Sunday, March 08, 2009

Partnering for Holiness--A Cautionary Tale & a Request

This evening I'm traveling to the Chicago area for school, and thus I wrote the following e-mail to several of the men in our church who are close to me.

Dear Brothers,

Last night Kim and I had dinner with a young couple who told us a tragic story. As part of their preparation for marriage they went through pre-marital counseling with the pastor of their church. He helped them think through the fact that marriage is a sacred covenant before God, and all that implies. At the same time this deceiver was sleeping with a woman who was not his wife, and who in fact had come to him for counseling. And to make matters worse, when his sin became public—which, by the way, happened before this couple’s counseling was done—the so-called pastor persuaded a portion of the church to side with him over his wife and in this way he split the church in half.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to apologize to these precious young souls. I want to break that “pastor’s” nose. I have a friend who was hired by a church about a year after the former “pastor” had done much the same thing, and several years into his ministry there he told me that he was still spending 50% of his time helping people through the pain of what happened. When men who are supposed to shepherd the flock of God violate the trust He has given them by indulging their own flesh, especially sexually, they cause so much pain and break so much trust that it’s hard to find words to describe—and that’s not to mention the damage they do to the Name of Jesus. Of course, the grace of Jesus is greater than any sin, but his grace doesn’t undo all of the damage.

Brothers, you already know this about me but I want you to hear me say it again with as much passion as you’ve ever heard me say anything—I WILL NOT let the devil destroy my integrity and marriage and ministry like that. I WILL strive to put myself in a place, every day of my life, where I’m made strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. I WILL put on the armor of God that I may be able to withstand the schemes of the devil, and having done all, to stand. I WILL ask godly brothers like you to lock arms with me and fight against the enemies of our souls. I WILL gladly and willingly answer to godly brothers like you about how I spend my time when I’m in a distant city all alone.

I have never been tempted to break my covenant with Kimmy because she’s as close to me as my very soul and I love her with all of my heart. As I’ve told her many times, I can’t even think “Charlie” without thinking “Kimmy.” We are one in Christ and I’m deeply and happily committed to her. But the devil is strong and he is out to destroy men like me and ministries like ours, so I WILL NOT put my guard down!

So, Brothers, I’m writing to you for two reasons: (1) I want to ask you to pray with me, that the Lord will be my delight and my strength and my shield, that I will love him with everything in me and thus thwart the plans of our enemies, and (2) to give you permission to call or poke or prod or question or do anything you feel led to do in order to spur me on or hold me accountable.

I’ll be spending the next four nights at the Extended Stay America in Vernon Hills, Ill. I don’t have the room number yet, but the number to the hotel is 847-821-7101. And of course, you all have my cell number. I’ll be attending classes from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and then I’ll have the evenings free. My plan for the evenings is to study for the next day of class, pray, share Christ with someone each day if I can, and rest.

I am so grateful for you, my band of brothers! How I long to shout the praises of God with you in heaven when God does in fact crush Satan under our feet (Rom 16:20)!

For the glory of Jesus & the good of his people,
Pastor Charlie

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