Category: Sexual Brokenness

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Surrounded 2

My friend Jim Doman is man of the hour in California right now. He has organized pastors from all over the state through his group, Pastors United, to declare that Jesus transforms persons with gender problems in the face of AB 2943. I was honored that he featured the impact of Living Waters in a press conference he organized last week in Santa Ana.

Expectant, I was distressed to discover that I felt bad, really bad, as soon as I stepped on the plane. I later discovered I had walking pneumonia; all I knew then is that for some reason I could barely function.

Perfect conditions for the Kingdom of God! Without reserve, I shared my story and our fight for freedom of choice in California to an elegant-looking professional woman besides me. She quietly confessed that she had been in a 15-year relationship with a woman before she married her husband. We both agreed that the opposite gender keeps us sane, and it shouldn’t be a sin to say so.

After that, I could no longer sustain a clear thought. So I just let 40 years of worship music rise up from within and play. I was flooded with memories of all the churches throughout California we had served. It helped. My next flight was canceled, so I stalled out in the airport and feared I would not make it to Orange County.

Yet in truth I did not fear. It’s easy to trust God when you feel like dirt. I was docile and patient with cranky service people. And guess what? I kept getting texts from people like you who sent scriptures and encouragements from around the country. I meditated in the still of the night on the beauty of Christ’s body. When I arrived at the courthouse, just in the nick of time, I was greeted by a handful of old friends who came to support our fight for choice. We had served them at some point and they wanted to support our service. I was touched.

Doman had assembled a diverse group of pastors for the press conference: a variety of Latinos, Asians, and African–Americans who all testified beautifully to their transformation from ‘gay’ to Christ-centered. Everyone was in sync with each other. We needed unity because LGBT+ protesters were crass, invasive and heckled each speaker. An unseen Presence freed us to keep focus, stay loving, and speak soundly of the beauty of Jesus’ body in California.

The Church is beautiful here. That was my takeaway from the press conference. Whatever our trials, however far the pendulum swings in the direction of LGBT+ nonsense, Jesus remains clear and faithful in His members. AB 2943 goes up for vote soon in the senate and will most likely land on Gov. Brown’s desk by the end of the month. We pray, we wait, and we stay hopeful. We are surrounded. I limped back to the airport, as if sustained by a great cloud of witnesses. Heaven’s song flooded my heart til I could no longer hear the din of hecklers.

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Surrounded

“‘Go in the strength you have…am I not sending you?’ ‘But my family is the weakest and I am the least in my family…’ ‘I will be with you’, says the Lord.” (Judges 6:14-16)

I write in weakness; amid our busiest season of international ministry, Jesus has called me to do my part to combat AB 2943, up for vote this June in the California legislature. I combat this clever bit of fascism so that ‘every person experiencing same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria might be allowed to pursue help in achieving desired goals and outcomes.’

The golden state wants to decide our sexual destinies for us. Each of us must effort to keep the path clear for choice. Let us fight for choice together.

Would you please pray in the next couple days today for a press conference we shall be having tomorrow in Orange County, CA at 11am PST (Tuesday the 29th)?

I touch down for a moment in Kansas City after a heavenly training in Krakow Poland and leave soon for this important gathering in Santa Ana sponsored by Pastors United (check it out) where many like me who will testify to the glorious splendor of Jesus’ Kingdom—how He offered Himself as our way forward for sexual wholeness.

Weak, I am surrounded. I have dug wells of ‘living water’ in Southern California for decades; in this dry and weary land, I now experience the refreshment of the saints. Many of my best friends are wounded healers in CA who after years of chaste living and serving the broken in churches will testify alongside of me.

What joy! Alone we are weak, prone to wander, but together the Jesus who is present to the weak empowers us through the gift of one another. Together we sing a resounding hymn of praise that spans octaves of His faithful love in our messy lives. On one point we are utterly clear. Jesus met us in mercy and laid the foundation for a whole new way of loving. In California! There the Creator became our Redeemer; He gave us back our beauty. Let us make that way clear for generations of Californians-to-come.

Pray please, now for tomorrow, 11am PST, Tuesday the 29th. Thank you.

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Is the Pope Devolving?

In a private meeting with Juan Carlos Cruz, Chilean survivor of clerical sex abuse, Pope Francis reportedly told the ‘gay-identified’ Cruz that ‘God made him gay’ and ‘that you have to be happy with who you are.’

Huh. Always a chance the Pope was misquoted.  If not, I submit the following.

Pope Francis may have changed his views on what he terms ‘gender ideology;’ something he renounced in his last two encyclicals.   ‘Gender ideology’ holds to a distinctly non-Christian understanding of humanity; it demands that we accept any number of gender configurations on the grounds that they are inborn, unchangeable, and normal – morally neutral.  Telling another that ‘God made him gay’ is a pastoral application of ‘gender ideology,’ not a challenge of it.  The good Pope didn’t think it through.

Pope Francis fails to grasp that sexual abuse actually damages a child’s sexual development.  Recent studies show a strong corollary between adults who ‘gay-identify’ and their experience of sexual violation as kids.  Instead of attributing Cruz’s sexual identity to God, Pope Francis should ask him pardon for contributing to his same-sex attraction through a priest’s perverse invasion of his childhood.

Maybe the Pope makes the mistake of compensating for the damage done by giving Cruz a pass.  Letting go of reason, he assuages Cruz’s violation with a platitude like ‘you have to be happy with who you are.’

Jesus took a different approach with the woman caught in adultery.  Fierce, and with wise compassion, Jesus first defended her from a system designed to scourge her, not unlike blame shifting mucky mucks in the Catholic hierarchy who Francis rightly exposed and disciplined.  But Jesus, after every Pharisee dropped his stone, exhorted the woman ‘to leave her life of sin’ (John 8:11).  He didn’t encourage her ‘to be happy’ with her adulterous tendencies in the hope that she might be further fractured by immorality.

Pope Francis gives a platitude to one who needs inspired, fatherly guidance.  His kindness masks the cruelty of an ideology that confirms God’s children in a lie.  I applaud him for stepping up efforts to cleanse the Church of abuse; if this reported exchange is true, I correct him for springing one trap only to set another for the most vulnerable.

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Easter: Snow and Burn

The glorious 50-day season of Easter kicked off in Kansas City with a freak snowstorm (we managed to pull off some not indecent bbq anyhow…) Regardless of the weather, whatever the dismal mindset, God calls us to burn bright for Him. He enables us to do so.

I urge you to pray right now from some good friends who are burning bright today in Sacramento CA. Using their own stories of how Jesus and His healing community helped them to overcome the domination of same-sex attraction, Anne Paulk of Restored Hope Network, and Elizabeth Woning and Ken Davis of Bethel Church Redding (among others) are shining to ensure that AB 2943 dissolves like snow before the sun when it comes up for vote next Monday in the CA legislature.

This insane bill turns goodness on its ear by outlawing any helper (church-based and otherwise) who offers counsel or materials for cost to persons seeking freedom from gender disintegration. That means Living Waters groups would be banned from their state of origin.

Think about it. Today, California leads the nation in celebrating gender disintegration and in seeking to outlaw any remedy for what is an unhappy condition at best. Further, California vilifies anyone who seeks to be at peace with his or her biological gender. In a recent segment of the popular CW teen series ‘Riverdale’, a young girl with confusing sexual feelings (every teen) is subject to a ‘conversion therapy’ madhouse led by a sinister nun who greets her with a syringe and a ghastly smile. The point is clear: seeking to understand and resolve identity conflicts is demonic. Welcoming the demons is cool.

So we urge kids to welcome their demons. Tim Cook, the ‘gay’ CEO of Apple who came out proudly in 2014 (‘I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me’) just veered off the course set by predecessor Steve Jobs; the latter detested porn use on the iPhone but Cook just chided an interviewer by claiming ‘I’m not making fun’ of anyone who employs the iPhone browser in that way. Another ‘gay’ cultural hero, Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy, recently expressed the moral difference between gay and straight couples: gays favor open relationships in which commitment does not involve sexual fidelity. Ugh.

With California leading the way, we have moved beyond granting everyone the ‘freedom’ to do whatever he or she wants, sexually-speaking; we now want to legislate out of existence opportunities for persons to overcome addictions and infidelities that stem from gender disintegration.

Please right now say a prayer for Anne and Elizabeth and Ken. Pray for clear and sane and gentle voices to be heard today in Sacramento on behalf of every person on whom God’s favor rests to become chaste. The right to worship and to heal in accord with the God of Jacob and Jesus should be encouraged, not vilified or outlawed. And pray hard that next Monday April 9th AB 2943 will dissolve as fast as a freak snow storm on Easter.

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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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