A Broken Heart
For many years and generations, our society has been losing a most valuable ingredient. Why do we see so many perversions done to be accepted as "normal" and "natural?" I personally believe that men don't know how to be men and fathers don't know how to be fathers to their children. I believe women long to be women but men have run away from their responsibilities leaving the women to be both mother and father. This will never work. A child, whether a son or a daughter, gains his identity from his or her father. If the father is not there, either physically or emotionally, how can he instill any worth or identity upon the child? Our only hope is in learning how much our heavenly Father desires a close and intimate relationship with His children and becoming the children He says we are.
What you are about to read is a story of hope...and the reason we sing...the reason we will never stop praising the Lord Jesus Christ. The following is our personal witness of the love and power of Jesus Christ in our lives. As you read, we are asking the Lord to break your heart by the things that break His heart. And may you realize your Father's great love for you! You see, it's time for the Church to be honest. If we can't be honest then how can we be healed? And if we can't love one another enough to see healing in our own lives, how can we love a lost and dying world enough to see healing in their lives? No sin is too little or too big. They are all filthy before Him! All we know is we have been called to bring hope and healing to the lost and dying! How He loves you, child!
Dennis & Melinda Jernigan
A Broken Heart - Dennis' Testimony
We Have Believed A Lie!
Before I begin my story, you must know that I desire to bring honor to my earthly father and mother as well as to my heavenly Father. The reason I share the things I am about to share with you is because I believe many people will be able to identify with what I have "gone through." My greatest desire is that you would come to know the Father even more intimately than I have. Because we are all born sinners we all have some very basic needs. Yes, we have physical needs. But I'm referring to the many emotional and spiritual needs we are born with. Little children gain their identity through their father. I can remember being a little boy and desiring my daddy's approval and acceptance for every area of my life. Being a father of both boys and girls myself I can see not only how my sons need me to help them realize "who they are" but my daughters as well. One of my daughters may "do" her own hair and come to my wife, Melinda, and ask how it looks. But it takes dad's stamp of approval before she will really believe that it looks acceptable. And isn't that the way it should be with our heavenly Father? I desire to gain my worth and acceptance from my heavenly Father? I desire to gain my worth and acceptance from my heavenly Father and who He says I am. As a father, I desire to nurture my children in such a way that they do not become dependent upon me but are able to transfer their deep needs to their heavenly Father. I realize I will never be perfect as a father, husband, worship leader, or person. But my Father is perfect--in every way! My healing has come and will continue to come as I seek an intimate and life-giving relationship with Him.
I was born in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Soon after my birth, my parents moved to the farm my grandparents (Samuel Washington and Myrtle Mae Snyder) had built--the farm where my father was raised. We lived three miles from the small town of Boynton, Oklahoma (Pop. approx. 400) where my brothers and I attended school. The Lord gifted me from an early age to play the piano. By the time I was nine years old I was regularly playing for the worship times at First Baptist Church. This was also the church my grandfather Herman Everett Johnson had pastored. This was the church where my parents, Samuel Robert Jernigan and Peggy Yvonne Johnson, had met. My father had also "led singing" here from the earliest I can remember (as he presently does today). When I was about six or seven years old, my grandmother Jernigan moved back to the farm in a trailer next to the old farmhouse where we lived. And each day after school I could be found at my grandmother's house practicing piano—conveniently forgetting about my chores.
It was through my grandmother Jernigan that the Lord taught me to play the piano. Since we lived so far from any town with a music teacher, I had to learn to play by ear. My grandma was very patient with me and taught me how to "chord" for "church playing'!" It was also my grandma who told me there was more to a relationship with Jesus than getting saved. She once told me that she would know my grandpa Jernigan when she got to heaven because the Lord had told her his "new name in glory!" I was in awe! God spoke to my grandma--but I could never hear him speak to me. Needless to say, I grew very close to this godly woman. It would be many, many years before I would begin to realize the full impact that she was to have and is having on my life.
My relationship with my parents, from talking with many others over the years, was quite typical for my generation. We were not an affectionate family. While I did feel affection from my mother, I never remember receiving physical affection from my father or among my brothers and myself. My daddy was very hard working. We were not poor--but we were not rich monetarily. In addition to working the farm, my dad was employed by a utility company and eventually worked as a mechanic for many years. Since I have gotten older, God has reminded me of many ways my father expressed affection and love for me as I was growing up. My problem was not my father. My problem was that I believed a lie. Once Satan got his foot in the door of my heart, any rejection - no matter how big or how small--was perceived as a lack of love from my dad (or whomever I felt rejected by at the time).
Looking back, I realize that I was a very selfish child. From the earliest I can remember, I found it hard to believe anyone loved me. I felt worthless. Since I didn't believe anyone loved me, I couldn't really receive love. What I did discover, though, was that if I did something well, people would like me. So, I tried to be the best in whatever I did: schoolwork, basketball, music, etc....But I became so frustrated because no matter how well I performed, it never seemed to be good enough...I was very miserable and felt all alone (even though I wasn't alone!). Sports and grades weren't giving me any hope--neither was music. Because I made choices based upon how or what I perceived people thought of me, I became a very selfish person--usually at the expense of others--and most often as the expense of my little brothers. What people thought was so good--my outward performance--soon began to hide the deepest hurts and failures of my heart. And I must add that my daddy and mama never missed one single event I was involved in while growing up, this should have spoken volumes to me. Still I chose to believe a lie.
Now I need to tell you about what I consider to be the most painful part of my life, a part I tried to hide. Since I felt so rejected, I allowed it to permeate every part of my life. (What I didn't realize was that Satan was lying to me, all the while trying to keep me from God's plan for my life.) This included the sexual part of my life. In this area I felt so ashamed and afraid of rejection that I became even more selfish and perverted in my way of thinking. As a boy I needed a role model to show me the way to manhood. But because I felt rejected by the main man in my life I, in turn, rejected him and began to yearn for intimacy with a man in perverse ways. Because of this wrong thinking I came to believe I was homosexual. It must have begun early in my life because I remember having those feelings for the same gender at a very early age. I hid this from others through high school and through my four years at Oklahoma Baptist University even though it wasn't hidden from those I had relations with. I might add that even though I was involved in homosexuality through my college days that I still regard that time with fondness. It is in looking back that I can see the awesome and mighty hand of God ministering His love to me in the midst of my sin and confusion. Because of my lack of musical training while growing up, my musical studies at OBU were like learning a whole new language. To be able to actually read and write the music I could see or hear was like a whole new world opening up to me. This would be very valuable later in my life as I began to express my heart and my feelings in song.
Upon my graduation from OBU in 1981, God began to move in supernatural ways that even I couldn't see! One of these instances was a simple music concert. A group called The Second Chapter of Acts was going to be in concert in Norman, Oklahoma, and I know that I was supposed to go. By that time in my life I was looking for anybody who was real—someone who had a real walk with the Lord. And among Christian musicians, I was looking for more than entertainers. So, I went to their concert. I knew by the words they said and the music they sang that these people were genuine, and the message was born out of times of desperation in their own lives. I needed hope. As I listened to Annie Herring speak and sing I was overwhelmed by the love she spoke of. This was the love I had dreamed of but still couldn't believe was available to me! So I listened very intently with great expectation--until she came to the song *"Mansion Builder." This song caught my deepest attention because of the simple phrase, "Why should I worry? Why should I fret? I've got a Mansion Builder Who ain't through with me yet?" All of a sudden she just stopped in the middle of the song and said, "There are those of you here who are dealing with things that you have never told anyone and you are carrying those burdens and that's wrong--that's sin and you need to let those hurts go and give them to the Lord. We are going to sing the song again and I want you to lift your hands to the Lord--and all of those burdens that you are carrying, I want you to place them in your hands and lift your hurts to Him." This was all new to me--worship and praise. I had always thought before that this was just an emotional response that didn't really mean anything. But you know what it did for me? As I lifted my hands, God became more real to me than I had ever imagined! The lifting of my hands was more than a physical action. My hands were an extension of my heart! I realized that Jesus had lifted His hands for me--upon the cross. I realized that He truly was beside me and that He was willing to walk with me and carry me and just be honest with me. And I could be honest with Him! At that moment, I cried out to God and lifted those burdens to the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, I can't change me or the mess I've gotten myself into--but you can!" And you know what? He did change me!
At that time I acknowledged the fact that I was totally helpless and I turned everything in my life over to Jesus--my thoughts, my emotions, my physical body...and my past. Basically, I took responsibility for my own sins and yielded every right to Jesus--my right to be loved, my right even to life. Because of my choice to sin, I deserved death and hell--and that's where Jesus came in. At that point, something wonderful began to take place in my life...I began to hear the Lord speak to my heart--"Dennis, I love you. I have always loved you! Dennis, you are my child--I love you no matter what. Dennis, I will always love you!" It was then that I lost the need to be accepted or loved by others because I realized Jesus would love me and accept me no matter what, even when I was rejected by others! It was also at this same time that those sexually perverse thoughts and desires were changed...and He began to replace them with holy and pure thoughts about what sexual love was all about. You see, the sexual drive is a creative drive and Satan knows that if he can pervert that drive, he can kill and pervert God's creativity in us.
This all seems to fit in place for me now. For when I was about nine years old, I felt the Lord speak to me that I would someday have a large family of my own...with nine children! I thought, "Lord, You must be crazy. How can I have children if I have homosexual (unnatural) desires?" Do you see what Satan was trying to do? Not only is God blessing me with a wonderful marriage and many children, He continues to pour out His music in my heart. It is out of the gratefulness of my heart towards the Lord that I will have all the children He will bless me with and I will never stop singing praise to His name! The secret—the key for me—is knowing that Jesus loves me and that I need Him desperately more every day...and realizing that He wants to change me—to change my heart—every day. My desire is to come into His presence (lay myself on the altar) that He might change me into His own image. You see, when I was nine years old, Jesus began calling me to Himself. On September8, 1968, I asked my mother how to be saved. She explained the plan of God's salvation--that we were all sinners and that we deserved to perish in hell. I was saved that Sunday afternoon and baptized that same evening. I believe that I was saved when I was nine years old, but because I looked and perceived my heavenly Father through my own perverted image of my earthly father, I couldn't fully receive all He had in store for me--like acceptance and forgiveness. It is so amazing to me that He loved me enough to preserve my life the way he has in this day and age of promiscuity, perversion, and sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS. One thing that kept me going during the early years of my life when I felt like giving up and living in sin, was the fact that Jesus kept calling me. If He was God then there was truly hope for me! The most precious thing of all is that He loves me with all His heart...and that's how I want to love Him. Because of this relationship with Jesus, my healing has been and will be a continual process...until the day I die and can see Him face to face!
Another major point of change for me came during this same time in 1981--yet another divine setup! A close friend found out about my past. I knew I would be disgraced and rejected now! When he confronted me, I ran from the house and continued to run until I could run no more. At that point, I simply cried out to God to speak to me. At the same, my eyes were directed to look into the darkness of the evening sky where I was drawn to a puffy white cloud floating above. This cloud looked like an old man with a beard and outstretched arms. Near this cloud was a smaller cloud in the shape of a lamb. As I watched, the bearded man engulfed the little lamb in His arms. I knew immediately that God was speaking to me...that this was what He wanted to do for me in this time of need. I then had the grace to return and "face the music." But that's not what happened! This friend was a true friend. He told me he loved me and was willing to stand with me as I walked through this time of deliverance in my life. And you know what else happened? God began to bring others into my life who were willing to love me unconditionally and to walk with me through the trials of my life--no matter what--for my complete healing.
In 1983, God called me to marry my wife Melinda. I assumed that since I considered myself to be healed that there was no need to share my past with her. But I soon realized that I was really still trying to hide--which meant I still carried a burden and that I was still more concurred with what man thought of me than what God thought of me. Soon after we were married, the babies started coming! And with the babies, the added pressure of responsibility to deal with the real issues of total healing in my life. Hiding the truth would keep me from the healing God wanted for me in my life.
Because I hid these things from others, my relationships could never truly be what God wanted them to be--because in true love there is no fear. I was always afraid to tell anyone because I thought no one would love me. Why am II telling you now? Well, on July 13, 1988, I realized God wanted to take the greatest failures and weaknesses of my life and make them my greatest strengths--and that Satan wanted me to keep them hidden so he could use them against me. But like the prostitute, Mary Magdalene, I realized that to hide those things kept me from fellowship and freely loving the One I loved the most--Jesus. Not only this, but if I confessed my past freely, Satan would have no ammunition against me. So here's what I did. In July of 1988, I shared what I just told you (in a much more brief way!) with my church...and something beautiful took place. People began to come out of the woodwork who had been hurting just like me. And even more so! Men and women who were involved in homosexuality (sodomy), women who were abused by their fathers, those who had been raped and never told anyone, and even those who had abortions, etc. As they confessed their sins and hurts, Jesus was able to begin healing all their past. On that day, I publicly laid down my life and my reputation to serve Jesus in an awesome way. However, I want my life to be broken and poured out life the perfume Mary Magdalene used to wash Jesus' feet even though they said she was foolish. I want to lay down my life and reputation for others just as my Lord Jesus did for me. Imagine that--the perfect King of the Universe humbled Himself and gave up all His power and glory because He loves me! I can do no less!
Since the day I first shared my past publicly, God has called me to tell others what He has done for me--to lead and call others into intimacy with Jesus through the avenue of music and worship. It was after such a time of sharing in my hometown of Boynton in 1989 that I began to realize the true depth and extent of God's great love for me and the calling upon my life—and the role of my grandmother Jernigan's vision and prayer upon my ministry. After leading worship at the Boynton Community Center, one of my grandma's old prayer partners said to me, "Isn't it wonderful how your grandmother's prayers have been answered?" Amid feelings of shock and tears of joy, I asked, "What prayers?" And she answered, "Didn't you know? Your grandmother told me how she would stand behind you as you practiced the piano at her house each day and would ask god to use you mightily in His kingdom to lead in music and worship! And He has answered her prayers!"
Your circumstances, your sins, your wounds, etc., may all be different than mine, but the answer is still the same--Jesus. You may have been sinned against and wounded very deeply. For those times you are not guilty! If you have been used or abused in any way, you can be healed. Do not receive the false guilt that Satan would try to put on you because of circumstances that were beyond your control. I urge you to deal with your own heart and the things you were (and are) responsible for--like attitudes, actions, thoughts, and feelings! There is hope for the hurting. If you are like me, you may need radical surgery. Surgery may take more time than it takes to put a Band-Aid on a wound. But surgery generally gets to the cause and doesn't just cover up or pacify the symptoms of the wound. If you are willing, you can get to the root(s) of your sin(s). I urge you to get to the root of and deal with whatever you may be facing.
I've been there and found the way out, and I must share my story--the story of Jesus—with those who are hurting. Aren't we all hurting in one-way or another?
The bottom line is this: I can't make it one day without the Lord. I ask Him to fill me with His spirit day-by-day and moment-by-moment and to lead me. You see, we are all helpless and in need of a Father to care for us. And He is the Father Who will never leave us or forsake us. He is the Father Who enjoys our presence more than we could ever enjoy His! I am no longer afraid of what others think of me (at least I'm asking the Lord to help me in that area!). Please pray for me and my family as we seek God's direction for our lives. I love you.
In His Love and Grace,
When Dennis asked me to share my version of our story, I was thrilled to get to share what the Lord had done for me (Because we are one flesh, what the Lord did for Dennis, He also did for me). You see Dennis is not the only one who has a story to tell. All of us who have been saved from ourselves, our sin, have a testimony of God's grace that when shared can give hope to the hopeless.
Before Dennis and I had even met I had been deceived that I needed affection from a man to feel complete. Many of those dating relationships led to the breaking down of the woman God wanted me to be for Him; a pure and spotless bride. Instead the lust of my flesh was strong and so perverted that I thought I could date and eventually marry a Christian man and still continue to walk in sin. When I met Dennis, I had ended an unholy relationship and was looking for something else to fill the void--I long for love, a touch, and the warmth of a relationship. I didn't realize that the whole time Jesus was patiently waiting too fill this void.
Dennis was a simple man, the kind of man I wanted to marry, and I was also attracted to him. Not knowing all that he was dealing with (sodomy) we began to date. Over a period of three years we dated off and on, mostly off, until 1981 when we graduated. I never understood his mood swings, and often I tried everything I knew to gain his approval (I was an expert flirt) but to no avail. Still I thought our relationship was over and a year went by before the Lord began working in my life (at the same time changes by the Spirit of God also were occurring in Dennis' life).
The main choice I made was to release Dennis to the Lord and to return to my first love, Jesus Christ. God's Word became real to me again and I encountered a move of the Holy Spirit that was real in my own life for the first time. Through a girl friend, I realized that Holy Spirit is a person I can talk to. I can feel His Presence, and I can even hear His voice speak back to me. Soon after the Lord had filled me with His love, my mother received a letter from Dennis. It had been over a year but I still recognized his handwriting. Dennis always had been better at writing down his thoughts and feelings so I wasn't surprised that he wrote—but my Mom! Well, he wanted permission to write me and begin our relationship again. I don't remember all it said, but my heart was leaping because I had thought this man was out of my life, but now the Lord was going to restore this relationship like He had done with my relationship to Him.
Over the next couple of months we mainly wrote letters and saw each other a few times—this was a different man. He talked about the Lord with me (we had never really discussed this topic much), and he was writing music that was anointed (he was told at college that he couldn't do this). And He also spoke of the Holy Spirit moving in his life, talking to him and even directing his plans and desires for his future. One of those desires was to marry me and I gladly accepted. Because I desired intimacy and did not seek it from the Lord, my past relationships were very much based on the desires of my flesh. I ended up feeling used, and the intimacy I desired was never fulfilled. I had not seen how a man could love me without first using me. But Dennis loved me without using me. We never shared out past; he knew enough to know I had known other men but he also told me he thought of me as a spotless bride, a virgin, in his eyes much like Christ does the church.
Our marriage was good, but there were still cycles of insecurity and the feeling of a constant need of assurance that I was loved. Many of my times of weeping were understood, but the feelings did not go away. In 1987, the truth of being the righteousness of Christ was revealed to me. Lights flashed on in my head and for the first time I knew what it meant to be a new creation. To be alive in Christ Jesus, I am Holy, I am Righteous and I am all of who Christ is. The cycle of self-pity had begun to break in my life. Yet, there was still a lack of intimacy between Dennis & me. I desired that intimacy but I could not understand why there were still barriers in our communication. Three days before Dennis openly shared with our church body, he told me of His past sin, sodomy. My first reaction was not of shock so much as of relief. Now I could unload my garbage and get everything out in the open and go on. Of course, I had questions, but I trusted Dennis and knew he was free and was grateful that he was confident enough in my love to share his most intimate sins. The first time he shared publicly what the Lord did for him was hard for me; all I could do was cry; to see a man so humble and to confess his sins that had been bound up in his heart for years made me love him even more.
At first, I was afraid of what people would think, but I know now it doesn't matter because God gives grace to the humble and He was pouring out His grace and blessings on us.
The blessings were coming by way of children, three by the time he shared publicly, and nine by the time you read this. I count it a privilege to allow god to bless us with children and not hold back from receiving all the gifts He wants to give us. Miracles do happen! Because of both of our pasts medically and in the world's pattern, we could both have diseases that would even keep us from having children. So I rejoice that Jesus saved me for Dennis and saved Dennis for me. There is no other man that I would rather walk alongside and love with all my heart.
Our marriage is great! God is bringing us into a deeper intimacy with Him and subsequently our marriage is more intimate than it ever has been. I know it will continue to grow deeper in the Lord. I wish I could tell you I never struggle with self-pity any more, but I do know the pattern is broken and I have reckoned it dead in my life. I am no longer the harlot, the manipulator, the deceiver, or the sinner that I once was. I am a new creation and I walk in victory knowing that Jesus Christ is Lord of my life in all these areas. I don't have to walk about carrying sin that has been buried with Christ and is gone. I have been raised to walk in His likeness, His resurrection, His holiness, His purity, His righteousness, His peace and His shepherding. Hallelujah!
In His Love,
Encouragement from Dennis
Who Is God?
In order to understand who God is or what He is like, it makes sense that we find out what He says about Himself. One of the best ways to know what He is like is to find out what He calls Himself. Listed below you will find just a sampling of some of the names God has given Himself along with their meanings. Also listed are Scriptural references for your own referral and study. It is important for you to know also that God revealed Himself through Jesus Christ in all these ways.
I Am Who I Am, Self-existent - Exodus 3:14; John 8:58
Righteous, Life, Redemption - Jeremiah 23:5-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21
Shepherd, Guide, Protector, Exhorted - Psalm 23; John 10:11
Healer, Health, Healing, Physician - Exodus 15:226; Acts 3:6
Banner, Victory, Flag, Covering - Exodus 17:15; John 12:32
Provider, Provision, Source, Sufficiency - Genesis 22:14; John 6:1-14
Peace, Comfort, Security - Judges 6:24; Philippians 4:6-7
God Is There, Omnipresent, Friend, Faithfulness, Strength- Ezekiel 48:35; Colossians 1:27
Holiness, Sanctity, Light - Leviticus 20:7; 1 John 1:7
What is God, our Father, really like and what does this mean for me?
“His name will be called...Everlasting Father...” Isaiah 9:6; John 5:18
1. OUR FATHER KNOWS THE NEEDS OF HIS CHILDREN.
“. . .your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8
As a child, I need my Father.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?" And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." --Matthew 18:1-4.
In my own life I failed to see that Jesus simply wanted me to trust Him and depend on Him for every need of my life. It was, and is, my dependence on me, on things, and on others that kept me or keeps me from true acceptance and rest and trust on and in Jesus. Paul the apostle said this in Romans 7:18, 24, 25-- "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh, for the wishing [to do good or right] is present in me, but the doing of good is not...Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" This is so true of our lives. We all wish to do good but because we are all born sinners, we do not have the power to do good or overcome sin. This is why we need Jesus. He is the only one who can set up free from sin. He is the only one who can change us--we can't even change ourselves. It is when we admit that we have a need that we give our Father the freedom to meet that need-whatever it is!
2. OUR FATHER DESIRES THAT NONE PERISH.
"What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go search for the one that is straying? And if it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. Thus it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish." Matthew 18:12-14
As a child, I must see where I would be if not for my Father.
And He said, "A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.' And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in the land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, 'How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in they sight, and am no more worthy to be called they son: make me as one of thy hired servants.' And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in they sight, and am no more worthy to be called they son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and they father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve the, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thing. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found." --Luke 15:11-32
I was saved when I realized I could not save myself from the consequences of my sin—eternal separation from God in the fire of hell. I was set free from homosexuality when I realized I could not save myself from it. I did not find Jesus--He found me! I was the one lost. Like the father in this story, my heavenly Father loved me even when I turned from Him to a life of sin. He waited for me to realize my need for Him. He ran to me and welcomed me home with royal treatment. When I began to understand that this was what my Father was really like, I began to understand that I had believed the lies of the enemy. God, my Father, was not distant. God, my Father, was not going to crush me if my performance didn't measure up. God, my Father, had great respect for my feelings and did not, in the name of authority, suppress or disregard them. My Father simply did not want to see me, His child, be destroyed. What keeps me in check is knowing that, because of my sin, I deserve death and hell. What keeps me humble is knowing that any freedom I have or any success I may enjoy has come only from my Father and the people He has used to bring me to this place. What keeps me grateful is seeing where I was rescued from and where I would be if He had not rescued me.
3. OUR FATHER DISCIPLINES US BECAUSE HE LOVES US.
"...He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." Hebrews 11:10-11
As a child, I must see God's deep love for me in His discipline. "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently." (Proverbs 13:24) As I watch my children grow, my desire is to protect them from harm. If they continue in an attitude that is harmful to them or others, I must deal with it if I truly love them. My love for them is demonstrated in Godly loving discipline. God's love is perfect. He does not hesitate to use the circumstances of life to cause us to cry out to him. We must accept the fact that we are helpless and hopeless without Him. Wisdom--true wisdom--is simply seeing all of life from God's point of view. "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." (Hebrews 12:11)
4. OUR FATHER ALLOWS PAIN AND HARD TIMES TO REVEAL OUR NEED FOR HIM.
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." James 1:2
As a child I desire to trust my Father. The trouble is that I have grown up in a world full of untrustworthy people and role models. The good news is that Jesus is trustworthy! Our Father is Someone we can trust in hard times or in good times. And because He is working His character into the lives of every believer, He desires to bring us all to the place as brothers and sisters where we trust on another--and can continue to love one another even when we fail or are untrustworthy in some matter. God's children must accept the fact-the truth--that God is good and He allows only that which will bring good in our lives. (Matthew 26:39-42; Genesis 45:5,7) "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, a and are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who as Him!" (Matthew 7:11)
5. A FATHER ANSWERS HIS CHILDREN'S CRIES.
"Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer." Psalm 61:1
The Father desires to meet the needs of His children. Because He is God and because He is our creator, we must trust Him and believe that He really does know what's best for us. This means that He is able to see and hear and know every intimate detail of our lives. This also means that when we think He is not with us, we are wrong. The problem is not with God but with us. His word tells us to draw near to Him in humility and He will draw near to us. He delights more in our presence than we could ever delight in His. We must allow the Holy Spirit to remind us of every time in our past when we believed God was not with us and then show us how He was really there all the time. He just wasn't doing things the way we thought He should! We need to find out what God desires for us (which is our best) and then cry out to Him! "...You do not have because you do not ask." (James 4:2)
6. OUR FATHER KNOWS HIS CHILDREN.
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12.
When we become new creations, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin--past, present, or future. The blood is the payment for the debt we owed because of our sin. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. In essence, we belong to Jesus! My Father knows everything about me--even the junk I wish He couldn't see. But because of the blood of Jesus, I can stand before Him without shame--because He sees my sin and loves me anyway! Our desire, our true desire, is to have an intimate relationship with our creator. What a gift we have been given and what a joy is the journey knowing I can draw closer and closer to Him in this life! Get to know Him. He already knows all about you and still loves you dearly and deeply. Let Him lead you to greater depths of holiness. We can't change ourselves...but He can change anything about us! "'...I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord..." (Philippians 3:8).
7. OUR FATHER LOVES US.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
That scripture says it all. God knew we would turn from Him...yet He paid the price of punishment and death for our sin. My prayer is that you would not turn away but would trust Him to be strong yet gentle to heal any hurt or devastation you may have suffered in your life.
The eternal, self-existent God, the God who is three in One, He who dwells in the center of your being is a powerful, valiant warrior. He has come to set you free, to keep you safe, and to bring you victory. He is cheered and He beams with exceeding joy and takes pleasure in your presence! He has engraved a place for Himself in you, and there He quietly rests in His love and affection for you. He cannot contain Himself at the thought of you. And with the greatest of joy, He spins around wildly in anticipation over you. And He has placed you above all other creations and in the highest place in His priorities. In fact, He shouts and sings in triumph, joyfully proclaiming the gladness of His heart in a song of rejoicing...all because of YOU! --Zephaniah 3:17
SO WHAT DO I DO IN MY SITUATION?
Are you involved in some compulsive behavior? It is sin. If you live and breathe, you will deal with sin until the day you die. I have listed some of the most basic and necessary steps I feel would help you in overcoming any sin--from over-eating to masturbation--from gossiping to homosexuality. You see, sin is sin. All sin has been overcome by Jesus. The Holy Spirit has been given to bring the power of Jesus fresh day by day to life us over temptation. I cannot give you any formula except to say the Holy Spirit is available and more than willing to meet you where you are...and to lead you out of your sin--any sin. Ask Him for grace and for wisdom. Ask Him to bring godly men and women into your life to help you in your walk. And above all, don't live to please men, but rather, live to please your father. Even when we fail, He still loves us. This makes me want to love Him more...and makes it easier to give up the things that hurt me. Grace is simply the power and desire to do His will. So ask Him for it...lots of it!
1. Accept Jesus as the Answer to your sin and know that you are totally incapable of saving yourself. Acknowledge the fact that you are a sinner. He is the only one who can change your heart--you can't. Ask Him and He will. Romans 110: 9-10 says "...if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." Be aware, also, that if you believe you are already saved but still can't seem to overcome this sin, then perhaps you aren't saved at all! Romans 6:1-2 says, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?"
2. Accept responsibility for your sin and renounce all the works of Satan. You have been deceived by Satan and yourself. No one else is responsible for the choices you make! You are! You are responsible for every thought, action, word, emotion, attitude, response, or deed you choose to walk in. You were born a sinner--not a homosexual, alcoholic, over-eater, etc. You need to humble yourself before God. After all, it is God and others who are responsible for any success you have ever had--or ever will have. Stand against the spirit of pride, "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
3. Acknowledge the need for help in your sin and commit yourself to the Truth of god's Word at any cost. Obey the truth and not your natural inclinations. You cannot overcome this alone. It is when we acknowledge our weakness and cry out to God that we gain strength—His strength! You must join yourself to other believers who are willing to love you enough to be honest with you when they see you hurting yourself. And don't fall into the trap that says you can only be ministered to by those who have overcome what you are desiring to overcome. You just need to surround yourself with brothers and sisters who are seeking after God. Make yourself accountable to:
• The Holy Spirit.
• The Word of God.
• Your parents.
• A local church body that believes the Word of God..
Give those in authority over you the freedom to hold you accountable for every thought, action, word, emotion, attitude, or response. And remember, accountability is up to you, not the ones you are accountable to. Ask others, especially your parents, what they see in your life that needs changing. And remember--Jesus loves you deeply--deeply enough to be honest with you. Throughout Scripture God revealed His vision for the lives of men through their parents. Be like Jesus to His Father and say, "Not my will but Yours be done." By honoring your parents in this way, you will be honoring God. By turning your heart back to your earthly father you will find greater intimacy with your heavenly Father. Stop seeking your own way and put an end to rebellion. Remember God's heart is always turned towards you. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." (Hebrews 10: 233-25) Remember, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
4. Be Filled with the Spirit to overcome your sin and affirm your position in Christ and confirm that you are a child of God. This is the most important step you can take day by day – moment by moment. The Holy Spirit was sent as our Helper. You cannot make it alone. Even when people aren't available He is! And He longs to talk with you and lead you. He speaks constantly to our hearts if we'll only listen. It is the Holy Spirit who knows us the way out of temptation. It is the Holy Spirit who alerts us to spiritual danger. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us discernment. It is the Holy Spirit who comforts us. Develop your relationship with Him. It is the only way you will survive! Ephesians 5: 18-21 says "...be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ." Remind yourself daily that you are a new creation and that your old self was crucified and buried with Christ. Know that who you are now is someone totally new--you are a child of God!
5. Renew your mind to destroy your sin and turn all rebellion into obedience. God's Word is foundational and infallible. Trust His Word! Memorize His Word. Meditate on it. Pray it. Sing it. Ask god to replace your old thoughts and attitudes with His thoughts and attitudes. Sin begins in your mind. Rule over your thoughts through the power of Jesus and you will know His victory. Through meditation on His Word you can know His will and have your mind renewed at the same time! Through His Word and by His Spirit, He will lead you daily to gain and maintain a clear conscience. How would you like to walk free from the weight of condemnation and guilt? It is possible! Wonderfully possible through the Word of God! (By the way, one of the names God calls Jesus is "The Word of God!" Think about that!).
"I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." --Romans 12:1-2
6. Praise the Lord to release the victory over sin. "And they overcame him (the enemy) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death." (Revelation 12:11) Declare what God has done for you! Declare what He is doing for you! Declare what He is going to do for and in you! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Exalting God overcomes the enemy and temptation. Worship lifts our countenance and fills us with hope. Praising God brings us face to face with the very presence of Almighty God! Intimacy meets needs and fills voids. If you are tired of rejection, cultivate an intimate relationship with the Lord (who would never reject you) through worship and praise. Praise has been a vehicle God has used in my own life time and time again to encourage and strengthen me--in the darkest of times. Try it! You'll like it! "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary..." (Psalm 107:1-2)
7. Recognize the real battle and who the real author of your sin is. Confess your specific sins of the flesh and regain the ground you gave up to Satan. People are not the problem. Satan is. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12) Jesus has won the victory for us. All we need to do is resist Satan and he will flee from us. God's Word says so! Remind Satan Whom you belong to and take the authority over him that Jesus has given you. "Therefore, take up the full armor of god, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm." (Ephesians 6:13)
What is the Armor of God?
• Gird your loins with the Truth. (God's Word).
• Put on the Breastplate of Righteousness (Who you are in Jesus).
• Shod your feet with the Gospel of Peace (Walk in confidence sharing what He has done for you).
• Take up the Shield of Faith (He is always with you).
• Put on the Helmet of Salvation (You are redeemed).
• Take up the Sword of the Spirit (the Word of God - use it on Satan!).
Above all else, bind the spirit of self-pity which acts as a gatekeeper and cover for the stronghold of Sodomy--and put on the attitude of joyfulness. Constantly ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with the joy. Joy doesn't depend on your circumstances. Joy is the spontaneous enthusiasm of your spirit when your soul is in communion with the Lord.
Realize that you have been lied to. Ask God to reveal His truth to you and rid your life of worldly wisdom (seeing life from man's point of view) for the wisdom of God (seeing life from God's point of view). Each lie you believe is like a defensible position the enemy has in your life. God calls this a stronghold. If you have allowed Satan to have a stronghold in your life you need to remember this: "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;" (2 Corinthians 3:5)
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mightily through God to the pulling down of strongholds;). Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
As God reveals the lies of Satan you have believed, simply put off the lie and put on the truth - the Word of God.
8. Recognize and remove all bitterness and then confess how you have wronged others. Bitterness is unforgiveness. It is holding others captive in our hearts. It is brought on by thinking we deserve better treatment or preferential treatment. The truth is this: if we got what we deserved we would get death and hell. Bitterness is sin. Confess it! Acknowledge it! Yield all your rights to God and claim the blood of Jesus as full cleansing for your sin. A good thing to do to overcome the stronghold of bitterness is to gain a clear conscience by forgiving those who have offended you in any way and then by seeking the forgiveness of those you have offended. As long as you harbor and hide unforgiveness in your heart, Satan will torment you continually day and night. Read Matthew 18:21-35 and you'll see!
9. Acknowledge the iniquities of your forefathers. Iniquity is simply willfulness--"Not Thy will, Lord, but MINE be done." God's Word tells us that we can be affected by the iniquities (willfulness) of our forefathers for three to four generations before us! Even though we can be affected by them we are not guilty of their iniquity--just our own! We need to renounce every "familiar" or "family" spirit, each willful attitude and confess our weakness to God. As we confess our weakness to Him, He gives us the grace to overcome! Grace is simply the power and desire to do His will. "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." (II Corinthians 12:9) When we are weak, HE is strong!
10. Rededicate your body to the Lord. If you have used your body for evil purposes (to fulfill the lusts of your flesh), you need to rededicate your body as God's holy temple - and then purpose to use it for His glory and not your own. In this way you will be a living sacrifice to God for His glory. "Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are." (I Corinthians 3:16-17)
There is hope. There is a way out and He is Jesus. Cry out to Him and trust Him to bring the necessary people into your life. He is so faithful. I Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it."
If you are in need of further counsel or ministry, please call or write. We realize we can't be everywhere at once, but at the same time, perhaps we can help put you in contact with someone in your area who could be available to you for ministry. You can also contact the Restored Hope Network of Ministries.
Dennis Jernigan has answered the call to the body of Christ. His desire is to lead others into a deeper understanding of God's love for them, and show how to nurture and maintain an intimate relationship with the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit through the salvation of Jesus Christ. Dennis and his wife Melinda, along with their nine children, live on a farm in rural Oklahoma.
Shepherd's Heart Music, Inc.
*Mansion Builder - Words and Music: (Annie Herring Copyright © 1978 by Latter Rain Music. all rights controlled and administered by The Sparrow Corporation, PO box 2120, Chatsworth, CA 91311. All rights reserved. International Copyright Secured. Used by Permission.
This Testimony used by permission Shepherd’s Heart Music.
Copyright © 1989 Dennis Jernigan – Shepherd’s Heart Music, Inc.
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