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Posted by on May 22, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

3 Things That Kept This Pastor Stuck

xxxchurch - 3 Things That Kept This Pastor On PornI can clearly remember the crushing weight of carrying my secret porn addiction onto the church stage each week. It felt like a million pounds on my chest. At times I wondered whether or not a person could die from stress. If so, I certainly felt like a candidate.

I would regularly commit to myself that this will be the last time, only to find myself feeling frustrated and defeated after ‘acting out’ again. I felt like I had tried everything. I used X3watch. I tried avoiding the internet. I got “accountabili-buddies.” I prayed, pleaded, and begged God to save me from myself. But no matter what I did, the problem only seemed to get worse.

My life went on like that for twelve frustrating years before I finally found a sponsor, a support group, and, eventually, my freedom. Since then I’ve not only learned how to break the bonds of addiction in my life, I’ve also learned a lot about what I did that kept me living out destructive patterns over and over again.

If you’re anything like me and you are still carrying around a secret that is killing you, watch out for these things. One or some of them could be why you’re still struggling to find success.

1. Pride is chronic. 

Everyone is prideful to some degree – no one is immune. It was pride that drove me to say things like, “If I could just…” or “All I need to do is…” But the truth is, I was powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing. And my life had become unmanageable. (If those last two sentences sound familiar, it’s because they’re two of the twelve steps in recovery.)

If you’re struggling to conquer your sin, a prideful attitude may be what’s standing in your way. In that case, the prescription is to work toward understanding that you’re powerless. This can be tough for pastors and church leaders, because we’re supposed to have all the answers, right? But even we are powerless against our addictions, and the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can get a handle on them.

2. A jacked-up view of God.

God is all powerful, right? Of course, He is! I never had a problem believing that. I grew up going to church and was always completely familiar with God’s power. My problem was that I didn’t believe God wanted to help ME. I prayed fervently for God to remove my affliction. When He didn’t seem to be doing so, I took it as evidence that He was done with me.

If that resonates with you, then you’re experiencing shame. Shame is the belief that, while others simply make mistakes, you ARE a mistake. Breaking away from shame is no easy task, but it can be done. If you need a good place to begin, start with what the Bible says about you in 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:37-39.

3. It wasn’t painful enough yet. 

One time I called my sponsor after I had just relapsed. I whined about my defeat and asked why I had failed. I’ll never forget his response:

Any living creature, in pain for long enough, will eventually do something about it. I know you’re in pain, but maybe you’re not in enough pain to do what is necessary for you to get better. It’s not the end of the world. It just means you haven’t hit your bottom yet. Don’t worry you’ll get there.”

I did, and it hurt. But it finally hurt enough for me to do something about it.

Do you see any or all of these three things happening in your life? Today can be the day of your redemption, the day you turn it around for good.

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Posted by on Jun 23, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

3 Things That Kept This Pastor On Porn

3-things-that-kept-this-pastor-on-porn-blogI can clearly remember the crushing weight of carrying my secret porn addiction onto the church stage each week. It felt like a million pounds on my chest. At times I wondered whether or not a person could die from stress. If so, I certainly felt like a candidate.

I would regularly commit to myself that this will be the last time, only to find myself feeling frustrated and defeated after ‘acting out’ again. I felt like I had tried everything. I used X3watch. I tried avoiding the internet. I got “accountabili-buddies.” I prayed, pleaded, and begged God to save me from myself. But no matter what I did, the problem only seemed to get worse.

My life went on like that for twelve frustrating years before I finally found a sponsor, a support group, and, eventually, my sobriety. Since then I’ve not only learned how to break the bonds of addiction in my life, I’ve also learned a lot about what I did that kept me living out destructive patterns over and over again.

If you’re anything like me and you are still carrying around a secret that is killing you, watch out for these things. One or some of them could be why you’re still struggling to find success.

1. Pride is chronic. 

Everyone is prideful to some degree – no one is immune. It was pride that drove me to say things like, “If I could just…” or “All I need to do is…” But the truth is, I was powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing. And my life had become unmanageable. (If those last two sentences sound familiar, it’s because they’re two of the twelve steps in recovery.)

If you’re struggling to conquer your sin, a prideful attitude may be what’s standing in your way. In that case, the prescription is to work toward understanding that you’re powerless. This can be tough for pastors and church leaders, because we’re supposed to have all the answers, right? But even we are powerless against our addictions, and the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can get a handle on them.

2. A jacked-up view of God.
God is all powerful, right? Of course He is! I never had a problem believing that. I grew up going to church and was always completely familiar with God’s power. My problem was that I didn’t believe God wanted to help ME. I prayed fervently for God to remove my affliction. When He didn’t seem to be doing so, I took it as evidence that He was done with me.

If that resonates with you, then you’re experiencing shame. Shame is the belief that, while others simply make mistakes, you ARE a mistake (Tweet This!). Breaking away from shame is no easy task, but it can be done. If you need a good place to begin, start with what the Bible says about you in 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:37-39.

3. It wasn’t painful enough yet. 

One time I called my sponsor after I had just relapsed. I whined about my defeat, and asked why I had failed. I’ll never forget his response:

Any living creature, in pain for long enough, will eventually do something about it. I know you’re in pain, but maybe you’re not in enough pain to do what is necessary for you to get better. It’s not the end of the world. It just means you haven’t hit your bottom yet. Don’t worry you’ll get there.”

I did, and it hurt. But it finally hurt enough for me to do something about it.

Do you see any or all of these three things happening in your life? Today can be the day of your redemption, the day you turn it around for good (Tweet This!).

 

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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

8 Can’t-Miss Ways to Ruin Your Church with a Porn Problem

ChurchDoes anyone else ever get tired of seeing pastors or churches blow up in sex or pornography scandals? I don’t say this to bash those who have fallen. In fact my heart goes out to them. I say this because as a Christian and pastor, I find it discouraging.

Not because I think Christians shouldn’t ever screw up.

Not because these situations make us the butt end of a joke.

Not even because we look like hypocrites.

I get discouraged because, quite honestly, these situations could have often been avoided if pastors and leaders took a more serious stance on pornography issues in their own churches. It’s like they invite problems by their inaction and indecision.

So, with that in mind, I thought I would lay out an 8-point plan to make sure porn becomes a major issue in your church. Listen, if you want to see your church ravaged by a sex or porn scandal, then follow this plan and you are well on your way.

1.  Don’t ever talk about it. Don’t mention it. Don’t discuss it in your small groups. Basically act like it just isn’t happening. This helps people feel more at ease while avoiding the uncomfortable side effects of conviction.

2.  If you do talk about it, be generic. When you do have to refer to pornography or sex addiction use the general terms “addictions” or maybe “strongholds” if you want to sound super spiritual. Never specify the type of addiction! This should always be avoided at all costs, otherwise someone may feel singled out and motivated to do something about his or her issues. It is much easier to deflect if you keep the conversation broad and non-specific.

3.  Never preach on the topic! This is a big one. Preaching about sexual sin (particularly pornography) will only cause your congregation great distress. If you do feel the need to preach on more controversial topics tackle something like stewardship or prosperous living – that’s cutting edge. Keep it upbeat and don’t dwell on the reality of broken lives and marriages. Nobody likes a “Debbie downer” sermon.

4.  Don’t offer any resources dealing with these issues. Let’s face it; if you don’t offer solutions, then people can keep ignoring the problem. Stick with Bibles, Hillsong CDs, and DVD packs of your last sermon series. You are much better off keeping with the basics.

5.  Keep people isolated. Don’t offer a recovery or support program for people dealing with sex or porn addiction. Porn addiction is a lonely road. Better to let those people suffer in silence rather than giving them some real support.

6.  Throw the widest net possible. If you are going to start some sort of accountability or support group then keep it very general. Trust me, a person who’s spending his life savings on escorts and strippers will feel far more comfortable talking about it with people who have never experienced the same problems. May I even suggest keeping it co-ed so everybody can join in on the fun!

7.  Don’t insist that your leaders follow any sort of accountability practices. Avoid software like X3watch at all costs. Leaders are in short supply, so why stretch yourselves any further by discovering that a key member of your team is deep in sexual addiction, requiring them to temporarily step down and get some help. Don’t worry, you’ll find out soon enough about their problems when it goes public in the news.

8.  Delay, delay, delay. Lastly, if someone in your church or even outside your church approaches you about tackling sexual sin more aggressively smoothly sidestep the issue with statements like: “It’s not the right season” or “That’s a good point but right now we are focused on strengthening our Sunday school program.” (Let’s be honest – the only person who would argue with that second one must hate kids.) If they are really persistent and won’t go away, you can always resort to labeling them a critic or naysayer and question their loyalty to God’s house. You know, make it about their dissatisfaction and not your lack of action.

So there you go. Eight can’t-miss ways to make sure porn or sex becomes a real issue in your church (Tweet This!). It’s actually pretty easy. The key is DO NOTHING.

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Posted by on Apr 26, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

I’m a Pastor and I Look At Porn.

I-am-a-pastor-and-I-look-at-porn-blogI’ve had two conversations lately with senior pastors who found themselves in bad situations. After years of hidden porn addiction, they decided they didn’t want to keep living like this, so they confessed to their wives and then called me to talk about their next steps.

Out of every hundred calls I get, only two are ever like this. Two from pastors who didn’t get caught, who came clean on their own before their addiction progressed to strip clubs, hiring prostitutes, office affairs, or anything else.

I don’t care if they’re pastors or not: these guys are brave. These guys will break free because they are no longer living with the shame and guilt and secrets.

Think about it for a second… Could you come clean without getting caught first? (Tweet This!) I want to say I could, but it’s very difficult to be certain about that.

So what’s next for these guys?

With their wives’ support, some fantastic friends around them, and a few great resources, these guys will be fine in their personal lives and in their hearts. When you make the decision to come clean and break free from porn, you have a much better chance of long-lasting healing than when someone else makes the decision for you.

That’s the good news. But now comes the question: what about their jobs?

If they worked for the government, they would have no problem. Heck, Obama’s aides were getting prostitutes on a recent trip, and they just got sent home. But since these men are pastors who work and run churches, they do have a problem, and this is what sucks.

I offered to talk to their boards and do whatever I can to keep these guys in their jobs. Why? Because they are brave, courageous, and had enough integrity to come clean before they get caught. They will be able now to relate to so many more people in their congregation because of this. This is real life stuff that is messy — and that should be okay. It’s a tremendous example to our churches that life is messy. After all, Jesus came for the sick not the healthy and I think we expect way too much of our pastors to think they are the healthiest ones in the congregation.

Sometimes — more than you think — pastors are the sickest.

If either of these pastors’ churches fires them, then we have it all wrong. They’re upholding a backward standard:

Confess your sin = lose your job
Conceal your sin = keep your job

I have a hard time with the Ted Haggards of this world and other TV guys who have blown their ministries and families into pieces, been caught, and who were able to step right back into ministry. If you get caught, the consequences should be way more severe; if you come clean on your own, there should be grace given and extended.

If these churches fire these guys, then they send a message to the rest of your staff and congregation, making it all the harder for them to come clean on their own. If we want people to live free of this stuff, we have to encourage honesty and openness, and when people do that we can’t push them out the door.

Confess your sin = keep your job
Conceal your sin = lose your job

Too harsh? Why risk it? Oh, and you can probably replace the word “job” with “marriage” in there as well, because it will be a lot easier to restore that if you come clean on your own.

The path to freedom begins with you being honest with yourself and with others.

Get open.

–Craig

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Posted by on Mar 21, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Your Story Is A Comedy

Comedy

You thought we didn’t know. 


You thought it was a secret. 


But the truth is out for both pastors and youth pastors: sexual sin is destroying you.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, then it’s because you already know you’re risking everything, and you’re at this site trying to keep the pieces together before they shatter.

 All I have for you is encouragement.

For many of you, I’d imagine your experience was as follows: you did the right things, learned the right doctrines, preached the right sermons, and you were likable. You got the job and the wife to accompany you.

But the entire time, you had a shadowed interest, a dark desire. You thought that your embrace of it would stop when you said, “I do.” You truly believed God would redeem your purity through the marriage bed he blessed. Then the realities of life hit you like a locomotive, and since you are not Superman, you went to back to that old well of forbidden water.


Again.

And Again.

And Again.

Now you are drunk on it, perhaps worse than you ever imagined. You love your wife and don’t know how you’d live without her. Meanwhile, everyone in your congregation is coming to you for help, guidance, and assistance regarding the very issue that haunts you. Each day you walk along the edge of a knife. One false step and you’ll bleed. You are dying inside your soul as a result.

Sound familiar?
 Or was that just me?

I know it. Frankly, I have days when I’m glad I rebelled as much as I did in my twenties so as never to find myself in a position as difficult as yours. You are in a terrifying place. Your confession could cost you your job, so you keep it to yourself, longing for deliverance by will or by miracle. However it comes, you’ll take it.



Well, today it has arrived. 



Remember, you are already delivered from this sin. When Christ died on the cross and you accepted him, thereafter, your slate was washed clean. That you have already beaten this thing is the spiritual truth and reality. Your victorious status before God cannot be contested. So, regardless of what happens when you begin processing this, be reminded: Your story is a comedy; ultimately, it will have a happy ending. 
Do not let it become a tragedy while you are still here. 



So here is my challenge to you: start living in that reality now. Embrace your redemption, even at earthly loss, for eternal glory truly awaits you. Pastors, hear me. You can still serve our Lord after this. In this. Through this. 


Yes, it will cost you. 


It may cost you a wealth of earthly things—prestige, employment, and income; but the spiritual tax you are paying to hold on to this secret is far more expensive. The internet is full of stories of men like you who have had their lives destroyed by their sin. 


You have help. 


You have support. 


Use it.

And then let God use you.



Your story is never finished (Tweet This!).

—–

What’s you story? We want to hear it.


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Posted by on Feb 14, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

The Cost of Forgiveness

ForgivenessI once heard it said that the greatest reason we forgive is not necessarily for the other person’s benefit, but for our own healing. What I think we often forget is that forgiveness comes with a cost attached to it. It means that we refuse to hold onto the offense, hurt, regret, or anger we so desperately think belongs to us.

For so many of us who once struggled with a sexual addiction — and for many who still do — the sparks that triggered the addiction became a well of hurt and pain in our lives. Much of the pain we felt was self-inflicted, caused by our own decisions. Some of that pain was caused by the hands of others. Either way, from the pain and traumas we have experienced in life, many of us try to soothe the pain through using porn or having casual sex. For others, it’s fantasizing about the opposite sex or the same sex.

And while these kinds of addictions have devastated our lives and caused major problems, I would suggest there is much greater collateral damage caused by things such as anger, resentment, jealousy, and bitterness in the deep recesses of our hearts.

Jesus came to offer Himself so that we didn’t have to be eternally separated from God. We now had a choice in the matter. It’s also so important we realize that He came to take away the shame that we feel from our sin. This includes our deepest hurts and pains.

Seeing that we have been shown unprecedented grace from an unfathomable Forgiver, why do we withhold that same kind of forgiveness from ourselves and others? I think for many, the thought is that their sexual struggles are too dark, too dirty, or just unforgivable. Or, if they have been hurt by others, it’s impossible to trust again.

All of these are real mindsets. But the greater reality lies in the fact that while God has forgiven us of our sexual sins, when we choose to forgive ourselves and others, we experience incredible healing from sexual addiction.

One of the greatest resources I’ve used personally to understand that forgiveness is very much apart of my recovery is X3pure. X3pure is an incredible online workshop that takes individuals dealing with sexual brokenness on a journey towards recovery by educating them on what sexual addiction really is and how to heal from it.

In addition to learning the “how-tos” and the practical stuff for abstaining from porn use, I learned the “whys” about where my addiction really came from — that includes the traumas and pain I experienced in life. It was truly a lifesaver for me to walk through the X3pure workshop (Tweet This!).

Grace and forgiveness has been freely given to us for all of our failures. It’s time we learn to truly accept that forgiveness and offer it freely to others!

[Start your healing today at X3pure.com. Signup and get 20% off with code FORGIVE]


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