14 Jan 2014
By Dan Allender
The church pianist arched her back and stretched her arms in preparation for the opening hymn. The man in front of me didn’t miss one movement. His wife, painfully aware of the object of his gaze, jabbed him in the side, he shot back angrily, “I wasn’t looking at anything.” His remark seemed well-rehearsed, perhaps from countless other occasions of being caught stealing looks at attractive women. The couple’s hurt and anger betrayed the endless cycle of accusation, defense, guilt, effort, helplessness, and failure so often associated with struggles of lust.
14 Jan 2014
By Bob Heywood
I was exposed to pornography at a very young age. I was six. At that point in my life I really didn’t know what I was looking at. I didn’t understand my body’s reaction to it. All I knew was I felt good and I felt guilty. Those two feelings drove me to a life of shame that I still haven’t fully unpacked. The hallmark of that shame was sneaking. And I was good at it.
By David White
Weeping with Those Who Weep
Receiving painful phone calls is never easy. I am regularly contacted by individuals – often in tears – because someone in their life has made the decision to forsake their covenant, their faith – their real hope – in order to chase an empty lie.
By Brad Currie, LifeLine Group, New Life Presbyterian, Dresher, PA
1. I would never say that I am the leader. I am a facilitator in a group of fellow strugglers. I am a fellow struggler in a battle that every man faces: A battle for sexual integrity and purity in a culture that is saturated by sexual content grossly out of perspective from what God intended for us. I cannot face this battle alone. I need the men in this group as much as they need me, even though I am the facilitator.
2. A fellow struggler is someone who has been on the road of recovery for several years and, despite falling, is able to get up and keep going. A fellow struggler knows that regardless of temptations and setbacks, he continues on the path and headed in the right direction toward progressive victory over lust and sexual impurity. A fellow struggler is one who has empathy and compassion for other men that are entangled in similar patterns. A fellow struggler is not someone who thinks they have all the answers, telling men what to do. A fellow struggler is someone who knows what it is like to be trapped down in that pit of sexual bondage, and since he knows how to climb out, he is willing to jump back in to help others start their climb.
3. In our groups, we use a rock climbing analogy to illustrate how the members of the group are connected to each other. Rock climbers are connected to one another from above and below by safety ropes and carabineers. Every man who comes to the group gets his own carabineer to remind him of his connection to the others. We bring the carabineers to our meetings and hook them together as a symbol of our connection with one another. The message is “You may fall, but you are connected to others who will help pull you back up and continue your climb.” This is a powerful visual reminder of our need of one another. In group, we learn that what heals us is being engaged in strong, connected and honest relationships with other men. Men become men in the presence of other good men. Even though being a facilitator is a scary position, the Lord meets us as we step out in our own weakness.
4. The connection that is created among men belonging to a group that is safe, confidential and supportive is immeasurably valuable. Most men are alone in their sexual struggles, believing that they are the only one grappling with their particular issue. Seeing the openness that develops among men as they begin to share their stories in a support group is astonishing. Their self-imposed barriers come down, and the honesty and intimacy that is developed with other men in the group is often the foundation for establishing honesty and non-sexual intimacy in their relationship with their wives. A Christ-centered group provides the essential framework of safety where there is no condemnation or judgment. Most men do not know how to be open, honest and vulnerable, but in that safe atmosphere, we begin to experience true forgiveness, healing and repentance. As Christ’s love surrounds and permeates these men, they are delivered from their guilt and shame and their spiritual vigor is restored.
5. Perhaps the best reason to be involved as a facilitator in a men’s group is the need to carry the message of hope and recovery, found in the gospel, to those who are sick and suffering. Comforting others with the comfort that you have received (II Corinthians 1:4) forces you to live out what you know to be true. You can’t effectively encourage other men in their pursuit of their sexual integrity while you are still acting out yourself. Being a facilitator in a group of fellow strugglers keeps you sharp, like iron sharpens iron (Prov 27:17).
When Indiana Jones found the Ark of the Covenant, it was buried in a tomb and covered with snakes. Being deathly afraid of snakes he cries out, “Why does it have to be snakes?” thereby revealing his worst fear. But he faced his worst fear and was able to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant. In the same way, the Lord uses men who, even while they face their greatest weakness and fear, are willing to make themselves vulnerable and available to “…hold back those who are staggering toward the slaughter” (Prov 24:11).