One is the Loneliest Number

I have a quick piece of trivia for you. Ever heard the song “One is the Loneliest Number?”

I’m sure you have. Know who sang it?

If you said the Beatles then my friend, that would be incorrect. The original song was written and sung by Harry Nilsson in 1968, and the original title was just “One. Don’t feel bad if you said the Beatles. That’s a pretty common belief. Just the wrong one.

You know what else is a pretty common (but wrong) belief many hold?

That recovery can be done alone. Incorrect.

Unfortunately, many people choose to suffer from their addiction alone. And consequently, when they step out and pursue recovery they try to do that alone too.

Why? Because of shame.

So we stay quiet.
We keep to ourselves.
We read books and do workshops all without talking to anyone else and then wonder why nothing changes.

Hey, I get it. Stepping out into the light with our addiction is hard. Real hard.

I understand that not everyone is comfortable with being open and honest about their struggles.

So an online workshop is a great place to start. It helps us take the first step.

But it can’t stop there.

I know this. I don’t want just to offer you a workshop and have you miss out on the most critical piece of the recovery journey… Other people. That is why all our recovery workshops now come with a minimum of one month of Small Groups Online included.

I know we can’t force you to take advantage of these groups, but we want to do everything we can to encourage you to join one.

And because of this, we are giving you an opportunity to get an entire year of Small Groups Online included with your purchase of the New X3pure for only $199.

Our small groups are a dedicated time for being seen and known by one another – just as we are – in a safe environment where each of us is seeking freedom from addiction, and shame, and pain.

That kind of freedom can only come through the truth of experience – the kind that happens when you’re able to level with others who understand where you’re at.

People who can empathize.

People who can weep with you and laugh with you. People who understand that sometimes, you don’t need to them to do anything other than just being there in that moment, and that is enough.

We need one another.

Consider this an invitation to be there, too.

SIGN UP AT X3PURE TODAY!

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A New Approach to an Old Message

Tomorrow we are releasing the New X3pure to the public, and I’m very excited.

But you may be thinking, “Craig, why is this exciting? After all, isn’t this just a rehash of the same old thing?”

Fair question.

No.
Not really.

Yes, the New X3pure still follows the same teaching as the original, but the approach and style of teaching are completely different. And the teacher is different.

Like I told you a couple of weeks ago, Carl Thomas who teaches this workshop is a straight shooter. He’s been where you are today. He’s gone through the same crap.

And he has his own story of victory.

Watch this quick video about Carl.

 

When we talked about this project, Carl said the only way he would do it was if he could teach it in such a way that the average guy could connect with what was being taught.

No fancy academic language.

No cliché church speak.

Just one guy talking to another guy honestly, bluntly, and unashamed. Like a real conversation, not a lecture or sermon.

So I agreed, and we got to work.

We revamped everything.

The workbook is new.
The teaching style is new.

Even where we shot the video is completely new (we shot the entire series in a tattoo shop).

The goal was clear: to offer an effective recovery curriculum that is 100% unfiltered, transparent, and relatable.

And that’s what I believe we have accomplished.

We are less than 24 hours away from the release of the New X3pure.

Make sure you check it out tomorrow and take advantage of the special introductory offer we are including 1 FREE year of Small Groups Online included with your purchase.

Remember, that offer is only for the first week so jump on it as soon as you can

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The New X3pure Arrives In Less Than One Week

Two weeks ago I told you about something exciting, just on the horizon … The NEW X3pure Video Series and Workshop.

Well, I’m happy to share with you a little more today. First, watch this preview video.

 

Like I told you, one of the reasons I’m so excited about this re-release of X3pure is that it’s being taught by someone who has been through the fires of addiction and has come out victorious.

Someone you can trust and believe in.
Someone who won’t B.S. you and will tell you what you need to hear, like it or not.

I didn’t ask Carl to do the teaching in these videos because of his “pedigree.” I asked him because freedom from pornography isn’t only something he’s talked about, it’s something he’s experienced, personally. And it’s something you can experience as well.

You just need to take that first step and commit to the hard work of recovery. Are you willing to do that?

I know a workshop isn’t going to set you free. Only God can do that.

But this workshop will give you all the tools and insight you need to find lasting freedom from pornography and sex addiction.  And the materials are presented in such an honest and down-to-earth way that you will find it easy to connect with the teaching.   

 

The choice is yours, but again I ask… will you begin your journey to true freedom?

 

It’s your turn.

The video you watched is just a sample of what you can expect.

When you begin the New X3pure next week, you’ll discover:

– Freedom from the shame that keeps you emotionally distant and isolated.

– How to live without the crushing weight of guilt and fear that seems to choke your relationships.

– What it’s like to move away from isolation and loneliness to be truly known and loved unconditionally by others.

– The ability to break free from addiction and the despair that plagues your mind every day.

And what does freedom from that bondage free you to?

– Learn to understand what triggers you to make the choices you do.

– Think with depth, clarity, and joy and know that you are not your failures.

– Interact with truth and honesty with yourself and your loved ones.

– Live a life that is truly abundant and experience a freedom you can feel.

It all comes as part of the New X3pure.

On September 19th – less than one week from now – you’ll be able to gain immediate access to everything this experience has to offer:

The Video Series. Fifteen video modules that will help show you the root of the pain that has caused you to start down the road of addiction in the first place. More importantly, these videos will help guide you through a process of healing that will take care of the problem once and for all.

The Workbook. The X3pure workbook course materials are filled with the accountability tools and the solid guidance you need to work on overcoming your pornography and sex addiction.

Small Groups Online. These groups connect people just like you. People who are learning to walk this new path and who want to encourage and inspire one another down the road.  It’s a group of men who are all on the same journey you are, who are all using the same materials as you. You meet together online at a time that’s convenient for you. It’s all completely safe and confidential, and it will take your X3pure experience into the stratosphere. There’s nothing like the power of groups meeting together.

The New X3pure will only cost $199. That’s it.

But here’s the kicker.  

 

From September 19th to September 26th, if you buy the New X3pure you will get one year of Small Groups Online included with your purchase.

 

That’s a $468 value!

Normally X3pure only comes with one month of Small Groups Online. But if you buy it during this special seven-day promotional period we are going include 12 months.

Trust me. The workshop is great. But it’s the group experience that will be the difference-maker in your recovery journey.  

 

It’s Decision Time.

 

There are only six days left until you’ll have the opportunity to purchase X3pure and get one year of Small Groups Online included with your purchase.

You have a choice to make: do what you’ve been doing (or worse, do nothing at all). You know where that will lead. Are you content there? Is that really where you want to go?

Take the first step on your road to recovery and real freedom. Finally be done with the shame, guilt, loneliness and your addiction.

What do you want for yourself?

 

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Change Is Good

I don’t know about you, but I think change is often a good thing. Sometimes even the best thing. I am always looking to change things up and shake up the status quo.

In 2002, we changed things up by launching a website called XXXchurch.com and going to the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo to hand out Bibles.

In 2004, we launched X3watch, the first free accountability software of its kind and challenged people to change the way they do life online.

In 2010, we changed our ministry focus to incorporate recovery tools by releasing X3pure, a 30- day online recovery workshop specifically for those struggling with sex and porn addiction.

In 2012, we changed the way small groups are done by starting X3groups, the first online support based small groups program for men and women who struggle with sex addiction.

In 2014, we revamped our entire website (again).

In late 2015, we changed the way people view addiction and our approach to freedom from it with the introduction of our cutting edge program, My Pilgrimage.

Then in 2016, we changed things up by launching Recover, the first comprehensive resource we ever offered for spouses of those who committed sexual betrayal.

We’ve been busy.

And I’ll be honest, sometimes we’ve changed things too quickly, and it backfired.

But I am the type of guy who always wants to lead out with fresh vision rather than sitting back on my butt just riding out the ordinary or “the way we always have done it.”

Organizations that are willing to change will evolve and grow. Those who don’t embrace change end up closing their doors after a while.

So, that being said, I have another big change I’d like to tell you about.

Like I said, in 2015 we launched My Pilgrimage and kind of got away from X3pure. There were a few reasons for this.

My Pilgrimage was a fresh new take on a topic that we have been addressing for so long and was so excited to develop an additional resource for people.

X3pure was developed by myself and a professional therapist named Steven Luff, which was built on the work that we did for the book Pure Eyes. Our friend Jake Larson did the teaching for the series and was something we were extremely proud of. That is until Jake lost his position as a full-time minister at his church after years of hiding his porn addiction and an extra marital affair.

This was something that I wrestled with the board of directors. Does the fall of Jake Larson disqualify the teachings that he did at his church or for our ministry? It was still helping people, but it never sat right with me.

One day I got an email from a guy watching the X3pure series and said he connected with Jake and then heard about what happened and lost all hope. He said, “If the guy teaching this stuff can’t help himself, how can I ever get free?” That is when I knew we had to do something else.

I decided we must re-launch X3pure, and I was not going to find just a great communicator, but I was going to find someone who I believed in and you could believe in.

Side note:

Years ago I was given the opportunity to be on a national TV show. It was a 10-minute expose on our ministry and my family, and I spent a few days with an amazing reporter who I had seen so many times on TV. He did an incredible piece on our ministry and a year or so later called me and put me on a 30-minute special for the network. We became friends, although we could never talk about it. He always wanted his reporting to be fair and not have anyone think that he was in my corner. I knew he loved the Lord and we often talked about how our worlds were similar. We were one of the hundreds of booths at an Adult Expo who were the only believers in the room, and he was one of fifty reporters in his newsroom and the only believer. He went out on a limb for me, and the night the 30-minute special ran, my phone rang about 10 pm my time, which was 1 am his. He asked me what I thought. I thanked him again and then he said something I will never forget. “If you ever get caught in the middle of an affair or into this porn stuff, I will cut your balls off, hang them on a tree and light them on fire. Send my love to your wife, Jeanette.” And then he hung up.

I get it. There is a lot on the line, and I hear his voice in the back of my head often.

A few months ago, I called Carl Thomas. Carl, I had known for almost eight years now and was the original small group leader of X3groups.com. Not only the original leader but the guy who grew that program for us. He went on to do some things for us with outreach, web and everything else you can think of. I have spent time with Carl’s family, and his wife was on the recover.org project. I called him and asked, “What do you think about teaching the new x3pure series?”

I didn’t talk about lighting his balls on fire on a tree but said I care more about how you live your life than how good you can teach.

Carl has read X3pure workbook and the Pure Eyes books multiple times and has come out of his own crazy story. He also has been leading at least one X3group since day 1. He knows what guys are experiencing and what guys need to hear. He’s from Jersey, so you have to get used to that accent, but there is no B.S. with Carl, and that is where he and I are most alike.

He shoots straight and doesn’t sugar coat it. I am proud to roll out this new project as we have reshot every video and re-wrote the workbook.

The new X3pure is being released on September 12th.

It still follows the same teaching.

But it stresses Freedom VS. Sobriety as the goal. It’s in your face and blunt. It’s practical.

Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted, but I know that the new X3pure is going to be something like you have never seen before.

Real, honest and down to earth.

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Want to Help Your Wife Heal? Walk into the Fire.

“He is not doing enough,” exclaimed Susan speaking about her husband Artie who betrayed her with his numerous affairs and pornography use.

Her statement left me a little puzzled since I thought Artie had been doing well in his recovery.

And from what I could see, Artie certainly had been doing everything that was asked of him. So, I asked Susan, “What do you need that he is not doing?”

“I don’t know,” she answered. “But he is not doing enough.”

Then it hit me. “Are you saying he is not doing enough in his recovery or he is not doing enough to help your recovery,” I asked her.”

“It’s always about him,” she said as tears formed in her eyes. “What about me? When does he start to focus on how much I am hurting?”

Susan felt Artie was rushing her recovery and wanted her to “get over it” so they could return to their normal life. What Artie did not understand is they could not return to their former relationship.

In Susan’s eyes that relationship didn’t work. And she was right. There was no going back. The only road to travel – if they were to remain together – was forward.

But Susan’s words left me on a quest to determine if other women dealing with betrayal were experiencing similar feelings. And I soon discovered the answer was yes. Over a period of four months, I asked numerous women if their husbands were doing enough to help them heal and all of them said no.

A woman who has been betrayed wants to know her husband understands the depth of her suffering. More importantly, she wants to believe he will be supportive as she heals and not try to rush her through the process.

A man must realize not only is his wife’s trust destroyed but so is her self-worth has taken a beating.

She believes you desire something more than she can offer.
She wonders what is wrong with her that you sought stimulation elsewhere.

346x396-recover-inline2So the question you must answer is ‘do you truly want to help her heal’ or do you want to continue to wish her pain away?

Because if you want to brush this under the carpet you are in for a long and painful relationship. But if you sincerely want what’s best for her and desire to help her recover from the emotional pain I have a solution for you.

Walk into the Fire.

What does that mean you ask?

Walking into the Fire is when you proactively approach your wife during a time when things seem calm and ask a question similar to this: “I am checking on you and was wondering if you would like to share something that may have troubled you today about the pain I caused you”.

Ouch!

Now you’re thinking to yourself that sounds dangerous. And you’re right. Going to her and asking her to share her pain with you will most likely leave a significant burn.

But it’s the long-term payoff that you’re seeking.

“I took your advice,” said Fred during one of our counseling sessions. “She seemed to be having a good day so I took a chance and ask her what negatives thoughts she was experiencing.

“It started out OK but turned into an inferno pretty quickly,” he continued. “It made me very nervous and I was concerned she would not calm down. However, a couple hours later she came to me saying thank you for being considerate enough to care about what she was feeling. It worked.”

Fred’s wife was appreciative because he demonstrated he was willing to stay with her as she struggled through her pain. This told her he wasn’t trying to pull her along in her recovery and was going to allow her the time she needed to grieve and heal.

It is important to understand when a woman is grieving the betrayal she suffered she is healing. Men need to be patient, understanding, calm and stay present during grieving periods. The guys who learn to do this well are the ones who see their wives recover faster and their marriages restored.

Be smart, start Walking into the Fire.

 

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4 Recovery Lessons I Learned While Getting My Butt Kicked on a Mountain

mountain-lessons-squareTwo weeks ago I ran a Spartan Race with my wife. And not just any Spartan Race, the Pennsylvania Super in Palmerton, PA at Blue Mountain. For those of you who aren’t up on what a Spartan is and have no idea what I’m talking about then here’s a brief summary.

This race is an 8+ mile obstacle course race with 25+ obstacles that takes you up and down a 1,400-foot mountain three times across very rugged and steep terrain. It’s brutal, even for those who are in great shape.

This race was without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m in pretty good shape but I felt completely unprepared for this adventure.

It took many days for all the pains and aches to go away (especially at 46) but this race is something unique and it teaches you some lessons if you are willing to learn them. It taught me some great ones about marriage and about recovery.

You see, I came into that race the way a lot of people do when they start their recovery process. They have an “idea” about what the journey looks like, but once they get started they realize that it’s not going to be an easy endeavor and may, in fact, be the hardest thing they ever do.

I see so many men (and women) give up on their recovery prematurely. They come in with grand ideas about making a change overnight and then when they realize what’s involved they tap out. It’s a shame. But I get it.

I wanted to tap out on that race 1,000 times over.  

But that day I saw and learned some things that if people understood when they pursued recovery would make ALL the difference in their journey. Here are four:

1. You don’t race alone

I did this race with my wife and that made all the difference. She needed me at times to push her forward, and I needed her at times to help me. About 4 miles into the race I started experiencing really bad knee pain which killed me on anything downhill. It was awful and there were several moments I questioned if I could even make it.

But Katie (my wife) was there every painful step of the way and supported me throughout. I can honestly say she was the difference maker for me that day.

And if you have an accountability partner they will be the difference maker for you.

59619fc1fd4131af6b0f757d-p copy (1)2. It’s not about speed, it’s about progress

Like I said already, I jacked up my knee around mile 4 after a really hard sandbag carry. Neither of us were blazing up the course prior to the sandbags (both not being runners, or joggers for that matter) but when my knee started throbbing our pace slowed to a literal crawl.

The next 4 miles went so slow and each time we passed a mile marker I thought to myself, “Are you kidding me?”

But after hours of walking, crawling, and limping we crossed that finish line and it felt great. We did it. It just took a ton time and whole lot of determination to just keep moving forward.

Recovery is the same. It’s never about how fast or even how far, it just about the progress.

3. Groups united around a purpose make a difference

One of the coolest things about these races is that you meet people from all walks of life. People you probably wouldn’t ever hang out with but during that race we are all the same.

We all have the one mission. To beat that course.

As a result, no one gets heated with each other.
No one condemns.
No one judges.

If you fall, someone is there to pick you up.
If you need a boost, someone is there to do it.

And when you say I don’t know if I can go on, someone is there to say “You sure as **** can!”

Recovery tools like workshops and filters are fine, and even needed. But having a group around you who are united with you in your purpose to find freedom is going to make the real difference in your recovery efforts.

4. It doesn’t have to be pretty when you finish.

Spartan races usually happen in the woods, on the mountains, and through the mud. They beat you up, knock you down, and leave you with some scars (especially if you lift your head up too quickly during the barbed wire crawl).

This race took a toll on me and my wife. Our time to finish was terrible and I’d like to tell you we crushed every obstacle but the truth is we both did a lot of burpees that day (30 burpees is the penalty if you fail any obstacle).

We weren’t superstars by any stretch and when we crossed that finish line we looked like hell (we smelled like it too).

But you know what? We finished.

And that’s what mattered.

When you are going through your recovery process it’s going to be very similar.

You’re going to feel beat up.
You’re going to be tempted to compare your lack of success with others around you.
You’re going to have some colossal “failures.”

And there are going to be days when you feel like the whole process is just one long punch in the gut after another.

But if you stick with it, even through the ugly times, you’ll finish.

And when you do you’ll say I made it. Who cares how I got here.

Are you ready to start your recovery race today?

It’ll be tough but you can do it. You just need to get out on that course!

 

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3 Non-Obvious Reasons That We Get Addicted to Porn

xxxchurch - 3 Non-Obvious Reasons That We Get Addicted to PornLust isn’t the only reason behind your porn addiction. There are subtle snakes in the grass that need to be hunted and confronted. It turns out: there’s pretty ugly stuff, way down deep, that demands our total honesty.

When you begin to kick porn and find recovery, you’re often told to watch out for “triggers,” like sights, sounds, and even smells that send you down the binge-spiral. But external triggers are internally pressing on something that’s already there.

You have a pre-existing framework in your mental basement that’s easily pushed and provoked.

Porn-users use porn for a lot of obvious reasons: unfulfilled sexual desires, drama at work, a deficit of affirmation, a deprivation of human connection. But there are also some hidden, hard-to-spot reasons that porn is a go-to “fix.” Here are three:

1) The Fear of Aging / The Idolatry of Youth

Pornography is a perpetual, poisonous snapshot of unrealistic vitality. In such a plastic fantasy world, there’s no room for aging spouses, no room for broken bodies, and an infantile coping with the inevitable loss of youthfulness.

Hollywood is already a shaming ground for older starlets and body changes, obsessed with the younger model (literally) and the “May-December Romance” fantasy.[1] Female Hollywood actresses, on average, are about fifteen years younger than their male co-stars; both Scarlett Johansson and Maggie Gyllenhaal were called “too old” for roles with much older male counterparts, John Cusack lamented 20-something year old actresses regularly called “menopausal,” and the late, great Carrie Fisher was pressured to lose a ton of weight for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.[2],[3],[4]

Even more so, the world of pornography, with bizarre exceptions, worships youthfulness as a grotesque trophy to upkeep at all costs. And though we might get older, our “appetite” for specific porn actors doesn’t age with us, and we become imprisoned to an impossible, unhealthy (and creepy) standard.

I work in the hospital as a chaplain, and even the middle-aged are bewildered and shocked by the ravages of age. No one told them what it would be like. At the risk of sounding like an old-fashioned preacher, our culture now, more than ever, is bombarded by heightened perfection, from Instagram to “wellness drinks” to lip injections. “For the first time in history,” says author and Stanford professor Robert Harrison, “the young have become a model of emulation for the older population, rather than the other way around.”[5]

Pornography, in some ways, denies us the difficult discussions around our mortality, by locking us into unchanging images of young models and vicariously placing us with them. Ironically, this “unchanging” aspect of pornography is artificially created by a rotating stage of models who quickly age out of the business (or who die trying[6]). Pornography, by its very nature, pulls us into a Peter-Pan-vacuum, to avoid aging and dying, when such fear could be confronted by direct dialogue instead of denial.

Solutions: It’s hard to let go of youth. Aging isn’t easy, and I empathize with those who try to grasp backwards for nostalgia. But pornography only buries our ability to cope with age; it keeps us blinded in the vicious cycle of demoralizing the elderly, and eventually ourselves. The only way to gracefully embrace aging is to talk about it.

2) The Loss of Power and Autonomy

One of the classic triggers of porn addiction is frustration. Maybe your kids are flipping tables, your boss beat up on you in a meeting, your marriage is far from the wedding album, your thesis or project or application or manuscript got rejected again: all these are enough to tempt you to the internet dungeon.

These events are all a natural part of life, but because “independence” and “autonomy” are overwhelming social narratives, we have an insanely difficult time with loss, failure, and rejection. Many of us never learned to cope with the eventualities of life, so we turn to porn, pills, or thrills to manage them.

Here’s the recipe: national anxiety, personal uncertainty, and positive pep-talk about the future, which all lead to a ticking time-bomb cocktail of inevitable meltdown. When you’re constantly told you can “pursue your dreams” and “follow your heart” but it leads you to a landfill, it’s no wonder we turn to pornography. Porn is a toxic dose of control that’s predictable, but ends up controlling us. Porn is a fake getaway escape that feels safe, but ends up gutting us whole.

In the Bargaining Model of Depression,[7] when someone doesn’t get their way, they use anger to negotiate their terms and then overpower others for results. But for those who are less likely to vent their anger or to overpower other people, they internalize their situation and fall into a cycle of helplessness. These daily losses of autonomy eventually create depression. And you guessed it: there are high correlations between porn users and those who are severely depressed.[8],[9]

Solutions: Get help. By help, I mean, find people to vent to. Find people who can empower you, who can aid you in smaller tasks, who help you feel “un-swamped.” Also risk the brave waters of confronting your boss, your spouse, your children, with gentleness but firm authority. Let your needs be known. Don’t give into a martyr syndrome of people-pleasing and yes-flattery. Stand up when you must, even with a shaking voice.

3) A Lack of Direction and Purpose

Not every porn addict uses porn because of trauma or frustration or personal demons.

Sometimes, we’re just bored. There’s nothing else to do. And hours are wasted on late-night binging and mindless clicking through the internet abyss.

We crave story, adventure, and purpose: we are meaning-making creatures. Without a story, we fill the void with something else. And the only way to extinguish a “lesser desire” is to expulse it with a greater one, a bigger picture, a higher calling, or the “expulsive power of a new affection.[10]

Solutions: This goes two ways. The first is in finding something greater than yourself and then living into it with all your energy. That can sometimes be enough to quit pornography, because you simply won’t have the time or strength.

The second is if you quit porn cold turkey, you’ll have a bunch of free time during the week. This has to be filled with a more attractive option, or else you’ll go right back to your addiction.

In my book on quitting porn, there’s a chapter called, “Quitting Isn’t Enough,” which says, “Quitting porn is not about quitting porn. You’ll need to find something better.”[11]

This means getting out of the house and finding a venue to serve. It means sacrificing your resources, outside your comfort zone, to lift up a particular cause. It means fighting your drift to complacency.

Pornography is easy because it requires little effort, with seemingly small risk, for a seemingly high pay-off—but in the end, pornography hijacks your brain, dulls your senses, and steals your best years. Living deliberately with purpose and momentum is more difficult, with the possibility of failure, with actual effort and high risk and a slim window of pay-off. But it’s within purposeful living that we are fully there, present, engaged, and completely ourselves. When you taste the electrifying sweetness of purpose, there’s no going back: and you wouldn’t even want to.


[1] http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MayDecemberRomance

[2] http://www.vulture.com/2015/05/emma-jlaw-and-scarletts-older-man-problem.html

[3] http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/john-cusack-hollywood-is-a-whorehouse-that-spits-young-actors-out-2014299

[4] http://people.com/bodies/carrie-fisher-pressured-to-lose-weight-for-star-wars-the-force-awakens/

[5] http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/november/youthful-book-harrison-111914.html

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6LRAyoVsF4

[7] http://anthro.vancouver.wsu.edu/media/PDF/Hagen_2003_The_bargaining_model_of_depression.pdf

[8] Please note that this might be a bit of a “chicken-and-egg” situation. Depression can increase harmful porn use, or harmful porn use can increase depression, and even the perceived guilt of porn use can cause depression as well. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/inside-porn-addiction/201111/can-pornography-trigger-depression, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150916185111.htm

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16232040

[10] Alexander Bain, M.A., Mental and Moral Science: A Compendium of Psychology and Ethics, (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1868) p. 345

[11] Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Cutting-It-Off-Breaking-Porn-Addiction/dp/1505350891, ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Cutting-It-Off/dp/B00QE2M6N2

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3 Things That Kept This Pastor Stuck

xxxchurch - 3 Things That Kept This Pastor On PornI can clearly remember the crushing weight of carrying my secret porn addiction onto the church stage each week. It felt like a million pounds on my chest. At times I wondered whether or not a person could die from stress. If so, I certainly felt like a candidate.

I would regularly commit to myself that this will be the last time, only to find myself feeling frustrated and defeated after ‘acting out’ again. I felt like I had tried everything. I used X3watch. I tried avoiding the internet. I got “accountabili-buddies.” I prayed, pleaded, and begged God to save me from myself. But no matter what I did, the problem only seemed to get worse.

My life went on like that for twelve frustrating years before I finally found a sponsor, a support group, and, eventually, my freedom. Since then I’ve not only learned how to break the bonds of addiction in my life, I’ve also learned a lot about what I did that kept me living out destructive patterns over and over again.

If you’re anything like me and you are still carrying around a secret that is killing you, watch out for these things. One or some of them could be why you’re still struggling to find success.

1. Pride is chronic. 

Everyone is prideful to some degree – no one is immune. It was pride that drove me to say things like, “If I could just…” or “All I need to do is…” But the truth is, I was powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing. And my life had become unmanageable. (If those last two sentences sound familiar, it’s because they’re two of the twelve steps in recovery.)

If you’re struggling to conquer your sin, a prideful attitude may be what’s standing in your way. In that case, the prescription is to work toward understanding that you’re powerless. This can be tough for pastors and church leaders, because we’re supposed to have all the answers, right? But even we are powerless against our addictions, and the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can get a handle on them.

2. A jacked-up view of God.

God is all powerful, right? Of course, He is! I never had a problem believing that. I grew up going to church and was always completely familiar with God’s power. My problem was that I didn’t believe God wanted to help ME. I prayed fervently for God to remove my affliction. When He didn’t seem to be doing so, I took it as evidence that He was done with me.

If that resonates with you, then you’re experiencing shame. Shame is the belief that, while others simply make mistakes, you ARE a mistake. Breaking away from shame is no easy task, but it can be done. If you need a good place to begin, start with what the Bible says about you in 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:37-39.

3. It wasn’t painful enough yet. 

One time I called my sponsor after I had just relapsed. I whined about my defeat and asked why I had failed. I’ll never forget his response:

Any living creature, in pain for long enough, will eventually do something about it. I know you’re in pain, but maybe you’re not in enough pain to do what is necessary for you to get better. It’s not the end of the world. It just means you haven’t hit your bottom yet. Don’t worry you’ll get there.”

I did, and it hurt. But it finally hurt enough for me to do something about it.

Do you see any or all of these three things happening in your life? Today can be the day of your redemption, the day you turn it around for good.

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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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A Challenge to Husbands

husbands-challengeI am going to be honest with you.

If you know me, I think you can expect that from me in everything I write.

If you are without a wife or significant other, you can skip this post and read something else.

This blog post is just for the married men or those in committed relationships.

Your journey is not a solo journey.

Since you have a life-partner, she is also dealing with the downsides of your struggle whether she knows it or not. If you have spent any money on your credit card pursuing your addiction, there is a huge chance you had to fill her in on your secret. Maybe she caught you before you sought help, or maybe she is the one who found the My Pilgrimage experience for you.

Either way, she is need of some help, and she might not even know it.

I have sat down with numerous couples who are dealing with sexual betrayal because of porn, affairs or things of that nature.  Every woman I have spoken with tells me what her husband needs or should be doing. They don’t want to talk about what they need to be doing.

I understand some of the pushback.

Let’s say you are 400 pounds and your wife weighs 100 pounds. I tell your wife she needs to go to a weight loss camp she is going to tell me I am crazy. She doesn’t have a food addiction or a weight problem, but you do. In that case, she is right but when it deals with sexual betrayal she has been affected in ways that she doesn’t even know, and this is having adverse effects on her and in your relationship, and it won’t just get better once you get through your journey.

 We created Recover.org because we saw this need for over ten years and let me tell you, this program is amazing. 

It is well thought out and designed around the very topics that need to be dealt with but rarely are. Recover is presented by women who have been through it and shared their experiences and healing to offer hope to women just like them.  Think of what the My Pilgrimage program is for you. 

She needs a support system that guides her towards recovery also. You can’t be this for her.

We have this program priced at $499 with three months of small groups, and we include an abundance of helpful resources as a bonus.

Here is the deal.

I want men to lead in their marriage and their families.

I want men to lead when it comes to the hard stuff.

I want men to take responsibility and see what they have done to their spouse or committed partner.

I want men to purchase Recover for their wives. Don’t send them a link. Don’t say “Hey you should check this out.” Buy it for them PERIOD.

 Don’t wait till next week to do this.

Do it today or at least by tomorrow and I will personally give you $300 off.

Watch this video:

Guess what?! We lose money selling it for $199 with three months of small groups. I don’t care at this point. I am getting upset at the number of men who are not owning this and doing anything for their wives. Many women have written in, and they don’t understand why they should have to pay for this. They shouldn’t have to … you should.

This offer is good for today and tomorrow until 8 PM Eastern, and you won’t see it again.  Don’t email me after the deadline because you stalled or didn’t open my email.  This is good today, and tomorrow only (8 PM Eastern).

Simply head to www.recover.org and use the code “CRAIGVIDEO” at checkout when you select the one-time pay button.

I think a lot of you know we have recover.org/retreat as well in San Diego. Some of you need to send your wives here to get the recovery they desperately need. I have three spots left and have a partial scholarship available if needed just email me at craig@xxxchurch.com this week. 

Purchase Recover Now for $199

 

 

 

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