As a counselor, I have spoken with so many people who struggle with knowing the difference between the voices of conviction and condemnation. Let’s start simple. If you are a person who has accepted Christ, and are trying to live for Him, this takes precedence over anything else you need to know:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1
When Jesus speaks to you, He will speak to you according to the fruit of the Spirit which are:
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control
Some of the most common thoughts people wrestle with are, “You are dirty, you are not good enough, you will never be enough. You are hopeless, you will never get through this. God doesn’t want to help you, why should He help you?” And many others…..
A quick glance of this list of thoughts, next to the fruits of the Spirit shows us that NONE of these thoughts resemble the fruit of the Spirit. These thoughts cannot be from God. Conviction comes from God, condemnation comes from our flesh or the enemy of our soul.
Before Jesus died, both Judas and Peter betrayed him. But both of those men dealt with their failures very differently. Judas, as most of his know, ended his life. Peter, however, let God forgive him and thrust him into ushering the church age. Judas listened to the voice of condemnation. Peter yielded to the voice of conviction. Judas’ decision led him to death. Peter’s decision led him to a life of living out his God ordained purpose.
Unquestionably, both Peter and Judas failed the Lord. Often our failure first comes with conviction, but we let that conviction morph into condemnation. God’s purpose is never that conviction would cause condemnation. NEVER. That is why His Word states that there is NOW no condemnation. In other words, every moment you are in is a “NOW” moment. Therefore, every moment you are in is a moment that you are called to be free from condemnation.
So much of our walk with Christ is a walk of faith. Will you say along with me right now, “Lord, by Your grace and by faith I choose to walk in conviction and not condemnation. I will yield my mind to what You say is true. I will not bow to thoughts that bring anything less than abundant life”.
“Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.’So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.’ “ (Exodus 4:10-12)
I have an amazing young client that I have been working with (I am writing this blog with her permission). Recently we have been tackling some of the lies that she believes about herself, and she has been doing a beautiful job of combating them. A couple of weeks ago I gave her homework of coming up with truths to fight the lies, and also instructed her to ask the Lord for scriptures to solidify the truths.
Last week she came into session excited to share a truth God gave her from the above scripture passage. What was causing Moses to fully embrace God’s calling for his life was the insecurity he had about himself as it pertained to his speech. When God replied to Moses that He would be with his mouth, what God really was saying to Moses was, “I will be with your insecurity”.
I have lived for the Lord long enough to witness that the thing that hinders most of us from becoming who God is calling us to be is our insecurities. Sadly, unlike Moses, many of us just keep these things to ourselves instead of sharing them with the Lord. We sit in silence as we make excuses not to follow God’s plan wholeheartedly. “I’m not smart enough. I don’t have enough time. I am not confident enough. I’m too old. I’m too young. People won’t like me. I don’t have any talent. I have too much brokenness”. On and on the excuses go. I have mine, and you have yours. We all have them.
The thing that separates those who fulfill God’s purpose and those who don’t has a great deal to do with how we handle those insecurities. People who are doing great works in the Kingdom are not free from the paralysis of insecurities, they have learned what to do with them.
Instead of hiding, Moses stayed engaged in dialogue with the Lord. He continued to express his doubts, even though it may have been humbling for him. Moses wasn’t afraid to admit his insecurity to himself, others, and the Lord. He found that for every excuse/insecurity the Lord had a remedy.
What about us? Do we have the tremendous courage it takes to admit these things to ourselves and then to the Lord? The Lord will continue to combat our lies and insecurities, and won’t let us live in them. This is why so many people are comfortable not facing the truth before the Lord. It’s easier to ignore something, than to let the Lord shed light on it, and cause us to face our biggest fears.
Most reading this blog know how the story with Moses turns out. We know that Moses ended up freeing the children of Israel. But Moses didn’t have that benefit and stepped out in faith anyway.
What is it that is hindering you from being all that God wants you to be? What is it that you are deliberately hiding from yourself and not talking to the Lord about? I pray right now that you would be as open as Moses.
Bring that “insecurity” to Jesus. Listen to Him as He tells you that He will be with your insecurity, and that in spite of your fear you can step forward in faith. Not only will He be with your insecurity, but He will teach you (Exodus 4:12) how to maneuver your insecurity.
We have a God who is greater than our weakness! May we allow Him to give us the strength to hand Him our weaknesses.
Think about those things you’ve accomplished in your life that mean so much to you. Maybe it’s that job you have. Perhaps a relationship you are particularly proud of. Maybe a car you worked so hard for, or perhaps a college degree. Maybe weight loss,or overcoming some financial obstacle. Whatever it is you’re thinking of right now, my guess is that it didn’t just accidentally happen.
Now think about what you want to accomplish. That thing that you keep fighting for. Perhaps that addiction that keeps rearing its ugly head. That bad habit you just can’t seem to kick. Maybe it’s that emotional hang up that has plagued you for as long as you can recall. Whatever it is, with God’s might, you can overcome it with intentionality.
David had a giant that plagued him and his entire nation. Thankfully, David was a giant killer. But giant killers are made long before they face and slay their giants. Without knowing it, David had been preparing for this giant.
We see in I Samuel 17 that David was given the task by his father to bring food to his brothers on the front line. We are told (vs 20) that David “rose up early” to perform that task given by his father. Giant slayers get up early. In other words, if you want to slay that giant, you’ve got to be disciplined. Giant killers aren’t lazy. Giant killers are consistent, and giant killers are diligent. In order to win true victory even when it’s inconvenient we must rise to the daily tasks at hand. Disciplined in prayer. Disciplined in study. Disciplined at all our Father asks us to do.
Giant slayers are willing to look at their enemy through eyes that differ from everyone around them. While most Israelites and the Philistines viewed Goliath as a champion (vs 23). David however, saw Goliath for what he was, “an uncircumcised Philistine who defies the armies of the living God” (vs 25). When others see insurmountable odds, giant slayers see a problem to be taken out. Everything that defies what Jesus won for you on Calvary is simply an obstacle waiting to be knocked down. When seen through eyes of truth and spiritual reality, are enemies are no match for the God who dwells within us and freely gives us all things.
Giant slayers are focused on the reward following the victory. Before he ever fought Goliath David overheard what would be given the man who conquered Goliath (vs 25). Then twice after that (vs 26-27, 30) David inquired about what would be received for fighting this battle. Giant slayers are focused on the victory, not only the battle. Our God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, so nothing is wrong with having respect for the reward. Even Jesus made it through Calvary by focusing on the joy that lay before Him (Hebrews 12:1-2). So often in the midst of our battle we give up because we focus on the wrong things. Our God has promised us victory. What joy lies before you when you conquer this giant in front of you? Freedom and promise lay beyond the giant. Let it be fuel for your battle!
No one would have chosen David to be the giant slayer. But David knew what no other man in that Israeli army apparently knew. David knew that there was never a bigger mismatch than he and Goliath. David was not the one that was overmatched. Goliath was. He never stood a chance. David knew the battle was not between he and Goliath. The battle was between Goliath and the God that David was in covenant with.
If you feel like an unlikely candidate for this type of victory, I have good news for you. You are in excellent company. Giant slayers come in unlikely packages. But given the chance, your God will fight for you as He did for David .
A young lady I am working with as a client wrote the poem below. With her permission, I am sharing it. I believe it can be an encouragement.
She recently was inspired to write this from the perspective of her future self speaking to her past self. She is speaking to herself during a time in her life where she shared with me she was feeling hopeless and suicidal.
"A New Hope"
I caught you
when you took
that last step
when the soles
of your feet were
on shaky steal beams.
feet were made
for the ground,
but for months now
you have found
and your eyes are tired
of seeking what
cannot be found.
your feet want
your hands want
your heart and your head want
want solid ground
in this earth
that there is no such thing.
so here you are
one step away
from falling into
you think is
feet were not made
to walk on water,
nor is water a
to bury a life.
yet here you are
by cowardice or
trying to take
the last step
into a future
were not ordained to have.
that's when I found you
and caught you
now look at me
look into my eyes and see
the future I have lived
look into my eyes and see
the reflection of the faces
of the little children
you will love every Sunday.
and the friends you will meet.
and the fellow humans you
will share tears with
for their good.
of faith and hope
for your fellow man
and the souls
will lead to Jesus
will hear say,
"God is good"
look at you sharing a smile
with your sister
and a nap
with your mother.
look and see the eyes
of your husband
as he stands at the altar
holding your hand
and your baby
tightly knitted to your chest.
streams of water
flow from your eyes
as you take
a step back
and your feet touch
the solid ground
Several years ago I went to a conference by Bethesda Workshops for women who struggle with sexual addiction issues. A sweet lady there in her mid-50s shared at the start of the conference that she had been acting out sexually in various ways almost daily since she was about three years old. About two days into the conference, she shared with us that she had been very tempted to engage in her sexually addictive patterns that morning.
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Most who know me, know that I have struggled with food related issues and weight for the majority of my life. But I am not going to give up until I am walking in the freedom Jesus has for me in that area. As part of my journey, I have two wonderful women that I am accountable to. The three of us check in with one another daily. Last night, July 3rd, one of the women sent out a text that said something along the lines of, “Tomorrow, let's celebrate our freedom from food related issues”. So, for the past couple of hours as I've been listening to fireworks go off and thanking God for my nation, I also have been thanking Him for the cross.
I have often reminded clients (and myself) that no matter how we feel we are free in Christ. Though we think our bondage is our reality (whether it's bondage to lust, pornography, food, gambling, approval, etc.), if we are born again our true reality is that we are free in Christ. No matter how often we slip to that old temptation, we truly are still free. We just have not yet learned to walk out our spiritual reality. Sanctification is the process of letting Jesus help us live out through experience what our truth is spiritually. What area of your life has the enemy lied to you about and told you that you'd never be free? It's time to declare your freedom, and ask Jesus to make your reality your experience.
On this date, in 1776 our beloved nation declared independence from England. As most every citizen knows, that is why we have the document that is referred to as “The Declaration of Independence”. Truly, we are a nation that is highly blessed to be free. As Americans there is little we value above our freedom. Maybe today is the day for some of us believers to value our Spiritual freedom as greatly we do our national freedom. Perhaps today is the day that you decide it is time to engage in battle against the tyranny of sin that has held you hostage, and declare this truth over your soul: “I am free!”.
Spiritually speaking, we need to sign a “Declaration of DEPENDENCE”. The Kingdom of God is often paradoxical when it pertains to things in the natural. Our nation had to declare independence to have freedom. If we want true freedom, we must declare true dependence. Dependence on our God, dependence upon His Word, and dependence upon His body.
Lord, grant unto me to walk in the freedom that is mine because of Calvary. Give me the strength to allow myself to be dependent upon You, that I may experience the Spiritual reality of my freedom.
“It is for Freedom that Christ has set us free......”
Recently I was in a severe accident resulting in several injuries. Among those injuries were two fractured elbows. Although still painful, my left elbow was a less severe fracture, so the doctors thought it best not to sling it and let it heal on it's own. My right elbow, however, had two severe fractures, a dislocation, and required surgery. The surgery required me to be in a cast for about two weeks, and then a brace another 4. Keeping the right arm stable was no problem, but not as easy to do with the left arm since it didn't have anything protecting it. I instinctively yet subconsciously held my left arm very close to my body..
The morning that I was getting ready to go see the doctor to get the cast removed from my right arm I realized what I had been doing with my left arm and had the conscious thought, “My arm feels so much better when I hold it close to the body”. I feel like this was a thought that the Lord sparked in my mind, and at once I was struck with the spiritual truth of that statement. When we are broken, the best place for us is close to the body. I was in a rush, so didn't have a lot of time to dwell on the thought, but it stuck in my mind. When I arrived at the doctor, they removed my cast and fitted me for my brace. They let me know that I could remove the brace for bathing, but provide this caution, “When your brace is off make sure and hold your arm close to the body”. Wow! The exact thing that the Lord had brought to my mind that morning was being spoken by my doctor. Medical proof of what I was instinctively already doing with my other arm.
As the days progressed I just couldn't get past the spiritual correlation. In my physical brokenness, I certainly have needed others. What has proven true in my physical brokenness is true in the spiritual realm as well. When we are broken, we must stay close to the body. There's something though, that I think we often forget. We all are broken. Not sometimes, but all of the time. The degree of our brokenness may be different during certain seasons of our life. But whether we are broken from addiction, abuse, life challenges, or from the fall of Adam we are all broken, all of the time.
In your brokenness, stay close to the body. We always do and always will need one another.
I live in Houston, TX where the elevation is below sea level. As a result, it often floods here. A couple of weeks ago during heavy rain the drains were blocked in the complex of my apartment and my vehicle sat parked in high water for hours. The vehicle seemed to run fine thankfully. But the entire carpet was soaked. I tried to get as much water as possible off the floors to little avail. It took a couple of days before I could get an appointment for an insurance estimate. During that time, I was unable to leave it open to air it out due to living in an apartment complex. By the time I brought it in for the estimate there was a significant amount of visible mold growing throughout the vehicle, and the stench was horrible. The entire carpet had to be ripped out and replaced. Had I been able to open the vehicle and air it out the damage would not have been as severe. Even after everything was cleaned and replaced, I was still told by the service center that I would need to leave my vehicle open for a period to help completely air everything out.
When I was around 11 years old I came across a hidden stash of pornography hidden under a relative’s mattress. Almost immediately I began seeking out what I accidentally stumbled upon that day. This soon led to sexually addictive behavior including pornography and compulsive masturbation. Eventually the pornography and masturbation led to multiple anonymous sexual encounters. Finally, after nearly 23 years of living with this secret, at the age of 34 I hit rock bottom. I could no longer live with the secrecy and the mold that was growing and taking over my soul. In desperation, I went on a 40 day fast from meats looking for answers for my freedom. I knew I could no longer live this double life. The Lord led me to open up to a lady from my church who became my accountability partner. Shortly after that He led me to a counselor that specialized in sexual issues. Then, I felt He wanted me to open up to my pastor. These three people laid the foundation of what has become a lifestyle of openness.
Just like in the story above about my vehicle, staying closed off caused mold to grow in my soul. Because I didn’t know to provide ventilation through opening up to others and becoming relational, things just became worse. Due to the horrible shame associated with the things I was involving myself in I decided that I should just keep it a secret and try to deal with it on my own. How did that work out for me? Well, once I had my first glimpse of the porn, my interior became a bit damaged. I didn’t air it out, but stayed closed. As a result, I began to start to see a bit of mold. I began masturbating, and there was a bit more mold. The mold from staying closed off about this rapidly multiplied. I began having anonymous sexual encounters and the mold overtook all my interior. Soon, the stench of the mold inside of me was so pungent that people who would get close to me at all could tell something wasn’t right. If only I knew then what I knew now. The way to beat this is through continual airing out and openness.
What I just stated, of course, applies to both males and females. Good advice, really, for anyone struggling. I have chosen though to highlight this need to my fellow female strugglers for a couple of reasons. First of all, sexual struggles are shameful for anyone. However, in being a female myself, and in helping both genders with their own struggles my experience has been the shame seems to be greater for women. Women tend to feel more alone in their battle. In our society porn use by men is almost expected. Watch nearly any sitcom and it is joked about as something “guys just do”. But women who struggle are often depicted as perverse sex fiends. Even in the church it doesn’t take long to find a group for male strugglers. Not so easy for female strugglers though. Opening up reduces shame almost immediately. There are few things more healing than having someone love and accept you at the point where you feel the most vulnerable. Another reason that is so important for women to open up is that sexually addictive behavior is more about a relational and intimacy disorder than it is about a sexual disorder. Generally speaking, women’s relational needs are often higher than a man’s. Lasting and true deliverance from sexual issues are only going to come through community. Walking it alone just doesn’t work. If you are a struggler, and it did work, you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now. The best thing I ever did for myself and my freedom was the day that I opened to my sweet accountability partner. It began a road to freedom that has been richer and more beautiful than I could have imagined.
Give yourself the gift of freedom. Dare to open up to someone today. You deserve to be free.
This week I had the privilege of speaking to a brand new telephone client. She was a young lady of 20 years old. As I do with new clients, I asked her if she had received any help previously for her sexual addiction. She mentioned to me that she had received a few months’ worth of coaching assistance. She proceeded to tell me the name of the organization and then added something like, “But it was really a guy’s organization. But women struggle with this issue too! Not just men. Everything out there seems to be for men”. Wow. Sadly, she is more than correct. However, thankfully that is changing and we have come a long way since I started my journey over 11 years ago. As I was recovering the Lord spoke to me and made it very clear that once I recovered I would not have the luxury of being silent. He wanted to use me as a voice to speak about these struggles, and that freedom is possible. Thankfully, God is calling more and more women who have struggled to be open so that others can experience the freedom that He came to give. I am so thankful for the women who are pioneers in this field, and who were a beacon of hope to me during my recovery.
When I began my journey, I literally thought that I was the only woman that my sexual addiction specialist counselor had ever worked with. I just “knew” that no other woman wrestled with this “guy issue” like me. I was inherently flawed and a disgrace to myself and my gender. After all “boys will be boys” but “good girls don’t”.
In June of 2005 God led me to an amazing lady in my church and dealt with me to open up to her about my struggle. I was terrified, but I had no choice. I knew without a doubt the Spirit was leading me to do this. Much to my surprise she didn’t scream, cover her ears, run out of the room, spit at me, or even hold up a crucifix in my direction. She simply listened to me and showered me with the love of God. She shared with me that although she didn’t wrestle like I did, she certainly could understand the lure and temptation. She stated that when she was younger she worked in a video store (yes, I am dating myself here). When everyone had left for the day, she would wander to the back of the store and look at the adult section. She never watched the videos, but she found that just the pictures on the cover and titles drew her in and kept her wanting to come back for more . Because of this, she said she could relate to some degree to my struggle. Then, a couple months later came the “big deal”. I shared with her that I had wrestled with masturbation. It literally probably took me 90 minutes of stumbling to get it out. Again, she shared with me that she hadn’t wrestled with that, but that she would be glad to help me in any way that she could. I felt so blessed that I finally found someone I could open up to that was a female. That season began an accountability relationship that still exists to this day.
As I continued to work with my counselor he too let me know that I definitely wasn’t alone in my struggle as a female. He also recommended that I contact Marnie Ferree of Bethesda Workshops for women who struggle. There I met several ladies who struggled just like I did. I also met several ladies conducting the workshop who came out of the struggle. The more I opened up and was accepted by other women (those who struggled, as well as those who did not) the more my shame diminished. The more my shame diminished, the more I felt free to be relational. The more I was relational the more the void was being filled that drew me to act out in the first place.
So, if boys can struggle with porn, masturbation and other sexual issues – so can girls! But guess what else we can do that the guys are doing, ladies? We can be brave like these men and face our addiction. We can get the help we need. We can ask our sisters to come along side of us and help us fight this battle. We can speak up and be a voice of purity in the body of Christ. Most importantly, we can fight with everything that is in us to live the abundant life that Jesus came to give.
Dear Precious One,
I have been where you are. I am no stranger to the shame that you feel. Although they are now in my rear view mirror, the horrible self-hate, the embarrassment, the sexual desires that I feared I could not control, the depression, the regret, and so many other emotions were all too real to me not long ago.
When I was about 11 years old, I came across a hidden stash of pornography under a relative’s mattress. Very quickly what I accidentally stumbled across, I began to seek out intentionally. And what I began to seek out intentionally, I quickly became addicted to. Pornography didn’t come alone though. I also became highly addicted to masturbation and when I became an adult i added as many as 2 dozen anonymous sexual encounters to my addictive cycle. I “knew” I was alone, I was hopeless, and something was desperately wrong with me.
I have no doubt that some (if not al) of the above emotions and thoughts you have shared. But I am happy to tell you, you are not alone. You are not hopeless. Nothing is wrong with you. You deserve to know the truth. What is the truth? Part of the truth is that some numbers indicate that as many as 40% of Christian women struggle with pornography. Again, you are not alone. The truth is that you, like all women, are broken – nothing, however is wrong with you. Most importantly, the truth is that there is hope for you. Yes, many women struggle. But many women have been set free!
Have you tried again and again to be free? Promised yourself, “I will not look at that porn again”. Or have you been sickened by your secret habit of masturbation that you just can’t break. Do you despise that over and over again you have told yourself that you will save yourself for marriage, only to give yourself to yet another man? Has all of this left you feeling like you don’t want to try again? If you answered yes to any of these, then you are ripe for a miracle. I have good news for you!
Lift up your head. You have a God who knows exactly where you are at. He loves you. Yes, He loves you. You, the one who is convinced that if anyone knew your secret they would despise you. He knows all about it, and not only does He love you, He is not mad at you. He sees you right where you’re at. He sees what you struggle with, and it doesn’t make Him want to turn Himself from you. Quite the contrary, He is turning Himself toward you, offering you something more.
Please, don’t let your past keep you from your future. God has so much more for you than you are living in now. I know how it feels to struggle for years, and try to quit a habit that you hate. I know how it can paralyze one from wanting to try again. Don’t let yourself be paralyzed. There are springs of fresh water waiting for you, please do not settle for drinking from a mud puddle.
I know what it is to have tried so many times, that believing in hope seems like the most terrifying thing that there is. But, I also know what it is to keep trying and to repeatedly start again at the same place. That place is crying out to the Lord for His help in our brokenness. He is the One, after all, that we truly are looking for in all of our sexual acting out. We, as women, crave intimacy to our core. Jesus can provide that. An endless need requires an endless resource. There is only One who can qualifies to meet our need. I think we know that’s not a man, an orgasm, or pornography. Those things only leave us empty.
If you don’t give up, and you keep allowing yourself to get up, eventually you will be victorious! One day of not acting out will turn into one week, one week will turn into one month, one month will turn into one year!
There’s so much waiting for you on the other side of this. I can assure you, it will be the fight of your life. But I can also assure you, that it will be worth it to have this in your past as a memory. What awaits you is an end to the mounting shame, the lack of emotional connection with yourself others and God, the self-hatred, the relationships that are adversely affected, and every other negative thing that comes with your bondage. A life of freedom from the shame of your sin, true intimacy that your heart craves, living life with integrity, dealing with your emotions in more healthy ways, liberty from the pain of abandonment, and the ability to enjoy the abundant life Jesus came to give really can be yours!
Freedom is possible dear heart. The door stands open before you. Will you walk through it?
Someone who has been where you are, and hopes to see you on the other side
Kimberly ~ Counselor, speaker, teacher, author and most importantly broken but beloved daughter of Jesus.