Category: Sexual Brokenness

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

The Mercy of Marriage

Since our transition to Kansas City, God has provided two men who have stood with me in prayerful friendship: Mike and Morgan. I am not sure I could have stayed true to the Lord without them. When I have been discouraged, they speak God’s truth to me; when unsure, they speak wisdom.

They have helped me close the gap between things we aspire to in faith and the uneven ground our feet trod on this earth.

Most practically, we help each other to love our wives and kids well. We have a commitment to the whole of each other’s lives. The main goal of our bearing with one another? That each of us might be a good offering to our families, without compromise.

Each of us knows the real threat of compromise. It is not a distinctly ‘homosexual’ or ‘heterosexual’ threat; it is a human threat, the temptation to idolatry, to cast off the restraints of commitment and to offer oneself to the sensual gods and goddesses.

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Roused By Mercy

At the dawn of the new millennium, I noticed a growing darkness in the area of gender and sexuality. Powerless to overcome perversion, western culture used its power to justify all manner of sexual expression.

Around that time, I had a dream about a group of young people who were confused and seeking answers to their sexual identity questions. They were on a secular college campus. Older gay mentors began to confirm them as bona-fide gays and lesbians; as they laid hands on these young ones, the latter began to morph–their beings changed into an image that distorted their real humanity.

When I woke up, I began to pray that God would rouse us and make us like a warrior’s sword (Zech. 9:13); I prayed for a merciful authority with which to cut through lies that bound young people to false images and relationships. I prayed for the power to convey what the Heavenly Father had in store for them.

We trained our people to start running CrossCurrent groups—a shorter version of Living Waters aimed at encountering those in the valley of decision. Sure enough, God sent men and women to us who loved Jesus and yet were on the brink of leaving marriages, Christian colleges, and their own value systems for sexy new partnerships.

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Dunking the River Goddess

I hate idolatry. The worship of false gods turns humans into animals. While worship of the one true God humbles and exalts what is best in humanity, idolatry enslaves us.

No-where is this more evident to me than in Thailand–the first nation I served that had no Judeo-Christian foundation. Through the veneer of Thai women dressed as dainty goddesses and orange-clad monks bending incessantly to Buddha, sexual immorality reaches new lows. The devotion to myriad gods and goddesses of their own design renders the Thais subject to multiple partnerships, the sex-trafficking of children, and other vile perversions.

False spirituality is a set-up for sexual immorality. Yet how much more beautiful is the hunger of those whose eyes have been opened to Jesus Christ, and who, out of worship of the One, long to be set free from the sexual ties that have bound them? And the gender confusion that has blinded them?

No-where on earth have I seen such a pure hunger for holiness than in Thailand. The tiny minority of Thai Christians knows its need for Jesus in body and soul.

Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.

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Mercy for the Sinner

I met Benjie Cruz at the onset of our first trip to the Philippines. Virmi, our gracious host, had arranged for him to be our liaison as we prepared for our first conference in Manila.

Like our advances in any new country, particularly those lands where ‘religion’ tends to be very popular, I knew that the church establishment would applaud our efforts. From a distance.

Most church leaders would encourage obviously ‘broken ones’ to attend but would steer clear of our gathering themselves—they simply would not want to be identified as ‘sinners.’ They had too much at stake. The social benefits–a paid position and the respect for being a professional ‘holy one’–were not worth risking.

The truth was: many of the leaders were deeply divided due to adultery or porn addiction or same-sex attraction. But they were not ready to endure the shame for the joy set before them. Other leaders may not have been bound by obvious sin but rather by pride; they nourished a kind of self-satisfaction over their holiness—a recipe for pastoral disaster when it comes to tending to ‘real sinners’ in the local church.

Benjie was different. He led out with his weakness and sin.

He came and met us at the hotel. We as a team did what we normally do when we start the day together—we confessed our sin. Inevitably, a new environment and time-change is all the devil needs to stir up the flesh. I for one am all too quick to oblige him.

So we started with our offering of sin so we could end the prayer with gratitude for His amazing mercy towards us, we ‘the worst of sinners, in whom Jesus Christ displays His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and have eternal life.’ (1 Tim.1:16)

Benjie joined right in and offered God the substantial gift of his sin. He did so in our presence. He endured the shame for the sake of the truth: he knew that God was not surprised by his unconfessed sin. If we were, then so be it. He was in conflict, and he knew that the conflict would only be resolved through reckoning with the truth of sin, so that the greater truth of God’s mercy might rest upon him.

Benjie was still young in his process of restoration as a sexual sinner. He was still making some hard choices about how and with whom to work out a long history of homosexuality. A real sinner was in our midst seeking real mercy for the burden of sin.

He did not try to look good. He wanted to be good. He endured the threat of our rejection in order to repent unto Jesus, to be made ready by mercy to serve us.

‘To some who were confident their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

‘But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk 18: 9-14)

During that first conference, God gave me a glimpse that one day Benjie would be the lead ‘ditch digger’ for Living Waters in his nation. He did an internship with us in CA a couple of years later. Along with his wife and son, Benjie is now the leader of Living Waters in the Philippines.

‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight for what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’

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Opening Doors and Floodgates

London, where the waters of mercy had sprung up for me years earlier, became deep ground for Living Waters. Jonathan Hunter and I took one of our first international ministry trips there: we teamed up with new friends Reverend Christopher and Lisa Guinness who eventually became the Living Waters leaders for the UK. We met with other pastors, and took prayer walks throughout the city. (Two years later, London hosted the first Living Waters training outside the USA.)

We had received a word that God was going to open ancient doors for us in the UK; our prayer became: ‘King of Glory, manifest Yourself in Your English Church as the Healer of the sexually broken.’ (PS 24:7) ‘Lift up your heads!’ rang in our hearts as we entered St. Paul’s Cathedral at the center London.

While exploring the church, I spoke with one of the vicars of the pastoral work Jonathan and I were doing with the sexually broken, the HIV-infected, etc. A few minutes later, he took me by the hand and led me to a narrow spiral of stairs ascending to the preacher’s podium. He instructed me quietly to please lead the church in the noon prayer time.

I did as I was told. From another corner of the church, Jonathan ‘lifted up his head’, saw me, and almost blew a gasket. I gesticulated my bewilderment to him, and found my voice long enough to stammer a very ‘California’ prayer: ‘We love You Lord; we just want to thank you God for Your mercy today God…’

God was opening doors in His church. He was commissioning ‘ditch-diggers’ like Jonathan and I to find great people like the Guinness’ who might dig with us. God was intent on making a clear way for broken ones to be set free from bondage, for the healing of others.

Our next stop was Amsterdam. Our first host in Holland was YWAM, a young adult mission group centered in the Red Light District of that city. I was amazed by this land reclaimed from the sea, and its complex network of canals, dikes, and dams.

The city was a marvel of engineering, and a magnet for those intent on diminishing God’s image in humanity through all manner of perversion. It was clear to me that we were asking God to engineer a marvel of His cleansing love–right there in the city, where it was most needed.

I recall a deep weariness during one of the 5 trips I made to Amsterdam in that early season of digging. The charm of old Europe had morphed into a grimy bulwark of unbelief. I did not feel ’marvelous’, just tired of the perversion on every side–the depth of wounding and ‘darkness’ all around me–even in the Christians we were equipping.

I would go running in the dark every morning along the canals and other waterworks. On one such morning, I felt especially hopeless, seized with the immensity of the task and my own limits as a weak man.

An old man, a sailor, came out from nowhere and began to run slightly ahead of me, laughing and urging me onward. I picked up the pace but could not match his; he laughed a bit more, reached back and gently touched my shoulder then disappeared in front of me. I kept running, thoroughly renewed by my strange running partner.

An angel? Or a mere man disappearing into the fog? No matter: God was helping us to go the distance—to open ancient doors and release floodgates of His merciful, cleansing love.

‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight that what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’

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