I woke from a fitful sleep, jet-lagged and already critical of the things that awaited me at morning Mass. I countered with a prayer for humility and tolerance of things I dislike like dour congregants and uninspiring music. After all, it is Easter! Jesus is walking through walls and telling folks to get their hands off Him then insisting that they lay hands on Him—all kinds of messy, unpredictable stuff.
I cringed slightly as I eyed the cantor for the morn; golden in her intentions, her voice hurts me. As she geared up for the processional hymn, she appeared shaken like a diver peering into the pool below and realizing it may not be deep enough. But she soldiered on and was soon joined by the booming off-key voice of a visiting pastor whose joy in serving us that morning overtook all else.
His sheer exuberance invited us all in to celebrate: Jesus is alive, and that changes everything. Like my critical spirit. Listening to cantor and pastor make a joyful noise at once delighted and convicted me. God is so much bigger than my snide critique. He wants to blow open our defenses, walk through our walls, and rouse us to cooperate with Him in dissolving others’ defenses against the Holy One.
The pastor grinned from ear-to-ear as he showered us with the waters of cleansing (a cool Catholic thing for the several Sundays of Easter); I obviously needed to renew my baptismal vows that Sunday! And I found that if I sang along with the cantor during the offertory I could not afford to be critical of her. The pastor sermonized powerfully on how community is essentially for grasping the hope of new life—we behold the glorified One together. I was proud to be there.
I left Church joyful, expectant. I wanted to give new life away. Later on I ran into a guy whom I had met a few years back. At that time he announced to me rather arrogantly that he was a ‘gay Christian’ with a new boyfriend. Things had gone badly for him: I could tell from his few words and demeanor that he was suffering. Though he did not recognize me at first, I did him and I told him specific things I had not ceased praying for him in the last five years. He was speechless and teary-eyed.
Messy, joyful Jesus is on the move. Walk through walls with Him. It is Easter and that changes everything.
The Archbishop of Latvia rallied the major Christian leaders in his nation—Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist, Roman Catholic—to stand together for God’s image in humanity and to refuse an effort of the European Union to legislate ‘gender ideology’ throughout the continent.
Christian efforts appeared to be doomed. But united as one bloc, Christ’s body prevailed and the legislation was defeated. Little Latvia slayed Goliath.
To do so, all the Church had to do was to assert her truth: there is no such thing as ‘gay marriage’–the marital union intrinsically involves becoming one-flesh, a physical and spiritual impossibility in same gender couples. Nor does ‘transgender’ actually exist, as it is a physical and spiritual impossibility for one to change his or her biological gender. Finally, the Church cannot mistake the need to defend the dignity of women for defending the ‘gender spectrum’—fifty ‘gender selves’ that are multiplying like fissures upon the cracked image of God in humanity. Rather, the Church upholds two natures—male and female; she advocates for the dignity of both genders while inviting people into reality.
The good Archbishop, a good friend and advocate of Living Waters in Latvia, is committed to the language and pastoral practice of helping people find reality. We cannot concede to unreality, whether in speech or political advocacy. Only the foundations of reality help wounded persons to find healing. We uphold reality in order to help persons heal.
On the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, we are committed to becoming living witnesses of reality—who we actually are and how Jesus helps us to realize those selves through His healing community. And this is what we did in our most recent trip to the Baltic nations—Latvia and Lithuania in particular—where we are partnering with the likes of the good Archbishop who is committed to the Church becoming a fountain of mercy for persons withering in the unreality of the ‘gender spectrum.’
I marveled at one gathering in which we instructed and prayed for eight teams from throughout Latvia who are committed to welcoming persons from a spectrum of identity brokenness, real persons who need merciful members of Christ to help them heal, to become who He made them to be. Reality. Healing.
Jesus casts out robbers from His Father’s house for us. That starts with the integrity of our personal temples. He cares about our dignity as male and female and hates that dignity to be defiled. Though we are made in His image, that image is marred and He gives all to redeem it. We must do our part. When others obstruct our efforts at becoming who He made us to be, they infuriate Him; Jesus acts decisively to cast out those robbers.
Such robbery is on full display in the California legislature. Three bills are up for a vote one week from Monday (April 9th) and each bill bars human beings from securing the help they need to become integrated gendered beings. Please pray with us this Holy Week that Jesus might hear our prayers and vanquish these robbers. Consider:
AB 1779: Six years after CA led the nation in outlawing helpers from offering clinical service to minors seeking to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction, legislators are now trying to impose this violation of personal rights on adults too, starting here. This bill would ban any adult under guardianship from securing help for same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. The narrow application here (adults under legal care of another adult) is a bridge that will be used in the future to ban all services for adults seeking help to overcome same-sex attraction or dysphoria. California cannot afford make outlaws of skilled Christian helpers for the broken!
AB 2943 is worse. This bill prohibits the sale of any resources that aim to reduce same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. That means all publications, healing or counseling resources, conferences, and teaching opportunities that involve financial cost. This outrageous bill is designed to obstruct any Christian who helps others overcome gender identity disorders; it equally bars persons who seek to align themselves with God’s design for their humanity. It is a slam on free speech and enterprise and mostly, the rights of persons to choose to heal.
AB 2119: Any child in CA foster care must only be offered counseling and medical help that lines up with the gender that the child wants to be. That would outlaw good sense—the truth that we have a gender ordination and that it is physically, psychologically, and spiritually impossible to change gender. A child’s confusion leading to gender mutilation and misery is being enacted here. It is child abuse.
Gratefully, Jesus is stirring up zeal for human dignity, the houses God entrusts to each of us. That applies to today and to the dignity of future generations. Anne Paulk of Restored Hope Network, the Bethel Church Redding, Lou Engel and his intercessory prayer force, and hundreds of Christians are fighting in Sacramento and on their knees to ensure that Jesus and His people vanquish these bills.
Would you join us in praying that these bills come to nothing on Monday April 9th? If you are a Californian, would you contact your assembly person and gently express your opposition to this legislation?
Satan rages against the beauty of God in humanity, and employs well-intentioned persons to do his will. Let’s stop his robbery of human dignity by opposing this legislation.
We are on fire and need fuel to stoke the flames. Help us with a one-time gift.
Here’s the deal. We have been burning with passion for the Church as never before, starting with our 40-day fast last fall for the gender broken then blazing trails in congregations on the west and east coast. Most passionately, we fought hard to ignite a blaze smack dab in the middle. Our Gender Matters conference in February broke all expectations with over 20 different churches represented–both Catholic and evangelicals—from which two Living Waters groups started, upping our number to five churches now on fire to heal the broken in Kansas City.
We are burning! And broke. Last week we paid all of our debts only to discover we were overdrawn at the bank. In all of our fire-starting, we lost sight of how low our funds had become, resulting in pay cuts, failure to print valuable resources, and discouragement (if we let it). Bleech.
So help renew our passion. We are consumed with zeal for the Father’s house and seek only to burn brightly for Him, thereby starting a host of fires. We burn because you fuel us. Better put, God puts us on your heart and you throw a log on the fire. That’s how we blaze.
For over 38 years, Desert Stream Ministries has prayed, encouraged, and helped restore persons who realize only God can answer their deepest cries.
We are in need of $20,000. Please help.
Between now and November, we are gearing up for six week-long Living Waters Trainings throughout the world. A one-time gift would help us get our bearings and launch out with renewed passion. YOUR HELP MATTERS. Give today.
Please give a one-time gift of _______. May zeal for His house consume us afresh!
Our Lenten offering is prayer for the whole, broken Church. Not so hard. We are wholly broken, full of faith, bursting with seeds of hope for her best and grateful to sow them in deep rich soil. We are nothing in contrast to how people rate greatness. But in prayerful response to His riches toward us, we have everything. We laugh: barren Sarah (Ge 18:12), David and his giants, a speck of mustard seed (Matt. 17:20), containing within herself a sheltering, towering tree.
So we are very bold to ask God to make His bride magnificent. Advocating for the abused, especially power abuse in which shepherds ruin sheep while saving their own hides, pleading for pastors whose pure hearts are drawn and quartered by unrelenting demands, summoning the sheep who wander alone due to mistrust and childish expectations: we take on Goliath on her behalf.
Our courage comes from the Source Himself, the River of Life loosed from Father and Son, now filling the temple (EZ 47). The beautiful thing about this Source of Living Waters? Any thirsty one can come (IS 55), and anyone can cry out for thirsty ones in peril (LK 11:5-13)—the smaller the better! We are very bold because we take Jesus at His Word, this beautiful God-man who joyfully declares: ‘I have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children’ (LK 10:21). We are bold because like children we don’t know how not to be. We ask straight from our hearts to the Heart whom we know listens and acts for those He loves. He loves us. He alone is the Father who does not disappoint.
Our main sorrow is for those wise and learned ones too big for Him. In our smallness, we cry out for the mercy that reduces kings to car-washers, cardinals to cashiers. Every Tuesday night this Lent we gather in a little chapel off the sanctuary and set up our Divine Mercy banner where Jesus summons us to His river of blood and water: ‘Come and drink, you thirsty; you without money, come, buy, and eat!’ As we sup and pray, the water levels rise and flow out to captives.
Funny. Each week as we prayed a popular speaker filled the sanctuary with hundreds receiving his inspired words. At once grateful, and gleeful over the irony of our small group of five face-down in the shadow cast by 300, we entered a chamber of His heart that renewed our fainting hearts. So much so that our words launched five times over like David’s five smooth stones (1 S 17:40), slaying giants.