Take Your First Step Today Towards Freedom

I’m such a fan of XXXChurch and I lead one of their x3groups every week. If you’re a man or woman looking to get free from porn, jump in now! This offer is good until the end of October.

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It’s Time To Live Open

We’re starting a brand new teaching series this Sunday with our students that I’m super excited about.  My life has been changed in some serious ways with real accountability.  In fact, I have 3 guys I meet with on a regular basis who have complete access to any area of my life at any time.  I wouldn’t still be in the game without them.  I’m excited to see how this stuff can help our students build this crucial habit into their lives now.

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This series is based on the content of Craig Gross’ new book Open.  We’ll be pushing students and families to purchase their own copy of the book to take it deeper.
Here’s some more info on the series itself:

Despite our best intentions, temptation always seems to loom around the corner, threatening to derail us into a desperate world of secret behavior and covered-up indiscretions.  From families to relationships to the drama at school, we are suckers for bad ideas.

Why do we so often make poor decisions that can lead to life-shattering results?

Why do we promise ourselves to do better only to slide back into our old habits?

Why can’t we help ourselves?

The time has come for each of us to become accountable.  To experience the freedom, peace of mind, and overwhelming self-confidence that come from living a life free of secrets and lies.

In every area of our lives, it’s time to go beyond self-help…. It’s time to get accountable.

It’s time to live Open.

Part 1 – Sunday, November 3rd

Part 2 – Sunday, November 10th

Part 3 – Sunday, November 17th

Part 4 – Sunday, November 24th

 

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Sincerely Freedom: Spoken Word Video By Nick Vitellaro

people sometimes wonder why i’m always talking about porn and it’s grip on young people these days.  i’ve been accused of teaching on sex too much.
frankly, i don’t think i have taught on it enough.
this video being launched RIGHT NOW by xxxchurch explains it in a better way and with more passion than i’ve yet seen.

it’s totally worth the 7 minutes to watch.

if you’re struggling and want freedom, you can find it!

X3Church: I’m Afraid To Tell Anyone About My Sin

this was originally posted at xxxchurch.com, and can be found here.

the image was created by sam jessup and can be downloaded for free here at creationswap.

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I just read a confession here on the site, and it gripped my heart.  I posted the first part below, but head there for the rest of the story.
“I am married with 2 small little girls whom I adore. I grew up in church and regularly attend with my family. I’ve know the Lord for some time now and never thought I had a problem. My wife and I used to have the best “intimate” time together. After our 2nd child things pretty much went sour and sex became a major source of arguments in our marriage. I have been visiting porn sites on a daily basis for quite some time now…”
As pastors and shepherds, called by God to teach and lead His people, it should grip our hearts that this man has been struggling in isolation for “quite some time now” while regularly attending church and being a part of his faith community.  It certainly could be that his church has many resources available to help, easy and safe accountability structures to plug into, and teaching from the pulpit that communicates realness and transparency… and he just hasn’t yet made the move towards that help.  But more likely, his church leaders probably haven’t gone enough out of their way to create the kind of environment where this kind of confession can easily come out.
How can we create an environment in our churches where families can get quicker access to help?  Here’s 5 quick ideas – would love to hear some more from you in the comments!

1)      Stop teaching through Leviticus.

I’m not saying it’s not important.  Or that you forever kick books like Obadiah to the curb.  But we have to ask ourselves how our sermons intersect with the raw and messy realities of everyday life for the people sitting in our pews.  For many churches, it’s time to take a risk and bring this pervasive issue to the front of the room and stop beating around the bush.

2)      Publicly share your story. 

Share how you were first exposed to porn.  Talk about the things you have to still do today to keep yourself pure.  Let them know you’re not immune to it just because you are employed by the church.  I still remember reading Craig Groeshel’s book Confessions of a Pastor.  He’s got an entire chapter devoted to this stuff (called “I Have to Work Hard to Stay Sexually Pure”) and he models really well how to openly break the ice with your congregation.

3)      Make plans now for National Porn Sunday on October 13, 2013.

Let xxxchurch do the teaching (via video).  It’s completely free and will certainly move your church to a place where porn can be talked about.  Check out all the details right over here.

4)      Host a Porn & Pancakes event at your church.

This men’s event for junior high boys and up is a great option for many churches.  Imagine a movement of men in your church who are not ashamed to battle this issue and protect their families from its influence!

5)      Let people know that they can’t shock you, and that you won’t think any less of them for sharing.

In fact, the truth of the matter is you’ll respect them more for their honesty and authenticity.  Repeat this line often, and after a while people will actually believe it.

X3Church: Demonstrating A Healthy Sexual Ethic To Children

this was originally posted at xxxchurch.com, and can be found here.

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As youth pastors and youth leaders, we’re always thinking of better ways to equip our teenagers to be successful when they leave the nest of our youth ministries.  Within weeks of graduation, our seniors will be inundated with opportunities, temptations, and situations that will test their faith and determine the trajectory of their futures.  How can we set them up to have the best possible sexual ethic as they enter their young adult years?
Here’s some things we’re trying in our context; would love to hear what you’re doing in the comments section below!
  • We’re committed to leading by example. Teens can see inauthenticy in adults a mile away, and they know better than anyone that actions speak louder than words.  When a youth leader can sit down with a teenager and share specific things they did LAST WEEK to fortify their purity, a powerful connection is made.  We’re always looking to recruit adult leaders from our church who are honest and real about their struggles; it’s critical that our teens are surrounded by people willing to relate to what they’re going through with honesty and vulnerability.
  • We’re trying to talk about it in large group more often.  If you’ve never been accused of talking about sex too much in youth group, you probably aren’t talking about it enough.  It’s constantly running through their minds, their bodies are primed and ready for it, and whether we like it or not, it’s the language of pop culture.  The Bible has a lot to say on it as well, so we’re trying to bring it to the front of the room!  We recently did a great series on sex, love, and dating called “Facebook Official”, which you can find over at www.downloadyouthministry.com
  • We’re consistently bringing it up in our small groups.  Whatever your small group ministry looks like – whether you have groups that meet in homes during the week, or as an element tagged onto the end of your crowd program, small groups are a great environment to go deeper on issues of purity.  Take your group through books like Pure Eyes or a video curriculum like Pure Sex by Simply Youth Ministry.  Small groups are also a great environment to teach students how to hold one another accountable, and you can help by pairing them up.  If they’re using X3Watch on their computers and mobile devices, ask them to add you to their account. 
  • We’re trying to resource our parents so they can do the heavy lifting themselves.  Most parents are deeply concerned about their kids’ sexual ethics, and don’t want to hand the entire responsibility over to the church (nor should they).  As pastors, we can help resource and empower them to have successful discussions with their kids.  If you’re like me and you haven’t yet parented teens through their teenage years, you may feel inadequate in this realm.  One thing we’re going to be trying soon for our parents is a meeting on this topic, and I’m going to invite 4-5 different parents who have navigated this stuff successfully to participate in a panel discussion.  I will moderate, but the real teaching will come from these seasoned and successful parents and will give practical ideas to the other parents in the room.
  • We’re trying to do more than just drop a book in a teen’s lap There are some great books and resources out there for kids and teens – way more than when I was in high school.  Don’t ever discount the mentoring role you as a youth worker can have in the life of a student when you work through a book together.  Instead of just handing them a book to read, what if you threw a $10 Starbucks card in the back of it, and invited them to talk about it with you when they finish?

X3Church: Sobriety Is Leading By Example

here’s a post i originally wrote last month for xxxchurch.com. be sure to head over there to check out some other great posts from pastors willing to open up on this pervasive issue.

It might be because I work with teenagers, but somewhere along the way I learned how to make farting noises with my hands.  The underarm method is way too obvious in many situations, and this alternative way is perfect for long staff meetings, boring church services, and awkward elevator rides.  What’s even funnier though is watching my 2 year old daughter trying to do it.  Everything her dad does right now, she tries to imitate. Whether I realize it or not, I’m leading by example.

As pastors, we all know the haunting and chilling truth that our leadership rises and falls on the example we set for those in our church. In fact, if your people are reading and living the Scriptures in Hebrews 13:7, they are told to examine your life and live like you – to imitate your choices and behaviors and follow your example. The overwhelming pressure that this verse puts on us as pastors is one that others simply cannot fully understand until they stand in our shoes.    And that’s why sobriety from pornography is so important as a pastor. 

There’s a good chance the example you’ve left for your church in regards to this issue is not one of perfection.  And that’s actually a good thing… nobody can relate to someone who’s perfect.  Maybe you’ve been caught and have lost your ability to lead.  Or maybe you’re in the process of restoration and rebuilding trust.  Maybe nobody knows…

What if the example you led by was not one of perfection… or of silence… or of failure… but what if it was one of transparency, vulnerability, and honesty? What if you left a clear path for others to follow in terms of…

  • how to come clean?
  • how to invite accountability?
  • how to build action steps to protect yourself when temptation comes?
  • how to keep yourself from relapsing?

Take heart!  You have an opportunity like few others to lead by example.  The idea of taking your limping brothers by the hand and leading them on the path to freedom – because you know the path well – is a powerful and honorable calling! Whether we realize it or not, we are leading by example. The question is, are we content with our people following it?

X3Church: What Do I Do When I Find Myself Struggling With Lustful Thoughts

i’ve recently joined the blogging team at xxxchurch.com to help out on their pastor’s blog – in the picture below is a link to my first post.  i love the ministry of x3church and how their perseverance over the years has now given them a platform to bring the issues of pornography’s destructive nature into the church where it belongs. check it out!