Category: Mercy and Healing

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Surrounded 1: Chariots of Fire

It can be tough to burn with hope for some LGBT+ persons; allergic to chastity, alive to sensational new ‘sexualities’, they frame us as ‘haters’ and our fire dims.

As we prayerfully ‘Become Good News’ (starting Oct. 16th), it may help us to recall that God is igniting a global army of persons—each one divinely commissioned to do his or her part to liberate loved ones from enslaving ‘freedoms’. Like a station in a relay, every one of us can help a vulnerable pilgrim take the next step in discovering Jesus as the source of true liberty.

That helps me. Nearly overwhelmed by the gender fracturing in our day, I fret for lost ones and assume too much responsibility (and thus guilt) for their rescue. Recently I noticed a disoriented looking man after Mass who looked like he desperately needed to talk to someone about his divided life. I was happy to begin praying under my breath for him but failed to attend to him due to pressing issues that awaited me elsewhere.

Burdened by my omission, I confessed later to my pastor who wisely and simply said: ‘Andrew, do you not trust God to work throughout His Church to awaken a team of persons who will bring many strugglers into His freedom?’ He referred to the communion of the saints—a great cloud of witnesses in heaven and on earth who advocate for the saving of many lives, relentlessly. Some pray, others–in a variety of positions and relationships–launch out as answers to those prayers.

God assured me that day that there are many more for us in this ‘underground railroad’ than there are against us. I just needed to be reminded. We need Jesus to open the eyes of our hearts to behold what is going on in the Spirit, just as Elisha did for the poor man who went out to battle and could only see ‘an army of horses and chariots surrounding his city.’ Elisha said to him: ‘Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with the enemy… Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha’ (2 Kings 6: 15-17).

Open the eyes of our hearts to these chariots of fire–saints burning with simple, wise love for the lost–both in the unseen realms and in the unexpected partnerships God is forging here on earth.

I write this in route from Cordoba Argentina to Santiago Chile. My dear Argentine friends, Catholic, are digging a deep well of ‘living water’ in their university city and have prayed for creative ways to reach young LGBT+ persons. God united them with an old friend of theirs, an evangelical woman who runs a theatrical company in town; she sought them out for help in providing real answers for the young people she directs who are divided in their sexuality and seek a better way.

They are crying out for Jesus. He hears their cries and He is summoning you and me to pray and to act. We can do so urgently yet without strife, knowing that a global team is being assembled to set captives free, one station, one leg of the relay, one chariot igniting another’s, one at a time.

You can purchase “Becoming Good News” in book form directly from Desert Stream or get it from Amazon for your Kindle.

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

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Living Bread, for the World

Long before I centered on the Eucharist as the focus of worship—the real meal that Catholics celebrate–I understood this breaking of bread as how us saints can make known our brokenness to each other in fellowship. ‘Communion’ involves just that—gathering in community before the Crucified in order to place our wounded lives in His. Somehow, He takes the edge off our edginess and makes us better gifts for the world—a little more humble, clear, and merciful.

The meal we share isn’t an official sacrament but rather the common grace of the ‘one another’ that somehow gives us a share in Jesus’ words (Jn. 6:51): ‘I am the living bread that comes down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’

When we gathered in Philadelphia last week for a ‘Gender Matters’ conference, I wondered who would break bread with us. I don’t know many Catholics there (it was sponsored by the Diocese) and I’ve little marquee value. Praise God.

How surprised I was to discover a host of hungry, humble saints from that area who came together to ‘eat’ with us that day—to go further along the little way of offering our wounded lives to Jesus and each other so He can season and solidify us—at least enough for us to convert the world rather than be converted by it! My fear turned to faith as I met person after person whom Jesus had connected to us through one person who knew another person who knew another, etc.

This is the miracle of Jesus’ Church composed of His many members—little grains of wheat, each one, crushed in surrender to Jesus and releasing many seeds in the dying that bears much fruit (Jn. 12:24), especially when we gather in order to become ‘living bread’ together.

The miracle of many members—Archbishop Chaput blessed our gathering as he trusted my colleague Marco Casanova who just finished seminary there in Philadelphia. With Chaput’s go-ahead, Marco began to connect with friends in the area who loved Marco and wanted to know what he was up to. I had come often to Philly to be converted by Christopher West and company (their take of St. John Paul ll’s work is splendid) so he did his part to direct friends our way, including his parents and sister who are now charter members of our Living Waters family. At West’s Institute, I had met moral theologian and bioethicist Dr. John Haas who I respect more than almost any other, so I was incredulous when he agreed to open our meal with a word on the dignity of gendered humanity that blew everyone away.

Especially lovely was a table full of radiant nuns—aptly called the Sisters of Life—who were directed there by my best friends in New York City, Joe and Anne Nolte, who know all about me and love this work anyway! We were hosted in the parish of Monsignor Hans Brouwers who had started Courage in Philadelphia years earlier; his still vital, fatherly advocacy was healing for all of us. We love Courage and took heart in partaking of their pioneering efforts in Philly. Friends from Baltimore who love Courage and Encourage joined us too, as did some cool evangelical friends of Abbey from her Penn State days.

Many more to name, no more room. It is enough to say that Jesus is joining His members together to become a fragrant, nutritious loaf of ‘living bread.’ He is doing it! We need not fear; let us rather behold the Spirit as He unifies saints who together are turning outward to become the ‘real meal’ for a world that will choke on its own poisons until we become what we eat—the healing body of Christ, broken for the world.

Bless you all. Please join us for our forty-day-fast: ‘Becoming Good News’ for the lost and the least, beginning October 16th. More on this next week!

You can purchase “Becoming Good News” in book form directly from Desert Stream or get it from Amazon for your Kindle.

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

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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.’

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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