Category: Living Waters

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Desert Stream Ministries 2013 Mid-Year Newsletter

I am happy to announce the release of Desert Stream Ministries 2013 Mid-year Newsletter.

The newsletter features articles written by myself and Annette along with special Desert Stream Ministries 2013 Mid-Year Newslettercontributions from friends of Desert Stream.

In Intimate Authority, Tender Army, I write:

Mary Magdalene is considered by the Roman Catholic Church to be the Apostle of Apostles. Why? The risen Christ revealed Himself to her first; out of all the disciples, God entrusted her with the witness of the resurrection.

How can this be? Mary had no authority in the eyes of men. Living on the fringe of a ‘religious’ culture, she is commonly understood to have traded her body for money. Moral poverty made her less than credible; she cast a shadow on the company she kept.

Jesus drew her out of the shadows. He offered her a love deeper than shame and more powerful than the demons she housed. He made her new. In His intimate love for her, Mary became mighty. God entrusted her to bear witness of history’s greatest event.

Click here to download the complete newsletter.

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Provoking Life 3

‘Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.’ (Jn 12: 24)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEaster is best realized in contrasts. Like green shoots emerging from a burnt field, new life is most appreciated against the backdrop of loss. Easter invites us to consider what Jesus is raising up from the ashes.

I hope I am not being dramatic here. After all, Scripture implores us to count all things loss for the sake of knowing Him more. (Phil. 3: 7, 8) These losses may be deeply personal: long-held expectations and aspirations that we have forsaken for the Gospel. It can also be the disorientation we experience when those around us change. Familiar rallying points crumble before our eyes. We are left anxious and more alone, unsure of what lies ahead and of our capacity to make it through a new wilderness.

But Jesus is not shaken. The Risen Lord waits for us to look to Him in ways that we would not were the course familiar. Easter means looking only to Him. It is easy to deny ourselves when our maps and instincts fail. Fear can give rise to faith in the One who is Light in darkness, Truth in trembling, the Way in our wilderness.

As I have reflected upon this past year leading up to Easter. I have marveled at the shifts in my life that have grounded me deeper in Jesus. Admittedly, I have lived most of my adult life as a Christian in joyful conflict with the culture. Yet in the last year I have experienced more resistance to what I hold true than in the 32 years of ministry that preceded it.

What I know to be true is now denounced as false, even scandalous and inhuman. The majority cannot hear about the transformation of persons with same-sex attraction without the assumption that one is a liar, a brain-washer, a right-wing extremist, or at worst, an accomplice to the suicide of ‘gay’ kids who cannot endure such ‘hate.’

Through it all, my wife Annette and I draw upon the life Jesus gives us to love each other well. And to declare more clearly than ever the Way to wholeness for those broken in boundaries and gender identity. The contrast between truth and falsehood has never been sharper. So shall our witness be brighter in the light of our Risen King.

The other day I asked Jesus to show me whatever gain could be found in ongoing surrender to Him amid the devolving culture. Immediately, He showed me a body bursting with what looked like tiny bean sprouts. Teeming with new life, that body could not contain the new life planted there! I knew right away that these were seeds of truth and grace He had sustained for this hour. Through His faithful witnesses, He intends to unfurl every one for the restoration of many.

Annette and I just gathered with our main Living Waters leaders from around the USA  gathered to reveal Jesus to each other. Sure enough, the majority bore the marks of significant losses: broken fellowship with churches, leaders, and friends as a result of seismic shifts in attitude about homosexuality. But the broken ground of our lives together became rich soil in which crushed seeds of hope and healing emerged. Jesus made the blackened field green with new life. Living Water is transforming our ‘deserts’ into oases for many.

What mattered most in our fellowship was the witness of the Risen Lord who becomes our gain, and through us, gains a people for Himself. In this we provoke one another. We ache and articulate grief in order to make more room for Him and our fellows. He is galvanizing us for such a time as this.

‘May the thorns of sin which wound the human heart leave room for new shoots of grace, of God’s presence and love, which triumph over sin and death.’ – Pope Emeritus Benedict

 

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Lent 1: First Love

‘You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will remove your lampstand from its place.’ (Rev. 2: 4, 5)

Girl heart skyAfter three weeks on the road, I settled in on the plane ride home. It felt good just to be next to Annette, smelling her faint perfume and touching legs. No words needed: just peaceful solidarity. I drew strength silently from the one I love most.

How much more does God want us to settle next to Him, to draw wordlessly from His very Presence?

Lent calls us back to the Source. Just in time: I am ‘worded out’. Speech never ceased in my efforts to help equip the Church in New Zealand and Los Angeles to stay true to Jesus in healing, purity and the proper definition of marriage.

All for Jesus while losing track of the One Thing needful: Jesus! Maybe that’s what happened to the Church at Ephesus (Rev. 2: 1-7). They were a disciplined and vigilante lot, smoking out false apostles and resisting the gnostic Nicolaitans who may well have incorporated sexual immorality into their skewed spirituality. Jesus especially commends them for ‘hating their practices’ as much as He does. (v. 6)

But tireless zeal for His house cost the Ephesians big-time. They were gaining holiness and losing God! Their works for Him had overtaken their devotion to Him; intrepid Martha left Mary in the dust. Seated at Jesus’ feet, Mary ‘had chosen the better thing that would not be taken from her’ (Lk 10: 42). But now the entire Church at Ephesus ran the risk of losing everything if they failed to turn back to Jesus, their first love. (v. 5b)

Serious business: ‘You have forsaken your first love,’ said Jesus (v. 4) Perhaps their works were no longer sourced in prayer, their prophetic efforts detached from gratitude toward God’s saving them. (Ouch!) St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians come to mind: ‘If I give all to the poor and surrender my body to flames but have not love, I gain nothing…’ (1Cor 13:3)

Love to give is always sourced in remembering the love He gives us. So Jesus implores the Ephesians to ‘remember the height from which you have fallen!’ (v. 5) Remember mercy! The city of Ephesus enshrined the erotic goddess Diana; Christians there would have previously worshipped her through temple prostitutes. It is as if Jesus is saying: ‘Remember how I raised you from the dead of idolatry? Return to Mercy; return to Me.’

Jesus wants to reconnect our good works with His good work in reclaiming our lives. He made us His own because He loved us! Even our attentiveness to His saving work cannot change the fact that His loving action preceded ours.

He calls all of us to ‘repent and do the things we did at first.’ (v. 5) Consider what you used to do when Mercy was new. How did gratitude express itself in your walk with Jesus? Did you spend more time with Him devotionally? Gather to worship more frequently? Evangelize more naturally? Give out of the overflow?

Perhaps God wants to renew your youth by calling you back to Himself this Lent. Perhaps your good efforts to serve Him have overtaken devotion to Him. Remember Mercy: His mercy toward you. May this Lent prepare us to do what we can only do through intimate communion with Him.

‘Be still and know that I am God.’ (PS 46:10)

‘The only thing that counts is faith working through love.’ (Gal. 5:6)

 

 

 

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October 11, 2012 (Psalm 4:3)

‘Know that the Lord works wonders for the faithful’ (Ps. 4:3 NAB)

For the last 32 years, my joy has been leading others beside ‘living waters’, the sin-washing, life-giving flood Jesus releases when the broken gather in His Body to be healed.  Annette and I started our adult service together by gathering men and women in the Name of Jesus (and our local church!) to exchange their gay selves for Jesus-oriented ones. He is the stronghold greater than our sin—He clothes us in justice and mercy when we offer to Him our shameful nakedness.

Since that first group, God has called men and women from around the world to pick up shovels and dig ditches in their local churches—deep furrows that can contain ‘living water’ and welcome the thirsty to immerse themselves in its life-giving, healing flow. Our deep wounds and persistent temptations are no match for mercy. Nor is our small stature as His ministers. God does not call us to be huge; He calls us to be faithful: one shovel-full of dirt, one sprinkling of water, one sinner at a time. He wants people to be healed so much that He uses even us. We are simply tools in His hands. The healing flood is all His.

“This is what the Lord said: ‘Make the valley full of ditches. You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord.’ The next morning, there it was—water flowing from the direction of Edom! And the land was filled with water.” (2Kings 3: 16-20)

‘Spring up, O well! As we gather as Your people, seeking You for refuge and restoration, pour out the water of Life. In the words of St. Faustina Kowalska: ‘O blood and water that flows from the heart of the Savior as a fount of mercy for us, we trust in You.’ In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we confess our sins of cowardice and compromise. We have violated Your holy commands in regards to what we have done to our bodies and other bodies. And in our compromise we have become cowards, unwilling to stand for what we know to be true for the dignity of all. We ask that You might have mercy on Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington; uphold marriage in these states, and in our nation, as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on ‘gay marriage.

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Heaven on Earth

Portland OregonJust prior to the two days of intensive conferencing in Portland OR, I felt a familiar heaviness, and began to question (quietly) the purpose of gathering from around the Northwest to proclaim and administer healing for the sexually broken. ‘No-one will come…Portland is too liberal for ‘healing the homosexual’…You’ve lost your anointing and relevance.’

Amid my demonic accusations, co-host Karen Davis said quietly: ‘God does amazing things through prayer…’ Sure enough, as we gathered to pray before the conference, regional leader Deb Ivancovich anointed each of us and proclaimed that God would do mighty things, far beyond our understanding. The cloud around me dissipated and could see clearly once more.

I gazed around the room at the prayer/teaching team composed of 13 men and women from around the area, all Living Waters leaders, whom I had known for years from trainings and conferences and visits to their churches; each had carried the cross through deep wounds and moral weaknesses and loved the chance (yet again!) to stir up the waters of powerful mercy and to extend those waters to others.

These were family members, wounded healers whose presence had altered the culture of their churches; where they worshipped and served, ‘living water’ flowed for sexually broken people. As many shared their stories throughout the day, I was awed at the earthy yet utterly hopeful way they understood God’s faithfulness. Steps forward, steps backward—in everything submitted to Jesus, a chance to know Him more and to understand the depth of one’s destitution without Him.

Their tender yet strong faith, seasoned through years of service and ever deepening healing, made a way for newcomers who had never before encountered such a prayerful, candid family. A group of young adults drank in God’s healing presence through the laying on of hands, and insisted on follow-up. They now eagerly await the beginning of a new Living Waters group starting up at the church that sponsored the conference.

We as a team had the last of several meals together. In spite of much output aimed at deep, overwhelming needs, we felt at peace, even renewed. A humble, beautiful family, prayerfully relying upon the merciful God: heaven on earth.

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