A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Rome Report 2: The Child is a Warrior

‘In today’s society, we grant adults any kind of sexual freedom they want and insist that children take whatever these adults are willing to give them.’ Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

In the center of Rome, we convened on October 2nd to fight for children—those most vulnerable to adults who now define ‘justice’ as the freedom to assume any sexual identity their feelings demand. The Church is caught between this new ‘justice’ and her own age-old version of human dignity as she convenes for the Synod of the Family throughout this month.

Cardinals, bishops and priests listened intently as our warring band taught and testified to an authentic appreciation of the human person who originates from God as male and female and who reveals Him in that beautiful duality. To describe how Jesus redeems persons who confess the brokenness of that image—well, we had to become like children. In tears and great joy, we marveled at the Father who transformed us from slaves to chaste sons and daughters.

Not surprisingly, our advance began on the feast day of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. She urges us to not get entangled in the traditions of men and their constant strife (a temptation in the heart of the Catholic hierarchy) but rather to surrender ourselves to the Father ‘who hides Himself from the wise and learned and reveals Himself to little children’ (LK 10:21).

Children need strong, tender fathers who clarify the path to purity and gender clarity. I marveled at Robert Cardinal Sarah from Africa who spoke the truth to us with such gentle authority that we straightened up, feeling at once challenged and protected. The wise words spoken throughout the conference by Fr. Paul Check, Director of Courage, were best distilled by my friend Alberto (coordinator of Courage Rome) who said: ‘Fr. Check extends the arm of the Church to guide us to chastity.’ What the Church asks of us, she helps us to realize.

Children need a mother. For that, the Father provides His Church and the beautiful witness of Mary, whose womb housed Jesus and whose wonder throughout His life invites us to marvel at His desire to dwell with us too. Popes and pot-scrubbers find level ground as the resting place of God. Encircled by Mary, each child can welcome Jesus and nourish the divine life maturing within. Our sorrow lies in our resisting His Presence; joy rises as we yield to His stirrings and enter the dance of life.

As a child, I rejoiced in my fellow strugglers in Rome whose good lives reveal the Father who fought for them and ‘Mother’ Church who enfolds them. We rejoiced together, the shame of our ‘gay’ lives eclipsed by Someone glorious, the Child Jesus who frees us to be both children and warriors.

We fight for the dignity of voiceless children everywhere who need clear markers to chastity, and wise guides to help them realize that wholeness. Pray for the Synod gathering now in Rome. May the witness of the Church liberate the children of God.

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Return to the Father: 40-Days of Prayer/Fasting for Lost Loved Ones

‘The mercy of God is not an abstract idea but a concrete reality through which He reveals His love as that of a mother or father, moved to the very depths out of love for their child.’ Pope Francis, The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

The dark powers that drive our ‘gay marriage’ culture have effectively skewed the meaning of justice, compassion and human dignity. More personally, we witness our loved ones caught in the undertow of these dark waters. Many of you now face painful relationships with persons you love due to a clash of moral values.

Good friends, sons and daughters, spouses, parents, entire faith communities are now ‘out and proud’; we grieve over an alien spirit that has overtaken them. We whose brokenness led us to cleave to Christ know that only He can liberate the conflicted heart.

But what can we do? We cannot make another’s moral or spiritual choice. But we can pray! Join us at Desert Stream Ministries for 40 days from Oct. 14-Nov. 22 as we cry out for mercy on behalf of lost loved ones. Just as nothing pierces our hearts more than their distress, nothing pierces God’s heart more. He longs for their return to His loving care more than we do.

Please download the PDF we are including in this entry. There is a small devotional for each of the 40 days; using this prayer guide, we on the DSM/LW staff will be praying in person every day at 3pm cst for a host of friends on the en route to Jesus and His Church. Would you join us? Just plug in the handful of friends you are most concerned about, and we will fight together for their wholeness in Christ.

As we deepen in prayer, we begin to see how He is converting us through others’ distress. Our sometimes shrill self-righteousness is giving way to a humble brokenness that invites mercy.

We would ask as you pray with us that you give up something of value during these days. As you go without, we ask that God would grant you the freedom to linger a bit in His presence. Let whatever ‘hunger’ you experience be a reminder of the greater need someone else has for your merciful prayers.

Click here to download the 40 Day Devotional PDF.

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Heading for Rome 1: Passion for a Chaste Bride

‘Always Go Forward, Never Turn Back’ (St. Junipero Serra)

This Wednesday I shall depart for Rome, site of the Roman Catholic Synod on the Family. On Friday Oct. 2nd, I have the privilege to speak (alongside others far more qualified than me) at a conference designed for synod leaders who shall deliberate on family matters, including homosexuality. The synod’s pastoral recommendations will not change church teaching but will influence its pastoral application for years to come.

Please pray for me! I am a seasoned minister but a new Catholic. During confession with my priest last week I admitted tearfully to intimidation (Catholics revere advanced education and in the west are deeply divided on the ‘gay’ issue). While in prayer, I saw an image of a child holding a small cross and joyfully declaring the gift, and virtue, of chastity. My priest then quoted the Gospel reading in which Jesus placed a child in the midst of the disciples and said: ‘Whoever receives one such child as this in My name receives Me’ (Mk 9: 37). Thank You Jesus; I go as I am, simple and on fire with the beauty of chastity.

Friends, may I enkindle that same fire in you? I am convinced that the goal of chastity is the best counsel we can embody and proclaim to all Christians. Though a Catholic term, it has dynamic meaning for all humanity, regardless of their sexual histories (LGBTQRSTUVW…). Simply put, chastity means sexual wholeness: ‘the successful integration of sexuality within the person’ which means human beings growing in the unity between who they are as spiritual beings and as persons with a gendered body and thus a direction for their sexuality (CCC2337).

Such ‘successful integration’ is a lifelong adventure with God and our fellow humanity. Cross-in-hand, let us discover together the beauty of what it means to be beloved sons and daughters of one Father, and good gifts as men and women for each other. Chastity necessitates self-control so that our offering is clean and clear for our fellows; progressively chaste witnesses have power to mirror to one another the awesome gifts we are without clouding the image with robbers like fear, porn, lust, and seduction.

I love chastity! My whole being is aligned with Jesus who made me and who is reclaiming the good gift of my masculine humanity. I cooperate whole-heartedly with His rhythms because I love the fruit of chastity, which is the freedom to love others generously, not confusedly.

As I proceed to Rome, I am cheered on by the saints, and in particular, the first saint canonized on American soil, St. Junipero Serra. (Pope Francis made this ‘Apostle of California’ a saint last Wednesday in Washington DC.) Growing up amid the California missions, I followed St. Junipero’s footsteps up the El Camino Real from San Diego to San Francisco, and marveled at this 5’ 2” missionary. He left Spain in the middle of the 18th century to Mexico City then travelled hundreds of miles by foot and donkey with an ulcerated leg to what is now California. There he lifted high the Cross in a series of still intact missions; with tender care and much suffering, he introduced Christianity to the first Californians.

His suffered as Spanish soldiers and other opportunists abused his beloved native peoples. I have done mush reading on this subject and am amazed at the herculean efforts St. Junipero exerted to protect the first Christians of California. He helped reclaim their dignity then fought to stave off the cancerous side effects of Spanish colonization.

I love him. I honor him. I am proud to be a California signed by the very Cross he planted on the soil of my birth. May I honor his witness as I go to Rome.

‘Our clear duty is to conform ourselves in all things to doing the will of God, and to prepare to die well. That is what counts; nothing else matters. If this is secured, it matters little if we lose the rest; without this, all else is useless.’

St. Junipero Serra

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Men with Chests, Part 2

‘We remove the organ and deny the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise.’ C.S. Lewis

‘And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.’ LK 1:17

John took a deep breath when he read Tim’s (his teen son) virtual correspondence with a ‘boyfriend’ on the west coast. Any concern about his son’s sexuality was starkly realized in that moment. Rather than shrink back, John knew he had to act. But how? Never close with his dad, Tim at 15 seemed further away than ever.

Yet the two shared more common ground than was apparent. Father and son loved Jesus, father and son shared some relational brokenness: John from sexual abuse, Tim from a neglectful father. In truth, both wanted more from each other and did not know how to bridge the gap.

As father, John knew he had to act first. Provoked by Tim’s ‘gay’ explorations, John knew that he had to draw near to his son while he still had a window of opportunity.  He began by expressing loving concern for his son. Tim at 15 was not a ‘gay man’; he was a boy experiencing same-sex desire and acting upon it in a popular, destructive way. Unless he confirmed Tim as a man, John knew that his son could be lost to the confirmation of the ‘gay self’ and ‘culture.’

And the Holy Spirit was at work in Tim. When he looked over all the pictures he had taken of himself and his new ‘gay’ comrades in California, Tim observed that he was becoming a different person. His ‘look’ was imbued with an alien attitude. He did not like it; somehow he knew that the ‘gay’ sensibility was at odds with his faith and who he in truth wanted to become.

John began to envision his son with new options he might explore to become that man. In the same breath that John asked Tim to break off relationship with his new ‘friend,’ the father invited his son discover these options. Together.  That included getting help for their wounded relationship, church activities, even a mission trip in which they faced beauty and hardship as father and son.

A boy becoming a man also needs space and grace to work out his decisions apart from his parents. Tim drew strength and confidence from some good pastoral help designed for him and his needs.

I had the privilege of seeing Tim and John the other day; I witnessed a strong alliance between father and son. John is actively raising the boy he sired, and Tim is exhibiting a new solidity as the young man he is becoming.

God is turning fathers toward their sons, and sons back to their fathers. He is giving men back their ‘chests’: dignity and confidence in the strength the Father entrusts to His sons.

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Men with Chests, Part 1

‘We remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise.’ C.S. Lewis

‘And he will turn the hearts of their fathers to their children’ (LK 1:17).

A man sexually violated John at 9-years-old. From then on, he hated ‘gay’ men (the unhealed do not distinguish between pedophiles and persons with SSA).

John’s disdain grew as ‘gays’ waged and seemed to win the war on normalizing homosexuality in the culture. Until his church’s men’s retreat last summer. A friend of John invited two broken guys in a ‘gay’ union to the retreat. It seems their relationship was in ruins and they were calling out for God’s mercy. Over the course of the retreat, the Father made His love known to both men through the love of the guys there.

John loved Jesus more than he hated ‘gays.’ When he heard the witness of these two men who had suffered much in their lives but were now experiencing the saving mercy of God, John began to soften: mercy primed him to give mercy to these men. As he did so, he could see the underlying stronghold of hatred in his heart from the abuse. God began a work of restoring John from the deep wound of sexual abuse, a healing that continues to this day.

John’s repentance and healing was timely. His only son Tim suffered from a distant relationship with his Dad. A focused and successful businessman, John had little time for his only son who at 15-years-old was showing signs of gender brokenness. The older Tim got, the more he needed his Dad and the less he liked him. Tim sought solace in his mother who could see her son’s need for masculine empowerment but could not give it to him.

The same summer of the men’s retreat, Tim attended an academic camp at a west coast university. There Tim ‘came out’ with the help of a guy further along in his ‘gay’ identification. Tim’s sexual bond with him also sealed what he believed to be his ‘true self’ as a ‘gay’ person. He arrived home days after his father’s retreat; a few days later, his parents found evidence of Tim’s ‘gay’ life on his cell phone. Primed with mercy, John began to fight for the dignity of his son. More next week.

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