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Heritage 2011

Heritage 2011

A dear friend recently eulogized his mother with these words: ‘You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.’ (PS 61:5) The Psalmist refers to God as the giver; my friend added to that his acknowledgement of the faith he inherited from his good, god-fearing mother.

I contemplated the reference to fearing God. What does that mean? Uncomfortable with fear in our therapeutic age, certain that all shame is bad and that honoring anything greater than ourselves is a set up for abuse, we refuse to link fear with faith in God.

What a loss. To me the fear of God takes our faith and trust in His goodness and anchors it in His holy power. Fearing Him means a healthy reckoning that He is God and we are not, that He alone holds the keys to life and death, and that we do well to take His ways seriously and make them our own. Or else.

Or else what? I don’t know for sure, but I don’t want to find out the hard way. Nor do I want my kids to meander in misty notions of grace without the hard truth of sin’s consequences. Annette and I have made it our absolute priority that our kids know that their main inheritance is the fear of the Lord. It’s not education or good humor or well-intentioned acts—it’s about knowing God as revealed in Christ Jesus, full of grace and truth.

This year, Annette and we are grateful that each of our kids is centered in God. After many detours, they love Him and possess a healthy fear of Him. They respect His power as well as the power of sin; they try to steer clear of those strongholds most familiar to them.

This year, Sam fought to remain free from friends he could not handle and free for fellowship. He has also worked really hard this year to become financially responsible. He intends to become a middle-school teacher.  We witness the success of his efforts to grow in godliness. He has a deep heart for God and for weak humanity.

Katie is excelling at Beeson Seminary in Alabama. She has found her niche as a budding theologian and a woman who loves the Church. Both are rooted in humble reliance on God. She re-upped to serve on one of our healing teams before she left. She told me she did so because she felt weak in some relational areas, and to serve others was a good way to stay clean and strong. What a daughter, a Christian after my own heart!

Nick married beautiful Meg last May. He was already busy in his Pittsburg-based seminary, running marathons—as focused as one dares to be. The day before the two wed, he received an offer to come on staff at a turned-on Anglican parish in Kansas City. He took the job, and life changed fast. Nick amazed me in how he cared for Meg in this process of rapid change. She chose to leave a good job back east and Nick took seriously her loss and needs. Much competes for his attention, but Meg wins first place. God has trained him in the way of love.

Greg and Christina celebrated their first year anniversary last September after landing his first job in a law firm in Colombia MO. The year preceding, Greg fought hard to secure a job. Caught in the undertow of the recession, his high-standing as a graduate meant little to nothing. The way that he endured multiple, exhaustive interviews to no avail amazed me. He struggled to not fear his law-school debt or to doubt his own adequacy. He feared the Lord, and fought hard to stay centered in what was true. He lives out his heritage well.

Annette and I have sought one true thing: that our kids would receive the heritage of ‘those who fear His Name.’ We are deeply grateful for those of you who prayed and fought for our godly fear. Thank you.

In 2012, may the Lord bless and build you up in your inheritance as children of a holy, loving God.

‘His Mercy extends to those who fear Him from generation to generation.’ – (Luke 1:50)

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Kingdom of Saints

I had never led a healing service for a group of Catholics before. And although I have been translated many times in Spanish, the language difference this time unnerved me.

Before I could say a word, the worship team played John Wimber’s ‘Spirit Song’. I could not believe it: a song from the seventies written by the healing apostle that made a way for Living Waters to go to the nations, a song that still conveys the essence of Kingdom Mercy: ‘O let the Son of God enfold you, with His Spirit and His Love, let Him fill your heart and satisfy your soul. O give Him all your tears of sadness, give Him all your years of pain, and you’ll enter into Life in Jesus’ Name…’

I looked throughout the packed auditorium in Guadalajara, Mexico and saw young men and women seeking healing from same-sex attraction and their parents, all wondering: ‘Is the love of Jesus really enough to redeem such a deep tendency?’

Wimber’s legacy flooded back to me. Kingdom Mercy was flowing like a mighty current from the cross, breaking fear and shame. He moves mountains in the soul, and grants willing souls the dignity to make new decisions in light of His holy purposes for them.

The Kingdom came through Communion with St. John. His song summoned his essence, and empowered me to extend the rule of Love, the reign of God’s Kingdom.

We operate in Christ due to the great cloud of witnesses, some alive on earth, some alive in Heaven, who have made a way for us to advance Kingdom purposes.

The Church is not just the man or woman next to you on the pew. The Church consists of all the saints who have followed Jesus and who continue to cry out for Mercy to reign on the earth through the obedience of you and me.

My pastor recently taught on how Spanish St. Teresa of Avila in the 16th century ‘discipled’ French St. Therese de Lisieux in the 19th century who in turn became the patron saint of Albanian Mother Theresa of Calcutta in our day.

Heaven helps us. All my days I shall minister in the shadow of faithful ones like John Wimber whose legacy and spirit continues to empower and inform my efforts.

Following the closing mass in Guadalajara, we prayed for three hours for all seeking more healing (everyone in the room!) As men and women fell under the power of the Spirit, received prophecies, had demons cast out, and received ‘gracelets’ of restoration, I knew that Jesus and His witnesses hovered over us. It is easy to do His will. We are neither lean nor alone; we labor with the host of Heaven, rich and dense with anointing from on high.

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The Gaze From The Cross, Part 4

Day 19 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

The Gaze from the Cross, Part 4  (Please also read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)

‘When I was dying on the cross, I was not thinking about Myself but about sinners, and I prayed for them to the Father.’ (324)

Prayer for sinners to enter into God’s Mercy must become action: intercession primes our hearts with God’s intentions for them. What a privilege to steep loved ones in God’s merciful heart for them! Prayer then looses merciful words and actions toward each one.

I love that rhythm: we live out of God’s pure Blood and Water, sourced at Calvary. We live from those ‘waters’, longing for loved ones to find their place in the pool. We cry out to God to open their eyes and hearts to their need for that Mercy. In that process we become ambassadors of Mercy, an answer to our own prayers.

That requires good hard work, in prayer and deeds. Jesus describes it best in the Parable of the Fruitless Fig Tree. A man owned a vineyard with a tree that failed to bear fruit; he thus ordered the gardener to destroy it. The gardener pleaded with the owner: ‘Leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ (Lk. 13:8, 9)

We too look at the lives of ‘fruitless’ loved ones. No longer ‘abiding in the vine’, they thus fail to bear fruit. (Jn. 15:4, 5) We cry out to God: ‘Spare them as we make every effort to fertilize their lives in prayer and action.’ We then seek the Lord, asking for divine wisdom as we seek to be timely, inspired ambassadors of Mercy for them.

My son Sam had an extended season of hurt and disappointment in his life. He wandered in the wilderness, far from home. He knew the ‘house rules’, that we would not support his addictions; at the same time, he wanted freedom from the shame of our scrutiny and freedom for his autonomy.

We ached for our beloved son. When we saw him, we ached more because we could see the impact of his wandering: an afflicted, progressively sterile soul. Because we knew him well and loved him so, it was not difficult to bear with him. We asked God to inspire little acts of kindness and choice words that might break up hard ground and mirror his fruitful potential.

We prayed for Sam to behold his own fruitlessness; we asked for incidents that might shake him and cause him to yearn for something deeper and truer within.

Jesus’ Mercy prevailed. Sam lost his job and began to lose patience with his empty way of life. He returned home. Humbled, he began to cooperate with Jesus. Hail the Merciful One who mercifully prunes and fortifies the afflicted, helping them to bear lasting fruit.

‘As God has made us sharers in His Mercy, and even more than that, dispensers of that Mercy, we should therefore have great love for each soul…’ (539)

‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.’ (Jn. 15:7, 8)

‘Sow for yourselves righteousness, and reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers righteousness on you.’ (Hos. 10:12)

‘Jesus, we cry out for our fruitless ones. Give us time to prepare the ground of their hearts to welcome You afresh. We ask for the rain of Your Mercy in their lives; use whatever You must to break up the fallow ground. Help us to grant each what (s)he really needs. We set these ones apart for Your purposes, O God. Make them fruitful once more, in Your Name and by Your Mercy.’

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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