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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Zeal for our House

Jesus casts out robbers from His Father’s house for us. That starts with the integrity of our personal temples. He cares about our dignity as male and female and hates that dignity to be defiled. Though we are made in His image, that image is marred and He gives all to redeem it. We must do our part. When others obstruct our efforts at becoming who He made us to be, they infuriate Him; Jesus acts decisively to cast out those robbers.

Such robbery is on full display in the California legislature. Three bills are up for a vote one week from Monday (April 9th) and each bill bars human beings from securing the help they need to become integrated gendered beings. Please pray with us this Holy Week that Jesus might hear our prayers and vanquish these robbers. Consider:

AB 1779: Six years after CA led the nation in outlawing helpers from offering clinical service to minors seeking to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction, legislators are now trying to impose this violation of personal rights on adults too, starting here. This bill would ban any adult under guardianship from securing help for same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. The narrow application here (adults under legal care of another adult) is a bridge that will be used in the future to ban all services for adults seeking help to overcome same-sex attraction or dysphoria. California cannot afford make outlaws of skilled Christian helpers for the broken!

AB 2943 is worse. This bill prohibits the sale of any resources that aim to reduce same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. That means all publications, healing or counseling resources, conferences, and teaching opportunities that involve financial cost. This outrageous bill is designed to obstruct any Christian who helps others overcome gender identity disorders; it equally bars persons who seek to align themselves with God’s design for their humanity. It is a slam on free speech and enterprise and mostly, the rights of persons to choose to heal.

AB 2119: Any child in CA foster care must only be offered counseling and medical help that lines up with the gender that the child wants to be. That would outlaw good sense—the truth that we have a gender ordination and that it is physically, psychologically, and spiritually impossible to change gender. A child’s confusion leading to gender mutilation and misery is being enacted here. It is child abuse.

Gratefully, Jesus is stirring up zeal for human dignity, the houses God entrusts to each of us. That applies to today and to the dignity of future generations. Anne Paulk of Restored Hope Network, the Bethel Church Redding, Lou Engel and his intercessory prayer force, and hundreds of Christians are fighting in Sacramento and on their knees to ensure that Jesus and His people vanquish these bills.

Would you join us in praying that these bills come to nothing on Monday April 9th? If you are a Californian, would you contact your assembly person and gently express your opposition to this legislation?

Satan rages against the beauty of God in humanity, and employs well-intentioned persons to do his will. Let’s stop his robbery of human dignity by opposing this legislation.

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Why Gender Matters 6: Heavenly Bodies

Every Sunday I am blessed by a young family of six who typically sit in the pew in front of me. Far from being bothered by the squirms, yawns, and fights that erupt in the service, I relish them. I marvel at the two parents who patiently adjust attitudes and seating; through this prism of life, I behold the Cross and the communion meal and realize this is what is all about—a man and a woman submitting to each other out of reverence for Jesus (Eph. 5:21) and making a way for younger lives to do the same.

I think of our grown children scattered throughout churches in Kansas City and trust that Annette and I did something similar for our family.

Gender difference–and harmony in that difference–points beyond itself; it offers us a glimpse of heaven. Rightfully ordered, the dance of maleness and femaleness—desire and restraint, initiative and response, fruitfulness and frustration—gives us a window to our cosmic destiny.

Let me explain. We are made in His image as male and female. Biblically, we don’t know much more about that ‘image’ except that it is a gendered reality. God chooses to represent Himself in the duality of man and woman together, unity within difference. After we discover this gendered image of God in humanity (Ge. 1 and 2), God is imaged throughout Scripture as essentially masculine in that He initiates relationship with His people (Israel, the Church, etc.) and is likened to a father/husband/lover to His people who are primarily defined in feminine terms–as responders to His love.

So Scripture highlights divine initiative and human response. The latter is not inferior to the former. Both are essential to revealing the Kingdom of God on earth. Jesus is responsive, and in that sense ‘feminine’ in relation to His Father—He does only what the Father says and does (JN 8: 26-29). And Mary’s ‘yes’ to God is heroic, the courageous response that sets in motion Jesus’ saving love for all.

Jesus takes this to a new level by defining Himself as a bridegroom to a bride (MK 2:19), a reality that St. Paul capitalizes on in Eph. 5: 22-37 when the apostle likens a man’s servant initiative toward his wife—and her respectful response—as a window to the spousal love that Jesus possesses for His church, a consummation that is a future reality—the feast where the Lamb unites Himself wholly to those He loves (Rev. 21: 1-4). That’s why Christopher West says that marriage is the trailhead to the ‘summit’. That summit is heaven—the wedding feast–our ultimate union with Jesus.

Here we enter into sacrament—in this case, the fusion of body, soul, and spirit in lifelong communion between a man and woman. Marriage helps make concrete and tangible something real but unseen; as a sacrament, it points beyond itself and helps us apprehend an otherwise mysterious spiritual reality.

I marvel at the power of holy and harmonious love between a man and a woman. We are all aware of the power of broken marriages to shatter faith and true spiritual sight. How much greater is the power of faithful love, with all of its frustrations, between husband and wife? Annette and I grow more appreciative of each other as the years pass. We laugh more and bristle less at each other’s quirks and are grateful for the constant ‘yes’ we give each other in season and out. The Spirit helps us in our weakness. Through our reliance upon divine advocacy, I pray that our human love becomes a clearer window of heaven for others.

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Zeal for His House has Consumed Us (and our finances!)

We are on fire and need fuel to stoke the flames. Help us with a one-time gift.

Here’s the deal. We have been burning with passion for the Church as never before, starting with our 40-day fast last fall for the gender broken then blazing trails in congregations on the west and east coast. Most passionately, we fought hard to ignite a blaze smack dab in the middle. Our Gender Matters conference in February broke all expectations with over 20 different churches represented–both Catholic and evangelicals—from which two Living Waters groups started, upping our number to five churches now on fire to heal the broken in Kansas City.

We are burning! And broke. Last week we paid all of our debts only to discover we were overdrawn at the bank. In all of our fire-starting, we lost sight of how low our funds had become, resulting in pay cuts, failure to print valuable resources, and discouragement (if we let it). Bleech.

So help renew our passion. We are consumed with zeal for the Father’s house and seek only to burn brightly for Him, thereby starting a host of fires. We burn because you fuel us. Better put, God puts us on your heart and you throw a log on the fire. That’s how we blaze.

For over 38 years, Desert Stream Ministries has prayed, encouraged, and helped restore persons who realize only God can answer their deepest cries.

We are in need of $20,000. Please help.

Between now and November, we are gearing up for six week-long Living Waters Trainings throughout the world. A one-time gift would help us get our bearings and launch out with renewed passion. YOUR HELP MATTERS. Give today.

Please give a one-time gift of _______. May zeal for His house consume us afresh!

Andrew

 

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Behold the Lamb 6: ‘Having Nothing, Possessing Everything’ (2 Cor. 10:10)

Our Lenten offering is prayer for the whole, broken Church. Not so hard. We are wholly broken, full of faith, bursting with seeds of hope for her best and grateful to sow them in deep rich soil. We are nothing in contrast to how people rate greatness. But in prayerful response to His riches toward us, we have everything. We laugh: barren Sarah (Ge 18:12), David and his giants, a speck of mustard seed (Matt. 17:20), containing within herself a sheltering, towering tree.

So we are very bold to ask God to make His bride magnificent. Advocating for the abused, especially power abuse in which shepherds ruin sheep while saving their own hides, pleading for pastors whose pure hearts are drawn and quartered by unrelenting demands, summoning the sheep who wander alone due to mistrust and childish expectations: we take on Goliath on her behalf.

Our courage comes from the Source Himself, the River of Life loosed from Father and Son, now filling the temple (EZ 47). The beautiful thing about this Source of Living Waters? Any thirsty one can come (IS 55), and anyone can cry out for thirsty ones in peril (LK 11:5-13)—the smaller the better! We are very bold because we take Jesus at His Word, this beautiful God-man who joyfully declares: ‘I have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children’ (LK 10:21). We are bold because like children we don’t know how not to be. We ask straight from our hearts to the Heart whom we know listens and acts for those He loves. He loves us. He alone is the Father who does not disappoint.

Our main sorrow is for those wise and learned ones too big for Him. In our smallness, we cry out for the mercy that reduces kings to car-washers, cardinals to cashiers. Every Tuesday night this Lent we gather in a little chapel off the sanctuary and set up our Divine Mercy banner where Jesus summons us to His river of blood and water: ‘Come and drink, you thirsty; you without money, come, buy, and eat!’ As we sup and pray, the water levels rise and flow out to captives.

Funny. Each week as we prayed a popular speaker filled the sanctuary with hundreds receiving his inspired words. At once grateful, and gleeful over the irony of our small group of five face-down in the shadow cast by 300, we entered a chamber of His heart that renewed our fainting hearts. So much so that our words launched five times over like David’s five smooth stones (1 S 17:40), slaying giants.

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Why Gender Matters 5: Otherness Nurtures Family

Besides the obvious reasons why a man and a woman need each other to bring forth life, he and she together help the lives that they create become creative.

That takes effort: surmounting the fear that her difference from me is precisely what I most need to thrive. And trusting God that my gendered gift supplies something essential to her. We must foster that reliance upon each other so that otherness breeds more appreciation than annoyance. Or intimidation. Or judgment. I love Bonhoeffer words: ‘God created this person in His image, not mine.’ When I am tempted to forego her vantage point for mine, I recall those words and realize that I am setting myself over the Creator by denying the gift of her difference. Disagree with each other? Of course. Deny her gift? Perilous!

Lent helps here. One discipline we undertake together in this season is daily prayer and reflection on a devotional guide. I never cease to be amazed at her take on the material. It is a window to her soul that I can only discover if I look. And listen. Her splendid difference from me is precisely what engages and challenges and summons my best. She knows that her voice matters. That frees her to respect mine with the editing rights that her conscience demands. I return the favor.

At times such engaging reveals my worst. Before her I face what I do not want to express. In tough areas that I would rather leap over than submit, I must give an answer. And there I discover an ally. In the searchlight of the one I love most, I expose my own demons so that love can have its deepest way in me. My dark silence casts the longest shadow on her. So too does the light shine most brightly when we confess our faults in order to heal each other (James 5:16).

We gathered for a family birthday for Annette last week. My gratitude lies in how our kids look out for each other. I see this as a gift of how Annette has looked out for their best interests. Each of them said just that, in the particular ways she has served them. She gives generously, a mother par excellence. Might her security in the love we share stoke her freedom to offer herself?

Maybe. If so, then I consider my love for her—freely given, with all the fullness I can muster—the best offering of my life.

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