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A Different Kind of Freedom

by Jeff Shaw, Director of Out of Darkness

Memorial Day is a time when we commemorate those who have fallen fighting in the service of our country. We give thanks for the sacrifice made by others for our freedom. And from this point forward, Memorial Day will hold special significance for me and a different kind of freedom.

This time last year, I spent my last day bound by the chains of pornography. Now I celebrate my first year being free from it. I want to share with you the journal entry that I wrote right after giving in and right before the Lord set my feet upon the rock. I pray that in some way this encourages you and ministers to your heart as the Lord has ministered to mine.

Monday, May 30, 2011 – Memorial Day

My thoughts are swirling right now. Lord, help me make sense of them. Examine me, and know my thoughts; try me, and know my ways. You hold my every moment. You calm my raging seas…

After a great week of communing with the Lord at the beach, I went to Helen with friends and failed miserably. Pride, speech, music, too much drinking…and not seeking the Lord in prayer or Scripture. I came home today feeling tired, dejected, and defeated. And in resignation and after a weekend in the flesh, I looked at pornography.

During the past week, and concluding today, I listened to a 4-part series by Andy Stanley called “The New Rules of Love, Sex, and Dating.” It brought regret, hope, and a challenge. Looking at pornography creates two serious issues:
(1) A real body is not good enough, and
(2) One body is not good enough.

If I don’t stop my bad habits now, they won’t be magically fixed by marriage. In fact, the problems will worsen and intensify. I want to examine my paths now and walk in the right direction. I don’t want to meet the woman I desire to marry and then tell her that I promise to straighten things out. I want to do the hard work with the Lord now in preparation. Marriage is not successful by promising a commitment, it is successful by practicing commitment values NOW (honoring women, sexual purity, taking my thoughts captive, self-control).

After the sermon, I finished reading a detailed article in Vanity Fair about pimping and trafficking. I thought I had heard it all, but the accounts given were shocking and horrific. What really stuck with me was a closing comment from a seriously traumatized victim. She said, “It’s so big, this industry, its’ everywhere. Strip clubs, pornography, the street, the hotel – for us, it all amounts to the same revolting thing.”

So why must I/can I walk in victory over pornography?
(1) It is pleasing to the Lord.
(2) Pornography subjects women to the worst kind of abuse and degradation.
(3) A healthy marriage depends on it.
(4) I do not want to prop up the very demonic stronghold I am trying to topple.
(5) I have been redeemed and I no longer walk in the filth of the world I once walked in.

Prayer: Father, You have already delivered me. Let me never think I am fighting a losing battle. Let me never be deceived into thinking I can conquer the flesh of my own will power. Make Your strength perfect in my weakness.

Thank You that I do not stand condemned. Please prepare me to be a man who will make a difference in my city, who will cherish and lead my wife with purity and integrity, and who will raise up my children in Your ways through word and deed. Amen.

___________

The Lord has been faithful in answering my prayer, and I am so grateful to Him that I can now celebrate one year of freedom from the chains of pornography. Am I perfect? Certainly not. I still struggle with lust, pride, selfishness, and a host of other sins. But I am more than a conqueror in Christ.

“Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So He subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.” – Psalm 107:10-16           

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