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.
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.