Seeing the time come to write again from a journey, within which two decades have now come. Along Hwy 1 to Titusville, Florida, greeted by Steve who is inviting us to Sand Point Park, where I would find a woman helping to serve food to the hungry. Her face deformed before birth, her heart complete. Because of the Father's love, I can know this one who did not as much speak.
Passing thru the Space Coast, a meeting on Satellite Beach and a flow of side-by-side conversations regarding disciple making-training. Thomas is saying, "Christ in each other, and Christ to our neighborhoods." Next day, the children brought to Huntington Place to sing for the elderly residents there.
At Boynton Beach, finding Michael, an artist painting conflict. His art and voice prophetically awakens me for what was unfolding just 200 miles north, in Orlando (and elsewhere). To the betrayal of Christ that follows when someone would take (over) what is His, if only to get something for their own.
On to the sand of Pompano Beach, with a few together resolved (like flypaper) that "we're out here to bless people." Then riding just west of Fort Lauderdale, where, tucked behind an orchard, Andy awaits with his plan for the ekklesia. How do men mistake the risen Lord of All, for a method or text? Pausing with this question, as I watch an insect in its fruitless scrambling to escape a bathroom sink.
Brief contact with Miami, and it's time to cross the Everglades along the gator gauntlet of Hwy 41. Safely thru, returning to North Fort Myers after ten years, now to meet Steve, a man who listens for the voice of Father, "Papi", while with "one foot in" the swamp of religion's system. Yet still we give thanks to God, as western churchianity becomes progressively drained of its aspirations and vice, to fewer souls wading in it. Along Florida's gulf coast, I'm brought to remember a lingering question for the Father, "What of parachurch?" A couple hundred miles yet ahead, until His answer would come to inform and reprove me.
Visiting at Englewood, a meeting that would be moving to North Port. Then on to Bradenton, together reflecting upon the shortfall of specialization, such as efforts to cater AA "forever" addicts who "don't stick" due to their injection with philosophy of Recovery. Barren glimpses of the Adversary's strategy to dismiss the highest Kingdom, for someone's higher power. On to meeting the McIntyres at "The Altar", who will follow Christ with palm branches, but for pride not to die with Him. Like from the Pilgrim's progress in allegory, bodies left unburied in this way, left in view as a warning.
The surrounding corruption and virulent unfaithfulness can drive others deep into a test of faith. After a gracious escape had opened for him, one Bradenton man recounts, "The more I pursue God, the more I lose." Yes, brother, lose all, that you may gain Life. There is much hope for you, to be found by the love of God in the way of His Christ!
On to Palmetto and Mark Woodson's house. The meeting unfolds with Mark preaching-teaching for several past their middle-age. Returning on Wednesday, to see the same lock-down on maturity common to traditional church norms. Mark would later acknowledge what he had done with his talent, citing the KJV of Acts 20:7 -- "preaching" rather than discoursing. What would this place be like, Father, if all these had grown up in the grace and knowledge of Your Son? Surely then to Your glory.
Greeting brothers & sisters at prayer and Bible small groups in Riverview, Brandon, Tampa, Pinellas Park, and then on to Orlando where 2 years before, with love and a prayer: that these who bring the confession of Christ would swiftly come to know all things in Him. March 20th, arriving south of the city, to hear a first report of spoon-feeding and family focused care that had not delivered one accord. The council of God being deferred for counsel of men, because,
"everyone wants a leader" rather than to be led by God. North of the city, where a wrecking-ball dispute over how the gospel should be defined [I Corinthians 15, or something more?] had been introduced to ignite the breaking of fellowship. Our invitation was to visit again, though their sorrow cannot be hidden under cover of a friendly meeting.In days to follow, the men refuse to be reconciled, feeling both justified and increasingly xenophobic. The Taylor's unwilling to receive others in the community who would bring the love of God toward their mend. Matthew also among the opposing members within their schism, so mangled by the tearing, held in chainwork of fears and a how-to house church book author near Houston, Texas.
April arrives, meeting Jim at a Target-Starbucks Bible study in the Sodo district, just 7 weeks and 3 city blocks from where 50 would die to a shooter at The Pulse nightclub. Jim had worked in Christian broadcasting, though he doesn't fit the image of that media. Week after week, I watched him calmly challenge the sectarian golden calves. Most of all, Jim sought to spread the evangel of Christ in a dark place. At times, we traveled together by bicycle to various meetings, and places to just meet people. Before exiting the Florida panhandle, Jim had returned to Albany, New York, to complete his mission there.
In mirror of Colorado Springs, Orlando has become a next homestead for a handful of parachurch organizations. CRU has its headquarters here, holding out a local, customized church experience called "Antioch21". It was at this Antioch that I would meet some of the young Campus Crusaders moving to their assignments, and engage with "gospel communities" in home groups. Sadly, the relationships favored a turf mounding of ministry as employment (rather than as our divine deployment). When offenses in one of the men seemed to linger unresolved, I moved to request of the Antioch21 elders (among them, CRU's President, Steve Douglass) to be helping for one of their own. They confessed inability and declined to help, then citing man's sinful pace.
Pioneers (a missions agency) is also here. One of their former directors, Ted Esler, hosting a variation of house church in Orlando's Lake Nona division. Like Antioch21, this group functionally supports an organization. Different, in that the group name keeps changing. It is to how this comes about, which seems not so renewing. After months of Orlando area visits, I would ride to Gainesville to meet with a few there. While in Gainesville, Ted is calling me to say that he would like to reboot the group. Why? Because the people attending are not all of whom he would prefer. Though I appreciate his honesty, my heart sinks a bit. How many others have found themselves gripping the "power button"? On that day, Ted also bringing a charge involving myself and another family known to me. For discovery and reconciliation, I then returned to Orlando. There, with help from the Father, met with 3, and the matter revealed: a request for prayer that was thought to have become something else. Fear had birthed a path of presumption, while love would otherwise beset fear. Do we know God with the saints, or are we set to knowing the members of our preferred circle? These notes reflect some of the things that the Father taught me concerning parachurch. I simply had need to wait for the answer to come in an appointed time and place of His choosing.
Just south of Lake City, Clark recalling an old lament: "How long we had waited for the Institution to be saved." Returning to Tallahassee, reminded with Greg: If you are not persuaded by God to do it, why bother? Let each one be convinced in his own mind. Be testing all things, retaining the ideal. On to Biloxi, where Roy recounts the grim, "Most people don't want Jesus."
[Romans 14:1-10; I Thessalonians 5:21]
Gonzales, Louisiana, to meet Paul's family at "South Of Philly". So immediately, the Spirit marking his dear wife and children as deeply troubled. Paul wished to travel together, though not in the simplicity of Christ. As a number of others have done, Paul has written a book, "The Church As It Should Be", while appearing unresponsive to treasure the glory of God, clinging to what we cannot keep.
The Texas welcome would begin at Beaumont, where Anderson and
family in Christ brought forward their journey and the heart to avoid the waste of becoming turned in on ourselves.
Houston, where Red finds to bring me a greeting. We would see Red again. Meanwhile, Steve Eldridge is outlaying by phone how home churches in the Houston area had become specialized due to influence from the institutional presence. In Father's perfect timing, "Chris" bravely announces a MeetUp. He's said to be looking for a home church. A few begin coming together at his apartment in the Spring Branch district. This while I'm in hope to better understand what (ten years before) had worked to undo ekklesia along the southern I-45 corridor. We began visiting 2 remaining groups: "Simple Fellowship" (or
"no name"), and Home Church Houston (HCH, multiple names). In and around Houston, some bringing forward their sorrows to accounts surrounding various offenses connected with Terry Stanley. When, during a Men's Meeting, Terry and some of the guys began talking about the troubles, I offered to work toward reconciliations. The "short list" wasn't quite, and while patiently working through it, Chris would at some steps come
alongside. While endeavoring, several alerts presented that the core HCH group was unwilling toward honest reconciliation. Later verified, this gracelessness worked together by God to "smoke out" others whose scheme
was to bring men or women under their servitude, even as they counterfeit ekklesia. As like what had bloomed ugly in Orlando: the gospel somehow misunderstood; men continuing to live toward their interests rather than for the glory of God. Terry's answer had held the group powerless without steady love to reach beyond their comfort circle. This left others, even visitors, aloof and with persistent need (despite the occasional promise of help). It was through this shortfall, that Father then set me to begin to assist a "single-parent" father with children, and to be helping homeschool three. As has been noted within and outside the group, Home Church Houston functions as a mutual aide fellowship (ref: AA). Nearly
all the associated unforgiveness, offenses, and claims of fraud had come about along a path of mistaking the group for something it is not. Genuine ekklesia is dominant in humble, victorious, focus on Christ. It's what flows in those who are "crucified with Christ" to live again.
[Hebrews 12; Galatians 2:20]
Why are we meeting or eating together? Why are we wearing a mask? Why are we not?
Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.
[I Corinthians 10:31]
The Lord is Risen!
PRAYER WITHIN GLORY
from Charlotte, USA-NC
Sometimes I gotta pray to God without asking for nothing, just to say He has provided well His own.
from Surabaya, INDONESIA
Lord, You will establish peace for us, for You have also made us Your work.
from Port Saint Lucie, USA-FL
God has given powerful resources, made these available to us: love, prayer, and forgiveness.
from Elgin, USA-TX
still amazes me, how if I just let You take control of a situation, You
take care of everything! No need to worry about anything anymore.
from Columbus, USA-OH
You have spared me from migraines and I have had none. To Your praise You have heard our cries. There is no love like You.
from Perth Amboy, USA-NJ
Praise be to God Who will deliver us from our worries, griefs and concerns while training us in His perfect timing.
from Accra, GHANA
too want to take this great time to thank God. What the lord is doing
to minister is beyond our saying here. In Jesus' name am here to testify
to His own glory, amen.
from Gwynn Oak, USA-MD
God, You are great! You do miracles so great! There is no one else like You.
We want to come back to give Lord praise and glory. Luke chapter 17 to 19. Luke chapter 18:7,8. Psalm 126:2,3. Give Jesus Christ the honour for the miracle God did with my sister.
from Shreveport, USA-LA
you, Jesus, that during the night you healed me. I don't have any more
pains in my body. You alone are worthy to be honored for your giving
heart on behalf of mankind. Your will is that all people open up to Your
love and truth. Glory to our God and Father for His purposes which have
and continue to be realized in the earth. amen.
We are answering the call of King Jesus to walk with Him on this narrow way to become truly His disciples in all that He has commanded us to do, so that we can also make other disciples that will be ready to follow and obey Him making other disciples and ready to meet Him at His return. We want to see Christ increase not only in us but in the lives of others. Pray for us as we enter a time of repentance and breaking free from and setting aside of all that has encumbered us from fruitfulness in His kingdom and for His glory.
Thank you for this. I will await your "upcoming journey: rounding the coasts of Florida."
I wish you every blessing in the Lord on your travels. Take care and God bless.
We are still meeting in homes. Every Sunday we meet at different homes. Our church is between 3-4 families, so we rotate between 3-4 homes. One of the families moved to Portland eastside and ended up starting a group in Vancouver, WA. We moved partly because a brother had a dream that God will bring in many people into His kingdom from around this area.
If you're in the area, feel free to come by and visit.