Tag Archives: Restored Hope Network

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Frank, Thanks

Last Saturday in San Rafael CA, I was privileged to be among those who memorialized Frank Worthen, father of ministries like Desert Stream.

“Frank possessed a profoundly Christian heart—as the Hebrews understood ‘heart.’ His good mind could apprehend the meaning of things, and his love laid hold of what is best and true about God’s creation. Frank fused wisdom and compassion; he gave us a glimpse of Jesus’ heart.

Frank loved California; he honored her history–some of it Christian (Mission San Rafael!), and all of it about people leaving their old lives and taking up a new vision or job or self. While others waited for California to quake and fall into the sea, he cherished CA, and believed that Jesus could shine through created things like the Palace of Fine Arts. To Frank, beauty conveyed an aspect of Jesus’ truth. So Frank’s heart never closed to San Francisco. He still believed for her.

Frank loved people, especially people with gender identity issues. Yes the Bay Area led the world in misinterpreting same-sex attraction and in creating over 50 ungodly gender selves, and yes, Frank always held out hope in the Bay Area for the real self in every LGBT-whatever pilgrim. Frank knew only Jesus could summon that self from the slumber of sin.

You see, Jesus did that for him, thoroughly. Jesus woke him up from his sleep unto death. Jesus made him alive through this Church of the Open Door, one of the brave churches that sprouted up along the CA coast like wildflowers in the ‘Jesus-people’ revival. Jesus made Frank new, and his youthful vision for how Jesus can make anyone new never dimmed. It grew more clear and merciful over time. He gathered a remnant from around the world, grateful faces that enhanced his vision; and his sight was refined by the rebellious majority who tried to gouge his eyes out, including former spiritual sons and daughters.

Jesus gave Frank a share in His heart. He faced resistance peacefully, aware that he battled for souls. God gave him spiritual sight about this battle. While Exodus was dying and Frank and Stephen Black and Anne Paulk started Restored Hope Network, Frank prayed to Jesus for direction and received an awesome vision of St. Michael the archangel –warrior prince of the heavenly host—who upon a huge steed plunged a lance through the devil in the form of a dragon.

Rev.12: 1-12 shows us what Frank saw: St. Michael leading the host of heaven to combat a furious Satan intent on destroying Mary, Jesus and all who would be saved by Him. This vision of a violent unseen battle being waged for souls reveals Frank’s mission. It highlights the enemy who employs gender identity confusion to divide and disrupt the saints, the tyrant who vents his rage by scrambling the Church’s witness of Jesus’ love for persons enslaved to lies about their gender.

That vision of St. Michael also points to Frank’s witness of transformation for persons with SSA. Rev. 12: 11 declares that the dragon is overcome by the ‘blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.’ Jesus entrusted this simple revolutionary plan to Frank. Others were called to do so in that same season; only Frank endured the necessary testing, took up the sword in the Spirit of St. Michael, and plunged it in the enemy’s side by declaring that the problem of homosexuality was no match for the saving love of Jesus.

God calls us to continue that battle—to push back the devourer by declaring the sufficiency of Jesus’ blood through the word of our testimonies. We are wise to honor the one who came before us. We express thanks by continuing the fight.

I close today by drawing a parallel between Frank and another angel, the angel Gabriel who announced to Mary that God had chosen to dwell with man through her womb, a plan unlike any other, which required her consent. Today, Sat. March 25, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates this feast of the Annunciation. I want to honor Frank for the Mary-like role he played in saying ‘yes’ to Gabriel and to God. Against all odds. He endured shame for the joy set before Him. As Mary became the human hinge for our salvation, we honor Frank today as the flesh and blood guy who first declared for us freedom from SSA, freedom for a life full of Jesus. Frank said ‘yes’, and that has made all the difference.”

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the nations return living waters

The Nations Return

Last year, some Living Waters friends from Thailand and China urged us at DSM/LW to gather international leaders again in Kansas City.

I balked and winced as I recalled the vision a dear friend had given me five years ago—it was nothing but a burnt field, still smoking. So was I. After 30 years of building Living Waters around the globe, I was asked by a council of Living Waters leaders to step off the team so that they could pursue other goals.

Overnight, friends with a shared language became strangers whose perspective I could no longer discern, let alone contend. The joy of gathering with the nations became a landmine, which had blown up in my face. A burnt field indeed.

In the years that followed, I spent time daily before the Crucified and died to what had been. I alternated between hope that leapt at God’s lead and despair that slouched toward early retirement (bleech!). I wondered if seeds that die always release more life (JN 12: 24-26).

God invited me into new friendships. Anne Paulk and Stephen Black asked me to join them in starting a national coalition of ministries—Restored Hope Network–for persons impacted by SSA, as Exodus tanked before our eyes; of equal blessing was Father Paul Check, the leader of Courage, who mentored this new Catholic and gave me a chance to share my witness in his world (which is becoming mine as well). I love these networks; I hope you do too, as they are beautiful expressions of God’s heart for persons with SSA.

My primary call, however, is Living Waters. To my surprise, some of the nations where we had released Living Waters re-initiated relationship with us. Provoked by conscience and now seasoned in ministry and decision-making, they wanted to return to the source. I was grateful yet tentative as I was and am still unwilling to return to the ‘good old days.’ They weren’t that good and they are over.

So I wondered; might we build relationship based on mutual respect and a desire to grow together into a new season? I now realize that I had tolerated ‘cloak and dagger’ stuff in the old system. No more. Either we trust each other or we choose other partnerships. This work is impossible when squinting at and whispering about colleagues.

The DSM/LW staff agreed to host our international friends who wanted to come. Most of our friends did (which floored me) and honestly, it was heaven-on-earth. We started at the Restored Hope Conference in Chicago (amazing) then met at my home and at our offices for 3-days in which we dined, prayed, and centered on the Kingdom of God, embracing the whole Church, and identifying weaknesses in our married and single lives. No pressure, just the real Presence of God meeting us and helping us to love Jesus and each other more. Fragrant. God kissed us.

Poured out, the DSM/LW staff inhaled the truth that the nations had returned to us. But differently now, like adults with a shared bond. We like each other; we want to be together. Beautiful–new life springing forth from scorched, rich soil.

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An Open Letter to Every Man who Leaves Wife/Kids Because He is ‘Gay’

An Open Letter to Every Man who Leaves Wife/Kids Because He is ‘Gay’

Dear ____,

Bless you for finally being open about your same-sex attraction. That is a brave step and I pray that God and a faithful community will honor your confession. You have a big part to play in whether your honesty honors you and your loved ones.

What you are admitting is that you have desires that seem to conflict with loving your wife and children. That is different from assuming a ‘gay’ identity. As we are sons of the one Father, made in His image, we can agree that God sees us not as ‘homosexuals’ but as His men. He calls all men to live in right relationship with our brothers and to choose (or not) to express our sexuality in a loving bond with a particular woman and to open together to the new lives created by marital love.

Guess what? You made that choice! What best defines our sexual humanity is not our feelings but our capacity to make sound, thoughtful decisions about what we do with our sexuality. Your choice to marry and to have children defines you far more powerfully than same-sex attraction. Plus, the person you said ‘yes’ to with your body and the lives you fathered need you. Your freedom depends on it. You will never find happiness outside of your faithfulness to these relationships.

You say you hoped that marriage would resolve your same-sex attraction. It does not. In fact, it tends to highlight the many desires that conflict with being faithful to our loved ones. That is where love finds its most perfect expression. Your same-sex attraction is the tool God wants to use to teach you to love others because they are worthy of love, not because all your needs are being met. Welcome to ‘the club of men with conflicting desires’; welcome to the Cross whereby we surrender worldly dreams and mobilize for real people, real love.

I am surprised you never sought out any help for your same-sex attraction. God wants to use your ‘secret’ to cause you to grow through conflicting desires, not in spite of them. You have not exhausted the depths of the help available to you through Courage or the Restored Hope Network. The question is: will your honesty lead you to repentance or will it be an excuse to leave your loved ones for the ‘gay’ life? You are already playing victim. Don’t. You are not one. You can make choices for fidelity in the full light of your same-sex attraction.

Doubtless, many persons today will champion you ‘coming out’ as an act of bravery. Get real. If your honesty results in divorce, you act like a coward and subject your loved ones to grave injustice. St. John of the Cross said: ‘In the end, we will be judged by love.’ In light of your admitted weakness, choose love, real love and so prepare for eternity today. If you choose your ‘gay’ freedom instead, you will inflict damage on all you influence and will suffer eternal consequence.

We do not choose our desires but we choose what we do with them. Choose well friend. Please feel free to contact us at Desert Stream/Living Waters if you want to talk through your options. Don’t get lost in our cultural confusion. Last week, a new study came out that documented how gay unions in the USA have doubled in the last 25 years. Don’t be a casualty. Don’t make loved ones a casualty. I urge you to think and act and love like a Christian. Bless you friend. Hope we will hear from you.

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How to Love a Vulnerable Friend Responding to the Transgendered

How to Love a Vulnerable Friend: Responding to the ‘Transgendered’

First, thank you for your commitment to your friend. Sometimes devout, energized persons like you can help prevent an already vulnerable soul from doing further injury. I realize your friend is on the verge of doing just that by pursuing gender reassignment surgery.

Gender is not a product of the mind; it is a fact of our birth. To be sure, your friend has a deep conflict with his or her true gender self, for which one must only be compassionate. Such compassion flows from the truth. Your friend has a gender self and to be at odds with that truth is a serious affliction. Your advocacy may help him or her to begin to resolve this identity confusion in the right way.

Your friend is not hearing the truth today, only pretty lies. To paraphrase Dr. Paul McHugh, the idea that gender is a matter of choice remains unquestioned in our culture and is utterly without scientific foundation. Studies reveal that in spite of terrific costs to all family members, gender reassignment surgery does not result in happiness but the same or worse mental health conditions than existed before the surgery, including drug addictions, psychotic disorders and the risk of suicide.

Your friend is vulnerable to robbers, and needs understanding and inspired care. This is a person who looks in the mirror and hates the reflection. He or she believes that self-acceptance lies in becoming the other gender. Wrong. I have worked with several persons whose ‘fantasy gender selves’ arose in response to profound distress. Their fantasy selves became the prison. It is a joyful labor of love to accompany the gender afflicted out of unreality and into the truth of their real selves.

Spiritual and emotional intervention makes sense. Why? We cannot change our genders. Guess what? Bruce Jenner is still a man! The only real choice we have is to make peace with the gender of our birth. Nevertheless, we must recognize that our gender identities (the psychological adjustment we make to our gender) are subject to profound frustration. We may feel chronically inadequate to master certain ‘gender’ tasks, or experience repulsion over one’s body type combined with a persistent desire to have different body traits.

The gender-afflicted need inspired therapy, not surgery. It is cruel to subject a vulnerable soul to knives and implants and alien hormones. We do not ‘cure’ an anorexic by exercising fat from her body because she feels fat any more than we ‘cure’ a man who feels like a woman by cutting off his penis. We help him make peace with his intrinsic manhood, just as we help the anorexic adjust to a true body image.

Your friend is imprisoned by the lie that ‘feelings’ can and should determine biological gender. Wrong. God determines our gender and we must work that out in fear and trembling. Yes Jesus is the door that swings out from the prison and yes we must open it. Praise Him—we can do so in the light of Divine Mercy and merciful friends like you.

For this transformation, we need entire faith communities. I would suggest that you check out our offerings at Desert Stream/Living Waters (desertstream.org), the national Restored Hope Network of ministries (restoredhopenetwork.org), and the international network of Courage (couragerc.org). Please stay in touch. If your friend and family want to come out and meet with some of our staff, please let us know.

Andrew

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Magnificent Hope

While Obama’s White House shimmered in rainbow hues, while ‘the wicked freely strutted about because what is vile (‘gay marriage’) was honored among men’ (PS 12:8), faithful men and women gathered in Lancaster PA for the fourth annual Restored Hope Network Conference.

Hope fell on us like morning mist; it rained on a people leveled by the afflicting news that America had bent her knee to Baal as never before. We cried for our land and we cried for the God who had been faithful to the land, He whose merciful heart we betrayed.

And we cried tears of gratitude that we received the bitter news together. We were not alone: hope welled up in persons espoused to merciful Jesus in their same-sex attraction, parents and friends of ‘gay’-identified loved ones who love them too much to agree with their choices, godly counselors and pastors intent on championing the homosexually vulnerable onto chaste self-giving. In our brothers and sisters, we witnessed the Resurrected Christ. Exiled yes, but not forsaken. We have each other.

The Supreme Court declared its decision at the precise moment that Christopher West delivered one of the most magnificent talks I have ever heard: how our bodies and sexual desires disclose the cry of the cosmos for union, a bond fundamentally about spousal union with our God and chaste relating with each other, man and woman made in His image for passionate, creative, joyful living. West mentored me in my Catholic conversion; I respect him more than almost any other and I delighted that many of my RHN colleagues, mostly evangelical, reveled in his dynamic translation of St. John Paul’s teaching as much as I did.

Rob Gagnon summoned for us the same hope that sustained St. Paul in his multiple distresses, a hope that matures in us only through affliction. By granting us a New Testament perspective on how the Gospel shines brighter in darkness than in presumed light, Rob inspired us for the battle at hand.

Most hopeful of all were the stories of men and women captivated by the darkness of ‘gay’ and ‘tran’ selves and the earthy, holy, persistent love of Jesus and His members that set each free. A former drug and ‘gay’ sex addict, Ron Citlau is now a Reformed senior pastor, father of four, and champion of the homosexually broken in his denomination and beyond; he preached powerfully of the divine intimacy that became his hope. That hope now empowers every word he speaks. After his message, he gave two simple words: hope and power. Most of us rushed the altar where prayer ministers administered the Spirit of hope. The One who always seeks the lowest, driest ground in us filled us to overflowing.

Let hope abound as never before.

‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ (Rom. 15:13)

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