vibrant families of Jesus ...

OIKOS ...

A Greek word conveying a sense of community, from dwelling to dwellers, relatedness to responsibilities. The household of faith.

discipling a whole nation

Greetings, Friends,

As we stated in our earlier email, as 2007 has come to a close, our season with Dawn Ministries has ended and a new one has begun.

Here is what God has been speaking to the hearts of the five of us and our wives about the next part of our journey together. Here is a short overview and then an elaboration for those who want more information.

An Overview

Over the past year our DAWN North American leadership team began to distill some of the changes that God was working in our hearts. We have learned much during our journey together, and it is resulting in major change in how we understand God’s purposes for His people. What are we learning?

  • We are learning to "stop pretending" that all is well and things are working with church—even simple church—as it has functioned up to now. This leads to a healthy questioning of everything in light of Scripture which leads to the next lesson.
  • We are learning that it’s not just about the wineskin (structures, meetings, numbers of house or simple churches or even number of networks) but about intimacy, the heart, relationship, health, and Spirit- led mission flowing from this intimacy.
  • We are learning that God is calling us to ask Him to do whatever it takes to end the dissonance between Scripture and our experience (individually and corporately).
  • We are learning that the focal point of our community life is to keep Jesus Christ preeminent in everything and to only move based on His leading. We are learning that intimacy with God and one another must precede everything else. Intimacy defined encourages us to "live loved." Hence the Great Commandment precedes the Great Commission.
  • We are learning that we must be proclaiming the "Gospel of the Kingdom” but not in human effort. This means that the Gospel must be accompanied by spiritual power and discernment, resulting in believers being set free and therefore able to truly become healthy disciples.
  • We are learning that wholeness begets wholeness and that emotional, spiritual and relational health and character were expected of all leaders in the New Testament church. We must therefore change our discipleship methods to match those of Jesus, based on example, dialogical training, healing and deliverance, etc.
  • We are learning that we must press in hard—in a way totally counterintuitive for individualistic westerners—to live in genuine community and thereby verify the Gospel we announce. Anything less than relational health denies the very Gospel we proclaim.
  • We are learning that the result of "mission" that flows from intimacy and the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom is healthy families in every sense of the word. The subsequent transformation of individuals, families and entire communities flows from this core understanding of Kingdom life.

In light of these things and many others, we met in early December to listen to God and discern more specific direction for this new season. What did we hear?

  • To continue on as a team, deepening our intimacy with God and one another.
  • To give leadership and support to a relationally based community with a fuller expression of Kingdom life that includes, but is not limited to, church planting.
  • God confirmed that our desire to see “a healthy church--a vibrant family of Jesus Christ--within easy access geographically and culturally of every person in every nation of the world is His desire as well. The core elements of “church as family” and “extended families of faith” we have articulated remain foundational to our understanding of Kingdom life.
  • That healthy spiritual families emerge and are transmitted through healthy spiritual parents. Healthy parents listen and hear our Father’s voice and get to know Jesus. (“My sheep know me and they hear my voice and follow me.”) This is foundational to seeing God’s Kingdom extended with the kind of power that heals and sets people free.
  • Prophetic confirmation of both the season and the journey is abundant. For example, Jon Hamill speaks of this season as that of the forerunner—a time of God’s deploying those who pioneer a new work that God is planning to do in the hearts and lives of His people (this prophecy is included at the end of this document). Cheryl McGrath not only speaks of this as a season of forerunners, she (along with many other prophetic voices) sees the time ahead as one of great shaking for the church, with God disassembling that which is built on human effort and achievement (this prophecy is also included at the end of this document). And Francis Frangipane sees this season as a time where captives who have been set free will set others free. Graham Cooke recently said “as evangelicals we have put the Great Commission above the Great Commandment. And people who don't prioritize the Great Commandment tend not to trust God to do what He promised and thereby resort to their own efforts to fulfill the Great Commission.”

A further elaboration follows for those who want to read more.

Affirmation of the Journey into a Simple life in Christ and Church as Family.

As we noted in the overview, we believe that God is calling us to continue on in leading a relationally based community of faith. This community will give a fuller expression of Kingdom life that includes but is not limited to church planting. We have noticed in conversation with many of you that, like us, although you anticipate an outcome of churches planted as a result of Kingdom life, it’s not your primary motivation in life.

The core elements of “church as family” remain foundational to our understanding of how people grow in Christ. The kind of community (oikos) that results from understanding God’s love to us and for others naturally becomes a “base of operations” for the expansion of the Kingdom of God in its neighborhood or people group.

As you know, we have consistently stated that marriage is the first and most foundational expression of the church. Today, however, many leaders have dysfunctional marriages and children who are struggling. As a team we hear God saying, “Get it right at home and you will be able to give it away.” Healthy lives in Christ will attract people to you and cause them to consider a Kingdom lifestyle. We believe that we should get to the place where what happens at home is “enough” until God releases us to extend His Kingdom further. We believe that couples need to lay the groundwork for a healthy marriage and the raising of children in order to prepare for works of service. (1 Tim 3)… because wholeness begets wholeness.

All true wholeness begins with intimacy with God. Expressing the life we live through the love of God changes the way the Gospel of the Kingdom bursts forth. Duty, guilt and obligation are not motivators for this life in Christ that we choose to live. Rather it is a deep and abiding relationship with our King, Jesus, that motivates us to move forward in Kingdom life.

One member of our team expressed our heart well when he wrote the following.

Following Jesus in a Spirit-Led Lifestyle

The great soccer player Pele was quoted as saying, "I have just three moves … but I do them very, very well."

So for us, we want to become known for...

1. Loving, hearing and obeying Jesus in our lives and the lives of our families.
2. Leading others to love, hear and obey Jesus by our example, not just our words.
3. Leading the trainers of others to love, hear and obey Jesus.

If we do these things well, we believe we will fulfill the Lord's purpose for our relational family and He will lead us on His mission to see the Kingdom expand across the land.

In light of this…

1. We don't assume that the challenge and task we face is first and foremost church planting. 2. We assume rather that the focus will be to discern those who are open to God's life and to train them to center their lives in Jesus.

We believe that either focus (church planting or centering life in Jesus) will produce something that may be called a church—but only the second focus will produce a vibrant family of Jesus. He commissions us to go make disciples—literally, devoted followers—among all the pockets of people on the planet. These followers, under his direction will form vibrant local communities that embody His life.

What does this mean for our team?

We will live in community, pursuing relationship with God and prioritizing our relationships ahead of task. We believe that out of this community life, Jesus will lead us together to “task” as we listen to and obey Him. Our relationship with Jesus and His people is the starting point from which we move toward any task we hear God telling us to pursue.

Also, we know that we will be connecting and encouraging in many ways those of kindred spirit and that we will be training in group settings those who share this journey in the areas that lead to wholeness and extending the Kingdom of God in power. In time and by the leading of the Holy Spirit, teams of couples will be available to travel to small communities as catalytic friends to encourage vibrancy, health, and to work with local leaders to discern God’s agenda for the time together.

In Summary:

  • It is about listening to God and doing what He says.
  • It is about authentic relationships centered in Him.
  • It is about true discipleship replacing a “meetings” mentality.
  • It is about health and life and the natural reproduction that flows from intimacy with Jesus and each other.
  • It is about pursuing true, Christ-led community and extending that community into the cities.
  • It is about extending the Kingdom of God around the world in His power and strength, not in ours.
  • It’s remembering that Jesus said,“ I will build my church.”

Our mission is the mission of our Lord: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to proclaim the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom to those who are in spiritual poverty, to bring spiritual sight to those blinded by the world and the devil, who have had their hearts taken from them, to set those held captive by this dark age and the rulers and its principalities free from bondage, to proclaim that this is the time of the Lord’s favor and redemption. To bring the Lord’s healing and compassion to all those who mourn and are heavily burdened and provide for them a hope and a future as sons and daughters of God.” (Isaiah 61

Our desired outcomes are…

  • health in us and our families
  • the training and equipping of spiritual moms and dads to reflect the Kingdom life of Christ
  • the recognizing, training and raising up of mature leaders in the cities
  • the establishing of Kingdom communities – (communities of faith, simple churches, missional expressions into our cities that are discerned by the local community of leaders.)

Final thoughts

We believe that the Kingdom of God is built on relationships. Most folks who have connected with our DAWN leadership team have deep personal relationships with one or more of us. We are so thankful for each of you and realize that this is a change of direction from being solely focused on church planting. We therefore bless and release you to follow God’s leading in your life.

We believe that many of you will want to continue in relationship with us and with one another. Our heart is to pursue this “forerunners” expression of Kingdom life that will continue to stretch us to reach the edges of the Kingdom territories.

We believe the idea of a community in intimacy with God and each other will birth many expressions of Kingdom life and release the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit in ways we may not have imagined in the past.

You probably have many questions. So do we. The journey of following Christ in community is filled with times of listening, waiting, and trusting.

We love and value each one of you and look forward to continuing the conversation as we engage this season of transition and new birth!

With Blessing,

Kent and Karen Smith
Ken and Val Stade
Michael and Christine Steele
Greg and Laurie Strand
Tom and Jettie Wymore

Prophetic Words

We do not know John Hamill personally but believe this prophetic overview is in line with many words of prophecy coming forth today. We believe that listening to what the Spirit is saying to the Church is the only way we will be able to move forward in the future. Prophecy points the way, and we want to be obedient to what the Lord is saying in this season. We have excerpts of the prophecies here. Connect with the links after each article to read the whole prophecy.

There is a reemerging of the forerunner Spirit.

"A Re-emergence of the FORERUNNER SPIRIT will Pioneer a NEW EXPRESSION of God's HEART"

Recently the Lord released me to declare a word that has been in my heart for more than a year. It is with great excitement and anticipation for 2008 that I share with you the Re-emergence of the Forerunner Spirit.

The Forerunner Calling

Let's begin with some context. Forerunners are called to go ahead of the broader Body of Christ to "prepare the way for the people." In other words, their labors are primarily to pioneer a new expression of God's heart and work. To me, the call of a forerunner is best summed up in Isaiah 51:16, "I have set My words in your mouth, and have hidden you under the shadow of My hand, to establish the Heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, you are My people."

Three primary missions of the forerunner calling are identified in this verse. The first mission is to "establish the Heavens"--to bring breakthrough in the spirit realm so that a move of God can have free course between Heaven and earth. Once a portal is opened, we have the honor of maintaining an open Heaven through the communion of worship, intercession and passionate obedience to His voice.

The second mission is to "found, or lay the foundations, of the earth." The work of a forerunner is apostolic in nature. Christ must be laid as the Chief cornerstone, and the foundations laid with much care. God desires in this season to recover our apostolic foundations--even as a nation--and build His Kingdom instead of our own.

The third mission is to say to Zion, "You are My people." In other words, God passionately desires to call back a covenant people who do not know that He cherishes them in His heart. We are all qualified through the Blood of Jesus as His covenant people! Part of preparing the way is standing with the Lord in prayer--until the hearts of those He claims are penetrated by the expression of His heart for them.

Anointing to Prepare the Way

Part of the forerunner mantle is an anointing of preparation--to build by the Spirit for future realities we couldn't possibly know how to prepare for in the natural. Just ask Noah, Joseph, Elijah or Paul. They established works by the Spirit that impact us massively even today, when they had very little understanding of the scope of their labors.

Heaven's Gates Are Opening --No More Delay!

Then the Lord showed me a vision of four angelic hosts, very tall and strong, struggling to keep shut what appeared to be four gates in the sky, which held back great resources. They were responding to immense pressure from Heaven's side to keep the gates shut. But the pressure to open the gates came from the substance of accumulated answers to prayer.

In a flash, I knew that these resources were being withheld by these angels until God's heart had been satisfied through repentance, and His Body had matured enough to properly steward His substance. I knew that it was time to decree the release of these covenant resources!

In 2008, the Lord is saying to many people and even many movements: "NO MORE DELAY." The angelic blockade is over. A maturity has been gained that will propel this move of His Spirit forward with a depth we have never before seen. He is again releasing a forerunner anointing to bring salvation and transformation to the earth. Let's tap into this river and prepare the way of the Lord!

Jon Hamill, Lamplighter Ministries

http://www.lamplighterministries.net/Re-emergence%20of%20Forerunner%20Spirit.pdf

Email: lamplighterjon@earthlink.net

Prophetic Word #2 – Cheryl McGrath 2005 – We have had this prophecy for some time. Here are some of the key excerpts. (Both complete prophecies are available if you would like them.) Again we do not know Cheryl but believe it is important to seek the Lord and pay attention to what is being said through a prophetic word.

A WORD TO THE FORERUNNERS

"If you have run with the footmen and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?" Jeremiah 12:5

The first section of this message is addressed to the Lord's "footmen," or forerunners. In Old Testament times the footmen were selected soldiers who ran ahead of the main army in order to scout out the land and prepare for its arrival.

The church worldwide is currently experiencing a severe season of transition and change that will ultimately reveal the true Bride of Christ and expose an antichrist religious system built on the false foundations of man's pride and intellect.

Many of the Lord's servants, in the wisdom and timing of the Lord, were called as forerunners in this transitioning process and have been "running ahead of the army" for some time now, even years. These are those who the Lord called out of denominationalism in order to form an arrowhead for the Spirit's thrust of major reformation of the "ecclesia," or those who are called to be Christ's (Romans 1:6.) In a spiritual sense, these forerunners have been scouting the newly emerging landscape, adjusting their vision and their footsteps to the unfamiliar terrain and gathering necessary understanding of previously unexplored expressions of "being the church," as opposed to "going to church." For a great many of these forerunners the experience of being part of that "arrowhead" has been a costly one in terms of extreme loneliness, isolation and unjust accusations of rebellion from those they once walked with in the Body. However, the lessons they have learned and the brokenness gained from having endured and overcome in this place will prove to be of immeasurable benefit to the Bride in the days to come. These forerunners are the "nameless, faceless" ones spoken of by several prophetic voices during the nineteen nineties. For the most part they have been hidden and crafted by the Lord until His perfect timing and they will not look like or sound like the former leadership models the church has come to rely on. Some of these footmen-forerunners have been scouting ahead for (what seems to them) a very long time, and their weariness is being compounded by discouragement and frustration as they wait for the movement of the main army. For those of you reading this who recognize yourselves as part of this company, the Lord has a specific word:

He says "the terrain is now changing. This new terrain is no place for footmen and requires the power of horsemen. How will you transition to the next stage of what I am doing if your strength has already run out? Let each one answer for himself and herself. Let each one seek Me for the answer, for you cannot do such a thing."

Even as the storm clouds dramatically and suddenly rolled in upon Elijah, so too is the spiritual atmosphere in and over the church experiencing dramatic and irreversible change. Even those who have been waiting and praying for such change will be challenged by the magnitude of the shaking and rearranging the Lord is determined to bring to His household. Yet, here we see that not only did Elijah contend with the horses of Ahab, he ran by foot ahead of them. How? By the Spirit of the Lord alone, for there was nothing in Elijah's own strength or stature that could enable him. Horses represent power. There is a way for the footmen to contend with the challenges of this new terrain and run with the horses and horsemen, and it is in the power of the Spirit and by no other means. The Lord is asking if His forerunners are ready to adapt to this new terrain, which will require a shift in focus.

The Lord continued to speak: "Many of the footmen have run individually, aware only of their own footsteps, their own path, and their own goals. But now the terrain changes and they must see what I see - a company of horsemen riding. And they must see themselves no more, but see the company, and themselves as part of that company. They must take in and adjust to the wider view."

A WORD TO THOSE WHO TRUST IN PEACE

And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan? For even your brothers, the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; yes, they have called a multitude after you. Do not believe them, even though they speak smooth words to you." (Jeremiah 12:6)

There are those among the Lord's people who, due to their love for His church, have up until now chosen to remain in fellowship situations where they are aware that known areas of sin are being tolerated in various forms. That sin might either be within the leadership, or being "winked at" (knowingly tolerated) by the leadership. These ones I am speaking of do not condone the sin, in fact are distressed by it, but have chosen to stay on in watchmen and intercessory roles for the love of the Lord's people. Some, for the same reasons, have chosen to remain in fellowship situations where they are continually grieved by a controlling "rulership" mentality in leadership, spiritually abusive behavior and/or an atmosphere of carnality and denominational competitiveness or elitism. In all of these situations the Sprit of God is grieved and quenched, and His authority in the church hindered. Please take note, this is NOT a word to those who have a personal gripe towards leaders who have corrected them or not esteemed them in the way they feel they deserve. This is a word to those many unknown and genuine intercessory watchmen, shepherds, prophets, apostles, and all other lovers of Christ and His Body who weep and travail over the church in the secret place with no desire for recognition or glory for yourselves. I believe you will know who you are. This place has been difficult and often painful for these seekers of peace to endure, but they have remained to intercede and influence in the hope of change. Thus they have sought and waited for peace in the Lord's household. Many, like Jeremiah, are asking, "how long, Lord, before you deal with wickedness in Your house?" I hear the Lord replying "and how long will you mourn for Saul?" (1Samuel 15.35 and 16:1)

The Lord's word to this group of believers is this:
"You have cried "peace" and trusted in that "peace" even as the floodplain has risen around you. You have desired peace with those who did not see things the way you do and at times your desire for this peace has led you into unsanctified mercy. Even when your brothers, who have chosen the house of their (earthly) father have dealt treacherously with you, you have continued to trust in the peace process. I have allowed this for a season, but there is a time when the seeking of peace becomes appeasement, and the longing for peace leads to compromise. But now the terrain has changed and the flood plain of Jordan is upon you. The Jordan represents the Cross, where all compromise ceases. Indeed the Jordan represents even a cross-road where ways separate. Yes, even compromised relationships die at the Cross, where a man's enemies shall be those of his own household."

This is a strong word, and I believe the Lord was speaking of the "household of faith" (Gal. 6:10) when He spoke of dying to compromised relationships.

As the Lord continued to unfold the message, I was given to see an open doorway. In His wisdom and timing, He has allowed that doorway to remain open between the spiritually dead religious institution the world calls the Christian church, and the spiritual house of living stones the Lord Himself is building. The two have been freely mingling amongst each other in every gathering of believers, regardless of whether that gathering was in a denominational or independent setting.. But I also saw that because of this opening a multitude of demonic religious spirits had gathered and now stood ready with the intention to pursue, overtake and destroy the living church, the Bridal company. I saw and understood by the Spirit that the Lord's Hand of constraint had held back this demonic horde from His called and chosen ones as they were becoming prepared and assembled before Him. This church of living stones was born at Calvary when blood and water flowed forth from the dying body of Jesus, and is destined to demonstrate to the principalities and powers the mystery of the Father's manifold wisdom (Eph. 3:10,11). I believe it is now the wisdom and timing of the Lord to close that open door so that the true and false church will be separated from one another. When the Lord closes a door, no man can open it (Rev. 3:7). The Lord will have a living church that is not mixed or tainted by the world. Furthermore, in His grace, He will remove all bridges between the two to remove the possibility of compromise for His elect. He did not allow me to know any specific time frame for this process.

Therefore there is a call going forth to those who have trusted in peace. These are those who have been patiently waiting for things to get better, and have remained in places of fellowship in the hope of change, or out of loyalty to friends, family and leaders. The call is to follow the Lamb wherever He goes, even into unknown and unfamiliar territory outside the walls of establishment. I was strongly impressed by the Spirit that a day of choosing was upon His people, and that to avoid that choice is indeed to make it.

CONCLUSION

There are those who will hear and receive this word, and those who will discard it. There are many who will be offended by it. I certainly did not find it any easy word to receive or deliver. However, having done so, I leave it in the hands of the Lord to bring this message to those who need it through the power of His Spirit.

I wish once again to stress that as the Body of Christ moves further into the transitional process, we must grow beyond merely defining this transformation in terms of whether to meet in traditional church buildings or houses. There are believers meeting in houses who are still captive to the "temple" mentality with its hierarchy and law-keeping. And there are believers meeting in denominational church buildings who are free enough to meet with the Body in any physical setting because they understand that the true church finds unity and fellowship only in the Spirit. This transition is about much more than the mechanics of where the church should come together or how the church should function corporately. It is about whether to continue compromising with a flesh-dominated religious system, or abandoning compromise for the spiritual house of living stones, at any cost. Eventually, every believer will have to choose one of those two places. May the Lord give us grace and humility to understand this is all about Him, and not about us.

"He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad." (Matt. 12:30)

http://www.etpv.org/2005/tthc.html www.greatsouthland.org

Copyright 2005 Cheryl McGrath, Great South Land Ministries, Australia.