Category Archives: Relationships

Preparing for a wedding, the grooms perspective

Preparing for a wedding should be one of the most enjoyable things ever! There should be no stress and it should be like riding a unicorn with wings over a rainbow that leads to gold! But that’s not always how it is! Sometimes it can be stressful! Sometimes I ask these questions, “Where are we going to come up with the money for this?” “How are we going to entertain our family and friends and accommodate them while they are here?” “Are people going to hate me from Ontario because they have to come to B.C.?” and “Will Shayna feel like this is the best day of her life and feel like the most loved girl in the world?”

As the groom I want to do everything I can to make sure this day is absolutely the best for Shayna! Now she isn’t demanding at all in fact shes super laid back, but I have seen way too many movies and know that this day is super important and needs to be a gooder! 😉 So I want to do everything that is possible to make sure that happens. Which can be tricky when you can’t find that pot o gold to pay for everything haha!

The nice thing is I know God has brought us together, our story is a testament of that. I know he is in this relationship and is invested which is all that matters. I know Shayna is the girl for me and she is super awesome and I am supper happy when I’m with her and I my hands get sweaty and my cheeks go numb when I’m with her.

Being the groom when Shayna is your bride is the best thing ever. I don’t have to worry, stress, or freak out about anything because on June 9th 2012 I’ll be married to Shayna Martin and that’s all that REALLY matters. Now don’t get me wrong I’m still going to work very hard to make sure the day is the best for Shayna, because when you find what I have found, when the good LORD blesses you so richly you make darn sure you don’t lose her and you do everything for her.

Being the groom, preparing for this wedding is the best. I wouldn’t want to be with anyone else doing anything else. Shayna I cannot wait to marry you and I am very excited for our life together! So stoked we get to plan this wedding together! I love you!

-benjamin jepsen

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Matt Chandler on dating/relationships

This of course is only two small video clips of a bigger picture of Matt Chandler’s view on dating, but I would say very good clips. Ryley introduced me to this guy and he is now my favorite preacher. You can get his stuff on iTunes podcast! Worth your time to check out for sure! Enjoy!

-benjamin jepsen

I’m getting married

This is the first blog post I have written with my phone! It’s also the first post I have written in a very long time! My blogging tends to shut down once summer hits, mainly because of all the nice weather and how little I actually spend on a computer! I wanted to give a very brief message that this summer has been amazing! I’ll write about my experience at this camp later in the fall but I wanted to mention that this summer has been a blast AND I am now engaged to the coolest girl ever, Shayna Martin! So that’s super exciting! It looks like we will be together in the fall in Grand Forks where I’ll be starting my new job as the youth pastor at the Gospel Chapel! I’m really looking forward to what God has in store for me this year! If you tend to keep up on this blog start checking back more regularly in the fall where I will be posting far more often!

-ben jepsen

What Porn Does to Relationships Pt. 3

How a married couple practically addressed pornography in their marriage.

Editor’s note: A little over a month ago, John and Rachel Buckingham wrote two web articles for us about what pornography and sexual addiction had done to their marriage. You can read those articles here and here. Now, they check in and talk about the decision to fight for their marriage and practical steps they’ve taken to try to heal and forgive.

There are no shortcuts to overcoming sex addiction. There are no tricks, no secret formulas, no patches and no “get free of addiction quick” plans available for the low price of $19.95.

If there were, we would have been the first callers on the line.

There is only our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our adoptive relationship with the Father. Without Him, our marriage would be in shambles; characterized by distrust, hurt and the ever-present sensation of horrible betrayal. Without Him, we would now be enemies and strangers, alienated from one another by John’s actions with little hope of true intimacy for years to come. With Him, we have found repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.

We have found love.

John on making the decision

That is not to say starting out on the road to recovery has been easy, or that I have been suddenly cured of sexual addiction. On the contrary, the months following the confession of porn use to my wife, Rachel, have been marked by discomfort and sacrifice, and each day I find myself bombarded with the temptation to engage in and pursue adulterous thoughts and actions. Nevertheless, Rachel has chosen to forgive and trust me once again, and we have taken steps together to establish accountability and safeguards for me in order that we might make no provision for the flesh.

While situations and areas of weakness vary greatly between sex addicts, it remains true that we have willingly chosen to subject ourselves to the slavery of sexual sin. Whatever the reason, whatever the root of the matter, we have chosen this path for ourselves and we can—by the power of the blood of Jesus Christ—chose to leave that path. The choice is a difficult one, to be sure, but it is nonetheless a choice that cannot be made for us. We must choose to take action. I made my choice on the day that I confessed my porn use to Rachel.

Sin must be rooted out.

From that day, with the support of my wife and a few godly men, I have turned to distance myself from the insidious behemoth of sexual addiction. Together we have established a system of accountability via an Internet activity monitor and set up Internet filters with OpenDNS that not only block pornographic and sexually explicit websites but allow for the blacklisting of sites that, although not pornographic, present an opportunity for sin.

In addition, we have chosen to avoid the use of smart phones and have decided to forgo dedicated cable television and Internet access in our newest apartment. For our protection, only Rachel knows the passwords to her computer and to our filtering account. Furthermore, I meet with a mature brother in Christ who is also privy to my Internet browsing activity. Rachel and I avoid sexually explicit movies and television shows, and I choose to leave the room while my wife exercises each day with her Pilates workout video. While some of these things seem inconvenient, annoying, trivial or uncomfortable, the truth is that we’re barely scratching the surface.

It’s important to note here that overcoming sex addiction is neither easy nor simple, nor is it achieved by merely gritting one’s teeth, putting one’s back into it and trying just a little harder. Decisions, willpower, privation and a wife’s forgiveness alone cannot and will not free an addict from the burdening chains of addiction or sin any more than a rock can turn itself into a beach ball. If we are to genuinely triumph over the power of sin in our lives, we must seek the only One who ever has: Jesus Christ.

If any person has shown me a concrete example of Christ-like love, it has been Rachel. In the face of my adulterous behavior, Rachel chose to forgive and trust me. This choice was immensely difficult, but I’m so grateful she did, as my battle to overcome sex addiction would be exponentially more daunting without her love and support. Her genuine forgiveness is a reflection of the forgiveness that Christ offers us all, and opens the door to an intimacy I had feared would be lost forever.

Rachel on choosing forgiveness

At the same time as John was presented with the decision to turn from addiction, I was faced with a similar choice: forgive him for what he had done, or not? Before all of this happened, I used to think I would forgive anyone unconditionally, especially those close to me. But when he confessed, I was hurt more deeply than I had ever imagined possible. He had promised to love and cherish only me on our wedding day, and yet, after only four months of marriage, he had broken that very promise.

I didn’t know how to respond.

I knew I should forgive him, but there was a part of me that didn’t want to do so. I didn’t want to trust him, or even let him look at me, much less be vulnerable and open with him. I feared he would just betray me again.

So I prayed.

I wanted to forgive him, but I didn’t know how. What would true forgiveness look like? How would I act? Would I ever be able to fully trust him? I asked God many, many questions that night, and He responded. He told me I had two choices: I could be hurt, angry, bitter, closed off and never trust my husband again, or I could truly, wholeheartedly forgive him and trust that God had brought us together for a reason. God made it clear the first choice would result in further damage to our marriage, alienating us from each other and preventing reconciliation and healing from even beginning. The second, however, would allow God to begin healing the damage immediately. It would still be a process, but it wouldn’t be delayed or drag on.

But what did that choice mean?

It meant forgiving him. Trusting him again as if he had never betrayed me. It meant handing over my heart once again and letting go of all of the anger, hurt, and bitterness. It meant moving on and having honest conversations. It meant being vulnerable and open with him. It meant exposing myself to possible rejection. It meant being selfless and putting his needs above my desire for control or my pain, putting the good of our marriage above what I felt was good for me. It meant letting go of my right to get even. It would be extremely hard and would require sacrifice, but it would be worth it.

After a few days of deliberation and struggle, I chose to forgive him, and it was quite possibly the most difficult decision I have ever made. It required me to believe in him again, to trust him with my heart and give myself to him again. On that day, I chose to let him in and asked him to be open with me about his struggle so we could fight it alongside each other by working through the issues and deep wounds caused by his addiction.

I have never looked back.

Love and reconciliation

Once invited in, the spectre of sexual addiction never completely vacates, and the recovering sex addict should not expect the battle will fully be over while he remains on Earth. Just as an alcoholic might “fall off the wagon” with just one drink, it only takes a sex addict (recovering or no) one moment of weakness to find him- or herself knee deep in the swamp of sexual immorality. As such, we must always remain vigilant against sin, that we might protect ourselves against the sexual immorality that would cause so much pain and hurt. In the sexually supercharged American society, even an innocent walk down the street can prove to be dangerous.

Now, by the grace of God, we have been reconciled to each other, and He is working in our relationship as we seek Him together. His love and forgiveness is awesome and incredible, and we fall more in love each day. Intimacy has been restored to our relationship, but sex addiction no longer enslaves us. There are still hard days, fights and the sin of the flesh, but we are slaves to Christ, and the truth has set us free.

John and Rachel Buckingham are servants of Christ, writers, wanderers and avid coffee drinkers. Read more about them on his and her blogs, where they write on life, love and the faithfulness of God.

What Porn Does To Relationships-Relevant Magazine

Part 1: A husband’s confession, a wife’s grief and truly confronting temptation.

[Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series detailing the damage that pornography and sexual addiction can do to a relationship. Check back tomorrow to read about the other side of that addiction, written by John’s wife Rachel.]

Hi, my name is John, and I was a sex addict.

I am also a believer in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and married to an amazing and beautiful woman of God.

To be honest, I thought my addiction would go away with marriage, thought I had been prepared for the strong pull of lust and pornography by a four month fast from my personal computer, thought I was strong enough to stay pure, thought that the safeguards I had built against myself were enough, thought I wouldn’t look at pornography ever again.

How wrong I was.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

The truth is, the temptation of sexual addiction doesn’t lessen with marriage at all. On the contrary, it actually becomes stronger. In spite of what we see today in movies and television, marriage is hard, and true sexual intimacy within marriage is even harder. Unfortunately, while behaving selfishly is easy and natural to our flesh, serving takes a great deal of hard work and sacrifice. And although some find it easy to love, serve and sacrifice, it certainly isn’t a first instinct of mine.

Therefore, in spite of the fact that my wife is everything I could want or ask for in a woman, my flesh nonetheless turns to the “thrill” of feeding an addiction to sex that began when I was twelve years old. An addiction that continued to grow in strength into my teen years and throughout college, eventually leading to daily porn use and several sexual flings that ended in dramatic heartache. As commonly happens with sex addicts, my use of pornography wrought havoc on my ability to have healthy relationships with “real girls,” and it wasn’t until a year after I graduated from college that I found even a vague semblance of healing from what had become a serious addiction to sex.

In early 2010, I asked my girlfriend to marry me. She said yes, and a few long months later we were married. It was a happy and and joyful day, to be sure, but I felt more relief than anything else. “Finally,” I thought. “My struggle against pornography is over.” Although I was confident that I would be “OK,” I nonetheless felt it necessary to try to explain my addiction to my wife. Like a fool, I tried to do it gently and without going into too many specifics or actually explaining the ugliness of the sin in which I had lived for so long. “Things will be fine,” I told myself. “After all, we can have sex whenever we want now.”

And without further ado, we started our new life together.

The first couple of months went great, and because I didn’t have much temptation, I began to let down my guard. And suddenly the streets seemed to fill with alluring girls in all-too-tight clothing. The world around me was one humongous temptation, and it seemed that everywhere I laid my eyes was yet another source of temptation. Even worse, every website I visited seemed to have some woman or another inviting me to indulge in a bit of lust, to relive the days of pornography and masturbation. Convicted, I tried to communicate these things to my wife, but I was ashamed by my sin and the fact that I was struggling, and avoided being clear on the true nature of my struggle.

And so the barrage continued.

Finally, four months after my wife and I were married, my defenses—weakened by my fear of the consequences and a concurrent lack of support—completely crumbled; I again used pornography. Not far away were my old tormentors guilt and shame, and that night I could barely sleep from the sense of condemnation that washed over me. I hated myself for what I had done; this sin didn’t just affect me now, it also affected my wife. I had betrayed her trust. I felt worthless, faithless, and disgusting. A Judas. A traitor.

The next day I could barely look my wife in the eye. I knew that I had to truly tell her what I had done. I didn’t want to live a life of deceit, constantly lying to the very person closest to me. I wanted the intimacy of a marriage without deception or secrecy, no matter how terrified I was to confess my sin. Slowly, painfully, I told her what I had done.

She was devastated. All the love and trust and intimacy we had worked so hard to build for the last four months was called into question and our marriage was shaken to its very core. I feared it wouldn’t stand, and I wouldn’t have blamed her in the least for walking out altogether. She had every right to do so.

Before I was married, I believed I could overcome the temptation of lust and pornography by mere force of will; while after my wedding day, I assumed all sexual temptation would simply disappear. The truth is that I, in and of myself, am completely incapable of conquering an addiction to sex, and being married just raises the stakes. Neither is permissible to gloss over the sin itself in order to save face or avoid shame.

Throughout various conversations with Christian men about their struggles with lust, masturbation and pornography, I hear (and have myself used) a great deal of softening rhetoric. Language such as “I’ve had some problems with lust …,” “I stumbled again …,” and “I messed up the other day …” are very common. They are also untrue. The sin of lust isn’t just a “mistake”, a “mess up”, or a “problem”; it is no less than an act of sin which is reprehensible to God, and nothing short of honestly confessing and repenting of that sins is good enough for God.

Sexual addiction is not a thing to be taken lightly. It is a destroyer of relationships and a corruptor of the body of Christ. Satan uses it against us to crush us and divide us one from another as we cover our shame with lies or half-truths. We simply cannot master it without the power of Christ in our lives, and we must not be reluctant to make any sacrifice in order to break the hold of such sins. To make any excuse for sin is to allow it an ever-widening foothold in our lives, and we must be utterly ruthless and aggressive in rooting it out.

John Buckingham is a wordsmith, English teacher, former homeschooler and international bumbler. He maintains several blogs and has recently returned from China, where he learned that he’s neither as humble nor as patient as he originally believed.

Why you need to stop watching porn

I would say that my friend Ryley has done a great job at bringing some helpful stats on this subject on his blog http://dayoldmusings.wordpress.com/ and handles the subject appropriately. So do yourself a favor and check it out. However I have to say that the more we hear we about why pornography is not only wrong but dangerous the better we will all be, esecially if we take time to listen! So here is a short list of reasons why you NEED to stop watching pornography.

1. It is against the very way God made creation to function.

God has set the world to work in certain ways that line up with his will and direction. When we deviate from this we only end up hurting ourselves and actually rebel against the God who loves us. Proverbs talks a lot about this and would be an important (among many) book to read when battling against this. Ephesians 5:3 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”

2. It hurts your brain.

Every time you engage in an activity that fires up your pleasure center it feels really good! This in of itself is not wrong, however when you engage in an activity that is constantly doing this, like porn, then part of your brain actually gets damaged. Donald Hilton Jr. writes “Just like other addictions, pornography addiction will interrupt dopamine, which functions as a neurotransmitter, and it will cause a part of the brain to shrink,” Hilton claims. “The shrinkage occurs in the Ventral Tegmental Area, or VTA, at the front of the brain.” Basically when you are addicted to porn your emotions are not in check and the things that bring you joy and pain are lowered and you do not feel emotions to the level you should. Along with this it often leads to people being more short with others and irritated a lot easier!

3. Once you start its VERY difficult to stop.

Pornography addicts have a more difficult time recovering from their addiction than cocaine addicts, since coke users can get the drug out of their system, but pornographic images stay in the brain forever. Ask almost anyone who has ever struggled with pornography about the images they have seen and they will likely tell you how they still can access the scenes in their brain, this makes it very tough to kick the addiction!

4. It ruins your ministry.

The last stat I heard on this subject was that 4 in every 10 pastors struggle with pornography. The stories I hear of pastors (both youth and lead pastors) getting fired or quitting because of pornography addictions is frightening. This is tearing the church apart and if you are considering being in ministry and struggle with this I hope for yourself and the church you are going to serve that you take this seriously and not allow it to cause troubles down the road

5. It ruins your marriage.

It would be a delusional thought to figure that marriage will fix your porn addiction. With that backward logic the same person would have to assume that marriage would fix their drug or alcohol addiction too. Marriage does not give you the right to watch porn, it allows you to have sex with your husband or wife. Sex is not porn therefore having sex does not solve your porn problems, your still going to be addicted to porn, don’t be a fool! This assumption i believe leads to many divorces. I always thought that was true but never actually saw it as a real problem since i didn’t know anyone personally who has experienced this. However this has hit close to home for a lot of my friends and their marriages suffer because of it. Do not go into a marriage without seriously working through this addiction and making sure your spouse is aware of it as well!

Well there is far more to be said but ill stop there, hope this was helpful for someone out there. If this is a reality for you please please please seek help and realize how serious (since it is a sin) this really is!

-bent 😉