When I was the pastor of a church in Washington, we had a season where we held a monthly mid-week worship service. One emphasis at these gatherings was to listen for God’s voice speaking to our hearts. We all get so busy in this life that our communication with God can become one-directional.
On one such worship night in 2013, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper something to my heart that both thrilled and scared me. I questioned whether I had heard correctly, so the next day I shared with a trusted friend. “Last night as we worshipped,” I explained, “I feel like the Spirit told me that one day I would exceed Ted Roberts.” My friend listened patiently, and then thoughtfully replied, “If that’s what the Lord chooses to do, why not?”
At the time, Dr. Ted Roberts was, and still is, one of my true heroes in the faith. In 2010, when our marriage was teetering over the edge because of my binge/purge addiction to pornography, it was Dr. Ted and Diane Roberts who pulled my wife and me back to safety. Through their patient encouragement, and beautiful combination of grace and truth, my wife and I discovered hope and healing that transformed every area of our life. The entire culture of our church shifted because of the message of Pure Desire and the Roberts.
In my mind, God had anointed Dr. Ted and Diane to be a catalyst of change in the church nationwide—helping a bunch of us “uptight evangelicals” understand how God’s grace could be applied to the deep struggle of lust, pornography, and sexual addiction. Dr. Ted’s influence made him a giant of the faith for me and countless other couples who had experienced the redemptive work of Christ through his ministry.
This story—this whisper from the Holy Spirit—came back to me last year when I was asked to join Pure Desire as the Executive Director. “Maybe I heard wrong,” I thought, “Maybe the Spirit said I will succeed Ted, not exceed!” Whether or not my time with Pure Desire ever exceeds Dr. Ted Roberts is completely in the Lord’s hands. But like Elisha to Elijah, my deep desire is to continue—to further and deepen—the pioneering work that Dr. Ted and Diane have begun.
For those of you who may be less familiar with Pure Desire, the ministry began an intentional season of transition more than two years ago. The Board of Directors, along with Dr. Ted, recognized that the time had come to begin handing the leadership of Pure Desire from the Roberts to a team—the next wave of leaders for the future growth of the ministry. Over the last number of months, Dr. Ted and Diane have graciously backed away from organizational leadership, public engagements, and other national ministry opportunities.
I am so grateful that they continue to serve the organization as authors (have you checked out Connected? What a resource for couples!), counselors (Dr. Ted and Diane focus primarily on ministry couples), and advisors to myself and the Board. Their wisdom, experience, and insight continue to form the soul of the ministry, even as the body takes on a new shape for a new era.
If you haven’t made plans already, I can’t encourage you enough to join us in Gresham for a celebration of Dr. Ted and Diane at the Legacy of Honor event. This will be a pinnacle moment to recognize them for all the sacrifices made and to publicly mark the succession of the ministry from one set of hands to the hands of many others. I hope you’ll join us.
My wife and I are both humbled and amazed at this work we get to lead. It is truly an honor to steward such a great work that has begun; we feel called, equally, to continue the message of hope and healing to the local church. We are still finding our way as new residents of Oregon, but we have felt at home with Pure Desire for many years.
This is our commission from the Lord, and we are eager to see where it will lead! We have found a place of belonging in a church community and are excited that God has led us to a place where we can use our story and connection to Pure Desire to help birth the ministry in one more local church.
Like I did back in 2013, I will continue to listen for God’s voice whispering to me. I will lean on many of you who make up the Pure Desire family to help discern that voice and the way forward. While a full picture of the future is a bit hazy, I am confident of this: God has positioned Pure Desire to be a significant player in the church’s battle against pornography and sexual addiction.
This is a fight we must, and will, win. If left unchecked, pornography and the gamut of sexual struggles will continue to undercut the message and relevance of the church to render us ineffective. But, when men and women discover real freedom and begin to walk in lasting change, the world around them takes notice.
Together, we can change the tide of sexual devastation in our culture!