Tag Archives: Peace

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Jesus Our Peace

‘Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled or afraid’ (Jn 14:27).

Not as easy as it sounds. Sure, I’m praying-nothing but time to pray, lingering longer before Him. Hungry yes, still no Eucharist, but the Real Presence of Jesus in His Spirit meets me. At times, my whole being resounds with something like peace.

Until. I surprise myself. Just when I thought I could ‘walk in the Spirit and not fulfill my lusts’ (Gal. 5:16) … Bam. My doctor’s appointment was supposed to be quick and easy. But the line outside for temp-taking and masking was long; when the receptionist reprimanded me in a shrill voice-with a grotesque passport smile-‘Get back sir, you are way too close!’-I saw myself lunge at her and successfully rip the façade off her ‘pleasant’ face.

‘The peace He left’ left. As I paced the waiting area (no room at that inn–most seats were blocked for distancing purposes), I felt good shame and mused on what lurks beneath most of our prayerful efforts. His peace still surpasses understanding but so does the unrest that seeps into our core and rattles us.

I asked for mercy. I prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet. It reminds me that Jesus’ mercy suffices and extends way beyond me to meet those most in need of it. ‘O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, empty Yourself out upon us and envelope the whole world…’

I aim His mercy at the world’s front-liners, persons isolated and without familiar consolation in their distress. Like you, I’ve a dozen friends and relatives who suffer alone. And I pray for courageous medics who are the last ones to hold a fearful hand, losing its grip.

That’s the real deal-the crux of this pandemic-good people losing breath and the hospital heroes who accompany them as we look on helplessly through various screens.

We cannot pass through the walls of this pandemic. But Divine Mercy and Peace can. I chuckle at my mixtures then pray for that River to flow to the most courageous, and vulnerable, in this fight.

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Downward Ascent 8: Woeful Well-Being

‘Woe to you when all men speak well of you…’ (LK 6:26)
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.’ (Matt. 5:10)

Being hated for loving Jesus means you are doing something right. Authentic peacemakers provoke war. Jesus may wash feet, defend children, empower women, and cure lepers but He also mirrors the truth of our sin (JN 15: 18-25). His reflection so unsettled the religious and political figures of His day that they smashed that mirror every way they could. His disciples might expect the same. The servant is not greater than his master.

I refer to the backlash prompted by authentic righteousness, not self-righteous bluster. A pagan friend roughed me up in the early days of my conversion when I was prone to quoting Scripture in faux dulcet tones. I deserved to be decked–religion was making me insufferable. That differed from the gossip that surrounded me when I pulled away from gay friends. Although I was sorely tempted to serve both God and Baal, I knew that the former demanded loyalty.

Jesus makes us very unpopular. How else do you explain Mozilla/Firefox Chief (Silicon Valley magnate) Brendan Eich who resigned under pressure when it became known that a few years earlier he gave $1000 in support of Proposition 8? A popular gay website posted this about Eich and anyone who stands for marriage: ’For enforcing misery, shame, and frustration, you are our enemies, and we wish you nothing but failure.’

Be forewarned: the ‘gay marriage’ machine has just begun to steamroll opponents. Note that its energy is essentially ‘anti-Christ.’ To reconfigure marriage means a failure to recognize both the context and purpose of sexual love as advocated by Jesus Himself. (Matt. 19:4-6) People hate chastity and genuine fruitfulness; for all their talk about wanting ‘gay marriage,’ gay activists hate marriage. Blessed are those persecuted for upholding the righteousness of marriage. Blessed is Brendan and blessed are we.

Two years ago, a global gay-rights group did some research and discovered that Desert Stream Ministries was the source of the Living Waters Training week, which are currently being sponsored in nations throughout the earth. These activists never inquired of us but saw fit to launch a virtual smear campaign throughout the globe, using ads to describe our trainings as coercive and based on the premise that one begins the week with their ‘gay dial’ on and we claim to change the dial to ‘straight.’ All in 7 days! (Preposterous, as the training is for lay leaders being equipped to run church groups.)

Using this visual ‘dial’ image and a paragraph of pure lies, they amassed nearly one million signatures online against us. They submitted these signatures to governments around the world and requested that these nations shut us down for the sake of human rights.

The result? Governments around the world warned our constituents in those nations to distance themselves from us or else. It worked. Colleagues whom we had served on their soil for decades put up fire-walls from us to preserve their ministries.

Those who rejoice in the Cross must also be willing to endure the cross He asks us to bear. Consider the promises you make. Those who enter through the Crucified must share in that suffering. Heaven asks it of us.

From what aspect of Jesus’ righteousness do you seek to distance yourself? What cross do you avoid to maintain peace? As we enter Holy Week, be aware of your own ‘Hosannas.’ Will your love endure beyond the palms and hymns? Will you go the distance with Him to Calvary?

Edith Stein was a German Jewish convert who became a Carmelite nun. She exhorted her sisters with these words before being killed by the Nazis:

‘Will you remain faithful to the Crucified? Consider carefully! The world is in flames, the battle between Christ and Antichrist has broken out into the open. If you decide for Christ, it could cost you your life. Carefully consider what you promise.’

PRAYER for Sunday April 13th: ‘On this Palm Sunday, we rejoice that You choose to dwell with us, Humble King, the Prince of Peace. At the same time, we know that our hearts are not much different from the disciples who loved You during the parade and rejected You in the persecution to come. Have mercy on our fickle hearts.’

PRAYER for Monday April 14th: ‘Reveal any “peace at any price” tendency in us. Show us how we adjust the truth to look good before men rather than before God. As we approach the Cross this week, make us true.’

PRAYER for Tuesday April 15th: ‘Jesus, grant us the grace to distinguish rejection based on righteousness rather than rude, proud behavior. We turn from truth without love. Amplify truth-in-love. Remind us of the intimacy reserved for those who endure alienation from others for Your sake.’

PRAYER for Wednesday April 16th: ‘Father, show us any person or issue toward which we fear to be the truth. Grant us the love to include others in the whole of Your Gospel: crucifixion unto resurrection. Forgive us for wanting You only in the joy of new life and not in the grief of letting go. Forgive us for rejoicing in only one aspect of Your Cross and actually hating the other. Help us to love all that You are as we approach Calvary.’

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Downward Ascent 7: Prickly Peace

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.’ (Matt. 5: 9)

Failing to save ourselves, freed only through Mercy, we rest in everlasting arms: peace like a river. Jesus silences the noisy claims of poverty upon our souls. We are weak, but He is strong. Stilling our hearts in order to listen becomes a gift: instead of attending to old accusations, we wait for the whispers of our Beloved. Glorious peace.

Deeper than the ebbs and flows of daily uncertainties, such peace frees us for others. The war has been won; Jesus now disarms us. Vulnerable but surrounded, we trust the prince of peace as we invite others into His rest. We use wisdom of course, but heavenly wisdom, which St. James describes as ‘pure then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.’ (J 3: 17, 18)

Such peacemaking takes work: sowing peace into others’ lives and seeking to reap the fruitful witness of faith in them can be arduous. We could translate that word ‘peace-making’ as ‘peace-building.’ As builders then, we must be willing to go the distance with loved ones. That includes helping them to deconstruct false sources of peace.

This is where our peacemaking can be viewed as prickly. Whenever others describe the tangled mess of their lives then merrily conclude ‘It’s all good,’ I gently disagree and say: ‘Well, probably not all good. But One who is all good can help you sort things out, and I can help point you in His direction …’

The truth is, we all crave peace and will go to any lengths to secure it, however falsely. Consider Jesus and the Samaritan woman (JN 4). He offers her liquid peace, His merciful ‘Living Water’ then exposes the false wells she has been drawing from (‘You have had 5 husbands and your current lover is…’v.18)

Unlike the prophets and priests in Jeremiah’s day who ‘dressed others’ wounds superficially and cried peace when there was none’ (Jer 6: 14), Jesus tells us the truth of our illusory loves. He is the Lord of peace and will not tolerate imposters. He knows that the battle being waged for every soul will only be won at the Cross. Peace requires surrender to the One who gave all to gain us.

We are His witnesses, guided by His Spirit. Jesus gives us the good challenge to offer ourselves wisely, peaceably, and truthfully to those on whom His favor rests. The Spirit has directed me to a wonderful seeker who wants to know Jesus but on his terms. He is disquieted when I interrupt our peaceful chats with the hard truths of sin, evil, and the greatest deception of all: ‘It’s all good…’

He has a long way to go, as do I as a peacemaker. Yet I have come to accept the questioning look in my friend’s eye as a fulfillment of Mark 9:50: ‘Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.’

‘Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable.’

PRAYER for Monday April 7th: ‘Father, show us the peace that results from surrendering our ‘get-rich quick’ schemes. Forgive our efforts to resurrect ourselves. We are as tired of them as You are. Thank You for loving us when we are tempted to disdain ourselves. Show us the peace of surrender.’

PRAYER for Tuesday April 8th: ‘Remind us of the battle You waged for us. As we approach Calvary once more, remind us of what You won for us. Disarm us with the truth that You secured perfect peace for us there. Help us to know the authority You have given us, even and especially in our vulnerable areas.’

PRAYER for Wednesday April 9th: ‘Father, give us strength to be Your peace-builders. Grant us courage and patience for the long haul approach to helping others establish a foundation of peace anchored in You. Grant us the peace of working in tandem with the You whose yoke is easy and burden light.’

PRAYER for Thursday April 10th: ‘Father, grant us discernment when we cry ‘peace when there is none.’ Remove the beam from our eyes, that we may see the speck in our friends’ eyes.’

PRAYER for Friday April 11th: ‘Father, grant us wisdom to recognize the false peace loved ones have made. Help us to pray for them. In particular, we lift up_______. Jesus, we ask that You might reduce him/her to Your unfailing love. Be their peace, we pray.’

PRAYER for Saturday April 12th: ‘Show us Jesus how, when, and if we might address the false peace they have made with any number of things. Grant us more love and more discernment than we have. Teach us to be peacemakers that reveal the peace only You can give them. In that way, might we manifest the truth that as peacemakers, we have become Your sons and daughters?’

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