I’ve been sharing on my Weekly Thoughts a visitation and vision I had concerning the body of Christ just a few weeks ago, so this is a bit of a continuation of the last 2 weeks Weekly Thoughts, at least in part.
It is related to something the Father shared last fall, and I shared with you, that through spring we would have a lot happening in several areas (especially economic and political) - and that has certainly been true, and we're still in February!
But this visitation with the Lord just a few weeks ago seems in His mind to be a continuation of a conversation from last fall, as He picked up with where He left off then. I'm always fascinated about that element of being 'in the Spirit', that He can give us a spiritual experience one day, and then months go by with little related to that being communicated, and then suddenly it happens again and He just picks up where He had left off.
From earth's perspective, that is my perspective when it happens to me, it is like being in the middle of a phone conversation as you drive, and then suddenly you lose the signal as you travel down the road only to suddenly have it crystal clear again and can pick up where you last lost the signal. Or like two friends who have to cut off a conversation, but then meet up again a couple weeks later and just start in where they left off - it's like that.
I can see it in the gospels - like where Jesus told the disciples that some of them would not see death until they had seen the kingdom of God*, and about 8 days later He took 3 of them alone to a mountain where the Transfiguration happened - a preview of His return. But to Him, it was picking up where He had stopped about a week earlier. Sometimes He does that in dreams too, multiple dreams over several nights, or the same dream over the course of weeks or months, each one like picking up where He last left off - hope that makes sense. *Luke 9:27-28
He also told reminded me how the Father had said about a year ago 'Watch India pull away from the US', and added there would be a rise in nationalism there as the government becomes increasingly heavy handed, and I'd see several incidents in the news. He then added, 'Yet I continue to advance for I have many, many people there. He noted, "In times past they have relied on missionaries to bring the gospel to them, but that has shifted, for now I am rising from within, no longer relying on the outside." That leads me to believe on a political level, the government will continue to turn against non-Indians coming in to preach the gospel...so we will watch and see.
And like He has many times in the past, He told me to continue to watch Turkey, now surrounded and alone (having offended about every ally they have), but '...they will rise in strength to assert themselves.' though I don't know what that means, but He said it too would see a rise in nationalism - the word 'assert' being important. In Ezekiel 38 they end up allying themselves with a group of nations to invade Israel, so using that as an end point and looking at events of today, it would seem there is a ways to go before that happens - but we watch and pray.
The body of Christ
He mentioned almost in passing as He was clearly winding up the visitation, as an FYI (For Your Information): “The last half of this year will be very difficult for many, and as was told you before, 2017 will be a bad year for the world.”
When I asked for details He told me (as He has told me before) to study history and how persecution was often coupled with economic difficulty, and tied together things the Father has told me before and that He has said - coming close to those times they were talking about. There is more that I'll share this week when I close out my Weekly Thoughts on the visitation, for I haven't the space to go into detail here.
But what strikes me most about everything He says about world events, is that He often closes with something like what He said this last time: “But my focus is what is happening in my body, and that should be your focus too.” So as much as I look at all the things going on around the world, I continually have to reminder myself those things are merely informational, and not my life.
Around the network
This email goes to several dozen nations, some where it is safe to be Christian and some where not, so I will limit my comments to say the common elements of relationship based faith prosper no matter the political situation - fellowship, food, prayer, worship, caring for one another's needs, being there for each other - we see those common elements within the rotating of hosting homes, rotating who leads each week making for healthy and balanced churches that meet in homes. From Iran to China, to nations in Africa to the Pacific islands - people are growing in Christ, people are coming to Christ, even in very difficult circumstances.
I am saddened when I hear (mainly US based) 'house churches' that grow to maybe 40 people and then they stop any thought of multiplying out. They could take 20 to start rotating homes among themselves and the other 20 do the same while remaining related and having joint meetings every so often - but instead they fall into the familiar comfortable pattern of just letting that handful of people lead and the rest just show up.
Then I talk with someone in a nation behind the veil of Islam or where the politics are against Christians, and they would so love not to have to meet in secret, not have to suffer such persecution - I just get sad, the west has it so good but are asleep in the light. And worse, lazy when they do stir themselves briefly from spiritual slumber. Instead of being part of a larger whole, they form a protective barrier to any thought of changing the status quo, and become an island to themselves. Spiritually fat, dumb, and happy.
The good news inside our network, is that many people are being as we see in Acts - traveling here and there visiting each other, visiting via Skype, visiting in email and phone - what a healthy balance of multi-national relationships, just like Acts come alive - and so rewarding to invest in our relationships!
Washing dirty pans means character growth?
On the subject of growth in Him: This morning I was loading the dishwasher and found 2 small skillets Barb had used to cook scrambled eggs for herself from 2 separate mornings. They had water in them and I knew another day like that and they would start to stink.
I use non-stick, she refuses to use non-stick. But non-stick is horrible to clean after scrambled eggs! As I finished loading the dishwasher and started to clean some (non-stick) pots and pans my resentment towards washing these stuck on pans built, and I debated letting her cleaning those 2 pans by herself – usually she cooks and I clean – but maybe that would teach her a lesson!
Just then the Father said to me: “She spends hours on laundry; she even washes your underwear and folds everything neatly in your drawers without complaint or resentment, so why is it hard for you to clean a pan that takes mere seconds to clean?” Ouch. I didn’t expect Him to provide an object lesson for growth in Him, since He knew I was going to be writing this today. But that's real life, at least for me, lol. (I apologized, adjusted my attitude, and cleaned and put away the skillets without a word to Barb).
February and March is a busy time for us, with a lot of money going out as we plan for trips to European conferences in April and other travels and meetings in the year. You can see in the header of this email I've added a house church related cd/MP3 series this month, focusing on 5 lessons learned and especially on the intangibles that make for a healthy family based church that meets in homes.
Some of you ask about Chris
We were able to get Chris a government photo ID which would allow him to fly, and my hope and plan that I'm praying about, is to take him on a short round trip flight in a single day. He absolutely loves planes and would so love going on a big jet. My thought was Tulsa to Dallas which is a 38 minute flight, then have lunch at a food court for an hour or so, then back to Tulsa all in one afternoon.
His stamina isn't great and it would be tiring for him - and me - but I'm asking for the Father to allow it and listening in my spirit for the right time if He okay's it. I think that it is on my heart is from Him in the first place as He is always arranging Chris' life to see things he enjoys, so more a matter of timing I think.
The Father orders our steps and we look for that - each day I awaken with eagerness to see what good timing the Father has planned for the day. Sometimes it is people who need help, sometimes it is a challenging day, sometimes just bringing wisdom to a stranger - like the store cashier who upon seeing Barb and I, asked what it takes to stay married - which led to a short but to the point conversation about love, fidelity, and commitment.
Thank you for your continued and generous support, every gift large or small is so appreciated. And know your prayers requests are seen and prayed for – some I’m still praying for over a year due to the nature of the requests – You’re not alone, and we appreciate your prayers and support.
John & Barb