In this Issue:
** Going the Distance
** Wives Support and Prayer Group
** Newsletter Archives
** Mike Genung’s Books
** More Reading
** Final Words
Going the Distance
By Mike Genung
Ray and John are my heroes.
Ray is 76 years old, and has issues with his eyes. John is 80, and has a pulmonary disease which requires him to wear an oxygen tank. Ray and John go into prison once a week to teach the men a course on recovering from sexual sin. Because of prison regulations, John isn’t allowed to bring his oxygen tank into prison with him – so he leaves his tank at the guard gate and goes in without it.
I’m blessed to know Ray and John because they’re using my book for the group; the men read one chapter each week and discuss it the following week. Prison ministry is not a place for those who are playing games. I’ve been in prison for ministry twice and know that the spiritual warfare can be intense. God is changing lives because Ray and John, in spite of their physical weaknesses, are willing to go the distance and make their lives count for eternity. This goes against the grain of our culture’s message of “the American Dream” which says life is about making money, spending your final years on yourself, and wasting time while you wait to die. God’s word gives us a picture of making our life count for eternity until the end:
The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
I want to be like Ray and John if I get to their age, making a difference in lives of others until the very end. I recently heard an interview Chuck Colson gave at age 76 when someone asked when he would retire; Colson’s response was “never, I’ll retire when I die.” Right on.
In the mid 2000s, most of the emails we received asking for help were from men in their 30s and 40s. Today there is an alarming trend. We’re hearing from more men (and wives) in or close to their sixties who are just beginning to deal with the fallout of sexual sin and look for a way out. I had lunch with a guy who recently turned 60 about a month ago whose marriage had just been blown apart from his sexual sin who was looking for answers. He’s not the only one in that age group looking for help. It’s no longer uncommon to receive an email from a wife who’s been married 30-40 years and has had her world come undone because she recently discovered her husband is a porn addict.
Why am I making a big deal out of this age group? It’s not because sexual sin is any less destructive on the marriage of a couple in their 30s or 40s. The issue is the man has wasted decades in bondage to sexual sin and there is less sand in the hour glass of his life to spend on recovery and healing. Maybe fewer than they know. We’ve got one brief shot at life and there are no do-overs; once they enter eternity the things they did on earth will be far more important than they ever realized.
Many men don’t realize what lust does to them. It puts a man (or woman, as women struggle with sexual sin too) in an emotional and spiritual fog. Their heart is numb and their character is weak; if a man can’t say no to looking at pictures and having sex with himself, how will he have the character to stand firm in obedience and deny self if God calls him to serve in some way? How can he serve others when his pride and self-absorption blind him to their needs? If such men engage in ministry their efforts are more flesh-based than Spirit-lead; they use ministry like a drug to make themselves to feel good rather than to glorify God by seeing Him work through them. The lust-fog prevents them from seeing how self-centered they’ve become and how they’re wasting their lives.
It wasn’t until I had been free from sexual sin for about a year until the lust fog had lifted and I had more spiritual discernment and emotional and mental clarity. That’s how damaging lust is.
When talking with men in their sixties, I emphasize the need for them to take their recovery seriously and take the action steps that will make a difference immediately. Most of them stare at me with a glazed look or mumble “I’ll pray about it,” and then stay on the same path. They’re so blinded by the lust-fog that they don’t get it that they’ve burned off and wasted years of their life, may not have much longer to live, and need to go all out and do whatever it takes now, today, to break free from lust.
If you’re one of those men in your sixties (or even if you’re younger), please consider the following:
You don’t know how much time you have to live. Men die all the time in their 40s and 50s from heart attacks or other illnesses. Life is short and you don’t want to waste another minute of it in bondage to sexual sin. Take the action steps that will make a difference now. I’ve outlined what an action plan for the first 90 days looks like here.
If you’re in ministry, considering setting it aside, at least for a month. Make getting your relationship right with God the most important thing in your life. Sometimes “doing for God,” can be a big distraction from hearing and getting to know Him. He wants you, not your flesh-offerings. Consider going alone to a Christian retreat center where there’s no TV or other distractions alone for one or two days to seek Him.
Many men are stuck in their head and do everything they can to avoid taking a hard look at themselves and what’s really going on in their heart. They go off on preaching tangents or try to throw up smoke screens, “The church is full of hypocrites!”, “Their theology is wrong!” “I tried going to a support group and it didn’t do anything for me (probably because your heart was hard and you didn’t really want help),” “My wife won’t give me sex (Duh, why would she want to when you’re committing adultery with porn or other means?)”, or, famous last words: “I’ll pray about it,” which is just another way of saying you’re going to do nothing. The sooner you get out of your head and come to grips with the reality that you’re wasting your short life with lust, and start taking effective action, the better off you’ll be.
If you don’t think this should be taken seriously, try asking your wife what she thinks. Or tell her after every time you masturbate with porn or commit adultery. Hurting and/or angry wives have a way of sparking newfound clarity and motivation in their husbands in a powerful way when it comes to sexual sin.
Some men are recovery group junkies who never break free. They “work the program” incessantly and get plenty of “recovery,” but obtain no freedom. They’re waiting for the group or the program to fix them, but are unwilling to stand up once and for all and say “No more!” Groups and programs can only take you so far. In the end you must make the final decision that no matter what it takes, you will cut off lust permanently.
Men in their 60s will have a tougher battle than younger men because they’ve spent more of their lives conditioning themselves emotionally, physically, and spiritually to surrender to lust. Defeat and short lived “sobriety” is all they know. This isn’t to say that God can’t set men free in their sixties, but that they will have to fight against apathy and passivity harder than most. This is why the message must be urgent.
There are many men in the church who, when they reach their eternal destination, will be grieved when they look back on their lives and realize they wasted most of it. Some will be shocked when they end up in a place they hadn’t anticipated (1 Corinthians 6:9).
I want to go the distance like Ray and John if I reach my 70s. Let’s all aspire to bear fruit at that age.
About two months ago, I felt the Lord prompting me to set secular music aside. Although most of the music I listened to was Christian, I would listen to secular music several times a week to unwind. There was nothing hard or dark; most of it was from my era (70s, 80s and some 90s).
But God had me shelve secular music to pave the way for the next step He had in mind – a fast.
The Daniel fast is patterned after the fast Daniel took in Daniel one, where he ate only vegetables, fruits and grains; only foods that came from the ground. No meats, dairy, sugar, bread, or processed foods. He drank only water.
God put it on my heart to start the Daniel fast on April 1, so I did so, for five days.
It was amazing.
First, the hard part. It took several days to get past the withdrawals from sugar, processed food, bread, and meat. I like chocolate and enjoy a hearty burger from time to time, so letting all of that was an adjustment. There were moments when my intestines ached a bit, along with periods of weakness and fatigue. My flesh was screaming to be fed the way it was used to, and was balking at a diet of healthy foods only.
In the weeks leading up to the fast I’d had a sense that my life was too much about indulging myself. I was often looking for ways to eat the foods I like (ie chocolate), or do the fun things that would provide pleasure. I’m involved with ministry so it’s not like I’m a full time hedonist, yet there was a lingering sense that too much of my focus was on self-indulgement.
Fasting turns all of that on its head. The flesh is told “NO, life is not about you. Life is about seeking God so He can shape us as He pleases and use us for His purposes.” The flesh screams like a two year old who had an ice cream yanked out of his hand; it’s not used to being told “NO,” or not getting it’s way.
As the flesh pines, shrivels, and withers, blessings arise. We can hear God much clearer, and the Holy Spirit has more room to work in the heart. The end result is that the power and presence of God are more intense than usual, when He’s fighting for space in our lives with the flesh.
On each of the five mornings of the fast, the Lord brought me to specific verses and worked in powerful ways on my heart. One morning He showed me sin that I had been forgiven for, yet needed to release some shame and unworthiness that had plagued me. Another morning He revealed that I was too wrapped up around work, and needed to “go back to my first love” with Him. He also showed me crevices in my heart where fear and condemnation were lodged, and replaced them with joy and freedom.
Every morning I arose with anticipation at what God would do, and every morning He performed intense, healing surgery on my heart. I felt closer to Him than ever before, and wanted more of Him.
Wives Support and Prayer Group
For wives who are hurting from their husband’s porn addiction or adultery, we offer a weekly prayer group for support and encouragement. Women are encouraged to share what they’re going through and receive prayer for ongoing needs. The group is also open to women who are engaged and/or are considering marriage. Our ladies prayer group meets by conference call once a week. If you’d like to be a part, please reply to this newsletter and request more information.
You can read this and previous editions of the Blazing Grace Newsletter online at the archives.
April 2014: Our First Video
March 2014: Facing Judgment
February 2014: A Question and An Announcement
January 2014: The First 90 Days
December 2013: Do You Want to be Free?
November 2013: When God and His Word Are All You Have
October 2013: To Live the Christian Life to the Fullest Requires…
September 2013: God Shines Through the Cracks
August 2013: How God Brought New Life to My Marriage
July 2013: What Porn is Doing to Us
June 2013: Which One Will You Serve?
May 2013: What Defines You?
April 2013: 15 Principles for Freedom
March 2013: I Believe; Help My Unbelief!
February 2013: Adultery
January 2013: Speak, Lord, Your Servant is Listening
December 2012: Healing the Wounds of Rejection
November 2012: A Look at Grace
October 2012: When Someone Shares their Sin
September 2012: Willpower Doesn’t Work
August 2012: Look Who’s One of the Porn Industry’s Biggest Customers
July 2012: For Those Who are Control Freaks (and Don’t Want to Be)
June 2012: Blazing Grace on a Sunday Morning
Mike Genung’s Books
The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction is Mike Genung’s book on breaking free from sexual addiction.
Topics covered include:
* Biblical tools for overcoming sexual temptation.
* Healing from shame.
* How to stop a masturbation habit.
* Dealing with the core issues that drive sexual sin.
* Understanding and receiving the love of God in the heart.
* Healing for Wives
* How to restore a marriage that’s been broken by sexual sin and/or adultery.
The Road to Grace is used in support groups, and provides plenty of material for discussion.
100 Days on the Road to Grace; a Devotional for the Sexually Broken, is a new book that came out last summer.
For more information and to purchase, visit www.roadtograce.net
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Blazing Grace’s purpose is to minister to the sexually broken, encourage believers to draw closer to God, and encourage the church to effectively deal with the porn epidemic.
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May God’s grace abound to you.
All material copyright 2014 Mike Genung