I’ve wrestled over this for the past the three weeks. My mind has been filled with thoughts and questions: Do I share something or do I not? This is serious and needs to be addressed. What’s to be gained by going there Lance?
Three weeks ago it was brought to my attention that one of our pastors had been arrested on charges related to child pornography. I know that in some regions this is already well known and more information has been shared. This situation has been in the local news cycles and so it’s become a public matter. Because it’s an open investigation, I’m not going to share any further details at this time.
The last three weeks have been days of shock, sorrow and grief. Many across our body are working through similar feelings of shock, sorrow and grief. Several you have reached out in your grief and in your attempt to make sense of something that just doesn’t make sense. How does a colleague with decades of faithful and prolific ministry also have a dark secret like this?
I believe the Spirit wants to speak to us in moments like this. I believe the Spirit wants to comfort us and walk with us through our grief, but I believe the Spirit also wants to strengthen us and challenge us to examine our own hearts and lives as well.
Your personal sin always reaches farther than you think it will. The devil is a liar and he loves to deceive. He often deceives us by attempting to convince us that our sins don’t affect anyone else. This is particularly true when it comes to pornography. He works to deceive – “what you do in the privacy of your own home, on your own electronic devices, and in your own mind doesn’t hurt anyone else.” He’s a liar! There’s a family devastated right now. There are multiple churches and communities working through the painful implications of this news. There are hundreds of friends and colleagues who are grieving and in pain. Like shrapnel indiscriminately ripping through the human body, so sin and its devastating results wreaks havoc across multiple lives and communities
We all have the capacity to live double lives. We can give ourselves in service and in public ministry and help accomplish great things all-the-while we can harbor a secret life with dark and devastating consequences. Again, the devil is liar. He tries to convince us that the good of our lives far outweighs the bad or that the sacrifices we make more than make up for our minor indiscretions. There’s no need to judge a brother in a moment like this, but there is plenty of reason to look inward and ask “where am I prone to go off the rails?” Where am I susceptible to live a secret life? Where is it that I am most tempted to let sin rule over me and control areas of my life? Where am I resistant to obey the Lord in my life? Are you repenting and believing? Are you allowing the Spirit to examine your life and bring to light the sin that you don’t see or don’t want to see or acknowledge? Are you working out your own salvation?
The enemy loves to leverage the power of shame in secrecy and isolation. The devil loves to shame us. Over the years, I’ve walked with many brothers who have struggled with pornography. Without exception, the turning point in the battle was the moment they chose to bring what was secret into the light. The devil loves secrecy and isolation. “You can’t let anyone know about this, they’ll never understand and they’ll never forgive you. No one else struggles with this the way you do – you’re uniquely bad and uniquely hopeless.” These are the lies the enemy tells to keep us trapped in hopelessness and isolation.
Find some help. Reach out to someone. Bring your sins into the light and watch how sin loses its power over you. It can’t live in the light. 1 John 1:5-10 is a wonderful reminder about the power of God’s light. I wonder if too many of us try to confess our sins to the enemy – which only brings more accusation, rejection and shame. We’re supposed to confess our sins to Jesus! When we confess our sins to Jesus, we find the forgiveness that we so desperately need. There’s something incredibly powerful about being able to confess my sins to another brother – to bring into the light what I want to hide, that weakens the enemy’s efforts to bring shame, isolation and hopelessness.
Obviously, a lot of folks right now could use your earnest prayers as they walk through a very difficult time. Pray for our brother and his family and the churches that he’s served over the years. Pray for others that are impacted by this heartbreaking situation. Most of all, pray that the Holy Spirit would work in a powerful way in each of us. Invite Him to examine us, to shine His Holy light on our lives to reveal whatever needs to be dealt with so that we can experience the freedom that only comes through the forgiveness that Jesus brings. Perhaps you need to call a friend today and set up a time to talk about what He reveals that needs to be dealt with? Don’t fall for the enemy’s lies this time. Embrace the freedom of living in the light.
CGGC eNews—Vol. 13, No. 26