Tag Archives: Catholics

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Grounded 6

Let’s start with confession: I find virtual Masses unsatisfying. They provoke hunger without consummation. Fill my little screen with big Pentecostal preachers any day. In quarantine, watching pale priests sup together then fade out is a kind of fast.

Maybe that’s the point. On Good Friday we fast from Jesus because He’s gone, in the tomb. We feasted at table, leaned on His holy chest, and now…our realized hope is but a body memory. We ache for Him. We ache more now. Yes, He is Risen, but in Covid-9-time the light of Life shines on an extended Good Friday.

We hunger and our roots fan out. Pope Emeritus Benedict muses on how Catholics going without Eucharist for a time invites our love to plunge deeper. ‘Voluntary spiritual fasting visually expresses the fact that we all need that healing of love which the Lord perfected in the ultimate loneliness of the Cross. Sometimes we need to hunger…if we are to understand the suffering of hungering brothers.’ Those ‘brothers’ apply to all Christians who for a variety of reasons are not free to partake of the Eucharist in the Catholic Church.

Since becoming a Catholic nine years ago, I have taken communion without my family. Daughter Katie joined me when she became Catholic a few years ago. Separate tables: nothing divides the fellowship of Christians like the Eucharist. A benefit in this ‘fast’ has been a deeper appreciation of the whole Body of Christ, and the traditions common to my evangelical (of many stripes) family members. In hunger I draw from their gifts and eat heartily.

Annette has cultivated a profound love of her Anglican tradition of Eucharist through leadership in Altar Guild where she shepherds and mobilizes devout women who care for the altar—its vessels and linens. Someone must set the table for Jesus and His people and these servants do it with exquisite care. Annette ached for her love of Jesus at altar during this quarantine. I was privileged to escort her into the church, darkened since early March, to strip the altar. This most solemn of annual events is typically reserved for Maundy Thursday. It was emotional, pregnant with meaning, as she carefully instructed me how to help her lay the altar bare in prep for reunion—His rising, and the congregation’s yet-to-be-determined next gathering.

For Holy Week, Annette and I thoroughly enjoyed our son Nick’s virtual version. Alongside his cohort Peter in Austin, the two laid a fine table—smart, funny, profound. Nick takes me to new depths. Afterwards, my other kids and I opened our Bibles to reflect upon the stunning humility, and hope, of Jesus’ self-giving.

We united in His love. He invited us and we encircled Him, as if for a few shining moments we partook of Jesus at the same table.

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Surrounded 2 Mending the Net

Surrounded 2: Mending the Net

Since becoming Catholic, I’m more aware than ever of the ignorant, prejudicial attitudes that pervade both sides of our divided Church. I’m also aware of real ‘reformation’ differences that should be acknowledged and respected.

That is not my concern here. Sexually lost and broken people are. I am convinced that the unwillingness of both evangelicals and Catholics to first recognize the Jesus who is present in the other fractures and weakens our witness.

Our divides are like cracks in a glass globe that skews the Light of the world; our disdain for each other tears the net that would otherwise bring in a haul of fish.

God will have His way with His Church. I delight in witnessing how in Living Waters evangelicals and Catholics are coming together to heal and to heal others. Our just commenced group at my parish in Kansas City serves mostly Catholics but the team is equal parts evangelical and Catholic.

How wonderful that deep thinking, contemplative Catholics who tend to doubt their own capacity to administer healing to others are welcoming the charismatic candor of evangelicals who from the start of their faith life welcomed the call to heal in the power of the Spirit.

Deeper still is the healing I see between evangelicals and Catholics in Latin America–a much more divided context than in the north due to historic wounding (300 years of Spanish colonization: imposing Catholicism and persecuting Protestants). Two nations we work with in the Southern Cone have forged a strong alliance, even though our Chilean friends are evangelical, the Argentines Catholic. Yet they love and value each other as people with traditions distinct from their own. The evangelicals benefit from the gift of Catholic thinking and symbology, while the Catholics grow from the beautiful healing community we work with in Chile.

That Vineyard Church in Santiago is a model of what every community could be for the sexually broken. With Living Waters rooted deeply in its DNA and core church members its leaders, this Body now has a well-deserved reputation as a safe and holy place for the divided to heal. I encountered more than a few persons from around Latin America who are integrating into that church family in order to grow in their integration of persons. The Vineyard is a place where one is free to struggle in the light of Jesus’ inclusive love and to take ground over time.

I love that place. The Argentine Catholics love it too; they are now working with Vineyard folk in their city to provide a healing community for the sexually broken there.

God wants to save the lost and the least. And He honors the coming together of Catholics and evangelicals who are willing to combine strengths and gifts in order to become an empowered, welcoming home for the broken.

A cracked lamp skews the light, a broken body struggles to heal, a torn net cannot catch fish. A united Church can land a good haul and clean it too.

Many Catholics and evangelicals from around the world will be joining our Becoming Good News prayer effort. Let us build a united house, pleasing to God, on our knees.

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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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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