Archive

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Clear-Sighted Compassion

John the Baptist’s astute sight and sound: ‘Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ (Jn. 1:29) takes my breath away. His vision stops me in my tracks and invites me to yield to Jesus whatever ‘sin-sickness’ needs His cure. He is masterful: re-entry into His wounds assures me that He will assume my dross while surrounding what is precious. And vulnerable. Repentance always requires healing Presence to fortify and lend form to what is weak but inclined to truth.

Last Sunday’s Gospel account met me poignantly, unexpectedly. Before the Lamb, I saw a picture of a car with a minor, almost unseen dent. The danger lay in rust slowly growing and extending its corrosive fingers from the minor injury. I knew what it was. Though familiar, the same new sin, it scared me. I needed to linger in the inner courts of the Lamb, facedown before the cleansing, healing flood still faithfully flowing from His wounds–a fresh washing, and drowning. I needed two things: to die afresh to that corrosion and to resubmit the wound to Him.

To be honest, that hurt my pride. And goaded my impatience. I am sick of this process! So easy to exalt the lifetime plan of becoming chaste—so easy until you hit a bump in it and are thrown off your proud horse, any illusion of having arrived.

I spent a longer time in His Presence than usual and asked what He was doing. Before I could hear, a deep sadness welled up in me, a nearly primal loneliness defined eloquently by Joseph Pieper ‘as a truly penetrating knowledge of created things that is associated with an abysmal sadness…which cannot be lifted by any natural force of knowledge or will.’

My first tendency is to renounce such sadness as ‘the worldly sorrow that brings forth death’ (2 Cor. 7:10). But this was different; God—not His enemy—was surfacing a deep sorrow related to historic disconnectedness. He timed it well, and I could see (my heart tends to ‘see’ things more than ‘hear’) His eyes looking at me with deep compassion. That freed me to grieve more deeply, and I recalled the many Gospel passages where Jesus looked at harassed, clueless people and had an immediate, gut-wrenching longing to help them, e.g. compassion (Matt. 9:36; 14:14; 15:22; Mk 6:4; 8:2). He looks at me kindly too.

As I welcomed His consolation where I need it most, many faces of persons I love who also face a similar loneliness came to mind and I could see and weep for them with fresh compassion. I recalled a boy in my neighborhood whom I see often playing by himself; he is being raised by a group of ‘intersectional feminists’, I presume ‘lesbian’-identified, with one ‘transitioning’. His family beliefs preclude any bridge to manhood for him. I will advocate for him, starting on my knees: ‘Jesus, good shepherd, give me Your eyes and heart with which to see, to feel deeply, to act with compassion for him.’

May we welcome the Lamb of God where we most need Him and allow His compassion to infuse how we love others.

Please take time to watch our video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

Download PDF

Fierce, Tender Love

‘Each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked.’ (Neh.4:18)

Fighting for wholeness is at once a personal and corporate battle. We help others refuse daily the lure of familiar gods while we strategize to stop the advance of enemy armies. Like the rebuilders of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s time, we heal with one hand and lance demons with the other.

Poland understands this well. The most powerful Catholic nation in Europe, she refuses to bow the knee to the LGBT+ juggernaut that has all but brought Western Europe to its knees. For example, France is mounting a national bill that would criminalize helpers who accompany persons beyond the rainbow curtain.

I just returned from Poland where we visited several Archbishops—gatekeepers of the Church who welcomed us. Like all church leaders, they are aware of the abuses and scandals of hypocrisy in their ranks. And they hold fast to how Jesus offers the better way to all who surrender to Him. They will not tolerate sexual identities built on a fault-line, incapable of engendering life.

What they did not know was how Jesus is transforming sinners like you and me, persons painfully aware of the wound but now immersed in the Mercy that has become our freedom, our wholeness, the gift we offer others out of gratitude.

Yes, we concurred; we must resist false ideologies. But at the same time, we must heal our divided members. We boldly proclaimed how this Church has become for us—and we for her—a community of healing capable of routing foreign armies. Ours is her deep wellspring of mercy for good Catholics harassed by idols and demons who seek chastity, not politicized ‘identities.’

We experienced the fierce and tender intercession of our Polish patrons—St. John Paul ll who ever displays the beauty of man for woman, woman for man, and St. Faustina who insists on Jesus’ mercy conquering all counterfeits.

These Church warriors teared up as they heard our stories: we declared to them: ‘We are the Church—members of Jesus—witnesses of wholeness and now healers poised to dig deep wells of mercy in every diocese of this great land.’

We were heard; we were welcomed. ‘Make Your Church in Poland a beacon of healing for all of Europe and beyond, Almighty King and Author of Mercy.’

‘I do not have time to tell about… [those] whose weaknesses were turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.’
(Heb. 11:32-34)

Please take time to watch our video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

Download PDF

First Love

‘Encourage one another daily…so that no-one may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We share in Christ if we hold firmly to the confidence we had at first.’ (Heb. 3:13, 14)

My life and the life of Desert Stream Ministries is bound together in marriage: Annette and mine, 39-years-old, just one year short of our first Desert Stream gathering in 1980. Marital growth multiplied our offering to others. No doubt about it: as we learned to submit to each other out of fear and joy, God increased the quality of our service. Water levels rose from the well we dug together.

Maybe it had something to do with our brokenness. I was in love with this woman but selfish and subject to immoral shadows; she was abused and hesitant to give up control in certain areas. We knew sin’s deceitfulness!

We shared in Christ together, actively, deliberately. We told the truth of our wounds and learned to prayerfully extend mercy to each other. We strove for justice too, to give the other his or her due. We had a right, lovingly, to the other’s body—to share our love physically. But this had little meaning if we weren’t willing to do the hard work of real ‘foreplay’: sharing the whole of ourselves, as best we could, with our clothes on. It is easier to open your pants than your mouth! As I denied my isolated, wordless brooding for her wise and soft response (usually!), I became a stronger, more whole man. I solidified into a spouse who could help tenderize her sometimes wary heart.

Trust is a gift and a condition of heart that one must cultivate daily in marriage. ‘Sin’s deceitfulness’ is sly, subtle: we harden over time in little unspoken ways as we project old fears and shames onto the beloved.

More than ever in this 40th year of our ministry, the enemy of our marital soul wants to tempt us onto separate tracks. There Anette and I function well enough, like well-tuned roommates, but fail to access marital grace. Only as we submit to one another (Eph. 5:21) deliberately is that grace ours. Time does not make us better spouses; it may well make us presumptuous, unwilling to reveal the blessed, broken, still-needing-confirmation parts to each other.

The marital blow-ups that have singed us all did not begin with a brazen seduction, just a slow cooling of trust and affection then the pull of other gods, other covenants. We can say without hyperbole that the world has never been more effective in firing marital discontent and driving us to dissolve our vows.

This year Annette and I celebrated 40 Christmases together. I want 20 more. To actualize my desire, I must hold fast to these words from Hebrews: ‘We share in Christ IF we hold FIRMLY to the confidence we had at first.’ I have a responsibility to strengthen today what I promised 39-years-ago.

This year I have committed to initiate a weekly time with Annette where we will deliberately go where we may not want to go—focused blessing and also pointed questions about where we are, how we are. We pray and talk spontaneously during the week but in the roar of things we skim hard stuff. It is my duty to take us deeper. If you are a husband, would you consider joining me in this initiative? It is always refreshing to me when the man leads the conversation. What most wives long for, we men dodge. Stop dodging. Slay your enemy by revealing your love, however uneven, to the one who needs it most.

Marital confidence should never become passive; it demands our engagement if we are to thrive in its benefits and reveal something of Jesus’ love for His Bride.

‘Repent and do the things you did at first.’ (Rev. 2:5)

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

Going the Distance: 40 Years of Healing, Equipping and Proclaiming.

Download PDF

Silent Word, Shining

‘Shine like lights in the universe, as you hold out the Word of life’ (Phil. 2: 15, 16).

A season of silence ends: now back to airports, bills, staff management, and decisions, big and small. 2020 marks our 40th year as a ministry. I shall covet quiet around the edges to reflect on where we’ve been, where next.

It helps to trust the Word has been sown deeply in our hearts and will bring forth fruit—His will deepening, growing, breaking forth as He sees fit. We position ourselves before Him as to reflect something glorious, His very Presence fanning into flame what pleases Him, be it at full volume or in quiet encounters.

I caught a glimpse of this last week as my son Nick preached an excellent sermon on the ‘holy family.’ (After much therapy, he wisely made no allusions to ours.) Afterwards, a young woman unknown to me but a big fan of Nick asked me who I was. When she discovered I was the preacher’s dad, she kind of fawned over me and I demurred: ‘Reflected glory.’

So it is with each of us. The Light has dawned in our darkness—the Word has found good ground in the broken soil of our lives and pleads to unfurl. God’s glory goads us, His silence begs to be broken by the Word declared!

Here we see the genius of this Church season. Advent begins with the promise of Light, with Christmas the Light dawns in Jesus, and now Epiphany—the showing of Christ through the witness of our lives. Epiphany calls us out of what can become an ingrown culture of missals, beads, postcard saints and swoony devotion. Yes, the chaos outside and within demands quiet. But the Word demands a hearing through the story of our messy radiant lives.

Show Christ! Use words! Break the silence between you and a host of delightful creatures in darkness who listen only to their own soundtracks and meandering, fractured narratives. I want everyone to know that Jesus can heal ‘LGBT+’ anything. He surpasses our tendency to settle on misbegotten ‘feeling’ states.

In saying nothing, we stoke deceived powerbrokers who criminalize our good news. Every new presidential candidate wants to outlaw ‘reparative therapy.’ Remember, this is not about a type of counseling. This is about silencing anyone with the courage to say: ‘I’m not sure LGBT+ identification is the best expression of your true self. Let’s walk together in Jesus; He will show you who you are…’

Our transformed lives say it best. Let us heed God’s word to Jeremiah: ‘If you utter worthy, not worthless words, you will be my spokesperson’ (Jer. 15:19). To be sure, silence helps us to separate the wheat from the chaff, what to say and what not. St. John Paul ll counsels us wisely: ‘We need to learn a silence that allows the Other to speak when and how He wishes.’

Sensitized by silence, the Word commands a hearing—treasures from darkness ready to flair into fireworks. This is our season to shine: God revealing Himself through our witness of His transforming love.

I won’t soon forget Jesus’ invitation last November to declare that love before the Kansas City Council. Sandwiched between the darkened minds of that Council and several rows of disgruntled LGBT+ers, I declared several truths that provoked satanic rage. A roar went up as the Spirit directed me to declare that persons like me deserve choice, that we who pursue chastity are now the endangered minority, and that the Council was in no way ready to vote on something they knew nothing about.

Surprised by my own words, I realized they were not entirely mine, in the Spirit of Lk. 11: 11 and 12: ‘When you are brought before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.’

As the Word received in silence burns in us, fan it into flames. Speak. Entrust the fire to heaven. Shine.

‘If I say, “I will not mention Him or speak any more in His Name”, His Word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot’ (Jer. 20: 9).

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

Download PDF
silent word pleading

Silent Word, Pleading

‘The true revolution comes from silence’ (Robert Cardinal Sarah).

‘How silently, how silently the wondrous Gift is given.’ Yet Christmas can clamor like a bullhorn and break the stillness in which we might otherwise meet Him. Don’t get me wrong: I mostly love the din of these days—grandkids whose marvel escalates to murderous screams in a few seconds, four large dogs traversing house and muddy yard, sweet exchanges among loved ones that in exasperated moments turn sour. Tis the season for brief regrets, lavish apologies.

What bugs me most is how quickly my largesse dries up, how fast I slalom from misty-eyed meditations on God’s generosity to rigid reactions to the flawed. And me, the most cratered of all…

I didn’t know how weary I was until I quieted myself. I became aware of a range of suppressed emotions—contempt for some, lust for others, empathy for afflicted ones that like a cancer turned on itself and tempted me with despair over their loneliness while reminding me of my own. Happy Holidays!

Running through all this like a dark river was external noise—the sludge of the Internet. When tired I grasp after my cell phone like a junkie to a fix. Not helpful. The divided world out there riles my own dissonance, be it impeachment wars or the nightmare loosed by LGBT+ insistence on primacy in everything (dissing Salvation Army for honoring heterosexual monogamy, demonizing persons who believe sexuality must be generative and not merely gymnastic, assassination for any who refuse to normalize moral disorder.)

‘Nothing is left but a wound of words, without perspective, without truth, without foundation. Quite often ‘truth’ is no more than the pure and misleading creation of the media, corroborated by fabricated images and testimonies’ (#56, Power of Silence, Cardinal Sarah).

But the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it (Jn. 1:5). My yuletide muddle was right where Jesus wants me. Silent. Too tired for words. Only then does the Word come, swiftly, an invitation to be still and know this God for whom ‘silence is not an absence but the most intense of all presences’ (#12, Power of…Sarah).

I need more than a little of Him; I need to re-enter His depths and stay there, not lunging into another text or event in which I will manifest my real awful presence via sharp critique or inane comment (I excel at both, poor Annette).

I need to linger in the silence, opening my mouth only to receive the Word, like a baby bird being fed by its mother. No wonder Sarah declares: ‘Developing a life of prayer is probably the first and foremost battle of our age’ (#70). My battle. My responsibility. I must ‘make every effort to enter His rest’ (Heb.4:11).

That rest is silent adoration, where He just wants to love me. Period. He wants to inebriate me with His loving Presence. He cares about people so He cares about how I love them. When I am centered in love, I love better. So He loves me. In silence. He speaks only to remind me of that love. Unchanging. Focused. Jealous. More than enough.

Jesus intimated this to a Benedictine monk. I will take it for me too. ‘The purpose of My words is to unite you to Me in the silence of love. That is why friends and lovers speak to each other: to express what they hold in their hearts. Once these things have been expressed, it is enough that they remain united in the silence that is the most perfect experience of their love’ (In Sinu Jesu, pp. 108, 109).

In prayer, we can hear the Silent Word pleading: for our compromised dignity, for our need for mercy, for that primitive ache which is only satisfied in the silence of Love. May we seek and savor His quiet as 2020 dawns.

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

Download PDF
1 2 3 152
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: