Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Judy Starr was in danger and didn’t realize it. She was falling for a man who wasn’t her husband. But God gave her presence of mind to call up her friend and accountability partner, Holly.

Holly Elliff: Judy at that moment was rationalizing ridiculous things in her mind. So as she called me, I really did talk to her like I would talk to one of my kids who was getting ready to step into quicksand.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, February 1st. If there’s ever been a situation where it’s better to learn from the mistakes of others, it has to be in area of marital infidelity. Our guests today, Judy Starr and Holly Elliff, want to help others learn how to avoid the pitfalls that Judy found herself slipping into. Nancy?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Judy and Holly, thank you so much for your honesty, your courage in being willing to deal with this admittedly tough subject but one that is so desperately needed, as we all know, among women today.

Holly: We agree.

Judy Starr: Every time I speak, it’s amazing the number of women that come up, women that you would never expect to have struggled with this issue.

Nancy: And that’s part of the point: Women that you never expect, and women listening who would say, “I would never expect to have a temptation myself, to become interested in or attracted to a man who’s not my husband.”

Now, Judy, for those who haven’t heard the past couple of conversations we’ve had together, let me just recap here. You were with your husband Stottler, involved in ministry; you were on the staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, had been for many years.

And in this particular four month period of your life, several years ago, as a happily married woman, in fulltime Christian work, you and your husband were out on a boat going from island to island in the Caribbean showing the Jesus Film, and you found yourself being drawn to the captain of that boat.

We talked in the last conversation about how all kinds of warning lights went off that you did not heed; you just kept going pell-mell, full speed ahead. You ended up with a strong emotional attraction that became an emotional affair, which actually can be in some ways as dangerous and deadly as physical adultery itself.

Judy: Absolutely. Emotional infidelity strikes at the very core of the marriage.

Nancy: And your husband was right there most of the time, on the boat; this was happening under his nose, and I want to hasten to say that God, by His grace, showed you a pathway out.

But first you actually came to a point where you were on the phone with the captain, you were off the boat for a little bit there, you were talking with the captain on a two-hour phone call; and at the end of that call, you weren’t sure whether you were going to go back to your husband or stay on that boat with that captain.

Judy: That’s right. I had declared to the captain how I felt about him and received a . . .

Nancy: Big mistake, by the way.

Judy: Huge mistake. Huge. I had received reciprocal interest from him, but only if I was unattached, meaning no longer married. So I had called him several weeks later and had a long conversation, and at that point I came to a decision where I knew I needed to decide either to stay with the captain in the Caribbean and leave my husband forever, or return forever.

Holly: At this point, I think Stottler had gone back to your home, and you were there for a week or so without Stottler?

Judy: That’s right. I was in the Caribbean by myself, Stottler was in California.

Holly: During that time, these feelings intensified even more and left you more open to potentially going down that path.

Judy: Oh, absolutely. Reason no longer existed in my mind; it was just purely emotion running rampant.

Nancy: You got off the phone, and you really didn’t know for sure what you were going to do.

Judy: I didn’t. I was pretty much leaning towards staying in the Caribbean at that point.

Nancy: Were you crazy? I mean, this sounds like Love Boat or something.

Judy: It’s true. When you allow your emotions to take over, you just do the craziest things.

Nancy: You know, I’ve said often, and I don’t mean to be crass in saying this, but sin makes us stupid.

Judy: It’s the truth.

Nancy: You have an incredible husband, and people maybe were thinking, “Oh she just didn’t have a very satisfying marriage, or her husband’s a jerk or something.” It’s not the case. I had dinner with you and your husband last night, and he is a precious man of God.

I have known him actually longer than you have, not as well nearly, but I’ve known Stottler for years and years, and he is a godly man. And in the foolishness of your own heart, you had gone down a pathway that led you to say you could give up that marriage, give up that ministry, to sail around the Caribbean with a tan sailor.

Judy: It’s crazy, isn’t it?

Holly: And Judy would be the first one to tell you that she kind of had a history, and I’ve known Judy since she was a college student. Because she’s a musician and a passionate person, which you can probably tell, her temperament itself made it easier for her, I think, to ignore some of those things that were going on—all those flashing lights, all the yellow flags, red flags, that she ignored.

But even if she’d had a more phlegmatic temperament instead of a more passionate temperament, she had gotten herself in a position where she was in a dangerous place. She had gone down a path, little by little, that had her in a position of great danger.

Nancy: Yet the thing you did next, Judy, after you hung up the phone with the captain, was probably the smartest thing you did in this whole process. You picked up the phone again and made another call.

Judy: I called Holly. Holly has been an accountability partner of mine for years and years, and as she said, has known me most of my adult life. So I called her, I think with just a sense of desperation and needing to hear the truth.

Nancy: Now, you didn’t have any doubt in your mind about what you would hear when you called Holly, did you?

Judy: Oh no. Holly’s very straightforward, no doubt about that.

Holly: It wasn’t that I was going to tell her anything that she didn’t already know in her heart and mind. Judy knew the Scripture. She knew the truth. It was not new truth. But she was desperate at that point and at a really critical moment in her life, and I think God’s gracious enabling, just in prompting her spirit to make one more phone call, was just throwing out the last rope.

Judy: That’s right. And it was God’s grace that I called, and worth its weight in gold for sure, because Holly gave me the truth that I needed to hear that really did turn the tide.

Nancy: Now before she gave you the truth, you had to be honest with her about what was going on.

Judy: That’s right, and I had told her a little bit earlier in the project that I had sensed this attraction, but I had not been honest with her at that point about the depth of my galloping emotions.

Holly: Well, I think at that point when Judy called—I remember it vividly because we were at a conference in San Antonio, and I remember sitting in that hotel room talking to Judy and thinking, “She is so blind to truth at this moment.” And I knew that Christ lived inside her heart.

I knew that she knew these truths, had taught these truths, and that Satan had set her up for a moment when she was drawn away. Scripture says when that happens, literally black becomes white, and we lose the ability to discern truth, right and wrong.

Judy at that moment was rationalizing ridiculous things in her mind. So as she called me, I really did talk to her like I would have talked to one of my kids who was getting ready to step into quicksand.

Judy: She did, and she told me just critical things that I needed to hear, the first being that repentance is a gift. I don’t know if I had even heard that before. But realizing that it’s a gift from the Lord and that I could make too many choices and at some point not be able to turn around . . .

The whole time I had rationalized to myself, “I’m in control, I can change anytime I want. I can always go back to my husband, there’s no problem.” Realizing that I was really close to turning the corner where I couldn’t make that choice anymore really frightened me.

Holly: I shared with Judy at that point the story of a young woman that we had dealt with a few years before who walked little by little around a corner, thinking she could always come back to her husband and her children. There was a moment in time when she went around a corner and no longer wanted to come back to her husband and her children.

I can remember saying to Judy, “Judy, you don’t know where that spot is, where your heart will be so drawn away that you do not care if you hear God’s voice.”

Judy: But I was really close to that, actually, which scared me to death at that point. She also mentioned to me that if my relationship with the captain did continue, and even if we chose to marry at some future date, what would that marriage be based on? It was a whole relationship based on deception and lies, and God can’t bless that kind of relationship.

Nancy: She was really just speaking truth into your deceived heart. And that’s what we need when our hearts our deceived—someone to love us enough to come by our side and say, “This is the truth. This is the truth.”

Holly: I think what was critical at this moment was that Judy had spent years developing the type of life, making herself accountable to some other women, and because of that it was a lifestyle, it was a habit in her life, when she was struggling with sin, to call somebody else that she knew was going to speak truth to her.

Nancy: So many women don’t have that kind of relationship.

Holly: So many women, number one, don’t get honest enough with themselves to be honest with somebody else. Or they don’t have those people in their lives who will speak biblical truth to them; not just giving advice, because my advice would have been worthless. But biblical advice, reminding that person of what God’s Word says, what is true in their circumstance.

Nancy: That’s why we need each other desperately in the body of Christ. You cannot be a Lone Ranger Christian and survive. The Scripture says in Hebrews chapter three that we need to be “exhorting one another daily . . . lest any of [our hearts] become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13, NKJV).

If you don’t have one or more godly, mature women like that in your life, (if you’re a woman, it should be a woman), then you are in a dangerous place. If you don’t have a godly friendship like that, you need one.

Even if you’re a mature believer and you’re not in any in danger of having an emotional affair right now, you need right now to put into your life the systems that will be there when you are vulnerable to sin. And if it’s not sexual, sin it will be some other kind of sin. That’s why we need each other.

So I’m just going to ask you, who is that person in your life? Who is that individual that you’re accountable to, your life is an open book, you will pick up the phone, you will call them when you know you need to hear a dose of the truth?

Leslie Basham: I like what Nancy Leigh DeMoss said, “You cannot be a Lone Ranger Christian and survive.” We’ve been seeing that illustrated in the life of Judy Starr, our guest on today’s program. Judy’s book about her own story and the lessons she’s learned is called The Enticement of the Forbidden. It tackles infidelity head on.

Judy also brings hope to those who have slipped; and if you desire purity of heart, we’d like to recommend Judy’s book to you. There’s a practical study and discussion guide that you can order as well. Find out more at our website.

Do you agree with this statement: “Every time I sin, I am choosing to believe a lie rather than the truth”? I think we saw today how Judy’s own heart was deceiving her and she found herself believing the lies.

Well, I’d like to let you know how you can get a copy of Nancy’s newly updated book, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free. All throughout the month of February, we’re making available to you the Lies Women Believe pack. This includes the book by Nancy, the companion discussion guide, and a bookmark. They’re yours when you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts of $25 or more. All you have to do is go to our website, www.ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1-800-569-5959.

Make a donation of at least $25 and ask for the Lies Women Believe pack. We’ll send it to you when you do. Thanks for investing your time with us today, and we trust you find it helpful in your quest to have your heart revived by God.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.