Category: Living Waters

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Mercy: An urgent call for testimony

Mercy: An urgent call for testimony
Barbara Vittucci (a longstanding friend of DSM/LW, Barb resides in Vienna, Austria and has been a lifeline to hundreds in the church seeking wholeness)

Have you received mercy? Through the healing love of Jesus Christ, are you growing in restoration of soul, identity, relationships, and sexuality? In our days of titanic confusion in these very areas, the world needs your testimony as never before. It is a time for the flood gates of mercy to open and to draw many of the lost and least into the loving embrace of Jesus Christ.

But what is mercy? Is it political correctness? Is it playing ‘nice’ and remaining silent in the face of injustice? Does it enable destructive behavior? Not according to Scripture and Church tradition. Throughout the centuries, churches have taught on both the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The works of mercy are not optional but are essential to living the Christian life of holiness and goodness. These are active, challenging expressions of mercy.

The Corporal Works of Mercy are based on Mt 25: “For I was hungry, thirsty, naked, in prison, a stranger, sick. What you did for the least of these, you did unto me…“ These works include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing and sheltering the homeless, and visiting the sick and imprisoned.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are taken from a variety of scriptures and include admonishing the sinner (LK 15:7), instructing the ignorant (Mk 16:1), counseling the doubtful (Jude 23), comforting the sorrowful (Gal. 6:2), bearing wrongs patiently (Col. 3:12), and forgiving our wound-ers (Mt. 6:12).

Mercy expresses love in very concrete ways for our neighbor’s physical or spiritual well-being. To admonish, instruct and counsel belongs to mercy. That means that truth and mercy are intimately connected. It is the Holy Spirit, the One who is called The Spirit of Truth and The Comforter, who leads us in how to love well.

Truth, when not in love, is legalistic. And love cut off from truth can lead to destruction.

Here is another classic and helpful list for our consideration. We can be an accessory to another’s sin through: counsel, command, provocation, praise and flattery, concealment and silence, and by defense of the ill done. In our desire to make peace and please people instead of God, many of us have been an accessory to sin. When we do this, we commit cruel, unmerciful acts. .

Amid the confusion surrounding mercy and sexual wholeness, a door of hope opens. Forbidden topics are now being addressed in church. What an opportunity to offer help to the strugglers who are everywhere!. Now we can speak more openly, without the shame that shrouds our struggles and keeps us bound. Let the light in. Open prison doors.

Go tell the world. Your struggles have more meaning than you know. Your testimonies of hope are the atomic power of the Gospel and are deeply needed in our day. People trust those who have been there. This is mercy. And no one can take away the power of your story. You were born for such a time as this.

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Waking Up Jesus

“Jesus rose up…and said to His disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ ” (Mk 4:39, 40)

The sleeping Church can no longer ignore the alarms. She must become the answer to a consumer-driven culture intent on making gender identity and marriage a figment of our fallen imagination.

What’s at stake is the dignity of persons created in God’s image; will the Church mobilize and guide them into transformation, into becoming icons of the Holy One? Or will she slumber as the vulnerable are conformed to a host of worldly identities which reduce them to idols?

Like Jesus asleep in the boat, we His members must arise and calm the storm by mercifully calling all to chastity and relational integrity. The answers are ours, eternally; now is the hour to declare those answers clearly and humbly. Christians who mumble won’t be heard.

After the Court’s ‘gay marriage’ decision at the end of June, I attended Mass where the pastor alluded to Christian truth amid falsehood but never quite landed; I nearly fell out of my pew waiting for him to say something hopeful and helpful about how the Church’s embrace of persons with same-sex attraction exceeds false solutions to the problem. I waited in vain until the service ended then made a bee-line for the poor guy: ‘Please don’t forget persons like me who are vulnerable…If you the pastor don’t say anything, we won’t hear anything but ‘gay is the way, walk in it.’ “

Then I received a gift in the mail. That same Sunday, a Catholic Church in Pennsylvania (which just happens to run a Living Waters group) put out the most amazing church bulletin I have ever read. Really. Entitled ‘Difficult Conversations for Faithful Catholics’, it laid out a series of brief articles on how to love well persons with SSA while remaining true to one’s Christian conscience. Its premise? We all come to Christ broken; we all need Jesus in order to discover together what it means to become whole. I invite you to download the PDF. .

Simple. Smart. Truly loving. This is the Church who embodies what she preaches and does so with stunning accuracy. Jesus is waking up and arising through His body. All we need to fear is faithlessness. We have the answers. Let’s give them!

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Fountains from the Furnace

‘The burning sand will become a pool; the thirsty ground, a bubbling spring… And a highway will be there; it will be called the way of holiness.’ (IS 35:7, 8)

Jim waited for me after the workshop I taught at Moody’s Pastor’s Conference in Chicago. Apparently passionate about the health of his congregants, he bore a sweet and sober countenance, and asked incisive questions about the wounds beneath immorality. ‘I could pour out my heart to this guy,’ I thought.

Then he shared deeply with me of his own moral crisis with pornography, a habit sourced in an abusive home and a divided religious life where the Spirit never quite overcame the flesh. Until a couple years ago when his world melted down. That began a long process of enlisting the help of a whole healing team, including his wife and elders, and committing to living each day in the light of Love. He has emerged from the furnace and is becoming a fountain of mercy for all who love Jesus but still live divided lives. He wants to pastor them into wholeness.

Next stop, Palm Springs. My friend Brian left the Midwest and a conservative, abusive family not unlike Jim’s and ended up in the desert. He found plenty of men like him seeking confirmation through confusing sexual bonds. He left this ‘gay’ furnace only to return a couple years later, humbled by his excesses and earnestly seeking the God of his youth whose answers he needed for his adult conflicts. He found a church that was starting to run CrossCurrent; he became an avid participant then a leader.

He also began investing in his gifts as a painter, so much so that his church put him in charge of an art gallery right in the thick of Palm Springs where he showcased his inspired work (see image). He deepened in the ‘healing arts’ as well, experiencing numerous miracles as he testified and prayed with persons in the gallery and in healing groups.

Nicole worked for the church started coming to one of the groups just to learn how to better care for all the gay-identified folks around her. She and Brian became friends and over time grew in love with each other. They were married and now have two kids.

Brian and Nicole want nothing more than to dig a deep well in their desert home, and to prime churches throughout the Coachella Valley to become evident sources of living water. They have a passion for restoring persons who seek to heal their wounds through sexual unions that only keep them wounded.

Rescued from the furnace, Jim and Brian are now fountains of life. Let mercy roll like a river through all who discover Jesus in dry and weary lands.

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Three Glorious Things You Don’t Know About France

I write this from a tiny hotel room in Paris, just a stone’s throw from the Bastille—the site and symbol of the French Revolution. A golden figure dedicated to ‘human glory’ presides over the Bastille; I marvel at how Jesus alone is making France glorious.

First glorious fact. Did you know that when France legalized ‘gay marriage’ in June of 2013, her people initiated the biggest series of demonstrations for real marriage that our world has ever seen? 350,000 persons peacefully gathered in Paris under the banner ‘Demonstration for All’ in January of 2013, then again in May of that year and twice in 2014.

Carrying signs which read like the titles of Living Waters’ Chapters—for example, ‘Difference is the key to existence’–many French persons realized from their Catholic heritage that you cannot remove gender complementarity from marriage without imperiling everyone in the culture, including generations-to-come. So they demonstrated for marriage on behalf of all citizens, and included in their protest the corresponding legal drive in France for creating ‘gay’ families through adoption and in-vitro fertilization, as well as new initiatives for introducing ‘gay’ education in French primary schools.

France championed marriage gloriously; America, take note. Perhaps we can take our cues from France as the Supreme Court decides how we shall define marriage next month.

Second glorious fact. Did you know that France has the strongest expression of Living Waters in the world? Over the last twenty years, amazing leaders (bless you Werner and Charlotte) have rallied Christians of all stripes in their local churches to seek Jesus as the One who restores His image in us, humanity as male and female.

This weekend, teams of men and women, Protestant and Catholic, homosexual and heterosexual strugglers gathered from around France to celebrate 20 years of ‘Torrents de Vie’ (French Living Waters). We rejoiced together in the merciful freedom we find as we open our wounds to the Crucified, and the gifts He gives through His members. Living Waters has helped France become glorious.

Third glorious fact, and the least important to all but me: my colleagues in France are among my best. It is rare to love as deeply as I do the persons with whom I collaborate there. Thoughtful, independent, creative, and passionately devoted to Jesus and His Church, these saints reside in my heart. We will cheer one another on to glory.

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Changing Hearts and Minds

Many Christians seek to be ‘on the right side of history’ by embracing ‘gay marriage.’ Jesus is not fooled. He exposes the fault lines underneath such thinking and reveals His heart to ours.

Last month at our Living Waters Training a woman admitted that she was all for ‘marriage equality’ and that her position put her at odds with her husband who felt otherwise. She believed that ‘gay’ is natural—inborn, intrinsic, immovable. If God made people ‘gay’, why would He not grant them marriage rights?

Similarly, she approached the training from a rather immovable posture. Though she wanted to learn more about helping people, she herself was not that open to being helped. God had other plans. He provided the mercy she needed to open to Him and others in the unseen, wounded areas of her life.

Similarly, she witnessed the suffering of men and women with same-sex attraction and for the first time could see the root issues at the core of their struggles. Like her, these persons had been subject to gaps and wounds that frustrated God’s best for them. And she began to experience how He could heal them through His Church, even how she might contribute to their transformation.

“Not only do I now see ‘gay marriage’ as a bad idea, I am convicted about the things that drive same-sex attraction and the healing that is available for it…”

Next month, the Supreme Court will decide on marriage ‘equality.’ America may well go the way of our friend before she learned the truth.

We who bear that truth have our work cut out for us. By making known the depth of our brokenness, and the beauty of God’s healing, including for persons with SSA, we proclaim the Gospel—the good news of His Kingdom come to earth. In so doing, we can change hearts and minds.

Instead of passive resignation to the majority view, let us be provoked by God’s side of history. His is the only side worth fighting for.

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