by: Clayton King
The summer of 2007 will go down in history, at least for me. Not only was it the summer that Barry Bonds made the headlines with a baseball bat, but it was also the summer of “more bad news.” Let me explain.
I had much to be thankful for during those hot months of summer. Our camps were the best they have ever been, our staff was out of this world, hundreds of students were saved and thousands of dollars were raised for missions overseas. So there is much “good news” for which I am thankful. But I will always remember this summer by the recurring bad news that seemed to keep popping up. You are about to understand what I mean.
It started in May. While on the phone with a pastor, he casually mentioned the name of a prominent minister who had been caught in his second affair. With disbelief, I contacted a friend who knew this man, and he confirmed that it was true. The minister had another affair. He had stepped out of bounds and crossed a line that, in ministry, can ruin and disqualify you. He had preached to hundreds of thousands of students and adults for decades. My heart broke for him, his wife, and their children.
Ten days later as I was about to preach to 400 teenagers at a camp in Colorado, the youth pastor in charge told me about 2 more prominent Christian leaders who had fallen into sexual sin, both well-known artists whose music had touched the masses. I could hardly preach for the giant lump in my throat. My heart was broken that night as I told hundreds of teenagers that holiness was God’s standard for their lives.
The next week, an old friend in ministry that I have known since I was a teenager called and informed me of yet another man who had an inappropriate relationship with his young female intern. Thankfully, this man had a group of men around him that rightfully decided to extend discipline as well as restoration. He was removed from his position of influence and authority and sent away, with his wife and with pay, to a place where broken people can begin a journey back to health and wholeness. But the damage was still done.
And there were a few other instances this summer which I don’t even care to remember, much less type out. I hope you get my point. If you don’t, I would like to spell it out clearly.
I AM SICK
When I hear about God’s children, ordained, volunteer, preachers, worship leaders, football coaches, missionaries, or church members who have stepped out bounds for the luster of a false hope, that a moment of sexual pleasure is worth losing a lifetime of investment, I want to vomit. Satan has not changed his tactics. He is a wise and crafty adversary who has won many battles over the millenia. I lose my appetite when I hear these stories, or worse when I meet the wives or children of one who decided to drink water from another well.
I AM FEARFUL
I am absolutely frightened because I am certainly vulnerable. It could happen to me. This afternoon. I fear it like the plague. The thought of tossing 20 years of ministry onto a trash heap for a one night stand. The reality of losing my lovely wife and my dear children for a seduction. And worse, a lifetime of regret and shame knowing I could never undo what had been done. Could it happen to me? Sure it could. It could happen to every single one of us.
I AM TEMPTED
Every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. And these are not always temptations to have an affair. They are much easier ones to succumb to. The temptation to look a second time. To lust. To fantasize or dream about something illicit or sinful. To linger too long on a channel or to click an icon in a spammed email. To think that I am bulletproof and that it could never happen to me.
I AM CLEAN
I hesitate to say this for fear that it would be misunderstood, but I feel compelled to confess that by the grace of God, by His strength and through the blood of Christ, I am pure and clean. I have been forgiven of every single sinful thought and lustful temptation, and it is ONLY by His grace. And as of this morning, by His grace, I am not addicted to pornography, I have never seen a pornographic website, I have never cheated on my wife, and I am not hiding anything from my family or our ministry. If it were not for His grace, none of us would have a hope. And though I could step out of bounds today, in the mighty Name of Jesus Christ, I WILL NOT. Can I say that with certainty? Because some would say that it is proud or naieve to say that one could never fall. I am saying that I could fall, but I do not plan to. I plan NOT to and I try to take steps daily that would make it harder to blow it. The same way that I pledged my love and faithfulness to my wife in our wedding vows, I pledge to Christ that I intend to work by His grace for the rest of my life to represent His gospel with integrity. Only God knows the future, but we can live in certain ways that increase the probability of success or failure.
I read this verse differently now. After a summer of bad news about many of my brothers, I am more humbly aware of the necessity that I find satisfaction in the life I have been given, the one I made vows to, the one I wake up to each day.
Drink water from your own cistern,
running water from your own well.
Should your springs overflow in the streets,
your streams of water in the public squares?