Last week I was both blessed and privileged to represent FBH with Brent at the Set Free Summit in Greensboro, North Carolina. I also met Jarrad Miller with God Over Porn and had time to get to know him.
I would like to share with you my impression of the conference and how I perceived it was accepted overall. Now my personal perception with $4.00 might get you tall Latte at Starbucks but not much more.
About 850 people came to the conference. Out of that only about 300 Churches or other religious institutions were represented, and of them only about 90 or so visited our table and connected with us. When you consider the total number of churches in a two hundred mile radius of Greensboro, it’s a little disheartening. However the amount of lay people seeking either self-help or materials and information they could take back to leadership was a little more encouraging. Plus they seemed willing and determined to convince their leaders that it’s well past time—we must start now. That to me was more encouraging.
The majority seemed to have come in search of the magic pill that would sanitarily make this epidemic disappear, and they left with the realization that they are going to have to get down and dirty for as long as it takes and it has to start at the top. What they got there was the truth which Jesus promised would set us free.
There were more than a few from Canada and other countries like England, Australia, Peru, Mexico, Brazil, and Egypt, which opened my eyes to the fact that this is a worldwide epidemic. Most of these came with the hope of finding materials in their own languages, only to find nothing yet. Although I wasn’t discouraged; I just saw another opportunity for someone to fill that need.
There was also addressed in one of the sessions the need for materials and resources for the growing number of women in the church struggling the same issue. It’s not just a guy issue anymore. But even this need creates another opportunity for ministry.
I sometimes felt like these pastors were overwhelmed—it was like finding out that what they thought was an outbreak of the flu infecting over half their congregations was, in reality, the bubonic plague. But it was a much needed wake-up call.
At the end we met three guys from the Chicago area who were already having success in three groups of about sixty men, and they were looking for an additional church facility to start another group.
Overall, I came away encouraged because even though the steps are small, they are in the right direction. The Bible tells us not to despise meager beginnings. And when you’re trapped between Pi Hahiroth and Migdol with the Red Sea blocking your way and the entire Egyptian Army is bearing down on you from the rear—our God will part the Red Sea.
I am seeking your prayers for these pastors and individuals, that they will be strong in their resolve to engage in the battle and work past their fears, doubts, and concerns by trusting in God. After all, it’s His church, not theirs.
I have recently shared my testimony with you about my struggles with pornography, so I don’t need to expand on that, but rather relate more to the war at hand in the Church of Jesus Christ. In 1998 I finally listened to God and followed His plan lined out perfectly in James 5:16, and I confessed my sin of porn addiction to a group of believers on a Sunday night. I then began the process of deliverance from that which had ensnared me at a very young age. At that point in 1998, I had been a Christian who had tried to deal with this issue on my own for eighteen years—with very limited and short term success. The church was in denial that any true believer could have such a struggle. After all, we are a new creation; old things are passed away and behold all things have become new (2 Cor. 5:17). That scripture and the church’s silence on the matter often led me to doubt my salvation, because I still struggled with sin. On three separate occasions I fasted forty days and begged God to remove this from me. But the only response I would hear from God was to confess your sins one to another and pray for one another that you can be healed. At that time my pastor was also my father-in-law, so I wasn’t open to the idea of confessing to him. I did one time after my fastings and prayers weren’t bringing results. I tried giving my father-in-law a very watered down version of a confession which was hardly a confession at all, so it hardly worked at all. It wasn’t until the marriage failed that I confessed on that Sunday night (which was, by the way, a different pastor and different church). I also confessed to my wife, but she couldn’t forgive me. After that time, I would speak anywhere and anytime I was invited to share my testimony. Again, the churches were not ready to address the issue. Neither Freedom Begins Here, Transparent Ministries nor Celebrate Recovery existed at that time. Ten years and many disappointments later, I got out of the fight, and before too long I began losing battles with my struggles with porn. Since the births of FBH, TM, and CR, I’ve gotten back in the battle which helps me stay much more alert to the wiles of the enemy and the triggers that can lead me in a downward spiral. I have to STAY THE COURSE.
I need to be reminded, and so I’ll restate the porn stats that directly concern the church:
60% of men and 30% of women, even in the church, struggle with porn.
The 12– to 17-year-old age bracket is the largest consumer of Internet porn.
42.7% of Internet users view porn.
7 out of 10 lay leaders and 4 out of 10 pastors admit to having viewed porn as much as once a week.
Ashley Madison is a Canadian based on-line dating service, soliciting people who are married or in serious relationship with their slogan “life’s too short, have an affair.” On August 19th, 2015, the Ashley Madison web site was hacked and many were exposed, including over 400 pastors and church leaders. On September 8th, one distraught pastor committed suicide in his shame.
Friends, our pastors, elders, and deacons are hurting just like we are. We have to speak up. We can stay silent no longer. If we don’t actively and aggressively attack this problem, it will continue to grow and entrap our brothers, ours sisters, our sons, our daughters, and our grandchildren. SILENCE IS THE PRISON DOOR TO THE CELL OF OUR SHAME THAT KEEPS US IN BONDAGE TO OUR SIN. Confession releases those bonds so we can be released and healed. It is a process and WE CAN’T DO IT ALONE. Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 tells us, Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can he be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not easily broken. You and I in Christ are that threefold cord. Proverbs 27:17 reads, As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another. We must work together. Each of us needs a friend, a brother who loves us and that we trust and know they have our back. I need a friend/brother like that and I want to be a friend/brother like that for anyone willing to trust God and to allow me to help and encourage you and protect you from yourself and the enemy.
In the beginning of this message, I quoted 2 Corinthians 5:17 and shared how it made me feel I wasn’t saved. The scripture is true, however, and I now believe I have a different understanding of its meaning. The more years I have in relationship with Jesus and the better understanding I have of God and His grace through Jesus Christ, the more I’ve gained understanding of its meaning. We know that God sees us perfected in Jesus. I now could expand the scripture to say, If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are PASSING away, behold all things are BECOMING new. In the book THE CURE by John Lynch and Bill Thrawl, they talk about the butterfly. In essence God has created us a new creation, a butterfly. Even though we may still resemble a caterpillar or cocoon, if a scientist were to check our DNA at any stage, he would say we are a butterfly. So we are maturing/becoming new.
Over the past four or five years, my wife and I have been ministering and mentoring people at the Union Gospel Mission, 5 Rock Ranch, and now at Celebrate Recovery at the Salvation Army. I have befriended many hard core guys with all sorts of addictions and anger issues. These big, tough guys will confess their alcohol and drug addictions, their anger issues, they’ll confess that they abused their wives, stole from and mistreated their mother, attacked their fathers, and maybe even confess to a killing or maiming, but when it comes to admitting anything to do with pornography, they become silent. I’ve been wondering about this for a while and I feel I’ve been given an understanding (from the Lord, I hope) into why this is so. Alcohol, drugs, and violence are “macho” sins, but pornography carries the additional shame of masturbation. There is nothing overly masculine or macho attached to that. Guys will brag about their many conquests but hide in shame anything to do with masturbation. So there is an additional pride issue involved.
Until we break the silence of our shame, we’ll continue in our imprisonment. Until God’s children (the church) become transparent and the church (institution) becomes a safe
Last year I was able to take a trip to Alaska for ministry. It was there I received a call from my wife who had been suffering from a toothache. I was in no position to help her. She found an emergency dentist at 10pm who would see her. Unfortunately due to the serious infection and swelling, the dentist could only provide temporary relief from the pain. This was an ongoing cycle for over a year until she could no longer stand the pain any longer and had it extracted.
Now you may be wondering, “Why did she take so long to have the tooth taken care of?” Not too many people are eager about making a trip to the dentist or any doctor for that matter because we fear what will happen. Will the procedure be painful? Do I want to know the test results? Nevertheless she was able to have the tooth extracted and although she experienced brief discomfort, she was able to have peace knowing it would no longer cause her pain.
Secret sin works in the same manner. We want to experience the life and peace we can have in Jesus, but unconfessed sin impacts our fellowship with Him and others. It keeps us from going before the throne of God in boldness and we lack the confidence we ought to have in Him. As for our relationship with other fellow believers, we shrink before them because we wonder whether or not they know our dark deeds. Therefore it hinders us from having genuine relationships.
I hope and pray by now you are able to "connect the dots" here. Sin is that nagging tooth, the pain is the Spirit of God pushing you to turn to Christ the Physician (dentist) who stands before the Almighty making intercession for you, so you no longer have to suppress the shame with things that cannot satisfy.
Here's the truth: There's no such thing as secret sin. God knows and sees all. The Bible says: “He reveals the deep and secret things: He knows what is in the darkness and the light dwells with Him” (Daniel 2:22) and “Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.” (Psalm 139:12).
If we truly desire to walk in victory and triumph over our enemies, we must bring those things which are hidden to the Light and the Truth will set us free.
The power of sin is found in its secrecy. As long as you can hide it, you'll continue to indulge in it.—David Platt
Walking with the King,
Jarrad R. Miller Sr.
Founder & CEO | @J_Mills116
www.godoverporn.org | @godoverporn
"Not just a movement...but a lifestyle."
Dear sister, there are two relationships in which you WILL respond to, day in and day out, as you try to make sense of the pain you are experiencing. Your response to God and obviously, your response to your husband. The good news is if we recognize the first and are intentional about our perceptions, then our responses to both relationships will be what will help navigate our wounded hearts toward the healing that God has for us.
The truth is, your response towards God and your husband is a reflection of your belief in God's love for you and His promises for your life. Ouch! Did you get that? Tough stuff! I am still trying to wrap my mind around it. What I am seeing in my own life is a woman who's responses have not lined up with who she claims to be...ugh! Sounds like a heart probelm to me! Not pretty!! This revelation has really challenged me in EVERY area of my life.
It seems like on the onslaught of pain, the enemy tries to give us a dose of amnesia when it comes to WHO we KNOW our God is and WHO we are in Him. We become so consumed with our pain and every detail of our husband's choices that nothing else seems to matter. Not only are our hearts broken but our mind becomes the enemy's battleground to cause further damage. He takes advantage of every opportunity to destroy TRUTH with LIES.
You now know his secret. Your husband is addicted to porn.
More than likely, you caught your husband looking at porn or you found it by accident on the computer. You were hoping it was just a slip up, a wrong click of the mouse, a one time event. But as time has gone by and more truth has been revealed, you realize it wasn't a one time event but an ongoing obsession. The choice that you will eventually have to make is whether you should tell somebody or not.
Your husband, most likely, will not want anybody to know. He may be telling YOU to keep it a secret. After all, it is his secret not yours. It's his to keep. The truth is, you feel so shameful about this new discovery that you are okay with not telling anyone. What would others think? You begin believing the lie that it is best for nobody to know. It could destroy the "perfect" christian family image that you portray to those around you. So you hide your pain. You put your mask on every time you leave your home. You smile, determined to not let anyone see your wounded heart. You pull back from others. You seclude yourself, so fearful that those who know you best may catch you at a week moment and see your brokenness. You make excuses for not going out with your girlfriends. You cry yourself to sleep at night. Nobody knows what it is like to be you. And part of you is just fine with that. The other part of you wants so badly to be heard, to be understood, to be free from the secret that has left your heart so painfully shattered.
What do you do?
Most churches make it difficult for there to be transparency when it comes to sexual sins. It's just not socially acceptable in our christian circles. These issues are seldom talked about or addressed. If they are, it's only on rare occasions. If an alter call is given for those struggling with porn or sexual addictions, the alter, in most churches, will remain empty. It is too shameful and too risky.
Why is that? In a world where we are bombarded with sexual images and promiscuity, it really makes no sense.
Just walk through the halls of your local high school. No fear there. Teenagers are talking about it and not even batting an eye. Why isn't the church a comfortable place to address such things? Why do we make it so taboo when it is all around us?
These issues are real and they are destroying families and tearing our nation apart.
Statistics prove that the majority of those addicted to porn are not outside the church any longer, but sitting in our church pews, leading our youth groups, and even preaching from our pulpits. So, why aren't we talking about it? This silence has left us vulnerable and as prime targets for the enemy.
Shouldn't Pastors everywhere be speaking TRUTH about these issues and WARNING the body of Christ about these types of seductions? Not just once a year, but continually? After all, let's be real....what do most men and, yes...even "christian" men, think about? What do most teenagers think about? SEX. And yet, it is the least thing talked about in our churches today.
However, our culture handles it just the opposite. No guessing what the majority boldly proclaims. They make it quite clear. And they are not at all sorry for it or ashamed of it. They bombard us with sexual images and innuendos day in and day out. It's all over the TV, the movies, in the media, on the internet....it is everywhere. They are portraying a twisted, tainted view of sexuality and they have everyone's attention.
The longer the church keeps silent the more causalities there will be in this war against the enemy.
How are our boys and men going to know how to handle this kind of assault if they are not equipped? How will they learn the proper way to view women? How will they learn the truths that will help them avoid the traps that satan sets for them on a daily basis?
No doubt, we are all being taught everyday by the world's standards. Standards which have lost the meaning of virtue and purity all together. What used to be unacceptable is now the norm. Could it be that the church is no longer grieved by the things that grieve the heart of God? The truth is, our hearts are being seared. Yes, we claim to be followers of Christ, but just look at the statistics. Not only is the porn statistics staggering but the divorce rate is as high in the church as those outside the church. Many of those divorces have porn and/or other sexual addictions at the hem.
Why is this? Is the church failing?
It is my opinion that we can no longer be silent.
We need to teach and equip with regards to these kinds of issues as boldly and unashamedly as the world portrays them.
We need to take back the values that exemplify the character of Christ.
I want to encourage, and to beg Pastors everywhere to be bold, to speak the real hard truths, and to expose the lies of the enemy.
Being the wife of a former porn addict I realize I am so much more passionate about this then most, but shouldn't we all be?
Not only are we not talking about these issues, but we are not helping those who need it. Instead of finding freedom from such things at the alters of our churches, in community with believers..... those held captive are walking away bound, wounded, and fearful of being exposed.
The truth is, if our alters are empty because men and women are afraid to admit they are struggling, (because many are), then something needs to change. We need to create an environment of freedom where they can be real and transparent. Where else can a man or woman turn who desires help and needs support? They need Jesus. They need the church to be as Christ meant for it to be. A place they can run to, not run away from. Just sayin'. What do you think?