Category: Fast

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

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

November 22, 2014: The Lie of ‘Gay’ Love

‘That evil appears in the form of light, of beneficence, of faithfulness, of renewal, that it appears in the form of historical necessity, of social justice, is for the commonsense observer a clear confirmation of its profound evilness. We experience and recognize ethical reality not by craftiness, not by knowing all the tricks, but only by standing straightforwardly in the truth of God and looking to that truth with eyes that it makes simple and wise.’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Today’s western culture has been captivated by the lie of ‘gay’ love. Out of the idol we have made of sexual expression, empowered by injustices we have committed against persons weak in gender security, our common enemy devised one of the most divisive strategies of our century: the ‘gay’ way or the highway. 

A western citizen is today considered ‘enlightened’ if (s)he embraces homosexuality as inborn and unchangeable, its expression worthy of all privileges accorded marriage and family. For upholding marriage, and disagreeing with the ethical good of ‘gay’ practice, that same citizen is judged at best as ignorant and worse as a bully, a bigot, and a ‘hater.’ Criminal charges may apply: anyone not on the ‘gay’ bandwagon will lose reputation and may lose his or her business for not cooperating with ‘gay’ weddings.

Seeking relevance, the Church at large has been reduced to silence then slow concession to what is a fierce yet well-cloaked ‘gay agenda.’  (I have witnessed this ‘agenda’ since I came out of homosexuality in the late seventies: even then, it was apparent that wealthy gay politicos were aiming at the gold ring of ‘gay marriage.’) The tactic is simple and goes something like this: “‘Gay’ people are loving and wounded. How can we further wound them by not giving them what they want? We believe in the pursuit of happiness for all, don’t we?”

Seeking to be ‘loving’, the Church bows to such superficial questions with superficial answers. I was shocked by an interview with Cardinal Schonborn (whom I deeply respect) after the Synod on the Family when he said: ‘I know a marvelous ‘gay’ couple in my diocese who really care for each other…’ On that basis, Schonborn encouraged radical (and I believe false) changes in the Catholic Church’s approach toward persons with same-sex attraction.

The new enemy of the Church’s clear understanding of sexual humanity is ‘nice.’ Without doubt, many persons with same-sex attraction (I do not use the language of ‘gay’; it is a socio-political identification that hinders persons from resolving the attraction) are kind and loving and capable of committed friendships. Not the question. The question remains: what is our sexual humanity for?  If we as Christians are not clear that the purpose of our engendered self is to mature into whole-enough gifts for the other so that we can create new lives together, then we have lost our way. We do no-one any favors to alter the boundary lines to include sexualized same-gender friendships, just as we did an earlier disservice by accommodating extramarital sex on the basis that ‘Christians do it anyway.’

Our young interns and I recently studied ‘The Bible and Homosexual Practice’ (Abingdon Press, Dr. Robert Gagnon), the best and most scholarly approach to the subject. Without doubt, Scripture from start to finish prohibits all homosexual acts on the basis that gender ‘discomplementarity’ is an act of treason against God and one’s fellows. Period. Our ‘loving’ hearts deceive us. An ‘agenda’ has deceived us. A common enemy has deceived us.

It may be too late for our nation to take marriage back from that agenda. But Jesus Himself will not allow His bride to be deceived. We must wake up and repent. It is not too late to forsake our ‘nice’ concession to ‘an enemy who came only to steal, kill, and destroy’ lives. (JN 10:10) In concert with the One who came that ‘all may have life and have it to the full’ (JN 10:10), let us open wide the doors of our hearts and churches and provide a merciful womb in which all may repent of the deception that is destroying them.

‘In the last days there will be scoffers who follow their own ungodly desires. These are men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained with corrupted flesh’ (Jude 17-23).

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. Encourage:  Bob and Susan (National Overseers): For grace to equip and unify chapters of   Courage around the country. KC Courage and Encourage : For an increase in local KC chapter of Courage/Encourage.

“Courage for Pastor Phil Strout (National Director 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 NOV. 20, 21, 22, 23

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November 21, 2014: Good Samaritan

‘The Samaritan woman is every one of us. She is every human being who has ever sinned and betrayed the God who loved and made us, by chasing after other gods, trying desperately to get creatures to give us what only the Creator can give. She is every human being who has ever made a complete mess of their lives with choices from which they just can’t seem to break loose. She is every person who has a sinful, broken past that they’d just rather not talk about.’ Brant Pitre

Like the Samaritan woman, the best healers start as a mixture–wheat and tares. Strongholds of sin and virtue grew up together in a typically sensitive, passionate soul that cries out for a long time: ‘Jesus, I am Yours; please, make me Yours!’

Deep divides take a long time to overcome. I concur with the ‘law of gradualism’ (13) noted by the recent report on the Synod of Family. Authentic repentance can take years and requires a lot of confessions, loads of truthful compassion from Christians who surround them, and of course, the ironclad commitment of Jesus who always fights for the free-will surrender of His bride.

In spite of the Samaritan woman’s instantaneous witness of Jesus (“Come see a man who told me everything…’), we could say that Samaritans actually take a long time to convert. So the Church needs two things. First she must uphold for all Christians her standard of union with Christ in the whole of one’s divided humanity. And secondly, she must mobilize a host of Samaritan converts who are willing to suffer long with fellow strugglers. The rhythm is: failure, forgiveness, more failure then deeper forgiveness, on and on, until pay dirt—‘Jesus, I surrender and am willing to do what You want…’

Such merciful struggle and surrender creates merciful healers. I think of my friend Gary who suffered nearly intolerable shame with same-sex struggles and sin in a variety of religious settings. After his wife left him, he surrendered to Jesus and a group of faithful ones who loved him into the man he is today. Or Diane who grew up thinking sexual abuse is the common love offered by older neighbors until she surrendered her broken adult relationships to Jesus and a supportive group of women. Or Kevin who as a pastor knew deeply his divided motives toward a series of women he served in his parish until he decided to come clean and get the help he needed.

Divided all, now united to Christ, these Samaritans are powerful dispensers of ‘living waters’ to others. They go the distance with fellow strugglers because of their deep gratitude to Jesus and His Church. Primed with mercy, they see and feel and act toward others out of that mercy.

Gary, Diane and Kevin help me to look with new eyes upon the story of the Good Samaritan (LK 10:25-37); I understand now why the Samaritan saw and acted heroically toward the oppressed man rather than holy Jews who perceived only an obstacle in their path. Divided, she had been united by mercy. Mercy transformed the Samaritan’s grid and goaded her to give herself away to another.

As a Pharisee scrutinized both, Jesus addressed an unclean woman weeping at His feet: ‘She who has been forgiven of much will love much.’ (Lk 7: 47) So do all Samaritans made good by the mercy of God. May Jesus make the Church a Good Samaritan for all broken ones who cry out for mercy.

Please join us as we pray for:

  1. Conferences: For our 2015 conferences, scheduled in Reseda, CA, Virginia and proposed in Chicago 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. Courage: For the Lord to continue to strengthen and protect the leaders: Father Paul Check, Director and Angelo Sabella, Program Manager. For grace to equip and unify chapters of Courage around the country. Also for the new Courage documentary to impact many with the message of chastity; and for no more production problems with a current media project.

“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 NOV. 20, 21, 22, 23

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one-bride

November 20, 2014: One Bride

‘I in them and You in Me, Father. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me.’ (Jn 17:23)

Jesus is committed to one Church. He alone knows exactly who composes His bride; what we can know is that Jesus is singularly passionate for her.

I am growing in that passion for her too. I have always known that one cannot love Jesus without also loving His Church. That love culminated for me several years ago when I became a Roman Catholic. The historic church became a refuge for me amid cultural downturns in marriage and gender and the compromised response of Protestant denominations. Jesus and His friends met me there; daily Eucharist and the cheering on of the saints have bolstered me deeply.

I am grateful. And realistic. The Church’s strengths are also her weaknesses and necessitate I seek Jesus’ strength to love her as she deserves. Her weaknesses expose mine and require much mercy for me. But mercy works. I can extend that mercy freely to the Church for it is precisely Christ’s mercy through the Church that sustains me, keeps me free for love.

At times I miss my beautiful evangelical background. The vocation Jesus entrusted to Annette and I was born in the Vineyard church planting movement. We could not have asked for a better home. Open, humble, merciful: these are the faces I see from the Vineyard’s communion of saints that welcomed us and still inform us. On our Vineyard foundation, we will always pray for more of God’s Kingdom and Spirit for hurting people, and we shall always equip our fellow servants in the truth that Jesus calls and empowers them as surely as He does Pope Francis. We will adapt to the new ways God’s wants to meet people in order to reveal the same truths to new generations.

Catholics need to be empowered by the evangelical spirit, and evangelicals need the depth of Catholic teaching and worship. Each possesses a kind of authority that the other needs. I am grateful for both. In order to be whole, the Church needs both.

Early on in my Catholic conversion, I saw a picture of a huge river in which persons on both sides were drinking, soaking, and healing. Each shore revealed two distinct groups partaking of ‘living waters.’ Divided as Protestants and Catholics, they drew from the same Source. The river flowed: I could see some persons co-mingling until the two groups freely partook of the waters together.

Considering this vision, I wonder if the humbling impact of relational and sexual sins makes us less inclined to defend ourselves with doctrinal differences. Perhaps the wounds are too deep, the shame too great, to distance ourselves from the ‘other’ with a rosary or Bible verse. Broken, we cry out for mercy together and discover gifts the one possesses that the other needs.

My prayer has been partially answered by a series of trainings we sponsor in Mexico. Equal parts Catholic and evangelical, we are discovering one Jesus and one Bride. A river of water and blood runs through her.

‘Be completely humble and gentle. Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; one Body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all in all.’ (Eph. 4: 2-6)

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. Restored Hope Network: Prayer for wisdom, discernment and protection for RHN board members: Andrew Comiskey; Stephen Black; Karen Booth; Robert Gagnon; Denise Schick; Jason Thompson.

“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 NOV. 20, 21, 22, 23

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