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3-things-france

Three Glorious Things You Don’t Know About France

I write this from a tiny hotel room in Paris, just a stone’s throw from the Bastille—the site and symbol of the French Revolution. A golden figure dedicated to ‘human glory’ presides over the Bastille; I marvel at how Jesus alone is making France glorious.

First glorious fact. Did you know that when France legalized ‘gay marriage’ in June of 2013, her people initiated the biggest series of demonstrations for real marriage that our world has ever seen? 350,000 persons peacefully gathered in Paris under the banner ‘Demonstration for All’ in January of 2013, then again in May of that year and twice in 2014.

Carrying signs which read like the titles of Living Waters’ Chapters—for example, ‘Difference is the key to existence’–many French persons realized from their Catholic heritage that you cannot remove gender complementarity from marriage without imperiling everyone in the culture, including generations-to-come. So they demonstrated for marriage on behalf of all citizens, and included in their protest the corresponding legal drive in France for creating ‘gay’ families through adoption and in-vitro fertilization, as well as new initiatives for introducing ‘gay’ education in French primary schools.

France championed marriage gloriously; America, take note. Perhaps we can take our cues from France as the Supreme Court decides how we shall define marriage next month.

Second glorious fact. Did you know that France has the strongest expression of Living Waters in the world? Over the last twenty years, amazing leaders (bless you Werner and Charlotte) have rallied Christians of all stripes in their local churches to seek Jesus as the One who restores His image in us, humanity as male and female.

This weekend, teams of men and women, Protestant and Catholic, homosexual and heterosexual strugglers gathered from around France to celebrate 20 years of ‘Torrents de Vie’ (French Living Waters). We rejoiced together in the merciful freedom we find as we open our wounds to the Crucified, and the gifts He gives through His members. Living Waters has helped France become glorious.

Third glorious fact, and the least important to all but me: my colleagues in France are among my best. It is rare to love as deeply as I do the persons with whom I collaborate there. Thoughtful, independent, creative, and passionately devoted to Jesus and His Church, these saints reside in my heart. We will cheer one another on to glory.

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Changing Hearts and Minds

Many Christians seek to be ‘on the right side of history’ by embracing ‘gay marriage.’ Jesus is not fooled. He exposes the fault lines underneath such thinking and reveals His heart to ours.

Last month at our Living Waters Training a woman admitted that she was all for ‘marriage equality’ and that her position put her at odds with her husband who felt otherwise. She believed that ‘gay’ is natural—inborn, intrinsic, immovable. If God made people ‘gay’, why would He not grant them marriage rights?

Similarly, she approached the training from a rather immovable posture. Though she wanted to learn more about helping people, she herself was not that open to being helped. God had other plans. He provided the mercy she needed to open to Him and others in the unseen, wounded areas of her life.

Similarly, she witnessed the suffering of men and women with same-sex attraction and for the first time could see the root issues at the core of their struggles. Like her, these persons had been subject to gaps and wounds that frustrated God’s best for them. And she began to experience how He could heal them through His Church, even how she might contribute to their transformation.

“Not only do I now see ‘gay marriage’ as a bad idea, I am convicted about the things that drive same-sex attraction and the healing that is available for it…”

Next month, the Supreme Court will decide on marriage ‘equality.’ America may well go the way of our friend before she learned the truth.

We who bear that truth have our work cut out for us. By making known the depth of our brokenness, and the beauty of God’s healing, including for persons with SSA, we proclaim the Gospel—the good news of His Kingdom come to earth. In so doing, we can change hearts and minds.

Instead of passive resignation to the majority view, let us be provoked by God’s side of history. His is the only side worth fighting for.

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Rocky: Freedom Fighter

Although America seems more inclined to celebrate the ‘Bruce Jenners’ who relent to perversion, I want to honor a man named Rocky who repented from his transgender self to the healing love of God.

Disconnection from reality sums up Rocky’s early life. Raised in a rough Mexican-American home by a mentally-ill mother and a father who abused her, Rocky found little encouragement for his masculine soul. Dad was replaced early on by a violent stepfather who treated Rocky with contempt for the solace he sought from his disturbed mother and grandmother. Little consolation: both women were proud of their feminine appeal but demeaning to the increasingly alienated Rocky.

Rocky bonded with feminine cosmetics: makeup and dresses appeared to provide the women in his life with fun and favor. In secret, he emulated their arts; he created another self that appeared to incur masculine attention. At a high price. His masculine development stalled within an unreal world designed to ward off a toxic family and abusive men.

In his teens, Rocky began to compete in drag pageants where he received sexual favor from bisexual and gay-identified men. But he began to smell ‘death’ among the highly unstable transgender crowd, a smell he discerned from his mother who was frequently suicidal. Rocky too began to contemplate an early death when he met a Christian from the neighborhood who befriended him and offered him onramps to her church.

She had observed the strife of his household and prayerfully fought for his dignity. She only asked that Rocky receive the love of Jesus. As he accompanied her to many ‘Jesus’ meetings, he met Christians who loved him, including two seasoned couples. They provided an alternate family that honored his masculine soul and summoned it from hiding.

Rocky needed a lot of love to combat his innate tendency to disconnect in times of trouble. But he grew in love with Jesus and His members and began to fight for his freedom to become a godly man. He moved to Kansas City where he did many rounds of Living Waters and found another fine mentor, Tracey Bickle, who trained Rocky to fight for others.

Rocky now serves at Desert Stream Ministries. He represents well the Father who fought for him, and won him back from sin and death. Rocky is becoming mighty in battle. Amid a nation which now applauds perversion, he reveals conversion: the fight for transformation. That’s a praiseworthy cause.

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Bridge in Belgium

Landing in Brussels at the end of my intensive European tour reminded me of our first conference there in 1999. A most upright Catholic man and Living Waters leader, Maurice Barthelemy, rallied several hundred people in the center of the city for a healing gathering. The Holy Spirit brooded tenderly over an assortment of sinners from different faiths, tongues, and fractures of soul. We united under the one Cross and Jesus gathered us like chicks under His wing. Marvelous.

Now smiling down from heaven, Maurice had wisely passed the Living Waters baton to his son Geraud who had gathered his Living Waters leaders from around Belgium to meet with me last week.

Perhaps that was the first small miracle. Years earlier, I had initiated a change in Belgian leadership from Maurice to a wonderful couple who led the charge there for over a decade. In spite of some hurt feelings over my decision and inevitable insensitivity as to how I transitioned his father from leadership, son Geraud faithfully continued to run a Living Waters group. The couple I had appointed recently handed back the Belgian leadership to Geraud, who with his lovely wife Ann decided to tend the work in Belgium. Father Maurice’s mantle proceeds through his son who continues to heal a divided, challenging nation.

Our gathering took place in Flanders, the Flemish–speaking and predominantly Protestant part of Belgium (in contrast to the French-speaking, Catholic majority). Their Living Waters groups are a glimpse of the grace and patience and love required to combine members who differ in language, church tradition and relational problems. Geraud and Ann (and team) bridge these gaps graciously; over the course of our time together, God gently challenged my boldly American style of expression. Though exposed, I welcomed the Spirit’s invitation to rest in the Father’s way: how He delights in bridging human differences in order to heal us in myriad ways. In spite of my travel weariness, I left renewed.

I marvel at this Belgium ‘bridge’: the One who unites father and son, Flemish and French, Protestants and Catholics–sinners of all sorts under one Cross. Belgium is a prophetic glimpse of how our God is preparing one Bride for Himself.

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Jenner: Pity Not Praise

The long awaited interview of decathlon-winner Bruce Jenner ‘coming out’ as a woman has inspired nothing but adulation in the media; our local editorialist fawned over him as ‘a superhero’, his decision (to identify as a woman) driven by ‘Olympian strength.’

Nonsense. His decision is nothing less than a grotesque expression of narcissism. Anyone who seeks to resolve such a profound identity conflict by assuming the other gender has dissociated from reality. Gender reassignment is based on a fault-line; it is a diabolical effort to repair a fractured soul that sends fissures throughout the whole of that person’s influence. I do not buy for a second his children lauding their father’s fantasy ‘self.’

Like the American public, his kids have been well-trained to bless every bizarre gender declaration as ‘justice’ and ‘authenticity’ instead of the selfish, senseless ‘solutions’ that they are. Ask any doctor who performs gender reassignment surgery. Studies show that mental imbalances surrounding the gender-conflicted are worsened, not improved, by taking on a new gender ‘self.’

Furthermore, Jenner is committing an act of supreme idolatry. Playing God, he now fashions a self in his pathetic image, not the Creator’s. He lives in darkness and leeches the light from us all by insisting that we enter his confusing universe. How fitting that he and the Kardashian-driven E! Channel will make millions as he submits every nip and tuck and new dress for public consumption.

Reflecting on the holy nature of gendered humanity, Karl Barth wrote: ‘A flight from one’s gender is a flight into inhumanity. It is a flight from God.’

More than the meltdown of a fragile opportunist, Jenner represents the meltdown of a nation. We have no fear of God, only a superficial assent to people’s bad decisions packaged as ‘freedom.’ Our freedoms are destroying good people who need truth-in-love. God gave Jenner a gender; God in His mercy can restore him. Pray for Jenner and all who are subject to the false light of his delusion.

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