pornography – a powerful testimony

I’m following a nudge with this one so bear with me…

Pornography is a devastating issue in our culture.  Estimates are as high as 90% of the young men in college are dealing with sex-addiction issues and addiction to pornography.

The church is dealing with this is varying forms but even in the church, this is an issue better left “unsaid”.  It is messy and it is destroying men and destroying marriages.

It is time to come clean.  Don’t kid yourself.  If you are looking, you probably have a bigger issue than you care to admit.

There is no accusation here.  That’s not the point.  We are being absolutely bombarded with this daily.  We fight a tough battle but every one of us fights it whether we care to admit it or not.

So many of us feed this addiction – we watch things we shouldn’t watch, look at women in ways we shouldn’t and linger where we have no business.  “What you feed grows.  What you starve dies”.  If you keep feeding this addiction, the appetite will only grow.  You can never satiate this desire and it will absolutely and completely consume you.

Please don’t keep this in the dark.  Expose it to the light.

I share this video of Andy Stanley talking to Michael Leahy and his ex-wife about his affair and pornography addiction.  The affair was the symptom, the effect of his much deeper problem of pornography addiction.

This is 45 minutes long and is filled with reality, facts about porn addiction, medical facts about how pornography has the addictive power of crack cocaine, etc.  It is also painful to hear his ex-wife speak about her side of this.  There is also restoration as Michael now leads a ministry to college campuses about pornography.

Please invest the time to watch this.  Drop your defenses.  Let the Spirit speak to you.  If you need to talk as a result of this, let’s talk.  You can comment below (I won’t publish any comments) and let me know.  Get it out into the light.

This could be a hugely important 45 minutes in your life.

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Guardrails 6 – conclusion

We wrapped up our summer ManSchool today and will not meet again until mid-September.  We are formulating plans for the fall and will be back with you with the details.

Today, Andy Stanley talked about Daniel and the decision he made to not cross a certain line when he was being melded into Babylonian culture.  The analogy to you and I today is so powerful.  Every day, you and I face a “Daniel decision” – that moment where we come up against a line we should not cross.  It may be cheating on your taxes, lying to your boss, looking down the waitress’ dress, saying things to your wife that subtly punch at her, letting your anger boil until you lash out your kids, etc.

Each day, we face that moment, that friction.  Each day, we run up against a guardrail and the question is, “Will I cross this line?  I know trouble is on the other side of this.  Will I step over?”

Guardrails make so much sense…for everyone else.  When it comes to me, there are lines I will cross that probably I would not want my best friend crossing.  There are financial guardrails I leap over that if I were advising my brother, I’d tell him to avoid.  There are compromises I will make sexually that I wouldn’t want you to know about and I darn sure would advise you to avoid.  Again, the guardrails in theory make a whole lot of sense when I am talking about you.  But what about me?  Why is it that I don’t want to apply them to my life?

And that’s the whole point of this entire summer series.

Daniel had a line he would not cross.  Do you?

He had a line where he said, “enough is enough, I will not go there”.  He made his mind up long before he knew what the outcome would be – after all he was only a teenager when this happened.  A teenager taken into captivity and living under the King being offered his best food and sweetest wine.  But Daniel knew that if he immersed too far into their culture, he’d lose himself, lose his God and his identity.  So he drew a line.

And because he did, a turning point appeared in his life.  God empowered him.  God gave him great knowledge and enabled him to interpret dreams.  The king noticed him and Daniel was promoted and played a huge role in history.  Had he not drawn that line, we’d never have heard of Daniel.

The direction of your life, not your intentions, determines your destination.  It doesn’t matter what you say.  It doesn’t matter what you intend to do.  Don’t kid yourself.  If you are fooling around where you KNOW you shouldn’t be fooling around — if the direction of your life is pointing to destruction, pointing to the cliff — that will be your destination.  It is sort of like saying, “I know I shouldn’t go to dinner with this woman” to help her work through a problem and yet to do it anyway.   “I know I shouldn’t go back to her place” and yet you do it anyway.  “I know I shouldn’t go upstairs with her…”  you get the point.  The direction is total disaster regardless of what your intentions are.

You have no idea what hangs in the balance of your Daniel decisions today and therefore, you have no idea just how important guardrails are in your life.  You’ll never know until you draw the line, until you stand for something and declare, “this is a line I will not cross” and until your heart, in so doing, is simply to glorify God.  God has given us great direction in His Word, great teachings on money, sex, idolatry, etc. to follow His teachings, Trust Him, set down some guardrails and lines in the sand you won’t cross brings glory to Him.

No one may ever know where you take your stand.  You may never receive any earthly accolades for being a man of integrity but you know what, God knows and He is all that matters and oh, by the way, He has called us to being men of integrity!  “The integrity of the upright guides them”  Proverbs 11:3.

Watch the video.  It will help you.  LiveUP!

ManSchool lite wraps up tomorrow – Guardrails

We will wrap up Andy Stanley’s great series on Guardrails tomorrow morning at 6am.  If you have been coming, we hope this has blessed you.  If you haven’t been coming, it’s not too late as tomorrow, Andy will summarize the whole concept.  What you hear tomorrow just might trigger the Holy Spirit to move in some area of your life that needs some attention.

Where is the line you will not cross?  What is “non-negotiable” in your life – that thing, area, action that you simply will not engage in?  That’s a guardrail and for many of us, we need more of them than we presently use.

CARVER – it is rapidly approaching the time when we need to start planning for our Carver football ministry this fall.  Robert Nobles runs this effort for us and does a great job but we need some more help.  Some of the key men who were there nearly every week last year have moved and are no longer able to help us.  If this is something you’ve done in the past or something you want to step into, I need to know.  We have only scratched the surface of what impact we can have on those young men and the weekly meals is our gateway into their lives.  It is a chance to serve them, love on them and simply build relationships with them.  I cannot tell you how much this ministry has blessed me personally.  I continue to run into former Carver players and they smile when they see me, hug me and they thank me for all we did for them while they were at Carver.

So again, we need to build a strong team for this year and if you want to participate in some way, I need to know so I can pass your name along to Robert.  Giving to these young men will bless you and you will not regret the investment of your time into this ministry.

Blessings on each of you.  This guardrails study has been great and the Lord has used it to reveal some things in our men that will be powerful in the years to come.

Guardrails with money

The vast majority of the time when Andy is approached with…“umm, I need to come talk to you about something” or “My wife and I have a problem” it is almost always (he estimates 90% of the time) about either sex or money.  And the truth is, if you were totally honest with yourself right now, for most of us, the biggest regrets we have in life involve either sex or money.  Yet the culture totally ignores the Bible’s teachings on both these issues dismissing them as old school, out of touch or simply not applicable to my life.  God focuses on these and today, specifically money, because it is about our devotion.  Most of us don’t struggle with following the devil but so many of us fall prey to failure in the areas of money or sex and simply put, it is because these areas tend to get our devotion.  What God fights against is not so much the enemy and his minions but rather our temptation to turn and be devoted to the “other gods” of sex and money.

The real internal struggle for you and me is “do I trust my stuff or do I trust God?”  Can I let go of holding onto stuff, holding onto money, worrying about the future and can I give all that over to God?  For so many of us, money becomes the area where we say, “God I will be devoted to you but I’m going to maintain control of my money”.

Matthew 6:24 – “no one can serve two masters – you can’t serve both God and money” so there is this tension there right in between God and money.  Go on, admit it, you feel it.  God’s chief competitor truly is “stuff”.  It is what so many of us worship.

There are generally two types of people – “consumption” = you consume every dollar that comes in or “hoarder” = “what about?  what if?”  We tend to call these the “spender” and the “saver” and usually in marriage, one is a spender and one is a saver.  And catch this – both are very self-centered.  Both are fueled by greed.  The consumption person lives with the assumption that is all for my immediate consumption.  The saver isn’t truly any more noble.  All he/she is doing is stashing and hoarding it now so he/she can be sure it will be there way off in the future for his/her…consumption.

The key to combating this challenge we all face is so easy.  It’s a simple habit we can develop to allow God to rule our life and shift our devotion to Him.  The key is this “GIVE.  SAVE.  LIVE”.  Where with every dollar that comes in you give, you save and then you live.  Give away the first 10% of every dollar that comes in.  This is teaching your flesh that you will not be ruled by money.  Give it back to God where it all came from to start with.  Then, save.  He employs the 10/10/80 rule – give 10%, save 10% and then live on 80%.

Imagine if right now, you got a 20% pay cut.  Instead of making $2,500 every two weeks, you were making $2,000 every two weeks.  You just “lost” $1,000 a month of take home pay.  What would you do?  You’d have to make some tough choices and cut out a lot of things you previously thought you “had” to have.  But odds are, you could do it.  You could find a way to live on 80% of your pay.  And suddenly, that next big screen TV that you were almost about to buy and finance on a note at BestBuy would disappear as a “must have” thing.  You’d probably learn to be content with the TV you have right now.

The point is this – if you will give away 10% of your pay and save 10% of your pay you will begin to shift your mindset and your heart away from letting the stuff you own, own you.  It is an act of radical obedience to give away 10% to the Kingdom and trust God is going to provide what you need but the thing is, God knows your greatest temptation is the consumption of stuff.  He knows the thing you most struggle with is that “If only I had ____ I would be happy”.  He knows your heart can never find contentment in more stuff and the obedient act of giving is the way – perhaps the only way – to defeat this beast we all battle.

You are either devoted to God or devoted to money/stuff.  You cannot – as in can not – serve both.  Don’t let money steal your peace, steal your joy and consume your thinking.  “For the pagans run after these things” Matthew 6:32

Later on he says, “and your Heavenly Father knows you need these things”.  And that’s key – God knows you have to educate your children, pay for a wedding, provide for your family, pay the power bill, etc.  Can you trust Him to provide for you?  Deep down, we don’t think God knows we have these needs so we take control of the worrying over them.  Matthew 6:33 “but seek first His kingdom, His righteousness and these things will be given to you as well.”

So no, this isn’t some prosperity gospel message, this is rather a divorcing of our devotion to stuff, our devotion to “me, me, me” and “gimme, gimme” and settling into a place of contentment and trust.  Just think about the stark contrast of the two paths we can take, one, the tyranny of chasing after stuff, keeping up with the Joneses vs. the second, those two simple words of contentment and trust.  Which path gives you heartburn?  Which path gives you peace?

Remember, we either take the path of discipline or the path of regret.  10/10/80 is discipline.  Living at 105% of your pay, flipping from credit card to credit card is the path of regret.

Andy says that most people discover the power of 10/10/80, Give, Save, Live usually only after the bottom falls out and they crash against the rocks.  As the church helps them restore themselves and gets them on this 10/10/80 plan helping them reorder their lives; what happens almost every single time is they will come back and say, “I started giving, I started saving and my spending on me fell off and I am more content than I’ve ever been”.

10/10/80 is a guardrail.  Most of us live at 100% of our pay or 103% or 105% of our pay.  We teeter on the edge and live paycheck to paycheck and hope nothing goes wrong.  We don’t give money to the Kingdom because we can’t afford to.  In this case, you have already stepped over the guardrail and you are walking on the very edge of financial disaster.  Today is the day to take some steps back away from the cliff and toward the guardrails.  Make some tough choices.  Cut the cable, stop eating out, be content with the phone you have, cut up credit cards and pay off debt as fast as you can.  With each step like this, you are moving farther and farther away from the cliff and you’ll soon be on the safe side of the guardrail.  Keep going.  Put another 10 feet from you and the rail.  Live on 80% of your pay.  Give 10%.  Save 10% (or use that 10% exclusively for debt elimination and then save) and live on 80%.  You will not regret employing this guardrail in your lives and it will radically reorder your life and break your devotion to stuff so your eyes and devotion may rest upon the Lord.

LiveUP!

One great verse, one great prayer for your marriage Guardrails 4

Andy Stanley spoke this morning on Guardrails in our marriage and his wife Sandra joined him in the talk.  The foundational verse for their family was Proverbs 27:12 “The prudent see danger and take refuge but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” 

And then from that verse, they developed this short family prayer…

“Lord, help us see danger coming and give us the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it.”

That prayer and that verse are incredibly powerful and applicable to so many areas of our lives – applicable in our marriage, in our finances, in our business decisions, in our personal activities i.e. what we entertain ourselves with, in our relations with other women, in our relations with our extended family, etc.

Lord help me see the danger coming…

If you are a parent, this is a HUGE prayer for you.  Danger is coming especially if you’re going into the teenage years.  As a parent, you want to see it coming (I am blessed with a wife that has this innate sense that something is wrong when one of our daughters tries to explain what is happening in her world) — we want to see it coming, then we need the wisdom to know what to do with it and then, perhaps most importantly, the courage to do it.  As a parent of a teen, you are going to need a TON of courage to make the tough, unpopular decisions that need to be made to protect your child.  The pressure to conform and not rock the boat is HUGE and the parents feel it as much as the kid.  Your wife does not want to be “that Mom” that never lets Janie do the cool things.  No Mom wants to make a decision that makes their already hugely self-focused, insecure child stand out from the crowd and yet, that is precisely what needs to happen a lot of the time.

Having largely made it through the teenage years I will tell you I am absolutely floored at many of the decisions I saw parents make (or not make) with their kids.  It seemed the parents were so interested in the life they wanted to lead that the actual parenting got in the way and often, they would default to “After all, we all did that kind of stuff when we were in high school”.  I digress.

For us, we need to see the danger coming and take refuge.  We need to rest and trust in the Lord with our marriage, our kids, our finances, etc.  We need guardrails.  Seeing the danger coming is a huge guardrail.  The danger is on the other side of the rail and we need the Lord to give us a heads up if are drifting too close.

Communication.  Let me end with this.  It came through very clearly in Andy and Sandra’s talk – in every point they make you hear them saying, “we talked about this”.  I believe the key to marriage is communication.  I believe the solution to almost every problem we face – be it in raising the kids, our money, sex, sexual temptation, work issues, etc. – could be or could have been solved with communication.  The lack of communication is darkness.  If you are not sharing your heart with your wife, sharing your fears, sharing what you are tempted with, working through money issues, parenting issues, etc. then you are keeping things in the dark.  In the darkness, the enemy thrives and wreaks havoc.  Bring it into the light.  Tell your wife you are struggling with ______.  Talk about money.  Get on the same side of the table.

I can go on and on about this but I am convinced beyond any doubt that communication is crucial.  Men struggle with this.  We tend to be men of few words and we think the wives are the ones that share their feelings.  That’s a lie and a cruel, savage strategy of the enemy.  The LAST thing he wants you to do is sit down to be totally open, transparent and truthful with your wife.  If you are struggling, tell her.  Bring it into the light.  Pursue her.  Find out what she is worrying about and then pray over her.

We’ll have more to say on this later but wanted to get this thought out to you.  Communicate.  Bring it into the light and let the Lord work.

Chad Wells guest post – the journey of a man/husband/father

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I drive a school bus in Jessamine County Kentucky! At 41! REALLY?

Do you feel you are the square peg in the round hole? (the world is round, right?)

What does a Christian Man in 2014 look like?  I assume this could be a single or married man question, but seeing that I am married with 3 kids I will go from that point of view.   However, it can apply to either.  I have been a believer in Christ for well over half of my life.  I always thought that I did not think like the world thinks. I was wrong.  For most of my adult life I have struggled with my place in this world.  What do I do?  No matter how hard I try to not believe it, what I do, names me.

As much as I say (and know) I am a child of God, unfortunately the world can at times seem a little louder.  Kind of like the following….. (Chad, I made you and you are awesome)

I am a banker at South Trust (1998)…. (I am a child of God)

I am a salesman for Concentra Medical Centers (2000)….. (I love you and you are mine)

I am an Outside customer service rep for Residential Construction Specialties (2001)….. (I am crazy about you, Chad)

I am a Garage Door Merchandiser for Clopay Building Products (2002)…… (You are my Beloved)

I suck at staying with a company…. (I am running for you)  

I am a District Manager for a pool chemical Company and my pay has almost doubled (2003)…… (I could not be more proud of you Chad)

I got laid off and had to move back to Columbus, collecting unemployment, second child due in a month and I can’t provide for my family (2006)….. (I always knew how great I was going to make you)

I am a Senior Client Services Analyst at TSYS, I have no Idea what in the world I am doing (2006)…. (You are smart Chad, I made you smart)

I am too scared to stay with a company, they may find out that I have no idea what I am doing (2009)….. (I love you Chad, no matter what you do)

I am a Risk Reduction Coordinator at Ft. Benning (2009)…… (Chad, I am so proud that I created you)

The contract ended and I have no idea what to do (2011)….. (Chad I believe in you as a Husband)  

Are you leading me and my family to ministry of some sort?  Surely not, I am not good enough?  I don’t have what it takes? (2011)…. (I created you special and you can teach people about me)  

I cook breakfast at 3 am and serve it to people at Blue Cross Blue Shield.  Really? (2011)…… (people are seeing Me in you)  

Jesus, what in the @%&# is going on with my life? (2011)….. (Chad, you are a great father)

Are you leading our family to missions? (2011)…. (you will be ready and I am excited)  

My wife is being called to Seminary! (2012)…. (I created you and Hollie as a team)  

I suck at school, I can’t read well, I can’t remember what I did yesterday. (2012)…. (You have all the gifts that I have created in you to complete your purpose in My Kingdom)

I am a Lab tech at Goldens’ Foundry, wait, wait wait…What??? (2012)…. (Just be patient Chad, I have the perfect plan for your life)  

My wife and I are going to move our family to Kentucky so she can go to Seminary at Asbury Theological Seminary…. Hold it right there, I thought I was supposed to do that kind of thing. (2013)…… (Remember, I created you special and I created you and Hollie as a team)  

Ok, Lord send me!  Men, does any of this sound familiar?  I hope not.  First of all let me say, I love my wife and I could not be more proud to be her husband.  She is amazing and as we have walked this journey there is no doubt that this is her calling right now.  I have learned that it is also my calling as well.  Second, I still doubt and question what in the world the Lord is doing specifically in my life.  I battle bouts of heavy depression (Lord, I know you can heal me of this, what are you going to use it for? I feel it is a hindrance, but I will trust you).  I carry heavy guilt of past sins (I know, I know, that is not from the Lord, but it is still there! JL)  There is still a lot of frustration and anger.

Guys this world tells me I need to be working to make more money for my family for our future, and oddly enough it also tells me that I am the one that should be in Seminary not my wife.  Men, sometimes what we are hearing the Lord telling us to do, just does not seem right, it may not go along with what our culture expects from a Husband, Father and Man in 2014.  Men, I am a husband to an amazing woman who loves the Lord and who the Lord has called to Seminary and she needs me to love her and help her through the long days and nights as a grad student, with His help I will get better at it.  Men, I am a Father to 3 wonderful little girls who the Lord has called to Seminary also, and they need me.  Each one of them need my love and support.  They were each created very different, with His help I hope to get better at it.  And yes Men, I am 41 years old, and I am a School Bus Driver in Kentucky for 26 Middle School and High School kids that have very hard lives and live in tough circumstances and they need me.  Men, I was called to Seminary, no, not in the traditional sense, but just like My wife, I too was called to Seminary.  I am proud that I have been called to seminary.  I have no Idea what the Lord will have me doing when Hollie graduates and calls us to the next place.  I do know that I will be called where she is called because we are called together as a team.  Just as He has me serving Hollie, our girls, our house and those 26 school kids, He has the perfect plan for me to serve His Kingdom today and until He calls me home.

Men, the same is true for each of you.  For each of you it may look completely different.  The awesome thing is, He has created each of us for His Kingdom.  May the Lord quiet the world noise in your life and turn up the volume to His voice.

Trusting in Him,

Chad Wells

 

Guardrails in our sexuality

This one really is a “must” view. 28 minutes.  It may just change your life, it may just save your marriage.  I will promise you that if you employ some of these guardrails, you will not regret it.

We always seem to walk right up to the edge of disaster.  We tempt ourselves to see just how close we can get to the line.  Why is that?  It is utter foolishness to flirt with sexual temptation.  Don’t kid yourself.  Wake up.  Realize just how dangerous this area is.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee sexual immorality.”  Flee.  That’s pretty clear.  Flee.  It’s the thing your want your wife to do.  You want your son to do.  You want your best friends doing but when it comes to you, when it comes to me, we don’t flee, we flirt.

Your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives (if you’re a Christian).  You were bought at a price.  You have been purchased from the power of sin.  As a Christian, you have the power to master your body.  You don’t have to be a slave to it.  The Spirit resides in you and you should never go anywhere near things that dishonor God.

If you will establish some of these guardrails, you will not regret it.  These come from Andy’s years of experience of listening to many, many, many marriage train wrecks.  Some of these seem “impossible” or “extreme”.  The fact of the matter is the disaster on the other side of these is extreme.  The guardrail is there to prevent you from the disaster.

1.  Don’t travel alone with members of the opposite sex.  Maintain a moral margin.

2.  Don’t eat alone with members of the opposite sex alone.  Every single affair he has counseled through except one began with this – began with sharing a meal.

3.  Don’t hire cute members of the opposite sex because you want to help them.  Don’t deceive yourself.  Don’t deceive yourself.  Don’t deceive yourself.  Get them help but don’t hire them.

4.  Don’t confide/counsel with the opposite sex.  “They need me”.  Wrong.  When you counsel/confide, you are combining two emotional worlds and that is very dangerous.  That is intimacy and that is what we all want.  We think we want sex but deep down, it is intimacy that we crave.

5.  When your heart/desire starts to drift towards another women, tell someone.  Find a friend you can trust and confess this.

Your wife needs to know what your guardrails are and she needs to have the freedom to weigh in on them.  Make her a part of your defense system.

Again, is all of this extreme?  No, I think they are common sense.  You will never regret having guardrails in the area of your sexuality.  Are they extreme?  No, the disaster on the other side is extreme.  We need guardrails and they need to be fortified and very strong in this area.

This is a tough area for us but this message is fantastic and it might just change your life.  You won’t regret watching it.

Let me know what you think!

LiveUP!