Tag Archive: freedom


let me be honest, i am tired of all the Oscar Pistorius ‘stuff’ – i am tired of it and i wish it would go away.

i am also deeply disturbed by it. i don’t know that i completely understand why, altho i know it has something to do with the fact that it feels like almost everyone has an opinion, many people have made judgements, many others are just sending links and updates and quotes and there seems to be something a little too much in that – this article that calls us all vultures, seems to capture some of what i am feeling the best

i have mostly wanted to not write about it, because i don’t want to be just another voice commentating on something i don’t have a lot of facts about – presuppositions for sure, news posted comments definitely and a lot of opinion and argument and sentiment and so on, but no one really knows what happened [except maybe Oscar] and maybe we never really will. so i will keep my writing to the idea of the thing, rather than the thing itself, as that is something i do have a little bit more of a valid opinion about.

the celebrity aspect has to be a part of it – if that was James Smith [google ‘James Smith’ to make sure i haven’t accidentally picked another celebrity name] then this case would not have even registered a blip on the radar. in fact there was a newspaper headline board on a pole when i went out earlier that read ‘two more girls killed in cape town’ and no one [relatively] is going to even know that that happened. so because the guy who allegedly shot the girl [Reeva Steenkamp by the way although it finally feels like everyone now knows her name as well] is famous, somehow this case means more.

i mean at this very point i am multi-tasking between writing this blog and trying to convince someone on facebook that a cartoon of Elmer Fudd blowing a woman’s head off with a shotgun because she is making a duck face at her camera is NOT OKAY… it is not “just a cartoon bro” and even further, ” I’m 100% positive no person on their right mind will shoot a girl in the face for taking a picture like that.” Yes, i’m with you on that point, i don’t think they will, but THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT OKAY!

on a different page, my friend Megan is posting awareness photos as to how often images of violence are subtly woven into advertising as far as women are concerned and the link from her original post to an article focusing on ‘America’s Next Top Model 8’: Week Four: Crime Scene Victims just makes me feel sick to my stomach – the challenge is for each model to pose as a person who has been killed in a different way – with a judge commenting, “What’s great about this is that you can also look beautiful in death.” – i couldn’t even make it through all the images…

it just leaves me wondering how far have we gone? and how long will we continue to call this all normal?

and how can i be part of the remedy?

i think it must be along the lines of posting and speaking and pointing towards and declaring LIFE. not to pretend that darkness and death and brokenness is not happening [we must never do that – we MUST act when people share ridiculous cartoon pictures and when people are challenging the mentality behind advertising and the fact that a celebrity should not be allowed to get away with something no-one else should] but to remind ourselves in the midst of it that LIFE is happening. the smallest light destroys and chases away the darkness!

and so i want to call on you [and me] this week to look out for stories of goodness and grace and beauty and Love and to share them via your status or your Twitter or your blog – for every negative story that is out there, let us share a positive one. if we can’t stop all that is bad [at least instantly] then let us at least celebrate and cheer on and be encouraged by that which is good. let those stories give us the strength and belief to get involved in the less-than-happy ones and hopefully see more positive endings to those as well.

life to the full

i am thinking of the invitation i just received to Linawo Chilren’s home’s 10th birthday celebrations, i am talking about the children’s house Val is a trustee of and the uThando LeNkosi Work Day, i am even simply talking about Monday night’s TheatreSports show at the Intimate theatre in town – whatever it is, let’s just start speaking and sharing some life, so that we don’t get taken completely down by the darkness…

for the first positive upbuilding story focusing on Nicholas McCarthy, one-handed pianist, click here…

a story of pilots flying in water and supplies to flooded areas and also a site for daily stories of good news

the inspiring and humourous no limbed Nick Vujicic has a baby boy…

is anyone with me on this?

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i want to take a moment to honor Catherine on this and am so super amped that she shared this story and know it has taken A LOT for her to do so – but both pornography and especially masturbation have largely been seen as a guy issue for so long and it was at a summer camp a bunch of years ago that i really got to see the depth of the problem and how it affects a lot of girls and young women as well – this story is so much needed and it is not without cost that Catherine shares this. but God is faithful and we trust that He will use this story to help bring release and freedom [or at least start you on the journey of it] for a number of women. thank you Catherine:

‘It was Summer Camp Justified and my first time ever at one of the BYSA organised camps down in hot-as-hell Kimberly. Looking back I know it was actually hot-as-heaven; God did some heavy refining that week in late 2008. My entire youth group had gone, and when I mean entire youth group… I mean all 8 or 9 of us. We were small but close-knit, and all of us were good friends. It was and is to this day the most amazing thing that I have ever been to. And I’ve been to my fair share of Passion conferences and Hillsong concerts!

I remember sitting as a group trying to decide whether we’d go to the mission outreach or one of the talks: Pornography and Masturbation (Brett Anderson). I was shocked to my core – who on earth talks about that sort of stuff?! Not once had I ever heard a sermon on it, read a Christian book about it and much less gone to a talk about it. I was desperate and determined to go.

You see – I had – at that stage, been struggling with pornography and masturbation since I cant even remember when. I can’t remember when it started or what started it exactly but I know that as the years went by, the burden got heavier until, at Justified, I was literally crawling and dragging myself through life with it. I wanted answers. I wanted to know for once and for all what was right and what was wrong.

Nobody knew – nobody even suspected – what I was hiding in the dark place in my soul. The part I couldn’t bear to shed any light on, so embarrassed and so ashamed I was of it. Men struggled with this I knew. This was and is the big lie: that men are the only ones who struggle with deep and dark temptations.

I wanted to go alone to the Pornography talk, so that I could hide in the audience with my guilt and my shame, without anyone being the wiser. My whole group came along. I have never been more vulnerable and fearful – like a deer in the headlights. I was certain someone would connect the talk to me and the box would be opened; all my darkest secrets and fears would come out. I believed my friends would turn against me if they knew the kind of person that I was and tell the whole world about my shame.

If anyone ever wondered how I came to be friends with Brett, it’s not because I met him after the Pornography talk. It’s because I facebook stalked both him and Bruce after the camp because they had impacted my life so very deeply. Brett’s talk on Pornography and Masturbation answered so many questions for me. But more startling to me than anything else was when other young women climbed onto stage – IN FRONT OF EVERYONE – and revealed their inner struggles, so similar to mine.

And then we were all sent outside to unload our burdens with our youth groups. Uh-oh. The last thing I wanted to do was reveal to my friends the shame I was hiding. I listened to each person unlock their secret pain and share it with everyone. Most were shocking and surprising. I soon began to realise that everyone was carrying a heavy burden. I was at war within myself: on the one hand I feared to share my guilt and humiliation, and on the other hand I was burning to unload the burden and shed some light onto a very dark place.

God’s will won out in the end and I tearfully – and quite incoherently – unlocked that secret place inside my soul, and set the truth free. It was the most frightening thing I’ve ever had to do in my life but it was also the first time I have ever felt so light and so unburdened – so free.

I have struggled with Pornography and Masturbation for years. Literature was and still is my greatest downfall. I’ve always loved books and I’ve always loved reading, but it has been both a blessing and a curse. I used to filch through my mom’s fiction, looking for trouble. I learned to do it when no one was at home and could catch me. Eventually that took too long and I turned to the internet – truly the most treacherous place for the unwary – and discovered a trove of spots where I could look for more trouble. I covered my tracks; deleted all my browsing history. Then came internet access through your mobile…. Still I carried on. I realised in the very beginning how much of what I read and saw and did, disgusted me. I loathed it but was swept up in a current of morbid fascination and uncontrollable temptation. All the time I questioned whether what I was doing was wrong, but I knew deep in my soul that it was, and I loathed and hated myself for it. I prayed constantly for God to take this burden away from me; I begged Him to set me free from the chains and bondage that had ensnared me.

Sometimes I had brief periods of respite where I was not hounded by this terrible burden. But more often than not I was watching myself fall almost everyday. With regards to Masturbation, I can barely talk about it and cannot say the word without such disgust and contempt for myself. The word itself is truly a horrible and ugly combination of vowels and consonants. A truly fitting word for the act itself. The pornography was always a means to that end. It was never really about the pornography except that it was a direct route to masturbation. If pornography is the chains, masturbation is the heavy-duty lock. It ensnares so thoroughly and so completely that you cannot see the tunnel much less the light at the end of it. I was addicted; the same way a druggie is addicted to cocaine – but knows it’ll kill them.

After summer camp I was determined to put an end to this: I never again wanted to be imprisoned. I stayed away from books except those from the local Christian book store. I never went near the internet unless someone was in the house and I knew I could get caught. I put safe-search on google and instructed my sister to lock it. I took the browsing option off my phone. I knew it wouldn’t be enough so I decided to get an accountability partner. Someone I knew struggled with the same thing. It was the worst decision I ever made. Or maybe it was the person. But they did not hold me accountable or help me in my struggles, despite promising to do so. A year after summer camp and a year after having stayed clean, I fell again.

The devastation was acute. I wanted so desperately to be free from this but it had ensnared me again: was I never going to be free?? A year of severe depression followed and I had never felt further from God. I felt that I’d been left in a black pit to rot and die and that He didn’t care about me and didn’t want to save me. I finally found my way out again and back to the God who had never abandoned me. I knew it would require daily prayer and daily perseverance. I knew what I was up against.

Its been 4 years since Justified and I still struggle. I met a wonderful man and now I have someone to struggle with, someone who holds me accountable better than anyone has. We decided straight from the word go that we would wait and remain pure until marriage. A decision that’s been incredibly difficult but one that we have stuck to despite the struggles. There is nothing perfect or easy about this life. Pornography and Masturbation are things I have to fight with on a daily basis and it never gets easier. I still carry the shame and the guilt and hope that one day God will remove it completely from my shoulders. I have no certain answers to the pain and the struggle against Pornography except these three: God’s love, God’s grace and God’s forgiveness.

There is no quick solution or easy-fix I’ve found. I know all about refinement – I’m a jeweller who works with precious metals stones – and it’s no quick process. Refinement is a long and arduous process: the bad must be burnt away from the good or forcibly separated through a series of long, costly and complicated procedures. It is the same with a diamond (my life is full of these ironies), the good must be cut away from the raw; polished until it’s the best it can be. There will still always be flaws and inclusions, but it will be what it was intended to be right from the beginning: something beautiful that shines.

I foresee future battles and pain – God is not done with me yet, he is still busy refining me through my personal struggle. But I hope that my testimony may be able to set more women free from this struggle so that they may begin their own journeys toward healing and a possible victory over this enemy: Pornography and Masturbation.’

the next topic that i will be dealing with [and starting with my own story] is that of PORNOGRAPHY and MASTURBATION which are often closely linked together.

the idea of Taboo Topics is to take a topic that is very real [and often raw and painful, perhaps embarrassing or just difficult to speak about] but which no one, for various reasons, is speaking a lot about and to invite people who have had experience in that area to share their stories and perhaps offer some encouragement or advice to others who have experienced or are currently dealing with the same thing.

a lot of people suffer or struggle in silence and because no-one is speaking/writing about these things it can feel like you are along in it and are the only one and that no-one else can even begin to understand or appreciate what you are going through. and while each situation is different i think that often someone who has gone through the same type of situation is a lot more able to speak life, truth and encouragement or else able to simply cry/scream/wail in a language you completely understand.

so these are real stories of real people and for the most part people who have been brave enough to share their names and contact details [or are largely open to you being linked to them via me]

PORNOGRAPHY and MASTURBATION is a tricky one. as the saying goes, 92% of guys admit to masturbating, and the other 8% are lying. both masturbation and pornography have been seen as guy issues, often making women feel extremely alienated or like freaks if they are caught up in it, it almost being okay if a guy struggles with it cos that is expected, but surely no women do. i hope we will have some stories here in time that will show differently. the idea of Taboo Topics is not to definitively answer some of the issues we are facing – different people have had different journeys with different issues and so some peoples stories might be wildly different while some may even contradict in their advice or suggestion given. the idea is largely to share that you are not alone in your struggle – someone else has gone through this and a whole bunch of people have discovered freedom and forgiveness and rediscovered or are rediscovering sexual purity. another element with this particular one is that society and the church may have different viewpoints on this – it is important i think to remember that we live in a sex-saturated society that visually/orally/socially puts huge focus and emphasis on sex as the be all and end all and so what is considered ‘normal’ and ‘necessary’ comes with that starting point in mind. my hope is that whatever advice/suggestion/viewpoint people share you will test against scripture and trust that the Holy Spirit will guide you to all Truth and wholeness.

but the biggest thing to know is there is nothing that you have done that will make God love you any less [just as there is nothing you can do that can make Him love you any more] – there is freedom in Jesus and hopefully these stories will help some of you on your journey to get there:

to read about my story [brett “Fish” anderson] click here

to read the reblogged story of Bek Curtis, click here

to read the story of Catherine Rogers, click here

to read the story of Jaco Hall, click here

to read the story of Steve Heineman click here

to read the story from the point of view of the wife who married a Porn and Sex addict, click here

a very different – but helpful – take on the whole Pornography/Masturbation theme and the video you run over and over in your head

God is really good and just loves us too much to let these things pass under the radar! I was also exposed to pornography at a young age (Probably around 11/12) and the seed was planted. It was not so much the pornography I got addicted to, but masturbation. My mind was so contaminated with thoughts of masturbation, and my imagination was enough to keep me going! The odd e-tv movie or two every month kept me going, but I could not go one day without masturbating.

I just felt so condemned, but looked for every possible excuse to not actually deal with it and continue in my ways. I even found some very good excuses! I heard that my youth leader at my church at that time masturbated together with some of my friends! If it was fine with him it could have probably not have been that bad! But I was badly deceived!

This continued even after I gave my heart to the Lord and started playing in the church worship team etc.. And it got to the stage where I thought that this all must mean that I am gay, because I was so obsessed with it. I got into homosexual pornography and things got even more intense and the guilt and condemnation just became more and more.

Growing up in a Christian household and some good foundations, I decided from a young age that I will stay pure till marriage. I thank God that I can say I am a virgin still today and that my struggle never involved other people. But the inner battle was just so intense and I felt everything but pure! I never shared it with anyone and never had the guts to just confess and ask for some help.

I encountered God radically in my Gr.12 year and realized I had to make a lifestyle change! I went to do a gap year after school where God did so much in my life and brought healing in so many different areas in my life. I had confessed everything and was determined to let that stuff stay in the past. I never looked at any pornography again that year and was doing well with abstaining from masturbation. But about two months or so after everything was confessed I fell back in the habit! I was once again too afraid and too embarrassed to walk this out with anyone!

I tried dealing with it on my own and did well for periods at a time but just fell back into it. I knew God had a great plan for my life and decided to go back for a second year, but in the holidays after that first year, I started snooping around on the Internet again and got stuck into homosexual pornography again!!! This rocked me! But when I went back the next year I knew this had to stop and I was able to stop with the pornography, but the habit of masturbation I could not stop. I deleted everything I had on my computer at that time.

There were so many times I just wanted to come clean with everything and confess to someone, but I could not deal with the shame and I lived under that condemnation for another six months. But this is where God stepped in and I am so thankful for what happened, because it started my journey of healing!

I had some kind of virus on my laptop and had to send it in to get it sorted out. The guy that worked on my computer checked out my browsing history and saw what was going on. He knew my pastor and contacted him to let him know what is going on! GOD JUST WOULD NOT LET THIS THING GO!

I was exposed. I had nothing left to hide, and I started walking a road of accountability with my pastor. I could be open with what I was dealing with and it was so liberating putting things in the light. It is really in it’s secrecy that these sins have their power. God started healing my heart and it was only through walking an open road with a spiritual father that God could do the work in my heart. It is only when we confess our sins to one another that the healing can come.

And we sometimes think that when we confess these things to a pastor or youth leader, or whoever it might be, that they would think less of you. But through allowing someone to walk this road with you, they can trust you even more!!!! Because we all have our faults and challenges, no one is perfect, but we need to be open with our lives, willing to submit and change, in order to become more Christlike!!!!

I Trust my testimony will encourage others to not let masturbation or pornography dictate your life. Bring it out into the light so that the healing journey can begin!

Thanks for the opportunity to share!

Jaco

been great hearing some thoughts from my friends and may have some more at a later stage but back to me for now… with psalm 35:

as i was reading this psalm [of david once again calling besmitement upon his enemies for all the nasty things they are doing or plotting against him] i had the thought that david’s only reference was the old testament God… now one of the big contentions of the Bible for a lot of people who don’t follow Jesus [and believe me, a whole lot of those who do as well] is that the God of the old testament seems to be different from the God of the new testament… old testament God = angry and violent and vindictive and new testament God = loving and full of grace and mercy – and a quick reading of the whole bible may help give you this opinion as there is a lot more killing in the old testament and appears to be a lot more forgiving and teaching on it in the new testament…

but a deeper reading will show that while God may change the way He interacts with people or reveals Himself to them, He doesn’t change in character… i assume this psalm is another of the pre-bathsheba stories of david’s life as he is once again appearing innocent while wanting all the ‘guilty’ around him to be taken down – and i imagine after that whole episode where he has received the punishment of his sin [loses the child conceived in sin] but also the forgiveness, grace and mercy of a loving God who will one day come Himself to bring release from the pain, sin and suffering of the world and bring the message of His heart of Love, Grace, Mercy and Freedom to us personally, that david would have had a different understanding of who God is and also chosen to be a lot more lenient on his enemies.

in the old testament we see a lot of God’s Grace, Mercy and Love shown in the way He holds back from destroying His people when they do the equivalent of showing Him the finger in disobedience time and time again and after every punishment He allows them to go through He always ends up rushing back with forgiveness and the next plan and opportunity for kingdom growth. and in the new testament we witness in the Acts 5 story of ananias and sapphira how God is still able to step in and say “enough is enough” – I am Loving, Gracious and Merciful but also I am a Holy God and will not just sit back and watch my name and character be mocked without ever intervening… so two examples of which there are more of the old testament God suddenly seeming very new testament and vice versa – God doesn’t change – His character and heart are consistent throughout Scripture even if His methods, style and ways of communication and even being followed might.

so the psalm made me want to introduce David to the new testament understanding of God as we see Him portrayed in Jesus Christ with the words and life on Love and Forgiveness and cheek-turning and enemy-Loving and so on…

and then i really loved verse ten which says, ‘My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like You, Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.”’

Both the question of “who is like You, Love?” with the obvious answer of “No-one!” And the heart for the poor and needy, the least of these, who are shown to be on God’s heart all the way through the story of the bible… and the strength of the statement coming from the exclamation of the writer’s whole being. definitely words to live by.

so for anyone out there not familiar with the Christian faith, this is what this holiday is all about in the shell of a nut:

# mankind is sinful – this is a pretty easy one to verify – read a newspaper, watch the news, hang out with yourself for a 24 hour period or anyone else that you like or specifically some people you don’t – you don’t need test tubes in a lab to verify that we are not perfect, none of us – we mess up, we hurt people, we hurt ourselves, we do stupid things, and we often fail to do good and right things

# the punishment for sin is death – this is a harder one to verify [our reasoning is ‘because the Bible says so’ and that is enough for me, but it may not be enough for you, and that’s okay, this is where faith and belief start to kick in] although i would say not completely. if you follow the natural progression of sin in someone’s life it always leads to a death of some type – death of trust, of relationship, of good health, of life possibility etc. however, we are talking about a spiritual/eternal death – we believe that one day every person will stand in front of God and be judged and that those who have not dealt with their sin will receive an eternal death or punishment

# that paints a pretty bleak picture because if all of us have sinned and the punishment is death, that means we all have to die – if the story ends here, we’re all in a lot of trouble and that is kind of the picture of Good Friday – Jesus Christ, who many believed to be the Messiah who had come to save the world [many of the jews believed He had simply come to free them from roman control and persecution] hanging on a cross, dying the worst kind of death known to man. It all looked like a bit of an epic universal fail.

[which is why you should not stop reading here – it gets better – click somewhere over here]

not to be confused with ‘can’t i just enjoy this big thing first?’

some people refuse to let go of stuff. and it kills them. some people it actually genuinely physically kills them, cos you can trace ulcers and other stress-related diseases and conditions to the unforgiveness and disappointments that they held onto for a considerable amount of their lives

someone once said “holding onto unforgiveness is like drinking a cup of poison and hoping the other person will die” – because most often the other person doesn’t even know you’re secretly hating, bittering against them, and instead, like a cancer, or a hardcore acid, it eats away at your insides ultimately causing you to implode and you are usually the only one suffering (well, and those around you, who have to live with you)

which, i think is why God puts such huge emphasis on it – in matthew 6 straight after what we call ‘The Lord’s prayer’ Jesus says something along the lines of if you refuse to forgive others, then my Father in heaven will refuse to forgive you. wo! Hold the bus! if i refuse to forgive someone i can lose my salvation? seems to be what the writer is saying…

and the thing is, it affects every single one of your relationships. i don’t believe it is possible to hold onto the disappointments of yesterday or the pain/grief someone else caused you and refuse to forgive them and expect to have a healthy relationship with anyone else… because you put up walls (walls which protect you from further pain but also from accepting and giving love to other people) and you increase distance (physically or intimately) and you become a lonely, sad little person actually

the other side of the bagel is that forgiving someone does not mean what they did was ok. it just means you are refusing to let it be your problem any more. you are releasing them to be dealt with by God (who probably already is, but if not will definitely be some day) and freeing yourself up to embrace life to the full and to be able to start enjoying the big things of the moment now…

at least until someone asks you when you’re getting married, what you’re doing next year, or when the baby is due…

they make take our lives… but they’ll never take… well, only you can give away your freedom…

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