I am a cultural transplant—blossoming in the desert these past 8 years. My wife and I moved, as missionaries, to Jerusalem—and proceeded to become Israeli. We never imagined what a challenge transitioning from western to middle-eastern culture would be. The spiritual warfare component of life in the “Holy Land” put things over the top.
I had already spent a majority of my life warring in the area of sexual integrity. By the time we made the move to Israel—and I stumbled into middle age—lust and sexual addiction became my bottle: a bottle that didn’t leave a smell on my breath or leave me sleeping in the gutter. Rather, I was able to remain ‘functional,’ as a missionary, as a full-time minister, as a bible teacher and disciple. All the while compartmentalizing my life to protect my marriage, my church, and my sanity from being annihilated. It didn’t work. I descended slowly and deeply into an addiction that took me dark places I never, ever imagined I could go. I was living the ‘frog in a simmering pot’ parable. To say I was living a double life would be to downplay the devastating reality —I was an addict, a hypocrite, completely out of control—lying to myself, to everyone around me, and to my God and Savior.
I was an addict, a hypocrite, completely out of control—lying to myself, to everyone around me, and to my God and Savior.
God loved me too much to leave me in that place, at the gates of Sheol. My secret life was revealed, suddenly and unexpectedly one afternoon by one of the adult kids who had become part of our family. My wife demanded full disclosure on exactly what I had done—everything—32 years worth. My community leaders quickly went into action, standing before the full congregation and revealing, in detail, my failings. The community home my wife and I had built was abruptly closed. My position in the community, my home, my job, my friends, my loved ones, my marriage, were all gone within a matter of days. I was like Jonah—I had been swallowed up in the darkness, and was descending into death.
Over these past 11 months of separation from my wife, God has led me through a long, slow, painful process of deep repentance and rediscovery. He has brought me some incredible resources —including books, teachings, music, blogs—which had helped me to reclaim the greatest prize of all: True intimacy with the lover of my soul, Jesus.
Just two months ago, a friend recommended a sermon by Pastor Tim called, “Love and Lust.” Listening to the wisdom of God’s word from Pastor Tim’s perspective touched off a revolution in my life. Since that time, I have devoured virtually every sermon published on iTunes and the Redeemer website—more than 100 messages in the past couple of months. Messages such as “The Prodigal Sons,” “The Two Great Tests,” “Marriage As Commitment,” “Worship,” and “Basis of Prayer,” have completely, utterly changed my life, as the Lord used them to renew my heart and mind through the work of the Holy Spirit.
…the Lord used them to renew my heart and mind through the work of the Holy Spirit.
I find Pastor Tim’s teaching striking a chord in my life that continues to ring and resonate long after the last “Amen.” Life here in Jerusalem goes on—a new job; an apartment by myself; weekly marriage counseling appointments; four times per week 12-step meetings for addiction recovery. But the most profound impact on my life has been the process of falling back into love with God’s Word; and in turn, falling in love all over again with the God who created me to be loved by Him. In this new place of intimacy and deep love, I have only one response: Worship, profound worship in the Spirit.
Thank you Pastor Tim and the family of Redeemer Presbyterian. I have a home church that I attend weekly here in Jerusalem, as well as a small group Bible study. But, I have come to feel a part of your family as I have learned and grown along with you. I am eternally grateful. Please pray for me.