Denver Report

Denver Report

Twenty years came together in one night in Denver!

This last week was a wonderful time to remember. I spent six days in Denver for a wonderful time of old friends, new friends, and time with family.


Rick and Rodney - DenverSaturday Bowling

The first few days were full of opportunities for encouragement and renewed friendship. Saturday evening some friends, Rick and Rodney,  invited me to a gathering with some work friends. We went bowling and then to dinner at Larimer Square in Denver. It was a great way to begin the week.



Sunday Church!

On Sunday I attended two worship services, one at the Church of The Rockies, and the other at The Highlands Church. Both are inclusive churches that serve a diverse crowd including those who are gay and want a Christ centered family to worship with. I found them both to be very encouraging places each having their own personality. At the end of the service at The Highlands, I talked with several people who attend there that I have recently come to know. It was like home for me.


After church, six of us went to lunch at a wonderful Asian restaurant. After sitting down, two of us recognized one another from a former time in our lives. This man was in the Love In Action program in 2006. I think he was shocked to see me and I was certainly surprised to see him. Our meeting began the series of reunion connections that came during the week.


DSC02294Monday with Family

As it would be, another real blessing came from being able to see my sister and her family due to a recent move to Denver from Winnipeg, MB. I hadn’t seen her for several years and we had a wonderful time catching up and both wish we had had more time.


Tuesday Surprise Meeting

On Tuesday morning a friend, Joe,  invited me to meet with Christine Bakke-O’neil. Christine is a passionate lady who speaks regularly about her thoughts of how harmful ex-gay ministry can be for some participants. She has been somewhat critical of my role as a leader in the movement and skeptical about my role today as I minister with the gay community.


As we met and exchanged friendly words we began to hear one another’s hearts and I believe we both found a good outcome from our time. I listened as she critiqued my articles and gave me some very helpful feedback and suggestions. It is always a good thing to meet people and discover their person hood! A new friend was made at Starbucks! Thank you Joe for getting us together.


Tuesday Spaghetti Dinner

One evening I had a wonderful spaghetti dinner with a young man named John, and his sweet family that I met in January in Orlando. We had a great time talking about deep things of the Lord and sharing our lives together. It’s always good to be able to continue a friendship in person!


Wednesday Lunch

While I was in Denver I also had a lunch meeting with the two pastors from The Highlands Church. The rich experience of knowing others who have experienced a transition of perspective on how to process being gay and a Christian is tremendously rewarding. I found Mark and Jenny to be caring, insightful, and wise. It was a good shot in the arm for me personally to meet with them.


Wednesday Evening: Film Preview

The central reason I went to Denver was that I was recently invited to participate in a discussion panel for a preview of “This is What Love In Action Looks Like.” The documentary that chronicled a very large protest of Love In Action’s ministry in June of 2005. The film preview took place at the Metropolitan State College of Denver. I checked around to find who might be interested in seeing the film. As the event came closer, I invited 16 people from many facets of my history who lived in or near Denver.


DSC02306At the film, there were former Love In Action clients from my early years of Love In Action in Northern California (1993), the early years in Memphis (1996), the middle years in Memphis (2005), and even the man I reconnected with from 2006. As I prepared to watch the film it dawned on me that two of the former clients were present for the actual protest and they knew many of the people interviewed in the film.


The invitation list included some new friends who were interested in seeing the film as well as some ministry leaders in the Denver area. I found it very interesting to review their take on the film afterward.


As I looked around the room, the time and space that was represented from my world was really amazing. We had a wonderful reunion, but I also realized there would likely be some emotions felt from what was about to be shown.


DSC02308After the film, Morgan Jon Fox and I took questions and gave our insights from what the film represented for us as individuals. I share each time how I have been challenged by the intense review of the ministry that I participated in for so many years. It is always hard for me to watch the film because there are some parts that I feel grieved to see and also feel embarrassed about.


About ten of us went to a local restaurant for decompressing from the evening. What a great ending to a wonderful week!


Busy, Busy, Times

DSC02291I was booked up morning, noon, and night but I had a few hours alone to catch my breath. I really felt energized from the time I was there. Thanks to a very generous friend, I was given their entire house (while they were away) for my stay and I had some good time for rest and reflection. Across from the house I stayed in was this amazing view!


Denver is fast becoming my second home, again!










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9 Responses to “Denver Report”

  1. karen mcneil says:

    John,

    As I follow your journey and try my best to understand it, I wonder just how much of your past thinking you have changed in order to reconcile where you are going. For instance, I don’t think you can say scripture is silent on sex outside of marriage. Would you agree that heterosexuals who are not married should abstain from sex? What if they are in long term committed relationships?

    Would you say if they are Christians, they should abstain….even though their emotions are strong? If you would agree that scripture places these restrictions on us, wouldn’t that also include the homosexual community?

    I am only assuming here, but I would guess when you are talking about at least some of the “gay couples” you are meeting in churches where homosexuality is embraced that they are living as married couples. If so, how can we ask heterosexual couples not to?

    Karen

  2. Jon Trouten says:

    “How can we ask heterosexual couples not to” live as married couples? Maybe those gay couples *are* married couples.

  3. StraightGrandmother says:

    Why is everybody so obsessed with sex? When I grew up it used to be impolite to talk about sex. It was personal and you didn’t talk about it.

    Nowadays, everybody seems to think nothing at all of talking about the sex lives of people who are gay. As if it is their business.

    Wouldn’t we all be better off if we all just minded our own business? Why do you look at your neighbor, and point fingers and think that you have the right to talk about the sex lives of others?

    Each person can deal with their own morals and reconcile themselves to their religious beliefs, they don’t need any extra people butting in.

  4. John Smid says:

    Karen,
    I hold to a belief that marriage does not require a state document in order to be a marriage. State documents are there to lay down an agreement with a legal standing in the event that a couple separates, and it adds certain legal benefits to the couple who are signing it in agreement with the governmental standards.

    Therefore, a couple must make the decision for themselves what it means to be married and if it does not include a state document, then their commitment will be between them and God, if they choose to include Him in their life decision.

    Therefore, I do not believe the government has made its best decision getting involved in religious rites. The religious rite of marriage should have never been governed by the state, or national government. This is where the separation of church and state should have drawn the lines.

    If the government wants to provide a “relationship” document that gives the parties certain benefits, they should not make it marriage, rather a relationship document.

    Ultimately, any person who chooses to engage in a relationship must choose for themselves who their Lord is, and how they will live in communion with their convictions and beliefs.

    An older couple who decides to live together in a faithful committed relationship but chooses not to engage in a legal marriage for financial, or governmental reasons must have the freedom to do so. If they feel God has freed them from a legal document, but blesses their marriage, than so be it.

    If two men choose to live in a faithful relationship and believe that their faith, or religious convictions allow for this arrangement, then they must be free to figure this out in their own religious convictions.

    Who am I to say that someone may, or may not live in a relationship arrangement they choose?

    A long time ago, I chose not to allow a legal document, that was written by the state, speak to how someone chooses to live out their own convictions, religious or otherwise, regarding their relationship choices.

    I’m not sure if I am answering your questions but it seemed you were seeking my thoughts on marriage arrangements.

  5. Dan Hoeksema says:

    John,
    Marriage as spelled out in the Bible, is only to be between a man & a woman. God has made it implicitly clear that there is only one way He accepts marriage,or as you may say, “relationship choices”, and that is between one man, and one woman! It is clear and there is no way to mis-interpret what He says! He even uses it as an example when He talks about Christ being The Bridegroom, and His church being The Bride! But you know scripture as well as I do, and you know what it says, and sadly enough for many gay individuals who are practicing a same sex “marriage or relationship”, it just is not all inclusive!!

    “Generous Spaciousness” is just not acceptable today, as your guest blogger has intimated,as it does nothing but confuses the issue at hand, and weakens scriptures’ stand as God Himself has written it! Marriage is an institution that was created by God, and is ONLY to be practiced, and enjoyed by one man and one woman as God has ordained!!

    I have experienced Gods’ Grace in my life, and I am not a “gay basher”, nor am I “homophobic”, but I do know beyond a shadow of any doubt what The Bible says, and I am willing to accept it in its’ entirety, and to live by the principles that have been set forth, applying them as a Gold Standard in my life!! What God has ordained is good enough for me!!

    I love you John, and we have been friends for a long time, and I am always willing to dialogue with you on what I believe scripture says!! Peace!!!

  6. Michael Watt says:

    Dan,

    I am a little curious about your statement “Marriage as spelled out in the Bible, is only to be between a man & a woman. God has made it implicitly clear that there is only one way He accepts marriage,or as you may say, ‘relationship choices’, and that is between one man, and one woman! It is clear and there is no way to mis-interpret what He says!”

    How do you explain the following passages?

    In Genesis 4:19, the Bible says that Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

    In Genesis 30 and 31 we read about Jacob and his two wives, Leah and Rachel

    In 1 Samuel 1, we read about Samuel’s father Elkanah having two wives, Hannah and Peninnah.

    At no point in reading these passages or the ones that follow do I read that God had a problem with these men having more than one wife. As a result, I do not think “God has made it implicitly clear that there is only one way He accepts marriage…..and that is between one man, and one woman!”

  7. tim warner says:

    @ Dan: I have extreme trouble with the phrase and concept of “gay marriage” for much the same reasons which you express, Dan. But my question is to you, what do you say are the options for people who are homosexual?
    -Tim

  8. Dan Hoeksema says:

    In answer to Michael’s comment: God gave the example of Adam & Eve, and throughout The Old Testament there are many other examples of seemingly non-monogamous situations that you didn’t talk about, i.e.: Solomon and his many wives and concubines, and David w/ Bathsheba, but in every case, God was not pleased, it was not His Perfect Plan, and I have no idea why He didn’t come down harder on it; BUT, throughout the Bible, there is not one example of a “same sex union” between anyone, or mention of it being alright! It is just not acceptable in God’s sight!!( Read the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20, as set forth especially in #’s 5, 7, and 10!)

    In answer to you Tim: There really are no options!! Living a celibate life much as the apostle Paul talked about is totally acceptable, and having deep friendships such as mentioned about Timothy, and others such as Silas and Barnabas,or even in the Old Testament as mentioned between David & Jonathon. You can also pray that God changes your heart towards the opposite sex, and brings someone of the opposite sex alongside you as a life-long companion in marriage!! Marriage unfortunately may not be for everyone! Anything and All things are possible through God; I believe that, and I live that way, and it works for me!!

    I know many friends and customers who have lived together as “friends only” in non-sexual living arrangements for many years, and it works for them!! I love my gay and homosexual brothers and sisters who are friends, and I feel the pain that many of them have experienced in life from feeling un-accepted and persecuted!

    The only way to feel True Freedom in one’s life is to give it all over to Jesus, and let His Grace carry the load! There is nothing in this life better than Knowing you are right with God, and living in a way that is pleasing to Him!!!

  9. tim warner says:

    Thanks Dan. I appreciate your thoughtfulness on this matter which is obviously not your personal issue. The kind of openness you display and invite is more of what is needed within the Church, I think.

    If the feeling of being a social and religious pariah were erased, I believe that a lot more homosexually constituted folks would find greater authentic support and encouragement within the Body of Christ. And those as such would also be more inclined to move through the homosexual issue into more wholeness, more integration. I appreciate your insight here.
    Tim

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