ADDICTION - How you get in. How you get out.

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I didn't have a clue...
 

...that my first viewing of pornography would result in a 25 year addiction that would cost me everything I held dear in my life. But rest assured, it didn't happen overnight. 

Because any addiction is a slow, insidious series of choices that will leave the most sincere and brilliant person wondering at the end... 
 

How did I get here?"
 

In fact, there is a fairly good chance that you are on some form of addiction path right now.

Don't think so? Then please do yourself a huge favor and read on. 

Though pornography was my most destructive addiction, trust me, it wasn't my only one. When we talk about addiction, we usually cover the big three -- alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. 

Let's expand the list. Here are a few more that too many people are hopelessly overcome by:

Gambling
Video games
Social media
Smartphones
Prescription pills
Risky behavior
Approval
Overeating
Shopping
Drama creation
Romance
Hoarding
Workaholism
Perfectionism

I could go on. 

Over the past 10 years, I have had to recognize several other potentially addictive behaviors in my life and combat them before they seized control of my life... 

...because any addictive behavior will eventually destroy some part of your life. Or all of it. 

The Romance Addict is obsessed with the feeling of "falling in love," but as soon as that feeling wears off, they will move on to another partner. This addiction will keep it's victim from ever having a stable, longterm relationship. 

The Food Addict is obsessed with food. They have no control over their eating habits and will eventually eat themselves into monumental health problems or early death. 

The Workaholic is obsessed with achievement. They have a will to win in the business of making money -- at any cost. They will sacrifice health, marriage and family for success. In the end, they may gain some small piece of this world, but will lose their soul in the process. 

So let's examine the addictive process. Here is how is my addiction to pornography happened:
 

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EXPERIMENTAL - I was tempted and made the choice to watch porn. I gave into SIN. I prayed and repented and didn't do it again. For about 3 months.

CASUAL - When I gave into porn again 3 months later, it moved me from experimental to casual in the addiction process. It started me on a road that would become HABITUAL. It wasn't long before I was giving in every couple weeks. I would still pray and repent, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to resist.

INTENSIVE - This is the stage when my behavior became a BESETTING sin.  The word besetting means simply to "be under constant attack." So now I am waking up each day under constant temptation that is becoming more and more difficult to resist. At this point, I am often giving in to these overwhelming desires to sin. 

COMPULSIVE - This is the stage that the scripture calls a STRONGHOLD. At this point, I moved from being "under constant attack" to "living in constant sin." I was now starting feel like my life was becoming unmanageable and I could see areas in my relationships, finances and career where this sin was beginning to wage a pretty heavy toll. 

ADDICTION - The final stage. At this point I was completely CAPTIVE to my sin. I didn't get up each day and choose to sin anymore. I had made so many choices over the course of time -- that now my sin had chosen me. I was unable to control my thoughts or my behavior and felt utterly hopeless in finding any way out. Now it was just an attempt to manage the monster inside. 

Friends... here is why it is so important to understand this process of addiction. If we learn to recognize the early signs of our behavioral descent towards addiction, we can still put a stop to it without completely upending our life. 

And trust me, that is huge!

Here's my experience with most people that are encountering addictive behavior in their life. They simply won't acknowledge it or confront in until they completely hit rock bottom. 

The writer of this proverb said it best:
 

"The prudent person sees trouble ahead and hides, but the naive continue on and suffer the consequences."

Proverbs 22:3 (ISV)

 

The Lord wants to give us the wisdom to see trouble ahead in and learn what it means "to hide" from the consequences of unhealthy behavior and choices.

Do any of these signs of addictive behavior describe you right now?

You spend a lot of your time thinking about your behavior: doing it more, how good you feel, or how bad you feel afterward.

You've lost interest in things you once liked to do.

You are hiding part of your behavior and the effect it is having on you from others.

You are having difficulty stopping yourself from your destructive behavior, even if you want to. 

You can see continuing in your behavior is going to result in bad things happening in your life, but you continue to take the risks.
 

If any of these signs describe how you are feeling right now, I just want you to know that I've been right where you are. I've felt the hopelessness, pain and loss of an out-of-control life. 

But I've also encountered the King of the Comeback. Without Jesus, there would have been no resurrection of my life. He walked me through a journey that brought complete restoration and freedom in my life. When he said that he came to "bring liberty to the captives," he meant it!

Look for part two of this 3 part teaching series soon!

Until then, I am praying for God's good grace to overtake you.

For your freedom,

Blaine
 

If you need coaching out of addiction...  click here and discover your path to complete freedom.

 

If you are a Pastor or conference leader… and are interested in having Blaine speak to your church or men's event,  click here and let’s plan something amazing!

 

If you would like to support us financially... click here and thank you for helping us make a difference in the lives of those who are fighting for freedom from addiction. 

When failure is an option.

 

I want to deposit a quick thought in your life today. 
 
EMBRACE THE UNANTICIPATED BEAUTY OF FAILURE.
 
Hey… not one of us sets out to fail. Win the game. Get the promotion. Make the sale. 
 
But failure is real. For all of us. And most often our greatest failure is not during a game or at work. We find ourselves going down for the count again and again in our private lives. 
 
The losing battle with our weight. 
Our out of control spending habits. 
An uncontrollable sexual addiction. 
 
How often have I echoed the Apostle Paul’s refrain…
 
“For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
Romans 7:19 NIV

 
And what we fail to realize is this. When we fail miserably, God has us right where he wants us. 
 
In complete need.
Utter brokenness. 
 
Let the death of self be complete. Why settle for resuscitation, when you can have resurrection? 
 
It is only when we fall on our faces in total desperation and admit that our own strength will never be enough, that Jesus is given space to work his grace. 
 
That’s why the same Paul would go on to write to the Christians at Corinth…
 
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV

 
Remind yourself of this today: Your strength is not found in a greater power of will. It is not found in a more disciplined course of commitment. Nor is it found in listening to the next Tony Robbin’s audio series. 
 
It is found in humility. It is found in the admission of our absolute inability to manage our life, emotions and outcomes in our own strength. 
 
Only Jesus. Your Kingdom come Lord. Because mine is crumbling and weak. And I know when your Kingdom comes to rest in my life, the strength you will bring -- will far exceed the powers of trial and temptation in my world. 
 
I can testify to this. My sin was out of control and I had become powerless to stop it. When I finally found the courage to face the death in my life, the power of resurrection began to emerge. And the strength I feel today is not my own. 
 
It is his. And it humbles me. 
 
I pray for you today. Lord, let each of us die to the constant resuscitation of self. Let the old be buried and the robust power of Christ be resurrected in our lives. Amen.
 
I hope your day is filled with the whisper of the Spirit in your life. He is your good shepherd -- may you follow well. 
 
One of the joys I have each week, is pouring into the lives of men who are struggling and want to learn how to live a resurrected life! If I can help you with some coaching, just complete the form here and we will get connected right away. 

May God’s richest goodness and grace find you everyday,
 
Blaine

Answering your Critics

 

Today, I want to share some brief thoughts on how we react to our critics. Because I believe shame, unforgiveness and bitterness are some of the most powerful triggers to addiction and unhealthy behavior, I believe it is important to know how to respond when we feel attacked. 

So here are two simple principles:

1. LEARN FROM YOUR CRITICS BUT DON'T ACCEPT THIER SHAMING. 

There is usually some element of truth we can find in most critisism that comes our way. But often the spirit in which it is delivered can be filled with shame and become emotionally sabotaging. We are not our mistakes!

Understand the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt says we have done wrong. Shame says we are wrong. Guilt says we have done evil. Shame says we are evil. 

Invite people into your life that are your advocates, willing to guide you through your mistakes, but with compassion and grace. 
 

2. RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO VALIDATE YOURSELF TO OTHERS.

Some of the most destructive moments in our lives are when we allow our ego and pride to get the best of us. There are simply times in our life when we should not feel compelled to prove people wrong and "self-protect."

As wise as Jesus was, there were times he chose to keep silent.
 

"The high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent.
Matthew 26:62-63 (NASB)


I wrote this prose awhile back as a reminder to myself.

 

SOMETIMES SILENCE

Sometimes silence is the answer for those accused of wrong.
Silence is not for the weak. Only the strong. 

 

Silence is faiths quiet resistance to the challenge you are in.
It will not bring dignity to the webs an enemy may spin.

 

Silence is our freedom to be misunderstood by men.
It is the divine understanding of knowing when not to say when.


It is giving up the demands to hear and be heard.
Putting an end to the noise of assertions that have been blurred.

 

When invited to the den of malnourished lions, pleased to rip and tear.
When thrown into a furnace flaming with ultimatums deemed unfair. 

 

We may find silence to be our friend. 
It may be silence, God will send.
 


Lori and I are praying for your strength to not only outlast your unfairest of critics, but to gloriously love them back into kingdom grace and Jesus goodness.  

We are 8 days away from our Kickstarter Campaign's end. And we have reached our goal of $10,000 and have adopted a stretch goal of $3000 more to be able to add 1000 more books to our order.  Thank you to all of you who have so generously supported us. If you would like to help us cross the finish line here is how you can partner with us. 

Grace always,

Blaine Bartel
Comeback Coach. Resurrectionist. Jesus flag-waver. 

RESOURCES FOR YOU

For mentoring and coaching, click here.
To inquire about Blaine speaking at your church or event, click here.
For more information on Blaine's new resources, click here.

 

What Keeps me From Going Back?

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So when someone catches me in a vulnerable moment at dinner or coffee, this is one of my most asked questions...

"Blaine.... after coming out of 25 years of such a crazy life of sexual addiction, what keeps you from going back?"

Fair question. You know why? 

Because we former addicts lived on the edge. Total adventure. High adrenaline. Out of control craziness. And it's easy for a former addict to only remember the "mad as a hatter" insanely fun moments of our past lives. And a very real temptation for many is to return... one more night... one more drink... one more encounter...  --- especially in moments of pain, stress, rejection or loneliness. 

And... did you know only 30% of people that enter (and pay $$$$'s for) addiction recovery programming actully find freedom. And these are only the figures for those that stay in a program for ONE YEAR. It doesn't include those who drop out!

So what has made me one of the exceptions to the norm? There are honestly several major contributors, but I want to share one in particular with you today. 

Rewind to dinner a couple weeks ago with my oldest son Jeremy. 

We were sharing a meal together at Daddy Jack's, our favorite little supper haunt in Dallas and I asked him something...

 


 

"Bub... it's been seven years since I put you through a living hell.... Is there anything lingering from that time in your life that you are still trying to get past?

His answer was thoughtful and direct... "Dad... there are times that I find myself fearing that it will happen again." 

And there you have it. The most powerful deterrent in my life today. 

I am completely committed (and those words aren't even powerful enough) to never... ever... put the people I love the most through any more pain and heartache. 

As I began to tell Jeremy this, he stopped me mid-sentence and said softly, "Dad... you don't have to say it. I  know how hard you have worked and I am so proud of the man you've become. I just don't want the beauty of the life we share today to ever change."

What a profound conversation. 

So my word today is simple: Remember the pain. The pain we've caused another through our anger or dishonesty or pride... or simply not being there when we were needed most. 

I am not advocating going to a place of shame. Or regret. But simply reminding yourself why living the resurrected life is worth it. Reminding yourself that the greatest gift you can receive from another human being is the gift of trust. 

Protect it. It matters. 

Thank you to all of you who have helped fund our Kickstarter Campaign. We are getting so close to raising $10,000 for our new "CHOPPING WOOD COLLECTIVE." 

This new book, video and audio collection is going to revolutionize the lives of both men and women caught in the pain of pornography and sexual brokenness. 

If you haven't had a chance, please take a moment to watch our video and read our story. And then peruse all the amazing rewards we have put together for our backers. 

Thank you for making this a reality!

Grace always,

Blaine

RESOURCES FOR YOU

For mentoring and coaching, click here.
To inquire about Blaine speaking at your church or event, click here.
For learn more about Blaine's Kickstarter Campaign, click here.

Five Ways Porn Sabotages Marriages

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Today, I want to take a few minutes to give you five ways that porn sabotages marriages. 

There is the false notion in the minds of some men that porn is a private sin that really does not effect anyone else. This is the greatest deception you could ever believe about pornography. 

Here are the five: 

1. Porn creates irrational expectations

When you view porn you are looking at actors, not reality. They are paid to do the things they do and each scene is carefully staged to take men and women to places in their mind that are far, far away from in real life and relationships.

The actors are usually "air-brushed" perfect and you can turn them off when you are done watching and never hear from them again. This is not real life and suddenly sex with your spouse can seem mundane, resulting in avoidance of intimacy which quickly will deteriorate your connection together. 

2. Porn steals time away from your marriage.

Statistics tell us the men who watch porn, often spend hours (and not minutes) a day searching, sifting and watching the myriad of videos available on today's internet. These are hours that are lost to their wives and family. (not to mention your career)

3. Porn produces shame in relationships.

Whether your wife is aware of your porn problem or not, she will sense the shame she sees in your countenance when you are together. It is natural for you to experience the guilt and shame when you are with her. You know you are choosing other women over her. And shame pushes us away (Adam and Eve in the garden), it doesn't draw us closer. 

4. Eventually she will find out. 

As good as men hide it, realize that wives are even better at finding it. They have a women's intuition and certain "spidey senses" when it comes to our secrets. And when exposure of this sin happens, the loss of trust with your spouse will be unbelievably damaging, if not fatal to your marriage. 

5. Porn addiction is an expensive proposition. 

When exposure of your obsession (or addiction) to porn does come out, (and it will) recovering from this stronghold in your life will cost you a lot money that was supposed to be used for your family. Rehabilitation and counseling, which often takes 12-18 months will cost you tens of thousands of dollars. It will demand time away from work and sometimes even the loss of a job. And this doesn't just hurt you, it is devastating for your family. 

Of course, there are many more ways the porn and sexual brokenness can sabotage your marriage, but suffice to say, it is worth everything you have to let Jesus into your private battle and get help now. 

I have developed a program that I offer to men called RESURRECT777.  

 

 

I walk you though the 7 secrets, the 7 tools and the 7 practices for real resurrection from this awful addiction. We can do this in person one-on-one or through Skype or FaceTime. If you are interesting in knowing more click here and complete the coaching form and we will send you all the details.

Grace always,

Blaine Bartel
Comeback Coach. Resurrectionist. Jesus flag-waver. 

HUGE PS. If you are not signed up for "THE LAST WEEK OF MY LIFE" seven day email and Live Video journey leading into Easter, just click below and you can be a part. The anticipation I have for this week is really unexplainable. I hope you will join me!

SIGN UP HERE

 

Ever got Caught?

 

Have you ever got caught? 

Hands in the cookie jar?
Exceeding the speed limit?
In bed with someone else's spouse?

There was a certain woman in scripture that would answer "yes" on the last question. 

There is much to be learned about sin, forgiveness and freedom in the story of the woman caught in adultery. (John 8) In studying this passage and researching commentaries, I discovered several conservative scholars and pastors that have actually tried to make a case over the centuries to have this story removed from the canon of scripture. 

Their reason? Jesus simply went to far. He was way too gracious and forgiving. 

Some people… especially the really naughty people… deserve a severity of punishment for their sins. The law demanded it. Yet this scandalous account of sin and forgiveness remains in the sacred text. The religious crowd was ready to commence a public execution of this woman. As they called for her death, Jesus quietly bent over and began to run His finger through the dust. 

And whatever He wrote that day changed everything. 

Her accusers dropped their stones. They walked away.

What did Jesus draw in the dust? What is He drawing in our dust?

I have my opinions on exactly what He wrote but I will tell you this: there was deliverance in that dirt. The beauty of a new beginning. 

The story ends with five formidable words from our Savior, “Go and sin no more.” 

Was that even possible? If so, how would she overcome what had perhaps been a lifetime of shameful behavior? And more importantly for you and I today… how do we win the day over our sin and the shame that at times seems to follow us like a shadow… a stalker in the night?

The answer is so simple that we miss it. 

Let Jesus into your story. Let Him speak. The words "Go and sin no more" were more than a command. They were a spirit-empowered new way of living that He spoke into the very depths of her soul. I believe that one encounter with Jesus changed everything for that woman. 

So how do we let Jesus into our story? 

Christ comes in through the community of church. 

Christ comes in through a morning prayer.

Christ comes in through coffee with a brother or sister.

Christ comes in through the coaching of a mentor.

Christ comes in thorough the whisper of the Spirit at the gym.

We must make space in our lives for Christ to come in. My prayer is that Jesus would find you in the margins of your life and help you to re-imagine a world grander and wider than the one you're living.

Ok... before closing, I have to say how beyond excited about Easter Week 2107. During the Passion Week, I am going share my personal journal with you. I will invite you to witness the wildest, most frightening week of my life, which was the week leading up to Easter 2010. 

Why? Because I believe you are going to be encounter the King of the Comeback. 

Now seven years removed from that fateful Sunday, this Easter will be "Lazarus Party" for Lori and I. That is the day we will introduce my brand new book, "The Seven Dirty Little Secrets of Resurrection," subtitled "My crash, my confession and my comeback from sexual addiction." 

So here's what is going to happen Easter week:

1) I am going to share a series of seven emails that candidly rehearse the events of each day that brought me to the grave.

2) I plan to embed in the heart of every participant the seven secrets the Lord gave me for real, experiential resurrection. 

3) On Good Friday, I will share a LIVE VIDEO, where we will conduct a burial of the mortal enemies of sin, brokenness and failure in our lives. 

4) At sunrise Easter morning, our journey together will culminate with a LIVE VIDEO of "COME FORTH" prayer for the resurrection seeds Jesus has planted in your life.

5) You will also receive the first chapter of my brand new book, "The Seven Dirty Little Secrets of Resurrection."

If you would like to be a part of this journey together, just click here and sign up today.

ASK YOURSELF RIGHT NOW... WHAT DOES JESUS WANT TO RESURRECT IN YOUR LIFE THIS EASTER?

Let's believe God for miracles that week!

Blaine Bartel
Comeback Coach. Resurrectionist. Jesus flag-waver. 

RESOURCES FOR YOU

For mentoring and coaching, click here.
To inquire about Blaine speaking at your church or event, click here.
For info our upcoming Pastor’s Roundtable with Ruth Graham, click here.
For more information on Blaine's new resources, click here.

What Would I Tell my 23 Year old Self?

WHAT WOULD ITELL MY 23YEAR OLD SELF?.png

 

This is not a note of regret.

Rather, it is reminder of all that is important in my life today. The photograph above was taken in 1983 of me preaching in my first youth group in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Did I have any idea I I would host a national television show three years later? Did I have ever dream that I would pastor the largest student ministry in America? 

No. But yes. 

While I had doubts about the success I would find in ministry, I would be lying if I said I didn’t dream of doing all that I accomplished in the first 40 years of my life. As many of you know, eventually my life on the fast-track of success would result in the loss of my soul.

But it didn’t have to.

"Moments of achievement don’t ruin anyone. Being unprepared for the moment will ruin us."

So what would I tell this 23 year old kid, brimming with passion and dreams? 

Keep chopping wood. 

Because no matter how bright the blaze, every fire is doing one thing. It’s burning out. 

Keep doing the hard things. The mundane. The stuff that got the fire going in the first place.

Here’s the short list:

Sabbath. 

Not because it’s a break from work, but because it continually redefines why we work.

Remain grounded. 

Because popularity is always the straying lover. 

Say no to good stuff. 

Because one day there will be a “yes” to one of a million good things that will topple the house of cards.

Talk deeply about your struggles. 

Enslavement is a struggle that we refused to trust a friend with. A conversation we never had.

Find first century heroes. 

Read about the early Church Fathers. The call to community and the sacrifices endured will alter our perspective on what it means to live faithfully. 

Pray the Lord’s Prayer three times daily. 

This was a practice of early Christians. It centers us. Reminds us what is important. And brings a little more of heaven to earth. 

Live a life greater than your expectations. 

Not everything you hope for is going to happen. People are going to let you down. YOU are going to let you down. Find joy in the moment. Each person you meet. Each breath you take. Give all, but live free. 

Live loved. 

God loves you. End of story. Love is not God’s paycheck for performance. When we fail to believe that goodness and mercy are following us, the wolfish predators of shame and self-hatred will always be on our heels. 

Do not be afraid to ask for help. 

When I was in the throes of my bondage to porn and lust, I allowed fear to arrest me from getting help. What if my ministry was taken away? What would people think of me? Here's what I know today. It would have saved my ministry. And people would have admired my courage to be honest. 

So pick up your axe. There’s still wood to be chopped.

I am so excited about Easter Week 2107. It is going to be a monumental celebration for Lori and I. That is the day we will introduce my brand new book, "The Seven Dirty Little Secrets of Resurrection," subtitled "My crash, my confession and my comeback from sexual addiction." 

 

 

I believe there are seeds for resurrection living in all of us who have embraced the work of Christ.

That week, we will engage in a resurrection journey together.

I so look forward to chronicling the story of "The Final Week of my Life" in a series of seven emails during Passion Week leading up to Easter Sunday, April 16th. I will candidly rehearse the happenings of each day that put me in the grave, but more importantly, I will share the seven secrets that empowered me to resurrection.

If you have not signed up to receive this email series, click here and hit the join button.

Let's pray together as we move towards Easter. I am believing that the Lord is going resurrect new hope, new assignments and new passion in your life

Blaine Bartel
Comeback Coach. Resurrectionist. Jesus flag-waver. 

RESOURCES FOR YOU

For mentoring and coaching, click here.
To inquire about Blaine speaking at your church or event, click here.
For info our upcoming Pastor’s Roundtable with Ruth Graham, click here.

 

5 Reasons Why Smart, Successful (and Sincere) Christian Men Watch Porn

 

There I was. At a $10,000 a week Addiction Recovery Center in Phoenix. 

I was sitting apprehensively in our first “group work” session and we were going around the circle telling total strangers about the darkest demons lurking in our souls. There was some pretty crazy stuff being shared in that first gathering. And the thing was, these all looked like highly successful men. Not one had those blank empty “serial killer” eyes. 

Getting to know all these men really well over the next week, I found out a few things. 

One was an owner of a massive million dollar company. Another was the manager of one of the biggest pop stars in America. Still another was a super successful book publisher. 

And they were all very sincere Christians. And all very addicted to porn and sexual vice. 

And I was no different. I enjoyed my own version of success over the years in the world of Christian ministry. Television shows. Christian conference speaker. Best-selling books. And very sincere about my faith in Jesus.

Yet there I was with them. Ugliness and all. 

Today, as I coach men out of this darkness, I’ve noticed the same trend. Very successful leaders. Very sincere Christians. And smart. So why are so many smart men making so many stupid choices? And here's another question... why is porn so prevalent among the pious? 

If we think porn is some foreign enemy that has never tiptoed it’s way into the church, think again.

Steve Farrar in his book Finishing Strong,” shared this story…

“A number of years ago a national conference for church youth directors was held at a major hotel in a city in the mid-west. Youth pastors by the hundreds flooded into that hotel and took nearly every room. At the conclusion of the conference, the hotel manager told the conference administrator that the number of guests who tuned into the adult movie channel broke the previous record, far and away outdoing any other convention in the history of the hotel.”

Huh? A group of youth pastors set the new record for porn movies in a hotel? 

A recent Christianity Today survey confirms this story:

  • 21% of Christian men say they think they might be “addicted” to pornography. (compared to 10% of non- Christian men). 
  • 54% of pastors said they had viewed Internet pornography within the last year, and 30% of these had visited within the last 30 days. 

I believe there are five reasons why there are so many smart, successful (and sincere) Christian men watching porn: 

1. The smart and successful ARE USED TO WINNING.

Porn and sexual vice is just another battle they can win alone, right? Wrong. 

When high achievers encounter problems, they always have a plan to overcome. They figure out a way to make the sale or find new customers or recruit a better employee. So when they finally find themselves being consumed with pornography and the collateral damage that comes with it, that “just win” reflex kicks in. They try to will their way to quitting. After all, it’s just images. "How could that be stronger than me?" 

But it has become more than images. It’s a deeply embedded, highly addictive, chemically induced playground that has taken years to build in your mind. And you aren’t going to take it down alone. 

That’s why the scripture says, 

“Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 (NRSV)

Don’t believe the lie. You don’t beat this enemy by yourself. Find a trustworthy friend, pastor or counselor that you can share your story with and figure out a path of freedom.

2. Successful men are often too busy being successful to maintain intimacy in their marriage.

It’s not that successful don’t love their wives. It's just that high achievers can get so busy providing for their family that they no longer have time for them. Odd huh? That we work so hard for the very people we are losing in the process. Every man has a love and intimacy bucket. And if your bucket is not being filled at home, you will eventually find yourself trying to fill it in other places. 

If you’re too busy to enjoy regular romantic outings with your wife, you’re too busy. If you’re too busy for evenings relaxing together after work, you’re too busy. If you’re not having good sex on a consistent basis with your wife, you’re too busy. 

You never lose it all overnight. But you will lose it all over time, if you don’t make marital adjustments. 

3. Successful people tend to travel. 

High achievers are always going places. Conferences. Speaking events. Sales trips. Golf get-aways. You name it. Being away, especially when you are alone, offers anonymity, loneliness during downtime and a pandora's box of temptations. 

Whether it’s X-rated hotel movies, a woman at a bar or the strip club down the street, there is always something ready to take both your money and your soul. 

So here are my suggestions for safe travels. (besides wearing a seat belt in the rental car)

  • Avoid traveling alone whenever you can. 
  •  If you are alone, try to stay with a friend or colleague in the city you are going.
  • When away, over communicate with your spouse. Call and talk often.
  • Avoid downtime like the plague. 
  • If staying at a hotel, ask them to turn off the adult movie option. 
  • Take a book or a work project to give your time to in your spare moments.

4. Overwork, exhaustion and success are a dangerous cocktail for entitlement.

It’s the whole “Solomon principle.” 

“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.” Ecclesiastes 2:10 NIV

Solomon was one of the most wealthy and successful men in the history of the world. Basically he was saying here, “Hey, I’ve worked extremely hard for what I’ve got and I’m going to enjoy the rewards of all the hours I’ve put in!”

Addicts thrive on entitlement. 

“I’ve been through a lot of crap.”

“I put in 80 hours last week.”

“My wife doesn’t meet my needs.”

Me. Me. Me.

Hey, I’m not saying you haven’t earned the right to enjoy the fruits of your success. You have. But you have not earned the right to be unfaithful. So how do we handle our sense of entitlement? 

Sabbath. 

Creating sabbath in our life does three important things for us:

  1. It gives us time rest and rejuvenate our life and bodies together.
  2. It sets time aside to give thanks to God for all good things.
  3. It calls us into a community of Jesus people that help care for our soul. 

And lastly... and this is extremely profound. Wait for it... 

4. We are men. 

I know, powerful right?

But hey, we are all men. And no man reading this is simpleminded enough to think the lure we feel towards the forbidden is only targeting the rich and famous. Sexual brokenness reaches across every economic, racial and religious demographic. 

Men were created to enjoy sex. To want sex. And sex is absolutely amazing. 

If you are waiting for the Christian caveat of “as long as it’s inside a marriage relationship,” keep waiting. Because you won’t find many guys who are engaging sexual vice outside of their marriage that say they hate it. 

But they will tell you they hate what it is doing to their soul. 

As a man who lived in the chains of sexual addiction for 25 years and saw everything he held dear taken away as a result, all I can tell you is this:

 Get the help you need NOW if you are struggling on any level.  

I am pleased to offer you three amazing opportunities to get on freedom’s road:

1. Subscribe to “The Final Week of my Life” Series

 

 

I will be chronicling the story of "The Final Week of my Life" in a series of seven emails during Passion Week leading up to Easter Sunday, April 16th. I will candidly rehearse the happenings of each day that put me in the grave, but more importantly, I will share the seven secrets that empowered me to resurrection.

I'd love to include you in this seven day devotional journey together leading into Easter. Just click here and sign up to be a part. I am so excited! I believe resurrection life is going to be poured out that week!!

2. Live Free Men’s Freedom Experience

 

 

Live Free is a transformational weekend experience that I host for men based on the ground breaking recovery program that equips men in the The 7 Step Resurrection Task Model. This weekend is designed to create a brand new way of living, free from porn, sexual brokenness and addiction. Here are the details.

3. Personal Coaching

Walking through your challenges or addictions with a wise, caring coach is the best possible beginning to overcome your failures, find new direction, and transform your life in a meaningful way.  Over and over again, I have seen these coaching conversations become the difference between death and resurrection. I would love to help you! All the info is right here. 

 

I'm Going to let you in on a Little Secret

 

Ok. I’m going to let you in a little secret. 

I’ve written nearly 20 books. Sold around 300,000 of them over the years. And every book I’ve written to date has taken me little more than a month to write. 

The book I’m about to publish has taken 5 years. It’s the most important assignment that the Lord has ever given me. I believe it is going to help thousands of men break the power of lust and sexual bondage over their lives. 

The title of the book is “The 7 Dirty Little Secrets of Resurrection.” The subtitle describes the content perfectly, “My confession, my crash and my comeback from sexual addiction.”

We are publishing it ourselves because Christian publishers have said it’s too honest. They wanted to sanitize it. 

When the Spirit prompted me to share my story, I knew I had to do three things:

1. Be perfectly transparent about my journey. 

2. Help every reader discover why pornography and sexual sin is such a menacing enemy to the soul.

3. Share the seven secrets God gave me to rise out of the ashes of addiction, loss and devastation. 

I thought I would give you a sneak peak at what is coming.

Here is a brief segment from one of the early chapters:


“It was a beautiful spring day in Frisco, Texas, a bustling, from-the-box suburb north of Dallas. It was just warm enough to make life enjoyable, but without being overbearing or causing the day-long complaints that eventually come with the onset of summer. 

In the midst of this beauty, down amongst the exhaust fumes and newly laid concrete of Legacy Drive—essentially a six-lane highway and one of the busiest streets in Frisco—Curtis McKenzie was out for a stroll. He stumbled along in mud-caked jeans, shuffling in a mostly straight line straight down the center of Legacy, distractedly sparking a Bic lighter with one hand while cupping his other hand around the cigarette dangling loosely between his lips. 

He wanted one last smoke before God took him, but the damn thing wouldn’t light. 

Curtis took no notice of the abrasive honking, of the squealing rubber of suddenly averting tires as vehicles on this highly trafficked road swerved to avoid hitting him. He was too involved in that final cigarette to care about any of that. 

Too focused on the perfect mess he’d made of his life. 

Curtis wanted out of that mess, and just like the blindfolded prisoners in classic films are given one final smoke before they face the firing squad, he felt entitled to this conclusive Marlboro Light. 

Plus, if he was looking down at his lighter, he might not see the face of whatever unfortunate motorist wound up taking him out.

Just minutes before this ill-conceived stroll, Curtis had looked into his parents’ eyes and told them everything. It was the last of the face-to-face confessions he’d made that day, finally opening up and shocking his loved ones—his wife, his kids—with the truth about his double life.

His secret identity.
Curtis McKenzie was me.

Blaine Bartel—that’s my real name. Ask anyone who knew me then and they’d tell you I was a great guy. As far as they knew, anyway. Sure, I wasn’t perfect—didn’t have a perfect marriage or perfect kids—but everything was going great. My ministry was flourishing, my boys were well-adjusted, and though my wife and I had our problems, those problems didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary. Not even to her. 

No, Blaine Bartel was not a bad guy. He loved his wife and children. He was fiercely devoted to Christ and to God’s kingdom, relentlessly and fearlessly living out the divine assignments of his God-ordained purpose. He was the “man of God” in his family, the voice that trumpeted the Good News of the gospel around the world, both in pulpits and on airwaves. He was the author of books, the host of national television shows, the always-humble rock star who rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in the Christian entertainment complex. 

Curtis McKenzie? That guy loved only himself. His eyes were glassy, intoxicated with pleasure. His voice gave only throaty howls of entitlement. His imagination knew no depth to its depravity, and it was a wellspring of death, incessantly gurgling forth new ideas to torture Blaine with. His power over Blaine seemed overwhelming, powered by the lethal, cold-blooded killer known as the god of gratification. 

God had raised Blaine up. 
And Curtis was bringing him down.”


This short excerpt is just the beginning of what I believe will be one of the most heart-rending and inspiring books you’ve ever read.

While it begins with the tale of my slow descent into death, the fascinating power of the resurrection Jesus bestowed in my life will bring hope to every man that has ever struggled with their own inner demons and fear.

We are just weeks away from launching a Kickstarter Campaign to raise the money to publish this book. We are still researching the final budget for all the production, but I believe the costs will around $10,000.00. 

Here’s what I am humbly asking of you as a friend or colleague today. 

Just pray. 

Pray that the Lord will provide. Pray for the hearts of people will be touched to help us. We must get this out to the thousands (perhaps millions) of men who are trapped in this cycle of sin and pain... and feel beyond repair.

Thank you for praying and believing in us. 

Grace always,

Blaine Bartel
Comeback Coach. Resurrectionist. Jesus flag-waver. 

PS. This book will actually be a part of a compilation of resources, called “Chopping Wood.” It will include the book, a training video for men on sexual purity and audio coaching for spouses who are suffering through the pain of betrayal. 

 

Are you Climbing a Mountain with Moses or Jesus?

 

I grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Canada. Growing up skiing I stood at the top of the highest mountains in our country. The views were amazing. I could see forever. See everything. It is the closest thing to seeing through the eyes of God. 

And yet, in the most spiritual sense, who you climb the mountain with matters. 

Moses climbed a mountain to receive the ten commandments. He climbed alone. He came down with rules. And the people failed at checking all the boxes. We all failed. That was the purpose of the law. It was a school teacher. Paul told the Galatians “…the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3:24) 

Jesus on the other hand, invited his disciples to climb a mountain with him. They climbed together. And they didn’t come down with rules. They descended with a revelation.

The mount of transfiguration is the ultimate revelation of who God is... at least for me. When Jesus goes to the top of a mountain with Peter, James and John, something amazing happens. Transfigured before them is Moses (the Law), Elijah (the Prophets) and of course the Son, Jesus. 

Suddenly, Moses and Elijah disappear and only Jesus is left. 

Then the Father speaks from the heavens.

"This is my beloved Son, listen to Him” 

Do we see it? 

Jesus completely eclipsed the law and the prophets. 

Jesus is the exact representation of God. He alone is who we listen to. Everything that came before Him, fell short of showing us what God was really like. The law fell short. The prophets fell short. Their only job was to show us our need for the Son. 

We don't find our freedom or faith in the Old Testament. God isn't speaking to us anymore through the law and the prophets. They had their purpose in pointing us to the Son, but they should disappear from our gaze to know God. Jesus is enough. Jesus is all. Listen to Him. 

I believe in the mystery and wonder of God made flesh in Jesus Christ.

He is what God looks like. He is what God acts like. He is what God has to say.

Truly God, He became truly man, two natures in one person. He was born of the Virgin Mary and lived among us. Crucified, dead, and buried, He rose on the third day, ascended to heaven, and will come again in glory and judgment.

For us, he kept the law we couldn’t keep. He gave us grace we didn’t deserve. He took our filthy rags and gave us his righteous robe.

We will never overcome our leanings toward lust by setting out each day to keep the rules. If we are to win the battle, we must take a new approach:

Go up the mountain with friends. Jesus never invites you to travel alone. 
Live by revelation, not rules. See Jesus. Listen to Jesus. Love Jesus. 
Stop the shame. It will suck the life of God right out of you.
Embrace his grace. God loves you. Period. Not if… 

This one revelation changed everything in my coming out of pornography and sexual addiction. My belief about God and understanding about who he truly is was critical in how I approached him for strength in my resistance to sin. Where once I feared God was angry and punitive, now I knew him to be loving and redemptive. This caused me to run to him, not away from him. And the more I ran to Jesus, the more I became like him.

You’ve already broken all the rules. Get over it. It’s time for a revelation of the Savior. 

Anatomy of a Comeback

7 things we can learn from the Cavs, the Cubs and the Patriots.

 

 

Three teams. On the biggest stage in their sport. The NBA Finals. The World Series. And the Super Bowl.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were down 3 games to 1 to the World Champion, Golden State Warriors.

The Chicago Cubs were down 3 games to 1 to the Cleveland Indians.

The New England Patriots were down 25 points in the 3rd quarter to the Atlanta Falcons.

All three of these teams pulled together and came back to win it all. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you have to respect ‘em. While sports and life are world’s apart in terms of significance, we can find some useful parallels in looking at the anatomy of a sports comeback.

What do you need to come back from?

Is porn winning the battle for your mind? Or perhaps you’re struggling with a marriage that has entered the Land of Suck. Maybe your jcareer trajectory has taken a dive into the deep end of a pool full of cow dung. All is not lost my friend.

Here are 7 things we can learn from the Cavs, the Cubs and the Patriots.  

 

1. Just because you are losing, doesn’t mean you are a loser.

Don’t let losing define you. You can lose and still be a winner. Each of these teams proved that. Invite God to create the definition of who you really are. I love the passage where the Apostle Paul writes to the church community in Rome and reminds them,

“What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?” (Romans 8:31-32 NRSV)

Remind yourself everyday that God is for you. And let’s just believe for one hot minute that’s true. That kinda puts everything that is against you at a pretty serious disadvantage.

 

2. You don’t have to be perfect to win.

Quit trying to be perfect. It’s like opening a bag of chips and expecting the bag to be full. It isn’t going to happen. How about progress rather that perfection?

Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson said this about Terry Bradshaw, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers before Super Bowl XIII… “He [Terry Bradshaw] couldn’t spell ‘CAT’ if you spotted him the ‘C’ and the ‘T.’”  After Bradshaw went out and threw for four touchdowns, Henderson responded “I didn’t say he couldn’t play, just that he couldn’t spell.”

I have flaws. You have flaws. The secret is to get our eyes off our flaws and failures and begin focusing on our strengths. God has designed your inner Batman to overcome all of your Riddlers, Jokers and Penguins.

 

3. Be like Journey. Don’t stop believing.

“Funny thing,” said Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels after winning Super Bowl 51. “When we came out after halftime, “Bill Belichick [Head Coach] said to me, ‘We’ll be okay. Our guys believe. They will fight their ass off.’

There is something profound about belief. Jesus told us all things are possible to those that simply…. believe. Guard your heart against the doubt and fear that bombards all of us in a world of “can’ts” and “nevers.” Believing doesn’t mean you have everything figured out and know exactly how you are going to come back from certain death.

It just means you lean into trust. That somehow. Some way. It’s going to happen.

 

4. Have the courage to declare your comeback.

More than two decades ago, who could have guessed that the Cubs would win the World Series this year??

Mike Lee, that's who.

According to WGN, the then-California resident's senior quote in his 1993 high school yearbook offered a prediction that came true Wednesday, November 2, 2016, when the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians to win their first World Series since 1908.

"Chicago Cubs. 2016 World Champions," reads the quote under Lee's photo in the 1993 annual for Mission Viejo High School. "You heard it here first."

Wow.

There is something powerful about declaring a comeback out of your own mouth. I mean out loud. I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken over my own life and future. Stuff like… “You are going to have the greatest comeback ever…. and… you are going to accomplish twice as much in the second half of your life as you did in the first half!”

The writer of Proverbs passes on this little wisdom pearl, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Are you using your tongue to create resurrection or a grave?

 

5. Do the little things.

“Respect 90.”

That was the message that was painted along the first-base line in the Cub’s spring training field. And it was the only phrase in Joe Maddon’s [Cub’s Manager] Twitter bio. In April, he explained that he was “going to make a daily push for our players to respect that distance… run hard for 90 feet to first base, and the respect will come back to you.” The phrase derives from a plane ride in which Maddon was stuck in the middle seat of the flight and heard the woman next to him say, “Whatever you put out there will come back to you.”

Often when we find ourselves immersed in failure or sin, we are looking for some miraculous way out of our mess. But the simple truth is, comebacks happen one hour, one day, one month and one year at at time.

Do the little things. Rise early. Make good choices. Read and grow. Tell your wife you love her. Make your own list… and watch the little things create something great.

 

6. If you have to make history, then do it.

Just because it hasn’t been done, doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

No team had ever rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals. In fact, only three teams out of 33 have even forced an NBA Finals Game 7 after trailing 3-1. The other two teams are the 1951 New York Knicks (against the Rochester Royals) and the 1966 Los Angeles Lakers (against the Boston Celtics). But that didn’t stop Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers from coming back and making history.

Some days I will just read through the Guinness Book of World Records and try to find something I can do that has never been done. We were created by God to be history makers.

 

7. Let your enemies motivate you, not master you.

Even though I am a huge Warriors fan, I have to respect what Lebron James said after winning the NBA finals last year.

"When I decided to leave Miami -- I'm not going to name any names, I can't do that -- but there were some people that I trusted and built relationships with in those four years [who] told me I was making the biggest mistake of my career," James told ESPN.com just outside the Raiders' locker room. "And that s--- hurt me…. they told me it was the biggest mistake I was making in my career. And that right there was my motivation."

Not everyone will be on our side. People will question our intentions and ability to rise out of the ashes. But our job is not to fight them. Our job is to fight the real enemy… the obstacles that stand in our way and the lies running through our head that tell us it can’t be done.  

When I crashed and burned 7 years ago, I had plenty of enemies and detractors. Rightfully so. I had failed them and they deserved to be upset. Stories would get back to me about how awful everyone was saying the rest of my life was going to be…. that I would never see the light of day again.

For me, it was never about getting even. It was about proving to everyone that Jesus was still in the resurrection business.

And He is. He calling you out of the grave. Dig out of the damn dirt.

It’s time for your greatest comeback.