Tag Archives: france

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Restoring the Spire

Our gendered humanity—submitted to one another in reverence to Christ (Eph. 5:21)—points beyond itself. It reveals the One who made us to co-create in His image. I glimpsed something divine yesterday in a lovely young couple wheeling a newborn: he proud and protective of his bride, she doting over their new creation. The power and tenderness of ordered humanity cries out: ‘Holy is the Lord!’

On a recent visit to Paris, African Cardinal Robert Sarah likened the torched spire at Notre Dame Cathedral—created like a divine finger to point all upward to God–as a prophetic sign of how we as a Church have failed to direct the world heavenward. Have we forgotten that we in our gendered humanity are called to be that spire? It cuts both ways: we can dignify the other’s existence and magnify Him; we can demonize the other and deflect His glory.

Sarah cites ‘gender ideology’—a refusal to accept one’s nature from God—as a sign of this incendiary spire. He views LGBT+ reality as ‘trans-humanity’, an ‘avatar’ that results from refusing the God who made us. To cast off the call to reconcile with one’s male or female being is to cast off God, to burn with a strange fire that shrouds His witness on the earth.

Agreed. But what comes first? The fallout from male-female hostility or a host of exotic gender fractures? I say the former. We cannot with any integrity or authority call obvious sinners to repentance when we tolerate a host of traditional sins, namely misogyny—the dishonor of women in all of its diverse forms. Simply put, cruel and unusual treatment of the more vulnerable gender is the fuel that drives gender-bending.

I too recently visited France where we held a conference on gender reconciliation in Orleans. It was wonderful, starting with an early morning run where I inadvertently followed the path taken by St. Jean D’Arc who as a teenager obeyed the voice of God and led French troops to rout the English in the 15th century. What a girl.

Her courage reminded me of the women at our conference. One had been sexually abused by her father, another abandoned as a bride by a religiously-unhinged husband. Another woman, an exquisite artist who shared her gifts with us, realized that she had been poisoned by her father’s ongoing adultery and expressed contempt for women. She saw her self-contempt for the first time as a quiet agreement with his sin.

Jesus gave me His heart for these women and reminded me of my subtle misogyny—my wound of corruption–pornography, self-justifying arrogance, my flimsy efforts to put women’s needs ahead of my own, starting with Annette. I was seized with my sin and could repent to the women honestly, as did a young French pastor. Jesus loosed a healing flood for these remarkable women. The mercy levels rose quickly as we men repented, granting Jesus freedom to dissolve strongholds of misogyny in the women.

Jean D’Arc blazed a trail for victory in Orleans. As ‘her weakness was turned to strength and she became powerful in battle, routing foreign armies’ (Heb. 11:34), so we followed Jesus who led us to do our part to restore the spire of holy relating. We rejoiced together in the good gifts Jesus is reclaiming in our gendered humanity.

As we are faithful to repent for any way we have stoked that torched spire, we help restore that spire. May Notre Dame provoke us to become glorious signposts of the One who made us to honor Him in how we love each other.

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

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Glorious Absence

‘I tell you the truth: it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go I will send Him to you…When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth’ (JN 16: 7, 13).

Jesus must decrease in order for the Spirit to increase. Certainly, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Son—no competition there! But Jesus chooses to forego His bodily presence with us in order to endow us with His living, unseen presence–the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit at work in us, Jesus claims that He will accomplish bigger and better things than His own rather impressive ministry on earth.

‘I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My Name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask Me for anything in My Name and I will do it’ (JN 14: 12-14). Ascension reminds us: Jesus must leave earth in order to make us great. Glory overcomes grief, the pain of change, when we submit our losses to the Spirit who overtakes us and empowers us to do what we would not do in the presence of the more powerful one.

Jesus is our model; the servant is not greater than his master. And every servant of His must forego the tendency to so deify our leaders that we fail to see how Jesus is calling us to become more—to do what He chooses to do through us in the absence of the one to whom we may tend to defer on the basis that (s)he has power we do not. Pentecost levels that ground. The Spirit is an equal opportunity employer.

Pentecost reminds us that He wants to do mighty things through us. And however mighty and vital each of us is to His Kingdom come on earth, Pentecost insists that we not congratulate ourselves too much. Our bodily presence will fade out too; mortality reminds us that we are expendable and must always quicken others, especially younger ones, to take their places on the team.

Monique, Claude, Andrew, Charlotte & Werner.

I just returned from France where one of my best friends and colleagues—Werner Loerschter–just handed off nearly 25 years of leadership of Living Waters in that country. What a guy! What fruit! All things considered, France has represented our work better than any other nation, significantly due to Werner and his wife Charlotte’s leadership. In the Spirit of Ascension and Pentecost, they labored for over five years to identify and disciple a younger couple to take over the work.

Last weekend in Lyon France, together with Living Waters leaders from around the French-speaking world, I had the privilege of presiding over this handover. It was glorious. And not without a little grief. I love this couple more deeply than I can express, know the new couple only slightly, and feel the loss of a season rich with the splendor of the kingdom. Yet I know that my friends must decrease in order for the Spirit in their land to increase; new wells must be dug by new people in new ways. Humbling. Hard. Splendid: the rhythm of the Kingdom.

Next year will be the 40-year anniversary of Desert Stream Ministries—40 years of me at the helm. Lord, have mercy. In Werner and Charlotte’s noble reflection, I catch a glimpse of my own mortality and pray for clarity as to who will receive the baton from me. Pray for me to face this Pentecost bravely, with expectancy. May none of us grip what God has entrusted to us so tightly that we fail to release others into their full measures. May we welcome the eclipse of our labors by Jesus’ glorious presence in those who follow us. Bon courage!

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

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Relationships that Heal

While we as the Desert Stream staff prayed for our upcoming Living Waters European Leaders gathering in Poland, I received these words: ‘relationships that heal.’ They do indeed.

For over 30 years, blessed Europe has been the site where deep bonds have been forged. And fractured. The pain of the latter can tend to overshadow my Euro-friendships that endure. Could my ‘bent’ perspective be a part of the problem? Perhaps splinters from broken relationships still sting and obscure my vision.

Isn’t this true for most of us? When we get hurt, affliction infects our eyes and we see others (and the persons they represent) as symbols of conflict that we want to avoid. God was kindly challenging my vision. ‘Open your eyes to the love that is there for you…’

Maybe it’s because our wounds are deep, so much so that we fall into them like ruts in a highway. Our ‘wounders’ loom large and appear bigger than the healers whose unfailing love helped bind up our wounds. God wants us to look up and out to the persons who know us honestly and who still love us. He wants our healers to inhabit our hearts more than our perpetrators.

During our days together in Warsaw, I marveled at several fellow healers with whom I have walked for years in Europe. But none captured my gaze more than Werner and Charlotte Loerschter who as directors of Torrents-de-Vie (Living Waters) in France have been a source of healing for me unlike any others. I recalled our 23 years of digging wells of healing throughout Europe: we wearied ourselves in exhilarating service, in working out conflict, and in binding up each other’s wounds. Through it all, we have come to know each other deeply and at times painfully. Love pervaded all. I know they love me authentically because they know how hard it is to love me. And they have succeeded brilliantly. Whatever wholeness I possess I attribute in part to their love.

I looked upon these friends with gratitude during our gathering. I drank in love. Love is stronger than the death of failed relationships; healing is more defining than hurt. We must allow it to be. I encourage you to look upon the ones who have loved you well. Live in their light, a glorious reflection of His own.

Join us for the ‘Becoming Good News for the Gender Challenged’ fast from Oct. 11th-Nov. 19th.

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Fresh Green from Scorched Earth

‘He will be like a refiner’s fire…then the Lord will have a people who bring offerings in righteousness.’ (Mal. 3:2, 3)

I had seen the vision months before: a blackened field, still smoking. A prophetic woman who knew nothing of the burning of many precious relationships due to my Catholic commitment in 2011 painted the picture. Before the vision, I felt alone in my suffering. When she gave it, I began to see God’s sovereign will in these losses. He was refining me for a new season. I thought of what John the Baptist said about Christ: ‘He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire, and will burn up the waste with unquenchable fire’ (Matt. 3:11, 12).

What emerges from the fire became apparent during our first Living Waters training in Poland last week. After several visits to this most Catholic country (perhaps the most devout in all of Europe), and in solidarity with beloved Living Waters Directors in Lithuania (Vilma Kaveline) and France (Werner Loerschter), Abbey Foard, Ann Armstrong and myself helped launch the most strategic advance I have ever witnessed in a nation intent on releasing Living Waters.

What set this training apart? Might it have been the 15-member worship team whose voices combined to break strongholds of unbelief and despair every time we gathered? Was it the humble, smart team of Polish small group leaders who served each member with compassion and spiritual acuity? Was it the 8 Polish Catholic priests who joined our leadership team and who modeled how to exercise spiritual authority through one’s vulnerable humanity? For the first time, I realized that a priest could inspire growth in chastity through personal disclosure (instead of doctrinal reminders). We know the truth; living the truth is where we all stumble, priests included.

Perhaps the leadership of Father Joseph had most to do with this advance. He is well-respected throughout the nation and constructed a wise strategy from the start by building groups in key cities and tending well to their leadership teams. He works cooperatively with bishops to ensure that every group is wanted and protected. A local priest sits on each team. Understandably, interest in our training was high. We convinced Father Joseph to limit attendees to 100 and registration was full and processed three months ago. For us, a minor miracle.

Actually, the power and cohesion of the Catholic Church in Poland is the miracle. Poland’s resilience throughout her turbulent history is anchored in the Church, who has been both fighting father and nurturing mother for Polish dignity. The nation ceased to exist for one hundred years as three empires divided and conquered her; the bloodbath of the first World War granted her national independence, which was shattered in World War 2 as both Russia and Germany leveled her then subjected her to communist rule. The Church unified and inspired her during those darks decades. Now Poland emerges as the jewel of Eastern Europe, for which most citizens give God the glory. Is Jesus, through Poland, the hope of Europe?

A scorched land, out of which hope grows green. The first night of the training, God reminded me of the blackened field I saw months back. Only this time I saw rows of saplings emerging from the ground. Well-tended by group and priest, each Living Waters member represents a young tree. What a privilege to partner with Father Joseph and friends in displaying Jesus’ splendor. May we increase the fruitfulness of His Church. May we become trustworthy witnesses of Jesus for a new generation of Europeans.

‘Open your eyes and look at the fields; they are ripe for harvest.’ (JN 4:35)

Please join us in San Diego on June 16th and 17th for the sixth annual RHN Hope 2017 Conference as hundreds gather to celebrate how Jesus has set them free from gender identity distortions. Preview with us the first full-length documentary film ever made–Tranzfomed–on how Jesus restores the transgendered. Register here today!

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Courage and Consent

‘The sick soul fears more than anything else the demands made on one who is well.’
Joseph Pieper

Just before leaving for France last week, disgruntled gays in the USA filed a round of new lawsuits against those they had enlisted to help them change their homosexuality. Eyes rolled around our nation as the popular media framed such ‘conversion therapy’ as foolish and dangerous.

While addressing both Protestant and Catholic groups in France, I was warned twice not to mention ‘healing’ and ‘homosexuality’ in the same sentence as that is now illegal in France. Impassioned ‘gay marriage’ debates raged on every TV screen as France prepares to decide in February whether gays will share every marriage and family privilege with husband and wife.

I was tempted to take a step backward, to heed the intimidation and soft-pedal the Word of my testimony and the hundreds of others in France who represent Living Waters. (France is the strongest international expression of our ministry.)

Then I remembered: this is Advent. We prepare for Jesus by beholding Mary’s courageous consent to the angel who asked her to be overwhelmed by the Word and to bear its fruit in her body. Small trembling Mary became great through granite faith. She had no worldly insignificance. All she had was her ‘yes’ to God. She embodied the word of Isaiah to the quaking King Ahaz: ‘If you do not stand firm in faith, you will not stand at all.’ (Is. 7:9)

I heeded Isaiah’s call and Mary’s example and told the whole truth of how Jesus heals the homosexual throughout France. For such a time as this.

Mary’s obedience became our deliverance. So we the delivered have a simple annunciation to which we must respond. Now! Will we heed the new life growing within us and proclaim the truth of what He has done in us? Or will silence be our safety? Will we be merely content to tend our vegetable garden and neglect the sweep of land dying in the shadow of delusion?

Joseph Pieper speaks of magnanimity as the virtue by which we champion the greatest possibility of human potential. In this hour, what could be greater than the Church’s boast that Jesus makes virile the perverse man, the defended woman fertile? Or will we ‘prefer to be less great in order to avoid the obligation of greatness’?

 

I leave you with this excerpt from Denise Levertov’s ‘Annunciation’:

‘We are told of Mary’s meek obedience. No one mentions courage.

The engendering Spirit did not enter her without consent.

God waited.

She was free to accept or to refuse, choice integral to humanness.

Aren’t there annunciations of one sort or another in most lives?

Some unwillingly

undertake great destinies, enact them in sullen pride, uncomprehending.

More often

These moments when roads of light and storm

open from darkness in a man or woman, are turned away from

in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair and with relief.

Ordinary live continue.

God does not smite them.

But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.’

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