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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Advent 4: Salient Joseph

“When Mary was betrothed to Joseph but before they lived together she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said: ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins’…When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him.” (Matt. 1: 18-21, 24)

To be salient means to be as tenderly responsive to others as one is straight and true to them. A salient father tends to inspire the respect of his wife and rears kids who are well-equipped to navigate life’s riptides. He combines authority with nurture in a way that secures and empowers his family in love. Read more »

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Mercy 3: Sweet Water for Bitter

‘Come all who are thirsty, come to the waters.’ (IS 55: 1)

mercy rocksLast November DSM wound up a 40-day fast in Minneapolis. We prayed for many things, among them 4 states which had ‘gay marriage’ bills. We knew these bills were important. The National Supreme Court had determined to decide two ‘gay marriage’ cases: how the citizens of these four states voted would function as a bell-weather for the Justices.

We fought hard but I knew in my diminished state that something had shifted in the American consciousness. Following the lead of the president, the majority of Americans had adopted the folky, foul view that homosexuality: was sourced in nature not nurture, unchangeable, morally neutral, and comparable to ethnicity, thus deserving ‘equal rights.’

Election Day, November 2012. For the first time in US history, each of the four states voted favorably for ‘gay marriage.’ (Never before in any state election had a popular vote carried ‘gay marriage.’) April 2013. The Supreme Court upheld ‘gay marriage’ in California.

Dreadfully clear: the moral majority had become a minority.

That Election Day, we at DSM prayed with the Twin Cities House of Prayer, a venue situated on a campus church of the University of Minneapolis. Midway through our vigil, I took a walk through the campus and was stunned to behold a large minority of students who were almost unrecognizable in their gender identities. With painful clarity I could see how the powerful ‘spirit of the age’ had conformed these young adults to an image far less than that of their Creator.

Evil is real and effectual in these gender wars. The enemy of our souls is disintegrating the lives of a generation. He loves to desecrate who God deems apt representations of Himself.

Back in the prayer room, the leader asked all men and women who had come out of homosexuality to come forward and testify of how Jesus was setting them free from its domination. Humble, earnest voices witnessed to the God of mercy who met them in such kindness and authority: the Father, revealed in Jesus, who had aligned them with true personhood.

I went out a second time onto the campus but this time I could see that our prayers had loosed a healing flood that was pouring out to the crowds. I thought immediately of Ezekiel 47: the healing waters rising in the temple with power to make even bitter waters sweet. In spite of the majority steeped in such bitter waters, I took heart. God is not discouraged. He attends to the cry of those who plead for mercy on behalf of the ‘harassed and helpless.’ He will pour out rivers of sweet water upon the humble and broken. He will set them free.

‘When this water enters the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows…so where the river flows, everything will live…Fruit trees will grow on both banks of the river…Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.’ (EZ. 47)

Prayer Points for November 8th:

• Desert Stream/Living Waters: Georgia, Bev Gammalo, Regional Coordinator. Please pray for the new groups beginning; may the Lord multiply the strong, long-standing groups.

• Restored Hope Network: Apokata Psychological Services, San Jose and San Francisco, CA. Robert Brennan, Director. Specialty: counseling for men dealing with unwanted same-sex attractions.
Living Stones, Glendora, CA. Michael Spence, Director. Specialty: care for families of gay or transgender identified individuals.

• Courage: Please pray for all Encourage members (parents support group), healing for them and their families.

• Cor Project: Please pray for clarity in ongoing discernment of God’s will for the ministry.

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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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Power to Change 3: The Awakening Church

communityChanging deep patterns of sexual desire, behavior and motivation require the support of an entire community: it takes a village, Jesus-style. Any program or therapy is only as good as the greater community of faith surrounding the one seeking change. Perhaps that is why the enemy of sexual integrity seeks first to divide and weaken the church. If Jesus’ body falters toward those with same-sex attraction, no community of healing exists.

But when local churches become advocates of grace and truth for the gender broken, healing rises like sun breaking through clouds. And I am pleased to say that the church is rising in this hour to mobilize for such healing. She has been provoked by ‘gay marriage’ victories, by the confusing face of once reliable ministries, and by the falling away of many whose sexual shame has now become their boast.

Most importantly, her faithful pastors have heard the cries for help from children and parents alike who have been afflicted by homosexuality, sexual abuse, and sexual addiction. In Jesus’ Name, these shepherds are arising to become an answer to the prayers of the faithful.

Take Pastor James Marocco and his large church on Maui with campuses throughout the Pacific Rim. God provoked him to act on behalf of his sexually broken congregants. We are privileged to help the church there initiate safe and deep healing opportunities for the broken. Marocco is not content to merely react to the moral crisis at hand. He is acting on behalf of the God who delivers those in crisis.

Similarly, Catholic leaders in Kansas and Missouri are mobilizing priests, lay-driven support groups, and community-wide forums to offer loving, truthful care for persons with same-sex attraction.

We at Desert Stream are fielding requests from churches throughout the USA who are seeking out healing opportunities for the sexually broken for the first time. They can no longer minimize the suffering of their people, as if the moral decay ‘out there’ does not impact the people in the pews.

Catholic and Protestant churches alike are raising up ancient foundations (Is. 58: 12) for very modern problems. They are intent on becoming the healing presence of Jesus for those who will perish without Him.

We are in a moral eclipse. Right is wrong, and those who disagree are vilified. Good people deceive many. But the deceiver himself is not greater than our God. Satan’s exploitation of ‘homosexuality’ will only provoke God’s people to become what Jesus intends for them—a truthful and powerful community of transformation. What the enemy intends for evil, the Lord turns around for good—‘the saving of many lives’ (Gen. 50:20)–through His holy church.

‘Arise and shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.’ (Is. 60: 1-3)    

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Provoking Life, Part 2

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

SONY DSCAmid the battle for souls—the gravitational pull of sin and sadness–let us discover the upward rising of Easter. The Spirit of Resurrection speaks to us constantly; in truth, ‘the heavens pour forth speech.’(PS 19:2) More evident than the life-signs of spring, we can detect the Spirit of Resurrection everywhere. All we must do is listen and look.

Jesus stormed the gates of hell to get us out of there. Let us encounter the blessed power of this new life in our fellows. Let us declare the triumph of Easter.

Last week I had the privilege of eating lunch at the home of Melissa and Garry Ingraham in upstate New York. Both come out of histories of same-sex attraction; together, united in Christ, they declare His image—humble and whole as man and woman submit to each other out of reverence for Him. (Eph. 5: 21)

Their household is full of life. The couple assumed the care of Garry’s aging parents. Father is dead now but Mother carries on peacefully through their love. Though stooped in body, she stands upright in Christ. Doubtless she is assisted by the joyful presence of the Ingraham’s two toddlers. These boys are forces of life, grounded in love. Both bear witness of an attentive mother whose challenges are offset by the care of a faithful husband.

After a meal with Garry and Melissa, I felt renewed. Instead of being overwhelmed by all the variables of their life, the sheer goodness of that life lifted me up. The Ingrahams testify of Resurrection without sermonizing.

The next day I visited my favorite couple in New York City, Joe and Anne Nolte. Joe is a great friend from Vineyard days, and Anne is a new friend, a doctor and fellow Catholic who received a prophetic call from God. She said ‘yes’ to providing the only genuinely Catholic women’s health clinic in Manhattan. That means no contraception or abortion, with wise and natural help for couples seeking to overcome obstacles to pregnancy. All this in the most expensive and (arguably) secular zone in the USA!

Jesus is committed to life; He has blazed a trail for this faithful woman. She now helps engender life in couple after couple who have found her ‘life-space’—a small suite of offices in midtown Manhattan. And what life! Anne proudly showed me pictures of 180 babies who have been born as a result of her team’s inspired care. Each one is a miracle, an Easter gift delivered by servants who said ‘yes’ to His life.

New York City can be intimidating: rich, inaccessible, proud. Life rises from its depths, more powerful than the down-drag of sin and selfishness.

Jesus has risen from the dead, and we rise with Him. Like the Noltes and the Ingrahams, we have the privilege of including others in that upward surge. He delights in giving us His Kingdom, (Lk 12:32) and our joy hinges on extending that life to others.

‘Without the Life, there is no living.’ (Thomas A Kempis)

‘Let us consider how we may provoke one another to love and good deeds.’ – (Heb. 10: 24)

 

 

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