June 29 was the 4th "anniversary" of Melina's death. She was my niece but more than that a dear friend and like a true sister to me. She too was a "Me Too". Sadly.
Our first book is dedicated to her and her story. As a way to celebrate her life I am offering free books to anyone that messages me or leaves me a number to call for an address to send books to them.
Are You Willing?: Sharing Our Greatest Treasure, Stories About loving All People With Grace, Mercy And Truth.
I decided to blog the content of The Elephant Gospel for anyone who wants to read it. (Below these paragraphs) I am hopeful it will help people discover a life of forgiveness, NO SHAME, recovery and the greatest love known to man through Christ Jesus, my Lord.
On Twitter account The Sound Cloud of the first chapters is also available free. Please share with those that you think might be helped. There are so many who have had abortions or abuse and are in recovery. Redemption is possible. I am a vessel of mercy and living proof of his living hope. In His Passion and Love,
Here is the first part of The Elephant Gospel Book:
The Elephant Gospel
Unshackled to Live the Secret of Hope
Information for Copyrights Page
© 2016 Deborah Sack “Saint”
Writing completed 9/2016 by Deborah Ann Sack “Saint” with input from her husband.
Edited by Karen Porter of Bold Vision Books and Lyndi Markus of Open World Communications.
To a precious friend, who happened to be my niece. Thank you for believing in me, this book, its message—and for the many talks we had about its contents. You prayed your heart out for me, encouraged me, and offered compassion and a shared understanding. I love you tons, more than I can express, and I miss you just as much. This book is for you, and for all others like us and the ones our stories will affect and have affected—our husbands, our children, our families, and others who have paid dearly for what was done to us and then what we suffered and did. May God redeem it all. I am praying our lives will impact many lives with the redemption Christ came to give. I dedicate my life, our stories, especially their disasters and fallouts to be messages of hope to the glory of God.
“For many in our high-paced world, despair is not a moment; it is a way of life.”
--Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God
Yet, the LORD makes known to me the path of life; in His presence there is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore.
--Psalm 16:11, ESV (paraphrased)
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Elephant in the Room
Part 1: An Elephant Shackled
Chapter 1 – My Story; An Elephant’s Story
Chapter 2 – The World Needs Hope
Chapter 3 – The Secret of Hope
Chapter 4 – The Hope of Forgiveness
Chapter 5 – Hope for Your Story
Part 2: Elephant Stampede
Chapter 6 – The Church Needs Hope
Chapter 7 – Gospel of Hope
Chapter 8 – Hope for the Cultural Collision
Part 3: Elephants on Parade
Chapter 9 – God’s Hope for Hopeless Stories
Chapter 10 – Covenant of Hope
Chapter 11 – Heralds of Hope
Chapter 12 – Audacious Hope
Conclusion: A Final Thought on Hope
Appendix: For Those Who Made the Decision to Abort
Special Prayer for the Heralds of Hope
The Elephant in the Room
There is an elephant in the room. Too large for the space it inhabits, it’s destroying its home from the inside out, crashing into mirrors and smashing into walls. Yet we usually don’t talk about it. We act like it doesn’t exist, though the damage persists and we find ourselves staring at it in hopelessness, wondering if we must deal with this forever, and alone.
Our elephants are our secrets, our secret sins, the ones we never mention. The things too shameful for us to say: things like sexual abuse, abortion, homosexuality, and addiction. In our culture, the elephants are the hot topics, sometimes used to bludgeon the church into silence even when Jesus would beckon us to take a righteous stand. Sometimes, if the church does take a stand and talk about the elephant, it still doesn’t usually know how to help the people affected and bring them to restoration.
These elephants often wear masks to try to look more appealing, but they can’t really hide. They’re still elephants, and they’re still in the room. If we leave the elephant masked, we run the risk of never again being free. We refuse to be honest with the facts of our story and where the secrets came from, whether in the church or on a personal level—and that’s how an elephant in the room becomes a controlling skeleton in the closet.
I can no longer live the charade. Pretending does not work, and it hinders the Gospel. In Sacred Secrets, Beth Moore states, “Secrets manifest.”
In the DVD of this study, she states,
“Our triumphs and our defeats erupt from our vaults.” What is vaulted in you is the seat of your success and failure, your triumphs and defeats. It is impacting and living itself out all over your life. That is what we have come to tend to. So much defeat is caught up in that vault. What I want to prove to you Scripturally is that every true success, every true Biblical success will come from that same vault. Right there in that secret place.”
Psalm 51. Our secrets taken to the Lord, get redeemed.
Jesus knows all of our secrets. There are no secrets with Him. He knows all about us and loves us completely. He does not want us in secrecy, shame, or condemnation and has done everything to bring blessing and redemption through forgiveness that comes by His sacrifice.
I want to be genuine, so I will no longer hide or pretend. I have faced the truth and been to the cross, and I have appropriated Christ’s work by faith. I have begun to live authentically and this is where I will unmask, taking off the old man, that skeleton of shame and disgrace I have worn or carried for so long and putting on the righteousness of Christ.
This book is my story of how the Gospel was first heralded to me and Christ became life to me. It is the story of how I began to herald, or share with others, what I have received.
Redemption in the Telling
Because I carried so much shame, initially it seemed impossible to write my story and apply the Gospel to it effectively. Shame robbed me, disconnecting me from the Gospel’s power. I began trying to make the Gospel work by my “good works” instead. I thought that if I tried harder, I would find hope. I never found hope or peace or joy because I was locked in shame by default—and habit. Shame became my identity, and it affected my relationships and every part of my life. I craved relief from myself—from trying to prove my value because I felt worthless. If you met me, you’d think I was self-assured and confident, which I used as a defense. I needed a deeper experience of God’s love and Christ’s cross.
It is God’s will for my story, all our stories, to be redeemed. In hearing mine, perhaps you will experience His story in a greater way. Perhaps you will gain insights and a greater grace understanding to apply to your story to bring redemption in a greater measure.
To herald the Gospel to the world more effectively, we must be sure we have embraced the love of God, know the Truth of God, and have discovered the secret of hope found in Him. This process begins with Christ’s covenant story and our personal story.
It continues with our being able to have true confidence in Christ’s story, knowing the elephants cannot trample us: accepting the truth of the Gospel and the need we have to herald it. Heralding the Gospel, both to ourselves and to others, is a vital step on our way to healing.
Through the Gospel Lens
As I began committing the truths of God Word to my heart by writing and processing my past through the Gospel lens and the Spirit’s work, the shame diminished more and more and the desire to share my story came through. My head knowledge is becoming heart functioning in Gospel living.
As one thinks in his heart so he is (Proverbs 23:7, NKJV).
Paul told us, “To live is Christ,” and Jesus told Peter, “strengthen the brethren.” Oh how wonderful if the Lord would work in us, me and you, and by His Spirit, teach us to live like these first apostles in the Book of Acts. We too could turn the world upside down with the Gospel!
Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the Gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, NET).
Work in Progress
I am a work in progress, and it’s been messy. I am learning to accept myself and my past in the light of God’s grace and truth. Religion, or a set of rules to follow based on our own works, doesn’t work. But the experience of the true Gospel based on the sacrificial death of Christ has opened my eyes to hope. Resurrection hope.
I have received God’s grace and mercy. Christ died to give me these unmerited favors. Though I received them in the past, at times I have poorly understood them and rarely applied their riches or utilized their gifts. Shame has hindered Christ’s forgiveness too long. I was deceived to think I could overcome shame by my own works.
The realization of my dependence on works has been intense. I realized how much I depended on my performance to make me righteous. I continue to process my feelings and abide more fully in Christ. Only Christ’s blood overcomes shame and all sin and brings the victory. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22, ESV.)
I want to use what I have learned from the Word and to live what it teaches and what I say I believe—and I want to share this process with you. Christ promises victory!
The process of breaking my silence and revealing my secrets as well as breaking out of legalistic religion has not been easy. It has been a slow kill inside of me. But in its death, new life has hope. I fully desire to overcome (Revelation 12:11), worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), and live a life of abundance (John 10:10; Ephesians 3:20).
The Elephant Gospel
We are greatly loved and intimately known. The creator of the universe loves and cares about us, individually and specifically. His love is more than words and sentiment. His unconditional love is backed by action, the giving of His life. He knows us fully—our inner thoughts, feelings, and our outer actions, including every good or bad thing we have ever thought, said or have done. And yet He loves us. His love is infinite and is unaffected by our past.
His love gives us hope.
The Elephant Gospel is what happens when we acknowledge the elephant in the room and take off our masks to recognize our brokenness and bondage. Then we begin to herald the message of Jesus Christ as it was meant to be heralded: first, with honesty and genuineness to ourselves; second, through the Body of Christ to the hurting and broken world. The saying goes that an elephant never forgets. It is ours, through the Gospel, never to forget the hope that was won for us on the cross. The Elephant Gospel is the story of the secret of our hope.
And my hope for this book is that, as I take off my own mask and discuss the elephant herd that has touched my life, my secrets now told will show the secret of hope, as I have discovered it, to you. I am learning how to depend only on Christ to deliver me and take my old self to the cross, leaving it there for good. No longer may it have a negative hold on me. The stronghold of shame is broken. My identity in Christ is secure.
I pray the finish to my life will make the enemy very sorry he ever messed with me. Hope from hopelessness.
LORD, in the Holy Spirit and with much assurance in power and in word may our gospel come forth (1 Thessalonians 1:5). May the focus be on Christ and His completed redemptive work accomplished on our behalf. Give us clear words of testimony about how Christ’s blood purchased salvation. Open the eyes of the unsaved so they may see the truth of how sin separates us from you. Thank you for grace for repentance and faith in Christ. Help us unmask the elephants through Christ’s work for salvation, not depending on our own works. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Part 1: The Elephant Shackled
Circus elephants are magnificent creatures. They parade underneath the colorful big top, amidst the antics of the clowns, the tricks of the acrobats, and the smells of cotton candy and popcorn. The circus elephant lives to entertain and amaze. But perhaps the most amazing thing is that an enormous elephant can be kept in line by just a shackle attached to a tiny stake in the ground: a stake the elephant could easily overpower and be free from. But why doesn’t it? Because the elephant was chained to that stake since its babyhood. It tried and tried throughout its young life to break free from that shackle, but it learned through hardship and struggle to see the stake as its master. Now, as a “well-adjusted adult,” the elephant believes it cannot get free, and doesn’t even try any longer.
When horrible things happen to us at a young age, shame tries to take over. Lies get entrenched and seem so true. Trusting in God’s love seems impossible—we more easily trust in counterfeits. Horrible things are bad enough on their own, but Satan takes them and exploits them for his own advantage, to kill, steal, and destroy, deceiving us into thinking God doesn’t love us. Just look at all these awful things that are happening to us, all the terrible things that we have done!
Shame becomes our chain, our stake, and we believe we can never escape. Sometimes it begins with things that are done to us, but often it continues with our own choices. Sometimes we choose hopelessness instead of hope.
At this stage in the journey of the Elephant Gospel, we may try to self-manage our sin by our works, say our sin is okay, or even parade it, pretending we feel no shame because it is easier to say we are not wrong than to admit we need to change. This elephant’s Gospel needs a confrontation with Christ’s death on the cross to truly find hope.
It is hard to imagine we could be capable of evil and then be deceived into thinking enough “goodness” would balance the scales. But this is the way I have lived without realizing it. As I give “the word of my testimony,” my story, please remember that if you were given my life, you too could have done the things I have done.
My Story; An Elephant’s Story
You will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21, KJV).
Sin is the second most powerful force in the universe, for it sent Jesus to the cross. Only one force is greater—the love of God.” --Billy Graham
“Knowing God without knowing my own wretchedness makes for pride. Knowing my own wretchedness without knowing God makes for despair. Knowing Jesus Christ strikes the balance because he shows us both. God and our own wretchedness. -- Blaise Pascal
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things. (Romans 8:32, ESV)
My Hopeless Story
When I was two and a half, neither my doctors nor my parents expected me to live.
I was severely ill with high fevers that brought on seizures, including the longest grand mal seizure my doctor had seen to date. Initially I was diagnosed with encephalitis. After many spinal taps, numerous shots, countless medications, and various tests in that intense time of hospitalization, the doctors told my parents that if I recovered from this infection in my brain, I may be mentally impaired or sustain other negative long-term effects.
The cause and diagnosis were never confirmed, but the after-effects were unpleasant: I grew fast and looked, acted, and felt different than I did before. The doctors said they thought the illness had affected my brain, growth, and possibly my cognition, though thankfully over time the effects seemed to stabilize. Nevertheless, in my childhood I suffered from these abnormalities, and other children teased me.
The Beginning of Abuse
I do not know when the sexual abuse started or when it stopped, but many of my earliest memories are sexual. I have no precise memories of this early abuse, but I have all the signs, feelings, and many “before-and-after scenes” that can be pieced together. Counselors see the clear signs of sexual abuse. I feel great shame. I have felt unlovable, defective and as though I do not belong. Not knowing why I feel what I feel or remembering the actual details of the abuse disturbs and haunts me.
Feeling abnormal, rejected, and unlovable has been a way of life from my earliest memories. These feelings led me to behave in unusual ways. My actions concerned my mother, and she took me to doctors when I was a preschooler to find out what was wrong with me. But in the early 1960s, symptoms of sexual abuse were not recognized and diagnosed as they are today. The doctor told my mom I would grow out of these behaviors.
I felt repeated shame and humiliation and confusion as my mother tried to help me grow out of these abnormal behaviors. I knew I wasn’t normal, but I did not understand how to become “normal.” I know now that my mom loved me, wanted to help me, and was doing all she knew to do. However, all I wanted then was feel more of her love and acceptance. I just felt disgusting and disgraced. I tried to be good, because I thought if I was good enough I would be loved. Yet I still saw myself as unlovably bad.
I lived with agonizing feelings of self-hatred and self-rejection. I got to the point that I was afraid to use the bathroom because I might touch myself and be dirty. This was my understanding as a preschooler. I remember wanting to die, even as early as five. I thought of drinking some of the weed killer or chemicals stored in the garage.
By about the age of six, many of the effects of the severe illness and abnormal behaviors had normalized, but my growth and a few disabilities continued to be problematic. I was very aware of how big I was and how concerned my parents were about it. I was also hyperactive with a few learning issues. It was not a good mix—to appear to be the oldest, yet be the youngest. It only accentuated the deficits. I was bigger and taller than my older siblings and all my classmates, and I felt awkward and out of place, even with my family and peers. I was treated like I was older than I was, but I couldn’t meet the expectations of my presumed age, so I felt shamed. I tried my best to behave and was an obedient child to the best of my ability.
Hints of Hope
Before I go on, I want to mention that there were stabilizing forces throughout my childhood, too.
I remember my dad holding me in his lap, saying, “You are my little girl,” and I felt his love and affection. Every night, my mother would kiss me goodnight and pray with me. “Sweet dreams,” she always told me. “I love you. God bless you.” Also, I felt loved by my siblings.
To provide for us during the early years, Daddy sometimes worked three jobs. He was at work during much of my preschool years, so most of the responsibility to raise us fell to my mom. Mom did her best to keep things organized and consistent, and she ran our household well. As I look back on it now, I admire her and what she accomplished.
My parents were married more than fifty years and did their best to live their faith before us. They worked hard to provide for us, were orderly and clean, and set good examples of a healthy lifestyle. We had a moral, upstanding family.
We attended church faithfully. Every Sunday and all Christian holidays, my family was at church and often at catechism. My first Holy Communion and Confirmation were highlights of my childhood. I did not understand how God was with me always, or that I needed a Savior and why, but I had heard and knew about Jesus, and I knew He had died on a cross. Sadly, my conclusion as to His extraordinary sacrifice was that I needed to be good to please God and receive His love.
Despite the challenges I faced personally, I can see evidence of God’s love and favor in my life. He gave me talents and abilities with extra measures of perseverance, persistence, motivation, and a willingness to work hard. These often accentuated the special gift of athleticism I have been privileged to possess and immensely enjoy. I am so thankful for these consistent stabilizing factors in my childhood.
When I was four or five years old, I was held down on the ground by a mentally unstable neighbor. He had me fully pinned and was on top of me with his hand over my mouth and nose, which blocked my airway. I was petrified. I could not breathe. Thankfully my protective two older siblings and our mother came to my rescue just in time, before anything worse happened.
The man said things to me while he held me down. I do not know his specific words. I was too young to fully understand them. I do know the impression they left on me: I was disgusting, worthless, and he wished I was dead. The effect this had on me seemed to confirm my worst fears. I believed these impressions to be the truth. On top of that, I felt guilty. I was in his parents’ yard, where my parents had forbidden me to go. I felt what happened was my fault.
I vowed to be more obedient and worthy of love. My focus and obsession worsened in trying to be good. Still I struggled to be still and quiet especially in school; because of my hyperactive tendencies, the doctor wanted to treat me with Ritalin™, a new drug. My parents didn’t want to risk it, given my medical history.
Looking for Love
In my late elementary years, I was sexually abused in a very traumatic and unusual way by someone my parents thought they could trust. I think the man was drunk when the abuse occurred, and it was only a one-time event. But even once was too much. I developed a wrong concept of love, and it impacted how I interacted with boys my age. I thought that if a boy wanted to touch me, I was accepted and it was love. What a lie I believed!
Before I was twelve, I invited the boys in the neighborhood to meet me at the fort, telling them they could do whatever they wanted to do. To this day I wond