Category: Prayer

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Loving the Church

After we shared our desire to do Living Waters in our home church, one of the new pastors exclaimed: ‘It sounds like you love the Church and believe that Jesus can change lives there…’ Exactly. He caught our vision.

Soon after, our Living Waters team gathered with twenty men and women seeking Jesus amid sexual wounds and divides; due to scheduling issues, we gathered in the sanctuary of our beautiful church. Before the Crucified, we bowed down and sang and testified and exchanged shame for great drafts of mercy that seemed to pour from His wounded side. We shall gather faithfully there for weeks. We are thirsty.

You could say we are doing our part to raise the water levels in the temple, in the Spirit of Ez. 47—first ankle deep then to the knees, rising to the waist then over our heads, swimming in the healing flood. We give all to the One who gave all for us and we soak in unfailing love, making a way for wounded ones to discover it too. Right there in God’s house.

That’s what this ‘Radiant’ 40-day-fast is all about. We want to give up minor distractions in order to major on God’s desire for His people to love what He loves, His Church, and to cry out for Him ‘to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of water with the word in order to present her to Himself as a radiant Bride’ (Eph. 5: 25-27).

In doing so, we shall pray together every day starting this Wednesday October 12th. Download this PDF and join us by reflecting on the daily devotional and praying the small prayer at the end of each one. Then focus on the first prayer at the beginning of the prayer guide and pray this daily, imploring God to bless and build up the particular church and set of pastors of your choice, to give you mercy to extend to church ‘wounders’, and finally, to commit to prayer whatever you would like to do to build up the Bride.

It all begins in prayer. Join us for forty days of loving the Church.

Click here to download the ‘Radiant’ 40-day-fast prayer guide PDF.

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love this country united states

Love this Country?

My pastor recently implored us to love this country (or whichever one is ours); he argued, ‘we only seek to save what we love. What we hate we want to destroy or at least be rid of.’

I agree. I work hard to save what I love. I rally around people whom I want to reclaim for God’s Kingdom—my kids, spiritual kids, people whose divided lives and marriages need healing. I hate deceitful attitudes and mindsets designed to bar people from God’s Kingdom; I want to expose what blocks genuine mercy.

But my country? I feel divided toward her, neither hateful nor impassioned with love for her well-being. I am at best detached from her, due in part to Obama’s treachery in courting American voters in 2008 with a pro (real) marriage ticket then revealing his hand in a series of gender-bending power plays over 8 long years. Hillary will quicken the slide into inhumanity (at least she’s honest about it), unless she is Trumped. I muse at the absurdity of choosing either candidate—the wall-building bully or the ‘empowered’ woman who uses her strength to close the womb or kill its fruit.

But I remember America’s goodness too: her beauty, her generosity, how her citizens have fueled Kingdom efforts throughout the globe. I am grateful, and realize that no amount of bad politics can snuff out the simple power of the Gospel that her citizens have extended with clarity and ingenuity.

I confess I don’t know how to love America, any more than I know how to vote in November. But I will seek to love her by fighting for the law written in every American’s heart (Rom. 2:15), raw treasure that Jesus still seeks to provoke and fulfill. I will fight to save what is good and true and just about my country.

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An Open Letter to Every Man who Leaves Wife/Kids Because He is ‘Gay’

An Open Letter to Every Man who Leaves Wife/Kids Because He is ‘Gay’

Dear ____,

Bless you for finally being open about your same-sex attraction. That is a brave step and I pray that God and a faithful community will honor your confession. You have a big part to play in whether your honesty honors you and your loved ones.

What you are admitting is that you have desires that seem to conflict with loving your wife and children. That is different from assuming a ‘gay’ identity. As we are sons of the one Father, made in His image, we can agree that God sees us not as ‘homosexuals’ but as His men. He calls all men to live in right relationship with our brothers and to choose (or not) to express our sexuality in a loving bond with a particular woman and to open together to the new lives created by marital love.

Guess what? You made that choice! What best defines our sexual humanity is not our feelings but our capacity to make sound, thoughtful decisions about what we do with our sexuality. Your choice to marry and to have children defines you far more powerfully than same-sex attraction. Plus, the person you said ‘yes’ to with your body and the lives you fathered need you. Your freedom depends on it. You will never find happiness outside of your faithfulness to these relationships.

You say you hoped that marriage would resolve your same-sex attraction. It does not. In fact, it tends to highlight the many desires that conflict with being faithful to our loved ones. That is where love finds its most perfect expression. Your same-sex attraction is the tool God wants to use to teach you to love others because they are worthy of love, not because all your needs are being met. Welcome to ‘the club of men with conflicting desires’; welcome to the Cross whereby we surrender worldly dreams and mobilize for real people, real love.

I am surprised you never sought out any help for your same-sex attraction. God wants to use your ‘secret’ to cause you to grow through conflicting desires, not in spite of them. You have not exhausted the depths of the help available to you through Courage or the Restored Hope Network. The question is: will your honesty lead you to repentance or will it be an excuse to leave your loved ones for the ‘gay’ life? You are already playing victim. Don’t. You are not one. You can make choices for fidelity in the full light of your same-sex attraction.

Doubtless, many persons today will champion you ‘coming out’ as an act of bravery. Get real. If your honesty results in divorce, you act like a coward and subject your loved ones to grave injustice. St. John of the Cross said: ‘In the end, we will be judged by love.’ In light of your admitted weakness, choose love, real love and so prepare for eternity today. If you choose your ‘gay’ freedom instead, you will inflict damage on all you influence and will suffer eternal consequence.

We do not choose our desires but we choose what we do with them. Choose well friend. Please feel free to contact us at Desert Stream/Living Waters if you want to talk through your options. Don’t get lost in our cultural confusion. Last week, a new study came out that documented how gay unions in the USA have doubled in the last 25 years. Don’t be a casualty. Don’t make loved ones a casualty. I urge you to think and act and love like a Christian. Bless you friend. Hope we will hear from you.

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Doing Great Works

Doing the Greater Works (Without Us)

My Living Waters small group co-leader debriefed with me about the session he had led the night before in my absence: ‘It went great: the guys opened up and Jim received deeply from the Lord as we prayed for him. The Holy Spirit was very present…’ Our group is not uncomplicated and I felt just a trace of unbelief—‘Really, that good without me?’

My arrogance aside, I recalled Jesus’ astounding promise to the disciples on the eve of His leaving them and sending His Spirit: ‘I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father’ (JN 14: 12).

Jesus had to leave the disciples in order for them to take the next step in their journey of faith. He knew what they needed to grow: to step out in faith on the leading of the unseen ‘Spirit of truth’ (JN 14:17) whom Jesus promised would ‘teach them everything and remind them of everything He had said’ (JN 14:26). ‘Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you’ (JN 16:7)…

Jesus had to decrease in order for the saints to increase in faithful allegiance to Him. Perhaps we need the challenge. It is hard to sort out who He is and how to represent Him when He’s not around. Yes, the Scripture guides us, yes the apostles and church tradition guide us too, and yes, it is still really hard to figure out ‘what would Jesus do.’ So He gives us His Spirit. Becoming a person of the Spirit–called by Jesus to do greater works than He did in the power of that Spirit–requires His absence. No other way to grow: to step out into the void knowing deeper still that He goes before us and makes a way for miracles, miracles that we accomplish in His Spirit’s power.

If the entire Church is built on such a premise, how much more does it apply to our equipping and releasing the saints to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4: 12)? How often do we as ministers limit what another can do without us? Of course wisdom and training and timing come to play in releasing people to certain tasks, especially tasks involving the delicate care of souls. Nevertheless, I am convinced that the Church often fails to ‘do the greater works’ because elders (like me) find a comfortable niche which does not include making a way for others to do what the Spirit can only do through them, without us!

If Jesus must decrease in order for the Spirit to increase in the people of God, how much more must we decrease and make room for younger ones to take their places in the Church? God showed me this clearly about 15 years ago in New Zealand. I was with my teen son Nick who joined me in my daily runs throughout Auckland. At first I easily beat him yet by the trip’s end he trounced me. Tempted by the same trace of unbelief I felt toward my small group co-leader’s successful solo ‘run’, I straightened up and the Spirit reminded me: ‘Prepare to pass many batons to younger ones who will outrun you in the power of my Spirit…’ Amen

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blazing love

Blazing Love

‘Everyone will be salted with fire.’ (MK 9:49)

I met Ross a couple of years ago and could tell by his puzzled yet open face that he knew little about religion, for better or worse. He did seem attentive to my offering that God—a Father—cared for him and wanted the best for him. It made sense to Ross that if God had set him on course in the first place then He probably did care how his life turned out.

Over the next couple of years, I prayed often for Ross and encouraged him when I could. I could not read his detours precisely. He did confess to drinking way too much and his ache seemed open to both genders. I did not know; in these days of gender gymnastics, I neither trust my ‘gay-dar’ nor do I believe in boxing someone into dead-ended categories. I cared for him as an estranged son of the Father.

Some days his hangovers made him look 10 years older; other days he looked expectant, especially when his lucrative job promised more money. Yet I could see a longing in him for something more. Maybe that’s why he did not avoid me when I came around.

Yesterday in prayer, the Father re-ignited His desire for Ross in my heart. I knew it was the Holy Spirit. I agreed with God that if I ran into him I would act decisively. Sure enough, when I bumped into Ross and he told me that he was soon leaving Kansas City for a job offer elsewhere, holy fire blazed in my heart and I prophesied over him with tears. I reconfirmed the Father’s good will to give him a future and a hope, to free him from robbers who wanted his blood.

Blazing love broke ground in Ross. He expressed a desire to know more about Jesus and His Father before he leaves town. At least he knows now that the Father loves him and desires more for him.

There is a lot of talk in the Church today about loving ‘gays’ but very little is said about our need for the Spirit’s power in doing so. The strongholds of sin are too thick to break through, our own unbelief too great, without blazing love–the flame of the Father’s heart enkindled in our prayers and stoked into a torch by the union of His Spirit with ours.

‘Salt us with Your fire for estranged sons and daughters everywhere, Holy God.’

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