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October 17, 2008

Comments

r.m.

I totally agree that PBD is toxic and must be dealt with lest pride become a killer of joy. Even Corrie ten Boom said that it was of greater difficulty to surrender her goodness or virtue when falsely accused than anything else.. One must be careful or this mentality can become a trap that has at its core the lie that begins and ends with my self-importance and my denial of a finished work at the cross. How amazing though, when surrendered, a new freedom is made available that we did not even know existed.....

MBV

I think both brothers were of the same mind - one "acted out" and the other "acted in." The older brother's heart was juat as far from his father's as his siblings - he too went to a far country. He just did not have the guts to do what his younger brother did. He maintained correct outward behavior, but did it for the wrong reasons. In the juxtaposition of the two brothers, I think our Lord would have us examine our motives. Why do we do the things we do? Do we have a heart of love toward our father or do we just want our inheritance (our due)? True servive comes from true love...

Bo

Fabulous observation MBV! Especially the part, “I think our Lord would have us examine our motives.” Nice! Do you think that the “acting out” of the prodigal gave the prodigal an advantage in his restoration? What are the implications of “acting in?” I love this observation!

I’d like to identify the father’s actions in this parable. In verse twenty, notice the verb saw. In what direction was he looking? He was looking into the distance. Implication: the father was actively looking for his son’s arrival home. He was not sitting in his lazy boy reading the newspaper when out of his peripheral he noticed movement in the window. No, he was waiting patiently.

When the father identified his son in the distance, what did he see? Perhaps a ragged robe with frays and holes covered in dirt, mud and maybe the feces of swine. What did he smell like? Ever been to a true hog pen? It is truly an acquired smell. It’s awful! What did he have on his person? Nothing. So the son is a sub-standard picture of what society sets as the standard. Society says he is filthy scum who deserves no attention or a second chance (of course this the Jewish society of Jesus’ day).

Now the father knows his own when he sees them. From the day his son left to the day his son appeared on the horizon, the father was looking. He couldn’t help but feel compassion for him and that compassion led him to run to him in the distance. Upon approach, the father hugged his son and kissed him. When I hug my son or my wife, it’s because I want them to know I love them.

Is the church today a picture of the father in the parable of the prodigal son? Does the church look for those down trodden and broken? Does your church look for those down trodden and broken? I’m not talking about providing a “group” for the broken (although this a very good thing if there is safety, honesty, trust and transparency within the group). I’m talking about the congregation and the clergy. Is there acceptance of, oh say, homosexuals in you congregation? “Of course there is?” But do you inside of your heart, inside of your body and mind feel comfortable with that person in your midst? Are you worried about their eternal life or are you worried about an advance being made? Are you worried about their restoration and recovery or are you worried about contracting HIV just because you’re under the same roof. Does your church create a safe environment for those who are desperate? Desperate to break free from the bondage that keeps them in the darkness that is Satan? If a man stood up in your congregation Sunday morning and said, “I am addicted to pornography! I want help!” Would you run to that man and shower him with grace and love or would you sit in the pew afraid of the stigma that might attach itself you?

The father is God in this parable. Should not the church, moreover Christians, reflect the character of God? Does your congregation rejoice and throw a party when someone repents of their sin and admits they are desperate? I am a recovering sex addict and the church does fail those who are desperate because pride is vicious bondage just as pornography is vicious bondage. Satan loves to keep us in bondage. God loves to free us from bondage. Just as the prodigal son chose to come home, so we must choose to break free from what keeps us unhealthy.

p.s. Notice the long journey the prodigal son took (isolation) and the convenience he had to destroy him. Surely it was a long, tough, painful journey to get home with nothing to aid him but the hope envisioned of his father’s mercy. There is pain on the journey to recovery, but when we get home there is freedom. Amen!

Jim Fleming

Thanks, Bo, for your candor and transparency. May God bless you with all the riches of His grace and propel your progress in becoming the man He wants you to be. Thanks for your reminder of who Father is.

I want to think that Collierville Bible Church is a safe place that answers to your questions. But perhaps that is wishful thinking and not reality - maybe some other L-W readers will comment who have some personal experiences to share.

MBV

Hey Bo: We sex addicts have to stick together man. Thanks for taking a risk and putting that out there. Blessings to you on your journey to freedom and recovery brother.

I began my own journey to freedom from sexual addiction four years ago in a conversation with Pastor Jim. While no church is perfect, I can say that CBC is a "safe place" for those who are in recovery. This is embodied at CBC in the form of a group called Graceland Men's Fellowship. GMF is a place where men can meet and encourage one another in transparency and authenticity. If you (or any other L-W reader) would like to know more about GMF, contact Jim and he'll fwd the request to me.

Blessings brother.

Jeff

I can vouch for CBC and GMF as well, if it'll help you. Like MBV said, we sex addicts need each other. My recovery started about a year ago with the crew.

Bo

I agree. We addicts, in general, need to stick together.

Question to MBV and Jeff: Has your church been informed of what addiction is or what it entails? Do they know how very easy it is for youth to develop addictions/habits? Do they know they are not the only ones in their congregation who struggle with whatever it is they struggle with, addiction or not? (1Peter 5:10) [e.g. porn, divorce, lying, anger, etc…] How has your church helped its congregation to become transparent with one another? Does your church provide “workshops” for the congregation as well as the community? What does your church do to promote awareness?

Bo

I find it interesting that at one point this post had 9% interest compared to other posts, but very few comments. I suspect "a lot" of L-W readers can relate to this post and subsequent comments, but just don’t know what to do with it or are afraid to let their “secret” see some light. Rick Warren once said, “We have, at some point in our lives, worn “masks” to cover up our flaws or wounds; but others see right through those “masks.” They don’t fool anyone nor help us at all.” (rough paraphrase)

MBV

Hey Bo: I am in recovery because of Jim - the author of this blog. I started this journey 4 yrs ago. I told Jim my story (practicing teh discipline of confession) and he steered me to some great resources that got me on the path to recovery. I checked in with him periodically throughout my journey and then debriefed with the elders of the church at the end of the process. As far as I know I was the first man in my church to use the 12 steps for sexual addiction recovery.

Last summer, I felt the Lord leading me to start a group at the church. We now have 14 guys that meet weekly to work on their own journey to recovery. We are a band of brothers (btw, if you live in the Memphis area you are certainly welcome to join us - contact Jim and he will connect us).

So to answer your question - I would say that CBC is growing in its acceptance and understanding of sexual addiction and recovery. We aren't "there" yet but we are definitely on the path.

Jeff

Hi Bo,
In answer to your question about youth, I think the leadership at the church is aware of the trials the youth have regarding addictions and habits. And I think they'd like to get there in dealing with these issues, but it's being considered very carefully before whatever plan is instituted. Not just for the subject itself, sexual immorality for example, but because of some wounds that still need to be healed up from other issues, as much with parents as with the kids. So it's in process, I think.

Bo

Jeff-
Would you say that parents in general are claiming “wounds” as a wall to put between them and the issue of sexual immorality and the what not as it pertains to their children?

Jeff

Ummm...I appreciate the intent of the question, but I think answering it would not be prudent. I will say that whatever wounds that came about, I know they're real and while I may have reservations in trusting some of the parents' motives, I trust our elders and their carefully measured steps.

Bo

MBV-
It thrills me so to know that you are building a bridge in your church. Just as Christ made a bridge for sinners to spend eternity with God, so your bridge allows sex addicts to know and come to Christ as well as the church to know what addiction is all about. Please stay the course. The fact that you are willing to engage in a correspondence that the world can see-and to admit that you are addicted to sex or the nuances of sex-tells me that you understand GOD’S GRACE. GOD’S COMPLETELY, TOTALLY, ABSOLUTELY FREE GRACE! If only the entire body of Christ understood GOD’S GRACE.

There are so many people, including CHRISTIANS, who are suffering in isolation and darkness and wear the chains of bondage that Satan is so willing to offer. Internet pornography is destroying our country, our culture, our world, our minds, and our hearts. Not to mention our marriages. So many marriages are abandoned because someone did not understand GOD’S GRACE. My wife understands GOD’S GRACE! That’s why I’m still married today! PRAISE GOD!

As I stand on my soap box, I would like to ask the L-W females a few questions. If your husband came to you and confessed his sin of engagement with pornography, would you be able to demonstrate GOD’S GRACE? Would you be able to accept that his addiction to pornography is not about you in any way, shape, form or fashion? Will you be faithful to your marriage vows? Will you forgive him from his immorality? Will you help to cleanse him from all unrighteousness? GOD does. Will you be strong for him and sacrifice your needs for the sake of his recovery process. Will you do all you can to understand who, what, when, where, why and how of the addiction that Satan uses to keep him in bondage? When men escape bondage, it is only then that GOD can begin to use them. There is a reason why men develop addictions or anyone for that matter. It is not about you females. There is someone in your church who can relate to your situation because they have had the same experience (1 Peter 5:8-11). Just ask.

MBV, if you are married, can you attest to the role of a wife in the confession and recovery process? If you cannot, can you tell us of the journey of one who has been shunned?

Any thoughts Jeff? Any thoughts from females with this very experience? This is an excellent opportunity to minister to those who are hurting.

Bo

UNDESERVERD GRACE that is! Sorry!

Bo

We do not deserve GOD'S GRACE. We deserve eternal seperation from God complete with weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Randy

Bo
As I read all of your questions/expectations of L-W females, I can't help from wondering what your response would be if the roles were reversed and your wife came to you with the same confession. What would go through your mind if she said, it has nothing to do with you males? Also, I can see where grace would be more easily extended when one willingly comes and confesses, but often it is a matter of getting caught. There's a difference.

Jeff

I would suggest the Samaritan woman and the woman about to be stoned got caught. The offer of grace didn't change, even if man's expectations in the situation would have.

Hmmm...ok, herein lies the problem I'm having right now. I come here with the intent of not being anonymous. Hi, I'm Jeff Rademaker, I'm a sex addict working on recovery and I have two goals today: to be used by God to honor him and to make it to midnight without looking at porn. To continue the conversation as it's heading, I think I'd violate my wife's privacy and I'm not willing to hinder that here. I REALLLLLLLLLLY want to answer in a straight-forward manner, but it would put her into a position she didn't ask to be in. So I need to refrain from answering as it is.

MBV

Hey Bo,

Nice soap box. I seriously doubt if I would be here if were not for my wife. When people hear our story they ask her "why did you stay with him?" She is a wise woman and like you suggest knew from early on in our marriage that my struggle was not about her. I call her "God's grace with skin on." She has helped many wives walk with their man through this.

A man whose wife stands beside him has a much easier path to walk than one who goes it alone. It is not impossible - just vastly more difficult.

Jeff

That I absolutely agree with. My wife knows my junk and she's shown grace in action.

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