Category: Fast

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Irresistible

In these last couple weeks of our fast, I’ve had the privilege of making two trips to the Northeast where I witnessed the irresistible splendor of Jesus in His Church, both evangelical and Catholic. The Spirit is stirring up His saints, girding them in truth and welling up like living water to grant the gender broken a better Word. One can have any number of freedoms and still be a slave! Jesus alone frees the sin-shackled and makes us true sons and daughters of the one Father.

In Pennsylvania, I gathered with a group of priests who meet regularly to share their sexual vulnerabilities and the healing love that sets them free; in New York City and New Jersey I gathered with turned-on Korean-Americans who are as committed to becoming whole as they are becoming good news for their LGBT+ friends. I spent most of my time in the borough of Queens where I invested in a church renowned for its efforts at creating emotionally healthy community and fostering racial reconciliation. Stunningly so! Yet the pastors have the wisdom to know the difference between ethnicity and gender identity issues; they celebrate a diversity of tribes and tongues while refusing the ‘gender spectrum’ ideology that fractures God’s children. Mercy welled up as we testified of His unfailing love that reconciles us to our true humanity—male and female–in this one body.

Before setting off for these trips, I had the privilege of assisting at the Mass celebrating the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. It is my favorite feast of the church year, as it is the only one that celebrates the Church herself: the irresistible splendor of Jesus revealed in His body. As I read from Ezekiel 47 about the water levels rising in the temple until the saints are immersed and flowing out into the world in order to heal and feed the broken (‘their fruit shall serve for food and their leaves for medicine’, EZ 47: 12), I realized that this is our mission. It is being fulfilled as we gather and lift up Jesus as Healer!

In all of our Northeast gatherings, I fielded questions from countless saints who face increasingly complex hardships due to LGBT+ demands: the deacon working with a nominal Christian family whose 4-year-old daughter showed up in Sunday School as a boy, the assistant male youth leader who announced his ‘transition’ to womanhood, the influential minister now ‘gay married’ and adopting children while extolling the joys of ‘gay Christianity’, the worker whose ‘gay’ boss firmly encourages his employees to stick rainbow emblems on their office doors, and many who simply want to know how to care for loved ones who now live under the rainbow. As we prayed at every meeting for Jesus to come and show us His way–the mercy that is ours only as we enter through the gate of His body and blood shed for us in the one body–the water levels rose and immersed us in the divine love that breaks human enslavement. We bring a better Word endowed with power to save the gender broken. His love radiant in humbled, poured-out saints: Irresistible.

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Why Feast?

Fasting is about solidarity with those who suffer; in our self-emptying, we cry out for Jesus to restore them. He suffered; He now lives to heal the grieving. Thank you for praying alongside of us at DSM/LW as we get low to raise up an army of wounded healers—like Jesus, risen, ours wounds yet visible (JN 20:27; Rev. 5:6).

In the fight, glorious occasions arise that invite us out of the fast and into feasting. I announce to you the birth of my third grandchild, Jacob Andrew Comiskey, born on the Feast of St. Luke, October 18th to my youngest son Sam and wife Chelsea.

The day was as clear and bright as both parents. Annette and I took turns visiting them in the early hours of labor then waited at home. Sam texted that Chelsea was dilating fast: we raced to the hospital and breathlessly entered the delivery room (whether we should have or not) just in time to hear Jacob’s first cry, and to witness his first embrace on Chelsea’s breast. Glorious.

The nurses chased us out of the room where we and Chelsea’s fine parents waited for a few hours until we could spend time with Jacob. I considered how fitting this Feast Day was. St. Luke’s is the Gospel most inclined to expressions of extravagant mercy, from the Prodigal son turning slightly toward the Father who raced to embrace (and so cover) his son’s nakedness (LK 15), the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair under the scowl of the Pharisee (LK 7), the gardener who implored the landowner to give him time to make the barren tree fruitful (LK 13). Luke’s stories guide Sam’s story—the God who gave all to bring his wandering kid home. Sam’s Father fought for his fruitfulness.

Sam is a man of mercy because He lives in that merciful flow (JN 19: 34). He releases others through his generous self-giving, and most notably Chelsea. As we watched them marvel over their Jacob, I thought of how the Father blessed Jacob in Scripture with the dream—a stairway to heaven on which angels rose and fell—after which Jacob made his stone pillow an anointed pillar that signaled an open heaven, a portal to the divine on earth (Genesis 28).

As I witnessed Jacob surrounded by love on all sides, heaven opened. I experienced pure joy, as true as pure grief, only better, able to surpass suffering and turn the sorrowful into worshippers once more (IS 61:3). Fasting, we feast.

Join us for the ‘Becoming Good News for the Gender Challenged’ fast from Oct. 11th-Nov. 19th.

Download the Prayer Guide Below:

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For The Bride

For the Bride

This fall, we advance in three exciting ways for the Body of Christ. Desert Stream Ministries is about helping make the Church a transformational place for sinners, and ultimately, a chaste, merciful Bride for her Bridegroom.

Toward that end, we want to know about:

Our third Living Waters group at St. Thomas More parish in Kansas City
This is the first Catholic parish in America to take up the healing of sexually and relationally broken people. We have faced much resistance, and without help from the Kansas City/St. Joseph Diocese would not be gathering again this fall. God uses all refinement to make our offering more glorious.
We start Tuesday night September 27th.
To apply, contact Becky Turner at morelivingwaters@gmail.com.

Open to Life: Pastoral Equipping for Care of Persons with Same-Sex Attraction
This is a concise, practical, and hopeful 2-and- a-half hours for all Christian leaders who want to be faithful to Jesus in their care of persons facing homosexual issues.
Please calendar Wednesday morning on October 19th, from 930am to noon at St. Thomas More parish in Kansas City.
To register, contact Dean Greer at dgreer@desertstream.org.

Radiant: 40-Days of Prayer and Fasting for the Church, Oct. 12th-Nov. 20th
Desert Stream sponsors a fast at the end of the Catholic Church year every fall. This year, we shall be lifting up each Christian’s commitment to make the Body of Christ a merciful, truthful community for all persons, and ultimately, a Bride worthy of her Bridegroom. We will have a complete guide for this fast available by the end of September.

This fast can involve any kind of sacrifice you desire to make and requires 30 minutes every day for to pray for our pastors and the expansion of our limited love for the Church. We want to share Jesus’ heart for His beautiful, broken Bride.
For more info and a prayer guide, contact aarmstrong@desertstream.org.

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Before the Flood, Gratefully

One habit to which I attribute any good that comes from me is abiding before the Crucified. Each morning I awake to a Franciscan cross from which the flood of God’s mercy–blood, water and Spirit—flows graciously into an otherwise dry and stingy vessel. I remind myself that ‘without Him I can do nothing’ (JN 14:4). True that–don’t even try. Almighty God became a humble gift so I could be a good gift to others…nothing better. I then savor His gift to me in the Eucharist.

It’s not because I am dutiful that I pray and partake of daily mass; it’s because I am desperate. People like me who almost died due to bad habits and who can still hear sin’s drumbeat on the door need the daily gift of God in Christ. He is so willing, so kind; Jesus delights in availing Himself yet again to the hungry who want to feed others but who know that divine bread must be acquired daily.

So here’s to good habits that bring His presence near. He loves to come because He loves it when my wife gets a husband composed by divine love. I can help secure her in love when I am not obsessed with other hungers. Before the flood, I am well-fed and watered, gratefully.

My four kids, three daughters-in-law, and one grandchild on the way (yeah, it’s true) need no primary parenting but they still need us. And that’s the rub. We may have concerns but need to pray more than say and do stuff that might encroach on the ground God has given them. So we live before the flood, trusting God with our desires for their good lives. We delight in giving ourselves to these charter members of our home church. Nothing better, thank You God.

And the Desert Stream staff–Annette and I have the privilege of serving daily alongside a committed group of wounded healers who share our ‘love of the flood’ but who possess backgrounds and brokenness different enough from ours to keep us before the flood. We unite in the belief that our weaknesses are the threshold for God’s almighty mercy in the workplace. So we show up with hungry hearts and open hands and ask for the waters to rise among us. We live before the flood, gratefully.

God can withhold the waters whenever He wants. That’s the truth. When He deems our non-profit org. unprofitable, DSM is done. In the meantime, we ask for the waters to rise and to water many. We live before the flood, gratefully.

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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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