Tag Archives: Rejoice

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

California Supreme Court Upholds Prop 8

Please rejoice with us at Desert Stream Ministries as we give special thanks to God this Thanksgiving. The ever-contested victory for marriage ( Prop. 8 ) in CA was upheld yet again  by the Supreme Court. The governor and district attorney of CA refused to defend Prop. 8 once it passed, demanding its proponents defend it yet again. Thank you CA Supreme Court for upholding their right to do so in the face of opposition, and in general, for supporting voter-based initiatives like Prop. 8.

Once again, whenever the people of the USA vote on marriage, they uphold its true definition. Thank you voters of CA, the amazing Alliance Defence Team, the CA Supreme Court, and our God, the Designer and Sustainer of marriage.

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Mercy for the Church

Day 34 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy for the Church

‘What a joy it is to be a faithful child of the Church! O how much I love Holy Church and all those who live in it! I look upon them as living members of Christ, who is their Head. I burn with love with those You love; I suffer with those who suffer. I am consumed with sorrow with those who are cold and ungrateful.’ (511)

Above all, St. Faustina was a child of the Church. She regarded the Church as she regarded herself—the least yet much loved member of it. When she declares: ‘I feel my own weakness and wretchedness in the most profound depths of my being…I can only endure such moments by trusting in the infinite Mercy of God’ (944), she lays the merciful, truthful foundation on which she loves the Church.

She describes in her diary a Church which is achingly beautiful, and yet broken, even dangerous in its wanderings. Her heart loves the good without guile and rejoices with it; she also possesses a wise and fearsome discernment for the compromised body of Christ

She accepts the Church in all its flaws as His dwelling place. Thus her heart beats in communion with His body, a syncopated rhythm indeed. In that way, St. Faustina emulates a truth we each must realize: to love the Church with a whole heart is to suffer. The Virgin Mary is our model here, whom Schonberg describes as triumphing ‘not with the sword in her hand, but in her heart.’

St. Fasutina’s life was Church life. ‘I do not live for myself alone, but for the entire Church.’ (1503) She knew that she had a part to play in making the Church a better place, one member among billions. Why? She understood the impact we have on each other as members of the same body. ‘The sanctity or fall of each individual soul has an effect upon the whole Church.’ (1475)

Pedigree did not move her. As a young, uneducated woman, she took her responsibility for the Church seriously. Its grandeur did not intimidate her, nor did its hypocrisy sway her from doing her part. That should challenge each of us. The Body is neither ‘big brother’ nor we its hapless victim. God looks upon each one of us and our offering as possessing profound significance; we must decide how we will exercise that power.

We can love the Church powerfully and well. St. Faustina did; in that love, God gave her painful sight as to its evil. Perhaps this to be the hardest thing about loving the Church: seeing things as they are, not as they should or could be.

She received this vision from Jesus. ‘Look and see the human race in its present condition…I saw horrible things—they struck the Lord mercilessly. These were priests, religious men and women, high Dignitaries of the Church.’ (445)

To St. Faustina, church leaders who abuse their office abuse Christ; they crucify Him afresh. Here is a timely word for the 21st century in a Church rife with scandal over the sexual abuse of children and its cover-up.

St. Faustina realized that the greater the authority, the greater church leaders impact its members. Like her, we are wise to take seriously our role in ensuring that leaders practice what they preach. They deserve respect when they live out their callings respectfully; they should be corrected when they lie against the truth.

In this hour of the Church’s exposure, God is calling us all to wake up to our responsibility ‘to provoke one another to love and good deeds’ (Heb. 10:24), including our leaders. Let us each do our part to expose sin so that Mercy, not judgment, might prevail in our midst.

‘Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to those through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.’ (Lk. 17:1-3)

‘Jesus, give us Your heart for Your body. Open our eyes to her beauty and her brokenness, that we might love her well. Make us mature gifts to the Church; help us to discern both good and evil, and to love her wisely with all the Mercy You have shown us in our many contradictions.’

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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Faithful Mother for an Adulterous Generation

Day 3 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘Rejoice, for you are closer to God in His mercy than a baby to its mother’s heart.’ (423)

Our father is the perfect parent; He combines and surpasses the best virtues of both mother and father. Just as natural parents complement each other in creating children and loving them well, so does the Father’s Mercy involve two intertwining dimensions that bear fruit in us: one masculine, the other feminine.

Understanding these two expressions of Mercy can help create a more whole view of God. What results is a more whole soul in us! The fullness of Mercy facilitates our faithful response to Him, and thus our freedom to live as He intends.

John Paul ll defines ‘hesed’, or ‘steadfast love’, as the more masculine dimension of the Father’s Mercy. It is defined by dependability, stability, and a resolute commitment to keeping its promise. ‘Rachamim’, the second most common word for Mercy in the Old Testament, connotes a tender compassion that God deeply feels for His afflicted ones. It comes from the root word ‘rechem’, or ‘mother’s womb’.

God deeply feels for us in the way that a whole mother aches for the well-being of her child. The intimate communion of mother/child grants her an intuitive grasp of its needs, and suffering.

My repentance from homosexuality turned on the tears of my good mother as I boldly told her of my ‘gay self.’ Her ache expressed itself in sweet ‘rachamim’ for her afflicted son. My good wife’s aspirations and sorrows are tied to the status of our children. Their rising and falling are hers; in this, I complement her well by advocating for the Father’s ‘hesed’ as our ‘objective’ hope for their safe return.

Out of His rachamim, God moves powerfully to heal those who have suffered since infancy from a breach in mother’s love (often entirely unintentional on the mother’s part.) I will never forget the first conference we sponsored in Los Angeles with Leanne Payne. She taught movingly on how God’s ‘mother-heart’ goes forth in the power of the Holy Spirit to unite itself with the adult-‘child’ and so heals him/her.

As Leanne spoke, a woman coming out of lesbianism moved haltingly toward the podium and quietly asked Leanne to pray for her. She did. God sent forth His mighty ‘rachamim’ and performed a miracle of Divine Mercy in our midst, healing the young woman at the source of her ‘mother-hunger’.

‘The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all that He has made.’ (PS 145:8, 9)

‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; you are ever before Me.’ (IS 49: 15, 16)

‘Humble us, O God, by the tender and mighty nature of Your ‘rachamim’. You feel deeply for our needs, and ache over our afflicted state. Would You move us with the Mercy that moves Your heart? Grant us a share in Your Mercy. May our prayers for the release of Mercy promote healing action. Bring the unfaithful home! Transform them through Your (and our) faithful love.’’

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Father of Mercy for an Adulterous Generation


Day 2 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘Apart from God, there is no contentment anywhere.’ (42)

A painful fact of life for my twenty-something children is the sexually immorality that defines their generation. If not subject to parents who failed to keep their commitment to each other, they are steeped in a culture that celebrates the relentless erosion of holy boundaries. These are a people so scorched by porn they no longer feel the burn; these are ‘friends with benefits’, open to the sexual possibility in any amicable union (with either gender). This is the first generation to disavow marriage while championing the rights of gays to do so.

These are a people in need of Mercy. They need a Father who keeps His commitment of love to them even as they discover their inability to stay true to Him. ‘Steadfast love’, or ‘hesed’, is the main word used for mercy in the Old Testament. It usually applies to the Father’s covenant with Israel. There, the Father exercises His mercy by upholding HIs love and commitment to the nation that betrayed Him. Continuously.

‘Hesed’ keeps giving, reaching, and believing in the object of one’s love. In divine mercy, God vows to make a way for unfaithful ones to become faithful through the gift of His love for us.

That does not mean that ‘hesed’ is easy for the Father. For Him to so love His world only to be betrayed by that world breaks His heart! The Scripture opens us to His jealous, passionate love for the wayward nation. When Israel would pursue other gods, the Father likened them to lovers, her own heart to an adulteress’.

She broke her vows to Him, over and over, often resulting in the sexual immorality that defined the fertility cults surrounding Israel. Through the prophets, God would speak with vengeful passion toward the holy nation: ‘Rebuke her, for she is not my wife…let her remove the adulterous look on her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts…I will not show my love to her children, because they are the children of adultery. Their mother has been unfaithful…’ (Hosea 2:2, 4, 5)

Such anger would then evolve into ‘hesed’, the merciful promise that God would make a way for her to return to Him. ‘I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her…There I will make the Valley of Achor [judgment] a door of hope…in that day, you will call me ‘my husband’, not ‘my master’…I will betroth you in love and compassion (hesed); I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.’ (Hosea 2: 14, 15, 16, 19, 20)

Adultery of heart, both spiritually and sexually, breaks His heart. And from that heart flows ‘hesed’, the steadfast mercy that stands in the gap for us. It works. We have a faithful Father who makes a way for us to return to Him in spite of the adulterous flood around us and in us.

My 22-year-old son Sam, no stranger to false gods and goddesses, rejoices in being won over by ‘hesed’. ‘I don’t want to be anywhere else but in His Presence. Nothing else satisfies me like He does…’

‘They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them besides streams of water, on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim, my firstborn son.’ (Jer. 31:9)

‘Make Your steadfast love known to us, O God. Let Mercy flow from us to unfaithful ones. How can we refuse to give mercy away? Mercy liberated our faithful response to You in the first place. Your ‘hesed’ became ours.’

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Reunion

‘He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.’ (Mk 16:6)

Resurrection is reunion: Jesus, torn from His Father, now returns to Him. Evil demanded payment: crucifixion, the vast distance between God and God.
Love crossed over that gap, conquering sin and death.

Resurrection is the ultimate Father/Son reunion.

Every Easter, God extends to us a fresh invitation to reenter that reunion.
Jesus descended into hell to get us out of there.
He rose again into perfect union with His Father, that we might join Him there.

His reunion with the Father becomes ours, His triumph over sin and death becomes ours. The afflicting power of our ‘sin-sickness’ no longer prevails;
the sheltering, empowering love of our Father does.

Resurrection insists on it.
‘The resurrection of Christ is a sign of God’s purpose and power to restore His creation to its full stature and integrity.’ Alister McGrath

Resurrection ‘lays the foundation for a completely new life, a new order. In Christ, we become completely different men and women in the very depths of our beings.’ Christoph Blumhardt

Through His cross, Christ grants us a share in His suffering; how much more does He, the risen Christ, delight in granting us full rights and privileges as beloved children of the Father?

Jesus has transformed the burning sand into a pool, the cross of suffering into reunion with our Heavenly Father. May His triumph be ours this Easter—full of the same comfort, confirmation, and confidence that Jesus now shares with His Father.

Rejoice!

Isaiah 35
“The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly, and shout for joy…
Strengthen the feeble hands, and steady the knees that give way;
Say to those with fearful hearts: ‘Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come, he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution to save you.’
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs…
And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness.
The unclean will not journey on it: it will be for those who walk in that Way…
But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return.
They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

‘You will go out with joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands…’ (Is 55:12)

‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight that what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’

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