Tag Archives: Kansas City

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

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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For The Bride

For the Bride

This fall, we advance in three exciting ways for the Body of Christ. Desert Stream Ministries is about helping make the Church a transformational place for sinners, and ultimately, a chaste, merciful Bride for her Bridegroom.

Toward that end, we want to know about:

Our third Living Waters group at St. Thomas More parish in Kansas City
This is the first Catholic parish in America to take up the healing of sexually and relationally broken people. We have faced much resistance, and without help from the Kansas City/St. Joseph Diocese would not be gathering again this fall. God uses all refinement to make our offering more glorious.
We start Tuesday night September 27th.
To apply, contact Becky Turner at morelivingwaters@gmail.com.

Open to Life: Pastoral Equipping for Care of Persons with Same-Sex Attraction
This is a concise, practical, and hopeful 2-and- a-half hours for all Christian leaders who want to be faithful to Jesus in their care of persons facing homosexual issues.
Please calendar Wednesday morning on October 19th, from 930am to noon at St. Thomas More parish in Kansas City.
To register, contact Dean Greer at dgreer@desertstream.org.

Radiant: 40-Days of Prayer and Fasting for the Church, Oct. 12th-Nov. 20th
Desert Stream sponsors a fast at the end of the Catholic Church year every fall. This year, we shall be lifting up each Christian’s commitment to make the Body of Christ a merciful, truthful community for all persons, and ultimately, a Bride worthy of her Bridegroom. We will have a complete guide for this fast available by the end of September.

This fast can involve any kind of sacrifice you desire to make and requires 30 minutes every day for to pray for our pastors and the expansion of our limited love for the Church. We want to share Jesus’ heart for His beautiful, broken Bride.
For more info and a prayer guide, contact aarmstrong@desertstream.org.

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Shaken, Waking Up

Advent starts with a bang this year if Jesus’ words in Sunday’s Gospel reading are true. Luke 21: 25-36 describes the terrifying world-scape into which He will enter, not as a helpless babe but as Almighty Judge separating the faithful from frauds. Season’s grievings!

History unwinds like a ticking bomb: explosions in a Parisian concert hall, a Mali hotel, and a Russian-bound jet over Egypt contract like excruciating birth pains. Brussels shuts down as innocents are subject to a kind of martial law as authorities search for the fearless few who now hold the world captive to terror. We are united in fear. Disempowered people invoke murderous demons (Rev. 9:21) in an effort to captivate the world by the threat of random massacres. Nothing new under the sun: Jesus said that ‘People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world’ (LK 21:26).

On one hand, it all seems far away from our insulated roost in Kansas City. But the spirit of murder increases here too, just as arbitrarily and perhaps sourced in the same theme of disempowered people grasping at demonic exaltation. Not long ago, I rode my bike home for lunch through a pleasant street of small condos, mostly inhabited by the elderly. An hour later in broad daylight, a man broke into two units and brutally murdered 5 persons.

I say this not to frighten but to alert you this Advent. Where does our security lie, in false prophecies of peace or in the peace that can only come through Jesus Christ who promises not a harmonious world but Himself? Alfred Delp, a German priest who contested Hitler and was executed, wrote this before his martyrdom: ‘There is perhaps nothing we need today than to be genuinely shaken up. Where life is firm we need to sense its firmness; where it is unstable and has no foundation we need to know this too and to endure it…Advent is a time when we need to be shaken. The necessary condition for Advent’s fulfillment is the renunciation of presumptuous attitudes and dreams through which we build imaginary worlds…Being shattered, being awakened—only with these is life made capable of Advent.’

Jesus alerts us that the darkening world-scape can weigh us down ‘with everyday anxieties’ (LK 21:35). He also notes that our response to such fear may well be drugging ourselves with ‘carousing and drunkenness’ (v.35). Friends, might we who love the Holy One not fall prey to deadening ourselves with foolish diversions but rather seek Him first as our foundation then prayerfully help secure others in Christ? Let us heed Jesus’ command this season ‘to always be on the watch—vigilant—and pray that we might have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent so that we can stand before the Son of Man’ (v. 36).

Our Advent begins with preparing for Jesus’ second coming. We might begin by identifying and renouncing the illusions we employ to ward off fear. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus and so establish our lives on the only foundation that will withstand the shaking to come.

‘When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your hands because your redemption is near’ (LK 21:28).

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Under the Rainbow?

When I crossed the finish line at Kansas City’s toughest half-marathon last week, I was astounded to see volunteers adorning us in rainbow necklaces. We looked like a swarm of half-naked gay activists. Refusing to be an emblem of the zeitgeist, I politely refused my medal and thought about the hundreds around me who unwittingly had become flags of a false freedom.

More concerning was this comment by a friend of DSM/LW, recently back from Rome. “Pope Francis is surrounded by people who are pushing a gay agenda…When I was at the papal audience two weeks ago, there was a rainbow balloon ‘cross’ flying overhead the entire time. The gay issue is a major source of fracturing within the Church.”

Both encounters tempted me to fear. Peace prevailed when the Spirit reminded me of the authority I possess as a Kingdom citizen. I am not living in a rainbow dome but under the rule and reign of an altogether generous Father who through Jesus is making me His own. I look to Him alone to define me; the fire of His love burns off all other claims upon my personhood.

Now is the time for all fiery converts to stand firm in Christ Crucified: this is our day ‘to know Him in the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, to become like Him in His death, and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead’ (Phil. 3:10, 11).

I love St. Paul’s being-converted-tension here; the Apostle is clear, he has not yet attained in full this Cross-bearing unto Christ-likeness. Rather, he aspires to know Him in the fight for freedom to which God calls all converts. ‘Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, we press onward to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 3:13, 14).

I will cry out for mercy for all who live under the rainbow. With gentleness and respect, I will testify to hope for anyone longing to be free from false liberties (1P 3: 15). I belong to the King, under whose reign I bow. And race: ‘I run in the path of His commands, for He has set my heart free’ (PS 119: 32).

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Fear and Fasting

‘The resurrection of Christ makes life a perpetual feast.’ St. Athanasius

Real life provides many occasions for fear. As a parent, I am particularly in tune to threats upon my children’s good. As they grow and face the ‘free fall’ of their own decision-making, Annette and I have feared for their good. Such fear focuses and fuels our prayers: ‘O God, use this impasse, this accident, this strange relationship, this attitude, this addiction as an open door to Your new life.’

Last weekend my youngest son Sam graduated from college as a teacher. That marks the fourth and final college graduation of my kids. Sam took his time getting there. Our move to Kansas City nine years ago blew holes in his security and he lost ground. He faced more than a few dead-ends before he found Home. Jesus helped him through a group of faithful young adults. Sam has become an upright, dynamic young man and will make a great teacher. I am proud beyond words of his new life, which to me is founded on nothing less than resurrection.

Reflecting on our fight for his rising, I recall countless occasions where fear competed with faith. We could witness Sam’s deception and desperation. Yet we could not save him from either. (We did insist he pay for his own idolatry.) So we waited and prayed and tried to help him when asked. Our hope bottomed out on several occasions but it was God who became the ever-deepening ground of our hope. That occurred wordlessly, without feeling. We were conscious of fear.

I take heart from the saints who had a hand in creating, preserving and proclaiming Jesus’ life. The whole arc of His existence introduced fear into these mortal lives. So God, employing dreams and angels, was quick to speak: ‘Mary, do not fear your favor–the new divine life emerging within you; Joseph, do not fear to protect this woman; she bears great favor.’ (LK 1:30; Matt. 1:20)

The initial response to the resurrection was anything but clarity and assurance. Fear seemed to rule the day as an earthquake and intimidating angel scared the life out of the tomb guards (‘they became like dead men’ Matt. 28:4). Fright seized the two Marys who waited there so an angel exhorted them ‘to not fear.’ Working at it, ‘the two hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples…’ (Matt. 28:8).

I love that: ‘afraid yet filled with joy’, an apt reminder of how we feel toward loved ones whose action we cannot control and yet for whom we seek a rising. Jesus insists. He rose for everyone, and He beckons constantly to us to emerge from the tombs of limited vision and closed horizons. He opened that horizon: we pray that blind eyes might see it, and lame limbs walk towards it. Joy overtakes fear as we consider the magnitude of what He won for all in His Resurrection.

Last Saturday, all my kids gathered with Annette and me to celebrate Sam’s graduation. We feasted on great food and strange humor and the faith common to us all. I could see the earmarks of new life—the horizon Jesus opened for each that each is discovering in his or her own way. On such blessed occasions, we forget about fear; feasting and joy prevail.

‘Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and now is found. So they began to celebrate.’ (LK 15: 24)

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