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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.

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.

 

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.

Contact Aqueena

These last 10 years have been some of the most amazing years of my life, filled with seasons of difficulty and prosperity, but tremendous blessing.

10 years…a reflection By Miranda Pettit

Miranda Pettit before and after10 years…a reflection By Miranda Pettit

Miranda is Hope for Wholeness Local Ministry’s Women’s Leader

August 2014 marks 10 years since I walked away from lesbianism and truly devoted my life to Christ. I’ve learned so much these past 10 years and I want to reflect on 10 scriptures that have strengthened me & kept me grounded in my faith. I hope you find these as encouraging as they have been to me.

John 8:36 – “If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.” No matter the struggles, no matter the feelings, no matter the debates…I am free. It is a foundational truth in my life. Temptations, feelings, struggles, etc. do not nullify or discredit the truth of God’s Word. Jesus set us free from sin, bondage, & sickness when He died on the cross. Because I know that truth, it empowers me to live in victory, allowing the fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22] to flow out of my life.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away. Behold, all things are new.” Not some things; not most. ALL. Another foundational truth that we have to know even if our feelings make us think otherwise. When we give our lives to Christ, our nature changes from a sin nature to a divine nature. We may sin, but it is not in our nature which is why the Holy Spirit convicts us when we do. We are no longer ‘sinners saved by grace’ but we are “reconciled to God through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault” (Colossians 1:22). We are holy & blameless, without fault, only because of the grace of Jesus Christ.

Joel 2:25 – “I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten.” A friend shared that verse with me 10 years ago. At the time I thought it was a strange, but I have realized this verse on a greater level than I ever thought possible. Sin brings isolation, condemnation, & destruction. Like locusts, sin will eat away at your life until it becomes a wasteland with nothing but a remnant of what it once was: Sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, & cost you more than you want to pay. But no matter where you find yourself – lost, alone, ashamed, or ravaged – God will restore & redeem. He will replace ungodly relationships with godly ones, unhealthy with healthy. This has been one of the greatest blessings in my life – relationships with other believers that have encouraged, challenged, & cultivated my spiritual walk.

Revelation 12:11 – “They overcame the enemy by the Blood of the Lamb & by the word of their testimony.”  If you want victory in your life, don’t be silent. Don’t allow insecurity & fear of your struggle or past imprison you. I believe “overcome” here has a two-fold meaning: when we share our testimony, it empowers us to walk out our faith & it brings hope of overcoming to others. We are not strugglers; we are overcomers…through Christ & through our ability to rise above shame & fear and be vessels of honor to bring hope to those who are bound. There is power in the Blood of Jesus to help us overcome; there is power in our testimony to help others.

Jeremiah 50:2,6 – “Declare among the nations. Proclaim & set up a standard. Proclaim-do not conceal it! My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray.” This changed my perspective a few years ago. As I was preparing to speak at a church in the morning, the news of a prominent televangelist “coming out” came to me in a text message. I got discouraged & asked God, “What’s the point? Why does it even matter anymore?” I decided to grab my Bible & it opened to these verses. This was God’s message for me – & all of us. Regardless of society, government, religion, or others, we as believers are responsible to declare, proclaim, & set a standard for Christ. In Matthew 7:15, Jesus warns us about many false prophets who will compromise & deceive those who want their ears tickled with doctrine to accommodate their behaviors (2 Timothy 4:3). Like Jesus, we are to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37). We can’t allow other voices to drown out truth & lead His sheep astray without proclaiming the Gospel. It is their only hope. We have to be a voice, a voice “crying in the wilderness, preparing the way for the Lord” (Isaiah 40:3)

Psalm 39:7; Psalm 62:5 – “Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.” Hope for Wholeness affirms this truth – there is always hope. That’s our ministry name. For 15 years, I believed I was hopeless- my life or feelings couldn’t change. Over a third of my life was spent living by my feelings & believing that hope was designated for those who were better Christians than I; those who deserved it more. I didn’t want to embrace who everyone said that I was, but I felt like I had no choice. I placed my hope in my ability to change myself, not in God’s ability to transform my life. When we place our hope in Christ alone, we allow Him to work the miraculous starting in our hearts & minds.

Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” We should trust God & love people, not the opposite. When we place our trust in our Creator – the one who loves us more than anyone ever could, we know that He will never fail: He will never abandon us & He will always lead us into all truth (John 16:13). No one else can hold that position. No one else should. God is always for us; He is our Refuge, Strength, Peace, Joy, Deliverer, Provider, Healer, Father, Victory, Salvation, Hope, Freedom, Rock, Potter, Lifter of our Head, & everything we could ever need. Yes, we should love God as the First Commandment tells us, but trusting in Him is the foundation on which we build our faith.

Psalm 32…my fave Psalm. Specifically, verses 7-8: “You are my hiding place; you will preserve me from trouble; you will surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.” Slavery was once prevalent in the South with many using the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom. Slave owners would not allow slaves to talk for fear of rebellion, but they would allow them to sing. Unbeknownst to the owners, many of these songs were clues to freedom. They are called Songs of Deliverance. The chanting & repetition of choruses would help memorize pathways, star/planets, river/streams, etc., when slaves would finally get the courage to escape, hoping to find freedom at the end of the Railroad. This scripture is evidence of God’s instruction in our lives. He guides us to freedom; He teaches us through His Word, giving us the courage to go, hiding us from trouble. Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that God sings over us. He wants you free. He has a path, a plan, and a purpose (Jeremiah 29:11).

Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Right before this, the Apostle Paul declares, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Contentment is crucial to our Christian walk. Many want to hurry the process of change or speed up the journey to freedom. Parents are impatient to see their son/daughter’s life change; those who struggle want God to take away their struggle NOW. Phil. 1:6 tells us that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” We are all on a journey; we don’t need to rush God’s work-He is the Potter, we are the clay and should allow Him time to form us daily into His image. So don’t despise the small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10) because it’s in those small things where we learn faithfulness, obedience, trust, & love the way God desires. Pray for wisdom, discernment, knowledge, and strength for this journey, whether for yourself or a loved one. Learn contentment along the way, waiting patiently for God’s faithful promise to complete His task in His timing.

Romans 12:12 – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Our thoughts have tremendous power: we move in the direction of our strongest thought. So if you aren’t renewing your mind through the Word, praise and worship, and prayer, the battle of your mind will succumb to the enemy. You will be easily seduced & deceived by temptations and feelings. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says to demolish imaginations & every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ. You can’t have a negative mind & a positive mouth; you can’t walk in victory & live in defeat. We should align every word we hear and think with the Bible and toss anything that is contrary to our identity in Christ & the character of God. The truth of God’s Word will renew your mind & will set you free (John 8:32).

These and many other scriptures have renewed my mind and transformed my life.

These last 10 years have been some of the most amazing years of my life, filled with seasons of difficulty and prosperity, but tremendous blessing. To live free of shame, guilt, condemnation, and fear, and instead, full of hope, peace, and joy are indescribable. I’ve learned there are no shortcuts or quick fixes to freedom, change, or healing. God is more interested in equipping us for the journey than He is in removing our struggles. He wants our obedience, dependence, and devotion; ultimately, He wants our hearts. He will supply all that we need to daily deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. And we can follow Him wholeheartedly when we “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us in order to run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). It’s never too late to start your journey because there is always hope in Christ.

Same-Sex Attraction and the World By Jeanette Howard, Bethany Ministries, Sussex, England

Same-Sex Attraction and the World By Jeanette Howard, Bethany Ministries, Sussex, England

arabic-letter-n-but-with-cross-300x300This week has not been easy. In the light of the drama, tragedies and horrors that dominate our screens and saturate the airwaves, I have found it difficult to see the subject of who’s attracted to whom as little more than first world pettiness.

The passengers of one airline lie undetected on the bottom of the ocean whilst human remains from another flight are scattered over the war torn Ukrainian countryside. Syrian and Iraqi Christians are being slaughtered in their hundreds if not thousands while the Israelis and Hamas continue to bomb the life out of each other. Nigeria still hasn’t found their ‘lost’ school children and they, along with the likes of Sierra Leone, are being torn apart by violent terrorists. I could continue with the increasing numbers of countries being confronted by the deadly Ebola crisis, but you get the picture.

Placed against the mountain of this awfulness I am left asking the question, Does what I do have any worth?

I weep, I pray, and I beseech the Lord to intervene in world events. I sign petitions urging those in power to ‘do something’ to help alleviate the suffering and trauma in various continents, but I still question my day job. Does what I do really have any bearing on the big picture?

He [Jesus] went on: “It’s what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness—all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution.” Matthew 7:20-23 (The Message)

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds [as shown by] because of your evil behavior. Colossians 1:21 (NIV, footnote included)
The truth is that a world that is at enmity with itself is the only possible outcome for a people who refuse to acknowledge and submit to their Creator. We are designed to be dependent on God for all things, but insistence on living independently of Him can only result in more of what we are already witnessing around the globe.

I may not be shooting air planes out of the sky or butchering people who don’t happen to think as I think, but the truth is that I am more than capable of thinking murderous and slanderous thoughts or indulging in lustful imaginings. And that is why I need to continue with my day job. I can’t change world events but I can help change the world in which I live. If, through the power of God’s Holy Spirit I can help men and women bring their sexuality in thought and expression under the increasing Lordship of Christ, then I am fulfilling my part, however small, in ensuring that God’s Kingdom increasingly invades and destroys Satan’s Kingdom here on earth. We can live as men and women of the light who choose to surrender and submit our ways to the One who calls us back to our true self, that of being image bearers. In all things, however global or local: Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, here (in our hearts and) on earth as it is in Heaven. Amen.

Photo: This is a variant on the Arabic letter ‘N’ you may have come across as some people’s Facebook profile. This is to show solidarity with the many Christians who are currently being slaughtered in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State. The letter is being scrawled on Christian homes and stands for Nasara (Nazarene).

 

  • I Am Not A Gay Christian By Daniel Mingo, Abba’s Delight, Louisville, KY

I Am Not A Gay Christian By Daniel Mingo, Abba’s Delight, Louisville, KY

I Am Not A Gay Christian By Daniel Mingo, Abba’s Delight, Louisville, KY

There is a new brand of Christians which has made its way to the forefront of the great gay debate in the past few years. They call themselves gay Christians who have their own network called the Gay Christian Network. Quoting from their website, www.gaychristian.net, “Founded in 2001, the Gay Christian Network (GCN) is a nonprofit Christian ministry dedicated to building bridges and offering support for those caught in the crossfire of one of today’s most divisive culture wars. Our membership includes both those on Side A (supporting same-sex marriage and relationships) and on Side B (promoting celibacy for Christians with same-sex attractions).” Side A believes Father blesses same-sex marriages, while Side B believes celibacy is more in line with Father’s will. Personally, and for the record, I would lean more towards Side B because of its stance on celibacy. But that’s really not why I’m tackling this topic today, or why I would choose not to affiliate myself or Abba’s Delight with this network.

What would absolutely prohibit me from identifying with either group is the fact that they have found and majorly declared their identity to be in their sexual preference. I find the use of the adjective “gay” not to be Biblically sound—not because the word “gay” is not used in the Bible, but because there is no support in Biblical text for such a description of a Christ follower. Rather, Biblical text calls for Christians to separate ourselves in all ways from that which has kept us in sin. By our actions, as well as mentally, physically and verbally.

As a born-again believer, I learn to become more perfectly conformed to the image of Jesus, the Word of God made flesh. If I then identify myself as a gay Christian, I am branding myself with a name and identity that Father neither meant for me to have, nor that He has Biblically authorized. The fact is, there is not even one portion of Biblical text that approves homosexual acts. Those who support same gender sexual behavior, I believe, have taken passages out of context not considering the entirety of what Scripture has to say about living a life of holiness, in an attempt to conform the Bible to their feelings and attractions, rather than holding their feelings and attractions in obedience to the Scriptures.

Paul tells us, “Therefore from now on we recognize no man by what he is in the flesh…Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Cor. 5:16a,17. If I am a new creature in Christ, why would I ever want to take on an identity for myself that is contrary to His life in me? That would be counter-productive to becoming more perfectly conformed to the image of Jesus. Therefore, I train myself to think in agreement with the Scriptures, speak things that are in agreement with the Scriptures, and act in ways that are only in agreement with the Scriptures. To me, this leaves no room for taking on a gay Christian identity. This brings up another interesting thought!

Have you ever heard any believers identify themselves as depressed Christians? Or slothful believers? Or fear-filled disciples? I’m sure there are many Christians who suffer depression, are slothful and live in fears of all kinds, but you don’t see them identifying themselves in those ways or making declarations to justify/build their identities around those issues. There would seem to be a significant amount of deception in taking on identities that move us away from being more perfectly conformed to the image of Jesus, rather than closer to it.

Maybe in my walk I have been fortunate in my understanding of where my identity lies. I knew instinctively my same-sex attractions were not in line with Father’s design for human sexuality as set forth in the Word. I never wanted to take on a gay identity. There was never a time when I thought hooking up with guys was an OK thing with God, whether for relationships or just for sex. So I learned early the importance of having my mind renewed; and the power words have that we speak; and that my true identity is in Christ and not in my sexuality, career, roles as husband or father, or anything else.

When it came time to come clean with my wife about my attractions and the behaviors I’d engaged in, she knew immediately this was not who I was. As she has described it, she had seen the man of God I was, how I pursued my relationship with Him. Paraphrasing her, this sin had leeched itself onto me, and we just needed to figure out how we were going to get it off of me. That was 21 years ago when I began my healing journey.
I read an article last week called, “Love Wins: The Shifting Landscape on LGBT Issues in the Evangelical Church.” (LGBT=Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) The article was written by Rod Snyder, who is the President Emeritus, Young Democrats of America, July 22nd www.huffingtonpost.com. Of himself he says, “I’m a gay Christian from a conservative family fighting for a progressive cause.” I recommend the article, although there is much to disagree with in it. There were some good and truthful points in it as well. What was glaring to me, though, was the beginning of the title “Love Wins…” As I read through the article in its entirety, I was looking for something specific in what he might say about love, since he declares himself to be a Christian. I was looking for any indication of how we express our love for God. As it turns out he means how we love one another—gay-to-gay and straight-to-gay.

In one of the article’s section-titles called “Love wins,” Snyder writes, “One of the recent rallying cries for the LGBT movement has been ‘Love is love.’ One of the most common phrases in Christianity is ‘God is love.’ Everyone is pushing the Love agenda but not enough of us are practicing it. Love means listening more and yelling less. Love means pausing long enough to consider another perspective. Love means making an effort to get to know someone from a dissimilar background. Love means taking risks and stepping outside of what’s comfortable. Love means being willing to face criticism for ceding an inch to the other side.”

And for me, this is where the biggest deception of all comes in. Everyone will forever talk about learning to love each other, and the different ways to go about doing that, but what about our love for God? “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) And Paul writes to the Corinthian believers that nothing will ever separate us from His love: nothing we can do or say, nor any identity we can attach to ourselves. Nothing. Our primary charge is to love Him in return. We express that love in our obedience to Him. Jesus fulfilled the Law and summed it up by saying for us to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and mind; thus declaring love to be the greatest commandment. Jesus also said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Yet another time, Jesus spoke to the Pharisees saying, “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment, what to say and how to say it. And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore, the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me.” John 12:49,50. Jesus instructs us to love the Father the same way He loved Him, by being obedient to His Word. Jesus did not reinvent or reinterpret Father’s message, but that is exactly what is being done by those who justify their same-sex love relationships. The article omits obeying God as our primary charge from our Father in our days on earth conforming to the image of Jesus. Rather, Snyder goes right to the gay Christian’s entitlement to love the way they want to love and hope Father will bless it. Reinventing and reinterpreting God’s Word to fit our feelings is one way we “worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator,” as Paul wrote to the Corinthian church.

So, how do I identify myself as a Christian as it relates to my same-gender attractions? I am an adopted son of the Most High God, a brother to and co-heir of King Jesus, saved by His grace for good works towards building His Kingdom. I am dying daily to my flesh, and the sins that so easily beset me (of which homosexual lust is one). And I am daily being more perfectly conformed to the image of Jesus.

With Hope Rising We ALL Rise By Tony Moore, Chairman of Hope for Wholeness Board

Tony Jacob NyleneThe second annual Hope for Wholeness Network conference seemed to have a central focus. It was not homosexuality, it was not struggle, and it was not change or freedom. It was Jesus. The conference theme, Hope Rising, took me back to Psalm 113:3. “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.”

I always feel a little closer to Heaven when I’m at Ridgecrest. The serene surroundings, the morning clouds touching the mountaintops, the family setting, and the welcoming volunteers and staff all create a place that feels like a safe home. I try not to miss a detail, knowing that this is the exact opposite of the true home life of some of those attending the conference.

This was evident as we gathered in general sessions. The worship was sweet and the teachings rich, and at the end of the conference many wanted to linger. We came hungry for fellowship, thirsty for acceptance. We weren’t disappointed as time after time we were reminded that what matters most is our identity in Christ. The labels we’ve adopted or the names we’ve been assigned by our peers mean nothing when they are contrary to the person God has created us to be. Each speaker presented this truth in a unique way.

In this conference, unlike many that I have attended in my 33 years of ministry, everyone seemed to come to the same level. Teachers and leaders showed vulnerability and received healing. Those who came feeling worthless were shown value and acceptance. It’s true that when the water rises everyone on board rises with it.

The governing board of HFW met on Sunday afternoon following the conference. We wanted to revel in the wonder of God’s gifts as we had experienced them during the weekend, which made it hard to get down to business. It was our first meeting after adding three new board members this past year, and we all agreed that the Hope Rising Conference was exactly the kind of ministry to which God has called us. In providing direction for this ministry, it is our goal that God and his intent for us as individuals and as a network remain our focus.

 

  • Sweet Cakes Refuses to Bake Same-Sex Wedding Cake

Sweet Cakes Refuses to Bake Same-Sex Wedding Cake

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCE?

By Miranda Pettit, Women’s leader for Truth Ministry, in Spartanburg SC.

This was a game show that ran from 1940-1988 that included questions coupled with stunts. It was certainly a fun show but also included emotional surprises for the contestant – a reunion with a loved one, long-lost or serving in the military. Today, this question is all but a fun game show, but it is definitely an emotional one.

In recent months, there have been major attacks on Christian businesses refusing to honor same-sex marriages through services offered. Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Oregon has been in the news since Feb because Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of the business, refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple because of their faith. It started a firestorm of boycotts, threats, & protests by the gay community, with the couple suing the husband & wife, resulting in the Oregon Bureau of Labor launching a formal discrimination investigation against the Christian family and the business to shudder. Commissioner Brad Avakian, committed to the investigation, says,

“Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that folks have the right to discriminate,” he told the newspaper. “The goal is to rehabilitate. For those who do violate the law, we want them to learn from that experience and have a good, successful business in Oregon.”

“In other words,” as Todd Starnes of Foxnews.com noted, “Christians who live and work in Oregon must follow man’s law instead of God’s law. But in a show of benevolence, the state is willing to rehabilitate and reeducate Christian business owners like the Kleins.” Even just last month two photographers who refused to photograph a same-sex couple’s union were in violation of the state’s Human Rights Act in a decision by New Mexico’s Supreme Court. A Denver baker, Jack Phillips, is facing possible jail time for his refusal to bake a cake for a same-sex union. A family-owned cookie shop in Indianapolis is facing a discrimination investigation for refusing to bake rainbow cookies for National Coming Out Day. And in Kentucky, a t-shirt company is under investigation by the Human Rights Commission after refusing to make t-shirts for a local gay group.

Sweet Cakes closedEven in our state of SC, a lesbian couple who was married in another state is suing the state in federal court for not recognizing their union, calling themselves “legal strangers.” These are just a few of the recent events surrounding not just the intolerance of personal or Christian beliefs, but the pursuit to further silence & remove all faith-based beliefs that do not agree with the gay & lesbian agenda.

The definition of tolerance is “a fair, objective, & permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own” (Dictionary.com). I find it ironic that we just celebrated the 50th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King, a Christian minister. He led the civil rights movement that found its deepest conviction in Christianity, and his purpose was to persuade our government that all men are equal in the sight of God. We celebrate & promote Christian foundational principles in this nation, but fundamentalists of the Christian faith are becoming more outcast. We’ve altered the moral compass & promote that all roads lead to God: any way, truth, & life is not limited to Christian principles – certainly not Christ Himself – but to what is acceptable to the majority. And tolerance, by interpretation, is restricted to the definition of that majority.

We cannot foolishly assume that these examples of Christian business attacks will be limited to only a few instances. With the striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act, the ruling of California’s Prop 8 same-sex marriage decision, and the previous passing of the Hate Crime Legislation, the Supreme Court & Legislative Branch of our government has only opened the door for more of the like. Add Facebook & other social media outlets to personally attack through threats, boycotts, & protests, you have a recipe for ongoing, unmanageable intolerance toward faith-based persons & entities that will continue to silence the moral compass of this nation, and Christianity as a whole. It is just a matter of time that our churches will fall victim to this attack as well.

If there is ever a time of knowing what you believe and why, and standing firm in your faith & the Bible, it is now. The words of Jesus couldn’t be more clear & necessary for this time:

“You will be handed over to the local councils & beaten in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors & kings because you are My followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about Me. But when you are arrested & stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Everyone will hate you because you are My followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:9-13).

Click here to watch news story

Sweet Cakes closes update

Miranda Pettit is the Women’s leader for Truth Ministry, in Spartanburg SC.

  • I Experienced Change! – Exodus Closing

I Experienced Change! – Exodus Closing

Matthew AaronTrue Confessions of a 5 am Closet Runner

By Matthew Walker, director of Big Fish Ministries.

I attended my 12th and final Exodus Freedom conference this past week in California.  After 38 years, Exodus is closing.  Recently, I left my full time job at Sea World in order to pursue ministry full time.  Coincidence.  I think not.  God is afoot.  I am excited for what He plans to do in this new season.

With all the apologies, legislation and myths flying about, the good works Exodus has done were swept under the rug faster than Honey Boo Boo can wolf down a chili dog.  So, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and “come out of my own closet”.  Yes, my friends I must confess that I…I…am…a…person who was helped by Exodus.   WHAT!?!?!   Yes, I know, shocking in light of news reports.  “Apparently” there weren’t many of us.  Most are afraid to express it openly for fear of being ridiculed by those who consider Exodus to be a worse than an M. Night Shyamalan movie.  I can’t hide forever.  I have to end my silence and share my story.

I heard a lot of conflicting messages at this past conference.  One couple testified that they now know that gay and Christian can coexist together.  They shared that God had created their gay son, just the way he was meant to be.  Wow!  These were definitely not the messages of past Exodus conferences or the bible.  I listened and took it all with a grain of salt.  I began walking away from homosexuality in 1998.  A few years prior I called myself a gay Christian.  The Holy Spirit challenged my twisted view of spirituality.  “I see a lot of gay in your life, but not a lot Christian,” He said.  He was right.  I called myself a gay Christian, because I believed the lie that I was born gay and I knew my relationship with Jesus wasn’t an option.

I focused my attention on my Christian walk instead of my gay Christian charade.   My life began to change.  Trying to live a hybridized life of gay and Christian brought this scripture in 1 Corinthians 6 to mind.  15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.  18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.

I always had doubts about my Same Sex Attractions.  My gay friends said it was the church that coerced me into believing that being gay was wrong.  I know it was the conviction of the Holy Spirit that fostered my doubts.  Romans 14:12 nourished those doubts.  12 “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”   The truth of God’s word haunted me.  One day I would stand before God and the anger and attitude with which I staunchly defended my homosexuality would be silenced as God reviewed EVERYTHING.   The masses wouldn’t protect me then.  My best friend Scott couldn’t vouch for me.  In the end it’s just you and God.

The last message I heard from the stage at Exodus was that one speaker had not experienced much change at all in their attractions over the 10 years they had been attending Exodus conferences.  I wondered why they kept coming back?  Then with a grateful, humbled, softer heart I thought.  “I experienced change.  I have.  I continuously do.”  The message I was hearing was not one of change and freedom, but instead one of doubt and a lesser gospel than the one I had experienced.  Jesus said in Mark 10:27  “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”  To me that included healing from homosexual attractions.  The story from the stage was not my story, I felt ashamed at first.  I felt like I was judging or even prideful about my victories over my attractions.  With the messages of failure coming from the stage, I felt my success story wasn’t welcome.  And that my friends’ is when I went back into the closet.

I didn’t stay in there long.   I have changed.  I have experienced freedom, but was my story welcome amongst the apologies and doubt.  To be completely honest, I still have attractions to guys on occasion.  BUT…after 12 years of attending Exodus Freedom conferences, I have experienced dramatic changes in those attractions.   They are way less penis focused and more situationally focused and considerably less life altering.  Guys’ who are tall, muscular, have great hair and great self esteem and self confidence still draw my attention.  That doesn’t mean my attractions haven’t changed, it means that I fall victim to the act of comparing myself to others like everyone else in the world.  It’s stifling at times.  My attractions to women have dramatically increased over the years as I have learned healthy ways to relate to straight guys.

After years of sexual intimacy with guys, God gifted me with true intimacy.  I shared one of the most intimate moments of my life with a straight guy friend.  He invited me to listen to music and brainstorm ideas for a script he wanted me to write.  He shared his vision and his heart and welcomed me into his creative world.  He showed interest and gave value to my abilities and me.  It was the most intimate act any guy has ever done for me.  Sexual intimacy between men forces one to secede his masculinity to the other, thereby rejecting God’s design for his sexuality.  Sin enters in and both men are shamed.  Healthy intimacy between two guys, allows for mutual encouragement and edification as both men grow into the design that God has created for them.  There is no guilt, shame or sin in that, only meaningful relationships and trust.

So there you have it.  Man do I feel better.  Confession is good for the soul.  I hope my bravery will convince others to come out of hiding and share their triumphs as well.  I have done a fair amount of growth on my own through the years, but Exodus Freedom Conferences helped me establish a little more of exactly that, Freedom, from the life that kept me in bondage.  There was a fair amount of work I had to do on my own.  I know what my life looked like when I had the consumer mentality and showed up at my local Exodus ministry expecting a contact “healing”.   Jesus insured that salvation is free, but the rest of the Christian life takes work.  We have to willingly change sinful habits, study scripture, pray and deny ourselves daily.  I have met people who blame Exodus, but the truth is they made excuses not commitments.  They simply gave up, because a life of denial and following after Christ is difficult.  Sure there were rogue ministries out there, but when you add the human element to anything things are bound to get ugly.

When I first began my walk out of homosexuality, I was that guy who told God that I wouldn’t be gay, but I wasn’t going to date women.  Later, God revealed how I was a Christian with stipulations and not a surrendered Christian.  I changed my phrasing and begin to tell people that whatever God wanted for me, singleness or marriage, was fine with me.  All the while, knowing I wasn’t looking or praying for a wife.  In fact I would get mad if I found out people were praying for my future wife.  Where am I today?  Well, a few weeks ago I gave my pastor the name of a young lady.  He asked her name so he could pray for her.  That answer to prayer scares me a little, but not for the same reason it scared the gay kid I was way back when.  Ultimately, it is a good feeling.  Surrender.  I believe it is what stands between God’s plan for our lives and our plan for our lives.  Most of us stand just beyond God’s reach and blame everyone and everything for our failures.   At the end of it all though, when you breathe your last, the truth will be revealed.  I guess you just have to ask yourself one question regarding the truth: Will it define your life now or determine your eternity later?

Read more by Matthew Walker

  • My Thoughts on Exodus International Shutting Down

My Thoughts on Exodus International Shutting Down

Shawn Harrison Director of Six:11 Ministries Saint Marys, OH

My Thoughts on Exodus International Shutting Down

By Shawn Harrison, director of Six:11 Ministries, Saint Mary’s, OH.

Yesterday, Alan Chambers released a sincere apology to the LGBTQ community for the wrong doings of Exodus International. For sure, this sent waves across the web. Many people, gay & straight, sighed a relief of ‘It’s about time.

Then, last night, during his opening talk, Alan Chambers announced that Exodus International will be shutting down. The net was aflame, conservative and liberal sites alike, almost resounding the same expression, ‘WHAT?!

Before Alan was done speaking, I began receiving the same question, “What do you think about this?” Well, here are some thoughts about Exodus closing, the challenge given to Christians, and the Sovereignty of God.

Exodus Closes

The closing of Exodus doesn’t mean that “their side” won and “our side” lost. The closing of Exodus doesn’t mean that beliefs in traditional views of scripture are negated. And the closing of Exodus doesn’t mean that the countless testimonies from those who are ex-gay / post-gay are now considered fables.

Neither side wins, because we are all in this together – whether we like it or not. All of the words of Christ are still authoritative – even the verses we don’t like to acknowledge. All stories are deemed true stories, as we cannot dictate some one else’s journey.

I’ve spoken with Alan, Randy, and other Exodus leaders about this, and I understand their heart behind closing. And after processing things awhile for myself, I agree with them.

The name Exodus International carried with it a lot of heavy baggage. Many people were given false hopes by Exodus, and ministries under Exodus. I was given false hope when I first began my journey. Many people were held to unlivable expectations to live within. I was given such expectations. Many people were harmed – mentally, emotionally, physically – by the works of Exodus and the ministries under them. (I’m not ready to publicly share things yet in this aspect.)

In order for Exodus to continue educating the Church, and reaching in compassion those within the gay community, something drastic had to change. Otherwise, the message of Exodus, and the ministries associated with them, would continue to go unheard by those who need to hear.

As Alan shared last night, Exodus started because their was a void of such a ministry within the church – locally and globally. A lot of things have changed since their founding in 1976. The once felt void in the church isn’t completely void anymore, as churches are awakening to the realization that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people attend their services and even work in their denominations – known and unknown.

Because of this, last night, Exodus International passed the torch back into the hands of the Church. While their race may be over, the move of Christ continues.

Christians are challenged

What will we do now? Where will we send people? What happens to our ministries? All fair questions being asked by ministry leaders and people who use the services of Exodus. Ministries surrounding this issue continue being ambassadors of Christ and reconciliation, and they continue to be salt and light in a world that needs hope. We continue to send people to such ministries, joining their cause ourselves and loving the gay community as Jesus loves the gay community. And in this pursuit our ministries, our relationships, and our lives, continue glorifying the risen Christ, who gives hope and salvation freely to every person!

I love how Alan put things: Exodus is closing so the church CAN be the church. It’s time for the church to step up, face this challenge head on, and unify as a Body, shining forth an image of Christ that is truly the image of Christ.

There are some excellent ministries and resources out there striving to proclaim such hope to the church and world. Six:11 Ministries will continue to stand firm within the Body,equipping people to effectively and authentically LOVE the LGBTQ community; and we will continue to proclaim the identity and wholeness of God to everyone we encounter – gay and straight.

God Prevails

So, while Exodus may be closing, the church is still quite open. And God continues to sit upon His Throne.

Having same-sex attractions doesn’t discount somebody from Heaven, or from the love of Jesus. Nor should it discount someone from the love, support, and acceptance of the church. God didn’t clean you up before He wooed you with His love and grace; so we shouldn’t expect Him to do that for those we disagree with and fear because we don’t understand them.

Having same-sex attractions doesn’t make one less of a man or woman. They are made in the image of God, just like you and I are made in the image of God. What right do we have to tell the Creator He did wrong and messed up?

People with same-sex attractions have as much to offer the Body of Christ as any opposite-sex attracted person does. God has created us all with unique gifts, talents, and callings. We need each other, as we were created for community and unity.

The church is not the keeper of Heave – God is. The church doesn’t get to play God or make rules on His behalf – God does. If we are faithful to do what God asks of us, and go where He leads, God is faithful to make everything turn out according to His sovereign plan. William Barclay said, “love gives everything it has and never counts the cost.” This is what our Father has done for us, and this is how our Father calls each of us to live. Anything less is compromise.

Read more by Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison is the director of Six:11 Ministries, Saint Mary’s, OH.

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