I’m Invited to a Same-Sex Wedding. Yes or No?

Same-Sex WeddingLet each be fully persuaded in his own mind. —Romans 13:5

There’s an ongoing buzz in the Christian community over whether or not believers should attend same-sex weddings. As buzz goes, this one’s awfully relevant, as more of us are facing this dilemma. Do I accept the invitation, even though I don’t believe in same sex marriage, or decline and risk alienating someone I deeply love?

As the old song goes, “Everybody’s talkin’.” Stephen Arterburn of New Life Ministries blogged at the Huffington Post that Jesus would definitely say yes to such an event, so we should go and do likewise. John Shore over at Crosswalk.com seems to agree, comparing refusal to attend a gay wedding to the sin of having a Pharisee’s attitude. Free Bible Study Lessons.com likewise says that we should accept the invitation, unless one or both of the partners getting married claims to be a Christian, in which case we should decline, while Candice Watters at Boundless.org gives the whole thing a thumbs down, claiming it’s unloving to condone what God condemns. Got Questions.org takes the same position as Watters: yes on loving gay friends and family; no on going to their weddings.

To cut to the chase, let me say that’s my position as well. A few years ago I wrote an article for The Christian Research Journal titled “Should Christians Attend Same-Sex Weddings?” (Click here to order the issue.) In this two-part piece, Rev. Michael F. Ross, an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church of America, took the “pro” position, arguing that he would attend a gay wedding provided both parties knew where he stood Biblically on homosexuality, as a show of love and respect. For my part, I voted “con,” contending that attendance at a wedding is a conscious and intentional act of celebration, not just a show of support, and therefore not a legitimate option unless you believe the wedding itself is a good thing. The article showed, along with those mentioned above, that even conservative believers are divided on this question. So I’d like to take some space today to better explain where I stand, and why.

Let’s do so by looking at the issue through the eyes of those getting married, then through the eyes of the believer, then the eyes of God, whose perspective trumps all else.

TRY TO SEE IT THEIR WAY

One of my favorite lines from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is “He jests at scars that never felt a wound.” In other words, a person can joke about something he’s never experienced, showing a huge lack of respect or empathy. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to make light of someone else’s feelings, whether I agree with them or not, and that’s doubly true if I have to make decisions they might find to be hurtful. And clearly, the decision not to attend a loved one’s wedding qualifies as one of those tough ones.

Try looking at it from the couple’s perspective. They’re no doubt in a relationship that’s very serious, very committed. Before deciding on marriage, they’ve thought the issue through, considered the way they feel about each other, weighed the nature and value of their relationship, and decided to form a union they hope will last a lifetime.

Yes, by Biblical standards, they’re wrong; the wedding itself is a ceremony solemnizing something that in God’s sight cannot be called a marriage. But to the couple involved (and to your loved one in particular, be that loved one a child, sibling, cousin or even parent) it’s dead serious, a joyful milestone they’re anticipating and wanting to share with the people they love the most.

They probably know you are a Bible-believing Christian who doesn’t condone homosexuality. But they’re also hoping you’ll put that aside for the sake of sharing their joy, supporting them in love, and being there for them because of who they are to you, despite what you believe. For them, this is a life changing event, one of their most significant moments, and having you there would mean so much.

A “Sorry, Cannot Attend” RSVP will almost certainly be hurtful, possibly devastating, and may in fact sound a death knell to your relationship with this person. Don’t underestimate that when considering how you’re going to respond.

SO WHY NOT ‘YES’?

Let’s look first at the believer’s relationship to either non-believers or to believers involved in ongoing, deliberate, significant sin.

Regarding non-believers, there’s nothing in Scripture indicating we shouldn’t have relationships with them. Jesus associated freely and notoriously with people of all sorts—notorious sinners like prostitutes and tax collectors included—showing no compunction about enjoying their company and being among them. (See for example Matthew 9:9-12; Matthew 11:19; Mark 2:16-17; Luke 15: 1-2; Luke 19:7.)

The question, then, is not whether we should have good relations with gay or lesbian family members. We can, should, and probably will. What’s at issue here is attendance at a wedding ceremony, ostensibly approved of and rejoiced over by those who come to it. Attendance means, to my thinking, more than loving support for the person(s) involved. It also means an offer of approval and blessing.

There’s the catch, and it’s not minor. Celebrating a loved one’s sin is a serious matter, no matter how deep the love or how important the loved one. To attend a wedding is to offer explicit support for the event itself, and that would constitute violation of Paul’s clear instructions to the Ephesians to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11), and his advice to Timothy to “neither be partakers of other men’s sins.” (1 Timothy 5:22)

Paul’s choice of wording here is not accidental. A “partaker,” according to the Strong’s translation of the Greek term involved, is “one who shares, partners, or comes into association with another’s activities.” And that makes attending a wedding you don’t really believe in very problematic indeed.

The question, then, boils down to this: Can I attend a homosexual wedding without making a clear statement of support, not only for the people involved, but for their union itself? Does my attendance constitute friendship and love only, or does it not also testify to approval and outright celebration?

I’d say it expresses approval, not just love. That’s what I believe attendance at a wedding always does, making it impossible for me to in good conscience show up.

For most other events involving a homosexual family member, showing up is an option. If there’s a party my family member comes to, my attendance is a statement of my love for him and others, not one of approval for this one part of his life. If we get together under virtually any other circumstances, I see no conflict with scripture or conscience. But to attend his ceremony would be to say, by my very presence, “I bless and support not only these people, but this event.” And that’s just too much.

It would also be too much if a Christian friend of mine asked me to attend his wedding if he united with a non-believer, in clear violation of 2 Corinthians 6:14. To be there would be tantamount to saying “I bless this” when, in fact, I couldn’t. Nor could I show up for the wedding of a Christian friend who dumped his wife for totally unscriptural reasons, then latched onto a younger model. Because an event is involved at which attendance equals approval. I see no way around this. If a thing is wrong, no matter how deeply bonded I am to the person involved, then while I’m allowed to love and interact with him, I cannot participate in anything expressing approval or support of the wrongdoing itself.

Some have raised the question of attending a wedding for two people who lived together prior to marrying, but that’s not a good comparison to make, since the wedding would be a correction, not a continuation, of the problem.

Others have suggested that if we attend non-believer’s weddings we’re condoning something that’s not Christ-centered, so why not attend a gay wedding as well?

Because the thing itself—a marriage between man and woman—is still inherently good, and worth celebrating. After all, I would gladly attend the commencement ceremony of a non-Christian college graduate because, even if he’s not living a Christ-centered life, his achievement is a good thing in and of itself. The same cannot be said for a marriage which is, in form and practice, clearly outside God’s will. So as hard as it may be to refuse, I still believe it reasonable to simply say, “I would never ask you to do something you don’t believe in, nor would I make that a litmus test of your love for me. So please don’t make this a litmus test of my love for you, either. We have a relationship; let’s keep it and respect our differences.”

BUT WHERE’S THE LOVE?

Despite all this some Christians feel it’s better to attend and maintain the bond, than to refuse coming and jeopardize a family relationship. I’m sympathetic to that viewpoint. If there’s any way to avoid a breach in the family, without violating our own conscience, then I’m all for it.

But in this case I just don’t see any wiggle room. Jesus’ own reference to marriage was unequivocal: “Have you not read that He who made them from the beginning made them male and female? For this cause man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Matthew 19:4)

The standard is clear: He who made them from the beginning created the martial bond to be independent, permanent and heterosexual. Removing the complimentary nature of it makes it something else—a committed relationship, perhaps, and one in which both parties love each other deeply. But not, per Biblical standards, a marriage. I simply can’t shake the conviction that attendance at a ceremony attempting to revise this standard is complicity in the revision itself, qualifying for the warning God issued through Jeremiah: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

That’s why I could not attend a same-sex wedding. If I were invited, I would probably say, feeling both sadness and conviction:

I would never ask you to do something which would violate your conscience. Please don’t ask me to violate mine. We have differences, but I hope and pray those differences won’t come between us as people, and that we can both respect each other enough to allow each other’s need to follow our conscience and principles.

So for what it’s worth, that’s where I’ve landed and, as Paul recommended in the verse from Romans quoted above, I’m fully persuaded, so that’s where I’ll stay.

This article was originally posted at joedallas.com and was reposted by permission. Copyright by Joe Dallas.

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Gender, Confusion, and Conversation, Part 2

confusionYOU are an image-bearer. Have you ever paused to consider this weighty theological truth?  Men and women have been given the most profound honor in all of creation: we are created to bear the image of God. We bear God’s image—who He is and how He interacts with the world—in our spirits, souls, and in our bodies as male and female. The enemy is working hard to remove God’s image from the earth by bringing about much confusion regarding gender and sexuality. As image-bearers, we have the privilege of speaking truth into this confusion. We can also take life-giving steps to bless and affirm the God-given gender identity of the children and teenagers in our spheres of influence.

Message #1: Gender is a Social Construct

In order to have life-giving conversations, it is helpful to understand a little of the world’s thinking. We interact with it every day. Overall, the world is communicating three messages. First, gender is a social construct. In other words, gender is a concept created and constructed by people. This philosophy is nothing new. It has been taught in women’s studies courses for decades, but it is now emphasized among mainstream educators and taught as early as kindergarten.

Message #2: Gender is Based on Feelings

Second, the world says that gender is based on feelings, interests, and passions and is defined by each individual. Thus, we have people who identify as “transgender.” Their thoughts, feelings, and interests are classified according to what has historically been assigned to the “other” gender, not the one associated with their physical bodies.  It’s also a perfect confluence of self-determination and post-modern thinking. There is no objective truth—my truth is my truth, and your truth is your truth. Each of us creates that truth on our own, including the truth about our own gender. As a result, there are now 57 genders to choose from on Facebook in the United States.

Disconnected

Much of our culture is working with the misguided idea that gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, and sexual attraction are all independent parts of a person’s makeup. These different areas of a person’s life are all considered to be completely separate from one another. They are based on feelings and completely changeable from day to day. This means that every day, people are choosing whether they feel feminine or masculine. They are deciding how much cultural femininity or masculinity they want to express through clothes, hairstyle, etc. They are selecting how much of their physical female-ness or male-ness they want to exhibit, and whether they sense attraction to men or women.

Message #3: Gender Doesn’t Matter

Third, the world says gender ultimately doesn’t matter. In the end, men and women are interchangeable. There is no difference between the two. The ultimate goal of this line of thinking is androgyny, a world where humans are indistinguishable from one another. Distinction is removed, and the two meld into one. Thus, we have people identifying as “gender fluid” or “queer,” believing that they don’t belong to either gender.

The Truth of God’s Design

The truth, in contrast, is that gender is created by God, gender is defined by God, and distinction between men and women-and unity within marriage-are an intentional act of God.  We believe that God reveals and imparts our complete identity to us at the moment of creation through our embodiment as man or woman. The creation and definition of our identity rests in God’s design, not ours. When a man and woman are united in marriage, the ultimate goal of unity with distinction is shown to the world: two become one, while still remaining two.

Navigating the Chaos

Bottom line, the world’s thinking is rooted in contradiction and chaos. The world is trying to make sense of feelings and experiences while rejecting the truth of God’s design and revelation. Our children and teenagers are encountering this contradiction and chaos daily. Now as a parent of teenagers myself, the topic of gender comes up nearly every day. I am often corrected on the particular pronouns of choice by my daughter’s friends. “Mom, that person is a ‘they’.” Another friend chooses the pronoun “he” when “his” body is definitely a she. While God imparts our gender identity at creation, we also must embrace and grow into that given identity. As parents and mature adults, we can help children and teenagers in our sphere of influence do the same.

Connect Children with Their Bodies

The following tools can help build a solid foundation of blessing and affirming their God-given gender identity. First, within the context of family, we can connect children with their bodies. We can connect children with their male-ness or female-ness. Intentionally call them “son” or “daughter” and “boy” or “girl.” Teach children about their bodies and help them see how their bodies are called good by God. Teach the correct names for body parts and how to protect their bodies from misuse and abuse. This first may require overcoming our own shame about our bodies.

Encourage children to understand how their particular body works, what it does well, what it needs more help doing. Remind boys that their body is distinctive and different from a girl’s and how to take care of all the parts of their body. Remind girls that their body is distinctive and different from a boy’s and how to care for their unique body. Most of all, make your family the place children learn about their bodies. Then when they have questions, they know they can come to moms and dads to ask those questions.

Connect Children with Biblical Gender

Second, we connect children with biblical gender, with special focus on the gender that gives them identity. That is, we help all children do masculine things and express feminine traits. We also make sure boys find connection and identity in the true masculine while helping girls find connection and identity in the true feminine. Families are the first place this type of connection is formed. However, the church family and friends also participate in this connection-building.

Affirming Boys

Help boys find connection to the true masculine. Encourage and affirm them in their strength of character, their willingness to stand up for the truth of God’s Word, and their reaching out to others in relationship. Remind them they are “men of God” and name them as “sons of God.”  Make sure to build up this connection without diminishing their capacity to express the true feminine.

For example, when a young man plays a beautiful piano piece for the offering at church, thank him afterward for the strength of his playing. When a sensitive young man in youth group expresses grief over injustice at his school, commend him for calling out the truth of the situation and his desire to protect those who are vulnerable.

Affirming Girls

Help girls find connection to the true feminine. Encourage and affirm their ability to be at peace in the midst of tough times, their willingness to receive the truth of God’s Word into their hearts, and their capacity to live without anxiety about relationships. Name them “daughters of God” and remind them they are “women of God.” Build the connection without diminishing their ability to express the true masculine.

For example, when a young woman comes to church dressed in an androgynous style, compliment the beauty of her spirit and the tenderness of her dealings with others. When you notice a young woman speaking up regularly in Bible Study, commend her for her willingness to receive the truth of God’s Word in her heart. In all these situations, we build up people’s connection to their gender identity, while still allowing them to express characteristics of the other as they grow into full image-bearers.

Connect Children with Distinctions

Third, we encourage and affirm distinctions that arise from the differences between men and women. Take notice and talk about the different ways men and women think, feel, and behave because of their embodiments as male and female. Be aware of our cultural biases here, however. It can be helpful for children to find connection to things that fall into a cultural norm to encourage a sense of belonging, but we must avoid extremism. Toys, activities, clothes, hairstyles, and interests don’t inherently have gender, even though our culture often associates these things with a particular gender. Girls can like sports, and boys can like music without it meaning anything about their gender or sexual identity. Still, girls will do sports differently than boys; boys will do music differently than girls.

Continuing the Conversation

These tools can provide an environment that affirms children in identity and reduces the risk of confusion. They are, unfortunately, not a guarantee. As parents, we strive to fill our children’s hearts with the truth of God. We help them learn to nurture that truth, protecting it from interference from the world until it can bear fruit. We connect to a church body that helps continue this process, helping us teach and train our children in the truth of God’s Word. However, at some point, we all have to let our children move out from under our protection to protect and nurture the truth themselves. As our children mature, they are ultimately responsible for their own relationship with God and their own understanding of God’s Word. We continue to have ongoing, life-giving conversations with our children even after this point. We encourage a biblical understanding of gender and identity, directing them always to God’s design for their lives.

Our world is slipping further and further into gender and sexual confusion. It is now even more important that we have a grasp on what the world is thinking and understand God’s design for us as men and women. Within our families and churches, we must bless and affirm biblical gender and have ongoing, life-giving conversations about gender and sexuality. We need to have discussions about what it means to be God’s image-bearers in the world. These conversations will equip us and our children to have life-giving conversations with those in our communities. Our children are image-bearers of God. Let us as parents and the Body of Christ strive to impart this understanding into their hearts. May fully live as God has designed them, each one.

This article is the second in a three-part series. Part 1 covers biblical gender; Part 2 addresses gender confusion and ways to have life-giving conversations within families and churches. Part 3 covers how to have life-giving conversations with friends and individuals in your communities.

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Gender, Confusion, and Conversation, Part 1

biblical genderMy first memories of being taught about gender and gender roles are from early elementary school. It was the 1970’s, and Marlo Thomas and friends had released a record album and TV special, Free to Be You and Me. The messages of the songs and skits were designed intentionally to teach children to reach beyond the gender stereotypes of earlier decades and pursue whatever interests we felt would fit our particular personalities.

While some of the individual messages of the songs and skits contained some important truths, the overall message of the work was to encourage an unbiblical, post-modern gender neutrality. We were to understand that men and women are basically the same, and any differences we may see or experience are not to be turned into generalizations about either sex. What I learned was that a woman can do anything a man can do, and a man should be able to do anything a woman can do as well.

Defining My Womanhood

As I grew and became a teenager, this message seemed to be confirmed by my life experience. I was a girl who loved Star Wars, enjoyed math, excelled at school, preferred my Industrial Arts class over Home Economics, and generally got along with boys more than girls. There were more boys who shared my interests, and I struggled with the drama of junior high and high school girl relationships.

Even with all these traditionally male interests, however, I never questioned my own sexuality or gender identity. I was a girl who had a specific set of interests, but I was definitely a girl. (The teachings of the world had not yet reached the fevered pitch of today, where feelings and interests are taken to imply a specific gender identity.) I knew that my passions, interests, and giftings ultimately did not define my womanhood. And yet, I didn’t fully understand what did define my womanhood.

Feelings Versus God’s Design

Looking back, I can see God’s hand protecting and guiding my understanding. A biblical understanding of sex and gender does allow for each of us, man or woman, to have interests and passions in any arena. But those interests and passions, those feelings, are not what gives us our identity as a man or woman. Our identity is found only in God’s design for our lives, how God has created us to bear His image in the world.

Biblical Gender

In order to continue this conversation, we must first agree on some definitions. We use the term sex to describe the physical distinctions between our male and female bodies. We use the term gender to describe the categories of behavior and being—masculine and feminine . God is spirit and does not have a body; therefore, God is not male or female.  However, we do see God exhibit gender; we see God exhibit both masculine and feminine qualities.

Based on what we have seen in Scripture, we define what is truly masculine as the power to act. God demonstrates the true masculine in many ways, including the ordering of chaos in creation (Genesis 1:1-10) and the initiating of relationship with us through Jesus (Romans 5:6-8). Furthermore, we define what is truly feminine as the capacity to be. God reveals to us the true feminine in multiple ways, including resting in peace after creating all things (Genesis 2:1-3) and comparing himself to a mother who nurtures her children (Isaiah 49:15).

Image-Bearers

Genesis recounts for us that God created all humans in His image, both male and female. Each man is a full image-bearer of God, and each woman is also a full image-bearer of God. We each bear God’s image in the deepest part of our being—our spirits. Because we each bear God’s image in our spirits, all humans—male and female—will exhibit both masculine and feminine characteristics.   In fact, in relation to God, we all behave in feminine ways, receiving the Word of truth in our hearts and minds, responding to the relationship that God initiates with us. Additionally, each of us must protect and guard the truth in our hearts so we may stand firm against deception, exercising true masculine strength.

Distinction on Purpose

Still, God’s intention for distinction within creation and especially humanity is clear.  He could have chosen to create just one type of body —an androgynous human that would be like any other human in every way. But that’s not what God did. God created two distinct and different types of persons: male and female. God created us male and female in order to reveal even more fully who God is and how God acts in relationship.

Since we believe God’s creative act is intentional, it follows that our physical bodies reflect a deeper truth about our spirits and souls. That is, knowing God’s character, the decision to make two different types of bodies implies that the male-female distinction extends into our spirits; it is not only a distinction in body. It also encompasses our souls–the connection between body and spirit; home to our emotions, thoughts and decision-making abilities.  Thus, a person with a male body—genetically XY—is fashioned with  a male spirit and soul, and a person with a female body—genetically XX—is created with  a female spirit and soul.

Body, Soul, Spirit

A male body encounters the world differently than a female body, due to physical differences. Likewise, a male soul will think, experience emotions, and make decisions differently than a female soul. Finally, a male spirit needs to be connected to masculine traits to find identity as a man, and a female spirit needs to be connected to feminine traits to find identity as a woman. We encourage males to connect to their ability to initiate relationship, move in strength, and stand for truth in order to be fully connected in body, soul, and spirit. Likewise, we encourage females to nurture beauty and be receptive and nurturing in relationship with others in order to be fully connected in body, soul, and spirit.

Fully Bearing God’s Image

In order to fully reflect the image of God, however, we make sure that these connections are not to the exclusion of the other; that is, a male is also created  to exhibit feminine traits, and a female to also exhibit masculine ones. For example, a male can and should initiate relationship and stand for truth (the true masculine) while also being receptive and nurturing to others and being able to rest (the true feminine). Likewise, a female can and should be receptive and nurturing while also showing strength, standing for truth, and protecting others.  The encouragement of one type of trait does not mean we overlook or dismiss the other.

True Woman’s Lib

For me, this understanding means that I can acknowledge the differences between men and women while also acknowledging that we each can do whatever it is God has gifted us to do. I am a woman because God has created me with a female body, soul, and spirit, and it is good to be a woman. I act in both feminine and masculine ways, but I do those things as a female. To be a woman of God is to bear God’s image into the world through my femaleness.

This is true woman’s liberation! To know that I am perfectly and fully loved as a daughter of the Most High King; to know that I can fully bear God’s image in the world; to know that God has gifted me specifically to do the work designed for me and my gifts; and to do all this through my femaleness, as a woman. May God grant us each the strength and wisdom to stand firm in the truth and lovingly share it with those around us. May we truly and fully bear God’s image in our manhood or womanhood, as God has created each one. May we truly be free to be you and me.

This article is the first in a three-part series. Part 1 covers biblical gender; Part 2 addresses gender confusion and ways to have life-giving conversations within families and churchesPart 3 covers how to have life-giving conversations with friends and individuals in your communities.

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Declaring “Very Good”

gender neutral signRecently, I led of team of eight people from Outpost to Minot, ND to present our newly assembled Distinctions Conference. The conference trains people in an understanding of God’s image and how to stand for the truth of biblical gender in our culture. It was a huge success!

In prepping for the conference, I was struck by the weightiness of the prophetic word we as a ministry have been called to carry. AND I was struck by the weightiness of the spiritual warfare standing against this word. Friends, it was intense.

The enemy is systematically attempting to erase the image of God from the face of our society. Genesis is clear that the image of God is revealed on the earth as male and female. Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . .” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:26-27). The gender binary is essential for us to know and experience the image of God.

One major retailer’s decision to eliminate “boys” and “girls” signs from its toys and bedding departments makes a bold statement: gender acknowledgement is passé.

Now I admit, there is nothing wrong with little girls playing with stereotypically boys toys and vice versa. However, the larger issue remains: God’s image is being systematically removed from our culture. There are no boys toys, no girls toys, no boys bathrooms and no girls bathrooms. Ultimately, according to the world’s progression, there are no boys and no girls. No boys and girls, no image of God on the earth. This should alarm us as believers.

Without the image of God present to us visibly and experientially, mass confusion ensues. The image of God is worth fighting for and declaring as “very good”!

How to Pray Like Jesus for Family and Friends

Have you ever struggled to pray regularly for the people God has placed in your life?  I know I have. Like many people, for years I used a prayer list of all my family and friends as a helpful place to begin. But even then I often had difficulty staying focused and praying meaningful, confident prayers for many of them. Invariably I would gravitate merely to a rote recitation of their names as I moved down the list.

It was not, however, until I discovered a Biblical, tried and true way to effectively pray for them that a new focus and faith began to energize my prayers.

There is one chapter in the Bible that is dedicated entirely to a verbatim prayer recited by Jesus. That chapter is John 17, and it is considered to be one of the great treasures in all of scripture because it preserves for posterity an entire prayer, prayed by the greatest pray-er who ever lived! Some have called it Jesus’ great High Priestly Prayer. In this chapter Jesus is praying for those the Father had committed to His care.

Apart from the first verse which says “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed,” everything that follows is in red letters. These are the words of Jesus as He prays to the Father for a very specific group of people: “for all those you have given me” (vs. 2; 6) and for “those who will believe in me through their message” (vs. 20). In fact, Jesus specifically narrows the field by saying, “I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me.”

Who then is this select group for whom Jesus was praying? They were His apostles and disciples.  Interestingly this included His friends such as Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, Mary, and Martha; as well as His family – mother, brothers, sisters, and cousins.

The John 17 prayer of Jesus is therefore the best model ever given for our use in praying for those whom God has placed in our lives. A study of the prayer reveals that there are seven specific ways in which Jesus prayed for His loved ones.

These seven prayers lend a Biblical specificity to our prayers and These seven prayers lend a Biblical specificity to our prayers and inspire confidence and faith as we pray because we are praying the same words Jesus prayed.

Praying Scripture has always been a sure-fire way to pray effectively, and to me this way of praying for friends and family is as exciting and powerful as it gets. This is so because “this is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14 NIV).

Here are seven prayers you can use to pray following in Jesus’ footsteps: “Father… 

  1. GLORIFY Jesus through their lives by having them do the work you’ve given them to do. – “Glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (vs. 1b). “I brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (vs. 4). Give them a clear sense of your calling and purpose that they might dedicate their lives to living for and glorifying you. 
  1. FORTIFY and protect them from the evil one and keep them safe in Jesus name. – “Protect them from the evil one” (vs. 15). Let no weapon formed against them prosper (Isaiah 54:17). May they put on the full armor of God to take their stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:10-18). 
  1. UNIFY them and make them one with you and with one another. – “…that all of them may be one” (vs. 21). Where there are broken relationships, release a spirit of forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation (Ephesians 4:32). 
  1. SANCTIFY them in the truth of your Word. – Set them apart for you, and make them holy. “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (vs. 17). Give them a hunger for your word, that they might make it their daily meditation and guide for all they do, as they walk in obedience to you (Psalm 119:105). 
  1. MULTIPLY them by sending them into the world with your message. – “I have sent them into the world . . . so that the world may believe” (vs. 18; 21). May they live their lives as your witnesses sharing your love and your truth. 
  1. FILL them with your Joy. – “…so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them” (vs. 13). May your joy be their strength imparting peace, faith, and generosity (Nehemiah 8:10; Romans 15:13; 2 Corinthians 9:7). 
  1. REVEAL your Presence and Glory to them. – “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory” (vs. 24). Be present in their lives releasing “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that [they] might know [Jesus] better” (Ephesians 1:17 NIV).

 As you consider all the precious people God has placed in your life, why not pray the prayer Jesus prayed for them?

For further meditation and application: The next time you pray through your prayer list of family, relatives, and friends, consider using these seven prayers from John 17. As you pray for each person, pause and select the appropriate prayer(s) that is applicable to their situation and your burden for them. Pray for them using the same words and phrases that Jesus used in praying for those the Father had given him. Expect a quickening of your faith, and renewed confidence as you pray, that God is hearing and answering your prayers.

Igniting an Impassioned Prayer LifeThis post is a chapter taken from Tom Stuart’s recently published book Igniting an Impassioned Prayer Life – How to Develop the Energized, Extended, and Sustainable Life of Prayer You’ve Always Wanted. It is available for purchase on Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Copies are also available directly from the author for $10. Go to tomstuart.org and order a copy via the contact form.

 

 

Declaring Allegiance

The most frequently-asked question I encounter by new participants or others inquiring about Outpost Ministries is, “What is the success rate of people finding freedom from unwanted same-sex attractions?” Ultimately, they want to know, “How much is this decision going to cost, and will it really work?” I don’t blame them for asking the question; I myself asked the very same thing four years ago. I have found throughout my own healing journey, as well as through helping others on their own journeys, that there is a surprisingly simple response to this question. To individuals inquiring about healing success rates, I ask, “How do you define healing?” and “To what extent are you willing to follow Christ?”  We will experience healing and transformation through relationship and obedience to Jesus.  Our allegiance to Christ—our everyday commitment to Him through our trials and temptations—is an extremely important aspect of our Christian faith, for “. . . faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless” (James 2:17, NLT).

Defining “healing” is essential to the believer. First, he or she must know that we are forgiven and justified—made righteous—upon accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross on our behalf. Inner-healing is the process that follows, agreeing with God about our identity in Him.  I have found that choosing Jesus’ lordship is absolutely foundational to the healing process.  In the fall of 2011, I declared, “Jesus, I believe that you can and will heal me from my same-sex attractions, but even if you don’t, I will not make it my god any longer. Instead, You are my Lord and the One who sits on the throne in my life, not my same-sex attractions.” From that day on, my process of healing could begin. That doesn’t mean I no longer struggle with same-sex attractions on any level, but it does mean I am free from the power to be ruled and controlled by them. Thus, I can declare healing and freedom really have occurred in my life! I may spend the rest of my life seeking the Lord and finding increasing freedom, but that is part of taking up my cross and following Him (Matthew 16:24). I don’t do this perfectly by any means, but it is my joy to lay down my temptations and struggles before Him and confess, “I want you more.”

Our culture claims that anyone who experiences any attractions towards the same sex are not and cannot be healed from homosexuality.  If this definition of healing—the absence of struggle—were transferred to other forms of addictions or unwanted behaviors, there would be an uproar among the recovering alcoholics, drug users, compulsive gamblers and anger management participants.  Although these people still experience temptation to use or even on occasion act out, they probably would not appreciate being labelled “unrecovered” or “unhealed” after their hard work towards sobriety.  Those in recovery of any sorts, including from unwanted same-sex attractions, know that their healing is not based on temptations or lack of struggle.  It is based on their willingness to get back up after sin occurs.

We have a choice as believers to continue to recover and move on from the temptations that we face, whether it be once or a hundred times throughout a day.  The process of following Christ is referred to in Philippians 2:12 as “working out one’s salvation.” The first question I ask the women I mentor is, “What is your commitment to obedience to Christ?” They quickly learn that transformation can only begin when they have committed their whole selves to the One who gave all of Himself. When we declare total allegiance towards Christ, it is not that we won’t experience temptation or decide to sin, but it is that we hate our sin, repent of it, and seek after Christ to renew us from it. It is through this process of sanctification, as well as time spent with God, that we can truly encounter Him.  When we truly encounter the Lord, it is impossible not to transform.

Though we live in a world which is unfamiliar with holiness, we must seek holiness, “for the LORD our God is holy” (Psalm 99:9). In the presence of God’s holiness, we are continually made new. For we cannot see the face of Christ and not be changed forever. Likewise, a person who struggles with unwanted same-sex attractions will experience transformation if he or she wholeheartedly seeks the Lord (Jeremiah 29:13). Transformation, however, doesn’t always occur in a timely manner or in the way in which we desire. Thank God! I used to cry out for the Lord to save me instantly from homosexuality. Now, I am so glad that He didn’t. I would have missed out on the chance to follow, trust, and obey the Lord without knowing the results! One of my favorite quotes comes from Oswald Chambers regarding this matter: “Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.” Do you trust the One who is leading? Will you be faithful to Him no matter the outcome? Or are you offended by His statutes and plan of redemption for you?

Jesus is worthy of our allegiance. He is worthy of our praise. He is worthy of our sacrifice. Through the power of Christ’s forgiveness, we can begin our healing journey in the moment we entrust our lives to Him. Then, we get to experience the transformation that He has for each one of us on our own individual journeys with Him. The love and healing He has for you is so rich and satisfying. Don’t sell out for anything less than the deep love, forgiveness, and life-change He has in store for you. If only you would give Him your whole life. If only you would follow after Him with no conditions or expectations. The journey of following after Christ is an adventure, to say the least! It is filled with wildness, excitement, and unknown blessings. Give Him your life and just see what He can make out of your brokenness!

To Those Who Overcome

For those of us overcoming life-dominating issues such as unwanted same-sex attractions, it is essential for us to have a right understanding about what “overcoming” means and have an eternal perspective about it.  Proverbs 29:18 states, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law” (NASB). Our vision—our big-picture understanding—for our obedience to God’s Word is profoundly important when navigating through the confusion of this world.  When we lose vision, we cast off restraint.  We must have clarity about both the redemptive power of God here and now and our eternal destiny.

Sometimes believers make the mistake of thinking overcoming is the complete and total absence of struggle.  I have found, however, that healing is much more of a progressive work.  There are many moments of overcoming along the way.   I teach our participants that there are three stages to victory:

 1)  Sincere intention to obey God.  (If you only measure your life in achievements, it will result in condemnation.)

2)  Partial break through yet with a continued struggle.

3)  Substantial breakthrough with transformed desires.

 When Christians do not understand the reality of the healing journey or process, they often get discouraged along the way.  People in recovery must often remind themselves of the old adage: Progress, not perfection. For the one struggling with same-sex attractions (SSA), this understanding is very helpful.  Most likely, transformation will not happen in an instant, but it will be a journey of progressive healing.  Make no mistake, though, that a life submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ will be transformed.  Jesus Christ has life changing power, even for the SSA struggler!

Having worked for over 15 years with men and women struggling with SSA, I have seen this transformation process happen over and over again.  I have watched these men and women come into a sense of gender wholeness and move beyond homosexuality into heterosexual marriage and family or into singleness, using it as a good gift to the Body of Christ.

In addition to having a right view of “overcoming” on this side of heaven, it is essential to have an eternal perspective of “overcoming” and the rewards given to those individuals who persevere until the end.  As Christians, our great hope is eternity with Christ, ruling and reigning with Him on the earth.

The book of Revelation gives us great insight into some of the eternal rewards for those who overcome.  Let me offer a few examples:

 To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. —Revelation 2:7 (NKJV)

 The Bride of Christ will feast for all of eternity on the knowledge of God in the King’s garden.  In Genesis, we were banned from Eden and entered a fallen world that we were never meant to experience.  What will it be like to finally return to Paradise—can you imagine?  Take some time to think about it, meditate on it.  Get this reality into your vision for overcoming.  Our eternal destiny is not playing a harp on a cloud forever.  It is a dynamic, joyful and exhilarating life in the Paradise of God.

 To him who overcomes . . . I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it. —Revelation 2:17

 There is a new dimension of your identity that only God knows—a secret with which you can finally be trusted.  How amusing to ponder what such a new name might be.  How entertaining it will be to get to know all over again the people whom we have known and loved while on the earth.  There will be so much more to know and love!  Once again, get this eternal reality into your vision for overcoming.  It will fuel your journey.

 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations . . . as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. —Revelation 2:26-28

 One day you will shine in the presence of God, and not just with a little glow.  You will shine like the sun in all its strength because you will live in a Light we cannot even imagine.  Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star, will give us Himself!

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. —Revelation 3:5

 Can you imagine Jesus explaining who you are to the Father and to His angels?  I absolutely cannot wait to hear Jesus describe me to the Father!  What does He know about me that I don’t know?  What words will He use?  How will the angels respond?  What’s more, how will the Father react?

To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. —Revelation 3:21

 The government of Jesus will know no end.  The meek will inherit the earth and rule and reign with Jesus forever.

On this side of heaven we progressively overcome, and in eternity, we will be greatly rewarded for working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).  If you have sincerely decided in your heart to obey God, you already have victory.  If you don’t quit, don’t give up and don’t give in, you will be shocked and amazed at how richly the Father will compensate you in eternity.  We will see that our troubles truly were light and momentary (2 Corinthians 4:17).  In these difficult days, let us  therefore press on toward the prize (Philippians 3:14) with even greater vigor and intensity.  It’s going to be worth it!

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.

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.

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.