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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Mercy for Marriage

Day 32 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy for Marriage

‘O Jesus, You do not give a reward for the successful performance of a work, but for the good will and the labor undertaken. Therefore, I am completely at peace, even if all my efforts and undertakings shall be thwarted or even come to naught.’ (952)

In 2000, God called Desert Stream Ministries to fight for marriage in the USA. Reaching for the gold ring of ‘normal’, gay activists were seeking to redefine marriage by excluding the need for one man committed to one woman.

God woke me up to the evil of messing with the fundamental definition of marriage. We as a ministry began to pray and to call others to pray and speak out in their states where the truth of marriage was at stake.

We as a healing ministry have never taken on a less popular cause. Few of our constituents supported us. Many couldn’t see anything ‘healing’ about taking on a political cause that often resulted in toxic showdowns between ‘rustic’ fundamentalists and flamboyant activists. Still others feared offending gay friends and family members by refusing them ‘gay marriage.’

We cannot afford to be silent. Because of our tentativeness, gay rights groups have taken more ground in less time than any other interest group in US history. Last spring, Obama refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law which demands the government upholds its true definition. And now, for the first time, a slight majority of Americans claim to favor ‘gay marriage’, with nearly unanimous approval among twenty-somethings.

A good friend of the ministry confided in me: ‘Frankly, I don’t want to be on the losing team’, referring to what she saw to be our inevitable defeat on the ‘gay marriage’ front. That was a moment of truth for me. I realized that God was not calling us to be successful, but rather obedient. Jesus taught St. Faustina this when she heard Him say: ‘I do not reward for good results but for patience and hardships undergone for My sake.’ (82)

IN 2008, Desert Stream mobilized for the largest fight ever waged for marriage in the USA—CA’s Prop. 8. We prayed and fasted for 40 days prior to the election, rallied churches throughout CA, and I wrote an in-depth prayer guide for any who wanted to join us.

We hoped against hope—the media made us look like stooges in contrast to the articulate and its slick showcasing of our gender-bending opponents. Many who stood for real marriage were fired from jobs or blacklisted as traitors of the gay community. The polls were against us until the end.

During one prayer time, I heard the Lord say that He would give us the victory. I did not believe Him, as I am used to losing. Yet my colleague Dean Greer heard the same thing. God gave him this promise: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours but God’s…Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance that the Lord will give you.’ (2 Chron. 20:15-17)

We won. CA voters refused ‘gay marriage.’ I contend that neither the millions of dollars poured into the campaign, nor any strategy granted us victory; God did. He answered the prayers of people around the world who cried out for what He loves—marriage, and the merciful witness it provides of one man devoted to one woman, a window to Jesus’ love for His beautiful bride, the Church.

The days grow darker and we fight harder for one man committed to one woman. In victory and defeat, we fight for what God loves. We look to Him, from whom we draw both strength and reward for our commitment to marriage.

‘Life is a continuous dying, and at the same time, it is the depth of inconceivable happiness and the strength of the soul; because of this, the soul is capable of great deeds for God.’ (856)

‘’If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20, 21)

‘Jesus, make us content to be faithful; in obedience, we succeed amid the most painful of losses. Make us resolute in Your promises, and patient in bearing with them until they are realized.’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

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Boldness and Mercy

Day 30 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Boldness and Mercy

‘If the Lord demands something of a soul, He gives it the means to carry it out; through grace, He makes it capable. At the Lord’s command, the soul can undertake things beyond its expectation if God’s power and strength, which makes the soul courageous and valiant, are manifest within it.’ (1090)

‘Your assignment on earth is to beg Mercy for the whole world.’ (570)

Jesus gave St. Faustina a bold calling: to immerse souls in the flood of God’s Mercy at Calvary. Prayerfully, she brought the miserable, the deserted, those deadened by sin and suffering into the Wound that heals—Jesus abandonment on the Cross, His Mercy pool of Blood and Water.

Jesus implored her to share His yearning for the lost. He thirsted for souls to partake of the fruit of His suffering. He wanted none to perish, for all to be saved. He gave her a share in that thirst and in that suffering. She boldly cried out for souls to turn to that Mercy. She persisted day and night in her intercession for souls. He goaded her:

‘Urge all souls to trust in the unfathomable abyss of My Mercy, because I want to save them all.’ (1182)

A bold call, and a bold claim on St. Faustina’s part: Jesus Himself chose her (among others) as His merciful ‘life-line’ for the lost. She believed Him resolutely and proceeded to pray boldly.

For her obedience, she endured constant attacks from ‘holy’ colleagues, which she quietly understood as nothing short of demonic resistance. She knew that the devil hated prayerful confidence in the God of Mercy; if he could discourage or distract the prayerful, souls would be lost to Mercy. So she fell to her knees and cried out for Mercy, enduring the scorn for the joy set before her–Mercy being released to the miserable, hers, mine, ours.

Consider the joy of her child-like warrior heart: she knew that the Father honors bold faith and answers those who persist in agreement with His heart. And what could be more in accord with that Heart than for souls to be liberated by the Mercy that cost Him everything?

Jesus asks for our bold prayers too. And like St. Faustina, we will be subject to terrific warfare. We are rescuing lives from the clutches of evil! We do well as prayer warriors to follow Jesus’ command ‘to go boldly to the throne of grace to receive Mercy, and grace to help us in our time of need.’ (Heb. 4: 16)

Embattled prayer warriors need Mercy! Tending toward the mystical, we vertical ones can lose sight of our own humanity and the impact of the battle upon us. We need normalizing relationships that are arms of this Mercy. These truth-tellers help us acknowledge our humanity and keep us grounded in our need for love.

God takes no delight in mystics who ‘spiritualize’ human need, those yearnings of the heart and body which must be worked out on earth. We do well to seek merciful others for our wounded humanity. They free us to stay pure and true to our bold call to implore sinners to discover Mercy themselves.

Such ‘grounding’ takes a shrill, otherworldly edge off our prayers. They begin to resonate with merciful tones for the suffering of others, imploring Jesus to prepare us His bride to become rich and practical in Mercy. How else will the sin-sick find a place in the Mercy pool if the Church doesn’t exhibit such Mercy?

‘O Father, make Your Church glorious, rich in Mercy and purity, winsome to all who seek an answer to our hope. Show them the Mercy You have shown us; make us evident, shining bearers of Mercy. Enfold the lost through us, O God. In agreement with You, we want none to perish. You delight in the death of no-one. (Ez. 18:32) Through merciful repentance, may many find life in Your house.’

‘For Zion’s sake, I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch…

I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem, and makes her the praise of all the earth.’ (Is 62:1,6,7)

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

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False Mercy

Day 7 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘The great sins of the world are superficial wounds on My Heart, but the sins of a chosen soul pierce My Heart through and through…’ (1702)

After Jesus met me with Mercy in my waterless pit of sexual immorality, I turned from sin. I knew I was wrong. Running away from Jesus and His truth did not change the truth. Mercy enabled me to stop running and face the truth—I needed Him because of my sin.

Like the angels imploring Lot to get out of Sodom, Mercy paved the way for my repentance. I moved back to the suburbs and involved myself in a small community of believers. I loved seeking and finding Jesus with them.

Yet often after our gatherings, I felt empty and alone. Self-pity tempted me: ‘no-one understands my struggle’. At the same time, my youthful sexuality was strong and stubborn. Maybe I could find a good Christian lover…

I began to explore the question, hoping for some new take on Scripture. I found it in the first ‘scholarly’ book to challenge the Bible’s traditional view of homosexuality. Written by Anglican Derek Bailey, ‘Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition’ pivoted on the reinterpretation of Sodom in Genesis 19. Bailey insisted that the operative sin of Sodom was inhospitality, not aggressive homosexual lust. He insisted that we rethink our ‘homophobia’ and go easy on gays.

Maybe the good Reverend wanted to make a way for the gay practices of friends or colleagues; maybe he was justifying his own. In spite of my yearning to believe him, I could not endure his gymnastics. So God destroyed a city because the men there weren’t exercising proper ‘angel etiquette’? Don’t insult my intelligence…

When Christian leaders alter the truth of sin, they actually block the way for sinners like me to know Mercy. Such ‘mercy’ is a misnomer and as cruel as death. It could cost souls eternal life. The cost is higher for the blind guides. They put a huge stumbling block in the way of God’s little ones, incurring a judgment described by Jesus as ‘drowning by millstone around neck.’ (Lk. 17:2).

Jesus warns us all: ‘So watch yourselves.’ (v.3) Kindness without truth is false Mercy. It appeals to our delusion that we can have Heaven and our lusts too. Wake up. Peter woke up his flock with this warning about false prophets: ‘By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom while they themselves are slaves of depravity.’ (2P2:18, 19)

No truth, no Mercy. In my early days of repentance, I knew one thing for sure. Jesus calls us to die. Mercy oils our surrender; Mercy fills the empty, lonely soul and raises him up.

‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…’ (Is. 5:20, 21)

‘Father, grant us clarity as to what pleases You and what does not. Thank you for the clear witness of Scripture and the Church. Help us to discern ‘blind guides’; most importantly, help us to discern our own tendency to conform the truth to our lusts. We especially pray for Christians caught in lies of their own design. Set them free before it is too late. Let the truth set us free for Mercy.’

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Discovering the Cross in Our Wounds

During Holy Week, we pause to consider Jesus’ cross and the smaller one He asks us to carry. The goal? To know Him more. Perhaps He will invite you in these days to ‘keep watch with Him’ in His suffering. We take another step toward Calvary by considering the ways we have been sinned against. He has not suffered only for our sins and foolishness; His cross-walk had as much to do with the gaps and gashes we bear due to others’ sins.

Isaiah 53:4, 5 says it best: ‘Surely He bore our grief, and carried our sorrows…and by His wounds, we are healed.’ He wants us to come to Him as readily with our wounds as with our sins. Why? Because He loves us; He wants what He has suffered to have its full effect—to alleviate our suffering.

He also knows that the wounded heart, unattended and seeking to heal itself, will naturally harden and defend itself against the damage done. We in our hurt become ugly; one infected wound can make us hateful and indiscriminate in transferring that hate onto innocent ones who represent our ‘wounders.’

Remember yesterday’s entry in which I recounted my slander of a colleague? The revelation of my sinful response to him began a long process of meeting with Jesus and a trusted brother. Behind the rage and self-vindication, I was hurt beyond words. Jesus was intent on laying claim to that wound as the basis for new life in me.

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Discovering the Cross in our Sin

A tendency of most Christians is to want to enter into relationship with Christ through His cross but to want to avoid that same cross in our own lives.

No-where is this more apparent than in how we deal with our personal sin.

We will go to great lengths to deny our sin, and the suffering that we cause ourselves and others due to our sin. It offends us.

We are in good company. I love how Peter, whom Jesus had just named as the Rock of the Church, refused the truth of the cross. Peter’s clear vision of Jesus as the Way did not yet include the truth that Jesus had to suffer and die. Jesus’ prophesied His crucifixion in Matt. 16: 21-23 and Peter cannot stand it. He blurts out: ‘Never Lord!’ Jesus’ response? ‘Get thee behind me, Satan!’

God’s vision of what He must endure at Calvary, and what we must endure as well as we follow Him there, is different than our own. The cross offends us, particularly as it applies to owning the suffering caused by our sin.

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