How to Memorize Whole Books of the Bible in One to Two Months

Back in 2010, my husband Bobby and his friend Jordan decided they would start memorizing scripture together. They began with the book of James. Bobby would often ask me if I would check to see if he was right when reciting the verses, therefore I inadvertently memorized several verses too since I was listening to him quote them again and again.

Memorizing James changed both Bobby and Jordan’s lives, as both Heather (Jordan’s wife) and I can attest to this. They both became even more passionate for the word of God and for Jesus himself through this spiritual discipline. Since then Bobby and Jordan have both continued to memorize scripture, and in one season they worked together at the same company, allowing them to memorize scripture nearly twenty hours of the week.

To date Bobby has memorized James, parts of Romans, 1 and 2 Timothy, Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Titus, Hebrews, and he’s currently memorizing Ephesians. I also have memorized chunks of scripture in Colossians, James, Romans, Ephesians, 1 Thessalonians, and 1 John.

Through several years of practicing this, Bobby has also passed on the passion of memorizing scripture to those he has discipled, encouraging the word to transform their lives. He teaches them a simple method of learning big chunks of scripture in a short amount of time. He’s dubbed it the “five by five method.”

 

Let’s memorize a passage of scripture together so you can see how easy it really is.

First, read 1 John 1:1-5.

Second, read 1 John 1:1 five times.

Now try to say 1 John 1:1 five times without looking.

Next, read 1 John 1:2 five times.

Then try to say 1 John 1:2 five times without looking.

Now say 1 John 1:1-2 together five times without looking. That part was hard wasn’t it? That’s because you’re linking them together, but it’ll get easier with each verse you tack on to this chunk.

Repeat reading, reciting without looking, and attaching to the other verses until you’ve memorized verses 1-5.

This takes only ten to twenty minutes, depending upon how frequently you memorize information, but anyone can easily do this. It just takes time and practice.

At the rate of 5 verses a day, you can memorize 1 John in 90 days. You don’t have to stop at 5 verses a day though, as sometimes people Bobby has taught will take time to memorize a whole chapter in one day. When Bobby was working with Jordan, he could memorize shorter books, like Titus, in a week.

If you’d like to read about memorization from Bobby himself, this little freebie is for you:

Share this post to get Bobby's pdf free. Come back to this post to see the document link unlocked.

Please feel free to share this document with others for personal use, but also remember to give Bobby credit. In the document, he shares how to link things altogether and also how to upkeep the verses you’ve memorized.

Memorizing scripture is one of the best ways to get the word in your heart and mind. The Holy Spirit will use the word and bring it to the forefront of your mind in the midst of trial or temptation.

During the process of my heart wrenching miscarriage of my twin boys, I would call out to God with verses I had recently memorized. As Bobby and I cried together during my contractions and labor in the delivery room, we recited what we had learned of Romans together.

When I struggle through temptations of sexual impurity, I remember in 1 Thessalonians that believers are called to live a life of purity and self-control, not like the Gentiles who do not know God. When I’m angry or struggling with sin, I remember that man’s anger does not bring about righteousness, and that sin brings death (both verses from James).

Scripture is described as a sword, piercing through the body and soul. If you are having trials or temptations (if you’re human right?), you’ll want to incorporate memorizing scripture into your daily devotion.

Along with having scripture ready for you in your mind instead of having to reach for your Bible in the moment of temptation, you’ll also find that you’ll understand books of the Bible with more depth. When you memorize a book of the Bible, you become much more familiar with it than when you read through it or have a surface-level study. Also, when you read through other passages of scripture, you can cross-reference to scripture you’ve already memorized, helping you to better embrace the fullness of scripture.

I really hope this helps you in your fight to love God more!

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Pursuing Purity by Gouging Out Your Eyes

Regardless of what you believe about Jesus, we can all agree he was shocking.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

So many quote Matthew 5:27-28 to point to how looking at another with lust is the same as adultery, but when read within context, verses 29 and 30 make such a strong statement.

If you’re dealing with sexual immorality, it’s better that you actually dismember yourself than to continue to walk in this and straight into hell.

I think because many Christians have heard this quoted so much, the verses lose their shock value. But put yourself in the shoes of the first century listeners. They’ve grown up reading about David, who is so often triumphed as a great man while covering over his very real sins in being an apathetic father and committing adultery himself.

Then Jesus drops this word bomb on them.

No, it would have been better for David to cut out his own eyes than for him to have committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband.

The implications are crazy. There is nothing that is more valuable than your soul. There is nothing more valuable than protecting the purity of that soul.

Let’s play an exercise and see if we can regain the shock value.

“It’s better to cut off your arm than to stretch the truth.”

“It’s better to gauge out your eye than to roll through a stop sign.”

“It’s better to cut out your tongue than talk about someone else.”

“It’s better to cut out your ear drums than accept gossip.”

These sound ridiculous and exaggerated don’t they?

That’s really how shocking Jesus’ words are!

Unfortunately they fall on our ears and we are so unaffected by them. We struggle with sexual immorality but we’re not willing to cut off what we stumble over. What in your life is stirring up unholy passions in you that you could cut off?

Movies, television, Facebook, Instagram, romance novels, unfiltered Google searches, magazines.

Whatever it is, it’s worth it to cut it off.

If you stumble in church because of dress, move to the front of the church so all you see is the pastor. If you’re a woman who seeks sexual or self-glory from dress, purge your wardrobe.

This is just a first step and it won’t change your heart, which is the true issue, but it will help you on a trajectory toward being changed.

Trust the wisdom of Jesus’ words. Don’t accuse him of being a Pharisee. It’s not a rule to bind you; it’s a command to free you from the shackles of your sexual sin.

Further Resources
If you want to read more into this topic and with practical ways to run from and cut out these stumbling blocks, I highly recommend The Purity Principle: God’s Safeguards for Life’s Dangerous Trails (LifeChange Books) (an affiliate link, which will not add cost to you if you choose to buy the book, but does help support me to continue to write).

This book helped me to see how much of my life was filled with stumbling blocks, from the external to the internal.

If you’re serious about being freed from sexual sin, I also encourage a tech program like X3 Watch or Covenant Eyes and for you to get an accountability partner to be real with.

Delight in Your Spouse and Have Fun: Forgive without Bitterness

I suppose because we’ve been through so much, assumptions could be made about how Bobby and I feel toward one another. Neither one of us have been perfect, and I have deeply betrayed him.

Interestingly, someone recently said to us that we look as though nothing bad has ever happened in our lives or our marriage. I can see why this man over forty with a seminary degree thought this: Bobby and I are loving toward one another, and we’re joyful. He hugs me; he holds my hand. He dotes on me. He sends me silly love messages in the middle of the day, and I call him for no reason, just to hear his voice. I surprise him with sweet graces, like showing up at his work with a slice of cheesecake on bad days or folding his laundry for him, (we both hate folding laundry).

Let’s all pray for marriages that are joyful at this ripe old age.

 

A key to restoring our marriage has been forgiveness without bitterness. 

Biblical forgiveness sounds wonderful in theory but is like cutting your heart in real practice if attempted without the power of the gospel. It is so hard to forgive someone who doesn’t deserve forgiveness. But as many times as someone is repentant and asks for forgiveness, we are to forgive. If we don’t forgive when someone asks, we are mocking God’s undeserved grace for our salvation (Matthew 6:14–15,  Matthew 18:21–35, Colossians 3:13)

Genuine forgiveness comes without bitterness. When there is bitterness in a marriage, it is impossible to delight in marriage or to have real fun. In the midst of happy moments, the bitter spouse will be thinking about what happened and be simmering in resentment.

The negative effects of bitterness might be hard to be seen in a marriage where a spouse is good at going through the motions, but think about other relationships that don’t require living together. A friendship that has suffered a conflict might result in never being truly mended if one of the friends retains bitterness. That’s what bitterness does. It destroys.

Married couples do not want bitterness to be apart of marriage otherwise it’ll grow deeper and the chasm between the two spouses will widen. Bitterness is also known as a hardened heart, and one of the most popular posts on TheCourage explains how unrepentant bitterness guarantees to end  marriages.

So, how can you measure if you have bitterness in your marriage?

Answer these questions:

  • Can you name for me concrete reasons to celebrate your spouse?
  • Can you name for me specific, praise-worthy ways your spouse has changed over the last year?
  • When is the last time you had genuine, gut-busting fun with your spouse?
  • How often do you think about things your spouse did that have hurt you?
  • How often do you use “always” or “never” to describe characteristics or actions of your spouse?
  • How often do you thank God for your spouse in private?
  • How often do you pray for your spouse in relation to their needs rather than your own?
  • How often do you ask God to change your heart in relation to your spouse?

If you can’t name concrete reasons why you should celebrate your spouse or anything they’ve done to make real changes in their life, either they really aren’t growing in the Lord, or you’re bitter. If there’s a suspicion that your spouse isn’t growing, you should talk with someone objective, like someone in your small group (not your accountability partner) about ways they have seen your spouse grow over the last year.

If you haven’t had genuine fun with your spouse recently, either you two aren’t making time for investing in one another, which is a huge mistake, or you’re bitter. You and your spouse are one flesh, and in a healthy marriage, there is no one who loves you on this earth as much as your spouse. In a healthy marriage, they have made many sacrifices for you. There is no one who knows you as well as they do (or should). Do you delight in yourself? Most humans would say yes even if they don’t like admitting it. There isn’t any reason that you shouldn’t be delighting in your spouse then.

If you are frequently thinking about how a spouse has hurt you but you haven’t talked with him/her about it, this definitely breeds bitterness. Related to this, if you’re using terminology like “always” and “never” you are expecting your spouse to fail or sin in certain situations that you have allowed to grow bitterness. You need to have a serious, calm talk about these things and explain that this has been building bitterness in your heart. You can’t ignore these issues because they’ll just grow bitterness. Be prepared to forgive and let go or get biblical marriage counseling if reconciliation isn’t totally reached.

If you don’t have a practice giving thanks for your spouse, praying for your spouse in relation to their needs, and asking God to change your heart in relation to your spouse, you more than likely have bitterness.  Other possibilities are that you believe that you’re not a sinner or that you aren’t grateful for God’s blessings in your life. And whether you can see this or not, your spouse is a blessing, even if he/she is bringing great joy or pain, as even pain and sufferings are be to received with great joy in a Christian perspective. Regardless of how you feel about your spouse, s/he is an image bearer of God and should be respected and a fellow heir of grace.

 

Looking at Pornography is Adultery

Adultery begins in the heart, where desires are lurking (James 1:15). Adultery, in its simplest terms, is having sexual relations with someone outside of marriage. God forbids adultery (Exodus 20:14).

Consuming pornography is having emotional sexual relations with someone else outside of marriage. It doesn’t matter that the “someone else” isn’t physically present in the room. In the moment of pornography consumption, that someone else is the object of desire. The object of desire is imagined and used in the consumers’ minds in ways that would make us blush to read on this screen.

The consumer is communing with the object of desire through self-pursued pleasure. In that moment of consumption, without a doubt, the one who is partaking in the illicit acts of the heart and hands greatly desires that the object of desire would be with them present in the room. Would marriage hold the consumer back from physically partaking in the same acts imagined if the one desired suddenly appeared in the room? No, it would be too late. The consumer already committed adultery in the mind and a promise that they’ve already profaned will not keep back the passions that have been stoked and flamed by the consumer.

Consuming pornography has become a socially acceptable form of adultery, but that doesn’t change what it really is. Many who are worldly would argue that it is a natural outlet for sexual desire, and I suppose their opinions are a lost cause. They will always pursue what they greatly desire, no matter the cost to their own souls.

But Christians are rebuked to refrain from doing this. There should never even be sexual immorality named among Christians, and at least we can agree that consuming pornography is sexual immorality (Matthew 5:27-28, Proverbs 5, 1 Corinthians 6:10-20)

Recognizing this as a form of adultery is important because it can be just as disastrous to a marriage as actual physical adultery.

Unrepentant adultery will cause God’s discipline to reign down on a believer’s life, and so will unrepentant use of pornography (Hebrews 12:3-17). Continuing to walk in either of these lifestyles of sin is making the statement that this person is not even actually a believer (1 John 2:15-17). It is mocking God and what He upholds as holy.

Did you know God calls believers to keep the marriage bed undefiled and holy (Hebrews 13:4)? Sex is an awesome part of marriage that should be enjoyed, but biblical, Christ exalting sex leaves no room for pornography.

Looking at pornography pollutes the marriage bed, causing the consumer to want something more than what is available in the marriage bed (the other spouse). The object of desire in pornography is never the other spouse!

God has called the believer to a life of purity and holiness, being able to control one’s passions. Pornography does not aide a believer in doing this but only creates an unnatural ravenous desire for more and more illicit sexual acts.

Pornography causes the other spouse to ask questions like, “Am I not good enough? What’s wrong with how I look? Does my spouse love me?” These questions would not be springing up in the heart of the spouse if the consumer of pornography was acting in love. When someone acts in selfless love, the responses are generally vastly different, like, “Woah, I’m loved!” Pornography doesn’t ever stir up this response.

Is there any situation where pornography might not be the consumer’s fault but actually the other spouse’s fault? No, and to suggest that is absolutely sick. No matter what happens in a marriage, each person is responsible for how they will respond, whether in sin or in grace.

Do not be deceived; God will hold all of us accountable for the works we build while on earth. Do not sow in adultery. It is a black pit of despair to be feared. Run away now. You need help if you are consuming pornography and also claiming to be a Christian. Confess your sins; surround yourself with other believers. They will help you fight.

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Do You Desire Sexual Immorality or Adultery In Your Heart?

It’s time to put the faults of your spouse aside and take a good, hard look into the well of your heart. Would you be willing to honestly answer the question, “Do you desire adultery in your heart?”

To make this clearer, let’s put biblical parameters around adultery. Jesus radically challenged the Pharisees when he said that adultery is the same as “looking at a woman with lust” in the heart (Matthew 5:27-28).

Adultery and sexual immorality are often paired together in passages, from Proverbs to 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 to Ephesians 4, with Paul instructing that those who are adulterous and sexually immoral (along with idolaters and drunkards) will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Do you desire to be sexually immoral?

If I’m painfully honest, yes, I desire both. I shamefully want to take what God has made as good, both sex and marriage, and twist it into something totally perverted. My flesh is so wicked that even after all of the pain I have been through from my past adulteries, it still cries out to be satisfied in this sinful way.

I know this is the truth because when I am walking down the street and a man glances at me, I enjoy that glory. I dress a certain way because I want attention, even if I know it’s within the confines of cultural modesty. I’m beautiful and I like the attention from being beautiful.

I struggle to keep a pure heart when a handsome man is around. When being intimate, I have to pray to keep my heart from wandering into areas of mind that are not pure. Thinking of someone else sexually is adultery. If I play around in those areas, I will surely fall.

My flesh cries out that it’s worth it, but my spiritual heart knows its not. It’s been there done that.

So once I realize I am being lured and enticed by my own desires (James 1:14-15), I cry out to God for help.

I pray.
I run.

I don’t dress up if I know I’m not strong spiritually.
I share with my accountability partners even if I’m just being tempted, not even if I’ve actually sinned.

I ask for prayer immediately if it’s really a strong hold on me.
I surround myself with the voices of godly women, of the present and of the past.

I remember that Jesus is a treasure, and that an eternity with him is totally, totally worth waging a war against my own flesh.

Seriously, Jesus was totally right that it would be worth it to cut off my own hands or gouge out my eyes if I had to.

I want eternal life not eternal condemnation.
That’s serious. The sexually immoral and adulterous will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Is that fleeting pleasure worth my eternity?
NO!

I hate that sexual sin corrupts every relationship it touches, from my relationship with God to my relationship with my spouse.

It’s just not worth it.

So though I desire these sinful things, I also need to know, what do I desire more?

Jesus or adultery?

Jesus or sexual sin?

I can’t have Jesus and them.

What will you pick?

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Steps Leading to Adultery: Impure Thoughts in the Marriage Bed

Just to get it out there, yes, this post is about sex, thoughts, and the marriage bed. This should be a safe post for anyone who struggles with sexual immorality though, regardless of gender.

Anyone at all who is not following Jesus will most likely tell you there is nothing wrong with checking someone out, and some might even go as far as to say it’s healthy to think about other people while you have sex with your spouse.

They’re wrong. That’s adultery.

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28 (ESV)

God does not simply judge us to his law based on what we do in our actions, but also in our heart. Even those who do not know God have the law written on their hearts through their creation as it explains in Romans 2:15-16.

“They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

So, that’s why Jesus doesn’t qualify if you’re looking at another while they’re physically present or if you’re desiring in your mind’s eye. God will judge based on the secrets of all.

It’s totally dangerous to think about another while in the marriage bed because you’re setting your appetite to crave someone other than your spouse. If you think about another in this way, what happens when that doesn’t satisfy? Will you chase after pornography next? Will you then chase after a relationship? How do you know when your appetite has had enough?

“Can a man carry fire next to his chest
and his clothes not be burned?
Or can one walk on hot coals
and his feet not be scorched?
So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife;
none who touches her will go unpunished.” (Proverbs 6:27-29)

Instead, stop your appetite for things that are unholy before it grows into an untamable beast.

If you struggle with impure thoughts when it’s a moment of intimacy with your spouse, here are a few things you can do to battle:

  1. Stay in the Word every day and pray for purity. Without taking a full meal of the word, it’s going to be hard to fight on spiritual fumes.
  2. Confess your sins to the Lord, your spouse, and your accountability partner.  Yes, I said to your spouse. Here’s how, “I’m struggling with being pure in my heart and mind. I want to cherish you as you should be cherished, as God has joined us together for our delight. I want to delight in you in purity, but my heart is shamefully evil. Please pray for me. I need help in this area and I want you to know that.”
  3. Right before being intimate, pray together with your spouse. “Lord, please guard both of our minds so that we are pure and will delight in one another. May we enjoy this time as a gift for our marriage.”
  4. Focus on your spouse in the moment instead of letting your mind wander. Don’t let your mind think even about what’s gone on in your day. Focus on eyes, lips, hair, smell, and other physically present things. Keep the light on if you have to.
  5. If it’s uncontrollable, stop, pray, try again.
  6. Have regular times of intimacy. Don’t wait until your body’s passions are attacking your mind. Also let your spouse know your needs.

I hope these help! If you’re a lady, you’re always welcome to reach out to me for further advice. If you’re a dude, you’ll be redirected to my man.

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Steps Leading to Adultery: Forsaking All Boundaries

In their inherent intended usage, rules are pretty useless at helping prevent adultery. I think that’s because we all love breaking rules. A lot of us are rebels at heart. Or we’re so good at following rules that we ignore what’s slinking around in the darkness of our hearts. The rest of us are Pharisees, (religious rule-followers who look like awesome goody-two-shoes but whose hearts are far from purity and righteousness).

Hey, you’re in good company with Christians. We fail but our Savior reigns. We know we’re terrible at following the law and unable to obtain holiness. So we submit to Him who was able to follow every rule with gladness and gentleness and not an ounce of self-righteous hypocrisy.

The law was never meant to give life. Only Jesus’ death on the cross was meant to give grace, offer a transformative heart, and deliver from the deadly cost of sin.

What rules do help us to see, though, are safe boundaries that we should in principle follow; the boundaries that we should rejoice in placing as a grace for our own good, not what we must follow out of drudgery and self-righteousness. Rules also help us to see what we really want.

It would be ridiculous of me to put a rule to never eat chocolate because I really, really want to eat chocolate. I love chocolate. I would be setting up the don’t-eat-chocolate rule to fail. That reveals my heart, though. I can’t place that rule because I can’t follow it. If I start to want chocolate more than I want to follow God, that’s a problem. I suppose I have some chocolate idolatry pondering to do after I finish writing this post.

But in relation to adultery and setting healthy boundaries, are you willing to give it all up to fight those wandering feet? Mark your own response to some of these boundaries and rules:

  • What if you placed a rule that you could never ride alone in a car with a member of your attraction pool (whether members of the opposite sex or those of same-sex attraction)?
  • What if you happened to have to do something with a member of your attraction pool at work, and you and your spouse agreed to call one another before this type of co-working?
  • What if you placed a rule that your spouse could check your phone at any moment of the day or night?
  • What if you placed a rule that you weren’t going to discuss topics surrounding your marriage with others, especially not “complaining” about your spouse?
  • What if you promised to tell your spouse when you were struggling with any sorts of feelings at all toward a specific person?
  • What if you promised not to flirt with members of your attraction pool (or not to flirt with anyone except your spouse)?

If your heart flares up in response to any of these “rules” as, “Hey! That’s stealing my freedom! I’m an independent person!” this thought is revealing some of your heart issues.

If you really wanted to ensure that you never commit adultery, you wouldn’t care about the cost of setting boundaries. If you’re not setting that healthy boundary, you’re giving yourself an out. You’re giving yourself the opportunity to “fall in love” with someone else. Or simply to fall out of love and commitment with your spouse.

If I was really committed to a healthy lifestyle at all cost, I would gladly give up all sugary versions of chocolate, but seriously they’re calling my name. Not setting that rule helps me to not feel that ounce of guilt that most certainly would come if I were to break that rule (like a thousand times). I’m not giving up any of my freedom to indulge either. So when I bite into that piece of sugary chocolate, I’m really not doing anything wrong. No rules broken here.

Now, we all know where my heart is.

C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E

I would communicate the same if I were not willing to set healthy boundaries for preventing adultery.

Let’s Be Clear Caveat
Now. This is not a manifesto on how to convince your spouse to submit to a list of rules to keep him/her under your surveillance. If you’re worried your spouse will commit adultery (or commit a second time) but your spouse doesn’t WANT to set these boundaries, the boundaries are useless.

When I set boundaries with my husband after the last and, by the grace of God, final adultery, they were set in order to talk through ways in which my life had been allowing these creeping opportunities.

I wanted boundaries.

I know my heart is prone to wander, and so I wanted his help in coming up with boundaries that would produce safety for me and trust for him. He wasn’t the only one who helped me set healthy boundaries either, my counselor, our church, and my accountability partners all helped and currently help, too.

Throughout Psalms and in Hymns, the writers call out to God to bind their hearts so that they will not wander from the truth. They know the depth of their own hearts and they know if they’re given the choice, they will walk off into all sorts of snares of sin. They plead with God for him to lead them away from their own flesh-driven temptation and to continue to set their eyes on his face.

That’s my heart for myself and for you if you’re struggling with thoughts of adultery!

Don’t do it. Pleading with you not to give in.

It’s not worth it.

Have a talk with trusted friends and your spouse about ways you can set up healthy boundaries today.

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What Leads To Adultery? You’d Be Surprised

After our first anniversary, I remember getting in a big argument with Bobby right before we were leaving for small group. I hatefully told him if he ever cheated on me I would divorce him.

I’ve clearly eaten those words because I have pleaded for his mercy and grace to fight for our marriage and through my craziness and confusion. Our marriage has been a thorn in his flesh and a smiting tool God uses to refine Bobby. Bobby has discipled me through very rough eight years of marriage. Of course there have been joys and graces, but on the whole, we would not recommend to single men to marry a woman like who I used to be.

Because of his commitment to Christ and willingness to genuinely lay down his life for me, in order to present me as spotless before Christ, I owe him my life. He has demonstrated to me day in and day out the barebones of faith in Christ. My life without faith in Christ would be desolate, and Bobby’s example of living Christ never burns out.

Could this be a picture of adultery? On the outside, nope. But we can’t see either heart, so we can’t know. God knows though.

 

My Foolishness In Thinking I Was Safe
Back to that second year though. I suppose I thought that because I couldn’t see myself committing adultery, I was safe. Most people assume that men are the ones more likely to commit adultery. I think a lot of wives commit adultery in their emotions, in their lack of vulnerability, and in their discontentment. Jesus says after all, that lust in the heart is equivalent to committing adultery. He’s not exaggerating there. God is concerned with the heart seemingly more than actions.

This applies to women who might not be committing sexual immorality, but who are totally emotionally unfaithful. Out of boredom, one friend spent her free time at home in glorified chat rooms. She soon got close with one specific user and started to spend more and more time chatting and getting to know him. She began to compare her husband to the user. She then started wondering what life would be like if she were with this user. Soon, there were things she would tell the user rather than her husband. Thoughts, dreams, desires, wishes. She was convicted that this was essentially adultery, confessed, and stopped talking with this man.

Before the first adultery and while I was still new to marriage, I had carried over a habit from singleness of checking out men, seeing if they were checking me out, checking to see if they had a wedding ring, and assessing other aspects of their physical character all in under ten seconds. I bet you can only guess what that did to my heart. Often I was already committing adultery and I didn’t even realize what I was doing with my thoughts.

Strength in Christ does not mean you are safe either. Surprise, surprise, Bobby fights against temptations to commit sexual immorality (adultery). He had these struggles even before I committed adultery, but understandably revenge adultery was a strong temptation in response to the third adultery. We both agree that pornography is adultery. We even see desires to be with someone else in any way that is meant to be exclusively held for marriage as adultery. It’s a slippery slope to “full blown” adultery!

If Bobby were not to fight every single day, confessing his sin to me and to others, taking every thought captive, he would be swept away. Though Bobby is strong in the Lord, he is totally weak without him, and should never, ever believe he is safe from adultery.

So, read this list with an open mind and consider, are you leaving room in your heart to lead toward adultery? It’s not glamorous at all, and if you need a strong slap, read how my choice to commit adultery nearly destroyed me.

Obvious and Overt Paths to Adultery

  1. Desiring adultery in your heart
  2. No accountability
  3. Not attending worship regularly and not being an active member of the body of Christ
  4. Not reading the word daily
  5. Not fighting sin
  6. Breaking agreed upon boundaries
  7. Not having boundaries with the opposite sex/ attraction sex
  8. Not using discretion with “red flag” members of the opposite/attraction sex
  9. Flirting
  10. Having a practice of keeping secrets from your spouse (keeping part of your life private or off limits)
  11. Deleting any message, picture, or record to prevent your spouse from seeing
  12. Seeking attention from others through dress, attitude, or speech
  13. Blaming your spouse for marital problems
  14. Engaging in any form of pornography (already adultery)
  15. Checking other people out and imagining what it would be like with them sexually or in marriage (also adultery, but of the heart; this was the main issue of my second adultery)
  16. Thinking up ways to commit adultery and how you could get away with it
  17. Not having a healthy view of the marriage bed (sex)

Subtle and Slippery Paths to Adultery

  1. Lack of gratitude, grace, mercy, or forgiveness in marriage
  2. Always assuming the worst of your spouse
  3. Refusing to lay down your life for your wife
  4. Being purposely, un-biblically in-submissive
  5. Lingering, general discontentment in marriage
  6. Apathy toward marriage (it’s not broken, don’t fix it)
  7. Seeking a Disney-style, happy-ending marriage (the main reason for my first adultery)
  8. Expecting your spouse to fulfill every desire of your heart (only Christ never disappoints)
  9. Any lack of self-control sin like gluttony, financial foolishness, slothfulness, anger, etc. (if someone lacks self-control in one area, s/he often lacks control in another, and the self-control failures grow if not trained in righteousness)
  10. Pride in self and in possessions or assets
  11. Seeking my own glory or believing in lies that sin is glamours or satisfying, even in a moment (this is totally the main crux of my third adultery)
  12. Not knowing God’s purpose for marriage and pursuing your own version

I’m not going to put a number on this because the list could easily grow, but these are ways I can see right now that would lead to adultery if not confronted and abandoned at the cross of Christ. I suppose some of these seem ridiculous, but then I’m the one sitting on the other side of adulteries. It is serious, not ridiculous.

I also don’t want to throw out this list and say there isn’t any hope, you’re just bound to commit adultery. If you don’t fight, yes. You will commit adultery. But if you’re willing to lay aside selfish sin and desire and wholly seek Christ, his resurrection power in you, believer, will succeed. Fight!

What are your thoughts? You can comment below or let me know via email to vanessa.jencks at gmail.com so I can pray for you.

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My Flesh Wants My Own Glory, My Heart Wants to Love God

If there’s anything that having been the managing editor of a magazine has revealed about myself, it’s that my flesh really does want glory. As a managing editor, I was required to keep track of the numbers of followers and engagement my brand magazine and website generated.

I became obsessed with social media, and I would catch myself on social platforms past my work hours. I wasn’t trying to be a good steward of my work responsibilities. I was craving attention, connection, and success. It was more than unhealthy; it was seeking glory.

When I seek my own glory, I’m loving myself primarily and exalting myself over God.

The consequences are numerous for seeking my own glory. First my relationship with God suffers. I don’t focus during devotion because I’m thinking about how I can do this or that better. I forget about the responsibilities I have at home or for my own health because seeking my own glory is more important.

It’s really ugly.

Proverbs 25:27 says, “It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.” This connects to the earlier verse at 25:16, “If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.”

If I draw on those two verses, when I take in too much of my own glory, my heart and soul and actions are like vomiting this profuse waste because I have no self-control to limit my eating of my own glory.

I am already struggling with wanting to seek after my own glory with this blog, and I’ve only been writing here again for a week or so. I’m thankful for the focus of this blog though: fighting sin, glorifying God, loving God, encouraging other women, and pursuing Christ in everything that matters. If my blog were its own breathing person, seeking its own glory would be its personal anathema.

There’s a temptation inside of me to be hypocritical and pursue glory, but more than anything I want to transform the community of Christian women in the US to love one another and love God the most. I can’t be used by God to do that, if it is his will, if I’m focused on numbers instead of his glory.

I know this is going to continue to be a thorn in my flesh, and so honestly, this article is for me more than it is for anyone else. I need to remind myself that Christ is more satisfying than any success, any accomplishment, any change. I also need you, reader, to help encourage me to follow after Christ not after myself. I welcome rebuke anytime you even get a whiff of self-exaltation.

Without Christ being at the center of this blog, all of this is totally meaningless.

Now, I would love to just be ascetic (abstaining with severe discipline) here and cut off my blog, leave all social media platforms, and call it a day. But that would just ignore my problem of loving my own glory.

It doesn’t matter what I do, I can seek my glory in anything.

I’ve sought my own glory in house cleaning, being a mom, being a wife, exercising, cook and eating, being Vanessa, being a teacher, and being a Christian. I can’t stop eating. I can’t decide I’m not going to be myself anymore. Asceticism changes behavior and substitutes it with another. It doesn’t deal with the heart.

Alright, how?
How can you deal with the sin of the heart when you can’t give something up?

1 – Love God, Worship Him
If there’s no love in my heart for God, loving myself will come naturally. I can’t love someone I don’t know, and I can’t know someone if I’m not spending time with someone.

If you told me you loved me, I wouldn’t believe you. You don’t know me! You’ve never spent any time with me; you’ve never done anything for me. And if I compared your “love” to my husband’s profession of love, we both know who would win in that battle of loves.

Well, if I say I’m in love with God but I don’t think about him, read his letters to everyone (the Bible), talk to him (pray), sing praises to him (worship him), give him thanks for his specific gifts to me (the Cross and an abundance more) or have a humble heart toward him, my love for him is not a believable love. Just like your love for me.

As my love for God grows, my love for myself diminishes. The more I love God, the more I want his glory and am disgusted by my own infatuation with myself.

2 – Know the Word, Self-Preach the Gospel
John Piper has said to preach the Gospel to yourself each morning so your heart is singing and new, rejoicing at the mercy of each day. That’s a great way to help your heart readjust to focus on what matters in this momentary life. The Gospel can be succinctly explained by many preachers and believers, but knowing the verses that support those succinct summaries of the Gospel is important for having a Biblical-foundation of trust in the Gospel.

Knowing and mediating on the word is helpful in loving God more and fighting sin. I love that 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

By knowing scripture, I am training myself in righteousness. True righteousness is totally opposed to seeking my own glory and any other sinfulness.

What’s cool is that scripture is like a sword against sin. Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Whew. Ready for a stab to the heart? Let’s open our Bibles and turn to Hebrews 2, 4, 6, 12, 13 and 1 Peter  and 2 Peter. Enjoy your grace-filled conviction and tears.

In all seriousness, knowing what is sinful will help you to battle sin. If you’re oblivious to sin, it will fester and grow faster than cancer. In case you need a reminder of my own devastation with sin, here are links to my painful lessons through adultery and my husband’s struggle with forgiveness.

3 – Take Thoughts and Actions Captive
For some things, we know we’re in sin, but maybe we haven’t quite trained ourselves enough in righteousness to be able to completely resist the temptation when it comes. Therefore, we must be aware of how that temptation starts.

Paying attention to what I do with my time and what I’m thinking about is helpful. I struggle with thoughts of what happened during the adultery. Thinking about what happened is not profitable. It doesn’t point me to Christ, and often points me toward a mess of feelings including condemnation, retaliation, self-loathing, sexual temptation, and shame. I have to be conscious to take captive those thoughts and pray for grace, forgiveness, purity, and self-control.

Philippians 4:8 commands that believers think about what is profitable and holy, and anything attached to memories of the adultery is far from that.

For my struggle with social media, I do need to check it for my blog, but I don’t need to check it ten times a day. Paying attention to how many times I check or how many times I want to check can help me to assess how much I really need to fight my desire for glory.

4 – Confess Sin, Be Accountable
Confessing my sin to God is first, but I can’t just do that. First of all, my sin affects my whole family, not just me.

If I continue to engage on social media when my daughter asks me to read her a book, though I haven’t spent much time with her that day, that’s sinful. I’m putting a higher value on social media than her.

That’s so twisted!

Social media is fleeting, but my daughter is precious. My motherly responsibilities include to love, teach, and guide her through life, not waste time on social media.

So I’ve apologized to my kids, to my husband, and to my friends for misplaced attention. I’ve also confessed this struggle of seeking my own glory to my accountability partners, so they can ask about how I’m doing with this. I lean on the promise that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

5 – Learn From Other Believers and Teachers
Lastly, it’s a grace to have the introspection of God-honoring men and women written down in books and in blogs. We live in a world with a wealth of access to people like John Piper, John MacArthur, Tim Keller, Paul Washer, Jonathon Edwards, Dietrich Bonheoffer, and many, many, many more.

I also personally find that the more I’m fellowshipping with other believers, the more I rejoice in the work of God. We encourage one another by testifying to what God is doing in each of our lives. As believers, we are not meant to live out our faith apart from one another. When we try to do this, we become like a spark that’s been spit out of the campfire. It quickly burns out when not connected to the source of the flame.

*All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV)

I’m curious if you also struggle with seeking your own glory. How have you battled this?

Please comment below

 

If you have any questions you would like to ask Bobby or Vanessa, please send a message to us via social media, comment below, or send an email to vanessa.jencks at gmail.com

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Why Bother Fighting Sin When It Brings Shame?

 

Shownotes

Hey and welcome to Take 10 with Vanessa Jencks, where I share encouragement, exhortation, or rebuke in under ten minutes.

Today I want to talk about why confess sin, why battle sin, why deal with it. I think a lot of people believe if you’re confessing your sin, if you’re saying you have sin, it’s a shameful thing. It admits that you’re not perfect. Even as a Christian, it can be something that brings about way more shame than what I think is actually intended from confession.

So I think a really great passage in talking about this is 1 John, especially looking at 1 John 1:5-10 and the first part of Chapter 2. Now just a little bit of background about 1 John, John was writing to a church to exhort them that and show them that they were actually true believers. There was a group of people that left from them, and they were concerned about what these people had been saying, if they were following the way, if they were truly seeking after Christ.

So John writes these letters to them, so that they know for sure they are believers. Although we’re not looking at this text for that purpose, exegetically, I can point out practical applications from the text.

What is so awesome about these verses is that it can show you clearly what it looks like to walk with Christ and what it looks like not to walk with Christ. Some implications from that text are that God is light and there is no darkness in him.

If we are saying we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we’re lying and we’re not practicing the truth. If we’re walking in the light with him though, we’re having fellowship with other believers, so that his blood cleanses us from all sin.

But on the flip side of that, if we say we have no sin, we’re deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. And then if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And man, look at verse 10, if we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Then if you go back down to chapter 2, he says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you do not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

So, this is such a convicting passage because, essentially it’s saying, “If you’re saying that you’re a perfect person, if today you have not sinned, if in this past week you haven’t sinned, you’re a liar. You’re not practicing the truth. You’re not actually walking with Christ.”

That’s a huge slap in the face to people who think they’re believers, but they’re really not. It’s also a check, like a heart check for believers to stop and look and say, “Am I walking with Christ right now? Or am I pursuing after my own flesh in this moment? Am I truly seeking what is glorying to the Lord? Am I confessing my sin?”

Because if you’re confessing your sin, you’re being made more and more into his image and likeness. If you’re confessing your sin daily, if you’re saying, “Lord, I don’t live up to your commandment to love the Lord my God with all my heart and soul and mind, just as a default, where else am I sinning?”

David asked God to look into his heart and to show him his sin. And this man was a man after God’s own heart. God specifically chose him because of the faithfulness of his heart toward the Lord. And yet David himself says he’s not sure if he’s got sin in his heart. “Please show me if I do, I know I’m a sinner.” He humbled himself before the Lord.

See, confessing your sin doesn’t have to be shameful. If we’re looking at it from a right perspective, if we’re looking at it in the perspective that sin hinders us, it hinders us from rejoicing and loving God more, then we’re going to want to get as much of it out of us as possible. The best way to do that is to confess our sins to other believers and to our Lord, so they can hold us accountable.

There’s this moment right before the third adultery, which was the most earth-shattering for our marriage, right before it happened, I was laying awake in my bed. For context, my husband and I had just been through this sweet period, where we had been memorizing through Romans, and we were really strong spiritually. But then we got busy. I was neglecting my spiritual disciplines. We were neglecting a time of confession with each other.

I remember laying there awake, realizing I was struggling, but too afraid to share with my husband. Who knows what would have happened if I had just told him that I was struggling before I did anything? That was before I pursued after it whole-heartedly. I would have saved myself so much heartache by just confessing my sin to him.

So, I don’t ever want to be that foolish again. I don’t want to ever think I’m so strong that I don’t need to confess my sin daily. So I would exhort you sister to find someone, your husband or someone else, confess your sin to them. Walk with Christ. Walk with other believers.

That’s my prayer for you. I hope this has been exhorting and encouraging to you.

That’s my Take 10.

If you have any questions you would like to ask Bobby or Vanessa, please send a message to us via social media, comment below, or send an email to vanessa.jencks at gmail.com

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Angry? 5 Real Ways I Fought my Explosive Anger and Child Abuse

Last week when I confessed about committing adultery, I mentioned about one other post with a secret I would share. Again, the reason I’m baring my soul is so that when I talk about the effects sin has on a believer’s life, you’re not going to give me an eye roll. I won’t need to glaze over realness and be afraid to step on anyone’s toes. Love, I have the scar marks from sin, and they’re not pretty.

Sharing this is honestly much more scary than admitting to committing adultery three times. The fact is that this sin is socially unacceptable, and there is never a face put with this that isn’t demonized. What is it? I physically abused my daughter when she was still really, really young.

How It Happened
Before I go on any further, I’m going to stop here and explain that I do not abuse her now, and at the time of when I confessed to get help, a state CPS report was filed. So, no need for you to fill out another one, though they would tell you since I don’t live in the US, I’m out of their state jurisdiction anyway. Since I confessed, I went to counseling and got help for my anger.

[A sidenote from a practicing US clinician based in Beijing, “I wanted to make sure your readers understand that US citizens are NOT outside of US Federal jurisdiction when they are outside of the US, particularly when it comes to cases involving children. For example, Federal legislation does allow for prosecution of US citizens for crimes against children abroad.  As a clinician, I’m still a mandated reporter as mandated by my licensing body AND federal law.  When I’m in China, I must report to the US Embassy in Beijing.]

It’s not important, or helpful I think, to share with you how I abused her, other than to say that it was more than yelling and spanking. This abuse went undetected for about a year because I never left a mark. It was also NOT sexual abuse (though even those who have sexually abused others can be changed).

When a close friend of mine found out she responded, “I’m so sorry, Vanessa. I remember you saying that you were struggling. I know it’s not like you woke up and thought ‘I’m going to hurt my daughter.’” She was right. My anger built. My circumstances around me got harder and harder, while parenting got harder, and I dealt with all the stress in an extremely inappropriate, inexcusable way.

I look at my sweet little girl now and I feel so much shame and pain for having hurt her so much. She was so little she probably doesn’t even remember, and now she adores and loves me so deeply.

Reality Check: Faces of Those Who Abuse
I’m sharing with you today about this secret because I know most likely there are parents sitting in front of their screen who might also physically abuse their children.  I might be the first American person who has ever publicly admitted to physically hurting their child since CPS has scared everyone, but I know well that I am not the only one who has done this.

Several moms, from all over the world and from all sorts of socio-economic backgrounds, have confided in me that they struggle with anger and/or abuse toward their child.

When I was explaining to my daughter’s homeroom teacher (not in the US) how I had hurt her in the past, her response was, “That’s not as bad as what some people have done.” Heartbreaking.

One mom told me, “I don’t spank because I am the kind of mom who, once started, wouldn’t be able to stop.”

In the US, in an attempt to root out all possible abuse, CPS has made it virtually impossible to get help from qualified professionals and pastors without being reported. There are those who physically abuse their child and want to stop but are very, very scared about what to do.

They’ve heard horror stories about CPS, and it’s overreaching arm. And, largely this is the truth. What will happen to a family depends upon the case worker and supervisor more than it depends upon local and federal laws. Though this is changing, there’s not a lot of standardization from one CPS district branch to the other, which leads to a lot of unknown.

Even though statistically there are many parents who physically harm their child, the prevention measure is to punish rather than educate parents on how to deal with the ups and downs of childrearing. And that leads to a lot of hiding.

Children Are Hurting From Parental Anger
It’s estimated three million children in the US are victims of child abuse, meaning that 1 out of every 25 children you see is probably a victim of abuse. Statistically speaking, at least one peer in every child’s classroom is a victim of categorical child abuse.

Many more parents deal with explosive anger, when they suddenly snap at their children when under circumstantial stress. But it’s not the circumstances that cause sin during a flash of anger. Sin is at the very heart; it’s indwelling in everyone’s flesh.

I would venture to say that even yelling is abusive. I know that sounds extreme, but stay with me for a moment.

As adults, we don’t want to be yelled at by other adults, our boss, our spouse, or strangers. Why would it be OK to yell at a small child who depends on us for everything? What can a child do to escape the yelling and shouts of a parent?

All they can do is cower in fear and cry, or hide and wait for us to calm down. This isn’t what a loving relationship should look like, yet in reality this is what many of us faced as children or what our children now face from us.

child abuse

Pursue Christ, Pursue Change
There are many things that I want to teach and share with those parents who abuse their children or who deal with anger and yelling, but I’m going to narrow down what I can share to what helped me immediately.

  1. Confessing My Sin
    There came a point when I realized my anger was uncontrollable, and if I did not get help, I was going to continue to do what I was doing on increasingly dangerous levels. That moment was sobering because I had tried to stop myself from getting angry, but I became “blind angry.”My body was so caught up in the moment of my anger that all I could see was the cause of my anger and everything else was physically blacked out. I sheepishly told my husband what I was doing, and that started a cascade of decisions toward professional and pastoral help.Yes, I was reported to CPS, but how big of an issue is this really? My daughter’s safety and my true healing were both worth going through this fear.It’s a lie, love, that if you keep secret what’s in secret there, it’ll go away or eventually fix itself. Bring what is sinful out into the light so that it may be exposed and destroyed. Confess your sins so that you may be healed (James 5:16, 1 John 1:9)
  1. Getting Accountability
    Once I confessed the first time to my husband, a top priority was finding a no-nonsense accountability partner to walk through this battle with me. I would suggest an accountability partner who would have no problems asking you straightforwardly about your anger, but someone who also will encourage you to look to the gospel and Christ for strength to fight this sin. There’s no need to put on a face for your accountability partner because s/he knows you are a sinner. Not to mention, they’re called to exhort you in gentleness. (Galatians 6:1)A better fit for an accountability partner in this situation would be someone who can just walk in on your life with your child at any time. And if you’re ready for a challenge to your self-control of your anger, record yourself via audio or video the whole day. Give that to your accountability partner. If even the thought of that makes you uncomfortable because of what someone would see about your day to day, that’s a solid reason to get help to change.
  1. Seeing Anger for What It Is
    The feeling of anger is not sinful, per say, but stay far away from believing that all anger is not sinful. Here’s an example. It’s good for you to want to keep your children safe, but getting angry with them for doing something dangerous is not going to keep them safe or teach them about danger. If they’ve disobeyed you, that still doesn’t justify sinful anger. Their disobedience doesn’t justify your disobedience to God (Bobby’s mentor said this, I can’t take credit for it’s simple brilliance). You’re called not to sin in your anger (Ephesians 4:26).Speaking of awesome mentors, one of my previous mentors pointed out that anger is when you’re upset that you’re not getting something that you want. It’s normal to feel anger, but how we act is the difference between being Christ-like in our anger and throwing an adult-sized temper tantrum.
  1. Seeing My Child as Owned by God
    Who has given this child to me and who does this child ultimately belong to? Have I made the earth or my own womb? Was I able to give this child life? If then I did not make this child, nor pick her to be mine, how can I treat her as though she belongs to me and not to her maker?If I see my child as fearfully and wonderfully made by God, that I am a steward over her, to minister Christ and the gospel to her, my attitudes and actions will greatly change. If I look at the way I treat her as a daily testimony to the gospel, that she is my most important disciple, I should surely be aware that mishandled, inappropriate anger points her toward my sin rather than toward the goodness of the gospel.As a non-perfect parent, I ask my child for forgiveness when I sin against her, whether through anger or through unkindness or something else. I remind her that I too need Jesus to give me a changed and renewed heart and to teach me to walk in his ways. Otherwise, how can I fulfill the command of Christ to raise her up in the ways of the Lord? (Ephesians 6:4)
  1. Reducing Stress
    Lastly, anger can often arise in times of stress, even low stress. Though this is not the root of the problem of sinful anger, creating an environment of less stress can help parents focus on dealing with the heart problems of sinful anger instead of focusing on dealing with stressors.Many of the circumstances of abuse of my daughter happened out of fear for her safety or to prevent her from hurting my son. I would have been wise to ask for help from friends, to create safe places in my home for them both, to buy a hand tether for my daughter (she was a street-runner), and to throw out cultural, extra-biblical expectations on children and moms to have “well-behaved angels” (she was a public screamer).Remember, I am the adult; she is the child. I am responsible to care for her and make the least stressful environment for us both.

I hope this quick burst of information was momentarily helpful, though I want to encourage you to seek out help and run. Run fast and far away from the sin that seeks to tear you apart. Let’s join together to fight!

If you are a believer, Christ saved you from eternal death. Is anger a larger hurdle than God’s wrath poured out during an unearned and shameful death on the cross? Uh, no. If the power of Christ can overcome death, can not his spirit of power break you away from your flesh dwelling in its sinful anger? Yes! Run to him!

Was this charge helpful? Comment below.

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Photo: Runar Pedersen Holkestad (Flickr)

I Committed Adultery: It’s Not Worth It

Along with how I became a believer and one other article I’ll be posting next week, the other bit of information I feel like needs to be known about me is that I’ve committed adultery.

I committed adultery three times, in three different ways. This is important for you to understand, as a reader and partner with me in fighting sin, because when I talk about the effects sin has on a believer’s life, I want you to understand that I have personally felt the pain of death sin brings (James 1:12-15).

adultery

In a nutshell, in the second year of our marriage, I kissed a man who had gotten too close to us as a couple. In the middle of our marriage, I created the opportunity to go through with adultery, but didn’t have follow through from the man. The third time I committed adultery, I had sex several times with a man in my community. My husband has forgiven me (along with forgiving the men involved) all three times, but it hasn’t been without cost and pain.

No Need to Be So Open
I’ve been told before to be careful about these stories, that I don’t need to share with everyone this because, in the world’s eyes, I’m all sorts of terrible words. I’m a slut, a whore, and an adulterer. I’m unclean. These types of traits aren’t to be associated with one who bares the name of believer (1 Corinthians 5:1-13, 6:9-20). I can’t represent Jesus when I act like this.

And regarding representing Jesus, they’re right. I cannot actively walk in sexual sin and represent my God well. In the midst of committing adultery the third time, the man who had sex with me asked if I was just a Christian because of social pressure. I wanted to throw up.

No. That is not the reason why I am a Christian.

Bluntly stated, I was blaspheming the name of God in front of this man because of what I was doing. How could I testify to him the goodness of God? I couldn’t.

But I choose to share these stories now because I didn’t just fall into adultery by accident. Day by day I was walking closer and closer to adultery because of my complacency in fighting sin. And dear sister, I don’t want that for you.

Together with prayer and conversations with my husband, I have come to accept that my honor is not as important as helping you to pursue a rich and meaningful relationship with Jesus. There are specific people that I chose to start this blog for – dear sisters spread around the globe who I know battle sin but feel defeated. Even if this blog just helps these ladies, I will have accomplished the purpose of this blog.

Effects of Sin from Adultery
Now, yes Jesus paid for my sins, both past and future (Romans 5:12-21, 1 John 1:5-2:6). But I experienced painful earthly effects of sin when I committed adultery these three times.

  1. Death of trust in my relationship with my husband
    Of course this would happen in any relationship where adultery happens, and it is by grace alone that my husband actively works to forgive me in his heart and mind.
  1. Weight of my sin in my relationship with God
    Most notably after I committed adultery the third time, I wrestled with whether I was really even a believer, (I thought to myself, “Really, what Christian woman does this?!”). I felt so distant from God and this distance was painful.
  1. Confusion
    Because I had given into the desires of my flesh that wages war against me, I found great difficulty in fleeing and fighting these desires after I confessed to committing adultery. There were times during my husband’s and my healing that I wanted to just give up and pursue my own crazy passions, but when thinking clearly, that’s not what I wanted. I didn’t want to destroy my marriage and my children. It was an ongoing battle to fight these flaring desires.
  1. Shame and grief of my sin/ shame in my testimony of marriage
    There is so much joy in counseling younger women to pursue purity before and after marriage, but I don’t have that testimony. My testimony is, “See how I messed up and learn from my terrible examples.” I deeply regret the sinful choices I made.
  1. Death of all relationships with all these men
    Maybe, my husband and I could have shared the good news with these men, but there’s absolutely no hope of this now. Not unless God has in his plan to work a miracle. We both pray for these men, that my actions would not be a stumbling block, and that my husband’s forgiveness would point them to the one who is able to forgive eternally. But at this point, my actions represented that my God is a joke.
  2. Pain in reading certain scripture
    The Word is good for believers to consume everyday so we can joyfully worship our God. Can you imagine, though, how it feels for me to read Proverbs 5-9, the warnings against adultery and the adulterous woman (also includes a comparison between wisdom and folly)? There are so many passages that are painful to read because I was that woman, tearing down her house with her own hands.

Popular culture romanticizes adulteries. If it’s “love” it’s OK. If the husband is a jerk, it’s OK. But that’s not the truth of the gospel. God gave marriage to be a picture of Jesus’s love for the church (Ephesians 5:25-33). Is there anything the church could do for Jesus to abandon her? No, the book of Hosea teaches us that.

This short list of main ways the sin of adultery affected my life hopefully shatters any romantic ideas about adultery. If I had gone through with my flesh and decided to end my marriage, my husband and my children would have both experienced a lifetime of pain from my choices to selfishly reject my vows and pursue pleasure. Adultery is not worth it, and it’s one hundred percent selfish regardless of the reasons.

Ladies, I encourage you to fight with me. Fight with endurance the race that is set before us. There is no sin that our God cannot overcome, and there is no sin that is worth giving into. Let us rejoice together in the new creations God has made, and live in his light daily.

 

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Photo: Hans van den berg (Flickr)