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Posted by on May 8, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Can I Take Sexy Photos of Myself for My Husband?

xxxchurch - Can I Take Sexy Photos of Myself for My Husband-You’re wondering if taking those risky photos for your husband is okay during his recovery from porn or if it will trigger him to use again. I get it. It sounds innocent enough.

I mean, it is photos of yourself for your spouse.

Technically speaking, you are staying in the lines of what should be accepted into a marital sex life. But, there are some reasons it may be a no go.

Here are a few of thoughts to ponder through before doing a boudoir shoot or something else of that nature:

1. What are YOUR motives in having these photos done?

I know that may seem like the answer is simple, but it’s not. When I was in the midst of my husband’s addiction to pornography, I thought that maybe having sexy photos done of myself would curb his appetite for other forms of pornography. It did none of that.

In fact, he continued to look at porn AND my pictures to find his pleasurable result. I just contributed to him looking at pictures and masturbating to them. When it comes down to it, he said that it felt like I was giving him PERMISSION to continue in the addiction.

Another motive that I had, but just didn’t realize, was so I could feel “as good as” the women in the porn he liked. Pretty twisted, right? Think about it: when our husband’s look at pornography, it makes us feel less than. We feel like we don’t measure up somehow. This is not the truth in any way, shape or form. Our husband’s pornography addiction truly has NOTHING to do with us.

Yet, we still feel unworthy at first. So, in my entangled web of thoughts, I figured that I could prove to him and myself that I do measure up through giving him what I thought he needed. That idea backfired and only left me feeling used.

346x396-recover-inline2You may have not even thought about what the photos could do to you and YOUR recovery. Taking the photos, and then seeing the pleasure that your husband would undoubtedly get from them, could cause some triggers of your own. I know that it set off all the internal triggers of not feeling good enough, having no worth, being a sex object, being a less than wife and reliving all of my husband’s actions.

If those motives sound familiar, you probably should not be taking boudoir photos. Don’t go backward in your recovery. Go forward.

2. Pornography addiction is just that: ADDICTION. With any addiction, there is a cycle.

According to Rob Weiss, LCSW on January 20, 2015, in Sex Addiction Expert Blogs, pornography, and sex addiction cycles look like this: Triggers – Fantasy – Ritualization – Behavior- Numbing – Despair-Triggers.

This means that there are triggers which begin a behavior that leads to the end pleasurable result that leads to despair which starts the cycle all over again. If your hubby is struggling or has struggled with pornography this cycle is true for him. Addictive behavior has triggers. Some of those triggers could simply be “sexy” photos.

While the photos would be of you, the photos could still cause the addictive behavior cycle because they could very well be a trigger. If you are anything like me, the last thing you want to do is possibly trigger your husband to use again. Be an advocate for HIS recovery, not a stumbling block.

3. Lastly, when having Boudoir photos done, it possesses the questions of who is taking them, how are they being stored and where (if you are) are you getting prints?

If anyone other than your husband is taking the photos, you are allowing someone to see you in a way that is reserved for only your husband. In this day and age of technology, if you are storing the photos on any device, that leaves the door open to your photos accidentally making it onto the internet. If you are having the photos printed, who is printing them?

If you are printing them anywhere outside of your home, you are again allowing other people to see you in a way that only your husband should. If you are printing them at home and storing the physical photos at home, what actions are you taking to ensure your children (or anyone that is not your husband) will not get a hold of them?

All of the actual steps to have the photos need to be thought through thoroughly.

Bottom line here: While there may be some gray areas, if you are looking to spice things up in the bedroom, try to always do it in the flesh together.

Buy some nice lingerie and wear it in person for your husband. Start having conversations about your sex life with each other. Open up the door to honesty and deep conversation.

Instead of spicing it up through actively condoning masturbation, start creating some real intimacy. Real intimacy will make your marriage better! Build up a deeper, genuine relationship. Taking pictures can never compare to the REAL thing.

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Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

10 Lies Men Believe about Porn

xxxchurch - 10 Lies Men Believe about Porn (1)Have you ever had thoughts such as, I’m the only one struggling with porn like this, God must be so ashamed of me, or I just have got to get stronger to overcome my addiction or anything like that?

These thoughts are present in almost every case of pornography addiction I’ve seen. 

But do you see the problem? These thoughts are all lies! Worse yet, they keep you from discovering the truth that will set you free. This is why my mission over the past few years has been to help men not only recognize the top ten of these lies, but more importantly, to understand the Truth that counteracts them. (To go deeper on this topic, check out my book, Ten Lies Men Believe About Porn).

Lie #1: My pornography addiction defines who I am.
TRUTH: Only God can define who you are.

The only One who can give you your true identity is God, because He is the One who made you. Furthermore, the moment you trust Christ to redeem you from your sins, all of them—past, present, and future—are removed from you. Which means God no longer defines you by your sin, He defines you as His beloved child. 

Lie #2: I am alone in my struggle with pornography addiction.
TRUTH: You are not the only one who deals with this.

Many men who use porn feel a strong desire to hide it, fearing they are alone in their struggle. The truth is, everyone struggles with something. We’ve all got junk. Once you bring your struggle into the light and trust others to come alongside you in it, the temptation begins to lose its power over you.

Lie #3: My pornography addiction is about fulfilling my sexual desires.
TRUTH: Pornography addiction results from the attempt to receive intimacy without risking rejection.

Many men fear they will be rejected if people discover the truth about them, so they hide their flaws and pretend to be who they think others want them to be. Deep down though, they know they’re bluffing. This is where pornography becomes so tempting. It offers men a way to satisfy their desire for intimacy without the risk of being exposed as the fraud they fear themselves to be. In reality though, the shame that comes from using porn fuels their isolation and drives them farther away from the true intimacy they are searching for.

Lie #4: I can compensate for my pornography addiction by doing enough good in other areas of my life.
TRUTH: None of us will ever be good enough to earn our own way into Heaven.

Many men view the Bible as a checklist outlining how to earn your ticket to Heaven. But God didn’t give you these rules to show you how to earn your own way. He gave them to you to show you that you can’t earn your own way. Once you recognize how you could never do enough good to compensate for the bad things you’ve done, that’s when you’re ready to discover how good the news of the Gospel truly is.

Lie #5: My pornography addiction separates me from God’s love.
TRUTH: Your sin can never separate you from God’s unconditional love.

God will never, ever pull away from you regardless of what you’ve done in your life. His love for you is unconditional—which means your behavior has nothing to do with it. Furthermore, trusting His love frees you to trust Him as a compassionate Father rather than fearing Him as an angry judge. This is the beautiful gift of His Grace—and it’s the only thing strong enough to set you free from the shame that fuels addiction.

Lie #6: I’m strong enough to control my pornography addiction on my own.
TRUTH: In order to find true freedom, you must give up on your own ability to control your sin.

God wants to set you free from your addiction, but He leaves it up to you to decide when you’re ready to release it to Him. Doing so isn’t easy though, as it requires facing the full depths of your sin, including the pain you have caused others. It’s for this reason that many men will only consider asking for His help after they’ve tried every other option to fix things on their own. The longer you wait though, the harder it can become.

Lie #7: Jesus can set others free from pornography addiction, but not me.
TRUTH: If you believe Jesus is Lord, you can trust that everything He promises is true, even for you and your situation.

If you’re trying to overcome your struggle with porn in ways that contradict the truth of Scripture (fighting in isolation, hiding your sin, striving to fix yourself), you won’t find freedom. This isn’t because the Gospel isn’t true, it’s because you aren’t following the path God provided. You are trying to do it your own way. Please understand though, this isn’t a behavior issue; it’s a trust issue. Trusting Jesus with your entire life (faith) is the only way to experience the freedom promised in the Gospel.

Lie #8: Holding on to unforgiveness has no effect on my pornography addiction.
TRUTH: Unforgiveness is one of the most common ways to allow spiritual bondage back into your life.

Nothing will keep you trapped in bondage more than unforgiveness—even if the offense against you has nothing to do with your pornography struggle. Unforgiveness pulls your mind away from God and keeps your focus on the injustices committed against you. If you don’t release them, your bitterness will allow bondage to creep back into your heart, robbing you of the freedom you have been seeking through recovery. 

Lie #9: I must shut down my desires if I want to be free from pornography.
TRUTH: God doesn’t want you to shut down your desires. He wants to redeem them for His good and purpose.

Men often attempt to ignore or overcome their desires in an attempt to control their struggle with porn, but that leaves them jaded, frustrated, and disillusioned at best. God never meant for you to disengage your desires though! Once you begin to understand the truth about who God is, how much He loves you, and how desirable a life with Him truly is, your desires will automatically shift further away from porn and move closer towards what is Holy.

Lie #10: God can no longer use me because of my pornography addiction.
TRUTH: God uses broken people to do amazing things for His kingdom, regardless of their past.

God still has a plan for your life, no matter what you’ve done. In fact, God can even redeem the bad things in your life to equip you for whatever calling He has for you. Look at how God has used my 20-year struggle with pornography to help countless men find freedom from their own struggles with addiction. In the same way, if you whole-heartedly seek after God, He will use you in amazing ways. 

Once you learn the truth and believe what the Bible says about each of these lies, they lose their power over you. My own life has been completely changed through these truths, and I believe the same can happen for you as well.

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” –  JOHN 8:32

 

 

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Posted by on Apr 17, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

5 Steps for Finding Freedom from Porn and Masturbation

xxxchurch - 5 Steps for Finding Freedom from Porn and MasturbationLife would be so much easier if there were a big ole ‘recover from porn and masturbation addiction’ button lying around, wouldn’t it? I know given the chance, many of us would hit that baby so hard it would crush under our enthusiasm. Or maybe frustration is a better word…

But alas, if it exists, it remains a mystery! That’s what brings you here. But, I bring good news, my friend! There is in fact, a big, red button! …It just looks a little different than you may have imagined.

Instead of slamming down on a shiny hunk of plastic, all you’ve got to do is be a STARR:

See you’re not alone,
Tell someone,
Get Accountable,
Recognise pain,
Restore intimacy.

These are five simple statements that will lead you into finding freedom from porn and masturbation. Let’s zoom in on what they mean.

1. See You’re Not Alone

The biggest lie addiction feeds you is ‘you are alone! If anyone knew, they’d be disgusted!’

Not true.

Check out the stats. Chances are, someone (well, a lot of someone’s) in your life, and in your church are struggling too.

Women are especially vulnerable to this lie. They can feel drained of their femininity and balk in the face of struggling with ‘a guy’s issue.’ But remember, one in three visitors to adult websites are female, and between thirteen and twenty percent of Christian women consider themselves addicted! You are far from alone.

This ministry wouldn’t exist if you were the only man or woman struggling. But here we are. Let that sink in.

2. Tell someone:

The Bible refers to Satan as the ‘Father of Lies.’ He works best in the dark where there is no one to rebuke him. When you confess your struggle, you shed light on that dark place and open a space where truth can be spoken! When you tell someone and are accepted, it flies right in the face of the lie ‘You are not worth loving’. It is a taste of the grace of God.

If it were possible to get free on your own, you wouldn’t be here, would you?

Recovery is a team effort. As Craig Gross says, a good story requires more than one character!’

3. Get Accountable:

You need someone on the outside to speak clarity. Your brain is on autopilot, so you need someone to remind you, ‘You don’t actually want this, remember?!’ in those clouded moments of lust. This means having someone you can text or call at any time (even those crazy hours of the morning) when temptation strikes, meeting regularly (over coffee, Skype or phone) to share victories and struggles, using accountability software or joining a group. Accountability means brutal honesty and vulnerability. But it also means freedom.

4. Recognize Pain:

Sexual addiction is an intimacy disorder. Think of yourself as a tree. The fruit is the behavior you exhibit. But apples don’t just grow out of nothing, do they? Their life-force is in the roots. Those who fight sexual compulsion often have their roots in trauma, abuse, abandonment or some other form of ruptured intimacy. Healing comes when you recognize those hidden triggers. It can help to delve into these issues with a mentor, counselor or recovery group. Without dealing with the root, you’ll never heal the fruit.

5. Restore Intimacy:

Recovering from addiction isn’t about cutting something out of your life. It’s about adding to it!

This addition is threefold: With yourself, your community and your God.

Self-intimacy isn’t as inappropriate as it sounds! This means self-love and self-care. When was the last time you believed you deserved to be pampered? Be gentle on yourself, nourish your soul and allow yourself a treat!

Community is vital because shame is isolating. It stops you from engaging with the world like you used to. Community is a healing way to re-enter reality. Enjoy sports, hobbies, activities, church or just having semi-regular coffee with some friends. They will start breathing freedom and hope into your lungs.

Of course, true and lasting intimacy is with God. He knows every image and temptation you’ve faced. And he likes you. He enjoys you! Connect with him however you can, whether that means swearing, running, singing badly, reading theology books or sitting on a beach with him in silence. He longs to come near and hold your heart.

The Bible talks about shining like stars; I’ll bet my hermeneutics are off, but you’ll sure as heck start shining when you use this process of being a STARR. That big, red ‘recovery’ button may not be as far off as you think. Get to it.

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Posted by on Mar 27, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Death by 1,000 Little Cuts

little-cutsThere once existed a now-outlawed form of execution in China called, Ling Chi, or slow torture. This form of execution was given to the worst of offenders with this idea: none of the wounds were fatal, but they were all powerful when added together.

Sadly, we’ve given our society a different sentence, with the same execution. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “regular porn users are more likely to report depression and poor physical health than nonusers are . . .” Why?

If sex is only a biological urge, how on earth does looking at naked pictures eventually make you sick and depressed? Maybe the reason goes much deeper than you think.

A headline on CNN’s website caught my eye: “The Demise of Guys.” The article was co-written by a psychologist named Dr. Philip Zimbardo, a professor emeritus at Stanford University, whose research sounded the alarm about what pornography and video games are doing to young men today.

According to his research, the young men who play video games and use porn the most “are being digitally rewired in a totally new way that demands constant stimulation,” causing a condition he calls “arousal addiction.” He explained that while traditional addictions cause a person to crave more of the same substance (more cocaine, more alcohol), people addicted to porn and video games need more of something different: games that are increasingly more intense, or porn that is increasingly darker.

Cut by cut, this obsession causes many to sacrifice their schoolwork and relationships in the pursuit of their need for a buzz. Not one of the games or visits to a porn site were the demise of these young men — but added   together each event contributes to a life spiraling out of control. Death by a thousand cuts.

Over time, exposure to pornography makes you incapable of being sexually turned on without it. Our world calls it “innocent”, “normal” even. What most don’t see is what it does on the inside.

An April 2016 cover story in Time magazine explained how many young men (and women too) in America believe porn has wiped out their ability to have actual intercourse with a person right there in front of them.

Porn doesn’t make sex better; it makes it worse. You can’t spend hundreds of hours looking at thousands and thousands of naked, airbrushed, artificial, young bodies, and then expect to be satisfied with one real, imperfect, aging person when you get married.

If you are hooked on pornography when you’re single, you will bring your addiction into your marriage, and it will rot out your relationship from the inside out.

Of course, this wasn’t God’s design for our sex lives. He’s not trying to keep us from the pleasures of sex, in fact it’s quite the opposite: He wants us to have amazing sex!

But unfortunately, when you take what God has told you not to touch it can keep you from experiencing what He wants you to have.

Instead, we must “make a covenant with [our] eyes not to look with lust” (Job 31:1 nlt). It’s not “no” it’s just “not now” if you aren’t married yet.

The good news is that despite choices you may have made up to this point, from this day forward you can make a commitment to strength and honor. Your current present will someday become your past, make it one your future self will thank you for.


Levi Lusko is the pastor of Fresh Life Church (a multisite church in Montana and Utah that he and his wife Jennie pioneered in 2007), and the founder of Skull Church and the O2 Experience. He is the author of the new book, Swipe Right: The Life-and-Death Power of Sex and Romance and Through the Eyes of a Lion: Facing Impossible Pain, Finding Incredible Power. He serves as host for Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusades and travels the world speaking about Jesus

Download a sample of the book here for FREE!

 

 

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Posted by on Mar 24, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Friday Rant: Sex Is Not a Chore

sex-not-chore-blog[Note: On Fridays we sometimes post new rants from one of our writers, edited only for typos and spelling. This new series is not for those easily offended or for those who only like to play nice. So read this before you start posting your comments.]

First, let me start by saying this post does not apply to anyone in an abusive relationship. If you are in one, please get the help you need in order to better your situation. This post is for the average, run of the mill marriage.

Second, I am a married woman that struggled with this issue. The more I learn my old way of thinking about sex is incorrect, the more I realize that sex is intended to intimately and wonderfully connect a husband and wife in a way nothing else can. (Aside from God of course!) I want you and your husband to experience the full, loving, gracious, joy-filled marriage that God intended.

Now, let’s talk about sex.

Ladies, this one is for you. Listen closely, sex is NOT a CHORE! Stop treating it that way.

So many times we have seen a married couple portrayed as the husband wanting sex and the wife continually acting annoyed because of it. Picture it, the husband and wife are laying down in bed and the husband tries to initiate sex with the wife. The wife turns to him, rolls her eyes and say “You’re kidding, right?”. That is not healthy. That is not funny. That is not marriage. STOP doing that.

Women, sex is for you too! Sex is not just for the men in our lives. Sex is supposed to be enjoyed by both male and female together. I’m pretty sure that is how God intended it from the beginning. Stop making excuses and start trying to get this right.

The most common excuse that I hear women say is they are tired. We are all tired. Get over it. Trust me on this one. I am a mother of three children under the age of eight. I AM TIRED. This is not an excuse. If you are too tired to be intimate with your husband, something else in your life needs to change. Ditch the T.V. show before bed, put the kids to bed earlier, find a way.

Here’s the truth, your marriage NEEDS to be the priority.

Listen, your children are wonderful. Your job is fantastic. Your hobbies are great and I love T.V. too. I get it. I am there sometimes too. So this is going to be hard to hear: your children, your job, your hobbies and especially television are not your first priority. Some of those are big ones, but not your first one.

x3-fighting-for-my-marriage-facebook-10If you’re a Christian, God is the first priority. Do you know what’s after God? Your husband is. Nothing else.

Chances are that your husband loves you. Even though it may not be what you want at the time, chances are that he shows that love through wanting to be with you physically. With that said, every time that you reject being with him, you are rejecting his love for you. You are rejecting his connection to you. You are crushing his self-esteem. You are rejecting him. When this happens one too many times, your marriage starts crumbling. You grow apart. And once it’s just you and your husband and you’re both retired after the kids leave, guess what, you have no real marriage.

This can all be avoided if you allow yourself to enjoy sex with your husband! I know, I know that many of you are thinking “He doesn’t help enough”, “He doesn’t say the right things”, “He isn’t emotionally available like I want him to be”. I get it. Here’s the thing though, YOU cannot change your husband. You can pray for your husband. However, YOU can only change YOU. Start by changing the way you think about sex. Start by allowing your husband to please you.

I used to be there. I used to reject my husband a lot. I have seen the difference in our marriage, friendship and life now that I have a better perspective on sex. I realized that my husband wants to connect with me and when I am receptive to him when it comes to sex, he is more available to connect emotionally. And let’s not forget that the sex is just flat out great!

Women, when you have sex with your husband and truly enjoy it, not treating it like a check on your list, you want to have more sex. Guess what happens after that? Sex gets better, your relationship with your husband gets better, your marriage gets better and then, before you know, your life gets better.

So stop asking how many times a man NEEDS to have sex. Stop treating sex like one more chore on your checklist. Start thinking about your husband. Start making your husband the priority. Start thinking about sex like an opportunity to make your marriage amazing! You will see miracles happen.

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Posted by on Mar 20, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

5 Ways to Build Integrity

xxxchurch - 5 Ways to Build IntegrityOne thing I find in short supply at times is, unfortunately, integrity. I think that’s part of the reason we value it so much when we find someone who actually displays it.

It’s a breath of fresh air.

However, it’s one thing to know you might lack integrity in certain areas (like your sex life), but something else entirely to learn how to develop it.

Integrity is about more than just doing the right thing. 

It’s about building the kind of character that can survive a crisis intact. In the same way that a building with integrity can survive a storm, a life that has integrity can do the same.

So how do you build integrity?

1. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Of all the lies we tell, the ones we tell ourselves are the most deadly. Question your motives. Stop justifying what you know to be wrong. Stop excusing yourself. For example, if you click a link with a picture of a beautiful woman, ask yourself, “Did I really want to read that article that badly, or was it just an excuse to get an extra helping of eye candy into my diet?”

2. Seek wise counsel. We all have blind spots. It’s one thing to be honest with yourself, but sometimes we are simply blind to faults others can see. Find three or four people who believe in you and ask them for feedback on your life.

3. Decide to honor God, not please people. Doing the right thing is not always easy, and sometimes it’s not the popular thing. Honoring God is not the same as believing you are always right and everyone else is wrong – it simply means you are going to live with a long view of what to do, informed by scripture. It means enduring short-term pain for longer-term gain. To avoid becoming arrogant or deluded, make sure you test what obedience looks like for you, not only against Scripture and prayer but also with your circle of wise counsel (see point #2). They will see things you can’t see.

4. Be appropriately transparent. We’d all like to be something we’re not. Admit your shortcomings. You don’t have to tell everyone what you’re struggling with, but you need to tell someone. Part of being honest with yourself is being honest with and accountable to others. And as much as you might be afraid that everyone will think less of you, living transparently and not pretending to be someone you aren’t actually makes people think more of you. It’s counter-intuitive. It’s also transformative.

5. Put yourself first when it comes to personal growth. I know that sounds selfish, even unbiblical, but I’m not sure it is. Jesus prepared for thirty years before ministering for three. And during those three years, he often disappeared to pray. You can only give from what you’ve received, and he spent whole seasons of his life receiving from God what he needed to give to the world. Cancel some appointments. Get up earlier. You need to build a solid spiritual, emotional and relational foundation for your life. Pray. Open the Bible (for you – not for anyone else, pastors). Go for a run. Eat something healthy. Go for dinner with a friend who gives you life. If your cup is empty, how are you going to fill anyone else’s?

These are five practices I’ve found helpful in my life.

What have you discovered that helps you build integrity?

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