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 will be leaving Sunday, April 3, for Greensboro, NC, for a conference helping others to find freedom from porn. This is a national conference http://setfreesummit.org/ that is bringing about 800 individuals from churches and other organizations, with the goal to address the issue of porn in the church today.
I will be using this time to connect with other leaders and help distribute the resources of Freedom Begins Here. My hope and prayer is to ignite church leaders to use the Freedom Begins Here resources to help “start the conversation” around this difficult subject. I have brought over 400 resources to give away free to interested leaders that want to help others find freedom. Also, I would like to learn more about what others are doing to address this issue and grow in my understanding.
How can you help me in this time? Please pray that I will be able to share with other leaders how to address this issue in their churches. My hope is to connect with individuals who are committed to addressing this issue in their community with the grace of Jesus. This is a huge opportunity for all of us who are committed to do this to come together and make an impact to change lives. Another prayer request is that I will be able to give away all of the resources that I am taking to the summit.
I am committed to help other leaders bring individuals to freedom around this issue. Below is a letter that I will be handing out to leaders that get free resources:
Dear Church Leader,
One of the most critical issues that is facing the church today is getting individuals to admit they are struggling in the area of sexual addiction/pornography. Freedom Begins Here Devotional Journal has been used by individuals and in small groups and has proven to help men “start the conversation” around this difficult issue. As each individual navigates this sin/struggle, they come to understand they are not alone and there are solutions to gain freedom from it.
Below is a quote from a pastor who has taken numerous individuals through this struggle:
“Freedom Begins Here has made a lasting impact, changing many men and marriages in our church. Many of the men who participated in the small groups have found a greater freedom from sexual immorality. More importantly, they found a greater revelation on how to honor God and themselves.”
Lighthouse Christian Church, Rosemount, MN
Here is an encouraging reflection from a counselor that is utilizing FBH material:
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your support and the fine materials your ministry has provided for the purpose of overcoming porn and sex addiction. I am a Christian therapist in Austin, TX, and I have been using Freedom Begins Here with clients for three years now. As a marriage counselor, porn issues are a common conversation in the room with couples having marriage issues. As I also work with single men, many of them have intimacy problems due to the shame cycle of pornography. I have used your materials to run groups for my male clients to supplement both marriage work and personal recovery. It has helped my men to overcome their personal struggles and also aided in the healing process for their spouses. Many of my clients have told me just that. So, grace and peace to you in this holiday season, and please keep the wonderful materials coming!
Darrell Ragland, MA, LPC
As you consider addressing this issue, please review the resources you have been given. Freedom Begins Here wants to help you navigate this difficult subject, so please contact me.
Brent Barrowcliff, Executive Director
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."
About four and a half years ago (13 years after admitting my struggle with pornography), God convicted me of an anger issue I had never addressed. My brother-in-law (the same one who introduced me to Freedom Begins Here) gave me a book called Bo’s Cafe. The main character in the book had anger issues that I could relate to (once again the providence of God at work). However, I couldn’t figure out how I had become so angry because I came from a good, loving home with loving parents that did not have anger issues. Since then I began attending Celebrate Recovery. I started going initially to see if I could help others and possibly start something similar at the place I was volunteering, but I ended up having more of my own issues come to light. So through that, God revealed to me the source of my anger as well as why I was so attracted to porn.
When I was young and growing up, I was a very sensitive child. I was easily moved to tears by insensitive words, not only the ones directed at me but at others as well. I would cry when my younger sister cried from being hurt or punished.
On Christmas Day in 1965, my Dad said or did something that unintentionally hurt my feelings, so I went to my room to cry. As I did I heard someone say “What a crybaby.” From that moment on I was labeled a crybaby, so I vowed to never cry again. With that thought, I shut down, and that precious sensitive spirit died and I became somewhat emotionally detached. There were only two emotions that wouldn’t betray my resolve not to cry—they were laughter and anger. So I became a bit of a class clown and a tease.
I am non-confrontational by nature. I’m like “Casper the Friendly Ghost”—I just want to be friendly. Bullies take advantage of that. So as I grew older I grew tougher, even though I hated confrontation. If someone messed with my sister or my friends or another meek person, I was ready to defend them.
Because I had been crushed by the fickleness of young girls, I became very guarded. I never gave my whole self into a relationship for fear of being hurt. I had been introduced to pornography at a very young age and was smitten. It seemed very safe to me because I could enjoy the fantasy without fear of betrayal. In each of my first two marriages I stayed somewhat aloof for fear of the pain and never fully trusted them with my heart. I wore a mask of self-confidence to hide the fact I was a basket case inside and to disguise my vulnerability. When there was trouble in paradise or I was stressed or depressed I would revert back to porn for a season. Amazingly enough I never purchased porn, but it always miraculously showed up—either at work, or in a dumpster, or even the time somebody dumped about a dozen magazines in the back of my truck while I was in the grocery store.
In 1976 I became an apprentice cement mason, and within two years was promoted to a foreman position. Controlling a crew of rowdy cement masons required me to act like a mean son-of-a- gun ready to kick butt (which was against my Casper the Friendly Ghost nature), so I began drinking a half pint of VO every day on my way home so I could relax to be with my family. Jesus revealed Himself to me in January of 1980, and within a couple of months I started my own owner/operator landscape and concrete business. If all that had not transpired and the Lord had not intervened, I was on my way into alcoholism and drug abuse.
By God revealing to me how I got so messed up, I’ve been able to forgive myself and love myself in spite of all my many flaws, and I’ve experienced the vastness of His grace (where sin abounds grace does much more abound), mercy, and love.
My name is Jeff and on a side note, if you feel led, pray for me to break my dry spell because I haven’t really cried since Christmas day 1965—that’s just over 50 years. Every time I feel I might have a breakthrough, I hear the words “what a crybaby” in my head and it stops. I need to be broken of that pride that still holds me hostage.
Thanks for letting me share.
Sex is beautiful. Sex is good. Sex is created to be enjoyable. Sex is God's idea and creation, so how could it be anything but glorious?
When mankind pursues it in any fashion other than God designed it, it's bad, perverse, and wrong. Period.
"You will not surely die" is the most deadly lie ever told and believed. Eve bought the lie and Adam failed to defend his wife and thus "through one man" did sin and death enter the world.
In this failure of Adam his marriage to Eve was damaged. Sex that was intended to be perfect, sinless and undefiled was made vulnerable to a sinful mankind and our choices. And bad ones we've made.
Shame makes it's debut as well.
The Garden Variety Lie of Today
Pornography is the Garden of Eden lie of Satan to the world today. It's a lie against marriage, the family and seeks to kill and destroy what God created to be perfect. That being the relationship between man and woman and the family they were told to create, and "fill the earth" with.
The proponents of porn would tell us that it enhances sex in your marriage. That's a lie. It cheapens it. It presents it as violent, demeaning and nothing more than lust filled activity that is void of intimacy and true love.
That is NOT what God created sex to be.
Porn makes sex all about self-gratification at the expense of the other.
Porn makes sex as disposable as the napkin you use in a fast food restaurant.
The Holy Truth
Have you thought of sex with your wife, as holy?
Pastor Matt Chandler, in his study The Mingling of Souls, puts it this way.
Sex is holy—it is meant to remind us of the God who gave it to us, who takes joy in union with his people. We don’t need to overspiritualize sex to see it this way; we just need to approach it the way the Bible ordained and be grateful for it. Seeing sex as holy will also help us love our spouses more greatly. Gary Thomas wrote:
“Sex is about the physical touch, to be sure, but it is about far more than physical touch. It is about what is going on inside us. Developing a fulfilling sex life means I concern myself more with bringing generosity and service to bed than with bringing washboard abdomens. It means I see my wife as a holy temple of God, not just as a tantalizing human body. It even means that sex becomes a form of physical prayer—a picture of heavenly intimacy that rivals the shekinah glory of old.”
The day I finally understood this principle quite literally changed my life. It changed how I viewed my wife sexually, spiritually and intimately. As odd as this may sound, we don't just connect physically, but at a soul level during our most physically intimate times.
This realization changed our marriage in a powerful way.
I cannot describe the depth of the connection in mere words. And that is because it's divine and who am I to attempt to explain God at that depth?
Restoration is a Journey
This piece of the article could really be a post all it's own. I may do just do that in the near future.
The battle to restore the divine intimacy in your marriage, or like me, find it in the first place, will be a tough fight.
Worth it? In spades and then some!
Here are some steps you can take to begin the process.
You cannot achieve this kind of intimacy with your spouse if you are still actively using pornography. It's skewing your thinking and separating from God.
If your watching pornography - Stop and get some accountability. If you don't know what to do, or who to turn to, contact me, or checkout our "Resources" page for help!
Before I gave my heart to Jesus in January of 1980, I used to think that pornography really didn’t hurt anyone. Even psychology painted a picture that it could be helpful to detour rape by giving an outlet—and, boy, that sounded good and right to me, until Ted Bundy did his interview with Dr. James Dobson.
I had hoped it was a good thing because I was drawn to it. Men are hardwired to be visually stimulated. God made it to be that way. God created godly marital sex to be an intimate bonding—a wonderful, exciting moment between husband and wife. Fornication includes all forms of sexual sin like adultery, premarital sex, multiple partners, pornography (fornicea), homosexuality, and masturbation. It destroys God’s beautiful purpose for sex.
Pornography is not harmless but hurtful. The first one it hurts is God. Joseph said to Potiphar’s wife when she was trying to seduce him, “How could I do this thing and sin against God?” King David said, after being convicted by Nathan the prophet of his sins concerning Bathsheba, “Against God and God alone have I sinned.” We all have sinned against others and have had others sin against us, so we deserve what we get. But God deserves to be honored and revered, so any sin is firstly against Him. Secondly, we hurt our wives, our children, and ourselves. We also support an industry that supports all sorts of ungodliness, including human trafficking. One thing God used to get my attention was this question, “How would you feel if you were to open a porno magazine or watch a porno DVD and see your beloved daughter? The ladies seen in these magazines or films were somebody’s ‘baby girl’ and made in the ‘image of God.’”
God says in His word that sin is “pleasurable for a season” but it will ultimately destroy us. Sin is not bad because it’s forbidden, it’s forbidden because it’s bad.
On a personal note, I was exposed to pornography at a very young age. I wasn’t looking for porn at six years old, but it came looking for me. I wasn’t addicted immediately, but through other circumstances (I’ll blog about that at another time) I became addicted, and it was instrumental in causing my two divorces. Porn is a fantasy world—not reality. It’s staged and posed and doesn’t portray a true picture of reality. It’s generally perverse and a definite deviation of God’s plan.
Even after I gave my heart to Jesus I didn’t see pornography as a sin, because it wasn’t real—only fantasy. It’s not like I was having an affair. I didn’t understand what the word fornication meant. I didn’t read through the Bible completely until 1997, and it was probably five years later before I heard Jesus’ teaching about lust being adultery. Even then I tried to convince myself that I really had no interest in any of those women personally. And until recently, churches just didn’t address pornography until it was an epidemic in the church. Once I was convicted of my sin, I couldn’t seem to stop.
Finally, after my second wife filed for divorce, I followed the words of James 5:16—I confessed my sin and began the process of deliverance. About ten years later when I was depressed, like an alcoholic returning to the bottle to self-medicate, I started slipping back into porn.
As God would have it, a little company in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, developed some material to address porn and sexual addiction. And again by the providence of God, my brother-in-law was approached by this company to come on board to help promote the product. Then he sent me the material to get my opinion. The material was called Freedom Begins Here. This material convicted me of backsliding, but more than that, it made me realize I was not alone and that there was hope. Like any addict, I always have to be on guard because pornography will always be a strong temptation, but with God’s help and materials out on the market and churches that promote transparency and seeking help with our issues, there is a future and a hope.