“Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you . . . . . “
Zechariah 9:9 (NLT)
I am thinking of one client in particular who is doing the laborious work of looking at her brokenness and letting Jesus heal her. Let’s call her “Jen” (not her real name). Not surprisingly, most weeks when we begin session within the first few minutes she says something like, “This healing stuff is hard work, and I knew it would be. But I just didn’t know how difficult!” Every time she said this I would attempt to encourage her by reminding her that the difficulty doesn’t indicate that she is doing something wrong, but quite the opposite. In her case, it indicated that she actually was doing the real work correctly.
In our most recent session there was somewhat of a shift in our conversation, which I will outline the gist of below:
Me: Hello, Jen. How are you?
Jen: You know, I’m actually okay!
Me: Hmmm, I think I’m hearing that as a good “okay” and a positive thing. Is that correct?
Jen: Yes, it really is!
Me: Excellent! What is making the difference?
Jen: (With tears in her eyes) I am beginning to see Jesus as my Prince Charming. Coming to rescue me and whisk me away.
Me: Wow, Jen! That is such a beautiful picture you’re painting. What is Jesus whisking you from, and what is He whisking you to?
Jen:: (Even more tears) He is taking me away from my false ideas of Who He is. He is taking me away from the false ideas of who I think I am, and how He views me. He is taking me to a place where I understand that I am unconditionally loved and accepted by Him.
Incredible! This was great news. I was so excited for and rejoicing with Jen. Jen is not unique in that what originally led her to me was a struggle with porn and/or masturbation. She was somewhat unique, however, in that the sexual acting out struggle she experienced was not current. She had stopped the acting out some time ago. But she was plagued by the shame of the acting out and low self-worth from the things in her past. Jen needed a rescuer, and she found One in Jesus.
What honest woman would say she hasn’t wished for a Prince Charming to come and rescue her? The good news is, we have One. He is sitting mounted on His horse waiting to swoop in and rescue you. Not because He thinks you are helpless or pitiful, but because He delights in you and longs to take you to the place He prepared for you. A place of love, light, truth and freedom. It is a place where you are no longer confined by life dominating habits and the small thinking of the lies of the flesh and the enemy.
“He brought me forth also into a large place: He delivered me, because He delighted in me” Psalm 18:19 (KJV)
You see, for most of us the true thing we need rescuing from is not the sexual behavior that we have grown to loathe. Though we often think that is the case. Although, certainly we strive to abolish this habit in practical ways (many of which can be found on Covenant Eyes website) the behavior is only a symptom of something deeper we need to be rescued from. Jesus didn’t come to simply help us stop our sexual acting out. Jesus came to rescue us from the lies and long held beliefs that caused us to act out in the first place and then are often solidified by our acting out.
Do any of these sound familiar? :
What God did and is doing for Jen and for me He will also do for you. He is no respecter of persons, after all!
Take that first step of trusting Him to be Who He said He will be for you.
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.
Continue article on Covenant Eyes
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.
Kimberly ~ Counselor, speaker, teacher, author and most importantly broken but beloved daughter of Jesus.