Category: Mercy and Healing

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

‘Becoming Good News’ for Wandering Loved Ones

I am excited about a new booklet I just wrote–‘Becoming Good News’–a daily, 40-part prayer guide for those of us seeking to love persons mesmerized by the LGBT+ dragon. Jonathan Hunter prayerfully glimpsed this brute: a shimmering beast that entrances a generation with the promise of new identities and partnerships. Having lured them, the dragon then loses them with one swift flick of its tail. Our common enemy is merciless to those seduced by this multi-faceted mirror of deception. We are right to be concerned for loved ones.

Yet we are all creatures of free will. We cannot change anyone; still we try, and can be tempted to employ our faith to control and manipulate others. ‘Becoming Good News’ majors on the truth that another’s disorientation invites us to conversion. We discover in our helplessness and shame and fear that Jesus is actually calling us to Himself. Simply put, He employs another’s more obvious disorder to reveal our own.

That disorder may take on two forms, either becoming complicit or contemptuous of the dragon’s influence. The complicit are worldly in their thinking but do not know it. We believe that we are being merciful–non-judgey–to loved ones by altering our truth in order to accommodate their poor moral choices. Aren’t we just cowardly, afraid to see and feel the truth of our loved ones’ devolution? Out of unexpressed anxiety come silly statements like ‘my gay son is perfect’ or ‘my lesbian neighbors are the most Christ-like couple I know.’ Bleech. Me thinks we fawn too much. We are just dodging the truth that someone we care for is in danger and we do not know what to do. So we concede to the culture. And people-pleasing. We need conversion, not caving.

Another trap is contempt. Here we appear to have the right on our side: the truth of God’s will for human sexuality, etc. But our hearts are not right. Though we plead ‘righteous indignation,’ we are actually projecting our anxiety onto good people (however wounded and rebellious) and hating them for their bad choices. Instead of identifying the dragon, we take aim and fire at those under its sway. Easy to do. Sickened by media glamorization of identity confusion and adultery of all kinds, we conceive the temptation to hate the deceived. We are like the Pharisee (LK 18) who thanked God he wasn’t an adulterer. We must repent of religious pride that breeds contempt, and ask for mercy’s conversion.

Whether complicit or contemptuous, we need conversion. Jesus asks for our undivided devotion; He changes us so that our offer of transformation is matched by our becoming whole. That is the invitation of ‘Becoming Good News.’ You can request more info on this new book at BecomingGoodNews@desertstream.org. And you can calendar in Oct. 10th-Nov. 18th, 2018 for a prayer drive this fall, using this book. Let’s cry out together for loved ones under the dragon’s sway. May our repentance loose a stream of truth and mercy that will convert hearts, starting with our own.

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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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Polish Spring

‘See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come.’ (SS 2:11, 12)

Amid abuse and cover-up, confusion from Pope Francis regarding homosexuality and Irish citizens overturning their abortion ban, the Spirit of Pentecost enveloped a hundred of us in Krakow Poland who gathered for our second Living Waters Training there.

We couldn’t stop singing, and the Spirit kept raining on us as we offered our brokenness to the Crucified in tears and joy. Surrounding our songs was a chorus of birds that worshipped day and night in huge trees that flanked us on every side.

Trainings are just that: arduous, messy, shame and glory, revelation amid hard reality. Why now after seven 16-hour-days am I refreshed? All I know is that I was buoyed, as if I caught a current of the Kingdom and knew intuitively how to navigate the waters. Extraordinary.

It is easy for an outsider to idealize this land of St. John Paul ll and St. Faustina. Traditional values are evident (Poland is not sympathetic to ‘reproductive rights’ and LGBT+ aspirations) and create a kind of moral clarity not evident in America or Western Europe. The Church here is cohesive, a national rallying point amid devastating historic batterings. To many Poles, Jesus through His Mother (Church) sustained the nation’s hope and dignity throughout centuries.

Yet good ethics and history can become prison bars unless the Spirit liberates wounded lives. The Poles may be clearer in their devotion to Christ than many Europeans today but they are no less broken by their bloody history, which gave rise to deep patterns of family disorder, including disordered church dynamics.

For these reasons, I take heart that many Poles are facing their wounds forthrightly with each other. I am in awe of men and women we have now walked with for three years who are different people today: joyful, not glum, with a new well-being in their gendered, bodily humanity. They no longer avoid others’ gaze. One young woman whom I first met in Lithuania couldn’t walk unassisted due to the oppression of her sin and wounds. During this training she bounded around the site, taught better than I did, and will return refreshed to her hometown to lead a Living Water group which is changing the culture of her church.

Most importantly, the nine Polish priests who attended the training taught and shared openly about their wounds and sins against chastity. They honored their office by making clear they live through the wounds of Jesus discovered in His broken merciful members. They released deep drafts of mercy for all of us. We exhausted them and each other in laying bare our need for ongoing conversion.

Wearied in doing well, we welcomed the Spirit’s refreshment. He is accomplishing in the Polish Church what we can only hope for. A Polish Spring, welling up with song in the Spirit of Pentecost: He will have His way with His Church.

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Surrounded

“‘Go in the strength you have…am I not sending you?’ ‘But my family is the weakest and I am the least in my family…’ ‘I will be with you’, says the Lord.” (Judges 6:14-16)

I write in weakness; amid our busiest season of international ministry, Jesus has called me to do my part to combat AB 2943, up for vote this June in the California legislature. I combat this clever bit of fascism so that ‘every person experiencing same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria might be allowed to pursue help in achieving desired goals and outcomes.’

The golden state wants to decide our sexual destinies for us. Each of us must effort to keep the path clear for choice. Let us fight for choice together.

Would you please pray in the next couple days today for a press conference we shall be having tomorrow in Orange County, CA at 11am PST (Tuesday the 29th)?

I touch down for a moment in Kansas City after a heavenly training in Krakow Poland and leave soon for this important gathering in Santa Ana sponsored by Pastors United (check it out) where many like me who will testify to the glorious splendor of Jesus’ Kingdom—how He offered Himself as our way forward for sexual wholeness.

Weak, I am surrounded. I have dug wells of ‘living water’ in Southern California for decades; in this dry and weary land, I now experience the refreshment of the saints. Many of my best friends are wounded healers in CA who after years of chaste living and serving the broken in churches will testify alongside of me.

What joy! Alone we are weak, prone to wander, but together the Jesus who is present to the weak empowers us through the gift of one another. Together we sing a resounding hymn of praise that spans octaves of His faithful love in our messy lives. On one point we are utterly clear. Jesus met us in mercy and laid the foundation for a whole new way of loving. In California! There the Creator became our Redeemer; He gave us back our beauty. Let us make that way clear for generations of Californians-to-come.

Pray please, now for tomorrow, 11am PST, Tuesday the 29th. Thank you.

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