Dying daily vs. Having died.

This blog article is helpful to understanding some of Jesus directives. We believe it will help you live life more victoriously.

His Grace Is Enough

 

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Denying yourself

I have often received much questions and objections towards the teaching of grace and “resting in the finished work”, by being posed the question “but Jesus said “Deny yourself and take up your cross”. As such, many believers clam, we preach a “laxed gospel”.  Many of such believers, good hearted as they may be, say that the grace gospel deals away with the need to “die daily” and as such, is nothing short of being heretic.

A kind brother even pointed to me that the term “denying yourself” in Leviticus is different from that in Matthew 16:24
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

He argues that the Septuagint uses 2 different words in Leviticus and Matthew. For that I am thankful. The word used in Leviticus indicates “to…

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God Give Us a Grace Filled Response

A very important commentary on the Orlando shooting.

My journey to the Son

I’m currently in Anchorage, Alaska, 4 hours behind my home city of Orlando.  Orlando, a city whose only major news centers on new rides and attractions.  A vacation destination for the entire world.  And with the eyes of the world focused on our city, tragedy has breached the walls.  I woke this morning as so many did, to texts of “Are you okay?” and “Have you heard the news?”.  I was transported back to the morning of the Oklahoma City Bombing when I was awakened by a friend to the news from my home state.  This type of evil is not something you ever get used to.  This type of loss steals your breath away and freezes your soul deep inside.

I have been in ministry to the gay and ex-gay community ever since I walked away from homosexuality in 1998.  After spending 1999 in Oklahoma I moved to Orlando…

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First Fruits

blog post written by: Meleah Allard, Executive Director

I’ve been reminded several times over the past week of the story of Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve. They each brought their offering before the Lord. Cain brought an offering the Bible describes, as “fruits of the soil” which would be something like produce that he had grown himself, a product of his own labor.

Abel brought a sacrifice from the “first of his flocks,” indicating that he brought something like a lamb, which he offered as a blood sacrifice.

Why did God accept the sacrifice of Abel and not that of Cain? At first glance, it could seem unfair. Both young men brought a sacrifice after all. Both were willing to recognize God as deserving of one. They each appear sincere. We must remember that God knew the hearts of both men. There are likely issues within their hearts, not written in Scripture, that we cannot see. However, the nature of their sacrifice could provide a window into what was in their hearts.

The sacrifice of Cain was the fruit of his own labor. He had worked hard to produce this sacrifice. He began by tilling the soil, then planting the seeds, weeding and tending the garden and finally harvesting the vegetables it produced. Have you ever grown anything? I have, and I remember the pride I felt at the sight of it. Remember that the penalty for Adam’s original sin was that a crop could only be produced by the “sweat of man’s brow.” The effort of man symbolizes self-righteousness, or our own ability to make ourselves right before a Holy God.

The sacrifice of Abel, on the other hand, symbolizes humility and a recognition that he could not create anything that would make him worthy of a Holy God. Therefore, he brought something the Creator had already created (and the best of the flock at that) to offer a sacrifice of blood. He had an understanding of his dependence on God for his righteousness. This is a foreshadowing of the coming Savior whose blood will cleanse sin and provide a way to “rightness with God.”

In his jealousy (which also shows what the heart of Cain is like) he murders his brother. Now we can clearly see the heart of Cain through his behavior (Mark 7:21). This problem of pride and self-righteousness is one of the oldest in our history, yet still persists today.

Having come to know Jesus as a young girl over 40 years ago, and growing up in a very legalistic church environment as a pastor’s daughter, I have seen countless men and women live as if their good works can win them points with God. They constantly self-promote (albeit often under the guise of humility) and brag on all they have done in the name of God. Self-righteous people who are so focused on what they can produce for God often end up “murdering” others with their slanderous and hateful thoughts. Jesus himself said that if we hate our brother, we have committed murder (1 John 3:15). Most would never admit to hating, but they sure act like they hate others, especially those not living up to their self-righteous standards.

I have also had the honor of knowing men and women who demonstrated true humility. They are clear by their words and deeds that their own “good works” are nothing and are so dependent on the blood of Jesus, he is mostly what you see when you look at them. Most of the time you never know how much they have done, in his name.

Last year, I turned 50 and while my physical eyesight fails me more with each passing year, one of the greatest results of aging has been that my “spiritual sight” becomes more and more acute as I age. I can see now, that at times in my life, I would have to place myself clearly in the Cain camp, unfortunately. I would have never admitted it back then or even seen myself as self-righteous at the time, but I can see clearly now that I was. I looked down on others, seeing them as “less enlightened.” In my eyes, they were so clearly legalistic and self-righteous. I could not see the “plank in my own eye for the speck in theirs” (Matthew 7: 3-5). I fear that in years to come, yet again I will see there are still shards of self-righteousness that remain.

Lest you be fooled by the two heads of pride, let me point out that self-loathing is a form of self-righteousness. This is what I most often see in those who come to our ministry for help. They come by it honestly, as so many of them have been taught by this world that they are worthless. However, to think less of myself than the Savior thinks of me basically says, “I know better than God” or that what the world says means more than what He says. He says I’m worthy to die for, and if I think differently I’m basically saying that I’m right and He’s wrong.

That would have been the equivalent of Abel saying, “I’m not even worthy to bring you a sacrifice God, so I won’t.” How many people do not serve God in any capacity because of their disagreement with God on their worthiness? “Let me get it together God, and then I’ll bring the sacrifice,” they say. I did that…for 13 years before I started this ministry. Trust me, when I began it, much of my behavior was still a mess, but I was more aware that He is my righteousness not my right behavior…and still today, while my behavior is better, it’s not fully right (just ask my husband or closest friends) but I am ever more dependent on the righteousness that I am afforded by Jesus because I have accepted Him as my Savior and placed my faith in Him alone.

So let us follow Abel’s wonderful example but under the New Covenant established by Jesus sacrifice:

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15

fruitofSpiritAnd let us focus our lives on knowing this Jesus and allowing HIM to live through us instead of  trying to do “good works.” He is able to produce through us a crop that really matters.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Dear Homosexual America, I’m sorry | An open letter from a Christian

Our sentiments as well.

Kati

America, in light of the SCOTUS ruling yesterday legalizing gay marriage, I wrote you a letter.

Before I begin, I want to share a little bit about myself so you know exactly who it is writing this letter. My name is Kaitlin. I am a 20 year old college grad with a degree in Business. I am a social entrepreneur. I am a fighter for ethical clothing. I am a braker for birds, thrift store aficionado, travel junkie, and outdoor enthusiast. I am a twin. I am a daughter. I am a friend. I am a people lover. But even that doesn’t tell you much about me.

My core, my very identity is this: I am a sinner, saved by grace. I am the daughter of the King of kings, Lord of the nations, Creator of the earth and Lover of souls. I am fearfully and wonderfully made by God’s hands…

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Bearing with One Another

Whbill_lara_polar_bears_c-425x276at you might not know about someone struggling with homosexuality is that they probably have walked away from most everyone in their life. That is certainly my story. In order to get free from that life, I had to cut ties with everyone I knew and many were people I considered family. I had virtually no one in my life except gay people. So, walking back to Jesus didn’t just mean walking away from my partner, it meant literally walking away from everyone I knew. That was very hard and very scary. Thankfully the Lord placed me in a church with a vibrant singles group who came around me and became my new family. I am convinced it is because of how God used them that I did not return to my former life as a lesbian. As a lay counselor today, I work with people who are trying to overcome same-sex attractions (SSA) and have recommitted their lives to Christ or have come to know Him for the very first time. I see them also walk away from most of the relationships in their life, but oftentimes after some period of time, loneliness sets in and they end up back in the very thing in which they wanted to escape. It brings to mind the Scripture, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

This is where the church body can play a significant role. A few things have to happen in order for that role to be fulfilled though. One is that the church family must be a safe place where the person who is struggling feels like they can open up and share, being vulnerable and transparent. For me, that happened in my church of 10 years. When a leader in the church stood in the pulpit and shared that he struggled with pornography, I realized that I was in a safe place. People at the top were willing to be vulnerable so it was safe for me to be as well. They were willing to remove their mask, be real and I could too. The second thing that has to happen for the church to fulfill this significant role is that we have to be willing to walk the sometimes long and arduous journey with people, as they venture out of this old life and identity and into their new one. Healing is a process, not an event and many times people fall and must be helped up, sometimes again and again for a season. Often this requires the patience of Job, but we must persevere, recognizing that their sin is no greater than our own pride, gluttony, gossip or perfectionism. Grace, grace and more grace is a main ingredient in the recipe of wholeness.

We must also realize that a same-sex relationship will not fix their problem. So often I’ve heard well-meaning Christians say, “You just need to find a good man (or a good woman) and you’ll be just fine!” I actually recommend and many times require that my clients not be involved in any romantic relationships while they are in the healing process. We cannot be healthy for another person until we are healthy ourselves. When we are full to the brim with the love of Jesus and have something to pour out on another is when we are ready to pursue those kinds of relationships….if ever. Remember that Paul himself said that it was better to be single and singularly focused on Christ.

Jesus did not say, “Be ye therefore heterosexual as I am heterosexual.” He said, “Be ye therefore holy as I am holy.” Holiness is a key ingredient to wholeness not heterosexuality.

What else do they need? They need friendships and not a lot of them but meaningful ones. They need someone to invite them over to eat lunch on Sunday so that they do not have to return home and eat alone. They need someone to call and invite them to the movies. They need for you as a family to include them in your family life, not allowing the enemy to use loneliness to draw them back into that old life. We have a great role to play as the church body in helping people, if we are just willing to take those extra steps. I remember so many times on Sunday mornings begging God, “Please Lord, don’t make me go home and eat alone today. Please let someone ask me over to eat lunch.” Yet time and again, that did not happen. I would get angry with God, not understanding why he allowed this again and again. He had promised to meet all my needs, and I believed he would. I now see that he allowed me to go through that season of loneliness so I could relate, in a credible way, to those I serve today. I truly can empathize with the single and lonely person. I don’t just have compassion. I have empathy. So please think about who is sitting next to you in church on Sunday morning or Wednesday night. Is there someone you need to invite to lunch or dinner? Is there a single person that you can invite over on a Friday night to enjoy game night with your family?

So what are you willing to do to follow the command to “bear with one another?” Sometimes it means we have to climb in the icy-cold water with another “bear” in order to help them out. We can be sure though that we are following our Lord’s will. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13. We’re not talking here about laying down your life…just inviting someone who is lonely to lunch. We can all do that.

Building Spiritual Muscle

You know, I’m in bad shape physically. Jesus has really been on me about it lately too, so I’ve relented and am surrendering; eating better, exercising more, getting more sleep, having better balance and boundaries in my life. In the past, HE seemed more concerned with my spiritual muscles than my physical ones but things have definitely shifted. Probably because I’m turning 50 next month, and if I don’t make some changes I won’t last much longer.

I know He loves me and only wants what’s best for me though, and I trust Him. But I haven’t always, and it’s still a struggle to trust Him in some things…

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. For some of you who know me well, it will not be a big surprise. Sharing this will require me to be even more public-speakingtransparent and vulnerable than I already have to be in my ministry work. Are you OK with that? I need to make sure because I find today that many people within the Christian community are not comfortable with real and authentic, especially from their leaders. There seems to be an expectation that as leaders we are supposed to have it all together. Yet I am just like everyone else…human; with fears, feelings and failures. If you don’t already know how fallible I am, you are about to find out! So here’s the secret…even though a good deal of my job requires me to speak publicly, I really hate public speaking. And every time God brings me the opportunity to do so, I resist, at least initially. I’ve been leading this ministry for a decade and yet each and every time I am asked to speak, my immediate response is to look for excuses not to do it, even when I KNOW God is the one bringing the opportunity. The reason I HATE it (and I realize that is a strong word but it is appropriate here) is because it illuminates every insecurity that is housed inside of me…how I look, how I talk, how I sound, how intelligent I sound or don’t sound…how I look. Can anyone empathize? So, when you’re standing in front of a bunch of people and sharing or teaching, being appropriately vulnerable, you really do risk rejection at a much higher level than in anything else that I can think of. And that’s a hard thing, because at the core we all just desperately need to feel loved and accepted for who we really are. For those who deal with same-sex attractions or have in the past, most often you can find a deep root of rejection. I am no exception.

I share all of that to set up an experience with God that I had many years ago….8 to be specific. I had spoken a handful of times; but those were mostly small intimate gatherings, when my Pastor asked me to speak at the local Baptist Bible College. He was willing to give me his entire chapel service time…almost an hour which was unheard of that a pastor would give up his entire pulpit time and then to a woman! Not common in my denomination anyway. As you can imagine, it was a big deal for me. I had spent a good amount of time in preparation. For weeks, I’d written and practiced, largely my testimony, but also about the new ministry I had founded in my church, this ministry. My boss in ministry would rib me regularly because just to share my testimony I would have like 20 pages of notes. Now, I’d made the font very large so I could read it but it was still a lot of pages! He on the other hand typically speaks with no notes. He is a “wing it” kind of speaker. My system was however the only way I could get in front of people and speak.

The morning of the event, I was in the shower when I heard the voice of the Lord…as clearly as I have ever heard it… without it being an audible voice. I knew though without a shadow of doubt that it was Him. I would have NEVER said this thing to myself. What I heard, standing in the dimly lit shower with steam all around me was, “No notes.” I said in my mind, “Excuse me?” sure that I’d misheard but just as sure that I had not. Again, “No notes.”  Immediately I replied, out loud, “What do you mean no notes! That is insane!!” and I argued with God as I finished in the shower, as I was dressing, while I was putting on makeup and fixing my hair. I was having a Jacob kind of wrestling match and yet I knew I would have to surrender my will to His. I had walked with him long enough and had enough personal experiences, especially with this speaking stuff to know that I could either do it on my own and be pretty pitiful or do it his way and be powerful. Angrily I conceded, “OK fine. I give up. Have it your way. But this is going to be a disaster!”

The entire ride over I was sick to my stomach, wringing my hands. I could barely speak to those who greeted me. I’m sure my pastor and other supporters were concerned because I was visibly shaken. I must tell you though that from the moment the pastor said my name, and I stood up and walked toward that stage, I have never felt that level of peace in my life–before or since for that matter. I also have never spoken that powerfully–before or since. I felt it. No one had to tell me, but they did. I knew I had their undivided attention from start to finish. And at the end, in this chapel that was filled, they lined up out the door to shake my hand. It was an amazing experience.

What was even more amazing is that a few weeks later, I was walking down the hall at my church and a staff member at that Bible college stopped me and said, “They still talk about you out at the school. They call you the ‘woman preacher’.” I was shocked. He went on to say that the thing he heard over and over again was how I stood and spoke so powerfully, non-stop for almost an hour, and didn’t miss a beat AND did not have a single note! They were amazed that I had no notes.

I learned a powerful lesson that day. I knew God was challenging me that day so that he could build my faith, to grow some spiritual backbone in me, strengthen my trust in him. I would need that for what was to come and boy have I ever needed that in this work…fortitude that is. But he did something very unexpected, He also built the faith and increased the trust in each and every future preacher in that chapel that day. That only happened because I said yes.

So what I’d like to ask you now is this…what do you need to say “Yes” to so that God can build spiritual muscle in not only you but also in someone else? It won’t be easy. Even after all that it’s still so hard for me to stand in front of others and speak. But I do. I say “Yes” every time God opens a door because I know I can trust Him. You can too!

Falling Away

My heart is heavy as I write this blog. I’ve just learned that another friend, someone I believed to be my “sister in the Lord”, has turned her back, not only on  the theology that homosexual behavior is a sin, but also on her core beliefs that Jesus is God and the Scriptures can be trusted. For her, God is Dead!

When I read her most recent writing all I could say was WOW! How can someone fall that far away from what they not only believed but lived for so many years? She spent her life in ministry giving and serving based on those beliefs. Was God ever truly alive for her?

Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe the serving took precedence over the BEING a child of God and being in an active, exciting relationship with Him. I don’t know the details, and I don’t want to assume but I wonder…

Is this what the Scriptures are talking about when they say, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons…” 1 Timothy 4:1

And Jesus own words, “And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24: 10-13

I don’t use these Scriptures lightly or often, as I think we all “fall away” sometimes. I did for 10 years– fall away– from ages 17-27. But in this case, my friend, clearly states that she no longer believes in God but in goddesses. The whole 10 years I lived in rebellion as a “prodigal” daughter, I never let go of my core beliefs. I still believed the Bible was true but chose to ignore it…for a season. In a way that actually feels worse. I’m so grateful for His grace!!

Another thing I wonder about is something else she said. She said that during her child’s long term illness, her church family, who had said they loved her and were faithful at the start, really fa15231861_siled her in the end. They did not walk the long, painful journey of healing that she needed them to walk with her and her family. This disturbs me. No, that is not strong enough. This seriously ticks me off! I see this far too often. Even though Paul clearly teaches over and over in his letters that we are to lay down our lives for one another; we are to let our love be an example of God’s love; we are to sacrifice and give to serve one another, especially in times of great need, a lot of what I see in churches and in the Christian community at large is people serving themselves. If I’m honest with myself, I’d have to say I’ve been guilty of it and more often than I’d like to admit.

Just look at Facebook. As a Social Media Manager in my second job, I’m on social media daily. Most of my friends and even friends of friends are Christians. What I see mostly on everyone’s Facebook (with few exceptions) are pictures of vacations, the places and foods they eat and the new things they buy or want to buy. Piling it up, storing up our treasure on this earth, exactly what Jesus told us NOT to do. Now I’m preaching! I do feel passionately about this, because I have seen more than one person fall away, not so much because of disappointment with God but because of disappointment with the church! That’s not some foreign entity folks, that’s us! There is great disappointment to the point of despair sometimes when their supposed “Christian family” does not show up when they need them most. I guess it could make one think God is that way too. We are His representatives after all aren’t we?

Recently, I experienced this up close and personal. I was “deathly” ill with chronic bronchitis, and on the couch for two solid weeks. Sadly, not one friend called to see how I was doing. Not one person sent a card to encourage me. Not one person brought a meal to my house to help out. Oh sure, a few emailed or “facebooked” and even fewer offered to do something but no one actually stepped out and stepped up to help. I won’t lie. It was hurtful. But with God’s help, I worked through it, forgave and moved on. Of course, I’ve been on this journey with God for 40 years, so I’m fairly skilled at overcoming disappointment but what about young believers or people new to the faith? Sometimes I think, it’s no wonder people give up and go back.

Not long after this personal experience with disappointment, I had a single, female friend who was moving. We tried to organize a helping party but how many people do you think showed up? Her small family (three people) and my husband and I were the only ones. She attends a very large church and is always one of the first to show up when others need help. Unfortunately, I was not much help as I was still recovering from being sick for almost a month. But it really irked me that no one showed up for her! She deserved to have the family of God show up for her. I think Jesus was hurt for her too.

God has used all of these things (and a few others that happened earlier in the year) to motivate and inspire me. In August, New Beginnings Support, is launching a new mini-ministry as a part of our overall ministry plan.

It’s called Life Support. This is one of the newest initiatives of New Beginning Support Ministry. Born out of real need, Life Support provides real life services and desires to meet the practical, everyday needs of our participants.

The family of God meeting practical needs during times of:

Illness
Moving
Job Change
Death in the family
Single Parenting
Widows/Widowers

Using our individual gifts, talents and resources:

Helping with moving
Driving to appointments
Providing meals when there is illnesschickenD 086
Visiting when there is hospitalization
Cleaning, running errands, mowing lawns and doing yard work for single parents and those who are recovering from illness or surgery
Various other tasks as needed or requested

Dear brothers, what’s the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren’t proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone? If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, and you say to him, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty,” and then don’t give him clothes or food, what good does that do? So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all–it is dead and useless. James 2:14-17

If you have a need or know someone who deals with homosexuality or is a family member and are in need in the Western North Carolina area, won’t you please get in touch and let us reach out with the love of Jesus?

Email barbara@newbeginningsupport.org with the details

And in your own little tribe, your family of God, will you be more aware of the needs around you and be more willing to sacrifice to help your brothers and sisters? After all these are people we are spending eternity with and you can’t take anything from this planet with you anyway. Instead of storing up what is destroyed by moth and mold on this planet, store up riches for the New Earth!

It truly is more blessed to give than to receive. Try it a little more and you’ll see. I know I will. I feel like I failed my friend. Even though she lives far away, I wish I had done more, reached out more. I won’t let that happen again. By the grace of God, I’ll be there when there is a sister or brother in need, or I’ll die trying to make sure someone else is.

Blessings!

A New Beginning

New Beginning Support Ministry provides support in 4 areas:

Counseling Support
Group Support
Life Support
Community Support

This blog is a new resource for our Community Support area. We have created it to be an encouragement for others like us, who have or are struggling with homosexuality. We know that it takes having a continual revelation of the grace of God to overcome as well as a lot of support from family and friends.

It is also written for our Christian Family, sometimes called “the body” or “the church” so that we can grow in our understanding of this very complex and controversial issue that has become the social issue of our day. We also believe that growing in our understanding to a deeper level, increases our ability for compassion. In that fruitful soil, our grace can grow and be offered to those who are struggling, trying to overcome or even have no desire to change.

The name of our blog may sound odd…Homo-grace-ialty. But think about it. One definition of “homo” is same. So we are saying “Same Grace”; “iality” implies action or a way of being. We want grace giving to characterize our lives. We who consider ourselves Overcomers, and there are many of us in the world, know the grace that has been extended to us. It is our deep desire to offer that same grace. It is our mission to help others be able to offer a deeper grace as well.

For it is the kindness of God that leads people to repentance. Romans 2:4

To get us started on the right foot, we would like to share with you the story of someone who has utilized the services of our ministry. Nothing illustrates a point or creates compassion like a story. You can argue with politics; you can argue with doctrine and theology, but you cannot argue with someone’s personal testimony.  Meet Jerry and listen with your heart….

I was born into a Christian home, and I was in church before I could even talk. I was very blessed, but around the age of 7 I knew I was a different. I didn’t have any idea what that meant, so I lived my elementary school days not paying much attention to it. I know I had a much easier childhood than many kids. That doesn’t mean there weren’t unhealthy things going on though, and it doesn’t diminish the pain I felt or experienced. There were many factors that made me distance myself, as much as possible, from men; both physically and emotionally. This in turn made me cling unhealthily to females. Things didn’t get much better after elementary school when I transferred. I remember being picked on all the time because I was different. I was more feminine and liked girly things, and wasn’t into sports. I was not doing well socially or academically. Being called everything from “sissy, faggot, and queer,” I was told I was just like a girl. This was a lot on a kid who had so much anxiety about his home life. I was being called these names without even associating myself to being a homosexual or even really knowing what it meant. I was so miserable at that school that my parents took me out and transferred me to a Christian school before I finished my 5th grade year. I began to attend the youth group at the associated Baptist Church, and at age 13, I accepted Jesus into my life.

I began to grow in the Lord and learn about Him. After a while, I felt accepted and that I had a new home. I wasn’t picked on, had good friendships with people of both genders and was doing better academically. I also attended the youth group and was very involved in missions and worship and other things and was constantly growing in the Lord and experiencing His work in my life. But I always had a huge secret; one that confused and scared me. Around the age of 12, I began to have a fantasy life about guys instead of girls (like all my friends were). I didn’t chose for it to happen, this was just where my mind would go. I would occasionally think about girls but was always drawn back to guys. I told myself it was a phase and that there was no way I was really gay. I made a pact with myself that I would deal with it myself and no one would ever know about it. I lived my middle school and high school years struggling with secrets and confusion.

It was always something at the forefront of my mind and caused a lot of depression and anxiety because I was wondering why it was happening to me. Being young and not having much spiritual maturity, all I thought I should do was pray that it would just go away. Again, I vowed never to tell anyone. Amazingly, I grew so much in the Lord, despite all of this. Then in the 10th grade I transferred to public high school. I had grown more comfortable with myself and didn’t let the issue of my sexuality bother me as much. Eventually, being exposed to this whole new world of public school, I began to use drugs and alcohol as a way to fit in with my group of guy friends and for once did feel like I fit in. I did anything to take a break from feeling insecure about my sexuality and my weight. I tried everything from popping pain pills to alcohol. I changed a great deal my junior year of high school.

God did however deliver me from drug use through some tough love, like a good father does. I got clean, graduated high school and attended a few semesters of college in which I went through a lot of mental health battles but God was so faithful. I overcame all of them by His great love. Then in December of 2011, I shared my secret for the first time. I remember the first person I told was my former youth pastor’s wife. This news was no surprise to her since I never really talked about girls, except for Mariah Carey, and the latest drama going on in my “girlfriend’s” lives. She was always a huge influence in my life and helped me through so many other things. At the same time I was turning 18 and with years of repressing how I felt, I made the mistake of telling almost everyone I was close to. At this point I had been going to gay bars almost every single weekend, and began to immerse myself into the gay community of Asheville. I became very open about my sexuality.

All along, I knew I was running away from God and had no peace about my newfound “freedom.” I began to pursue guys and that left me with nothing but a lowered self-esteem, hurt feelings, and even needier. I had begun this journey, searching for something that would satisfy all these years of loneliness and ease the pain, meanwhile believing the lies “that I could never change” or “be worthy of true love”. I spent more and more time thinking about how I never measured up to and looked like other men. I had left my church and now became depressed because the gay community did not fulfill my expectations. I was struggling between the two worlds. All I wanted was to be loved. I finally realized that this life wouldn’t really ever satisfy me. Then one day I was talking to my close guy friend from church, who I have always viewed as a leader in my life. I told him I needed help and wondered if there was someone that could help with this specific issue.

I still to this day do not what he searched, but he sent me a link to WNC Truth ministry, which is now New Beginnings Support. I emailed the counselor, Meleah soon thereafter. This was a totally Spirit-led action, because I had never heard of an SSA ministry in my entire life and here I was pouring out my issues to a stranger through email. I began counseling and going to the support group. I was so excited that I had found something that would specifically help me with this issue and for people that struggled the same way and understood. I began to see myself differently and began to see my identity in Christ and not as a gay man. I began to really envision the purpose that God has for me. One of the greatest moments of my life was when I shared my testimony at an event, where Meleah asked me to speak. After I shared my testimony, a Father (who had a son dealing with homosexuality) came up to me, put his hands on my shoulders and said, “Those things, that those boys said to you, are not true. I’m sorry for everything those boys did to hurt you. What they said to you is not true! God wants you to know that you are His son and you are His boy.” I immediately felt God’s presence overwhelm me like I never have in my life.

I began to see the qualities in me that I used to think were flaws as things that God made to be put to work for His kingdom, for example my ability to connect with women is going to make me a great husband someday. I began getting more involved in New Beginnings ministry, and I never imagined I would be sharing anything about myself in front of people like I am today. God has done more than I could ever ask or think of, just like He promised. I still deal with same sex attraction, but it no longer has power over me like it used to and it is not where I find my identity. The freedom I have found in Jesus has been like being released from prison. The family and love offered outside of God is a counterfeit. What God and His family offer is real and lasting.