Transitions, Transitions

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! Along with the change to a new year, there are a number of other changes happening at Outpost Ministries. But first, a review of the changes from last year.

The first part of 2022 was a busy time. First, we bade farewell and congratulations to Jean, our Elijah Company (EC) and Living Waters (LW) Coordinator as she retired in January. Jean had been with Outpost part-time for about ten years. Then in February we welcomed her back as a volunteer LW leader! Ah, but then we said goodbye to Marti, our bookkeeper, who moved on in order to develop her own bookkeeping business.

Along about that time, we did some hiring! First, we outsourced our bookkeeping by contracting with SimplifyChurch, an agency that specializes in church finance. Then we hired Craig as our new EC Coordinator. That’s just the first two months!

In March we lost our Donor Relations manager, Joy, who had been full-time with Outpost-TCJHOP for about four years. Her jobs were able to be “in-sourced” and were taken up by Annetta, Wendy, and Scott. (More on them later!)

In April we said “bon voyage” to Jonathan, our President and Joshua Fellowship (JF) Coordinator. Jonathan sailed on to warmer climes—literally—as an Executive Pastor somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean. And just so you know, everyone gets into the transition act at this point. You see, I was then appointed by our Board of Directors as Interim President, while maintaining my other roles as CalebSpirit (CS) Coordinator and Senior Pastor (basically, I maintain spiritual oversight over the whole operation).

So as to not leave us high and dry, in March we hired Matt as JF Coordinator. Matt has made a one-year commitment to this very part-time position, as he is a relative newlywed and also working his full-time career job in architecture.

After a half-year of everyone getting acclimated to the changes, we said “Happy Retirement” to Annetta, who retired as Office Manager and Donor Relations Manager on November 30. It was a second career for Annetta, and thus a second retirement. But don’t worry, she’s married to the Interim President so she’ll still be around! She’s already managed to get in some volunteer hours since retiring!

Annetta’s tasks have been insourced to Wendy and Scott. Wendy has come on full-time, so she’s easily absorbing most of the Donor Relations and Human Resources tasks. Wendy will also have the time to focus on increased fundraising and outreach activities, including event planning. Scott, in the meantime, is upping his time to 25 hours a week and will be taking on the Office Manager responsibilities. Scott is doing additional fundraising in hopes of becoming full-time by the end of 2023. We will have no trouble finding jobs for Scott to do as this develops.

At the moment, then, we are left with needing to make two new hires. One, a JF Coordinator to replace Matt by this March. Two, a new President to take over my Interim President duties. I’m all in favor of replacing myself with a new President as soon as possible! Please pray for the Board of Directors and me as we seek to hire the new President. Then add another prayer for me as I seek to replace Matt in JF.

The sheer number of personnel changes is overwhelming to a small organization like Outpost. A year ago we started with eight paid staff. Only three of those eight remain! We now have only five staff total: two full-time and three part-time.

With the search for new President, the Board and I are well aware of the risks of hiring the wrong person to lead our organization. We’ve seen what happens to other organizations when their leadership fails to follow the biblical mandates. They yield their prophetic voice and spiritual authority to social pressure. They weaken and eventually close their doors. Once the prophetic is lost, souls are lost, too. We do not want to give the enemy a foothold!

This hiring decision will set the stage for the next phase of Outpost Ministries and hopefully will carry us far beyond our 50th anniversary in 2026. We want to remain strong and retain a voice of power and love for the 50 years beyond that! I urge you again, please pray for Outpost Ministries! This will be a critical change in our organization, offering new hope and new vision for an increasingly hopeless and blind world.

Let us pray like Isaiah for Outpost Ministries to be the light that people walking in darkness will see. Then pray like Jesus taught in Matthew 5:16, “that they may see [Outpost’s] good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Dan's Signature

The Hope in Advent

I’ve picked up on a theme this year: Advent is “in” again with Christians. Suddenly, it seems, there are dozens of new Advent devotionals out there. And this is appropriate, for Advent marks the start of the new Church Year, which starts the fourth Sunday before Christmas. This year, November 27 is New Church Year’s Day.

Advent is a period of waiting for what’s to come. It hearkens back to Isaiah 9:2 about “The people who walk in darkness”, for that’s what waiting feels like. ‘Tis all darkness and gloom! But it also bespeaks a glimmer of hope. Something good is coming!

Paul describes this same longing in Romans 8:23, which also parallels our experience today: “We groan as we eagerly wait for our adoption, the freeing of our bodies from sin.”

One of the greatest Advent hymns pushes our thinking forward to awaiting the second coming of Christ when we will be free of sin:

He rules the world with truth and grace / And makes the nations prove

The glories of His righteousness / And wonders of His love…

Upon Jesus’s return he will cause everyone to prove just how glorious his righteousness is and how “wonder-full” is His love! Imagine a world that agrees that LGBTQ+ is sinful and is awed by Jesus’s love!

At Outpost, of course we focus intensely on righteousness. Most of us struggle with unrighteousness in our sexuality. We long for real righteousness that is not a performance, but truly heartfelt goodness. Half of this struggle, it seems, is about “doing our sexuality right,” while the other half is about “doing it right for the right reasons.” That’s why I quoted from the GW translation, where it says, “the freeing of our bodies from sin.”

Additionally, we provide space for people to meditate on God’s love for them, to imagine the wonder and marvel at the attractiveness of that love. It never ends! Jesus said, “I will never turn away anyone who comes to me” (John 6:37). This Advent, we invite you to “Come! Let us adore Him!”

The Fellowship of CalebSpirit

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

Numbers 14:24, ESV, emphasis added

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dan's Signature

The Gift of Noticing (& an Auction Update)

Dear friends,

Fall has always been my favorite season. Maybe it’s the coziness of the clothes, maybe the beauty of the leaves, maybe the apple cider and pie, maybe the start of school. Whatever the reason, I can manage the heat of a Minnesota August by remembering that soon September and October will bring all sorts of things that I love. This year, however, I was so caught up in my tasks and to-do list that I almost missed out.

Have you Noticed?

Last week, God impressed upon my heart that I was about to miss the season. I heard God encouraging me to look up and notice the world, to see the beauty of creation during this time. And what did I see? Mostly, I saw trees in so many beautiful colors: fiery reds, vibrant oranges, and soft yellows. I saw a beautifully clear blue sky, bright and sunny, celebrating the crispness of the breeze.  And then, as I walked to my office door, I was surprised by a single purple flower, blooming alone.

This flower was definitely unusual. Between the rocky ground, the colder-than-average temperature, and the lack of any other flower nearby, this flower seemed to be blooming just for me. I didn’t remember seeing it the day before, and I certainly don’t recall anyone planting purple petunias along that strip of soil. My heart swelled with joy, much-needed in the midst of my hardship-filled week. I stooped to take a picture, to savor the moment, the bloom, and the feeling.

Isn’t that just like God? First, He invites us into a new season and a new way of looking at the world. As we respond and accept that invitation, He is already there, waiting with a gift for us. That morning, for me, the invitation was to notice and appreciate God’s handiwork. The gift was a small bloom of joy to soothe my weary spirit.

Keeping Focus

Seeing the flower that morning also reminded me of my experience with the Fall Auction. The auction is arguably my favorite event. Between the excitement of gathering items beforehand, the fun of the bidding, and the good food and conversations, my extroverted spirit soars. However, it’s easy to let the numerous tasks and stresses of preparation overwhelm me. This year, the stresses were increased by our general financial situation.

During the week immediately preceding the event, I heard a different invitation from God. This invitation was similar to His words to Martha in Luke 10:41: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; but only one thing is necessary;” (NASB). In this time, while preparation was necessary, my tasks and to-do lists were not the focus of the event. Rather, my focus needed to shift to gathering with our supporters, sharing what God is doing through the ministry, and allowing God to provide for our needs.

As I shifted my gaze from the tasks to the face of Jesus, I found the gift of His peace and presence in abundance. And then we saw God provide. A total of 55 people participated between the online and in-person events, about 1/3 of them people who hadn’t participated before. We raised just over $10,000 to help cover our deficit, more than half of which were outright gifts, not bids. And while we didn’t reach our goal, God did more than we expected based on the number of registrations.

God is Faithful

In the short weeks of following up with winners and processing donations, I have been humbled again by God’s faithfulness. The ministry of Outpost belongs to God; it is through Him that we live and move and have our being. He will provide for all we need, to the praise of His glory, not ours. And I am so grateful to you, our supporters, for your faithfulness in giving as God calls so that hope and healing can go forth in God’s name.

I don’t know what God is inviting you into today. But rest assured, wherever and whatever that is, God is already there. And the gift you will receive upon arrival will meet your need and feed your spirit. Go ahead, accept the invitation of your Creator. And be greatly blessed by the result.

Yours,

signature of author

A New Creation

This article originally appeared on CHANGED Movement’s Love & Culture blog in April 2022. used with permission.

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

Several years ago, I was part of a small group of men. We all struggled with issues around sexual purity and identity. We met weekly to encourage and support each other. During one of the meetings, after rejecting most of their encouragement regarding God’s love and view of me, one of the men confronted me.  He asked, “Are you so arrogant to believe everyone here is wrong and you are right?” The truth was, yes. In fact, I was that arrogant. In that moment, the Holy Spirit spoke to me clearly saying, “They see you like I see you, they see the real authentic you. Rodger, your vision is distorted by lies, you don’t see that you are a new creation.” See, I saw myself through the distortion of self-applied    labels and identities. I didn’t recognize the new man. No wonder walking in newness of life felt impossible.

The Old and New Testament speak of the hope that one day God would come and save His people. This salvation wouldn’t just be rescuing them from the evil surrounding them but it would be a salvation that completely changed the person who had faith in God. While this is fantastic, He promises to do even more. God said His Spirit would live in his followers, empowering them to live a righteous life, a righteousness that flows from the inside out1. The Prophet Ezekiel wrote, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”2 The Old Testament hope has become the New Testament reality. Paul writes “the gospel is the power of God to save all who believe.”3 That is, when you believe this good news you encounter the power of God and it changes you, it changes everything!

Knowing and experiencing this power is central to Christianity. Paul asked God to give the Ephesians “the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened so that you would know…what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe…” Paul continues, it’s the same power (his great might)  “that he (God) worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places…”4  WOW, breathe that in a few times, it’s intoxicating in the best way!!! The very same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us. Because of this we are saved, born again, resurrected into new life, adopted as daughters or sons, and we’ve been released from slavery to sin and death and set free to live a righteous life. This power is so powerful that it has made each of us a new creation. And, the Holy Spirit lives in us!

In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul writes about the ministry which he is, indeed, we are all called, the ministry of reconciliation. Paul states, “From now on we regard no one according to the flesh….”. He stopped assessing or judging people according to their appearance, what he could see with his eyes. He had initially done so with Jesus (and the fledgling church) and it didn’t work out well. Thankfully, this kind of vision problem can be healed by encountering the Risen Christ.

The effect of this change is we no longer see with distorted vision. Instead of seeing the distorted person, we see the authentic person who is in Christ; we see the new creation. Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”5 Again, this is a good time to stop for just a few seconds and think about this truth. When we came to Jesus we were made a new creation. The word he uses for “new” means “all things are new, previously non-existent, far different from what they were before.”6 This is outrageous; I am not the man I use to be! Christianity is not rehabilitation for those addicted to sin. It’s not therapy to piece together a fragmented psyche. No, the old Rodger died, he was buried. Now, by faith in God, His power has made me a new creation, born again, resurrected into new life. And, so are you.

I may not feel or behave like a new creation, but I am. As a new born baby, born again into this walk of faith, I will develop and mature. It is by faith that we are saved! And it is the fruit of this faith in his grace, love and power that we mature in him. With faith that I am who God says I am, I challenge other voices that identify me as something other than what God says in Scripture. I recognize that my appetites, desires, or lust don’t define. My body’s sexual response doesn’t define me. God defines me and I see myself through His eyes. I see that I am a new creation. And, with hope in Christ and the testimonies of others, I “run the race set before me.”7 

Now that you are a new creation, do you see through those new eyes? When you look at others, how do you see them?  When looking at followers of Jesus, do you see the new creation?  Many disciples continue with the labels they had prior to faith in Jesus. They continue with labels that are no longer true. No worries. These labels are like “yellow sticky notes” stuck on a woolly sweater. With just a breeze, those labels are blown away. You don’t need to try to rip off the labels or confront the person, but rather love the authentic person Christ made them to be. Jesus will bring a breeze at just the right time. I encourage you to see with new eyes. Look for the authentic in others. For believers, this is always their new creation. For those yet to come to faith in Jesus, ask the Father to see them as He does. Never label someone with a label the Father would not give them.8 Ask the Lord who they really are and interact with them from that perspective. Honor them and love them as the Father does.

I pray that you encounter the love and power of God so intimately that nothing causes you to look back but that you see everything as lost for the sake of the gospel. I pray you no longer see yourself or others “according to the flesh,’ but as God sees. I pray you see yourself as a new creation and engage how different you are. You are not who you were! You are a disciple, a follower of Jesus, a Christian. This is your authentic self. Nothing else identifies you. I pray you and others are able to see in you the fruit of intimacy with Jesus, His righteousness, peace and joy increasing in you and through you!!!

1 See Matthew 5 In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus “raises the bar” regarding righteousness. “You have heard it said…but I say….” The righteousness of the Kingdom of God flows for inside out; it is not measured only by action but by one’s heart, feelings, fantasies and attitudes. 

2 Ezekiel 36:25-27

3 Romans 1:16

4 Ephesians 1:17-19

5 2 Corinthians 5:17

6 The mean of “new” from the Strongs, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g2537/esv/mgnt/0-1/

7 Hebrews 12:1; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Timothy 4:7

8 Kris Vallotton, one of the senior leaders at Bethel Church, Redding, one day had an encounter with a young man who had shared the labels he had applied to himself. When Kris spoke to the Lord about the young man, the Lord said to Kris, “Never label people with labels I would not give them. See them as I do.”

Knowing the Love that Surpasses Knowledge

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)

Dear friends,

I am amazed at the prayers of Paul in the New Testament. Paul had a keen sense of the Christian life and our deepest needs. Ephesians 3:14-21 is no exception. What strikes me about this passage is that Paul prays for Christ to indwell Christians. However, doesn’t Jesus already indwell Christians by the Holy Spirit? Yes, but Paul also prays for Christians to know the love of Christ “that surpasses knowledge.” Paul is making a distinction here between knowing about God’s love for us and knowing God’s love experientially.

Why does this matter? I believe it is a matter of life and death.

First, let’s look at the straightforward way this difference matters. To know about God’s love for you through the Gospel is not the same as to have received it yourself. The Gospel requires a response through repentance and faith; knowing the truth of the Gospel alone cannot and does not save anyone. To be led out of spiritual death into life, each one of us must chose to receive the Gospel. That is, we must each know it in our heart and spirit as well as in our mind.

The second way this matters is more complicated. To know about something and to experience something are not the same. Jonathan Edwards once talked about the difference between knowing that honey is sweet and actually tasting its sweetness. To know about something without actually having experienced it leaves us with a sense of disconnect. The same disconnect is true in relationships. I might know about a certain celebrity, but that is not the same as having a personal relationship with that celebrity.

Where am I going with this? In my Christian walk, this passage in Ephesians has been significant to me because of its implications for my relationship with God. If God’s love is abstract to me, it does not affect me at all. If, however, God’s love is something I experience deeply and regularly, my capacity to respond to, love, and obey God from a place of fullness is greatly increased.

It’s not just my story, however. Both in Joshua Fellowship (JF) and Living Waters, I have heard participants share that deep down, they are not truly sure God loves them. I can relate to that belief; I believed for years that God deeply disliked me even though I was saved. Learning about Jesus is not enough. One must “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8) in order to know Jesus’ love in the center of his or her being.

That is why I love being a part of JF and Living Waters. I get to participate in God’s work to see men and women freed from the shame and lies that keep them from experiencing God’s presence and love for them. That is why I am excited to see how God uses the remainder of JF’s Strive summer course to bring the young men into deeper freedom and joy. And that is why I look forward to the upcoming Living Waters book study, where men and women will dive into God’s love and acceptance of them through the breaking of lies and healing of wounds. Praise God, for He is able to do infinitely more that we can ask or imagine, to the praise of His glory! Amen.

Another Year of HOPE

Dear Friends,

During the first week of June, Annetta and I traveled to Ridgecrest Conference Center in western North Carolina for the annual HOPE Conference of the Restored Hope Network (RHN). RHN is a network of like-minded ministries which Outpost helped to found in 2012, under the banner “Jesus Christ has life-changing power.” RHN replaced the apostate network of ministries called Exodus, Int’l, of which Outpost was also a founding member in 1976.

The Conference started with “Member Day.” This yearly meeting of network ministry leaders is held to take care of network business including elections, ministry reports, fellowship, and so on. The remaining days are attended by leaders, ministry participants, family, and friends. The activities include plenary worship sets, keynote addresses, breakout sessions, and ministry times.

Some of the highlights of the conference were:

  • The variety of keynote addresses. We heard from Anne Paulk, RHN Executive Director; Dr. Julie Hamilton, LMFT; Dr. Paul Hruz, pediatric endocrinologist; Tamika “Uproot that thang” Sanders of Coming Out, Inc.; and Jeff Simunds, Director of Tower of Light Ministries in Seattle.
  • The worship times focused on Jesus Christ and His work in our lives.
  • A series of inspiring testimonies from Laura Perry Smalts of First Stone Ministries, Oklahoma City; Dee Barnes of His Wonderful Works ministry, Atlanta; Mike Newland of ReStory Ministries with the Assemblies of God (and a former Outpost intern!), Minneapolis; Maria Nistri of Exchange Ministries, Orlando; Gene and Anita Eggman of AboutHOPE Ministries, Springdale, AR; and Rev. Bob Stith of the SBC special ministry to sexual brokenness, of Living Hope Ministries, Dallas.
  • A posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award presentation to Ted Schneider, founder of AboutHOPE Ministries, who passed away this past January.
  • A set of helpful breakout sessions:
    • Dr. Linda Seiler spoke on “The Five Streams,” discussing five differing Christian views on the LGBTQ+ question.
    • Maria Nistri talked about “Earnestness and the Great Exchange”.
    • Dr. Paul Hruz of the Catholic Medical Association and the Christian Medical and Dental Association (with Laura Perry Smalts) shared insight into “Practical Issues in Addressing Sex-Discordant Gender Identity.”
    • Dr. Julie Hamilton presented  “Silence of the Church on LGBT Issues and Steps Toward Change.”
  • Plenty of free time to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We want to encourage everyone reading this to consider attending an RHN Hope Conference in the future. Next year, plans are in place to offer the conference completely online. This will allow for lower cost and easier access to the conference materials. In 2024 the conference will once again be live and in-person at a site to be announced. In the meantime, conference videos will be made available this summer via www.restoredhopenetwork.org. Please take advantage of this excellent opportunity to increase your knowledge and experience of the ministries operating out of biblical clarity and conviction!

In Christ,

Dan's Signature

Hope for the Hurting

When my wife and I joined Elijah Company (EC) we said, “We need help and hope.” We were so broken and hurt. Going into our first meeting, we felt like the Samaritan woman at the well, and Jesus was asking us for water (John 4). We were reminded of Jesus’ words to her in verse 10: “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” However, we didn’t feel worthy of God’s help. Like many, we wanted a reset button for our family. Instead, we received the gift of living water from God: words of truth that bring us the hope and healing we needed.

Focusing on God’s Truth

This month, I’d like to share a couple of these words of truth that we have learned and are learning through the ministry of EC. First, we need to keep our eyes fixed upon God’s truth. One of the most common thoughts a parent has when a child identifies as LGBTQ+ is “I must have done something wrong.” Parent guilt is real, and it is from the enemy. I have battled this myself, and it is one of the reasons we got involved with EC. In these times, it is important to direct ourselves back to God and His Word. An important scripture to claim daily is Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” This truth brings us hope and helps sustain us through the struggle.

The Battle is The Lord’s

Second, we must remember who is the actual enemy. In one of our EC devotions, we studied Deuteronomy 20:1-4. The Living Bible says it this way: “When you go to war and see before you vast numbers of horses and chariots, and an army far greater than yours, don’t be frightened. The Lord your God is with you…For the Lord your God is going with you. He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you the victory.” As parents and family of loved ones identifying as LGBTQ+, we can easily feel that the whole community is the enemy. That is not accurate. Truly there is a high degree of organization in the LGBTQ+ community, especially through social media and chat rooms. Oftentimes, our loved ones are coached in their words and behaviors. However, our enemy has always been the evil one, Satan. Peter identifies this for us in 1 Peter 5:8 where he names our enemy as the devil. In other places, he also refers to the devil as Satan, slanderer, and adversary. The LGBTQ+ community is filled with sons and daughters who have been told lies from the evil one. Every one of them needs our prayers. Let us remember Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Let us respond as in Ephesians 6:13: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Joyful Hope

As I close, I’ll say what we in EC remind each other of regularly. We claim the words of Paul in Romans 12:12 when he says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” These words represent the essence of what we experiences in an EC meeting. We acknowledge the hurt we carry for our loved ones. We are joyful in the knowledge our Lord has a plan, a future, and a purpose for our loved ones. The truth of God’s Word sustains us in our grief. Finally, being faithful in prayer maintains our hope.

Thanks be to God!


Elijah Company is a prayer-based support group open to parents, families, and friends of loved ones who are overcoming unwanted same-sex attractions, who struggle with gender confusion, or who identify as LGBTQ+. Each time we meet we have a devotion and time to share and update one another on our lives. Then, most of our time is dedicated to praying for our loved ones. If you are or someone you know is interested in joining the group, contact the office.

All Things New

As an avid gardener, spring is one of my favorite seasons. In springtime we watch as the muck and grime left by winter is washed away by cleansing rains. The rains in turn nourish fresh green sprigs of new life. This is a beautiful picture of the transformation experienced by those of us who have found freedom from unwanted same-sex attractions and other forms of sexual and relational brokenness. Our new lives of joy in Christ are as different from our past life of sin and sorrow as bright blooms and blossoms are from the dreary grey of winter. The new life of spring reminds us each year of the joy and freedom we’ve found. We remember that Jesus breathed new life into us when we thought we were beyond hope.

Tending to Growth

As any gardener knows, however, a beautiful and fruitful garden is only achieved through much hard work and consistent attention. The soil must be tilled, the weeds pulled, the rocks dislodged, and the garden plot protected from pests. Once new life sprouts, it must be carefully tended, watered, and fertilized for it to mature and produce fruit. So it is with the life of a believer. If we do not dislodge the lies of the enemy from our minds, uproot the selfish desires from our hearts, and allow the Spirit and Word of God to minister to us and teach us, we are not likely to see much growth or transformation in our lives.

The Tools for Growth

The Joshua Fellowship (JF) program is specifically designed to help young men struggling with sexual and relational brokenness achieve victory over sexual sin and receive a renewed identity in Christ. While this work is taking place throughout the year, over the summer we place a special focus and emphasis on doing the hard work of healing. We focus on practical tools for defeating lies, fighting temptation, and overcoming sexual and relational brokenness. Overall, we point participants back to the source of abundant life: Jesus.

Our Summer Strive program and the Encountering Jesus Internship provide young men the opportunity to confront their challenges head-on with the encouragement and support of the JF community of men. We take on passivity and addiction, replacing them with action and service. We reject lies and sin, filling ourselves with the truth of God’s Word and joyful obedience. This hard work changes the young men who go through our program. The summer Strive program is credited by many current and past participants as the turning point in their journey out of sexual brokenness and confused sexual identity.

Growth Produces Fruit

What makes the summer Strive program so powerful is that it reconnects men with their God-given identity. In today’s culture of gender fluidity and androgynous sexual identity, many men struggle to connect with who they were designed to be and what makes them thrive. That’s why we started Strive. We want to help men reconnect with their masculinity–not as culture defines it, but as God does. Overcoming a life-dominating issue like same-sex attraction is not a purely self-focused act. It is a generative act that spreads life and the fragrance of Christ to many others. When men rediscover the truth of their identity, gender, and sexuality, they are empowered to be good gifts to their community. Men who devote themselves to being transformed into the image of Christ go on to become movers and shakers in the Kingdom of God.

Growth Comes From God

How do we do this? We meditate on the character of God as displayed in scripture. We offer thanks to God in all circumstances. We pray. We worship. We look to the wisdom of those who have walked this path before us. We entrust ourselves to Jesus and let go of control. We fight alongside our brothers. We get up when we fall. And above all, we rely on the God who is over all things, and on the sacrifice of His Son for our salvation. What it really comes down to is this: we don’t do it, God does. As the Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah, his Word will not return empty, but will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent. His work may still be in the early stages of growth—almost imperceptible to the untrained eye—but given time it will spring forth to abundant eternal life. May God’s work be accomplished in your life and the lives of those for whom you labor in prayer.

Thanks for Being There

From the 2022 Spring Banquet. Used with permission.