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The Power of the Cross: 62nd Edition, January 13, 2019

Mike Cleveland
 

Hello friend,

Welcome to the new subscribers just joining our newsletter. We publish once per week on Sunday. The newsletter alternates a 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. 

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I wanted to let you know this week of the changes that have been happening at Setting Captives Free. First, there is a brand new weight loss course, just introduced around January 1st of 2019. It is shorter, more concise and contains God’s prescribed method of losing weight. It’s short and simple, and I encourage you to check it out if interested. You can find it here: https://settingcaptivesfree.com/course/weight-loss

If you were already enrolled in the weight loss course prior to the changes you can simply write to helpdesk@... and request to be reset to day 1 in order to go through the new course.

Additionally, we are writing a group leader study guide for the new weight loss course if interested in studying through it with friends from church, family, etc. The new course is ready now and the leader study guide should be available within 2 months, Lord willing.

Here are a few comments from students of the new weight loss course:

One student, on day 22 wrote: "This is my third time taking Setting Captives free.  The first time, I took it with a group of woman from church, something happened and the group stopped meeting, so I gave up and didn't finish the lessons.  The second time I made it all the way through but, I couldn't break free from the sin of overeating and I didn't think I had a testimony so, I just put it down.  So this time, I received an email about Setting Captives Free had updated their lessons and I thought that's cool!  And I got several more emails and thought okay God, I get the message, I will go and check it out and WOW!!, I'm glad I listened!  Because I know there has been a major shift in my thinking and feelings towards food and I know that all the glory goes to God because I could never do this alone!  I would never be able to just wake up one day and say "hey, food I don't love you anymore!" No way!  God pulled me out of my sin and my grave and has shown me a different/better way to live! FREEDOM!!!!!!!!!!!  
I love you God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Another who finished the course wrote, 

"Food outcomes for me:

Food is now a total non issue for me
The spine of this long held stronghold has been snapped in two.
All food fixation gone.
Total stable eating secured.
Plain water intake established.
Any hidden food rules - not one - tossed out of the window.
Enjoying large meals of any sort.
Lost 5 pounds initially and clothes are a bit loose.
My very long term weight plateau has ceased.
Particular food cravings for certain foods gone.

Spiritual outcomes ( too many to list all)

Condemnation SO much less.
Abiding so close.
Peace and peace and more peace.
Resting and trusting in Jesus consistently despite difficult external circumstances.
Embracing suffering and seeing it as a paradoxically exciting joy to see Jesus exalted and an opportunity to rejoice in God's strength being displayed.
My heart is softer and more prone to tears for others.....

I just want to sing Jesus' praises who secured our freedom and established our righteousness in Him and defeated all powers of darkness at the cross!

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Finally, we are also writing a much shorter, concise and more power-packed version of the purity course, which should be available within a month. It is called “Purity Boot Camp”. I’ll send a message when it’s available.

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Here is the testimony for this week:

Dave writes, "Like many here, I was exposed to pornography at an early age (8 maybe 9 years old). I used to believe my exposure at an early age was my downfall but learned through Setting Captives Free that's not the entire story or worth dwelling on as many groups do with past experiences. I was sinning against God plain and simple.

I have gone to church since I was baptized as a baby. Heard the story of Jesus and His crucifixion, burial and His resurrection many times. I always believed it, but it didn't stop my sinful behaviors. I had been hooked by one of Satan's most alluring baits, pornography, and was not going to get off the hook. Throughout my early teen years to early adulthood, my looking, viewing, pursuing and purchasing of pornography grew to an obsession. All the while hiding it from family, friends, and co-workers. The world would call it addicted. I now know I was enslaved to sin, not addicted. I tried to quit but never could get the imagery out of my mind. I decided I was just programmed this way. I always knew this behavior displeased God but thought, "I'll quit someday and then He'll forgive me". Someday never came.

Once married I believed I would have the willpower to stop. Wrong, I quickly escalated from pornography and self-gratification to paying for illicit encounters. I also became a master at lying to hide my sin. Eventually, my wife caught me. I lied my way out and assured her it would never happen again. I became more calculated and deceiving. I had mastered the guilt, shame and regret cycle and was convinced this was to be my life's path like it or not so I needed to work hard at hiding my secret life. While I would have long periods of time without illicit sexual encounters, pornography was a daily sin.

I was caught a 2nd time. This time I was terrified I'd lose my wife. She was beyond furious, hurt and devastated. I don't blame her. So, I quit all forms of sexual impurity immediately and joined a recovery group at my church. I quit cold turkey for an entire year. Then, I had a small slip back into porn. I confessed to my sponsor, group and my wife. About 3 months later, another slip. Same confessions. About that time a friend at my recovery table mentioned Setting Captives Free. That was a message from God plain and simple! I enrolled and began the next day.

I quickly learned I wasn't addicted, I was giving into Satan's temptations and sinning. I wasn't in need of sobriety, I was in need of freedom from the chains of habitual sin slavery. Learning how Jesus' life, persecution, death, burial, and resurrection are all the weapons I need to break the chains was eye-opening. No more tools to keep from being triggered or tools to fight triggers.

As I said earlier, I had always believed in the gospel for forgiveness but never knew how to apply the message to everyday life and struggles with sin. Since learning this I feel a real heart transformation only possible through the Holy Spirit. All my previous attempts to quit my impure behavior were all on my own strength and willpower. Transforming my heart to want to turn from sin had never occurred to me. I know now a life of freedom from sin, (not sobriety or recovery) is only possible through going to the cross of Jesus daily and allowing Him to fight my battles. Conquering sin and Satan in my own strength is and always will be my biggest weakness.

God is definitely in the restoration business. While my life isn't perfect, I still get temptations, but now take those temptations to the cross and Jesus to take them on which is what He wants to do for us. My marriage has been spared and my wife and I are working to restore and rebuild our relationship with God's help. This testimony is long but, so was my time in slavery to sexual impurity. 35 years. 35 years of willingly turning my back on God, and He still came after me to save me for eternity with Him! IT IS NEVER TOO LATE FOR GOD TO TRANSFORM A HARDENED HEART!”

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Writing and uploading courses, making books and study guides and hosting the website all require resources; we would be grateful if you would pray and ask God to put on your heart and amount to give to Setting Captives Free. All giving is tax deductible and you can do so here: https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate Thank you in advance!

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free