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Faith

The real reason you’re in school

by | 8 August 2017, 5:35 PM

What’s the big deal about entering university? I mean, most of us been through 12 or more years in the Singapore education system – isn’t college just an extension of the journey as a student?

So when I finally enrolled two years ago, to take my mind on the fact I was facing yet more mugging, I decided to throw myself into all the fun stuff. I took part in 3 camps before school started and tried things like kayaking and diving. I took it as my chance to try anything and everything I wanted to.

It should have been the best time of my life, but it … wasn’t.

First, I was starting a course that was my third choice. It wasn’t that I hated social science – it just wasn’t what I wanted to do, and didn’t sound very exciting to me. Second, I wanted to get out of school as quickly as I could – to go out and experience the world.

I didn’t know why God put me in SMU, much less the School of Social Science. I didn’t bother asking Him. I didn’t consider how He may have placed me here for something beyond just getting a degree.

But as the school days went by, God began to move, unexpectedly.

So now I’ve come to realise: I’m not just a student. I’m an ambassador for Christ, purposefully placed in my school.

I vividly remember one sociology lesson in which we discussed religions, and how cults are formed. As we argued about whether religion is real and how much of it is a social construct, my friend turned to me: “You’re a Christian right? What’s that like?”

My classmates were asking me to share Christ with them. In class! Some listened out of curiosity. Some later told me that they’ve been exploring various religions, and were especially interested in exploring Christianity.

I was stunned at how God could move. I wasn’t intentionally looking for a chance to proclaim the Good News, or actively looking for opportunities to bring my friends closer to Christ. But He made it happen.

You know how it says in Matthew 9:37-38 that “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few”? I’d always doubted it. What harvest? Where? But when classmates and school friends came forward and initiated these divine conversations, I began to believe.

So now I’ve come to realise: I’m not just a student. I’m an ambassador for Christ, purposefully placed in my school. My job is to be faithful in loving people and bringing them closer to Him.

I was so focused on what school could do for me that I forgot to consider how God is working there. Missing out on what God is doing, and simply getting through by university as quickly as possible, would be my loss.

If I could turn back time to when I first started university, I’d take more time to seek God’s purpose for me in the school. I’d change my mindset – not viewing university as just another four years of school, but learning to see the campus as my mission field.

 

/ jolene@thir.st

Jolene is inquisitive about things big and small. She loves discovering new things and giving them a shot. Her greatest love: Stuffed animals.

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“I felt like the dumbest student in school”

by Denise Soon | 17 August 2017, 2:34 PM

I grew up in a family where I was always taught that “character is more important than how well you do in school”. My parents never pressured me to get straight As. They were okay with failure as long as I’d tried my best.

But I began to heap the expectations on myself when I was in Primary 6. I didn’t do very well for my PSLE and was placed in the Normal Academic stream.

I remember crying when I received my results. My parents couldn’t understand why I was so upset with myself when they were not.

I harboured high hopes for my future, but wouldn’t do anything to achieve any of it.

When I was 13, I realised that I wanted to pursue Psychology. I had it all planned out in my head – I’d go to Ngee Ann Polytechnic, then NUS. But despite these goals, I allowed myself to be distracted from my studies in secondary school.

I harboured high hopes for my future, but wouldn’t do anything to achieve any of it.

I was busy chasing relationships, and often got into disciplinary cases for bullying, truancy and disrespecting my teachers. I became this vulgar, hot-tempered, rebellious kid. I struggled academically.

There were times when I really wanted to change and get serious about my studies, but some of my teachers, peers and even my own family would say things like “You’re from Normal Academic, you’ll never get that far,” or “You’re not the studious type, don’t expect too much.”

I remember the worst insult I received from a teacher: “You’re Denise Soon, how can someone like you ever do well in school?”

Was being Denise Soon a bad thing? Was I hopeless?

I came to know God when I was 16 and I became determined to become a better student. But it was hard: I’d never learnt how to study. Only how to play.

So I didn’t do too well for my N-levels and O-levels, and I didn’t manage to get accepted to study Psychology at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. But I was thankful that my O-level results enabled me pursue Psychology at the University at Buffalo under SIM Global.

That meant I would start university at 17. I felt inferior: Most of the students there either had an A-level certificate or a poly diploma, whereas the different path I’d taken meant I was in university straight after my O’s.

I didn’t know anyone else who was under probation. I felt like the dumbest student in school. Part of me blamed God.

Someone told me, “Even if the rest don’t do well, they have something to fall back on, but you only have your O-level cert. If you fail, what can you do? Who would want to hire you? Which other school will accept you?”

I was scared.

According to the requirements of my major, if I were to get anything below a GPA of 2.5 for my first year, I could very possibly be expelled.

I also started to get heavily involved in church at that time. I started to serve as a life group leader, an actor and creative scriptwriter in the kids’ ministry, and as a musician. I was busy juggling church commitments and school for the next 2 years. But my grades were getting worse with each passing semester.

Before my 3rd year of university, I received an email from the school telling me that I was being placed on Academic Probation.

I was scared because I was left with just one more year. I didn’t want to get expelled. I was averaging a D-grade, and my average GPA every semester had been dropping – my GPA at the end of Year 2 was 2.4.

I didn’t know anyone else who was under probation. I felt like the dumbest student in school. A part of me felt disappointed with myself for not managing my time better. Another part of me blamed God.

Where was Your grace when I needed it the most? I served You so hard – sometimes to a point where I didn’t have enough time for my studies – so how could You let this happen?

 

I had to take a long, hard look at the student that I had become. 

I realised that I put in less effort in modules I wasn’t interested in. In some semesters, it was easier to count the number of times I was present in class, instead of the number of times I was absent. I chose to scroll through Facebook, rather than my lecture slides. I’d fall asleep in class even if I wasn’t tired.

All this meant I wasn’t very good salt and light in school. How could I claim to live for Jesus if I couldn’t even show basic respect to my lecturer? How could I say that I’ve been transformed by Jesus, if the way I behave shows otherwise?

I struggled to serve in the kids ministry – I felt like a hypocrite teaching the children about Godly values if I wasn’t living them out at home or in school. I thought about stepping down.

Denise also serves as a cell group leader in the kids ministry.

I had to take a summer semester, but it came between my annual church conference and church camp. 

I had a to-do list that seemed endless. Mid-terms, final exams, term papers, a million readings – while preparing to serve on the worship team for church service and camp, and write sermons for the kids ministry.

There was one week when I had to practice 11 songs; some days I had church-related activities the day before an exam. Every week I’d question whether it was worth committing myself so much to church, at the cost of my grades.

I was afraid of prioritising God because I found it hard to trust that He would provide. I looked at my friends who weren’t in church, with more time to study, getting better grades.

I was angry and bitter. I was desperate. But I also knew that I could let the situation come between me and God – or I could let it draw me closer to Him.

So I bargained with God: If I give up my time to serve you, I expect you to help me with my grades.

I recently got back my results for my first summer semester and to my surprise, not only did I manage to pull up my GPA but I also aced my term paper and my exams with a score of 99.9%.

Looking at the results, I can confidently say that #onlyJesus could help me pull through my academic struggle. I was never one who did extremely well in my subjects; to even ace a higher level module, I knew it had to be God.

Even when I failed to trust him, He never failed me.

At this year’s church camp, what my pastor said hit me hard.

“Have we become such busy people, with so much to accomplish every day, that we’ve forgotten about the brokenness in our lives and our desperate need for a Saviour?” he challenged us.

“When something you desire directly competes against God’s desires, you deny yourself of your desire to pursue God’s desire.”

Denise at church camp this year with her SIM campus group (top) and her cell group (bottom).

I’ve learnt to trust that God will provide everything I need – so that I’m not distracted to do the real work.

I’ve learnt that I should never feel guilty for serving too hard, while worrying that God will shortchange me.

I’ve learnt that God wants to see how I make my choices. Will I choose to pursue Him or pursue my grades?

There’s a cost to going all-out for Him, but there’s also a cost to not going all-out. When I stopped to count the cost, I realised that if my studies don’t revolve around God, then what’s the point?

Jesus went all out for me. Now I must learn to do the same – not just in church, but at home and at school as well. He deserves my all. 💯

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When dad cheated on mum

by Charlotte Sim | 17 August 2017, 1:36 PM

I first discovered my dad was cheating on my mum when I was 20.

It started off with fishy images I saw him receiving on his phone. Then, he started to make morning calls every day after my mom had left for work.

I was sure he was cheating on my mom but I didn’t dare to say anything. How was I supposed to talk to my dad about this?

I was also afraid of the repercussions if the truth came to light. Knowing how emotionally attached my mom was to my dad, I feared she would mentally collapse and plunge into suicidal thoughts if she knew the truth. I was worried about how my younger siblings would take the news too.

For many years, I kept silent. The secret weighed heavily in my heart but I had no one to turn to.

I was the only believer in my family when I first came to know God in 2005. I was 13 then.

Being a Christian in a non-Christian family wasn’t easy. My parents objected to my faith; I wasn’t allowed to go to church for a year, or even leave the house on Saturdays, during service timings. My relationship with my family was strained because of this tension.

Somehow, eventually, my parents softened their stance, and they began to allow me to attend church services. I wasn’t the perfect daughter, but I believe my parents could see the gradual transformation in me as I held fast to the Gospel and continued to walk with God. 

Then, one of my sisters came to know Christ. It didn’t happen overnight; it took time, over our day-to-day conversations, before she decided to put her faith in Jesus. This encouraged me to persevere with my parents’ salvation.

For many years, I kept silent about my dad’s adultery. The secret weighed heavily in my heart but I had no one to turn to.

In December 2014, my mom attended an outreach event at my church. This was unimaginable, to me – someone who had once banned me from going to church actually agreed to step into the House of God. She received Christ that very day.

I wept as she recited the Sinner’s Prayer. The wait for my mom to know Christ had been long and arduous.

But God was far from done.

He told me – convicted me in my heart – that I needed to do something about my father’s adultery, three years after I had first found out about it.

And so, I gathered up all my courage and confronted my dad. Either he tell my mum the truth – or I would.

The entire family was thrown into turmoil when my dad confessed. My mom was livid. She wanted a divorce.

My dad went on his knees, begging for forgiveness from each of us. There was lots of screaming and shouting. Unable to face my dad any longer, my mom walked out of the house.

Thousands of thoughts flittered through my mind. Where would my mom go? Would she do something silly? What about my siblings? How are they taking the news?

Being the eldest child in the family, I had to step right into the situation and take charge even though I was just as lost, and just as afraid.

I eventually managed to find my mom. Part of me was relieved that she was physically safe. Yet the other part of me was filled with trepidation of what the future holds of my family.

She refused to go home and insisted on checking into a hotel. I accompanied her. With every step I took toward the hotel, I made a little prayer to God.

Please God, please.

I spent that night with my mom. We cried. We prayed. We listened to worship songs. This went on all night; neither of us could sleep.

The next morning, I received a text from my dad. He told me he felt the need to go church that very day.

I was surprised. He had been adamant about avoiding anything related to God and Christianity. At the end of the service, he texted me that he accepted Jesus.

I couldn’t see how God was present in the situation; I couldn’t see how He could deliver my family. But God did it.

“I used to avoid church because I felt so unworthy in front of God knowing how sinful my life was and yet not wanting to change,” he said. “But I’m now truly convinced of my sins. I’ve repented.”

My dad humbled himself and showed signs of remorse. He stopped contacting his mistress and became more involved with my family.

It wasn’t easy for my mom but she found it in her to not only forgive my dad, but also reconcile with him. They are now faithfully serving in the same church and cell group together.

I remember the years I interceded for my parents’ salvation. Many nights I fought on my knees, praying for them despite knowing the circumstances.

I only kept going because someone had once persistently done the same for me. Sometimes the harvest comes quick and easy, like with my sister; other times, so much patience is required as the fruit slowly ripens. There are even times when it feels like the tree has withered and there can be no fruit.

But we have to persevere and believe that God can do the impossible.

It took 9 years before my mom crossed the line of faith, and another 2 more before my dad received Christ. The events leading up to their conversion wasn’t easy – I couldn’t see how God was present in the situation; I couldn’t see how He could deliver my family.

But God did it. He did it. Out of adultery, and into a relationship with Him.


*The author’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

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God is at work

by Abigail Dawes | 17 August 2017, 11:35 AM

Go to work. Get frustrated. Feel like quitting. Receive monthly salary. Don’t quit. Repeat.

As a young professional barely out of university, my existence seemed to be quickly confined to this endless loop.

What had happened to all the dreams I dreamt in university as I sat in lectures? Where was the impact I was supposed to make on the world through my job, the like-minded colleagues I was supposed to have, the patient boss who would mentor me?

The reality I was living out seemed to be the polar opposite of everything I had hoped for.

I had a dream job in mind – but I failed miserably at the interview, so I ended up instead at a firm that my idealistic college self would never have considered applying for. Beggars can’t be choosers, right?

I was relieved to be offered a permanent position, but the condition was that I’d have to accept work in an area of law that I truly despised. As the job market for lawyers was so bad, I stayed.

The reality I was living out seemed to be the polar opposite of everything I had hoped for.

It was not long before I turned these frustrations on God. Why had He placed desires for greater things in my heart? Why was the road to becoming a Joseph, Daniel or Esther – purposeful overcomers in their secular realms – smoother and faster for others?

Was I not as special to Him as His other children?

I concluded that God was not interested in my career. He cared about whether I turned up for prayer meetings, cell group and served in the worship team faithfully, but when it came to my workplace, I was on my own.

This conclusion on God’s intentions for my life meant that a line in the sand had been drawn between my spiritual life and work. God’s power was available for one but not the other.

One Sunday, I heard my pastor recount a season in his working life, before he became a full-time minister.

As a young employee, he did not have any influence over policies or directives, and was surrounded by senior officers who operated with a very different set of values from his.

They did things that were not ethical and also persecuted him for standing his ground. But as my pastor began to pray and intercede for his workplace, doing his best at his job as well as church ministry, he began to see changes.

He found favour with his bosses, saw “toxic” colleagues transferred to other departments and started to receive God’s direction for his day-to-day work, which gave him an edge over his peers.

It struck a chord in my heart. I wanted the same for my life – I needed God in my here and now. The God of the desert and the valley, the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.

The Heavenly Father who gets right in there with you, in the muck and dreariness of life, and in His still small voice whispers hope for each new day and faith for the final prize of life (1 Corinthians 9:24).

From that day, my perspective shifted and my heart opened again.

The Heavenly Father gets right in there with you, in the muck and dreariness of life, and in His still small voice whispers hope for each new day.

I started praying for my bosses and my colleagues. I would get to work early to pray over my office space – declaring that the whole place belonged to God. I would sing over myself the call of God and His desires for my life. I found strength to serve the boss that my colleagues despised.

Was it a struggle? Sure. But I found myself able to do something that I could not even have imagined doing before.

Every piece of work that came my way, whether or not it was my cup of tea, I would undertake with the revelation that I was serving the unseen God behind my boss.

I accepted each piece of work, every interaction with a difficult colleague or superior, as a stepping stone to my destiny.

In the struggle to find meaning in my workplace, I learnt that we don’t always have to be Prime Minister Joseph to have influence (Genesis 41:37-41) – we can be Prisoner Joseph too (Genesis 39:20-23).

The Lord needs change agents in every echelon of the corporate ladder.

You don’t have to do anything super Christian to shift the atmosphere of your workplace. It’s as simple as living out our faith as Jesus taught us to, such as loving those who are difficult and unloveable (Matthew 5:43-48) or lending a hand for a project that will never be credited to you (Matthew 6:1-4).

We can be change agents of the spiritual and physical climate of our workplace. Our colleagues may never expressly say it but they most surely will feel it.

We should also be prepared for opposition wherever we’re placed – but we should only move when the Lord tells us to. Every job change should be a Spirit-led decision, not a frustration-led one.

We can’t delude ourselves into thinking that God only leads us to beds of roses. Remember Joseph’s prison cell, or Daniel’s den of lions.

Why? It’s not about the circumstances we find ourselves in. God is more interested in shaping our character. We can be used only to the extent that we have been moulded – and the marketplace is one of the best places for this to happen.

When David was anointed as the next king of Israel at the age of 16, what ensued was not a straight and easy path up the “corporate ladder”.

David had to work under and submit to an insecure King Saul, have his kindness repaid with ungratefulness, deal with “office politics”, and prove his worth in leading military missions – for us, it could be unwanted assignments our boss sends our way.

It was only 14 years later that David became King. Before he set foot in the palace of the kings, he had to be moulded in the valley of death.

The path to greatness requires endurance, perseverence, knowing the ways God can work at every step of the process.

Eventually, the work that I had once thought would get me nowhere led me to taking up a position I never dreamed would open up for me – in a government Ministry, practising the type of law that I had dreamt about in those lectures.

Am I the boss now? No. Have I been tapped as the next big thing in law? No. Am I drawing a six-figure salary? No.

But I feel and believe that I have unlocked so much more than just that. More than mere title, prestige or money.

What is the more that you’re searching for?

I am part of the committee of The Vanguard Movement Conference, a half-day conference for young adults who want to know the plan God has for them in their career.

We are just like you. We don’t profess to have it all together, but we are on the same journey, the same struggles, the same crises of identity – but most importantly, we are all sons and daughters of God.

We desire to see God move in even mightier ways in the workplace than what we have already seen.

The Vanguard Movement aims to equip every believer – to bring God into their place of assignment and sphere of influence.

To help you know God’s heart for your future, career and ministry, and shift your perspective on how to be a follower of Christ in the marketplace.

To help you move from survival mode to becoming a movement leader.

From surviving to thriving.


To sign up for The Vanguard Movement or to find out more, please visit their event details page.

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Why is it so hard to have Quiet Time?

by | 16 August 2017, 4:49 PM

Imagine you are doing poorly at a subject in school. (Maybe some of you don’t have to work too hard to imagine this.)

Maybe you keep failing your exams. You may even be thinking of quitting school – to put you out your misery. Maybe you’re forced to attend tuition in the faint hope that something might change if you would only go through the motions.

Yet you refuse to put the quality time in. You take the textbook out of your schoolbag, and almost immediately put it back in again. The Teacher hasn’t even opened his mouth, and you’ve already upped and left the lecture theatre.

If I love God without knowing what is on His heart — without even knowing Him — then what is my faith really made of?

For so many of us, this might be the picture of our Quiet Time. How many of us can really spend unhurried time with God? I’ll be really honest: There are many days where I find it incredibly difficult to just sit still. I often can’t wait to get QT over with — can’t wait to depart to the day’s next thing.

“Desire without knowledge is not good — how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” (Proverbs 19:2)

In such times I might feel like I’m walking with God. But in truth, if I love God without knowing what is on His heart — without even knowing Him — then what is my faith really made of?

Just like we can’t build strong relationships on one-liners, rather than deep conversations, we can’t know God when we give Him just 5 minutes a day. If at all.

FAITH IS LIKE A MUSCLE

Quiet time is about discipline. You know the jargon: Faith is like a muscle — when we use it, God makes it strong.

To extend the metaphor, quiet time is like going to the gym. Some of us can’t wait to get in there — we need that hour. That time in the room strengthens us for the day; indeed, for life.

But some of us aren’t quite there yet, and I’m one of them. There are many days where opening my Bible and being still before God feels like dragging myself to the gym in the morning. There’s just such great inertia. Why? My faith-muscle feels too small to lift the weight of discipline and really seek God.

“Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.” (Revelation 3:2)

This warning to the church in Sardis jumped out at me as I read it. There are days where my faith-muscle feels so dry and shrivelled up, you might think it’s atrophied. Dead.

How desperately I need God in my struggle against laziness and sloth.

Perhaps I look at the other facets of my faith — active service in the body-life, vibrant prayer-life — and count them to myself as righteousness. In truth, and it pains me to say this, I might often be just ticking boxes elsewhere. The Laodicean church reminded me of my own heart:

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)

I lie to myself: This is good enough. How Satan loves to lie to us, telling us that mediocrity is good enough. “Good enough” isn’t good enough. Lukewarmness isn’t good enough.

How desperately I need God in my struggle against laziness and sloth.

ALONE AND AWAY

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.” (Matthew 14:23)

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place.” (Mark 1:35)

I feel like the least qualified person to talk about prayer, personal time spent with God. Ultimately, I can’t make you spend unhurried time with Him, any more than you could make me. But as for me, I’ve resolved to spend unhurried time alone with God. Just Him and I.

I must.

/ gabriel@thir.st

Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.

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How to create a safer church community for people with same-sex attraction

by Raphael Zhang | 16 August 2017, 4:27 PM

I’ve been a Christian for 24 years – and lived with same-sex desires for nearly 20 of them.

A few years ago, the Lord convicted my heart that it was not part of His will for me to act on my same-sex desires. Since then, He has led me on a journey of deeper healing and pursuit of holiness.

Though I no longer identify myself as “gay”, I still experience attraction to men. There isn’t a day I’m not aware of it. I know in my mind that it is not to be acted upon, and I choose with my will to obey God.

Christians are rightly concerned about how they can show love and truth to same-sex attracted people in their church. Having experienced both sides of the fence, I’d like to share from my experience what you can do to make church a safer community for those with same-sex attraction.

HOW TO CREATE A HEALING CHURCH

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a few helpful pointers to get you started …

1. Show me love that’s real

We’re told to “not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

If you know someone with same-sex attraction, be genuinely interested in them as a friend, and not as a project that needs to have their homosexual desires changed to heterosexual desires. When I told my Christian friends that I experienced same-sex desires, they interacted with me just as they did before – and I deeply appreciated that.

Like anyone else, same-sex attracted people wouldn’t like to be viewed as a “special” case and treated any differently.

Be genuinely interested in someone with same-sex attraction as a friend, and not as a project that needs to have their homosexual desires changed to heterosexual desires.

Another way of demonstrating love: When you see same-sex attracted people being singled out for ridicule, stand up for them. Don’t make or laugh at “gay jokes”. As a Christian with gay desires, I really needed to know who in the church would accept me and be safe for me to be myself.

I’ve heard Christians laugh at such jokes, and even though they weren’t the ones cracking the joke, my perception was that they would also be willing to ridicule people like me. It was hurtful and made me feel that they were unsafe people for me to come out to. So I resolved to hide this part of my life from them, for fear of being rejected. That helps no one.

2. See me as a whole person

People with same-sex attraction, like heterosexual people, are more than just their sexuality. Don’t make it that big of a deal or the only issue whenever you talk to them.

Instead, encourage same-sex attracted people to grow in the strengths and talents that God has given them – just as you would any other brother or sister in Christ.

I was grateful that Christians with whom I confided my sexuality didn’t focus only on this one aspect about me, but viewed me holistically as a person.

3. Offer to walk with me after I’ve shared my story with you

After a same-sex attracted person shares his or her story with you, give your assurance that you’ll honour the confidentiality of what they told you. They came out to you, and not to someone else. Therefore, value and reciprocate the trust they have put in you.

Also, if they have shared any struggles with you, offer to walk with them. Your invitation may be turned down – but at least you offered! If I pluck up the courage and take the risk of sharing my homosexual struggles, I’d hope that someone would reach out to me. If no one does, I would be left wondering if I should not have shared at all.

Don’t make such a big deal out of it, but don’t completely ignore it either. We confided in you for a reason.

4. Leaders, share your struggles, especially in the area of sexuality

If you’re a church leader in any capacity — whether you’re a pastor, zone mentor, ministry leader, cell group leader, and so on — you can help to create a culture in which everyone, heterosexual or homosexual, will feel safer confessing their struggles, and hopefully sharing their testimonies.

Speak on all aspects of sexuality. Affirm the goodness and beauty of God’s design even as you talk about how all deviations from it — heterosexual or homosexual — cause brokenness.

When you take the lead in vulnerably sharing your struggles, especially those in the area of sexuality, it assures me that I can do the same, too. Not only that, when those of us with same-sex attraction hear you share about your journey toward holiness in your sexuality, we’re encouraged that we’re not the only ones who have to work out this journey toward wholeness in Christ.

5. Leaders, have ongoing conversations about all aspects of sexuality

Again, if you’re a leader, don’t single out homosexuality as the only topic of concern in the area of sexuality. If you do that, it makes me and others with same-sex desires feel like only we have an especially heavy cross to bear, and no one else seems to need to carry that heavy a cross.

That would feel rather unnecessarily discouraging and burdensome (Matthew 23:4).

Instead, speak on all aspects of sexuality — on God’s intent for family and marriage, and deviations from it, like pornography, masturbation, pre-marital sex, cohabitation, extra-marital affairs, et cetera, alongside homosexuality. Affirm the goodness and beauty of God’s design even as you talk about how all deviations from it — heterosexual or homosexual — cause brokenness.

When you do that, whether from the pulpit or in Christian education classes or cell group, you show people with same-sex attraction that you’re concerned for everyone’s discipleship in their sexuality.

It also helps me and others like me to understand that every one of us has a different cross to carry, and that in our journeying toward holiness, we can support and love one another by “bearing one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

I hope these pointers are useful to you in navigating how to show the grace and truth of Jesus Christ to those who are same-sex attracted in your church. If you need wisdom, know that you can always “ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach” (James 1:5), and He will enable you to be and to build a safe and loving community to them.


Did you find the read helpful? If you would like to receive regular news and encouragement for your faith + family, subscribe here! This article was first published on Whole Life and republished with permission. Held on August 23 and 24, Whole Life Symposium: Sexuality reValued will examine the space where sexuality intersects biblical worldviews. Get a group discount when 4 or more people register together.

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