Tag Archives: Addiction

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
Power of Crushed Seed

Power of the Crushed Seed

‘Unless a grain of wheat dies it remains alone. If it dies, it produces much fruit.’

I met Benjie Cruz in Bangkok Thailand, 2000, at our first conference there. He was Filipino, unstable in all his ways, and desired Jesus more than any of his false attachments, including homosexual addiction. My colleague Kin, under power of the Spirit, prophesied that Benjie would lead Filipinos like himself to the cross. I thought Kin was under the power of another spirit.

Next year, we did our first conference in the Philippines where Benjie served our team. First point of team business was confessing our sin. Though there only to transport us, Benjie exposed a spectacular array of sin with trembling and tears. Like most Asians, he suffered much shame for showing his dirty feet to the ‘big’ international leaders. But unlike most Asians, Benjie did it anyway for the joy set before Him. He wanted Jesus’ honor more than the praise of men. He was willing to be crushed for His Kingdom. I began to realize that Kin (and Jesus) were right.

The Philippines is unlike any other nation in Asia: it is the only one where Catholicism took root 400 years ago and where evangelicalism (in its diverse forms) took root under American occupation in the 20th century. In short, Filipinos tend to be open to Christian spirituality. What they are not open to is revealing criminally high rates of childhood sexual abuse that undergirds a host of adult sexual immoralities.

Benjie broke the shame barrier, over and over again, before counselors, pastors, and lay support groups. He did a yearlong internship with us at DSM. He began to integrate as a man. I came to Manila in 2005 to marry him and his beautiful bride Hasel; we have partnered ever since in Living Waters ministry through which he (and team) have built a national network of canals flowing from the cross.

Last week I led a retreat for his leaders where I discovered that after 15 years of ministry, Benjie and crew are partnering with the biggest Catholic community in the Philippines, the largest evangelical church in Manila with branches throughout the world, and with the most influential Protestant graduate school in the country. He is impacting his nation with Jesus’ power to make chaste the broken and unclean. First one must die. Benjie did, and now he is no longer alone. He is fruitful, ‘a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.’

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October 26: Faithful Lovers

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matt. 22:37, 39)

Cultivating undivided devotion to God underlies faithful human relationships. Any adulterer knows this. Those persons whom God has graced with the courage to face the devastation of breaking both marital vows and the heart of one’s spouse become reduced to divine love. Both victim and perpetrator know that the only hope for authentic restoration lies in God.

Repentance is not turning to a set of rules—most know which ones they have already broken. We turn to a relationship—the Relationship—the only One we can trust. Real moral healing must involve the readiness to rely on God alone. He awaits our desperation: ‘Living Water’ only saturates dry broken ground. God bears with us until we recognize the futility of false lovers, coupled with the devastation wrought by our wanderings.

God waits. The marvel of Divine Mercy is this: He who deserves our undivided love simply because He is God will employ our adulterous hearts to bring us back to Himself, back to Love. Misbegotten relationships will always fail us. In His exquisite accommodation to our foolishness, God uses moral failure to anchor us in His unfailing love. Then we can begin the slow and splendid task of learning how to love others faithfully. Founded on Him, fearful of unholy fire, we can become faithful lovers.

Seeking to give God complete devotion is the basis our marriage. Annette and I had no illusions about the native quality of our self-giving. My homosexually addictive background, coupled with her sexual abuse and resulting defenses became our broken ground for drinking in rain from heaven. What else could we do but love Him in return, worshipping Him in gratitude with all our heart, mind and soul? He gave us love with which to care deeply for one another. We sealed that love with our bodies, a vow we have not broken in 33 years. The faithful love of God makes us faithful.

‘As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.’ (Isa. 62:5)

Please join us as we pray:

1. Appalachian Region, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Dean Greer -Coordinator: For new regional leadership to be identified and raised-up, for existing groups and to see new groups established.

2. Aguas Vivas: Santiago, Chile, Ruth & Ignacio – Coordinators: Thanksgiving for their participation in the Aguas Vivas Training in July; for guidance and provision in order to run an Aguas Vivas group.

3. RHN: New Pathways, Elton Moose, Springfield, OH: Financial needs and new board members. Prodigal Ministries, Jerry Armelli, Cincinnati, OH: For the fulfillment of the Lord’s purposes for the ministry.

“Courage for Pastor Phil Strout (National Director of Vineyard USA), that he would ensure that the Church becomes a clear fountain of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction!”

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BLOGS & PRAYER POINTS FOR OCTOBER 23, 24, 25, 26

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Downward Ascent 5: Heart of God

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.’ (Matt. 5:7)

Mercy is the heart of God. Fittingly, mercy is the core theme of the Beatitudes: the poor, the mournful, the meek and hungry welcome mercy like rain on broken dry ground. Jesus then exhorts such receivers to extend that unfailing love to those who fail them.

No easy thing. To look with pity on the poor ‘out there’ and to give something of God’s generosity is one thing; to release captives who have captivated you with merciless acts is quite another. Several past Lenten seasons have been defined by facing some pretty hard hits I had taken from loved ones, especially family members and close ministry colleagues. Those nearest to us do the greatest damage, arouse the strongest self-justifications, and require the most mercy in order for all to heal.

Lent exposes the merciless heart of the ‘good guys.’ It challenges our good habits and fairly intact virtues. Forty days before the Crucified helps us to see how wounded we are and in turn, how hard our hearts have become toward those who betrayed us.

My hatred for a loved one’s addiction devolved into hating him and refusing to see him as an object of mercy. To release him seemed unwise, a set up for another round of secrets and lies. Yet setting boundaries and obeying this Beatitude are not mutually exclusive. It may be unwise to share your funds or bed or even close proximity to a divided soul. Extending mercy is a divine mandate.

How can I not forgive another and yet claim to be named by the God who forgave me over and over for gross acts of sexual immorality with no guarantee that this confession would be the last? To bear the name of our God means that we act as He does—mercifully. Jesus said it simply, and best. ‘Be merciful as Your Father is merciful.’ (LK 6:36)

This Lent take time to reflect on how merciful He has been to you. Consider your failures and how both a merciful God and His children forgave you. Consider also those whom you have written off, judged as unworthy of your mercy. Ask yourself: why is your mercy different from His? Spend time before the Crucified and ask for the mercy to close the gap. Be merciful. Be like your Father.

‘Anyone who lives beneath the Cross of Christ and who has discerned in his own heart the wickedness of all men, including himself, will find there is no sin that can ever be alien to him.’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

PRAYER for Monday, March 24th: ‘Father, remind me of the specific ways You have been merciful to me.’

PRAYER for Tuesday, March 25th: Meditate on these words of St. Faustina. ‘The knowledge of my own misery allows me to know the immensity of Your mercy.’
Is that true for you? How has the misery of your own sin become the broken ground for His immense mercy? ‘Father, remind me of how Your mercy alone restored me from sin’s misery.’

PRAYER for Wednesday, March 26th: ‘Father, show me the misery that other persons’ sins has visited upon me. Why do I struggle to face these sins? Brood over my wounded heart and show me the immensity of Your mercy there.’

PRAYER for Thursday, March 27th: ‘Father, as I am Your child, made in Your image and likeness, I choose to release this one for forcing me into sin’s misery. You have been merciful to me; I extend that mercy to this one.‘

PRAYER for Friday, March 28th: ‘Father, show me the wise boundaries that will enable me to love this person without being entrapped in the snare of his/her sin. May I see this as both a loving act toward myself and a further help for him/her in making a thorough repentance.’

PRAYER for Saturday, March 29th: ‘Father, help me to see all persons as You do, sons and daughters made in Your image. Help me to see beyond my own concerns to behold a harassed people and in need of You, our merciful Father.’

PRAYER for Sunday, March 30th: ‘Father, make this church a home for sinners. May You the Merciful Shepherd use all of us as little shepherds to bring sinners home to You. Draw them with Your mercy God, mercy alone. Make me an arm of Your wooing love. In particular, I cry out for these wayward ones: ___________ ’

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Provoked

Provoked One Way Image by Matt Peoples‘You need an ideal, something that will draw you out of yourself and raise you to greater heights. But you see, there is only One; it is He, the Only Truth! …Under His gaze the horizon becomes so beautiful, so vast, and so luminous!’

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Announcing my ‘gay self’ to my mother provoked her. It drew tears, and a halting invitation for me to consider whether or not there might be more for me beyond homosexuality.

After that, my declaration provoked my mother to prayer. She knew that only God could bring me home to Himself. She talked more to Him than to me. Her tears and the sacred space she created in prayer gave me pause: ‘If I am free to be gay, then why do I feel so empty?’

Every human being is inviolable, meaning that each possesses an inner sanctum that should be treated with dignity. My mother could never know the depths of my motives and thoughts; only God could. Knowing these limits, she submitted her agenda and her anxieties to Him. She fought for my freedom on her knees, imploring the only One who could set me free.

Years later, I did the same for my son. His addictions had rendered him destitute and my eyes could see his homelessness—spiritually, emotionally, a vehicle with neither a goal nor a guide. I knew that I could not rescue him but I possessed a burning desire for God to do so. I raced to a local church where I began to bang on God’s door for Him, provoking Him and all the resources of Heaven to shine the light of Jesus’ face upon him. The Spirit provoked me and ignited my prayers.

Two passages in Luke helped me here: Luke 11: 5-13 and 18: 1-6. In the first, a man seeking bread for guests bangs on the door of an ornery miser at midnight and implores him boldly to share his wealth. The old crank relents, if only to get some sleep. The second passage describes a persistent widow seeking justice from an uncaring judge who resists her then finally helps her just to get rid of her. Scripture is clear: if even wicked men relent to the bold persistence of seekers, how much more will the perfect Father pour out His Spirit on those who ask Him?

Bold persistence in prayer reaches God’s heart. Yet keep this in mind: God will not force anyone to love Him! If He did, then our response to Him would not be a genuinely loving one. We are right to ask the Father to make His face shine on beloved ones; we are wrong to think our prayers can coerce another to come ‘home.’ Home is the freely given gift of God in Christ, manifest through His Church. He can only be freely received.

May the destitution of those we love provoke us to pray. May we who cry out be converted while we clear the way for loved ones to behold ‘the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.’ (2Cor 4: 5)

‘Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of His little ones should be lost.’ (Matt. 18:14)    

 

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