Lesson 24 - Question 10
The looking unto Jesus article link at the bottom of this page isn’t working. Thought I’d let someone know.
I didn't know this conversation was continuing past where I left it until the e-mail Mike just sent a bit ago. THIS IS AWESOME!
I love the Purity Bootcamp idea. I love that there will be a Leader's Guide in the works. I suspect lots of ministries could use this. I am going to recommend that Christian Service Brigade use this for their Counselors in Training, or maybe as a part of their leadership track.
Brothers and sisters, God is so incredible. I mean, I know that qualifies for the understatement of the decade, but it's so true.
I was scheduled to speak on Thursday. On Christmas Day I came down with a stomach bug. I didn't eat anything for about 24 hours. I couldn't move much. Fever, aches, and...well...other unpleasantness. I didn't go to work Wednesday or Thursday. I told the organizer I didn't know if I'd be able to speak on Thursday. I still wasn't very strong. He responded by telling me he found a replacement for me, but would it be more likely I'd be available to speak on Friday, instead? Yes, I said. It would be more likely. But I was tired. Thursday night, I wanted to tell him that I just couldn't do it. I was exhausted, I was ill-prepared. But I felt the topic was an important one. I've noticed that young people like to talk about movies, games, etc. Everything but what really, truly matters. Everything but sin, confession of sin, and the gospel. They needed to hear what God has to say through His word. I needed to speak Friday. So I let him know I was up for it.
I ended up reading most of my presentation. I told the story of one of my students (with his enthusiastic permission) who has struggled with same sex attraction, and keeping it in the darkness by not confessing it allowed this sin to fester and grow. He eventually used an app on his phone to find anonymous encounters with other men. All while training to be a pastor. This student, who I called Bill to protect his identity in case others encountered his teaching down the road, confessed to no one. He lived in darkness, with self-loathing, suicidal thoughts, and hatred of his lies. But enslaved.
Then I talked about our motivations for hiding our sins being based on lies, and confession of our sin in the power of the gospel (as we have been forgiven, this confession is really just getting our sins and motivations into the light so that we may pray for one another, as in James 5.
(James 5:13–16 ESV) “(13) Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. (14) Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. (15) And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (16) Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
I told them that the Church was a hospital. The word "hospital" became a place for the sick, but the original meaning of the Old French word from the 12th century was "a shelter for the needy!" The church is a HOSPITAL, for those in need of God's grace...ministered to them through the gospel. After encouraging them to confess to one another, encouraging them to become people who others are comfortable confessing to, all in an effort to bear one another's burdens, and all of this because we HAVE BEEN CLEANSED by the blood of Christ, I finished telling "Bill's" story. This is what I told them:
Bill, after being absolutely disgusted with himself time and time again, after struggling with suicidal thoughts, a desire to be gone and end his torture, and after hating the lie he was living confessed his sin to a woman with whom he was friends. She recommended that he come to Setting Captives Free, where he got me as a mentor.
Funny story…I was driving to work one morning when I got a flat tire pretty close to my house. I flipped around and parked my car with the now-shredded tire in the drive way. I asked my wife if I could take the van, and she said yes. Almost halfway to work, I hit a pothole and got ANOTHER flat tire…on a DIFFERENT CAR. I texted my wife, who said, “God doesn’t want you at work today.” Well, while I was at the tire shop, getting the van tire replaced, I got an e-mail from Setting Captives free that someone really needed a mentor, and was really struggling. Normally, I’m at work and can’t respond to those. But today, it appeared that God absolutely wanted me to accept this student. That student was Bill.
Bill eventually confessed his sins to me, and the act of getting those sins into the light disgusted him even more than he was disgusted before. God used that, and my prayers for him to begin really changing his heart. He was confronted and comforted time and time again with the gospel truth that the sins he committed were already paid for by Christ. Christ, while Bill was still a despicable sinner, CAME DOWN from heaven, took Bill's ugly, God-hating sins on His own spotless, perfect shoulders, and paid the penalty that Bill never could. When Bill REMEMBERED this, and stopped forgetting, the gospel became bigger in Bill than his lust, selfishness, and idolatry. He was no longer just disgusted at his weakness. He began to hate his sin, and he began to desire righteousness. He installed accountability software on his phone, including GPS tracking so I could see where he was driving. (All of this was at his suggestion and was his desire.) He confessed to his elders, and those elders, recognizing that the Church is a hospital, a "shelter for the needy", welcomed him into their homes. Bill now spends most weekends in the homes of his elders, playing games, telling stories, reading the Word, praying. He has homes and family that he didn’t know about before he confessed his struggles, and the People of God reacted as the people of God should, and opened their arms to him.
And…in a stunning act of the healing power of the grace of God through the gospel, as of a few weeks ago, Bill is engaged to the young woman to whom he confessed. Turns out she’d had a thing for him for 13 years, and trusted that God would work as He willed. Lord willing, soon they will be married, and God is creating in him desires and longings that he didn’t think was possible. He doesn’t know whether his former sinful desires will be gone forever, but he does know that he’s living in the light, and trusts that whatever God brings his way, God is powerful enough to get him through it.
I know this is long, brothers and sisters, but I have one more thing to share. When I told about Bill's confession and freedom from bondage, there was weeping, and not just me. I could tell that the men there, young and old, were touched at Christ ministering to Bill through the gospel, and through the Church. In fact, at 12:15am this morning, the leader of the conference sent me a Facebook message:
I actually just got done talking to a young man who is a lot like "bill". He confessed his same-sex attraction. Fortunately he loves god's word and is seeking to understand it. I think the conversation went well.
Praise God, brothers and sisters. This ministry, and the glorious rays of grace emanating from it through the various ministries He has given ALL of us are reaching others, and as the gospel always does, it's producing brokenness in the hearts of His people. People are following in the footsteps of the Thessalonians, turning from their idols to serve the Living and True God! As we frequently say corporately in the liturgy of our church, "Hallelujah, the Lord gives freedom to the prisoners!"
May the Lord bless you as we hurtle toward the New Year in His grace!
Hello, brothers and sisters. Tomorrow, I have been asked to give a short message and workshop in the Leadership Advance seminar of Christian Service Brigade here in California. It’s for young men training to be leaders, not just in CSB, but also in life. The Leadership Advance topic this year is “Fear” and my topic is on “The Fear of Being Found Out”. My focus is on gospel truth as the weapon against the satanic lies of our fear of being found out, and confession of sin and gospel fellowship as our tactic in the fight.
It’s not about sexual sin, specifically, but it fits nicely with the ministry, so I will be mentioning Setting Captives Free. I hope everyone knows where my heart is when I say that I hope absolutely no one needs to look up SCF and needs the help provided here. But you know how it goes, brothers and sisters.
I would very much appreciate prayer.