Category: Living Waters

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

True Worship 1

We approach our fortieth anniversary bash this week; I am grateful, full of peace and praise for Jesus. In charting the breakthroughs and breakdowns throughout our four decades, I declare assuredly: ‘Lord, You establish peace for us; everything we have accomplished, You have done for us, O God’ (Is. 26:12).

At core He made Himself known to me, handing Himself over to this slave of sin. My eyes opened to behold Jesus-Savior. The knowledge of Him freed me to know myself as a man created for woman. He has empowered me to represent Him (unevenly, but always in earnest!) as a husband and father. For this I rejoice, body, soul and spirit—O God, You are Almighty Mercy, able to deliver Your creation from idolatry and self-delusion, and to free us for fruitfulness!

Pity those who split who God is from who He made them to be! This delusion is growing in the Church today—more than any other trend in our culture, I lament the deception of ‘LGBT+ Christians’ who claim devotion to Jesus while clinging to old identities and affections sourced in the father of lies, not Light. Whether it be the ‘gay’ Christian Revoice movement, Fr. James Martin’s burning ‘bridge’ in the Catholic Church, Wesley Hill’s version of ‘spiritual friendship’, or a host of recent books on the topic (the author of IVP’s SSA and the Church tips his hat toward transformation then stalls as a man mired in his ‘gay’ condition), the body of Christ seems hell-bent on making peace with LGBT+ ‘nature.’ Have we His members, lost sight of our Head who came to redeem our fallen natures? Such blindness is gnostic—splitting our spirits from our bodies and giving disordered desires the upper-hand to determine personhood.

We all need to reread Romans 1:18-32—the most substantial discourse in Scripture on homosexual conduct. St. Paul sources his understanding of sexual disorder on who God is and who humanity is based on ‘nature’, what Dr. Robert Gagnon defines as ‘the material order of things.’ Paul’s greatest theological letter opens by deeming humanity responsible for discerning the true God and for worshipping Him accordingly. Or we can do what Paul describes as the excesses evident in Rome: we deny the One and in darkness lose sight of our own created selves, sexually-speaking. This double-barreled descent into idolatry is at once spiritual —the worship of false gods—and sexual, the worship of the creature in the form of homosexual lust (1:24-27).

Heavy stuff. Could St. Paul be indicting us for how we have split our knowledge of the living God from His intention for our sexual selves? How else might we understand the unravelling of sexual order in our day? Has God handed 21st century citizens over to lustful rebellion, just as He did idolaters in Paul’s day?

Gratefully, St. Paul in Romans does not condemn sexually addictive persons but rather invites Jews first then the rest of us into the saving power of Jesus. The Apostle is clear: the domination of sin and rebellion can only be broken by faith in Jesus Christ. How can we be saved from our native idolatry, be it pious preening or exotic gender-bending? We cry out to Jesus-Savior and we worship Him!

We are back where we started. Jesus who with the Father made us: we worship Him. We return to Him who redeems us: Jesus breaks the hard heart and dissolves its filth. We worship Him and we are sustained. We go forward toward our future: eternal worship of the One. We bust idolatry by worshipping Jesus and allowing Him to restore our true personhood, including our sexual humanity.

For making Yourself known to us, we worship You Jesus. For freeing us to be who You made us to be, we worship You. For forty years of discipling others to worship You in spirit and truth, we give You praise, glory, and honor.

‘I urge you all, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will’ (Rom. 12:1, 2).

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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!

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Come Celebrate Our 40th Anniversary with Us!

40-years-ago in Southern California, Andrew Comiskey began to impart to others what the Lord had first given him—encounters with God and His transforming presence. The authority of Andrew’s “yes” to let go of ‘gay’ identification and to take up who he was as a man made for woman drew others who were yearning for the same freedom.

Partnering with Annette, his new bride, the DNA of Living Waters was established: beautiful gatherings of hungry hearts, seeking the One who would transform disordered desires, weakened wills and darkened intellects.

This One—Jesus—encountered this ever growing band of brothers and sisters. Person after person was set ablaze by the transforming power of Jesus Christ, who cares not only about our eternal salvation but also our wholeness, today. Jesus imparts mercy and grace to integrate our ‘pretty good’ humanity now, not just in the future.

For 40 years, through groundswells in various churches, cities and nations, Living Waters has seeped into dry and thirsty spaces. From our home base in Kansas City, we delight in the groups that have sprung up in the US and across Asia, Europe, and South America. But as a ministry, we hear the cry and feel the pull of those still yearning for mercy, freedom and truth.

We are ready to go the distance!

This August 7-9, we gather here in Kansas City for celebration. We will worship and declare the goodness of God, proclaim again the testimony of Jesus’ salvation, and envision our friends for the next 40 years.

Will you join us? You are welcomed and wanted as we celebrate! Though spaces are limited, we would relish your presence.

Please visit https://www.desertstream.org/40rsvp to see the weekend schedule, hotel suggestions, and RSVP.

Also, for any who want to make a special anniversary donation to Andrew and Annette as a thank you for their years of service and sacrifice, visit here: https://www.desertstream.org/AA40thGift

For those who cannot travel, we will be streaming some sessions live. Keep watch on our Facebook / social media platforms for more information.

Whether or not you can come, please join us in spirit. Pray for us as we launch into the next 40 years!

Abbey Foard

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True Justice in Race & Sexuality

By Pastor Andrew Franklin, Living Waters leader and author of
‘Created for Love: Reclaiming Jesus’ Vision for Sexuality, Gender, and Relationships.’

Jesus created every tribe, tongue, and nation to express His glory in unique but equally meaningful ways. That means standing in colorful ethnic diversity and in the unique glory of our bodies made male and female in His image.

Through racism, the inherent dignity of the human person is compromised. Racism, whether overt (violence, discrimination) or covert (“I don’t see color”) distorts God’s image in us. Rather than defending the weak and vulnerable and loving justice, we defend our own compromise and love our own view of ourselves.

That brings us to our generation’s other social justice debate. Whenever awareness dawns on our duty toward black brothers and sisters, many Christians turn the focus away from them (too painful to stay there?) and begin to champion other causes, specifically LGBT+ ones, that have a similar “feel” of justice while serving a radically different ideology.

For many of my conservative friends, their hesitation at embracing social justice for African Americans may be rooted in the fear that the rainbow flag will follow the cause of black dignity. At the same time, I know many friends who begin to internalize the pain of the black experience then begin to question their sexual morality. “Am I blind, intolerant, and hateful toward homosexuality, just as my ancestors were blind, intolerant and hateful toward black people?”

We must give Holy Spirit room to search our hearts and expose pride, feelings of superiority, and unbiblical assumptions. Then, as we repent, we must re-define our anthropology and morality around the Word and ways of God. Repentance means returning to God’s vision for our humanity, His design for our unique ethnicities and our common call to sexual integrity as men and women choosing to dignify one another.

Through sexual immorality as with racism, the inherent dignity of the human person is compromised. Perversion, whether overt (sexual abuse, molestation) or covert (“love is love”) distorts God’s image in us. We again defend our own compromise and love our own view of ourselves.

Our enemy has insidious plots to de-rail us, to pervert us so we embody lust more than whole-hearted love. Over our history, and particularly in the last few decades, Christian leaders have used a distorted interpretation of God’s Word to defend sexual sin. As with any sin, the underlying thought is that I, the mere human being, have the definitive grip and grasp on what’s best for the human person (over the years, what has been “best” for the human person has included divorce, abortion, and LGBT ideology).

Although the LGBT movement positions itself to be the natural successor to black rights, it is more aligned with racism, for both positions base their view of dignity and destiny on ‘feelings’ rather than on God’s glory in creation. The LGBT advocate believes that ‘gay’ marriage or gender reassignment is what most dignifies a gender-insecure person, because it ‘feels’ just. A racist may ‘feel’ that subservience or silencing most dignifies a black person.

Our advocacy in social justice must come from the Word and ways of God.

Regarding racism, the New Testament is clear. The book of Acts describes racial compassion toward Gentiles as the source of early church persecution. Paul regularly reminds the church that Jesus has torn down the dividing walls between ethnic groups and has called for unity in the spirit and familial love for one another regardless of race (Ephesians 2:11-22). He reinforces that different ethnic groups are supposed to shine in their unique ways (Romans 3:1-2).

Regarding sexual morality, the New Testament is clear. In Acts 15, the apostles must decide on realistic expectations for new ethnic groups who are learning to follow Jesus without knowing Jewish ways. They encourage the new church leaders not to worry about making the Gentiles conform to Jewish culture but instead create a short list of essentials, such as rejecting sexual immorality. They challenge each person to be express their own ethnic heritage while calling them to a Jewish high standard of sexual integrity. Paul takes up this theme when he specifically charges the Gentiles to not act in accordance with their ethnic group’s values of sexual immorality, but rather clarifies that God’s will for each of them is to overcome lust and walk in a sanctified vision of sexual love (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7).

Paul commands us to renounce ethnic superiority and lust and perversion. That can liberate us to champion racial justice and sexual integrity. The early church did just that: these two values turned the whole world upside down by a love superior to the emptiness of racism and perversion. Let it be so in our generation!

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Collective Burden, Personal Transformation

Abbey Foard, Executive Director of DSM/LW

Our nation (and our world) is swirling, as dizzying news cycles attest. No need to recount—we are living them. For those of us sensitive to “feeling” our communities, the intensity can feel like a riptide, a fierce pull away from the shoreline into unstable waters.

In this sensitivity, we can risk interpreting our world too personally. When I do this, I risk condemning myself and others. We can also risk depersonalizing these global realities by refusing responsibility for neighbor and brother. We may lurch from super-responsibility, as though the weight of every life rests upon our shoulders, to shirking responsibility entirely. When we do this, we numb our call to be salt and light—stabilizing forces amid upheaval.

I believe God is provoking His Church (you and me personally) to awaken and find the narrow way. He invites us to re-engage with Him so we can share His heart and carry His burden—a collective burden—for the world He loves and the people He yearns to make His own.

He is calling us to neither harden our hearts nor grow weary in well-doing but to be healed, both personally and collectively. He wants this collective burden to personalize into deeper transformation at core areas of our lives.

We must respond to His invitation in real-time. That means giving Him room to sensitize us to His conviction. Might we take time to heed His call to shift and sort what needs reordering in our lives? That requires humility and surrender in ways we have not yet known. Yet Jesus came to do this deep work. Seasons like this expose our need for it.

In His book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice (2001), Robert Gagnon speaks of Jesus’ attitudes around healing and transformation. When Jesus encountered sexual sinners, exploitive tax collectors, and the like, He did not hesitate to direct them to a narrow way. Healing was more than a 280-character tweet; it was a life-altering change. For Jesus, “Healing implies transformation; transformation implies repentance [and] without reform of one’s prior sinful conduct there can be no recovery” (p. 211).

We ought not move through times like this without personal and collective reform, repentance unto transformation and healing. No part of our individual life is excluded—our Church and world cannot change until we do. And because of that, I believe that individual transformation matters most to Jesus.

At Desert Stream, we invite each person into this personal transformation. We are unpopular, as we insist that Jesus transforms deep sexual and relational brokenness. We proclaim what we have seen and experienced. We know the freedom and challenge of living out our reform. Whatever way the swirls of 2020 are hitting us, may you and I respond with a “yes” to the transformation that Jesus seeks to do in each of us.

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