Tag Archives: Living Waters

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

River Run

As I prepared to run the inaugural half-marathon in Kansas City for 2018, I reflected on the river of mercy Jesus released for us in Lithuania.

We drove half the night from Latvia to Vilnius, Lithuania’s biggest city and source of the Divine Mercy devotion initiated by an uneducated nun in the 1930’s. God gave St. Faustina a vision of His mercy for the whole world, a world on the brink of WWII which would prove especially devastating to Lithuania, Poland, Latvia and the surrounding nations that fell under Soviet rule.

From their depths, inspired by this vision of Risen Jesus with a healing flood flowing from His heart, Eastern Europeans Christians were the first to cry out: ‘O blood and water which gush forth from the heart of the Savior as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in You!’ (line from Divine Mercy prayer)

And so did Abbey and me as we awoke in Vilnius for the first of three days of equipping the saints there who lead Living Waters group in Lithuania. From my room I could view the Neris River flowing and I prayed that our efforts there would be like a river of mercy for these saints who, having suffered losses I cannot imagine, now entrust themselves wholly to Jesus.

Another marvel—that morning was Divine Mercy Sunday, the day set apart once a year by the Catholic Church to reflect upon and pray for God’s mercy to well up and envelope the whole world. One billion Christians cast themselves on God’s mercy that day: is it any wonder that the mercy levels rise in the Church like Ezekiel’s vision (EZ 47) of the river rising from the temple altar: first ankle deep, then waist high, then a current so high one must swim in the healing stream that makes everything live (v. 9)?

As we entered our meeting room, I viewed the Cross and the Divine Mercy picture and heard the chorus of worship songs featuring the merciful flood gushing from Christ Crucified and Raised: this is Living Waters! Abbey and I did little but expound upon the basic foundations of our healing groups; we then invited all who thirst in the Spirit of IS 55 to immerse themselves in the flood, to linger there and to receive deep drafts of the Father’s love. We invited everyone who knew that their disordered feelings were sourced in love’s frustration: bonds blocked by Soviet oppression and addiction and abuse that curdled normal longings for affection. God moved deeply; in His great mercy, He loved each one simply, deeply, specifically.

He kept raining His mercy upon us; the river rose higher that afternoon. As we worshipped and gathered before the Cross, Jesus freed us to name how we reject ourselves for having particular kinds of struggle. Shame is a relentless robber that tempts us to refuse the mercy that could be ours. We name sins and receive forgiveness but then fail to extend that mercy to our clean yet weakened selves. We all went deeper in the truth that God loves us profoundly in our still-being-healed state and wants us to welcome His river where we are most inclined to turn away in shame.

The evening was simpler still. How can we not refuse the temptation to despair when the waters are rising? Heaviness rests naturally upon many post-Soviet citizens but when Jesus soaks us in His Father’s love, displacing that spirit of alienation and self-hatred, we cannot help but well up like a fountain of mercy for others! Standing in the river, it was easy to break the power of death and disqualification and to arm ourselves in the weapons of hope: peace, love, joy and the holy purposes our Father entrusts to us as members of His healing army.

Back home, I mused upon that Divine Mercy Sunday in Vilnius and welled up with gratitude for my Lithuanian family, and their legacy of mercy that flows throughout the world. I forgot to fear the rough raced ahead and honestly, ran better than I had in two years. I felt myself to be caught up in the current of something greater than myself, and like Elijah ran furiously til the race’s end.

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Behold the Lamb 6: ‘Having Nothing, Possessing Everything’ (2 Cor. 10:10)

Our Lenten offering is prayer for the whole, broken Church. Not so hard. We are wholly broken, full of faith, bursting with seeds of hope for her best and grateful to sow them in deep rich soil. We are nothing in contrast to how people rate greatness. But in prayerful response to His riches toward us, we have everything. We laugh: barren Sarah (Ge 18:12), David and his giants, a speck of mustard seed (Matt. 17:20), containing within herself a sheltering, towering tree.

So we are very bold to ask God to make His bride magnificent. Advocating for the abused, especially power abuse in which shepherds ruin sheep while saving their own hides, pleading for pastors whose pure hearts are drawn and quartered by unrelenting demands, summoning the sheep who wander alone due to mistrust and childish expectations: we take on Goliath on her behalf.

Our courage comes from the Source Himself, the River of Life loosed from Father and Son, now filling the temple (EZ 47). The beautiful thing about this Source of Living Waters? Any thirsty one can come (IS 55), and anyone can cry out for thirsty ones in peril (LK 11:5-13)—the smaller the better! We are very bold because we take Jesus at His Word, this beautiful God-man who joyfully declares: ‘I have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children’ (LK 10:21). We are bold because like children we don’t know how not to be. We ask straight from our hearts to the Heart whom we know listens and acts for those He loves. He loves us. He alone is the Father who does not disappoint.

Our main sorrow is for those wise and learned ones too big for Him. In our smallness, we cry out for the mercy that reduces kings to car-washers, cardinals to cashiers. Every Tuesday night this Lent we gather in a little chapel off the sanctuary and set up our Divine Mercy banner where Jesus summons us to His river of blood and water: ‘Come and drink, you thirsty; you without money, come, buy, and eat!’ As we sup and pray, the water levels rise and flow out to captives.

Funny. Each week as we prayed a popular speaker filled the sanctuary with hundreds receiving his inspired words. At once grateful, and gleeful over the irony of our small group of five face-down in the shadow cast by 300, we entered a chamber of His heart that renewed our fainting hearts. So much so that our words launched five times over like David’s five smooth stones (1 S 17:40), slaying giants.

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Splendor of the Kingdom 1

‘This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel’ (MK 1:14, 15).

We should never reduce Jesus to a tidy set of teachings or ethics. He shatters our controlling tendencies with one touch of His healing, delivering hand. Jesus advances a new universe—the rule and reign of Heaven on earth. He plunges into our depths, casts out darkness, and raises us up as children of Light, beloved sons and daughters of the Father. Tidy? God’s Kingdom is at best disorienting.

This Kingdom comes through joyful declaration of the Gospel, with signs and wonders following–the Word confirmed by spiritual power. As St. Mark recorded, “The people were amazed at Jesus: ‘A new teaching, and with power!’“ (MK 1:27). How can He not shake our little universes?! God has come! God comes to you! Heaven could not hold Him back from descending into our messy lives and breaking the low ceiling that defines us as everything but beloved. His huge ‘yes’ to us liberates our freedom to give shaky assent to Him. He takes His advantage. He becomes our stronghold of light in a dismal world–the luminous foundation of our very beings.

I witnessed how ‘Kingdom-centric’ our Living Waters world is while working with friends Peter Herbeck and Ralph Martin, both pioneers of thoughtful Spirit-filled advances throughout the Church. These guys spearhead a television show on EWTN called ‘The Choices We Face’—they filmed a segment with me (under good lights I look a vital 72—see for yourself when the show airs sometime in mid-2018) and commented afterwards: ‘You have hope for persons facing big sexual challenges because you anchor that hope in the power of the Gospel.’

True that. I am continuously puzzled by persons who hear our hopeful stories of real struggle and real release and respond with: ’I don’t believe in reparative therapy’ or ‘Jesus does not always heal people.’ Huh?

Jesus came to reclaim our lives from the grip of the world and the devil, and to persuade us in love to let go of the fleshly attachments that enslave us. That is true for all persons who seek Him. His descent and ascent is our ticket to paradise—eternity starts today with Jesus. Yes, struggles remain: these keep us humble and reliant on Jesus’ members (how insufferable is the one who declares moral perfection!).

But to reduce Jesus’ radical obedience at Calvary to a benefit for ‘the lucky few’ and to count oneself as ‘untouched’, ‘made for’ LGBT liberties—that is a lie against the Gospel. Yes, in our dullness we can refuse to cooperate with Jesus. And yes, He waits for us to invite His Kingdom to rule and reign in us afresh. God can and does touch all persons who turn toward Almighty Mercy.

Freedom from sin and disorder of all kinds begins, progresses, and ends with the glorious splendor of God’s-Kingdom-come in Jesus Christ. The Kingdom has come. The Kingdom is here. That Kingdom can burn like an unquenchable fire inside you (LK 17:21) and make everything new. Choose this day who will ignite you.

‘We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the morning star rises in your hearts’ (2P 1:19).

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Struck Down, Deployed

‘We are struck down but not destroyed, always carrying around in the body the death of Jesus that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.’
(2Cor 4: 9b, 10)

As our fast continues, I am especially grateful for the parents of strugglers who are becoming prayer warriors. I believe that the mightiest members of God’s healing army today are mothers and fathers whose children have ‘come out’ as LGBT+. Struck down by unintentional acts of domestic violence, these parents—facedown–discover Jesus for themselves.

Another’s wound and rebellion wakes them up. At last. The God of their childhood becomes Savior and Lord for them now. He gives them a share in His heart for the broken in need of His body. They will change the face of the Church.

I met Teri at an Encourage meeting. She was distraught and nearly hopeless about her daughter who claimed to be transitioning into a ‘son.’ At that point, her goal was to amass info about ‘transgender’ realities. She learned in the next few months that gaining knowledge was her way of controlling the chaos at hand.

When I saw her next at our ‘Open to Life’ seminar, she was remarkably composed. She told me that though she is happy to learn more, she knows what God wants. ‘He wants me. This is more about my conversion than anything else. I am learning how to trust Him as never before.’

Teri followed up that seminar with a small Lenten prayer group we hosted about chastity, what it means to become whole in our gender and sexuality. Several persons attended with apparent gender identity problems. Teri’s divides are not apparent; she looks like the well-heeled and adjusted head of women’s ministry. Yet she was the first to lead out with confession about her issues as a woman and why those issues probably had made life harder for her daughter. What a woman. She goes to the Cross for her own brokenness first. She prays for her daughter out of the mercy she receives from Jesus.

Now I have the privilege of walking with Teri through a Living Waters group. I arrived at my parish early to set up one night and noticed a woman kneeling at the altar beneath the Cross. She was radiant, fragrant with holiness and looked a bit like Mary Mother of God as she united her heart with Jesus. I failed to realize it was Teri until later. No matter; even from a distance, I could discern that this intercessor was in sync with her Savior and destined to move mountains. A sword may have pierced her heart (LK 2:35), but with that same sword, surrendered to Jesus, she will thwart the enemy’s schemes. Thank God for His marvelous plan!

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Relationships that Heal

While we as the Desert Stream staff prayed for our upcoming Living Waters European Leaders gathering in Poland, I received these words: ‘relationships that heal.’ They do indeed.

For over 30 years, blessed Europe has been the site where deep bonds have been forged. And fractured. The pain of the latter can tend to overshadow my Euro-friendships that endure. Could my ‘bent’ perspective be a part of the problem? Perhaps splinters from broken relationships still sting and obscure my vision.

Isn’t this true for most of us? When we get hurt, affliction infects our eyes and we see others (and the persons they represent) as symbols of conflict that we want to avoid. God was kindly challenging my vision. ‘Open your eyes to the love that is there for you…’

Maybe it’s because our wounds are deep, so much so that we fall into them like ruts in a highway. Our ‘wounders’ loom large and appear bigger than the healers whose unfailing love helped bind up our wounds. God wants us to look up and out to the persons who know us honestly and who still love us. He wants our healers to inhabit our hearts more than our perpetrators.

During our days together in Warsaw, I marveled at several fellow healers with whom I have walked for years in Europe. But none captured my gaze more than Werner and Charlotte Loerschter who as directors of Torrents-de-Vie (Living Waters) in France have been a source of healing for me unlike any others. I recalled our 23 years of digging wells of healing throughout Europe: we wearied ourselves in exhilarating service, in working out conflict, and in binding up each other’s wounds. Through it all, we have come to know each other deeply and at times painfully. Love pervaded all. I know they love me authentically because they know how hard it is to love me. And they have succeeded brilliantly. Whatever wholeness I possess I attribute in part to their love.

I looked upon these friends with gratitude during our gathering. I drank in love. Love is stronger than the death of failed relationships; healing is more defining than hurt. We must allow it to be. I encourage you to look upon the ones who have loved you well. Live in their light, a glorious reflection of His own.

Join us for the ‘Becoming Good News for the Gender Challenged’ fast from Oct. 11th-Nov. 19th.

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