Category: Living Waters

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

True Justice in Race & Sexuality

By Pastor Andrew Franklin, Living Waters leader and author of
‘Created for Love: Reclaiming Jesus’ Vision for Sexuality, Gender, and Relationships.’

Jesus created every tribe, tongue, and nation to express His glory in unique but equally meaningful ways. That means standing in colorful ethnic diversity and in the unique glory of our bodies made male and female in His image.

Through racism, the inherent dignity of the human person is compromised. Racism, whether overt (violence, discrimination) or covert (“I don’t see color”) distorts God’s image in us. Rather than defending the weak and vulnerable and loving justice, we defend our own compromise and love our own view of ourselves.

That brings us to our generation’s other social justice debate. Whenever awareness dawns on our duty toward black brothers and sisters, many Christians turn the focus away from them (too painful to stay there?) and begin to champion other causes, specifically LGBT+ ones, that have a similar “feel” of justice while serving a radically different ideology.

For many of my conservative friends, their hesitation at embracing social justice for African Americans may be rooted in the fear that the rainbow flag will follow the cause of black dignity. At the same time, I know many friends who begin to internalize the pain of the black experience then begin to question their sexual morality. “Am I blind, intolerant, and hateful toward homosexuality, just as my ancestors were blind, intolerant and hateful toward black people?”

We must give Holy Spirit room to search our hearts and expose pride, feelings of superiority, and unbiblical assumptions. Then, as we repent, we must re-define our anthropology and morality around the Word and ways of God. Repentance means returning to God’s vision for our humanity, His design for our unique ethnicities and our common call to sexual integrity as men and women choosing to dignify one another.

Through sexual immorality as with racism, the inherent dignity of the human person is compromised. Perversion, whether overt (sexual abuse, molestation) or covert (“love is love”) distorts God’s image in us. We again defend our own compromise and love our own view of ourselves.

Our enemy has insidious plots to de-rail us, to pervert us so we embody lust more than whole-hearted love. Over our history, and particularly in the last few decades, Christian leaders have used a distorted interpretation of God’s Word to defend sexual sin. As with any sin, the underlying thought is that I, the mere human being, have the definitive grip and grasp on what’s best for the human person (over the years, what has been “best” for the human person has included divorce, abortion, and LGBT ideology).

Although the LGBT movement positions itself to be the natural successor to black rights, it is more aligned with racism, for both positions base their view of dignity and destiny on ‘feelings’ rather than on God’s glory in creation. The LGBT advocate believes that ‘gay’ marriage or gender reassignment is what most dignifies a gender-insecure person, because it ‘feels’ just. A racist may ‘feel’ that subservience or silencing most dignifies a black person.

Our advocacy in social justice must come from the Word and ways of God.

Regarding racism, the New Testament is clear. The book of Acts describes racial compassion toward Gentiles as the source of early church persecution. Paul regularly reminds the church that Jesus has torn down the dividing walls between ethnic groups and has called for unity in the spirit and familial love for one another regardless of race (Ephesians 2:11-22). He reinforces that different ethnic groups are supposed to shine in their unique ways (Romans 3:1-2).

Regarding sexual morality, the New Testament is clear. In Acts 15, the apostles must decide on realistic expectations for new ethnic groups who are learning to follow Jesus without knowing Jewish ways. They encourage the new church leaders not to worry about making the Gentiles conform to Jewish culture but instead create a short list of essentials, such as rejecting sexual immorality. They challenge each person to be express their own ethnic heritage while calling them to a Jewish high standard of sexual integrity. Paul takes up this theme when he specifically charges the Gentiles to not act in accordance with their ethnic group’s values of sexual immorality, but rather clarifies that God’s will for each of them is to overcome lust and walk in a sanctified vision of sexual love (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7).

Paul commands us to renounce ethnic superiority and lust and perversion. That can liberate us to champion racial justice and sexual integrity. The early church did just that: these two values turned the whole world upside down by a love superior to the emptiness of racism and perversion. Let it be so in our generation!

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Collective Burden, Personal Transformation

Abbey Foard, Executive Director of DSM/LW

Our nation (and our world) is swirling, as dizzying news cycles attest. No need to recount—we are living them. For those of us sensitive to “feeling” our communities, the intensity can feel like a riptide, a fierce pull away from the shoreline into unstable waters.

In this sensitivity, we can risk interpreting our world too personally. When I do this, I risk condemning myself and others. We can also risk depersonalizing these global realities by refusing responsibility for neighbor and brother. We may lurch from super-responsibility, as though the weight of every life rests upon our shoulders, to shirking responsibility entirely. When we do this, we numb our call to be salt and light—stabilizing forces amid upheaval.

I believe God is provoking His Church (you and me personally) to awaken and find the narrow way. He invites us to re-engage with Him so we can share His heart and carry His burden—a collective burden—for the world He loves and the people He yearns to make His own.

He is calling us to neither harden our hearts nor grow weary in well-doing but to be healed, both personally and collectively. He wants this collective burden to personalize into deeper transformation at core areas of our lives.

We must respond to His invitation in real-time. That means giving Him room to sensitize us to His conviction. Might we take time to heed His call to shift and sort what needs reordering in our lives? That requires humility and surrender in ways we have not yet known. Yet Jesus came to do this deep work. Seasons like this expose our need for it.

In His book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice (2001), Robert Gagnon speaks of Jesus’ attitudes around healing and transformation. When Jesus encountered sexual sinners, exploitive tax collectors, and the like, He did not hesitate to direct them to a narrow way. Healing was more than a 280-character tweet; it was a life-altering change. For Jesus, “Healing implies transformation; transformation implies repentance [and] without reform of one’s prior sinful conduct there can be no recovery” (p. 211).

We ought not move through times like this without personal and collective reform, repentance unto transformation and healing. No part of our individual life is excluded—our Church and world cannot change until we do. And because of that, I believe that individual transformation matters most to Jesus.

At Desert Stream, we invite each person into this personal transformation. We are unpopular, as we insist that Jesus transforms deep sexual and relational brokenness. We proclaim what we have seen and experienced. We know the freedom and challenge of living out our reform. Whatever way the swirls of 2020 are hitting us, may you and I respond with a “yes” to the transformation that Jesus seeks to do in each of us.

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Prayerfully Fight for Living Waters (Torrents de Vie/TDV) in the French-Speaking World!

Over 25-years-ago, a CA woman prophesied that Living Waters would find extraordinary expression in France. Her words came true. Founders Werner and Charlotte and new leaders Claude and Monique have led thousands of French-speakers (France, Switzerland, French Guyana, other territories) into pools of life-transforming mercy. They have been persecuted unlike any other expression of Living Waters. Pray for their courage as hostile cultural forces seek to destroy them.

Claude writes:

The Lord calls us to face many challenges, external and internal.

-A bill is advancing in the French National Assembly ‘prohibits practices aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.’ The govt.’s goal? To close TDV Werner Loertscher and similar associations.

-A variety of journalists have infiltrated our healing sessions. The last one resulted in the publication of a book scandalizing TDV, particularly Werner Loertscher. Gay lobbyists waged a virulent press war against us that made big news in the French media for months.

-More and more churches are destabilized in their positions in the face of homosexuality. The retreat center which sponsors our training canceled our reservation due to fear of demonstrations.

-Pray for our leaders’ fortitude; many feel abused and insecure. One local group closed.

-Pray for us as we work on unifying and renewing our teams.

-Pray for fresh coordinators with clear vision who can strengthen others and launch new groups.

-Pray for our ‘Summer University’ designed to restore team members and to grow in the basics of spiritual combat. We created a ‘Spiritual Coaching Training’ to equip new team members.

-We are creating a website designed to defend our positions and to educate parliamentarians.

Pray for us to be courageous, in the spirit of Paul’s exhortation in Philippians 1:27–30: ‘to fight with one heart for the faith of the gospel, without being frightened in any way by those who oppose us.’

Thank you for prayerfully standing with us!

On behalf of the TDV team,

Claude RIESS

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Become Who You Are

The full stature of our humanity is always just outside our grasp. Someone truer, stronger, more tender-in-love awaits his or her true revelation.

As God made us in us His very image, He has wired us to represent Him more nearly, more authentically. For this we must reach. Joseph Pieper describes such inspired aspiration as magnanimity, our ‘yes’ to realizing the greatness He stamped upon every cell of our being.

He is faithful. We have all experienced leaders who have witnessed our childishness, roll their eyes, and mutter: ‘Grow up.’ Not our Father and Son. When we fall short of greatness, fumble the ball or even foul out, He loves us through our shame and gently commands that we become more. He wills what He commands. Nothing less than the power that elevated Jesus from the tomb infuses our weak ‘yes’; He helps us to break through the invisible wall that keeps us crowned by childish things.

The other day, in response to an attitude Annette witnessed in me as less than godly and manly, I sought the Lord and He invited me: ‘I want you to become bigger in this area. As you stand tall and refuse to bend, I will give you victory.’ He has. I must choose daily to stand in that higher place. As I do, I grow into the freedom for which Christ set me free.

It hurts but helps us to bump against low ceilings of immaturity. Growth requires our ‘yes’ to Spirit-inspired commands to break the previously unseen wall.

How sad when we don’t. I know a good man who loves Jesus and leads others in His Name who is convinced that he is intrinsically ‘gay.’ Though he refuses explicit homosexual behavior, he is bound by boyish dependencies that belie his 39-years. These friendships are flirtatiousness and campy; his immaturity confuses others and keeps him a pre-teen, emotionally speaking.

It’s hard to grow up. And our Father helps us. He knows we tend to familiar, lesser selves due to laziness and lack of vision. You could say St. Paul wrote most of his epistles for just that reason, to remind faltering Christians to become who God made and redeemed them to be.

LGBT+ month reminds us that we live in an age that has stripped ‘compassion’ of magnanimity; we have lost vision and spiritual power. Let us reclaim both. St. Paul’s words ring truer than ever: ‘For you were once darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord. Live as children of the Light’ (Eph. 5:8). St. Augustine says it another way. ‘Live up to what you have become.’ Become who you are.

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Awaken Love

‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing…’ (Heb. 10:25)

Having ascended to heaven, Jesus reunites with Father in joyful communion. The first fruit of their feast? Loosing heavenly energy to earth endowed with power to permeate and make all things new! From the Dynamic Duo flows the Holy Spirit like sweetest rain—sweet yes, but penetrating too, co-mingling with our human essence and awakening us to the One who loves us more and more nearly than any creature ever could.

This gift of love and the many smaller gifts of the Spirit that all members of Christ can impart to each other build up the Body (1 Cor. 12): that is why we must gather. Simply put, the Holy Spirit wells up in Jesus’ people who know they’ve a gift to give and who hunger for the many gifts that await them in the assembly.

Holy Spirit gift-giving has profound psychological implications. God made us unfit to be alone. The Spirit of Love-in-Truth invites us to come together in our ache for this love—the most profound need we share. We become more human in our self-giving, one to another. And we discover the Divine in our brother or sister. We resist the temptation to make our fellows idols; rather, we honor them as icons–beautiful, flawed mediators of the One who heals and saves us.

Yet the human mediation matters—it is how He made us—fiercely, frustratingly human—and we share a common responsibility to receive and give the gift. Gathering to impart, we grow spiritually and psychologically into our Head.

That is Living Waters! That is the life-giving stream that wells up in what could be the desert of shame and fear-based isolationism. We know the latter through sin’s exile—we mastered ‘social distancing’ long before Covid-19!

Jesus will not have it. He created us to connect with our fellows. As we forge creative links, we become conduits of His lifegiving Spirit to one another.

Now a deadly virus lurks. Stay home, open a screen, zoom community. Not bad. Certainly, we all have benefited from tech-Church and may feel it to be our only option. Others may admit that homey confines are addictive and overly convenient. Maybe we want an excuse to not venture out much anymore.

I exhort you; rouse yourselves. Don’t defy conscience—mask and distance—ok! But find constructive and lifegiving ways to commune. You get only a fraction of community on the flat screen. God made you to offer your whole gift through immersion in the current of gathered believers.

My small group from Living Waters carefully gathered a couple weeks ago. A feast of human proportions! None of us realized how starved we were for honest, merciful disclosure, one to another—facial, vocal, and bodily nuances that mediated many gifts. ‘He ascended on high…He gave gifts to men…that He might fill all things’ (Eph. 4:8-10).

In the Spirit of Ascension, we are boldly, and with care, proceeding on with our Living Waters Training in Kansas City, June 20th-26th. We can do this safely and dynamically to fulfill our mission in this 40th year. After much prayerful refinement, the DSM staff believes this will be the best training ever for the few, the brave, the pioneers who will venture out ‘to know what are the riches of glory in His inheritance among the holy ones,’ ‘the surpassing greatness of His power for those who believe…’ (Eph. 1:18, 19)

Join us. Let’s awaken love together.

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