The Journey North 2001

The Journey North 2001 - chapter 1

Dear friends,
The time has come for me to travel to another place. Soon, I will be on the road to see what God is doing with & among His people, beyond the California border.

While here, I've been honored to participate in several different ministry works; to enjoy Christian fellowship, and to learn many things in the Word and Spirit of God.

Your prayers are most desired.

Forever recall who you are in Christ; ambassadors by Him. May hope always replace fear; a willing heart for angst; conviction over disassociation.
In the Service of the Living God,
  Marshall Diakon II
The Journey North 2001 - chapter 2
Date: Thursday, 20 Sept 2001 12:43:21

Dear friends,

Love, peace & joy from the road; “historic” highway 99. Writing to you today from a tiny little library branch, in the small town of Los Molinos.

Having left Chico, this morning… I might suggest that the people there seem to have for themselves an image to keep; excepting in that Chico is a college town… and students often bring with them many differing images and transitional forms. Anyway, the place where I slept… horses nearby kept awakening me with their various stirrings. Yet, I still feel refreshed, this morning… prepared to press onward.

For a more “wild” story: during the night in Wheatland, a wildcat fell from the tree above me, and into a nearby pond. SPLASH!! The experience was both humorous & unsettling.

During this first part of the journey, I spend much time on the bicycle, and so am less apt to encounter the people in an extended manner. South of Sacramento, people seemed to most often cheer me on; as they stood from the street, or were passing by. North of there, folks have been more apt to provide the polite “good morning”, or “good afternoon”.

I have enjoyed the challenge in obtaining good nutrition & adequate water/liquids for the 90+ degree afternoons. Evenings have been in the mild 50s… Have also enjoyed swimming at various rivers, creeks & lakes along the way. So many pleasant & refreshing things are to be found in the created world; a world lent to us in use by Almighty God, in the charge & direction of His Son, Jesus.

We know that it is written how love hopes all things; endures all things. For love to hope is a wonderful thing. Yet, love does not “excuse all things”… for, making of excuses would be no great feat. Yes, it is more tempting to excuse the sins of others; the problems of this world; and the mistakes of those we trust & admire. The challenge: Love today and hereafter, and without excuse.

* Schwinn Varsity 27"
* Kenda tires
* DoubleGel seat
* standard water bottle
* Xhilaration twin saddle bags
* EastPak backpack
* Enterprex FM radio
* IR-TECH alarm
* ICP solar panel
* rider powered by: The Spirit of God
* no “powerbars” or “power drinks”
* Theme Song: “Blue Skies”, as sung by Point of Grace.

The Journey North 2001 - chapter 3
Date: Monday, 24 Sep 2001 10:52:07

Dear Friends,

Greetings and good will in the precious Name of Jesus of Nazareth.

Writing this day from Yreka, “the city of gold”. Ahhh… clean air. Makes for great breathing and somewhat weaker sunsets. {grin}

Have come across mountain passes, traveling through small towns which lie in the shadow of Mt. Shasta. There is a valley beyond the mountain… a valley which reminds of the Central Valley; only smaller, and entirely rural. As I looked toward the peak of Mt. Shasta from differing angles & settings (sunrise, sunset, as clouds overtook its heights), I was brought to think of the “mountain of God”; where God spoke amidst rumblings & smoke upon the mountain.

In the city of Mount Shasta, I felt a significant presence in the practice of spiritism and Eastern mysticism.

Last Saturday night in the darkness, I began to hear little rustlings all around me. I thought, “it must be rodents.” But then, I turned a flashlight to see a toad… an army of toads! Big toads, and not at all afraid of me.

God's own provision for me (and for the toads) continues as a remarkable thing… he feeds & clothes the sparrows, too!

These Northern folks seem to know more for who they are… which can present a challenge of sorts; as in the example of a “good resident” hard worker who hangs his hat upon his labors & public morality. To speak to that man that He should lay it all down, to now & forever take up the cross of Christ… well, such should be conversion indeed. Yet, if we are more unsure as by who we be; drifting with what moves around us from day to day… then to be converted to Christ -- to become part of the Rock that is Jesus Christ -- may be a doubly difficult thing to know. Not only for the choice of life (as God will grant it), but also to in & thereafter remain as He births in us, without floating on to whatever else may call.

  A thought for this week:
If Jesus went to Disneyland, what would He do? What would He see? Would He draw all the crowds from Mickey & me? Would His day be a vacation from the compassion of His heart? Would He ride all the rides? I'd like to see that part. If He spoke to the people behind the costumes we see… Well, on that the park management might not quite agree. With Jesus in Disneyland, the fantasy is gone; the children are happy; and the rest will go home. There, lives would be changed more than imagination can hold. With Jesus in Disneyland, would we be so bold?

The Journey North 2001 - chapter 4
Date: Wednesday, 26 Sep 2001 14:21:07

Dear friends,

Greetings in the Name of Jesus, of Jehovah-Rohi; our shepherd, our pastor.

By the grace of God, I have come to the Medford area… As one bookstore owner has told me, the State of Oregon is somewhat known for being relatively “un-churched”. Yet, this area has many churches [church buildings]. Was blessed to visit Applegate Christian Fellowship, a garden-amphitheatre-setting gathering place with “Calvary Chapel” roots. ACF is involved in some excellent ministry work, including bases in Africa, Mexico, and a broadcast station in Honduras. Speaking with a few of the staff & others, I did feel the “zeal”, but not so much for the “love”.

Now begins the 2nd part of this journey… taking the pulse nearby of essential Christian ministry; getting to known the people and to know my way around town a little; identifying needs and offering any assistance I may give.

Just came from something called “James 2 Ministry”. I went in enthusiastic, to come to feel a bit dampened in hearing that the effort had gradually shrunk in size and scope. Still, I left my e-mail with them in hope.

The Journey North 2001 - chapter 5
Date: Monday, 01 Oct 2001 06:31:28
Dear friends,

Greetings in the name of Jesus; our greatest Lord, forever true; Jehovah-Shalom. I trust that you are in good health, remaining confident in the salvation that is from God.

As bees to the honeycomb, our Christian brothers & sisters attend to the work of God here in downtown Medford. Last Saturday, the “Inner City Mission” served meals, and provided food & clothing as needed to +200, with 18 lending their hands & heart. They asked me to perform (among other tasks) a count of the folks coming inside for “a meal only”. Taking a tally must be one of my least favourite things… yet, I know we ought remain willing to serve from the heart, no matter as the need presents.

By the grace of God, I've come to stay with a Christian family who has shown me every kindness and help in getting up-to-speed for the needs & expectations of people living here in this valley. A place of rest; and yet, now is not the time for me to rest. I earnestly desire that my hands might be put to good use; that I might become a blessing to these people.

For the churches alive & active in the teaching and doing of the Word… there seems to be among them a good supply of eldership. In fact, I recognize this is a culture which has kept close to the older folk; grandparents & old soldiers; the wiser ones.

With the local church participating in as many different avenues to Christian ministry, I am yet challenged to take it all in; to know how best and where to help. May the Lord direct as in if or how to bring additional tools in technology, organization, service, faith & prayer, to life for the church that is in Medford.

“May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble. May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high! May He send help from the sanctuary and support you from Zion! May He grant you your heart's desire and fulfill your purpose! We will sing for joy over your victory, and in the name of God we will set up our banners. May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.”

The Journey North 2001 - chapter 6
October 4, 2001

Dear friends,

Greetings in the powerful name of Jesus of Nazareth!

After spending a week in becoming familiar with activities & burdens of the local church in Medford, I have submitted a proposal for consideration by the local leadership/eldership. Should I find favour in this with God and men, we would [God willing] be adding an internet-based aspect to their prayer network/list; a mid-week specific needs follow-up for the food/clothing/homeless ministry; as well as the “no fee” electronics service, with corresponding specific needs follow-up.

Whereas my former submission (to a local California ministry) brought to light their own reluctance regarding too much growth/expansion on-site; the first note of concern I have received from this Oregon church was for how opening themselves to the additional services in ministry might trigger a small flood of Christians desiring to commit their lives in full service to God in/at the church. How might the local church accommodate them all? This Medford church does have a large facility; yet, should dozens of people soon fall under the conviction by God to “leave their nets” and live fully in service to the Master, Jesus… well, in such an event, I do imagine we may need help from God to manage indeed. Yet, how can we not but rejoice when men & women humbly subject their all -- their lives to God? The opportunity to put people to work in the “fields of souls” must be received as being from the hand of God; men moved by the Spirit of God to deny themselves and “switch kingdoms” to forever build only for the King, Emmanuel.

At present, I await a decision… To fully begin work here, or to move on to the next community, as God does lead. Presently, the list of on-going ministry at this church location are:
In assembly & in Study sessions Children's (Sunday School, AWANA, etc.)
Home Fellowship Groups
Via media (print, broadcast, recorded, internet, etc.)
Reference Resources (library, internet, etc.) Bible College
In Assembly
“Counseling” (women's Kinship, Stephen Ministry, etc.)
Worship & Music Dance (Worship Dance Team)
Food preparation & meals delivery
Health (blood pressure clinics, etc.)
Dorcas Circle, etc.
Spanish ministry [overlay]
Ancillary classes & activities (parenting class, etc.)
The Journey North 2001 - chapter 7
Date: Thursday, 11 Oct 2001 06:14:05

Dear friends,

Greetings in the beloved name of Jesus of Nazareth!

While awaiting reply from the church eldership in Medford, I have been busy setting about to repair CD players, TVs, a walkman… whatever may be failing. Have since purchased a soldering iron to help with same. Also, grocery shopping & food preparation, cleaning aroung the house, various Christian meetings around town, needs, prayer and research, getting to know more of God's children here; all good in love & service. Know how I have come to dislike idleness in myself. And, thanks be to God for every kindness shown through David & Erin Posch, as they have borne with me during these past 2 weeks of the journey.

Yesterday, I did receive word from pastor Mark, in that the local church will decline the proposal to serve at Cornerstone. Regarding, there would seem to be some question against the validity of my/a Christian commission as simply, “servant”. However, I would not have this development discourage any one of you. Men & woman called of God will always consider their first commission to be one of service to God & man. As example: Paul & Apollos [1 Cor. 3:4-6 (diakonia)], Peter [2 Peter 1:1-2 (doulos)], Jude [Jude 1:1-2 (doulos)], John [Rev. 1:1-2 (doulos)], and “Phoebe, who is a servant (diakonia) of the church which is at Cenchrea” [Romans 16:1-2]; and foremost Jesus Christ: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve (diakoneo), and to give His life a ransom for many.” [Mark 10:45]

Much as for the various meanings to “love”, New Testament Greek has “service” defined within differing detail for intimacy of care. i.e., Doulos (like “slave”), Pais (like “child-helper”), Oiketes (like “assistant”), Diakoneo (like “deacon”), Therapon (as one providing “therapy”). I'm likely in the middle, somewhere… and, before my Lord Jesus, I am as well “Doulos”. May these things come to you as a reminder. We serve a mighty God.

An older man -- an evangelist who lives up on a Medford knoll -- had last Monday night warned me that the Church in Medford may not be in all such fair health. …my enthusiasm, again. If only in such visible fear among the brethren, his caveat remains. Yet, as I here outlined for you earlier, there are many good things begun in and around Medford; things yet somewhat loosely connected with daily life of the Church as one Body. And, there are faithful men to be found here.

As we began 27 days and 400 miles past, the search continues in to find genuine Christian community integral to the Church. Well and good it is to speak or teach about community as essential to the Christian Church; whereas faith, hope & love will be essential in the doing. Refreshed by the grace and provision of God, I am now peddling onward in hope & joy. God be with you all.

The Journey North 2001 - chapter 8
October 17, 2001

Dear friends,

Greetings with every hope of good will toward you in Jesus' name!

Glad to report that I presently have plenty to do and to be done. On a friend's suggestion, I have come to Azalia, Oregon; to a place called “Heaven On Earth”… yes, that's the real name for this marker on highway 5. Presently, Heaven On Earth is a fellowship stop for Christian truck drivers, and also a restaurant. All the food is “home cooking” style, and quite filling. By now, I have regained those couple of pounds lost to the road.

There are more than a few brothers & sisters here to get to know better. Should God permit, I am looking forward to serving our great God in this place for some time to come. Yet, having been here but a few days, I do not yet know with certainty. I have had opportunity to meet some of the local Church eldership, and to hear of various needs and Christian works done nearby. There have already been some good times of intense discussion and decisions made. I am encouraged to see hearts devoted in love for one another; ever growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Part of what I am currently working on involves an event for November 11th, where we are asking folks to stop off from the road at 11 A.M. for 11 minutes to ask for God's blessing. Since this moment of prayer will stretch from the roads of Canada, through the USA, and into Mexico, it will require many hours of telephoning and database building just to get the message out to truck drivers & others. The November 11th “moment” may well be followed by other upcoming activities which will point toward our humility before the Almighty God of Abraham.
“Save us, O Lord our God
And gather us from among the nations
To give thanks to your holy name
And glory in your praise.”
The Journey North 2001 - chapter 9
Date: Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 12:01:24

Dear Friends,

May the wisdom & power of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, today.

At “Heaven On Earth”, there has become for me a process in understanding what is from “Heaven”, and what is for “Earth”. After about a month of journey behind me, I better see that money can influence a Christian's perspective in a variety of ways… or should I write, “means”? At Cornerstone, there was identified concern over the idea of someone [myself] not being paid for work over any duration. Having come just an hour North, there is here an ill ease present at the thought that Christian ministry might move forward without partnership with business & commerce. What odd notions must we entertain, as the time of our Lord's appearing draws nearer?

“Heaven On Earth” -- the restaurant -- is a good example for how ministry work can be accomplished inside a business-commercial atmosphere. And, it likewise has shown me for how business concerns tend to hold an overall priority… which is quite logical, since one operates a business to demonstrate financial increase. As with a married man, who's interests are divided in that he wants to please a wife, business with ministry can be like a “main dish” of business and a “side order” in Christian service.

Currently, I'm exploring for what may work here in the long term. As you may recall, in Medford I had submitted a “proposal” of sorts… Here, partially in response to a request from the proprietor, I have now handed-in something called a “Heaven Compact”… the substance of which follows:

* That we each know & affirm one faith, one hope, one work of God; in whom we forever possess our name & identity: Jesus Christ, Heir of all things.
Romans 12:4-5, Ephesians 4:4-6, John 6:29, Hebrews 1:2

* That we proceed together as intended & empowered by/in the Holy Spirit of God, with Christian unity; by consensus, knowing the authority of Christ: Jesus Christ being our Great Shepherd, Leader, and Bridegroom of His Church betrothed.
Titus 3:5, Romans 15:15-16, Ephesians 4:1-3, Acts 5:12; 15:22-29, Romans 15:5-6, Philemon 1:8-9, John 10:16, Matthew 23:10, II Corinthians 11:2

* That we have and hold all things in common essential; inasmuch as our purpose agrees, our love is sustained by God, and with a life as belonging in full to Jesus Christ. Thereby, each one having the same care for one another.
II Corinthians 9:12, I Thessalonians 4:9-12

* That we understand among us for how what has been committed for evil to be evil; what is known common [profane] to be common; and for what is devoted sacred to be sacred [set apart to God]. We know the heart & expression of service to God, in love for God & man, defies common models and conventions.
Matthew 12:35, I Timothy 1:8-10, John 18:36, Matthew 7:6, Acts 13:2I, Corinthians 3:17, Revelation 22:11

* That we each attend in to satisfy necessary social or civil excise in humility and without amplification or allegiance for temporal matters; not from the asking of duty in which his/her conscience may restrict by holiness.
Matthew 17:24-27; 22:17-21, Romans 13:1-7, Colossians 2:16-23, I Corinthians 1:26-31; 7:23,29-31

* As well it should be our practice in daily taking bread together, until Jesus Christ returns in glory for His Church.

Acts 2:42,46, Luke 11:3; 24:30


It may be a beginning to more beautiful relationships and strong testimony for Christ. It may be a revelation too steep for these folk to consider in their own lives & practice. We shall see.

A certain pastor here has been quick to point out how people here carry with them much suspicion for newcomers. Yes, I am feeling that… It is an experience something akin to being walled-off. What I can't quite resolve is in that this man of God took such a practice as being acceptable among believers. A pattern which does not seem at all to compliment the “Jesus Style” in ministry. How does one love others with such a great suspicion?

We've sent out about 700 FAXes for the November 11th Trucker prayer event. There have been some good opportunities to show forth the love & wisdom of Christ to searching people; hitch hikers, travelers & the like. May God show me if I should stay or move on; I much desire to know His will, and for how best to proceed… that I might not myself obstruct any miracle in His doing.

The Journey North 2001 - chapter 10
Date: Wednesday, 07 Nov 2001 08:00:52

Dear Friends,

Grace & Peace to you in the Spirit of the Living God.

Thank you for your prayers, for those “heads up” replies, your concerns… thanks even for critique. As this has been a journey into the sometimes unknown, I am learning as I go.

The “Heaven Compact” draft received little concrete response in Azalea, Oregon… However, I have since come to know that my arrival here presents at a time of “crossroads” in decision for these hard-working people who I have come to love. You see, for many years the Lord has been sending the wanderer and the needy person along a portion of Hwy 5, and to this place called “Heaven on Earth.” In earlier years, more of these souls were fed, clothed, sheltered with welcome… right on the premises. Yes, as a Christian mission; though not so named. They’re still coming! And, people in need are still receiving meals and a blessing. There is great opportunity here to extend service in ministry beyond our many brief encounters with men & women in need. However, it would appear that the door to such has for now been closed in this place.

Days ago, I listened to hear a pastor describe his calling as an “occupation”. Yet, the task for us to serve and to “make disciples” as Jesus has called would be no “side-line” or simple occupation… rather, it is a full and sacrificial purpose; with heart’s cry, and sometimes to pain of the flesh. Not that we should fault the simplicity of good works. Rather, to remember that good works done in Jesus' name will not proxy for the living work in a life wholly dedicated to Him. And, that having been accomplished, one's desire for all the more material wealth or control will fade from heart & mind. It is the transforming work of God in us which lends “heaven on earth.”

Should you have opportunity to someday visit here… there is inside the restaurant a beautiful, painted glass etching which depicts an old-tyme balance scales, with coins in the left tray and a Bible set upon the right. Everyone who comes into the main dining area can understand from this work that the Bible out-weighs our currency of gold. Yet, from the depiction there is more to be told… for some, the gold has not yet been put aside from our “scales”. Are we today working to have all the more of both God and mammon?

The Church in Azalea came to me as somewhat assured in those things they have set out to do. Truly, Christian love & forgiveness remains our shared banner… though I did not here witness a clear, determined vision to restore local folks who may themselves have become isolated (vis-à-vis dissatisfaction, misunderstanding, suffering, etc.) into enduring fellowship & service. Nevertheless, it is my prayer that friends here who have abandoned the organized church will come to find Christian gatherings (whether on Sunday, or any other day) as an opportunity to freely invite the presence & power or the Spirit of Christ in to where embers might otherwise grow cold. There can be no justification for negligence in practice, and there remains no excuse to restrain men or women who love God from together finding failure's end.

All this to say… The sisters of Heaven on Earth have expressed a desire to expand commercial operations; to focus their efforts upon business growth beyond the restaurant's current fiscal success. They have also expressed a heart for Christian service sustained. Last Saturday, I was informed that the decision has been made to move ahead with bringing the remaining (dormant) properties & resources to commercial use. Yesterday, their decision was again confirmed to me. From heaven, this will be a displacement for those who had expressed hope or desire to rather serve in Christian ministry. While here, I’ve had the pleasure to meet a few of these people called to serve… This has been a joy… to see all of what God has done for/through the outpost at Azalea/Quines Creek. Still, as with the creek after springtime, my own opportunities to serve in this place appear to be drying up. I now travel onward, giving thanks to God for all His goodness! May His love & blessings be upon the souls at “Heaven on Earth.”

The Journey North 2001 - chapter 11
Date: Thursday, 15 Nov 2001 12:49:44

Dear Friends,

May all wisdom and blessing from our Father above be yours in Christ Jesus our Lord!

The pace picked up, as I departed Azalea for other small towns nestled in the “100 valleys of the Umpqua”. Soon after setting out, a man approached to ask of me as to where I may be traveling. I responded that I was in search of Christian service, on journey North. I then asked him about a Christian chapel nearby… He told me that I should go to a certain place; he provided a name for whom to ask; and then he bid me well. Following his counsel soon revealed more for hope.

One meeting led to another, so that I was quickly able to identify more churches, ministries & individuals alive in Christ. There was also a bit of ping-pong in-between, on a trail that led from town to town; and to a church on a hill -- South of Roseburg, OR. There, a Christian family promptly took me in.

Before this time, I had been the one to be first to ask about Christian community and service. These folks speak of it openly, even challenging one another to “sell all they have” -- the Acts 2&4 manner in surrender & fellowship. Not that the unloading of one's possessions would itself summarize or establish Christian community. May each one do what he/she knows is required of them by God. For this place, might God soon grant a catalyst, that these communities will know more of “community” in the grace of our Lord.

I have been meeting up with individuals sworn in conviction as their mode of life… refreshing to experience; yet also bringing to the surface more personal issues and matters of conscience among brethren. To this, we know that the wisdom of God -- if we might ask of Him for portion -- can cause us to triumph over misunderstandings, personality twists, and the footprints of sins.

Already, I have encountered a perfectionist, a zealous evangelist, a man who works harder than everyone around him, a scholar, a teacher, a peacemaker… as well as several individuals who openly contradict one another for dogma and reasoning. To be able to hold conviction and tolerance [Romans 14] securely with love, much requires the extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit.

The believers here have a good start on networking among the various fellowships & activities. Young men have visions; and the older men, dreams. They acknowledge “God-sized” goals, and demonstrate a willingness to work & pray. As one brother explained to me this morning, for how “We used to think of the church as a clubhouse where we went to get re-charged, only to return home and take a seat in front of the TV. [Now] we want to use the batteries in the 'flashlight', rather than just let them age or die on the shelf.”

As I begin what I am asked to do here, I again must thank you for your prayers and peace. To God be true!

The Journey North 2001 - chapter 12
Date: Thursday, 06 Dec 2001 12:52:33

Dear friends,

Warmth & Greetings to you in the name of our great Lord and King, Jesus of Nazareth!

While I continue to await word from elder men of the Church here, it would seem good to share with you a bit for the people who live in a little Oregon valley just wide enough to hold a rainbow… and about 3 rainbows per week, to be sure.

Folks here seem to eat a lot of bananas. Food is usually prepared to taste most excellent, causing my limited kitchen skills to seem superfluous -- or, risky. {grin} In this community, the harvest & production of wood products has become employment for more than a few. Recent rains have turned open areas green with grass, and the mountain tops white with snow. There are more than a few folks here having spent part of their former living in California territory, and there would be less visible frivolity between friends or among strangers than my memories from Modesto have provided me.

Humbled am I by the number of spiritual brothers and faithful sisters whom I have been honored to meet in short time. People of God who know the simplicity of the Gospel, and for the call to both represent and serve Jesus our Lord. Even though some of the most intense & beneficial Christian work has here since migrated to outside the scope of “church”, God is working -- and thereby so are we.

I have also found these folks to be as often forgiving, and drawn to grace, while likely having left the true depths of Christian love relatively unexplored. There is kindness here; along with faith, hope and love. Yet, somehow through time and trepidations, the fire which burned in the Upper Room has been neglected to mere embers in our counting of conversions, and in catching the next “wave” for how to grow the church. With the more rural scene, there is also the temptation to gossip, and for lingering conflicts between brothers unbecoming. As much as there be need, may God grant His strength -- a catalyst to bind us together in unity which comes with sacrificial love.

God's people desire maturity, community, and missions requisite with their commission. As Jesus has given us of His Spirit, and in many hands redeemed; not that He would make disciples for us… but that we would make disciples for Him. [Matthew 28:18-20] At times, we have seen to wish discipleship convenient: just pray this prayer; come to weekend assembly; repent and be baptized; look to the Cross; plead His blood; etc. Yet, say you had to get to grandpa's house before year's end… So, you have done to put gas in the car, the family in the car, but you never will leave your driveway? You may say, “The car is here. I'm prepared to go… I have done what I need.” Wake up! Get your crew soon underway, or you may miss the joy in returning home. [Revelation 3:2]

My love and prayers for you all, and until we meet again…

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”
-- 2nd Timothy 1:7

The Journey North 2001 - epilog: 1 year later
Dear friends,

As if only from a week past, I think of Tina’s hospitality, Damon’s heart to examine all things, Angie’s vision, Bob’s quest to realize God, Vance’s styled humor in the contrasts of life, Amelia’s knowledge of the truth, David’s heart for mission, Joe’s faithful blessings, Mike’s Godquest, Yvonne’s struggle, Lydio’s hope, Clark’s homeless passion, Steve’s humble heart, and on and on.. and for as much compassion & good will shown me as I would begin “The Journey North” one year ago today. Then, leaving behind thousands of families dear along with companions and opportunities in Christian service, was a thing beyond my own ability to bear.

How was the journey in 2001? For this day in September, I had some trouble just in finding a clear passage out of town! On September 18, outside of Lincoln (CA), a wildcat fell from the tree I was sleeping under, dropping ‘splash’ into a pond on the other side. By 9/21, the 4,000 ft. mountain-pass ascent to beyond the California border was underway. 9/22, and I was ‘attacked’ on a hill by a small army of toads in the night! By this time, there had been many flats to fix on the bicycle! September 25, and I had arrived in Ashland, Oregon. That day also brought first rain. Ahead to Jacksonville, where I learned of Cornerstone Church in Medford. I visited Applegate Fellowship (a Calvary Chapel) on that evening, and again the next morning. From September 27 to October 10, I served and learned in Medford. October 12, and having arrived in Azalea through the suggestion of friends, I worked with an evangelistic effort for truckers & travelers at a place called, “Heaven On Earth”. On October 27, I came close to failure by planning a day trip improperly and against poor weather conditions. By November 7, the folks in Azalea had made known their decision to focus upon more commercial objectives; which sent me onward North, visiting churches, ministries, schools.. By Friday, November 9, [day 58] I was in fellowship with brothers & sisters who dwell in these Umpqua valleys.

After spending the month of January nearly bed-ridden with back pain, I am very thankful to have been spared that I might return to serve with these hands God has made for His service. The Lord’s care for me was obvious and gracious. There were distinct lessons to be learned through the pain and immobility. I have since re-committed myself to the service of God, to serve men by/in serving Him (rather than looking to independently accomplish both the service of God & man). A subtle -- yet profound -- distinction in purpose.

Common practice in “commitment” is still present in Oregon! Hallelujah!!

Myrtle Creek/Tri-City came to be the third stop. It is inside a lovely valley, where braid of clouds may appear in the early morn', woven along surrounding hilltops. One year ago, the “journey” was set to find Christian Community, and to live “in the service of the living God” more closely within a local church-community. Through the past year, I would discover first-hand more about the inner-workings of one organized church, and for Christian Community that is nearly underground among us.

Where hostility or apprehension lingers near-to, you may find another little church behind or within the visible ‘church on the hill’ in its silhouette, traditions and contemporary forms. What apprehension in a place like Oregon? Dread: the culture and burdens of shared paranoia. From an earlier record of The Journey, I had written of encounters with extraordinary suspicion and reciprocal distrust. Months passed, as the Lord with grace revealed cause.. Persistently frightened people are not readily enabled in sincere trust or godly faith. Also, those unworthy of trust may imagine people much as they know themselves to be. When we neglect to fear God in Christ [Psalm 66:16; Ephesians 5:21], thereby remains for us a fear of men in circumstance. Such fear spawns bad fruit and a dying faith. I have been brought to a people who are quietly losing life to anxious fears. Yet, thanks be to God, the few most faithful among His children are not so frightened by any fear. Should God permit, those more trepid will come to learn by the example of a small number, then trading the foolishness of a coward for the resolution of a warrior. It is written, “perfect love casts out fear.” [I John 4:18]

No small list for things we will be asking of God for the church in Tri-City, to include in His will: depth in agape` love to displace fear and its practice of evil suspicion; Christian maturity to the demise of “voodoo Christianity” (the blending of various cultural, religious, or philosophical practices into Bible teaching and Christian living); to replace so many man-made models and personal preferences, a “welcome mat” for the full wisdom and power of God; the collapse of more than a dozen discrete factions/divisions internal to the Tri-City Church of Christ today; and a steady sending-out for “church planting” and various Christian missions, that we might not become anymore ingrown than we already are. With a register of prayer like this, His answer will shine bright for all to see - if we will see.

There is a small garden here, vines & fruit trees to tend. I’m free to serve East or West, day and night, 24/7; to do as God may require. Good things are developing, as I am able to discover and assist in specific works of service. Helping folks with electronics & internet, continuing in study, prayer, service and testimony of an “apologetic” kind. I’ve shared both in the victories and the disappointments with fellow servants, been examined and welcomed - though not by every soul. No website for “the journey”, but you may visit the Diakon url, which includes 2 additional book reviews since, and the beginnings of some fresh dimension in ministry.

Most significantly, I have already seen the power of God clear paths for His work here while men at the gate appeared as content to simply sit down in the road. For how many of us does the Lord Jesus receive our consent short of our assent?

Should you one day be called to make such a journey, or one greater still, may your trust be in God who is our Hope.

- - -
Blue Skies [theme song for The Journey North]

On days of gray when doubt clouds my view, it’s so hard to see past my fears.
Strength seems to fade and it’s all I can do, to hold on to the light re-appears.
Still I believe, though some rain’s bound to fall
That You’re here next to me, and You’re over it all

When nights are long; seems the dark has no end, so we walk on in light of the truth.
For, waiting beyond, where the morning begins, is the dawn and Your mercies anew.
Oh, to believe we’re alive in Your love.
There is so much to see if we keep looking up.

Lord, the sky’s still blue, for my hope is in You
You’re my joy; You’re the dream that’s still alive.
Like the wind at my back, and the sun on my face,
You are life; You’re grace;
You are blue skies.
You are blue skies.

You fill the heavens with hope and a higher love;
A picture, a promise for life.

continue to  The Journey 2005