Category: Mercy and Healing

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Life in the Blood

As the DSM staff gathered throughout Easter to pray for the coming (more Lord!) of the Holy Spirit, we entered Jesus’ merciful heart. Pandemic noise invited us to flee into the folds of His compassion. His wound is love, bleeding yet unimpaired, fiercely beating as to send oxygen-rich Blood throughout His Body so that all might live.

As His Blood enriched ours, we discovered impaired passageways—some blocked—in ourselves and in our ministry. How can we best become merciful members whose very presence permeates what is dying and revives it? Simple: we repent! We allow Him to diagnose hardening arteries; we then welcome His cleansing afresh.

Easy for Him—it’s the purpose of His heart and nature of His Blood—to course through surrendered vessels. Fresh, oxygenated mercy cleanses and revitalizes the heartsick. Now we can hear His command to all the faithful: ‘Summon life from the dead!’

That is good news. Our very lives are merciful, saving agents of His Blood that can well up and heal the most disordered. Of course we can! We are His! And He is Jesus! He lives as the very center of our lives and sends His merciful flood to us and through us with each beat of His heart.

Pentecostal power means that we live to revive the dying. We resound with an invitation for all to welcome His mercy where they are sick. Surrounded by the saints, we help each other refuse silent killers in His merciful, Almighty Name. More than that, we rejoice together in the wholeness we find only in championing others’ dignity over any lustful reduction.

I love my comrades who have come out of life-defying identities—deep divides of soul from which disordered passions emerge—passions that the world applauds and seeks to ignite. We know better! And we live better because One greater lives in us who implores others through us to turn from falsehood and live.

As I write, I see faces of friends throughout the world who infuse churches with their witness of Blood: the life that emanates from Jesus’ Almighty mercy. Life in the Blood now drives and defines previously wounded lives. Their communities are better–cleaner, truer, more merciful—because of them. Deadened tissue from unconfessed sin—from all religious game-playing—is exposed and surrounded by the mercy that wells up from them. Pure, saving joy! Nothing better! We are agents of His Blood whose witness awakens the Bride.

Pentecost has just begun. June is upon us, LGBT+ month. We will be subject to a host of false witnesses. Pray constantly for Jesus’ mercy to rest upon those who don’t know better. Mercy speaks a better word. Jesus’ Blood speaks a better word (Heb. 12: 24). May we who live in the Blood well up and summon life from the dead.

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Jesus Our Peace

‘Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled or afraid’ (Jn 14:27).

Not as easy as it sounds. Sure, I’m praying-nothing but time to pray, lingering longer before Him. Hungry yes, still no Eucharist, but the Real Presence of Jesus in His Spirit meets me. At times, my whole being resounds with something like peace.

Until. I surprise myself. Just when I thought I could ‘walk in the Spirit and not fulfill my lusts’ (Gal. 5:16) … Bam. My doctor’s appointment was supposed to be quick and easy. But the line outside for temp-taking and masking was long; when the receptionist reprimanded me in a shrill voice-with a grotesque passport smile-‘Get back sir, you are way too close!’-I saw myself lunge at her and successfully rip the façade off her ‘pleasant’ face.

‘The peace He left’ left. As I paced the waiting area (no room at that inn–most seats were blocked for distancing purposes), I felt good shame and mused on what lurks beneath most of our prayerful efforts. His peace still surpasses understanding but so does the unrest that seeps into our core and rattles us.

I asked for mercy. I prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet. It reminds me that Jesus’ mercy suffices and extends way beyond me to meet those most in need of it. ‘O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, empty Yourself out upon us and envelope the whole world…’

I aim His mercy at the world’s front-liners, persons isolated and without familiar consolation in their distress. Like you, I’ve a dozen friends and relatives who suffer alone. And I pray for courageous medics who are the last ones to hold a fearful hand, losing its grip.

That’s the real deal-the crux of this pandemic-good people losing breath and the hospital heroes who accompany them as we look on helplessly through various screens.

We cannot pass through the walls of this pandemic. But Divine Mercy and Peace can. I chuckle at my mixtures then pray for that River to flow to the most courageous, and vulnerable, in this fight.

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Grounded 9

‘The dignity of every woman is the responsibility of every man.’
St. John Paul 11, Theology of the Body

The test of my love lies in marriage; it is revealed in the eyes and heart of a person, a woman, my bride.

I will not be judged on my ministry gifts; these I exercise freely and receive some reward from others who value a snapshot, a post card, an edited glimpse of me.

Annette witnesses the whole broken image, or rather a series of images—the unrated miniseries without end. God keep her.

Marriage casts a searchlight that reveals the delightful, dirty dance—how we bless and bedevil each other with our love, or lack thereof—the hopes and fears of all these years, 39 and counting for this marriage. Sure, there are gaps, every marriage has them, but also treasures hidden from others that confirm two persons’ best selves and establish home on earth.

I love what for me is the apex of Theology of the Body: John Paul exhorts marrieds to not reduce sexuality to orgasm but rather to recognize and savor the extraordinary sexual essence of her womanhood, his manhood—the person behind the passion. A whole-enough marriage summons that essence and gifts each party with the other.

The other day, after two virus-inspired travel-free months, enjoying very much the rhythm of Annette and my uninterrupted life together, I noticed something: Annette’s peace. She looked lovely, at ease, a little playful. She was grounded because her husband was. I fell in love again.

Truth is, we married, committed to a long stint in grad school and baby-making, then I took off on a runway and never looked back. (I’ve accrued nearly 3 million miles with one airline.) Racing around the world may be good for the Kingdom but hell on a marriage. Annette learned how to partner with me from a distance. Costly. Our syncopated rhythm has not served her well. Her reward is heavenly, mine purgatorial. Who said life was fair? Mercy trumps justice!

Normal anxieties aside, she is more beautiful when her man is around. You could say the pandemic invited Annette to breathe. I savor the gift.

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Grounded 8

One strange (if inconsequential) impact of Covid-19 are ‘virtual’ running races. We who have preregistered for, say, half-marathons, are now instructed that the race will be 5000 (or so) solo ones—take to the hills of your choice, pound 13.1 miles yourself, send in your time, and receive a gaudy medallion in a private ceremony of your own design.

Pretty lame for an $80 investment—solos runs are what socially disinclined runners do all the time. After winter’s gloom, Midwest racers want to inhale Spring with others: first, the corporate anxiety of sizing up your competition then boom, out of the blocks, alternately goaded and annoyed by the guy or girl next to us who seem to have the edge, mile after mile. Finally, the last half-mile or so when you draw from untapped sources and lunge to a strong finish.

I love it! It keeps me sharp and in shape, a little defiant of age, still ‘enlarging the place of my tent, not holding back!’ (Is. 54:2) or in St. Paul’s words, ‘I press on to take hold of that for which Jesus took hold of me’ (Phil. 1:12). Running races compels me to reach for more. For the last decade of so, I have slowed only a little, and on occasion have surprised myself with better times.

But this 62-year-old mortal is feeling his limits. Last year I suffered a couple injuries while training with my junior partner in chaste crime-capers, Marco Casanova. New to competing, he ran through his limits and aced his first half-marathon in October. Since then, we’ve trained on long runs together, and, I say with feigned humility, he began to surpass me. Ouch. Experiencing him pace then disgrace me by jutting out til he ascended the hill and disappeared… well, I felt 62.

Why then did I ask Marco to do that blasted virtual run, my first? Cause I wanted the goad and I wanted to see God bless the guy as his gift accelerated and he celebrated the grace of running. As expected, we ran shoulder-to-shoulder for the first half, then Marco broke away. I strove to hold my own, and he found the groove right for him. In a flash I reckoned that others stronger and younger than me must share in this race and surpass me. How else will a generation be rescued from the stink of sexual sin? How else will She be made chaste, ready for Her soon-coming-King?

‘Forgetting what is behind, straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…’ (Phil. 3:14)

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Sy

My friend and colleague Sy Rogers died a couple days ago of cancer. Loved him.

Sy, Alan Medinger, and me stormed Exodus at the same time in the early eighties, each of us supporting one another as officers of a vibrant, God-breathed movement.

A former transgender-identified, Sy was unique among us. He surpassed us in his courage and good humor about the harassment he experienced pre and post Christian commitment.

Heckled as effeminate by some jerk at the airport, Sy took special umbrage as he was with wife Karen. He took off after the bully, ready to pounce, shouting: ‘It beats high heels and make-up, buster!’

I loved how Sy had his pulse on popular culture and could couch the profane within the sacred. A highlight of each Exodus conference was Sy’s ‘weather’ report where he would summarize ebbs and flows in the ex-gay movement using the tools of a TV meteorologist. Superb.

He was a personality; he gifted the global church with holy panache. Every community that welcomed him encountered a powerful infusion of mercy and truth, nothing less than the power of the Gospel to transform lives. No-one was exempt from the gift and challenge of God’s-Kingdom-Come in Sy. Crazy funny too.

Last time I saw Sy was in Orlando, maybe 17-years-ago. I was with my youngest son Sam who had yet to meet someone as clever and kind. To this day Sam imitates how Sy would stick his clenched knuckle in his mouth and wince in feigned horror. We delighted in him as did thousands around the world.

Good man gone. Sad today.

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