Freedom From Addiction

Featured Story: Paul Leininger

 

“I always thought I didn’t need help. That I could do this on my own. I couldn’t do it on my own.”

As men, we think we are strong enough to handle our issues. The truth remains, no matter how strong a man, there lies an Enemy in the shadows determined to see us fall. But Paul’s story boasts of a God who is stronger than it all. A God who never intended for us to do this on our own.

During his senior year in high school, Paul found God on a golf course. Growing up in a non-Christian family, it was his girlfriend’s dad that walked him through what it meant to know Jesus. It was all he needed to hear. Paul was now a self-proclaimed “Bible-banger.”

After high school, Paul’s relationship with Jesus struggled. He quickly found himself headed down a dark path, addicted to pornography and involved in an ungodly relationship.

Paul’s addiction to pornography became a catalyst for selfishness and anger. As the sin and secret grew, so did the anger. This deep-rooted anger would eventually follow him into marriage.

Paul met his wife Connie in 1995. Marriage and kids would soon follow. From the outside looking in it seemed as if Paul and Connie had it all together. But Paul’s secret remained in the dark.

“Whenever there’s a secret, it’s the enemies biggest weapon. When you get that secret out you disarm the enemy.”

In 2008 Paul and his family started attending Petra Church, in New Holland, PA, where Paul got involved in a men’s ministry called Men’s Fraternity. In his Men’s Fraternity group, a man named Dean shook Paul’s world with one sentence, “I have a porn problem.”

It was this one sentence, this one moment of admission and freedom for Dean that would ultimately break the chains of pornography for Paul. Paul began feeling his life change, and slowly God was taking away his anger.

Paul not only found a best friend in his men’s group, he found accountability. He found a group of men he could be transparent with.

Because of Petra’s experience with Men’s Fraternity, Men of Iron seemed like a natural fit for their church and a great next step for their men. Paul was part of the initial team that got Men of Iron – Strong27™ off the ground at Petra. Today Strong27™ is an integral part of the men’s ministry at Petra Church.

“Through Strong27™ we have seen the effects of accountability. We are seeing marriages change, we are seeing single men change. Men are more intentional about being godly husbands, fathers, friends, and workers. They are more intentional about taking responsibility for their actions and their sins.”

A 2003 Focus on the Family study showed that 70% of men in the church view pornography. A survey done by the Barna Group in 2016 found that only 7% of churches in the United States have programs equipped to deal with someone who comes to them for help with a porn problem.

Pornography is a serious issue that men in the church are struggling with in silence. At Men of Iron we believe that accountability and one-on-one mentoring can change the narrative. Strong27™ provides men with a chance to be open and transparent. To sit across the table from another man and share in each other’s struggles and victories. To challenge each other to grow as a Christ-follower, husband, father, and leader.

Thanks to Dean’s vulnerability and a desire to have another man hold him accountable, it gave Paul the freedom to do the same. It gave Paul the courage to tell his wife and sons. Today Paul and Connie are not afraid to tell their story and to help other couples walk through similar issues. Paul has experienced a substantial change in his own life through mentoring and he sees the impact Strong27™ is having on the men at Petra Church.

“Guys are admitting things, they are saying I have issues and I need a guy walking beside me. They needed something intentional and something strategic. We are seeing guys sow the fruit of it, they are hearing from other men and saying I need that. The change has been so traumatic that it is changing the men in our church. I want to see this grow exponentially.”

Steve Glick

Weathering the Storm

Featured Story: Bob King

 

“If you fully surrender for one year, you never know what’s going to happen.”

Transparency is a word that comes up often in conversation with Strong27™ mentor Bob King. Transparency with his wife, friends, and with his protege. This quest for transparency has helped Bob tear down walls that stood for decades.

Bob can still picture his dad sitting at the kitchen table reading his Bible, every morning. It’s a memory forever engrained. He grew up surrounded by godly influences. A foundation that led him to Christ at a very young age. That picture of what a godly man and leader looks like has helped shape Bob to be that for his own son.

Growing up in Friendswood, Texas, not far from the rough neighborhoods of South Houston, Bob saw it all. From drugs to drive-by shootings. An environment that often leads young men down the wrong path. But Bob had a mentor, in his dad, guiding him down the right path.

After school Bob found himself in Lancaster, PA in pursuit of a girl. Bob and Jill would soon marry and geared up for the next stage of life, a family. What they hadn’t planned for was how hard starting a family would be. Bob and Jill struggled through six long years of infertility. Instead of talking through the anger and letting people in, Bob allowed it to fester and built up walls to everyone and anyone.

It was through this difficult season they found a church to call home. At Victory Church Bob’s relationship with God began to flourish and things started changing. The door that was shut for Bob and Jill to have a baby, God opened through the form of adoption.

During his second year at Victory Church Bob heard about Men of Iron. It was something he knew in his heart he desperately needed. Now in his sixth year through the Strong27™ mentorship program Bob serves as the Strong27™ Director for his church. Not only participating but also overseeing all the men going through the program. Bob describes Men of Iron as a “Band of brothers, men in the church who will lock arms together.”

“Without having some type of mentoring, like Strong27™, I wouldn’t have been open to engaging with my neighbors. When you sit across the table from another man you are forced to break down walls and build relationships.”

Today Bob is not afraid to talk about his struggles, past and present. Through the Strong27™ program Bob has found an avenue to share and be transparent. An avenue to form lasting friendships. The Strong27™ program has given Bob the strength to lead his wife, to lead his son, and to lead in his church and community.

 

Steve Glick

Lead With Excellence – Put God First

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

I desire to love my wife well, to look at my wife as the most beautiful woman on the planet, and to see my wife as God sees her, a daughter of the Most High. These are desires that every husband should esteem for. But does it happen naturally? Does it happen 100% of the time? Certainly not. Let’s face it, we are men, we screw up. Just open up your Bible and look at the men of God who time and time again royally screwed up. From Moses, to Peter, to King David. But what’s the common theme among these men, including us today, that plagues them? Failure to trust in God. Allowing bravado, selfishness, doubt, and things of the world to overshadow God’s wisdom and guidance. Loving your wife well starts with putting God first!

David assures us in Psalm 37 that when we delight in the Lord, when we trust in God, he will give us the desires of our heart. I think the same is true when we don’t trust in God. When we desire things apart from God, he gives us those as well. But ultimately, God wants us to willingly delight in Him!

His desire for you as a husband is fulfilled when you put your trust in Him.

In Psalm 37 King David is speaking from years of experience, decades of falling down and getting back up again. He has learned what it feels like to delight in the Lord, and learned what it feels like to delight in the world. But throughout the psalm he says, “Do not fret.” David has seen the results of putting God first and knows there is great reward for all who do the same.

Men, do not fret, delight in the Lord, He is faithful. Put God first in ALL that you do and guaranteed he will make you a better husband, a better father, a better leader.

During our dating years my wife and I experienced a lot of heartache, a lot of ups and downs. And if I’m being honest I attribute most of that to myself and my actions. I was a terrible boyfriend. I had spent a majority of my twenties apart from God, living only for myself. I didn’t know what it meant to live for God, let alone how to trust in Him and how to treat a woman. It was always me first, my feelings, my selfish desires. When her actions didn’t line up with my needs I ran the other way. Building a gulf in between us. For years I skated by as a sub-par boyfriend. I didn’t love her well, I didn’t look at her as the most beautiful woman on the planet, and certainly not as God saw her and still sees her.

It wasn’t until I surrendered my selfishness that I began to see significant change. I put it all on the table before God. I prayed that I could and would love her well, that I would see her as beautiful. I put God first. 

Ashley and I have been married for 1 year and 5 months. Marriage is hard, and takes a lot of work. But to be honest this has been the greatest 17 months of my life. I’m sure you marriage vets are getting a good chuckle out of my 17 months of experience. But in over 7 years of being with this woman I have never been more in love with her than I am today. My affection for her grows by the minute. Everyday her beauty shines through in a greater and more unique way than I ever thought was possible.

Men, God WILL give you the desires of your heart. He WILL give you a love for your wife that you never thought possible. Do not fret. Trust in the Lord. Put God first. 

 

Steve Glick

Start S.M.A.R.T. With Your Wife In 2017

“In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” – Proverbs 14:23

The saying goes, “Marriage may be the closest thing to heaven or hell any of us will know on this earth.” I don’t know about you, but my desire is to have a TRUE relationship with my wife — one that is full of love, joy, peace, happiness, etc. I desire to laugh together, cry together and communicate honestly with each other. I don’t want to “just exist” in marriage together. I want to be best friends with my wife. Best friends are committed to one another, regardless of circumstances. Best friends go out of their way for each other, willingly and consistently serving the other person. Best friends are at peace with one another.  

Marriage is hard. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. It takes a lot of work, which is why the lifelong commitment should not be taken lightly. But like anything else that is hard, the reward is so great. The ‘ROI’ on the relationship with your wife is directly correlated to the amount of investment you put into the relationship. The greater the investment, the greater the return. The more labor you put into your marriage, the greater the profit.

King Solomon reiterates this promise in Proverbs 14:23 where he says, “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Author Steven K. Scott says, “Apply that labor to your marriage, and your profit will be measured by the amount of fulfillment you and your wife gain. Mere talk, on the other hand, Solomon warns, is cheap and easy, and leads only to poverty.” (1)

He goes on to say, “Diligent labor is demanding. It requires vision, creativity, commitment and effective partnering. Essentially, Solomon is telling us that if you are not profitable in your career, or if your marriage isn’t as fulfilling as you wish, you are probably not working diligently enough.” (2)

I read that sentence several weeks ago, and I realized the diligent labor I was putting forth in my marriage was nonexistent. My wife and I had been irritable with each other. There was very little joy and happiness oozing from our relationship, and I decided to take responsibility and make some changes.

In my previous blog, I shared a model to help you ‘Start S.M.A.R.T. in 2017’ . Below is a step-by-step model to Start S.M.A.R.T. With Your Wife in 2017.

After realizing I needed to put forth more diligent labor in my marriage, I sat down, wrote out a plan and executed it. I’ve noticed a big change in my marriage since, and I want to encourage all of us to start your marriage out with a bang in 2017. Here’s the plan…

1. Schedule a day to personally get away – Use this day to establish your personal 2017 goals. Keep it simple by using the 5F Model (Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness, Finances). IMPORTANT — this day is for you. Don’t invite anyone else. Turn your phone off, limit distractions, etc.

2. Schedule a day to get away with your wife – Don’t let her know about it until you’ve handled all the details — lunch and dinner plans, babysitting, a fun activity, etc.

3. Text your wife the details – “Hey hun, I planned a day away for just me and you. Please block out the entire day next Thursday. I’ve already made babysitting arrangements and have lunch and dinner reservations. Be ready to leave the house at 9 am.

4. Start your day out light – Do something fun together. Take her shopping, grab coffee, etc.

5. Share the why and take responsibility – When the moment is right, share with her why you planned this day. For me, I had to be honest.  I said, “I planned this day because I felt like we are going through the motions in our marriage. It’s not what it could be, and I take full responsibility for this. I want to use this day to get things back on track and to share my goals and plans with you.”

6. Recap the year with vulnerability – Share a summary of your year. Tell her about your personal successes, failures, disappointments, etc. Take it one step further by sharing your feelings on the marriage. Let her know how you appreciate her, what you love about her, etc. Go even further by sharing where you have failed her and what your desires are.

7. Share your personal 5F goals – Give her permission to hold you accountable. Encourage her to check in with you (Recommendation – make sure one of your family goals is focused on diligently loving her more effectively).

8. Encourage her – Ask her to consider establishing a 5F plan for 2017. Set a time the following week to sit down together after the kids are in bed to review them.

9. Schedule monthly check-ups – Schedule a consistent day, time and location to check-in with each other. Review your goals, talk about your marriage and be diligent!

Garret Barbush, Executive Director

Resources

1 – Steven K. Scott, The Richest Man Who Ever Lived – King Solomon’s Secrets to Success, Wealth & Happiness, page 17.
2 – Steven K. Scott, The Richest Man Who Ever Lived – King Solomon’s Secrets to Success, Wealth & Happiness, page 17.