Tag Archives: Living Waters Training

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Good to be Alone?

Sexuality has something to do with directing us out of our aloneness and into creative communion with others. God made it that way. However challenging that ‘gift-giving’ is today, it remains the way that we honor our parents, grow in appreciation of our gender and that of the other, and become parents ourselves. The Scripture says it best: how wondrous that God did not create us to be alone (Gen. 2:18)! (Special thanks to Theologian Dr. Mary McCarthy for this insight.)

How clever of the evil one to introduce the idea that real freedom comes from foregoing the aim of one’s maleness or femaleness and exploring any number of gendered selves (60+ and counting). As I engaged with many twenty-somethings who came to our Living Waters Training last week, I could see their battle to forego onramps to alternative identities so they might proceed on the one true highway to wholeness. A route defined by becoming the awesome man or woman, son or daughter of the Most High!

Think about this battle. ‘Tim’ has certain feelings for his own best male friend and comes out as ‘gay.’ Immediately he foregoes the intended good of his masculinity by offering it to a non-creative source (The friend’s mouth or anus.) Immediately, his parents are put in a weird position: they conceived him, after all, and want him to grow in that openness to life. Instead, he insists that they embrace his identity or else. ‘Or else’ probably means he rejects them for telling their truth. Tim’s new way imposes a prison of aloneness: alienation from his family and the purpose of sexuality. All he gets is a friend with benefits, and that won’t last long. Tim is alone. Satan has his way.

We forsake the enemy by entering into the great waves of mercy flowing from Jesus. We immersed ourselves in those waters last week. Repentance to Him and a process of gender reconciliation unites us with the Father’s love for us and the advocacy of His people. Surrounded by that cloud of witnesses, one begins to belong to his or her gender peer. One begins to appreciate the other. One begins to sorrow over the breakdown with parents and begins to access mercy for the damage done. Jesus becomes the conduit of ‘living water’ that liberates a community that (s)he has never known.

When we as the Church become what Jesus always called us to be—a tender almighty, consistent and trustworthy love that dissolves walls and reveals our naked longing for communion—the enemy will slink away like the defeated tyrant he is. Alienated children will discover their true home. This is a home where we live the truth together: ‘It is not good that we be alone.’

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Magdalenes-in-the-Making

As I looked out at the Latinos who had come forward to ‘clean house’, I was struck by their radiance. Though time-worn, their faces looked new; defilement underfoot, they beamed like virgins. Pure gratitude shone from hearts washed afresh by the blood, water and Spirit. I marveled at this corporate witness of our faith’s most basic truth: Jesus makes all things new…

Such cleansing required good hard work from all who attended our Living Waters Training in the flowering hills just south of Mexico City. Natural beauty hid a slew of demons—lay leaders and clergy from around Latin America had resumes of sexual abuse, sexual addiction, adultery, and religious abuse, with generational sins empowering shame and lust. Young ones among us bore the mark of ‘gay’-affirming mandates from nations like Argentina, and Mexico which approved ‘gay marriage’ just days before the US Supreme Court did.

Our international leadership team entered into the battle being waged for souls, and had to contend with irrational forces seeking to weary and divide us. God sustained us through His Spirit; we responded through constant prayer. We offered ourselves at Jesus’ altar on behalf of all who had been sacrificed on the altar of lust—an altar constructed by a culture of honor that neatly hides the violence of sexual sin committed against the most vulnerable.

I thought of Mary Magdalene from whom Jesus expelled seven demons. In His delivering Spirit, I called all who already had confessed their sins to renounce the demons that had empowered those sins. Like Jesus, we were taking authority over our own temples and casting out robbers who had desecrated our ‘homes.’ The Spirit, the blood, the water— gifts that confirm what Jesus has already done on our behalf —converged to renew us in the almighty tenderness of our God.

When He draws close, the demons tremble and we must act decisively. He is holy. Intimacy with the holy God requires that we refuse the idols around which demons congregate. We did just that. God came in power and cleansed us powerfully so He could dwell with us. We are His; virginal sons and daughters.

Like Mary Magdalene, we embody His witness. Jesus makes all things new!
‘What counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule.’
(Gal. 6: 15b, 16a)

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Sowing in the Fields of Pope Francis

‘Unless our eyes are filled with tears, we will not see.’ Pope Francis

I write this from the Philippines where last month Francis made a historic visit to comfort victims of a devastating typhoon, the second to ravage the country in two years. Like St. Paul, he followed the Spirit’s lead; he came unexpectedly, poor to the poor, offering only himself.

He wept and smiled with the weak and led Mass for 6 million Philippinos, the biggest gathering of its kind in the nation’s history. Many of my colleagues, mostly non-Catholic, attended the Mass and welcomed the healing he brought. “Revival is stirring in our midst,’ they attest.

We came to the Philippines in the spirit of Pope Francis when he said: ‘We must learn how to open our hands from our very own poverty.’ That we did. Our small North American team joined a seasoned Asian team to lead a Living Waters Training based on Desert Stream’s renewed material and commitment to the nations.

Together we wounded healers led out in weakness: victims and perpetrators of sexual sin, distorted affections, marital woes, emotional destitution–aliens and slaves all, now made beautiful sons and daughters. The robust Philippine team was augmented well by Thai and Chinese leaders, and the 70 leaders-in-training reflected the breadth of the Philippines itself: Protestants and Catholics, the highly educated and barely literate, young adult converts and denominational leaders.

We bowed together before the one Cross, and Jesus humbled us into a fragrant unity. One small group consisted of an evangelical pastor who was disoriented by the call for him to submit his ‘traditional sin’ to a group full of young Catholics seeking to overcome same-sex attraction. By the first session the young men’s naked hunger for Jesus broke him and he admitted the most painful and shameful areas of his ‘normal’ life.

Later, he asked the most damaged member of the group (abandoned as a child and ravaged by sexual abuse) to extend the blessing of the Church upon him as he committed to continuing his healing journey.

Like Francis, we sowed in tears, and gave out of our poverty. Jesus came. We trust that churches of all stripes will continue to release ‘living water’ to broken ones from the very wounds and weaknesses He has reclaimed.

We follow the plow of Francis, sowing in tears.

‘Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.’ (PS 126: 6)

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Advent 3: Stealing Beauty

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me to bring good news to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and release for prisoners…’ (IS 61: 1, 2)

When life is firm, we need to sense its firmness; when it has no foundation, we need to know this too…The necessary condition for the fulfillment of Advent is the renunciation of presumptuous attitudes and alluring dreams in which we build our own imaginary worlds.’ Fr. Alfred Delp

Historically, our common enemy has done a masterful job of demonizing persons with gender and sexual problems, especially homosexuality, so much so that now we compensate for the damage done by refusing to admit a problem exists at all.

Thinking ourselves just, we actually are robbing men and women of the choice for healing the core issues that underlie disordered desire. Satan has changed his tactics and now captivates the Church with a weak, uninspired approach to sexual brokenness. Jesus no longer heals the brokenhearted; He confirms it as destiny.

For the Church of the 21st century, being ‘born again’ of the Spirit is apparently no match for being ‘born that way.’

We risk losing the power of Incarnational Reality: the truth that the God who became man invites us to partake of His divine nature. At our most recent Living Waters Training, team member Bonnie West made this connection for us. Because God lived a real human life in reliance upon a mother and father and had to progress (as we all must) up the developmental ladder in order to become a whole person, He is able to help us at every point in our own development. That means we can welcome the One who can free us from what has frustrated our maturity. He liberates us to become who and what the Father intends for us.

All time is present to Jesus, so He is not hindered by when the darkness fell; because He is God, He is not hindered by the depth or magnitude of that darkness. His divine power, working incisively in love, is able to meet us at whatever point we stopped becoming the man or woman of God’s design. His gentle, almighty Spirit embraces adult/children-in-distress and coaxes us to resume the journey.

This Advent, St. Paul implores us ‘to not quench the Spirit’ (1Thes. 5:19) while John the Baptist insists we ‘make straight the way of the Lord’ who comes to baptism us in His Spirit (JN 1: 19-28). Skilled caregivers, moving sensitively according to Jesus’ Spirit, can impart a depth of healing to the sexually broken in a manner that can only be attributed to Jesus the Healer.

We defy the power of His Spirit, and of the Incarnation itself, by vaunting the complexities of our sinful conditions over His healing hand. In so doing, we dehumanize the most vulnerable and leech the light from our Redeemer. We steal beauty from both creature and Creator; we unwittingly cooperate with a common enemy who came ‘to steal and kill and destroy.’ Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted, to release poor captives, ‘that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ (JN 10:10)

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October 15: Looking on Him Who We Have Pierced

‘Human actions cannot help us but only the sufferings of Christ.’ Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)

We begin by gazing on the Cross. Our sins invited Him there. And He was gracious: He suffered and died in our place. Put another way, we killed Him. Each time we bypass the stern and splendid way of love we mock and flog and string Him up afresh. He died once and for all to cancel out our sin. Yet we still do it. Our flailing about like a hooked fish requires that we focus afresh on the One who died for our freedom.

We do ourselves no favors by sweetening our sin with psychological justifications, or deemphasizing our sin due to the more obvious faults of others. When we do that we empty the Cross of its power. God in His mercy gently reminds us of our sin. That slows us down and humbles us. The weight would kill us, should kill us, if He had not gone lower still to bear the unbearable—our sin. When our sin mocked and flogged and crucified Jesus, His death shattered the yoke of what was and maybe still is killing us.

He dignifies us by inviting us to participate in what only He can do for us; He opens our eyes and directs our attention to Him, ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29).’ Yet He calls us to behold not a concept of sin but our sin–every vile, prideful, grasping, unclean way we have bypassed Him and sought to justify ourselves. It’s our dreadful way, and God has provided the only way out on the Cross.

Key to my conversion was beholding in the Lamb the sin that crucified Him–my sin that pierced Him in order to pardon me. Tears of contrition and gratitude unite when I gaze on the Cross. I did terrible things and am still capable of the same. He acted too. He submitted to the death my sin demanded. His action trumped mine and became my freedom.

I pray for a sweet and deep spirit of prayer on us all as we begin these forty days. We will feature this choice passage in Zechariah 12:10-13:2, and more: ‘I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on Me, the One that they have pierced…’

Join us as we pray for:

1. Living Waters Trainings: For our next training being held November 1-7, 2014 that God would open the hearts of everyone involved to receive all He has for them. Health and spiritual strength for the team members.

2. Poland: Discernment and clarity as Andrew meets with Catholic leaders in Poland about a possible Living Waters group there.

3. RHN: HIS Ministry, Carl Conli, Fair Oaks, CA: God’s blessing as Carl raises up two potential young men for future leadership. Fresno New Creation Ministries, Russell Willingham, Fresno, CA: Provision and wisdom as ministry undergoes changes.

“Courage for Pope Francis, that he would ensure that the Church becomes a clear fountain of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction!”

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BLOGS & PRAYER POINTS FOR OCTOBER 15, 16, 17, 18

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