Newsletter Archive Home
Blazing Grace Newsletter, April 2007
* Finding the Narrow Door
* Porn to Grace Conference in Colorado Springs, May 10
* The Blazing Grace Radio Show
* More Reading
* Poem: The Price of Cyberlove
* Prayer Request
* Final Words
Finding the Narrow Door
By Mike Genung
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
“God, please take my lust away.”
I asked this of the Lord many times during my search for freedom from sexual sin. I was willing to give it to Him, I thought, so why wouldn’t He just take it away?
Later, I hoped that considerable time in counseling and support groups would do the trick. I learned how critical it was to stay out of isolation, had several extended periods of temporary relief from sexual sin, and gained insight into my defective behaviors and thinking, but, something was still missing; the pull to lust dogged me like a mad stalker.
Although I wanted counseling, groups and God to “take it away from me,” deep down I didn’t want to permanently say goodbye to lust. It was still my “comfort,” and I was afraid there wouldn’t be anything that could replace it once I let it go.
My relationship with God was distorted too. I wanted what the Lord could do for me (i.e. to help me stop sinning so I wouldn’t feel shame or guilt anymore), but when it came to wanting God Himself, I backed off. I was terrified of getting close to Him, and had a hard time understanding how I could with the mess I’d made of my life.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
When I attended the twelve step groups, they told me I was “powerless over lust,” and indeed, this is true in the sense that I’m not strong enough to conquer my fleshly lusts. However, God’s word doesn’t tells me I’m powerless, but that I’m broken; I can’t “do the good” I want to. Brokenness goes far beyond the mere ability to overcome a habit; it speaks to the depths of the corruption of my flesh with pride, fear, lust, greed and other sin.
The word broken means “not functioning properly; out of working order.” Recently, I said something to my wife that I knew was wrong, even as the words poured out of my mouth. As hard as I try to do and say the right things at home, I still can’t “function properly” all of the time. My brokenness is a permanent condition that will plague me until death.
No wonder Paul said:
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
In spite of the fact that we’re “out of working order” when it comes to overcoming sin, we’re still called to get bloody:
You have heard that it was said, `You shall not commit adultery'; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.
You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin…
Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
The word strive means “to exert oneself vigorously; make strenuous efforts toward a goal; to contend in opposition, battle, or any conflict… to shed blood.” There is no powerless clause in God’s word that gives me an out if I blow it; in spite of the fact that I’m broken, the Lord commands me to go all out in cutting off the stumbling blocks of temptation that are under my control.
When Stan came to our group a few years back, most weeks he’d tell us he’d acted out with porn, then complain that God hadn’t taken His struggle away. He rarely made phone calls to the other group members during the week, which kept him in isolation outside of the meeting time, and he complained a lot about his situation. Finally, one night he admitted that He wasn’t willing to give up sexual fantasy; we haven’t seen him since.
Stan wasn’t willing to say goodbye to lust forever; he was still playing games with it.
Shedding blood in the battle against lust means:
1. We make the decision to divorce lust for the rest of our life.
Lust is our sworn enemy, not our friend. It offers us no love, true comfort, life or joy, and we shouldn’t play with it, entertain it, or give it an inch. The relationship with lust must be permanently severed.
For me, this means when I travel the TV stays off. When I encounter women other than my wife, I keep my eyes off their body parts, and lock onto their eyes. If there’s a movie I’d like to watch but know has sexual content, I don’t. We don’t have any incoming TV channels at home because my weakness in the past was to channel surf until the wrong image popped up. Ten years ago, when my wife was getting magazines in the mail that were a problem (like Victoria’s Secret), I asked her to cancel the subscription. I know I have to deal with temptation outside my home, but 100% of the responsibility for cutting off the stumbling blocks in my house lies with me.
2. We face the truth within.
Because I’m not merely powerless, but broken, I recognize there’s still something in me that would like to turn to lust. No matter how hard I try, I can’t change the fact that I’m permanently “out of working order.” This means I can’t let my guard down, ever, and must rely on the power of the Living God to overcome sexual temptation on a daily, moment by moment basis. I don’t trust my motives because I know they’ve been corrupted with sin.
for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh…
3. Pride must die.
If I want to live free from lust I have to shed the blood of my pride on a consistent basis by confessing my weaknesses, failures and struggles to others and God. My pride must die if I want to enter the narrow door, because there isn’t enough room for my ego and me to squeeze through. This means I have to stay connected and transparent with other men for the rest of my life. Isolation is death; as soon as I disconnect from others I’m a misfire waiting for the wrong spark.
He who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he quarrels against all sound wisdom.
Let’s turn our attention from striving to the narrow door.
Jesus is the door.
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Why do so few find the life that the Lord was talking about?
Because they’re confused.
In years past, I thought freedom from sin was the goal to strive for. If I can just get the right insight in counseling, go to enough groups, I thought, eventually I’ll hit the right button that will set me free. What I really needed was for someone to come alongside and say “Mike, you’re starved for the Living God; what you really need is for your heart to be filled up with His love, joy and peace. If you go after God Himself, He can give you all the power you need to overcome and stay away from sin, but if your focus is on trying to “be good” it’ll never happen.”
I needed to go to groups (and still do) just as I needed effective counseling, but those were the tools in the Master’s hand. I needed to put my focus on the Master, not His methods.
Deep down, I was afraid that if I divorced lust that God might not show up. Or if He did, I assumed He might reject, abandon or condemn me. How could someone I couldn’t see give me something I so desperately wanted (His love, life and peace) when I had no idea how to get it?
Getting real answers from the Church sometimes made it worse. “You have a demon… Just stop sinning… Read the Bible/pray… Read a book/work the steps/take our course/attend a conference/go to counseling.”
Many could tell me what to do, but few could tell me how I could find the narrow door, what an intimate relationship with the Living God looked like, or how to enter it from the place of shame I was stuck in.
They’ve haven’t written lust a permanent, irrevocable, certificate of divorce
I see a lot of men trying to ride the fence, just as I used to. “I looked at porn, but I’m still sober... Why can’t I masturbate if it’s not to porn, after all, it’s not in the Bible... My wife isn’t giving me enough sex, so I need to do it my way… Turn off cable!? What, are you crazy? I can’t give up watching my favorite sporting event.” It’s all a bunch of justification constipation; guys like this aren’t searching for the narrow door; they’re playing games with God and holding onto lust.
We can’t bring Jezebel, the evil goddess of sexual idolatry, with us through the narrow door.
We must choose which one we want: Christ or lust.
They don’t want to surrender control
In the back of my mind, I knew if I went for the narrow door that God would expect the controls of my life. There are too many of those demanding “Commit your way to the Lord/if you want to follow Me take up your cross/count the cost” verses to provide any illusions that I could stay on the throne.
Another reason I didn’t want to surrender was the many instances in Scripture where God helped Himself to a persons life with the result that they suffered, such as with Job, Jeremiah, Jonah, Paul, and Stephen. Getting stoned or beaten because of telling someone about Christ had a hard time competing with my comfortable, all about me way of life. In fact, He tell us in 1st Peter 4:1 to “arm ourselves with the purpose of suffering.”
I needed a lot of pain from trying to live life my way before I was finally willing to surrender to Him.
So how do we find the narrow door?
After making the choice between God and lust, and being willing to surrender our lives, we:
Go all out in seeking Him
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Seeking God with all our heart means we go after Him as hard as we’ve gone after sex, money, people and things. It means spending time with Him, alone, in silence, often. It is not “read the Bible and pray,” or having a ritualistic “quiet time,” but entering into the Presence of the Living God. It’s getting our attention off of ourselves and our laundry lists (including the request for freedom from sin) and focusing on Him. It’s opening His Word and learning to hear the Person behind the words and what He wants to say to us. It’s accepting His quiet rebukes as well as His love.
Seeking God means letting go of our distorted expectations of what we think the relationship with Him is about. We also let go of the Braille way of relating to the Lord, which means we stop trying to feel God’s love before we accept it. When we sit down with our spouse for dinner, we don’t tell them we need to “feel their love;” we just accept that they love us because of their words and deeds.
Start where you are.
Don’t make cleaning up you life a prerequisite to seeking God; Jesus met the woman caught in adultery right after she’d sinned. Don’t be afraid to let Him see you as you are; faults and all. He won’t flinch, shame you, or leave. He didn’t freak out after Peter denied Him, and He won’t with you. Get used to being real with God, and leave all the pontificating, primping, and performing behind. If you’ve sinned, confess it. If you doubt His love and Presence, then tell Him, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. If you’re angry, hurt, doubting, fearful or frustrated, express it. Then listen to what He has to say to you.
There’s a difference between reverent worship and throwing a pity party; you don’t need to grovel in His Presence. Pity parties are a flagrant attempt to keep the attention on us; stay focused on Him.
Let Him clean your sores.
It’s going to hurt, but this is a good, healing hurt, not like the pain we inflict on ourselves. As you expose your heart to the Lord, He’ll shine His light on the lies you’ve bought into about yourself, Him and others, sins you’ve committed, and, probably, some pride and self–sufficiency. Some wounds will need to be scraped out and cleaned before they can heal. You may need to ask someone for forgiveness, or forgive. As He exposes the lies you’ve bought into about yourself (i.e. I can’t be loved as I am) and Him (God doesn’t love me), you’ll realize you’ve hurt Him by turning down His love. Simply confess it, and let Him coat your wound with a balm of His grace. Accept the cleansing of His blood, and move on.
Keep seeking until you find Him.
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Some try getting close to God once, “experience nothing,” then give up. You never would have found a job or got married if you gave up that quick. Seeking God with all of our heart means we don’t stop until we find Him; we’re determined to find the Narrow Door and we refuse to stop until we’ve broke through.
What’s on the other side?
A Love that energizes and overflows the deepest core of the heart. A joy that once seemed impossible that surfaces even in the midst of the heaviest storms. The death of shame and condemnation. Abundant Life.
As our true First Love is restored, the pale yellow light of this world loses its seductive power, and we want more of Him. Life becomes a roaring adventure. When a man or woman is living in the love of God, they become willing to suffer for the One Who gave such grace to them, and they want others to have the same life they have.
There’s no better way to live.
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
From Porn to Grace Conference in Colorado Springs, May 10
We are holding a conference called From Porn to Grace for men, their wives, and ministry leaders who would like to minister to the sexually broken on Thursday night, May 10 in Colorado Springs. There is no cost to attend, but we ask that you register so can anticipate the number of persons coming. Childcare will be provided up to age 12.
Topic covered will include:
* How the sexually broken can break free from the bondage of sexual addiction through the power of God's grace.
* How wives can heal from the pain of their husband's betrayal.
* The Biblical imperative for the church to deal with sexual sin, and how your congregation can effectively minister to the sexually broken.
The Blazing Grace Radio Show…
…Is Jayson Graves of Healing for the Soul and Mike Genung taking on the porn epidemic. Jayson is a Christian therapist who specializes in helping those who struggle with sexual addiction.
Here’s our April lineup:
April 7: Interview with Tammy Maltby, co-host of Aspiring Women
April 14: Interview with Julie Dozier of Wings of Grace
April 21: Interview with Julie Dozier of Wings of Grace
April 28: TBD
You can download mp3s 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.”
Recovery from Homosexuality, by Jayson Graves
The Destructive Force of Adultery
On dealing with porn/sex addiction in the church:
How Many Porn Addicts are in Your Church?
How Your Church Can Take on the Porn Epidemic
Getting to the Roots of the Porn Epidemic
How Your Church Can Help Those Who Struggle with Porn or Sex Addiction
On getting help for porn/sex addiction:
It’s Just a Little Porn; I’m no Sex Addict
Sexual Sobriety isn’t Enough
Winning the War in the Mind
Poem: The Price of Cyberlove
The following is a poem that was posted on our forums this past month.
The Price of Cyberlove
He eagerly types away
hands flying across the keyboard
as if he were typing the world's greatest novel
instead of perversion to his cyber girlfriends
Wild eyes glued to the screen,
an excitement his wife and kids cannot give
he looks at the crude pictures that he longs for
making sure that his screen stays well hidden
so his wife will not see what he is doing,
and he can carry on his deceitful way
Reality has blended
with the surrealistic world of Cyberspace
The man who once loved his wife and kids
now ignores everything, spends his time
planning and scheming to continue his online trend,
over and over loving his cyber girlfriends again
they are the most precious in his eyes
He ignores everything
His wife, his kids, his family
To him, Computer Land is real and the most important,
not just a fantasy
and so is his cyber girlfriends, they bring him the joy his wife and kids can’t
and their little cyber world is all that matters, not the living in reality
Hello, is there life out there
Is anyone listening
The world seems to be draped
in the deathly chill of silence
Like a high tech shroud
No sound is heard
except for the clicks of the computer mouse
as he looks for deplorable images all around
Forgetting about his family, he ignores their crying sounds
The roof is leaking
Water drips onto the floor
and splashes from their eyes
the young eyes that see their father
looking at a picture they do not understand
Of a woman objectified who is not his wife
For the wife stares into space now
Her husband she thought she knew is gone, he was never really known
but yet there
always on the computer, typing right along
And nothing matters to him anymore
Maybe if by some horrible fate
the computer would break down
and he would be in the real world once again
Would he realize what he has done
or would he make excuses just like he’s done before
Would he be too blind to notice
the tears around him on the floor
cried by his children
for their mother who died
from taking one to many sleeping pills
because she could not take it anymore, her heart broke from all the lies
Is his mind too far gone, to see the loss
To see the high price it will cost
to see the nightmare he has created
to see his family that he has destroyed
All for a "fun" time on the computer.....
Choosing cyber space over his family that he claimed to adore
A life he will have no more
Between now and May 10, please pray that God would draw the sexually hurting and their spouses to the From Porn to Grace conference, and that He would powerfully minister to those who come. There is an intense spiritual and emotional battle of fear and shame that takes place in those who need to break free from sexual sin, and prayer is a must in this battle.
Please pray that those of us who will be serving will be anointed with the Holy Spirit, and that God would thwart all attempts to get the word out.
The moral law, ordained by God, does not make itself weak to the weak by excusing our shortcomings. It remains absolute for all time and eternity. If we are not aware of this, it is because we are less than alive. Once we do realize this, our life immediately becomes a fatal tragedy.”
Oswald Chambers: My Utmost for His Highest.
Blazing Grace is a 501c3 non-profit corporation whose purpose is to minister to the sexually broken and equip the church to effectively deal with the porn epidemic.
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I enjoy reading your feedback.
May God’s grace abound to you.
All material copyright 2007 Mike Genung