by Phil Hobizal, Founder of Portland Fellowship
Portland Fellowship is a sister ministry of Mid-Valley Fellowship in Portland, Oregon. Those who seek out Portland Fellowship have been wounded by past hurts and taken captive by the desire to fulfill unmet needs for love and affirmation through (unwanted) same-sex desires and relationships. Portland Fellowship seeks to help equip men and women to walk in freedom from these desires as transformation takes place. In this article, originally published in Portland Fellowship’s newsletter, founder Phil Hobizal unpacks the curriculum that Portland Fellowship created, Taking Back Ground, that is used in ministries across the country and around the world, including Mid-Valley Fellowship. This is the second of a multi-part series.
Taking Back Ground: Section Two
• Redemption: God’s Message of Hope
• Imitating Christ
• The Marred Image of the Father
• Developing an Intimacy with Christ
• Empowering the Will
• New Life in Christ
“Apart from me you can do nothing.” –John 15:5. In Section Two of the first year of the Taking Back Ground series, we look at “Knowing God in Our Struggle”. As believers in Christ, we understand the Gospel message, but many of us have not invited Him into the deepest parts of our struggles.
In the beginning of Portland Fellowship, we were just a drop-in group, sitting around sharing our struggles. We would discuss relevant topics and valued listening to each individual, and many of the lessons in this series come from that time. Unfortunately, at times our dialogue would digress into negative and unhelpful conversation. It became apparent that we needed to focus our attention on God first. Thus, worship time was introduced in our gatherings and has become a rich part of our time together. Intentionally focusing on God has allowed the Holy Spirit to touch
places in our hearts no words could reach. Our worship times have been unlike any other I’ve experienced, bringing to light the verse, “He who is forgiven much, rejoices much” (Luke 7:47, paraphrased).
Redemption is God’s plan for humanity, and the hope for strugglers of same-sex attraction. At times, it feels impossible to believe we could be forgiven for some of the things we have done. However, God’s love extends beyond our limitations and is able to free us from the guilt and shame that holds us captive. There is nothing hidden from Him. Recognizing His love for us, “In that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), we can know a newness of life brought about by the cross.
Authority figures in our lives can become an obstacle to knowing a truly loving Father God. They have a responsibility, whether they realize it or not, of showing God’s protection and provision for us. For some, our earthly parent or authority figure’s weaknesses can be transferred onto our perception of God. We all must learn that God is not distant, conditionally loving, demanding or abusive. He has known us from conception and has a future planned for us. God’s love is such that He is unwilling to share our affections. He jealously longs for our devotion. Yet, like Israel, idols have arisen to draw us away from Him. Sexual desires, human relationships and physical beauty, to name a few, can take hold of our hearts and keep us from fully surrendering to God’s purposes for us. We are called to willingly lay down those things that threaten our lives in Christ.
Jesus is the bridge from a religious knowledge of God to a human expression of His love. He was tempted, knew rejection and was betrayed—all this while knowing full well that His life would come to a gruesome end in order for us to be free. His promises of a coming Kingdom and the deposit of His Spirit fill us with an eternal perspective that this life is temporal, and these struggles are nothing compared to the glory He will reveal in us. Overcoming anything on our own strength requires great determination and will-power. Eventually, though, we come to the end of our abilities. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would come to reside in us as we surrender to Him. He convicts, comforts and teaches us to walk in righteousness. We are empowered, not by our own strength, but by God’s indwelling presence; and as we grow in our dependence, we live a new life, born of the Spirit. As we grow in our relationship with God, the old things that held onto us gradually lose their appeal. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. And we understand that God rewards those who diligently seek after Him. God is not leading us to be “just normal”, but to become exceptional new creatures.
Struggling with Sexual Wholeness?