Christians and Candy

Did you know that “excessive sugar obliterates self-control” and “is a strong trigger for addictive behavior”? In a season (and in a culture) that incessantly seeks sugar, this science is important. If we as Christians want to obey the many commands of scripture to be a self-controlled people and desire not to be mastered by anything (1 Cor 6:12), this news is noteworthy (see my previous article The Science of Self-Control: Why Christians Are Called to Self-Care for additional info). I encourage you to read my newest article entitled The Scary Side of Sugar to learn more about sugar’s detrimental effects and what can be done to counter them.

I am not arguing here that sugar is evil and must be avoided at all costs. But I believe a call to wisdom and moderation on this holiday of excess is in order. As a lover of sugar, I know I need this reminder. As I noted in the Sugar article “it is my hope that this information will not limit your enjoyment of the festivities but instead add to a more meaningful experience” Whether we celebrate Halloween or not, may we all shine brightly on this holiday that too often glorifies darkness, fear, and self-indulgence. May we be outwardly focused, that the aroma of our love for others would surpass the sweetness of temporary sugar fixes, that those we encounter would experience Christ in and through us.

Wishing you and yours “an abundance of joy and authentic connection” throughout this holiday season.


XXXChurch Publishes LifeSTAR Article for Partners

So exciting! My first published article. Check it out!

LifeSTAR Central Valley Blog

I wanted to take a moment and share a new article I wrote that was published today on the XXXChurch blog. It is called “5 Things You MUST Do If Your Spouse Is Hooked On Porn“. This is another great article for partners that will be added to our “Partners Resources” section of our blog. Check out the new article here:

I hope you find this article encouraging and helpful.

-Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LifeSTAR of the Central Valley

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“My Dichotomy” by Joel Lux

A friend of mine shared this poem with me today. It resonated with me and I thought others would relate and benefit from reading it. If you like his writing, check out his blogs entitled “The Luminous End” and “Plight of the Introvert“.

My Dichotomy

Let us sing. Let us sing!

I open my mouth but what comes out is not the prettiest thing
After all who am to think that both salt water and fresh could come from this spring

I am the descendant of two sinners in love

I have seen both the profound and profane running through my veins
And it’s no wonder I can’t help but sing

I find my shame in the cheek that I kissed

The dead I buried, the wealth that I miss
I find my shame in the still abounding old man
In the water upon which I just can not seem to stand
I find my shame in every selfish thing I do

Lower us down. Lower us down!

In our beds through the roof to the ground
I tried to run the race but ran out of space and tripped over my own legs as I attempted it in my own strength

So lower us down. Lower us down!

From my high-top soapbox atop which I sit down here in the depths of this bottomless pit
And even in my pride behind which I hide I have to admit before all is said and done
I’ve got two spirits in the heart of one

I find my hope in a hole in the roof

In a Sycamore tree, in the hem of the Truth
I find my hope in words written in the sand
In Your wounded side and the holes in Your hands
Even in my shame, I find my hope in You!

A Poem of Pain

Writing is God’s gift to me. It has proven to be a tool through which I have found meaning. Wielding words, I have processed pain and calmed chaos within. This poem I wrote in 2008 reveals this very experience. In a raw and revealing fashion, it wraps words around writhing loneliness and hurt. It subtly speaks volumes. It is real. I thank God for the great gift of writing that blesses my soul. May others forage meaning here too.

The Path of Pain

Peering through the underbrush

The bushes moist with dew

My eyes review a lonesome camp

And note the solitude

“Papa, are you down there?”

My quivering question looms

I walk down the buried path

His death my heart assumes

Strewn across a clearing’s floor

The shrapnel of dad’s disease

Can a hundred Buds so satisfy

Or only the first drink?

Silence is a peeler

Against my soul’s soft skin

Seconds slide, I bleed the pain

That seeps from missing him

Hope evolves to anger

Questions maul my mind

Branded by my loathing love

By which I am defined.

(Forest Benedict, 2008)

*Note: The story did not end here. Read “Prayer of a Fatherless Father” to learn more about the healing journey.

*If this post touched you, please share it with others and consider “following” my blog.

When God Speaks

Yesterday I had an experience that unsettled me emotionally. I was unsure why. Not long after that I received a text from a friend that filled me with reassurance. Immediately, I was transported from confusion to infusion. That moment was molded into a time of tearful, joyful, connection with God. It was not until this morning that I noticed God’s perfect timing. I experienced the truth of Proverbs 15:23 that “A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word.” Reflecting back on that moment yesterday, I see that God spoke to me through that text message.

This morning, when I listened, he spoke to me again, using Steven’s Curtis Chapman’s song “Sound of Your Voice” to remind me that He is speaking to me all the time, through many means.

When God speaks to us today, may we have ears to hear.








Our Abba rarely speaks audibly but he does speak clearly

To those who will tune in and listen.

Sound Of Your Voice

There’s a mockingbird singing outside my window
There’s a little girl calling my name
And I hear Your voice
It’s the sound of Your voice
There’s a gentle breeze whispering
Stories and secrets through the branches of the old willow tree
And I hear Your voice
It’s the sound of Your voice

God, You know how much I wish I could just hear You say the words
And answer all the questions everybody’s asking
But until I hear You speak
Will You help me hear the songs You’re singing over all this noise
I will be listening for the sound of Your voice

There’s a little boy’s eyes looking up from a postcard
He’s asking “Will you show me love”
And I hear Your voice
I hear the sound of Your voice
There’s a woman who’s crying ‘cause her hope is dying
And a friend whispers “You are not alone”
And I hear Your voice
I hear the sound of Your voice

God, You know how much I wish I could just hear You say the words
And answer all the questions everybody’s asking
But until I hear You speak
Will You help me hear the songs You’re singing over all this noise
I will be listening for the sound of Your voice

And I’ll close my eyes for a moment
When I open them again
You’ll be standing there face to face
And I’ll sing for joy
And I will finally hear Your voice

With every sunrise You tell me again
How Your mercies are new
How Your love never ends
I will be listening for the sound of Your voice
In the crash of the thunder
In the roar of the waves
I hear Your strong arm calling my name
I will be listening for the sound of Your voice
The sound of Your voice
I am listening
I am listening

Denial of Future Destruction

The video in this article provides a powerful message that all of us would benefit from. It echoes these important words: “Do not be ·fooled [deceived; mistaken]: You cannot ·cheat [mock; make a fool of] God. People ·harvest only what they plant [reap what they sow]. If they plant ·to satisfy [or in the field of; into; to] their ·sinful selves [sinful nature; flesh], ·their sinful selves will bring them ruin [they will reap destruction from the flesh]. But if they plant ·to please [or in the field of; L into; to] the Spirit, they will ·receive [reap; harvest] eternal life from the Spirit. We must not become ·tired [or discouraged] of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life ·at the right [or in due] time if we do not give up” Galatians 6:7-9. Our choices today effect tomorrow. They bring future death or life to both us and those we love. Let us remain mindful of this truth.

LifeSTAR Central Valley Blog

In the recent Time Traveler post we explained how disconnection from our futures selves makes us more likely to trade future happiness for momentary present pleasure. The above video vividly portrays the progression of this dangerous thought process.

Popular culture promotes immediate gratification over long-term gain. Additionally, addicts experience pre-frontal cortex damage that inhibits their brain’s capacity for “forward thinking”. That is why recovery is so vital. Without it, addicts will likely continue making self-destructive choices that feel pleasurable in the moment yet cause further damage to their brains, relationships, and ultimately the life of their futures selves.

Is it time to take responsibility and escape the “slow fade” into an unwanted future of pain and regret? With help, there is hope. If you find yourself in this self-destructive cycle, we at LifeSTAR are here to join you on a new path to healing. It’s time to set into…

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