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divinemercy-revised

Human Beauty, Divine Mercy

St. John Paul ll said that we discover our true selves only by sincerely giving ourselves to others. We the fallen know also that we can offer ourselves badly; we grasp, we grope, we withhold. To bridge the gap between the original beauty of God’s purposes for our sexuality and the brokenness we behold today, we need divine mercy.

How blessed am I to have served the saints in both Lithuania and Poland, two lands which have ‘housed’ and honored St. John Paul ll and St. Faustina Kowalska, who 80 years ago received from the Spirit the image of Jesus releasing blood and water for us as the sign and seal of God’s all-surpassing mercy.

I was honored to join with Vilma and her group of amazing Living Waters leaders in Lithuania; we started our time there in Vilnius, home of the Chapel of Divine Mercy which houses the painting of the original image St. Faustina received from God. While we prayed, I ‘sensed’ that the water levels of God’s mercy were rising from the small chapel (in the spirit of Ezekiel 47) and beginning to flow onto the main street then throughout Lithuania.

My hunch proved correct as we gathered with remarkable ‘lay’ healers, bishops, and priests and asked Jesus to pour out His Spirit on the work of Living Waters there. I have not experienced that kind of ‘flow’ before; God strengthened me to prophesy continuously over restored ones who now offer their lives to heal the broken. Such humble beauty! Lithuania elevated my vision of the Church working in harmony to release her deep wells of mercy for afflicted ones.

The respect of St. John Paul ll resounds throughout Poland; how blessed I was to testify with the Living Waters teams there of the integration between the human body and Spirit that the pope emeritus describes beautifully in his ‘Theology of the Body.’ After I testified in Warsaw of how Jesus (through His merciful members) helped me to emerge from the disintegrating impact of homosexual lust, I discovered that St. Faustina’s niece was in the audience, rejoicing in God’s ‘living water’ for the sexually broken.

In Cracow I was honored to address a room full of priests-to-be at the seminary where St. John Paul taught (as Bishop Karl Wotyla). I had a strong sense that these men needed to be lovingly challenged to grow in their own sexual integration. They had great intellectual questions but I felt that unless they could articulate their own experience of God’s mercy as a key to chastity (a catholic word for sexual and relational wholeness), they would miss out on reaching a generation who insist on flesh-and-blood witnesses of the better way Jesus opens for us.

How privileged am I to walk in the footsteps of Jesus’ friends. I cannot recall a more demanding itinerary and the mercy that enabled me to trust Jesus every step of the way. He gives us back our beauty as we surrender to His mercy.

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Fruitful and Faithful in London

Like Jacob, Janet wrestled with God and won. She described to me the battle she faced years earlier between the pull of the ‘gay self’ and her Christian commitment; at a Living Waters conference in London, 1994, she chose Jesus and never looked back. Now preaching in her central London church, I beheld her and several others whom God had plucked from the fire and granted a stake in His passion.

Humbled and grateful, ‘ex-gay’ Jim described the five children born since I last saw him. ‘God was faithful to me…He has helped me be faithful to my family.’

Jesus said simply that He came to give abundant Life to all who trust wholly in Him. Whether single like Janet or ‘father’ Jim, He makes us fruitful. Contrast that to the demonic claims of Obama and now the powers-that-be in Britain who claim that anyone who seeks to replace the ‘gay self’ with an authentically Christian one will die, consigned to a ‘death watch’ of suicidal tendencies and a fractured, fruitless existence.

Quoting Obama, and leafleting outside the church where I was preaching, two ‘gay Christian’ men who had become lovers warned all congregants that any kind of change promised by me or any Christian was ‘unethical’, would result in ‘tragedy,’ ‘psychological damage,’ and even ‘the destruction of churches’ due to pastors who seek in vain to leave behind their homosexuality.

Wow. I marvel at the enemy’s work in our nation and abroad who has taken the clear biblical call to pick up one’s cross and follow Jesus as the way of death, not the narrow road that leads to Life. In England, as in the USA, ‘gay Christians’, as well as an assortment of counseling associations, are claiming ‘once gay always gay’ and persecuting churches that think otherwise.

Thank God for Core Issues Trust, an organization which stands for freedom of choice through the Cross of Jesus Christ and sound clinical care for persons who seek transformation of same-sex attraction in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. We gathered in the shadow of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, Christians of all stripes and vocations to explore the theological, clinical and spiritual ways forward for brave souls who today risk the worst kind of judgments for daring to repent of homosexuality.

During the conference, my friend Robert Gagnon and I had the privilege of proclaiming Jesus’ freedom for persons who seek His way amid same-sex attraction. Having caught wind of our ‘scandalous’ claims, the BBC and other news outlets gave us prime time to announce His good news from coast of coast. Jesus turned around His enemy’s efforts to undermine Hope by amplifying His hope throughout the UK.

Together with all the saints we rejoiced and re-clarified our commitment to how Jesus has been to keep us faithful to Himself and to a younger generation who will perish without our witness of grace and truth. We exercised our rightful authority to silence the enemy of our souls. He changed our mourning into dancing, our fretful silence into shouts of joy: Life prevails over death and makes us truly fruitful.

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Reducing Human Freedom: Obama’s Condemnation of Reparative Therapy

Under the guise of liberating young people, President Obama reduced their freedom by condemning all therapeutic efforts to alter one’s sexual identity. His administration went on record Wednesday night to ensure that all gay people in the USA have no clinical option but to embrace their homosexuality.

Besides the presumption of a non-clinician making a blanket clinical judgment for our nation, he is ill-informed. He draws upon no hard evidence but rather the agenda of activists who for years now have fired relentlessly at well-trained therapists who give their clients the freedom to resolve their gender identity issues through the therapeutic process. Period.

These are wise men and women (from whom I have personally benefitted) who work only with the consent of persons to pursue the client’s goals, not the therapist’s. Obama knows nothing about this. If he did, he could not, in good conscience, caricature reparative therapy as ‘dangerous and discredited’, the scourge of ‘countless young people’ who have been driven to suicide by caring professionals.

That is an unfounded charge that any reasonable person must decry as propaganda. It represents a closed door for persons who believe that their same-sex attraction or any kind of gender dissonance is a problem that they want to solve. We must oppose any psychological determinism that declares persons are unalterably gay/transgender/bisexual, without the hope of choice. It is a closed universe, now presided over by the likes of Obama, under the pretense of human dignity and freedom.

Perhaps Obama thinks he is opening up the future for a gender-confused generation. He is actually closing it. In refusing to consider valid options for persons who seek clinical assistance to change their sexual identity, he reduces human freedom, the very freedom he seeks to defend by condemning reparative therapy.

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Love’s True Freedom

‘Jesus’ crucified flesh reveals the bond between truth and freedom, just as His resurrection exalts the fruitfulness of a freedom lived out in truth.’ St. John Paul ll

We live in a noisy, confusing world of sexual ‘freedom.’ From Hillary Clinton lamenting Indiana’s religious freedom bill on the grounds that it fetters ‘gay love’ to the Supreme Court insisting that feds cover a prisoner’s gender reassignment costs, we are now subject to a new vision of human freedom that excludes any hint of God. Might the Creator and Redeemer of our humanity know something about true freedom?

No stranger to sexual indignities, Mary Magdalene discovered freedom at the Source. Jesus gave Himself to a woman traditionally believed to be driven by disordered desires and demonized by a culture intent on exploiting such women. Unafraid of her impurity, Jesus offered Mary almighty mercy. He became her refuge and gave her a place alongside of Him. Jesus’ powerful Presence in her life delivered Mary from seven demons (LK 8: 2). ‘He did not hand her over to the enemy but set her feet in a spacious place’ (PS 31:8).

Divine love broke the low ceiling over Mary’s life and gave her inspired options. Love alone restored Mary’s human freedom. In love Jesus created her; in love He reclaimed her dignity. She was tempted otherwise, perhaps not unlike a woman today so wearied by broken men that she opens to the affections of another woman or eschews her womanhood altogether.

Jesus rescued her from any number of futile solutions. That’s what real love does: it shames the strong who currently champion any number of civil liberties as the best option for the sexually broken. Will Christians do better than legally securing others in a futile, disordered destiny? We need to impart a quality of love to disordered ones that corresponds to the real ache, the true aspirations of our ailing humanity.

Mary chose the dignity of love that Jesus alone offers. Love became her freedom. And she gave herself freely to His purposes. Do you marvel that Jesus chose her–a formerly demonized, scorned woman–from among all the disciples to deliver the message of resurrection? The freedom of her new life became the glorious vehicle through which all of humanity can say: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ (JN 20:18)

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Ache, Eat

“Jesus said to His disciples, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer…I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in God’s Kingdom.’ “
(LK 22: 15, 16)

Jesus ‘eagerly desired’ to dine with His friends; those two words convey Jesus’ ardor, His passion for fellowship. Simply put, He longs for communion with us.

The word Luke used for desire is ‘epithumias’ (Gr.), the same word used by James to describe desire that becomes lustful when we attach to false objects of devotion (James 1: 14, 15).

Desire rises and falls on its object. When we lovingly trust Jesus enough to surrender our desires to Him, we can be assured that He will cleanse and fortify the mixed bag we bring to Him: all out of love for us!

I did not overcome lust by suppressing the mixture in me. Rather, I took Jesus’ passion for me seriously and opened my heart to Him. What’s there to hide, anyway? We can know like David that ‘all our longings lay open before God’ (PS 38:9); that truth invites us to commune tenderly with the One who longs for us.

Perhaps after reflecting on 7 deadly sins that afflict each of us, we may be less inclined to focus on sinners out there and to linger before Him for our sakes. We need Him! And He is adept at pruning what is proud and smug and grafting in what will bear fruit forever. Like St. Peter, we may squirm when He bows to wash our feet but it is the only way we can walk where He is going (JN 13: 8).

Being broken by our sin also frees us to gather as Christians. I much prefer a small group of sinners than a band of preening saints. Leading out with smelly feet, not our resumes, invites real community. His healing requires that we linger there. Just as the disciples reclined with Jesus at the Passover meal, with St John leaning on His chest (JN 13:23-25), I want to linger with my fellows, becoming His body broken and His blood shed, one for the other.

If we lived the truth that Jesus’ towel and table–His passion for us—is far more satisfying than other loves, we would not be in the mess we are in today. Our imaginations are so perverse that we cannot imagine St. John resting on Jesus’ frame without suspecting his sexuality. Ah well. We are a mess. Let us race to the table and towel of Jesus this Maundy Thursday, and welcome His passion for us.

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