Newsletter Archive Home
Blazing Grace Newsletter, August 2006
* What’s Missing?
* The Blazing Grace Radio Show
* Are 50% of Christian Men Really Struggling with Porn?
* Overheard in the Forums
* Prayer Requests
* Final Words
By Mike Genung
The great hunger is on me more than ever for Him and His work. O how few love Him and how feeble is my most passionate love. I scarcely know anyone who is consumed for Him. It is all for creeds and phrases and belief, but for Him, how few! To know Him—that is it. How I fear and hate the pattern and print of the age. Oswald Chambers, from an entry in his personal journal on August 20, 1908.
I recently finished reading Amazing Faith; The Authorized Biography of Bill Bright, and am now about halfway through reading Oswald Chambers, Abandoned to God; The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost for His Highest for the second time. Bright and Chambers’ stories have a convicting effect; they were about Jesus first, Jesus second and Jesus last; nothing was left on the table when it came to their walk with God. They completely surrendered their lives to God, and were blessed to be used by Him in incredible ways; both men have had an effect on millions.
Here are a few quotes:
From Abandoned to God:
It is more and more impossible to me to have programs and plans because God alone has the plan, and our plans are only apt to hinder Him, and make it necessary for Him to break them up.
Go with Him all the way. The end and aim and meaning of all sanctification is personal, passionate devotion to Jesus Christ. Keep bold and clear and out in the bracing facts of His revelation (the Bible). Never compromise with those who water down the word of God…
I believe that Jesus Christ our Lord has all power in heaven and on earth; do you? I find most people believe that He has all power in heaven, but are not sure about earth.
I see churches and schemes and missionary enterprises and holiness movements all tagged with His name but how little of Himself! I wish every breath I drew, all speech I made could make Him come and seem more real to men.
From Amazing Faith:
Bill knew that in his own inner core, in that place Blaise Pascal referred to as “a God–shaped vacuum in the heart of every man,” he had been and still was overwhelmed by God’s love. In the quiet place where peace either is or isn’t, Bill had experienced the revolutionizing effects of the love of God. It had turned him from a money–hungry, status–conscious, Hollywood–enthralled “happy pagan” into a God–conscious, Christ–centered, self–giving, world–burdened missionary evangelist.
In time, Bill became increasingly persuaded that God would not have given him the vision for what became Campus Crusade for Christ “had I not first surrendered my life totally, completely and irrevocably to the lordship of Christ. I was no longer my own; I had been bought with a price—the blood of my beloved Savior.
Many years of good Bible and theological training in the best Bible schools and seminaries do not ensure victorious and fruitful lives for Christ; whereas emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit and sharing one’s faith will.
As I read through Abandoned to God and Amazing Faith, I thought about our church of today. Christianity seems to be spreading like wildfire; there are some 300,000 churches in the U.S.. We have seminars, books and videos available on every topic you could want to learn about. According to Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, total retail sales of religious products—including books, music, gifts, and cards—now total some $7 billion a year. 90% of American say they believe in God. You’d think we were a Christian nation.
But then comes the disconnect. Today, 28% of Americans polled believe the Bible is literally true, down from 38% in 1976, says an article in the June 12, 2006 edition of Time. 19% of us say the Bible is an “ancient book of fables.” The divorce rate in the church is the same inside of it as it is out.
And at least 50% of Christian men are indulging in porn, as are many women.
The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness.
When I compare the power of God I saw displayed in the lives of Bright and Chambers to the church today, it seems to me that something is missing. Much of our Christian culture seems to be about having a polished speaker teach on a certain topic, while the rest of us sit passively and listen. Then we go home. We do a fine job of communicating truths or principles—knowledge, but there’s more to our walk with God than mere learning.
Sundays at church, I occasionally find myself thinking “there must be more to this”; it’s rare that I’m convicted at a deep level. Is it just me? Conversely, when I read through the autobiographies of Bright and Chambers, I was challenged to go after God with everything I had. I wanted to die to myself more than ever before; to be absorbed into God so completely that no trace of me was left so I could be used as powerfully as they were. The desire to plunge deeper into His word was sparked into a flame; I couldn’t get enough of Him.
Is there something that’s missing from our church of today?
The first thing that struck me about these men was their all-out surrender to God. Material possessions held no interest to them; neither Bright nor Chambers ever owned a home. They weren’t concerned with building up a big nest egg for retirement; both had a faith so unshakable that they knew the Lord would provide for them no matter what circumstance they found themselves in. They held back nothing, and eagerly gave up everything. So did their wives. Vonette, Bill Bright’s wife, sacrificed herself as fully as he did, staying home to raise their two sons while the Lord sent Bill out to many countries around the world. Before they were married, Oswald told his wife Biddy that he had “nothing to offer her; no house, money or stability, only service to the Lord.” Later, after Chambers died at the age 43, Biddy spent years transcribing his teachings and notes into the books we now breathe life from today; it was Biddy who compiled her husband’s sermons into the book we now know as My Utmost for His Highest.
Henrietta Mears was one of the greatest influences on Bill Bright’s life, as was she on Billy Graham’s. Years before she met the young Bill Bright of the 1950’s, Mears had utterly surrendered her life to the Lord, and she challenged many others to do the same. Mears wrote:
Receiving Christ… is simply a matter of turning your life—your will, your emotions, your intellect—completely over to Him.
I will distill a divine discontent into the mind of everyone who can do more than he is doing, not by telling him of the pettiness of his life, but by giving him a vision of great things to be done enthusiastically, passionately.
I will keep the cross of Christ central in the Christian life. It is great to be where the fight is strong, to be where the heaviest troops belong and to fight there for God and man.
I will spend and be spent in the battle. I will not seek rest and ease.
Under a mentor like this, it’s not hard to see why Bill Bright so eagerly surrendered himself completely to the Lord.
Perhaps some of our ministry today is a powerless flash in the pan because we’re not challenging our brothers and sisters to utterly surrender their lives to the Lord; we’re not challenging others to abandon themselves to God because we haven’t done the same ourselves.
We all have just one brief shot at this life, and then it’s on to our eternal destiny. Why not jump into the roaring rapids of an adventure of faith and let God take the helm? There’s nothing like the joy that comes from living in His Presence, and seeing Him minister to others through us.
It’s not that we “wield the power of God,” but that we allow Him to have complete control over us, and then use us as He pleases. Life is no longer safe because we’re no longer in control, but that’s what makes the ride so exhilarating. As Mears wrote, “It is great to be where the fight is strong, to be where the heaviest troops belong and to fight there for God and man.“
Oswald Chambers ceased relying on man–made programs and plans because he learned the glorious blessing that came from following God and letting Him work His plan through Chambers. In trusting completely on the Lord, he saw God’s power flow through him mightily to others in a way that we seldom see today.
Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
The second thing that’s missing from the church of today is a call to repentance.
Late in the 1990’s, Bright invited all the big name Christian leaders in America to a meeting of three days of fasting and prayer. On the first day, he started with a call to repentance. Without preaching, he offered a list of sins for them to consider: loss of their first love for Jesus, pride, materialism, moral impurity, vanity, corner–cutting, racism, family neglect, a critical attitude towards others within Christianity, and failure to pray for leaders in government. In an amazing move of the Holy Spirit, these men came forward, broken, confessing a number of every kind of sin. There was “wave upon wave of confession” during the three days they were together, with the result that there was a strong sense God was there, “hugging everyone in the room.”
What Bright did that day wasn’t original to him, but straight from God’s word:
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
And He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them." They went out and preached that men should repent. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.
Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…
Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.
In today’s culture of tolerance, we’ve become too concerned that we’ll rock the boat or offend someone if we speak up and do something out of the norm. Church is not about listening to teaching; we are the church, and we’re called to follow God and do what He commands us to. A church where 50% of the men are masturbating to porn is corrupt and in desperate need for a call to repentance. No wonder the light of God has grown dim in so many of our churches today; we’ve allowed our culture of tolerance and the temporary prosperity of our economy, which is headed towards bankruptcy, to lull us into a state of complacency.
So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.
Picture walking into church one Sunday morning and hearing your pastor say: “We have some serious family issues to deal with,” he says. “We’re not right before the living God, and today I’m calling all of us to repentance before the Lord, starting with me.” To your shock, your pastor confesses the sins he’s struggled with, and then invites everyone in the congregation to do the same. “The time to play games is up,” he says. “I want us to be blameless and holy before the Lord, no matter what it takes. I know many of you are struggling with sins of various types, and it’s time to get right before Him. Let’s break up into groups of four or five, and do just that. This morning, we’re going to do what God’s word says in James 5:16, not just talk about it. I want you to be honest with each other where you are, and then pray for each other.”
Some will start to squirm, a few might walk out, but most would stay. The Holy Spirit would finally be given free reign to minister to His people. Men and women would be crying; walls would be torn down… and you might even get a visit by the Presence of God.
Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.
There’s one key element to the repentance process that can’t be left out; we shouldn’t just charge into our church services and start calling on people to repent. Repentance comes by the power of the Holy Spirit through the prayers of God’s people. It was on the 29th day of a 40 day fast when Bill Bright sensed God’s prompting to call the leaders of America’s church to repentance.
But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…
If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:13-14
At the seminary where Chambers was educated, the dean would often call for a day of prayer and fasting, with the following results:
The great result that day, and during many others at Dunoon, was a spiritual breakthrough in the lives of students who came to the principal or to Chambers to confess deliberately hidden sin and set things right.
If we’re serious about seeing repentance in our churches, we need to hit our knees. Many barriers, misconceptions and strongholds will have to be broken down, which require God’s power. Some will be threatened with the idea of doing something so completely out of the norm of “go to church, listen and go home.”
“After all, we don’t, ahem, want to look like a bunch of religious fanatics,” they might say. “Besides, this isn’t the way we’ve done things before.”
Again, any church where at least half the men and many women are indulging in sexual sin is a corrupt church, in desperate need for repentance. We should pray for a massive move of the Holy Spirit to convict His people of sin all over the world; that He would raise up and send men and women with His message of repentance, forgiveness and grace. Pray that men and women would be broken and set on fire with love for the Living God, willing to surrender all.
Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you.
Let’s resolve to persistently seek Him together until He floods His people the world over with a deluge of righteousness. What’s missing today doesn’t have to be tomorrow, if we’ll abandon our lives over to Him.
1. Amazing Faith, The Authorized Biography of Bill Bright, by Michael Richardson. Waterbook Press, 2000.
2. Oswald Chambers, Abandoned to God; The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost for His Highest, by David McCasland. Discovery House Publishers, 1993.
The Blazing Grace Radio Show
Those of you who live in the greater Los Angeles area can now listen to the Blazing Grace radio show Saturday nights at 8:00pm on 99.5FM, KKLA.
Here’s our lineup for August:
August 5 – The Biblical Imperative for the Church to Confront Sexual Sin.
August 12 – Why We’re Doing a Show on Sex Addction (rerun).
August 19 – Interview with Eva Marie and Jessica Everson, authors of Sex, Lies and Media, Part 1.
August 26 – Interview with Eva Marie and Jessica Everson, authors of Sex, Lies and Media, Part 2.
The show is broadcast in Colorado Springs on KGFT 100.7FM, Saturdays at 11:00am. You can download mp3’s of the broadcasts without cost at the radio page, or listen to them in streaming audio at Oneplace.com.
The broadcasts are available as a podcast through Itunes. If you have the Itunes software, the shows are listed under “Religion and Spirituality/Christianity.”
We’re interested in broadcasting the show in Australia, the UK, Canada, Ireland or Scotland. If any of you from these countries have suggestions on a station to contact, please email me.
Are 50% of Christian Men Really Struggling with Porn?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes—along with many women. I had a hard time believing the numbers were that high myself; two years ago, I asked the leadership of the church we attended at the time if we could survey the men on porn; 61% had viewed it within the past year, 44% within the past six months, and 25% within 30 days. The real numbers are probably higher, as less than half of the men of our congregation of 500 filled out the survey. One guy told me his friends didn’t fill out the survey “because they were afraid of how the information would be used.”
ChristiaNet just released the results of a survey it took on August 7, 2006:
"The poll results indicate that 50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography," said Clay Jones, founder and President of Second Glance Ministries whose ministry objectives include providing people with information which will enable them to fully understand the impact of today's societal issues. 60% of the women who answered the survey admitted to having significant struggles with lust; 40% admitted to being involved in sexual sin in the past year; and 20% of the church-going female participants struggle with looking at pornography on an ongoing basis.”
The results of a number of different surveys on porn use among Christians at every level of the church are available at the Porn Statistics page.
“Half” is no joke; this is what our church of today looks like under the hood.
The question is, do we have the guts to do something about it?
Overheard in the Forums
“The sun is shining today and one of my favorite things is driving through the city on a beautiful day. Music is such an escape and here I am, a woman with children I adore. I am healthy and I have a good life. I have a partner who has been in recovery for 2 years and seems to be committed to his recovery and adore me, so why are tears streaming down my face as I listen to a love song?? No matter how wonderful everything is, I still grieve the loss of who I though he was, who I so desperately wanted him to be... the man I was so sure I had. Yes I chose to stay with him because I love him, but will this ache ever really go away??”
“I have been fighting this battle for a few years. I am married. I do not masturbate. I do not look at any immodestly dressed women on line—much less porn, I avoid any source of temptation like TV, magazines (exercise and fashion), catalogues (they all get handed to my wife or go straight to the trash). My problem is when I encounter young women in real life in revealing clothes, which in the warm climate I live in is often, especially when I go to the gym to exercise.
I know it is wrong and I pray, and most days I resist the temptation to lust. But I am really attracted to girls in their teens and twenties who have great, slim figures. Yesterday I just gave in and let myself lust over three different girls at the Y. All were wearing bathing suits or super short shorts and tight t-shirts. AHHHH!! I really want to stop this! As I write this I think maybe I am being too hard on myself because I have had a lot of success. But I want to hear that I can get to the point where I don't lust over girls ever again. I mean I have stopped masturbating and looking at girls in porn and Sports Illustrated swim suit issues and R movies and girls in bikinis in my wife's clothing catalogues, so why can't I have more success bouncing my eyes from girls I see in real life??”
“It’s 1:00 in the morning and I can't sleep; logged on to see what everyone has to say and here I am. Quick recap - got married almost 3 years ago. The day we got married, everything changed. No sex, no cuddling, not much of anything and I couldn't figure out why. 9 months in I found his "stash" and it about destroyed me. He apologized and said it was over. I caught him again. Repeat that for the next year and a half. Funny, before we married, we would talk for hours - about important stuff, things that MEANT something. And it's just gotten less and less. I actually left in February - last year he got nothing for me for Valentine's (he "forgot"); this year he gave me a $5.99 trinket. Add that to a total lack of involvement in our relationship and home and I decided I needed to get out. Was away for a couple weeks and was waiting to hear about an apartment so I decided to try to talk to him and see what he wanted to do. He wanted me to come back; said all the things I had been hoping to hear, promised me he would show me it wasn't "all about him." So I moved back in and started cleaning out the garage one day (to surprise him) – and found his new collection, hidden here, there, and everywhere. Same old story except he's never apologized since that first time I found the stuff.
I've tried so hard to hang on and hang in there, but he won't go to counseling, won't even talk to me about anything to do with our relationship. I pour my heart out and he says, "What do you want me to say?" I want to scream at him - "Tell me what you FEEL!!" But he won't. And then he says, "Oh, now you're going to start crying." No, I may cry over him, but I won't let him see it ever again. I wish I could find a way to make him care that he's ripping my heart out. I know he's still messing around with that stuff - he couldn't make it more than a month without it and I'm supposed to believe that he just gave it up when I moved back?”
“No matter what I do, no matter what I tell myself I can't stop looking at porn. I put everything at risk by doing this and still somehow I convince myself that it is ok, that I'll just look at it for a couple of minutes, that there's nothing wrong, that I can control it. Then afterwards I feel powerless and depressed. I am addicted to this...
I feel like I need somebody to talk to, since I don't feel there's anyone in my life who I can really go to with this. I would hurt beyond words if the people closest to me knew about this. I've seen the advice and support that is offered by all of you on this forum and I am glad I've found it. I've seen myself in many of the posts and have been given hope by many of you who are way into recovery and show us there is a way out.”
If you’re looking for support and encouragement from others who can relate to what you’re going through, stop by our forums.
New Prayer Requests:
The following are a few of the prayer requests received this past month. When you have a moment, I encourage you to pray for a few of those who are there. These are real people with real marriages and families on the line.
Please pray for my husband. He has been addicted to pornography for many years. It recently has put so much stress on our marriage and sex life that I'm afraid we may end up divorced. I have been saved and am closer to Christ than ever before, but my husband doesn't even come to church anymore. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will enter him and cast out all of his demons that cause him to continuously view the pornography. Thank you for your prayers and may God bless you all.
I am David Lee and I am asking for prayer in my struggle against porn addiction. I am currently in a 12 step program, but the emptiness I feel and the mental battles going on in my head. I am losing, not really seeking complete recovery. I truly want complete recovery. I want to know God's love and victory.
I am struggling with a painful situation and don't know where to turn. I have been with a wonderful man for almost 3 years and we have a 22 month old daughter. Last month I caught him masturbating to porn in our bedroom when he thought I was downstairs. He blew up at me and confessed he had been doing it all along, even masturbating without porn. I never neglected him sexually, except he kept refusing me for a long time. I explained from day one that I do not believe in porn and masturbating and I will not be with someone who does. So why does he do it? He said it was easier than having to with me. I no longer feel confident, I lost my self esteem and I can't function. I am slipping into depression and have stopped caring about almost everything. He even said I no longer smile. He swore he would stop and I felt I should give him the chance to do so. I continued having doubtful feelings and discovered last evening that he has been literally lying to my face. I checked on his computer and have the exact dates and times and there were many for hours at a time. He never stopped, it happened a few days after I caught him. I didn't tell him yesterday, I kind of talked to him about our relationship, honesty and how much I need the truth because I keep having these feelings that he's doing something again. I have decided to tell him my truth tonight about checking his computer in hopes this won't backfire on me. I told him if I ever caught him again, I would leave, well now I have and I don't know what to do. I love him with my whole very existence and I really don't want to be without him. I started packing because if it doesn't go well tonight, then I am leaving tomorrow. I feel he has an addiction and if he would just be honest with me, then I would consider standing by his side as long as he pursued help. I pray I am doing the right thing. I pray to God so much for help.
I had an affair and moved out, asking my husband for a separation. He promptly divorced me. It has been ten years and I still ache and feel so horribly remorseful and sad. Is there any hope? I'm afraid to hope he will ever come back to me. We have 3 beautiful children. I am so broken and would be so very grateful for your prayers. Thank you.
I am a woman, addicted to porn, and have been having an internet affair for almost a year now. It all started up with an innocent email from an old classmate who said he just wanted to know where I was and what was going on in my life after all these years. It escalated to flirting and then to what would probably be described as phone sex as he has access to a toll free phone at his work place. There has been no actual interaction because of the distance between us. However, I fear that if the situation would present itself that I would succumb to the temptation. In order to have this relationship over the phone there is obviously masturbation involved. I have hardened my heart to the Lord and feel like a filthy, hopeless person, totally unworthy of God's attention. I go to church and go through all the rituals of worship and feel detached from my own body. I have been married for 35 years, have never been intimate with anyone else but my husband, and have never even entertained any of this type of thoughts or behavior before. I am now struggling with getting out of the relationship and getting away from the pornography. Until recently I didn't even know there were other women who had pornography addiction and through sites like yours I have now come to understand that even women have this traditionally male problem. Please pray for me to have strength to end this and for him not to try to cause problems for me in my marriage to keep me in the relationship. I should mention that he also has been married for 35 years and does not want to jeopardize that relationship either. He is not a believer. Thank you. I have confided in someone close to me to try to have accountability and I really appreciate sites like yours as sending this to you makes me feel stronger.
The power behind this ministry is the prayer of God’s people. We have a prayer team of ladies who pray together Tuesday mornings by phone conference call. Please email me if you’d like to join them.
Am I prepared to lose my soul, lose the miserable self–introspection as to whether I am of any use (to God)? I am never of any use so long as I try to be…
New Testament Christianity produces a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ and a man’s notions are not centered on himself. The great aim of the Holy Spirit is to get us abandoned to God.
Oswald Chambers, from He Shall Glorify Me.
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May God’s grace abound to you.
All material copyright 2006 Mike Genung