The Pursuit of Greatness

david-986649_1920

In this season of my life I am fueled by great pursuits. As a newly published author, I am reaching to new heights, striving to make a significant splash in the world. That is why I love the recent message by Erwin McManus called The Drive for Greatness. Addressing this topic from a spiritual perspective, McManus challenges Christians to rise above the status quo. There is nothing Christian about living a mediocre existence. Instead, we can run our race as someone striving to win the prize. Seeking this type of excellence, we can achieve our potential and purpose.

Listen to this powerful message here (Starting at 39:30):

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

Spiritual Meaning in the Music of the Night

man-phantom

Last night I enjoyed an unanticipated spiritual connection as I watched Phantom of the Opera with my wife. My heart was moved as I found deeper meaning in the beloved song “All I Ask of You”. Looking again at these lyrics, I am reminded of the reciprocal love pursued through my deepening relationship with God. I invite you to read the following lyrics, seeing this scene through spiritual eyes (names changed to help you). Maybe you too will be touched.

(God)
No more talk of darkness
Forget these wide-eyed fears
I’m here, nothing can harm you
My words will warm and calm you

Let me be your freedom
Let daylight dry your tears
I’m here, with you, beside you
To guard you and to guide you

(You)
Say you’ll love me every waking moment
Turn my head with talk of summer time
Say you need me with you now and always
Promise me that all you say is true
That’s all I ask of you

[God]
Let me be your shelter
Let me be your light
You’re safe, no one will find you
Your fears are far behind you

[You]
All I want is freedom
A world with no more night
And you, always beside me
To hold me and to hide me

[God]
Then say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime
Let me lead you from your solitude
Say you need me with you here, beside you
Anywhere you go, let me go too
_______(Your name), that’s all I ask of you

[You]
Say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime
Say the word and I will follow you

[Both]
Share each day with me, each night, each morning

[You]
Say you love me

[God]
You know I do

[Both]
Love me, that’s all I ask of you.

[Both]
Anywhere you go, let me go too
Love me, that’s all I ask of you

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING book!

The Subtle Signs of God’s Presence

cross-orange-life

Today I am posturing my heart to hear God. I do this by both listening and looking. I often take time to listen to his whispers. And I notice nuances throughout my day that direct me to Divine presence. Call it an active imagination or “childlike faith”.

I find the  subtle hints reassuring. Yesterday, one such “sign” came to me through the early morning alarm of a phone I had not used in months. Granted, my son had been playing with it the night before but how did the alarm get set for 5:40am? I remembered that a men’s group from my church was meeting at 6am. I lay in bed pondering my options then decided to follow the “sign”. I joined the men and was incredibly blessed both by what I received and what I contributed. It changed my day.

Today I choose to listen for God’s still small voice and look for his invisible hand. If I hear or see that which reminds me of his loving care or concern I will count it as an undeserved and welcome gift.

“But the monks lived in a world in which everything was a word of God to them, in which the tenderness of God was manifest in accidental signs, nocturnal communiques, and the ordinary stuff of our pedestrian lives.” The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING book!

Healed for a Purpose

looking-up hope face
Over a decade ago I checked into a treatment program hoping to heal from a serious sexual addiction. A transformed life was Plan A. Plan B was a secret plot to escape to Las Vegas and drown myself in addictive self-destruction. My contingency plan never materialized because Plan A became my life’s mission. Ironically, my recovery path led me back to Las Vegas last weekend. I was not there to indulge an addiction but to train therapists to treat those who do. This is one of many mind-blowing miracles I’ve savored in my recovery. Out of my past pain has come my present purpose. This is the hope of healing.

When we are deep in addiction and trauma, we are blind to future hope. We cannot imagine living in the light when we feel lost in the night. It takes a bold imagination to take steps forward in recovery when we can’t predict where that path leads.

I cannot tell you where your recovery path will take you but I can promise you one thing: Through your recovery you’ll connect with your purpose. Healing is about far more than just managing triggers, but about stepping into a meaningful life. When we are no longer handcuffed by our impulses, we are free to love and live fully.

Are you willing to do the deep and difficult work of recovery today, holding tightly to the belief that you will benefit tomorrow?  

Are you willing to postpone present pleasure and persevere through present pain for the promise of future satisfaction? 

If you answer “yes” then I welcome you to a courageous journey of faith. Here we begin to believe in the unseen. We imagine a different future while persistently pursuing it. When our purposeful future find us, we will truly see that we’ve sacrificed nothing and gained everything. We wrestled for our recovery and it was worth it. We were healed for a purpose.

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING Workbook!

The Song that Keeps Me Crying

heart-1137259_1280

This morning I couldn’t help but cry as I listened to Switchfoot’s new song “If the House Burns Down Tonight.” The lyrics resonated deeply with me, as I thought about the prospect of fighting for love and letting everything else burn away.

To me, this means passionately pursuing a “furious love affair” with my Abba. This means deepening my loyal love for my bride. This means daily communicating my affection to my kids. This means prioritizing the love of my family and friends. This means holding onto love while letting all of the distractions, addictions, and meaningless attempts to impress anyone or prove anything burn away.

May we all have the commitment and courage to fiercely hold onto those things we value the most, abandoning everything that competes for life’s highest virtue……love.

I invite you to invest a few minutes in listening to the following song while reading the lyrics below. Imagine the love you want to pursue and what you’re willing to give up to get it.

 

“If The House Burns Down Tonight”

Ashes from the flames
The truth is what remains
The truth is what you save
From the fire
And you fight for what you love
Don’t matter if it hurts
You find out what it’s worth
And you let the rest burnThe sunset burns like gasoline
Touch me and make sure that I’m not dreaming
I see her face and my heart skips beats
But I still get the feeling that we’re half asleep and
There’s a spark in the corner of my baby’s eye
Like a distant star that won’t burn quiet
And I might not know what I want from this life
But I know I want more than the starting line

So give me the fire

I can hear the motor running down the interstate
And all the distractions fade away
And if the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need with you by my side
I see the smoke piling up in the rear view mirror
Yeah but I ain’t ever seen it any clearer
If the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need when I got you by my side
And let the rest burn
And let the rest burn
And let the rest burn

I’ve given too much of my heart away
My soul’s holding on like a house divided
Like a match it burns down like a masquerade
And I had to let it go when the fire ignited

One heart, two hands, your life is all you hold
(your life is all you hold)
To hold, hold tight and let the bitter go
Yeah let it go, and give me the fire

The smoke tries choking the pacific sun
We rocket down the road like we’re shot out of guns
And if the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need with you by my side
Holding you and the wheel and it occurs to me
We’re driving down the edge of eternity
And if the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need when I got you by my side
And let the rest burn
And let the rest burn

Put your hand in mine and
Put your heart in driving
We got everything we need yeah
We got everything we need yeah
Left it all behind us
What we need will find us

We got everything we need yeah
We got everything we need yeah

Can you hear that motor running
Can you hear that motor running
There ain’t no stopping us now
There ain’t no slowing us down

Can you hear that motor running
Can you hear that motor run, run, run

And all those lies that mattered most to me
Were draining me dry making a ghost of me
And if the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need, everything I need
There’s a fire coming that we all will go through
You possess your possessions or they possess you
And if the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need when I got you by my side

And let the rest burn

Ashes from the flames, the truth is what remains

-Switchfoot

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING BOOK!

Reassurance in the Rain

lightning-962789_1280

This video touched me many years ago and it touched me today. When we are in life’s toughest storms, God cares and carries us. May this message remind us and reassure us today.

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING BOOK!

When You See Wounded, I See Mended

“Mended” by Matthew West

How many times can one heart break?
It was never supposed to be this way
Look in the mirror, but you find someone you never thought you’d be

Oh, but I can still recognize
The one I love in your tear stained eyes
I know you might not see him now, so lift your eyes to me

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home

When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet
When you see wounded, I see mended

You see your worst mistake
But I see the price I paid
There’s nothing you could ever do, to lose what grace has won

So hold on, it’s not the end
No, this is where love’s work begins
I’m making all things new
And I will make a miracle of you

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home

When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet
When you see wounded, I see mended

I see my child, my beloved
The new creation you’re becoming
You see the scars from when you fell
But I see the stories they will tell

You see worthless, I see priceless
You see pain, but I see a purpose
You see unworthy, undeserving
But I see you through eyes of mercy

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
You’re not too far gone
You’re one step away from home

When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet, no
When you see wounded, I see mended

Ooh, I see mended
Woah, oh I see mended
I’m not finished yet
When you see wounded, I see mended

“What My Wife is Worth” by Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

wedding handsjpg

Awhile back Jennifer Lamprey, Organizer of the Women of Value Quickening Conference, asked me to write a piece that supports women. She emphasized the importance of men supporting women, especially when it comes to issues related to pornography. She shared, “I believe more and more women need and want to hear a man supporting what they’re doing.” In her perspective, when husbands use pornography, partners lose their femininity, become afraid of being emotional and vulnerable, see people as dangerous, and lose their connection to their worth. She said, “The Quickening is about women knowing their worth”.

Being a husband who has struggled sexually, I resonate with the importance of this message. I see that my battle with lust effects my wife deeply. My personal recovery journey is an opportunity to reflect back to my wife how worthy and worthwhile she is.

All women need to know that regardless of how others have treated them, nothing can diminish their worth. They will always be worthy of love, belonging, and respect. It is not unreasonable for them to require that those who love them treat them accordingly. May the following piece provide encouragement and empowerment as all women realize and rediscover their infinite worth.

What My Wife Is Worth

My wife is a woman of infinite worth. Because of this, she deserves my best efforts.

She deserves a husband who only has eyes for her.

She deserves a husband in active recovery, not passively going with the flow.

She deserves a husband who reminds her that she is not to blame for his past or present choices.

She deserves a husband who actively opposes visual and mental lust in all forms; viewing it as the enemy of true intimacy.

She deserves a husband who is trustworthy, both when she is looking and when she’s unaware.

She deserves a husband who seeks help when needed, remaining accountable to those who call out his greatness and strength.

She deserves a husband with the courage to face his deepest fears, inadequacies, and wounds for the sake of his healing.

She deserves a husband who learns from his mistakes, creating and communicating new plans for change.

She deserves a husband who is learning how to connect and does the hard work in spite of insecurities and inadequacies in this area.

She deserves a husband who tells the truth about his behavior and is honest when his heart wants to wander.

She deserves a husband who does whatever it takes to change whatever wounds her.

She deserves a husband who takes responsibility for his life, rather than being a victim of circumstances, feelings, or personal history.

She deserves a husband who progresses in personal growth; who is becoming the man he’s  told her he wants to be.

She deserves a husband who is committed to perseverance and course correction; who gets up quickly after failures.

She deserves a husband who cares for himself so that he can offer her more presence and participation in daily life.

She deserves a husband who models faith, purity, passion, and purpose to their children.

She deserves a husband who acknowledges his imperfections yet resists using them as justifications for a small life.

She deserves a husband who fights for her heart.

She deserves a husband who pursues her emotional and physical safety.

She deserves a husband who cherishes her, pursues her, and defends her.

She deserves a husband who humbly responds to her personal boundaries and listens to the pain his choices have caused.

She deserves a husband who remains patient when forgiveness and trust do not come quickly.

She deserves a husband who desires her, cutting off opportunities to seek all counterfeit connections.

She deserves a husband who nurtures her, encourages her to use her gifts, and empowers her to come alive.

She deserves a husband who supports her needs for relationships, relaxation, rest, and rejuvination.

She deserves a husband who serves her, looking for ways to lighten her load.

She deserves a husband who is eager to invest both his time and attention.

She deserves a husband who sees her, knows her, and loves her.

She deserves a husband who reminds his wife every day that her value does not depend on her weight, her style, her sexiness or sexual availability, how she was treated as a child, or any other outside factor.

She deserves a husband who reminds her that she is beautiful and she is enough.

Her worth is innate and cannot be tarnished.

She deserves all of these things because she is a woman of infinite worth.

And so are you.

–By Forest Benedict

To download the PDF for husbands to print and display, click here: What My Wife Is Worth
To download the PDF for wives to print and display, click here What I Am Worth

*Special thanks to blogger Avalon Vic for creating these pdf documents for use

The Women of Value Quickening Conference begins on June 30th! To sign up for this empowering event with a 20% DISCOUNT click here. For additional articles and recovery resources, check of the LifeSTAR blog and Partner Resources page. If this piece touched your heart, I encourage you share it with others.

Please FOLLOW
 my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my upcoming BOOK.

How to Heal a Broken World

michelangelo-71282_1280

“Many people get angry at God for things like war or poverty or starvation and they go ‘how could there be a God in the world if those things are happening’.  I think we have to flip that over. I think God would look at us and go ‘I gave you the power to solve all these things and I’ve placed in you a creative spirit. How could you let this happen while you have that power in your hands?’ If there’s anything broken in the world, God empowered all of us to heal it.” -Hank Fortener

–Compiled by Forest Benedict

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING BOOK