Why Does Outpost Speak to Churches?

I love when Outpost gets to speak to churches and ministries. It’s a great opportunity to connect with believers and to help them navigate difficult questions and topics. In the past three months, we’ve been invited to speak at two churches. One event was a full Distinctions seminar, and one was a youth leaders training.

Why do we do this, though? What does talking with churches have to do with Outpost? I believe that speaking to churches fulfills our mission statement beautifully.

Encounter God: We at Outpost want people to experience God’s grace and kindness as we talk about difficult topics. God knows when to comfort and when to confront. Before every speaking engagement, I always pray that He will do what is best for each person who is listening. It is not our job to convince anybody about anything, but simply to present the truth and love that God speaks. Through this, each person can encounter God and hear what He wants to say.

Equip the Church: I find great joy in helping the Church be the Church. I love hearing stories from those who attend our seminars and events. Even if there is still uncertainty, people express having more peace and confidence as they approach biblical identity and sexuality. We long to see the Body of Christ be the place where no one shies away from pain, brokenness, and confusion. Unfortunately, the Church has a terrible record in this area, often being perceived as “bigoted” and judgmental. Our desire is to help churches and individuals navigate LGBTQ+ issues. However, navigating those issues requires love, respect, a hunger for truth, and a hunger for transformation of identity in all people. Sharing our experiences and stories provides a roadmap for doing just that.

Establish Outposts of Restorative Community: We want to see spaces where people can come in whatever condition and seek Jesus together. All of us, regardless of our background, are broken. It does not matter if you “identify” as this or that, or even if you have (as far as you know) never struggled in the areas of identity and sexuality. Everyone needs the Gospel, and everyone needs to work it into their lives by the Holy Spirit. This is a crucial aspect of the Gospel: Jesus only came to heal the sick, and He cannot help you if you believe you are fine. The reality is, you and I aren’t fine unless God comes into your life. That’s why Outpost was so critical to my healing journey. I needed a place where I could share just how messed up I felt, where I could be received in love and be pointed to Jesus. All of us can, and need to, find places to pursue God together, especially in the areas of greatest struggle or hurt.

This is why we speak to churches and ministries. This is why I love when churches ask us to walk alongside them. And this is why I love when individuals take initiative to reach out and get us connected to their congregation. In the end, it is an opportunity for believers to apply the Gospel, for His glory and for the ultimate good of all people.

I invite you to pray and consider how our ministry can walk alongside your church. It would be our pleasure to help you and your local body of believers to minister to those who are struggling, or to talk with youth or youth leaders about understanding God’s design for true life. May you be blessed as you look to Jesus for life!

Of Robes and Kings

Shadow image of a nativity scene. Mary, Joseph and the manger in the middle front with animals flanking the stable. In the background, we see the outline of Bethlehem to the left and the wise men on their camels to the right.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory,

glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14 (ESV)

Dear Friends,

For the last month, I’ve been studying the book of Esther. On this read-through, something new was pointed out to me. Near the end of chapter 6, Mordecai is honored by the king. He experiences a transformation of his appearance, which leads to a transformation of his position. He is dressed in the king’s robes, placed on the king’s horse, and taken on a parade of the city. Anyone who saw him would not be seeing Mordecai alone, but would also see the king he served.

In the ancient world, people knew the king was coming because of the robes he wore and the insignia on his horse or carriage. The king’s face was not necessarily known in the same way as we know our world leaders today, the era of images and screens. Mordecai was transformed from his humble position to one of honor and prestige, due to his new robes.

Our King, Jesus, did the opposite of Mordecai, taking off the robes and trappings of honor and prestige, replacing them with the most humble robes of all: a baby, a servant, a sacrifice. How amazing is this transformation? How is it that God became a man and lived a life like ours? How did the all-powerful, all-knowing, always present God of the universe fit into that tiny, vulnerable, precious baby born one night in Bethlehem?

Most amazing to me is that Jesus undertook this transformation to secure something on our behalf. Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection grant us a new appearance and position. Those who follow Jesus are a new creation, robed not in our rags of sin, but in the righteousness of Christ. Wherever we go, people see not just us, but also the King we serve.

This is the gospel we proclaim at TCJHOP-Outpost: Jesus has come to bring us from death to life. Our new robes are not like Mordecai’s, only present for a day. Rather, our new robes are the new identity we have in Jesus. And whatever our struggle, hurt, or pain, God is there with us, leading us further and further into that new life. How wondrous and amazing! And all due to the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.

I hope you can take time this December to encounter again the great mystery of the season. And may you experience more of the new identity imparted to you. May this season bring you encouragement and strength from the God who exchanged His robes for ours, that we might become righteousness. Merry Christmas!

Signed, Wendy

The Tangible Hope of the Gospel

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…”

Ephesians 1:17-20

I love getting to help teach our biblical sexuality and identity seminar, Distinctions. Whether we are speaking to pastors and ministers, church youth groups, parents, or congregations, it is fun to unpack what the Word of God has to say about our identity and how that leads us to love others well based on the truth of the Bible. However, in our ministry walking alongside those struggling with sexual and relational brokenness, there is an underlying question that we must address.

“Is there any hope for me?”

I firmly believe all we teach, and yet I have struggled with hope throughout my own healing journey. When I feel like I have taken a step forward, it seems that many times I quickly do something, or something happens, that makes me feel like I took three steps back. I believe God has something for me, yet I have felt abandoned or lost at times. And there have been times where the Bible has felt unhelpful and dry. Talk about a messy process! During my three years working at this ministry, I have heard similar stories from participants time after time. I also know that those in the LGBTQ+ community accuse Christians and ministries like ours of offering false hope and promises that will lead to horrific consequences. That raises another equally important question: what does it mean for us to have hope in God and His promises?

Recently, I have been listening to a lot of sermons by the late Tim Keller on biblical hope. Dr. Keller notes that while our English word “hope” connotes uncertainty (“I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow.”), the Bible’s definition of “hope” is a joyous certainty in Jesus’ finished work that shapes our lives. Human beings, Keller argues, are inherently hope-based creatures, and our believed-in future shapes how we live our life now and how we see the world. In our own pain and darkness, in a world that increasingly seeks to snuff out the light of the Gospel, how can we live into the hope that the Bible talks about?

The Ephesians passage above gives us the answer: the Holy Spirit must open our hearts to receive and to know the hope to which Christians have been called (v. 18). This is not, however, merely correct doctrine: it is rooted in the experience of relationship with God as He truly is (v. 17). If I am not relationally connecting with God, tangibly receiving His love, and feeling His presence, the result is simple: the hope offered in the Bible stays abstract and doesn’t help me when I am deeply hurting. As I encounter God more and more, I begin to remember the hope of the Gospel when I am tempted to despair or I feel that God is absent. His light shines through my perceived darkness and pain. It is there I learn to abide in Christ and rejoice.

This hope in Christ is what we at Outpost, and all Christians, are called to. We are not called to try and shove our beliefs down peoples’ throats. Rather, we are called to shown how wonderful God is and how a personal relationship with Him far outweighs what culture or legalistic religion tries to offer. But if we are not experiencing and living out of the hope of the Gospel, we don’t have anything tangible to offer those who don’t yet know Jesus. After all, who leaves what they know for a vague promise? When we experience the love of Christ for ourselves, we more naturally overflow in our ability to love people where they are at, while still holding to the truth of God’s Word and His design for sexuality and identity.

If you are a follower of Jesus, I urge you to seek personal connection with Him more and more. Experience the hope God has called you to through the Gospel and seek the Holy Spirit’s help to be renewed! If you are not a follower of Jesus, I urge you to see if Jesus is who He said He was. Relationship with Him provides hope that goes beyond anything this world offers. For all of us, I pray we would know God more personally and live in the life-shaping hope He offers through Jesus. Amen.

Do You Want to Change?

Reflections on 30 years at Outpost

“Do you want to change?” This was the question my pastor asked me in the spring of 1988. What I thought was a sexual question turned out to be a spiritual one. It was the question of repentance, as with the New Testament word for “change of heart.” In 30 of my 35 years of change since then, I’ve been privileged to serve at Outpost in various capacities. I started in 1993 as “Associate Director” and wrote these words for Outpost News in 1994: “We simply want to assist those who are already God’s children to work out their salvation in fear and trembling in regards to the areas of homosexuality and personal spiritual growth.” This hasn’t changed!

There are a number of transitions however, that I’d like us to remember. In September 1996 I wrote in my newsletter that the month “marked a new beginning for Outpost. There was a significant change in leadership within the organization with three out-going board members leaving the board. This also translated into … a promotion! I am now the Executive Director of Outpost, Inc. … Bringing an organization through transitions such as we are experiencing is a real crisis according to the famous Chinese definition: their word signifies both danger and opportunity. I also realize that … transitional leaders, like interim pastors, often move on after the storm clears.” (DAN’S WORLD, October 1996) Things are still in transition in 2023!

I took a look back at 2001, which was another transitional period for us. We moved our office to a bank vault and found out later that the very first Outpost office also contained a bank vault! We jokingly referred to it as “Your secret is safe with us!” Unfortunately, 2001 was also the opposite of a bankroll for us, as we struggled intensely with finances that year. We closed down the Joshua Fellowship program and lost a key volunteer leader in Living Waters, forcing the unexpected closure of that program for the year. Surely, “Outpost is dead,” was the threat of the enemy. We had shriveled up and nearly died. But like the parable of the sower in John 12, after the seed was buried, it burst forth in new life. We started a “Noontime Prayer Break,” where we invited folks to come in for prayer from noon to one each day.  And then 2002 and 2003 brought more resurrection life to Outpost. Prayer increased, Joshua Fellowship was re-tooled and Living Waters restarted. We were “back in the saddle” once again.

In 2008, following a year of eye surgeries, my tenure as CEO changed with my vision loss. By 2011 I could no longer function effectively and stepped aside to make room for a new CEO, Nate Oyloe. With a new “operating system” our Board catapulted the ministry into a period of tremendous growth. By the end of 2015 a new kind of “death unto resurrection” occurred and Outpost merged into a new organization called Twin Cities Justice House of Prayer (TCJHOP). Prayer was a major focus, as we had our prayer room open over 40 hours a week. Outpost had grown to four regular support ministries: Joshua Fellowship, CalebSpirit, Elijah Company and Living Waters. And then a worshiping congregation brought it all together. We had 17 paid staff members and filled up a waning congregation’s church building with spiritual vitality throughout the work week.

The enemy had designs on us. Through a series of unrelated events, our staff was compromised in different ways. We seemed to lose our focus, even on the board level. And one by one staff members left. We are now down to four, a level we haven’t seen in nearly 20 years! It is a time for mourning, yes, but also for planting. When the seed falls into the earth and dies, new life springs forth in abundance.

We’ve seen this happen time and time again in our history in various ways. Sin had almost ruined us when our former executive director, Jeff Ford, decided to go back to gay life in the early 1980s. We started getting “famous” with our TV ad campaign in 1997, only to be pulled off-task. Then, we saw financial distress with the fall of the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001, the medical loss of vision for me in 2008-2011, and distracted vision in the years 2016-2020. We have “fallen into the earth and died” many times in our past. The enemy hates us and our mission, so he works overtime to stop us. Yet God will prevail. I believe Outpost’s best years lie ahead!

In these times, I often revisit the vision and scriptures God used in my early life to help me focus and stay on task. One of them is Galatians 6:1, “If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” This is what we do at Outpost Ministries. We are not here to get famous or make a profit. We’re not here to talk to the media who hate our message and will do anything to stop us. We are here to walk alongside folks who’ve decided that Jesus is worth all the suffering and struggle we go through in order to follow him.

In the 1970s, well prior to my involvement here at Outpost, Nancy Honeytree wrote a song called “Live for Jesus.” It was recorded by multiple Christian artists, including Evie. The point of the song is clear and simple: “Live for Jesus, that’s what matters. And when other houses crumble, mine is strong!” This is referring to Luke 6 where Jesus is teaching and calling people to follow him. He says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” In a word, we are here to call people to trust Jesus for healing and to obey him in all things. Discipleship. That’s who we are. That’s what we do. It’s in our DNA as an organization, dating back to our inception in the mid-1970s. And it’s what Outpost will continue to do after me, for many years to come.

Thank you for the many years of support and fellowship in this ministry. Please come for coffee and pie on September 16th to celebrate what God has done!

The Desperation for New Birth

“To all who did receive [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God …Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’”

John 1:12-13, 3:5-7 (NIV)

Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the Restored Hope Network’s HOPE Conference. It was a terrific time of testimonies and teaching centered on the Gospel of Grace and its impact on our sexuality and gender. During the conference, one of the presenters said something that pulled me up short.

One of the main themes of the conference was the history of the transgender movement, its roots, and its ideologies. Within this discussion, one of the presenters stated how all of us are desperate for new birth. One of the draws of transgenderism is that the world tells those struggling with gender identity that they can be reborn! “Get enough surgeries, take enough hormones and puberty blockers, and then you will finally be happy and become who you truly are inside.” This message is proclaimed from all sides and is rampant among our culture, particularly with today’s youth and on social media.

This statement about our desire for new birth really struck a chord with me. While I personally have not struggled with gender confusion, I certainly have experienced much pain over the years with my unwanted same-sex romantic/erotic attractions and acting-out sexual behaviors. In seeing the disconnect between my feelings/false desires and God’s design/call on my life, I cry out, “God, make me new!” I believe followers of Jesus, regardless of the particularities of our struggles, can relate with the heartfelt tension of the already/not-yet of our lives. However, I am reminded of the hope Jesus has for us now, not merely in some distant future.

The Gospel writer John uses the imagery of birth throughout his account of Jesus’ life. Our birth is not something we willed, it is by grace and the will of another that we came to be. So it is with our new birth. We cannot remake ourselves as the world claims, but we can be made new through the gracious and costly intervention of God. However, not only is our new birth in Christ guaranteed for eternity, He has already brought it about. He IS our new life through the Holy Spirit! While we cannot give ourselves life, Jesus is the way to new life, both for now and forever. His promise and work is the new birth we all truly long for and need. May we receive His new life and rest in the assurance of being children of God!

Streams of Living Water

“I can’t explain it, but somehow our identity is inextricably linked to our parents.”

Dennis Rainey

In the fall of 2000, I talked to a friend who was doing Living Waters at his church. At the time, he was struggling with relational wholeness, and for him, the struggle was with his sexuality. After talking with him and hearing how the Spirit was changing him, I sensed that Living Waters was worth a try for me.

I grew up as an only child of two working parents, with an active imagination, ample free time, and a knack for exploring. My father had a coffee table full of pornography, and the material was a regular way for me to find escape and pleasure. Addiction to pornography began at an early age, with sexual activity starting in my mid-teens. Compounding my struggles, I was molested at a young age by a babysitter and another older adult. I recognize now that my father didn’t know how to be present with me and so attention, identity, belonging, and affirmation seemed to elude me. As I became an adult, I chose to continue with what felt good. I focused on working, buying a lifestyle, paying attention to my looks, taking drugs, smoking, and making sure I was dating the most attractive women in front of me. These behaviors spiraled into isolation within myself and I never allowed anyone to get close. Sexual addiction had become a sentence and was getting worse. Thoughts of other pleasures and instant fixes rolled through my thoughts and imagination. Same-sex attraction and fantasies seemed to be a next step. All I saw was living a life where I chose to do whatever made me feel good.

The testimony of my friend changed all that. I realized I had to find something that would fill the void I was recognizing in myself. Joining Living Waters at Outpost and wanting to change was the beginning of what is now a lifelong journey.

Upon diving into the work, reading the books, and partaking in the groups, I saw how choices I had made in my past still affected me. I had to go deep into areas that, for me, were hard to confront. Idolatry, covetousness, and narcissism were a few of the traits that needed to be addressed. I realized that I was either unable to make decisions or only made decisions that made me feel better. Mother wounds and father wounds were recognized over the years as well. I saw how these wounds were not necessarily my parents’ fault, but who I was and how I reacted to their actions left a mark. I saw how past trauma left me in a constant fight or flight mode. Flight was my choice, and symptoms of PTSD in me were quite evident. Being constantly on guard left me always on the defensive. Guilt and shame were my identity.

Thankfully, through many seasons of Living Waters, my relationship with God The Father became something that I could trust. Trusting and saying “yes” to Him opened doors that I could have never imagined and am eternally grateful for. Each season brings more revelation, bringing me to a level of now walking in who He is and who I am in Christ.

For me, Living Waters is not just a program to complete and then move on to the next self-help group. It is not a service to attend on Sunday, a book to read, or an event to take part in. Instead, Living Waters is a time to truly take responsibility for my actions, bring my hurts to God, and seek healing. Knowing these truths and knowing Him is something many Christians confess today, but we can miss an important part of relationship with the Father: the deep healing of our past. We are no longer who we were, but we miss who He has for us to become. Living Waters is a place to start embracing that journey.

The truth is, Living Waters is for all believers! It is a safe place to engage in the healing process. Healing from past hurts, trauma, and abuse is His specialty.  Together, we deal on the front line with the roots of false identity and fear, which we all have. Typically, these come from hiding and are the symptoms to be faced and walked through to receive His healing.

We all have the same sin Adam and Eve had, and we receive the same consequences. It looks something like this:

We disobey instruction -> We feel shame and hide from God -> We blame someone else for our actions -> Our relationship with God is broken -> We experience long-term consequences -> Life goes from bad to worse -> Repeat

The choice we make is whether we will continue to repeat the cycle, or if we will break the chain! And we can break the chain, due to the ONE difference: we have Jesus Christ! With Jesus and through a great church, mentors, friends, and men and women who work at humility, honesty, honor, healing, and hope, we are the body of Christ. We can walk with one another into our true identity.

Will you join me and look forward to more transformation? Will you be present with the loving, faithful Father? Will you join me in saying heartily “YES!”

1 John 4:17 “Because as He is, so are we in the world.”

The 2023-24 Living Waters program will be held this year on Saturday mornings starting on September 23. We will update the Living Waters page as the class plans and application process are finalized, so check back for all the details.

From Fear to Courage

The Joshua Fellowship Journey

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9 (ESV)

Dear Friends,

Joshua Fellowship (JF) is Outpost’s support group for young men struggling with same sex attraction, sex addiction, and other forms of sexual and relational brokenness.  It is named from the words of the Lord to Joshua in Joshua 1:9. These are words that all the young men in our program desperately need to hear and believe if they are going to make it through the battles ahead of them in life. They are not taking hold of a literal promised land, but rather promises that God has made to each of them. The story of Joshua can inspire them to go after those promises. JF’s summer masculinity course, which takes place every June through August, focuses especially on these themes and provides opportunities to experience victory in the face of challenge in very practical and physical ways.

Fear and Doubt

When I joined JF over 10 years ago, I was struggling in many seemingly independent areas of my life: career and finances, familial relationships, spiritual disciplines, physical fitness, and of course my sexuality. I joined JF in the fall, but it was during the summer masculinity course that I made the greatest strides in my healing journey. Over the course of the summer, I was stretched and challenged to achieve things that I’d previously been unwilling to even attempt. Over time I realized I had allowed failures in my past to teach me a very powerful lie: “I can’t.” As I chose to trust God and my leaders with my self-doubt and fear, I found myself able to take measured risks in the supportive and encouraging environment of the group. By the end of the summer, I was able to boldly declare “I can!” as I took on one of the most intimidating physical challenges I had ever faced.

The Well-Worn Path

The only thing more fulfilling than experiencing victory in your own life is leading others into victory alongside you. In 2021 I took the helm of JF as its coordinator. I’ve been incredibly blessed by the opportunity to share the hope and healing that God imparted to me through past leaders of the program with the next generation of JF participants. I love watching the various individuals who make up a summer cohort slowly evolve into an incredibly tight-knit and unified group by the end of the course. The shared experiences and mutual encouragement in the face of struggle forms a strong bond. This bond has resulted in many lasting friendships for myself and others who have gone through the program over the years.

Be Strong and Courageous!

The summer masculinity course, Strive, is returning this June. It is open to any young men aged 18 to 35 who want to take hold of the strength and courage they were created for and achieve victory in their fight for holy sexuality. Strive is structured to give participants as many opportunities as possible to confront their doubts and fears and to experience support, encouragement, and overcoming of struggles in very tangible ways. The spiritual disciplines of worship, prayer, scripture memory and meditation are paired with practical life disciplines and physical exercise to facilitate accelerated personal and spiritual growth. Are you discouraged by your ongoing sexual struggle? Do you feel trapped in unhealthy relationships or a dissatisfying job? Is your life dominated by passivity, fear, or doubt? Strive is designed to help you through these struggles and more.

Crossing the Jordan

As the Lord promised to Joshua, I now say to you: “Be Strong and Courageous!” It is time to leave the wanderings of doubt and insecurity behind and to courageously forge a path forward into freedom and strength. There is hope for healing on the other side of the Jordan. Your sexual and relational brokenness and identity insecurity is not too much for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to conquer. Will you will submit to His instruction? Will you follow the well-worn path of the generations of overcomers before you? Will you join the men of JF and Strive on this journey out of doubt and fear and into strength and courage? I truly hope you will.

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God’s Great Love

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

        his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

        great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

        “therefore I will hope in him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24 (ESV)

This past week, my Bible study readings were all about the great love God has for each one of us. I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not know about God’s love for me. Still, this set of readings and reflections caught me up short. Two Bible stories I have known for years came alive in a new way.

First came the story of Hosea and Gomer. Hosea was a prophet of God, and God instructed him to marry and remain faithful to a woman – Gomer – who would be repeatedly unfaithful to him. Hosea’s marriage was a physical picture of God’s faithfulness to and love for His people, Israel. In chapter 3, Hosea has to buy Gomer back from slavery. He does so willingly, redeeming her debt and restoring their relationship.

Second was the story of Israel being given the law. The writer focused on the verse where God says “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5, CSB). God is not jealous of Israel, but jealous for Israel. God knows that no other thing in all creation will provide what the people need. God’s great love leads Him to remind them to worship only Yahweh, that they may be satisfied recipients of God’s faithful love for generations.

As I reflected on these stories together, the eyes of my heart were opened anew. I was overcome with the sense of just how great God’s love is for me. There are hardly words to describe the fullness of that moment. It was truly stunning.

God’s love for me is so great that He will pay whatever it takes, willingly, to bring me back to Himself. I may pursue other gods by giving my time, talents, and treasure to fleeting things. Yet God continues in loving me. God goes so far as to willingly pay off my debt that I might be redeemed and restored to relationship with Him. And this willingness comes directly from that great love. The God who created me and knows me best also knows that I will not be fully satisfied by any created thing, no matter how good that thing is. Only relationship with God is able to bring me an abundant life that Jesus spoke of in John 10:10.

This abundant life—alternatively rendered as “life to the full” in the NIV—is a life that is fully redeemed, healed, and restored. God is not in the business of doing things half-way. Rather, God is in the business of taking us from death to life. That is, God heals our hurts, repairs our brokenness, and restores us to wholeness.

In my life, God’s restoration came once He revealed the great fear I had of being fully known by other people. It turned out that I truly believed that if people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me, and they certainly couldn’t love me. I spent many years hiding my true thoughts and feelings from everyone around me. Sometimes I even hid them from myself. It was too painful to face my hurts, so I tucked them away under lock and key. To the outside world, I presented a false version of myself. This false version was always okay, had everything together, and could always find you the right answer for whatever question came up.

Of course, our pain never does stay completely hidden. Eventually my pain came out in the form of a major depressive episode. I could no longer avoid having my true thoughts and feelings known by others. Thankfully, God had given me a church, a Bible study group, and a house of prayer filled with people ready and willing to love me like God does in the midst of my pain. Through many hours of sitting with God and with God’s people, I was able to really hear God’s great love for me. And that love poured into all the hurt places, washing away the pain and putting the broken pieces back together again.

Through the healing process, I also learned the goodness of sharing my true thoughts and feelings with those who love me. While I still struggle in this area, the experience of being truly known and loved by God and God’s people has brought me freedom to walk in a more abundant life than before. And I look forward to continuing to heal as I am rooted more and more in God’s love.

This hope that I now have—that wholeness and abundance are God’s intention for me—is the hope we offer to everyone who comes to Outpost. No matter the pain, no matter the struggle, no matter the brokenness, God’s love for us gives us the hope of healing. Even life-dominating issues like unwanted same-sex erotic/romantic attraction and confusion about identity are within God’s power to heal. Lamentations 3:22-24 provide one of my favorite summaries of God’s love. God’s love and mercies are new every morning. They never cease or come to an end. God is faithful to bring about what He has promised: life to the full. This is truly good news.

Maybe this is hard for you to believe right now. I know I spent many years not really believing that this good news was for me. Let me encourage you: this good news is for everyone. Jesus reminds us in John 3:16-17 of this fact:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.” (NASB)

The world is not everyone except you and me. The world is everyone including you and me. This is the truth of the Gospel. God loves each and every one of us. He created you, knitting you together intentionally, and is calling you to follow Him. May we each be willing to receive this great, unceasing love and allow God to heal our hurts, repair our brokenness, and restore our lives to the full.

Join us for more stories of God’s great love at the spring banquet on Saturday, March 25. Come hear how God is moving in the lives of our participants. Be encouraged by their testimony and by an evening of fellowship, worship, and vision-casting. Registration is open through Tuesday, March 21 on the events page.

Seeing Ourselves Through the Eyes of Hope*

We do not see things as they are.

We see things as we are.

– Dad

I recently came upon the above quote in A Father’s Book of Wisdom, a book given to me by a close friend. The “Dad” is the father of H. Jackson Brown, Jr., the book’s writer. I had to read these lines several times because they turned my thinking, and forced me to discern their meaning. There was something there, but what was it?

“Dad” gets points for candor and truth-telling. At least by my account. And it is the kind of truth-telling that invites the hearer to take a moment and do a personal inventory. “Wait a minute here, what am I seeing and why do I see this in this light?” Persuading people to take a personal look often elicits a strong and negative response. Why? Perception is reality—until it passes through due diligence!

Thus the difficulty with which the pro-LGBTQ+ world hears our message of hope for change and healing. Their reality is based on their perception of “the way things are,” just as our reality is based on our perceptions. We all see things from a faulty understanding sometimes, and not necessarily the way they are in reality. And, for us to convince someone otherwise, we need to enter their world, or at the very least, try to understand just exactly how it is that they see things. Theologically, this is what the Incarnation of Christ was all about: God becoming human in order to save us from ourselves. Missionally, this is our method. Like Paul, we try to become all things to all people that in so doing, some might be saved.

Point One is getting people to understand that reality may be something quite beyond their momentary perception. This issue of seeing things the way we are applies not only to evangelism and persuasion techniques regarding LGBTQ+ issues. Everyone does this. Indeed, Christians struggling with any number of issues can get “stuck” on this point, particularly if they are attempting to overcome a sin because of their deeply held spiritual convictions. Many find it hard to “recover” from their illness, addiction or problem, or to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA) because they see themselves incompletely. Perhaps they see themselves as incapable of change. Maybe they see their SSA or other condition as unchangeable. We, as truth-tellers, have a responsibility to inform their perception, to give them information which will give them the option of changing their opinions or actions which were previously based on an incomplete understanding of themselves. Much of this “information” about themselves should come from their Creator. He made them, let Him tell them what He had in mind! We simply remind people of God’s words.

All in all, I think it is a pretty bold move to ask someone to set aside his or her self-perception, in order to try to see things from a different angle. It’s like asking a New Yorker to move to Irian Jaya and live in a grass hut. Or like asking a stone-age native from Borneo to move to Beverly Hills. Either way, there will be self-conscious apprehension and high anxiety. Yet this is what we do at Outpost! We ask people to step out of their reality and see things from a completely different perspective. It’s a whole new world, and everyone feels off balance (especially at first). People want equilibrium. They like things the way they always were. (Not that that’s possible!)

I recall a joke about church politics that might shed some light on why things are as hard as they are: “The seven last words of the Church: We’ve never done it that way before!” People tell this joke to poke fun at how things (don’t) change in churches. But this is merely an extension of human nature. We are all admittedly uncomfortable about change. Any change. A New Testament picture of children learning offers a bit of insight. In Galatians 3:24, there was a hired hand whose sole job was to get the kids to school. Job Title: tutor (in the NASB). Tools: horse whip. He would literally beat the kids, driving them like cattle to school. The conventional thinking of the day was, if there were no tutor, the kids would dawdle and rebel and never quite make it to school. The children’s attitude is in all of us. Why would we want to change? Fishing and skipping rope are much more fun than school! And school would change us.

This phenomenon is very interesting on the flip side of this issue as well. Have you ever met someone who, in all his enthusiasm for daring feats of amazement, says things like, “It’s as easy as falling off a log” or “It’s like riding a bike.” Or, (and this one especially grates on me when I’m having trouble) “Hey, if I can do it, anyone can!” They easily exude confidence in others, when they see it accomplished in their own life. They see others the way they see themselves. They truly see the other being just like themselves, not so much the way the other one is in reality.

This attitude, however, may actually encourage us to learn the new thing. It may inspire hope in us that we can actually change when we feel hopeless about change. The lightness of heart may make the prospect of change really positive. Change will then be seen as a good thing, rather than something to fear or disdain.

So, how can we embrace optimistic hope about our own ability and willingness to change? How are we to engender that hope in others? Let me leave you with this scripture:

Hebrews 10:23-25: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, … encouraging one another; and [this] all the more….” (NASB)

We are given this injunction by the writer of the book of Hebrews as encouragement to persevere. We shall overcome!

*This article first appeared in Dan’s World, July 1998. It has been abridged and updated. Used with permission.

The Fellowship of CalebSpirit

But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.”

Numbers 14:24, ESV, emphasis added

In our continuing series of “This is Outpost,” I’ve been granted the privilege to tell you about our ministry among older men seeking wholeness in regard to their sexuality and relationships, CalebSpirit. This group got its start in about 2003 after the 2002 reorganization of Joshua Fellowship (JF). JF was the only ministry group Outpost had when I first came in the late 1980s as a participant. CalebSpirit started as a group study of a book called Men Pursuing Purity by Andrew Comiskey. At the outset, we just called the group “Men Pursuing Purity,” or MPP for short. Once we completed that book study however, we felt the name wasn’t quite right. But what to name ourselves? For lack of a better name, we simply went with “Men Over 30,” or MO3 for short, in keeping with our 3-character acronym precedent. Eventually, we “aged out” of MO3, since most of us were well past 50. Another name change came about then by popular demand. After doing a study of the “oldies but goodies” in the Old Testament–and taking a cue from Joshua Fellowship–we settled upon CalebSpirit based upon Numbers 14:24, quoted above.

Ironically, CalebSpirit is more of a fellowship than Joshua Fellowship. We follow a rather simple plan each week: welcome, book discussion, prayer time, and closing fellowship time. Each fall, we typically choose a book or curriculum, have a kick-off retreat to get started, then follow the weekly schedule. That’s how the school year goes, generally. We toss in a few other social events like a movie night and a Christmas party. In the summer months, we often do outdoor activities like BBQ picnics, croquet tournaments, mini-golf, biking, kayaking, etc.

All these activities are designed to help us better relate to one another as men, for men will more typically connect by doing things together, especially while using the good of their masculine bodies. The connection happens “on the side” of the activity, rather than being the stated reason we get together. Through the years we’ve done some really wild things, like batting cage practice and disc golf. A funny thing happened on the disc golf course one time. We decided to go to a particular park and play. Turns out we “played through” (or rather, we LET play through) a national disc golf tournament. We had no idea that professional golfers were on the course with us until we finished our course. That made the Dairy Queen conversation afterward real lively!

From the very beginning of CalebSpirit we have opened the group up to men who don’t necessarily struggle with same-sex attraction (SSA), but who struggle with any identified sexual or relational brokenness issue. In fact, one of our early volunteers never struggled with SSA, but so identified with the typical Outpost participant that he worked with us for about 10 years before his untimely death in a farm accident. His sudden departure left an indelible mark on the lives of the current participants.

We are currently studying a book by Dane Ortlund called Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers. This book is a healing balm for battle-worn soldiers in the fight against sin and temptation. Our minds and hearts are being stretched to the limit to understand that Jesus “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet [is] without sin” (see Hebrews 4:15). Jesus enters the fray. His strength in overcoming temptation gives us encouragement to persevere. His presence in the trenches with us empowers us to walk in victory over the enemy of our souls.

Beyond our study together and intercession for each other, a real sense of belonging and togetherness is developing among us. These men do not have easy lives. Some are married and their marriages are difficult. Some are divorced. Some have never married and have become so used to the idea of being alone that connecting with anyone about anything feels awkward if not impossible. Even just having a group to go to the State Fair with can be a boost. Then there’s all the help we need with projects or moving or simply the ministry of presence during divorce proceedings. None of it is meant to be done alone.

Thank you for your generous support through giving and prayer for the ministries of Outpost! It is making a real difference in the lives of the men of CalebSpirit.

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