You’ve probably heard it said here before that breaking a habit of unwanted sexual behaviors goes beyond “Behavior Management.”
Setting up filters or throwing away devices might eliminate the cues to your addiction, but it still leaves you exposed. There’s deeper work to be done.
Ultimately, to change your behavior you need to understand the why’s to your behavior. The actions you choose are connected to your emotions, to your thoughts and to your beliefs.
You are wonderfully complex. In this episode, we’ll be looking at the design of a Tree to illustrate how you work and why you need to go deeper. (Be sure to look to the Homework section for ways to make the Tree model work for you.)
FRUIT (Our Behavior)
The fruit of the tree, the leaves of the tree represent the behavior, the outward sign.
BRANCHES (Our Emotions)
When we experience some type of emotional pain or discomfort in our bodies, that serves as a trigger to move us towards these other behaviors to either medicate the pain or to get away from it.
TRUNK (Our Thoughts)
Your thoughts are more expansive than just a sentence, it holds with it some sort of image that connects to an idea.
ROOTS (Our Story)
This is where our Core beliefs lie. For example: What we learned about family based on our experience, about ourselves as kids, what God is like, about the world around us, what men are like, what women are like.
SOIL (Our Influences)
Things that influence our beliefs: Family of Origin, Abuses we’ve experienced, great disappointments, losses, etc.
The things we choose to think can be soil around our beliefs. What we choose to do can also serve as soil that nourishes the soil of what we believe.
We are praying you choose to do the harder work of uncovering. You hold a powerful opportunity to change the trajectory of your life. If, along the way you find yourself needing extra help, consider reaching out to us and we will set you up with a Spiritual Coach to come alongside you in your important work.
When you struggle with an unwanted behavior, begin by asking yourself, “What was I feeling before I started moving in that direction?”
If you’re feeling tempted right now, begin to notice and understand “What am I feeling in my body right now? What are the emotions I’m experiencing in my body right now?”
What am I thinking that’s producing the kinds of emotions I’m experiencing now?
Take some guesses: What was going on for you that day? What’s coming up for you?
Take some time to write out what you think about the idea of Family (for example). Write the word Family on a piece of paper and then start brainstorming all that comes to mind about what a family looks like, who’s there, what they do, what does a week look like, what happens on the weekends, what does home look like to you, what role do you play. Taking time to write out the construct of what Family looks like to you can deconstruct some of the feelings you have attached to it.
Nourish your beliefs through things like – exercise, scripture memorization, silence, simplicity, worship, communion, confession.
If you want to learn more, check out Josh’s latest musing on this topic at, If You Keep Repeating Your Sin
Click for Full Podcast Transcription
Good day, everybody. I hope that you were doing well. I hope that you are encouraged and experiencing some hope, and experiencing, especially the nearness of Christ, as you as you walk with Him. And if you’re not, I pray that something that we talked about today, we’ll, we’ll stir you and move you. You know, honestly, just as an aside, I’m not a big fan of talking about moving closer to Christ. Because He is present with us everywhere we are, I’m more more prone to want to think about and talk about it in the sense of I hope that something you hear today helps to open you more to the reality of So recently, I’ve been struggling more with eating too much eating when I’m not hungry, eating when I say I’m not going to eat eating the kinds of stuff I don’t want to eat. Again, after I’ve said, I’m done. So I have been on a journey. And I’m on a journey of examining why that is because it’s, it’s an infuriating thing to be in a place where you’re saying, I’m not going to do X, Y, and Z anymore, and then you do it. And I know many of you listening who struggle with unwanted sexual behaviors experienced that on a regular basis, I’m not going to do this behavior anymore. I’m not gonna look at porn tonight. And then you do. I’m not going to lust today. And then you do, I’m not going to masturbate anymore. And then you do, I’m not going to sleep with my girlfriend or my boyfriend when he comes over. And then you do. Doing what we say we’re not going to do doing what we don’t want to do is a common human experience. And I think one of the reasons that we continue in those cycles is because we try to change the behaviors without recognizing everything else that’s going into behavior. And so when I say that I’m on this journey with food, trying to recognize why am I continuing to go to food, the way that I’m going to it, it’s actually a lot of hard work. And I want to invite you, if you’re wrestling with unwanted sexual behaviors, or any kind of unwanted habitual behaviors, to do some of this hard work in your own life, because I think it’ll pay off more than just trying to change your behaviors. Because whether it’s food, or porn, or drink, or gambling, getting rid of the behavior, getting rid of those cues in your life, that may lead you to that behavior, you know, taking all the sugar out of your house, getting filters on your devices, getting rid of your devices, etc, etc, etc. That’ll help. But it also continues to leave you vulnerable in the long run. In the short term, it may be a helpful part of the journey. And I can explain more of that later. But let me dive in a little bit to the harder work that I’m talking about. So I want you to imagine with me a tree and use this illustration, here in our ministry. Before Imagine, imagine, for a minute that we’re talking about a tree. And the different parts of the tree represent different parts of our lives, our experience. So the fruit of the tree is often where what gets our attention, it’s the brightest, it’s it’s the most out there. And the most obvious things, you know, the leaves on the tree, the fruit of the tree, those are, that’s what gets our attention when we look at a tree in full bloom. And if the fruit on the tree is bad, then like, okay, when something’s wrong with this tree, we may pull off every piece of fruit on that tree, and what’s going to happen, if the tree is bad, the bad fruit is going to just grow back. If the fruit of the tree is good, we can pick the fruit and more of the good fruit will grow. But there’s more going on underneath the story. And so if you’ve got bad behavior in your life, bad fruit in your life, we need to take a look at the rest of the tree. So only think about it this way, the fruit of the tree, the leaves in the tree, that’s the behavior, that’s the outward sign of the condition of the tree, the branches on the tree, or what’s next. And the branches on the tree are your feelings, the things that you feel the emotions that you have. So these can be pleasant, these can be painful. These can. These can be noticed and identified, or they can go underneath the radar. also helpful to know that when we’re talking about emotions, emotions aren’t something that just kind of are somewhere out there, we actually experience emotions in our bodies. And so we’re talking about something like sexual behavior. Why do we run the sexual behavior? In part because sexual behavior is something we experience and feel in our bodies, and we are responding to emotions that we have felt in our bodies? Why do we go to food because we experience food, food is something physical, that we have experience with our bodies, and we’re going to something physical, because we’ve felt our emotions in our bodies. And oftentimes, what we do is when we experience some type of, of emotional pain or discomfort in our bodies, that serves as a trigger to move us towards these other behaviors, and to either medicate the pain, the discomfort we’re feeling, or to get away from it, in some cases to reinforce it, and I can talk about that another time. But we are responding to some kind of feeling. We’d like to think that we are thinking creatures, but our behaviors reveal that we’re not like, you know, we ask the question, why do I keep going back to this, obviously, we’re not thinking our way into that situation, and we’re not going to think our way out of it. Our thoughts matter, we’re gonna get to that. But our emotions are kind of the first line that we need to pay attention to. So when you’re struggling with an unwanted behavior, begin asking yourself What Was I feeling before I started moving in that direction? Or if you’re feeling tempted right now, beyond the temptation or addition, in addition to the temptation begin to ask yourself and notice like okay, aside from it, tentation are underneath the temptation. What am I feeling in my body right now? What are the emotions that I’m experiencing in my body? Alright, those are the branches emotions from the branches, let’s move down to the trunk of the tree, the trunk of the tree. That’s where we get to our thoughts. Because there’s no emotion that we experience that isn’t connected to something that we’re thinking. And thoughts are much more subtle and and expansive than we might typically think when we’re thinking about thoughts, say that sentence 12 times faster. So, when I’m talking about thoughts, you’re not just talking about like a ticker tape that runs through your through your mind, like, you know, it is sunny outside, you might be thinking that but most likely, you’re not thinking it is sunny outside, most likely you’re thinking in your brain, you’re seeing you’re holding in your brain, a picture of sunshine, and maybe even a picture of yourself in the sunshine, or a picture of the work in the yard when it’s so sunny outside or a picture of the beach when it’s sunny outside. So you’re going to have more thought that your thought is more expansive than just just a sentence. It holds with it some type of image that connects to an idea. When we understand that, it’s easier for us to understand, Oh, now I can see how that connects to emotion. Like, you know, a sentence on a page might not evoke emotion. But an image does an image, art, song, those kinds of things evoke emotion in us. So the kinds of thoughts you’re thinking, evoke emotion and the emotion is what you respond to and that produces the fruit of the tree. Or makes the fruit come out on the tree. So the next question beyond your emotions is what am I thinking that’s producing the kinds of emotions that I’m experiencing? So if you’re feeling tempted, and you notice, gosh, you know, I’m feeling my body this kind of pit in my stomach. What is that? It’s loneliness. I’m feeling feeling lonely. Now, you might wonder why is that like, I actually I got a lot of friends. I’m feeling connected. My family’s here with me. Oh, okay, now I’m noticing. What I’m thinking is about this experience I had at the office today or on my team today when my friends went and did XY and Z and didn’t invite me or when this friend canceled on me today for the third time in a row or, or just what I’m going through this experience right now. And nobody else has ever gone through that experience, like like I am, or I’ve never told anybody what I’m going through, and so I’m feeling lonely. That’s the rhythm of thoughts. Also pay attention to our thoughts, we may be the subject of our thoughts. Other people may be the subject of our thoughts. God might be the subject or our thoughts. They can be hard to wrangle. So one way to kind of recognize what you’re thinking is is journal, you know, just journal, write it out. And unedited just kind of let out what you what your emotions, what might be the thoughts underneath your emotions just let it out. Sometimes when I’m when I’m talking to people about the emotions, they feel they don’t know why they’re feeling it, I’ll just ask them to guess that seems to relieve some of the pressure. And, and you know, I don’t I don’t need to get this right. Let me just guess why I might be feeling sad when I’d be feeling lonely, when I might be feeling. Again, you might even do this with the emotions, if you’re not sure what your feelings are kind of I don’t know. I mean, I’m feeling tempted to do something. But I don’t know what I was feeling. Just take some guesses like what was going on for you that day? What’s coming up for you after that day or after that? That hour? Alright, so for the tree, its behavior. Branches are the emotions that we feel in our body. trunk of the tree are thoughts that we think which are often images that convey something images or scenes, not just words, and then what’s underneath the ground underneath the ground of the roots. And here we’re talking about where we’ve come come from, what our story is, what our family of origin was, like, what we learned about ourselves as kids who we are, what the world is like, what God is like, what men are like what women are like, our core beliefs. Now, be careful here because a lot of us have things that we think we believe that we don’t actually believe. So for example, I might say, you know, I believe my wife loves me and will always be faithful to me. But if I’m always checking her email that that reveals, well, actually, I have some mistrust of her. That’s fictitious for me, by the way, I do trust my wife. Likewise, maybe this is an easier one for us, like a lot of us will say, Well, you know, God provides God is my provider, I trust in the Lord. And yet when we’re driving down the street, and realize that the gas tank is empty, and we only have a couple bucks in our, in our wallet, or maybe it’s better in our car breaks down, and money is already tight, and we start getting all stressed and anxious and angry. Well, that reveals on some level, we don’t trust God. We do trust Him and we don’t trust him. One of my favorite passages in Scripture is when Jesus comes down off the Mount of Transfiguration, and there’s a man there with his son who’s demon possessed. Jesus kind of gives his lecture about unbelieving generation, and says, says, Sorry, he says to the guy like, you know, it’s possible for me to heal your son, if you believe in the man’s response to him, this is what I think so beautifully says, Lord, I do believe helped me in my unbelief. And I love that because he’s just being honest, he, and it’s exposing this reality that we can have both the same time we can believe and not believe at the same time. And so, underneath the surface, when we’re talking about roots, we’re talking about our beliefs, not just our confessed beliefs, our confessional beliefs, but also our functional beliefs, the working the at work, beliefs that are going on underneath the surface, even sometimes that we don’t realize these beliefs can include things I’ve mentioned this before, what we believe about men, what we believe about women, what we believe about the future, we believe about ourselves, and our worth, and our value, what we believe about other people, we believe about God, on and on and on we go. These beliefs produce our thoughts, or impact our thoughts influence our thoughts, feed our thoughts, these thoughts, fuel feed, produce our emotions, these emotions fuel and feed and produce the fruit of the tree. And you can see now, the fruit of the tree, if the fruit is bad, we may be talking about all the goes back all the way down to the roots to our beliefs. What’s the soil around the around the roots, in this image, the soil around the roots we could say is those are the things that influence our beliefs, whether it’s our family of origin, the history that we came from our stories, whether it’s things that have happened to us abuses, we’ve experienced great disappointments, losses. Those of you who listen to the rise and fall of Mars Hill, I think one of the saddest parts of that story was how when the when the and this is I don’t, not picking on this one churches happens all over the place when people experience harm or hurt in church, or from Christians they’ve trusted, it impacts their beliefs, their deep beliefs, their functional beliefs, and even their capacity to believe in God and His faithfulness and his love. Because we experience in the church, what we experience is a Community of Christ. And sometimes, oftentimes, in that community, there’s unpriced, like stuff that happens, and it’s hard to to divide, separate those out. And those can impact our deep held deeply held beliefs. Can when we look at this tree model, a couple of things about it. Number one is, if you’ve got fruit on the tree that you don’t want, like my overeating, or my past sexual behaviors, or your present temptations, or whatever they are, it behooves you to be in tracing back and looking at your beliefs. What am I really believing in this in this place? It also then turns the bad fruit not just into something, you know, awful in your life, but also as an invitation to go deeper with Christ. Like the reason Jesus would want to reveal dysfunctional beliefs under the surface or not, because he’s pointing a finger at you and angry that you don’t believe in him. And I think even that, like the his confrontation with a man who was trying to have a son healed when he you know, the man said, I believe help my on my, in my unbelief. I think Jesus wanted that revealed not because he wanted to shame the man, but because he’s inviting the man to be real with him to engage with him to bring his whole self in relation to Him. Jesus certainly responded to the man by by actually granting his request and healing his son, we can bring our whole self our our absolute tie, like trusting God, and also our deeply held suspicious beliefs that God won’t really show up for us. It’s an invitation to grow on that level at all those levels in our our beliefs, our thoughts, our emotions, and our behaviors, ultimately, our behaviors. The thing I want to point out about this tree is as helpful as a model as that is when we’re trying to track back why am I doing what I’m doing. It’s also an incomplete model, because it’s it. If we look at it that way, it’s almost too fatalistic, too deterministic. We can actually go the other direction, the things that we choose to think, can also be soil around our beliefs, the things that we choose to do, the rituals, the Christian rituals, Christian disciplines, we practice can also serve as that kind of soil that nourishes the roots of our beliefs. And so it doesn’t just work that one way. We’re much more complex than that. We actually have in these ways, by the disciplines that we do, the things that we choose to spend our time on, whether it’s exercise, exercise, or Christian meditation, or scripture, memory, or solitude in silence, or simplicity, or worship or communion, or confession, these things nourish our beliefs, the impact our thoughts impact our emotions. And so all of these things can go together. We have much more of a choice and much more of a say In the long term about what happens with our thoughts and our beliefs. Okay, so let me just stop right there. And let me wrap this up with a nice bow. So why Why does all this matter, including this last piece that I said, because now, all of a sudden, we’re not in that cycle of just kind of, I keep doing the thing I don’t want to do, why am I doing this as we begin to engage in some of the harder work of uncovering, and we may need help with this, but inviting the Holy Spirit to reveal to us inviting others into the story and talking with them, journaling. Growing in our own self awareness. Now, we begin to move into some deeper waters, and that eventually can change the trajectory of our lives and change our behavior. And even as we’re changing and working on some, you know, momentary or or temporary behavior management techniques are things like filters and getting rid of sugar from your house. Ultimately, we continue to do this deeper work so that those things increasingly become less and less of a temptation for us, because we are moving our desires, among our beliefs, or thoughts, or feelings and reorienting them, towards what really satisfies us, which is, which is God’s love, and God’s will and way for us, which leads to flourishing. So much more to say about that such a crash course, in one way to think about behaviors we do and where they come from. If we can help you unpack that here, regeneration, of course, please reach out to us, we’d be happy to walk with you. In the meantime, Jesus, all of this is laid bare to you and what I’ve offered as a kind of a simple illustration, you see very clearly. And so I pray for each man and each woman listening, the Lord you would help them to not shame themselves or beat themselves up for the behaviors of the doing but to take the behaviors that are struggling with as an invitation from you to bring more of who they are, and open themselves more to you to receive more of your love more of your redemption, more of your sanctification in the deep parts of their lives, their feelings, their thoughts, their beliefs, and on and on, to pray all these things now in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.’s presence with you his loving, gracious, empowering presence with you, that he is present with you bringing all his wisdom, all his mercy, all his sacrifice, all his power. All That Is that all that is at his disposal he is bringing to you. And I hope there’s something in this podcast that will help to open you to His presence. And LD brings you today. So Lord, I pray even before I begin talking that that would be the case. I don’t I don’t I don’t know what’s going on for each person listening today. But I just I, I need this. And I know they need it, Lord, whether they are feeling intimate and close with you or they’re feeling far from you, or they just hadn’t even thought about it today. I pray that something in this would I pray that you would be in this and that we would listen and think through these things with you today. I pray these things in Jesus name. So brothers and sisters, here’s what I want to talk about today. I want to offer you some tips, some advice on how to make your accountability relationships, not work. I want to give you some advice on how to make them even do the opposite of what you’re hoping they’ll do. And I would approach it that way. Because the first several years that I was in quote unquote, accountability relationships, or I was walking with a friend and we were quote unquote, holding each other accountable. Looking back, I recognize no one taught us what that meant. No one explained to us what we were supposed to be doing, we had just kind of a default idea that what we’re supposed to be doing is telling each other how we’re doing like meeting once a week or so confessing each other the bad things that we’ve done, praying for each other. And then going on through the next week and hoping we did better and overtime, hoping that we would grow. And we had some ideas about why we thought that would work the way it would work. And in truth, it wasn’t all bad. I grew closer to this friend, I grew more comfortable confessing my sin. I think there’s something in that that helped me to experience God’s grace. But in a lot of ways, what we were doing was actually contributing to the problem. And I’ve seen this as I’ve walked with men and women over the years, I’ve seen that I’m not alone in that a lot of us pursue trying to overcome unwanted sexual behaviors or whatever your unwanted behaviors are. With through accountability, we try to use accountability to move us away from those behaviors. And what we do actually ends up contributing to the underlying problems. And so I want to offer you, I want to expose those today by offering you some tips on how to move in the opposite direction that you want to move in. If you’re struggling for sexual integrity, these tips will help you to not achieve that. Okay. And then I’m going to kind of reverse it and talk about what you can do that would be more helpful. So you ready here they are, here they are. And I think you’ll understand more as we go. First of all, if you want your accountability relationships, and I’m not even sure I like that word, but if you want your accountability relationships, not to work, the first thing you need to do in those relationships is make sure that you give lots of advice to each other, okay? Give lots of advice to each other. One word that you should make sure you always use is the word should, or the word shouldn’t make sure that you tell the other person what they should be doing or what they shouldn’t be doing. Okay, that’s so important. If you want your accountability relationships not to work, it helps you to it helps the other person to feel judged, it helps them to feel not understood. It really helps to set up a new kind of law for them, like this is what you should be doing. And truth is they probably already know what they should be doing. So by you reminding them what they should or shouldn’t be doing. Just helps to, to kind of push their head down and help them to feel like you know, they deserve to be told this again because they’re doing so horribly. It’s a good approach to things. One person put it this way you’re it’s a it’s a way to should all over yourself. Alright, so, so make sure that you offer should and shouldn’t say to the person In, that you’re trying to hold accountable accountability to. Second thing you want to do is you want to focus on the negative, make sure whenever you talk to this other person about what you’re doing, or what they’re doing focus on the negative. If there’s any glimmer of improvement, any progress at all, ignore that. Don’t pay attention to that. Because if somebody had any fall or a slip or temptation that week, you want to focus on that, that’s where you want to really aim. The you know, put the crosshairs and, and expose that. So say somebody went through the entire week. And they, you know, they were praying through the week, they were staying in touch with with other people. And they were really seeking to do better. But they didn’t, and the end of the week, they ended up slipping, having a slip, make sure you focus on that slip, pay attention to that, take your time there, what that’s going to do is it’s going to, it’s going to help convince them that what matters most to you is not their progress, but their failure. And if they want your attention, it’s it’s they should fail. Not only that, but you also might help convince them, that God is only focused on their failure. Alright, third thing that you want to do, and this is connected to the last one, use the reverse silent treatment, use the reverse silent treatment. So for example, I know a lot of people who are struggling unwanted sexual behavior, use something like covenant eyes, where they get reports about the what the person has been viewing online. So if you’re in a situation like that, or something similar to that, and you get a report, and there’s, there’s, you know, nothing noteworthy to say as far as you know, the person’s there’s nothing that’s, that’s no flags about the person looking at pornography or looking at something that’s inappropriate or doing something inappropriate online. And if there’s nothing inappropriate, that that’s coming out, then then don’t talk to him, you know, don’t reach out to them. But if you get a covenant eyes report or an accountability report, and you hear that, it’s that they’ve been stumbling, or it looks even something, make sure you reach out to them, make sure you call them at that point, what that’ll help to do is it’ll help to convince them that that they see like last time, what you care about most is their failure, not their success. It’ll also help to, to invite them if they want your attention, if they want to receive a call from you, if they want your fellowship and your friendship, they want you to draw near them, it’s only going to happen when they’re doing really horribly, you want to make sure they don’t think you’re going to like them or spend time with them if they’re doing well. Alright, so focus on the negative and ignore the deeper matters, I’m sorry, and use the reverse silent treatment. The next one, the next tip, if you want to really make your accountability not work is to ignore the deeper matters. And what I mean by deeper matters. Well, there there are reasons we do the things we do, nobody’s falling to their unwanted behaviors over and over again, just because they they like them, and they don’t want to change. They’re falling to those things. Because there’s stuff happening under the surface. You know, they’re they’re feeling things, they’re believing faulty things, they’ve got past wounds that are feeding into these, these, these matters. Ignore all that stuff. Only focus on the behaviors only focus on whether or not they fell into their unwanted behavior, or they didn’t fall into that one behavior. Just focus on the surface. Make sure you’re just all about behavior management. If you do that, it’ll it’ll guarantee you that you won’t get any better. Okay? Or if you do get better, it only be for a time. Okay, so, so even if somebody seems to be getting better, and you think, oh, focusing on only the surface matters, that doesn’t seem to be working, No, trust me, it’ll work. Just keep focusing on the surface matters. And over the long haul, you won’t get better. Alright, last tip. Last tip, if you don’t want to get better, make sure you leave the cross of Jesus out of it. Don’t focus on the cross of Jesus. Whatever you do, don’t bring the cross of Jesus into the equation. Because the cross of Jesus exposes how much God loves us. It reveals the the, the length and the depths that he will go to, to rescue us from our sin. It reveals His forgiveness and His mercy. It reveals His grace, it reveals how how deep and far and wide and high is Love is focusing on the cross also also brings us face to face with our Savior and brings us into proximity with him and we and if you don’t want to get better, you don’t want to be near Jesus. So keep the cross of Jesus out of it. All right. You follow those tips that advice you guys, I guarantee you your accountability, relationships won’t work, and you’ll continue to struggle. Now, man, I cringed that whole thing. I don’t know if you’re cringing, but I was cringing. But I hope as I went through those that you could also sense some of why those are so destructive. And you could even send some of the better way forward. And so let me just take a few minutes to walk back through those and give you a picture and even some scripture examples of why we want to do it differently than that. So the first tip I gave you was to give lots of advice, make sure that you should, and shouldn’t all over each other. Instead of that, instead of that, we want to frame up our thinking not on what you should have done in the past, or what you should do in the future. But what do you want to do? So Jesus asked this question a few times, at least a few times in the gospels, someone would come to him with a need. And you would ask them, What do you want? What do you want? What are you looking for? What do you desire? One of the reasons this is so helpful and accountability relationships is because it, it reframes the impetus for change is because I want to change. It’s not because you’re telling me what I should or shouldn’t do. You’re not the parent or the teacher or the police officer or the judge, pointing down at me, telling me how to get it right. You are instead or an encourager inviting eliciting out of me drawing out of me what my truest desires are? Why am I showing up to report to you week after week, how I’m doing? Because I want to grow? I want to grow. So the invitation is not, what should you do? The temptation is, what can you do? What could you do? And most importantly, what do you want to do? Now, obviously, we have wants that go in different directions. Part of us wants to sin, but part of us wants righteousness. So we want to talk to that part of us that wants righteousness that desires righteousness. Because that’s the part of us where that’s, that’s the Holy Spirit in us. That’s the renewed part of us. And we want to talk to that part of us. So we validate, listen to yourself, you have a new desire. And if you ever doubting that you have desire to change, just look at the fact that you’re showing up. I remember when I was talking to my groups, one of the my small group leader, leaders would always just applaud us, you guys are showing up, that says something about what you really want. Alright, so focus on what you want, what your desire is for righteousness. The second tip instead of focusing on the negative focus on the positive, yes, we’ve got to address the negative yes, we’ve got to confess the truth about the sins that we’ve done. And the and the unwise choices we’ve made sure we don’t want to ignore those things. We want to focus on the positive and this is a correlate to the last thing that I mentioned. When we focus on the positive part of what it begins to do for us is it begins to reframe that we are making progress, I think here of Jesus parable of the wheat and the weeds. When the the servants in the master came in and reported the weeds growing in his garden, that the enemy had planted weeds in his field, that the the landowners focus, he wasn’t ignorant about weeds, he didn’t ignore the problem. But he refused to focus on them because he wanted the wheat to grow. His focus is on the wheat. So his servants were saying like, Hey, should we should we pull out the weeds? And he’s like, no, no, don’t pull the weeds. Because we want to make sure the wheat grows, if you pull out the weeds, you’re gonna uproot some of the wheat to focus on the positive focus on what Jesus is already doing. Romans eight, Paul talks about the first fruits of the Spirit, focus on this first fruits, focus on this first fruits, nurture those things, this is gonna be so helpful for you in your in your countability relationships. The third thing I said is to is to use the reverse silent treatment, this one’s so obvious. Don’t just call out to each other when you’re doing poorly. If you get a good covenant eyes report or you hear a good report, make sure that you celebrate those things. call those things out. If you’re sitting with your accountability partner, and they’re reporting about, you know, three, three good things they did that week. And then three areas they fell that week, make sure that you don’t just get silent about the good things are about the don’t get Don’t be silent about the good things, call those out. If you get an accountability report, and there’s quote unquote, nothing to report. Well, guess what? That’s something to report. You’ve been doing really great for the last three days. Let’s celebrate that. Call them up and say, Listen, I’ve noticed these accountability reports are coming out clean, you’re doing great. I just want to call it you know, I care about you, how you doing and can we connect? We need How can I pray for you? So it’s not just to focus on the negative. And it’s not just we’re not just bringing it up when when there’s something bad report, for thing. I said to ignore the deeper matters, obviously, don’t ignore those deeper matters. So what are those deeper matters? We’ll do other podcasts on that. But the deeper matters include like, what were you feeling when you were tempted? What was going on for you under the surface? What you were you really looking for? You weren’t looking for porn, you are looking for a sexual hookup, you’re looking for something real? Those things didn’t satisfy you. So what were you really looking for that? The real satisfaction that your heart was after? Were you lonely and looking for, for love and companionship? Were you feeling bad about yourself? And using this as a way to beat yourself up further? What was really going on for you under the surface? These are deep waters, men and women. These are deep waters, but they’re important waters. The enemy would have us ignore our hearts and just focus on behavior. And the reason he wants us to do that is because as scripture says, the heart is the wellspring of life. And that’s where life flows flows from Dallas Willard says that God is attentive to the slightest move of the heart toward him. God is paying attention our hearts, they matter to him. So we should too, we should pay attention them too. That’s one should you should do, by the way, focus on your hearts, folks in the deeper matters. Fifth thing, I said, leave the cross out of leave the cross of Jesus out of it, obviously, do not leave the cross of Jesus out of it. If we can get better without the cross of Jesus, if there was another way for salvation to be rescued from our sin rescued from our negative behavior, don’t you think Jesus would have taken it? Jesus went to the cross because we need His cross. Christianity is not Christianity, without the cross and resurrection of Jesus. And so if this is your faith, if you truly believe that you, you need a Savior, and that Jesus is it, then bring Jesus into this area. Now some of you would say, Look, I’ve prayed and prayed for years, and I just haven’t seen Jesus make a difference in this area of my life. I’d say that the problem there, then is not that you’ve brought Jesus into it. But that Jesus wants to come into other parts of this journey with you maybe some of the things I’ve already talked about, maybe some of those deeper, deeper matters. Maybe he wants you to learn to hear his voice celebrating and cheering you on and not just pointing the finger at the bad things. invite Jesus into the cross of Jesus reveals God’s mercy for you. The cross of Jesus reveals where where you belonged, but the Jesus went for you, so that you wouldn’t have to. And by the way, just one side note about the cross. The certainly the cross is is where our sins go. Jesus bore our sins on the cross. But it’s not just about it is about Jesus cancelling the debt that we owed. But it’s not just that this is not just a kind of paper transaction. Jesus actually did something on the cross that radically changes everything. His Cross and Resurrection actually change things. And so when I say folks in the cross, I don’t just mean mentally, I do mean mentally, but not just mentally. I also mean, we need to spend time at the cross, spend time at the empty tomb, encounter the crucified and resurrected Jesus. This is a relational thing. So not focusing on the cross means we’re pulling ourselves out of relationship with the crucified and resurrected Jesus. We actually want to pursue the crucified and resurrected Jesus. And we want to bring all these parts of ourselves to Him, the deeper waters in our hearts, our failures, our successes, our negative self talk, our positive self talk, our little bit of growth, our big backslides, we want to, we want to relate with him around all those things, not just kind of sending him a letter, not just a paper trail, we want to draw into him, press into him encounter him in these places, and our accountability that relationships can be a place where we learn to do that, because we’re face to face with someone else who is in Christ. And you can who can be that that hands and feet of Jesus with us and you can pray with faith where our faith is faltering. Alright, I’m 18 minutes in. I hope this has been rich and meaningful to you. Jesus, we need you. We need you. We need you. Or teach us not just to be quote unquote, accountability partners, but teach us to be true. Christian, brothers and sisters, moving into an abiding in Christ with one another. We pray these things for our sake, pray for the sake of our loved ones. And then we pray for Your glory in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Amen.
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