Tag Archives: Repentance

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Mercy’s Rule

Day 10 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘When the battle becomes too much for me, I throw myself like a child into the arms of the Heavenly Father and trust I will not perish…I do not lose heart. I trust God’s grace, which abounds in the worst misery.’ (606)

Bad shame can trap us; the traditions of men are tricky. They may have truth on their side, but they forfeit the main rule which governs Jesus’ morality—Mercy for the sin-sick, who in turn extend Mercy out of a recognition of their own moral vulnerability.

How Jesus handled the woman caught in adultery exemplifies Mercy’s rule.

(Jn. 8:1-11) She had violated herself and others in adultery, a serious offense. Such a sin could cost you your life, a truth that the religious teachers and leaders knew and set before Jesus as to expose His aim to uphold both Mercy and Truth.

First, why is the woman brought before Jesus, and not also her male, (presumably) married partner? That may help decode the hearts of the religious. She had no advocate in contrast to the man and his family; in that culture, women (especially single ones) had almost no power and yet were thought to be nearly all-powerful in their ability to seduce men! I believe that Jesus is redressing this inequity here by advocating for her, the weaker party.

He did so by appealing to the moral vulnerability of all the accusers: ‘If you have never had a sinful, adulterous thought, then kill her; let the pure serve judgment!’ Perhaps drawing upon His definition of adultery which equates lustful thoughts with actions (Matt. 5:27-30), he commanded an examination of conscience. To their credit, the men heeded his challenge. Each dropped his stone.

As far as we know, only the woman held out her open hand for Mercy. Though set free from their condemnation, she was only freed from the sin of adultery by Jesus, who commanded her: ‘Go and leave your life of sin.’ (v.11) We presume she did. Mercy cleared away her accusers (the traditions of men), and made a way for her repentance.

Jesus’ love renders us all unfaithful; none are only true. Mercy frees us from ignorant accusers and frees us for a progressively true love born of Mercy.

“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to help remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Lk. 6:42)

‘Jesus, we want to see reality the way You do. Give us Your eyes of Mercy, first to recognize our own unfaithfulness then to extend Mercy to others based on Your generous Mercy to us. Help us here, O God. Cleanse our adulterous, accusatory hearts; set us free for Mercy. Make us especially mindful of disempowered ones who are under the judgment of the powerful. Let Mercy have her perfect way in our hearts.’

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False Mercy

Day 7 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘The great sins of the world are superficial wounds on My Heart, but the sins of a chosen soul pierce My Heart through and through…’ (1702)

After Jesus met me with Mercy in my waterless pit of sexual immorality, I turned from sin. I knew I was wrong. Running away from Jesus and His truth did not change the truth. Mercy enabled me to stop running and face the truth—I needed Him because of my sin.

Like the angels imploring Lot to get out of Sodom, Mercy paved the way for my repentance. I moved back to the suburbs and involved myself in a small community of believers. I loved seeking and finding Jesus with them.

Yet often after our gatherings, I felt empty and alone. Self-pity tempted me: ‘no-one understands my struggle’. At the same time, my youthful sexuality was strong and stubborn. Maybe I could find a good Christian lover…

I began to explore the question, hoping for some new take on Scripture. I found it in the first ‘scholarly’ book to challenge the Bible’s traditional view of homosexuality. Written by Anglican Derek Bailey, ‘Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition’ pivoted on the reinterpretation of Sodom in Genesis 19. Bailey insisted that the operative sin of Sodom was inhospitality, not aggressive homosexual lust. He insisted that we rethink our ‘homophobia’ and go easy on gays.

Maybe the good Reverend wanted to make a way for the gay practices of friends or colleagues; maybe he was justifying his own. In spite of my yearning to believe him, I could not endure his gymnastics. So God destroyed a city because the men there weren’t exercising proper ‘angel etiquette’? Don’t insult my intelligence…

When Christian leaders alter the truth of sin, they actually block the way for sinners like me to know Mercy. Such ‘mercy’ is a misnomer and as cruel as death. It could cost souls eternal life. The cost is higher for the blind guides. They put a huge stumbling block in the way of God’s little ones, incurring a judgment described by Jesus as ‘drowning by millstone around neck.’ (Lk. 17:2).

Jesus warns us all: ‘So watch yourselves.’ (v.3) Kindness without truth is false Mercy. It appeals to our delusion that we can have Heaven and our lusts too. Wake up. Peter woke up his flock with this warning about false prophets: ‘By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom while they themselves are slaves of depravity.’ (2P2:18, 19)

No truth, no Mercy. In my early days of repentance, I knew one thing for sure. Jesus calls us to die. Mercy oils our surrender; Mercy fills the empty, lonely soul and raises him up.

‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…’ (Is. 5:20, 21)

‘Father, grant us clarity as to what pleases You and what does not. Thank you for the clear witness of Scripture and the Church. Help us to discern ‘blind guides’; most importantly, help us to discern our own tendency to conform the truth to our lusts. We especially pray for Christians caught in lies of their own design. Set them free before it is too late. Let the truth set us free for Mercy.’

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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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Turning for Good (Friday and Beyond)

We might receive foot-washing and communion and yet still not grasp the cross. Perhaps our need for that cross is not yet clear. We may still believe in our own capacity to follow Him, the self-inspired power of allegiance to Jesus.

Peter the ‘Rock,’ full of bluster and unrefined zeal, helps us here. He believed himself to be among the most radical followers of Jesus. Pride came before his fall on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion. Until the midnight hour, Peter continued to be stumbled by the prospect of Christ’s humiliation.

He still did not grasp the cross. First he had to suffer the humiliation of his own infidelity.

How often have we seen this before? Many of us have followed Christian leaders whom we granted ‘Rock-like” status, only to be devastated when they fell. How could they? How could men or women espousing, say, ‘traditional values,’ prostitute themselves and so breach trust with us? (Not to mention with their families, their churches, and the greater Christian community?)

Easily. We can preach the cross and its merits for everyone else yet avoid it entirely when it comes to our own need for the cross. We can live in that divide as long as our weaknesses are kept in check. But seasons change, and under the stress of real life, weaknesses become wickedness.

God exposes us as the cross-‘dodgers’ that we are. Such exposure breaks ground in us for mercy.

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The Mercy of Marriage

Since our transition to Kansas City, God has provided two men who have stood with me in prayerful friendship: Mike and Morgan. I am not sure I could have stayed true to the Lord without them. When I have been discouraged, they speak God’s truth to me; when unsure, they speak wisdom.

They have helped me close the gap between things we aspire to in faith and the uneven ground our feet trod on this earth.

Most practically, we help each other to love our wives and kids well. We have a commitment to the whole of each other’s lives. The main goal of our bearing with one another? That each of us might be a good offering to our families, without compromise.

Each of us knows the real threat of compromise. It is not a distinctly ‘homosexual’ or ‘heterosexual’ threat; it is a human threat, the temptation to idolatry, to cast off the restraints of commitment and to offer oneself to the sensual gods and goddesses.

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