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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!”

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

Chief Characteristic of Addiction

…self-deception is one of the chief characteristics of addiction.” -Michael John Cusick, Surfing for God

3 Ways to Curb The Church’s New Addiction

images-1In recent years Christians have spoken openly about addictions in the church. Members as well as pastors have confessed the reality of a double life, hidden, and enslaved. Porn, pills, pot, and food are just some of the ways Christians are coping with life in destructive ways. Recently, I’ve observed what I believe is the newest addiction on the rise in the church. The new addiction that I speak of could be at an all time high among believers. It’s the new elephant in the pew that we aren’t talking about. Our silence may be due to the fact that this particular addiction, though easily detectable, is quite easily disguised. What I mean by that is that it has become such the norm, and so readily accepted that we’ve lost any sense of discomfort with it.

The addiction I’m speaking of is NEGATIVITYI’m guilty of indulging too so that’s why it’s easy for me to write about it. You may be a user of negativity and just not realize it. Take a few moments and think about the last time you got together with friends after church for a meal. Inevitably the conversation comes around to the worship experience, the sermon, or some random observation about church. Then the urge hits and just like snorting coke off a mirror you’re whisked off into a negativity high. It may start off innocently enough, besides none of us really want to act out, but we can’t really help ourselves. I’m ashamed to say that it happened to me recently. More disappointing for me is that I was around new and younger leaders. I know better than that but I couldn’t resist the urge.

We disguise it behind rather superficial phrases like, “Well I hate to be negative but…”, or “I’m sorry but…” or it may sound more like the typical user, “Why doesn’t the pastor do…”, “Isn’t the church going to…”, “If something doesn’t change…!”. Sound familiar? And on the surface at least, it would appear that those comments are fairly innocuous. Sure, it’s hard to know the context, and it’s tough to judge when someone is tripping out, or high on negativity. Their eyes likely aren’t blood shot, and there’s no odor to give the illicit usage away. But the reality is we all know when the conversation gets filled with the smoky air of negativity. It actually leaves us feeling pretty high, and pretty good about ourselves. After all we’ve managed to effectively articulate our utter dissatisfaction with Christ’s bride and those that lead it.

That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t voice our honest thoughts on the church and where she’s headed. It is to say that perhaps the church and her leaders are better served when we make things less about us and our well-informed opinions and more about seeing ourselves as part of this imperfect bride we call the church. If those of us with strong opinions about the church spent half as much time engaging in real activity to bring about change we might very well have the church we’ve always wanted. Our (mine and yours) negativity could just be the thing that’s keeping us from getting there. I’m not naive and I’m not advocating for pushover believers that just go along with everything with little thought. There is a time and a place to offer direct, and important feedback. I just happen to think it isn’t around the dinner table, at the coffee shop, or in the car on the way home from church.

I’m calling for an end to the illicit, and abusive use of negativity. I’m praying that we take the first step and admit that we have a problem being downers. Here are a few ways I believe we can kick the addiction:

  • Annihilate your SOAPBOX: Reject the urge to get high and mighty with your opinions especially in small settings around people you know and who likely agree with you. Essentially I’m saying keep your pride in check! This is especially true for leaders. We just can’t give in to the lure of negativity even when frustrations run high, and we just need to blow off some steam. Give honest, appropriate feedback, but only in the right setting, never among new leaders, young leaders, new members, or new believers.
  • Tame your TONGUE: James taught us that the tongue is a powerful thing. Sometimes emotions run high and it’s easy to spout off about the church. A good friend of mine always says, “loose lips sink ships!” If that’s the case the church is on it’s way down quickly. We can stop the negative descent, inject some positivity, and watch the church come back to be all that God intends. The tongue can be particularly destructive when we begin to speak of church leaders negatively. I get it, our leaders are easy targets so it’s natural to want to throw them under the bus in front of others. But we do great harm and it only reveals the immaturity of our own walk. As a Christ-follower make it a point to push back against those who are constantly putting down church leaders through unhealthy, destructive, and negative talk.
  • Join the MEDIOCRITY: So if we have a beef with the church, whether legit or not we’ve got two choices: stay or go. What I despise is those who stay only to be antagonists, berating the bride every chance they get. They’re like the obnoxious parent at a little league game questioning every call by the umpire. My advice to those of us guilty of using negativity…join the mediocrity. No one is saying the church is perfect and we’re certainly not saying it’s leaders are infallible. We perform in a mediocre way quite a bit. To come across as one having a superior idea or vision of what the church can and should be, but then to separate oneself from that which you deem mediocre, and then claim to be united with it is the height of hypocrisy. Join the mediocrity, have the courage to stand with the imperfect church. Own the good and the bad and not just when it’s convenient. It’s ok to apologize for us as you stand with us but don’t you dare speak of the church as “them” and call yourself a member of the body of Christ.

Romans 12:3, “I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.”

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