Happy Birthday to Jesus-in-Me!

Sue Bohlin's picture

Today is my spiritual birthday. 40 years ago I woke up in the morning a sophomore in college, disengaged with God, ignoring Him like I had for years, but when I went to bed that night my entire world and eternity had changed forever. In the middle of the day, a classmate handed me a flyer, inviting me to a performance of an illusionist/magician, André Kole. I was intensely interested, being a fan of illusion, but when the flyer revealed the event was sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ, I said to myself, "Forget it." I was not interested in hanging with Jesus freaks! But as the day wore on, it felt like there was a string tied around my heart, drawing me to that evening's performance.

So I went.
And André Kole used magic to illustrate spiritual principles that made sense to me, especially when he talked about every human being having a God-shaped hole in our hearts that we try to stuff with anything but God: good grades, reputation, relationships, appearance, money, attention, achievements. He explained how God had sent Jesus to earth to show us what He was like, and then Jesus died on the cross to deal with our sin once and for all. Three days later God raised Him from the dead and He's still alive today, unlike the founder of any other world religion. If I trusted in Jesus, He would come to live inside me forever and He, being God, would fill that God-shaped hole and I could experience the "abundant life" He came to bring us (John 10:10). I remember thinking, "YES!!" and threw open the door of my heart to Him, placing myself in Jesus' hands and trusting Him with my life and my future.
I had no idea what that meant. I just knew it was right.
Life became a perpetual surprise box as God started making changes in me from the inside out. To my delight, I discovered that all the things I really liked about myself then, and even moreso as forty years have unfolded, were the things that God put in me. He gave me a depth of joy that I didn't know was possible. He planted spiritual gifts in me that were the manifestation of His Holy Spirit shining through the window of my life: gifts of shepherd/teacher, of encouragement, of word of wisdom, all of which came straight from His heart into mine. He continued to shape the personality and temperament He had given me with maturity and seasoning. He made my heart a big pipe through which He poured His love into other people.
I remember one time a couple of months into my new life, discovering a different kind of fellowship with other Christ-followers and a love for God's word as I started being taught the Bible and learning to teach others what I was learning, wondering if this cool new life would last or if it was just some sort of fad. I didn't know that God was transforming me, giving me a taste for His life and His kingdom that would spoil me for any counterfeit the world had to offer. He opened my eyes to be aware of the spiritual realm, not just the physical realm I lived in, and enlarged my understanding to include the Big Picture of life on earth and in eternity.
I learned that my life wasn't about me at all, it was about Jesus, and because He loved me, He had drawn me into His life, His circle of delight and fellowship with His Father and His Spirit—that I was now included into the "holy hug" of Father, Son and Spirit who had adopted me, and I was now a daughter of the King—which makes me a forever princess! Forty years later, I still revel in that gift, and I love to pull out a tiara and pop it on my head when I'm sharing my story of grace with people.
When I was a little girl I just wanted to be happy when I grew up. Who doesn't, right? But what I discovered is that God had His definition of happy—blessed—plus so much more. He gave me Himself, and all the good things of life are found in Him.
Happy birthday to Jesus-in-me! My heart is overflowing with unspeakable gratitude!

Comments

This is a bit off-topic but, as you may or not know, Exodus International has in recent months renounced conversion therapy saying it doesn't work and 99.9% of "ex-gays" haven't really become straight.

http://wthrockmorton.com/2012/01/09/alan-chambers-99-9-have-not-experienced-a-change-in-their-orientation/
http://www.npr.org/2012/07/06/156367287/evangelicals-fight-over-therapy-to-cure-gays

Doesn't that admission pretty much destroys the argument you made in favor of "ex-gays"?
http://goo.gl/wwhQn

Sue Bohlin's picture

"A bit off topic"? Ya think?
Alan Chambers, speaking for Exodus, renounced reparative therapy, not conversion therapy. Reparative therapy means different things to different people, but the reality is that it is effective for some. I would argue that the majority of ministries affiliated with Exodus in the past and present do not focus on reparative therapy; we focus on discipleship. We point people to Jesus and work to help them develop intimacy with their heavenly Father and with the Lord Jesus Christ. That relationship changes people’s hearts; an essential truth of Christianity is that the power of the gospel results in changed lives. 
Alan’s comment about the 99.9% has been sadly twisted. This is what he said: “The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could  never be tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction.”
Let’s look at his statement:
“The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them” – Unfortunately, this was not the result of a statistical analysis, but I’m pretty sure it’s a number he made up on the spot. It’s unfortunate that Alan has spoken to so few people who have experienced real and lasting change, since we see a lot more than that in the ministry I work with (Living Hope Ministries).
“have not experienced a change in their orientation” – OK, so there are a lot of people who are just cannot make a switch in their heads and hearts to be attracted to the opposite sex. Some wounds are very, very deep. Some are not willing to do the hard work of submission to the process of discipleship that results in true and lasting transformation.
“or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could  never be tempted or are not tempted in some way” – This is huge. I don’t know ANYONE who can say they are not or could not be tempted, particularly in an area that has been a problem or weakness in the past. Temptations are not up to us. We have an enemy of our souls who doesn’t play fair, who tempts us in many ways. Since when do we define change as “never ever ever being tempted again”?  
“or experience some level of same-sex attraction.” – He’s saying that most people with a history of same-sex attraction still experience some level of it. That makes sense, just like someone who grows up in one country and then moves to a new country and learns a new language as an adult retains his or her accent. But having some degree of same-sex attraction doesn’t mean one’s life is dominated by it. I personally know many people who acknowledge it as a weakness, entrust it to Christ, and go on about their lives—and a number of them, Alan Chambers included, enjoy healthy marriages. That’s where they place their energies and their focus.
My argument in favor of “ex-gays” is based first on scripture, and second on personal experience (I’ve been watching lives change for over a decade, and I still am today).
What Alan Chambers said, and how it was taken in the press and in the minds of people who passed it through their personal filters, does not change the testimony of scripture. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth that many of them, including those who previously engaged in homosexual sex, were walking out changed lives: 
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
There were former homosexuals in the church at Corinth. There are former homosexuals today. The Bible says that all sexual sin is wrong. When people repent of their sin and live God-honoring lives in purity and righteousness, whether heterosexual or homosexual sin, that is significant life change. 
So, to answer your question, no, I don’t think anything destroys my argument. Jesus changes lives, and I watch it happen every day.

If Alan's words were "twisted" why did a bunch of ministries break up from Exodus on the issue of therapy?

Having met Mr. Chambers I find it interesting that his focus is on sexual orientation rather than changes within our heart. The discussion here applies to those who become followers of Jesus and are gay identified. Not those who are gay identified and have no claims to being a Christian.  That is an important distinction to make.
Having become a Christian just over 4 years ago as a gay identified woman. I have been challenged to resolve my faith and sexuality. This has been a matter of the heart for me.   It has come as a result of a personal relationship with Jesus and and response to what Bible has to say about sexual purity.  
First Sexual purity is defined as abstaining from sex outside of marriage.  Marriage is defined as a union between one man and one woman.  This applies to all committed followers of Jesus Christ regardless of their sexual orientation.
On the topic of sexual immorality the Bible is pretty straight forward on the matter
1Corinthians 6:18 ESV 
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
1Thessalonians 4:3-5 ESV
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;
As for the subject of temptation and  attraction well the switch has not flipped within my head and BAM now I am straight. Yes, I am still attracted to women but I want to honor God with my life. I consider my sexuality as something I must surrender daily to Jesus.
Matthew 16:24 and also Luke 9:34 ESV
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Self denial is an obsolete concept in our culture but is an essential concept for thse who claim to follow Jesus. I believe the things we are asked to surrender on a daily basis are the things that contend for our hearts' affections. The things we choose over God. For me that would be women; for another that might be money, and yet another power.
 

Sue Bohlin's picture

Thanks, Hope, for your comments. I love that your relationship with Jesus has resulted in holy living despite lingering same-sex attractions. I get that. I've been walking with Jesus for 40 years (which is actually the subject of this blog post) and I'm still attracted to sin. That's one of the things I look forward to in heaven! 
The Lord bless you and keep you!

Isn't conversion/reparative therapy the same thing? How can we be sure they have truly changed and not just pretending? Where is the *scientific* evidence? Why are pretty much all professional medical groups against attempts to change sexual orientation?
What about people like John Paulk, Michael Johnston, John Smid, Peterson Toscano, and more recently, Matt Moore, who claimed to have been "former homosexuals" and changed thanks to God, only to be caught later on with the same-sex, or admitting they never really changed?
Is God ineffective at changing gays, or is homosexuality something that isn't meant to be changed?

One last thing, how can you be sure Paul spoke about homosexuals and "former homosexuals" when homosexuality as understood in modern terms (sexual attraction towards the same sex) was unheard of until the 19th century?

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