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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

AB 2943: Love Greater than Fear

California Assemblyman Evan Low’s decision to not send his bill for a final vote is a marvel of love, the love that casts out fear (1 JN 4:18).

Christians of all stripes came together gently, lovingly to uphold the truth of how we see reality: God made humanity in His image as male and female. We must be true to God our Creator and His will which frames LGBT+ reality as disorder; in the same breath, the faithful are true to our Redeemer who beholds all persons—including LGBT+ activists and politicians–with eyes of mercy and always invites the lonely into families where disordered ones can be loved into wholeness.

In every conversation and gathering, I had about 2943, Christians, especially the many pastors who took a stand, exhibited an unflinching heart of truth through the face of compassion. Down-to-earth, prayerful, and ethnically diverse saints endured with kindness the mockery of LGBT+ activists in order to ensure that their Christian consciences would not be outlawed by AB 2943. These are disciples who look out, not for themselves, but for the interests of Jesus Christ (Phil. 2: 21).

So Christians conveyed unchanging truth with deep compassion. That love overcame fear. Evan Low, a ‘gay’-identified politician, feared that these pastors were small-minded, autocratic moralists who wanted to close the horizon for LGBT+ persons. Courageous and just, he stood on trembling legs and listened to a number of these pastors who made a case for churches to have choice regarding sexual identification. Low heard them, and despite differing opinions, he realized that the Christian view was neither controlling nor manipulative. Freed from unfounded concerns, he concluded that AB 2943 was an inadequate bill.

Would you please pray for Evan Low in this season? He is under fire from his LGBT+ support base for withdrawing a bill that would have passed. He deserves our respect and our prayers.

Keep in mind that this marvel of love is not perfect. Low still wants to stop all clinical efforts to overcome gender identity issues, and I am concerned by the CA Christian leaders who threw their counseling friends under the bus by agreeing with Low on this point. Evan’s concerns will re-emerge in 2019 in another bill. We will be ready, conveying truth-in-love that casts out fear.

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Muddy Mercy

Things just got a whole lot messier for the Church. Archbishop Carlo Mario Vigano—the papal ambassador to the US from 2011-2016–alleges that he made Pope Francis aware of Cardinal McCarrick’s homosexual abuses in 2013; further, Vigano claims that the Pope failed to discipline McCarrick until five years later (he was forced to resign in June) in part due to their strong political alliance: McCarrick advocated for Francis’ election to the papacy and the pope relied upon him significantly to oversee the American Church. If these allegations are true, Pope Francis should step down immediately. This could be the defining moment for a Church that repents in action.

There’s much I love about Pope Francis, especially his action toward the poor and displaced. But his unclear pastoral directives toward persons facing same-sex attraction have always unsettled me. I perceive him as a man who has been evangelized by winsome practicing homosexuals and won over. His legacy to ‘not judge’ persons with same-sex attraction paired with his counsel ‘to accompany’ them on their journey appears to be to a road going nowhere. Mercy without truth ceases to be mercy at all; it merely confirms people in their fractured, fruitless lives. And it leads to tolerating absolutely vile and inexcusable behavior in leaders. Francis judged McCarrick way too late.

Vigano’s report broke the morning I preached to a beautiful congregation in the San Fernando Valley. Given how the Church of Los Angeles lives in the face of the LBGT+ dragon, I emphasized the Cross: Jesus’ self-giving which commands repentance of any sexual expression that raises itself above His Lordship. Mercy flowed as many came forward to weep before the Crucified, including Kim, a 13-year-old girl wrestling with same-sex attraction who wondered whether or not she was a ‘lesbian.’ We prayed for her as with all others, confident of Jesus’ capacity to reconcile her to His best for her.

That church is a clear and cohesive witness of how mercy and truth meet. In contrast, my Roman Catholic Church is a house divided, if Vigano’s letter has any merit. He points out how homosexuality figures large into the current scandal, as most cases of clerical abuse involve male teens, not tots. Vigano also describes how Pope Francis with McCarrick’s help appointed American bishops with a ‘gay-leaning’ sensibility.

All this in a Church that has at its center a robust, life-giving vision of human sexuality: St. John Paul ll’s ‘Theology of the Body’ and the extraordinary role that Pope played in the Catechism in which he defines chastity as integration—reconciliation to our bodies, our genders, and our freedom when surrendered to Christ to offer ourselves purely and well to one another.

Where chastity is mocked by divided churchmen who lead the sheep in darkness, we must reclaim this dynamic vision of human sexuality and seek to live it with all His strength. We can assume responsibility and act upon what our gracious God has taught us, in spite of dodgy shepherds.

As for the shepherds, may Jesus Himself raise His sword over all priests, bishops, cardinals and popes who desecrate God’s children through abuse, its cover-up, and the promotion of pagan LGBT+ liberties that enslave little ones. I am praying for many to submit to Christ and to resign in the wake of this recent shakedown, including Cardinal Wuerl who allegedly knew of McCarrick’s wickedness for years and did nothing.

Unfaithful shepherds have brought us low. They must go. For too long shepherds have waved the rainbow flag over the sheep rather than teaching them to raise the Cross—Christ Crucified and lifted high–as the only means through which we can be reconciled to God’s good will for our sexuality.

Kim deserves better. I shudder to think of her in the hands of a McCarrick or even the confusing counsel of Pope Francis. She needs pure mercy, free from the muddy waters flowing from the Vatican. So do all the Catholic faithful whose trust has been undermined by secrets and LGBT+ lies.

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2943 Withdrawn from CA Legislature! Long Live Freedom of Choice!

In an unexpected move, Assemblyman Evan Low withdrew his bill on the last day of its eligibility. Had it passed, Living Waters would have been outlawed in the state of California. The bill is now dead. Low engaged with many Christian leaders this summer and understood that the bill overreached its aim by treading on sacred ground. He acted with integrity and stopped the bill before it went to the governor who would have signed it. Thank you, Evan, for your humility and wisdom. Thank you Jesus for all the intercessors and witnesses You united throughout California to declare that Your way for our sexuality dignifies all persons who seek it.

More to come on this, but wanted to let you know this glorious news!

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For the Devoured

Shepherds who abuse sheep consume them; they devour their dignity, trust, and faith. Scripture makes this clear in Ezekiel 34 when God through the prophet rails against pastors who ‘eat the curds, clothe themselves with the wool, and slaughter the choice sheep’ (v. 3).

No better description of the impact of clerical abuse: demonized consumers-in-collars who gobble up the innocent and leave them with gaping wounds and parts missing.

Abusers usher their prey into ‘the day of clouds and darkness’ (v. 12) where they become ‘food for all the wild animals’ (v. 5). Anyone abused by predatory priests becomes vulnerable to a host of moral, spiritual, and relational compromises. Other predators smell blood and discern the disorientation of those weakened by abuse. No wonder that a disproportionate number of adults who identify as LGBT+ have experienced sexual abuse as children. And now resist the Church as a healing community.

We as Christians must take seriously how clerical abuse and its cover-up have fueled alternate communities that celebrate sins against chastity. Their exotic sins sprout from our toxic soil. Look at Ireland—once the pride of European Catholicism. The recent exposure of the Irish Church’s grotesque, long concealed abuses have scattered the sheep there and empowered them in the last two years to vote in a ‘gay’ prime minister, ‘gay’ marriage, and abortion rights.

Unless and until we confess and renounce our self-protection (rather than victim protection), we limit our authority to call sinners to repentance. How can we champion chastity when our shepherds eat sheep and we fail to rout them on behalf of the consumed?

Ezekiel nails decisive action toward the shepherds and their collaborators. To those who knew and minimized the devastation, the prophet rebukes: ‘Woe to those shepherds who only take care of themselves! Should not the shepherds take care of the flock?’ (v.2)

Shepherds at the highest levels of the Catholic hierarchy need to do just what Ezekiel declared: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says, ‘I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I WILL REMOVE THEM FROM TENDING TO MY FLOCK SO THAT THE SHEPHERDS CAN NO LONGER FEED THEMSELVES. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them’ “(v. 10).

The application is obvious. Starting at the top with Pope Francis, a sword needs to be wielded that severs from the Church all priests who abused any person sexually, as well as any overseer (cardinals, archbishops, bishops and so on) who knew that sheep were being consumed and looked away. The faithful should tolerate nothing less. The scattering of sheep and rise of wickedness in our land demand nothing less.

The devoured can only be restored when the Church acknowledges her complicity with predators. The abused cannot heal while disintegrated shepherds roam the Church undisciplined! Inaction speaks louder than sweet apologies; it minimizes victim suffering and sustains an unsafe environment for all. We need to let go decisively in order to take up our mandate to bind up the wounded.

Only then will Ezekiel’s promise of restoration for the devoured be fulfilled. As members of Good Shepherd Jesus, we shall “search for the lost and bring back the strays; we shall bind up the injured, shepherding the flock with justice…No longer will wild animals devour them; they will live in safety and no one will make them afraid…they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nation. ‘You my sheep, the sheep of My pasture, are people, and I am Your God’, declares the Sovereign Lord” (vs.16, 28-31).

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Seeds and Weeds

I heard the news in Ubon Thailand, during our first Living Waters Training there: 70 years of clerical abuse in Pennsylvania involving 300 priests, over 1000 of God’s beloved kids, and the Church’s systematic attempt to cover her tracks.

I knew the report was coming. Nothing prepped me for its magnitude. Jetlagged and restless at 2am, I read until I could not. In the gray light I recalled the night before when we as a delegation from 9 Asian nations renounced idolatry—our relentless self-preservation: we took a stand against constructing false religious personas that hid a multitude of sins. Beneath our robes, over half of us admitted that we as children had been sacrificed on the altars of adult perversion. Otherwise smiling Asians wept as Jesus washed us with His blood and water.

We gathered before the Cross where Divine Mercy met us in our misery. None of us are noble by human standards, most of us sinned grievously as we staggered into adulthood; all of us know now that Jesus considers us deep rich soil in which the Father of lights is supplanting seeds sown from the father of lies. Rooted in Him, we the weak are becoming strong, saplings destined to become oaks of justice. He is Jesus, after all. He acts as He wills with whom He wants. He chooses the least to shame those most inclined to preserve face and place.

I stammer to answer for churchmen who in decades past (today’s clergy is painfully aware of clerical abuse and mandated to root it out) sacrificed sons and daughters in the fire of lust (2K 17: 17, 31) then concealed their deaths. Predator priests and those who guard them are weeds that choke life and incur judgment. These are demon seeds sown among the good wheat of the Gospel. Jesus describes His Kingdom as nothing less–a harvest-to-be of righteousness challenged by deadly weeds. Jesus permits the mixture in preparation for the time that His angels ‘weed out of the Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil…’ (Matt. 13:41).

A Grand Jury report pales in contrast to the final judgment of the weeds and vindication of the trampled seeds. In the meantime, we must take seriously these gifts of judgment on God’s house and ask for them to be effective in crushing all vestiges of Christian idolatry.

More importantly, I urge you to invest liberally in sowing and tending to the good seed. And may we who have been crushed by sin and summoned by mercy know who we are! We are nothing less than ‘plantings of the Lord for the display of His splendor’ (IS 61:3), tiny seeds emerging into the tallest, strongest of trees that shall provide food, shelter, and healing for wounded ones (Matt. 13:31, 32).

Thank you my friends. As I fly home now from Ubon, I am reminded that your support of Desert Stream Ministries has sown seed and provided tools of growth for the saints in Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Korea, China, Singapore, the Philippines, and India. You free us for the fields. I praise God for you, His gift to the nations.

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