I am still in shock about Exodus International closing. One of my students shared his testimony today at Illuminate Church in Celebration, Florida. It was perfect. No one prepped the crowd. He simply told how he had moved in with his boyfriend. Then Jesus led him to the realization that he couldn’t be both gay and Christian. Something had to give. Jesus won out. There were no audible gasps. No one left the room. When Alan Chambers spoke about the role of the church as Exodus closes, he said that churches are now ready to fill the void. I believe my church, Illuminate Church in Celebration, Florida is one of those churches. Are we FULLY ready? No. Are we asking the right questions and pressing in to Jesus? Yes. I spent 20 minutes talking to my pastor’s wife today about Exodus. She wanted to know the what, why and how behind the closing. I gave her a brief synopsis. Then as if cued by the Holy Spirit, she began to quote some of the same ideas and realizations about the situation that God had revealed to me. No organization can step up and do the work the church needs to do and that includes building relationships with the wounded and shepherding them in their walk with Jesus. Then the pastor’s wife asked me a question I could not answer. I know that as a church and a ministry we will one day do our best to answer it together.
“How do we as a church, communicate the love of Jesus Christ to the gay community while still sharing the truth of God’s word concerning the sin of homosexuality?”
We can’t occupy either of the two extremes: all love and hyper-grace or supreme condemnation and fear. There must be balance in our approach, leaving the one size fits all mentality to K-Mart Moo-moos and Cooking Aprons.
I got so mad at Alan Chambers that my judgment was clouded. I didn’t understand. I still don’t. HONESTY ALERT!!! My reaction to the closure of Exodus meant that I had placed my faith and trust in an organization. Exodus had become somewhat of an idol to me. I was angry that there was chaos where there had once been peace. That is when the conviction of the Holy Spirit came in. “God is where you place your faith and trust.” With Exodus gone, I could focus my eyes back on God.
When I calmed, I was reassured in a text from Alan that no matter what we are still friends. Yes, that is right. Alan Chambers is my friend. He gave me my first job in this ministry. He hired me as the Emcee for the 2002 Exodus Freedom Conference. Alan has introduced me to several young men that I have mentored over the years. He has given me advice. We’ve shared more than one lunch at the Cracker Barrel near the office. Alan Chambers has been a hero in my life.
I think of other names around Exodus when I began my walk out of homosexuality. John Paulk and John Smid. John Paulk co-authored the book, “Love Won Out”. He recently came out apologizing for his work with Exodus. It didn’t phase me. Here’s why. John Paulk spoke of freedom from homosexuality and Jesus at a time when I needed to hear it most. Just because he doesn’t believe it any more, doesn’t mean that the truth of God’s word about homosexuality is any less true.
John Smid mentored me at a time when I needed guidance and the viewpoint from a wiser man in this walk. He instilled in me the excitement of a life surrendered to Jesus. Both these guys have recanted most of the statements they made over the last decade, concerning Exodus ministry, but it was too late for me to be swayed by the new “gospel” they’re preaching. They had already led me to the only gospel that ever mattered; the message of Jesus Christ.
My friends, the bible says that if possible in the last days, even the very elect of the Lord will be deceived. Before you point fingers at any of the men above, go take a look in the mirror. You could very well be next. satan is alive and well. He can tempt and deceive any of us. Don’t single out heroes that have fallen, but instead pray for them. Pray for yourself that you don’t fall victim to the schemes of the enemy. 1 Peter 5:8 says it best, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
Ultimately, it’s the message of the bible, not any ministry that is to shape and guide our lives. Do I believe you can be gay and Christian? I’ll let another one of my heroes, Joe Dallas, answer that question with a scripture he quoted. Luke 6:46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” Obedience in EVERY area of our lives is the key. Obedience- doing what the bible says is right, even when our heart, hormones and friends try to steer us off course. The bible is not the menu at Burger King. You can’t “have it your way”. A life in Christ is all or nothing.