Tag Archives: Christopher West

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

October 27th: Icons

‘Adam and Eve saw the glory of God in the human body…because they saw the body not just as a physical object but as a transparent sign of the whole mystery of the other as “person” made in the divine image.’ Christopher West

Every human being is a window to the divine. Creatures testify to their Creator. I behold in my wife an embodiment of God’s glorious ‘mother heart’—soft and strong, welcoming and fruitful; in a best friend I behold God’s generative power in bodily design and psychological focus.

God is a genius, and that genius is reflected in humanity. We all believe this: we are united in our belief that God made humanity in His image (Gen. 1:26, 27). Yet we are perhaps too quick to distance ourselves from each other as to not get snagged on sin—the broken image–yours, mine and ours. But plastering over the window because of its dirt or crack seems extreme. Might we still see God through our fellows? In avoiding the potential for sin, are we avoiding God?

At Church I glimpse reminders of Jesus through His representation in the saints. I am surrounded there by blessedly imperfect bearers of the divine image. If I am looking I catch sight of God: the handsome father of two disabled kids whose main ministry is serving his family, a lovely woman who alone cares for her aging father and requests prayers for patience with a smile, the priest whose physical affliction makes it hard for him to walk but whose mind and voice is strong enough to convert a stadium full of seekers.

These ‘icons’ make God known through their bodies; I can ‘see’ through their ‘flesh’ the greater spiritual meaning they represent. I cannot divorce their bodily humanity from the Spirit that indwells them. God shines through a body.

In the theological tradition of the East, icons are holy insofar as they serve the sacramental purpose of making visible what is invisible. In other words, they are good to the degree that these created images point to the Creator. In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict: ‘Icons lead us beyond the mere material level, awaken new senses in us, and teach us a new kind of seeing, which can see the Invisible in the visible.’ May God open our eyes to human windows of the divine.

Please join us as we pray for:

1. Pennsylvania, Jeff Comeaux, Coordinator: For strength and vision for Jeff, for existing groups and to see new groups established. Also, grace for preparations for RHN conference in Lancaster, 2015.

2. Aguas Vivas: Guadalajara, Mexico, Marisol, Coordinator: For wisdom as they meet to determine and plan for the start of the next Aguas Vivas group.

3. RHN: His Wonderful Works, Dee Barnes, Conyer, GA: Grace and blessing in series of educational outreach events. Carolina New Song, Bud Phaup, Columbia, SC: Life transitions and future of ministry.

“Courage for Pope Francis, 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 27, 28, 29, 30

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October 23: Pierced for Love

‘Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.’ (Eph. 5:22)

I will admit: facing my own brokenness in the Church and offering that vulnerability to fellow congregants is not always easy. I would prefer to pose ‘resurrected’, my wounds NOT visible. But the huge Crucifix that looms large over my parish sanctuary demands otherwise. He gave all to us, and so must we, one to another. In truth, His offering–a broken body and shed blood–is the very basis for our being a people. Through the Cross, Jesus pledges Himself to us forever. That pledge liberates our freedom to love one another.

I was greatly helped by Dr. Grant Pitre’s book ‘Jesus the Bridegroom.’ In it, Pitre chronicles bridal imagery throughout Scripture, anchors it in Hebrew tradition, and emphasizes St. John’s use of Jesus the Bridegroom; the Church, His bride. Startlingly, Pitre argues that God’s spousal love for us is most pointedly revealed at Calvary. His piercing is the culmination of God’s all-consuming desire to unite Himself to us forever. On Good Friday, Jesus married us.

Stay with me. Pitre claims that ‘Jesus’ wedding day is the day of His death, the day of His Crucifixion…’ St. Paul’s reference to the Church being prepared and washed and presented to Christ (Eph. 5) is rooted in ‘the ancient Jewish bridal bath and wedding ceremony.’ That washing had everything to do with the blood and water loosed in His dying. Jesus absolute self-giving on Calvary is His bridal pledge to us, a wedding vow born ‘of a love as strong as death.’ (Song of Sol 8:6)

St. Augustine goes further; he likens Calvary to God’s spousal union with His people. ‘Like a bridegroom Christ went forth from His nuptial chamber…He came to the marriage bed of the Cross and there, ascending it, consummated a marriage…He surrendered Himself to torment for His bride in a communication of love.’ Christopher West quotes St. John Paul ll who sums it up this way: ‘The “sincere gift” contained in the Sacrifice of the Cross gives definitive prominence to the spousal meaning of God’s love.’

When we gaze at Christ Crucified, remember: God loves us deeply, passionately, like a husband who dies to show his wife how much he loves her. Only this Bridegroom lives, His sacrifice signaling the undying love to which He binds Himself to us forever. Lovestruck, might His people respond: ‘We do.’

Please join us as we pray for:

1. Upper Midwest Region, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Jean Mersberger – Coordinator: For strength and vision for Jean, for existing groups and for new groups to be established.
2. Foundazione Novae Terrae (www.novaeterrae.eu) Italy: Strength and provision to fight for ‘right to life’ measures throughout Europe.
3. Harrisburg Diocese: Discernment for timing and team of new Living Waters group.

“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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Battle for the Bride

‘Can we recognize the diabolical coup at work here? Think for a moment with the mind of the enemy. If the purpose of our creation as male and female and the call to become one flesh is to point us to heaven, and if there’s an enemy who wants to keep us from heaven, where is he going to aim his most potent arrows?’Christopher West

Nothing short of hell is breaking out. As I left for Europe to enter new church doors to proclaim Jesus’ all-sufficient love for the sexually broken, Annette and I faced unprecedented enemy attack. Our Supreme Court refused to uphold the rights of states to define marriage and 11 states entered the ‘gay marriage’ zone, a staff member fell seriously ill, a good friend accused us falsely, Annette dueled myriad domestic woes and I faced every travel obstacle imaginable.

By the time I reached Paris, I could only surrender to the One who loves me. Then I laughed at the devil. In truth, he has no power to stop God’s bride from becoming beautiful. She will emerge radiant in mercy, humble in truth. Broken by sin but not destroyed, perplexed by dark powers but not cast down, we arise: man for woman and woman for man, serving each other and declaring the One who called us out of darkness and into His glorious light.

Nothing could stop us! We gathered in a huge church in central Paris where an amazing priest spoke of how Jesus looks at us–and how we can look at each other–in a way that confirms our true personhood. Using my own story I shared how Jesus restores persons with same-sex attraction through His beautiful bride. Through worshipping the One, idolaters resume the dance of genuine self-giving.

How beautiful she was that night! A team had decorated the sanctuary richly and hoisted up the Divine Mercy image, while another team led us in exquisite praise. We could not help but bow facedown before the One who looks at us with such tender all-knowing love that we cannot help but surrender to His wholeness. In the light of His gaze, we become who we are.

Broken by the new ‘gay marriage’ laws in France, many persons wondered how to best love persons with same-gender attraction. Among them were the homosexually wounded who asked: ‘Will you love me in all my messiness and contradictions? Will you stand with me as I learn to worship this Jesus in His house and leave the old behind?’

Toward the end of the evening I looked behind me and saw that the pastor had opened wide the huge Baroque doors. From the sanctuary thick with broken people and the Presence of God, I could see streams of Parisians racing home. Might we His bride open wide the door of our hearts and invite in all who search of the living God? As we do, we shall face serious demonic resistance. More than that, we partake in the Father’s joy of many sons and daughter coming home. In doing our part for such glorious reunions, we crush the work of the enemy.

Please join us this Wednesday the 15th for ‘Pierced for the Bride’: the first of 40 days of prayer and fasting for the Bride. Join the staff every day at 3pm cst as we pray through the daily blog together. Now is the time to fight on our knees!

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Fighting fire with Fire

‘For you did not receive a spirit that enslaves you to fear, but you have received the Spirit of sonship, and by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’(Rom. 8: 15)

Have you ever consider the truth that many persons who face intense same-gender longings are actually motivated by fear: original experiences of rejection for personal and gender inadequacy–the threat that their offering to parents or peers may be rebuffed? Fear intermingles with shame, goes underground, then resurfaces in a kind of homosexual entrancement in which the rejected one plays out a kind of sensual reconciliation with his own gender.

The futility of this effort is obvious: the fearful one is compensating for a trauma, not complementing another person as a valuable counterpart. But bonds forged in fear and lust can be more binding and blinding than those conceived in wholeness. My friends and I agreed that our efforts at gay love only distorted what could have been good friendships with bright, searching guys.

We resonated at a recent seminar with Dr. Joseph Nicolosi as he described the early experiences of sensitive souls who in the face of early shaming experiences faced a ‘dropping, sinking and collapsing’ of body and spirit then retreated for years into a kind of ‘no man’s land’ until same-sex feelings emerged and became another reason for self-hatred.

Gay fantasy, identity, and relationships assuage the fear and shame and self-hatred temporarily but cannot dissolve the truth that something more basic is happening: an effort to resolve a wound that no amount of civil liberties can heal. Even therapy has its limits here. Through undoubtedly helpful, it cannot wholly answer the cry of body and spirit.

Only Jesus can unlock the dungeon of self-rejection and hatred. Only He can enter into our darkest memories and current temptations and grant us a way of escape (1COR 10:13). His ‘perfect love casts out fear’ (1 JN 4:18) and gives us, perhaps for the first time, the fight we need to arise in our original dignity and resume the journey to wholeness.

After the seminar, I encountered a bulky guy to whom I might previously have abdicated my own masculinity—my chest sinking and collapsing–through a flash of homosexual lust. But not this time. Conscious of anxiety, I breathed deeply and practiced the Presence of the One ‘who has stooped down to make me great’ (PS 18: 35b).This David blessed the Goliath before me and walked on, unencumbered and grateful for the man I am and the God I worship.

‘We overcome the fire of lust by entering into an infinitely greater Fire, that of God’s Eros-Agape love.’ (Christopher West, The Heart of the Gospel)

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The Bad and the Beautiful

‘We don’t want merely to see beauty. We want to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to become a part of it.’ C. S. Lewis

June was a bad month for persons seeking to overcome homosexuality. The once morally sound Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) voted overwhelmingly to change its definition of marriage, Obama polished up his gay-affirming legacy by extending all kinds of ‘gay’ federal rights and an ex-Exodus leader came out with a smooth- as-a-snake testimony of how ‘love means never having to say you’re sorry’ for homosexual practice.

Ah well. I am learning to hear the bad news while listening more intently than ever to God’s love song. Through the God who took on a body, we can hear and see and taste in our bodies Heaven’s desire for us. It’s true: God Himself wants to unite Himself with us, which corresponds with our deepest desires. More than anything or anyone else, we want Him! And He wants us–the God of beauty wants to abide and dwell and remain with us in profound communion.

Amid the din of fallen humanity, I am learning to listen to the Song of Songs. When I do, beauty overcomes the bad and I am reminded that One greater has overcome the world and its deceit. He will overcome that deceit through persons who have been wooed and won over by Beauty Himself.

Applying deftly JPll’s teaching on ‘The Theology of the Body,’ Christopher West describes the real desire in us that God accesses. That desire is sourced in His design for our bodies, a truth He liberates as we learn to dance in harmony with His great love for us. Finally, that ‘dance’ results in our destiny, which is to join Him eternally when heaven and earth become one at the end of time. For now, we long and listen for Heaven’s song, music that flows from His heart to ours. The key is to learn to sing along, and to invite others into the dance.

We cannot expect broken people who barely can hear His song to line up with Christian morality. Instead, we must teach them God’s song of love to them. Once they hear the music, God will prepare them to take the next steps, to begin to move closer to His design for their lives. That’s how I see ‘Living Waters’: it is a series of dance lessons, well-choreographed, in which we begin to move in accord with our design. But that would mean nothing without beautiful love songs.

The Father urged me to begin to listen and pray for a wonderful gay-identified man at my gym who needs Jesus desperately (but does not yet know that.) While praying, Jesus gave me a picture of him, driven and distracted by the demands of others. Then a light shone on him and compelled him to look up. He was filled with light and his face went from gray to gold. Our glorious God said to him: ‘I want your happiness.’ I recounted my vision and his eyes filled with tears. ‘I did not know God cared about my happiness,’ he replied.

My friend is not yet ready to repent of homosexuality. But he is beginning to hear heaven’s song. Alleluia. Beauty wins.

‘Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers; if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.’ Pope Paul Vl

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