Day 19 – Looking for Love in the Wrong Places

Imagine a man who goes into the doctor’s office complaining about radiating pain in his back. The pain is being caused by a herniated disc, but the doctor simply prescribes a painkiller to treat the symptom. He sends this man away without addressing the deeper issue that the pain is stemming from. 

Over time, this man needs more and more pain medication in higher doses as the condition worsens—all because the root issue isn’t being dealt with. Eventually, this man recognizes that he has come to depend on his pain medication, realizing that he cannot function without it. He may try to get off of it, knowing that the amounts he’s taking are dangerous for his liver and may have a very detrimental impact to his long term health—but when he tries to get off, the pain is simply too great, and he finds himself unable to stop taking the meds. 

There isn’t much of a difference between being addicted to painkillers and being addicted to sexual sin. While on the surface these may seem miles apart, both are ultimately an attempt to medicate pain. 

Now, it would be easy to say that a man addicted to pain killers just needs to stop—just like it’s easy to tell someone they need to stop looking at porn. It’s true—but it completely ignores the issue that drives the addiction in the first place. It is only when the root cause of the pain is dealt with that one is set up to leave their pain medication behind. 

This is why most attempts to change behavior fail. We must begin to experience a deeper transformation than just changing our unwanted fruit. When we deal with the underlying pain that drives our behavior and begin to experience true healing in our hearts, we will find our unhealthy dependencies on our “pain medication” will begin to lose their power over us. 

What is the pain that drives most compulsive sexual sin like looking at porn? It comes as a surprise to most that it has very little to do with sex, but rather love. Most who struggle with looking at porn are desperately longing to be loved. Unsure how to get their need to be loved met, they latch onto whatever they can find that feels even remotely like love, no matter how much of a fantasy it might be. 

The reason things like porn are so addictive is because we use them to try to meet our legitimate need for love. We become terrified of letting go of it because in many ways it can feel like letting go of the one thing that has caused us to feel love. Even if that love is ultimately a figment of our imagination, it can feel very real in the moment. To some extent, porn gives us the ability to feel loved on demand. When we feel rejected, lonely, unnoticed, and any number of negative things, it allows us to feel a false intimacy. Though this intimacy is false, it still feels better than no intimacy at all. That is why we must not only let go of it, but find something better to replace it with. 

Consider a man lost at sea in a shipwreck. In his desperation to survive, he will always cling to whatever will keep him afloat. The only way he would let go of a piece of the wreckage that is helping keep him alive is if he finds something better to grab onto like a lifeboat.

It’s the same thing with letting go of porn. Porn is the thing that so often has kept us afloat while we feel we are drowning in life. To find the strength and courage to let go of it, we must find something better and more sure to hold onto. 

The love of God is our lifeboat. When we let go of the pieces of wreckage that have been helping us survive and choose to get into the lifeboat, it can carry us safely back to shore. 

This is why getting a revelation of God’s love for you is such a key aspect to breaking free. Until you get a revelation of God’s love for you, walking away from porn will feel like leaving behind your only means of survival. But when you reach out your hand and allow Jesus to pull you into the boat and take you to shore, you will find yourself not just surviving, but coming back to life. 


Day 19 Freedom Work

Scripture Reading — Read Ephesians 1-3, taking careful notes of what it says about how much God loves you.

Journaling Exercises — Answer the following questions at length in your journal. Aim to write for about 5 minutes per question:

  • Where do you feel the most unloved in your life? How have you been wounded in the area of love? Be specific here where possible.  
  • What would it look like for you if you learned how to get your need for love met in God rather than trying to get it met through people and/or things?
  • Take a minute and ask the Holy Spirit to tell you how He feels about you. Remember, God is love, so the voice of God is the very voice of love. Spend some time on this, and write down whatever words come to mind. (This is an important practice to do regularly in your life—so don’t just do it in today’s freedom work, but make a habit of God to reveal His love to you—even in moments when you may not feel lovable.)

Prayer — Father, thank your love for me is unfailing. I often feel covered in darkness and shame, but I thank you that you have never stopped loving me—even when I have turned from you. Help me to learn to run into your loving arms when I fall. I long so deeply to be loved and have often looked for love in the wrong places—leaving my longing unfulfilled. Help me to bring my heart to you instead and learn to rest in your love. Help me to trust that the reason you desire me to leave my sin behind is because you love me and you know how sin destroys me. Thank you that you are the Good Shepherd who pursues me until you find me and bring me home. I can trust a love like that—for you wholeheartedly desire my good. Help me to stop looking for love in the wrong places, and by following your voice, to find my way back home. Amen.

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Dr. Joseph Serwadda's Story

Over the past decade, numerous pastors and leaders from all over the world have been crying out (and even begging us) for discipleship resources in their language. This may sound extreme, but in America we have an abundance of books and resources that are available to us that are often taken for granted. In many ways, we have access to excess.

In some developing nations, people have never seen a book in their language. When leaders from these nations are given a book, they treat it as sacred gift! They even hand-write books and Bibles word for word so that they can spread this message of hope to others in their sphere of influence.

Dr. Joseph Serwadda, a leader from Uganda who oversees a group of churches that number approximately 27,000, echoes this need among pastors and leaders all over the world: “Our biggest need is not money or bigger buildings, but solid teaching. We lack literature for people to read and study on their own. The more people we have in church who are less instructed in the Word of God, the less solidity we have. Come and help us preserve the harvest. This is a Macedonian call!”

Pastor Yassir's Story

Over the years, Cubans have long suffered under the oppression of a single message: communism. Despite this challenge, Yassir is committed to sharing a new message with his people, a message of transformation that can lead to national revival.

Cubans, in general, have been conditioned toward communistic consumption. That’s why Yassir wants his people to embrace a new identity: a life defined by what they can give. This shift requires growth and maturity that can only come through a new perspective.

He explained, “The Cuban church is strong and filled with passion. But I believe it’s important that we shift our mentality. We need to see how the Gospel goes beyond our own needs. Ultimately, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our nation, and not just wait for outside intervention.”

There aren’t many Christian resources in Cuba. So, Pastor Yassir’s church, along with many other churches throughout Cuba, have been profoundly impacted by the resources Messenger International has provided for them in their own language.

In our conversations with Pastor Yassir, he often cited an ancient proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ve fed him for a lifetime. He sees MessengerX as a tool both to feed his people and teach them to fish.

It’s become evident that after many years in our ministry, the most effective way to transform a village or town is not to construct a church building. This just keeps the local leadership dependent on us.

We are much more effective if we give the indigenous leaders such as Pastor Yassir spiritual knowledge that will empower them to influence their village, town, or city. Such knowledge helps produce the faith needed to grow and sustain the work, which, if necessary, will include buildings and other resources.

Stories like Pastor Yassir’s fuel our mission, because we believe that everyone deserves to know life-transforming truth!

Nura's Story

Before Nura became a follower of Christ, her life was a living hell.
After the death of her husband—from whom she endured many years of abuse and suffering—she became a widow with four children. In search of peace and inner healing, she sought solace in religious places and practices, which only led her deeper into depression and financial debt.

Her last resort was Jesus.

“I came to the Christian church and begged for help! I accepted Christ after I heard of the promise of peace and healing that is found in Him,” Nura wrote. “I slowly began to recover, but there was one thing hindering my healing—unforgiveness.”
Filled with regrets, Nura struggled to forgive her husband. But the grip of offense began to weaken when her pastor handed her a copy of The Bait of Satan.

“I forgave my husband after I learned how much I, too, needed forgiveness,” shared Nura. “Now I am healed, and I have peace for the first time in my life. Some even say I look ten years younger!”


Pastor Raphael's Story

Pastor Raphael was raised in Kenya, immersed in a culture of darkness. As a child, he lacked affection because his father believed that strong men don’t show love. He continually witnessed his father beat and belittle his mother. Everywhere he looked, insidious behavior was practiced toward women and infants—families were being destroyed and lives were ending before they had a chance to begin.

This was the destiny Raphael was headed toward.

But everything changed when truth entered the scene. The first area to be transformed was Raphael’s heart—which, in turn, transformed his marriage and his family. And with a strong and healthy family, his whole outlook toward life has changed.

“Through the resources of Messenger International, a relentless passion was ignited in me to see the people of my country free from lies,” shared Raphael. “I discovered my purpose to train up others and bring God’s transforming truth to remote villages.”

Raphael has trekked miles through mud and rain to reach people, often rising early and returning late. He would travel over 50 miles a day with his bicycle—but through the generosity of the MessengerX community, he was given a motorcycle, which has enabled him to double his efforts while easily transporting the resources and supplies he needs to facilitate his classes. Raphael has seen over 200 of his students graduate in the villages he serves.

“Thank you for investing in my people,” expressed Raphael. “Each day tribal warriors are transformed into children of God, marriages are infused with love, and the innocent are protected. Your generosity has given us the tools we need to rewrite our story and reclaim our humanity.”

Dahlia's Story

Formerly a Muslim, Dahlia fled to Turkey after she was expelled from her Iranian school and excommunicated by her family. Her crime? Becoming a Christian.

You can now find Dahlia in a refugee camp, far from what she once called home. But despite the upheaval, she has found purpose in her pain. On a daily basis, Dahlia walks through her makeshift town and prays over the people. They have become her people—the audience of her message.

Dahlia has become a messenger, and she is often spotted lovingly serving those around her and sharing her faith with them. Despite language barriers, people are drawn to her because they see something different in her. And what’s amazing is that she’s not only reaching the people in her refugee camp, she’s also impacting those she left behind in Iran.

“I’ve had calls from Iran,” writes Dahlia. “People who mocked me because of my faith now believe in Jesus and want to know more. So, I tell them about MessengerX, which has a lot of translated discipleship resources.”

As we continue to provide people like Dahlia with life-transforming truth in their own language, we’re helping them grow in their faith and discover their purpose—and we’re equipping them to make a difference in their world.

“I am beyond thankful for all of the books that I’ve been able to read in my language, such as Driven by Eternity, translated in Farsi,” shared Dahlia. “I read them again and again. The messages keep me company in this lonely season, and they inspire me to reveal Jesus to the hurting people all around me.”