Revive Our Hearts Radio

Transformation

Song: *"Amazing Grace"

Marcia Arnel: So many of my thought patterns, so much of the way I lived my life, my attitudes and actions have been set in one way.

Leslie Basham: Marcia Arnel's life was characterized by promiscuity, rebellion and drug and alcohol abuse.

Marcia Arnel: And when God came into my life, He had to change all of that.

Leslie Basham: Welcome to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, February 4.

Marcia Arnel: So much of my life had to be transformed and it was only by His power and His grace and He's continuing to do so even today.

Leslie Basham: Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Over the last week and a half, we've had the privilege of listening to a very special young woman tell a story of God's grace, grace that turns ashes to beauty and can restore and reconcile and put back pieces of our lives that seem hopelessly broken.

Marcia Arnel came out of a background of an extremely dysfunctional family, a history of sexual molestation, of domestic violence as she was growing up as a little girl in a home with an alcoholic father, a drug addicted dad and all the turmoil that this brought about in her young life and then ultimately choices that she made that were sinful choices in response to the ways that she had been sinned against.

And Marcia, it's been really a joy to have you share not just that part of the story but even more importantly, the grace of God that intervened in your life, how Christ came into your life, made you a new person overnight and yet the changes began to be worked out in a gradual and steady process of growth in your life.

And I have to say, God's made you a beautiful woman from the inside out and I'm so grateful for it. And then we've talked about issues of forgiveness toward those who had sinned against you and then taking the tough steps of seeking reconciliation with your dad and you shared with us yesterday how you came to seek his forgiveness for ways that you had rebelled against his authority and had shamed the family name.

Even though most people would say your dad was the one who should have been seeking forgiveness, you took the initiative to be reconciled. And you were willing as a new believer to pursue him, to pursue reconciliation and you shared the thrilling story of how not only did he forgive you, but he sought your forgiveness and then came not too long after that to trust Christ as his Savior.

Now in the process of God dealing with all these issues in your life, I've heard you share that there were a lot of things that you had been believing over all these years, prior to coming to Christ, that after you became a Christian, you realized a lot of these things were not true.

They were lies and you shared how there came a point when a ministry team from Life Action Ministries came to your church. You were a junior high school science teacher living in a small town, and to this little town came the Life Action Ministries team and much of the teaching during that two-week period of time, God used to help you identify some of these things that you had been believing that weren't true. What were some of the lies that God exposed and what were some of the truths that you began to realize?

Marcia Arnel: Well, first of all, some of the lies were the fact that I believed that I wasn't going to amount to anything, even though I was already teaching and had a career going for myself, I still thought someday I would be poor and living in poverty like I did as a child.

That I would, even possibly, marry a man that would be abusive and that I was trying to make a life for myself, in case there was that abusive situation, so I could get out and establish myself on my own.

And finally I had made a career so I would have that security so I was still trusting in the security of my career in case a marriage didn't work out. And I also thought that I could even possibly molest my own children.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What made you feel that way? Why did you have those fears?

Marcia Arnel: I think because the thoughts had run through my head because everyone had always said I'd marry someone like my dad.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So you assumed you were trapped in these habits and patterns and circumstances of your past and that you were doomed to live the rest of your life in those same kinds of circumstances. And God began to expose those thoughts and to show you that you were thinking things that weren't true.

Marcia Arnel: Definitely. He showed me that He had bigger plans for me than to be with an abusive husband, that He could change my thoughts by renewing my mind.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What do you mean by that? Renewing your mind.

Marcia Arnel: That the verse in Romans (12:2) where it says, "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Transformed. What does that word mean to you today?

Marcia Arnel: Well for me it means a lot because so many of my thoughts patterns, so much of the way I lived my life, my attitudes and actions had been set in one way and when God came into my life, He had to change all of that [for me] to be one of His children and to be a godly woman.

So much of my life had to be transformed. And it was only by His power and His grace, His mercy and His unconditional love, His friendship"¦I could just go on and on about how He's transformed me through His character. And He's continuing to do so even today.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And that verse says that we're transformed by the renewing of our minds. That means you had to learn to think in a different way, different thought patterns, different ways of thinking than what you had always thought before.

Marcia Arnel: That's right. And during the crusade when Life Action was there, I was challenged to have a quiet time with the Lord, to spend time with Him in His Word every single day. I began to do that and just began to grasp the truth that God had for me in His Word.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And how did God use the Word to begin to transform and renew your thinking?

Marcia Arnel: Some of the ways were that I was to give thanks in all things, not just some things--to go back and to be thankful for all that happened to me as a child, to realize that"¦

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Wait just stop there. I can hear somebody saying, "Be thankful for all that happened to you as a child. You have to be kidding. No way. How did you respond when you saw that kind of verse in Scripture, 'Give thanks in all things'"? [1 Thessalonians 5:18].

Marcia Arnel: For me, it was just learning part of God's sovereignty and trusting in Him, to know that He was going to work all things together for my good. And I have a choice to be either thankful for those things or to be bitter and ungrateful.

But it is the life that God's given me and to be thankful for those things and to rejoice in what He's going to make of that, even the opportunity to share here today is evidence of the things He's working out in my life and allowing me to minister to people that I never could have had I not gone through those things.

I don't understand why, necessarily, that I'm to be thankful or what it's going to do for me; but God commands me to be thankful and to have a grateful spirit and part of that is being grateful even for the past that I went through.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So did you actually come to the place where you could thank God for the parents you had?

Marcia Arnel: Definitely. As I became thankful for them, God showed me the life that they had chosen to live and the wrongness and sin of that and that's why I began to pray for their salvation.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: As you've shared your story, you've had other women approach you who are dealing with some similar issues but maybe haven't walked through the process that you have.

As you look at their lives and think about where you could have headed with your life, what do you think that can happen to a woman if, or might have happened to you, if you went the pathway of bitterness instead of the pathway of gratitude and thankfulness? How would that make a difference in a woman's life?

Marcia Arnel: The first thing that comes to mind is lack of joy, never really experiencing the joy that God wants to give us and the abundant life. Yes, we can live our life in Christ but to live an abundant life in Christ takes being thankful, forgiving, being open, honest, transparent, getting accountable. All those things have to come into play for me to walk in constant joy and rejoicing and a life abundant that Christ has given me.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You know I keep hearing the theme and the thread of God's grace in your life. I'm also thinking, Marcia, as we've been talking together of how your life pictures what it is that is the whole mission and purpose of Revive Our Hearts ministry; and that is, that we're calling women to experience freedom and fullness and fruitfulness in Christ--the freedom from past bondage, from past guilt, from shame, from being enslaved to habit patterns as you were to immorality and wrong ways of thinking.

God set you free by the power of His truth.

And there are women listening to us, this conversation, who need still to be set free by the truth of God's Word. And then God wanted you not only to be free, but to walk in fullness. And you just referenced the abundant life--that Christ came, not to just make you a survivor, but to fill you with the power of His Spirit and to give you fullness of joy.

Now I assume that doesn't mean there is no pain, there are no problems. And you and I have talked enough for me to know that this is very much a continuing process of growth and sanctification in your life.

And then you illustrate that last word "fruitfulness" because now, as you're allowing God to change you and to conform you into the image of Christ, God is making you fruitful. He's using you to minister grace and truth into lives of other women and young people who maybe still are where you were.

And God is taking the shame and the failure and the frustration and the wickedness of some aspects of the home in which you grew up and your own experiences, and now God is using those things as a platform for fruitfulness, for touching lives that perhaps I will never be able to touch.

And I think of woman who may be listening right now, and you're thinking, Well maybe I could get free from this past but certainly God could never use me. Let me say, "God can use you. And as you are willing, as Marcia has done, to live under the sovereignty and the authority and the will of God for your life, God can set you free from the very worst things that have happened and your past may actually become part of the life message that God gives you and enables to share His truth and His grace with others."

Leslie Basham: If you're ready to be set free from the pain of your past, would you pray with Nancy in just a minute and would you write to us. We pray for the needs of our listeners and if you're struggling with a particular issue, we'll pray for you.

You can write us at Revive Our Hearts or e-mail us. Just follow the instructions when you visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

When you visit our Web site, you can find a variety of resources to help you heal from sexual abuse. If you share that experience with Marcia, we hope you take a look at what we've made available.

You can also get a video of Nancy's teaching called Forgiven, Forgiving and Free. It will help you to look to the Word of God to find deliverance from bitterness and unforgiveness. Again our Web address is ReviveOurHearts.com.

You can also get more information by calling 1-800-569-5959.

We all agree that it's important to get dressed in the morning, but have you considered how important it is to dress your heart? We'll hear about that tomorrow. Now, let's pray with Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Father, thank You for this precious life and this new friend that You've brought into my life, for Marcia and the openness and the freedom, the sweetness of spirit that You've given to her. What a trophy she is of Your grace.

And, Lord, I want to lift up now some woman who is listening who is still in bondage to those old ways of thinking, still living with the bitterness, the anger, the unresolved issues, wishing judgment and vindication on those who have wronged her.

I just pray that, at this moment, right now, she would turn it all over to You, that she would release the anger, bitterness, the hurt, the pain and would find Your forgiveness, Your grace and Your mercy and would trust that You really can transform her life and by Your grace make her be free, a full and fruitful woman. For Jesus' sake I pray. Amen.

 

*John Newton, "Amazing Grace."

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministry.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

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