Tag Archives: Desert Stream Ministries

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

California Supreme Court Upholds Prop 8

Please rejoice with us at Desert Stream Ministries as we give special thanks to God this Thanksgiving. The ever-contested victory for marriage ( Prop. 8 ) in CA was upheld yet again  by the Supreme Court. The governor and district attorney of CA refused to defend Prop. 8 once it passed, demanding its proponents defend it yet again. Thank you CA Supreme Court for upholding their right to do so in the face of opposition, and in general, for supporting voter-based initiatives like Prop. 8.

Once again, whenever the people of the USA vote on marriage, they uphold its true definition. Thank you voters of CA, the amazing Alliance Defence Team, the CA Supreme Court, and our God, the Designer and Sustainer of marriage.

Mercy for Marriage

Day 32 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy for Marriage

‘O Jesus, You do not give a reward for the successful performance of a work, but for the good will and the labor undertaken. Therefore, I am completely at peace, even if all my efforts and undertakings shall be thwarted or even come to naught.’ (952)

In 2000, God called Desert Stream Ministries to fight for marriage in the USA. Reaching for the gold ring of ‘normal’, gay activists were seeking to redefine marriage by excluding the need for one man committed to one woman.

God woke me up to the evil of messing with the fundamental definition of marriage. We as a ministry began to pray and to call others to pray and speak out in their states where the truth of marriage was at stake.

We as a healing ministry have never taken on a less popular cause. Few of our constituents supported us. Many couldn’t see anything ‘healing’ about taking on a political cause that often resulted in toxic showdowns between ‘rustic’ fundamentalists and flamboyant activists. Still others feared offending gay friends and family members by refusing them ‘gay marriage.’

We cannot afford to be silent. Because of our tentativeness, gay rights groups have taken more ground in less time than any other interest group in US history. Last spring, Obama refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law which demands the government upholds its true definition. And now, for the first time, a slight majority of Americans claim to favor ‘gay marriage’, with nearly unanimous approval among twenty-somethings.

A good friend of the ministry confided in me: ‘Frankly, I don’t want to be on the losing team’, referring to what she saw to be our inevitable defeat on the ‘gay marriage’ front. That was a moment of truth for me. I realized that God was not calling us to be successful, but rather obedient. Jesus taught St. Faustina this when she heard Him say: ‘I do not reward for good results but for patience and hardships undergone for My sake.’ (82)

IN 2008, Desert Stream mobilized for the largest fight ever waged for marriage in the USA—CA’s Prop. 8. We prayed and fasted for 40 days prior to the election, rallied churches throughout CA, and I wrote an in-depth prayer guide for any who wanted to join us.

We hoped against hope—the media made us look like stooges in contrast to the articulate and its slick showcasing of our gender-bending opponents. Many who stood for real marriage were fired from jobs or blacklisted as traitors of the gay community. The polls were against us until the end.

During one prayer time, I heard the Lord say that He would give us the victory. I did not believe Him, as I am used to losing. Yet my colleague Dean Greer heard the same thing. God gave him this promise: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours but God’s…Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance that the Lord will give you.’ (2 Chron. 20:15-17)

We won. CA voters refused ‘gay marriage.’ I contend that neither the millions of dollars poured into the campaign, nor any strategy granted us victory; God did. He answered the prayers of people around the world who cried out for what He loves—marriage, and the merciful witness it provides of one man devoted to one woman, a window to Jesus’ love for His beautiful bride, the Church.

The days grow darker and we fight harder for one man committed to one woman. In victory and defeat, we fight for what God loves. We look to Him, from whom we draw both strength and reward for our commitment to marriage.

‘Life is a continuous dying, and at the same time, it is the depth of inconceivable happiness and the strength of the soul; because of this, the soul is capable of great deeds for God.’ (856)

‘’If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20, 21)

‘Jesus, make us content to be faithful; in obedience, we succeed amid the most painful of losses. Make us resolute in Your promises, and patient in bearing with them until they are realized.’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

Falling Mercies

You could say that the way to Vineyard Anaheim had been paved in righteousness—we had been cast out of our home church for doing what was right, and God promoted us. Noble.

How ignoble to discover a darker strain of sin in our own ranks. The hardship we endured in the first desert was a mere test run for the Sahara of our own making. Mercy met us facedown, seconds from death as a ministry.

It seems that a longstanding staff person from Desert Stream had sexually abused at least one teenager who had sought help from us. (I will spare you the details; needless to say, its revelation shattered us.)

Before we as a ministry even knew what had actually happened, one relative of the boy, savvy in the ways of insurance, insisted on a face-to-face meeting with Jonathan Hunter and I. He wrote down an astronomical figure that he insisted we pay out to him, or else. He threatened to take the case to the press and a flamboyant celebrity lawyer in LA. (He assumed that our large and prominent new home–Vineyard Anaheim—had millions for such settlements).

I remember looking at the 7 digit figure then at Jonathan in the unfounded hope that we were mere players in a nightmare. There was no waking up. We were living the dream.

And so we did for the next 3 years—a scourging of our entire ministry through police interrogations, the naked bulb of insurance agents and their lawyers, and Vineyard elders who for good reason wanted to know what was really going on in Desert Stream Ministries.

We the righteous became the scum of the earth—not only the defender of victims, but the predators.

More deeply, we as a ministry were torn in two. The man who had abused was intrinsic to our operation—his influence pervaded DSM. In waking up to the depth of his brokenness and capacity for deception, we were torn in two. His wife had been Annette’s lifelong best friend. Torn in two. Faith in my capacity to discern another’s readiness for ministry: torn in two. Our faith that we as a ministry could endure anything: torn in two.

News of our tragedy, now official on police and court records, attracted our accusers like vultures: ‘Do they change homosexuals or create them?’

We were torn in two. For good reason. We as a ministry had committed the sin of Achan (Joshua 7). In the name of DSM, one man had taken what was holy—a vulnerable life—and had partaken of him hideously. He then hid the evidence.

God’s anger burned at us in the same way that God’s anger burned at the whole nation of Israel for the sin of one man (Achan). He did what our staffer did–he stole Israel’s treasure then lied about it. The blood was on the hands of DSM.

Achan’s sin made us ‘liable to destruction.’ (Joshua 7: 12) As the Israelite’s did, we removed the violator from our midst and got low. We cried out for mercy. We fell face down, over and over and over. We gave Desert Stream back to God.

We knew that if He wanted us to live, we would live. Or He might gently withhold His hand and we would die. He gives, He takes: bless His Name.

At the end of 3 years, the case was settled. Our insurance covered most of the costs. Our groups were reinstated at the Vineyard, with new boundaries and requirements intact. Not one story was printed about the tragedy. God spared us. His mercy leveled and sustained DSM.

‘He who falls on this Rock will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.’ (Matt. 21:44)

‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight that what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’

Desert Stream

Every Wednesday night for two years, we met in the home of a well-known interior designer. Charlie, along with many of his friends, was riding the first popular wave of gay activity on the West Coast. But after the disco and drug-induced orgies, these men and women cried out for mercy.

Our pastor, Kenn, had introduced us to Charlie, a new convert at our burgeoning Vineyard Church. Annette and I would drive down Wilshire in her Voyager, with varying degrees of tension between us; we were as anxious each week as we were expectant of the Kingdom.

In Charlies’ exquisite home, we would worship Jesus with simple songs, explore the truth of Jesus’ good will and purpose for the sexually-broken, and pray for each other, that God’s merciful Kingdom would come to each as (s)he had need.

God’s healing presence became greater than our shame and addictions.
Together, we discovered mercy: the transforming power of Jesus loosed through the advocacy of His community.

As He did to the Samaritan woman, Jesus met each one with ‘living water’. He challenged our defenses and fear of real intimacy. He freed us to confess our sin, the truth that in grasping after others we had forsaken Him, the spring of living water, and had dug our own wells, broken wells unable to hold water. (Jer. 2:13)

He began to heal us; we agreed with Him that we were valuable men and women whom He had created to contain and manifest His goodness. We were vessels of honor who He taught to honor one another genuinely, with our clothes on, our hearts intent on growing into maturity. Annette and I married after the first year of this group, and many in our large wedding party were its members.

We did not know in 1980 that the HIV virus was prowling through parties and discos, seeking to devour the unrestrained. AIDS had no name then; it succeeded to destroy many, including Charlie. He died with dignity: sober, sanctified, ready for home.

God wanted mercy, not judgment. (James 2:13) He takes no pleasure in the death of anyone (Ez. 18: 32), and so He liberated ‘living water’ from the desert ground of a people intent on their own destruction.

He suffered and died to lay claim to that desert. He rose again to transform that desert into a place of life, health, and peace for them.

The ‘living water’ we discovered in the desert of West Hollywood is the essence of Christ Crucified and Raised—the river that makes all things new. ‘Where that river flows, everything shall live…’ (Ex. 47:9)

What a privilege to gather in West Hollywood at the onset of Desert Stream Ministries and what became the Living Waters program. What a privilege to be one of Jesus’ answers to the cry for mercy.

‘The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.’
(Is. 41:17, 18)

‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight for what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’

Together, We Discovered Mercy

30-years ago, ‘Living Waters’ surfaced in West Hollywood. The burning ground of lust and sexual confusion became a pool of God’s mercy.

Every Wednesday night for two years, we met in the home of a well-known interior designer. Charlie, along with many of his friends, was riding the first popular wave of gay activity on the West Coast. But after the disco and drug-induced orgies, these men and women cried out for mercy.

The Vineyard Christian Fellowship had just sprung up on the west-side of town. Annette and I began to date while attending that church. At the urging of our pastor, who introduced us to Charlie, we began to gather in his home—worshipping Jesus with simple songs, exploring the truth of Jesus’ good will and purpose for the sexually-broken, and praying for each other.

God’s healing presence became greater than our shame and addictions.

Together, we discovered mercy: the transforming power of Jesus loosed through the advocacy of His community.

As He did to the Samaritan woman, Jesus met each one with ‘living water’. He challenged our defenses and fear of real intimacy. He freed us to confess our sin, the truth that in grasping after others we had forsaken Him, the spring of living water, and had dug our own wells, broken wells unable to hold water. (Jer. 2:13)

He began to heal us; we agreed with Him that we were valuable men and women whom He had created to contain and manifest His goodness. We were vessels of honor who He taught to honor one another genuinely, with our clothes on, our hearts intent on growing into maturity. Annette and I married after the first year of this group, and many in our large wedding party were its members.

We did not know in 1980 that the HIV virus was prowling through parties and discos, seeking to devour the unrestrained. AIDS had no name then; it succeeded to destroy many, including Charlie. He died with dignity: sober, sanctified, ready for home.

God wanted mercy, not judgment. (James 2:13) He takes no pleasure in the death of anyone (Ez. 18: 32), and so He liberated ‘living water’ from the desert ground of a people intent on their own destruction.

He suffered and died to lay claim to that desert. He rose again to transform that desert into a place of life, health, and peace for them.

Living Waters is the essence of Christ Crucified and Raised—the river that makes all things new. ‘Where that river flows, everything shall live…’ (Ex. 47:9)

What a privilege to gather in West Hollywood at the onset of Desert Stream Ministries and what became the Living Waters program. What a privilege to be one of Jesus’ answers to the cry for mercy.

‘The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.’

(Is. 41:17, 18)

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