Lifestyle

In Your Present Reality..

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We were riding down the roads of Easley, South Carolina with grief in our hearts. There was a heart wrenching silence in the car so loud you could hear the desperate thoughts going through our minds. Thoughts of why. Why has this happened to us? Thoughts of when. When will it end, Lord? You see, Bayleigh’s family had experienced a tragedy so painful you could feel it whilst looking into their eyes. We felt as if everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. We were spent, having no more to give and couldn’t take anymore. I broke the silence with a simple question, “Bayleigh, what’s on your mind?” And she replied, “I want to escape but I know that I can’t.”

What do you do when your present reality doesn’t match your faithful expectations? What do you do when all you want is to escape but you can’t? This past month I have been face with these types of questions. Even more, I have been faced with a silent absence of answers. Without going into detail, Bayleigh’s family experienced two unexpected deaths of a husband and a wife; a mother and a father; a Papa and a Mimi. The experience of laying to rest the people we care for the most has blindsided a family full of joy, peace, and righteousness.

This past Thanksgiving, I planned to go home to my family and surprise them. I did so and I loved every moment of it. Then out of nowhere, my mother whom I love, started to shut me out again. We haven’t always had the best relationship. It hurts to know that she has been my mom since the day I was born, yet I do not know her favorite color, song, or even food. I want to escape this realty.

In the midst of all the pain and turmoil the Lord spoke to my broken and confused heart. Take a walk with me as I share with you the healing words of Jesus weighing on my heart this week.

I am reminded of last year amid personal turmoil. I was deeply struggling with same sex attraction. I would wake up with freedom on my mind, yet go to bed with porn in my search history. I would look in the mirror and be unsatisfied with the emptiness that I saw. I wanted to escape but I felt like I couldn’t.

Matthew 4:18-20
As he was walking by the shore of Lake Galilee, Jesus noticed two fishermen who were brothers. One was named Keefa (later called Peter, the rock), and the other was Andrew, his brother. Watching as they were casting their nets into the water, Jesus called out to them and said, “Come and follow me, and I will transform you into men who catch people for God.

Its hard for me to believe that Jesus would just pick any random group of guys to follow Him. For He once stated that He only does and says what He sees and hears the Father do. In other words, there was a reason Jesus chose Peter and Andrew to lay down their nets and follow Him forever. What if that reason was their need for an escape from their present reality? I can just imagine Peter and Andrew waking every morning and getting ready for work. As they prepare for the day, they read the Word of God but feel stuck; paralyzed by the fact that their present reality does not match that of the men who God walked with in scripture. Looking into the mirror and feeling unsatisfied with the way their lives are, these fishermen wanted to be a part of God’s global vocation of Israel. I can see them praying in desperation, “Lord, fix me! Do whatever you have to do to get me out of this endless cycle!” Just as narrated in Matthew 4:18-20, God answered their prayers in a way the never expected. Jesus was and still is the answer to the prayer of desperation. I can see Jesus working in and through the story of Peter and Andrew for He cared so much about the freedom and overall purpose of these fishermen. Know it to be true, He cares as much about your freedom and overall purpose. To prove the truth, I want to enlighten you of what Jesus was really doing in the narrative of Peter and Andrew.

  1. In your present reality, JESUS IS NEAR.

    “As he was walking by the shore of Lake Galilee,…”
    I question why he was on the shore in the first place? Surely the Son of God wouldn’t be aimlessly strolling down the beach, passing time. So, what in the world was Jesus doing? In Peter’s and Andrew’s present reality, he was near. Jesus was there on one of the many days that these brothers were waiting for hope to escape. In your present reality, JESUS IS NEAR. I know you feel alone. I know you are questioning where God dropped you off. Don’t lose hope for Jesus is in the background waiting. Waiting for the grace to rescue, for a gift without the right time is not valuable.

  2. In your present reality, JESUS SEES.

    “Jesus noticed two fishermen”
    Just like I mentioned, Jesus only does and says what He sees and hears the Father do. So, when Jesus noticed two fishermen it wasn’t just Jesus noticing two fishermen. This was the Father and all of heaven noticing two men longing for freedom and transformation. This was the Father creating a Kairos moment that would change the course of their history and ultimately the history of the world. The Father is a father who sees your mess and isn’t afraid of encountering it.

  3. In your present reality, JESUS KNOWS.

    “Watching as they were casting their nets into the water,”
    With every toss of the net Jesus knew. He knew they felt stuck. He knew they wanted to escape their struggle, their cycle. Not only did He know, He wasn’t afraid or disappointed by what He knew. The Lord knows where you are and He is not worried. He is more overjoyed than you would think. You see struggle, He sees future beauty. You see hopelessness, He sees opportunity.

  4. In your present reality, JESUS FREES YOU TO TRANSFORM YOU.

    “Come and follow me and I will transform you into men who catch people for God.”
    It is interesting to me that Jesus calls them to follow him before transformation began. It is against the Gospel to believe you must fix yourself before you can follow the lover of your soul. Jesus told Peter and Andrew to follow and He will transform them. Little did they know that the key to their freedom, the key to their escape is following Jesus. You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. Jesus said I am the way the TRUTH and the life. In other words, when you come to know, intimately know Jesus, transformation takes place in your life. Answering the call is what frees you, following is what transforms you.

    Hard to believe?

    “immediately they dropped their nets and left everything behind to follow..”
    Why was it so easy for these fishermen to leave everything they knew behind? Because they knew the escape from their present reality had walked down the shore and beckoned, “Come!”

What do you do when you feel like escaping your present reality?
TAKE A WALK, FOR IN YOUR WALK LIES TRANSFORMATION!

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Jesus Helped Me Come Out..

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Probably the hardest thing for me, as someone who has experienced a drastic life transformation, is properly communicating my passion for those around me who I see making a decision to allow God to change them from the inside out. Inherently, I want to help others speed up their process. My heart breaks to see people who are taking similar walks as mine with the same God yet no transformation is taking place. If you are someone who has decided to allow God to change you from the inside out in the area of homosexuality and/or same sex attraction and you are not seeing results similar to the ones I have experienced, I want to encourage you to make a shift in your pursuit.

It is perfectly okay to stop and evaluate where your life is going by the decisions you make and the beliefs you carry. When the Apollo spacecraft went up into space, there had to be course corrections made every ten minutes. In order words, they had to recalibrate their system to stay on the right path. The journey to the moon was made in a zigzag. When the spacecraft eventually landed, it just barely made it within a 500-mile designated landing zone by a few feet. Yet the whole flight was successful. Some times in our life we have to make course corrections because this life is a long journey. Our lives could easily get off course not because of intent but over time we might lose focus or allow a complacent belief to settle in our hearts. So I want to share with you a few “course corrections” that I have learned in my journey. Read these carefully and apply them if needed for every decision determines your destiny. Where are you going to end up in a year, five years, or at the end of your life journey with the decisions you are making today?

 1. Live a lifestyle of Holiness

If God has taking the time to pull you out of darkness and into His marvelous light, I believe the best response is to stay in the light. Think about the moment(s) where God collided with your life and everything changed. Did you get up from that place and begin a life that resembles change? Or Did you get up from that place and only allow the change made in your heart to stay in your heart?

Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!” But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”
“Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded. The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him. (John 5:1-15)

In John chapter 5, Jesus was talking to a man who was paralyzed for most of his life. He saw that the man desired to be healed. The paralytic man sat on his mat year after year watching other people walk into their destiny of wholeness and holiness. Yet this man, stayed where he was for no one would help him until Jesus came and changed his life forever. Jesus only spoke to this man three times. The last time he spoke to him was in the place of worship. This man had been made whole and he was in the place of worship pursue the one who transformed his. Little did he know, God was in the business of transforming not transformed. Jesus told him to pursue holiness because he had received wholeness.

It is not enough for us to only worship the Father for what He has done. Through a heart of pursuit, we must allow our wholeness to cultivate a life of holiness. For a whole person who lives a life of holiness will experience the transforming ways of God rather than only a transformed way of God.

I was shocked when I read the last part of what Jesus said, “or something worse may happen to you.” Be careful not to read the statements of Jesus with a mindset of religion. Jesus was not saying that God would cause something to happen to this man. Our God is God the Father not the God Father. If Jesus was to say this statement to us (and He is), this statement would be about our ultimate destiny. Our walk with God is not just our walk with God. Behind the scenes, God has combined our past with our future to orchestrate a present that will impact those around us. It was an honor for me to sit in front of a lesbian, tell her my story the one in “Straight Outta LGBT”, and to hear her response. She called me a liar. She couldn’t believe that I was gay before she met me. My past collided with my future and impacted her life in my present. What if I would have never allowed my wholeness to cultivate holiness in my life from the inside out? What if my outer demeanor did not match my story. Would she have called me a liar in a dishonorable way? Could she believe that I was straight after hearing my story and meeting the Zachary of today?

2. Follow Jesus daily.

“Now just as you have accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6)

The one thing I absolutely love about having a relationship with Jesus is the fact that I have a relationship with Jesus. Our relationship, like any other relationship, is a daily effort. There are times in my relationship with Bayleigh where both of our wills clash and a compromise has to form or a boundary has to be built. The same goes for my relationship with Jesus. I daily get the privilege to discover that my will and His will for my life clash. Relationship clashes are not entirely bad, for a clash is where intimacy is birthed. So follow Jesus daily and you will find out some things in your life, as did I, clash with the purpose of God on your life. Do not fret, for what He has laid behind your realtionship’s compromises or boundaries are better than what you are settling for without Him.

3. Come out

“I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:16-18)

The hardest part of living a life of holiness and daily following Jesus was the coming out part. When I came out of the closet as a homosexual my one fear was acceptance from those around me. Similar to that experience, when I made the decision to come out of coming out I was stricken with fear that my friends and classmates wouldn’t accept me. Allow me to explain, at this point in my life I was no longer a homosexual yet I was struggling with same sex attraction. My outer appearance or rather my demeanor did not translate that I had been set free. I dressed and performed in a way that seemed natural to me yet it wasn’t supernaturally driven. I’ve heard it said before, “Taking Israel out of Egypt was easy, but the problem was taking Egypt out of Israel.” That is exactly what was happening for me. God had pulled me out of darkness and into His marvelous light yet some darkness was still inside of me. Insecurity was still living on the inside, Fear of man was still there, and Godly masculinity had no part in my life. For the longest time I had a struggle with stepping into complete freedom of same sex attraction because my motives were wrong. Jesus showed me that to be motivated by acceptance of others is a fancy way to say, “I am fearful of man’s opinions.” A shift did not happen until I shifted my motive. As stated in 2 Corinthians 6, God gave me a promise of intimacy and that promise is what motivated me to come out. It wasn’t hard for me to change who I spent my time with because it would mean I could have more intimate time with Jesus. It wasn’t hard for me to change the way that I dressed and acted because I was given the opportunity to be clothe with righteousness, resembling the character of God. So I came out. I separated myself from the world and to God. I stop associating with unholy lifestyles. I did not do it to make my school, classmates, housemates, or pastors happy. I did it because I had a promise and I believed His dream.

Look at your promises.
What Egypt can keep you from coming out of darkness and going into light?

Jesus Did Not Tell Me To Be STRAIGHT.

A response to a few negative comments on “Straight Outta LGBT”

Click Here to Read “Straight Outta LGBT”

In my journey (from homosexuality, to same sex attraction, to freedom), Jesus never told me that I had to become straight in order to experience the kingdom of God. Of all the times He spoke to my situations He NEVER said, “If you do not start liking women right now, I will cut you off.” That is not the nature of a loving fatherly God. Yes He is a master and we are his servants but He is a wise master; a master at being Father. Unlike a lot of us Christ followers, God reveals who we can be over who we are rather than labeling who we are to scare us into being who we can be. For example, I was openly gay and it was obvious that a special sect of Christianity had a mandate from Superior Judgment to remind me of my sin in case I had forgotten on the way to Wal-Mart. Their tactic was to shame me into freedom. Like most of the LGBT today, I was far from desiring what they were preaching at me. One day the true Jesus revealed to me specific truths about my life. I am talking about the Jesus of the Bible. I am not talking about church. I am not talking about religion. I am not talking about a pastor’s voice that I labeled Jesus to convince you that there is a real Jesus. I. Am. Talking. About. Jesus. Eyes like fire. Hair like wool. Voice of many waters. Jesus. Allow me to stop right there and apologize to anyone who has read my recent blog post “Straight Outta LGBT” for any misunderstanding. In the post I never said “I have been cured… LGBT needs my cure… Gays are disgusting… the church made me change… a pastor convinced me to be straight… etc.” I want to take this time to try my best to explain further what my journey is.

Jesus told me to live a life of holiness and wholeness.

Life as a Christian must resemble holiness and wholeness for it to be a valid Christian life. Holy- to be set apart, different from the world, or even better, to be like God; godly. In culture today Christianity is a hated subject. So it would be ludicrous for me to say “I am a gay Christian” allow me to explain. One of the main topics flooding the world of culture is Gay Rights and the LGBT. For me to be holy I have to be set apart from the world and set apart for God. How can I be set apart for God if I am in the world through the LGBT?

If I am to be in an intimate ongoing healthy relationship with Jesus my life will start to transform from brokenness into wholeness. When Paul said whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved he used a word in the Greek that doesn’t translate properly in English. The Greek word for save is sozo meaning to deliver out of danger into safety, to keep safe and sound, to make well. When Jesus came to me I asked him to save me. I didn’t know it in that moment, but I asked the Son of the God of the Universe to deliver me out of the danger that I was in and into the safety of an intimate holy, whole relationship with Him. Through that relationship He made me well.

Jesus did not tell me that homosexuality was wrong.

Read very closely, I am not a heretic. The bible specifically says that it is. Yet Jesus told me something deeper. He told me God’s peace, joy, and righteousness is better. I took Him up on that offer and my desire in letting my story be known to the world was not an attempt to bash the LGBT. My intent is to show others that what happened for me could happen for you. It would be stupid of me to sit here and not share why I have changed (overtime through relationship with Jesus). I do not ever want to discredit someone from having an experience with Jesus.

He is not calling you to be straight.

Although for my critics, I am not saying He’s okay with a homosexual lifestyle. He is calling you to be holy and whole. His peace, joy, and righteousness wrapped in perfect love is what can deliver you out of danger that you cannot see and into safety with the One that you have access to see. For the pure in heart, those who are holy and whole, will see God. How do you become pure in heart? Allow Jesus to make you holy and whole.

Last note, I mentioned a scripture from Romans 10:13. In the original Greek it reads, “Whoever indeed, that anyhow shall call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”…. if you are reading this and it spoke to your heart, I want you to listen to my heart. Yes, God sees your sin. Yes, we all know sin separates us from God but because of love He was never separated from pursuing you. I did not pursue Jesus and change instantly. I wasn’t even searching out from my life to change. Jesus came to me revealed His love to me and I made a decision to follow Him. I asked Him to save me and He did. It was His daily love for me that transformed me. He began a process with me that I am still in because we’re in a relationship. You too can have what I have. All you have to do is call on the One who pursues you, Jesus. Ask him to save you. Whoever, anyhow, shall call to Jesus WILL be saved.

Sometimes all it takes is to simply say “Jesus” to start new.

Life of Fire

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It is my deepest desire to live a life consumed by the fire of God.

I live in a culture (The Ramp) where virtually everyone is burning with love for Jesus. At times I catch myself wanting the passion that I see displayed all around me.

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I am even awestruck by Bible verses that give language to what I am seeing:

Do no put out the Spirit’s fire ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (ISV)

Let your light shine (burn) before people ~ Matthew 5:16

For “our God is an all-consuming fire.” ~ Hebrews 12:29

It is he who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. ~ Matthew 3:11

 

This is what I want to experience on a daily basis and because of Jesus I have access to the fire of God. It is my intent to wake up every morning and passionately pursue the heart of God. Why His heart? Because the heart of God is on fire. When I am close to His heart my heart is set on fire for the one whose fiery heart is for me. Like Moses, I want to experience the fire that calls me to a higher purpose. Like Isaiah, I want to encounter the fire that qualifies me. When I am in a dark season of my life, I want the fire of God to lead me to the sunrise of a new day like the Pillar of Fire over the Israelites. I am hungry for the fire that filled the upper room and empowered 120 followers of Jesus to turn the world upside down. But most of all, I never want to go a day without being eye to eye with the One who has eyes like fire. His eyes are full of passionate love waiting to consume our hearts and capture our gaze. If you know my story you that when I looked into His eyes for the very first time all other lovers burned away through the fire of His passion. All of my struggles vanished and all doubts and questions were silenced under the One. He not only burned away my past with one look in His eyes, He set my heart ablaze for His Gospel. I am a burning one consumed by the all consuming one. Every day He has my gaze and every day I want to seek after the Fire.

Seek First…

Straight Outta LGBT

 

I have been in the presence of God plenty of times. I have read my bible for years and I’ve prayed for God to miraculously take SSA (same sex attraction) away but nothing happened.

I’m not saying those things don’t work because I know of people who have had and encounter with God and SSA completely vanished, but for me it wasn’t like that.

Why did I not receive complete deliverance at one of the hundreds of altar calls that I answered? Was there something wrong with me? Did God just not like me as much as others? Did I not deserve deliverance because God supposedly “hates” gays? Some of my questions never received answers but I knew God didn’t play favorites and he has great gifts for his sons and daughters. I had a deliverance destined for me! My problem was I didn’t know how to get it.

My name is Zach and I was an openly gay teen. I loved God but he wasn’t my only lover. For the longest time I never understood why I was attracted to the same sex and why everyone else was born normal. Since I can remember I have always been different from other guys. When I was in elementary school I was treated differently. I can even remember it only took my first best friend one day to never speak to me again in kindergarten because I was too weird. At the age of ten, I was molested by a guy. I never had a dad to run to so for years I wrestled with why. Why was I the victim? Maybe my difference translated into vulnerability to him. Throughout middle school I was bullied and labeled gay. At that point in my life I had no identity. I didn’t stand for anything so I fell for everything. I accepted the label.My difference became homosexuality.

I learned fast that accepting the labels didn’t stop the labeling. Agreeing with Nay Sayers fueled the fire rather than quieting the crowd. In the middle of all the chaos I decided to follow Jesus. Little did I know following Jesus is not a quick fix for my life. That decision actually made everything harder. Now I had the responsibility of proving to everyone that I somehow quit cold turkey and am no longer attracted to guys. I was in a whirlwind of emotions and identities. My life started to spiral out of control. I fell into depression and started to harm myself. My family started to distance themselves from me. I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t know what to do if I was put in their position.

Fast forward a few years, in the midst of my messy life God began to encounter me on a deep level. I wasn’t in any way seeking Him or desiring what He gave me. He came out of left field. I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit without knowing what it was but from that moment on I could sense God’s love peeling back layers of pain and rejection that had gripped my heart. He began to speak to me in the most intimate way. It made no sense to me that a Holy God chose to encounter and speak to the heart of an openly gay teen. Even as I write this post I am reminded of Mary Magdalene, a lover of Jesus by day but a whore by night. It makes sense now that God would want to love me. How could He become my Father without stepping into my mess like He did for Mary?

Through God lavishing me with His love, I began to realize that a lot of my problems, if not all of them, were an issue of the way that I think. Ephesians 4:23 says, “.. let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitude.” That’s exactly what I began to do. I began to pray, “Lord, cut on me; don’t cut me off.” This process taught me that a relationship with Jesus is just that. It’s a relationship. It takes time and investment. It is a journey. In this journey I have learned how to personally overcome homosexuality and same sex attraction. Before you continue reading, this is not “THE WAY” to see freedom in your life. This is the way God led me to freedom. Your relationship with God is personal and unique. What works for me might not work for you. After all this is Christianity not a one way American dream.

  1. I had to realize that God is taking me on a journey that no one else has been on because it is my journey.

    I could sit down with all the counselors in the world and try to get help from them but without God I will never change. He created me therefore He has the answers.

  2. For me homosexuality and same sex attraction was an issue of the mind and heart.

    The voice in my head that is always speaking nonstop is what fueled my issues. It wasn’t molestation that caused me to be gay. It wasn’t an absent father that caused homosexuality. It wasn’t being born different that caused same sex attraction. My experiences do not cause my problems. What I thought about my experiences is what causes my problems. In other words, if I can change what my mind dwells on I can change my life. Holy Spirit led me to stop saying “I am a gay Christian.” to “I struggle with same sex attraction.” I am glad He didn’t stop there because that sounds like from bondage to bondage. That small shift in mindset laid a foundation and opened the door for complete freedom. Shortly after, I began to declare, “Same sex attraction is not a sign of a lack of love, it is a symptom of spiritual brokenness and I am no longer broken.”

  3. I am attracted to that which is mysterious.

    Holy Spirit spoke this to me recently and it makes so much sense. The only reason I was attracted to the same sex is because I saw guys as a mystery. Therefore I wanted to get close to what I didn’t understand. Seems weird, but remember that I was treated differently even from birth. My experience did not create this mystery, my thought process of the treatment did. So I decided to make what was common to me (girls) a mystery and what was a mystery to me (boys) common. I stopped hanging out with girls and starting hanging out with guys. At first it was extremely awkward and uncomfortable but as time went by my life began to transform. He began to transform my life so drastically that my appearance even began to change!

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  4. When I looked into the eyes of fire, all other lovers burned away.

    The glue that held my freedom together was the fact that Jesus desired to be intimate with me. The most intimate people lock eyes with each other. Watch your parents. They love each other so they make intimate eye contact. When I locked eyes with the one who died for me everything changed. I began to become like the one I daily behold.

These short simple truths changed my life completely. Now I live in complete freedom from homosexuality and same sex attraction. Now I live a life free from SSA and full of attraction for God and my wonderful girlfriend, Bayleigh West.

God did not just deliver me out of darkness without delivering me into His marvelous light!

 

UPDATE: I wrote this blog in July of 2016. I am now married to that beautiful woman, Bayleigh Autumn Holder. We are currently starting our family and are on fire for Jesus like never before. We are missionaries who believe in finishing the Great Commission, but most of all, I no longer am attracted to men! No more thoughts. No more desires. No more confusion. What about God?! 8/3/17

Click here to read my wife’s role in my freedom story!