First a personal update, then something the Lord spoke to me that should be a blessing.
We have been in Scotland and England visiting the house churches there, the 3rd-17th. Before we left our contractor had the roof boards and waterproofing down, with the metal top layer to go on when we get back. The outside walls and weather barrier are on, the siding to be added when we return. The plumbers have roughed in the plumbing for Chris’ roll in shower and walk in tub, as well as toilet and sink. The inside walls are framed, and the next step is to tear out the current wall of the house on the south side, meaning we will hit the ground running once home.
The amount we have for Chris’ room and bathroom will come out about even from what we can figure, and we thank those of you who have helped us out in this, we are so thankful you can't imagine. The need to knock out the south wall of the house for Chris’ remodel has allowed us to expand my office so I can add a little corner for video teaching and being able next year to offer my Weekly Thoughts by email and video, and other teachings to post to our site. It has also created space for Barb to have an office, and we are thankful for that.
If we come short on anything, it is the finishing of those spaces. If so, then we’ll complete them as we can through the winter, but at least Chris will have his room and bathroom which means I won’t have to strain myself lifting, carrying and lowering him as much. My back and legs thank you! lol I think what touches us most is that most of you don’t know us, yet many have taken upon themselves prayer and caring for our family. We are truly touched and thankful.
I had been thinking about how so many in the body of Christ in the west have become afraid, with the martyrdoms in the Middle East viewed online or in news reports. These have caused many to think ‘what if’ persecution or terror hit us. As I was thinking on these things and just sort of talking to the Lord about it, He said this: “Did I not say to settle it in your hearts? Those who have settled things in their hearts can face fear with boldness.” I then said, “Wow, that’s really good. I wish you had said that when I was doing my Weekly Thoughts series on fear.” LOL
I immediately recognized the quote from Luke 21:14 when the Lord was telling them how they would be persecuted and some killed for His name. His message then and now is simple; persecution is part of being a Christian, settle it in your heart not even to think about how you will give an answer in that day, for He will give you the words when needed. But we have to settle things in our heart first.
Have you ever seen a local hero interviewed on the news? Maybe the guy who entered a burning house to pull the occupant to safety, or maybe a teenager who snatched a toddler from the mouth of an attacking dog? Those people did not make an instant decision to rescue the person or run to the vicious dog to save the toddler’s life, they had settled things in their heart long before, which had prepared them for that day.
For the teen rescuing the toddler from the dog, it was when they were younger and stopped bullies from picking on their little brother. It was when their elderly neighbor was setting up a ladder to climb to the gutters to clear leaves, and he did it instead. For the man running into a burning house, it was years earlier when he talked a depressed friend out of suicide, and another time his neighbor was sick and he brought them food and checked in on them.
When the Lord appeared to me that Sunday night in 2001 and told me to start a house church and house church network, He said it was a resource ‘against a time to come’, and we’ve been ahead of the curve in that way, but times are changing. Maybe for the first time in many Christian’s lives they are examining who really matters to them, spiritually speaking and in terms of true friends. I encourage you however you celebrate the gathering together of the church, whether that be in an auditorium or a living room, that you invest in those who are like-minded in the faith, on your same 'spiritual page.'
Years ago we talked of living intentionally towards one another. That means instead of making everyone in your life equal in priority, ‘church friends’ being no more important than work relationships or what you think of your neighbors, make those you fellowship with top priority in your life. Invest in those relationships.
Initiate invitations to meet for lunch or coffee, invite them over for dinner, be there when they need help. People are eternal, all else will one day be burned up when the Lord recreates the earth. People are all that matter, and knowing those who are on the same spiritual page are the most important. What many are finding is a renewed urgency to invest in relationship based faith and living intentionally towards one another. Many of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, Asia and Africa live this way, some by necessity. As the Lord told me in 2001, “As it was in the beginning, so it must be now; I am moving in relationships.”
It is time we as Christians settle things in our hearts concerning who we are, what we stand for, and how we would give an answer if called upon one day. We settle things as my examples did – by small decisions every day to not back down when asked about our faith. Settle things in your heart so you won’t be shaken by news reports and can stay in the peace that is in your spirit.
Thank you for your prayer and generous support, we pray for you and appreciate your gifts so very much!
John and Barb