Category: Prayer

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Collateral Damage

We as a staff opened our ministry year in prayer; Annette received a word about ‘collateral damage’, the fall-out from battle—war’s unintended impact upon others. ‘Jesus has won, the enemy knows it, so he is doing everything in his power to wreak havoc, especially in the area of human sexuality.’ I bore witness as I considered how Jesus is returning for a spotless bride, thus the enemy’s rage against all who aspire to chastity or support those who do.

Hours later I began to receive news reports from a distant colleague of mine who had come out as ‘gay’ to as many media outlets as would amplify his sleazy return to same-gender dating after claiming to have been an upstanding father and husband and an utterly significant leader of ‘conversion therapy.’ His positive significance escapes me. I refuse to mention his name as his besetting problem is narcissism, not same-sex attraction; I consider it unwise to feed the monster by giving him any more media attention.

Only in America do we give a man without much substance a platform to lead others onto ‘wholeness’ when his only ‘gift’ appears to have been a string of progressively confusing selfies—strange stream-of-consciousness commentaries posted online as quickly as he could jabber about his unraveling life. His service may well have been called ‘Me Ministries.’ The train wreck was inevitable.

If I am correct that he inflated his former contribution to Kingdom of Light, I am sure that his ‘repentance’ to the dark side will do significant collateral damage. The enemy seduces the wounded and will amplifies their rantings to further his rage against wholeness. So now our former brother apologizes for the ‘thousands’ (?!) he misled and throws down the gauntlet by insisting that he will stomp out all forms of ‘conversion therapy.’ Believe me, this man never used that language when he was in ministry. How convenient that he is now revising history in order to mouth anything that the LGBT juggernaut wants him to say.

And he will keep jabbering as long as journalists ask questions (this guy just made Time magazine, a dream come true!); uninformed people will listen and wag their tongues about coercive ‘conversionists.’ First line of damage? The dismal lack of truth in the greater culture, especially online, will grow that much darker through his ‘witness.’ This damages us all. He will reinforce the popular view that any and all efforts for persons with gender identity problems to become who God made them to be is impossible. Lord have mercy.

Second line of damage: the young people who looked to this man to help them find the narrow way. He now leads them to perdition. For the focused overcomer, apostasy sharpens the truth. Those just resuming the road to chastity may well be seduced off the path by this disturbing witness. ‘For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom while they themselves are slaves to depravity…’ (2 Peter 2:18, 19a). Lord have mercy on the little ones he stumbles.

Those little ones include two children he fathered and a beautiful wife now subject to a ‘gay’-identified and dating husband. That is the third and worst collateral damage—the poisoning of those who need him most. In the battle for chastity, the enemy burns without mercy for loved ones of the fallen. Annette did not know how prophetic her words about collateral damage were, and how sharp they would be for her as she considered this man’s family. Like his wife, my wife is subject to a husband who is weak and yet strong in Jesus. When one similarly vulnerable takes his eyes off the Savior and fuses with the world, the fire singes family first and most. Please pray for her and their two children. Lord have mercy.

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

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Ecstasy

The Crucified rallied the nations last week in Kansas City; under the flood of His Divine Mercy, we wept for joy. Ecstasy. No better way to describe the 80 Living Waters leaders who gathered around His self-giving in order to offer themselves better to others.

Jesus gift to us at Calvary is accurately defined as ‘ecstatic’: its Greek root means ‘to come out of oneself.’ Jesus’ dying released a river of blood and water. His life source left Him and became the source of our lives, the transforming power that renders us new creatures. Together, His ecstatic gift unites us as one Body. On the cross, Jesus made us His bride. You could say He consummated that union for us through the ecstatic love that crescendo-ed at Calvary.

God reminded us of that consummation on last week’s Feast of St. Augustine, who wrote: ‘This second Adam [Jesus] bowed His head and fell asleep on the cross, that a spouse might be formed for Him from that which flowed from the sleeper’s side…What can be purer than such blood? What more health giving than such a wound?’

We needed healing from His ecstatic wound, cleansing and repair for our wounds. Many tribes and tongues came together—a variety of ages, cultural traditions, economic and educational backgrounds. Most obvious was the divide between Protestants and Catholics. Many of our leaders from fiercely Catholics nations barely know any Protestants; and the vast range of the latter—from Anglicans to Pentecostals–have an equally diverse range of opinions on Catholics!

Our wounds are a great leveler. One priest among us shared with dignity his sexual abuse by an early mentor; he welcomed an ecstatic outpouring from evangelicals who loved him well through a variety of spiritual gifts. Humbly offering our wounds to Jesus via His members invites a rich exchange of ecstatic love that dissolves some of our corporate divides. Ecstasy.

Personally, each of us brought our sins against chastity—as diverse as our Christian traditions. We are united in the conviction that the second Adam always points us back to the first Adam ((Matt. 19: 4-6); at the same time, Jesus points us forward to the glorious redemption of our bodies, radiant in full consummation with our Bridegroom. We live now ‘in-between’ the times: although certain of design–the ecstatic complementary gifts that God fashioned from Adam’s rib—we are also clear on the chaos incurred by sin in our frustrated, fractured efforts to ‘come out of ourselves.’ We have done so regrettably; we, bathed in ecstatic love, assess the damage done: adultery, abuse, addiction, SSA, gender self-rejection, mangled marriages, persons tempted by bitterness due to betrayal then prolonged, unwanted aloneness.

Many different divides and one cure—the Bridegroom consummating love with us and releasing the flood that keeps our heart soft and straight, ready to tell the truth of sorrows and shame but more than that, how the ecstatic mercy of our Bridegroom is mounting, growing, its waters rising in our personal temples (Ezekiel 47) as we throw open the doors and windows and allow others to witness how His loving kindness has shattered the enemy’s design for us.

Our hearts speak truth—we at Living Waters are the first to declare our sin so that the triumph of mercy might extend to a weaker brother or sister. It does! We rejoiced in the epistle reading last week in which St. Paul exhorts us to turn from all sexual immorality as such sin exploits our sisters and brothers (1 Thess. 4: 3-8).

How liberating to hear God’s Word and to go boldly to the throne of grace, allowing the fire of mercy to burn off the deception that immoral acts are fine if each party consents. Lies that we have lived! We now want only to edify, not exploit, the weaker member! We wept as He rained mercy, not judgment, upon our corporate repentance.

As the nations shared of the impact of Living Waters, it was clear that this ecstatic witness of hope amid heinous sins had loosed a river throughout churches that is unstoppable. Instead of shame, the peoples of the earth are receiving a double portion of joy and favor (Is. 61:7), and ‘where that river flows, everything shall live!’ (Ez. 47:9).

His ecstatic love for us produces ecstasy. We live now to come out of ourselves and prepare a more robust, pure Bride for the One who gave all to gain us. No other way to live. No other way we want to live. His ecstatic love is better than any other way of life.

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

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Aging Grace

Does the thinning buffer between us and eternity expose virtue or vice? Does aging make us better or worse? Not sure…

During this summer break—a writing one—I paused to consider the quality of my offering to others and perceived heightened gratitude and grousing. Filters falter as the years add up; the naked self is less defended (too weary to self-justify), painfully self-aware, less inclined to virtual noise, and more reliant upon Jesus. In the uneasy mix, He is the Master.

Gratitude for holy communion reoccurred over these weeks. Annette and I enjoyed each other in some relaxed expressions of intimacy; I savored her gift. She is smart and humble, inclined to offer herself fully, especially to kids and grandkids. Unlike many women who struggle to offer themselves to dependents for fear of losing ‘self’, Annette discovers herself in the offering. It solidifies her.

I also engaged daily with the Living Waters material which I revised over the course of these six weeks. No small task but rewarding in its own way. It meant reviewing forty years of what I see to be the core insights and practical helps in becoming a chaste offering for others, from the vantage point of one who must choose daily to carry his cross in a progressively unchaste world. How does Jesus and His members help us become whole-enough in our gendered humanity?

I was assisted by the sharp mind and ordered heart of new intern/staff person Marco Casanova; I’d not experienced that kind of partnership in a writing project before. I enjoyed the refinement and know it made the revision better. The new guidebook will gleam by next spring (2020), just in time for DSM’s 40th Anniversary. We celebrate that milestone in Kansas City, August 7th-9th.

Ok. Good stuff all. But amid the holy communion came disturbing glimpses of unholiness, my own haggard responses to our tilting world. I refer not only to the earthquakes shaking the globe but also the dirty breath of public opinion that fan sparks into holocausts. Everyone has an opinion, even when they expose only their ignorance, proudly spewed all over the Internet. Narcissistic waste.

Why such little awareness of one’s limits? Why not the humility to pray instead of pontificate? Passion without mercy!

I am as merciless as the objects of my disgust. I fan into flame intolerance and become grossly impatient, enraged by human folly, especially the follies of Christians who should stick with what they know rather than amplify what they don’t in order to build followings. My discontent tempts me to check out, to disengage and do sick unchaste stuff. Aging has made me worse. And wiser. I know better now and my will is sure. I opt for holy communion: my wife, my friends, local Living Waters group, Holy Church. Can’t get saved online. I need Jesus in the flesh.

I spent a lot of time this break in Adoration, sitting before Jesus in a nearby prayer chapel, content to just be with Him. To Him I brought all the delightful, disturbing things that flare up within me. I accept their ferocity, in the light of His love for me. He seems nearer, more clear, rich in mercy and fierce in holiness. He becomes the one true thing I need more now than yesterday. Aging may have worsened me but has inclined me more to Him. I get better only in the light of His love for me. His light shines brighter now.

‘And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light’ (Rom. 13: 11, 12).

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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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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