As we reach the middle of August I wonder where the summer went! (Greetings to our Aussie, Kiwi, and RSA friends, who are looking for spring).
The Lord seems to move in seasons* rather than minutes and seconds, which sometimes causes us to be anxious because we live in a minutes and seconds world. We observe that "God came through at the last second" while He is thinking He provided the answer within His season of our life. *Genesis 1:14
Your seasons used to be your own, but now they belong to Him
In John 7:3-5 it is recorded Jesus' unbelieving brothers teased Him about going up to the Feast of Tabernacles and proving Himself to His followers. (Later at least 2 of His brothers would become believers, leaders, and authored 2 letters of our New Testament: James and Jude)
When they told Him to go up to the feast to prove himself, He responded in verse 6: "My time (Greek; season) has not yet come, but your time (season) is ready anytime." (Gk; hetoimos, ready, standing by).
Jesus marks a difference between those who believe in Him and those who don't: Those who don't believe in Him are in control of their own seasons of life. But Jesus was sensitive to the Father's seasons for His life, indicating the time wasn't yet right for Him to attend the feast, yet He didn't say why.
And that is how it is with us today. The Lord doesn't always reveal the timing and events within a season of our lives, but we are submitted to Him, trusting He is in ultimate control of our seasons. We do know however, that in each season He expects us to use it to grow in Him.
Yesterday I taught in one of the house churches from Psalm 37:23 which says in the King James Version: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and He delights in his way."
The Lord takes delight in your life
We all compared various translations and all agreed the second half of that verse says that God delights Himself in (a good person's) way. The Amplified Bible translates the second half of the verse this way: "...He delights in his way and He busies Himself with his every step."
That is amazing - The Father busies Himself with our every step. Linking the two together we realize if we submit our seasons of life to the Lord He not only orders our steps, but He finds delight in doing so, and personally involves Himself in our every step. Unbelievers don't have that blessing, and there is great peace in knowing He is in ultimate control and guiding our steps - no matter what it looks like right now.
There is a rest and peace that comes upon us when we join Him in looking at the big picture of our lives - as Hebrews 4:9-11 so states, our labor is not to stir up faith, but to enter into rest. Faith is a spiritual force that Satan cannot touch, so he attacks our peace by destroying hope.
Our effort is to stay in the peace, and hope is strengthened best by stepping back and realizing we've submitted the seasons of our life to Him, and He is involving Himself in our every step. Ahhhh....that is so nice.
A personal note
Especially over the summer when people go on vacations and take holidays and such, we've been especially blessed by those of you who continue to remember us in your giving, especially monthly giving, because in such a busy season you remember us and our work in the Lord - thank you so much for your conistency.
Paul wrote of the household of Stephanus in I Corinthians 16:15; ‘who have addicted (devoted) themselves to the ministry of the saints’. And in his second letter to them, speaking of the Philippians and others in that area that they ‘urgently pleaded with us for the privilege in sharing of this ministry to the Lord’s people…and they gave themselves first to the Lord, and then by the will of God to us.’
Barb and I thank you so much, those who have given their hearts first to the Lord, and then out of that appreciation and love, to us - thank you!
Update on Wil and Ank's move to a larger home
Wil and Ank send their thanks as people have responded with enough pledges of support for their opportunity to move out of their town house into a large country home, big enough to host people and hold regional house church conferences. We add our thanks to theirs for those who have responded!
Prophetic happenings in the news
Things lining up for the Ezekiel 38 war in the news include now not-so-secret meetings between Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab nations, formulating agreements and plans against Iran’s increasing presence in Syria and the Mid-east. Remember that Ezekiel mentions ‘Sheba and Dedan’ in particular, understood by most to be modern Saudi Arabia and other smaller Arab nations in the region, joining with Israel and her allies against a future Iranian and Russian invasion.
And of course the failed coup in Turkey is very important prophetically, for it has tipped Turkey away from the US and the EU, now re-formalizing relations with Russia, including talks of more Russian pipelines for gas/oil through Turkey, and the building of a nuclear power facility in Turkey.
History records the last Caliphate, a multi-nation Muslim rule, was out of Turkey known as the Ottoman rule, which ended in 1922. Some say Turkey wants to re-establish itself as the Muslim leader in the Mideast, and it seems headed in that direction. Again, in 3 separate visitations with the Lord going back into the 1990’s, He has told me ‘watch Turkey’ – so we watch and pray. CWOWI has friends in Ankara, and life is hard…praying.
House church isn't about the house
House church isn't about the house, it's about the church, which is the people. Those relationships are #1. Think outside the 'church' mentality and be creative in how you invest in one another. Lunch hour meals together to reconnect, an evening meal together, inviting someone to join you in a walk, bike ride, movie, window shopping or something creative.
Even if you are just 1 person wanting to start a house church, don't start by holding 'church'. Start by investing in people. House church isn't a program or model of how to do church, meeting in homes is the natural result of healthy relationships in Christ. Invest therefore in relationships and at some point you will want to gather in a home for a meal, some prayer, maybe some worship or study of the Word...we will know each other and be together for eternity, so act like it. Invest in your relationships!
I'm so, so saddened by the shallow and immature Christians who attend a house church for awhile, then who break off fellowship because of doctrinal differences or they don't get to spout their favorite slightly off the norm belief at every meeting. In the auditorium church people come and go like that all the time because they find no place to share their view, so end up going nowhere and their leaving isn't even noticed.
But in house church the numbers are small and they are noticed and loved, and when they leave it makes a hole. They are missed as the others truly loved them, but they reveal they were only in it in the hopes of sharing their particular belief. Jesus brought them to that house church in the hopes they would grow into balance through healthy relationships rather than the false relationships offered by (for instance) web sites that theorize this whose currency is fear. In leaving real people and real relationships they reject His plan for why He brought others into their lives, going with their own plan for their life. That is idolatry.
The larger picture - is that new affiliates in the US and other nations continue, and all are on the same spiritual page, eager to celebrate Jesus with others and grow in Him. It is SO exciting and so exactly what we see in Acts - growth and people coming to the Lord in the midst of life's difficulties.
Thank you for being part of our lives, Barb and I appreciate you very much. Keep us in prayer, Chris especially, as we've had a very hard time with his behavior at the group home. With our travel and hosting schedules his normal routine of coming home Friday and Saturday has been disrupted, and he has been confused as to when dad is coming to get him, leading to fits of anger and such...thank you. And thank you again for remembering us in your giving, joining yourselves with us in this work of the Lord.
John and Barb