Simon Says

Dave RSimon says, “Retire!” This month, we acknowledge and celebrate Dave Rasmussen, former director of Simon Ministries, and Outpost’s Married Couples Coordinator. Dave is a man who has faithfully ministered to Jesus, his wife Diane, and to many other married couples for nearly 20 years.

Humble Beginnings

I first met Dave Rasmussen in 1997 at his intake interview for Joshua Fellowship (JF). Back then, JF was the only group at Outpost Ministries. It was for any and all men struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions who sought to align their sexuality with their spirituality. We met on the second, third, fourth and fifth Mondays of each month. The first Monday was open to anyone and all people interested in learning about and participating in Outpost programming.

After several months in JF, I asked Dave if he and his wife would be willing to share their story of faith and healing at one of the open meetings. He immediately agreed to do that. Completely unbeknownst to me, Dave was shaking in his boots—not because of the prospect of sharing his story, but because he hadn’t shared “enough” of his story with his wife, Diane.

So he scurried home, shared “the rest of the story” with Diane and started to prepare to share. Well, the open meeting was a smash hit, both for Dave and for Outpost Ministries. We have a saying around here, “There is no transformation without sharing.” Dave and his marriage were transformed because of that open meeting in 1998. It was a catalyst that propelled both Dave and Diane further in their healing journey together.

Simon Ministries is Born

Dave and Diane later started an outreach of their own seeking to help married couples dealing with issues of homosexuality. They named their ministry Simon Ministries after Simon of Cyrene, the man the Roman soldiers conscripted to carry the cross of Jesus. For 15 years, the Rasmussens would minister faithfully out of their church to these married couples, lead Living Waters groups, be the regional representative for a national ministry group, and correspond with and mentor many people by mail and email.

Joining Forces

Then in 2012, through a series of practical decisions, Simon Ministries closed its doors, and Dave came to work at Outpost. He brought the renamed Simon’s Refuge ministry to married couples with him. He has continued much of the same ministry activity at Outpost, additionally overseeing the Caleb Spirit ministry for men over 30.

Leading the Way

This month also marks Dave’s “real” retirement. He first retired from a telephone company back in 2003. Dave is actually the first person ever to retire from Outpost. In the 1970s and 80s, the ministry saw several leaders leave because of burnout. In the 90s, we saw the death of our beloved ministry leader, Joe Hallett, who had lived a life with AIDS for many years. In retiring, Dave is setting a new precedent for ministry leaders here. We are now on a new leadership trajectory, and Dave is leading the way!

Standing Out

In an age where the sanctity of marriage is disregarded, and one’s feelings, attractions, and self-determination are king, Dave and Diane’s commitment to Christ and to one another stands out in noteworthy brilliance. We gratefully acknowledge Dave’s commitment to Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of His mission alongside us here at Outpost Ministries.

Congratulations on your retirement, Dave! May you and Diane have many happy and healthy years together, enjoying all of God’s blessings in Jesus Christ!

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Voices Q & A: Husbands and Wives

fork in the roadQ: If a husband struggles with same-sex attractions, why should he stay with his wife? Wouldn’t they both be better off going their separate ways?

A: Diane and I were committed to our marriage. We loved each other. The gay community was about youth and good looks. Diane loves me unconditionally!

There was always a voice inside me that said what I was doing—sexually acting out with other men—was wrong. I also had other people in my life who would be affected, especially my sons, and also my siblings, my in-laws, my mother, my dear friends. Their relationships were more important to me than my selfish, carnal desires.

Divorce was never an option for me. We knew it would be a battle, but we persevered, thanks to our Lord Jesus.

As Robert Frost once wrote, Diane and I “took the [road] less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

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Conversion Therapy and Urban Legends

WickedAre you familiar with the Tony-award-winning Broadway musical Wicked? Wicked recounts the life of Elphaba, also known as the Wicked Witch of the West, and her best friend Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. Only this retelling of the story puts an incredible spin on these two characters and what we know of them from the movie The Wizard of Oz.

It turns out that Elphaba is actually the “good guy” who has been forced to take on a reputation of being evil and dangerous. We really only know of the urban legend that is the Wicked Witch. Glinda, on the other hand, is actually calculated and manipulative. She is only after power and a spotless reputation in the eyes of the public. All is not what it seems. All is not what the masses have been told and led to believe.

We understand Elphaba’s plight.

What the Masses Believe

A recent USA Today article highlighted that an increasing number of states are banning what is commonly referred to as “conversion therapy,” particularly for minors. The article defines conversion therapy as “an attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity through tactics as obvious as hypnosis or as subtle as inducing shame.” The list of state bans is growing. So is the list of bans on freedoms for adults who, due to their religious convictions, are seeking help for themselves.

Unfortunately, the masses are believing what they have been told. “Conversion therapy” (and all of the negative—and false—implications associated with it) has become a catch-all term describing any therapy or ministry like Outpost that addresses issues related to unwanted same-sex attractions or gender identity confusion. Another broad and undefined term, “sexual orientation change efforts,” has also become a catch-all expression. It usually refers to any activity associated with the intention of changing someone’s sexual orientation. “Sexual orientation change efforts” has become synonymous with the dangers of “conversion therapy.” We have become the stuff of urban legends.

What We Don’t Do

For the record, Outpost Ministries does not do “conversion therapy.” We don’t even do “sexual orientation change efforts,” if that means trying to turn people from “gay” to “straight.”

What We Do Do

Outpost Ministries has a much higher calling. We are here to turn people into Christ-followers, especially in regard to their sexuality. Jesus had a lot to say about the proper and holy use of our bodies. Many people come to us seeking help in aligning their lives with their (and our) sincerely held religious beliefs regarding sexual expression. There are actually individuals who, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, conclude they no longer ought to be involved in behaviors where they are acting upon their same-sex attractions. They desire clarity in their identity as sons and daughters of God.

Priorities

At Outpost, we focus our attention on the character of the God-man Christ Jesus, the perfect human, and upon the character of Creator God, in Whose image we are all created as males or females. What does that mean? We try to flesh it out―literally. Our bodies are the location of our devotion to Christ. We worship him in our bodies. Like Romans 12:1 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (ESV).”

Our “religion” is integral to the way we live our lives. Our spirituality profoundly affects our sexuality. And it is that priority order: God is first, we are second, not vice versa. As we bring our sexuality under the lordship of Jesus Christ, no matter our struggle, we are progressively healed and transformed.

All for Love

By the end of Wicked, Elphaba is not able to turn the tide of public opinion against her. But she concludes that what others think of her really doesn’t matter. She knows the truth, and she has found true love. We too doubt that we will be able to turn the tide of public opinion. We are concerned that this minority of people, who are tempted by same-sex attractions but wish to avoid acting upon them out of love for Jesus, will be shut out of the public discourse. But in the end, we can’t let what others think hinder us. We too are in love. We know the Truth, and He has set us free.

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Voices: From Idolatry to True Worship, A Testimony

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

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God’s Good Design Conference Cancelled

God's Good Design

The God’s Good Design Conference set for May 5 has been cancelled. Minnesota Family Council and Outpost Ministries hope to offer Mankato and other cities in Minnesota an event similar to this in the future. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive updated information. Information will also be posted on our website.
If you are interested in learning more about the transgender trend and how parents, students, teachers, and school administrators can respond with truth and compassion, sign up to receive MFC’s soon-to-be-released Parent Resource Guide through the Ask Me First MN Project. If you are interested in learning more about former transgender Walt Heyer,  please consider purchasing one of his books, A Transgender’s Faith, Paper Genders, or others available at waltheyer.com.

Contact us with any questions.

Outlawing Gender Integration in California

CaliforniaWe have been keeping a close eye on a particular bill that is quickly being pushed through the California legislature this week. The ministry of Outpost has never been about political activism. We have always focused our energies into helping people walk in obedience to God and to their sincerely-held religious beliefs. However, we bring this bill to your attention because, in the end, it threatens our very freedom to practice those said beliefs. Read on as we share Andy Comiskey’s post about AB 2943.

“‘We give you strict orders not to teach in His name.’ Peter and John replied: ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard . . . We must obey only God and not men!'” (Acts 4:18-20; 5:29)

Wake up people. The bill best designed to outlaw Christian efforts to help persons resolve gender identity problems is racing through the California legislature as you read this. AB 2943 prohibits all conferences, teachings, or publications (where money is exchanged for the resource) aimed at helping people to overcome same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. This impacts every pastor, counselor, friend, or family member in California.

Most chillingly, it slams the door on citizens whose conscience guides them to make peace with their bodies as designed by God. The California legislature wants to deny them that choice. [This week] the Assembly will decide if the state has the right to insist that the only option for Californians with gender identity problems is to transition into the ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ self. Though these are standard values in much of the clinical community, California is seeking to make them the only values. This is an affront to moral liberty.

It sounds preposterous, I know. When I first heard of this bill, I assumed it implausible, dead on arrival. Instead, AB 2943 raced through the first two committees in spite of valiant testimonies by friends Dr. Joseph Nicolosi Jr., Anne Paulk of Restored Hope Network, and Bethel Redding’s Elizabeth Woning and Ken Williams. These last three witnessed persuasively to the power of Jesus and His community to restore true identity but were stonewalled by representatives who only asked sympathetic questions of those claiming abuse at the hands of bad helpers, valid issues for clinical ethics but irrelevant to the rights of persons to choose the kind of help (s)he desires!

According to Ken Williams, “The freight train is here, barring persons from the right to help and to heal gender identity problems. This is the first day I have felt discriminated against, robbed of my freedom to hold to my convictions. The government is now seeking to mandate what I do with my sexuality.”

Every person deserves the freedom to exercise moral authority over his or her body and desires. I may boldly disagree with Ellen Degeneres’ and Rupaul’s identity choices (just as they do mine!) but I grant them freedom to make them. We as Americans share constitutional freedoms of worship and speech. According to the Supreme Court, “the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express the thought we hate.”

Church, wake up. AB 2943 roused Bethel Redding to mobilize their people to engage gently and well with political representatives. Might I ask all Christians in California–Catholics, Orthodox, Baptists, Pentecostals–to invite their fellows to persuade elected officials to vote against this bill? (See californiafamily.org.) If this bill passes, the state officially denies Jesus’ will for our sexual humanity and His power to redeem it.

[On Thursday, April 19,] the lower house of the CA legislature will vote on AB 2943; if passed, it will go to the senate then to the governor. Pray for a miracle of God’s justice. Or that such a preposterous bill, if passed, will be fast-tracked to the Supreme Court.

Pray that a renewed Church will unite and arise in California as a result of this enslaving legislation. Nothing short of our freedom of speech and worship– our right to decide the man or woman we will become–are at stake. If we lose, may we become holy outlaws who obey God, not man, with words and deeds of fire.

“‘Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable Your servants to speak Your word with great boldness. Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.'” (Acts 4:29, 30)

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Voices: Above the Noise

Above the Noise

The loudest voice always wins, right? At least that seems to be the reality of my three young children at home. Whomever talks the longest and the loudest, drowning out the others, engages the attention of Mom or Dad. It’s like a verbal game of dog pile. It makes for a chaotic scene at dinner time.

There is also a shouting match going on in culture, and it seems the loudest voices are winning. (We are not among them.) “If we can just declare our message loud enough and long enough—literally in a protest or figuratively through social media—we will capture people’s attention. They will begin to hear us and believe us because we are the only voice they hear.”

Our Silenced Voice

Our voice at Outpost Ministries, and other ministries like ours, may not be very loud in culture or in the public square. There are others who have more money, more power, and more opportunities to amplify their voice. Even when we do speak, many don’t even want to listen. (Sadly, in some cases, not even in the Church). Like a child closing his eyes, plugging his ears, and singing at the top of his lungs, they refuse to hear our stories. And they try to silence us, like with California’s Bill AB 2943. Or by suspending us from Facebook discussions. Or by removing our testimonies of transformation from YouTube.

Thankfully, we don’t need to win the shouting match. Don’t get me wrong, we still speak up. We share our stories. We continue to teach, train, and equip with the authority God has granted us. And we don’t stop offering encouragement and hope to those who are broken and hurting. But our voice doesn’t have to be the loudest to have an impact.

Above the Noise

After all, the voice of God is at times still and small, like a whisper, and yet it can be heard above the noise. It’s heard by those who are listening for Him, seeking Him. That same voice has the authority to speak light—and all of creation—into existence, just by His very Word. That voice has the power to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up broken hearts, to proclaim freedom to captives, to transform lives.

We are trying a new segment in the Outpost News (which will also be posted here), aptly named Voices. At times it may be a simple Q & A, a concise testimony, or a short reflection. It’s our way of using our voice to bring a clearer message to those who are sorting through the noise. We want to reach the ones intent on hearing the truth, listening for God’s wisdom, and looking for encouragement. Ultimately, we want our voice to proclaim the person of Jesus Christ to anyone willing to listen. After all, to whom shall we go? His voice alone has the words of eternal life.

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Hope Conference 2018

Hope Conference 2018

Strugglers, family memebers, loved ones, counselors, pastors, and lay people, this conference is for you! Join us for Restored Hope Network’s conference HOPE 2018 in Upper Marlboro, Maryland June 15-16.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HOPE 2018

Outpost Ministries is a founding member of Restored Hope Network. RHN proclaims “that Jesus Christ has life-changing power for all who submit to Christ as Lord; we also seek to equip His church to impart that transformation.”

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Last Day to RSVP for our Spring Fundraising Banquet!

banquet 2018

REGISTER BY TUESDAY, APRIL 3!

You believe freedom is real through Jesus Christ. You believe in the power of prayer. Join us for our 2018 spring fundraising banquet and help to share the truth with those who need it most.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom to be transformed From Glory to Glory.

Saturday, April 7, 2018 at 6:30 PM

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Minneapolis North

2200 Freeway Blvd, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430

Tickets are $35/person or $350 to sponsor a table.

REGISTER NOW!

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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