From the Blog

Follow up to the Set Free Global Summit

Last week I was both blessed and privileged to represent FBH with Brent at the Set Free Summit in Greensboro, North Carolina. I also met Jarrad Miller with God Over Porn and had time to get to know him.


I would like to share with you my impression of the conference and how I perceived it was accepted overall. Now my personal perception with $4.00 might get you tall Latte at Starbucks but not much more.


About 850 people came to the conference. Out of that only about 300 Churches or other religious institutions were represented, and of them only about 90 or so visited our table and connected with us. When you consider the total number of churches in a two hundred mile radius of Greensboro, it’s a little disheartening. However the amount of lay people seeking either self-help or materials and information they could take back to leadership was a little more encouraging. Plus they seemed willing and determined to convince their leaders that it’s well past time—we must start now. That to me was more encouraging.


The majority seemed to have come in search of the magic pill that would sanitarily make this epidemic disappear, and they left with the realization that they are going to have to get down and dirty for as long as it takes and it has to start at the top. What they got there was the truth which Jesus promised would set us free.


There were more than a few from Canada and other countries like England, Australia, Peru, Mexico, Brazil, and Egypt, which opened my eyes to the fact that this is a worldwide epidemic. Most of these came with the hope of finding materials in their own languages, only to find nothing yet. Although I wasn’t discouraged; I just saw another opportunity for someone to fill that need.


There was also addressed in one of the sessions the need for materials and resources for the growing number of women in the church struggling the same issue. It’s not just a guy issue anymore. But even this need creates another opportunity for ministry.


I sometimes felt like these pastors were overwhelmed—it was like finding out that what they thought was an outbreak of the flu infecting over half their congregations was, in reality, the bubonic plague. But it was a much needed wake-up call.


At the end we met three guys from the Chicago area who were already having success in three groups of about sixty men, and they were looking for an additional church facility to start another group.


Overall, I came away encouraged because even though the steps are small, they are in the right direction. The Bible tells us not to despise meager beginnings. And when you’re trapped between Pi Hahiroth and Migdol with the Red Sea blocking your way and the entire Egyptian Army is bearing down on you from the rear—our God will part the Red Sea.


I am seeking your prayers for these pastors and individuals, that they will be strong in their resolve to engage in the battle and work past their fears, doubts, and concerns by trusting in God. After all, it’s His church, not theirs.

Stay the Course

I have recently shared my testimony with you about my struggles with pornography, so I don’t need to expand on that, but rather relate more to the war at hand in the Church of Jesus Christ.  In 1998 I finally listened to God and followed His plan lined out perfectly in James 5:16, and I confessed my sin of porn addiction to a group of believers on a Sunday night. I then began the process of deliverance from that which had ensnared me at a very young age. At that point in 1998, I had been a Christian who had tried to deal with this issue on my own for eighteen years—with very limited and short term success. The church was in denial that any true believer could have such a struggle. After all, we are a new creation; old things are passed away and behold all things have become new (2 Cor. 5:17). That scripture and the church’s silence on the matter often led me to doubt my salvation, because I still struggled with sin. On three separate occasions I fasted forty days and begged God to remove this from me. But the only response I would hear from God was to confess your sins one to another and pray for one another that you can be healed. At that time my pastor was also my father-in-law, so I wasn’t open to the idea of confessing to him. I did one time after my fastings and prayers weren’t bringing results. I tried giving my father-in-law a very watered down version of a confession which was hardly a confession at all, so it hardly worked at all. It wasn’t until the marriage failed that I confessed on that Sunday night (which was, by the way, a different pastor and different church). I also confessed to my wife, but she couldn’t forgive me. After that time, I would speak anywhere and anytime I was invited to share my testimony. Again, the churches were not ready to address the issue. Neither Freedom Begins Here, Transparent Ministries nor Celebrate Recovery existed at that time. Ten years and many disappointments later, I got out of the fight, and before too long I began losing battles with my struggles with porn.  Since the births of FBH, TM, and CR, I’ve gotten back in the battle which helps me stay much more alert to the wiles of the enemy and the triggers that can lead me in a downward spiral. I have to STAY THE COURSE.

I need to be reminded, and so I’ll restate the porn stats that directly concern the church:

60% of men and 30% of women, even in the church, struggle with porn.

The 12– to 17-year-old age bracket is the largest consumer of Internet porn.

42.7% of Internet users view porn.

7 out of 10 lay leaders and 4 out of 10 pastors admit to having viewed porn as much as once a week.

Ashley Madison is a Canadian based on-line dating service, soliciting people who are married or in serious relationship with their slogan “life’s too short, have an affair.” On August 19th, 2015, the Ashley Madison web site was hacked and many were exposed, including over 400 pastors and church leaders. On September 8th, one distraught pastor committed suicide in his shame.

Friends, our pastors, elders, and deacons are hurting just like we are. We have to speak up. We can stay silent no longer. If we don’t actively and aggressively attack this problem, it will continue to grow and entrap our brothers, ours sisters, our sons, our daughters, and our grandchildren. SILENCE IS THE PRISON DOOR TO THE CELL OF OUR SHAME THAT KEEPS US IN BONDAGE TO OUR SIN. Confession releases those bonds so we can be released and healed. It is a process and WE CAN’T DO IT ALONE. Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 tells us, Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can he be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not easily broken.  You and I in Christ are that threefold cord.  Proverbs 27:17 reads, As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another. We must work together. Each of us needs a friend, a brother who loves us and that we trust and know they have our back. I need a friend/brother like that and I want to be a friend/brother like that for anyone willing to trust God and to allow me to help and encourage you and protect you from yourself and the enemy.

In the beginning of this message, I quoted 2 Corinthians 5:17 and shared how it made me feel I wasn’t saved. The scripture is true, however, and I now believe I have a different understanding of its meaning. The more years I have in relationship with Jesus and the better understanding I have of God and His grace through Jesus Christ, the more I’ve gained understanding of its meaning. We know that God sees us perfected in Jesus. I now could expand the scripture to say, If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are PASSING away, behold all things are BECOMING new. In the book THE CURE by John Lynch and Bill Thrawl, they talk about the butterfly. In essence God has created us a new creation, a butterfly. Even though we may still resemble a caterpillar or cocoon, if a scientist were to check our DNA at any stage, he would say we are a butterfly. So we are maturing/becoming new.

Over the past four or five years, my wife and I have been ministering and mentoring people at the Union Gospel Mission, 5 Rock Ranch, and now at Celebrate Recovery at the Salvation Army. I have befriended many hard core guys with all sorts of addictions and anger issues. These big, tough guys will confess their alcohol and drug addictions, their anger issues, they’ll confess that they abused their wives, stole from and mistreated their mother, attacked their fathers, and maybe even confess to a killing or maiming, but when it comes to admitting anything to do with pornography, they become silent. I’ve been wondering about this for a while and I feel I’ve been given an understanding (from the Lord, I hope) into why this is so. Alcohol, drugs, and violence are “macho” sins, but pornography carries the additional shame of masturbation. There is nothing overly masculine or macho attached to that. Guys will brag about their many conquests but hide in shame anything to do with masturbation. So there is an additional pride issue involved.

Until we break the silence of our shame, we’ll continue in our imprisonment. Until God’s children (the church) become transparent and the church (institution) becomes a safe

Crybaby

About four and a half years ago (13 years after admitting my struggle with pornography), God convicted me of an anger issue I had never addressed. My brother-in-law (the same one who introduced me to Freedom Begins Here) gave me a book called Bo’s Cafe. The main character in the book had anger issues that I could relate to (once again the providence of God at work). However, I couldn’t figure out how I had become so angry because I came from a good, loving home with loving parents that did not have anger issues. Since then I began attending Celebrate Recovery. I started going initially to see if I could help others and possibly start something similar at the place I was volunteering, but I ended up having more of my own issues come to light. So through that, God revealed to me the source of my anger as well as why I was so attracted to porn.

When I was young and growing up, I was a very sensitive child. I was easily moved to tears by insensitive words, not only the ones directed at me but at others as well. I would cry when my younger sister cried from being hurt or punished.

On Christmas Day in 1965, my Dad said or did something that unintentionally hurt my feelings, so I went to my room to cry. As I did I heard someone say “What a crybaby.” From that moment on I was labeled a crybaby, so I vowed to never cry again. With that thought, I shut down, and that precious sensitive spirit died and I became somewhat emotionally detached. There were only two emotions that wouldn’t betray my resolve not to cry—they were laughter and anger. So I became a bit of a class clown and a tease.

I am non-confrontational by nature. I’m like “Casper the Friendly Ghost”—I just want to be friendly. Bullies take advantage of that. So as I grew older I grew tougher, even though I hated confrontation. If someone messed with my sister or my friends or another meek person, I was ready to defend them.

Because I had been crushed by the fickleness of young girls, I became very guarded. I never gave my whole self into a relationship for fear of being hurt. I had been introduced to pornography at a very young age and was smitten. It seemed very safe to me because I could enjoy the fantasy without fear of betrayal. In each of my first two marriages I stayed somewhat aloof for fear of the pain and never fully trusted them with my heart. I wore a mask of self-confidence to hide the fact I was a basket case inside and to disguise my vulnerability. When there was trouble in paradise or I was stressed or depressed I would revert back to porn for a season. Amazingly enough I never purchased porn, but it always miraculously showed up—either at work, or in a dumpster, or even the time somebody dumped about a dozen magazines in the back of my truck while I was in the grocery store.

In 1976 I became an apprentice cement mason, and within two years was promoted to a foreman position. Controlling a crew of rowdy cement masons required me to act like a mean son-of-a- gun ready to kick butt (which was against my Casper the Friendly Ghost nature), so I began drinking a half pint of VO every day on my way home so I could relax to be with my family. Jesus revealed Himself to me in January of 1980, and within a couple of months I started my own owner/operator landscape and concrete business. If all that had not transpired and the Lord had not intervened, I was on my way into alcoholism and drug abuse.

By God revealing to me how I got so messed up, I’ve been able to forgive myself and love myself in spite of all my many flaws, and I’ve experienced the vastness of His grace (where sin abounds grace does much more abound), mercy, and love.

My name is Jeff and on a side note, if you feel led, pray for me to break my dry spell because I haven’t really cried since Christmas day 1965—that’s just over 50 years. Every time I feel I might have a breakthrough, I hear the words “what a crybaby” in my head and it stops. I need to be broken of that pride that still holds me hostage.

Thanks for letting me share.

The (Porn) Battleground – The Mind

By: Dan Wobschall

Quite literally every decision, conflict, battle and resolution to life's situations, begin and end in the mind.

Therefore, if you and I are to walk in purity with Christ and honor our wives, children and above all else, God, don't you think we should be on a vigilant watch over what we introduce our minds and thought life to? (might be a run-on sentence, but oh well) 

Here's just a couple of verses of New Testament scripture on the subject.

Mark 12:30  "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."

2 Corinthians 10:5  "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Romans 12:2  "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

I could stop here and let us ruminate on these verses. In fact, do that. Read them over a couple of times. Digest them a bit before moving on.

Mind Power

The brain performs an incredible number of tasks including the following:

  • It controls body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and breathing.
  • It accepts a flood of information about the world around you from your various senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching).
  • It handles your physical movement when walking, talking, standing or sitting.
  • It lets you think, dream, reason and experience emotions.

All of these tasks are coordinated, controlled and regulated by an organ that is about the size of a small head of cauliflower. And it does this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and never shuts off to rest!

Understanding a small bit of the science behind the mind gives us a pretty good insight on the power of the mind. It also tells us that we need to care for this body organ quite well. So, 'take captive every thought' to protect yourself from letting creeping crud enter your mind. 

Be mindful (pun intended) of what you watch, read, listen to, and think about. Everything you take in via your senses affects how you view the world around you. The avenues from which we receive information are nearly endless. From newspapers to the highest of tech methods to intake news, entertainment, music and you name it. 

Old but true

As the old saying goes, accurately so, garbage in - garbage out. Out of our mouths come that which dwells in the heart and mind. What dwells in the heart in mind is what the mind receives and we feed it. 

What kind of mind food are you feeding on today?

The Mind on Porn

The neural pathways of the brain are much like roads that take us to and from places, with the option of a few to choose from to make the journey. And the shortest path or most familiar roads are often what we choose. We're familiar with that road. We know it well. 

So it goes, as we create pathways of thought and behavior in the mind. 

Neuroscience Speaks: How Using Porn Destroys Your Willpower

Neuroscience now knows that willpower is a function of the prefrontal lobes of the brain. Scientific studies have also confirmed that using porn over and over actually reshapes these areas of the brain, literally eroding our willpower and our moral compass.

Neuroscientists call it hypofrontality. Hypofrontality is a state in which there is decreased blood flow to the prefrontal lobes of the brain. Hypofrontality is observed in schizophrenia patients, and is also observed in all manner of addictions.

What is Hypofrontality? In his book, The Porn Circuit, Sam Black explains what hypofrontality is for the porn viewer.

“Compulsiveness is a good descriptor of hypofrontality. Many porn users feel focused on getting to porn and masturbating even when a big part of them is saying, ‘Don’t do this.’ Even when negative consequences seem imminent, impulse control is too weak to battle the cravings.”

The porn-addicted brain has trouble thinking logically. When impulses and desires come from the midbrain, instead of being moderated, the brain feels these desires as compelling needs. The prefrontal region is supposed to be able to weigh consequences and situations and judiciously shut down cravings, but hypofrontality means the addict’s ability to do this is impaired.

To the addict, when the craving for porn surfaces, their whole body gears up for action. As unhindered hormones are released and neurotransmitters fire, the craving consumes them. The heart begins to race, blood pressure rises, and the addict is consumed by a single thought: “Just one more time.”

Speaking from experience

Changing my thought processes was the single hardest part of recovery from my porn addictiveness. My ability to think logically about sexual needs, desires and behaviors went out the window when the impulses were running with a head of steam. 

The addictive pornography behavior cost me valuable, unretrievable time lost away from my wife and children. 

What I found myself capable of thinking, watching, saying and doing on the internet is today scary and honestly sickening. Yet I did them over and over and over again, seeking relief from the very pain the behavior was bringing me. 

How to break the cycle

Just how do we abandon the old pathway of thinking and build new ones? That's a huge question with multiple correct answers. See the three verses at the beginning of this post, and start there. Here are a few others: 

  • Install filtering & accountability software on all computers & smart devices 
  • Daily time spent reading & meditating in the bible
  • Listen to Christian music and talk radio
  • Choose to watch safe & clean television, if any
  • Join an accountability group and get an accountability partner
  • Learn how to be held accountable effectively

We are and will become a product of our own self imposed mental environment. That is truth and fact. Choose wisely.  

Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

 

Sources for this article:

EveryMansHope.org

BibleGateway.com

CovenantEyes.com

How Stuff Works - Human Brain

The Marriage Reflection

When you hold your marriage up to a mirror what do you see? What should you see? 

The image I pray to see is that of the image of Christ and his relationship to the church. He set the example for us to follow. Unselfish sacrificial love and devotion is the height of the bar.

The book of Ephesians in chapter 5 puts it in God's words. Some of the words your about to read have fueled our culture to become quite upset. Sometimes the truth is hard to take, but it's still the truth.

Here we go. Eph 5: 22-24  "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."

What proceeds verse 22 in 21 is this;  "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."

Ok, husbands pay attention. God has a command for us. Eph 5:25-27 "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."

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A prayer for you...

Friend, we serve a God who forgives, heals, restores, redeems, and sets the captives free!  Below is a beautiful prayer I received from the heart of a man who understands the consequences of sexual addiction. Whether you are battling an addiction yourself or you are a wife who's heart has been broken because of your husband's addiction, this is for you.  May this prayer minister to you and bring hope to you no matter where you are at on your journey!

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We Ask in Faith!

Insert Video

 

I am a single mother to three wonderful boys. Their father struggled with pornography and infidelity all of our marriage and eventually ended up leaving us when our oldest son was eight years old. That son is now 14 years old and I discovered, about a year ago, that he had been regularly seeking out and viewing pornography on the internet.

When I confronted him with what I had found he totally denied that he had been doing it even though the evidence was undeniable. I put software on the computer and addressed the issue as best as I knew how. I sought advice from our Pastor as well as my sons Youth Pastor. After meeting with his Youth Pastor my son finally confessed to what he had been doing. I would periodically ask him if he was struggling with the temptation of porn again just to keep checked in and keep him accountable. He would, with seemingly heartfelt conviction, remind me that was in his past. He would state that he reminded himself daily of the struggle and his desire to stay pure. He even kept a piece of a cinder block on his dresser that he got from the Youth Pastor after a message about how sin weighs us down but Christ can break us free from the addictions that we have. It seemed like we had met the issue head on and won.

Fast forward now almost a year and once again he is viewing pornography online and adamantly denying it even when the proof is un deniably right in front of us. I am scared for him and where this will lead for him if I don’t a) get him to see that he needs confess to the wrong he is doing and accept responsibility for it. b) help him to see the danger of pornography and why it is so wrong other than just because I say it is. I need for him to believe for himself that it is harmful I need to help him find a way to personal conviction in this matter. My son is not a reader so if you can point me to some audio or visual aids to help me reach him I would really appreciate it. I don't want to sound like I am looking for a hand out but I feel I need to be totally honest about my situation in order to get information that can be useful to me. What I mean by that is I am raising my three boys on my income alone and I make just barely over minimum wage so I would really appreciate if any information or resources you are able to point me to be either free or extremely inexpensive. I am desperate to help my son however I am limited to what I can do financially. I have seen firsthand the damage pornography can do and it breaks my heart for him. I appreciate your time and any resources you can send my way. Thank you so very much.

Sincerely,
Mom

 

We ask in Faith! A message from our board.

Hebrews 11:1 says this, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Last Thursday night, the Transparent Ministries board was arriving for our monthly meeting. As the last board member walked in, he said, “Brent there is a guy outside saying he is supposed to be at this meeting.” We looked at each other perplexed. We were all there. Who was this guy? Brent went out to talk to him as the rest of us started the meeting.

But this meeting quickly took a turn for the worst.

With Brent still out of the room, we looked at the financials from the past few months. Product sales are down. Support from donors and friends of the ministry are down.

What were we looking at? Well, let’s be TRANSPARENT. If we didn’t leave this room with a serious plan, the ministry would definitely have to start functioning differently within a month.

Just as we started talking about ways to cut expenses, Brent walked back into the room and sat down. We were focused on important business matters and didn’t stop to ask what the guy outside wanted. We were able to make a few plans and started cutting our already bare bone expenses. Then it hit us like a ton of bricks. This is not our ministry. It is His.

Now I could start quoting statistics to you about the destruction pornography has caused in this world, but you’ve heard that from us since the beginning. I could even share with you my own story of struggling with pornography as a kid, as a young man in college, and the continual temptation it is today but to what end? Reality is we have an issue among us not only in the world, but right in the middle of the Church. It is no secret that pornography is the most secretive and destructive sin we face today. It is not only tearing wounds in the heart of the individual it is tearing apart the very institution God created—the family and the larger body of Christ. The hardest thing about it is that very few people or churches want to address it and talk about it, or give credibility to the havoc it is causing in people and families today. I promise you it will not go away by ignoring it.

Transparent Ministries is addressing it and we want to help others address it in their own lives. We want to help churches address it in their congregations. But we are not satisfied with just addressing it. We want to see freedom take the place of chains. We want to see wounds healed. We want to see marriages and families restored, and the body of Christ take back what the world has made so ugly, distasteful, and shameful. But, this is just not our heart. Psalm 107:20 says, “He sent out his Word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.” This message is the very heart of God, and he sent his son so that we all may leave in freedom.

What’s the bottom line? We need your help. In order for Transparent Ministries to continue helping people and the Church get free from the addiction of pornography, we need $3,500 a month in sales and support just to make ends meet. This is a bare bones budget meaning it covers few expenses and pays Brent a small salary to be the face of TM, meet with those struggling, speak at churches and schools, and attend conferences to teach and encourage, and mail products as they are ordered. Currently, we are bringing in roughly $1,000 to $1,300 a month. Meaning we need to bring in between $26,000 and $30,000 to see Transparent Ministries continue to operate in 2013.

So how can you help? We are not looking for donors, we are looking for partners. We know it takes more than money. We are looking for partners to not only give sacrificially to the area of freedom of the sin and chains of pornography, but we are asking for your prayers. Prayer is powerful and effective and must be the foundation of this ministry. It is the key to seeing addictions broken.  So would you first take time to pray and seek the Lord on his heart for this area of addiction and pain, then ask Him what you are to do? If the Lord lays upon your heart to give, there are many ways to do that. You can send your check to:

Transparent Ministries
PO Box 7093
Siloam Springs, AR 72761

Or you can give online at www.freedombeginshere.org/donate/ 

By the way, the guy that showed up at our meeting. He was a man ravished in the sin and addiction of pornography and was desperate to get out of it. He had heard from a friend that we were meeting and he came to get help. Brent ministered to him and set up a meeting to start him on his path to freedom. There are many others like this guy wanting and needing help. As Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” We now hope and have faith in the Lord that He will provide and help us help others.Thank you for considering praying for and giving to Transparent Ministries.

In His Service,
TM Board