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AB 2943 and Divine Mercy

Will California Preserve Freedom of Choice?

The California legislature tried to railroad AB 2943 through the Senate; it looked like a sure thing for a political body intent on outlawing any moral action that clashes with the state’s LGBTQ+ juggernaut. Strangely, the bill was put on hold until August 6th. Besides giving dissenters like us more time to pray and engage the powers-that-be, what happened?

Divine mercy. That’s what happened. 2000 years ago the powers-that-be thought they had vanquished Jesus. Yet His death loosed a river of life that breaks the stronghold of death in every person who calls upon His Name. The Cross is the ultimate expression of divine mercy: it set into motion the truth that cruelties of every kind, including unjust laws like AB 2943, do not have the final say. God turns them around in order to achieve an even greater good.

All it requires is for God’s people to prayerfully gather in humility and compassion. From San Diego to Redding, Christian dissenters from San Diego to Redding have amplified the truth that Jesus changes lives. Sexual wholeness outshines a ‘gay’ wedding or a ‘sex’ change any day. For the last four months, Christians in California have displayed the glorious splendor of the Kingdom. Wisely and persistently, weak people being redeemed by Jesus have countered worldly thinking that threatens free speech and action—through their own stories, they have championed citizens’ rights to choose how they will resolve gender issues.

Bethel Church Redding arose in response to AB 2943 as never before. Two members, Elizabeth Woning and Ken Williams, both formerly ‘gay’-identified, have worked tirelessly and effectively to engage with lawmakers in Sacramento and to rally churches throughout California to support choice by refusing AB 2943. I met them 20-months-ago at the onset of their Bethel-based ministry ‘Equipped to Love’ (equippedtolove.com); though clear in their call, their course of action wasn’t. Not anymore. These two are as empowered and focused as anyone in the field. Get a copy of their booklet ‘Changed’. For such a time as this.

Two women from Living Waters in Pasadena met with the representative of a key decision-making senator in Sacramento; they influenced her by telling their stories wisely and well. Many more friends of mine in California who in the past have been reticent to tell the whole truth of Jesus’ work in their lives have boldly gone before cameras and large groups to make known His merciful love in their sexual brokenness. Some have risked jobs due to LGBT+ employers. We endure shame for love’s sake, for the joy set before us.

Faithful lawyers, orthodox clinicians, and pastors of every ethnicity have joined us at every turn to offer wise support. There is an army of intrepid truth-bearers who are arising in this hour. AB 2943 provoked this army. This is divine mercy—God turning around injustice in order to achieve His greater aim.

We are undoubtedly helped by two rulings last month by the Supreme Court. Clearly now, the highest court in our land is not inclined to any group being railroaded by the government when legitimate and deeply held views are at stake, including a cake-maker in Colorado who could not in good conscience bake for a ‘gay’ wedding (his resistance was honored by the court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CCRC) or pro-life pregnancy centers in California who need not advertise for abortions. (Under California law, the centers were forced to do so until NIFLA v. Becerra.)

The implications of these decisions are huge for AB 2943. Christians have an objective yet countercultural understanding of sexual wholeness that has been demonized by the California legislature. If AB 2943 passes, it will make a bee-line to the Supreme Court where, in my humble opinion, it hasn’t a chance. Can the California legislature see this? If so, did that contribute to its delayed vote?

Divine mercy. When Jesus’ members humble themselves and offer bad things back to Him, He turns them around and does something better. That is good news for a world that awaits the outcome of AB 2943. Massachusetts wants to pass such a law, as does the UK and France. Will the faithful show the world a different, better way? Maybe California will preserve freedom for sexual wholeness.

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Your Answered Prayers

In New York City, on the last day of ‘Gay Pride’ month, God had the last word.  In the same city where a noisy and highly funded LGBT+ parade glorified identity confusion a week earlier, Living Waters flowed without notice, quietly yet mightily to heal wounds at the core of the relational mess we are in.

Together a thirsty group of Catholics and evangelicals gathered under the Cross to receive His self-giving and to seek to offer ourselves more wholly to others. We welcomed His healing rain in a Catholic parish on 100-degree parched ground. We found Jesus’ heart right in the heart of New York City.

You, through your ongoing generosity and collaboration in heart and prayer, helped make it possible for us —in answer to years of prayer —to minister to the hearts of many in Manhattan.

Jim and Joann bravely shared about how Living Waters are gently yet powerfully flowing into on their 30+ year-marriage that had been riddled by each of their porn addictions.  The Living Waters are running deep to touch the roots of their wounds of which porn is just a symptom. Jim shared about his never having felt good enough which led him to the military and a masculinity that dominated everyone around him, including his wife.  Already ill at ease with her feminine vulnerability, Joann lived under his domination and endured through self-protection.

Through Living Waters, their wounds are being revealed and cleansed. They are experiencing tender love for each other like never before. Thank you for your generosity that releases Living Waters.

My amazing daughter Katie, a young single woman desiring marriage but joyful and content in trusting God’s unfolding plan for her, shared with the candor of one whose heart is free and alive.  Her story illustrates the destructive power that a tiny bad seed can have in producing weeds that can choke a flower.  Though growing up in a pretty good family (if I do say so myself), she too experienced wounding by words spoken over her by peers–lies that she internalized.  These lies festered and stunted the flowering of her femininity.  But through Living Waters she came to understand and take hold of the unique beauty and value she possesses. The vitality that she radiates to all is because generous friends like you helped release Living Waters.

These stories remind us that God’s last word is always grace, mercy and newness of life.  This was the last word He spoke into New York City on the last day of “Gay Pride” month.  Without you, this would not be possible. Because of you, important ground was taken back in New York City and reclaimed for God and His Kingdom of Life and Love.

Will you help us to continue to free and renew hearts and reclaim lives for God?  Our country just celebrated the freedom won for us by those who sacrificed their lives.  Amid record-breaking temperatures and oppression over much of the country, many cry out for healing rain–the Living Waters of true freedom.  Will you help to refresh them?  Will you help us to bring this Living Water to them that they might discover the true life God has for them?

The summer is a difficult time for Desert Stream financially.  But there is so much thirst which continues unabated. We are few yet we have you. How glorious is that: together we can bring freedom and life to many hearts in our country. Please remember us in your prayers and giving.  Bless and love you all.

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Naming Persons in Truth

‘So from now on we see no-one from a worldly point-of-view’ (2Cor 5:16).

It helps persons to name them as they really are. Everyone loses when we heed the false naming of persons according to feelings of same-sex attraction or other expressions of gender disintegration. We as Christians must lead the way by inviting others to align language with God’s vision for humanity. He made us and should be honored in how we see and what we say about others.

I refuse to call anyone ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ or ‘straight.’ I see a man or woman, made in God’s image. However estranged from Him, each person is deeply loved by the Father who through His Son seeks each out as His beloved son or daughter. He calls us to integrate our gender gift by learning how to befriend (not romanticize) our own gender and to honor the other as an essential good.

We set ourselves up for trouble when we adopt LGBT+ language; in doing so, we empower systems to grant a ‘people group’ status to an ever-morphing assortment of gender ‘selves.’ This proves dangerous to Christians. Last week, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled to remove graduate school accreditation from the law arm of Trinity Western University because this reputable Christian institution insists that its students abstain from sexual intimacy outside of marriage, a requirement deemed ‘discrimination’ by LGBT+ activists.

The Court ruled that abstinence clause would ‘deter LGBT+ students from attending the law school and would cause them harm.’ Wow. The state insists that Christian morality bow before a fractured band of persons who pretends to be a ‘people group.’

Not much different from AB 2943 in California. Based on false assumptions that persons are intrinsically wired as ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ from early childhood and will be devastated by anything less than a ‘gay’ wedding or gender ‘reassignment’, the state now seeks to remove any other option. In other words, the state seeks to make fraudulent a person’s decision to be reconciled to who God says he or she is.

We fight deception with proper language. Everyone can make the choice to integrate his or her gender; we base our way, and the words that describe it, on our Creator and Redeemer. He authors clarity, not confusion.

Speaking of confusion, a proudly Bible-based denomination with many good expressions in Kansas City has been significantly influenced by the ‘gay Christian’ slant of Wesley Hill. Hill embraces his same-sex attraction as identity, impermeable to change, yet holds to abstinence. I find that split between being and doing confusing.

Hill has impacted a Kansas City man who ‘gay’-identifies and who was recently ordained a minister in that denomination. He misleads others in his language and witness. Seeking no further integration in his sexual self, he exhibits a ‘gay’ sensibility in his identity and relationships with other men. He may be free from same-sex behavior but is unchaste, disintegrated. What can be expected from one who declares himself ‘gay’ as a Christian minister and leads others accordingly?

Finally, we see the impact of this confusion upon the most vulnerable. The New York Times celebrated two ‘men’ having a baby–in truth, one a woman pretending to be a man. This full-page article sought to normalize diverse families during ‘Pride’ month and ended up displaying the chaos that results when persons are encouraged to assume false selves. Honestly, their story descended into such confusion that even the one who gave birth remarked: ‘This is not real life; it’s some crazy soap opera.’ That may be a scream for consenting adults but now a child is involved who is daily subject to her confused caregivers.

Without consent. That is nothing short of child abuse, and everyone who champions LGBT+ selves without any consideration to God’s will and way may well be an accomplice to these injustices.

Christians run the risk of becoming insipid and dim when we begin to adopt LGBT+ jargon. Name persons in truth. See and say according to God’s will for our gendered humanity.

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Grand Father’s Day

Camille Comiskey was born June 8th, 2018 to Christina Comiskey and my eldest son Greg. She is beautiful, feisty, and unusually tall for her age. Her dark hair and eyes captivate us; her exuberance keeps Greg and Tina on their toes.

Camille was also born with a temporary problem involving her blood sugar levels so she was 10 days in the NICU. She needed monitoring and unusual amounts of feedings to normalize. That was tough on her and her parents. By the time Father’s Day rolled around on the 17th, Greg and Tina were weary in doing well and frustrated by being cooped up in a rather dreary unit that in spite of everyone’s excellent efforts was light years from home.

On top of it all, Christina was readmitted to the hospital due to some complications from her cesarean section. So Gregory divided his time between wife and child in different sections of the hospital. Tough. Yet he rallied valiantly and determined to do what was best for the two without complaint. I saw glimpses of St. Joseph in him as he served his family. I was proud.

For our family, Father’s Day surrounded the struggle of this young family. How fitting: Greg’s first Father’s Day did not begin with breakfast in bed or receiving sentimental cards but in a sleepless prayerful night followed by a day of caregiving. He nailed it. I bought him a sandwich on a break that day and marveled at his tenacity. He was anxious for both wife and child yet grateful for Christina’s recovery and his splendid daughter. We prayed and went back to the NICU where Annette was caring for Camille.

I went home alone and was surprised by a brief visit from youngest son Sam and wife Chelsea who brought Jacob–8-months-old now, and unbelievably cute. Pictures don’t do him justice. He renews Annette and me unlike anything else. I drank him in on this first Father’s Day for both Sam and Greg. They gave me the best Father’s Day ever.

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Barnabas

Last week the Church honored St. Barnabas, ‘the son of consolation and encouragement’ who empowered St. Paul to fulfill his mission to the Gentiles. Barnabas seemed little concerned with his success; though both he and Paul were granted apostolic titles (Acts 14:14), Barnabas ignited Paul then flamed out into early martyrdom. He did his part as a servant leader.

Also last week, we sponsored our sixth annual Living Waters Training in Latin America (Aquas Vivas), this time in Guadalajara Mexico. At the helm was Daniel Delgado. What struck me about Daniel’s leadership was the way he encouraged everyone to do his or her part. He rejoiced in others’ joy in serving Jesus. He served others without complaint in order to help ensure their success. He did not get lost in whatever losses he incurred. He is a type of Barnabas for Aquas Vivas.

This was only Daniel’s fourth Aquas Vivas Training. Up until two years ago, he struggled to speak Spanish. In a relatively short time he has integrated his Mexican-American heritage, now speaks in the tongue of his forefathers, and authentically embodies the Latino spirit.

It is natural for him to come alongside a range of Latin Americans who seek to offer their brokenness to Jesus and others; given his transgender background, Daniel knows how personal transformation of identity releases healing for all. Like Barnabas in Antioch, Daniel in Guadalajara ‘saw God’s grace at work and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart. For he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith’ (Acts 11:23, 24).

This was a hard year for Aquas Vivas. Our blessed friends in Puerto Rico were devastated by Hurricane Maria and are still mobilizing to continue the work of Living Waters there. (It is miraculous that the biggest delegation from the island came to be trained last week.) Yet other seasoned leaders could not join us due to unusual obligations or had moved onto other forms of service. At times I wondered if our Mexican plans would be realized. Daniel is a deep healer and hard worker but not an administrator per se. Could he pull this off?

Not alone. He assembled an amazing team of Aquas Vivas leaders from the Guadalajara area. Meric, Francisco, Veronica and Father Ricardo share Daniel’s heart of servant leadership while possessing gifts he does not. Together the team did an excellent job, so much so that I evaluate this training as the most peaceful and effective we’ve yet experienced in Latin America. A cohesive team, coordinated by a man motivated by others’ success: thank you St. Barnabas for your witness of encouragement. Thank you, Daniel, for embodying that witness.

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