Tag Archives: Heal

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Salt of the Church

‘I urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.’ (Jude 3)

Salt preserves and flavors food; it awakens taste, just as lives raised from the dead of homosexuality awaken the church and sustain her essence.

Consider my friend Ben, a pastor in the Reformed Church of America. Ben started his journey out of homosexuality with us at Desert Stream then went on staff at the largest church in his denomination. Consider also Maria Cardenas, a devout Presbyterian (PCUSA) who also faithfully walked out her lesbianism with us and now serves her denomination by running healing groups and proclaiming how Jesus redeems the same-sex struggler.

Employing their own stories, Ben and Maria testified before decision-making bodies in their denominations on how Jesus is faithful to His Word and to His human creation who cry out to Him amid homosexual struggle. God is faithful.

Both of their denominations upheld the truth of God’s heart and mind toward human sexuality. In the last month, the Reformed Church voted to uphold its commitment to biblical sexuality, which includes a refusal to ordain practicing homosexuals, while the PCUSA, further along in its ‘gay-affirming’ trajectory, voted down a redefinition of marriage that would include ‘gay marriage.’

Since the seventies, both denominations have faced intensifying gay advances. Each year, biblical truth concerning (homo)sexuality is challenged and potentially diminished. Thanks to the likes of Maria and Ben (among many others), the truth has been sustained and remains alive and well in these embattled denominations.

The fight goes on because of the power of embodied truth. Giving voice to lives made whole by merciful truth hinder gay advances in the church. Our stories sustain hope; we ‘raise up age-old foundations.’ (Is. 58:12)

I shall never forget the elder in my church who responded to my story with these simple words: ‘I never heard that God could heal the homosexual.’ He has now.

Yet we err if think our responsibility ends there. We must work hard to ensure that churches of all stripes possess dynamic healing opportunities for all the sexually broken who cry out to Jesus. Without a track of truth, such healing is impossible. But with only a track of truth, we become clanging gongs.

As a follow-up to the truth of his denomination, Ben wrote: ‘I am grateful that the RCA has declared homosexuality a sin. This is a good first step. But it is not enough for us to say what we are against. As a denomination, we must assert gospel hope. What is the good news for those whose sexuality has been shaped by a broken culture? What is the hope for the sexual sinner? Can men and women find new life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Do we believe that Jesus can change lives?’

Ben is right. We lay a track of truth in order to make way for the mercy that transforms lives. Pray for the Marias and Bens of this world, that their salty proclamation will become a merciful offering in local churches everywhere.

‘For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.’   Is. 62:1

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True Justice

‘The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.’ (PS 103:6)

‘Defending the institution of marriage as a social reality is ultimately a question of justice, since it entails safeguarding the good of the entire human community and the rights of parents and children alike.’ Pope Benedict

My wife Annette observed an 8-year-old boy in a waiting room trying to make sense of a photo in People magazine of two men in tuxes, probably a feature on some celeb ‘gay wedding.’ Wide-eyed, and too truthful to have anything but a visceral response to the madness, he said: ‘Are those guys… you know, together? That’s real scary.’

No scarier than the wedding photo in front of me of two men, 20-years apart yet mirror images of each other, with their adopted 4-year-old daughter between them. Her smile is stained, theirs soft and wide as they beam through her at each other. A glimpse of unrealized manhood, a girl in trouble, and the hemorrhaging of justice in the form of ‘gay marriage.’

Children become parents, purveyors of truth, when we celebrate and seal the disintegration of gender identity in ‘gay weddings.’

Consider a young man—Ben—whom I just met at a healing conference. Having come to terms with his own same-sex attraction, he possesses a firm resolve to reach for all that Christ has for him. He also just discovered that his father is now ‘out’ as an active ‘gay man’ and is urging his son to do likewise. Ben’s first task was to set a firm boundary with his deluded father and make decisions for his own integration as a man, including coming to this conference. (Check it out: Ministry of Pastoral Care, founded by Leanne Payne. Excellent)

Over the course of our week together, I observed the Holy Spirit moving upon Ben. He received grace in such abundance that confessing his sin, and grieving over his damaged father and the arc of damage in his life thus far occurred readily, gently. Through a host of Christian loved ones who accompany him on this journey, he will continue to take hold of all for which Christ took hold of him.

In truth, Jesus’ justice for those with same-sex attraction lies in recognizing how oppressed we are and repenting unto the only One who can help us.

On the other hand, justice is thwarted when we redefine marriage. ‘Gay marriage’ validates the disintegration of gender identity for parents and children alike.

‘Marriage is not something abstract or neutral that the law may legitimately define and re-define to please those who are powerful and influential.

No-one has a civil right to have a non-marital relationship treated as a marriage. Marriage is an objective reality—a covenantal union of husband and wife—that it is the duty of the law to recognize for the sake of justice and for the common good. If it fails to do so, genuine social harms follow.

First, the religious liberty of those for whom this is a matter of conscience is jeopardized. Second, the rights of parents are abused as family life and sex education programs in schools are used to teach children that an enlightened understanding recognizes as ‘marriages’ sexual partnerships that many believe are non-marital and immoral. Third, the common good of society is damaged when the law itself becomes a tool for eroding a sound understanding of marriage on which the flourishing of the marriage culture in any society vitally depends.

And is it is out of love (and not hate) and prudent concern for the common good (not prejudice), that we pledge to labor unceasingly to preserve the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and to rebuild the marriage culture.

How could we as Christians do otherwise? The Bible teaches us that marriage is a central part of God’s creation covenant. Indeed the union of husband and wife mirrors the bond between Christ and His church.

Just as Christ was willing out of love, to give Himself up for the Church as a complete sacrifice, we are willing in love to make whatever sacrifices are required of us for the sake of the inestimable treasure that is marriage.’

( If you are interesting in reading The Manhattan Declaration concerning marriage please click here.)

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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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