Author: Peter Herbeck

Reflections on Ralph Martin’s 1975 Prophecy

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Pictured above, Ralph Martin met with Pope Paul VI. The pope also was present at the closing Mass of the 1975 International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference, after which Ralph shared the prophecy that Peter Herbeck reflects on today.

The following text came from a talk I shared today on Renewal Ministries’ YouTube channel.

I hope you’re walking in the peace and comfort of the Lord Jesus in these days. These are trying and challenging times, but times that are not outside of God’s will. God has a great purpose for this hour for the Church and for the salvation of the world. I want to follow on the lead that my good friend Ralph Martin took last week when he reflected on a YouTube video on a prophetic word that Fr. Michael Scanlan gave in 1976—a prophecy that I had read a number of times over the years, and had prayed through, and which I really felt the Lord was speaking to us through.

We know St. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians, “Don’t quench the Spirit, don’t despair of prophecy either, but test everything, and cling to what is good.” It’s great to hear that word from Fr. Mike, to be able to chew on it and discern what the Lord is saying to us. I really do think it helps us understand this moment.

I’d like to reflect on a prophecy Ralph gave in 1975 at the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference at the Basilica at St. Peter’s in Rome. He gave it at the closing Mass, after Communion, after a time of worship and quiet:

“Because I love you, I want to show you what I am doing in the world today. I want to prepare you for what is to come. Days of darkness are coming on the world, days of tribulation. . . . Buildings that are now standing will not be standing. Supports that are there for my people now will not be there. I want you to be prepared, my people, to know only Me and to cleave to Me and to have Me in a way deeper than ever before. I will lead you into the desert. . . . I will strip you of everything that you are depending on now, so you depend just on Me. A time of darkness is coming on the world, but a time of glory is coming for my Church, a time of glory is coming for my people. I will pour out on you all the gifts of my Spirit. I will prepare you for spiritual combat; I will prepare you for a time of evangelism that the world has never seen. . . . And when you have nothing but Me, you will have everything: land, fields, homes, and brothers and sisters and love and joy and peace more than ever before. Be ready, my people, I want to prepare you.”

I wasn’t at this particular meeting, but over the years, I have spoken to a number of people who were there, and collectively, a lot of leaders from around the world really experienced the confirmation of the Holy Spirit in the moment.

I think it’s wonderful that it begins, “Because I love you.” The Old Testament describes that God reveals his secrets to the prophets. He lets key prophetic people who He wants to communicate through bring encouragement to his Church and help them see what the Lord is doing. As the Spirit is poured out on all flesh, the Spirit is meant to lead us. The Spirit wants to speak to us and speaks through different people at different times.

This was a very important moment, I think, in the history of the Church. It says, “Days of darkness are coming on the world, days of tribulation.” Unquestionably, there have been times in different parts of the world since 1975 that people have experienced this, but I think maybe we are living in one of the most unique periods in the history of the world and the Church. Just beginning in January and February with the Coronavirus, the whole world shut down because it was responding to this unseen enemy that was taking life, and it looked like lives were going to be taken in huge numbers all around the world. Humanity not only was stopped and brought off the treadmill of the world, but was forced to confront its own mortality. The strategy of the devil is always to enslave the human race through the fear of death. There was a moment when he wanted to enslave the world even more in the grip of fear. In that time, what happened? Our businesses were shut down, the quarantine happened, and our economy went from the strongest in the world to the point where it almost collapsed, and it’s still unclear where it’s going. There are signs, but clearly, that was shaken. Our confidence in our health, security, and the rest—that was shaken.

And just as we come out of quarantine, the experience of what happened with George Floyd, the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the nuclear bomb that went off, in terms of the response to it around the world, and the fact that it touched a deep, unhealed wound in the life of the United States, in the history of our life and culture. Some people responded appropriately to it, but there was also the spirit of anarchy, the spirit of revolution, disordered spirits, and there’s a whole lot of shaking there. There’s shaking in the security we have in the government, there’s shaking in the security we have in our finances, there’s shaking in our own health and what the future looks like, there’s shaking and lack of trust in politics and politicians, in the news organizations that used to be trusted many years ago, and people are on shaky ground.

One of the things the prophecy reveals is that He’s shaking the nations because many are clinging to things that are contingent—they are shakable, and we’re putting ultimate attention and value on them, treating them as ultimate in some kind of way, and they’re not. The only thing that’s unshakeable, as Hebrews 12 tells us, is God. The Lord is allowing these trials to come, first, to get our attention. Many good teachers on YouTube and other places are saying that they sense the Lord drawing his people near and drawing his Church close to Him, and the prophecy talks about it in those very terms:

“Days of darkness are coming on the world, days of tribulation. . . . Buildings that are now standing will not be standing. Supports that are there for my people now will not be there. I want you to be prepared, my people, to know only Me and to cleave to Me and to have Me in a way deeper than ever before.”

Why these trials? Because the Lord doesn’t have the attention of his people and the attention of a world that’s building a whole worldview and way of life that acts as if God doesn’t even exist, with very little real serious reference to God—when the reality is we’re made by God; we’re made for God; this is his creation. The only place we can come to safety, where we can overcome the enemies in our world, is in the Lord, in Christ, in God Himself. He’s offered his life to us, his salvation, in his Son—and in more and more ways, people are ignoring Him, and falling away from the Church, partly because the Lord has permitted the sins of the compromise of the Church be exposed over the past decade. The Lord wants his body to be clinging to Him and not other kinds of security, other kinds of distraction, other kinds of comfort.

To be His; to belong to Him; to be living in the First Commandment; to belong to God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, as Jesus said in the Last Supper discourse—this is what He called us to when He said, “You’re my friends, and I’m drawing near to you. I’m going to give you my Spirit.” If you pay attention, He’s going to be living in you like living water. He’s going to live in you and refresh you. He’s going to speak to you, and He’s going to lead you to all truth, and so follow.

He says, “I want you to be prepared, my people, to know only Me and to cleave to Me and to have Me in a way deeper than ever before. I will lead you into the desert.” That’s where we’ve been for the last number of months, and we may, in one way or another, be staying there. The key thing is, even though things are unfolding, and we’re trying to get the economy going again, there’s a lot of responsibility more and more people are carrying. So whatever burden you might be in, and whatever challenge is there, remember as we go forward that the Lord has called us to draw near. No matter how busy, how challenged things are, stay in conversation with the Lord. Pay attention to Him—because what matters most is the word that He has for us. The Church needs to understand that the Church itself is going to stay under the discipline of the Lord, the redemptive discipline of a loving God who’s seeking to purify his Church and draw it near.

Hebrews 12 says, “The Lord’s discipline is on those He loves.” Why? He wants to produce peaceful fruit of righteousness in us. He wants to bring us back to right relationship with Him. He wants to expose our hearts so that we can humbly bow down before Him and pay attention, even if we only do it a few minutes a day, a little bit of time every day. Don’t let the responsibilities and the pressure push the Lord to the margins. The key—for us individually, for our families, for the whole Church, for the salvation of the world—is to pay attention now, to become radically His, to belong to Him.

This is exactly what He was saying: “cleave to Me.” We’re not to cleave to these other things. The Lord is exposing their emptiness and how quickly they can be gone. But He’s there forever. He’s the rock upon which we stand—the only unshakable reality in all of existence—and He’s come for us. He wants us to live from a place of security, leaning on Him, and knowing ourselves where He is going, so we can read the signs of the times and respond to what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

“I will strip you of everything that you are depending on now, so you depend just on me.” This is a word for each of us, not just a few people, but the entire Church. The Lord is leading us into this because of what’s coming. “A time of darkness is coming on the world, but a time of glory is coming for my Church.”  Both things are happening. Both will continue to escalate—the escalation of the challenge and the darkness. There’s a way in which the world will never be the same. We’ll never go back, exactly, to what we had. I think the intensity of the spiritual battle will increase. But as the grace of God increases in us and the glory of the Lord is revealed more and more in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, we can see the majesty, and we can have the wisdom and insight into the Lord, and we ourselves will be strengthened. We’re going to experience more of Him, and that’s what He wants us to know—that we don’t have to be afraid. No matter how much shaking goes on, no matter how much the devil tries to have happen, the Lord’s got this end game in mind, and He’s right there with us, and all He needs is for us to walk with Him and to surrender and to give Him everything in our lives—to put Him at the center of it all.

“A time of darkness is coming on the world, but a time of glory is coming for my Church, a time of glory is coming for my people. I will pour out on you all the gifts of my Spirit. I will prepare you for spiritual combat; I will prepare you for a time of evangelism that the world has never seen.”

I believe that. I believe that for all who surrender and walk in Him now and come under his loving order and discipline and purification of his Church, He’s pouring into us and leading us to align our lives in the right way as the saints talk about—to love the first thing first, to love God first in our hearts—because God wants to fulfill with great glory and splendor in each of our lives the purpose for which we’re made. He’s saying to us, “You don’t trust me yet. Come, let me expose the fear that’s in you, the insecurity, the attachment to idols. Let me take it away from you to free your heart, so you can hear my voice and you can have the strength of the Spirit at work in you and bear my fruits, because the days are coming when the grace for a profound global evangelism is coming on the earth.”

I really believe it. In 1990, Ralph Martin, a team of people, and I were praying in a planning meeting, and someone shared a prophetic word. When they did, the Holy Spirit came down in tremendous power in the room, and there was lots of worship, and I personally experienced what was one of the most significant experiences of my life. I experienced God, and I felt the Holy Spirit, and I was just shaking. I had a vision, and in the vision what I saw was a glimpse of the Lord on his throne, and He stood up, and He said, “I’ve risen from my throne to proceed my coming. There will be a revelation of the Son of Man in your lifetime.” Then He took a step forward, and I just experienced the holy, pure fear of God. I was shouting, “Oh, my God! He’s so awesome! He’s so glorious! He’s so amazing!” I think it’s one of the guiding things I’ve believed deeply in my bones since that day.

You know how in each of our lives there are a few moments where God really broke in? That was one of those moments, and I think this prophecy from 1975 also confirms it. “Evangelism that the world has never seen.” That’s what this is all about. The key is for us to be surrendered and attentive to the Lord, because it’s all about Him. In his time, and in his way, as He leads us through purification, He’s going to increase his light, his glory, his presence, and his power. He’s going to reveal Himself.

The answer for the Church and the world isn’t more strategy or higher IQs. It isn’t going to the right college, it isn’t our tech power, it’s not our bank account. All these things, they exist and they’re powerful, but they’re totally secondary. God made the world through his Son. He’s enthroned Him and set Him at his right hand. All authority, power, and the destiny of human life are in the hands of the King. As the apostles said themselves, “Judgment has been given over to the Son” (Jn 5:22)—final judgment, but also judgment at this time, when He comes with tough love and the right kind of love we need, so that, as a friend of mine said, whatever it takes to get rid of whatever hinders God’s love—He’ll do it.

What stands in the way of our receiving and walking in his love and commandments? This is an exciting time. It’s a time of purification. It’s a time for us to face our fears. It’s time for us to face our compromises. It’s time for us to bow low in humility and say, “Lord, Father, send the Son. Come, Holy Spirit, send the Lord Jesus. Reveal his glory and majesty. Lord, reveal your glory in the Church and in the world.”

This, I think, is the heart of what God and the Holy Spirit are doing. The Lord wants each and every one of us to be a part of it. There’s no one too small. This is not about the elites and the experts going out. This is the children of God beginning to cry out to God. When his glory is revealed, part of what happens is the fear of the Lord, which is a beautiful thing—not a slavish fear, but a cleansing, purifying, amazing fear that orders us—and we see God in his greatness, and people in the world begin converting, and the Church begins getting purified. The Church has tried in so many ways to make it all happen, and the Lord is leading us to experience our powerlessness. So many of our efforts fall flat: many people leaving the Church, fewer people giving money to dioceses and parishes in financial crisis, etc. Its happening in many places all around the world. But the Lord is allowing it to happen—until we come to a place where we say, like this prophecy, “draw near,” and we see Him, and we say, “We’ve got everything we need. I don’t know what I was thinking, why I was relying on so many other things. Lord, I give You my life. I’m all in. Let’s go.”

I think that’s a big part of what the Lord wants to produce in us. Every one of us is called to be a part of it. Let’s just say “yes” to Him. Let’s bow down and say, “Lord, re-order my loves. Let me love the right thing. Let me love first things first. Let me love You at the center of my life. Lord, I give You everything: my time, talent, and treasure. Lord, change my heart. Change my mind. Let me live in the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit.”

. . . .

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‘Walk by the Spirit’ in the Year Ahead

This letter originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ January 2020 newsletter.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Ralph has asked me to share a few thoughts about a resolution we can make that has the potential to yield abundant fruit in the year ahead!

This is the time of year that many people make new resolutions, most of which are attempts to break old, less-healthy habits, and to begin to build positive ones. Often the resolutions are focused on getting healthy, developing the right eating habits, exercising more consistently, living a more balanced life, and in some cases, attempting to align behavior and thought-life with higher values and goals.

I’d like to challenge all of us to make a life-changing resolution: to embrace St. Paul’s exhortation to “walk by the Spirit” (Gal 5:25). To “walk by the Spirit” means to have fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and in its simplest expression, fellowship with the Spirit means to talk to the Holy Spirit.

That all may seem obvious, but let me ask you a few questions. When was the last time you spoke to the Holy Spirit? Can you recognize His voice? Do you live with a vivid realization that God the Holy Spirit dwells in you, “that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, which you have from God?” (1 Cor 6:19).

I’m not asking the question of whether you believe the dogmatic truth that the Holy Spirit dwells in you; I’m asking if you have a growing, maturing relationship with Him? A simple way to answer that question is to ask yourself whether you talk to the Holy Spirit on a regular, daily basis? I’m not asking the question to judge or criticize but to help us honestly take stock of whether or not we are walking in the full relationship with the Holy Spirit.

That’s important because it is the key to a healthy, vital Christian life. That relationship is what enables us to walk in virtue, to come into the promises of God, and to begin to experience the “full joy” and “full life” that Jesus promised. These graces and promises come to life in us through our relationship with the Holy Spirit.

This kind of relationship with the Holy Spirit, one that is personal and deeply rewarding, is possible because He is a person! Think about it: God the Holy Spirit dwells in you—the third person of the Trinity! For what purpose? To reveal the Father and the Son to you, personally.  St. Paul reminds us so beautifully that the “Spirit himself witnesses to our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:16).

Stop to consider what’s being said here: God himself lives in you—within the deepest part of you, in your spirit. The Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead, is at work in you! He comes to bear witness to your inner man, to bring convincing power to your spirit, to help you see, and to give you experiential knowledge and unshakable conviction that you are a child of God.

The Holy Spirit brings so much to us: He advocates for us, He counsels us, He literally makes us “born again,” a new creation. He is the power that makes us children of God, the one who leads us to all truth and who anoints us to carry on Jesus’ mission. Above all, He is the down payment, the first installment, the “guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it” (Eph 1:14)—of “an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled and unfading” (1 Pt 1:4). He enables us to “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pt 1:4).

Let’s resolve to set our minds on the One who dwells within. Jesus said, “the kingdom of God is within you” (Lk 17:21). It’s so easy to fall into the habit of thinking that God is “out their somewhere,” distant. And we try, through our prayers, to get Him interested, hoping that He will hear us, that He will draw near. Too often, we forget the fact that He couldn’t be closer to us, and that all we need to do is to turn to Him in the quiet of our hearts. That is where He is, always, every day, around the clock. He longs to meet you there, to talk with you.

To walk by the Spirit, we must talk to the Spirit. That’s how we grow. Even more, however—we must listen to the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t speak audibly—at least not very often–but He does make Himself known in ways we can understand: through subtle impressions; inspired thoughts; and encouragements, perhaps even the words or actions of others, all of which release new life and power within. To hear Him, we need to seek Him, to listen quietly for his “still, small voice” in the silence of our hearts. If we seek to engage Him, we will find Him; if we listen attentively, we will begin to hear and recognize his voice. The power He releases is often small, but real, and it produces the fruit of genuine transformation.

To talk with Him isn’t complicated; it’s simple. It may be difficult at first because we’re not used to it. Begin with small steps. Make a point to set aside a few minutes four or five times a day, just to speak with Him. Engage Him with simple words: “Holy Spirit, I love you.” “Please help me hear and understand You.” “Thank You for the way You love me.” “Help me understand what You think and what You feel about me, my life, and my family.”  “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Let the words flow from your heart, not in formal, lengthy prayers, but with childlike simplicity. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

If we resolve to go deeper in the Spirit—to engage Him from the heart on a daily basis, developing a more consistent and simple habit of prayer, He will change us. This is the place of healing and transformation, the place of freedom and life, the place where we begin to touch the full joy Jesus promised.

This is the only kind of resolution that ultimately will bring the personal transformation we long for, a transformation that is strong enough to bring healing to a deeply divided, confused, and lost world.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful ones, and enkindle the fire of your love!

Archbishop Chaput Cautions Faithful Regarding Fr. James Martin’s Claims

(CNS photo/Paul Haring.)

Dear Readers,

We want to encourage you to visit CatholicPhilly.com to read a statement issued by Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap, yesterday regarding some of the claims of Fr. James Martin, SJ.

We believe Chaput is the first major archbishop in the US to publicly address these concerns regarding Fr. James Martin. His statement is a step in the right direction; it definitely is much better than silence.

In particular, we wish to draw your attention to the clarity Archbishop Chaput offers in the following statements:

  1. Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church.
  2. Authentic conversion and discipleship necessarily include living a life of chastity.
  3. Justice and mercy require that LGBTQ men and women hear the truth about human sexuality spoken clearly and confidently.

You can read the entirety of Archbishop Chaput’s statement at CatholicPhilly.com. Let’s hope this move encourages and emboldens other solid bishops to also “be not afraid” to speak the truth on such matters.

In Christ,

Peter Herbeck

What the Spirit is Saying to the Church Today

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This letter originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ August 2019 newsletter.

Dear Friends,

We’re living through challenging times. Even in the midst of this season of “severe mercy” that has come upon the Church, we have much to celebrate. It is the Lord who is purifying and expressing His covenant love and faithfulness to us: “Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten” (Rv 3:19). Jesus is purifying His Church, exposing sin, and applying a redemptive discipline, not simply to punish or to reveal our shame, but to produce a response of zealous repentance. He wants change, radical change of heart, especially, but not exclusively, in her leaders.

I recently was praying through the seven letters to the churches in the book of Revelation. There is much to learn in them about the Lord, how deeply concerned He is about the health of His Church, the direct way He identifies the spiritual sicknesses in her, and the specific nature of His diagnosis and remedies. And He is clear about what kind of response He expects from His Church, and the consequences that will follow if they resist His leadership and refuse to repent.

I really believe we’re living through a similar kind of serious pastoral intervention by the Lord. As a result, the letters can provide helpful insight as we seek to understand our own situation before the Lord. One thing is clear, the Church today is crippled by some of the same maladies that Jesus addresses in the letters.

To the Church in Sardis, He says: “I know your works; you have the name of being alive, and you are dead” (Rv 3:1). Wow! What a direct diagnosis! What a wonderful physician! The body is dying. It looks good on the outside, riding high on its reputation, but inside it is dead and dying. His remedy is: “Awake, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of God” (Rv 3:2). Nothing escapes the penetrating gaze of Jesus the Lord. How many churches look good on the outside and have a good reputation, but are not producing mature fruit? Is it a community that is living out the Great Commandment, growing in radical love of God and neighbor? Are they passionately engaged in the Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19)? Jesus’ instruction to them is clear: “Remember then what you have received and heard; keep that, and repent” (Rv 3:3). The consequence of not responding are clear. “If you will not awake, I will come like a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you” (Rv 3:3).

To the Church in Thyatira he says: “I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance” (Rv 2:19). This was a church that was alive in many ways, yet Jesus identifies a serious problem among them. Their leaders are tolerating the false prophetess Jezebel, who is “teaching and beguiling my servants to practice immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols” (Rv 2:20). The leaders, and to some degree the church as a whole, was tolerant of false teaching and immoral, idolatrous behavior in the community. The community was being defiled by serious sin that was profoundly offensive to God, and if not repented of, would lead to eternal death. How many parishes in our countries could be given the exact same diagnosis? How many bishops of dioceses, pastors of parishes, and rectors of seminaries have tolerated false teaching by those who beguile the sheep? How many leaders, even lay leaders, never say a word out of the fear of men?

It is instructive to note that Jesus said that He “gave her (Jezebel) time to repent, but she refused to repent of her immorality” (Rv 2:21). When she refused, He made the consequences clear: “Behold, I will throw her on a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her doings, and I will strike her children dead” (Rv 2:22). Again, wow! That is Jesus shepherding His Church. Listen closely to His diagnosis, His remedies, and His warnings. This is the voice of Love. It is not harsh, mean, judgmental, intolerant, or hateful; it is truth, coming from a heart of perfect Love.

There are extremely important lessons here that Jesus is teaching us. We all have areas of service and responsibility that Jesus has given to us—our marriages and families, our businesses, parishes, dioceses, institutions of learning, etc. They all belong to Him. We belong to Him. He has entrusted them to us and expects us to follow His leadership in exercising our responsibility over them.

How many priests and bishops, and how many of us, have been given “time to repent” but haven’t? How many of us have decided to “go along to get along” or have failed to act because of inordinate self-love, a fear of not being liked, or to avoid conflict? Jesus came to the false prophetess in mercy, but when she ignored Him, He applied an appropriate remedy: a severe mercy. The purpose of His loving judgment is to remove all that hinders love.

To follow in Jesus’ footsteps takes courage, especially today. But we should all take heart. Jesus is zealous to not only root out sin, but to forgive us and provide us with the strength we need to love as He loves in every situation.

Jesus’ ultimate concern is to do what it takes to bring each one of us home to the Father, and to share with us the riches of His own glory. To those who conquer, He promises great rewards!

It is a great blessing for us to be living in these difficult days. It provides us opportunities to bear witness to the One we love, to receive His grace to join the army of loyal friends and faithful witnesses who “conquered him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, because they loved not their lives even unto death.” (Rv 12:11) May these words someday be said of each one of us. Come, Holy Spirit!

‘Keeping Our Heads in All Situations’

 

The following letter from Peter Herbeck originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ February 2019 newsletter, which you can view here.

Dear Friends,

I’ve been thinking and praying for all of you—all of us—who are living through these unprecedented times for the Church. These are chaotic and destabilizing times, filled with sorrow, anger, confusion, and fear for many people. It is without a doubt a time of great testing for all of us.

One of the constant questions I get from people is, “How do I respond to this? What should I do?” A great deal of helpful practical advice has been given on how to help the leaders of the Church, bishops, and priests to cooperate with this time of purification. But more needs to be said about how we can, as St. Paul puts it, “keep our heads in all situations” (2 Tm 4:5), especially in times of hardship and great testing. The teaching of Jesus and the apostles is a great help in times like these.

Keeping the big picture in mind is key to helping us live above the circumstances and to see in the trials great opportunity to grow in maturity as a disciple. St. Peter exhorts us to “not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you” (2 Pt 4:12). All of us are being proved, tested by the crisis in the Church. This “fiery ordeal” is a self-inflicted wound, the result of serious failures and scandalous behavior of leadership.

The scandalous behavior is a shock to the system, but it shouldn’t ultimately be a surprise or too strange for us to understand. Jesus told us that we would have great tribulations in this world and that we would see and experience scandal, the kind witnessed even among the twelve apostles. Among Jesus’ closest friends, those He knew best, the ones He trusted the most: one betrayed Him and another denied even knowing Him, at the moment Jesus needed them most. Sin, failure, and betrayal among leaders is scandalous, but it shouldn’t ultimately take us by surprise.

As disciples, we know, or should know, human weakness. We also know that we’re living in an “evil age,” in a fallen world that is “in the power of the evil one” (1 Jn 5:19). The world is a battle field; the Church is at war, every single day, against powerful principalities and powers deployed against us. What we are seeing writ large is the same struggle we all face, the daily temptations and seductions of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Jesus is showing mercy in this severe discipline and judgment that has come upon the Church. He is at work, shining light into the darkness, removing the chains and breaking the strongholds that are binding the Church. He’s revealing the consequences of sin, the depth to which even clergymen, religious leaders, can fall. We’re seeing the face of sin, and this, friends, is a great and severe mercy.

This is a moment for all of us to take stock, to examine our lives in the light of Jesus. He is disciplining His Church, and in that He is testing each one of us. Where are we in relationship to His call in our lives? Are we giving Him everything? Are we putting Him first? Are we fulfilling the assignment He has given to each one of us? Are we passionately, completely dedicated to bringing the kingdom and the will of the Father into every area He has given us responsibility for? Are we living in the wisdom of the eternal perspective, knowing with confidence and certainty that we, each one us, will soon be standing before the judgment seat of Christ, giving an account for what we have done with what He has given to us?

St. Paul gives us a beautiful perspective to live by, especially in these days:

“So we are always of good courage . . . whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body” (2 Cor 5:6, 9-10).

Despite the many trials, persecutions, punishments, disappointments, and failures in the Church, St. Paul has his eye on the climax of his life, the ultimate moment that he knows with certainty lies before him: his appearing before the judgment seat of Christ. This certainty fills Paul with what he himself describes as “the fear of the Lord,” which gives him clarity and wisdom on how to live in the moment, not matter what circumstances he is facing. The only thing that matters is to live in a way that pleases the Lord. It simplifies his life in the midst of constant complexity. It gives him wisdom, the ability to know how to live well, to live an authentically fulfilling life, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, to do the will of the Father. Nothing else matters. Period.

This is where Jesus is leading the Church. He wants to awaken the fear of the Lord in all of us so that we can have wisdom. He has brought us to a point of decision: are we going to live in the fear of men, which necessarily leads to foolishness and slavery, or are we going to fear God and live in the freedom of the sons and daughters of God?

Let’s not let this trial pass without harvesting everything Jesus has for us personally and corporately. I believe in my bones that the Renewal Ministries’ family was made for this moment! He is here, ready to strengthen us, to empower us to give a wholehearted and radical “yes” to Him and to do all we can to lead those He brings to us out of bondage, foolishness, and fear, into the wisdom of God.

Lord, we love You! Help us to make the most of the time and to use the resources You have given us to serve Your purpose in this hour!

Friends, we will all be dead soon. Life is short, it’s a passing shadow, let’s help each other make the most of the time for the glory of the Lord and for the salvation of souls.

In Christ,

Peter