Tag Archives: His Resurrection

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Broken and Beautiful

What relevance is the Resurrected Christ for those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction? Or with any other profound sexual problem?

As one who shares that struggle, I often feel like the rather clueless disciples, stumbling about in the dark with the risen Christ. Disoriented by mixed signals from the church and world, ‘harassed at every turn’ (2 Cor 7:5), I fail to see Him among us.

And yet in blessed moments, He opens our eyes and we see Him as He is. His tender power surpasses our deepest need and transcends moral abstractions. In an instant we realize that our need is only Him—His Real Presence, the life of the world becoming our life, the center in which we rest, the anchor of our soul, sure and steadfast. (Heb. 6:19)

Mysteries, all, made tangible by His body, broken for us and beautiful. It is fitting that only at table together, in the breaking of the bread—the re-presentation of His crucifixion, of His brokenness, that the disciples’ eyes were opened to behold Jesus in His resurrection, His wholeness.

‘When He was at table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him…’ (Lk 24: 30)

I am convinced that we shall behold the Risen Christ only when we discover Him in His broken body.

A few nights back I revisited the beauty of that brokenness. We gathered as one body at our Living Waters Training; there I taught on overcoming sexual brokenness through the advocacy of the Church. Given the unusually high levels of confusion in our culture today over same-sex attraction, I felt compelled to urge all same-sex strugglers (approximately one-third of the group) to come forward. The remaining folks–‘the traditionally-broken’—came forward to lay hands on them and impart power from on high.

God brought such freedom. The Risen Christ met us in acknowledged brokenness and revealed Himself to us: tender power to raise those deadened by fear and confusion and to make us one body.

If we want to know Him, the Risen Lord, we must be known by them: His body, broken and beautiful.

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Intimate Authority: Easter’s Enlistment

This is the seventh and concluding post of my Holy Week Meditations for 2012. Please click here for the archive list of posts. Annette and I, as well as the staff here at Desert Stream Ministries, wish you a deeply blessed Easter. He is Risen!

Intimate Authority: Easter’s Enlistment

Why was Mary Magdalene the first disciple Jesus entrusted with His resurrection? According to John’s Gospel, Peter and John raced to the empty tomb but could not comprehend Christ resurrected.

Both John the Beloved and Peter the Rock saw evidence but did not see. After hearing countless prophecies from Jesus, ‘they still did not understand that Jesus had to rise from the dead.’ (Jn 20:9)

Peter and John left the empty tomb and went home, perhaps too weary and overwhelmed to grasp the truth. One can see and not see. Jesus entrusted this sight to Mary Magdalene. How strange for her. She wanted the powerful disciples to make sense of the empty tomb. She bid them come and they left, disoriented. Mary lingered at the tomb, weeping.

She wept and lingered there. That was her great gift, this evidence of intimacy with Jesus. For what else better defines intimate reliance upon another but weeping and lingering? Love alone provokes tears for another; love alone compels us to wait, to abide, to linger. These simple expressions of intimacy—tears and lingering—are the basis for her authority.

From her first encounter with Jesus, washing His feet with her tears as the Pharisee looked on aghast, to this last recorded encounter at the tomb, Mary wept. She embodied a tender and profound dependence upon Jesus. In brokenness, she clung to Him; His holiness absorbed her shame and transformed Mary into a radiant, radical disciple.

Naked surrender to Jesus—a gift of her more responsive gender and of her heightened vulnerability to false intimacy—made Mary trustworthy. She knew her cure. Lustful men had only served to fracture her, to take pieces of her; religious men then condemned her for it. Only One gave her form, made her whole. Jesus’ life became hers.

God chose an ex-prostitute to bear witness of that Life—the Resurrection–the most important event in human history. Are you beginning to understand why the Roman Catholic Church named her the ‘Apostle of the Apostles?’

Mary’s life with Jesus testified: with Him, she could do anything. When He died, she discovered the painful corollary: without Him, nothing. That’s why the grief. Grief grounded her at the tomb. Hope sustained her.

She had nowhere else to go. So she waited at the tomb, weeping and lingering. Here we see the deep broken ground of her heart, awaiting reunion with the Beloved. Her response to two angels concerning her tears is telling: she was not awed by them but concerned only about Him—‘Someone took Jesus away—where is HE?’ (Jn 20: 12, 13)

Then Jesus appeared to her, glorified and not yet apparent to Mary. She asked Him to tell her where Jesus was so she could retrieve His body from the hands of temple robbers. He spoke her name, opened her eyes, and reclaimed her life with His raised one. (vs. 14-16)

Reunion. Grief transformed to joy. My hunch is she wanted Him, desired only to be with Him, to weep with gratitude and linger with Him, alone. Jesus dethrones her desire. Instead of extending comfort, Jesus commissions her: ‘Don’t hold onto Me. Tell my brothers!’ (v.17)

I think of thousands of peers and friends around the world whose lives mirror Mary’s. Most know deep brokenness. Surrendered to Jesus, they in turn know Jesus well. He is their integrity, their wholeness. Will we hear Jesus’ words afresh this Easter? Will we, grateful for every sin He has assumed, every wound He has won, every cross He enables us to carry, not hold onto Him? Will we rather, empowered afresh with the Spirit of His new life, run with Mary and proclaim from our depths: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ (v. 18)

Will we stop waiting for someone else to do what we alone can do? Will we stop deferring to ‘important’ disciples but rather ask Jesus to make us faithful witnesses? To proclaim how Life has subsumed our brokenness and set us free?

I urge you this Easter: follow Mary’s example. Rise up and reveal His new life through yours. Easter has enlisted you as a member of the Magdalene Army.

‘Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back…

You will spread out to the left and to the right; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. Do not be afraid, you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace, you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth, and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is His Name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer. He is called the God of all the earth.’ (Is. 54: 2-5)

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Intimate Authority: Holy Week Meditations, 1

This is the first 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 Meditation, 1

Why was Mary Magdalene the first disciple Jesus entrusted with the message of His resurrection? A brief meditation on her life points to intimacy with Jesus as the basis for her unique authority. His gift to her was Mercy, a free gift that nevertheless demands a response. She surrendered all to Him; her gift to Jesus was herself. His life became hers.

More than not, the Gospels describe her weeping and lingering in His Presence. That was her authority, this evidence of intimacy with Jesus. For what else better defines intimate reliance upon another but weeping and lingering? Love alone provokes tears for another; love alone compels us to wait, to abide, to linger. These simple expressions of intimacy—tears and lingering—are the basis for Mary’s authority.

Intimacy with Jesus made an ex-prostitute the bearer of the most important event in human history. No wonder the Roman Catholic Church names Mary Magdalene the ‘Apostle of the Apostles.’

Mary’s life demonstrates how Jesus exchanges false attachments for His faithful, unfailing love. False intimacy is no match for His Mercy.

Mary knew all about false intimacy. She had been a prostitute; she gave herself to others in exchange for money. The most exquisite and life-giving part of her became the site of her greatest degradation. One thing abides—the pervasive shame over treating one’s precious self as worthless.

No amount of familiarity or mental gymnastics can remove that shame. The law is written on our hearts (Romans 2:15). Conscience can be numbed but not killed. In the still of the night, after each fall, the soul longs for the imprint of strange flesh to be erased. Jesus heard Mary’s cry. He hears ours today.

Mercy alone frees us to recognize the falsehood which has entrapped us. Mercy alone liberates our repentance. Mary personifies this recognition of falsehood and repentance.

The Pharisees mirrored the truth of her falsehood; in her, they would have been the face of God: righteous, serious, scorning her degradation. One critical gaze from a religious man might have withered her, confirming her shame. The law can cause us to weep and to linger in our regret, but it cannot heal us.

Mary saw another face in the crowd, this Jesus who gathered the lost and the least in order to heal and deliver them. He looked at her too, with eyes that seemed to know all about her but did not scorn her; in truth, they seemed to be pleading for something more, something better for her…

When Mary saw Jesus eating with a Pharisee, she wanted to run over and surrender all to Him, to offer her devotion as best as she could. But she had to risk the rejection of the Pharisee—the old face of God—in order to surrender to Jesus.

And she did. She crashed the party and flung herself at Jesus’ feet. At His feet she wept tears of gratitude and repentance, repentance from her life of degradation, gratitude for the Mercy He embodied. She lingered there. Mercy washed her, its levels rose around her releasing more tears, regret and release combined. She in turn washed His feet with her offering.

She was oblivious to the heady discussion in which the Pharisee had engaged Jesus. ‘Deep calls to deep, in the roar of Your waterfalls, all Your waves and breakers have washed over me…’ (PS 42:7)

Immersed in Mercy, she barely recognized the disgust of the Pharisee toward this embarrassing display.

Her courageous devotion is our first glimpse of the intimacy that made her great. Weeping and lingering in His Presence; this was the beginning of her authority. Deeper than her sin and shame was an awareness Jesus alone could set her free. She risked everything to be where He was.

Jesus explained to the agitated, dry-eyed Pharisee why Mary wept and lingered. ‘(S)he who has been forgiven of much will love Me much; (s)he who is forgiven of little will love Me little.’ (Lk 7:47)

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Mercy for a Broken Church

Day 37 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy for a Broken Church

‘Observing myself and those who are close to me, I have come to understand how great an influence I have on other souls, not by heroic deeds, but by small actions like the movement of a hand, a look, and many other things too numerous to mention, which effect and reflect in the souls of others.’ (1475)

We as the Church have been tainted and shamed by her sexual brokenness. St. Faustina is right: the holiness and hellishness of each member impact the whole church. That is a call to action. We who have received Mercy do well to take seriously our part in making the Church a deep well of healing. That applies pointedly to us who have been set free from sexual bondages.

Mary Magdalene is our patron saint here. Jesus entrusted an ex-prostitute with the most important truth about Himself and the entire Church—His resurrection. Neither a priest nor a scholar, her pedigree lay in her healing.

As one set free from the deception and humiliation of homosexuality, I envision an army of churchmen and women in the spirit of Mary Magdalene. Like her, we can together proclaim and administer His healing authority to any soul who has prostituted him/herself and cries out for Mercy.

We can follow her lead in Luke 7:47 —‘having been forgiven of much, she loved Him much.’ Therein lies our authority to heal others—the gratitude that flows from a broken, unclean heart made pure by Mercy. What else can we do? We live only to give away the Blood and Water that has given us real life.

He has washed us in our deepest, lowliest places, so He calls us to wash the feet of His broken ones with His Mercy.

That is not merely the domain of ordained priests; we are each priests as we walk in nearness to the High Priest of Heaven. None can place the healing burden of the broken upon ordained priests alone. They are too few for the millions of broken ones awaiting release, the healing journey too long and arduous. We who are called to this Magdalene army must be bold in asking: ‘Send me, Lord!’

We must be careful to not sit back and passively allow the ‘experts’ to do the work. We are weak, yes, but we can take courage at the words Jesus spoke to St. Faustina in her impossible charge: ‘Do not fear; I Myself will make up for everything that is lacking in you.’ (435)

Our pedigree lies in being extraordinarily dependent upon Jesus. We rely on Him deeply, in light of the depth of our weakness and our healthy regard for wickedness. We want the broken to be healed, not further damaged by our care!

Toward that end, we must also be submitted to Church leaders, and our fellow healing soldiers. The integrity of our care for others depends on our reliance upon trustworthy ones. As we gather around the Cross and discover the grace of humble disclosure, proper boundaries, and truthful nurture, we declare with authority: His Mercy is better than our old way of life!

Among His greatest sufferings are those caused by impure church leaders. So naturally, God wants His healers to embody purity in our innermost parts. He delights in granting us Mercy together; united with likeminded pilgrims, we discover holiness ‘in the secret depths of the soul.’ (443)

We each can and must do our part. I long to see both Protestant and Catholic churches welcoming Magdalenes in their midst. We gather before the Cross in healing groups for the purpose of granting Mercy to each other; we then open her doors for all who cry out for Mercy in their sexual brokenness.

We mobilize, but it is Jesus, alive with Mercy, that raises us up and makes a way for others to know the Life that surpasses all counterfeits.

‘I find pleasure, not in large buildings and magnificent structures, but in a pure and humble heart.’ (532)

We ‘prepare God’s people for works of service…so that the body of Christ may be built up…and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.’ (Eph. 4:12, 13)

‘Jesus, raise up Your Magdalene army. You did not suffer in vain; You suffered to raise up a people pleasing to You, that would live only from Your Mercy and live only for extending that Mercy. Send us as a gift to Your Church.’

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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Mercy Running (an army of Magdalenes)

Day 23 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy Running (an army of Magdalenes)

‘I found my destiny at the moment when my soul lost itself in You, the only object of my love.’ (57)

Why was Mary Magdalene the first disciple Jesus entrusted with His Resurrection? According to John’s Gospel, Peter and John raced to the empty tomb but could not comprehend Christ Resurrected.

Jesus entrusted this sight to Mary Magdalene. After Peter and John had left the tomb, having sifted through evidence of the Resurrection without sight, Mary lingered at the tomb, weeping.

These tears were familiar. Many believe that Mary was the prostitute in Luke 7 who washed Jesus’ feet with tears, in gratitude for His Mercy, while the Pharisee looked on aghast. She had been forgiven of much and so she loved Him much (v.47). Perhaps she wept after He cast out seven demons from her (Lk. 8:2) or after she witnessed His Almighty Mercy restore hundreds of lives while travelling with him. Certainly these were the tears she shed as she watched Him suffer and die on the Cross. (Jn. 19:25)

She was a woman uniquely attuned to Christ. Her gender and her brokenness forged a dependency upon Him qualitatively different from the male disciples. While ‘customers’ had shamed and fractured her, Jesus’ nearness set her free. Her wholeness was bound up in His life, her holiness a result of their intimacy.

Jesus entrusted her with His Resurrection. Clarity of sight corresponds with purity of heart (Matt. 6:22, 23). Her heart sought only His. So He, the Resurrected Christ chose to appear to her first, for her eyes alone.

He entrusted an ex-prostitute with the most pivotal event in human history.

On the eve of another Living Waters training, many ex-prostitutes will gather to help ensure their churches are safe and powerful places for the broken. Having washed Jesus’ feet with their tears, they are now intent on washing others.

Like Mary, they will run back to their homes, with pure hearts and clear eyes: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ (Jn 20: 18) God is raising up an army of Magdalenes. To these He can entrust the Mercy that makes all things new.

‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; from the one entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’ (Lk. 12:48)

‘Jesus, You pour out abundant Mercies upon those in need, surpassing the depth of sin with the power of Your love. We trust in You, the Mercy that makes all things new. Set us free in the spirit of Mary Magdalene to make known Your glorious Life. Free us from sin’s winter and free us for the season of singing. Make us bold and joyful stewards of the Mercy that sets captives free.’

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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