Tag Archives: Spring

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

A Thousand Seeds

‘What you sow does not come to life unless it dies’ (1 Cor. 15:36).

Spring sings jazzy harmonies and awakens the dawn; ok, birds do, and Missouri has scads of them, as many and diverse as the freshly minted trees in which they perform. From Lent throughout spring, all the bare trunks of Kansas City morph into verdant choir lofts. Awesome. Nothing like a Midwest Easter.

Resurrection makes sense here. After lean, icy days of ‘dying’, this Californian comes alive. I take seriously John 12 when Jesus calls all of us to die again—to surrender afresh, so that the stubborn hard husk of the flesh can split open once more and release a thousand seeds into the good earth around us: you know, ‘Unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds’ (Jn. 12:24). I’ve found that aging doesn’t make you better—probably worse—save for assent to the rhythm of these blessed days—death to life, transforming our same new sins into flowers.

Flowers. I’ve a neat story here about hyssop, a soothing plant with purple flowers associated with healing: its stalk used to wet the mouth of dying Jesus, Jn. 19:29; David cried: ‘Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be whiter than snow,’ Ps. 51: 7.

Back to story. Our jarring move from Orange County to Missouri 15-years-ago was eased by buying a home perched like a tree house upon a golf course which had a wilderness patch freed from all tending, free to tell its own story. Every window invited us to engage the seasons. Marvelous. I discovered the difference between annuals (plants that die every year) and perennials (plants that resurrect.) Of the latter, hyssop was my favorite: hardy, elegant, fragrant.

That house eased a slew of culture clashes; I clung to it as a refuge from the minor losses we incurred in our new locale. But when the house no longer served Annette well, I knew we had to leave. This began a downward ascent—first a comically broken-down rental then the purchase of another house in need of overhaul in a relatively sketchy neighborhood. We moved from one to the other on a bleak autumn day—the sky spitting freezing wads at us—and all I had to show for my days of tilling the soil was two pots of dormant hyssop. They sat forlorn all winter in our uncultivated yard, nearly an acre, with no golf course gardeners in view.

Come spring, I was surprised to witness dozens of little hyssop plants emerging from the pots. I cleared a rim around our large back and transferred them. They flourished and I transplanted more and more in the summer. Still the same after the next winter until this gracious purple gift hemmed in the entire backyard. Today as I hear birds singing and survey new shoots emerging, I am grateful. In this land, not entirely ours, I witness the first day of God’s new creation.

‘See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come’ (S of S 2: 11, 12a).

Please take time to watch our video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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Polish Spring

‘See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come.’ (SS 2:11, 12)

Amid abuse and cover-up, confusion from Pope Francis regarding homosexuality and Irish citizens overturning their abortion ban, the Spirit of Pentecost enveloped a hundred of us in Krakow Poland who gathered for our second Living Waters Training there.

We couldn’t stop singing, and the Spirit kept raining on us as we offered our brokenness to the Crucified in tears and joy. Surrounding our songs was a chorus of birds that worshipped day and night in huge trees that flanked us on every side.

Trainings are just that: arduous, messy, shame and glory, revelation amid hard reality. Why now after seven 16-hour-days am I refreshed? All I know is that I was buoyed, as if I caught a current of the Kingdom and knew intuitively how to navigate the waters. Extraordinary.

It is easy for an outsider to idealize this land of St. John Paul ll and St. Faustina. Traditional values are evident (Poland is not sympathetic to ‘reproductive rights’ and LGBT+ aspirations) and create a kind of moral clarity not evident in America or Western Europe. The Church here is cohesive, a national rallying point amid devastating historic batterings. To many Poles, Jesus through His Mother (Church) sustained the nation’s hope and dignity throughout centuries.

Yet good ethics and history can become prison bars unless the Spirit liberates wounded lives. The Poles may be clearer in their devotion to Christ than many Europeans today but they are no less broken by their bloody history, which gave rise to deep patterns of family disorder, including disordered church dynamics.

For these reasons, I take heart that many Poles are facing their wounds forthrightly with each other. I am in awe of men and women we have now walked with for three years who are different people today: joyful, not glum, with a new well-being in their gendered, bodily humanity. They no longer avoid others’ gaze. One young woman whom I first met in Lithuania couldn’t walk unassisted due to the oppression of her sin and wounds. During this training she bounded around the site, taught better than I did, and will return refreshed to her hometown to lead a Living Water group which is changing the culture of her church.

Most importantly, the nine Polish priests who attended the training taught and shared openly about their wounds and sins against chastity. They honored their office by making clear they live through the wounds of Jesus discovered in His broken merciful members. They released deep drafts of mercy for all of us. We exhausted them and each other in laying bare our need for ongoing conversion.

Wearied in doing well, we welcomed the Spirit’s refreshment. He is accomplishing in the Polish Church what we can only hope for. A Polish Spring, welling up with song in the Spirit of Pentecost: He will have His way with His Church.

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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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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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Jesus: A Fountain of Living Water

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

Jesus: A Fountain of Living Water

40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012 – Day 9

O inexhaustible spring of Divine Mercy, pour Yourself out upon us! Your goodness knows no limits. Confirm , O Lord, the power of Your mercy over the abyss of our misery, for You have no limits to Your mercies. (819)

If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, streams of living water will flow from within him. (John 7:37, 8)

Jesus, remind us how You stoop down to sinners in order to raise us up. Remove the shame that bars us from Your Presence. We pray for all who still hide from You in shame; let ‘Living Water’ flow to them. Use Your servants to make known to the shamed how You draw near to them in order to set them free.

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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