Ministry Update

God’s Favor… and Moving Forward

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.”
1 John 3:14


Dear Friends and Change Partners –

Preaching in nontraditional settings, vs. the typical local church, is not new for me. From a high school theater in Rolling Meadows, to the Don Stevens theater in Rosemont; by the Ganges River in Nepal and the Niger River in the African sub-Sahara; from the death strewn streets of post-quake Haiti, to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Transfiguration in Israel… I have been incredibly blessed to preach in unusual and dynamic settings.

Yet I have never experienced more joy (and honestly fun) than I find preaching God’s Word to men on the recovery road in Jesus’ name.

This I have been doing on Saturday evenings at the sobriety house we affectionately call Rock Bottom.


Legal Resolutions Nearing

Kathy and I would not have been able to walk these past 40 months but for the Sovereign Lord, who rules the universe with His feet up and has given us peace and comfort every step of the way.

We have confirmed the Scripture that truly His eyes “run to and fro throughout the whole earth, searching for those on whose behalf He can show Himself strong” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

If you are following the legal resolution of the crimes committed against our ministry, the latest update is here. I’m linking to these recent vindications rather than include them. We realize many have entirely moved on, and we are blessed to be experiencing increased freedom and forgiveness ourselves.

In the Lord’s kindness, your confidence in us is continuing to prove out as well placed.

Vindication never comes on our timetable, but we thank the Lord that in His time, it does in fact com

Sobriety House

At the beginning of the year, I promised you an update from Rock Bottom, our sobriety house and ministry headquarters, with stories of lives changed by the gospel. The house is now full, with 5-7 men on a wait list, and we are daily bringing our residents the message of freedom from addiction in Jesus’ name.

Meet Patrick

With us since May from McHenry, IL, Patrick has rededicated his life to Christ and reports: “I was isolating and tried to drink myself to death. In rehab I heard about this sobriety house. As soon as I got out, I checked straight into Rock Bottom the same day. Now I’m no longer isolating. I’m staying sober and staying in the Word.

Meet Tim

With us since April from Elgin, IL, Tim’s life has changed dramatically from its downward spiral: “I spent two months hiding in a crack house and it was horrible. I wanted nothing to do with my family or friends. Then I got connected with Rock Bottom, and everything’s been going up since then.” (Note: Tim has not yet committed his life to Christ, but he’s living sober and attending our men’s Bible study every week. Please pray for him.)

Meet Chuck Blanton (right) and Bobby Gentile (left), our leaders at Rock Bottom.

Chuck was saved under our ministry in 2010, and serves as House Chaplain – a dedicated source of spiritual maturity and encouragement for the men and our team. He now leads a men’s Bible study at the house on Tuesday nights.

Bobby has renewed his relationship with Christ over the past year and serves as House Director. Along with property oversight, he provides organizational leadership and accountability for the men in residence at our house.

Your prayers are being answered as this new ministry is thriving.

I wish it was all good news – our program includes twice-weekly drug tests, and 5 men have been removed and returned to rehab. Two of those who left have followed their addiction to a very dark place, stepping suddenly into eternity. One shot, one overdosing – both tragically dead. Stark reminders of how destructive addiction truly is.

We are sobered by these urgent realities, as we serve on the front lines of hurting people where the difference Christ quickly makes is readily apparent. No wonder our Lord, “friend of sinners,” seemed to emphasize those who are more accurately aware of their need (Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32). Read more about our sobriety house or apply for residency.

Better Biblical Preaching

In addition to the sobriety house, we’re recording episodes to launch a biblical preaching podcast. It’s our hope to be a resource for countless preachers around the country and beyond who seek to prepare substantive biblical messages every week. Sadly, it seems that has never been harder for church goers to find.

Motorcycle Ministry


Our Act Like Men motorcycle ministry continues to gather and disciple men, who are in turn connecting personally with those in our sobriety house. We returned to Sturgis for this year’s rally and observed with sorrow that, though some 500,000 motorcyclists were in the region, there was apparently no gospel witness on Sunday morning.

As a result, we’re in touch with an organization we believe will help us proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in the center of the rally next year. Please keep this in your prayers.

New Teaching

WORTHY

If Jesus Christ is who He says He is, the implications are staggering – and eternal! Join us in October to explore the most exalting passages in God’s Word about His Son… because He alone is WORTHY. Bookmark this series

I’m as excited about this new series, Worthy, as I’ve been about anything for a long time.

We’ll study together the seven or eight passages of Scripture that most overflow with beautiful revelations about the awesomeness of our worthy Savior. I am believing by faith this teaching will become as powerful in you as it already is in my own heart. If you’re longing for fresh insights about the glory of Jesus Christ, stay connected here.

FROM ROCK BOTTOM

Running from God is the road to rock bottom. Yet He is never passive or indifferent – God goes after His kids, and wants us to benefit from a lower altitude. “Rock Bottom” means it’s time to look up. Watch this series

 

Your Partnership

Kathy and I continue to carry the financial needs of the ministry personally, with the help of faithful Change Partners. If you are looking for something to invest in, we believe increased fruitfulness and fresh biblical content are just ahead.

I must tell you there are real financial needs in our ministry these days. Your partnership at this time would be a great encouragementeven a gift to say, “We know God has great things in store for you, and we’re excited to stand with you and see them unfold!”

YES! I’ll help support this gospel work.

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” – Matthew 25:40

Thank you for taking time to digest what’s happening in our world. We pray God’s best upon you and your family, and are so grateful for your faith investment in these new gospel ventures that are weighing upon our hearts.

– Pastor James

 

P.S. In the Chicago area? You’re welcome at Rock Bottom for our Saturday Bible study! Details here.