A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

October 31: Transformation of Desire

‘Therefore I urge you, brothers, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ (Rom. 12: 1, 2)

Our wounds and lusts must pass through the fire of the Cross. Holy love purges every disciple. And every part of us is impacted by the fire. He who withholds no good thing from us asks that we yield up everything to the flames so that what is false might be exposed and burned up. What remains is the truth: the golden, imperishable truth of the self that lives only in grateful dependence upon Jesus.

The purging that prepares us for deeper, more authentic communion with our Bridegroom can only be described as a wound of love. It is born of love and intended to anchor us more securely in love alone.

Here we can and must draw from two vital traditions. Evangelicals are utterly clear in the Cross as the way to salvation—God’s costly yet free gift in the God who shed His blood to reclaim our lives. Catholics tend to emphasize the sanctifying work of the Cross as we imitate Christ in following Him through the sufferings of this life. The fire of divine love insists on both: we enter in through the fire of Another’s obedience and we are changed as we surrender to those flames. We enter through the Cross and we become like Him as we accept the little crosses that wound us and invite us to lean on our Beloved.

Through the fire we are changed. Conversion is a lifetime process of cleansing and being conformed to Himself. I experience this in two ways. My love for others has changed as I become aware of many motives that draw me toward some and distance me from others. Jesus purifies me constantly in love of neighbor so that my offering to persons I serve might be purely good.

That is especially true of love for persons to whom I am sexually attracted. I must ask myself: am I willing to sacrifice what pleases me in order to give another what (s)he needs? My King teaches me to be self-aware and yet impartial, motivated by the other’s good (including my wife’s!) I shall carry that good cross all my days, for love’s sake.

Secondly, I ask Jesus for His heart constantly for His Church, His Bride. It is all too easy to mutter against her or simply to detach from her due to myriad disappointments. I ask Jesus constantly for His desire for her to become mine, which requires that He purge me of cool love. Through a painting, He gave me a vision of a beautiful bride in white, who had stumbled then tumbled into a stream.

She looked startled as she sat with a torn and muddied dress in a couple feet of water. Broken by the fall, she was nevertheless exquisite and right in the middle of where she needed to be—the cleansing flow of Her Bridegroom’s love for her.

We are her; to love her is to have mercy on ourselves. In this long engagement, in between betrothal and consummation with our King, we do well to welcome His cleansing and extend it quickly to His members on either side of us in the stream.

Please join us as we pray for:

1. Georgia, Bev Gammalo – Coordinator: For strength and vision for Bev, for existing groups and to see new groups established.

2. Aguas Vivas: Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Miguel & Elisabeth – Coordinators: Direction for timing and team for future groups as they finish second ContraCorriente pilot with church leaders.

3. RHN: CPR Outreach, Sheila Wisler, acting director: search for a new director and whether to attend Living Waters training.

“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!”



November 1: Becoming Icons

‘Let us consider how we may provoke one another to love and good deeds.’ (Heb. 10:24)

We go through the fire of God’s refining love in order to know Him more. We endure the shame of exposing our idols to Him and to others so we can be whole; our integration as persons depends on worship of the true God, not many false ones. We admit our losses and disappointments, especially with the Church, in order for God to tenderize our otherwise hardening hearts.

The result of love’s fire? We become more like Him, clear-enough icons who can reveal Jesus to our fellow Christians. Together, we iconic ones display a radiant mosaic to a world who will perish without us. That’s right: without the revelation of a trustworthy, welcoming Church, the world has not a chance.

Still enslaved by devotion to mere creatures, I beheld the witness of my two brothers who had become Christians. Lit from within, their sullen, bullying tendencies began to change; they became kind and caring, concerned for my well-being rather than mocking my gender brokenness. They became iconic. Jesus drew me to Himself through their transformed lives.

Many years later, having been subject to many refining fires, I still need icons. I meet regularly with a small team of people, including my beautiful wife, who prayerfully direct our ministry. They love me well. Each has witnessed my weaknesses in pitiful action and yet has not rejected me. Instead, they have sought to shore up our efforts with compassion, humble service, and the occasional correction. That team is nothing less than Jesus to me.

Welcoming icons, I become one myself. I marvel at how God employs me to call captives out of exile. He uses my imperfect presence to reveal Jesus to persons far away. A few days ago, I ran into an old friend who had apparently fallen away from the faith. The ache in his eyes conveyed how badly he wanted to come home to Jesus. By the end of our brief encounter God had enkindled a holy fire in his heart.

God refines us to make us pure-enough conduits of His mercy. We are each stained glass windows: glorious colors a bit muted by the sorrows of life and yet uniquely tinted by them. In the light of His love for us, these colors blaze and ignite saints and sinners alike. Nothing surpasses the joy of revealing to others the One who called us out of darkness and into His glorious light (1 Pet. 2:9).

‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as we see the Day approaching.’

(Heb. 10:25).

Please join us as we pray for:

  1. South, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Dean Greer – Coordinator: For new regional leadership to be identified and raised-up, for existing groups and to see new groups established.
  2. Aguas Vivas: Baja California and Cuernavaca, Mexico: Guidance, wisdom and stamina for Maite at DSM/LW as she encourages and helps leaders to start ContraCorriente groups
  3. RHN: Transforming Congregations, Karen Booth, Monroe, WI: Continued healing and recovery from knee surgery. Refreshment and revitalization during four months of sabbatical, 9/14 – 1/15. Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, Regina Griggs, Reedsville, VA: For the fulfillment of the Lord’s purposes for the ministry.

“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!”



November 2: He Sees, He Seeks, He Saves

And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given Me…For My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal Life…’ (Jn 6: 39, 40)

Jesus saves the lost: homeless ones on whom God’s favor rests. To do so, He employs the Church—clear-enough icons—to look with eyes of blazing love on them. Though the Gospel passage (JN 6) points to the sinner’s need to look to Jesus, such repentance is a response to the Eyes of love which scour the universe and lay claim to His wayward creation. How kind of God to help us to see the lost as He does—wanderers looking for home.

My amazing mother looked with eyes of love on me when I declared to her my ‘gay self.’ She looked with tearful compassion and simply said: ‘I wanted more for you.’ ‘More?’ I thought, ‘What lies beyond my new sensational world?’ The mystery of ‘more’ quietly highlighted my malaise and prepared me for the One who never ceased to see me, and seek me, as His son.

The prevailing lie in the gay community at that time was that the Church was a liar’s prison—a hateful, repressive place that created hypocrites. The enemy had blinded our eyes to the One who looked at us in order to secure us in love. Today I seek to be a true icon of the Church—a welcoming, trustworthy window—that grants sinners a glimpse of the One longing for their return to Him.

I have formed a friendship with a ‘gay‘-identified man who like most of us has work and family-related troubles. I pray for him often and give him occasional words of encouragement from the Father. The other day he replied: ‘I did not think God cared about my life.’ The Church knows otherwise and has the responsibility to clear such debris from lost hearts.

We must ask Jesus for renewed passion in looking for the lost, and seeing them with His eyes. The sure mark of lukewarm faith is a failure to care about other’s eternal destinies. Self-concern causes us to lose sight of others. Lukewarm Christians also can assume falsely that everyone ‘makes it to heaven’ (a popular myth in Catholic culture) or simply by assuming that such an effort is God’s business. It is the business of the Church.

With urgency, let us pray that we as the Church would become a clear and compassionate icon of the God who sees, seeks, and saves the lost.

‘Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no delight in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!’ (EZ. 18: 31, 32)

Please join us as we pray for:

  1. Conferences: For our 2015 conferences, scheduled in Reseda, CA and proposed in Chicago, Virginia and Ohio
  2. Aguas Vivas: Bocono, Venezuela, Betsy – Coordinator: Grace and all they need to run their group in the midst of a highly unstable political climate.
  3. RHN: Apokata Psychotherapy, Robert Brennan, San Francisco, CA: Divine strategy for encountering resistance in clients that is backed by strongholds. Also for more of God’s presence in the counseling room. New Hope Ministries, Howard Hervey, San Rafael, CA: Lord’s direction for the ministry; new vision and purpose for New Hope. Also for growth for their support group.

“Courage for Pope Francis, that he would ensure that the Church becomes a clear fountain of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction!”



November 3: Runaway Bride

‘The bridal figure of the Samaritan woman represents the people of God, all of them…’ Grant Pitre

During these forty days we are praying that Jesus might give us more of His heart for His bride the Church. Pray we must: without her winsome clarity, the world will not see Jesus! We are challenged by the fact that we are praying for a huge, often fractured body of people, which includes ourselves. Those very fractures may help us. If we can own them as ours and welcome the healing we need as representatives of the bride, then we can become a gift of mercy for ‘her’, the greater body of Christ.

To understand that mercy, we at Desert Stream/Living Waters draw constantly from the story of the Samaritan woman (Jn 4:1-42) who Jesus encounters in order to give her ‘living water.’ That gift is nothing less than the essence of Christ Crucified (blood and water for cleansing) and Resurrected (His Spirit of new life). You could say that ‘Living Water’ is the fulfillment of what Zechariah prophesied about Jesus’ piercing and the fountain released for cleansing and healing. Further, how Jesus relates to this woman demonstrates His enormous kindness and a well-aimed truth-telling that prepares her for the gift of ‘living water.’

Who is this woman? She is us, the bride! I was deeply moved and helped by Dr. Pitre’s compelling case for the Samaritan woman as a bridal ‘type’ established in Scripture and Hebraic tradition.

Drawing from Pitre’s insights, we have already explored how Jesus’ release of Life at Calvary was a wedding vow, His pledge of allegiance to His people. Pitre applies the prophetic story in JN 4 as a glimpse of how Jesus wants to pour out ‘living waters’–the essence of Calvary–to His bride, the Church. He writes: ‘Jesus words to the Samaritan woman about living waters can help lead us to a deeper understanding of who the bride is and how her sins are cleansed by His passion on the Cross.’

Pitre cites numerous occasions in the Old Testament where a future bridegroom meets his bride-to-be at a well, just as Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (e.g. Moses and Zipporah/Isaac and Rebekkah/Jacob and Rachel). Further, it was not unusual in these encounters for the man to be alien to the woman, a foreigner. Pitre writes of this Old Testament tradition as a kind of quotient: ‘Male foreigner + Woman + Well=Betrothal.’

Consider the alienation between Hebrew Jesus and the Samaritan woman, who would have been stunned that a holy Jew would engage with her at all. A little history may help us to understand this. In 772BC, the idolatrous Assyrians conquered the 10 tribes of Israel, scattered them then settled in uneasy spiritual union with the Jews in the land of Samaria (2 Kings 17). Samaritan persons resulted from the unlawful merging of Assyrians and Jews. You could say that the Samaritans reminded ‘pure’ Jews of their historic failure with the Assyrians!

Conceived in shame, Samaritans struggled to offer pure worship to God. Their awareness of the true and living God was blunted and mocked by their devotion to the pagan gods introduced to them by the Assyrians.

The Samaritan woman knew that a holy Jewish man would scorn her for these compromises. Tradition compelled him to remain far from her as to not compromise himself. So Jesus’ kind offer to this woman of ‘living water’ would have astounded her. Deeper still, the whole encounter is nothing less that God’s spousal love for His compromised people. “Living Water’ is an invitation to a bridal bath! John 4 describes the God who came to reclaim His runaway bride.

Please join us as we pray for:

  1. Church Unity/Ecumenical Spirit : Unity in the body of Christ as Living Waters is offered in both Catholic and Protestant churches. Also for an ecumenical spirit to be strengthened and encouraged throughout each community running Living Waters.
  2. Aguas Vivas: Southern California, Los Angeles area, Maria, Pilar, Zefereino and team: For discernment and wisdom as far as the best church covering for upcoming Aguas Vivas group.
  3. RHN: For Anne Paulk, as Executive Director, protection and provision for her and her three sons and extended family.

“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!”



October 27th: Icons

‘Adam and Eve saw the glory of God in the human body…because they saw the body not just as a physical object but as a transparent sign of the whole mystery of the other as “person” made in the divine image.’ Christopher West

Every human being is a window to the divine. Creatures testify to their Creator. I behold in my wife an embodiment of God’s glorious ‘mother heart’—soft and strong, welcoming and fruitful; in a best friend I behold God’s generative power in bodily design and psychological focus.

God is a genius, and that genius is reflected in humanity. We all believe this: we are united in our belief that God made humanity in His image (Gen. 1:26, 27). Yet we are perhaps too quick to distance ourselves from each other as to not get snagged on sin—the broken image–yours, mine and ours. But plastering over the window because of its dirt or crack seems extreme. Might we still see God through our fellows? In avoiding the potential for sin, are we avoiding God?

At Church I glimpse reminders of Jesus through His representation in the saints. I am surrounded there by blessedly imperfect bearers of the divine image. If I am looking I catch sight of God: the handsome father of two disabled kids whose main ministry is serving his family, a lovely woman who alone cares for her aging father and requests prayers for patience with a smile, the priest whose physical affliction makes it hard for him to walk but whose mind and voice is strong enough to convert a stadium full of seekers.

These ‘icons’ make God known through their bodies; I can ‘see’ through their ‘flesh’ the greater spiritual meaning they represent. I cannot divorce their bodily humanity from the Spirit that indwells them. God shines through a body.

In the theological tradition of the East, icons are holy insofar as they serve the sacramental purpose of making visible what is invisible. In other words, they are good to the degree that these created images point to the Creator. In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict: ‘Icons lead us beyond the mere material level, awaken new senses in us, and teach us a new kind of seeing, which can see the Invisible in the visible.’ May God open our eyes to human windows of the divine.

Please join us as we pray for:

1. Pennsylvania, Jeff Comeaux, Coordinator: For strength and vision for Jeff, for existing groups and to see new groups established. Also, grace for preparations for RHN conference in Lancaster, 2015.

2. Aguas Vivas: Guadalajara, Mexico, Marisol, Coordinator: For wisdom as they meet to determine and plan for the start of the next Aguas Vivas group.

3. RHN: His Wonderful Works, Dee Barnes, Conyer, GA: Grace and blessing in series of educational outreach events. Carolina New Song, Bud Phaup, Columbia, SC: Life transitions and future of ministry.

“Courage for Pope Francis, that he would ensure that the Church becomes a clear fountain of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction!”


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