for Love, will travel…
The Journey 2001
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The Journey 2008
The Journey 2009
The Journey 2012
The Journey 2014
The Journey 2015

The Journey 2017

The Journey 2005 

The Journey 2005 - part 1

Dear friends,

3 1/2 years ago, our reports were made for "The Journey North" from California to Oregon. Now in 2005, we travel South and East from Oregon to Arizona, in hope to further-on visit Christian brothers in Idaho and Washington.

In a place called "Globe", we found an evangelistic effort called "Big Fish". The Big Fish is bigger than Globe, yet it has no organized church structure as in the typical meaning. While there, we were shown every measure of hospitality, and as we left the blessing of the Lord with that house. Wanting to stay on, yet with other venues to reach in reasonable time. From there, we traveled through Superior, Oracle, Tucson, Nogales… to a place called Patagonia, where we write these things to you.

The AZ sun and desert land have not diminished the Lord's Spirit within, though we did find a bit of sunburn to leave the skin of flesh so tender.

This journey suggests a revelation in more for what is brewing among the "grass roots" church mode. Ideas like theism are on the rise in their multi-faceted penetration alongside various new and "free" thought spiritualism. We are instructed by the Holy Spirit, as our Lord promised so long ago. The journey for us He does not leave, but provides our every need and hope… even our disappointments!

From Patagonia, we seek the Lord's blessing to arrive in Sierra Vista (Arizona), and also to visit the Gagatko family (now living in the Tucson area).

The Journey 2005 - part 2

Dear friends of Christ, our friends in truth,

May the Spirit be ever upon you to seek an ever-deeper walk with the Father; your Father, and for Christ in you the hope of glory.

Sitting atop a small mesa overview (near Sedona), we reflect on how a door in Sierra Vista seemed closed to us until… suddenly, it opened and we went in to share with Bill and Carmen concerning the church that meets in their house. Sister Carmen is enduring and sensitive to the spiritual battle fought in light and truth (all around and near us). Brother Bill has much the manner of John the Baptist. Dead or insecure people would be frightened by them… and, they have stories of persecutions to prove it!

On to Flagstaff, where we visited "steeple churches". A preacher making his appeal for more recognition; a church business meeting as people arrive for fellowship and the worship of God; the worthless teachings from human thought; empty seats; full seats; so many people going in and out without the power of God for life. The Flagstaff zone of Arizona is visibly growing in "new age" prophets; they filling spiritual gaps left by 'Sunday faith'.

After visiting the "Big Fish" (from chapter 1) website on the road, we now better understand that Globe, AZ, will require prayer to navigate the "church of one" wave and to re-evangelize a town beset with pride in their mining and pioneer history.

Next, on to the house churches and 24/7 Christian community of Idaho & Washington states. On the way, we will be in Oregon briefly to fill a few ministry responsibilities there and re-pack the car. All by the good will and intention of our Father in heaven, who provides with excess, in excellence and abundance -- above all that we could ask or think.

By the Holy Spirit, the Lord will empty the building that is full and He will fill the heart that is empty for Him.

The Journey 2005 - part 3

Dear friends,

Grace to you and peace with safety as you also travel along the path of Christ.

We arrived in Washington state on Thursday, and went to work to find bright instances of the Church in these parts; each expression of Jesus Christ in His people, His Bride. As it would be, the rain was as constant as the busy lives of many people who live here. Through patience with telephones and various street maps we were blessed to meet with brethren in Kent (just South of Seattle). Such a joy to spend hours of the day with Craig, Jerry, Kevin… men of like mind in Christ. Their families, too! The room was nearly filled by children at worship and play.

After lunch, we talked until evening with Kevin and Sandra, who have known a church gathering in their home for more than two decades. Kevin earnestly admonished us concerning the M.O. and outcome of control-based church groups, for how they must maintain a membership of "spiritual babes" to foster their weak religious authority over men & women -- something unlike the genuine headship of Christ or spiritual eldership within community.

We responded with confidence in that we are aware of "the system", while our hope endures that some (in Tri-City, and beyond) may soon wake up, stand up, and walk with Christ beyond "the crib" comfort zone.

We spoke by telephone with the church in Mt. Vernon, coming away in hope to meet with them in another time. With sadness, we learned that the church in Silverdale is no longer gathering there as before. (Vancouver has gone yet undiscovered for us.)

The journey south (and now north) has helped to explore the dynamics of discipleship, agape` love, spiritual maturity and Christian community. Our eyes have been refreshed! Our hearts, encouraged.

We give thanks to God for open doors in both Arizona and Washington, with hope to soon return to the Northwest (eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana…)

The Journey 2005 - part 4

Dear friends in Christ,

Rugged, snow-capped mountains that run a parallel line for 200 miles across Montana. Great waters and open valleys under incredible heaven! Tiny towns that resemble Amish village…

For these weary travelers, sunny grassy rest stops are often welcome. Just to set a blanket and pause from the road… gray squirrels of Montana also take their stay at the stops, and they are not shy to come right up to humans (in groups of 10 or more). This can be a bit startling, should you fall off asleep before they come. But before we venture more from Montana, back to a memory from Washington…

Christian radio in the Spokane area has been a step up from the "lite" & puppy-Love broadcast programming we had settled for in Southwest Oregon. Straight talk by radio voices who know the Scriptures well, on-air conversations with missionaries around the globe, and daypart playlists built on strong lyric content.

Our first greeting was to be with a small Church of Christ in Proctor, MT. A farm with cows, chickens, turkey… wandering bears. We had spotted elk the day before, and we would eat of Elk this day with herbs and rice and canned apples -- great home-cooked food, hawthorne berries and spring water… and living water, too. We all sat down to take a hard look at Acts 1 & 2. For as small a town and as few a church, we toured a free clothing ministry of that church in Proctor that has been "giving" for 22 years, steady on, in the name of Jesus.

Then on to Stevensville, and another C of C H.C., which actually may be 2. (They also meet in Florence.) Mike and Janet shared with us a heavenly passion for faithfulness to Christ in these times when so many would rather hear about God from anybody but Jesus or His apostles. Montana folk can be bold, and so went our fellowship. Mike pressed us for what we truly hoped to see and do. And, we had to say that from the heart we hope to see many become disciples (Matt. 28), while those we work alongside are no longer caught up in undercutting the good work of God in the lives of people who are entering into His kingdom.

Mike also talked to us about how larger numbers and "building maintenance" and "putting out fires" will divert elders from being God's spiritual shepherds of His flock. Our lunch on the following day had us sharing about church autonomy (where's that in the Bible?), and how we're living in a time when it has become acceptable to sit and watch your church -- or a neighbor's church -- burn down by sin, divisions, famine or apostasy. Where the church in Corinth would have received letters and apostolic visits with admonitions, today's local assembly is set adrift viz-à-viz 'every man for himself'. If the ship seems off-course, to sinking, or we just don't like our cabin… the individual sailor today is expected to launch a raft and row to another leaky skiff. All so different from first century churches.

If you came to Christ for safe passage home, hold to His lifering of faith by the Cross -- even when modern monuments in Christian religion leave hundreds numb or floundering.

God willing, we will be back in Washington this weekend to touch a house church network, and also a Christian church that has said they hold "all things in common" as from Acts 2 & 4. (?)

May the blessings of God flow abundantly with His grace, that your life may be filled in His glory and power -- that of the Master, Jesus, our Lord.

The Journey 2005 - part 5

Dear friends in Christ who have come to love Him most,

As we visit from house to house, we are often asked where we are going, what plans we have, if we are looking for a place to live, or if for employment. What we have set our hearts to see would be far less common than any one of these.

Why is the Kingdom of God so hard to set eyes upon, or even to drive the family car there? Because ours is the invisible, visible everlasting Kingdom -- like the wind, we cannot directly view it with ordinary eyes, while children and discerning men are able to reliably perceive its effects [John 3:8]. The world also knows a kingdom to its cherishment: a visible, temporal realm. Many people -- even those who have studied the teachings of Jesus Christ -- commonly submit themselves to temporal things, enticing many back to self-focus. But, are we concerned for bread? Yes, we are! Never for ourselves, because this would be in denial of the teachings of Christ [Luke 12:22-34]. Our concern in this present time and life is that others may receive the Bread of Life (as have we) in a true and faithful witness of Christ (who sometimes had no place to lay His head -- Matthew 8:20).

During this part of the Journey, we ask if a group of believers may assume confidence in their established orders or far-flung affairs when the county in which they meet together hardly would know that they're even in town?

We had returned to the Spokane area to meet with brothers & sisters of "Parousia" (a Greek word, meaning "coming", "arrival", "presence") and with the Deer Park Washington Disciples. Saturday was a 'work day' at Parousia's Living Springs Guest Ranch. There's never a charge for any servant of God to stay at the Ranch, and, although we didn't spend the night (a cabin was offered), we had a wonderful time doing yardwork and clearing brush with the brothers.

Sunday night and on to Deer Park (a small town just North of Spokane). Regarding the work and witness at Deer Park (as with most of the gatherings visited), we had received some written communications prior, and we asked God to prepare us for a heartfelt understanding. Phrases in English can sometimes fail to uphold their intended meaning. Also, we had made good use of the internet in locating lights for Jesus, while aware in how a web page can look larger than the Spirit of God (or reluctance of men) has permitted behind it.

Deer Park is not dead, but alive in Christ! While there, we met pilgrims from different places: mostly families, including about 2 dozen children well-mannered, and with light in their eyes. A breakfast and study time, then back briefly with Parousia before heading deeply into Idaho on Tuesday.

In Idaho, we've viewed many miles of farmland (wheatland), small towns and several waterfalls along the road -- clear and in bounty. While the places built by men may seem (at times) stuffy, Creation feels open and glorious in its form.

Trust the Lord at all times!

The Journey 2005 - part 6

Dear brothers and sisters among the remnant Bride remaining,

Idaho was beautiful, yet we missed meeting with the ekklesia (church) there and so determined to return to Washington to learn more of the church in the eastern part of that State. Arriving back, we enjoined more gatherings and times for work & fellowship.

Among house churches visited there seems to be a likeness effect. As example in gifts & callings, a particular house may gather mostly evangelists, or primarily prophets, or servants, or teachers, or.. May there be success in more sharing of the various members among the gatherings (for a city or region)? To fully participate, one may find need to visit several different houses in the week or month. (In light of Ephesians 4:11-16, a curious effect.) To "grow up in all aspects of Him" in this day seems to necessitate considerable inquiry and travel time for a pilgrim. (?)

The region and city of Spokane echoes the greatest fervor of The Spirit among all areas we have visited in the western USA. Yet, we have been most often received as "guests" than as would-be fellow laborers. Even our commitment to working 100+ hours of each week absent a traditional payroll abrades ‘protestant work ethic’ and upsets American sense. Culture-tuned imagination so readily plays a roll in re-working 1st Corinthians chapter 9, as now for us Paul repents from ever "robbing other churches" to spend the rest of his free days occupied in material benefit from his "Antioch Tent Sales & Service", with a franchise outlet in Corinth. {grin}
[Acts 18:1-4; II Corinthians 11:8-9]

Happened upon this fitting quote while with the brethren in Suncrest, WA..
"With a little faith and love, by seeking to render all kinds of services without pay and some of them at considerable personal expense, and by being glad to work with my hands when there is nothing more urgent, never since I started this way have I needed to take up a collection for myself or even give a hint of my need. So far as I’ve tried it, the Jesus way of even desiring to put first what is first and to be a giver of all possible good and only a giver of good, will make you far more secure even on the way of the supply of ordinary needs than any other way of life."
--- J. Rufus Moseley; from "Manifest Victory"
There is a certain agony within the heart to witness knowledge with the power to do denied. The brothers in Deer Park are much an encouragement to us. Yet, in sorrow we were to learn that things largely wind-down there each Tuesday-Friday. Also, we were helped and sought to help among the gatherings called "Parousia". More broadly, Eastern Washington manifested zeal while wanting for kingdom effectiveness. Why wanting? If you may, consider how the Lord and His Messiah are jealous against our time-share arrangements offered Him year upon year; for "He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father," knowing every use of time & talent should first reflect this His ambassadorship. [Revelation 1:4-6; Exodus 34:14; II Corinthians 5:20] Are you still fearful for the cares of this life or by unseen weakness in a brother? May the love of Christ in our hearts be given full place. [Romans 12:9] Do you think yourself to be poor? Recognize how you are rich in the Lord Jesus! [Philippians 4:19] Do you imagine your own to be well-prepared against need? "You do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked"? [Revelation 3:17]

During all of our travels we have found joy and we have found sorrow. Although we both have felt the darkness of the world around us, I (Chrystal) had found my life being snuffed out by fear, anger, anxiety and worries all brought on by the ways and traditions of the world and the lack of faith in my Father. I have always seen God’s hand in my life by looking at it from hindsight. The weekend of May 30th to June 3rd I saw and experienced His loving mercies and grace first hand as His perfect plan unfolded.
On my knees a miracle I sought,
Through His love I was bought,
With my obedience He taught,
He is all I got.
Through much prayer, repentance, and confession, I found Him fighting a spiritual battle that I could not achieve victory on my own. May you seek after His loving truth in open obedience living as an ambassador who seeks to give Him all the glory. We both thank God for your prayers as this journey continues in hope. He so wonderfully guides and provides, and we don’t want to ever miss it!
Marshall Diakon
   Chrystal Gill

The Journey 2005 - part 7

Dear friends in Christ north & south,

Goodness and mercy comes down from the Father above. We are so thankful for His love!

Returning through southwestern Oregon, nearly a week was required from us in addressing "loose ends". The world has many burdens to pile upon the shoulders of men and women. I’ve heard for how burdens have become the method of societies and governments to help make placid both their aliens & citizens alike. But we are casting all our cares upon Jesus Christ.

We thank the Lord for a pleasant stop to visit friends in Selma, Oregon (south of Grants Pass). Traveling through California’s giant Redwood trees.. yet, the journey is then slow. Evil seeks again and again to torment the souls of those who would love God more. Have you ever caught yourself believing a lie, or worse? How we have learned again & again of the importance in leaning upon "the everlasting arms" without sacrifice of the perpetual "common bond" that hold for all who are alive in the Lord Jesus.

Palo Alto is a suburb of the San Francisco, San Jose bay area. It was there that we were blessed to Wednesday join in a prayer gathering with a handful of brethren. We all sang hymns and offered prayers before the throne of God in both English and Chinese tongue.

Many friends we have discovered already! Friendships eternal. Remember to pray for all the churches; to let our hearts ache for them, as once did the soul of the Apostle Paul [II Corinthians 11:28-29].

Also from Paul for today: Now we exhort you, brothers, by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you all (yes, all) agree, and that there be no (no, none, not any) divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For we have been informed concerning you, brethren, by some among you and by some for whom you now pass aside, that there are quarrels (conflicts, disputes, disunion) among you.

Paul didn’t prescribe the maintenance of disagreements; didn’t ask us that we agree to disagree; didn’t permit any man in Christ a private or sectarian ambition. Like we, he knew the prayer of Jesus from the garden, "that they may be one, even as We are one." Dear friends, enable the grace and wisdom of God within you today that our unity may be so!

The Journey 2005 - part 8

Dear friends; fellow-heirs of the Kingdom of God,

May you take your strength today in the abundant life of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you might have nothing and yet possess all things. [II Corinthians 6:4-10]

The Saturday gathering in San Jose (near Campbell) had been cancelled. From there, brother Tim Aagard helped us with information about meetings in nearby Aptos and in Santa Cruz. The next day in Santa Cruz, we gathered with about a dozen brothers and sisters and their believing children in a building that had previously been a traditional church. Years before, trouble had yielded its fruit and sheep had been scattered.

In Santa Cruz we met with Paul, a brother involved in Hebrew-Greek-Chinese-English interlinear work, including an innovative grammar index system similar to Strong's Greek-Hebrew numbering. The brothers in Santa Cruz were precious in each their zeal for the love and kingdom of Jesus Christ. May we each continue to discover and live everything God has made us together by reconciling us to Himself; for the Way of Christ is very different from compartmentalized living, double-minded hopes, clandestine xenophobia, factional associations, "other priorities," "buried talents," the Lord denied.. [Luke 9:49-62]

Sunday evening and a walk by the San Luis reservoir (near Pacheco Pass) included a surprise encounter with a full-grown, coiled rattlesnake. We resolved to dis-affectionately name him, "Lucifer", and to promptly leave the area.

While in Northern California, we were also reminded for how the people (formerly) of an institutional church are still the same people when they meet in one another's homes - unless God has since changed them from within. And further, (this being more difficult still,) single-generation single-family living is not transformed to koinonia merely by the appearance in your living room of a Christian assembly or Bible study. To know the Body of Christ for the community that it is, we must step faith-forward out of segregated life and into the fullness of Christ. Only by God may we be equipped in such courage, trust and love.

The sojourn in Southern California, and to a little spot called "Sylmar" along the mass of urban verve known as Los Angeles. Their upcoming Friday gathering was to be called off (note for brethren we met in more Northern zones: cancellations, 'change of plans' and a busy pace are somewhat more accepted & defended in California), and so we were honored to meet with Dean Wilson and talk awhile about the things God has done and is doing in us, and around us. Dean reminded us for the many thousands here who have been drawn into "megachurch" in their search to have perceived needs filled. Exhilaration and social brush-bys become poor substitutes for spiritual well being. It will be our prayer that as thousands of "seekers" continue in discovery for how God lives above the mega programs, many will seek Him and will find Him in the grace, truth and power of the real Jesus Christ. May opened eyes adore Him, as they take another look at His Word and receive His Spirit to life.

What's it like on the road to visit the churches in 2005? Much more physical comfort than any of the 12 Apostles knew.. While Paul's first missionary journey took months to complete, we're blessed to be able to cover the same distance 'round in about 15 hours travel. We stop wherever God provides a place for need; often "just in time," before sleep would overtake us. Study, preparations & reflection may be done while moving down the highway - sometimes also testing me with 'motion sickness'. Meeting with the brothers everywhere, there's a temptation to acceptingly receive more from all the hospitality offered us.. yet, we know the Lord would have us make good use of the time to complete this Journey. For speed, our food is often prepared over propane stove. "Fast food" sometimes helps in bridging calendar commitments. And, as from the story below, once a week or so we entertain sister Chrystal's favorite food:
One day while in Portland, we went in search of a well-recommended Mexican restaurant. This one was said to have the best in food and decor, going by the name “El Sombrero”. Not long, and we had found it.. or so we thought. There were three eating places arranged in a row. The first sign read, “La Catalina”. Not it. Following this, “El Sombrero” was visible from the road. We walked in, and there to see but a few tables and a nearly empty building in search of its renovation. Had we misunderstood our friend's description? The service was poor and the food was weak and scarce. We ate their small portion, paid our ticket, and looked to see, “La Iguana”. Where was the Sombrero?!? As it would be, the entrance to El Sombrero is through a narrow walkway and gate adorned in tropical plants & arbors. The next day we would visit El Sombrero to savor the real thing. This experience for us became a parable in The Journey 2005.
Now we're traveling on to visit more of the small churches in California. Thank you all for your prayers and words of encouragement, questions, correction - we love you!

The Journey 2005 - part 9

Dear brothers & sisters, fellow travelers on the straight road to life,

From Los Angeles, we're next on our way to the high desert. Temperatures are approaching 110F, with wind. The Lord guides us steady-on to meet Bob & Sandra of the church in Morongo Valley. Their testimony includes many former years of work as a professional preacher family. They shared with us knowledge for how the New Testament doesn't prescribe church to be lived and taught by the hands of a few or by an outside man hired-in.

How did we arrive with the popular model, steeple, weak & weekly 501(c) assembly? Many today seem to fault Constantine - the emperor who insisted that the Christian churches of Rome look & function like a State institution. Yet, even before the State turned from persecuting the church to summarily redrawing it, there had been prevalent changes to portray a growing internal rebellion against what God had revealed for the Son's Beloved Bride. The visible church slipped into progressive mixing of philosophy and paganism with faithful apostolic tradition. These shadows came alongside the Bride through roughly a millennium of "dark ages," followed by the unwillingness of most reformers & restorers to address the pulpit (rather than hide behind it). As church orders veered away from the Master's, thousands of sects were birthed in the gap to assume their own twists and turns. In the present age, we've finally come to the end of our own ways & means as millions awaken to grieve the waste, fraud and impotence of the virtual church.

Our fellowship in Morongo Valley unfolded as a reminder for the importance of doing what you know, and not just teaching truth or just learning about more that we might be doing in Christ. Yet in this, compassion was raised in our hearts, as we personally identify with what it is like to have been trained beneath stained glass ideology in how to keep from ever growing up without thinking much about it. Habits of our past religious failures must be taken to The Cross and Grace of our Lord just as any other burden or sin. Our prayer for Morongo Valley is that they will soon discern how the time is short, the days are evil; now is the day of Salvation. [Ephesians 5:14-17; II Corinthians 6:1-2]

Tecate is a true border-town along highway 188, split between US California and Baja Mexico. Ned & Darlene Nedderman had shared with us about a working mission there, and we found ourselves with two days to travel and visit this established work just 1500 feet from the crossing. The Tecate Mission is in a good location to love and teach many Mexican families while also carrying on a smaller work in the US. Their primary thrust being education for the children (who are permitted a special educational visa), with also a Bible correspondence school, 15 church plants, food & needs ministry, English church gatherings, and coordination for about 1000 people each year who will travel in groups (many from Oregon & Washington) for short-term missions work in Mexico. See how God can grow the work in willing hearts? Rick quickly invited us to "come and help" at Tecate. Why didn't I pay more attention to my Spanish language studies?? {grin}

Next to a place called "Lake Elsinore," and another assembly that wasn't to be for this week. Then on to Vista, California, for Sunday morning where we gathered together with about a dozen; including a plethora of youngins. Robert taught by means of preaching, and then we sang a few songs together and enjoyed a common meal of leftover lasagna, cake & ice cream (all very good to the tummy).

While visiting the churches, we looked for "one accord" among and between them. In Southern California, "house has been reappraised at $500,000" was to hold as the most common thread we heard. Does the Kingdom of God consist in real estate values (and the labor required to hold them)?

On to the San Joaquin ["san hwha-keen"] Valley, and up to a foothill town called, "Coarsegold". Bob & Dawn Wallace have been opening their home for house church, but nobody in these parts really seems to want to come into Christian fellowship long-term. But that hasn't stopped them from taking the gifts God has given (including music talents) into prison ministry and local outreach. Yet, we weren't so much surprised to learn that they will soon be moving to Colorado as God has directed them out of California.

For all the churches visited, we found about ten in number who demonstrate an open door in opportunity for Christian work and service. Of these, Chrystal has heard from the Lord to go and serve Jesus Christ with a house church in Spokane, Washington.

For the 5 US states visited, the most common question we were asked: "What is meant by 24/7 ministry?" Among the ekklesia, we observed a variety of permutations and forerunners re: "24/7". We are learning evermore that becoming into Christ and His salvation includes a transformation in this life and for the next. This is why Christians curiously move to downsize or quit a job, pay off debts, reconcile conflicts, distribute their possessions; see the big (eternal) picture. [Luke 14:25-35] Those who handle the Cross of Christ as though it were a formality, a tithe, a moral code, a retirement bonus, a virtual commitment.. to do such is to miss the power of God unto salvation. "24/7" reflects lives lived serving together in the full knowledge of God, His indelible "light of the world"; glorifying Him in praise and prayer, with assurance setting aside countless distractions to serve the Almighty Father most completely every hour. These things are promised (and much more) for those who would follow Christ to live in Him. [Ezekiel 11:19-20; Hebrews 12]
24/7 (or, 18/7) ALIVE!     Every conscious effort of the day (and night) intent & focused upon heralding and building the Kingdom of God. (walking in the way of Christ, making disciples; doing good to all men, daily breaking bread in fellowship together..)
4/3 or 4/4 or 4/5 BIRTHING!     gathering together for koinonia for a few hours a day, faithfully more than 2 days a week.
2/2 CHILLY     gathering together twice per week.
2/1 COLD     gathering together once per week
1/0 DEAD     gathering together less than 40 times per year.
Sleeper, arise from the dead!
Some have kept men from the building
Some have slept while the work has moved on
Some have tried to rebuild in their image
Some have realized that their time is but gone

Some are making just a cabin for themselves
Some are waiting for a man to place the stones
Some are building outside Kingdom walls
Some are now coming to the Cornerstone

Some will say, "But, Lord.."
Some will not be still
Some will find His strength
Some will wait until..
May God be your shield and strength, your Hope in glory and for everything praiseworthy!

The Journey 2005 - part 10

Dear friends, brothers, fellow-travelers,

You remain in our hearts as you also travel along. The journey continues, even when the distance mapped is less.

Continuing to visit and re-visit the churches that are in Eastern Washington, we traveled deep into the grain fields near a town called Reardan. [Truly, “the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.”] Our gathering was to be in a 2-story log cabin home, beginning at the supper table. This is the time of year when harvest is full, and lightning-sparked fires just hours before had no doubt worked to ripened the urgency. How often have we seen spiritual “crop loss” of good fruit to trouble, by our waiting ‘til another day?

The church that meets in Reardan became a good encouragement to us, and we are glad for their strength in the Holy Spirit and in the Word of Truth. Our new friends from this “new works” assembly help to complete the presence and witness of Jesus Christ in this region of a desert land.

Faith and obedience to our Father has brought us together through koinonia as part of the Body of Christ. Each house church, fellowship, and other ekklesia we have visited have been blessed with spiritual gifts and opportunities to share God’s love, and are putting into practice the spiritual gifts appointed them. But as some functions are being realized, other functions are being left unperformed, leaving parts of the Body unable to excel and in some cases severing or tearing apart from one another. [1 Corinthians 12:21-27]

When man becomes the focus, then the more richly our lives are furnished with the ways of the world and more deceived we become by our apparent “good fortune”. [2 Corinthians 11:3] Believers (sometimes undiscerning) mistake the appearance of a ‘well to do’ lifestyle with a righteous walk and with thinking that others will follow along. Do we have the home well furnished and life full of activity to the neglect of our being the ‘poor in Spirit’ and to living a simple life, giving God the glory in all we do? So many times decisions are made: watch a movie or share in God’s word; sharing time with the family or the family serving in love with those in the community; stay home, be entertained; find isolation for our self-desired protection under a bushel or go into the open, letting His light shine putting to practice discipleship for all to see. Ask yourself, is this moment giving God the glory He deserves? Am I truly doing as He would have me do or am I doing as what my family, friends, or self want? [Philippians 2:13] Am I protecting those I love of myself, or have I given all our lives into the hand of God as my Protector? [Psalm 97:10]

As each new opportunity is revealed to us whether as an encouragement or a challenge we give all glory to our Father with humbled hearts in thanksgiving and prayer. It is through the walk of faith and the sharing of what God has and is doing that we are blessed. Blessings received are not so much for us, but for the sharing of all. [Galatians 6:9&10] In this we are content, and continue to walk with a joyful heart and eyes lifted high to the love from above.

A humbling thing came to demonstrate how the purposes of God will prevail over my (our) best intentions. Looking forward to the next step through one of 7 doors formerly open to us, I knocked but no one was answering. So I vainly thought, “Was everyone simply away for summer break?” But this was the hand of God. I had received the counsel of men -- from some to go, and from others to remain. It seemed best to me to promptly depart Spokane in anticipation of better things. Circumstance was also inclined to support no delay, while the Spirit of God would restrain me sevenfold. As the Lord submitted Himself to the Father, “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” [Matthew 26:39]

About half of the house churches we have visited have experienced little increase (or, had shrunk a bit) within the previous year or two -- regarding gain in spiritual maturity and effectiveness. The Nora Avenue house church (Spokane, WA) has also struggled and stalled. Quitting or “barely hanging on” won’t quite describe the overwhelming victory we have in Christ. [Romans 8] God has given us all things for His glory. Let’s move forward and glorify Him evermore. If faith is merely an inward thing to you, let God flow it out! If faith is simply an outward alteration to you, open your heart that Christ may come in!

“Where are all the people who would come?” Consider the parable about wedding invitations, read from the first part of Matthew 22. The greatest number of those invited would neglect (or refuse) the invite -- some with open antagonism. This is the sorrow we know for so many who will not leave with God their cares and come to the Fountain that is in Jesus Christ [the Bridegroom]. Then, there was someone who showed up in his old clothes. Big mistake.

We’re not fearful of the unbelieving crowd, nor with the man who comes into our midst believing that He can covertly join Christ without discarding his manner of “old clothes” and putting on the righteousness of Christ. [Galatians 3:27] Together, we will go out and teach (preach) the crowds, as this is what Jesus and His disciples do. We will not be surprised to see hundreds or thousands lose an ear for it, as this happened also to our Lord. Neither is “Judas” a worry for us because the Lord knows to discern the loyal heart from any self-driven man whom He will “send into outer darkness” after the devil has had his way with him on earth.

We are preparing to receive brothers: the family in Christ. What is needful for us?

  #1 We’re cleaning out the “old leaven”; eliminating what is truly displeasing to Almighty God. Who, seeking righteousness, would hope to be invited to a pig sty or to a house “trashed” with the works & bad fruit of idolatry, impurity, perversion, strife, jealousy, selfishness, ill temper, wobbly judgment or divisive ideals? “..first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside will become clean also.” [Matthew 23:26] No stone unturned, save the Cornerstone that is Christ! We want to be fully ready to receive the King and members of His entourage.

  #2 We are better learning how to admonish (exhort) one another without being quick to pass judgment upon another man’s standing. [Romans 14:4] “Religious leaders” reacted to the extraordinary works of Christ as being outside their zone of allowance (by intimation, objectionable to God & them). As He didn’t arrive bearing their standard or style, they challenged and unwelcomed Him -- ‘some with open antagonism.’ I do not hope to make their mistake. Would you?
[I Corinthians 4:5]

  #3 Jesus says, “watch out that the light in you may not be darkness.” [Luke 11:35] While darkness may foster a lot of talk or turmoil, it’s no match for the awesome power of God to overcome. We are embracing the light of Christ to shine in/from us with clear expectation that things will warm up; the impossible with men will show possible with God, ‘fruitful conflict’ will commence [II Corinthians 10:3-6], and “worthless”, “self-made” religion will find another home.
[Romans 12:21; 13:12; Ephesians 5:10-16]
[Colossians 2:20-23; James 1]
We are also learning from the children. While not all of the churches are yet blessed with little ones, we are all become as “little children” before our God. The Lord has wisely tasked His children with study, devotion, worship, “good news” and other actions of love. Play time? None such for the soldier of God. Seeing the little children day to night, we are reminded for how (left to our own time & ways) we may forget to show sufficient care for one another, injure ourselves, poorly apply the disciplines for life, etc. In His great goodness, the Father provides a steady hand of instruction and correction. Will I be like Him? Will I always come as a little child?

This morning I received an invitation that almost wasn’t. One of the children (age 6) had determined to invite me to the table by tossing handfuls of dry cat food down upon my head from atop the stairway. In the doing she announced, “This is how I will invite you to breakfast.” Hmmm. Her gesture made no sense to me, and left an immediate mess to clean. So I wondered, ‘Do I sometimes go to odd ends with what would otherwise be a simple spoken invitation?’ As it would be, a youngster was just being acutely inventive and requiring of correction.

Our “autonomy” is proving to be something difficult to jettison. Coming out from “separation of church and church” in the dark days of denominational and “non-denominational” organization, we don’t have much a clue for how to engage koinonia with the house church 7 blocks east -- much less those we love who serve the Lord some 700 miles further from.. except for hints & instruction within II Thessalonians 1, I Thessalonians 2 & 3, Philippians 1, Ephesians 4:4-6, I Corinthians 3 & 16, Romans 16, the Acts of the Apostles, and more. With Christ as the rightful Head of His Body (that’s us.. no more “us and them” in Him), no man-made independence from one another will be required to guard against popes or pulpit personalities.

How may we pray for you? Have you a good report from the work and witness of Jesus Christ? What of your journey may build others up in this great faith?

Please pray for the churches that gather together in Eastern Washington. To prevail as so few, (recall Gideon’s men!) may God make a bright light to overshadow works of darkness, vanity, hopelessness and religious façade.

It remains our hope to continue to visit the churches as the Spirit permits us, and that we may continue to know you vis-à-vis communications of letter, electronic, and news from those who are genuinely concerned for your welfare.

“May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men, just as we also do for you.”

      Marshall Diakon
        Chrystal Gill

The Journey 2005 - part 11

Dear friends,

Greetings in the precious name of our Saviour; Jesus Christ our Lord & King, The journey continues in Him!

We have left the Spokane house with our peace returning to us. The man of that house sought out trepidations instead of looking steadily by faith to Christ. It is written, “The just shall live by faith, and if he should ever be shrinking back, My soul will not delight in Him.” [from Hebrews 10:38-39] While there, we were unable to fully welcome saint or seeker. Thanks be to God, we’re on our way to know better what our Lord tells us is a worthy house. [Matthew 10:11-15]

Following a visit and prayers in the Kennewick (WA) area, and after returning from Portland, we were on our way to St. George, Utah, via Salt Lake City. While we were hoping to meet with a church in Cedar City, Utah, I [Chrystal] had the opportunity to share in a women’s bible study there. Meeting with a gathering of women who have the desire to walk away from the “four walls” environment and gather together in the name of Jesus, as he would have us, as one body lifted my spirit. They encouraged one another to study His word and support the men in their ministries. May they continue to seek Him first, continuing to look past the traditions and what “tickle our ears,” past the things that separate us from one another and hide His love.

Clues of ekklesia in Wyoming and Nevada had not been substantial.. While traveling through New Mexico, we encountered an immigration checkpoint. In excitement for our destination, all human minds went to “blank”, testing the patience of one INS officer. How may it be that we had been traveling North on hwy 25, having begun in Spokane? In this month, Colorado was to demonstrate the largest “ranch”.. and an elevated place: our water bottles expanded to near bursting from the heights! The Rocky Mountains have become somewhat of a Mecca for seminarian proponents of house church as “a movement”. We were not drawn so much to reckon with “big plans” for thousands of new house churches, but rather to perceive what the Spirit of God is founding for today and into tomorrow. It’s a narrow gate that leads to life; few are finding it.

We met with the church in Centennial at Erik & Sandy Edwards’ house. More than a dozen adults, plus children; and almost as soon as we arrived to know the joy in being together in the Lord, there came the recognition of their necessity for unity. It’s a common mistake for people to think to bring their own apprehensions to the Lord’s assembly and table. Yet, godly character and steadfast endurance have been planted into the Centennial church that they may overcome in all things in Jesus’ name! Should my informed, charismatic, popular, innovative, academic or passionate opinions ever count for something by you, what then of Christ?

We commend the brethren who meet in the South Denver area, knowing that they will not hide their knowledge of God beneath timidity. Your care for one another is obvious to all. Teach the children, strengthen the weak; see that every vessel is cleansed for the Master’s best use. Yet be testing all things, retaining the Lord’s ideal. Through Christ, we have overcome the world because He has overcome the world. [I Thessalonians 5:21; I John 2:14-17]

Robert, Dion and Deedee met with us in a café just outside of Broomfield (North Denver area). We seldom have witnessed such a clear recognition in hearts for the troubles of “institutional church” and the larger opportunity for men & women of God to be what business-style corporations and religious programs cannot realize: Jesus Christ eternal to a hungry, perplexed and dying world. This local ekklesia intently yearns to be led by God. That’s a heart value akin to having the Lord “build the house”. We were also encouraged to see their appetite for growth in Christ-like maturity, counting the cost, setting pace to follow Jesus Christ without lacking or lagging. “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is my strength and defense, whom shall I dread?” [Psalm 27:1]

A house church in Palmer Lake was no more, while in nearby Monument, Colorado, we spoke with Max Hatfield about a gathering there that moves from house to house. In the mountains west of Fort Collins, gladness was ours to visit with Christopher and Anavah, who had formerly been with a non-located group called, “The Brethren”. The caveat? Many discipleship-oriented efforts have adopted a sectarian ilk by embracing substitutional authority (an oligarchy or a prophet-pastor-pope to administer as if appointed superior in the roll of Jesus Christ on earth). When Christ is no longer Head, the body dies a spasmodic death for human error. The Holy Spirit had awakened Chris & Anavah in time, providing a truth-rescue from mutineers.

The brothers at Fort Collins also had great news to share about the on-going work in evangel [evangelism] there. God has put diligence in their hearts, the power of His Word to their tongues, and a light on the Front Range to overshadow the realm of darkness in Fort Collins.

While on the road to Colorado, highway rest stops of New Mexico led to a bit of inspiration. In New Mexico, we found these stops to be especially helpful, warm and inviting. Captured in still-life, some of these waypoints seemed the image of community with no town or city for miles beyond. Life’s rest stops aide what evangelists’ require: an oasis encounter with true rest, food and drink. How does this fit with challenge #2,743: the ineffectual merger of “seeker” meeting and Christian gathering?

Ekklesia gathering to do what Christ would have us do will seem strange to a newcomer. Yet even from first century times, disciples have been inviting (a few at a time) seekers & strangers into faithful gatherings (i.e., agape meal), where bread as the Body of Christ is broken and prayers are made and the works of God are visible and given with praise and.. well, to the common man, it’s odd. At times, Christian disciples have been mistaken by the world for cannibals, Spartans, mystics, masochists, anarchists, atheists, catastrophists.. walking in the way of Jesus Christ is evocatively different from commonplace - including common religious experience. While a roadside rest stop is not the ekklesia-meeting of Hebrews 12:22-24, would the weary traveler find good rest in such place prepared in good stewardship by children of the King? Two roads diverge, where Christ is seen in you! A peaceful, visible “off ramp” from gods of this world, that is the “on ramp” to the Bread of Life. This has come to prayer for us in whether the Lord would have us participate in the opening of like doorways to re-evangelism. [Matthew 11:28-30]

This and earlier Journey letters may now be seen at:

Please pray for the full opening of the “worthy house” website, if God wills, January 2006. In truth, we would be glad to see any materials (prayer, study, news, encouragement, admonition) you may be led by God to send forward for the sharing with seekers or saints.

The Journey 2005 - part 12

Dear friends who in love serve the King and Bridegroom forever,

“Keep alert! Stand firm in the faith. Act like true men! Be staunch! Let all your actions occur in love.”
[I Corinthians 16:13-14]

Returning from Colorado, we were soon moving along the road again through Washington, Oregon, and into southern California. From my worthless hackles, I wondered, “How would God be pleased that we return to L.A.?” But first, Bakersfield..

The church that meets at the Warren house seemed a little distracted by holiday faire, though enlivened through beginnings in apprehension of the greater glory of God’s Kingdom. When any man’s eyes are opened by God, even as the servant’s from II Kings 6:15-23, he is plunged from night to daylight. In their gathering together, the graces (even in teaching) were shared among, and diligence has reached to knock for God’s own.

We enjoyed the good fellowship with the brothers and sisters in Bakersfield, CA. Among them rings a founded hope to reclaim what the ekklesia has always been (away from the din of ‘brick-n-mortar’ religion’s sundries & vacancies). Materials & outlines supplied to us at Bakersfield have proven helpful in presenting content at the website (which is now available for view, though like His ekklesia: work in construction.) By the Lord’s awesome favour, we must encourage Jim, Todd, Milo, Grace, Anita, Lindley, Nella; all the saints.: Do not fear to lay down your lives each for Christ alone (and thereby for one another). He is ever present by His Spirit. Hope in Him never takes up vacation or halt. We ever press onward, upward, toward/in the calling of Christ.

Next, I [Marshall] would find to be in Vista, CA, at an all men’s meeting called, “Iron Sharpens Iron” [ref: Proverbs 27:17]. Times and troubles have pressed to birth many “parachurch” groups and functions. When men (or women) meet together to tackle problems and overcome issues, this can be helpful, as when the Holy Spirit is permitted full sway. [Ephesians 4:30] Yet, every parachurch (or, parekklesia) function is itself a result of ‘somewhere neglect’. Is it wise to build in one deficiency upon another? Dear friends, be all that Christ has enabled you to be; His Bride, empowered, faithful and true. How many focus groups are being undertaken today as a somehow result of our own inattention to whole-hearted service for the Living God?

The Vista men’s gathering is actively involved with the ekklesia in surrounding cities of Oceanside, Carlsbad, San Marcos, Escondido, and beyond; a region ~30 miles NNW of San Diego. Various Bible studies and agape` gatherings are mildly networked (not formally), making for a more regional expression in ekklesia. At this point in time, sister Chrystal would need attend to matters in Oregon and Wisconsin, while I gladly sought in hope a better understanding to the well-being of the Bride in the Vista region.

The Jude letter includes a sharp warning regarding those who separate themselves, and for how it happens. Are we now led by soul or Spirit? In the journey, we have met a few families, as well as individuals, intent upon separating themselves from the Bride (even to taking exception or fault-finding against faithful New Testament apostles; disparaging prophets or martyrs) and in moving to hold themselves to a standard other than Jesus Christ. What other flag could be higher in truth? Their fatal inclination, subtly lent from practices of sectarian institutions, may leave a man and his house believing that they will find God’s favour in re-building the foundation of Christ with the stone and flesh of the Law given through Moses. Self-separation becomes the result, since the old law (being now a veteran, as the new has come: Hebrews 8:13) served us well as a tutor; an escort to Christ that we may be justified by faith. [Galatians 3] The Law is good, if one uses it lawfully. [I Timothy 1:8] Yet, to make the Bride of Christ in the image of Levitical ordinance (or in any other now passing thing) would be unlawful, and quite impossible.

The fearful may scoff, “not what I believe,” pulling back into his own corner of a corner. It is written, “Remember the things declared before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they said to you, ‘In the last time will come scoffers, who move in accord with their own desires.’ These are the ones who isolate themselves, being soulish and not welcoming the Spirit.” [Jude 1:17-19] And regarding this, we too have often been tempted to isolation of fear. Yet, God is faithful; He who is fully delivering us away from ourselves and our old habits. He is the author of unity in His ekklesia, making what we might personally desire or “believe” (again and again) subject to Him.

Simi Valley sits in valleys between Santa Clarita and the California coastline. As with this ekklesia, many “house churches” meet in apartment homes or condominiums (as did they also from early N.T. times). Adam welcomed us to a room full of young adults with a zeal for God indomitable. ‘But for Christ, I have no other reason to live.’ We praise God for such faith in all of California!

Paul writes to young Timothy, “Let no one be despising your youthfulness.” And, he wasn’t jesting. Still, there’s something sinister stalking this ekklesia (and many others): sectarianism. Doesn’t sound all too risky, until we realize how the temptation to separate from others (or embellish upon distinctions) remains the only effective vise to washout the prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17..

Dear friends, another wave of ‘open theism’ and ‘masculine Christianity’ is currently being absorbed by sections of the institutional church, re-introduced largely through the pop writings of John Eldridge and others, breaking to fall near hearts fully given to Jesus Christ. (Do book-n-fad themes have their play in the church that meets at your house?) A poetic man may derive much money and fame by amalgamating the word of new age teachers, Hollywood writers, eastern mystics, Jesus Christ, and psychologists. Only the heart of an unregenerate man roams wild to dare wrap God Almighty with the gods & prophets of this earthly world. If your ears are ever itching, ticklish.. hear what the Lord has to say of, and for, Himself. You have a Bible? Its devoted use, with a pure welcome of the Holy Spirit, supports life and overcomes risk, both for today and evermore.
[Acts 17:11; Philippians 4:6-7; I Thessalonians 5:21-22 II Timothy 4:3]

“I exhort you, that you all agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
[I Corinthians 1:10]

End of separation.

     Marshall Diakon
     Chrystal Gill

continue to  The Journey 2006-2007