To repent is to express sorrow over sin that leads to a change of mind and heart.
But why is repentance so essential to living a life of integrity? Can't we just "do the right thing" without having to express sorrow over our sin?
The Backstory on Repentance
God's Word tells us plainly that human beings are made in His image. This makes humans distinct from everything else in creation. We bear a "resemblance" to God that is unique in the world; we were made to reflect His holiness throughout all of creation.
God's instruction to the first humans was simple: freely enjoy everything I have created, but don't cross this one line. We know how the story went. They crossed the line, and so have we ever since.
This disobedience to God is called sin, and it divides us from God and each other. It distorts God's image into something that doesn't look like Him or act like Him. Whereas God brought life, sin brought death.
The good news, though, is that God loved us. He didn't want us forever separated from Him. So, He enacted a redemptive plan to reconcile us to Himself. And this plan only required one thing of us: faith.
Where Faith Comes In
Faith has always been the central requirement for an intimate relationship with God. It was true in the Garden of Eden before humans sinned. And it's true now after we sinned.
But faith, although it is simple, is not that easy. There are all kinds of things that want to keep us from exercising faith: pride, fear, anger, lust, materialism, and so much more.
For faith to be "activated" we must repent of our sin. In other words, faith that truly makes a difference in our lives is not merely a mental assent that God exists; it is an active dependence on the Creator who made us and redeemed us through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This active dependence on God is where repentance comes in, and this must involve a true brokenness over sin.
King David in Psalm 51 said this after he was confronted with his sin of adultery, "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you [God], you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge." (v. 3-4)
And the apostle Paul in the New Testament reminded the church in Corinth of the good fruit that comes from godly sorrow:
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Cor. 7:10)
Repentance is borne of a deep sorrow over sin. This is what prepares our hearts and minds for the humble dependence that leads us to faithful obedience and a life of greater integrity.
Let's look now at how repentance is essential to a life of integrity.
3 Ways Repentance Is Essential to Integrity
1. Repentance reminds us of our need for help
When we look honestly at our sin, it at least has to reveal that we aren't perfect. In order to have integrity (the "state of being whole") we must recognize how far short of God's standard we fall, and be ready to seek help.
If we never ask for help on our journey of life and faith, it is highly probable that we are not engaging in the discipline of repentance, and thus not living with integrity. Daily repentance will reveal our broken hearts and the areas in which we need the most help.
2. Repentance acknowledges God as our source of holiness
When we repent of our sin, we are saying to ourselves and to God, "I blew it! I missed the mark of holiness you expect. Apart from you I cannot live the life you require of me. You are my only hope."
We are not capable of living the life God requires of us -- because of our sin! But when we repent we are reminded of the great love and grace and mercy that God has given to us through Jesus.
Jesus did live a holy life. THE holy Life! And, by faith, he freely offers His life to us. Celebrate this amazing truth!
3. Repentance trains us to worship God, not ourselves
The root of all sin is pride, the belief that we can thrive independent from God. In essence, sin is self-worship.
When we repent we are starkly reminded that God alone is holy and we are not. He alone is worthy of worship, we are not. The very first of the 10 Commandments sums this up: "You shall have no other gods before me." (Ex. 20:3)
There is a rich and rewarding humility that emerges from repentance. And from this foundation the desire to actively depend on our Creator grows. Over time, this produces a life that looks more and more like the Image it was meant to reflect.
Repentance is essential to a live of integrity. Let's commit together to daily express sorrow over our sin that leads to a change of mind and heart.
Written by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder of Be Broken Ministries
Life is stressful. Can I get an 'Amen'?
Stress (or anxiety) can come from lots of places: medical issues, broken relationships, work problems, trauma, mental health disorders, addictions, drugs, alcohol, heredity, and many others. Just about anything can be a trigger for stress.
Stress, for the purposes of this article, can simply be defined as worry -- to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts.
So, how are you handling your stress?
Let me suggest that the following exercises might help you manage your stress in healthier ways:
1. Read and Pray Every Day
While there certainly can be physical reasons for anxiety, one thing seems to always be present when we are stressed: obsessive thoughts about our fears.
What you think about matters to how you feel. And what you think about is affected by what you focus on. So, what are you focused on?
A simple way to refocus your mind away from your fears and anxieties is to read and pray every day. Read a passage of Scripture that reminds you of your inherent value or of your identity in Christ.
Pray throughout the day. Share your struggles and fears with God. Be honest and open about the difficulty you are having; even expressing any doubts you are having about God and goodness and life.
Also, it is important to read other good material on understanding your emotions and how to respond to them in healthy ways.
Read and pray every day. It makes a difference for handling stress well.
Stress creates a sense of panic. And when we panic everything speeds up -- thoughts, heart rate, and even breathing.
So, a very practical exercise to help deal with stress in a healthy way is to focus on your breathing. And keep it simple: breathe in and breathe out.
According to Medical News Today, something called the 4-7-8 breathing technique can help reduce tension and stress. (I'm not advocating for yoga; this is only a simple way to breathe that has positive effects on your body.)
Simply breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and then exhale for 8 seconds. Start easy by doing this for 3-7 minutes, then work your way up to 15-20 minutes a day. I suggest lying down or sitting down when you start, just in case you get light-headed.
To enhance this breathing exercise, meditate on Scripture or pray the Lord's Prayer. Breathe in God's grace and truth, and breathe out any lies of shame and all the things you can't control. Focus your mind on God's truth and grace.
Breathing is essential to life. Learn to breathe deeply and focus on what is true. This will help you handle your stress far better.
3. Name Your Fears
Stress seems most powerful when it attaches our fear to the unknown. And the unknown is whatever is unnamed.
Have you ever noticed that the stuff that scares us most is usually the stuff we know very little about. Take something extremely difficult, like cancer, for instance.
When someone has cancer but doesn't know it, their fears about feeling sick can go in a million different directions. But once the cancer is named, those particular fears are not as strong -- even though the thought of fighting cancer is very daunting.
Once the diagnosis is made, new fears emerge, right? But why? Because now there are yet more unnamed realities that must be faced.
Naming your fears is healthy self-talk. The Psalmist says, "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?" (42:5) And follows this up later with a specific question, "Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?"
Finally, after naming the specific fear (oppression of the enemy), the Psalmist fights it with pointing his will toward truth: "Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God."
The more you can name your fears and combat them with truth, the more you can limit their power over you -- and the more your stress will decrease.
4. Connect with Healthy People
It is not easy to deal with stress, or name your fears, alone. You need to connect with healthy people who love you and can listen thoughtfully to your full story of stress and anxiety.
Healthy people are those who understand the difficulties of life, and have likely traveled through some valleys themselves, but know how to direct you to wisdom with love and compassion.
The more you try to handle your stress alone, the more you are likely to drown in it. Healthy people lift your head above water so you can see from a different vantage point, and breathe the air of hope and truth.
I'm sure you're asking, "Where do I find these healthy people?"
Start right where you live. Plug into a local church where you can connect with Christians who can love and support you.
Seek out professional counseling to deal with any underlying roots to your stress, whether they be psychological or physical.
Connect with others in a confidential support group.
5. Embrace Your Limitations
There is no "cure" for the difficulties of life. Sure, there are things you can do that help with responding to such difficulties in healthy ways, but be careful of "magical" thinking that says you just need to get the formula right and all your troubles will disappear.
You and I have limitations. And each of us is different. I'm amazed at how "easily" some people seem to handle stress. It's like nothing bothers them. But I'm not them. And neither are you.
Admitting you are weak is not weak. It's actually quite powerful. The Apostle Paul said as much:
"But he [Jesus] said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (1 Cor. 12:9-10)
Stress isn't fun. It seems to "torment" with relentless persistence. But you can respond with confidence; not in yourself, but in the grace of God.
Preach this message of truth and hope to yourself every day: though I am weak, my God is strong. I will trust in His power, not my own. I rest in Him.
May you grow in grace as you learn to handle stress in healthier ways.
Written by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder of Be Broken Ministries
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Addiction destroys life. Over time, with each acting out experience, a little more life is drained from the addict. Eventually, all that remains is a walking dead person.
Easter is the celebration of Jesus' resurrection from the dead. He conquered sin on the cross and then crushed death by His resurrection. Many addicts are Christians, they believe Jesus Christ is their only hope of salvation. So, how come many are not experiencing freedom and victory from their addiction?
The story of the resurrection of Lazarus might give us some insight into why many Christians are not experiencing freedom from addiction, and how they can.
The full story is found in John 11 in the bible. Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus. His sisters, Martha and Mary, were too. Lazarus gets sick and his sisters ask Jesus to come heal him. Jesus doesn't come immediately, and Lazarus dies. Not exactly what the sisters expected from Jesus. And that's the first thing we need to understand about recovery: God's path to freedom and new life won't be what we initially expect.
Most addicts who enter recovery expect the process to be quick, easy, and not terribly uncomfortable. But such expectations are just the underlying lies of addiction. ("If you smoke this, drink this, or look at that, all your dreams will come true.") God has a far better way for addicts, but many never realize it because they can't get over the initial challenge of recovery not being what they expected or hoped for.
Jesus eventually arrives on the scene after Lazarus has been buried. Martha and Mary express their grief and disappointment to Jesus. He responds to both with truth and grace. To Martha he gives a theology lesson (v. 20-27). To Mary he offers his tears (v. 32-36). This is the next thing we need to understand about God's path to recovery: Jesus responds to our pain personally.
No two addicts are identical in their stories or suffering. Each one has unique pain. Some addicts are hardened cynics. To these God may bring a hard truth to break their pride. Other addicts are crushed victims. To these God offers tears of understanding to lead them home. God knows that we need and when we need it on our journey of recovery.
Now the moment comes when Jesus is brought to the tomb where Lazarus was buried. This is the scene that will take our breath away -- literally!
"Jesus said, 'Take away the stone.'" (v. 39a)
You cannot walk out of the grave of addiction until the "stone" locking you in is removed. And you need a community willing to move it.
Dead people can't move stones. Yet, so often addicts are preached at to "get up" or "stop it" or "just make better choices." If Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead without moving the stone, Lazarus would have been "alive" but living in a locked tomb. The stone had to be rolled away for him to come out of the grave. The "stone(s)" in the addict's life must be rolled away before they can come out of their addiction.
Some common "stones" that keep addicts imprisoned are:
And many more. Each of these stones require the help of others to remove. The addict drowning in shame cannot remove that stone by sheer willpower or "positive thinking." Other people need to speak truth and hope and grace in order to remove that stone.
But even after the stone is removed, Lazarus is still a dead man. And he stinks.
"Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him [Jesus], 'Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.'" (v. 39b)
Addiction stinks. The people who come around the addict to help remove the stone need to know this: What lies on the other side of grave stones is a stinky dead person. And depending on how long the addict has been dying in their addiction, the stench can be quite putrid. But it's good to smell the stink. Here's why.
Many addicts, especially those addicted to "non-substances" like porn and lust, are great at hiding their addiction. Their grave stone is securely in place and therefore the "stink" of addiction isn't easily recognized by others. This means friends and family may not know that their loved one is dying, or already dead.
When the grave stone is moved and the horrible smell of death hits you in the face, it is a powerful moment. Don't rush past it. Yes, it hurts when the stinky truth about a loved one knocks you over. But you can learn from it. Breathe it in so you can become familiar with the stench, so that when you pick up that scent in others, you know what to do to help them break free from their grave of addiction.
Finally, the moment has come for Jesus to do the miraculous; to raise Lazarus from the dead.
So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. (v. 41-44)
When Jesus, the author of Life, speaks, death must flee. Death could not hold Lazarus when Jesus called him out of the grave. And addiction cannot hold the addict when Jesus calls them out. But an addict might ask, "Why, then, don't I feel free?" Easy, you're still wrapped up in your death clothes.
There are a lot of "walking dead" in recovery groups. They are "alive" in the sense that God has given them new life, but they are still bound by their former, familiar grave clothes. This, again, is why we need a strong, loving community around us to help take off the death garments.
Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (v. 44b)
Jesus alone can call a dead man (or woman) back to life. Jesus alone can break the deadly power of addiction. But Jesus expects the community around the addict to "unbind him, and let him go." Addicts need the power of community to loose them from the familiar, stinky clothes of their old ways.
Are you struggling in your recovery? Do you still feel "dead" on your journey? What is God trying to show you from the resurrection of Lazarus that needs to be applied in your life?
Remember these words of Jesus, "...everyone who believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" Do you?
May you, by the power of the resurrected Jesus Christ, and the presence of a loving community, walk today in freedom and victory over addiction.
For help finding a group in your area, visit Groups.Bebroken.com.
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
I MISS prison?!
If you know me personally, you already know I have recently transferred from one Federal Prison to another. As I sit here at my new temporary residence I find it odd that I miss the old one. Don't get me wrong, many of the things I miss are good, godly things: friends, church services, activities.
I think what I miss most is familiarity. I am having to learn a new schedule, a new way of doing everyday things. There are new officers, new inmates; all new faces. There are new programs, new classes, and new activities. None of these are good or bad, in and of themselves, they are just new.
I am having to find new ways of doing things, because I am separated from that old place.
When we finally separate from sin, or a particular sin, we must have new ways of doing everyday things. Going to work, using our computers, meeting people for business lunches. These things, too, are not good or bad. Some of these things are just necessary things in order to function.
For those of us struggling with sexual brokenness, new ways must be found for functioning in our everyday world. Heading to work will require us to use an alternate route that does not take us by that sex shop, strip club, or suggestive billboard. Our home or office computers will have to be moved to common areas and kept from private use. Or perhaps our computers will need to be password-protected and accountability be had with a family member or a trusted godly friend. Business lunches must be held in groups of three or more when the opposite sex is involved.
If we leave our old prison of sin we MUST be ready for new faces, new activities, and new ways of doing everyday things. Of course, it's not easy. Leaving behind sin never is. We must be ready and WILLING to make compromises and concessions. We must be ready and WILLING to make new acquaintances and associate with new people. We must be separated from that old place.
Yes, I miss that old prison, but I know I am in a better place. I know that this is the next phase as I prepare to re-enter society. When I finally do leave prison, will I miss it? Many inmates do, as is evident by recidivism rates. Brokenness and sin will be a prison for us if we lack the will to change.
I am broken, but I am separated from that old place.
Written by Dennis
Friend of the ministry
There is a mistake I see virtually every man make in recovery. It is the mistake of defending "rightness." Let me explain.
Every man who enters recovery has a history of deception; of others as well as himself. He has told so many lies it would be pointless to try and tally them up. When the truth of his secrets comes to light, the people closest to him recoil in shock and hurt. They feel the sting of betrayal that his lies brought. They wonder if they can ever again believe anything this man tells them.
As the man pursues recovery and begins to experience some healing and freedom, he realizes that the ones he hurt are not so quick to "get on board" with his new life. They remain skeptical, even defensive; even accusatory. And for the man in recovery this causes him to feel the ironic sting of hurt and befuddlement. Few, however, recognize the irony. Instead, they rail against the accusations with a fervor of "righteousness."
This is a bad idea.
To defend being right when your history has been mostly wrong is a fool's endeavor. Even if the man in recovery is totally "correct" in his defense of his new life and behaviors, such defense does nothing to aid in the restoration of the relationship. Sometimes it is much wiser to endure suffering for the sake of reconciliation than to demand rights that will only ensure further relational fissures.
When a man learns to lay down his rights at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ (the One who understands unjust suffering better than anyone!), there are no accusations that can upset him. Whether the barbs and accusations of loved ones are justified or not, the man learns to find his identity in the grace of Jesus, not in how "correct" he might be in his recovery. This is the humility that leads to repentance and a completely transformed life.
Are you a man struggling with false accusations in your recovery? Do you feel the need to defend yourself? Slow down and follow the example of Jesus. Even when He was perfectly justified to defend himself from his accusers, He chose instead to entrust himself to the will of the Father. While He suffered immensely for remaining silent, His reward was great -- and so was ours: Jesus reconciled us to God!
If you want restoration in your fractured relationships, humble yourself before the Father like Jesus did. You may still have to suffer immensely, but your reward will be great. You will gain wisdom and the blessing of God, which is far greater than simply carrying "rights" -- all by yourself.
Written by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder of Be Broken Ministries
by Gerard Terry
Last night we had a fantastic men's group. We focused on the teaching of Brennan Manning, particularly where he said that when struggling with an addiction, a good starting point is to understand that God loves us as we are, not as we should be. I agree and know the strength one can draw from the confidence that the God of the universe is for you. This offers us security. The question which arises involves next steps. Where do we go from here? And, what is the goal of our Christian life once we know God loves us as we are?
The Basic Problem of Pornography
Pornography offers comfort for hurting men and women. Rather than take a pill or grab a bottle, we turn to its comfort as our go-to remedy to dull the pain of life. Since pain is everywhere, after a while our porn use becomes a habit. Although this habit does not tear us from the love of God, it has consequences. It distances us from hearing God's voice which offers comfort in difficult times. Porn hurts our wives, suggesting that quick sex is all women are good for. Porn robs us of time with others and kills our ministry to them. God's plan is that we be in a powerful relationship with Him through His Holy Spirit, truly love our wives, have meaningful fellowship and use our time here on earth to influence others toward Him. When done right, this is sufficient to overcome life's difficulties.
I believe there are two main reasons we turn to pornography, instead of God, when life happens:
1. We Don't Believe or Trust That God is Sufficient
I admit this is true for me. I don't have confidence that God will rescue me the way pornography does. Pornography is quick, easy, and reliable. It is available on demand. I don't need to wait on God's timing, which can be slow. I live in America and I want my pain relief NOW. Of course, God's faithfulness to me is proven over time. He always comes through. And, waiting on God allows Him to grow and change me during these waiting periods. He also teaches me to trust in Him for small and big things in the wait.
Pornography teaches me nothing and offers no growth. It stunts my development and leaves me as a child. Imagine the 6-year-old who got instant relief to life's problems with a simple fix - like a candy bar. He would stay a child, unable to cope and handle bigger challenges. God's plan is to grow us up so he can use us in bigger and better things as He equips us. Look back over time and see if you don't agree that He has rescued and strengthened you repeatedly. Consider how He has provided timely for your needs.
If you are not convinced, ask for the testimonies of others in your life. Seek out examples from other believers in history. Study the Bible daily - it is packed with examples. God has demonstrated that He is worthy of our trust and that he is sufficient for all we'll encounter. We need to be disciplined to wait on our Father’s timing for relief. Don't demand instant relief.
2. We Don't Know How to Enter Into the Designed Relationship
God desires depth in a relationship with us, not just a quick prayer shot up in desperation. That depth comes over time from three primary sources:
A. Reading the Word of God
The Word of God has long been the primary way He speaks to us. We simply can't draw close to God without reading His Word. The Bible covers all areas of life, including sexuality. God invented sex, still thinks it is a good idea, and speaks in His Word of how sex apart from His plan can hurt us and others. In a tight schedule, you can listen to the Bible every day while you drive to work as it is read on a podcast over your phone. Try the Daily Audio Bible. I download several at a time and always have a few ready to go on my phone.
B. Prayer with God - a Two Way Street
Prayer involves quiet meditation before God, listening to his spirit, and talking with Him. It is not designed as a time to present our shopping list to our loving Father. Yes, He wants to hear petitions for us and others, but that should not be the extent of your prayers. If you are too busy for 15 - 30 minutes of quiet prayer, you are too busy for a relationship with God. I frequently recall the saying, “if the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”
C. Fellowship with Others
Fellowship is fun. Never miss a Sunday after finding a church where you enjoy the worship, teaching and opportunities for friendships. Join a small group which meets midweek. Next, check out the thousands of webcasts where you can hear teaching from top notch preachers. Podcasts are a great way to download daily content in this area as well. Christian books are available on any subject and will provide tools from those who have been there before. Christian radio is a favorite place of mine to listen to teaching and hear encouraging music. Find friends from church or a men's support group and you will have a valuable resource when you encounter temptation. Choose carefully who you hang out with, since “birds of a feather flock together.” I tell my kids to think about who they spend time with, since they will become like those people.
Lack of Sin is not the Measuring Stick
As I mentioned above, lack of sin is not the immediate goal. Getting to know God and developing a heart after Him is our first step in beating the porn problem. He wants a relationship with you. We cannot experience victory over life's challenges, like porn, without the filling of God's Holy Spirit and closeness to Him. He provides the direction, tools and strength to victory as we cling to Him and His plan for our lives. He is worthy of our trust. As you walk closely with Him, you will notice the grip of sin slowly loosening. It will lose its appeal in comparison to the joy found in God's company. Life at its fullest is available for free to those who lean on Him.
God's focus has always been on the heart. Throughout the Bible, stories are told of men involved in sin, who have turned to God with their whole heart. Imagine David, the murderer and adulterer, as described by God to David's son Solomon, "if you walk before me faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did. . .." How did David do it? He invited God into all he did. God wants us to do that too. He invites us to "love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live." Deuteronomy 30:6. He wants us to, "turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." Deuteronomy 30:10. You can best steer your heart toward our Father by filling your time with thoughts of Him.
Seek first a relationship with God. Pursue him. Get to know him as your closest friend. Fall in love with Him with all your heart. Your sinful lifestyle will pale in comparison to fellowship with the God of the universe.
by Jonathan Daugherty
Life is hard. Sin is real. Death is inevitable for us all. And for those in bondage to sexual strongholds, it is easy to feel alone, hopeless, and unworthy of anything good. It is often in such a state that the weary soul of an addict glances toward heaven and cries out the question so many in this world ask, "Is God really good?"
Because of the universal struggle that life is, it is common for us to try and define God through our cloudy lens of circumstance. When illness strikes, or resistance to the same temptation collapses for the 1000th time, we often make assumptions about God based on our brokenness and pain. But to do so is to miss two very important factors our heavy soul actually needs to deal with such pain: truth and hope.
Jesus said that God is good (Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19). Either Jesus was lying or he wasn't. If he was telling the truth, then God truly is good -- all the time. Our circumstance, no matter how painful or difficult, cannot affect God's goodness. But how does this truth help us in our pain and struggle with the very real challenges of life?
The truth of God's unwavering goodness brings hope to our daily struggle. Because God is good, he is trustworthy to do what is good, even if we can't always perceive it. And because he loves us (John 3:16), the good he does is for our benefit (Rom. 8:28), not our harm. This idea is best understood from the perspective of a loving parent.
My son recently came down with pneumonia. It really knocked him out. I love my son, and to see him in such physical agony ripped my heart out. In order to help him heal, we had to give him medicine that quite frankly made his whole face contort because it tasted so disgusting. He dreaded each application of the medicine, even asking to skip doses. As a loving father, would I stop his treatment because he didn't like the taste of the medicine? No! The medicine was the very thing helping him to heal.
God is our loving heavenly Father; a better dad than any human! He longs for our healing, and he knows the best "medicine" we each need. I'm not suggesting that every painful circumstance in life is God "giving us medicine," but I am suggesting that because God is good he has the best vantage point for knowing what we need at any moment of our lives, in any circumstance. And his goodness is worth celebrating, despite our hard circumstances.
Psalm 34:1 - I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
The practice of praising God "at all times" is the practice of a heart that knows God is good in spite of life's difficulties. And such a heart discovers another great truth about God: he is close to us in our suffering.
Psalm 34:18 - The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Life is hard. God is good.
Sin is real. God is near.
Death is inevitable. God is life.
May you find rest for your soul in the truth of God's goodness and love. While he may not remove you from your difficult circumstance, he will be with you through every moment of it -- like a good father caring for his sick child. Trust in the good hand of your loving Father...
It is with some difficulty I begin this posting. Over two years ago Be Broken invited me to contribute to this blog and I did so enthusiastically! For those who may not remember or may not have read the posting it was not much more than an introduction and an explanation of where my sexual brokenness had brought me -- namely, to a Federal Prison.
I was excited! I was finally being called to serve in the very area that was my downfall. Be Broken had been a major factor, or rather, the major tool used by the Lord to minister to me and to get me to recognize and embrace my brokenness. Of course I was excited! I finished that first article and quickly began working on my second...
Life inside these walls can be quite similar to life outside. We, the incarcerated, are faced with daily struggles and problems. And just like you, the "free world," we have to decide to turn to God or to ourselves in these times. This fact is probably no surprise to anybody, incarcerated or not. Perhaps what the incarcerated do know better than those not incarcerated is the way life in prison can drain a person of hope.
Hope. Two years ago hope was going to be the subject of my next posting, my second posting. I contemplated hope. I prayed for understanding of hope. I formulated words to express my understanding. As I sat down to put my words on paper a dark cloud settled over me. I began to understand that I was not convinced that I believed all I was saying about hope.
To clarify, I believed it all, but even as I wrote the words I knew I was not living as if I did. I did not have hope in and for my future. I did not place all my hope in the Lord. In referring to the words of St. Augustine, I was not living as if I already received that which I hoped for.
I was spiritually smashed by the revelation. I had my pen in hand when this realization came to me. I literally put down my pen (and article) for the last two years.
Prison seems to do that to a person -- in my experience, at least, and many of those around me. You may not have steel bars, concrete walls, or razor wire imprisoning you, but what holds you prisoner? Is it the desires of your flesh; selfishness that allows you to discount the feelings of your spouse or family; your sexual brokenness?
We are all held prisoner, it seems, by something. These bars and razor wire are not the things that make me a prisoner, but my sin. The dark one holds the other end of a noose placed around our necks. What outcome could one possibly hope for when tethered to the noose-end of that rope? Struggle as I might I cannot remove this noose myself. Only One can free me: Jesus.
But will He do it if I continue to run the other direction holding on to my noose as if it were a comfy scarf protecting me from the cold? And is this not the real issue with sin? We hold on to it because we think it comforts us, make us feel good in our flesh, or worst of all, feels like home because of its familiarity.
It is my sincere prayer that one day you and I can enthusiastically say with Paul, "I (insert your name here), a prisoner for Christ..." Perhaps one day my thoughts on hope will be fully realized in my heart and mind and my thoughts-set-to-paper will see the light of day. Until that day I at least know that I cannot hope for anything I am not willing to make sacrifices for, nor can I put my hope in myself but in the Lord.
Be broken, but be hopeful.
by Brian Waltmann
When I was 8 years old, my dad died of cancer, leaving a gaping hole in my heart... and in my life experience. I didn’t have a father-figure to model manhood for me, so I faltered and floundered throughout adolescence.
But God had a plan for me. When I was 20 years old, a man by the name of Charlie helped me begin a relationship with Christ and began mentoring me in my spiritual life. He taught me how to study the Bible, how to memorize scripture, how to have a quiet time, and how to pray conversationally with my Heavenly Father. In short, he taught me how to grow in my relationship with God.
Not only that, Charlie also helped me grow in character. He challenged me in my relationships with the opposite sex. He helped me grow relationally. He taught me the importance of Christian fellowship. But most of all, Charlie modeled the Christian life for me and gave me a living example of what it means to follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
So, how did Charlie help me grow in all these areas? First of all, he spent time with me. He was present in my life. We ate lunch together. We lifted weights together. We went camping and canoeing together. We went to church events together. We served together. We studied the Bible together. We prayed together. And when we were separated by distance (when I went back to school), he called me every week to see how I was doing -- and to quiz me on my scripture memory verses!
By mentoring me, Charlie became a father-figure in my life and filled many of the gaps that were left by the loss of my dad. And by God’s gracious plan, I have also had many other mentors in my life after Charlie, who had an equal impact on my growth and development. The man I am today has been largely influenced by the mentors that God has put in my life, and I am tremendously grateful!
After I had been “walking with God” for a few years, I began to mentor others, as Charlie had done with me. And by God’s grace, I have been mentoring others ever since. And it is a BLESSING! The men I have invested in are dear to me. They are my “glory and joy”! (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)
Sadly, I think that my story is quite rare. Many Christians--dare I say most Christians--have never been mentored in their faith, nor have they had the opportunity to mentor someone else.
And in the recovery realm, very few men have received personal help in their recovery from sexual struggles and strongholds.
If you would like help finding mentors or accountability partners, please search our Groups Network or check out some of the coaching links on our Counselors Page.
Whatever you do, don't try to grow alone. You and I need each other in our journey of personal growth. Step out in courage and connect with others. And if you stumble, get back up. Fail forward.