Category: Mercy and Healing

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Abuse and Authority

The Church’s authority to restore sexually broken people with the power that raised Jesus from the dead hinges on her repenting from abusing the most vulnerable.

I just returned from what has become one of my favorite nations—Poland. Theologically, St. John Paul ll paved the way for my conversion and St. Faustina permeated his take on gendered humanity with Almighty Mercy. These two Polish patrons ushered me into relationship with perhaps the finest Christians I known in the Living Waters world. Our third training there clarified the import of the Catholic Church to Poland. Hammered on all sides by cruel foes, the nation has looked to the Church as a bulwark against indignities that span centuries.

She now faces new challenges. Outside Church walls, LGBT+ activists bang on her doors with accusations that she is unloving and irrelevant; inside her walls, adult children of abuse are now claiming that her ‘fathers’ corrupted them and must be stopped if the Church is to be faithful to Jesus. Both challenges were palpable at our gathering; I saw both ugly defensiveness and beautiful repentance.

The threat to Poland of a ‘gay’ agenda fired up a rigid traditionalism in some participants. A few expressed contempt for anyone ‘homosexual’, not knowing that they were surrounded by ‘them’ in their small group. Mercy melted machismo as these ‘super’-Catholics realized that their training peers had no political agenda other than repenting unto chastity. All found level ground at the Cross: one people under one Merciful Source. Hardened hearts softened, calloused hands dropped stones. Instead of adopting a Noah’s Ark attitude—close the door and let the wicked drown—repentant ex-abusers committed to becoming Jesus’ hands for all persons.

Add to the mix very recent clerical abuse allegations in Poland. Under this now familiar shadow, LW training participants were troubled, confused, and incredulous. Some coped by denying the charges, claiming anti-Church conspiracies of varying kinds. I would not have it. For every one brave soul who dares to break tradition by confessing how a cleric broke his or her body, there are a hundred more. In a flash I saw clearly how prideful denial of the Church’s capacity to violate the most vulnerable is the essential tool God gives His enemy to fetter the Church’s capacity to heal sexually fractured persons. No confession from the top, no splendor of the Kingdom for the broken below.

So we repented. I veered off my teaching and we as a group wept at the damage: real people, faithful sons and daughter of the Father, picked off by demonized fathers. This spirit of repentance longs to rest on us until every secret is exposed. I contend we must bear that spirit prayerfully until we see Him face-to-face.

Yes we repented, and yes we must seek a posture of repentance. After a while, I felt led to ask all persons sexually abused as children to come forward (if they so desired) in order to receive prayer. I discerned that God was pleased by our posture, as I could smell the fragrance of healing. A dozen came forward, including two priests. In an unprecedented way, the Holy Spirit permeated these brave souls with a dense mist of grace, flooring many. People could not get up for around 15 minutes. I did nothing but watch while others prayed. When the glory lifted, relief and joy and lightness overtook the receivers. The Kingdom came. God gave tomorrow’s blessing that day. He healed the broken-hearted.

‘Restore our authority to heal, O God. Let not prideful self-protection get in the way of Your-Kingdom-come for the abused, persons most in need of Your touch.’

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Restoring the Spire

Our gendered humanity—submitted to one another in reverence to Christ (Eph. 5:21)—points beyond itself. It reveals the One who made us to co-create in His image. I glimpsed something divine yesterday in a lovely young couple wheeling a newborn: he proud and protective of his bride, she doting over their new creation. The power and tenderness of ordered humanity cries out: ‘Holy is the Lord!’

On a recent visit to Paris, African Cardinal Robert Sarah likened the torched spire at Notre Dame Cathedral—created like a divine finger to point all upward to God–as a prophetic sign of how we as a Church have failed to direct the world heavenward. Have we forgotten that we in our gendered humanity are called to be that spire? It cuts both ways: we can dignify the other’s existence and magnify Him; we can demonize the other and deflect His glory.

Sarah cites ‘gender ideology’—a refusal to accept one’s nature from God—as a sign of this incendiary spire. He views LGBT+ reality as ‘trans-humanity’, an ‘avatar’ that results from refusing the God who made us. To cast off the call to reconcile with one’s male or female being is to cast off God, to burn with a strange fire that shrouds His witness on the earth.

Agreed. But what comes first? The fallout from male-female hostility or a host of exotic gender fractures? I say the former. We cannot with any integrity or authority call obvious sinners to repentance when we tolerate a host of traditional sins, namely misogyny—the dishonor of women in all of its diverse forms. Simply put, cruel and unusual treatment of the more vulnerable gender is the fuel that drives gender-bending.

I too recently visited France where we held a conference on gender reconciliation in Orleans. It was wonderful, starting with an early morning run where I inadvertently followed the path taken by St. Jean D’Arc who as a teenager obeyed the voice of God and led French troops to rout the English in the 15th century. What a girl.

Her courage reminded me of the women at our conference. One had been sexually abused by her father, another abandoned as a bride by a religiously-unhinged husband. Another woman, an exquisite artist who shared her gifts with us, realized that she had been poisoned by her father’s ongoing adultery and expressed contempt for women. She saw her self-contempt for the first time as a quiet agreement with his sin.

Jesus gave me His heart for these women and reminded me of my subtle misogyny—my wound of corruption–pornography, self-justifying arrogance, my flimsy efforts to put women’s needs ahead of my own, starting with Annette. I was seized with my sin and could repent to the women honestly, as did a young French pastor. Jesus loosed a healing flood for these remarkable women. The mercy levels rose quickly as we men repented, granting Jesus freedom to dissolve strongholds of misogyny in the women.

Jean D’Arc blazed a trail for victory in Orleans. As ‘her weakness was turned to strength and she became powerful in battle, routing foreign armies’ (Heb. 11:34), so we followed Jesus who led us to do our part to restore the spire of holy relating. We rejoiced together in the good gifts Jesus is reclaiming in our gendered humanity.

As we are faithful to repent for any way we have stoked that torched spire, we help restore that spire. May Notre Dame provoke us to become glorious signposts of the One who made us to honor Him in how we love each other.

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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.

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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!

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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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