Thursday, July 30, 2009

Reflections - Exodus Conference July09 - Gods Sneaky or Divine Appointments


This is a fun little story of how I ended up going to the Exodus Conference this past July.  I wasn't planning on going, in fact I wasn't even considering it.  I was aware of the conference coming up but saw no need to go.  I had been chatting with some of the Exodus staff on some other unrelated things.  Somehow word of my going into the high schools got to Scott Davies.  He contacted me and asked me if I would be willing to be a small group leader for the Xscape program.  That was definitely something I was very interested in.  It speaks to my hearts desire to minister into the lives of those that are desirous of coming out of the life style.  I chatted with my husband about it, he was good with it, so I booked my ticket and made my reservations.

As time was approaching I was getting emails from Julie Carter.  She was coordinating all the the volunteers for the conference.  Thus I didn't think anything of it.  About five days prior to leaving for the conference I felt that I needed to connect with Julie to make sure that all the things that she was having me signed up to do would not interfere with my main purpose for going.  So, I emailed her. 

About a day later I got an email from Scott.  He had written me an email that I never received asking me if I minded not being used as a small group leader and being a volunteer instead.  Since he thought I was good with this he gave my name to Julie and all she knew was that I was a willing volunteer.

Had I found this out sooner I would have not gone to the conference and would have cancelled my tickets and reservations.  I could have gotten a full refund.  Since I did find out just a few days prior to leaving I was all committed to going and could not see cancelling.  So I went.

One hurdle that I had to overcome was that fact that I was arriving so late.  The conference started at 7pm on Tuesday and I didn't even get into O’Hare until 9 pm.  Then I had to find my way to some kind of transportation to make my way to Wheaten College.  Upon arriving I did manage to get a taxi who had already been to the campus a few other times that day.  We had a nice chat while driving and in short order found the college. 

We pulled up to one area but it didn't look quite right so I had the driver go back a block and up the previous street.  As soon as we turned around we began to see Exodus signs.  We followed the signs and at the next corner I told the drive that he could stop and let me out.  Rather than stopping he turned the corner and again I said to please stop and let me out.  Again he continued on and pulled forward another 100 feet or so and finally let me out.  I paid him and thanked him and turned around to get my bearings.

Well I wasn't sure where to go so I immediately went to the side walk and saw a few people walking so I walked up to a woman and asked.  She was headed in the same direction as the check in table and was glad to show me the way.  So I casually asked her how she came to find herself at the conference.  That began a new friendship that continued the fullness of the week.  My new friend had come alone and had been struggling alone for many years.  She is married and only recently shared her struggle with her husband.  Her husband was supportive and she came with great hope and expectation but also with many reservations.  She had asked the Lord to help her and He did.

I find it amazing that my taxi driver had to drive forward two more times before letting me out of the taxi.  If he had not, then I would have been behind my new friend and would not have walked to her for directions, I would have gone to another.  God is so good.  Meeting my new friend was apart of many divine appointments that I had during the course of that week.  God is so faithful and loving.  I was so blessed to be a part of that conference experience.


Posted via web from jenniferthorne's posterous

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reflections - Exodus Conference July09 - God has/is Compensating Me


Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

I had the privilege of attending two workshops given by Sy Rogers.  He also did one of the general sessions.  I had heard of him for years but had never been exposed to his teachings.  They were amazing and he is truly a blessing to the body of Christ and a glory to Jesus.  In the workshop sessions Sy was talking about the 9 factors he has discovered that cause sexual relational problems to develop.  He also has another teaching of the 9 principles of redeeming our sexuality. 

As I sat through all his sessions I was amazed at how he was describing all the things that God has taken me through in my journey with Jesus.  I could not have produced this teaching but I have personally experienced each thing Sy identified both in the area of the development of my sexual relational struggles and how God has redeemed my sexuality. 

One of the 9 principles that Sy talks about is forgiveness.  This was not new to me but what was new was the idea that our need for justice demands that we receive compensation.  Thus when we choose to forgive someone, we are saying in reality, "I will not require you to pay your debt to me."  When we do forgive we go to Jesus and leave the Justice up to Him.  He will bring us the proper compensation as we forgive those who should really owe us compensation.  In God sweet way He will bring about His compensation for the losses that we have received.

As I have reflected upon this it has brought to mind this personal example in my own life with Him.  I grew up a wild child, at least that is what it felt like.  Not that I was a wild child but that my parents, trying their best, left us alone much of the time.  They did the best they could and to their credit I knew that I was loved and belonged to my family.  There were many things missing in my growing up life and one of those areas was related to school and being involved in activities through school supported, encouraged, and guided by my parents. 

As I have grown older, found much healing in Jesus, and now have my own family, I'm finding that God is redeeming those lost years in a profound way.  I have five children and Karl and I go to every function at school for all of my children.  We happen to be on the school campus a lot.  Actually I don't think that there is ever a function at school that does not involve us because we have so many, at least it feels that way.  One of the first things that the Lord gave me, as compensation, was a special first year of Transitional Kindergarten with my oldest son, Quinton.  That first year of school I was allowed to join the classroom every Friday.  My 2nd son Julian was allowed to come with me, which made this possible.  He was mature enough to sit in the class room and not be disruptive.  Thus for a full year, I got to be involved in Quinton's class room, go on all the field trips, get to know all of his classmates, watch both sons grow in this environment, and I also got to know many of the parents on a first name basis.  I had so much fun that year.  I thought that this was how school was supposed to be.  The next year I found out that it is not.  I had another child which changed the dynamics of my family.  In fact, I have never had another year like my first one.  This was such a blessing to me.  this gave me such encouragement and hope for my own family.

Along those same lines there are many school assemblies and school programs that are put on for the parents by the children.  As I have attended those assemblies, I would always cry as God has ministered to me.  Even though I go to those assemblies for my children, God has used them to bring me compensation for the losses that I experienced in my own life.  When we moved to MT and my children began attending Valley Christian School God seemed to move me more profoundly.  With each assembly and each year I would just sit there and weep, weep, weep.  You would think that I would remember the tissues, but I never did.  There I would be again, eyes tearing, nose running, hands wiping, me sniffling.  It was a messy scene.  My husband would often times notice, look at me with a gentle smile, perhaps run my arm or shoulder.  What a comfort God was being to me and for me, all while I was doing what I believed to be best for my own children.  There did come a day when the weeping subsided.  It took many years but most of the time now I can go to a school function and enjoy the moment with my children knowing that I no longer feel those losses.  I'm sure there will be more things in the future.  God has given me a daughter and we love being the "girls."  I believe that God will continue redeeming my losses and compensating me through Maylah Rose as she grows in her life.  There was so much I did not experience growing up as I rejected my own femininity.  This is not a problem for Maylah.  She is all girl and rough and tumble.  She loves being a girl, thinks it is uniquely special, that the boys are missing out because they are not girls, and we have our own little girls club.  She does love her brothers while fully embracing the reality that God has made her a girl and will soon grow her into a woman.  Many things to look forward to.

Posted via web from jenniferthorne's posterous

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Reflections - Exodus Conference July09 - What if it is not a choice? What if it is not inborn?

Along the same lines as the previous post I also need to broaden my discussion of the way I share about choice.  As I have had opportunity to speak about my journey and the issue of homosexuality I have not been clear enough about how I believe that choice is involved.  Because the issue is so highly energized, as soon as I use the word "choice" I'm sure that I have turned off many listeners who might otherwise have continued to listen.

I need to do a better job about being clear regarding the feelings that one experiences.  No one ever wakes up one morning and says, "gee, I think today is the day that I will be gay."  What happens is a process of self discovery of the reality that feelings for a member of the same sex exist and are compelling.  Much time effort and energy will already have been spent struggling with what these feelings are, why they exist, and what can be done about them. 

As I have listened to many of the speakers at the conference and continue to do more reading since my return regarding the types of things that can contribute to same sex feelings I have come to realize that although choice in behavior is definately a huge part of the journey either toward homosexuality or away from it; a distinction must be clearly made that the existance of the feelings was not a choice. 

For me, perhaps because I carried these feelings around inside of me for a long time before I ever made a decision to act upon them, I can see  so clearly how my own choices have been involved in the direction of my life.  In the same way, after accpeting Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I would have remained in a gay identity and lifestyle, had He not called me out of it.  For me again it was a clear choice. 

What wasn't a choice was the reality that the attractions existed within me, that the struggles remained after my choice to follow Him and leave behind the life I knew (no matter what that meant to me).  Now in time, after 20 years of marriage, five children, and a life of choosing differnt behaviors I can say that the struggle has subsided and the longings for same sex relationships is being met in Godly ways.

So what of the choice issue?  Choice is definately a key part in the direction that you head in life but the reality of discovering a set of feelings that are complelling towards members of the same sex not only need to be recongnized but they need to be acknowledged in all discussions regarding the issue of homosexuality.

Posted via web from jenniferthorne's posterous

Reflections - Exodus Conference July09 - Beyond My Own Journey


Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

I have been speaking publically about my journey with God almost since the beginning when I became a believer back in 1984.  I think the first time I actually shared with anyone, in a public setting, that God had pursued me, healed me, changed me, and called me out of the life style into a life fully devoted to Him was around 1988/9.  The setting was in my church at the time, Green Valley Christian Church.

Since I moved from CA to MT I have also had opportunity to go into the local high schools in Missoula, MT.  This came about through a series of God appointed meetings but I accepted the opportunity with great joy.  I have now been to Big Sky High School on three seperate occasions and Hellgate High on two occasions.  I am usually billed, by my own doing, as speaking from an ex gay perspective.  I have always (except my last time at Big Sky High School in 2009) been placed on a panel with at least one other pro gay speaker but it is usually 2 to 4 other panel members.  The broadest panel had five people all together.  There was one young man billed as having grown up in a lesbian household, one woman who was billed as a lesbian, another woman who was billed as a bi sexual (who happened to currently be married to a man to raise her twin children), and one man billed as a gay man (who also happened to run a non profit in MT to educate the public about the normalcy of gay life).

While I have personally never minded being billed as an ex gay, because it helps my audience to understand that I was gay and now I am not, the Exodus Movement has moved completely away from the ex gay label.  They felt that this label was to confining and did not reflect well the transformation going on in the lives of those people who have accepted Christ as Lord.  Of late, the Exodus Movement has been struggling with how to define themselves.  The issue for this movement is not ex gay or gay vs straight but Holiness.  They are having an discussion about the term Post Gay because it does speak to a paradym shift.  Post gay can also encompus having moved beyond gay dogma but does not mean into a life with Jesus.  More about Post Gay in another post.

I was having a hard time with this new position because I felt that it was side stepping the whole issue of healing and change that I have personally experienced in my own life with Jesus.  I felt also that talking about Holiness and not total healing was doing a disservice to those looking for freedom.  Although I understood their rational for moving away from ex gay , I did not embrace this new place. 

After having been to the conference I do now have a fuller understanding about why the move away from ex gay to something beyond it.  Although my story in and of itself is amazing and is valid and also happens for others, it does not encompass everyone’s story and personal experience.  There are other people who have been walking with Christ who have not found freedom from the struggle or the pull of the old behaviors and yet they are trusting in Him and are not willing to concede and go back into the life style.  They have changed their identification from "gay" to being defined in Him, even if they continue to struggle with temptation.  There are also others who have never "gay" identified, have and still are walking with Him and yet struggle with same sex attraction.  There are also others who have their own unique issue and circumstance but remain in Him.

The thing that helped me to best understand this movement by Exodus was a statement made during one of the workshops that I attended.  The root issue for all people is not gay or straight.  People do not go to hell for being gay, many straight people go to hell.  The issue is sin, only those who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior will go to heaven, regardless of what their particular struggles on this earth happen to be.  The issue is;  which direction are you moving?  towards Jesus or away.  Are you gaining ground in Knowing Him or are you resisting and walking in your own understanding.  The issue is Holiness, being set apart for His purposes.  In fact we know from Ephesians that God has created good works in advance for us to walk in, are we walking in them? 

So, although I will keep sharing my story of redemption in Jesus, as I speak to this issue in a public forum I will change how I frame the issue.  It is not gay vs straight.  It is about the direction you are headed.  Sy Rogers makes this comment during his workshops:  "God did not tell me not to be gay, He said, "Stop Resisting Me!"  I guess that really is it in a nutshell. 


Posted via web from jenniferthorne's posterous

Monday, July 27, 2009

Reflections - Exodus Conference July09 - Current Financial Struggle


Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

I was excited to come to the conference for a number of reasons but one of them was totally unrelated to this area of sexual brokenness, healing, or otherwise.  I was just relieved, for the moment to be out from underneath my current financial pressures.  Where I came  and was open to God working and moving in anyway He saw fit, I did not expect for God to address my current financial situation.

I listened as speaker after speaker talked of the reality of the time that it takes to overcome the pull that our past sexual lives have over us.  I know this first hand myself from my own journey with God then length of time it has taken for God to not only forgive me but give me the fullness of freedom that I experience today. 

Each speaker kept putting reframing the struggle in the lives of the people who came to this conference in light of both the years spent in a place of sexual sin but also in light of eternity itself.  Why would we expect to spend just a moment of struggle to over turn often times many years in a place of sexual sin.  Why would we also through away our opportunity with God just because he does not give us the fullness of freedom we desire in a moment when in light of eternity with Him these struggles are really only momentary like it says often in the book of 1 Peter.

As I kept listening to this reframing of perspective God began bringing to mind to me my attitude of "why me, poor me, I didn't choose this place, you brought me to this place, why can't an all powerful God just change my circumstances in my finances and let me alone, doesn't He love me, etc.?"

Now I was not actively voicing these things to God but I was pondering them and it is impacting my ability to find joy in the circumstances that I am in.  It had not occurred to me to apply what I have learned from His leading me out of a place of sexual brokenness and confusion to this area of my life.  There were so many things that I have learned from the journey out of the lifestyle that have given me tools to continue to use in that area as I come across temptation that I would not trade that journey for anything.  I just wanted the easy way out.

Thus I have accepted and continue to accept this place that I find myself in.  As I continue to be weak and struggle with the reality of this difficult financial place, I will continue to invite God into this place that I would draw ever nearer to Him.  That is my desire to know Him more intimately and if this is the road that will bring that about then this is the road that I will continue to walk on. 

Posted via web from jenniferthorne's posterous

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Reflections - Exodus Conference July09 - My Need For Him (Karl)

Well this was an interesting thing that the Lord did for me during the conference. One evening at the general session I was looking out at the body of people assembled, praying and worshiping the King. I was moved by the passion of those men in this body that give all to strive towards Jesus even in the midst of their struggles.

We had listened to a testimony from a couple who had overcome many things, both met the Lord after many years of persecution and confusion. They spoke their testimony in harmony and in rhythm. I was impressed with each of their stories and how God intertwined them together.

As I worshiped, the Lord impressed upon me just how much women need men to be men so that we also know who we are. Not that we cannot find ourselves apart from them. It was a precious moment as I watched these men worship.

The next morning I attended devotions. It was lead by a man whom I do not have the name of but as He was leading us through this devotion using many scriptures from the Word God spoke to me again. He said to me, "This is a man, as I define him. He is a man as He fulfills his life of knowing Me, and lives a life devoted to me." I was struck by how God was showing me this.

The next day I was again worshiping in the general session and God again spoke to me. He said this what I have shown you is your need. You need your husband to be who I have created him to be. Do not deny this need, I have created it in you and it is good. Only your husband can meet this need as He continues to pursue Me.

It was a bit surprising to me that God would say this to me. I have been married for over 20 years. We have five children together. I could not carry my life without my husband, of course I need him. I continued to ponder what God had shown me and spoke to me. As I thought and prayed I reflected on Adam and Eve in the garden. Eve was created out of Adam by God as a helpmate suitable for him. I kept asking God to help me see just what I was supposed to get. By the end of the conference this is what I believe God was speaking to me.

In my life with my husband I was not denying my need for him. In fact, when the Lord asked me to follow Him and be devoted only to Him and to leave the gay lifestyle behind, I asked Him to bring me a husband and teach me how to love and trust Him. What I did not realize until now is that, although I did not deny this need, I did not embrace it. To embrace this need would be to admit that I am dependent upon my husband for something that I could not give to myself. It also meant in the greater sense that I needed God. God so gently showed me my own need and also showed me how I had yet to accept this part of who he made me. I am female, taken out of male, created by God.

I believe that God creates all women with this need and as He calls us, each individually into marriage, this need is further recognized, met and fulfilled. Only those whom He calls into a life of celibacy and fully devoted to Him does He meet this need in His daughters alone. So my prayer is that the Lord will continue to help me embrace my need for my husband and to embrace it with the fullest joy, even knowing that my husband is not perfect.

Posted via web from jenniferthorne's posterous

Reflections - Exodus Conference July09 - General

I attended my first Exodus Conference this past July and I have several reflections that I want to share.  I will post these individually for clarity.  I went to the conference with no preconcieved plan or agenda.  I was open to what the Lord had for me.  I hope that what I share will bless you as it has bless me.  In general it was a great blessing to have met so many wonderful people.  From the moment I stepped out of the taxi to the moment my sister arrived to pick me up was a wave of blessing as I met and got to know person after person.  My new friends have broadened my perspective and have increased my understanding of God's grace in my life.

Posted via web from jenniferthorne's posterous