Living Waters: Restoring Relational Integrity through the Broken Body of Christ is the curriculum used in Living Waters groups and is only available to participants.
Chapter 1: Introduction to Living Waters
We begin by identifying the gift that we are, and how Jesus reclaims that gift through His broken Body. That includes each of us—our stories, our need for grace, and our capacity to extend grace to others. We consider two key aspects of sexuality–gender and boundaries—and the goal of chastity. Together we shall discover how Jesus rescues our sexuality from a host of indignities and helps us integrate its essential goodness. We conclude by agreeing upon certain expectations that help make the group safe for all.
Chapter 2: Acknowledging Our Need
God gives us what we need, not what we deserve! Sorting through those needs includes an examination of good and bad shame, and how unmet needs for love can tempt us to meet our needs the wrong way. Mary Magdalene leads by example: when submitted to Jesus, our unmet needs and shame become the ground for intimate reliance upon Holy Love. We conclude by renouncing self-hatred and receiving God’s merciful acceptance of us.
Chapter 3: Becoming Responsive to the Father’s Love
The Father initiates His rule and reign in our lives. Such divine initiative requires our response; the Bridegroom seeks His Bride and cultivates her reliance upon Him. We explore this rhythm of initiative and response through three women named Mary—from Bethany, the Magdalene, and God’s mother. Each provides a key that helps us unlock cultural and psychological doors to our responsiveness to God, including breakdown in early bonding with mother.
Chapter 4: The Fighting Father
At Calvary, both Holy Father and Son fought for our dignity. And won! We consider how the Cross becomes the locus of our restoration: Jesus’ ‘Father-Wound’ assumes ours and reunites us with the Perfect Parent. We explore how we as His Body represent this ‘Fighting Father’ to each other, including how we name and bless and uphold one another with a future and a hope based upon the Father’s vision for our lives.
Chapter 5: Gender Matters: Revealing Christ through the Gift of Our Bodies
Our bodies reveal the mystery of God on earth. Drawing upon John Paul ll’s ‘Theology of the Body,’ we explore what it means to bear His image in our relationships. That includes gender complementarity, a commitment to the other’s good, as well as a commitment to chastity and creativity in human loving. Finally, we take a step back and realize that our efforts to love well bear witness of a greater mystery: Jesus devotion to His bride, the Church.
Chapter 6: The Cross: Confession and Repentance
In order to love well, we must turn from our sin. We explore how we have dehumanized ourselves and others, namely by violating complementarity and commitment in our relationships. We learn the language of sin so we can understand precisely what we need to confess and from what we need to repent. We prepare for confession so that the depth of our sin can be surpassed by the depth of His forgiveness. Here we explore two types of confession: to a spiritual elder, and to select members of His body for the sake of ongoing grace and accountability in our repentance.
Chapter 7: Renouncing Idols
Loving well means worshipping only One: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We explore the idols tied to sexual and relational sin today in the form of porn, sexual immorality, birth control and divorce, and gay activism. He gently woos us and asks each one: who will you serve? The practical dimension of refusing idols will be examined as well. We seek His power in order to stand united as a people who will serve only One in these bodies. To quote St. Augustine: ‘Command what You will, then will what You command!’
Chapter 8: Overcoming Addiction through the Real Meal
God wants to satisfy our desires with good things. We give up bad food in order to eat well. Still, we must approach bad eating habits with a long-haul perspective based on an understanding of addiction. We explore the roots of addiction and the loving way God bears with us as we learn to let go of falsehood and live from the Source: Jesus and His beautiful, broken Body.
Chapter 9: Healing Power of Pain: How Wounds Make us More Whole
Our hearts bear pain from the past up to the present, and that pain can express itself in myriad ways, including addiction and transference. In His wounds, Jesus helps us to identify ours. We then can join with Him and one another in necessary suffering, that is, the experience of pain which is essential to the healing of our wounds and losses. We learn to grieve in hope, and to love unencumbered by past blows.
Chapter 10: Identifying Brokenness, Resuming the Journey
Facing the sources of our pain is never easy but can yield the fruit of new mercies for self and others. We look at the track on which God intends that we grow into wholeness. We examine some of the gaps in our personal journeys and ask for the Father’s abundant grace. We need it in order to resume the road toward wholeness, especially when we have gone sideways or backwards. Through it all, Jesus reveals our Father who revives our call to manifest Himself in the unique dignity of our male and female identities.
Chapter 11: Restoring Broken Boundaries
Abuse comes in many forms and impacts how we offer ourselves to each other. The misuse of adult power damages the child’s boundary. God designed that unseen but very real boundary to protect his/her dignity and to help create an experience of safety in relating to others. How Jesus begins to restore that boundary and the adult-child’s experience of relational wholeness will be considered in the group and walked out carefully as (s)he grows in trust with those who respect those boundaries.
Chapter 12: The True Self Forgives
United with Christ in His wounds and His resurrection, we can become like Him toward those who have damaged us. We learn how to forgive. He gives us the mercy we need to extend mercy and so disentangle ourselves from the complexity of sin’s power, especially in relation to those we needed most. In releasing our beloved offenders to Jesus, we lay down our defenses and He takes up our case as Almighty Advocate.
Chapter 13: The True Self Aspires to Wholeness, Refuses Despair
Raised with Christ, the new creation aspires to great things. Our suffering must never become a dour, downcast posture but rather the refining of our listening and looking for Him. We listen for His defining word and refuse the misbegotten words that had defined us. And we watch for the boundless horizon He has opened for us. Our ‘fighting’ community helps us here. Where we stall in our suffering and are tempted by despair, we ask for help to refuse ‘worldly sorrow’ and stand in the Life Jesus won for us.
Chapter 14: The True Self Unites with God in Weakness and Overcomes Narcissism
Our true selves are not perfect selves. Raised with Christ, we place our confidence in His perfection and thus can admit our ongoing weaknesses. Love frees us for authentic relating based on grace-filled awareness of flaws and failures. His solid love becomes the center of our new selves and thus progressively frees us to shed those false selves we designed to cause others to love us. Those false selves include both seductive and religious personas.
Chapter 15: The True Self Loves His/Her Own Gender
Hearty and intimate same-sex friendships are the basis for whole gender selves and the freedom to offer ourselves well to the opposite gender. We will explore how to navigate such friendships, employing biblical examples. We will also examine how to deal with envy and other temptations that can arise en route to mature, affectionate friendships. We want to assert a biblical alternative to detached models of friendship in our culture that seem to be a reaction to the threat of appearing ‘homosexual.’
Chapter 16: Offering the Gift
We now explore the goal of offering ourselves wisely to the opposite–gender. That is based on the good gifts we each are, and the theological mandate to dignify the other with our offering. We examine in greater detail the barriers to doing so based on the fall: the complementary lusts of man and woman that war against their good and whole need for the other. We then examine the power of the Cross to pull up the dividing wall between men and women, and provide three marching orders for image-bearers who seek to offer themselves afresh in humility and freedom.
Chapter 17: Restoring Woman’s Honor
Woman’s essential responsiveness is damaged by sin. Though struck down it is not destroyed. Jesus reclaims the true feminine in woman. He employs the vessel of Mary as an example of the ‘new Eve’ who through the fruit of her womb takes back womanhood from its counterfeits. In particular, we examine how the deep responsiveness of woman can become a reservoir for profound suffering. We then look at the role of misogyny (Gr. hatred of woman) in destabilizing the true feminine in woman and the way in which Jesus through His community restores the woman’s honor and dignity.
Chapter 18: Restoring Man’s Honor
Man’s focused strength and power is also subject to brokenness. Worldly ways of asserting himself must die in order for Christ to raise up what pleases Him. We examine the roots of his silent detachment. Jesus reunites the new man with Himself and others who together aspire to empowering others. We also look at the impact of misandry (Gr. hatred of man) in order to love women without bad shame or other historic shadows. Jesus realigns and directs the man’s power to become His instrument of grace.
Chapter 19: For the Bride
To know Jesus, we must know them, members of Christ’s Body. Wholeness involves integration in local communities of faith, in light of, not in spite of, our historic weaknesses. We may have to persevere in order to love ‘Mother Church’ but those who do discover a host of benefits essential for relational integrity. Serving her is how God takes our battle for chastity and releases others unto love’s labor and freedom. We are the Bride who is making herself ready! Jesus gives us His heart for her.
Chapter 20: Hope and Wholeness
Hope that is realized ceases to be hope. Such is the nature of our journey to relational integrity: we are never finished this side of heaven. We hope in Him en route to mature self-giving. We aspire to greatness but are continuously humbled by our unfinished business. Employing the acronym HOPE, we can venture home with Holy honesty, Obedience, Patient perseverance and Expectancy. We trust in His faithfulness and laugh at our foolishness. Love wins.