Breaking the Chains of Addiction

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I spoke on addiction today at Revolution Church. If you missed it, you can listen to it here.

As a way to help men and women stuck in what seems a losing battle against addiction, temptation, negative emotions and be able to move forward by choosing the hard right over the easy wrong, here is a list of resources we put together to help.

My good friend Brian Howard also has a blog about 4 ways to protect your house from porn, which I would highly recommend if that is a struggle for you or your kids.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

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  • What a weekend at Revolution Church
  • I love the first day of a series
  • And yesterday did not disappoint
  • As you can see here
  • Katie and I taught together on what it means to be made in the image of God
  • The implications of this is not just for women and how they see themselves, but also for men and how they see themselves and the world around them
  • Lots of people getting prayed for after the sermon
  • Love seeing that
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here
  • We also celebrated baptism yesterday
  • Love hearing the stories of life change and seeing the power of the gospel
  • Nothing like it
  • We also had one of our highest attendances ever
  • Love seeing our volunteers jump into action and helping guests park and find seats
  • We are getting ready to kick off our next FPU class
  • If you want to change your finances, get out of debt, plan for the future, go here
  • Friday, I got to perform the wedding of Joey and Bernadette Morrin
  • So fun being a part of their wedding
  • The weather was incredible for an outdoor wedding in Tucson
  • I’m blown away the emails I’ve gotten about the Beautiful series so far
  • It seems like it is definitely striking a chord
  • It’s sad the bondage that many women live with
  • I’m talking this Sunday about how to be free from your past as you move forward into your future
  • So many people let their past be a compass for their future and it is heartbreaking
  • All of this makes me really excited to kick Fight off in a few weeks and talk to men
  • I’m sad that this Sunday is the last football game in a long time
  • Love football season
  • Thankfully the Olympics start soon afterward
  • My kids can’t get over how excited they are for the Olympics
  • Having lunch today with a new Revolutionary
  • Love meeting new people at our church and helping them get better connected
  • Say a prayer that this coming Sunday is even bigger than this past Sunday
  • Lots of freedom waiting to happen as we apply 2 Corinthians 5:17 in our lives
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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Porn hurts women.

Imagine being the woman who has to convince herself not to take it personally when her husband would rather “whet his appetite” by ogling another woman. It’s just the way men are wired; they can’t help it. It’s got nothing to do with me.But her man arouses himself with enhanced, airbrushed images of nineteen year-olds willing to humiliate and abuse themselves. It’s hard to pretend everything’s alright when she’s pretty sure he’s thinking of other women while he has sex with her.

Ron Edmondson on How physical training helps spiritual training.

One would have to be living under a rock to not know we have grown larger as a people in the United States. Obesity is a growing concern in our nation. And, few in the church have bothered with the issue or even seen it as a problem. We have no problem addressing issues such as greed or guilt, but seldom do we approach the word gluttony. Yet, in my opinion, and experience, how I feel physically almost always impacts my spiritual life.

When women lust.

We all know that men struggle with lust. But what about women? While it’s becoming more common to hear of women’s struggles with pornography use, many women still perceive that they have the moral high ground over men. Such comparisons don’t help because men and women often struggle in different ways.

 

Stephen Altrogge on The internet makes us all miserable.

In the good old days of jealousy and comparison and coveting, we compared ourselves to those close to us. When someone near to us succeeded, we felt like a failure. But the good old days are gone. Now, thanks to the Internet, we can feel like failures all the time.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Adam Ramsey on 5 ways to bomb a sermon.

By far the most common mistake I see early on in preachers is telling your students what they ought to do, without showing them again and again what Jesus has done.

Ryan Huguley on 5 reasons why your resolutions will fail.

An estimated 92% of all people fail to follow through on the resolutions they set. Some people are critical of resolutions for this very reason. The reality is, when pursued through typical means, new year’s resolutions produce typical results – which is to say, none.

Frank Bruni on In 2014, tweet less, read more.

For more than two decades, there’s been a celebration of slow food. Over the last few years, we’ve proved receptive to slow TV. What we really need is slow debate. It would trade the sugary highs and lows of rapid-fire outrage for a more balanced diet. We’d be healthier. Probably happier, too.

Mark Driscoll on The porn brain.

As Dr. Struthers writes, “Pornography teaches its students to focus on the physiology of sexual sensations and not on the relationships for which these sensations are intended.” Ultimately porn defiles the concept of intimacy and destroys the original God-glorifying intent for sex. By consistently pursuing pornography, men “have unknowingly created a neurological circuit that imprisons their ability to see women rightly as created in God’s image,” Struthers concludes.

Don’t make a resolution, find a word.

What if one word could transform your life?

Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace

bookAs I have been working ahead and preparing for sermons this coming spring at Revolution, one of the books I read for our man series called Fight is the book, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace (kindle version) by Heath Lambert is easily the most helpful, grace filled, gospel centered book on fighting temptation, pornography addiction and lust.

Here is one thing that sets this book apart:

This book is not about pornography. This book is not about the pornography industry. This book is not about the catastrophic effects of pornography. The purpose of this book is not to rewire your brain when it comes to pornography. This book is about something much better than pornography. This book is about the amazing power of Jesus Christ to free you from pornography.

What follows are 8 strategies the power of the gospel gives you to fight pornography: using sorrow, accountability, radical measures, confession, your spouse (or singleness), humility, gratitude, and a dynamic relationship with Jesus.

One of the things Lambert said that really stuck out to me is that humility is one of the best tools to fighting porn addiction (or any addiction). Addiction is an issue of a prideful heart.

Here are some things I highlighted:

  • Jesus Christ died to set you free from every sin that can be committed. That includes pornography.
  • When you believe in God’s grab towards you, you get God’s righteousness.
  • God’s grace pardons you and forgives your sin, and God’s grace empowers you to live differently and be obedient to him.
  • The first step in repentance is talk to God and tell him about your sin.
  • Mental punishments are not helpful because they deal with sin in a self-centered way instead of a Christ-centered way.
  • Jesus’ grace to change you is stronger than pornography’s power to destroy you.
  • Worldly sorrow is sad over losing the things of the world, while the focus of godly sorrow is God himself. Godly sorrow is pained over the break in relationship with God. It is heartbroken that God has been grieved and offended. The tears of godly sorrow flow from the sadness that God’s loving and holy law has been broken.
  • The person full of godly sorrow has a heart that wants to please God rather than self. Godly sorrow motivates real and lasting change.
  • Godly sorrow hates the sin itself. Godly sorrow feels the horror of disobedience and weeps over the reality of a heart that chose transgression over faithfulness.
  • To find freedom from pornography, you will need to employ radical measures in at least three areas. You look at porn when you have the desire to see it, when you have the time to look at it, and when it is available to you. Nobody looks at pornography without all three of these elements coming together. In your fight to be free from pornography, you must learn to take radical steps to eliminate each one.
  • The Bible promises that there is no prosperity for those who cover up their sin.
  • The circle of your confession should be as broad as the circle of your sin.
  • You can never stop thinking about something by trying to not to think about it. If you want to get something out of your mind, you must begin thinking about something else.
  • God wants to change your thinking, not by having us focus on the things we’re trying to quit thinking about, but by replacing old, sinful thoughts with new, righteous thoughts.
  • God wants you to quit thinking about porn and start thinking about your wife.
  • Whenever your thoughts begin to drift toward porn, see this mental drift as an alarm reminding you to pray for grace to refocus your thoughts on your spouse.
  • If you look at pornography, you are arrogant.
  • Every bad thing you do flows from an arrogant heart that is selfishly ambitious.
  • Men look at pornography out of an arrogant desire to see women in a way that God does not allow. They show arrogant defiance to God’s commands, rejecting the delight of sexual intimacy in marriage and deciding for themselves what they believe is better – looking at naked women in porn. They show arrogant disregard for God’s call to selfless marital love. They show arrogant derision for the female actresses whom they should be seeking to respect as who women who need to hear the good news of Jesus. They show arrogant disdain for their own children by hiding their sin and inviting the enemy into their home and their marriage. They show arrogant disrespect toward all those who would be scandalized if their sin was known. The root problem with men who look at porn is not neediness – it is arrogance.
  • Men who struggle with pornography often see pornography as their only sin.
  • If you struggle with porn, one of your greatest needs is to grow in the grace of gratitude.
  • Porn is only consumed by thankless people.
  • Porn is the trading of gratitude for greed. Porn trades joy in the reality God has graced you with for greed in the counterfeit world he has not. Defeating porn requires a grateful consideration of God’s good gifts to you.
  • You should not seek a dynamic relationship with Jesus because you want to be finished with porn. You should not seek a dynamic relationship with Jesus for any purpose other than knowing Jesus.
  • Your struggle isn’t just to avoid looking at porn. It’s much more glorious than that. You have the unspeakable privilege of being invited to have a real relationship with the Savior of your soul who alone has the Father’s seal of approval.
  • You cannot look at Jesus and look at porn at the same time. You have to stop doing one to do the other. A living, breathing relationship with the Savior of the world will drive porn out of your life quicker than anything else.

When it comes to recommendation for men and women fighting lust, temptation, porn addiction, this is the first book I will recommend to them.

Every Saturday I share a review of a book I’ve read recently. If you want to see some of the past books I’ve reviewed, go here.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Matt Walsh on Abstinence is unrealistic and old fashioned.

You could ask any married person who slept with other people before meeting their spouse (I wouldn’t recommend actually asking this, I’m just trying to illustrate a point here): are you happy about it? Are you glad that you gave yourself to someone other than the person you now love eternally? If you could go back to those times, would you stop yourself? Was it worth it? Really, was it worth it? Do you wish you could say that your spouse is the only person who has experienced these intimate, sacred moments with you? Are you proud that there are other men or women in the world who have seen this side of you? Are you satisfied that what you give to your spouse is now secondhand?

Don Carson on 6 reasons not to abandon expository preaching.

I distinguish expository preaching from topical preaching, textual preaching, and others, for the expository sermon must be controlled by a Scripture text or texts. Expository preaching emerges directly and demonstrably from a passage or passages of Scripture.

Men, how being fat can destroy your family.

Those knees sound like broken glass yet? How about the constant back pain? No energy, you say? Out of breath? Does any of this surprise you? It shouldn’t! You probably could have prevented all of these things by shedding some of that extra tonnage you’re carrying around.

Scott Williams on Learn to expect great things.

Success and great things come to those who expect it and those who step out and make it happen. The key to success is living from the spirit of expectancy.

So, “Atheist Mega-Churches” are a thing.

To have a service when there’s no One you’re serving…well, that would be like inviting friends over for a movie night, but staring at a blank wall. The concept is good, but the execution is empty.

Addie Zierman on 5 church phrases that are scaring off Millenials.

Here is what I can tell you about millennials: We grew up on easy answers, catchphrases and cliché, and if we’ve learned anything, it’s that things are almost always more complicated than that.

Thom Rainer on Thank you pastor’s wife. This is so true. You should thank your pastor’s wife.

You may have one of the most thankless roles in the world. You receive no compensation, but there are many expectations of you. At times you are expected to be omnipresent; and other times you are expected to be invisible. Rarely at any of those times does anyone express gratitude to you. Thank you pastor’s wife.

Tuesday Morning Book Review || Sex & Money

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Every Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Sex & Money: Pleasures that Leave You Empty and Grace that Satisfies (kindle version) by Paul David Tripp.

This is an incredibly important book. I can’t emphasize that enough.

At the beginning, Tripp gives us a picture of where he is going and why this book is needed:

Neither sex nor money can deliver the promises that we think they’re making, and each area is more dangerous than we tend to think. Both function today in the surrounding culture like spiritual solvents eating away at the very fabric of human community. Both have the perverse power to master your heart and in so doing determine the direction of your life. Both give you the buzz that you’re in control  while at the very same time becoming the master that progressively chains you to their control. Both off you an inner sense of well-being while having no capacity whatsoever to satisfy and craving more. Both hold out the possibility of finally being satisfied but instead cause you to envy whoever it is that has more and better than you do. Both sell you the lie that physical pleasure is that pathway to spiritual peace. Both are work of the Creator’s hands but tend to promise you what only the Creator can deliver. Both are beautiful in themselves but have become distorted and dangerous by means of the fall.

If you struggle with sexual sin, being open in your marriage about past hurts, have dealt with sexual abuse or addiction, you should read this book. If you struggle to see the beauty of your body or pleasure or how your sexuality can lead you to worship Jesus, you should read this book. If you struggle with money, debt, buying things you can’t afford, worrying about others approving of you because of your stuff, you should read this book.

Probably, if you are reading this review, you should read this book.

Here’s a video of Paul Tripp explaining why the book is needed:

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. How to uncomplicate your life.
  2. Russell Moore on How to explain the same sex marriage debate to your kids.
  3. Preachers of L.A. I can’t believe this is real.
  4. Tim Challies on 8 ways Satan convinces you to question your salvation.
  5. Joe Thorn on How open air preaching went.
  6. Walt Mueller on Teens and plastic surgery. If you are a parent of teenagers or a student pastor, you should be reading Walt’s blog.
  7. 10 things every Christian should know about Islam.

How to Help Someone Find Freedom from an Addiction

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I get asked a lot based on my past how to help someone find freedom from an addiction. I’ve shared in numerous places about my addiction to porn from when I was 11 until I was 21 and then my food addiction that followed that. I can honestly say now that I am 34 and have found freedom from these, it feels good. But, freedom is a long road. My wife Katie talks about her part as my wife in that journey here.

When someone asks me how to help someone find freedom from an addiction or the first steps in this process, here are the most important things:

They must want to be free. 

This may seem obvious, but everyone who asks for help in an area doesn’t truly want help. Too often people are looking for attention, wanting to be the victim or simply draw attention to something or someone. People like being helped and like being seen.

There was a guy who every week would post on his connection card at my church that he would like prayer for an addiction. This went on for over a year. I finally talked to him and asked, “How long is this going to be a prayer request? Are you doing anything to move away from this addiction?” The answer was no.

I knew a woman who said she wanted to be free from an addiction, yet every time I or someone else stepped in to give accountability or help her with it, she would balk. It wasn’t until she lost her job because of that addiction that something changed.

One thing I ask people is, “Are you willing to do whatever it takes to be free?” Any hesitation in the answer often shows a desire to stay in their addiction.

Freedom from an addiction is hard work. It might take years. You will always be in recovery, a moment away from wrecking your life and falling back into your addiction. I know that without boundaries I could very easily fall back into old patterns. The reason freedom is so hard is because those patterns have become an enormous part of our lives.

Identify the “why” behind their addiction. 

Often in talking about freedom, we jump to what to do. Things someone can and should do to be free. Accountability groups, software, cutting up credit cards, breaking off relationships with the wrong people, getting rid of a TV or certain clothes.

These have their place and are helpful.

If you don’t identify why you do something, you won’t find freedom from the real issue. 

That issue is your heart. For me, I simply traded a porn addiction for a food addiction. Both are dangerous and destructive in their own ways. The one main difference is that no one in a church will say anything to you if you put 100 pounds on in a year. Think of a vending machine of sins, going up and picking one. Without identifying the heart issues, we will simply do this.

What drives you to spend money you don’t have? To look at porn? To hoard your money? To work too much or too little? Why do you gossip and put people down? Why do you want to control everything?

The answer to these questions will identify the why behind any addiction you could fall into.

Identify the “when” of their addiction. 

The last thing someone needs to do is identify when they are most likely to fall into this. Closely related to the why question, understanding when you’ll do something will enable you to create an action plan. Are you most tempted when you are tired? In front of the TV? By yourself? With a certain friend? In a certain place? Where and when does it happen?

By identifying these things, you are able to uncover a good process to find freedom from the addictions that hamper your life.

What would you add? If someone asked you this question. 

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