Tag Archives: Blood

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.

Before the Flood, Gratefully

One habit to which I attribute any good that comes from me is abiding before the Crucified. Each morning I awake to a Franciscan cross from which the flood of God’s mercy–blood, water and Spirit—flows graciously into an otherwise dry and stingy vessel. I remind myself that ‘without Him I can do nothing’ (JN 14:4). True that–don’t even try. Almighty God became a humble gift so I could be a good gift to others…nothing better. I then savor His gift to me in the Eucharist.

It’s not because I am dutiful that I pray and partake of daily mass; it’s because I am desperate. People like me who almost died due to bad habits and who can still hear sin’s drumbeat on the door need the daily gift of God in Christ. He is so willing, so kind; Jesus delights in availing Himself yet again to the hungry who want to feed others but who know that divine bread must be acquired daily.

So here’s to good habits that bring His presence near. He loves to come because He loves it when my wife gets a husband composed by divine love. I can help secure her in love when I am not obsessed with other hungers. Before the flood, I am well-fed and watered, gratefully.

My four kids, three daughters-in-law, and one grandchild on the way (yeah, it’s true) need no primary parenting but they still need us. And that’s the rub. We may have concerns but need to pray more than say and do stuff that might encroach on the ground God has given them. So we live before the flood, trusting God with our desires for their good lives. We delight in giving ourselves to these charter members of our home church. Nothing better, thank You God.

And the Desert Stream staff–Annette and I have the privilege of serving daily alongside a committed group of wounded healers who share our ‘love of the flood’ but who possess backgrounds and brokenness different enough from ours to keep us before the flood. We unite in the belief that our weaknesses are the threshold for God’s almighty mercy in the workplace. So we show up with hungry hearts and open hands and ask for the waters to rise among us. We live before the flood, gratefully.

God can withhold the waters whenever He wants. That’s the truth. When He deems our non-profit org. unprofitable, DSM is done. In the meantime, we ask for the waters to rise and to water many. We live before the flood, gratefully.

Clear Direction for a Vulnerable Generation

My friend and Lutheran Pastor Ole recently commented on Denmark’s (his nation) passage of ‘gay marriage’ last week, which now makes it mandatory for all churches to conduct such ‘marriages.’

I grieve for the church. I grieve that the church offends God by misusing His Name. Mostly I grieve for the young homosexual Christian who no longer has any clear direction and truth to follow. I grieve with everything within me.

Ole was among the first international interns we had at Desert Stream in the early nineties. A same-sex struggler, he fought hard for his healing. Now alongside his wife and many children, Ole fights for the freedom of same-sex strugglers throughout Denmark. His light shines brighter than ever.

As the state and state church bend the knee to distorted ideas about homosexuality and marriage, Ole is committed to reflecting Jesus’ light. He knows he must. How else will a generation know the truth that can set them free from gender disintegration?

Ole reminds me of why we keep on insisting that Jesus sets men and women free from the domination of same-sex attraction and frees them to resume the journey to whole heterosexuality.

Why? Young people with same-sex attraction grow up in a culture that irrationally insists on their baptism and confirmation as citizens of a queer nation.

Who will endure the shame? Who will risk being seen as a hater or bigot by naming homosexuality for what it is: a symptom of personal brokenness that can be resolved through Christ and His healing community?

That’s why the Oles of this world shudder at ‘gay marriage’; it wholly misrepresents what homosexuality is to a vulnerable generation.

That’s why we endure the shame of once again testifying to our weakness and to our healing process.

Our stories point to the One who led us into all the truth necessary to grow beyond the ‘gay self.’

The heterosexually-immoral world cannot tell that truth; they are asleep in their compromise. Reparative therapists aside, the clinical community sleeps with gay activists and have lost objectivity. Even the church is no longer sure if her Savior’s blood can transform the same-sex struggler. She is the worst offender; she sleeps in the light.

Like Ole, we grieve when we witness the devolution of our fellow humanity. We grieve especially for the young ones left ‘shepherdless’ by the blind guides of today. But we grieve unto hope, the light of Christ, and pray that we might reflect Him more brightly to the world and worldly church.

If we don’t, who will?

Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. (Eph. 5: 14)

But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more.My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long.I will proclaim Your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord…Since my youth, O God, You have taught me,and to this day I declare Your marvelous deeds.Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, until I declare Your power to the next generation, Your might to all who are to come. (PS 71: 15-18)

At Peace In War

As ‘gay pride month’, June always provokes a kind of dread in me. This month started out with a bang—a federal appeals court struck down the existing federal law defining marriage solely between a man and woman. Gay pride will swagger throughout the month, amplified by fawning journalists.

Many see the end in sight: finally, our nation is recognizing that homosexuality is a moral good—utterly normal, utterly on par with heterosexuality as solid ground for marriage and family.

Utter nonsense. While praying the other day, God showed me a picture of an oil spill that was spreading out and encasing vulnerable, beautiful creatures. At first the oil had little effect on them. Then it constricted movement, and finally their breathing. I saw a powerful balm being applied to the dying; it alone had power to dissolve the sludge and to restore life. I knew right away it was the blood of the Lamb, the only hope for those encased by ‘gay pride.’

I dread ‘gay pride month’ because it celebrates the slow death of beautiful, vulnerable men and women who believe the lie that homosexuality is their destiny. Unless they repent and receive the blood, they will perish.

31-years-ago this month, my bride and I sped away from our honeymoon suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles. Our exit was blocked on every side by a massive ‘gay pride parade.’ The dreamy nuptials collided with a gender nightmare. We made it out fine, grateful for the blood that redeemed us and made us one.

Last Sunday (June 3rd), our second son Nick was ordained as an Anglican priest. The presiding bishop was an old friend—Dr. Todd Hunter, who decades ago led the Vineyard movement in the USA when Annette and I began to train Vineyard churches to heal their sexually broken.

Nick and Todd are both amazing expressions to us of God’s faithful love—the grace He still extends to us though our beloved Vineyard roots, but most importantly, the faithful love that redeems lives from the pit (Nick had his own sludge to reckon with) and sets their feet upon a rock. Our joy was full as we celebrated this public recognition of God’s favor upon Nick.

Todd commissioned Nick by reminding him how rest and peace are the earmarks of solid Christian leadership. “In repentance and rest will be your salvation; in quietness and trust will be your strength.” (Is. 30:15) In spite of the battle waging outside the church walls, God’s Spirit fell peacefully upon all of us. We sang His praise whole-heartedly.

June is ‘gay pride month’ but it is also the month of my marriage and son’s ordination. This is the day that God has made and has redeemed. I will go forth aware of the sludge but more deeply aware of the power of the blood. I will fight this month in peace.

‘I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet upon a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.’ (PS 40: 1-3)

Intimate Authority: Holy Week Meditations, 6

This is the sixth post of my Holy Week Meditations for 2012. Please click here for the archive list of posts as they become available.

Intimate Authority: Holy Week Meditations, 6

Mary Magdalene wept and lingered at the Cross. The Man who had become her life died. His death rocked the earth, split the temple, and broke her heart. The tears of repentance and gratitude with which she had washed His feet became a flood of grief. She watered His nail-split feet. Apart from Him, she could do nothing. She had nothing; His life was hers. She filled the void with tears.

He had founded a new life in her. Now grief grounded her, kept her near Him. When Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus transferred Jesus’ body to a tomb, she followed Him there. Did the myrrh and aloes with which they embalmed Him remind her of the perfume with which she had so boldly baptized Him unto His death a few days earlier?

Lingering gives one time to remember, to allow the life that has passed to speak once more. Perhaps Mary recalled His words:

‘I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. A woman giving birth has pain, but when the baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a baby has been born into the world. Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again…’ (Jn 16: 20-22)

She wept and lingered at the empty tomb. She remembered. Deeper than her grief was her trust in the One who promised to return. How? When? Who can know? Grief kept her from racing away, from returning to the old life, from despair. Grief grounded her and freed her to linger. The Spirit broods over those who wait and remember and weep. Sometimes hope can be conceived only in broken, still ground.

‘Even in darkness, light shines for the upright.’ (PS 112:4)

Perhaps Mary recalled these words:

‘I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word, I put my hope. More than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchman wait for the morning.’ (PS 130: 5, 6)

‘Who have I but You? Earth has nothing I desire but You. My flesh and heart may fail, but You are the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.’ (PS 73: 25, 26)

The other disciples went home, confused, disoriented, worn out. Mary Magdalene waited. She lingered and wept at the tomb for hours, hours became a day then another. She was poured out, like when she first washed His feet with her tears, or when He cleansed her with a mighty deliverance, or when she broke open the perfume on His head. She remembered Him being poured out on the Cross, the flood of blood and water. He gave everything to her. She remembered.

She was His—where else would she go? She waited alone at the empty tomb, an empty vessel whose hope lay only in a few words. But those words were His. She recounted them and they sustained her. Trust sweetened her grief. She waited.

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