Tag Archives: Catholics

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

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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Your Answered Prayers

In New York City, on the last day of ‘Gay Pride’ month, God had the last word.  In the same city where a noisy and highly funded LGBT+ parade glorified identity confusion a week earlier, Living Waters flowed without notice, quietly yet mightily to heal wounds at the core of the relational mess we are in.

Together a thirsty group of Catholics and evangelicals gathered under the Cross to receive His self-giving and to seek to offer ourselves more wholly to others. We welcomed His healing rain in a Catholic parish on 100-degree parched ground. We found Jesus’ heart right in the heart of New York City.

You, through your ongoing generosity and collaboration in heart and prayer, helped make it possible for us —in answer to years of prayer —to minister to the hearts of many in Manhattan.

Jim and Joann bravely shared about how Living Waters are gently yet powerfully flowing into on their 30+ year-marriage that had been riddled by each of their porn addictions.  The Living Waters are running deep to touch the roots of their wounds of which porn is just a symptom. Jim shared about his never having felt good enough which led him to the military and a masculinity that dominated everyone around him, including his wife.  Already ill at ease with her feminine vulnerability, Joann lived under his domination and endured through self-protection.

Through Living Waters, their wounds are being revealed and cleansed. They are experiencing tender love for each other like never before. Thank you for your generosity that releases Living Waters.

My amazing daughter Katie, a young single woman desiring marriage but joyful and content in trusting God’s unfolding plan for her, shared with the candor of one whose heart is free and alive.  Her story illustrates the destructive power that a tiny bad seed can have in producing weeds that can choke a flower.  Though growing up in a pretty good family (if I do say so myself), she too experienced wounding by words spoken over her by peers–lies that she internalized.  These lies festered and stunted the flowering of her femininity.  But through Living Waters she came to understand and take hold of the unique beauty and value she possesses. The vitality that she radiates to all is because generous friends like you helped release Living Waters.

These stories remind us that God’s last word is always grace, mercy and newness of life.  This was the last word He spoke into New York City on the last day of “Gay Pride” month.  Without you, this would not be possible. Because of you, important ground was taken back in New York City and reclaimed for God and His Kingdom of Life and Love.

Will you help us to continue to free and renew hearts and reclaim lives for God?  Our country just celebrated the freedom won for us by those who sacrificed their lives.  Amid record-breaking temperatures and oppression over much of the country, many cry out for healing rain–the Living Waters of true freedom.  Will you help to refresh them?  Will you help us to bring this Living Water to them that they might discover the true life God has for them?

The summer is a difficult time for Desert Stream financially.  But there is so much thirst which continues unabated. We are few yet we have you. How glorious is that: together we can bring freedom and life to many hearts in our country. Please remember us in your prayers and giving.  Bless and love you all.

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Turn and Burn Andrew Comiskey

Turn and Burn

‘John was a lamp that burned and gave light.’ (JN 6:35)

I could hardly believe my ears. Surrounded by a host of earnest men, most cradle Catholics, the priest raged like a street fighter as he implored us to turn from what sickened, divided and ultimately would kill us. ‘Repent unto the love of Jesus! The love that woos you will only make you new if you turn from your sin!’

Pow. Right between the eyes. The priest mediated the spirit of John the Baptist unlike any other, fittingly so for the second week of Advent. The Sunday’s Gospel (LK 3: 1-6) declares John preaching ‘a baptism of repentance’, and implores us to ‘make a way’ for Jesus in our lives through turning from everything that hinders love. We know that holy love liberates our repentance. But the Baptist refuses to let us off the hook. We must level our mountains—the craggy defenses and soaring self-justifications—in order to break ground for His entry into our lives.

Incited by the sentimentality that surrounds ‘homosexuals’ in the Church today (victims in need of coddling, not the call to repent unto chastity like everyone else), I began to burn within as I recalled God’s dignifying call for my repentance. I realized I had a choice: turn from my ‘gay’ self and behaviors and live, or die in my sin. It was simple, stunning, and cost me everything. It set me free to follow Jesus.

Like Jeremiah (20:9), my stomach smoking, I declared to my brothers around that table the truth of my ‘gay ‘ past and gratitude for the Baptist’s call to repentance. ‘God in His mercy gave me a choice: He respected me enough to give me the freedom to surrender to Him the whole complicated mess of my sexuality. And He gives you the same gift to turn from whatever seeks mastery over you. You just have to act on it. No-one can do it for you.’

Admittedly, repentance isn’t the only factor in our restoration as persons. But no restoration can occur without it. Through His beloved forerunner John, Jesus reminds us this Advent to turn and so burn with the fire of divine love.

This Tuesday the 8th, Pope Francis initiates his Jubilee Year of Mercy. Would you pray with me throughout this important year for him? Following the Synod on the Family, the Pope is now weighing its report and sometime in 2016 will give his pastoral suggestions on a host of issues, including the pastoral care of persons with SSA. He has been ambiguous in the call for ‘homosexuals’ to repent, and he faces resistance for making such a politically incorrect call.

Perhaps Pope Francis can draw courage from John the Baptist who commanded repentance so clearly that Herod killed him for it (John challenged his sexually immoral relationship with Herodias and was beheaded; Matt. 14:1-12.) Pray for Pope Francis’ clarity, that he not bypass the clear command of repentance unto Jesus and the goal of chastity for all persons, including persons with SSA. To do so is a failure of mercy. We cannot have Jesus without His Baptist. We must turn in order to burn with holy love.

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Sowing in the Fields of Pope Francis

‘Unless our eyes are filled with tears, we will not see.’ Pope Francis

I write this from the Philippines where last month Francis made a historic visit to comfort victims of a devastating typhoon, the second to ravage the country in two years. Like St. Paul, he followed the Spirit’s lead; he came unexpectedly, poor to the poor, offering only himself.

He wept and smiled with the weak and led Mass for 6 million Philippinos, the biggest gathering of its kind in the nation’s history. Many of my colleagues, mostly non-Catholic, attended the Mass and welcomed the healing he brought. “Revival is stirring in our midst,’ they attest.

We came to the Philippines in the spirit of Pope Francis when he said: ‘We must learn how to open our hands from our very own poverty.’ That we did. Our small North American team joined a seasoned Asian team to lead a Living Waters Training based on Desert Stream’s renewed material and commitment to the nations.

Together we wounded healers led out in weakness: victims and perpetrators of sexual sin, distorted affections, marital woes, emotional destitution–aliens and slaves all, now made beautiful sons and daughters. The robust Philippine team was augmented well by Thai and Chinese leaders, and the 70 leaders-in-training reflected the breadth of the Philippines itself: Protestants and Catholics, the highly educated and barely literate, young adult converts and denominational leaders.

We bowed together before the one Cross, and Jesus humbled us into a fragrant unity. One small group consisted of an evangelical pastor who was disoriented by the call for him to submit his ‘traditional sin’ to a group full of young Catholics seeking to overcome same-sex attraction. By the first session the young men’s naked hunger for Jesus broke him and he admitted the most painful and shameful areas of his ‘normal’ life.

Later, he asked the most damaged member of the group (abandoned as a child and ravaged by sexual abuse) to extend the blessing of the Church upon him as he committed to continuing his healing journey.

Like Francis, we sowed in tears, and gave out of our poverty. Jesus came. We trust that churches of all stripes will continue to release ‘living water’ to broken ones from the very wounds and weaknesses He has reclaimed.

We follow the plow of Francis, sowing in tears.

‘Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.’ (PS 126: 6)

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Darkness before Dawn

‘Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of His servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on Him.’ (IS 50: 10)

While Michael Sam, the first gay NFL player to be drafted, cavorted on the global stage with his boyfriend, we gathered for our Living Waters Training. Men and women, Catholics and Protestants, broken people who without Jesus would be enslaved to either gender, entered into the river of blood and water that makes all things new.

We gathered with a new urgency around the Cross, trusting that the Crucified God would calm the dark currents swirling around us and somehow, in our repentance, take us deeper into His heart for His Church. We were not disappointed.

The Holy Spirit fell on us immediately. Though divided by regions and diverse Christian traditions, God united us as we got low and listened together for His still small voice. All of us had been deafened by the din of powerful, media-driven lies–false assumptions about the nature of homosexuality and marriage, and what constitutes sexual liberty. The good news? God woke us up to the fact that we can overcome darkness by heeding His voice.

A wiseman writes: ‘When the wind howls and the doors and windows clatter, one can hardly hear at all…if you will hear the voice of God, that Fatherly word whispered in the inmost depths of your soul, you must become deaf to all the roar of the world without and hush all the voices within. You must yield yourself up like a meek and gentle sheep, confess your sins, and all humbly hushed and quieted, hearken to this voice of God.’

We, the training group, had no time or strength to defend ourselves from each other. The irrational, virulent rise of idolatry in our world reduced us to Jesus: to listening together for His healing Word, and fighting for the healing of a generation who may be lost to perversion unless we manifest the Merciful Creator who can redeem all.

Note to self: those who witness the deception of a Michael Sam and respond only with disgust contribute to his cause. Sam has become the new sexual underdog for a generation who will defend anyone from such sneering.

I want to do more than sneer: I want to live the good news that Jesus reconciles us to our real selves in exchange for powerful lies. The world is shrouded in darkness and we make it worse by only cursing that darkness. Darkness ends in death. We who embody His new life must shine like lights as we hold out that Life to others. We must clarify the One to whom the deceived can repent before death takes away their choice.

That is serious business: a matter of eternal life or death.

At our training, God purified our interior ‘lamps’ through reducing us to One Voice, One Cross, and One Church. I discerned that those who refuse to gather with the saints will be scattered and become prey to the father of lies. The Holy Spirit is uniting us and giving us abundant Life. Through a humbled and renewed people, God wants to dawn for those living in darkness.

‘But now all you who light fires and provide yourselves with torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from God’s hand: you will lie down in torment.’ (IS 50: 11)

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