Saturday, June 7, 2014

12 YEARS A FUNDIE - Surviving Anti-Gay Religious Programs 


 June 28th 2014 - Oregon, USA




Multimedia presentation featuring stories, videos, art, live music, and discussions.

Saturday, June 28th

Location:  Kairos UCC 
                 4790 SE Logus Road - Milwaukie, OR 97222

Cost: Free

This is a "counter event" to the Restored Hope Network Conference that same weekend - an alternative perspective to what they call the "ex-gay" movement.

Since Exodus International shut down in 2013, "Restored Hope" seems to be the major conservative ex-gay group and very few people know it was founded right here in the Portland area; Milwaukie, Oregon.

Please join us this June to hear controversial perspectives and responses from many whom claim to be "successful former homosexuals".

Jason T. Ingram, a Portland native, has been traveling the US for six years, presenting his stories of religious abuse brought on by the ex-gay movement. Ingram came out as gay/bi in 2006 after finishing an anti-gay residential program in 2005, as well as other ex-gay programs.

4:00 PM - Doors Open - Art Exhibit

4:30 PM - Reception and Potluck

6:00 PM - Presentation

7:15 PM - Questions and Answers


https://sites.google.com/site/trilemmafilms/Identity-Thieves/showings---locations---news/12yearsafundie-survivinganti-gayreligiousprograms-june27th-oregon

https://www.facebook.com/events/541072619341071/


https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=711806822191086&set=a.164184256953348.28586.164161133622327&type=1&theater

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204063777939780&set=gm.575981302516869&type=1&theater

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Faith and Mental Health: An LGBT Perspective


If you are near the Portland, Oregon area...



Faith and Mental Health: 
An LGBT Perspective 

Even if you do not have a mental illness, you can still benefit from the resources in this discussion because chances are, someone close to you has these needs

Jason T. Ingram has an extensive background in church work as well as being a certified Peer Support Specialist with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Multnomah)

MCC is a gay welcoming and affirming LGBT friendly denomination (lesbian, gay, bi and transgender)

Meeting will be a part of the Wednesday evening study hosted by Gentle Shepherd MCC gathering at First Congregational United Church of Christ, located at 1220 NE 68th St. Vancouver, WA

Please enter through the glass double doors on the lower level and find the MCC room

A light dinner potluck will be served at 6:30 followed by a brief worship time with contemporary songs led by Jason

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Overwhelming Evidence


Overwhelming Evidence

Some think that prayer, and various outcomes related to prayers, are merely coincidences; and that the real reason why people pray is to only find comfort and hope. If atheists are correct, and if there really is no God, I would still pray if it was my only connection to find hope in a hopeless world. Also, if I die to find that there is no God, and I entirely cease to exist; my consciousness won't be around to be disappointed! So, I score whether there is a God or not! However, that is not why I believe. It's actually pretty scientific for me: my life has overwhelming evidence of the existence of God. Do I keep a list? No. I can't imagine a list of answered prayers that is profound enough to convince any nonbeliever to believe. I don't think that's how most seekers work. The trick is to find it out for yourself. If you peeked at some of someone's list, your mind is amazing at coming to conclusions that can talk yourself out of believing. It's human nature. 

I hang out mostly with non-church people in the gay community and meet a lot of atheists. Most of them became that way as a reaction to abuse from anti-gay churches. Most ex-gay survivors like me tend to have the most abuse, and grow to despise all forms of Christianity, even the LGBT affirming groups. I have learned to to argue, because most of the time only healing and forgiveness can open their hearts. This is where I turn to intercessory prayer. I also am learning to see the value in this kind of life and try to accept others the best I can even if we don't agree about the existence of God.

I do journal a lot and sometimes I write down answered prayers, but I use it for my own resource. All over the Bible, especially the psalms, it is mentioned to remember what God has done. Aside from strengthening your faith, this also prompts a spirit of thanksgiving and praise, which are important aspects of prayer. Sometimes sharing your stories about what God has done for you can help others believe as well as reinforce the faith of other believers.
I thought this cult magazine was funny to glance at: "Good News... Turmoil!"
No wonder why so many people think I'm phony with stuff like this all over...

Update on my life this year


Personal Stuff...

Life has been good lately. I am starting some new journeys in my life, one of them being that I am seeking help to heal from trauma, most of it brought on by anti-gay stuff I did in churches most of my adult life. It's hard to go to a worship service without getting anxious, especially if I know that it is an anti-gay type church. I am still having a more difficult time writing my stories about the "ex-gay" stuff I was in, it's so painful. Turning forty this year has been an opportunity to grow, calling this year my, "year of wellness" and self care. I'm not working as much, but trying to focus on things that are blocking any personal success. I'm also more outspoken about the fact I have a bi side, maybe I'm a 5 on the Kinsey scale - but not enough to hold on to a long term relationship with a lady. Single again, and not really looking, which is a good thing for me. Took the summer off working with churches but back doing church music and maybe some teaching again.

I wonder if it's safe to assume that most of my readers are seeking information about prayer because they want a more spirit-centered life. My life right now, although as a Christian it feels strange to admit, is more of a logic-centered life. Reason being, I have acted way too "spiritual" while making a lot of bad decisions; for instance, going through five years of anti-gay programs that did not work but only made me worse. I still had this mentality that God is speaking to me through everything, and I was having a hard time distinguishing from dreams, what I thought were omens, various preachers, bible passages that seem to stand out and other things that catch my attention.

One of my favorite comedy shows, My Name Is Earl, had a great quote in an episode where a tornado kept blowing this bible into the hands of a character who thought it was a sign from God. Another character responded:

"Natural disasters are stressful times in which people ascribe heightened meaning to random events of physics"

Some of us who are more prone to be impulsive, intuitive and creative need to follow wisdom instead of focusing on trying to be overly spiritual in decision making. I don't want to be one of those saints who always say things like "God told me..." then most of the time have it not be God talking at all.

However, there are most of us people of faith who could really use some spiritual direction. That's where prayer comes in. Quality, informed, intentional, sincere prayer.


Jason singing a piece from "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" at an Oregon Bears fundraiser - thanks to Ice Wolf Photography

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Prayer Soup For the LGBT Soul


Prayer Soup For the LGBT Soul


Why do we pray? Are we praying to alleviate our fears, thinking that we have to pray a certain prayer in a certain way and that if we don’t then something bad will happen? Do we pray because it’s a cultural pattern, like saying “grace” before a meal? Do we pray only when we want something or when we have tried everything else and use prayer as a last resort? A lot of people pray as a sort of ritual that makes them feel peace, and that they fulfill some kind of religious duty in order to find relief from some guilt.

How about when we don’t pray? Do we feel shame that we don’t pray enough? Have you ever given up because you got frustrated, or feel so inferior spiritually that you don’t seem worthy enough to approach God?
From "Via Crucis", the stations of the cross CD, original art by Jason T. Ingram





My Personal Quest For Authentic Faith and Answered Prayer

When I finished high school in 1991, I was a miserable mess. Most kids my age seemed ready for the world and eager to begin their adult lives but I was terrified. I created outrageous goals that I knew that I could not reach and tried just about everything to relieve my mental and emotional torment. Although I experimented a little with drugs, I had bad experiences and was convinced that I could have profound experiences simply through spirituality. I was also on a passionate quest to find results. In fact it was an obsession for me. I came from a family line of intellectuals that seemed to demand proof for everything, and I was not willing to adapt any religion that did not meet my desperate needs.

Being disappointed with psychology and not finding the help I needed for my untreated mental illness, I dove into just about every religious idea I could. Most of what I sought was a part of the New Age movement, taking most of the ideas from Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. I also had exposure to Judaism and forms of Christian mysticism. Later, I got involved with earth-based religions like Paganism and Native American spirituality and even attempted to create my own conglomerate of all these ideas into my own personal dogma. It was a lot like what I saw others do having been raised in the Unitarian Universalist church and eight years being exposed to a lot of occult practices and forms of Spiritism.

"His Hands", original art by Jason T. Ingram



Honestly, I had a lot of intense experiences in all of this searching. If a religious practice worked, like the forms of divination I practiced, I placed it in my sort-of bag of faiths that I liked. I even got to the place where I was a practicing psychic, and advertising sliding-scale intuitive readings out of my house. It was not long that I still could not get over the emptiness I felt; even though because of the trance channeling and medium work I was doing seemed to bring me many companions. I just did not feel like I was loved, and I had no proof that I was loved unconditionally. Christianity (especially Bible-based Christianity) was not only at the bottom of my list, it was one of the biggest taboos in my family (up there with enlisting in the US military). The Christian faith represented for me, a man-made institution with a strong political agenda to control the masses and censor out anything mystical.

My meditation was based on emptying myself, yet noting was filling me but spirits and endless vain philosophies that only produced more questions. I wanted a Person. I wanted the highest love to fill me. I was fortunate to not only have found a relationship with God through Jesus, but I happened to find Christians who got results, and this drew me deeper into the faith. My journey through Christianity has allowed me to be a part of most forms of the faith. I have been exposed to a lot of Catholic ideas, some Orthodox, several mainline denominations and a lot of modern sects. With all this study, and asking many questions to various clergy, I seemed to have in the back of my mind in this nearly twenty-year journey “does their faith work?” Most followers of their particular camp believed their group was the right one, but why did they come to that conclusion? It it because they grew up in that kind of church? Did someone convince them to join? Did their doctrine make sense more than others?

I have seen ministers go from Evangelical to Orthodox, and Orthodox to Evangelical. I have met believers that went from Protestant to Catholic and the other way around. It has been entertaining to try to figure out why people change religions. Many times it is because they are hurt and offended by one, and go to another. There are those like me who went from Unitarian to Pentecostal, and then again, Unitarian Universalists churches are full of former Pentecostals. Some change because they are looking for the “one true church”, and base many of those ideas on which sect is the most historical while others try to find a church that most emulates the Book of Acts (the story of the early Christian church) and other New Testament traditions. What I have found is that no one can follow the New Testament exactly in this modern age (although many claim to) and so all we do is pick and choose practices from the Bible that we do not see others do. It’s a sort of pride to say things like, “the Bible says to worship on this day, and we are one of the only churches that do” and, “we make sure our followers are worthy to take communion before they do”, “we worship with voices only because we can’t find any musical instruments in the New Testament”, as well as trying to claim to have the “true biblical baptism experience” that others do not have.





"The Transfiguration of the Believer", original art by Jason T. Ingram

My criteria for choosing a particular church is simple: do they love people, and do they get prayers answered? Why go to a church where they pray for things that don’t happen. It’s a good way to create atheists. A better way to produce non-believers, even if your church is flowing in signs, wonders, healings and miracles; is to have your love grow cold. Children know when they are loved, but as adults, we so easily settle for counterfeits. As folks in the LGBT community, it is good to find out a church’s views on lesbian, gay, bi, transgendered, queer etc... We can see churches as either being “affirming” or “anti-gay”, but I think it’s more complicated than that. Without going into much detail, there are various degrees of how groups deal with the gay issue, and I admit that some of these grey areas I can handle at times. If I find a congregation that is very welcoming and affirming to the LGBT community, yet I am not getting “fed” or challenged spiritually, I am willing to make that compromise as long as it does not harm my faith. Right now, one of my most important values of joining a spiritual community for me is if it reflects my idea of community. The internet has replaced “community” so much that when I am involved in church projects, it’s all about being task oriented and communicating via text and not having actual discussions. When I was in Russia, I was told that this culture was more relationally oriented, and at first I hated it because we were not as productive; however I see now that I miss that human element.

There are also Christians who don’t go to church regularly. I wish there was unity between those who are proud to be regular church goers and those who limit their involvement. What I do see is that Christians pray whether they go to church or not. It’s great to pray together and to pray alone. Practicing your faith can be very diverse and can change throughout your life. So, whatever your form of Christianity is, if you don’t feel that your prayers are being answered, perhaps it’s time to have more of an open mind, and see if there are things you can do, or not do, that may help your life of prayer and devotion grow deeper.


"A Time For Everything", original art by Jason T. Ingram





“Words spoken in prayer that are not connected to our hearts are words without power”
Joyce Meyer

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Message From Your Moderator


Dear Friends,

Nice to see my blog get such exposure. Having been in radio at times in my life, it's very strange to speak live behind a mic and not know if anyone is listening. It feels that way when I publish so much original content on the web unless there is a 'stats' page I can check. I rarely hear from my international readers and I am always curious about my friends in places where it is wrong to be Christian, and also wrong to be gay. I can't imagine it being illegal to be a homosexual, and I also can't imagine it being against the law to be a Christian. What an enormous challenge it must be to be both Christian and gay in some places around the globe, like my readers in the Middle East. I wish I could go and visit you, give you a big bear hug, pray with you and dress you up in rainbows! But you have to be yourself as well as surviving in your culture, which in my free country (of the United States of America) I don't have to worry much about. I can relate a little bit because I spent a dozen years in anti-gay churches and I hid myself in church work and conservative culture.

One thing I do understand is depression. In fact I am disabled because of living with a form of depression. I have been big into mental health since coming out and spending less time in churches. For years I was not treated for this illness and relied purely on faith many times. I do not recommend a "faith only" approach to any illness, even mental illness, but I can tell you that prayer can sure be amazing to lift a black cloud of depression. For long term care, I highly recommend a holistic approach to treating any chemical mood disorder, and add your spirituality to your blend of cures and therapies. When it comes to what I call "situational depression", for instance grief or acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), medication may not be a good idea, but prayer can sure bring joy, relief, hope and even healing. One cure for situational depression is emotional healing. There are some wonderful forms of prayer that can bring much healing to our fragile feelings. This note, I hope to inspire my readers who are in oppressive cultures that I mentioned before to come to Christ, lay down those burdens and find peace (Matthew 11:28).

While in prayer this weekend, I felt like something I was doing was being a "light" to nations. I wonder if some of that could be this blog. I don't travel well, and don't go overseas often, so it's hard for someone like me to reach other countries. I never really know what kind of an effect these articles have on people's faith. I know that before I came out in 2006, I would have loved to see not only a blog for LGBT people, but prayer writings that went beyond written liturgy to talking about hearing from God. I thought for years that someone who was openly gay and okay with it would be shut off from divine communion with God. As someone who has a "spirit filled" faith background since 1994, I would have not been impressed with much of the "gay" religion, especially the extremely theologically liberal denomination I grew up with. I am a guy who likes experiential faith, proof that God exists, results and answers; especially answers to prayers. Some folks pray just because it brings them comfort. Well, bless their hearts. I'm not like that. I want the time in prayer I invest to mean something, change things and have positive results. I rolled with the Holy Rollers and there was a lot of reality with that aside from all the phony stuff I saw over the years. So, when I found out that there were Spirit Filled lesbian, gay, bi and even transgendered ministers, I was thrilled. LGBT people that were flowing in Apostolic fervor, prophetic unction and healing anointing; it gave me hope that it was acceptable to be who I was: Christian and gay.

I am so grateful to people like: Apostle Naomi Harvey, Susan and Debbie George, Apostle Dale Jarrett and his wonderful partner; and the many Holy Spirit anointed pastors I have met that are to many to mention. Another thing I want to mention is a site that linked to my blog...

Dear, outmaturity.com

I was thrilled to see your article on prayer and depression and your link to my prayer blog.  I want to thank you folks so much for linking to my site (under the word prayer) - I hope to see more sites about prayer for the LGBT community! As someone living with depression, I am glad to see you cover these issues.


Blessings and gay bear hugs

Jason

Oregon, USA





(photo thanks to Malcolm - me, drumming with Metropolitan Community Church, Gay Pride March, Portland, Ore.)

Mystic Secret of God


Secrets Are Not Kept From Us, They Are Kept For Us

This article is directed at devoted Christian believers who wish to hear clearly from God. It's a subject that is near to my heart and I hope my readers take a balanced and practical approach to these principals I have learned over the years.

While in some cutting edge Bible lessons in the 1990's, I heard this statement about God keeping secrets FOR us, not FROM us; and it changed my view about hearing from the Spirit. There are believers that can get so close to God, that folks can function in this "Mind of Christ", which is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 2:16, Christians can "…hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart".

While in "Prayer School" one week at the Bible Training Center, the dean of the school taught on hearing from God. He said that if there was only one subject that one can teach on, it would be about being led by the Spirit, because if you are truly being led, you will be led to all truth. That sounds nice, however I have gotten into error with too much teaching on being Spirit led. I also know one teacher who says that Christians can be able to daily hear the audible voice of God. This borders on insanity in my opinion, and extremes like this can cause a lot of messes. The most effective Spirit led people I know are ones that don't seem to act spiritual much at all. In fact they have a lot of natural wisdom. I don't think any human being, no matter how super-spiritual, can hear from God exactly 100% of the time. I also think that God can speak to people clearly who have a lot of common sense, as long as they have a willing heart surrendered to God.

A passage I stumbled on today really made me think a lot about secrets, and how they are stored up for believers: Colossians 2:2-3 [For my concern is] that their hearts may be braced (comforted, cheered, and encouraged) as they are knit together in love, that they may come to have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding, and that they may become progressively more intimately acquainted with and may know more definitely and accurately and thoroughly that mystic secret of God, [which is] Christ (the Anointed One).
In Him all the treasures of [divine] wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God) and [all the riches of spiritual] knowledge and enlightenment are stored up and lie hidden.

Another passage a roommate in Bible school showed me, also in the Amplified version is really intense: Proverbs 3:32b …His confidential communion and secret counsel are with the [uncompromisingly] righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with Him).
Also, this passage (among others) is good to declare when praying about divine secrets… Jeremiah 33:3 Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand).

(drawing by Jason T. Ingram, 2005)



The Prophetic Realm

This may be some heavy stuff (especially to my readers who are very theologically liberal) and I mention these things hoping that people do not get confused and be led astray in the sensational. However, there are those of us that when our devotional life reaches a deep richness that we can flow in this realm of the seer. As Christians, we must be very careful not to be led by spirits or even angels. There is so much in the invisible spirit world that is out there to deceive us that it can be very frustrating to hear from God. 

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not put faith in every spirit, but prove (test) the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world.
There are many spirits and voices in this world, and many of them are simply our own thoughts and ideas. If we do make mistakes and get led astray, and believe me, I have many times, I can be restored and get back on track and often things can come back together for the good, however, when someone is spiritually deceived, it can be a disaster. If you feel like you entered this Prophetic Realm in prayer and not sure if your experience is valid, wait to see if positive fruit comes out of it. If you end up making unwise choices that cause problems, and especially if you feel superior than others and not teachable, those could be indicators that your experience may be based on falsehoods. It's tough to discern because there can be a lot of God in your experience, but if you have too much self in the way, it can be tainted like when a little something bitter gets into your recipe and ruins the taste of your meal.

With that being said, prophetic prayer can be one of the most powerful tools in your devotional life. You can do some serious business in the invisible, binding and loosing, speaking to mountains, declaring and proclaiming peace, commanding healing; and speaking truth to situations and into the lives of others you are praying for. It may take some fasting and extended times of worship, praying in the Spirit and other sacrifices, but it will be well worth it. Allow Christ to baptize you in His Holy Spirit and Fire like John the Baptist prophesied, and be open to the Gifts of the Spirit (Matthew 3:11, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11).


(most scriptures sited here are quoted from the Ampliphied version)