Tag Archives: intimacy

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Grounded 7

Authority arises from intimacy. And intimacy is about spending time with the beloved, lovers lingering together until…

Who knows? How long the lockdown? Next week? Month? When will the roar of ‘normal’ goad us into frantic action and dull our ardor for Him?

Not inclined to rush these days, I am quieted by Love. Deeper than human need, no doubt provoked by it, my hunger welcomes Jesus. He apprehends the ache and surrounds it. He is my desire, the only One who holds my gaze and eases my grasp on lesser objects.

I’ve no planes to catch, no early morning deadlines to deplete me before breakfast. I awake in the dark, rested and expectant, ready for Love. I light candles on the family ‘altar.’ Heavenly bodies beckon to me—Joseph protecting Mary and Son, St. John Paul ll praying for all to conceive new life in Jesus, then the Man Himself, His open body (envisioned by both St. Francis and Faustina) releasing yet again that river of Life. Only His climactic gift can cleanse and restore me.

I remain there for a couple hours until sunrise. Sort of lost in Love. I know that no-one loves me like He does but I tend to forfeit that grace by limiting love to a few minutes, often spent in wordy devotions. Done, box checked. Not the way to live in love; any long-married person will tell you that. Why do we treat Jesus worse than a long-suffering spouse?

Will the way change when the walls to the world come down? Hope not. Maybe I will proceed like I am loved, not stumbling over the debris that derides me. Maybe. To be strong is to be lovesick, overcome in the watches of the night.

I close with lyrics of a simple song—’Draw Me Close to You’–one I sing constantly, quietly, to Jesus:

‘Draw me close to You, never let me go. I lay it all down again, to hear You say that I’m your friend. You are my desire; no-one else will do. For nothing else could take Your place, to feel the warmth of Your embrace. Help me find a way, lead me back to You.’

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False Peace, True Intimacy

As we proceed on our 40 days of prayer/fasting for loved ones, we discover a marvelous truth: prayer leads to intimacy with God. Simply being in His presence revives the soul. The God who gave all to gain us grants us a share in His generosity. Our stingy prayers swell with mercy for persons most in need of it. Prayerful intimacy makes us fruitful once more.

The peace of His Presence contrasts with the holy unrest we feel when we entertain false intimacy. That includes turning back to distorted images of self and others in order to pleasure ourselves. Illicit sensuality mimics the Spirit of God. In the moment, we feel sensationally connected to what appears divine.

We are all too aware of persons who have left faith and family for false intimacy. We have all heard the stories: ‘No-one ever loved me the way (s)he does’; ‘how could something that feels so right be wrong?’ etc. That is especially true of persons exercising new freedom to be ‘out and proud’ with same-sex partners. Such ones have come under a false peace born of the devil himself. Yes, the devil. The author of lies smokes out vulnerable ones whom he can deceive into forsaking all for intimacy that produces only spiritual barrenness and impotency.

Of this false peace St. Teresa of Avila writes: ‘When such persons of the world remain quiet, while going about in serious sin, and so tranquil about their vices, for their consciences don’t feel remorseful about anything, their peace is a sign that they and the devil are friends. While they live, the devil does not wage war against them.’

We must pray that deceived ones will hunger once more for His real Presence. We can pray that Christians will love them generously in ways that surpass fickle lovers. We can pray for the Holy Spirit to ‘paint the dragon red’ and so reveal to beloved captives the dark spirits vying for their souls.

And we who are vulnerable to false intimacy must rely wholly on the merciful, fearsome God who upholds us in true peace as we cling to Him and refuse the seduction of the world. Christians are safe only to the degree that we prayerfully make themselves homes for Him. In all humility, we recognize that ‘the devil could begin to offer us another peace in small things, so while we live, we must fear the Lord.’ (St. Teresa of Avila)

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Hungry for Your House

‘Zeal for Your house consumes me.’ (PS 69:9; JN 2:17)

During our forty days of ‘Pierced for the Bride’, we shall ‘fast’ lesser loves in order to know Him more. But in this case, intimacy with Jesus is unto a particular end. We will ask Him for His heart for His house, the Church. We avail ourselves to the Bridegroom to receive His affection for the Bride.

The truth is: we are His bride. Yet we often fail to recognize who we are as the communal object of His deepest desire. In turn, we often fail to behold in our fellow Christians the gracious, fragrant presence of Jesus. We need Jesus to awaken in us His love for the Church.

Even in our brokenness, we have not ceased to be beautiful in His eyes. In truth we betray Him over and over in His body. Yet He hopes and endures and bears all things for us; how can we not ask Him to help us persevere in love for one another (I COR 13:7)? It is all too easy to split the perfect Jesus from His scandalous Church. May it never be! Let us instead collaborate with the Bridegroom and seek to become humble and strategic lovers of the Bride.

I want to say when I see Him face-to-face: ‘I loved her whom You love most, and have done what I could to prepare her for Yourself.’ Practically, that means we shall pray for our churches and regions, and in particular for various ministries like local Living Waters groups that aim to help the Church restore broken ones. Set free by the Bride, we in turn become her champions, devotees of the Bride who hunger and thirst for her righteousness.

Hunger we must. If the Church fails to arise into the glorious healing community of Jesus’ design—mighty in truth and grace—then the multitudes crying out for God in their distress will not be saved. We are Jesus’ saving arm!

Let us hunger for what the Church can be, and with all we possess answer Jesus’ prayer when He implored the Father: ‘I have given them the glory that You have given Me that they may be one as We are one: I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me…’ (JN 17: 22, 23)

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Fighting for Our Best 2 – Battle for the Bride

‘For Zion’s sake, I shall not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not remain quiet, until her righteousness shines forth like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.’ (IS. 62: 1)

water in desertThis Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. During the next forty days, Jesus invites us to join Him in the desert; as He was led by the Father into the severe beauty of solitude (Mark 1:12), so we too can descend into prayer and listen.

Such intimacy prepares us for the Cross. As Lent becomes Holy Week 2013, might we wait longer with Him on Good Friday, and so rejoice more fully with Him on Easter Sunday?

Lent is a time of reduction. We pare down the extras in our life; we turn down the noise of a thousand voices in order to hear the One. Hopefully our downward turn will result in hunger for the only One who can truly give us Life. We die a little in order to live more fully for the Risen One.

He has already made holy the desert for us. Yet the path He cleared does not exempt us from its hardship. The little crosses of Lent have power to open our ears and liberate our wills to obey Him more authentically than ever before.

This year, we at Desert Stream shall pray especially for the Church and for our readiness to do our part to make her ‘salvation shine like a blazing torch.’ We need more of the Bridegroom in order to love His beautiful, broken Bride. Each week during Lent we shall consider Jesus’ affirming yet challenging call to the 7 churches in Revelation. We shall pray along with His call to each of them weekly: I shall post a small devotional every Thursday to help us know and share His heart for our own churches.

Then each Monday during Lent, I shall post a brief meditation on the link between the Church’s clear witness of salvation and our call to stand for marriage. Only the Church has the anointing, the authority, and the mandate from Jesus Himself to champion the truth of one man committed to one woman for the sake of the children they bear; today we the Bride must be roused to do so as never before.

On Holy Week 2013—March 26th and 27th–the Supreme Court of the USA will hear the two cases which shall determine how marriage will be defined in our country. The hour is urgent! Watch and pray!

St. Edith Stein wrote: ‘The more an era is engulfed in the night of sin and estrangement from God, the more it needs souls united to God…The greatest figures of prophecy and sanctity step forth out of the darkest night.’

More than ever, we must be prayerful and united in one voice as we beseech God to uphold marriage: the one relationship that St. Paul defines as the living witness of Jesus’ loving initiative towards us, His bride (Eph. 5: 23-33).

Might we pull away this Lent and seek Him in earnest for both marriage and the Bride who is making herself ready for Him? Bless you dear friends, as you consider His invitation to you this Lent. I hope that includes some prayer time with us at Desert Stream Ministries!

‘Therefore, I am now going to allure you; I will lead you into the desert, and speak tenderly to you…I will betroth you to Me forever, I will betroth you in in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.’ (Hosea 2: 14, 19, 20)

 

 

 

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