Tag Archives: Peter

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Pentecost: Power to Live the Truth

Woodcut, published ca. 1880.

I just read in the New York Times that Dr. Robert Spitzer, the man who documented the transformation of 200 former homosexuals like me, now claims (for no apparent reason) that we must have been lying. Who knew? Not my wife and kids…

Bowing to the irrational drive of gay activists who insist that no homosexual can change (in spite of pretty good evidence to the contrary), Spitzer capitulated.

Gratefully, God helps those who aspire to live the truth. We represent the minority who seek change by standing in His power. Raised with Christ, we exit the tomb of public opinion and expand our horizon. In contrast, the good doctor obeys the demands of men and constrains all with the weary credo: ‘once gay, always gay.’

Peter and the apostles defied such pressure. Advancing the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, they determined ‘to obey God, not men’ (Acts 5:29) by ‘telling people the full message of this new life’ (v. 20) Ordered not to do so, they did so anyway, happily ‘suffering disgrace’ for proclaiming the truth. (v.41)

So must disciples like us. We know the power of same-sex attraction but we know more intimately the truth of His abiding, transforming Presence. Pentecost invites us to be re-filled with that power from on high that we might proclaim afresh ‘the full message of new life.’

Pentecost also invites us to be renewed with the Spirit of obedience so that weak people like us might live out the truth we proclaim. The Church’s capacity to proclaim her ethic of sexual wholeness is seriously hindered by the jaw-dropping compromises of her leaders. I just read of how a powerful and conservative religious order admitted that its current leader had illegitimately fathered a child, following in the lurid tradition of the order’s founder who had sexually abused seminarians and fathered several children!

We need a fresh Pentecost that will lead the faithful to repent. We begin by admitting how difficult it is to remain pure and whole. Our only hope is humble reliance upon Jesus and His people, not after the fall but before, as to prevent it.

Pentecost is the way to purity; it always leads us back to Calvary where real strength springs from evident weakness. We must get low in order to be ‘clothed with power from on high.’ (Lk 24:49)

May the power of the Spirit compel us to bow the knee to Jesus. He is our fortress amid every temptation. DSM is sponsoring a 40-day prayer of repentance from sexual sin unto God, our stronghold. Entitled ‘Clothe Us, O God’, this prayer vigil shall run from September 27th to Election Day, Nov. 6th. More on this later…

“To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy—the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Jude 24, 25)‘

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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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Mercy Rising (on trembling legs…)

Join us today at 3pm (CST) as we intercede for loved ones in need of God’s mercy.

Mercy Rising (on trembling legs…)

40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012 – Day 22

I know that the grain of wheat must be ground between millstones in order to become food. In the same way, I must be crushed in order to be useful to the Church and to souls. (641)

The Church is founded on forgiveness. Peter is a personal embodiment of this truth, for he is permitted to be the bearer of the keys, after having stumbled, confessed, and received the grace of pardon. Behind the talk of authority, God’s power appears as Mercy and thus is the foundation stone of the Church. Pope Benedict, Called to Communion

Simon Peter, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. (Lk.22: 31, 32)

Jesus, we agree with You that sin crushes us. Thank You for not crushing us as a penalty for our sin; thank You for granting us Mercy. Only in Mercy can we repent and come to a full knowledge of the Truth. You are that Truth, Jesus. In the words of Peter, where else will we go? You are the key to our lives, the antidote to our sin and the secret of a future lived in union with You. Make us Merciful, as You were merciful to Peter and to us. Like Peter, may we  represent well the truth that ‘Mercy is the foundation stone of the Church.’

For the complete 40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012, click here to download.  For a paper copy, United States only, please call Desert Streams Ministries at (866) 359-0500. 

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry from the diary is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote. 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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Mercy Rising (on trembling legs …)

Day 22 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy Rising (on trembling legs…)

‘I know that the grain of wheat must be ground between millstones in order to become food. In the same way, I must be crushed in order to be useful to the Church and to souls.’ (641)

Jesus is crushed to become for us the Meal of Mercy; death precedes life, first for Christ then for Christians. Only our death is not fatal. The Risen Lord invites us to die to our props and illusions; He grants us Mercy then resurrects what in us pleases Him.

St. Peter illustrates well these necessary losses. I love that man. He embodies the zealous, unrefined, and teachable soul better than any other. Jesus loved Him dearly, in light of his blindness—‘You shall never die, Jesus!’ his fear and unbelief—‘Jesus, I will follow You on the water; help, I am drowning here!’, and his arrogance—‘Jesus, you shall never wash my feet!’

Jesus loved Peter in all of his stumblings, and set him aright each time.

Jesus entrusted Peter with the keys of the Kingdom—forgiveness, the binding and loosing of sin. Does that not make sense in light of the Rock’s many failures?

To whom would you be more apt to entrust your sin—a seamless saint or a sinner made holy through Mercy alone? Through failure and repentance unto Jesus and His forgiveness, Peter earned his place as the first to be entrusted to forgive sins in Jesus’ Name and power.

Consider Peter’s last great failure, his three-fold denial of Jesus prior to Calvary. Almighty Mercy turned the Apostle’s worst humiliation inside out; He made it the basis of His three-fold call for Peter to love and feed His sheep.

The Resurrected Christ elevated the humbled Peter as the Church father of forgiveness, His man of Mercy for sinners like you and me. On trembling legs, with extended hand, we the members of the one body are wise to follow Peter’s lead. Let Mercy overflow from the depths of vacated sin.

‘The Church is founded on forgiveness. Peter is a personal embodiment of this truth, for he is permitted to be the bearer of the keys, after having stumbled, confessed, and received the grace of pardon. Behind the talk of authority, God’s power appears as Mercy and thus is the foundation stone of the Church.’

Pope Benedict, Called to Communion

‘Simon Peter, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ (Lk.22:31, 32)

‘Jesus, we agree with You that sin crushes us. Thank You for not crushing us as a penalty for our sin; thank You for granting us Mercy. Only in Mercy can we repent and come to a full knowledge of the Truth. You are that Truth, Jesus. In the words of Peter, where else will we go? You are the key to our lives, the antidote to our sin and the secret of a future lived in union with You. Make us Merciful, as You were merciful to Peter and to us. Like Peter, may we represent well the truth that ‘Mercy is the foundation stone of the 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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