Tag Archives: Pastor

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Unoffended?

John the Baptist, imprisoned and burning with hope for the Messiah, sends friends to check out if this Jesus is the real deal. Christ’s response? ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at Me’ (Matt. 11:4-6).

Why are Jesus’ miracles of transformation offensive to us? Pastor Jimmy Seibert, founder of the evangelical Antioch church planting movement, took heat recently for upholding how his congregations are helping persons with same-sex attraction ‘find out who God is and who He has made them to be…I’ve seen hundreds of people change their direction from SSA to a heterosexual lifestyle. It doesn’t mean there isn’t struggle…but there has always been grace for those who choose that.’

Yes and amen! We honor the work of Seibert and Antioch–a fresh wave of mercy flowing throughout the USA and the world in order to provide community support for persons turning from all types of false identifications unto Jesus Christ. Among them are persons rendered blind, lame, deaf, and poor by the exploits of the ‘gay self’ and who discover a whole new way of being in Christ and His Church.

Offensive. What may once have seemed like an ordinary expression of Jesus’ transforming love has now become a feast for media vultures. And sadly, as in Jesus’ day, it is often the religious establishment who join in the accusations. Remember, it was the Pharisees and Sadducees who railed against Jesus’ wonder-working power. They found His almighty mercy disruptive and intrusive; He encroached on their domain with power to set captives free. He exposed their powerlessness to call persons out of the tomb of sin and death. They took offense, and put Him to death.

Similarly, the Jimmy Seiberts are among the bold and few churchmen who do more than uphold the law of God–they champion His power to raise sinners from the dead! To be sure, breaking free of LGBT identification and becoming wholly grounded in Christ is no minor miracle. It requires nothing less than the juncture of our recognized poverty with the One whose love breaks the low ceiling imposed by our rebellion and an unbelieving culture.

Such breakthrough should seem plausible in this season of angelic visitations, pregnant virgins and guiding stars; nevertheless, I encounter Catholics and evangelicals constantly who raise their eyebrows at the prospect of Jesus actually having the power to reorder the sexually disordered.

Maybe that’s the rub. Weary and worldly, we now tend to doubt that there’s anything ‘disordered’ about same-sex attraction, or any other gender variation. To recognize another’s transformation would be to admit that maybe something is wrong—with a loved one, or with oneself. And that we are wrong for settling for less than God’s best.

And if something is wrong, then what? Does God have good things for us beyond our agreements with the status quo? Will He bear with us in our fragile and inconsistent efforts to become all that He has called us to be?

We are in the center of His heart. Advent is a time of hoping for more, of recognizing that the deserts in our lives are actually virgin territory, the very ground in which Jesus wants to impart to us the seed and water and breath to make us fruitful. A Child is about to be born; He vows to summon a host of sons and daughters from the dead of sin.

‘Then will the eyes of the blind be open, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy’ (IS 35: 5, 6).

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November 21, 2014: Good Samaritan

‘The Samaritan woman is every one of us. She is every human being who has ever sinned and betrayed the God who loved and made us, by chasing after other gods, trying desperately to get creatures to give us what only the Creator can give. She is every human being who has ever made a complete mess of their lives with choices from which they just can’t seem to break loose. She is every person who has a sinful, broken past that they’d just rather not talk about.’ Brant Pitre

Like the Samaritan woman, the best healers start as a mixture–wheat and tares. Strongholds of sin and virtue grew up together in a typically sensitive, passionate soul that cries out for a long time: ‘Jesus, I am Yours; please, make me Yours!’

Deep divides take a long time to overcome. I concur with the ‘law of gradualism’ (13) noted by the recent report on the Synod of Family. Authentic repentance can take years and requires a lot of confessions, loads of truthful compassion from Christians who surround them, and of course, the ironclad commitment of Jesus who always fights for the free-will surrender of His bride.

In spite of the Samaritan woman’s instantaneous witness of Jesus (“Come see a man who told me everything…’), we could say that Samaritans actually take a long time to convert. So the Church needs two things. First she must uphold for all Christians her standard of union with Christ in the whole of one’s divided humanity. And secondly, she must mobilize a host of Samaritan converts who are willing to suffer long with fellow strugglers. The rhythm is: failure, forgiveness, more failure then deeper forgiveness, on and on, until pay dirt—‘Jesus, I surrender and am willing to do what You want…’

Such merciful struggle and surrender creates merciful healers. I think of my friend Gary who suffered nearly intolerable shame with same-sex struggles and sin in a variety of religious settings. After his wife left him, he surrendered to Jesus and a group of faithful ones who loved him into the man he is today. Or Diane who grew up thinking sexual abuse is the common love offered by older neighbors until she surrendered her broken adult relationships to Jesus and a supportive group of women. Or Kevin who as a pastor knew deeply his divided motives toward a series of women he served in his parish until he decided to come clean and get the help he needed.

Divided all, now united to Christ, these Samaritans are powerful dispensers of ‘living waters’ to others. They go the distance with fellow strugglers because of their deep gratitude to Jesus and His Church. Primed with mercy, they see and feel and act toward others out of that mercy.

Gary, Diane and Kevin help me to look with new eyes upon the story of the Good Samaritan (LK 10:25-37); I understand now why the Samaritan saw and acted heroically toward the oppressed man rather than holy Jews who perceived only an obstacle in their path. Divided, she had been united by mercy. Mercy transformed the Samaritan’s grid and goaded her to give herself away to another.

As a Pharisee scrutinized both, Jesus addressed an unclean woman weeping at His feet: ‘She who has been forgiven of much will love much.’ (Lk 7: 47) So do all Samaritans made good by the mercy of God. May Jesus make the Church a Good Samaritan for all broken ones who cry out for mercy.

Please join us as we pray for:

  1. Conferences: For our 2015 conferences, scheduled in Reseda, CA, Virginia and proposed in Chicago and Ohio.
  2. Aguas Vivas: Bocono, Venezuela, Betsy – Coordinator: Grace and all they need to run their group in the midst of a highly unstable political climate.
  3. Courage: For the Lord to continue to strengthen and protect the leaders: Father Paul Check, Director and Angelo Sabella, Program Manager. For grace to equip and unify chapters of Courage around the country. Also for the new Courage documentary to impact many with the message of chastity; and for no more production problems with a current media project.

“Courage for Reverend Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury), that he would ensure that the Church becomes a clear fountain of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction!”

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BLOGS & PRAYER POINTS FOR NOV. 20, 21, 22, 23

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