Tag Archives: Desert Stream

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Fruitfulness

By Abbey Foard

Anniversary celebrations run the risk of becoming sappy and nostalgic in ways that diverge from reality. Don’t get me wrong: reflecting on accomplishments is important, but best when inspiring a good future hope! Gratefully, we experienced such clarity as Desert Stream celebrated 40 years of ministry last week in Kansas City.

We considered 40 years’ worth of reflections from Living Waters representatives who gathered courageously amidst COVID. (Maybe the courage was reminiscent of what each mustered the year he or she first set foot in a Living Waters group?!) We worshipped the Lord with a team that spanned geography and eras; we became ‘church’ in all our diversity and celebrated the work that He began and has not stopped doing in each of our lives.

We honored Andrew and Annette, our fearless and passionate leaders, for their integrity, faithfulness and commitment to Jesus and this unique work. All of us in the audience were delighted as the four Comiskey children emceed each decade. They noted their intersections with Desert Stream/Living Waters and in sum gave us a tangible picture of the worthiest fruit of this ministry: the life that flowed from the couple who founded it.

A marriage that the world tells us should “never have been” now exhibits and envisions the fruitfulness that comes from Jesus; is this not what life-in-Christ is about?

Fruitfulness is unique to each of us. It may look different than we expected–partial and progressive, still in process in our lives. But fruit is always a byproduct of our “yes” to Jesus. He tells us that when we remain Him and Him in us, we “will bear much fruit” (John 15:5).

The Comiskeys bear fruit, as does Desert Stream. Not because of any superior gifting or inherent strength. Having walked closely with Andrew and Annette these past four years, I can say that they are fun-loving, earthy people who live simply to love Jesus and others. They don’t seek to be “special” but to be “faithful.”

That’s what makes them special: they seek to be true to Jesus. He wells up from them like “living water.” He makes them fruitful like the trees in Ezekiel 47 “whose leaves neither wither nor whose fruit fails; they bear fruit every month because the water from the sanctuary flows to them, with their fruit serving for food and the leaves for healing” (Ezekiel 47:12).

As we reflected on the fruit of Andrew and Annette’s persistent ‘yes’ to Jesus, He inspired us to bear fruit for another 40 years (at least!), fruit well-watered by Desert Stream.

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.

Grounded 5

A renowned director despises vast landscapes in his movies: ‘Humanity reveals itself only in cramped quarters’, he mused. Apply that to one month in quarantine and he’s right: barely recovering addicts circle their troughs, the mildly anxious teeter on paranoia, sad persons fade, party creatures crash, and binge-watchers without a hint of faith perform exorcisms on the faltering Internet (apparently Satan is in league with most providers.)

Easter is timely this year. Jesus shows up in real time—our time—and saves us from ourselves. He may just join us for breakfast; He deftly walks through walls into strained small gatherings and brings life, hope, light. Disease and death don’t have the last word. He does; He is the Word of Life, inexhaustible in exchanging our little scandals for His mercy that makes all things new.

Yep. In this plague-weary Easter time, the cry for mercy is the best ticket to the free elevator. Heading up. After all. St. Paul exhorts all who claim to be Christian: ‘If you are risen with Christ, set your hearts on things above’ (Col. 3:1). OK, OK. We need help to ascend. Cry for mercy. Rise with Him.

We at the Desert Stream staff are in a 9-day prayer cycle leading to this upcoming Divine Mercy Sunday. A week after Easter Sunday, the Church sets apart this day as a lush opportunity for every person on the planet to open him or herself to Living Water, ‘the blood and water that gushes forth from the heart of the Savior as a fountain of mercy for YOU…’

St. Faustina received that little prayer and we as a ministry pray it all the time (in the context of a bigger one called the Divine Mercy Chaplet—download it here). An uneducated Polish nun, just out of her teens in the 1930’s, she obeyed Jesus’ revelation to her that His mercy could alter the course of the whole world. Instead of judgment, Jesus wants to immerse rebels in the healing flood emanating from His heart. She endured the battering ram of hell itself for mercy’s sake and now Divine Mercy is honored throughout the global Church.

She wrote pithy things like sin’s ‘misery invites the depth of His mercy’, always punctuated by ‘Jesus, I trust in You.’ Last night, tossed by financial and moral and ministry-related concerns, I cried for mercy then sealed it: ‘Jesus, I trust in You…’

I awoke refreshed, in full agreement with the Psalmist: ‘You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place’ (Ps. 31:8)

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.

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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