Day 22 – Five Big Reasons People Stay Stuck

Few people change in a straight line. Most change is messy, difficult, and plays itself out over time. So if you are frustrated that your journey toward freedom is taking a while, just stay the course. The people who get free are the ones who do not give up. 

Proverbs tells us the following:

“The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.” (Proverbs 24:16 NLT)

Refusing to quit and never staying down when you fall are key components to the journey toward freedom. 

With all of that being said, it’s very important that when we are stuck, we learn from our mistakes, figure out what is off, and find a new path forward. If you are struggling to find lasting freedom, here are a few reasons why people stay stuck. Make note of all that apply to you, and as you move forward, make the necessary adjustments.  

  1. YOUR MOTIVES ARE OFF. We covered this at the beginning of this freedom journey, but it’s worth coming back to. In 2 Corinthians 7:10, we see that godly sorrow leads to repentance, but worldly sorrow leads to death. The person experiencing godly sorrow is genuinely grieved over their sin because they see how their sin has hurt God and others. This sorrow leads them to live differently and pursue a life marked by love. The person who experiences worldly sorrow over their sin is more concerned with avoiding the negative consequences that sin might produce in their own lives. In other words, their primary motivation is fear of personal loss and is focused inward. Godly sorrow comes from a genuine love for God and others and is first and foremost focused outside of one’s self. It’s not wrong to be concerned about the negative effects sin will have in our lives—but our primary focus needs to be much bigger than this. 
  2. YOU ARE TRYING TO GET FREE ALONE. You can’t hide and heal at the same time. If you want to walk free, you need to immerse yourself in healthy community and involve other people in your journey toward wholeness. Proverbs 15:22 tells us, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (ESV). Who are you routinely asking to speak into areas of your life where you are struggling. Are you being open and honest with others who are in turn encouraging you and spurring you on in your god-given identity? Are you hiding in darkness or are you bringing things into the light, where you can experience the love and guidance of caring, trusted friends?
  3. YOU STILL LIKE YOUR SIN. It’s a hard thing for any church-going Christian to admit that they still like their sin. Sure, they will say they hate it—that’s the proper answer. But what they typically mean is that they hate the guilt, shame, and condemnation they feel as a result of continuing to struggle, but there are still elements of their sin that they love. We cannot be double-minded about sin and get free. In Romans 12:9, Paul instructs us to, “Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.” When we come into full agreement with God about sin and hate it fully rather than partially, we can then learn to cling to what is good and build our lives around that. It is only when we have a love-hate relationship with sin that we continue to struggle with it. 
  4. YOU DON’T HAVE PROPER BOUNDARIES. When you are trying to get free from porn, it’s critical to have proper boundaries in place to keep you from engaging in behavior that hurts both yourself and others. Things like web filters and software that monitors web and phone activity are not the ultimate solution to porn, but they can be an extremely helpful tool to help keep you from porn while you are doing the work of pursuing inner healing and transformation. In the long-term, lasting freedom comes from learning to live according to your new, god-given desires—but in the short to medium term, having the right fences up is critical. If you are still struggling, sit down with a trusted friend and go through the Porn Proof guide, which will help you decide which boundaries and fences are appropriate. 
  5. YOU AREN’T LEARNING TO LIVE LOVED. Deep struggles with porn most often stem from trying to get our god-given longing for love met in the wrong way. God is love, and we were made by love, in love, and for love. When this need goes unmet, we will look for other ways to feel the love we were made for. To this end, porn helps us feel loved for a moment, even if it is completely based in irrational illusions. When you learn to receive God’s love and rest in it, you will find the pull to pursue the false intimacy porn offers is greatly diminished. The simple truth is that God loves you as much right now as He ever will. He doesn’t love you less when you are struggling, and He will not love you more when you are finally free. If you have a hard time experiencing God’s love personally, find verses about the love of God and just meditate on them until they get deep in your heart. Pray through these passages and make a habit of asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the love of God to you. Over time, these practices will help you to live loved, and people who live loved don’t go looking for cheap substitutes. 

There you have it. The five reasons listed above are not a comprehensive list, but they should help you identify key areas where you can still experience significant growth and transformation. Take an honest assessment of where you are on each of those areas, and make the adjustments you need to make going forward. Keep at this thing. Stay hungry for freedom, remain open to truth, and maintain a bias toward action, and you’ll keep making progress. 


Day 22 Freedom Work

Scripture Reading — Read 1 John chapters 1–3, taking notes of how God loves us and the effect that receiving that love has in our lives.

Journaling Exercises — Answer the following questions at length in your journal. Aim to spend at least 7–10 minutes per question and go into as much detail as possible. 

  • Looking at the five common reasons people stay stuck outlined above, which do you feel you have significant room to grow in. Be honest in your answer, and go into as much detail as possible. The more honest you are, the easier it will be to figure out why you may still be stuck. 
  • For every area you were able to identify where you still have significant room to grow, write out practical actions that would help you grow in that area. Some action steps may be obvious like “invite a trusted friend into my struggle,” while others, you may need to lean into the Holy Spirit and what He has to say about it. 

Prayer — Father, I ask that as I pursue freedom, you fill me with humility and wisdom to see the areas where I need to grow and to take actions that will lead me into life. Holy Spirit, search my heart and know me. Reveal to me the things I still believe that are keeping me stuck, and reveal the truth that will set me free. I ask that you continue to open my heart to receive the abundant love that you have for me, and that you heal me where I am broken. You know the specific things I need. Open my heart to receive correction and encouragement from you so that I can turn from destructive behavior and live in wholeness and healing. 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.”