A Letter from the “Other” Woman

The following letter is the Prologue from Torn Asunder: Recovering from an Extramarital Affair (FYI don’t let the title cause you to wonder why I am reading it, this is a pastoral issue that I want to be well prepared for). It struck me just how dangerous and destructive our relationships can be without boundaries. I hope Pastors, laypeople, and anyone with an eye for ministry takes heed of this. Note that this woman was not insidious – she desired to see kids love the Lord! It’s not the odd-looking individuals we need to be careful of, but the darkness in our own hearts. This is the story of the “other” woman:

In my fervor to be the super-Christian wife and mother, I began to dominate many of the functions in our family, taking complete care of the car, bills, planning, scheduling, home repairs, and so on, while my husband, Tyler, got more and more passive in the face of my hyperactivity. His job entailed ten- to twelve-hour days, and he flexed his energy muscles there instead of at home. And why shouldn’t he? I was doing everything anyway.

In my flurry of activity I didn’t even notice that Tyler and I were growing more and more distant. I didn’t see us traveling in separate orbits. I didn’t even know that many of my needs weren’t being met—I just kept chasing my tail each day, falling into bed exhausted, trying to get enough energy up to run the treadmill the next day.

At church I began to get involved in the youth ministry and had some success there. The ministry was growing, lots of kids were getting saved and growing in their faith, and it was highly satisfying to me.

In that ministry I worked closely with the youth pastor, a man I’ll call Tim. I found myself enjoying Tim’s company more and more. I felt alive around him. He looked into my eyes when we spoke and gave me his full attention. He noticed when I wore my hair differently or wore a new outfit. We would talk and talk for hours about our goals in the ministry, better strategies for reaching out, and so on.

As I write this, my eyes are filled with tears because it’s all in ashes now. All the lofty goals, the dreams of ministry to young people, the joys and successes of that time are dashed upon the rocks. Tim has withdrawn from the ministry in shame and disgrace, and the church has suffered tremendously from the revelation that once of the pastors was sleeping with one of his volunteer staff members: me.

I remember the first time I felt my heart begin bonding to Tim’s. I shared some of the pain in my life with hi, especially in the family I grew up in. Tim listened intently and compassionately, and when I had poured out my heart, said to me, “I don’t want anyone to hurt you ever again. I want to protect you.” Those words electrified me, as buried emotions welled up in my heart.

I couldn’t get those words out of my mind for days. Tim would protect me—that thought felt good to my wounded soul. By the way I was acting at home—playing the take-charge “tough guy” role of super-mom and super-wife—my husband had no idea that I needed to be protected or that I even wanted that. I was sending him all the wrong signals.

Another attraction Tim had for me was his leadership. When I would tell him of a problem I was having, he would listen fully, then suggest a strategy to overcome it. In contrast, Tyler would listen partially and then respond, “Whatever you think is best.”

As my relationship with Tim heated up, I found my view of my husband changing. In hindsight I can see that Satan was getting his hooks into us and that we were seeking to justify our illicit feelings toward each other, but Tim and I started to list all the faults our respective spouses had. Instead of tolerating Tyler’s failings and normal shortcomings, I constantly harped on them—to Tim and in turn to Tyler by nagging him and complaining.

Tim and I tried to stop our ever-accelerating relationship, since we could see it was headed in the wrong direction, but we didn’t take drastic enough measures. We tried becoming accountable to another person, but it didn’t work. Our passions soon blinded us to our reason, and we fell into each other’s arms with abandon.

Somewhere along the way, we made an unconscious decision to live our lives completely by our emotions. I knew what would happen if we were ever caught—his career would probably crash and burn, and my marriage might go up in flames—but we both were convinced we’d never be discovered.

Then it happened. Tim’s spouse caught us red-handed. She gave us until the end of the week to decide what our course of action would be. Tyler was out of town that week on business, and I was petrified with fear and indecision.

Strangely enough, Tim’s wife was of the opinion that I should not tell my husband—I think she and Tim were afraid of his losing the pastorate. They thought we could seal off this unfortunate chapter in our lives and go on. I liked that idea, as I dreaded facing Tyler.

Tim and I talked by phone that week, and we decided that was our best option. We prayed together over the phone and said good-bye. In my heart, I really didn’t believe that Tim wouldn’t call me again. Wishful thinking, I guess.

But a week went by, and he didn’t call. I saw them in church that Sunday, arm in arm and laughing together with another couple. His wife was radiant, and Tim was obviously enjoying himself too. I was crushed. I couldn’t help myself—I just burst out crying right then and there.

I was deeply hurt. I felt as if Tim had used me, and now that it was over, his wife was number one in his life. In my state of distraught emotionality, I couldn’t stop thinking that just a few short days earlier I had been the most important woman in his life. Now she was back in “my” place, and it was over. I felt used. Worthless. Discarded.

At church in those moments of my despair, Tyler was, of course, puzzled, and we hurried home. I was totally undone—a basket case. Tyler wanted to know what I was so upset about, and I thought it would be more than I could handle to tell him right then.

But he persisted, and I thought it’d be worse if I continued the charade, so I blurted out my whole ugly story.

Tyler was floored. It was a long while before he could believe that my story was true. He walked around in a daze for weeks.

In the meantime, I was totally depressed and even considered suicide. Satan had a foothold in my life through my sinful actions, and he continually accused me: “How could you give yourself so freely to someone like Tim? He was so weak in his sin, too—and him a pastor! See, he never really loved you; he’s dumped you and gone back to his wife. You’re a fool.”

Needless to say, Tyler soon called Tim’s boss, our senior pastor, and the result was Tim’s resignation. The church board knew, but they tried to keep it from the congregation, terming the reasons “personal.” Personal indeed! Thinking that they could keep the secret was wishful thinking on their part.

Soon my friends began calling me to see if what they had heard was really true. Many of them unwittingly hurt me even further, and I still wonder why they thought it necessary to admonish me, a person who had sat under Bible teaching for years, that my actions were sinful. Didn’t they know that I knew what I’d done was wrong? I knew that all too well and wanted to end my life some days because of it.

The net result of my so-called friends’ reminding me of my failure was that I wanted my true friend Tim all the more. I felt as if nobody understood me except Tim. Tyler was trying to understand me, but he was pretty upset and it wasn’t easy. Besides, we had put quite a bit of water under the bridge by not communicating at a deep level, so that relationship didn’t provide much relief. I craved unconditional love and acceptance but found practically none.

Several months went by with no contact from Tim. He seemed to be settling back into his marriage, a distinct contrast from my situation. I continued to feel cut adrift, exposed, and ashamed.

Then one day, while Tyler was at work, Tim called me. He told me how much he missed me and how much he still loved me. He had only waited so long to call me, he said, because he wanted to wait until the dust settled a bit. He had taken a job in a fast-food restaurant, and his wife was starting to relax about monitoring him. He asked if we could see each other that afternoon. We got together all right.

In my state of burnout, I sucked up Tim’s renewed affections like a dry sponge. The flames of our affair immediately burst into a conflagration like a spark landing on dry kindling.

We carried on that way for months, with neither of our spouses suspecting. Tim told me that his love for me was so important that he’d risk anything. Even losing his ministry had been worth it, he said.

I felt more loved than ever and eagerly reentered my fantasy world: I began dreaming again of marrying Tim someday. Surely our spouses would find other people to remarry, I reasoned foolishly. In our renewed affair, my pain was temporarily salved, and I began to emerge from the emotional dumps.

Then we got caught again.

I felt like an alcoholic addicted to booze. Except my liquor was Tim.

Tyler leaped into action this time. He insisted that we change our phone number to an unlisted one and that we change churches. I agreed to the changes; we both knew it was my last chance to reform—it was now or never. Tyler and I really began to communicate now.

We had many late-night tearful sessions. I remember one night where I really “came clean” with him regarding my weak resolve and self-control. In tears I literally screamed to him, “Help me! I don’t know how to stop! I’m weak, and I don’t even know what’s right anymore. I’m blinded and can only see what I’m feeling right now. Please, Tyler, help me stop!” I wept and wept in Tyler’s arms that night. It was a turning point for us.

Tyler and I entered counseling and today are slowly but steadily recovering. God is teaching me some important lessons, such as leaning on Him and on finding my identity in Him, rather than on any man, whether my husband or a lover. Of course, my husband is my primary person to lean on, but even he is not my sole support. If he listens to my troubles less intently than another man might, that’s all right. My chief goal is to walk with God and with Tyler, letting my husband know of my needs but not desperately seeking to have them met in another man.

One of the ideas that helped push me back toward staying in my marriage was the reality factor: I read a very helpful book, The Divorce Decision¹ that spoke of the harsh realities of a broken marriage. Staggering financial costs, angry stepchildren, visitation hassles, ex-spouse headaches, blended families, haunting guilt, depression, and the like really do follow when you decide to divorce your spouse and go off with your partner. When I looked that squarely in the face, it sobered me up. I began to give up the fantasy world I dreamed of where Tim and I would go off and live happily ever after.

I could go on and on about the lessons I’ve learned from my behavior but will close by encouraging you, the reader, to delve into the material in this book. I pray that it will be a source of wisdom and blessing for you. It is helpful and practical for those who have experienced infidelity. But more than that, it’s a word to the wise for every married couple.

Guard you heart. Invest in those you are committed to. Establish healthy boundaries.

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Provers 14:12)

-Pastor Sean

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The Summer in Review

This morning we wrapped up our Summer men’s series with a time of sharing what we learned. There wasn’t much to the agenda other than saying what stood out to us throughout the Summer’s topics. Just for a review, here are the topics we covered:

June 3) Introduction
June 10) …Hell? (Revelation 20:11-15)
June 17) …those who have never heard? (Romans 1:18-25)
June 24) …evil? (Job 1:1-22)
July 1) …science and the Bible? (Genesis 1:1-31)
July 8) …homosexuality (Romans 1:21-32)
July 15) …contradictions in the Bible? (Exodus 32:7-14 and 1 Samuel 15:26-29)
July 22) …Islam? (John 1:1-18)
July 29) …the Law? (Acts 15:1-21)
Aug 5) …Mormonism? (Colossians 1:15-20)
Aug 12) …the Tribulation? (Revelation 6:1-17)

Summer StudyWe talked more in depth about Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses (even though they weren’t a topic) because those seem to be at the forefront of people’s minds. Mike Licona wrote a great primer on how to respond to these groups of people that come to your house. You can find it here.

Each of these topics have multiple books written to address those subjects, so I don’t claim to have answered each topic thoroughly. I hope your interest was piqued or that you now have a good enough grasp of the subject to begin a conversation with people around you. We need to be careful to not claim to be experts because then people will expect you to know more than you do. However, we can be confident that we know some things while hoping to learn more through dialogue.

The next Tuesday Morning study series will begin on Sept. 23 at 6:30am and we will be studying the prophet Samuel. See you there (or here)!

-Pastor Sean

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All Christians are Pentecostals

The day of Pentecost in the year that Jesus died is one of the most unusual and important events in the history of the world. For the Church, this day is the day. The day that we were given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The day that the Church began officially. The day that the Body of Christ congealed.

One of the central promises of the Messiah’s coming was that he would baptize with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8 as a fulfillment of Ezekiel 37:14). What happens on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2? The gift that Jesus promised would come in Acts 1:4-5 shows up!

We are in a Sunday series about Evangelism in the book of Acts. The goal is to study how the Apostles did evangelism so that we can become more comfortable and confident to follow in their footsteps in today’s world. This week was Pentecost.

PentecostFirst off, what is Pentecost? It is the Jewish festival that occurs 50 days after Passover. The Jewish Passover happens around April every year – close to the current day of Easter. Jewish was crucified on the Passover in either A.D. 30 or 33. So, 50 days later would be in June. The festival was to commemorate the end of the harvest and Jewish people from all over the Mediterranean would gather together to sacrifice to God from their harvest. That means that the amount of people around the temple at this time would have been huge.

So, when the Holy Spirit shows up the purpose is for the Jews to see the Christians as touched by God. The way this occurs is that the Christians begin to speak in the languages of people from all over the Roman Empire who are in attendance. It is important to remember at this time that the Christians mainly consist of people from Galilee and those who are unimpressive to the learned Pharisees. Acts 2 is clear that the only reason the believers were able to speak all these languages is because the Holy Spirit gives them the supernatural ability to do so.

However, Peter has to get up and answer critics who can’t understand so many people speaking at once. To some who hear the commotion it sounds like babbling because a large group of people are speaking many different languages. If a room full of 200 people or so all speak in different languages at once, when you walk in it would be rather overwhelming.

How does Peter respond to this accusations against Christians? He shares the gospel. In our effort to learn from Acts 2 so that we can better represent God to this world, we need to see that Peter was immediately ready to take advantage of this opportunity. The speech that he gives is honest (brutally so) and appropriate for the audience he addresses. He quotes the Old Testament explicitly 3 times, knowing that his audience would understand him. As Christians today, we need to recognize our audience. Know the people you are sharing the gospel with. What is their background? What needs to be emphasized about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection? How can you be persuasive in showing the person that you are sharing with their need for God? Peter does all of these things beautifully through the Power of the Spirit.

Another thing Peter does is allow the people a chance to respond. He didn’t do a forced baptism, but allowed the people to ask the important question, “What now?” He then emphasized repentance. This is crucial in coming to Jesus. One cannot claim the need for Jesus without confessing that their past sins offended God.

While Peter said things that could have offended some in the crowd, he shared what needed to be said. He was not afraid to be honest. He did not try to be offensive for the sake of it, but he knew that if he left out the accusation of murdering the Messiah then he would be running from the truth. That would deny the people the chance for salvation. We have to be willing to be open about what the good news truly is.

So, all Christians are Pentecostals because we all find our roots in the day of Pentecost. That is also a day that gives us insight into how we can respond to our neighbors with the good news that Christ gives them a chance to have a new relationship with God.

How will you share it this week?

-Pastor Sean

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the benefit of hunger

No, I’m not talking about physical starvation. I try to avoid utter callousness to significant global issues in the world.

Matthew 5:6 really dug deep into me this morning as I was spending time in prayer. I was running through a list of things to be thankful for that show how the Lord has been moving throughout my life (a really important exercise to do for the health of one’s soul) over the years. As I came down the list, venturing closer and closer to aspects of my life that I would not normally categorize as things to be thankful for, the periods of spiritual famine came to the forefront of my mind.

famine
Those times when I have been full of doubt and frustration with God for what he is doing or not doing in my life are what I consider periods of spiritual famine. These are times when doubts of the worst kind creep into my soul, generally accompanied by frustration that the Lord is not “doing more”. I have always hated and feared those times.

However, this morning I saw these times through the lens of Matthew 5:6 – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” You only know what hunger is if you an appetite for food. Appetite comes from a healthy desire to eat. There is nothing wrong with wanting to eat!

Only the living long for food. To be suffering in a famine means that you desire sustenance. To long for the righteousness of God in your life, longing for His Spirit to do marvelous things in your life, is a gift from God. This doesn’t make the hunger itself any easier but it shows its goodness. If you have never hungered for more from the Lord then that begs of the question of your spiritual state, doesn’t it?

So, to know the hunger for righteousness points to the greater blessing of God’s movement in my life to awaken that desire.

Only the living long for food. Life is a gift.

-Pastor Sean

 

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Want to Know the Day of Christ’s Return?

Christ is coming back!

The day of his return draws nearer everyday. Want to know the day or the hour? Look no further than Acts 1:7. Was my title a little misleading? Maybe. What’s a guy gotta do to get some hits around here?

Well, the reality is that we talked about the Tribulation this morning in the Morning Men’s Study at Kearney FBC. The passage that we spent most of our time in was Revelation 6:1-17. This passage is widely seen as the beginning of the period known as the Tribulation. All that term refers to is the period of time in which God pours out his wrath upon the Earth because of the people’s rebellion against him. Many people think it is a 7 year period because of Daniel 9:20-27. However, people are all over the map when it comes to how the period will unfold.

Left BehindMy aim this morning is not to get you to believe a particular chronology of events. Yes, I side more with the much-maligned Left Behind series than against it (though I don’t believe it gets everything right – especially its choice of Nicholas Cage as the lead actor in the upcoming movie adaptation….he pretty much always looks like he just missed the rapture). It is becoming increasingly trendy to hate on the idea that the Church will be removed from the Earth prior to the Tribulation (especially among the Young, Restless, and Reformed crowd). OK, enough with the parenthetical phrases.

My aim this morning is to get you to think about how the study of the end times should affect your daily life. Whatever you believe, the Bible teaches a few simple truths: 1) Jesus is coming back, 2) Those who refuse to repent won’t be spared from God’s wrath, and 3) God’s wrath is terrible. Those 3 truths should radically shape your life in the present. If you don’t walk away from the book of Revelation with the desire to see people know Christ then you miss the purpose of the book.

Don’t get bogged down in the details! Deep study of God’s word should occur, and trying to understand how passages fit together is important to shaping our lives. However, humility in seeing that there may be a bigger purpose in mind than arguing over whether Post-Trib, Pre-Mil puts one in the right “camp”.

How does the Word affect your life?

-Pastor Sean

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What is the book of Acts?

We are beginning a new series! After talking about the good and bad news of the Gospel for the last couple months, we are now moving into a study of the book of Acts with the purpose of studying how the Apostles shared the gospel. The hope is that when we study how the Apostles shared the gospel we will be encouraged to share it with others as well. The book of Acts constantly is showing the acts of the Apostles to be the sharing of the good news that Jesus has died and rose again.

So here’s a breakdown of the book:

Title: Acts of the Apostles. The Apostles are the same as the 12 disciples who spent significant time with Jesus with a few twists. Since Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus (and since he committed suicide), he’s out. Matthias replaces him. Also, Paul is added to the number after his conversion in Acts 9.

Purpose: To show the spread of the Church from Jerusalem to Rome under the authority of the Roman Empire.

Author: Luke the physician, who wrote the Gospel of Luke. He was a travelling companion of Paul.

Date: Written probably around 60 A.D., before Paul dies around 64 A.D. The book begins with Jesus ascending into heaven 40 days after he was crucified. So the book spans about 30 years, covering a lot of ground in the Church’s growth. This is important to keep in mind when you read the book.

Also, it is good to view the book of Acts as the history of the early Church, keeping in mind that the New Testament letters (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, 1 and 2 Peter, etc.) fit into the book as it goes along. So, as Paul travels as a missionary throughout Turkey and Greece he plants Churches. Then, he later wants to encourage Christians or correct problems in the churches. So, he writes them letters as he continues to travel throughout the Roman Empire. While some of the New Testament letters would have been written toward the end of Paul’s life after the scope of Acts while he was in jail in Rome, some were written during the span of Acts.

Hopefully that helps you to see that the New Testament letters are written in a time and place that gives them a little flavor. Nothing in the New Testament was written in a vacuum free of issues.

Join us each week whether in Sunday School at 9:30am or online as I post here to walk through the Church’s mission to bring the gospel to all people.

-Pastor Sean

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Is freedom really free?

What is freedom?

That seems to be a big question that we rarely discuss. As a “free” nation we trumpet this word as if everyone is speaking about the same thing. However, we can see in John 8:31-47 that Jesus speaks about one freedom that the Jews did not understand. In fact, Jesus makes it really clear that to choose freely to go against God denies the very freedom that you claim to seek.

slide-0We must be careful within Christianity to support a Biblical freedom – one that causes us to be enslaved to Christ (Romans 6). To idolize freedom to a point that you cannot see the need to serve Christ in sacrifice for your neighbor seems to miss the biblical definition of the term.

This may or may not help you in your request to be subservient to God in the political realm. However, it must be said that to deny someone the ability to choose anything within their heart does not necessarily go against “freedom”. You may be saving someone from slavery. The act of murder comes from a heart enslaved to anger rather than Christ. To outlaw murder has the purpose to prevent people from giving into that anger.

I think the debates over ethics in American culture revolves around the understanding of freedom that we have. How broadly or narrowly you define freedom will cause you to fall into certain camps. Either way, I hope that your desire to see people come to know Christ trumps your desire maintain your own freedom.

Any thoughts?

-Pastor Sean

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