Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 has been an Amazing Year!

2013 has been an amazing year!

I have continued to be bless abundantly with opportunities to reach out, encourage, and support others who are making this same journey. I have also received more support, friendship, and real love than ever before. 


The group I has started (originally in my living room) has grown to over 320 men and women from 63 countries who participate via video-conferences. We have formed a non-profit corporation with bylaws and a Board of Directors and have begun the process of becoming a 501c3. Our 15 Small Groups are doing well and I'm blessed to know so many wonderful men and women who have been willing to volunteer to help lead groups and minister to others.

Our nightly prayer group has been meeting every night at 10:30pm for about six months now and my dad has even started joining us. That has been really AWESOME!  We are also starting a Morning Prayer group in January. 

While ALL Joel 2:25 meetings, video-conferences, and support services are FREE and ALWAYS WILL BE, there are many costs that incur to support the growing needs. There are also many things we would like to be able to do to provide more help if the funds were available.

IF you feel led, please consider partnering with us in prayer and if possible financial support: http://joel225.com/joel_021.htm. Also (regardless of whether you can help us), please let us know if there is anything we can be praying for YOU about.

Pax Christi and have a blessed 2014!

Jeremy

http://www.Joel225.com
Map of Joel 2:25 Participants:


Monday, November 11, 2013

Seven days of prayer/fasting for Women with Same-Sex Attraction (SSA)

In Joel 2:25 (http://www.Joel225.com), we currently have 14 small groups for guys in different languages and stages of life. We have been having men who are in other groups gather to pray while one group is meeting. (i.g. guys from the Spanish group praying for the Russian group, English group praying for the Portuguese group, Italians, German, etc.)

This past weekend, the men of Joel 2:25 began seven days of fasting and prayer / fasting for a major new group that we are starting for women. We've discussed in our men's groups that one of our roles as men is to wake up our Warrior archetype. In this case, we are dealing with major Spiritual warfare. This will be the first video-conference group of it's kind for Women with SSA. Our sisters will be embarking on a major journey with women from four countries already on board. It is important that we as men step up and fight for them on this battlefield by storming heaven with prayer and fasting over the next seven days.

Anyway, I'd like to ask you to join us in praying for the women of Joel 2:25 and for all women with SSA.

Pax Christi,
Jeremy


Thursday, November 7, 2013

NEW group for PARENT's of Teens with Same-Sex Attraction

I got another email yesterday from a 16 year old seeking help with Same-Sex Attraction (SSA). In addition to the two 15 year olds who emailed a while back, this is starting to weigh on me. All of teens who have emailed me so far have said that they're parents were aware of their SSA and willing to give their written permission for them to participate in a support group. I've sent them all the links/resources as I knew of, but had to explain we do not yet have a Joel 2:25 group for them. I think it's time I stopped stalling though on getting the Parent's group together. 

If there are any Christian Counselors or pastoral leaders who might be willing to volunteer to help lead these, I'd love to talk with them.  I'm also asking guys in our "Young Adults" Small Group (under 27yo) to volunteer to help join these video-conferences and share THEIR experiences and insights with the parents.

I am envisioning this as being separate groups for Fathers and Mothers of Sons and Daughters with SSA or other confusions. 





Pax Christi,
Jeremy
http://www.Joel225.com

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NEW Group for WOMEN with Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction (Joel225.com)

This is EXCITING NEWS!!!!!


The WOMEN of Joel have tentatively scheduled their first Small Group Video-Conference for Saturday November 16th at 2:00PM CST (20:00 GMT).

http://www.Joel225.com

 If you know a woman with SSA who would be interested, please encourage them to contact Carol at:  info@joel225.com

Here is our website with resources for Women with SSA: http://joel225.com/joel_014.htm
We will be adding a LOT more resources and information soon. :)

Pax Christi,
Jeremy

P.S.:  Here is a link for the Time Zone conversions (Event Time Announcer) for the Women's video-conference group. This covers every major city: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?p1=34&iso=20131116T22&msg=Women%20of%20Joel%202%3a25%20-%20Small%20Group%20Video-Conference&sort=1



Friday, October 11, 2013

National "Coming Out" Day

Today (October 11th) is supposedly "National Coming Out Day." I'm not sure WHO came up with that, but since some many people are talking this new holiday, I wanted to share a different message. This is from my friend Blake, who has been participating in our Joel 2:25 Young Adults Group.  Blake also has many other AWESOME videos on his YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/BlakeSweet1/videos  so I'd encourage everyone to Subscribe and check these out. They are really powerful! 




Also, here is a great article by Andy Comiskey about the trend in some Christian circles to encourage men and women with Same-Sex Attraction to embrace the false identity and the modern "Gay" label:



Andy is the creator of "Living Waters" a program that has helped many of my friends find healing and restoration. http://www.desertstream.org

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

To Change or Not to Change. Is that REALLY the question?

For those of us with Same-Sex Attraction who have chosen NOT to embrace a "Gay" identity or pursue gay "relationships" there often appears to be a great divide. This was going on long before the closing of Exodus and Alan Chamber's apologies last summer. It has also long been a source of contention with the Courage Apostolate, the Catholic equivalent and to a certain extent with JONAH, the Jewish version, StraightWay, the Muslim ministry, and Evergreen (LDS).

There are many of us who have strong convictions and emotions regarding one or the other "side." There are many others who would be somewhere in between these extremes and/or have not formed an opinion. I saw a blog post recently that referred to them as "Side A" and "Side B." 

I have found myself at different times on both sides and there have been times when I have felt strong emotions (Anger, Fear, Sadness, and Joy) at the mere mention of one or the other. I have also received strongly worded emails (10+ pages) from people who very upset with me for mentioning one or the other. 

I doubt I will be able to adequately address the "arguments" in one blog post, but I'd like to examine the underlying emotional charges. I'll try my best to do this objectively, but if you see any biases or errors in my analysis, please let me know. ;)

Past Wounds and Shame from Others
While society's overall attitudes toward Homosexuality and people who experience Same-Sex Attraction has changed rapidly over the last ten years, most of us have at one point in our lives still experienced significant external pressure to "change" and to become "100% heterosexual." This is especially the case for most of us who grew up in Conservative Christian homes where homosexual inclinations themselves (not just immoral homosexual acts) were seen by many churches as "evidence of a reprobate mind." 

I had this experience when I was 14 years old. I had already been struggling with my gay thoughts and feelings for over two years and praying incessantly that God would "change me" when I came home one day to discover that my parents had found and read my journal. 

The next few months were hell on earth for me. My parent's view of the development of SSA (fed by the rhetoric of the preachers they listened to, like John Hagee) was that FIRST, a person sells their soul to the devil and THEN, they eventually develop SSA (Same-Sex Attraction). They could not reconcile how a Christian who REALLY believed could experience any SSA. It was beyond their comprehension at the time. 

Since I KNEW that I had already been pouring my heart out to God and pleading with him for the previous TWO years to cure me of homosexuality, I found especially hurtful that they believed the reason I had SSA was that I obviously didn't really mean it when I had been baptized and professed Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. 

For our family, some relief came when my parents finally talked to a real therapist who was training in Reparative Therapy. It was only then that they began to realize that my Same-Sex Attraction might have some other causes other than just ME being EVIL. 

By that point though, it was too little, too late. I had completely shut down emotionally and was unable and unwillingly to even attempt to discuss the issue with them or anyone else. I managed to convince them that it had all just been "a phase" and we all agreed to not bring up the topic again. It would 19 years before I mentioned the subject to them again.

When I was in my early twenties, I often tried to join "Gay Churches" but always soon realized they had truncated the Gospel significantly in order to make it fit their desires. This grew tiring and I would always try to find my way back to a REAL church. 

The conservative Christian Churches I tried, were usually a little more tolerant than my parents had been, but they also still couldn't seem to understand how my SSA (and by that point Sexual Addiction) had not been completely CURED by my answering the altar call. When I tried to be authentic and explain where I was STILL struggling, it often caught them by surprise and they seem to insist that the answer was more prayer ("and this time REALLY mean it."). 

My own experience is very different from many of my friends who were part of Exodus and/or other Ex-Gay Ministries. Most of them never embraced the Gay identity and many of them never acted out on their homosexual inclinations. They experienced positive nurturing support and love from Church-led ministries which at least understood that they did not CHOOSE to have Same-Sex Attraction and that they were not "EVIL" or "Reprobate" for having experienced SSA.  I probably would have had this experience myself IF I had talked with an actual Ex-Gay ministry instead of trying to find understanding and support from Christians who had never experienced Same-Sex Attraction. 

I believe the attitudes of most Christians have changed over the years, but there are still many who would not really understand how SSA is different from Opposite-Sex Attraction (OSA) and  cannot be controlled or channeled in the same ways. It is VERY different from the OSA struggles described in the book Every Man's Battle (a book that I would now recommend for OSA friends, but discourage my SSA friends from reading). 

For a long time, my own gut reaction to any Church-led or faith-focused ministry addressing SSA was that they were saying what my parents had said that I "Chose to be this way" and/or that I would be 100% straight IF ONLY I had really meant it when I prayed. I realize in retrospect that most faith-based programs are NOT saying this and most of them never have said anything of the sort. 

Reactions to "Reorientation Therapy," "Reparative Therapy" or "Sexual Orientation Change Efforts": I have often received visceral emotional reactions from my Christian SSA friends whenever I have mentioned anything regarding "Orientation Change" or even emotional healing programs like "Journey into Manhood"In almost all cases, the individuals with the biggest emotional charges have NEVER actually experienced any form of Reparative Therapy. The reactions vary slightly, but the biggest emotional charge tends to be regarding the expectation of "change." It seems likely that their reactions are based on the same emotional wounding that I received (although from a different perspective). One friend of mine said it best in this sentence: "How dare you suggest that I need therapy?!"  - In essence, most of them feel that the mention of Reparative Therapy or any form of Psychological assistance for reducing Same-Sex Attraction is implying that they are Mentally Ill.

They seem to think that the purpose of "Reparative Therapy" or other emotional healing and "change programs" are to FIX THEM or make them 100% straight. While there are some people who have experienced this complete change through therapy and/or prayer, it is usually not the case that we experience 100% change instantaneously. 

This is the case for every other area of life as well. Many times a drug addict will answer an Altar Call at a church and surrender their lives to Christ. This is where the healing BEGINS, but it is not necessarily where it ENDS. As Christ works in their heart and transformation begins to take place, they may also be able to benefit from Rehab or working through a 12-step program. That does not diminish Christ's healing power. He could choose to instantly heal them if he wanted to, but often he has benefits for us and lessens to teach us through our obedience and gradual healing process. 

With regard to Reparative Therapy and Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) there is a lot of debate about whether it really "works." Almost everyone thinks though that for it to "work" it must be an instantaneously 100% change. That is a ridiculous and impossible standard to judge anything. For me, I can say that I have benefited TREMENDOUSLY from Reparative Therapy and everyone I know who has actually tried it would say the same. Even those I know who gave up and went back into gay relationships, say it was "helpful and positive experience." 

The Pro-Gay groups often try to argue that Reparative Therapy and other forms of Reorientation are "harmful" because they do not produce 100% change instantaneously. If you look closely at any of their claims, ALL of them are based on the idea that people will be "disappointed" and therefore "depressed" if they continue to experience some aspects of homosexual inclinations. They conclude that it is therefore better to encourage someone to embrace a "Gay" identity and avoid getting real help. That is such a ridiculous thing to say. If we used the same logic, we would say that Insulin should be banned and Diabetes is "Healthy and Natural." - After all, Insulin has not been proven to permanently CURE diabetes with one shot - therefore it MUST be "harmful."

My Same-Sex Attraction has been significantly reduced over a short period of time. It is now no longer a major struggle in my life. I am grateful for that. I have studied every aspect of Reparative Therapy and there is no possible way that any aspect of it could ever be "harmful." Nonetheless, it is a human scientific endeavor and does not rise to the level of Infallibility that the Christian faith relies on. The Christian Faith and in fact all monotheistic religions have always acknoweledged that homosexual "relationships" are harmful to the emotional well being and spiritual lives of everyone involved. This truth is independent of the effectiveness of any particular human effort to reduce or "change" homosexuality. Diabetes was harmful to the human body even before Insulin was discovered as a treatment in 1921. 

It is possible that Reparative Therapy could be replaced eventually with other therapies even more effective, just as Insulin might eventually be replaced by something else. These are tools that God has enabled us to use to enhance our lives, but they are not the focal point of the Christian life. We do not have to choose one "side" or the other. We simply need to focus on Christ, follow his will, and be open to the gifts he sends our way (which for ME, happened to include Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, Reparative Therapy, Joel 2:25, and Journey into Manhood), but most importantly prayer, the sacraments, and spiritual healing through Christ. 

Pax Christi,
Jeremy


Monday, October 7, 2013

Joel 2:25 International, support & resources for overcoming Same-Sex Attraction

It's been a while since, I've posted here. 
I've been really busy this past year with ministry work. I started a small group at my house two years ago. Our group is called "Joel 2:25"  http://www.Joel225.com 



Ex-Gay, Gay, ExGay, Same-Sex Attraction, SSA Recovery

About a year ago we expanded and started having others join our meetings through video-conference from other countries. Now, we have 12 bi-weekly "Small Groups" and 215 guys from 55 countries participating in one form or another each month. The group is still primarily Catholic, but we have also had several protestants participating and most recently several Muslims and Jews. 

The reason I'm writing to ask for your prayers. We are in the process of completing the formal structure of the ministry. I've never done anything like that before, so it's a little daunting, but we are moving along pretty well so far. 

We are doing what we can though. We have small groups in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Italian and Polish right now. We are working on starting groups in Arabic, German and French as well as a group for Women. I also really feel led to start a group to help teens with SSA and their families. I'll post more about that idea in my next post. It will be different from our current format.

Anyway, sorry for rambling. Please keep us in your prayers. Also, if you know anyone who could benefit, please let them know about our group.

Pax Christi,
Jeremy

Friday, October 4, 2013

Don's Journey into Manhood

Today I'd like to share my friend Don's story. His journey was a little different from mine in that he was married with a family before he began this journey. He is an awesome man of God and now leads one our Small Groups in Joel 2:25 (http://www.Joel225.com )

-------------------------------------
In late 2006 I had grown utterly disillusioned with my life.  I had been fighting my same sex attraction through adolescence and my college years and for 25 years of marriage.  I was losing the fight.  I had a deep faith but I had concluded that the Love of God was somehow not meant for me.  I had prayed unceasingly for 40 years for release from this burden without any impact.  The worst part was the loneliness.  I lacked the kind of male friendships that I longed for and found straight men to be so unemotional and disconnected that they seemed incapable of real intimacy.  My wife was emotionally distant and hurt from my general lack of pursuit of her heart and I was facing the prospect of living the rest of my life in emotional isolation.  I could not stand it anymore. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Prayers for New Jersey

Please pray for everyone in the state of New Jersey. Yesterday, their Governor Chris Christie signed into law a horrible attack on religious freedom and an attack on many programs that provide REAL help to youth with this particular struggle. As of today, it is illegal in New Jersey for a 17 year-old with unwanted same-sex attractions to receive professional counseling, even with parental consent. I cannot grasp why Governor Chris Christie still claims to be a "Republican" a "Catholic" and an "American."
His actions are direct assault on all three



Pax Christi,
Jeremy

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/chris-christie-signs-ban-on-reparative-therapy-liberty-counsel-promises-to

Back from "Beyond"

I just got back from staffing "Journey Beyond" the advanced program that builds on "Journey into Manhood" (JiM). It was REALLY AWESOME!!!!!!!!

This is my second time staffing JB - it's only offered once a year, but I got to take on a bigger role and see a lot of amazing transformations take place. We had a priest on our staff and we were able to have daily mass for the second year in a row. That was really powerful. I'd highly recommend "Journey Beyond" for anyone. I have had a few non-SSA friends go as well and they say it changed their lives as well.

Anyway, one of the per-requisites to go to "Journey Beyond" is the "Journey into Manhood" (JiM) weekend - since JB builds a lot on that experience. There are three weekends coming up:
  • September 27-29, 2013: Indiana
  • October 1-3, 2013: Israel
  • October 18-20, 2013: Texas
"Journey into Manhood" (JiM) changed my life back in 2009 and opened up a whole new world for me in terms of relating to other men and overcoming the limiting effects of SSA. "Journey Beyond" took that to the next level in 2011 and I've continued to see God working miracles in my life that began there.

Here is the link for more info: http://www.PeopleCanChange.com/jim

Pax Christi,
Jeremy

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Please pray for everyone at JONAH

Please continue to pray for everyone else at JONAH (the Jewish version of Courage) as they continue to battle for the freedom to help men and women with SSA. They are facing a frivolous lawsuit which is designed to bankrupt them. Many other SSA ministries - which are being continuously receiving subpoenas and forced to spend hundreds of thousands on legal fees to defend themselves even though they are not defendants.
This past Friday the judge refused their motion for dismissal so the Discovery phase will drag into 2014 and the legal fees will exceed $1,000,000. This includes the cost of time and travel for depositions, engaging expert witnesses, doing research, and keeping up with the barrage of both superfluous and essential requests coming from the plaintiffs.


Your financial support in any amount is deeply appreciated and can be directed to either the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund at  www.ConscienceDefense.org, or to JONAH at www.jonahweb.org. Please feel to share this letter with anyone who would be sympathetic to our cause.

Pax Christi,
Jeremy

"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your position for such a time as this?”
- Esther 4:14

Monday, June 24, 2013

Restored Hope Network lives up to its name


I went to the Restored Hope Network conference this past weekend. (http://www.restoredhopenetwork.com/)  It was really nurturing and encouraging, especially after this past week. It was really cool to meet so many of the original founders and previous leaders of Exodus (Frank Worthen, Anne Paulk, Andy Comiskey, etc.)

I got to go to dinner with their Board of Directors afterward and was really inspired by their enthusiasm for the ministry work ahead. It changed my original perception of them which had been based on a few statements that originally seemed to me to be harshly worded. I got a much more well-rounded understanding of them and found it really refreshing.
It was also really exciting to hear that they are partnering with Christopher West (http://www.christopherwest.com/) who will be helping them implement Pope John Paul II's "Theology of the Body" as well as Catholic therapist Dr. Joseph Nicolosi (http://www.josephnicolosi.com/) who pioneered many advances in Reparative Therapy.

This past week had been really rough. I wasn't surprised by Alan Chamber's statements and "apologies" but the finality of the Exodus decision hit me hard. That was followed by several emails from a former friend who is a gay activist and wanted to offer me "support."

I was crying out to God and feeling ALONE for the first time in a long time. I know that is silly. I know hundreds of guys on this same journey who have found healing and transformation through Jesus Christ and many who have benefited from Reparative Therapy, but last week I really felt isolated and cornered by the World. Anyway, this past weekend was a very refreshing time of prayer and worship. I would say this small organization has lived up to their name: they helped Restore MY Hope. ;)

Pax Christi,
Jeremy

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Trust, Open, Surrender?

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11
Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. - Luke 12:7 and Matthew 10:30
I know that we have all read opinions and political statements on Homosexuality and for almost every other issue of morality as well. For an individual Christian who experiences Same-Sex Attraction, the flood of arguments and opinions are daunting.  

I was raised Baptist, but started going to a "Gay Church" when I was in High School and off and on in my 20's. I wanted to believe what they taught about homosexuality, but knew that there were many who would disagree. 

I worried that if the traditional christian teaching was correct, than I had a challenge ahead of me. I had not yet been able to simply "Pray away the Gay" and I wasn't so sure that anyone else had either. 

I started to realized though that IF the "gay church" was correct, than that only meant that God didn't have a plan for my life at all. They provided arguments that the scriptural references regarding homosexuality were not concrete or relevant to modern understanding, but there was no evidence that this was some new kind of Vocation or that my life would have any positive meaning or purpose due to these new loopholes. (I'll write a separate post about those arguments and discuss each "side" another time)


For a while, I thought I could be truly "objective" and analyze each side's arguments from a purely academic perspective. I realized quickly though that it would take decades of rigorous study in Psychology, Theology, Hebrew, and Greek before I would even be able to make an educated guess about which "side" was right. (I'll wait to comment on Sola Scriptura another time)

There were times I aligned myself with each "side" and was welcomed warmly and joyfully. I have no doubt that everyone who is passionate about this issue (even those I disagree with) have positive intentions. I have also faced disappointment with individuals and organizations on both "sides."  No human being who has a perfect answer to make everything easy and simple. There are three very important questions though that we all choose to answer not just with Same-Sex Attraction, but with everything else in our lives:

  1. Do I TRUST that God has a detailed plan and purpose for my life?
  2. Am I OPEN to hearing what that is, even if it's not what I currently want it be?
  3. Am I willing to SURRENDER my own will, identity, and plans to accept His will for me?
Conscious or not, we choose to answer these every single day. For most of my life, I answered "NO!" Nowadays, I choose to answer "Yes" more frequently, but I still have a ways to go. These are very tough questions. If you think these are easy, then read them again.  

If however, you might be willing to answer "Yes" to all three (even for just one day), please pray with me right now:
Jesus,
I surrender to you today with all my heart and soul. Please come into my heart in a deeper way. I say, “Yes” to you today. I open all the secret places of my heart to you and say, “Come on in.” Jesus, you are the Lord of my whole life. I believe in you and receive you as my Lord and Savior. I hold nothing back.
Holy Spirit, bring me to a deeper conversion to the person of Jesus Christ. I surrender all to you: my will, my plans for the future, my relationships, my work, successes and failures. I release it and let it go because I trust that YOU have plans for me - plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future.
I surrender my understanding of how things ‘ought’ to be, my choices and my will. I surrender to you the promises I have kept and the promises I have failed to keep. I surrender my weaknesses and strengths to you. I surrender my emotions, my fears, my insecurities, my sexuality. I especially surrender _________ (Here mention other areas of surrender as the Holy Spirit reveals them to you.) Lord, I surrender my whole life to you, the past, the present, and the future. In sickness and in health, in life and in death, I belong to you.
Amen
As you know from the rest of my blog, I prayed this prayer after having lived in gay relationships for several years. At the time, I thought that all I wanted was for God to restore my relationship with Tim, my live-in partner who had left. It was very difficult for me to let go and trust God with the outcome of All three questions. I was most afraid that it might lead me... well... to exactly the path I am on today. The path hasn't been easy, but it has brought real happiness and fulfillment to my life. I have been happier the last three years than ever before in my life and it's gets even better every day. 

Pax Christi,
Jeremy
http://www.Joel225.org
Jeremy@Joel225.org

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Equally Confusing



I had to apologize to a few of my close friends earlier for losing my temper and making some uncharitable comments in response to their decisions to post the HRC's logo this week on their Facebook profiles in support of redefining Marriage

I explained that my disapproval was NOT about politics. I DO respect their variety of political views and of course the rights of everyone to express those views however they choose.

 
My own calling and mission the last two years has included affirming and encouraging healing for wounded men and women and leading them to the Lord (regardless of orientation). I host four ongoing groups of men in my living room. One of the groups is not related to homosexuality and the other three are for guys in different stages of recovery from homosexuality. I spend an hour or two every night on the phone with guys from all over and about 5 or 6 hours every Sunday. I get really tired sometimes of having to talk about that subject. It has been WORTH it though to be able to play a small part in seeing others heal.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

The KEYS


If you have Catholic friends on Facebook, you may have seen this image posted on Thursday after Pope Benedict XVI retired and the Office of St. Peter, the Apostle became Vacant (Sede Vacate). The most unique part of this emblem is the Umbrella which symbolizes the temporary vacancy. The Keys are part of all Papal emblems. 

For now though, I'd like to talk about the Christ's beautiful gift of the "Keys" and what these represent for our faith. When something is first mentioned in the Bible, the meaning of it remains the same throughout the rest of the Bible. The "Keys" are a beautiful demonstration of this:
"In that day I will call my servant Eli′akim the son of Hilki′ah, and I will clothe him with your robe and will commit your authority to his hand; I will place on his shoulder the KEY to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place" - Isaiah 22:21-23
"And I tell you, you are Peter[Kepha], and on this rock[Kepha] I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the KEYS of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” - Matthew 16:18-19
"Who has the KEY of David, who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens." - Revelation 3:7

Friday, February 15, 2013

Question on Salvation

I received this question through an Anonymous comment to my post: "What Does Ex-Gay or Change Mean to Me" 
"What do you think about Alan Chambers saying Reparative Therapy doesn't work, that 99.9% of 'ex-gays' still have SSA, and that gays can go to heaven just by believing in Jesus?"
I responded to the first part here in my last post: "Alan's Statement on Reparative Therapy" 
I'd like to begin responding to the second part of the question. I believe Alan's comments are a bit out of context here. BEFORE I get to his comment, I'd like to ask you to join me in examining the beauty and magnificence of God's infinite Love.
 
WHO is God and What do we know about Him.  
It is clear that he desires to be known by us and to have an intimate relationship with us. Some of this is evident just by natural reason along. God has left his fingerprints all over everything.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Q&A on Alan's Statement about Reparative Therapy

I received this question from an Anonymous comment to my last post: "What Does Ex-Gay or Change Mean to Me":  
"What do you think about Alan Chambers saying Reparative Therapy doesn't work, that 99.9% of 'ex-gays' still have SSA, and that gays can go to heaven just by believing in Jesus?"
I appreciate your questions. I have corresponded with Alan via email about his statements a few times.  For brevity’s sake, I will respond to the first question here and the second question in a second post (See Part 2: Question on Salvation). First I’d like to start out with the areas where I agree with Alan. My faith in Christ and my moral convictions are independent of whether or not my SSA (Same-Sex Attraction) is ever “cured.”

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Most Encouraging and Unexpected Shout-Out

Ok, I fear this will sound prideful, but this was actually a very humbling experience for me this morning. This caught me off guard this morning and was totally unexpected. It made me cry at the moment and then I went numb to it, but I just listened to it again on the Podcast and started crying again. It's definitely the most encouraging thing anyone has ever said to me.

My friend John is the pastor of this new church "Normandy." I went to his service after Mass this morning and he preached on the "Parable of the Sower" (Mark 4:1-20). At the end he pointed to me and referenced my SSA ministry work and the Joel 2:25 M.A.N.S. group I started a while back. He said:
“Jeremy, you are a 30, 60, 100 fold guy. Bro, it is unbelievable. What you have done is unbelievable bro. You are more fruitful than I could ever hope to believe in. I am so proud of you. I can’t even stand it. You are good man. You are a godly man. Bro, I am so proud of you. I’d get into a foxhole with you any day of the week.” 
Here is a link to the audio: http://www.normandychurch.com/sermons/ (February 10th Parable of the Sower - 54:00 mark)

Right before that he had played an audio recording of a story of a simple man in Australia that led tons of people to Christ through street evangelism, but never knew until two weeks before his death that any of them had received his message. That story starts at the 44:00 mark. At the 54:00 mark John talked about wanting to reap a harvest of "30, 60, 100 fold." Then he pointed to me and his comments (54:25 - ) are what blew me away. The entire sermon is awesome as well as all of his other sermons (not just this part that I'm narcissistically pointing out) ;)

Pax Christi,
Jeremy

Friday, February 8, 2013

What does "Ex-Gay" or "Change" mean to ME?

These two words seem to evoke deep emotion in nearly everyone I know. They have also been "trigger words" for me in the past (on BOTH sides). They can be used in very polarizing ways and many have chosen to do away with the words altogether. I selected the name for this blog over two years ago. I have never really like the term, but I figured the phrase "Ex-Gay" was was the only search term that was widely known. Almost everyone I know in Exodus, Courage, NARTH, etc - hates that term. I myself would also like to clarify that I am not "Ex" anything. I am just MORE myself than ever before.

I'll let the organizations speak for themselves. Everyone seems to think that they claimed to have a "Cure" simply because they offer help to people like myself. I'd highly encourage you to check out what they have to say for themselves: 

"The Five Goals of Courage" - Courage Apostolate
"What If I Don't Change?" - Dr. Joseph Nicolosi

In my case, I spent 12 years with the "Gay" label and I no longer feel that the "Gay" label is accurate. I still experience some SSA (Same-Sex Attraction), but much less than before. Even if I had not experienced that healing, I would still say that Homosexuality itself is a suppression of the healthy relational nature that all human beings are designed for. I realize many will be angry and stop reading here. A few years ago, I would have been enraged at hearing anyone say what I just wrote. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

“He did not study God; he was dazzled by him.”


If you have not yet seen Les Misérables, what are you waiting for?


I haven't seen a live performance of the musical so I can't compare it directly, but I love the book! Victor Hugo's epic is filled with demonstrations of Christ's transformational grace and this new film carried it well. I saw it a few weeks ago and started weeping at the end. It's absolutely amazing :)

This is one of my favorite paragraphs in the book (after Jean Valjean is dragged in my by the police and the Bishop gives him MORE than he originally stole)
“'Do not forget, do not ever forget, that you have promised me to use the money to make yourself an honest man.'Valjean, who did not recall having made any promise, was silent. The bishop had spoken the words slowly and deliberately. He concluded with a solemn emphasis:

'Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to what is evil but to what is good. I have bought your soul to save it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God.'”

 Here is that full scene from the 1998 movie with Liam Neeson and Peter Vaughan




I'm not half the man that Jean Valjean became, but I've experienced the transformational power of  Christ's grace. He has transformed my life in the same radical way. I can also relate to having someone follow you around singing ♫♫"Men like you can never change!" ♫♫  ;)

Pax Christi,
Jeremy


P.S.: Here are some other great quotes from the book: 
"The pupil dilates in darkness and in the end finds light, just as the soul dilates in misfortune and in the end finds God.”  

“...But listen, there will be more joy in heaven over the tears of a repentant sinner than over the white robes of a hundred just men.” 

“Not seeing people permits us to imagine them with every perfection.” 


“For there are many great deeds done in the small struggles of life.”  

“God knows better than we do what we need.” 

“He who despairs is wrong.” 

“We need those who pray constantly to compensate for those who do not pray at all.”  

“There are things stronger than the strongest man...”

“...Man lives by affirmation even more than he does by bread.” 

“The delight we inspire in others has this enchanting peculiarity that, far from being diminished like every other reflection, it returns to us more radiant than ever.” 

“To destroy abuses is not enough; Habits must also be changed. The windmill has gone, but the wind is still there." - old man G--- to Monseigneur Bienvenu Myriel

― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Come Back to God"

I just ran across this awesome video and wanted to share it. It's a message from the Patriarch of Alexandria (Egypt) leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church titled: "Come back to God." It's an awesome message and really interesting from an Arab-Christian perspective.

 

I found it on (4/25) when I was looking for a video about the Feast Day of St. Mark, the evangelist, apostle, and author of the shortest Gospel. As you may already know, the patriarch of Alexandria (Pope Shenouda III) is considered the "successor of St. Mark" just as the bishop of Rome (Pope Benedict XVI) is the "successor of St. Peter."  St. Mark brought Christianity to Alexandria in 48 A.D. and was martyred there in 68 A.D.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Healing Homosexuality in 1958

I found an obscure essay referenced as a footnote in the book The Road Less Traveled. It led to a book called How People Change by Allen Wheelis which was published in 1969 and included this essay which was published first in 1958. I wasn't expecting the book to mention anything about SSA (Same-Sex Attraction) or homosexuality specifically, but I was reading it on the plane just now and found this. Wow! This explains a lot!  

"If a homosexual man should set out to become heterosexual, among all that is obscure, it is clear he should discontinue homosexual relations, however tempted he may be to continue.
He would be well advised in reaching for such a goal to anticipate that success, if it be achieved at all, will require a long time, years not months, that the effort will be painful and humiliating, that he will discover profound currents of feeling which oppose the behavior he now requires of himself, that emerging obstacles will each one seem insuperable yet each must be thought through, that further insight will be constantly required to inform and sustain his behavior, that sometimes insight will precede and illumine action, and sometimes blind dogged action must come first.
There is no short cut, no safe-conduct, no easier way. He must proceed alone, on nerve. He is not entitled to much hope - just that he has a chance. He may take some comfort in knowing that NO ONE CAN BE SURE AT THE OUTSET THAT HE WILL FAIL, and that it is his own measurable resources of heart and mind which will have most bearing on the eventual outcome.

This is a self-transcendent process of changed that originates in one's heart and expands outward, always within the purview and direction of a knowing consciousness, begins with a vision of freedom, with an 'I want to become...', with a sense of the potentiality.

Sometimes this process of change may proceed with an increasing momentum and finality to solid completion.


That person gains most from therapy, and gains it most quickly, who has the heart and will to go it alone in the event that therapy does not help; whereas he who clings to therapy as a drowning man to a ship's timber is likely to burden therapy with a weight it can't support and so take himself and therapy down together." 
- Allen Wheelis, 1958

Note: There are a few areas where I would Correct his statement. The journey is anything but "humiliating." Release of SHAME has been the central focus of every successful journey out of homosexuality that I have witnessed. Also, the statement "he is not entitled to success" is somewhat inaccurate. I guess it depends on the definition of "success." For me, it isn't necessarily the elimination of all Same-Sex Attraction, but the replacement of it with my healthy relationships and a much stronger sense of my own God-given masculinity and secure sense of manhood.  

Pax Christi,

Jeremy 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Prayer Request: Sharing my Testimony

"Do not refrain from speaking at the crucial time, and do not hide your wisdom." - Sirach 4:23 

"They have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony" - Revelation 12:11

I have a quick prayer request. I will be recording a short video about the healing that has occurred in my life over the last three years since I left the gay lifestyle.  The video will be part of the Voices of Change website which is run by my friends at P.A.T.H. (Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality).


For me, this is about reaching Souls and proclaiming the Truth. It goes way beyond current politics (the principalities of this present darkness). I've been fasting and praying that I can speak to hearts with Love and grace. I just finished praying a Rosary and will start recording in a few minutes.

I have only recorded one other webcam video: http://youtu.be/w1_pBLuBEgw This one was part of a TV interview (via Skype) with a TV station on the East Coast. I had to get up at 5:00am and clean my room before they called me on Skype at 6:00am. (If I'd overslept, that'd been really embarrassing - LOL) ;)

Anyway, this time I can prepare more and tailor my own message. I wrote out some of my own story in these two posts: "Surrendering to Christ at Disney's Gay Pride" and "Reply to my old gay bible study group." I don't want it to be just MY message though. This is God's story. I want to be open to let the Holy Spirit say what he wants to say.

Btw, my friend Blake has made several really awesome videos. If you haven't already watched his, check them out here:  http://myexgayjourney.blogspot.com/2013/01/real-love-vs-gay-feelings.html

Pax Christi,
Jeremy

P.S.: One other prayer request. I got asked to speak to over 100 High School students in Confirmation at a parish on February 17th. I've never given a talk in public about this issue and certainly not to High School students. I can use some prayers about what to say and how to convey the Truth with Faith, Hope, and Love.

Friday, January 18, 2013

"Let the Lower Lights be Burning"

"my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge." - Hosea 4:6

In 1871, a ship was approaching the harbor of Cleveland. The captain, noticing only one light as they drew near — that from the lighthouse —asked the pilot if he was quite sure that it was Cleveland harbor, as other lights should have been burning to illuminate the rocks along the harbor mouth. The pilot replied that he was quite sure it was Cleveland, whereupon the captain inquired:

'Where are the low­er lights to mark the shore?'

'Gone out, sir.'

'Can you make the har­bor?'

'We must, or we will per­ish, sir!'


And with a strong hand and a brave heart, the old pi­lot turned the wheel. But alas, in the dark­ness he missed the channel, and with a crash upon the rocks the boat was shiv­ered, and ma­ny lives were lost in a wat­ery grave.
 
As D.L. Moody related the news of this maritime disaster to his congregation, he made this appeal:
"The Mas­ter will take care of the great light-house: let us keep the low­er lights burn­ing!"
Among Moody’s hearers that evening was Mr. Philip P. Bliss, the well-known hymn writer, and the striking story at once suggested to him one of his most popular hymns: "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning."

This song is really powerful for me because so many of my friends and I wrecked our lives on the rocks (just like that ship) in part because the "Lower Lights" that should have been burning were forcefully extinguished in the name of "Tolerance." 

As I started to describe in my (1/8/2013) post "St. Joseph, the Navy Seal," the ministry and evangelism efforts that I've felt God has led me to over the past year has been all about frantically lighting "the lower lights." 


"You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father." - Matthew 5:14-16