I wanted to give you some prophetic insight into the crisis with ISIS which will help you understand how it fits into prophecy, and similarly what the Lord is doing in the body of Christ, and other updates.
Understanding ISIS and the Middle East - There are 2 main sects in the Muslim religion: Sunni (about 75%) and Shia (about 25% though some say as low as 10%). Sunni’s are considered the more orthodox: ISIS is considered (militant fundamental) Sunni.
Iran however is Shia since the 1979 revolution and funds Shia groups such as Lebanon based Hezbollah against Israel. Shia claim the right of Ali and descendants to lead which is why they are called Shia, literally ‘Shiat Ali’ which means ‘party of Ali’, or the modern Shi’ite. Ali was the son in law of Muhammad and was martyred for his beliefs, which is why martyrdom figures into their practices (suicide bombers). Iraq is also predominantly Shia and the tomb of Ali is in the city of Najaf, Iraq.
The battle going on now involves Sunni ISIS fighting Shia Muslims. Two main players are Sunni Turkey and ISIS, while Shia Iran is trying to force conflict which they believe will make their messiah (Mahdi) return to set up a perfect Muslim world government. That is the driving force behind Iran’s insistence on nuclear weapons, for if they can force war with Israel and the west they believe they can make their messiah come to set up his (Sharia) kingdom. That war however is not Armageddon, but World War 3 which comes at least 7 years before Armageddon, as described in Ezekiel 38 and 39.
What the Word says
Ezekiel 38 outlines an alliance that in terms of modern politics aligns Sunni and Shia Muslim nations under the leadership of what is now Russia, and that alliance will attack Israel and be defeated by Israel and her allies. Ezekiel mentions Iran (Persia) and possibly Iraq as ancient Persia occupied what is now the area of both countries (Shia). Also Turkey (Sunni), Libya (Sunni), Ethiopia (modern Sudan- Sunni), Gomer (Turkey/Eurasian steppes - Sunni).
History teaches us nations which would otherwise be enemies often unite against a common foe (US and USSR uniting against Nazi Germany in WWII, for example). We see this now in Sunni Hamas working to destroy Israel out of Gaza, is actually aligned with Shia Iran, united in their mutual hatred of Israel. How and when Russia will step in to unify the rest of these warring factions within Islam remains to be seen, but watch for Russia expanding its influence.
The underlying issue we must ask in terms of modern politics is this: What must happen between now and the time such an alliance forms? Clearly the alliance moves on Israel because it anticipates doing so in safety, with no one rising to stop it. It means the leadership of the alliance must think Israel is all alone or they think Israel’s allies won’t fight for Israel’s safety. (Ezekiel 38 indicates that is incorrect)
So look for Russia to take steps away from the US dollar and for indications Turkey is taking a more visible role in the Middle East, with Russia acting as a uniting force for the nations mentioned by Ezekiel. Look for the US to back away from Israel and become increasingly hesitant to involve itself against ISIS but rather wanting the Arab nations to handle it themselves. Also, Ezekiel says those Arab nations are allied with Russia for a military purpose, so look for Arab nations to increasingly use their military in the (regional) conflict concerning ISIS.
Meanwhile, in the body of Christ - Invest in relationships – All over the world we see believers gathering often first just 1 family, or just 1-3 individuals, having a time in the Lord, food, talk, and prayer on a regular basis. House church is about the relationships not ‘planting house churches’, but investing our lives in others. I’m seeing more people willing to lay aside the distractions of the world in favor of filling that time with people they care about, and that is God at work.
When God moved out of the building known as the Temple in Jerusalem and into people who became living temples, each person became a priest to God of their very own temple - their body:
“Do you not know your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you received from God and you are not your own?” “…and has made us a kingdom of priests to God…” I Corinthians 6:19, Revelation 1:6; 5:10
Because we are all temples of God our function in the body of Christ becomes a matter of the grace each person has received. We are all equal, we just have different functions. Leaders therefore are continually empowering others to help all become fully functional and balanced people in Christ, to become mature living temples and priests to God.
This is why we find disciples meeting house to house and their meetings were based on the premise that all present were temples of God from young to old, all present were priests, therefore all could participate. The gatherings in homes were and are to this day, a gathering of priests learning and growing in their priesthood and growing in what it means to be a living temple of God.
This is why I am so adamant that a gathering calling itself ‘house church’ follows the Biblical pattern rather than having 1 person lead each meeting each time, merely an auditorium style church in a home. That is NOT a house church. Rotate homes when possible, and no matter what, rotate who leads each meeting, for Christ lives in all disciples, and each person has a unique aspect of His personality in them that no one else in the world has. That is why home based church is participation based, not sermon based.
And that is why the so called ‘Simple Church’ format of come and go as you please, nothing required of you, is equally not Biblical. Jesus said to make disciples, and disciples are those who learn of the Master within the framework of relationships. As I said last month, a person can say they are born again, they can say they love God, and for that matter they can say they love you – but that claim is unproven. God designed His righteousness to be proven within relationships. Jesus said they will know us by our love, and love is a verb, an action word.
Some thoughts on hurt, time, and relationships - We find a lot of hurting people coming to house church and carefully entering into relationship based faith one step at a time, over many weeks. They have often been hurt by society and auditorium church culture that their hurt is on the surface and they still see Christians through eyes of hurt, which affects all they do.
Time helps you choose which memories you want to hold on to; some need help choosing wisely.
Our grace is to help them transition from hurt to health, from dysfunction to function. Our grace is to help them choose to lay aside some memories in order to make new and healthy memories with their new friends in Christ.
People who are hurt see the world through eyes of hurt, not as things really are. When people come to your home meeting the first time, realize they are looking for healthiness, safety, balance. But also realize some people are not ready to grow, so some hurting people will find something to be hurt about no matter what you do.
Biblical leadership is not about telling people what they are to become, it is embodying what they are to become (in Christ).
You are not accountable to perfection, but you are accountable to growth.
Biblical leadership is giving our authority away, empowering people to make decisions on their own as they seek Christ. Sometimes they fall and we are there to pick them up, but being a Christian is not about enabling others to sin, it is about enabling others to grow. Whether they choose to grow or not, is their choice and their story they will one day tell Him. Our job is merely to lay down our lives for others as the Lord did for us.
Chris’ room – we await the completion of the handicapped roll-under sink cabinet. Pray for Chris as we are in a busy travel time and the ever changing schedule really messes with his emotions…he calms down when I ask for and receive his permission to go tell people about Jesus, and he realizes that is dad’s ‘work’, but all the changes to his schedule really affect him.
Also, we are starting a busy travel season with a lot of money going out up front to make tickets and arrangements, so appreciate your help. Thanks for being part of our lives, your support in prayer and giving mean so very much to us! You are always in our prayers, daily!
Blessings and thanks,
John & Barb