Friday, July 24, 2015

Lamenting



I wrote the following in response to some feedback I got on facebook for posting this article http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/so-called-same-sex-marriage

I wanted to respond to both of your comments which were expressed with much passion. I am pretty passionate about what I believe, too, so I am not sure that these exchanges will change either of our beliefs about this very polarizing topic, but perhaps it will bring more understanding. That would be my hope. I pray this will not just become a shouting match on my wall.

I lament for this decision of the courts not because I am closed minded or because I in some way look down on those who struggle (or don’t struggle) with same sex attraction. I have spent many hours on the streets sharing with people who struggle deeply with this issue. Nor is it because I am unaware of the decisions that some young people make as a result of that struggle. I hate suicide. It wounds people deeply and you both know that I experienced it up close and personal. So I would never want to be involved in anything that would encourage people to make that decision. Which is why I believe what I now embrace. My mother’s death was ironically what God used to bring me to the faith that I now hold so dearly. What I believe with all my heart is that The Truth will set us free. The lies of the enemy assault us at every turn, deceiving us and robbing us of the abundant life that God wants to give us. The battlefield is not in our flesh but rather it is in the mind. What we believe is what we will act upon. The Bible says that “as a man (or woman) thinks in his heart, so he is” (proverbs 23:7). So if a person has an attraction to the same sex, no matter how it came about, if he or she continues in those thoughts and is encouraged in those thoughts, they will become entrenched in those actions.
And that is the reason I lament the decision of the Supreme Court because I believe this will only encourage those trapped in this lifestyle to suffer even more. If we embrace sin simply because it seems too difficult to be free of it, or because our culture says it is not sin, then we will suffer the consequences of that sin. 1 John 1:8 says “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. “ And then verse 9 goes on to say this: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”


Yes, I do believe it is a sin. I know this is where you probably disagree with me strongly. My father used to tell me, when I would share with him from the Bible, that the Good Book was simply antiquated and not applicable to this day and age. I could not have disagreed with him more. I have a deep love of the scriptures. They have truly changed my life. The Scriptures reveal Jesus Himself to us and show us who we are in relation to Him. It’s the living breathing Word of God. There is a scripture that says this: Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. Paul is saying here to those who believe in Christ, that these things are what they once WERE. Just like Jesus, when He spoke to the woman caught in adultery, he did not condemn her but her said, “go and sin no more.” He didn’t say, oh you poor thing, you love another’s husband, go ahead and seek to marry him.” No, he called her out of it! Paul puts homosexuality in that same category. He says, “that is what you once were” but now by the faith you have placed in Jesus, you are free to be what God wants you to be. You are transformed! That is the good news! God didn’t come to leave us in our waywardness, no matter what the sin we struggle with. Because the truth is, we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God.

This week I have been thinking so much about the lifecycle of the butterfly. It’s such a miracle when you think of it. Here is this not-so-attractive caterpillar, plump and squishy and unable to fly, who makes a cocoon and somehow comes out of it totally transformed. The legs are slender and sleek, the wings are totally delicate and in many cases beautifully colored and so different than the original caterpillar body. And it flies. What happened in that cocoon? How does God do that? It’s so miraculous! And that’s what God does for us when we come into the understanding that we have sinned, that we have lived in the darkness of our own minds, believing lies about God and about ourselves, not only with those who feel they are gay but all of us. We all have been trapped in wrong thought patterns and need deliverance! And thanks be to God, He delivers!

I will admit there are things I do not understand about US culture. For the most part, people will agree with you it you say that adultery is a sin and that you should avoid it. But if you say that homosexuality is a sin, you are the one to be stoned! The Bible speaks of it as sin, so who are we to tell God what is sin and what is not sin? Who am I to tell Him what is holy and what is unholy? He also says that in the end times, this sin will abound. I think we are in those times. To me it is a crime not to tell someone caught in those lies that there is hope. You can be free through the power of Jesus! You don’t have to live in sin and shame.

I am so thankful that I can go to the streets with a message of hope. I can say to my friend who is wearing a mini skirt and a long wig and looks very womanly except you can see that something is not quite right, “there is a way out of this”! Jesus made a way where there seems to be no way. Jesus is the answer! He loves you! I know this because I have seen it. One rainy night, two January’s ago, I could not sleep. I sensed that God was gently urging me to go to the streets. I called our administrator and she agreed to go with me so I picked her up in our van and we headed for the area of town that we know well. The reason He sent us was because of Juan.* There he was, sitting on the curb, in a dress that was way too revealing, with his head held in his hands, long wig covering his face. His whole body language cried depression. He lifted his head when he saw the van and he called out my name. “You came,” he said, as if we were an answer to a whispered prayer. We got out of the car and sat down with him on the curb. He began to tell us that he was suicidal. He had made a decision that night to take his own life. He said he felt like no one understood him and he was tired of living a life of degradation and shame. And then we arrived and he knew it was not a coincidence. As he wept, we told him of a God who saves. We told him of a God who transforms us from the inside out! We told him of a Savior who had died for his darkness and sins and lies to give him a new life. He didn’t mind us telling him that he had offended God with his lifestyle. He knew it. And right before our very eyes, we got to witness the transforming power of Jesus. Juan bowed down at the feet of Jesus, recognized his sin, and asked Jesus to come into his life to wash away his old life. 2 Cor. 5:17 says “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Juan, now a Monarch. Juan, now free to be who God called him to be! I don’t pretend to tell you that everything was easy for Juan from that moment on. No, his mind had to be transformed on a daily basis, not to the things of this world but to the Word of God. (And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2) He had to learn who he is in Christ and he had to reject the lies of the past. But he is free.

So let us not make the mistake of calling holy what God calls unholy for the sake of convenience or culture or fear of offence. That, to me, is a lack of love.


*not his real name


Monday, March 30, 2015

From Normal to anything but!

It all started with a normal activity.  Elvia went to pick up Julio, 18 years of age, who is attending a government run vocational school in Danli, which is about a half hours drive  from our Villa property.  As Elvia waited for Julio to come out of the school, she began to notice the antics of some of the girls who were waiting to be picked up. It was not pretty.  I don’t know exactly what they were doing but it was bad enough that Elvia could not contain herself any longer and decided to get out of the car to confront them.  Elvia told me that she didn’t want to intervene because she has a reputation for being “metiche” (sticking her nose into other people’s business) but she felt like she had to speak to these young girls about their behavior.  So she got out of the car and went over and began to share with them about the Real Changer of behavior and lives.  Several of them were very touched and decided to give their lives to Christ, including the ring leader.  And thus began what would turn into the most powerful moment in the Spirit that I have ever experienced.  What happened in the “Normal School” which is what this High School is called was anything but normal!

As God would have it, the Cedars Christian School team from Prince George, BC was serving with us during this time.  Three times they have come and three times the Lord has moved powerfully in them and through them.  The burden for these young people at Julio’s School grew in Elvia’s heart and she asked me if we could do a joint outreach with our kids and some of the Cedar’s team.   Elvia contacted the Director of the Normal School  and was amazed at the openness to her request.  So it was all set.  We would arrive at the basketball court on Tuesday morning at 9:00am.  Now I just have to share with you here that both Elvia and I were thinking “outdoor basketball court with a small group of students present.”  So when we arrived at 9:00am with our little Canadian/Honduran band, we were shocked to find that the basketball court we had envisioned was really an auditorium filled with over 400 students all dressed in white and navy and all waiting for us. 


 They were seated but there was nothing quiet about the atmosphere.  As the director helped us get set up, we began to feel quite small in relation to the task.  Our little worship band filled up about 1/10th of the stage.  The worshippers which included two guitar players, a young Canadian on violin, and a vocalist started out timidly but began to take courage as my son Noe led the group in some bilingual songs.  Momentum started to build as one of the Canadian girls shared her testimony about how anorexia had nearly killed her after years of comparing herself to her twin sister.  The drama called “Everything” went well as our blended Honduran/Canadian youth team did a mime about the power of the cross. Some were already in tears when Janny got up to preach.  Elvia asked Janny to come and share because Janny had been a student at this school years before.  It was really a coming-full-circle moment for Janny to share the good news of Jesus here because she had not exactly lived a saintly life while attending the school.  She had since come to know Jesus and had worked at Jericho for a season before marrying and having three children.


Michael, Rebecca, Mariah, and Vanessa leading the singing
Janny preaching

  As Janny preached, many of the students, while not exactly unruly, were talking amongst themselves and the murmuring of their voices was growing louder as the minutes ticked by.  I wanted to go and grab the mic out of Janny’s hands and scold them, but there was no need.  As Janny asked them to close their eyes and think of Jesus and His sacrifice made on their behalf, the Holy Spirit began to move.  Silence took over the auditorium as each of the students bowed their heads and closed their eyes.  The Presence of Jesus became almost palpable as Janny asked if any of them wanted to stand up as a gesture to show that they needed to repent and ask Jesus into their lives.  No one stood.  Just silence ensued.  Janny continued to insist and suddenly one young girl in the back stood slowly to her feet.  At that moment something shifted in the atmosphere and while no one else stood to accept Christ, the gentle barely audible sobbing told us that the Spirit was moving powerfully.  One of our girls moved first.  Vanesa, now 16 years, rushed to pray for the one lone girl standing in the back.  The rest of the leaders began to reach out to the students sobbing in their seats.  More and more students were confessing their need for Jesus and standing to receive prayer.  Elvia reached out to a small group of boys and sensed that the Spirit would have her address the male student body.  She took the microphone and began to speak to the boys about pornography.  She invited any of the male students who were struggling with porn to go up on the stage where Noe would pray with them.  To our surprise, almost every boy went up on that stage.  Then Janny called any of the girls forward who needed prayer in relation to abortion and again, many of the girls went forward for prayer.  At one point I looked around and sensed how perfectly God was orchestrating this symphony of repentance and acceptance of His life!  It was so powerful.  Towards the end, I got some tracts and even in giving those out sensed an incredible anointing of his Presence.
There's no high like the Most High as Beth Moore would say.  In front are Danae and Brook, both of whom were used powerfully on this trip.  Janny, Elvia,Vanessa, Jaime and I are in the back with the ice cream man.
As we got ready to leave, Janny bought us all fudgesicles and we ate them gleefully as we tried to make sense of what we had just experienced.  There is a joy that Jesus gives when people are led into His Kingdom that almost knocks you over.  We were filled with that joy, almost like a wild high.  We recounted to each other what we had experienced as we made our way back to the Villa in the van. 

We are praying now for how to follow-up.  The Director of the Normal School has invited us back to share again but this time with the students who attend classes in the evenings.  We are excited to see how God will move again!