Category: Mercy and Healing

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Trusting in Our Fighting Father

Day 4 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘I Myself am fighting for them!’ (1516)

Two streams of mercy converge in our God: His masculine, steadfast love which keeps covenant with us (hesed), and the deeply felt and tenderly expressed love that issues from His depths, as from the womb of a mother (rachamim). Truly we have a merciful Father whose love surpasses that of the most devoted parents!

And like good parents, our Father expresses His mercy by battling for our best; He wars for our well-being. Knit in the womb of His best intentions for us, and empowered by the very force that gave form to all creation, we are the blessed subjects of the God who fights for the dignity of His children.

Moses declared to the embattled Israelites: ‘Don’t be afraid of the enemy; the Lord Your God will fight for you. He fought for you in Egypt, He fought for you in the desert. Remember how He carried you, like a father carries a child, all the way until now…’ (Deut. 1: 29-31) Here we catch a glimpse of the God, both tender and strong (PS 62: 11, 12), who carries us in one arm, and wields the sword against our enemies in the other!

Our Father is essentially ‘salient’, a psychological term referring to the parent whose care is a fusion of tenderness that earns the child’s trust, and authority that commands its respect.

Good parents are wise to aspire to such ‘salience’: Annette and I have certainly tried. I marvel at her bond with the kids; in the course of casual conversation with them, she imparts wisdom and grace to them seamlessly. My strength tends to be in seeing and reminding them of their best qualities and the goals they have established to develop those qualities. When they have stalled on the way or gotten sidetracked, I fight for them mercifully by reminding them of who they are.

And whose they are. Annette and I try hard to not contradict the essence of their fighting Father. But our efforts are only a pale and imperfect glimpse of the One who loves them wholly. In that way, we seek as parents to model authentic reliance upon Himself, in the hope that their hope may expand heaven-ward.

Stalled and stubborn children grant parents myriad chances to trust the Father who fights for them. I recall one child who got into legal trouble and was to be sentenced in court. Crowded and shoved about by a throng of anxious, harassed lawbreakers like us, my son and I lost each other in the crowd.

We sat on either ends of the courtroom. From my view, he looked like a frightened orphan. I realized then that he was an adult, and that I no longer could determine his punishment, or his liberty. He did, other forces did, God especially did. That day in court, I released him to the fighting Father. I prayed for Divine Mercy as my son walked alone to the judge for sentencing.

‘I do not understand how it is possible not to trust Him who can do all things. With Him everything; without Him, nothing. He is Lord. He will not allow those who place their trust in Him to be put to shame.’ (358)

‘Father, we trust You as the One who fights for our dignity and for the dignity of all. You meet us in the desert and carry us; You know our enemies and You battle them. Show us how You fight for us, tenderly and courageously. Train us to fight in mercy for those we love. May we not be so proud as to shame ourselves for not saving them. You alone can do this. Show us how to do our part, that all might be rescued from the grip of evil and set free unto Your best for their lives.’

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Faithful Mother for an Adulterous Generation

Day 3 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘Rejoice, for you are closer to God in His mercy than a baby to its mother’s heart.’ (423)

Our father is the perfect parent; He combines and surpasses the best virtues of both mother and father. Just as natural parents complement each other in creating children and loving them well, so does the Father’s Mercy involve two intertwining dimensions that bear fruit in us: one masculine, the other feminine.

Understanding these two expressions of Mercy can help create a more whole view of God. What results is a more whole soul in us! The fullness of Mercy facilitates our faithful response to Him, and thus our freedom to live as He intends.

John Paul ll defines ‘hesed’, or ‘steadfast love’, as the more masculine dimension of the Father’s Mercy. It is defined by dependability, stability, and a resolute commitment to keeping its promise. ‘Rachamim’, the second most common word for Mercy in the Old Testament, connotes a tender compassion that God deeply feels for His afflicted ones. It comes from the root word ‘rechem’, or ‘mother’s womb’.

God deeply feels for us in the way that a whole mother aches for the well-being of her child. The intimate communion of mother/child grants her an intuitive grasp of its needs, and suffering.

My repentance from homosexuality turned on the tears of my good mother as I boldly told her of my ‘gay self.’ Her ache expressed itself in sweet ‘rachamim’ for her afflicted son. My good wife’s aspirations and sorrows are tied to the status of our children. Their rising and falling are hers; in this, I complement her well by advocating for the Father’s ‘hesed’ as our ‘objective’ hope for their safe return.

Out of His rachamim, God moves powerfully to heal those who have suffered since infancy from a breach in mother’s love (often entirely unintentional on the mother’s part.) I will never forget the first conference we sponsored in Los Angeles with Leanne Payne. She taught movingly on how God’s ‘mother-heart’ goes forth in the power of the Holy Spirit to unite itself with the adult-‘child’ and so heals him/her.

As Leanne spoke, a woman coming out of lesbianism moved haltingly toward the podium and quietly asked Leanne to pray for her. She did. God sent forth His mighty ‘rachamim’ and performed a miracle of Divine Mercy in our midst, healing the young woman at the source of her ‘mother-hunger’.

‘The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all that He has made.’ (PS 145:8, 9)

‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; you are ever before Me.’ (IS 49: 15, 16)

‘Humble us, O God, by the tender and mighty nature of Your ‘rachamim’. You feel deeply for our needs, and ache over our afflicted state. Would You move us with the Mercy that moves Your heart? Grant us a share in Your Mercy. May our prayers for the release of Mercy promote healing action. Bring the unfaithful home! Transform them through Your (and our) faithful love.’’

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Father of Mercy for an Adulterous Generation

Day 2 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘Apart from God, there is no contentment anywhere.’ (42)

A painful fact of life for my twenty-something children is the sexually immorality that defines their generation. If not subject to parents who failed to keep their commitment to each other, they are steeped in a culture that celebrates the relentless erosion of holy boundaries. These are a people so scorched by porn they no longer feel the burn; these are ‘friends with benefits’, open to the sexual possibility in any amicable union (with either gender). This is the first generation to disavow marriage while championing the rights of gays to do so.

These are a people in need of Mercy. They need a Father who keeps His commitment of love to them even as they discover their inability to stay true to Him. ‘Steadfast love’, or ‘hesed’, is the main word used for mercy in the Old Testament. It usually applies to the Father’s covenant with Israel. There, the Father exercises His mercy by upholding HIs love and commitment to the nation that betrayed Him. Continuously.

‘Hesed’ keeps giving, reaching, and believing in the object of one’s love. In divine mercy, God vows to make a way for unfaithful ones to become faithful through the gift of His love for us.

That does not mean that ‘hesed’ is easy for the Father. For Him to so love His world only to be betrayed by that world breaks His heart! The Scripture opens us to His jealous, passionate love for the wayward nation. When Israel would pursue other gods, the Father likened them to lovers, her own heart to an adulteress’.

She broke her vows to Him, over and over, often resulting in the sexual immorality that defined the fertility cults surrounding Israel. Through the prophets, God would speak with vengeful passion toward the holy nation: ‘Rebuke her, for she is not my wife…let her remove the adulterous look on her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts…I will not show my love to her children, because they are the children of adultery. Their mother has been unfaithful…’ (Hosea 2:2, 4, 5)

Such anger would then evolve into ‘hesed’, the merciful promise that God would make a way for her to return to Him. ‘I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her…There I will make the Valley of Achor [judgment] a door of hope…in that day, you will call me ‘my husband’, not ‘my master’…I will betroth you in love and compassion (hesed); I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.’ (Hosea 2: 14, 15, 16, 19, 20)

Adultery of heart, both spiritually and sexually, breaks His heart. And from that heart flows ‘hesed’, the steadfast mercy that stands in the gap for us. It works. We have a faithful Father who makes a way for us to return to Him in spite of the adulterous flood around us and in us.

My 22-year-old son Sam, no stranger to false gods and goddesses, rejoices in being won over by ‘hesed’. ‘I don’t want to be anywhere else but in His Presence. Nothing else satisfies me like He does…’

‘They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them besides streams of water, on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim, my firstborn son.’ (Jer. 31:9)

‘Make Your steadfast love known to us, O God. Let Mercy flow from us to unfaithful ones. How can we refuse to give mercy away? Mercy liberated our faithful response to You in the first place. Your ‘hesed’ became ours.’

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The Lord is Merciful

Day 1 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘Bring your ear close to My heart, forget everything else, and meditate upon My wondrous mercy.’ (229)

God’s greatest attribute is Mercy. It is the foundation of who He is; it is the way He wants to deal with us. In truth, Mercy is the only way we can know God. Through Mercy, God realigns His troubled, off-track and much loved child with Himself. The Creator unites Himself to the creature through Mercy.

Throughout this fast, our central meditation will be upon Jesus, God’s only Son, who together with His Father gave everything to gain us. The Cross conveys Mercy more clearly than anything else.

Yet the Cross flows from the Mercy God demonstrated to us from the start.

My friend Bob Sorge writes: ‘When God appeared to Moses on Sinai and spoke His name to Moses, the first thing out of His mouth was not ‘I am holy.’ Rather He revealed Himself as ‘the Lord, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.’ (Ex. 34:6)

God is Merciful at the very foundation of His being. ‘Oh how great is the mercy of God; it surpasses all His other qualities!’ (611)

That I or anyone lives in ongoing, ever-deepening communion with the Creator and Redeemer of humanity is due to Mercy. I marvel at that fact daily. He found me! The Father, Son, and Spirit made a way for me to respond to Him. Mercy alone frees us to live out of that divine love.

Marveling on that mystery, I was confronted by a gruff (and buff) Maori man who managed a gym I was visiting in New Zealand. He challenged me with all the ‘house’ rules. Alive to Mercy, and prompted by the Spirit, I happily complied then blessed him with an invitation to God’s mercy in Christ.

He immediately confessed how far He had wandered after a youthful conversion. Divorce and sensual addictions had derailed him. I joyfully extended the promise of the Merciful One who awaits him. Hail God’s Mercy—our only hope for Love.

‘Open our hearts, O God, to the depth of Your Merciful heart toward us. May it overflow to all we meet. May it alter how we see You and all of life.’

‘Welcome sweetest Mercy, who pour Yourself out for souls. Welcome, Infinite Goodness, who pour out everywhere torrents of Your graces. Welcome, O veiled Brightness, the Light of souls. Welcome, O Fount of inexhaustible mercy, O purest Spring from which life and holiness gush forth for us. Welcome, Delight of pure souls. Welcome, only Hope of sinful souls.’ (1733)

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Join Us for “40 Days of Mercy”

‘O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus as a Fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You.’ – St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

Please join us from October 15th –Nov. 23rd for a 40-day fast centering on the power of Mercy. Drawing upon the inspiration of a young Polish nun who received a vision and much wisdom about Jesus’ heart of mercy for an unfaithful world, we shall seek Him daily as we cry out for all broken ones to welcome Him.

Together we will prayerfully represent sin-weary humanity before the Father, asking the Source of Mercy to open our hearts to His merciful cure. In particular, we will look at ‘gay marriage’—the infidelities that led to its insistence, and the indignities that issue from it. Our goal is to triumph over judgment through immersing ourselves and our fellow humanity in His mercy.

How Do I Get Involved? Every day I will post a brief devotional that will guide that day’s prayer. Some of us will gather at 3pm (cst) daily to pray if you would like agree with us then.

How Do I Fast? Fasting is about letting go of a beloved habit in order to do something out of love for God. Most cannot do a 40-day food fast. But you might want ‘to fast’ daily a meal, a little sleep, a meal, a TV show or computer time. In their place, you can pray for mercy. Even if you choose not to give up anything, you can still incorporate our prayer focus into your devotion time. Above all else, we want your prayerful agreement!

What Exactly Will We Pray For? We will pray that trust in His mercy will displace all fear, control, and judgment toward broken humanity, beginning with our own. Then we shall cry out for others, especially loved ones, who are most in need of Mercy. We shall emphasize prayer for Jesus’ beautiful yet broken Church. Rocked by scandals, mistrust, and unbelief, we need fresh immersion in Mercy in order to become all that Jesus intends.

‘At no time and in no historical period—especially at a moment as critical as our own—can the Church forget the prayer that is a cry for the Mercy of God amid the many forms of evil which weigh upon humanity and threaten it.’ John Paul ll

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