Tag Archives: Desert Stream

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

First Love

‘Encourage one another daily…so that no-one may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We share in Christ if we hold firmly to the confidence we had at first.’ (Heb. 3:13, 14)

My life and the life of Desert Stream Ministries is bound together in marriage: Annette and mine, 39-years-old, just one year short of our first Desert Stream gathering in 1980. Marital growth multiplied our offering to others. No doubt about it: as we learned to submit to each other out of fear and joy, God increased the quality of our service. Water levels rose from the well we dug together.

Maybe it had something to do with our brokenness. I was in love with this woman but selfish and subject to immoral shadows; she was abused and hesitant to give up control in certain areas. We knew sin’s deceitfulness!

We shared in Christ together, actively, deliberately. We told the truth of our wounds and learned to prayerfully extend mercy to each other. We strove for justice too, to give the other his or her due. We had a right, lovingly, to the other’s body—to share our love physically. But this had little meaning if we weren’t willing to do the hard work of real ‘foreplay’: sharing the whole of ourselves, as best we could, with our clothes on. It is easier to open your pants than your mouth! As I denied my isolated, wordless brooding for her wise and soft response (usually!), I became a stronger, more whole man. I solidified into a spouse who could help tenderize her sometimes wary heart.

Trust is a gift and a condition of heart that one must cultivate daily in marriage. ‘Sin’s deceitfulness’ is sly, subtle: we harden over time in little unspoken ways as we project old fears and shames onto the beloved.

More than ever in this 40th year of our ministry, the enemy of our marital soul wants to tempt us onto separate tracks. There Anette and I function well enough, like well-tuned roommates, but fail to access marital grace. Only as we submit to one another (Eph. 5:21) deliberately is that grace ours. Time does not make us better spouses; it may well make us presumptuous, unwilling to reveal the blessed, broken, still-needing-confirmation parts to each other.

The marital blow-ups that have singed us all did not begin with a brazen seduction, just a slow cooling of trust and affection then the pull of other gods, other covenants. We can say without hyperbole that the world has never been more effective in firing marital discontent and driving us to dissolve our vows.

This year Annette and I celebrated 40 Christmases together. I want 20 more. To actualize my desire, I must hold fast to these words from Hebrews: ‘We share in Christ IF we hold FIRMLY to the confidence we had at first.’ I have a responsibility to strengthen today what I promised 39-years-ago.

This year I have committed to initiate a weekly time with Annette where we will deliberately go where we may not want to go—focused blessing and also pointed questions about where we are, how we are. We pray and talk spontaneously during the week but in the roar of things we skim hard stuff. It is my duty to take us deeper. If you are a husband, would you consider joining me in this initiative? It is always refreshing to me when the man leads the conversation. What most wives long for, we men dodge. Stop dodging. Slay your enemy by revealing your love, however uneven, to the one who needs it most.

Marital confidence should never become passive; it demands our engagement if we are to thrive in its benefits and reveal something of Jesus’ love for His Bride.

‘Repent and do the things you did at first.’ (Rev. 2:5)

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

Going the Distance: 40 Years of Healing, Equipping and Proclaiming.

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Dawning in darkness

Kingdom Clash 3: Dawning in Darkness

We blaze with expectancy in this last week of our Becoming Good News fast. What a gift to burn with you: for mercy, for truth, for the grace to flare up as the Spirit leads and shed warmth and light on the untouched. We on the Desert Stream staff are praying to become torches that light up the integrity of God’s image in humanity. A fire has blazed among us, incinerating our excesses and reducing us to something radiant for Jesus.

More than ever, I am convinced that Christians who trust in Jesus to transform all persons, including those who formerly identified as LGBT+, will light fires in their communities. Do not fear making known what Jesus can do! Let us dawn in the darkness of lies that have settled upon our churches, conforming pastors and fellow members to unbelief, false compassion, and an unbaptized embrace of gender benders. Thinking themselves wise, they have become fools and are portraying Jesus as a ‘feel-good’ advocate for the desecration of lives.

And these are saints! A woman in a key leadership role in a church that sponsors Living Water regularly celebrates a singer renowned for his ‘gay’ love songs and ‘non-binary’, ‘pre-trans’ self; she scowls at our ‘change’ ministry. A priest I love claims the Church is not clear on the issue of homosexuality and is waiting for Pope Francis to set us all straight on the matter (in other words, he is waiting for the pontiff to validate his own co-dependency with LBGT+ers.)

Asked to speak at a large convocation of evangelicals last month, a friend was the lone voice who described how her church offers transformation to the sexually broken; she was maligned for it, with persons shouting down her docile offering. At our City Hall battles this month, there were more rainbow ministers declaring support for the therapeutic ban than there were orthodox pastors fighting for transformation, therapeutic and otherwise.

We burn. We either allow the deception to sharpen and deepen our faith in God’s transformational love or we become conformed to it. Wake up. We all live in a false light which seeks to lull us into normalizing brokenness. LGBT+ activists have successfully persuaded our culture that nothing is wrong with gender confusion, be it a person’s lustful efforts to consume one’s same-gender friend or to become the other gender. We console ourselves with the lie that any other way of interpreting gender conflict will irreparably damage the beloved.

How kind our cowardice. Thinking ourselves loving and enlightened, we high-five another’s dehumanization. Believe me, it is much easier today to walk the broad path of embracing whatever gender variation one wants than to fight for something beautiful and creative hidden in his or her lustful self-rejection.

Jesus restores lives. He heals the broken. Do we still believe that? Can we say to our beloved infidel: ‘If you only knew the gift of God…’ (Jn. 4: 10)? Clearly the enemy of our souls has darkened minds and hearts. Not all want the light and the corporate unbelief surrounding sexual transformation has obscured, scandalized, even criminalized our message.

We cry out to the One: Hail Jesus, Almighty in Mercy—burn off our dross and burn in us afresh. Become our good news. Might we dawn in darkness with holy love!

You can purchase “Becoming Good News” in book form directly from Desert Stream or get it from Amazon for your Kindle.

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

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Good News?

Jesus is good news for the sexually broken. As a mere member of His, deeply flawed, I fall short. I guess that explains the title of our upcoming 40-days of prayer: ‘Becoming Good News’. We begin by admitting limited love for difficult beloved ones then seek to become more apt representatives of Jesus for them. Our prayer? ‘Jesus, make us more like Yourself toward _____’

Annette and I got hammered yesterday by a series of tough things. We both experienced a kind of wearisome dullness that deflected the light of Jesus rather than catching and beaming it all around. As I walked past the home of my ‘gay’-identified neighbor, I felt the Spirit’s prompting to knock once more, hear his travails (many), and give some Spirit-tuned encouragement. I resisted the prompt. Self-absorbed, I gave the enemy what he wanted by agreeing with the familiar: ‘I am a mess, say nothing, do nothing, the gap is too wide, the bridge too far, etc.’
Start the revival without me.

Thank God for holy conviction. I live by these words of St. Faustina: ‘The knowledge of my misery frees me to know the immensity of Your mercy.’ No value in denying the soul cast down or in musing upon one’s well-deserved melancholy. How much better to offer up the troubled soul to Jesus who always waits for the chance just to love us? We can surrender the misery in exchange for tender affection; He transforms a spirit of heaviness into something grateful, humbled, fragrant in its brokenness rather than self-consumed and piteous. Lord, consume us with Your mercies, well-aimed at our fears and frustrations!

In the rising, my heart is sensitized to that neighbor. If we the faithful can be slowed, even stopped, by our disordered world, how much more difficult is it for estranged ones who get tossed about by every torment? We can offer our little trials to Jesus on their behalf; He will mercifully expand the constrained domain of our hearts. ‘Enlarge the place of your tent!’ commands the prophet. Jesus’ mercy makes it so; we discover there is more room at the inn.

Let’s pray together to become good news, that hardships might produce a spirit of hospitality for rebel sons and daughters. Perhaps they secretly long for a homecoming. Let’s become better news for them, beginning on October 16th. Order the 40-day prayer guide ‘Becoming Good News’ from Amazon or DSM.

You can purchase “Becoming Good News” in book form directly from Desert Stream or get it from Amazon for your Kindle.

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

Download PDF

Behold the Lamb 1: Golden Scars

Another Lent. We don ashes as a sign of repentance. We let go of vain things in order to take up what matters. May I suggest you walk this next 47 days with the staff of Desert Stream/Living Waters Ministries? We repent on behalf of the Church for her failure to represent Jesus well to fellow members and to the world.

No bitter or dour penitents we. We are her. We love the Church and are subject to her errors. We take our places as victims and perpetrators of the Bride who aspires and falls flat on her face. So do we, face down at her altar, signed by dust, sorry.

We tasted this together at our Living Waters Training in Malibu Canyon. After we allowed Jesus to reveal our deepest wounds, we gathered in silence before the Cross and sought mercy to extend to our most prominent wound-ers. Remarkable that the majority of persons who testified named Christians as their perpetrators: struck down (but nor destroyed), these included the ex-wife of a distinguished doctor who left her for a newer model, the son of a devout father who abandoned faith and family for the swinging culture of the 70’s, the minister thrown under the bus by colleagues who could do without him. The impact: a temptation to close our hearts to the very community that could be our healing.

But God who is rich in mercy invited us to activate His ace-in-the-hole: forgiving our captors and so breaking the chains that bind us to them. Forgiveness turns the enemy’s schemes on their ear and provokes a greater good through us; it reclaims our wounds, especially ‘Christian’ wounds, as a source of healing. Divine Mercy alone has power to transform the original offense into a fountain of life, first to broken members of the Bride then out to the world.

A good way to conceptualize divine mercy was offered by a dear friend of Desert Stream. At our training, she noticed the heightened beauty of the broken ones who testified of mercy to remake them; she offered the metaphor of the Japanese art of ‘kintsugi’, whereby gold is mixed with reparative lacquer in reconstructing shattered ceramics. The purpose is to honor the history, however broken, of the object and exquisitely to incorporate the repair into the piece instead of disguising it. As the photo reveals, the object is beautified by its golden scar, becoming lovelier in its repair than in its original wholeness.

So this Lent we proceed to honor our histories of wounding, especially church wounding. In the power of repentance and forgiveness, we shall allow Jesus to gild the gashes so He can shine upon our prayers and make her more beautiful. We want beauty for ashes, beginning with ourselves and extending to the whole Bride. Might you join us this Lent as we identify our corporate sins, repent, and ask for mercy to make wounds wondrous for our fellow members and the world?

‘On this Ash Wednesday, Jesus, we repent of any hardening of our hearts due to wounds incurred by Christians. We are not that clever: the gashes from one fan out from us to many in this one body. We turn to You—the Head of the Body, the Lamb who was slain—and ask for patience to wait before You this Lent. Grant us Your heart for Your bride, beginning with mercy for us. May we extend mercy liberally this Lent to our captors. Free us to free others! Forgive us for resisting who You love. Gild our gashes in the power of Almighty Mercy, we pray.’

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Giving Thanks for You

Amid the din (virtual and otherwise), thank you for quieting your heart long enough to read this.

Amid a thousand requests for your service, thank you for fasting and praying with us these last 40 days, denying yourself for the salvation of others (Jude 20-23).

Amid a thousand requests for your hard-earned funds, thank you for giving to Desert Stream and helping make this one of our best financial years in a decade.

Amid the temptation to wall off sinners who resist God’s mercy, thank you for loving the unlovely generously (Matt. 18: 10-14; LK 6: 35, 36; 2 Tim 2: 23-26).

Amid the temptation to bless a loved one’s immoral choices, thank you for agreeing to disagree as you hold out for his or her best (2 Cor. 5: 16-21).

Amid the many persons who cloud the Church’s glory, thank you for loving ‘her’ by taking your place as an invaluable member of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12).

Like the leper who returned to Jesus to thank Him for His healing love, thank you for cultivating gratitude and thus warding off hardness of heart (LK 17: 11-19).

Amid the temptation to detach from God due to unhealed wounds or tendencies, thank you for becoming patient and trustful in His mercy (2 Cor. 12: 7-10).

Amid the loneliness of single life, thank you for showing that His love is enough and that ‘the body is not meant for sexual immorality but for Him’ (1 Cor. 6: 13).

Amid the unmet needs in your married life, thank you for staying true to your vows and thus bearing witness of the saving love of Jesus (Matt. 19: 1-9; Eph. 5).

Amid the temptation to bury your shameful story, thank you for declaring the truth of His saving love in the specifics of your good hard life (1 P 2: 9, 10).

You are the joy of Desert Stream/Living Waters Ministries, ‘God’s glorious ones in whom is all our delight’ (PS 16: 3). We give thanks for you.

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