How Do I Fulfill My Spiritual Destiny?

Self-ImprovementSpirituality

  • Author James Rondinone
  • Published January 29, 2023
  • Word count 8,823

PART 11 TESTIMONY                                                                                                                                        

Testimonies About Maintaining Continual Victory Over Sexual Abuse and Sinful Sexual Desires

Thank God that our sinful inclinations and tendencies no more define us. In Christ, we are no longer who we used to be. By means of the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can think anew and experience the anointing which breaks the yoke.

Learning how to walk in the Spirit and evidencing Christ-likeness in our words and actions is a process, a daily reflection by us as to the new truths that have been revealed to us and appropriated by us as soon as we wake up in the morning and meditate upon throughout our day. It’s not deliverance from, but deliverance within. So, the admonition is for us to put on the new man, the new person we have become, and to set our affections (mind) on things above (heavenly realities and values) and not on things below (the former life and everything of an evil nature that pertained to it156). And if we do, we will evidence a testimony of maintaining continual victory over sinful sexual desires like our fellow believers have been able to do so, whose stories are about to be presented in the articles that follow.

           

JOYCE MEYER OVERCAME ABUSE BY HER FATHER

Joyce Meyer, one of America’s most prominent Christian speakers and authors, overcame sexual abuse by her father.

“My father did rape me, numerous times, at least 200 times,” she told Charisma Magazine.

Meyer, a down-to-earth public speaker with a high-flying prosperity gospel ministry, finally broke years of silence in 2012 by revealing her childhood trauma. She decided she needed to share her testimony to help others suffering similar hurts.

“I was sexually, mentally, [emotionally,] and verbally abused by my father as far back as I can remember until I left home at the age of 18,” she said. “He did many terrible things…some [of] which are too distasteful for me to talk about publicly. But I want to share my testimony because so many people have been hurt, and they need to realize that someone has made it through their struggles.”

Meyer grew up in St. Louis, [Missouri,] with a dad who “was born in the hills — way back in the hills. In his family, incest was just part of the culture,” she told Charisma. At age 9, she told her mother what [had] happened. But mom did nothing. When Meyer was 14, her mom caught her dad in the act. But mom was emotionally incapable of confronting the situation and left instead.

In response to her trauma, Meyer accepted Jesus in a local church at age 9. But her mind was in a state of confusion. Shortly after graduating from high school, she married a part-time car salesman, who cheated on her and persuaded her to embezzle from her employer. After she divorced him, she married her current husband, Dave Meyer, an engineering draftsman in 1967, according to Wikipedia.

Then one day in [1976,] she was praying intensely while driving to work and heard God call her name. She describes what she felt as “liquid love” flowing from God. The emotional experience was the start of a closer walk with God that would bring her into ministry.

With a no-nonsense folksy style that ingratiated her with her audiences, Meyer rose quickly through the ministerial ranks in ever-larger churches until she resigned to launch her own ministry in 1985. “Life in the Word” began with broadcasts on six radio stations from Chicago to Kansas City. In 1993, she and her husband launched a television ministry.

Meanwhile, her book-writing ministry also prospered. Publishing house Hachette Book paid Meyer more than $10 million for the rights to her backlist catalog of independently released books in 2002, according to Wikipedia. On the outside, things were going well. On the inside, Meyer had to deal with the emotional scars from her childhood.

“I was so profoundly ashamed because of this,” Meyer said. “I was ashamed of me, and I was ashamed of my father and what he did. I was also constantly afraid. There was no place I ever felt safe growing up. I don’t think we can even begin to imagine what kind of damage this does to a child.

“At [school,] I pretended I had a normal life, but I felt lonely all the time and different from everyone else. I never felt like I fit in, and I wasn’t allowed to participate in [after school] activities, go to sports events or [parties,] or date boys. Many [times,] I had to make up stories about why I couldn’t do anything with my classmates. For so [long,] I lived with pretense and lies.              

“What I learned about love was actually perversion,” she added. “My father told me what he did to me was special and because he loved me. He said everything he did was good, but it had to be our secret because no one else would [understand,] and it would cause problems in the family.”

Meyer eventually reached a place in her life when she knew she had to forgive her father.

“I’m happy to say that God gave me the grace completely, 100%, [to] forgive my father,” she said in [a] YouTube video. “It took some time, but I was able to do it.”

Then she had to share the horrifying story.

“As long as I kept this secret, I couldn’t get free from the pain of it,” she said.                                   

She explained her struggle with her dad and wants people to know that anyone that has been abused can recover if they will give their life completely to Jesus.                                                        

“God didn’t get me out of the situation when I was a child, but He did give me the strength to get through it,” Meyer said. “It’s true my father abused me and didn’t love and protect me the way he should have, and at times it seemed no one would ever help [me,] and it would never end.                   

”But God always had a plan for my life, and He has redeemed me. He has taken what Satan meant for harm and turned it into something good. He has taken away my shame and given me a double reward and recompense.”                                                                                                         

When her father was sick and dying on a hospital [bed,] he told her, “Joyce, I am sorry you feel I hurt you. But I still don’t understand what was so bad about what I did.” It wasn’t much as far as repentance went.                                                                                                                                  

God told her that she was to move him close to her house and take care of him. Meyer’s husband disagreed with the plan, but it soon was confirmed that God had spoken to her.                                      

As God supplied the grace, she showed her father love [every day]. Every need he had, she attempted to meet. She bought his food and clothing.

One day he broke down in tears. He called Joyce and Dave to his bedside and fully repented: “I am sorry for what I did to you. I have wanted to say this to you for a long time, but I didn’t have the guts,” he said. “Dave, I am sorry for what I did to you. I am sorry I hurt your wife. Please forgive me.”

Meyer knelt beside [him] and led her father in the sinner’s prayer. He then asked Meyer to baptize him. Meyer baptized her father on Dec. 2, [2001,] in front of hundreds of people at the Dream Center she founded in St. Louis’ inner city. From a “mean snake,” God had begun to transform him into a “sweet old man.”

“I know that I know that I know, that God has redeemed, and what Satan meant for bad God has turned to good,” she said.157

         

FROM GAY TO GOSPEL: THE FASCINATING STORY OF BECKET COOK

Ten years ago, Becket Cook was a gay man in Hollywood who had achieved great success as a set designer in the fashion industry. He worked with stars and supermodels, from Natalie Portman to Claudia Schiffer, traveling the world to design [photoshoots] for the likes of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. He attended award shows and parties at the homes of Paris Hilton and Prince. He spent summers swimming in Drew Barrymore’s pool. A decade later, Cook [had] moved on from that life—and he doesn’t miss it. 

What changed for Cook? He met Jesus. On a momentous day in September 2009, while drinking coffee with a friend at Intelligentsia in L.A.’s Silver Lake neighborhood, Cook started chatting with a group of young people sitting at a nearby table—physical Bibles opened in front of them (remember, this was 2009). They were from a church called Reality L.A. (where TGC Council member Jeremy Treat now serves as lead pastor), and they invited Cook to visit the church.

Cook took them up on the invitation and visited Reality L.A. the next Sunday, where he heard the gospel and gave his life to Jesus. He never looked back, trading his gay identity for a new identity in Christ. In the years since, Cook completed a degree at Talbot School of Theology and wrote a memoir of his conversion, A Change of Affection: A Gay Man’s Incredible Story of Redemption, which just released. 

I recently met up with Cook at Intelligentsia—the place where his encounter with coffee-drinking, Bible-studying Christians set his conversion in motion. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.                 

Take me back to that day, in this very coffee shop, [ten] years ago. What was going on in your life that made the soil, so to speak, ready to receive the gospel seed?

It was a moment in Paris six months earlier. I was at a fashion party and just felt empty: I had done everything in Hollywood, met everyone, traveled everywhere. [Yet,] I was overwhelmed with emptiness at this party. It was one of the most intense “is that all there is?” moments in my life. I had already been wrestling with questions about the meaning of life, searching for it in all sorts of ways. But I knew God was never an [option] because I was gay. It was off the table. I wasn’t confused about what the Bible had to say about homosexuality. I knew it was clear. But I was still searching for meaning. 

[So,] when I came to this coffee shop six months later and saw that group of young people with their Bibles open, I started asking them questions. They explained the gospel, what they believed. I asked what their church believed about homosexuality, and they explained that they believed it [was] a sin. I appreciated their honesty and that they didn’t beat around the bush. But the reason I was able to accept their answer was because I had that moment in Paris. Five years [earlier,] I would have been like, [you] guys are insane. You’re in the dark ages. But [instead,] I was like, [maybe] I could be wrong. Maybe this actually is a sin. [So,] I was open to it in the moment. And then they invited me to church.                                                                                                                                             

When you showed up to church that first Sunday at Reality, you ended up becoming a Christian. What happened?

Tim Chaddick preached the sermon that day, and everything he was saying basically turned what I knew about religion upside down. I grew up in Catholic schools, and I honestly thought religion was just being a good person, doing good things. I don’t think the priests in my high school once explained what the gospel was. Not once. [So,] when Tim was preaching all these things that were the exact opposite of what I thought religion was, I was like, [whoa.] It all really resonated, and it prompted me to go forward at the end of the service to receive prayer. It was shocking and unexpected to me, a Road to Damascus moment. It was so powerful, so all-consuming. I was all-in.                                                                                                                                                    

 

What did discipleship look like for you after you got saved?

Tim and I would meet for coffee each week, [even] though I didn’t know why, he was discipling me. That was vital. There were so many others at the church who came around me and supported me, recommending books and sermons and praying for me. I would get random [‘I’m praying for you today!’] texts all the time. I joined a community group right away. I listened to all of Tim Keller’s sermons, as well as John Stott and Dick Lucas. It was a process of people discipling me at my church and God discipling me through these other voices.

During that [time,] right after I got saved, I had a three-month period of no work, which was unusual. [So,] I had all this time to spend with God, to pray and read the Bible. I couldn’t stop reading the Bible. Every time I’d listen to a sermon or read the [Bible,] I’d end up in tears: “Oh my gosh, this is true! I can’t believe I know God and know the meaning of life finally!”                                                                                                                                           

There are conversations today about whether one can be a “gay Christian.” Is there a way to reconcile following Jesus with having a gay identity?

They are irreconcilable. It’s strange to me to see these attempts. I had such a clean break from it, and it was entirely God’s grace upon me to see that it was necessary. Would you call yourself a greedy Christian? Would you call yourself a tax-collector Christian? It seems strange to identify yourself with sin. It’s a square circle. Defining yourself as a “gay Christian,” even if you are celibate and not active in a homosexual relationship, is wildly misleading. And it’s almost like you’re stewing in your old sin, hanging onto your old self in a weird way. It’s not helpful to have that moniker over you and to continually identify as such. Why would you identify with your old self that has been crucified with Christ? [So,] I flee from that term as far as I can. It’s not who I am at all. If people ask me how I identify, [I tell them I] don’t identify by my sexuality. I’m a follower of Christ who has a lot of struggles, including same-sex attraction.” …

The LGBT movement has gained so much ground by framing homosexuality as an immutable, personhood-level identity. What are your thoughts on the state of how Western culture sees “gay” today?

In the last 20 years or [so,] there has been such a huge push to make it sacred. It went from a sin to a sacrament. The book Making Gay Okay does a really good job showing how that happened. Media, movies, TV—it’s all been pushing [toward] this. When I was coming of age as a gay kid, it wasn’t like this. It was still taboo. There were gay-pride parades, but they weren’t at Macy’s. Every store in the world didn’t have a rainbow on it. But now it’s everywhere, it’s so dominant, and to say anything against the narrative is seen as crazy if not downright harmful. 

Everything is inside out and upside down. The idea of the rainbow, for example, is so odd to me now—using this biblical symbol as the icon of the LGBT movement. When I was gay, I felt shame. Instinctively I knew it was wrong. But though I felt shame, over the [years,] you harden your heart to it. I think the driving force behind these choices, like the rainbow flag and pride parades—the word pride, even—is to convince yourself that there’s nothing wrong with it, nothing to be ashamed of. You have to constantly tell yourself that and let the culture tell you that. Because there is shame attached to it, so hyper-emphasizing the “rightness” of it helps people embrace their “identity” more.

What is it like watching the “de-conversion” stories of Christians who grow up in the faith but then abandon it because of the LGBT issue? In the [book,] you compare it to Esau selling his birthright for a pot of stew.

I see this happen all the time, especially kids who grew up in Christian families and went to Christian colleges. You can see it coming from a mile away. It’s so common, and the culture is so powerful. [I always say look, if you’re going to be on social media or Netflix for an hour, you need to read the Bible for an hour because you’ve just been lied [to,] and now you need the truth.] So yeah, it’s very sad.

Your life is a vapor. You’re here for two seconds. What do you want your life to be at the [end] when you’re on your deathbed? Do you want it to [be that you] got to satisfy all those urges and got the things [you wanted?] Or do you want to be told, [well] done, good and faithful [servant?] You spent your life on mission for the kingdom of God”?

I often think about Paul, who was single and didn’t whine about it. He cared about planting churches and getting the gospel out. He was shipwrecked, beaten, jailed, but he didn’t care—he just wanted the gospel out.

To the people who give up, I first and foremost pray, particularly for those I know. It’s so sad to me because you’re literally giving up your birthright for a single meal. Do you understand what you are doing?

It seems for many Christians who move from holding traditional biblical views on sexuality to being LBGT- “affirming,” the thing that moves them over the edge is having someone close to them—a parent, a sibling, a close friend—come out. How should a Christian respond when people close to them come out?                                                                          

I’ve seen this happen to several of my friends, and I understand the motivation behind the phenomenon. But the Word of God doesn’t change based on our feelings. In terms of responding to those close to us who come out as gay or lesbian, it’s important to love them unconditionally without compromising your convictions. As Christians, we are in exile. And just as Shadrach and friends refused to bow down to the golden statue in Babylon (Daniel 3), even though the consequences were potentially dire, we have to resist the temptation to bow down to the culture we are in—no matter the cost. I’m not saying this is easy.

Some who come out will be super offended when you hold to your traditional biblical views. The issue is now so deeply tied to identity that it can feel like you are rejecting them. I certainly felt that way whenever I remembered that my family, even though they loved me, believed homosexual behavior [was] a sin. Though it wasn’t their intent, I felt alienated by them.

[So,] I think the key is to love your friend unconditionally no matter [what] and to pray for them. That’s what my sister-in-law did with me. She was an evangelical Christian and knew that I knew what her beliefs were on sexuality (she held the orthodox view). But I never felt an ounce of judgment from her over the years. She just loved me and prayed for me . . . for 20 long years. And it worked! The Word of God doesn’t change based on our feelings.                                                                  

… What does change look like for the gay person who becomes a Christian?

When we are regenerated, our affections change. Not just in the area of sexuality, but in everything else: our attitude toward money, success, relationships. In terms of so-called conversion therapy, I don’t think it’s something we should force. I still struggle with same-sex attraction (even though it has greatly diminished and no longer dominates my thought life like it did before God saved me). But he can do anything. He created the universe, so he can reorient our attractions.

Sometimes I pray that God would heal the sexual brokenness in me, especially given that I was molested when I was a child by a friend’s father (which I think had a larger effect on my sexual development than I used to admit). Who [knows?] God may change my desires one day. We’ll see. But for now, I’m happy to just be single and celibate for the rest of my life. I’m happy to deny myself and take up my cross and follow Jesus.       

                                                                                                                                       

What have been the biggest costs to you in choosing to follow Jesus? What’s been the biggest gain?

God had a lot of grace on me the day he saved me. Giving up the gay life wasn’t that difficult; it was actually quite easy. I had just met [Jesus,] and the relationship with him was so overwhelming and wonderful and all-consuming. Oddly enough, I was relieved I didn’t have to date anymore.

When you’re in that life, you’re constantly pressured to date. My friends were always trying to set me up. If you’re not in a relationship, people think something’s wrong with you. [So,] I was really relieved to not do that anymore. Like I say in the book, all my ex-boyfriends cheated on me, which is common; it’s like de rigueur for this world. But in my relationship with [Christ,] I felt so safe. I didn’t have to perform.

It was all quid pro quo with my ex-boyfriends. They were all artists. One was in a band that was super successful. One was a major writer in New York. It was always this thing where, if you’re not achieving enough or at this certain level, then you might be out. You also had to be in shape all the time! You couldn’t be out of shape for two seconds; [otherwise,] you were kicked out of the [club] or had to move to Palm Springs …

It was such a relief to be in this relationship with Christ. It didn’t feel [costly] because I was so full of joy. But it did cost me some friends, some really deep, lifelong relationships. A lot of my friends were semi-supportive, but some of my closest friends were not. That was painful, but at the [time,] I was so euphoric I didn’t care.

Once the book came out, some of the friendships that were lingering and semi-alive vanished for good. I was cut off from several people, some of the closest friends of my life. The gain is like Paul said: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:8). Malcolm Muggeridge has that famous quote about how all the fame and money and success of the world is nothing, less than nothing, compared to knowing Christ. The gain is this relationship with God through Christ. Eternal life. It’s this impenetrable joy because of not only knowing [Christ] but knowing the meaning of life—where I came from, what I’m doing, where I’m going. It gives me such peace.158

THRIVING AFTER INFIDELITY: A STORY OF TWO AFFAIRS

When I was a young girl attending a private Christian school, I knew that there were two reasons for getting a divorce, and no more. 

Unfaithfulness

Abuse of spouse or children

It was presented to me as a set of laws, cut and dry, black and white. I never really thought about it any further than I was told. 

I grew up and got married (at the ripe age of 20) and learned immediately that marriage is one very hard fight. You’re fighting for something you both said you wanted against every ounce of selfishness in each of you combined. For Brian and I, it was very rough and took a long time. We went through loads of hurt and even some betrayal (to a smaller degree than cheating), which I will eventually share, but I finally got it. Marriage is tough, and it’s not for the faint of heart. We were willing to stick it out and bury our feet in the dirt, hand-in-hand, but it didn’t get any easier until we both matured and let God do some serious work on us. 

After seeing how difficult marriage can be, I started thinking about the two laws of marriage I had been taught in school. No wonder it was ‘okay’ to get a divorce after someone cheats. This thing is hard enough as it is! Who could take that?

Someone who embodies all the humility and grace as Christ Himself did when He walked the soil of [the] earth. Someone who is willing to say no to the hatred wanting to collect in their heart and say yes to the hard road of forgiveness. Someone who knows there’s more to life than just being happy, and there’s more to [commitment,] too. 

Armelina and Ben Stevens were married when they were eighteen and nineteen years old, in Spring of 2007. They were Christians, but didn’t have relationships with Jesus. Their communication only existed to bring one another down, they argued constantly, their lives were all about themselves and never each other. 

“We had no idea what it took to have a good marriage, nor did we care. We each did what we [wanted,]” Armelina tells me. 

“After a few years and three kids, we both ended up having affairs. At that [point,] we were both so broken.”

Armelina and Ben Stevens were married when they were eighteen and nineteen years [old] in Spring of 2007. They were [Christians] but didn’t have relationships with Jesus. Their communication only existed to bring one another [down. They] argued constantly, their lives were all about themselves and never each other. 

Some incredible things have happened in the Stevens family since that dark time, and I sat down to interview Armelina and get her story. It’s one of those ones that should be shared with the [world] because it’s a bright white beam of light and hope in a world where ending a marriage means little more than the inconvenience of paperwork. 

Me: [So,] Ben came to you about his affair, knowing about yours, and you sort of had it out that night?

Armelina Stevens: Yes. It was a hard talk to [have,] and I ended up leaving, going outside, and not wanting to talk about it or deal with it for about a week. I was furious with him. 

Me: You said divorce was never an option, even after you and your husband came clean about your affairs. What kept you from feeling like your marriage was too broken to be worth saving?

AS: We have always been Christians, but we didn’t have a relationship with the Lord. I spent the week after smoking cigarettes outside, processing, thinking of what to do. My husband said he was willing to bring us back to church, get back to God. I saw that God was changing him right before my eyes. I knew that had to mean something good, something different. I just couldn’t say ‘see ya later’ after that. I could see what God was doing and what we were able to become. 

Me: What was the state of your feelings toward your husband during your affair? During the reconciliation?

AS: I didn’t show much of my negative feelings at first because of the kids. There was this one day where I felt God on me, and my feelings were completely overridden by His presence. I had peace. 

After everything happened, I kissed him for the first time in a parking lot, a week after we confessed to each other. That was the most passionate kiss I’ve ever had. It felt like we were remarried. You could feel the fresh start.

Me: You said your kids were hurting because they saw you were arguing and unhappy together, and you both saw that in them. Did you initially stay together just for them, and [that’s what] led into loving each other again? 

AS: It really wasn’t about the kids. It was just a desire to be a happily married couple, to love each other through even the toughest times till death do us part. We really wanted that deep down. Our pastor told [us] it’s God first, then each other, then your kids. I heard that and thought, [yes, I want that kind of relationship.] Now our kids are so much happier that we are putting each other first.

Me: You mentioned it took about a week after his confession for your worlds to break down and for you to come together willing to work on things. Why was it a week? What were you [feeling,] and what was going on during that time?

AS: I just felt so guilty for what I had done. I just wanted to cry and get everything out. A part of me wanted to believe that his affair was [worse,] and I was so angry; I wrestled with that during that week. [Eventually,] I realized sin is [sin;] there are no levels. When you ask [forgiveness,] God casts it away from you, and that’s it. I knew if things were going to get better, I had to act that out in my marriage. 

Me: What would you say to the wife who has been unfaithful and doesn’t know what to do now?

AS:  Get counseling. Pull your Bible out. Talk to a trustworthy, godly friend who will encourage you in your marriage. I didn’t have that. I only had friends who told me to leave my husband. That was so hard, and I had to make friends through a new Bible study. Basically, buckle down and pray. It’s so [cliché,] but it’s honestly the best thing you can do. That’s where God speaks to us. 

Me: What would you say to the wife who has been betrayed in her [marriage] and chosen to forgive and move on, but continues to bring up the past to her husband?

AS: [Oh,] I struggled with that so bad for a couple of years after we reconciled. I would just get so angry and irritated, Satan kept reminding me of what Ben had [done,] and I would throw it in his face. The fact is, who was I to say something to him?! I had done the same thing. [So,] to that [wife,] I would say, keep your mouth shut. Open it only to encourage and pray for your heart and for him. You chose to [forgive,] so keep on choosing it. 

Me: Were there any specific verses or quotes that really resonated with you during the moving on process?

AS: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. That’s the passage we were given to read together. Love endures all [things;] it never fails. That’s God. How amazing is it that we serve a God who forgives and forgets? Not once does God bring it up again. That’s a model for us in our marriages. It’s such an overused [passage,] but when I took it for that horrible situation, it came alive and took on a new meaning. 

Me: I’m gonna get awkward and ask the question I think a lot of women need to hear about from someone who has been through it. Was coming together again sexually a bumpy road for the two of you? How soon after everything did that happen for you guys?

AS: It was after we went to counseling. My husband was willing to wait until I was [ready,] and he told me that. I felt God moving us into starting the healing process, and being intimate with one another was what that looked like for us. I didn’t need a waiting process.  

Me: Do you have any advice for other wives in similar circumstances when it comes to being intimate with their husbands again?

AS: Do it only when you’re ready. When you feel completely ready to give yourself back to your husband physically and not think about anyone else, that’s the time. Before our [affairs,] we were both bored and just not really trying. After all this happened, our intimacy is amazing. I’m so glad you’re asking me about this because it’s a part of the process I think is surprising that I really wanted to share to encourage someone who needs to hear this. I wasn’t enjoying it before at all, but now sex is so much more pleasurable and romantic and sweet. We are so much more connected. I am more attracted to [him,] and I can’t wait for him to get home every night. Every time we are [together,] it gets better. I am so thankful for the changes that difficult time brought to our sex life. God woke us up. He woke us up in every area. We weren’t having intimacy before.

Me: Do you think that’s because you weren’t giving yourselves over to each other emotionally that your physical intimacy wasn’t satisfying?

AS: Yes, absolutely.

Ben and Armelina are the pictures of what God can do if you’ll allow him into your relationships and into the brokenness that comes from being human. I am so honored they let me share their story and so thankful to Armelina for her raw honesty. We shouldn’t feel shameful for our stories of sin and restoration. These are the stories that will change the world.159

FREE FROM PEDOPHILIA

Can I be free from Pedophilia? I don’t think the sexual feelings will ever go away [on] this side of heaven. It is possible that God could do a miracle and rewire a person’s brain, and I believe that might happen for some people – God treats us all as individuals. But that’s not been the case for me, and the sexual feelings are still there. However, I am free from pedophilia in the sense that it doesn’t rule my life.

I used to be held captive by [it] daily. Unwanted thoughts would tumble into my mind, which would lead to fantasies. The step between fantasies and taking action can be a small one. Pornography is one of the first steps toward harming a child. Feeling guilty and ashamed would occupy the rest of my day.

The tension can be overwhelming at times. A friend described it as a faucet that’s running, but there’s no drain. It threatens to overflow and make a horrible mess. Where can we find help?

Jesus said that he would bring freedom to the prisoners chained in darkness. I so desperately needed his [help] because I couldn’t escape on my own. In the Bible, God [led] his people out of slavery in Egypt. He said he [wanted] to do that for all his children. I know I am a slave to pedophilia. It troubled my past, bullies me now, and threatens my future. How can God lead me to freedom? How will Jesus break these chains?

The answer: A new life.

Jesus starts a new life inside you that’s different from the old life. That may sound weird, but it makes perfect sense. If I ask Jesus to be part of my life, he brings something new. It begins small, but when I choose to share that new life with him, it gets stronger. Little by little, it overcomes the old.

The new life is a spiritual life. That’s where the expression “born again” comes from. It’s like being born a second time. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it, but it’s definitely different. It’s like seeing new colors – how would you explain it? All you can do is say it’s “like” this or that…

It’s like hope that you can stand on. It’s [believing,] but you can know. It’s like being happy, except it’s a joy that goes beyond any reason you can find. It’s like being loved, and it’s a love that makes you greater. It gives you purpose like a fire burning inside. It’s being [clean] because you’re continually washed from the inside out. It is the best experience in all the world to be loved by God and to let him give you his new life!

The choice belongs to you and me every step of the way. God will never force himself on a person. He is very humble. I know that I could choose to walk away at any point. I could tell [him no]. But, where would I go? With [him,] I found love and life.

Each time I choose to follow him, that new life gets stronger. I do not look at inappropriate material. I turn my [head] rather than stare. I do not allow my mind to fantasize. I have strict boundaries with children. Feelings of attraction may come, but they do not occupy my thoughts or rule my daily life. God has led me down a path of freedom from pedophilia.

I recognize that these are behavior choices, and someone will say that I’m curing myself without any help from God. I don’t believe that’s [true] because I know from personal experience that my own willpower was never enough to sidestep sexual attraction. If God is real (and I believe he is), a relationship with him must have profound effects. [We, humans,] are influenced by the company we keep, and I recommend anyone spend [to] time in the company of Jesus. It will change you.

When God looks at you, he sees you as a new creation in Christ. You have a new identity that was created when Jesus rose from the grave. You are in the process of living that out – “growing in every way more and more like Christ” (Eph 4:15). Yes, those feelings of attraction remain; pedophilia is a physical condition that affects our neurons. [But] you are now a child of God, and you are walking step by step forward with him.

Pedophilia gave me shame, isolation, and the risk of harming others. God has given me love, healthy relationships, and the freedom to live again. I know that pedophilia will present a challenge until I go to [heaven;] therefore, I guard myself. But, I’m not in chains anymore. Jesus set me free.

(Jesus) found the place where it is written: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.  And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ ~Luke 4:16-21

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 28:29-30160

I WAS A PROSTITUTE, BUT JESUS TOLD ME I BELONG TO HIM FOREVER

In the autumn, Jaleh, a quiet, rather sullen woman, arrived at an Elam conference. Nobody knew that when she was [fourteen,] she had been raped as a punishment for joining a school protest; that when she told the authorities they had whipped her for immorality; that her father had then repeatedly abused her; as did other relatives. Nobody knew shame had driven Jaleh to the streets to work as a prostitute, nor of all the babies aborted from her womb. All that was known was that she had recently become a Christian through a house church and had a husband who was scornful [toward] her new faith. At the end of the conference, apart from one leader, this woman’s past was still private. But what everyone knew, just from her face, was that she had had an encounter with Jesus Christ. Here Jaleh tells her story:

A few months after I became a [Christian,] I went to a conference just for women. Their stories encouraged me, but I started to worry about why He never spoke to [me] or came into my dreams. I decided they were better than me. I was not worthy enough for Him to get near to me. Until [now,] my past was a complete secret, but I decided to share [it] with one of the ladies leading the conference. I told her everything and then asked for a glimpse of Jesus in my dream. The lady did not promise a [dream] but kept on reassuring me of God’s love for me. For the next few [nights,] I slept, expecting to see Jesus. He did not come. I thought that it was because of my past. I was not good enough. A painful darkness grew inside me, and [even during this] conference, I thought of running away and going back to prostitution.

[Again,] I went to the leader and asked for prayer to dream about Jesus. She was happy to [pray] but was firm about the dream. “You cannot box God in. It is up to Him how He reveals Himself to you.” We prayed and [prayed,] and I got bored. I really wanted her to finish so I could go to bed and maybe dream of Jesus. But as we prayed, I softened. I began to feel God’s presence and His presence was thicker and [thicker] until I could not stand up [anymore]. I was frightened with a Holy fear. I kept [screaming: ‘I am frightened! Do something! He is awesome…help me. I am frightened!’] But I could not come out of His presence. The lady told me not to be frightened and to enjoy His presence. Oh, I was so full of praise! His presence was wonderful. I wanted to stay there [forever] and praise Him. I could not find words for the adoration I felt. A jumble of songs came out! It was as if my whole being was rejoicing and dancing before Him. I could not see His [face,] but He was there looking at me.                   

He said, “Were you about to give up? Did you know that I am your friend? I love you! I love you! I have always loved you. You are mine!” His hands were so strong. He held my [hands,] and it was as if we were dancing together. I felt that my body was light and lifted to Him. I was free from any burden of guilt and shame; I was light as a feather. I was so full of joy that I remember I started laughing uncontrollably. I felt that Jesus was laughing with me. I was swirling and laughing and praising. I felt that the sky was opening and that a shiny light came down surrounding me. When I went home after the conference, my husband could not believe the changes in me. I told him about my encounter with Jesus. He asked me to pray for him. He started coming to church with [me,] and now he has become a Christian. I was a [prostitute,] but as He told me in my vision, I am His; I belong to Him [forever,] and nothing can take this away from me.                                                                                                              

Modern Day Magdalene

Jaleh’s story doesn’t stop with her salvation. Like Mary Magdalene in the Bible, her [life] and her family’s life has been truly transformed by the grace and love of Jesus Christ. She, [along] with her husband (who is now clean of drugs), are now committed members of a house church where they are growing as Christians. Life for them is [hard.] Jaleh’s husband works as a market trader in a notorious part of town where drug dealers and prostitutes congregate. This presents much opportunity to evangelize but also temptations from the past are never far away. They feel called to life in full-time [ministry, and] so are praying that if it is God’s will that they will have an opportunity to study.161

After introducing these articles, one of the thoughts that came [to mind] was that maybe I shouldn’t have introduced as many. And then I thought, why, as a reader should we be in a hurry. This book is all about helping others not only in their dysfunctional sexual relationships but also in every aspect of their lives. Hopefully, one or more of these stories will have impacted someone who is reading this book and provide them with the insight needed to either make a decision for God to come into their life and make them a new person or if God has already done so to apply some of the insights that will help them learn how to become a daily overcomer in whatever area of sexual inclinations that have had a hold over them.

As many have said in these articles that in order to change within, you need someone who can provide the changes needed. The initial change that is needed is to receive a new nature. Only God can give you this. Would you like to receive this new nature right now? If you would, then say these words inwardly or out loud.

God the Father, I acknowledge that I have sinned in many areas, such as slandering others; having sexual relations outside of marriage; being jealous; having participated in alcohol or drug abuse; having sex with others of the same gender; committing adultery; taking money from others in a deceitful manner; committed rape; engaged in pedophilia; etc. I don’t want to continue in these mental, verbal, and overt sins. I need a new nature.

I believe in your Son Jesus Christ as one of the members of the Trinity, who as God pre-existed time; came to the earth and took on the form of a man, being born of a virgin (no sin nature); lived a sinless life; listened to and obeyed the directives of his Father; went to the cross and paid for the penalty of and forgave the sins of the whole world; rose from the dead after three days, never to die again, walked the earth in His resurrection body for 40 days witnessing to over 500 people, and ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God the Father.

And according to your promise, send the Holy Spirit to come and indwell my body thus imparting to me a new nature. Thank you, I am now a new spiritual creature.

Now, begin to assist me in helping me to overcome whatever areas are in my life that have brought about misery so that I can learn how to be set free from them. Again, thank you.

I have one last section to leave you with. Contained are my closing thoughts. I’ll see you there.

 

FULFILLING MY SPIRITUAL DESTINY

I hope you enjoyed this study. I can only say I had no idea of writing on the topic of TESTIMONY. Certain events seemed to take place, which drew me to this subject, such as reporting about the sexual abuse of young boys in a mainstream church on TV and an article about a different mainstream church that my wife found online whose founder confessed to having engaged in such. And so, I decided to read this article in which some of the members of this church had expressed their sexual preferences for members of the same sex and felt that they were unjustly treated by fellow believers and church leaders.

So, after hearing their comments, I decided to see if what they said their concerns were, was supported by Scripture. This was done not to condemn them but to provide scriptural clarity, whether in agreement with their comments or not. All of us, Christians, have perceptions about this or that to which only the Word of God can provide the answers. Once we know what the Word has to say, then it’s up to us to obey its instructions or not.

One who can testify that walking by faith is not easy is me. After I got saved and began to hear sound doctrinal teaching, I soon realized how most of my thoughts, words, and actions were not aligned with how God would have me to think, speak, and act. Some beautiful descriptions of what the words sound doctrine mean are found in the book of 2 Timothy.         

2 Timothy 4:3

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;    

The words sound doctrine refers to sound (or healthful) doctrine, with reference to the effect produced because it actually instructs to godliness.162 Another definition for sound doctrine is that it is doctrine contributing to the health of the soul.163 As I continued to hear about how God thought about me, I decided to appropriate these truths for myself, and subsequently, the realization of God’s perspective slowly became the reality of how I thought about myself, others, and the circumstances of life. There is a beautiful verse that exemplifies this.

Galatians 6:8

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

He that chooses to sow (concentrate on) the natural desires of his flesh will reap corruption (moral and spiritual decay). But he that chooses to sow (concentrate on) the desires of the Spirit, i.e., the desire of promoting his own spiritual growth164 and of concentrating on the fruit of the Spirit165 will reap life everlasting. What does it mean to reap life everlasting? It means we reap the blessings of the eternal life which God has given him.166 And just what are these blessings of eternal life that God has given us? Some of these blessings are found in the book of 1 John.

1 John 5:11

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

The words eternal life refers to the zoe or abundant life that God has given us. The zoe life pertains to all those superadded things which are needful to make that life eminently blessed and happy.167 Some of these superadded things are the indwelling Holy Spirit and His fruit (influences; graces; elements of character), which when developed causes us to have rest [(refreshment and rejuvenation) for our souls; to experience times of refreshing (divine peace regulating, ruling, and harmonizing the heart) and joy (inner happiness without any kind of mental agony or fear); and to operate in righteousness (correctness in thinking, feeling and acting; upright character and disposition; integrity)].

Is this the kind of life you want to operate in?

If you do, then choose to sow to the Word of God and the Spirit, and you will see the sexual inclinations, passions, and desires of your flesh decrease and all that God has for you to operate in increase so that your life evidences these inner changes to both believers and unbelievers, who will be drawn to want to find out how your life has been so dramatically transformed.

God Bless You!

If you would like to communicate with me, then please respond via my email address:  rondolord@hotmail.com. My website is www.makingtheonerightchoice.com. I also provide weekly teachings on various Biblical topics by following this link: http://bit.ly/1N9SHdX.           

            

Endnotes

156Weust.

157 Kayla Armstrong, “Joyce Meyer overcame abuse by her father,” 2017. GODREPORTS. 15 January, 2020

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158 Becket Cook and Brett McCracken, “From Gay to Gospel: The Fascinating Story of Becket Cook,” 2019. TGC. 17 January 2020

.

159 Allie Casazza, “Thriving After Infidelity: A Story of Two Affairs,”2016.

.

160 “Free from Pedophilia,” 14 January 2020

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161 “I was a prostitute, but Jesus told me I belong to Him forever,” Elam. 15 January 2020 .

162 Calvin's Commentaries.

163 Barnes’ Notes.

164 Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament, 2000. 20 April 2019

˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

165 UBS New Testament.

166 Weust.

167 Barnes’ Notes.

 

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My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader.

I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life.

I attended Bible college, having completed a two-year Christian Leadership Course of Study and graduated as valedictorian (Summa Cum Laude).

Studying and teaching the Word of God has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.

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