Category: Fast

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Wedding Prep

Last week I discovered some unexpected momentum for our prayer/fasting time. While wondering how I might keep a prayerful focus amid our intensive Living Waters Training week, which ended just in time for my youngest son Sam’s wedding, a team member (thanks Tom Wright!) prophesied: ‘Everything about this training and wedding weekend will remind you of God’s faithfulness to Sam.’

In reflection, prophesy fulfilled. God gave all for my son Sam and gained him. In the process, Annette and I gained Chelsea, an extraordinary daughter-in-law.

While teaching at the onset of training on ‘The Fighting Father’, I recalled how God’s Spirit quickened Annette and I to fight for Sam’s dignity. He strayed far from the Father’s house; I remembered that afternoon on a freezing January morning when I realized how lost Sam was. Somehow God’s grief over the darkness in his life overtook me. I pulled into a nearby Catholic parish, knelt at a pew and prayed out in deep, tearful groans for an hour or so. Annette and I kept praying similarly for Sam throughout the winter.

The following year, Sam came into the light through some tough love on our part and an amazing group of young adults he connected with early on in his repentance. Like any addictive soul, Sam had setbacks en route to holiness and needed to learn the value of living in the light, no matter how painful it is to confess sins to one’s faith community. As I taught on confession at the training, I recalled Sam’s halting willingness to come clean and so break the chains of habitual sin.

Jesse, one of Sam’s amazing Christian friends, shared at the rehearsal dinner of a season when Sam refused to connect with him. Jesse had a dream in which he was trying to speak to Sam but Sam could not hear him, as if he were deaf. Jesse kept trying to connect with Sam unsuccessfully until out-of-the-blue Sam called Jesse, confessed his sins, and enlisted his help in overcoming the sin through their fellowship. Through the prayers of the saints, God quickened Sam to enlist the help of a community. It takes a village to overcome life-defining habits.

Sam kept growing in love with Jesus and soon met his beautiful wife-to-be, Chelsea. Now strengthened in fellowship by a host of great guys, Sam was ready to love a real, dimensional woman. He needed to learn to love a woman in the whole of her being, not just because she’s ‘hot’ but because she is worthy of love. Period. As I taught on true masculinity at the training, I recalled how Sam’s training in faithful fellowship had resulted in his treating Chelsea with dignity. That he does: he helps secure her in love, and she in turn blesses him with honor.

Sam’s strength and Chelsea’s beauty were on vivid display the whole wedding weekend. Radiant in love, they also displayed an ease and familiarity with each other that bodes well for the long haul. They are Christ followers who have committed themselves with eyes wide open to say ‘yes’ to each other daily, in feast and famine.

Everyone who shared in their wedding was somehow brought closer to Jesus. Maybe St. Paul was right when he compared marriage to the wedding of Christ and Church. Sam and Chelsea’s unity ushered us into intimacy with Almighty Beauty Himself.

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False Peace, True Intimacy

As we proceed on our 40 days of prayer/fasting for loved ones, we discover a marvelous truth: prayer leads to intimacy with God. Simply being in His presence revives the soul. The God who gave all to gain us grants us a share in His generosity. Our stingy prayers swell with mercy for persons most in need of it. Prayerful intimacy makes us fruitful once more.

The peace of His Presence contrasts with the holy unrest we feel when we entertain false intimacy. That includes turning back to distorted images of self and others in order to pleasure ourselves. Illicit sensuality mimics the Spirit of God. In the moment, we feel sensationally connected to what appears divine.

We are all too aware of persons who have left faith and family for false intimacy. We have all heard the stories: ‘No-one ever loved me the way (s)he does’; ‘how could something that feels so right be wrong?’ etc. That is especially true of persons exercising new freedom to be ‘out and proud’ with same-sex partners. Such ones have come under a false peace born of the devil himself. Yes, the devil. The author of lies smokes out vulnerable ones whom he can deceive into forsaking all for intimacy that produces only spiritual barrenness and impotency.

Of this false peace St. Teresa of Avila writes: ‘When such persons of the world remain quiet, while going about in serious sin, and so tranquil about their vices, for their consciences don’t feel remorseful about anything, their peace is a sign that they and the devil are friends. While they live, the devil does not wage war against them.’

We must pray that deceived ones will hunger once more for His real Presence. We can pray that Christians will love them generously in ways that surpass fickle lovers. We can pray for the Holy Spirit to ‘paint the dragon red’ and so reveal to beloved captives the dark spirits vying for their souls.

And we who are vulnerable to false intimacy must rely wholly on the merciful, fearsome God who upholds us in true peace as we cling to Him and refuse the seduction of the world. Christians are safe only to the degree that we prayerfully make themselves homes for Him. In all humility, we recognize that ‘the devil could begin to offer us another peace in small things, so while we live, we must fear the Lord.’ (St. Teresa of Avila)

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Open Door to Chastity: Beginning Again in Argentina

‘See, I have placed before you an open door that cannot be shut’ (Rev. 3:8).

The free and demanding door to chastity cannot be shut. It remains eternally open because God is the doorkeeper and He loves to usher His children into sexual wholeness. Wholeness is chastity: the integration of our spirituality and sexuality that frees us to accept the solid ‘gendered’ gifts we are, guarded by self-control and thus liberated to be generous and impartial in love for others.

Many people gathered at our ‘Aquas Vivas’ conference last weekend in Cordoba Argentina. Brave men and women filled the Sacred Heart auditorium and dared to hope again for chaste lives. Their innocence struck down but not destroyed, they knocked and Jesus became for them the open door to chastity.

Roderigo confessed a heart of stone due to a dad who fathered three families and left his mother bereft. He cried over her suffering for years until his heart hardened and he walled off the Church and his own commitment to chastity. This weekend a light dawned. Much as he hated his dad, he realized he was following his path. He wants more: he wants the chaste way of life only Jesus can show him.

My part in his process? Roderigo figured ‘if Jesus could help a homo change, there must be hope for him.’ So be it. I was helped by a beautiful team of Cordobans (and three saints from the Vineyard in Santiago Chile) who run Aguas Vivas there, each with a distinct witness of how Jesus made them faithful. Each person’s witness of hope proved hopeful to all. Personal resurrections, well-expressed, inspire new life in everyone.

This open door in Cordoba had special meaning for myself and Aguas Vivas leader Maite Rodriguez. For ten years until 2011, Cordoba had been the base for Aquas Vivas in South America. We relied upon a team of Pentecostal saints there; Cordoba became a ‘home away from home’ for me and I fell in love with its rich history and warm people.

When I became a Catholic over 4 years ago, the Cordobans could not in good conscience tolerate this change. They refused my leadership and the door closed. My last trip to Cordoba—an effort to build an ecumenical bridge–failed dismally. I left in grief and supposed I would never enter her splendid Spanish gates again.

When Desert Stream/Aquas Vivas regrouped to equip Latin America with a more thorough ecumenical approach, the first group to apply for our training in Mexico City was from Cordoba. Notably, one of the priests from a Catholic charismatic community there came with several lay persons and led the way by diving into the healing waters himself. Three years later, the Cordobans have emerged as an inspired, trustworthy team. Maite and I relished the welcome they gave us and look forward to ongoing partnership with our new family in Cordoba.

While we were there, we had the privilege of meeting the bishop who oversees the group. He loves Aguas Vivas and encouraged us ‘to release the waters’ to all persons, not only Catholics.

The bishop understands that chastity is a gift and a goal for all persons seeking freedom. Chastity is an open door for each Christian, an open door that cannot be shut because He is the gatekeeper. How grateful we are to re-enter the gates of Cordoba and make known once more the ever-open door.

‘Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through His body…let us draw near to God with full assurance of faith, having our hearts cleansed from a guilty conscience, our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to our hope, for He who promised is faithful’ (Heb. 10: 19-23).

For a pdf of the prayers for the Return to the Father 40 Day Fast please click here.

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Return to the Father: 40-Days of Prayer/Fasting for Lost Loved Ones

‘The mercy of God is not an abstract idea but a concrete reality through which He reveals His love as that of a mother or father, moved to the very depths out of love for their child.’ Pope Francis, The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

The dark powers that drive our ‘gay marriage’ culture have effectively skewed the meaning of justice, compassion and human dignity. More personally, we witness our loved ones caught in the undertow of these dark waters. Many of you now face painful relationships with persons you love due to a clash of moral values.

Good friends, sons and daughters, spouses, parents, entire faith communities are now ‘out and proud’; we grieve over an alien spirit that has overtaken them. We whose brokenness led us to cleave to Christ know that only He can liberate the conflicted heart.

But what can we do? We cannot make another’s moral or spiritual choice. But we can pray! Join us at Desert Stream Ministries for 40 days from Oct. 14-Nov. 22 as we cry out for mercy on behalf of lost loved ones. Just as nothing pierces our hearts more than their distress, nothing pierces God’s heart more. He longs for their return to His loving care more than we do.

Please download the PDF we are including in this entry. There is a small devotional for each of the 40 days; using this prayer guide, we on the DSM/LW staff will be praying in person every day at 3pm cst for a host of friends on the en route to Jesus and His Church. Would you join us? Just plug in the handful of friends you are most concerned about, and we will fight together for their wholeness in Christ.

As we deepen in prayer, we begin to see how He is converting us through others’ distress. Our sometimes shrill self-righteousness is giving way to a humble brokenness that invites mercy.

We would ask as you pray with us that you give up something of value during these days. As you go without, we ask that God would grant you the freedom to linger a bit in His presence. Let whatever ‘hunger’ you experience be a reminder of the greater need someone else has for your merciful prayers.

Click here to download the 40 Day Devotional PDF.

Download PDF

Return to the Father: 40-Days of Prayer/Fasting for Lost Loved Ones

‘The mercy of God is not an abstract idea but a concrete reality through which He reveals His love as that of a mother or father, moved to the very depths out of love for their child.’ Pope Francis, The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

The dark powers that drive our ‘gay marriage’ culture have effectively skewed the meaning of justice, compassion and human dignity. More personally, we witness our loved ones caught in the undertow of these dark waters. Many of you now face painful relationships with persons you love due to a clash of moral values.

Good friends, sons and daughters, spouses, parents, entire faith communities are now ‘out and proud’; we grieve over an alien spirit that has overtaken them. We whose brokenness led us to cleave to Christ know that only He can liberate the conflicted heart.

But what can we do? We cannot make another’s moral or spiritual choice. But we can pray! Join us at Desert Stream Ministries for 40 days from Oct. 14-Nov. 22 as we cry out for mercy on behalf of lost loved ones. Just as nothing pierces our hearts more than their distress, nothing pierces God’s heart more. He longs for their return to His loving care more than we do. Only the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit can reorient them according to His best for their lives.

And He delights in our entrusting to Him the fear and strife that distorts the beautiful mercy He has entrusted to us. He frees us from ‘God-playing’ and frees us for faithful reliance upon Himself. As we deepen in prayer, we begin to see how He is converting us through the distress of another; our sometimes shrill self-righteousness is giving way to a humble brokenness that invites mercy.

By the first week of October, you will receive a PDF of a 40-day prayer guide. Drawing daily upon Psalm 116, we will reflect upon how merciful God has been to us in our sins and wounds; we will then ask Him for a double portion of that mercy to extend to loved ones far from the Father’s house. He awaits them and sees them this very moment. May God use these days to give us His sight and His heart for lost loved ones. May He make us a small answer to our own prayers.

We would ask as you pray with us that you give up something of value during these days. As you go without, we ask that God would grant you the freedom to linger a bit longer in His presence. Let whatever ‘hunger’ you experience be a reminder of the greater need someone else has for your merciful prayers.

Download PDF
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