I was thinking today about things that changed my life. I came up with three things and I know there were more but these were the three that first came to my mind…
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
First, I recognized the strangle hold that pornography had on me…
In 2004 I moved to New Jersey for work. I wasn’t a Christian at that time but the move felt to me like the opportunity for a brand new life. As I packed things to take with me the one thing that I certainly was not packing was my years of collected porn mags and videos. At that time I realized that my porn habit was more of an obsession that a normal bad-habit. I realized that having grown up on the stuff, wrong understanding of women had formed in my brain and so I bequeathed my whole “collection” to my best friend (sorry Scott) and was leaving for Jersey with no intention of obtaining anymore of the stuff.
It took years for me to see that my exposure to porn really was a form of sexual-abuse. I actually thought, at the time, that women all meant “yes” when they said “no” and secretly desired to be abused and sexually mastered by men. It took me quite a while to realize that the majority of women were not like the women who were ‘acting’ interested in me in the movies. I had a tough time realizing that pornography was a pure fantasy-land for men and it had terrible effects on countless men and women. Even as a non-Christian I recognized that there was something wrong.
To this day, porn is the one thing from my past life that still beckons me. I was addicted to many things but this is the one thing from my past that I actively have to fight against. While I don’t like it, it is a thorn in my flesh that keeps me humble while it allows me to understand others with addictions of their own.
1 Corinthians 15:16-17
16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
Second, I took seriously a desire to know the truth…
When I was new in New Jersey I was not getting into porn nor was I hanging out at the local booby-bars so this left me with tons of time to just look at the ocean and think. In my time of thinking I wondered what was really true about God and life. I remember praying a simple prayer: “God, if you actually exist, I want to know who you are.” I did not really care who God was, I just wanted to know who he was. In fact, I expected God to be a form of Buddhism or something: anything but Christian because I didn’t want my mom to be right.
I started looking into world religions and I realized that all of them made their claims of being true; but only one of them claimed to be true because of a dead man rising back to life from the dead. I was struck with the resurrection because if a dead man actually came back to life from the dead then I needed to seriously listen to that guy. And the fact that the Bible instructed me to ignore the Christian claims if in fact Jesus did not rise from the dead - this was a big one for me: because all other world religions claim to be true just because they say so.
I was stuck because the Christian claim was different and now my life has been significantly improved because of it.
Thirdly, I learned to manage and budget my money…
How we use our money is the clearest outside indicator of what we really believe. ... If someone is a true disciple of Jesus Christ, the evidence will be found in that person's everyday life - including his or her use of money. ~Larry Burkett
Getting rid of porn and accepting the truth of Jesus were huge impacts on my life, but after that was learning how to budget; and it has been no-less significant to my life.
Before I learned to budget, I lived pay-check to pay-check. I paid my bills but just barely. Car insurance was the tough one with its every six-month payment that I never really had and scrambled to come up with. I was maxed out on my credit cards, I had a car payment, and if there was any money extra it was always used to feed myself, buy cigarettes and beer, and go to Atlantic City. I was taught a good work ethic from my parents but money management was not something that I had ever really learned. I actually believed that the only way to be out of debt in this world was to die and not exist anymore.
At that time I started listening to a daily radio show by Larry Burkett called Money Matters. It was a radio show that talked about the Christian principles of handling money. Larry stressed the necessity of the budget for responsibly managing money and even though it was a foreign concept to me I realized that he was correct. Then he talked about how to get debt-free which was a concept that I did not believe possible in our culture, but he talked a lot about how to do it and so I tried it; that was in 1994. By the end of 1995 I became debt-free and I never looked back. Today I have a little minor debt but something that will be gone within the fiscal calendar year and because I budget I always have a month’s expenses in the bank with a good cushion for surprises.
These are among the top three things that completely impacted my life. I know there are more and maybe even some other things that were more influential that I don’t even know about, but these are the ones that came to mind immediately. I share them because I know that I am not the only one who had been negatively impacted by pornography, or not taking the idea of the truth of life seriously, or even never having learned how to properly manage my finances and I thought it might help you to consider your own situation.
My prayer is that you too might find peace in your life by learning things that you may not have thought of before.