There are times the Father or the Lord says things to me directly about future events, and there are times I have to put 2 and 2 together.
It’s like when you were a child and your parents started doing things outside their routine and you wondered if you were going to go on a trip, or if you were having visitors – you kind of piece together all the little things to get an idea of what was going on.
Case in point: First, I feel strongly led not to travel more in Europe this year beyond our spring conferences in the Netherlands and Finland, that I’m supposed to stick closer to home unless He says specifically to go. Second, when I was asking the Father what He had in mind for the Europe conferences He said, “I want you to lay hands on every person who attends.” The laying on of hands is used sparingly in scripture, and only applies to laying hands on the sick, or blessing people including as they go forth into ministry, or to receive the Holy Spirit. (In church rather than Bible culture we WAY overuse it, thus diluting our understanding of the power and robbing people of what they could receive).
Last year at the Finnish conference many of us felt like this year I was to travel to home meetings around the area rather than just having people travel to a central meeting place. To test that impression we have tried to secure a central meeting place for the whole weekend but there are none available, so we take that as a confirmation to what we felt a year ago. So each meeting I will lay hands on people, and I expect the ministry time to be especially unique as each will be in that smaller setting.
What is He preparing you for? – Though I expect people to be healed and a few here and there to be newly or freshly filled with the Spirit, what I sense is an imparting and sending forth for the work He has called them to as the main reason He told me to lay hands on people in these conferences. I will be on TV7 for 2 days in Helsinki as they have again this year extended an invitation to me, and already the Lord has told me to teach on healing and how to be healed and how to minister healing. That is very much in line with laying hands on people for the work to which they’ve been called.
I expect the result will be growth in home churches in Europe this year as disciples are made as there is a seriousness in the Spirit like He is preparing us for something this year – so I take it as a time to seek Him for His plan for the year.
When I hear what people say the Lord is telling them for the year, there only seems to be 1 or 2 ‘big’ things – like get out of debt or start meeting in their/others homes for church, or concentrate on reaching out to other ‘de-churched’ believers they know in order to strengthen relationships. It isn’t a fear based thing, just 1 or 2 main points He is saying for each person to concentrate on this year. There is a peace in that as it means we can look with a certain objectivity at events around us as we concentrate on what we know that we know He has put on our hearts for our assignment. There is an assurance felt in the spirit when you know you are being about the Father’s business for your life. Let life swirl around you, but you remain focused on His assignment and don’t turn aside.
Third, I feel particularly strong I am to concentrate on the US and Canada for the rest of my (our) trips this year, while next year will involve several trips concentrating on Europe and beyond. And while He hasn’t said to lay hands on everyone on these trips, I sense the same type of fresh anointing and seriousness of purpose.
We are planning a Seattle/Vancouver area trip either the end of July or first week of August, and I expect a SE and mid-Atlantic trip after that, along with possibly a New England/NE trip in the fall. And I may make driving loops around middle of the country here and there as well.
Around the network – I am amazed about the consistency of the Biblical pattern of meeting in homes found across countries and cultures. Rotating who leads and rotating homes remain core to successful house churches. But that is often not what a house church looks like at the start.
When we first started in our living room, we met 12 weeks in our house with 6 of those times me leading and share what house church is, and the last 6 weeks we rotated who led, though we still met in our house. We needed that time of building knowledge, relationships, and rising to a comfort level where each felt good about being able to lead a meeting in their own home.
And there are times when a central home is needed as other’s homes are too small, or don’t have parking enough for everyone, and so forth. But rotating who leads each week still applies.
What I’m seeing in my emails and calls are individuals, couples, and families who say they want to start a house church, but for now, it is just them. That is fine. I’ve known families to meet a year or more before someone joins them – the Lord often seems to take His time allowing a core group and core knowledge to be built, often over a year or more. But once He deems the strength of that core group is sufficient, it seems like suddenly people come out of the woodwork to show interest in that house church.
This is going to be a year for many that the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place.
There is a process to that. Often the first thing you sense is ‘I’ll never return to the place I’ve been.” Barb and I felt that once early in our marriage when we were pretty destitute, without job or income, me shoveling snow or providing spiritual guidance to people on an offering basis just to eat, all the while as an unpaid Associate Pastor at a small church near Boulder, Colorado. When we left to become pastors in another town, we had this sense that we’d never have that type of season in our lives again.
For some there is just a sense spiritually, that they’ll never return to where they’ve been. For some it is an emotional or mental growth that they know they will never return to that place of emotional or mental brokenness. For some they know they will never ‘do church’ like they once knew, again.
Next step – The next step along this path is a journey. Sometimes literal, like Abraham leaving his homeland and family once and for all, or Moses returning to Egypt from his 40 year career as a shepherd and knowing he’d never return in that capacity. But most often once a person has this awareness by the Spirit they’ll never return to where they’ve been, the journey is spiritual and emotional. Often, like Abraham or Moses, they only have a basic sketch in their spirit what it will look like, but they trust the character of the Father enough they know they can move on with just that much information.
Intermediate step – At this point a person often knows more what it isn’t than what it is. They aren’t certain what they are looking for, but they’ll know it when they see it, and they know what it isn’t. Much like Moses returning to Egypt and having to lay out for the people what the Lord had told him, and facing some opposition, or Abraham arriving in the Promised Land but having to walk the land to get to know what it had for him, so too a person wanders a bit looking for that thing that gels in their spirit.
Final step – It feels right in your spirit. And like any new home there are adjustments to make, not saying it is perfect, but the basics are in place and you know it is home. That can mean simply a new season in your heart is now home – such peace and rest in Him. That ‘home’ can mean an emotional certainty and strength you’ve not had before, but are now secure in who you are and what you are all about, and you can stand up to others who once manipulated or controlled you. And it feels good to be in charge of your own feelings and thoughts.
It can be in how you celebrate the gathering of the church – in a home for instance, and you know you’ll never return to the auditorium as it is now so foreign to the way you think and know. It could be financially, you know you’ll never return to where you were, and have now gained a track record with the Lord enough to know that if something surprises you it hasn’t surprised Him, and He will reveal His provision – and there is rest in that.
So this year for many will be a time of the pieces coming together, with an internal rest and peace like you’ve never known – and confidence in Him. What is He asking you to concentrate on this year? What is your sense of the season and what part of the journey are you in?
Chris’ addition – We have plans for a double sink that is ADA (Americans with Disability Act) compliant, which had to be custom made as the right sink has to be able to have a wheelchair roll under it, and are hoping to have that completed in the next month or so. We are down to trim work other than that, and some carpet in his room, but are very thankful to be nearing the end. Thank you again for those who have given to help us. The ease on me physically is amazing, and I am just thankful beyond words!
John & Barb