White As Snow

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)

No Apologies Here

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!

My First Christmas

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!

Evangelize… Don’t Moralize! Part 1

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!

 

Do Not Be Deceived

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!!!

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

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!!

Fear of God (cont.)

As I mentioned in the previous post, we are commanded to fear God. (You may want to read it for better understanding, as I am not going to repeat everything.)  The Biblical meaning of fearing God, as a Christian, is to revere and respect God, to have an overwhelming sense of awe of God and His greatness.  When we consider who God is and what great things He has done, we stand in awe of Him.  Certainly, if He created the universe with a word, He can help us in our change process to be men and women of God.  With God, all things are possible.  If we comprehend but a little of who He is and what He has done and what He will do, especially for us personally, our natural response should be to fear God.  Fearing God enriches our lives and keeps us from sinning.  And I believe fearing God and loving God go together.  

The fear of God and the love of God draw us near to Him.  As we spend time with Him, study His Word and apply it to our lives, we become more and more like Him.  We grow to love as He loves and to hate what He hates.  What does He love? Well, for one, His Word! And what does He hate?  Sin!  “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil” (Pro. 8:13).  Therefore, a Christian should not be living a life of habitual sin.  Through my ministry, I often hear of those who identify as homosexual, but also identify themselves as Christian!  How can this be?  If you, reader, are such a person, “do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:7).  You say you love God?  Jesus tells us in John 14, if we love Him we will keep His commandments.

As Christians, I really believe our motivation to do God’s will and make changes that are very difficult and deep-seeded, our main motivation must be the fear of God.  For example, when we understand His greatness, certainly we can believe He will heal us from same-sex attractions and a homosexual identity we have acquired, even though it will take some time.  When we respect Him as God, our Father who knows best, we can and will persevere.

If you say you are a Christian, and you can live a lifestyle of habitual sin or continually fall in and out of sin, (and this doesn’t bother you!) it’s my opinion that you certainly don’t fear God.  And I wonder if you really love God above all things, even yourself.  If you don’t really fear or love God so as to turn from sinful behavior, then my question to you is are you really a Christian.  This I know to be true; God knows your heart.

Perhaps you are reading this and you know flat out, you are not a Christian.  You have not been born again; and you have heard the gospel but continue to reject it in its entirety (perhaps you believe in God but don’t believe sin is really an issue to keep you out of heaven; or you don’t belief God’s Word when it says homosexuality or any other sinful lifestyle is sin), here is a verse I’d like you to consider.  “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  (Hebrew 10:31)  And Jesus said “…Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”  (Luke 12:5)  This is a fear of God I’m glad I don’t have to worry about it.  What about you? 

Before I conclude this post, let’s look at fearing God from one other person’s perspective.  Solomon with all his wisdom found this life without God to be vanity of vanities… emptiness.  As he pondered this life before the grave, his conclusion was “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.”  (Ecclesiastes 12:13)  Humans are spiritual and moral beings who find their fulfillment in God’s teachings that lead to a loving relationship with Him, our all in all!  Ask yourself, do you want it all?  Boy, I sure do! 

I believe and have experienced in my own life, the Bible is true… all of it.  When it says fearing God can keep you from sin, there’s no debate.  Submit to God; allow Him to work in your life.  You must take the steps to depart from evil and sin, separate yourself unto God and He will enable you!  He did it in my life.  He can do it in yours.  Christians definitely can and should live a holy life, free from bondage to sin.  Fear Him! Love Him! Live for Him!!!!!!!