And Now a Word From Some of Our Volunteers!

Neon sign saying "Hello" on a metal wall

Editor’s Note:  In this issue, you’ll be hearing from one volunteer leader and two summer interns. We hope their stories encourage you and give you a little insight into the hearts of some of our volunteers here at Outpost.

From David G.

I came to Outpost knowing I needed help but thinking I had done the majority of the healing work myself. All I thought I needed were a few pointers and a little practice. What I found was a group of men who had the same vocabulary for the painful inner experiences that I thought I alone had to deal with. As a result, I was filled with hope that I was not alone or faulty in some fundamental way. There was an audacious idea that more healing than I ever thought possible was available. And it was all because these brave men had walked through the same things I had, and come through to greater healing than I had previously imagined. I found a community that labels me a son of God, nothing more and nothing less. When I forget, this community helps me remember who I am and where I am going. I encountered God in my heart here. Through my time with Outpost, I’ve seen my heart change from serving only my own selfish desires, to desiring to share God’s mercy with others. The song, “The Blessing,” by Kari Jobe, has a verse that reads “in the morning, in the evening / in your coming, and your going / in your weeping, and rejoicing / He is for you. He is for you.” I want to spend my life in such a way that everyone knows – He is for you. He is always for you.

From Jaimie M.

Hi friends, my name is Jaimie! I want to share a bit about my experience with Outpost Ministries! When I first came to Outpost, I was a new believer who was on a healing journey and trying to figure out who I was in God’s eyes. Before meeting Jesus, I identified as a lesbian. I was using self-harm as a way to cope with past sexual trauma, and I was lost in a whirlwind of terrible lies I believed about myself. At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect. but I knew God was telling me to go through the Living Waters program that Outpost offered. And let me tell you, that was where some of my biggest breakthroughs happened. I learned a lot about how my past wounds were affecting me and was able to invite Jesus into different situations and allow Him to heal my heart. My small group was a safe place where I was able to process heavy things and receive prayer and encouragement from others. For the first time, things were finally making sense and Jesus was revealing more and more to me who I was and who He has called me to be. After two times through the Living Waters program, I took a big step and joined the leadership team last fall. I have always had a heart to serve and share my story to inspire others. I think one of the most rewarding things for me personally has been watching Jesus move in people’s lives.

From Scott R.

My name is Scott, and I have been involved with Outpost for about a year-and-a-half. Being with Outpost has been a very valuable, though difficult, experience as I grow in walking out my masculinity with the Lord, as well as finding freedom and joy in Christ that I am able to pass on to others. In my time with Outpost, God has brought healing to my masculine identity and my acceptance that I am a man, as well as other deep healing. I have learned how to grieve my wounds with Him and trust Him to bring healing and transformation, to fight for me, and to bring renewal to my mind.

When I was asked by Pastor Jonathan to consider doing an internship with Outpost, I was thrilled! I have a heart to serve, and being able to contribute to an organization that means so much to me excites me. As part of my internship, I am writing a paper on Biblical gender and sexuality. My desire is to dig deeper into the Scriptural basis of what Outpost teaches so I can not only grow from this, but also be equipped to teach others about these topics. This is especially important in a culture that sends many mixed messages that make it difficult for Christians to focus on the biblical basis for what it means to be whole. I have enjoyed being able to serve so far this summer, and I trust God to use this internship to strengthen and produce eternal fruit in me.

As you can see, Outpost is so blessed to have volunteer leaders and interns who step out of the cultural mainstream and choose to walk in Biblical purity. We are grateful to have their hands to serve and their energy around the office as we serve Jesus and His body together.

WHY DOES GOD ALLOW THE CORONAVIRUS? 4 CHRISTIAN INSIGHTS

compassionate hand clasp

Dr. Sean McDowell is one of the keynote speakers at the Restored Hope Network HOPE2020 Conference in June. This year, they have moved the conference online and renamed it HOPE 2.0. Since that makes this conference more accessible, we hope this blog post will pique your interest to check out the conference.

School cancelled. The NBA season suspended. People sick. And most tragic, thousands of people are dead.

Why would God allow such a terrible disease to become a pandemic? If God has the power, why wouldn’t He stop it?

Don’t be afraid of the question

Given that I teach Bible and apologetics, a number of people have been asking me this question over the past few days. My guess is that it has crossed your mind as well.

As Christians, we should not be afraid of difficult questions like this. Jesus said to love God with our hearts, souls and minds (Mark 12:28-31). The Apostle Peter said to be ready with an answer for our hope (1 Peter 3:15). Christianity has a rich history of wrestling with all sorts of difficult questions, including the problem of natural evil.

Caring for people in need

Yet, before we probe this question any further, let me state something up front: I am not going to pretend to address this question entirely. I am not even sure it can be answered in its entirety. God does not answer Job’s plea with a reason for his pain. Rather, He helps Job understand that his perspective is limited, and that God can still be trusted amidst Job’s questions and pain.

Even attempting a question can feel insensitive and uncaring, especially because so many people have been affected by this disease. Thus, if you have suffered because of the coronavirus, please know that I am deeply sorry for your experience. If you are a Christian, and you see people suffering, the first response is to empathize with them. As the Apostle Paul said, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). And then, of course, we need to reach out and love our neighbors.

Four Christian insights about evil and suffering

Rather than attempting to answer specifically why God allows the coronavirus, please allow me to offer four general insights from the Christian worldview. For those who want to go further, I will suggest some books at the end. My hope is that these four points will be springboards for further discussion with your family, friends, and neighbors.

First, the world is deeply broken.

Although the Bible begins with the creation of the world, and of mankind being placed in a beautiful Garden, the world very quickly gets messed up. The entire world is affected when Adam and Even choose to disobey God. Not only does sin break the relationship between God and human beings, but the physical ground itself is cursed (Genesis 3:17-18). The Apostle Paul reminds us that creation “groans” and awaits restoration (Romans 8:19-20).

The extent of sin’s effect on creation is debated among theologians. In fact, some scientists have even observed that viruses are necessary for life on planet earth. Yet Christians should not be surprised by the brokenness of the world, including the existence and spread of deadly viruses. Quite literally, sin has ravaged everything.

Second, God allows suffering and evil to draw us to eternal things.

God does not cause evil. But He does allow it. One reason may be that God knows that life continues for eternity after this present age. It is easy to get distracted by the desires and needs of the moment. Yet if the afterlife is real, God may allow evil and suffering to stir us up to think about eternal life. He may allow us to suffer so we move beyond our momentary pleasures and focus on what lasts forever.

Third, Jesus understands our suffering.

It is only in the Christian faith that God actually experiences human suffering. While Scripture does not mention Jesus getting sick, we do know that he suffered immensely from hunger and stress (e.g., Matthew 26:36-46). The author of Hebrews writes, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (4:15).

The God of the Bible has not abandoned us to our suffering. He has entered into it. He understands when we suffer and empathizes with us. Where is God when we suffer? Part of the answer is that He is right there suffering with us.

Fourth, Jesus has conquered this world.

Sickness, evil, and death do not have the last word. Jesus does. The Apostle Paul suffered immensely. He was shipwrecked, beaten, stoned, and experienced deep hunger and thirst. And yet he refused to lose heart (see 2 Cor. 6:4-5). Why? Because he knew Jesus had already conquered this world. Paul believed in the resurrection of Jesus, and thus refused to grieve without hope (see 1 Thess. 4:13).

So much more could be said about why God allows suffering and natural evil. This post is not meant to offer a simple and tidy response, but to offer some insights about how Christians can think about such a difficult question.

Let’s have conversations with our unbelieving friends about why God allows suffering and evil. But remember, our first task it to empathize with and love them as our neighbors.

This article was originally published on SeanMcDowell.org. We hope you will check out the HOPE 2.0 conference and register to hear more from all the speakers, workshops and testimonies! There will even be a Q&A with the speakers! The cost is only $100. The speakers include Joe Dallas and Linda Seiler as well, both of whom have great testimonies and strong ministries that speak of God’s truth and healing power. This conference is for strugglers, family members, loved ones, friends, pastors, counselors and laypeople.

From the Director: Change and God’s Charge to Rest

In the midst of so much change and having everything shut down for a time during this recent COVID-19 outbreak, I’m actually not that perturbed. I know the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He’s in control. More than that, I know He knows, and I can trust His character that He cares. Honestly, I think my shoulders are getting sore from all the shrugging I’ve been doing, saying, “Eh, we’ll see what happens!” God’s been teaching me many lessons in this season, and one of those lessons is around rest.

Hebrews 4 talks about our future (eschatological) rest as the people of God. This place of rest is the dwelling place of God. He dwells in perfect rest. God’s not anxious because He knows His will will be done. I believe God’s command for rest is a sacrament. That is, it’s a divine reality lived out in our physical world. Keeping Sabbath, resting, is a sacrament of the Sabbath rest that is to come. Even as we strive to enter that future rest, God is gracious and allows us to experience a little taste of it as we rest in His presence now.

This season has forced a lot of us to rest, or at least interrupted our busyness. It’s easy to stop working, but can be hard to truly rest. These changes allow for rest, but rest is also meant to change us!

Sometimes God’s presence can seem intimidating, but I encourage us all to not just distract ourselves. Rather, let’s take advantage of this opportunity to rest in God’s presence, allow the Word to slice and dice us (Heb.4:11-13), and draw near to throne of Grace, knowing that our Great High Priest understands our weaknesses (Heb.4:14-16)!

Reflecting the Father: the Challenge of Becoming Doers of the Word

Drawing of Little boy watching Father tie his tie in mirror

For New Year’s this year, I went to a formal dinner with friends. Normally I don’t wear ties when dressing up, but this time, I decided I would. I learned how to tie one several years ago and thought I would still remember, but I stood in front of the bathroom mirror for twenty minutes trying. Frustrated, close to running late for the event, and about to nix the tie altogether, I asked my roommate to help me out. He grabbed his own tie and stood next to me in front of the mirror. He tied his tie first as an example. Then he undid his work and began to tie it again–this time slowly so I could follow. Soon, I was out the door in a tie looking just as polished as his. 

This one-on-one, how-to-tie-a-tie tutorial has helped me put in context this passage from James 1:22-25: 

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

This passage is a one-on-one, how-to-look-more-like-God instruction manual. Inside is a warning, a command, a challenge, but also hope of a promise.

The Warning: 

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. . . For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”  

When we listen to the Word, we acknowledge the Father is speaking to us. Yet sometimes by choice or by becoming distracted, we stay stuck only listening. Taking no forward action, we are really taking a step back from becoming more Christ-like. We forget our fallen condition, and we move on with our life. We look into God’s Word that is confronting us and only think, that’s nice, that’s interesting, I will really think about that later. If we don’t return to this, it’s an action, not of obedience, but of pride. And if that is our mindset, we are only deceiving ourselves that we look like God. When we look like Him, we are representing Him to the world; but when we only think we look like Him, we are simply representing ourselves to the world. God receives no glory from us reflecting ourselves. 

The Command:

“Do what it says”

God’s Word does not compel us into action by obligation or threat of punishment. He is commanding us to take ahold of the abundant life He has given us through Jesus’ work on the cross. He always has our best interest in mind. If God’s Word is perfect, why don’t we simply do what it says? He is trustworthy. His Word is trustworthy. So why do we willingly put on blinders to what God shows us? It’s because this process hurts, and we want to avoid pain. Seeing the distance between our sinfulness and His holiness can be painful. If we chose to change, doing something about this distance is grueling, yet this is the command. We do not labor alone; the Holy Spirit is our helper. He is the only way to make any lasting change. 

The Challenge:

“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts. . . “

We are blessed as we stay in His Word, suffering through the process of looking into His Word and surrendering everything that does not look like Him. By His help we can cut away the things that God never intended us to carry around. This can be surrendering our fleshly desires; weeping at how many false things we have added to our own image; feeling the pain of parting with our old self in the mirror. This is also the joy of seeing again the face of the One who died for us. 

Earlier in James, we read, “Count it all joy my brothers when you encounter trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).”  Facing trials hurts, but each time you partner with the Holy Spirit to become more like Him, you grow in steadfastness and the ability to chisel bigger chunks off next time. This is perseverance. This is accepting the challenge and finding joy in the process.

Wanting to look like Jesus isn’t all boot-camp-during-a-rainstorm-on-an-empty-stomach. Yes, it’s hard work, but this Word–this “law”– that is shaping us isn’t a list of do’s and don’ts that weighs us down, making life miserable. James calls this the “law of liberty.” It frees us from the burdens we carry instead of adds to them; it gets us back to the basics. His yoke–His law–is easy and His burden is light. 

The Promise:

“Blessed in your doing.”

As we partner with God to reflect Him, He promises we will be blessed–not when we finish (though that will be its own blessing)–but as we labor toward holiness. Our efforts are rewarded. The process might be slow, but if we keep at it, we will see change. We will be different. We will look more like Him. As we dive into living out His Word, our words and our actions will more closely mirror His. Jesus told his disciples that He did only what He saw His Father do and said only what His Father said. So will we.

Those around us will also take note of our reflection. As Paul told Timothy in 1 Tim. 4:15 “Be diligent in these matters, give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.” Acting upon God’s Word isn’t just for the goal of being like him one day. When we begin to act, even our progress–those tiny steps we’ll take–are something God will use to showcase Himself to our communities. 

At the end of the day, tying a Winsor is easy, and cleaning yourself up to look nice on the outside is a breeze. But allowing God to clean your life up is incredibly difficult. We all have areas in our lives that God has spoken into and said, “Let Me help you be set free.” We’ve told Him, “Thanks, but not right now.” We trust Him, but we don’t want to feel the pain of surrender. Yet He commands us to pursue life still. He knows best. So He challenges us to persevere and be honest with Him, ourselves, and those around us. He sees at the end there is blessing and reward–its His to give. He’ll stand back, take a good look at us, and say with a proud, fatherly grin, “looking good.”

From The Director

Sometimes the Bible can be pretty quirky. That might sound weird coming from a pastor, but before you grab the torches and pitchforks, hear me out. There’s a very short story in 2 Kings 6:1-7. The prophet Elijah is with a couple men doing some log-cutting. One of the guys loses an ax-head in the water and cries out, “No, no, no, no! I borrowed that!” If you ever lost or broke something that belonged to someone else, you know that sick-to-your-stomach feeling. Instead of diving in and looking for the ax-head like a normal person, Elisha asks where it fell in, throws a stick in that spot, and waited for the iron to float so the man could pick it up.

I think that’s a little overkill. Didn’t anyone know how to swim? Did they really need to break the laws of physics for one ax-head? Really?! If that’s not quirky, I’m not sure what is. However, I think it illustrates an important point about God–He cares about the mundane.

Throughout my time teaching and meeting with clients this month, God has been reminding me of this . He is not only transcendent; He is also imminent. He is not just in the abstract; He is in the practical. He cares about our ax-head moments and wants to meet us there.

Not only that, I would argue this is the primary way He reveals Himself to us. Our faith isn’t built on abstract moral or legal principles. It’s not an esoteric revelation. Rather, our faith is built upon the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah. God revealed Himself in flesh and blood, dwelt among us, and will dwell among us again!

A lot of us romanticize encountering God. We believe it must be some extraordinarily big experience. Basically, we have great expectations we place upon God when, really, we should simply have expectancy. Expectancy is open to whatever God has for us today or in this moment. This is what the healing journey looks like at Outpost. It isn’t only about crazy breakthrough moments (those do happen, though!), but it’s about the consistent, every day choice to choose God above all else. To trust that He will be working and encountering us in the small and simple as well as the awesome and abstract.

God cares so deeply about us and He wants to reveal that love to us, not just in abstract theological terms, but especially in those practical moments of everyday life and lost ax-heads.

Encounter, Community, and Perseverance

Shoots of a green plant in a terra cotta pot representing growth and perseverance

I first came to Outpost as the volunteer Media Director years ago. I recently went back through some of the video footage that I shot in those early days. It brought me tears. It was so unexpected, but I was confronted with literal evidence of dear brothers and sisters who used to wear their shame and pain on their faces. I know them today as ones with shining faces, faces filled with the confidence of being loved by God and by their community. My favorite part about ministry at Outpost is watching the light of Christ fill the countenance of our participants. They are still on their healing journey, but they have been transformed into ever-increasing glory (2 Cor. 3:18).

There are three fundamental things that I’ve found to be necessary on the healing journey: encounter with the living, relational God; healthy community; and perseverance. I’d like to share a bit about each.

Encounter

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8a.

We have this great promise, that when we give God our weak yes, He will answer. When we draw near to God, He draws near to us. When we knock, the door will be opened to us. When we seek, we will find.

It is necessary, vital, and inescapable that we need encounter with God to be changed. Transformation is a work of the Holy Spirit. It is not something that we can conjure up or fake. Our part is a necessary “Yes” to the process of discipleship and encounter.

This need for encounter is fundamentally why we’re partnered with the Prayer Room. It’s not that there is something especially ‘spiritual’ about the modality of our Prayer Room compared with other prayer practice. The healing partnership with Outpost is really about time. What the Prayer Room affords is extended hours of prayer that force us to stop running from our pain; confront our boredom and cold hearts; and get beyond our own navel-gazing to pray for others.

It can be difficult at first to face into our lack of hunger for God, but in the repeated devotion of time, He encounters us and softens our hearts. In that space of prayer, communion, and encounter, He transforms us.

Community

“…if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

Most of us have struggled at some point with belonging, feeling left out, or unwanted. For those of us who have struggled with addictive or compulsive sin, there is a correlation between our sin struggles and our lack of community. When I am cut off from community, I am at highest risk of giving into the enemy. When I am surrounded with support from the body of Christ, I am empowered to overcome by the experience of real love.

It’s a powerful thing to be loved on our worst day. It’s a powerful thing to know that someone will stand with us when we can’t stand ourselves. It’s also painful, because broken humans hurt each other, but as we risk, choose to trust, and learn to forgive as we have been forgiven, we find belonging and transformation.

Perseverance

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

The work of healing is hard. The enemy comes in with discouragement and, like the serpent in the garden, with variations of “Did God really say?” or “Does God love you, really?”

We can’t dictate what transformation will look like, but if we persevere, it will happen. In my own journey, I always came to the Lord with my laundry list of things to fix. Typically, He ignored my list and gently worked on something else. This was not because of some sort of cheap grace but rather a fundamental fault in my understanding. God was concerned, not with my punishment, but with my healing. As I learned to submit to His Lordship on a daily basis–regardless of my feelings of rebellion, fatigue, boredom, or even joy–He transformed me.

What results from encounter, community, and perseverance? Transformation. It’s not a myth or a fanciful idea. It’s real, it’s the work of the Holy Spirit, and it’s the desire of the Father for us. (Jeremiah 29:11).

We Need You

We want Outpost to continue to stand as a beacon of hope for transformation. As we approach our annual fundraising banquet, we need to raise $41,000 for this year of ministry. If the message of transformation resonates with you, there are a few ways that you can help us:

Consider sponsoring a table. If you are financially able, this is a profound tool to help spread the message of hope. When you sponsor a table and invite people from your network, you are inviting them into hope. Every year at the banquet, we hear from people who are hearing testimonies of transformation for the first time–it’s powerful to see the way their hearts come alive.

Attend or make a gift. You may not be in a position to sponsor a table, but every gift we receive is an important part of our mission.

Pray. We wouldn’t be here without the sustaining power of prayer, and we continue to need your support. Please continue to partner and stand with us in this way, and do not discount this critical ministry. You matter to us!

To register for the banquet or make a donation, CLICK HERE

(Re)Introducing TCJHOP’s New Head Pastor, Dan P.

Two empty chairs face each other with a table for two with pastry and coffee between

We would like to welcome Dan P. as the Head Pastor of TCJHOP! While many of you have known Dan for years, we thought this would be a great opportunity for everyone to get to know Dan even better (or for the first time). Dan has a Bachelor of Arts from Crown College in Music and Bible (1980) and a Masters in Divinity from Bethel Theological Seminary (1986). Previously, he was in the role of Pastor of Ministry Relations. Here is a little Q&A with Dan and Jonathan, the Outpost Director.

Jonathan: Since we are introducing you to members of our Outpost family new and old, what’s something most people don’t know or wouldn’t guess about you?

Dan: “Umm. Coffee? No. Chocolate? No. Uh, well I was a piano performance major in college! Who just happens to love both coffee and chocolate!”

You’ve been a pastor for a long time. How were you first called into ministry?

“I sensed God’s call at around age ten when relatives went overseas as missionaries. That call was strengthened through serving on missions trips in 1975 and 1979. In between, there was always a struggle with my sexuality which pushed me towards greater and greater levels of commitment to Jesus and His service.”

I hear you’ve been at Outpost forever, but how long is forever exactly?

“I heard of Outpost 39½ years ago, and my first visit to Outpost was almost 34 years ago (Jan 1986). I became a regular attender and participant 30½ years ago at the Joshua Fellowship Fourth of July Picnic in 1989. I’ve been on staff for 26 years.”

Who is someone who had a major impact on your life?

“There have been many! But one notable person in regard to my connection with Outpost was Joe Hallett. He was the ministry director at the time I first got involved in Joshua Fellowship. It was through his ‘pestering’ me that the Holy Spirit convinced me to come to work at Outpost Ministries. Joe had an incredible gift of communicating, both through the written and the spoken word. He had a powerful understanding of discipleship when it comes to dealing with our humanity, specifically in regard to our fallenness in our sexuality. He taught me a lot about writing and the important impact of conveying meaning to one’s readers. Writing is work and requires due diligence on many levels and is not limited to fact, grammar, and spell checking! Additionally, words mean different things to different people. To really convey meaning, one must understand his audience and ‘speak their language.’ But mostly Joe was an infectious personality. When he laughed, the whole room erupted in guffaws. When he loved, everyone’s heart was warmed. When he worshiped, not only did we all ‘belt it out with all we had,’ but angels joined the chorus!”

I know you like to joke a lot, so I want to know who or what makes you laugh the most?                    

“One of my mentors typically has a ‘one-liner’ for me as we hug goodbye. His latest: ‘Dan, I like your [brighter-than-snow-white] shoes! Are they new?’”

 As you’ve experienced life and ministry, what is the most important thing you’ve learned about God?

“He does what He says! God is fully integrated, and His Word is His Action is His Identity. He never changes. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. That gives me great confidence in Him. I can trust a Person like that! Combined with His other major attribute of Love, one cannot go wrong in fully depending upon Him. His Justice never changes, either. And Justice and Love combined is the most powerful combination of personal attributes that anyone could ever have. So a God of Justice sees to it that the ones He loves always receive their ‘just desserts’ (truly justified rewards or punishments). Sin deserves punishment. But God loves sinners and therefore allows a substitute to receive the punishment, while simultaneously allowing the sinner who appropriates the punishment to Jesus to go free. On the other hand, Love demands Justice for victims of abuse. If the perpetrator of the abuse is not held responsible and punished for the abuse, the victim then must bear the weight of the abuse himself. That’s unjust. Instead, God Himself, in the form of His Son, Jesus, came to bear the weight of the victim’s abuse and free that victim of that burden. Rarely will a man lay down his life for a friend, yet Jesus laid down His life for His enemies. This is the Gospel!”

Over your years of involvement, what kind of legacy have you seen Outpost leave?

“Outpost has remained true to the Word of God. The importance of this can hardly be overstated. Taken as a whole, the Bible is a cohesive unit, explaining what’s been called the ‘Grand Story of Redemption.’ It explains that homosexual behavior is always sinful in every circumstance without exception. The world hates that message. But the Bible goes on to explain that there is a solution to the sin problem. And that God provided the solution for sin because He so incredibly loves us. He wants to have a relationship with us, and He did all the work to make it happen!”      

What is your hope for Outpost in the future?

Jesus is our Hope. Outpost will cease to exist when Jesus comes. Homosexuality will cease to exist for us when Jesus comes, for there is no marriage in heaven. Life on earth is not easy, never has been, and never will be. It wasn’t designed to be easy. It was designed so that we can choose holiness. When we strive for holiness, a part of our eternal nature, the image of God in us, is revealed. Our flesh weakens that expression of the eternal. But so what? This is just for time, not eternity! Living for Jesus is what matters most in this life.”

What encouragement do you want to share with our readers?

“The power to live for Jesus comes from Jesus. He is our strength, our courage, our faith. When the Holy Spirit lives in us, the life-changing power of Jesus lives through us, setting us free from the bonds of sin.”

Finally, I need to ask my classic ‘youth pastor’ question: If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

“Hmmm. X-ray vision? Nah. While improved eyesight would be a marvel, I’d rather have the patience of Job. And it is listed in Galatians as being part of the fruit of the Spirit, so it is ‘super.’ It comes from life in the Spirit. If that would suddenly (see what I mean?) manifest itself in my life, I would gladly and easily put in my eye drops without complaint … every … 15 … minutes!”

                                         

Merry Christmas!

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be on His Shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
- Isaiah 9:6 -

A Christmas Letter From Our New Outpost Director

I really love the holidays. This season is especially special for myself as the ninth and final Star Wars movie will be released slightly before Christmas! This sequel and conclusion is a big deal for many fellow nerds. This isn’t the only sequel I’m looking forward to, though. I’m even more excited for Christmas II.

What do I mean by that? Most of the time we think of Christmas, we think about looking to the past, nostalgia, and remembering the birth of Christ. However, Christmas is also about looking ahead. It’s not only meant as a time to look back on Jesus’ incarnation but also a time to look forward to His return. We live in a liminal space where the Kingdom of God has been inaugurated, but has yet to come in its fullness.

As the lyrics of O Holy Night say, “Long lay the world in sin and error pining…” That was certainly true before Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God on earth. Yet, creation is still groaning and longing for the redemption of our bodies and the fullness of God’s Kingdom on the earth (Rom 8:19-23). There is still injustice that permeates society. There is still sexual, relational, and every other kind of brokenness. Things are far from ok. However, in the midst of this, we still have hope.

Just as Israel longed for the Messiah in the midst of oppression, we eagerly await the Messiah’s return.  Christ is the Lord. He is seated at the right hand of the Father with all power and authority. It’s not a matter of if we will see the fullness of his Kingdom, it’s a matter of when

This ministry of Outpost has a vital role in seeing the Kingdom breakthrough on earth. An outpost after all represents the furthest reaches of an empire. It’s on the front lines. We are seeing great things as chains are loosed and the oppressed are set free and are continuing our mission to build up the Church and bring restoration to families. This work isn’t easy, and we need your help! We are looking to raise $100,000 to cover our expenses in the coming year. Would you consider partnering with us and giving an end of the year donation? Your support means so much to us.

Merry Christmas and Maranatha!

Jonathan M.
Outpost Director

For the first time, I gave up trying to choose and act on my own, and allow Jesus to take control of my healing. Shortly thereafter, I cam to Outpost Ministries and enrolled in Living Waters. Throughout the course, God continually brought up areas of my life to surrender at the cross. Every week took courage to encounter my brokenness with honesty and humility. Every week I encountered safe relationships. Every week I went to the cross and surrendered. Every week I found nothing there but mercy.

-Living Waters Participant

Generosity + Joy: A Reflection on Matthew 6

Young group of smiling adults walk at sunset under a bridge

Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

Matthew 6:1-4

Several years ago, I was in New York City doing short-term missions work. It was this time of year – cold, crisp, and full of the expectation of Thanksgiving. During the grueling 14-day trip facilitating worship, outreach, and ministry to the homeless, I had one 10-hour break to enjoy the city. A few subway stops later, I was strolling through Central Park with a friend, on our way to gawk at 5th avenue and the finest that New York had to offer. Everything was full of lights and color, and overwhelmingly decadent. We strolled, carefree, and I’ll admit I was a little taken in by it all.

Ahead of us, a light turned red, and we stopped.

Beneath the cold street sign that boldly proclaimed “5th Avenue” was a homeless woman. She was lying on the sidewalk, wrapped in a dirty, gray cotton sheet. Her dark hair was matted into dreadlocks; her lips were crusted yellow with dehydration. Tears flowed freely across her beautiful cheeks as she stared at the ground in desolation. The glamour of 5th Avenue disappeared with a sort of violence, and my heart broke in two.

Her shoulders were shaking in agony as she wept. I placed a dollar in her plastic solo cup full of pennies and nickels. My friend knelt down and tenderly asked if she could pray for her. The woman nodded. We prayed.

Hundreds of people were passing by without a second glance, and who could blame them? Sometimes the need is so great that it is too much for our hearts to feel. We have to shut it out just to avoid despair, but I think we all can relate to getting it wrong sometimes. In that moment I was repenting for forgetting compassion. 

As my friend prayed, the woman raised her eyes. Slowly, afraid of what she might see, she looked up into my face. Surprise registered as she saw that I was crying too. She held my gaze for a long time, like a thirsty man drinking water. She tentatively held my hand with two of her bony fingers. There was not enough space in my heart to contain what I felt in that moment.

Suddenly another woman, in cashmere and leather, aggressively came marching up from a restaurant a few feet away and angrily spat at me, “I just want you to know, we decided to buy her dinner, and they’ll bring it out to her.”

I had to smile. As reluctant as that woman was, our choice to see this child of God in the street, had allowed her to see also. Our conviction begat more conviction. Our tiny, almost insignificant, generosity begat more generosity.


When I was a child (a very legalistic, perfectionist, pastor’s-kid of a child), I would read Matthew 6 with horror. How could I possibly keep every act of charity a secret? Would God be angry with me if someone else knew I was tithing from my $6 allowance? Once I even went so far as to sneak into the office after service with my dad’s key and add my tithe. It makes me laugh now; I imagine I may have caused the accountant some frustration over 60¢.

I didn’t understand the heart of it. I didn’t understand that it was about heart motivation, not a legalistic practice of physically hiding. I didn’t understand that generosity done for accolades receives its reward in the moment. It’s still generosity, it still has value to the one who receives it, but there is something higher to strive for. Generosity done out of care for the other, out of compassion, out of conviction, out of the love of Christ produces not only eternal rewards, but also produces joy.

In the famous soliloquy, Shakespeare penned Portia’s words:

“The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

Like mercy, real generosity blesses “him that gives and him that takes.” Or more appropriately from scripture:

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work 
we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus
himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.”
Acts 20:35

One day we will all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Our selfish deeds will burn away like chaff, and we will have to make an account for our actions. In Matthew 25, Christ admonishes us that whatever we do or don’t do for the least of these, we do unto Him. 

I like to imagine that I will be taken aback by the deeds that Christ honors in that hour: that woman who provided a dinner on the street in New York; a mother turning the other cheek as her son angrily rejects her; a man struggling against the temptation of pornography and choosing holiness; a husband quietly caring for his ailing wife without thanks or praise; an overcomer of sexual sin silently enduring slander from our culture and loving beyond the accusations and hatred. 

I like to imagine that as the Bride of Christ, we will have the opportunity to celebrate powerful acts of unseen love and generosity.

Culture, and so much of the Western Church, has turned its back on people who are struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions and sexual brokenness. These are a people “thirsty” and “given nothing to drink.” Someday, all of the agendas, the rhetoric, and the arguments will fade away, and Christ will bring right judgments about the way that the Church has responded to this sexual crisis. You are part of a different company of people. You see the need, and you believe in healing and transformation. You have poured out incredible generosity to help us bring hope and healing. You have helped bring living water to those in need.

As we enter into Give to the Max 2019 and this season of generosity, would you consider giving a gift to Outpost to help us continue in ministry? Your generosity begets so much more generosity, and your generosity brings joy.

Thank you for standing with us.

Donations can be given online at GiveMN.org on the TCJHOP organizational page, which will be directed to the Outpost General fund.

Meet Jonathan, the New Outpost Director

The words The Next Step written in chalk over dusty shoe prints

How, how did I end up here? I mean that in a tone of gratitude and wonder. Some of you reading this already know me, and many of you do not. So, I would like to share my story of how God moved in my life and got me to where I am today.

A Little History

When I first came to do my Outpost intake in the fall of 2012, I never could have imagined that I would be leading this ministry seven years later! In fact, my initial attitude was that I would show up for a few months, get “fixed,” and be on my merry way to overseas ministry. I soon learned that’s not how healing works. I got serious about my own healing in summer of 2013. Throughout that summer, I learned so much about myself and what God wanted to do in me. That fall, I started meeting one-to-one with former Outpost director, Nate O., and really dug deep into my soul. In this process, I started to see how same-sex attraction was a surface level symptom of much deeper wounds I carried. I had so much love, anger, hatred, and ambivalence toward God and others that I needed to work through. As I continued to struggle, grieve, grow, and receive healing, God continued to transform my heart. God used Outpost to save my ministry calling and my relationship with Him. I came to a point where I was even grateful for my struggle. Without it, I wouldn’t have dove so deeply into this inner-healing work, and I would never have experienced this level of intimacy with my Father, His Son, and His Spirit. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for this ministry and how God has used its leaders, past and present, to bring so much hope, healing, joy, and peace into my life!

Up until last year, I was content just being a volunteer leader for Joshua Fellowship (our young men’s group). Eventually, I was asked to step into a staff position, Student Ministry Coordinator. Since I had a pretty cushy job working for the state’s Judicial Branch (government benefits are wonderful!), I was hesitant to jump into ministry. During this time, my dad received a prophetic word for me. He said that during a worship service, as they called forward people for full-time ministry, the Holy Spirit spoke to his heart that it was my time to do this. This was a huge healing moment for me and reminded me of God’s heart for the restoration of the family.

Just as I was getting comfortable as the Student Ministry Coordinator, I received an invitation from TCJHOP’s Call Committee to consider taking up the role of Director. After many long and prayerful conversations, I accepted the call. I am humbled yet excited to be in this role.

A Vision of Hope and Transformation

God has done such an awesome work in my heart, and in the hearts of many, through Outpost. When I take a step back, I am amazed to think about all the lives God has touched through this small and obscure organization. It illustrates what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (NIV). We may be a type of outpost, feeling remote and hidden, but we also have a gift for the Church. An outpost is the first line of defense. We have a calling to build up the Body and Bride of Christ. The ministry of Outpost has been entrusted with a powerful message of hope and transformation.

Hope and transformation are what this ministry is all about. We need to provide HOPE to our brothers and sisters who have none. We also need to continue to see and proclaim TRANSFORMATION in the lives of individuals, in our churches, and in the Church. This is the core of the gospel.

This will require us to continue to dig deep and do the hard work. We will continue to grow in intimacy. Partnership with the Prayer Room at TCJHOP is a core aspect of this. We need prayer. We need intimacy. We need intimacy through prayer! This is where true transformation happens. It is not a work of our own, but a work of the Holy Spirit.

Of course, we have some room to grow. There are many churches and communities who do not know ministries like Outpost even exist! This is something I hope to change. I believe there is a great field of ministry opportunity. But we need to ask ourselves: will we be ready for it? Will we answer the call of what God is calling us to in this next season? Will we hold onto our hope and proclaim the truth of transformation?

I certainly believe we can do all of this. I believe God has great plans for this ministry, and I humbly ask that you all would continue to walk with us as we enter this new season, while being open and ready for what God may be calling you to do. It just might surprise you as it surprised me!

A Note from Alissa, Outgoing Acting Director:

Last September, when my appointment as the Acting Director of Outpost Ministries moved from temporary status to permanent, I was at a loss. It has only been by the grace of God that I have functioned for the last year-plus in this role. There were good days and hard days, and I made more mistakes than I’m comfortable with, but through it all God was faithful. It is with tremendous joy that I am stepping down from the role of Acting Director, and back into my position as the Executive Pastor. I couldn’t be happier about Jonathan’s appointment as the new Director of Outpost Ministries. Over the last year, working with him has been one of the highlights of ministry. He is strong, steadfast, endlessly optimistic, and full of vision for where God is leading Outpost. It is an honor now to be able to serve alongside him in his new position. I’m not going anywhere and will continue to lead the administrative department and do ministry.  But I am delighted to be released to do the things I am called to. Praise the Lord for raising up the right person to be the Director, and His continued goodness toward Outpost Ministries! 

Alissa Holmes
Executive Pastor