Tag Archives: bride

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
unholy hourder

November 16, 2014: Unholy Hoarders

‘I was afraid and I went and hid my talent.’ (Matt. 25:25)

The Gospel and in particular today’s reading on the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25: 14-30) makes it clear: freedom is only found in giving our lives away for others. Fear is the enemy of such freedom. If we doubt the gifts that we are, we lose and so does everyone else. Scripture takes it further. Keeping ourselves wrapped up in fear and self-doubt makes us stingy and miserable, deserving of the loneliness such unholy hoarding incurs.

St. John Paul ll paraphrases Jesus when he wrote his now oft-quoted line: ‘Man can only find himself through the sincere gift of himself.’ (GS 24) Our quest for clarity in any sphere—spiritually, sexually, emotionally—must involve self-giving. Pity the fearful one who stays inside, waiting to be summoned by an intrepid prince or princess. The Prince has come; He has crowned you a gift by virtue of your humanity. Discover that humanity by offering yourself to others!

That call is relevant for persons with damaged relational backgrounds. The only way we change the old set of fearful memories is by offering ourselves. We heed Prince Jesus at every turn. Eventually, we get it. Even if another does not value the gift that we are, the gift cannot be diminished. He who made us and is redeeming us reminds us moment by moment: ‘You are my beloved.’ Our mirror becomes the Creator, not the created, which frees us to risk again.

Happiness results from generous self-giving. ‘Come and share your master’s happiness’ (vs. 21, 23) says Jesus to those persons who offer themselves, over and over for others’ good. Taking our talents and investing them is especially relevant for building up Jesus’ body. I frankly have little tolerance for persons who remain stuck in ‘church-wounds’ and are quick to mutter outside her gates with the bitter throng who detest ‘religion.’

I’d rather be fruitful and happy. Instead of a betrayer, I see a beautiful, broken ‘bride’ who has been struck down but not destroyed. I shall not kick her when she’s down but seek to honor and serve her with all I can give. Jesus helps us here. He always gives us His heart for His bride! I forgive my offenders quickly. And at times I change where I worship in order to be faithful to Jesus by discerning where I can best love and serve her. She is a diverse bride who gives us many points of entry. The Church needs generous givers who will not dwell on her failures but on how she welcomes her Bridegroom beautifully.

To be sure, we must be honest about our fears. Many of us have been pierced by church-related sins that make us flinch to this day. Annette and I suffered seasons of such cruel and arbitrary rejection from churchmen that we have been tempted to bury our talents in fear. We bear the mark of such rejection and must struggle to overcome it. We shall. We want to be both happy and fruitful in our service of the bride who is making herself radiant, without spot or wrinkle. (Eph. 5:27)

‘For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.’ (Matt. 25:29)

Please join us as we pray for:

  1. Northeast Region, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Garry & Melissa Ingraham – Coordinators: For strength and vision for Garry & Melissa, for existing groups and to see new groups established.
  2. Aguas Vivas: Leon, Mexico, Emma – Coordinator: Grace and strength to finish their first Aguas Vivas pilot group.
  3. Restored Hope Network: Reconciliation Ministries, Dan Hitz, Roseville, MI: For new office space and start of Living Waters group. Pure Heart Ministries, Jim Venice, St. Peters, MO: personal and ministry health.

“Courage for Pastor Phil Strout (National Director Vineyard USA), that he would ensure that the Church becomes a clear fountain of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction!”


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November 6, 2014: Lukewarm Bride

‘Because you are lukewarm—neither hot or cold—I will spit you out of My mouth. You say, “I am rich and don’t need a thing.” But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.’ (Rev. 3: 16, 17)

Compromised, the Samaritan ‘bride’ was willing to admit her sickness and turn toward her cure. Her apparent shamelessness masked a deep shame. Jesus gently uncovered this shame and she surrendered to Him. She needed and wanted His cover. And that was His very purpose for exposing her shameful nakedness–to extend His love as her source and shield.

How beautiful are persons like the Samaritan woman who do not dodge the light of Love! Instead of defending themselves, they offer themselves to that Light. We are surrounded by persons who rant and rave over their extramarital sexual rights; let us not forget about the quiet minority who before the Crucified weep over their shame. The mournful receive a comfort that eludes the libertine.

No wonder that persons driven by misbegotten passions often become the most passionate for Jesus! Understanding desire, they welcome the Author of desire when their eyes see Him. ‘Living water’ means something to hungry, broken hearts. Passionate ones may recognize acutely their need for divine forgiveness and fulfillment.

Such passion may dim for the ‘churched’–cradle Catholics and seasoned evangelicals who readily grow accustomed to His face. Now content with going through the ‘motions of devotion’, we lose real emotion, real heart in our daily engagement with Jesus. Saved, we cease getting saved. We overcome felonies only to accommodate a host of misdemeanors. What happened to the fire that exposed our sin and caused us to weep over it? Should not that sin become more apparent, not less, the closer we draw to Him? Jesus save us: We have gained religion only to lose You!

We who sin quietly may be more at risk of losing our salvation than bold sinners. St. John Vianney says it best: ‘There are many who appear to be good Christians

but in the sight of God, who knows our intentions, are but lukewarm…Those who live in lukewarmness are in greater danger than those who live in mortal sin. A sinner laments his condition when his conscience awakens. He even longs to leave his sinful life and will leave it someday. But a soul which lives in lukewarmness never thinks of quitting that state become he thinks he stands well with God.’

Let’s wake up and follow the example of the Samaritan ‘bride.’ Jesus, would You rouse us with living water? Like her, may we witness in Your eyes our shameful nakedness, as well as our cleansing and covering? Align our passions with Your passion, our cure.

‘Jesus said to the Pharisees: ‘The tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.’ (Matt. 21:31)

Please join us as we pray for:

1. Pacific Northwest Region, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska:      Dean Greer – Coordinator: For new regional leadership to be identified and raised-up, and for the new group in Portland.

2. Living Waters Shanghai: For team unity, and wisdom in logistical decision making as they prepare to     announce and take applications for the LW group beginning late February, 2015.

3. Kansas City/St. Joseph Diocese Courage and Encourage group(s): For an increase in local KC chapter of Courage/Encourage.

“Courage for Reverend Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury), that he would ensure that the Church becomes a clear fountain of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction!”


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Ache of God

Praying 40 days for repentance over sexual sin would be a vain task unless we encountered His ache of love for us.

Prayer unites us with His ache. Beneath His cross, we witness silently His naked broken body. Like rain from heaven, blood and water flow into our shameful nakedness and unites us with the Love that seeks nothing other than our good. Sexual sinners like you and I concur tearfully with Pope Benedict: ‘Any talk of love must begin with the open side of Christ.’

He aches for us, for our good, hating sin (never us!) only because it destroys us. So He pours Himself out generously, and awaits the time when we might stop beneath His cross and satisfy our misdirected appetites on Love alone.

He aches for us! He wants communion with us! Have you ever felt the acute pain of betrayal when a mere creature violated his/her covenant with you? How much more does our Creator ache when we bypass Him for a mere human image of Himself?

Having suffered to secure us in Love, He wants to waste none of His sorrows. He aches for us to abide beneath the cross, to linger there. He wants to reorient us around His ache for us; He delights when we soak in the water that cleanses and refreshes us, the blood that becomes our new life. We fulfill His ache when we welcome His passion as the foundation of our lives.

40 days of focused prayer may not be enough to reorient us wholly around His ache. But it’s a good start. And when we with broken hearts kneel before the cross welcome the fruit of His broken heart for us, we learn to pray for others.

God gives us His ache for the lonely and the lost; we grieve with Him for those wasting themselves on mere images of God. God wants them, Father to child, Bridegroom to bride. Prayer changes us by orienting us around His ache: first for us, and through our prayers, for the people He made and longs to redeem.

‘How beautiful you are, my darling. Oh, how beautiful! Show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face lovely.’ (S of S 2:2, 14)

Please join us starting Friday, September 28th, for our 40 days of repentance. You can download the PDF of the entire 40-day devotional now at : pray.desertstream.org.

If you want us to email you the PDF, or to send you a paper copy of the devotional, email Ann at aarmstrong@desertstream.org.

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