Sexual Sin: Finding Freedom


sexual sin artSexual sin wants to take you hostage, my friend.

Isn’t the world’s sex doctrine everywhere today? Surf the Internet, browse cable TV stations, flip though magazines, listen to lyrics — the world’s message on sex says, “Porn is normal and harmless. Adultery is fun. Something’s wrong with you if you’re still a virgin by the time you graduate high school. Experiment sexually any way you want it.”

The truth, the world’s just-do-it sex doctrine enslaves your soul. It enslaves your mind.

In my counseling — in person or by Skype — I bring the hope of the gospel to every sort of sexual sin. The Bible clearly teaches that if you’re a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ your sins have been completely and forever forgiven (Ephesians 1:7; 4:32; Colossians 2:13-14; 3:13; 1 John 2:12).

What I’m about to say now is super important: Sexual sin is no worse than any other sin. Lesbianism / transgender identity / same-sex attraction — these are not the “unforgivable” sin. Nor is adultery (his or yours) or fornication (i.e., sex without marriage) or viewing/reading porn.

Yet sexual sin destroys relationships and opens wide the door to anxiety and depression and shame, even addictions. I cannot say it better than Dr. Juli Slattery, who wrote on her blog:

Consuming “junk sex” is immoral. What we eat only affects our temporal bodies, but what we do with our sexuality impacts our eternal souls.

I recently spoke with a woman who, after describing her promiscuous past flat-out stated, “I feel like my soul is dead. I don’t know how to connect with a man, and I don’t know how to connect with God anymore.” Although you may not be able to physically see the damage done by casual sex, there are women all around us who can testify to its destructive force.

In this article, you’ll discover 3 paths to freedom from sexual sin and to renewal.

  1. Share your story safely.
  2. Have an “escape plan.”
  3. Check your heart.

1. Share Your Story of Sexual Sin

Choose a safe person — a woman at your church, a counselor, a trusted female neighbor, or family member — to share your broken story.

What if you don’t have a safe person in your life? Then please contact me or another counselor on the Heart2Heart Counselor Directory at my website. In person or by Skype, I’ll listen. No judgment. Hey, I have my story too. Doesn’t every woman?

When you share your story, emotions like shame and fear dissipate. You sense hope.

2. Have an Escape Plan

A favorite Bible verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13 because it’s full of hope and promise.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

sexual sin artWhen sexual sin has infiltrated your life, you need an escape plan. The wonderful thing is, God has provided the way of escape. Every believer has the Holy Spirit living inside her, guiding her, encouraging her, convicting her.

You are not alone. God is with you and loves you deeply. He cannot love you any less than he does, no matter what you’ve done and where you’ve been.

God gives you wisdom too (James 1:1). Pray and ask God for the wisdom to devise practical steps when tempted. They might include–

  • names of trusted godly girlfriends to call when tempted.
  • specific Bible verses to think on.
  • Internet protection like Covenant Eyes
  • ideas to get you away from your temptation, such as going to the gym or hanging out at a coffee shop.

Remember, Jesus was tempted by Satan for 40 days in the desert and didn’t sin. (Temptation itself is not wrong.) Check out Matthew 4:1-11 and see how Jesus responded.

3. Check Your Heart

Ultimately, you and I do what we do because we think what we think. The Bible uses the term “heart” as the seat of our desires and motivations. When you desire sexual sin, your thoughts overflow to actions. . .unless you use your escape plan.

Freedom from sexual sin requires a heart set on pleasing God, not self.

Many Christian women want to end sexual immorality. They know it’s wrong. They are ashamed. Still, you are a sinner and struggle with the desires of the flesh. Like the apostle Paul, you do what you don’t want to do and don’t do what you want to do (Romans 5:17).

In counseling women dealing with sexual sin, I’ve discovered a two-fold process in renewing the mind and changing the desires of the heart

  • Correcting false beliefs about God.
  • Keeping a Renew Your Thoughts Journal.

If you’d like to know more about either, please contact me and I’ll send you a free download.

Be encouraged: Sexual sin wants to take you hostage but Jesus has a radical love for you, and his radical love changes you.

Sharing hope with your heart,

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1 Thing Every Friend Needs

friend

Friend, I hope you’ll love this replay of one of my popular posts. I made a few edits and changed the photo but my heart on friendship remains true. Jill Savage and her daughter Annie have a new book on moms and friendship. It’s titled Better Together: Because You’re Not Meant to Mom It Alone. You might want to check it out.

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The one thing every friend needs is. . .someone who accepts our messiness and loves us in the messy.

Let’s be honest. Friendships scare you and me.

Friendships meet a God-given need for relationship, so why do few women make friends as easily as my college-aged daughter Julia? She collects friends like shiny pennies. She and her friends — girls and guys — always texttweetsnap chat, and meet IRL (in real life) over lunch, dinner, snacks, more snacks — all their waking hours.

She’s the girl I wanted to be in high school, the girl with gravitational pull.

Could some of your and I fear we’re too messy to be lovable? accepted? to have a place of belonging?

Why a Friend Matters

A friend is “someone you feel close to, see often, and can count on when you need her” This is a definition Dee Brestin shared in her iconic book, The Friendships of Women.

A friend helps you know you matter to her. . .even when your life get messy.

And who doesn’t have a messy life? Sometimes “super women” look like that they have it all together. They don’t. They’re hiding behind masks. Perhaps perfection or busyness or materialism or career-climbing.

Please be assured that they’re messy too.

Listen to Elyse Fitzpatrick, a biblical counselor, conference speaker, and author:

Until recent years, even though I knew I was to serve God, I never had my priorities straight. I never understood that my problem was me — not my husband, job, kids, car, parents . . .you fill in the blanks. I was confused and the psychological pholosophies that had crept into my thinking were making things worse. Didn’t I neeed to learn to love myself? Didn’t I need to get my needs met? Didn’t I have a need for romance? For security? For significance? How could God expect me to pour my life out for others then I was so miserable myself? Didn’t I need to fill my own ‘love cup’ before I could fill others? (from Women Helping Women, Harvest House, 1997)

After digging deep into the Bible for God’s truth, her focus changes and she recognizes her messiness and the solution to it.

Now I understand that I’m not to be concerned with whether my perceived ‘needs’ are being met. These ‘needs’ are not issues for me anymore because I believe that God have given me everything for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). It’s not that I’m perfect, I’m not. In fact, I’m far more aware of my sin now than ever before. It’s just that life makes sense now and I’m confident that my loving Father is in control.

Yes, she needs friends. Just as I do and you do.

Real friends.Our real friends give hugs and listen when we have real hurts and laugh with us not at us. Because they listen, our friends encourage and strengthen us. They help us know we are not alone.

Do you have a friend you encourages you? How do you encourage your friends? Hugs? Notes? Listening? Laughing?

Are You Friend “Challenged”?

God is piloting me through a friend-free zone now, and I don’t like it. My once close friends got busy and I got busy too — with work, with family responsibilities. Does your busy life make time for friends? How can you schedule in friend time so you can encourage her and be encouraged?

I cried to God, “I feel friendless and I don’t like it.”

The Lord spoke to my heart: “Come to Me.”

Quiet sharpens my hearing.

Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10, NIV

I sensed that the Lord will renew friendships and bring new ones. . .in his time. He’s giving me another opportunity to trust him. Do you feel friend challenged too? If so does this bring on feelings of worthlessness?

You Matter

Whether you have a bazillion girlfriends like my daughter, Julia, or just a few — or none — God says you matter. When friendships become hurtful, you matter.

It’s not the number of friends on Facebook that matters most. So stop counting. Stop comparing.

What matters most is your friendship with your Maker, and he’ll take care of the rest. Honest. God knows your need of friendship better than you do. 

Now What?

Here are a few “You Matter” verses from God’s heart to yours. Why not memorize one or two this week?

“I am a child of God.” John 1:12

“I am a saint.” Ephesians 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:2, Philippians. 1:1, Colossians 1:2

“I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.” Colossians 3:12, 1 Thessalonians 1:4

“I am God’s workmanship — his handiwork — born anew in Christ to do his work.”  Ephesians 2:10 

Sweet friend, be sure to read the next post. Simply subscribe to my blog now while it’s on your mind.

Sharing hope with your heart!

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3 Traps of Performance-Living

performancePerformance-living is a mindset that says what you do determines your value.

It is a lie.

This lie tempts you to save yourself as you give in to its demands. Do you feel weary? Burdened? Exhausted? Then you may have a bad case of performance-living.

And it’s very demanding, a taskmaster, demanding that you get your own straw to make bricks and meet the quota (Exodus 5:6-9). Push, push, hurry, hurry — and look good as you try performance-living.

It has at least three traps.

1. Performance-living: Achieve!

Performance-living ties your achievement to your value as a person. The more you achieve, the greater your value. What about people who aren’t smart like Steve Jobs? Do they have less value because they aren’t “Person of the Year”? The psalmist says,

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18, NIV

2. Performance-living: Beautify!

It links your looks to your value. The lie is only the young and beautiful matter. Haven’t you used makeup to cover a blemish? Or perhaps Root Rescue to hide gray? Or gone on a diet or exercised to lose weight and tone up?

Believing beauty determines your worth is a treadmill of anxiety and it’s exhausting. The apostle Peter writes,

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4

Beauty is a gentle and quiet spirit. Not liposuction!

3. Performance-living: Be Perfect!

graceWant anxiety? Derive your value from perfection: well-behaved kids, a gorgeous home, a fulfilling career, and. . .lead a small group, keep a prayer journal faithfully, and read the Bible in a year, every year.

This is what God wants, right? Perfection? Doesn’t Jesus say, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)? Here Jesus means growth into maturity of godliness. He doesn’t mean super-woman performance-living.

When you “succeed,” performance-living becomes pride.

When you “fail,” performance-living turns into anger, fear, and depression, resulting in all kinds of untoward behavior unbecoming of a Christian woman. Your thoughts morph into ugliness too.

Gospel-Centered Solution

Exchange performance-living for grace-living. Grace-living is believing and acting on the truth of the good news that God loves you and values you. Your value isn’t dependent on what you do. God determines your value, and aren’t you more precious to him than a sparrow?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

The gospel isn’t something you do. Grace is a gift of God. There is no score card. No boxes to check. No to-do lists.

Your value is anchored in Christ’s accomplishment, not yours. Refreshing, isn’t it?

Sharing hope with your heart,

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Body Language Talks Loudly!

body languageBody language and tone of voice — Isn’t is hard to believe that these are far more important in communicating your feelings and attitudes than your words?

Clear communication matters in every relationship you have. The clearer your communication, the stronger your marriage and your friendships, even your interaction with a Starbucks barista. There are three main parts to any message: your body language (especially facial expression), your tone of voice, and your words.

God values loving and truthful communication. Did you know all talk is really heart talk?

“Christ recognized that all talk is heart talk. . . .our words affirm our inner condition,” says Joe Stowell in The Weight of Your Words.

Everything you say — your words, body language, and tone of voice — reveals the desires and motivations of your heart. Your heart is the immaterial part of your being; it is your “control center.” Your beliefs, values, desires, and motivations reside in your heart and are exposed though your words as well as your actions, emotions, and thoughts.

CRAZY FACT: Your words are the least important part of your message! Only 7 percent of your message is verbal. Facial expressions are the most important (55 percent), followed by tone of voice (38 percent). These percentages are based on well-known research by Dr. Albert Mehrabian, professor emeritus, UCLA.

In this article, you’ll get two important insights

  1. Why body language is super important.
  2. How to give a clear message.

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Why Body Language Is Super Important

Body language is visual. It is the most important part of interpersonal communication. A person’s eyes are especially important. Read more about the eyes. Some examples of body language:

  • Crossed arms
  • Raised eyebrows
  • Shoulder shrug
  • Pursed lips
  • Smirk
  • Pointing finger
  • Staring
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Rapid blinking
  • Shifting from foot to foot
  • Drumming fingers
  • Covering mouth with hand
  • Smiling

The examples are nearly endless. What would you add to the list?

Two pictures:

A while back I talked with a teenage girl who didn’t want to talk to me. I asked a few easy questions about school and after-school activities, and she answered politely. Her tone of voice was generally friendly, as were her words. How how could I could I tell she wanted to be anyplace but my office? She looked to the side and she looked down, but never made eye contact. I asked her straight-out: Did your parents make you come? “Yes,” she blurted, her eyes on me, finally.

Another time I met with a twenty-something woman who had a story to share. She stammered. She looked down. She twisted a tissue in her hands. Before she said a word, I knew her story was difficult and painful.

One reason I prefer to meet with counselees in person or by Skype is to see their nonverbal communication. Some biblical counselors call it “halo data” — vital information you see and even hear, such as a sigh or a clearing of the throat. It gives important information so that — in Christ’s strength — I can counsel well.

If I didn’t see my counselee’s body language, I’d have an incomplete message.

How to Give a Clear Message

Have you played the game “Match the Pair”? Cards are placed faced down, and you turn over two at a time. When you get a matching pair, you get a point. You use visual cues alone to try to win the most pairs.

In regular communication, body language and tone of voice matter greatly, as you know. To give — and receive — a clear message, you need to match up all three parts of communication: body language, tone of voice, and words.

Mary Kassian says in Conversation Peace,  “All three parts of the message must align and be consistent to the for the message to be believed.” For example, if you use friendly words, but your brow is furrowed and your voice sounds snarky, then your message will be disregarded. Your communication confuses more than it helps.

To give a clear message, be sure to match up the three parts of a message.

Think of a recent time you experienced a communication mishap. Did your tone of voice match your words? How about your facial expressions and body language? Did they line up with your verbals?

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With your mouth, you can tell the truth or lie, encourage or complain, boast or speak humbly. What you say reveals what’s going on inside the deep part of you.

Would you like to start saying what you mean and improve your relationships with others and with God? Contact me to set up a time for a free 15-minute phone consult. May you continue to experience God’s smile on you.

Sharing hope with your heart,

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