Tag Archives: freedom; friendship

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Power to Change 3: The Awakening Church

communityChanging deep patterns of sexual desire, behavior and motivation require the support of an entire community: it takes a village, Jesus-style. Any program or therapy is only as good as the greater community of faith surrounding the one seeking change. Perhaps that is why the enemy of sexual integrity seeks first to divide and weaken the church. If Jesus’ body falters toward those with same-sex attraction, no community of healing exists.

But when local churches become advocates of grace and truth for the gender broken, healing rises like sun breaking through clouds. And I am pleased to say that the church is rising in this hour to mobilize for such healing. She has been provoked by ‘gay marriage’ victories, by the confusing face of once reliable ministries, and by the falling away of many whose sexual shame has now become their boast.

Most importantly, her faithful pastors have heard the cries for help from children and parents alike who have been afflicted by homosexuality, sexual abuse, and sexual addiction. In Jesus’ Name, these shepherds are arising to become an answer to the prayers of the faithful.

Take Pastor James Marocco and his large church on Maui with campuses throughout the Pacific Rim. God provoked him to act on behalf of his sexually broken congregants. We are privileged to help the church there initiate safe and deep healing opportunities for the broken. Marocco is not content to merely react to the moral crisis at hand. He is acting on behalf of the God who delivers those in crisis.

Similarly, Catholic leaders in Kansas and Missouri are mobilizing priests, lay-driven support groups, and community-wide forums to offer loving, truthful care for persons with same-sex attraction.

We at Desert Stream are fielding requests from churches throughout the USA who are seeking out healing opportunities for the sexually broken for the first time. They can no longer minimize the suffering of their people, as if the moral decay ‘out there’ does not impact the people in the pews.

Catholic and Protestant churches alike are raising up ancient foundations (Is. 58: 12) for very modern problems. They are intent on becoming the healing presence of Jesus for those who will perish without Him.

We are in a moral eclipse. Right is wrong, and those who disagree are vilified. Good people deceive many. But the deceiver himself is not greater than our God. Satan’s exploitation of ‘homosexuality’ will only provoke God’s people to become what Jesus intends for them—a truthful and powerful community of transformation. What the enemy intends for evil, the Lord turns around for good—‘the saving of many lives’ (Gen. 50:20)–through His holy church.

‘Arise and shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.’ (Is. 60: 1-3)    

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Power to Change 2: A Fortress of Friends

‘A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure.
A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth.
A faithful friend is a saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds.
For he who fears God behaves accordingly, and his friend will be like himself.’  (Sirach 6: 15-17)

Fortress of FriendsThe journey out of homosexuality and into Christ-centered heterosexuality is unimaginable to many. That is apparent in the ludicrous way that the popular media frames ‘change.’ From cartoonish images of flipping off the ‘gay switch’ to ‘praying away the gay’ to intensive ‘camps’ that promise reorientation in a week, journalists seem intent on dismissing efforts to grow beyond the ‘gay self’ as nearly delusional.

What most fail to realize is that the journey to actually becoming a whole-enough gift for the opposite gender is a magnificent and arduous journey that cannot be reduced to a method. Rather, it involves a profound relationship with Jesus Christ. Through His advocacy, we can be reconciled to the intrinsic value and worth of our respective genders. Yes, we face real impasses to becoming the men and women of God’s design. Yet the fractured and shameful parts of our identities are no match for His power to redeem us. Such redemption is the task of His empowered Body, the Church.

Gender integration requires ‘grace with faces’: those walking partners we discover in the healing community who satisfy our deep longing for same-gender identification and intimacy. Here we discover the love/hate relationship we actually have with our own gender. Holy and humble friendships help us navigate the fear of rejection, the threat of desiring too much, and the surprise discovery that that we are actually good gifts to out comrades. Deeper still, we realize that our ‘homosexual’ needs are not erotic at all but rather deeply emotional.

These needs line up with how the book of Sirach describes real friendship: ‘a sturdy fortress’, ‘a life-saving remedy’, ‘a treasure, beyond price.’ These attributes describe beautifully my significant friendships. United in Christ, these comrades have freed me to be forthright, even painfully honest. Together we have discovered what it means to be men whose goal is faithfulness to Jesus Christ.

That is where Sirach’s emphasis on ‘the fear of the Lord’ comes in. Our fighting for the best in each other is informed by how God defines us. We offer great drafts of mercy to each other in our weakness. Yet such weakness also compels us to call each other onto the deeper, truer realities of God’s destiny for us.

Refusal to uphold a brother in truth is serious business. That is why many fall away. They define love as accepting whatever one wants at whatever point in time. Friends who fear the Lord know better. We know that to love another means to see him as God intends him to be. We become sturdy fortresses for one another, a life-saving remedy for those of us seeking to follow Jesus in a perverse, uncomprehending age.

‘Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.’ (Is. 32: 2)

 

 

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