Mark 7:14–23 – “Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.’ After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. ‘Are you so dull?’ he asked. ‘Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.’ (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on: ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.’”

Jesus’ explanation reveals how boundaries help us define who we are and are not. Through them we can take ownership of all of who we are, both good and bad. It is only by taking full ownership of what is on our property and within our own boundaries that we can grow.

Mark¬ 7:14-¬23 is a great description of some of the “not so good” stuff that hangs out in our hearts. All property needs to be cleaned up every once in a while, and our hearts are no different. Jesus tells us that our hearts are in need of this kind of responsible “cleaning up.”

Every kind of growth system that works, from counseling to spiritual direction to recovery, involves looking past our outer behavior to the root causes that lie within our hearts. Sometimes, pain and hurt are to blame and sometimes, as this passage indicates, sinful attitudes and desires are the root causes. Whatever the case, God has forgiven us and that forgiveness gives us the freedom to take a real, hard look at what lies within our hearts. The reward for doing this is that we get healthy and life gets better.

That’s why we like to say that boundaries make life better!

This devotional is drawn from Boundaries, by John Townsend and Henry Cloud.


Owning My Sexual Compulsion

by james tarring cordrey

One of the great gifts to me in my journey has been my wife.

At the point in my life when my addiction finally came to light she did something crucial: she held my feet to the fire and did not withhold her anger.

She was furious, and rightly so.

In my experience, men whose wives shield them from the anger that arises when the reality of porn addiction is revealed miss out on something crucial.

They miss the opportunity to reckon with the brutal truth that what they have been a part of in acting on their sexual compulsions  has truly brought death into their marriages.

The Biblical teaching that my sin affects the body of Christ was driven home to me when i saw — in unvarnished terms — how it affected my wife.

William Paul Young, author of The Shack, once said in an interview that when his wife learned of his compulsive sexual behavior he was thankful that God had not given him “a submissive wife.”

She confronted him and pressed him. And it was good for him.

As painful as it was for me, i have to say that my wife’s fury — and i do not use that word lightly — was a true blessing.

When i tried to make excuses for my behabior, she wouldn’t have it. When i tried to blame others, she called me on it.

Her rage helped me get it. Her rage demanded something of me. Her rage treated me as an adult at a time when i was very much in the habit of acting like a boy.

i was, in classic Eldredge-esque terms, an uninitiated man.  My wife’s unfiltered ire was an essential part of my initiation — a baptism by fire, so to speak.

This many years later i can say in full agreement with William Paul Young that i too am very grateful God has not given me a “submissive wife.”

To be clear: her fury was not permission to withhold mercy, grace, and forgiveness. As we walked together through healing, she got to the place where she truly forgave me. But in the immediate aftermath of everything coming to light, the intensity of her anger was palpable.

It was also fully appropriate.

Eventually i understood that her anger was one way that God was calling me into authentic masculinity. My wife was calling me to be the man i was designed to be: a true one.

She still calls me to be a true man, which is important as i live with my compulsive tendencies.

If a man is going to be true, with a legitimate strength, he must have others who will call “bull” when he’s blowing smoke — even when he is so deceived that he actually believes the lie he is selling to the world.

During the months immediately following The Confession, as we call it in our marriage, i was forced to take ownership of my choices. i was forced to accept responsibility and stop finding excuses.

One way i took ownership was to finally stop blaming women for my addictive pattern with lust and pornography. When i was living based on my sexual compulsions, i gave myself freedom to lust on grounds it was normal for a man to sexually objectify a woman.

i was just appreciating feminine beauty, i would say to myself.

Or i would blame women by saying that i couldn’t help lusting after them because they invited it with the way they dressed. Or they invited it by being playful. Or they invited it by doing something that i considered flirtatious.

i was very creative at finding ways to absolve myself of any responsibility for my actions. It’s a practice which is very common to many men, which is shameful.

Sometimes it even gets spiritualized and turned into an instruction which is given to women in religious circles, which is especially shameful because it puts the burden of men’s lust on women under the guise of religious truth.

There is a place for a healthy conversation about styles of dress in our current age that involves good thinking on how Christians engage post-modern culture with regard to things such as fashion and the interactions between men and women, but that’s very different from men in spiritual leadership roles telling women what to wear and linking that to what it means for those women to display true, inner, feminine beauty.

The former has the potential of deepening our love for God and each other as we grow in maturity and holiness, the latter simply places on women the unbearable — and false — demand that they are the ones who must keep men pure.


I am struggling with a particular feeling. Wrongness. Not just when I am to blame. Just that I am ALWAYS the one to blame. That because of who I am and what I have done that I don’t have the right to be…well…right. Ever. Even when I am. That I am supposed to always carry my guilt and even my shame. I have written on this before. I know that shame is selfish and deflects. See, I am falling back into before. Before recovery. Was I always wrong then? When it comes down to it, did I ever do any good?

This generalization is easy to make. That because of my deception, my lies, the continual violations of my wedding vows that I couldn’t have done any good during that time. That’s what I am talking about. In a round-about way, because of what I did, did I ever08 do any good before recovery? Are the positive parts of my life limited to the time after I hit bottom? Or did I have any positive influence in my marriage, on my kids, in my job, in my church. In the difficult times, the answer is always no. No I didn’t have any positive impact anywhere. I am defined throughout most of my life by what I was doing and who I was. The only problem with that belief is…it isn’t true.

I have started making a list. I like lists. They help me put things in perspective and see reality. I have been an expert at avoiding reality and truth for so long. So I figured I would face the truth. This is kind of new for me, actually searching for and facing reality. So that is what I have done. I have made a list. A list of the things I did right. Surprisingly enough, the list has items on it. Believe me, I was more surprised than anyone. This isn’t a list I have shown anyone or made for anyone. It is for me. As a reminder.

In Romans 8:28, Paul states that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him. Yeah, I know that part. I haven’t always loved God but maybe He has used me. See, I passed over verse 26 in the past, but I see it now. Even before letting us know that God works in all things, Paul also reminds me that the Spirit helps me in my weakness. Even when I don’t know what to pray for or what to say, the Spirit is helping me in my weakness. Paul doesn’t say the Spirit only helps me in my strength. Or in my recovery or when I know I need help. He says that the Spirit helps me in my weakness.

I have a lot of weakness. A lot. And the Spirit helps me in that. He knows what I need even though I don’t. So, no. I wasn’t always wrong or bad. I didn’t spend most of my life without any good. Not because of me. But because the Spirit helped me in my weakness and still does. Then and now.

 


Apologies to Gary Larson, creator of The Far Side for my poor Photoshop skills.

Gary Larson, The Far Side


Proverbs 4:23 – “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

In order to understand how setting limits plays out in relationships, it’s important to know that there are two types of boundaries — defining boundaries and protective boundaries. Each kind of boundary has a distinct purpose. It’s important that you learn the difference, because defining boundaries should become permanent in your life, while protective boundaries are the ones you can move “beyond.”

Defining boundaries are values that establish who you are and who you are not. They are at the core of your identity and reflect what you believe is important and valuable in life. Here are a few examples:

–I follow God and his ways and will always live my life in him.
–I love my family and friends, and I will treat them with grace and truth.
–I know my mission and purpose in life, and I will not divert from it.
–I say and receive the truth; I’m neither silent in saying it nor defensive in receiving it.

These defining boundaries help you and others know the real you, the person who has substance and stands for things that matter. They help guide your decisions and directions in life. Here are some examples of how defining boundaries might be used in your relationships:

–“I’m looking for a position that fits my strategic abilities rather than one that is in operations.”
–“We have a rule that all who live in this house go to church.”
–“I want to hear the truth from you about how you think we are doing in our relationship.”
–“I’m a night owl, so let’s not plan something that requires that we get up at, oh, dark thirty.”

This is simply how you tell people who you are and how they tell you who they are. You clarify and define yourselves with these sorts of boundaries.

Protective boundaries are different. They are designed to “guard your heart” (see Proverbs 4:23), and your life, from danger or trouble. There are times when you must protect your values, emotions, gifts, time, and energy from people and situations that may waste or injure them. Protective boundaries have several elements to them. You have to face the reality that talking hasn’t fixed a situation, and you have to set a limit.

A protective boundary might begin with a statement like this: “I want us to work this out, but nothing I’ve said has made any difference, so I’m taking a different route.” This affirms that you value the relationship and that you want the other person to understand that your actions are not punitive but, ultimately, redemptive. You are simply trying to solve a difficulty in the relationship with your protective boundaries.

The consequences portion of the boundary then needs to be stated in an “If . . . then . . .” form to make sure the other person understands you mean business. For example, consider the following statements:

–“If you continue being thirty minutes late to events, I will take a separate car.”
–”I need a better work ethic from you in the office, or we’ll have to make some changes.”
–“If you keep spending over our budget, I will cut up the credit cards.”
–“I can’t lend you any more money until I see you making serious efforts to find a job.”
–“I want to bring your grandkids to see you, but if you just surf the Web while we’re there, it’s not worth it to come.”
–“I want to see my grandkids at times when you don’t need a babysitter; otherwise I feel taken advantage of.”
–“If you won’t stop drinking too much or using drugs, I will take the kids and move out.”

Here’s the important distinction between a defining boundary and a protective boundary. A defining boundary is forever and unchangeable, part of what makes you “you”; a protective boundary can change if the other person responds to it in a healthy way. Your defining boundaries mean that, for example, you will always follow God, love people, be committed to personal and spiritual growth, and so forth.

These are the core parts of you, and you don’t change them. But you might change a protective boundary if the other person understands what they are doing to you and makes a significant change. Then you might lessen or end the consequence: no separate cars, no making changes, reissue the credit cards, and so forth. When the change happens, you no longer need the protection.

This devotional is drawn from Boundaries in Marriage, by John Townsend and Henry Cloud.


CASTIMONIA’S PARATUS MEN’S RETREAT 2017

Here is some information on the retreat.  I pray that the Lord uses this retreat to help men in their sexual purity journey.  The link to register for the retreat will be available later this Summer.

Friday, November 3rd – Sunday, November 5th

Castimonia’s Paratus Retreat is a retreat for any man who struggles with any type of sexual purity.  Paratus is Latin for equipped.

If you are wondering about whether to attend this retreat, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you fully equipped for the spiritual battle that is raging around us right now?
  • Are you a man who strives for biblical sexual purity?
  • Are you a man who struggles with maintaining that sexual purity?
  • Do you want a circle of brothers helping you in your sexual purity journey?

Join us for a weekend dedicated to equipping adult men of all ages, all walks of life, and various levels of struggle with the tools necessary to wage this spiritual battle and emerge on the other side as the sexually pure men that God intended us to be.

At the retreat, we will discuss strategies for equipping ourselves with tactics necessary for battling the enemy. We will discover the true meaning of brotherhood and fellowship. The leaders of the retreat will set the example of vulnerability and accountability. We hope to pave the way for all men to be fully equipped to wage war against Satan’s tempting assaults and emerge VICTORIOUS.

Registration will begin this Summer! 

 


We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. – Step 10

 I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being wrong. I don’t like admitting I am wrong. I don’t even like recognizing I am wrong. That is one of the sucky parts of recovery. I am much more aware of my wrongness. It’s painful. And humbling. Which plays right into my major character flaw of pride. In recovery, through my wrongness, my pride takes a beating. Which leads me to…Step 10.

My sponsor thinks this is a great opportunity for me to explore the depths of my wrongness. To really get in touch with it. I truly do think he is enjoying his job a little too much. Every time I come up with something to whine about, he says something like “Isn’t recovery awesome?’ or “Yeah, baby!” I worry about him. So back to my wrongness. I am to journal on how I am wrong each day and what I do about it. Basically, do I promptly admit it or not. Fun stuff.

So today I got the mail when I got home. My wife had just gotten home before me. I like walking out to the mail box because I take my dog with me. She likes walking out without a leash so she can go in the field across from our house and hunt for rabbits and deer and elk and other wild animals that she imagines are running free in that field. So she runs free and I get to add to my collection of junk mail, coupons for terrible restaurants that won’t last more than a few weeks, and bills. Yeah, me. Oh, and catalogs. Lots and lots of catalogs.

Today was no different. Flyers, coupons, bills, and a catalog. Only this was a dangerous catalog. A James Avery Jewelers catalog. How is that dangerous? Well, when I disclosed my history of infidelity to my wife, part of the requirement was to admit to any gifts I had given to affair partner. Yep, I gave someone earrings from James Avery. Classy, huh? So that store is ruined for my wife. James Avery didn’t do anything wrong. I did.

I took the mail inside. It seemed like there was a giant spotlight on that catalog as I walked into the house. I was trying to hide it under all the other mail. I gathered up the flyers and junkmail and tried to keep that catalog out of sight as I started pushing it towards the garbage can. I would like to take this moment and say I stopped, promptly showed her the catalog, and admitted to my wish to try and hide it but that my new self wouldn’t allow me to deceive her. Only I would be lying. Again.

So the next morning, as I journaled, I had to write down that I hid it. I threw it in the garbage can. And I had to do Step 10. I took personal inventory, I realized how wrong I truly was, and I promptly admitted it to my wife. Which sucked. She got mad, she was hurt, and I caused even more damage. Only this was a little different. I realized I was wrong. That’s new. I even did something about it. Which is definitely not normal for me. Yep, Step 10. More wrongness to come.