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PRESS RELEASE FROM HOPE FOR WHOLENESS NETWORK

McKrae Game, former Director of Hope for Wholeness Network (HFWN) has recently come out as gay and has made statements about his discontinued employment with HFW and about the use of “reparative” and/or “conversion” therapy being used by Hope for Wholeness Network. It has also been reported that McKrae Game is a licensed therapist. We want to clarify some inaccuracies and share from our perspective.

McKrae Game is not a licensed therapist and has no degree in counseling.

The former director also stated that he was suddenly fired. That is inaccurate. The board of HFW walked with McKrae for over a year concerning issues that led to his resignation nearly two years ago. These issues were brought up and a plan for correcting them was put in place. When those issues were not resolved, the board of HFWN asked for McKrae Game’s resignation.

His separation from the network was not an impulsive decision, but was decided after a full year of unresolved problems. This decision was one of the most difficult and painful we have ever made as a board.

As to the practice of “conversion” or “reparative” therapy, HFWN and our affiliated ministries do not endorse or practice “conversion” or “reparative” therapies. Most ministry leaders are not licensed therapists. We disciple individuals who are conflicted about their sexuality in regards to their faith. We utilize faith-based groups and pastoral discipleship to address issues from the individuals’ past and help them reconcile their faith and sexuality. We never use coercion, shaming, nudity, touch therapies with any individual who might come to our affiliate ministries. We believe in, and respect, the self-determination of the individual and the path that each has chosen. We invite you to read our policy statements on “conversion” and/or “reparative” therapy at our Policy Statements page on our website.

In conclusion, the board of HFWN deeply loves McKrae Game. We have no animosity toward him. We pray for him and his family and will continue to do so.

It’s Possible: Gays and Lesbians Can Have Happy Marriages

It’s Possible: Gays and Lesbians Can Have Happy Marriages
by  Doug Mainwaring
The Witherspoon Institute

When Christian rock star Trey Pearson announced he was coming out of the closet and separating from his wife and their two children after seven and a half years of marriage, he said that his wife had been his “biggest supporter” and that “she just hugged me and cried and said how proud of me she was.”
If this account is exactly true, it is troubling. Think about the degree of social decay required—especially within Christianity—for a Christian wife to be so conditioned by popular culture that she immediately congratulates her husband for abandoning her and their children, rather than reaching out for help to preserve their marriage and family. A man who walks away from a marriage because of same-sex attraction is no different from a man who abdicates his role as husband and father for sex with other women. We shouldn’t view Trey Pearson’s actions as heroically true-to-self, but as simply selfish.
I should know. I walked away from my marriage nearly twenty years ago because of my same-sex attraction. I made a stunning error in judgment. Thankfully, our marriage has been very happily restored for more than five years now. Along the way, I learned that marriage is more than just a tradition or a religious or social construct. Monogamous, complementary, conjugal marriage is a pearl of great price worth investing one’s entire life in, a pursuit that surpasses all its imitators and impostors.
Many Same-Sex-Attracted People Are Drawn to Complementarity and the Solemnity of Marriage
Popular culture now espouses the notion that heteronormativity is harmful to those with same-sex attraction. But many who experience same-sex attraction would disagree. In seeking conjugal, complementary marriage rather than anti-conjugal, anti-complementary relationships, we seek nothing more than to fit in with the entire universe, to be part of the wonderful ecosystem of humanity and all of nature. Non-conjugal, non-complementary sexual relationships are a synthetic lifestyle, at odds with nature and the entire cosmos. Not only do we seek marriage in the only true sense of the word, we are dedicated to its solemnity and the sanctity of our marriage vows.
One man recently told me:
Over the years, I have had passing thoughts of giving up my family and marriage for a same-sex relationship or partner, but decided that in no way is it worth destroying my family and marriage for that. There is enough unhappiness in this world without me adding to it. Life isn’t all about me; I have created a family and children and I have a responsibility to them that I could never forsake. So over time, even when feeling same-sex attraction, I have chosen not to dwell on it and to remain faithful to my marriage and family. I draw immense satisfaction from that.
I don’t think of myself according to my sexuality or sexual desires, but rather as a man, husband, and father. I’ve formed many relationships that support that self-understanding and I’m content with it. I suspect that there are many married men like me with these same-sex attractions but who choose to remain faithful to our first commitment to wife and family. It’s no big deal to. Really. In fact, it’s the greatest of honors and privileges.
Like many of the married same-sex attracted people who have spoken to me over the years, this man wants to remain anonymous, because he wants to protect the happiness and security of his marriage. He would never do anything to undermine or jeopardize his family. He is one of the many unsung heroes whom the world will never know. I wish many more would step forward publicly, but I certainly understand why they choose not to.
Last year I contributed an essay to a book, Living the Truth in Love: Pastoral Approaches to Same-Sex Attraction. Here’s what a few of the married same-sex attracted men I spoke with had to say:
Kory Koontz:
I am 52 years old, a father to five awesome kids, and have been happily married to my wife, Colleen, for 20 years. I am an actor, writer, marathon runner, and I have SSA [same-sex attraction].
I may not have chosen to have SSA but I certainly can choose to deal with it according to the dictates of my own conscious [sic], mind, and faith. I stand as a voice to an alternative choice: that a man with SSA can be fulfilled emotionally, physically, and sexually in a traditional relationship and marriage, as the provider of the family and the patriarch of the home.
Jeff Bennion:
In my twenties I would have thought it was impossible that I could ever marry a woman, and even less possible that I would be happy and fulfilled in every way in that marriage. Eleven years and counting now, and I am happier than ever. That includes sexually, relationally, and emotionally.
I don’t blame people who doubt me—if I hadn’t experienced it myself, I would find it dubious myself, it’s so counter to the dominant cultural narrative out there. People like me have always been around, but we seldom have any reason to speak up. I choose to do so now not out of any desire to help myself, but to advocate for those who are in the position I was in in my twenties and early thirties, and even more, for the children whom I believe deserve (if at all possible) to be raised by their biological parents if at all possible.
Joseph Allen Stith:
I don’t remember ever being attracted to someone of the opposite sex since my earliest memories. As a boy, I kept my feelings to myself knowing I would not be accepted if anyone knew how I felt. I joined the United States Marine Corps to learn how to be a man and learn masculine characteristics I lacked. After 6 years of service, I fell in love with the only woman I have ever been attracted to and we were married. We’ve had the privilege of seeing our children grow to maturity in a loving home as husband and wife. My greatest happiness in life has come from the privilege and responsibility of raising my family in a way I have chosen according to my beliefs. Grandchildren now visit our home and our family remains close more than thirty years since our marriage.
Had I followed my own desires and impulses toward other men, my life would be very different today. . . . My children have been told many times by their friends from single parent homes, just how fortunate they are to have both a Mom and a Dad even with our reversed non-traditional roles (I do the cooking and I hate sports—totally opposite of my dear wife, and it’s ok).
And there are others. Many others.
Dale Larsen, now father of four and grandfather of nine, recognized his attractions at an early age. After nine years of marriage, and during a period of stress, his attractions “skyrocketed.” A gay relative “convinced me that I needed to be who I was—that that’s who I am and I needed to live my life that way.” She arranged for him to go on a date with another man, and Dale recalls:
I looked over and I saw a couple, his brother and sister-in-law, and their little kids and they had the same aged kids I had and the same two boys and a girl. And all of a sudden in my mind, I saw my own family sitting there and the words that came into my mind were, ‘If you continue down this path, and you can, you will lose them.’ I made a decision that that was it—I was coming back home. I wanted a family so bad. I wanted my wife.
I loved my wife. Blaine Hickman: “my feelings don’t . . . define me. I’m not what I feel; I’m what I do.”
Bill Seger: “We can choose our destiny. We can choose the direction we want. It’s not easy . . . but the blessings are enormous.”
The Power and Beauty of Marriage
In the spring of 2015, I originated an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court that came to be known as “Same-Sex Attracted Men and Their Wives.” It was submitted in Obergefell v. Hodges in support of allowing states to maintain the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Twelve same-sex attracted men, married to women, contributed to this effort. Our goal was to let the justices know our stories, which have been regularly suppressed. We are not supposed to exist. Our existence—and the thriving of our families—threaten to undermine the narrative that same-sex marriage is the only route to happiness for the same-sex attracted.
Here is the conclusion of our brief, which sums up the message we wanted the justices to hear:
Striking down man-woman marriage laws on the basis of constitutional discrimination would thus send a message to the same-sex attracted that there is only one choice for them, that man-woman marriage is unattainable, that they are acting against their nature for desiring it, and that pursuing it will be dangerous for them, their spouses, and their children.
But the opposite is true. The man-woman definition of marriage is not an insult; it is an ensign, beckoning to anyone—regardless of sexual orientation—that the union of a man and a woman is of unique significance in light of its procreative power and complementary capacity.
The man-woman definition of marriage—conjugal, complementary marriage—is an ensign not because it is just a good idea, or the best among many. It is a bright ensign because it is the truth, undeniably displayed in nature and in each of our physical beings. We are made male and female, as complements to each other. And when male and female come together, they unite as one flesh. When two males or two females attempt to join together sexually, they remain two males or two females. To base marriage solely on romantic or sexual interests requires averting our minds from easily discernible truth.
Our stories are not based on “reparative therapy,” so-called attempts to “pray away the gay,” or other efforts to change sexual orientation. Rather, we fully accept the reality of our same-sex attractions and fully affirm our individual self-worth, just as we are. We also attest that our attractions do not dictate our relationships. While we may not have a choice about our attractions, we do have a choice about our relationships. And rather than choose the now culturally acceptable and popularly celebrated same-sex relationship, we instead have chosen marriage. The real thing.
Here’s what the proponents of same-sex marriage and the many who have passively accepted its arrival may never be able to comprehend: sex within marriage—and marriage itself—is about generously giving of ourselves, not taking what our eyes and minds covet. I would rather live freely according to reason, in harmony with the universe, than as a prisoner living according to the dictates of nothing more than hormone-triggered impulses.
Same-sex marriage is not the only option for gays and lesbians who seek personal fulfillment and familial happiness. No matter what the Supreme Court may say, marriage to a member of the opposite sex is not some kind of meaningless impossibility for the same-sex attracted. It’s the fulfillment of our deepest longings.
Doug Mainwaring is a marriage and children’s rights activist. This article is adapted from his forthcoming book, Marriage, Ground Zero: The Real Battle Dawns.

“Let It Go” by Jason Wright, Valrico FL Jason’s experience at 2015 HFW Conference

I had the privilege of attending last year’s Hope for Wholeness conference entitled “Masterpiece In Process,” at Ridgecrest in North Carolina. 
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I did go expecting to hear more from God. And I did.
The first morning session on Thursday began with an invitation to take a broken piece of china or glass from a basket. We were to use a Sharpie pen to write on it something we wanted to let go of, and then lay it down at the foot of a cross on the last morning. We were encouraged to carry our piece in our pocket over the course of the conference. I wanted to grab a bunch of pieces honestly, but I took one translucent piece of glass that I liked. The word Anger instantly came to mind as something to write down, but very quickly I sensed the Holy Spirit say to me, “Anger is a symptom or response to a deeper issue.” 
So I set out to listen for God to speak to me about the root of my anger, so I could write on my broken piece. That piece literally stayed in my pocket for the entire conference, and I occasionally took it out and held it in my hand as a way of praying.
At some point during Friday I sensed the Holy Spirit confirm to me that the root of my anger was Control. That afternoon I went to a session called “The Father’s Heart.” It was very powerful and seemed to touch everyone present. After the session, I shared with the presenter, Tom Cole, about my anger. I shared how I was concerned that my own children could be suffering “Father Wounds” because of me, and that troubled me immensely. Tom confirmed that my children will have “Father Wounds,” because it’s inevitable for everyone, due to the fact that no father is perfect, and we all make mistakes. This realization doesn’t let me off the hook as a dad, but it does release me from trying to be perfect—something I can never be.
I shared about losing my best friend when I was 13 years old, and asked if that could be a source of my feeling a “loss of control” in my life, and if that contributed to my control issues, which in turn fuels anger when I can’t control things. Tom said, “That could be it.” I already knew that significant trauma or loss can cause anyone to feel like their world is out of control and can cause us in turn to want to maintain control in our lives, wherever possible. I am learning day-by-day and step-by-step to let go of controlling things, and to simply trust Him more.
Then something happened on Saturday morning during worship that was incredibly significant for me. We were led in a worship song I had never heard before (I learned afterwards that it was added at the last minute to replace another song). The song was “It Is Well.” We sang a couple verses, then came a bridge in the song, and the words hit me like a powerful wave, so I just sang through my tears. This is what I sang: “So let go my soul and trust in Him. The waves and wind still know His name.”
As I sang these words, I was making a declaration that I would let go of my Control, and just trust in The One who truly has control over all things. And knowing confidently that the storms of my life—the ones I want to control—are in utter submission to the name of Jesus. I finally grabbed the Sharpie and wrote on my broken piece of glass. 
Saturday night we had an opportunity to come to the altar and pray. I went up and knelt down, through tears I prayed about my Control. God was truly breaking something in me. Then on Sunday morning the time came to come forward and lay down our broken pieces at the Cross, and receive communion. I got in line holding my Control. When it was my turn to lay it down at The Cross, I literally sobbed. I just didn’t realize how much Control had rooted itself deeply in me. Some bad fruit had grown in me because of that Control. It hurt to have that root pulled, but I let it go. Once the pieces were laid down, we were able to pick up a lace cross in return—a cross to symbolize what God is giving to replace the brokenness. In my case, He gave me His Cross for my Control.
As the title of the conference, I am a “Masterpiece in Process.” But, sometimes the Control wants to re-root itself back in my life. Daily, I am letting God replace that Control with His peace and assurance. God needs me to be in a place of total reliance, and utter dependence on Him, in order to receive what He wants to give me, so I can be free of something I wasn’t meant to carry. 
I hope to see you at this year’s HFW Conference. You WON’T regret it! 
In Christ, Jason

April Voice of Hope

April Voice of Hope

Dear Friend,
Are you READY to join us at our June 1-5 conference at Ridgecrest? We would love for you to be there! We don’t exaggerate to say it’s “The experience of a lifetime!” It all begins with a leaders’ conference on Wednesday, then the general conference starts Thursday morning.

We strategically fill every day and evening with a balance of worship, testimonies, teachings, and special times of social interaction, including opportunities to rest. Our desire is that when the conference is over, each person knows this: they are not alone! We want them to leave having hope, and knowing they are part of something special—a community of like-minded believers passionately pursuing Christ.

Our freedom to gather together as Christians who are walking away from homosexuality is a blessing, but that is not the case in many other countries. Here’s one young man’s story of what it’s costing him to come to our conference, and how your gifts are transforming lives.

A gentleman from Australia has been emailing us for a few weeks. He feels isolated in his country and when he came across our website, he felt hope! He reached out to us and expressed his desire to attend our upcoming conference. He was trying to figure out how to make it. Thanks to one of our ministry partners, we were able to give him his registration. He was excited! He told us that he had already sold his car to cover the travel and expenses, and his registration was the remaining piece of the puzzle in him making the trip. 
We have amazing people we work with! People like Jason, featured in this month’s newsletter, do not always see what the Father sees in them when initially attending a Hope for Wholeness conference. But as they experience Jesus’ great love through His people at the conference, they shine! 

Would you help us to continue our efforts and help more men and women experience freedom in Christ? We hope you will join us at the conference, and we hope you will prayerfully give towards our conference scholarship fund so other’s, like our new friend from Australia, can attend. Thank you!

In order to serve you all, our small staff is working franticly towards getting ready for the conference—there’s so much planned that I don’t have space to share, so please check-out all the details on our website. We hope to see YOU at the conference!
NOTE: We’ve made a number of changes to our newsletter mailings, which means you are either on our monthly (active contributors), or quarterly (inactive contributors) mailing list. Additionally, we’ve moved to a verified mailing system (hence the new bar code). Our fantastic Office Manager, Nylene Wilds, diligently went through our database, and she found many people who had never been added to our list. WELCOME! Please let us know your interest in remaining on our list by sending in the enclosed reply card, so we can know how to best manage your information. Thank you! 

What the Church needs: Community

CommunityWhat the Church needs: Community

My Experience at Hope for Wholeness’s Annual Conference

By Mark Buzard, Lisbon OH

If you have ever gone on any kind of Christian retreat or stayed at a Christian camp, I believe that is a bit what community looks like, though more than that. When I think about church community, I envision Christians being more involved with each other, really caring about each other, taking care of each other, and being around each other outside of the church walls.F

I go to church Sunday morning and Sunday evening. I usually speak to a few people and carry on some conversation, usually with the same people. (We do tend to have our cliques.) I don’t go to church on Wednesday evenings for reasons I won’t share here, so most of the 52 weeks of the year, I only see my fellow church attendees on Sundays. There is no deep conversation, no sharing, no personal time.

I have a problem with that. We need fellowship, not just a few brief conversations in passing while at church for worship services. As a single guy, I may feel that void more than married people, and have less chances of filling that void; though I am sure married people may feel the same way.

The last two summers, I was able to experience a time of real community. Hope for Wholeness is a ministry/network for men and women dealing with unwanted same-sex attractions. I am one of those with same-sex attractions, that Hope for Wholeness ministers to.

They have a 4-day conference in June, and I was fortunate enough to go the last two years. What an amazing time.

Imagine you have a secret you want no one to know about. You hide it for years, afraid people will find out and condemn and ostracize you. Now imagine being at a conference center surrounded by people who have the same secret or struggle, or are family members of someone who has the same secret. It is amazing and freeing!

I found the times of worship helpful and very encouraging. The speakers, and the workshops were worth going for, and it was profitable to my soul and Christian walk to be a part of. I don’t want to minimize those blessings and what they did for me. Those things are not the most memorable parts of the conference for me though.

If you have never had a major struggle such as mine, then you cannot imagine sitting down at a table with 8-9 guys who have the same struggle. You can’t imagine what it is like to be able to freely discuss your struggles and your story, to hear their struggles and story, and have no fear of being condemned, judged, or ostracized. To look around at the tables full of people just like you: messed up people, broken people, imperfect people, people with no masks.

porchEvery afternoon before supper, there were different groups you could go to. The group I participated in was for men only and met on the large porch of one of the conference buildings. There were usually at least 30 or so guys sitting in a circle. There was a leader that facilitated the group. Men openly shared their struggles, their past. Some had lived the gay lifestyle, some were married and cheated on their spouse with another man. One man had started the transgender process and then became a Christian,

There were times we’d gather around and pray for a man after he brokenly confessed how discouraged and how he was hurting. Hugs were freely given and words of encouragement were shared. This was community like I had never experienced! This was sharing, caring, and loving on a level I had never had among Christian brothers.

I’ve stood by while people joked about gay people. I’ve heard the hateful comments, even from Christians. I had a friend lean up to me in church after a speaker mentioned the issue and tell me that “they should just hang all those homos.”

I’ve sat in the pew for years needing love and encouragement, deathly afraid people would find out my secret. I was lonely, scared, hurting, confused, and working overtime to appear “normal” to everyone. I’d hear people’s prayer requests and knew I could never stand up and request prayer for THAT.

But at this conference, there was none of that! Masks were left off campus. New friends were made, friends who could relate to what I deal with, friends who weren’t afraid they’d catch something. I had no fears of praying about my struggles and someone hearing.didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to go back to wearing a mask, having superficial conversations with Christian brothers and sisters who I only see at church on Sundays. I want more! I need more! I got a taste of true community that I never had at any church or campground. People had time for each other, people were honest and open and caring with no need for masks.

Mine has pretty much been ripped off out of weariness of wearing it, and thanks to Hope for Wholeness.

Facebook Groups website iconThanks to Facebook, I can continue to engage with this community of the men and womenmet there, and by way of Hope for Wholeness’s Facebook groups, I can share, ask for prayer, and pray for them.

This is a “life changing event,” as they say it is. I hope you will join me in June at Jesus Above All, this year’s HFW Conference theme. I can’t wait! And consider joining us on Facebook. I’m thankful for Hope for Wholeness, the conference, and the groups. I’m thankful it provides me with encouragement and community.

Pretty Good Gauge

Pretty Good Gauge

 
Read Matthew Chapter 23
 
Mt 23:33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation. 37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
 
There is an easy way to tell whether a spiritual message is from God or from man’s own warped wisdom. It is not a 100% foolproof method, but it is pretty close. A word from God will almost never be one which the world accepts. Actually, the world will likely hate a message that is clearly from the Lord. Jesus had some stirring, harsh words for the religious leaders in His days on earth. Most of those who heard Him despised Him and His message. The New Testament is full of examples where God’s word caused men to despise the truth and despise the messengers of truth.
 
Verse 34 indicates that those who are true messengers are not going to be well received in this world. That’s an understatement. Jesus is saying that the world will treat God’s prophets and wise men with extreme disdain and even physical harm. As we look around us, which messages are we hearing that do NOT upset our evil world? Perhaps the most-well received message of all today is that homosexual behaviors are acceptable. Same-sex marriages are fully within the will of God. The huge majority of our modern world today will stand and applaud this message.
 
What has happened in Canada? It is now against the law to teach and preach that homosexual behaviors are sinful. That is now “hate speech” according to their laws. The same thing is slowly beginning to happen in parts of the U. S. Just recently, a bakery was forced to go out of business because the owners could not afford the costs of a long legal battle over refusing to bake a gay wedding cake. These kinds of events will only get more common as our world draws nearer to its end.
 
A false and destructive message is being preached from more and more of our pulpits today. The Unitarian Church has been spreading this false teaching for a long time and some traditional denominations are beginning to follow suit. When our world begins to feel comfortable in our church congregations, we can know without a doubt that God’s word is not being heard. The liberal churches today would empty quickly if suddenly God’s word were to be preached.
 
Jn 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
 
Mt 24:9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
 
It’s just a simple fact. Our world does not want to hear there is a real, fiery hell. They do not want anyone to speak of self-control, submission to a Holy God, repentance, self-denial, and many other tenets of Christianity. The world strongly objects to any word that doesn’t approve of pre-marital sex, unwed partners, babies born to single mothers, or homosexual behaviors. How can we know that we are on the right pathway? We know because the world hates what we know to be true.
 
Prayer: Father, give us Your discernment as we listen to anyone who purports to have a message from You. Do not allow us to be deceived, and do not allow us to spread a false word. Reveal Your truth to all our friends and family.
 
 
 
 

Jerry’s In His Time Testimony

Father daughterJerry’s Story

Raised in a Christian home I accepted Christ at age 12 and never questioned my salvation experience.  I served 4 years in USMC 1963-1967 with one-year duty in Vietnam.  This time in my life led me to alcohol abuse and a lifestyle outside God’s will.  I graduated from college, got married, and when my children were young age Deuteronomy chapter 6 became my guideline for raising my children.  The question came to my mind, “How can I train my children in the ways of Christ when my lifestyle did not represent his Lordship in my life?”  Through prayer and reading scripture the attraction and desire for alcohol were diminished in my life.  I taught 6th grade boys in Sunday school for 15 years desiring to teach them truth and submission to God’s will for their lives.  In my daughter’s senior year of high school she told Judy and I one night that she was gay and tired of hiding it.  I experienced guilt, hurt, and loss of control as a parent.  I then went through withdrawal and separation from my wife and daughter.  Depression, embarrassment, and anger were my constant companions.  I continuously prayed and read scripture to no avail.  One morning in a quiet moment I felt the Holy Spirit say to me, “Your daughter has her problems, but you have your issues as well.”  I had to look at my life and walk back into God’s will before I could help my daughter.  My wife and I began attending Love in Action’s parent group and we received much healing from the pain we both carried.  The next year I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to me, “You have received healing, so don’t you think other hurting parents need the healing and support you have received?”  Feeling convicted of this call, I went to our senior pastor and shared my thoughts.  With his approval we began In His Time ministry, which was started 14 years ago.  We have seen God work in many people’s lives.  It has been a time of sadness and hurt, yet full of blessing to see lives changed in our midst.  I will always be thankful for His calling on my life and the opportunity He offers to help the hurting and downcast.

Why I Fight The Fight By Ethan Martin Director Revelation Ministry 1211 Fort Meyers, FL

Why I Fight The Fight

By Ethan Martin, Director, Revelation Ministry 1211, Fort Meyers, FL

Ethan MartinI sat there sitting on a rock staring out across a small valley to the Old City in Jerusalem, silently weeping. My Pastor came up to me, put his hand on my shoulder, and said “I would love to know the thoughts going through your head.” I couldn’t speak. My emotions rolled over me like a tidal wave enveloping the beach. How could he possibly know what I have gone through? How could he even remotely understand what I have given up to follow Christ? How could he know the sudden despairing sadness I felt at the loss of everything I had dreamed of? How could he grasp the magnitude of the sacrifice I was making on behalf of my beliefs? My Pastor couldn’t. But He could. And He does. I was sitting in the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Christ questioned God’s plan for His life, wrestled, was tormented, and found acceptance. I connected with Christ on such a deep level there. I suddenly felt like my burden was nothing compared to what He went through. He sacrificed His life because of His love for me. I found myself uttering the words Christ said 2,000 years past, “Father, take this cup from me. Not my will, but yours be done.” The cup wasn’t taken away from Him because that was not the Father’s will. And the cup wasn’t taken from me because that is not the Father’s will.

For me, I continue to fight the fight because it is God’s will for me life; it is my cup. And I do so because of my understanding of His love and His grace. The definition of true love is mentioned in the Bible: “Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”- John 15:13. This was proven to us by Jesus who laid His life down for us. If I say that I love Jesus, then what am I willing to sacrifice? What cup will He ask me to drink from? If I am not willing to sacrifice EVERYTHING (which just so happens to include my sexuality), then I don’t really love Him. But I do love Him. And so I choose to sacrifice my all, including my sexuality, to follow Christ. I love Him because He first loved me. And His grace says that all my sins are forgiven. Past, present and future. I can rest in knowing that nothing could ever separate me from the love of Jesus. But I also don’t want to sin, because I love Him. Could I continue to live in sin. Absolutely! Do I want to? No! Why? Because if I accepted my same-sex attraction as my identity, and lived it out, I would be living contrary to God, and it frightens and saddens me to even think of that. To accept my flesh and deny my spirit would mean that I would have to forget all the great memories of healing, all of my great experiences with God, and most importantly of His love which I fell in love with. Grace and love do not exist to merely accept who we are and stay there. Grace and love allow us the space to know and feel we are loved and gently move us ever toward holiness.

 

My Husband’s Not Gay Review by Daniel Mingo

My Husband’s Not Gay Review by Daniel Mingo

My husband's not gayOn Sunday night, January 11, 2015, cable station TLC aired a program called “My Husband’s Not Gay.” It was a reality show featuring three couples and a single man, all of whom are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the Mormons or LDS. All of the men are same-sex attracted (SSA), but have chosen to live a heterosexual life, much like many of us who have walked away from homosexuality, citing their Mormon faith as being the reason for not pursuing a gay identity.

As we have seen over the past couple of years, there are many new and varied expressions of Christians who identify as being SSA. One distinction that these couples made was termed, “SSA, not gay.” Each wife was made aware of her husband’s SSA at some point in their relationships, though not necessarily prior to their weddings.

Overall, I had a positive response to the showing of this program. It presented these marriages realistically, in both the positive and negative aspects related to the men’s SSA. All of the married couples seemed to have solid relationships with their own spouses, which were reflected in their open communication and transparency with each other. And as couples, they all seemed to get along well together. They also talked of struggles and challenges in the marriages, such as the wives observing the day to day attractions their husbands face. One wife told her husband to just go ahead and look at cute guys rather than keep noticing him trying to sneak looks. And even so, this particular wife appeared to be secure in their relationship. Another issue came up when a husband wanted to go on a camping trip with some guys his wife did not know. His wife was understandably suspicious. To me, this was a no-brainer, and certainly a step backwards for trying to build trust with a spouse.

A second positive aspect was several of the quotes that were shared throughout the hour long show. One of the fellows stated, “I thought for a long time that I was gay; I thought that these feelings defined me.” He then went on to share how he had come to an understanding how they did not define him. Another remarked, “What the LDS church teaches is that behavior is a choice, that choosing to act on these feelings is what it’s all about; having the feelings, not so much.” During the scene showing the four men going to shoot baskets, one of the guys said in his commentary, “I don’t think I’m playing basketball to make me more   manly; I’m playing basketball to feel connected to a part of masculinity I felt excluded or rejected by.” I suspect that statement struck a chord with many of us, and I view that as part of Father’s reclamation process in us. And finally, one of the men declared at the end of the program, “I don’t think the SSA will ever go away totally. I think I’ll always have some level of attraction to men, but I’m okay with that.”

A third positive perspective was how the men all portrayed themselves as secure in who they are as men now. There was no self-loathing. They talked about positive changes that have occurred in their lives since choosing to live the way they believe is God’s will for them.

My_Husbands_Not_GayThough while my overall response to the program was positive as I mentioned above, and I would certainly recommend the show to other folks to watch, there were some troubling points about the presentation as well. Coming from a Christian worldview, as I suspect most who will be reading this piece will be, I’m always going to measure what I read, see and watch by a Biblical standard. While the subjects talked about their LDS church and faith and their “gospel message,” for my taste it stopped way too short by not introducing Jesus as the One who enables us to no longer carry out the desires of the flesh. Rather than quote Biblical text to underscore their choices to live in a heterosexual marriage, they quoted the Book of Mormon. This representation, to me, spoke only to a decision to live a life one way versus another, and not any kind of change towards holiness in their lives, which the Lord calls us to. One of my Facebook friends put it this way, “Different Jesus. Theirs is “brother of” and equal in power to Satan as created beings. Ours is begotten, not created, through Whom all things have been created; the Son of God. God incarnate.”

Secondly, one of the wives described her husband’s SSA as “So, it’s somebody who is attracted to the same sex, but wants to be in a heterosexual relationship.” While this definition perfectly fits the lives of those in the show and its premise, it is limited to their experiences only. There are thousands of SSA individuals who do not want to live in a heterosexual relationship, or may not want to embrace a gay-identified life either. Just clarifying!

Also, there were some statements made during the program, with which I believe many would take issue, mostly related to their appropriateness. One wife declared, “When you’re married to an SSA guy, he tends to be your girlfriend and your husband, and so you isolate yourself from your real girl friends.”  Again, this kind of statement speaks to the lack of any kind of change or maturation process offered in the presentation. In another statement made by one of the men, he announces, “I was certainly born with homosexual attractions.” I don’t even know where to start with that comment. How can he say such a thing with the lack of scientific evidence there is for such a link!

My husband's not gay 2Some other faults the program didn’t address that were outstanding to me include: 1) Flagrant flirting with a waiter on the part of one of the men in the restaurant in front of his wife and one of the other couples (although the wife did joke, asking who the husband was going home with); 2) The use of a four-point system which rates the attractiveness of guys based on the number of looks one takes at the subject of his lust, rather than any mention of restraining himself not to go back for continued looks, which again goes to the lack of Biblical content; 3) The overwhelming majority of relationships presented in the show, aside from the wives, were with other SSA guys, almost to the exclusion of any ever-straights (only one guy mentioned who is not SSA). For decades we’ve known that other kinds of relationships with both men and women are essential to our full reclamation process. 4) There seemed to me to be a continued thread of narcissism in that it was solely focused on what they did, their decisions, their belief, rather than on work/change that God was doing in them. And they seemed to be content to leave it that way, as if the decision to be in a heterosexual marriage was the end goal. 5) The men’s identity was in their SSA and heterosexual marriages, not in Christ, which for LDS is not necessarily uncharacteristic, just noteworthy.

In my opinion, “My Husband’s Not Gay” is a groundbreaking program in today’s culture. It really did a wonderful job of presenting an other-than-gay life option for the one who has SSA. Whether approaching leaving the gay life from a Christian or secular view, it served to present options into the mainstream that have not been so visible to date. We can absolutely expect the gay community to denounce the program, but for what it was, I am glad to have seen it and will continue to recommend it when the opportunity presents itself.

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The Meaning of Deliverance

The Meaning of Deliverance

by Aqueena Smith, MA, LPC, R-DMT Refuge Ministry, Chicago IL

AqueenaLately, there has been a lot of discussion about a man who claimed that he had been delivered from homosexuality. On a video that went viral, he emphatically stated, “I am not gay no more! I am delivered. I don’t like men no more. I like women! I won’t wear purses or put on make-up!” His claims have been met with much skepticism about the reality of his circumstances. Others believe that his proclamation is a scam. However, the concept and meaning of deliverance is worth discussing.

I grew up in a church tradition where deliverance was understood in two ways: no more demonic possession/oppression and the absence of a prevalent sin issue. I recall witnessing people being delivered from the demonic through loud screeches and intense crying spells. It was believed that they had demonic spirits keeping them in lust and promiscuity. This was frightening to me as a young girl. I was both intrigued by the intensity of the prayer sessions but also apprehensive of being yelled at as if I needed something cast out of me.

As I continued to grow in my faith, the Lord began to give me a more accurate revelation of what deliverance is all about. Yes, it can be about the removing of demonic influences, but it is so much deeper. In the video, the man expressed his own idea of what he believed deliverance was, and it was lacking. He only expressed the outward differences/changes he would make such as: different clothing, the shifting of his voice inflections, the ridding himself of “gay” apparel such as make-up and purses, as well as dating women. As believers, we all know that these outward expressions are not really true evidence of a changed heart. Heart change that is biblical in nature has to do with “…the renewing of the mind” as Romans 12:1-2 states, which takes time. I am not denying the validity for some people in regards to dress, however, that could become a stumbling block to others who may have a more gradual walk with Christ in the area of leaving homosexual behavior. All in all, the Lord is truly after our hearts.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 4.31.04 PMSince I was 16 years old, I have had deep connections and friendships with four women that have lived as gay women and no longer experience same-gender attractions. Two of them would say that their longings and desires were diminished and ceased at the point of their conversion to faith in Christ. The others went through a process of healing emotional wounds and being connected with women in a pure way. They all would say that they are no longer attracted to women in a sexually enmeshed way. However, for me and others like me, this is not our story. At times we have attractions, and other times we don’t. We have been able by the grace of God to get our emotional needs met in healthy ways by spending time with the Lord, spending time with friends that know and love us, and by doing things we enjoy. The presence of attractions or the lack of them does not equal deliverance. It’s about how one handles themselves in the midst of temptation.

D. L. Foster, president of Overcomers Network stated,“Deliverance is not defined as the eradication of struggle nor is it the absence of conflict. It is the freedom to live, to dream and hope again as a new creation with a new life in Christ.”if the video of the man proclaiming that he was delivered was an expression of finding hope again in Christ? What if he was saying that no matter what, his hope will be in the Lord to help him be with a woman in the future, to dress in a way that does not attract other men to himself, and to leave his old behaviors behind? Of course, his story might be different from the stories of many that I know who were living in the sin of homosexuality. But similarly, he may have to endure some future falls, receive some emotional healing for unmet needs in his life, experience loneliness, and not quite feel like he is totally received in the church. But, if he perseveres, he may find supportive godly men who will walk with him, a support group, and a deepened walk with the Lord. He may still have attractions to the same gender but he probably won’t carry any shame of it because he understands Christ finished work on the cross and His forgiveness. Only God knows his journey.

So, in my mind,to do with a present and positional reality before Christ and a daily encounter as we walk with Him. All believers have been delivered from hell to a seat in heaven. Not to say that we will never be tempted by sins deceitfulness; but we have an Advocate that helps us in our weaknesses.

Jaye Thomas, worship leader at International House of Prayer-KC (IHOP) said it well in the following statement on the topic: “…The real definition of deliverance is NOT the absence of a struggle in your life. It is the grace of God (or supernatural power) to control the thing that once had control over you!” This changed everything I ever believed and how I walk it out. GRACE now gives me the option to say ‘no’ to sin and ‘yes’ to righteousness. And righteousness is not an event but a series of small “yes’s” and “no’s”. So when I use the word deliverance now I’m referring to a mindset or understanding about who I am now as a result of the shed blood of Jesus.

The question is: Who are we? Will we be called to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ today from our position of righteousness in Christ? Are we in bondage, or are we the free children of God? Let’s live out our deliverance.

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