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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

For the Most Vulnerable

Much is made today about the fragile state of LGBTers who need protection from ‘conversion therapists’, a slam-em-all term for anyone who believes that gender integration is possible. (Download ‘Power to Change’ newsletter here.)

The logic is simple and skewed. Persons cannot change and any effort to change will result in early death by suicide. That is the express idea that drives Councilman Evan Low’s new resolution—ACR 99–sailing through the California legislature as you read this. Cease and desist from any effort to live in harmony with your body and that of the complementary gender! It will kill you!

New solutions for the gender disintegrated rule the day and are no longer contested. Every politician seeking election, every actor seeking a part, every academic seeking tenure must bow the knee to ‘gay marriage’ and gender reassignment and persons who just can’t decide who ‘they’ are, gender-wise.

Even conservative shepherds mumble on the issue for fear of scattering touchy sheep. A pastor under the influence of leadthemhome.org. looked horrified at a mother who said that she was praying for her ‘gay’ son’s full restoration. His slightly sneering take: ‘So you think you can change him?’

The most vulnerable? Not LGBTers. They are celebrated at every turn. ‘Love’ now defends any gender configuration one desires. And slams anyone who disagrees as a ‘hater.’

The most vulnerable today are persons who love Jesus Christ and who live in an aching awareness of the law inscribed on their hearts (Rom. 2:15), a truth that compels them to forego any identification except what it means to be made male and female, sons or daughters of the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

These are the most vulnerable, now labelled as victims of ‘conversionists’ or victimizers in their support of likeminded ones.

As ‘Pride’ month concludes, pray for the most vulnerable, those whose sole boast is Jesus in light of a weakness celebrated by the LGBT+ strong.

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

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Pentecost and ‘Pride’

I love the fire of Pentecost—the coming of the Holy Spirit in power: exposing idols, commanding allegiance to one Father through the Son, raising up sons and daughters who will endure. One thing is sure amid ‘Pride’ month—we will burn like torches for chastity and gender clarity amid the fake fires raging around us. Our prayer at DSM this month as we go through many doors to effective ministry: ‘consume the sacrifice of our lives, O God.’ We draw upon Elijah who in the Spirit’s power gave all to expose the folly of Baal’s prophets in light of the ‘God who answers by fire’ (1 K 18:24).

Last weekend in nearby St. Louis, ‘Revoice’ held its second annual conference, gathering to extol the virtue of being ‘gay’ and Christian. Brainy millennials love this stuff—literate gender benders who have a form of faith but deny His power to transform them at core. Instead, the whole thing has a kind of whiny white narcissism—‘no-one knows the trouble I’ve seen’–in contrast to the stern and splendid task of actual conversion of gender identity and disordered desire. If Jesus did not die to reclaim for us the powers of life and love from our captivity to the Baals, then I do not understand Calvary. I don’t think ‘Revoice’ does either, if workshops like ‘Coming Out as a Gay Pastor’ and ‘Queer Culture’ are any indication.

Sadly, even the elect are drinking the cool-aid. Sexpert Dr. Mark Yarhouse for whom I did have the utmost respect keynoted at Revoice and later extolled his advocacy for this group ‘coming to terms with enduring same-sex sexuality’ (aka no change possible); in truth, Yarhouse now frames homosexuality as a condition worthy of one’s adult identification—‘not a problem to be fixed but a people to love and learn from.’ A people? Is disordered identification now the basis for a ‘people group’ in the eyes of progressive evangelicals? We understand secular culture not ‘getting’ God’s take on true personhood—that’s why teachers and therapists are so intent on enslaving kids with perverse ‘adult’ labels. For Christians to do so is diabolical, dangerous to kids and to the integrity of our faith.

Catholics are guided by a marvelous Catechism which details sexual purpose through the virtue of chastity—becoming integrated, whole. That would appear to safeguard the Church from falsehood. (Cheers to the recent Vatican document on gender, which is founded wholly on the inherent complementarity of men and women). Yet the battle for clarity on homosexuality has never been more intense in Rome. One gets the impression that Pope Francis is surrounded by warring factions, some who fight for truth in the sexual arena but tend to do so with a heavy hand that is toxic to the Pope; more comforting to him appear to be ‘progressives’ like the now disgraced Theodore McCarrick and the ascending Fr. James Martin who alongside ‘compassionate’ friends is making every effort to alter the Catechism to reframe gender-bending as a morally neutral human variant, not a disorder to be redeemed. Wickedness in high places. Pray for Pope Francis. A battle rages in Rome for what it means to be human, made in God’s image. As for evangelicals, this is a war for the integrity of our faith. You cannot alter how God designed us and not undercut orthodoxy.

So we burn. Not with hate but with zeal for His house. If we the Church alter the goal posts due to love for winsome, disordered, and deceived players, we all lose. We win when we the broken—humbled and consumed by holy fire–arise to tell the truth of how His mercy has set us free. Is setting us free. Our ever-increasing chastity frees us to break out of every little box people place us in. We are healed and being healed, saved and becoming saved. We look to the God who answers us with the fire of love and life and who frees us to gather others who have not bent the knee to Baal (1 K 19:18). No other way to live. Pentecost frees us from intimidation, for holy confidence, amid the din of ‘Pride.’

Please pray for the annual Restored Hope Network Conference in the Twin Cities from June 20-22nd, for our Living Waters Trainings in Warsaw, Poland June 22-28th and in Kansas City July 6-12th, and the International Courage Conference in Chicago, July 18-21st. Registrations still open for all!

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

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Glorious Absence

‘I tell you the truth: it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go I will send Him to you…When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth’ (JN 16: 7, 13).

Jesus must decrease in order for the Spirit to increase. Certainly, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Son—no competition there! But Jesus chooses to forego His bodily presence with us in order to endow us with His living, unseen presence–the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit at work in us, Jesus claims that He will accomplish bigger and better things than His own rather impressive ministry on earth.

‘I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My Name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask Me for anything in My Name and I will do it’ (JN 14: 12-14). Ascension reminds us: Jesus must leave earth in order to make us great. Glory overcomes grief, the pain of change, when we submit our losses to the Spirit who overtakes us and empowers us to do what we would not do in the presence of the more powerful one.

Jesus is our model; the servant is not greater than his master. And every servant of His must forego the tendency to so deify our leaders that we fail to see how Jesus is calling us to become more—to do what He chooses to do through us in the absence of the one to whom we may tend to defer on the basis that (s)he has power we do not. Pentecost levels that ground. The Spirit is an equal opportunity employer.

Pentecost reminds us that He wants to do mighty things through us. And however mighty and vital each of us is to His Kingdom come on earth, Pentecost insists that we not congratulate ourselves too much. Our bodily presence will fade out too; mortality reminds us that we are expendable and must always quicken others, especially younger ones, to take their places on the team.

Monique, Claude, Andrew, Charlotte & Werner.

I just returned from France where one of my best friends and colleagues—Werner Loerschter–just handed off nearly 25 years of leadership of Living Waters in that country. What a guy! What fruit! All things considered, France has represented our work better than any other nation, significantly due to Werner and his wife Charlotte’s leadership. In the Spirit of Ascension and Pentecost, they labored for over five years to identify and disciple a younger couple to take over the work.

Last weekend in Lyon France, together with Living Waters leaders from around the French-speaking world, I had the privilege of presiding over this handover. It was glorious. And not without a little grief. I love this couple more deeply than I can express, know the new couple only slightly, and feel the loss of a season rich with the splendor of the kingdom. Yet I know that my friends must decrease in order for the Spirit in their land to increase; new wells must be dug by new people in new ways. Humbling. Hard. Splendid: the rhythm of the Kingdom.

Next year will be the 40-year anniversary of Desert Stream Ministries—40 years of me at the helm. Lord, have mercy. In Werner and Charlotte’s noble reflection, I catch a glimpse of my own mortality and pray for clarity as to who will receive the baton from me. Pray for me to face this Pentecost bravely, with expectancy. May none of us grip what God has entrusted to us so tightly that we fail to release others into their full measures. May we welcome the eclipse of our labors by Jesus’ glorious presence in those who follow us. Bon courage!

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

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Generous, Jealous Love

‘Do not give in to the feelings of guilt that assail you because you are not living up to the ideal you have set for yourself. I do not ask you to be faithful to an ideal. I ask you only to be My friend and to live at very moment in the grace of My divine friendship.’ In Sinu Jesu

Aging isn’t making me better. I naturally feel more outrage and less mercy for the moral atrocities that surround me. And that proliferate every June, LGBT+ Pride Month. Some are silly, like the ad I received from my airline: ‘All routes lead to love at United: Follow your heart and travel to Pride—grab a seat for a special drag queen bottomless brunch’ with United employees after ‘gay’ parading throughout its big city hubs. More serious is this year’s federal Equality Act which sailed through the House of Reps in route to the Senate and basically overhauls our federal civil rights framework by making female impersonators and the like a protected ‘class’ on par with immutable, involuntary characteristics like birth gender, age, and race.

All of these faux justices invoke love as their driving force. But doesn’t love have to answer to reality, namely the truth of who and what persons are? Love must answer this question: am I authentically seeking another’s good? If I am, then I cannot deny another’s human design and the Designer who made him or her in His image and who chose to reveal something of Himself in that person’s male or female personhood. If I agree with another’s misbegotten identification, I am actually not loving him or her well at all, but rather confirming a falsehood. I agree to deface that one, even if that one hates my disagreement with him or her.

God is love; His loving gaze is ever true. But frankly, my sight is becoming a squint. I can seek another’s good very badly. So I have been spending some time in the book of James repenting unto God’s heart for those He loves who have been hoodwinked by one of the greatest delusions of our day. As I sought Him, I came across this verse that I had never quite seen before: ‘Or do you think that the Scripture says without reason that the Spirit He caused to live in us longs jealously for us?’ (James 4:5).

What? You long for me, O God? You are actually intensely jealous for me to just be still and welcome Your love? Is that the longing of Your heart, a divine ache that can only be satisfied by me opening my heart to You, best I can? All You want of me is to be loved by You? All of the sudden I realized that I didn’t have to pray wearily for the right attitude or words or ‘feelings’ of love for LGBT+ friends. Rather, I needed to race into the merciful heart of Jesus and just be loved. There alone is generous love, a love aimed at the very depths of me. So I have been positioning myself before this Jesus who overflows with love for me.

Only divine love can fill the gaps into which truth has sunk. It will rise again as Mercy refills my foundations.

Truth must arise. Pride Month provokes it. May our authentic vision and love for the fractured flow out of intimate communion with the God who made us and who longs to convert us. He does so by joining us to Himself in an achingly tender bond of love, through ‘the Spirit that longs jealously for us’. May we seek out others with a similar tenderness that aches only for their good.

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

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Fruit of Scandal

‘For you became sorrowful as God intended…Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done’ (2 Cor. 7: 9-11).

Like you, I strain to see good come from Church-mishandling of abuse. And I’m not sure if mandates from the top down—even decisive, far-reaching ones—will satisfy. We must pray, bearing with her exposure; we who wait expectantly will be doubly blessed when we behold beauty emerging from the broken ground. I am doubly blessed as I write this. During a trip to a state where the Church has been rocked by criminal investigations, I began to see life signs.

First, the abuse scandal has prompted a renewed commitment to healthy communion among priests. I was privileged to attend a chastity group run by a priest for priests. A handful of men have forged deep bonds through their differing vulnerabilities—same-sex attraction, porn temptations, inclinations to unchaste relations. These brave men are equally diverse in their stations in life. Some are young and newly-ordained, others at midpoint, still others retired. All led out humbly with their frailties and have forged a fraternity of mercy and accountability that is glorious, free of competition and drab shoptalk (aka grumbling). Authentic, attuned care prevailed.

I witnessed the fruit of their communion, as I had met most of them a couple years earlier. This round they were more focused, more earnest to ensure that their weaknesses become holy strengths; instead of isolating in fear, these men are learning to connect with humble courage.

Second, I had the honor of meeting Paul, the Dean of Students at a large seminary in that state. He is extraordinary—open, humble, holy. And grateful that the seminary is flourishing, with this year’s class being the largest one in twenty years. Amid the scandal, solid young men are being summoned by God to become a new standard of integrity.

Paul and his team have a lot to do with that. Among the main priorities of the seminary is cultivating a culture of transparency. Mentors are activating the students themselves to set up a variety of small groups in which peers provoke one another to holy self-giving. I asked Paul if a ‘gay-identified’ student could make it in the seminary. ‘His brothers would never let him get away with it. He would have to lose the ‘gay’ rap and get on track towards integration like everyone else.’ Awesome.

Paul continued: ‘We work especially hard to discern the emotional maturity of students, to ascertain that they are growing in their capacity to form healthy relationships with both men and women. They need to wrestle with what it means to make a fruitful commitment to celibacy. That may mean taking a break from the seminary in order to figure out what they really want. Seminary should be a place where people come and go. We pray that some will return, better able to say ‘yes’ to God in a healthy, fruitful way that will endure.’

What Paul emphasized was that seminary is not just about individuals discerning a lifetime commitment to the Church but also the Church discerning a lifetime commitment to them.

For the first time, I witnessed the fruit of scandal. From the fire of abuse, a repentant Church is emerging. She is at once sorrowful for her sin and zealous to glorify Jesus, each member doing its part to become one chaste bride.

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

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