Air Jordans, Porn, and your Soul

walking-shoesMowing my yard is a bit of an escape. If you ask my neighbors they would probably say I should “escape” more often. But mowing does provide a weird sort of solitude for me. It’s likely related to how the mower manages to drown out the noise of life for a little while. Couple that with the physicality of doing yard work and it’s a beautiful distraction.

It is during these times of solitude and inner stillness that important thoughts, themes, or metaphors come to mind. So just a few weeks ago I was mowing my yard and had to maneuver around some unpleasant droppings my dog had just made. Truth is, it had been some time since the last thorough pick up of droppings so I had to dodge quite a few bombs. Which is precisely the reason I wear an old pair of sneakers when I mow. I’ve worn them so much for mowing that they have very attractive green stains across the toes.
Then the thought occurred to me. What if I mowed the grass in a nice pair of expensive basketball shoes? What if I wore a new pair of $225 Jordan XX9’s or some other expensive shoe named after an NBA celebrity?  Not only that, but what if I wore them without any care or concern for the dog droppings and just slogged through pile after pile of my pet’s unpleasant waste?
Wouldn’t make any sense, right? Why would you take such an expensive pair of sneakers and use them for yard work when they are meant for the basketball court? Why would anyone want to leave grass stains on such a stylish and hip brand? Our lives, our very souls are far more valuable than any famous pair of sneakers. Not only that God has in mind for us a far greater purpose. Yet, when it comes to porn it seems we have no problem at all not only walking through but wallowing in pile after pile of the crap. With little to know thought or care for the impact it has on our soul.
So here’s what I hope we’ll learn from this little parable inspired by my weekly yard work. It’s a truth we may need to confront. Continually viewing porn is like buying a pair of high-priced Air Jordans and walking in dog crap over and over. Remember, there’s always a smell, crap fills the sole (SOUL), and it (STICKS) so you can never really get rid of the (sorry, there’s just no other way to put it!) S#@%!
“you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” I Cor. 6:20

 

7 Signs You Should Stay (post porn discovery)

Stay or go?

Stay or go?

“Should I stay or should I go…?” Those are the words to a catchy 80’s song but it’s also the question many women (and some men) grapple with in the wake of learning of their significant others secret forays with porn. In fact I was recently asked this very question by a young adult who decided it would be better to end a relationship after finding out about her boyfriend’s problem. Reflecting on things, she realized she was dealing with a lingering sense of guilt and doubt and wondered if she should have given him a chance. Based on what she told me I assured her that she made a wise decision.

So how do you know if it’s time to call it quits and move on? Do you hang around long enough for him to “wake up” while you endure an endless cycle of  his white-knuckle resistance and inevitable relapses?

Here are 7 major signs that can help you know if you should stay or go:

#1 – He’s SORRY read 2 Cor. 7:10 (NLT) this sorrow is more than just an apology. It’s a depth of sorrow that indicates a true awareness of the impact of our sin. Addicts often live with the lie that their acting out only harms them. Real sorrow rejects that excuse and realizes the broader impact.

#2 – He’s REPENTANT read Matt. 3:8 (NLT) John the baptist skewers the religious leaders by implying that their religious vigor isn’t a real indicator that their lives have changed. Instead he says, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” If your guy’s change is the real deal you’ll see it not just in words but in action.

#3 – He’s BROKEN this involves a deep remorse, regret, and an utter disgust at one’s sin. This will be visible in his face, tone, and language he speaks with. It’s marked by a deep sense of how his sin is an offense to God. The best example is king David in 2 Sam. Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’”

#4 – He’s seeking RECONCILIATION 2 Cor. 2:5-10 (NIV) Porn has likely fractured other relationships so this means he’s intentionally pursuing the restoration of those relationships. Calling friends up and apologizing, and demonstrating authenticity and transparency are evidence he’s serious about this.

#5 – He’s CONSISTENT Luke 16:13 (ESV) if he’s on-again, off-again with intentional practices to get better then there’s a good chance he’s not serious. When he adjusts his schedule, prioritizes his group, counseling sessions, and dates with you then you know he’s a keeper!

#6 – He’s RESILIENT Phil. 3:14 (NIV) recovery will come with some relapses, missteps, and set-backs. But your guy shouldn’t stay down long. If he wants to be with you he’ll get back up and jump back into his recovery plan. No whining, excuses, or complaining just get back up!

#7 – He’s HUMBLE Phil. 2:3 (ESV) Humility is a powerful antidote. That’s why a guy will find himself in a place of deep brokenness (see #3). Humility literally means, “lowliness of mind”. If your guy is thinking less of himself and serving you and others more then plan on putting your trust in him once again.

I’m certain I haven’t covered every positive sign but theses are pretty major indicators. Pray for clarity, discernment and decide.

 

Walk in the Light – Be Ever Accountable (guest blog by Matt Cooper)

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

Hello everyone!

My name is Matt and I’m part of the team at Ever Accountable. We offer tools designed to help people live above pornography and walk in the light through accountability.

Today I’m very excited to share some thoughts with you on the importance of accountability when it comes to winning the fight against pornography. Many thanks to pastor Bernie Anderson for letting speak to you from his blog – so let’s get into it!

When it comes to pornography, there’s one simple fact to be aware of: it’s a deed done in darkness. And why is it done in darkness? Because that’s where it thrives. If we find ourselves cornered and alone, that’s when pornography tries to tighten its grip. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tells us that two are better than one and because they can help each other up; naturally, our enemy seeks to tempt us when we are by ourselves, can’t be seen, and are therefore at our weakest.

So that’s the bad news, but here’s the good news: the Bible has an answer for how to have victory!
Ephesians 5:11 advises us to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” In the original Hebrew language, the word reprove can be found to mean, “call to account” or “demand an explanation”. So, in other words – to be accountable for our actions! That, my friends, is a powerful key to success in the fight against pornography.

You see, accountability allows us to work together to overcome the temptation to view pornography. By sharing our deeds with a trusted friend, we are exposing them to the light and robbing pornography of its power over us. In this open relationship built upon a foundation of trust, we no longer enable the temptation of pornography to back us into a corner by ourselves. Without darkness and in an environment brightened by the light, pornography simply cannot survive.

The Bible counsels us to not go it alone and when it comes to taking advice, the Bible is one source I’ve learned not to question! So how do we incorporate accountability into our lives? First, we need to find at least one person we trust to who can serve as our accountability partner. This is the person we will open up to and look to for support. From there, we need to make sure that we leverage the tools available to us to make sure we are guarding the avenues to our soul – our eyes and ears.

One such tool is our Ever Accountable Android application for phones and tablets. Ever Accountable monitors internet browsing and application usage on mobile phones and tablets and sends clear weekly reports to the individual user’s accountability partners. We are also currently working to add an iOS version of our application along with supporting Windows PCs, those exciting developments are coming in the very near future.
In Romans 12:12, we read the following: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”

Friends, I encourage you to live above pornography and walk in the light through accountability. You won’t regret it!

All the best,
Matt
Ever Accountable
matt@everaccountable.com

5 Reasons The Summit is “No Shoes Required”

Global Leadership Summit

Global Leadership Summit

For two days every August Bill Hybels and the Willow Creek Association host The Global Leadership Summit. When most of us are tempted to squeeze in one final summer vacation escape the Summit is it’s own escape for leaders of every stripe albeit for a divine purpose. This year I’ll miss the Summit. Not because I’m taking a break or planned something over the Summit (it’s been on my calendar since the last Summit). I’ll be taking care of my wife (an excellent leader BTW) who (unexpectedly) is having surgery the day before the Summit.

But I have to write about the Summit hoping that someone who has never attended will read and be encouraged to go (there’s still time to register here). Besides it gives me a little sense that I’m actually connected in some way (“there in spirit”). I don’t fall into that category of Summit veteran, but I’ve attended five Summits and I’ve been the lead pastor of a church that hosted back-to-back Summits as a premier host site. I’ve also witnessed up-close the impact of the Summit on the lives of leaders, not to mention my own. So here’s my list of why the Summit IMO is always a gathering where God is present and shoes are optional:

#1 Holy Ground: When God met with Moses on Mount Horeb He commanded him to “take off” his sandals because the place where Moses stood had become Holy ground because of God’s divine presence. There’s no denying that The Summit is God’s annual visitation with those who have been divinely called to lead. It is a sacred, holy, set-apart space, and anyone who has ever attended knows that. I attended the Summit at the Willow campus several years ago and feverishly attempted to take notes from every presentation. I soon learned that there was a disruption to my soul in this. It felt as if I was trying to “get my money’s worth” in a way. As if I had to extract value in a tangible way in order to justify the expense. That thinking is flawed for sure. The Summit is divine encounter. Notes are important and you’ll take some for sure but reserve your pen and paper for those personally profound truths that rattle you to the core. Don’t attempt to get it all it’s the equivalent of trying to get a drink from a fire hydrant and you’ll only find yourself frustrated. Trust me there are the note takers and God bless them for it and for posting it for the rest of us to consume later! (smile)

#2 Transformational: In George Barna’s book Maximum Faith he lists “brokenness” as the pivot point for real and lasting transformation to occur. I completely agree and the Summit is a place where you will find yourself in pieces. Bill’s opening message usually “rocks your world” from there, who knows. Most memorable from recent Summits is “mama Maggie” who gave a riveting, awkward, and profound, message about sacrifice and serving. Draped in a white, seemingly angelic robe, she wept as she spoke in a trembling hushed tone. Then there’s Pranitha Timothy again, a soft spoken woman, but a bold voice as an abolitionist that is changing history on behalf of those enslaved around the world. She is Director of Aftercare for International Justice Mission who spoke on caring for the soul in the midst of extreme challenges. Wow. Just wow. I’ve seen business men, pastors, and other leaders return from the Summit determined to take whatever they lead, to a whole new level. Bill refers to it as Holy Discontent. It isn’t contention, pretentiousness, or arrogance it’s singly a divine determination to truly be an effective leader wherever we are. So be forewarned wherever you take in the Summit whether on Willow’s campus, or at one of the 300+ premier host sites God may reveal himself in such a way that will mess you up!

#3 Focused: Every leader knows there’s always more we can do. In fact at some point in our leadership we’ve fallen into the trap of believing that our never-ending activity, full slate of meetings, and being constantly in demand somehow equates to effective leadership. Then we realize we’ve become ineffective at pretty much everything due to our lack of focus. Not so with WCA and The Summit. It’s about leadership. Plain and simple. There’s a very clear focus to The Summit that I love. Bill usually says something along these lines, “For the church to reach it’s redemptive potential it must be well led.” I love that and I love the local church. The Summit is focused on helping leaders of all organizations get better at leading. There’s no other agenda.

#4 Energizes: I thought about using the word “inspiring” here. The Summit is inspiring for sure but in a Summit talk in 2012 Bill Hybels talked about how the most important leadership asset a leader has isn’t “TIME” but “ENERGY” and the ability to “ENERGIZE” other people. I said it in my Summit post last year and I’ll say it again. I struggle as a leader. Leadership does not come naturally for me! I often cringe at the thought of being a leader and someone who God is going to “use” to carry out His mission. In fact I’m certain I’ve delayed, if not been a barrier to progress at times due to my lack of leadership acumen. But I find hope in this notion of ENERGY as a leadership asset! By God’s grace I do have that. In fact we all do and who among us can’t find the 3-5 or even 6 things in our organizations that we lead that need our energy and get behind them. The Summit is a power-packed, high energy, energizing 2 days that will energize even the most squeamish of leaders.

#5 Awakens: Like you, as a leader I lay awake sometimes in the early morning hours with visions dancing around in my head. Visions of what I believe God wants me to do and what He wants me to become. But after breathing out a quick prayer and rolling out those visions often get sucked into the vortex of the daily grind. Don’t get me wrong, that isn’t to say that I just go about willy nilly with no sense of purpose, guided only by the tyranny of immediate tasks or mere whim! Okay, well, soooo maybe that happens some days! But I’d like to think there is some sense of vision that guides my life and ministry.

But when we’re in the trenches sometimes the original vision that inspired my devotion in the first place falls asleep somewhere in the soul. The Summit is everything I’ve said above but more than anything it is an AWAKENING (sometimes rude), a RESURRECTION if you will, of the vision that God placed in your heart and mind years ago! Think about it. If you had one event from the life of Jesus that you could go back in time to witness wouldn’t it be the empty tomb? Or maybe you would want to be there when Lazarus is awakened from his death slumber by Jesus? Both evidence the power of God to bring life out of death. This is a danger of The Summit too. You will come away different, re-animated, energized, alive, awake. People won’t know what to do with you! Oh, but wait, perhaps they will indeed “follow” you as their leader who is alive with renewed vision and hope.

If you can get to The Summit do it! Even if only for one of the days. It will be worth it. By the way feel free to go barefooted, it’s okay, it’s sacred, holy ground, and God commanded it.

Lead where you are.

How My Wife and Pinterest Called Me Out

urlWhen it comes to home improvement projects, fixing things around the house, or just hanging a frame on the wall I’m about as clueless as they come. Seriously. So when my wife comes to me with a “project” she’s found on Pinterest yesterday my anxiety level immediately went to DEFCON 1. She knows me so well too, saying, “I know you don’t like to do this type of stuff, and it makes you unhappy.” Yep. Pretty much, that is the case. It’s not that I don’t want to do it. It’s that I’m extremely insecure about the fact that I can actually do it and then have it turn out to be something even remotely close to what she’s dreaming. Truthfully I have some real “performance” issues when it comes to handyman skills! I don’t know if there’s a “blue pill” for that but if there is I’d order by the pounds.

After a bit of foot-shuffling I finally conceded and started watching film on the project (THANK YOU YOUTUBE). By the way that’s what us guys do who can’t tell the different between a drill bit and a cork screw, we consume youtube film attempting to gain any possible advantage. So after an hour or so of watching film and making a list of supplies I was off to the most anxiety producing place on the planet for people with my issue – HOME DEPOT.

So, now I was armed with a list and the project was actually beginning to take shape in my mind. VISION I’ve learned over the years is absolutely critical to the accomplishment of anything worthy of our time. But that’s a post for another day. Back to the HOME DEPOT trip. This was no time for wondering cluelessly around the vast aisles of products that have something to do with your house. I shook off my natural male tendency to avoid asking for help, honed in on a guy in an orange vest, and walked right up to him naming off the stuff I needed. Didn’t take long to collect everything, still I scanned and re-scanned my list to make certain I had everything. Funny thing is I’ve always wanted to push around one of those nifty lumber carts with actual lumber on it. Now I had my chance! It at least appeared as though I knew what the heck I was doing. To help with my role playing I even wore a large orange tape measurer on my pocket. Smile.

Back at home I started in on the project. I anticipated that something wouldn’t go right, as is typical for me in these situations. But amazingly things went pretty well. There were bumps along the way and the second half of the project didn’t go nearly as well as the first half. Still, though, it wasn’t quite as painful as I anticipated and I BUILT IT! All that is left is sanding, painting, and hanging. What is priceless is the enormous sense of ACCOMPLISHMENT and the BEAUTIFUL smile this “easy project” (to quote her) put on my wife’s face.

Here’s the message, I really owe my wife and Pinterest a lot of props for calling me out. You see, I’m the pastor who is constantly challenging the church, pushing the envelope, and confronting Christians about moving away from what is COMFORTABLE. Heck, I’m the guy who writes and speaks about PORN all the time! I’m the guy who rails on the church for playing it safe, lacking innovation, and being short sighted. I am the one sure of God’s power, His resources, and His will to accomplish great things in and through His church.

But I’m also the ultimate HYPOCRITE when it comes to stepping out into the unfamiliar and the unknown and my wife and Pinterest exposed me.

Let’s not get carried away here. I won’t be searching the gazillion pages of Pinterest with Christina, looking for some new clever craft to do. I’m still no Ty Pennington by any stretch, but perhaps I’m less afraid to wade into a project UNSURE of my skill and even less sure of the potential OUTCOME.

Perhaps God has spoken quite clearly to me letting me know that you can talk a big game up front, but you better be ready to live it at home and elsewhere.

Oh, and by the way, if any wives out there would like to torture their husbands who suffer from the same “issue” I do with a “project” you can find the $10 Picture Ledges here http://ana-white.com/2010/10/plans/ten-dollar-ledges .

Guys, to quote a line from one of my all time favorite movies, Nacho Liebre, “You can do it!”

8 “B” Attitudes for Men to Beat Porn

"B Attitudes"

“B” Attitudes

  • Break up…with all those “fantasy” girlfriends you’ve been checking out online and dating in your mind. Make a clean break. Remember they really aren’t that into you. End it, and never turn back to their lies. Don’t be Mr. Nice Guy either. Just walk away. Ignore any advances or even invitations to “hook up”. When you’re weak and lonely reach out to a real person who actually cares about you. “Take captive every thought…” 2 Cor. 10:5
  • Boycott media…yeah there’s probably some stuff you shouldn’t watch or listen to! Probably a video game or two you should just totally get rid of for a time or even permanently. It’s likely you’re like me and play that game of, “well it really doesn’t effect me.” You and I know good and well that it does. Even if it’s something as “mild” as the recent edition of the SI swimsuit issue that you’ve managed to rationalize as not being “porn” it’s time to give it the snub. “If your right hand offends you cut it off…” Matthew 5:30
  • Band together…it’s awkward I know but there’s just no other way to get free and stay free. We need others. So if you’ve been going it alone and wondering why that hasn’t worked the answer is you’ve got to acquire some allies quick. You may not want the world to know your problem but a small band of brothers needs to know about your problem. A live group is ideal but if you can’t swing that then sign up for an www.X3groups.com through www.xxxchurch.com. “Two are better than one…” Eccl. 4:9
  • Buy resources…this issue is so prevalent that there’s ton’s of stuff out there. There’s awesome stuff that’s FREE but you may need to actually redirect the funds you’ve been spending on porn or massage parlors toward purchasing the best resources you can. Most dudes don’t want to take the time to read so get audio books and listen while you drive or work out. I highly recommend saving up the money or selling something to attend the Everyman’s Battle Workshop. It’s not cheap but the return on investment makes it well worth it. There’s also the 30 day online recovery workshop www.x3pure.com. “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways…” Proverbs 14:8
  • Bravely confess…it takes enormous courage to be this vulnerable but it is absolutely necessary. Why do you need to confess? Truth is you don’t. You can go on the way you have been, hiding, lying, pretending (I’ve been there) and you’ll never be free. Confession is our commitment to dealing with the reality of our situation. It is professing with our lips that we don’t have it all together. It speaks to transparency, authenticity and our refusal to live in denial. “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper…” Proverbs 28:13
  • Build barriers…or you could say “boundaries” here. However you want to put it the point is you’ve got to add some structure to your recovery. For instance, tons of guys are vulnerable in the shower, late at night in their rooms with a laptop, phone or other device. Strategize in advance on how to avoid the trap. Limit your showers to 5 minutes. Don’t turn it into a spa session where you have time to drift off to fantasy land and act out. As for devices commit to leaving them device(s) somewhere other than your room. Yes, you can do without them through the night.
  • Believe truth…addicts are good at telling lies but far more damaging may be the lies we believe. Such as, “I’ll never be sober,” “you’re not hurting anyone else,” or my all time favorite, “you deserve it!”. It’s only when we start believing truth that we find freedom from the lies. Jesus clearly stated that he was the epitome of truth (Jn. 14:6) so we can believe Him and all that He said like, “If the son sets you free you are free indeed…”(Jn. 8:36) or “For God so loved the world…” (Jn. 3:16) and a very appropriate one for this discussion, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt. 2:17)“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
  • Begin NOW…stop putting things off. Stop telling yourself you’ll start next week or next month! Make this day one of a life time of living free of porn. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Tonight FREE Webinar How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex

Webinar

Webinar

If you or someone you know is a parent or will be one someday then join us for a FREE webinar on
Tuesday, March 4th at 8 PM ET / 7 PM CT/  5 PM PT. 

When doing premarital counseling for young couples I often ask where their first information about sex came from. It’s usually a rather awkward conversation but typically they tell me a story about how their parents either totally ignored the subject, gave them a book to read, or just told them, “don’t do it!”. Of course most of us got our information about sex from older siblings or school friends.

Having a healthy and appropriate conversation about sex with our kids is absolutely crucial to setting them on the right track. This evening I want to invite you to check out a FREE webinar designed to support you as a parent in having THE TALK.

The webinar will be hosted by Craig Gross, founder of XXXCHURCH.com

Click here to sign up

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