Tag Archives: Boundaries

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Mercy and Judgment

Day 6 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘Do not fear anything, I am with you. These matters are in My hands and I will bring them to fruition according to My mercy, for nothing can oppose My will.’ (573)

God was merciful to me in my ‘waterless pit’; He drew me out of the hell of homosexuality through Heavenly Mercy. Without mercy, I would have died young, never to have known or created real life.

Mercy matters; without it, sin and death prevail. We eat poisoned fruit and suffer either an immediate or a slow and agonizing death.

The two young men with whom I first ventured into the gay world both suffered terrible deaths from AIDS. Unable to stave off the smallest of infections, their bodies bore witness to the moral boundaries we had broken in sexual immorality.

I cannot claim virtue as the reason I survived, any more than they died because they were worse sinners than me. Mercy spared me from the judgment of an early death. Period.

The unrepentant are already under the judgment of sin and death. It lays claim to them unless and until we intercede and ask Mercy to intervene on their behalf.

Abraham pleaded for Sodom, a city rife with wickedness—arrogant, overfed, unconcerned for the poor, and devoted to homosexual lust. (Ez. 16: 49, 50) And God heard his cry for Mercy on behalf of the few righteous in Sodom. The Father sent two angels to warn righteous Lot and family to flee the city before He destroyed it as an act of judgment.

The men of Sodom tried to rape the masculine angelic messengers. Unsuccessful, the angels warned Lot of the impending doom of the city. Still, Lot lingered, as if he had lost his bearing in the sensual wickedness of Sodom.

As John Wimber said, ‘Sin makes us stupid’. This applies not only to our personal iniquities, but also to the impact of corporate sins around us, as was the case for the increasingly confused Lot.

According to Dale Anderson in his fine book Mercy Wins (Kansas City: Oasis Pub., 2010), mercy appears in Scripture for the first time in Gen. 19: 16:

‘When Lot hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and led them out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them.’

God first employs his Mercy to enable faltering Lot to turn away from the wickedness of Sodom and toward a city of refuge. Mercy—in the form of the angels–liberated his turning. His wife was not so fortunate. She turned back toward Sodom, and died instantly. (Gen. 19: 26)

That can say three things for us: sin is mighty in its power to destroy lives, intercessory prayer is essential in asking God to mercifully save lives from judgment, and God acts on behalf of these prayers by offering sinners a way out through His Mercy.

Human will and effort has a place: we must respond to Mercy to be saved, and we the saved must pray for those who hang in the balance. Sodom warns us of the perilous state of the unrepentant.

‘Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.’ (Joel 3: 14)

‘Father, we cry out for loved ones in ‘the valley of decision.’ Would you act in Mercy on their behalf? Would You send Your angelic messengers to those who are faltering in sin, doomed for judgment? We do not know how to reach them; You do, so we cry out for Your Mercy on their behalf. We live only because of Your Mercy. Would you please have Mercy on our beloved ones, liberating their flight from judgment?’

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Father of Mercy for an Adulterous Generation


Day 2 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘Apart from God, there is no contentment anywhere.’ (42)

A painful fact of life for my twenty-something children is the sexually immorality that defines their generation. If not subject to parents who failed to keep their commitment to each other, they are steeped in a culture that celebrates the relentless erosion of holy boundaries. These are a people so scorched by porn they no longer feel the burn; these are ‘friends with benefits’, open to the sexual possibility in any amicable union (with either gender). This is the first generation to disavow marriage while championing the rights of gays to do so.

These are a people in need of Mercy. They need a Father who keeps His commitment of love to them even as they discover their inability to stay true to Him. ‘Steadfast love’, or ‘hesed’, is the main word used for mercy in the Old Testament. It usually applies to the Father’s covenant with Israel. There, the Father exercises His mercy by upholding HIs love and commitment to the nation that betrayed Him. Continuously.

‘Hesed’ keeps giving, reaching, and believing in the object of one’s love. In divine mercy, God vows to make a way for unfaithful ones to become faithful through the gift of His love for us.

That does not mean that ‘hesed’ is easy for the Father. For Him to so love His world only to be betrayed by that world breaks His heart! The Scripture opens us to His jealous, passionate love for the wayward nation. When Israel would pursue other gods, the Father likened them to lovers, her own heart to an adulteress’.

She broke her vows to Him, over and over, often resulting in the sexual immorality that defined the fertility cults surrounding Israel. Through the prophets, God would speak with vengeful passion toward the holy nation: ‘Rebuke her, for she is not my wife…let her remove the adulterous look on her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts…I will not show my love to her children, because they are the children of adultery. Their mother has been unfaithful…’ (Hosea 2:2, 4, 5)

Such anger would then evolve into ‘hesed’, the merciful promise that God would make a way for her to return to Him. ‘I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her…There I will make the Valley of Achor [judgment] a door of hope…in that day, you will call me ‘my husband’, not ‘my master’…I will betroth you in love and compassion (hesed); I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.’ (Hosea 2: 14, 15, 16, 19, 20)

Adultery of heart, both spiritually and sexually, breaks His heart. And from that heart flows ‘hesed’, the steadfast mercy that stands in the gap for us. It works. We have a faithful Father who makes a way for us to return to Him in spite of the adulterous flood around us and in us.

My 22-year-old son Sam, no stranger to false gods and goddesses, rejoices in being won over by ‘hesed’. ‘I don’t want to be anywhere else but in His Presence. Nothing else satisfies me like He does…’

‘They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them besides streams of water, on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim, my firstborn son.’ (Jer. 31:9)

‘Make Your steadfast love known to us, O God. Let Mercy flow from us to unfaithful ones. How can we refuse to give mercy away? Mercy liberated our faithful response to You in the first place. Your ‘hesed’ became ours.’

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Mercy for the Whole Image

After Massachusetts adopted ‘gay marriage’, we as a ministry sought to understand and pray for what was at stake for a nation that elevated the status of homosexual unions to those of heterosexuals.

We prayed for mercy, not judgment, for this ultimate expression of idolatry—the creature shaking its fist at the Creator and declaring that (s)he would image herself anyway (s)he wanted.

Yet we had a small emerging hope: we as a nation could turn back before it was too late. God might relent and have mercy.

Of course we knew that ‘gay marriage’ was simply the logical conclusion to the desecration of marriage itself; we had already burned her boundaries and assaulted her integrity with no-fault divorce and all manner of sexual abuse, including adultery, premarital sex, and porn addiction.

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Repentance for Breaking Natural Boundaries

In the Los Angeles earthquake of 1994, I witnessed power lines under and over ground breaking and igniting into flames. Showers of sparks flew from the broken lines as they lashed out, like huge snakes striking wildly at anything in their path. Broken power lines did more damage in our neighborhood than anything else.

Like those damaged lines, we as a people are guilty of breaking natural boundaries in our relationships. We have scoffed at the 6th Commandment: ‘Thou shall not commit adultery.’ Not only have we refused marriage as the one context for sexual behavior, we have allowed our minds and hearts to be filled with lustful thoughts for those we have no business sexualizing. We have violated the 9th Commandment: ‘Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s wife’, referring to the ways we envy or long to possess another that is not ours to have.

In our neediness and rebellion, we have broken holy boundaries. We have perverted God’s creation. The lines of protection break and lash out; loose wires ignite desires that are exaggerated and inflamed. Our emotions become similarly distorted and incline us to dangerous unions. Misbegotten relationships speak for themselves, a result of our separation from God rather than of our obedience to Him.

J. Budziszewski writes of how breaking natural boundaries perverts desire and behavior: “Although sex consummates the friendship of wife and husband, it perverts the friendship of comrades, just as it perverts the friendship of family members.”

I remember the seismic shift that occurred as a teenager when my male friend became a lover; I see that now with men and women on the journey out of homosexuality who break boundaries with others on the way to freedom. Friends lose friends when they become lovers. There is forgiveness for perverting a friendship, but there is no return to its original innocence.

My original walking partners in the ‘brave new world’ of homosexuality both died of AIDS. Having annihilated natural boundaries in all manner of addiction, we became subject to all manner of infection. Today Annette and I spend much of our time helping others rebuilding boundaries in the aftermath of their breaking them, not to mention the equally slow process of restoring trust with those they love.

Breaking boundaries is costly and devilish. We are slow to come to our senses. We must pray for clarity of truth and sight here; we must ask God for an awareness of the depth of denial and deception at work. I never cease to be amazed at how long and how far violators will go to defend their moral crimes.

“Behind your doors and your doorposts, you have put your pagan symbols. Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide; you made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked on their nakedness…You were wearied by all your ways, but you would not say ‘It is hopeless.’ You found renewal of your strength, and so you did not faint. Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have been false to me, and have neither remembered me nor pondered this in your hearts?” (Isaiah 57: 8, 10, 11)

“Thank you God that we have come to our senses. The loose wires have lashed out at us; we have been burned by the fires of our lust and fiery emotions. Thank You for waking us up through the bitter consequence of sin.

Forgive us for the ways that we have violated You in our broken boundaries. Forgive us for the ways we have violated Your creation, including our own bodies and souls. Sensitize us to the damage done, that we would not take lightly the ways we have abused sacred trust as Your image-bearers.

Have mercy on us; give us grace, humility and courage to rebuild the boundary lines. Help us to manifest trustworthiness to those who we love and who need our faithfulness. Your faithfulness is our hope that we too can become faithful.”

We pray as Nehemiah prayed: “You see the trouble we are in: we are in ruins, our gates burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall, and we will no longer be in disgrace.”(Neh3:17)

Honor marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

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Marriage is God’s Justice for the Boundaryless

You could say we live in a relational holocaust. More children than not are subject on a daily basis to porn, various forms of abuse, in general, a violation of what God intended for His human creation: one man for one woman committed to one another for life.

God created marriage to be a kind of boundary, a relationship intended to protect the lives of its offspring. That includes protection from misuses of adult power, all forms of adult sexuality, and violence between men and women. When protected, children are given the chance to grow up normally, to be prepared for an adult world in which they must make wise decisions about relationships and sexuality.

Most kids are not blessed with these boundaries. If just under half of marriages fail, then that many kids are subject to the pain of a single parent who is unhappy and overburdened, often expressly due to the failure of a spouse. The break-up of marriages often results in neglect of the child, a lack of attentiveness to his/her emerging life. That life requires more protection than ever before.

Before the age of 18, 25% of girls will be sexually molested, as will just under 20% of boys. 40% of victims are abused by family members, another 50% by those whom they know and trust.

The Internet plays a huge role in violating young boundaries. 9 out of 10 children between the ages of 8 and 16 have viewed Internet porn: 11 being the average age of exposure. The 12-17 year-old age group are the largest consumers of Internet porn. 1 in 5 children receive unwanted sexual solicitations online.

The Justice Department said: “Never before in the history of U.S. telecommunications has so much obscene material been so easily accessible to so many minors in so many homes with so few restrictions.”

Kids who are unattended and without boundaries need whole marriages in their lives. These marriages serve as a sanctuary for them, a living witness of who men and women can be for one another. It raises a standard and a boundary for those living without them.

I remember a young boy living in a boundaryless family across the street from us. His mother had drug problems stoked by a string of boyfriends. He would come over and play with my kids and I; he drank in the attention I gave him. I have never witnessed one as hungry for love and order. He longed for normal and got it through our family.

Whole marriages and families help heal those broken in their boundaries.

Honor marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

“Father, set the orphans into families. Restore the broken through whole marriages.”

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