First a quick note to those in the USA who write prayer requests on the giving envelope that comes with the mailed out newsletter – when you write the request will you also include a phone number so I can call and we can pray together? Thanks, if you would like to do that. Know that I pray as requested for you and your request, and I even take a picture on my phone so I can bring up those requests to pray – I often try to call those who send in donations as well so I can say thank you, but usually phone numbers aren’t listed on checks, but if you’d like to include a phone number I’m happy to call and say thanks and pray with you.
We’ve had Chris at home the last 3 days, and always when I tell him I have to take him back to the group home, what we call ‘school’, he always gets sad and quiet for several minutes. This week I told him I needed to go on 2 airplanes and fly over the ocean to tell people about Jesus, and he worked through his sadness very quickly, telling me ‘Okay dad, you go on the planes, its ok.’ Still, I wept as I drove away for his good heart and innocence, trusting this is what I do and I’ll be back in 2 ½ weeks.
Big picture - This past week I attended a seminar for parents of children with special needs – adult handicapped children such as our Chris – and how to plan for their care after mom and dad die. For the 90 minutes of the seminar I was very narrowly focused on ‘our little problem’, and it took the nearly 2 hour drive home to regain focus on the larger picture that whatever happens in the future to us and Chris the Father will continue to provide as He is currently, just as graciously, just as generously.
It is a mental and emotional discipline to pull back from the events screaming at us to see the larger picture that in the end all will be well. And that led me to think about how relationship based faith is a lifestyle, not something we ‘do’.
Often someone will contact me asking for help as the Lord is leading them to ‘plant’ house churches, and I always tell them I understand their heart, but house churches aren’t ‘planted’, they spring forth naturally from the relationships described in scripture: Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, with the occasional not yet born again ‘person of peace’ in the mix. Gathering in home meetings is the natural result of these relationships. Yes we meet with purpose and with intent, but loving each person in the Lord as we mutually grow in Him is what it is all about, that sense of community and extended family.
Seeing the ‘big picture’ and not getting bogged down in the crisis is part of that lifestyle when getting to know one another – all around us will come to an end, but people are eternal, so whatever crisis is now, will pass and we will all know each other through eternity. Amazing!
We are part of what Jesus began to do and teach - I love the way Luke begins the letter we call 'Acts'. You'll recall that Luke wrote the gospel of Luke to a Roman man named Theophilus, saying in Luke 1:3 that he would write out the story of Jesus in chronological order, the only gospel write to do so.
But Luke writes a second letter to Theophilus, the book of Acts also written in chronological order, saying in verse 1: "The first account Theophilus I composed, about all that Jesus began to do and teach..." and then he goes right into the Ascension and continuation of his story, which is the book of Acts, covering about 30 years and closing with Paul under house arrest, but meeting people in his home freely. So we understand from Luke 1:1 to the end of Acts, Luke wrote in chronological order 'all that Jesus began to do and teach'.
Acts is all about the disciples and the Lord moving in and through them to make disciples as part of the continuing story of all Jesus began to do and teach. We need to have this understanding as well - all He is doing in your life and my life and in the world around us, is merely a continuation by the Lord of all He began to do and teach. We are part of the narrative, our lives, our walk with Him, is all part of what He began to do and teach.
That is why Luke in Acts focuses on the Holy Spirit in man, Christ in us, merely a continuation within each person of all that Jesus began to do and teach and continues all the way to us. This is why relationship based faith and gathering together in the home - which the Lord invented as He put Adam & Eve together with Him in their home - is the focus. Christ in us, He is merely continuing to do and teach, therefore we should be eager to hear from Christ in each of us, eager to pray for one another, eager to honor Christ in each person.
People are the most important thing in life, eternal, and part of what Jesus continues to do...amazing grace!
You are reading this as I am at our Finnish spring conference, which this year is me traveling by car to different homes daily for meetings, and also sharing on TV7's 'Holy Spirit night' in Helsinki. I appreciate your prayers for Barb and Chris as they are at home.
Know that we appreciate your prayers, your giving, and being part of our friends and extended family. Praying for you!
Much love and thankfulness,
John & Barb