Free Indeed

Jul 13, 2016

“Porn, drinking, lust, money, power — these are the things I used to strive after,” said Scott Phillips, a Houston’s First member whose marriage to Lauren, his wife of two years, nearly ended just one year after tying the knot. Not until Lauren left him did Scott come to terms with his dishonesty, not just of things he had withheld from Lauren, but also the lies he believed about himself.

“When I was dating Lauren I wasn’t open with her about some things I had done — was still doing — until after our wedding reception,” said Scott. “I thought I had given my life to Christ, though I continued to seek my own self-satisfaction and the cheap comfort of my own chains.”

God began wooing Scott early in his relationship with Lauren, but not having been a churchgoer while growing up, his understanding of a relationship with Christ meant working at changing his behavior. “Morally, I tried to be a better person, but each time I failed,” he said. “I worked hard to change, though my sin only showed itself in new and different ways.”

Although the couple had been on the verge of separation for a while, Scott’s world came crashing down when Lauren actually packed a bag and left their home a year into their marriage. He asked her to return and assured her that he should be the one to move out. “I remember vividly the day I checked into the Airbnb, feeling completely hopeless and despondent,” said Scott. “My life as I had known it was completely ripped from my arms; the woman I loved so dearly cut off from my life. I cried to Jesus to save my life and my marriage — and that’s where He met me and entered my heart.”

“Christ has liberated us to be free.
Stand firm then and don’t submit
again to a yoke of slavery.”
Galatians 5:1

Lauren’s initial hurt at the things Scott told her right after their wedding began simmering in her heart and mind. The couple went to counseling, but as Lauren learned more details about Scott’s behavior, she struggled with disillusionment, bitterness and unforgiveness. After Lauren drew a line in the sand by leaving home, God began working on Scott, transforming him into the godly man she believed she had married and working in her own heart to stop the cycle of hurt, sin and shame she had felt in her response to Scott’s betrayals.

Scott & Lauren Phillips“I was not being the sacred influence that Christ had called me to be,” said Lauren, “but rather a prosecutor who kept a record of all Scott’s wrongs, and ready to bring them up to support any current ‘case’ I had against him.”

Lauren could see how continually lashing out was causing her to become a bitter and cold 27-year-old. She wondered if true change and restoration were even possible in their marriage.

“We had been going to church and belonged to a Life Bible Study, but the true knowledge of Christ, the joy of pursuing Him wholeheartedly just wasn’t there in my heart,” said Scott. ”It wasn’t until our separation that Christ gave me a true vision of His intentions for my life, and my need for salvation. To save my marriage, Christ first needed to save me.”

Completely helpless to “fix” their problems, Scott sought God for healing and answers to the despair that had characterized his relationship with Lauren. By seeking truth in God’s Word, prayer, and spending time with mentors, Scott discovered that a good marriage was a by-product of his own relationship with Christ.

Scott began a serious pursuit of the Lord, and He began revealing how his behavior was destroying him as well as Lauren, the person he loved most on earth. Scott’s mind was being renewed, which expanded his understanding and appreciation of salvation and its ensuing blessings: the security of eternal life, peace in his heart and Christ’s acceptance of him. For Scott, salvation translated into freedom from seeking acceptance and self-worth from others, the ability to recognize the lies of the enemy, and restored relationships — beginning with his marriage.

“Now our marriage is no longer based on having my needs met, but rather, being in covenant with God,” said Scott. “I’m committed to meeting Lauren’s needs — to protecting and nurturing her as together we seek to obey and live for Christ.”

Next Step

The Julianna Poor Memorial Counseling Center at Houston’s First provides biblically-based, clinically-competent, and Spirit-sensitive counseling for individuals, marriages, and families. Appointments are offered at The Loop, Cypress and Sienna Campuses and at the Faith Center-Spring Branch. Services are available for church members and non-members alike. Visit their page to learn more, or call 713.335.6462.

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