beyond our hope, our logic and beyond our humanity, it is in Christ we will find love, and learn how to love. That, my friend,  is the foundation of freedom for ALL!

On The Throne – Kari Jobe

 

 

On The Throne

I will walk through the fire
Walk through the darkest night
I will walk through the flood
I won’t be overcome, I won’t be overcome

I will walk through the trial
Walk through the valley of fear
I will walk through the storm
I won’t be overcome, I won’t be overcome

For the lord is,
He is able, he is faithful,
Higher than the mountains that I face
Every season, I will press on
For God alone, is on the throne

I will walk in your the promise
Walk in your victory
I will walk in your power
I won’t be overcome, I won’t be overcome

On the throne
Glorious, victorious
Sovereign over all
On the throne
Infinite, magnificent
Reigning over all

Everyone…

  • Everyone is busy
  • Everyone has a family
  • Everyone has concerns
  • Everyone is under pressure
  • Everyone has hurts
  • Everyone needs love
  • Everyone wonders what tomorrow holds
  • Everyone has relationship issues
  • Everyone is rushing
  • Everyone has misplaced priorities
  • Everyone has hope for something unrealized
  • Everyone cries
  • Everyone feels lonely
  • Everyone hides their pain
  • Everyone wishes someone else knew
  • Everyone does their personal best
  • Everyone judges others
  • Everyone loves
  • Everyone has deep unmet needs
  • Everyone needs a break from life now and then
  • Everyone lusts for something
  • Everyone is seeking peace
  • Everyone has unnatural fears
  • Everyone wishes someone else understood them
  • Everyone fails
  • Everyone tries again
  • Everyone needs grace
  • Everyone must be rescued
  • Everyone sins
  • Everyone hopes no-one sees their true self
  • Everyone struggles to believe
  • Everyone cannot do it alone
  • Everyone faces death
  • Everyone seeks recognition
  • Everyone has a passion they cannot fulfill
  • Everyone has painful regrets
  • Everyone medicates their pain
  • Everyone needs someone else to understand
  • Everyone wants to be heard
  • Everyone cares for someone

and…..

  • Everyone needs Jesus

 

Ashamed No More by Pastor T.C. Ryan

A Highly recommended resource for anyone wishing to understand and minister to the whole church, even its most wounded.

From his website:

“Writing Ashamed No More was a joint decision made between Pam and I when we began to see the remarkable recovery, growth and healing I began to experience after cratering my life in 2008. I had been actively pursuing recovery from compulsive sexual behaviors for a long time; I had suffered from my brokenness all of my adult life. So the roots of compulsion in me were very deep.

Ashamed No More tells a good bit of my story of recovery out of forty years of compulsion, and a number of things I’ve learned about brokenness, recovery and healing along the way out of that wilderness. Because of hope of seeing the Church become robustly healthy and spiritually inviting community I believe Jesus called it to be, the final chapter of Ashamed No More addresses some of the things I think we need to do to change the current climate of fear, shame and hiddenness.”

Interview: A Pastors Journey Through Sexual Addiction

His Blog here.

Vimeo Promo Video

 

 

Is it Addiction or isn’t it?

When I first read the article linked at the bottom of this post I was intrigued by its title. It is from a trusted and reliable source that equips people to battle sin. I am sure that on some level it is helpful. However, as I read on, and then also the comments following, it only further disturbed me with regards to the church and its handling of the subject of porn usage. It didn’t really clarify anything.

It seems it becomes a who will lead debate  the church or secular therapy, or maybe even a balance of the two? This is why there continues to be conflict in the church and indeed secrecy by those who are afflicted with this…dare I say addiction?  We continue to debate and dissect, and that only detracts from the reality of the person torn asunder by the dichotomy of their faith and their actions. We have to have a specific category of belief structure and fall in line (as seen in the article) – that is such formulated church thinking, and part of the problem! I suppose thats why we have denominations!

As I have stated previously here this is a multifaceted war. It takes a combination of love and toughness, knowledge and Faith, strength and sensitivity. If church leadership continues to label people and separate themselves from the reality of the struggles its church-goers fight, it will remain weak and continue to shrink in relevancy and influence.

For me…

  • I am encouraged when I find I have struggles that aren’t merely condemned but seen as real and legitimate, however misplaced my reactions to them have been.
  • I am empowered when I find community that shares my dissatisfaction with things staying as they are and bands together together in unity to fight as one.
  • I am equipped to be successful in my spiritual life when I am not dismissed to isolation because of the churches fears, but provided with the tools needed to be victorious.

And…

  • Its time for the church to acknowledge the real struggles of its people and reach out and be inclusive of them.
  • Its time for the pastors to stop saying “They get three counseling sessions, then I pass them on to someone who is a professional.”
  • Its time for our Sunday messages to get real and not just platitudinal.
  • It is time the church realized that there are drowning people and no one is willing to throw them a line.
  • It is time to stop separating certain people from the flock because we are uncomfortable with their struggles.

No matter what you want to call it, addiction or otherwise, it comes down to relationship and taking the time to minister to everyone. Yes, its time for those who struggle to come clean, but if they don’t feel safe – will they?

This is the age in which we live. There are new demons attacking the faithful, and they will continue to fall away unless we start loving them unconditionally, tangibly, and without prejudice. As Christ did.

Do Christians Overhype Porn Addiction?

Whatever it Takes!

The addicts mind is a peculiar place to visit and analyze. As a recovering addict I can find the gyrations of my thinking to be disturbing, humorous, pathetic, heroic and undeniably real.

The mind of a porn addict has its own gravitational force that makes it swing around the sun of lust on a consistent basis.

o-EARTH-ORBITS-SUN-facebook

That kinda makes sense right there…As the Earth revolves around the Sun, deriving life from its perfectly placed position in a system of planets; so too does the addict receive his own purpose from his place in the continuum of repeated and compulsive behavior.

It is probably more difficult for the poor soul caught in addictions grasp to be free than the Earth to fly out of its orbit. There are mathematical and scientific reasons for both consistencies, Earthly and otherwise. But to  put anything into a simplistic formula belies the reality of the many small things that occur which combine to make this true. Day after day, year after year, the Earth moves in a beautiful balance along with other planets around the Sun.

Now, here is where I divert my attention from the heavens (of which I am very unqualified to speak) to the solar system of the addict.

What has gotten us to the point that we unthinkingly do things which no sane person would? Why is it that we run straight into the lions mouth, and don’t consider the consequences of being torn asunder by this powerful animal? How is it that even though we experience elongated times of sobriety, we can find ourselves once again drawn into a vortex of behaviors that can destroy not only ourselves but others.

All good questions, but without satisfactory answers for most.

Enlightenment alone isn’t enough to be victorious.

  • I may know the brokenness that causes me to run into danger but that knowledge doesn’t dissolve the shackles.
  • I may be able to put terms to the specific maladies that drives what I do, but that isn’t the cure.
  • I may have strong religious and spiritual faith, and dedicate many years in study and prayer, but that won’t free me either.

It is funny to me that both science and religion individually think they have the answers when they are both unique parts in achieving the same, sought-after freedom.

I find strength from knowledge and perseverance through faith, and vice versa. In therapy I am helped to understand the forces that drive my acting out, and it is through prayer which I seek the ability to overcome from the ultimate champion. By being accountable I am saying I need help and give myself a chance to be victorious by the power of unity against a common foe.

The complications that arise in a fight against addictive behavior can be overwhelming at times, I know this to be true. There are moments in which I can clearly envision the tactics of an invisible enemy and the relentless nature of evil and I am discouraged and my faith is challenged. But isn’t it amazing when on the heels of defeat we see a glorious hope arise over the horizon.

SunriseHIHero

It is extremely encouraging to see the momentary victories over addiction turn into an unbroken string of daily, weekly and monthly victories; dare I even say years of victory?!?

Yes, it is possible, and it begins with today. Learn, grow, worship, gain knowledge, partner with others, pray and meditate; do all these things to win. Do whatever it takes. Don’t forsake the wisdom of science, the knowledge found in therapy, or the strength of faith; but instead embrace them all in your fight for freedom.

Have a blessed day!

Chris

When a Loss is a Gain (Bye Bye iPhone)

I had an iPhone for several years. It was a convenient and very handy tool for a lot of things, everyone knows that. It had games and music, there was email and I could get online, I know, duh! One day, it became apparent that this useful device had become more of a distraction than helpful, more destructive then constructive.

It had become an all to easy portal to feed my compulsive behaviour. Make no mistake, it was my willingness to use the tool to satisfy illicit desires that was at fault and not the tool itself. The important realization was my inability to use good judgement with a device that had this capability. I had internet protection software installed to keep me accountable, but I figured out how to get around it. I was dishonest and manipulative and subverted the trust I was given.

That was the day I knew it had to go.

Do you know how difficult it is to go backwards? I mean, now I am sporting the dorkiest “dumb” phone around! The little buttons are so small I can barely text with my big fingers. If I want to get online, it is on a computer in an area open and unhidden, and its locked down with accountability and filtering software. I have a couple guys who check up on me regularly too.

I made the switch over two years ago and at first I thought I was gonna die! I was lost without that little gizmo stuck to my hand. I tried to weasel out of my bargain and justify having a smart phone again a few times, but it has finally taken hold and been long enough that I rarely think about it anymore.

In all truthfulness, the iPhone wasn’t the problem, it was me. I had issues in my heart that I didn’t want to face so I fired up the iPhone and filled my mind up with trash. I medicated the problem with porn.


I took a big step backward in technology, but gained my life back in the process. When I began to deal with the brokenness inside, good things began to happen. It took some time for the images to fade and the lust to abate; but it also took awhile for me to realize how deep I was into this, I was addicted.

Today I am a changed man, and continue to change. It isn’t an easy road and I wasn’t as committed at first as I am today… 

…I will be more dedicated to sobriety tomorrow than I am in the moment I write this.  

It really is a day at a time, celebrating the little victories while realizing a slip isn’t a trip back to the beginning. Sobriety and therapy, accountability, digging deep into what I believe about myself and others, these are all difficult tasks at times but necessary to get to a place of lasting internal peace and joy. It is complex and unknown territory that we must discover to find out who we are, and more importantly who we can be!

It may be time to make your own decisions regarding some things you’ve desperately held onto.

The thing is… what I really want to say is, it is possible to be free. We just have to be willing to take what seems to be a loss, leave it behind, and forge our way to freedom.

The Fight Goes On

Passing on this email I received with some staggering statistics and hope.

Chris


SUPPORT THE MISSION OF PURE DESIRE

Countless people are bound by the struggle of sexual addiction with no visible way out. God is answering the cry of men and women who have tried unsuccessfully to build a life of sexual purity. He is using Pure Desire (PD) to educate and mobilize church leaders to facilitate hope and freedom from sexual addiction, through the development of healing ministries. At Pure Desire our vision is to partner with Jesus in healing the Christian church of sex addiction through the creation, publication, and distribution of healing resources; delivery of pastoral care and education to thousands across denominational borders; and development of a global network of Pure Desire group facilitators.

I am convinced that if the church does not address and get free from the bondage of sex addiction, it will not experience true revival.

In 2007 when Diane and I responded to God’s prompting to educate and equip the church to address and conquer the problem of sex addiction and I stepped away from my role as Senior Pastor at East Hill Church, there was no way to know that Pure Desire would grow to be what it is today. Though the reluctance of the church to admit and address the issue has been a primary roadblock, God is leading the charge and we are having an impact on the problem of sex addiction and the family systems issues that accompany addictive behavior.

In addition, PD has developed an opt-in program, which is a comprehensive approach to educate, evaluate, and restore church leaders. The POW Program was designed as a proactive approach to pastoral care through partnerships with church denominations, districts, and para-church organizations to avoid catastrophic events related to sexual moral failure. Through this program, pastors and church leaders experience support, healing, and restoration.

PD has also made significant inroads for the care and treatment of those with sexual addiction in the church. Approximately 95% of the clients who complete the PD outpatient clinical treatment program (a one-year program) experience recovery from sex addiction and restoration in multiple areas of their lives. I can tell you hundreds of stories—you can read some of them here—of men and women whose lives have been redeemed by Jesus through the ministry of Pure Desire. In the last four years, we have seen exceptional growth.

Still, there is much work to be done:

58% of evangelical pastors are struggling with sex and/or porn addiction.
50% of all Christian men and 20% of Christian women are addicted to pornography.
30% of pastors report they have had an affair or a sexual encounter with a parishioner.
68-70% of Christian men are unable to stop unwanted sexual behavior.
25-30% of Christian women struggle with sexual dependency issues.

When the Lord directed Diane and I into full-time ministry with Pure Desire, it never occurred to me that God’s goodness could be displayed in my diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. The daily process of physical therapy has not only allowed me to manage the effects of Parkinson’s without physical limitations, but has also blessed me with a constant reminder of my dependence on Christ. My condition has given me the gift of awareness: I must trust God with everything—at all times—and I’m not alone in this battle. I am seeing God work in ways I never could have imagined. God has provided Pure Desire with an amazing staff, executive team, and Board of Directors. I trust them completely as we work to assure the long-term sustainability, growth, and healing influence of Pure Desire.

One mark of a leader is the foresight to think about what’s next before they have to. There’s a saying in the US Marine Corps that is used during battle: “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, you’re dead.” The same can be said about planning for succession. I want to be an effective leader: to plan ahead for the time when I can no longer lead as the primary visionary and prayerfully prepare for that day.

Transition is a process, not an event. At Pure Desire, we are planning for succession now. I want to lead in a way that will build long-term health and growth for the ministry of Pure Desire. The PD Board of Directors is working to develop a transition model with that goal in mind. But, I need your help. You are receiving this letter because you, or someone you love, have been personally impacted by the ministry of Pure Desire. You understand, first hand, the harmful impact of sexual addiction and are willing to engage in the fight for healthy sexuality in the home and in the church. You are an essential part of the ongoing ministry of Pure Desire.

Would you help me leave a lasting legacy by making a major donation to Pure Desire today? Will you partner with me to expand the Executive Team? This will provide strong leadership during this time of succession? NOW is the time that your partnership and support will make the greatest impact.

Some of you may be able to give $25, $125, or $225. Some may be able to give $500, $1,000, or more. In a culture that’s gone crazy sexually, the church must have solid, relevant truth that offers real hope. God is using Pure Desire to provide His church with hope, healing, and restoration. TODAY, please use this link to Pure Desire’s donate page, and help me leave a powerful legacy.

Dr Ted
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (ESV)

DONATE TO PURE DESIRE
Sources for statistics:

Rick Warren – http://www.pastors.com ministry toolkit 2006 Summer edition
ChristiaNet, Inc., “ChristiaNet finds that evangelicals are addicted to porn.” MarketWired, Aug. 7, 2006.
http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/christianet-poll-finds-that-evangelicals-are-addicted-toporn-703951.htm (accessed February 29, 2016).
2007 (research 1989-2006) R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Francis A. Shaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development
Ongoing study collected by Pure Desire Ministries Intl. 2009 to present. Participants of study completing SAST – R V2.0 © 2008, P. J. Carnes, Sexual Addiction Screening Test – Revised.
Copyright © 2016 PURE DESIRE MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this newsletter because you opted for “More Information on our store check our”, Signed up for the news letter a http://www.puredesire.org, or contacted Pure Desire Ministries International with a request to receive the newsletter.

Our mailing address is:
PURE DESIRE MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL
719 NE ROBERTS
Gresham, Oregon 97030

Everyone is Addicted to Something

People who know you and the addiction that has ravaged your life, will always judge you.

Some will forever see you as the addict, identify you with the struggles and failings that have plagued your life; then there are also those who will champion you, for various selfish and non-selfish reasons.

But the most important person you have to convince that you are more than the addiction that has consumed you…is you.

I am learning not to allow others to evaluate my value and purpose based on their own limited and flawed set of rules. Because they ALWAYS will. It doesn’t matter if they are your closest relative or most distant acquaintance, it is all the same. Others will neatly categorize you and file you into their system as whatever they feel comfortable with. There will be little or no regard for you as a person, after all, its their agenda they are pursuing and promoting. If you can be of use they will take what they can and discard the rest.

I have had people say to me, “Well, God commands me to love my brothers and sisters in Christ, and so I have too love you.” Then others, in response to your repeated failures will say that they “prayed” for you, that you would be strong and overcome. Never mind they didn’t take the time to actually talk to you, or make any real and substantial attempts to physically involve themselves in a solution.

This is why I am struggling with the church and the faith I have followed my whole life.

The church preaches forgiveness, and spews their verses and philosophies at every turn, making the forgiveness case; the problem is, they have difficulty practicing it themselves.

I can see why some are turned away and sickened by the hypocrisy of the Christian. Yes, for my part, I have been extremely hypocritical. It is only when I had cast off the shroud that I maintained for decades and became painfully real, that I was also put into a class of person and relegated to infamy.

It has now been over two years since I left full-time ministry in the wake of my sexual brokenness. Never mind I had spent over 50 years in preparation for ministry, the slow rot of addictions curse had been consuming my mind for many years when the opportunity presented itself.  What followed was an almost beautiful synchronicity of events that, in less than a year, destroyed a dream decades in the making.


Then came the pile on people, you know the “I told you so’s”. There were the angry people who wanted to punch me in the gut. There were those who thought of me as a pathetic loser. I was left to feel all of those things and identified myself as such.

But no more.

Let me tell you something; and this is for those wrongly labeled as an addict and for those who appear to have it all together.

We are ALL addicted to something.

Your little world in which you must control every detail and outcome. You, who sit in judgement over others, pronouncing it upon them like some cruel dictator. You who use religion to justify your actions and condemn everyone else for theirs. You, who speak the words of Jesus, twisting them to elevate yourself and crush others into the mud.

You are addicted to power, appearance, status, your religious rites, unwilling to acknowledge your own frailties for fear you will appear less superior. You, who secretly collude with hell to get your self-righteous agenda accomplished.

Harsh words? Yes, truth, yes. It is time that we who have had the privilege of recognizing our addictions realize we are way ahead of those who continue to self-medicate with what seems a less harmful “drug.” It is time to see us as the champions of living that we are; valiant warriors who stare down their sworn enemy and battle every day for freedom.

Let those who wish to minimize us say and do whatever they wish, we know the truth.

 

 

We Need YOU!

Psalm 82:4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

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I want you to know something from the depths of my heart, please hear me as I share this. I want to remain positive and hopeful as I confront addiction; and I speak for all addicts when I say we need YOU!

Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

A few opening thoughts here:

  • Sometimes, in the processing of life, especially with an addiction component that has been in operation for a long time, it is difficult to remain hopeful.
  • When coming out of the addiction fog, learning to do things differently, establishing better practices and accountability, we can still find it hard to be positive.
  • Even if we have a support base, transparency, and success of some sort in the rear-view mirror, it can yet be difficult to stay the course.

Why are all these things true you may ask? Well, I am not really sure, and certainly don’t have empirical evidence to back up my hypothesis. I have only my own experiences to sample. I can tell you it is extremely difficult to remain strong, and going in a positive direction through the long journey of recovery, and much of it is people related.

Deuteronomy 15:11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

As I have confronted addiction in my life, I have seen many, many people pull away, disassociate themselves, and outright consign me to oblivion. Its like I have a disease thats gonna jump on people so they run in terror, screaming like a little kid afraid of something under his bed at night. Comical really. Although a few, select people have remained supportive, the majority of those who consistently stand with you are those who are complete strangers; at least at first. Who are they? Fellow addicts who are in recovery of their own.

Ezekiel 22:29 The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.

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I would say that you would find it difficult to deny that people in your life are very important; that family and friends are in fact essential as you negotiate every day life. Those who struggle with addiction are no different.

There are two evaluations I commonly see when people separate themselves from an addict for religious reasons. I am speaking of the religious here because virtually everyone in my life is, as I have been primarily in that environment. I have witnessed these responses first-hand. (Please understand that there are those who tirelessly help, and churches who dedicate tremendous time and financial resources to help those in need.)

  •  You have a spiritual problem that you won’t deal with and submit to God.

Addicts (for the most part) do not like being addicted; though ensnared in a cycle of addictive behavior, the person realizes they are perishing daily. They aren’t in a place of peace, serenity, and joy over their lives. They hate addiction, and they despise what they have become. That right there shows a desire and willingness to change, and that is where it is tough to stay positive. When someone presumes to enter the mind of another in any circumstance and decide what their motivation or intent is, that is pure egomania. Please don’t assume the addict is an unrepentant sinner.

  • You are beyond spiritual help (i.e. MY help)and therefore I must separate myself from you entirely so you don’t infect me.

The addict needs your help, not for you to turn your back on them. They need you to press in to them, to show the care and concern for them that you would show a stranger on the street. When you give up on them you are saying that their value to you isn’t enough to warrant your continued relationship or help. You have injected a so-called higher reasoning for your position but it still boils down to you just don’t care enough or are too busy. Why not insert your reason here:______________________________________________________!

To be sure, there are addicts who are unrepentant, and take advantage of people who help. But don’t let those who do this distract from the many who are truly trying and working hard. It can be difficult to spot the genuine ones because three steps forward and two steps back could be the motto of virtually every addict. It is in failure we learn, we grow, we achieve success. We are mortal beings who have made terrible choices when it comes to dealing with life. Hidden beneath addictions behavior is a wounded and needy soul grasping for solid hope.

Psalm 9:18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.

The church can feel overmatched when it comes to the complexities that are in play when trying to help the addicted. That is what I have been told many times, by many people. But that isn’t a reason to walk away, condemn, distance, ridicule, judge, and ultimately fail the needy. It may seem like the effort can never match the challenge, that the churches resources and patience only stretch so far. But may I say that the addict doesn’t have that luxury, they cannot afford to give up so easily. Why? Because the alternative is certain death; physically, spiritually or both.

Isaiah 25:4 For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.

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Please don’t give up on the addicted. We desire freedom and covet being a complete person; we need your love, patience and support to achieve this high goal. Walk with us, please listen and try to understand, help us to see how we can be healed, and know that there is hope for us.

If you have a relative, friend, fellow-believer, co-worker or neighbor who is caught in addictions cold grasp, please just reach out and lend a hand. We cannot make it without YOU!

Blessings,

Chris

 

 

 

 

Some Harsh Reality and then…Hope!

This is a word-for-word transcription of a pre-dawn writing session I had recently. I wanted to leave it without editing to keep it as real and natural as possible.


 

For those of you who do not struggle with the tireless and insatiable force known as addiction, I would like to say one thing as a preface. Take a moment and utter a prayer of thanks to whoever or whatever god you believe in. The fact that this merciless fiend hasn’t  stuck its razor sharp talons into your soul is cause for humble obeisance to your higher power. The human life is difficult enough without the beasts sulfer like breath raising the hairs on your neck constantly. Reminding at every moment the unshakable hold it has on the entirety of your life.


I couldn’t sleep, I haven’t been sleeping well either for several nights. Some might point to my propensity for caffeinated liquids far beyond their reasonable use and therefor simple function at interrupting needed sleep. However, I know better. You see, an addict is a user and they aren’t above anything, they have lost control of the decision making process at a sub-conscience level-that is before it is actually a mental decision.

The use of anything in a way that is harmful to ones life, in excess or prevention, is an addiction.

The addicted life is one of simple musings, debates, flights of fantasy, plotting, angling, subversion, selfishness, relentlessness, coverups, thirsting without satisfaction-and after all that? Do it again tomorrow. It is self flagellation, mistrust, wounding, fear, anxiety, resignation, doubt, weakness, and dependancies on things that harm and do not and could not ever heal.

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Addiction doesn’t leave you alone. It is a cancer that spreads, gobbling up healthy cells with a voracious appetite that seeks only to destroy anything that resembles hope and truth, life and promise, peace and joy.

There are seminal moments of panicked understanding of what has a hold on you but you are caught in such a web of deception that every move you make only tightens its grip. In your heart somewhere is the desire to do whats right. You have a certain longing to be trustworthy-to love another without dissimulation, to emerge from the nightmare and find it wasn’t real.

But it is.

Its another day, and with the dawning of the sun you newly and freshly dedicate yourself to a fight you are in no way equipped to win. In a pathetic attempt to correct this huge ship with a puny rudder, you cannot navigate the torrents pushing you wherever the storm wishes. Over and over again you run aground in the dangerous and sharp rocked shoals. Taking water through your ships hull, stranded, overwhelmed, praying you will make it through the oncoming night alive.

But what is the point of living the way? Year after year you grapple with a faceless foe who doesn’t lose. You are now its meal, it feeds on your soul with great satisfaction. As it consumes all semblance of human life that has purpose it has completed its vile work. Your bloodied and bruised carcass begins to putrefy,  an unimaginable stench fills the air all around whats left; only the most unspeakable creatures approach to consume what remains.

All the while you are fully aware what is happening. You choke on your own smell, and vomit whatever is left inside of you. Longing for death doesn’t hasten relief as you lay there incapable of lifting your head above the decomposing bodies of a multitude of those who have suffered the same fate. You are resigned now to what will happen, and so a weird kind of acceptance becomes the way you exist through what little time is left before you gladly breathe your last.


Sounds utterly hopeless doesn’t it? To the addict this is life, just hit repeat and do so a thousand times and more without hope for change and no way of escape.

Let me tell you that the addict who never quits is the most courageous person you will ever meet!

They have looked hell in the face daily, felt enough pain in a week than many do in a lifetime. But somehow have found the strength to try again, and again, and again. Its not enough to face addiction head-on..winning…losing…stalemate…but we must also fight the ignorant ho say we are week, when the exact opposite is true. We haven’t quit and we never want to. We want to be normal; I know thats subjective, but it is a valid desire.

I wonder what my adversary will do today to kill me a little bit more?

So, how to plot an overthrow of this dark, demented master plan to destroy me? Keep in mind I have lost countless battles and skirmishes already. My default as an addict is to surrender to my stronger opponent. It is a twisted life, that in knowing our time is limited just lays down on the table and aIt’sllows this sadistic surgeon to remove more of my soul. No antiseptic is needed for the addict is already sufficiently numbed to the pain. Afterwards unaware that less remains of what is vital to live.




 

Now, it is a battle of the mind. To have a chance the addict must acquire strength from somewhere. He has proven his solitude is a death sentence without hope of pardon. He must go outside his field of limited vision and find tools and comrades to join.

This new tactic is strange and uncomfortable-going against all his failed efforts of the past. You’d think it would be easy to transition to this larger fighting force. In his dysfunction the addict believes in going it alone and cannot see another way.

It takes a lot of strength to say,”I cannot do this anymore,” and join the army. Strength isn’t in ready supply, so a few attempts to join up fail. But through efforts that would make Hercules look like a 95 lb. weakling the addict summons the courage to enlist.

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No longer fighting alone he starts to have hope for victory. He learns of strategies he had never considered, finds weapons previously unavailable to him. He closes ranks with a united and now formidable force taking back long ago surrendered ground. Confidence grows, expertise is gained, teamwork and camaraderie develops. The shared objective creates a resolute force dedicated to total and complete. This band of once inept,starving, ill-equipped soldiers is without comparison in their decimation of a common enemy.

 

Instead of being the rotting shell of what was once their fate, they stand in victory over their once thought all powerful enemy.

The Haunted “Spouse”

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I remember being a kid and watching TV, something scary would be happening, I sensed the anticipation of hurt or ominous threat. I’d get outta there as soon as I perceived danger, I wasn’t hanging around to see what doom would befall the unfortunate victim.  The buildup is almost, and many times worse than the outcome, sneaking around in fear, blindly feeling your way through the dark in some creepy and unknown environment. You have caught glimpses of what stalks you,  heard the unearthly snarls, grunts and growls of a mind-less and terrifying killer.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I can often be in a very similar situation. I woke this morning with several ugly reminders sifting through my gray matter. Not so much of the abuse, but how I have mistakenly handled life as a result of the things I believe about myself; running and hiding from that monster by medicating the pain with addictive, selfish behavior.

Now I could stop right there, muse on that whole philosophy for page after page, reams could be written (and have) on how I perceive life and have reacted to it. My feelings and my hurts, my losses and my needs…blah, blah blah!


 

I want to focus on another aspect of the survival of abuse, and recovery from addiction; the  important people in our life. Now this goes against how and what I usually do to deal with my pain. Trauma’s wounds have caused me to focus on myself, withdraw and isolate. When I dare to venture beyond this “safe” place, I am hunted and chased by this mysterious monster.

I have found myself to be so wrapped up in the fight for my life, I have forgotten about those that need me to be there for them, their needs and their safety.

I speak of my wife and my children today. If I stay in my own little personal horror movie, focused on my fears, concerned only with my life, I am not fulfilling the responsibilities within marriage. My wife has needs and desires that deserve more than the little empathy left for her after I have spent to much time moaning and crying for me! She is so valuable, such a rare gift that is far beyond any measurable, worldly scale. She has trauma, fears, and hurts of her own and I cannot disregard them, I will not. My children have suffered through my absence even when I was right there with them. They are grown now, families and responsibilities of their own challenge them, so I cannot remain invisible and abandon them.

When we spend every ounce of our energy in self-pity and woe-is-me mode, we cannot supply what our families are in need of;  Love, care, concern, and action on their behalf.

I am starting to see that more clearly. I mean, this is my third marriage after all, I haven’t exactly mastered the art of relationships!

My wife and I are in a pretty good place. We just celebrated her birthday, and later this month we will enjoy and commemorate our 5th anniversary. It has been nearly 2 years since the revelation of my latest addictive meltdown, and we have been building a new foundation through learning, listening, and doing. It has been extremely difficult, and at times neither of us thought we would even be where we are today. But due to selfless actions, and a willingness to understand there are two people in this relationship we are slowly and steadily moving forward. I am a part of the household and so I do dishes and laundry, I vacuum and make the bed; I will even cook occasionally, but thats a little sketchy 🙂 We communicate regularly, share our feelings and needs, take ownership of our actions, and build each other up.

goodjobscanlLearning to be there for our spouse and children, even when we are dealing with monumental issues personally, will speak volumes to them! We will discover love that we didn’t know was available. What we thought was a hellish nightmare from which there was no escape, can actually be the dawn of new hope and promise; amazing marital and family relationships! Let us not give up and stop short of what is possible, but be part of the love, life, tears, grace, forgiveness, hardship, mercy, laughter and joy that makes a family!

Abuse and addiction have stolen enough, lets stop being the Haunted Spouse, (House-get it?)

Have an amazing day!

Chris

My Toughest Out / CC Sabathia

I found this story today and thought it might be encouraging to us all.


 

MY TOUGHEST OUT

An article by CC Sabathia – Pitcher / New York Yankees

Excerpts:

I’ve played in sold out stadiums. I’ve undergone numerous surgeries. And I’ve even pitched in the World Series.

But nothing scared me more than saying these three words: “I need help.”


 

“What I really wanted was for people to like me, to get that validation. But because I wasn’t naturally outgoing, I turned to alcohol to try to bring my personality out.”


 

“My dad and I were always very close. I think I got many of my best qualities from him. But he struggled with drug addiction.”


 

“I understand that I can relapse. And that’s why I’ve tried to be as open and public about this situation as I can. I want to be held accountable.”

 

Complete article here: