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Magdalenes-in-the-making

Magdalenes-in-the-Making

As I looked out at the Latinos who had come forward to ‘clean house’, I was struck by their radiance. Though time-worn, their faces looked new; defilement underfoot, they beamed like virgins. Pure gratitude shone from hearts washed afresh by the blood, water and Spirit. I marveled at this corporate witness of our faith’s most basic truth: Jesus makes all things new…

Such cleansing required good hard work from all who attended our Living Waters Training in the flowering hills just south of Mexico City. Natural beauty hid a slew of demons—lay leaders and clergy from around Latin America had resumes of sexual abuse, sexual addiction, adultery, and religious abuse, with generational sins empowering shame and lust. Young ones among us bore the mark of ‘gay’-affirming mandates from nations like Argentina, and Mexico which approved ‘gay marriage’ just days before the US Supreme Court did.

Our international leadership team entered into the battle being waged for souls, and had to contend with irrational forces seeking to weary and divide us. God sustained us through His Spirit; we responded through constant prayer. We offered ourselves at Jesus’ altar on behalf of all who had been sacrificed on the altar of lust—an altar constructed by a culture of honor that neatly hides the violence of sexual sin committed against the most vulnerable.

I thought of Mary Magdalene from whom Jesus expelled seven demons. In His delivering Spirit, I called all who already had confessed their sins to renounce the demons that had empowered those sins. Like Jesus, we were taking authority over our own temples and casting out robbers who had desecrated our ‘homes.’ The Spirit, the blood, the water— gifts that confirm what Jesus has already done on our behalf —converged to renew us in the almighty tenderness of our God.

When He draws close, the demons tremble and we must act decisively. He is holy. Intimacy with the holy God requires that we refuse the idols around which demons congregate. We did just that. God came in power and cleansed us powerfully so He could dwell with us. We are His; virginal sons and daughters.

Like Mary Magdalene, we embody His witness. Jesus makes all things new!
‘What counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule.’
(Gal. 6: 15b, 16a)

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Falsifying-Hope

Falsifying Hope

‘There is no greater tragedy for man than the disillusionment he suffers when he has falsified his hope by placing it in something other than the Love that satisfies.’
St. Josemaria Escriva

We are setting up future generations for disillusionment. We are giving them false hope. Case in point: our national celebration of Bruce Jenner-in-drag as ‘athlete of the year’ at the ESPY awards and the smug assumption that we are now on the right side of history with ‘gay marriage’ in America.

The Supreme Court redefining marriage is founded on the wrong assumption that people are intrinsically, immutably homosexual, an ‘ethnos’ in its own right. We then conclude that the ‘gay’ pursuit of happiness must include the right to same-gender marriage, in the same breath that we champion freedom from racial discrimination.

That is a lie. Persons with same-sex attraction are not inherently ‘gay’ any more than are persons with heterosexual lust problems. Anyone facing disordered desires can change; ethnic status is immutable and inherently blessed, far removed from the moral implications of celebrating alternate sexual ‘selves.’

Could it be that persons with same-sex attraction are in conflict with their true ethnos–to be reconciled to their own gender in order to make peace with their need for the opposite gender? We do no-one any favor by holding out the hope that ‘gay’ marriage will resolve the conflict at the core of same-sex attraction. It falsifies the hope of happiness. We must dig deeper than superficial ethnic metaphors in order to probe why persons become ‘gay’ and how they can resolve their real conflicts.

On that fault line, we now embrace the right of persons to choose their own gender, a la Bruce Jenner. His hope now lies in creating a ‘female’ self through hormones and plastic surgery and designer gowns. I watched gap-mouthed as this deep-voiced 65-year-old man in a tight white dress received his ESPY award and cast a global vision of ‘self-acceptance’ for young people as equally conflicted in their gender identities as he is. In his words, ‘This award is about accepting people for who they are.’

Jenner is clueless about who he is and yet now seeks to guide thousands into becoming ‘who they are’. The blind lead the blind into bitter disillusion. ‘They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves to depravity’ (2P 2:9).

We only know who we are based on the One who made us and who with great compassion longs to redeem us from the catastrophic impact of sin upon our gender selves. For the sake of future generations, let us forsake all complicity with false hope. Let us seek with all our hearts to make Jesus known to vulnerable ones. He alone is trustworthy, the Hope who will not disappoint us.

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pope-spinning

Pope-Spinning

‘Papal Meeting with LGBT Activist in Paraguay’ headlined the news this weekend, a new low for media spinning of Pope Francis’ ‘gay-affirming’ tendencies.

The pontiff ended a profound and complicated tour of three nations in South America last week, which was reduced by some news outlets to the Pope’s ‘gay’ conversion.

Internet Headlines: ‘Pope Francis to Meet Gay Activist’, ‘Gay Activist Pleased with Papal Message’, ‘Historic Papal Meeting Changes Minds in Paraguay’, ‘Invitation Spurs Hope’, etc.

Facts: Unbeknownst to the Pope and Vatican, officials in Paraguay invited a ‘gay’ activist along with 2,600 other representatives of Paraguay’s civil society who had impacted the nation to listen to the Pope. The activist had no face-to-face encounter with Francis.

Incredulously, the US press hailed the event as groundbreaking for ‘gay’ Catholic rights. CNN and MSNBC must know something that the Pope does not.

The agenda-driven media skewed the essence of the Pope’s trip. Francis bypassed gender-bending for a prophetic focus on the poorest of the poor and the systems that perpetuate poverty. He broke bread with the indigenous people of Ecuador in their native language and sought forgiveness for sins of the historic church; he visited the most violent offenders in a Bolivian prison.

Pope Francis revealed Jesus’ heart to a continent in need of the One who sets captives free. That includes a Paraguayan with disordered desire who was granted the privilege of hearing Francis speak.

As we approach Francis’ first visit to the USA for the Synod on the Family in October, a gathering nearly framed as a ‘the Church and the homosexual,’ might we discern the spin and refuse to contribute to it? Only then can we listen from the heart and hear what God is saying to us.

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consoling_jesus_heart

Consoling Jesus’ Heart

‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.’ (Matt. 26:38)

‘Sorry God’ has been the gist of my prayer life lately. Since the ‘gay marriage’ ruling, I have found myself asking God’s forgiveness for breaking His heart.

We take what is holy and twist it in our image. God made us in His image, and chose marriage to reveal His heart for all persons. We break His heart when we mess with His revelation.

Many superficial Christians I know applauded last month’s ruling. That breaks His heart even more–persons who identify with Him but do not know His heart for marriage and for the homosexually vulnerable. He wants to gather the weak into His arms, not seal their conflict in a mockery of marriage.

So I try to keep watch with Him in His sorrow. I must wait for Him. My sorrow is small and must be subsumed by His. Yet in His wounds I am free. Our battle is not with mere humans but with dark powers that deceive and deride. Holy grief protects our hearts and wages war on such powers.

Grieving with Jesus also consoles His heart. Bonnie West said just that as many of us prayed together for Jesus’ heart in light of the marriage ruling.

Let us weep over our superficiality and sin and a nation now more vulnerable to both. Let our tears bring us close to His heart, as to comfort it.

After the ruling, my friend Wayne Keiger-Rice said his beautiful wife Carol could not stop crying on Jesus’ behalf. She found the immovable place; she consoles Him in a marvelous unity of broken hearts.

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magnificant-hope

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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