Recovery at Cokesbury is the parent site of the recovery ministry we are launching here in Dayton, TN. They do an awesome job of introducing people to the transformative power of the gospel. Last night I got to do the weekly teaching as part of a series called “Molehills.” This one is about DENIAL and the power of Jesus Christ to make us new, not just better. I pray this blesses you and gives you hope for a new future. The music at the beginning and throughout rocks, but if you just want the message it begins at 32:30.
This morning my wife shared her testimony to a group of 60 or so women. It’s not the first time she has been invited to do something like this but it never ceases to amaze me that she is doing this. I’m blown away once more by the amazing ability of God to do miracles in people’s lives.
You see, what happened today shouldn’t be happening. At this time 3 years ago I was a bum living in an economy hotel taking a taxi to work at Little Caesars while Amy was high on anti-depressant/anxiety drugs and knocked out on sleeping pills. I was eating cold pizza every night for dinner, alone and glued to my laptop in my “Free Wi-Fi” hotel room while Amy was contemplating suicide and struggling to stay awake long enough to drive our 5 kids to school each morning. The divorce was to be finalized in 3 months and I was wondering how I was going to come up with $2000 a month to pay in child support and alimony. Nothing was good. All was hopeless. We were both dead inside – towards God, each other, and a future with any significance.
Guys and gals, if you think porn is a harmless habit, something private which won’t hurt anyone, you are a fool. Like I was. Stop being a fool. Please.
So as you can see, it’s an absolute miracle that today, 3 years later, my wife would be able to stand before a group of women and proclaim the power of Jesus Christ to break through even the hardest and miserable of hearts and resurrect not just a marriage but the faith of two very lost souls.
I wanted to write this today because I wanted to give praise to God for what He has done in my life, my wife’s life, my kids’ life, our ministry, and more. I am so proud of her and the woman she is, and the woman she is becoming by God’s grace.
I also wanted to write this to encourage anyone reading who is in the pit today. Whether you are the addict or the one living with one, we know the hell you experience every waking moment. I know what it’s like to think there is no possible way life could exist apart from lustful thoughts and compulsions, and Amy knows what it’s like to feel utterly alone and abandoned by God and to fight constantly the battle of wanting to leave but not knowing how or to where.
So how can I encourage you? By shouting this one simple, yet world-altering truth as loud as I can and for as long as I can:
GOD HAS THE POWER TO MAKE YOU NEW!!
It’s true! God doesn’t want to “fix” you, He wants to do a complete overhaul on your life! Yes, the foolish you, the deluded you, the drunk-on-porn you, the high-on-drugs you, the suicidal-thinking you, the depressed you, the cheating you, the lying you, the struggling-just-to-stay-alive-one-more-hour you, cannot imagine any other life because the life God can and will impart to you will require the current you to DIE! The moment you realize and believe that God doesn’t desire to make the you you currently are better but to make a brand new creation out of chaos and brokenness is the moment you are on your way towards sanity. Towards a new life. Towards a testimony which God is going to design in ways you can’t imagine right now but will one day bring Him glory and honor and praise. Why? Because this is what God does. The same God who spoke a universe into existence is the same God ready to create a new you.
So cry out. Cry out to a Father who loves and cares for you so much that He died for you while you were still in this mess, snubbing Him at every turn. He loves you that much! He didn’t bleed for you so that you can live in bondage to sin and shame. Cry out. Be willing to die. Be willing to allow God to create you all over again.
God is looking for people to showcase His amazing ability to do the impossible. Like my wife, who shared a testimony today which goes against all the odds. Thanks be to God that our Father in Heaven is a odd-beating God.
And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them (Isaiah 42:16).
The last few days I have gotten to be with some men who are at the beginning of their journey out of the insanity that is pornography addiction. Each of them wanted to know what to expect once they make this decision to leave it all behind, and after telling them, they each expressed both surprise and gratitude. Surprise because they never heard this before and gratitude because they felt better prepared for the journey. So here I want to share what I shared with them. Take what helps, and leave the rest.
- Get ready for war. The first 30 days in particular, but most likely the next 90, are going to be the hardest of your life. You should expect this. The severity and the length of time where it is really hard depends a lot on the depths of your entrenchment. There will be days where you will feel like you are going to explode, where your flesh is just going absolutely crazy and if you don’t scratch this itch you will die. This is the point. You need to die. Death is painful. Expect it, and embrace it.
- When you feel the above you are now in the fight. There will be nights where you go to bed exhausted because you’ve fought the entire day, praying like you’ve never prayed before. You’ll go to bed exhausted from the battle, but victorious. Just like when you go to the gym for the first time and walk away sore all over, you will feel the same as you enter the spiritual battle of your life. You are learning to use spiritual muscles which have long been atrophied. Let’s face it, you haven’t really been fighting this sin in the past. You’ve been giving over for far too long and your faith-muscles are like limp rags. This is your Rocky moment. Put your big boy pants on, get up and go to the gym, even when it hurts.
- If you fall, you are not starting over. So you experienced a few weeks or months of victory and slip up? It’s not the end of the world, and you are not starting over from scratch. You’ve been given a great gift in having tasted some freedom, something you may have never known before. You began to see some glimmer of hope, and the cobwebs which have long been deluding your thinking and hindering intimacy in your relationships began to dissipate. Give thanks to God! Get back on the saddle and learn from your victories and your mistakes. You are not starting over because you now know more about yourself and what to do in those moments when you feel triggered so that next time you are better prepared to fight. God isn’t through with you, and even in our weakness He is teaching us something we have yet to learn so that we can be made ready to walk in the Promised Land of purity He has prepared for us. You are only starting over if you don’t learn from this!
- Hang in there because it gets better! The intensity of the battle you feel in those first 30-90 days will begin to subside the longer you walk in the light. Your spiritual muscles will get stronger and you will find yourself winning more than losing. Your mind will be transformed as God promised (Rom. 12:1-2) and you will find yourself experiencing a new joy and freedom you never thought possible. A day will come where you’ll remember with a jolt that it’s been days, even weeks or months, since you’ve thought of indulging in something so pointless and reckless as pornography. You will be overflowing with thanksgiving, and far too busy working on other things in your life – fruitful things – to give much thought to whether or not this is the day it all blows up on you. Why? Because you are a new creation! (2 Cor. 5:17).
You are in a fight. Expect to get beat up. But you are a warrior, and more than a conqueror (Rom. 8:37). And trust me, it’s worth every bruise your flesh is about to take. Freedom is sweet, and worth dying for!
For more on this, read: Are you REALLY “Struggling” against Habitual Sin?