Category: Living Waters

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Little Monsters

The ongoing outing of men acting badly (Les Moonves of CBS, new evidence against Weinstein, Cardinal McCarrick and his cronies, hundreds of American priests who abused in the second half of the 20th century) may tempt us more to disgust than self-examination. I refer here to my brothers who may not be big players in the Catholic hierarchy or media but who are familiar with sexual disintegration—ways we have squandered our powers of life and love.

The cycle is all-too-familiar: high stress, low significance, mounting pain, decreasing words, sensational pleasure, greater shame, riskier business, escalating shame, huge-consequences-if-caught, SILENCE. Until exposed. Then the glare of public scorn burns off hope of restoration.

We may never have coerced another person sexually but our sins of omission and commission have doubtlessly wounded others. And fractured our dignity. We thank God that we are not felons yet we share in the wound of corruption common to men, disordered desire which results from mistaking random sexual release with power. Then the delusion: ‘it’s what I need’, or ‘(s)he likes it.’

This is especially tragic when paired with religion. Many of the abusive priests were orthodox in their understanding of purity. They just failed to become what they believed. Mastered by lust and shame, they learned to compartmentalize, to live elsewhere, to tune out the lament of a dying conscience and conjure an unreal world. Then religion becomes part of the defense against reality. I dreamt last night of a priest who wrapped himself tightly in scholarly and spiritual vestments; instead of guiding or cleansing him, these garments protected then mummified him, hastening a shameful death. ‘If religion does not make you better, it can make you a whole lot worse’, to quote C.S. Lewis.

What good purpose can these monstrous sins have? They can reveal our little monsters, men, and invite us to do urgently and persistently what Weinstein and Moonves and McCarrick never did: we can expose ourselves before the throne of grace and receive grace to help us’ (Heb. 4:16) so that our little monsters stay small and cease to govern us. Rather, we tame them, and learn to direct our sexual energies in alignment with the dignity afforded us by God and His friends.

We must be the first to confess our sins, to reveal our monsters before we are silenced by shame and dwell in darkness. Presumption and pride fall away, and the narrow way which leads to life becomes lit for our brothers. That is precisely what we as men accomplish together in Living Waters. We live in the light of mercy for 6 months of daily accountability; connection rather than shameful isolation begin to define our lives.

In the shaking, the exposure of monstrous things, we can fall on the Rock before it falls on us.

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Pray for 2943 and Asia

Friends,

I am just finishing a wonderful break with Annette and children and grandkids; I leave tomorrow with Abbey for our first Living Waters Training in Ubon Thailand. Ubon, near the Laos border, is a Buddhist stronghold with extremely limited Christian presence. We delight in all who will join us there, including leaders and participants from churches in six other Asian nations. Please pray for our freedom on all fronts to love and serve Southeast Asia wisely. Your prayers enable us to renew our commitment to releasing Living Waters there. Pray:

Special grace for Abbey who at the last minute agreed to lead all musical worship (as well as to lead a small group and teach.) The girl is a marvel but also human….

For Tom and Terri Wright, seasoned Living Waters leaders from Virginia who will serve us and share as a couple: this is their first international ministry trip together. Pray for extraordinary blessing on them and clarity for mission.

For our amazing leader in Ubon, Sue Hunt, who has been among the most faithful and fruitful of international Living Waters leaders. She has envisioned this training for a long time and has worked steadily and well in the Spirit to ensure its reality. Pray for her joy, stamina, and wisdom in discerning what God is doing in her land through this training.

Lastly, the California legislature reconvened this week though as yet we do not know when and how 2943 will be introduced for a senate vote. Pray for the bill’s dismissal or its extreme modification. Either could happen.

Last week the Massachusetts legislature failed to pass its efforts to ban ‘reparative therapy’ for minors due to lefty infighting. (And from the state that introduced ‘gay marriage’ to America!)

This is not a good season for any government body that imposes serious, unnecessary limits on the moral decision-making of its citizens. Keep praying and we will keep you posted.

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AB 2943 and Divine Mercy

Will California Preserve Freedom of Choice?

The California legislature tried to railroad AB 2943 through the Senate; it looked like a sure thing for a political body intent on outlawing any moral action that clashes with the state’s LGBTQ+ juggernaut. Strangely, the bill was put on hold until August 6th. Besides giving dissenters like us more time to pray and engage the powers-that-be, what happened?

Divine mercy. That’s what happened. 2000 years ago the powers-that-be thought they had vanquished Jesus. Yet His death loosed a river of life that breaks the stronghold of death in every person who calls upon His Name. The Cross is the ultimate expression of divine mercy: it set into motion the truth that cruelties of every kind, including unjust laws like AB 2943, do not have the final say. God turns them around in order to achieve an even greater good.

All it requires is for God’s people to prayerfully gather in humility and compassion. From San Diego to Redding, Christian dissenters from San Diego to Redding have amplified the truth that Jesus changes lives. Sexual wholeness outshines a ‘gay’ wedding or a ‘sex’ change any day. For the last four months, Christians in California have displayed the glorious splendor of the Kingdom. Wisely and persistently, weak people being redeemed by Jesus have countered worldly thinking that threatens free speech and action—through their own stories, they have championed citizens’ rights to choose how they will resolve gender issues.

Bethel Church Redding arose in response to AB 2943 as never before. Two members, Elizabeth Woning and Ken Williams, both formerly ‘gay’-identified, have worked tirelessly and effectively to engage with lawmakers in Sacramento and to rally churches throughout California to support choice by refusing AB 2943. I met them 20-months-ago at the onset of their Bethel-based ministry ‘Equipped to Love’ (equippedtolove.com); though clear in their call, their course of action wasn’t. Not anymore. These two are as empowered and focused as anyone in the field. Get a copy of their booklet ‘Changed’. For such a time as this.

Two women from Living Waters in Pasadena met with the representative of a key decision-making senator in Sacramento; they influenced her by telling their stories wisely and well. Many more friends of mine in California who in the past have been reticent to tell the whole truth of Jesus’ work in their lives have boldly gone before cameras and large groups to make known His merciful love in their sexual brokenness. Some have risked jobs due to LGBT+ employers. We endure shame for love’s sake, for the joy set before us.

Faithful lawyers, orthodox clinicians, and pastors of every ethnicity have joined us at every turn to offer wise support. There is an army of intrepid truth-bearers who are arising in this hour. AB 2943 provoked this army. This is divine mercy—God turning around injustice in order to achieve His greater aim.

We are undoubtedly helped by two rulings last month by the Supreme Court. Clearly now, the highest court in our land is not inclined to any group being railroaded by the government when legitimate and deeply held views are at stake, including a cake-maker in Colorado who could not in good conscience bake for a ‘gay’ wedding (his resistance was honored by the court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CCRC) or pro-life pregnancy centers in California who need not advertise for abortions. (Under California law, the centers were forced to do so until NIFLA v. Becerra.)

The implications of these decisions are huge for AB 2943. Christians have an objective yet countercultural understanding of sexual wholeness that has been demonized by the California legislature. If AB 2943 passes, it will make a bee-line to the Supreme Court where, in my humble opinion, it hasn’t a chance. Can the California legislature see this? If so, did that contribute to its delayed vote?

Divine mercy. When Jesus’ members humble themselves and offer bad things back to Him, He turns them around and does something better. That is good news for a world that awaits the outcome of AB 2943. Massachusetts wants to pass such a law, as does the UK and France. Will the faithful show the world a different, better way? Maybe California will preserve freedom for sexual wholeness.

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Your Answered Prayers

In New York City, on the last day of ‘Gay Pride’ month, God had the last word.  In the same city where a noisy and highly funded LGBT+ parade glorified identity confusion a week earlier, Living Waters flowed without notice, quietly yet mightily to heal wounds at the core of the relational mess we are in.

Together a thirsty group of Catholics and evangelicals gathered under the Cross to receive His self-giving and to seek to offer ourselves more wholly to others. We welcomed His healing rain in a Catholic parish on 100-degree parched ground. We found Jesus’ heart right in the heart of New York City.

You, through your ongoing generosity and collaboration in heart and prayer, helped make it possible for us —in answer to years of prayer —to minister to the hearts of many in Manhattan.

Jim and Joann bravely shared about how Living Waters are gently yet powerfully flowing into on their 30+ year-marriage that had been riddled by each of their porn addictions.  The Living Waters are running deep to touch the roots of their wounds of which porn is just a symptom. Jim shared about his never having felt good enough which led him to the military and a masculinity that dominated everyone around him, including his wife.  Already ill at ease with her feminine vulnerability, Joann lived under his domination and endured through self-protection.

Through Living Waters, their wounds are being revealed and cleansed. They are experiencing tender love for each other like never before. Thank you for your generosity that releases Living Waters.

My amazing daughter Katie, a young single woman desiring marriage but joyful and content in trusting God’s unfolding plan for her, shared with the candor of one whose heart is free and alive.  Her story illustrates the destructive power that a tiny bad seed can have in producing weeds that can choke a flower.  Though growing up in a pretty good family (if I do say so myself), she too experienced wounding by words spoken over her by peers–lies that she internalized.  These lies festered and stunted the flowering of her femininity.  But through Living Waters she came to understand and take hold of the unique beauty and value she possesses. The vitality that she radiates to all is because generous friends like you helped release Living Waters.

These stories remind us that God’s last word is always grace, mercy and newness of life.  This was the last word He spoke into New York City on the last day of “Gay Pride” month.  Without you, this would not be possible. Because of you, important ground was taken back in New York City and reclaimed for God and His Kingdom of Life and Love.

Will you help us to continue to free and renew hearts and reclaim lives for God?  Our country just celebrated the freedom won for us by those who sacrificed their lives.  Amid record-breaking temperatures and oppression over much of the country, many cry out for healing rain–the Living Waters of true freedom.  Will you help to refresh them?  Will you help us to bring this Living Water to them that they might discover the true life God has for them?

The summer is a difficult time for Desert Stream financially.  But there is so much thirst which continues unabated. We are few yet we have you. How glorious is that: together we can bring freedom and life to many hearts in our country. Please remember us in your prayers and giving.  Bless and love you all.

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Barnabas

Last week the Church honored St. Barnabas, ‘the son of consolation and encouragement’ who empowered St. Paul to fulfill his mission to the Gentiles. Barnabas seemed little concerned with his success; though both he and Paul were granted apostolic titles (Acts 14:14), Barnabas ignited Paul then flamed out into early martyrdom. He did his part as a servant leader.

Also last week, we sponsored our sixth annual Living Waters Training in Latin America (Aquas Vivas), this time in Guadalajara Mexico. At the helm was Daniel Delgado. What struck me about Daniel’s leadership was the way he encouraged everyone to do his or her part. He rejoiced in others’ joy in serving Jesus. He served others without complaint in order to help ensure their success. He did not get lost in whatever losses he incurred. He is a type of Barnabas for Aquas Vivas.

This was only Daniel’s fourth Aquas Vivas Training. Up until two years ago, he struggled to speak Spanish. In a relatively short time he has integrated his Mexican-American heritage, now speaks in the tongue of his forefathers, and authentically embodies the Latino spirit.

It is natural for him to come alongside a range of Latin Americans who seek to offer their brokenness to Jesus and others; given his transgender background, Daniel knows how personal transformation of identity releases healing for all. Like Barnabas in Antioch, Daniel in Guadalajara ‘saw God’s grace at work and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart. For he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith’ (Acts 11:23, 24).

This was a hard year for Aquas Vivas. Our blessed friends in Puerto Rico were devastated by Hurricane Maria and are still mobilizing to continue the work of Living Waters there. (It is miraculous that the biggest delegation from the island came to be trained last week.) Yet other seasoned leaders could not join us due to unusual obligations or had moved onto other forms of service. At times I wondered if our Mexican plans would be realized. Daniel is a deep healer and hard worker but not an administrator per se. Could he pull this off?

Not alone. He assembled an amazing team of Aquas Vivas leaders from the Guadalajara area. Meric, Francisco, Veronica and Father Ricardo share Daniel’s heart of servant leadership while possessing gifts he does not. Together the team did an excellent job, so much so that I evaluate this training as the most peaceful and effective we’ve yet experienced in Latin America. A cohesive team, coordinated by a man motivated by others’ success: thank you St. Barnabas for your witness of encouragement. Thank you, Daniel, for embodying that witness.

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