Does Siri know you better than your friends?

Who are you connecting with?


 

Did you know that the average person checks their phone 110 times a day?*

 

I was in a bit of disbelief when I heard this, until I paid attention.

 

It didn’t matter if I was in a conversation, eating dinner, watching a movie, or just hanging out- I noticed that people we’re always on their phones. (I wish I could say I was exempt from that group, but I can’t.) But why? The obvious answer would be the plethora of distraction. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest, Temple Run, Candy Crush- the list goes on! But why? Are we really that bored and lethargic that we’ll open Instagram 3 times in less than a minute just to keep ourselves occupied? Or is there something else going on?

 

I think, sometimes, it’s easier for us to be numb than to be sad. Sometimes, instead of dealing with the stress of bills, we watch a show we don’t even follow. Sometimes, distraction is easier than confrontation. Sometimes, instead of calling a friend and asking how they are doing, we check out their Facebook and decide for them. If we’re not careful and we remain unaware of this problem, “sometimes” will lead to “all the time,” and we will find ourselves scared, isolated, and alone.

 

Community matters. Having people in your life that know about the details of your life- the fears, the victories, the struggles, the relationships, the hurt, the promotions- matters! Living on your own, isolated and independent, will only get you so far. You need people who can love you through your messes and celebrate you in your victories! You don’t need 20 people to know everything and having one person is better than no person, but 3-5 is healthy and realistic. Plus, with numbers, you gain the variety of perspective and experience.

 

So, who knows you? Besides Siri.

 

– Anna Weygandt (Intern)

 

* Woollaston, V. (2013, Oct 08). How often do you check your phone? The average person does it 110 times a day (and up to every 6 seconds in the evening). Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2449632/How-check-phone-T…

How Do You Manage Your Sex Drive Without….You Know?

QUESTION


 

How do you manage your sex drive or your desire to have sex without masturbating? Masturbation has been presented to me as my only option and I’m wondering, is there any other way? How can I manage my desires in a healthy way?

 

 

TEAM’S ANSWER

 

First, we’d like to say bravo for asking such a bold question. There are many people walking around with this same mindset, and you are not alone. The fact you are even inquiring shows you desire to do things right so our hat is off to you!

 

I want to bring some freedom and let you know that managing your sex drive is absolutely possible and masturbating is not your only option. In fact it’s probably one of the worst “options” out there. We know that fear isn’t a healthy motivator, so we won’t focus long on this point. But it is worth mentioning the “cons” to masturbation, particularly if you’ve only heard masturbation promoted as the only (normal and healthy) option for controlling your sex drive.

 

Let me start here: I have not met anyone who feels victorious after they have masturbated. Many say they feel ashamed, empty, and lonely when it’s all over. Some may say, “It’s not a big deal,” but habitually masturbating certainly hasn’t led them into greater freedom. (And isn’t that what we’re all looking for — freedom, joy, hope, and, well, abundant life?) Many find that the more they do it, the more heightened their sex drive becomes. This makes sense because

 


When you feed your appetite, it grows.


 

If you’re trying to calm your sex drive down by masturbating, you’re really not helping yourself. Here’s the deal — a couple things happen when you are aroused and/or climax: your body gets flooded with hormones that cause an intense rush of pleasure (endorphins) as well as bond us to the activity, material, faces, fantasies, etc., that we expose ourselves to while masturbating (oxytocin, vasopressin). The combination of these hormones cause us to feel attached to the experience and drive us to repeat the activity—over and over and over—again. That’s the last thing you want if you’re trying to calm down and manage your sex drive.

 

Interestingly, we seem to think that the best way to feel fulfilled sexually is to get as much as we can without going “all the way”. Unfortunately, this leaves us feeling frustrated and empty. Why? Because God created us in such a way that our bodies are programmed to “finish what we start” sexually. Part of this is a relational finish, where we are able to experience oneness with our spouse. Without the relationship that remains after the orgasm fades, we feel like we’re missing something. It didn’t satisfy the way we thought it would, and we’re left with the same desires we started with. Why doesn’t masturbation satisfy these “sexual” desires?

 


Oftentimes, it’s because our sexual desires have less to do with sex and more to do with our physical, emotional, spiritual or relational health.


 

Let’s get back to the point at hand: If managing your sex drive feels like an never ending battle, there’s probably something out of balance in your life. It could be spiritual, emotional, physical, or relational. How can you correct this?

 

1. Learn and practice self-awareness.

Self-awareness is knowing yourself: what you like, what you don’t like, how you feel, what you’re good at, what you’re not good at, and how you affect those around you. Why is this important? Because many of us act out sexually and we don’t know why.

 

We, as humans, hate pain. We’ll do anything to avoid it. When we have (basically) any uncomfortable feeling, we begin to seek out comfort. This is in our design—we were made with the capacity to solve our problems, to seek our answers and find what we need. This comfort may come in the form of healthy relationships, it may come as addictions to food, drugs, T.V., sex, masturbation, etc. Is there anything wrong with seeking comfort? Absolutely not. But we must find permanent solutions to our repetitive problems, be it a lack of intimacy, too much stress, or our inability to process pain.

 

2. Practice putting words to your feelings and experiences.

Am I hurting? Angry? Lonely? Tired? Disappointed? Insecure? Vulnerable? Hungry? When we are able to name our feeling, we are more able to name our need. And when we can name our need, we can fill it in an appropriate way.

When we are unable to put words to our feelings and experiences, we are unable to meet the need that lies beneath the feeling.

 

3. Learn and practice self-control.

I probably don’t need to tell you this, but if you are a believer and have chosen to live a life set apart and unto the Lord, then scripture is pretty clear that God wants you to be able to manage YOU and not be mastered by anything. This includes any and all addictions – masturbation, food, shopping, caffeine, gambling — you get the picture. You can read more about this in I Thessalonians 4:3-7.

 


Consider this: momentary pain is worth long-term gain.


Our culture today is ALL about instant gratification. Delaying gratification (disciplining ourselves) is not a popular idea. We all want to be thin, but don’t want to exercise. We all want to have money, but don’t learn to save. We want to have amazing relationships, but don’t practice the self-control it takes to love, honor, and cherish our loved ones. Simply put, we have to learn to say NO to ourselves sometimes if we are going to reap the benefits of a healthy life later on.

 

Will it be hard? Probably, at least at the start. Remember, if this has been your pattern, you need to break it by abstaining. This means telling yourself no when you want to masturbate, especially if you are used to telling yourself yes, and your body gets what it wants. But, if you persevere, eventually, it will lose much of its powerful pull. The more you tell yourself no, the easier it will become and the cycle will be broken.

 

4. Be aware of your needs.

There are basic relational needs all of us have such as connection, intimacy, being known, etc., and oftentimes masturbation can act as a comfort or quick fix to us when any one, some, or all of these needs go unmet.

Masturbation is often an intimacy issue. It is crucial, for women, to feel known and to feel valued; without these, many women use masturbation as a way to feel loved, wanted, sexy, and seen, if only for a moment. Men may often feel the desire to masturbate when they have felt powerless, or disrespected. But it all comes down to the quality of their relationships and how they feel about themselves in them. Assess your relationships and make sure you have people in your life that know you and feel known by you. Relationships should give us life and bring us strength.

Thriving in relationship will keep you alive as a man and a woman and promote health and happiness. Having enough healthy emotional connection with those around you will help bring your sex drive under submission. If you get what you truly need, you won’t need to use masturbation to get a “quick fix” instead.

 

5. Be aware of what is stimulating your senses.

Let’s break this down: Being aware of what triggers your sex drive or stimulates you is important. What are you watching (movies, TV shows, commercials, Facebook/IM, blogs, etc.)? What are you listening to (music, radio, talk shows, podcasts, etc.)? What types of people do you surround yourself with and what things do you discuss? Are these people life giving? Are they cheering you on and encouraging you to go after your goals and dreams? Do you talk about edifying things or things that take you down a dark road? With sexual perversity all around us it can be quite easy to be sexually stimulated, so just be aware of what you are feeding your body, soul, and spirit.

 

6. Invite God in.

You may have already done this, but invite God fully into your process. Try not to get into the habit of just hoping He’ll answer your unspoken questions or requests. Ask Him. Cry. Get angry if you need to. God is not afraid of your emotions, your disappointments, your fears or your shortcomings. Let Him into it all.

 

When we give God access to the center of our behavior, He is ready and available to provide lasting change. Then discover how you can partner with Him to stay free. This might involve having a written plan for how to manage the feelings that precede your desire to masturbate. The Holy Spirit is able to guide you into truth and can bring you the strength, partnered with the tools, to navigate your God-given sex drive. God will never give you something you’re not able to manage.

 

7. Invite others in and say no to shame.

We are huge advocates of doing life in community. So we encourage you to ask for help and process what you are going through with older, wiser, loving leaders, pastors, parents, etc. They have walked this road before and remember, there is no shame or embarrassment in inviting others in and asking for help. In doing so, you may accidentally find the intimacy, connection, and comfort that you need in order manage your sex drive well.

 

8. Change brings change.
Also, never underestimate the art of distraction.

If you’re breaking out of a pattern of giving in to your sex drive, you’ve got to start doing something differently. For example, instead of staying in bed, get up, read a book, or play a game. Stop watching your “normal shows” or going to your normal after-hours spot if it sets you up for failure. This is part of practicing self-control and self-awareness. In a moment of weakness, you need to retrain your brain and body; don’t give in. Get up. Find another activity. Distract yourself. Stop isolating yourself. Spend more time with others. Make a change, and your change will come.

 

In conclusion, masturbation is not your only option.

Your sex drive doesn’t have to feel out of control. You can manage it by growing as a whole person, learning to get your needs met, and staying in relationship. You’ve just got to get a hold of the vision for why you would pass up on instant gratification, and push through pain: what do you, personally, have to gain? This is a question that you need to answer, genuinely, in your own heart.

 

Powerful people can tell themselves what to do. If you worked through all this stuff and you are whole, body, soul, and spirit, it may simply boil down to the fact that you want to have sex. You may have to practice saying no to yourself, at least for a time. There is nothing unhealthy about abstaining from sex or masturbation, and in fact, it may grow in you all of the character qualities that will lead you to healthy, fulfilling relationships, including marriage and a great sex life.

 

Think of it like this: you can’t have every sweet thing that you see or you’ll be at risk for becoming diabetic. You can’t have sex every time you are turned on. You’re learning how to manage your sex drive now so later you’ll know how to point that desire toward one person – your spouse – and he or she will be ever so grateful you took care of this now, and not five (or fifty) years into your marriage.


11 Questions to Ask Before You Start Dating

AM I READY TO DATE?


“What are the things I can go after now as a single to prepare me for marriage? What do I need to be looking for in a future spouse?”


 We sat down as a team for 3 hours and came up with 11 questions we think would be great for you to consider before you jump into dating.

 1. Do I know who I am?

This question is one ALL of us are discovering and rediscovering on a daily basis, but as a general overview, here are things you might want to know about yourself:

I know who (whose) I am in Christ. We are sons/daughters of God through Christ. We are 100% fully loved, accepted, chosen, restored, redeemed and saved. We have everything we need and will never lack anything because we have a loving Father who gives freely to His children.

I know how to give love to others and how I need to receive love from others.
I know what I love and what makes me come alive.
I know what my core values are and practice living by them.
I know my needs and my wants.
I know my strengths and weaknesses.
I know how to dream for my future.
I am in touch with my heart (aka feelings, emotions, what my heart, mind or body needs).

2. Do I know how to communicate?

Learning and knowing how to communicate what you think, feel, and need will be one of the greatest relational skills you acquire. Since we communicate with our words, facial expressions, tone of voice, and even our body language, we must learn to become people who communicate well. When you are hurt, rejected, or disappointed you will know how to get out what you are feeling so that manipulation, guilt trips, self-pity, and sarcasm (passive-aggressiveness) will not be weapons you reach for when in conflict.

3. Do I know what my boundaries are and how to keep them?

Do you have emotional boundaries? Do you have physical boundaries? Do you have a plan to keep those boundaries in place? Are you willing to respect the boundaries of others? Knowing your limitations (and those of who you’re dating) is an avenue to “protect and preserve” an individual and/or relationship. Figure out what your boundaries are now and own them. Don’t wait to hear what your girlfriend/boyfriend’s boundaries are and then decide what yours will be.

4. Do I have a vision for my life and a plan to get there?

This question is referring to personal character and growth, dreams, and your life calling. Do you know the person you want to be? Do you know the life you want to have? What dreams do you want to live out? Do you know how to accomplish these things or where to find an answer? If there are certain things that are important to you (where you want to live, the job you want to have, how many children you want, etc) then it will make dating easier because you know the kind of life partner you need to partner with. For example, if you are a very driven person and the person you are dating is not then that could be an area of conflict down the road. We’re not saying it never works, we’re just giving you a heads up so you’re not blindsided once the honeymoon is over.

5. Do I have community in my life?

Community is a necessity in our lives. We need people to “do life with.” It’s through relationships that we are held accountable, challenged, experience love, and subsequently grow. We need most (if not all) of the relational roles filled in our lives. Here are some things to ask yourself about your community:

Do I have people in my life that know me and I know them? (moms/dads/mentors, brothers/sisters/peers, church fellowship, small groups, home church family, etc)
Am I intentional about who I am doing life with? (Are there people in my life who love me and challenge me?)
Am I believed in, encouraged and guided to answers? Do I ask for feedback and correction?
Do I know how to ask for help?
Do we know how to have fun with each other? Do we laugh and have adventures together?

6. What does my relationship with Jesus look like?

Do I know Him intimately?  Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? If you haven’t, would you like to? If you have, how are you growing in that relationship? Do you spend time with Jesus? Do you believe He speaks to you? Do you listen for what He has to say? Are you in dialogue with Him and doing life with Him on a daily basis? How does He speak to you?

7. Do I have a teachable spirit and can I humbly receive feedback (even when it hurts)?

This question might be easy to answer now, but think back to times people have confronted you about how you affect them, a room, or a group of people. How did you respond? Even though it’s difficult, being a “teachable” person can cause your personal character to grow and your relationships to grow immensely. Humility is a necessity for growth.

8. Am I responsible and do I know how to take care of things?

Responsibility: the state or fact of being responsible, answerable, or accountable for something within one’s power, control, or management.  This one is sort of a no-brainer. Is your life in order? By life I mean, is your thought life, finances, laundry, house, schedule, etc. in order or are you a hot mess that jumps from one thing to another? Can people depend on you to do what you say you are going to do?  Do you show up on time?  Can people trust you? This is what we mean by, are you responsible?

9. Do I know how to serve? Do I practice putting other’s needs above my own?

Do you walk into a relationship and look for ways to give or do you expect everyone to serve you? Within a healthy context, serving another person is one of the highest forms of love. It can sometimes look like compromising to come to an agreement or doing something you wouldn’t normally do because it brings life/joy to another person. Many days serving looks like sacrifice. Note: Please understand that compromising your core values is not serving. Giving and serving one another within relationship is a give and take. One person should not be the only one practicing this concept.

10. Do I honor and respect people?

Honor: high respect, as for worth, merit, or rank; to show a courteous regard for. Do you know how to value other people, even when they are different from you? Showing other people kindness, value, and love is the mark of a person who looks outside of themselves, or their status, to see other people’s hearts. If someone doesn’t treat others with honor and respect, they most likely will not treat you with honor and respect. Here’s a tip: watch how they treat their waiter/waitress. Watch how they treat their parents. These things reveal a lot about a person.

11. Do I know how to forgive people and ask forgiveness? Or do I keep “short accounts?”

No one likes to be hurt, and it can be even harder to ask for forgiveness when you’re the one who did the hurting. However, forgiveness left unattended is a wide open door for bitterness to take root, causing people to disconnect spiritually/relationally from one another. Forgiveness means restoring the standard to what the relationship was meant to be before the “mistake” was made. It means letting go and not holding the “mistake” over someone’s head. Do you know how to forgive, bless, and release people when they have hurt or wronged you? Do you know how to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong, will you forgive me?” even if you believe you’ve done nothing wrong? This is part of walking in humility, as well as seeking connection and love over being right.

These are just the tip of the iceberg when considering how to be a healthy individual/dater. We are all on a journey and none of us have life figured out but the two most important questions you will every answer in your life are:

Will I believe in Jesus and commit my life to Him?
Who will I marry and commit my life to?

Becoming a healthy individual and not settling for an unhealthy spouse will create healthy marriages that restore the standard of what family life looks like in the world today.  Let’s get to it people!

– Amanda Zentz (Intern)


Should I Pursue A Girl Who Is Still Healing From Her Past?

Should I even consider pursuing a girl who has pain and possible trauma from her past? Let me explain: she was bullied, hated, raped and suicidal. If she has not been completely healed from all the inner wounds yet, what should I do if we both like each other a lot?

Thank you so much for sharing your concerns. You may feel like you want to help her in the process, but remember that you can’t fix or heal anyone. You’ll have to be 100% okay with where she’s at, and 100% okay if she stays there. I would encourage you to consider thinking about some questions before entering any dating relationship:

What do I want from a relationship?
Am I ready to date?
What am I looking for in a girl?
What is it about her that interests me?

I personally believe that it is extremely important for us to have an awareness of ourselves before focusing on someone else. One of our speakers, Jason Vallotton, wrote a chapter in the Moral Revolution book that focuses solely on “the pursuit”. In this chapter, he mentions that we know we are ready for a relationship when we can benefit the other person no matter the outcome. I think it would be great for you to ask yourself whether you think you will be a benefit to her and whether she will be a benefit to you.

Jason also mentions that any cracks in a person’s foundation will be magnified with the pressure of another person. I do agree with this statement and would honestly not suggest that two people start dating when deeper healing needs to first take place.

I would also recommend that you talk with those that you are close with about this situation. Whether that’s a parent, leader, pastor, etc., it’s always beneficial to talk with someone who knows you both well, and who can give you their perspective throughout the process.

As for what you should do right now, I think it would be great for you to continue pursuing friendship with this girl. If she gives you a place in her life, then communicate freely about where you’re at, what you’re concerned about, or anything else. There is no reason why you can’t develop your friendship while she goes after healing.

Additional resources:

Jason Vallotton’s chapter (chapter 5) in the Moral Revolution book. I believe this will really help you and give you some clarity on what being in a relationship should look like.

You should also check out the following teaching series on dating by Louie Giglio and Andy Stanley:

The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating (4 part series) by Andy Stanley (free)

Boy Meets Girl (6 part series) by Louie Giglio ($1.99 a session)


From Lonely to Loved

RAW, REAL, RADICAL GRACE


When I was 18 years old, I completely compromised my sexual purity in exchange for what felt like acceptance. It was a reality I had never experienced before, but one my heart had hungered after my entire life. I was lonely and longing to feel loved. I knew that what I was doing was wrong, but I didn’t have the strength to stand for what I knew was right. I didn’t have the confidence to let go and believe that someday I would be loved the way I truly deserved.

The further I walked down the road of allowing another person to meet my needs in an unhealthy way, and fill the place in my heart that only God can fill, the more hardened I became. I placed my identity and worth entirely in another person, leaving me feeling powerless. A few months into this lifestyle, I gave up and turned back my back on God —  not because I was mad at Him, but because I was too ashamed of myself to look Him in the eyes.


“The further I walked down the road of allowing another to meet my needs in an unhealthy way, filling the place in my heart that only God can fill, the more hardened I became.” 


One day, I looked at myself in the mirror and said aloud to God, “If You’re real, then please get me out of this.” That’s exactly what He did. Soon after I prayed that prayer, some leaders at church discovered my relationship, and it became impossible for me to continue having contact with the person who had consumed my life for nearly a year. I moved back to my hometown and was faced with a choice: I could hide this painful, embarrassing part of myself from everyone, or I could be known and guided through it. I knew that if I didn’t let somebody in, it would surely eat me alive. I thought I was the scum of the earth. I hated everything about myself. I was convinced that I had ruined my life and that God would never use me for anything good again. I was ashamed.


“I knew that if I didn’t let somebody in, it would surely eat me alive.”


As I was honest and let a few significant people in on this deeply vulnerable and wounded place in my heart, I was overwhelmed and humbled by their response. They were overflowing with love, acceptance, and compassion for me. Nothing about what I had done scared them or made them question their love for me. In fact, they only loved me more. They walked hand-in-hand with me through my healing, and more often than not, believed in me more than I believed in myself. Their love kept me going. They had eyes to see me when I was blinded by pain. For the first time in my life, I understood the raw, real, radical grace of God. This grace doesn’t care where you’ve been or what you’ve done. This grace keeps no record of wrongs. This grace doesn’t not require performance or that you have it all together, but only that you have an open heart to see the unconditional love you are made to dwell in. For eight months, God led me through the books of Romans over and over again, until the truth of His Word permeated my entire being. These truths are now what I stand on. My gifts and callings are irrevocable. Nothing can separate me from the love of God. I am free of shame. I am in the light and I am extravagantly loved.

Sara, 24, California


Getting Real About Pornography

FASTING AND PRAYER? NOT MY SOLUTION


I fasted and prayed for twelve years, hoping that somehow the Lord would keep me from looking at porn. I wanted Him to keep me from being tempted. That didn’t quite happen. I would have taken some kind of weird “I’m-stuck-to-the-floor-and-can’t-move-to-look-at-porn-no-matter-how-much-I-want-to-but-know-I-shouldn’t-and-I-would-if-I-could-but-I’m-stuck-to-the-floor” experience, something against my will, but that didn’t happen either. I didn’t get the impartation of holiness or a miracle verse that took my sexual struggle away. I was the most spiritual person that I knew, and yet I couldn’t quit sinning no matter how immediate and sincere my repentance was, or how noble and pure my intentions were toward everyone around me.


“I didn’t get the impartation of holiness or the miracle verse that took my sexual struggle away.”


One month before I turned twenty-three, I found myself in a unique situation: I was sober enough to see that I was stuck, and, despite my pretensions, I needed some answers. I felt like my years of confused petitioning of the Lord culminated into the next season of my life. The Lord superseded my healing with His leading. I made myself a part of a group of guys who were serious about finding their purity and their freedom. They didn’t do much that I thought they should (like pray and intercede); they just talked to each other. It was unbelievably uncomfortable. For the first six months, all I could talk about was how bad I messed up and the dirty things I was thinking. For the next six months, I talked about how I was afraid and how I’d been hurt.


“I was sober enough to see that I was stuck and I needed some answers.”


After that, I started getting more powerful. I told people “no” when I wanted to say “no”. I’d tell people when they hurt my feelings, and when I had a need that they could meet. After three years of that, I’m now somebody that I never thought I could be: someone in control of their emotions and sexuality. My sobriety is measured in months and years now instead of days or weeks, and my freedom is being measured in powerful decisions that I am learning to make.

Scott, 26, Kentucky