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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Mercy for the Truthful Church

Day 36 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy for the Truthful Church

‘I will allow convents and churches to be destroyed…Souls without love and devotion, souls full of egoism and self-love, souls full of pride and arrogance, souls full of deceit and hypocrisy, lukewarm souls with just enough warmth to keep them alive. My Heart cannot bear this…I cannot stand them because they are neither good or bad…If they do not repent and become enkindled by their first love, I will deliver them over to the fate of this world.’ (1702)

If there is one thing worse than the worldly Church, it’s the truthful Church without Mercy.

Appalled at the sin around her, this Church strengthens her defenses and uses the truth for self-protection. She loses sight of lost and broken ones who need a way into the Church. In her defensiveness, she may also contribute to the divided hearts of clergy.

The Catholic Church and many fine Bible churches have a common commitment to marriage as the sole basis for sexual conduct. Alleluia! I rejoice in many eloquent and thoughtful nuances on this theme. Presented as God’s truth, it lays a narrow, inspired track for all humanity to weigh.

In an era where most grow up harassed on every side by vulgar, needy expressions of sex outside of marriage, the Church is wise to uphold its truth. But the truthful Church must beware of its tendency to merely raise a standard. Without acknowledging the devastation of lives in their midst, and providing a way forward for them to discover the Redeemer of their broken sexuality, the Church actually does a disservice to her own.

Truth without Mercy is not the face of Jesus. It is only another reason as to why sinners believe they have no real place in Church. Where is the Jesus who first defended the adulteress from the religious, the prostitute from the Pharisee? Where is the witness in the Church of Mary Magdalene, freed of demons and shame, now bearing witness of the Merciful Fount that raised her from the dead of sexual sin?

Instead the Church hands out another eloquent set of ethics. And what must this do to her leaders? These ones may buy into the system of ‘postcard’ saints who are only holy, not dimensional flesh and blood people who by Mercy alone have been freed to live out the truth. These truthful ones may well perpetuate the very ethic that shames and derides them for failing to live by it.

Those leaders who have not undergone a process of genuine sexual integration through Mercy and much engaging with His Merciful Church will fail; they go underground on the Internet, to gay bars in other cities, to vulnerable ones they serve then devour with their lusts. These are conservatives, imprisoned by the very truths they hold dear.

The priest in the Kansas City Diocese who abused little girls is a conservative, as is the bishop who allegedly failed to act promptly to stop his violence. And here we see the worst crime committed by the truthful Church: defending the ‘truth’ of the institution over the well-being of innocent ones. Threatened by the world and its judgment, smug in its authority, the Church uses the very truth God entrusted to her as a cover for secrets and lies.

Nothing has discredited the Church more in the last 50 years than its use of ‘truth’ to save face for fractured priests who provoked untold damage in little ones.

Those lost on that evil day will be vindicated by the God of Mercy and Justice. In the meantime, ‘let judgment begin in the house of God.’ (1P. 4:17)

“Because you are lukewarm, neither hot or cold, I am about to spit you out of My Mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” (Rev. 3: 16-18)

‘Jesus, test our truth with the power of Your Mercy. Cause us to repent if we who know and honor the truth dishonor it with our lives. Wash us clean. We are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. We repent unto Your Mercy. Let the truth of our failure to live by the truth shatter us; raise what pleases You.’

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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Urgency and Mercy

Day 31 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Urgency and Mercy

‘I have eternity for punishing sinners, and so I am prolonging the time of Mercy for the sake of sinners. But woe to them who do not recognize this time of My visitation! (1160)

‘A strange power has been pushing me into action, not giving me a moment’s peace. A strange ardor has been lit in my heart, urging me to action and I cannot stop it.’ (569)

How can we not experience the disquiet of St. Faustina?

We live between the ‘now’ of Mercy and the ‘not yet’ of God’s judgment.

‘Mercy is a sign of the end times; after it will come the day of justice.’ (848) Souls hang in the balance. Our lives are prophetic, a testament to Mercy and the hard truth that those who refuse it have hell to pay. If that does not inspire a holy urgency on our part, what will?

We must allow the Spirit of Mercy who is also the Spirit of judgment to rouse us on behalf of souls—to teach us to pray in unexpected hours, and to follow His lead in connecting with the wayward.

He also teaches us to bear His grief on behalf of wickedness and to cry out for Mercy. We are Mercy’s advocates, imploring Him to have Mercy on perpetrators of evil before their judgment is sure. Each of us can do so according to His lead and our limited capacity to bear such grief.

Here we must be alert to our own defenses, the self-protection that cries peace when there is none. If we seek to bear grief over evil with Him, our lives will be disrupted. We will taste the urgency of the hour that will inspire a deeper cry for Mercy in us. For me that urgency applies to sexual brokenness in both the Church and in the world.

In His Mercy, Jesus called me out of homosexuality many years ago. It was at the onset of the ‘gay rights’ era and I could discern even then the powerful drive to include practicing homosexuals on all fronts, including ‘marriage’ and church office.

Taking a step back, one can see ‘the gay agenda’ as a symptom of a greater evil: the devastation of God’s image in humanity. Friends with ‘benefits’, ‘no-fault’ divorce, Internet porn as foreplay to the sexual abuse of children, contraception and abortion—all the ways in which we made sex our little game to manipulate at the cost of human life and dignity—that is the fault-line of ‘personal rights’ on which gays aspire to be equal opportunity offenders.

And the Church, which upholds the truth of God’s will for our sexual humanity, has failed to live out that truth. As never before, the glare of worldwide scrutiny is on the Church for its mishandling of sexually and spiritually abusive priests.

Shepherds eat the sheep and bishops cry peace. The Church fails to discipline her own, so the state steps in to protect kids from creepy priests. The bishop of Kansas City just became the first to be indicted by a Grand Jury for failing to remove a charming pedophile priest. Devastating. Is it any wonder that the percentage of American priests who have abused children corresponds with the 3% of citizens who claim to be gay? The sins of the fathers are passed down…

‘What business is it of mine to judge those outside of the Church? Are you not to judge those inside? ‘(1 Cor. 5:12)

‘If I say, “I will not mention Him or speak anymore in His Name”, His Word is like a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.’ (Jer. 20:9)

‘Have Mercy, Jesus. We have all contributed to the devastation of human dignity through sexual brokenness. Have Mercy on us all; do not pay us back as our sins deserve. Reclaim lives from the fire of ‘lust and greed, which is idolatry.’ (Eph. 5:5)

Mercy also on Your Church, as You allow her to be judged in this hour. Let Your severe Mercy have its perfect way in her, that she might be restored as a bright and pure fount of Your Mercy. Receive our repentance in this hour, merciful King, that You would be unashamed to dwell in Your house.’

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 and Judgment

Day 6 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘Do not fear anything, I am with you. These matters are in My hands and I will bring them to fruition according to My mercy, for nothing can oppose My will.’ (573)

God was merciful to me in my ‘waterless pit’; He drew me out of the hell of homosexuality through Heavenly Mercy. Without mercy, I would have died young, never to have known or created real life.

Mercy matters; without it, sin and death prevail. We eat poisoned fruit and suffer either an immediate or a slow and agonizing death.

The two young men with whom I first ventured into the gay world both suffered terrible deaths from AIDS. Unable to stave off the smallest of infections, their bodies bore witness to the moral boundaries we had broken in sexual immorality.

I cannot claim virtue as the reason I survived, any more than they died because they were worse sinners than me. Mercy spared me from the judgment of an early death. Period.

The unrepentant are already under the judgment of sin and death. It lays claim to them unless and until we intercede and ask Mercy to intervene on their behalf.

Abraham pleaded for Sodom, a city rife with wickedness—arrogant, overfed, unconcerned for the poor, and devoted to homosexual lust. (Ez. 16: 49, 50) And God heard his cry for Mercy on behalf of the few righteous in Sodom. The Father sent two angels to warn righteous Lot and family to flee the city before He destroyed it as an act of judgment.

The men of Sodom tried to rape the masculine angelic messengers. Unsuccessful, the angels warned Lot of the impending doom of the city. Still, Lot lingered, as if he had lost his bearing in the sensual wickedness of Sodom.

As John Wimber said, ‘Sin makes us stupid’. This applies not only to our personal iniquities, but also to the impact of corporate sins around us, as was the case for the increasingly confused Lot.

According to Dale Anderson in his fine book Mercy Wins (Kansas City: Oasis Pub., 2010), mercy appears in Scripture for the first time in Gen. 19: 16:

‘When Lot hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and led them out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them.’

God first employs his Mercy to enable faltering Lot to turn away from the wickedness of Sodom and toward a city of refuge. Mercy—in the form of the angels–liberated his turning. His wife was not so fortunate. She turned back toward Sodom, and died instantly. (Gen. 19: 26)

That can say three things for us: sin is mighty in its power to destroy lives, intercessory prayer is essential in asking God to mercifully save lives from judgment, and God acts on behalf of these prayers by offering sinners a way out through His Mercy.

Human will and effort has a place: we must respond to Mercy to be saved, and we the saved must pray for those who hang in the balance. Sodom warns us of the perilous state of the unrepentant.

‘Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.’ (Joel 3: 14)

‘Father, we cry out for loved ones in ‘the valley of decision.’ Would you act in Mercy on their behalf? Would You send Your angelic messengers to those who are faltering in sin, doomed for judgment? We do not know how to reach them; You do, so we cry out for Your Mercy on their behalf. We live only because of Your Mercy. Would you please have Mercy on our beloved ones, liberating their flight from judgment?’

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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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Merciful Children

Through our four children, mercy breaks like waves upon Annette and me. They delight us. All in their twenties now, each possess unique gifts and strengths—Greg’s kindness, Nick’s astute analysis, Kate’s perseverance and lack of pretense, Sam’s integrity. All four remind us daily of the gift God gave us in each one, each the fruit of our marital love.

For us, the family is all ‘gift’, each child a sign and a wonder. In each, we marvel at the mercy of God towards us.

Our children are a direct result of God’s saving love to Annette and I. Were it not for His restoring love, they would not exist!

In this season, we are not without regrets. We have wondered: Have we made decisions in service to God that demanded too much? I have travelled extensively throughout most of our married life. As I globe-trotted, Annette had to compensate for my absence. Amazingly. Yet her single parenting skills, and my phone calls and homecoming gifts, did not close the gaps.

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