Category: Living Waters

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
Clear to Hear

Clear to Hear

‘I heard birds sing for the first time today.’ So testified a woman from our Mexican Training whose ears had echoed with demonic accusations. As the Father sought after His daughter, members of the leadership team prayerfully spoke a few true words to her about her status as His beloved one. God’s real confirming presence delivered her from torment. One Voice prevailed over many false ones and freed her to listen, to hear in silence God singing over her through a bird.

Not all of us are demonized in that way. But most of us live in the clutter of noisy demands vying for our attention which crowd out His still small Voice. How often do we fail to hear the Word that could be our freedom? Or another’s?

The other day at home, I was listening to something through earphones while cleaning, a familiar scenario in which I attempt to manage my own little universe. Annette tried in vain to get my attention. Exasperated, she cried, ‘We are together in this house, yet alone. That’s just rude!’ Rude, and revealing. What else do I not hear as I immerse myself in an audio world that refuses stillness? The Psalmist declares that ‘the heavens pour forth speech’, but I am not listening. I can and do repel the Spirit’s stirrings (not to mention my wife’s!) with noise.

Yet there are blessed moments when we listen from our hearts. Annette and I are doing ‘Beauty and the Breach’ with our dear friends the Nobregas; together we walk couples-in-conflict through a brief curriculum and listening exercises. Annette and I enter in and ‘exercise’ our own listening skills, especially in hard-to-hear areas. I never cease to be amazed by the healing that comes through Annette’s gracious speech.

Mark my words: we shall never be a ministry that replaces face-to-face encounter with virtual room noise, however noble the blog or video may be! We need to gather together, still our hearts, and listen.

Stillness. Jesus is always calling in the quiet. When I do not start the day in expectant silence, I know I am in trouble. Going to daily Mass helps. Before the Crucified, I am enveloped in everlasting arms, which is why I try to come early and stay late. I need to rest in Him who controls it all through perfect love. Fears and doubts fade away in His Presence. He speaks loudest in silence.

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becoming home

Becoming Home

‘We fully “become” our true selves within relationships. A positive sense of self, rooted in worth and value, arises out of an attuned, empathic, supportive and caring environment in which secure attachment is established. By caring for and attuning to another’s needs, and by empathizing with his or her emotional world, we help others to internalize a sense of well-being.’
Dr. Janelle Hallman, Living the Truth in Love (Ignatius Press)

How many young persons are emotionally homeless? How many have been set adrift by a break in early bonds of love? How many angry, hungry lambs forsake the witness of their own bodies and the Good Shepherd then morph into a number of selves and sexual partnerships in order to secure that love? How much of the ‘trans’ craze is undergirded by the near inability of persons to welcome the good gift of their gendered humanity through whole-enough persons who make a home for them in their constant love?

These questions arose for me throughout an intensive leadership day sponsored by Courage last week. Dr. Paul McHugh of John Hopkins University who led his team there to stop gender reassignment surgery when it became clear that most young people change their minds and later regret such surgery addressed us and made clear that the real battle is spiritual and philosophical—‘what constitutes human nature?’ If our biological selves have substantial meaning, then we must direct persons onto a course of loving care that will help them come home to their real selves. Another keynote, Dr. Paul Sullins, is among the foremost researchers today on the effects of ‘gay marriage’ on children. His evidence that these children are over twice as likely to develop serious emotional problems made clear that ‘the absence of sexual complementarity creates obstacles in a child’s development.’

We are creating an emotionally homeless generation who does not want to hear that they need to come home to anything but their new liberties. But these liberties damage them further; the need for empathic, attuned, and loving care is what they need in order to be reconciled to who they are. So when Dr. Janelle Hallman finished up the day with three hours of recounting how she has cared for women with a host of identity issues for over 25 years, I listened and connected with her attunement to the real needs behind the ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ self.

I marveled at her therapeutic expertise, empowered by the Holy Spirit and her own integrity as a woman, that has enabled her to walk for years with wounded ones in all their defensive glory until trust is achieved and the tending to the core needs can begin. Love wins, as caregivers like Janelle become a home (of sorts) to the emotionally vagrant.

It brought up a flood of healing memories for me. Many years earlier as a young married man and minister, a flood of same-sex desires arose; I knew it was a symptom of deeper needs and stubborn defenses that I had to face with skilled care. I began a long relationship with an amazing Christian therapist who was strong and masculine but deeply attuned to my plight and wise in helping me to probe beneath the surface. I worked out deep ‘father’ issues with this fatherly healer and he helped me further integrate my longing for masculine love into real friendships, not shameful fantasy.

Jesus wants the best for us and He wants us to give the best to those we love. Had I not found the kind of loving care I did, a man who helped secure me in my home as a whole-enough man, I may have been unable to provide a home for Annette and my four children.

I am about to proceed to our Living Waters Training where men and women whom Jesus is restoring are seeking to gather in groups in order to provide safe, healing places in the church for identity strugglers. Pray for us as we humble ourselves before God and one another to become a home for others.

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the nations return living waters

The Nations Return

Last year, some Living Waters friends from Thailand and China urged us at DSM/LW to gather international leaders again in Kansas City.

I balked and winced as I recalled the vision a dear friend had given me five years ago—it was nothing but a burnt field, still smoking. So was I. After 30 years of building Living Waters around the globe, I was asked by a council of Living Waters leaders to step off the team so that they could pursue other goals.

Overnight, friends with a shared language became strangers whose perspective I could no longer discern, let alone contend. The joy of gathering with the nations became a landmine, which had blown up in my face. A burnt field indeed.

In the years that followed, I spent time daily before the Crucified and died to what had been. I alternated between hope that leapt at God’s lead and despair that slouched toward early retirement (bleech!). I wondered if seeds that die always release more life (JN 12: 24-26).

God invited me into new friendships. Anne Paulk and Stephen Black asked me to join them in starting a national coalition of ministries—Restored Hope Network–for persons impacted by SSA, as Exodus tanked before our eyes; of equal blessing was Father Paul Check, the leader of Courage, who mentored this new Catholic and gave me a chance to share my witness in his world (which is becoming mine as well). I love these networks; I hope you do too, as they are beautiful expressions of God’s heart for persons with SSA.

My primary call, however, is Living Waters. To my surprise, some of the nations where we had released Living Waters re-initiated relationship with us. Provoked by conscience and now seasoned in ministry and decision-making, they wanted to return to the source. I was grateful yet tentative as I was and am still unwilling to return to the ‘good old days.’ They weren’t that good and they are over.

So I wondered; might we build relationship based on mutual respect and a desire to grow together into a new season? I now realize that I had tolerated ‘cloak and dagger’ stuff in the old system. No more. Either we trust each other or we choose other partnerships. This work is impossible when squinting at and whispering about colleagues.

The DSM/LW staff agreed to host our international friends who wanted to come. Most of our friends did (which floored me) and honestly, it was heaven-on-earth. We started at the Restored Hope Conference in Chicago (amazing) then met at my home and at our offices for 3-days in which we dined, prayed, and centered on the Kingdom of God, embracing the whole Church, and identifying weaknesses in our married and single lives. No pressure, just the real Presence of God meeting us and helping us to love Jesus and each other more. Fragrant. God kissed us.

Poured out, the DSM/LW staff inhaled the truth that the nations had returned to us. But differently now, like adults with a shared bond. We like each other; we want to be together. Beautiful–new life springing forth from scorched, rich soil.

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good father

Good Father

By Cindy Del Hierro

Chris Tomlin’s song, ‘Good Good Father’, swept through many of our churches this past year. The melody and lyrics ring true to our hearts: “You’re a good good Father, it’s who you are, and I am loved by you, it’s who I am…” Like a heavenly lullaby, it soothes the wounded soul by affirming our sense of belonging and identity. Unintentionally it became a theme song for our Living Waters group in Denver. Lyrical phrases from Tomlin’s song lingered over us as we pressed into what can be a painful redemptive process: “You call me deeper still, into love…”

“You are perfect in all Your ways”…Two women experienced His perfect way in my small group. Each one came to the group with an aching wound from the lack of an earthly father in their early lives. Still longing for his confirmation, they were stuck in their healing process and unable to comprehend a way forward. For Joey, the loss of father had occurred while she was still in the womb; her father had taken his own life before she was born so she never truly knew him. For Jamie, the loss occurred when she was 8-years-old after her father was murdered in prison.

Both of them expressed similar feelings of disconnection, confusion and lack of self-confidence. Week after week, the pain of abandonment and grief surfaced. Hearing about the significant role God intends father to play in our lives exposed the depth of their ‘father-wounds.’

While taking time to pray through family history and generational sins, a surprising connection unearthed between them. Neither woman knew each other before Living Waters nor did they live in the same part of the city or go to the same church. But while storyboarding the generations, a revelation came that shocked us all. Jamie’s father had once been married to Joey’s mother! In fact, Jamie’s father raised Joey’s older siblings from whom she had heard many stories about him. He is actually buried next to Joey’s own father and she visits the graves often!

This revelation provoked deep pain for both women. Jamie expressed the unforgiveness she held her entire life toward the woman (Joey’s mom) who “stole” her only dad. The pain of knowing he left her for another family had never been released, until that day. Bewildered, Joey became self-conscious and speechless then yielded to God’s grace in a holy moment. A flood of memories and meaning came to both of them. Together they permitted the heavenly Father to love them in the midst of stinging pain and sins committed by their fathers.

A resounding melody came bursting in: “Many searching for answers far and wide, all searching for answers only you provide, ‘cause you know just what we need before we say a word …it’s love so undeniable, peace so unexplainable! You’re a good good Father, it’s who you are, and I am loved by you, it’s who I am!”

Cindy leads Living Waters in Denver CO and is our Rocky Mtn Regional Leader

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Magdalenes Rising

I spent Divine Mercy weekend in Ubon Thailand near the Laos border. Beneath a bamboo cross, an international team welcomed a diverse group of Thai men and women whose love for Jesus compelled them to offer Him their sexual brokenness. Ever faithful, He loosed a flood of mercy for persons raised in a Buddhist culture (only .4% claim Jesus as Lord) where sexual abuse and emotional neglect lay groundwork for many to become sexually compromised as adults.

As we ministered, I glimpsed the witness of Mary Magdalene, regarded by many as the Apostle of all Apostles. Culturally powerless, probably a prostitute, she was yet entrusted by Jesus with the message of the resurrection. Her exchange of false lovers and many demons for devotion to the One forged an intimate communion between Jesus and herself; He was all she had, an authority that could bear the most important message of all.

I witnessed men and women alike at our conference weeping at the foot of the cross over their sexual sins and those committed against them. I watched hope rise as Jesus encouraged them through our healing stories.

thai_divine_mercyI observed a young Thai pastor crying out for purity from his depths, wanting nothing to sully his care for the women he serves.  Another man, older and wizened by years of hard work in an outlying village, said very little but his face conveyed anguish as He listened to our histories of affliction and deliverance. His face shone as Jesus extended mercy to Him throughout our weekend together.

Most moving to me was a young woman—an ex-prostitute—who Jesus is making a deep well of mercy. She knows degradation better than most and the lure of big quick money. But she is committed to exchanging her lovers and demons for the only One who can love her without compromise. She knows she must stay near Him through the Living Waters community in order to live true. She weeps as much as she smiles; her eyes convey a heart united with Jesus for dear life.

Jesus is raising up all three (and many others) as witnesses of His life-transforming mercy. He died to put their sin and shame under His wounded feet; He lives to give them life. On Divine Mercy Sunday, I had the privilege of preaching on Mary Magdalene before my new friends in Ubon. We rejoiced together: ‘We have seen the Lord!’ (JN 20:18)

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