The Road Less Traveled

I was the middle child of five in a Catholic family. Our church in the 50’s and early 60’s was all about fire, hell and damnation. I don’t remember hearing about the mercy or love I longed for. Coming from a Scandinavian heritage, I learned at an early age that boys don’t cry and never share their painful thoughts. I had plenty of painful thoughts, as I had been sexually abused as a toddler.

As I grew older, I felt different from other boys. I was called a sissy by my peers and ignored by my older brother. I was also a super sensitive young boy, and I perceived, erroneously, that my father was ashamed of me and didn’t love me. I detached emotionally from him.  I got involved in theater in high school, and it was my major in college. My father just had no interest in those things, so I thought he had no interest in me as well. My mother was bipolar during a time when there was no such diagnosis; she could be verbally abusive.

I want to make it clear that I don’t blame my parents for the sinful choices I made. They did the best they could with a son they didn’t understand. Later in life, God showed me many happy times in my childhood and that my parents had indeed loved me.

When I got to college, I discovered pornography and began to act out with other men. Diane, my high school girlfriend, and I were dating and later married.  I continued to act out, unbeknownst to her.

I remember the first time that I went into a gay bar, and I was in awe of all the attention I received. For the first time in my life, I felt important, needed, and affirmed.

One day I was in a bathhouse, and a very old, fat, ugly man in a disheveled suit approached me and asked if I wanted to have sex. I said, “No.” He said, “I’ll pay you $20.” Again I said, “No.” Then he said, “I’ll pay you $20 if you just give me a hug.” I told him to keep his money.  I gave him a hug and went home. I looked in the mirror, and though I was 26, like a veil being lifted, I saw that one day I could be like that old man.

I believe that man was an angel. He opened my eyes, and I had a new revelation of myself. I realized that my homosexuality was not about sex at all, but it was all about being accepted and affirmed.  I got on my knees and cried out to God, “Lord, please change me.”

I struggled with unemployment for a season, and within a year, Diane and I moved to our cabin in Wisconsin.  We joined a prayer group, and they loaned us books.  One night, Diane and I were reading Ephesians out loud. The scriptures jumped off the page at me, and I soon realized that God was speaking to me. In Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV), we read, “For it is by grace you have been saved . . . It is the gift of God—not by works,” and in 2:10, my life verse, “We are all God’s work of art” (The Jerusalem Bible). For one suffering from self-hatred, that was music to my ears. Ephesians 5 says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness,  but rather expose them. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you’” (vs. 8, 11, 14, NIV).

I fell on the floor weeping and asked God for forgiveness for my sinful ways. I also wept for joy because I finally understood what Christ did for me at Calvary and realized that the Father’s love for me is unconditional. We gave our lives to Christ that night. I thought my healing journey was over, but it was only the beginning.

We moved back to Minneapolis, and I finally got a job. We joined an interdenominational Christian community, and for the first time in my life, I began to relate to men in a healthy way. We also discovered we couldn’t have children. Diane miscarried three times, and each time, it was like a death in the family. We adopted the first of our two children, a special needs child. Though God would work a miracle in my son’s life, healing him from hydrocephalus, he had to endure severe migraines for the first 11 years of his life.

The stress at work and home was too much to bear, and I sought out those old patterns of medicating.  I now knew what the Bible said about homosexuality, and I just felt more guilt and shame. The shame fueled my acting out, and it became a cycle.

Homosexuality was not talked about in the church unless it was condemned. All the recovery books were yet to be written. Jesus was going to have to lead the way, and lead He did. He called us to join a non-denominational church with some of our friends, and God showed me how those relationships were key to my healing. It gave me great comfort and strength to know that these men accepted me and respected me and would not reject me. Still, I was not ready to divulge my secret sin.

One Sunday, the pastor spoke on anger and then invited people forward and prayed over them to be released from the clutches of anger. I went forward. Another Sunday, I went forward to be prayed for to be released from bitterness and unforgiveness. God revealed to me my hardened heart toward those who had wounded me in my youth. I was led in a prayer to forgive all of those people—my parents and my tormentors. I even had to forgive God for not allowing me to father a child. My desire to act out decreased considerably after each of those times of prayer ministry.

Later at a men’s retreat at my church, God spoke to me in my quiet time, “I have given you friends to encourage you, I have dealt with the root cause of your sinfulness. The next step is up to you.” I knew what He meant. I needed to expose the darkness and end my double-life. The truth needed to be shared. At the large group gathering, trembling, I shared briefly, “I have struggled with homosexuality most of my adult life, and God is doing a tremendous thing.” I did not get the rejection I feared but applause and acceptance.

That fall I went to my first group meeting at Outpost Ministries for Christian men struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions. I finally began to talk about my brokenness. Shame and guilt lost its hold on me, and along with it, my desire to act out with other men. No more pretending. I went to Diane and shared with her my years of infidelity. I said I was sorry and asked her for forgiveness. Initially in anger and tears she said, “No,” but God spoke to her at that moment. He told her He had forgiven her of her own sins. She then grabbed my hand and chose to forgive me.

I went through Living Waters, a Christ-centered program with teaching, prayer, and small group interaction. God showed me many other areas I needed healing. Living Waters brought me to the cross where I experienced a deeper level of healing for my sexual brokenness.

Diane and I gave our testimonies for the first time publicly at our home church in 1999.  Around that time, God called us to help other couples impacted by homosexuality in their marriages.  We formed Simon Ministries, named after Simon of Cyrene who carried Christ’s cross on the way to Calvary. Diane also gave her testimony at a national conference in San Diego in 2000.  I will always remember those two events as highlights of our ministry.

We worked out of our home, holding group meetings for both husbands and wives and running Living Waters at our church.  We were under the authority of our church until 2011 when we closed Simon Ministries and joined forces with Outpost. I came back to where it all began. Our group is now called Simon Refuge. In total, we have been ministering to married couples impacted by homosexuality for 16 years. We will be celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary in September. One of my favorite scriptures from Psalm 34:4-5 (NIV) says it all, “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”

To quote Robert Frost, we took the road “less traveled, and that has made all the difference.”

Facing the Climb

On a typical Saturday in June, hundreds of people will head to the base of Long’s Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park to begin what could be the most physically demanding day of their lives.  Some will begin as early as 2:00 a.m. in an attempt to scale the massive peak that overlooks the plains to the east and the Rocky Mountains to the west.  Fewer than half of them will succeed in reaching the summit.  Dangerous storms, physical demands, high altitude and lack of sufficient daylight will cause many to turn back.

Those who reach the summit have achieved an accomplishment of a lifetime.  When their heads hit their pillows at the end of the day, most will be completely spent, but there will be few regrets.  They will have purchased the “I Climbed Long’s” t-shirts and bumper stickers and will share their stories over and over.

My journey out of unwanted same-sex attractions has been like climbing Long’s Peak.  The journey began when I moved to Minneapolis in 1985 and contacted Outpost Ministries.  It wasn’t going well for me on my own, and I knew that I needed help.  I found it through this ministry then, and I am blessed to be part of its staff now 30 years later.

It is certainly true that I never would have chosen to have same-sex attractions.  It hasn’t been easy, and I’m still on the mountain.  But God has given me many a gift on this trail, and I can now say that I am completely thankful for it.  Yes, the Lord could have taken away same-sex attractions in a moment when I placed my faith in Christ (as He has for some).  Instead, I have a long list of blessings that have resulted from this satisfying journey.  Whatever “Long’s Peak” trek that the Lord has given you, I would like to offer you some encouragement to persevere.

Never, never, never give up.  “Never give in–never, never, never, never . . .” Winston Churchill told the students at Harrow School in 1941 in a speech entitled “The Unrelenting Struggle”.  Let this be your resolve.  Of course it would be easier to stop climbing and head downhill.  The culture is constantly telling you to embrace a gay identity, find a same-sex partner and live out your desires.  Family members, friends, and others believe that you are denying your true self.  Sadly, some churches have the same message.  Along with these voices, the desires of our flesh scream for satisfaction.  But Jesus said that the “gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction” (Matthew 7:13, ESV).  Though there are hardships and setbacks, unfulfilled longings and loved ones who don’t understand, keep climbing.

It gets easier!  If you are scaling Long’s–particularly the “Keyhole” route–the most difficult stretch is at the summit, where there is a treacherous two-mile climb.  Those in our ministry report that the opposite is true in the journey out of same-sex attractions.  Our participants become “students of gender” and come to understand how a gender-related wound or deficit contributed to the direction of their attractions.  As they seek healing and growth from the Lord in the area of gender, most experience a decrease in the frequency and intensity of their same-sex desires.  Some who have come through our doors have gone on to experience joyful marriages; others, on to victorious and fruitful celibacy.

You are not alone on the journey.  You have a traveling Partner who will never leave you or forsake you.  The Lord is with you every step to help you up when you stumble and fall, to keep you in His grip as you traverse a dangerous ledge, to teach you valuable lessons of mountaineering, and to encourage you in the midst of fatigue.  On the cross, He purchased your perseverance and will see you through to the summit.  Praise the Lord for His constant companionship on this journey!

Strength is made perfect in weakness.  It is easy to have high expectations about how our journeys will progress and easy to fall into discouragement and disappointment when our expectations fall short.  Many have foolishly given God a timetable to “take away” their same-sex attractions, and then have walked away when their timeline was not met.  But just as the Lord didn’t take away Paul’s thorn in the flesh despite his pleading, so the Lord might draw out our journeys for His purposes.  His response to the apostle:  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 2:19).  Though you’d like to be past it by now, your still being on this journey is providing you a strength that you otherwise would not have.  Be patient with His timeline, and trust that He is sanctifying you and working in the waiting.

God has a purpose and a ministry ahead for you.  Our journeys are not without meaning.  They are not a dead-end but rather an avenue to bring instruction, encouragement, and comfort to others on the same road.  With the recent sudden changes in the culture and the capitulation of some lukewarm churches, the need for strong men and women in our ministry is greater than ever.  As you experience transformation and victory, God has a ministry in store for you so that others coming after you will stand on your strong shoulders.

Cling to your eternal hope.  As Francis Chan has said, all that matters in this life is that you are ready for the next one.  Same-sex attractions are a difficult and unwanted experience, but, as the Apostle Paul tells us, “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).  He calls our hardships in this life “a slight momentary affliction” which are “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).  It is true that you might be living with unfulfilled desires now, but before you know it, you will be experiencing pleasures beyond what you can now imagine, and to them there will be no end.  The longings that believers have for paradise will be satisfied completely. . . just not yet!

Take heart, fellow mountaineers.  Never, never, never give up!  Jesus said the way is difficult that leads to life.   Yes, It is a long trail and challenging climb, but it is worth every step.

Fixing Our Eyes: Strategy for Persecution

Overcoming the life- dominating aspects of unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA) is difficult.  Homosexuality is rooted in deep woundedness and driven by pain and anger; at times, it can feel like the prison door will never open.  Add to that the shifts in our culture, and freedom can seem even more elusive.  Nearly all spheres of life are now supportive of embracing and celebrating a gay identity, including much of the Western Church.  Someone who chooses to walk away from unwanted SSA in this day and age is a target for much opposition and even persecution.  We at Outpost Ministries are very much hated by the world in which we live.

But we do not lose heart.  Jesus warned us of such hatred and persecution.  In fact, His counsel was to not be surprised by such things; the world hated Him first. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18).  We are in good company.  He goes on to say, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own.  Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (15:19).  The hatred of the world is a testimony that we are not of the world.  We have been chosen out of this world!  Hallelujah!  Therefore, we do not marvel at the world’s hatred of us but at the reality of God’s love and that we are now His children.  We do not fix our eyes on hatred but on love.

Where we choose to fix our gaze will determine whether or not we move well through persecution.  The devil loves to pull away our focus.  In many ways, his primary goal is the persecution of the saints—to get their eyes off of Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith.

King David understood the importance of gazing upon the beauty of the Lord in times of trouble.  Psalm 27 is a prime example of his warfare strategy.  In verses 1-3, he declares that the Lord is his light and his salvation in the midst of impending war.  His confidence came from what he saw in the light:  a strong God who was fighting for him.  What did he have to be afraid of?  God was on his side.

In 27:4 he proclaims,One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek:  that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”  David did not want to be caught up in what he could see or hear in the natural realm.  He wanted to behold the beauty of the Lord and to talk to God about the many issues he was facing as the new king of Israel.  What a profound strategy and life vision!

When I fail to see God in my circumstances, I quickly lose hope.  I mean, let’s face it, no one wants to experience hatred.  We certainly weren’t created for such an experience.  Persecution for our faith is beginning in our country and will most likely increase in the coming years, but I refuse to let self-pity or fear rob me of my glory as a son of God.

King David made good on his life vision.  After he was anointed king over all of Israel and established his throne in Jerusalem, he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Mount Zion and established a worship center.  The sacrifices offered in this tabernacle were very different from the tabernacle of Moses; they were sacrifices of praise, joy and thanksgiving (Psalm 95:2, 100:4, 141:2)*.  David hired and paid out of his own pocket for singers and musicians to worship the Lord day and night.  David and his kingdom were blessed and protected.

In this evil age, I have taken a page out of David’s playbook and established a House of Prayer with the goal of offering the sacrifices of praise, joy and thanksgiving as well as our petitions to the Lord, day and night.  I am convinced that this is the only way to operate wisely in the changing culture.  Like David, we believe we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13).  I believe we will be blessed and protected.

Fixing our eyes on the Unseen can be difficult.  It definitely takes practice.  I have learned to quiet my heart at different points throughout my day and simply ask the question, “Jesus, where are You?”  I am not doubting He is with me but reacquainting myself with the reality of His presence.  This has been called “practicing the presence of God” by saints of old.  Ultimately, it is about doing my day with God, from the mundane to the serious.

Practicing God’s presence has been a saving grace for me on many occasions, especially during various forms of persecution.  Knowing God is with me and for me truly is, like David said, the strength of my life.

It has also been the key to my working with mentees.  Often times, the issues of struggle and opposition they report are quite overwhelming.  One can wonder how in the world they will overcome.  But as I remember that not only is Jesus with me, but He also lives in me, I have hope to offer them.  Christ in me is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27)!  If Jesus lives in us, there is always hope for overcoming unto glory.

Times have changed.  Persecution is beginning for Christians in this nation, but God is still on the throne.  He is still sovereign, and He is still beautiful.  If the shifting culture has gotten you down, turn off the news, open your Bible and gaze upon God’s endless beauty.  “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).

*Johnson, Bob. “A Short Catechism on the Tabernacle of David.” Tabernacle of David. ZionSong Ministries, p., 2000. Web. 15 May 2015.

The Undeniable Power of God

My family consisted of a mom, a dad, and two sisters. My father had set his heart and focus on providing for his family. He provided everything from a nice house to food on the table to, of course, fun toys for his children! Both Dad and I were clueless about the need for emotional connection with each other. With Dad’s time spent traveling for work, I remember distinctly when he’d return home. For two days, I would barely recognize him. How could I engage with him emotionally? My desire to connect with him, to be the apple of his eye, to make him proud of his little boy was stunted, leading to doubt and confusion.

The eight years that followed had me wrestling and searching for connection with males. Only now can I see just how ill-equipped I felt in relating to men. While I turned up empty-handed in this area of my life, I had no problem connecting with women. It’s all I could do growing up in a house full of them.

I believe this all contributed to my later torments in school. I was an easy target for ridicule as my peers teased me for my girlish behaviors, feminine sounding voice, and girly walk. At the tender age of ten, I could do nothing but fall for and, yes, even embrace these taunting lies as truths of my identity! As I did, I arrived at a new place of prescribed clarity: I must be gay!

At the age of 14, I came out as gay to my mother. We had been sitting together at night when I turned to her and unleashed my secret. Her words to me that evening sowed seeds that would later lead to changing my life forever. Her response to my secret was one offered in honesty, not judgment. She simply said to me, “Brad, nothing that comes from God will leave you confused or unsatisfied.” I couldn’t fully grasp what she meant in that moment, nor did I care to try. With my secret out, I was excited to get started on living my life as an openly gay young man.

Five years down the road, I had managed to acquire many sinful experiences, all in pursuit of happiness and love. I was ultimately looking for someone who would provide for, care for, and support me. In the end, my unhealthy relationships just exposed my emptiness and desperate need for fulfillment. The good feelings I came across would evaporate as quickly as they first appeared.

A game of tug-of-war began in my heart at the age of 20. God purposely ignited a slow-burning passion within me to have a family: a child and a beautiful wife. My gay partner could not offer this nor argue against it—men are meant to create! For the next two years, confusion set in and buried me. To speak out any of my new yearnings would directly contradict my “identity.” Drugs, promiscuity and isolation became the methods I used to interact with the world. I had attained everything I had ever wanted, yet here I was unsatisfied with a desperate need for more.

At the point when my life was the darkest, I found the light of salvation shining very brightly! The hope of Christ, however, had me pinned; mercy had come but with it, a choice. I could leave my lifestyle, move in with my parents and search for the abundant life God had promised my heart. Or, I could remain in the ruins I had created with my very own hands. After what felt like a full 24 hours of weeping, I surrendered to Jesus, and reached out to receive the hand of the Lord on April 20th, 2008.

The door of my parents’ house greeted my weary soul with a calming hush. My family rushed in and surrounded me with the unconditional support of their presence. God’s peace met me and welcomed me. I would need it for strength to commit myself to the unknown journey ahead. I realized quickly that God never intended me to fight alone, so I made the heavy-handed phone call to Outpost Ministries.

I spent three years as a participant at Outpost finding healing through:

  •  Real people who understand this issue. I couldn’t do life without community, especially without transparency, vulnerability, and others carrying the burdens of my heart (Galatians 6:2).
  •  Men standing strong with me, linking arms with me through the Holy Spirit, giving me support and encouragement through the Word of God.
  • Healthy masculine relationships. We are wounded in relationship and we are healed in relationship! The more I communicated with men and opened up, the more I felt my own masculinity being called forth. God placed a very specific group of men around me as Christian brothers. This was beyond powerful for me because I needed to know I was enjoyed and appreciated by other men.
  • Learning to rejoice in my weaknesses.

 “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

As I started to give God thanks through my trails, temptations, and afflictions, I gained the strength and power of the Lord.

  •  Listening to the voice of the Lord to obey His Word. Slowly but surely, He peeled back layers of my heart exposing pain and discomfort. My heart ached but God gave me perfect mercy and grace. God healed my heart as I heard His voice. He exposed me to my pain, allowing me to feel it. He didn’t leave me in the pain for long but used it to propel me forward with a stronger, fuller heart. It’s God’s desire to repair and restore the years the locusts have eaten.
  • Not focusing on the healing of unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA) but instead on the holiness of Jesus. The goal of healing from SSA is holiness, nothing else. If one has any other goal, it will lead to a disappointing and even destructive end. But the good news is that as we are transformed into the righteousness and holiness of Jesus (Ephesians 4:24), we are healed from SSA—over time.

My friends, the transformational power of God is undeniable! He has transformed my broken heart, searching for love and hope in all the wrong places, into a heart lovesick for Him, being filled with every blessing and revelation!

I have been serving on staff at Outpost for over three years now. I started Elijah Company, our support and prayer program for parents, friends and family with loved ones struggling with SSA, and I currently serve full-time as our Chief Operations Officer.

Today, seven years after God turned my disobedience to the wisdom of the righteous (Luke 1:17), He has blessed me with an unbelievable wife for whom I would joyfully give up my life. He has given me a double portion for taking up my cross to follow Him.

Prayer Week 2015

God is raising up night and day worship and prayer in the Twin Cities.  Starting April 10 and going through April 18, we are engaging with others across the seven state region for a full week of 24/7 worship and prayer and outreach.

JHOP will be moving from its regular location on Thursday, April 16 and participating in Prayer Week that day from 8 AM-6 PM at Redeeming Love Church in Maplewood, MN.  For the full schedule check out www.prayerweek.webs.com.  Also don’t miss the Onething Regional this weekend.  You can register at www.ihopkc.org/onethingregionals.

Pure Joy Celebration

Pure Joy 2015Join us for our annual Pure Joy! Celebration on Friday, March 27th, an evening of uplifting worship and hope-filled testimonies from men and women impacted by homosexuality. Celebrate with us the pure joy we are offered through Christ’s forgiveness and healing. Pure Joy will be held from 7-9 PM at Northbrook Alliance Church, 6240 Aldrich Ave N, Brooklyn Center, MN. A free-will offering will be taken to benefit Outpost programs.

Even If

“God, if this relationship is truly wrong in your eyes and you really want me to let her go, please help us get out of our relationship.”

I prayed this half-hearted prayer in June 2011, and my life has since been forever changed.  The Lord answered my prayer three weeks after I prayed it. My girlfriend’s family found out about our secret relationship, and she retreated to them.  I didn’t chase after her as I knew that the exposure of our relationship was clearly God’s answer to my quiet plea.

After the breakup, my heart was broken beyond what I thought could be repaired.  I expected God to come at me with crushing truths such as, “I told you so,” and, “You deserve this pain for disobeying my commandments.”  He would have been absolutely righteous in doing so. I had always known the truth about homosexuality, that God’s Word forbids its practice.

Instead, however, the Lord comforted me in a supernatural way.  I could feel His distinct presence holding me close as snot and tears ran down my face each day that summer.  Instead of accusations, He whispered gently to me.  “I’m so sorry.  I’m sorry that you lost someone you loved, and I’m sorry that you struggle with same-sex attractions. I love you more than you can possibly imagine, and we will get through this together.”

After several months of simply mourning the loss of my girlfriend with the comfort of my Father and my family, Jesus nudged me back to Outpost Ministries.  I had been there in the past but with a chip on my shoulder and a hardened heart.  I finally gave in and made an appointment with Nate Oyloe.  I will never forget sitting in the prayer chapel with him and pouring out my pain and brokenness.  When I was done telling my tale, Nate asked me one simple question.  I thought he’d say, “What are you willing to do to become straight?”  Instead, he gently asked me, “What are you willing to do to get back your relationship with the Lord?”  After pondering this unexpected question, my heart answered for me as my lips said, “Anything.”

My answer launched me into an intense year-and-a-half of healing. I met with Nate each week, I endured and allowed myself to be remolded by the Living Waters program, and I spent hour after hour with the Lord, reading His Word and listening to the Holy Spirit speak life into me once again.

At the beginning of my healing journey, I still wasn’t sure if I really could be healed of my same-sex attractions, and I wasn’t sure that I would follow God if I couldn’t be healed. Soon enough, however, the Lord spoke to me through the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel.  These men were about to be thrown into a fiery furnace unless they bowed down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue.  These men’s response changed my faith.  They said,

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us.  He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.  But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up (Daniel 3:17-18, NLT). 

 This was it!  God was calling me to surrender my life in this same way.  That fall I declared, “Lord I believe that you will heal me of my same-sex attractions, but even if you don’t, I will never again bow down and worship the idol of homosexuality.”

Our Lord is a jealous God.  He desires our full affections and allegiance.  “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching,” Jesus declares in John 14:23.  From the point in which I declared my allegiance to Jesus Christ, my healing really began to take place.  I would follow Jesus into any fiery furnace because my love for Him from my youth had returned.  I now loved this God-Man with everything that I had.  He has never let me down.

Once my heart was with fully committed to the Lord, I began to trust and love Him in a new way.  As I began to relearn His character through time spent with Him as well as with Outpost’s life-changing help, He slowly began to restore my identity as a woman.  He began speaking truths to me such as, “You are my daughter.”  “You are my princess.”  “I have made you a woman and have said that it is good.”  For the first time in my life, I began agreeing with God.  Romans 12:2 became reality in my life as I allowed the Lord to transform the way that I thought.

Although I am still healing and transforming, the Lord conducted speedy recovery in my gender identity and sexuality in about a year-and-a-half.  In the fall of 2012, He called me to work for Outpost Ministries, the ministry that had quite literally saved my life.  I quickly refused as I declared, “God, I will NOT fundraise!”  After being denied application after application, month after month, for what I thought were “real jobs, I finally gave in to the Lord’s calling on my life.  I began to fundraise to help others impacted by homosexuality.  Just as God provided healing for my identity and sexual healing, He also provided for me financially.  I trained for nine months under Nate Oyloe as I sought to learn the work of Outpost.

For two years, I have been meeting with women to help them overcome what, at first, seems to them like impossible situations.  Alongside this responsibility, I have also worked as Outpost’s Office Manager.  At the beginning of this year, I was offered the position of Community Fundraiser since my individual fundraising efforts had been flourishing.  I smile as I think of the irony of the situation.  A once extremely stubborn, “non-fundraising” woman now raises funds for the ministry she holds dear to her heart.  I am excited to share the good news about the healing and restoration that Jesus Christ has to offer as I envision many to financially support the miracles that happen at Outpost on a daily basis.

Confronting “Gay Christian” Theology

I have been a part of Outpost Ministries for almost 20 years. During this time I have watched the cultural landscape shift radically in regards to the issue of homosexuality. Nowadays, the “gay lifestyle” is embraced, accepted and even celebrated in all spheres of life. It is normal to see gay couples get married or engaging in sexual behaviors on prime-time television. This was not the case all that long ago. The shift came quickly and took many in the Church by surprise.

Now I am watching the landscape of the Church change in this regards as well. In the same way, the shift is coming quickly and is taking many by surprise. Most mainline denominations now more than tolerate—they ordain gay clergy, marry gay couples and encourage same-sex attracted youth to embrace their “gayness” as a gift from God and a blessing to others. What is even more shocking is now, once stalwart evangelical churches and organizations are falling prey to “gay Christian” theology—the thinking that it is okay to be a Christ-follower and embrace a gay identity. While there are different expressions of the “gay Christian” (some choose celibacy while others marry their partners), the bottom line is clear: to embrace the gay identity in any way is an affront to the image of God in men and women, and it is contrary to what God has commanded in His Word.

God’s creation is heterosexual (Genesis 1:26-27). Within God’s heterosexual creation, there are two genders: masculine and feminine. In God’s created order, there is always one and then the other. In the macro understanding of this principal, we have God who, in the masculine, initiated a love relationship with the Church, His Bride. We see the macro played out in the micro: married love between a man and a woman (Ephesians 5:31-32).

“Hetero” is different from the prefix “homo” which means “same.” There is, not two, but one. The good news for the same-sex attracted is that in God’s creation, there is no such thing as a homosexual, only heterosexuals, however broken he or she may have gotten in this world. We all have to live in the flow of the reality God has established, regardless of our feelings or attractions.

Gender is a way of categorizing characteristics. The historical meaning of gender is “things we treat differently because of their inherent differences.” Biblical gender is the compilation of characteristics that make up who God is and how He acts within relationships. It includes the distinction between God’s being and His activity.

Right away in Genesis 1:1, we see God as a gendered being—In the beginning God (being) created the heavens and the earth (activity). God continues to make distinctions as He creates: light and dark, day and night, land and sea, the heavens and the earth. God solidifies distinction within Himself—He IS and He DOES. He creates for six days (activity) and on the seventh day He rests (being). Distinction is important to God.

God continues to make distinction in Genesis 1:26-27:

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

In God’s creation, unity or union does not do away with distinction. There will always be a distinction between God and man, man and creation and male and female.

Paganism always tries to do away with distinction. The goal of paganism is that all would become one; God and man, man and creation, male and female, etc. are simply “one with the universe.” We see this lack of distinction being played out in human culture’s many sordid expressions of sexuality. It seems anything goes these days! Culture wants to do away with any gender distinction or the gender binary. Dr. Peter Jones, author of The God of Sex, says that when the primary binary (God and His creation) is eliminated, all other binaries crumble.

Homosexuality has its roots in paganism. This is why the movement to promote homosexuality is so powerful. It is not just about sex, or even whom you choose to love; it has a spiritual component. When the creature is worshiped rather than the Creator, demons are present.

To take on a gay identity is to step outside of God’s created order and out of the flow of reality. It is to reject one’s sense of belonging in God’s creation. Taking on a gay identity essentially shuts down the healing process and hinders receptivity of future blessings the Lord has in His heart for the struggler. It is letting the “old man” remain and refusing to walk in righteousness and holiness.

20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:20-24).

These words may seem bold or even harsh, but now is the time for boldness and courage, Church! I believe that “gay Christian” theology (in all its varied forms) is the greatest danger to the Western Church today. It threatens the very foundation of our understanding of God, His creation and our place within His creation. It is an assault on the image of God and the distinctions He has established between Himself and creation.

Let me conclude by clarifying a couple of issues. First, one’s temptations and life-dominating issues do not determine salvation. Most of the individuals who come to Outpost are born-again believers, yet they still struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions. We are saved by God’s grace available through Jesus Christ, not by our ability to keep His Law or to avoid temptation.

Second, God loves everyone within the “gay community”. His heart is burning to see His children return to Him.  Many individuals have been wounded and rejected by the Church’s poor response to their struggle with same-sex attractions.  A compassionate, biblical understanding of homosexuality within the Church has been needed for a very long time.

With that said, the current “gay Christian” conversation and shift that is now taking place within the Church is not based on a biblical understanding of homosexuality. The Church is sorely lacking a scriptural understanding of gender and the image of God.

We must be firm in our convictions in this hour. We must dig deeply into Genesis 1:26-27 and seek the Lord for wisdom and understanding of His image. We must stand for truth, for there is much at stake. As the kings of the earth cast off restraint, let us with even more resolve humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord and bow our knees to the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Holy Aggression: An Exclusive Seminar for Men

Holy AggressionThis exclusive seminar for men will teach you how to wage war on the passivity in your life and give you tools to live out your God-given masculine strength in your spirit, soul and body. Holy Aggression runs Friday, February 27  7-9 PM and Saturday, February 28 9 AM- 9 PM at Northbrook Alliance Church, 6240 Aldrich Ave N, Brooklyn Center, MN. Registration begins on Friday at 6 PM. Cost for the weekend is $100 (does not include meals). RSVP by contacting us.

Transformation: Let it Change You

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed . . . (Romans 12:2, NIV)

It is interesting to me that while transformation is something that we all work hard to achieve, Paul in Romans commands us to “BE transformed.” In other words, let transformation happen to you. It is a passive imperative, in grammatical terms. It requires no action on our part. The action, empowered by another force, happens to us. This is a grace.

Because it is a grace, the world has no concept of how transformation is achieved. In fact, the world has no concept that transformation of a person happens at all. Several years ago, before Jesse Ventura was governor of Minnesota, I heard him on his morning talk radio show say, regarding Chuck Colson, “He hasn’t changed! He’s still the same crook he was back in his ‘hatchet days.’ People can’t change! Can a leopard change it’s spots?” I rather doubt he knew he was quoting a biblical text, lest he appear “weak-minded.” But this text does appear in the Old Testament scriptures. Jeremiah 13:22-27 is the passage and reads in part,

And if you ask yourself, “Why has this happened to me?”—it is because of your many sins that your skirts have been torn off and your body mistreated. Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil. (Jer.13:22f.)

 But Jesus came to seek and save the lost, to give life abundantly and to heal the sick. These are all examples of transformation. That it happens in regards to one’s sexuality is just plain miraculous, and reveals the power of God’s grace.

But I want to land more squarely on the imperative part of that passive imperative. The word imperative means command or obligation. This is something that must be done. There is no excuse, no way of getting out of it.

We could look at this imperative in a couple of different ways. First, we could say that the passivity of the change is the imperative, and secondly, that the transformation itself is imperative. I believe both are key aspects to be discovered and lived out.

Let’s look at them each separately. The passive voice is not one of the more masculine aspects of human life. Actually, it is a very feminine way of responding to what is happening around oneself. C.S. Lewis once wrote that “compared to God, we are all feminine.” That is, we can only receive from him, we cannot give to him. He is completely lacking nothing and in want of nothing. So in relationship with God, we must come to him in a passive, receptive sort of way. This is our stance toward God. The virgin Mary embodied this posture in her response to Gabriel at the announcement that she would bear the son of God, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38 NRSV)

Our culture balks at feminine ways of responding within relationship. We see it as weak and ineffective. We abhor the “door mat” syndrome we witness in the way some people relate. And we hate being the door mat ourselves. But I submit to you, that is false femininity. That is not a reflection of the “image of God he created them . . . female,” according to Genesis 1:27. However, it does require humility, chief of the feminine virtues.

And when you think of it, that is how we all must come to God in relationship—open to receiving his gifts of life.

Let’s move on to the requirement of the transformation itself. Paul seems to be saying that being transformed is not an option. The Christian doesn’t get to choose if he should be transformed or not.

The world knows this in an intuitive way when they say, “I can’t become a Christian, because I don’t want to give up X, Y or Z.” Yet, some Christians balk at this out of a superficial desire to live in “freedom” under grace. (I see this insubordination to the will of the Father, and therefore, sinful in its rebellious attitude.)

But look at it this way. All the  language in scripture about salvation reveals a profoundly transformational effect on the life of the Christian:

“Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matt. 4:17) Jesus uses the word repent which is a word about changing one’s mind and one’s ways.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17)

“Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God.” (Rom. 6:11)

Neither . . . male prostitutes nor homosexuals . . . will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified . . .” (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed . . . Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree.” (Matt. 13:31f. ) The transformation of the mustard seed illustrates what happens in the kingdom of God. Though the essence of the tree is potential within the seed, one must start with the seed in order to get to the plant or tree. When it comes to kingdom life, change is of the essence and in the essence.

Jesus’ parable of the yeast yields a similar kingdom reality: everything that is “infected” by the yeast changes and grows.

Paul is not PRE-scribing change or transformation to becoming a Christian, he’s DE-scribing the Christian life in reference to the changes that must have had to have taken place. I believe that this is the way it is. Paul, in effect, is saying that when new life comes to you in connection with your relationship with Christ you will change. It’s what happens. It is evidence that new life is really, truly there. If A, then most definitely B! If not B, then it’s fair for folks to question A.

When some come along and demand not B (“We don’t have to change!”), I question the validity of A (their new life). While some may condemn this as “judging others,” I see it merely as discerning the fruit.

Jesus said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them . . . Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:15, 20f.)

Now we don’t pursue change. Nor do we make it our goal. Nor do we demand it of others. Transformation, however, is not a without effort. We pursue and we encourage the imitation of Christ, encourage the imitation of Christ, humility. We want to become like Jesus in every way. The change comes, therefore, in connection to Christ. No one can get too close or be too connected to Christ. Instead, the closer he gets to him, the more he becomes like him. And that affects us to the core of our being. Even our sexual identity.

Now change is a threat to the secular world. They become uncomfortable around changes. They’re thrown off-kilter. And who can blame them? We’re the same way. We resist change. We love sameness. We can predict it, we can bank on it, we can get used to it. With change, none of these conveniences are affordable. And this simply illustrates one of the great differences between kingdom life and principles, and the kingdoms of this world. In the kingdom of heaven, change is valued. In the world, change is to be avoided.

This seems ironic, doesn’t it? Especially with current language pitting conservative against liberal, condemning evangelical Christians as right-wing extremist “conservatives.” In light of this, a Christian ought to be the most liberal of them all —loving and promoting change in his own life and in the lives of  those around him. We’re bucking the trend here, people! And that’s bound to illicit opposition.