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The Experience of a Lifetime!

Bob & McKraeThe Experience of a Lifetime!

By McKrae Game

Conferences have always played an important role in my introduction and growth into Christianity.

I remember my very first conference, 25 years ago. This past February 24, was  that anniversary. It was a Friday through Sunday Amway conference, called Freedom Conference. Sunday was a church service. It was intimidating, exhilarating, inspiring, and certainly drawing. Friday and Saturday, they were getting us all pumped up about dreaming and growing our Amway businesses. Then it got serious really quick. Saturday evening, around nine o’clock, Brigg Heart, the head of the organization came out on stage. “I just got word that our planes are in the air. We are getting ready to cross enemy airspace (the Desert Storm invasion). If you are a Christian and want to join us in prayer, come now. We are going to join together and pray that the Hand of God goes before our troops, protects them, and gives them victory.”

This experience was life changing! In an instant, God came down on me like a flood! I started crying uncontrollably! My friends didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what was going on! God was doing a work! He was pressing into me to the point that I could not refuse. He was introducing Himself to me in such a strong, overwhelming way that it was really undeniable.

The next day, Sunday morning’s church service, the tens of thousands had cleared out. Now, it was a more relatable crowd of about three thousand. Story after story was shared about God’s amazing love, His drawing, and interventions. Seeing these faces in praise and worship, I thought to myself, “These people have what I’ve been searching for.” Still then, I did not yet know exactly what it was. I’d been raised in church my whole young life, but I’d never asked Jesus into my heart. Up till then, my life seemed to repeatedly go from the mundane to crisis. This was now something completely different! The gospel was presented and I went for it. I was the first up to the stage. I never really thought it through. God had so primed me, it was as if we were doing it together. Still to this day, I believe He pulled my chair out for me and walked with me to the front. He was there. But now, He is here, with me always.

I cannot explain to you how much this experience impacted my life. Still to this day, I cry every time I write or speak of this experience. Yes, even as I wrote this.

It didn’t end there, though; this was just the start of my journey with Christian conferences. Next up was Promise Keepers.

Two years later, 1993, I was on a bus with a group of men from my church, headed to Boulder, Colorado. Some men had gone the year before; they wanted us to experience what they had. A few on the bus knew of my past, but it wasn’t a public thing for me at the time.

I can’t tell you what it was like being there together with thousands of other men, about forty thousand in all. This time, instead of dreaming of being rich and growing a business, we were celebrating Jesus. From all across the country, all types of backgrounds, different colors and denominations, collectively lifting our hands, our hearts, our voices to praise our Lord and King—Jesus Christ. Going to lunch together, having college kids and thousands of charcoal grills cooking some of the best grilled chicken I’ve ever eaten. Sitting on the grass, hanging out, and just enjoying being with one another.

Life started happening, good things and bad. I continued going to Promise Keepers conferences. Eventually I met Julie; we dated and married. We started trying to have children, really trying. She was charting her cycle, going to the doctor, eventually starting hormone therapy. Nothing was happening! We were going crazy! We were both a mess! I was a mess! A long story—I got back involved in gay porn and ended up having a one-time sexual fall with a man. Julie had caught me with the porn, and forgiven me, and was loving me through it. How though, could she forgive the adultery?!

She wasn’t surprised, and agreed, when I told her that I needed to get back involved in counseling. It was there that I learned about a regional Exodus conference, in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I knew in that moment that I needed to be there. God had always met me at Christian conferences in the past. Julie still didn’t know of my fall and I was terrified.

Both scared, we drove the five and a half hours to Virginia. We didn’t know what we were getting into. What type of people would be there? I asked Julie if her stomach was turning flips like mine was, “Yes!” she replied. We knew no one there.

When we arrived, we were greeted with very warm and normal faces. We instantly felt at ease, knowing we were in the right place. There were not thousands, about one hundred fifty in all. We put our things away in our cozy cinder-blocked room, with two twin beds, linoleum tiled floor, and a shared bathroom with the next room. The room had not been decorated since its construction in assumedly 1950. This was NOT a hotel room like we were used to. I’d never been to jail, but this was the closest I’d ever wanted to come to it. We went to meal time, the food thankfully, was very good. But the praise and worship? The testimonies and teachings? Like nothing I’d EVER experienced! These people knew me! This wasn’t Amway, this wasn’t Promise Keepers. This wasn’t my church. We ALL could relate to one another. We were there because we struggled with or had a past in same-sex attraction and homosexuality, or were someone who had a family member caught up in homosexuality and/or the struggle.

This alone, changed the atmosphere. There was none of this—“What would these people think if they knew my struggle?” There was a relaxed atmosphere of being okay with not being okay. I cannot express to you how that felt.

God met me in such a powerful way that long weekend. My wife still didn’t know of my fall. I was counseled by a leader at the event to wait and tell her when we got home. I was pretty scared, but through it all, God spoke to me. It was at this event that I heard Him say that this was the ministry He had called me to.

BonfireIt was also at this conference that I learned about the Exodus national conference in Seattle, Washington. I knew then that we would be going, it was just a matter of working out the finances. I asked my mom and my church for help. There again, the same experience, but larger. I was hooked! I never missed another Exodus conference. I spoke at the last one. When hearing of our new network, people’s main concerns to me were, would the conferences continue? I understood their concern. These conferences had become a lifeblood to each of us.

It’s the one time a year when you can fellowship with people that truly “get” you. You can be yourself and not worry what anyone thinks. You can collectively worship unashamed; your struggle, your inclinations, your failures are understood by everyone around you.

Your opportunity to attend a life-changing conference is approaching quickly. It’s not what we do, though. Sure, we work very hard on the details, so that everything is perfect for you. We understand that it is a sacrifice of cost and time, and we also understand the apprehensions of coming to an event like this for the first time. But, once you make it through the doors, that all goes away. In an instant, you know you’re in the right place. You’re in an “elite fellowship that gets you.” This was how my wife phrased it, when I tried to explain to her how much the fellowship at the conferences meant to me.

This is way more than a conference. You’ve never been to anything like this! This is not some serious, boring, rigorous conference. This is actually a lot of fun! Yes, it can be overwhelming. God’s power, His pressing, His drawing, will be there in such a way that you may have not experienced before. There will be testimonies, teachings, classes, conversations, prayer times, that touch you in such a profound way that you won’t be able to hold back the tears. But there will equally be such fun times around the camp fire, conversations around the couches in the lobby, and meal times with new friends that you don’t want to leave. You’ll not want to go back to life as it was.

You won’t have to, because you will have been changed. The old you is gone. The new you now has a hope that you did not have before: for yourself, for your family member, for your sanity. 

You’re accepted. You’re loved. You’re changed.

These stories and much more are in my book, The Transparent Life

These conferences laid a foundation of who I was to become. They aided in awakening the man I have become, the man I’ve learned to enjoy that has accomplished so much. Your journey awaits you at the HFW Conference!

DO NOT MISS THIS LIFE-CHANGING EVENT!

Jesus Above All Register 

The God Ask

McKrae AnniversaryThe God Ask

By McKrae Game

As I’m writing this, we are in the last few days of getting ready to travel to Fort Myers, for our very first Hope Rising conference in Fort Myer’s, FL.

We’re wanting to take this one day conference around the country. We’re excited to have just found out that we received a grant from a local organization to help offset some of the costs to bringing Hope Rising to our hometown, Spartanburg, SC. Our goal is to bring Hope Rising’s educational and encouraging message to individuals and families around the country. Hope Rising is just one of the many things we have on our “God-ask” list.

Recently I sent out a financial appeal via social media and email, due to being unable to pay salaries and rent. I said in the announcement, “Many of you DO support us on a regular or semi-regular basis. But the reality is that a few times a year our coffers are empty, and this is one of those times.” I received a book in the mail—The God Ask—by a ministry partner with a check for $200 and an encouraging note. The book is for mission organizations and individuals who are tasked with raising their own support. This gentleman knows what it’s like, having to raise his own support for his ministry. It centers on being fully funded, focusing on “the God ask.” As I’m reading the book, I realize that we have a LARGE job ahead of us.

In a cost cutting effort, we have had to remove some 400 recipients from our monthly mailing and moved them to quarterly. We’re hoping to receive their gift, to continue their monthly newsletter or at least move to e-news to stay in touch.

I’m also reminded that we ALL have our own God-asks, and God-asks are what this ministry is ALL about, and it has been since the beginning.

This is the month for anniversaries! My wife and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary, 21 years since our first kiss, and the 24th of February is my       25th year as a Christian and away from the homosexual life. It’s also this ministry’s 17th anniversary since its launch in 1999, and the same month as our first Hope Rising.

When I walked away from homosexuality, 25 years ago, I had never even heard of a former homosexual. I’d certainly never heard of Exodus. My world didn’t come crashing down when Exodus closed, as I’d like to believe, I grabbed its torch before it even hit the ground. This month, we’re featuring a blog from one of the men that I’ve quoted before. Mark has certainly come out of his shell being a part of Hope for Wholeness and I’m very proud of him for all his progress.

Please consider all of our anniversaries in this month’s giving. We’ve got a   God-ask, for sure. He’s the only One that can move upon the hearts of those we serve for change in their lives, and He’s the only One that can move upon the hearts of those who He’s already set in place to support this ministry’s work. We each have our own personal God-ask, for our lives, for our journey, and for our own finances. Our ministry’s God-ask is to help us move past the financial shortcomings; to actually have a surplus so we can help more people, hire more staff, and help those He places in our path. Help us to pray, work, and bring in the resources that God has provided.

Helping Others Walk Away From Homosexuality

Helping Others Walk Away From Homosexuality

By McKrae guys huggingGame

A few months ago, I shared that I wanted to start educating our readers better on understanding homosexuality and same-sex attractions. A big part of my ministry is encouragement to those who, like myself, continue to struggle despite their devotion to Christ and their seemingly best intentions to do right. This is the purpose for my book, The Transparent Life, where I vulnerably share that, despite struggles and failures, I fight on.

This January 27, my wife and I will celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. On February 24, I’ll be celebrating my twenty-fifth year in the Lord and twenty-fifth year out of the homosexual life I led for over three years. Yet, despite these incredible milestones, my wife is the only woman I desire and I’m okay with that—and she’s thankful for that. Next month, I will be writing about what all I’ve gone through to get to where I am today.

Throughout my Christian life, I’ve noticed that many do not seem to want to hear about ongoing struggles. I feel that many leaders and pastors are very nonchalant in how they refer to the Christian life as seeming to be easy. As if, all you have to do is follow Jesus and your problems go away. He lifts your burdens, right? All things are old, the new has come, right? And those of us who have a past in homosexuality need to just give it to God, walk away, get delivered, go to counseling, read some books, go to a conference, or all the above. And then it’ll all be in the past. It’s no big deal—just do it and you’ll see, right? This is the message that I, and many others I’ve heard from, are irritated by.

It seems like it’s not proper church etiquette to admit struggles. The reality is, our burdens don’t disappear when we follow Jesus, but they are now shared with Him. However, the old thought patterns and struggles don’t just go away. It’s not as easy as getting “delivered” and never having another problem again. There is the reality of struggle with the mind, the body, the enemy, and the world we live in every day.

I often feel alone, like The Lone Ranger. Am I the only leader sharing about having ongoing struggles with the flesh—specifically with same-sex attractions? I rarely hear others talk about their own struggles, the struggles that we ALL experience.

I get frustrated when men and women give up on their faith, or compromise their beliefs, because their struggles haven’t changed to their satisfaction. I hurt for them. I want to help them, but many have given up. What you and I can do differently is why I’m writing this article. 

Why do we continue to struggle? Why is it so hard for people to walk away from homosexuality? It’s my personal belief that it’s so hard to walk away, because this issue is taboo to talk about (for a related article, see Homosexuality: The Leprosy of Christianity). It’s taboo to admit struggles, period, much less homosexuality. People want to be normal and to fit in. Many in the church don’t make it easy, though. I and others are doing our part to be real. How about you? Are you ready to step out and allow yourself to be vulnerable so that others may be free?

Many in this type of ministry will tell of their journey, but they leave out the hardship. And worse, I rarely hear them tell the whole story of where they are today. They say, “I’ve changed,” but typically are not specific.

I think every day about the men and women who are on this journey, who are listening to us, reading what we write, and desiring what we have. What do we have? Do they think we have a struggle-free life? Do we act or talk like we have a struggle-free life? Have we become just like every other shallow man or woman who is vague about their temptations and falls? Far too often, our vagueness leads to very wrong assumptions. I don’t want to do that to people. Maybe I did that in the early part of my ministry, and if I did, I apologize.

Because I’m not vague, there are people who accuse me of being gay, all because I’m honest of where I’m at in my journey. They say, “See, it doesn’t work, listen to him…” That’s fine. I’d rather be honest than tell half-truths, leading to false assumptions. To tell half of the story is to tell a half-truth, and in my book, to tell a half-truth is to tell a lie.

The truth is—this journey isn’t easy. Regardless of your struggle, following Christ as Lord and dying to self is NOT easy. Coming out of a past of homosexuality is wrought with identity struggles, past hurts of abuse and neglect, insecurities, debilitating fears, and compulsive habits as coping mechanisms for the pain.

The reality, though, is many people have these same issues, just not related to same-gender attraction. 

We don’t make it easy for people who are attempting to walk away by keeping our struggles to ourselves. When we don’t admit to others what we came out of and what we currently deal with, we contribute to the ongoing fear of sexual issues, especially the phobia of homosexuality. Notice I didn’t use “homophobia.” I’m not saying we need to be “okay” with homosexuality. I am saying we need to be a safe person for men and women who experience same-sex attraction to be able to admit their struggles, as well as their failures. How are any of us EVER going to win this fight if we are supposed to keep it all inside?

I know many men and women who feel ashamed for simply being tempted towards homosexuality. I firmly believe that JESUS IS NOT ASHAMED OF OUR TEMPATIONS. We shouldn’t be ashamed, either! He’s not ashamed of what He has brought us out of and what He is walking us through. As in Isaiah 61:3, where He says He makes “beauty from ashes…for the display of His splendor.” What makes your struggle with pride, anger, judgmentalism, adulterous thoughts and possible actions, sexual compulsions, gluttony, blasphemy, greed, and on and on, any better? It ISN’T! But, if we would share our past, our burdens, our struggles, and help the person who experiences same-sex sexual attractions know they are not alone, they will be able to bear their burdens more easily. It will make this life doable, and we’ll hear fewer people say, “It didn’t work.” We’ll have fewer suicides, fewer people returning to homosexuality, and more people finding victory over their compulsions.

Does this sound crazy? Good. In a recent interview, Bono of U2, was asked about his belief of Jesus. He said, “Jesus was either the Son of God or He was like Charles Manson-crazy. He couldn’t have just been a good teacher and say all those things.” The gospel message is crazy to the world and to our flesh. If we’re going to live successfully, we will need to daily die to self, share each other’s burdens, and confess our sins to one another. That is the Christian life!

You may think it’s crazy, or I’m crazy, but if you love people, then you’ll stop hiding.  And if you want people to find victory, then you’ll stop treating this issue as worse than your issues. Please do not stigmatize people for having a struggle that’s different than your own! If you do, then you are rejecting someone who needs your help. Whether you’re a pastor sharing a message from the pulpit, or a regular person in the community, please share your story. We all have an opportunity to be real and share our story—our whole story. Will you join me?

A few scriptures on sharing our stories are: 1 Corinthians 10:13, Rev. 12:11, James 5:16, along with Matthew 5:14-16:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” 

“I Have Always Felt Different”

“I Have Always Felt Different” 

Understanding the Root Issues of Same-Sex Attractions

Manger2This month’s article is a follow-up on last month’s titled “Why Did You Choose This?” Contact us if you have a suggestion for a future article on helping you and others better understand this often confusing issue.

People have sought me out for answers to the “why” questions of homosexuality for over twenty years; sixteen in formal ministry. The information I’ve gathered comes from an eclectic knowledge base, including, but not limited to: the Bible, scientific research, conferences, workshops, my own personal journey, and most of all—helping other people of all ages and mentoring leaders.

As I’ve said many times, transparency is key to freedom, so I continue to share my life in order to help others become free. As I listen to people’s stories, I hear the same phrase, “I have always felt different.” Combined with that is their feeling of being all alone—of not knowing anyone else who really understands them. Many in today’s culture believe that those who experience same-sex attractions have only one option—to live homosexually.Hope for Wholeness does NOT attempt to alter people’s attractions. Rather, we are here to help people align their lives—relationally and sexually—with God’s Word. This is the beginning of true freedom.

What does aligning one’s self with Scripture look like? For many of us, it began by simply admitting to someone that we had attractions and feelings we didn’t understand. With this admission, we released the burden of our secret. And we either experienced gaining a trusted friend, or endured an even deeper hurt and rejection through our confidence being betrayed.

A big portion of our journey is discovering what it truly means to be a man or a woman. This journey is filled with both terrifying and exhilarating opportunities that challenge and mature us.

An excellent example of what it means to be a man is Joseph. He demonstrated what it took to be a man: he was a faithful follower of God, he deeply loved his wife, and worked hard as a carpenter to provide for his family. This took daily effort on Joseph’s part to demonstrate who and what a man is. This is not a concept children are born with. Rather, boys and girls develop their understanding of their gender as they watch and interact with Mom and Dad, especially their same-sex parent. They, in turn, learn from interacting with their same-sex peers, as well.

Many leaders do not wish to site the “developmental model” because not everyone fits the “mold.” I agree that we are all unique. However, I cannot ignore the overwhelming number of men and women who actually do fit the development model. A model that attempts to answer the question, “Why does a person experience homosexual attractions?”

Here is an excerpt from Dr. James Dobson’s November 22, 2006 interview with Larry King Live (CNN). Dr. Dobson, an acclaimed child psychologist and founder of Focus on the Family, often speaks on genetics and development.

KING: Do you still believe that being gay is a choice rather than a given?

DOBSON: I never did believe that. Neither do I believe it’s genetic.

KING: Then what is it?

DOBSON: I don’t blame homosexuals for being angry when people say they’ve made a choice to be gay because they don’t.

It usually comes out of very, very early childhood, and this is very controversial, but this is what I believe and many other people believe, that is has to do with an identity crisis that occurs too early to remember it, where a boy is born with an attachment to his mother and she is everything to him for about 18 months, and between 18 months and five years, he needs to detach from her and to reattach to his father.

It’s a very important developmental task and if his dad is gone or abusive or disinterested or maybe there’s just not a good fit there. What’s he going to do? He remains bonded to his mother.

KING: Is that clinically true or is that theory? 

DOBSON: No, it’s clinically true, but it’s controversial. What homosexual activists, especially, would like everybody to believe is that it is genetic, that they don’t have any choice. If it were genetic, talking about twin studies, identical twins would all have it. Identical twins, if you have homosexuality in one twin, it would be there in the other.

KING: Right.

DOBSON: So, it can’t be simply genetic. I do believe that there are temperaments that individuals are born with that make them more vulnerable and maybe more likely to move in that direction, but it usually is related to a sexual identity crisis.

There have been a number of resources I’ve drawn upon over the years to help solidify my thoughts regarding the “why?” of same-sex (sexual) attraction. I’ve heard many people defending their side of the argument, while real men and women—stuck in the middle—remain hurting and confused. Let’s stop debating and start coming alongside those in need.

Before a young man or woman decides to identify as gay, each one did the same thing we all do: they sought for meaning in their lives. They wanted to be “normal” and craved to “belong,” yet, they repeatedly ended up on-the-outside-looking-in. They see men and women together, boys talking about girls, and girls talking about boys. They want to be just like everyone else, but instead feel very “different.” This is a terribly confusing mind-set to experience—especially when one feels like they cannot openly share their feelings of being different.

Too often when people have opened up about their homosexual feelings to someone in their life, they have been ostracized or demonized. Today, young people are being swayed over to the “dark side” of liberal thinking that basically says, “Children confused in their gender should align with homosexuality as soon as possible.” Both of these reactions are incorrect, unloving, and unbiblical.

Then, what is correct, loving, and biblical? This is part of answering the “why” questions. Let me share a bit of what I’ve learned on this subject, in what’s called the developmental model.

Starting at birth, it’s a mother’s job to nurture and protect her children. However, a boy must move past this protection. He CAN’T grow and mature into a man and remain a boy. In order for a boy to start launching into manhood, he must push away from his mother. When Seth was about two, I remember my wife crying to me, “He doesn’t love me anymore! He thinks you hung the moon!” I replied, “Sweetie, he’s supposed to separate from you. Didn’t you know? I did hang the moon.”

Over the years, I’ve seen a pattern called the “kitchen-window-boy.” Mom’s little boy is scared and yet, for whatever reasons, he’s not running to Dad to embrace what Dad has to offer. Instead, the little boy remains afraid and attached to Mom. He’s also often Mom’s closest relationship, instead of her husband.

I vividly remember this occurring when I was a boy. I remember looking at my dad and not knowing what to think of him. I was really not a part of his life. I always wondered why he didn’t play with me in the creeks, or with my Legos, or whatever I was into. He was into his things and I was into mine. We lived two very separate lives. I was so envious of my sister, who always seemed to have Mom and Dad’s attention. I put my sister’s dresses on, wondering what it was like to be her. Consequently, I’d be around strong boys and fearful of them, yet very much envious.

Putting on my sister’s clothes seemed to be an unusual response to being scared and feeling isolated. I later discovered that my thoughts and feelings were actually very common among men that ended up developing same-sex attractions. We didn’t understand or connect with our dads, which led to our not identifying as “one of the boys.” Instead, we feared and typically very much envied them. These interactions in young children enforced the lie that they were “different.”

One reason many homosexuals believe they are born gay is because of interactions that occurred prior to five years old, which is earlier than most people are able to consciously remember. So, when a person says, “All I ever remember is feeling different,” then their assumption is they were born this way. This is NOT about parents causing homosexual attractions. It is how a person interprets their environment, of how they felt they measured up to everyone else, and where they fit in with their same-sex peers.

Contrary to many people’s speculations, not all people who have been sexually molested develop same-sex attractions or become gay-identified. (This topic is so important topic, it needs more attention.)

A key issue in the development of male same-sex attraction, is a lack of separating from Mom and attaching to Dad. With women, it’s somewhat more complicated. Girls are not supposed to leave mom, but rather, bond with Mom, as well as be blessed in her femininity by Dad.

Alan Medinger states in his book, Growth into Manhood, that boys who develop same-sex (sexual) attractions did not go through the phase that is commonly known as adolescence. This is the period when boys prove themselves to themselves and others, developing a sense of self. In turn, this helps them to believe they are equal to their peers.  The kitchen-window-boy is too fearful to launch out and engage in rough play, or even if he does, he still remains feeling isolated from his father and other males. A boy who “feels different” can begin to see males as more “other” than “same.” In puberty this “otherness” can become sexualized. If not appropriately dealt with, these feelings will continue into adulthood.

When a child doesn’t know that other children have insecurities, they feel “different.” When they feel different, they often isolate themselves—and often others shun them because of their supposed differentness. This isolation breeds more internalizing of their feelings, causing them to fixate on their perceived inadequacies. Many people have experienced these same patterns, without developing homosexual attractions. Instead, they might deal with hyper-masculinity, or hyper-femininity within women, where they feel they have to prove their sexuality through flirting, sexual conquests, and/or pornography. Some turn to gambling, drinking, drugs, and other forms of escape. Others seem to develop normally, but their issues are just not as obvious.

As followers of Christ, we are to continuously admit our struggles, temptations, and failures, AND surrender them to God. Ever-straight men and women are not encumbered with trying to understand their gender—this already developed naturally in their life. For those of us where this did not happen, we must do two things simultaneously: not surrender to what may feel natural—same-sex sexual attractions—while also learning to intimately trust our same-sex in healthy relationships so we can “become.”

In order for any of us to become the man or woman God created us to be, we must deny our flesh, take up our cross, and follow Him. In this way our needs WILL be satisfied, and when we are satisfied, we mature. Maturing is much more satisfying than fixating and worshiping another.

The truth is that no one chooses to have homosexual thoughts, feelings, or attractions, but each are faced with what to do with them. The important thing is—you or your son or daughter are not alone. We are here for you and your family. You have someone to talk with who understands. 

To join one of our groups, please complete our online form at www.hopeforwholeness.org > Connect > Facebook Groups. You’ll find a loving and encouraging group of men, women, and family members—of all ages and from around the world—ready and desiring to encourage and pray for and with you.

Contact McKrae

Why Did You Choose This?” Understanding Same-Sex Attractions: How Best to Respond

Why Did You Choose This?”

Understanding Same-Sex Attractions: How Best to Respond

Kid finger in earsIn last month’s article, Homosexuality: The Leprosy of Christianity, I shared my plans to  educate more on the confusing issue of homosexuality. This is the first article in this venture. If you want to help, please submit your questions and/or suggestions on the reply card.

I can remember when I “came out” to my family when I was nineteen. I didn’t use the words, “I’m gay.” I think it was more like, “I like guys more than girls.” I remember how emotional it was on both sides and the questions asked of me. I also vividly remember what led up to me finally risking sharing with my family. I was terrified.

If you’re a parent whose child has “come out” to you, you might not have had any warning. All of a sudden, you’re thrown into this world and are understandably upset. Everything was going as normal, and suddenly, it all changed. One day, out of nowhere, an incident rocked your world. Perhaps you found something on your son or daughter’s computer, they sent you a letter or an email or had a talk with you, or they made a public announcement and you found out, along with the rest of your friends and family. To say the least, you’re shocked.

“Why? Gay? That’s disgusting! Don’t you know what the Bible says? Why did you go in this direction? What will everyone think? WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS?”

Your son or daughter is upset, too. They finally got up the nerve to tell you, and now they feel assaulted by what seems like crazy questions. This is what they feared most, or worse—to be thrown out.

“CHOOSE?! I didn’t choose these feelings! I didn’t choose to have these attractions! I didn’t choose to think and feel this way! This is who I am!”

Your child may have been told that their Mom and Dad wouldn’t understand. “No one does, unless they’re gay.” The subject about “choices” is steeped in both ignorance and propaganda. Those are powerful motivating factors in my writing this article.

Typically I ask people I work with, “Why do you believe people are gay or have same-sex (sexual) attractions?” Very few have any idea. One young man started crying when I asked him this question. “I don’t know. I have just always felt this way. I’ve always felt different.”

Homosexuality—feelings, attractions, behaviors, identity—is an extremely emotional subject. People, especially young people, want to feel “normal.” They want to belong—to fit-in, be accepted, and respected. How you and I respond to them will either be helpful or harmful, so to accuse them of “choosing” sexual responses to their same gender is very UNhelpful.

Where did this word choose come from? Often, it’s what parents have heard from church, friends, or simply what makes sense to them. The assumption is that everyone has heterosexual attractions. Anything else seems a willful choice of rebellion against God and their parents.

Not only did I live as a gay man for a few years of my young life (19-22), but I also struggled with gender-identity issues from my earliest memories, and in some ways still do. It started off with struggles of not understanding my dad, as well as coveting my sister and all the attention she had. Part of this coveting was played out through my secretly and habitually dressing in my sister’s clothes from age 5-12. I wanted to be her—or at least, I wanted all the attention she received. I definitely wondered what it was like to be her.

As I entered the sixth grade, I started envying strong males to the point of fixating on them. When puberty hit, all this confusion with the same gender became sexualized. My attractions seemed fixed towards guys. At age 22, though, I walked away from homosexuality and began following Christ as Lord. However, my attractions didn’t leave. My desires for a wife and family motivated me to grow and eventually led me to start dating. I fell in love with Julie, we married, and had a family. I’m thankful and content. I’m blessed beyond measure! This did not, however, negate my experiencing same-sex (sexual) attractions.

So, when someone says people choose to have homosexual feelings, I can speak personally that this could not be further from the truth.

So, what are people supposedly choosing? Are they actually choosing the romantic and/or sexual attractions? Are they choosing to act out homosexually? These questions contain simple words, but the reality is: the answers are anything BUT simple.

Those who experience same-sex (sexual) attractions and/or feelings go through a series of occurrences, a series of thought processes, and a series of influences, which often start early in childhood. Each child develops personal perceptions regarding life—their family, friends, environment, and particularly, themselves. Their perception of themselves as a boy or girl is often the main area where they “feel different.”

Many people who experience same-sex (sexual) attractions accepted Christ into their life at an early age; yet, still end up developing sexual attractions to their same gender. A simple, realistic, and fair statement is: NO ONE chooses to have homosexual feelings. No one.

Even choosing to act out on one’s feelings doesn’t have a simple answer, because it is SO DIFFICULT to know what to do when the hormones are raging and the temptations are piling up. A person can just get tired of fighting, and many give up.

So, when someone finally risks in sharing with you their struggles, inclinations, or how they’re living, PLEASE do not shame them. Shaming is NEVER helpful.

Just as importantly, we shouldn’t have a “coming out” party and celebrate, either. Instead, we need to listen. We need to honestly examine and share about our OWN relational/sexual struggles, rather than simply focusing on theirs. Only then can we authentically encourage God’s plan over what may feel natural. Condoning what is against God’s natural order and plan is not helpful and is extremely reckless. Just glancing at these statistics is proof of that.

The 2011 CDC HIV Infection among Adolescents and Young Males shows an infection rate of 92.8% for homosexual males ages 13-19 years old and 90.8% rate for ages 20-24, with only a 3.7% to 4.2% rate of infection for heterosexual males. Condoning and encouraging homosexuality in a child’s life may be what the culture promotes, but is not what’s best. Encouraging and loving a child, family member, or friend toward God’s plan of holiness and wholeness IS what’s loving and best. Actually, YOUR living a life of holiness and wholeness is what’s going to speak louder than your words.

Reacting in rage, guilt, or shame is NOT helpful. Many of us are WAY TOO QUICK to jump on our soapbox, when what is really needed is to just listen and/or cry with someone who is hurting and confused. Our friend or family member simply needs someone who cares enough to shut-up, sit down, and listen. Their life is literally on the line.

I implore you to be patient, kind, and attentive. Listen. This IS the best chance at helping your child, family member, or friend. Pray that God softens their heart and opens their mind for His plan for their life. Offer to walk alongside them, even if you don’t personally understand.

I believe those who struggle with same-sex issues tend to have a heightened need for healthy, intimate relationships. They tend to not understand them and tend to not have them. They desperately long for them, but are equally afraid of them.

Being someone’s friend who has same-sex attractions is INCREDIBLY VALUABLE! Calling for no reason, texting to check-in, asking them out to lunch or a movie, means more than you realize. Invite them into your home with your family. Be willing to listen. Don’t get impatient. Be a friend. In the end, you will have saved someone’s life, because you will have given life. You will have shown what true love is.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16).

Thankfully we serve a patient God (2 Peter 3:9), who loves us (John 3:16), and walks with us (Leviticus 26:12). The biggest thing we need to be concerned about is whether our child, family member, or friend knows Jesus. If they truly know Him, despite failures or wayward ways, He will direct their hearts. I can promise you it won’t be an easy road or simple process, but whose life is? Let’s choose true love and friendship over inspecting someone’s life. It’s NOT about having to win an argument.

In the end, God’s Spirit is the only true One with any real chance of convicting of sinful choices, and convincing someone of His plan and purpose for their life. Can we be used in the process? Absolutely! Yet, God tends to work best through those who accurately reflect His love.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).

How will YOU choose to speak?

Contact McKrae

Homosexuality: The Leprosy of Christianity

Homosexuality: The Leprosy of Christianity

McKrae blue

In 1999, the Lord laid on my heart to start this ministry. I didn’t know much at the time. All I knew or had heard from Him were short things that led me forward. It was like a breadcrumb trail that led me slowly, step-by-step through a process the Lord was preparing me for.

I was listening to one of the presenters at a Promise Keepers conference in 1993, when I heard the Lord say to my spirit, “That’s what I want you to do.” I responded, “Do what?” “Be a public speaker.” Almost shocked at His statement, I asked, “And talk about what?” Silence, for the next four years.   Finally I heard, “This is what I’ve called you to.” A message of hope that I wasn’t ready for, but the Lord was saying it was time.

That day in ‘93 was the beginning of a journey the Lord started me on to share a message of hope with anyone who was willing to listen. I guess that makes you one of those willing. Welcome!

What is this message of hope the Lord has me sharing? Is this message about people being delivered from same-sex attractions and any other forms of temptation plaguing them? No. Have all of your temptations ceased to exist? Me neither.

However, there IS GREAT HOPE!

What is this message of hope? Is it a message of people leaving homosexuality? Is it about helping Christians to come out of isolation and fear who are struggling with homosexual feelings? Is it to support parents in loving their gay-identified or struggling children as Jesus does? Is it to educate the Church on the issue of same-sex (sexual) attractions? Is it to assist the Body of Christ in helping people walk with the Lord and away from homosexuality? Yes. That’s a LOT. Yes, yes it is.

We do a LOT with the small amount of funding we’re very fortunate to receive. Yet, we receive only a small amount of exposure for all the work we do. Despite this, people’s lives ARE being touched, and aimed towards Jesus, daily.

I’m going to share about three recent incidents that have propelled me to seriously reevaluate what I’m saying, what I’m teaching, and how I’m communicating this message of hope to others.

The first situation involves a very intelligent 24-year-old man who recently met with me and eagerly started reading my book, The Transparent Life. He tore through it, reading the 210 pages in just a few days! He’s been texting and asking me questions on a regular basis. On several occasions I’ve called him back. During one of those calls, he shared, “I did what you suggested in your book and shared with my guy friend. He rejected me.” Ouch! I had to console him. I told him his friend had not rejected him, but the issue of homosexuality.

I told him, “Homosexuality is the leprosy of Christianity.”

The second incident that clued me in that I needed to start doing something different, was when an older family member recently spoke with me. She is someone who has read every newsletter I’ve ever written. (There’s probably not too many people who can claim such!) She called me very upset, because someone close to her had “come out” as gay, and had done so publicly. I asked her a series of questions to try to understand why she was upset. It was obvious to me that she did not understand the issue at all—even after reading all of the newsletters and my articles over the many years of ministry. Ouch again!

The third situation occurred earlier this month at a church where numerous ministries were represented, ours being one of them. There came a time for all of us to be prayed over by the congregation. I went down front with the other leaders and found a clear spot to stand. Adults surrounded all of the ministry representatives, but no one was coming near me. I was trying my best to protect my feelings, I knew the Lord would show Himself true. Eventually, a small group of TEENAGERS came forward, yet, no adult ever came. One young man laid his hand on me, and prayed over me. I was touched, yet equally saddened. Ouch once again!

The sad part is, this was not the first time Christian adults have shunned me over this issue. It’s as if I smelled bad, like I had “leprosy.” I had to remind myself of the same truth I had told the young man—they’re rejecting the issue of homosexuality, not me. BUT, it’s very difficult when it’s happening to you.

These three cases, plus countless similar instances over the years, exemplify a world-wide stigma towards homosexuality and ignorance of same-sex attraction, especially within the Church. I’m not saying ALL Christians are ignorant. But, I AM saying that WAY TOO MANY are treating people—like me and the 24-year-old young man—as lepers used to be treated.

Jesus NEVER did this. He talked with them. He listened to them. He touched them. He healed them. He loved them! In other words, He interacted with them as humans (who happened to have leprosy), rather than as lepers (who happened to be human).

There are two actions I’m going to take to address the ignorance and stigma within the Church. One, I’m going to start focusing more on educating people through the newsletter and full-length teachings that will be available. The second is, we are introducing Hope Rising, a one-day experience of our annual five-day Hope for Wholeness Conference. We will travel around the country and would love to come to your city, so invite us! Go to our website > Events > Hope Rising!

In addition to these new changes, we’re also thrilled to share that the ministry and network are growing—praise God! At the same time, we’re also dealing with the reality that funding has not increased. Yet, we will thank Him even for that, as Ephesians 5:20 exhorts us to thank Him for ALL things. You may or may not realize, but this ministry touches lives every day, and you play a HUGE part with your prayers and support. If you aren’t currently, will you consider partnering with us through both your heartfelt prayers and your sacrificial giving?

YOU ARE NEEDED AND APPRECIATED! Thank you!

Last fall, Alan Chambers (former Exodus President), contacted me to see if I’d be interested in taking over the memorabilia and archives of Exodus. I quickly said, “Yes.” He told me, “It’s a lot.”

Exodus: Preserving History and Continuing the Adventure

Exodus: Preserving History and Continuing the Adventure

By McKrae Game

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I remember going to my first Exodus conference in 1998. My wife and I were scared to death! It was a regional in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Clay McLean was the main speaker. I met many new people, but the only one who really sticks out in my memory is Larry Bell. The Lord put Larry in my life in an incredibly vulnerable time—I’d recently had a fall with a man, and my wife didn’t know, yet. It was also at this conference where the Lord spoke to me about ex-gay ministry. Clay said, “So many people come out of homosexuality through an experience with God, but tell no one. Many are then left to walk alone on this journey.” In that moment, I heard clear-as-a-bell in my mind, “This is what I’ve called you to.” It scared me, yet…the Lord reminded me: He’d been preparing me for a long time.

My experience with Exodus was truly special. I had found family. I discovered a group of men and women who understood where I was coming from and how I felt—my attractions, my inclinations, my failures, my hopes, and now my calling. The worship was incredible! God’s Spirit was thick in the air! The experience was so POWERFUL and intense, it was life-changing!

IMG_8394 (1)When I heard about the Exodus national conference, there wasn’t even a question of whether my wife and I would attend. When we found out it was in Seattle, Washington, where we would have to face the high cost of traveling to the other side of the country, it wasn’t a matter of seeing obstacles, but looking for solutions. I asked my church and my mom for help, and seventeen years later they both, still, financially support this journey.

From that day forward, and for the next fifteen years, I never missed an Exodus conference.

Shortly after the conference in Seattle, I mailed my application to start an Exodus Affiliate Ministry. I’d heard clearly from the Lord that I was supposed to follow Him in this area. “Truth Ministry,” I heard. In order to start an Exodus ministry, though, their Standards had to be met: one year in ministry and two years from a fall with another person. I had work to do! After meeting the Standards and becoming an Exodus leader, I immersed myself in every area I could. Over the years, I coordinated the volunteers and taught workshops at the national conferences. It was from these workshops that my message of The Transparent Life took root.

The Lord gave me the gift of leadership, and I used it.

Alan Medinger was my Exodus Regional Representative, and he did a great job mentoring me as a leader. Eventually, he asked me to take his place as the Exodus Regional Rep for the Mid-Atlantic Coast. One day, after accepting the position, I called Alan [Medinger] because I was feeling SO overwhelmed. I asked him, “How did you manage your ministry and find the time to mentor all the leaders across the region?” He replied, “Well, what you don’t know is…you were the only one I was calling and mentoring. I saw numerous gifts in you that I believe can carry on the work of Exodus.” I was struck at that moment by his words, and I still am today. This man I admired so much personally mentored me into a position I would one day take on, though I didn’t know it at the time.

Today, Hope for Wholeness not only carries on the ministry and message of Exodus, but also the spirit of community with its leaders and participants. This culminates in a powerful personal experience at our conferences where Jesus is The Focus and lives ARE changed. (See last month’s article on change.)

Speaking of change, Hope for Wholeness is now the caretaker of Exodus’ history.

Last fall, Alan Chambers (former Exodus President), contacted me to see if I’d be interested in taking over the memorabilia and archives of Exodus. I quickly said, “Yes.” He told me, “It’s a lot.”

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I immediately informed our Advisory Council and Governing Board, and we’ve kept this confidential until now. We believe it’s important to preserve this life-changing history. No funds were exchanged, no agreements of ideology were entered, and no “quid pro quo” occurred. The only expectations regarding the Exodus Archives were for them to be cared for, respected, and preserved intact. Our plan is to share the Archives in ways that will glorify the Lord.

How to transfer the Archives from Florida to South Carolina was now the question to be answered. Originally, a trip was planned for December 2014, but it had to be postponed and was rescheduled for the summer of 2015, right before school started.

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Seth wanted to hit every beach we passed on the way down, so we did. I love my boy, and my boy loves the beach! This was an important mission and I wanted Seth to share it with me. We had a great time taking lots of pictures and posting them on Facebook along the way, but did not disclose the real reason for the mission.

It was a quick trip down and back. We left at 4 a.m. on Sunday, August 16, with Seth driving my mom’s Yukon (I tend to fall asleep behind the wheel). We met Alan the next morning at the storage unit in Orlando, hugged and got right to work. We filled every crack to the ceiling in the vehicle, leaving just enough space for our two small suitcases among dozens of boxes. The Yukon was loaded down to the point that the suspension had to significantly adjust. You could definitely feel the weight of history while driving.

After two (plus) hours of packing, Seth and I had a nice lunch with Lynda Stein (former Exodus Conference Production Manager). We caught up on what we’ve been doing since Exodus closed in June 2013. From there, I spent three hours at urgent care (I was terribly sick and needed an antibiotic), while Seth drove around sightseeing. Afterwards, Seth picked me up, and we joined four friends who treated us as their guests to Disney. Although I needed to rest, I decided to press through and have fun with my boy and friends. And we did! We stayed out late and had a lot of fun riding Space Mountain and several other rides. My family had never been to Disney, and I hadn’t seen the Magic Kingdom since I was ten. This was a real treat!

On Tuesday morning, we headed home with our precious cargo—Seth driving and me resting. The next day, Nylene, Jacob, and I unloaded the Archives to our second floor office. Did I mention it was summer and HOT? Later that day, Seth and I went to Costco and bought shelving for the Archives now entrusted to us.

Some may not understand this venture. It was, and will be, a costly project in time, energy, and resources. Those who were involved with Exodus will understand its value. Those who participated in Exodus will understand the treasure we shared in fellowship, and now have received its recorded inheritance. The Archives demonstrate God’s Divine Hand in thousands of people’s lives, including mine, and so many across the world.

The next step in this journey is to create a special membership website for accessing recordings. Hope for Wholeness already has a large inventory of resources, and in the future, we will gladly offer all of Exodus’ audio and video conference teachings, as well. ALL THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS.

There are tons of resources to be inventoried, catalogued, scanned, converted, and uploaded so others can benefit from the 38-years of transformational history. It’s going to cost a whole lot more than the gas to go down and get it—a whole lot more in time, energy, and finances.

Though a dauntingly large task, it’s an even larger honor to glorify God as we continue this adventure.

Will you join us?

Click here to see images of the journey to and from Orlando

If you’re ready and willing to help others benefit from the history and heritage of Exodus, please PRAY for all involved. We definitely need the Lord’s Guidance on a daily basis, and especially as we embark on this new adventure! To donate financially, designate your contribution under our new option titled Preserving Exodus History.

  • CHANGE: What Is It And Who Gets To Decide?

CHANGE: What Is It And Who Gets To Decide?

Change is a HUGE word—and that’s an understatement! I could literally write an article about change every month for a year and yet, after 12 months and 24,000 words, I still wouldn’t cover it all. With that caveat stated, please know that this article will only be a drop-in-the-bucket regarding change, but it’s an important drop, because it’s about Jesus’ life-giving water of hope.

In 1991, I became a Christian and left homosexuality—homosexuality, though, did not leave me. In other words, I still struggle with envying a handsome, muscular man, which can progress to coveting, and then I’m tempted to sexualize him. Yet, even in the midst of these feelings, I have changed, or more accurately, God has changed me. You might disagree with me that I’ve changed, but I know I’m not the same man I was when I first surrendered my life to Christ almost 25 years ago. Before God, I believed that homosexual behavior and lying were wrong, but they didn’t haunt me. After encountering Jesus, though, my entire life changed and He has faithfully transformed me every day since.

Not only has my life significantly changed over the last 2 ½ decades, the culture has, as well—but in a radically different direction. As I wrote in last month’s article, the cultural change in the last 3 years has been crazy regarding homosexuality and Christianity. I personally know many men and women who have gone back to living homosexually. In all truth, even that is “change,” because they were formerly walking away from homosexuality and now they are walking towards homosexuality. What’s the difference between my changes and theirs? Simply put in Scriptural terms: Walking towards Jesus and away from sin leads to life and freedom. Everything else leads to death and enslavement.

Matthew AaronLet me share with you some stories of people who have experienced a variety of life-affirming changes.

In Judith Hartzell’s book, By God’s Design, she wrote about the life and ministry of Alan and Willa Medinger. Alan was one of my first mentors in ministry and was a great encouragement to me. He was also one of the founders and former presidents of Exodus. Judith writes about Alan’s immediate deliverance from homosexual attractions, and how he essentially built his ministry around his personal experience with homosexuality.

Alan is now with The Lord, so I can’t ask him if he believed/hoped that others would, maybe even should, have a similar experience to his. What I do know is that Alan told me he believed The Lord allowed him to have this deliverance experience in order to restore his marriage and mature him as a man. He also shared with me that his homosexual attractions returned years later, but the intensity was not like it was before. And for those who think that sexual attractions cannot be fluid, Alan also told me that he experienced “a secondary deliverance” of his attractions later in life.

Bob and JeanieI’ve had many people share similar stories with me who are continuing to surrender their sexuality to God. I highly respect and appreciate them for continuing to point to Jesus as The True Focus for all of their desires. There are others, though, who said they were delivered, but have not remained in contact. I don’t know how much freedom they’re living in.

Speaking of freedom, that word is just as gigantic as change! But for the sake of this article, a simple, Scriptural definition for freedom means to be born-again in Christ, having The Holy Spirit’s resurrection power to resist temptation, so as to no longer be enslaved to sin. In other words, freedom is the ability to grow and mature as a man or woman in alignment with God’s original design.

I mention all of this because a young man, who is part of our ministry and publicly vocal about his struggles with homosexual attractions, shared something in one of our Facebook groups that caused a bit of an uproar. He wrote, “Hope for Wholeness doesn’t focus on change or healing, but only coping with same-sex attractions.” I talked with him privately and told him that my being very vocal about ongoing attractions is not the same thing as simply coping. Coping is just maintaining the status-quo—kind of like image-management. My public transparency is definitely not status-quo.

Ralph and DuncanThat wasn’t always the case.

In the beginning, I was transparent in many ways, but not in my writings. I remember four years ago being at my son’s cross-country camp where I was writing my first article admitting I still struggled with same-sex sexual attractions. I was honestly scared as I wrote it—scared of what others would think of me and how they would respond. One leader privately wrote me saying I shouldn’t be talking like that and I obviously needed more healing. Many other leaders, though, responded with great praise and thanked me for my honesty. Although some people continue to admonish me to not share publicly, many more have stated how my message of transparency in all areas of my life has helped and encouraged them. My not being ashamed of my temptations has given them hope that they, too, can one day live without secrets and without shame, and instead, live transparently free in Christ.

Back to the other people’s stories…

Sonia Bolt and tableSome people I know surrendered their lives to The Lord and experienced an immediate removal of their homosexual attractions. Other people’s attractions diminished gradually over years, yet theyor may not have completely gone away. And then…there’s people like me. Maybe you’re one of those people, too. If you struggle like I do, then this article is to let you know that you’re not alone. There IS hope for change! And what change looks like is up to God.

As I mentioned, numerous men and women have shared with me how they no longer have any homosexual attractions. For some the feelings went away immediately and never returned like my friends Donna Cole and Debora Barr, while others had more fluid experiences like Alan Medinger. Then there are people whose same-sex sexual attractions subsided more gradually until they were completely gone like my friends Tom Cole, Dee Barnes, Cordy Campbell, and Brenna Kate Simonds. Others, like me, have not experienced reductions in attraction, but most everything else has changed.

No matter what group(s) you fit into, the main question remains the same: Who and what is your focus?

Phillip Lovel and Jason Wright tableMy hope in sharing all of this is to strongly encourage you, if you aren’t already, to begin transparently sharing your life experiences—both your strengths and temptations. This is one way I am leading Hope for Wholeness that is distinctly different. I believe we are to publicly proclaim Christ’s strength while being rigorously honest about our weaknesses, just like Paul the apostle did (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Although there are people, including other leaders, who no longer struggle homosexually, I don’t really relate to them in that area. Freedom from lying, yes, but not homosexuality. Yet, I believe there’s a reason I continue to struggle in this particular area, and it’s more than just my lack of maturity or lack of discipline. I believe The Lord has allowed me to continue to struggle in order to be a voice of hope to those who feel overwhelmed and ashamed by their temptations—especially in the area of sexuality.

Contrary to what some may say, I DO believe in healing and change! I’ve certainly changed in so many ways as an adult, but I can’t change my childhood. Some people have asked me, “Why don’t you just ‘get over it’ and move on?” I have gotten over it, but the reality is that my past shaped me into who I am today, just like yours did. Hopefully Jesus is a part of our pasts. And especially that divine intersection that changed everything! Having Jesus in our lives, though, does not negate the reality that we must learn to deal with our pasts and our struggles. I detail my deliverance out of homosexuality in my book, The Transparent Life, and about an encounter with God where He healed me from the physical abuse I had experienced in childhood. Only The Lord can do these kinds of healings and they’re for His glory, not ours.

Meleah and SoniaFar too often, though, people get impatient with God, themselves, and/or others. As I mentioned earlier, some have decided that ongoing homosexual temptations give them a license to sin. That is not the case at all! Scripture tells us to stand firm in the faith, to flee from sin, and to take thoughts captive that are contrary to Jesus and His plan for our lives (1 Peter 5:9, Romans 5:3-4, Matthew 24:13, Genesis 24:13, and many more).

Why does Scripture tell us we need to persevere in the face of our temptations if He’s just going to remove them? This doesn’t mean that He can’t or won’t, but does He always, or even typically? We cannot assume that it’s God’s will that we all be healed of all of our struggles on our schedule. That is more like an imaginary genie in a bottle.

The truth is, the vast majority of the guys I know who are “ever-straights,” struggle just as much as I do. It’s just that they’re tempted to lust after women instead of men. Their grief, in being Christian and desiring godliness, is just as intense as mine. They have to deal with their temptations the same way I do mine, by taking their thoughts captive to The Lordship of Christ and confessing their sins to one another so they can be healed.

Aqueena and MelaneeI was thinking about all of this while running this morning, including an admonition I’d given to a man who was focusing on his temptations and thinking he could never change. I told him to focus on what’s in front of him that needs doing, or said another way, to take healthy action.

Running is one of the ways I take action, even though it’s a struggle for me every time. I’m not a natural runner, but it helps me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Sometimes, though, I just want to do what’s easy and not go for what’s difficult. Can you relate?

If you’re not a runner, you might think my experience isn’t applicable to you, but please keep reading and see what God shows you about change for your own life.

When I approach a hill, I change my run by leaning into it and run harder to lessen the time on it. When I’m overwhelmed by the L-O-N-G distance in front of me, I change my focus. I look for upcoming mailboxes and set my focus on them. They’re manageable, because they’re right in front of me.

McKrae signing TLThis morning as I struggled running, I allowed myself to see Jesus at each mailbox encouraging me and waving me onto the next one. Towards the end, I allowed Him to give me a high-five as I finished. Do I think He’d be disappointed with me if I started walking? No. I think He’d come running and walk with me. My flesh is inclined to shame myself, but He encourages me. When I change my thinking and focus on Him as the Lover of my soul Who wants the best for me, I overcome! Whether I run the whole way and make great time (mine for 3.1 miles was 26.46!), or I walk, run, stop, take a few steps back, crawl, walk, run, repeat—it doesn’t matter. For me, if I stop, it’s harder to get back to running. Yet, no matter what, Jesus IS there for me to lean on. I can trust Him to never leave me or forsake me, because that’s what He promised (Hebrews 13:5).

Perhaps some of you are no longer focused on God. He’s still right here waiting for you. Maybe you believe there’s no hope for you. That’s a lie used by the enemy on all of us. There IS hope—His Name is Jesus! He also uses His people to encourage us to persevere, especially when it’s painful. That’s when it’s imperative to take a drink of Jesus’ life-giving water and change our focus to the next mailbox where He’s standing. The good news is, He’s both waiting for us AND He’s running the race with us! In the end, though, it’s only His glory and praise that really matters—not how long it took us to run the race.

Remember, your loving-kindness, patience, and friendship can make a world of difference to someone who needs help running the race. Be Jesus-with-skin-on for them. It’s life-changing!

The above pictures were taken at our wildly successful HFW Leadership Conference (June 3) dinner at the nearby Mexican restaurant. We took over the restaurant, having fantastic fellowship! (You can click to enlarge.)

These men and women know what change is, they live it every single day.

Living Out “The Transparent Life”

We sold all our copies and just received a new shipment of The Transparent Life! Help us sell out again! A friend called it “an addictive read!” Its a Biblically based novel sharing my story, and showing us all how to live in community. The focus is not homosexuality, but you’ll get a good sense of understanding of the issue. Its available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble online (go in the store and request a copy!), Kindle, & iBooks. If you order through us, we give free shipping and I’ll sign it for you. Consider donating to help others get a copy. https://www.hopeforwholeness.org/the-transparent-life/

 

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