Category: Homosexuality

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

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)

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becoming home

Becoming Home

‘We fully “become” our true selves within relationships. A positive sense of self, rooted in worth and value, arises out of an attuned, empathic, supportive and caring environment in which secure attachment is established. By caring for and attuning to another’s needs, and by empathizing with his or her emotional world, we help others to internalize a sense of well-being.’
Dr. Janelle Hallman, Living the Truth in Love (Ignatius Press)

How many young persons are emotionally homeless? How many have been set adrift by a break in early bonds of love? How many angry, hungry lambs forsake the witness of their own bodies and the Good Shepherd then morph into a number of selves and sexual partnerships in order to secure that love? How much of the ‘trans’ craze is undergirded by the near inability of persons to welcome the good gift of their gendered humanity through whole-enough persons who make a home for them in their constant love?

These questions arose for me throughout an intensive leadership day sponsored by Courage last week. Dr. Paul McHugh of John Hopkins University who led his team there to stop gender reassignment surgery when it became clear that most young people change their minds and later regret such surgery addressed us and made clear that the real battle is spiritual and philosophical—‘what constitutes human nature?’ If our biological selves have substantial meaning, then we must direct persons onto a course of loving care that will help them come home to their real selves. Another keynote, Dr. Paul Sullins, is among the foremost researchers today on the effects of ‘gay marriage’ on children. His evidence that these children are over twice as likely to develop serious emotional problems made clear that ‘the absence of sexual complementarity creates obstacles in a child’s development.’

We are creating an emotionally homeless generation who does not want to hear that they need to come home to anything but their new liberties. But these liberties damage them further; the need for empathic, attuned, and loving care is what they need in order to be reconciled to who they are. So when Dr. Janelle Hallman finished up the day with three hours of recounting how she has cared for women with a host of identity issues for over 25 years, I listened and connected with her attunement to the real needs behind the ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ self.

I marveled at her therapeutic expertise, empowered by the Holy Spirit and her own integrity as a woman, that has enabled her to walk for years with wounded ones in all their defensive glory until trust is achieved and the tending to the core needs can begin. Love wins, as caregivers like Janelle become a home (of sorts) to the emotionally vagrant.

It brought up a flood of healing memories for me. Many years earlier as a young married man and minister, a flood of same-sex desires arose; I knew it was a symptom of deeper needs and stubborn defenses that I had to face with skilled care. I began a long relationship with an amazing Christian therapist who was strong and masculine but deeply attuned to my plight and wise in helping me to probe beneath the surface. I worked out deep ‘father’ issues with this fatherly healer and he helped me further integrate my longing for masculine love into real friendships, not shameful fantasy.

Jesus wants the best for us and He wants us to give the best to those we love. Had I not found the kind of loving care I did, a man who helped secure me in my home as a whole-enough man, I may have been unable to provide a home for Annette and my four children.

I am about to proceed to our Living Waters Training where men and women whom Jesus is restoring are seeking to gather in groups in order to provide safe, healing places in the church for identity strugglers. Pray for us as we humble ourselves before God and one another to become a home for others.

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redeeming_the_past

Redeeming the Past

By Brian Barlow

On a recent trip to San Diego, I was given an unexpected gift for my birthday. My bride Nichole had been planning this trip for several weeks. We dropped the boys off at grandparents and arrived at our new waterfront hotel in downtown San Diego.

San Diego held for me many memories from my sexually disoriented past. We walked the streets together and I saw familiar sites which evoked that past. I found my heart growing heavier as the night progressed. Once seated for dinner at a Mexican restaurant, I began to share with Nichole my regrets over unhappy relationships with guys I had met in San Diego years earlier.

I hadn’t expected our trip to produce raw and melancholy emotions about my past. Thank God our marriage is secure enough for us to bear each other burdens related to past sins and hurts. Still, it was awkward, especially when the host greeted us and engaged in conversation. His ‘gay’ persona left me sober. It wasn’t offensive or flagrant, just familiar. I pondered and quietly asked the Lord: ‘What is this? Am I feeling regret? Am I digressing? If so, how can I stay present? You have transformed my life by giving me a wife and family, a gift I once thought impossible when I wandered these familiar streets alone many years ago…’

Then the Holy Spirit whispered: ‘I have come to redeem that past.’ I sighed then realized that was a moment when the “there and then” could be healed in the “here and now.” But how? I felt grief and shame over the life I once lived. I regretted how I hurt good people. Then I felt the Lord redirect my thoughts back to our host: ‘He is a man in the “here and now” whom you can choose to love rightly, a man created to reflect My image. He needs to know I AM his Fighting Father still fighting for his life.’

When our meal was finished the host returned to the table. In that moment, the Lord prompted me to ask a question: ‘What’s your name? How are you?’ “Nicholas” seemed perplexed and gave a simple response to which I asked again: ‘Is there anything you would like us to pray about for you? Anything in your life that you need? Financial? Life in general?’

His face sobered and he responded, ‘I really want to keep this job! I just started two weeks ago and I really like it.’ He responded in earnest this time I asked if we could pray; Nichole and I each held a hand. In the moments that followed the man seemed renewed. Though we can never know the sum of this man’s life, three people entered into a holy moment of healing in that restaurant. We who each reflect the image of God portrayed the glory of God together.

We are created by the Father who made us to live in right relationship with others. Throughout the years that original portrait might be misused, discarded, stolen and hidden for fear of being reclaimed by the rightful owner. Sound familiar? Life can mare and disfigure our portrait to the point of becoming unrecognizable. It would take the “Artist Himself” to reclaim and restore the image to its original state.

That is what the three of us shared together in a Mexican restaurant. By reaching through the pleasantries and calling him by name, we gave Nicholas a moment to pause and be known. Even more so, he was reminded that he has a Heavenly Father who sees him and who has not forgotten him. As Nichole and I prayed over Nicholas, we experienced the Living God embrace us. ‘Thank you, what a gift!’ responded Nicholas. ‘Can I give you a hug?’ He then reached for Nichole. Joy replaced heaviness.

Brian Barlow is our amazing regional coordinator for Southern CA. Come and hear Nichole and Brian at our daylong conference in Pasadena CA on August 20th. Sign up now!

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ignite the torch joy of love

Ignite the Torch

‘The Church must accompany with attention and care the weakest of her children by restoring their hope like a torch carried among the people to enlighten those who have lost their way in the midst of a storm.’ Joy of Love, Pope Francis

While Pope Francis magnificently honors marriage in his recent exhortation, he falters in fueling the torch necessary to enlighten persons lost in the storm surrounding homosexuality. Yes, he exposes the lie of constructing one’s own gender ‘self’. But he falls fall short of illuminating Christ Crucified and Raised as the fire that can consume the disordered heart and win it over to holy love.

Pope Francis does not connect the dots. On the one hand he alludes to misbegotten cultural shifts like ‘gay marriage’ and the folly of being tossed about by self-serving, shortsighted desires. He highlights the Gospel passages in which sexual sinners are admonished by Jesus ‘to live more worthy lives’ as His love awakens ‘consciousness of sin.’ Yet his pastoral directives for enlightening persons lost in the gender storm are bland and dim; Francis invokes accompaniment and the law of gradualism and other references to walking with persons in pain. All good—but none adequate to awaken the soul in darkness to the saving light of Jesus.

I longed to hear Francis refer to repentance and sexual sin in the same sentence. He hesitates here. Inspired by the Spirit and commensurate with the damage done, the urgent call for repentance seems in line with Francis’ consistent regard for ‘the immense psychological burden’ that unfaithful adults impose upon children. We serve justice to kids by returning to the Father and casting off destructive identities and relationships. By aspiring to be faithful ‘gender’ witnesses, we the repentant do our part to meet the identity needs of children.

For this, we the Church need to declare the clear and compassionate call for all to turn to Jesus amid confused identities. Repentance is the base on which our eyes are opened and we can begin to make wise choices. Yes we slowly progress in our moral formation, and yes such formation is founded on the Word who exposes our chains and offers Himself as the key.

I now live in a Catholic world where the slight majority uphold gay unions, are intolerant (often cruel) to persons who lovingly refuse to bless ‘gay unions’, and whose clergy men tend to invoke a repentance-free mercy for persons with SSA. Where is the Church who blazes like a torch in order to enlighten her members? Where are the merciful lights to guide lost loved ones home? May God fan into flame a host of blazing lights to light the way in the storm that Francis describes but inadequately guides us through in this turbulent hour.

‘For Zion’s sake, I will not be silent; for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not remain quiet, until her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.’ (IS 62:1)

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Power of Crushed Seed

Power of the Crushed Seed

‘Unless a grain of wheat dies it remains alone. If it dies, it produces much fruit.’

I met Benjie Cruz in Bangkok Thailand, 2000, at our first conference there. He was Filipino, unstable in all his ways, and desired Jesus more than any of his false attachments, including homosexual addiction. My colleague Kin, under power of the Spirit, prophesied that Benjie would lead Filipinos like himself to the cross. I thought Kin was under the power of another spirit.

Next year, we did our first conference in the Philippines where Benjie served our team. First point of team business was confessing our sin. Though there only to transport us, Benjie exposed a spectacular array of sin with trembling and tears. Like most Asians, he suffered much shame for showing his dirty feet to the ‘big’ international leaders. But unlike most Asians, Benjie did it anyway for the joy set before Him. He wanted Jesus’ honor more than the praise of men. He was willing to be crushed for His Kingdom. I began to realize that Kin (and Jesus) were right.

The Philippines is unlike any other nation in Asia: it is the only one where Catholicism took root 400 years ago and where evangelicalism (in its diverse forms) took root under American occupation in the 20th century. In short, Filipinos tend to be open to Christian spirituality. What they are not open to is revealing criminally high rates of childhood sexual abuse that undergirds a host of adult sexual immoralities.

Benjie broke the shame barrier, over and over again, before counselors, pastors, and lay support groups. He did a yearlong internship with us at DSM. He began to integrate as a man. I came to Manila in 2005 to marry him and his beautiful bride Hasel; we have partnered ever since in Living Waters ministry through which he (and team) have built a national network of canals flowing from the cross.

Last week I led a retreat for his leaders where I discovered that after 15 years of ministry, Benjie and crew are partnering with the biggest Catholic community in the Philippines, the largest evangelical church in Manila with branches throughout the world, and with the most influential Protestant graduate school in the country. He is impacting his nation with Jesus’ power to make chaste the broken and unclean. First one must die. Benjie did, and now he is no longer alone. He is fruitful, ‘a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.’

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