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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Young Lungs for Marriage

Please join us in Spirit (or in person) as we fight for marriage (and a new generation) in Washington State on Friday, February 3, from 4-7pm (pst) at Hillcrest Chapel, 1400 Larrabee, Bellingham, WA, 98225. For more info, contact Ann Armstrong at aarmstrong@desertstream.org.

Young Lungs for Marriage 

As the Washington State Legislature strives to adopt ‘gay marriage’, let us raise our voices to declare the truth that never changes and that always brings hope.

Hope for the integrity of marriage, and hope for freedom from sexual bondage needs to be proclaimed in this hour. How else will this generation—the first to forego marriage while championing the rights of gays to do so—hear the truth that can set them free!

Compelled by the youthful zeal of those who have grown up in an increasingly ‘gay-straight’ world, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire is now leading the drive for ‘gay marriage’ in her state.

Gregoire cites her daughters ‘who have grown up with kids who’ve got two moms and two dads, and they just think that this generation needs to get over it.’

That’s the kind of in-depth analysis that our lawmakers now employ to alter the most influential relationship in the world: ‘Just get over it’, as if marriage is an inalienable right that any group can claim as its own.

Might we pause a moment and remind ourselves that marriage belongs squarely and only to the realm of male/female, for the sake of protecting the new life created there, not to mention providing a witness of dignity and honor for sexual love for generations to come?

Might we pray that a new generation of voices might arise in Washington and throughout this land that could testify to the searing effect of sexual brokenness as well as the beauty of man for woman for each other in holy matrimony?

That is the best way to counter the all too pervasive ‘just get over it and stop discriminating against gays’ view espoused by the Governor’s daughters, and now sadly by the Governor herself.

I think of Kevin, our beloved intern from the middle of Washington state who early on began to explore his homosexuality only to discover that his lover could not offer him the completion he sought; broken, he returned to Jesus (and an amazing mother and father), found a Living Waters group in Seattle, and began the arduous, glorious process of becoming the man God created him to be.

Today he wants to do nothing more than to proclaim the truth that sets men and women free, the real justice that breaks chains and opens blind eyes. Recently, his story was featured on an MTV special: ‘True Lives’, which revealed not only his homosexual brokenness but the beauty of aspiring and securing one’s intrinsic dignity through the grace of God.

Might we pray for ‘young lungs’ like Kevin who knows better than to settle for ‘gay marriage’? Might my generation summon ‘sons and daughters’ who can testify to the unchanging truth of the import of marriage? Regardless of times and seasons, kids deserve more than two mommies and daddies. Neither our lawmakers nor their children nor we should buy the lie that justice is served by ‘gay marriage.’

Woe to us who are silent in this hour when marriage hangs in the balance. Let us lift up our voices and support the only meaning under God for marriage: one man committed to one woman for the sake of the new lives created there.

Please join us in Spirit (or in person) as we fight for marriage (and a new generation) in Washington State on Friday, February 3, from 4-7pm (pst) at Hillcrest Chapel, 1400 Larrabee, Bellingham, WA, 98225. For more info, contact Ann Armstrong at aarmstrong@desertstream.org.

The Cleansing Flood

The heart of our efforts in South America lies in Argentina, home of our faithful colleagues, Mauricio and Daniela Montion.

The enemy of our souls aims at the heart–perhaps that is why I usually experience significant degrees of temptation in Argentina. I can feel the tension as soon as I enter Buenos Aires then trek to Cordoba where our annual training is.

One year was especially tough. And I had only myself to blame. Troubled by the advances of ‘gay marriage’ back in the USA, I tossed and turned all night then turned on the TV for a distraction. Some Latin soft-porn game show was on—it only took a couple of minutes for my mind to be inflamed with foul images.

Shamed and dulled by sin, I met with the Living Waters Leadership team the next day in preparation for the training. All I could do was confess my sin before them. That elicited a string of confessions. Then we waited before the Lord. In a manner that I had not experienced before, God rolled in like a huge raincloud over us and just began to pour forth ‘living water’ upon us—He poured out His mercy like driving sheets of rain upon us. I could see sin and shame being forced out like rodents from a storm drain.

It was as if we were enveloped in a low-hanging cloud that kept raining on us, removing one layer of silt then raining more and removing another, then another. God’s cleansing Presence hovered about us for 15 minutes.

He made us new. He prepared us through His extravagant mercy to help others enter into the waters of mercy themselves.

The night that we renounced idols was unusually powerful. As soon as the sounds of deliverance had subsided, there was a sweet calm. Then one couple started dancing in the quiet. The worship team took their cue then we all started to dance, joyful celebrating the real people God had given us to love—not unreal images but beloved brothers and sisters we can enjoy without shame.

In spite of the merriment and victory, I awoke the next morning feeling heavy in spirit; my only refuge came through prayer. I kept praying through the heaviness, seeking a breakthrough. During the break, I took a long run in the pampas. I followed the same highway that the Franciscans and Jesuits took as they moved south to establish churches and schools throughout Argentina.

I noticed two foxes in front me traversing back and forth from the brush onto the road then back again. I was reminded of ‘the little foxes’ in Song of Songs, referring to spoilers of the vineyard and its fruit.

In a whisper, the Lord reminded me of just what we were doing at the training on behalf of South America. ‘Through your team, I am cleansing my people of the biggest obstacles that threaten to divide and devour them: sins of impurity and adultery, hostility between men and women, hostility between rich and poor, hostility between the dark native people and the white Europeans, hostility between Catholic and Protestant. You are establishing my cross as the ground of mercy, the level ground where those humbled by my mercy will be saved and set free. And the merciful ground that they will take establish in their own churches!’

I understood the warfare. It was worth the fight. I vowed yet again to tell the truth of my own sin and distress so that God’s mercy might rest upon me all the more. And I renewed my commitment to run hard as long as God gave me breath. And mercy. I barely noticed the little foxes in front of me as I ran back to our gathering.

‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight that what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’

A Cup of Cold Water

International travel takes a toll; normally good attitudes threaten to become foul under the strain of disorienting circumstances.

The cry for mercy matters here: ‘O God, show Your infinite patience to this sinner, this grumbler, that I may in turn show some measure of patience and mercy toward the needy in this land.’

He always answers our cry for mercy. It is a prayer that guarantees His gracious response.

I remember an unusually long trip to New Zealand in which we did conferences on both islands, poured ourselves out in a weeklong training then faced a crisis in national leadership toward the end of our time there. I sat with my colleagues in a cold damp motel room and whined.

My good friend comically mocked my grumbling. We laughed, we prayed for mercy; He gave us His power, and helped us to help the New Zealanders sort out the crisis at hand. He gave us mercy

During our first couple of trips to a new nation, our hosts would arrange media events—TV or radio interviews, mostly Christian, mostly annoying. (Keep in mind at this point I am inclined to whine…) These were usually scheduled before our training times—early in the morning or during meals. The scrappy, rather make-shift state of their operations made it worse.

I remember a South African TV interview in which everything went wrong, technically-speaking. It took twice as long, and I thought to myself: ‘What’s the point? We are preaching to the choir here, and a not very vital choir at that—Christian ‘shut-ins’ who are reduced to watching this drivel in the wee hours of the morning. This is a complete waste of time.’

Media darling that I am not, I finished up and forgot about it.

About a year later, I was ministering to a friend back in the USA, a well-known Christian leader who was dying of AIDS. Few knew that was his condition: he had a brief history of bisexual behavior a decade earlier, contacted the virus then, and when it threatened his life, decided to not make public the reason why.

Obviously, he combated significant shame as he fought for his life. He was a fine and virtuous man who so valued the few who knew the truth and who gave him mercy in it.

What he told me that day changed my view of Christian media. It seems that about 6 months earlier he was passing though South Africa on a ministry trip; he began to get ill for the first time, and stayed a couple of nights in an airport hotel to rest before the long flight home.

Apparently, the Christian TV station played my interview over those two days. Each time he saw it, he received a washing of the Lord’s mercy. My televised words gave him grace and courage to cast off shame and prepare for the battle at hand. He thanked me profusely for extending mercy to him in those crucial days.

A grumbling minister hands a fellow struggler a cup of cold water. In spite of the interior attitude of the messenger, the message of mercy goes forth. Our God is gracious, so intent on releasing mercy to His thirsty that He will use anyone to extend it. That’s the mercy of God.

‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight for what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’

Unholy Week? Crucifying Christ Afresh through ‘ Gay Marriage ’

On the week that centers on Christ Crucified for millions around the globe, the USA has acted in a most unholy manner. Palm Sunday to Good Friday was marked by daily advances of ‘gay marriage’ forces in our land. Our Bridegroom King, whose very image is manifest in male and female, and who is returning for a Bride, spotless and true, is being crucified afresh.

Consider this:

I read on Palm Sunday that Iowa’s unanimous Supreme Court decision to legalize ‘gay marriage’ deliberately excluded any ‘religious’ interference. According to the justice who wrote the Iowa decision, the Judeo-Christian structures on which our entire judicial system is built should no longer inform marriage. Left in the hands of secular servants, marriage mutates.
We crucify Christ afresh.

On Monday, Rick Warren, arguably the most influential Christian leader in the USA, said on national TV that he never really supported a ban on ‘gay marriage’ in CA. (He clearly had and did.) He claims that he called all of his gay friends and apologized for any perceived support of the ban, underscoring that he has ‘never been and never will be an anti-gay marriage activist.’ Deceiving, confusing, political back-pedaling: Warren is rewriting history and has bought the lie that to support marriage is ‘ant-gay’. And he is backing off entirely from standing for marriage when it is most in peril.
We crucify Christ afresh.

On Tuesday, Vermont became the first state in the union to allow same-sex marriage through legislative action instead of a court ruling. That empowers nine other legislatures that are considering marriage measures this year, including New York, New Jersey, Maine and New Hampshire. Activists in New England are unashamed to admit that they are choosing states where organized religious opposition is the weakest. We are now aware and without excuse: there is a systematic, targeted effort to establish a same-sex marriage stronghold in the Northeast.
We crucify Christ afresh.

On Wednesday, I read of Obama’s appointment of a gay political activist and ‘Christian’ to his advisory board for ‘Faith-based Partnerships.’ The appointee, Harry Knox, was previously head of Religion and Faith for the biggest gay advocacy group in the nation (the Human Rights Campaign), and has been instrumental in reinterpreting scripture in a gay-affirming manner for churches throughout the USA.
We crucify Christ afresh.

By Maundy Thursday, I was beat up. I needed my feet washed from the idolatrous ground of my nation; I was hungry for Jesus and I partook of Him heartily at the communion table that night.

As we gathered for Good Friday as a church, I looked around the body and saw Gideon’s army, a humble band of men and women whom the Crucified has rescued from the idolatry of this world: husbands and wives, singles, old and young, heterosexually and homosexually broken and yet being made new, ‘an army whose weaknesses are being turned to strength and who are becoming powerful in battle, able to route foreign armies.’ (Heb. 11: 34)

I felt hope. Isn’t that what Good Friday is all about? In the darkest hour, at the time when men extinguish the light, God prepares the most glorious expression of His light. N.T. Wright says: ‘The cross is not the world’s victory over Jesus, but Jesus’ victory over the world.’

Jesus death is the ground on which resurrection power is manifest. So is our surrender to His purposes. Let man’s efforts to crucify Christ afresh through ‘gay marriage’ have its perfect work. Raise from the dead a Gideon’s army, O God. Let a repentant, empowered people arise.

Let us arise out of fear or intimidation of the dark powers. Let us hold fast to Him as the One who makes a way for us to make Him known. We do so by upholding His image in humanity and by refusing all efforts, however winsome, to distort that image.

Marriage matters. It represents Christ on earth more clearly than any other relationship. While we have the light, let us live with integrity what it means to bear His image and insist on its clear representation in the land. We cannot afford to be unclear or uncommitted towards marriage in this perilous hour.

We do so in and through Him, His resurrection power rooted in our very weakness. May we emerge out of this dismal winter of ‘gay marriage’ advances and into the spring of upholding God’s design for all. Consider man for woman, woman for man—the awesome dance of masculine strength and feminine beauty. It’s worth fighting for.

Repentance for the Arrogance that is Idolatry

The Apostle Paul claims that all of humanity knows something of the truth of God through His design in creation. Our hearts bear witness of His grandeur through the works of His hand. That applies to the duality of male and female in humanity and throughout all of creation.

Humanity that rejects the witness of God in creation comes under judgment. That is because God holds us accountable to the witness of who He is through His design. Paul writes in Romans that “men suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what is known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” Men and women are without excuse when they reject God and His image in humanity, because God’s qualities are evident in what He made, including His heterosexual design for creation. (Rom. 1:18-20)

In denying God and His creation, rebellious humanity cannot worship the true God. So we make idols to worship. That idolatry ultimately results in sexual immorality, including the futile and compulsive quest to become one with a member of one’s own gender. “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” (Rom. 1:25)

Last June, I witnessed the celebration of this idolatry when CA began to issue gay marriage licenses. All the major papers and TV news shows featured glowing accounts of same-gender unions. Every editorial gushed at CA’s noble and courageous effort to serve justice to gays.

I thought: “No-one covering this tragedy has any fear of the Lord and His creation.” I thought of those verses in 1Samuel 15:23 where the prophet likens “rebellion to the sin of witchcraft, and arrogance to the evil of idolatry.” Those who promote gay marriage place their own foolish ideas of justice over reverencing God and His creation. They are without excuse; God has made Himself plain to them through creation and they have rejected that witness. Such arrogance is the evil of idolatry.

Idolatry perverts justice. I recently spoke with a man who lost his wife to a lesbian who was training for the pastorate in the Presbyterian Church USA. The two women began to have an affair. The diocese in charge of the lesbian supported her new relationship, even though it meant breaking up a marriage with kids! While advocating for the ‘poor’ lesbians, the church abused the betrayed husband, and presided over the destruction of a marriage.

Thinking themselves just, the world and the worldly church become foolish and abusive. Isaiah writes: “So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the street, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice.”(Is. 59: 14, 15)

Such idolatry and perversion of justice offends God. “Who is it you have insulted and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel!” (Is. 37:23)

“Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, ‘Who sees us? Who will know?’ You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, ‘He did not make me’? Can the pot say of the potter, ‘He knows nothing’?” (Is. 29:15, 16)

God knows all. He knows what He place in our hearts that attest to His grandeur in creation. And He knows our tendency to turn away from Him and thus subject ourselves and others to all manner of perversion. In that delusional state, we become dull, arrogant, and proponents of false justice. We grieve God’s heart.

“Father, we confess our idolatry. We have worshipped our own perspectives on sex and justice. In our deception and pride, we have blasphemed Your very essence. We confess , O God, how gay marriage blackens Your eye, spits on Your creation, and reveal our rebellion. We really think we know better than You. We confess we have little if any fear of who You are, and how You have revealed Yourself to us in creation. Forgive us, O God. Please give us a holy fear of You before it is too late. May we fall on You the Rock and be broken of our arrogance before the Rock falls on us. (Lk 20:18)

“For our offenses are many in Your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities; rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, fomenting oppression and revolt, uttering lies our hearts have conceived.” (Is. 59:12, 13)

Honor marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

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