"For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not of ourselves."
The Jesus Revolution

     KOINONIA

Reconnecting with the Jesus Family team in Crystal Palace / Upper Norwood was good for the soul.  It’s a gift to have a God-given bond with those who know us on a deeper level of mutual love and support in spite of our human quirks and short-comings.  Danny & Margaret Keating, Gerd & Karen Bienge, Arlene Czekalski, Jim & Sue Palosarri, Ben Day and Rosalind Palmer (soon to be married) were among those who were often at our home-base in London and with whom I shared this bond of friendship.

The Bond of ‘Koinonia’

Definition: A deeper transparent level of mutual friendship and love in the bond of faith in Jesus Christ – a gift from the Father – made possible through the Holy Spirit.  Koinonia’ is characterized by a Godly love (Agape), unconditional acceptance, confidentiality, practical assistance, on-going intercession prayer, sacrificial service, mercy and compassion, grace-filled correction when needed,  transformative listening and a willingness to lay down one’s life for the other. 

The term, ‘Koinonia’ is Greek and was first used to describe the relationship between early Christian believers.  Relationships that embody ‘koinonia’ are most often seen and practiced in mission-work endeavors and during times when Christians are experiencing persecution.  Koinonia will most-likely be revived naturally on a larger scale during the ‘antichrist rule’ – prior to the return of Jesus Christ.      

The flow of prayer and concern was two way.  “So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well (I Thessalonians 2:8).”

Jesus Modeled Koinonia

The bond of friendship was strong and present between Jesus and his early disciples.  Traveling the roads together from city to city, eating and working and ministering together in numerous settings – trust was forged and things were real. Among simple folk Jesus and the disciples were usually received well – though often swamped with physical and spiritual needs, requiring hours of exhausting ministry.  The disciples were present for it all – observing, learning, and helping whenever possible.

In contrast, Jesus’ ministry among the Sadducees & Pharisees (the religious of the day) was brief and dangerous.  Their agenda and motives were driven by jealousy and hatred, always on the look-out to trap Jesus into saying something that could be reported back to superiors to be used against him.

John the Baptist (a Jew) had this to say of the religious Jews:   

“When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees (religious leaders) coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:7-10 NKJV).

Jesus’ Words with Teeth / A Warning to the Religious

Jesus refers to the teachers of the Law as hypocrites, blind guides, blind fools, full of greed and self-indulgence, white-washed tombs, snakes, vipers, murderers of the prophets.  In detail, Jesus exposes the error embodied in the religious system of the day.  What we see is a sobering, fearless, wide-brushed overview of how far the Jewish religion had strayed from God’s intended purpose (See Matthew 23:1-39).

Religion Can Become a Myopic Web Entwined with Bigotry

Lets define Bigotry i.e. Hypocrisy: It’s is a state of mind, heart and attitude where a religious person views others with prejudice, distrust, disgust, a threat, fear or hatred for any number of reasons like ethnicity, gender, regional upbringing, poverty beliefs, lack of . . .

The ‘Religious Elite’ are part of a powerful ‘connected community’.  Attributes: They are influential (prominent in social status), well-off financially, expecting of respect, committed to their doctrinal positions and religious traditions.  The downside:  Intolerant of those not like them, self-righteous, self-absorbed, selfish, carrying an attitude of holier than thou (better than the dirty wretched sinner type), purposely distancing themselves from the common people and their struggles.  Basking in religious piety –with blinders adjusted and fitted to avoid being touched by the suffering and needs around them unless it promotes their status, or reputation i.e. ‘through a show good works, or mercy to gain something in return’.

Jesus didn’t want his followers to be confused about identifying “true religion”.  In his teaching he rebuked the religious leaders of his day in a scorching manner, leaving no doubt about what he thought about the superficial outward appearance of religion they paraded around Israel.  The God-authored faith which flowed from the True and Living God to the Jewish people throughout their history had morphed into a form of religious legalism that no one could live up to – other than those lying to themselves. 

Judaism in practice among its leaders was for the most part void of the heart of God. Religion was lived out in a religious bubble, untouched by the incredible needs of the masses to find God’s truth, mercy, forgiveness, healing and acceptance. This omission was glaringly obvious to Jesus Christ as he conducted ministry in the regions of Israel.  Mercy and compassion was nearing extinction.  Tradition, religious laws, jealously, power and pride had darkened the hearts of most of the religious leaders in Israel; both Pharisees and Sadducees.

Why do people have reservations about Religion?

Radical terrorist Islamic groups like ISIS, Al-Qaida, the Taliban, moderate Islam, Buddhists, Sikhs, Chinese Traditional, Primal-Indigenous, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Cults?  We will discuss this subject in detail in a coming article.

The Gospel Message

Our Lord Jesus Christ was and is not as we sometimes are –afraid to speak the truth.  He was faithful to speak the Word he’d received from the Father; words that pierce to the core of the human heart. Those who receive and believe in him are enabled by grace to participate in eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:16-18, 21 NIV).

Those who scoff, mock and reject God’s Son Jesus Christ make a choice with consequences.

 

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19 NIV).

If we resist and hate God to the end of our lives we will find ourselves a victim supporting our own personal rebellion against God. Those who make this choice receive a fate and destiny of accompanying the devil and his evil spirits into the abyss of hell (Matthew 25:1-41-46, Revelation 21:8). 

Jesus’ gospel was delivered with teeth and substance. It is either true, or a fable of gigantic proportions.  Given our personal limited mental capability to be able to understand, fathom and taken in the immensity of knowledge available to humankind, our short life-span on earth and our bodies continual bout with breaking down through aging – we should consider the possibility of an ‘Intelligent Creator’.   It would be wise to think twice before turning our back on the Creator of everything in the entire universe which is orderly, pure, beautiful, immense, powerful and beyond finite comprehension.

How Are We Positioned Spiritually? (God is One!)

Are we in The Father, the Son—Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit?

If we are, our sins are forgiven, we have been born of the spirit; citizenship in God’s kingdom has been established.  Our spiritual eyes have been opened.  Our minds and hearts are being transformed by The Word (Bible) and the Spirit of God. We have received spiritual gifts to use, not bury, to glorify God, encourage fellow believers and make Him known to our fellow man. We are a part of the world-wide body (church) of Jesus Christ.  We have been called out from the world – to serve the True and Living God.  We are co-laborers with God in His ministry.   In all we do – we are not alone!  Jesus said:

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17 / NKJV).

 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.  He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.   These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:23-27 / NKJV).

One of Jesus’ commands to his early disciples:

While staying with them, he ordered them, “Do not to leave Jerusalem, but wait there for the promise of the Father.  This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:4-8 / RSV).

A Spiritual Ride of Discovery and Transformation

Jesus’ ministry outings were filled with an adrenalin- rush of God’s Holy Spirit at work. People came to where Jesus and the disciples were from far and wide.   Evil spirits shrieked and were cast out.  The blind, lame, lepers, the sick – came to be healed.  Others came to see the miracles, to hear the truth, or for food.  Some came to scoff and oppose Jesus’ ministry by confrontation.  The drama of good and evil, human sickness and healing, life and death played out before the eyes of a group of young disciples.   

Picture yourself as one of the disciples present when Jesus was conducting ministry among the needy, sick and demonized:  A time of rest has come.  You’re with the disciples seated under a tree with Jesus to share what food there is between you. Jesus asks one of the disciples to give thanks. Tired from the heat of the day you savor the small meal before you.  Amongst those gathered, some disciples have questions, or just want to sit near Jesus.  The need to debrief with Jesus is something each disciple experienced at one time or another.  Intuitively, or by request the disciples make room for this to happen.  Some disciples want to sit as far out on the parameter as possible to sort through internal reactions to what has occurred among the sick, demonized, religious leaders, tax-collectors, Samaritans, or fellow disciples.  Processing time was needed.  What is it like for you?  What was the most inspiring thing about today?  What is the most confusing, or troubling?   Do you have any questions you’d like to ask of Jesus?  Go ahead . . .

Create in Me a Clean Heart O God

On the road with Jesus brought the disciples face to face with their own selfishness, doubts, attitudes and sins that needed rooting out. This was an ongoing process, just as it is for us. Being 100% honest with ourselves and God, translates into being a life-long learner – listening to God’s voice and walking humbly in step with the Holy Spirit our teacher.  This is the exact place where God wants us internally and spiritually, regardless of where he places us physically.  The Lord is One – Father, Son & Holy Spirit! (Hebrews 1:1-3).  Without God’s daily guidance and leading we are ‘pushing straw around’ – trying in human strength to achieve –what only God can.  Our striving and enterprising energy may lead us down the wrong road entirely (see Luke 12: 13-21 the story of an industrious fool).

Reading King David’s words in Psalms 51, many followers of Jesus have whispered reverently, “This honesty, vulnerability, friendship with God, transparency and cleansing of heart, mind and soul – is what I want.”  In the presence of God we are being transformed throughout our days on this earth.  Our openness is vital, our willingness to present ourselves before God is essential. Our practice of confession of sin makes our walk with Jesus through the Holy Spirit current and real. The combination of presenting ourselves before God, confessing our sins, listening and obeying God– makes us wise servants and friends of God.

What are the essentials needed to accomplish this?

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandments were: “Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your (entire) mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).  Jesus’ words in Mark’s Gospel are rendered, “There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31b NIV).

When Jesus delivered what is known as, ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ early in Matthew’s Gospel, he ushered in ‘new covenant teachings’, beginning with the ‘beatitudes i.e. blessings’.  He taught what the Father had given him on; the law, murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, eye for eye, love of enemies, giving to the needy, prayer, fasting, treasures in heaven, worry, judging others, seeking God, the true path, a tree and its fruit, and wise and foolish builders.  The hearers were amazed (Matthew 5:1-7:29).  I feel the same way when I consider the breadth of all Jesus Christ said and did.    

Jesus also commanded:“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35NIV)The church as a whole has not lived up to this command – nor has it incorporated ‘love your enemy’ (Matthew 5:43-47). 

Jesus said, “For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” (John 12:49-50 NIV; see John 12:44-46).  

Christian religious scholars debate the subject of how the TORAH or LAW is integrated within the NEW COVENANT ushered in by Jesus Christ, at the Father’s bidding.  The True and Living God known as, ‘I AM, YHVH (Yahweh), Elohim, Jehovah, The Father, is the same Eternal Creator referred to in the Old Testament books of the Bible and the New Testament Canon of 27 books.

This is a fascinating study for a later date. What exactly is the Law?  Did God decide to revise and update specific areas of the Law through Jesus’ discourse in the Sermon on the Mount? What portions of the Law, history, prophets, Psalms, Proverbs, and other writings of the Old Testament are applicable and relevant today?  Many conclude that specific regulations, time-period laws, health-codes and animal sacrificial practices to atone for sin have been set aside.  Others think the entire Old Testament has been set aside.  A careful study of the Scriptures is in order on this topic which we will revisit. 

I’m compelled to believe, “Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:129-130 NIV).  Let’s refer to two other portions of the Old Testament:

We know nothing is hidden from God. For I am closely watching you, and I see every sin. You cannot hope to hide from me” (Jeremiah 16:7 / Living Bible).  See Proverbs 15:3, I Corinthians 4:5.  David said it well, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place” (Psalm 51:9 / NIV Bible).

Discernment – Battling spirits / Breaking the Bondage Cycle

A Backward Glance: Discernment is a valuable gift that should be employed.  Evil spirits are invisible, at work in individuals, situations and human history.  This demonic activity blocks all progress. It reminds me of what Jews who were living in Israel encountered on a daily basis within their beloved religion of Judaism.  It was approximately 400 years since the last prophet Malachi had penned words to the nation of Israel.  During this span of years the spiritual condition of Israel had taken numerous twists and turns. In 30 BC significant spiritual movement had ground to a standstill.  Some have said, “God was silent, discouraged with the Jewish people and ready for a change.” Others think God threw up His hands in exasperation and said, “Oy vey!”

An awakening was on its way!

What would break this demonic, dark cycle? There were rumors about a man named John who lived in the wilderness eating only what God provided for him naturally.  He was seen from time to time, but no one knew much about him.   There was also Jesus of Nazareth, an obscure carpenter’s son, who was drawn out into the wilderness for 40 days of fasting and prayer.   During these 40 days of fasting and prayer, Jesus of Nazareth encountered a spiritual battle with the Evil One and overcame a flurry of temptations (Matthew 4:1-11).  Both John and Jesus of Nazareth were individuals who practiced a deeper level of prayer and dependence on God – the underlying force behind what they did or said publicly. 

A relationship of communion with the True and Living God is what enabled Jesus the Christ and John the Baptizer to speak with authority and conviction.  Satan’s control over the region, causing spiritual blindness and oppression would be broken by two messengers of ‘God’s truth, light and presence’. 

Action and Power Released

Coming down from a high mountain where Jesus was in prayer with several of his disciples – he encountered a large crowd in an argument (the account Mark 9:14-29).  Jesus quickly learned the argument surrounded a young boy with an evil spirit.  The disciples who had stayed behind were unsuccessful in casting the spirit out of the boy and the Jewish religious leaders who were present –seized the moment to create a scene, via an argument. 

Jesus wasted no time, identified the spirit as ‘a deaf and mute spirit’ and cast it out of the boy.  When his disciples asked him privately, why they were unable to cast the spirit out, Jesus said, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29 NKJV).”  Some accounts omit the word fasting.  Prayer and faith were essential (Matthew 17:19-21).  Jesus temptation in the wilderness highlights the spiritual benefits of fasting and prayer.  This spiritual discipline is a valuable means of internal spiritual preparation for what is to come – a sharpening of our spiritual vision and alertness to do spiritual battle more successfully.  Jesus employed it, why not us?

To come against the Evil One, or cast out his spirits, requires spiritual focus, anointing from God – and standing firmly in the authority of Jesus Christ.  Whenever possible it’s beneficial to call on Christian friends who are committed to intercession prayer to join with us spiritually in this warfare. Those who are close to a person who has demonic manifestations – are usually those who know the history, and serve as the advocate, bringing the person in need of deliverance.  Deliverance ministry is time consuming, hard work – not for the faint at heart.  It requires stamina, faith and spiritual sharpness. Evil spirits are as foul as anything we will ever encounter.

It is critical for the person on a destructive path to be personally motivated and hungry to change. The same applies when it comes to a person maintaining deliverance after evil spirits have been cast out.  They must be willing to renounce evil in every form and come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ!

Those who resist what is evil will quickly find that Jesus Christ is stronger than every spiritual being in the universe. Our job is to come under Jesus’ covering of protection. Evil spirits are subject to the authority of Jesus Christ!  “What honors God is using Jesus’ name reverently and appropriately.  We are called to ask for God’s blessings to splash-out to those around us.  We are also called to conduct spiritual warfare on behalf of others in faith – In Jesus’ Mighty Name!

Problems JP Encountered & Had

Coming off the streets, many JP had their fair share of baggage disguised or hidden that would eventually surface.  Some were infested with evil-spirits not renounced when the individual came to faith in Jesus Christ.  Numbers of JP had survived on the streets by pan-handling (begging for money, sometimes accompanied by elaborate hard-luck stories – mostly lies) and they were accustomed to asking for and expecting hand-outs.  Others held onto previous guru’s, occult books-beliefs or trinkets and bizarre philosophies they’d arrived at.  Most had dabbled in illicit free-sex practices, and a wide range of drugs to get high.  The majority had anti-authority issues, mistrust of government and the world system as a whole.  All this amounted to the types of baggage that accompanied JP into Christian ministries and houses.  

Most JP were a mess, needing more than a ‘tune-up’; we needed a complete over-haul – a cleansing from top to bottom!  It would be a process.  Some people thought coming to faith in Jesus Christ meant a full instantaneous deliverance of all sin and temptation for the rest of their earthly lives.  Not so in the real world!  Do a personal evaluation of your own experience for the truth.  Slip-sliding, set-backs, falling off the wagon, being drawn away from the faith, returning to one’s own vomit – and previous vices, occurred.  Individuals who thought absolutely every problem would vanish from their life – set themselves up for defeat when this didn’t match their experience.   

Aiding One Another

In mercy and compassion we were urged by the Holy Spirit to do what we could, with God’s help to aid those who had succumbed to being led away from the good work God had begun in them (Philippians 1:6).  We are not called  by God to be self -righteous, holier than thou, but rather one who comes alongside a person in need with humility.  We should endeavor to embrace the attitude of, “There but for the grace of God – go I” (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-19). “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also might be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1 NIV).

Intervention

My brothers (and sisters), if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sin (James 5:19-20 NIV).”

There is a time for intervention, for snatching someone from the fire, for getting involved in a difficult life-mess that is destroying a life or family.  Being willing to sacrifice time, resources, and personal comfort to rescue someone in crisis will arise. Getting involved and helping another in desperate need is very much a part of what God has called us to. At the same time we should be prayerful in our interaction with those in need.  We learned this as JP house leaders – many times over.

Wisdom –Eyes Open

Mercy and Compassion – so needed in our world!  The flip side of the coin is ‘wisdom’ when encountering pleas for help, or being thrust into an emergency intervention situation.  We need to keep our eyes open.  Sadly, our world has a growing populace of thieves and con-artists who run sophisticated scams to achieve their goals of obtaining other people’s money. A rule of thumb is to error on the side of mercy and compassion, but be cautious of scams and enabling.    

“Enabling” does not help someone in the long-run.  Dispensing life-changing communication that’s clear, asking someone to be accountable for their choices and decisions is not a lack of love and compassion. This type of ‘Tough-love’ is often life-altering – more so than repeatedly giving a crisis hand-out.  I like the phrase, ‘Giving a Hand-up’ which incorporates an individual’s willingness to begin to be responsible for their behavior and choices – to do their part.  Some people live in a perpetual state of drama and emergency crisis asking for financial help. They expect others to bail them out.  As our society has gradually moved away from a strong work ethic, many have embraced a welfare mentality and life-style of laziness, mooching, expecting to be cared for without lifting a finger to do their part through work.   

Street People, the Homeless & the Mentally Ill

Having recently had the opportunity to interact with homeless street-people on a regular basis over a number of months, I’ve found how they live and what they experience, to be tragic. Some are victims of life-circumstances beyond their control. Others have addictive habits and are wheeling and dealing to survive – using drugs and substances like speed, crack, meth, heroin, or alcohol.  Some become slaves in sex-trafficking, and many become targets for demons to indwell. 

Those who are mentally ill seem incapable of leading a normal life.  They have a difficult time managing SSI or Medicare monies they receive – often blowing through these monies in short-order, or are stolen from.  Being responsible is beyond most homeless people’s capability, or willingness to navigate, especially true for those with mental issues. Although life on the streets is dangerous, frequenting rescue missions and living from day to day, seems OK to those who don’t see an alternative. There are exceptions, among those who are able to work, learn life-skills and transition-out of living on the streets.  

The Greatest Need of Mentally Ill Homeless People Is:

To have a safe place to live, take their meds regularly, have access to counseling, medical care, life skills training and be on some type of schedule with supportive supervision.  The alternative for the mentally-ill of being vulnerable, a target of exploitation and daily facing life-threatening attacks on the streets– is the pits!  Thankfully, more ‘group homes’ and ‘converted small motels’ for the mentally-ill with services and supervision now exist to address a critical need.  For the mentally-ill homeless who are willing – this model of provision is a safe place to land.  Programs like these need to be funded and expanded – they are incredibly helpful.  Our national and state governments could and should be doing more to alleviate this social crisis.

Crisis in our Midst / When to Help / How to Navigate Guilt

How should parents, family members and friends of someone in ‘crisis’ respond?  If the situation is genuine and once in a ‘blue moon’, we should probably dive-in, doing what we are able – and help. If however, the plea for help has become a habit of ‘being in a financial crisis and begging for a bail-out’ – a different response may be in order.  Guilt rapidly becomes a factor.  We feel guilty for enabling, or the opposite of – not rescuing someone we love and care about.  What should be taken into consideration is; doling out money to a family member or friend who blows through money like water, or spends it to feed a bad-habit while refusing input or help – is not solving the problem.  Poor choices, laziness, inability to hold a job, mental issues, aggressive behavior and anger are often factors.  As family members and friends, we struggle with a response. 

The one crying for help may have honed their skills in family and friend manipulation to obtain what they want.  If an individual is mentally-ill, entering a ‘group home’ could be a viable option.  A violent past might disqualify them from some.  Taking mental-health meds regularly, along with a cooperative attitude is essential for those desirous of obtaining help.  Defensiveness, getting angry, refusing input are mechanisms of manipulation, sometimes survival – that postpone receiving help.   

Some individuals settle into a life on the streets, in jail, or in prison.  How sad for them and for those who care and love them. Having tried and done all we can do, there is a time to let-go and release a person, or situation into God’s hands and keep praying in faith.  Some individuals, who are destroying their lives, have been at it for some time.  Many hit rock-bottom numerous times before they are open to seeking help and change on someone else’s terms, or program rules.   

As difficult as it may be for a family member or good friend of a person who is ‘at risk” – rapidly destroying their life – the enabling cycle has to stop somewhere. A unified response by family members and friends to say “No” to ongoing pleas for money rescue, is often the best thing that can happen. Families and friends should expect anger, or a distancing response.  We should be prepared to absorb this rejection for a period of time.  This does not diminish our love and prayers for this person.  It gives both of us a break from an unhealthy cycle of enabling, or being the one enabled.  The person in crisis needs to sort through what they are willing to do on their part to get the kind of help that will extricate them from a destructive life.  

Iron that Sharpens Iron - A Godly Rebuke

Rebuking was sometimes misused in the JPM.  On other occasions it was needed to correct an ongoing pattern of behavior that was brazen and untouched by milder approaches and attempts to address a persistent problem.  Many JP came from a background of rebellious living, casting off parental guidance and any authority restraints.

Rebuke was a direct confrontation, similar to what most 19th- 20th century parents used with their kids.  A rebuke was to the point, straightforward and direct. It was delivered with verbal emphasis and or consequences equaling the poor behavior.  In nurturing terms it was best received when blended with love, acceptance and mercy afterwards.

“Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).”

Rebuking a Christian Friend

A firm approach i.e. rebuke in a ministry setting was intended to get an individual’s hearing and attention. The goal of giving a rebuke was to serve as a wakeup call, enlisting self-evaluation as the desirable outcome for the brazen, defiant, oblivious, free-spirited or unteachable.  When a rebuke was delivered the goal was to call forth a different behavior – not wound or condemn someone to the point of despair.

With a tinge of reluctance I share an account of when I and another brother gave a rebuke to one of our residents at Beulah Hill Christian house. This event could have had positive or negative results.  Any parent, leader, boss, teacher, coach, or pastor who rebukes harshly in anger can leave a permanent negative scar and memory.  A Godly rebuke can be different. The difference between the two is sometimes gray.  I’m sure I was guilty of being too harsh on a number of occasions. For this I repent to anyone I wounded.

The following is an example of a hearer who put things in perspective and received a rebuke to his benefit.  “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise (Proverbs 15:31).”  The ‘life-giving’ emphasis of this verse, admonishes all who rebuke, or correct someone to be cautious to make sure we are doing so in a life-giving way – rather than a rebuke which could cripple and wound.    

A Time to Speak-Up

‘Elisha’ aka Ben Day was a Christian man in our ministry who had his own history and baggage. We didn’t know he’d spent 10 years in a hyper-controlling dysfunctional ministry sect.  He was leery of being controlled again – which made him appear uncooperative to house ministry rules. A second issue to be discussed was, ‘spiritual pride’.  We later found out Ben had been taught by a leader in the sect he’d been a part of – that their group was more spiritual than other Christians.  Having seen Ben use spiritual jargon to dodge accountability on occasion was going against house rules.  Doing as he pleased, being led by the Spirit – gave us two areas to address; rebellion and spiritual pride.  The rebuke of Elisha aka Ben was emphatic, firm and sharp. 

Ben recalls, “I refrained from an angry response – but was mad.  The desire to be spiritual in this confrontational moment – helped me to do so.  After a day or so of mulling things over, I concluded God was speaking to me about ‘spiritual pride’ and making more of an effort to be cooperative to house rules without reacting.  I was committed to learning. We have a saying in the south, ‘If you want to get the attention of a mule – you need to hit him on the head with a 2x4!’  I was a bit like a mule. Thankfully it worked and God got my attention.”

Ben made these words from the Scriptures come alive.  Proverbs 19:25b says, “Rebuke a discerning man and he will gain knowledge.”  

What followed was a lifetime friendship between the Ben and I.  I have been just like Ben many times. If it wasn’t a Christian who rebuked me, it was the Lord directly. I got the message and did my best to make the adjustments needed.  Every branch or vine in God’s kingdom which belongs to him – gets pruned (John 15)!  Nobody escapes if they belong to God.

Living it Out

It’s an honor to introduce a JP couple who are among those I’ve stayed in touch with; visited with by phone, in person and through correspondence since the time of the Jesus Movement in the UK in the early 1970’s.   The pair is Ben & Rosalind Day.  You’ll recall Ben is the man who was the recipient of the rebuke.  He applied himself to being real, more accountable and took the matter to God in prayer.  He grew up in the faith through years of faithful commitment to God and spiritual formation through a number of mentors and study of the Word of God.  

The first memories I have of Ben surround his appearance of having hair below his waist and a distinguishable gift of being able to speak Spanish fluently with a USA southern twang. The combination stood out to me as did his love for Jesus Christ and commitment to making Him known to others. Ben is genuinely likeable and friendly. He and his lovely wife Rosalind are an example of some of the wonderful fruit that was infused by the Jesus People movement.  Others added to Ben’s spiritual formation – alongside the wise commitment he and Rosalind made, to present themselves before God on a regular basis.

A Marriage that God Blessed - Ben & Rosalind Palmer Day

Ben’s Family & Early Years

Ben Day was born in Baltimore, Maryland. His parents were from Harlan, Kentucky where his dad worked in the coal mines and later was an itinerant worker. He remembers his early upbringing in this way:

“My first memory is that of my mother singing “Yes Jesus loves me,” but I don’t remember that part. What I remember is, “Little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong.” She lovingly explained that God was a Spirit and that He was with me even though I could not see Him. He was there to watch over and protect me from harm and danger. I never had childhood fears of anything.  Imagination is a wonderful thing and children have an inherent capability of understanding spiritual things. As our imagination is squelched with pragmatic things we can lose sight of this gift. This is why visionaries are fewer today; with cultural norms urging us toward safe choices inside the parameters of our particular societal cookie-cutter box.

I never felt like I fit into a fixed mold – and disagreed with some denominational doctrines I was exposed to while growing up. I wouldn’t say that I was rebellious per se, but I couldn’t see myself as ‘A wretched old sinner saved by grace, in need of getting saved again weekly, or monthly – because of my backsliding ways.’ From my perspective, my salvation experience was more like a permanent adoption – flaws and all.  I was different, and ok with it.

My mother’s spiritual background was holiness, Wesleyan, Pentecostal / Armenian.  This is what she passed on to me, without knowing who or what they were; she had experienced the reality of conversion to Christ through the coming of the Holy Spirit.

When did my experience move from believing God as protector and keeper to accepting Christ as Savior?  I don’t know.  Not many babies remember coming down the birth canal, but they know they were born because they are alive and they have a birth certificate to authenticate this reality.  My proof of salvation is the Word of God and the fruit that is manifested in and through my life.

A Call From God

I remember being called to go and preach. It was simple, not dramatic, I was 15 years old. I read in Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone.”  This verse and the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 would change my life forever.

This call thrust me into mission work in México, Central America, Colombia, Haiti and a number of Caribbean Islands where I encountered Castro’s communist influence. I visited a number of states in the continental USA and was afforded the opportunity to minister in Miami, Florida and in New York City where I saw miracles that would parallel those in the book of Acts.  My ministry focus in these settings was primarily children’s ministry and outreach of sharing the Gospel.   

I was accused of being a Jesus freak, looking and talking the part.  This was before I met anyone from the JP movement.  My first contact with JP was in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma when I met ‘Christ is the Answer’ tent ministry founded by Bill Lowery. It seemed a good spiritual fit. I witnessed on the streets with them and returned to the tent at night with the people that we had invited to hear an evangelistic message given by Bill Lowery and his disciples. While among this JP group, they told me about Jim Palosaari and the Jesus Family in England.  

My adventures of following Jesus eventually carried me to Europe. I was in Berlin before the walls came down. Witnessing this monumental historical event helped me be assured, “All things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27b). I was single back then and very much a Jesus freak.  I encountered the Jesus Family in London while witnessing on the streets where they too were conducting outreach.  I received a cordial invitation to work with them and did. My fondest memories are distributing copies of the Christian magazine “Everyman” on the streets of London and sharing the Gospel of Christ.  I was in my element. On occasions there were culture clashes, but on the whole the British people were very accepting of my ways and I tried to understand theirs.

My spiritual music exposure was ‘churchy’.  I was pleasantly surprised with the music of The Sheep, Larry Norman, Don Francisco, Barry McGuire and others that brought freshness to Christian outreach and worship music. 

In London I saw the production of Lonesome Stone.  It seemed to be a good outreach tool – but not relevant to me. Having never been to San Francisco, the story didn’t touch my world.  After I met some of the Jesus Family cast members and heard their testimonies I could better understand and rejoice with them in their victory over their past and how they’d come to faith in Jesus Christ.

The Jesus Family was a very appropriate name.  I met young men and women that I consider friends and family to this day. I also met my future wife Rosalind Palmer at the Jesus Family Beulah Hill house in Upper Norwood, London.  I was engaged to her and we married in Watford, England in 1974.  Shortly after we married, Rosalind and I returned to Ohio, USA for some 9 months to spend time with my family. 

On invitation we returned to England to conduct ministry in the Manchester area.  Rosalind and I worked in Stockport, England as housefather and mother to a group of young men and women whose lives were being changed through discipleship.  Part of this ministry took place at the ‘Old Rectory’ provided for follow-up ministry for many youth who’d received Christ through the outreach of Lonesome Stone and the Mighty Flyers ministry.  We also worked with David Reese leader of the “Mighty Flyers” band.  I gladly served as their chauffer; roadie, evangelist, or in whatever capacity they needed help.   

Pastoral Ministry

Pastoral ministry followed –a calling I have been engaged in for many years now.  I received ordination as a minister in the Spanish Eastern District of the Assemblies of God.  I accepted pastorate and ministry positions over the years.  I currently pastor two churches in the United Methodist Church.  One is English speaking and the other is a Spanish speaking congregation, with unique challenges.

I’m thankful I learned and began speaking Spanish as a kid, incorporating it in Christian ministry and missions as I grew older.  Becoming fluent in Spanish opened many doors and opportunities.  Through a divine appointment I was able to teach English and Spanish in a Government/State sanctioned institute, "Tennessee Foreign Language Institute."  I also was invited to assist a certified teacher at Motlow State College which required a master’s level education.  Due to my high level of competency in Spanish I was brought onboard; teaching and writing curriculum and tests for students. 

People that are around me know that I am not a “church as usual person, or pastor.”  I want to make a difference in the community, inside and outside the walls of the church. I endeavor to be a Barnabas type by encouraging and assisting others in finding and getting launched in their God-given calling.  

Our Family

Rosalind and I have been married for 40 years now.  We have 2 sons and 5 grandchildren. Our sons are Chris and Daniel. In High School our boys were called ‘Jesus Freaks’—a title both boys had in their high school yearbooks.  One of our sons is a church planter in Wilmington, Delaware and the other a very dedicated teacher and musician in a local church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Our Grandchildren are: David, Ginny Ruth, Mikayla, Johnny and Eliana Grace.

Vision for the Future             

God spoke to my heart three years ago and asked me to start over in ministry.  Knowing what I know now, this is very exciting – as it causes me to believe that there are many more years of ministry in my future.  I’ve seen that God moves in cycles. There have been many moves, or movements of God’s Spirit in the past.  The Great Awakenings, the healing movement, charismatic movement, Jesus movement and word of faith movement.  I believe God is presently calling his church to renewal through discipleship and spiritual formation.

Education:

Undergrad Degree: Mid-America Christian University
Currently enrolled in: United Theological Seminary in a Master of Divinity program. – Ben Day

Stockport House - Jesus Family / Rosalind Day

The Sweet Steadiness of Ongoing Faithful Ministry - In Jesus’ Wonderful Name!

“After Ben and I married in June of 1974 we moved to Ohio for 9 months. While there we were invited by the Jesus Family in Manchester, to return to England to live and work with them. We decided to do so and said “goodbye” to Ben’s family in Ohio and returned to the UK.  For the first few weeks we spent time with my family before heading north by train.

We arrived in Manchester in early 1975. At that time the Jesus Family had 3 houses; one in Crumpsall, a second in Rochdale, and another in Stockport. We stayed for a few days at the house in Crumpsall before we were asked to help at the Rochdale house.  The Elders of the Jesus Family ministry in Manchester were David Reese, Nick Stone, Nick Brotherwood and Martin Evans.

Nick and Glenny Stone were over the house in Rochdale and several young people lived at this house. We helped with anything that needed doing.  I recall, Nick worked closely with a local church and held Bible Studies at the church for new and young believers.

They Mighty Flyers band held concerts throughout the area and some of the people that came to live in the houses were saved through their ministry.  After a season at the Rochdale House we were asked to assist the JP Crumpsall house. We stayed in a small camper trailer parked in the front yard.
We took teams out on the streets of Manchester witnessing.   We had a storefront where we prepared meals for everyone and met to pray for the teams going out. 

From assisting at the Crumpsall house we were given the responsibility of being house-parents at the Stockport ministry house. Most of the time there were 7-8 young people living at the Old Rectory with various problems. One young girl who’d become pregnant previously – received the Lord and she was moved to Stockport after delivering her baby.  Most of the kids at the house worked day jobs.  Ben also secured work with the City of Manchester.

My job was taking care of the home, cleaning, shopping, cooking and doing the laundry. Eventually, our young residents absorbed the chore of doing their own laundry.  Depending on the population and needs of the various JP houses, we did some shuffling of staff.  It was decided that Nick and Glenny and their two children would join us at the Stockport ministry house.   I was soooo- glad to have another woman there to help. Shortly after, I went to work at a Book Store the Jesus Family ran. 

In Stockport we held Bible studies with the kids and we traveled to Crumpsall house for Sunday morning worship services.  We would stay the whole day; eat together, go for walks, watch football (soccer) and return home. The countryside in the North of England is so beautiful. I loved it there.  Some of our resident kids had difficult problems – but it was an honor to be a light to them and a part of their discipling team. 

I loved being part of the Jesus Family. It did have its challenges, but I loved the feeling of belonging and closeness of fellowship.  After about a year in the Stockport ministry house we started thinking about returning to the USA. We spoke with the elders about it and they agreed that we could start looking for a flat, which we did. We lived in a tiny flat in Chorlton for about a year and saved money to return to the U.S.

We still participated in worship and activities of the Jesus Family and it was hard to leave the relationships we’d established.  I was expecting our oldest son Chris at the time of our move.  We made a pit-stop to see my family and flew on to the USA.  It was the spring of 1978 when we settled in Tennessee and Chris was born in August of the same year.

All along the way, we’ve been on a continuing, exciting, never dull journey of following Jesus.” – Rosalind Day  

Rosalind attended Victoria Secondary School for Girls in Watford, UK. As a teenager – into her early twenties she was employed in the workforce, including a clerical position in Manchester, England.  After marrying she served with her husband as counselors and house-parents for at risk teens in the Jesus Family houses in greater Manchester, England.  Back in the USA she was a stay at home Mom raising her two boys while assisting her husband in pastoral ministry.  As the boys grew, Rosalind secured employment and a service opportunity at Lazarus House Hospice in Cookeville, Tennessee where she was actively involved for 15 years.  She is still the faithful helpmate for Ben as he continues to be active in Christian ministry

Well-Being and Last Things – Dave Hoyt

I continued checking in with the British doctor I was assigned and felt good about it.  My rash began to subside but didn’t leave entirely.  I was taking better care of myself, but was not my usual self ministry- wise.  Wired to be a doer – it’s awkward when this isn’t happening.  

GREENBELT IN THE MAKING

Sensing this Jim P. gave me an assignment of meeting with James Holloway down in Suffolk County to view the purposed venue site for a Christian music festival. I was asked to brainstorm with James on behalf of Jim and Deo Gloria Trust – on the myriad of practical details surrounding conducting a multiple –day outdoor music celebration and teaching event.

Ideas had intersected with the practical realities of such a large undertaking.  At this stage the Greenbelt of Suffolk County was decided on because of overall better weather (sunshine) and a beautiful scenic setting.  In our favor, James was well established in the community as a farmer, home owner, Christian musician and band member.

I remember the early morning train ride which turned into several hours each way with a number of connecting stops.   James met me at the train station and carted me off to the purposed venue site for the music festival.  First on our agenda was deciding on where the overhead power lines would be run above a relatively busy country road. The desired service location for the venue was hammered out – but would need to be confirmed and sorted out with the electric power company.    

We also discussed other logistics, including:  What permits would be needed?  Who would contact the electric company well in advance to insure new lines could be run and service available for our scheduled event?  What health and safety issues needed to be addressed and solved in advance?  Who would provide first aid?  What types of food vendors would service the event?  How would running water, wash-up areas and showers be set-up and made available?  Who would provide rubbish removal and portable sanitation toilets for the event?  Our list grew. Action and delegation was incorporated into our discussion.    

Many details needed to fall into place before the festival could become a reality.  Representing Jim and Deo Gloria – this first meeting was a good beginning.  Deo Gloria Trust had already made a commitment to help foot the bill and aid James Holloway and the other festival organizers in whatever way they could.  The Trust could be counted on to handle a variety of details.  James and Jim were men of action.  Between the three, they had plenty of contacts throughout England to get the word out and invite bands and speakers for this new celebration, outreach and discipling event. What started back then, became for many years the largest Christian music festival in the world – The Greenbelt Christian Music Festival.   To God be the Glory.

Lonesome Stone continued touring England, The Sheep and a growing number of Christian British Bands played at Greenbelt Festival.  God was at work.  In time Lonesome Stone would return to the USA for a tour.  In our next article Trevor Allan will give us a first- hand account of Lonesome Stone stateside. 

Preparation to Return to the USA

At peace about making a change, I made the decision to return to the USA with an offer to house-sit a property in Long Island, New York. This seemed like a good beginning step in reestablishing stateside while looking for work.  I’d met the owners of this property at a press conference on the Children of God cult in London.  They’d lost a daughter into the COG who was still missing.  During the press conference period, we’d shared several meals together and struck-up a supportive friendship of mutual empathy and prayer.  Their names were Mr. & Mrs. John Moody. 

Via correspondence I learned they spent a majority of the year living in Texas on a ranch and occasionally lived at their second home in Manhasset, Long Island, NY since their two children were older.  Mr. Moody was moving toward retirement with Mobile Oil.  His offices were in NYC where he also had an apartment.

My lodging would be provided rent-free in exchange for yard-work and home care.  They liked the idea of having someone in the home for security purposes. The agreement would also include lawn mowing, watering, fall and spring yard-landscaping maintenance.   I was mulling over the offer – but it seemed promising.  I enjoyed physical work and knew I could handle the exchange.

I wasn’t ready to return to California with all that had happened with the COG fiasco in the southern USA.  Facing old friends in California along with my wife’s parents and family seemed overwhelming.  The fate of my wife and three children in the COG was constant; a backburner heartache.  A lot was up in the air.  It was going to take time . . . 

A special thanks to Ben & Rosalind Day for sharing their writing contributions and ongoing life of service to others in Jesus Christ’s  precious Name. To God be Praise!

To Be Continued

Take A Little Time

There is a time to STOP the tyranny of seeking to achieve, succeed, make money, acquire power, position and prestige, or obtain more material things.  It’s healthy to step back from the press of life, work, deadlines, duty, noise and entertainment, obligations we or others have delegated to us and push the PAUSE BUTTON.   Try answering these two questions:  “What would Jesus be doing if he were here today?” and “What does God want me to give my time and life-energy to?” 

Read previous installments in David Hoyt's
"Jesus Revolution" Series:

Part 1: Jesus People Days

Part 2: A Cry Rushed Upward to a Place Called Heaven

Part 3: Ripe for Change and Heart Revolution

Part 4: Recollections of My Search for Truth

Part 5: My Search - A Prelude to Finding God

Part 6: A Search for God Unraveling

Part 7: An Appointment with God

Part 8: Launched into a New Life

Part 9: A Steep Learning Curve

Part 10: God - An Incredible Teacher

Part 11: Lancaster - A Desert Call

Part 12: Back in the City - San Francisco

Part 13: The SF Bay Area Jesus People Movement - Episode One

Part 14: The SF Bay Area Jesus People Movement - Episode Two

Part 15: Mission in Our Blood

Part 16: Crossroads

Part 17: Our Decision - Their Agenda

Part 18: Over My Head

Part 19: Dark Night of the Soul

Part 20: Spiritual Life Bursting Forth

Part 21: The Origins of a New Christian Multi-Media Theatrical Show

Part 22: The Adventure of Following in Jesus' Steps

Part 23: Jesus’ Model of Openness Inspires

Part 24: Occupy Territory - Release Control


Dave Hoyt and his wife Ginny reside in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He grew up a troubled teen in Los Angeles. In 1966 he moved to San Francisco’s ‘Haight District’ seeking truth and God. Reaching a crisis of belief in Eastern Religions – he turned to prayer and came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. He went on to be an early participant in the Jesus People Movement in the USA and Europe. He continues as a follower of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

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Last Update: 2017-07-24 19:01