by Jeff Hutchinson
We've all heard the term "defense wins championships." Well in football it does, in recovery it does not.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard a spouse say "He just doesn't get it." She's right, we don't get it, we can't understand the terrible pain we have inflicted. The trauma that torments her and the triggers that seem to be around every corner are foreign to us. Most of us can identify our triggers, character defects, resentments, and anything else recovery-based. We continue to live an addict-centric life. This is our biggest failure as addicts.
We seem to think that because we are in recovery and one month, six months, or maybe even a year has passed, that we never have to talk about the past, never have to answer questions about our acting out or recovery. We are appalled when our honesty is questioned and frustrated because she just can't see why all the work we put into recovery of the last month doesn't negate the ten or twenty years we acted out. Sound familiar?
Back to football.
On the offensive side of the ball you are probably doing great going to meetings, using your accountability partners, working the steps with a sponsor, prayer and meditation every morning. It's great to feel like a new man. That is, until you walk in the door and she asks you "Where did you take her to have sex?" Gut punched!
How could she? I just got out of a meeting, I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be doing!
Watch out coach, sounds like you're going on the defensive. A little advice if I may; Stop, breath, understand that while you have sprinted ahead in your recovery she may not be in the same place.
In the Army we have a saying, "Never leave a man behind." Why on earth would you leave your wife behind? Answering questions, getting grilled, or listening while she vents or unloads is part of your job now. You have a duty to support your wife - period. What would it look like if you answered the questions in a calm voice with empathy. Empathy, there's a new concept...
I know it's not easy to comfort someone who is bringing up all the stuff that makes you cringe or cursing you out at the top of her lungs, but in order to help her you cannot play defense. Defense will not win you anything here. Stick to offense, you'll score more points that way.
Get more help from Jeff at www.caribouministries.com.
by Jonathan Daugherty
Everybody loves a good story. The drama, the suspense, the unexpected twists and turns that draw us into the characters and the momentum of the plot. We like it when good triumphs over evil and when, in the end, the guy wins the girl. Even sad stories capture us as we feel the emotion of each character as they suffer or grieve.
What seems to be consistent in all good stories is a piece of reality to which we can connect it. We like to think that what compels us to become enthralled in a really good story could somehow happen, even in the smallest sense, in our own lives.
When I was a kid I watched Superman. What a great story! Baby gets jetted off a distant planet just before it gets destroyed and lands on earth. But he isn't like other babies. No, this kid has special "gifts." He was faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound (or something like that). But his powers aren't what actually made the story great. It was his struggle with how to use his powers that drew me into the story. Would he hide his special abilities and just try to fit into this foreign culture of human beings? Or would he use his powers for selfish gain? (What guy hasn't wished for x-ray vision?) But he knows deep inside that such gifts are to be used for good, to save lives and resist evil. That makes the story great, and is why I would wear a cape, pretend I was flying and "become" Superman.
We don't just love good stories. We want to be part of a good story. We all want what the good stories offer: a spark that moves others to respond. We want our lives to compel someone to "put on a cape" and emulate the good we are striving for. But a problem arises when we engage this pursuit? We discover we can't achieve good or offer the "perfect story" for others to admire. And rather than continuing our search to be part of a great story, we give up, tuck our head, and resolve that Clark Kent is as close to the dream we can get. But I believe there is another way, a way you and I can be part of the best story.
Superman is cool and did some pretty wild stunts, like reversing the earth's rotation to "rewind" time. (if you're a physicist, please don't write me explaining how that could never accomplish this) But while Superman is cool, he's got nothing on Jesus. (also, Superman isn't real...) Jesus created the heavens and the earth, raised men from the dead, walked on water, fed thousands with a handful of fish and bread, and made a way for us to be part of His story -- forever.
Jesus' story is the most compelling of all, and it started a bit like Superman's story. Jesus left His place in heaven to be born as a baby on earth. He came on a mission to save human beings from the deadly effects of sin (separation from God). He was tempted to use His power for selfish gain and abandon His mission. But He chose to complete His mission and sacrifice Himself to pay the penalty that we all owed to God for our sin. Upon completing His mission He then offered to us the simplest way possible to cross from death (where sin leads) to life (what Jesus brought through the cross): faith. Everyone who believes in Jesus becomes part of a new story, one with a great ending.
But what about your story to this point? Does it matter? Is it worth telling? Absolutely! No matter what your story includes, it matters. It may not seem compelling to you, or interesting, or dramatic, or mysterious, or anything that resembles a blockbuster Hollywood hit. But you are precious to God, so much so that even before you took your first breath He was "reading" your story. With rapt attention, I might add. He loves you, total story included.
Here at Be Broken Ministries we value story. It matters immensely to us when a person takes that courageous step to spill their guts and share their story. A story of pain, secrets, sin, betrayal, lust, anger, shame, everything. Nervously, they dip their toes in the water, wondering if a shark is circling, just waiting to devour them once they jump in all the way.
But there is no shark, only regular people who desire healing for broken souls drowning in the dark. As more and more of their story bursts forth, the Light of Jesus cascades into hidden places in their soul and a new sense of hope and freedom and direction is realized. Could it be that the way out of their terrible bondage might come by way of telling their story? It seems too simple, so it must not be. How could sharing a story matter that much?
"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." (Rom. 10:17)
No one comes to God without faith. And no one acquires faith without hearing God's story. What a picture. The God of all things telling us a story. A story that changes everything. But what moves me most about this picture is that after God tells His story, He sits quietly, patiently, and says to us, "Tell me your story."
For some of you, He is still waiting. And He is still interested...
Because your story matters...
by Jonathan Daugherty
"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people." --Ephesians 5:3
I lived my adolescent years and most of my young adult life with a "minimum required" attitude. What was the minimum I could do to get by in life, be it school, career, relationships, whatever. And I would always hover just above the line of mediocrity, convincing myself such a life was "good enough." But I have come to discover that God doesn't save us for a "good enough" life. He calls us to live an "abundant life," and that kind of life doesn't hang around at the line of mediocrity.
Many Christians in our modern world live in fear of being labeled "radical," which is exactly what Satan wants. After all, radical (i.e. "set apart") is precisely what God's people are called to be! But we try to live our lives on the shoreline, not making enough waves for people to take notice. Oh, we'll give money to our church, or volunteer at a soup kitchen once a year, but don't expect us to start a house church in our neighborhood, or tell our neighbors in no uncertain terms our devotion to Jesus, or challenge our pastor to take on topics like porn or homosexuality. That's too radical.
When it comes to purity, the church is, unfortunately, far away from radical. God's expectations of His people regarding purity is that we conduct ourselves in such a way that no one could accuse us of "even a hint" of immorality. Sadly, we could easily be accused of much more. But rather than just throwing the church under the bus, I want to provide some practical advice for what it might take to reclaim our identity as those who God expects to live upright lives of purity.
First, we must establish who we are to emulate. Two verses prior to the one mentioned above, we are exhorted, "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children." A good start to living a life of purity above reproach is to imitate God, not the world. This may seem like a no-brainer, until you begin carefully examining your life. Are your entertainment choices imitating God? What clothing do you wear and why? How you speak to friends, family, and co-workers; is it God-honoring? In essence, are you a mirror to others of God, reflecting His character and desires? It's convicting, but purity must be born of God if it is to truly be pure.
Second, we must realize that purity goes beyond simply sexuality and "behaving right." Notice in Ephesians 5:3 it also states, "...or of any kind of impurity." We must not have even a hint of any kind of impurity. Wow, that certainly broadens the scope to cover every aspect of our lives. Are you pure in how you steward your body, the kinds of foods you eat? Are you pure in your work, not cutting corners or lying about work you didn't do? Are you pure in your parenting, teaching, or disciplining? I'm beginning to think that God expects us to be radical in how we live our entire lives, not just how we manage our sexuality.
Finally, we must acknowledge our primary obstacle to such purity is lust, that part of our sinful nature that desires to pursue all that is opposed to God and His best for us. That same verse in Ephesians reveals, "...or of greed." Sure, greed is most usually associated with money, but in this passage it gets directly linked with purity. Greed is about taking, about power, about consuming for selfish reasons. Lust is sexual greed and is not what God expects of His children. To live with not even a hint of sexual immorality will require an aggressive battle against lust.
I have taught for years that there are 4 Pillars of Purity necessary to live each day in sexual integrity. I still believe this is true. A life of purity isn't complicated, but it does require radical dedication to God's basic principles of purity: Confession, Self-Examination, Faith, and Community. I have published a full length book that outlines these pillars. You can get a copy here.
So, how is your integrity? Is there a hint of immorality in how you conduct yourself? Or a hint of sexual greed in how you engage your spouse or view your fellow man? Wherever you find "even a hint" of any kind of impurity, begin to clean up and get radical. Abundant life is only found by the few who take God at His Word and follow wherever He leads. And He never leads to "good enough." He leads to radical, and no one who follows regrets their decision...
by Jonathan Daugherty
I attended a ministry workshop years ago with my wife. We were there to learn about how to prevent burnout when working in full time ministry. The speaker made a comment in one of his teaching sessions that really floored me. He said, "God is extremely inefficient in His character." I didn't really know how to react to such a statement. I leaned in, blinked my eyes a few times to remove any mental cobwebs, and waited to hear what he might say next to clarify this perplexing comment.
He went on to say that God, if He were efficient, would carefully measure everything He did. Why place a million flowers on a field in South America that no person may ever see? Why fill the sky with billions of stars in galaxies we will never know about? Why create thousands of sea creatures when just a few dozen would have gotten the point across about His creativity? If a business analyst in the 21st century were to evaluate "God's business" he would have to conclude that the operation is running at a loss. There is too much extravagance. God does not operate "efficiently."
As I pondered this idea, a powerful truth began to sink in - and I rejoiced at the inefficiency of God. What if God were efficient in His dealings with me, a stubborn, selfish child? What hope would I have if He were not one who poured out His love, lavished His mercy, and filled me to overflowing with His grace? The extravagance of God has been offered to me. I am, therefore, thankful for the inefficiency of God.
The longer I thought about this truth the more I was convicted of how I treat other people. I became painfully aware that I often interact with others in ways that attempt to measure everything, a way that is "efficient." I attempt to keep everything "even" between me and others. They pay me a compliment, I return the compliment. I borrow something, I lend something. Measure, measure, measure. My heart grew sad as I thought of how this must break God's heart to see His children, who have been given the keys to the doorway of heaven, selfishly mete out the bare minimum of blessing on those around them. Jesus spoke of such inconsistency when he shared the parable of the unmerciful servant.
He said, "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents (millions) was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (pennies). He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.
"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt."
God refuses to "measure out" His goodness, grace, mercy, and love toward us. He refuses to contain Himself when it comes to showering peace, purity, and promise. He gives and gives and gives. He is the inefficient God, whose purposes far exceed any measurement. You see, God is interested in our hearts. He wants a relationship with us. You don't measure relationship. You cannot measure love. This is the heart of God: mercy and compassion for wretched sinners like you and me.
I have been challenged by this truth. I must wake up each day and take an honest look in the mirror and ask myself if I am willing to reflect the heart of God today. It can be a tough question when the busyness and trappings of this world compete for my attention. I am tempted to "measure" my kindnesses or generosity, feeling such sacrifices carry with them an added burden. But what I am learning is that "[his] yoke is easy and [his] burden is light." When I reflect the heart of God, I carry no burden because God provides immeasurably beyond what I could even ask or imagine.
Rejoice with me for the inefficiency of God...and ask Him to be reflected in you today.