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Posts Tagged ‘confession’

So what’s up with the Turtle?

I am happy to have returned to the blogospeher, even if not as regularly as I would like.  And I am happy to be praying, even if not as regularly as I’d like.  As a turtle, I move and change slowly.  My best hope is that movement is in the right direction.

Last week we took a roadtrip with my youngest daughter.  She loves elephants, so we drove to Kansas City and saw elephants.  I’ve never spent any time in Kansas City before.  It is a fun town with lots to see (besides elephants).  Lots of fountains and monuments, music and barbecue, shopping and museums.

I really enjoyed spending time with family and I know the time was good for me.

… and yet.

And yet I did act out.  There was some time when my wife and daughter left to do some swimming or shopping and I stayed behind.  And I acted out.  I looked at internet pornography while they were away.  

Very disappointing.  I wonder some times if I am even trying.  Don’t I want to get better?

Still … I am trying.

I am back at the office and trying to work daily prayer back into my life.  I am trying to check-in with accountability partners.  I am trying to be honest when I blog.

Lord Jesus,

Have mercy on me a sinner!  And grant me the grace to want to do what is right and the strength to surrender to what is right.  May my struggles bring you glory.

Amen.

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RETURN OF THE TURTLE?

I really don’t know …

But I do know I have been struggling lately.  No, I haven’t gone off the deep-end into a series of acting-out episodes.  But I have been casually looking at pornography on the internet several times a week.  And that is not who I want to be.

Or do I?  Is it ok if I have this one vice if I manage everything else?  Part of me wants the answer to be “Yes.”  Part of me wants it to be normal, ok, and even healthy.  But my conscience doesn’t buy it.

So I am struggling.  I am wandering from the straight path.  But I am not wandering far enough to fell the exigency of the situation.  It might be better if I failed … bottomed out … found out how serious this problem is.  Then I might be ready for surrender.

But today … today I still believe I can handle it.  I can be in control.  I am a man and I am strong. Today I see surrender as weakness.

But in my heart I know that surrender is the strongest thing a man could do.  Admit my weakness and walk in the light.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

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So here I am again. Down on my knees again. Hanging my head again. Crawling again. Struggling again. Ready to get up again.

… and start over.

… again.

I have been silent on this blog (or relatively quiet at least) for several months. There are a number of factors, not the least of which is the fact that I can no longer access my blog while I am at the office. But perhaps the biggest factor – at least the biggest factor to go unacknowledged by me – is that I have been struggling and I have been ambivalent to the struggle.

But now it’s time to get back on the path to redemption. It’s time for rigorous honesty. Time for the truth. Time for the naked truth.

Hello. My name is David H and I am a sex addict. I am addicted to the use of internet pornography. I have been struggling with this pain and addiction in one form or another since I was in college. I recognize myself as having crossed over the line to addiction during my third year at law school.

My addiction started as a way to cope with pain, loneliness, and difficulties going to sleep at night. In college I would masturbate almost daily just so I could sleep. In law school I purchased a Playboy magazine for the first time. Later that year I discovered the incredible anonymity of the internet.

Being able to look at pornography without having to pay for it and without anyone else knowing I was using it was an enticement too great for me to handle. Soon I was staying up until 3 or 4 in the morning on an almost daily basis searching for more and more. Enjoying the high of arousal and relishing the incredible ecstasy of orgasm.

I continued to succeed in law school and didn’t see the harm. I was a Christian but just wrote the whole thing off to being a “healthy male.” I was a liar and a thief. I lied to myself and my family and I stole time from them.

It was not until 2004 that I recognized my pornography use as a problem. By that time I was in a second marriage and had been blessed by God with a new wife and a new family. And I was still a Christian.

I tried several routes to overcome my addictive behavior. I started with Christ-based group therapy, then participated in a twelve-step group, and finally broke off with a core group of Christian men all trying to fight the same addiction.

I experienced some success with each stage of the fight. I could go for periods of time without acting out and would openly confess my actions when I did act out. I gradually reduced the frequency with which I acted out … for a while.

But then …

Then I would slide into a period of binging and find myself a slave to the behavior I abhorred so much. It would interfere with my work, with my family, and with my friends. I would escape and isolate myself and turn only to pornography. And I would lose all of the joy in my life.

No joy in family.

No joy in work.

No joy in friends.

No joy in reading.

No joy in music.

No joy.

Just an unquenchable thirst for a drug which required more and more time for a return of less and less pleasure.

Then came the Battle. On May 2, 2009 I went to an event called Every Man’s Battle at a church in Minnesota. I had recently had another binge and was afraid I was at the point where I would have to concede that I could not change. I was feeling trapped into the lifestyle of pornography use and feeling hopeless. I was broken and ready to surrender.

The Battle gave me new tools and a Christ-centered approach. I replaced the goal of sobriety with the goal of purity. I learned about eye-bouncing. I committed to a 16-week course of weekly meetings.

And God granted me the gift of purity.

I was pure for 8 months. Then I slipped. Then I was pure for another 2 months. Then I slipped again.

Then I entered into a new (and desperate) phase. I began to think about acting out again. I began to think of the old rationalizations. I began to lie to myself.

It’s ok.

I’m not hurting anybody.

I can control it.

It’s better than before.

I’m not an addict anymore so it’s ok every now and then.

And I slowly descended back into the hell from which I had escaped. And my prayer life dried up. And I began to isolate at home.

And all the while I convinced myself that I was still ok.

But I’m not.

My name is David H and I am a sex addict. I am addicted to the use of internet pornography. I have traded God and his grace for the fleeting images of a computer …

Lord Jesus, if it be your will you can heal me. Please reach out to this poor and lonely sinner. Please give me the chance that I don’t deserve. Please call me to you that I may turn away from my sin.

I surrender, Jesus.

I surrender today.

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Photobucket

Yesterday I acted out. I viewed pornography while at work. Despite my increased vigilance about bouncing my eyes, I acted out. Satan did an end-around — I skipped lusting with my eyes and engaged in fantasy about a woman in my mind. Immediately the floodgates were opened and I ran to my mistress — the computer.

Aaaaaaaagh!!!!

How can I claim to love God or love my wife when I act this way?

Well … fortunately it doesn’t end there. The question is what am I gonna do about it?

I have been engaging in a new — short — morning devotional during the season of Lent. I start by reading a chapter of scripture and then I do some short prayer around the acronym ACTS: (i) Adoration, (ii) Confession, (iii) Thanksgiving, (iv) Supplication. I have really been focusing on the daily confession portion of this devotional and it helps me to be more accountable for my daily shortcomings.

As I went through the confession this morning, I felt a bit cheap. I knew that God knew all about my acting out and I also knew that I had made a conscious choice to engage in this sinful behavior. Confession just didn’t seem complete. I began to think about repentance and how it builds on confession. Repentance focuses on changing the sinful behavior. Of course, that is exactly what I have been trying to do for some time now. So does that mean repentance is out of reach?

I did want to make something genuine out of this morning’s confession, however, so I kept thinking about it. I focused on my daily prayer in which I make a covenant with my eyes not to look at a woman with lust (Job 31:1). How can this covenant be made more real?

Then it occurred to me that most legal covenants are made in the presence of witnesses. So I decided to share my covenant with my SALT Brothers and made my oath to Christ regarding this covenant in their presence (at least over the phone).

I have felt some movement in my heart since this morning. I am feeling some of the buoyancy of forgiveness. I know that feeling the forgiveness doesn’t make it more real — the forgiveness of Christ purchased by his blood on the cross is as real as any fact in this world. But I have some peace from these feelings anyway.

I think this is another start. A Brand New Day!

+++

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HAIL TO THE SALT BRIGADE!

The SALT Brigade met again on Friday. The first part of the meeting involved confessions. It seems we had each struggled over the past seven days.

But an issue was identified early in the meeting: What is proper disclosure? Two of us had simply acknowledged that we had “acted out.”

NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

We talked as a group about accountability and our goals. We are trying to attain sexual purity. And one of the first steps is to defeat addictive sexual behavior. Such act6s must be held up to the light — the full light!

In order to grow, we must be specific about the nature of our sexual sins. We must come clean with our brothers or we are still hiding behind lies. And lies are where Satan is on his solid ground. So we came to an agreement that we will be specific in confessing our sexual sin as we march forward.

Friday was also a time for setting fences. It was time to post a rear guard and make a plan during a time of strength for a coming time of weakness.

My wife is going out of town for an educational convention and I will be home alone, caring for the children for five days. This will definitely create some stress, anger, and loneliness — and it will give me ample opportunity to pursue sexual lust.

So I have committed to calling each of my accountability partners every day while my wife is gone and giving a full and truthful account of how the Battle is going in my wife’s absence. If they do not hear from me, they will call me and hold me accountable for each day.

Thank you, SALT Brothers!!!

S-A-L-T: Standing Against Lust Together

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HAIL TO THE SALT BRIGADE!

The SALT Brigade met again this morning. We are three brothers — Standing Against Lust Together — who have a weekly conference call to check-in and pursue purity together.

The meeting format is very simple:

  • Open with Prayer

  • Check-In using the F-I-N-S format (Feelings, Issues, Needs, Sobriety)

  • Discussion of Issues that have come up

  • Looking to the week ahead and Setting Up Fences if needed

  • Closing in Prayer

These simple meetings are proving to be very powerful. I think there are a couple of things that really contribute to this. First, this is a Christ-centered group and that provides us with a vision for more than just sobriety — we fight for the purification of the Bride of Christ. Second, there are just three of us — there is no room to hide; we each hold each other up and ask for details. Third, we have made a commitment to being rigorously honest — even when the truth is going to be painful to share. This honesty has helped us to confess our sins and release those burdens, giving us a chance to accept the help Christ offers to stay clean while moving forward.

Today’s meeting was another powerful working of the Holy Spirit. D talked about his relapse last weekend and how the confession of that acting out on Monday had enabled him to be clean for the remainder of the week. T talked about a new commitment to daily prayer in the morning and how the confession element of that prayer has really strengthened him — he has also been clean since Monday. R talked about an area of sin he has been hiding for the past couple of weeks. He had started going to the library and using the internet to find personal adds and massages on Craig’s list. R came clean today and he has agreed to tear his library card in half and mail one part to T and one part to D.

I am so thankful for these meetings and this group of close brothers. We are three-or-more gathered together in the name of Jesus, we pray to start our meetings, and we confess to each other things we have never told anyone else. At the end of each meeting I feel a sense of strength, renewal, and joy. To be a Christian is not to be perfect — it is to be loved and forgiven!

Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ who came to bring us forgiveness from our sins!!!

S-A-L-T: Standing Against Lust Together

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When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.

For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Selah

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD “—
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.

+ Psalm 32:3-5

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

+ The 5th Step, AA, SAA

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