Blog

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
ignite-again

Ignite. Again.

‘Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake!’(Matt. 24:41, 42)

Advent asks us to burn again, to start over, to be born again AGAIN as we await Jesus’ birth. No Hallmark movie this, no happy ending—dull and drowsy ‘Christians’ who do not recognize Him now won’t know Him when He returns.

I would rather prepare now than be left behind. Advent gives us four weeks to get ready. That has little to do with buying gifts and partying with friends. It’s about examining our hearts and how 2016 may well have made us worse, not better.

One gauge for me is how I and others respond to the ‘evolving’ understanding of gender and sexuality today. I just read about a ‘Christian’ blogger—Glennon Doyle Melton–hooking up happily and to the acclaim of thousands (if virtual ‘likes’ count)—with soccer star Abby Wambach who proudly hailed her ‘gay marriage’ to another woman at 2015’s World Cup victory by smooching her ‘spouse’ for the world to see in the glow of the US Supreme Court decision, an iconic union that soon fell apart when Abby disintegrated from drug and alcohol abuse.

Melton left husband for newly available Abby, an infatuation lived loudly before Melton’s kids. (‘We grant adults any kind of sexual liberty they want and insist that children take whatever these adults want to give them.’ Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse) The virtual world lauds these selfish, unstable women as ‘courageous.’

Many women like Melton who profess faith and frustration with men will follow her lead into a sexually fluid, ‘gender-does-not-matter-but-love-does’ mindset. What say you? Is your mind changing in regards to God’s clear mandate (Gen. 1, 2; Matt: 19; Eph. 5) for sexual unions? Are you ‘evolving’?

Wake up. Light the fire again. How else will you be able to hold out the Word of Life for a generation of women morphing into little boys and guys into glamour queens? Do you want them to be left behind? Do you want to be left behind?

Fr. Alfred Delp: ‘Advent is a time when we ought to be shaken into renouncing the presumptuous attitudes and alluring dreams by which we build ourselves imaginary worlds…Being shattered, being awakened—only with these is life made capable of Advent.’

‘The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber…the night is nearly over, the day is almost here. So put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us act decently, as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in lust and sexual immorality, not in rivalry and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves in the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.’ (Romans 13: 11-14)

Download PDF
best-for-last-frank-worthen

Best for Last

Around the same time (mid-seventies) and place (San Francisco) that Harvey Milk aspired to become the first openly gay politician in history and firebrand for ‘gays’ as a protected ethnic group, God plucked another brand out of the fire. Frank Worthen repented of an adulthood defined by homosexual pursuits and turned toward Jesus as the basis for a new life. Sourced in the deep well of his ‘Jesus-people’ community in Marin County, Frank began to minister to men and women who needed help bridging the gap between the ‘gay’ community and the Church.

‘Love-in-Action’ was born, the first formal ministry ever to expressly bridge such a gap. It was truthful, Spirit-inspired, and hammered by demonized Pharisees and immoralists ever since.

I first met Frank in the early eighties when I was at Fuller Seminary; he sought me out to give practical steps to his people on how to progress into healthy opposite-sex relating. Annette and I drove up from LA to his ranch in the bay area where we met him and his roommate/best friend, a longtime business partner who shared Frank’s sexual background but only marginally his faith. ‘No wonder he is asking me to teach THIS lesson,’ I thought as I considered what could be an impasse in Frank’s path to whole relating with women.

Don’t get me wrong. Frank was morally clear but still in process. Soon after, a prophetic friend challenged Frank: ‘You need to be open to all that God has in store for you!’ Anita was right around the corner.

The two first met at a conference in Oregon where Frank taught steps out of homosexuality and Anita, an earthy and fun single mom, wondered how she might best care for her ‘gay’-identified son. Like the clash of many strong-willed people, they liked each other as much as they did not. Through the sparks they fell in love, married.

I tracked with them only a little since that time. I simply know our efforts at Desert Stream draw life and strength from Frank’s faithfulness. The Worthens went ahead of us and a host of others to blaze a trail of hope throughout the world for persons impacted by SSA; they did so graciously while enduring more attacks than an entire book could contain.

Yet for me, ministry is not their main legacy. It is their love for each other.

Last year, I caught up with the Worthens in their ranch above Sacramento after Frank had a serious heart attack. It was beautiful to witness how a crisis could distill their devotion to each other, reveal its essence. While Frank napped, Anita confided in tears that her only desire was to give this man the full honor he deserved. Weakened by the prospect of loss, she feared her adequacy to give him his due. To honor him in life and in his passing impassioned Anita.

Frank recovered only to discover less than a year later that cancer was spreading throughout his body. Nothing could be done, so the two determined to enjoy their lives together on the ranch. I recently visited them again and when Anita left the room, Frank confided in me that his one desire was to leave Anita as financially secure and settled on the ranch as possible. While that desire tempted him with fear that he might fail her, it also motivated him to act and to succeed, one task at a time, to make a way for her future. He welcomes heaven, while laboring in love for his beloved. Not much else matters to Frank.

Frank’s days are in God’s hands. By the report of both Frank and Anita, these days together are their best ones. Peace prevails, and invites them to reflect on a life together that has created thousands of spiritual sons and daughters.

Download PDF
contending-for-the-bride

Contending for the Bride

‘Zeal for His House has Consumed Me.’ (JN 2:17)

In order ‘to contend for the faith entrusted to all the saints’ (Jude 3), we must follow Jesus into the House of His Father and purge ourselves of what divides us. Yes, we must come into the light of fellowship and enlist the help of others, and yes, no-one can cast out our personal temple robbers but us. Our decision to refuse every altar but Christ Crucified is nothing short of a miracle of God’s mercy—His fiery kindness (mirrored in His members) persuading us that holy Presence beats the unstable presence of other lovers any day.

Then we are ready to give all for the saving of many lives—contending for the Gospel and its power to transform broken lives through the Church. We fight against every stronghold of thought that dulls and blurs the goal of purity and wholeness (aka chastity). We contend against the sick mercy of ‘gay Christianity’ and against the sick truth of pounding vulnerable ones with scripture and church teaching without lending a hand to help them overcome real conflicts. (Spoiler alert: this takes time, sometimes a lifetime…) Troubling too are evangelical churches so intent on reaching the LGBTQ+ community that they naively adopt non-biblical language and ethics and become converted by good ‘gay’ people.

We roll up our sleeves and fight for:

1. The lifting up of the One Cross in order to redeem the two natures—male and female. Under Christ, no LGBTQ+ community can stand. We unite under one gracious hope—Christ Crucified—and one goal, the encounter between the blood and water, and our gendered selves. Only Almighty Mercy can dissolve the catastrophic impact of sin upon what it means to be male and female, created in His image. We must keep the message simple and clear—the Cross invites every person to enter that healing flood, and we in the Church must be constant in extending that invitation.
2. We preach the full range of sins against chastity, beginning with common ‘heterosexual’ ones we often wink at—misogyny, misandry, porn and romantic addictions, divorce, abuse, weird sexual legalism (everything but intercourse), etc. After that, it’s water off a duck’s back to preach repentance to the more obviously confused—‘Come into the water with us; we won’t throw stones but we will take your sins seriously, even as we have taken ours seriously and are doing the hard work to get free.’
3. We provide real outlets where people can get free. I am troubled by communities which preach the truth beautifully but provide little if any in-depth pastoral care for sinners who need it. We must recognize the healing army that is there (and refer!) while adding to its ranks by getting free ourselves. Then, as our gift to the Church, we accompany real sinners who desire freedom: real repentance unto the real Jesus who shows us the Father and His all-surpassing power to restore what is broken.
4. Under the one Cross, we fight for the truth of every person’s gendered dignity, regardless of their confusing starting points. We summon it, we contend for it as part of what it means to be an ambassador of the Gospel. In the same way that we lovingly silence the Pharisee, so we refuse the false ethnos of the LGBTQ+ community. Under the one Cross, we recognize two natures–male and female–, and one goal, that estranged children of God encounter the Father and become beloved sons and daughters, empowered to resume the journey to wholeness.

Download PDF
election-day

Election Day

‘To God’s elect, strangers in the world’ (1P1:1), ‘I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened to know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power to us who believe’ (Eph. 1:18).

Saints Peter and Paul remind us ground saints of the hope we share in Jesus, His glory and our inheritance, which need not be dulled or distracted by a shameful election. (I’m still not sure who troubles me more—she who champions mothers and children while insisting that the former be free to dispose of the latter, or he who demonizes aliens while pandering to angry white Ameri-men.) In truth, Jesus’ choice to elect us and make us strangers to the world’s systems may be just the reminder we need to sharpen our focus on what counts—hope for a harassed nation whose people will be saved by no other candidate than Jesus Christ.

During the last presidential Election Day in 2012, I wound up a 40-day fast with the fine folks at Outpost Ministries in the Twin Cities—we prayed ‘Thy will be done’ throughout the day at the Justice Prayer Room, then sponsored by a church on the campus of the University of Minneapolis. During a break, I wandered (hungrily) around the campus and beheld hundreds of gender confused students; there, through the eyes of my heart, I saw a torrent of ‘living water’ rushing from the church and inviting them to partake of the transformational flood.

I heard Jesus whisper: ‘I am their hope—not a law or elected official—this river of blood and water and Spirit. Build up My house, let the waters rise there and overflow into the public square; welcome My estranged children home!’ From that point on, four years ago, I vowed to do just that, build up Jesus’ house so that empowered faithful ones might blaze a path for those lost to the world.

The Church! Might she be faithful in this hour to Jesus’ blazing truth and mercy for the saving of many lives! Of this fire, and the threat of our falling asleep in its light, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia writes: ‘We do not need to renounce our baptism to be apostates. We simply need to be silent when our faith demands we speak out. Our assimilation into popular culture has bleached out strong religious conviction in the name of liberal tolerance and has dulled our longing for the supernatural…’

Election Day Friends

Pete, Ken and Andy.

And the power of that supernatural love! My splendid colleague Peter Kockelman and I had the privilege this week to impart some wisdom (and receive much renewal) at Bethel Church in Redding CA. We met future ministry partners like Ken Williams and were simply blown away by the hope and life and love that surged like a flood from the community of 8000 saints, mostly young adult, who gather in order to give Him away with joy-filled generosity.

(That is what blessed me most about the Bethel community: in light of incredible pressures to accommodate the volume of seekers, key staff persons face the burdens with child-like joy. No stressed-face saints these—they smile and shrug heaven-ward and entrust the glorious impossibilities to Jesus. He makes a way.)

Yet they are also realists. At the urging of Pastor Chris Vallaton, the Bethel community is seeking to offer a clear witness of God’s will for men and women, while equipping the saints to accompany persons caught in disorder with grace and truth. The river is rising in Redding and now flows throughout the world to draw estranged sons and daughters back to the Father, and His confirmation of each one as beloved sons and daughters, made in His image.

These Bethel saints will not bow the knee to another image of humanity, a ‘cooler’ version for the sake of appeasing confused hipsters. They will mobilize the saints to become that river poured out to the broken. They will do their part to make our election sure, the Bride who has been washed by the Word, free of spot and wrinkle, radiant. Nowhere else I want to be: joyfully in the river with all the saints, doing our parts to keep the waters pure and rising for a people who will perish without it.

Download PDF
living-the-truth-in-love

Living the Truth in Love

We ‘equip holy ones for the work of the ministry…so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human craftiness and cunning…Rather, living the truth in love, we shall grow up in every way to Him who is our Head, that is Christ’ (Eph. 4: 12, 14, 15).

What is the solution to the ‘craftiness and cunning’ of the Obama administration (to be accelerated by Hillary’s) in regards to a radical gender agenda now played out on the global arena (see Obama’s speech to the United Nations, September 20th, 2016)? This is the man who began office by pledging fidelity to traditional marriage then pushed through ‘gay marriage’, condemned reparative therapy, and ramrodded transgender bathrooms in every elementary school in the USA.

Anyone who disagrees with his advocacy of an ever-splintering array of gender identities is condemned as a hater, and is withheld power and finance. Worse, the majority of Americans have been tossed and blown about by this false justice; the latest Pew Research poll shows 54% of US Christians now believe that homosexuality should be accepted and integrated into society.

How do we respond? Legal answers won’t help us now. Nothing short of the radiance of wounded lives, raised from the dead of gender disorder by God’s grace, will do. They live the truth. Formerly divided, these men and women now bear Christ and bear witness to how He has united them with their gendered bodies and with His healing Body, the Church. They now live to make Him known through practical merciful service.

I witnessed this marvelously in Oklahoma City last week where sister ministry First Stone celebrated its 40th Anniversary. My great friend Stephen Black leads the work there and assembled quite a crew for the party, including ace radio talk show host Janet Mefferd and homegrown testimonies that blew me away. (Persons who almost lost their lives to the cunning and craftiness of men are always the best witnesses.)

One man became mercilessly addicted to meth in his ‘gay’ adventures and on his second jail sentence determined to follow Jesus, never to look back. He did not. Another lost family and self-respect to years of gender-bending pursuits until he began the road home, with a lot of help from Stephen and friends. Yet another testified of years of abusive treatment from men that resulted in a middle-aged affair with another woman and the torment that followed, torment that ended only when she called on Jesus Who then invited her onto a much longer process of gender reconciliation through a First Stone-sponsored Living Waters group. Her life radiated from within, a blend of beautiful womanhood lit up with merciful gratitude as she ‘shines like a star in the universe, holding out the Word of life’ (Phil. 2:15).

God is not duped by tricky humans. He foils their plans by persons who live to tell of His merciful love. We live only because of Him and for Him. We are many; He is rousing us for such a time as this.

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ (JN 1:5)

Download PDF
1 2 3 115
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: