Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Judy Starr learned from experience not to trust her heart.

Judy Starr: When your heart is so tied to another individual, you will do anything that it takes to be with them, regardless of how stupid and foolish your decisions become.

Leslie Basham: It’s Thursday, February 2nd, and you’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

It’s been said that the way to know whether you’ve made an idol in your heart is when you’re either willing to sin in order to get it or sin because you can’t have it. Today we’ll hear how Judy Starr turned from the idol she had made in her heart, a relationship with a man who wasn’t her husband. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: There’s no question, is there, that we live in a fallen, messed up world. According to the book of James, we are all sinners. We all sin in many ways, but I am so thankful (aren’t you?) that God is a God of grace, that He is a redeeming God, and that He has the power to bring hope into the most desperate and hopeless situations!

We’ve been talking this week with Judy Starr about a situation she found herself in. She didn’t just find herself in this situation; she walked into a situation that ended up being very dangerous.

But as I’m looking at you, Judy, I am so thankful that God is a redeeming God and that you are restored to your relationship with Stottler. We’re talking about that process. But I know that you’re really thankful that He is a God who can make all things new.

Judy Starr: Oh, I praise God every day for His grace over my life.

Nancy: So, thank you for sharing your story, not only here with our Revive Our Hearts listeners, but also you’ve done a great job of sharing not only the story but the Word of God as it bears on this situation in a book that you’ve written called The Enticement of the Forbidden.

Many of our listeners need to order a copy of that book immediately because they are in a situation where they need to be rescued, and this book may be one of the life preservers God sends their way.

One of the life preservers God used in your life was our mutual friend, Holly Elliff, and Holly is here joining us in this conversation. Holly, thank you for being the kind of friend that every woman needs.

Holly Elliff: Well, I have had women in my life as well who have done that for me.

Nancy: Every woman needs it, and you were the person that Judy called. She was a happily married woman. She was in full-time ministry. She had this attraction to a man who was not her husband. He was the captain of a boat.

But you got off the phone with that captain, and you didn’t know if you were going to stay with him in that boat in the Caribbean or go back home to California to your husband, Stottler.

You were one confused, deceived, messed up, foolish woman at that point, by your own story. And then you picked up the phone, as we shared in the last session, and you called your friend, Holly Elliff. We’ve been talking about some mega dose of truth that Holly gave to you in that conversation.

I am struck by one of the most important things she said to you, and that had to do with the importance of vows. Why did that have such an impact on you?

Judy: To me, my word is a bond. If I say something, I’m going to keep it, because if my word can’t be trusted then I can’t be trusted. I had completely forgotten that I had made a promise to God and to my husband. In the confusion and the hardness of my heart in pursuing this relationship, it was like it just didn’t even exist.

Nancy: And what was that promise?

Judy: My promise, of course, was to remain faithful to my husband and to the Lord the rest of my life.

Holly: Actually, many years before as a much younger woman, Judy, because she had struggled with immorality in her past, made a vow before God, wrote it out, dated it, signed it, and gave it to me. I put it in my files.

When Judy and I had this conversation on the phone, I was able to remind her, “Judy, do you remember the letter I have in my files where you said before God, ‘I will never again involve myself in any type of immoral activity’?”

Now, the interesting thing was that Judy began to argue with me at that point about whether or not that applied to her circumstance now.

Judy: That’s true. It’s amazing how deceived and hardened your heart can become when you get out of the Lord’s will. As you said, Holly, black looks white and white looks black.

Holly: James 1:13 really begins that progression where we give way to lust and lust gives way to sin and, ultimately, that sin, as it grows and is conceived and consumes us, leads us to death. Judy found herself caught in that progression.

Nancy: Yet it was that reminder of that earlier vow and her marriage vow that God used, Judy, in your life, to bring you to an important point of decision.

Judy: It is. That was the key that really turned the tide for me. When we hung up from that conversation I knew that the decision had been made, because I had already made it. So I hung up, knowing that even though it felt as though my heart was going to be ripped in two, that I had to follow through what I had promised before the Lord and return home and leave the captain for good.

Holly: That’s such a critical thing, because I talk with women all the time, Judy, who are dealing with that point of decision, and deciding whether or not to turn to repentance or whether to stay with where their hearts are telling them to go. What happened after you hung up the phone? What are some things that actually took you back down that road toward Stottler?

Judy: Well, remembering the vows was a key issue for me. But also, I think in our conversation you had reminded me of what Satan does in our lives and how Satan deceives us, and that he disguises himself as an angel of light, as the Bible tells us.

Yet everything he desires for us is to steal, kill, and destroy our lives. I began to think, “Why would I follow something that its end path is just to destroy my life? His whole purpose is to destroy my life.”

When I began to think about God’s purposes for my life, even though they hurt at the time and my emotions were not there . . . I didn’t want to leave; I didn’t want to leave the captain; I didn’t want to return to my husband. But God’s purposes always turn out the best.

Everything that He desires for me is for my good and for His glory. So it was totally a decision of my will against my emotions to do what I knew was right and what would end up right in my life.

Nancy: I think that’s an important truth we need to remember. Whenever the pathway of obedience makes us go against what our emotions may be screaming to us to do . . . and that is always possible if you’re a child of God—you can choose to obey God regardless of what your emotions are saying.

Sometimes my emotions are saying, “I can’t do what’s right.” But the truth is—and the truth is what sets us free—we can choose to obey God. You did the right thing by heading home to your husband and cutting off that relationship with the captain for good. It was over.

Judy: When you get into a situation of infidelity, whether it’s emotional or physical, it is a real process to come out of. It’s like getting rid of an addiction in your life. When your heart is so tied to another individual, you will do anything that it takes to be with them regardless of how stupid and foolish your decisions become. So I knew that I had to cut off all contact forever, completely, with the captain, because to continue that would just feed that addiction.

Nancy: Now, you get back to California. Your husband has been pretty much oblivious to the fact that this was going on?

Judy: I called him from the Caribbean and told him that I was coming home and just a little bit of what had happened. When I got home I revealed my heart to him and told him where I was emotionally because I knew I needed to establish honesty in our relationship.

He was very surprised and very hurt, and we cried and prayed and cried some more. Yet I was committed to do whatever it took to rebuild that relationship.

One of the first things that that meant was restoring my relationship with the Lord, because to make the right decisions towards Stottler and our marriage I had to once again have the power of the Holy Spirit working within a heart that was again softened to the Lord and to His Spirit.

Nancy: Now, Judy, some people are going to say it can be more damaging to tell the truth than to just let the past be the past.

Judy: If I think I’ve gotten away with something in the past, I’m far more likely to try it again in the future because no one knew about it in the past. But once I revealed what I did to Stottler, he now knows of my predisposition toward this type of temptation. He’s very aware of it now. If I begin spending time with or seem attracted to another man, his antennae go up to it, and I appreciate that.

Nancy: And let me say to a listener who’s saying, “Oh my goodness, there are things in my life, things in my past, things I’m involved in right now . . . I’m realizing I need to get honest with my husband. I’ve been deceiving. I’ve been covering up.”

Let me say this: Yes, you do need to get honest. But don’t turn off the radio, pick up the phone, and blurt out to your husband the first thing that comes to your mind. You need to get first with the Lord. Seek the Lord. Get honest with God. Repent before Him. Make sure that you have a broken heart over your sin. Ask the Lord’s forgiveness.

Then ask the Lord to give you wisdom and direction to know how and when and in what setting and with what words to express the truth to your husband. God has given you your husband to be a means of protection and prayer and encouragement and accountability for you in this area.

But you could do real damage to the relationship by just thoughtlessly going and blurting out, “I sinned in this way.” You may need to go to a mature Christian woman, your accountability partner, perhaps, and say, “I’ve not been honest with my mate in this area. Would you pray for me? Would you counsel me from God’s Word, what would be the best way to approach this?”

In some situations you may even need to take a godly third party with you to be there when the situation is discussed, depending on the nature of the situation.

So, I realize that we have maybe opened a can of worms here. Go to the Word and say, “Lord, I want to walk in truth. I want to be honest in my marriage. Now would You show me how to do that in a way that will bring You glory?”

Now, as you’re honest with your mate, if you haven’t been in the past, you need to expect that there may well be some immediate consequences that are hard. Judy really had hurt Stottler, and Stottler was grieved. He was heartbroken. He had to wrestle with his own anger.

Your husband may or may not be in a position spiritually where he can immediately grant you full and complete forgiveness and mercy. You need to leave that to the Lord and trust the Lord to work in his heart as you come before him a broken, repentant sinner wanting to be restored to fellowship with God and with your husband.

But by God’s grace, I believe you can walk through this process and in time, remember God’s Word says, Luke chapter 12 [:2-3], All things will come to the light some day. So, the question is, do you want it to come out at the Judgment, or do you want to be the one to bring it into the light so that you can get it dealt with and behind you? By God’s grace you can do that, and that will be a key to restoring the intimacy and the oneness in your marriage.

Leslie Basham: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss with Judy Starr and Holly Elliff, pointing out the truth of Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sin will not prosper, but the one who confesses and forsakes his sin will find compassion.”

If you’d like to hear more of Judy Starr’s story, it’s told in her book, The Enticement of the Forbidden. In it Judy describes honestly the struggles and temptations she faced and how she turned from that back to her husband. You’ll find it challenging, sobering, and very helpful in your own marriage. Find out how to order it at our website. There’s also a personal study and discussion guide to go with it.

And don’t forget about what we’re offering to you during the month of February: Nancy’s book Lies Women Believe and its newly released companion workbook. When you order the set for a minimum donation of $25, we’ll include a free bookmark. Go to www.ReviveOurHearts.com for more information. If you prefer to call, our phone number is 1-800-569-5959.

Tomorrow we’ll hear the steps Judy began to take to rebuild her marriage. You won’t want to miss it. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you back tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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