by Jonathan Daugherty
What is the best remedy for complete burnout, total fatigue? More work, of course! You just need to tap into the right formula. Obviously, you're doing something wrong. If you weren't, well, you wouldn't be so tired now, would you?
This, unfortunately, is the answer many well-meaning people are shoving down the throats of already burned out, and broken, sex and porn addicts.
Therapists, good-natured friends, and even pastors heap up massive servings of rules, along with some side orders of shame and fear, to sexually broken people searching for help. It's no wonder that very few sex and porn addicts ever taste the sweet morsels of freedom and peace.
Jesus once said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28)
You should see the looks on some guys faces when I tell them their mission in recovery isn't "doing more." It's like I've knocked over their apple cart with all their carefully positioned, platitudinal answers to all life's questions. What? Getting free from sexual bondage doesn't mean I have to take on more rules and tasks and burdens? How can that be?
I'm always amazed and encouraged by how Jesus cuts to the heart of what we need without blinking at all our excuses. He knows that our hearts need rest. So, he invites us to rest...in Him.
"But, Lord, I know that I need to get cleaned up and stop acting out first."
"Come to me," Jesus says.
"Well, I know that I need to get in a group, pray every day, read my Bible, and go to church."
"Come to me," He beckons.
"C'mon, Jesus, I need to know that everything I'm going to give up is really worth it, and that everything I'm going to work so hard for will impress you."
"Come to me."
Keeping the rules has never transformed one sinful heart.
Jesus alone transforms hearts. He alone can heal your sexual brokenness, the abuses from your past, the anger and fear in your heart.
Rules and programs and books, these things become a noose around your already broken neck if you don't understand that you must first come to Jesus. He gives rest, no one else does. No one else can.
Sometimes it's hard to recognize rest (i.e. peace) as your essential need. It feels more like the primary need is figuring how to just not act out anymore. But I have come to see that when a soul has found its rest in Jesus, the motivations it once had to act out are gone.
Finding rest, and continuing to rest, in Jesus gives the soul all it needs to live life in fullness and joy, no longer seeking the facade of true intimacy promised by lust.
Now, don't think that prayer, Bible study, community and counseling are rubbish. They are not. But when one seeks in those activities what can only be found in the person of Jesus Christ, there will be no rest, only anxiety.
Be careful to keep the central thing first: Jesus gives rest to all who come to him. Everything else is secondary.
3 Tips for Finding Rest in Jesus
While it is true that Jesus offers us the generous, open invitation to come to Him to find rest, there are some insights to be gained from those who have traveled this road before us.
Here are a few tips I've learned from others over the years that might help you find the rest your heart longs for in Jesus:
1. Tear Up Your Agenda
Even when your soul is weary, it's easy to have an agenda for what you think rest should look like (and feel like). But this won't help you find true rest.
To bring an agenda to Jesus when your soul is frazzled and worn is like bringing your bankruptcy paperwork to Bill Gates as a strategy for creating wealth. Jesus knows what your soul needs to find rest. If you knew, Jesus wouldn't have made the invitation.
So, lay down your ideas of what you think it will take to find rest, and instead place yourself in the competent and caring arms of Jesus.
Sometimes just laying down your agenda brings a wave of rest your soul hasn't felt in, well, maybe forever.
2. Listen More than You Talk
Jesus says that He will give you rest. This means that He knows what it takes for your soul to be at rest. Therefore, it's to your advantage to listen to whatever He tells you.
I have been leading a weekly support group for sexually addicted men since 2000. Sometimes a guy shows up and on his first time there talks more than everyone. He has answers, but no solutions. He doesn't even realize it.
Maybe you have had a lot of "answers" for the restlessness of your soul, but have yet to find any solutions. You talk and talk and talk. But your answers only add more anxiety and turmoil to your life.
Sit still. Focus on Jesus and His Word. Listen. Stay silent. Just listen. You may not hear anything for awhile. That's okay. This is Jesus calming your mind and heart so that you can receive the rest He wants to give you.
The kind of rest Jesus offers cannot be received by a proud heart. Not until you admit you don't have all the "answers" will you be truly ready to receive the rest Jesus has for you.
Listen more than you talk...
3. Wear Jesus' Yoke
There is a kind of rest that Jesus offers that is totally free. It doesn't cost you anything. Just come to Him and receive it. It's wonderful. But it's not all that Jesus has to offer.
There is a deeper rest that Jesus offers to those who are willing to be "yoked" to Him. This He calls "rest for your soul."
The first kind of rest is a release from the burdens of all your toil and labor in trying to generate the peace that only Jesus can bring. And we all need to be released from the prison of self-righteousness and pride.
But the deeper rest is found in a new kind of toil and labor, the work that Jesus wants us to do alongside Him.
He says, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matt. 11:29, emphasis mine)
To be "yoked" to Jesus means that He is going to put you to work in learning from Him what it means to live life the way He intended it. This is not easy and it doesn't come naturally. But by His grace, and through His power, you can do the work God made for you to do. (Eph. 2:10)
And this work that Jesus invites you to do alongside Him will lead you to discover a rest for your soul that you could never find on your own.
Are you laboring? Heavy laden? Even in recovery? Come to Jesus. He promises to give rest to all who come. So, what excuse is holding you back from receiving what your soul truly needs? Just come...
I love Christmastime. From the time I was a kid I have loved everything about this end-of-year holiday. The gifts, the eggnog, the lights, the movies. All of it is "merry and bright." And it should be! Christmas is the celebration of God's gift of hope and redemption, the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ.
But why all the excitement and celebration? What could cause such a response of joy and jubilee? What is so significant about the birth of Jesus? It is really quite simple: Jesus is the Savior of the world.
In the beginning, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sin (independence from God) entered the human race. Every subsequent generation has been progressively distancing itself from its Creator. And God was under no obligation to have to remedy this problem. Except for one little wrinkle: He loved us!
The only reason a Savior was even needed was because sin orphaned us from God. We effectively spit in our Creator's face and headed for the distant country to live however we pleased. And though our hearts have grown colder and colder toward God, His love for us remains bright and warm. His love compelled Him to make a way for our redemption; He wanted to adopt us back into His family.
But sin stood in the way. How could we be rejoined to our Maker, the holy and righteous God? God's solution was simple. He would enter into His own creation, taking on the very flesh that sin had corrupted. He would then live the sinless life we couldn't and pay the full debt of our sin by dying the death we deserved. And to prove His power over sin and death, He would rise from the grave and freely give this victorious, righteous, eternal life to anyone who trusts in Him.
This is truly Joy to the World! Why? Because sin no longer has the final say on your eternal destiny. You do not have to remain separated from your Creator. You can be forgiven, washed and made new in Jesus Christ. And what is the requirement for such salvation? Faith. Just faith.
Is this message too good to be true? Maybe. But it is true nonetheless. And it matters to your life, not only for eternity but right here, right now. Jesus offers not only the forgiveness of your sins, but also the power of His very life to enjoy freedom from the deadly effects of sin in your life right now.
Christmas is still my favorite time of the year, but its meaning is deeper to me now. It is not merely about gifts and food and merry holiday movies. It is about the grace of God, for He gave the only gift that truly matters in life: Himself.
Will you receive it?
Written by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder & President of Be Broken Ministries
by Jonathan Daugherty
I have yet to meet a sex addict (who is active in their addiction) who isn't angry, or at least easily irritated. I used to be like this myself; grumpy, selfish, ready at the drop of a hat to chew people up and spit them out. Addiction, by it's very nature, is imprisonment to something that never satisfies. Such a cycle of futility isn't how one grows in contentment and joy. No, addiction is a pathway to agitated bitterness.
It is interesting, though, when an addicted person finally admits their powerlessness and starts to seek help, they rarely, if ever, see the recovery process as a pathway to gratitude. More likely is that they see recovery simply as a reversal of their "bad habits" that are ruining their life. If they could just stop doing whatever it is they are doing addictively, then they would be happy. But happiness isn't a synonym for gratitude. Happiness, even in recovery, is still self-centered.
Now, before you get upset at me for calling happy people selfish, that's not what I'm saying. My context here is recovery from addiction, and every addict is a self-worshipper. Addiction and narcissism go hand in hand, even if such self-centeredness isn't manifest as loud, obnoxious bravado. Therefore, when an addict enters recovery, he does so with a firm foundation of self-absorption in place. This is why in early stages of recovery, the addict is still only thinking about himself; how to stop behavior, how to fix his relationships, how to avoid consequences, how to do recovery on his own terms, etc.
But when an addict gets past the initial "immature" stages of recovery (this isn't to shame anyone, but simply state the facts about the "growth process" in recovery), there comes another "tier" of growth that challenges the initial assumptions of what recovery is all about. Is recovery about changing behavior so I can still be the center of my universe and get everything I want, but maybe just in a "healthier looking" way? Or is recovery about total transformation from a self-centered idolator to one who serves others and finds genuine joy in doing so? Could recovery be about gratitude more than it is about "clean" behavior?
These questions begin to challenge the recovering addict. To what degree do they want to follow this path of recovery? Are they okay setting up camp at the first water station they come to, where their behavior may look better, but they can keep their lives and relationships revolving around them? Or does their soul feel the tug of something deeper, something significant, something that feels like it comes from the very heart of God?
I remember when I felt this tug in recovery. I was actually several years into my recovery journey. Good things (God things!) had been happening in my life, and I had a type of contentment that I hadn't had before. I was grateful for these changes, but I kept feeling deep in my soul that there was even more to discover on this journey; even deeper gratitude to experience. But it wouldn't come from gathering more information or more accountability partners or more Internet filters. This gratitude comes from giving it all away.
God doesn't think or act like we do. We operate from a place of selfishness; God operates from a place of selflessness. We gain for the sake of keeping. God grows for the sake of blessing others. Fundamentally, we start from different places when it comes to us and God. He is perfect and unstained by sin, while we are imperfect and drowning in sin. But the best hope in recovery comes from God! He draws near to the broken and outcast, while our tendency is to discard and abandon. It's this hope in God, not in our "clean" behavior, that starts to shape our gratitude.
So, back to my story and how gratitude started shifting my recovery. I began recovery with a type of gratitude, one we are all most familiar with: thankfulness for receiving good things, especially undeserved kindness (i.e. grace). And this is a wonderful feeling! I was growing in recovery and things were changing in my life; behaviors, attitudes, friendships. It was wonderful to receive these blessings and I was truly grateful for all these gifts from God.
But I was challenged to embrace a deeper gratitude, the honor and privilege to give away everything God had given to me. I have to admit, this didn't seem like something that would produce gratitude in me at first. I thought gratitude was only connected to receiving, kinda like how you feel as a kid on Christmas morning when tearing into the presents under the tree. Gratitude is felt when I gain something, right? But how can there be a deeper gratitude from giving something away? How can I be even more thankful for that?
What brought this conundrum together for me was when I took a step back from my recovery journey and tried to look at my life as a whole; the good, the bad, all of it. I was struck with the truth that I didn't create my life; it didn't start with me, or even my parents. I was the handiwork of my Creator, the God of the heavens and earth, who saw me before anything was made and chose to give me life (Eph. 1:3-4, 2:10). Everything, all of me, was in His hands. This changed my entire journey from that point on.
Gratitude flows from my knowledge of God, not out of my circumstances. So, whether I am "receiving" everything my heart could desire, or "giving away" anything I don't really own (God owns it all, right?), I am grateful. My heart, my soul, is filled to overflowing with gratitude that cannot be measured by what I have, or even by how much I give away. This gratitude comes from the One who declared my life precious before I took my first breath. And for every addict I meet, I long to give away everything I have so they, too, might come to realize this great and precious truth: God loves addicts.
If you are "stuck" in recovery, still believing that the journey is merely about getting "clean" and acquiring more knowledge or insight or whatever, let me invite you to go deeper and enter the next leg of the journey where you can discover it truly is "more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35b)
I promise, you'll be grateful you took this deeper plunge in recovery...
by Jonathan Daugherty
Since 2003, Be Broken Ministries has existed for a singular purpose: "Helping individuals and families move from sexual brokenness to wholeness in Christ." It is a simple mission with profound impact.
Our desire is to see every person desiring freedom from sexually addictive patterns to realize that desire through recovery. And we are delighted to say that we have seen many hundreds gain the freedom they desired.
Over the years, however, there have been many distractions to us maintaining focus on our mission. Trendy recovery methods might come along, enticing us to elevate form over function. Comparing ourselves to other similar ministries has, at times, caused us to think we were doing ministry "wrong" (or "right"). Opposition from those who disagree with our stance that porn and adultery are wrong can hurt and upset us. And there has also been just weariness, fears, and the struggle to persevere.
But time and again we return to the core values that God placed in this ministry from the very beginning: Grace, Honesty, Purity, and Community. These are the foundation from which we build every resource, every podcast, every workshop, every website, everything.
We believe for anyone who wants to effectively minister to someone sexually addicted, these are the core values that must exist. Therefore, let me share what these core values mean; to us, and to the process of recovery.
"No one is too broken to love."
When a sexual addict reaches out for help, the most important response they need is one of grace; the undeserved kindness of a friend. We believe this grace originates from God, who loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sin (including addiction) that we couldn't. God didn't wait for us to get "sober" or cleaned up or "on the right path." Instead, "...while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8b) That's grace!
Many addicts, however, are not greeted with grace when they finally decide to seek help. They are often met with condemnation, rejection, or rigid rules. This causes the addict to falsely believe that their worth is based on their performance, so if they just learn how to "behave" they will find the love and acceptance they long for. But that's not how grace works.
If you want to effectively minister to a sexual addict, you must lead with grace; extending compassion, kindness, and warmth even while they are still drenched in the muck of their addiction. It is a soft touch, not an iron fist, that draws the addict out of the dark and into the light of recovery.
"Everyone's full story is worth hearing."
Sex addicts (or any addicts) are excellent liars. They often have a history of not only telling lies, but also being told lies. In fact, every sex addict I have ever met learned to tell lies by being told lies, whether from a parent, older sibling, or the media they consumed in childhood. And lies beget lying.
The predominant teacher of lies for sex addicts is usually pornography. It teaches a young person a host of lies; about sex, about love, about relationships, about life. Once a kid has bought porn's lies, it becomes easy to travel down the road of deception -- of others and self. Eventually, this person wakes up in their late 20's or early 30's and realizes "I'm living a lie!"
Therefore, to help a sexual addict break free from a life of lies, you must introduce them to truth. Truth comes from God, for Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6a) For an addict to overcome their self-deception, they must encounter Jesus. This requires getting into His Word, the Bible, and reaching out to Him in prayer. As one draws closer to Jesus, the line between lies and truth becomes clearer.
But freedom for a sex addict doesn't just happen because they come to see the difference between the truth and a lie. Real freedom only begins when they honestly share their full story and commit to a life of brutal honesty. There is no true freedom if an addict never shares their whole story. All of it must come into the Light in order for them to experience total release and hope.
If you want to effectively minister to a sexual addict, create a safe place for them to share their story; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Encourage brutal honesty in a "shame-free-zone," reminding them that their worth is not based on their behavior, but on the God who loved them enough to send Jesus to the cross even before they ever acted out.
"A journey of better reflecting Christ."
No one is perfect, except Jesus. The Bible says, "Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins." (Ecc. 7:20) It also says of Jesus, "For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor. 5:21) Jesus was perfect in every way, without sin. In other words, He was pure. We, however, apart from Him, are not.
Certainly someone wanting to break free from sexually addictive patterns must take steps toward purity. After all, pure is the opposite of impure. However, these steps are not toward a purity that we can conjure up within ourselves. Remember, there isn't a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. Therefore, purity must come from the only One who is pure: Jesus.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:13-16)
If you want to effectively minister to a sexual addict, lead them to a deeper dependence on Jesus for their purity. A life of sexual integrity is one that reflects the image of Jesus.
"Enjoying the fruit of healthy relationships."
The ultimate vision we have for sex addicts in recovery is "True Lovers in Joyful Community." We believe God made us to be great lovers, not great lusters.* And the environment for developing as a great lover is in community. We desire addicts to one day adopt the very heart of God, a heart which loves.
It is hard for anyone to get close to an addict. They hide and lie and naturally push people away with their self-absorbed lifestyle. Everything about them points inward, to their brokenness, their pride, their lust. In essence, their lives are always and only about themselves. Not only do they not engage in real community, they can't because their eyes never look away from their own image.
When a sex addict finally has the "rock bottom" experience that jolts them awake to the reality of their self-centered life, they must (re)learn to connect with others in healthy ways. This involves telling the truth, listening, exercising empathy, serving with proper motives, and accountability. This is no small task for someone whose life has only been focused inward, but it is still the path to total freedom and joy.
If you want to effectively minister to a sexual addict, welcome them into a loving community where the truth is told in love and faithful friendships can blossom. The eventual place an addict needs to arrive for their freedom to be realized is a place where giving and serving others is of higher importance than receiving anything in return.
The greatest joy in recovery is investing these core values into a weary addict just looking for help...
*(thanks to Stephen Cervantes for coining this phrase)
by Jonathan Daugherty
Do you ever wonder if the changes you hope for in your life will ever come? Many in recovery struggle with the imperfectness of the journey, frustrated that lasting change seems to be so fleeting. Some even bail out altogether, unwilling to continue on a path they conclude isn't leading them to a better place.
I believe that God is able and willing to transform every addict's life from one of self-centered idolatry to that of joyful service. His timeline, however, for this change rarely coincides with ours. We seem to always want what we want faster than God is willing to give it to us. Sadly, some then determine this to mean that God doesn't care much for them, but they are wrong. He actually cares so much that He is willing to withhold what we aren't yet ready to receive. He is aiming at lasting freedom, while we are simply wanting immediate relief from our pain and consequences.
I have been on this recovery road since 1999. Some days I feel like I have traveled a million miles from where I was at that point in my life. Other days, though, I feel as though I have barely moved an inch. On the good days I can vividly see the changes that God, by His grace, has placed in me. But on the bad days I wonder in agony if anything has changed at all. Thankfully, God is more faithful to my transformation than I am! You see, change is a gift, not an achievement.
If you are struggling with the slow, tedious, and often frustrating process of change in recovery, then I want to encourage you with 4 key insights to experiencing lasting change. These are the elements that lead a person to true freedom in recovery, not simply better "management" of behaviors.
1. God promises to transform you, and He keeps all His promises.
Philippians 1:6 - And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
1 John 3:2 - Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
Everything about recovery changes (no pun intended) when we realize that it is God who causes transformation, not us. We have a long history of demonstrating that our power, our wisdom only produced a compulsive life of addiction. Why do we then assume that it will be by that same power and wisdom that we become a selfless servant of God? We are either changed by God, or we aren't changed.
The good news about this is that God has promised to see this process through to completion. And God never breaks a promise. Take a deep breath. The God who loves you and gave you the free gift of eternal life is the same God who will bring you into His presence in heaven totally transformed into the likeness of Jesus.
2. By definition, change is a process.
Every addict enters recovery in hopes of changing; desiring to become someone they currently aren't. I find it fascinating that we addicts want change, but get frustrated when we haven't "arrived" where we want to be. Change, by its very definition, is a process.
change (cheynj) - to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc. of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.
Change cannot occur apart from a process, something that involves time and stages. Although I am many years down the road in my own recovery, I am still in the process of change. I may not be in the first stages of that change, but I am certainly not finished with the process. Or rather, God is not finished with the process of change in me -- or you.
3. You become who you focus on.
God's work in us is to transform us into the image of His Son, Jesus. We cooperate with His plan when we choose to focus on Jesus. The more we focus on Him, the more we become like Him. If you and I are not becoming more like Jesus, you can be assured we are not focusing on Him.
Have you noticed when you're driving your car and you glance out the window to look at something, you will unconsciously steer the car in the direction you are looking? This illustrates the principle of focus. We naturally drift toward whatever (or whomever) we focus on. This is why it is so important that we engage the discipline of daily focusing on Jesus.
When we focus on Jesus, we see the life God has called us to: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22). Such a life is a far departure from addiction, but it only comes by way of Jesus and the power of His Spirit in us. Focus on Him!
Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Gal. 5:16)
4. Grace will carry you over the finish line.
It is God's kindness (grace) that completes the change process in our lives. Too many in recovery buy the lie that if they just work hard enough at resisting temptation and controlling urges they will transform into good, godly people. This isn't true. They will only change into clean, self-righteous people, the very people Jesus openly chastised (i.e. Pharisees).
When we understand that we are saved, sealed, and sanctified by the grace of God, we can finally rest in the work God is doing in our lives, instead of just "trying harder." We begin to live out of the identity God gives us (beloved sons and daughters of the King), rather than one we try to create or one others create for us.
There is a day coming when the change in you and me will be complete, a day when we see our Savior, Jesus, face-to-face. In that moment, the journey will make sense. For now, may we learn to better trust Him with this process we are in. He knows what He is doing, and by His grace we will make it over the finish line.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:12-14)
by Jonathan Daugherty
Do you ever wonder if we live in a country (USA) that is so blessed with "creature comforts" that we have become "flabby" when it comes to our spiritual fitness? We have so much, yet everywhere I turn I see increased dissatisfaction and misery as people clamor for more and more and more. When will it ever be enough? Is there ever an end to the discontent and anxiety of those believing the lies of entitlement thinking? (chew on that one for a few seconds...)
I actually believe there is an end to such discontentment and anxiety, but to pursue it requires incredible strength and resolve because it goes against all that our culture promotes and worships. The answer to ungratefulness and dissatisfaction is found in God's grace.
I realize that many of my writings, whether in a blog, a newsletter, or a book, tend to come off as a rehash of the same old theme: grace! For any of you who have read many of my writings, you might be thinking, "Geesh, here he goes again on the 'grace thing.' Doesn't he know how to write on any other topic?!" I apologize, but only for the fact that the message seems not to be getting through on a larger scale to believers throughout our culture. Grace is the theme of life for the believer, and until we understand (and embrace) this truth, we too will fall victim to the whining and moaning of the increased throng of the dissatisfied.
So, what is it that makes grace so amazing? Why is it so essential to true life and real contentment? What makes God's grace indispensable, not merely a side issue that we can take or leave on this journey of faith?
What makes God's grace so paramount, so essential in this thing called life is that without it there would be no life at all. It was by God's grace that he even considered creating us to enjoy him. His grace is woven throughout all of creation, offering us breathtaking examples of his beauty and majesty. His grace consistently and persistently pursues mankind, even going so far as to lay down his own life in order that we wouldn't perish but instead enjoy life forever with him. Grace is fundamentally essential to life, in all its layers!
But is grace really enough? This is the question our culture is so accustomed to asking, isn't it? "What is enough?" And we ask it about everything, don't we?
And the list goes on. We as believers should be the first to notice the fallacy in such thinking, but often we ourselves are swept away in the rush of discontent and we find ourselves believing the subtle lie of the enemy (which hasn't changed from the beginning), "What you've been given by the grace of God; it isn't enough." As we swallow the hook of that lie, we (just like the unbeliever) become pawns of the devil, twisting and turning in whatever direction he desires.
I'm not saying we shouldn't want to improve and even take risks in following Christ (in fact, to follow the Lord is a great risk Jesus himself told us to weigh carefully). But we need to remember that we are promised discomfort in this life if we follow Jesus. We are promised trouble, hardships, suffering, and even hatred if we take this Christianity message seriously. And this makes sense if you understand that this world is not our home. But in the discomfort, in the trials, in the illnesses, in the losses, is grace really enough?
I believe that until we come to a place where we say with authenticity, "God, your grace is enough," we will never know true life and never experience real peace and contentment. Believer, God's grace IS enough! If he were to provide nothing else for us in our entire existence, save his grace, it would be enough - MORE THAN ENOUGH! Do you believe this? Then cling to it in all of life's seasons.
God's grace is powerful for transforming lives, for in it we find something of the essence of God, the truth that he really does love us with an everlasting love. His compassion is endless, His salvation is permanent, His mercy is great and His faithfulness reaches beyond the heavens. When you come to the place of understanding and appreciating the limitless grace of God, you finally reach a place in your life that transcends circumstance, that is beyond the physical, material world that appeals to the rottenness of our sinful flesh. You enter a place of peace, untouched and unmarred by anything this life can throw at you in hopes that you fall. And even when you do stumble, God's grace is there to pick you up.
I pray you will embrace God's grace today and every day. It really is enough...
by Jonathan Daugherty
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:6-8
So, by now I hope you are seeing the importance of giving, as a matter of attitude and just overall life philosophy. Money and “stuff” seem the easiest to recognize as gifts, or the investment of time into developing friendships. But what about the idea that God has “gifted” each of His children in a unique and purposeful way? How do we go about recognizing and sharing such gifts?
I wondered for a long time what my “gift” was from God. I knew I wasn’t a prophet, even though I always felt a sense of discernment around others. I knew it wasn’t serving or encouraging, even though these are tasks all believers are called to engage in. I often grew frustrated because I just knew I had to have a purpose, but I silently wondered what it was. In many ways, I felt like I identified with Moses.
Moses was a child of great promise, yet born in a very tumultuous season in history. His wise and loving parents made a way for him to escape the wrath of a wicked ruler, and in so doing Moses was eventually raised up among Egyptian royalty even though he was a Hebrew. God had a very specific purpose for Moses, but Moses struggled with knowing exactly what it was and how it would be manifest in his life.
It was apparent that God’s people would need help if they were going to escape the harsh slavery under Egyptian rule. Moses sensed that he had the position and means to provide such exile, but again the specifics were elusive. One day, in anger, Moses killed an Egyptian who was arguing with an Israelite. Maybe this would be the moment when God’s people would rally behind Moses and give him support as their leader. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. In fact, one of his own came against him with harsh accusation and he fled the country. He lived the next 40 years in isolation from his people. I’m sure for many of those lonely years he relived the shame of his failed leadership and cowardice.
Did God’s purpose for Moses change in those years after he fled? Not in the least. Did Moses readily know that? Seems like he didn’t, for when God came to him in the burning bush and subsequent encounters to commission him to rescue the Israelites, he balked at the idea, pointing out all his flaws and reasons why he couldn’t possibly be the right candidate for the job. I have felt a kindred spirit with Moses.
Eventually, Moses surrendered to God’s will and the Israelites were led to the Promised Land (after another 40 years of wandering in the desert). God had given Moses a “gift,” a unique calling to fulfill while he lived on this blue planet. And everyone God calls has also been given a special purpose, a unique “fitting” into His plan. God gives to us so we might give to others.
I have come to learn that my gift is “word of wisdom,” which is simply being able to bring an aptly timed word or message that moves others to consider their actions and make appropriate change. This is not something that comes from within me, but rather is a gift from God, something He empowers in me in order to bless others. I resisted using this gift for a long time, much out of ignorance, but some out of willful defiance. I simply didn’t think I should have the privilege of ministering to others when my past was so littered with sin and “murder” (like Moses). But God destined my purpose before I was even born, so how could I change His mind, even by my sinfulness? (“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us…”)
You have a gift, my friend, whether you actively recognize it or not. God desires to powerfully impact others through YOU! Some of us may spend years in quiet shame, coming to grips with our own failures and fears. Others may, like Joseph (Gen. 37-50), surrender early to the will of God. Either way, the time will come when God will say, “It’s time.” When He does, will you surrender and allow Him to direct you to bless others or will you recite all the feeble reasons why you couldn’t be the man (or woman) for the job?
Give the gift God has given to you. You won’t know true joy until you do…
I have met hundreds of individuals with similar beliefs. They grew up to understand God as angry. And who could blame them? There is, after all, a lot of blood in the Bible. Reading through the Old Testament you will soon find one instance after another where God exacts justice on rebellious people; often in the form of war and death. So, one is left to draw conclusions about this God, and angry seems to fit the bill. I mean, why else would God act in such ways if it isn’t out of anger?
First, God is not like us. The Bible tells us that His ways are higher than ours, and His thoughts too (Isaiah 55:9). He is perfect, flawless, sinless, not bound by time or space. He is Creator, Judge, Redeemer. He chose to make humans in His image, bearing a sense of His character and creativity. He did not create out of need, but rather out of His desire to share; He is a giver, lover, friend. He does feel anger, but He doesn’t process it like we do. When one begins to understand just how “other” God is, the perspective through which we understand His actions can change.
For instance, when we see human beings get angry, we see all sorts of resulting behaviors that are unhealthy and unhelpful. This is because human anger drives us toward self-pity; our desires were blocked, so we feel angry and then behave in ways that hurt others to try and regain our power and achieve our agenda. And most of our anger is unjustified, meaning it isn’t based on moral law or the greater good of humanity. It’s more like a 2-year-old throwing a tantrum because someone took their toy away.
When God feels angry, His perspective is perfect, just, and always with mankind’s best in mind. He is a good Father, but even more than that — He is the definition of Life. When God made Adam, He breathed into his nostrils and the man became a living being. Apart from God, we cannot exist. Since He is the central element to life, He is the absolute authority on its best function. When human beings look to anything or anyone else for life, this is offensive to God. But God’s anger isn’t like someone pouting because they didn’t get picked for the team. His anger is righteous, justified. But His actions when angry might surprise you; they are borne of love, leading us to fullness of life.
We tend to think of all anger as leading to punishment. For instance, if you’re angry you have a right to hurt someone. Anger justifies malicious behavior. Now, a lot of us would quickly deny this out of our desire to not be perceived as cruel. But it’s still true. Human anger seeks to destroy. But God’s anger isn’t destructive, it is corrective, like a father training his son to live rightly. And God’s anger isn’t seething, ever present under a guise of good will and kindness. He feels it, He deals with it, and He reminds us of His love. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
You might be thinking, “But your title of this article says God isn’t mad at me. How is He not mad at me if He is capable of all this anger?” God’s attributes are not weighed on a scale. He is fully 100% of all His attributes at all times. So, His justice isn’t greater or lesser than His love or mercy or grace. His omnipresence isn’t greater or lesser than His omnipotence. So when He feels angry, it doesn’t overpower any of His other attributes. This is why His expressions of anger are not destructive, rather they are corrective. His entire motivation for ALL His interactions with humanity is LOVE! (John 3:16)
My understanding of this concept of God’s love overshadowing all His decisions really grew when I had children. Certainly, no human analogy could ever fully encompass the infinite expanse of God’s love for us, but parenthood does give a dim shadow of this phenomenon. I love my children. I want the best for them. I would give my life to protect them and provide for them. Love is the guiding principle of my decision-making when it comes to training up my children, even when it is necessary to discipline them for disobedience. The discipline isn’t for the sake of punishing them or withdrawing my love. Quite the opposite. It is because I love them that I correct them in their error or rebellion.
God loves you — more than you could comprehend. No matter how far you have wandered away from Him, or how vehemently you have denied Him, He has never wavered in His love for you. He is faithful, both to remind you of His affection for you and to correct you when you stray. But He never wags His finger at you in shame or with malicious intent. His goal is that you experience the fullness of life, to know Him (the Author of life) intimately. He is the perfect Dad, always desiring closeness with His children and the best He has to offer. Maybe it is time you stopped hiding from the false angry god of your own making, and instead crawl up into the lap of your heavenly Father whose caring eye is ever on you. If you do, you might just discover that perfect Love casts out fear, and that the real God is better than you ever imagined…
by Jonathan Daugherty
At our 3-day intensive workshops for men I make a guarantee to all the guys in attendance. I loudly and slowly proclaim,
"You will fall on this recovery journey. Not, you 'might' fall, or it's in the realm of possibility a fall could happen. No, you WILL fall."
Thankfully, that isn't my closing word of encouragement to the guys at the workshop. But I want the point to be clear: no one recovers from secret sexual sin without stumbling. No one.
What, then, is a person to do when they fall? If it is inevitable, what is even the point of trying? Why would anybody sign up for more failure? It seems like "recovery" is pointless if it involves failing.
It may seem that way, until you examine more closely the process of true change and growth (i.e. maturity).
How many of us have achieved success (at anything) without failure? Anyone? Anyone? I didn't think so. Personal growth, especially spiritual growth, is never achieved apart from falling down. If you learned to walk as a child, you did so after falling down over and over and over again. If you made the team in school, you did so after missing thousands of shots or "getting it wrong" innumerable times. Whether it be art, science, business, or politics, success is only achieved on the tail end of lots of failure. But the difference is in what those who succeeded did in response to each failure: they learned from it.
I don't remember learning to walk, but I know that I've never been a big fan of physical pain. So, I'm pretty certain that every time I fell down in my attempts to walk and scuffed a knee or bumped my head on any immovable object, the resulting pain became a lesson for the next time I would be brave enough to give walking another try. Bump after bump, and bruise after bruise, I discovered balance and motor skills. In essence, each failure provided an opportunity to learn something new about what I was actually trying to achieve: walking! (And, today, even as an "expert" walker, I haven't walked perfectly my whole life; I still stumble at times, especially after reclining for hours in front of a football game.)
What is the goal of sex addiction recovery? Is it never falling? If so, everyone who has ever attempted recovery has failed. Repeatedly.
What if the goal of recovery was growth in community; living an unhidden life in open, transparent relationships with those we love? If that's what "running" looks like for a sex addict, at what stage do they start this journey? Marathon champion? Hardly! They're infants, immature in both the process and the understanding of living a life of purity and integrity. Would you expect a baby to run a marathon without first learning to walk? Why, then, do we expect a sexually addicted person to develop healthy, loving, transparent relationships without first learning to "walk?"
The grace of God affords us everything we need for this difficult recovery journey. By grace, we are invited to come out of the dark and into the Light. By grace, we are free to be honest about our struggles; even our failures. By grace, our progress is not measured by our falling, but rather by choosing to get up and keep trying. By grace, every bump and bruise of failure is turned into an opportunity to learn and grow and mature. By grace, we can walk and not faint, we can run and not grow weary. (Isa. 40:28-31)
But not without stumbling along the way.
Will you embrace grace? For yourself as well as those you pass judgment on for falling? May the grace of God give you a new compassion for the many spiritual infants stumbling and falling all around (even yourself). May you see the hand of Jesus reaching out, and His gaze of encouragement and joy cast upon those who have stumbled, saying, "It's okay. Everybody falls. Let me pick you up so you can try again..."
by Jonathan Daugherty
Humility is essential to mature in wisdom and compassion. Pride ever blocks us from becoming agents of grace to lost and broken friends and neighbors.
I watched a movie lately that struck a cord deep inside me, one that hadn't been moved in quite some time. This movie dealt with issues of racism, death, selfishness, hate, and even grace. I didn't expect the core of my being to be rattled by a mere movie. After all, aren't movies simply for entertainment? Apparently not all movies. At least not The Grace Card.
The story follows the lives of two cops, Mac, who is a white racist, still bitter over the tragic death of his son 17 years earlier, and Sam, a black part-time preacher hoping to soon hang up the badge for his "true" calling, full-time ministry in the pulpit. They unexpectedly get thrust together as partners while Sam awaits a transfer due to a promotion on the force. Neither are thrilled with the arrangement. But both are right where God wants them, the place where grace most often thrives: suffering.
Mac's racism challenges everything Sam preaches about on Sunday but struggles to live out the rest of the week. How can God expect Sam to love someone who is so deliberately unlovable? As the story unfolds, there are multiple opportunities for Sam to extend grace and for Mac to receive it. But just as is true in real life, not all those opportunities end well. In fact, at one point they both just throw up their hands in frustration, neither wanting to give or receive anything good in the partnership. Often the effects of grace are not immediate.
Without spoiling the movie, I will say that grace ultimately wins in a profound way, a way that struck that cord deep in my soul. It wasn't so much that grace "won" as it was in how that victory came about, as if the avenue of grace was even more important than it's ultimate effect. Grace won because it was given away.
I cannot count the number of ways in which God's grace has blessed my life. I've tried. But His grace is simply too vast, too rich, too perpetual. Wave upon wave wash over my life and I am literally consumed by the beauty and kindness of God's grace. But, unfortunately, I probably could count the number of ways I have given grace. It's difficult and unnatural to love the unlovable or be kind to hateful souls. But loving the lovable isn't grace, it's just natural and expected (and easy). God wants to draw us out of the shadows of what is comfortable and natural, to be His agents of grace to people unlike us, who don't care for us, who might even hate us. Those are the souls He wants us partnered with, divine appointments of suffering that demand grace be given.
I needed that cord in my soul struck. It had been too long since it vibrated, reminding me that a quest for comfort is not the way of grace. Jesus never alienated himself from suffering, from humanity, from the broken or angry or bitter. He knew better than any of us that grace is meant to live in such connections, to be given most freely to the most undeserving, even those who spit in our face and utterly reject such kindness. I pray my soul never stops resonating with this simple truth: it's better to give grace than to receive it.
I promise to pray for you every day, ask your forgiveness, grant you the same,
& be your friend always.