(This is a guest post by Dan Gay, our Hamilton campus pastor at 217church) Maybe you can identify with this…When I was just a teen I created a mental checklist of what I wanted out of my life and then I went about working to achieve it. Wife, check. Family, check. Job growth, check. House, check. Church, check. I filled my life with what I thought I needed and didn’t let anyone get in the way. It was all done MY way for the benefit and exultation of ME, in MY time. I had built my life, my way and so I should be happy right? But then I was faced with the ugliness of my dissatisfaction and disappointments with my own pursuits so I wanted more. What was the result?
“The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because he loves us.” C.S. Lewis
Addiction to pornography…My addiction gave me an outlet for any pent up emotions. I only knew two ways to process disappointment or anger or hurt or frustration. Either control the situation or medicate it away. As a result I became numb. Numb to my wife, numb to my children, numb to any emotions that I couldn’t control, and numb to God’s spirit within me. I thought a good Christian man shouldn’t feel or act this way, so I spent my energy building and living a double life. I lived one way in public another one in private. I started to believe the lies I told, and I was losing who I was. The double life led me to the bottom. Fueled by guilt I created a prison, locked my self in and locked God’s joy, grace, and mercy all outside. I was convinced after all I had done, God couldn’t still be there for me, so I stopped trying to pursue Him. I – was – finished.
Then the roof caved in. My children, my ministry, my job and especially my marriage, it all was crumbling. God was showing me how much he loved me and wanted a relationship with me by removing everything in the way. I was broken, feeling like I was in the bottom of a pit as God brought the hammer down on me. I had wiggled out of many predicaments but this was different, I felt distant from God with no hope. So I cried out to him, I didn’t ask to be rescued, just to be heard and to feel I was His once again.
“In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.” – Psalm 18:6
It was then I felt the love God had for me in a different way. It was then I realized He wanted me more than anything I could give Him. It was there I began to understand GRACE and it changed my life! Not only does he forgives us but he declares us clean! It started to sink in. God’s grace is not dependent on what I do, but rather what he DID for me. I had believed Jesus was my savior but had not allowed him to be my Lord. He wanted to know me and to do that he had to break me of ME, so I could be rebuilt through HIM.
God then began to show me that just wanting Him as my friend wasn’t enough, I had to NEED GOD, to be desperate for Him. My faith took on a whole different perspective and priority. I had to push reset and start my life all over. My new priorities were that I wanted to know Him, I wanted to be known by Him, and I wanted to understand what He wanted for my life – could God still use me, even after all I had done to run from Him? Is it possible that He has a plan for my life? He answered a simple, “Yes.”
“Blessed be the LORD!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
The LORD is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.” – Psalm 28:6-8
What is your addiction? Before you answer too quickly, let me explain my definition of addiction. Addiction is anything that you go to and find comfort in that hinders or replaces your dependence on Jesus. The question isn’t what you are running to, what your addiction is, but rather what are you running from? There are addicts that run to alcohol, drugs, cigarettes or sex. There are addicts that run to food, work, relationships, exercise, ministry, serving just to name a few. It’s all the same. If we are running to anything other than Jesus for our comfort, our peace, our joy, then we need to press reset on our relationship with Jesus.
The Triumph – Accepting Grace
- Remember God’s Promises and Covenants – We are at war with the great deceiver, he takes things that are black and white to God and makes them all look grey. When approached with lies you have to do as Jesus did and confront it with the truth, God’s word. It is through Gods word we can find the promises that God gives us and cling to them even in the dark times.
“12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” – Jeremiah 29:12-13
- Repent of ALL Past Behaviors to Someone – You have to share it with someone. Repent means to confess and turn away from the sin. The things you have done you are carrying with you and it’s weighing you down from following the path God has for you. If it is not confessed, then you are still carrying it and if you are still carrying it, then you are vulnerable to attack. You have to let it go to accept forgiveness.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 1 Chronicles 7:14
- Restore Your Relationship with Jesus – With confession and repentance comes an ability to hear the Spirit, God’s voice clearer. This will bring a fresh and newness and will rejuvenate your relationship with Jesus in personal way.
Questions to Consider
- Does the enemy have you in bondage from guilt and are you tired of carrying around your past like a heavy backpack that weighs you down? Find someone and confess.
- Are you running from instead of to Jesus? What is your idol that competes with Jesus in your life?
From Trials to Triumph (Chapter 4)
“Turning Deep Wounds Into Great Impact”
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Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ. 217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 10:15. Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday. If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information.