I Confess… (Marsha)

by Marsha Fisher on July 23, 2014

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confessional1In the past, I’ve been overly critical of my Catholic friends who attend confession. I had solid biblical evidence that confession to a priest was unnecessary, as there was “but one mediator between God and man, and that was Christ.” I argued that the practice of confession discouraged believers from interacting directly with God themselves. I also pointed out that a priest, a sinner himself, was incapable of “forgiving” anyone of sin.

However, what I didn’t understand at the time was the tremendous value of confessing to another believer. Only recently have I come to discover the value of confession and it is this: Confession powerfully diminishes the hold certain sins have over me.

It amazes me that I have been a follower of Jesus for some 20 years, a church attender my entire life and a leader in the church for over 10 years, and I am only now learning about this tremendous resource in the battle against sin. When our sin is hidden and secret, it grows like mold in a dark and damp basement. But when we confess it out loud, to another believer, it shrinks back. I’m learning that when sin is exposed to the light of the gospel and brought out into a safe arena of public confession, its power is weakened significantly.

Additionally, when I am authentic with other believers, when I let them see me for who I am and what I am, I quit playing the game. You know the game – get dressed up for church, slap on a smile and pretend to be perfect. The reality is, I’m a mess. My family is a mess. God has cleaned us up quite a bit, but there’s more than few rough edges. When we start with this basic understanding of one another, confession is no longer scary. In fact, it becomes healing.

I long to be a part of a community of believers who can be authentic, confessional and redemptive.

In the last few weeks, I have found myself confessing my sin to my husband and a close friend. (It’s a real switch for me because I use to be all about confessing other people’s sins.) I’ll be honest with you…it’s not fun. In the beginning it is embarrassing. I don’t like people to know my hidden struggles. But in the end, there is a tremendous lifting of my soul following confession. There is a victory won in the act of confessing itself.

In addition, being confessional invites Christians I trust to speak truth into my life. Over the last few weeks, participating in confession has resulted in the exposure of lies, the challenge to memorize related Scriptures and the beginning of accountability.

Now, don’t get my wrong. I’m not planning to start confessing to my entire small group over coffee. You won’t see me standing up in front of my church congregation any time soon with something I need to get off my chest. Nor will I put myself in an awkward position of confessing to a new believer or to someone of the opposite sex, other than my husband or dad. But in the right time, in the right place with the right person, confession has a new place in my life and I am already reaping the benefits.

If confession is not a part of your Christian walk, let me encourage you to give it a try. In addition to coming to the Lord to ask forgiveness, share your struggle with another believer. Ask this friend to pray with you and for you in this area. Ask them to speak God’s truth and wisdom into your situation. Will you be more forgiven than if you had confessed to the Lord alone? Of course not! Will the power of the sin simply disappear – probably not. But I think you will notice a difference and experience for yourself, perhaps for the very first time, the power of confession.


fisherEmail:  marsha@puritycoaching.com 

She offers help to spouses of sexual strugglers through phone coaching and online spouses’ support groups.

Check out our site:  www.puritycoaching.com

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Outside the Crash Zone

by Marsha Fisher on July 16, 2014

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breaking waveOur family spent a day at the beach recently.  Even though we only live two hours away from the coast, we don’t get down there very often and my boys are still getting use to playing in the ocean.

My nine year old was comfortable going out about waist deep in the surf, which happened to be right where the waves were breaking.   He was getting tossed around pretty good as wave after wave crashed around him.   I tried several times to convince him to come further out in the water where I was swimming.  Even though the water was a little deeper, it was much smoother because I was well past where the waves were breaking.

As much as he wanted to come, my oldest couldn’t force himself to head out for deeper water.  First of all, it meant that he had to walk towards the swelling waves in order to get past them.  If that weren’t frightening enough, he also had to trust me that he could still touch the bottom if he came out to where I was swimming.  He weighed the risks and decided to stay put.   I even offered to come pick him up and carry him to the deeper water.  No go.

So instead of enjoying smoother water and riding on top of the waves, my boy stayed where he was comfortable and got battered left and right as waves tossed him around.  It didn’t take long for him to get exhausted, not to mention water-logged.

There have been times in my life where the waves were crashing all around me.  The path to calmer waters was in Christ himself (obeying His Word and trusting His ways were better than my ways.) Instead, I chose to stay in the crash zone.

In hindsight, I can clearly see that I was too afraid to let go of control in order to follow Jesus into deeper but calmer water.  Because of that, I needlessly got tossed around by fear and circumstances to the point of exhaustion.  Looking back, what a waste of energy trying to live life in my own strength.

As our marriage approaches the two year point of recovery, I realize that Jeff and I are no longer living in the crash zone.  We spent the first 11 years of our marriage tossed around by the strongholds in our lives.  It has only been in the last year that we have trusted Christ to lead us into more peaceful water.

It wasn’t an easy transition.  We had to choose living in truth over living a comfortable lie.  We had to honestly deal with difficult issues that we preferred to not even acknowledge.  We had to let go of control, including letting go of unhealthy patterns of communication and intimacy. We had to be willing to move out of our comfort zone towards where Christ wanted to take us.

I feel our marriage is much deeper now and certainly more peaceful.  Even so, there are times when we are still tempted to revert back to our hold habits and ways. However, we have made a commitment to one another to keep our eyes on Christ, who is always leading us to deeper and more peaceful water.


fisherEmail:  marsha@puritycoaching.com 

She offers help to spouses of sexual strugglers through phone coaching and online spouses’ support groups.

Check out our site:  www.puritycoaching.com

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Mercy in The Garden

by Jeff Fisher on July 9, 2014

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adam-eve-stainedglassThere is a tender moment in the Garden of Eden that I discovered six years ago.  Of course, it has been there all along, but I didn’t realize its significance until my world fell apart.  In Genesis 3:7 we find Adam and Eve sewing together leaves to hide their nakedness.  They had broken God’s command concerning the tree of life and now they are feeling vulnerable and exposed.  The Lord finds them hiding in His garden and the first confession of sin is recorded.

It is a somber moment when the Lord explains to Adam and Eve the consequences of their sin.   Their actions would result in physical pain and emotional struggle for the rest of their lives.  Not only that, but it would be passed on to their children as well.

But then, in the midst of that painful accounting of their sin, Genesis 3:21 reveals God doing something totally unexpected: “He made them garments and clothed them.”

Although Adam and Eve would have to experience many of the consequences of their sin, they were not going to have to walk in shame. The very One they sinned against was now sewing them clothes to cover their embarrassment.  I wonder how they felt, watching the Creator of heaven and earth sewing their garments?  Sewing by hand isn’t quick.  As God mended, did they sit in silence?

When Jeff’s pornography addiction was uncovered, our family experienced many painful consequences.  We had to step away from ministry, a loss of both our passion and our livelihood.  The financial consequences began to mount as we tried to sell our home in a depressed market, find new jobs in a down economy and relocate to a new state.

But even though our world was crumbling, I could clearly see God’s hand of provision.  In the previous year the Lord had built up our savings account in unexpected ways.  We had assumed this money was intended to help in the transition to full-time church planting.  God knew otherwise.  He was sewing together our own set of garments to provide security in the midst of our upcoming crisis.  He knew that our world was about to be turned upside down.  Yet, rather than let us experience the full consequences, he demonstrated his tender mercy.

Over the last year, Jeff and I have seen His tender mercies time and time again. When a friend calls to see how we are doing, when a job offer is made, when a new opportunity arises…we know that the Lord doesn’t treat us as we deserve but in light of His mercy and grace.  Jeff and I recognize that from our mess, He is sewing new life.

“…and yet our God, you have punished us less than our sins have deserved…” Ezra 9:13


fisherEmail:  marsha@puritycoaching.com 

She offers help to spouses of sexual strugglers through phone coaching and online spouses’ support groups.

Check out our site:  www.puritycoaching.com

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When Sinners Say I Do – Saying Goodbye

by Jeff Fisher on July 4, 2014

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Chapter 10 is not only the most moving chapter of Dave Harvey’s Book, When Sinners Say I Do, it may be one of the most moving chapters I’ve read ever.  Jeff and I are in our late 30s, and to be honest, we don’t think a lot about growing old together.  But the final chapter “When Sinners Say  Goodbye” Harvey reminded me that spouses play an important role in taking care of one another as we approach death.  We serve one another all throughout marriage, but probably not as much as we do when we approach our final years in this world.

Listen to this amazing truth Harvey shares: We have the joy of preparing one another for heaven, even as earth makes its claim on the body.  We enjoy front row seats to the inner renewal, even as we see the container waiting away. 

Later in the chapter he says:  A maturing marriage is one that sees all the way to the finish line and beyond.  We have the honor of nurturing and celebrating the inner renewal while also caring for the outer decay.

It is both practical and loving that God would appoint spouses to assist one another as they age.  It gives the term helpmate entirely new meaning, doesn’t it?

Harvey ends this chapter and the entire book reminding us of the spiritual purpose of marriage – how it points us towards the beautiful reality of our reunion with Christ.

Marsha’s Book Review of When Sinners Say I Do

When Sinners Say I Do – “Reflecting Christ in Marriage”
When Sinners Say I Do – “Marital Conflict”
When Sinners Say I Do – “Self Righteousness in Marriage”
When Sinners Say I Do – “The Marital Surgeon”
When Sinners Say I Do – “Saying Goodbye”


fisherEmail:  marsha@puritycoaching.com 

She offers help to spouses of sexual strugglers through phone coaching and online spouses’ support groups.

Check out our site:  www.puritycoaching.com

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When Sinners Say I Do – The Marital Surgeon

by Marsha Fisher on July 3, 2014

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Marsha continues her review of When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey.

Throughout When Sinners Say I Do you will find a lot of practical helps, intertwined with biblical truth and testimonials of couples honest enought to admit that marriage can be challenging.  But Chapter Seven “The Surgeon, The Scalpel and The Spouse in the Sin” is the jackpot.  That chapter alone is worth the price of the entire book.  It should be required reading for all newlyweds.  I should read it everyday.

Harvey starts with the unique relationship between King David and the prophet Nathan.  He points out that just as God used a sinner like Nathan to pursue another sinner like David, sometimes God will use one sinful spouse to confront sin in another sinful spouse.  This is another one of those spiritual purposes of marriage.

He then goes back to Matthew 7:3-5, the verse regarding the log and the speck.  Harvey says that dealing with my own sin log removal “positions me for speck-removal” in my spouse.

Let’s just stop right there and let that soak in. Wow!  Matthew 7:3-5 is not saying that I am never to address sin in my spouse.  It is saying I should be focused on dealing with me own sin first and foremost, because there will come a time when God will use me to address sin in my spouse.  But I have to come at it with the ability to clearly discern the situation, as well as an attitude of humility and grace, which is more likely to happen if I’ve been focusing mostly on my own junk.

It gets even better.  Harvey counsels spouses to approach speck removal with the same degree of skill and carefulness as a surgeon would approach an operation.  Here are his tips:

  1. A good surgeon displays wisdom. Nathan chose the right time, right place and right way to address David.
  2. A surgeon has permission to do surgery. Marriages grow sour when spouses engage in surgery casually, carelessly or without informed consent.
  3. Never cut blindly.  Prepare for surgery. Have I prayed for God’s wisdom and acknowledged my need for his help in serving my spouse?
  4. Are my observations based upon patterns of behavior or merely a single incident?
  5. Am I content to address one area of concern, even if I’m aware of several?
  6. Am I committed to making an incision no larger than absolutely necessary?
  7. Am I prepared to humbly offer an observation rather than an assumption or conclusion?
  8. Is my goal to promote God’s truth or my preference?
  9. A surgeon displays courage. He is willing to make the cut and then willing to stick with the patient until the end.
  10. Your words and manner of delivery must be designed to encourage repentance.

What is your motivation in bringing a sinful behavior or attitue to the attention of your spouse?  Our motivation should be to help him reconnect to God.  Your spouse’s sin is not first about you.  It may affect you, but the most important thing it reveals is his relationship with God.

As I look over that list I just shake my head knowing that for the first 13 years of my marriage I’ve been doing this part all wrong.  My goal was always to be right, never to encourage repentance.  And the only preparation I did was to build up my own case, never to ask God to help me say the right thing in the right way at the right time with the right motive.

I’m so thankful for this chapter, because I know it is going to have a significant impact on my marriage from this point forward.

Next week, I’ll finish up my review of Harvey’s book with my thoughts on his final chapter ”When Sinners Say Goodbye.”

Marsha’s Book Review of When Sinners Say I Do

When Sinners Say I Do – “Reflecting Christ in Marriage”
When Sinners Say I Do – “Marital Conflict”
When Sinners Say I Do – “Self Righteousness in Marriage”
When Sinners Say I Do – “The Marital Surgeon”
When Sinners Say I Do – “Saying Goodbye”


fisherEmail:  marsha@puritycoaching.com 

She offers help to spouses of sexual strugglers through phone coaching and online spouses’ support groups.

Check out our site:  www.puritycoaching.com

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When Sinners Say I Do – Self Righteousness in Marriage

July 2, 2014

Several chapters in Dave Harvey’s book “When Sinners Say I Do” hit close to home.  But the section on self-righteousness was actually painful for me to read.  I realized several years ago that my struggle with self-righteousness was intense.  But when I took Harvey’s self-righteousness test, it was like I was seeing the depth of [...]

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When Sinners Say I Do – Marital Conflict

July 1, 2014

I’m continuing to highlight some of my favorite themes in Dave Harvey’s incredible book “When Sinners Say I Do.”  Last week, I shared Harvey’s main premise that it is my sin nature that is at the root of all my marriage conflict.  In light of this truth, Harvey offers some great suggestions on how to [...]

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When Sinners Say I Do – Reflecting Christ in Marriage

June 30, 2014

I’m so excited to share some excerpts from Dave Harvey’s book “When Sinners Say I Do”.  I ordered this book based on the intriguing title, but knew nothing of the author.  Before I had even finished the first chapter, I knew it was going to have a major impact on my marriage.  Like “Sacred Marriage” [...]

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Saying Goodbye to Our Church Family

June 25, 2014

There was lot of discussion regarding what we should tell our church family about Jeff’s resignation.    Our denominational leaders didn’t want us to share anything about Jeff’s pornography addiction, preferring we request a leave of absence for “family issues” and then later report that we would not be coming back.  Others felt we should be completely transparent [...]

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A New Ministry

June 18, 2014

I loved my old ministry.  My husband and I were living in Buffalo, NY, involved in church planting.  It was exhilarating.  We were watching people come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Our church was growing and our congregation was greatly burdened for our community. Then in an instance, it was gone.  My husband ‘s moral failure left [...]

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Understanding Pornography’s Grip on My Husband

June 11, 2014

Married To a Sex Addict Not all men who like to view pornography are sex addicts.  But as I learned more about sexual addiction, I learned that Jeff demonstrated all the characteristics of an addict. He would turn to pornography when he felt lonely or unloved.  It made him feel, although only briefly, like someone important. He [...]

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