Tag Archives: Masculine

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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Reduced to Mercy

Kenn Gulliksen, my original pastor and founder of the Vineyard, once said: ‘When you’ve lost mercy, you’ve lost your calling as a Christian.’ He’s right. I tend to assess ‘mercy’ levels in my heart as a gauge of how I am doing as a Christian.

And God is always faithful to reduce me to mercy when I have majored on other things. He does this through suffering, through the slow boil of real life that tends to burn off extraneous things and distill what matters.

In cooking terms, a ‘reduction’ involves the intensifying or thickening of a liquid mixture through boiling it. Some things evaporate, thus concentrating the flavor.

I won’t bore you with details on my ‘boiling points’; we all have them, and they either reduce us to the flavor of Jesus or burn up what is good until all that remains is a bitter, proud survivor. Hurtling oneself through hell into a self-generated resurrection does not interest me!

Survival of the fittest offers no hope for the weak. The survivalist can only advise: ‘Unless you get tough like me, you will perish.’ That’s a gospel of a different sort. I reject self-reliance on the basis of Mercy.

Mercy is God’s heart.

Why else would He pour out His very essence into a young Jewish girl and manifest Himself as a baby? Helpless and naked, God became the most dependent of mammals, subject to despots and debasement of all sorts. He reduced Himself for us in order to show us the little way of Mercy.

He invites us to celebrate our smallness. Humbled by our own helplessness, we worship the Child-King and entrust ourselves to the power reduced into His tiny frame.

Madeline L’Engle says it like this: ‘Power. Greater power than we can imagine, abandoned, as the Word knew the powerlessness of the unborn child, still unformed, taking up almost no space in the great ocean of amniotic fluid, unseeing, unhearing, unknowing. Slowly growing as any human embryo grows, arms and legs and a head, eyes, mouth, nose, slowly swimming into life until the ocean in the womb is no longer large enough and it is time for birth.

Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, Christ, the Maker of the universe, willingly and lovingly leaving all that power and coming to this poor, sin-filled planet to live with us for a few years to show us what we ought to be and could be…to show us what it means to be made in God’s image.’

He invites us to marvel at His Mercy. God reduced to an infant is the essence of Divine Mercy. One Hebrew word for mercy is ‘hesed’, or ‘unfailing love’; it conveys an objective, rather masculine mercy from the God who keeps His covenant with us, even when we disobey Him. Another Hebrew word for mercy is ‘rachamin’, and is feminine, rooted in ‘a mother’s womb’. ‘Rachamin’ is the mercy God feels for His afflicted ones the way a mother aches for her wayward child.

Baby Jesus is the fruit of God’s strong and objective yet deeply caring mercy for us. Jesus is a reduction, a distillation of His all-consuming passion to manifest His love for us.

Similarly, our good and wise God will employ hard things in our lives to reduce us to Himself. He is intent on our becoming like Himself, through the gift of Himself. He may just use suffering to get us there.

Alluding to Simeon’s prophecy about the Virgin Mary (‘and a sword shall pierce your heart’), Christoph Schonburg writes: ‘Mary triumphs through the sword in her heart, not in her hand.’ Similarly, as Christ-bearers, in the spirit of Mary, we are not exempt from the sword that reduces us to Mercy.

Over the last year, I have been pierced in ways that have caused me to cast myself on Him as never before. My prayer: ‘Let Mercy triumph over my judgments!’

Annette and I were sharing with our dear friends, Mike and Diane Nobrega, about our boiling points. Diane wisely responded: ‘God’s Mercy is being distilled in you and Desert Stream. What seems like loss is Him intensifying the anointing.’

“Remember that old praise song, with a chorus that goes: Jesus, reduce me to love?’’ she said, warbling her version of the song ‘Charity’.

You bet we do! ‘Charity’ was the one big fat hit that our pastor Kenn Gulliksen wrote and recorded in the seventies. Stumbling through the lyrics, we four called Kenn via speaker phone and requested some help. He gave us a brave solo version of his one claim to pop fame.

He sang ‘Jesus, reduce me to love’ in a voice trembling from years of piercings and unexpected mercies. Having lived the lyrics, he made it easy to receive them.

May Jesus reduce you to love this Christmas. He reduced Himself to Mercy that we too might be reduced to little else—flavorful, intense, generous Mercy.

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Mercy Restores Our Inheritance

Day 13 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘My Heart overflows with Mercy for souls, especially for poor sinners. If only they could understand that I am the best of Fathers to them, and that it is for them that the Blood and Water flowed from My Heart as from a fount overflowing with Mercy.’ (367)

Jesus employed the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk. 15) to convey the marvel of the Father’s Mercy. No matter how much we have squandered what is best and true about our lives, the Father restores in full our inheritance when we turn back to Him.

If you recall, the prodigal son had a good and generous father who gave his son an early inheritance. The son wanted a sexier life than the one down on the farm. So he left home and squandered everything, his dignity, his money—the good of his inheritance.

I did the same. Un-affirmed as a man, I left home to seek the confirmation of ‘false fathers’ in the sensual, unrestrained world of the west coast, circa the 1970’s. The trouble? Eroticizing other broken men did not resolve my identity crisis; in truth, it worsened it. Like the prodigal, my merriment turned to misery when I realized: ‘No-one actually gave me anything.’ (Lk. 15:16)

Whatever my father’s deficits were, he gave me an inheritance—my name, my manhood, a chance to represent his legacy well. And I squandered it by giving my masculinity to those with nothing to give in exchange. Mercy alone prompted the realization of such Misery; Mercy alone provoked a turning back towards home.

Repentance seemed so feeble at first. Still a long way off, more in shadow than light, we prodigals seem unlikely to reach home. That is where Mercy finds its richest expression. The Father runs to us! He sees our halting efforts to repent and closes the gap with His presence! His very being ensures our turning and restores to us our full inheritance.

In the first few months of my return home, I recall a hard night of sin and struggle followed by a haggard visit to a church the next morning. I felt raw and defiled. Still in shadow, I was approached by a rather strange prophetic woman who came up to me and asked: “Do you know what your name is? It is Andrew, which means ‘masculine one’. You are God’s masculine son.”

I choked down tears and entered in afresh to the worship service. I learned a key lesson that day. My Father does not merely forgive my sin. In exchange for it, He gives me back my full inheritance, which for me had everything to do with His full confirmation of my manhood.

‘While the son was still a long way off, the father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.’ (Lk. 15:20)

‘Father, grant us the clear understanding that Mercy grants us the full measure of our inheritance. Show us what we have squandered; grant us faith to believe You will restore what has been destroyed by sin. Grant us eyes to see that Mercy itself provokes our return home. We pray for those who are wandering far from their inheritance. Bring them home, O God, in the power of Mercy.’   

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