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magnificant-hope

Magnificent Hope

While Obama’s White House shimmered in rainbow hues, while ‘the wicked freely strutted about because what is vile (‘gay marriage’) was honored among men’ (PS 12:8), faithful men and women gathered in Lancaster PA for the fourth annual Restored Hope Network Conference.

Hope fell on us like morning mist; it rained on a people leveled by the afflicting news that America had bent her knee to Baal as never before. We cried for our land and we cried for the God who had been faithful to the land, He whose merciful heart we betrayed.

And we cried tears of gratitude that we received the bitter news together. We were not alone: hope welled up in persons espoused to merciful Jesus in their same-sex attraction, parents and friends of ‘gay’-identified loved ones who love them too much to agree with their choices, godly counselors and pastors intent on championing the homosexually vulnerable onto chaste self-giving. In our brothers and sisters, we witnessed the Resurrected Christ. Exiled yes, but not forsaken. We have each other.

The Supreme Court declared its decision at the precise moment that Christopher West delivered one of the most magnificent talks I have ever heard: how our bodies and sexual desires disclose the cry of the cosmos for union, a bond fundamentally about spousal union with our God and chaste relating with each other, man and woman made in His image for passionate, creative, joyful living. West mentored me in my Catholic conversion; I respect him more than almost any other and I delighted that many of my RHN colleagues, mostly evangelical, reveled in his dynamic translation of St. John Paul’s teaching as much as I did.

Rob Gagnon summoned for us the same hope that sustained St. Paul in his multiple distresses, a hope that matures in us only through affliction. By granting us a New Testament perspective on how the Gospel shines brighter in darkness than in presumed light, Rob inspired us for the battle at hand.

Most hopeful of all were the stories of men and women captivated by the darkness of ‘gay’ and ‘tran’ selves and the earthy, holy, persistent love of Jesus and His members that set each free. A former drug and ‘gay’ sex addict, Ron Citlau is now a Reformed senior pastor, father of four, and champion of the homosexually broken in his denomination and beyond; he preached powerfully of the divine intimacy that became his hope. That hope now empowers every word he speaks. After his message, he gave two simple words: hope and power. Most of us rushed the altar where prayer ministers administered the Spirit of hope. The One who always seeks the lowest, driest ground in us filled us to overflowing.

Let hope abound as never before.

‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ (Rom. 15:13)

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junegroom

June Groom (not Gloom)

‘In California homosexuality is legal. When it becomes mandatory, I’m leaving.’ Bob Hope

I muttered to Annette how much I disliked ‘gay’ pride June, the month of rainbow marches and media glorification of every gender variant under heaven. This month began with a bang: ‘Fun House’, a new Broadway musical about a warbling lesbian cartoonist whose ‘gay’ father kills himself, swept the Tony Awards, while June 2015 will end with a Supreme Court decision sweeping away God’s definition of marriage.

I prophesied June gloom, the Southern California phenomenon in which offshore mist rolls in and shrouds the coast for a month. Annette countered my complaint: ‘Well, June is also the month we married. No-one can take that from us.’

True that. I considered the beauty and power of our 34-year-old vocation—Annette’s and my most basic call in life to unite as one and bear fruit that remains. Of course that means our four kids but it also applies to all who pass through our whole-enough marriage and partake of the goodness of man for woman, woman for man. God designed marriage to grace both parties so that the two can be fruitful in their self-giving for as many years as life allows.

Best decision I ever made. Best gift Annette and I give others is the integrity of our marriage, starting with our kids and rising up for many, like Ezekiel’s prophesy of healing waters filling the temple to overflowing (EZ 47). At Annette’s good prompt, I considered the truest meaning of June for me and hope emerged from the fog like a blazing sun.

Neither lyrical idolatry nor skewed justice can undermine the gracious authority of marriage. Yet both will try. In this battle for marriage, Jesus makes a way.

June 1981. Annette and I spent the first night of our honeymoon at the Beverly Hills Hotel then sped off the next day to more affordable fare. Or tried to. The annual gay pride parade encircled the city and blocked our exit on every side. We managed to squeak out though a small road that opened to the adventure of a lifetime. Beware of the broad way: ‘Narrow is the way that leads to life.’
(Matt. 7: 13, 14)

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Strom-Center

Storm Center

‘Perfect love casts out fear.’ (1JN 4:18)

We now live in a ‘gay marriage’ nation. Persons who fear the Lord, especially persons ‘barely escaping the error’ of homosexual practice, will experience a new vulnerability, the glare that results when another layer in the moral ozone disappears. Talk about global warming!

The moral tempest intensifies for us but we must not fear. We must not allow ourselves to be tossed about by the threat of abandonment, the deception that God is not advocating for us due to multiple victories on the ‘gay’ front.

Like the disciples who understandably feared for their lives due to a squall at sea, we may be tempted to shout at the Lord, ‘Do something; don’t You care if we drown?’ (MK 4:38)

Jesus quieted and stilled the din and restored calm to His kids. ‘Why were you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ (v. 40) Where is our faith? In the swing vote of a human judge? Or in the God who knows and who uses all things to advance His Kingdom through persons who look to Him alone?

God is in complete command. Amid the moral storm, He is preparing for Himself an army of bright, shining lamps that will grow in number and brilliance as the days grow darker. Lean into your Beloved. Stay near Him in His sleeping and in His rising. Let faith guard your heart from fear. The real Presence of His love is our refuge.

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father-knows-best

Father Knows Best

‘The idea that one’s sex is a feeling, not a fact, has permeated our culture and is leaving casualties in its wake.’ Dr. Paul McHugh

In families torn apart by gay and transgender-identified youth, the father’s voice is rarely heard.

In his silence, mother goes into overdrive to defend her LGBT child while father looks on sadly, blankly, disengaged by shame and guilt.

Beneath his mutterings lie a muted roar, a yearning to give form and order to the disordered life for which he still possesses vision. He knows his daughter is neither a lesbian nor a man trapped in a woman’s body; she is his beloved girl whose gender fracturing is a cry for his confirmation, comfort, and, yes, correction.

In order to secure a whole gender self, every child on the planet needs a father who is salient: equal parts strength and sensitivity. Such fathers impart ballast to kids. Men who command kids’ respect while tuning into their emotional needs help children stay centered as they navigate the storm of a culture in chaos, sexually-speaking.

My four adult kids blessed me this Father’s Day with the following reflections (I give you snippets…): ‘In your faith, you modeled strength and rigor, combined with love and warmth…’ ‘Your counsel to me was firm and sensitive…’ ‘You were always intentional with us kids and you always stuck to your convictions…’ ‘Your faith was firm but you also entrusted us to Him. That enabled you to be generous to us even when we were far from the truth.’

We live in an age when kids are tossed about by waves of gender confusion: ‘I feel therefore I must be…’ Fathers, help your children rightfully navigate the myriad feelings they experience en route to wholeness.

Speak now fathers, your children are listening. You know best. Your silence invites fools to fill their ears.

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under-the-rainbow

Under the Rainbow?

When I crossed the finish line at Kansas City’s toughest half-marathon last week, I was astounded to see volunteers adorning us in rainbow necklaces. We looked like a swarm of half-naked gay activists. Refusing to be an emblem of the zeitgeist, I politely refused my medal and thought about the hundreds around me who unwittingly had become flags of a false freedom.

More concerning was this comment by a friend of DSM/LW, recently back from Rome. “Pope Francis is surrounded by people who are pushing a gay agenda…When I was at the papal audience two weeks ago, there was a rainbow balloon ‘cross’ flying overhead the entire time. The gay issue is a major source of fracturing within the Church.”

Both encounters tempted me to fear. Peace prevailed when the Spirit reminded me of the authority I possess as a Kingdom citizen. I am not living in a rainbow dome but under the rule and reign of an altogether generous Father who through Jesus is making me His own. I look to Him alone to define me; the fire of His love burns off all other claims upon my personhood.

Now is the time for all fiery converts to stand firm in Christ Crucified: this is our day ‘to know Him in the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, to become like Him in His death, and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead’ (Phil. 3:10, 11).

I love St. Paul’s being-converted-tension here; the Apostle is clear, he has not yet attained in full this Cross-bearing unto Christ-likeness. Rather, he aspires to know Him in the fight for freedom to which God calls all converts. ‘Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, we press onward to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 3:13, 14).

I will cry out for mercy for all who live under the rainbow. With gentleness and respect, I will testify to hope for anyone longing to be free from false liberties (1P 3: 15). I belong to the King, under whose reign I bow. And race: ‘I run in the path of His commands, for He has set my heart free’ (PS 119: 32).

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