Barb and I want to thank those who continue to support us and CWOWI both financially and prayerfully. This last month several have given more than your normal giving and it has helped us catch up, and we are so thankful. Thank you so much, we are glad to be a blessing to you, and you have blessed us!
I’ve shared earlier this fall that He said there would be several things on many fronts happening from fall through spring. That has certainly been the case, ranging from the Paris attack to world market gyrations to North Korea setting off a nuclear bomb and more.
Earlier this month Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic ties with Iran, which partially fulfills Ezekiel 38:13. When Russia/Iran invade Israel it says: “Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish and the young lions thereof will say to you, ‘Have you come to take a spoil?’” Sheba and Dedan will at least diplomatically and perhaps militarily, object to Russia and Iran’s invasion of Israel. Sheba and Dedan are understood to be modern day Saudi Arabia. So the setting of Saudi Arabia against Iran is another piece of the Ezekiel 38 puzzle falling into place.
World economies will stumble, political unrest and social upheaval will continue, and even nature will cause people to sense the balance of natural systems seems off balance. But He is speaking to me more about the body of Christ.
The Lord appeared to me and laid hands on me in November 2001 and told me “You’ve been doing the work of an apostle, but now I’m laying hands on you as an apostle for this task; I want you to start a house church and house church network, and structure it in such a way to facilitate the development of house churches around the world.”
I had understood from scriptures that apostles help start and oversee balanced family based churches that meet in homes – the whole of the New Testament is written by apostles doing house church writing to people doing house church, making the whole context of everything from the 5-fold to the Lord’s Supper to intergenerational relationships to benevolence all in the home.
Recently the Lord has been teaching me about Paul’s ministry and what made him unique, and how in a much, much smaller thread of truth, what CWOWI is all about is similar, and I’ll share part of that here. It is relevant because in the coming days it is what the Lord is asking of the whole body of Christ.
Up until Paul the body of Christ was rather unfocused and undefined. They just existed in the born again experience, but little beyond that in terms of specific teaching on growth in Christ. There was no more than 2 years between Pentecost in Acts 2:4 and Acts 8:1 where it says the persecution was so bad ‘every disciple left Jerusalem for Judea and Samaria except for the apostles’.
As they resettled in Judea and Samaria, Acts 8 tells of Philip coming to Samaria to the newly resettled disciples, preaching Jesus to those who hadn’t heard, and acting as it were to confirm what these replanted disciples had been sharing about Jesus. And God poured out His Spirit so that many were born again, healed, and delivered, and ‘there was great joy in the city’.
The big picture was seen, but they lived in the born again and Baptism with the Holy Spirit experience and didn’t go much beyond. The practical details about how one walks out faith wasn’t taught. People were being born again, healed, delivered, but they were entirely unfocused beyond that. Who would lead them into maturity? Who would instruct them in growth as human beings and as disciples after the born again event?
Paul’s ministry, the Lord has been sharing with me, largely resulted in causing the body of Christ to focus on the priorities of faith and life, to cut to the core issues of life in Christ, to take people beyond religion and merely being born again believers, into maturity as disciples.
Look at each of his letters and the issues of the heart and practical life he brought up as he wrote: Issues of personal lifestyle and holiness. Issues of walking in love, of sorting through personal decisions on what to believe about everything from eating meat sacrificed to idols to what if any day was considered more holy than another, to thieves giving up stealing in order to get a job so they have money to give to those in need, and so much more.
On a much, much smaller scale, don’t get me wrong I am in no way trying to exalt myself, but am sharing what the Lord has been saying to me in context of the body of Christ as a whole, but that focus is what I’m called to as well. To focus the body of Christ and teach practical truths and application of our faith that we might go on to maturity.
And that is in large part because we are at a time in world history and in the body of Christ, the Spirit is saying to the body to focus and grow up. The season that allowed the body of Christ to wallow in self-absorbed faith, of making God our servant instead of us, His, of rushing from this fad to that newest ‘thing’, is over. The Lord is saying to focus, to the body. Leave that vague, undefined ‘Yes, I’m a Christian’ and move on to exactly what you believe, why you believe it, and how you are seeking and knowing Him each and every day. It is the time to stop following the pack, the fad, the formula, and get the temple in order – we are living temples – get our house in order. Focus.
Perhaps you can sense this call to focus on the essentials in your own spirit, in the practical application of your own faith, but haven’t been able to exactly identify what it is. It is the Spirit saying to the church, focus. Many will have the opportunity over the next couple of years to either confirm they wish to stay in the ‘babyhood’ stage so to speak, and deal with the world as the world would, their faith taking a back seat. But many of those same people are, and will, sense a call to go deeper, to cut to the core issues of faith and life and go on in the Lord. It is a call to establish priorities which come about after first experiencing a grace in the heart.
Also, it isn’t headline grabbing, but you’ll hear of various synonyms for house church more and more – simple church, micro-church, mini-church and so on – and though many will be nothing more than cell groups centrally controlled by the auditorium, ‘relationships’ will become the ‘in’ thing in many circles. I keep hearing ‘set your house in order’ for the body of Christ. The ‘trickle down’ effect of that word is valid for each of us, organizing, tying up loose ends, debts, strengthening home and family – maturity, maturity is where we are headed, and many more this year will fall to one side or the other as things become exposed that were once hidden. Will be an interesting year!
I want to mention our Dutch conference April 21-24, Thursday-Sunday. If you are doing house church this would be a great way to meet and get to know people from about a dozen other nations and make new friends in a relaxed retreat format. You should plan to arrive the 20th but can stay over to see Holland to the 27th making a week of it. One of the amazing things about CWOWI members and leaders traveling with us and to conferences is those solid friendships that develop.
For example, this past fall a group of us from Arkansas, Mississippi, Montreal, and Manchester, New Hampshire made a loop around New England visiting house churches, starting with visiting the Parker’s in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Since then some of those who went on that trip have continued to stay in touch with each other by Skyping once a month the Parker’s during their house church meeting - joining their house church meeting – connecting house churches from Montreal, Arkansas and Scotland all at the same time connecting to the New Hampshire meeting for one big house church meeting!
I really believe the CWOWI conferences are unlike any other conferences I’ve ever seen because of the focus on getting to know one another, and our depth in the Lord that results in very anointed meetings and worship. The relationships are rich, and if you are doing house church and want to come, email me or Wil and Ank our Dutch hosts, at email@example.com
Thank you again for being in our lives, so much is happening around the world, some of which I cannot speak here on such an international email. But know that in spite of danger and persecution, the Lord is advancing.
Thank you for your love, prayers, and support.
John and Barb