Heroes

heroesDo you have heroes? If you don’t, you should—it’s important to look up to somebody. I have heroes of my own. As it happens, my case is a little special because some of my heroes are the young men who come to us for help.

One of the hats I wear at Outpost Ministries involves giving leadership to weekly programming called Joshua Fellowship. It’s a group of guys who grew up as Christians, for the most part, but then—frequently to their shock and dismay—found themselves experiencing same-sex attractions.

These guys spring from a variety of backstories. Some have never ceased to fight against what they regard as temptation and sinful behavior; others were out and proud for years until Jesus got in their face.  Some already have a great deal of inner-healing under their belts; others don’t yet know what that is. Some are respected professionals—dentists, architects, etc., while others are broke college students.

But there are a couple of common denominators; one is that they are all faithful men of God, indeed. You and I, my friend, could stand to learn a thing or two from the kind of stubborn dedication to Christ which these young men live out every day. And the other is that they have each survived a bloody battlefield to get here.

There’s a quote I like to use from The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous: “All of us sought an easier, softer way, but it availed us nothing!” Does that sound like real life? Well, it rings true for these guys too. There’s a story I like to tell them, and it’s remarkable how often it hits home. It goes, with variations, like this:

Adolescent Boy begins to discover his sexuality, but to his surprise, along with that comes same-sex attractions. Well, at that point, what should he do? He should probably tell somebody; he should get some help, right? But sadly, that’s the one thing which almost never happens. Why? Because the young man lives in a Christian world, and the last thing he wants is for his struggle to become known. So, he keeps it a secret and struggles on alone, often frightened and certainly confused, frustrated and ashamed. He’s a Christian, you see, and he believes embracing his same-sex attractions is wrong, and so he tries hard to change, without success.

So he resorts to religion and gets involved in church: he volunteers, leads, mentors. His parents are proud, and the community is impressed. But his secret is still there and still bites.

So he goes away to Bible school because, he reasons, what he really needs is to immerse himself even more deeply in the things of God. That will kill this struggle. But it doesn’t.

So he goes on to seminary because, after all, professional Christians could not possibly struggle with something like same-sex attractions. And then, when that doesn’t work either, he begins to realize that he’s out of options.

Except that he remembers some time ago somebody mentioned a place called Outpost. And so, in pure desperation, he finally picks up the phone.

Of course this is only a story, but when I tell it, there tend to be sheepish grins here and there in the room. And I’ve told this story to you to illustrate that favorite quote of mine: all of us try an easier, softer way, but it avails us nothing. On that level, these guys are no different from you and me.

What does set them apart, though, is that they didn’t give up. Faced with a relentless enemy, defeating them at every turn, surrounded by a public discourse which pronounces the utter hopelessness of their cause, they did not cease to seek a way to lay their sexuality at the feet of Jesus. Whatever solutions they had tried first, in the end it was their saving faith which brought them, finally, to Outpost.

That’s the kind of guys I get to work with. They’re heroes before they ever come to us. If the Church were composed of such, our enemy would have far less freedom of movement, and the world would be a different place than it is now.

They don’t see it that way, of course. They don’t call themselves heroes. They come broken, confused, angry, dispirited, disillusioned, desperate and in pain. And my role, then, is to labor to point them to the only pathway to healing that’s left to try: the genuine love of Jesus.

And so together we get to work, and we spend time talking, teaching, exposing lies, taking risks, getting honest. Sometimes, as we do those things, the time comes—not right away, as it takes a lot of work—when I am granted a very special privilege. I get to be present when something happens, and they begin to engage in real time with the real love of a real God who really is there and, as it turns out, has not forgotten them after all.

It’s like—well, the best way I can describe it is that it’s like watching the sun come up. Of course, they’re not finished; there’s lots of work ahead for them. But it does mean once that miracle happens, the playing field has changed. They are no longer smoldering wicks whose best hope was to stubbornly refuse to go out. Now they have tasted fire. They have a new capacity for desire. They’ve moved beyond mere desperation and are motivated now by a ravenous hunger for the genuine presence of Jesus. We call it “turning the corner,” and it’s when the fun really starts.

What’s a hero? A hero is someone who, faced with impossible odds, shouted down by every voice, nevertheless sticks to his guns and refuses to give up. We think of heroes as winners, but what really makes a hero is the courage it takes to refuse to lose, no matter what the odds or how long it takes or how much it hurts.

The Bible promises victory to the faithful. Victory is a marvelous thing; it is a time to rejoice and celebrate the victor. But never forget that victory comes always after faithfulness. And faithfulness is no picnic because it happens in the trenches where winning seems a happy but remote dream and defeat would be oh, so much easier.

Faithfulness is never a mountaintop experience; if you’re a Christian, you know that.

The guys and I have a name for the place where faith happens. We call it the Valley of the Shadow of Death because in that place, the enemy is all around us, and darkness and defeat sometimes overshadow us. The only way out is through, and the only way through is to follow Jesus—no matter how rocky, confusing or unexpected the path is upon which He leads us.

Are my guys heroes? You do the math.

The Next 40 Years

40 yearsHappy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps truth forever, who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners. —Psalm 146:5-7

Next month, Outpost Ministries will celebrate its 40th anniversary! For forty years, Outpost has not wavered in proclaiming the truth that Jesus Christ has life-changing power.

In 1976, Robbi Kenney and a few others founded Outpost in the basement of Love Lines, a crisis phone counseling ministry. The name Outpost was chosen for a very specific reason: it would be the first line of defense against the enemy’s sneak attacks.  We now see the prophetic nature of our name. For 40 years, we have fought the good fight in the midst of an ever-changing society. We have been an Outpost of hope to many wounded souls.

God was faithful to Outpost in the early years. He released valuable tools to minister healing to the same-sex-attracted struggler. We were led to the place where we all find healing: the cross. The cross of Jesus Christ is enough for all sin. Healing through the cross is available for all who choose to repent.

In the past 40 years, many lives have been transformed because of the Holy Spirit’s work here. Praise the Lord, I am one of those transformed lives!

I am looking forward to the next 40 years with great anticipation. God is on the move. Lives continue to change. His Kingdom is advancing. Thank you for your prayers and financial partnership throughout the years. We could not have persisted without your vital contribution to this ministry.

Register Now for Called Out of Darkness on October 15!

For 40 years, Outpost Ministries has been ministering to men and women seeking freedom from unwanted same-sex attractions. We’re celebrating by hosting a one-day conference featuring Dennis Jernigan and Nate Oyloe, culminating with our Called Out of Darkness Celebration and testimonies of hope from those impacted by homosexuality.

Jesus has faithfully released freedom and healing in our midst for four decades. Let’s join together as we celebrate being Called Out of Darkness!

Saturday, October 15, 2016Called Out of Darkness Celebration

Hope Presbyterian Church

7132 Portland Ave S

Richfield, MN 55423

This event is free but registration is required. No childcare is provided.

REGISTER NOW

Conference Schedule:

9am Worship with the Twin Cities Justice House of Prayer

10am Session 1: Nate Oyloe

1:30pm Worship with the Twin Cities Justice House of Prayer

2pm Breakout Sessions 1:  with Dennis Jernigan and other Outpost Speakers

3:15pm Breakout Sessions 2: with Nate Oyloe and other Outpost Speakers

6:30pm Worship with Dennis Jernigan

7:30pm Testimonies

8:30pm Keynote Session: Dennis Jernigan

Called Out of Darkness

Living Waters

Living Waters

Photo from Free Images

It is with joy and thankfulness that I am reporting on the conclusion of our 2015-16 Living Waters Program at the end of March.  Living Waters is an in-depth healing and discipleship group for any Christian seeking healing in areas of sexual and relational brokenness.  Living Waters is for EVERYONE!  Each one of us is a good gift from God; most of us are broken in our ability to love others well.  Living Waters lays a biblical foundation for sexual and relational wholeness in our lives.

After 21 weeks of intense worship, teaching and small group prayer, our participants testified to the change that had taken place as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. With their permission, here are their testimonies:

Through Living Waters, God showed me that at a deep level I had, in my woundedness, despised and rejected my gender and therefore, myself.  I learned so much through the truths expressed in the beautifully articulated, biblical and comprehensive Living Waters textbook about how Christ’s work on the cross can bring deep healing.  Through the teachings aided by the caring ministry and prayers of others, God’s Spirit gently enabled me to begin to accept the self that He made me to be.  This ‘real me’ was then able to begin to receive His love and perfect parenting in new ways, and turn from many broken ways.  I notice a new contentedness and growing joy in accepting who I am in Him.

Living Waters brought healing to my spirit especially from an abusive relationship with my ex-boyfriend.  By dealing with past wounds and traumas, I received healing!

 I came to Living Waters confused and scared.  I’m leaving with hope for my marriage!

I came to Living Waters feeling so broken.  I had just come out of a relationship where the man was very godly and good to me but I could not receive his love.  The more he tried to love me, the more I pushed him away.  Throughout Living Waters, the idea that God made me to be a good gift continually ministered to my heart.  For so many years after being in an abusive relationship, I believed that I was the problem and I had carried a huge yoke of shame.  Through the ‘cross time’, the Holy Spirit has been restoring my sense of worth and that I actually have much to give!

It started out with me coming because a friend invited me, but I got so much more out of it than I thought possible!  I’ve always had issues with anxiety, self-hatred and mild depression.  I didn’t think Living Waters was going to be able to help me with that, but it DID!  I was able to uncover things that I never thought were issues, things I thought were buried in the past and long forgotten. I never knew my revulsion toward the feminine and my desire to be a boy when I was younger God used Living Waters greatly in my life.  God showed me so much about my identity in Him instead of my sins of the past.  I’ve also grown much closer to God in my intimacy with Him.

I initially came because my wife required me to seek some kind of counseling.  I wanted to change but had been let down by so many counselors and groups that went nowhere that I was skeptical Living Waters would be any different.  In the end, I’m glad I came.  Small group was a highlight and removed my skepticism that groups can experience change and actually bond vs. being strangers stuck in a rut.  Seeing others who had overcome the same sins and struggles that had plagued me for years was very encouraging.  Becoming that person thanks to Living Waters and my church is incredibly edifying.

Living Waters has made me realize my need for community and also the importance of being in authentic relationships with others.

This has been the most beneficial course I have ever experienced regarding sexual issues and their root causes.  I have been able to walk with less shame and more transparency.  I now see my need is not so much to flee sexual sin as it is to turn away from idolatry of God’s creation while seeking and worshiping my loving Heavenly Father.  My past had isolated me in my sin, but now I see the value and ability to have real and deeply Christ-ministering relationships with other men.

The 2016-17 Living Waters Program will be starting in October 2016 and will run through March 2017.  We are now accepting applications! Applications are available on our Living Waters page.  Sign up early to ensure a place in the program, as space is limited.  Tell your friends to come!  They will be glad you referred them!

The Next Generation

The Next GenerationNow also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.  —Ps. 71:18

In July, I celebrated my 16th year as an employee of Outpost Ministries. I’ve been here almost 20 years, if you include my time as a client. Wow, how things have changed—not just culturally, but Outpost itself. By God’s grace, we have grown tremendously.  When I started, there were three of us on staff. Now we have ten! Our programing has increased from two weekly classes/support groups to five. We have added a House of Prayer in the spirit of Luke 18 to add to our spiritual protection. And we have developed seminars and conferences to train up the Body of Christ to deal with issues of sexuality and gender identity. God has been good to Outpost and to me. As I look back, it is with much gratitude in my heart.

Now it is time to look ahead to the next generation.  Over these past 16 years, I have had the opportunity to minister to many young people—several of whom are now married with children. Student ministry continues to be a large part of what I do here at Outpost. When I think of the high school students I meet with regularly and the challenges they face, I am sobered.  It is now harder than ever to walk away from unwanted same-sex attractions because of cultural normalization and because of the many churches that have acquiesced to the issue. And yet these young people are STILL CHOOSING TO PURSUE FREEDOM!

After all these years, my calling has never been more sure:  to see a generation raised up in God’s love and power. Like David, I desire to declare the strength and power of the Lord to this generation and the one to come.

As always I thank you for your partnership with us at Outpost.  We can’t do this important work without you.  As the summer winds down, would you consider giving a special donation to help us through some of the typically leaner months in the giving year?  DONATE NOW

 

Distinctions for Youth

Distinctions for YouthA Seminar for Youth Pastors, Leaders and Parents

August 18, 9-11:30 AM

Substance Church, Northtown Campus

8299 Central Ave NE

Spring Lake Park, MN 55432

For more info & to register, visit transformmn.org/events.

 

Lessons from Orlando

We as staff at Outpost Ministries are incredibly grieved over the heinus shootings that took place on the morning of June 11 at the gay night club Pulse in Orlando.  Our hearts are broken for the victims–dead and surviving, their families and friends.  The reality is that at one point, some among us—past and present staff, colleagues in sister ministries, participants in our programming—have been at the gay bars and clubs, the parades, the bath houses, even the escort services.  It’s only with much humility that we acknowledge we were washed, sanctified, and “were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinth. 6:11).  If this tragedy had occurred at a different time and place, the victims could have easily been one of us or a dearly loved one.

We recognize that we have delayed on weighing in on this tragic event.  It hasn’t been without much consideration and emotion.  I have personally wept over this situation.  We have proceeded with caution because we want our voice to be clear, not muddied by the hateful, unbiblical soundbites from a small minority who claim to follow Christ and the angry backlash that has ensued. Current events are shifting quickly; several tragedies have occurred nationally and around the globe since Orlando. Hopefully, our opportunity to speak into this event has not passed.

I believe that this tragedy is a significant wake-up call to the Church to some critical realities that beg from us, not only a response, but action.  First, the LGBT community is hurting deeply, and we have an incredible opportunity to show the Father’s tangible love and compassion to individuals.  This tragedy has obviously been particularly frightening and painful for them.  Many of them have deep wounds of feeling rejected at various levels—abuse, bullying, family divisions, disenfranchisement from the Church.  Unhealed wounds are only exacerbated by further rejection; to murder someone is the ultimate form of rejection.  Individuals have been reeling with the question, “How could someone hate me—or someone like me—to the point of wanting me dead?”  The shootings—and the hateful, unbiblical rhetoric—have reopened old wounds and left hurting people raw and exposed.

How can we practice love and compassion?  We can take risks and engage in relationship with them, have real conversations and build trust.  Ask them about their stories, about their longings and disappointments, even how the shootings have impacted them personally.  We can show hospitality.  Remember, Jesus dined with sinners!  He didn’t wait until they stopped sinning until He reached out to them.  We can love extravagantly through acts of service.  We can even seek to understand our own past woundings and resulting sexual and relational brokenness and seek healing at the cross.  We don’t have to do any of this perfectly.  We don’t need to be ashamed of walking out both grace and truth, but we do need to walk them out in humility.  The key is to put aside fear and intimidation of the gay agenda and of the fear of man and reach out to lost, broken and desperately hurting people.

Do you know any same-sex strugglers on the journey of healing and wholeness?  Do you know any family members struggling to maintain relationships with their gay-identified loved ones?  They have been shaken by this event too.  In this cultural climate, their journeys are not easy ones.  Make a point to encourage them often.  Become community for them.

Second, we as humans have a real enemy, and we are in a real war, though we ”do not wrestle against flesh and blood” (Eph. 6:12).  A friend of mine posted on social media after the shootings, “The issue here is not about gun control.  It’s not about homosexuality.  It’s not about Islam.  It’s not about America.  It’s about evil.  Humanity suffers today because evil is real.”  God’s enemy Satan—and therefore our enemy—is the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).  That is exactly what he did in Orlando.

Darkness is increasing in our nation.  Division is abounding at every level; violence is escalating at an alarming rate.  Before Orlando, mass shootings were occurring with such frequency that they were getting less media coverage and less of our time.  This act of violence, however, caught our attention.  Not only was it the worst mass shooting in America’s history and the deadliest act of terror in our country since 9/11, but the nature of the act was especially dark.

As the Church our response must be, in the spirit of Joel 2, to return to the Lord with all our hearts “with fasting and weeping and mourning” for our nation (v. 12).  What darker evil needs to befall us before we begin to weep before porch and altar and cry out, “Spare Your people, O Lord!”  Many of us are familiar with the Lord’s response to Solomon as he dedicated the completed temple, “’If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land’” (2 Chron. 7:14).  Are we doing this, Church?  We don’t do it just once; our intercession is an ongoing necessity.

I am also reminded of the letters to the seven churches in the beginning of Revelation.  I encourage you to read and meditate on Revelation 2-3.  If there is any question, Jesus is very clear about what we as the Body of Christ need to repent of:  having lukewarm hearts, finding satisfaction in our wealth instead of in God, tolerating wickedness and various sins and losing sight of our First Love. Pretty much every church representation—what we consider “liberal” and “conservative”—seems to be covered.  Christians are quick to point a finger at which denomination, church or individual’s sins are greater and who needs to do the repenting.  But humility begins with me.  Prayer and seeking God begin with me.  Confession and repentance begin with me.

Third, persecution of the Church in our nation is coming quickly.  The Orlando shootings have a particularly double-edged sword because, based on media-generated discussion that followed, the event has the potential to fuel and accelerate the persecution of the Church.  The world doesn’t acknowledge a spiritual enemy, and it is looking for someone to blame.  Christ-followers who stand for obedience to God’s Word and His transforming power are being equated with radical Islamic terrorists.  The good news is that in God’s reality, persecution of the Church results in the advancement of His Kingdom.  History tells us that persecution can be the match to the wildfire of the spreading of His Word.

Are we ready for this, Church?  To be honest, I’m not sure that I am—who wants to be persecuted?—but I want to be ready.  We can prepare by filling our lamps with oil (Matt. 25:1-13) and spending time growing in intimacy with the man Christ Jesus.  Jesus also directly offers encouragement to the suffering Church in Revelation 2-3.  We must daily set our gaze on Him and set our hearts to persevere so that we will not be offended in the time of testing.

Beloved, let us allow the tragedy in Orlando to awaken us and sober us.  We must be moved to new levels of love and compassion, humility and repentance, intimacy and perseverance.  Our Bridegroom is coming.  We must make ourselves ready.

Plans for Deliverance

Deliverer. . . For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? —Esther 4:14

God always has a plan to deliver. In fact, the very name of Jesus (Y’shua) means “God will deliver.” But, God desires partnership. He wants to deliver with us. The Bible is filled with such partners of God: Noah, Moses, Deborah, and Gideon, to name a few.

Beloved, as our nation rages, it is time to partner with the Lord. It is time to rise up out of passivity and report for duty for the very image of God is being defiled. The gay marriage law, new transgender legislation and various other laws and policies on the horizon all distort and confuse God’s created order. We are losing a right vision of who we are and whose we are. And, where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint (Proverbs 29:18).

We see the casting off of restraint all around us, most recently in the mass shootings that have taken place. In Genesis 9:6, God forbids murder because we have been created in God’s image. Yes, we are quickly losing all awe and gratitude for the great honor of being image bearers.

Outpost has been called for such a time as this to partner with the Lord to deliver the sexually and relationally broken. We have been called to come alongside the Holy Spirit as He restores God’s broken image within them.

In doing this, we need your help. Our financial giving has been significantly down over that last few months. If this financial trend continues, we will have to make significant cuts to our staff and programming. This is an hour when we need more, not less. Will you partner with us as we partner with the Lord in the critical work of Outpost Ministries?

Freedom Run 5K

Freedom Run 5K

Please join Twin Cities Justice House of Prayer and Outpost Ministries for our Freedom Run 5K.  Walkers and kids are welcome in our 2.5K!  This year’s proceeds will go toward supporting individual Prayer Room & Outpost staff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016, rain or shine!

5:30-6:30 Check–In / 6:30 PM Race / Followed by BBQ & Awards

Olivet United Methodist Church

3620 43rd Ave N

Robbinsdale, MN 55422

Registration: $50

There are three ways to join us: 

  • Run or walk in the Freedom Run!

If you plan to donate $50 towards your own registration, REGISTER NOW.

If you plan to find sponsors to donate on your behalf, REGISTER HERE.  A downloadable SPONSORSHIP PLEDGE FORM is available to help you keep track of your sponsors. Sponsors can donate by cash or check (made payable to TCJHOP) or DONATE ONLINE.  We request all sponsorship donations be collected and turned in on or before the day of the event. 

More questions?  CONTACT US

Train Up a Child

paper familyMaybe you have heard of the recent child-rearing fad: gender neutral parenting. In this non-directive approach, children are raised in a gender neutral environment—no “boys” colors or “girls” toys. They are left with the paramount responsibility of choosing the gender they feel most comfortable identifying with later in childhood or in adolescence. Boundaries and limitations are balked at—boys can wear girl’s clothes and vice-versa. There are no distinctions.

This is not God’s way. God invented distinction, and He called it good: Creator and created, light and dark, male and female. Distinction is what separates God’s design for His creation from paganism.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” In the Bible, parents are exhorted to train their children, and children long for such instruction. What a heavy burden it is for a child to name oneself. My heart grieves for these children who are longing for the blessing of their gender from Mom and Dad. Minus the intervention of Jesus, they will struggle well into adulthood, trying to find the way they should go.

And so we must stand in the gap. I exhort you, Beloved, BLESS AND AFFIRM the gender of every child you encounter. You can say things like, to a little girl, “What a pretty dress you are wearing. You’re so beautiful!” Or, “Girls are awesome!” To a little boy, “I love the tower you built. Boys rock!” Or, “What you just did was very manly.” These little boys and girls need the voice of the Church right now—yours and mine together—to champion them.