Tag Archives: Andrew Comiskey

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Comiskey at 60 (Isaiah and otherwise…)

‘Arise and shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and deep darkness the peoples of the earth but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you’ (Isaiah 60:1, 2).

Does aging make you better or worse? Guess it depends on who you are looking at. As I turned 60 the other day, I’m more aware than ever of contradictions within me, the mix that alternately cheers and deadens.

How to live honestly yet hopefully? Stay fixed on Jesus: somehow, my ‘cross-eyed’ view apprehends glorious light and sheds it upon the soul’s contours. Shadows flee and hope rises. Almighty mercy frees me to struggle in the Light. In that Light, I can behold the weak one next to me as an equally fit candidate for grace, one destined to wriggle out of frustration and into glory (Romans 8:18-21).

Last week, I reviewed my journals from 2017 and was struck by the year’s difficulty. The gravitational pull of sin and death was evident. But more familiar than a spirit of heaviness were the upward risings that followed every rut in the path. All it took was a gentle act of the will. I offered the shame, disappointment, or fear to the Crucified, who never failed to surge like a crystal stream up the middle of a polluted ditch. I caught His wave through acts of prayerful surrender.

Of course we need reminders of new life. I recall one day last year when I couldn’t summon faith. Giving was down, I had to buy an international air ticket, and the world seemed to be spinning fast, too fast, as if careening off its axis. I called my mother, just shy of her 92-year-old birthday, and offered her my lament. Keep in mind this woman lost her husband of 60 years a decade ago and has had to choose very day to rise and shine. That gets harder every year, as friends die off; she is now the ‘last woman standing,’ the one who cheerfully presides over the memorials of departed friends. She rises on shaky legs, refuses despair and self-pity, and looks to the One who shines upon her.

She heard my lament and responded: ‘That sounds hard. But how great that you are free to launch out into the world and make a difference in people’s lives through His glorious Kingdom!’ I blushed a little and offered my burden to the Lord, who enabled me to straighten up quickly. I positioned myself afresh to reflect His rays. The Light shines in darkness, and cannot be overcome (JN 1:5).

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3 Times a Slave

St. Peter Claver, Jesuit missionary to Africans enslaved to landowners in 17th century Colombia, would descend into the holds of slave ships and welcome those barely alive with a crucifix in one hand and medicine and food in the other. ‘This Jesus will love you better than any person ever could…’ He loved 300,000 slaves into the new life only Christ Jesus gives.

We need the Spirit of St. Peter Claver as we seek to love a generation enslaved by early sexualization of non-sexual needs combined with false, deflating answers to pressing questions about love, intimacy and gender identity. ‘Harassed and helpless’ is a generation without boundary who needs transforming love that lasts.

First enslavement: the vulnerability of young persons to sexual abuse. In a groundbreaking review of most contemporary research in the area of sexuality and gender (‘Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological and Social Sciences’, The New Atlantis Journal, Fall 2016), Drs. Lawrence Mayer and Paul McHugh cite persistently high rates of childhood sexual abuse among persons who later identify as gay or lesbian adults (3X more for all in contrast to ‘heterosexual’ counterparts; 5X more for ‘gay’ adult males who were abused homosexually as children.) One impact of abuse: normal needs for connection and attention become sexualized, which encourages ‘gay’ identification later on.

Second enslavement: systems in western culture designed to advocate for ‘at risk’ youth, including middle and high school educators, therapists, and social workers lunge at the opportunity to confirm pre-teens and teens as ‘queer’ as soon as they express any kind of same-sex attraction. Driven by the contestable belief that one is born intrinsically ‘gay’, these child ‘advocates’ actually contribute to teen abuse by urging the vulnerable to assume a ‘gay’ self and peer group. How many underage kids have been tacitly encouraged to begin having ‘gay’ sex in junior high school by clueless caregivers? In this way, our systems contribute to the enslavement of kids. (Mayer and McHugh cite substantial evidence that points to the fluidity of sexual desire in both male and female teens; SSA is not set in stone, and can readily change.)

Most concerning to me is the Church which contributes to the enslavement of young adults by insisting that Jesus does nothing to help them overcome same-sex attraction. An example: a young friend of mine repented of gay activity in high school then began getting the help he needed to move onto normal connection with women, the prospect of family, etc. He recently attended a summer Christian course for students preparing for university. There he heard Christopher Yuan, a popular speaker on Christian faith and homosexuality, who according to my friend testified weakly to Jesus’ apparent unwillingness to transform persons with same-sex attraction.

No better, and possibly worse is Anglican Wesley Hill who advocates for committed ‘gay’ celibate unions. In response to the newly consecrated Bishop Chamberlain in England who champions his gay self and lifetime partner, Hill writes what he hopes to hear from the new bishop: ‘I am in a committed faithful relationship with another man. I love him deeply and hope to spend the rest of my life with him. We don’t sleep together…in the hope that we’ll be able to love each other more deeply, more truly and more in line with how God in Christ has made us and redeemed us to be.’

Bleech! Aren’t we as the Church called to proclaim and facilitate the transforming power of love for persons enslaved in sin? I urged my young friend to refuse all such false witnesses and to run his race. Slightly stumbled, he regained footing as he recalled how much ground Jesus has already taken in reconciling him to who he is—a son of the Father, the man of God’s design. St. Peter Claver, lead on!

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one-bride

November 20, 2014: One Bride

‘I in them and You in Me, Father. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me.’ (Jn 17:23)

Jesus is committed to one Church. He alone knows exactly who composes His bride; what we can know is that Jesus is singularly passionate for her.

I am growing in that passion for her too. I have always known that one cannot love Jesus without also loving His Church. That love culminated for me several years ago when I became a Roman Catholic. The historic church became a refuge for me amid cultural downturns in marriage and gender and the compromised response of Protestant denominations. Jesus and His friends met me there; daily Eucharist and the cheering on of the saints have bolstered me deeply.

I am grateful. And realistic. The Church’s strengths are also her weaknesses and necessitate I seek Jesus’ strength to love her as she deserves. Her weaknesses expose mine and require much mercy for me. But mercy works. I can extend that mercy freely to the Church for it is precisely Christ’s mercy through the Church that sustains me, keeps me free for love.

At times I miss my beautiful evangelical background. The vocation Jesus entrusted to Annette and I was born in the Vineyard church planting movement. We could not have asked for a better home. Open, humble, merciful: these are the faces I see from the Vineyard’s communion of saints that welcomed us and still inform us. On our Vineyard foundation, we will always pray for more of God’s Kingdom and Spirit for hurting people, and we shall always equip our fellow servants in the truth that Jesus calls and empowers them as surely as He does Pope Francis. We will adapt to the new ways God’s wants to meet people in order to reveal the same truths to new generations.

Catholics need to be empowered by the evangelical spirit, and evangelicals need the depth of Catholic teaching and worship. Each possesses a kind of authority that the other needs. I am grateful for both. In order to be whole, the Church needs both.

Early on in my Catholic conversion, I saw a picture of a huge river in which persons on both sides were drinking, soaking, and healing. Each shore revealed two distinct groups partaking of ‘living waters.’ Divided as Protestants and Catholics, they drew from the same Source. The river flowed: I could see some persons co-mingling until the two groups freely partook of the waters together.

Considering this vision, I wonder if the humbling impact of relational and sexual sins makes us less inclined to defend ourselves with doctrinal differences. Perhaps the wounds are too deep, the shame too great, to distance ourselves from the ‘other’ with a rosary or Bible verse. Broken, we cry out for mercy together and discover gifts the one possesses that the other needs.

My prayer has been partially answered by a series of trainings we sponsor in Mexico. Equal parts Catholic and evangelical, we are discovering one Jesus and one Bride. A river of water and blood runs through her.

‘Be completely humble and gentle. Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; one Body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all in all.’ (Eph. 4: 2-6)

Please join us as we pray for:

  1. South, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Dean Greer – Coordinator: For new regional leadership to be identified and raised-up, for existing groups and to see new groups established.
  2. Aguas Vivas: Baja California and Cuernavaca, Mexico: Guidance, wisdom and stamina for Maite at DSM/LW as she encourages and helps leaders to start ContraCorriente groups.
  3. Restored Hope Network: Prayer for wisdom, discernment and protection for RHN board members: Andrew Comiskey; Stephen Black; Karen Booth; Robert Gagnon; Denise Schick; Jason Thompson.

“Courage for Pope Francis, that he would ensure that the Church becomes a clear fountain of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction!”

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BLOGS & PRAYER POINTS FOR NOV. 20, 21, 22, 23

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Downward Ascent 5: Heart of God

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.’ (Matt. 5:7)

Mercy is the heart of God. Fittingly, mercy is the core theme of the Beatitudes: the poor, the mournful, the meek and hungry welcome mercy like rain on broken dry ground. Jesus then exhorts such receivers to extend that unfailing love to those who fail them.

No easy thing. To look with pity on the poor ‘out there’ and to give something of God’s generosity is one thing; to release captives who have captivated you with merciless acts is quite another. Several past Lenten seasons have been defined by facing some pretty hard hits I had taken from loved ones, especially family members and close ministry colleagues. Those nearest to us do the greatest damage, arouse the strongest self-justifications, and require the most mercy in order for all to heal.

Lent exposes the merciless heart of the ‘good guys.’ It challenges our good habits and fairly intact virtues. Forty days before the Crucified helps us to see how wounded we are and in turn, how hard our hearts have become toward those who betrayed us.

My hatred for a loved one’s addiction devolved into hating him and refusing to see him as an object of mercy. To release him seemed unwise, a set up for another round of secrets and lies. Yet setting boundaries and obeying this Beatitude are not mutually exclusive. It may be unwise to share your funds or bed or even close proximity to a divided soul. Extending mercy is a divine mandate.

How can I not forgive another and yet claim to be named by the God who forgave me over and over for gross acts of sexual immorality with no guarantee that this confession would be the last? To bear the name of our God means that we act as He does—mercifully. Jesus said it simply, and best. ‘Be merciful as Your Father is merciful.’ (LK 6:36)

This Lent take time to reflect on how merciful He has been to you. Consider your failures and how both a merciful God and His children forgave you. Consider also those whom you have written off, judged as unworthy of your mercy. Ask yourself: why is your mercy different from His? Spend time before the Crucified and ask for the mercy to close the gap. Be merciful. Be like your Father.

‘Anyone who lives beneath the Cross of Christ and who has discerned in his own heart the wickedness of all men, including himself, will find there is no sin that can ever be alien to him.’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

PRAYER for Monday, March 24th: ‘Father, remind me of the specific ways You have been merciful to me.’

PRAYER for Tuesday, March 25th: Meditate on these words of St. Faustina. ‘The knowledge of my own misery allows me to know the immensity of Your mercy.’
Is that true for you? How has the misery of your own sin become the broken ground for His immense mercy? ‘Father, remind me of how Your mercy alone restored me from sin’s misery.’

PRAYER for Wednesday, March 26th: ‘Father, show me the misery that other persons’ sins has visited upon me. Why do I struggle to face these sins? Brood over my wounded heart and show me the immensity of Your mercy there.’

PRAYER for Thursday, March 27th: ‘Father, as I am Your child, made in Your image and likeness, I choose to release this one for forcing me into sin’s misery. You have been merciful to me; I extend that mercy to this one.‘

PRAYER for Friday, March 28th: ‘Father, show me the wise boundaries that will enable me to love this person without being entrapped in the snare of his/her sin. May I see this as both a loving act toward myself and a further help for him/her in making a thorough repentance.’

PRAYER for Saturday, March 29th: ‘Father, help me to see all persons as You do, sons and daughters made in Your image. Help me to see beyond my own concerns to behold a harassed people and in need of You, our merciful Father.’

PRAYER for Sunday, March 30th: ‘Father, make this church a home for sinners. May You the Merciful Shepherd use all of us as little shepherds to bring sinners home to You. Draw them with Your mercy God, mercy alone. Make me an arm of Your wooing love. In particular, I cry out for these wayward ones: ___________ ’

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Downward Ascent 2: Good Grief

Downward Ascent 2: Good Grief

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’ (Matt. 5:4)

Happy are the sad. Real joy comes from Christ, and Christ comes for the sorrowful. Not just any kind of sorrow: I mean the grief which results from poverty of spirit. To look inside and out and to know all is lost, except for the Savior who came to seek and save the lost (LK 19:10).

He waits for us to weary of our self-justifications, the hollow of our own laughter. He intercedes for us as our ‘fun’ digresses into dehumanizing others. We are exposed in the glare of Another’s nakedness.

He waits for us to admit that the ‘gay marriage’ we have championed has no real foundation and will not stand.

The law of gravity never fails: sin’s road goes down and down.

We can go a long way on our own happiness. Yet the ache of conscience can intensify too. Happy are the sad, good is the grief associated with genuine moral loss—the loss of innocence and core values that can only be reclaimed by divine help.

God dwells with the destitute but resists the ‘house-proud,’ those secure in their own defenses. While fools roost in the ‘house of pleasure, the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning.’ (EC. 7:4) He enters the temple desecrated by sin and surrendered to Mercy. He gives real comfort to those who cry: ‘Jesus!’

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi writes of how the pursuit of sexy idols is no match for the authentic longings of the grief-stricken heart. Addictions fall away when one unites original injuries with trustworthy sources of comfort. Attachment to real love displaces counterfeits. Yet union with Love Himself necessitates real grief: I am wounded! I am alone! I need a Savior, the Advocate who will never fail me!

Divine comfort now is never complete. The promise is ‘will be comforted.’ We live between the ages: the Comforter has come and is coming again. In the meantime, we can mediate that comfort one to another, always directing our hearts to the time when we shall grieve no more. In the meantime, we agree with St. Paul who describes himself as ‘sorrowful yet always rejoicing.’ (2COR. 6:10)

Happy are the sad. Our losses welcome holy love.

‘Come near to God and He will come near to you…Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.’ (James 4: 8, 9)

Prayer for Monday, March 10th: ‘Father, we welcome the reminder of our poverty, and the good grief that accompanies it. Teach us to make the Valley of Baca (weeping) a place of springs. (PS 84:6) ‘

Prayer for Tuesday, March 11th: ‘Father, we grieve over the unresponsive parts of our hearts: the weak and vulnerable areas that we hate and hide. Teach us to welcome Your love where we need it most.’

Prayer for Wednesday, March 12th: ‘Father, remind us of our original injuries and the ways You have shown Yourself faithful as the God of all comfort and understanding. This Lent, secure us in the Father/child bond that breaks fear and shame and frees us to rest in You.’

Prayer for Thursday, March 13th: ‘Father, we grieve over hearts unresponsive to Your mercy, especially our loved ones. We admit that we can hate those we love most due to how deeply they impact us. We are reactive creatures, poor in love: comfort us so that we might comfort those who need Your love through us.’

Prayer for Friday, March 14th: ‘Father, we grieve over the sexual immorality all around us. We cry out for repentance, beginning with ourselves, and ask that we might manifest holy comfort to sinners; hasten their turning back to You.’

Prayer for Saturday, March 15th: ‘Out of sorrow, let joy arise. Remind us of all the ways that You have comforted us in our afflictions.’

Prayer for Sunday, March 16th: ‘Help Your Church to be the site where we recognize sin and grieve over it. Let Your Church also be the juncture where we exchange our grave clothes for robes of righteousness.’

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