12 Ideas To Foster Unity in the Body of Christ

As I was putting my bags of groceries into the trunk of my car on Monday my cart started to roll away when a middle-aged African American woman stopped it for me. My smile was automatic as I thanked her for her caring act. She said to me, ‘We need some kindness in this dark world.’ I responded, ‘Yes, we sure do, and I so appreciate you helping me! Do you happen to know Jesus?’ ‘Yes!’ she replied with a big smile. That was the start of a sweet conversation my newly discovered ‘sister’ Pam and I had about the need for us to show Christ-like love to one another to make the world a better place and to point people to Jesus, the Source of our light. We both left that parking lot full of joy knowing that we were one in the Lord!

What is it going to take to bring about the unity in the Body of Christ that the Lord longs for, and that will be such a blessing to us who are His? There are some ‘big’ things we may need and wish to do, but I believe there are many ‘small’ things we can do that will make a big difference too. The list below is certainly not exhaustive, but hopefully it will provide some ideas for you as a starting point.

To bring about unity in the Body of Christ will require agape love, and love necessarily involves sacrifice. It likely will require you getting out of your comfort zone; speaking up when you might prefer to remain silent; perhaps traveling to a different part of the city than you ordinarily frequent; giving of time in what I am sure is an already full schedule. But we have been called by God to live in unity so that the world will know Him and His love for them; we can be assured that whatever the cost to us, the rewards will be more than worth it!

1. Pray! Pray that you will have the Lord’s eyes to see people, His ears to hear them, His heart of love to respond to them, and the courage and boldness to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and ‘die to your will’ and be consumed by doing the will of your Father in Heaven. Pray that you will be clothed in humility and prefer others over yourself; that all prejudice and pride will be rooted out of you; that you will have an ‘unoffendable’ heart; that you will forgive others and not allow a root of bitterness and resentment to arise in your heart when others misunderstand or treat you in a way that does not reflect the love of God for you. Pray for the Body of Christ to come into unity and ‘be one as Jesus and the Father are one’ and to open you eyes to opportunities where you can foster that unity.

2. Confront--in a spirit of love--acquaintances, friends, or family if they tell off-color, discriminatory ‘jokes’ or make derogatory comments about an ethnic group, people of another denomination, or say or do anything else that might divide the Body of Christ, breed animosity, or in any way harm the people that God loves, whom He has created, and whom He died to save!

3. Refrain from using ‘us’ and ‘them’ statements that stereotype and polarize people from different ethnic groups, cultures, and denominations. Be careful when you listen to the media that you do not make judgments about people groups; lift people up in prayer rather than labeling or criticizing those with whom you may disagree on issues. Remember, only God has the corner on truth! Seek to listen and understand those whose lifestyles and worldviews may be different from yours. Keep in mind you have FAR more in common with other people than you do differences! Look for ways to celebrate all that God’s people have in common—and also celebrate the differences that make us all wonderfully and uniquely created in the image of our Father in Heaven.

4. Stand up for righteousness and come alongside those people who experience discriminatory or unfair treatment, even if it costs you. For example, if a youth in your child’s school or on their sports team or a co-worker is called a racial slur and you are aware of it, go to the proper authority and make it clear that you consider such behavior and name-calling unacceptable and intolerable.

5. Smile at all people, and especially at people of a different ethnicity or culture from yours so they will sense the love of Christ in the warmth of your response to them. Look for ways to connect with them--such as with a sincere compliment or in other ways to assist or affirm them—so that you can brighten their day and extend to them the grace and love of God. You may receive the kind of blessing I did when I met my sister in Christ Pam who stopped my roll-away cart in the parking lot, or perhaps you will have the blessing of sharing the love of Jesus with someone who doesn’t yet know Him.

6. Seek out opportunities to get to know and better understand someone of a different ethnic group than yours. Invite a co-worker, a neighbor, a member of your church or bible study, someone from your gym, a family from your child’s sports team, etc. who is of a different ethnic group than you over for coffee, dinner, or other social occasion so you can dialog with them for the purpose of gaining increased understanding of one another and to demonstrate the love of Christ to them.

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7.  Host a home-based Bible study that intentionally includes women from other ethnicities and church denominations. Or start a service project with people from diverse backgrounds where you can interact and get to know one another while you serve other community residents together, perhaps a service project like Habitat for Humanity.

8. Attend community and religious events where you know there will be diversity of ethnicities and denominations. Look for opportunities there to fellowship with others who may not look, act, or think like you.

9. Invite international students (perhaps ones who attend a local university/college) to your home to get to know them and to build a relationship with them so that you can share the love of Christ with them. Take in an international student for a semester or a year to expand yours and your families’ understanding of people from other cultures.

10. Volunteer with a program like Big Brothers Big Sisters; the Fresh Air Fund or the Pittsburgh Project in Pittsburgh; the Dream Center in Atlanta or the Atlanta Youth Project or Atlanta Youth Adademy; or a similar community service organization in your city that mentors under-resourced youth and adults. Volunteer with a summer camp program—like Pine Valley Camp in Pittsburgh—that has as diverse group of attendees.

11. Volunteer to serve and feed the homeless and hungry. If you live in Pittsburgh you may wish to participate in the city-wide 'Amen to Action' event being held Friday, November 24 from 9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the David L. Lawrence convention center where they need 2500 volunteers to pack one million ‘Meals of Hope’. In Atlanta, there are numerous opportunities to minister as well, including The Atlanta Mission and 7 Bridges to Recovery. Wherever you live, I am sure there are established ministries where you could volunteer and be a blessing to others in need. 

12.  Read books and watch programs/movies to help you better understand others’ cultures/situations. Suggested reading on the subject that may challenge as well as inform you include: One Race One Blood by Ken Ham and A. Charles Ware; What God Says about Race by Donald O. Clay Jr.; Roadmap to Reconciliation by Brenda Salter McNeil; Same Kind of Different as Me (a book and a recently released movie) and What Difference Do It Make? both by Ron Hall and Denver Moore; Race Matters by Cornel West; Gracism by David A. Anderson; Divided by Faith by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith; Uncle Sam’s Plantation by Star Parker.

We are interested in hearing your suggestions as well, so please feel free  go to True View Ministries’ Facebook page and under The One Movement Event give us your suggestions. Praying all of us will be committed to being about our Heavenly Father’s ‘business’ and seek to be one as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

 

 

 

 

Those Uncomfortable Talks: Moving Past the Pause By Anne Kerr of TrueNorth Freedom Project

Talking about sexual things is uncomfortable. I know. As a child, I looked at the porn I found, yet couldn’t tell anyone. In college, I fit the description of a “good” Christian yet crossed many boundaries sexually. My closest friends had no idea, and I carried a lot of shame. As my own kids grew, we had a few talks about sex. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t enough.

Most parents aren’t comfortable talking about sexuality. They pause, and in the silence, the sexualized culture rushes in. 

 Sexuality is God-given and one of the most common aspects of our being! Everyone is sexual. This isn’t the same as saying everyone’s ready for sex. At a deep level, even molecularly, we are all sexual beings from birth, male or female. A boy has a penis and experiences erections, a girl has a vagina and can feel arousal, but do we ever talk about that?

We discuss other body issues like skin and eyes and keeping them healthy. We teach kids to bathe. But when it comes to private parts and related issues, we Pause. It can feel uncomfortable. We learned to be reserved.

Many realize the importance of early and regular talks about bodies and sex. We all encountered something sexual early on without having a framework for it. Maybe you saw a more developed peer or a friend showed you porn. Maybe it was more harmful like inappropriate touch or exposure. Perhaps a sexualized scene in a book or a magazine ad felt arousing. In an instant, your light, innocent heart became heavy with shame, and sexuality became taboo.

Now you have little ones, and you want to lead them. But you pause, hearing excuses; “I have no idea what to say.” “I’m no expert on all this.” “I don’t want to make them curious about something they might be too young for.”

Did your first sexual encounter catch you off guard? Your loved ones will have similar experiences.

Did you make mistakes sexually? Most of us did, and your kids will.

Did you have someone to talk with about sexuality? Most of us didn’t, but your loved ones can.

Will it be easy to become a safe place for your loved ones? Maybe not, but it will be worth it, and God is on your side.

We have an enemy working to derail us in our sexuality. We are inundated with overt and subliminal sexual messages. Cartoon characters have shapely bodies, wear revealing clothing, and are targeted to young children. Viewers internalize messaging that may be contrary to your values. Children, teens, and adults may see pornography that is simultaneously exciting and shameful. These images can’t just be wiped away. Don’t think your kids would never look at porn. Remember things you did that your parents still don’t know about? ALL kids can fall prey to these temptations, and adults can too. We are sexual beings living in a sexualized world. You cannot protect your loved ones from every harm or temptation.

These questions can help you move beyond Pause:

How well was wholesome sexuality modeled for me?

Most of us received limited information about sex or learned about it via unhealthy means. You can learn the wholesomeness of it and forge a new way for your family. God redeems our past and equips us. Check out Authentic Intimacy, or God’s Design for Sex Series.

How did my experiences affect my understanding of sex or sexuality?

Are there wounds, past sexual sin, or areas of weakness God may want to redeem? We all have some level of sexual brokenness. Consider a Christian counselor, perhaps someone who specializes in trauma care or sexual addiction.

Are current sin patterns keeping me from living authentically?

God’s best for us is to live fully known and fully loved. His perfect love helps us live authentically. Bringing our sin into the light, confessing to others, repenting, and working to restore broken relationships are markers of an authentic life being conformed to the image of Jesus. Find a more mature Christian to speak with as a starting point, someone who will call you up into your holy identity in Christ. Satan’s power begins to diminish as we bring our sin into the light and God’s healing grace transforms us. Read my husband’s five-part blog series here.

How have I modeled healthy sexuality? Does it go beyond simply what not to do?

In terms of sexuality, we need identification as much as information. Remember confusion from your early experiences? Have you asked your children about feelings associated with things they’ve seen? Even a lingerie ad can be arousing. God wired the brain to respond to sexual things in various ways at every age. A friend’s seven-year-old had seen porn and said this: “It makes your penis hard!” Yes, it does! And porn might give a girl a funny feeling in her vagina. It can feel good, but children aren’t ready physically or emotionally for sex. Parents can help kids separate the good feelings from what is best for them and give them a plan for when they encounter something sexual. Teach about God-honoring sex and that porn is the opposite of that.

Could God have more for me?

Satan works to bring couples together sexually before marriage then keep them apart after. Sex is a sacred gift for marriage, bonding couples at a deep level. Science proves this. Brain chemicals released during sex bind us with the object of the encounter and remind us of pleasurable feelings associated with sex. This happens naturally in God-honoring sex or counterfeit sex. Begin to talk more authentically with your spouse, repent of past mistakes, and ask God to redeem this aspect of your marriage. A Celebration of Sex, shares biblical truth and practical application. Find other resources here.

Sexuality is precious, but also fragile and easily marred in a broken world. We need a guide. Become a trusted source of information for your kids and work to create a shame-free home where you can talk about anything, and prayerfully move beyond the Pause.

 

 

 

Talking with Your Teen About Porn: Is Today’s Porn Harmless? Part 2of 2 

Do I really need to talk to my son? It seems like viewing porn is pretty harmless and just a normal part of being male these days. Isn’t this just a phase most boys (or young people) go through?

Although it is certainly normal to be curious and interested, the average young male today will not “casually” view pornography without being seriously impacted by what he consumes. There are several reasons for this and therefore several reasons parents need to be talking with their kids about pornography. Here are third and fourth considerations as you weigh the “harmlessness” of porn.

 

1.     Professionals in the field of sexual addiction explain how today’s pornography is very, very different from the images created thirty or forty years ago. The pornography that is accessible today to any child with internet access is incredibly violent, degrading, and destructive. The accurate name for today’s pornography is actually “gonzo” or “gorno” – it is a combination of gore and pornography – and it champions and celebrates brutal sexual violence. Even if an individual does not initially seek out this type of pornography, within approximately 8 minutes of first exposure, gonzo porn will likely be viewed, even if accidentally.

 

Addictions, by nature, create tolerance, and demand something new, more graphic, and more intense to produce the same high. A common refrain among porn viewers is that they find themselves aroused by imagery they never would have imagined enjoying when they first began consuming porn. If you need further information about just how destructive and horrendous the content of pornography is today, there are informational resources available. Unfortunately, it is impossible to grasp the extreme nature of the sexual violence without feeling somewhat emotionally violated yourself, so I won’t post those resources here.

 

Here’s the fourth consideration as you weigh the “harmlessness” of porn:

 

2.     Once interest is piqued, it’s difficult to stop viewing because Internet pornography offers unlimited access to sexually stimulating content, within the context of an anonymous and affordable environment.2 In fact, in our current age of constant access to wireless technology, where the Internet is increasingly porn-saturated, in order to not view sexually explicit content, deliberate protective measures must be taken. It’s no longer necessary for a person to intentionally seek out pornography; nowadays, pornography will come to you. “One study reports that 93% of boys are exposed to Internet porn before the age of 18.”3 The accessibility, affordability, and anonymity of Internet porn, combined with the reward cycle, make it the perfect storm for creating a powerful addiction.

 

Check out additional blogs at GROWCounseling.com on

Talking with Your Teen About Porn: Overcoming the Barriers (when you want to talk with your teen about porn use)

Talking with your Teen About Porn: Preparing Yourself for the Conversation

Talking with your Teen About Porn: Having the Conversation(s)

 

A few great books that address the above themes more thoroughly are:

1.     Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Mail Brain by Dr. William Struthers

2.     The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography by Wendy Maltz and Larry Maltz

3.     Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children by Joe S. McIlhaney Jr. and Freda McKissic Bush

 

A few free Downloads:

1.     Covenant Eyes: “Your Brain on Porn”

2.     Covenant Eyes: “Parenting the Internet Generation”

3.     Covenant Eyes: “Protecting Your Family Online: A How-To Guide for Parents”

 

Matthew 5:28
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Talking with Your Teen About Porn: Is Today’s Porn Harmless? Part 1 of 2  

Do I really need to talk to my son? It seems like viewing porn is pretty harmless and just a normal part of being male these days.  Isn’t this just a phase most boys (or young people) go through?

 

Yes, the male brain is wired for visual stimulation. So, yes, it is normal for boys (and men) to be aroused by and interested in the sexual imagery available through pornography.  Dr. William Struthers’ book “Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain” offers a fantastic explanation of how the male brain is designed to be captivated by the sight of the female’s body, without the typical “boys will be boys” (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) excuse-making our society condones. 1

 

Although it is normal to be curious and interested, the average young male today will not “casually” view pornography without being seriously impacted by what he consumes. There are several reasons for this and therefore several reasons parents need to be talking with their kids about pornography.

 

1.     The adolescent brain is in a critical stage of development. Extensive literature points to the negative impact pornography has on young people, developmentally.

 

The brain stores our first sexual experiences with a chemical stamp that makes them incredibly powerful. For example, most people can easily recall (in vivid detail) their “first love,” their first encounter with pornography, or their first sexual experience. This serves us well, where our first experiences are healthy, and where our first sexual relationship is with our spouse – bonding us to that person with a powerful chemical attachment. It can create real difficulty where our first experiences are unhealthy or harmful.

 

The arousal template (what a person finds arousing) is significantly impacted by and strengthened by early sexual experiences. So, whatever a young person is experiencing sexually (whether it is healthy or unhealthy) – is then paired with sexual arousal. The result is often that the brain easily grows attached to that stimulus. So, whatever your teen is experiencing and aroused by is also shaping what he (or she) will tend to desire. Repetition reinforces these patterns of arousal.

 

Although it is certainly normal to be curious and interested, the average young male today will not “casually” view pornography without being seriously impacted by what he consumes. There are several reasons for this and therefore several reasons parents need to be talking with their kids about pornography. Here’s a second reason that viewing porn might not be harmless.

 

2.     Advanced brain imaging scans now show us that viewing pornography creates a neurochemical high in the brain that compares closest to the high of using Heroin. The pleasure centers of the brain are impacted, neurochemicals are firing (ie., norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin, testosterone, endogenous opiates), and connections are made that reinforce the desire to repeat the behavior.4

The chemical high of arousal, pleasure, and euphoria serves to reinforce the false message that porn is an easy escape from anything dull, boring, or unwanted. Porn temporarily masks the pain of loneliness, rejection, fear, worry, loss, stress, or anxiety. This neurochemical reward cycle makes it easy to create a life-dominating habit.

"I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman." Job 31:1 NIV

Written by Mindy Pierce, LPC

Lessons About God from... Kittens

We recently got two adorable feral—alias ‘wild’—8 week old kittens from an animal rescue.  Every day kittens, cats, and dogs are euthanized because there are too many of them and not enough people to take them into their homes so we choose to get our pets from rescue organizations.

Although I had been on the hunt only for a male companion that resembled our resident Siamese/Ragdoll three-year old female cat, once my husband and I saw this brother-sister duo we didn’t have the heart to separate them. Now, the proud owners of a cat and two kittens, I guess we are officially ‘cat people’.  I recognize that you may be one of those who hates cats, or at best tolerates them; I confess I used to be solely a dog lover but have become a ‘cat lover’ convert. Even if cats aren’t your favorite pet, I think you too can learn something about the way we humans relate to God from taking a glimpse at my kittens’ lives.

Our new kittens Murphy and Marnie initially were rather skittish around us because they were used to limited human contact. When I would walk into a room they would scatter due to fear of me. Or, sometimes they were just ‘doing their own thing’ and didn’t seem to want to be bothered with me. However, that all changed whenever I would bring them their food. Then they would emerge from their hiding spots with a single focus and start wolfing down their food.

As I observed them, I immediately thought that their behavior with me all too often mirrors the way I and other Christians relate to the Lord.  We want God nearby when He can meet our needs, like the way the kittens clamor for me when I am bringing them food. Otherwise, we often ignore Him because we are pursuing our own selfish interests. Like my kittens that sometimes just walk away from me even while I am calling their names, we can get so preoccupied with our own agendas that we too just ‘walk away from God’. Or, sometimes, like my kittens that scamper away in fright--even though all I want to do is to give them love-- we succumb to our fears and dart away from God rather than draw near to Him when we are frightened. I remember assuring my kittens when they would run away that I loved them, I would never hurt them, and that my only desire was to be good to them. But just as that fell on their ‘deaf’ ears, too often we are ‘deaf’ to God’s words of assurance to us in the Bible that He does indeed love us and only desires the best for us. And just as my kittens’ initial fear of me kept them at a distance from me so therefore I wasn’t able to demonstrate and shower them with the love I longed to give to them, our fear of God all too often stands in the way of our having the intimacy with God that we were created to enjoy and that He longs to have with us.

There was one time in particular that really brought home to me how much we need to trust our Heavenly Father even when we don’t understand His ways, even when He restrains us and maybe even takes away from us the very thing that we think we have to have. In order to make sure my young kittens received the food that they needed, I had to feed them in a room separated from my cat who otherwise would chow down all of their kitten food. So I would put them in my master bathroom, close the door to keep my other cat out of the room, and then put down their food. Ordinarily I picked up the food plate immediately after they ate but one day I had to leave the house before they finished eating and I didn’t return for several hours. By the time I returned and walked into the room I saw that there was an invasion—an army of tiny ants had descended on their remaining wet food and had marched their way into their dry food too! My immediate thought was to protect my kittens from eating any ants, so first I removed the source of the problem—I took away the tainted food and threw it out. My kittens looked at me with an expression of, ‘How can you take away what we most want?!’

Next, I started smashing the ants with my foot, thinking the whole time that those tiny ants didn’t stand a chance against me even though they vastly outnumbered me. It was nothing for me to eliminate the ‘enemies’ who sought to corrupt my kittens’ food source.  I immediately thought how like God Who easily is able to defeat all of our enemies! Like me stomping out those ants, those who rise against God’s children do not stand a chance against Him!

I knew I also had to remove the source of the ants’ entry into the room and I also knew I had to make sure my kittens were nowhere around when I sprayed an ant killing spray at the source. So I picked up the kittens and placed them in the small toilet closet in my bathroom. As I ran to get some ant spray they meowed incessantly from their small, closed quarters. I imagine they couldn’t understand why I would take away their highly treasured food and then lock them up in such a confining place. I wished I could’ve explained to them that it was all for their safety and out of loving concern for them, but obviously they couldn’t comprehend that. Once I had sprayed the source of the ant’s entry, I cleaned up not only the dead ants, but scrubbed the tile thoroughly to make sure there was not a trace of the pesticide that could hurt them. It made me think how often we look to God without understanding that when He removes something from us that we treasure—perhaps a loved one, a job, our health, a friend, our status—that He only has our good in mind, and that sometimes He is even protecting us from harm. He also knows that we can’t comprehend all of His ways because they are so much higher than our understanding, just as I couldn’t explain to my kittens what I was doing and why. God just desires that we trust that at all times He is at work to do what is best for us, even when we don’t understand or agree with His ways.

My reason for wanting a kitten was twofold: (1) as a companion for my other cat, for I know that cats are social creatures and they do better when they are with another cat than when they live alone (2) the primary reason is as an empty nester of 4 grown children, I wanted something alive in our home to nurture and to pour my love into, and we are gone too much to make having a dog again practical. So that is why we ended up bringing Murphy and Marnie into our home…to be a companion for our cat Maggie, and mainly for my husband and me to enjoy the pleasure of a relationship with them. And isn’t that like God? He created us because He longs for a relationship with us!  And when we are apathetic, indifferent or fearful of Him we miss the very purpose for which we were brought into this world, just as my kittens can miss the whole reason we adopted them into our home. And He also created us for ‘Body life’. God knows that we all do better when we are in fellowship with others and do not try to go ‘solo’ in this life. In fact, as I delight in watching my kittens tussle together and cuddle side-by-side, I am reminded of the joy that God has in seeing His children in fellowship with one another, loving one another as He has loved us. I especially love when the kittens choose to come near to me, demonstrating that they have developed a trust in me, allowing me to love on them—the main reason we chose to rescue them and bring them into our home. And as they come to me, I rejoice in knowing that I give even far greater joy to my Lord and Master Jesus when I choose to draw near to Him so that He can shower me--the one He rescued from certain death—with His amazing love!

Are you allowing indifference, apathy or fear to separate you from God?  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8 Remember always that God longs to have an intimate relationship with you; that is why He created you, sent Jesus to give His life for you, and brought you into His household when you accepted Him as your Savior!

 Do you trust Him to always be at work for your good and the glory of His name, even when you don’t understand His far superior ways? (Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 8:28)

 Are you trying to go this life alone, or are you availing yourself of the sweet companionship that is found in living in fellowship with the Body of Christ, which also gives such joy to your Heavenly Father? Oh Lord, may we put our trust in You, draw near to You, and draw near to others who can support us in our journey on earth!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

 

Freedom!

I enjoy gathering with family and friends for food, fellowship and fireworks on the 4th of July holiday, and I imagine you do too. As I participate in the festivities, I’m reminded that our founding fathers and their families paid a tremendous price in order for us to enjoy the freedoms we have in this great nation, freedoms that we all too often take for granted. Although they had security as far as the world measures it, each of the signers of the declaration valued liberty more than their belongings, even their lives. They pledged the following to one another:

“For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

Many people are unaware of the sacrifices they did in fact make. The British captured five of the signers during the war, including Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, and Arthur Middleton, and George Walton was wounded as well as captured. Richard Stockton was captured and never recovered from his incarceration by British Loyalists and he died in 1781. John Adams received a letter from Thomas McKean who wrote that he was "hunted like a fox by the enemy - compelled to remove my family five times in a few months." The British captured two of Abraham Clark’s sons during the war.

The homes and property of eleven signers were destroyed. Francis Lewis's home was demolished and his wife was taken prisoner. John Hart's farm and mills were destroyed when the British invaded New Jersey, and he died while fleeing capture. Carter Braxton and Nelson lent large sums of their personal fortunes to support the war effort, and they were never repaid.

The reality is that freedom is never free.  There is always a cost.  And as much as I am grateful—and I truly am-- for the sacrifices of our founding fathers who were willing to give up their property, their safety and security, and even their lives to establish our nation, I am far more grateful to Jesus Who was willing to lay down His life to secure the greatest treasure I will ever have--freedom from the power and penalty of sin. And that was the costliest purchase ever made. My freedom—and yours—could only be bought with the price of Jesus’ blood. Our Heavenly Father had to be willing to sacrifice the life of His blameless, Beloved Son Jesus in order to redeem my life and yours. If you ever wonder how valuable you are, remember the great price that God was willing to pay for you and your freedom! You are treasured by Him! He was willing to exchange a perfect life for your sinful one in order that you could be set free from your sin.

My husband and I are going through a challenging period in our lives right now that has made me keenly aware that because I know and trust in Jesus, I have been set free from all fear! When we received what many, if not most people in the world would have considered devastating news, we immediately reminded ourselves that although it may have caught us by surprise, it certainly did not catch Our God ‘who is able to work all things together for our good and for His glory’ by surprise. God is still on His throne; He is Sovereign over our circumstances, and we trust completely in His good and loving nature and know He not only WILL NOT fail us, but He CANNOT fail us as we look to Him and lean upon Him rather than our own understanding.

(Proverbs 3:5-7)

Despite our circumstances, my husband and I are flooded with peace…the peace that truly ‘surpasses all human understanding’. (Philippians 4:7) How can we be filled with peace, and even have joyful anticipation thinking what the future may bring? Because we are resting in the sure knowledge that ‘our redeemer lives’, and we firmly believe that He IS always at work-- regardless of our circumstances or our understanding-- to bring about our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28) It is one thing to believe those words with your head, it is another thing altogether to be in the midst of the storm and know beyond a doubt that you believe them with all of your heart! What a joy it is to know we have been set free from fear! Free because our trust is in the One Who was willing to give His very life to purchase our freedom!  If Jesus was willing to give us His very life, is there anything good He will ever withhold from us? (Romans 8:32)

So as you celebrate the 4th of July this year, I hope you will thank God for our founding fathers who valued liberty more than security so that you can have the liberties you enjoy in our country today.  And I especially hope you will take the time to thank Jesus for being willing to give up all of the glories of heaven to come to earth to be born a man and give His life in exchange for yours, so that you can have ‘peace on earth’ and spend eternity with the One Who was willing to pay the price for your everlasting freedom! Let us walk and rejoice in the freedom that Jesus has purchased for us!

I'm no longer a slave to fear

I am a child of God

I am surrounded

By the arms of the father

I am surrounded

By songs of deliverance

We've been liberated

From our bondage

We're the sons and the daughters

Let us sing our freedom

 Lyrics above from No Longer Slaves by Bethel

 

Written by Julie Van Gorp

 

Signs of a Porn Problem and What to Do If you Suspect One

Mindy Pierce is a licensed professional counselor for GROW Counseling in Atlanta, GA. Below, she shared with us her answers to some of the most common questions she receives around the topic of porn use and figuring out whether it’s something that needs to be addressed with your loved one. We loved her answers – and believe you’ll find them helpful! In addition, we want to add a reminder that God wants us to experience His victory in every area of our lives! We have approached the topic of pornography not to condemn those struggling, but to shine a light on the harm it can cause to those trapped in bondage by it as well as their family members, and to illuminate a path out of the darkness. Rather than living isolated, fragmented lives filled with shame, secrets, and separation from God and our loved ones – the Lord wants us to walk in the joy, freedom, and fulfillment that comes through Jesus Christ alone. As you read Mindy’s article below we encourage you to keep in mind the following promise from 1 John 1:8-9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”. Mindy—and we—want you to know that help and hope are available! There is professional help and the chance for freedom from addiction, if you choose to pursue it. And more importantly, there is eternal hope – the forgiveness of all sins, if you will receive it.

                                                                          Jamie and Julie

How to tell if porn is a problem for your loved one – and next steps if you suspect there is a problem.

When speaking with large groups, or even with individuals and couples in our counseling practice, we are often asked questions along the lines of: How do I know if my loved one is looking at porn or not? How do I know if it’s just occasional use – or if they are addicted? At what point does it become a serious problem? And, if it’s a serious problem, then what should I do? We know it can feel scary to even ask the questions! Here’s some practical information that offers clarity and the hope of a way forward.

How do I know if my loved one is looking at porn or not?

First, let’s just acknowledge that it is very difficult to know for a couple reasons. To begin with, there’s a bit of a belief that people who watch porn are a certain “type” of person. AKA: they’re “bad” people; they’re not leaders in ministry; their marriages stink or they don’t love their spouse; or they don’t respect their parents or make good grades in school. This is just not true. Many people who view porn respect their parents or love their spouses, manage other areas of their lives well, and are active – even leaders – in their faith communities. And many are aware that they “shouldn’t” view porn or that it would hurt their partners or parents to find out. In fact, many people are trying to not view porn… they’ve tried to quit or they’re hoping to quit soon. They want to keep the habit private and may plan to fix this struggle privately – to avoid others knowing, to avoid shame and embarrassment or losing a job, and/or to avoid hurting someone they love.

Another reason it’s difficult to recognize porn use, abuse, or addiction is that most of us are almost never more than arm’s-reach away from our devices (with constant access to porn). So, in this digital era, we all have access to it, pretty much all the time. Anyone who is viewing pornography doesn’t overtly have to go out of their way to attain it – they pick up their phone or their iPad and that looks normal and then it’s pretty easy to cover the digital tracks of where they’ve been. It’s also difficult to detect because porn doesn’t smell or cost a bunch of money and it doesn’t necessarily change someone’s appearance markedly.

Now let’s talk about a few, inadvertent signs that may lead to wondering if porn is present. Not guarantees – just things we hear and see consistently that are possibly worth exploring further if you notice them: overprotection of devices; long periods of time in the bathroom (with a device); feeling disconnected emotionally from the person; increase in depression, anxiety, or anger; decrease in empathy and emotional availability; new requests for sexual behaviors that feel more extreme, unsafe, or unloving – sometimes revolving around intensity rather than intimacy; on the other hand, lack of interest in sex or decrease in pursuing sex with you; difficulty becoming aroused or maintaining arousal during times of intimacy; irritability or decreased pleasure in daily life, in general; answers don’t add up – late to events, not following through on responsibilities; unable to account for significant chunks of time or lack of productivity.

If I suspect porn use, what questions do I ask?

First, it’s important to know that there’s often so much shame around porn use that it’s very difficult for people to talk honestly about it. So, they may not answer truthfully the first time you ask. It doesn’t mean they hate you; it may mean they’re scared of losing you. That said, it may take several conversations to help them believe that you love them, want to help, and that you are serious about wanting to know the truth.

'Fight the New Drug' recommends the following questions if you’re trying to ask about porn use:

– Have you ever viewed internet pornography?  If so, when did you start viewing it?

– How often do you view it? For how long?

– Why do you watch porn? 

– When did you notice that you were seeking more images for more arousal?

– How long has it been since you last watched pornography?  

If my partner is viewing porn, what should I do?

First, give yourself permission to have a reaction. It’s normal to feel big feelings and to feel them intensely: hurt, insecurity, betrayal, pain, loss. Rushing too quickly to immediate “forgiveness” or dismissal of the magnitude of the experience without properly grieving sometimes circumvents or undermines the healing process. You need a safe space for processing and unpacking your experience. Choose very carefully who that will be. Secondly, there is hope! People can get better! Relationships can be restored. Third, have hope – but also have boundaries. You will need to set clear boundaries around what is okay and what is not okay in the relationship. Therapists can help you with this. And while we’re talking about that – Fourth, most likely, you both need your own therapist. If you have questions about where to find a qualified therapist in your area, you can reach out to our team at GROW and we’ll try to help connect you with someone or find some referrals in your area. Fifth, there is a story underneath your partner’s porn use. We encourage you to cultivate curiosity about what is behind these behaviors. This will take time, careful conversations, and the support of a great therapeutic team. There is much to understand about what has been driving your partner’s porn use.

If you’re interested in connecting with GROW Counseling, what can you do?

If you’re in the Atlanta area, you can schedule an appointment. Whether you are struggling to address your own porn usage, or would like support as you walk with a partner or child who struggles with porn use, you can call the GROW office to schedule an appointment (GROWCounseling.com). If you’re not local, we will try to help you find community resources. If you are tired of feeling alone in the difficulty you face, but we’re too far, we would still be happy to help. The team at GROW Counseling intentionally builds professional partnerships locally and nationally. We enjoy collaborating to help you find community resources that will work for you, at whatever your stage of this journey.

 What does “good” counseling look like?

Much like a builder needs a blueprint in order to build a house, you need a tailored therapeutic plan for each person. We recommend a strengths-based, hope-filled, team approach that is very collaborative. With couples, we like to see each person participating in their own individual therapy, as well as couple’s therapy. We sometimes recommend group therapy or a recovery group, and we encourage nutrition, exercise, and building healthy community. Many people fear that a counselor will “require” them to take medication. We recognize that some people benefit from medication, so your counselor may make a referral for that if needed. But a “good” therapist would also work creatively and collaboratively with clients and would respect their values.

 If you’re looking for some questions your loved one can ask him-(or herself), here you go:

 Is it really a problem for me to look at porn?

Here are some questions we often ask clients who are evaluating whether porn is neutral or problematic in their lives.

1.    Who do you desire to be? What kind of person?

2.    What are your goals – your expectations for yourself and your life?

3.    What version of you are you when you’re looking at porn regularly?

4.    After viewing porn, how do you view yourself, your partner, others you interact with?

5.    The presence of secrets diminishes our ability to experience connection with others. How does porn use require you to hide? How is it impacting your ability to accomplish your goals, feel connected, feel known?

6.    Do you worry about being caught?

7.    Are you setting yourself up for consequences that have a potentially devastating impact?

 How do I know if I am addicted?
The obvious answer is that a therapist specializing in sexual addiction is needed to help with the assessment and recovery process (Visit GROWCounseling.com for help with this process). That said, we’ve included below a list of questions to ask yourself about pornography (adapted from Breaking Chains). These are the type of questions that would be asked from a medical or psychological professional to assess pornography addiction. Answering yes to 2 or more of these questions indicates risk for pornography abuse. Answering yes to 4 or more indicates risk of pornography addiction.

1.    Do you at times feel powerless to resist the urge to view pornography?

2.    Do you frequently spend more time or money on pornography than you initially intended?

3.    Have you tried without success to limit or stop viewing pornography?

4.    Do you spend a significant portion of your time viewing pornography, thinking about pornography or engaging in activities that will enable you to access pornography?

5.    Do you neglect family, social or work/school obligations to view pornography?

6.    Do you continue to use pornography despite the potential for negative consequences?

7.    Have you had a reduction in satisfaction from pornography, or the need to increase the riskiness or frequency of pornography use over time?

8.    Have you passed up social opportunities, or considered passing up social opportunities, so that you have more time to use or view pornography?

9.    Do you become anxious, stressed or irritable if you are unable to access pornography?

10.   Do you keep all or part of your pornography use secret from loved ones?

11.    Do you feel as though you live a double or secret life because of your pornography use?

12.   Have you lost track of large chunks of time because you've been absorbed in pornography use?

 Discovering your partner’s or child’s porn use can flip your world upside down. We want you to know that you are not alone, and there is hope!

Hope for the Porn Problem by Guest Blogger Anne Kerr, Founder of TrueNorth Freedom Project

Recently a friend forwarded a Fox News article that asserted five ways that porn was good for us.¹ It was directed to women. I guess they figured most men didn’t need convincing to head over to their favorite porn site. Statistically a lot of men use porn, but a growing number of women also fall prey to it. In 2016 one porn site alone logged 4.6 billion hours of porn watched—that’s over five thousand centuries.² Sounds pretty hopeless, but it’s not, because we were created for something much greater. I'd like to share some thoughts for the millions of porn users in the world and for those who love them. (I use he and she interchangeably.)

Porn never satisfies. 

The temporary ecstasy that porn can elicit is just that: temporary. Just one more click will not reveal the perfect body that will make one cry out, “Eureka!” and end the search. No, one click leads to more clicks. Porn is an endless sexual abyss that pulls the user deeper into shame and isolation. It will mercilessly tempt again. Porn creates chemical longings in the brain that long to be fed. And the cost? It will only increase with time. Porn can steal one's self-esteem, faith, job, relationships, and family, and it will not stop there. Porn is bondage of the worst kind. Our hearts long to be satisfied, but they will never be satisfied by porn.  

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Porn keeps the user from true intimacy with others, and we all need to be known.

A desire for intimacy is beautiful and good. Our relational design moves us toward other people because we have been created to live in communion with others. But our desire for sexual gratification can get in the way of true intimacy with others. Knowing and being known are deep human needs fulfilled only by genuine relationships—by connecting with others. Porn does not lead us to connection; instead, it isolates. The image on the screen cares nothing for the user. In fact, it is actually hurting him at a soul level even as his mind enjoys the temporary euphoria. We need real relationships and using porn isn’t going to help us develop those. But a desire for true intimacy in actual relationships can be a great motivator to give up porn.

Porn doesn’t help one become the person she or he truly wants to be.

We grow in character through adversity, experiences, delayed gratification, perseverance, and hard work. Unlike character building experiences, porn asks nothing and steals everything. Real relationships are demanding, complicated, multifaceted, and a lot of work, but they're worth every ounce of effort because they shape us and bring value to our lives. Porn requires nothing and takes no work whatsoever. It can be addictive as it causes high levels of dopamine to release in the brain much like cocaine does. No one wants to be addicted to porn. 

Porn is a killer of love, and we truly desire love.

Love grows best in a secure environment. Exclusivity in love is one of its most beautiful and timeless features. Love takes trust and requires vulnerability. Porn takes a beautiful gift like love and makes a mockery of it. In the moment it’s exciting, but a real-life partner doesn’t want to be second to anyone, including a pixelated image of someone in porn. A desire for true love can be a strong motivator to walk away from porn and begin to enjoy the love found in an authentic relationship with God. 

Porn will always be a counterfeit.

True sex is amazingly good. God-honoring sex is even better. It bonds a couple at a soul level. It is pleasurable to both the man and the woman because it honors, is tender, sacrificial, and takes into account the whole person, not just certain parts. This kind of sexual experience makes one desire a spouse again and again. Porn will always be a counterfeit, a poser, a cheap imitation that falls short of the real thing. Like any counterfeit, it will eventually be exposed for what it truly is. God-honoring sex within the safety and security of marriage is the best sex.  

Porn makes God feel distant, but He stands ready to forgive and redeem our wandering. 

This is where our true hope lies. Because we need God’s grace in our lives. We depend on His unmerited favor. I love how the father (representing God) ran to the prodigal son in the parable that Jesus told. He said the young man “came to his senses” and decided to return home to the abundant household and the gracious father.³ Turning away from our sin is the essence of repentance. God wants to redeem our past and make something beautiful out of the rubble.

For years my husband battled a porn addiction and kept his struggle hidden from everyone including me, his best friend. It broke my heart to learn of it a few years ago. Like the prodigal son, this man I love had been in a dark and destructive place, but thankfully, Jesus ran to welcome this repentant sinner home. We have worked through the messiness of redemption together, and my husband walks ever closer to Jesus now. We have honesty and transparency in our relationship. His faith is growing. He found true freedom, and you or someone you love can know this freedom too. 

The tomb is empty. Jesus conquered sin and death once and for all. He came to set captives free and He lives and intercedes for us even now. A porn user is every bit as precious to Him as every other sinner. Jesus died not just so we could stand righteous at the gate of heaven, but so we could live a life of freedom on the earth. Jesus satisfies every need, and He loves us with a perfect love that nothing on this earth can match. Jesus is our living hope!

TrueNorth’s website has resources for someone struggling with sexual sin and for those who love them. You'll find information about weekend retreats, men’s and women's groups, and more. Read some of our past blog posts under "Stories" to learn more and find hope.

¹ Suzannah Weiss, 5 Ways Watching Porn Can Make You a Better Partner, FoxNews.com, 2017.

² Sage Lazzaro, 9 Crazy Stats That Prove We Watched a Whole Lot of Porn in 2016, Observer.com, 2017.

³ The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 15, verses 11-32.

 

A Living Hope

by Anne Kerr, Guest Blogger & Founder of TrueNorth Freedom Project

 

“The one thing I didn’t have when I was addicted to pornography was hope.”

Last year, my husband spoke these words to a group of supporters of TrueNorth. God set Greg free from his bondage to pornography in a powerful way in the fall of 2013. I learned of his addiction a few months after God rescued him from it, and his journey toward restoration and wholeness became our journey of transparency, healing, and hope.

Casual porn use can escalate into repeated porn use, affairs, purchasing sex, and abuse. Addiction is multi-layered and different for everyone. Porn addicts are not on a quest to find the perfect body. They are seeking to repeat pleasurable feelings in the brain that viewing porn generates. These feelings are a result of a chemical called dopamine which is released into the brain.

Dopamine plays a healthy role in everyone’s brain. Chocolate can give us a sweet reward, no pun intended. Joyful experiences like a wedding, or birth of a child, can send dopamine levels sky high. But watching moving porn can release up to ten times the amount of a normal, healthy dopamine spike. The brain literally gets high on it, higher than the brain was designed for. Similar to the neurological response to cocaine, the brain remembers the feeling and initiates a desire to feel that way again. Tolerance for the good feeling can develop, and more hardcore porn or riskier behavior may be needed to achieve the same chemical levels. This can lead to addiction.

God designed our brains to respond to sexual sights and experiences, and even children can get aroused by them. Many of us have forgotten how various sexual encounters caught our attention when we were young. Learning to talk about those feelings and to channel them as God intended is important, whether we are young or old. God-honoring sex within marriage also produces dopamine along with other chemicals that bond us to our mate. Sex outside of marriage, or variations of it such as viewing porn, creates unhealthy bonds that can leave us empty, isolated, and alone in our shame.

I began TrueNorth a few years ago to help Christians learn to talk about sexual issues and struggles more authentically within relationships. We’re working to bring information from science and God’s Word to help others understand the truth about sex and porn use. While God designed us as sexual beings, His Word gives direction for living within a sexualized culture and for raising children in this environment. Since we cannot fully shield kids from an overly sexualized culture, we must prepare them for it and lovingly guide them through it. And since we cannot completely avoid the temptations that a sexualized culture brings, we must learn to handle the temptations in a way that leads us toward God and each other and keeps us from falling deeper into sin and despair.

God has a clear message of hope, but sometimes habitual sin can make it harder to hear truth. Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Slavery can take many forms. Porn addiction is a form of bondage, and Christ came to set us free.

 Some who use porn may not hear God’s freedom call because they are bound by sin and shame. Some may believe it’s too late for them, or that God doesn’t hear their cries for help. Others may be wounded by another’s sexual sin and feel hopeless themselves.

God has so much more for us when He opens our eyes to the things that give us less. Porn is something that not only gives less; it steals more. My husband can attest to this. And when God reveals the truth of our sexual design and shows us that none of us are immune from the temptation of sexual sin, I believe we can begin much-needed conversations that lead to deeper intimacy with others.

My husband found a living hope in Jesus and together we have found healthy, healing ways to talk about sexual struggles and sexual intimacy within our marriage. If you’d like to read more about how God began changing Greg’s heart and his restoration journey, check out the blogs he wrote earlier this year beginning with Revealing the Heart. (click bold 'revealing the heart' to read that blog).  Whether you struggle with sexual sin or someone you love struggles with it, Greg’s story will give you hope.

TrueNorth has resources and information for couples, parents, ministry leaders, and anyone desiring deeper intimacy with God and others while living with the challenges of a sexualized culture. You can find these by clicking “Tools” or “Stories” on the TrueNorth Freedom Project website, which is www.truenorthfp.org.

Christ, our living hope, frees us from our shame, gives us courage to step into the light of truth and grace, and invites us to go deeper with Him as we face the challenges this culture presents. Ask God to show you the next step and trust Him to lead you into truth for your journey. You will find grace for your own sin or perhaps God may use you to help rescue someone you love from their own bondage to sin. Trust Him to provide all that is needed.

 

Part 2- Restoring a Broken Marriage by Tom & Lisa

Part 2 – Restoring a Broken Marriage

What was going to happen? How was this going to work out? Our marriage was at a critical point, and I wasn't sure what to do or what to say. Lisa and I had to talk it out. I asked her to give me 30 minutes to get my thoughts organized and then we’d go through it. I told her I would explain everything. She was broken inside but agreed to listen.

After a few minutes, I felt the Lord working in my heart. I prayed for His wisdom to help me. The Lord knew that I was tired of running from Him. He showed me the only way out was to confess completely to Lisa what I had done. It was time to break the chains and give Him the authority in my life. But how was that going to happen? He led me to scripture. I wrote down 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” He led me to another verse, 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Frankly, I had accepted the fact that our marriage could be over. But the Lord gave me hope. I wasn’t going to leave my wife or lose my marriage. I was going to do anything and everything I needed to save it. When Lisa and I sat down, I read her the scripture that the Lord had put on my heart. I told her that I had been unfaithful for the last ten years and asked her to forgive me.

Lisa was crushed. She felt like she had been kicked in the stomach. Her reaction was expected. She felt that she didn’t deserve this. She needed me to leave, and she would figure out how to salvage whatever she could for our daughters. The plan certainly didn’t include me.

I told her that I would get rid of all the garbage and was willing to do whatever she needed me to do to save us. I didn’t want our marriage to end this way.

We went to bed that night in separate rooms. At the time, our three daughters were 13, 11, and 9, and they were in the house. They may have been too young to understand what was going on, but being in the house made it even more awkward and uncomfortable.

Lisa cried all night until there were no tears left. Her pain was so deep, and she felt lonely and helpless. In the stillness of the night, in the midst of such pain, the Holy Spirit came to her. He told her to forgive me. She said, “No, you can’t ask me to do that. Look what he has done to me and to our family.” But in her heart she knew the Lord wasn’t asking her, He was commanding her to forgive me. Out of obedience to Him, Lisa came to me in the night, laid her hands on me, and said she forgave me and loved me because I was beautifully and wonderfully made.

What just happened? I witnessed God perform a miracle that only He could perform. I cried and cried. God was pouring His mercy on me. Lisa didn’t trust me a bit, but she fully trusted the Lord. Of course, everything wasn’t ‘fixed’. Lisa was afraid and knew our recovery was going to take a lot of transforming power from the Lord. But she was ‘in’. And I was ‘all in’.

Godly friends advised Lisa that she should be very careful, that marriages don’t come back from situations like this. The question in her mind was What will it take? As she prayed, the Lord gave her peace and wisdom. She was very specific in what she wanted me to do. She said I needed to meet with my pastor and confess to him. I needed to attend an Every Man’s Battle conference that dealt with addictions and infidelity. And she and I needed to meet with a Christian counselor. I didn’t hesitate. The Lord was leading the way and I was ready to follow.

As I met with and confessed to my pastor, he was supportive and committed to helping me. We started a Bible study with a few men and began by memorizing scripture; Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount. After attending an Every Man’s Battle conference, I joined a strong support group to continue the steps. Over the next several months, I was in various men’s groups just about every night of the week. I knew the Lord was changing me. He was defining me as a man and a husband. It wasn’t a quick fix, but I wanted to be the man God wanted me to be, and He led me to Christian men to make it happen.

Being out of work during the initial six months turned out to be a blessing for Lisa and me. We were able to spend a lot of time together. Lisa’s confidence in us was growing, but we were a long way from where we needed to be. Through those months, there were almost daily occurrences of things the Lord called me to confess to her. As the Lord worked in Lisa, He took these confessions and turned them into compassion and forgiveness. Lisa and I prayed together every night. There were also occurrences of hauntings for Lisa that brought back awful emotions. I relied on the Lord to comfort both Lisa and me and give her an assurance that we were moving in the right direction.

Over the next several years, our marriage continued to improve. Lisa remained obedient to forgive me, but it was not an easy process. Her trust and love continued to be restored. It wasn’t until five years later that Lisa felt confident and trusting to put her wedding ring back on. And now, fifteen years after the full breakdown and confession, God has blessed us with daughters who love the Lord, two loving sons-in-law, and three wonderful grandchildren. Our marriage is our testimony to God’s sovereignty and power.

As I reflect on the entirety of this story, it’s no mistake that God put Lisa and me together. He was working in our lives long before we became believers. He has written this story for His glory and we’re hopeful that He will use it to help others who are struggling through similar situations. I was not worthy of His mercy, and yet He covered my marriage with all spiritual blessings. Lisa and I are flawed individuals and our marriage isn’t perfect, but we both know that God works miracles and doesn’t make mistakes. He can restore relationships and save marriages even when the Christian supporters closest to us doubt. It’s our prayer that by reading this, you will be encouraged and that you will share this with whomever it may help in restoring a struggling marriage.