Brendan - Montana
2020 Has been a year that no one will soon forget, and that is no less true for myself; however it is not for the reason that is expected.
I met Jon 4 years ago. I was an intern at a program in Texas with his son Isaiah, when he came down to visit. Little did I know at the time how much God was going to use them to impact my life and the life of my family. I was first introduced to the Break Free ministry/workshop 4 years ago. At that time I put no weight on it. It was nothing new to me; after all anyone who has read the Bible or even heard the Bible knows about “forgiveness” right? I mean All you have to do is forgive and forget. However 4 years later, I was in for a wake up call.
In April of 2020 Jon and Isaiah reached out to me to join their discipleship/purity group. I reluctantly agreed to join. At this point I had been a Christian for 10 years. This decision was hard simply because I knew I would have to be honest, and I didn’t want to. It would be uncomfortable, hard, and awkward. But this was actually something I was praying for, or something similar. This accountability group was structured in a unique way… a way I had never experienced before. We didn’t just meet and confide in each other. We didn’t just meet and empathize with each other. Jon presented challenges to us and then we started to challenge each other; through the means of hard questions, sometimes rebuke, encouragement and rejoicing. It was structured so we couldn’t leave each other in the same place of discouragement and failure. What I’ve come to realize is a lot of times obeying God is actually uncomfortable and not fun. But it is rewarding...very rewarding!
Throughout the summer, we would meet almost daily and check in holding each other accountable in purity, accomplishing goals, and loving other people in our lives. During this time we were introduced to the break free ministry, and Jon went through and presented the full 4 hour break free workshop. There was a huge element of practical application and hard challenges that force a person to either dive deep or live in denial/deception. Later that fall, my parents started the process of divorce, and as it would be for anyone, I struggled with that. I had been sharing with Jon about it, and long story short, he ended up flying from Colorado to meet my family and start discipling us.
To backtrack a minute, when the divorce papers were served, I was devastated. For the next two weeks I had no motivation to do anything. My biggest fear was happening right in front of me and I could do nothing about it. I was surrendering myself to the flesh, to find a fulfillment through sin. I was looking for a fix to get rid of all my hurt, fear and pain with sinful pleasure. This is when all things came to one decision I had to make. This is really where I had to decide if I was going to apply what God had revealed to me through the workshop. Would I forgive? Of course I was living in self pity and depression, so I couldn’t see. I was blind by my own sin; therefore I wasn’t even considering forgiveness as a means of freedom. “There is no way that would work, right?”. But God in his mercy and grace had other plans!
One night I was on a phone discussion with Isaiah and obviously I was feeling sorry for myself, and Isaiah asked me one question. “Have you forgiven your parents?” My answer was of course “no.” He then followed by asking “what is holding you back” I thought about it for a minute and replied “I don’t know… I just don’t feel like it.” He followed up and said “forgiveness is not based on feeling or emotion, but it is a command that requires obedience.” Jesus doesn’t have to think about forgiving us. Forgiveness is already available...we don’t even have to ask for it. The only requirement to receive it is to confess sin. 1 John 1:9 is pretty straight forward about it. So I sat in my room for about 30 minutes not saying really anything. I was agonizing over this truth. I so desperately didn’t want to do this. It was going to hurt so much, and I wanted nothing to do with that. There is a pleasure and confidence you feel when you hold onto that hurt and anger and bitterness, and letting it go wasn’t going to be fun. But by God’s grace, I obeyed and I prayed. I forgave. I can’t describe the feeling to you, not effectively, but praying was like pulling thorns from my chest. It was so hard. What happened after was indescribable peace. I was free. I now had foundation to love my parents unconditionally with absolutely no bitterness, anger, or hurt. Everything with the breakfree workshop clicked and made sense now.
This was just the beginning. Jon Came up to Montana and worked with my family and discipled us for a week. Two weeks later he came back and kept working with us. The next three months were unbelievable. I literally saw miracles happen. I had a front row seat to watch God work. I have since developed a deeper closer relationship with my family more in the last 3 months than in the last 20 years of my life. Now of course it's not just a happy ending that has no trials. Quite frankly every day has trials and it is really easy to get back into the mindset of self pity. It can still be really hard, but because of what God has shown myself and my family, we are now more accountable and now have the knowledge to live in love, and live in the cycle of reconciliation rather than the cycle of fear, hurt and pain. What Christ did on the cross not only gives us the power to walk in obedience, but also freedom, joy and reconciliation. When the knowledge and understanding of the Bible is combined with actual obedience, crazy things happen! Perhaps this is what Jesus Christ had intended all along in the christian walk. All of this is possible because and ONLY because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross.