Thanks for Being There

From the 2022 Spring Banquet. Used with permission.

God’s Faithfulness in Transition

Dear Friends,

If you are reading this, I’m writing to you from beyond the grave!

Not really, but by the time you read this, I will no longer be working at Outpost. Instead, my family and I will be at my new ministry position in another state.

Goodbyes are hard. There’s no way around that. But at least they can provide a catalyst for reminiscing.

Looking back, I am so grateful for my time at this ministry. I am thankful for how God worked and how God used the people in this ministry to bring so much healing and transformation into my life. It will be 10 years ago this fall when I nervously made the call to Outpost saying I may need some help. Since then, God used this place to do open-heart surgery on my soul. I had mentors speak into me and friends surround and encourage me, all while experiencing an ever-deepening intimacy with God in His presence.

Of course, it was not always pleasant. I had to grapple with my darkest desires, narcissism, pain, wounds, hatred toward God, hatred toward men and women, sexual addiction, and all the junk inside my sinful heart. Yet through it all, God’s love has always remained. His goodness and worthiness are what kept me going even when healing felt more hell-full than helpful. Now my heart is more sensitive to Jesus than ever before. Now I can receive (and have received) blessings that I could not have experienced before God did His work.

In these almost-10-years, I wasn’t the only one who changed. I’ve seen the lives of so many others impacted by the work and presence of God. Outpost itself has gone through a lot of change and will continue to change after I’m done here. However, one thing that remains the same is the truth that God transforms lives. God continues to use Outpost to do this ministry of transformation from death to life and from despair to hope.

As I say my final goodbye, be encouraged that God is faithful. He doesn’t need me (or anyone) to accomplish His work, yet He loves to partner with us. Ministering is a privilege we get to experience. It should never seem like a duty we are burdened with. I’m grateful to be leaving Outpost with a team that sees this ministry work in that way—as something they get to do, not something they have to do.

With that in mind, I know that Outpost will continue to need your support and prayer—now more than ever—as it faces another time of transition. God will provide for this important work. I hope you may be the means of that provision! As you continue to partner with Outpost as God leads, please see this partnership as a privilege. We invite you into the transformational work of God in the sexually and relationally broken.

Thank you all for coming along with me for this part of my journey.

The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

The Power of Testimony

Dear Friends,

Spring is just around the corner and with it comes our annual Spring Fundraising Banquet. After the menu planning and invitation design is complete, we turn our attention to the most important part of the evening: inviting people to share their testimonies.

What does it mean to give testimony? Merriam-Webster defines testimony as “a public profession of religious experience” and “first-hand authentication of a fact: evidence.” For followers of Christ, we understand the former, but we often tend to forget that the latter also applies to our stories. When we testify—share our story—we are speaking fact. We are saying, “listen to what God has done.” Banquet testimonies give participants the chance to share their stories of God’s work in their lives over the past years. If you’ve been around Outpost for a while, you’ve probably noticed that all our major events include testimonies. This is an intentional choice we make during planning.

Testimonies Help Overcome

Why are testimonies so important? First, giving testimony is a part of overcoming. Revelation 12:11 reminds us that those who overcome do so “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” Somehow, speaking the truth out loud to others solidifies that truth in the speaker’s heart and mind. The more we tell the story of God’s work, the better we are able to remember the story later—especially when we face another challenge. You’ve likely experienced this already in your life. Think of a song you learned as a child. The more you sang that song, the more you now remember the lyrics and the tune, and the more readily the song comes to mind when you need that particular encouragement. The same is true of testimony.

Testimonies Encourage

Second, when we give testimony, our story encourages others in their walks with Jesus. None of us who follow Jesus are walking alone. There are people in front of us, further along the path. There are people next to us, walking and talking with us. There are people behind us, looking to us for guidance and hope. When we share our testimonies, all three of these groups are encouraged. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that encouragement is a vital part of gathering together. “Let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Testimonies Share Hope

As the cares of the world press in around us, it can feel as if there is no hope. In those times, remembering God’s past faithfulness gives us hope that God will move again. Those who have heard our stories are also reminded of their hope in God’s faithfulness, power, and love. My prayer is that each one of us will be encouraged and emboldened to testify today. Whether your story is big or small, sharing God’s work in your life brings hope to those around you. Share away!

We hope you will join us on April 2 for the spring banquet, so you can hear the stories of how God is at work in people’s lives through the ministry of Outpost. Visit www.outpostministries.org/events/2022banquet to register today.

Constant Change, Unchangeable God

As you already know, Outpost has been through several changes in the past few years. We have a fun new change for you: a new logo! Heraclitus said, “The only constant thing in life is change,” but, unlike this Greek philosopher, we Christians have a deeper understanding that God is the constant over and above any change.

There is a paradox in this, though. During the Christmas season, we remember that God was and is incarnational through Jesus Christ. The changeless God and His changeless Word took on flesh and experienced human growth. There is a mystery in how the infinite and always-the-same God sought to make Himself known and communicate His eternal message to us finite and ever-changing humans.

Changeless, yet Dynamic God

While God is changeless, He is not static—He’s dynamic! His Word and Truth never change, even as our culture and society do. What does change from time to time, era to era, culture to culture, person to person, is the packaging and style of communicating God’s Truth and Gospel. Again, God and His Word are incarnational—meaning somehow His Truth remains the same even as it is expressed differently in order to be understood in many diverse contexts.

Simplify and Clarify

All of that to say—we are still the same ministry with the same focus. With this logo change, we hope to communicate our message in a clearer way! A lot of my role here as the director of Outpost has been to simplify and clarify who we are and what we do. That was the main purpose behind the core values—Honor, Humility, Honesty, and Healing—as well as behind articulating our mission “to love God, declare freedom, and establish outposts of restoration for the sexually and relationally broken Body of Christ.”

Image of our new logo, described in the article.

Our new logo is, likewise, meant to help us communicate who we are more effectively. Part of the impetus for the change was a desire to make a more memorable logo. We want people to think about us and pray for us often! The basic design shows the letters “O” and “P” combined as “OP,” which is usually our abbreviation for “Outpost.” The black “O” is meant to represent the kingdom of darkness where sin keeps people trapped in an endless loop of despair. The red shape that turns the “O” into a “P” is meant to represent a house of refuge or “outpost of restoration” for those that have been called out of darkness. The Cross is the bridge that breaks us out of the endless cycle of sin and brokenness.

We also have a new slogan or way of articulating our mission: “Encounter. Equip. Establish.” or “Encounter God. Equip the Church. Establish outposts of restoration.” Each of these ties directly to part of our mission statement, articulating it in a succinct and memorable way.  Now let’s talk about this slogan, and how it specifically relates to each part of the mission statement.

Encounter God

This ties to the phrase “love God” in our mission statement. We believe loving God ought to lead to encountering Him, and encountering Him to loving Him. Encountering God’s love is essential to starting and sustaining the healing journey, which is why we emphasize it and try to create spaces for our participants to encounter God.

Equip the Church

The longer form of this phrase could say, “equip the Church for a deeper evangelism” (if we wanted to add yet another “e”). This is another way of saying “declare freedom,” since we are seeking to equip churches, ministries, and Christians to proclaim the Good News of God’s transformative power—that there is hope and freedom from sexual and relational brokenness!

Establish Outposts (of Restoration)

Another way to say this is “establishing transformative community.” The reason we are called Outpost is because an outpost is a waystation, the furthest reaches of a territory or kingdom. We are meant to be a place of refuge for those defecting from the kingdom of darkness as well as those who have wandered or are wandering away from the kingdom of light. An outpost is not someplace where you live forever. Our goal is to see participants learn and grow in this transformative community for a time, but ultimately be sent forth into what God has for them.

Speaking of being sent forth, there is another major change coming—I (Jonathan) will be stepping down from my position at Outpost in April. I am following God’s leading and call to an executive pastor position at a church in another state. This decision was not easy since I believe Outpost is such a gem and a treasure—there really is nothing else quite like it! And I’ve loved the ministry I’ve been able to do here. Still, I’m trusting God knows what He’s doing, both in my life as I walk in obedience, as well as for this ministry of His. I have always felt my role here was a transitional one, and it’s been such a blessing to serve alongside the staff and volunteers. They are amazing and are more than capable of ensuring Outpost continues serving the brokenhearted through this transition of leadership and beyond!

Now more than ever we need your continued prayer and support. We are actively looking for my replacement, so please pray that God will call the right person to help lead this ministry in its vital work. Thank you for your prayers!

Celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Bread of Life!

For the Bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst”

– John 6:33, 35 –

But in all the land of Egypt there was bread. ―Genesis 41:54, ESV

This may seem an odd passage for Christmas, but let’s take a closer look. Egypt often represented slavery and oppression in the Bible. However we also see that God repeatedly used Egypt to deliver or save His people, particularly from starvation. Abraham AND Jacob independently sought “salvation” in Egypt because God directed them to the provision that was there. This salvation, however, was limited to physical life. Thus, Israel would ultimately require a Deliverer to set them free because she had settled into complacent dependency upon Egypt, which eventually led to oppression.

Further, do you recall that Jesus Himself sought refuge in Egypt? An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” (Matthew 2:13, ESV) Let’s not make too much of this theologically, as Jesus was a small child requiring 100% care, just like any other. So, Jesus, the Deliverer also entered into Egypt for deliverance at this time. This was prophesied in Hosea 11:1, “out of Egypt I called my son.” (See also Matthew 2:15.)

Jesus as our Deliverer came to do more than merely save our physical lives. He came to save us wholly: body, soul, and spirit. We are then empowered to live out our salvation in service to God and others. Who serves food to the poor? Most rescue missions are run by Christians. Who heals the sick? Many hospitals and medical missions are run by believers. Even the oppression by 18th century slave traders was ended largely by Christians declaring “Freedom!” to slaves. These are messianic (though limited) works that Jesus began, saying, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven…, not like the bread their fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:51,58 ESV)

May you be fed and strengthened by the Bread of Life this Advent season!

Merry Christmas!

Dan P., Senior Pastor

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Seven C’s: A List of Helps for Struggling Loved Ones

Dear Friends,

This month we have a special article for you from a long-time friend in ministry. Andrew Comiskey (M.Div.) has worked extensively with the healing of the sexually and relationally broken. He is the Founding Director of Desert Stream/Living Waters Ministries, a multifaceted outreach to the broken. Andrew’s ministry grows both out of his own commitment to overcome homosexuality and his experience as a husband to Annette, father of four children and grandfather to five grandkids. He is author of Pursuing Sexual Wholeness (Creation House), Strength in Weakness (InterVarsity Press), Naked Surrender: Coming Home To Our True Sexuality (InterVarsity Press) and the Living Waters healing program. Andrew seeks to equip the Church to be whole and holy, a bride ready to receive Jesus. Andrew serves at St. Thomas More Parish in Kansas City, Missouri. After over four decades of ministry, Andrew still loves receiving and extending mercy to sexual sinners like himself.

Conversion:

The realization that a loved one has assumed a false identity invites you to go deeper in Jesus; it may well become more about your conversion than his or hers. Perhaps it challenges your current ‘standing’ in Christ. All you may be able to do is fall face down and grieve over your sins and the sins woven deeply into our culture. The two are related. You are woven into the fabric of an idolatrous culture; He invites you to repent unto Himself as the way ahead for your integrity of faith and humanity.

Compunction:

This involves the uneasiness or anxiety you may feel for wronging others or causing them pain. It may have to do with brokenness before God for failing to be true to your faith in a culture that now celebrates over 50 gender ‘identities.’ Have you been complicit in allowing friends and/or children to grow distant as you proceeded on with your own life? You may also need to grieve how you have not stood for truth in the public square: contraception, no-fault divorce, rampant porn use, ‘gay marriage’ are all predecessors to today’s gender meltdown.

Compassion:

Jesus hears your cries for mercy. He never fails in His love for you and always responds with deep compassion when you cry out to Him with a broken and contrite spirit. All He is after is your heart. He wants to give you His heart, His compassion, and is intent on using everything, including a loved one’s delusion, to bring you into Reality. Compassion is His way of doing so. He wants to make you compassionate like He is.

Clarity:

With tear-washed eyes, you can behold with clarity your beloved confused one. You possess true vision: he or she possesses a gender of God’s design that the Creator always upholds. So can you. Your sight summons what is mighty in him and lovely in her whether or not they believe it or even want it. Given the lousy self-definitions one can adopt in our day, you can hold fast to the fact that in Christ, according to one’s baptism and confirmation, our beloved one is either a son or a daughter of the Heavenly Father and need not be tossed around by lies (Gal. 4:3-7).

Constancy:

In prayer and in care, keep knocking and seeking the Lord to make known to the beloved His tender, almighty love; at the same time, choose to keep the door open to the beloved. You can seek to be a point of loving continuity in his or her life, the welcome of a home on earth for this weary wanderer. You can set good boundaries when necessary but always with a prayerful, caring spirit that wants only the best for your loved one.

Communication:

Prayerful ones who speak more to God than to the beloved are primed to be led by the Spirit when it comes to what and how much to say. Each confused soul is different but most can be irrationally defensive when it comes to considering his or her delusion. So you can walk and talk in the Spirit concerning the beloved; trust God for brief moments of clarity where compassion and truth meet and you are able to convey your heart’s desire for his or her best.

Consider:

The patience of God towards you in all your wanderings and pride and bad relationships and bad religion, how He simply loved you and waited until you were ready to hear Him (1 Tim 1:15-16). When you broke and bowed down and cried out for mercy, He gave Himself to you freely and fully. He had mercy on you. Wait in patient expectation that He will lead your loved one to repentance and the gift of His almighty mercy.

Originally published as a blog post on DesertStream.org on September 13, 2021. Reprinted with Permission.

Give to the Max Day!

Give to the Max Day Logo with trees, hills and the state of MN.
https://www.givemn.org/

Dear Friends,

November is arriving, and with it comes chilly air, holiday gatherings, and our annual invitation for you to join us for Give to the Max Day. As many of you are aware, Give to the Max Day is specifically set aside in Minnesota for financially supporting local non-profit organizations, like Outpost/TCJHOP. In years past, we’ve asked our supporters to consider giving a little extra this month. This year, however, we are doing something different: inviting new people to contribute to our ministry. We have so many who regularly pray and give, but to do all the work before us, we need to bring more people into this community of support.

Inviting others to join in is inherently biblical. Consider the story of Andrew and Philip in John 1. These men were disciples of John the Baptist when he pointed them to Jesus and said “Look, the Lamb of God!” (v.36). Both men began following Jesus that day. Scripture tells us the first thing Andrew did was go and get his brother Peter, saying, “We have found the Messiah” (v.41). Likewise, Philip went and got his friend Nathanael, telling him to “Come and see” (v.46). What prompted Andrew and Philip’s actions? They had found the Messiah, and they couldn’t wait to bring others to Him.

Have you have been blessed by the ministry of Outpost? Then we encourage you to be bold like Andrew and Philip to say “come and see!” to a few friends or family members. What do we mean? Think about what God has done in your heart, your mind, and your life to bring you hope and healing. Consider who you know that would be blessed and encouraged by hearing your story. Tell them your story and ask if they would like to help us bring that same hope and healing to others.

Our goal is to welcome 50 new donors into our community through Give to the Max Day. Here’s how you can help:

  • Visit givemn.org and create an account.
  • Visit our organization page at givemn.org/organization/tcjhop and click the “Fundraise” button.
  • Create a fundraising page using the provided template.
  • Talk with people and invite them to give through your fundraising page from November 1 – 18.

Andrew and Philip boldly and speedily invited Peter and Nathanael to follow Jesus. This could not have been easy and, as we know, certainly cost them greatly. But it also brought them a great reward. Sharing your story of healing with others may feel daunting, but the reward is also great. Find one or two trusted people you can share with. Tell them what God has done and is doing in your life. Invite them to help us continue providing help and hope to others. And may the act of invitation bring you strength and encouragement to continue sharing your story so others can come and see the hope and healing of Jesus the Messiah for themselves.

Yours,

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Wendy

A Living Waters Update

Click to go to details page for our Living Waters Group.

Dear Friends and Family,

In John 4, Jesus interacts with a Samaritan woman and reveals Himself as the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus draws the woman into conversation by telling her about the “living water” He offers. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). The woman expresses her desire for this “living water,” and Jesus begins to minister to her regarding her sexual and relational brokenness. In a sense, Jesus is telling her that her brokenness points to what she is truly needing from Jesus. As Jesus reveals Himself to her, the Samaritan woman believes and starts witnessing to her village. Through her testimony, many encounter Jesus and come to believe in Him.

One thing that is striking is that Jesus offers the Samaritan woman the living water before she has everything pulled together. Jesus offers her healing and freedom, despite the fact that she is not morally perfect. The minute she receives Jesus as Messiah, she begins to overflow into the lives of others, calling them to encounter Jesus too. Before she is fully healed, she is already being the good gift she was made to be.

This passage, as well as John 7:37-39, gives name to the Living Waters program. Living Waters is a discipleship curriculum that seeks to bring members of the Body of Christ into deeper relationship with, and experience of, God. In this curriculum, a Christian is someone who is already fully accepted, fully loved, and fully valued by God through Jesus Christ. From that place, a Christian begins walking in the fullness of what is already true about them (set free from the law of sin and death, a new creation, a beloved son or daughter, etc.).

This is a stark contrast to how many Christians approach God and walk out sanctification, as I can personally attest to. So often we believe that God will only truly accept us or like us once we have gotten over sinful habits, or have healed from past hurts, or renounced lies and agreements we have made with the enemy. This is a bottom-up approach: we get cleaned up or fixed up, and only then can we believe God is really okay with us. Scripture, however, reveals that in Christ, Christians are already fully accepted, forgiven, and made new. From that place of a new identity, we walk out our healing journeys in order to experience more of the fullness of God than we already have access to through Christ. This is the top-down approach: we are already made whole in Christ. We now walk in Him, experiencing that reality of wholeness and agreeing with Him about who we are.

Jean M., who recently stepped down from the Living Waters Coordinator position, has counseled the Living Waters’ leadership team on this subject. We believe God has something new He is wanting to do, and we sense that this is tied to emphasizing the top-down approach. In this group, we don’t approach people by shaming them and focusing on their brokenness. Instead, we talk with participants about brokenness, wounding, and lies so they can see who they already are in Christ. We focus on what is true and help them learn to hear what God is saying to them in prayer and in the Bible. They are already filled with the living water. We come alongside to help them step into the reality of their adoption into God’s family, as well as work through anything that keeps them from experiencing this.

Living Waters will be meeting for 18 weeks on Thursday evenings starting September 9, running through January 27, 2022 (with breaks for Thanksgiving and Christmas). The group will meet from 6:30pm to 9:00 pm. The format includes worship, teaching, time to process, and small groups. The cost is $220 and includes your book. Anyone who would like to dive deeper into their relationship with God is welcome to apply! If you have questions or are considering applying, please click here for more information and a link to the application. You can also email us with any questions. Applications and a small deposit are due August 29 so we have time to meet with each person prior to September 9. We don’t turn anyone away because of inability to pay, so if you are interested in a scholarship, let us know!

In Christ,

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CalebSpirit Update: A Letter From Dan

Dear Friends,

Happy Spring! This month we have a letter from Dan about another of our support groups, CalebSpirit.

Logo for 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… Numbers 14:24 (ESV).

At Outpost, one of our chief aims is the release from slavery―not unlike ancient Israel. In our case, we aren’t slaves to the Pharaoh of Egypt, but to same-sex attraction (SSA), or so it seems. Our enemy has no real claim to us, nor did Pharaoh have to ancient Israel. Nonetheless, Israel found herself enslaved by her worldly master. She was delivered by God in a miraculous series of events found in the book of Exodus. But en route to her destiny of freedom, she stumbled, and she grumbled. According to verse 22 of this same chapter, Israel had seen the glory of God and many signs. Seeing God’s glory and witnessing signs and wonders does not motivate obedience, and most certainly does not guarantee entrance into the Promise. That entrance requires something else.

Enter Caleb and Joshua. They trusted God to deliver them into the Promised Land, regardless the obstacles in their path. This is the essence of faith. It could be said of them—like it was said of Abraham—that their faith was accounted to them as righteousness (Rom. 4). They were saved (delivered into the Promise) by faith.

We call the group CalebSpirit because these men have “wandered in the wilderness” for a long time (40 years? Yes, perhaps!), and because they have seen the salvation of their God and believe in Him for their deliverance into the Promised Land. The men of CalebSpirit have a different spirit and are fully following the Lord. That does not mean perfectly following the Lord, but they have determined in their hearts to endeavor to imitate Christ throughout their lives, especially in regard to their SSA struggles.

We currently have ten men enrolled in our Tuesday night group where we are studying a book by Steve Gallagher entitled, At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry. Our weekly book-club-style discussions have addressed such topics as “Am I really enslaved (addicted)?”; “Why do I do the things I do?”; “What is at the root of my sexual sin struggle?”; and “How do I rely upon the Holy Spirit to overcome sexual sin in my life?”

Further, we engage as a fellowship of like-minded sojourners. We are in this together. We hold a retreat a couple times a year for concentrated prayer and fellowship. We also do fun summer activities together, like kayaking, mini-golf, croquet, movies, dinners out, potluck BBQs, holiday parties, biking, and even some travel. We attend conferences and seminars as a group. Finally, we hold one another accountable for our SSA struggles. The men of this group are forming a unique fellowship. Many of the men have been part of our group, or other Outpost groups, for over 20 years. This stability provides confidence and strength to the group.

If you are interested in this group, or know of men ages 45-70 who would be, please contact me at (763) 592-4700 x101. I welcome conversations anywhere along these lines.

Dan's Signature

Merry Christmas From the Staff of TCJHOP and Outpost!

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

Well, we’re almost there. Christmas 2020. This Christmas may feel very different than some of our other Christmases. It may be harder to see family (I still haven’t been able to even meet my in-laws in person!). While there are a lot of changes, the Truth and the reason we celebrate remain the same. Speaking of things not changing, I’m still a nerd as well as a pastor, so please bear with me as I talk a little about Greek.

The word “dwelt” used in John 1:14 is tied to the tabernacle. It could better be translated, “The Word became flesh and fixed His tabernacle among us.” This is meant to call to mind the time when God’s presence was in a tent in the wilderness because that’s where His people were. God’s character doesn’t change. Just as He was willing to dwell in the midst of His people in the literal wilderness, He desires to abide with His people no matter where they are. God has made a place for His people even on the outskirts, at the outposts, in the hard to reach places. He tabernacles with those that feel far away. As we remember Christmas, we remember our Savior laying all His glory and riches and privileges aside to be born into a barn because there was no room for Him. Christmas is the reminder that the Good Shepherd seeks us out to reside with us—not the other way around.

This is incredibly good news! Especially for those for whom our ministry exists. We are called to establish outposts of restoration for the sexually and relationally broken Body of Christ. Even as we feel like we are on the fringes of the Kingdom, we are reassured that it is in the lowly places that God chooses to dwell and manifest His presence.

Thank you for supporting this ministry as we continue to provide a place for the broken to encounter God’s dwelling presence, no matter how far off they feel. Thank you for helping establish this outpost of restoration.

Jonathan M., Outpost Director

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