07 Jan 2021
The following is meant to help those who are weary in their battle to overcome sin and need help knowing how to pray and cry out to God for a fresh start.
Two thousand twenty one. 2021. Lord, I’m not sure what to think or how to feel as this year begins. There has been so much upheaval, loss, and pain around me. The turmoil of 2020 stirs fear in my heart and anxiety for what may be in front of me this upcoming year, but here I am, coming to you for help, for hope, for comfort.
Lord, I say with David that I do love you, that you are my strength. You say that you will be my rock and my fortress, my Savior, my God, in whom I take refuge. So I call to you now, Lord Jesus, and ask for you to give me a fresh start this year with my battle.
My longtime struggle with sexual sin. I have done this before so many times, God—making a resolution every January: This year, I’m going to beat this thing. This year, I’ll get help. This year, I will have the courage to actually tell _______ about this. O God, help me! I’m scared, weary, and so tired of the shame and sinking down into despair. Can this year be different? I need a fresh start; I need you! My prayers echo Psalm 18:1–3 and 40:1.
You are my only hope, Lord Jesus. As Peter says to Jesus in John 6:68, where else can I really go anyway?! You alone have the words of life, truth, and rescue that I need so desperately. Help me to hear you, to believe you. Help me to obey you with a fresh start for this longtime sin. I name it again before you now: ______________. Thank you, Lord, that there is no shame for those who look to you and honestly tell you their real, raw thoughts in anguish and suffering (Psalm 34:4–5).
I bring my heart to you, Lord, because I know that I’m proud and stubborn. And as much as I hate the consequences of this sin, I don’t want to give it up. So, there…I said it. I hate it, and I love it. I hate feeling guilty, like a bad Christian. The mental assault of all that I’ve stockpiled in my mind from having this sin control me for so long is torment. However, I love escaping the stress of my life for a few minutes or hours; I like the intoxicating pleasure I get. I know it’s wrong, but it feels good. Why does it have to be that way, Lord? That sin feels good and life-giving, while obedience can feel boring, painful, and deathly? Why?! (Psalm 51:1–2)
God, your Word says that my heart is the source for all of this, the choices I’ve made, what I’ve pursued and run away from. So, I’m asking you today for fresh faith to believe that you can change my heart, including my desires, to long for what you long for and to will what you will. Will you change the appetites of my heart, calm my cravings, and bring peace into the turmoil of my thoughts, please?! It all seems like an uncontrollable monster inside of me—can it be different? Change my heart, O God…change my life! (Luke 6:43–45, Psalm 34:8, Philippians 2:13, Psalm 51:10)
Father, I need your comfort for all of the mess and pain that this sin has brought into my life and others’ lives. Even if _________ doesn’t know about it specifically, I know they have felt my detachment, disinterest, and distraction. I haven’t been involved in relationships with honesty, engagement, or love. I know I’ve hurt so many people, and, honestly, Lord, I know I should care more about their pain than mine, but I’m hurting, too. Please, Father, will you let me feel and believe in your mercy again? (Psalm 139:23–24 and 2 Corinthians 1:3–4)
And I do ask you to comfort _________ and __________. Wow, Lord, I guess you are at work already! I’ve not prayed for them for so long, so thank you, Father. As you help me to bring my feelings to you now, I can sense that you are softening my heart—a heart that has felt so hard, so cold towards these same people. Yes, God, cause your work in me to go deep, cut through my self-deception and self-preoccupation, and break my heart over this sin! You’re kind, not mean-hearted, and I need you to lead me into repentance one step at a time. (2 Corinthians 1:3–4 and 7:10, as well as Romans 2:4)
Lord, I’m not sure what steps I need to take first. Do I read that book? Call that friend? Should I try to find a counselor? You call yourself the good Shepherd, so if you’re willing to guide a weak sheep like me, please lead me; show me who to reach out to for help. Who do I need to confess this to first? Give me courage, Lord. Even as I pray about this, I’m so scared of what ______ will think about me. Help me believe what you say about me more than anything else, that I am holy, loved, and chosen by you and that, even with this mess of sin in my life, none of these things change. I’m yours, Lord. Period. (Ephesians 5:1–2 and Colossians 3:12)
God, help me to trust that you can do in my life what David said you did in his: You sent help to him from heaven; you took him and drew him out of many waters. I’m drowning, Lord; draw me out of this place! This sin is too strong for me, and I finally am willing to admit that to you, Lord. This sin isn’t a friend; it’s an enemy, my enemy and yours, so please, be my strength! Rescue me and bring me into a place of freedom, of spaciousness, rather than this prison I’m stuck in now. Yes, God, because you love me, and your Word says that you not only love me but also delight in me. You love me, are with me—you’ll never let go. O God, thank you. (Psalm 18:16–19 and Matthew 28:20)
Lord, I’m in. I commit to walking forward in this obedience. I rest in your power that enables me to obey. To obey just one step at a time. Today, then again tomorrow. So, before you now, I want to commit to taking these steps in the coming week. I know that I need your Word, Lord, so this is my first step: to read the Bible and to pray it, to really take in your truth again as I’ve been so lazy—just going through the motions if I even bothered to open it. No more! Just one step at a time. Truly, Lord Jesus, help me to seek to please you in these steps. Encourage me and help me to not grow weary or give up. I want to trust you! (Galatians 5:13, Colossians 3:16–17, Galatians 6:7–9, and Proverbs 3:5–6)
I put my trust in you, Lord, even in the midst of my fears and weakness. You are worthy of my praise, worthy to be trusted. You will be merciful to me and will care for me as I take refuge in you. You are holding onto me and will never let go. Rain down your faithful love over me, over my feeble faith, and fulfill all your purposes for me. Thank you, Lord Jesus. (Psalm 56:1–4, 10–11 and 57:1–3)
The Harvest USA Direct Ministry staff are available to help you take steps of faith in overcoming your struggle with sexual sin. Please reach out for help if we can serve you in this way by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finding a greeting card for someone you love can be tough! Have you noticed how the messages in cards are often exaggerated, lofty, and unattainable?
“You make life complete and worth living for!”
“Mom and Dad, you are my unfailing rock and support. Without you, I would have failed to accomplish anything of worth.”
“You’re the friend I’ve always longed for, the other half of my heart living in another person.”
Movies and music also frequently touch upon deep longings for unfailing love and commitment. As image bearers of God, desiring intimate relationships is in our spiritual DNA—yet God alone can offer us unfailing love. We can taste love like this in human relationships, but spouses, parents, children, friends, siblings, and mentors are supposed to point us to God’s love, not hijack our heart’s devotion to him.
Codependency: Worldly Wisdom vs. Scriptural Truth
In the 1980s, self-help books popularized the term “codependent” to describe dysfunctional relationships in which an individual excessively relies upon others for worth, approval, and self-identity. Professional organizations made diagnoses for personality and relationship-based disorders. One example was dependent personality disorder, described as an “excessive and pervasive need to be taken care of; submissive, clinging, needy behavior due to fear of abandonment.”¹ Tragically, the American Psychiatric Association offers little hope because “personality disorders are resistant to treatment!”²
The word “codependent” isn’t in the Bible, and yet Scripture addresses unholy relationship patterns. What the world calls codependency, God’s Word calls “idolatry,” the worship of anything or anyone other than him. When we displace God with human relationships, relational idolatry happens.
God’s explicit command is that we have no other gods, including people, before him in our lives (Exodus 20:2–3). The sin is subtle, but the idolatry that causes codependency happens when relationships entice us away from the Lord, and we selfishly demand that someone give us, or receive from us, love, attention, and affirmation.
Our closest relationships can present the fiercest temptation to turn from the Giver to his gifts. Codependent relationships are idolatrous because they usurp Jesus’s rightful place. Instead of yielding to the Lord who loves us, we yield our sense of well-being to a person. Even though these connections at first feel emotionally intoxicating or comforting, a painful harvest of discontentment, anxiety, and insecurity eventually develops because people can’t fill, heal, or satisfy our hearts!
Delighting In, Rather Than Running After, People
Codependency, or relational idolatry, is something I personally know well. God used Psalm 16, particularly verses 1–4, to help me step away from broken patterns of relating to people.
“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, ’You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.’ As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply.”
David looks to God as his refuge, the One apart from whom there is “no good!” This echoes Jesus teaching his disciples that the truest intimacy and security could only be found in relationship with him: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). When we abide in Jesus alone, he will bear good fruit in our relationships.
Having proclaimed God as his true refuge and Lord, David expresses a godly heart posture towards people: a holy delight in and affection for them. He cautions that when we desperately run after anyone to feel good about ourselves, devastating consequences will result: sorrow, pain, and grief.
When you “watch” Jesus relate to people in the Gospels, he is never aloof or selfishly distant. His relationships weren’t fueled by flattery, people-pleasing, or demands that people make him feel good about himself. John 2:24–25 explains how Jesus lived out Psalm 16:1–4: “But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.”
Jesus loved, served, and enjoyed people without “entrusting” himself to them in the same way that he entrusted himself to his Father. He compassionately and selflessly loved people and obeyed the command to love God alone with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. For all of the Bible’s commands regarding marriage, friendship, parenting, and neighbors, God never said to place our trust in people with our whole being—yet we are to love as he has loved us (John 15:12). That kind of love and trust is rightly focused on our Savior, who refused to allow people to capture his heart’s focus and “sideline” God.
God-dependency Displaces Codependency
If you struggle with idolatry in your relationships and recognize the symptoms of codependency in your life, take heart! Worldly wisdom cannot offer effective treatment for a spiritual matter, but the gospel can through Jesus. He offers all that we need to grow into healthy and holy people. Jesus offers you himself! Our Savior makes a home in us through an eternal union based on his grace. This is the most intimate, satisfying, and healthy relationship anyone could ever enjoy!
Jesus also forgives us when we sin in our relationships, and he heals our broken hearts. Many people were never taught what healthy relationships look like, much less how to cultivate relationships and friendships fueled by rightly ordered love. Pray that God would guide you to love that abounds with knowledge and discernment.
Finally—though so much more could be said—Jesus came to transform your heart so that you would be captivated by his love and freed to move towards people with God-honoring motives rather than selfish demands. With Jesus in his rightful place as our loving Lord, other people will increasingly take their proper place as gifts to be enjoyed.
¹ https://www.theravive.com/therapedia/dependent-personality-disorder-dsm–5-301.6-(f60.7), accessed by author May 29, 2020.
You can also watch the video, “Once Codependent, Always Codependent?“, which corresponds to this blog.
23 Nov 2020
If you struggle with codependency and obsessive attachments, take heart! The Lord can help you and change you.
To learn more about this topic, consider purchasing Sex and the Single Girl: Smart Ways to Care for Your Heart or Your Dating Relationship and Your Sexual Past: How Much to Share by Ellen Dykas. When you buy these minibooks from Harvest USA, 100% of your purchase will benefit our ministry.
You can also read the blog, “Codependent No More: Encouragement for Keeping Christ Central in Our Relationships,” which corresponds to this video.
24 Sep 2020
“I, like many others in her life, wasn’t necessarily bumping up against a proud, coldhearted wall. No, I was experiencing Kara’s protective shield that had been built one piece at a time in response to a scary world…”
To learn more about this topic, consider purchasing one of our resources, such as Helping Students with Same-Sex Attraction by Cooper Pinson and Your Dating Relationship and Your Sexual Past: How Much to Share by Ellen Mary Dykas. When you buy these books from Harvest USA, 100% of your purchase will benefit our ministry.
You can also read the blog, “Post-Traumatic Growth and the Gospel,” which corresponds to this video.
24 Sep 2020
“How in the world is she still standing?! Still functioning as a sane, responsible, adult woman?”
More often than I wish, I am left stunned, with these questions swirling through my head, as I hang up the phone or Zoom call or escort a woman to the door of our office. Why? I’ve just heard a story of such horrific suffering, of traumatic pain, that I’m left brokenhearted and in awe. I can only praise God through my tears for his supernatural strength that has enabled so many women to grow forward after suffering circumstances that could have crushed them—and, in fact, have crushed others.
Why is it that some people come through the horrors of this world still standing, even flourishing, while others’ lives are utterly wrecked in the aftermath of trauma? Military veterans, survivors of abuse, abandoned children, and betrayed spouses often experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a “mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”¹
Many of the wives who come into my office have experienced symptoms of PTSD because the husband and the marriage that they assumed and believed they had do not exist. The trauma of betrayal results in sleeplessness, depression, anger, outbursts, and paralyzing grief. They are responding to the demolition of the safety and security, life plans, and stable relationships they thought they had. Yet I’ve witnessed so many of these women shine for Christ! Faith, resiliency, and courage are fired up, and they plant their roots down deep into the Lord and his Word. How?
Post-Traumatic Growth: Psychological Category and Biblical Concept
The American Psychological Association gives one answer for my response of wonder and awe for the resiliency that I witness week after week in suffering women. It’s called Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG), which I learned about when I researched the impact of sexual abuse. “(PTG) is a theory that explains [healthy]…transformation following trauma. It was developed by psychologists Richard Tedeschi, PhD, and Lawrence Calhoun, PhD, in the mid-1990s, and holds that people who endure psychological struggle following adversity can often see positive growth afterward.”²
While the APA provides one helpful perspective from which to consider PTG, Scripture addresses trauma and its impact differently from the APA. Repeatedly, God makes it clear that, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33), and, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1 Peter 1:6).
The Bible is honest about the ugliness of sin and how people commit evil against one another. In the pages of the Old and New Testaments, stories of traumatic losses, abuse, manipulation, and suffering cause us to cringe. However, the Bible includes something to which the APA is blind: Into this sin-broken world has come our Lord and Healer, Jesus Christ. He offers comfort in the face of terrifying events, hope that these events do not define us, and a trustworthy promise that he can use pain to promote growth rather than distress.
Jesus Enters Our Pain and Transforms Our Responses
Friend, if you’ve suffered trauma, Jesus knows. He sees, hears, and understands. He was treated horrifically through the crucifixion, suffered alienation from the Father, and experienced death. The distress he endured the night before these events was so traumatic that his blood vessels burst, leading to a literal ”sweating” of blood.
Here’s where the gospel brings life and the possibility of true post-trauma healing and growth in a way that the secular theorists can’t! Christ responded to the most horrific pain with honest grief, faith, and love—love for his Father and for us. Christ’s response to traumatic events can become our example and our way of responding, our faith-fueled path of resiliency; this is one of the amazing applications of John 15’s teaching about our union with Jesus.
Post-traumatic growth could be relabeled as “with-Jesus transformation.” As we grow in both knowing who Jesus really is and understanding that we are spiritually joined to him, our pain becomes his, and his resilience, faith, and love become ours in a process that promotes wholeness and healing, displaces our distress, and changes our desires for sinful, false comforts. Christ is in us, the hope of glory, and his power allows us to choose a different path!
Choose Jesus and the Promises of the Gospel
The men and women who come to Harvest USA have a backstory to their sin struggles, just like you do. They may define themselves initially as a sex addict, a traumatized wife, or a person messed up beyond repair. They have been sinned against and suffered much in a sinful world, and they in turn have responded to it with their own sinful choices. However, the gospel of new life in Christ gives us the capability to respond to sin done against us, as well as horrific circumstances, by turning to God for comfort, strength, and wisdom to obey and trust him. This is true post-traumatic growth!
You can also watch the video, “Why a Christ-Centered Lens Is Important,” which corresponds to this blog.
Because of the heart transformation that happens through our union with Jesus, any desire can slowly come under the loving lordship and reign of King Jesus.
To learn more about this topic, consider purchasing one of our books, God, You, and Sex by David White and Sexual Sanity for Women by Ellen Mary Dykas. When you buy these books from Harvest USA, 100% of your purchase will benefit our ministry.
You can also read the blog, “Desires: A GPS for the Human Heart,” which corresponds to this video.
16 Jul 2020
How did we ever get around before Global Positioning Systems were so accessible? I’m sure there are other travelers like me who loathe trying to understand paper maps, not to mention figuring out how to refold them neatly. In the “old days,” we made do, charting our course to the best of our ability by following signs, checking state highway maps at rest stops, and asking for help (sometimes) when we got lost. GPS apps and devices now put all of the information we need literally at our fingertips, helping travelers get from here to there easily and efficiently.
Though not always easy to decode or seemingly efficient, our desires serve as a spiritual GPS for our hearts. What do I mean? We can grow in awareness of how we typically respond to the desires that consistently show up in our lives. During this process, God provides insight into the direction of our hearts: Are our desires facing towards Christ’s love and truth with a posture of surrender, or are our desires facing away from him, towards selfish demands that we be satisfied on our own terms? Like my phone’s GPS that locates my physical position and gives me directions, our desires communicate and motivate us in a particular direction.
Our Desires Communicate
Let me ask you to do something that may seem intrusive and vulnerable but can open your eyes to your desires. If you are currently engaging in any form of sexual sin, think back to the last time you gave in. Now try to remember one hour before you gave way to that temptation. What were you feeling, experiencing, desiring? Next, think back to twelve hours before you succumbed. Again, what were you feeling, experiencing, desiring?
Many women who are enslaved to cycles of viewing porn and sexual self-gratification can identify that certain desires were “speaking” to them before the actual sinful behavior. A longing to be comforted from pain called to them, “Soothe me immediately!” A craving for love or physical affection was persistently persuading, “You deserve what you don’t have!”
Desires communicate to us, but they don’t have the right or power to force us into sinful solutions that ultimately don’t satisfy. Actually, as desires rise up, whether quietly or kicking and screaming from our hearts, the most important factor is where they take us. Like a GPS, in what direction to do your desires motivate you?
We Are Motivated by Our Desires
David Powlison, former director of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation, wrote in his masterful essay, “I Am Motivated When I Feel Desire,”
To examine desires is one of the most fruitful ways to come at the topic of motivation biblically. New Testament authors repeatedly allude to life-controlling cravings when they summarize the innermost dynamics of the human soul. Which will triumph, the natural deviancy of the lusts of the flesh or the restored sanity of the desires of the Spirit? Christ’s apostles have the greatest confidence that only the resources of the gospel of grace and truth possess sufficient depth and power to change us in the ways we most need changing. The mercies of God work to forgive and then to change what is deeply evil, but even more deeply curable by God’s hand and voice. The in-working power of grace qualitatively transforms the very desires that psychologists assume are hardwired, unchangeable, morally neutral givens. Christ’s glance slays and replaces (in a lifelong battle) the very lusts the theories variously explain as “needs” or “drives” or “instincts” or “goals. That’s the second unique thing God shows us about human psychology… We can be fundamentally rewired by the merciful presence of the Messiah.¹
Isn’t it hopeful to know that our desires can be transformed? We need daily “rerouting,” which comes from the Spirit working within us to change our hearts, renew our minds, strengthen our conviction to trust him, and make choices of faith and obedience. Our loving Lord doesn’t merely send a message of hope; he companions and cares for us in the lifelong process of change.
Five Ways That God Shepherds Us in Our Desires
Understanding desires may feel tricky, but God’s Word is a trustworthy map to follow. Consider using the list below as a Bible study that you can use personally or, better yet, with a trustworthy friend or spouse. Together, you can learn how God:
- Names and normalizes our experiences with desires. This is communicated through words like “craving,” “lusts,” and “passions,” all of which you’ll find throughout Scripture. (2 Peter 1:3–4, James 4:1–4)
- Invites us to come to him regardless of what our struggles are, including our disorderly desires. (Matthew 11:28–30)
- Commands us to flee from unholy desires and to fast from influences that trigger them. (Romans 13:14, 1 Corinthians 10:1–14)
- Enables us to increasingly place our whole lives, including our desires, “under his feet.” (Ephesians 1:22–23)
- Comforts us in our sadness and grief when good desires remain unmet. The most important way he comforts us is by giving us himself! (Psalm 34:18, 147:3; Isaiah 61:1–4; John 14:11–4, 8)
Pray and ask God to help you locate the desires that loom largest and most insurmountable for you. Then ask him to shepherd you in the specific ways you need in order to grow in obedience, faith, and trust of him, especially when good desires remain unsatisfied. He is faithful, and he will do it!
¹Powlison, David. Seeing with New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture. (P&R Publishing, October 2003), p.147.
You can also watch the video, “Desires: Stuff, Deny, Embrace…or Something Else?,” which corresponds to this blog.
On Monday morning of last week, I woke up, made my coffee, and settled in for some time with the Lord. However, I was too restless and distracted as my thoughts and emotions spun with so many issues.
For example, I’m working remotely, away from home, so my living space is different, but that’s not a big deal. I have several projects to complete for Harvest USA, which is a gift of grace to have meaningful work and an income! Several tentacles of the COVID-19 pandemic are reshaping and rescheduling my life, though these changes are manageable because God has been gracious to me. And not least on my mind is all the sadness, confusion, anger, violence, and pain surrounding the death of George Floyd and the cries for justice pouring out across the world.
What does this have to do with a Harvest USA staff woman whose job focuses on applying the gospel to sexuality and gender? A lot, actually, because I am living in a broken world that daily impacts me. These influences threaten to distract me from faithfulness to Jesus, but they can also serve as an invitation to draw near to him and cry for help. Like many of you, ordinary events confront me every day, beckoning my attention away from faith in Jesus. Will I move towards the Lord with love and obedience, or away from him with a distracted heart and mind?
Where are local and world events—not to mention personal trials—leading your thoughts these days? My distracted Monday morning came after a weekend of scouring news headlines for the latest information and circumstances in my personal and work life. What’s capturing your attention, emotions, and energy right now: Family struggles? Relational disappointments? Financial trials? Societal evils? Crushing life responsibilities? Private temptations? Stressors are all around, and your heart is responding in one of two directions: towards our Lord, Jesus Christ—or away.
Fix Your Heart on Knowing Jesus
After my thoughts bounced from one thing to another last week, the Spirit settled me and refocused my heart back upon the Lord. I was brought back through these invitational words in Scripture.
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“And my servant whom I have chosen,
So that you may know and believe me
And understand that I am he.
Before Me there was no God formed,
And there will be none after me.
I, even I, am the Lord,
And there is no savior besides me.” (Isaiah 43:10–11, NASB)
Friends, regardless of what is happening around or inside us, our calling and purpose is to believe, know, and love the Lord through faith and obedience, lived out hour by hour in dependence upon Christ. What I need most isn’t to read the latest news—though it is important to understand what’s happening in the world—and it isn’t to accomplish my work tasks. It’s vital for me to be humbled and made aware of my blind spots as I listen to the anguished words of black image bearers of God, but even this isn’t the most important thing. As crucial, God-honoring, and pivotal as these things are, what I needed most last week was to look to the Lord; cry out to him; hear his words of comfort, challenge, and recalibration; and receive his mercy. Only then can I take action in our Savior’s name at the street-level reality of my life. Faithfulness in seeking Jesus will have a ripple effect of grace sent out in all directions from my life; this is God’s intent for his people.
Right now, you need the same thing in the throes of your personal circumstances, temptations, pain, and stress: to seek Jesus. When our world goes crazy, the craving to rush towards false comforts can intensify. Our commitment to holiness and personal integrity in our relationships, entertainment, thought lives, and sexual behaviors can seem less important than what we read in the news every day. Ministry responsibilities, societal pain and unrest, and global crises are important—but if I’m not abiding in the Lord Jesus, soaking up his word, then holiness, integrity, and fruitfulness are at stake, my friends.
Flourish and Run or Stumble and Fall?
My colleague, Shalee, and I help each other when our ministry feels overwhelming. We encourage each other to live out Hebrews 12:1–2 by saying, “Flourish and run, sister!” We want to run the race marked out for us by keeping our eyes on Jesus and by throwing off distraction and sin. How else can we truly love and serve the women God sends our way who are themselves bound up in sin, shame, and the distractions of this world?!
Brothers and sisters, hear my heart: We should never insulate ourselves from or avoid pain and injustice; to do so would be opposed to the gospel and anti-Christian! However, there is one voice we must prioritize, under which all others are submitted. Loving the Lord and our neighbors should always sync up with our private faith, personal obedience, and integrity.
So read the news and pray, asking God to move you to compassionate, Jesus-centered action. Look around at your circumstances and take selfless steps of humble service. But don’t let important things distract you from devotion to Christ and faithfulness in your private life, from flourishing and running the race of loving and knowing the Lord.
May God, our Savior and Lord, cause our hearts to be undistracted from loving him more fully and to be intentional change agents in a world broken by sin and pain!
23 Apr 2020
When sinful desires wage war against us, Jesus doesn’t slip away! Instead, he remains close to us as our ever-present help.
To learn more about this topic, consider purchasing How to Say No When Your Body Says Yes: Finding True Satisfaction by Dan Wilson or Sex and the Single Girl: Smart Ways to Care for Your Heart by Ellen Mary Dykas. When you buy these minibooks from Harvest USA, 100% of your purchase will benefit our ministry.
You can also read the blog, Wisdom from Women and Men Engaged in the Daily Battle, which corresponds to this video.
In this post, you’ll hear from women and men whom our staff know personally. These brothers and sisters in Christ are seeking to stand firm in obedience during the unusual circumstances forced upon them through the COVID-19 pandemic. They are battling well by fleeing sexual and relational temptations through the daily graces that God provides to all believers. As you read their words, perhaps you’ll be encouraged afresh to flee your personal temptations through the mercies that are yours in the Lord.
“Prayer is being used of God to help me focus on Christ and the hope that I have in him! This slower, quieter, at-home pace of life has meant fewer distractions from prayer, as well as unique need for prayer, and I rejoice to be nearer to him.”
“Instead of seeing my temptations—being afraid and anxious, or finding comfort and security in sexual sin—exclusively as invitations to evil, I have begun using them as signposts to remind me to run to Christ and keep my focus on him. It is easy to forget God when going through the normal rhythms of daily life, but, when life gets tough, the suffering and temptation to sin reminds me of the truth that I need God all the time!”
“During my prayer time, I have been using the Psalms as a guide to help me verbalize the troubles of my heart and to remind me of who my God is. Being transparent with God about how I feel and taking time to think about his character has helped to stabilize my heart during these uncertain times!”
“What’s helped me during this time has been cutting off sources that fuel my temptation: TV, movies, music, social media. I’ve been trying to starve my temptations as much as possible. Also, I’ve been consistent in my time with God, pouring my heart out in worship.”
“Completing my workbook assignments in Sexual Sanity for Women (SSFW) has kept me disciplined and reminds me that I always need to be on guard from the enemy’s schemes. Isolation can lead to destructive behaviors that leave scars on my soul, and SSFW reminds me that I must lean on him constantly and never let go!”
“During this time of forced isolation, it’s important for me to stay in contact with my accountability partners. I have to make a conscious effort to call, text, or video chat with them to bring temptations into the light, because that is where they lose their power.”
“As often as possible, I download Christian teaching from my favorite conference speakers, online sermons, or other edifying podcasts and listen to them while working or on a break. This has kept my mind engaged on the Lord and kingdom-living, rather than allowing my mind to wander into lustful thought patterns and fruitless habits. This has an added benefit of providing edifying material to discuss with my wife and others.”
These dear brothers and sisters are living out practical theology while they draw near to Christ, our true “way of escape,” as Paul beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 10:13-14. My former colleague, David White, explained the beauty of looking to Christ when the battle rages:
“Jesus is the way of escape because he knows your pain specifically! ‘For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted’ (Hebrews 2:18). How was he tempted? Lest you think his experience was different, Hebrews tells us, ‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin’ (Hebrews 4:15). Listen to that hope! He has suffered the same temptations you experience. Therefore, right in the midst of your battle with temptation, his help is real and substantial. Knowing that Jesus suffered like you, but did so victoriously, is a deep source of strength and comfort. He alone knows exactly what you need, because he alone knows exactly what it takes, having endured the same temptations, but without ever failing.”
Our direct ministry staff team is honored to jump into the trenches with people day after day, pointing them to our Lord Jesus, our ever-present help in every need and every period of history.
If you’ve been helped and encouraged by our ministry, would you consider giving to Harvest USA today? Even during COVID-19, we remain dependent on God’s sustaining grace and the generous partnership of his people. Thank you for standing with us as we joyfully engage the battle for the advancement of God’s kingdom!