From the Blog

Harmful Deceiver

Before I gave my heart to Jesus in January of 1980, I used to think that pornography really didn’t hurt anyone. Even psychology painted a picture that it could be helpful to detour rape by giving an outlet—and, boy, that sounded good and right to me, until Ted Bundy did his interview with Dr. James Dobson.

I had hoped it was a good thing because I was drawn to it. Men are hardwired to be visually stimulated. God made it to be that way. God created godly marital sex to be an intimate bonding—a wonderful, exciting moment between husband and wife. Fornication includes all forms of sexual sin like adultery, premarital sex, multiple partners, pornography (fornicea), homosexuality, and masturbation. It destroys God’s beautiful purpose for sex.

Pornography is not harmless but hurtful. The first one it hurts is God. Joseph said to Potiphar’s wife when she was trying to seduce him, “How could I do this thing and sin against God?” King David said, after being convicted by Nathan the prophet of his sins concerning Bathsheba, “Against God and God alone have I sinned.” We all have sinned against others and have had others sin against us, so we deserve what we get. But God deserves to be honored and revered, so any sin is firstly against Him. Secondly, we hurt our wives, our children, and ourselves. We also support an industry that supports all sorts of ungodliness, including human trafficking. One thing God used to get my attention was this question, “How would you feel if you were to open a porno magazine or watch a porno DVD and see your beloved daughter? The ladies seen in these magazines or films were somebody’s ‘baby girl’ and made in the ‘image of God.’”

God says in His word that sin is “pleasurable for a season” but it will ultimately destroy us. Sin is not bad because it’s forbidden, it’s forbidden because it’s bad.

On a personal note, I was exposed to pornography at a very young age. I wasn’t looking for porn at six years old, but it came looking for me. I wasn’t addicted immediately, but through other circumstances (I’ll blog about that at another time) I became addicted, and it was instrumental in causing my two divorces. Porn is a fantasy world—not reality. It’s staged and posed and doesn’t portray a true picture of reality. It’s generally perverse and a definite deviation of God’s plan.


Even after I gave my heart to Jesus I didn’t see pornography as a sin, because it wasn’t real—only fantasy. It’s not like I was having an affair. I didn’t understand what the word fornication meant. I didn’t read through the Bible completely until 1997, and it was probably five years later before I heard Jesus’ teaching about lust being adultery. Even then I tried to convince myself that I really had no interest in any of those women personally. And until recently, churches just didn’t address pornography until it was an epidemic in the church. Once I was convicted of my sin, I couldn’t seem to stop.

Finally, after my second wife filed for divorce, I followed the words of James 5:16—I confessed my sin and began the process of deliverance. About ten years later when I was depressed, like an alcoholic returning to the bottle to self-medicate, I started slipping back into porn.

As God would have it, a little company in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, developed some material to address porn and sexual addiction. And again by the providence of God, my brother-in-law was approached by this company to come on board to help promote the product. Then he sent me the material to get my opinion. The material was called Freedom Begins Here. This material convicted me of backsliding, but more than that, it made me realize I was not alone and that there was hope. Like any addict, I always have to be on guard because pornography will always be a strong temptation, but with God’s help and materials out on the market and churches that promote transparency and seeking help with our issues, there is a future and a hope.

Jeff Fowler

Read Jeff's story here

Summertime Survival for Wives

Summertime used to be my favorite season...that is up until my heart and mind was tainted due to my husband's addiction to porn. As a young person and even into my young adult years, I loved all that summer represented including swimming pools, beaches, water parks, suntanning, boating, hiking, biking and the great outdoors.  However, throughout the years of my heart being wounded, something changed in me.  The season I used to look forward to and enjoy immensely, I began to dread. As each summer approached, my mind would fill with apprehensions and uneasiness.  I knew that as the temperatures went up, many would be stripping down to the bare minimum.  String bikinis, short shorts, crop tops, high hemlines, cleavage and simply put, bodies put on display just to catch the eye of MY husband...at least that is how it felt. Unfortunately, I began to resent everything to do with summer.   I know I am not alone.

Many women who have walked through the aftermath of their husband's sexual addiction experience the same overwhelming, unwanted feelings.  Though it is not talked about, there is a silent battle raging throughout the summer months for these precious and beautiful wives.

You see, if we are not careful, sexual betrayal can cause this hyper-sensitive response and insecurity in us towards anything and everything that we feel may cause our husbands to "lust".  We worry.  We fear. We wish we could just skip the season all together.  For many, this kind of stronghold becomes the new "normal" and instead of facing the root of the problem, those roots only grow deeper as each summer comes and goes.  Not good!  SO does it have to be this way?

Let's step back and think about this.  I don't know much but this I do know;  Summer comes every year, and our enemy knows He can use it to steal our JOY and cause us to miss out on creating so many beautiful memories and moments with our families. Friends, hasn't he stolen ENOUGH from us already?  He doesn't stop at trying to destroy our husbands with porn,  he is out to destroy us as well! He will use our husband's past, our already struggling insecurities, and God's beautiful season of summer to strip us of the very strength and dignity that God has already picked out for us to wear!  

SO, what's a girl to do? How can we overcome this and take back our summers?   There is no easy answer but this is what I came up with.

What we CAN'T do....(kind of obvious, but good reminders)

We can't protect our husbands from seeing beautiful women with lots of skin showing.
We can't change our culture and the trends of short shorts, low midriffs, string bikinis and cleavage galore.
We can't make our husband's look the other way.
We can't be hermits and live secluded from this sexualized culture.
We can't be our husband's Holy Spirit...though we may try, it will only hurt us more than it will help them. (trust me on this one!)

What we CAN do....

*We can get on our faces before God and ask Him to heal us from the unhealthy consequences that our husband's porn addiction has had upon our hearts and minds.

*We can release our husbands to God and trust Him to convict and speak to their heart when necessary.
We should be open and transparent with our husbands about our triggers and struggles. Once this is done, we must let it go. WE are responsible to be honest and to allow God to work in US.  It is our husband's responsibility to allow God to work in Him.

*We can quit watching our husbands to see if they are bouncing their eyes OR taking that second and third look. This is a hard one.  Let me stop here and say that in the initial days of recovery, I believe you should expect your husband to bounce his eyes and even look away as part of his steps towards deliverance. However, as time goes by and your husband continues to prove that he is serious about his recovery,  it may be you that needs to check to see if you are now the one obsessed with looking.  Not at others, of course but at your husband to "catch" him looking more than what you feel is appropriate. As wives, there is something in each of us that longs to be the ONE... the ONE our husband adores, the ONE he wants to look at, the ONE that catches his eye and keeps it.  Sometimes your husband may pass your watchful test and sometimes he won't.  Sisters, why do we let this control us and steal our peace? Why do we have to KNOW?  Lord help us! Where does trusting God with ALL of our hearts play out in these kind of scenarios?

We need a strategic battle plan on how to respond to OUR triggers...(again, it is OUR triggers, not our husband's triggers that we are to work on.  Every woman's battle plan will look a little different but here are some ideas to get you started.

1.  STOP scanning the area for women that you THINK will catch your husband's attention..  I know you do it...just stop! Has doing this helped you any?  Has it benefited your marriage?  Does it encourage you to be more like Jesus? YOU can overcome this!

2.  THINK GOD THOUGHTS. When you are feeling insecure and the need to watch your husband and what he looks at, stop.  Get a scripture that you can remind yourself of during this moment, or something to think about that turns your focus AWAY from your husband. This will take hard work and discipline at first. Do it and keep doing it.  It will get easier!

3.  PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME.  One sweet lady suggested that when you are going to be in an environment that you know is going to be hard for you and possibly your husband, be very intentional to start the day by getting into God's word and praying together and then end your day sharing about your day.

Consider this:
Think about how you feel when you go to dinner or out for fun with your girlfriends. You are not at all worried or concerned or feel threatened by the other women around you...how they look or how they are dressed.  Practice this same "freedom" with your husband.  ENJOY your time with him instead of allowing the enemy to torment your mind with imaginations and insecurities.  Life is way too short! Sister, Christ came to set you FREE and enable you to walk in divine freedom everyday!

Have you considered the root problem of what you are dealing with? Of course all wives want to be noticed, adored and the most beautiful woman in the eyes of their husband, but you and I both know that this goes beyond the normal feelings of a wife to a downright stronghold if we are not careful. I believe the hard truth is that within these insecurities is an ugly, stinkin' cesspool of jealousy, pride, and even fear.  ALL of which the bible talks about as SIN. Is it worth it?  Sin separates us from the very ONE who loves us unconditionally!  Seriously, no man on this earth is worth separating us from our Lord and Saviour.

Over the years, I have battled this very same yuckiness. So I get it.  I have won some and lost many.  However, since my husband began his recovery over five years ago,  I have been very intentional about where we go on vacation.  I believe in the get-go of recovery for both husband and wife, there may be a season that you forgo placing yourselves in environments that could cause issues for either spouse.  However, you can't stay stuck there, at least that is not what my heart desires. In the last five years, we have been to the beach one time and it was not easy.  Do I remember the moments that upset me, NO.  But what I do remember is allowing my insecurities to steal my peace, my joy and oneness with my husband.  Just next week, we will return  there.  It has been several years now since our last visit.  We have grown, we have matured some and we are further along on this journey of healing and restoration.  Am I worried? I am not sure if worried is really the appropriate word.  I am more concerned than anything.  No so much about my husband but about me.  I want to let go of my pride, my selfishness, my past and take back the JOY of summer!  It is not up to my husband, it is up to me. I WILL be implementing some of the things listed above.  I WILL choose ahead of time how I am going to respond to my insecurities and that choice is easy when I remember that my security is NOT in my husband, but in my God who is with me, for me and loves me extravagantly. You see,  Jesus and I have been through a lot together and I know in my heart He is faithful as He has proven Himself time and time again. I believe you have experienced that, as well!   It is Him who makes me brave and able to overcome the messiness this unintended journey has brought upon my heart.  He has clothed me with strength and dignity and I will choose to act like it and think like it! I will not allow the enemy to strip me of the beauty that God sent His son to purchase for me!

What about you?  Are you ready  to experience freedom and actually have some summer fun for a change?  The truth is, the only real security you and I have in this life comes from our relationship with Christ. Is that enough for you?  Let. It. be. Sister, even if your husband was to never struggle with eyes that wonder, He will fail you in some other area.  He is not God, nor should he be elevated to a place in your heart that gives him the power to steal your peace and joy.  Lean into Jesus and pray for a deeper revelation of how very much you are loved. God created you unique and special.  Remember who you are in Christ and do NOT throw away your confidence with the changing seasons! Now go, sweet friend and ENJOY the rest of your summer!

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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Fear of God or Fear of Man

So who do we fear? Well I think this is an easy answer in the culture we live in today. We all fear man more than we fear God. This week I met a man who has had a struggle with pornography for years. He has had some recovery but never total freedom from this addition.

But recently he has decided to live in a “fear relationship” with God. He doesn’t mean the fear that we all think of where the God of heaven is looking down and pointing a finger. He is talking about the fear where we understand that we are in His presence and have reverence for His glory. Remember when Moses met God at the burning bush? He was in awe of His glory and when he came down with the Commandments his face glowed—and he never even saw God face to face!

My point is that we need to fear God in a good way. He loves us and will only extend love when we put Him in a place of honor and respect. Today we say we fear God but in reality we have more fear for what people think of us. Most of us hide our secrets from each other and we confess them to God but nothing changes because we have not fully surrendered our sin. We continue to live in shame, guilt and fear that we will be viewed less than perfect so we don’t expose our sin.

This last week I was at a men’s group where we discussed the struggle with pornography openly. It was a very open discussion about the struggles each of us face in the culture today as it pertains to lust and pornography. One of the men stayed after and spoke with the leader about his struggle. They prayed and sought God on this issue. The man began to see the hold this sin had on this life. So he was bold enough to start the conversation towards his freedom. He overcame the fear of man and trusted God that He would be there for him.

Your struggle may be pornography or it may be something else that is holding you from true intimacy with Christ. One of the first steps we need to take is to ask ourselves the question, whom do we fear? Do we fear God in a way that we hide like Adam and Eve or do we come to God and face our sin like David did so often?

These are important issues that we need to face. Living a transparent life first starts with determining who are we master to, God or Man? Who do we submit to, God or Man? My thoughts are we need to be less concerned about man’s perception of us than we are about God’s view of us. When we come clean with Him, there is a freedom that comes only through the Holy Spirit.

So who are you going to FEAR?

Battle for your Mind!

Think about what is happening when we give into a sin.  Our battle is on two fronts.  One is in our mind and the other is the spiritual battle we have going on.  Sometimes I think we want to blame the spiritual battle for most of our issues but sometimes it is just us losing the battle in our own inner man.

 

What can I say; I see it in my own life.  It becomes a battle with me to think I deserve something and then it becomes a fantasy.  Well God has no desire for us to live in that fantasy world.  He wants us to face life as a real person with all our emotions.  Sometimes we have had trauma in our own life that will not allow us to face these issues.  If that is true for you then please seek professional help to deal with these issues on both fronts, clinically and spiritually.  Sometimes it is our view of God that distorts our thinking.   We don’t have a clear view of how he feels about us.

 

On the spiritual side we do have an enemy (Satan) and his goal is to destroy, steal, and rob us of any value from God.  He (Satan) loves to plant thoughts that we get sucked into that make us feel less about ourselves when we give in.  I heard some say they have grown comfortable with throwing off the thoughts that the enemy brings into their mind.  I was impressed with their ability to do this because I personally continue to fail at this in my own life.  We have to start to review almost every thought to make sure it lines up with “Jesus thoughts” in Scripture.  So the passage “Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” is a minute-by-minute choice.  So Brent, are you asking me to do this?  Well we need to start someplace so if we practice this and see results we will be encouraged to continue pursuing it.

 

As Jesus states, come and try it.  Remember you have tried to fix yourself like I have. Controlling our thoughts is going to take something more than we can do on our own.  Remember as Christians we have the Holy Spirit residing in us so let’s use an amazing resource that the Trinity has given us.

 

Our mind is the ultimate place Satan can motivate us to make choices.  If we use the resources God has provided us to live in His Spirit we may see changes in areas we have never seen before.

 

Remember where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Freedom!  I don’t know about you but that sounds like a good place to be!