Tag Archives: Living Waters Training

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Darkness before Dawn

‘Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of His servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on Him.’ (IS 50: 10)

While Michael Sam, the first gay NFL player to be drafted, cavorted on the global stage with his boyfriend, we gathered for our Living Waters Training. Men and women, Catholics and Protestants, broken people who without Jesus would be enslaved to either gender, entered into the river of blood and water that makes all things new.

We gathered with a new urgency around the Cross, trusting that the Crucified God would calm the dark currents swirling around us and somehow, in our repentance, take us deeper into His heart for His Church. We were not disappointed.

The Holy Spirit fell on us immediately. Though divided by regions and diverse Christian traditions, God united us as we got low and listened together for His still small voice. All of us had been deafened by the din of powerful, media-driven lies–false assumptions about the nature of homosexuality and marriage, and what constitutes sexual liberty. The good news? God woke us up to the fact that we can overcome darkness by heeding His voice.

A wiseman writes: ‘When the wind howls and the doors and windows clatter, one can hardly hear at all…if you will hear the voice of God, that Fatherly word whispered in the inmost depths of your soul, you must become deaf to all the roar of the world without and hush all the voices within. You must yield yourself up like a meek and gentle sheep, confess your sins, and all humbly hushed and quieted, hearken to this voice of God.’

We, the training group, had no time or strength to defend ourselves from each other. The irrational, virulent rise of idolatry in our world reduced us to Jesus: to listening together for His healing Word, and fighting for the healing of a generation who may be lost to perversion unless we manifest the Merciful Creator who can redeem all.

Note to self: those who witness the deception of a Michael Sam and respond only with disgust contribute to his cause. Sam has become the new sexual underdog for a generation who will defend anyone from such sneering.

I want to do more than sneer: I want to live the good news that Jesus reconciles us to our real selves in exchange for powerful lies. The world is shrouded in darkness and we make it worse by only cursing that darkness. Darkness ends in death. We who embody His new life must shine like lights as we hold out that Life to others. We must clarify the One to whom the deceived can repent before death takes away their choice.

That is serious business: a matter of eternal life or death.

At our training, God purified our interior ‘lamps’ through reducing us to One Voice, One Cross, and One Church. I discerned that those who refuse to gather with the saints will be scattered and become prey to the father of lies. The Holy Spirit is uniting us and giving us abundant Life. Through a humbled and renewed people, God wants to dawn for those living in darkness.

‘But now all you who light fires and provide yourselves with torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from God’s hand: you will lie down in torment.’ (IS 50: 11)

Downward Ascent 8: Woeful Well-Being

‘Woe to you when all men speak well of you…’ (LK 6:26)
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.’ (Matt. 5:10)

Being hated for loving Jesus means you are doing something right. Authentic peacemakers provoke war. Jesus may wash feet, defend children, empower women, and cure lepers but He also mirrors the truth of our sin (JN 15: 18-25). His reflection so unsettled the religious and political figures of His day that they smashed that mirror every way they could. His disciples might expect the same. The servant is not greater than his master.

I refer to the backlash prompted by authentic righteousness, not self-righteous bluster. A pagan friend roughed me up in the early days of my conversion when I was prone to quoting Scripture in faux dulcet tones. I deserved to be decked–religion was making me insufferable. That differed from the gossip that surrounded me when I pulled away from gay friends. Although I was sorely tempted to serve both God and Baal, I knew that the former demanded loyalty.

Jesus makes us very unpopular. How else do you explain Mozilla/Firefox Chief (Silicon Valley magnate) Brendan Eich who resigned under pressure when it became known that a few years earlier he gave $1000 in support of Proposition 8? A popular gay website posted this about Eich and anyone who stands for marriage: ’For enforcing misery, shame, and frustration, you are our enemies, and we wish you nothing but failure.’

Be forewarned: the ‘gay marriage’ machine has just begun to steamroll opponents. Note that its energy is essentially ‘anti-Christ.’ To reconfigure marriage means a failure to recognize both the context and purpose of sexual love as advocated by Jesus Himself. (Matt. 19:4-6) People hate chastity and genuine fruitfulness; for all their talk about wanting ‘gay marriage,’ gay activists hate marriage. Blessed are those persecuted for upholding the righteousness of marriage. Blessed is Brendan and blessed are we.

Two years ago, a global gay-rights group did some research and discovered that Desert Stream Ministries was the source of the Living Waters Training week, which are currently being sponsored in nations throughout the earth. These activists never inquired of us but saw fit to launch a virtual smear campaign throughout the globe, using ads to describe our trainings as coercive and based on the premise that one begins the week with their ‘gay dial’ on and we claim to change the dial to ‘straight.’ All in 7 days! (Preposterous, as the training is for lay leaders being equipped to run church groups.)

Using this visual ‘dial’ image and a paragraph of pure lies, they amassed nearly one million signatures online against us. They submitted these signatures to governments around the world and requested that these nations shut us down for the sake of human rights.

The result? Governments around the world warned our constituents in those nations to distance themselves from us or else. It worked. Colleagues whom we had served on their soil for decades put up fire-walls from us to preserve their ministries.

Those who rejoice in the Cross must also be willing to endure the cross He asks us to bear. Consider the promises you make. Those who enter through the Crucified must share in that suffering. Heaven asks it of us.

From what aspect of Jesus’ righteousness do you seek to distance yourself? What cross do you avoid to maintain peace? As we enter Holy Week, be aware of your own ‘Hosannas.’ Will your love endure beyond the palms and hymns? Will you go the distance with Him to Calvary?

Edith Stein was a German Jewish convert who became a Carmelite nun. She exhorted her sisters with these words before being killed by the Nazis:

‘Will you remain faithful to the Crucified? Consider carefully! The world is in flames, the battle between Christ and Antichrist has broken out into the open. If you decide for Christ, it could cost you your life. Carefully consider what you promise.’

PRAYER for Sunday April 13th: ‘On this Palm Sunday, we rejoice that You choose to dwell with us, Humble King, the Prince of Peace. At the same time, we know that our hearts are not much different from the disciples who loved You during the parade and rejected You in the persecution to come. Have mercy on our fickle hearts.’

PRAYER for Monday April 14th: ‘Reveal any “peace at any price” tendency in us. Show us how we adjust the truth to look good before men rather than before God. As we approach the Cross this week, make us true.’

PRAYER for Tuesday April 15th: ‘Jesus, grant us the grace to distinguish rejection based on righteousness rather than rude, proud behavior. We turn from truth without love. Amplify truth-in-love. Remind us of the intimacy reserved for those who endure alienation from others for Your sake.’

PRAYER for Wednesday April 16th: ‘Father, show us any person or issue toward which we fear to be the truth. Grant us the love to include others in the whole of Your Gospel: crucifixion unto resurrection. Forgive us for wanting You only in the joy of new life and not in the grief of letting go. Forgive us for rejoicing in only one aspect of Your Cross and actually hating the other. Help us to love all that You are as we approach Calvary.’

Fighting Dirty

Brad Pitt’s mother takes a stand for marriage and receives death threats from irate activists; Obama comes out for ‘gay marriage’, jets to Hollywood where he parties with Brad, Julia and George, and rakes in $15million.

Activists slam Professor Mark Regenerus for his analysis of ‘gay parenting’ on the basis that his rigorous study (the most comprehensive to date) was ‘designed to make gay people look bad’ and fueled by religious prejudice. (Regenerus is a recent convert to Catholicism.) The nuts and bolts of the study seem irrelevant to the fact that activists did not like its results. Short on facts, they smear and slander.

Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy reiterates his company’s commitment to marriage. Not only is he slammed as a bigot, a racist, and hater, his restaurants are now targeted by activists and politicians who insist they be shut down in cities like San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston.

Yours truly, Desert Stream Ministries, is currently the target of activists who have perverted our Living Waters training—an equipping week designed for lay leaders seeking to lead healing groups for a range of sexual issues in their local churches—into a ‘gay cure’ intensive. On the basis of a two-sentence fib in which they describe the training as an effort to ‘stifle and smother same-sex attractions so deeply that they [participants] don’t recognize or love themselves,’ this group is collecting signatures globally and insisting that governments around the world shut down our trainings.

Activists cannot extinguish the truth that ‘gay marriage’ may not be the best idea for society and that for many the awareness of same-sex attraction is the beginning of a long healing journey. But they can seek to destroy the truth-bearers. They do so by character assassination, by unrelenting and irrational smear campaigns.

I recall the damage done by a cruel classmate in junior high who initiated a year’s worth of ridiculing me on the false grounds that I was a practicing homosexual. I lived with that shame for years. Strange justice: the activists that probably experienced similar shaming experiences are now heaping that unhealed shame upon others.

How much freer all would be if activists turned to the God of mercy! He alone has power to remove the damage done to us all, to transform hardened hearts into tender ones. Activists would not need the bristling, arrogant power of the ‘gay self’ to defend their wounds; these wounds would be united with His, the only real juncture of justice and peace.

‘If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your justice like the waves of the sea.’ (Is. 48:18)

Andrew

Broken and Beautiful

What relevance is the Resurrected Christ for those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction? Or with any other profound sexual problem?

As one who shares that struggle, I often feel like the rather clueless disciples, stumbling about in the dark with the risen Christ. Disoriented by mixed signals from the church and world, ‘harassed at every turn’ (2 Cor 7:5), I fail to see Him among us.

And yet in blessed moments, He opens our eyes and we see Him as He is. His tender power surpasses our deepest need and transcends moral abstractions. In an instant we realize that our need is only Him—His Real Presence, the life of the world becoming our life, the center in which we rest, the anchor of our soul, sure and steadfast. (Heb. 6:19)

Mysteries, all, made tangible by His body, broken for us and beautiful. It is fitting that only at table together, in the breaking of the bread—the re-presentation of His crucifixion, of His brokenness, that the disciples’ eyes were opened to behold Jesus in His resurrection, His wholeness.

‘When He was at table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him…’ (Lk 24: 30)

I am convinced that we shall behold the Risen Christ only when we discover Him in His broken body.

A few nights back I revisited the beauty of that brokenness. We gathered as one body at our Living Waters Training; there I taught on overcoming sexual brokenness through the advocacy of the Church. Given the unusually high levels of confusion in our culture today over same-sex attraction, I felt compelled to urge all same-sex strugglers (approximately one-third of the group) to come forward. The remaining folks–‘the traditionally-broken’—came forward to lay hands on them and impart power from on high.

God brought such freedom. The Risen Christ met us in acknowledged brokenness and revealed Himself to us: tender power to raise those deadened by fear and confusion and to make us one body.

If we want to know Him, the Risen Lord, we must be known by them: His body, broken and beautiful.

Mercy Running (an army of Magdalenes)

Day 23 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy Running (an army of Magdalenes)

‘I found my destiny at the moment when my soul lost itself in You, the only object of my love.’ (57)

Why was Mary Magdalene the first disciple Jesus entrusted with His Resurrection? According to John’s Gospel, Peter and John raced to the empty tomb but could not comprehend Christ Resurrected.

Jesus entrusted this sight to Mary Magdalene. After Peter and John had left the tomb, having sifted through evidence of the Resurrection without sight, Mary lingered at the tomb, weeping.

These tears were familiar. Many believe that Mary was the prostitute in Luke 7 who washed Jesus’ feet with tears, in gratitude for His Mercy, while the Pharisee looked on aghast. She had been forgiven of much and so she loved Him much (v.47). Perhaps she wept after He cast out seven demons from her (Lk. 8:2) or after she witnessed His Almighty Mercy restore hundreds of lives while travelling with him. Certainly these were the tears she shed as she watched Him suffer and die on the Cross. (Jn. 19:25)

She was a woman uniquely attuned to Christ. Her gender and her brokenness forged a dependency upon Him qualitatively different from the male disciples. While ‘customers’ had shamed and fractured her, Jesus’ nearness set her free. Her wholeness was bound up in His life, her holiness a result of their intimacy.

Jesus entrusted her with His Resurrection. Clarity of sight corresponds with purity of heart (Matt. 6:22, 23). Her heart sought only His. So He, the Resurrected Christ chose to appear to her first, for her eyes alone.

He entrusted an ex-prostitute with the most pivotal event in human history.

On the eve of another Living Waters training, many ex-prostitutes will gather to help ensure their churches are safe and powerful places for the broken. Having washed Jesus’ feet with their tears, they are now intent on washing others.

Like Mary, they will run back to their homes, with pure hearts and clear eyes: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ (Jn 20: 18) God is raising up an army of Magdalenes. To these He can entrust the Mercy that makes all things new.

‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; from the one entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’ (Lk. 12:48)

‘Jesus, You pour out abundant Mercies upon those in need, surpassing the depth of sin with the power of Your love. We trust in You, the Mercy that makes all things new. Set us free in the spirit of Mary Magdalene to make known Your glorious Life. Free us from sin’s winter and free us for the season of singing. Make us bold and joyful stewards of the Mercy that sets captives free.’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

 

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