I’m Nicholas


I’m Nicholas and I have struggled with same-sex attraction for as long as I can remember. Most (if not all) of my desires for romantic love have been solely for men. I believe that these desires are o

utside of Jesus’ biblical design, so these feelings were an object of shame growing up. I heard of no one who dealt with these feelings, so they also were a source of isolation. However, in 2015, I became a part of Living Hope Ministries.

Being at Living Hope has redefined my view of the words “church” and “grace.” For most of my life, the church was a place where people struggled invisibly–it was a place for people to be on their best (or at least better) behavior. To be a believer meant you were finished repenting, and through with messing up. However, from my first night at Living Hope, I saw a part of the church body that functioned differently. There are no walls to hide behind at Living Hope: you were there because you are struggling. In a way, by simply arriving at group, you were disclosing your “deepest, darkest secret” to everyone else. However, by admitting defeat, you were also accepting surrender.

At LHM, there is a profound recognition of our dependence on Christ’s power and help in a lifelong struggle. Living Hope’s culture of transparency and surrender has fundamentally shaped my idea of what it looks like to be a part of a church family. It showed me that as you begin to increase the awareness of your sin, it also increases your awareness and seriousness of God’s amazing grace.

In the same way that Living Hope redefined what I thought about church, it also opened my eyes to a deeper understanding of God’s grace for me. Growing up, I believed in a list of “unforgivable sins”: drug abuse, incarceration, infidelity, etc. So you can imagine my surprise during my first nights at group when guys were openly admitting to their struggles with masturbation and casual hook-ups. I was shocked! But what surprised me more was the understanding and forgiveness that met these confessions; nothing fazed our leaders. I suppose I theoretically knew about God’s unconditional love, but LHM was a place

that didn’t just s

tate a belief in unconditional love; they incarnated it. People listened to me as Jesus would; gave me eye contact; nodded their heads in understanding, and encouraged me with Truth.

Living Hope is the first place I felt safe to talk about my struggles with pornography, daddy issues, and sexual fantasies. These were things I never thought I’d share with anyone. But Living Hope was where I stopped simply acknowledging God’s grace and started living under it. I honestly can’t say where I might be if a place like Living Hope didn’t exist.

Additionally, LHM has ministered to my whole family: My older brother found LHM before I did and has been loved, supported, and grown so much because of them. My parents have also discovered support at LHM, connecting with the friends and family group and other same-sex-attracted people.  Also, I have been honored to connect friends who’ve come out to me, with the ministry of LHM. This is the kind of home I have found at Living Hope. It is a place where we all know we are not enough, but Jesus is enough!

When the Stadium Clears, Where Do I Stand?

by Erica

I grew up in a fairly progressive school environment and was 15 when gay marriage became legalized, so the concept of being gay was always lingering for me. 

Also, around that time is when I began attending a youth group. Following some trauma in my life, I was searching for answers to life’s biggest questions. The youth group offered that, along with free pizza, so I went. It was there that I accepted Christ as my Savior on a swing set behind the church. Sitting on that swing, my heart was moved at how beautifully and intricately he created everything around me, from the forest behind our church to my friends who were laughing together. I was struck by how God cared enough to have me as a part of that spectacular creation. I longed and prayed for God to use me intentionally and for His purpose. 

Within weeks I decided to attend a Christian school and suddenly found myself surrounded by kids of pastors and missionaries, who all somehow could quote both Bible verses and the Veggie Tales with ease. As silly as it may seem, I began to wonder if God really loved me as much as the guy whose parents owned a Chick-Fil-A. This sense of “other than” further exasperated my wrestling with sexuality. 

I began listening to Living Hope’s podcasts but didn’t put much thought into it. I was a teenager, after all, so I reasoned that I had all the time in the world to figure this out later. But through a series of events, I eventually became convicted that even my struggle with same-sex attraction was something the Lord wanted me to submit to him. I’m really grateful I had a place like Living Hope to go to that pointed me to God as I wrestled through my questions. I was mind-blown by a message so vastly different from the narrative I had been taught my whole life and believed: that if I felt even a little attraction towards another girl, then I was just gay and had to accept and embrace that. At Living Hope, I got to chill with a group of women and hear how they placed their identity in God’s hands. Being the youngest, it was especially special to me that I could look up to those who were further along in their journeys of overcoming this struggle. It gave me so much hope.

Passionate about the work the Lord was doing in my life and eager to share it with more people my age, I jumped at the opportunity this past spring to intern at a political ministry in Washington, D.C. which focused partially on the topic of homosexuality. Right after starting my internship, I wrote my first article on my SSA. While it was well-received by Christian leaders, I didn’t fully anticipate the level of backlash I would receive from having a controversial story. On top of that, I once again felt ‘other than’, this time in relation to the interns. I felt pressured to live up to this role as the “ex-gay” student without really even knowing what that meant. 

Amidst moving to a new city, dealing with a lockdown after the Capitol Riots, and figuring out who I was supposed to be as the “ex-gay” intern, a lesbian writer and activist, who used to be a part of Living Hope, asked to meet with me. After reading the article I had published, she told me her heart went out to me because she, too once believed that homosexuality was changeable but now was openly gay and still a believer. With no sense of community in my new environment, I allowed her and her wife to become my safe space to work through the things weighing heavy on my heart. 

What happened in that season is hard to comprehend, but God taught me a major lesson – one that I can only think to convey through the (perhaps stereotypical) metaphor of a basketball game. 

See, I trained alongside all these people called Christians, believed in what I was standing for, and was PUMPED to go out there and do my very best to show that.

DC was like a packed stadium, every seat filled with onlookers. It was SO exciting. But it wasn’t long until I realized that all those fans were cheering for the other team. So as the game went on, I started to listen to the pro-gay voices that told me I was talented and too valuable of a player to be playing for an unpopular position. I began to fold in the pressure, thinking, “Man, maybe I should be over there!” So, I threw just one point to them and listened to the crowd roar for me.

My teammates – other Christians – came up to me asking, “What are you doing?! I thought you were standing for truth with us?” I’m ashamed to admit that I blew them off, saying, “yeah, yeah. No worries! Look at my jersey; I am still on God’s team!” But as I threw point after point for the other team’s advantage, it became increasingly clear that my actions didn’t align with my convictions. 

Soon, I was handed everything I had dreamed of and that I thought would be enough: success, fame, a following, a “chosen family,” people saying how inspirational I was, people begging me to write a book someday, even journalists asking me for interviews. But there was one catch. That could all be mine only if I turned away from finding my identity in the Lord, and ultimately my relationship with him. 

I began to miss the God that touched my heart on the swing at the youth group – the One who filled my heart with His indescribable hope and joy. That joy had now been depleted and replaced with a hollow feeling. I became consumed by the confusion, lying, depression, anxiety, and selfishness accompanying my new gay identity and split life.

Good thing that God is in the business of cleaning up our messes because I for sure had made a huge one. When I cried out to him asking for him to take me back, he said to me, “My child, where do you think I’ve gone? I’ve been right here. Trust me and come back home.” 

I am also beyond thankful that Living Hope was just a phone call away to remind me of God’s love and grace and that my identity is found in him. Bonnie walked alongside me and was consistent and caring even when I pushed away or was kind of… okay, very… difficult. At Living Hope, they demonstrated to me Christlike love when they had every excuse and valid reason to give up walking with me. 

I was reminded that when, in the metaphorical basketball game of life, the buzzer hits at the end of the game, when the score I put so much weight into clicks off, when the stadium clears out and all the seats are left empty, the praise and rush I received won’t matter. What will matter is which side of the court I’m standing on and if that side is God’s. 

I expect this path I’m choosing to be filled with more hiccups, but I now know that God is enough in truly any circumstance that comes my way. He reminds me that He is enough to fill the big holes in my heart for affirmation and attention. He reminds me that He is enough of a Father for me not to be longing for an identity outside of being his daughter. He reminds me that He is enough to pull me back to Him, time and time again, when I am headed in a direction that is not His best. To the world, I know it looks as though I gave up something great, but God reminds me daily that he is greater. Those things I sought after were all temporal, but my walk with Him is eternal. 

He truly is all that I need. 

LHM Under Attack: Here’s The Truth

by Ricky Chelette, Executive Director


Living Hope Ministries (LHM), and ministries like LHM, are under attack.  Because LHM stands on God’s Word and design for human sexuality, our mere existence is a threat to those promoting beliefs and behaviors that fall far outside God’s Word and design. As a result, blogs, articles, podcasts, vodcasts, books, and even a “documentary” has recently been produced which specifically names LHM and me, as its leader, and assigning to us all manner of ill motivations, intentions, control, manipulation, and even harm. These accusations are blatantly false and represent a reinterpretation of reality in hopes of making the work of LHM illegal.


I am deeply saddened by these accusations, but not at all surprised. Believing that God’s Word is instructional for how we are to live our lives has never been the most popular worldview, but it is the worldview that brings redemption, peace, transformation, and reconciliation between God and man, and man to his fellow humans.


Rather than address each accusation or perceived biblical errors we have committed (you can read our doctrinal position on our website), I thought it best to tell you what Living Hope Ministries actually does for every person who seeks assistance from us.


  1. Living Hope believes God loves everyone, right where they are, whoever they are. No one is beyond the love of God. We believe God demonstrated His love for humanity by sending His Son, Jesus Christ into the world to redeem us from our sin (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8). We are not against anyone, but we are for everyone knowing Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord (1 Cor. 2:2).
  2. Living Hope only helps those who seek LHM for help (Jer. 29:23). People hear about LHM through their church, the internet, or friends and contact us desiring to find congruence between their feelings and their faith. With the instruction of God’s Word, we help people bring reconciliation and resolution to their dilemma and help restore relationships with God, family, and others. Every person participates at their choosing and is always free to leave. What kind of ministry would we be if we refused to help those who are seeking help? (Matt. 25:34-36)
  3. Living Hope believes the Gospel is transformational (Col. 1:13)! We believe that Jesus was the Son of God, that He entered our world to show us the Father; lived a perfect life; voluntarily took upon Himself the sins of humanity; suffered and died as the penalty for our sins; was buried but rose from the dead, is alive and presently seated at the right hand of God making intercession for those who believe in Him. We believe this gospel message radically transforms lives when fully embraced and empowered by God’s Spirit. (1 Cor. 15)
  4. Living Hope helps individuals understand who they are in Christ and live out that truth in their daily lives through discipleship based on God’s Word. Our identity in Christ as His beloved, image-bearing, son or daughter, is the foundational truth upon which every Christian’s identity is built. We do this by teaching the Bible, book-by-book, verse-by-verse, and allow the Word of God to instruct us. (Matt. 18:19-20)
  5. Living Hope provides free, peer-led, support groups where individuals can freely share their deepest struggles in a safe, confidential, Christ-centered, environment with others who understand their experiences and will direct them towards Christ. (James 5:16) Finding others who are on a journey similar to your own is a powerful experience. LHM provides a confidential, safe, and supportive environment for hope to grow and transformation to happen.
  6. Living Hope helps individuals embrace God’s design for His creation as male and female, man and woman, as He created them (Gen. 1:26-28) while celebrating the diversity of expressions of masculinity and femininity beyond societal misconceptions. As created beings who bear the ultimate Creator’s image, we believe the expressions of our lives are vast and should be celebrated, not limited to stereotypic, often culturally defined, expressions, yet uniquely male and female.
  7. Living Hope provides almost all ministry services for free: support groups, mentoring, online support forums, and speaking engagements. We are supported by the free-will donations of individuals and churches who believe in our mission and ministry.


I am amazed that people find what we do to be so controversial.  It is what Christians have done for thousands of years. As our mission states, “Living Hope Ministries seeks to proclaim God’s truth as we journey with those seeking sexual and relational wholeness through a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.”


As you hear, read, or watch things about LHM in the days to come, remember the thousands of individuals who have been helped by LHM over the past thirty-two years. If you want to know what we teach, listen to the hundreds of hours of biblical teachings and podcasts we have online. Most importantly, however, read and listen to the online testimonies of those who have found help and hope through LHM and are now living lives of selfless devotion to Christ and His Church.


Like the rich young ruler who chose to walk away from Christ’s invitation, LHM believes every person is free to make his or her own decision as to how they live, but should those who follow Christ have no option? There must be a place for those who desire to identify their lives with the unchanging God who created them, over their ever-changing feelings that are contrary to God’s Word. Living Hope Ministries is that safe place where love abounds, shame is replaced by the grace of our Savior, and there is no condemnation.


If you’d like to share your story of how LHM has impacted your life, we would love to hear from you. Remember, we are not fighting against flesh and blood, “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). Pray for LHM, her staff, and the thousands of people impacted by the gospel each week through the ministry of Living Hope!






Eden: The Starting Line of Obedience

by Bruno Borges, Men’s Minister

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'” (Genesis 2:15-17 – ESV)

One of the things I enjoyed doing in my early twenties was fishing. Although I didn’t get to do it much, I was super excited every time the guys from my church invited me to come along with them during the short New York summers. Now let me say that even though I enjoyed fishing, I wasn’t any good at it. I don’t recall ever catching a fish myself. Nonetheless, I loved being out at sea, watching others catch all these fish, and enjoying them for dinner later.

But one thing that caught my attention was how much a fish struggled out of the water. They would flap around the boat floor in desperation, and shortly after​, they would die. My sensitive soul felt terrible for the fish, but my stomach always spoke louder. However, as I pondered on that scene, I realized that the reason that fish struggled so much and eventually died was that it was no longer within the environment it was created to live within. The same is true for us!

In the last couple of years, I have had the opportunity to dive deep into the first three chapters of Genesis to wonder how life was before sin. And I must admit that I have fallen in love with God’s order of creation. Everything was created at the right time, in the right place, for the right purpose. Throughout creation, we see God creating the environment first, and then he creates the creatures to live in it.

In the first chapter of Genesis, we see God creating the heavens, the earth, and the sea. He then creates the birds to fly and roam the skies, the fish and sea creatures to swim in the depth of the oceans, and the plants and animals to populate the dry land. He then creates an exclusive garden where His presence would be and puts the man there to live in fellowship with Him.

God first creates the environment, and then He creates the creature to live and thrive in it. ​When you take an animal out of its proper environment, it struggles and eventually dies. You prohibit a bird from soaring and flying; it struggles and dies. You take a fish out of water; it struggles and dies. You take a plant or an animal out of dry land; it struggles and dies. You take Man out of God’s presence; he struggles, it malfunctions, and slowly but surely dies spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

The Garden of Eden represented God’s atmosphere where God established His presence. In Hebrew, the root of the word Eden is uncertain; however, the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, relates the word to the Hebrew verb eden or (ayden), which means “delight.” Therefore, Eden is translated as the garden of delight. Other occurrences of the word Eden in the Old Testament equate Eden with the garden of the Lord. Genesis 2:15-17 tells us that “God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'” It’s important to point out that the Woman has not yet been created at this point in scripture, and God is directing these actions and commandments to the Man. There are four essential lessons directed towards Men in this passage that have been a guiding compass to the Men’s Ministry at Living Hope.

1) “God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden” – First and foremost, Man was created to live in God’s presence. Therefore, God’s presence needs to be PRIORITY over any man’s life. It is only in God’s presence, in our unique garden, that we learn “to be with” and “to have” a relationship with the Almighty God. As men, we must seek to go back to our garden with God. Outside of this environment, we struggle, we malfunction, and we eventually die.

2) “… to work it” – Amid establishing a relationship with our heavenly Father, we discover what we are supposed to do in this life for Him. The Hebrew word for work utilized in this text is the word (abad), a verb connotation to the act of “service.” The term (abad) is also used throughout the Pentateuch to describe acts of service provided by the Levites. In other words, this command to “work” implies “service in God’s presence.” In modern vernacular, the Church would refer to this type of service as “calling,” or “ministry,” or “vocation.” As Men, we need to comprehend that we have been created to live a purpose-driven life in God’s presence through a higher and purposeful vocation and that we do not get to choose whatever we want to do. God has created each of us with a very specific calling in pro ​as part of His Kingdom. But We only honestly know what that calling, or “work,” is when we prioritize His presence; in our garden with Him.

3) “…and keep it.” The command to “work it” is immediately followed by the command to “keep it.” The Hebrew term used for “keep it” is (Shamar), which translates into the verbs “to cultivate” and “to guard” or “to protect.” Cultivating involves a series of actions, such as preparing, developing, and maintaining for the purpose of usage, which engages the instinct to guard and protect such a thing or person. This (Shamar) is a definition of biblical masculinity. Those of you who have been around LHM for a while have probably heard Ricky define biblical masculinity as “the authority God has given Man (males) to speak God’s truth into chaotic situations and give identity and direction.” In other words, as Men prioritize and spend time in God’s presence, they will understand who they are and what God has called them to do. ​Once a man understands this, he will do it or keep it through biblical masculinity. Consequently, he will then be able to fulfill Man’s greatest struggle; to honor God’s commandments.

4) And the Lord God commanded the man saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'” – Notice how God only asked the Man to keep His commandments AFTER making a habit to live in His presence, knowing his identity and calling, and exercising it productively. This order in creation shows us that it is only through fulfilling the first three that we are empowered, as Men, to do the other.

All the men who come to LHM do so thinking they are merely struggling with their sexuality. However, the struggle is plainly in keeping God’s commandments in His design for sexuality. What I have found as I meet with them are men who struggle to prioritize God’s presence, ​who have no idea what they are supposed to be doing with their lives, or often participate in jobs with no Kingdom-driven purposes​. They attempt to solve their life’s chaos by their knowledge and understanding instead of ​through God’s Word. No wonder we struggle to obey God’s commandments.

We are blessed by the Lord who ​enables us to journey with men and point them towards the presence of the Lord, establishing their garden with Him. ​In God’s garden, the Lord speaks His truth into the chaos of our struggles, bringing healing, identity, and directions on how to live for Him. Slowly but surely, we become strengthened and empowered to obey God’s commandments and embrace His unique design for sexuality.

How to Love LGBTQIA+ Friends and Family Yet Not Affirm Their Choices

by Marsha Inman, Friends and Family Director

A recurring question that we are asked here at Living Hope is “How do I show love to my child or loved one when I cannot affirm their gay or transgender identity?” The friends and family members who search out Living Hope are committed to their child or loved one, and they want to do the best job they can of loving them well, if only they knew how.  A good place to start might be to realize that “love” and “affirmation” are completely different concepts.  Those two words have been redefined by the culture, causing great confusion.  To clear up the confusion, it would be helpful to review the definitions of these words to make sure we are using them accurately.   Our culture, with the help of most media, has done a powerful job of portraying love as that warm feeling we get when we feel a romantic attraction toward someone or feel drawn to something adorable like a puppy.  Is that what love is? 

Love is used to describe everything from liking something to being obsessed with an object.  As Christians, the Greek word agape would be a better base for understanding love, since that is the type of love that Jesus modeled.  Some of the definitions of agape include “a pure, willful, sacrificial love that intentionally desires another’s highest good,” and a “deliberate and unconditional love that is the result of choices and behaviors rather than feelings and emotions.”  A Christian expression of love would be choosing to act towards a person in a way that promotes their highest good, even if doing so involved sacrifice on your part.   A person who was acting in love would not affirm untruths or point a person in a direction that they feel would harm them.  Christians must base their assessment of what would be harmful according to what is revealed in God’s Word.  It is loving to be honest with someone even when they aren’t going to like what you say. 

Affirming is a completely different and unrelated concept to love.  Its meanings are listed as to “declare one’s support for; uphold; defend,” to “accept or confirm the validity of; ratify” and to “offer emotional support or encouragement.”  In order to affirm someone, you would need to agree with them and offer them support and encouragement in their decision.  It has nothing to do with seeking their highest good but has everything to do with supportive feelings and voicing agreement.   

Does the Bible have any examples of loving someone well without affirming them?  There are many examples, but the account of Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well in John 4:7-39 is one that is particularly helpful.  Jesus surprised this woman, an outcast in her own community, by making Himself available to her.  This was highly countercultural.  There was every reason for Jesus to avoid contact with her – their differences in religious belief, ethnicity, culture, gender, and life choices – yet He intentionally reached out to engage her in conversation.  Jesus began their interaction by asking her for a favor, but during the course of their conversation, He offered her something she wanted; a way to avoid facing judgment from others when she came to get water.  As He continued their interaction, Jesus also spoke the truth to her.  While inviting her to know Him better, He spoke of her life choices in an uncondemning yet matter-of-fact way.  She knew her life was not as it should be.  Jesus spoke kindly yet truthfully to her, loving her well without affirming her life choices.   

Another passage that sheds light on what love looks like can be found in the familiar verses of 1 Corinthians 13.  If we are acting in love toward someone, we will be patient, kind, humble, not seek our own benefit, not get provoked to anger, not keep a record of how we have been wronged, refuse to affirm unrighteousness but rejoice in the truth.  If we act in love, we will continue to hope and endure whatever the situation brings.  There is nothing on that list that implies that it will be easy.  There is no need to be patient and refrain from anger when things are going our way.  We can only exhibit that kind of love with the Lord’s empowerment. 

Practically, what does it look like for the friends and family of loved ones who insist that we affirm them and abandon our scripturally based beliefs?  We can explain to them that we love them unconditionally – we are not basing our love for them on how they identify, feel, or even behave.  It might be helpful to explain to them that this means we are not insisting that they change in order to interact with us.  We can also tell them the distinction we make between love and affirmation – that we can absolutely love someone without agreeing with all the choices they make.  It is crucial to affirm the things about them that we can – character traits that we admire, talents where they shine, ways in which they excel in school, at their job, or in other aspects of their lives.  It is very likely that initially, our loved one will not accept these explanations or receive them well.  They may decide to distance themselves from you, hoping to make you change your stance.  If that is the case, continue to show love to them in whatever ways are open to you.  Continue to reach out to them in positive ways, by phone, text, social media, or even old-fashioned snail mail.  Include them in invitations to family gatherings.  Even if they continue to ignore or reject these overtures, do not get discouraged.  Over time, as you continue to reach out to them in love, they will realize that you sincerely do want a relationship with them.  I can’t tell you how long this might take because it is different in every case, but I have seen this happen in my own family and in the families of others who have been involved with Living Hope.   

Your friend or family member may not be open to hearing about Jesus and His love for them at this time in their lives, but as you model His type of agape love to them, He will speak to them through your actions.  Consistent, heartfelt love can break down many barriers.  As you pray for God to help you display this kind of love, they will be seeing Jesus without words having to be used.  We are aware that this is difficult.  Living Hope is here to encourage and walk beside you on this journey, so please let us know how we can help you if you have concerns or questions. 

Marsha Inman 

Friends and Family Director 



Our Living Hope website has many resources available to you.  Here are some articles that touch on the suggestions mentioned above. 

To Fathers: Words Matter: Support for those struggling with homosexuality (livehope.org) 

Fathers and Sons: Support for those struggling with homosexuality (livehope.org) 

Love is a River: Support for those struggling with homosexuality (livehope.org) 


We have online support forums that are available 24/7.  There you can find a community of Christ-followers who understand what you are feeling, will pray for you, and encourage you to seek God’s answers to whatever struggle you are experiencing.  To join the forums, fill out this application, and you will be sent an email request for the information we need to get you started. 

Online Forums – Living Hope (livehope.org) 

Living Hope also has support groups that meet weekly, either in-person at one of our physical locations or by Zoom for those who are unable to meet with us locally.  Contact us to set up an intake interview or to ask any questions that you might have about these support groups. 

In-Person Ministry: Support for those struggling with homosexuality (livehope.org) 



Christmas in the Flesh

by Ricky Chelette, Executive Director

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14)

It is hard to believe that the Creator God of the universe, the Holy One who was before time, became a part of our time and enrobed Himself in human flesh. But that is precisely what the story of Christmas is all about.

Many religions have people who became a god, but I know of none who have a God who becomes the people He created so that they might know Him and He might redeem them.

Flesh becomes supremely important in every aspect of the Christmas story:  Mary, a young, virgin-girl, is engaged to a man she has never known conjugally. An angel tells her that she will give birth to the son of God.  Her response is on point, “How can this be since I am a virgin” (Lk 1:34)? She will conceive as no other human in her world has ever done.  No one in their right mind would believe her story. She forfeited the pleasure of sexual union with a man while knowingly taking on the ridicule of everyone, even her own family, to follow God’s command.

I have to admit that in a world where sexual pleasure and personal autonomy over one’s body is considered sacrosanct, the bravery and faith of Mary are exemplary.

And then there’s Joseph. He is a young carpenter who, like most men his age, would have greatly anticipated his wedding night.  His self-discipline amid an inevitable and forthcoming marriage is also admirable and rare in our modern world.  He pushes back his fleshly desires for pleasure and union and chooses obedience and faithfulness to assure a holy marriage.  Then he discovers that the woman who he is to marry is pregnant. The evidence is obvious, and claims of fidelity are impossible to comprehend. A virgin birth had never happened (and will never happen again).  But Joseph was a righteous and compassionate man and “unwilling to disgrace her publicly, he resolved to divorce her quietly” (Mt 1:19).  But God, however, had other plans.

An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and instructs him that Mary’s child is conceived of the Holy Spirit and is God’s son. Mary has been faithful. Not only does Joseph follow the angel’s instruction without question, but he also takes on further public humiliation, shame, and sexual restraint that this new arrangement will entail. Not only does he proceed with the marriage, but he has no sexual contact with Mary until after Jesus is born. Who in our day would do such a thing? Who has faith like these two teens?

We live in a world where feelings and flesh rule our lives and are the arbiters of our identity. To feel is to be. What you feel is who you are. Pleasure is king and restraint and discipline, well that is considered potentially damaging repression. I can only imagine that almost everything  Joseph and Mary felt was contrary to the truth that had been revealed to them. Yet they obeyed and believed.

Jesus is born, not as a king, not even in a typical location, but likely tucked away in a cave on the outskirts of Bethlehem. Some scholars believe their cave was one of the caves used by shepherds to birth the spotless lambs used for sacrifice in the temple – spotless, newborn lambs were wrapped in swaddling cloth to preserve their perfect existence.  No wonder the shepherds knew where to go in Bethlehem when the angel gave the announcement, “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12).

Jesus was real flesh, real embodied soul, lying in a manger and helpless. Because He was with us, he was approachable, knowable, and experiential. Jesus cried and nursed and had his diapers changed. But in His coming in the flesh, He also came to do what the flesh had failed to do in the first Adam – live obediently. He would grow and work and laugh and play and be human. Jesus would be God with us!

Jesus would also do what no human had been able to do.  He would live a life of perfect obedience to redeem the imperfect, disobedient people He created and He would do it in the most unexpected way.

Even at His birth, His death was foreshadowed by the Magi who brought him myrrh, an embalming spice used for burial. Who brings such a thing to a baby shower?  What mother receives such a gift without insult? Mary did. Though she had no way of anticipating the gruesome manner in which God would redeem mankind through Jesus, she had been told, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end” (Lk 1:32-33).  This is likely why when Jesus was going to the cross, she was there, witnessing the torture and the pain, but not demanding His rescue or release. Years of pondering the angelic proclamations and knowing the ancient words of scripture were making sense in ways she could not have imagined.  But Mary, full of faith and flesh, believed and was faithful.

Jesus, now recognized as the Messiah and the Son of God, would be arrested, humiliated, and sentenced to death by the very people He came to redeem. In the flesh, He would experience pain that few of us would ever know. In the Spirit, He would take upon Himself the sins of all humanity.  He would suffer, be tortured, and would die a cruel death to redeem us. What a Savior!

Christmas ought to remind us that we have a Savior who understands our predicament, can sympathize with our pain and knows our struggles because He became one of us. He is not detached from our world but is a participant in it. Paul, in Philippians 2:6-8, profoundly articulates, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” And Colossians 2:9 states, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”

God became flesh so that our flesh could become godly. That is our hope, and that is the hope of Christmas. Our Savior has not abandoned us to a world He does not know. He is with us in a world He created and plans to fully redeem.  Christmas points inevitably to Easter, and Easter assures our present victory and our future glory!

May we be more like Mary, Joseph, and our Lord. May we be willing to surrender the pull of our flesh and submit our lives to His will, knowing He can do in and through us more than we could ever hope or imagine. Christmas in the flesh. A Savior is born!

5 Needs In Difficult Times

by Ricky P. Chelette, Executive Director

These COVID days have caused me to think deeply about the conversations I have had with many young adults. The uncertainty of their future, the instability of things once believed stable, and the pandemic’s isolation and fear create tensions for which they are ill-prepared to cope. I want to think they are unique in these tensions and struggles, but the truth is, we all are experiencing difficulties, questions, and tensions beyond our ability to cope.

However, we are not without hope. God not only knew we would be in this “unprecedented moment,” but He knows what life will be like on the other side of it. He is with us, and He will see us through. In the meantime, we need to use these moments to grow our relationship with Him and with those around us.

Below are five needs I see continually emerging in these uncertain times.

  1. A need for an enduring sense of identity. In a world where people are defined by feelings rather than truth, it is challenging to navigate uncertainty when you do not know who you are. As God’s created children, we are image-bearers of the Creator. We are not defined by the whim of feelings and circumstances but by an eternal, unchanging, and loving Father who created us with purpose and intentionality. We are His beloved, and He gave His life for our redemption. Circumstances cannot define us, but His act of creation does. We must embrace our imaging-bearing self in all its splendor. (Genesis 1:27; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 3:1-2).
  2. A need to embrace delayed gratification. In a world of instant everything, it isn’t easy to wait. We want what we want when we want it. But delayed gratification refines the inner self and deepens our dependence on God. Though God promises to “work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28),” He gives no timeline as to when that will take place. Abraham waited twenty-five years for a promised son, and the children of Israel waited 40 years to enter the promised land. Waiting is an aspect of maturing which allows the result to be all the more appreciated. (for a Psychology Today article on the benefits of delayed gratification, click here) (2 Corinthians 4:17; Psalm 37:7-9; Philippians 4:6).
  3. A need to think critically. In an age where Google has become our brain, we need to think critically about the information we receive. Newsfeeds, Twitter, TicToc, Snapchat, and social influencers are continually telling us what to believe, think, and even feel. But each of these outlets has a position and a point of view they wish to move forward. We must evaluate all information not by what we think or feel about it, but by a worldview grounded in the truths of God’s Word. Only then can we ask the hard questions, ascertain the real problems, and find the ultimate solutions that change the world.  (1 John 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Acts 17:11).
  4. A need to take personal responsibility. Today, everyone seems to be a victim. Though victims are real, and many are experiencing ills imposed upon them by individuals or situations for which they had no control, far too many want to blame others for problems that are their responsibility. We cannot control or rewrite our past, but we cannot allow our past to determine our future. American and Christian history record the stories of incredible men and women who overcame hardships to accomplish amazing things for God and mankind because they took personal responsibility for their futures. They refused to allow the past to dictate their destiny. After he denied Jesus three times, Peter became the great evangelist, seeing thousands of people accept Christ as Savior. After multiple failures at winning public office, Lincoln became one of the most significant presidents in American history. Despite her sordid past, the woman with the alabaster jar of whom Jesus stated, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much” ( Luke 7:14), became a devoted follower of Jesus. God has allowed us to start a new script for our lives today, but we must surrender to Him and take responsibility for our actions and decisions. (Genesis 3:9-24; James 1:14; Ezekiel 3:18)
  5. A need to think less of self and more of others. It is far easier to get a “like” than to be likable in real-life relationships. In a world where “selfies” have become big business, and “personal branding” has become a multibillion-dollar industry, it is easy to see how we forget others’ image-bearing reality and concentrate only on our personal satisfaction, popularity, and pleasures. Porn becomes permissible because it satisfies me while ignoring the sex-trafficking it supports, the disregard for other humans it reinforces, and the corruption of holy sexuality it exploits. We pay thousands for electronic gadgets to connect us to the world while ignoring our neighbors in need.  We fail to know their names or pray for their well-being. We must learn to think less of ourselves so that we can think more of others. (Romans 13:9-11; 15:1-3; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Corinthians 10:24,33).

These five needs are not exhaustive nor unique to the current generation, but applicable to all of us on some level.  I am thankful that God is neither surprised nor shocked by our current situation, regardless of how “unprecedented” it may appear. I am thankful that He is still on His throne, still the sovereign Lord, and still delaying His return so that more may come to know Him, trust Him, and find their identity and hope in Him. May we take this time to be thankful, grateful, and grow in our relationship to Christ and others. May we examine our own lives to see how we are doing in each of these five areas and seek the Father to make whatever changes He prompts. As we grow, may we share His love with those who need to experience the gospel and discover the One who meets us in our neediness and brings wholeness and peace.  He, indeed, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

To Experience Delight

by Ricky Chelette, Executive Director
5 minute read

Have you ever watched a new parent with his child? Have you seen the gleam in a mother’s eye when she coos with her baby or makes silly faces to elicit a response? In those moments of parent-child bonding, something very mystical is taking place. Moms and Dads seem to lose themselves in the reality of a newborn and utterly delight in their child.

It seems we humans are inclined towards delight, both in others and from others towards us. Something powerful happens in your soul and mind when someone sees you, appreciates you, and enjoys you thoroughly, solely for being you, without expectation or hope of reciprocity.

Jeffrey Olrick, Ph.D. and clinical psychologist, put it this way, “delight requires an attentiveness that affection does not. Delight communicates in subtle, crucial ways – I see you. And having seen you, I enjoy you. It is in this seeing and enjoying with unconditional love and acceptance that delight holds its unique power.”[1]

Dr. Olrick shares that studies have shown that when a person senses a feeling of delight, their brains release high levels of oxytocin, the neurochemical that causes us to feel deeply connected and bonded to another.[2]

So it is no wonder that we are mesmerized by experiencing delight. It is no surprise that our fantasies and even attractions may be towards those experiences, however brief those encounters may be. It is understandable then that those who have lacked being delighted in as children, youth, or young adults find themselves inextricably attracted to those who see them, experience them as they are, and delight in them.

In many ways, this experience of delight is part of what is so intoxicating about “falling in love.” Two individuals, completely consumed with the mere presence of the other, cherishing every moment, every word spoken, and every gesture made, lose themselves in the mere company of their beloved. It is also this feeling of delight that I believe, at least in part, sustains the marriage for decades. It is also one of the things most missed by the loss of a spouse. How blessed it is for a man or a woman to be deeply known, seen, and loved. How grievous the loss of one’s delight and the one delighted in.

The difficulty

But God did not leave the power of delight strictly in the hands of mortal and sinful humans. He knew Satan would distort even the best of His gifts and use them as thorns in the devil’s arsenal to destroy God’s creations.

Because all good gifts come from the Father (James 1:17), it should not surprise us that delight is not a human idea, but simply a reflection of a God-character we receive from our Father as image-bearers. 2 Samuel 22:20 and Psalm 18:20 both state that “he delights in me.” It is almost incomprehensible that the God of the universe would be so intimately cognizant of each of us that He would delight in us, but that is precisely what He does. We are not mere particles gathered haphazardly and assembled without intentionality. We are His beloved creation, so valuable to Him and His glory that He was willing to enter our world in the form of Jesus to redeem us back into His delight so that we might delight in Him. Though delight is indeed seen in and experienced through others in our lives, it is experienced most profoundly through our relationship with God. Ponder the mystery and majesty of God delighting in you. Contemplate the wonder of the One who knows everything there is to know about you, yet still longs to enjoy you, celebrate you for the you He has created you to be and delights in you. Sense the profound affirmation of God’s delight that empowers us with a deep sense of connection with our Creator and enables us, through His Spirit, to obey His commands. Soak it in. God delights in you!

But that is not the end of the story. God’s delight in us enables us to delight in Him just as His first loving us allows us to love Him. In Him, we find the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). In Him, we find our identity and our sense of being (Ephesians1:3-12). “In Him, we have been made complete” (Colossians 2:10). God’s delight empowers us for the mission and ministry He has prepared for us.

We see this beautifully displayed in the baptism of Jesus. Matthew 3:17 records, “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The greek word eudokeo can also mean delight or takes delight. In other words, before Jesus began His earthly ministry, He received from His Father an explicit blessing and a sense of delight that empowered Him to face the difficulties He knew was ahead. Delight empowers and emboldens its recipient in a way that nothing else does. It proclaims in subtle and profound ways, that you are known, seen, loved, and cherished.

So many of the men and women I have journeyed with at Living Hope lack the experience of someone delighting in them. Their profound perception and feelings of “other-thanness” relegated them to efforts of self-affirmation and pain management. Instead of being delighted in, they often seek intense moments of connection through sexual encounters, addictions to pornography, or recreating their identities to be more desirable to those from who they most wanted to be seen, known, and loved. They long for the best friend, the attentive parent, the ever-supportive brother or sister, or the true comrade on the journey of life. In short, they long to be delighted in, seen, known, loved, and cherished.

The remedy

Though none of us can undo our past, we can forge a different path for our future. For whatever reason, we may not have received the delight we needed as a child. But God is able, whatever our age, to fill that need. Zephaniah 3:17 makes it clear,
“The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.”

If you are a parent or have significant input into children’s’ lives, you can delight in that child. Take time, especially one-on-one with a child, and delight in him for who he is and that he connected to you! Affirm in him the good gifts you see God has given him, the deep awareness he has for others’ feelings, or the tender ways he cares for others. Let him know you understand his heart, not just his deeds, and you are delighted in who God has created him to be.

And most importantly, embrace for yourself the truth that God delights in you and use that assurance to model for others the richness of that truth internalized. There is nothing as contagious as a person who knows the delight of the Lord. She is empowered for ministry and mission in a world desperately longing to be seen, heard, understood, and delighted in. “The possibility that God delights in you is potentially more radical and disruptive than the possibility that God loves you in a general sense.”[3] Experience the delight of the Lord in your life and invite others to experience His delight as well.

[1]Olrick, Amy Elizabeth, and Jeffrey Olrick, Ph.D. The 6 Needs of Every Child: Empowering Parents and Kids Through the Science of Connection, Zondervan Thrive, 2020, p. 62.
[2] Ibid, pg. 64.
[3] Ibid, pg. 65.

LHM and the New Normal

Many of you have asked how we are doing and what we are doing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all doing well, and more importantly, we are continuing to minister to hundreds of people in the US and abroad while seeking innovative and creative ways to further God’s message of hope and freedom through Christ. Here’s what’s happening:

Support groups:  Though we cannot meet in person because of restrictions, we have moved all our locations of support (Arlington, Denton, and Houston) to online meetings via zoom. We have had incredible attendance and participation, complete with large-group teachings followed by small group interaction, prayer, and accountability. Our directors have done an incredible job of maintaining contact with our participants. Our small group leaders have continued to engage participants in our small group meetings. We even gained a few new members who have joined us for the first time through zoom, as well as some previously involved participants who have rejoined us as they have moved out of the DFW, Houston, or Denton areas and could no longer attend in person.

One-on-one mentoring: We have continued to talk with, text, and zoom-meet with individuals desiring our input and care as they navigate this new reality and deal with the pressures of social distancing, isolation, financial, and job stressors.

Speaking engagements:  Though most of our speaking engagements have canceled for the foreseeable future, Ricky was able to do an online seminar for the Colson Center for Christian Worldview on Responding to Cultures Brokenness. Viewed online by hundreds of people throughout the US and abroad, this seminar will have a long-lasting impact.

New Resource: Ricky Chelette, our Executive Director, wrote and illustrated a devotional coloring book, A Sacred Pause, that is available for free by download at our website. Each coloring illustration is based on a scripture passage(s) with a corresponding devotional and personal application. Get your copy today!

Weekly Prayer:  Bonnie Scasta, our Women’s Ministry Director, has hosted a weekly virtual zoom prayer meeting for our members to pray together and connect at the beginning of each week. Participants from across the country pray for our world, the pandemic, and one another.

HopeCast our PodCast:  Though our staff is physically separated, we continue to produce a weekly podcast. Each week we address current topics of interest to help those dealing with same-sex attraction, or their families and loved ones, cope with various life situations they may be facing. Check out our podcast on any of your podcast services or directly on our website – livehope.org/podcast.

Online Support Forums: Although many are new to online support, LHM has been doing online support groups via our online forums since 1998! These private, moderated, confidential, FREE, open 24/7 forums continue to be a powerful tool for ministry with over 9,000 participants in 170+ countries around the world. You can make application at livehope.org/forums.

Hope House: We continue to mentor young men in our highly accountable discipleship home for young men seeking freedom and growth into manhood. Daily accountability, weekly in-house bible study, and mentoring are just some of the things they experience at the house while they maintain outside jobs, attend school, or both.

This ministry is only possible because of YOUR generosity! This ministry has impacted many of YOU. Others of you believe in our mission. Through your generosity and prayers, we can offer hope to many. Thank you for your faithful and generous support. Your donations are saving lives and impacting the Kingdom for His glory!

You are Not Alone

Written by Ricky Chelette, Executive Director

          The New York Times recently asked students to talk about their experiences during the pandemic. Their feelings of aloneness were paramount in almost all the comments. This testimony by Sela Jasim, Branham High School, expresses well the isolation and desperation of many. “The coronavirus is having a pretty significant impact on me. Emotionally, it has also been very straining. My mom is a substitute teacher and she is out of work for the rest of the school year with no pay. I myself am missing my closest friends a lot right now, and feel lonely often.”¹

Isolation is one of the most damaging things that can happen to a person.

          The experience of being utterly alone for long periods is devastating to the human psyche and body. Alexander Chouker, a physician-researcher who studies stress immunology at the University of Munich, said this about isolation. “Participants, some of whom were only isolated for three months, experienced changes to their sleep, changes to their immune, endocrine, and neurocognitive systems, and alterations to their metabolisms. “Being confined and isolated affects the human physiology as a whole.”²

          Another adverse effect of isolation is feeling alone and depressed. Feelings of being alone can happen both with others or when you are physically by yourself. In either case, it is a mind-numbing experience that often leads to a lack of self-esteem and fatigue. Amid our COVID-19 crisis and mandated social distancing, many folks are isolating themselves in their homes for fear of contracting the dreaded disease. Though social distancing is necessary, isolation is not. Though we can’t necessarily gather in groups, there are lots of ways we can be connected. Participation in video calls, talking on the telephone, joining others in times of worship via online streaming media, etc., are all ways that we can connect with others and sense the presence of others in our lives.

          Isolating can bring on depression and even fatigue. Fatigue leads to sleeping and disrupts our normal sleeping patterns. Without a sleep schedule, changes occur in circadian rhythms, and we lose the ability to acquire good sleep. We tire quickly, we lose focus, and we become lax in our guard against believing the lies of the devil. We become sad, depressed or feel alone, which leads to inappropriate ways of coping and medicating, followed by rounds of guilt and shame, only to find ourselves back in the cycle yet again.

But should the person who has Christ as a part of their life experience loneliness in this way?

          As one who recently lost my spouse of thirty years, I can tell you that loneliness is real for the Christian as well as the non-Christian. I can tell you that isolating and lack of community with others can be depressing. I can even testify that these feelings can bring about changes in sleep and coping strategies that are neither healthy nor beneficial.

          But I can also tell you that as a believer, there is a difference between feeling loneliness and feeling alone. Our Father promises, regardless of circumstances, that we are never truly alone.

          When I came to know the Lord as my Savior, some 40 years ago now, God spoke to me very powerfully and said to my heart, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” I had no idea at the time that the words I heard were scripture, but they were. God spoke them about Moses and spoke them to Joshua (Joshua 1:5). Jesus made a similar promise to His disciples upon His departure from this world (Matt. 28:20). And the writer of Hebrews again reiterates the message to God’s children who faithfully follow Him in 13:5-6. When we believe in God, He becomes an abiding presence in our lives.

          Amid every trial and difficulty in my life, I have found God to be faithful to His promise. His presence is near, though sometimes hard to experience, in my most difficult moments. Even as I stood at the side of my wife’s bed as she breathed her last breath, I felt the Lord again remind me that He was with me. Present. Able. Capable of empowering me with His Spirit to press through the pain, the hurt, the confusion, the loss, and find Him and His purposes on the other side. He is faithful, and He can be trusted.

          Though our days of social separation seem never-ending, and our anxiety and uncertainty are high, we have a God who knows not only the future, but He knows us. He knows what we need at this moment, and He is more than capable of meeting those needs if we let Him. We are not alone. He is with us. He is as close as our breath if we will call upon Him. God is eager to meet you where you are. His promise is true: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Embrace the presence of God with you in these days of isolation so that you know that you are never alone!


¹ Engle, Jeremy. “How is the Coronavirus Outbreak Affecting Your Life?” The New York Times: March 20, 2020. Accessed on April 14, 2020. www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/learning/how-is-the-coronavirus-outbreak-affecting-your-life.html

² Ellis, Emma G. “What Corona Isolation Could Do to Your Mind (and Body).” Wired Online: March 25, 2020. Accessed April 16, 2020. https://www.wired.com/story/coronavirus-covid-19-isolation-psychology/