To say 2016 was a year of change for me would be quite the understatement. However, as my great friends at Elevation Church have declared through song…Nothing Is Wasted.
Here are some lessons I learned…and my hope is you will learn them as well, but through reading them here and not experiencing them personally.
#1 - There Are Consequences For Sin.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Galatians 6:7
I had a secret.
I knew it was wrong.
At first I thought I could control it; however, it wound up controlling me.
Jesus Christ paid for my sin; however, there are still consequences involved.
My prayer is if there is anyone reading this who may be wrestling with sin - get help ASAP, the longer you wait, the deeper the roots of sin get down inside of you, and the longer it takes to work through the consequences involved.
#2 - Jesus Paid For My Sin.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:1
There are no words to describe the level of guilt and shame I have experienced. There are nights when I can literally feel regret in every fiber of my being.
However, in this season I have realized “Amazing Grace” is way more than a great song, but rather something that is more real to me than ever before.
Jesus Christ knew every stupid, foolish, sinful thing I would ever do—and He saved me, called me and blessed me anyway.
If you are someone who has wrestled with your past - I can promise you the grace of God covers all sin and allows us to live in freedom from what we’ve done - but also from having to repeat the same cycle over and over.
As John Newton, the author of "Amazing Grace" once said:
“Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”
#3 - Asking For Help Is A Sign Of Strength, Not Weakness
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
I lied to myself.
I told myself people would not understand.
I told myself I was the only one who had ever gone through this.
I told myself to stay silent, and that by doing so everything would somehow get magically better (as I typed that sentence I realize how ridiculous it sounds…but…that’s what deception does, takes something ridiculous and convinces us that it is reality.)
I was in trouble - and I needed help.
If you are in the middle of a storm, the greatest thing you could do is ask for help. And, when you do - be 100% honest, don’t say you have a little issue when it’s something that may be dominating my life.
In my experience, I can only receive help to the level I am willing to confess to.
#4 - Going Through A Fire Reveals Who Your True Friends Are.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
There are people who I thought were mere acquaintances who have been way more supportive than I could have ever imagined. Their consistency in calling, texting and inviting me to be a part of their lives has been one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced.
On the other hand there are those I thought would always stand with me who have gone silent, and in some cases, a tad hostile. I’m not angry with them. I understand they experienced a level of hurt in this as well. They thought I was someone, and when the curtain was pulled back and my struggle was revealed they could not handle it.
I get it. "
However, getting mad at them does me absolutely no good. And James, the half brother of Jesus said in James 1:20, "because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." (BTW...allowing anger to consume us is the greatest way to ensure Jesus and His love is not consuming us!)
However, this has taught me how essential community is for hope, health and healing. Who we choose to surround ourselves with will ultimately determine our success in life.
#5 - The Best Really Is Yet To Come
For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again… Proverbs 24:16
I alluded to this earlier, but God was NOT surprised by this, He knew it was going to happen, and yet He allowed me to start NewSpring Church and experience 16 of the best years of my life there.
I fell—hard—and when I did I had a choice, I could cry and complain - however, doing so would not have changed my situation at all!
As I look in the Scripture people fell and got back up...
The more I stare into the passages of Scripture the more clear it is to me the ONLY hero in the Bible is Jesus, everyone else was as jacked up as we are—and yet He still used them to do great things, and if He did it then He can do it again.
Unfortunately, I will not be returning to NewSpring as the senior pastor. And while that is not what I wanted and breaks my heart, I believe everything is in the Lord’s hands - and He has a greater purpose for me than I could ever imagine.
I decided to NOT play the victim card very early in all of this because…while people will feel sorry for a victim they will never follow one. Do I wish things would have turned out differently with the church? Yep - but…at the end of the day I chose to pour the drinks, I chose to hide my sin—and had I made different choices I would not be in this position.
However, today I’ve been sober for over 110 days. I’ve launched a consulting business that has taken off. In 2017 I will begin preaching again in churches that would actually want to have me. And I’m healthier emotionally, physically and spiritually than I’ve ever been.
If you feel like all hell has broken loose in your life and there is no hope for the future—you are wrong. No matter how bad your situation may be, Jesus really can take your mess and turn it into a miracle. It will take time, things won’t get better overnight - but it’s my prayer you will allow Christ to put hope in your heart so you can step into the healing He has for your life.