One Drawer At A Time Sweet Jesus

Leslie croppedOne day, only a few short weeks ago, I had the strangest thing happen. I found myself with nothing pressing to do. The kids were at school and wouldn’t be home for hours. The house was clean enough. There was left over lasagna for dinner. The dog was bathed. My family was healthy. I was planning on a bike ride with the kids later so I didn’t need to exercise. I’d been to the grocery store and Target the day before. I’d finished my laundry before the sun rose. I had even given my hair a color tweak so the bothersome greys were history! What to do, what to do….

With the question of how to spend the day before me, it only took a few seconds to feel the weight of what I should do. The schoolroom and office closet was a mess. I should clean it out. The front door needed a coat of paint. I should paint it. The garage had several stacks of things to be sorted. I should sort them. I should work in the yard, pull weeds, and re-pot plants. I should call a friend I haven’t talked to in ages. On and on and on… I started “shoulding” on myself. I couldn’t handle the burden so I decided instead to clean out a drawer. This I could handle. One small drawer. In about an hour a drawer that began the day so full it could neither be opened nor closed became orderly and functional. The best part however, was finding long forgotten trinkets and treasures I gave to my kids when they got home. It was like Christmas! Those other things I should have done, the truly important ones, were still there the next day.

Exodus International to Shut Down

exodus-logoOriginally announced June 19th, 2013.

Exodus International to Shut Down

Thirty-seven-year-old ministry for those with same-sex attraction marks its last national conference 

Irvine, Calif. (June 19, 2013) — Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality announced tonight that it’s closing its doors after three-plus decades of ministry. The Board of Directors reached a decision after a year of dialogue and prayer about the organization’s place in a changing culture.

“We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change – and they want to be heard,” Tony Moore, Board member of Exodus. The message came less than a day after Exodus released a statement apologizing (www.exodusinternational.org/apology) to the gay community for years of undue judgment by the organization and the Christian Church as a whole.

You Are Not Alone – Letter from Alan Chambers for July 2012

Cross-posted from the Exodus International website.

You Are Not Alone by Alan Chambers

The 37th Annual Exodus Freedom Conference, Made for More, was my 20thconference.  As I sat backstage on opening night preparing to speak, I tried to remember what life was like for me as a 21 year-old college student 20 conferences prior.  At that point, it had been nearly two years since I’d I walked through the doors of an Exodus ministry on September 12th, 1991 in Winter Park, Florida.  I had grown up in the church, accepted Christ as my Savior, I knew all the scripture, and yet there was this issue that was before me every second of every day. My SSA was like one of those deafening tornado sirens going off, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. There was no bigger deal.  There was no greater fear, no greater question, no deeper struggle, nothing bigger than this issue.  When I found out about the ministry of Exodus International and the local ministry almost literally in my back yard, it was an answer to prayer.

So, as I prepared to speak this year some questions came to mind that I felt I needed to ponder and answer for those in attendance.  Those questions were:  What was that first conference like for me?  What did Exodus do for me?  What did the local ministry provide me?  What did that conference provide me?  How did I find success? How did I find freedom? How did I get where I am today?  I sometimes struggle to answer these questions, feeling like there needs to be some special answers that I should give – some special formula that would easily communicate the journey that I’ve been on.  But, as I sat there in the wings waiting to take the stage, I realized there just isn’t a formula and I am thankful for that fact all these years later.

Alan Chambers Accused of Antinomian Theology

From Christianity Today‘s article, Exodus International’s Alan Chambers Accused of Antinomian Theology

Exodus International president Alan Chambers has, in the past week, explained the Orlando-based ministry’s recent U-turn on reparative therapy to everyone from The New York Times to NPR to MSNBC’s Hardball.

And while the organization’s stance remains acceptable to most evangelicals, some scholars fear that Chambers’s theological convictions—sprinkled throughout those interviews—have not.

“It’s not that he is simply not saying the warnings [against homosexual activity] in Scripture. I could live with that,” Pittsburgh Theological Seminary professor Robert Gagnon said of Chambers’s recent comments. “It’s that he is saying the exact opposite of what Scripture clearly teaches … . He’s preaching an anti-gospel.”

The theological heresy in question is antinomianism. The term was coined by Martin Luther to refer to those who believe that since faith is sufficient for salvation, Christians are not obligated to keep God’s moral law.

Gagnon, author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice and a plenary speaker at Exodus’s 2009 Freedom Conference, said that a June interview in The Atlantic shows that Chambers’s views have veered. “Some of us choose very different lives than others,” Chambers said of gay Christians in same-sex marriages. “But whatever we choose, it doesn’t remove our relationship with God.”

When asked to clarify whether or not that meant “a person living a gay lifestyle won’t go to hell, as long as he or she accepts Jesus Christ as personal savior,” he replied, “My personal belief is … while behavior matters, those things don’t interrupt someone’s relationship with Christ.” In the course of the interview, Chambers made it clear that he believes that homosexual acts are sinful.

35-page response written by Gagnon called into question not only Chambers’s soteriology, but also his ability to continue his 11-plus years of leading Exodus, which boasts some 260 affiliates domestically and internationally.

Defending his public remarks, Chambers told Christianity Today, “If someone tells me that they have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ—in the way I understand it and have experienced it—they still know Jesus regardless of what types of behavior they’ve chosen to be involved in.”

“I don’t know how anyone could call grace cheap when it cost Jesus everything,” said Chambers. “I find it disheartening that we [evangelicals] are so inconsistent and over-focused on one group of people over another. We aren’t talking about this in any other subculture of people except this one [the LGBTQ community].”

Click here to read the full article. More to come I am sure.

New York Times Reports on “Rift” Over a Gay Cure

Photo Credit: The New York Times

Please note that if it doesn’t have “quotation marks” around it then Alan didn’t actually say it the way they report he did. His actual quotes are the ones with “quotation marks” around them. Please also listen to Alan’s opening session at this year’s Exodus Freedom “Made for More” conference. His message that night is the most accurate context of his beliefs.

From The New York Times (linkage theirs):

For more than three decades, Exodus International has been the leading force in the so-called ex-gay movement, which holds that homosexuals can be “cured” through Christian prayer and psychotherapy.

Exodus leaders claimed its network of ministries had helped tens of thousands rid themselves of unwanted homosexual urges. The notion that homosexuality is not inborn but a choice was seized on by conservative Christian groups who oppose legal protections for gay men and lesbians and same-sex marriage.

But the ex-gay movement has been convulsed as the leader of Exodus, in a series of public statements and a speech to the group’s annual meeting last week, renounced some of the movement’s core beliefs. Alan Chambers, 40, the president, declared that there was no cure for homosexuality and that “reparative therapy” offered false hopes to gays and could even be harmful. His statements have led to charges of heresy and a growing schism within the network.

Alan Chambers Opening Night General Session – “Made for More”

Cross-posted from the Exodus website.

I wanted to post the audio of my opening session from the 2012 Exodus Freedom “Made for More” Conference. We have received an unprecedented amount of feedback and great encouragement regarding media attention we have received.

I am posting this because a reporter, Christian or secular, is never going to have the time and space to convey the full message I want to communicate.  As always your comments are welcome and appreciated.

Defining Exodus – Letter from Alan Chambers for June 2012

Cross-posted from the Exodus International Website.

Dear Friends,

Exodus International is repeatedly accused of seeking to make gay people straight through conversion therapy and prayer. As the media and culture rage around us, drawing battle lines in the sand and seeking to fuel the debate about homosexuality, my team and I have been working diligently to clearly state the calling of this great ministry and focus solely on that work. We want to reiterate that our mission is, first and foremost, to serve, support and equip the Church in providing refuge to individuals or families impacted by same-sex attractions (SSA).  Quite simply, our goal is to make the Church famous for loving and serving people as Jesus would and pointing them to Him.

I realize this may not be new info for some of you.  Yet, I believe it is important for everyone to hear this from me, as “all sides” are seeking to define Exodus and quite frankly, no one is doing a great job.  It’s time we set the record straight.  Pun intended.

Exodus’ Official Position on Reparative or Conversion Therapy

Cross-posted from the Exodus International website.

The California House recently passed a bill outlawing reparative therapy for youth under the age of 18. The Senate is set to vote in coming days. With the media abuzz, we have had numerous calls from news reporters across the country, asking for our opinion and position. Many others have simply mischaracterized Exodus International as a reparative therapy organization. One such instance was a newscast on an ABC affiliate  in San Francisco. The reporter stated that our “members now live heterosexual lives—many with spouses and kids—because of reparative therapy”. We have written this statement to clarify our ministry objective which highlights the mission of Exodus International.

Exodus International supports an individual’s right to self-determine as they address their personal struggles related to faith, sexuality and sexual expression.  As an organization, we do not subscribe to therapies that make changing sexual orientation a main focus or goal. Our ministry’s objective is to equip the Church to become the primary place where people of faith seek support, refuge and discipleship as they make the decision to live according to Christian principles.

We believe in a “gospel-centric” view, meaning that all people, regardless of individual life struggles, can experience freedom over the power of sin through a daily relationship with Jesus Christ, a commitment to scripture, and by being a part of a vibrant, transparent and relational community of believers found in the local church.  Exodus is partnered with more than 260 churches and support-based ministries who serve individuals and families experiencing a conflict between their faith and sexuality.

Christian Group Transcends Political Debate to Help the Church Reach People with Same-Sex Attraction

Cross-posted from the press release on the Exodus International website.

Orlando, Fla. – The furor over same-sex marriage and homosexuality has not abated in recent days as commentators continue to speak about President Obama’s remarks, legislation to ban so called gay-to-straight therapy in California, and the fallout from North Carolina’s marriage vote.

Alan Chambers, president of the 36-year-old Exodus International said, “As usual, the spotlight is shining on the furthest extremes currently engaged in a public fight. I believe it’s time for all of us to focus on the people beyond the political debate.”

While a minority of people such as North Carolina pastor Charles Worley represent the outdated and homophobic fringe of Christianity and should not be taken seriously, excellent churches like National Community Church in Washington, D.C. are drawing approximately 200 people each week to Ebenezer’s Coffee House. These individuals gather to thoughtfully discuss how the church can better care for people with same-sex attractions (SSA), those inside and outside of the church.