As you read this Barb and I are in Europe for our Finnish and Dutch conferences, returning to the US late the 26th. We would appreciate your prayers during this time as it is 2 weeks of constant activity and travel, but pray especially for Chris please. In terms of time that he won't see him, we dropped him off at the group home the evening of Sunday the 10th, and won't pick him up until the 29th - nearly 3 weeks, and that is very hard on his emotions to not see mom and dad for that length of time. Though he is 36 years old he is mentally about 4, so just think of a 4 year old not seeing mom and dad for 3 weeks.
Specifically, we need him to willingly get up and go to the group home's workshop each work day and be cooperative while we are gone - that is a major concern for him - - thank you for your prayers.
Around the network
I've recorded a 2nd series this month specifically related to house church entitled 'The Core'. It is about the 7 common traits of healthy house churches as seen in Acts and now in practice around the world. If you have thought of starting a house church or already have, or are part of one, I really encourage you to listen to this series. With various exchange rates against the USD around the world, if funds are an issue email me at email@example.com and we can send the MP3 link.
I saw a news item in the secular press about the Chinese government taking down over 2,000 crosses as a means of intimidation and to try to 'stamp out' Christianity. This secular article states that by 2030, just 14 years from now, there will be 247,000,000 Christians in China - nearly all in house churches.
When we first started CWOWI in January of 2002 through about 2 or 3 years ago, when someone started a house church they were intimidated by questions from friends, relatives, and pastors who asked 'Who is your covering?' and cautioned about becoming a cult - to the point many were very distressed on how to answer them.
In the last 2-3 years however I've seen a boldness among believers who just said 'We're doing this' no matter what 'they' think, and they do. The result is many house churches popping up faster than I can keep track. It doesn't seem to matter what nation or what culture believers are in, they are being led to start meeting in homes to celebrate Jesus in a healthy and balanced way - and we are here to help.
What the Father said
If you've been with us for a while you'll recall I shared the Father said 'The second half of 2016 will be difficult for many' and '2017 will be a bad year for the world.' In both cases note He is speaking in such a way it is clear He is talking about 'other people' - 'difficult for many' rather than difficult for a specific group or for all, and without mention of believers. And, 'bad year for the world' is just like it - for the world, a bad year - but for believers, we are growing more and more Christ-like and walking closer with Him.
What He is doing in us is not affected by the world around us. How He orders our steps is not affected by the world around us. Check in your spirit and sense that peace - that is our focus - let information come and go through the mind, but always check with the Spirit of Truth within and the peace found there as the final opinion on a matter. Jesus said in John 16:13 the Holy Spirit 'speaks not of His own, but whatever He hears, that is what He speaks to you, and He will show you things to come', so if you have peace in your spirit that is the Father and Lord saying all is well, so discipline your thoughts and feelings to that peace.
Another thing He said about the next 18 months in particular I found interesting and haven't shared until now, is this: "In the coming months it will become clear to those who have heard what the Spirit is saying, who of their family, friends, neighbors and coworkers have not heard what the Spirit is saying."
The way He described it is like this; A person will be talking to someone about what is going on in their heart and what they sense in their Spirit, and their friend will look at them without understanding what they are talking about. For others it will be apparent they have no interest in the things of the Spirit. It will be subtle things noticed in the midst of conversations that will pinpoint exactly where a person is, spiritually speaking. In this way friendships will be rearranged as it becomes apparent old friends are no longer on the same spiritual page, and people start seeking new friends on the same spiritual page.
When He was talking to me about these things I saw a mini-vision, meaning my eyes were open and I saw the natural world, but overlaying that for about 90 seconds as He talked I saw in visual form what He was describing. He was describing on the one hand the larger Christianity which is becoming more nebulous and defined by a 'whatever feels right or you think is right, do it', making faith rather vague and defined by each person, and on the other hand that well-defined faith where absolutes are known, right is right and wrong is wrong, and we know who Jesus is and what walking with Him looks like.
What I saw as He described the first was a blob straight out of a 1950's horror movie or early Star Trek type episode, a soft sticky blob with undefined and ever changing edges creeping slowly to try to cover everything in its path.
Facing 'the blob church' was a person that somehow resembled a building - the temple of God - they 'morphed' into a building that was a temple made of finely hewn stones all fit neatly and tightly together. Their face was the highest part of the building and straight down from that was the Holy of Holies with intense white light directly in the their chest where their heart would be - the innermost part of the building. Their arms were the furthest ends of the temple building complex and their hands and arms were open and outstretched inviting to all to come and experience the presence of the Lord.
What was striking was the well constructed and solid nature of the person/temple - each block that made it/them was incredibly and personally designed with precision. The organization of the person/temple was extraordinary and I knew in the vision that person knew each part of the building block that made them very well, each block representing some part of their life given to the Lord or having overcome something the Lord turned into a work of beauty.
At that point I asked, "Father, what am I seeing" and He replied simply; "The second half of Ephesians 2."
I knew it but it's been a while since reading it, the closing lines of that chapter are: "..you are members of His household...with Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit."
We are living temples: I Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:19, II Corinthians 6:16, Colossians 1:26-27
The contrast between the blob church and the person/temple church was so clear there was no mistaking anything. The blob church reminded me of a demon I've seen in a few churches I've ministered in, and demons I've seen on a few people too - the closest thing would be to describe a movie character from the Star Wars series called Jaba the Hut - most will recognize immediately what I mean the rest can do a web search for a picture. That demon is both lazy, slovenly, and arrogant, as well as manipulative, and I was saddened by what I was seeing, yet I observed the 'blob church' with a sort of emotional distance one might have when reading the newspaper - it was informational only because my life is with those who have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying. I'm outside the 'blob church' loop, so to speak.
What I understood by His words and the mini-vision is that in the days to come the line between the 'real church', the bride who is all about making herself ready for the groom, and those asleep or are adulteresses in love with the world, will be very clearly seen. So watch for the gap widening between that which is called Christian and what is really Christian.
Some have asked about my day trip with Chris: Chris and I had our Tulsa-Dallas and back trip on March 29 and he did extremely well. It was tiring for him as I expected, as part of the purpose was to test his stamina. Southwest Airlines was very gracious to us, allowing us to board first as for my back’s sake and Chris’ lack of mobility, getting that first row with only a bulkhead in front of us provided the room to walk and scoot him to his seat. As expected, he had a running commentary on everything. Chris never let go of the SW Airlines toy jet I bought him at an airport store, and here is a picture of him and Captain Ernie, who was so very kind and accommodating.
I’ve heard from a lot of people via email about me sharing the story of my AFib and weight/blood pressure issues and I thank you for your prayers. It’s one of those things I’d have never known about had I not kept my word to my sons and gotten a physical. I feel no different than I ever have, but I've lost 20 pounds, hit a plateau in March, re-gathered my will and energy for the discipline required, and am now losing more weight to get to my goal of another 20 pounds - having reset my 'end of March' goal to 'end of April'.
My cardiologist said he sees over and over again that the body has a particular weight where BP is normal, and then even sometimes just 1 pound over and BP goes high – I noticed that with me in this last month. Thank you for your prayers, emails, and faithful giving – there are several needs we have right now and appreciate you remembering us in your giving. . Thank you for praying for us during this trip, your financial support, and just being in our lives - thank you!
Blessings, John & Barb