A couple weeks ago Chris was home, sitting in his recliner watching a children’s show while Barb and I were in the kitchen holding a debate about a weekend trip to Tulsa (2 hour drive) for our regional conference - should we take 1 car or 2?
Barb processes information out loud, while I process internally. I wouldn’t really call it talking to herself, just talking out loud as she thinks and does things around the house. She’s done that as long as I’ve known her -since we were kids, so I’m used to it - once I’ve settled an issue I fall silent - while she often keeps a running conversation going out loud as she continues to debate the merits of deciding one way or the other.
That’s what happened on this day. If we took 1 car she and I would be together, but we were bringing back with us 2 granddaughters and their pet, Charlie the Wonder Dog. On the other hand, she could run errands independent of what I needed to do if we left early enough, but the 2 hour drive home late Sunday when she would be very tired wasn’t something she was comfortable with. Additionally, we had to get Chris to the group home before we left for the weekend which is a process all by itself.
I said to her, “If we take 2 cars you can leave right after the conference finishes on Sunday afternoon to run errands, and I’ll drive the truck and bring the kids and dog - your decision, I’m fine with whatever you want to do”, and I’d said my peace, that was that. Period. Paragraph, Over and out.
But she kept the conversation going with herself, processing everything out loud as she walked between rooms: “1 car or 2, I might fall asleep at the wheel and that wouldn’t be good, but I might not get to everywhere I need to go if I don’t, but I don’t want to load John up with the kids, dog and all their things…”
Out of the blue came Chris’ loud and crisp voice from the living room: “It’s OK mom. We’ll take 2 cars. Just relax mom, just relax.” The authority and clarity with which he spoke ended all debate, and Barb and I burst out laughing.
Sometimes there are moments where some one or some thing cuts through all the issues with such clarity it settles all arguments. But it wasn’t him telling his mother we’d take 2 cars, it was the ‘Just relax mom, just relax’ that brought clarity – the decision wasn’t a big one so don’t make it more than it is; just relax and decide! We focused on the relax rather than the decision, and were suddenly at peace.
In the same way
I’ve recently read several Christian statements people believe – crazy and illogical theological statements that I’ve wondered how people could say such things about God. Some range from wild conspiracy theories that put God right in the middle of the intrigue, to practically accusing Him of falsifying the historical record just to trick unbelievers into believing a lie, and so much more.
And then I had a moment of clarity like Chris’ “just relax” – I realized the issue wasn’t who was right or wrong about a theological idea and figuring out a way I could show them higher truths, it was that while believing in Him, they don’t know Him. If they did know Him they would not make such statements.
They believe – they are born again, but they don’t truly know Him. They read something in the written Word but don’t know the Living Person of the Word who directed that ink to be placed on the page. Therefore what they believe the written Word says isn’t even close to the character of the Person the Living Word.
They know the page, not the Person.
In Paul’s most transparent letter, to the Philippians, he shares his greatest desire: “That I might know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.”
At the end of his life as he awaits execution in a Roman prison, in his last letter, in II Timothy 1:12, Paul states: “For I know in Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have entrusted to Him until that last day.”
Paul not only believed, but he knew in whom he believed. That knowing of Him persuaded him of the Lord’s character – He is able to keep that which I’ve entrusted to Him.
We believe, then we know, then we entrust. When we entrust, we rest – not in ourselves, but in Him and His sense of rightness and ability to explain at a later time all the confusing things we’ve gone through in life.
That knowing leads us to ‘be persuaded’ and then entrust our heart’s secrets to Him. The phrase ‘entrusted (committed) to Him’ is ‘ten paratheken mou’, literally, “my deposit (with Him)”. It means something entrusted to another for the means of safe keeping. The use of ‘paratheke’ implies and was used to indicate a person going on a long journey and who deposits all his valuables with a close friend, trusting them to be returned to him on his return.
The important thing therefore, is not to split hairs over doctrine, nor to call out beliefs that seem crazy, illogical, or divisive, but rather to draw back from those which are minor in the big picture, and direct ourselves and our friends to know Him, for by knowing Him we become persuaded of Him, and in being persuaded we are able to entrust our very souls for safe keeping until we go home to Him.
I’ve been studying how the Lord builds a healthy family based church that meets in homes, and see in scripture and in real life today, that He often takes 1 to 2 years to build a core, a nucleus of people who really get to know each other over that time, and learn to trust Christ in each other.
I have a teaching series next month on the subject, for it springs from a visitation in February (some of which I shared in last month’s e-newsletter and Weekly Thoughts) about what He is saying to the body of Christ. He has been building ‘core’ people in small family and home based churches and will continue, but once that core is solid, He builds – and while some flow with Him in that, some choose to stay ‘us four no more’.
Contrary to church culture of bigger is better right from the start, in Acts we see a core develop in Jerusalem from 1-2 years, seen in Acts 2:4-8:1. Then we see Antioch in Acts 11, where Paul and Barnabus taught them for over a year. We see Paul in Corinth 18 months in Acts 18, in Ephesus 2 years in Acts 19, and on it goes – be patient, let Him solidify the core so that when the time comes, others will be added to that healthy and solid group. More on this next month.
Finland, Netherlands conferences
In each of these conferences I will be sharing more about the core, and what He has shown me or told me for Europe and the EU – and some He has said for Finland specifically, so I encourage my Finnish friends to come if you can make it to Helsinki that Saturday, 16 April (firstname.lastname@example.org for information).
I will also be sharing about the core at our Dutch conference in April 20-24, but the longer time, Thursday evening -Sunday, allow time for worship, prayer, teaching, and so much more. I’ll be teaching on hearing the voice of the Lord, practical things for house church, prophetic updates, and others will be sharing as well in workshops as well. And frankly, I’ve found the Lord’s presence and gifts of the Spirit moving more intensely there, consistently over the years, than any other conference - invest in relationships and yourself!
Personal - Thank you for your prayers, friendship, and financial support. Whether your gift if large or small, it is always appreciated – there really is no such thing as a ‘small’ donation for it means so much to us and directly helps us.
I’m way behind in emails with some 250 to answer, but I am trying to catch up – thank you for your patience!
House churches are popping up all over as people are feeling more free to start meeting on their own, and so many want to know others doing the same thing in a network, so we are very busy. From the Pacific islands to behind the veil of Islam to dozens of other nations, people are gathering in homes to regularly meet for teaching, prayer, fellowship, food, and worship…the revival going on isn’t in the auditorium, it is in the home.
John & Barb