Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Smash Flood

‘They will look on Me, the One that they have pierced…and grieve bitterly. On that day a fountain will open to cleanse them from sin and impurity’ (Zech. 12:10; 13:1).

Jesus mirrored hard truth. Outraged man shattered the mirror. God retaliated by releasing a flood of divine mercy from His broken frame, the only source that restores us to the truth.

Barbara Taylor Brown says it best: ‘I remember being at a retreat once where the leader asked us to think of someone who represented Christ in our lives. One woman stood up and said: “I kept thinking: who is it who told me the truth about myself so clearly that I wanted to kill him for it?” Jesus died because He told the truth to everyone He met. He was the truth, a perfect mirror in which people saw themselves in God’s own light.’

The Desert Stream staff now habitually gathers to tell each other the truth about one another’s strengths and weaknesses. As the sugary, soft fruit of the therapeutic age, we delight in blessing each other’s good points but brace ourselves for the bad. We flinch to even use language like ‘bad’, preferring words like ‘unchallenged strengths.’

What I recall from those meetings is the ‘bad.’ I couldn’t recount the ‘blessings’ but have wrestled in the wee hours with the difference between how I see reality and how others see mine. I have not wanted to kill certain staff members but I’ve rehearsed ‘setting them straight’ monologues before sleep. How much bigger the gap between God’s truth and ours? The difference: in exposing our self-deceptions, He submits to our smashing, and offers Himself as the antidote.

He gives all—His body pierced for our washing and broken for our bread, the meal that makes us whole. For us who are troubled and touchy and too readily defended—pour out Your ‘vengeance’ upon us this Good Friday, Good God.

Barbara Taylor Brown again: ‘In the presence of His integrity, our pretense is exposed. In the presence of His constancy, our cowardice comes to light. In the presence of His fierce love for God and us, our hardness of heart is revealed. I am not worse than you nor you I, but leave Him in the room and there is no room to hide. He is the light of the world. In His presence, we either fall down to worship Him or do everything we can to extinguish His light.

Today, while He dies, do not turn away. Make yourself look in the mirror. Today no-one gets away from being shamed by His beauty. Today no-one flees without being laid bare by His light.’

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Election Day

‘To God’s elect, strangers in the world’ (1P1:1), ‘I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened to know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power to us who believe’ (Eph. 1:18).

Saints Peter and Paul remind us ground saints of the hope we share in Jesus, His glory and our inheritance, which need not be dulled or distracted by a shameful election. (I’m still not sure who troubles me more—she who champions mothers and children while insisting that the former be free to dispose of the latter, or he who demonizes aliens while pandering to angry white Ameri-men.) In truth, Jesus’ choice to elect us and make us strangers to the world’s systems may be just the reminder we need to sharpen our focus on what counts—hope for a harassed nation whose people will be saved by no other candidate than Jesus Christ.

During the last presidential Election Day in 2012, I wound up a 40-day fast with the fine folks at Outpost Ministries in the Twin Cities—we prayed ‘Thy will be done’ throughout the day at the Justice Prayer Room, then sponsored by a church on the campus of the University of Minneapolis. During a break, I wandered (hungrily) around the campus and beheld hundreds of gender confused students; there, through the eyes of my heart, I saw a torrent of ‘living water’ rushing from the church and inviting them to partake of the transformational flood.

I heard Jesus whisper: ‘I am their hope—not a law or elected official—this river of blood and water and Spirit. Build up My house, let the waters rise there and overflow into the public square; welcome My estranged children home!’ From that point on, four years ago, I vowed to do just that, build up Jesus’ house so that empowered faithful ones might blaze a path for those lost to the world.

The Church! Might she be faithful in this hour to Jesus’ blazing truth and mercy for the saving of many lives! Of this fire, and the threat of our falling asleep in its light, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia writes: ‘We do not need to renounce our baptism to be apostates. We simply need to be silent when our faith demands we speak out. Our assimilation into popular culture has bleached out strong religious conviction in the name of liberal tolerance and has dulled our longing for the supernatural…’

Election Day Friends

Pete, Ken and Andy.

And the power of that supernatural love! My splendid colleague Peter Kockelman and I had the privilege this week to impart some wisdom (and receive much renewal) at Bethel Church in Redding CA. We met future ministry partners like Ken Williams and were simply blown away by the hope and life and love that surged like a flood from the community of 8000 saints, mostly young adult, who gather in order to give Him away with joy-filled generosity.

(That is what blessed me most about the Bethel community: in light of incredible pressures to accommodate the volume of seekers, key staff persons face the burdens with child-like joy. No stressed-face saints these—they smile and shrug heaven-ward and entrust the glorious impossibilities to Jesus. He makes a way.)

Yet they are also realists. At the urging of Pastor Chris Vallaton, the Bethel community is seeking to offer a clear witness of God’s will for men and women, while equipping the saints to accompany persons caught in disorder with grace and truth. The river is rising in Redding and now flows throughout the world to draw estranged sons and daughters back to the Father, and His confirmation of each one as beloved sons and daughters, made in His image.

These Bethel saints will not bow the knee to another image of humanity, a ‘cooler’ version for the sake of appeasing confused hipsters. They will mobilize the saints to become that river poured out to the broken. They will do their part to make our election sure, the Bride who has been washed by the Word, free of spot and wrinkle, radiant. Nowhere else I want to be: joyfully in the river with all the saints, doing our parts to keep the waters pure and rising for a people who will perish without it.

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Royal Flood

We end our 40 days on the Feast of Christ the King, the final Sunday of the Church calendar. Crowned with thorns and pierced with sword and nails, our Crucified King loosed a royal flood. We can begin to understand that river only if we consider its Source, Jesus Christ, Lord of the Universe.

He is Creator—‘through Him all things were made’ and ‘in Him all things hold together’; He is Redeemer—the One through whose blood ‘the Father reconciled to Himself all things’ so that Jesus might reign supreme in all of life (Col. 1: 15-20).

Our King–Creator and Redeemer—rules, not by wielding a sword, but by being pierced by one. He surrenders all for our rebellion. Mighty in power, how much mightier is that power when poured out in blood and water—blood to break sin’s bonds and water to cleanse us from its debris? Only the King who allowed Himself to be crushed for us can dissolve the darkest stains of humanity. No sin is too great, no rebellion too devious: He poured out His Life in a royal flood in order to transform the hideous into holy ones. Only a King can offer Almighty mercy.

Scripture directs us to anchor that royal flood in His house, the temple Ezekiel describes (47) as the source of this river of Life, which ushers out of the altar and is filling this temple one foot at a time until its waters flow out to the streets. This rising tide combines the fruit of Crucifixion—blood and water—with Resurrection, the power of God’s Spirit to animate the forgiven into agents of His Kingdom.

The river of our King belongs to kids of His kingdom. As we take our places in His temple, living humble before the Crucified and radiant in His rising, so do these waters rise. Lost children become royalty, slaves become sons and daughters of the King. As we the Church are transformed, how can we not arise and welcome aliens so that they can become full citizens in His house, through the royal flood?

Today we live in an apostate culture in regards to gender and sexuality. Millions are being deformed by a host of enslaving ‘liberties’, dehumanizing identities and acts that are fanned by porn and media adulation. Yet a discontent burns in the hearts of many, born of both a fear of the Holy God and longing for the mercy that makes all things new. These are ‘the multitudes in the valley of decision’ (Joel 3:14). As the darkness in the land increases, so does the battle for their souls.

We are the people of the royal flood, endowed with Kingdom authority to release that river from the temple so as to reunite slaves with the King. He longs to be the Source of their freedom by granting them a place in His household. Idols are fickle masters; they ignite the weak only to incinerate them. In contrast the King composes His kids and restores their original dignity. How mighty is our King’s mercy for lost and broken ones!

How generous is He to grant us a share in His Kingdom. Will we bear His heart for lost children? Will we take our places in His house and be among those through whom ‘the river flows so that everything will live’ (Ez. 47:9)? We have immersed ourselves in the royal flood that has become our freedom. Now is the time to impart the waters to others. Let us raise the water levels in focused, daily efforts to create a Church awash in Almighty Mercy. May the royal flood overflow and become life for the world.

‘Whoever believes in Me, streams of living water will flow from within him.’
(JN 7:38)

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Mercy 6: The Merciful Path

Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert…and a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness.’ (IS 35:6, 8)

A Lonely Walk to the OceanA well-known Christian recently critiqued me on the grounds that ‘Comiskey apparently has no understanding of the variety of sexual pathways’: what she was saying is that I do not validate any sexual ‘route’ other than the goal of  dignifying one’s fellow humanity, with a particular aim to honor the opposite gender.

She believes that the host of sexual inclinations native to fallen humanity require validation of a variety of paths on which to urge our fellows to become the best GLBTQ….person (s)he can be. (The morphing of the acronym speaks for itself.)

I am only grateful for the mercy of God revealed in Jesus Christ, who showed me the one path one which to become a whole man. To be sure, I have been fraught with a variety of impulses that sought to throw me off the path: to go backwards, sideways, to stall or to steer others off course with my lustful inclinations.

Blessed be Jesus, full of grace and truth, who enabled me to integrate the virtues of chastity and complementarity. Jesus’ way is paved with both: the hard-won gift of self-control by which a man motivated by SSA learned to dignify his brothers by not reducing them to objects of lust, and the progressive opening of my eyes and heart to the beauty of woman. Today my orientation is for woman, and in particular one: my beloved wife Annette.

I may at times feel otherwise. Thanks be to God who set me on His course and by grace keeps me on it. That includes but is by no means limited to sexual fidelity. My orientation means being for her in sun and storm, in ecstasy and indifference.

Jesus is merciful: He gently uncovers the path He has placed in every heart. He awakens us to the gift we are in our gender humanity; our freedom hinges upon discovering the path to chastity and complementarity, and proceeding on it.

‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’ (Jer. 6: 16) 

Prayer Points for November 11th:

  • Desert Stream/Living Waters:  Northeast: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, David and Ellen Cressman, Regional Coordinators. Please pray for new life and new groups in the Northeast region.
  • Restored Hope Network: Outpost Ministries, Minneapolis, MN. Nate Oyloe, Director. Specialty: worship ministry, youth, Living Waters, men, women and families. Desert Stream Ministries, Kansas City, MO. Andrew Comiskey, Director. Specialty: excellent resources used world-wide, especially the Living Waters program for healing of sexual and relational issues through drawing near to Christ. Prophetic intercession ministry.
  • Courage: Please pray for an end to abortion, pro-gay legislation and the culture of death.
  • Ministries of Pastoral Care: Please pray for humility, focus and grace to practice God’s Presence in each moment of our days.
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An Army Rising

‘I will rouse your sons, O Zion…and make you like a warrior’s sword.’ (Zech. 9: 13)

In spite of scandal and slumber, the Roman Catholic Church remains the most cohesive and powerful voice for sexual morality in the world today. If the annual Courage Conference last weekend is any indication, she is rediscovering that voice in proclaiming and administering wholeness to those with same-sex attraction.

Under Father Paul Check’s sound direction, Courage–the RCC’s official arm of pastoral care for Catholics with SSA—gathers priests, religious, therapists, and laity to raise up the Church’s foundations. These core truths define who we are as sexual beings and how Jesus through the Church restores our original dignity.

Last week’s conference combined incisive teaching, testimony, and worship. Like swords, leaders and strugglers alike were sharpened by the truth which is our freedom, a truth that exposes false compassion and justice in order to become the basis for a humbled people, arising to become His Body, broken for one another.

We confessed together: what the Church upholds about sexual wholeness, she has often failed to live. The compromised Body has allowed her mouth to be gagged, her hands tied by the lie that ‘gay is good’; she has opted to be ‘nice’, not morally beautiful, in her response to those with SSA.

Though the Bride has shrunk back from her own inheritance, the Bridegroom is raising up churchmen and women who are willing to stand upon the truth, to embody it. Might we become an expression of the Gospel so splendid and stern that it has power to welcome home the prodigal, and to raise the sin-sick from the dead?

Together we admitted we had been broken by the world’s version of homosexuality. Together we arose in unity to manifest the emerging beauty of our true humanity. Jesus is preparing us, His broken Body, to become an army whose offense lies solely in the beauty of Jesus, the ground and crown of our freedom.

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