2015: A String of Miracles

sunset-681840_1280I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” Psalm 77:11

I internally debated whether or not I would publicly share the following highlights of my year. To some, they may look like bragging. To me, they look like a string of miracles. Looking back, it seems that God was up to something unimaginable this past year.

Here are my highlights of 2015:

The LifeSTAR blog (which I manage) received 37,000 views this year! The best day was February 12th with 3,625 views!

January – Passed first licensing exam

February – Wrote “What One Person Can Do to Stand Against ‘Shades of Grey’“, which went viral (with 5,500 Facebook shares, receiving almost 18,000 hits)

Fresno Bee article version of Shades of Grey published

Started “The Anti-Pornography Movement” Facebook page

March – Forest Benedict becomes licensed and is promoted to Clinical Director

MayDangerous Access for Teens seminar

Dangerous Access for Parents

Fresno Bee article published – “My Path Out of Porn Addiction: A Therapist’s Journey

Pornography & Food Addiction Interviews

June – Porn Proof Kids article published – “Dear Porn: A Father’s Poignant Plan to Protect His Kids

Enjoyed an amazing trip to visit a close friend in Canada

July – Spoke to teenagers about pornography at Hartland summer camp

Interview with Stephen Kuhn

Interview with Carol the Coach

Presented at LifeSTAR Conference on how to do porn protection seminars

September -10 Year Wedding Anniversary!

Officially started as Program Manager of the Sexual Addiction Treatment Provider program at Mid-America Nazarene University and began teaching “Intro to Sex Addiction Treatment”

Article published in the Fresno Bee, “When Sex Secrets Surface

Seminar for adoptive/foster parents on pornography

OctoberSeminar for Parents on protecting children from pornography

November -Article published at Self Talk the Gospel

Forest Benedict interviewed at FPU Seminary Chapel about pornography

December 2 & 9Seminars for Parents and Teenagers

Started writing first book

This year was amazing. How fitting that as I finished 2014, I wrote these words:

“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things”.  Change is all the more enticing when I view it not as a chore but as an invitation to adventure, mission, and meaning. In 2015, I don’t want to sit and watch what God does in the church and the world. I want to BE part of the change that impacts the world. May we prepare our hearts for the new year, remembering the miracles we witnessed before and the looking expectantly ahead to the amazing things to come, as we embrace all that God calls us to do and be.

As I look toward the New Year, these are some of my plans…

January – Article by Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C, on pornography in the church published in the Christian Leader magazine (online)

January 5 – Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C, speaking at Crossroads Church in Tulock, on protecting children from pornography

April – Seminars for Parents & Teens in Fresno (Details to follow)

Father’s Day – First book published

After a year like this one and what God has taught me about Himself and about the person He is making in me, I look toward the future with anticipation, hope, and trust.

May we all remember the past with gratitude and step into the miraculous plans that God has dreamed up for us in this New Year.

Blessings,

Forest

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Moving From Passivity to Passion in the New Year

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Are you interested in massive growth this upcoming year? If so, check out my most recent article entitled “From Passivity to Passion: The Next Level of Your Recovery in the New Year“….and PLEASE SHARE!

Happy New Year!

“Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)

A Christmas Message to Myself

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I am starting my Christmas day by taking my own advice. I recently wrote about how to have a “Connected Christmas“, seeking to avoid auto-pilot and making the day meaningful. The “secret” I discovered last year was writing and leaving a powerful message to myself. This morning I read the following message to myself via my voicemail, against the backdrop of meaningful music:

Forest, thank you for calling. Remember to have self-compassion today.

Remember who you are

You are Abba’s child.

You are a faithful husband who is committed to connection.

You are a loving Father, committed to modeling faith and trust to your kids. You’ve committed to them that you will seek connection and reject addiction.

You are a husband who promised on your wedding day to pursue your wife, not lust.

You are a leader in the Anti-Porn Movement.

You are a therapist and teacher who represents other professionals and seeks to inspire others who are also fighting alongside you today.

You are not alone.

Play with all your heart today.

Today, your engagement in life and connection to God can be an inspiration to others. I know you will choose self-love today. Focus also on loving your family extravagantly, avoiding selfishness. Take care of your body today, feed it in a way that will give you energy and self-confidence. Protect your mind today and fill it with worthy thoughts. Remember your worthy goals to impact the world for good. Be strong and courageous, looking for divine moments, not slipping into passivity.

Let your vacation be fun, relaxing, and joyful but remember that you are not on vacation from your recovery. May this Christmas be a time of growth and greatness. Remember all the moments your Father has been faithful. With His love and empowerment, you got this!

May we all remain committed to our God and our goals this Christmas season. Wishing all of you a connected and meaningful Christmas!

Forest Benedict

The Unknown Path and the Known Presence

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“The God of light insists on traveling into dark places; the God of peace continuously involves Himself in the wars of men; the God who is good engages the depth of human evil. The only God who can deliver and save at the cost of His own life journeys into the dungeon of human lostness to set free those who would relinquish their chains for life in Him. To follow Jesus is to enter the unknown, to relinquish security, and to exchange certainty for confidence in Him.”

-Seizing Your Divine Moment, Erwin McManus

“Those who know the Lord trust him.” Psalm 9:10

May we all have the courage to trust the One whose path is uncertain but who is certainly with us.

Porn-Proofing Your Presents this Christmas (Great Videos and Resources)

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What do you want for Christmas? A smartphone? A video game system? An iPad?

For many, Christmas is a day to give and receive new devices. Moments enjoyed unwrapping these gifts are exciting and fun-filled. Yet, when the family scatters to play with their presents, these devices become open doorways to pornography and other online dangers. The truth is that with new technology comes new temptations.

Whether you are a parent who wants to protect their children, on the road of recovery yourself, or simply someone who wants to steer clear of explicit imagery, you will benefit from a proactive approach this Christmas. Here are 8 great resources that can help you porn-proof your presents this Christmas….

Click here for eye-opening videos and 8 great resources

Click here for a 30 day free trial of Covenant Eyes, a great resource for individuals and families!

The Making of My First Book

“There is one thing that every creative process has in common. Before a masterpiece comes into being, first it is exists in somebody’s mind. First and foremost, the artist has a dream, an intention, an inspiration. In the artist’s mind, he sees what he’s going to create before he creates it.” (Daniel Kolenda)

In gratitude and excitement, I want to announce the making of my first book! I have begun the process of transcribing this dream from my heart through my hands and I am committed to seeing this passion-driven project through.

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This book is…

An act of creativity

Inspired by love

A gift for the next generation

A dream come true

This book is just as much about what I create as it is about what God will create in me through the experience. May we all live out the creativity that our loving Creator has formed in our hearts, trusting that in the process God will create a masterpiece in us.

God also has a dream for your life and he’s calling to that potential inside of you…”

Forest Benedict

Please follow me on Facebook and this blog for further updates on the book.

Identity Amnesia

Why are we so skilled at forgetting who we are?  Day to day and moment to moment, amnesia assaults us and we wander back into our past lives of lies and lusts. That is why day to day and moment to moment, we require reassuring  reminders from our Maker. We echo the humble request, “If I’m your beloved, help me believe it“. Today, let us rest in those reminders.

Who are we?

We are chosen (1 Peter 2:9)

We are dearly loved (Ephesians 5:1)

We are light (Ephesians 5:8)

We belong  (Ephesians 2:19)

Today may we sit with our Savior, allowing Him to whisper into our worry and strengthen us in our self-doubts. May He remind us who we are and who we are becoming.

Forest Benedict

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Called into Uncertainty

A book that God has used tremendously throughout the history of my life is called Seizing Your Divine Moment by Erwin Raphael McManus. I came across some great quotes thing morning that I’d like to share with you:

“He calls us out of comfort into uncertainty. Faith is all about character, trusting in the character of God, being certain in who God is and following Him into the unknown.”

“One of the wonders of uncertainty is that it is an environment in which God invites us to be creative. The journey, which can be described as one from comfort to uncertainty, is intended to be an adventure from calling to creativity.”

“Don’t look for God to fill in all the blanks. Don’t wait for Him to remove all the uncertainty. Realize He may actually increase the uncertainty and leverage all the odds against you, just so that you will know in the end that it wasn’t your gifts but His power through your gifts that fulfilled His purpose for your life.”

“First-dimension faith is not only about trusting the character of God, but also about transforming your character. Much of first-dimension faith is about doing the right thing regardless of the circumstance or consequence. It is about having the faith that God will be with you when you do what’s right.”

 “If everything else remains uncertain, be clear on this point: there is a calling on your life.”

– Seizing Your Divine Moment, Erwin Raphael McManus

Talking to Teens about Porn – Seminar a Success! (And great video)

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Last night we had the privilege of speaking to local teenagers about pornography and how to protect themselves from it. When I spoke to the guys, I started by asking them about their plans for their lives…college, marriage, career, etc. Then I shared with them the science and research about how pornography addiction can seriously hinder those plans, due to how it harms the brain, relationships, and other areas of life.  I frame it this way because I want teenagers to see down the path of pornography and decide for themselves if its a path they want to take. I also want them to hear a positive message so they can see that this is about more than just avoiding pornography. That is why I name this talk “Healed for a Purpose”, because it is more about the life they can live free from pornography addiction; a life of freedom, choices, connection, and love. Of course, I also equip them with resources on how to get there because living free in a porn-filled world is not easy for teenagers who want to avoid it. Last night I ended our meaningful time together with the following video:

I take these talks seriously and it is my hope and belief that they are making a difference in young lives. It is my hope that all caring adults will do their part to let teenagers know that pornography use can be dangerous and that life without pornography is filled with greater possibilities.

For teenagers caught in addiction to pornography, there is hope. I have have created and lead a program for teenagers called YouthSTAR that is helping young people find freedom in a supportive, safe, accepting, fun, and confidential environment. I am grateful to provide one of many great resources for teenagers and it is my hope that those who are in need will find us. For that reason, I would be honored if you would please share this post with those in your networks.

Thank you.

-Written by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!