Tag Archives: Kansas City

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Glorious Church

‘For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, til her righteousness shines forth like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.’
(Is. 62:1, 2)

It is too easy to dismiss the Church as inadequate to convey the whole Gospel to LGBT+ persons: she appears to slalom from rigorous truth—a fortress inaccessible–to grace that can only be described as flabby in failing to recognize what ails us, to faith-filled but gnostic in promising spiritual ‘healing’ without touching what drives our sexual ‘diversity.’

But I will not forget what she can be! On the eve of our 40th-year celebration on August 7-9th, we at DSM/LW champion the Bride who is making herself winsome for the broken, chaste for her soon-coming King.

At our recent training in Kansas City, I saw Jesus equipping His Church to embody Himself through members who fuse ‘grace and truth’ (Jn. 1:17). He manifested Himself in a host of Christians who knelt to wash the feet of those desperate for salvation–body, soul, and spirit.

For such a time as this! Elizabeth Woning wrote a brief, compelling exhortation to the Church in Charisma News (July 2nd) to make a way for many former LGBT+ persons who in the aftermath of Bostock (the Supreme Court decision that officially altered ‘sex’ to include LGBT+ diversity) are wholeheartedly seeking Jesus through His body. More than ever, vulnerable members need the community of Jesus, brimming with grace and truth!

I am buoyed by three expressions of ‘church’ in Kansas City who are tending to vulnerable members mercifully and responsibly: Redeemer Fellowship in Midtown (a large expression of the Acts 29 movement), International House of Prayer in South Kansas City, and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City/St. Joseph (which serves many parishes in a large geographic area under one bishop). Each of these communities are distinct from the other–Redeemer is reformed and thoughtfully biblical, IHOP a non-stop prayer and worship center fueled by zealous young adults, and the Diocese, well, a vast and diverse group united by the Eucharist and RCC authority structures.

What these three communities have in common are leaders who champion what it means to be human–made in God’s image as male and female, who thoroughly believe that Jesus can transform any identification to the contrary, and who work hard to provide practical, effective means for such transformation. Each of the three communities have strong lead men who commission colleagues to head up pastoral care arms that provide solid counsel and groups like Living Waters.

These three faithful arms of Jesus can say in good conscience: we do and will do all we can to shelter persons broken by the enslaving ‘liberties’ of our day. For them and for all communities who emulate them, we declare: ‘Your righteousness is shining forth like the dawn, your salvation like a blazing torch’, O Glorious Church!

Sacred Heart, Living Stream

I write this on the Feast Day of Jesus’ Sacred Heart: His generous love for each human being revealed in His pierced heart pouring out all we need to be free. Jesus’ Sacred Heart distills the meaning of mercy—so deep yet so simple that a child could behold His lovely face and wounded heart and know somehow that every tear can find its end in His embrace.

You are reading this on the third day of our Living Waters Training here in Kansas City. We are doing it: 60 brave souls turned off their computers and re-entered the land of the living. We gather through and for His Sacred Heart; we position ourselves before His river of Divine Mercy and welcome the flood that cleanses and the healing Presence that restores us as we offer His gifts to one another.

I can say without exaggeration that His Sacred Heart is our focus. The Church rightly identifies Jesus’ heart as the ‘chief sign and symbol of that love with which the Divine Redeemer loves all human beings without exception’ (CCC #478). O, how He loves us. We position our divided, parched hearts before His, pulsating with mercy for us. The Blood speaks a better Word and silences the din that might otherwise drown out His still small voice of Love. Speak Lord, Your servants are listening! Neither virus nor riot, war nor rumors of war, bad court rulings nor yellow journalists, will separate us from Love.

Real life has stripped us of self-reliance. We flee into the folds of His Sacred Heart, pierced for us: You Jesus, assuming our suffering and imparting the consolation only You can give. Divine Mercy is like a magnet that compels us to name every sin, every wound, every hardening part of us that needs to be made tender and new in His healing flood.

Our aim is not small. If we can discover afresh the Love that changes everything, then we can give that love away. We can heal others. As wounded healers, we serve the broken ever mindful of our weaknesses. Yes, He contains and sustains us, and He does so in the full light of what is still being healed. We dare not venture out from His heart. Only in union with Him do we offer others the mercy that frees every heart inclined toward His.

Jesus’ Sacred Heart is always inclined toward ours. That is our hope, the Source of ‘Living Waters’. Please pray for us! May His heart enlarge ours and release through us a river of mercy that will change the world, one grateful sinner at a time.

Awaken Love

‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing…’ (Heb. 10:25)

Having ascended to heaven, Jesus reunites with Father in joyful communion. The first fruit of their feast? Loosing heavenly energy to earth endowed with power to permeate and make all things new! From the Dynamic Duo flows the Holy Spirit like sweetest rain—sweet yes, but penetrating too, co-mingling with our human essence and awakening us to the One who loves us more and more nearly than any creature ever could.

This gift of love and the many smaller gifts of the Spirit that all members of Christ can impart to each other build up the Body (1 Cor. 12): that is why we must gather. Simply put, the Holy Spirit wells up in Jesus’ people who know they’ve a gift to give and who hunger for the many gifts that await them in the assembly.

Holy Spirit gift-giving has profound psychological implications. God made us unfit to be alone. The Spirit of Love-in-Truth invites us to come together in our ache for this love—the most profound need we share. We become more human in our self-giving, one to another. And we discover the Divine in our brother or sister. We resist the temptation to make our fellows idols; rather, we honor them as icons–beautiful, flawed mediators of the One who heals and saves us.

Yet the human mediation matters—it is how He made us—fiercely, frustratingly human—and we share a common responsibility to receive and give the gift. Gathering to impart, we grow spiritually and psychologically into our Head.

That is Living Waters! That is the life-giving stream that wells up in what could be the desert of shame and fear-based isolationism. We know the latter through sin’s exile—we mastered ‘social distancing’ long before Covid-19!

Jesus will not have it. He created us to connect with our fellows. As we forge creative links, we become conduits of His lifegiving Spirit to one another.

Now a deadly virus lurks. Stay home, open a screen, zoom community. Not bad. Certainly, we all have benefited from tech-Church and may feel it to be our only option. Others may admit that homey confines are addictive and overly convenient. Maybe we want an excuse to not venture out much anymore.

I exhort you; rouse yourselves. Don’t defy conscience—mask and distance—ok! But find constructive and lifegiving ways to commune. You get only a fraction of community on the flat screen. God made you to offer your whole gift through immersion in the current of gathered believers.

My small group from Living Waters carefully gathered a couple weeks ago. A feast of human proportions! None of us realized how starved we were for honest, merciful disclosure, one to another—facial, vocal, and bodily nuances that mediated many gifts. ‘He ascended on high…He gave gifts to men…that He might fill all things’ (Eph. 4:8-10).

In the Spirit of Ascension, we are boldly, and with care, proceeding on with our Living Waters Training in Kansas City, June 20th-26th. We can do this safely and dynamically to fulfill our mission in this 40th year. After much prayerful refinement, the DSM staff believes this will be the best training ever for the few, the brave, the pioneers who will venture out ‘to know what are the riches of glory in His inheritance among the holy ones,’ ‘the surpassing greatness of His power for those who believe…’ (Eph. 1:18, 19)

Join us. Let’s awaken love together.

Flyover?

Kansas City. Cowtown? Coastal flyover zone? C’mon. We are the champions.

As a focused Kingdom-minded guy, I am not that partial to geography or football. While celebrating our friend Tracey Bickle’s 60th birthday a couple months back, I ran into her brother Mike (founder/director of International House of Prayer, aka IHOP) to whom I nodded when he asked if I still could care less about the game.

What a difference a Superbowl makes. Something overtook me. Maybe it was my rabid fan base of a family—each member donning any bit of red fabric they owned. My pastor son Nick even wrote this prayer, tweeted all over town: ‘O God of Conquest, You train our hands for war, our fingers for battle; we pray You so guide Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes and our fledgling run defense, that the 49ers might be destroyed and Chiefs fan everywhere may drink deep of the sweet marrow of victory; through the only Name under heaven by which we are saved, win or lose, now and forever.’ Amen.

Maybe it was the team itself: yeah, great players but kind of humble, a super team-centric band of brothers; thoroughbred Mahomes looking a bit coltish, like his status has not quite caught up to him, coach Andy Reid more like a clerk at Quik Trip than a coastal supermodel.

Maybe it was the day of the game itself. 63 degrees, my running buddy Marco and I ran alongside Blue River for miles experiencing Kansas City at its best: trees glimmering silver and bare in the sun; kind, expectant-of-good-things families and couples and singles blessing passers-by. Peaceful. Traffic-free. Primed for war.

The game itself was a glimpse of what we all should do when the enemy takes ground: not give up, rally harder, slap down passes, vie for miracles of grace that God grants guys like Mahomes. For His good pleasure. And ours. I lay prostrate before the TV blathering in tongues as we overtook ‘em.

I love this city. Decent. Pretty godly. Humble but unafraid to smash the opposition. We could not do what we do without the Bickles and IHOP. I would not have become a Catholic anywhere else. Nowhere else do I see this kind of a diverse faith base intent on victory under fire. Flyover KC? No way. I’ve landed.

Please take time to watch our video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

fasting knocking on heaven's door

Fast Fruit: Knocking on Heaven’s Door

‘Because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice’ (Lk. 18:5).

Prayer and fasting are not sexy. As this 40-day ‘Becoming Good News’ ends, I am hungry and ornery, more inclined to fantasy donuts than holy apparitions. We as a staff have chosen weakness, a downward mobility, a reduction. We have gone without and prayed a lot. We are sensitized to the foul air of a clueless culture and worldly Church. And we have positioned ourselves near the Source, the oxygenated stream where ‘living waters’ first gushed and still flows.

Reduced to Jesus alone, we knocked. We admitted our defeat. ‘Unless You act, we’ve no hope.’ We remembered His saving action and bothered Him: we asked and asked and asked for Him to extend that victory to specific loved ones, to churches, to city hall and national courts. Here is some ‘fast fruit’ from the staff.

Like most of you, we knocked for family and friends dazed by the rainbow. And God answered. During last year’s ‘Becoming Good News’ fast, I had fought daily for a young man who was seeking Jesus but had no intention of giving up his ‘gay’ self. Early on in this year’s fast, he questioned me about what it might mean for him to begin pursuing women. Hah! Fluidity works both ways.

Amanda rejoiced that a woman she loves at her Living Waters group just let go of her ‘lesbian’ self in favor of Jesus’ reflection of her. Daniel’s chosen loved one just left a ‘gay’ marriage; he’s praying that Jesus would stir up her baptismal waters and reveal Himself as unfailing Love. Marco cast a vision of transformation for a couple worldly friends who are considering Jesus’ healing for their broken lives.

Dana was nearly overcome by a deepening experience of Jesus’ heart and sight for her lost loved ones. During the fast, two of them went from darkness to light—hitting bottom and asking Jesus how to live out of His kindness. Ann had a Spirit-led breakthrough with a neighbor and Dean who prayed for several families rocked by LGBT+ realities said they experienced a spiritual ‘overflow’ resulting in renewed hope and courage to engage estranged members afresh.

We knocked and God opened (or we trust, WILL open) effective doors of ministry. We broke through to a couple of key communities with whom we have sought partnership; we prayed big for bishops overseeing areas where we want to dig deep wells of ‘living water.’ Amber has experienced an upswing in her ministry to young adults who are seeking help for shameful areas of their lives As the therapy ban hit Kansas City at the onset of the fast, therapist Abbey began to reach out to colleagues who like her love Jesus and clinically serve teens. She was provoked by the fact that most are now worldly and theologically disintegrated in their care. Erin, a grad student in a clinical Christian program, has taken up this burden as well. Her fellows are clueless about how to apply their deepest Christian values with their care of persons. We prayed together for effective engagement with conscientious peers. A smog hovers over the clinical community; we ask King Jesus for an awakening.

And we knocked relentlessly for Kansas City’s ordinance to be overturned. Our ministry rallied the only opposition to the bill–friends of DSM/LW made up half of those attending the City Hall battles, LGBT+ persons composed the other. A river of ‘living water’ ran through our efforts and gave us an ease and grace that would have been impossible without this prayer stream. Our good-natured joviality contrasted beautifully with the lamenting ‘victims’ draped in rainbow flags; one confused man dressed as a woman seethed an “I hope you burn in hell!’ at me. And I thought we were pegged the ugly fundamentalists…

We keep knocking. Doors of effective legal warfare are opening for us and we will see this battle through to the end. Like the persistent widow, we will pound at heaven’s door until justice is served. He answers. He will answer. Our hope is well-placed and sure.

‘Will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night? He will see that they get justice, and quickly’ (Lk. 18: 7, 8).

You can purchase “Becoming Good News” in book form directly from Desert Stream or get it from Amazon for your Kindle.

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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