Category: Living Waters

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Heart of the Lion

‘I love you tenderly, faithfully, mercifully; and I will draw you into the embrace of My friendship, and hold you close against My sacred side until, at length, You come to abide in My Most Sacred Heart, the sanctuary of My elect, and the refuge of poor sinners.’ In Sinu Jesu

Leon (lion in Spanish) houses the longest running Living Waters group in Mexico. The city’s core is Sacred Heart Church, built only yards away from an archway commemorating the city’s founding in the 15th century. Displayed atop the majestic door is a life-size lion. Aha, I thought: The Lion of Judah endowed with power to vanquish sin, leading us into the House of the Lamb—Jesus’ Sacred Heart, Almighty God slain for sinners who welcomes the poor into the chambers of His compassion. The Lion becomes a Lamb: cleansing, feeding, healing, protecting the most vulnerable in the courts of His Heart, His house, in the city’s center. Jesus is the Heart of Leon.

We passed through Lion’s gate to go to Mass soon after arriving. It was Friday night, the first of the month—celebration of Jesus’ Sacred Heart. The house was packed, the pastor turned on and up, the rapt crowd hanging on every Word declared; passionate, yes, then quietly reverent for the Meal of His Heart, partaking of the Lamb broken for us. Afterwards, the pastor invited up all intercessors who wanted to pray for someone in need of Jesus’ Sacred, sheltering Heart; he offered each intercessor a red-ribboned medallion of that Heart as a reminder to pray daily for that one. The crowd stampeded the altar. Jesus is the Heart of Leon.

My Leonese friend, Samuel Rojas, exhausted his young adult life in ‘gay’ pursuits then began to be drawn back to Jesus through a devout mother. Sharp of mind, he realized through studying developmental psychology that his same-sex stuff was a window to wounds, distorted perceptions, and unmet needs. He wanted healing and began to seek it through Jesus’ Sacred Heart of love for him; practically, he attended Courage meetings in the city and Living Waters Trainings outside Leon. He was aggressive in pursuit of wholeness—lion-like—but at the end of the day realized that any progress in chastity was pure gift, born of the Lamb’s merciful Heart. Jesus, the Heart of Leon, shares His Heart with Samuel.

It was fun to watch Samuel grow. Each year, in weeklong trainings (Argentina, Mexico City, Guadalajara), he progressed, one step at a time. He caught a vision for life beyond abstinence, he started dating Alejandra and married her in Sacred Heart Church, the two had a son David, his mother came to get healing for herself….He has become a good leader of others, working in sync with his parish and pastor to accompany spiritual sons and daughters into growth in chastity.

After Mass Friday night, I was pleased to discover that our conference was to be held at Sacred Heart Church. We gathered joyfully; Mexican bearers of ‘Living Water’ witnessed to how Jesus restores His wounded and makes us healers in His house, merciful agents of His Heart. I realize that each one worshipping, repenting, and receiving healing from fellow members is being built together to take their places in His Sacred Heart–lion-like, utterly tender, imploring all—‘Come into the Heart of Leon and be set free!’

Please take time to watch our video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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Best Group Ever

I kid you not. After 40 years of leading Living Waters groups, I just finished the best one ever. These twenty weeks rolled out like a dream. OK, chalk it up to extraordinary co-leaders (Marco and Becky) and inspired worship (Abbey singing at piano as we bowed before the Tabernacle and Divine Mercy).

Maybe it had something to do with diversity. I led one of many small groups alongside my coleader from IHOP; we accompanied a Reformed lay leader, a priest, a therapist, and two other Catholics—some single, some married, various kinds of lust—all unified in our commitment to becoming chaste gifts. Awesome.

Perhaps it was the team. Having done the group at my parish for six years now, we are gaining traction with lay leaders emerging from the group who now serve others. Every teaching, we had a man and a woman exchange well-honed, embodied reflections. God’s image in humanity—broken, being healed, hopeful—unfurled before us every week. It convinced me again that lay leaders, properly equipped, are the best witnesses and (practical) expositors of redemption.

The goal and apex of Living Waters: restoring honor between women and men. We admitted diminishment in our gender gift due to how we bruise each other. Perpetrators and victims all: still, the women bore more hurt, and it was humbling to witness these sassy, effectual career women and mothers weep before the Cross as Jesus accessed the damage done by sins of misogyny. We men squirmed, subject to the good shame over our misogynistic lusts and narcissism; we were also subject to toxic shame, which deadens us with self-hatred and tempts us to make women the problem. At the Cross, Jesus met us and bound up our shame, as well as misandry: the more subtle ways that women dishonor us.

Heavy stuff. Impossible without Jesus among us. The Cross is enough. When we bypass Jesus in the gender wars we can only seek to control or be controlled. Docile before Jesus, through the Cross, we spoke specific blessings over this ‘other’ whom God made in distinction from us. He is teaching us through the Cross to love each other, to honor His whole image.

The last meeting, during team prayer, many of us–wearied and distracted by the demands of the day–wondered: ‘What have I to give tonight?’ I received a picture of a golden mantle over us. I could see the anointing of Living Waters resting on the parish and us; unified, we as a team were extending that mantle. I felt the Lord whispering to us: ‘Just enter into My work tonight. It is Mine. I delight in giving you a little share in preparing a people for Myself.’ With that, we rested, and went forward into an intensive night. We remembered the work was His and were grateful to share in it. Frankly, I can’t wait to start again.

Please take time to watch our video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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Fierce, Tender Love

‘Each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked.’ (Neh.4:18)

Fighting for wholeness is at once a personal and corporate battle. We help others refuse daily the lure of familiar gods while we strategize to stop the advance of enemy armies. Like the rebuilders of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s time, we heal with one hand and lance demons with the other.

Poland understands this well. The most powerful Catholic nation in Europe, she refuses to bow the knee to the LGBT+ juggernaut that has all but brought Western Europe to its knees. For example, France is mounting a national bill that would criminalize helpers who accompany persons beyond the rainbow curtain.

I just returned from Poland where we visited several Archbishops—gatekeepers of the Church who welcomed us. Like all church leaders, they are aware of the abuses and scandals of hypocrisy in their ranks. And they hold fast to how Jesus offers the better way to all who surrender to Him. They will not tolerate sexual identities built on a fault-line, incapable of engendering life.

What they did not know was how Jesus is transforming sinners like you and me, persons painfully aware of the wound but now immersed in the Mercy that has become our freedom, our wholeness, the gift we offer others out of gratitude.

Yes, we concurred; we must resist false ideologies. But at the same time, we must heal our divided members. We boldly proclaimed how this Church has become for us—and we for her—a community of healing capable of routing foreign armies. Ours is her deep wellspring of mercy for good Catholics harassed by idols and demons who seek chastity, not politicized ‘identities.’

We experienced the fierce and tender intercession of our Polish patrons—St. John Paul ll who ever displays the beauty of man for woman, woman for man, and St. Faustina who insists on Jesus’ mercy conquering all counterfeits.

These Church warriors teared up as they heard our stories: we declared to them: ‘We are the Church—members of Jesus—witnesses of wholeness and now healers poised to dig deep wells of mercy in every diocese of this great land.’

We were heard; we were welcomed. ‘Make Your Church in Poland a beacon of healing for all of Europe and beyond, Almighty King and Author of Mercy.’

‘I do not have time to tell about… [those] whose weaknesses were turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.’
(Heb. 11:32-34)

Please take time to watch our video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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First Love

‘Encourage one another daily…so that no-one may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We share in Christ if we hold firmly to the confidence we had at first.’ (Heb. 3:13, 14)

My life and the life of Desert Stream Ministries is bound together in marriage: Annette and mine, 39-years-old, just one year short of our first Desert Stream gathering in 1980. Marital growth multiplied our offering to others. No doubt about it: as we learned to submit to each other out of fear and joy, God increased the quality of our service. Water levels rose from the well we dug together.

Maybe it had something to do with our brokenness. I was in love with this woman but selfish and subject to immoral shadows; she was abused and hesitant to give up control in certain areas. We knew sin’s deceitfulness!

We shared in Christ together, actively, deliberately. We told the truth of our wounds and learned to prayerfully extend mercy to each other. We strove for justice too, to give the other his or her due. We had a right, lovingly, to the other’s body—to share our love physically. But this had little meaning if we weren’t willing to do the hard work of real ‘foreplay’: sharing the whole of ourselves, as best we could, with our clothes on. It is easier to open your pants than your mouth! As I denied my isolated, wordless brooding for her wise and soft response (usually!), I became a stronger, more whole man. I solidified into a spouse who could help tenderize her sometimes wary heart.

Trust is a gift and a condition of heart that one must cultivate daily in marriage. ‘Sin’s deceitfulness’ is sly, subtle: we harden over time in little unspoken ways as we project old fears and shames onto the beloved.

More than ever in this 40th year of our ministry, the enemy of our marital soul wants to tempt us onto separate tracks. There Anette and I function well enough, like well-tuned roommates, but fail to access marital grace. Only as we submit to one another (Eph. 5:21) deliberately is that grace ours. Time does not make us better spouses; it may well make us presumptuous, unwilling to reveal the blessed, broken, still-needing-confirmation parts to each other.

The marital blow-ups that have singed us all did not begin with a brazen seduction, just a slow cooling of trust and affection then the pull of other gods, other covenants. We can say without hyperbole that the world has never been more effective in firing marital discontent and driving us to dissolve our vows.

This year Annette and I celebrated 40 Christmases together. I want 20 more. To actualize my desire, I must hold fast to these words from Hebrews: ‘We share in Christ IF we hold FIRMLY to the confidence we had at first.’ I have a responsibility to strengthen today what I promised 39-years-ago.

This year I have committed to initiate a weekly time with Annette where we will deliberately go where we may not want to go—focused blessing and also pointed questions about where we are, how we are. We pray and talk spontaneously during the week but in the roar of things we skim hard stuff. It is my duty to take us deeper. If you are a husband, would you consider joining me in this initiative? It is always refreshing to me when the man leads the conversation. What most wives long for, we men dodge. Stop dodging. Slay your enemy by revealing your love, however uneven, to the one who needs it most.

Marital confidence should never become passive; it demands our engagement if we are to thrive in its benefits and reveal something of Jesus’ love for His Bride.

‘Repent and do the things you did at first.’ (Rev. 2:5)

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

Going the Distance: 40 Years of Healing, Equipping and Proclaiming.

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fasting knocking on heaven's door

Fast Fruit: Knocking on Heaven’s Door

‘Because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice’ (Lk. 18:5).

Prayer and fasting are not sexy. As this 40-day ‘Becoming Good News’ ends, I am hungry and ornery, more inclined to fantasy donuts than holy apparitions. We as a staff have chosen weakness, a downward mobility, a reduction. We have gone without and prayed a lot. We are sensitized to the foul air of a clueless culture and worldly Church. And we have positioned ourselves near the Source, the oxygenated stream where ‘living waters’ first gushed and still flows.

Reduced to Jesus alone, we knocked. We admitted our defeat. ‘Unless You act, we’ve no hope.’ We remembered His saving action and bothered Him: we asked and asked and asked for Him to extend that victory to specific loved ones, to churches, to city hall and national courts. Here is some ‘fast fruit’ from the staff.

Like most of you, we knocked for family and friends dazed by the rainbow. And God answered. During last year’s ‘Becoming Good News’ fast, I had fought daily for a young man who was seeking Jesus but had no intention of giving up his ‘gay’ self. Early on in this year’s fast, he questioned me about what it might mean for him to begin pursuing women. Hah! Fluidity works both ways.

Amanda rejoiced that a woman she loves at her Living Waters group just let go of her ‘lesbian’ self in favor of Jesus’ reflection of her. Daniel’s chosen loved one just left a ‘gay’ marriage; he’s praying that Jesus would stir up her baptismal waters and reveal Himself as unfailing Love. Marco cast a vision of transformation for a couple worldly friends who are considering Jesus’ healing for their broken lives.

Dana was nearly overcome by a deepening experience of Jesus’ heart and sight for her lost loved ones. During the fast, two of them went from darkness to light—hitting bottom and asking Jesus how to live out of His kindness. Ann had a Spirit-led breakthrough with a neighbor and Dean who prayed for several families rocked by LGBT+ realities said they experienced a spiritual ‘overflow’ resulting in renewed hope and courage to engage estranged members afresh.

We knocked and God opened (or we trust, WILL open) effective doors of ministry. We broke through to a couple of key communities with whom we have sought partnership; we prayed big for bishops overseeing areas where we want to dig deep wells of ‘living water.’ Amber has experienced an upswing in her ministry to young adults who are seeking help for shameful areas of their lives As the therapy ban hit Kansas City at the onset of the fast, therapist Abbey began to reach out to colleagues who like her love Jesus and clinically serve teens. She was provoked by the fact that most are now worldly and theologically disintegrated in their care. Erin, a grad student in a clinical Christian program, has taken up this burden as well. Her fellows are clueless about how to apply their deepest Christian values with their care of persons. We prayed together for effective engagement with conscientious peers. A smog hovers over the clinical community; we ask King Jesus for an awakening.

And we knocked relentlessly for Kansas City’s ordinance to be overturned. Our ministry rallied the only opposition to the bill–friends of DSM/LW made up half of those attending the City Hall battles, LGBT+ persons composed the other. A river of ‘living water’ ran through our efforts and gave us an ease and grace that would have been impossible without this prayer stream. Our good-natured joviality contrasted beautifully with the lamenting ‘victims’ draped in rainbow flags; one confused man dressed as a woman seethed an “I hope you burn in hell!’ at me. And I thought we were pegged the ugly fundamentalists…

We keep knocking. Doors of effective legal warfare are opening for us and we will see this battle through to the end. Like the persistent widow, we will pound at heaven’s door until justice is served. He answers. He will answer. Our hope is well-placed and sure.

‘Will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night? He will see that they get justice, and quickly’ (Lk. 18: 7, 8).

You can purchase “Becoming Good News” in book form directly from Desert Stream or get it from Amazon for your Kindle.

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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