Do you have a place in your home that you just don’t want to think about because it’s so full of junk that even opening the door makes you tired? Maybe it’s that garage, closet or spare room you’ve been promising yourself you’d clean up someday, but you just keep throwing the stuff you don’t know what to do with in there.
When you throw something else in there, you pause for a minute, feel a little guilt and a lot of shame, but turn off the lights and close the door.
“I’ll take care of that later,” you promise yourself.
Most of us would have to admit that there are places in our lives that are the equivalent of those dark rooms full of junk. Junk we don’t know what to do with, so we just turn out the lights and close the door.
“I’ll take care of that later!”
You may hate that room, but there is a being in the universe that absolutely loves that room.
It’s his favorite place in your life because it’s the place he can hang out as he screams his lies into your heart:
“You’re just a piece of garbage, no wonder God doesn’t let you do something important for Him.”
“See, I told you you’d never measure up. Do you imagine Jesus really loves you anymore? If I were you, I’d just give up. Come on in here with me, we can party and it’s going to feel really good.”
“Whatever you do, don’t turn on the lights! If your Christian friends ever knew what you were really doing in here, they’d abandon you like a stray dog in a war zone.”
For a lot of men and the wives and children who love them, the dark place in their lives is sexual addiction—more specifically, pornography.
Recently God moved powerfully in our church through my friend, Kevin Butcher, at our men’s retreat. His messages exposed the source of shame and documented how grace in community can turn on the lights of mercy and hope. Some of our men, their hearts encouraged enough to trust Jesus and us with their “dark room,” disclosed their secret life.
One of our pastors, Colin McDougall, accurately captured what God has done with their courage in a recent letter, begging people to pray for us and them:
Dear prayer partners, America’s critics are in the hundreds of millions, but those who are willing to pay the price in prayer are numbered by handfuls. Thank you for your commitment to pray with me for the revival of our nation. And please continue to pray that some portion of this revival would begin here with us.
This month I need to be more specific and beg you to join me in prayer for our men, many of whom have been caught in the undertow of the pornographic addiction sweeping our nation. Lust has always been a favorite trap employed by the devil, but our generation’s inventions for digitizing and transmitting images have turned an unfair fight into a rout in homes across our country. While we keep Satan’s secret for him, we are vulnerable and exposed, in the dark and on his terms; but when we walk in the light, Jesus promises to restore our fellowship with God and with one another, to forgive our sins and to cleanse us by His blood from all unrighteousness. The message of First John reminds us that we can’t successfully compartmentalize: there is no way to serve Christ in public while we compromise with a hidden life in private. Hypocrisy in us does not somehow save face for Him.
At our retreat in May several courageous men from this congregation came into the light with various hidden sins, and we got to experience firsthand that Jesus keeps His promise. We discovered that pornography, especially pornography on the internet was part of the darkness restraining our fellowship with one another and with Him. Though the sins were secret, the effect was a cascade of destruction. But now this band of brothers is experiencing fellowship and serving Christ like never before (even if this has cost some of our men the lost respect of a handful of people who would rather glory in appearances than in the new life). Their testimony of grace has encouraged others to join them in the light.
Well, now you know: pornography is a problem among the men in our church. I hope that doesn’t cause you to lose respect for us. I hope that instead you will pray that the first steps of confession and restoration of fellowship will spread across the congregation and will blossom into that authentic holiness without which no one will see the Lord. You can be even more specific, because we have asked a friend of our church, Dr. Mark Laaser, to meet with us on August 14 while he is on the west coast. Dr. Laaser wrote “Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction” the book that we have found most beneficial for men who are serious about getting free from this sin, and his wife Debra wrote the book we are using to encourage their wives. Pray for freedom and deliverance but also that we will be a community that doesn’t just talk about God’s grace; we want to regularly bathe in it!
Eight years ago when I first asked you to pray with me for revival that would start here, this was not what I had in mind. But today I am praying that this deep conviction of sin would take root in our corner of LA County and spread wide. Would you please join me?