White As Snow

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As I write this blog post, Christmas is just 20 days away. The holiday season brings so many demands for our time and attention, doesn’t it? It should be a time of celebrating and considering Jesus’ birth and it’s ramifications for the world. I urge you to take time each day to intentionally contemplate the wonders of His birth. If you take your eyes off the true “reason for the season”, due to the craziness of the season, you will end up experiencing a Christmas that leaves us spiritually bankrupt! It’s my hope, Lord willing, to share a few personal contemplations of this Christmas season with you, praying God will use them to bless you, my Bridge of Hope Ministry friends… as well as those with whom you may share these posts.

I begin with some thoughts from a few days ago! Where I live, for many of us, it just doesn’t seem like Christmas without snow on the ground. We continue to have above IMG_3125average temperatures; therefore, we have no snow on the ground. But a few days ago, I got up in the morning to find just enough pure white snow had fallen to cover the ground, trees, and so on! It was absolutely beautiful!  (This picture doesn’t do it justice!)   As I sat looking out on the seasonal beauty of God’s creation, I thought of how it reflects Him. The Bible tells us He not only reveals Himself in His Word, but in His creation.  (Psalm 19:1-5) I began to thank God for the beauty of the pure white snow and how it reflected Him… His glory, His holiness, His righteousness and so much more.

As I continued to look at this beautiful, white covering, I thought of how brown, grey, dirty and ugly this same scene had been yesterday. What a change! Then, an old Maranatha song, White  As Snow, popped into my head… and I began to sing it, meditating on the words that reflect the truths of Isaiah 1:18. I immediately decided to find it on a YouTube video (click here) and I played the beautiful video several times, singing with the singers in heartfelt worship.

“White as snow, white as snow,

Though my sins were as scarlet.

Lord, I know, Lord, I know,

That I’m clean and forgiven.

Through the power of Your blood,

Through the wonder of Your love,

Through faith in You, I know that I can be white as snow!”

When I was first saved, this song so moved me whenever we sang it in church. And we sang it often! In all honesty, it still moves me today. Our first pure white accumulating snowfall of the year, always reminds me of the truths found in this song.

This month, that baby in the manger that we celebrate, came to die, the perfect sacrifice for my sin (and your sin). His blood sacrifice covers my dirty, ugly sin (past, present & future) and makes me white as snow, in God’s eyes! Amazing! Oh, the power of His blood and the wonder of His love that He would do that for me. Through faith in Him (not works), I know that I can be white as snow. How about you?

Do yourselves a favor and watch this beautiful video… more than once. When the singers finally begin to sing, join in with them… with a grateful heart engaged.  May the beauty of this video reflect the glory of the Lord in your heart. Let the truth of this song go deep. Pray! Ask God to take you to new depths of understanding and intimacy as you explore the wonder of Christmas this month. As a child of God, let this be your gift to your heavenly Father; time alone with Him, appreciating and giving thanks for “His indescribable gift”. (2 Corinthians 9: 15)

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Let It Shine, Let It Shine, Let It Shine!

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IMG_0150During the Christmas season, I absolutely love to look at my lighted Christmas tree from a spiritual perspective, especially during my morning devotional time. In my thinking, each light represents believers and the dark background of the tree represents our spiritually dark world (and those of the world). Each light sheds light in one small area of the tree, dispelling darkness. Sometimes a light is out and cannot dispel darkness in its area of influence. Then it’s time to investigate to see if it is burnt out or there is just a lose connection that can be easily fixed?

As I look at my tree and ponder these things, I remember that Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). And Jesus also said of His followers, “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14a). Both statements are true. If we are true followers of Jesus Christ, our lives will shine with “the Light of life”.

While we ourselves are not the light, we are holders of the light. Reflecting Him to the world is the believer’s God-given duty, so it’s imperative that we keep our light shining. Let’s not put our light under a basket (Matt 5:15-16) as a result of neglecting our relationship with God or allowing some wrong-doing (sin) in our lives to dim our light or block it out all together. We are to keep it on the lamp-stand so it gives light to those in our area of influence.

We live in a spiritually dark world. Paul describes the condition of mankind without Christ this way: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom. 1:21). The state of unbelievers is the same as it has always been. Darkness plagues those without Christ because they live with a sense of frustration and futility as they attempt to please fleshly appetites that are never satisfied. When the Light of life shines in an area of influence, people see themselves as they really are: sinners in need of a Savior. When His hope penetrates the heart, darkness is chased away. Receiving Him as Savior means that sins are forgiven and the death sentence (separation from God for all eternity) is lifted. The Light of life does another very important thing in the life of a true believer. It illuminates the right path for our life so that we need not give in to temptation, including same-sex attraction temptations. By faith, the true believer chooses to walk in the light, obeying God’s commandments and seeking to live by His principles (Eph. 5:8-10), no longer walking in darkness. If a “so-called believer” still walks in darkness, living a lifestyle of sin, such as one Paul mentions in 1 Cor. 6:9-10; it’s important for us to shine our light on our interactions with them, proving to them that they are still walking in darkness.   We allow Christ to shine forth when we speak about biblical truth but also when we model His ways. Some who have the Light of life shine on their life of darkness will see Jesus and want Him for themselves and thus find real hope (Rom. 15:13)!  We never know who that will be.

In closing, may each of us take time to consider this: Is my light shining bright for Jesus? Not just during the holiday season, but all year, may His light shine in us and through us. Don’t be negligent in protecting your relationship with Christ (through lack of prayer and reading His Word). And, don’t allow sin to take root in your life. Both of these actions, brothers and sisters, will dim your light or put it out all together. It’s a great honor to reflect Jesus to the world. Someone in your sphere of influence needs your “light” to guide him or her toward the true Light of the world. This is God’s will for you. So let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

For God, who said, “light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6.

 

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Transformation By Faith

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The main purpose of my previous post was that all understand, the goal for every believer is to be made more and more into the image of Jesus.   Therefore, a born again believer coming out of homosexuality must understand this is God’s will and goal for them as well; the goal is not heterosexuality/marriage.  If this is your focus, it can and most likely will derail your faith.  So how did the proper goal for change affect me, as I sought to come out of homosexuality and be transformed into the person God wanted me to be.

I am blessed to have a glorious day I can recall where I gave my heart, my mind, and my soul to Jesus and became a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).  When I prayed that day to receive Christ as my Savior and Lord, I asked Him to take control of my life and make me the person He wanted me to be.  And I meant it!  And God knew my heart.  With me in control of my life, I had only made a mess of it.  When I prayed that morning, I was filled with a deep inner peace I had never known before, and while I cried tears of joy, I also experienced a tremendous weight lift off of my shoulders.

sin-300x300 I had the life of Christ inside of me, in the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and was experiencing His joy and peace. And the burden of my sin had been lifted.  I knew God was real and God was personal!

Now, lest some of you have alarm bells going off concerning “emotional experiences”, I took to heart an important reminder/warning given in the tract I was reading.  Now that I had received Christ, do not depend on feelings.  But depend on God’s Word.  The promises of His Word, not our feelings, are our authority.  The Christian is to live by faith in the trustworthiness of God and His Word.  This understanding was so important on so many levels coming out of homosexuality.

The same-sex attractions/feelings did not go away the day I was saved.  Would they?  It was my hope from the very beginning that God would heal me so that I would become a person with true heterosexual desires, etc.  Very soon after I was saved, I agreed with God that not only was I a sinner, but that the homosexual lifestyle was sinful (Rom 1: 26-27; 1 Cor. 6: 9-10). By faith, 1 Corinthians 6:11 gave me great hope:  “And such were some of you.  But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

I remember thinking, “wow, the Bible says the homosexual can change”.  I believed it would be part of the sanctification process where God was making me more and more like Jesus.  So I didn’t make it a continual focus or goal for my life.  When the same-sex attractions would surface, and they would for several years, I had a clear choice to make.  Would I obey God’s Word, or seek to reinterpret it in order to fulfill my sexual attractions/feelings.  Would I let these same-sex attractions derail my faith?  Or would I walk by faith, choosing to take God at His word and not walk by my feelings.

Here is the main point I am trying to make.  Very soon after I was saved, I gained a very important biblical understanding of what faith is and what it is not. It was so important that in my book, Love Flowed Down, I have given a whole chapter to the importance of faith.

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The Bible tells us we are saved by faith and that we are to walk by faith (Eph. 2:8; 2 Cor. 5:7).   All true believers in Jesus Christ are to live by faith.  Faith is not just something we know; faith is something we do.  James tells us we are to be doers of His word and not hearers only (James 1:22).  Consequently, we practice living, active faith when we are obedient to the Word of God.  But here is a very important question:  What gets in the way of our obedience to what God is speaking to us through His Word?  Our feelings and our circumstances get in the way and cause unbelief.  Faith is choosing to take God at His word no matter what our feelings or circumstances are telling us.  This is the reality of walking by faith.

For me and for others coming out of homosexuality, a biblical understanding of what faith is and what it is not is essential for us to walk in a manner worthy of our God.  Living active faith operates quite simply.  Let’s look at it one more time.  God speaks through His Word; we trust Him and His Word, and we will ourselves to take Him at His Word, no matter what the circumstances are around us, or what the consequences may be.  We obey God’s Word by the power of the Holy Spirit in us.  Our feelings may tell us the circumstances are impossible and the consequences may look frightening, but by real faith, we can obey God and His Word in every situation.   In other words, faith is choosing to take God at His Word, not walking by our feelings that are influenced by circumstances and by fiery darts Satan might be shooing at our minds, which cause wrong thinking (Eph. 6:16; 1 Peter 5:8-9).

So, when I’d struggle with same-sex attractions/feelings (that I didn’t want), I’d pray, “Lord, You know it is not my desire to act upon them.  So, I’m going to walk by faith, choosing to take You at Your Word and not walk according to these feelings!  I believe in Your time, You will take them away… You will heal me.”  I knew God was conforming me to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29) and I believed He would complete the work He had started in me.  Faith gave me victory over these times of temptation, and I trusted Him to continue to change me more and more into the image of Christ.  Next time, I’ll take this discussion to an even more personal level by sharing a couple excerpts from my journal, when I was only a year and a half old in the Lord.  You will see how this understanding of faith affected my walk with Jesus.

In closing out this post, if you dear reader, are a young believer and the same-sex attractions are still there… hang in there, and walk by faith, not by feelings.  Be encouraged by the wonderful promise found in Philippians 1:6:  “being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (NKJV italics added… notice it is a transformation process).  Do you believe this promise (and so many other promises) in His Word that can encourage and give you hope?  Why do I ask?  Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).  If you are a brother or sister in Christ, this post (and all the others on the BOHM Blog) is written to help you better minister to the one in your life struggling with same-sex attractions.

In closing, we all must allow Jesus to be the Lord of our lives.  Stay yielded to His will for your life and let Him work.  He will make us into the man or woman He wants us to be, so that when we see Him face to face, we shall be like Him.  Praise the Lord!  Until that day, He has a storehouse of blessings He wants to open up for use in our lives, that cancels the past, equips you for the present and secures the future.  It’s called grace… and it is sufficient!  Do you believe?

 

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The Goal of Change

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The issue of “change” is as complex as every other question concerning homosexuality.  Many say that one cannot “change” their sexuality (sexual attractions); so therefore, “change” is pointless to consider.  And furthermore, they say, it is harmful to try and change their sexuality.  There are others who insist that presenting the idea of “change” to a gay or lesbian suggests that one is trying to push heterosexuality and therefore, suggesting that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality.  The third camp, on the other side of this argument, says that since some have changed, anyone and everyone can “change”.  Are you in one of these three camps?  All three of these are really misconceptions about change.  The thinking behind these statements is not correct.

We must define change… biblical change.  The people that surround this debate, for the most part, misunderstand the idea of “change”.  Here in lies the problem:  both sides falsely assume that “change” means a person being restored to full-heterosexuality.  This was my thinking for a time.  This means that a person never struggles with or is tempted by same-sex attractions again, and they eventually get married.  Both sides state that if these things do not occur then the person is not “changed”.

Well, this assumption fails on so many levels and keeps many people from experiencing the abundant life that God offers us through Jesus Christ (John 10:10b).

I have read or heard the testimonies of “ex-gay” men and women who were born again, but did not think they were experiencing biblical change because they were still experiencing and/or struggling with same-sex attractions.  Some were convinced they will never experience “change” and even concluded it was because God was punishing them… and at times they thought He even hated them.  Some of the thoughts they would entertain were the following:  If He really loved me, He would take these feelings away.  Why doesn’t He make me straight like my friends?  Why couldn’t I struggle with the lust for the opposite-sex, instead of the same-sex?

Here’s the problem.   When we make the goal of “change” heterosexuality and/or marriage, our thinking is faulty.  The end result of one’s journey out of homosexuality is not marriage, nor is it to become “straight thinking”.  Think about it.  Is it really biblical to trade one lust for another?  All lust is bad.

So, if this isn’t the goal of change, what should it beWell, all true believers in Jesus Christ experience change.  This change is not about making all believers heterosexual, is it?  No, the true change is about being made new in the image of Christ.  (2 Cor. 5:17, Eph. 5:1)

Think with me for a minute.  Believers often quote Romans 8:28… “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”then we stop.  But our question should be, what is the good that God promises to bring about in our lives?  The answer:  Christ-likeness.  The next verse declares,  “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren”  (Romans 8:29).  God predestined, or marked out before, that we (believers) be conformed to the image of His Son.  That’s the goal of change.  God not only saves us; He also begins to transform us into the His image.

How is this accomplished in you and me, all sinners saved by grace?  It begins at salvation with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and it continues to be achieved through three things:  our proper relationship to God, our response to the Word of God, and the suffering that attends the life of every child of God.  And for the one coming out of homosexuality, suffering or trial may be dealing with same-sex attractions, not allowing them to derail your new life in Christ, while God continues His work in your life to make you more like Jesus.  “Change” happens for everyone, but how much or how little, depends on the person.  Many who make these three things a priority in their lives, are able to leave their same-sex attractions behind,, 100%, and marry.  Others are able to deal with their attractions, and not succumb to them, and either get married or live a life of celibacy.  It’s about changing how one lives their life.

Yes, marriage is a wonderful thing; and I hope many people who deal with same-sex attractions can experience it (with the opposite sex).  But marriage does not make you a “man” or “woman”.  We, the church of Jesus Christ, must take this expectation and burden off of our brothers and sisters who deal with same-sex attractions-especially those who truly have no desire to date, or marry the opposite sex.

The “change” process involves cleansing one’s heart of the past (we all had one, not just the homosexual), and seeing and doing things God’s way (1John 1:8-10, 1Cor. 6:11).  We must view life as God views it.  True “change” involves embracing the Father’s unconditional love; and loving Him right back, by taking hold of His promises and claiming them as our own (Rom. 5:5, 8; John 14:21).  It’s about walking in the truth of God’s Word by the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16-18), and living life from God’s perspective, focused on Him and His perfect will for our lives!

If you can only get one thing from this post, may it be the following:  For the born again believer coming out of homosexuality, the goal for change is not heterosexuality and/or marriage.  It is to be made more and more into the image of Jesus.  Every true Christian undergoes this transformation process (sanctification).  The Christian faith is about making disciples who live in their identity as God’s child, and who walk in His power and for His glory.  It’s about people who have been captured by God’s incredible love and abounding grace, desiring above all else to live for Him.  And may we all be “confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it…”  (Phil 1:6).  So be it!

Next time, I’ll share how having the proper goal for change played out in my life and how it helped me deal with the same-sex attractions that did not go away as soon as I was born again.  To God be the glory!

 

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No Apologies Here

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Tragically, you may have heard recent news reports about several “major” former homosexuals who have publicly announced that they are going back into the homosexual lifestyle.   John Paulk, formerly of Focus on the Family, issued a public apology to gays and lesbians telling them he was sorry for the hurt and harm he had inflicted on them by declaring that he was ex-gay. He then announced that he was separating from his wife, breaking up his family, which includes three young boys, to pursue his “truth” and live the homosexual lifestyle-AS A CHRISTIAN! He also instructed people to no longer purchase the books he had co-authored with his wife, saying in effect that he had been “lying” the entire time.

Recently, Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, shocked everyone when he issued a very similar press release apologizing to the gay and lesbian community for hurting and harming them.

We at Bridge of Hope Ministry (BOHM) were suspect of some of Chamber’s statements and actions the past several years. He seemed to have gravitated toward a connection with gays and lesbians who also identify as Christian. He told the press that he “never met a former homosexual before”; while he himself is a so-called “former homosexual” who is married to a woman.  Now he admits he has never been “set free” from his own daily struggles with homosexuality. Chambers further claims that 99.9 percent of the people who came to Exodus over the decades NEVER experienced true, complete freedom from their homosexuality. The Christian community was shocked by his statements, as were former supporters of the Exodus ministry.

Then, on June 19, 2013, Exodus International, a thirty-seven-year-old umbrella ministry that had helped individuals connect with local ministries that could help them overcome unwanted same-sex attractions, closed its doors. However, many of the ministries once registered as Exodus associates continue to operate.  However, LGBT community and its supporters continue to celebrate the demise of Exodus International as a victory.

Today, we are seeing the once commonly accepted, Biblical view that homosexuality is sin being treated by many as hateful intolerance.  But we must never lose hope that Jesus is the answer for all who are lost.  Society may change, but God does not change. Deuteronomy 10:17 says, The Lord your God is God of all gods and Lord of all lords. He is the great God, who is strong and wonderful. He does not take sides, and he will not be talked into doing evil.”

Through their so-called apologies, these ex-leaders have made it very clear that they believe God is NOT ABLE to reach those who want to be freed from the same-sex attractions that are in conflict with their Christian faith. They have declared that this is one area where Christ CANNOT offer help, hope, or change.  This sin (if they even still call it that) is GREATER than Christ and His life-transforming power, mercy, and grace. They seem to say that Christ’s death and atonement on Calvary did not cover the sin of homosexuality.

My friends, do not be deceived! 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 clearly refutes their lie that transformation is not possible.  “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.  Such were some of you but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”  NASB  (Italics and underlines words mine.)  When I first read this verse in the Bible, I was blown away.  Here was God’s Word telling me I could change.  This passage is proof that change IS possible, and it is the testimony of my own life and the testimony of thousands of other ex-gays.  The transformation the Lord worked in my life is also available to any man or woman who will seek Him and seek to be the person God intended him or her to be.  Please understand, there is a huge “unseen” war going on for the souls of men and women.

You can trust BOHM to continue to minister the hope of change for the homosexual through Jesus Christ.  BOHM will continue to encourage and equip others to minister to those they know and love who identify as homosexual.  No apologies here.  And there are many other smaller local ministries, some who were under the Exodus “umbrella”, continuing to do the same thing.  The Bible tells us that in the last days, things are going to get worse and sin will abound, and the love of many will grow cold (Matt. 24:12).

The truth that Jesus Christ can set captives to sin free, needs to be proclaimed from the mountaintops! Won’t you join us today to help us get this message out?  Share this message on Facebook.  Ask other believers to “like” the Bridge of Hope Ministry FB page.  Equip yourselves.  Purchase and read Ruth’s book, Love Flowed Down, It Was For Me.  Have it available in your church bookstores.  True Christians continue to be deceived by the media and the doctrine of gay-affirming churches.  They need to be presented with testimonies that line up with the truth of God’s Word, or more and more will become a “doubting Thomas”.  Please make use of the ministry website and direct others there as the Lord leads.

I urge you to please pray for this ministry (and others like us), to stand strong in these very critical times.  And, pray for those who are deceived into believing the homosexual is born that way and cannot change.  Thank you so much and the Lord bless you and keep you.  Keep looking up!  Our redemption draws nigh.  Until then, may we all continue to stand strong and be about our Father’s business!

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My First Christmas

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When I was a child, Christmas seemed wonderful, exciting! The holiday season was filled with family and friends, goodies to eat, songs to sing, presents to give and receive, and so on. But with adulthood came a void. An elusive something was missing. I didn’t realize the something was a Someone.

The amazing thing is that Jesus was there all the time. But I didn’t know Him. I knew His name. I had a Bible in my house. Church had been a part of my life. I thought I was a Christian. In the fullness of time Jesus had arrived, but I simply hadn’t moved from a religion to a relationship. Then it finally happened. And a month shy of age 40, I had my first real Christmas!

I’ll never forget my first Christmas as a Christian. All I could think of was, what love! What a plan God had conceived in His heart, to bring reconciliation to all who would accept this indescribable gift… and that included me. Jesus… born to die for me! Listening to Christmas music took on a whole new meaning. Attending the Christmas Eve service at my church that year was incredibly joyous and meaningful!  What a time of celebration through song, testimony and message.  Most songs I had heard since a child, but now I really heard!  The testimony brought tears.  Now I had a testimony!  Parts of the message I had heard before, but now I really understood!  Yes, what a blessed first Christmas!

I often think of my “first Christmas”. Just a few years ago, at my church Christmas Dinner, Carolyn Arends shared many of her Christmas songs. When she sang her song, My First Christmas, this verse described the reality of my first Christmas:

“First time that I can really sing
Glory, hallelujah to the baby king
And a holy night is what this is
“Cause this is my first Christmas
This is my first Christmas.”

And sing I did. I’ll never forget the blessing of my first Christmas!

Lord willing, I will attend the Christmas Eve service at my church tonight. I’m looking forward to remembering the One who filled the void in my life almost 25 years ago! Yes, the prophecy God gave through Isaiah, came true almost 2000 years ago. “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (Isa. 7:14)

Immanuel, “God with us”, is exactly what Christmas is all about: letting Jesus fill that God-shaped void inside. The joy of Christmas is knowing that if you’ve received the gift of His Son… truly received Him as your Savior and Lord…. you’ll never be alone. It’s knowing Jesus will never leave you, never forsake you (Hebrew 13:5)!

And Christmas is also a time of hope, knowing that sometime in our future, we will have an awesome first Christmas in heaven with Jesus, and this will be the scene another verse of Carolyn’s song describes:

“First time to hear the angels sing
Glory, hallelujah to the the risen king
And a holy night is what this is
‘Cause this is my first Christmas
This is my first Christmas.”

It’s my prayer that you will experience the joy of your first Christmas again this year! And yes, He is the reason for the season! If your Christmas season seems empty, could it be that you’ve missed the Someone of Christmas? Have you moved from religion to a relationship? Perhaps it’s time to consider what you have done with Jesus, so that we all can sing together, “glory, hallelujah to the baby king”… and soon, sing with the angels and all who have gone before us “glory, hallelujah to the risen king!”  Merry Christmas!

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Evangelize… Don’t Moralize! Part 2

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The unbelieving homosexual, no matter what they believe about homosexuality, is a sinner and needs Jesus! In my case, after I was lead to tell my new Christian friend, Jill, I had been leading a lesbian lifestyle for many years, let’s remember how she spoke the truth in love. She responded by telling me that it’s wrong because the Bible says it is. And she balanced it out with “but God love’s you and I love you… that is something you need to take to God.” It was a word fitly spoken (Pro. 15:2; 15:23b). Had she been in my face that it is an abomination… or had she begun to espouse her beliefs that it is unnatural, harmful, and destructive to civilization, all of which may be true, it would not have gone well with me. All those answers are to a certain degree subjective. They can be and will be dismissed as just your opinion. Because Jill didn’t do that, and she humbly and lovingly pointed me to the Lord and His truth; no defensiveness surfaced on my part, and I didn’t feel or sense any condemnation.

The important truth we want to remember here is that homosexuality is wrong is because God, who gave us our sexual capacities, simply said so in His Word! When we present the case in that light, we remove our personal opinions and experiences from the argument, thus bringing the person face to face with God Himself and the truth of His Word. This was my situation. Jill knew I believed in God, but I was not born again and she sensed I was opening up to spiritual things. She looked for an opportunity to be a minister of reconciliation, sharing the gospel of peace with me. That opportunity came the next day!

So, if God gives you an opportunity to minister to a person struggling with homosexuality, keep it simple and focused, praying for an open door to share the gospel. Be patient and let the Holy Spirit work, but don’t moralize by overemphasizing the sinfulness of homosexuality. In the New Testament, homosexual behavior is not singled out as more sinful than adultery, fornication, idolatry, blaspheme, greed, hatred, or any other specific sins. Paul consistently placed homosexual behavior right alongside a variety of other sins (see Rom 1:29-31; 1Cor 6:9-10; 1Tim 1:9-10). Neither should we single it out as the worst of sins. One reason they didn’t single it out was because homosexual sex was as common in the Roman world as it is becoming in ours. That has not been the case with us until recently, so we have tended to overreact to homosexuality more than to other sins. And, some have thought that Paul identified homosexual sin as more sinful in the first chapter of Romans, but I agree with most good Bible teachers, that that is not the case. In verses 26-32, Paul is using homosexual behavior to illustrate the inevitable moral insanity and sexual perversity that follows when people, nations, cultures, and civilizations reject the true and living God. We’re seeing the fruit of turning away from God and doing our own thing in our country, are we not? All unrighteousness is sin!

Once I was born again, then I dealt with the homosexual issue. I thought, ok, I’m a sinner… I’m saved… but is homosexuality really sin? With the indwelling Holy Spirit and the Word of God I was convicted that it was a sinful lifestyle. If I had a problem with that, I would have had to wrestle with God about it. I’m a firm believer that conviction over specific sins is better left to the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t clean us up and then save us. He saves us and then begins His “open heart surgery”… changing us from the inside out. Remember, specific sins are fruit of the root problem: all men and women sinners, who are dead in our trespasses and sins. The only remedy is the salvation that comes through personal faith in Jesus Christ.

In closing, it’s time to get back to the important question. How did I come out of homosexuality? First I received the gospel message, became a new creation in Christ, truly born again, a sinner saved by grace! Praise the Lord! And, very soon after I was born again, I agreed with God that according to the Bible, homosexuality is a sin. I could not and would not lead that lifestyle any longer. Is that it, you ask? No, there were some struggles to overcome. But I was so grateful for my salvation. I loved Jesus much more than the homosexual lifestyle. I allowed Him to be the Lord of my life, and by His amazing grace He opened up His storehouse of blessings that canceled the past, equipped me to deal the struggles of coming out of homosexuality and secured my future! Again, I say, praise the Lord. Stay tuned… more to come!

Prayer thought: Precious Lord, give us the heart of a minister of reconciliation and the opportunity to share the gospel of peace to a hurting world!

Related source:  (Speaking the Truth) In Love  (standupforthetruth.com)


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Evangelize… Don’t Moralize! Part 1

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I have so much on my heart to share; the question is, where do I begin? The Holy Spirit has been prompting me for quite some time to make it a priority to share, posting much more often on the Bridge of Hope Ministry (BOHM) Blog. I haven’t been listening… so as to do! No more excuses… time to make God’s priorities, my priorities.

But, again, where do I start? Often during my morning devotions, God has spoken to my heart, and I think, I need to share this… or share that. Or I read posts and comments on various ministry blogs and websites; then think about responding but don’t because of the time it will take. Then I just forget about it.

Recently, as I prayed about getting back at posting on the blog, it became clear where to start. And really, this has been on my heart since February when I was on a Christian radio program, Stand Up For The Truth. That day, as I began to share, people began to call in with questions such as: so, do you believe a person is not born homosexual? Did you choose to be homosexual? Would you share what specific things (specific experiences) in your childhood that you think helped cause the development of same-sex attractions/feelings in you? In a nutshell, all these questions were about how I became a lesbian! As I drove home, I remember thinking, isn’t anyone interested in how God changed my life… how I came out of homosexuality… how the Son set me free (John 8:34, 36). Understanding how the love of Jesus set me free, and changed me from the inside out, will help equip others for ministry in this area.

As I speak with believers at conferences, it’s quite evident people are not sure how to minister to someone they know who says they are homosexual. Typically, I will ask, is this person saved… are they born again? The answer to this question will determine where your ministry to this person will begin. Just as Jesus told Nicodemus, “you must be born again” (John 3:3), so must this struggler God has brought into their lives! It is the first and most important step to finding freedom from homosexuality. And, yes, it was the most important step in my journey out of homosexuality. Freedom comes through Jesus Christ! And typically, that means the need for someone to share the gospel!

Many who have come to Christ out of the gay lifestyle have shared that those who influenced them in their decision for Christ did so primarily through love and patience. And they did not make homosexuality the primary issue, because it is not. The primary issue is sin. My friend, who shared the gospel with me, influenced my decision for Christ in just that manner. She evangelized; she did not moralize! Yes, she shared the truth about homosexuality. But she did not dwell on it; there was something much more important she was hoping to share.

Here’s what happened. As we sipped our morning coffee and talked, religion and spiritual “stuff” came up. Eventually I felt lead to tell her the lifestyle I was leading and the trials of the past couple years. She listened and then said something like this: “Ruth, I believe it (homosexuality) is wrong because the Bible says it is. God loves you and so do I, but that is something you need to take to God.” She left it at that, never mentioning it again. The next day, God gave her an open door to share the gospel! We did not talk about homosexuality at all; but she did talk about sin. She explained how we are all sinners and how Jesus bridged the gap between a holy God and unholy, sinful man! The next day, on my own, reading through the Four Spiritual Laws tract, thinking through all the scriptures and their application to my life, I recognized my need for Jesus. I prayed and accepted Him as my Savior and Lord.

So, if you know someone who is homosexual, pray for the Holy Spirit to draw this person to Christ. Pray for God to use you and give you an open door to share the gospel. When that open door comes, don’t moralize by over-emphasizing the issue of homosexuality, telling them they need Jesus because homosexuality is perverse, it’s unnatural, it’s wrong, it’s an abomination, you shouldn’t live that way, etc. Had my friend done that with me, she never would have had an opportunity to get to the real issue and to share the gospel. She truly spoke the truth in love and then took advantage of the open door God gave her to focus on and to lay out through the scriptures, the real issue … we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23), and “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8) and more!

Therefore, just as we approach any other sinner who needs Jesus with love, grace, mercy, kindness, and courtesy, we do the same for those living the homosexual lifestyle. Evangelize… don’t moralize!

More on this next time! Before you go, please check out the rest of the website, as it has been recently revamped.

NOTE:  If you are interested in Ruth’s book, Love Flowed Down… It Was For Me, it can be purchased at the ministry website store through PayPal… or you can purchase it at Amazon.com.  There is a book description on the Amazon page!

 

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Do Not Be Deceived

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Hello again! It’s been too long since I’ve posted here. Time to get back at it and keep at it!

Lately, I’ve been pondering all the deception going on around us. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me, because the ruler of this world has been a deceiver since the beginning of time. It seems to be the way of the world, as in the political arena, for example. Politics 101 these days seems to be all about deception. Deception in the political arena, or in the media is one thing, but deception in the body of Christ? Yes, and it grieves me! Recently, I looked up in a Bible concordance how many times these words were used: deceive(d), deception, delude(d), delusion, and so on. Let’s just say it was LOTS! So, it’s my guess all this deception doesn’t take God by surprise. He’s tried to warn us, guide us, direct us by His truth.

Do not be deceived, there is a fierce spiritual battle going on for the souls of men and women. And the master deceiver, the devil, is working overtime to keep his grip on those in bondage to homosexuality and his main tool of deception is the pro-gay theology, now making great inroads in the church.

The gay-Christian movement has made its way into mainstream evangelicalism where many churches have gone “seeker sensitive”… have gone away from teaching the whole counsel of God… and are “emergent” in their thinking. The pro-gay theology (gay gospel) is accepted in these churches, as it fits right in with their revisionist thinking and teaching of the Bible.

In 1988, when I was born again, coming out of a 15-year lesbian lifestyle, there was not the deception in this area that there is today. The foundation for my freedom from homosexuality and the ultimate restoration of heterosexual attractions, feelings, and identity was Jesus and the Word and fellowship with bible-believing born again Christians. I wanted God’s will for my life; not my same-sex attractions/feeling. So, I trusted God and His precious promises and by faith believed He would finish the work He started in me. The same-sex attractions and desires didn’t go away for a couple years. Was I going to take God at His word, or walk according to my feelings and my circumstances. Because God’s Word said it was sin and a lifestyle (among others) that is not for the Christian (1Cor. 6: 9-10), I chose to trust God. It is really a faith and a heart issue. And, I had the hope of the Scriptures, especially 1Corinthians 6: 11: “And such were some of you” (I couldn’t believe the Bible actually tells us the homosexual can change!)… so I believed God would heal me, if I did things His way!!

The deception of the gay-Christian movement affects both the homosexual and the loved one or friend of the struggler. As I talk to believers, I find they are not sure how to respond to those in their life who identify as gay/Christians, who usually have a sophisticated set of arguments to defend their lifestyle.

How would you respond to the following pro-gay arguments?
• If you think homosexuality is wrong, how do you explain me? I’m born again and I’m gay, and I take my Christian life just as seriously as you do.
• I love Jesus and God loves me just as I am.
• The Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality the way you think it does. They didn’t understand it. We’ve only learned about sexual orientation and being born gay the past 100 years.
• Adultery is something you choose to do; I didn’t choose to be homosexual.
• How come you’re so against homosexuality. If Jesus thought homosexuality was important, don’t you think it’s strange He said nothing about it.
• The holiness code in Leviticus was for Israel. And the homosexuality God condemned was temple prostitution.
• Most people who quote the Bible to gays are homophobic, and they’re using the Bible as an excuse to hate us.
• If God thinks badly of my committed relationship with my lover, why do I feel His presence every week in my church.

How’d you do? Could you respond in grace and love… or yes, and in truth? Need more time?

Think about it until next time!!!

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I Know That My Redeemer Lives

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I can not believe it’s been a year since I’ve entered into the “Blog-o-sphere” and posted an entry. No time like the present to get back at it. I invite you to comment, as I’d like to know your thoughts.

Recently I was reading the book of Job and I was struck by something he did; even though I have read this many times before. Job had lost children, possessions, health and the support of his wife and friends. In a sense, he was left alone with God and his thoughts/feelings… and God was silent. He is blinded by his grief and sorrow, wishing he had not been born and that he would die, so as to escape his deep emotional pain. (Though NOT talking of suicide!) Ever been in a place of experiencing deep emotional pain? And God is silent? You find it hard to pray… and to not curse God. Job didn’t curse God as Satan was hoping! But then, right in the midst of his near despair, Job has a sudden and amazing vision of God as Savior and Redeemer. He makes a declaration of faith that continues to inspire hearts after thousands of years: (Job 19:25-27)

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!”

Job catches a glimpse of the living changeless God, who would one day enter time and space as a Man, the God-Man (and He has!), and become the Redeemer of all mankind. We just celebrated the One who rose from the grave, conquering death and giving us eternal life. And, yes, He is coming again. And notice how Job is suddenly convinced in his heart that he will see His Redeemer eye to eye and he looks forward to it. “How my heart yearns within me!”

So, what about you dear reader? Is it the cry of your heart? Is Jesus your Redeemer? Have you become a new creation by believing in Him and receiving His salvation? Do you know that your Redeemer lives? Be very sure about this. I spent many years in Easter services being inspired emotionally, but not really knowing my Redeemer. We often sang this wonderful hymn inspired by Job’s declaration. I would sing it, but deep down not really believe it? Check out the words… even sing along and do a heart check. Do you really know?

Until next time… it’s my prayer that the God of hope may fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). Amen!!

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