Why Does Outpost Speak to Churches?

I love when Outpost gets to speak to churches and ministries. It’s a great opportunity to connect with believers and to help them navigate difficult questions and topics. In the past three months, we’ve been invited to speak at two churches. One event was a full Distinctions seminar, and one was a youth leaders training.

Why do we do this, though? What does talking with churches have to do with Outpost? I believe that speaking to churches fulfills our mission statement beautifully.

Encounter God: We at Outpost want people to experience God’s grace and kindness as we talk about difficult topics. God knows when to comfort and when to confront. Before every speaking engagement, I always pray that He will do what is best for each person who is listening. It is not our job to convince anybody about anything, but simply to present the truth and love that God speaks. Through this, each person can encounter God and hear what He wants to say.

Equip the Church: I find great joy in helping the Church be the Church. I love hearing stories from those who attend our seminars and events. Even if there is still uncertainty, people express having more peace and confidence as they approach biblical identity and sexuality. We long to see the Body of Christ be the place where no one shies away from pain, brokenness, and confusion. Unfortunately, the Church has a terrible record in this area, often being perceived as “bigoted” and judgmental. Our desire is to help churches and individuals navigate LGBTQ+ issues. However, navigating those issues requires love, respect, a hunger for truth, and a hunger for transformation of identity in all people. Sharing our experiences and stories provides a roadmap for doing just that.

Establish Outposts of Restorative Community: We want to see spaces where people can come in whatever condition and seek Jesus together. All of us, regardless of our background, are broken. It does not matter if you “identify” as this or that, or even if you have (as far as you know) never struggled in the areas of identity and sexuality. Everyone needs the Gospel, and everyone needs to work it into their lives by the Holy Spirit. This is a crucial aspect of the Gospel: Jesus only came to heal the sick, and He cannot help you if you believe you are fine. The reality is, you and I aren’t fine unless God comes into your life. That’s why Outpost was so critical to my healing journey. I needed a place where I could share just how messed up I felt, where I could be received in love and be pointed to Jesus. All of us can, and need to, find places to pursue God together, especially in the areas of greatest struggle or hurt.

This is why we speak to churches and ministries. This is why I love when churches ask us to walk alongside them. And this is why I love when individuals take initiative to reach out and get us connected to their congregation. In the end, it is an opportunity for believers to apply the Gospel, for His glory and for the ultimate good of all people.

I invite you to pray and consider how our ministry can walk alongside your church. It would be our pleasure to help you and your local body of believers to minister to those who are struggling, or to talk with youth or youth leaders about understanding God’s design for true life. May you be blessed as you look to Jesus for life!

New Year, New Office, Same God

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

Dear Friends,

I’m glad to be in our new office space. It was quite the journey to get here, but we are continuing to settle in and unpack. It already feels like our new home. Looking back on the past seven years at our previous location, we have a lot to be thankful for. While there, Outpost experienced highs and lows, times of prosperity and times of painful struggle. Things have certainly changed even within the three years I’ve been on staff. And yet God has been with us, loving us and touching the lives of men and women struggling with deep pain and sin patterns. Now God has provided a new place to continue ministering to the sexually and relationally broken Body of Christ.

I was recently reminded of the Isaiah passage above, where God declares how He is doing something new. It is easy in this season to be excited about the future and push through to the next big thing. And God is certainly calling Outpost into a new season: We are sensing His call to focus on some new areas of ministry as we walk alongside people and equip the Church. However, it’s worth understanding what the Bible means when it talks about remembering and forgetting, lest we misapply God’s grace to us.

From what I have studied, when the Bible talks about remembering and forgetting, it is not simply talking about mental recall. For example, when God promises that He will remember the sins of His people no more, does that mean God is incapable of recalling our sin? That can’t be the case; He’s God, after all! Rather, it means that God is choosing to not engage with His people based on their sin. Also, when the Bible says God remembered His promise to Abraham and his descendants, it can’t mean that God was saying, “Oops, I forgot that I promised to bless Abraham 400 years ago. I should do something about that.” It must mean that God was tangibly (from humanity’s perspective) acting on His promise.

So, when God says to forget the former things and to perceive the new thing He is doing, I don’t believe He means that we ignore what has happened and just bulldoze forward. After all, we can’t celebrate God’s goodness if we don’t remember how He has met us in the past. Rather, God calls us to not dwell in the past. To dwell is to make your home there, and God calls us to make our home with Him, not in a “golden era,” or even in the most painful experiences of our lives. God wants us to be fixated on Him, thus allowing us to hear His call and to go where He is going.

God Himself is unchanging, but He is in the business of making things new. The new things of God are still built upon His work on the Cross, the work of drawing people to Himself and bringing greater freedom and joy in Him. And while God may constantly call us forward, He does so on the basis of His eternal Word. The Gospel is the foundation on which Outpost stands. It is from the Gospel that God calls Outpost into new territories, even as His call on our ministry remains the same. Even if we miss the mark, either by dwelling in the past or missing God’s direction because of our sin and self-absorption, we can repent and start again, knowing that His mercies are new every moment and day (Lam. 3:22-23)!

Father, open our eyes to see the new thing You are doing. May we may be a part of Your work to bring streams in the desert! May we remember and be controlled by the Gospel, resting in the glorious riches of Your grace. Thank you, Jesus, for cleansing us and making us new creations. May You be glorified, and may Your Gospel be declared to all so that people would encounter You and know the freedom and joy You give. Amen.

The Tangible Hope of the Gospel

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…”

Ephesians 1:17-20

I love getting to help teach our biblical sexuality and identity seminar, Distinctions. Whether we are speaking to pastors and ministers, church youth groups, parents, or congregations, it is fun to unpack what the Word of God has to say about our identity and how that leads us to love others well based on the truth of the Bible. However, in our ministry walking alongside those struggling with sexual and relational brokenness, there is an underlying question that we must address.

“Is there any hope for me?”

I firmly believe all we teach, and yet I have struggled with hope throughout my own healing journey. When I feel like I have taken a step forward, it seems that many times I quickly do something, or something happens, that makes me feel like I took three steps back. I believe God has something for me, yet I have felt abandoned or lost at times. And there have been times where the Bible has felt unhelpful and dry. Talk about a messy process! During my three years working at this ministry, I have heard similar stories from participants time after time. I also know that those in the LGBTQ+ community accuse Christians and ministries like ours of offering false hope and promises that will lead to horrific consequences. That raises another equally important question: what does it mean for us to have hope in God and His promises?

Recently, I have been listening to a lot of sermons by the late Tim Keller on biblical hope. Dr. Keller notes that while our English word “hope” connotes uncertainty (“I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow.”), the Bible’s definition of “hope” is a joyous certainty in Jesus’ finished work that shapes our lives. Human beings, Keller argues, are inherently hope-based creatures, and our believed-in future shapes how we live our life now and how we see the world. In our own pain and darkness, in a world that increasingly seeks to snuff out the light of the Gospel, how can we live into the hope that the Bible talks about?

The Ephesians passage above gives us the answer: the Holy Spirit must open our hearts to receive and to know the hope to which Christians have been called (v. 18). This is not, however, merely correct doctrine: it is rooted in the experience of relationship with God as He truly is (v. 17). If I am not relationally connecting with God, tangibly receiving His love, and feeling His presence, the result is simple: the hope offered in the Bible stays abstract and doesn’t help me when I am deeply hurting. As I encounter God more and more, I begin to remember the hope of the Gospel when I am tempted to despair or I feel that God is absent. His light shines through my perceived darkness and pain. It is there I learn to abide in Christ and rejoice.

This hope in Christ is what we at Outpost, and all Christians, are called to. We are not called to try and shove our beliefs down peoples’ throats. Rather, we are called to shown how wonderful God is and how a personal relationship with Him far outweighs what culture or legalistic religion tries to offer. But if we are not experiencing and living out of the hope of the Gospel, we don’t have anything tangible to offer those who don’t yet know Jesus. After all, who leaves what they know for a vague promise? When we experience the love of Christ for ourselves, we more naturally overflow in our ability to love people where they are at, while still holding to the truth of God’s Word and His design for sexuality and identity.

If you are a follower of Jesus, I urge you to seek personal connection with Him more and more. Experience the hope God has called you to through the Gospel and seek the Holy Spirit’s help to be renewed! If you are not a follower of Jesus, I urge you to see if Jesus is who He said He was. Relationship with Him provides hope that goes beyond anything this world offers. For all of us, I pray we would know God more personally and live in the life-shaping hope He offers through Jesus. Amen.

Do You Want to Change?

Reflections on 30 years at Outpost

“Do you want to change?” This was the question my pastor asked me in the spring of 1988. What I thought was a sexual question turned out to be a spiritual one. It was the question of repentance, as with the New Testament word for “change of heart.” In 30 of my 35 years of change since then, I’ve been privileged to serve at Outpost in various capacities. I started in 1993 as “Associate Director” and wrote these words for Outpost News in 1994: “We simply want to assist those who are already God’s children to work out their salvation in fear and trembling in regards to the areas of homosexuality and personal spiritual growth.” This hasn’t changed!

There are a number of transitions however, that I’d like us to remember. In September 1996 I wrote in my newsletter that the month “marked a new beginning for Outpost. There was a significant change in leadership within the organization with three out-going board members leaving the board. This also translated into … a promotion! I am now the Executive Director of Outpost, Inc. … Bringing an organization through transitions such as we are experiencing is a real crisis according to the famous Chinese definition: their word signifies both danger and opportunity. I also realize that … transitional leaders, like interim pastors, often move on after the storm clears.” (DAN’S WORLD, October 1996) Things are still in transition in 2023!

I took a look back at 2001, which was another transitional period for us. We moved our office to a bank vault and found out later that the very first Outpost office also contained a bank vault! We jokingly referred to it as “Your secret is safe with us!” Unfortunately, 2001 was also the opposite of a bankroll for us, as we struggled intensely with finances that year. We closed down the Joshua Fellowship program and lost a key volunteer leader in Living Waters, forcing the unexpected closure of that program for the year. Surely, “Outpost is dead,” was the threat of the enemy. We had shriveled up and nearly died. But like the parable of the sower in John 12, after the seed was buried, it burst forth in new life. We started a “Noontime Prayer Break,” where we invited folks to come in for prayer from noon to one each day.  And then 2002 and 2003 brought more resurrection life to Outpost. Prayer increased, Joshua Fellowship was re-tooled and Living Waters restarted. We were “back in the saddle” once again.

In 2008, following a year of eye surgeries, my tenure as CEO changed with my vision loss. By 2011 I could no longer function effectively and stepped aside to make room for a new CEO, Nate Oyloe. With a new “operating system” our Board catapulted the ministry into a period of tremendous growth. By the end of 2015 a new kind of “death unto resurrection” occurred and Outpost merged into a new organization called Twin Cities Justice House of Prayer (TCJHOP). Prayer was a major focus, as we had our prayer room open over 40 hours a week. Outpost had grown to four regular support ministries: Joshua Fellowship, CalebSpirit, Elijah Company and Living Waters. And then a worshiping congregation brought it all together. We had 17 paid staff members and filled up a waning congregation’s church building with spiritual vitality throughout the work week.

The enemy had designs on us. Through a series of unrelated events, our staff was compromised in different ways. We seemed to lose our focus, even on the board level. And one by one staff members left. We are now down to four, a level we haven’t seen in nearly 20 years! It is a time for mourning, yes, but also for planting. When the seed falls into the earth and dies, new life springs forth in abundance.

We’ve seen this happen time and time again in our history in various ways. Sin had almost ruined us when our former executive director, Jeff Ford, decided to go back to gay life in the early 1980s. We started getting “famous” with our TV ad campaign in 1997, only to be pulled off-task. Then, we saw financial distress with the fall of the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001, the medical loss of vision for me in 2008-2011, and distracted vision in the years 2016-2020. We have “fallen into the earth and died” many times in our past. The enemy hates us and our mission, so he works overtime to stop us. Yet God will prevail. I believe Outpost’s best years lie ahead!

In these times, I often revisit the vision and scriptures God used in my early life to help me focus and stay on task. One of them is Galatians 6:1, “If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” This is what we do at Outpost Ministries. We are not here to get famous or make a profit. We’re not here to talk to the media who hate our message and will do anything to stop us. We are here to walk alongside folks who’ve decided that Jesus is worth all the suffering and struggle we go through in order to follow him.

In the 1970s, well prior to my involvement here at Outpost, Nancy Honeytree wrote a song called “Live for Jesus.” It was recorded by multiple Christian artists, including Evie. The point of the song is clear and simple: “Live for Jesus, that’s what matters. And when other houses crumble, mine is strong!” This is referring to Luke 6 where Jesus is teaching and calling people to follow him. He says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” In a word, we are here to call people to trust Jesus for healing and to obey him in all things. Discipleship. That’s who we are. That’s what we do. It’s in our DNA as an organization, dating back to our inception in the mid-1970s. And it’s what Outpost will continue to do after me, for many years to come.

Thank you for the many years of support and fellowship in this ministry. Please come for coffee and pie on September 16th to celebrate what God has done!

The Spirit of Caleb

But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land.

Numbers 14:24 (ESV, emphasis added)

Dear Friends,

These words from Numbers are the guiding verse for our older men’s group, CalebSpirit. This group is essentially a fellowship group, defined as two or more Fellows in one Ship, struggling against the tide to reach their destination. Of course, the Old Testament imagery of Caleb and the Exodus is the centerpiece of our approach to ministry. Released from slavery to sin, now en route to the Promised Land of freedom in Christ, these men are on a journey together.

Our itinerary includes focused discussion throughout the school year, generally about Christian discipleship and sometimes more specifically about the topics related to LGBTQ+. We often include weekend retreats in September and May, and even January, schedule permitting.

Along with the book study, we have other occasional events like dinners, movie nights or holiday/birthday parties. During the summer months we ramp up the outdoor activities like mini-golf, kayaking, biking, croquet and of course, food events like BBQs, restaurants and ICE CREAM!

Perhaps the sweetest part of our fellowship takes place “off schedule.” At our age, we seem to be attending more family funerals together, like Mom’s, Dad’s, spouse’s, and sadly, even some of our men’s children’s funerals. We walk with each other through the impacts of caring for aging parents, difficulties in children’s lives, and even separations and divorces.

Life is not easy on the Road to Zion. But, oh, when we get to the Promised Land, do we have something to look forward to! There will be no more sin and no more suffering when we Look in His Wonderful Face! So, we walk side by side, offering encouragement, strength and hope to each other along life’s way.

We all need that, don’t we? I’m so glad that I’ve had many communities like this in my life. I have much to be grateful for!

The example of Caleb is a powerful one. Think of it. He was about 40 years old and the head of his family when Israel set out on the Exodus. He bravely spied out the land with 11 other scouts. Only his and Joshua’s reports came back engendering hope and a future for the Children of Israel. Ten naysayers—faithless men—put a halt on the whole thing. Only he and Joshua held out for hope and kept the faith.

Now, imagine again. Caleb watched all his adult friends drop dead in the wilderness. He heard all their grumblings, murmurings and complaints, yet kept the faith. He had a different spirit about him. He was “one in a million.” And if there were 2 million people on this march, Joshua was the other “one in a million”! God uses extraordinary people like Caleb.

But what made Caleb extraordinary? Was it his education? No, he was a slave. Was it his lineage? Perhaps, as he was “one of them” in the line of Jacob. Was it his hard work? Maybe, as he did claim to be as strong at 85 as he was at 40! (See Joshua 14:10f. for the full story on how he eventually took the land for his inheritance.)

Actually, the one characteristic that set Caleb apart from his ten Israelite “brothers” was this: he fully followed YHWH. He kept the faith! He submitted. He yielded control. In essence, he was meek.

Meekness is, generally speaking, not seen as a social value or a positive masculine virtue. But God saw it and rewarded him for it. Meekness, as we are learning in our summer study of the Beatitudes, is “strength under control.” It is like a horse that has been broken and now, submitting fully to the jockey, can win races. As Colin Smith aptly observes in his book Momentum, wild horses don’t win races! Broken horses do.

Caleb was rewarded first with life itself. He did not fall in the wilderness, but was preserved. Secondly, he was rewarded with an inheritance that he would pass on as his legacy for generations. He was the chief of the tribe of Judah, and if you recall, Jesus was of the tribe of Judah, too. Talk about legacy!

So, it is in the same spirit that the men of CalebSpirit are building a future in and for the Kingdom! Perhaps their legacy will bless generations to come.

PS: If you’re interested in joining CalebSpirit, please contact me at the office phone 763-592-4700 x101. I’m happy to help get you started!

Called Out of Darkness 2023

On June 22, we held Outpost Ministries’ 19th annual worship service to celebrate our being “Called Out” of the dark drudgery that we had lived in as slaves to sin. As a celebration of freedom, it was appropriate that we have moved our service to June, just days after our national celebration of Juneteenth, or Emancipation Day (from slavery). What a beautiful evening of joyous celebration we had! We re-visited the church where we held our 30th anniversary in 2006, some 17 years ago, Cornerstone Church Crystal.

We were led by a worship team that really “got it” in terms of freedom and joy. We sang and praised the God of our salvation and deliverance. The testimonies this year were all from our staff members, including myself. After each testimony of God’s grace, we took a moment to pray for the various groups in Outpost that we each represented: CalebSpirit, Elijah Company, and Joshua Fellowship. Through it all we were reminded that God is up to something good at Outpost Ministries!

Finally, the fellowship time afterwards was warmly appreciated as cookies and coffee mingled with conversations among friends old and new. It’s these relationships that are now possible as we all walk in the light of God’s redeeming forgiveness and grace.

Thank you to all who joined us for this special evening. We look forward to seeing everyone again soon!

Streams of Living Water

“I can’t explain it, but somehow our identity is inextricably linked to our parents.”

Dennis Rainey

In the fall of 2000, I talked to a friend who was doing Living Waters at his church. At the time, he was struggling with relational wholeness, and for him, the struggle was with his sexuality. After talking with him and hearing how the Spirit was changing him, I sensed that Living Waters was worth a try for me.

I grew up as an only child of two working parents, with an active imagination, ample free time, and a knack for exploring. My father had a coffee table full of pornography, and the material was a regular way for me to find escape and pleasure. Addiction to pornography began at an early age, with sexual activity starting in my mid-teens. Compounding my struggles, I was molested at a young age by a babysitter and another older adult. I recognize now that my father didn’t know how to be present with me and so attention, identity, belonging, and affirmation seemed to elude me. As I became an adult, I chose to continue with what felt good. I focused on working, buying a lifestyle, paying attention to my looks, taking drugs, smoking, and making sure I was dating the most attractive women in front of me. These behaviors spiraled into isolation within myself and I never allowed anyone to get close. Sexual addiction had become a sentence and was getting worse. Thoughts of other pleasures and instant fixes rolled through my thoughts and imagination. Same-sex attraction and fantasies seemed to be a next step. All I saw was living a life where I chose to do whatever made me feel good.

The testimony of my friend changed all that. I realized I had to find something that would fill the void I was recognizing in myself. Joining Living Waters at Outpost and wanting to change was the beginning of what is now a lifelong journey.

Upon diving into the work, reading the books, and partaking in the groups, I saw how choices I had made in my past still affected me. I had to go deep into areas that, for me, were hard to confront. Idolatry, covetousness, and narcissism were a few of the traits that needed to be addressed. I realized that I was either unable to make decisions or only made decisions that made me feel better. Mother wounds and father wounds were recognized over the years as well. I saw how these wounds were not necessarily my parents’ fault, but who I was and how I reacted to their actions left a mark. I saw how past trauma left me in a constant fight or flight mode. Flight was my choice, and symptoms of PTSD in me were quite evident. Being constantly on guard left me always on the defensive. Guilt and shame were my identity.

Thankfully, through many seasons of Living Waters, my relationship with God The Father became something that I could trust. Trusting and saying “yes” to Him opened doors that I could have never imagined and am eternally grateful for. Each season brings more revelation, bringing me to a level of now walking in who He is and who I am in Christ.

For me, Living Waters is not just a program to complete and then move on to the next self-help group. It is not a service to attend on Sunday, a book to read, or an event to take part in. Instead, Living Waters is a time to truly take responsibility for my actions, bring my hurts to God, and seek healing. Knowing these truths and knowing Him is something many Christians confess today, but we can miss an important part of relationship with the Father: the deep healing of our past. We are no longer who we were, but we miss who He has for us to become. Living Waters is a place to start embracing that journey.

The truth is, Living Waters is for all believers! It is a safe place to engage in the healing process. Healing from past hurts, trauma, and abuse is His specialty.  Together, we deal on the front line with the roots of false identity and fear, which we all have. Typically, these come from hiding and are the symptoms to be faced and walked through to receive His healing.

We all have the same sin Adam and Eve had, and we receive the same consequences. It looks something like this:

We disobey instruction -> We feel shame and hide from God -> We blame someone else for our actions -> Our relationship with God is broken -> We experience long-term consequences -> Life goes from bad to worse -> Repeat

The choice we make is whether we will continue to repeat the cycle, or if we will break the chain! And we can break the chain, due to the ONE difference: we have Jesus Christ! With Jesus and through a great church, mentors, friends, and men and women who work at humility, honesty, honor, healing, and hope, we are the body of Christ. We can walk with one another into our true identity.

Will you join me and look forward to more transformation? Will you be present with the loving, faithful Father? Will you join me in saying heartily “YES!”

1 John 4:17 “Because as He is, so are we in the world.”

The 2023-24 Living Waters program will be held this year on Saturday mornings starting on September 23. We will update the Living Waters page as the class plans and application process are finalized, so check back for all the details.

Connecting to the Gospel

But I consider my life of no value to myself; my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.

Acts 20:24 (CSB)

Last week in Bible Study, our group looked closely at this statement from Paul of how he saw the “why” of his life. Here, Paul clearly states that his overall motivation was to testify to the gospel. It seems like a very broad statement, and yet the broadness makes this motivation all the more powerful. No matter what situation Paul encountered, no matter how comfortable or painful, his way forward was always clear: share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Whether or not we identify it, each one of us lives life with a core motivation. Perhaps that motivation for you is avoiding pain, or feeling loved, or achieving control over your circumstances. For many years, my primary motivation was to never be seen making mistakes or not knowing an answer. On the outside, my life looked great. But on the inside, I was always afraid of being found out and known as a fraud.

From Motivation to Mission

Thankfully, when we claim Jesus as Savior and Lord, we are redeemed completely, including our motivations. The inward focus of our old thinking keeps us isolated and disconnected. In our new life, however, we find a “why” that looks outward, encouraging us to bring ourselves and our stories out into the world. I’ve known for many years that God designed me as a connector. I am made to connect people to the things they need, whether that is relationships, information, or resources. The more I walk in the newness of my redeemed identity, the more I get to do that in the service of the gospel.

Here at Outpost, I have the privilege of connecting people to hope and healing for their relational and sexual brokenness. Even though my job title has changed multiple times since coming on staff, I’ve consistently been able to participate in making these connections. I love to see and hear people’s reactions when a connection is made and they take the first step to encountering God in this area of their lives.

Connecting to Teaching

The first way I make connections is through our seminars and speaking engagements. When someone calls looking for teaching and training for their church or ministry, they talk to me. I get to help them figure out what their group needs, and how we can best meet that need.

Sometimes, I direct people to one of our already created seminars. Our Distinctions seminar is a great overview to help people understand and respond to issues around LGBTQ+ identities and questions. Our Foundations class, taught every month in-house, gives an introduction to how we understand our created being and what the healing journey entails. I love to help groups tailor the content for their particular audience, whether young adults, leadership teams, or multi-generational congregations.

In some cases, the best option is for two or three of our staff members and volunteer leaders to visit and share testimonies of transformation through Jesus. After sharing, we hold an extended Q&A time with the group we’re visiting. Our stories of God’s work are powerful. The stories encourage and teach and remind the listeners that no one needs to walk the path of life alone.

Connecting to Resources

The second way I make connections is by keeping our recommended resources list updated. While we primarily use the list when we visit churches or attend conferences, the list is also available on our website. At the top of our “Resources” page, you will find a link to a pdf file of book titles and video resources. The list is organized by topic and includes titles and videos for all age groups, including young readers and their parents. We love to help people find more ways to learn and be encouraged by the authors and video hosts.

Connecting to Hope

The third way God is using me to make connections is through planning our special events. Whether planning a fundraiser or a worship service, my goal is always to bring people together to encounter the love and truth of the living God. It is through these types of encounters that hearts are softened and lives are changed.

What a joy it is to have traded my old motivation for a new mission. Whatever my job tasks, and wherever God leads me to serve, my mission remains: to connect people to what they need most. That is, to connect people to the living God, that they, too, may experience hope and healing in Jesus’s name. Won’t you join me in sharing the good news with others? I pray you find (or are reminded of) your new motivation today. And may you be empowered by God to walk out your mission in love and truth.

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For more information on seminars or other training, call the office and ask for Wendy. Also, be sure to join us for our next special event, Called Out of Darkness, at 7:00 pm on June 22 at Cornerstone Church Crystal. More information on all these items is also on the website, www.outpostministries.org.

God’s Great Love

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

        his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

        great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

        “therefore I will hope in him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24 (ESV)

This past week, my Bible study readings were all about the great love God has for each one of us. I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not know about God’s love for me. Still, this set of readings and reflections caught me up short. Two Bible stories I have known for years came alive in a new way.

First came the story of Hosea and Gomer. Hosea was a prophet of God, and God instructed him to marry and remain faithful to a woman – Gomer – who would be repeatedly unfaithful to him. Hosea’s marriage was a physical picture of God’s faithfulness to and love for His people, Israel. In chapter 3, Hosea has to buy Gomer back from slavery. He does so willingly, redeeming her debt and restoring their relationship.

Second was the story of Israel being given the law. The writer focused on the verse where God says “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5, CSB). God is not jealous of Israel, but jealous for Israel. God knows that no other thing in all creation will provide what the people need. God’s great love leads Him to remind them to worship only Yahweh, that they may be satisfied recipients of God’s faithful love for generations.

As I reflected on these stories together, the eyes of my heart were opened anew. I was overcome with the sense of just how great God’s love is for me. There are hardly words to describe the fullness of that moment. It was truly stunning.

God’s love for me is so great that He will pay whatever it takes, willingly, to bring me back to Himself. I may pursue other gods by giving my time, talents, and treasure to fleeting things. Yet God continues in loving me. God goes so far as to willingly pay off my debt that I might be redeemed and restored to relationship with Him. And this willingness comes directly from that great love. The God who created me and knows me best also knows that I will not be fully satisfied by any created thing, no matter how good that thing is. Only relationship with God is able to bring me an abundant life that Jesus spoke of in John 10:10.

This abundant life—alternatively rendered as “life to the full” in the NIV—is a life that is fully redeemed, healed, and restored. God is not in the business of doing things half-way. Rather, God is in the business of taking us from death to life. That is, God heals our hurts, repairs our brokenness, and restores us to wholeness.

In my life, God’s restoration came once He revealed the great fear I had of being fully known by other people. It turned out that I truly believed that if people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me, and they certainly couldn’t love me. I spent many years hiding my true thoughts and feelings from everyone around me. Sometimes I even hid them from myself. It was too painful to face my hurts, so I tucked them away under lock and key. To the outside world, I presented a false version of myself. This false version was always okay, had everything together, and could always find you the right answer for whatever question came up.

Of course, our pain never does stay completely hidden. Eventually my pain came out in the form of a major depressive episode. I could no longer avoid having my true thoughts and feelings known by others. Thankfully, God had given me a church, a Bible study group, and a house of prayer filled with people ready and willing to love me like God does in the midst of my pain. Through many hours of sitting with God and with God’s people, I was able to really hear God’s great love for me. And that love poured into all the hurt places, washing away the pain and putting the broken pieces back together again.

Through the healing process, I also learned the goodness of sharing my true thoughts and feelings with those who love me. While I still struggle in this area, the experience of being truly known and loved by God and God’s people has brought me freedom to walk in a more abundant life than before. And I look forward to continuing to heal as I am rooted more and more in God’s love.

This hope that I now have—that wholeness and abundance are God’s intention for me—is the hope we offer to everyone who comes to Outpost. No matter the pain, no matter the struggle, no matter the brokenness, God’s love for us gives us the hope of healing. Even life-dominating issues like unwanted same-sex erotic/romantic attraction and confusion about identity are within God’s power to heal. Lamentations 3:22-24 provide one of my favorite summaries of God’s love. God’s love and mercies are new every morning. They never cease or come to an end. God is faithful to bring about what He has promised: life to the full. This is truly good news.

Maybe this is hard for you to believe right now. I know I spent many years not really believing that this good news was for me. Let me encourage you: this good news is for everyone. Jesus reminds us in John 3:16-17 of this fact:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.” (NASB)

The world is not everyone except you and me. The world is everyone including you and me. This is the truth of the Gospel. God loves each and every one of us. He created you, knitting you together intentionally, and is calling you to follow Him. May we each be willing to receive this great, unceasing love and allow God to heal our hurts, repair our brokenness, and restore our lives to the full.

Join us for more stories of God’s great love at the spring banquet on Saturday, March 25. Come hear how God is moving in the lives of our participants. Be encouraged by their testimony and by an evening of fellowship, worship, and vision-casting. Registration is open through Tuesday, March 21 on the events page.

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.”