A benefit of seeking a life of rigorous honesty is that I don’t have anything to hide. I no longer spend my days trying to remember what story I told to whom. I don’t parse my words when I talk to my wife about my day, trying to avoid discussing how I truly spent my time. I don’t say “fine” when others ask me how I am doing or how I am feeling. Honesty is new for me. It is also very freeing.

I am participating in a men’s Bible study through my church. We are studying a book by Louie Giglio called Goliath Must Fall. I really like his style of writing, how he is very transparent about his struggles and his failures. The premise is that Christ already has victory over the “giants” in our lives and therefore we can claim that victory and not allow them to have a foothold. Last night’s lesson was on fear. I was sure I had this one whipped. I don’t have anything to hide anymore so therefore I don’t have anything to fear.

The author spoke about his relationship with his father and how something small his father said to him had such a lasting impact. A throwaway sarcastic comment where both of them laughed at the expense of the son seemed innocuous to the father but was so damaging to the son. The son didn’t recognize at the time that his father was the product of an environment where rejection was constant and present. Not until at the end of the father’s life did the son realize that his father had experienced nothing but rejection and that he constantly tried to give acceptance to his son but didn’t always succeed.

My father is dying. He is gradually slipping away. He has fought against a neuromuscular disease for the last twenty years. He is strong and determined. He is losing. He is also losing his memory. The dementia is impacting his ability to function on a daily basis. The struggle to care for him is draining my mother both physically and mentally.

I realized this last week when visiting my father that I have pent up resentment and animosity towards he and my mother for the rejection I felt throughout most of my life, not only for what they said but for what they didn’t say. The times I hoped to hear them tell me they were proud of me or that what I did and wanted was important. I allowed that rejection to have a foothold. I realized that when I was visiting with them. They both came from difficult circumstances. I realized that, too. My animosity and resentment has started to truly melt away.

In our study this week, I was dwelling on this resentment and animosity that Louie Giglio had for his father. I thought about the animosity and anger I had towards my father. Then I realized that even though I was letting go of that foothold in my life, I had one more.

Reviewing fear forced me to look deeper into my life. I realize that I have a deep seated fear. I am afraid that I have damaged my kids too much. I fear they won’t be able to see me as a “good” father. I fear my wife won’t ever be able to trust me again. I realize that I can only do what my father does for me now. Each time I see him he tells me how much he loves me and that he doesn’t want me to leave. I pray that God show me that He has conquered these fears as well.

by Bevill and Associates

You’ve tried it all. You’ve lectured. You’ve given ultimatums. You’ve staged an intervention. Still, your loved one continues to spiral deeper into drug or alcohol addiction. If you didn’t care about this person so much, you’d have given up long ago. And, as much as you don’t want to give up, it feels like you’ve run out of options.

Before you lose all hope, consider the following suggestions from Rodney Robertson, D.Min., MA, M.Div., family therapist at The Ranch drug rehabilitation center in Tennessee:

#1 Listen more than you talk.

When someone needs help, it’s natural to do a lot of talking — educating, offering guidance and problem-solving. What comes less naturally to most of us is listening.

With someone struggling with addiction and its defense mechanisms like denial, it can be more effective to “listen to what they have to say with empathy so that you understand where they’re coming from,” says Robertson. This way, when you do start talking, there’s a better chance your loved one will feel heard and understood enough to listen.

When it’s time to talk, “be clear and direct, not critical, condemning or judgmental,” says Robertson. The message should be “Im concerned and I want to know if youre concerned too. Can we talk about what it would look like to get help?” You’re not trying to make the decision for them but you want them to realize they can’t do this alone.

#2 Get others involved.

If your loved one wont listen to you, they may be open to hearing the same message from someone else. “This person needs to be someone they trust, not someone you trust,” Robertson warns.

Particularly if the family relationship has been compromised or trust has been eroded, other influences may be able to work with the addicted person to recognize the seriousness of the problem and map out where to go for substance abuse treatment. “As a close relative, you may not be in the best position to help,” says Robertson. “The relationship may be too close and too involved, where its easy to overstep boundaries.”

The best support a loved one can offer, Robertson says, is realizing they can’t heal an addiction. What they can do is help the person struggling with addiction to reach out to others who can treat the illness, such as a support group or therapist.

#3 Step back and allow natural consequences to do their work.

You can’t control another person, and a person struggling with addiction has to take responsibility for their own recovery. Trying to manipulate, bribe or make decisions for someone is a sign of codependency, a condition in which someone is excessively emotionally or psychologically reliant on a loved one struggling with addiction.

“In some cases, loved ones put so much effort into reaching out, convincing and offering help that it can actually prolong the process of going to treatment,” says Robertson. As a result, the addict never feels the full financial, legal and personal consequences of their actions and continues to blame others for their problems.

Stepping back can be the hardest thing to do when someone you love is suffering. It feels neglectful and risky. But the good news is that “when a family member finally lets go and steps back, it doesn’t take long for the addicted person to realize they need help,” says Robertson. “Often, it’s when you back off and the addict is left without support that they come to terms really quickly.” Other influences such as the legal system may be the ones they’ll finally listen to, but for the message to get through, you have to take a step back.

#4 Build your own support network.

Sometimes your concern for your addicted loved one overrides your concern for yourself. Although understandable, this approach depletes you and focuses your attention on things that are beyond your control. “Take heart that you’re doing what you can and then take care of yourself and your needs,” says Robertson. Turn to people who love and support you, including friends, family, a therapist, a support group like Al-Anon and other parents in similar situations.

Sometimes the most powerful steps you can take are the ones that, to an outside observer, may look like giving up. But what you’re really doing is giving your addicted loved one a chance to see what their life has become and discover their motivation for getting better. Addiction took them away, but they aren’t gone forever — treatment can help bring them back.

By Meghan Vivo

One of the many joys in life is seeing how the Lord shows up in our lives, such as through our friends and family but especially through the hearts and acts of strangers.

A little over a month ago, pre-Harvey, a gentlemen from Tennessee contacted the Castimonia ministry after listening to one of our Sexual Purity Podcasts.    He is on the road to recovery and found the podcast useful and a blessing to him.  Then Harvey hit!

As many individuals in the ministry were recovering from Harvey, one Castimonia member in particular let me know that his house completely flooded and unfortunately he did not have flood insurance.  He and his family had to move out and live with his wife’s family until the water went down (which took almost a week) and the first floor of their home was rebuilt.  It is then that I asked the Lord for help.  I wanted to help out this Castimonia member and his family just like I was helped out so many times in my recovery.

The first thing the Lord answered with was to encourage a group of men to go to his house and help him and his wife “Muck Out” his house, removing several feet high of sheet rock, insulation, furniture, and other items.  This all day event turned into such a blessing for the men who were able to perform this work.

Then, the Lord prompted the individual from Tennessee about helping out post-Harvey.  He gathered people from his church for prayer and also sent a package of gift cards donated by him and his church family to our brother in Katy whose home was flooded!  How truly amazing it was to see a stranger multiple states away send a sign of hope to a family in Katy who he has never met.  And what a blessing for a church in Tennessee to gather around their brother in Christ whom they have never seen to bring some joy to this family in Katy.  I am amazed at God’s love and so blessed to have witnessed these acts of kindness.

Originally posted at: http://intentionalwarriors.com/2017/10/01/grieving-hugh-hefner/

by james tarring cordrey

I saw my first Playboy magazine when i was nine years old. That night changed my life, and not for the better.

It wasn’t glamourous. It wasn’t liberating. But it was intoxicating.

Shortly after news of Hugh Hefner’s death broke, the post mortem on his legacy began. Many have weighed in: tributes from celebrities and women who posed for his magazine hereand here; condemnation from feminists here and here; a scathing piece in the New York Times here; and religious commentary here.

It’s not surprising that so many people have something to say about the man and his impact on culture given his mission was to push the limits of society with the “Playboy Philosophy,” which he called a “new morality.”

Playboy wasn’t merely “Entertainment for Men,” as the magazine’s tagline read. It was a broadside against traditional sexual mores, which Hefner considered “not natural,” nor “logical”; and therefore “not truly moral.” (Hefner appeared on the PBS show Firing Line in 1966 and discussed the Playboy Philosophy at length with the show’s host, the late William F. Buckley, Jr.).

At nine, i knew nothing of the Playboy Philosophy, but it had a direct impact my life just the same. i am not alone. The same intoxication i experienced that night in the mid 1970s is the same feeling countless men have experienced.

Hefner has been lauded as a pioneer of sexual liberation, but he didn’t free anyone. He did, however, enslave many.

Just ask the men who became addicted to pornography and their wives — or their ex-wives; the girlfriends of men addicted to pornography; or the women who suffer under the frustration that men their own age won’t marry them — or sometimes won’t even date them — as a result of Hefner’s influence.

Men who followed Hefner’s advice now fill up recovery group meetings on a weekly basis, dealing with damaged relationships, destroyed marriages, unemployment which stems from getting fired for watching pornography on the job, confusion about how to relate to women in a healthy way, conflicting messages about what it means to be a man in this world, and on and on and on.

It took a while for my anger at Hefner and other pornographers to subside years ago when i was first working through my recovery, but it did eventually. Now i feel a certain commonality with Ethan Renoe, who — regarding Hefner — wrote: “I don’t celebrate his death; I’m more brokenhearted by how he lived his life.”

His life and his empire illustrate the great emptiness that inevitably come from pursuing a porn lifestyle. You keep discarding women of your own age in favor of younger and more enhanced ones, eventually getting to the point where the women you seek are young enough to be your grand daughters.

And no matter how many you have, it’s never enough.

The mainstreaming of pornography is something that some praise as liberating, while others condemn it as misogynistic and sexually exploitative. All can agree that Hefner was the man responsible for it.

The fruit of Hefner’s work was ultimately to sever the connection between sexual activity and meaningful relationship. He accomplished that by promoting women as sexual objects rather than extolling their whole womanhood: their intellect, the true beauty of their souls, and their marvelous complexity.

That seems like misogyny and sexual exploitation to me.

Craig Gross at XXXChurch was quick to write a commentary piece on Hefner’s death in which he makes the point that Jesus loves Hugh Hefner.  While it will grate on many people to think that Jesus could love a pornographer like Hefner, it’s important to say that it’s true.

Jesus loves those who seem beyond love.

As a former porn addict who was spinning more and more out of control until He reached into my life, i rely on the power and truth of Jesus’ love; therefore, i am compelled to agree with Gross on that point.

But it’s important that when we say that “Jesus loves Hugh Hefner” that we also acknowledge the truly wicked things Hefner did, not out of spite or condemnation from those who are holier-than-thou, but in order to honor those who were — and still are — victims of his work.

Hefner’s life was grievous. He gave us poisonous fruit and we need to name that. He was an example of what not to be as a man. The challenging thing for those of us who struggle with pornography addiction is owning the fact that we would become just like Hefner without God’s intervention.

Pornography is tragic, and so was the man who brought it into the mainstream.

by Bevill and Associates

Does it seem like the same thing keeps happening to you in all your relationships? Does your heart get repeatedly broken? When you are a love addict, your relationship is almost always the most important thing in your life. When it’s good, it feels really good. But frequently your relationships are unfulfilling, disappointing and maybe even painful.

You might think of yourself as the unluckiest person on the planet. Somehow you keep being attracted to people who appear to be everything you’re looking for at first, but in the end you never seem to get back as much as you give. This isn’t really because of bad luck. You have patterns in your relationships that continually repeat themselves. It’s important for you to recognize your part in these patterns.

Falling in Love Too Fast

Here’s an example. You have recently ended a relationship and are heartbroken. In a very short amount of time, you meet someone else. The encounter may be a random meeting, or it may be that you sought out a new partner through online dating sites or other means. Without allowing yourself time to heal from a breakup, you are immediately looking for a new partner.

Once you meet someone new, you fall head over heels in love. This is your soul mate, you are sure of it. Family and friends urge you not to rush in so fast, but you repeatedly fall deeply in love with people you haven’t known very long, and you get completely carried away with each new relationship.

Missing the Signs of an Inappropriate Partner

There are a lot of reasons why someone you meet may not be right for you. Some are more serious reasons than others. Inappropriate partners usually give off signs that you should pay attention to early on in a dating relationship. He or she may let you know that drinking is the most important thing in life or that he or she has been unable to hold a job for longer than a few months. Your new partner may need someone to lie for him or her or to be bailed out of trouble. Because you are so desperate to be connected, you disregard red flags that should stop you in your tracks.

Your pattern is to miss the subtle hints that your date isn’t mentally healthy or is unavailable to have a committed relationship. The signs are there, and you will recognize them as long as your head is in charge rather than your needy, vulnerable side.

Giving More Than You Get

Your partners are typically self-centered and emotionally unavailable. They may have a problem with alcohol or drugs. They may be married. But you try to win them over anyway.

Your pattern is to give a lot more than you get. You call more often. You may contribute more than your partner on a financial level. You’re quick to be available when your loved one needs you, but you find that when you need someone to be there for you, he or she may not always come  through. You wonder why you can’t seem to get back all the love you are giving.

Hanging On When It’s Not Working

When love causes more pain than joy, most people recognize that it’s time to end the relationship. The pattern of a love addict is to keep hanging on long after others would have given up. You keep hoping that the other person will change and that he or she will be all that you’re looking for. You look for reasons to blame yourself for whatever has gone wrong and you are continually trying different strategies to make the other person love you as much as you love him or her. This is a sign that you probably have a very deep-rooted fear of abandonment. To you, love is like a drug that you can’t live without.

Do you recognize your recurring patterns in your relationships? Once you realize that there are patterns and that you are participating in this self-destructive dance, there is hope that you can heal. You can learn to get past patterns of love addiction by working with a counselor or attending meetings of Co-Dependents Anonymous. Recovery starts with recognition of your patterns.

One of the greatest myths that is pervasive in our culture today is that you are entitled to a great life and that somehow, somewhere, someone is responsible for filling our lives with continual happiness, exciting career options, nurturing family time and blissful personal relationships simply because we exist. But the real truth is that there is only one person responsible for the quality of the life you live. That person is you.

Everything about you is a result of your doing or not doing. Income. Debt. Relationships. Health. Fitness level. Attitudes and behaviors. That person who reflects back at you in the mirror is the chief conductor in your life. Say hello!

I think everyone knows this in their hearts, but the mind can play games, tricking plenty of people into thinking external factors are the source of failure, disappointment, and unhappiness. But the truth of the matter is that external factors don’t determine how you live. You are in complete control of the quality of your life.

Successful people take full responsibility for the thoughts they think, the images they visualize, and the actions they take. They don’t waste their time and energy blaming and complaining. They evaluate their experiences and decide if they need to change them or not. They face the uncomfortable and take risks in order to create the life they want to live.


You cannot borrow half
of who you are
from someone else,
yet people try to do it
all of the time,
they just call it
a relationship!
Jennifer O’Neill,

Step Four means looking deep into me. Way deeper than I ever imagined.