Category: Mercy and Healing

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
conversion therapy

Nature Rebels

Nature rebelled at our Living Waters Training in Malibu Canyon last week. Charred by the Woolsey Fire just months earlier, the land struggled to absorb five days of driving rain. A stream on the property became a flood as the 20 member team prepped for the arrival of 35 participants. Upon arriving late, I called Dean Greer who calmly informed me that the team had been ordered to evacuate; as he (and Wayne, bless you man!) led the caravan out through the emergency exit, mud slid from the hills and rocks crashed down around them.

On the home front, the rebellion of human nature escalated. A ‘gay married’ actress on television railed against ‘conversion therapy’ as the reason why a young black actor (also ‘gay-identified’) was roughed up by thugs in Chicago a few days earlier. Her theatrical charms overrode any semblance of logic and the audience blew out the studio with cheers and applause. Desert Stream Ministries was pelted by requests from various media sources to weigh in on ‘conversion therapy’ as I awaited Dean’s next phone call.

I was struck by the insanity of demonizing any person who seeks to be reconciled to one’s gendered self and become fruitful. I reread an excellent article by a doctor who pointed out how supporting another’s effort to ‘change’ gender is nothing short of abuse, rendering the person infertile, mutilated, and severely depressed. I responded to one newscaster inquiring about the dangers of ‘conversion therapy’ with this paragraph:

‘As ‘conversion therapy’ has no actual meaning except to scapegoat persons who choose to grow beyond ‘gay’ and ‘trans’ identification, we at Desert Stream Ministries advocate for any person who in light of same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria seeks to become an integrated member of his or her own gender and a good gift to the opposite gender. One should be free to secure clinical and spiritual support for these goals.’

Meanwhile, Dean and team arrived safely a nearby church and kicked into high gear to ensure a warm welcome for the participants, including delegates from England, New Zealand, Kenya, China and Columbia. Through it all, we waited, unsure where the sixty of us might go the next day. 16 hours later we received the go-ahead to return to the conference site. Nature’s whiplash was no match for heaven’s intervention.

Where rebellion abounds, grace prevails for those who look to the Lamb. We followed Him more nearly due to the trials at hand. In weakness, Jesus became stronger, clearer, closer than before. We were ready for His touch. He dwelled with us throughout the week, full of grace and truth. The nations marveled as we welcomed the Creator and Redeemer as the very foundation of our selves—our freedom to offer ourselves undividedly.

‘Conversion therapy’? Yes, Jesus converts us as we humble ourselves before Him and each other, awaiting His healing presence. He’s the only therapist worthy of our complete surrender. At the beginning of the week, I received a picture of a sword hanging over us—the threat of weather, slander, even legal action for daring to profess that Jesus transforms lives. By the week’s end I could see the sword had become a gleaming Cross, shining and spinning over us and the whole of creation. As nature rebels, God prevails.

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

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Holy Family?

I prepared myself for the worst last Sunday, the Feast of the Holy Family. I prophesied a dismal homily on the too-radiant-to-be-believed triad: you know, ‘be holy as Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are holy’, piercing neither the surface of family nor holiness.

Wrong on all counts. My pastor pointed out the disparity between our generosity to family members and to strangers. We write big checks to orphans then all but get restraining orders on family members who ‘trigger’ us. Overly sensitive to those we love so much we hate, many of us are anything but holy in how emotionally stingy we are toward family members.

It’s our nature to defend ourselves when loved ones frustrate us. Or take some disturbing turn that frightens us. Jesus stressed Mary out by ditching the clan for some temple time. It was the first sign of Him distancing Himself from her for reasons not yet clear. To be sure, the analogy breaks down with our families: confusing members are messianic only in their own darkened minds. Yet it can help to remember everyone has a subtext that only God ‘gets’ as well as a noble destiny we may have forgotten.

This holy week I had the privilege of responding to an emergency call from colleagues in marital crisis. That holy family nearly blew up as they walked onto a landmine of familiar suspicions and judgments. But they surrendered together to the Father who calmed the storm; holy peace helped them to hear each other so they could glimpse his or her goodness once more. Another couple met with us to seek wisdom on how to best love a son in the throes of an identity crisis. (It’s hard to love a 36-year-old acting 16.) But these parents are digging deep into the Father’s love for their child and his best. However painful, the only way is down– on one’s knees–where love and wisdom are distilled. Generous, tempered care for the other’s good can result from such prayer.

Mary shows us the way here. After her anxiety over Jesus’ disappearance, she does something we all can do—she ‘treasured these things in her heart’ (LK 2:51). That word for ‘treasure’ means to reflect, to conceive something new out of the brooding. It provides sacred space for entrusting the beloved to the Father who sees all (LK 2:51); it may also grant one inspired sight. You could say that Mary’s prayer transformed her fear into marvel. May such prayer make our families holy this year too; may we love our members wisely, generously, in 2019.

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

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Saved by Beauty 2

‘The joy of a saint is not to draw people to himself…but to cast his crown before God.’ Father Richard Veras

This fall I’ve faced the down-drag of affliction—my Church’s tendency to look good rather than to become good, and my mother who shattered her shoulder in August. In the face of her mortality (resilient and recovering 93-year-old that she is!), I uneasily check my own and am tempted by resignation rather than resurrection.

Jesus is faithful through His saints. During several trips to care for Mom, I attended morning Mass at a local parish. One day a week the priest presides expertly over a sanctuary teeming with elementary school kids while we adults vie for seats in back. A young father who I can only describe as radiant-in-holiness sat next to me and proceeded to boast about his first grade daughter and how he wanted to ‘live out’ the Mass for her. What? I saw him once again, warm and porous-in-love. Light broke my darkness.

A young Filipina woman reads the Old Testament passage and Psalm one day a week at the same Mass. When she does, her beauty and sanctity compel me to listen; I receive the Word freely. I asked her afterwards how she preps, and she responded that she prays to embody the Word for that moment—to step into the Word and become it. What? Something like joy welled up in me and overtook sadness.

I flew home late during my last visit in order to help Annette with the one day a week that she cares for both of our grandkids. Annette has made it clear—on that day, we both care for them. 6-month-old Camille lights up the world with her smile. Nothing like it. She sleeps, she feeds, she fusses, then boom: here comes the sun. One-year-old, Jacob is, well, perfect. My ‘strollering’ with him and our eldest labrador Joni is the highlight of the week. He clutches her leash in his fist; indigo eyes, full of wonder, take in the world around him as if it were Eden’s first day.

Through his eyes, I marvel again, and wait with renewed hope for the Day.

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

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Kingdom Fire and Foes

‘I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already blazing…Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, division’ (LK 12:49, 51).

As we proceed in our 40 days together, I am grateful for answered prayers.

The Bishops’ Youth Synod concluded with a 60-page text that roundly rejected the use of any LGBT+ language. On one hand, a victory.

On the other, the Church that stays true to her noble ethic must ignite sinners with an empowered Gospel—the witness of the living God who transforms them. Jesus wants to encounter us afresh with His declaration: ‘The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the good news!’ (MK 1:14). The Spirit invites us to marvel anew at this ‘new teaching, and with authority!’ (MK 1: 27), what St. Paul described unflinchingly as ‘the whole will of God’ (Acts 20:27). Do we still believe that Jesus is able to raise the disordered into lives of splendid chastity?

I urge us all to pray for the Spirit to consume our sound teaching, like fire blazing from hard wood.

Here we must name the barriers that prevent the pure fire of the Gospel from burning in our midst. In humility, we pray for:

Zero tolerance for any priest found guilty of manhandling children, and any bishop who covered for him. Here the state is helping us. The US federal government has undertaken an investigation of many dioceses, including one in Buffalo that is heart-rending in its allegation of a standing bishop who played ‘god’ in selecting which abusive priests under his charge could remain hidden and active. The Church that protects her honor and resources over the well-being of children invites demonic oppression.

Consistent discipline and clear channels of restoration for all priests and bishops who cross sexual lines with adults of either gender. These sinners mock chastity, abuse power, scatter the sheep, and throw a wet blanket on the fire of transformation. The sexual sin of leaders hinders those who aspire to authentic purity. Porn addiction and unchaste relationships (often in the form of weird emotional bonds) need to be faced squarely by leaders whose bishops also provide restorative care for them. Please pray that Living Waters might provide a safe place for clergy to resume the journey to chastity. Pray for almighty mercy to prevail over judgment in their lives. Today’s climate of abuse exposure makes it extra-hard for clergy to admit moral vulnerabilities, let alone outright failures.

Empowered, holy women to take their places in the Church. We cannot know the whole truth without feminine wisdom and discernment. The Synod called for a ‘courageous cultural conversion’ in the church regarding the female voice and vote. Let it be so, Lord. Becoming sexually whole is meaningless without women.

Bold and relevant witnesses of how to ‘live the truth in love’ (Eph. 4:15). We say we want to reach young people but with few exceptions (Christopher West’s Theology of the Body Institute being one) we have done a rotten job at translating our truth for new generations. The only way to break the formalism that besets most Catholics? Earthy witnesses of what Jesus can actually do: persons who articulate their messes and the splendid order acquired through confession, Eucharistic worship, and discovering chastity together. Jesus has power to make crooked lives pure and upright. Yet we rarely hear such voices. I’ve attended the second biggest parish in my city for nearly a decade, and have yet to hear such a witness. And this in an hour when God is exposing the Church’s sexually immoral secrets. Pray for us to expose boldly and well our lives of beautiful chastity!

Kingdom fire in the Church is our freedom. But her flame smolders—not blazes– due to abuse, sexual sin among clergy, and the absence of feminine wisdom and earthy witnesses in our midst. Pray for the Spirit to burn what is foul, rouse what is true, and ignite our blazing torch of salvation.

We are currently in a time of prayer and fasting. If you’d like to pray along with us, let us know and we can send you a book or you can get it through kindle here: https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Good-News-Andrew-Comiskey-ebook/dp/B07F95JKP5!

 

 

 

 

 

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Integration, not Segregation: The Answer to Our Prayers

We join together in prayer these next forty days, crying out for Jesus to become our one sure foundation. We pray especially for loved ones exploring alternative identities. Like us, Jesus invites each to submit his or her sexual longings to God’s ardent pursuit of us. That is integration: the alignment of our passion with His.

Jesus is already answering our prayers. At the onset of the Bishop’s Youth Synod in Rome, where pro-LGBT+ forces are seeking Church confirmation, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia declared this awesome truth about integration—the robust version of chastity that remains God’s call for His people:

‘What the Church holds to be true about human sexuality is not a stumbling block. It is the only real path to joy and wholeness. There is no such thing as an ‘LGBTQ Catholic’ or a ‘transgender Catholic’ or a ‘heterosexual Catholic,’ as if our sexual appetites defined who we are; as if these designations described discrete communities of differing but equal integrity within the real ecclesial community, the body of Christ. This has never been true in the life of the Church, and is not true now. It follows that ‘LGBTQ’ and similar language should not be used in Church documents, because using it suggests that these are real, autonomous groups, and the Church simply does not categorize people that way.’

Amen, brother. Chaput applies the Church’s moral teaching to combat corrupting forces that have marred a generation. Rather than band around and bless false selves, we invite all persons into the transforming love of Jesus, who establishes us on sure level ground. We go forward together. Integration, not segregation, must be our goal. United as members of one body under one Cross, we proceed toward the one goal of chastity.

That fills me with joy. I’ve a ways yet to go but I will get there with the help of Jesus and friends!

Our disordered starting points matter but are not all important. What matters most is that we drop labels like stones and simply immerse our bleeding souls (be they lustful or numb) in the waters of His mercy—His passion for us. Therein lays His power to transform us. Jesus remains blessedly simple, in spite of our complications. Thank You, beautiful Savior, for hearing our cries and answering.

We’ll be starting our prayer/ fasting time on October 10th for anyone who wants to join. If you’d like to pray along with us, let us know and we can send you a book or you can get it through kindle here: https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Good-News-Andrew-Comiskey-ebook/dp/B07F95JKP5!

 

 

 

 

 

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