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4 Vital Sources of Community You Can Find Today

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Today, nearly twelve years into recovery from a porn addiction that consumed the better part of my adolescent and young adult life, I’m convinced now more than ever of need for healthy community.

The presence of various forms of community are the greatest tools I carry, even to this day, in living victoriously.

It’s really not an overstatement to say that I don’t think I would be free today without the counseling I received, the encouragement from support groups, and the comfort I received from purity coaches along the way. ALL of these sources of support were needed in order for me to become the kind of man God was calling me to be.

One of my greatest missions in life is helping other men find the freedom that I found. And that includes finding healthy sources of community where they can share their addiction with people who will help them heal. All too often, men who struggle in addiction continue to struggle because they don’t have the necessary sources of community in their lives.

As I’ve gotten healthier and healthier in recovery, I’ve come to believe there are four vital sources of community that are available to every man out there. This isn’t to say that one needs all of these sources in their lives at every moment. But perhaps there are seasons where we keep 1-2 of these sources consistent either daily or weekly, depending on what they are.

Here are 4 vital sources of community you can find today:

  1. Coaches — I mention this one first because I believe there are so many “purity coaches” that are widely available at any given moment. There are countless ministries and organizations both locally and online that can be sought out for this purpose. A purity coach doesn’t even have to be a certified counselor. They simply need to be a person who has shared similar struggles and has found freedom from addiction. While I don’t hold any sort of counseling degree, I’ve long considered myself a purity coach to other men. I’ve spend countless hours on the phone and in in-person meetings with men as well as produced podcasts and videos in an attempt to coach individuals who want freedom for their lives. If you’re struggling today and need some coaching, I’d love to help you out.
  2. Groups — Mark my words: There is something about gathering together with 4 or 5 other guys who share the same (or different) struggles as you do. There’s something you can only receive and you can only give within the context of a group setting. Some of the most powerful moments of healing in my life came on Monday nights early on in recovery where I gathered with just a few other guys in the same room to talk about our week. The trust, the tears, and the camaraderie we shared is something I will never forget as long as I live. It was truly a priceless experience which helped me in so many ways. It was in that season where I felt my call deepen to help other men the same way I was being helped. Today, it can be hard to find groups like these in your local area. Factor in that along with the difficulties Covid has made in meeting together. But online organizations such as Small Groups Online make it incredibly easy to find a group at the time of your choosing that you can become apart of.
  3. Counselors — Spending time with a licensed counselor can be one of the most valuable opportunities for someone dealing with a sexual addiction. I often recommend to men to try and find a therapist in their area who is a certified sexual addiction therapist (CSAT). This person has specific education and training in this field. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend some time with a licensed Christian therapist who really helped me to understand the addiction I struggled with. The down side of counseling is that it can be incredibly expensive. But if you can afford even 2 sessions a month, I would encourage you to dedicate a season to try it.
  4. Pastors/Churches — While the local church isn’t the first place I would recommend someone go for support, I would definitely not disqualify it either. Many pastors & churches are not trained to be able to effectively help individuals in the area of sexual addiction. But finding a spiritual family where you can foster healthy relationships, receive solid biblical teaching, and participate in spirit-filled worship is one of the best things you can do for yourself in recovery. Remember, you’re building your support structure and getting yourself out of isolation. When you allow people in to see the real you, feelings like shame, anxiety, and hopelessness cannot survive. Your spiritual family can be an excellent source of support along your journey in recovery!

Here’s what you need to know: YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN YOUR RECOVERY. There are so many sources of support and community available to you. But YOU must be the one to want it and find it.

Contact Small Groups Online today if you’re interested in starting the journey of knowing and being known by others who also struggle like you do. Each week, you’ll have the opportunity to jump into a Zoom meeting hosted by a trained group leader waiting to get to meet you. You’ll also be invited to download and join the Live Free app where further communication and discussions are available to you throughout the week.

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Blog Sexual Purity

2 Ways Porn Negatively Affects Your Heart (and what YOU can do about it!) (BLOG)

Pop Quiz: What is your most valuable possession in life? Resist the temptation the answer that question quickly, because there is a wealth (pardon the pun) of things in life that we place tremendous value on. Some very consciously and some pretty sub-consciously.

Maybe it’s your 401K that you’ve been saving for years. Or maybe it’s that beautiful boat sitting in your garage (that you haven’t used in years). Sometimes it’s the really good things life that give great value and worth to: Our careers. Our homes. Our marriages. Our children.

But what if there were something within every single one of us that we were told is our most valuable possession…and we didn’t even know it?! The book of Proverbs says this:

“So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are. Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 TPT)

I love that in this single verse it essentially talks about the very possession we should guard above all other possessions: OUR HEART. We’re told to take care of our hearts. Not just our physical hearts from disease. But the very essence of who we are from unhealthy stuff in this world that tries to sneak in.

Most likely if you’re reading this article, you’ve found yourself in a place like I did where you discovered pornography and you just couldn’t stop consuming it. Perhaps you would say porn ultimately consumed you. Please understand, I don’t want you to feel shamed. I was in that same place for 13 years where I felt incredible guilt and disgust for what I was doing. I didn’t understand the gravity of what pornography was doing to my heart.

Thankfully, this August I’ll celebrate 12 years walking in freedom and healing from sexual addiction. And you can too! But it’s important to understand how pornography negatively affects our hearts to begin with. The effects can be long lasting and very harmful if they aren’t dealt with in a healthy way.

1. Porn teaches your heart to objectify people.

One of the most subversive effects that pornography and other sexually explicit material has upon the human heart is that attempts to teach us that people are simply objects devoid of value and worth. It says that men and women can be used, abused, undressed, and consumed simply because their job is to provide us with pleasure. THIS IS A LIE. The perversion of sexual intimacy isn’t a new concept. It goes back thousands of years and has only become worse in the society we live in. Which is why we need to combat this lie that people are simply meant to be treated like objects.

Psalm 139 speaks of the incredible value and worth of every person, because we have been created by God: “You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb. I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! You even formed every bone in my body when you created me in the secret place, carefully, skillfully shaping me from nothing to something. You saw who you created me to be before I became me!”

Don’t allow pornography to turn your heart into nothing more than a product. Your heart is valuable and so are the people you’re so tempted to fantasize about.

2. Porn undermines your ability to deal with pain.

The human heart was created to feel an array of emotions. From moments of intense joy and happiness to deep places of sadness and anger. The reality is that we’re all going to experience a vast array of emotions through our lifetimes. The question is: How do we deal with those powerful emotions and feelings?

One of the byproducts of pornography addiction is that it subverts an individual’s responsibility to deal with those emotions in healthy ways. Instead, we run from anything that is painful or even remotely uncomfortable. Boredom, loneliness, anger, stress, and fatigue are some of the most common feelings that an addict deals with. We often used the acronym B.L.A.S.T. (Bored, Angry, Lonely, Tired) in our online group to help us discuss the ways in which we’re triggered. It’s so important that we understand WHY we are driven to act out the way that we do.

A major turning point in a person’s addiction to porn is when they’re able to be honest with themselves about the kind of pain they are medicating with pornography. Pain must be addressed. It must be looked at before any kind of healing  can take place in a person’s life.

Remember, pornography is a problem. But it’s only the medication. The even greater problem is the pain underneath the surface you’ve refused to deal with for so long. That’s what you must get at.

“SO WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT ABOUT IT?” 

Glad you asked! There’s a ton you can do to get your heart healthy from porn addiction. Here’s a quick list:

  1. Find a trained therapist — Preferably one who is certified in sexual addiction therapy. CSAT’s are trained to specifically help those dealing with compulsive sexual addictions.
  2. Get accountability in your life — 2-3 safe, healthy people will really go a long way in your recovery journey. Meet with them weekly at the very minimum for encouragement and so they can ask you the tough questions.
  3. Protect your devices — I can’t tell you how many men I’ve talked with about their addiction that have no software protecting their devices. No filtering. No reporting. It’s almost as if you’re inviting porn to walk through your front door. That’s how easy it can be. Start with some great software that we trust: Ever Accountable.
  4. Join a support group in your community or small group in your church — Community is essential in recovery. We can’t be the men that God is calling us to be by trying to white-knuckle our way to healing. Small Groups Online offers a dynamic solution for this. Imagine a weekly Zoom meeting with 5-7 others men who share many of the same struggles as you. You will be encouraged by others and also have the opportunity to be the encourager in these meetings. Click here to find out more about Small Groups Online.
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Blog Sexual Purity

What Do You Want From Your Recovery In 2021? (BLOG)

If I were to ask you to make a wish list of your top five destinations you’d love to travel to in the entire world,  what would they be? Or what about a bucket list of ten or twenty things you’d like to do in your lifetime? No doubt many of you have already had those dreams.

Here’s a question: What do you want from your recovery in 2021? If I were to ask you to envision what kind of person you’d like to be on December 31, 2021, what kind of person would that be?

I really believe every year around this time we should be looking in two directions: backwards at the previous year we just walked through and forwards towards the new year. How have we grown? What lessons have we learned? Perhaps even a couple harder questions: Where have we struggled? Where have we declined in our progress?

But even more importantly, WHO do you want to become in 2021? No matter what 2020 was like, we need to press forward with the constant desire to get better. To heal more. To grow more. Remember that any mistakes you made this past year doesn’t discount all the progress you made. You’re not starting over from scratch. You have to keep moving.

No matter if you’re in your first year of recovery or your twentieth, there’s something you can do to get better. Consider your progress in the following areas and ask yourself where you can be strengthened:

  1. Community — Are you in a weekly small group or support group with others who share similar struggles that you have? There’s an element of healing that can only take place with other people by your side. Small Groups Online offers an excellent opportunity for you to find such a group.
  2. Accountability — Have you sought out 2-3 individuals in which you’re communicating with on a daily basis? As I’ve always stated, these need to be safe and healthy individuals who care about your heart. People who are spiritually mature and will be able to ask you the hard questions.
  3. Access — What does your access to the internet and social media look like? Is the door wide open or do you have specific software set up on your devices to guard you from sexually explicit content and/or things that would trigger you to act out? There are so many great solutions out there including Ever Accountable, which I would highly recommend.
  4. Heart — Last, and certainly the greatest as it relates to work you can be doing on your own: Are you actively taking care of your heart by giving it healthy outlets to process painful emotions and experiences? Have you discovered what specific triggers you have and what causes you to act out? Keeping the pulse on your heart should always be a priority.

Here’s the bottom line: Once you stop learning, you stop growing. I can remember the kind of person I was eleven years ago. And I never want to go back to being him again. I’ve worked too hard. Grown too much. Traveled too far.

2021 has the potential to be your greatest year yet! But it first requires a vision of where you want to be at the end of it. You’ll have all year to work at it, make progress, fall down, and get back up again. I’m so thankful for the grace that awaits us in 2021. 

As mentioned earlier, if you’re looking for an authentic community to share your struggles with, look no further than Small Groups Online. SGO is an incredible opportunity for you to meet others who are struggling the same way you are. It promises a safe and healthy atmosphere. Through communication with others in the group about your addiction, you will find a renewed sense of courage spring up in you to become a person of sexual integrity.

Check out Small Groups Online today!

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Blog Sexual Purity

5 People You Should Be Honest With About Your Porn Addiction

“Honesty is the best policy.” Perhaps you remember hearing this often repeated phrase in your childhood. I know I remember hearing it. As a child, I grew up learning that good things came from being honest. And bad things came from lying. Conviction came very easily for me a child as I think I had a pretty sensitive heart, which I would later learn could be both good and bad depending on the situation. But for the most part, I tried to be honest in everything I did. I knew that lying was wrong. It wasn’t until my world was literally shattered when I viewed hardcore pornography for the first time that I really began to learn how to lie.

What happened? The diabolical mixture of both excitement and shame broke down the walls of my heart and my mind. I entered a world that I didn’t know how to get out of. It was as if I could’t get enough of what I was watching. And yet at the same time, I hated it. This pattern continued in my life for 13 years — through middle school, high school, college, and even through a ministry position I took in a church. Thankfully, by the grace of God, I found freedom. I found a way out of the darkness. But it wasn’t until I rediscovered something I had lost early in adolescence: Honesty.

Honesty was and continues to be to this day one of the greatest keys to my freedom. Who did I need to get honest with? They are the same people I believe every man and woman must be honest with if they are to find the same freedom and healing I did. You must learn to cultivate honesty with the following people:

  1. Yourself — This is the first place that healing either starts or stops in a person’s life. For me, I had to come to a broken place, a place of reckoning where I became so aware of the state of my heart and how my addiction was affecting those around me. You’ve probably heard it described many times before as a “rock bottom” place. But even when I hit the bottom, I had to drop the shovel I was carrying. I had to stop digging the hole even deeper in an attempt to find fulfillment. My point of honesty finally occurred in two different places: In the face of complete devastation from my fiancé which then led me to a counselor’s office. I had to realize I wasn’t healthy. I was sick. My life was a complete lie. It wasn’t until I was really willing to bring all of the ugly into the light that I could take the first step.
  2. Your Spouse — The next person you need to be honest with is the person you’re meant to become one with: your spouse. And therein lies the reason why we always need to be 100% honest with them. To achieve that kind of unity with your husband or wife requires that they really know you. That you allow them to see inside of you. You don’t hide anything. You don’t keep secrets. You allow them to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. Even the ugly you think is too shameful. Perhaps you’re reading this and you’re not married yet. All the more reason why it’s so important to cultivate honesty in your life! If you are desiring to become married, your credibility tank needs to be full before, not after you say “I do” on the altar. Be honest with your spouse. Or, if you’re not married, be a person that someone can trust their life to when the day comes.
  3. Your Accountability Partner(s) — This may be one person or a few in your life. But an accountability partner’s specific job is to know you. And your specific job is to allow them to know you. It requires honesty with someone in order for them to effectively encourage and challenge you to be better. More than ourselves and our spouses, we need other men and women who are at a healthy place to be able to ask us the hard questions we don’t want to answer. Because the reality is we can’t walk on this journey alone. We can’t expect to get healthy by ourselves. We were never designed to live life alone.
  4. Your Support Group or Small Group — Another group of people we should be honest with about our pornography addiction is a support group or small group. The difference here between accountability partners and members of a support group is that within a support group there are other individuals like yourself who are also struggling. Part of the journey of healing is walking with others who need community just like you. Others whose lives have been broken because of addiction. One other note on this: The men and women in a support group are not only meant to be there for us, but we’re meant to be there for them too. You have something so valuable to offer to those without hope.
  5. Your God — Assuming you’re a person of faith, your honesty with the One who created you is so important. The ironic thing about this is that our God knows everything there is to know about us (see Psalm 139) and yet His desire is for truth to come from our lives. I love what Psalm 51:6 says in The Passion Translation: “I know that you delight to set your truth deep in my spirit. So come into the hidden places of my heart and teach me wisdom.” As I referenced earlier, it was only by the grace of God that I found ultimate freedom in my life. I believe this is one person that we cannot ignore on our quest to become healthy. He not only cares about your eternity…He cares about your heart too.

One of the greatest ways you could start your journey towards honesty is to become apart of a community that values and fosters the truth each and every week. Small Groups Online is that community. It promises a safe and healthy atmosphere with other men who struggle just like you. Through sharing time and communication with others in the group about your addiction, you will find a renewed sense of courage spring up in you to become a person of sexual integrity.

Don’t buy the lies anymore! Join Small Groups Online today!