Taking the stage for Christival on Wednesday, Pastor Ben Stuart armed his listeners — Navy Seal-style — with strategies to defeat sin and deepen their relationships with Jesus.
Stuart reprised his role at Christival, PBA’s longstanding tradition of praise, worship and learning, having previously spoken in 2017. More than 500 people attended his talk Wednesday morning. Christival continues with services 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 23 and 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday, March 24 at Family Church Downtown, 1101 S. Flagler Drive. Family Church Worship leads the worship through music.
Stuart, pastor of Passion City Church in Washington, D.C., opened with a story of watching Navy Seals conduct a hostage drill. He was struck by two things, he said: the chaos of the situation and the beauty of the strategy.
Turning his commentary to spirituality, “there’s something about the modern world that’s not conducive to human flourishing” and intimate pursuit of Jesus is difficult, Stuart said.
“I don’t want to give you a pump-up speech, or tell you to try harder,” Stuart said. “It feels like a battle because it is one.”
Jesus sets His people free, in both a rescue mission and an ongoing operation, Stuart said. Jesus does for His people what David did for Israel when he killed Goliath: the Israelites were ready to fight after they watched someone else fight for them, Stuart said.
“You’ve been set free into a fight,” Stuart said. “You’re in a war, but now you have the ability to fight well.”
Followers of Jesus need to be aware of their own weaknesses so that they can move away from ways of thinking and living that distance them from God and move toward God by thinking and living in ways that cultivate Godliness, Stuart said. In Matthew 26, Jesus commands his followers to “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
The enemy, the devil, preys on people’s minds and desires to lure them into sin, said Stuart, who preached on James 1:14-18 on Wednesday morning. The devil solicits thoughts to stir affections that lead people into sin, Stuart said.
“What you think about is what you care about, and what you care about is what you will chase,” Stuart said.
When a person gives in to temptation, it produces sin, which ultimately leads to death. The lie that gives birth to sin is “the lie that God is not a good dad who loves you,” Stuart said. Followers of Jesus can resist sin by “looking downstream,” asking “Where will this lead?” and looking up to God before they act, Stuart said.
James 1:17 reminds us “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,” Stuart said.
Stuart’s messages are based on his new book, “Rest and War: Rhythms of a Well-Fought Life.”