Below is the testimony I read at my graduation from Pure Life Ministries on May 29th, 2012. I am sharing it for 2 reasons. One, I believe there are plenty of people hurting like my wife and I had been hurting for years. My prayer is that this would give them hope and point them to the only true recovery: Jesus. Two, given the public nature of my past, from being dismissed from the church I pastored for disbelieving in hell to coming out as a sex addict, I felt it necesssary to be public about the change God has mercifully worked in my life. To Him be all the glory.
So before my testimony, I need to say this:
I repent of my past denial of hell or that a person could ever be eternally seperated from a holy God. I know now that I had no fear of God. Therefore, I had no knowledge of God (Prov. 1:7). I was a fool with an MDiv. I was wrong.
Marrow’s Chapel United Methodist Church was right to ask me to leave. It was God’s mercy. I am so sorry for the pain I caused them through that entire ordeal last year and I ask their forgiveness. I have wept many tears over the last many months, pleading with God that no one would be lost for my prideful and blind confident assertions (1 Tim. 1:7). Love doesn’t win. God wins. And it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a holy, living God (Heb. 10.31). I lost sight of this and God, in His mercy, granted me a chance to repent.
Like Paul, I count pretty much everything I said and did in the past as dross (Phil. 3:8) compared to the intimacy I now have with Jesus. I realize now that much if not all of what I did in the past was from a place of pride. A love of self more than God and a desire to build my own kingdom (blog readers, facebook friends, amens) rather than God’s Kingdom. God resists the proud, and I was most certainly being resisted. I still have a long way to go, but with God, all things are possible and I am cofident that the good work He has begun He will bring to completion.
The following is my testimony. I pray it blesses you or someone who needs hope and freedom today…
Psalm 119:71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
I wasn’t feeling that the night of July 7, 2011, when my wife told me we were finished for good after discovering evidence of yet another adulterous affair. A 20 year addiction to pornography, chat rooms and illicit phone calls led finally to this. Amy, a shell of the woman I married 8 years before had had enough. A month later I received divorce papers and a month after that I was sitting in divorce court, contemplating ending it all.
My addiction and adultery all took place while serving as a pastor and going through seminary. I knew a lot about God but did not know God. I had no fear of God, denying that such a loving God could ever send a soul to hell. But if there was ever a person to whom our Lord would say, “Depart from me, I never knew you,” it was most surely I.
I arrived at Pure Life Ministries on Nov. 3, 2011 for no other reason than wanting to escape my misery. Any place had to be better than the roach motel that had become my home for months. I told my friend who dropped me off that my highest hope for my stay here was that I would come away with at least 7 months sobriety under my belt – more than I had ever had in my adult life. Of course, “sobriety” at that time was a very low bar: no pornoagraphy or affairs. The idea that I could be free from lustful thoughts, fantasies or self-gratification not only seemed impossible but hilarious.
But God had so much more in store for me than sobriety. The person leading the Mercy Studies 3 days after my arrival said something that went into me. He said,
It is not God’s desire for me to be better, but new.
I so desperately wanted to be new! I was certain that either God would show Himself to be real to me here or my life was over.
One of several breakthroughs for me happened in late December when we were challenged to take seriously Charles Finney’s “Breaking Up the Fallow Ground” reading. I pressed in, and spent all of Wednesday writing out the many ways I have neglected God and sinned against He and others. I found myself prostrate, here in the chapel, crying out to God, undone by my own wickedness. I saw the cross for the first time as it truly is and wondered why on earth God would do that for such a wretch like me. I saw the price that Jesus paid not just for the world, but for Chad Holtz. And it cut me to the core.
As I repented I cried out to God for my wife, Amy. Her despair over our marriage and the 8 years of hurt I put her through left her clinically depressed, filled with anxiety and faithless. Watching her husband preach from the pulpit each week while being the only one who really knew me made her sick, and she told me one day that if God existed at all He never would have let her marry a monster like me. I pleaded with God to take from her all her pain and depression and unbelief and to cast it onto me. I deserve it all! I cried. Lord, if you do nothing else for me in this life let me bear her suffering! And in that moment Jesus whispered to me, “I already bore it.”
Jesus has done far more abundantly than I could think or imagine in this place. He saved me. I know today that I am free, redeemed, delivered, unchained. I know what it means to live at the cross and to walk in daily repentance. I know what it is to fear God and the joy of holiness. By God’s grace, what I thought 7 months ago was impossible and hilarious is now my testimony. The chains that bound me for decades are gone. The blood of Jesus has washed me clean! Hallelujah!
God has even seen fit to restore my dead marriage. He not only saved me, God saved Amy as well. Days of depression and anxiety are gone and her strength and joy is found in the Lord. In March she wrote me in only of her many letters to me:
I used to get so angry at women who said that one day I would look back on all of this and be grateful. But crazy as it may sound, I am so thankful for our many afflictions, Chad, because through them I have been brought closer to Christ.
Amy, through her faithful prayers with our kids, even led my daughter Sophie and son Maddox to accepting Jesus into their young hearts. My 5 beautiful kids are blossoming where 7 months ago there was only despair, fear and sadness.
I want to thank all the staff here for faithfully pointing me to Jesus. Thank you, Brother Ken. Because of your willingness to be less so that He can be more, I know that I am not leaving here dependent upon a counselor or a program but needy of Christ and His Word. I will also miss all of you guys who have become a second family to me. Thank you to my 5 wonderful children for helping mama out and for never giving up on your dad. I love you so much! And Brody, your prayer for a “real family” is answered. Amy, thank you for taking a risk and making that phone call that saved my life – you know the one. I love you and can’t wait to honor and cherish you all the days the Lord gives me. And finally, thank you Lord Jesus, for afflicting me so mercifully. I am eternally your servant.