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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Deeper, Truer Love

‘Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.’ (1P 1:22)

I love this verse: it conveys concisely how I overcame homosexuality. I did not run from my same-sex attraction; I attended to the need at the core of my same-sex attraction, which was for masculine solidarity.

My need for masculine love needed to be purified from sensual (‘I need gay sex’) and political (‘My gay self must be recognized on par with straights’) motives.

Such refinement is painful and essential. It occurs only as one surrenders his/her entire identity to Jesus Christ. In the crucible of His fiery love, we emerge with our hearts open and engaged to give good love and to secure the love we need most.

Jesus is smart. Knowing how He made us and fully intent on redeeming us, He does not often give us what we want. He gives us what we need.

For same-sex strugglers, that means securing identification and healthy intimacy with one’s own gender. Then, growing into whole-enough expressions of our own gender, we naturally proceed onto whole heterosexual relating.

‘Coming into whole heterosexuality implies fulfillment of homo-emotional needs so that same-sex attachment is no longer required to fulfill those needs.’ Dr. Elizabeth Moberly

That’s how God made us. And that’s the direction of our redemption. Obeying the truth, we purify ourselves, and discover a deep reservoir of sincere and profound love for our own gender that surpasses the mixtures driving the ‘gay self.’

Just the other day, cast down because of some necessary grief, a couple of godly powerful men came alongside of me and loved me deeply. I welcomed their friendship like rain from heaven. No ‘gay’ shadows or mixtures: just the real, unadulterated thing that comes from the truth. Jesus purifies us as we obey Him. He frees us to resume the journey of giving and getting real love.

Real love is deeper and truer than sexy counterfeits.

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Clear Direction for a Vulnerable Generation

My friend and Lutheran Pastor Ole recently commented on Denmark’s (his nation) passage of ‘gay marriage’ last week, which now makes it mandatory for all churches to conduct such ‘marriages.’

I grieve for the church. I grieve that the church offends God by misusing His Name. Mostly I grieve for the young homosexual Christian who no longer has any clear direction and truth to follow. I grieve with everything within me.

Ole was among the first international interns we had at Desert Stream in the early nineties. A same-sex struggler, he fought hard for his healing. Now alongside his wife and many children, Ole fights for the freedom of same-sex strugglers throughout Denmark. His light shines brighter than ever.

As the state and state church bend the knee to distorted ideas about homosexuality and marriage, Ole is committed to reflecting Jesus’ light. He knows he must. How else will a generation know the truth that can set them free from gender disintegration?

Ole reminds me of why we keep on insisting that Jesus sets men and women free from the domination of same-sex attraction and frees them to resume the journey to whole heterosexuality.

Why? Young people with same-sex attraction grow up in a culture that irrationally insists on their baptism and confirmation as citizens of a queer nation.

Who will endure the shame? Who will risk being seen as a hater or bigot by naming homosexuality for what it is: a symptom of personal brokenness that can be resolved through Christ and His healing community?

That’s why the Oles of this world shudder at ‘gay marriage’; it wholly misrepresents what homosexuality is to a vulnerable generation.

That’s why we endure the shame of once again testifying to our weakness and to our healing process.

Our stories point to the One who led us into all the truth necessary to grow beyond the ‘gay self.’

The heterosexually-immoral world cannot tell that truth; they are asleep in their compromise. Reparative therapists aside, the clinical community sleeps with gay activists and have lost objectivity. Even the church is no longer sure if her Savior’s blood can transform the same-sex struggler. She is the worst offender; she sleeps in the light.

Like Ole, we grieve when we witness the devolution of our fellow humanity. We grieve especially for the young ones left ‘shepherdless’ by the blind guides of today. But we grieve unto hope, the light of Christ, and pray that we might reflect Him more brightly to the world and worldly church.

If we don’t, who will?

Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. (Eph. 5: 14)

But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more.My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long.I will proclaim Your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord…Since my youth, O God, You have taught me,and to this day I declare Your marvelous deeds.Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, until I declare Your power to the next generation, Your might to all who are to come. (PS 71: 15-18)

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At Peace In War

As ‘gay pride month’, June always provokes a kind of dread in me. This month started out with a bang—a federal appeals court struck down the existing federal law defining marriage solely between a man and woman. Gay pride will swagger throughout the month, amplified by fawning journalists.

Many see the end in sight: finally, our nation is recognizing that homosexuality is a moral good—utterly normal, utterly on par with heterosexuality as solid ground for marriage and family.

Utter nonsense. While praying the other day, God showed me a picture of an oil spill that was spreading out and encasing vulnerable, beautiful creatures. At first the oil had little effect on them. Then it constricted movement, and finally their breathing. I saw a powerful balm being applied to the dying; it alone had power to dissolve the sludge and to restore life. I knew right away it was the blood of the Lamb, the only hope for those encased by ‘gay pride.’

I dread ‘gay pride month’ because it celebrates the slow death of beautiful, vulnerable men and women who believe the lie that homosexuality is their destiny. Unless they repent and receive the blood, they will perish.

31-years-ago this month, my bride and I sped away from our honeymoon suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles. Our exit was blocked on every side by a massive ‘gay pride parade.’ The dreamy nuptials collided with a gender nightmare. We made it out fine, grateful for the blood that redeemed us and made us one.

Last Sunday (June 3rd), our second son Nick was ordained as an Anglican priest. The presiding bishop was an old friend—Dr. Todd Hunter, who decades ago led the Vineyard movement in the USA when Annette and I began to train Vineyard churches to heal their sexually broken.

Nick and Todd are both amazing expressions to us of God’s faithful love—the grace He still extends to us though our beloved Vineyard roots, but most importantly, the faithful love that redeems lives from the pit (Nick had his own sludge to reckon with) and sets their feet upon a rock. Our joy was full as we celebrated this public recognition of God’s favor upon Nick.

Todd commissioned Nick by reminding him how rest and peace are the earmarks of solid Christian leadership. “In repentance and rest will be your salvation; in quietness and trust will be your strength.” (Is. 30:15) In spite of the battle waging outside the church walls, God’s Spirit fell peacefully upon all of us. We sang His praise whole-heartedly.

June is ‘gay pride month’ but it is also the month of my marriage and son’s ordination. This is the day that God has made and has redeemed. I will go forth aware of the sludge but more deeply aware of the power of the blood. I will fight this month in peace.

‘I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet upon a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.’ (PS 40: 1-3)

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Ascending Fear: Jesus’ Absence and Our Authority

Ascension of Christ. Woodcut after a drawing by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (German painter, 1794 - 1872), published in 1877.

‘Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.’ (Jn 16:6)

Jesus had to leave us in order to liberate us. He had to depart in order to give us power. But for the disciples, Jesus’ ascension back to the Father may have felt more like abandonment than the assurance of authority.

Think about it. Jesus’ followers just got in the groove with the Resurrected Christ. (It took a while–remember? They failed to recognize him for days!) Just when they were in step with Him, the Lamb is swallowed up by a cloud. (Acts 1:9)

Jesus, now absent, gives disciples like us His Spirit—powerful and pervasive, but unseen. The Spirit demands our faith and action based on His leading. Yet His instructions are more whispers than proclamations. And we are imperfect ‘receptors’ at best, as inclined to our own darkness as we are to the light. How we long for Jesus-in-the-flesh declaring: ‘This is the way; walk in it!’

That means that we His disciples have to face our fears of ourselves: Can we do this? Was that a prophetic dream or a delusion? What if we obey that still small voice and turn out to be wrong?

What a risky God—entrusting us with continuing His reign of heaven on earth.

Scary stuff! I remember what I felt to be the Spirit’s leading to attend a university discussion on ‘Homosexuality, the Bible and Faith.’ In spite of all the major denominations represented, the course had little to do with any genuine respect for the Bible or faith; it was intent only on asserting ‘gay rights.’

I had only been a Christian for 6 months but I already knew that no-one there knew anything about genuine conversion. So I said so: ‘If Jesus really died for us, then we must die to our right to assert anything other than His rule and reign in our lives.’ I wasn’t voted most popular student that year.

But I did grow in faith because I learned to follow His lead. And He trusted me to step out, however awkwardly, and proclaim His rule and reign. He does so with any willing vessel.

This is the principle of Ascension: He must depart in order for His Spirit to empower us to extend His Kingdom on earth.

That principle applies to our letting people go in order to help them grow. Our releasing them releases the Spirit who will lead them beyond where we can take them.

I see this all the time in ministry. In order for men and women to become leaders, I must release them to step out and take risks. They won’t rely upon the Spirit as much if I am around. My presence may well be quenching the very Spirit that is straining to do great things through them.

‘Anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.’ (Jn 14:12)

I also see this in parenting. Annette and I and most of our friends worked hard to be the best parents possible. And then, guess what? It isn’t enough! Our kids may still make bad, Spirit-free choices that grieve us terribly. That’s where Ascension comes in. Our kids’ departure from the Light doesn’t stop the Spirit from brooding, imploring, and ordering all things for the good in their lives.

But parents get in the way of Holy Spirit when we try to be that Spirit. Like Jesus Himself, we must entrust our kids to the One who knows and loves best. We do our part yes—but it is the wise parent who knows when (s)he can do no more but pray. Confessing our fears and controlling schemes only to God, we entrust the son or daughter to the Ultimate Parent. His Spirit will have His Way.

Ascension reduces us to prayer. We grieve and let go and make room for God. Jesus left in order to free us to become people of the Spirit. Might we do the same for those we love most?

‘You may ask for anything in My Name, and I will do it.’ (Jn 14:14)

‘When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you [and your loved ones!] into all truth.’ (Jn 16:13)

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Risen with Christ, Our Wounds yet Visible

Our most powerful witness in this hour of ‘gay marriage’ and other injustices are our wounds. Raised with Him, secure in love, we must reveal our scars of sin and shame. The servant is not greater than His master. If the Glorified Christ is to this day ‘a Lamb, looking as if it had just been slain’ (Rev. 5:6) then we should be unashamed to declare our brokenness.

Jesus’ humiliation has been eclipsed with glory. So is ours, as we testify of how His mercy has washed us and solidified the new creation.

Over lunch the other day, a friend recounted his healing story. To do so, he began with his shame, which was founded upon a history of early childhood sexual abuse. Staggering into young adulthood with same-sex attraction, he sought the help of two pastors who abused him sexually and spiritually.

He vowed to trust no-one. Yet he knew Jesus loved him and continued to love him. Still, he could not let Jesus in close as such intimacy always meant sexual violation to him. Jesus respected his limits.

One night in the throes of gay sex, he became aware of Jesus’ presence. In a still small voice, Jesus said: ‘I am waiting for you.’ This young man kindly excused himself and fell on his face before faithful Jesus. Soon after he joined a Living Waters group, then another, found a skilled therapist, and currently serves alongside his wife in raising a family and helping others overcome their shame.

This man represents the countless men and women who have been raised from the dead of sin. Aware of sin’s complexity yet more in touch with the Mercy that saved them from it, they now proclaim how Glory has eclipsed shame. Resurrection flares from these wounds made visible.

Such courage ignites a blazing torch that draws the broken to Mercy. I wept as I listened to his story and saw the light of gratitude and hope in his eyes. I glimpsed Jesus; this man offered me his wounds, I put my hand in his nail-scarred hands and feet. Like doubting Thomas, I believed in Jesus afresh.

‘Gay marriage’ would be a none-issue if all the faithful made known their scars related to homosexuality. Risen with Christ, our wounds yet visible, we magnify Mercy and turn false justice on its ear.

‘If no-one said: ‘I die but I shall live’, then there would be no hope for those who suffer. All suffering would be senseless, destructive pain; all grief would be the worldly sorrow that brings forth death. But we know people who have lived and suffered differently. There is a history of resurrections, which have significance for others.

A person’s resurrection is no personal privilege for one’s self alone. It contains within itself hope for all, hope for everything.’ Dorothy Soelle

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