Category: Mercy and Healing

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Little Monsters

The ongoing outing of men acting badly (Les Moonves of CBS, new evidence against Weinstein, Cardinal McCarrick and his cronies, hundreds of American priests who abused in the second half of the 20th century) may tempt us more to disgust than self-examination. I refer here to my brothers who may not be big players in the Catholic hierarchy or media but who are familiar with sexual disintegration—ways we have squandered our powers of life and love.

The cycle is all-too-familiar: high stress, low significance, mounting pain, decreasing words, sensational pleasure, greater shame, riskier business, escalating shame, huge-consequences-if-caught, SILENCE. Until exposed. Then the glare of public scorn burns off hope of restoration.

We may never have coerced another person sexually but our sins of omission and commission have doubtlessly wounded others. And fractured our dignity. We thank God that we are not felons yet we share in the wound of corruption common to men, disordered desire which results from mistaking random sexual release with power. Then the delusion: ‘it’s what I need’, or ‘(s)he likes it.’

This is especially tragic when paired with religion. Many of the abusive priests were orthodox in their understanding of purity. They just failed to become what they believed. Mastered by lust and shame, they learned to compartmentalize, to live elsewhere, to tune out the lament of a dying conscience and conjure an unreal world. Then religion becomes part of the defense against reality. I dreamt last night of a priest who wrapped himself tightly in scholarly and spiritual vestments; instead of guiding or cleansing him, these garments protected then mummified him, hastening a shameful death. ‘If religion does not make you better, it can make you a whole lot worse’, to quote C.S. Lewis.

What good purpose can these monstrous sins have? They can reveal our little monsters, men, and invite us to do urgently and persistently what Weinstein and Moonves and McCarrick never did: we can expose ourselves before the throne of grace and receive grace to help us’ (Heb. 4:16) so that our little monsters stay small and cease to govern us. Rather, we tame them, and learn to direct our sexual energies in alignment with the dignity afforded us by God and His friends.

We must be the first to confess our sins, to reveal our monsters before we are silenced by shame and dwell in darkness. Presumption and pride fall away, and the narrow way which leads to life becomes lit for our brothers. That is precisely what we as men accomplish together in Living Waters. We live in the light of mercy for 6 months of daily accountability; connection rather than shameful isolation begin to define our lives.

In the shaking, the exposure of monstrous things, we can fall on the Rock before it falls on us.

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AB 2943: Love Greater than Fear

California Assemblyman Evan Low’s decision to not send his bill for a final vote is a marvel of love, the love that casts out fear (1 JN 4:18).

Christians of all stripes came together gently, lovingly to uphold the truth of how we see reality: God made humanity in His image as male and female. We must be true to God our Creator and His will which frames LGBT+ reality as disorder; in the same breath, the faithful are true to our Redeemer who beholds all persons—including LGBT+ activists and politicians–with eyes of mercy and always invites the lonely into families where disordered ones can be loved into wholeness.

In every conversation and gathering, I had about 2943, Christians, especially the many pastors who took a stand, exhibited an unflinching heart of truth through the face of compassion. Down-to-earth, prayerful, and ethnically diverse saints endured with kindness the mockery of LGBT+ activists in order to ensure that their Christian consciences would not be outlawed by AB 2943. These are disciples who look out, not for themselves, but for the interests of Jesus Christ (Phil. 2: 21).

So Christians conveyed unchanging truth with deep compassion. That love overcame fear. Evan Low, a ‘gay’-identified politician, feared that these pastors were small-minded, autocratic moralists who wanted to close the horizon for LGBT+ persons. Courageous and just, he stood on trembling legs and listened to a number of these pastors who made a case for churches to have choice regarding sexual identification. Low heard them, and despite differing opinions, he realized that the Christian view was neither controlling nor manipulative. Freed from unfounded concerns, he concluded that AB 2943 was an inadequate bill.

Would you please pray for Evan Low in this season? He is under fire from his LGBT+ support base for withdrawing a bill that would have passed. He deserves our respect and our prayers.

Keep in mind that this marvel of love is not perfect. Low still wants to stop all clinical efforts to overcome gender identity issues, and I am concerned by the CA Christian leaders who threw their counseling friends under the bus by agreeing with Low on this point. Evan’s concerns will re-emerge in 2019 in another bill. We will be ready, conveying truth-in-love that casts out fear.

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‘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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