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The Power of the Cross: 26th Edition, March 18, 2018


Mike Cleveland
 

Hello friend,

 

Welcome to the new subscribers just joining our newsletter. We publish once per week on Sunday. The newsletter alternates a short gospel teaching on one week with testimonies from Setting Captives Free students on the following week. We hope you will find the newsletter helpful and encouraging.

 

This week I have two testimonies, one from the depression course and one from the purity course. Here they are:

 

Depression course:

 

Question 4. Please take a moment and think about your previous “spirit of despair” and how Jesus came to replace it with the garment of praise. What thoughts do you have about the lengths to which Jesus went to make this exchange with you?

 

Marie-Louise shares:

"I have a lot of thoughts about it.

Fear is gone.

I am much less concerned with failure.

Life is more fun!

My relationship is a lot more fun!

I can enjoy many more things.

I'm making jokes again.

I dare to do things that I have to do again.

It is a relief not to have negative thoughts.

Jesus replaces them with hope.

The cross replaces everything with hope!

I feel much more positive.

I feel much freer.

 

I do not feel lonely and desperate because I know that the Holy Spirit is with me.

The days are much more fun. I feel more effective. But I start and end my day with God. He has now taken the most important place in my day! I need him hard, because otherwise I will do everything on my own. It does not work. Then I will not come out. The Holy Spirit is still busy with my process. Sometimes I still suffer from short moments in which I have negative thoughts. But it is getting less and less. It is a relief. I am so grateful that this process is in progress. That Jesus has the keys to this dark prison. And after months of depression (and I did not even realize it) I got rid of it! And I am healed and restored. Thank you Jesus! The biggest gift I can get in 2018 and for the rest of my life!"

 

Purity course:

Mike Leavitt writes, "I was introduced to pornography when I was about 14 years old, a friend of mine showed me a magazine full of naked women, I was overwhelmed with how beautiful the girls were and at that stage of my life I had no idea what sin was. All the guys at school talked about girls, sex, whether or not I was still a virgin and I just thought that it was the natural order of things. This started my addiction to pornography, sex and eventually drugs and alcohol.

This time in my life lasted until I was about 35 years old, I was in and out of many relationships, I was an alcoholic, spent a lot of time at bars and strip joints, smoked marijuana and pretty much live a complete immoral life style. I was living with a girl who was not my wife and our relationship came to an explosive end, I had lost my job and I was literally at the end of myself, I was depressed and really starting to wonder what the point of life really was.

But God through His great mercy led me to a Christian man, when I met him, I thought to myself; "whatever this guy has I want." He was happy and full of love and peace, he just had a glow about him that set him apart from others. He shared Jesus with me and I gave my life over to Him. Things started to change I gave up smoking, drinking, drugs and alcohol, I was going to church all the time getting involved with ministry being a youth group leader, I was on fire for God, reading everything I could get my hands on trying to find out more about my savior.

Sadly though all this time I had not given up pornography or self-gratification, at first I wasn't sure if it was right or wrong, I kept trying to justify that if I wasn't having sex then who was I hurting it was just me and no one else. As time went on though I came to know the truth, that it was wrong, that it was sexual immorality, adultery and I was hurting someone. First of all I was hurting myself, I was grieving the Holy Spirit, and my relationship with Jesus. It was also affecting many, many other relationships with friends, work, my church life suffered greatly. Yet I didn't seem to have the power to overcome my flesh or stop doing the things that I didn't want to do. Then along came the internet and porn was right at the click of a button and things started to spiral down more and more. I became more and more depressed and a recluse, I would have rather sat in front of my computer for hours then to try and have real relationship with a person. All this time I was pretending to be a perfect man of God, holding Bible studies, head usher at church, yet hiding this disease that was slowly killing me inside, Satan had me right where he wanted me.

I tried everything I could to stop, I put filters on my computer, I had an accountability partner, matter of fact I had several, I went to men groups, promise keepers, you name it I tried it, I even got so mad once I smashed my phone into pieces. I discovered through an on-line search many different groups but one really stuck out to me because for one it was free and another it was a Biblically based program called Setting the Captives Free! Just the name gave me hope, so I attempted to go through SCF 1.0 three times and only made it through once and I probably lied my way through it because every time I failed I felt so condemned because at that point in my Christian walk I was still trying to live up to the law, which is impossible. I got so tired of failing I stopped asking for help because I literally thought I was a lost cause, I was embarrassed to tell my accountability partner that I failed yet again. I seriously thought that I would never ever be free of this debilitating sin in my life. I even thought about committing suicide more than once because I didn't want to deal with shame and guilt any longer.

Things got even worse when I ended up in an illicit relationship with a girl that I had led to the Lord, it was fun at first because I found someone else to fill the hole for awhile. We went to church together and every time  we both felt so condemned that we couldn't go on with it any longer. So we split up and sadly she stop coming to church which was worse than anything, I felt so terrible that I had lost that friendship and she was no longer pursuing the Lord. Once again I was at the end of myself I was desperate to find away out.

At this point I just want to say, that while this was all going on I knew in my heart that Jesus was real and that He did die for my sins, in the back of my mind I would always say; "Mike, to whom else are you going to turn  there is no one else who is ever going to help you or care about you as much as Jesus does", so I always kept this hope in my heart.

It had been a couple of years since I went through SCF 1.0 and I thought that I would give it one last try, my last hope to get set free.  To my surprise it had a whole different format, one based on grace rather than radical amputation. I thought wow this is new, maybe this time it will be different.  I can say that before SCF 2.0 I never understood God's grace toward me, I don't know why but I just couldn't grasp it.

I started the course and began to learn that when I gave my life to Jesus I was crucified with Him on the cross and I was buried with Him. I had come to know this in my heart and that I was therefore dead to sin ( I had died spiritually with Christ) and the law, it was no longer my master. I was also raised to life again a new man, one that was alive to the Spirit but dead to sin. I had been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, this finally went from my head to my heart and it was all because of what my loving savior did on the cross for me. He willingly gave His life and chose me over Himself, He died for my punishment, all of my vileness He took on Himself. When ever I'm tempted I just have to think about Jesus on the cross looking lovingly at me and saying "Mike I did this for you because I love you and I want you to spend eternity with me." That just melts my heart and the desire to sin fades away. I'm not saying things are perfect and I know I will sin but the amazing thing about grace is that God just keeps extending it to me as I repent and ask for forgiveness. His love for us really is mind blowing, so unlike this world.

I had been a slave to pornography for over 40 years, that's long as the Israelite's were in the desert and I never ever thought I would be free of this sin that entangled me for so long, I can say that today I am no longer a slave to it and that is an absolute miracle and I owe it all to my Lord and savior Jesus and the power of His gospel. Thank you Farther for rescuing me this heavy burden, I love you so much."

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Dear friend, we are desiring to get the message of the power of the cross out to as many people as we can. Please consider forwarding or posting and inviting others to subscribe. Anyone can subscribe by sending a blank email to main+subscribe@SettingCaptivesFree.groups.io.

 

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Sincerely,

 

Mike Cleveland

Volunteer for Setting Captives Free

 

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