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January 2012 – God Doesn’t Need You in Ministry

Dan came to our support group for the first time after his wife demanded a divorce due to his porn use. He had spent years in ministry, having taught seminars, adult classes, Bible studies, and more. Dan was bitter that his wife was divorcing him “just because of porn;” when we gently pointed out that he was so focused on how “good he was” that he couldn’t see how he deeply he had hurt his wife, he stewed in silence.

We never saw Dan again.
The words in Matthew 7:21-23 are some of the most frightening in Scripture:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles ?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

In its many forms, sexual sin is idol worship; bowing to the god of pleasure and perversion. Imagine if the man’s response in Matthew 7 read something like this: “Yes Lord, I worshipped lust, but I also preached Your word. Some good came out of it, right? People were ministered to and encouraged. Doesn’t that count?” What might Jesus’ response to such a person be? We can never speak for God, but after examining Scripture we do know this: the Lord demands to be the sole object of our highest affection. Good works, whether done in His name or not, will never justify idol worship.

If our heart isn’t in the right place, ministry can be toxic; we can get high on the approval and appreciation of others just as a junkie would his drug of choice. We can become more about getting our ministry–fix than anything else, at the expense of our relationship with the Lord, family, and friends. In this context, “Ministry” is no longer about God or what He wants to do; it’s all about fulfilling our vision, dreams, and ambition. Pride, that vicious enemy which has taken out many over the centuries, is now the driving force of our life.

Note who God says was guiding and putting together every critical event in Israel’s early history:

“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him through all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau, and to Esau I gave Mount Seir to possess it; but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt. Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt by what I did in its midst; and afterward I brought you out. I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea; and Egypt pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. But when they cried out to the LORD, He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them and covered them; and your own eyes saw what I did in Egypt. And you lived in the wilderness for a long time. Then I brought you into the land of the Amorites who lived beyond the Jordan, and they fought with you; and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land when I destroyed them before you. Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel, and he sent and summoned Balaam the son of Beor to curse you. But I was not willing to listen to Balaam. So he had to bless you, and I delivered you from his hand. You crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho; and the citizens of Jericho fought against you, and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Girgashite, the Hivite and the Jebusite. Thus I gave them into your hand. Then I sent the hornet before you and it drove out the two kings of the Amorites from before you, but not by your sword or your bow. I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you have lived in them; you are eating of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.’”
Joshua 24:2-13 (emphasis mine).

True ministry is all about God; aligning ourselves with His will, allowing Him to guide us, and then following in humility and obedience. It is seeking His glory at the expense of our own. True ministry involves extensive time in prayer, listening to what God has to say in His word, and, often – waiting on Him.

Statistics show that at least 50% of Christian men and 20% of Christian women are playing with the fire of sexual sin. This includes pastors, youth leaders, music ministers, and para-church personnel.  That’s a lot of men and women who are leading a double life.

If you’re in ministry and in bondage to sexual sin, be careful that you don’t allow the toxic rush from man’s appreciation of your flesh-works drown out what God is saying to you. If the Lord is calling you to lay ministry down so He can “get to know you” (and work in your life to set you free from sexual sin), then obey immediately. God doesn’t need you in ministry to accomplish His purposes.

The Lord set His top priority for us when He said that the greatest commandment is:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
Luke 10:27

Matthew 6:33 further adds:
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

“Doing for God” is missing from these verses. If our relationship with the Lord is choked with sexual sin and manic ministry-work, our best course of action is to get on our knees, pray for humility, surrender complete control of our life to the Lord, and ask Him to clearly reveal His will.

Picture a father spending time with his five year old son. The boy is running around the house trying to find something he can do that will impress Dad. Frustrated, the father says, “Please sit down and be with me; you’re driving me crazy. All I want to do is enjoy spending time with you. I love you.”

If God is saying this to you, let everything else go, and sit at his feet.

“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42

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An Open Letter from Chuck Swindoll Regarding Porn in the Church

The following is from an open letter Chuck Swindoll published in 2003:

“Our churches are in significant trouble. I’m not talking about financial trouble, or having too few staff doing too many things. Comparatively, those are easy problems to solve.

The problem is pornography, especially Internet pornography. Without your knowing, it could be eating your church alive. And the scariest thing is . . . you may not realize the extensive damage it’s causing.

The most recent studies available suggest that 1 out of every 2 people-that’s 50% of the people sitting in our pews, are looking at and/or could be addicted to Internet pornography. The struggle is going on among those who volunteer in your church and mine. Chances are good that some of our full-time staff members, even some who faithfully serve on our boards, may be losing this secret battle. And while I’m listing these possibilities, let’s not overlook our young adults-married and single-who provide instruction among our junior and senior high youth. Truth be told, that statistic could be even higher.

Stop and imagine the ugly but very real possibility of some of your own elders and deacons leaving your meetings and going home to surf porn. Think about youth leaders viewing it one minute, and leading a small group with your kids thirty minutes later. It’s ruining marriages, destroying relationships, harming youth, and hurting the body of Christ. You hardly need to be reminded that fallen pastors and priests did not “suddenly” fall. More often than not, pornography played a role in their downward spiral.

My friend, it’s time to do something about it. In fact, we need to start today. Making a difference requires action.”

Chuck Swindoll, The Secret Problem Lurking in My Church … and Yours, © 2003 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc.
All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. www.insight.org.

For a picture of what “taking action” looks like, see:

How Your Church Can Take on the Porn Epidemic

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More Reading

Healing a Broken Marriage

How Many Porn Addicts are in Your Church?

It’s Just a Little Porn; I’m no Sex Addict

Masturbation

Sexual Sobriety isn’t Enough

The Answer

The Destructive Force of Adultery

Winning the War in the Mind

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Quick Links

www.blazinggrace.org – Blazing Grace home page

www.blazinggrace.org/forums/ – a community for those who struggle with sexual sin and their spouses.

www.roadtograce.net – Site for Mike Genung’s book The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sex Addiction.

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Final Words

Where sin and sorrow stops, and the song of the saint starts. Do I really want to get there? I can right now. The questions that truly matter in life are remarkably few, and they are all answered by these words—“Come to me.” Our Lord’s words are not, “Do this, or don’t do that,” but—“Come to Me.” If I will simply come to Jesus, my real life will be brought into harmony with my real desires. I will actually cease from sin, and will find the song of the Lord beginning in my life.
Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost for His Highest.

©2006-2012 by Mike Genung. All Rights Reserved. The material in this newsletter may be reprinted for ministry purposes free of charge, as long as a link to www.roadtograce.net is included. No reprints allowed without written permission.