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family-redemption

Retrieving the Family from Synod’s ‘Gay Follies’

How is it that a fraction of the population manages to steal the beauty of family? According to media reports, one would think that the Synod on Family was little more than a battle for ‘gay rights’ in the Roman Catholic Church. Issues surrounding ‘gay-identified’ persons seemed to prevail, even though in its final report the synod rescinded its previous controversial references to homosexuality. In the end, only 2 of 62 paragraphs pertain to ‘pastoral care of persons with a homosexual orientation.’

The rest of the document is a marvel of Catholic truths and concerns for the whole family: sweeping topics like ‘the exaggerated individualism that perverts family ties’ (5) and how only ‘full commitment to Christian marriage can be an antidote to such individualism’(9), ‘children as the real victims of family snags’ (8) and potential victims of ‘the marketing of the body through Internet porn’ (10), how ‘a crisis of faith has led to our current crisis of marriage and family’ (32) and how we need testimonies in our parishes of seasoned families (39) who exhibit ‘an openness to life’ (57) and ‘how the indissolubility of marriage is a gift, not a yoke.’ (14)

Through the document runs a river of mercy, and an appeal to come alongside of persons who have fallen short of God’s best in any of these ways (and more), that they may be turn back to Jesus and be embraced by His Church.

Then why have we reduced the synod to a ‘gay’ culture war? Nothing new under the sun. For the last 40 years now, congresses of every mainline Protestant denomination in the USA have been divided and disempowered by ‘gay rights’ concerns. Eventually, persons of common sense who realize that Jesus loves persons with SSA so much that He calls them to more than the ‘gay’ status quo get tired and relent to the drive of activists who insist on ‘gay’ everything.

Every denomination who has relented in that way has essentially lost the power of the Gospel to define sexual purity and order and to transform persons who are impure and disordered. Sounds like we have a common enemy who will do anything to distract us from what really matters, and to divide us on what does not.

We all agree that there are really wonderful people with same-sex attraction. And we are fools to give them ‘sacred status’ as if they did not have to repent like the rest of us and get on with the business of picking up their crosses and following Jesus. Chastity is a common good and Christian goal that applies to all persons.

Please pray with us at Desert Stream Ministries as we continue our 40-days of prayer for the Church at large. Pray that the enemy will be overcome as the Church centers on redeeming the family and not appeasing the ‘gay agenda.’ Pray that this Synod and its report will bear fruit as it is deliberated upon in preparation for the larger and more conclusive gathering on the family to be held in Philadelphia, October of 2015.

Unto Ceasar

October 19: What the State Cannot Do

‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’ (Matt. 15:21)

As Christians, we have a commitment to all persons; we must seek to assess and act on behalf of what is best for everyone. ‘The common good’ refers to that discernment, and sums up our responsibility as citizens in the public sphere.

Here we wrestle with thankless political realities. Which candidate and/or issue best reflects who and what are best for everyone? No easy answers here and those we choose may conflict with the Christian next door. No matter; differences in opinion do not release us from responsibility in the public sphere, from acting according to conscience.

I struggle with that responsibility; in truth, I am a sluggish political animal at best. I shy away from our system as I tend to think most politicians pander to popular opinion rather than stand in the truth of what is best. Prophets tend not to get elected. Perhaps all the more reason for thoughtful Christians to be truthful, vocal, and countercultural!

When we know something is from God and we stand for it publicly we render to God what is His. For example, we at DSM value marriage; we believe that God ordained marriage for creating and raising children. Politically, we view marriage as a common good for all citizens. In spite of a deluge of opinion to the contrary, we are certain that redefining marriage will have a corrosive impact on generations-to-come. Our tenuous grasp on gender order and clarity will be further loosened by ‘gay marriage.’ So we believe that curbing personal rights (a ‘gay’ person’s right to marry) is just. Such a limit contributes to the common good.

What then can Caesar (the government) not accomplish? In other words, what does Jesus mean when He implores us to give Caesar his due (in contrast to God’s)? I will answer in the negative: that means we recognize that the state cannot intrinsically change the hearts of its citizens. The state cannot make us good. Truthful laws limit us, mirror our folly, and may level us. Yet only God can raise us up.

We are back to the Cross, aren’t we? Its logic has been sown deeply into the hearts of men and women through the Church–her preaching of Christ Crucified — ‘God died and God now lives.’ In and through Him, the Church invites us to surrender to the same God and become fruitful in the power that catapulted Jesus from the tomb. All we must do is count ourselves dead to our lawlessness, our folly, our self-serving presumptions. No small shift. A costly pivot and path, made possible by Jesus Himself.

The state cannot mandate the Cross. God chose freely to save us on that Cross, and every person must be free to either embrace or refuse its rhythm. We cannot make the state a church. Yes, we can and should champion what we believe is best for all. And Caesar may, or may not, represent our consciences well. Deeper still is our commitment to what only God can do through His Church. Only she can help establish us deeply in the way of the Cross. The goal: that surrender to the Crucified may give rise to righteousness, transformation from the inside out.

‘The Cross is a well-recognized truth—a living, real, and effective truth. It is buried in the soul like a seed that takes root there and grows, making a distinct impression on the soul, determining what it does and omits…From this living form and strength in one’s depths, a perspective of life arises–the image one has of God and of the world.’ St. Edith Stein, The Science of the Cross

Join us as we pray for:

1. Pacific Southwest Region, Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Don Sciortino, Coordinator: For strength and vision for Don Sciortino as well as existing groups in region.

2. Torrents de Vie (LW France): For the Lord to continue to strengthen and protect the leaders Werner & Charlotte and their team and for more male leaders to be raised up.

3. RHN: About Hope, Ted & Jan Schneider, Springdale, AR: prayer for those struggling with SSA attending parents group. Hope 2 Turn, Eric & Amanda Lundstrom, Rockford, IL: May all the men the Lord desires attend bi- monthly meeting in Elgin; for a will to change and breakthrough in Michael B’s life.

“Courage for Reverend Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury), 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 OCTOBER 19, 20, 21, 22

fountain-of-life

October 20: Fountain of Life from the Dying God

‘On the day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. On that day, I will banish the names of the idols and…the spirit of impurity from the land.’ (Zech. 13:1, 2)

Zechariah prophesies that the One pierced for our sins upon whom we gaze and grieve is also the One whose death releases the Life that saves us. A cleansing fountain is Zechariah’s description of that ‘life’; St. John further describes that fountain as a river of ‘water and blood’ gushing from the Crucified (Jn 19:34).

Jesus does more than die in our place, substituting for the death our sins warrant. To be sure, His death cancels out our sin but we are left with the stain of sin—the truth of multiple violations encoded in our depths. Anyone made tender by Jesus’ love becomes sensitive to sin’s impact. No longer dull and stupefied by sin, we are horrified by what we have done to self and others. We need a bath that breaks impenetrable bonds. Only the fountain of Blood and Water can dissolve sin’s stronghold in our thoughts, affections, and memory.

I recently met with a small group of men who dared to expose sins which had tormented them for years. In the dark, these sins accused them daily. Certain of their monstrous state, these men brought their monsters before the Crucified to be killed, drowned in Love’s flood. I had not experienced this strength of exposure and cleansing in years.

Gratefully, in the parish chapel was a ‘dispenser’ of Holy Water; I liberally applied it to my brothers. As I did these words (Heb. 10:19-22) came to mind: ‘Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place through the blood of Jesus…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience, our bodies washed with pure water.’ Not seeking to replace any man’s priest or pastor, I nevertheless knew that as brothers we had invoked the power of baptism upon sins never confessed.

Pierced for our sins, Jesus’ released a river of blood and water. He intends for that flood to penetrate the depths of our sin and break its grip. He aims at the violations that still assault and accuse us. Through confession to our elders, through prayer with one another, the sheer power of His blood cancels out the effect of evil and sets captives free.

‘You give us drink from Your river of delights. For with You is the fountain of Life.’ (Ps 37: 8, 9)

Join us as we pray for:

1. Rocky Mountain Region, New Mexico, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Cindy Del Hierro – Coordinator: For strength and vision for Cindy, for existing groups in the region and for new groups to be established.

2. Ministries of Pastoral Care (ministriesofpastoralcare.com):For the international schools and ministry, October 18-22, near Munich, Germany and for the local leaders including Christiane Mack; February 22-28, Auckland, New Zealand and for the local leaders including Gay Baretta; for MPC’s mission to South Korea and for the local leaders including Pastor Lee Jae Hoon.

3. New York City Diocese: Discernment for timing and team of new Living
Waters group.

“Courage for Pastor Phil Strout (National Director of Vineyard USA), 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 OCTOBER 19, 20, 21, 22

freedom

October 21: Freedom from Sin is Freedom for Life

‘The Cross becomes a new center of gravity for bringing together what is divided.’ Pope Emeritus Benedict

Anyone who wrestles with sexual sin (or been impacted by those who do) understands the divided soul. On the one hand, we long to give ourselves to others meaningfully, with integrity; on the other hand, we are driven and derided by vanities. These addictions are distortions of what is good—each of us, no matter what our sins, has ceased to be a good gift for others. But split off from that value, our needs for love and significance become mistaken for erotic ones and we cease to do the hard work necessary to value a whole person. Divided souls unwittingly divide others and become users.

The good news: Jesus Christ has the last word on disordered desire. In his amazing book ‘Heart of the Gospel’, Christopher West contends that Christ’s death and resurrection can transform our desires by liberating our hearts from the domination of lust. No matter how deep the soul’s divide, or the misbegotten desires that flow from it: Jesus longs to unite Himself to our humanity and so restore His life-giving purposes for it.

That has huge implications for our sexuality, as God has given our bodies, in the words of John Paul ll, the awesome power ‘to express love, and precisely that love in which the human person becomes a gift and through this gift fulfills the very nature of his being and existence.’

God reconciles us to the gift that we are! For me, that means that I am not free unless I am reconciled to the generative, focused power of my masculine sexuality and am intent on working that out lovingly in relation to the opposite gender. No small thing for a person divided by gender inferiority and same-gender attraction! The same applies to a woman who for very good reasons has no reason to believe that a man is or could be a good gift to her humanity.

That man has come, and His name is Christ Jesus. His purpose at Calvary was to pull up the dividing walls of sin (in all its facets) and to unite one new humanity (Eph.2:14-18). That applies both to our personal and interpersonal commitments. I can say without shadow that the unity my wife and I experience after 33 years together has become the earthy, creative ground of our common existence. Its abundance leaves ‘gay’ life in the dust.

Let’s not empty the Cross of its power. For the ‘homosexual’ and others under lust’s power, the Gospel is life-shaking, life-giving news.

Join us as we pray for:

1. Texas, Dean Greer, Coordinator: For new regional leadership to be identified and raised-up, for existing groups and for new groups to be established.

2. Christian Concern (www.christianconcern.org) United Kingdom: For the Lord’s protection and provision for Christian Concern as they stand for religious freedom in a secular society.

3. Syracuse Diocese: Discernment for timing and team of new Living Waters group.

“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 OCTOBER 19, 20, 21, 22

community-of-the-cross

October 22: Community of the Cross

The healing power of the Cross remains a mere idea unless we discover that Cross in community. That means finding safe places in our local churches where we can be known in our dirty ‘divides. ’ These are the facets of our lives where we need to be saved. Yes, we may well be earnest Christians in our beliefs and spiritual practices. Our very commitment to Jesus compels us to come boldly to His throne.

We contend together: ‘Jesus, restore what is broken! Cleanse what resists You! Let me know the fruit of Your suffering in mine!’

For 18 months, several of us prayed that such a group for sexual healing might begin at our local parish. God encouraged us as we waited. While standing in line to partake of the Eucharist–the fruit of the Cross—I looked behind me and saw our intercessors. One was a man abused by a priest, another was a woman facing the challenge of a gay-identified loved one; further down was a man admitting to porn addiction, near him a woman seeking to overcome same-sex attraction.

In a way that complements the nearness of God in the elements, I experienced the nearness of God in His broken body. Somehow the faces of our ‘Gideon’s army’ made real the Cross: we gather in brokenness before the One who makes all things new. It released hope to me. As we partake of the Eucharistic mystery together, might we also share our sufferings together? Are we not members of His body, broken for one another? God envisioned me that morning of how He wanted to penetrate our sufferings with His own. As we humble ourselves before one another, will He not be faithful to meet us in mercy, and to raise us up, with healing in His wings (Mal. 4:2)?

My pastors agreed that we needed a Living Waters group at our parish. As soon as they said ‘yes’, the Holy Spirit began to gather people. I can now see that it was simply Jesus fulfilling His words to St. Peter when He promised that hell would not prevail against the Church (Matt. 16:18). Put another way: heaven will invade earth through Christians who, following the Crucified, humble themselves before one another. Together we experience the stirrings of new life. The community of the Cross—the Church—is the birthplace of the new creation.

‘Jesus ‘gave up His Spirit’ (Jn 19:30), which means He drew His last breath and died, but also that He gave forth His Spirit, the Holy Spirit! The last breath of the Jesus became the first breath of the Church! Redemption means not just the remission of sins but also the gift of new life in the Spirit.’ R.Cantalamessa

Join us as we pray for:

1. Midwest Region, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Laura Leigh Stanlake – Coordinator: Strength and vision for Laura, for existing groups and to see new groups established.

2. Core Issues Trust (www.core-issues.org) United Kingdom, Michael Davidman: For continued momentum to ensure good ongoing pastoral care for persons with same-sex attraction in the UK.

3. Denver Diocese: Discernment for timing and team of new Living Waters group.

“Courage for Reverend Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury), 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 OCTOBER 19, 20, 21, 22

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