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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Everything I Have is Yours

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

Everything I Have is Yours

40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012 – Day 15

At the moment of Your death on the cross, You opened an inexhaustible spring of Mercy for us, giving us Your dearest possession, the Blood and Water from Your heart. Such is the omnipotence of Your Mercy. From it, all grace flows to us.   (1747)

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him Crucified,…so that your faith may not rest on men’s wisdom but on God’s power. (1 Cor. 2: 2, 5)

O Jesus, teach us to live from Your Cross, the death which is the Source of our life. Grant us child-like, crystalline clarity as to the Mercy flowing and rising from Calvary. Open the eyes of our hearts to Your generous Heart, pierced and powerful in Mercy to us and to all we love. May Your generous Mercy overflow from us to all. May Your passion be magnified in our lives to all who seek Mercy.

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 Restores Our Inheritance

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

Mercy Restores Our Inheritance

40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012 – Day 13

My Heart overflows with Mercy for souls, especially for poor sinners. If only they could understand that I am the best of Fathers to them, and that it is for them that the Blood and Water flowed from My Heart as from a fount overflowing with Mercy. (367)

While the son was still a long way off, the father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)

Father, grant us the clear understanding that Mercy grants us the full measure of our inheritance. Show us what we have squandered; grant us faith to believe You will restore what has been destroyed by sin. Grant us eyes to see that Mercy itself provokes our return home. We pray for those who are wandering far from their inheritance. Bring them home, O God, in the power of Mercy.

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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The Lord is Merciful: 40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012

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

The Lord is Merciful

40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012 – Day 1

‘Bring your ear close to My heart, forget everything else, and meditate upon My wondrous mercy.’ (229)

Open our hearts, O God, to the depth of Your Merciful heart toward us. May it overflow to all we meet. May it alter how we see You and all of life.

‘Welcome sweetest Mercy, who pour Yourself out for souls. Welcome, Infinite Goodness, who pour out everywhere torrents of Your graces. Welcome, O veiled Brightness, the Light of souls. Welcome, O Fount of inexhaustible mercy, O purest Spring from which life and holiness gush forth for us. Welcome, Delight of pure souls. Welcome, only Hope of sinful souls.’ (1733)

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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Young Lungs for Marriage

Please join us in Spirit (or in person) as we fight for marriage (and a new generation) in Washington State on Friday, February 3, from 4-7pm (pst) at Hillcrest Chapel, 1400 Larrabee, Bellingham, WA, 98225. For more info, contact Ann Armstrong at aarmstrong@desertstream.org.

Young Lungs for Marriage 

As the Washington State Legislature strives to adopt ‘gay marriage’, let us raise our voices to declare the truth that never changes and that always brings hope.

Hope for the integrity of marriage, and hope for freedom from sexual bondage needs to be proclaimed in this hour. How else will this generation—the first to forego marriage while championing the rights of gays to do so—hear the truth that can set them free!

Compelled by the youthful zeal of those who have grown up in an increasingly ‘gay-straight’ world, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire is now leading the drive for ‘gay marriage’ in her state.

Gregoire cites her daughters ‘who have grown up with kids who’ve got two moms and two dads, and they just think that this generation needs to get over it.’

That’s the kind of in-depth analysis that our lawmakers now employ to alter the most influential relationship in the world: ‘Just get over it’, as if marriage is an inalienable right that any group can claim as its own.

Might we pause a moment and remind ourselves that marriage belongs squarely and only to the realm of male/female, for the sake of protecting the new life created there, not to mention providing a witness of dignity and honor for sexual love for generations to come?

Might we pray that a new generation of voices might arise in Washington and throughout this land that could testify to the searing effect of sexual brokenness as well as the beauty of man for woman for each other in holy matrimony?

That is the best way to counter the all too pervasive ‘just get over it and stop discriminating against gays’ view espoused by the Governor’s daughters, and now sadly by the Governor herself.

I think of Kevin, our beloved intern from the middle of Washington state who early on began to explore his homosexuality only to discover that his lover could not offer him the completion he sought; broken, he returned to Jesus (and an amazing mother and father), found a Living Waters group in Seattle, and began the arduous, glorious process of becoming the man God created him to be.

Today he wants to do nothing more than to proclaim the truth that sets men and women free, the real justice that breaks chains and opens blind eyes. Recently, his story was featured on an MTV special: ‘True Lives’, which revealed not only his homosexual brokenness but the beauty of aspiring and securing one’s intrinsic dignity through the grace of God.

Might we pray for ‘young lungs’ like Kevin who knows better than to settle for ‘gay marriage’? Might my generation summon ‘sons and daughters’ who can testify to the unchanging truth of the import of marriage? Regardless of times and seasons, kids deserve more than two mommies and daddies. Neither our lawmakers nor their children nor we should buy the lie that justice is served by ‘gay marriage.’

Woe to us who are silent in this hour when marriage hangs in the balance. Let us lift up our voices and support the only meaning under God for marriage: one man committed to one woman for the sake of the new lives created there.

Please join us in Spirit (or in person) as we fight for marriage (and a new generation) in Washington State on Friday, February 3, from 4-7pm (pst) at Hillcrest Chapel, 1400 Larrabee, Bellingham, WA, 98225. For more info, contact Ann Armstrong at aarmstrong@desertstream.org.

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Reduced to Mercy

Kenn Gulliksen, my original pastor and founder of the Vineyard, once said: ‘When you’ve lost mercy, you’ve lost your calling as a Christian.’ He’s right. I tend to assess ‘mercy’ levels in my heart as a gauge of how I am doing as a Christian.

And God is always faithful to reduce me to mercy when I have majored on other things. He does this through suffering, through the slow boil of real life that tends to burn off extraneous things and distill what matters.

In cooking terms, a ‘reduction’ involves the intensifying or thickening of a liquid mixture through boiling it. Some things evaporate, thus concentrating the flavor.

I won’t bore you with details on my ‘boiling points’; we all have them, and they either reduce us to the flavor of Jesus or burn up what is good until all that remains is a bitter, proud survivor. Hurtling oneself through hell into a self-generated resurrection does not interest me!

Survival of the fittest offers no hope for the weak. The survivalist can only advise: ‘Unless you get tough like me, you will perish.’ That’s a gospel of a different sort. I reject self-reliance on the basis of Mercy.

Mercy is God’s heart.

Why else would He pour out His very essence into a young Jewish girl and manifest Himself as a baby? Helpless and naked, God became the most dependent of mammals, subject to despots and debasement of all sorts. He reduced Himself for us in order to show us the little way of Mercy.

He invites us to celebrate our smallness. Humbled by our own helplessness, we worship the Child-King and entrust ourselves to the power reduced into His tiny frame.

Madeline L’Engle says it like this: ‘Power. Greater power than we can imagine, abandoned, as the Word knew the powerlessness of the unborn child, still unformed, taking up almost no space in the great ocean of amniotic fluid, unseeing, unhearing, unknowing. Slowly growing as any human embryo grows, arms and legs and a head, eyes, mouth, nose, slowly swimming into life until the ocean in the womb is no longer large enough and it is time for birth.

Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, Christ, the Maker of the universe, willingly and lovingly leaving all that power and coming to this poor, sin-filled planet to live with us for a few years to show us what we ought to be and could be…to show us what it means to be made in God’s image.’

He invites us to marvel at His Mercy. God reduced to an infant is the essence of Divine Mercy. One Hebrew word for mercy is ‘hesed’, or ‘unfailing love’; it conveys an objective, rather masculine mercy from the God who keeps His covenant with us, even when we disobey Him. Another Hebrew word for mercy is ‘rachamin’, and is feminine, rooted in ‘a mother’s womb’. ‘Rachamin’ is the mercy God feels for His afflicted ones the way a mother aches for her wayward child.

Baby Jesus is the fruit of God’s strong and objective yet deeply caring mercy for us. Jesus is a reduction, a distillation of His all-consuming passion to manifest His love for us.

Similarly, our good and wise God will employ hard things in our lives to reduce us to Himself. He is intent on our becoming like Himself, through the gift of Himself. He may just use suffering to get us there.

Alluding to Simeon’s prophecy about the Virgin Mary (‘and a sword shall pierce your heart’), Christoph Schonburg writes: ‘Mary triumphs through the sword in her heart, not in her hand.’ Similarly, as Christ-bearers, in the spirit of Mary, we are not exempt from the sword that reduces us to Mercy.

Over the last year, I have been pierced in ways that have caused me to cast myself on Him as never before. My prayer: ‘Let Mercy triumph over my judgments!’

Annette and I were sharing with our dear friends, Mike and Diane Nobrega, about our boiling points. Diane wisely responded: ‘God’s Mercy is being distilled in you and Desert Stream. What seems like loss is Him intensifying the anointing.’

“Remember that old praise song, with a chorus that goes: Jesus, reduce me to love?’’ she said, warbling her version of the song ‘Charity’.

You bet we do! ‘Charity’ was the one big fat hit that our pastor Kenn Gulliksen wrote and recorded in the seventies. Stumbling through the lyrics, we four called Kenn via speaker phone and requested some help. He gave us a brave solo version of his one claim to pop fame.

He sang ‘Jesus, reduce me to love’ in a voice trembling from years of piercings and unexpected mercies. Having lived the lyrics, he made it easy to receive them.

May Jesus reduce you to love this Christmas. He reduced Himself to Mercy that we too might be reduced to little else—flavorful, intense, generous Mercy.

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