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Monday Memo - July 29

I want you to know how grateful I am that I can have this current Crucial Conversation on Same Sex Marriage with people like you. You are sharp, thoughtful, and desire most of all to evaluate and ultimately conform your beliefs and attitudes to the Scripture. I appreciate the diversity among us and the genuine personal issues involved in this matter. One person was asking for wisdom Sunday regarding the fact that their eight year old was friends with another boy at school who had two mommies. They do some overnights, etc. Complicated.

We will conclude this current series this Sunday, and then August 11, when we go to three services at 9:15, 11:00 and 12:30, we begin a new series entitled STALLED? get moving again. Let’s face it, we can all end up stalled on the side of the road spiritually, emotionally, can’t figure why, let alone get started again. You won’t want to miss one week of this practical series.

At staff prayer this morning, I read Titus 2:11-15. It seemed to fit well with our “conversation” we are having right now.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and purify Himself, and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

                                                                                                            Titus 2:11-15

Also, don’t forget about GFC night at the Johnson City Cardinal’s game this Wednesday, July 31st!  National anthem and first pitch are at 6:45 pm.  It’s free admission, so come on out and support Rise Up! through donations and concessions.

See you Sunday!

P.S. Here is the full copy of one of the letters I referred to last Sunday.

A Letter to my brothers and sisters at GFC:

            I would love nothing better than to stand before you and tell you all how much you mean to me. How much I would be lost without you.  After some prayer and consideration, it appears best to write to you just for now.

        I won’t make it long and I’ll try to keep it straight forward and informative without drama.  A short letter to introduce a very complex issue. Only God can pull this off. I trust He will.

            As a young boy I was very sensitive, maybe too much. I was funny, kind and smart. But not really what my dad had in mind for me as a son. He distanced himself from me and I was left without a male role model or a guide. Getting help from him was not an option. I was left with several things: (1) a desparate need for male guidance and attention, and (2) confusion about masculinity.  This is a tough combination for some boys to carry into puberty.

            In my early teens, I knew that I was attracted to males but looking back, I do not believe it was a sexual attraction at that time. I was looking for what they had…maleness/masculinity.  This was a pre-disposition for sexual trouble, but not a pre-determination for homosexuality.  On my own, the trouble came.  

            I met several older men who gave me emotional and physical attention and I responded.  At this vulnerable age, my brain now began to make the connection between the needs and sexuality.  There  was probably no turning back.  My brain was getting hard wired to same sex attraction.  If I had had access to some guidance early on, it may have been different.  I will never know.  One thing I truly believe now, is that there is no evidence that homosexuals are born this way.  Homosexuality promised me an identity, friends, love and acceptance.  It was a lie.

            Over the years, I had many bouts with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.  I tried living a hybrid Christian life while living a gay lifestyle.  I finally went to talk a pastor for some direction and his advice was as follows:  “maybe you just need to come to grips with it young man. God doesn’t make mistakes and He will love you regardless.”  I guess I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  A man of God had just told me it was OK.  It is possible to marry my faith in Christ with my lifestyle.  It didn’t dawn on me that he never once mentioned the Word of God or God’s design for sexuality to me.  Later I would look back on this and feel betrayed and lied to. 

            I remember pacing around my apartment complex parking lot begging and pleading with Jesus to take this away from me so that I could live a normal life without the guilt and shame.  He did not. Because…I wasn’t really repenting.  I was too scared to let go, not knowing where it would lead.  In reality, it was rebellion and independence against God.  There had to come a tipping point, so He allowed me to continue in the painful consequences.  In short, I eventually became so despondent that there was no alternative but to reach out to the Lord.  If I hadn’t wanted a relationship with the Lord, I believe I would not have agonized so much.

            God was long-suffering with me.  He waited for me to get real with Him and I determined to rely on Christ for my salvation and the Holy Spirit for learning obedience out of gratitude.  Little by little He began to separate the sexual attraction to men from the needs that led me into it.  The healing continues.  I don’t care what it means as far as future relationships.  I just want to know Him better and bring glory to Him.  He is re-wiring me.  He is softening my heart and the bitterness and anger is receding. What a merciful King we have in Jesus.  I am no longer living outside His Design.  

            One last thing I would like to leave you with; I am absolutely not an advocate of same sex marriage.  Quite the opposite.  Just as homosexuality has had long and lasting personal consequences for me, same sex marriage will have consequences for society and for our kids.  They need a father and mother by God’s design.  I cannot support something that God cannot support.  Remove the political and emotional pulls and remain in the His Word.  I will stand on His Word even if the world hates me for it and calls me all kinds of names.  I have felt more shame than anyone could ever feel disgust for my past behaviors.  I love and feel for homosexuals, but I pray for their deliverance.

            You are my family now.  I live more and more in His peace as I grow in Him.  Please consider before the Lord, that you may open your hearts to those of us that have truly repented and turned to the Lord in response to His call,  or those that want to and struggle mightily before Him.  There are many many more that never do.

            P.S.  The people that tried to make me feel better and didn’t defend God’s Word in dealing with me, I no longer remember.  But the ones that loved me yet faithfully stood on the Word in front of me are still in my life today. The Lord worked His grace through them.

Yours truly,

A GFC brother

Grace and peace, 

Tom Oyler
Lead Pastor   


Looking Ahead

"Crucial Conversations:  Same Sex Marriage (Part 2)"  

As important and often controversial topics arise in our culture, we will periodically be addressing them between sermons series.  Join us this Sunday as we continue to discuss the topic of Same Sex Marriage.


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