For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a happily married Lead Pastor with three amazing children. And this week or so I’m going to tell you how God has rescued me from a dark, daily, compulsive addiction to lust. When I say rescued I mean that my #1 struggle in life used to be LUST. And #2. And #3 — and now I wouldn’t put it in my top 5. This rescue is probably the single most incredible miracle God has done in my life. I believe you need to hear this.

I’ve told this story other times in other places in smaller settings — never with potential for the whole world to read it — but there’s something breathtaking about ripping all your skeletons out of the closet: There’s nothing left to hide in them. That, and others might identify with my story and find God’s help for themselves woven throughout. So I’m not going to pull any punches with this. Female readers, you may get a tad squeamish at times. I just pray that the window I’m giving into the guy struggle gives you a kind of “aha” into the boys and men you know. It will give insight into any ongoing struggle for either gender, probably. And guys, quite frankly, we need to talk about this, so deal with it.

Here we go.

In grade 8, I found a picture of a naked woman and it detonated a hormonal atom bomb in my soul. BA-BOOM. I wanted more. I needed more, or so I thought. I found the more at a friend’s place, in his older brother’s room. Playboy, Penthouse (the days of printed porn). One of the kids in my class joked about masturbating one day, implying that I didn’t know what it was. I knew enough to give it a shot, and I liked it. I did it again. And again. And before I knew it, that act got linked to the lustful pictures I was storing in my brain. Graphic, I know. But there it is.

I started stealing centerfolds from magazines at the drugstore. Then stealing the entire magazines (I wasn’t old enough to buy them). My occasional masturbating became regular. Then daily. Then multiple times a day. As I would discover later in life, I was hooked on the endorphin rush and the tentacles of the enemy were wrapped around me pretty badly. By the way, minus the stealing, I’ve found that many (most?) guys can relate to this part of my story. Sorry to burst your bubble, ladies. And your facade, men.

In grade 12, I gave my life to Jesus. And… while many things changed overnight, lust didn’t. Oh, I wanted it to. I really did. But nothing budged. Now the only difference was that I felt a smothering guilt every time I gave in to lust. I now bought the magazines because I was even more ashamed to steal them (mind-boggling hypocrisy, I know). It was beyond awful. And my heart ached for an out.

Read Part Two