Tag Archives: In Sinu Jesu

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Overcoming False Intimacy

I became a man through confronting my pastor for partaking of his sheep, e.g. emotionally and sexually manipulating a host of single women. My efforts were unwelcomed: the pastor duped his overseer, blamed us for being overly rigorous, and turned our colleagues on the pastoral staff against us. For the first time in our lives together, Annette and I (and Desert Stream Ministries) were homeless.

I loved this man but he refused to see the power of his position, the misuse of his body and other bodies, and its impact on the congregation. His moral blindness diminished the power of the Gospel. The community shrank for a couple years until more women came forward and the overseer served justice by replacing him.

Shepherds with sexual integrity serve justice; they give the sheep their due. No confusing messages, no lingering hugs and longing glances—an intact pastor lets his sheep be sheep and makes no sexual or inordinate emotional demands upon them. Such clear seeing and solid limits result from good moral formation before ordination. The pastor-in-training makes peace with his sexuality, is aware of its power, and learns—in the power of the Spirit–to restrain and direct desire for the good of others. For the sake of the Gospel.

But. Sometimes the runner stumbles. Good men begin the race with noble intentions. Yet under the weight of multiple pressures, dormant weaknesses may resurface and become wicked. I have known many men whose unmet need for connection finds a human outlet, which overwhelms their good judgment and goads them to break sacred bonds all the way around. Lord, have mercy. We can and must pray that such compromised shepherds come to their senses. Unlike the pastor I referenced, many do not defend their divided lives. The eyes of their heart open to the damage done and they cry out for mercy.

We recently had the privilege of standing with a pastor who, admittedly weak in areas, has fought hard and out loud for his integrity. In a dark season, he fell back into some old patterns. We as a community served justice with mercy. He was broken and vulnerable before us. Each person honestly expressed pain over his compromise. We had felt his distancing and denials; we conveyed some mistrust and asked what he would do to prevent this from happening again.

Return to his first love. This pastor was successful, much sought out; the roar of ministry had deafened his ear toward Jesus’ still small voice. He committed to reordering his life around adoration of the One. ‘…the answer to the problems that beset so many priests, causing them to fall into patterns of sin, is the friendship I offer them.’ ()

Reveal himself constantly to a small band of brothers. We urged him to redraw his commitment to two or three trusted colleagues with whom he vowed to be utterly, prayerfully honest. None of us surrounding him were pastors, and thus, we could not wholly grasp his burdens. But his pastor brothers could, and we insisted that he forge a community that would be mutually refining. He also promised to let his overseer know his struggle and how he was handling it; at the same time, he knew that daily ‘truth-telling’ would have to be homegrown, not hierarchical.

Reclaim robust chastity. He became a pastor based on his commitment to growing in chastity, a virile integration of his sexuality that would free him to confirm others with clarity and conviction. We confirmed that earthy call and called him to agree once more with Jesus’ ‘yes’ to power from on high to live a united, pure life—body, soul, and spirit. ‘We need that wholeness from you,’ we said. Mercy liberates justice, then justice is served by shepherds whose ordered desires ‘lead us besides still waters’ where we can ‘lay down in green pastures.’

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

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prayer schedule

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Softening Hardened Hearts

‘Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.’ (Heb. 3:13)

At a church service headed by a dynamic, on-the-go leader, a young father asked for prayer: ‘I am ashamed to admit but I am desperate for attention from my pastor who just hasn’t time for me.’ A young woman confessed to me soon after: ‘It’s like he [the elusive pastor] looks right through me but never sees me.’

Both are sensitive souls who suffer from sins of omission from their own fathers; they are insightful enough to know they transfer childhood needs onto pastors who usually fail to meet them. Insight here helps but does not heal. In fact, therapeutic connections can tempt them to a kind of hardness of heart—a defense not unlike the one they erected to the original man who got away.

Of course, real sins of commission occur—ways that pastors have hurt or betrayed us. No projections here: just real bruises from pastors who did some damage. Combine that with larger-than-life media exposure of abusive shepherds—amplified though the virtual universe—and our little wounds can widen. After a shocking round of clerical sexual abuse headlines, I worked hard to not project suspicion onto every priest I encountered for the next month.

Our hurt collects other hurts. Our hearts naturally harden through the deceitfulness of sin—omissions, commissions, and how we imprison many for the felonies of a few. That costs us. And the 97% of pastors who only want to father us well. When sin incites dullness and dread of them, we do more than demonize innocents–we lose necessary links to community and to Jesus Himself. We may become like an increasing number of Christians who fail to gather at all anymore, claiming a purely ‘individual’ relation with Jesus.

We need the lifeline of shepherds. That’s how God made us, and that’s why He commissions certain ones to help us take the next steps in our walk with Jesus. And guess what? Shepherds need us too. Yes, we are sheep and at the same time, we are Jesus’ members, shoulder-to-shoulder with our shepherds who need our witness, our encouragement and the unique gifts we bring to our churches.

What do we do? We use our insight wisely. We combine awareness of childhood wounds with adult actions. First, we own our ‘father wounds’ and ask Jesus’ forgiveness for imposing the burden of reparenting on a mere mortal. Second, we identify ‘pastor wounds’ and seek ongoing healing for them. We forgive our offenders. Third, we turn toward and live through the One Father revealed to us by Jesus who has nothing but time for us. He loves to love us.

We must cultivate this love but it’s easy. The Father loves us like no man ever could and gives us grace to give our fathers, to treat them mercifully as fellow humans, not as the next man who lets us down. I love shepherds because the Good Shepherd loves me well.

‘Simply present your needs to Me with a trusting heart and I will show you that I am a lavish provider for those who let Me take care of their needs.’ In Sinu Jesu

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

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prayer schedule

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Generous, Jealous Love

‘Do not give in to the feelings of guilt that assail you because you are not living up to the ideal you have set for yourself. I do not ask you to be faithful to an ideal. I ask you only to be My friend and to live at very moment in the grace of My divine friendship.’ In Sinu Jesu

Aging isn’t making me better. I naturally feel more outrage and less mercy for the moral atrocities that surround me. And that proliferate every June, LGBT+ Pride Month. Some are silly, like the ad I received from my airline: ‘All routes lead to love at United: Follow your heart and travel to Pride—grab a seat for a special drag queen bottomless brunch’ with United employees after ‘gay’ parading throughout its big city hubs. More serious is this year’s federal Equality Act which sailed through the House of Reps in route to the Senate and basically overhauls our federal civil rights framework by making female impersonators and the like a protected ‘class’ on par with immutable, involuntary characteristics like birth gender, age, and race.

All of these faux justices invoke love as their driving force. But doesn’t love have to answer to reality, namely the truth of who and what persons are? Love must answer this question: am I authentically seeking another’s good? If I am, then I cannot deny another’s human design and the Designer who made him or her in His image and who chose to reveal something of Himself in that person’s male or female personhood. If I agree with another’s misbegotten identification, I am actually not loving him or her well at all, but rather confirming a falsehood. I agree to deface that one, even if that one hates my disagreement with him or her.

God is love; His loving gaze is ever true. But frankly, my sight is becoming a squint. I can seek another’s good very badly. So I have been spending some time in the book of James repenting unto God’s heart for those He loves who have been hoodwinked by one of the greatest delusions of our day. As I sought Him, I came across this verse that I had never quite seen before: ‘Or do you think that the Scripture says without reason that the Spirit He caused to live in us longs jealously for us?’ (James 4:5).

What? You long for me, O God? You are actually intensely jealous for me to just be still and welcome Your love? Is that the longing of Your heart, a divine ache that can only be satisfied by me opening my heart to You, best I can? All You want of me is to be loved by You? All of the sudden I realized that I didn’t have to pray wearily for the right attitude or words or ‘feelings’ of love for LGBT+ friends. Rather, I needed to race into the merciful heart of Jesus and just be loved. There alone is generous love, a love aimed at the very depths of me. So I have been positioning myself before this Jesus who overflows with love for me.

Only divine love can fill the gaps into which truth has sunk. It will rise again as Mercy refills my foundations.

Truth must arise. Pride Month provokes it. May our authentic vision and love for the fractured flow out of intimate communion with the God who made us and who longs to convert us. He does so by joining us to Himself in an achingly tender bond of love, through ‘the Spirit that longs jealously for us’. May we seek out others with a similar tenderness that aches only for their good.

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

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