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Testimonies #2

“I will tell of all Your wonders, I will give thanks and rejoice in You.”Psalm 9:1-2

“So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” Luke 8:39

Noval

By the end of 1973 my life was a complete mess. I was a peeping tom, prowling around at night, risking my life and my soul to get brief glimpses of flesh. Put more bluntly, I was a visual rapist, violating the humanity, privacy and femininity of people created in God’s image for my own pleasure. I hated my job — was miserable at it. I was lying to my young wife about who I really was. I was depressed, afraid, angry, addicted and LOST. Oh I’d been in church for years. I’d made some sort of commitment to Christ as a teen and I can’t say there was no spiritual reality at all. But somewhere in college I totally lost my way.

Then I got arrested. Oh, severe, blessed mercy! God got my attention. For the first time in years, maybe the first time ever, I got my Bible and started reading it, not just as a religious exercise or a selfish pursuit of “comfort” but with the eyes and heart of a man who knew he was dying and needed answers.

One night I was reading about Paul’s struggle with indwelling sin in Romans 7, trying to understand what he really meant by it not being HIM, but sin in him that did all the bad crap and all that. Then I drifted over into Romans 8 and discovered a life I never knew existed:

    Romans 8 (The Message)

    The Solution Is Life on God’s Terms

    1-2 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

    3-4 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that. The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

    5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.

What really leapt off the page at me was 8:6. In the NASB that I was reading at the time it says “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” It was like somebody walked into a dark room in my soul and flipped on a bright light. I saw my fatal error — I’d been totally focused on myself. Even in those moments (and there were many) when my guilt and shame made me want to walk away from my unfaithfulness and perversion, I tried to do it in my own power. I’d beat the crap out of myself emotionally and make all sorts of irrational promises to God and myself that I could never keep. What I saw In Romans 8 was that I DIDN’T HAVE TO LIVE THAT WAY!! Because the risen Christ had already taken my guilt, cleansed my shame and broken the back of sin. He’d already done what I kept trying and failing to do. What I had to do was start believing it!

Yeah, sometimes I’ve lost sight of these basic truths and messed up. But I’m still married to the same wonderful woman, more in love than ever and learning a bit more each day about spiritual warfare, faith, repentance and walking in love. And even though I’m “semi-retired” and only working about half-time now, I love my job!! God even changed that, because HE IS RISEN INDEED!!!

Noval

“By His stripes we are healed!” (Isaiah 53:5)

In GOD We Trust

 

Ralph

I’ll try to keep this short winded, but it is so hard, since God has given me so much, including a mind that can’t stay on subject long (look a squirrel!)

My first job out of college was always on the midst of a move. After around 3 years of this, a sudden move happened. My parents offered to come up to help with the move, which was great because all I had was a tiny car and needed to use a moving company. The only thing was I had to clean all the P out of my apartment first, or my parents would know of my issue. So, I lived on the floor in a new apartment in my new city and drove back to my old apartment in my old city for the weekends and cleaned out the P and other stuff that I didn’t want or need to take with me. One day, during a drive back to my new apartment, I stopped at a store and got a P mag with the idea to hide it well in my Huntsville apartment. That week, I looked and looked at the magazine. Then something amazing happened. It dawned on me one day that there were words in this magazine….

I read a story about one of my favorite P actresses. She got into P when she was 16 (she lied about her age) and did something close to 20 P movies a year. At the ripe old age of 23, she started looking worn out and washed up, so she started having lots of surgeries done. By the time she was 26, she was no longer a P star at all and was doing radical movies to keep the bills paid. One day, strung out on coke, she crashed her car. The one thing she still had going for her was her beautiful face and she had damaged it. She went home, got a pistol and shot herself.

The article was all about how horrible that this woman had access to a pistol. However, God opened my eyes. In high school, there was a girl that bounced from relationship to relationship. In her senior year, she seemed to age 20 years. The strain of these broken relationships destroyed her mentally. This P actress had been in something like 40-50 S relationships a year for 10 years. She died inside YEARS before her body died.

Then it dawned on me. What killed her was the P industry. The reason the P industry killed her is because each time she made a movie, people would buy it in quantity. One of those guys that bought a lot of her movies was me. My “little issue” had, in some small part, lead to the death of a woman. Then suddenly, the scales fell off my eyes. Name after name came back to me of women I had seen naked that had later killed themselves.

I fell to my knees in repentance. I threw out the magazine, sick to my stomach. I literally went two days without eating. I had been involved in the, for lack of a better term, murder of multiple women. My greed to see them naked lead to me financially supporting an industry that killed women all the time.

Now, this was 16 years ago. In the last 16 years, I have not spent a DIME on P since. Sure, I still got as many free peeks as I could, and these free peeks nearly lost me my marriage and kids. However, I have not bought a single magazine, rented a single movie, or spent a dime on any website. God sent a “ebernezer” in my heart (look it up in Judges) that I cannot pay money for P again. In this, I give him all the praise in the world. For without him removing the scales from my eyes and piercing my heart with the truth of the P industry, I would still be spending tons of money on an industry that processes women like a meat packing factory processes hogs.

There is one story of my testimony. It is as weird as I am. A testimony that God lead me to read an article in a P magazine and thus opened my eyes to the industry that I was supporting and what it did to women.

-Ralph

Chris H.

I want you to know that I’ve read all of your emails with the greatest interest and concern for your welfare. Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you. I’ve longed to reply to every single email, but my heart is so heavy with my wife on the cusp of leaving me that the responses I’ve started suddenly seemed trite half-hearted, so I have not sent them.

My wife filing for a divorce is the consequence of my addiction to pornography and masturbation. The wages of sin is death, in this case the death of my marriage. There is hope for me and our marriage in Jesus, the living Son of God, however. I am so grateful that Jesus paid the price for sin. He will not always, however, take away the direct consequences of our sins. The drunk driver may be forgiven, but the pain and damage of the crash he or she causes is simply unavoidable. For many years, I have been on a pendulum, swinging between sobriety and pornographic hedonism. Each time I’ve gone away from God and into depravity, I have hurt the spouse that I love so much. Though each time she “got over it”, the wedge between us deepened.

Understand that until a couple weeks ago, everything seemed just fine between us from my perspective. We were friendly towards one another and even loving. Then, she found that I was downloading a video entitled “Drunk Sex Orgy”. If you are even the least bit titillated by this title, think about how my wife felt as she was reading it. It must have been the most horrific punch in the gut, especially since, as she explained later, that she comes from a family of alcoholics. Then understand that she was sexually abused as a child. Lastly, the word orgy indicated to her that I had not just fallen off the bandwagon; I’d blown the damn thing up.

Even with this horrible blow, she put on a brave face. It was only with great coaxing that two days later I was even able to get her to admit that what I had done had hurt her. That she was troubled was obvious. Getting her to talk about being upset has always been a huge obstacle. She just hates to do it. Some spouses of addicts yell and scream. Some seethe until something in them just dies. Mine is the latter.

A week after the “incident”, even though almost all of her words and actions indicated things were fine, she timidly told me that she wanted things to be over between us. I’ve told you some about that conversation. I told her that I did NOT want a divorce, and that I was willing to do whatever was necessary to preserve it. Her response was that while she had kept telling herself that she would once again get over it, she no longer wanted to.

At one point, I made an action plan and commited to following it. It includes:

    Canceling our internet service and everything but basic cable.

    Going to marriage counseling and if wanted or needed, individual sessions.

    Daily prayers as a couple.

    Attending support group meetings every week (work excepted)

    Cut back on graduate studies commitment as needed

    Having family night once a week

    Date night once a week

Right now, I’m following the action plan to the letter, and our relationship is friendly but certainly not intimate. It was after our first marriage counseling session that I learned she had filed for divorce. Dating-wise, we’re basically starting over, and we’re not even to the holding hands stage yet. We may never get there again. God willing, though, we will get past this and be closer than ever before in our marriage.

Bretheren, I was not an abusive spouse verbally or physically. I was not neglectful. I believe I have been kind and patient, even through her bouts with depression. In the end, though it may have kept us together these nine years, it has not been, nor do I believe it can be, enough to overcome the consequences of using pornography.

I know that this email has gotten lengthy, but I want to end it by testifying that I still have hope for my marriage, because I know that God can soften any heart. I testify that there is freedom in Jesus Christ. He lives. He loves us. My debt to Him is beyond my imagination I’m sure. Every day I pray that I may love Him more and more. I ask God to mold me into a Christian in the truest sense. I believe that God has inspired the creation of Free In Christ, and I’m grateful to each of you who have had the courage and desire to post on this forum. My Lord and Savior is freeing me from my compulsion to sin. How prideful I have been that it should take an imminent divorce to get me to sever the internet when it has been the very gateway to my addiction! (filters = less effective) But God can remove any obstacle, can’t he? I actually WANT the computer to be disconnected! If that isn’t a miracle, I don’t know what is. I beg and plead to my Heavenly Father that my heart may be completely turned over to Him, with no nook or cranny held in reserve.

My dear brothers, please continue to pray for my family and myself. There is power in prayer. I really believe it. I’ll check in occasionally. In the meantime, please use my sad story as a testament to the results of living for selfish pleasure. Shun pornography. Get it out of your houses. Please, oh please, eradicate it from your lives. Fill your lives with service, the scriptures, and wholesome activities. You’ll never be sorry and God will bless you forever for it. I testify it in the sacred name of Jesus Christ.

Take care, and may God’s will be done in all things.

With love for each of you,

Chris H.

Scott

A Kingdom Runner

A broken leg in the summertime can mean the end of the world to an eight-year-old boy. Yes, this was my mentality as I just finished breaking my left leg while riding a friends’ bike. I remember how bad I had broken my leg and all the pain involved. I remember my father picking me up and placing me in a bathtub of hot water because he thought my leg was only sprained only to find out 2 days later that it was broken. I hate having to re-live this but it’s necessary so that God’s healing can take place. Here I am, years later only to find that this was one of many reasons for resenting my father. Anyway, I have a much better reason for writing this article so try to stay with me along the way.

Well, let me tell you, having a cast on my leg for about 6 months was not my idea of fun. I couldn’t go out to play with friends, nothing but hanging around the house driving my mom crazy because of boredom. Then after my 6-month “prison term” was up, I was happy once again, although my left leg was about half the size of my right leg. I couldn’t get used to that, even though the Dr. told me that over time, my leg would regain it’s shape and fullness.

My Dad used to go running and I remember one day going up to the track with him. This was probably about 4-6 months after I had my cast taken off. I started walking around the track but when I saw my Dad running, I wanted to run too. So I started jogging slowly. I immediately fell in love with running, especially since I saw how my leg was beginning to develop and shape up. No more “peg-leg” for me! I remember after training for a couple of months, I competed in a race and coming in 2nd place. I was so excited.

For the next 4 years, I kind of put running on the back shelf. My relationships with my parents weren’t that great. I figured it was because I was becoming a teenager, you know…it’s not cool for a teenager to have a great relationship with his parents. I never felt affirmed by my father since he favored my younger brother. My mom also favored my brother but I now know that affirmation cannot come from a woman figure. In my freshman year of high school, I decided to join the track team and make a comeback. Subconsciously, I was also crying out for affirmation and thought that finally my Dad would affirm me. If they could see my physical accomplishments, my parents would finally accept me. I remember my mom coming to a few track meets but I never saw my Dad at one. I always wondered where he was and what he was doing that he couldn’t even make my track meets. At this point, I was already knee deep in pornography since I had found my Dad’s videotape stash, plus a whole lot of pornographic magazines. Now I knew what my Dad was up to but I never gave that much thought to it. What’s he doing with these videotapes and magazines? He’s married.

Well, I ran throughout my high school years but I never saw my Dad at a meet. I retired my track shoes by the time I was a senior. What good was any of this if my Dad didn’t want to come to see me run? This time, I would stop running for good…or so I thought. Deep inside me, I felt that churning…the desire was still there but I pushed it away. I used to go and visit my alma mater when after graduating since my brother attended the same high school. He decided to join the track team so I used to come down after I finished with my College classes and hang out with the team. I used to see them run but figured there was no point in my running. What would I run for? What was my purpose for running a race?

After graduating college, I entered the real world where I learned about stress and the everyday hustle and bustle. I entered “the rat race” as it’s called. How would I cope with everyday life? I have no outlet, no way to blow off steam in a healthy way. God had a plan for me because I was saved at the age of 22. I didn’t know back then, but I figured there had to be something more to life so why not give God a chance? Things still weren’t great in my life, my parents were divorced, my sexual addiction skyrocketed, and I had no friends. Writing this stirs up many feelings but I know that God is still healing them today. I thought, “Hey maybe I’ll start running again. Wait…why bother? Who will you be running for? No one is there to pat you on the back or affirm you?” This time, I was determined to get back out there even though I really didn’t feel like it. I bought a new pair of running shoes and hit the road. Wow, it felt really good although I paid the price for taking all those years off. Still, little by little I began building myself up again. This was my comeback but something was still missing…or should I say, Someone?

I joined a local running club and became friendly with some of the runners. I started training harder and my times had shown it. I liked the attention I was getting from other runners but yet it still wasn’t enough. After my “peak” and “valley” performances, I saw who was and who wasn’t a true friend. There are people out there who will only like you for your performance and if it’s not consistent, they want nothing to do with you. So, I started running on my own again, doing it for me instead of trying to “run after someone’s affirmation”.

Here I am at the age of 35, in better shape than I was at 21. This year I finally figured out that all the while, I was running from myself, running away from God because I thought of Him in the same way I thought of my earthly father. Now, when I go running, I ask my Heavenly Father to come running with me. He’s even interested in the “running part” of my life. He’s even using me to share my faith with other runners. It’s been a slow process but I’m trusting Him and seeing the fruits of it. Now, when I do my early Sunday morning trail runs with my new running club, they say to me, “Don’t forget to pray for us when you’re in Church.” My response is, “I always do”…I now know that all the while I was being prepared as a “Kingdom Runner”.

I’d like to include some scriptures that have really inspired me:

    1 Corinthians 9:24-25 – “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.”

    Hebrews 12:1 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.”

    2 Timothy 4:7 – “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have remained faithful.”

In closing, I’d just encourage you to do things for the right reasons. If your father has never affirmed you, remember that Your Heavenly Father affirms you, not because of what you do, but because of who you are.

May God bless you and give you strength to run the race that is set before you.

In Christ and the battle with you all,

Scott