Lessons Learned

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Lessons Learned Moving From Homosexuality Into Holiness Facilitator’s Guide By: Tammy Webb-Witholt Communications should be addressed to: Turning Point Ministries, Inc. P. O. Box 22127 Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127 Phone: 1-800-879-4770 Email: info@livingfree.org Unless otherwise identified, Scripture quotations in this volume are from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Other Scripture quotations marked KJV are from the King James Version of the Bible. Those identified TLB are from The Living Bible, and those identified PHILLIPS are from the New Testament in Modern English, J. B. Phillips, translator. The Scripture quotations marked THE MESSAGE are taken from The Message, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

©Turning Point Ministries, 2006. All rights reserved. All rights are reserved. No part of the material protected by this copyright notice may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the Turning Point Ministries.

ISBN 1-58119-069-7

Tammy Webb-Witholt

Layout: Louise Lee

Tammy was raised in Nigeria, West Africa, by her missionary parents. Though she was called into ministry at the age of eighteen, she spent the next eleven years as a prodigal and in her rebellion entered into the subculture of drugs and homosexuality. In 1990, she discovered the redeeming power of God’s love. Tammy graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1991 and began studies at Asbury Seminary. In 2004, she married longtime friend Wolter Witholt. They live in Springfield, Massachusetts. Together they lead small groups and teach bible studies telling others about the joy of the gospel.


Lessons Learned Moving From Homosexuality Into Holiness

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ontents Page

Preface

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Getting Started

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Suggested Group Format • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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Session 1

— Rebel With a Cause

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Session 2

— Identity Crisis—Identity Christ? • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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Session 3

— Back Into the Closet

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Session 4

— Minding the Mind, Part 1: Embracing the Truth • • • • • • •

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Session 5

— Minding the Mind, Part 2: Fantasy Island • • • • • • • • • •

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Session 6

— The Please-Like-Me’s

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Session 7

— I Stand in Awe of You . . . and You . . . and You • • • • • • •

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Session 8

— The Enough-Is-Enough Authority • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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Session 9

— There Is More • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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A Plan of Salvation

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Group Guidelines

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References

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Preface To the Lessons Learned Group Moving From Homosexuality Into Ho liness can sound like a daunting phrase, but it is intended to convey the concept that the goal is not to move from homosexuality into heterosexuality. The goal of our lives as followers of Christ is to come into His holiness. Heterosexuality is not holiness. There are many individuals living in unhealthy, sinful heterosexual brokenness. The goal of this workbook and this journey of faith in Christ, whatever the depth of our brokenness—sexual or otherwise, is not merely to stop being one thing in order to become another. The goal of each day is to grow toward Christ. As we do this, God by the power of His Holy Spirit and the truth of His Holy Word transforms us into a new creation. Hence, the idea of being born again—I love the idea that Christ used this phrase in John 3. When we hold a newborn baby in our arms, we do not intend for that infant to mature into adulthood overnight. We embrace the process and the seasons of the growing child’s life. The word holiness is used in the truest definition of the word holy, meaning to be set apart for God. Do not be put off by images of pious people walking with their hands folded and their faces aglow. The awesome truth of holiness is that it exists in the midst of earthly reality. The evidence of this is found in the fact that God, the Holy of holies, came to earth as Immanuel. He clothed himself in humanity so that we might know what true love and true holiness are. To be holy is to be set apart for God and no longer conformed to our culture but transformed by His presence and truth

in our lives. As I write the chapters of this book, I hope it will set you on a path toward discovering God’s perfect plan for your life. My prayer is that you will encounter His love and that my experience and the truths I learned along the way might prove beneficial for each person who participates in these sessions. I hope the foundational truths that brought me out of brokenness and into wholeness will also become foundational for you. Contained in these pages are simple yet profound lessons that God taught me over the course of ten years as I determined to run this race and throw off the sin that hindered me. Was it easy? No, at times it was painful and difficult. Many days I was tempted to throw in the towel, but the verse in Hebrews 12 reminded me that for “the joy set before him [He] endured the cross” (v2). He endured the shame and the pain of the cross for me. I was never content with the belief that I had reached the zenith of what God had. There was always a voice daring me to press in further and to reach beyond my limitations and discover all God had for those who were willing to deny themselves and endure the journey. Perhaps it was just the verse in 1 Corinthians 2:9 that kept me in the fight: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” We have not come to discuss the arguments of our society, but we have gathered together to study God’s Word and to accept it in its entirety with its blessings, promises, and commands. This work-

Facilitator’s Guide: The Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

book deals entirely with biblical and spiritual principles. I suggest you build a foundation with these principles. Then you can build on that foundation with psychologi-

To be holy is to be set apart for God and no longer conformed to our culture but trans formed by His pres ence and truth in our lives. cal truths and practical behavioral adjustments. Although I have found all of this extra information helpful, I praise God that my foundation was built on the unshakable truth of His Word. A wealth of resources exists dealing with behavioral and psychological factors that contribute to homosexuality, but the primary purpose of this group is to equip participants with the foundational truths from God’s Word upon which all other truths can be built. We live in a broken and fallen world; our brokenness extends to the depths of our emotions, our souls, and our sexuality. Brokenness may be manifested in many ways. Homosexuality is just one of those ways. See page 67 for Group Guide lines. This will be helpful in maintaining proper boundaries in the group.

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Getting Started Group Size We suggest that each Lessons Learned group have two group leaders (facilitators) and a maximum of 12 participants. Having more than 12 may prevent some from being a part of much needed discussion. Preparation Time The facilitator’s material is written in an almost word-for-word dialogue. However, it is hoped that as you come to know and understand the concepts presented, you will be able to “personalize” each session to better fit your own style. Highlight the points you want to emphasize and make notes for yourself. Your group is unique—so adapt questions to their needs and situations. Be sensitive to each person who is in your group. Keep in mind that the answers provided in the leader’s guide for the discussion questions are there only as a tool to assist you and may not be the only “right” answers to the questions being asked. Become thoroughly familiar with the four elements of each session: • Introduction • Self-Awareness • Spiritual Awareness • Application You will find more detail about these on the following page. The facilitat o rs should meet prior to each session to pray and make final plans. They should also meet briefly after each session to discuss wh at happened during the meeting and go over any fo l l ow-up that may be needed.

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The Lessons Learned Group Member Guides Before Session 1, Lessons Learned group member guides should be distributed to each group member. Facilitators should be thoroughly familiar with the material before the first meeting. Encourage group members to complete the appropriate assignments prior to each group meeting. Through the readings and other exercises in the Group Member Guide, group members can come to each session better prepared for meaningful discussion. Correlation Between Facilitator’s Guide and Group Member’s Guide Facilitator’s Guide — This guide is designed to lead the group through the four-phase small group format. The facilitator’s responsibility is to start the discussion, give it direction, and thereafter simply keep the discussion personal and on track. The text is presented in the left column. The right column contains tips and pointers for leading the group, along with answers to questions. The facilitator will prayerfully select questions because there are usually more questions than time permits.

and a go-around question; the Group Member’s Guide focuses on devotions for the week as a part of preparation for the up-coming session. Self-Awareness, Spiritual Awareness, and Application are the same in both guides except for the added notes in the grey area of the Facilitator’s Guide. Group Member’s Guide — This guide is designed to be done as homework preparing the participant for meaningful ministry during the small group session. Although the general text is the same as Self-Awareness, Spiritual Awareness, and Application in the Facilitator’s Guide, concentration should be on the group process during the actual group experience. It is good for the participant to bring the Group Member’s Guide to the group session; however, the participant should be more attentive to the group process rather than trying to find text or written answers in the Group Member’s Guide. Each group member should bring a Bible for meaningful study and application of God’s Word for daily living. In a Nutshell — The Facilitator’s Guide is designed to lead the group process through Lessons Learned. The Group Member’s Guide will prepare the participant for the group meeting.

Although the text is presented in the Group Member’s Guide, it may not in some cases be word for word as in the Facilitator’s Guide. For example, the Introductions are different in the two guides. The Facilitator’s Guide is directed toward opening prayer

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Suggested Group Format The group format for each session consists of four elements: Introduction, Self-Awareness, Spiritual Awareness, and Application. There is a reason for each phase. The facilitators should always plan each session with this format in mind. Part I Introduction (10 minutes) Begin with prayer. The facilitator may pray or may ask one of the group members to lead in prayer. After the prayer, a sharing question helps put the group at ease and makes the members more comfortable in being a part of the discussion. The lead facilitator should respond to the sharing question first, followed by the co-facilitator. This helps the group members to feel safer in participating in the exercise. After the facilitators have shared, the group members will share one after another around the circle. Always remind group members they are not expected to share if they do not wish to do so. The rule is that everyone works within his or her comfort level and is welcome to pass. This is not the time for detailed conversation, so ask the members of the group to keep their comments brief. If a person is obviously in pain during the exercise, the facilitator should interrupt the sharing and pray for the person in pain. After prayer, the exercise may resume.

Part II Self-Awareness (20-25 minutes) After the sharing question, the facilitator will lead the group into the Self-Awareness phase. Self-Awareness is a time to discuss the practical issues involved in Lessons Learned. It is important to stay on the subject matter. This is a time to focus on needs and healing, not to have a martyr or pity party. It is suggested in Self-Awareness that the facilitators ask the group members to share as they wish rather than going around the circle as in the Introduction phase. This is because people are at various comfort levels, and they should not feel pressured to self-disclose if they are uncomfortable. As the group continues to meet, members will feel more and more comfortable in being a part of the discussion. Remember, prayer is always in order. If a group member is hurting during this phase, stop and pray. One of the facilitators may lead in prayer or ask another group member to pray. This says to the group members that each one is important and that you care about each individual.

facilitator should assign Scriptures listed in the Facilitator’s Guide to group members. When each Scripture is called by the facilitator, the group member should read the verse(s). After the verses are read, give time for discussion. Part IV Application (20 minutes) This part is actually a continuation of Part III. Ask for volunteers to share their reflections on the question. The facilitators should emphasize the importance of the group members’ applying biblical principles to their lives. Help begins with right thinking. The Bible says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Obedience to the Word should follow with right behavior. Right feelings will follow right thinking and right behavior.

Part III Spiritual Awareness (20-25 minutes) After the Self-Awareness phase, the facilitator will lead the group into the Bible study time. Having briefly explained the topic, the

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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1

Session

I

Rebel With a Cause

ntroduction

Allow 10 Minutes

“When the heart is right it loves godly rule and finds freedom in obedience” (Taylor, p. 359).

Thank God for His love and that He has called us to reach beyond our limitation and discover that through Christ all things are possible. Thank God for His endless love and pray that as we discover what it means to truly love God, we will also come to understand how much He loves us. (Pray Ephesians 3:16-19.)

Opening Prayer

Group Member Devotional Reading prior to this session: Ephesians 3

Sharing Question Welcome to the Lessons Learned group. I would like to begin this first session by having each of us in the group introduce ourselves. I will start by telling you that my name is…

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Session 1

Have each member of the group introduce themselves. Ask them to briefly define their reason for coming to the group and what they hope to get out of this experience. The facilitator should begin the go-around.

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


S

elf-Awareness

Allow 20–25 Minutes

The purpose of this course is to identify areas of our life that keep us in behavioral and relational patterns which may prevent us from becoming who God created us to be. In the next eight sessions, we will explore the scriptural truths about who we are in Christ. The truth of His Word and His Holy Spirit will enable us to embrace the reality of old destructive patterns and exchange them for what God has ordained for us as His children. I saw the movie Rebel Without a Cause starring James Dean when I was in my mid-twenties—many years after the movie’s 1955 debut. As I watched the story of a young man who defied anyone in a position of authority, I found I closely identified with him. I too hated authority; within my culture, rebellion was glamorized and the word authority was offensive. After all, what is authority if it is not something to be questioned or challenged? What effect does the word rebel have on you?

Personal response. I related to it.

What effect does the word authority have on you?

Personal response. I bristled at the thought.

The difference between the character in the James Dean movie and those who have struggled with Same Sex Attraction (SSA) is that we have a cause. We have defied society and the church and all who made us feel like second-class citizens. We rebelled against the culture of Christians who rejected us and failed to make the church a safe place for our confessions. We joined others and we created a cause: “We are just like you. We laugh, cry, and bleed— just like you. We refuse to be treated like outsiders; you must accept us.” Our voice was heard; our cause gained ground. But behind the cause and the signs stood individuals, glad to be heard but longing to be filled in that empty place deep down inside. We drifted in and out of relationships and occasionally our needs were met and healing would come, but then the emptiness returned. Our encounter with Christ’s love changed everything as we placed our faith in Him and invited Him into our lives. And then He called us to true discipleship: “He must deny himself…and follow me” (Mark 8:34). “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” (John 14:23 emphasis added). What effect does the word obedience have on you?

Personal response. Fearful, obstinate, excited

In what circumstances is it easy?

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

Easy to obey when one is with a community that encourages a commitment to Christ. Session 1

5


What circumstances make obedience difficult?

It is difficult to obey when one is with those who encourage the opposite or else try to justify sin by twisting the truth of God’s Word.

Are we naturally more inclined to obey or rebel?

Some of us have been people pleasers all our life; even so, in our heart we are rebels. Others of us are openly rebellious and defiant. And some have had a change of heart and sincerely desire to obey. We must honestly evaluate ourselves.

Can you think of any experience where you obeyed and the results surprised you?

Personal response. Perhaps when you were young and a caregiver told you to do (or not do) something. Though you did not want to, you obeyed and things went much better in the end.

I distinctly remember the prayer I prayed the day I decided to leave everything that made me feel secure and follow Him. I looked up into the brilliant blue sky and though confusion still clouded my mind, I made a commitment to follow Christ—totally. My “gayness” had defined me for over eight years. When I first entered into the “gay world,” I was ecstatically happy. I felt as though I had finally come home. I found a deep sense of belonging and a family of friends who embraced me and my homosexuality. I had several fulfilling relationships. But when I found myself alone again, I would continue my quest to find the love of my life. Then I thought I found that person. We became good friends and then lovers. I was convinced this was the one. The relationship brought security, laughter, and healing. As we prepared to make a long-term commitment, the relationship abruptly ended. The pain that had been anesthetized returned in full force. When my depression subsided, I resumed the familiar cycle of parties and dating, and I began to look for someone new. Early one morning after I left a bar, I was confronted with the irony of my life and the life of a friend who was dying of AIDS. In different ways, both of us were in a struggle to stay alive and both of us were looking for the “love of our life.” I called out to God on his behalf and then I called out for myself. As I began to pray, it was as if a dam broke in my heart. I confessed my sins but told God I could not change who I was so He should not get His hopes up. I needed Him, but I was not going to pretend to be something I was not. I promised to do two things: read the Bible and attend church once a week. Though it was a small step toward God, He—like the Father in the story of the prodigal in Luke 15:11-32—ran toward me. My intention was to read scripture with an analytical eye, but soon the words came to life and penetrated my heart (Hebrews 4:12). As I read scripture, I was confronted with God’s love and law. Though I 6

Session 1

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


tried, I could not make the Bible say what I needed it to say. I prayed, “Okay, God, I still feel like a homosexual! I don’t know how to follow you in obedience. But beyond my questions and my confusion, I’ll leave it all.” That evening I ended the relationship I was in and received this response: “You can’t get out of this; no one ever gets out.” This response seemed like the words of a drug dealer, not a friend. “Help me, God.” And He did.

Spiritual Awareness Lead–In When I came to Christ, will and grace came face-to-face. My will encountered His grace. My will stood obstinate and resistant; and His grace stood patiently, hands extended in mercy and arms open wide in love. Many Bible verses speak of obedience. Our ultimate response to these verses is embedded in our view of God. That is why the prayer from Ephesians 3:16-19 is such an important one to pray. I have prayed it for myself repeatedly over the years. Once we understand how deep God’s love is, then we will no longer see His law as a list of endless, unattainable rules. We will understand that He has a plan that exceeds our own and we can trust Him because His love is limitless. Why is obedience important if we are going to grow in our relationship with Christ?

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

God is all-knowing. He has a plan for us, and we can trust Him. We must obey if we are to grow.

Session 1

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S

piritual-Awareness

Allow 20–25 Minutes

In the Bible the word love appears three times as frequently as obey, and sometimes they appear together. A friend of mine says it this way, “God spells love, O-B-E-Y.” The importance of obedience is an impossible truth to escape. If we love Him, we will obey Him. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Most everyone accepts some authority. Why do we accept the Bible as God’s authority?

Deuteronomy 28:1-2, Joshua 1:7, Luke 11:28 There are benefits to obedience. What promises exist for those who obey? 1 Samuel 12:15 What does scripture say about rebellion and obedience?

1 Samuel 15:22 Why would God say, “To obey is better than sacrifice”?

John 14:15-24 Jesus is concerned about obedience. What do these verses say about obedience?

We are promised blessing in ways that exceed our limited thinking.

His hand is against those who rebel, but His favor is upon the obedient.

Because we may try to gain God’s favor with big offerings or acts of service.

If we love God, we will obey Him. We cannot have it both ways.

Acts 5:29, Galatians 1:10 What significance does the concept “obey God rather than men” have?

Many voices pull us in different directions.

Galatians 5:7-8 This is a question we can all ask ourselves: “Whose voice do I listen to?”

My culture, my friends, my lovers, etc.

How do we distinguish the good from the bad?

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All Scripture is God-breathed, written by man, inspired by God. I do not have the luxury of picking and choosing what I consider to be of God.

Session 1

The good voices will never be in conflict with God’s Word.

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Ephesians 1:17-23 Why does Paul pray for wisdom, revelation, and enlightenment?

A

pplication

So that we might know God better and the eyes of our heart be opened to see the hope and possess the power that is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. (Oh, God, resurrect us!)

Allow 20 Minutes

The Word of God is clear about obedience and how it relates to the Christian walk. Obedience is not optional. In a world where there is no authoritative truth, we must resolve to accept the Word of God as the authority in our lives and determine to submit and obey even in the areas that make no sense. We must determine not to dance around the truth even though we may feel powerless in our ability to obey. Let us take inventory of our lives and honestly evaluate ourselves in light of God’s endless and merciful love (Jeremiah 31:3).

If you are not comfortable voicing your responses, write them down. Some may want to volunteer their answers.

What keeps us from obeying?

Personal response. • My attitude (I deserve this relationship). • My anger against God (If this is not permissible, then why did He allow the factors of my childhood to be what they were?). • Not admitting to my rebellion and unwilling to explore its roots.

Read Matthew 26:41 and 1 Corinthians 10:13. How do these verses about temptation relate to obedience?

We are to stay alert to situations that are “danger zones” for us. If we continually place ourselves in the way of temptation, we will find it difficult to walk in obedience. Temptation is always the door that leads us into disobedience. Some temptations are unexpected, but some others we seek out and find (playing with fire).

What are specific situations in our lives that we should avoid in order to walk in obedience?

Personal response.

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

Session 1

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What attachments exist in our life that cause us to return to places of temptation?

The good news is that He not only called us to obey but gives us the tools that will enable us to succeed. Read 2 Peter 1:3-4, 2 Timothy 1:7, 1 Peter 1:13-16.

Personal response. • Attachments to people. We become emotionally dependent upon them; we become obsessed with them; we can name our danger zone. • Some places should be avoided. Go fifty miles out of the way if you must to avoid the road certain establishments are on. • Avoid parks and certain areas of town. • Beware of attachments to the segments of the gay culture that are glamorized and alluring.

What are specific actions that could help you move toward obedience?

Personal response.

Write down your commitment to these actions as a prayer.

Personal response. Ask for volunteers to share their actions.

Closing Prayer Thank God that He is our loving Father. State the desire to love Him through our obedience. Ask Him to forgive our defiance and to help us see things as they really are so that we might walk in total obedience. Acknowledge that God is holy and submit to His Word. Pray for wisdom and power so that all of us might become the persons God created us to be and not the persons we are destined to be without Him.

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Session 1

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


2 Identity Crisis—Identity Christ?

Session

I

ntroduction Only in the context of grace can we face our sin; only in the place of healing do we dare show our wounds; only with a single-minded attention to Christ can we give up our clinging fears and face our own true nature. As we come to realize that it is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us, that he is our true self, we can slowly let our compulsions melt away and begin to experience the freedom of the children of God (Nouwen, p. 20).

Opening Prayer

Allow 10 Minutes Group Member Devotional Reading prior to this session: John 8 John 16 1 Corinthians 6

Thank God and acknowledge that He wants the best for our lives. Thank Him for the individuals who have embarked upon this journey to discover who they are in Christ and praise Him for their courage. Pray that the eyes of all will be open to see God’s truth.

Sharing Question

S

What definitive words would you use to explain who you are?

Open the discussion with this question and allow several people to explain what words come to mind when they think of their identity. Example answers: Intelligent, pretty, witty, cute, stupid, ugly, clueless, loner, socialite, dramatic, generous, kind, etc.

elf-Awareness

Allow 20–25 Minutes

If you had asked me if I was born gay, I would have given you a resounding “yes.” I considered this as unchangeable as the fact that my hair was blonde and eyes blue or that I was raised in Africa by missionary parents and lived at a boarding school from the age of seven. I did nothing to choose these factors just as I had not chosen to be attracted to people of the same sex.

The goal of this session is to make the participants aware of what most defines them. It is significant for them to think differently about their identity. Rather than thinking, I am gay, or even, ex-gay, participants need to realize that their homosexual struggles do not define them. God redefines them as followers of Christ, according to His purposes. This shift in thinking may be difficult as the “gay world” has been glamorized and the church vilified. This chapter will convey that as we identify with Christ, He defines who we are.

Now I know I was not born gay, and I am not defined by the fact that I lived as a homosexual. When I came to God, He redefined me as a follower of Christ. Some scientific research has tried to find a “gay gene” but has failed: In July of 1993, five researchers led by Dean Hamer at the National Cancer Institute released a study in which the researchers attempted to find what has become known as the “gay gene.” Hamer, himself a gay man, commented, “The environment also played a role in sexual orientation, as it does in most, if not all behaviors.” Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

Session 2

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Regarding the same study Hamer admitted that they did not “isolate a ‘gay gene’ ” and they “never found a single family in which homosexuality was distributed in the obvious pat t e rn (Hamer and Copeland, pp. 82, 104, 147). “Homosexuality is not purely genetic...environmental factors play a role. There is not a single master gene that makes people gay...I don’t think we will ever predict who will be gay” (Byrd, et al. http://www.narth.com/docs/innate.html). Like most young children, I sought the attention of older kids of the same sex, but as I entered my teens, these attractions did not change. In fact, they grew stronger. In high school I found myself physically attracted to my close friends. My feelings scared me, so I denied their existence and pushed them deep inside in an effort to hide how I felt. In college I began to abuse substances and date lots of individuals of the opposite sex in an effort to become the person I thought I was supposed to be. These relationships were unhealthy and short-lived. By the time I was twenty-one, I decided it was time to face the feelings I had avoided for so long: I embraced my gay identity and immersed myself into the gay world. How would you describe the time when you came to terms with your same-sex attraction?

Personal response.

How would you describe your relationship with your parents, particularly your father?

Personal response.

Studies have repeatedly shown that being disconnected from fathers, either physically or emotionally, often contributes to feelings of homosexuality among both genders (NARTH). Like many in the homosexual community, I was sexually violated at a young age. The attacker was a very young man who lived nearby. My memories are fragmented, but my heart remembered the fear and pain for a long time. My response was so extreme that I unknowingly established a code of survival: Boys are mean and cannot be trusted. That false belief dominated the way I saw all males for a long time. At boarding school, I added the belief that girls are weak and in order to survive, I had to be tough and boyish. My false beliefs became the cornerstones of a survival identity. As an adult, this identity included my homosexuality. As Kathy Koch writes in her book, Finding Authentic Hope and Wholeness, “Without knowing what is true about God and who he made us to be, we can find ourselves passively wallowing in our weaknesses or submerging ourselves in sin” (p. 16). One of the consistent findings in the background of homosexuals is the apparent disruption in the parent-child relationship within the first few years of life (Schmidt, p. 144). 12

Session 2

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Provided there is no sexual abuse, most of us are not awakened sexually until adolescence. However, if our normal sexual development has been disrupted, our emotional needs begin to dictate actions based upon areas of brokenness. Individuals who struggle with homosexuality often admit they experienced abuse or molestation. “Studies…have found a disproportionate extent of sexual abuse in the childhoods of adult homosexuals” (Wagstaff). What false beliefs did you develop that became a code you learned to live by?

Personal response. Actual male responses: “Straight men are crude, have bad taste in clothes, and spit.” “To be loved by my dad, I need to be a girl.”

Our culture is in the midst of an identity crisis. Whether you are male or female, you must grasp this truth: Society influences but does not define masculinity or femininity—only God defines it.

Actual female responses: “My dad always wanted a son, so I became the son he never had.” “Straight women are weak and pushed around by everyone. I’ll never become that; besides, I hate tea parties.”

Spiritual Awareness Lead–In Remember that as a means of survival, many of the participants have depended upon their established identities because these identities have often protected them from a world that rejected them. In order to let go of these identities, it is important to establish that God has a better plan and that He is worthy of our trust.

Read Proverbs 3:5-6. Which part of us should trust God?

Our heart.

What should we not lean upon?

Our understanding.

How are we to acknowledge God?

In all our ways.

Does this include sexuality?

This includes sexual drives.

What will He do with our paths?

Make them straight. (If ever a verse was written for the struggling homosexual, this is it!)

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As I let go of parts of my identity, I began to realize that I really could trust the Lord with all of my wounded and bruised heart. I did not have to lean on my own understanding with all of its limitations. I could acknowledge God in all my ways, and He really did make my crooked and confused paths straight. It was not easy to let go of that which made me feel safe. I had invested much time and energy in my efforts to validate my gay identity. The most difficult decision I ever made was to leave the culture of friends who had affirmed me as a person.

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piritual-Awareness

Allow 20-25 Minutes

All the people in this room are undoubtedly at different places in your journey. Some may be at the place where I, as well as many others, have been: the crossroads of “This is impossible! I cannot change who I am” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Please do not abandon the race. Take a leap of faith that says, “This is who I feel I am, but this is not who God created me to be. God is not calling us from homosexuality to heterosexuality. He is calling us to discipleship, to holiness. Our focus should not be on what we leave behind; our focus must be on Christ. Let us lock our eyes upon Him; He is the one for whom we run this race.” A pastor in Orlando, Florida, expresses it this way: “Jesus Christ did not die on a cross to modify your behavior!” As God’s love and truth change our hearts, our behavior will also change. But we must determine to focus on Christ and His truth. Feelings, though valid, will betray truth. Isaiah 29:13 Describe what God wants from us.

Personal response.

Isaiah 29:15-16 What does this say about who God is and who we are?

He is the Potter; we are the clay.

Jeremiah 17:9 What does this verse say about the heart?

We cannot trust our hearts.

What does that mean?

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They are deceitful—so much of what we feel is rooted in the heart.

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Ezekiel 11:19 What does this say about our heart? What does God promise to do?

God says that He will give us an undivided heart. He will give us a heart of flesh instead of a heart of stone. In other words, we will have tenderness rather than hardness toward Him.

Matthew 16:24 What does it mean to deny ourselves?

To deny fleshly (carnal) desires.

What is your cross?

Personal response.

John 8:31-36 What does Christ say about truth? What stands out to you as important in these verses?

John 16:13 What does this say about truth and how can we implement that in our walk? Hebrews 4:12 Explain why God’s Word is so valuable for understanding who we are.

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

Hold to my teaching and become real disciples. Know the truth, and it will free you. If we practice sin, we are a slave to that sin. Become children of God, and the Son will indeed set you free. God’s Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth.

Bone and marrow are two substances that are part of a greater whole, just as we are. The spirit and the soul are similar. The soul consists of our emotions and intellect, but the spirit is the place Christ inhabits when we receive Him as Savior and Lord.

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A

pplication

Allow 20 Minutes

The reality of Christ in us and our life in Him is what defines us and gives our life purpose. This is a beneficial lesson for all believers, though many never come to the place in their Christian walk where they learn their Christ Identity. Those who have struggled (or still struggle) with homosexual temptation must grasp the truth of their Christ Identity. Many of us were applauded for our courage when we confessed our homosexual attractions. We were affirmed and told to embrace these attractions as our identity and that to deny these feelings would be wrong. But in the Bible we read that Jesus called us to deny ourselves. It is important to differentiate between denial and self-denial. Denial is to lie to ourselves and pretend an issue does not exist. Self-denial is to be honest but to deny ourselves the right to behave however we please. When I became a follower of Christ, I became part of a subculture called the church. And though in many ways it was comforting, I often found myself drawn back to my old culture. It sounds simplistic to say, but in that culture I had been “cool” and as a Christian, I felt very “uncool.” At first, life back in the church was lonely, but then God brought me friends and I became accountable and grew in my faith and the knowledge of whom God created me to be. In the depths of your being, you may feel certain of who you are, but I encourage you to reach beyond feeling into the realm of faith. Step out and believe “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV). Faith often begins in our head, but then God’s Holy Spirit drops that same truth into our hearts and it takes root. One minister said, “It is not the size of your faith that matters; it is your willingness and courage to exercise your faith.” When you read 1 Corinthians 6:9-20, what specific words stand out to you?

Personal response. Behaviors label us. He is a smoker because he smokes. He is a thief because he steals.

Do any particular words stand out in verses 11 and 12?

In verse 11, note the word were. In verse 12, not be mastered by anything.

Take a moment and think about the lesson. If at any time during the lesson you became aware of a defining characteristic that may be contrary to the plan of God, write this down on a piece of paper to keep in your Bible. This week ask God to help you grasp the truth. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21: What specific areas of our identity will change when Christ lives in us?

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Example: We are no longer evaluated by the world’s standards. We become a new creation; the old has gone.

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Describe in two paragraphs how you saw yourself when you were part of the same-sex culture and how you see yourself today.

Personal response.

Read Hebrews 12:1-3. What does it say about the race and sin?

Personal response.

Obedience is the starting block for the race. The race in life is a marathon, not a sprint. At some point, you may feel as if you have hit the wall. Every now and then I tell myself, “Run, Forrest! Run!” (a popular line from the movie Forrest Gump). Moving from homosexuality to holiness is a process by which we are washed by the truth of His Word and sanctified by our daily decision to die to our own appetites and walk in His truth. Until we understand our Identity in Christ, we will suffer from an Identity in Crisis. I did not immediately understand who I was in Christ, but as I did, my life was revolutionized and I discovered that the very essence of who I am is dependent on whose I am. What part of the race will you run this week?

Personal response.

Closing Prayer God’s Word says He will lead us into all truth and enlighten the eyes of our heart.

Pray in the name of Jesus, the author of life, that He will lead each person into His truth because the heart is so deceitful. Pray for the eyes of the heart to be enlightened so they will see things as they are and not the way their heart tells them they are. On page 68 of this workbook is a list of resources for those who struggle with their same-sex attraction or gender identity issues. The purpose of this workbook is to give solid spiritual foundation with biblical truths upon which to build long-lasting change. The practical information will be helpful once you establish God’s truth in your heart and invite His Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth.

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3

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Back Into the Closet

ntroduction

Allow 10 Minutes

“It is not so true that ‘prayer changes things’ as that prayer changes me and I change things” (Verploegh, p. 249).

Opening Prayer

Thank God for His endless love. Thank Him for the participants and their lives. Thank Him that He calls us to a road that is not always easy and thank Him for His Holy Spirit who will guide us each step of the way as we seek His presence in our lives. Group Member Devotional Reading prior to this session: Psalm 19 Psalm 51 John 17

Sharing Question When you hear someone speak of prayer or a prayer meeting, what comes to your mind?

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elf-Awareness

Have each participant explain what comes to mind.

Allow 20-25 Minutes

This chapter is designed to challenge you to discover the joy of deep and meaningful times of prayer so you can tap into the supernatural resource of prayer as a means of living a victorious life and applying the biblical truths that are presented in this workbook. I need to pray. As a new Christian, I recognized that on my own I could never get my life in order, could never please God. I needed God’s help (and still do!). My Christian friends did not understand my homosexual struggles, and I had to talk to someone. I was desperate. Prayer became my lifeline. Talking to God was the only way I could pour out all that I was feeling. God was able to handle my honesty, and He was able to fill my heart with hope. As Jim Cymbala says in his book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, “I discovered an astonishing truth: God is attracted to weakness, He can’t resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need him” (p. 19). 18

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Tell about the first time you were honest with God. How did you feel beforehand?

Personal response.

How did you feel afterward?

Personal response.

In the gay world, the word closet is used to describe a place of secrecy and shame—hence, the encouragement to come out of the closet and embrace your homosexuality. In the world of discipleship, the word closet describes a place of secrecy and prayer (Matthew 6:6 KJV). It is important to step back into the closet—this time a closet of prayer. What has been your experience when you seek to spend time with God in private prayer?

Something always seems to come up. I remember things I need to do.

Many homosexuals have become Christians, but some became discouraged and disappeared back into their old life. Others become perpetual strugglers who never get beyond the support group phase. But then there are those who become church leaders and ministers. Often the difference between the three is found in their habits of prayer. Many have come out of the deepest cesspools of sin and darkness but early in their Christian walk turned to prayer. Prayer is the life source of any Christian. Study the life of Christ and read how often He disappears to pray. If He needed prayer, we need it so much more. Each day, multiple cultural voices pull us in different directions, but God’s voice is heard in the secret place of prayer. Spending time with Him can give us the strength to make right choices. “Prayer is other than meditation; it is that which develops the life of God in us” (Verploegh, p. 249). As my faith grew, prayer became a significant factor in the transformation of my heart as God changed its desires, and those temptations that were once overwhelming became less frequent. Prayer is more than an endless monologue of words. My prayers may begin with nonstop talking, but if I grow silent and wait, God reveals many things to my heart. Prayer is communing with the living God, whose love is extravagant. He is the only one who is able to equip us with all we need to overcome our selfish, sinful nature. We never outgrow our need for prayer. Describe your prayer experiences.

Personal response.

What noteworthy things does Christ say to the disciples in Matthew 26:41?

Personal response.

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Spiritual Awareness Lead–In What is prayer?

Personal response. Communicating with God.

Why do we pray?

To talk to God. Anyone can do it if they are willing to be honest. BE HONEST. He knows everything anyway.

Why do we commune with anyone?

To share our hearts—good and bad— to hear theirs. To build a relationship.

The Bible teaches much about prayer—both by instruction and example.

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piritual-Awareness

Allow 20-25 Minutes

Deuteronomy 4:7 What happens when we pray?

God draws near.

2 Chronicles 7:14 What must we do to have our prayers heard by God?

Mark 1:35 What can we learn about prayer from Jesus’ actions here?

Luke 5:16 Why do you think Christ needed to escape to lonely places of prayer?

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Humble ourselves, admit we are helpless, seek God’s face, turn from our wicked ways.

We need to get away from the crowd and find a place to pray.

The need for being with the Father and knowing the mind of God. Remember, He was fully human as well as fully divine.

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Luke 18:1 Why did Christ tell the story that begins in Luke18:1? John 17:15, 20 What are the key points of Christ’s prayer?

1 Peter 4:7 How can we ready ourselves for prayer?

Colossians 4:2 What are we instructed to do and with what attitude?

A

pplication

To teach us to pray and not give up. God hears our prayers; do not give up.

That we will be protected from evil. Christ prayed for us who believe.

Be clear minded and self-controlled so that we can pray.

Be devoted to prayer with a watchful and thankful heart.

Allow 20 Minutes

• Pray Let me borrow from a popular athletic slogan, “Just do it.” Really! The only way you will learn to pray is by praying. • Find prayer partners Find prayer partners in your church. I usually find someone who has been around for twice as long as I have. For those who struggle with same-sex attraction, it is wise to seek help from individuals who are older and more mature in the faith so as not to give Satan any opportunity to turn your good intentions into a snare for temptation. Some of my most faithful prayer partners are women who are well past retirement. They may disappear into the Sunday crowd, but the contributions these individuals make to our churches are incalculable. • Pray Scripture The most beneficial lesson I ever learned was to pray scripture over myself. This began when I was given a list of apostolic prayers— prayers that the apostles prayed for members of the early church; e.g., Philippians 1:9; Colossians 1:9-14; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Philippians 1:9-10. The Psalms are also excellent for times of prayer. The relevancy of these ancient prayers reaches through Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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time. As I disciplined myself to take time to pray, I used these prayers to keep me from becoming bored or giving up during my times of personal prayer. These prayers have the potential of becoming the cry of our hearts and not merely ritualistic words.

To save time, assign each participant one of the following verses. This exercise will help each person understand how scriptures can help develop a prayer life.

Read Psalm 19:14 as a prayer.

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What specific areas does the psalmist commit to God?

[Dear Lord,] “may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Read Psalm 51 as a prayer and find the passages that are the most meaningful to you.

Personal response.

Read Psalm 86:11 as a prayer.

“Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”

Read Psalm 143:10 and make it a personal prayer.

“Teach me to do your will . . . may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”

What does level ground mean in your life?

Personal response.

Read Isaiah 29:13 and define what it means to you.

Personal response.

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Read Ephesians 1:17-20 as a personal prayer. What specifics does Paul pray for?

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give [me] the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that [I] may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of [my] heart may be enlightened in order that [I] may know the hope to which he has called [me], the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.”

Read Ephesians 3:16-19 as a personal prayer. What specifics does Paul pray for?

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen [me] with power through his Spirit in [my] inner being, so that Christ may dwell in [my] heart through faith. And I pray that [I], being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that [I] may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (emphasis added).

As you read God’s Word, find the specific verses that can be used as personal prayers. You will find that many of these prayers become so personalized that you will pray them throughout the day. As you develop your prayer life, God will help you identify places of confusion and will transform your heart and revolutionize your life. My heart’s cry is that through this study, God will enable each of you to identify stumbling blocks in your life that prevent you from living the life you were created to live. I pray each of you will discover the closet of prayer where the manifest presence of God will empower you to live victoriously. Remember, the only way you will learn to pray is by praying. “Just do it.”

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Closing Prayer Thank God that He has made a way for us to know Him and ask Him to teach us to pray. Pray for each participant as they learn to seek out a place of prayer. Pray that God will reveal Himself to each person as that person seeks to know Him. Thank Him for the grace of prayer.

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Minding the Mind 4 Part 1: Embracing the Truth

Session

I

ntroduction

Allow 10 Minutes

“He thought his mind was his own. Never his own until he makes it Christ’s; up till then, merely a result of heredity, environment, and state of his digestion. I became my own only when I gave myself to Another” (Martindale and Root, p. 334).

Opening Prayer

Thank God for all He provides. Thank Him that in a world of confusion He provides truth and safety. Thank Him for His mercy and grace, that which transforms us into His image. Pray He will continue to help each person in the group to release their fears and embrace their creative destiny—the plan God has for their lives.

Group Member Devotional Reading prior to this session: Romans 1 Romans 12 John 14

Sharing Question Why do our minds need to be transformed?

Personal response.

How can faulty thought patterns affect our relationship with God?

If I have beliefs that are contrary to God’s truth, my preconceived ideas taint what I learn from scripture.

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S

elf-Awareness

Allow 20-25 Minutes The purpose of this chapter is to make the participants aware of faulty thought patterns that exist in our minds and prevent us from embracing all of God’s truth.

Between the lies I had told myself and the lies my culture had told me, I must confess I was a bundle of confusion. However, this bewilderment was not obvious to most. It was not as though I walked around with a sign on my forehead that read, “Dazed and confused, please help.” Far from it! My defenses were such that had I worn a sign, it would have read, “I’m right! I dare you to convince me otherwise.” No doubt I am more stubborn than most, but after submitting my life to Christ, my mind was not instantly transformed. I still had many ideas that were contrary to God’s truth, and my preconceived ideas tainted everything I learned from scripture. My self-molded beliefs made it difficult for me to embrace God’s truth. My old thought patterns were like stone fortresses that nothing could penetrate. These virtual strongholds protected my old way of thinking as if my very survival depended upon them. My false code of beliefs that had helped me survive childhood and boarding school now prevented me from receiving Truth. When I read certain scriptures, steel doors slammed shut in my mind and blocked out anything that was contrary to my old way of thinking. For example, I believed I was born gay, so I found it easy to distort the words of Romans 1:26-27 that speak of sinful, unnatural acts. My homosexuality felt natural, so it must be okay. Another example: I believed boys were untrustworthy, but the central figure of Scripture is a man and all the pronouns used to describe God are masculine. I tripped over any words that challenged my belief system. I had been a Christian for several years before I realized my need for mind renewal. I finally recognized that the survival of my faith demanded I acknowledge that my core beliefs were skewed and prevented me from accepting and benefiting from much of God’s Truth. What scriptural truths do you find yourself tripping over?

Personal response.

How do you allow scripture to fit into your life and affect your thinking?

Personal response. Example: Pick and choose the verses I like and ones I do not like.

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We believe what our environment and our experiences have taught us to believe or, as C. S. Lewis wrote, what we have “digested” into our belief systems based upon our surroundings (Martindale and Root, p. 334). To unbelievers, truth may seem to be illusive, but when we accept Jesus Christ as our savior, our quest for truth becomes the definitive part of discipleship. As we learn the truth from God’s Word, little by little our old belief systems are dismantled. What factors in our culture influence our thinking the most?

Examples might include television, movies, music, advertising, schools, examples set by public figures.

What are some truths that our culture teaches us that are contrary to God’s truth?

Examples: • All religions worship the same God, just through different roads. • There cannot be just one right way. • If what you are doing makes you happy and feels good, it must be right. • You have a right to be happy as long as it does not hurt others. • You were born gay; embrace it proudly. God created you that way.

A prevalent deception is the belief that homosexuality is a natural lifestyle. “In 1973 extraordinary pressure led the APA (American Psychiatric Association) to strike homosexuality from its list of disorders and illnesses.” The pressure was so strong that the APA caved in even when 69 percent of the psychiatrists disagreed with the vote. Two years later the American Psychological Association followed suit. Presently a few scientists in the field of psychology still treat homosexuality as a disorder, but they have been discriminated against by their profession because of their decision to seek truth (MacNutt, p. 36). What are some self-taught truths that you have invested much energy and time fortifying?

Examples: • I must be in perfect physical shape

to be valued and loved. • No one is trustworthy so I must

keep my walls high and not let anyone in. • I can disobey God as long as I come home and pray, read my Bible, and go to church and take communion. • God is love and His grace and forgiveness are endless so I can cheat occasionally. Besides, I need at least one vice. Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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• I was born this way; scientific stud-

ies are closer to proving it. • I have studied psychology and visit-

ed counselors, and even these professionals do not consider homosexuality a disorder.

The mind is like a water filter. When we commit our lives to Christ, we are connected to the purest artesian spring of water. But then we must pipe that water into our lives, and our minds are the filters through which this water must pass. Our faulty belief systems pollute the pure Word of God. We must change the filter. Though we are redeemed through Christ with the power to live a victorious life, much of what we believe is still connected to the old system of worldly beliefs that we established over many years. If these beliefs do not line up with the truth of God’s Word, we must conclude that the error is with us. I know! It’s not a popular thought, but let’s run with it. I remember the night I became aware of the faulty thought patterns that prevented me from seeing the fullness of God’s truth. I woke up in the middle of the night from a restless sleep and began to read in the third chapter of Zechariah about Joshua, the high priest. I read about God’s giving him new robes to replace his filthy garments. As I studied about priesthood, I read about the turban that was wrapped around the heads of the Old Testament high priests. I began to understand that God desired to cover my mind with His truth so my false beliefs would no longer master me. Sin can meet a legitimate need illegitimately. The legitimate need does not excuse or justify sin, but it helps us understand why we are so driven by our sinful desires. A married person may feel neglected by their spouse and choose to have an illegitimate affair to meet a legitimate unmet need. A homosexual longs for intimacy (a legitimate need) but is unable to connect with members of the opposite sex and fulfills the need for emotional and physical intimacy with others of the same sex (an illegitimate response). Our sinful actions may be rooted in legitimate need, but when we seek to meet our needs according to our own devices, we violate the parameters God has set and this violation (sin) sep a r ates us from God.

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Spiritual Awareness Lead–In

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Describe how 2 Corinthians 4:2 relates to the way we receive the Word of God.

We must renounce secret and shameful ways, refusing to use deception to distort God’s Word.

piritual-Awareness

Allow 20-25 Minutes

The Scriptures have much to say about focusing on God’s truth. Job 31:1 Describe the level of commitment Job made to change his focus.

Isaiah 59:14-15 Describe what happened in a nation that once served God.

Matthew 16:23 What was Jesus telling Peter here?

John 8:32 What you think this means? From what shall the truth set us free?

Job made a covenant with his eyes not to engage in lust.

“Justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.” Peter was looking at this situation from his own earthly perspective, not through the eyes of God’s truth. Thus, his response was incorrect.

Personal response. Free us from the bondage of sin, the deceitfulness of our hearts. Free us from believing the lies, using them as excuses.

John 14:16-17, 26 What do these verses say about truth?

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

That the Holy Spirit will teach us truth.

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John 18:37-38 Why did Christ come into the world?

What do Jesus’ words mean?

Romans 8:5-8 What does this say about those who live according to the sinful nature?

Ephesians 4:21-24 What are we to do with our old self ?

“I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (v. 37).

Everyone on the side of truth listens to Him.

They “have their minds set on what that sinful nature desires, bringing death. But those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires, bringing life and peace”. The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to Him. Jesus is the truth. Put off our old self in “regard to your former way of life” (v. 22).

What are we being corrupted by?

Deceitful desires.

What should be made new?

The attitude of our minds.

When we put on the new self, what comes with it?

“Created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (v. 24).

Ephesians 6:10-17 What role does the helmet of salvation play?

How does James 1:14-15 describe this process?

In battle the helmet is a key piece of the armor. It is imperative that a soldier protect his mind. Personal response.

Our culture bombards us with erroneous messages that say we have a right to fulfill our needs as long as our actions make us happy and do not hurt others. We must recognize this lie for what it is—an open door to sin—and decide to submit to God’s truth so that our minds can be renewed.

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1 Peter 1:13 What are some ways you can apply this verse to each day of your life? Colossians 3:9-10 What are we to do with our old selves?

A

pplication

Personal response.

Lay them aside and be renewed in knowledge in the image of the Creator.

Allow 20 Minutes

How do we change our core beliefs? First, determine to guard our minds like Fort Knox. When I began to serve the Lord, I still listened to the same radio stations as before, but then I realized how certain songs conjured up memories and images in my mind. These memories were followed by times of severe temptation. Finally I got wise and changed the radio station. At first I listened to jazz but then decided classical was safer. In the end I realized the safest option was Christian music and lots of CDs and tapes of biblical teaching. Even in my car I began listening to material that would build me up in the knowledge of Christ. God greatly honored that commitment. Second, television and movies. Need I say more? Everyone in the world is a preacher. We must be sensitive to recognize what message they are preaching. Media executives and Hollywood screenwriters are no exception. They promote doctrines and ideas that are consistent with their beliefs, but most of these doctrines are contrary to God’s truth. The only way to avoid being conformed to the thinking of the world is to separate ourselves and focus entirely upon God’s truth. I know this sounds “puritanical” and you may be resistant, but let me challenge you to try not watching television or participating in similar distractions for a period of three weeks. I assure you your temptations will decrease. We must do whatever it takes to renew our minds through the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. We must be willing to petition heaven for the power to acknowledge divine truth and renew our minds according to God’s will. Our world is happy to keep us in a state of mindlessness, accepting the doctrines of our culture without question. But as followers of Christ who are on a quest for truth, we can no longer blindly accept the lies of our world. We have been called to a higher place of truth. It is frightening to examine our hearts and minds and invite God to search us and teach us His ways, but nothing that is worthwhile is easy. As disciplined followers of Christ, let us determine to be mindful rather than mindless. Mind your mind so that it can be transformed by His truth.

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Romans 8:5 What does this verse means to you as it relates to your mindset?

Examine your heart and answer this question honestly: Do you want your mind renewed?

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Personal response.

How do we renew our minds with God’s truth when our false beliefs dominate our mind? Romans 12:1-2 in THE MESSAGE tells us: So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, goingto-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops wellformed maturity in you. Write down at least two ways you will begin to apply this Scripture to your life this week.

Ask for volunteers to discuss the two ways they will apply the Scripture to their lives.

Closing Prayer Pray that everyone in the room will come to a place where they invite God to come into their lives and examine their hearts and minds. Pray they will be free from fear as they enter into God’s truth. Pray for their minds to be open to understand Scripture as they are washed in God’s Word. And pray that the fullness of God’s grace and truth will rule their lives. 32

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Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Minding the Mind 5 Part 2: Fantasy Island

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ntroduction

Allow 10 Minutes

Merriam-Webster defines fantasy as “the power or process of creating especially unrealistic or improbable mental images in response to psychological need (an object of fantasy; a mental image or a series of mental images as a daydream).” Opening Prayer

Thank God for His truth. Thank Him that He loves us too much to leave us in our delusions. Thank Him that He has given us a sound mind so that we might discipline ourselves to worship Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Group Member Devotional Reading prior to this session: Psalm 119 2 Corinthians 10

Sharing Questions What are some positive things you daydream about?

S

Personal response. Examples: • Job promotion • Serving in the church • New friendships • Promises in the Bible

elf-Awareness

Allow 20-25 Minutes

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, ABC aired a weekly show in prime time called Fantasy Island. I can still hear the words of actor Hervé Villechaize who played the dwarfed assistant, Tatoo: “Look Boss, de plane, de plane.” And then Ricardo Montalbán, with a heavy Spanish accent, greeted each guest with “Welcome to Fantasy Island.” The moral of this 70s show was that fantasy is never better than reality—even if our lives are a wreck.

The purpose of this session is to show the participants how thought patterns can prevent us from living a transformed life. Our fantasy life can ruin our real life in Christ.

A teaching I heard in 1992 opened my eyes about the word amuse. To muse means “to think”; but when you place an a in front of the word, amuse means to be “without thought,” just as the word amoral means to be “without morals.” Our culture is consumed with amusements. According to a Screen Digest report (http://www.factbook.ro), Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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the annual revenue for the global film industry in 2005 was projected to be $450 billion. These numbers do not include amusement parks, fantasy games, sports industry, books, or the pornography industry. Fantasy is a best seller in our world today. Fantasy was one of my survival tactics—my great escape. From an early age I was able to disappear into a fantasy world where few could reach me. Then television whetted my already active imagination. In my fantasies I created a reality that was better than the one in which I lived. In some form or another, we are all vulnerable to the world of fantasy. As a young adult, my fantasies were expressed by writing out scripts and short stories. I found refuge in the world of theater, film, and literature and spent several years and much energy pursuing a career as an actor. I worked a regular job during the day and rehearsed each night at the theater for the weekend performances. The theater was filled with creative people—designers, actors, poets, and writers—who had also embraced their gayness. Their artistry was refreshing. Our imaginations opened up new galaxies beyond the world in which we lived. But our imaginations were only brief escapes that made the absurdities of life disappear, and in some form or another reality always came crashing in on us. The very real effect of AIDS within our community was the reality that brought me to a place of brokenness where I could no longer accept the pitiful charade I was living. After becoming a Christian, I spent several days of the week in Bible studies and worship services; but when I was not at church or work, I had to decide how to spend my downtime. I loved relaxing with a book, the television, or a movie. If it was considered good art, I read or watched it; but much of what I amused myself with conflicted with the truths of God. As I sought the authenticity of Christ, I encountered a huge reality check. Everything changed! God’s truth called me to embrace life as never before. Blindness was no longer an option—God offered me 20-20 vision. It was years before I realized how detrimental my imagination was to my faith; but when I began to discipline my thought patterns and reign in my wondering, wandering mind, I realized that the command to love God with all my heart, my soul, and my mind involved selectively choosing the factors that influenced my behavior, including my amusements and fantasies or meditations. As the life of the Spirit of God grew in me, I was called to redirect the focus of my thoughts and discipline my mind.

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What role has fantasy played in your life as a child and an adult?

Personal response.

Explain why you believe or do not believe that fantasy can affect your walk of faith.

Personal response.

What is your favorite form of amusement and why?

Allow each participant to speak of what they do to relax and what their favorite amusement is.

Spiritual Awareness Lead–In When you read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, what do you understand these verses to mean? 3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

We must cast down pretensions, imaginations, and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We must take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.

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piritual-Awareness

Allow 20 – 25 Minutes

Psalm 19:14 Explain why the Psalmist would pray this prayer.

Personal response. So often our words and meditations are not pleasing to God.

Psalm 119:11, 15 On what do these scriptures suggest we meditate?

On God’s Word, precepts, and ways.

Psalm 145:5 On what does this verse suggest we meditate?

The wonderful works of God.

Isaiah 26:3 People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, steady on their feet because they keep at it and don’t quit (THE MESSAGE) .

What does it take to have a steadfast mind? Isaiah 65:2 Why is it wrong to “pursue our own imaginations”?

Matthew 16:23 What does Christ say happens when we have the mind of men?

Romans 8:5-7 Describe what this passage says about the sinful mind.

Philippians 4:8 Explain what this says about our thoughts.

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Have someone read this verse to the group.

Personal response.

Pursuing our own imaginations can put a wedge between God and us. Without God, our minds and imagination lead us into self-gratifying and sinful ways. True creativity and imagination are found in God, our Creator. Look at the world around us! What a wonderful imagination God has!

We becoming a stumbling block for those who desire to have the mind of God.

A sinful mind leads to death. A sinful mind is hostile to God.

We are to think about the things that are pure and noble and praiseworthy.

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Colossians 3:2 Explain why this instruction is important if we desire to live a victorious life.

A

pplication

There are many things in this world that appeal to our senses. Dwelling on ideas that are contrary to God’s plans and purposes will not help us break worldly habits and mindsets.

Allow 20 Minutes

These two questions became my litmus test: 1. Is what I am reading, watching, fantasizing (meditating) about helping me to grow in the knowledge of God? 2. Are these thoughts obedient to Christ? If the answer to these questions was no, then I redirected my thoughts. Each time I was about to venture into a danger zone, I diverted the thoughts. It was like a mental rodeo as I learned to lasso wild thoughts and corral them into obedience to Christ. God taught me to discipline my mind to recognize the thoughts that would lead me into temptation. Endless resources are available for those who struggle to keep their minds focused on God-honoring topics. I bought the Bible on CD and listened to it in my car; I bought worship CDs and sermons — anything to help me keep my mind focused upon that which would build me up in the knowledge of God. A man I know bought one of those waterproof CD players so that even in the shower he has a means of saturating his mind with the things of God. Remember that God is the ultimate creator with a marvelous imagination. Since we are created in His image, our imagination is His gift to us. It is up to us how we use this wonderful gift. When I discovered my imagination could work for me rather than against me, I meditated on an assortment of scenes from the life of Christ. A personal favorite is Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane pleading with God to remove the cup of suffering. I place myself in the scene and meditate on each detail and identify with each person present. The movie The Passion of the Christ was a glimpse into the personal meditations of the director. He just had the tools and the capital to make his meditation available for us to see.

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As God’s truth increases in our lives, we become accountable for our choices of amusements. When it is time to relax, be mindful of what entertainments you use to amuse yourself. Use discretion in making choices and limit the amount of time you give to these diversions. It is impossible to live a victorious and overcoming life if we entertain ourselves with the very thing we are trying to leave behind. Remember, we never outgrow our need to choose wisely. It is an ongoing discipline that we must employ like eating right or exercising. Examine your present amusements, meditations, and fantasies. Are they God honoring? Or do they glorify homosexuality and other sinful behaviors? Can you give them up? If not, why?

Personal reflection. No verbal response necessary.

What choices could you make that would lead you away from amusements that are destructive to your goal?

Personal response. Note: There are few TV shows on prime time that do not glorify homosexuality.

What do you use as a diversion when your thoughts begin to wander into the danger zone?

Personal response. Examples: • I don’t have a diversion; I just let • • • • •

my mind go where it will. Worship music Reading God’s Word Preaching/teaching tapes Bible on CD Meditation

Constructive choices: • Walk away from the room where the amusement is. • Read a book that will edify and build you up. • Keep a library of decent DVDs/videos that you can watch as alternatives (Dick Van Dyke, Andy Griffith, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners).

Closing Prayer

In addition, there are some great Bible story DVDs and videos. Easy-toread books are available about heroes of the Christian faith. These short biographies are inspiring and help us keep our perspective about what is important. Thank God that He has provided all the tools we need in order to glorify Him with our lives. Thank Him for His truth that helps us demolish strongholds in our lives and thought patterns.

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Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


6 The Please-Like-Me’s

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ntroduction

Allow 10 Minutes

“I had so many rejection issues that even my imaginary friends would not play with me.” —Comedian Kathy Law

The purpose of this session is to learn more about the fear of rejection and to discover the acceptance that is available to every individual.

Opening Prayer

Ask the Lord to help all in the room realize their value to God and to the body of Christ. Pray for God’s truth to open their eyes and set them free from whatever inhibits them. Group Member Devotional Reading prior to this session: John 3 Romans 8 Hebrews 4

Sharing Question

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How do your respond when you are rejected or feel that you are rejected?

Personal response.

elf-Awareness

Allow 20-25 Minutes

Possible answers: • It doesn’t bother me. • It really bothers me. • It may bother me, but I’ve tried to mask it for so long that I don’t really know if it bothers me. • It makes me angry.

By the time I went to boarding school at age seven, I was infected with a case of the “please-like-me’s.” Each year this desire intensified, and by the third grade I had a chronic need for approval. The kids I lived with were from other mission organizations and I was the clear outsider. They were determined to close me out of their tight-knit world. In response, I did everything in my power to earn their friendship. I even tried to buy their approval with the goodies I purchased with my weekly allowance. As the years passed, my m e t hods of winning approval changed but my need stayed the same. As a young adult, I tried to fulfill that need by embracing the culture of the gay world. I felt as though I found total acceptance there and, like many others, rejected the church I thought had rejected me. In a short time I assimilated into my beliefs the cultural mantra, “Christians hate and discriminate against homosexuals.” Because my experience seemed to validate this, my resentment against those associated with Christianity fueled my anger against what I saw as religious injustice. Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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What has caused you to experience feelings of rejection?

Personal response.

In the book The Search for Significance, Dr. Robert McGee describes one symptom of rejection: Some of us have established our moral standards on the approval or disapproval of others. Rather than referring to God’s word as the authority on matters of life, we have referred to people, doing what they approve of or encourage us to do. This may have led some of us to compromise our sexual purity, our moral and ethical integrity, or our walk with God. We must … refuse to believe the lie I am what oth ers think of me (p. 218). Whose opinion or approval influences you the most?

According to author Joseph Stowell, “We are built for significance. Our problem is not that we search for it, but that we search for it in all the wrong places” (p. 13 ). The lyrics of an old country western song express it this way: “Looking for love in all the wrong places… looking for love in too many faces” (Lookin’ for Love, Waylon Jennings). The counter culture of the gay movement filled a deeper need than I realized. It was not easy to enter the church where I felt a continual sense, real or imagined, of rejection.

Personal response. • Old friends • Old lovers • New Christian friends • Pastor • Peers • Family • God

When my faith became a genuine reality and I re-entered the environment of the church, I was armed with a heightened level of sensitivity as I anticipated rejection. I listened for the prejudices I knew existed and was prepared to make my protest: “I knew this would happen! They are all the same!” I had been a sincere follower of Christ for more than ten years when a friend helped me see how my fear of rejection had crippled my progress. When will this ever end? I thought. I had grown so much in my knowledge of God’s power and grace. Good grief, I was even a credentialed minister! How could I have missed this issue that loomed so large in my life? In the months and years that followed, I addressed my responses to past events that had led to my need for approval. As I discovered my worth in Christ, I began to step out in total obedience to Him, making my choices according to His will— not according to what other people thought. Describe your path toward learning to focus on pleasing Jesus rather than people.

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Personal response.

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


The church can be a difficult place for anyone who has struggled with behaviors that are stigmatized by society. We may sense disapproval and feel that we are setting ourselves up for failure within the community of the church. In his book The Search for Significance, Robert S. McGee explains that the fear of rejection can cause us to “avoid situations in which we are prone to fail or experience disapproval, and lead us to do only what we are good at doing, expecting our good performance to earn the approval of others” (p. 217). Describe some situations or people you have avoided for fear of rejection.

Personal response. Examples: • Avoiding family and Christian friends • Avoiding gymnasiums or beaches (overly conscious of body image) • Self-conscious at prayer meeting, Bible studies, and any other small group meeting

As a new Christian without proper accountability, it would have been premature for me to speak publicly about my story. But as I grew in the knowledge of God, it became cowardice not to speak. I was warned by my peers that I might lose my ministerial credentials or friendships if I shared my story, so I kept my testimony shrouded in silence until I realized that silence was disobedience. I prayerfully wrestled with God in my private Gethsemane, His will against mine. I meditated on the rejection and shame that Christ suffered on my behalf, and the Spirit of God empowered me with the courage I needed to speak out. In Psalm 3, I read that God lifts our heads. The verse reminded me of a scene from My Fair Lady that demonstrates the concept of “lifting our heads.” During the royal ball, the queen passes all those who are bowed. Then she stops and bestows her favor by lifting the head of Eliza Doolittle—the girl who once had nothing. This is what God had done for me: I was aware of my condition and bowed in shame, anticipating rejection; but God bestowed favor.

Spiritual Awareness Lead–In According to Galatians 1:10, if we belong to Christ, what should our goal be?

To please Him instead of trying to please man.

Putting our trust in people will ultimately lead to disappointment. Even those who mean well will disappoint us at times. Others may outright reject us. Jesus understands. He suffered indignation, rejection, and betrayal. When you repented of your sin and received Him as your Savior, He clothed you in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). Nothing can separate you from His love (Romans 8:37-39). He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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piritual-Awareness

Allow 20 – 25 Minutes

As we examine the effects of rejection and disapproval in our lives, let us explore how we can put that struggle behind us and allow God’s grace and forgiveness to make all things new as pleasing Him becomes our primary goal. 1 Samuel 8:6-7 What do these verses reveal about human nature and God’s perspective? Psalm 3:3, 6 What does the psalmist say about God’s protection and our fears?

God is our shield. He bestows His glory and lifts up our heads.

How can this help you overcome the fear of rejection?

Personal response.

Psalm 51:1 How does the psalmist describe God’s love?

Unfailing love.

What does that mean for your life?

Personal response.

Isaiah 54:4-5 What does this say about the shame of our past? John 3:16-17 Why did Jesus come to earth? What did He not come to do?

Acts 10:34-35 What does this reveal about God?

Revelation 12:10 What is Satan’s job, day and night?

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Samuel was displeased – felt rejected. God understood.

Session 6

Our Redeemer sets us free from shame and humiliation.

He came to save the world and not condemn the world.

He shows no favoritism. He accepts those who fear Him and do what is right.

To accuse: “For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Romans 8:1 What does this verse mean to you?

Condemnation pushes you away from God; conviction draws you to Him. If you are feeling condemned by your heart or other people—it is not of God! Romans 15:7 What does this say our attitude should be?

Personal response. Christ does not condemn me for who I am or what I have done wrong. When I turn from my sin, He forgives and totally accepts me.

Personal response. We have a responsibility to accept others just as Christ has accepted us.

Hebrews 4:15 What does this scripture teach us about Christ?

1 Peter 2:9 What does this say about those who believe?

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pplication What traps exist that prevent us from progressing toward Christian maturity?

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.”

We are chosen, a royal priesthood. We are called out of darkness into light.

Allow 20 Minutes Personal response.

I have had to face truths about myself that were not pleasant, but the alternative to the truth was the delusion that caused me to repeat destructive patterns. If we are to move forward in Christ, we must learn to deal with rejection, remembering that our value is based on the grace and forgiveness of God, not on what other people think of us. Within the church, we may meet insensitive people who will make thoughtless remarks, but it is imperative that we resist the temptation to make comments just for the sake of shock value. To progress toward wholeness in Christ, we must find an honest group of believers who will hold us accountable, and we must acknowledge that our perceptions are not always reality—they are the lies of a wounded heart. Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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Has the historical church responded poorly and without love toward those who struggle with same-sex attraction? Definitely. But we cannot ignore our own prejudices. We must speak about God’s redeeming work in our lives and love others with the same acceptance and patience that we long for. The church needs our voice. Imagine the victory Satan would win if he could keep us out of the community of the church because of our hypersensitivity and fear of rejection. When you are feeling rejected, try some of these responses: • Meditate on scripture verses about God’s unconditional love for you. • Pray that God will help you see the truth and respond in a way that will please Him. • Visit an environment like a soup kitchen or nursing home and offer the loving acceptance that you feel you lack. • Read the Psalms. Memorize verses that explain who you are in Christ. • Meditate on Jeremiah 29:11. Remember that God has a purpose for your life and that the temptation to judge yourself by what other people say is just another one of the enemy’s tactics to prevent you from discovering who you are in Christ. Fear of Rejection Test Below you will find some questions that will help you evaluate your current fear of rejection. Try to be honest with yourself in answering the questions—you will not be asked to share any specific answers or your total score. Fear of Rejection Test Read each of the following statements. Then from the top of the test, choose the term that best describes your response. Put the number above that term in the blank beside each statement. 1 Always

2 Very Often

3 Often

4 Sometimes

5 Seldom

6 Very Seldom

7 Never

__________ 1. I avoid certain people. __________ 2. When I sense that someone might reject me, I become nervous and anxious. __________ 3. I am uncomfortable around those who are different from me. __________ 4. It bothers me when someone is unfriendly to me. 44

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__________ 5. I am basically shy and unsocial. __________ 6. I am critical of others. __________ 7. I find myself trying to impress others. __________ 8. I become depressed when someone criticizes me. __________ 9. I always try to determine what people think of me. __________ 10. I don’t understand people and what motivates them. __________ Total (Add up the numbers you have placed in the blanks.) If your score is: 57-70: God has apparently given you a very strong appreciation for His love and unconditional acceptance. You seem to be freed from the fear of rejection that plagues most people. (Some people who score this high either are greatly deceived or have become callous to their emotions as a way to suppress pain.) 47-56: The fear of rejection controls your responses rarely or only in certain situations. Again, the only major exceptions are those who are not honest with themselves. 37-46: When you experience emotional problems, they may relate to a sense of rejection. Upon reflection, you will probably relate many of your previous decisions to this fear. Many of your future decisions will also be affected by the fear of rejection unless you take direct action to overcome it. 27-36: The fear of rejection forms a general backdrop to your life. There are probably few days that you are not affected in some way by this fear. Unfortunately, this robs you of the joy and peace your salvation is meant to bring. 0-26: Experiences of rejection dominate your memory and have probably resulted in a great deal of depression. These problems will remain until some definitive action is taken. In other words, this condition will not simply disappear; time alone cannot heal your pain. You need to experience deep healing in your self-concept, in your relationship with God, and in your relationships with others. Taken in its entirety with permission from: The Search for Significance, Book and Workbook, pp. 57-58, Robert S. McGee, 1998, Nashville, TN.

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After completing the evaluation, please answer the following: What are some things you learned about yourself from doing this evaluation?

Personal response.

Name at least three steps you will take this week to begin focusing more on God’s unconditional love for you.

Personal response. Examples: • Meditate on scriptures about His love. • In these verses, replace pronouns like whoever and all with your name. • Tell someone about something good God has done for you. • Write a list of your blessings.

Closing Prayer Pray that the Lord will help participants discover their worth in the eyes of Jesus Christ so that the disapproval of others will no longer keep them from being the person God created them to be. Pray that God will give strength when faced with hurt and boldness when faced with rejection. Pray that His truth will guard each person’s mind from the attacks and lies of the enemy.

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7

Session

I

I Stand in Awe of You . . . and You . . . and You

ntroduction “Brokenness is the release of spiritual power and the revealing of hidden idolatry. It is the most underrated virtue in the Christian community” (Crabb).

Opening Prayer

Allow 10 Minutes The purpose of this session is to discover the liberation and peace that come from leaving behind the sin of idolatry, an integral part of the homosexual lifestyle, and allowing God to be the Lord over every aspect of our lives. Thank God for each participant. Pray that He will enable all participants to keep Him as their only object of worship and avoid the temptation to elevate any person, relationship, or behavior to the point of worshipping them. Group Member Devotional Reading prior to this session: Matthew 6 Galatians 6 Colossians 3

Sharing Question

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When you think of an idol, what comes to mind?

Personal response.

How can relationships or behaviors become idolatrous?

Personal response. When relationships cause us to lose sight of our priorities and commitments. Any stronghold becomes an idol in our lives when it diverts our attention from our relationship with Christ.

elf-Awareness

Allow 20-25 Minutes

Initially, when I heard the suggestion that my homosexuality was partially rooted in idolatry, I scoffed; but then I thought back to the first time I was attracted to someone of the same sex. I became obsessed with her attractive qualities. My feelings scared me, yet I found them thrilling. All my energy was consumed in trying to please her. With each subsequent relationship the pattern repeated itself as my feelings of inadequacy drove me to idolize and worship many whom I dated. As my understanding of idolatry expanded, I realized that all relationships have the potential to be idolatrous. When relationships are based on sexual pleasure, lovers are recycled and people become nothing more than sexual commodities. Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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Isaiah 30:1-2 (NLT) describes this kind of cycle: “Destruction is certain for my rebellious children,” says the LORD. “You make plans that are contrary to my will. You weave a web of plans that are not from my Spirit, thus piling up your sins. For without consulting me, you have gone down to Egypt to find help. You have put your trust in Pharaoh for his protection.” When we put our trust in anyone or anything other than God, we are making that person or that behavior our idol. Although this idol may seem to meet our needs for a while, ultimately we will discover that we are looking in the wrong places for our security, our help, our hope. Describe your feelings as you began to realize that you could not find security anywhere but in a relationship with Jesus.

Personal response.

Companionship and romance were God’s idea, but human relationships were not intended to replace Him. His love is complete, and in His love we become complete. All earthly counterfeits will leave us yearning for that which is genuine. Many years after I made the decision to follow Christ, I came to a place of crisis in faith. It was a spiritually dry season; I was burned out from the ministry, disillusioned with the Christian community, and susceptible to temptation. One morning I found myself in a dark and empty sanctuary calling out to God, “What do you want from me?” Like Elijah, I reminded him of my résumé. “What more do you want?” I ranted, raved, and wept. Then, finally, I was speechless. These words came to my mind, gentle yet deliberate: “I want your whole heart. There are others who occupy the throne of your heart. I want to be your one and only.”

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I was humbled by this truth! How pitiful! After all the years I had known and served God, I still held on to a few idolatrous affections that had the potential to destroy me. Though I forfeited much to follow Christ, there still remained one small dusty corner of my heart that belonged to the fantasies of yesterday. I rarely visited the place and seldom saw the objects of my affection; but when this hidden place was exposed, I acknowledged that these idols would eventually be my downfall. I prayed these words, “Lord, help me to see things as they are and not as my heart tells me they are.” The next several months brought an awakening of truth, and the power these stale affections held over me was completely destroyed. No longer was I a prisoner of my deceived heart. I was free—free to obey God and become all He had created me to be. Each day as I offer my heart in its entirety to God, I realize that now the biggest idol in my life is the one who looks back at me from the mirror. I can still be selfish and self-serving; often I long to put my own desires above God’s. God wants us to desire first and foremost to please Him. Since my heart still has the potential to lead me astray, there are many times when I am called to follow my conscience rather than my heart. My prayer remains: “Lord, help me to see things as they are and not as my heart tells me they are.” What are some areas of your life that you still tend to put above your relationship with Christ?

Personal response. Examples: • My job • A relationship • A habit • Desire for popularity • Desire for success • Just wanting to do things my way

Spiritual Awareness Lead–In Read Colossians 3:5 and describe what the verse means to you. Lust, evil desires, and greed equal idolatry. Anything that becomes self-serving is an idol. And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God (Colossians 3:5, THE MESSAGE).

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piritual-Awareness Exodus 20:3-4 What does this say about having other gods? Psalm 119:45 What do we gain when we obey God’s truth?

Jonah 2:8 What happens when we cling to worthless idols?

Matthew 6:33 What happens when we truly put God first in all areas of our life?

Allow 20-25 Minutes

Followers of God are commanded not to have any other gods. Freedom

We forfeit the grace that could be ours.

He will meet all our needs.

Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met (Matthew 6:33 THE MESSAGE). Romans 1:25 When we put others above God, what do we worship rather than the Creator?

Galatians 5:16-20 How do we flee from our idolatrous nature?

Colossians 3:23-24 What should be our practice in everything we do?

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Created things rather than the Creator. All of us are the created.

Live in the Spirit and overcome the desire of our sinful nature.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. . . . It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


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pplication

Allow 20 Minutes

We all have daily choices to make. Rather than being led blindly by our desires, we must recognize the source of our desire. What force is pushing us in a certain direction? Is our desire or attraction idolatrous? Is it more important to us than trusting God? Armed with this understanding, we are empowered to discipline our desires rather than be a prisoner to them. In what ways have you turned from idols and started to make choices motivated by trusting God rather than by desires of the flesh?

Personal response.

Trusting God is pleasing God. Is there any memento in your life that is a symbol of an idolatrous attraction or behavior?

Personal response. For example, I had a leather jacket that was a gift. I really liked the jacket but it held many memories. One day I met missionaries to Iceland and gave the husband my jacket. Other examples: • Cards with messages • Photographs • Jewelry that is symbolic of vows or

moments

Would you be willing to throw it away or give it away this week?

Personal response.

What are some choices you have had to make in how to spend your time?

Personal response. Example: I was to attend a spiritual retreat with my small group, but a certain person invited me to go to the shore with some friends. I really wanted to be with this person and though I knew the retreat would be spiritually rewarding, I blew it off and went to the beach. Example 2: It was the night of the midweek service. I told my friends I would meet them, but I had a rough afternoon at work. On the way home, I passed a park where I use to hang out; I drove into the park. I missed the service.

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Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us to love God with all of our hearts, soul, and strength. What are some practical ways you will do that this week?

Personal response.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you (Romans 12:1-2 THE MESSAGE). Name some ways you will fix your attention on God.

Personal response. Examples: • Read the Bible • Memorize scripture • Pray • Listen to praise music • Worship at home and at church • Share His love with others

Closing Prayer Pray that God would open the eyes of the participants so they can identify how and why relationships are idolatrous. Pray that all persons present will have the courage to examine their hearts and remove anything that might hinder their relationship with God.

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8 The Enough-Is-Enough Authority

Session

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ntroduction There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight (Martindale and Root, p. 157).

Opening Prayer

Allow 10 Minutes The purpose of this session is to examine our daily struggles in view of Satan’s desire to defeat us versus the power and authority of Christ to destroy the works of Satan.

Thank God for the courage of each participant. Praise Him that eyes have opened to His truth and pray that He will continue to heal each heart so the power of Satan will be defeated in each life as the power and authority of Jesus Christ is revealed. Group Member Devotional Reading prior to this session: Job 1 and 2 Matthew 6 Ephesians 6

Sharing Question As followers of Christ, why is it important that we understand spiritual authority?

Personal response.

When we were disobedient to God, we gave the ruler of this world authority in our life. Now, as we follow Christ in obedience, we must understand His authority dwells in us and Satan can no longer bully us around.

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elf-Awareness Soon after I decided to follow Christ in obedience, it seemed that the forces of hell broke loose around me. I received phone calls and propositions from old friends and lovers who had not contacted me in years. The more I resisted the temptation of their offers, the more calls came. Sometimes the temptations became so consuming I felt as though I were powerless to resist and I wondered if the attacks were demonic. I read several books about spiritual bondage and became obsessed with the topic. Halfway through one book, I felt compelled to put it down and focus on Christ and Christ alone.

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One day in the midst of my struggle, my father asked me if I knew how to capture and tame an elephant. I acted barely interested (as we sometimes do toward parents), but he continued: “They capture it when it is very young and put a small chain around its foot. As the elephant grows, they adjust the chain to fit the size of the foot but they never replace it. When the elephant is an adult, it stays chained down by a small chain because it is conditioned to believe it is trapped. If it knew the power it possessed, even the slightest effort would destroy the chain and the elephant would be free.” I acknowledged it was a nice story, but then he said, “It is more than a nice story; it is a great spiritual truth.” Not long after that, I felt vulnerable to temptation. Everything seemed out of sorts; and even though I knew I should call out to God, I was resistant to the idea. I felt tense, frustrated, and weary. In the midst of the storm of emotions, I thought of the elephant. “If you knew the power that was within you, you could break free from these chains.” I prayed out loud, “Lord Jesus, all authority and power belongs to you. Guard my life!” It was as if a heavy fog lifted from around me, and from that day on I have learned to exercise the authority of the resurrected Lord over my life. Describe chains that kept you bound until you realized you could break free.

Personal response.

How did you break the chains?

Personal response.

This is what I have learned about the power of Satan: He cannot maintain influence in a life that is being continually filled with God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. Our obedient worship is so powerful that it breaks the hold of the enemy over our lives. The power of Satan influences those who live in disobedience (Ephesians 2:1-2); therefore, before we came to Christ all of us were vulnerable to different degrees of demonic influence. As we mature in our relationship with Jesus Christ, a new dynamic is at work that gives us access to divine power and authority. My continuing obedience to God’s Word increases my faith. As I exercise my faith, I begin to understand divine authority. My focus is no longer on the power of the enemy but on the power of Jesus Christ. The level of authority I am able to exercise in my life is directly related to the level of my obedience to Him. Describe occasions in your life when you encountered spiritual warfare.

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Personal response.

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Those who live in willful disobedience can be used by Satan to tempt us to do evil. It is important to discern what is happening and respond accordingly. Describe any chains that still make you feel trapped.

Personal response.

Spiritual Awareness Lead–In For many years I was a student of only one book—the Bible. As I read and reread scripture, God opened my mind and gave me understanding. I found that the Word of God was indeed powerful and full of authority (Hebrews 4:12). What does Colossians 2:6-10 say about the authority of Christ?

• We are to remain rooted and built

up in Christ. In Him we have full authority over all the powers of darkness that once influenced our lives when we walked in disobedience. • We are complete in Him and He is the head.

How does 1 John 4:4 explain this power and authority?

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piritual-Awareness

He who lives in us is greater than he who is in the world.

Allow 20-25 Minutes

Every successful military leader preparing for battle learns all he can about his enemy, becoming thoroughly familiar with his opponent’s methods and tools. Similarly, the leader understands his own authority, his troops’ strength, and the effectiveness of his weapons and how to use them. As Christians, we also need to know our enemy (Satan) and understand where our strength lies and know our weapons and how to use them. Knowing the Enemy Genesis 3:1-7 What methods of Satan are revealed here? Job 2:1-6 How does Satan spend his time? Why?

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

Deception, power of suggestion

“Roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it” (v.2).

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He is a deceiver. He is cunning and plants doubt in our minds. He causes us to question God’s commands and His concern for our well-being.

Zechariah 3:1-4, 7 What does this tell us about Satan and the limits of his power?

1 Peter 5:8 What does this tell us about the devil?

This passage radically transformed my thinking: • Satan always seeks to accuse God’s chosen. • The Lord has the authority to rebuke him. • We are the burning sticks snatched from the fire (see Jude 22). • God removes our filthy garments and clothes us in clean garments. • If we follow God’s requirements, we will have authority to govern the house (vs. 7).

Satan is an enemy, one who prowls the earth seeking to destroy.

Knowing our strength and authority Matthew 16:18-19 What does this passage say about our authority over the kingdom of Satan?

Matthew 28:18 What does Christ say about authority in this verse?

Mark 1:24-27 How do demons respond to Jesus?

Luke 9:1-2 What will Jesus bestow upon His disciples?

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Those who proclaim Christ as Lord will have the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

“All authority in heaven and on earth” is given to Him.

They recognize Him as the Son of God and obey Him. They know they are destined for destruction.

Power and authority to drive out all demons. With this authority, they were sent out to preach the kingdom of God.

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


John 14:30-31 What phrases stand out to you?

Philippians 2:9-11 How is the authority of Christ described?

1 John 3:8 What did Christ come to do? Ephesians 6:11-13 What do you think these verses mean?

There is a prince of this world. He has no hold on Christ—or us as we are in Christ. I do exactly what the Father says to do—obey.

His name is above every name. All angels, authorities, and powers will bow before Him.

Christ came to destroy the works of (Satan) the destroyer.

Personal response. We do not fight just in our flesh. There are spiritual forces arrayed against us. God has provided the equipment and armor we need to defeat these forces.

Using our authority and the weapons God has given us Matthew 4:1-11 What does this teach us about battling against Satan’s temptations?

• Satan’s plan is to cause us to doubt

or question the word God has spoken: “If you are the Son of God” (v. 1). • Satan presents tempting alternatives to God’s perfect will. • We combat Satan with God’s Word and Christ’s dominion. All authority belongs to Christ, and He has given us as believers authority over the enemy.

Matthew 12:25-29, 43-45 What does this passage teach us about warfare?

• We must be devoted to only one

king; we cannot serve two masters. • Satan and Jesus cannot coexist in

the same spiritual house. • We must drive out demons by the

Spirit of God. Then His kingdom will come upon us (John 15:26). • We must occupy the house with God’s Spirit and God’s truth so the enemy cannot come in and reestablish himself. • Satan can oppress the Christian but not possess the believer.

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“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him” (1 John 5:18).

1 John 4:1 What are we supposed to do?

Revelation 12:10-11 How is the accuser defeated? What does that mean for us?

Test the spirits because not all teaching is of Christ. Discernment is crucial for all Christians. Pray for God to give you wisdom and discernment.

Personal response. In addition to understanding our authority in Christ, we must understand that our most powerful weapons are the atoning sacrifice of Christ and our witness and testimony of His redeeming power.

A

Allow 20 Minutes

pplication Once we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and walk in obedience to God’s Word, the devil no longer has the right to bully us around, yet many remain vulnerable to his oppressive attacks. If we fail to understand our God-given authority, we become like police officers who walk around with badges yet never exercise the muscle behind the badge. Or like the elephant bound by the small chain. We never outgrow our need to discern the spirits and exercise the authority of Christ in our lives. As I have written this workbook, I have experienced times of spiritual warfare. My first challenge was to recognize it for what it was and then to exercise the authority of Christ. Some days I have felt weary and called prayer partners who interceded in prayer for me. Through it all, God has remained faithful and renewed my strength and understanding of His divine authority.

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It is imperative that we remain diligent and honestly identify areas of our lives where our behavior may send the message to the enemy that we are not under the complete authority of Christ. Any area of disobedience is like a welcome mat to Satan. Satan cannot read minds, but he can read behavior. We must endeavor to guard every area of our lives so there are no fissures in our defenses against Satan. Describe any areas in your life that may still be acting like a welcome mat to Satan.

Personal response. Some possible answers might be: • When I drive into a section of town that I should avoid. • When I watch a television show that glorifies sin. • When I indulge in soft- or hard-core pornography. • When I visit chat rooms devoted to my previous lifestyle.

Anything done in private that you may not want others to know about should be examined. If you have areas of disobedience, repent and pray for the fullness of Christ to fill you. If you have a walk of purity and obedience, acquaint yourself with verses to pray aloud. Following are examples: I praise you, God, for putting everything under the feet of Christ so that He is the perfect ruler and head of all things. Thank you that His fullness fills everything in every way (based on Ephesians 1:22-23). Lord, I praise you that I am complete in you and worship you as the Lord over all authority and rulers of this world. Be Lord in my life. Defeat the works of Satan in me (based on Colossians 2:9-10). Lord, I thank you that you came to destroy the works of the destroyer (based on1 John 3:8).

Closing Prayer Pray that the reality of Jesus Christ will be so manifested to the participants that they will be able to rebuke the power of Satan whenever it occurs. Pray for the power of God’s Holy Spirit to fill them to overflowing so that the chains of captivity will be broken. Thank God for His provision of power and pray for His will to be revealed in each life so that each person can and will stand strong against the attacks of Satan. Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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9 There Is More

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ntroduction

Allow 10 Minutes

“Have you ever noticed in our world that those who are free act as though they are bound and those who are bound act as though they are free?” (Singer Karen Wheaton, Women’s Conference, Nashville, TN, 2004).

The purpose of this concluding session is to inspire each participant to press in toward a full knowledge of God and the abundant life promised to us by Jesus. In the deeper things of God are rivers of life and freedom.

Opening Prayer

Thank God for each participant who has endeavored to faithfully attend the weekly sessions. If any left the group early, pray for them. Pray for God’s presence to guide all members as they conclude the study. Praise Him that this is not the end but the beginning. And pray that the eyes and hearts of participants will be opened to His truth. Group Member Devotional Reading prior to this session: Psalm 23 Psalm 37 John 10 2 Corinthians 3

Sharing Question How do you feel about your future in Christ?

S

elf-Awareness

Personal response.

Allow 20-25 Minutes

In our quest to know the fullness of God in Christ Jesus, we must understand that He desires to do more than change our sinful behavior patterns. As we follow Christ, our attitudes will change and our hearts will be transformed. For eight sessions I have shared my personal experiences so you will know that my life has not been without challenges. But in the midst of struggle, I am blessed with an assurance of abundance. No longer am I a restless wanderer—I have finally come home. Everyone who breaks free from life-controlling behaviors will experience occasional struggles, but those who press forward will gain an understanding about freedom that many Christians lack. Each time we emerge victorious from a struggle, we 60

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enter into a deeper relationship with Christ. And one day you may find yourself alone on a mountaintop listening to a mezzo-soprano sing “Amazing Grace.” In that moment you will know that redemption brings eternal hope and an abundance that is found only in Christ. On the night I became a credentialed minister, I joined a room full of individuals in a worship service. We were a subdued group of well-dressed individuals. After several songs, I noticed an exuberant group of ladies who were demonstrative to the point of being disruptive. I asked my friend if she knew who they were. “Oh yes,” she said. “They are former drug addicts from the local rehab facility. Over half of those ladies have HIV or AIDS because of their former lifestyles.” I watched as they continued to worship, and I was filled with conviction. Is this what I had become—a well dressed, well-behaved worshipper? These women obviously knew the joy of being free from sin. Physically they had been handed a death sentence, but spiritually they were resurrected and free. Shame filled my heart…“Oh God, help me never to lose the joy of my salvation. May I never forget the depths from which you have brought me!” The abundant life should be the only option for a Christian. Never settle for mediocrity! Keep pressing toward the goal of knowing Jesus. He brings levels of fulfillment you never imagined possible. I found contentment in Christ before I found my husband. He is a great guy and we are extremely happy, but both of us discovered abundant life in Christ before we found our joy together. Do not compromise or settle for earthly counterfeits. No earthly relationship can bring total fulfillment. Only through Jesus Christ can we know abundant life. At this point in your life, can you relate to what it means to live abundantly? Explain.

Spiritual Awareness Lead–In

Personal response. Possible answers: • No, it seems that there is always this oppressive heaviness upon me that I cannot break. • Yes, I am learning baby steps, but I believe it is possible.

John 10:10 describes Satan as striving to steal, kill, and destroy us; but Jesus has come that we might have life to the full. What does life to the full or abundant life mean to you?

Jesus came so that we can experience the riches of a life lived in His presence and purpose. The greatest of those riches include hope, joy, forgiveness, peace, getting to know our heavenly Daddy more and more, the love of family and friends.

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piritual-Awareness Nehemiah 8:10 What does the joy of the LORD provide? Psalm 23:5 How does the psalmist describe his condition?

Psalm 36:7-9 What does this say about those who rest in God’s unfailing love?

Psalm 37:4, 23-24 What does God want to do for us?

Isaiah 40:31 What happens to those who hope in the LORD?

Isaiah 42:3-4, 6-7 What does this say about the nature of God?

Isaiah 43:19-20 What does this passage tell you about God’s power to restore?

Jeremiah 29:13 What happens when people sincerely search for God?

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Allow 20-25 Minutes

Strength.

God prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies. He anoints my head with oil; my cup overflows! Overflows! More than enough.

God’s love is a refuge; God’s house is full of abundance; He is the fountain of life.

If we delight ourselves in God, He wants to give us the desire of our heart. But remember, if He is our delight, our desires will be in perfect unity with His will. They “will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.”

He never gives up—even when the situation appears hopeless. He is the God of hope.

He is doing a new thing! We have no idea how good this can get. Do not give up now!

God will be found by those who search for Him with all their heart. He cannot be fooled.

Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


2 Corinthians 3:17 What does the Spirit of the Lord provide?

Freedom.

How would you like to see this freedom expressed in your life?

Personal response.

1 Timothy 6:11-12 What does this speak to you about holding on to your faith?

A

pplication

Fight the good fight. Take authority over the enemy and be ready for battle. Never give up. Keep on keeping on!

Allow 20 Minutes

I leave with you the famous closing remarks of a speech given by Winston Churchill in 1941, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty— never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy” (http://www.school-forchampions.com/speeches/churchill-never-give-in.htm). Jesus Christ is sufficient. In Him we will never grow thirsty, yet we will never be too full. He continues to reveal Himself in fresh and new ways. He is so multifaceted and infinite that our finite sensibilities prevent us from knowing Him completely, but we must endeavor to know Him more. We have been robbed and lied to by the enemy whose objective day and night is to accuse us before God and to destroy our lives and the lives of those around us. But we must remember through it all that if we will cling to God and allow Him to transform us completely, we will taste the abundance He has promised. Never settle for less…life is too short. Too many Christians have settled for less. Determine that you will not be one of them. List some of your expectations of the Christian life.

Personal response.

How does understanding that justification is instantaneous but discipleship an ongoing process help with your expectations?

Personal response.

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List other ideas:

• Avoid religious ruts.

• Attend conferences that inspire and refresh. • Never get to the place where you feel you know it all. This is a dry place indeed! Be a perpetual student and always seek to learn more about God. • Keep the joy of the Lord flowing in your life. • Become a part of a Christ-seeking community. Guard yourself against isolation. • Worship—continue to join others in services where you offer up prayer and praise. • In your alone time, nurture a heart for worship. This will transform your attitude. • Be full of the Word of God. It will guard your heart and your life. It will provide a weapon for battle. Don’t be a slacker! • Stay honest with yourself and others.

List ways you will challenge yourself to continue growing as a disciple of Christ.

Personal response. Examples: • Keep your expectations of others

and yourself realistic. • Don’t expect perfection of other

Christians. Remember that there was only one perfect person. He is the one who died for us and calls us to follow Him. • Don’t expect perfection of yourself. Be gracious and forgiving to others and yourself. • Guard against false expectations of God. Many have grown disillusioned because they feel God let them down. He will never fail us, but we must be diligent to seek Him in spirit and truth. Beware of making God be who you think He should be. Be willing to trust Him for His way and His timing in all things. You will learn that His way is always the best way. • Be prepared for both good days and bad. In the midst of both, be aware that the abundance of Christ fills your heart.

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• Continue building healthy relation-

ships. • Find a discipleship course or Bible

study. • Dare to meet new people. Don’t

give in to the temptation of cliques. • You may feel directed to lead a

small group. Go through the proper channels of authority. An honest community of believers is essential for continued growth.

This life therefore is not righteousness, But growth into righteousness, Not health but healing, Not being but becoming, Not rest but exercise, We are not yet what we shall be But we are growing towards it. The process is not yet finished, But it is going on, This is not the end But it is the road, All does not gleam in glory But all is being purified. —Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Closing Prayer Thank the Lord for each participant. Pray that Jesus Christ will be revealed to the group members in the fullness of His power and grace as He continues to empower them to run the race and fight the battle. Praise God for the victories in their lives. Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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Resources Is there any good reason why you cannot receive Jesus Christ right now? How to receive Christ: 1. Admit your need (that you are a sinner). 2. Be willing to turn from your sins (repent). 3. Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross and rose from the grave. 4. Through prayer, invite Jesus Christ to come in and control your life through the Holy Spirit (receive Him as Savior and Lord).

What to Pray Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins. I am willing to turn from my sins. I now invite Jesus Christ to come into my heart and life as my personal Savior. I am willing, by God’s strength, to follow and obey Jesus Christ as the Lord of my life. Date

Signature

The Bible says: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13 “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1 When we receive Christ, we are born into the family of God through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit who lives within every believer. This process is called regeneration or the new birth. Share your decision to receive Christ with another person. Connect to a local church.

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Group Guidelines In dealing with some relational issues in the church, Paul admonishes the believers and concludes with these words: “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). We also must be aware of how the enemy will twist what is intended for good. As fellow strugglers, we must be aware of several things. To a degree, each person here is struggling to overcome their same-sex attractions issue; however, because we are aware of our own weaknesses and since some come in as “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” we ask that group members enter into a covenant in order to avoid any traps the enemy may try to set. 1. Confidentiality—As in all Living Free small groups, everything spoken while in group is considered confidential. What is said here stays here! 2. Accountability—If you become attracted to another member, confess to your facilitator. If another member in the group makes an inappropriate advance toward you, alert the facilitator. 3. Socializing between members must be done in numbers of three or more. a. Do not pair up! b. We recommend you do not exchange phone numbers with group members without telling the facilitator. c. Socializing of group members must occur in public places, not at each other’s homes or other more intimate settings. 4. When speaking about experiences, do not use specific locations for cruising or hangouts. Always speak in generalized terms. This is done so that the group is not used to exchange information. Some in the group may not know of places, channels, books, movies, etc. 5. Guard your hearts! In these settings, it is easy to be drawn to other individuals. Determine to avoid even the appearance of evil.

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Quotes and References Byrd, Dean A., Shirley E. Cox, and Jeffrey W. Robinson, “The Innate-Immutable Argument Finds No Basis in Science.” NARTH, <http://www.narth.com/docs/innate.html> (June 15, 2006). Crabb, Larry. “American Idols,” Christianity Today Library, Summer 2004, <http://www.ctlibrary.com/11150> (April 2, 2006). Cymbala, Jim. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997. Fitzgibbons, Richard. “The Origins and Therapy of Same-Sex Attraction Disorder.” NARTH, <http://www.narth.com/docs/ssad.html> (March 15, 2006). Hamer, Dean, and Peter Copeland. The Science of Desire. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. Kock, Kathy. Finding Authentic Hope & Wholeness. Chicago: Moody Press, 2005. Kurtus, Ron. “Winston Churchill ‘Never Give In’ Speech of 1941,” <http://www.school-forchampions.com/speeches/churchill_never_give_in.htm> (April 4, 2006). MacNutt, Francis. Homosexuality, Can It Be Healed. Jacksonville: Christian Healing Ministries, 2001. Martindale, Wayne and Jerry Root (editors). The Quotable Lewis. Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1989. McGee, Robert S. The Search for Significance: Book and Workbook Revised and Expanded. Nashville: W Publishing, 1998. Nouwen, Henri J. M. The Way of the Heart. New York: Ballantine Books, 1981. Schmidt, Thomas. Straight and Narrow? Compassion & Clarity in the Homosexual Debate. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1995. Stowell, Joseph M. Perilous Pursuits. Chicago: Moody Press, 1994. Swipe Studios, Global Film Industry—Origin of Revenues. <http://www.factbook.ro/wbglobal_rev.htm> (September 10, 2005). Verploegh, Harry (editor). Oswald Chambers, The Best From All His Books. Nashville: Oliver Nelson, 1987. Wagstaff, Carol. Homosexuality, a path to understanding. Glendora: Living Stones Ministries, 2003. Taylor, Howard. The Spiritual Secrets of Hudson Taylor. Springdale: Whitaker House, 1996.

Additional Resources Desert Stream Ministries—www.desertstream.org Exodus Inernational—www.exodus-international.org Exodus Youth—www.exodusyouth.net Love In Action International, Inc.—www.loveinaction.org Love Won Out(a ministry of Focus on the Family)—www.lovewonout.com 68

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We’d love to hear from you! I hope that your life has been changed in some way during these past weeks. If you’d like to share how God has touched your life through this group, please send us your thoughts. A personal testimony of God’s love will honor Him and could encourage others to reach out for help. Also, we would love to celebrate your victories with you! May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory, flying banners to honor our God (Psalm 20:5 NLT) We would also appreciate your suggestions for how we might improve the curriculum. Three ways to send us your comments: E-mail: info@livingfree.org Postal mail: Living Free PO Box 22127 Chattanooga, TN 37422 Fax: 423-899-4547 May God richly bless you as you continue your journey with Him.

Jimmy R. Lee, D.Min. President

Radio

To learn more about Living Free please visit us at www.LivingFree.org • • • • • •

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2-Minute messages of hope by Dr. Jimmy Lee www.LivingFree.org • Download MP3s • E-mail transcripts to a friend • Use transcripts as teaching tools

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Has Living Free made a difference in your life? Would you like to help others receive similar blessings? Prayer More than anything, we desire your prayers for the ministry of Living Free. We can work hard, write excellent curriculum and offer great training experiences, but none of this can be effective without the power of the Holy Spirit. God is the one who changes people’s lives. Our prayer partners receive periodic prayer requests for the ministry by e-mail.

Mission Jimmy Lee and Dan Strickland make several international trips each year—training, making ministry contacts and in general assisting ministries desiring to develop Living Free groups in their country. Some of these trips will be open to individuals or groups. We will be looking for trained and experienced Living Free facilitators, as well as people wanting to join a work team for a mission service project or medical mission.

Support God is opening doors for Living Free ministry around world, and we are moving through those doors by faith. We are excited and thankful for the growth, but growth brings new financial challenges. Our Giving Partners help us continue and expand the ministry.

If you are interested in getting involved, please contact us E-mail: info@livingfree.org

Postal mail: Living Free PO Box 22127 Chattanooga, TN 37422

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Facilitator’s Guide: Lessons Learned, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127