Newsletter Archive Home
Blazing Grace Newsletter, January 2006
* Confronting Jezebel
* Spiritual Warfare
* The Blazing Grace Radio Show
* The Topic No One Wants to Talk About
* Prayer Requests
* Oswald’s words
by Mike Genung
This past month I received the following email:
“Back in August I was in contact with you when my husband Roger confessed his sex addiction to me. I told him I would support him in getting help but he refused, saying he had self control and didn’t want or need any help. I told him it was the only way our marriage could survive since we have separated numerous times because of his addiction. I have now filed for divorce and am planning to start a support group for women who’ve been affected by this sin. I am connected with Shelley Lubben and Marsha Means and they are helping me get focused on how to go about this. I am ready to be more vocal and speak out against this thing that is tearing families apart. My first real knowledge of the seriousness of the problem came through your newsletter. Please make my support group an item of prayer for your prayer request section.“
And recently, another lady posted the following on our forums:
“I am new here; I did not know where to turn. I have been married for 4 years. When we first met, my husband’s ex wife said he had a porn problem and that it destroyed their marriage. I asked him about it and he said she was crazy; I believed him. Well, about 6 months ago I had to go to the building out back where he keeps his bike to get some canning jars. I opened a cabinet to get some lids and there was a ton of porn magazines; I’m not just talking Playboy or a few naked girls here. The hard part was his 15 year old daughter was standing there when I found them and she started to cry.”
Our forums and the prayer request page are packed with posts from men and women whose marriages are teetering on the brink of divorce. I receive emails like Robin’s often, sometimes multiple times a day. Watching family after family go down tears me up; my parents divorced and I know the pain and devastation it causes. Some days I get boiling mad, because I know a lot of this could be avoided if the church wasn’t tolerating Jezebel.
In Revelations 2, Jesus spoke to a church that did a lot of good works, yet ignored sexual sin:
“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: "These things says the Son of God, who has the eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: "I know your works, love, service, faith and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works."”
Our culture rams sexual sin down our throat. Walk in your local mall and you’ll be confronted with life-sized posters of women in their underwear. Go to the grocery store, and you’re exposed to soft porn at the cash register. Sex is in every kind of media: billboards, TV, movies, news programs, and the internet; it comes in the mail, and it’s available at our places of work. Women and men dress to seduce. Our culture promotes “safe sex” (intercourse with anyone but your spouse) as a way of life. You can’t go anywhere without SEX! in your face.
The Jezebel of today isn’t one prophetess; she is the witch of our culture. While the church conducts its “works, love, service, faith and patience,” the witch flails it with a whip that’s studded with glass and nails. Chunks of blood and flesh in the form of divorce and ruptured families fly everywhere, yet the church smiles and carries on as if nothing was happening. The witch is forced to take an occasional break from whipping the church, not because she’s tired but because she’s laughing so hard.
We are tolerating Jezebel.
Pastors tolerate the witch when they are silent about sexual sin. This plays into Jezebel’s hands, because when the shepherds are silent she has an easy time convincing the sheep “you’re the only one struggling with sexual sin; you dare not tell anyone else.” On a recent poll in our forums, 69% said they couldn’t remember a pastor discussing the issue, ever, and in a 2005 Christianity Today survey, 44% of laypersons said they wanted to hear more from their pastors on sexual sin. Our people are crying out for answers and help.
Men and women who struggle with porn and sex addiction tolerate Jezebel when they stay hidden in the shadows. Hiding perpetuates the “no one else struggles with this” lie and encourages others to stay silent, trapped in sin.
Those who are married to the sexually addicted tolerate Jezebel in the same way. Silence and shame perpetuate more silence and shame.
At a 2003 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, two thirds of the 350 divorce lawyers who attended said Internet porn contributed to more than half of the divorce cases they handled. They also said that “pornography had an almost non-existent role in divorce just seven or eight years ago.”
The pornification of our nation is just beginning. Within the next 2 years, porn will be available through video cell phones; it’s coming soon to iPods and PDA’s. The technology for wireless video technology is already in place, and cell phone companies are building the infrastructure for it now. Picture your kids on a video phone and getting hit with an advertisement for porn. The witch is making a longer whip so she can stud it with more nails and pieces of glass. If we don’t confront her head on, the flow of destroyed families will gush even faster than it is now.
In his book “Is That Really You, God?”, Loren Cunningham, the founder of Youth with a Mission tells the story of when they bought the first mercy ship. A businessman had donated more than $72,000.00 for the deposit and all the circumstances were lining up, yet something wasn’t right. Sensing this, Cunningham writes: “I quieted my mind, centering on Jesus, yielding to Him and worshipping Him, ready to listen to anything His Spirit wanted to say. Suddenly I was looking at a mental picture: I saw myself standing before a crowd of YWAM leaders. I announced with exuberance, “We’ve got the ship! God has given us the money for the Maori! The crowd cheered wildly, waving arms and shouting. Then I saw a figure standing in the shadows to my left, unnoticed by any of us. I looked closer at His face and saw that He was grieving. Then it hit me – it was Jesus! We were ignoring Him! We were cheering a ship and forgetting Jesus!”
Loren continues telling what happened when he shared the vision with others at YWAM: “A painful awareness of God’s awesome holiness coursed through the room. We began to sense our shortcomings. The big one was pride. To our horror we saw that we’d begun to think that Youth With a Mission was God’s “favorite tool”; we were “the most spiritual mission; we had learned “more about faith” than others; we had “a corner on releases.” We saw our hearts, and it was disgusting. For the first time, I glimpsed something of what it will be like to stand before God on Judgment Day.”
Convicted of their pride, the YWAMers knew they had to let the ship go, even though they were so close to getting it. It wasn’t easy; one of Cunningham’s associates said: “The hard part is that if we let the ship die, something will die right along with it… our reputation.” They had publicized the purchase of the ship in the secular and Christian news media, so many would know of their pride once the story went public.
If the church is to confront Jezebel, we must be willing to crucify our reputations, personally and corporately. We’ve pretended to be “good Christians” to the outside world, when the truth is we’re just as messed up as they are. Like the church of Thyatira, we’ve done plenty of good works, but we’ve failed to confront Jezebel and many are suffering because of it.
Grace without truth is a marshmallow; truth without grace is a harsh slap in the face. We boldly speak all of the truth in love so people can realize their brokenness and come to Jesus to receive His life, love and peace.
When I look at the New Testament church, I see men and women of courage who made Christ first no matter what the cost. Stephen told the Pharisees all of the truth, even though he knew it could (and did) get him killed. Paul was willing to take beatings, imprisonment and death for Christ. Peter and others were jailed; some were martyred. John was exiled. Don’t forget the women; after all the disciples but John had chickened out and fled, “Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less, Joses, and Salome” (Mark 15:40) stayed with Jesus during his brutal execution on the cross.
The witch won’t back off, so we’ve going to have to face her and fight. Confronting Jezebel will take the same no-compromise commitment to Christ that the early church modeled for us.
If I’m a pastor and I know that half the men in my congregation are committing adultery with porn and endangering their families, I’m going all out. Sunday sermons aren’t enough, because those who struggle with sex addiction are hiding in shame. Perhaps one Sunday I tell all the men to come for the first service, and all women to the second. No women or children are getting into the first service, and no men or children are getting into the second. Then, we’re getting down to business. I’m getting brutally honest with my own weaknesses with sexual sin to set the tone. Guys are told to break up into groups and ask each other how they’re doing with porn and lust and pray for each other. In the second service, women are asked to do the same with their hurts and struggles.
Would doing something like this freak some people out? Sure it would. The “we’ve not done it this way before/church is about the Sunday Sermon” status quo types will get nervous. But there are too many families that will be destroyed if we stick to “the way we’ve done it before.” When Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for doing nothing about the guy who was having sex with his father’s wife, (1 Corinthians 5) he told them to take action (“clean out the old leaven”), not talk (or preach) about it.
I should say here that “the man who had his father’s wife” originally had no desire of walking away from sexual sin, and this is what got him kicked out of the church. Those who are hurting and want help should find grace waiting for them:
“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. “
Even though the large majority of pastors won’t take bold action, we shouldn’t judge them. They don’t walk on water, and they’re broken just like those of us who are blessed by their teaching week after week. (Plus, many have their own problem with porn.) I’m responsible to God for my actions; my role is to do what I can, and then leave the results up to Him. Judging is an attempt to place the self on God’s throne; my life is much freer when I leave the outcome up to Him.
The Lord rebuked the church of Thyatira, not pastors alone. This means all of us are responsible for confronting the witch.
Recently, one young man posted the following on our forums:
“I've been struggling with masturbation for about 10 months now, and have hated every minute of it. As everyone can testify to, the several seconds of pleasure don’t compare to the hours and days of pain I go through knowing I’m hurting God and myself. Last year I attended a Christian camp with my two best friends, and on the second last night, the male counselors took all the Senior High guys on a trek through the woods. After the trek was over, my two buddies and I went for a walk. We started talking about how each of us struggle with lust and porn, and one of my friends piped up, hesitantly, "is it just porn you guys struggle with, or do you masturbate too?" Instantly he and I formed a new bond. I had finally found the guy I could open up to who could hold me accountable.”
Confronting Jezebel starts with courage like this. When one man or woman confesses their struggle with lust to another, (or their hurt and anger, if they’re the spouse) they encourage others to do the same. One of the employees at the station where we tape the radio show told me that hearing our honesty about the sexual sin in our own lives encouraged him to deal with the same in his life. Transparency is contagious.
This is why Jezebel fights so hard to keep sexual sin unspoken and untouched in the church – she knows God can use an army of men and women who’ve been set free from sin and are passionate for Christ to change the world.
Our wives must do the same. Linda, the lady who wrote one wife’s story told me that when her church of 500+ invited the women whose husbands struggled with sex addiction to meet that she was the only one who showed up. Ladies, Satan wants to keep you in hiding, because if you keep that volcano of rage and pain to yourself then your marriage will never heal, even if your husband breaks free.
We all need to work together; sit down with your pastor and tell him the statistics of the porn epidemic, and your own struggle with it. (Our your hurt from your husband’s emotional adultery, if you’re a spouse.) Present the need to do something about it and start a group. Your pastor isn’t an expert on every moral issue that’s out there, so help him out.
However, your job isn’t over if your pastor isn’t responsive; it’s just beginning.
In 2004, I helped a church of 500+ that I attended survey their men on porn use. I had a hard time buying into the idea that half of Christian men had an issue with porn and wanted to see if the numbers were real in my church. 61% had viewed porn within the past year, 44% within the past 6 months, and 25% within the past 30 days. There were some men I know of who didn’t fill out the survey because “they didn’t know how the information would be used,” so the real numbers were undoubtedly worse. What shocked me was that even though the senior pastor and all the elders knew the results, they never published them to the congregation. Everything stopped at that point.
I was frustrated and disappointed, yet God used the situation to accomplish something big. At that point, my involvement in ministry to the sexually addicted had focused solely on men in that particular local church. The Lord used the roadblock of their unwillingness to confront Jezebel to turn my attention outward; it was at this time when I started writing the content for the Blazing Grace website.
I’ve been blown away how God’s used it; Strength in Numbers support groups have been and are being set up in various states and outside the U.S.; churches and individuals are becoming equipped to deal with sexual sin; I was blessed to lead a woman in the UK to the Lord over the phone last year, we have a group of ladies who serve other spouses by emailing them for support and encouragement; there’s a growing community of believers from the U.S., UK., Australia and other countries in the forums, men and women have emailed me saying the Lord’s used the website in their lives, and much more. None of this would have happened if the pastor of that church had dealt with sexual sin. The crazy thing is that it was my sister, who turned away from the Lord when she was in her teens and told me a few years back she didn’t want to hear about Jesus from me again, who first suggested I put some of my writing up on a website.
God doesn’t see ministry and the church like we do, nor is He bound or limited by the traditional thinking we so easily get wrapped up in. His power is unlimited, and He can use you in ways you never would have imagined before if you’re willing to crucify your reputation.
I know some of you are struggling with lust, and thinking “I need to get my life straightened out first.” Read the post above from the young man again: because of his friend’s transparency he now has an accountability partner; there are fewer men in hiding, plus his post was used for an encouragement in this newsletter. God uses the broken in his work. Remember Rahab, the prostitute who hid the 2 Hebrew spies in Jericho? She was still a prostitute when she hid them. Rahab would have been killed if she’d have waited until “her life was together.”
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
This article isn’t about getting everyone to go out and “do for God.” We’re all broken clay pots, and the power to change lives comes from God, not us. My challenge to all of you is to see the need to confront Jezebel, and then hit your knees. Ask God what He wants your role to be. I’m not going to give you a list of suggestions of what you could do because I want you to hear from Him. Pray Big. Ask Him to rip the shroud of silence covering sexual sin off of churches around the world; ask Him to give His people boldness to speak all of the truth in love and take action.
“… and (if) 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 7:14
Our first passion should not be for ministry, work, a cause, people, or our reputation, but Christ. When’s He’s first, everything else falls into place.
The Spiritual Side of the Battle
If you step forward to the front lines of the battle, expect to get shot at. In the past few weeks I’ve dealt with evil dreams, my wife said she saw “a shadow” walking across our hallway at home, my daughter woke up with a nightmare, and I’ve been hit in other areas. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were attacked as you’ve read the first article with thoughts like “this is too long to read… you don’t really think you can talk to others about sexual sin, do you? Your life is a mess, who do you think you are? What would your congregation think if you told them half the men there had a problem with porn? Isn’t that a little extreme?”
Satan tries to intimidate with accusations, fear, lies and shameful thoughts. Stand in the truth in God’s Word, and never surrender to fear. Satan is defeated; he wants us to get us so wrapped in fear, shame and our inadequacy that we’re paralyzed and hide. We are inadequate; it’s God’s power and authority behind us that matter, not what we are. Get others praying for you, and when the Lord calls you to action, go. (Speaking of which, I appreciate your prayers for me and my family.)
The Blazing Grace Radio Show
The broadcasts are now up on Oneplace.com so you can listen to them in streaming audio. For January 7th and 14th, we had a panel of women who struggle with sex addiction; if you ever thought sex and porn addiction were a “man’s only problem,” this show will debunk the myth for you. One disturbing issue that surfaced was how teenage Christian girls are grooming each other to dress, walk and talk seductively to catch the attention of boys. We’ve got to address God’s standard for sexual purity in the junior high years, if not younger.
We have real Christians sharing real struggles with porn and sex addiction on the show, so if you’ve never listened before, check out the radio page or Oneplace.com.
The Topic No One Wants to Talk About
No, it’s not sex. For the most part I’ve avoided talking about money because it sometimes feels like everyone has their hand out these days, and I’ve never wanted this ministry to be about that. I’ve funded everything personally so far to avoid making it an issue. However, I’m no millionaire which means we need help if something is to be done on a larger scale. I’d like to put up the “Struggling with Porn” billboards in other cities and do the same with the radio show. The shroud of silence won’t be broken unless we’re as upfront about the answer to sexual sin in public as our culture is in promoting lies about it. Jezebel has many billboards up in our nation promoting strip clubs and porn shops, and it’s not uncommon to see products marketed on billboards using an almost naked woman. The Blazing Grace billboards and radio show counter this by speaking the truth, promoting awareness of the problem, and offering help to the hurting.
Once the book is finished, I’d like to make a video that churches and ministries could use. I’ve also toyed with the idea of publishing a “Blazing Grace Magazine” that would focus solely on sex addiction from a Christ centered perspective. There’s an enormous need for help out there, and I have plenty of ideas. If everyone on this mailing list were to donate $25.00 a month, I could start doing a lot more. Blazing Grace is a non-profit corporation so contributions are tax deductible.
New Prayer Requests:
My husband is in the military and I believe he has a porn addiction. Of course, he claims there is nothing wrong with it. It is affecting our sex life. I have told him that it is either me or porn and he has promised that he wants me, but he is still looking at porn. It is always the same. I catch him, he promises not to do it anymore and then I say ok. I worry something might happen when he goes to other countries where other things are considered acceptable and are more available. It happens a lot in the military. If he lies about porn then he might lie about other things too. Please pray that I will be closer to God and that a window will open to show me what to do. I am young and life is too short. Jen
My husband has an unusual addiction to porn. He has boxes of books and videos. He stares at women in public, which I am sure all men do, but he does it right in front of me. We have only been married a year and a half. I am 15 years younger than him, and have had more than my share of advances. I handle them as any proper married women should. My husband feeds off attention from other women. If I wake up at night he is awake with the porn channels on with the sound down. He goes out every weekend. Claims he's golfing and goes away on five day golf trips. Among his porn books and videos are various types of condoms. He claims he forgets to put his wedding ring on. However, according to him, I am being ridiculous about this. He treats his 30 year old daughter more like his wife than me. I am his 3rd wife. Please pray that I have the wisdom to make the right decisions here, for myself and my sixteen year old daughter.
I am 33 years old and have been married for 2 years with Ed. From his past, he has a lot of lust for every woman with tight jeans, high heels and boots. His former relationships were based on sex. He is in bondage to sex and I don’t know what to do. He explained to me he loves me, but the problem is self control. He doesn’t want me to dress too sexy, because he is afraid that this relationship will be spoiled because it will be only based on sex. On the other side he has a lot of lust for other women. Please pray for the marriage, before I give up. My problem is that I am not so attractive and I want to do plastic surgery to save the marriage. I have a feeling it is inevitable.
Please keep pray for my marriage (Berdell and Dan) and her friend Jim's Marriage (Jim and Dana) to be restored. This is all because of internet porn. Pray for me and my wife to restore the marriage.
Under false pretenses, my husband Jim, of nearly 30 years called me to come to his office on August 11, 2005, where I was greeted by a process server, and handed divorce papers and a restraining order. For our entire marriage he has been involved with porn. It began with paper magazines, but when he got a computer.... oh my, I can't begin to explain how rapidly he distanced, isolated, blamed and demeaned me for "interrupting his morning routine." I am beginning to have such sorrow for him and am asking for prayers for his healing, for his return to the Lord and our family. We have 5 daughters and 7 grandchildren. I am grief stricken and he is enraged.
I am beginning a support group in N.C. for women who are experiencing the pain of dealing with their husband's sexual addiction. Please pray that God will send the women who are most in need of help in my area. Also pray that I will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in dealing with their issues when they come. Pray for the healing power of Jesus Christ to bring freedom from denial and comfort for the pain and suffering that all the women who will take part are experiencing in their lives. And finally, pray that marriages will be saved and restored.
I suffer from the severest form of porn addiction; I am sexually compulsive which means I use lust to reduce my anxiety. I am scared of intimacy which keeps me isolated and alone. I have injured the nerves of my sexual organs and live in constant pain and desire. Every rejection is overwhelming, even when it is justified or my desire is wrong. I have no control over my thoughts at the worst of times. I have stalked in my life but only here and there, but I do feel the urge still. Pray for healing and perseverance.
Please pray for my marriage and my husband Franquois. He is stubborn and very bitter with me. He treats me like a room mate. He lies just to get out of the house. He is always doing over time. He barely spends any time with me and the children. I spend my days at work and at night with my children alone, praying for help. He even stopped wearing his wedding band. I am so upset and hurt; he is neglecting his commitment to the Lord and to me his wife and our children. He calls his ex at night to see about his kids; she calls our home and it hurts me; when I told him he got upset and said he is going to get a cell phone so that he can get his calls. All he does is things that would cause arguments. I stay quiet, but it overwhelms me. Please help me with strong prayer ..Please it is very hurtful.
Ladies, if you would like to email Robin, whose email is shown at the top of this newsletter, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We will all feel very much ashamed if we do not yield to Jesus the areas of our lives He has asked us to yield to Him. It’s as if Paul were saying, "My determined purpose is to be my utmost for His highest— my best for His glory." To reach that level of determination is a matter of the will, not of debate or of reasoning. It is absolute and irrevocable surrender of the will at that point. An undue amount of thought and consideration for ourselves is what keeps us from making that decision, although we cover it up with the pretense that it is others we are considering.”
From “My Utmost for His Highest,” by Oswald Chambers.
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All material copyright 2006 Mike Genung