For the next 3 days (4/3-4/5), you can get a free copy of Learning to Walk in Freedom for Kindle.
Please share this with anyone who might benefit.
It is for freedom. Thank You, Jesus.
For the next 3 days (4/3-4/5), you can get a free copy of Learning to Walk in Freedom for Kindle.
Please share this with anyone who might benefit.
It is for freedom. Thank You, Jesus.
I finished my 17th book for the #EmptyShelf challenge.
Please Don’t Say You Need Me: Biblical Answers for Codependency by Jan Silvious
Please Don’t Say You Need Me was mentioned in the back of a little booklet entitled Emotional Dependency, another resource I was reviewing for the ministry. Since emotional dependency and codependency are common struggle in the people I work with, I figured this book would be worth reviewing.
I’m so glad I read it! This was another book that I dog-eared like crazy. It’s truly a powerhouse of wisdom. It covers the roots and symptoms of codependency, as well as how codependency manifests itself in different types of relationships, including friendship, marriage, parent-child, and even in the workplace. It also has a chapter on how to maintain healthy relationships once you have recognized these patterns in yourself. The author does a wonderful job of weaving biblical truth into this struggle and healing from it.
I finished my 15th book for the #EmptyShelf challenge.
Destiny Bridge by Frank Worthen
This book is the story of Frank Worthen, written in his own words. Frank Worthen is considered one of the founders of the “ex-gay” movement, after living as a gay man for 25 years. This was another book that I read over the course of a weekend.
It’s compelling, disheartening, shocking, and encouraging. Don’t let the back cover of the book dissuade you. I didn’t find it a particularly inviting synopsis of what was going to be described in the book. In fact, if it weren’t for the recommendation of a friend, I might not have read it. But I’m so glad I did!
It’s certainly a compelling story of how a young man was led by his spiritual authority directly into sin. More importantly, it’s a story of a loving, persistent God who spared no expense in calling Frank Worthen back to Himself. It’s a story of a man who, out of his small steps of obedience, impacted thousands of lives in the name of Jesus Christ.
What a great book. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the topic of same-sex attraction.
This is my 4th time at Ridgecrest Christian Conference Center.
Exodus International rotated the location for its annual Freedom conferences. Every 3rd year, it was held on the east coast, here at Ridgecrest.
In 2005, I came here to attend my 2nd Exodus conference (my 1st was in California in 2004 – I attended alone). This was my first conference as a leader, as I had been the director of Alive in Christ almost a year at this point. Roy and several others from the ministry attended. Because Jerry Falwell spoke that year, there was tons of media attention, and I spoke on television for the 1st time about my same-sex attraction.
I don’t remember much about the interview, except they showed a close-up of my wedding ring, and I was wearing a purple shirt.
We returned in 2008, this time with a 11-month old Bear in tow (my older son’s nickname). I had the privilege of sharing my testimony from the main stage and teaching a workshop entitled “Learning to Walk in Freedom” (sound familiar?). I think I also participated in the forums on youth ministry.
Back again in 2011, Bear was almost 4, and we now had JJ tagging along at 1 1/2. We stopped at my dad’s on the way. It was there I found out that apart from a miraculous touch from God’s own hand, my father would die from cancer.
I again had the opportunity to speak, telling the women this time about “Learning to Walk in Freedom.” It was an amazing conference. I felt as if Exodus had truly been refined by fire, and the gold was truly shining through (many others agreed).
In 2012, I flew out to Minnesota by myself, having been invited to participate in the conference on various ways. It was the best Exodus conference I had been a part of, even more so than 2011.
At the 2013 Exodus conference (which I did not attend), it was announced that Exodus would close.
Recently, Alive in Christ joined a new network, Hope for Wholeness. I spoke at their conference this past fall, and now here I am, at Ridgecrest once again, to speak and participate in the Hope Rising conference presented by Hope for Wholeness.
We arrived yesterday, a day early, because the drive was long, and I wanted to get everyone settled. I am 5 1/2 months pregnant, and didn’t want to be too tired for the events.
I’m used to arriving when the buzz of activity is already in full swing. I find myself here with mixed emotion.
So much history in these hills.
As I process all the emotions that are represented here at Ridgecrest, I choose to focus on the excitement I feel at what lies ahead. I’m thrilled with the connections I’ve made in the Hope for Wholeness network, and am humbled to be part of this new work.
God is still holy. His Word still reigns and is to be obeyed.
God is still loving and good and just and faithful.
God is still able.
In April of 2012, I had the opportunity to share my story of same-sex attraction with the crew of the TV show, Pure Passion. It aired this past Saturday, July 6th, and you can watch it here*:
Perhaps you found my site through watching this show. If so, welcome!
I mention in the interview a book entitled Learning to Walk in Freedom that we studied at Alive in Christ. This book will be available by the end of summer. Check back for updates!
Here are some other articles that might be helpful to you:
Do I Still Struggle With Same-Sex Attraction?
Living a Healthily Transparent Life
Feelings: Dictator or Indicator?
“Talitha koum!” Expelling the Laughers
And my most popular blog post of all time:
You Have Not Because You Ask Not
*I just discovered the network aired the wrong episode Saturday. Well, welcome anyway! People are finding it somehow 🙂
Is anyone else grieved over the Chick-Fil-A hub-bub?
I’m not going to tell you what I think about it all so you can stop hoping I will 🙂 I’m not going to tell you if I would have participated in chowing down on some CFA if I had time on Wednesday or if I lived less than an hour away from one.
I don’t think I’ve ever eaten at CFA. The one time I tried to near my dad’s house, it was Sunday and I forgot they were closed.
What I will say is I think we are trying to simplify what is a complex issue. It’s not just about free speech. It’s not just about Cathy wanting to deny someone a “right.” It’s not just about how “of course” Jesus would have never participated in a boycott and what would happen if we took all this time and effort and volunteered at a food pantry instead of eating a chicken sandwich?
I read these challenging and quite relevant verses earlier this week:
“After that, he taught daily in the Temple, but the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders of the people began planning how to kill him. But they could think of nothing, because all the people hung on every word he said.” Luke 19:47-48
People keep posting on their Facebook and Twitter and whatever means they can about what Jesus would do.
Do we really know Jesus well enough to say that?
When was the last time we hung on Jesus’ every word?
I can’t say I feel as those described in Luke 19 feel when I read the Gospels, which I’ve been working through for several months. I want to. I want to be that desperate for a greater knowledge of my Savior that I hang on His every word.
Have you read through the Gospels lately?
During Jesus’ temptation in the desert, Satan tells Jesus to feed Himself by turning stones into bread (Matthew 4). “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
The words of Jesus invite me to go deeper, to take my faith to new levels, to know Jesus and all He was and is and all He experienced.
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11 (NIV1984)
If I believe that Jesus’ words are the words of life (John 6:68), that He is the One who sets me free (John 8:36), and that I am to be like Him (Philippians 2), then I, like His early followers, need to be hanging on His every word.
As we ponder prominent issues in our world today, let us truly study and consider the words of Jesus. Let us not claim to know definitively how He would react to certain situations. Let us strive to simply know Him and the fullness of all He has for us.
Friday, I shared the first half of my story. I’m sharing the second half as the Monday Morning Meditation.
I had just become a Christian. In one sense, I felt hope, but at the same time, the labels were still haunting me. Even though at the time I could not voice what was going on, I continued to spiral out of control with my eating and relationships. I was so desperate for love that I entered into a relationship with an 18 year old woman with a drug problem (I was 24 at the time). After 3 months, this woman (having been raised in a Christian home) said to me, “Listen – the Bible says you must either be hot or cold – one or the other, but not both. You can’t be a Christian and be gay.” And with that, she ended our relationship.
I threw up my arms saying, “Fine, God! I don’t want to live like this. Please take this away from me.” In many ways, He did. My attraction to women greatly lessened, but the circumstances of my life that led me in the direction of lesbianism had not changed. I felt unsure, but desperate for God.
I didn’t know that support groups existed when I was struggling. I opened up to my Christian friends about my struggle and asked for accountability. The labels were still haunting me. I found a Christian counselor who helped me to deal with my same-sex attraction, as well as my eating disorder, depression and self-injury. Romans 12:2 (NLT) says, “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” The labels served as a constant reminder that I truly needed my entire thought life to be transformed. It wasn’t that I had moments of feeling worthless and unlovable; in the core of my being, I was sure it was true. My counselor helped me to recognize these faulty names I had allowed to attach to me and showed me how to make them line up with what God’s Word has to say about me (2 Corinthians 10:5).
My counselor also helped me to see that I had attached all sorts of labels and names to God, most of them not true or accurate: unreachable, unloving, distant, unconcerned with my life and struggles, nit-picky, only interested in my failures, punitive, impatient, and constantly angry.
So I wrestled with God. In all honesty, I suppose, it was more like I wrestled and He waited patiently for me to realize that He is who He says He is and He will do what He has said He will do. In the Gospel of John, chapter 6, Jesus gave the disciples a particularly difficult command. Rather than trusting Jesus, quite a few of the disciples decided to stop following Him. When Jesus asked the Twelve if they would leave too, Peter responded, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God.” That’s how I felt. In the midst of all the questions and doubts, I already knew that I had tasted and seen that the Lord is indeed good.
A few months after surrendering my sexuality to God, I met a man through the campus ministry we both attended. Roy & I continued to be friends for 5 months, at which time we began dating. It wasn’t always an easy relationship. The grip the names had on me was loosening – but it was very slow and painful.
When we first became friends, I was drawn to his strong faith, his free spirit and love for life. I can see that my lack of physical attraction to men in general was due in part to my fear of men and the lies my mother had instilled in me. As I learned more about Roy, as I grew to trust him, and as I recognized that he wouldn’t hurt me, my natural physical attraction was allowed to surface without fear.
Roy & I have been married for 9.5 years and have two beautiful sons. Marriage is not a cure for homosexuality, or even a guarantee of happiness, but simply another part of God’s healing process in my life. I thank God that I came to a point where in my heart of hearts, I felt I had no choice but to embrace Christ and all that He required of me. But what I got in return for my obedience and hard work is an amazing godly man who loves me, unconditionally, like no woman ever did.
I also have allowed God to give me new names. Rather than feeling unlovable at my core, I know that my Father calls me beloved, cherished, in fact – His favorite. Rather than being ashamed of who I am and who I was, God calls me precious, beautiful, redeemed – He has born my shame. He calls me worth knowing, worth loving and worth creating. I am mighty in Him, delightful, created in my Father’s image and strong when I am weak. And in those moments when I feel abandoned, I remember there is nowhere I can go to flee from God’s presence, and when I feel rejected, I know I will never have to feel the rejection that my Savior felt as He hung from that cross. And my mother was right: I have been rescued from hell – not only eternally, but today, God has given me abundant life and a true freedom I never thought possible.
Isaiah 62 says “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. Nations will see your vindication, all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow. will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah,your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married.”
What names have you allowed to speak death to you? Do you feel stuck & helpless today as you try shed false labels?
If you are feeling hopeless, I just want to again point you to Romans 8:24 and this time, include verse 25: “Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
Today, I choose to embrace my new names, letting go of the labels I wore for so many years. They no longer fit, as God is making me a new creation. I choose to trust God in the process; He has yet to let me down.
I’m at the Exodus Freedom Conference. The theme this year is “Made for More.” As I write this, we’re not even 24 hours in, and I’m already amazed at all God is doing.
On Wednesday afternoon, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Laura Yuen for Minnesota Public Radio.
I am asked frequently about repression. It seems to be a favorite question for those trying to understand why someone who experiences same-sex attraction would make a daily choice not to act on those feelings.
I think Ethan Martin explained it so succinctly in his Wednesday night testimony (not an exact quote): “Jesus gave up His sexuality for me. He could have been married by age 33, but instead He was dying on a cross.”
This is a theme that has continued to come up at the conference, though I gave my interview prior to the conference start. Sacrifice. Pursuing Jesus above all else. Surrender. Laying down everything for Jesus.
Too often, we focus on what we have to give up and sacrifice to follow Jesus. What about all that we gain?
When I am asked about repression, I try to turn the question around. Jesus gave up everything for me. God spared no expense to restore relationship with me. The things I want to hold on to pale in comparison to what Jesus did and accomplished while hanging from that cross.
It is a privilege to follow Jesus. An absolute honor. Rather than focus on the things I may have had to release to Jesus in order to follow Him, I choose to focus on all the things I’ve gained. Unconditional love, real peace, pure joy, abundant life, and true freedom.
Last week, I mentioned this Freedom Friday would be about owning your choices. I am postponing the writing of that until next week. Thanks for understanding!
“He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”Psalm 91:4
“The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.” Psalm 116:6 (NIV1984)
I tried to protect myself by hiding. Hiding my feelings, my fears, my struggles and insecurities. This would eventually backfire, as I’m an external processor and everything I tried to keep in would burst forth like a beach ball held under water.
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7
I continued to try to self-protect while following Jesus. I thought, “I can’t tell anyone about same-sex attraction, the fact that I self-injure, or that I hate myself on a regular basis. I’ll project the image that I have it all together so no one questions me.” This facade is not something that I could maintain healthily for lots of reasons, the bottom line being that God didn’t want me to protect or trust in myself.
The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.” Psalm 91:15 (NLT)
How have you self-protected? Maybe more importantly, why?
Stop and think about your fears. What would happen if you chose to allow God into all areas of your life?
“He is my loving ally and my fortress,
My tower of safety, my deliverer.
He stands before me as a shield and I take refuge in Him.” Psalm 144:2
Is my life healthily transparent?
This question popped into my mind this week. I had listened to a leadership teaching on finding the balance in being healthily vulnerable and transparent, and it brought to mind how much I have changed.
If you had met me 13 years ago, by the end of our first few months of friendship (and possibly the first few minutes), I would have likely shared what a challenging life I had, all of my current struggles and all the things I thought I had overcome. This would have included intimate details of trials, abuses against me, the many therapists I saw, and tons of “woe is me” moments.
Within a few months of becoming a Christian, I became much more guarded, to the point of hiding. I lived in terror that people in the church would think I wasn’t a real believer based on the things I thought and struggled with.
Recalling all this made me ask the question: how do we go about finding a healthy balance of transparency and privacy?
1. Know Your Own Worth.
As believers, our worth is defined by the cross. It’s not defined by anything we’ve accomplished, but rather, by what Jesus accomplished.
Sometimes we hold things too tightly to ourselves because we are afraid. Afraid of being “found out” as a fraud (as in my story about my resurfacing struggle with same-sex attraction in 2005). Afraid of being rejected. Afraid…..of the unknown, as I discuss in this blog post.
Some of these fears are certainly warranted. The world is full of imperfect people who may respond imperfectly to whatever you share. But when your worth is defined by the cross and who God says you are as His adopted child, it allows us to respond in a healthy and godly way to any real or perceived rejection or “brush-off”.
Other times, we hold things too loosely. When I became a Christian, I visited the Christian group at the college I was attending and was invited to Bible study. The Bible study leader invited me to lunch beforehand, to get to know me better. Oh, boy, was she in for a surprise! I told her all my business and then some! In fact, I shared so much that she asked one of the other group leaders who knew me better, “Is Brenna always that open?”
I did this because I was so sure she would reject me for my sordid past that I figured I might as well get it over with first thing. Her response? “OK! Bible study is at 5 PM on Tuesdays. Can’t wait to see you there!”
As you can see, oversharing and undersharing can be two sides of the same coin and are often rooted in the same fears. Knowing our worth needs to be the foundation of who we are and how we live. It helps us to have wisdom and discernment in the choices we make about sharing life with others.
2. Know the Worth of Others
Often times, we talk about “normal people” and put those people on a pedestal. We think that “normal people” wouldn’t understand our struggles, or will judge us.
No one is normal; “normal people” only exist in our imagination. As I heard someone once say, normal is a setting on the dryer. Everyone has something that they’d rather others not know. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. The same blood that was spilled for you was spilled for all those “normal people”.
Another thing to consider is how you react to others sharing. If you are asking people to accept you “as is” without judgment, are you willing to do the same?
3. Strive for Balance
We will make mistakes as we try to find the middle ground in healthy transparency. There are some questions we can ask ourselves as we try to be balanced.
If you tend toward sharing too much of yourself too soon, ask yourself: has this person earned the right to this information? If you just met them, the answer is likely no. Trust is built with time, and the more intimate details of your life should be shared with those who have proved themselves to be trustworthy.
If you tend toward sharing too little, ask: am I holding this information back due to fear? Is what I’m feeling the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but I’m not responding due to my own insecurities?
I now try to live with healthy transparency. This is my life, and these are my stories. I can choose to share them, or choose not to. I try to live with a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and an openness to sharing parts of my life and journey if that might be helpful to someone.
Are you living your life with healthy transparency today?