In Christ, You Reflect God’s Light

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! (Ephesians 5:8)

In ChristHave you ever tried to stop light from spreading? You can put your hand over a flashlight in a dark room, but the light will still spill out around your fingers. It may even shine through them, causing them to glow pink in the thinner spots.

Sure, you could put a bucket over the flashlight, but would the light really be gone? Not at all. The inside of that bucket would still be lit up even if you couldn’t see it from the outside.

The light of Christ has the same effect within you. You used to be full of darkness, but now His light is illuminating your insides, giving life to your soul. Whether you see it or not, it’s there. And nothing will ever be able to turn it off.

However, just like the flashlight, it’s up to us whether we share it with others. We can keep it hidden, or we can allow it to shine on those around us.  Jesus made it pretty clear what He is hoping you will choose though.

So don’t hide God’s light. Let it shine! Love others with the love of Christ. Offer the same grace and forgiveness that He offered you.

Be a beacon of hope for those who are still wandering in the darkness.

After all, isn’t that what it means to live as people of light?

How are you reflecting God’s light to others?

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Book Review: Fathered by God

Fathered by GodA few years back my counselor recommended I read Wild at Heart to help me understand how my addiction was fueled by misunderstandings of how God made me as a man.

To say that book changed my view of what Biblical masculinity looks like would be an understatement.

As much as I enjoyed Wild at Heart though, I believe Fathered by God is perhaps even more helpful for men who struggle with living as the man God calls them to be.

Where Wild at Heart teaches us about how God has made us as men, Fathered by God shows us the path He wants to walk us through to bring us into that position of authentic, Biblical masculinity.

In Fathered by God, John Eldredge outlines the six stages of manhood that God walks every man through over the course of their life. There are lessons to be learned—that must be learned—in every stage:

Boyhood

“We must remember that above all else, boyhood is the time of affirmation, the time when a boy comes to learn deeply that he is the beloved son… Without this bedrock of affirmation this core of assurance, a man will move unsteadily through the rest of his life, trying to prove his worth and earn belovedness through performance or achievement, through sex, or in a thousand other ways.”

Cowboy

“A notable shift begins to take place in the boy’s soul as he approaches his teens, a yearning for real adventure. Something inside tells him that he needs to prove himself, needs to be tested. He wants to learn how to do things—how to drive a car, to hunt birds, to build a loft in his room. And now the question of a man’s soul begins to present itself in nearly everything the boy-becoming-a-young-man does: Do I have what it takes?”

Warrior

“The recovery of the warrior is absolutely crucial to the recovery of a man. All else rests on this, for you will have to fight, my brothers, for everything you desire and everything you hold dear in this world. Despite what you feel, or what you may have been told, you have a warrior’s heart, because you bear the image of God. And He will train you to become a great warrior, if you’ll let Him.”

Lover

“Learning to be loved, and learning to love, learning to be romanced, and learning to romance—that is what this stage is all about. Not duty. Not merely discipline. But an awakening of our hearts to the beauty and love of God, and at the same time, we offer our hearts as well—to God, to the women in our lives, to our sons and daughters, to others.”

King

“[A good king] uses all he has to make his kingdom like the kingdom of Heaven for the sake of the people who live under his rule… Most of the men I know in some position of power and influence [kings] are not holy enough to handle even what they do have, and they are doing damage as we speak. They operate out of their business training and “principles of leadership,” they operate out of a great deal of their own brokenness, but they do not, on any sort of regular basis, check in with God, submit to Him, live as a man yielding his plans to Him.”

Sage

“There comes a time when a king must yield his throne. This does not mean failure. It means it’s time to become a sage, and let another man be king… It will appear that at this stage a man’s “kingdom” may be shrinking—he retires from his career position, perhaps moves into a smaller home or apartment, lives on a fixed income. But, his influence should actually increase.”

If a man is wounded in any of these stages (or skips over any of them completely), he will miss the lesson it has for him. He will move forward in life with holes in his masculinity, functioning as an incomplete man.

But God, as our loving Father, wants to bring us back into these overlooked stages to teach us what we missed. He wants to heal those gaps in our development and raise us up as His beloved sons into authentic, Biblical masculinity.

This is the message of Fathered by God—a message that can give any man hope, no matter what stage of life he is in.

Smart Quote of the Week: Michael John Cusick

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Thoughts on this quote? Feel free to discuss them in the comments below.

Weekly Web (W)roundup

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Each week, we roundup the best links, articles, and videos we find that are relevant to finding freedom from pornography addiction. Please note that by posting a link here it doesn’t necessarily mean we agree with everything in the linked article. It just means we found it interesting enough to share.


Tim Challies: Samson and the Pirate Monks 

“I find books like this easy to dismiss, perhaps especially because so many of us have tried accountability relationships and found them wanting…But then I think about men I know and wonder how they would receive this book and, even better, the kind of relationships it models. And then I realize that men are desperate for exactly what Larkin describes here.”

People of the Second Chance: 3 Truths to Live By

“If we live by these 3 truths every day, we will live in a radical place of freedom for God’s glory, all because of His goodness.”

Storyline: What To Say When Everything Is Not “Fine”

“Every interaction we have is a holy one. And if we knew the real story of the person in line at the grocery store or the friend we pass on the street, we’d speak differently to one another.”

Pastor Bob: Why do Bad things Happen to Good People?

In Christ, You are Welcome in God’s Presence

 Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence (Ephesians 3:12).

Who You are In ChristBefore the cross, only the high priest could come into the presence of God. There was a thick curtain that separated the room where God dwelled—the Holy of Holies—from the rest of the temple. If anyone other than the high priest dared to go behind this curtain, they would have died instantly.

This was such a serious deal that even the high priest had to go through a thorough cleansing process before entering. And even then, the other priests would tie a bell and a rope around his ankle. If the bell went silent, it meant the high priest had died, which is why the rope was there—to pull his corpse back out if need be.

This may all seem harsh, but it’s the reality of what happens when a sinful person enters into the presence of God’s holiness.

God had a plan to solve this separation though. He sent Jesus to pay for our sins with His death, which tore the curtain in two, proving to us that we have all gained the right to come into God’s presence. There is no longer any separation for us because our sin is no longer an issue. It has been paid for in full. Thanks to Jesus, we can now come into God’s presence boldly and with confidence.

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Free Music Downloads: Esterlyn

Worship Wednesdays

About once-a-month, on a Wednesday (hence the name: Worship Wednesdays), I will share one of my favorite albums I’ve been listening to. Most of these will be from NoiseTrade, the internet’s best source for free music and eBook downloads.


Esterlyn - WovenEsterlyn: Woven

Confession: I love Coldplay. There’s just something about music with orchestral backing, pop riffs, and melodic vocals that I can’t get enough of.

There, I said it.

Given that embarrassing fact about my taste in music, it’s no surprise that I absolutely love this new album from Esterlyn.

Unlike Coldplay, though, Esterlyn requires no explanation to justify enjoyment. Their talented combination of passionate worship lyrics and catchy pop melodies blends perfectly into what I would consider one of the best worship albums I’ve heard in a while.

Just try to listen to “Holy” without tapping your foot.

I dare you.

From NoiseTrade: We are a tapestry. God is the artist. We all have one short life to live. It can be easy to get discouraged with the pain, misfortune, and hurt that we all experience. We pray this album will remind us that we are all on a journey- one that the Lord has predestined before the foundations of the world. There will be heartache in life that we don’t understand but we must remember that God makes beauty from the ashes. May each of our lives be a small piece of God’s great masterpiece to reveal His great love to this world. May this album remind us to reflect on God’s character and nature and His great love for you and I! May we find peace in the fact that our Lord never changes. May we give our hearts, our resources, and our time to the one who is mending the meaning.

Smart Quote of the Week: Brother Lawrence

“If you would go forward in the spiritual life, you must avoid relying on the subtle conclusions and fine reasonings of the unaided intellect. Unhappy they who seek to satisfy their desire within!” —Brother Lawrence

Thoughts on this quote? Feel free to discuss them in the comments below.

Reader Q/A: How do you Cope with a Highly Active Sex Drive?

Question: How do I cope with my highly active sex drive?

Reader Q/A

First things first, I am not a doctor or a scientist. That being said, I can tell you from my own personal experience of being celibate for multiple years now that one’s libido is somewhat adjustable.

When I was at the peak of my addiction, it was not uncommon for me to have 5+ orgasms a day. I couldn’t even make it through an 8-hour shift of delivering pizzas without stopping once or twice at the adult bookstore preview booth.

At the time, I attributed this to an overactive sex drive.

In the past years though, my sex drive hasn’t completely shut off, but it doesn’t control me like it did before. Your body has a remarkable ability to self-regulate in this area. Yes, there will be a transition period as you down-regulate semen production and other related processes, but they will adjust with time.

I have wondered if my reduced libido these days is simply a result of my aging, but I do not believe that to be the case. I have become much healthier, lost a bunch of weight, and cleaned up my eating and sleep habits since those days—which means I actually have higher testosterone and increased fertility today. Yes, that is merely an N=1 observational study, but I believe its proof that sex drive goes much deeper than hormones.

As you transition down though, learn to love cold showers. I’m serious. It has been a life saver for me. I’ve found that if you alternate between 10-seconds hot and 20-seconds cold, it’s actually enjoyable (unlike the torture of a purely cold shower). It sounds crazy, but it works.

The Real Question You Need to Ask

All that being said, what if your sex drive isn’t actually producing the desire for acting out, but it’s actually the result of attempting to satisfy a deeper issue in your heart through ways that can bring true satisfaction?

Perhaps you’ve been “going to the well” to satisfy a thirst that can only be satisfied by Living Water.

After all, if you find a way to satisfy that need to where you “thirst” again, well, to me that sounds like freedom.

Thank you again for your question. I hope this answer helped bring you more clarity.

Grace and peace to you in Christ,
Stephen

This question was taken from the recent Reddit AMA I did for NoFapChristians.

If you have a question about pornography addiction, my personal story, or anything else for that matter, you can send it to me by filling out the form on the Contact page (or just click my picture in the sidebar on the right). I will do my best to answer every question personally and will never post your question without your permission.

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Weekly Web (W)roundup

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Each week, we roundup the best links, articles, and videos we find that are relevant to finding freedom from pornography addiction. Please note that by posting a link here it doesn’t necessarily mean we agree with everything in the linked article. It just means we found it interesting enough to share.


Miami Herald: Porn Creates Demand for Sex Trafficking 

“Scholar Dr. Catherine Mackinon says that consuming pornography is an ‘experience of bought sex and thus it creates a hunger to continue to purchase and objectify, and act out what is seen.’”

Gospel Coalition: Grace is Not a Thing

“Yes, God’s love meets us where we are, but it refuses to let us stay there. This is because when the grace of God takes root in your heart then it produces fruit in your life. God’s grace is not a matter of lowering his standards, it’s a matter of transforming his people.”

Dave Willis: 7 Common Marriage Wrecking Habits

“I have found, however, that there are some consistent habits that can undermine the bond between husband and wife and ultimately lead to divorce. This is not a comprehensive list, but below are some of the most common and most destructive bad habits in modern marriages.”

The Porn Pandemic: The Devastating Effects on Children, Family and Society

In Christ, You Were Once Far Away and Now Have Been Brought Near

But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)

Who You are In ChristEvery one of us was born separated from God because of our sin. This disease is in our hearts from birth, and sadly, there is nothing we can do about it. It has robbed our souls of life and keeps us far away from God.

Oh, we can try to control it or fix it, but nothing we do will ever be able to provide a solution for our sin. In fact, trying to get near to God through your own power will only exhaust you (as is so wonderfully illustrated by the great theologian of Sesame Street, Grover Monster).

But don’t lose hope my friend! We may come into this world far from God, but He desires nothing more than to reach out to us and pull us near to Him again. Which is why He sent His son Jesus to pay the penalty for your sin with His blood—providing the only antidote that would allow your soul to come alive and enter into God’s presence.

Because of what Jesus did for you on the Cross, you are no longer far away from God—you have been brought near!

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