Tag Archives: Healing

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Faith

We are healed and we will be healed by faith in Jesus. So will our loved ones. To stop trusting Jesus for His full and perfect will for everyone we love (including ourselves) negates the power of what He won for us at Calvary. ‘By His wounds we are healed’ (IS. 53:5; 1P2:24). Period.

Like every virtue, faith is both a gift of grace and an arduous goal. For persons coming out of disordered identities and desire, it is easy to trust Jesus when we experience ourselves as solid expressions of our gender, our ‘sap’ flowing in creative directions. It’s quite another to trust Him for healing when we burn with lust and self-hatred. How much more difficult is faith in God for the parent whose adult-child announces the ‘gay’ wedding or gender reassignment? ‘Faith, the evidence of things not seen,’ (Heb. 11:1) indeed!

It helps to anchor our faith in Gospel accounts of healing; over and over again, Jesus honors the faith of afflicted ones (morally, physically, emotionally) by restoring them completely (Matt. 9:22, 15:28; MK 5:34; LK 17:19; 18:42, etc.). Today, we tend to use Gospel healing accounts as metaphors for healing, as if Jesus’ touch is a spiritual abstraction. That becomes an excuse for unbelief. I love the theology of Dr. George Eldon Ladd (The Presence of the Future, Eerdmans) who majored on healing and deliverance as evidence of God’s Kingdom come in Jesus, a key that John Wimber utilized unlike any other leader as he led the Vineyard movement (of which I was privileged to be a part for twenty years.)

Wimber knew that God’s Kingdom reign was heavenly, the ‘not yet’ of our pilgrim journey, but that Jesus brought heaven-to-earth ‘now’; Christ demonstrated tomorrow’s blessing today through signs and wonders. That means we as Christ’s followers, endowed with the Spirit’s power, can heal others this side of heaven. That requires faith in the unseen reality of Jesus who restores the afflicted through His faithful ones (JN 14:12). That drives our work at Desert Stream, and defines us as a Kingdom people who cry out constantly: ‘Come Holy Spirit, and do what only You can do for hurting ones, starting with us, the staff!’

The fact that we as a team (who have been praying and healing for decades) still cry out indicates that we live between two ages—‘the now and the not yet.’ We trust God to establish His rule and reign in our midst but know also that we are en route to full Kingdom reign.

I can recall multiple healings that Jesus has done at the core of my gendered and sexual self, each one a marvel of grace tied directly to sources of same-sex attraction. But I still must pick up my little cross daily, which means remembering who I am as a son of the Father, rebuking the devourer, and making good moral choices that ensure the health of family and friends.

Sometimes that cross is easy and light, at other times, a weight that can be carried only with the help of others. I can bear the moral effort required by faith because God has opened the eyes of my heart (Eph. 1:18). That is the gift of faith; I see and trust Jesus. I want no other Kingdom but His, and He grants me glimpses of this Kingdom as we walk together toward what I cannot see in full.

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No Place like Home

‘I witnessed God’s glory in every broken life.’ Living Waters participant

We just finished our Living Waters group at St. Thomas More’s in Kansas City. It was a hard group–a handful dropped out and the deep needs that remained in the group seemed overwhelming. It helped that we met in the sanctuary where we were constantly drawn up into the huge Crucifix above the altar, a reminder that He was assuming the unbearable. Just below, we raised a 10-feet image of the Divine Mercy where the flow of blood and water rose in our midst. We finished the group refreshed, grateful. Some members and team commented:

‘I came to Living Waters expecting others to heal me. I found a group of people all looking to Jesus for healing who directed me to Him. Now I look to Him.’

‘I’m a giver in my church, the one others look to for healing. Living Waters focused the Father’s loving attention to my needs. I am learning to listen to His voice in particular areas where I need Him more than ever.’

‘I am not as afraid any more of my brokenness. I can trust God when He reveals areas of blindness and deep need in me. I am secure enough in His love to see things as they are, confident that His truth is my freedom.’

‘I’m in a painful, vulnerable season of my life. I have renewed my love for Christ Crucified; my wound invites me into deeper intimacy with Him.’

‘I love the Divine Mercy! Through the eyes of my heart, I now see that my same-sex attraction has a place to go. I am filled with new mercies to give as I go.’

‘In my everyday life, I am surrounded by people who could care less about holiness. In Living Waters I discovered a people whose priority is to grow in holiness. I am grateful to have found walking partners; I must have them.’

‘As a small group leader, I would show up empty every week. And every week, each small group member would bring her gift and God would fill us all. He is the healer and He uses every member. Healing does not rest on me.’

‘I had never taught the material before. As I did, God confirmed the work He has done in me and took me deeper.’

‘Now I have a mission: to make this offering known to my church connections. I want Living Waters to flow where I live.’

‘This parish had an abusive priest years earlier whose sin came to light later, creating scandal and the familiar skepticism that the Church damages the vulnerable rather than healing them. Through Living Waters, I discern that Jesus is taking back ground from the enemy. God through His Church heals His lambs.’

Abbey closed our last meeting by reminding us all that Living Waters is an open door, a community of healing that one can re-enter at any time. It is a place where Jesus redirects our focus upon Himself in a safe yet challenging way. It is a healing home where we too become safe ‘homes’ for others to know Him more.

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Mercy: An urgent call for testimony

Mercy: An urgent call for testimony
Barbara Vittucci (a longstanding friend of DSM/LW, Barb resides in Vienna, Austria and has been a lifeline to hundreds in the church seeking wholeness)

Have you received mercy? Through the healing love of Jesus Christ, are you growing in restoration of soul, identity, relationships, and sexuality? In our days of titanic confusion in these very areas, the world needs your testimony as never before. It is a time for the flood gates of mercy to open and to draw many of the lost and least into the loving embrace of Jesus Christ.

But what is mercy? Is it political correctness? Is it playing ‘nice’ and remaining silent in the face of injustice? Does it enable destructive behavior? Not according to Scripture and Church tradition. Throughout the centuries, churches have taught on both the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The works of mercy are not optional but are essential to living the Christian life of holiness and goodness. These are active, challenging expressions of mercy.

The Corporal Works of Mercy are based on Mt 25: “For I was hungry, thirsty, naked, in prison, a stranger, sick. What you did for the least of these, you did unto me…“ These works include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing and sheltering the homeless, and visiting the sick and imprisoned.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are taken from a variety of scriptures and include admonishing the sinner (LK 15:7), instructing the ignorant (Mk 16:1), counseling the doubtful (Jude 23), comforting the sorrowful (Gal. 6:2), bearing wrongs patiently (Col. 3:12), and forgiving our wound-ers (Mt. 6:12).

Mercy expresses love in very concrete ways for our neighbor’s physical or spiritual well-being. To admonish, instruct and counsel belongs to mercy. That means that truth and mercy are intimately connected. It is the Holy Spirit, the One who is called The Spirit of Truth and The Comforter, who leads us in how to love well.

Truth, when not in love, is legalistic. And love cut off from truth can lead to destruction.

Here is another classic and helpful list for our consideration. We can be an accessory to another’s sin through: counsel, command, provocation, praise and flattery, concealment and silence, and by defense of the ill done. In our desire to make peace and please people instead of God, many of us have been an accessory to sin. When we do this, we commit cruel, unmerciful acts. .

Amid the confusion surrounding mercy and sexual wholeness, a door of hope opens. Forbidden topics are now being addressed in church. What an opportunity to offer help to the strugglers who are everywhere!. Now we can speak more openly, without the shame that shrouds our struggles and keeps us bound. Let the light in. Open prison doors.

Go tell the world. Your struggles have more meaning than you know. Your testimonies of hope are the atomic power of the Gospel and are deeply needed in our day. People trust those who have been there. This is mercy. And no one can take away the power of your story. You were born for such a time as this.

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Men with Chests, Part 2

‘We remove the organ and deny the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise.’ C.S. Lewis

‘And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.’ LK 1:17

John took a deep breath when he read Tim’s (his teen son) virtual correspondence with a ‘boyfriend’ on the west coast. Any concern about his son’s sexuality was starkly realized in that moment. Rather than shrink back, John knew he had to act. But how? Never close with his dad, Tim at 15 seemed further away than ever.

Yet the two shared more common ground than was apparent. Father and son loved Jesus, father and son shared some relational brokenness: John from sexual abuse, Tim from a neglectful father. In truth, both wanted more from each other and did not know how to bridge the gap.

As father, John knew he had to act first. Provoked by Tim’s ‘gay’ explorations, John knew that he had to draw near to his son while he still had a window of opportunity.  He began by expressing loving concern for his son. Tim at 15 was not a ‘gay man’; he was a boy experiencing same-sex desire and acting upon it in a popular, destructive way. Unless he confirmed Tim as a man, John knew that his son could be lost to the confirmation of the ‘gay self’ and ‘culture.’

And the Holy Spirit was at work in Tim. When he looked over all the pictures he had taken of himself and his new ‘gay’ comrades in California, Tim observed that he was becoming a different person. His ‘look’ was imbued with an alien attitude. He did not like it; somehow he knew that the ‘gay’ sensibility was at odds with his faith and who he in truth wanted to become.

John began to envision his son with new options he might explore to become that man. In the same breath that John asked Tim to break off relationship with his new ‘friend,’ the father invited his son discover these options. Together.  That included getting help for their wounded relationship, church activities, even a mission trip in which they faced beauty and hardship as father and son.

A boy becoming a man also needs space and grace to work out his decisions apart from his parents. Tim drew strength and confidence from some good pastoral help designed for him and his needs.

I had the privilege of seeing Tim and John the other day; I witnessed a strong alliance between father and son. John is actively raising the boy he sired, and Tim is exhibiting a new solidity as the young man he is becoming.

God is turning fathers toward their sons, and sons back to their fathers. He is giving men back their ‘chests’: dignity and confidence in the strength the Father entrusts to His sons.

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Rocky: Freedom Fighter

Although America seems more inclined to celebrate the ‘Bruce Jenners’ who relent to perversion, I want to honor a man named Rocky who repented from his transgender self to the healing love of God.

Disconnection from reality sums up Rocky’s early life. Raised in a rough Mexican-American home by a mentally-ill mother and a father who abused her, Rocky found little encouragement for his masculine soul. Dad was replaced early on by a violent stepfather who treated Rocky with contempt for the solace he sought from his disturbed mother and grandmother. Little consolation: both women were proud of their feminine appeal but demeaning to the increasingly alienated Rocky.

Rocky bonded with feminine cosmetics: makeup and dresses appeared to provide the women in his life with fun and favor. In secret, he emulated their arts; he created another self that appeared to incur masculine attention. At a high price. His masculine development stalled within an unreal world designed to ward off a toxic family and abusive men.

In his teens, Rocky began to compete in drag pageants where he received sexual favor from bisexual and gay-identified men. But he began to smell ‘death’ among the highly unstable transgender crowd, a smell he discerned from his mother who was frequently suicidal. Rocky too began to contemplate an early death when he met a Christian from the neighborhood who befriended him and offered him onramps to her church.

She had observed the strife of his household and prayerfully fought for his dignity. She only asked that Rocky receive the love of Jesus. As he accompanied her to many ‘Jesus’ meetings, he met Christians who loved him, including two seasoned couples. They provided an alternate family that honored his masculine soul and summoned it from hiding.

Rocky needed a lot of love to combat his innate tendency to disconnect in times of trouble. But he grew in love with Jesus and His members and began to fight for his freedom to become a godly man. He moved to Kansas City where he did many rounds of Living Waters and found another fine mentor, Tracey Bickle, who trained Rocky to fight for others.

Rocky now serves at Desert Stream Ministries. He represents well the Father who fought for him, and won him back from sin and death. Rocky is becoming mighty in battle. Amid a nation which now applauds perversion, he reveals conversion: the fight for transformation. That’s a praiseworthy cause.

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