Redefining Purity

“I believe you carry purity,” a fellow student said to me at church a couple years ago. I nodded my head and smiled politely. It wasn’t the first time I had heard that. People often said things like that when they prayed for me or encouraged me. I was hoping to hear something like remarkable intelligence or incredible boldness. Truthfully, I was kind of disappointed to keep hearing purity.

I didn’t mask my true feelings too well though, because the student saw my reaction and said, “Not the ‘Aw you’re innocent, good job,’ kind of purity. But the kind of purity that can change the world.

That caught my attention. If there’s a kind of purity that can change the world, I will take it.

As I dove deeper into this idea of purity, I began to realize it’s actually an invitation into freedom. We can sometimes get caught up in all the “no’s” of the bible and think that God is just another authority figure looking down on us and waiting for us to please Him. The truth is, God doesn’t say no to certain things to take away our liberty, He actually says no to protect it.


God invites you to partner with Him to keep yourself free.


God wants freedom for you, not bondage. He wants you to wake up in the morning and feel hope and expectation for what’s to come, not regret about the night before. He wants you to find the man or woman of your dreams and feel loved by them, fully loved, because you learned to receive love in its purest form. He wants you to live your life knowing that who you are is enough. He wants you to be in places of influence, walking out the deepest dreams and desires of your heart, without worrying about anything stopping you.

Sexual purity is a subject that can trigger shame for some people, but it’s not actually about what you did or didn’t do in your past. Your mistakes don’t disqualify you from carrying it. When you asked Jesus to come into your life and His blood washed you clean, you were called to become a carrier of freedom. Your past mistakes cannot be held against you or disqualify you anymore. Purity is evidence of God’s redemption story in your life. It’s deciding that nothing’s going to hold you  down, nothing’s going to hold you back, and nothing’s going to steal beauty, wonder, and goodness from your life. You’re free to live abundantly.

Purity may not get a lot of credit in our culture, but it is something worth fighting for. I see it in the faithfulness of a man who chooses to go home every day to his wife and kids and be a father and a husband. I see it in the courage of a young girl who asks her date to take her home after the dance, even though he’s dreamy, because one day she’s going to be someone’s wife and he’s going to be someone’s husband. I also see it in the young lady at the altar with tears in her eyes, asking a kind Father if He restores innocence that’s been lost, and finding that He does.

It may take every ounce of courage you have to live counter-culturally. It may take strength you never realized you possessed to say no to things the world places at your fingertips. If you do, you will definitely change your own life, and you might even change the world.

-Andrea Alley

ANDREA IS A GRADUATE OF THE SCHOOL OF MINISTRY AT BETHEL AND CURRENTLY SERVES ON THE WRITING TEAM FOR MORAL REVOLUTION. SHE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT SEEING THE CHURCH CARRY JOYFUL HOPE AND EXPECTATION IN EVERY AREA OF THEIR LIVES. SHE LONGS TO SEE THE UPCOMING GENERATION EQUIPPED AS STRONG LEADERS WHO STEWARD THEIR LIVES WELL AND INFLUENCE SOCIETY AS A RESULT. 
WEBSITE: ANDREADALLEY.COM 

 


9 Principles for Healthy Confrontation

When Jesus walked the earth, He had a few advantages over us. Minor things like He never sinned, for instance, so He never had to worry about hypocritically pointing out faults in others while neglecting His own. He was also God and knew the hearts of men; therefore, His assessments of people’s motives were always accurate. Undoubtedly, these advantages gave Him confidence and grace when it came to approaching a confrontation; He was neither shy nor overly harsh.

We, on the other hand, have to be told, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). According to this standard, confrontation must never involve yelling at someone, accusing him or her of evil, venting frustration or punishing the person for failing or hurting you. We must be especially careful about not judging the motives of people. In my experience, our so-called “gift of discernment” often turns out to be suspicion in disguise, especially when we are upset with someone.

Over the years, I have learned these nine principles for practicing the art of healthy confrontation:

 

1. WHEN A PROBLEM ARISES, GET AN APPOINTMENT TO TALK TO THE PERSON AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Waiting too long allows the seed of bitterness to gestate. Don’t wait for anger to be your counselor. Remember, this is not about punishing the person for his or her inappropriate behavior. You are meeting with the person for his or her benefit. The goal is to help mold the person into the image of God and reconcile your relationship.

 

2. LET THE PERSON KNOW HOW HIS OR HER BEHAVIOR HAS AFFECTED YOU.

Describe in detail how the person’s actions are making you feel.

 

3. KEEP YOUR ARMOR OFF BY BEING TRANSPARENT ABOUT YOUR OWN STRUGGLES.

When a person is responding to you, listen from your heart to his (her) heart. Many people are not good at articulating their struggles, so you often have to listen beyond their words. As the person is speaking to you, don’t develop your defenses or turn the conversation into a war of words. Ask questions that unearth the root problem. What is really wrong? What kind of core problem would cause these symptoms?

 

4. ALWAYS GIVE THE PERSON THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT, NO MATTER HOW HE OR SHE HAS BEHAVED.

Remind yourself that the person you are having a problem with was made in the image of God and, therefore, most likely has a good heart, even though his or her behavior is negatively affecting the environment. Never think of the person as an enemy, but instead as a wayward son or daughter (father or mother). Show honor at all times. Let the person know you believe in him or her.


Remember, you only have as much influence in someone’s life as they have value for you.


 

5. ASK THE PERSON HOW YOU CAN BE PART OF THE SOLUTION.

By this time, you may have found out that you are actually part of the problem. Maybe you are King David in this situation. Has your fear, weakness or dysfunction become a seedbed for the person’s strength to be overemphasized or his or her weakness to be exposed? Have you reacted to the way you were raised or to some negative circumstances in your own life?

 

6. IF OTHER PEOPLE ARE NOT PART OF THE PROBLEM OR PART OF THE SOLUTION, IT IS NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS.

Don’t talk to other people about your offense with the person. Don’t build a case against the person by bringing up other people’s names in the conversation, saying things like, “I talked to John and Mary and they have the same problem with you.” This just makes you look like a coward and a gossip. If you do that, don’t be surprised if the person being confronted feels like he or she is a victim of a gang assault. You are not there to be someone’s attorney.

On this note, if someone comes to you to talk about a problem with someone else, tell him or her to go talk to the person, not to you. I have 550 employees who work for me at Bethel Church. Many of my team members used to come up to me and begin to tell me about a struggle they were having with another staff member. Before they got 20 seconds into their discourse, I would interrupt them and ask, “Have you talked to this person yet?”

Nine out of ten times they would say, “No!”

Then I would ask them, “What business do you have talking to me if you haven’t even talked to the person who offended you?”

It is important to remember that a person who talks to you about someone else will one day be talking to someone about you. Allowing people to complain about others creates a culture of gossip. I personally will not tolerate it at Bethel.

 

7. IF YOU REALIZE DURING THE CONVERSATION THAT YOU ARE THE PROBLEM OR A PART OF THE DILEMMA, BE QUICK TO REPENT.

Humility always leads to repentance. Don’t defend yourself; leave your weapons outside the door. If the other person is wrong, verbally forgive him or her. Forgiveness restores the standard, so the person needs to be treated as if he/she never sinned after he or she repents.

 

8. IF YOU COME TO AN IMPASSE, HAVE SOMEONE YOU BOTH EQUALLY RESPECT JOIN YOU IN ANOTHER MEETING TO HELP RESOLVE THE ISSUE.

Bringing someone into the meeting that is not respected by one of the parties will only feel like the other person’s attorney is present. But a wise person who is not emotionally attached to the conflict can bring insightful perspective that is hard to see when you are in the middle of it, and will usually help bring the necessary resolution. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a problem with someone only to find out in a meeting with him or her that I am the problem. Having a respected third party present helped me see the truth.

 

9. LAST BUT NOT LEAST, DON’T WITHDRAW FROM THE PERSON AFTER A CONFLICT.

Make an extra effort to stay close to him or her during the healing process. This is often the difference between a long healthy relationship and a lifelong pattern of conflict.

A study was completed in the business world many years ago concerning this issue of conflict. The survey showed that when a customer had a problem with a business and the company satisfactorily solved the issue, that customer became many times more loyal to that store in the years that followed than they were before the conflict.

I believe that conflict and confrontation resolved inside the core values of the Kingdom actually strengthen our relationships. These struggles are the sign of real relationships where people feel safe to tell one another the truth in love. This creates covenant societies that bond around family values, instead of fatherless sibling rivalries where orphans vie for preeminence in the pecking order of the world’s chicken coop.

 

Originally published on krisvallotton.com.

 

KRIS VALLOTTON IS THE AUTHOR OF NUMEROUS BOOKS, CO-AUTHOR OF THE BEST SELLING SUPERNATURAL WAYS OF ROYALTY, AND IS A WELL-KNOWN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SPEAKER. KRIS IS THE FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF MORAL REVOLUTION, THE SENIOR ASSOCIATE LEADER OF BETHEL CHURCH, AND THE CO-FOUNDER OF BETHEL SCHOOL OF SUPERNATURAL MINISTRY.  HE AND HIS WIFE, KATHY, HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR 40 YEARS AND RESIDE IN REDDING, CALIFORNIA.  THEY HAVE FOUR GROWN CHILDREN AND EIGHT GRAND CHILDREN.

 

WEBSITE: KRISVALLOTTON.COM
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/KVMINISTRIES
TWITTER: TWITTER.COM/KVMINISTRIES
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How to Discover Missing Pieces of Your Calling

Several people meet with me because they don’t understand what their God-given calling is. God has always intended for us to be in relationship with Him while coming alive in what we do.

Most of us know Psalms 37:4 which says “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart” (NASB).

So why do we try to bury the pieces of our heart that are connected to our calling?

For some it might be due to divorcing the life they had before coming to Christ. Others may have grown up in church but feel like they can never find God’s will for their life. Regardless of the reason why, it’s sad when people are floundering in life while dismissing their God-given call.

I’m the last one to point a finger.

At eighteen years old I had to make a decision. It came at a time when I wanted little to do with God or the church. The last thing I was trying to figure out was the call on my life. That said, as I began the process of applying for the Marine Corps I was almost haunted by this thought: “Marine or Missionary?” I didn’t dare tell anyone what was going on because none of my friends at the time would understand.

I chose the Marines. I rationalized that decision because I figured the following:

• I don’t want to be poor.

• I don’t want anything to do with God

• There’s nothing exciting about being a missionary except traveling

• I’ll get to travel in the Marines. And fight (which I felt like I wanted at the time).

I had a longing to travel. I still do. It’s a desire that God placed in my heart before I was ever born. Even at eighteen I knew that traveling the world had to fit into what I did.

Unfortunately I had gone into “emotional survival mode” due to a variety of circumstances that surrounded my life at the time. When I was making this major life decision I was disconnected from my heart. I couldn’t clearly see/feel what I was called to. So I picked the most “logical” decision. The problem was that I made a logical decision out of a place of pain.

 


Pain will often sabotage our ability to connect with certain areas of our calling.


 

The beautiful thing is that God isn’t phased by our poor decisions. Remember, He’s the master of working all things together for your good (Romans 8:28). His unconditional love is willing to wait for us to choose to move toward His plans. 

I completed four years of active duty in the Marines. It’s something I am proud of and don’t regret at all. Looking back at my “logical” reasons for joining you can find some humor. Even though I was active duty from 2000 to 2004, I never once deployed. That’s right. I joined to travel but never actually did it! In hindsight I realized it was God’s protection and what I like to call His sense of humor.

It was only after I got out of the Marines and whole-heartedly gave my life to Christ that I ended up experiencing what I had longed for. Six months after my contract ended I found myself doing mission work in Mozambique with Iris Ministries.

Traveling is only one piece of my personal puzzle which is forming a beautiful picture as I find (and focus on) one piece at a time.

Going back to the Psalms 37:4…it starts with “Delight yourself in the Lord.” We can only adequately connect with our core desires once we have positioned our heart in affection towards God.

You may not be hard-hearted like I was, but pain can cause us to rationalize decisions that are counter to God’s plan. You will never be able to fully suppress your calling regardless of what your life may look like right now. God can and will work everything for good. It’s what He does. 

Finding the lost pieces: There is hope. You can pray and ask God to highlight areas of your life that may have fallen dormant. He’s excited to show you. Not to shame you, but rather to point you in the direction that will make you come alive.

You can (and should) be proactive when God begins to bring these areas to the surface.

1. Repent: The turning point for me was when I dropped to my knees and asked for forgiveness. It changed the direction I was headed and pointed me toward His calling.

2. Reflect: Take time to think about the subtle moments that you felt your heart leap or can’t get rid of a life-giving thought. Try to identify certain themes in your life where you feel God’s pleasure. Write them down and begin to pray for God to highlight areas that you can begin to re-engage with.

Move On: There comes a time where you have to close that chapter of your life. God values our history, but doesn’t want us to live in it. Once you have started consciously moving towards your calling, don’t look back!

 

 

JOSH CEARBAUGH IS A LIFE CONSULTANT WITH A UNIQUE ABILITY TO LEAD PEOPLE THROUGH TRANSFORMATION. THROUGH A COMBINATION OF CONSULTING TECHNIQUES, HE HELPS INDIVIDUALS TO IDENTIFY, AND THEN DISMANTLE, THE CRIPPLING CYCLES WHERE THE MAJORITY OF US FIND OURSELVES STUCK. HE HAS A PASSION FOR CONNECTING PEOPLE TO THEIR HEART AND HELPING THEM CREATE PRACTICAL STRATEGIES TO CHANGE THEIR LIVES. MOST RECENTLY, JOSH’S CONSULTING PRACTICE HAS BEEN LOCATED IN REDDING, CA
HE MET DANIELLE, HIS WIFE OF EIGHT YEARS, IN MOZAMBIQUE WHILE ATTENDING IRIS HARVEST SCHOOL. THEY CURRENTLY HAVE TWO BOYS AND ONE BEAUTIFUL BABY GIRL. 
WEBSITE: JOSHCEARBAUGH.COM 
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/JOSHCEARBAUGH

Top Healing & Restoration FAQ

Forgiveness is key

 

As an introduction to this FAQ, we need to discuss the importance of forgiveness in the healing and restoration process. The Bible shows us that repentance (a change of heart that leads to a change of action) and forgiveness result in restoration and healing of many kinds. If you are seeking a personal victory or freedom in any area of struggle, this is a great place to start.


 

1. WHAT IS FORGIVENESS?

 

Forgiveness is an act of mercy. It is the releasing of someone from the judgement you think they should receive because of an offense they committed (knowingly or unknowingly). When you’re forgiving an offender, you must remember this: A person doesn’t have to apologize, repent, or prove their trustworthiness to you in order for you to forgive them. It is not something they can earn from you. The gift of forgiveness is a selfless gift, and like any gift, it’s free.  For example, you did nothing to earn Jesus’ forgiveness. It was a free gift to you.

 

By no means are we saying that forgiveness won’t cost you something. In fact, it may be one of the most costly things the Lord ever asks you to do…much like the Father asking Jesus to give up His life for you.

 

Forgiveness wipes the slate clean. It says, “You are free to go. You owe me nothing. I release you.” That, in itself is incredible, but there’s more to it than just releasing your offender; forgiveness frees you as well.

 

2. WHY IS FORGIVENESS IMPORTANT?

 

No one deserves forgiveness, but it is essential we give it in order to live the life God has called us to live. There are consequences to not forgiving. When we refuse to forgive, we are standing in God’s place as judge over a situation, and we must remember, the measure that we use to judge others, God will use to judge us (Matthew 7:1-2). This is why Matthew 6:15 says that if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you. In other words, if you judge…you set yourself up to be judged. This is why it is so important that we forgive: Without the flow of forgiveness, from us to others, we cannot receive God’s forgiveness.

 

Judgement is not the only consequence of withholding forgiveness. Unforgiveness acts likes poison in our soul and causes bitterness, anxiety, fear, anger, pain, physical illness, and broken relationships, among other things. We also know that we reap what we sow; don’t be surprised if you find yourself repeating the same actions you didn’t forgive others for. You can’t push forgiveness off until your deathbed and expect to live in joy and freedom now.

 

Forgiveness will also increase your ability to love. If you want to grow in your love walk, learn to practice forgiveness (Luke 7:47). Be quick to forgive, and keep short accounts with people.

 

3. HOW DO I FORGIVE?
WHERE SHOULD I START?

 

Any person, or thing (circumstance, culture, motive, process, etc.) that caused you pain or disappointment can be a territory in your life that needs forgiveness. Remember, forgiveness isn’t just limited to people. And it’s not just about releasing them, but finding closure for yourself. One indicator that you are free is that you don’t have a strong reaction when the person/situation crosses your mind. For example, running into them at Target no longer spikes your anxiety and interrupts the rest of your day.

 

If you know you need to forgive, or if you feel like Holy Spirit is prompting you to, you can do so by saying something like this:

“I forgive __________ for _____________. I give him/her/them/the situation the gift of forgiveness. They owe me nothing. I let it go to the foot of the cross. I give them to you, Jesus.”

Example: “I forgive Joe for ditching me on Friday night. I felt disrespected, angry, and rejected. But, I choose to forgive, bless, and release Joe, to You, Jesus. He owes me nothing. I let him go, and I receive the truth that I am loved, seen, valued, and accepted by You. What Joe did, says everything about Joe, and nothing about me. So, I give him to You, Jesus, and I trust You to lead me as Your daughter.”

Example: “I forgive myself for going too far with my girlfriend tonight. I’m disappointed with myself, I didn’t do what was right, and I didn’t lead well in our relationship. I feel the temptation to partner with guilt and shame right now, but I will choose to lean into the conviction of the Holy Spirit and not let shame and guilt be my teacher. I thank you Lord, that I am convicted about what I did. It shows that I am a son of Yours. God, please forgive me for what I did, I repent. Help my to clean up my mess with my girlfriend, and to lead her well. I also forgive myself, and forgive your Grace and mercy. Thank you Lord that your Word says that you make all things new, and I lean into that truth and that grace tonight. Amen.”

 

4. I THOUGHT I HAD FORGIVEN, BUT I KEEP GETTING TRIGGERED EVERY TIME I THINK ABOUT OR SEE MY OFFENDER. WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST? 

 

All of us experience times when, though we have forgiven someone, our strong feelings resurface, and we find ourselves having to forgive the same offense over, and over, and over again. If you identify with this, we would suggest you explore the following ideas:

 

1. Ask God if there is any other offense you need to forgive. There are often layers to situations, and though you may think you have fully forgiven, you may not have gotten to the root yet. There may be more resolution to be had. Ask Holy Spirit to guide you as you explore this. Simply ask, “God, why am I still hurting? Why do I feel like this still has power over me?”

 

2. Consider if you are truly forgiving from the heart, or if you are simply going through the motions. Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” What we have found, is that those who still feel locked up due to unforgiveness, oftentimes have not acknowledged the pain/disappointment of what actually happened to them. In other words, they haven’t let themselves really feel what happened to them. In short, if you don’t process through your pain, and acknowledge what you feel, you can’t experience freedom. In addition to forgiving with your words, we invite you to forgive with all your heart. It might be the most painful thing you do, but the Word promises you will be comforted.

 

3. If you still feel a strong emotional connection with the individual or situation, you may need to break soul ties that may have been formed. “Soul ties” is a way of referring to the physical or emotional bonds we form with the people around us. They are not all bad. In fact, God created us with the ability to bond with one another so we would have tight-knit relationships and communities. You can read more about soul ties later in question 8.

 

4. Find compassion for your offender. Ask God how He sees them and/or the situation. For example, a young man had bitter unforgiveness toward his father. When he was a child, his dad would tie him and his brothers up and beat them. As an adult, he could not forgive his dad, who should have known better than to abuse his innocent, helpless children.

 

In a counselling session, he asked God to show him the truth about his dad, to show him how He saw him at that time. God showed him a picture of his father as a helpless baby. In that moment he understood that his dad, at that time, didn’t have the ability to parent him properly– that he himself, was still a child inside. With this understanding he was able to have compassion on his dad, in all of his mess, and truly forgive him for the first time.

 

Once you can connect with compassion, you’re more able to forgive and release your offender genuinely. How do you know you’ve truly released them? The fruit of forgiveness is peace. You are able to think about that person or situation with no ill will.

 

5. You still want justice.
The truth is, some of us are born with a bigger “justice button” than others. For some, the values of right and wrong weigh more heavily than heart and intuition. If you are one of these people, we invite you to ask God for His perspective on grace, mercy, and compassion. Ask Him to remind you of the person you were before you met Him. You need to connect in humility with your own humanity; you are just as in need of grace as your offender. We all need a Savior.

 

5. DO I HAVE TO STAY IN RELATIONSHIP WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS HURT OR OTHERWISE ABUSED ME?

 

No. Forgiving does not mean that a violator is welcome back into your life. You do not have to trust him/her. Trust and forgiveness are not the same thing. You can forgive someone and choose to no longer have relationship with him/her.

 

6. I FEEL LIKE I’M STUCK IN A CYCLE OF SHAME AND GUILT. HOW DID I GET HERE?

Guilt and shame are a part of our natural moral compass. These feelings let us know that we have done wrong, or have violated our standards. These feelings, in this context, can highlight when we’ve strayed off the moral path. (Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t murder, etc. These are things that would trigger any normal person’s moral compass.) They are the part of our conscience that says, “This is wrong!”

 

With that said, guilt and shame, can keep us out of danger when we are learning the difference between right and wrong. The danger in depending on guilt and shame to be our  teacher, is that a person adapts to being motivated from the outside-in, instead of the inside-out. In short, they are externally motivated.

 

For example, their internal dialogue might sound like, “I won’t eat that entire pizza tonight, because I know I will feel guilty and ashamed afterward.” A healthy dialogue would sound like, “I am a healthy person, and a healthy person does not eat an entire pizza in one sitting.” Did you catch the difference? One is rooted in the internal identity of being a healthy person, versus the external consequence of not wanting to experience guilt and shame.

 

When it comes to our guilt and shame relating to our sexuality, our internal dialogue might sound something like: “I hate masturbating. As long as I feel guilty about it, I won’t do it again! As long as I feel ashamed of myself, I won’t feel tempted.” Or, “If I feel guilty, at least I know I still feel conviction. If I’m a child of God, I’ll feel guilty, and that’s a good thing.” In both of these cases, we embrace shame and guilt and use them as tools to tell us who we are and how to behave.

 

So, in short, you may have thought that guilt and shame were great teachers in the past, because they kept you safe. But now, you have the gift of the Holy Spirit to teach and lead you. You can now be led by love, instead of fear.

 

In a different vein, it is also worth mentioning that it is not uncommon for victims of sexual abuse to live with massive guilt and shame issues. Though they were victims, a part of them may have enjoyed a small part of their experience — the attention, the sexual experience, the secrecy — even though they hated what happened to them. These individuals live feeling greatly conflicted and/or overly responsible for what happened to them.

 

7. HOW CAN I GET FREE FROM GUILT AND SHAME?

Firstly, acknowledge that guilt and shame have been a friend and a teacher to you. Secondly, ask for God’s forgiveness, and don’t forget to forgive yourself. This simply could look like, “Lord, I acknowledge that I have let guilt and shame be a leader in my life and I repent. I ask for your forgiveness. I forgive myself. Today marks a brand new beginning. I will no longer partner with shame and guilt in my life.”

 

Remember, when you wake up tomorrow morning, you are starting anew. Don’t fall prey to the enemy’s lie that you are your old man. Forgiveness restores the standard. Jesus has forgiven you. You are moving on and God only holds you responsible for your actions today. Everything in your past is under the blood of Jesus. When you asked Him to forgive you, He took you seriously. It is finished. The enemy doesn’t get to bring it up anymore, and neither do you.

 

Thirdly, ask for a new teacher.
As we said, the Holy Spirit is with you to teach and lead you. You can now be led by love, instead of fear. So ask Him daily for help, guidance, and submit to His leadership.

 

Replace whatever lies you’re believing about your identity with the truth of who Jesus Christ is in you, and who He knows you to be. What you have done does not get to tell you who you are. Jesus does. If you believe you are bad, worthless, hopeless, or a failure, you need to begin renewing your mind to truth.

 

Let it out. There is power in getting it all out into the light. If you have gone through the above process, or are still working through your process, we encourage you to let others in. Whatever is in darkness, must come into the light if you want to be seen, known, and fully loved. Part of your healing process may be talking to a trusted friend, leader, parent or mentor about whatever it is you felt shameful or guilty about (James 5:16). There is power in confession.

 

And lastly, if your behavior is bringing on your guilt and shame, stop doing it! If you are doing something wrong, you can’t expect to get away with it without your spirit (your conscience) and God’s spirit in you reacting to it! In short, guilt and shame are a consequence of a behavior that violates who you are. If you’re tired of feeling guilty and ashamed, change your behavior!

 

8. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONDEMNATION (GUILT AND SHAME) AND CONVICTION?

 

Condemnation and conviction are not the same things. We want conviction in our lives– it is the plumb line that shows us that we are in line with what is lovely, true, and faith-filled. It shows us the way to freedom. Condemnation, on the other hand, leads us into bondage and makes us feel like we deserve punishment. It is the cousin of guilt/shame, and keeps us stuck in the cycle of always trying to earn forgiveness or give recompense to God for our sin.

 

9. I WAS IN A RELATIONSHIP THAT I THOUGHT WAS LOVE AND LEADING TO MARRIAGE. I WENT TOO FAR WITH THAT PERSON, AND WE ARE NO LONGER TOGETHER. I REGRET MY CHOICE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

 

First of all it’s important to know that your past decisions don’t have the power to tell you who you are today, or what your future relationships will look like. You made some poor choices and it hurts, but there is hope for you. You have an opportunity to choose a different path and start again… so let’s get started!

 

First and foremost, recognize that this is going to be a healing process, and probably not a healing moment. Second, be wise; know that the enemy is going to try to give you an identity based on your past mistakes…but you are not your past mistakes! This is why knowing the Word is so important (who God says you are, what God thinks about you, the reality of your forgiveness and redemption at the cross, the fullness of Christ’s power working within you, etc.).

With that said, here are a few simple things we’d recommend:

– You need to forgive yourself.

– You need to forgive, bless, and release (cut soul ties) your ex.

– You need to grieve the loss of the “dreams” you had of spending the rest of your life with your ex-boyfriend and let go of any fantasy that he’s going to come back. You need to cry it out, process through your pain, and then (bravely) get rid of everything that you’re hanging onto (letters, movie ticket stubs, pictures, memorabilia, etc) that ties you to him.

– You need to surround yourself with healthy friends to do life with – laugh, cry, make memories, go on adventures. You get the idea. Isolation will not be your friend in this season.

– You need to get spiritual mothers and fathers in your life (ie, older/wiser/loving people – doesn’t have to be your pastor).

– You need to begin renewing your mind (listen, read, watch) and feeding your spirit with life giving things. Not magazines, romance novels, movies, or music, etc.

– Figure out who you are, what you want, where you are going in life, and how you are going to make those dreams come true.

– Begin to dream about your future husband. Eventually (maybe not now) you will be able to do this and you’ll be able to do this with joy, hope, and expectation.

– Know that it’s okay to have a bad day. Give yourself grace. You are healing and being restored and that probably won’t happen in a week.

– Give yourself time to mend. You let your heart and body go places it’s never been before and so it’s going to take time for them to come back into alignment with your spirit … so be gentle on yourself.

– Ask for help and be okay with taking things one day at a time.

 

Finally, you’re going to need to figure out your WHY:

– Why did I cross those lines in the first place?

– Why did the value of my virginity become something that was up for negotiation?

– Why did I decide to let someone else violate the boundaries and standards I set for myself?

– Why did I let myself be violated?

– Why did my value decrease in my own eyes?

– Why do I think the words boyfriend and husband or girlfriend and wife mean the same thing? (They don’t, by the way.)

 

Take your time to work through the above questions. Healing is a process. Allow God to continually remind you who you are and what you are called to; He has an incredible future for you. Know that no matter what brought you to this place, you can decide how you want to live from now on.

 

10. I’VE STARTED SLEEPING WITH MY BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND, BUT INSIDE, I KNOW IT’S NOT RIGHT. HOW CAN WE STOP? HOW CAN WE RESTORE OUR RELATIONSHIP?

 

Bring it into the light. Start telling people. Schedule a meeting with your pastor. Confess your sins, one to another, so that you may be healed (James 5:19).

 


“Light is silent, brings warmth, and is a necessity for life. But darkness is cold and drives us to hide behind walls of self-protection, where we are unreal, or to pretend to be more spiritually mature than we really are. One general proof of heartfelt sincerity before God and man is our openness and transparency.” – Jack Frost


 

When Adam and Eve sinned, their first response was to hide their sin from God. They were afraid. If you feel like Adam or Eve, know this: God isn’t mad at you. He’s actually longing to help you put things back together again. And it’s going to start when you bring it out into the light. You (probably) started this relationship trusting God, so you need to trust Him with this confession. We would implore you, as leaders, to be courageous, and will gently remind you that it’s going to come into the light eventually.

 

Understand this: once you bond with someone in this manner, the pull to continue is very strong. This is absolutely natural, a part of how God made you! Some couples have found that the healthiest way to go about restoring their relationship is to break up and take some time apart; in doing so they are able to work through their individual processes. Breaking up now doesn’t mean that you’re breaking up forever; you’re making a short term investment into a long-term payback.

11. MY EX AND I ARE NO LONGER TOGETHER, BUT I THINK ABOUT HIM/HER ALL THE TIME. HOW CAN I GET MY EX OUT OF MY HEAD?

 

Let’s start here: you may need to take a good, long reality check. If your relationship has been over for a while, and your ex is still a constant center of your thoughts, ask yourself, “Am I doing anything to feed this attachment?” Do you ask mutual friends how he/she is doing? Do you check in on them on Facebook or Instagram? Do you secretly hope to run into him/her at social gatherings? Do you soothe yourself with thoughts that he or she is going to come back? All of these are red flags of a soul tie, and good indicators that you are not connected with reality that it is over.

After asking yourself these questions, we’d encourage you to work through forgiveness and break soul ties, as necessary.

FORGIVE
If you feel waves of anger, bitterness, resentment, or other negative feelings toward this person, we would encourage you to work through forgiveness. This is essential to you moving forward.

The first step is to forgive the ex that hurt you and release him/her from the offenses that he/she inflicted on you. Get quiet before the Lord and ask Him to reveal any damaged area of your life that resulted from this relationship. Write a list of any incidences that come to mind. This could start like, “Lord, I release ________ from taking advantage of me. I forgive the ways she used me, dishonored me, put me in situations that devalued me. I release her from every offensive action that she has had in my life.”

 

The next thing to do is to ask the Lord for His forgiveness for your reactions to him/her. An example might be, “Jesus, please forgive me for my participation in anger, hatred, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness in my heart. I ask you to release me for speaking and thinking malicious thoughts about her when she made me feel powerless and worthless.” Again, write down any feelings that you experienced while you were dating.

In addition, you may need to forgive yourself. Again, your conversation may sound like, “Lord, I forgive myself for getting involved with someone whom I had reservations about, but continued to pursue. I forgive myself for not having clear boundaries in place and responding with my emotions instead of my core values.”
BLESS AND RELEASE
Finally, verbally bless and release your ex. This shows that you have a repentant heart and a desire for his/her well being. “Lord I bless ______ with healthy, fulfilling relationships in the future.”

 

BREAK (UNHEALTHY) SOUL TIES
This next step may be the place to start if you have constant thoughts about or a strong emotional attachment to your ex. You can say something like this: “God, forgive me for connecting with someone who wasn’t my spouse. Forgive me for making a connection I wasn’t supposed to make. I want to be free from these soul ties, so I’m giving them to you.”

Next, you may want to address that person in your imagination (in spirit). Apologize to them and ask them for forgiveness. If necessary, specifically forgive them for anything they’ve done to hurt you. You’ll want to release anything you’ve taken from them or anything you’ve been given. Be sure that in your heart you’re ready to let go of them. At this time, you’ll say something like this:

“I break any ungodly, unhealthy soul ties between myself and __________ in Jesus’ name. I send back everything that was given to me and any piece of him/her that remains with me. I release you from any bond or connection that was made. I release you from all promises, obligations, expectations, and desires.”

If you feel prompted to be specific about anything, feel free to speak that as well. Whatever helps you to find resolve is good. Explore that with Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Finally, call back the pieces of you that were given or taken by that person. Follow the same pattern as before:

“I call back every part of me from ____________, every part of my heart, my soul, my mind, washed in the blood of Jesus. I thank you, God, for returning all aspects that were lost. I thank you for making me whole again.”

After you’ve broken each soul tie, thank God for making your soul whole again. Invite His Spirit to fill you in all areas. You may feel lighter, and some even experience a physical sensation. Be sure to take time with God so that His presence can heal you. You should feel freer than you did when you started.

DO YOU HAVE ANY UNREALIZED FEAR?
Oftentimes people fall prey to the lie that their future relationship will never measure up to their past relationship. They idealize their ex, remembering every good memory, and forgetting every bad memory; they romanticize their ex and forget why the relationship ended in the first place.

If you think this might be you, simply ask yourself, “What am I afraid of? What do I have to lose by letting go of my ex? Am I afraid to let go? Am I ready to let go?” If you’ve never thought about these questions, and you find yourself being triggered, we invite you to courageously answer them. You owe it to yourself and your future spouse to be honest. It’s time to start living.

 

12. HOW CAN I PROCESS REJECTION IN A HEALTHY WAY?

Facing fear and risking rejection is something everyone experiences in their life. Well, let us clarify: If you want to live a life of exciting adventures and exploits then you are going to have to take some risks and cross some chicken lines — probably more than once. We also understand the outcome isn’t always what we hope for!

If your latest risk ended in the sting of rejection this time around, we are sorry. Getting a no-thank you from a person of the opposite sex is never any fun. Here a few things we can suggest as you work the sting out and move on.

Forgive. Forgive whoever you need to. Forgive her/him. Forgive yourself, and don’t beat yourself up or go into introspection mode. Just because this didn’t work out the way you thought, it doesn’t mean anything about you– your value, your intelligence, your beauty. That is why you have healthy friends and family around you. Pull on their strength and encouragement right now.

Forgive God, if you need to. Sometimes we find ourselves in places of pain because we were just trying to be obedient and follow His leading. Remember, He has your best interest at heart and He wouldn’t have led you to take the risk if there wasn’t gold in there for you somewhere. Don’t blame God. You may never know until you get to heaven why He wanted you to take that risk. The bottom line is He spoke, you obeyed, and you will reap a great reward for your obedience. Period. Obedience is always rewarded with a great blessing, so don’t let the enemy lie to you and try to get you to believe otherwise.

Process through your pain. One of the worst things we see people do when they’re hurting is stuff down their pain and never address it because they are told, “time heals all wounds.” Wrong. Time doesn’t. Time makes you forget why you were hurting in the first place, but time doesn’t heal, and you want to be a healed and whole person. Do whatever you need to do to get to a place of victory.

Don’t stop risking. That’s it. Plain and simple. Don’t stop taking risks. Determine in your heart that you will be a man or woman who continues to take risks and heads the voice of the Lord, no matter what.

 

13. HOW CAN A RELATIONSHIP BE RESTORED AFTER TRUST HAS BEEN BROKEN?

There are many things that can cause trust to be broken in a relationship — disappointments (unmet expectations), misunderstandings (miscommunication), abuse (emotional, verbal, physical, sexual), unfaithfulness (flirting, porn), adultery (emotional, sexual) — just to name a few.

Very basically, trust has been broken when you feel unprotected, unsafe, or hurt and connection has been lost. In some instances, trust can be restored by a simple apology, or the clearing up of a miscommunication. In other instances, trust has been so severely broken that both parties must go through a healing process in order to restore trust and connection in their relationship.

Here are a few general guidelines to get your relationship started if you feel stuck:

If you were the one who broke trust:

Own it. Repent before the Lord. Ask for forgiveness. Begin moving forward to start rebuilding what was broken. Recognize that this season may take time and remember that your feelings are your feelings, and their feelings are their feelings. One party might be experiencing grief, loss, and deep sadness one day, and the other party might be experiencing anger and frustration. It is very important for each party not to take responsibility for how the other person feels, not to try to rush the rebuilding process, and not bring up past offenses. If both parties have truly forgiven one another and have agreed to move forward, then the offense needs to be left in the past. By this we mean, don’t keep re-opening the wound in order to punish or otherwise manipulate the other in the heat of the moment. As you do this, consistency will be built, and trust will be re-established.

If you were the one whose trust was broken:
Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel (anger, pain, sadness, disappointment, shock, embarrassment, etc.). Secondly, forgive (whether the other party apologizes or not). Third, seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, godly counsel within your community, and your own heart as to how to move forwardor if you even should move forward in the relationship. Be courageous; don’t let the voice of pain speak louder than love. Remember, love is patient, kind, and willing to go the extra mile.

Clearly, there are some types of offenses (abuse) that are illegal. There are other types of offenses (adultery) that carry lifelong consequences (pregnancy, STDs, job loss, etc.). Both of these should be handled Biblically, legally, wisely, and within a safe, godly community.

 

14. WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN RAPED OR EXPERIENCED OTHER ABUSE (PHYSICAL, SEXUAL, OR EMOTIONAL) AND NEEDS TO BEGIN THE HEALING PROCESS? 

Our team would highly recommend that any victim of abuse seek an educated, licensed, Christian counselor. In some cases, a sex therapist may be able to help as well.


Trust Is Key

A while back I dated a girl who was extremely insecure and for some reason I took on the responsibility of “fixing” her. I made it my goal to make sure she knew how incredibly beautiful and lovely she was. The problem was, I was very insecure myself and we had both put each other in a place that only God should have had in our lives.

 

No matter how much I tried to love her, she struggled to receive it because she didn’t think she was worth it. And to add to that, I had some trust issues that weren’t helping matters. I recognized that there were various things damaging our connection, but I never addressed them because I was afraid of hurting her feelings. I also realized I had gotten into the relationship for the completely wrong reasons. It was unhealthy, co-dependent, and smothered by insecurities. I began to build a case and get frustrated, and she didn’t seem be getting any less insecure. With insecurity comes a lack of trust. There was such a low level of trust that we didn’t feel safe, which makes sense, because when you don’t know who you are, it is impossible for someone else get to know the real you.

 

Trust takes time to build and should increase as the relationship progresses, but there was very little in this relationship. Not only were we individually not whole; we didn’t trust one another enough to protect the other’s heart. The relationship became stagnant and did not develop. For a relationship to work, you need to fully trust that you are seeing the real person and that you like the real them. I learned this the hard way by entering a relationship with little trust already built. Since learning my identity, not taking on other people’s responsibilities, and choosing to trust, my life looks, and is, so much healthier!

 

Ashley-James, 24, California, US


11 Questions to Ask Before You Start Dating

AM I READY TO DATE?


“What are the things I can go after now as a single to prepare me for marriage? What do I need to be looking for in a future spouse?”


 We sat down as a team for 3 hours and came up with 11 questions we think would be great for you to consider before you jump into dating.

 1. Do I know who I am?

This question is one ALL of us are discovering and rediscovering on a daily basis, but as a general overview, here are things you might want to know about yourself:

I know who (whose) I am in Christ. We are sons/daughters of God through Christ. We are 100% fully loved, accepted, chosen, restored, redeemed and saved. We have everything we need and will never lack anything because we have a loving Father who gives freely to His children.

I know how to give love to others and how I need to receive love from others.
I know what I love and what makes me come alive.
I know what my core values are and practice living by them.
I know my needs and my wants.
I know my strengths and weaknesses.
I know how to dream for my future.
I am in touch with my heart (aka feelings, emotions, what my heart, mind or body needs).

2. Do I know how to communicate?

Learning and knowing how to communicate what you think, feel, and need will be one of the greatest relational skills you acquire. Since we communicate with our words, facial expressions, tone of voice, and even our body language, we must learn to become people who communicate well. When you are hurt, rejected, or disappointed you will know how to get out what you are feeling so that manipulation, guilt trips, self-pity, and sarcasm (passive-aggressiveness) will not be weapons you reach for when in conflict.

3. Do I know what my boundaries are and how to keep them?

Do you have emotional boundaries? Do you have physical boundaries? Do you have a plan to keep those boundaries in place? Are you willing to respect the boundaries of others? Knowing your limitations (and those of who you’re dating) is an avenue to “protect and preserve” an individual and/or relationship. Figure out what your boundaries are now and own them. Don’t wait to hear what your girlfriend/boyfriend’s boundaries are and then decide what yours will be.

4. Do I have a vision for my life and a plan to get there?

This question is referring to personal character and growth, dreams, and your life calling. Do you know the person you want to be? Do you know the life you want to have? What dreams do you want to live out? Do you know how to accomplish these things or where to find an answer? If there are certain things that are important to you (where you want to live, the job you want to have, how many children you want, etc) then it will make dating easier because you know the kind of life partner you need to partner with. For example, if you are a very driven person and the person you are dating is not then that could be an area of conflict down the road. We’re not saying it never works, we’re just giving you a heads up so you’re not blindsided once the honeymoon is over.

5. Do I have community in my life?

Community is a necessity in our lives. We need people to “do life with.” It’s through relationships that we are held accountable, challenged, experience love, and subsequently grow. We need most (if not all) of the relational roles filled in our lives. Here are some things to ask yourself about your community:

Do I have people in my life that know me and I know them? (moms/dads/mentors, brothers/sisters/peers, church fellowship, small groups, home church family, etc)
Am I intentional about who I am doing life with? (Are there people in my life who love me and challenge me?)
Am I believed in, encouraged and guided to answers? Do I ask for feedback and correction?
Do I know how to ask for help?
Do we know how to have fun with each other? Do we laugh and have adventures together?

6. What does my relationship with Jesus look like?

Do I know Him intimately?  Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? If you haven’t, would you like to? If you have, how are you growing in that relationship? Do you spend time with Jesus? Do you believe He speaks to you? Do you listen for what He has to say? Are you in dialogue with Him and doing life with Him on a daily basis? How does He speak to you?

7. Do I have a teachable spirit and can I humbly receive feedback (even when it hurts)?

This question might be easy to answer now, but think back to times people have confronted you about how you affect them, a room, or a group of people. How did you respond? Even though it’s difficult, being a “teachable” person can cause your personal character to grow and your relationships to grow immensely. Humility is a necessity for growth.

8. Am I responsible and do I know how to take care of things?

Responsibility: the state or fact of being responsible, answerable, or accountable for something within one’s power, control, or management.  This one is sort of a no-brainer. Is your life in order? By life I mean, is your thought life, finances, laundry, house, schedule, etc. in order or are you a hot mess that jumps from one thing to another? Can people depend on you to do what you say you are going to do?  Do you show up on time?  Can people trust you? This is what we mean by, are you responsible?

9. Do I know how to serve? Do I practice putting other’s needs above my own?

Do you walk into a relationship and look for ways to give or do you expect everyone to serve you? Within a healthy context, serving another person is one of the highest forms of love. It can sometimes look like compromising to come to an agreement or doing something you wouldn’t normally do because it brings life/joy to another person. Many days serving looks like sacrifice. Note: Please understand that compromising your core values is not serving. Giving and serving one another within relationship is a give and take. One person should not be the only one practicing this concept.

10. Do I honor and respect people?

Honor: high respect, as for worth, merit, or rank; to show a courteous regard for. Do you know how to value other people, even when they are different from you? Showing other people kindness, value, and love is the mark of a person who looks outside of themselves, or their status, to see other people’s hearts. If someone doesn’t treat others with honor and respect, they most likely will not treat you with honor and respect. Here’s a tip: watch how they treat their waiter/waitress. Watch how they treat their parents. These things reveal a lot about a person.

11. Do I know how to forgive people and ask forgiveness? Or do I keep “short accounts?”

No one likes to be hurt, and it can be even harder to ask for forgiveness when you’re the one who did the hurting. However, forgiveness left unattended is a wide open door for bitterness to take root, causing people to disconnect spiritually/relationally from one another. Forgiveness means restoring the standard to what the relationship was meant to be before the “mistake” was made. It means letting go and not holding the “mistake” over someone’s head. Do you know how to forgive, bless, and release people when they have hurt or wronged you? Do you know how to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong, will you forgive me?” even if you believe you’ve done nothing wrong? This is part of walking in humility, as well as seeking connection and love over being right.

These are just the tip of the iceberg when considering how to be a healthy individual/dater. We are all on a journey and none of us have life figured out but the two most important questions you will every answer in your life are:

Will I believe in Jesus and commit my life to Him?
Who will I marry and commit my life to?

Becoming a healthy individual and not settling for an unhealthy spouse will create healthy marriages that restore the standard of what family life looks like in the world today.  Let’s get to it people!

– Amanda Zentz (Intern)


The T-Rex In The Room

Getting Our Needs Met In A Healthy Way


Here at Moral Revolution, we spend a great deal of time discussing our human needs. The body, soul, and spirit all have legitimate needs, too. Our bodies need air, food, water, shelter and human contact. Our souls: intimacy, connection, and comfort. Lastly, our spirits need connection with God and the identity and purpose He supplies us.

This may surprise you, but SEX IS NOT A NEED.

(For the sake of this conversation, understand that I’m talking mainly to singles here, not to married couples…we’ll get to that later! But the principles still stand for them too.)

Sex may feel like a need. It can feel like a raging giant demanding to be fed. (You’ve heard of the ‘elephant in the room’? Well, I’d like to call our “sexual needs” the T-Rex in the room.) Our sexual desires can be very powerful indeed; we can feel chased down and intimidated by them…feel like we are under their control, completely at their mercy. We call them our sexual needs, but they cannot be classified as needs in the truest sense. A need is something necessary; it is something that you will die without. Let’s be real…no one ever died from not having sex!

Once we can understand (and accept) that sex is not a true need, it is much easier to figure out how to meet our needs in a healthy way! And the first step is to know this:


When we meet our soul and spirit needs first, our physical needs (sexual desires) quiet down.


If you’re like me, you want this whole idea summed up in a nice, neat 3-Step program for sexual freedom. Unfortunately, there isn’t one, but this is kind of what the process looks like:

1. “Let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” Galatians 5:16 (NLT).

Get connected to God so He can meet your need for identity, purpose and intimacy with Him!

2. Make sure your soul is really healthy.

A healthy soul looks like a renewed mind, emotional wholeness and a will yielded to the will of Christ. (This looks like self control.) This will bubble over into your physical body too (3 John 1:2 ISV)! Often, sexual problems are rooted in a soul problem- in needs of intimacy, connection and comfort. We act out, looking to sex for something that has nothing to do with sex! Learn yourself. Get what you need! Ask for help.

3. By this point the T-Rex will be more like a lamb than a lion!

(Please excuse the mixed-metaphors!) With your spirit and soul in order, you’ll find that your sexual urges will already be quieter, easier to control. You’ll be able to choose your behavior rather than acting impulsively, or feeling completely out-of-control.

So, are you still wondering how to get your needs met in a healthy way?
Check out Part 2 here.


Giving God Control

TRADING SHAME FOR JOY


From an early age, sex became an interesting and a secret desire. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that it became a daily struggle in my life. I began masturbating every night and it always led to shameful feelings. It led me to feel like I wasn’t worth very much and I couldn’t ever be anyone special. I was so shy that I could never raise my hand in class. I didn’t have very many friends. And I wouldn’t desire an intimate relationship with God because I felt so dirty. I grew up in church and I felt like such a liar when I sat on the pew every morning.

Sexual desires completely controlled my mind and how I expressed myself. It got so bad that I couldn’t even sit in class without thinking sexual thoughts. It wasn’t just a thought that popped into my head, I would intentionally do it. I would go to church camp and awesome things would happen, but I wouldn’t fully commit to God. I played tug-o-war with the Man who intentionally died on the cross for me. I thought that I was the only one who masturbated. In fact, I didn’t even know there was even a word for what I was doing. Nobody ever told me and I was hurting myself and the people around me every day! I was depressed, I was hurting, I was shameful, I was fake, and I had no idea of what God’s love was and how He could completely transform me beyond my belief.


“I would go to church camp and awesome things would happen, but I wouldn’t fully commit with God. I played tug-o-war with the Man who died on the cross for me.”


It was right before spring break in my 8th grade year that I decided to give up the life I was living. I was going on a missions trip with my church and I had recently been digging into the Bible more. I felt like it was time to start living a different life. Little did I know what was in store for me. God knew and now that I look back, He was helping me through it all. After the missions trip, our whole youth group began reading a book about sex, dating, and relationships. The book, thank God, approached the topic of masturbation. It was then that I realized I wasn’t the only one, and now I knew there was actually a word for it! I was and am so thankful that somebody was brave enough to write about such a touchy issue.

Since then I am a completely different person, not just because I gave up masturbating, but because I gave God complete control of my life. I am a new person in Christ. God has helped me so much. He has taken away my shame and hurt and I am responding to the calling He has on my life. I am so grateful that I can wake up each day with the joy He has put in my heart, rather than the shame of what I did when no one was looking last night. I am now a Junior in high school I can gladly and thankfully say I have been free since the 8th grade! Thank you Jesus for lifting me up out of the place of darkness that I was in. Thank you for healing my heart and enabling me to find identity in You and not finding identity in my past. Thank you Jesus!

Stephen, 16, Colorado


Rebuilding a Relationship

PUTTING THINGS INTO REVERSE


About three and a half years ago, a sequence of events began that would ultimately change my life forever. About that time, I was living with my girlfriend who, in all honesty, I hooked up with in a one night stand. We both grew up in church and knew that how we were living was wrong, but we wanted it to work so we made up every excuse we could to make it seem okay.

Fast-forward to today. We are still together, we are madly in love with each other, and even greater, we are insanely in love with God. We have huge hearts to help others transform their relationships to allow God to be at the center. How did all of this happen? God. Only God could pour out enough grace in our relationship to completely transform it to one of purity, honor, and covenant.


“Only God could pour out enough grace in our relationship to transform it into one of purity, honor and covenant.”


We allowed God to basically put our relationship in reverse and then slowly rebuild it, all the while changing our beliefs and mindsets. This isn’t an easy process, especially when couples stay together like Libby and I did. We moved out and became physically pure with each other, which meant no sex, no foreplay, and during certain time periods, no kissing and no hand-holding. During this time God taught me that I needed to know myself before I could attempt to understand someone else. I had Libby in my “God spot.” I looked to her for everything— joy, happiness, value, confirmation, and even guidance. I had to come to the understanding that only God can be in the God spot. I had to learn what it meant to have an identity as a son to God.

— John, 23, Florida