The Journey 2006-2007
The Journey 2006 - part 1
Dear friends who in love serve the King and Bridegroom forever,
Such grace from God, that we may continue the Journey this year with hope to see more of the wonders of His love among the ekklesia. To pray for you, and to share your praises of God, is to us like conveying the flowers of fragrance to our Father. How very short this life’s sojourn is, and yet it brings opportunity for you and I to prepare into eternity.
Since last we wrote you: our sister Chrystal, even as a daughter to me, served as unto the Lord in Portland (OR, USA) in a house that does not yet know Jesus to be their way and truth and life; while I remained in southern California, each waiting upon the Lord for news by His direct.
Wherever Christ is denied that same love He holds for men, brief sadness comes to heart
During four months in Vista, I was witness to doubly-fallen men who day by day longed for repentance, but could not find it. [Hebrews 6:4-6] Faintheartedness from decades of beach-seeker 501(c)'s had overtaken men forlorn from the broken promises of a false gospel. There, I chanced to see how the Protestant emperor's new clothes had been largely fashioned by the original Martin Luther - the Reformer. In the lie of “cheap grace”, Luther cleverly speaks today, as he has said, “Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here in this world we have to sin. This life is not a dwelling place of righteousness
No sin will separate us from the lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day.”
Like blind men tramping pearls into the sand, the awesome power of the Holy Spirit had been exchanged for a Disneyland-styled counterfeit: the control of perpetual sin, ego and comfort in material things. Millions have died in this way. When men in pride adopt their own rules, evading the heart of God, this becomes anomia [lawlessness]. It was the winter of 2005-2006 at “Ichabod.” [I Samuel 4] Dear friends, don’t be caught in the nude like this, most especially on that final day, when a clean set of wedding clothes will be an absolute “must have”. [Matthew 22:1-14]
The righteousness of Christ: Don't earn it or dream it, grow up in it!
We would first return to Colorado, and a brief hike in Eleven Mile Canyon, to be reminded that loose stones do not make a firm footing. In Westminster (a Denver suburb), we were welcomed-in by Rob & Sharon, and the church that meets in their house. After renewing acquaintance, and meeting together again, it was up into the Rocky Mountains for another gathering at the Smith house in Dillon (CO). The church that meets at Scott & Tina’s house has a “Big Red Bus” outfitted for missions excursions. We met together for prayer, introspection and readings from the Bible. Scott had come out from position of office in the IC, and we talked for awhile regarding thousands now leaving behind brick-n-mortar faith, and for thousands of these still who may betray a departure yet unfinished. What to do, when you know that “something isn’t right” down at the local church building, while still captivated for the many faces, programs, or weekly “spoon-feeding” of a religious system? We’re waking up from 100 to 500+ years of “formationism”, fraud and default, much as the first disciples of Jesus had their eyes opened and the hearts empowered to upset a world of religious nonsense devised through centuries of error, neglect, scribes, and Pharisees. (The answer to apostasy is our return to Christ -- “First Love”.)
For the mission to be fully empowered to the glory of God, incarnational will precede missional in each child of His. Mission lives from Christ in you, as His incarnation always brings the words and deeds that He does. We admonish the brothers & sisters of the church in Dillon to induce by faith the incarnation of Christ for all who come in repentance to be baptized into Him, from the youngest to the oldest.
Can faith and good works be accomplished inside the old edifices of religion? Yes, a soldier of the Lord is bold to enter the darkest of places, right up to the gates of Hades. [Matthew 16:18] Even among fallen and deluded men, the grace and truth of Christ is able to find way to the heart that will permit Him. (There once were two thieves to be crucified with Christ; for one, this would mean life.) We thank God for those presently working within the IC for the Kingdom of God, Fred, Mark, Terry, Daniel, Doug, and for those we not yet know. Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. He makes His messengers His mighty warriors.
The church that meets at Tom & Jennifer’s house, in Highlands Ranch (CO), begins with a meal together that includes reports from the war and graces of prayer & faith. Love also prompts them to maintain contact with brothers & sisters who have traveled distant by the Lord’s call. Our gathering included song and praises, prayer, and a trip to a local hospital, where we continued in thanks to God, encouraging one another, as a young couple there had recently welcomed a new baby boy just a few weeks earlier than all expected.
It is a pleasant blessing to see the love of God in control, even as the law of Christ and the law of the Spirit. Friends, the law of God is holy, and we ought not ever demean it, (as it has convicted us of sin, and it speaks of Christ,) while His Holy Spirit now enables all of what God requires in us. Today, even if your name doesn’t happen to be Noah, Job, or Daniel, [Ezekiel 14:14,20] in Christ you will be overflowing with His ability to be just and overcoming! And, if anyone is tempted in desire to control, he/she may consider from Romans 9. Any one of us who may be drawn to follow that one so tempted may reconsider from wisdom at Isaiah 2:22.
The Amana community came to mid-west America as a German colony in 1855. The Amana townships remain as an Iowa historical site, located a few miles southwest of Cedar Rapids. Not far from I-80, we entered Amana. Large redbrick buildings, some joined, no single-family homes to be seen. The word “amana” means “ever-faithful”, but the Christian community of Amana lacked the firmest foundation in Christ. Over time, individualism reduced Amana to business ventures and a cultural articulation. Possibly you have used an Amana kitchen appliance? Today, the name “Amana” is owned by the Maytag corporation.
Pray for us. May the Lord have our undistracted devotion; that we will bless and be “amana” in Christ.
“That the Lamb might receive the reward of His suffering”
memo to account: The Journey 2005 for 2, ~$4,500 US dollars were used (~$2,500 provisioning ~$2,000 fuel & oil) as God supplied for need in full.
II Peter 1:2-11
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness; and in your brotherly kindness, Christian love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance unto the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”
The Journey 2006 - part 2
Dear friends of the Great King Jesus our Messiah,
Mighty is our God to carry us by, or through, every storm; any low valley; every dry place. We last wrote you of the journey in Amana, Iowa. Crossing into Ohio
Eli & Verna Yoder welcomed us into their home in hospitality and grace, from where we came to attend a fairly small IC church called “Faith Christian Fellowship,” in Coshocton, Ohio. Their members are informally allied with Charity/Ephrata Christian Fellowship, a relatively new fusion of Mennonite and Baptist consecrations. In Coshocton, we met gentle people inclined to external markers, (i.e, number of children, appearance, pulpit, program
) seemingly unaware in how artificial expectations fleece the inner work of God.
Have you ever been by the faith agora? Many people go there to “look” for faith or fellowship, even as a person might make another dash to Wal-Mart. ‘Father above, recall in us from where our spiritual blessings come.’
Since faith in Jesus Christ comprises no rifts, the devil did first devise replicas that can be tampered. A system of faith becomes his poor copy to be, where men can assume that they now understand God in a reasonable way (by their own understanding). Thereafter, another copy is made, with copies of the copy, until there be hundreds of sects and innumerable sub-sects to occupy the hearts of men. The oft-subtle shift from faith-reality to faith-system (method) leaves behind the power of the Gospel -- first to life, and then to salvation.
[II Timothy 3]
Not far from Erie, in the northwest corner of Pennsylvania, is a little town called Guys Mills. Once there, we met with John & Bobbye Bower. As we sat together at table and talked, the story and heartache of faithful love unfolded
. When this house church had first begun gathering in their home as to be ekklesia, there was a “Sunday School” time, a prayer time, a song time, a message time, etc. But God soon brought them face-to-face with the fact that what they were doing was only a copy of what was being done in the IC (though without some of the baggage that goes with traditional churches). Since that revelation, they have only been coming together under the headship of Christ. The “copy” was gladly exchanged for the Original -- though not for everyone
Many churched people are accustomed to the idolatry of manufactured faith and men of position, being unaware or unwilling to take up the Spirit of Truth, the Kingdom that is not of this world, and a Calvary-walk with Jesus Christ. In Guys Mills, as elsewhere, this would yield the visible result of fewer people gathered. Thousands were pared to hundreds, and hundreds were sifted to a dozen minus one, who walked in the garden with Jesus. [Matthew 7:13-14; John 6:61-69] Soon after, it would be reported that these few had turned the world upside down! [Acts 17:6] We thank God for His wisdom to sustain His ekklesia as His precious possession (and not through a church bell “cattle call”).
Traveling onward to Bangor, Maine, we spoke with Jesse about taking fellowship with people who may hold faith distinctives that seem adverse (to our own). Jesse had recently pulled back from his fourth house church. We encouraged him (as even now again) not to fear the various cults and “weird doctrines” that may float by, but to discern, reprove, admonish, rebuke, with great patience, instruction; every word of Christ. [Colossians 3:12-17; II Timothy 4:1-2; Titus 2] A truly “factious man” [Titus 3:10-11] is one who readily prescribes or practices factions (division). Remember for how we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. [II Corinthians 5:18] If someone should leave the house carrying a deadly doctrine absent full reproof, they likely will soon transmit their error to your brother or your children. Also, the ekklesia is zealous in the Spirit of God to jointly (many local ekklesia in one accord) address false teaching/teachers. Our visit to the State of Maine helped to confirm that, in the places we gather to His name, a watchman is of more grace than a bouncer.
On the road to New York, by telephone we were invited to lunch for the following day at Bob’s house. The Rozzoni’s have been meeting from house to house for several years, with house church that multiplied in and around a place called Dryden. We arrived to learn that Bob had been called out, (the Rozzoni’s operate a growing chimney business,) and so we sat down to learn from Pam (Bob’s wife) of the church there.
Bob & Pam are excited about growing together in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, but while the anecdote from Mark 4:18-19 is boldly testing for their lives. Please pray for all the ekklesia, that we not be distracted or taken-in by the cares of this world.
While the grace of God is open to anyone who will come, “open church” may also inspire an open door to various waves of trendy or “captivating” doctrine. From our former IC (in Oregon), these “waves” did also find their way in, tossing men & truth into the shoals. Fun to play in the surf? Ephesians 4:14-15.
The faithful covenant we know is the New Covenant, sometimes called the New Testament. It leads to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. [Revelation 19] God writes and signs the covenant, and its consummation [end] brings the realization of what was promised by/in covenant. We have been betrothed to Christ. [II Corinthians 11:2] While marriage holds until a death cuts short its flesh union, the New Covenant of Jesus Christ escorts us to a consummation that cannot fail for those who know Him (who are known by Him). Is the New Covenant in Christ’s blood sufficient for us? Yes, and more. Why, then, does the Bride today appear to be scattered and shambled? We were soon to learn more about her trouble
In Pennsylvania, we prayed for understanding in a place called Norristown. Two men did greet us, they having walking together for many years in the name of Jesus Christ, awaiting ekklesia while “on the back-burner”. Have you ever found yourself (as I have) moved to the sidelines, too far back to see the engagement? To be sure, “back-burner” is a place of lukewarmness in a double-mind.
A runner must run for the finish line, if he would expect to win. Who would delay 10, 20, or 30 years, now that the race has begun? Knowing this, we do not permit the faltered pace of spectators to exempt the work of Christ in us. Neither would we wait for God to meet with our understanding of Him, nor should we fail to recognize the caveat against “our vision”. [Isaiah 55:8-9] We all must run to win, and not merely to survive the day.
[I Corinthians 9:23-27; Hebrews 12:1-2]
Our first real taste of east-coast thunderstorm came in Maryland, during the wee hours of the morning: overlapped thunder & lightning strikes reflecting the awesome power of our God. Traveling further south through Virginia and the Carolinas, fields of golden lilies appear as a common sight.
Entering the Carolinas, we began to see a large number of small church buildings with adjoining graveyard for their members. Before relational churching was taken-up by a number of house church guests & chefs, it formed the median for church house brotherhood (loyalty) in the South.
Between Durham and Raleigh, there’s the little city of Cary, where we visited the ekklesia that meets at the Well’s house. This day, the gathering would be in picnic pool-party style. God soon opened the heavens and the rain poured down! Thunder, and everyone was admonished out of the pool. Back at the house, we sat together with some of the members to hear testimony of the Lord’s good work in this place. A little later that day, and again on the next, we would talk with the man there whose name had most often received praise.
It was much like something we had seen before
“Bible club” (southern style), where Matthew 16:24 is reckoned as taking time out of my busy schedule to talk with a brother or maybe enjoy a friendly game of golf. Using reasoned Bible “principles” for living, they had come to miss the Source. How essential it remains that the followers of Jesus Christ each receive wisdom & power from above.
[Luke 24:49; I Corinthians 1:22-31]
Traffic woes had made us late (by about 2 hours) to the Friday night gathering in Inverness (FL). The brothers welcomed us in anyway, sharing also a vision for 5,000 house church plantings, with HC network connections, in central Florida. These men & women are gifted of God. We thought it curious that, after hearing their testimony of IC failures, the institutional method of “organization” was presented to us as a trusted partner. The spirit of Constantine lingers to lure the insecure? ‘Father, God, break us free from the futile ways of the world with its production of religion.’
The ekklesia in North Fort Meyers would not be physically present with one another on the week between June & July. We arrived there from venturing south along interstate 75, to talk with one of the brothers at a local restaurant, as he shared from his journey. So often we have been glad to hear a pilgrim’s progress recounted, as the Lord of the way is faithful. Many snares are placed along the way, dear brother. The way is lit by Christ.
And here we are, writing to you today from Georgia: land of goo goos and green boiled peanuts; listening to a raucous chorus of July Flies* through the evening mist. Having traveled from West to East, North to South, most often among those who proclaim Jesus Christ we have found men who are “in this world and of this world,” now and then discovered the fewer “not in this world, not of this world,” and only ever so scant to see those who are “in this world but not of this world.” For a few days, His blessed children live in a place overrun with materialism, hedonism, individualism, and many other schemes of the wicked. The faithful few, one as He is One with the Father.
“Beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith, be praying in the Holy Spirit and keep yourselves in the love of God, anticipating the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ into eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting. Rescue others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment tainted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory flawless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time, now and through the ages to come. Amen.”
* JULY FLIES: also called magicicadas; normally emerge and sing their song every seventeen years while hidden in the trees of Northern Georgia; sometimes hundreds of thousands of them per acre.
The Journey 2006 - part 3
Dear friends who in love know Jesus Christ over all,
Greetings in joy! We are brought ever closer through the love of our Father. May no distance held by miles or discord deter our pilgrimage with you. For we are the work of our Father's hand [Isaiah 64:8, Ephesians 2:10] and it is by Him that we not labor or keep watch in vain. [Psalm 127:1] As His temple [1 Corinthians 6:19 & 20] we are made to be earthen vessels, [2 Corinthians 4:7] able to withstand adverse conditions [Matthew 7:24 & 25] for He is our Rock [Psalms 18:1 & 2]. No longer strangers and outsiders, but fellow-citizens with all the saints, and of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being our Corner Stone. Through Whom the whole building, being fitted harmoniously together is growing into a Holy temple in the Lord. In Him we also are being built together into a dwelling of God through the Spirit. [Ephesians 2:19-22] What a blessing it is to stand at the threshold of the house of our God rather than to dwell in the tents of the wicked! [Psalm 84:10]
The city of Atlanta cast a shadow for contrast over what is new, and what is old, side-by-side. From west to east, then southward... on this warm afternoon, ekklesia in Marietta (GA) would lead us 20 minutes north along I-75 to a horse-training ranch near Emerson & Acworth. A sister there shared with us a short testimony of her love for God and youth. Her sister, whom she loved dearly, was killed through the actions of a teenager. She has since passionately reached out to share God’s love and truth with those who come upon the Ranch. Whether spoken or no, each member recognized the beauty of Creation in that place as we sat among picnic tables and happy children. Brother Greg helped us take to song that night and, as the day drew back, one of the women shared an admonition for the sisters there. Some of our time together fell to controversial questions [Titus 3:9], and a number of the brothers were seen part shy to present the word of truth (that thereby all might be strengthened.)
[II Corinthians 3:12-14; Titus 2:15]
Slackness leaves an open door. After the evening had passed, I thought back to childhood days on the dairy farm in New Hampshire, and how I there learned by the lesson of work & loss not to foolishly leave the pasture gate open.. not for what may slip in, nor for who might stray out. Blended notions from psychologists, spiritualists, popular authors, and who-knows-who, have oft’ been making inroads with friends, sisters & brothers because it’s just all too easy to be restin’ on laurels or comforts again the splendor of a setting sun.
On to Conyers (GA), where we met with Tom & David of “Hand To Hand”, an inner city Atlanta parachurch ministry. The night’s team made rendezvous, and we drove away together for this week’s invasion of city parks, abandoned buildings, and the underground rail caverns of Atlanta, to bring water & sandwiches in the name of Jesus to people who wander homeless. To be told, a number of “homeless ministries” operate in Atlanta, side-by-side, yet apart from one another. Like “Hand To Hand,” many ministries have experienced their beginnings under the business-organization impediment so common to ICs and 501(c) incorporation. As we made rounds, the brothers recounted success stories from former years. Yet, an exponential difference between what was being done and what the Spirit of God yearned to complete would urge our hearts to ache. The evening’s allotment would testify to the part-time, part love, part distraction of organized religion’s charitable hand that has (with irony) helped shape homelessness to an institution in America. Even so, love refused to succumb as we stopped to help a young woman with a flat tire and deflated spare in a dark, discarded ‘hood. “Merciful Father, may You be pleased to release your servants in every hour to Your bidding. Forgive me for ever thinking that there is a time or place where You are not to be first in all things.”
A man named Lawrence Clark invited us to a Sunday morning with Power of Grace in Suwanee (GA). Four or Five large families, plus a visiting ekklesia, nearly packed the house (which had been constructed with thought to gathering.) After a time of sharing & song, Lawrence taught for about an hour. I sat quietly and somewhat in shock, never before to recall having heard as many errors spoken within as short a span. Few words from the Bible had been presented, little context, and so I looked with hope that what we had seen & heard was by then accidental. As it is written, “love.. hopes all things”. Within the week, we had opportunity to visit with Lawrence, his family, and another brother from Power of Grace, where we fell under some interrogation. Our answer in declaring water baptism by immersion and of marriage as two becoming one flesh, saw Lawrence to cry out, “Heresy!” Suwanee-Buford proved our first clear sighting of a dangerous well.
The Body of Christ is a whole lot greater than ‘my small network of friends’. May the will of God be for us that we not be straying. “Most precious Father above, guard us to lose not the truss of ‘One faith, One Lord’, ekklesia with ekklesia across town, around the globe and through time.”
The Lord straightway brought relief from our sorrow, as we traveled south of Atlanta to Ellenwood (GA). All began with a peaceful welcome and meal together, which included a brief eucharist. Trepidations regarding I Corinthians 14 “open meeting” tend to fade as the ekklesia in Ellenwood gather together with humble hearts before the Lord our King. As the Holy Spirit of God is allowed, strengthening, edification, and works of service may be faithfully and powerfully known on the earth.
Leaving Georgia, we journeyed south to Lillian, Alabama, just west of Florida’s panhandle border. The Good’s serve at a ministry house & farm in rural Lillian. Friends came by, and we shared together about revivals past, works of the Spirit, practice in ekklesia, and the great adventure that is to the kingdom of Christ. That evening, there was a particular story recounted that fetched dialogue about “family idolatry”. We thank God, how He lovingly prompts His people in discovery for the more difficult challenges, and for sins (shortfalls) that so easily would beset us.
En route to Missouri, we were blessed in being welcomed to the Fortenberry house in Brandon, Mississippi. Their southern hospitality isn’t just “southern,” it’s philoxenia [Greek: fond-lodging; Romans 12:9-13]. It was a warm afternoon, as we talked about ekklesia gatherings and sometimes unintended/adverse result of external creeds upon unity. Dinner together, a gracious parting, and we were off to Missouri.. a place with the smallest ants I’ve ever seen..
Something was to happen in the little town of Vienna (MO), profound, to tell as the excerpt below from Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”:
“The name of the man was Little-Faith; but a good man, and he dwelt in the town of Sincere. The thing was this. At the entering in at this passage, there comes down from Broadway-gate, a lane, called Dead-Man’s lane; so called because of the murders that are commonly done there; and this Little-Faith going on pilgrimage, as we do now, chanced to sit down there and sleep. Now there happened at that time to come down the lane from Broadway-gate, three sturdy rogues, and their names were Faint-Heart, Mistrust, and Guilt, three brothers; and they, espying Little-Faith where he was, came galloping up with speed. Now the good man was just awaked from his sleep, and was getting up to go on his journey. So they came up all to him, and with threatening language bid him stand.”
Love is the mark of Christ; love that is invariably communal.. faith, hope & love. Arriving in Missouri my spirit was burdened, even to the waste of sin, beneath earthly caution. But the Meyer family opened to us in good welcome, and the grace of God willed sufficiency for all. Theirs is a large house, warm, with petite faith and the grand love of God. How precious it is for brothers to dwell together in unity. For a few days, we would contemplate together the communal facets disciples share, such as our taking bread together, common labors, shared prayer & praises to God, sufferings, charity, the whole, heart & soul. As embarked from Acts 2 & 4, holy community dwarfs any simple inclination toward common dogma, dress & amity. O for how it rattles the material man!
About this time in the Journey, news arrived of certain Pharisees in the institutional way, among those who found not to bid us Godspeed. Though Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem linger by, our Lord remains steadfast that we walk with Him above their hullabaloo and foolish complaint. Possibly you have met these doubtful fellows beside the way?
[Nehemiah 1-7; John 7:24]
Day by day that we might ever cooperate in our Savior’s heart, He saw me next to be both greatly encouraged and humbled: an open door in New England was prepared and I would travel on ahead, whereas Chrystal would continue 3 weeks in koinonia at Vienna. The ekklesia is a context where maturity in Christ, and not mere behavior of religion, is spawned. We are delighted, and not troubled, by all that the Holy Spirit works in those He lives.
A confession: for about 18 months past, I have looked forward to see our sister Chrystal find a place of peace to serve the Lord, but I now know that I have acted in presumption and under weak advice. Along the Journey, at several times, I had left Chrystal with one family or another, though none of these efforts proved well for her. I had reasoned (poorly) that ‘separate’ would be better than ‘together’ in Christ. And now I am left to wonder.. how many times I may have erred toward brothers or sisters in this way? All of the demands from moralists, individualists and American culture combined cannot excuse me. I have been divisive in a personal way and against true wisdom from the Scriptures: “a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Also, my initial disappointment for not instead having a brother in Christ with whom to travel fed a sad attitude within me, allowing for contention & strife. I confess these sins knowing that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.. also, as you may forgive me for permitting this fault to persist during the time of our visits and messages with you. Thank you for your prayers. Our merciful Father turned me around in Westfaylia, Missouri, on July 23rd, 2006.
May we offer a quick account in testimony of His work among you? [2005-2006] You are blessed with spiritual gifts and opportunities to share God’s love, as He is still gifting, calling, choosing and empowering
Among you, we have encountered:
Excitement & anticipation for Jesus Christ
Hospitality and grace
“Your care for one another is obvious to all”
Coming together under our Head, our Master: Jesus Christ in one mind, one accord.
Dissolution of parachurch
The neglect of neglect
An indomitable zeal for God
Ears that no longer itch for the latest scratch
Soldiers & conflict in the battle for souls
Deliverance from autonomy/factions
Coming into the fullness of Christ
Restoring discipleship, agape` love, spiritual maturity and Christian community.
Enlivened through apprehension of the greater glory of God’s Kingdom.
A heavenly passion for faithfulness to Christ
The opening of re-evangelism
Men relearning a shepherd's heart as the servant's heart
Children with heavenly light in their eyes
Waking to embrace those whom God is calling out from false religion.
Incarnational evoking missional
Escape from the “four walls” environment to gather together in the name of Jesus; His One Body parousia (present), global, historic (timeless).
Intrepid, discerning, reproving, admonishing, rebuking, with great patience, instruction; every word of Christ.
[Colossians 3:12-17; II Timothy 4:1-2; Titus 2]
What a wonder in mercy is our God!
The Journey 2006 - part 4
Dear friends of our Eternal Love, Jesus of Nazareth,
How can we fully explain the faithfulness of heaven’s Prince, the King of Kings? For a short time we sojourn with His Spirit, then forever to delight in His presence.
Near to our last writing, we would depart Missouri for New England. As with Bunyan’s “Christian”, a Hill of Difficulty waited. The Master had appointed that we climb this hill, and that I see with these eyes my own family members, as Hypocrisy & Formalist, walking along paths marked “Destruction” and “Danger”. Horrifying to look and realize the interminable loss of those nearest by blood. I looked, and I lingered as my flesh soon began to fail under an almost fatal infection. I had stayed where I should not have remained. In weakness of the flesh, knowing that I should step away and continue forward in the Journey, for weeks I was sorrowed upon the “hill” with dreadful winds up from the Dark Mountains. I recognized my fault, prayers were made for me, and the Lord spared my life there.
Yet, while in Vermont, we visited house gatherings associated with POCAF, and a man named Lee Johndrow. How may weakness be so steadfast? Lee, an evangelist and determined businessman, was kind to explain his desire to dissolve every boundary between the “profane and sacred”. “Profane” is an old-English word to describe what is of common use in the ordinary world. “Sacred” most often refers to what is sanctified or “set-apart” for specific purpose of use. Vermont would serve precursor to our brush with Pantelism in Monongahela. But first...
Brother Eric had contacted us from Coatesville, Pennsylvania, inviting us to come, as we had not done so earlier while visiting small ekklesia in PA. This time, we were blessed to have a few days with the Schwandt family, in peace and the privilege to serve (Eric is building a new house for is dad.) Seven children, all of music, and in the knowledge of the Lord. There were patriarchal gatherings here. I am beginning to understand for how the enemy’s two millennia of cunning schisms have so much separated brothers as to presently favor patriarchal togetherness (dad with mom and children) over ekklesia (a number of men, along with women and children) in these present times. But the righteousness of Christ never directs us into the lesser of two evils.
On to Monongahela, and our visit with George & Bonnie Howell. We had contacted George through a website known as “WaterCarriers”. Now, the site had gone down, and we ventured to see if all is well. No, it wasn’t a technical or internet problem for Water Carriers. George had dropped the site following a change of faith, and with some zeal left to convert us thereto. What had he changed to? Pantelism: the conviction that all prophecy was fulfilled/completed in the work of Jesus Christ upon His crucifixion at Golgotha. Pantelism creates a complex argument with a simple result: nothing matters anymore; everything’s already played out about 33 A.D./C.E. (without apology to Preterism’s 70 A.D./C.E. hinge). It is a curious thing to me, how men trifle to rush things ahead or behind, as if we can finish up the entire mystery of God before He has completed His work in us.
Just outside of Columbus, Ohio, there’s a little village called Darby. Brother Paul now lives there, with his sons, in an old rented farmhouse. Paul has served the Lord via a campus ministry at OSU for many years, still with a heart for it today, posting and distributing literature & invitations among a large student population. We enjoyed talking with Paul for his knowledge & experiences regarding Christian community and about bringing a local expression of what the Good News means.
At about this time, the season of winter began to drop its curtain, and our passage to cross the Front Range (Colorado) met with some snow and a lost snow chain. Ever so faithful, the Lord kept us, and we drove on into Paso Robles, California, and to meet with Rich & Karen Amick. Rich has a blog called, “Our Lord’s Ekklesia”, and so we hoped to find the same in person, in house. But, no... for this chapter of the Journey we would visit, by the Father’s will, remnants of abandoned ekklesia: along the New Hampshire-Vermont border, what remains after every precious thing is stripped away; in Coatesville, a patriarchal substitute; in Monongahela, loss in catastrophic error; in Darby, good works disconnect from living, koinonia community; in Paso Robles, forfeiture to the twin gods of money & family. “Yes, Lord, beginning to see what we’re missing of You.”
If this weren’t sufficient for trial, institutionalized religion’s appeal rings out weekly throughout the land and up the Hill, “You can’t leave us; you need us; you haven’t really left us; you will come back to us.”
Driving up the California coast, I returned to the place for where the Journey (of 2001) began: the Central Valley of California, where the manner of things has left the people to be driven by gusts of personal will. Yet to contrast, the Spirit moves His own under strong conviction (no longer does it matter for what we want by ourselves). Disciples poignantly stand apart for this and other transformations in the Spirit, as our simple acts to pray or serve may occasionally be mistakenly imagined as from personal preference -- like including olives or sausage on “my” pizza. Microsoft is simply wrong about this. All is truly “His”, not “My”.
The word of God performs its work in those who believe. [I Thessalonians 2:13] After 5 years, what has changed? I visited a local mega-church, with the same ol’ performance-audience, praise-prayer-passion on cue, hyperbole and money machine. Another IC, not nearly as large, stripped down to a regular teaching-worshipping personality appearance. There was opportunity to meet old friends, and to note that those few who had suffered substantial hardship since were brought closer still to the real Jesus Christ. It is true, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.”
[Acts 14:22; Matthew 7:14]
Near a crest in the Hill of Difficulty, I saw the road “Danger”, and I saw my brother on that road, striving toward the woods; and I saw my own helplessness to rescue him. Lord knows, have I ever hurt so deeply ‘til now?
God is good! In His fellowship, everyone who delights in His presence is on the worship team, the teaching team, the prayer teams, the serving team, etc. For the itinerant, our travel is light, short of fancies or frills. All things accomplished by faith in the One God to do His will. Encourage the saints within our Lord’s extraordinary agenda! A number of you have expressed a calling or directive to visit the ekklesia, whether locally, a region, for a nation or to cross an ocean. We would be blessed to hear from you, and to travel with you for the King -- whether in person, or only in Spirit.
[Romans 16; Acts 29]
Thank you for your prayers in the Journey,
we may be contacted by telephone at [USA] 541-864-9114
continue to The Journey 2008