March 24, 2016

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
Good Holy Week to you who follow the Western church calendar, and good Lent to you Orthodox friends who are at the beginning of this blessed season of repentance. I have been particularly grateful this year for the wisdom of the Church in establishing this rhythm of preparation and celebration.  I surely need encouragement to make the sustained and deliberate effort by which we "work out our salvation with fear and trembling."  And I rejoice with all the saints to see that truly it is God who is at work in each of us, to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil 2:12-13)!  As we engage in the particular moral effort of Lent, He is faithful to ready our hearts to follow Christ through His death and resurrection.
I had an experience this weekend that brought the reality of the Cross and the empty tomb to the foreground.  My husband and I spent more time in the city than we usually do, celebrating the opening of a light-rail station he helped build, and attending a Seattle Sounders FC (soccer) match thanks to tickets from a generous co-worker.  Sometimes being downtown can feel heavy or discouraging, but on this day I had quite the opposite experience.  I found myself continually perceiving goodness in the great variety of people going about their errands and entertainments. Each person I noticed touched my heart a little, and the warmer my heart grew, the more goodness I saw.  Ordinary things, like the bouncy walk of a preschooler on the sidewalk in front of me and the care of a man for his dog, moved me.  I delighted over the much-in-love couple in the row in front of us, and felt the joy of the most devoted soccer fans behind the goal who chanted and sang with endless energy throughout the game.  All this goodness and vitality I was seeing slowly formed itself into an intuition of absolute reality:  "The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord (Psalm 33:5)."  It really is full and brimming over with His goodness, His riches, His glory (see Psalm 119:64, Isaiah 6:3, Psalm 104:24), and everywhere I looked I was seeing it.  Even in a city like Seattle, which I'm afraid is charging right over the cliff of every permissiveness fallen humans can conceive, the earth is full of His goodness. 
How can it be?  How is the true and noble and right and pure and lovely and admirable so palpably present amidst so much sin and brokenness?  We know the secret:  Christ, who made peace through the blood of His cross, is reconciling all things to Himself (Colossians 1)!  It isn't just because "life is good," as the t-shirt declares.   It is because God offered up His only Son for the redemption of His people and the restoration of all creation.  Because of the death and resurrection of Christ, the waters of the flood have become waters of baptism.  Goodness is alive and well because the Cross stands at the center of the story of the world, and looms large over every city, every household, every man, woman and child.  Because of God's victory over death and destruction, every soul may see the goodness of the Lord here in the land of the living.  And whether awake or asleep, grateful or hateful, every soul must confront and respond to the Cross of Christ.
Leaving the soccer match, I walked behind a woman with a cross tattooed at the base of her neck.  I found myself wondering, does she know what this sign means?  Does she know the Cross?  And I realized how alike she and I are, for I wonder the same thing about myself.  This Lenten season has brought me to my knees with the conviction of how easily I take my eyes off of Christ, how readily I ignore and evade His Cross, how little I live as one resurrected in Him.  In this newsletter I invite us to take time to let the Cross sink deeper than our skin.  Let us speak to our souls, Another lives in me, and He is the crucified and risen King.  First you will find a poignant piece from Leanne's archives about the depth of sin that will aid us in receiving all that Christ's death has won for us.  I am also sharing some devotional writing that I pray will bless you in practicing His Presence through deeper meditation on the Cross. 
Thank you for your notes and letters, sharing the ways you see the goodness of the Lord in your lives and assuring us of your prayers for our team and this ministry.  Know that we are sincerely grateful and very much need your prayers every day.  Thank you too for your tithes and offerings that enable us to reach out with the gospel of Jesus Christ all around the world.  As Leanne would always say, this is an incredible time to be in this exciting ministry, and we abound in thanksgiving.  Thank you for standing shoulder to shoulder with us as together we lift high the Cross. 
Yours in Christ,

Upcoming MPC Schools for 2016

Wheaton, Illinois
July 10-15
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Houston, Texas
Date: To be announced
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Jeju, Korea
August 14-19
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The Depth of Sin
By Leanne Payne
from her newsletter archives, Fall 1990

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." [John 14:6]
Over and over again, He Who is the Truth prefaced His sayings with, "I tell you the truth.... l tell you the truth.... I tell you the truth." You may want to run the references in the Scriptures to see how often He did this. One of the truths He tells us is the true condition of our hearts.
As a Christian theologian and historian, Richard Lovelace in his book, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, chronicles our loss of the understanding of sin, and of its depth within the human heart. To dwell in the Presence of a Holy and Sovereign God, is not only to know Him, but it is to begin to know ourselves. And when we gain true self-knowledge, we recognize the depths of sin that afflicts the human heart, and thereby characterizes fallen man. In Chapter 3, "Preconditions of Continuous Renewal," Dr. Lovelace, after showing how sin was perceived before the 18th Century within the Church, writes:
During the late nineteenth century, while the church's understanding of the unconscious motivation behind surface actions was vanishing, Sigmund Freud rediscovered this factor and recast it in an elaborate and profound secular mythology. One of the consequences of this remarkable shift is that in the twentieth century pastors have often been reduced to the status of legalistic moralists, while the deeper aspects of the cure of souls are generally relegated to psychotherapy, even among Evangelical Christians.

But the structure of sin in the human personality is something far more complicated than the isolated acts and thoughts of deliberate disobedience commonly designated by the word. In its biblical definition, sin cannot be limited to isolated instances or patterns of wrongdoing; it is something much more akin to the psychological term complex: an organic network of compulsive attitudes, beliefs and behavior deeply rooted in our alienation from God. Sin originated in the darkening of the human mind and heart as man turned from the truth about God to embrace a lie about him and consequently a whole universe of lies about his creation. Sinful thoughts, words and deeds flow forth from this darkened heart automatically and compulsively, as water from a polluted fountain. "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5). This is echoed in Jesus' words: "Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil" (Mt. 12:33- 35).

The human heart is now a reservoir of unconscious disordered motivation and response, of which unrenewed persons are unaware if left to themselves, for "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9). It is as if they were without mirrors and suffering from tunnel vision: they can see neither themselves clearly nor the great peripheral area around their immediate experience (God and supernatural reality). At the two most crucial loci of their understanding, their awareness of God and of themselves, they are almost in total darkness, although they may attempt to remedy this by framing false images of themselves and God. Paul describes this darkness of the unregenerate mind: "Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart" (Eph. 4: 17-18). The mechanism by which this unconscious reservoir of darkness is formed is identified in Rom. 1:18-23 as repression of traumatic material, chiefly the truth about God and our condition, which the unregenerate constantly and dynamically "hold down." Their darkness is always a voluntary darkness, though they are unaware that they are repressing the truth.
When we pray, as we continually do in PCM, "Help us to lift high your Cross, 0 Lord," we are crying out for the anointing to preach the good news of Christ's death for us in such a way as every soul can yield up it deepest sin, its individual sins, its deeply ingrained patterns of sin, -- so that these might flow into Christ Crucified and that the soul might receive all that Christ's death has won for him. Forgiveness of sin, justification, sanctification, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and authority over evil and the evil one-- all of these things Dr. Lovelace goes on to write about in ways that are profound, yet readily accessible to the mind that is not theologically trained. The theological understanding he brings here is crucial to the healing ministry.  I urge all who teach and minister to consider this book as the great resource that it is.

One of the reasons I picked it up and finished all 400 plus pages was for its Chapter 8, "How Revivals Go Wrong." He writes of "aberrant revival" and of the false things that come in to destroy the true. The waters of renewal are badly muddied today, and we are seeing false emphases and imbalances, as well as the outright spurious. Those of you deeply concerned about these matters at this time will appreciate the historical precedents Dr. Lovelace, as historian, points out, and will be better enabled to intercede for the church worldwide.

Reprinted with permission, copyright ©1999-2013 by Pastoral Care Ministries, Inc.

We are pleased to offer you two viewing options for "Meditation on the Cross." You may view it below or click on this link to view it as a PDF. 

  Meditation on the Cross
  By Sarah Colyn


Fra Carnevale [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Giotto [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Meister der Schule von Nowgorod [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Matthias Grünewald [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons