Mission, Discipleship and Fellowship: Life Reproducing Life

Last Friday was a holiday here in the United States, and Marianne and I opened our home, yard and pool for a day of family, friends and fellowship.

plantingFortunately, following my heart operation and extended hospital stay two weeks ago, several brothers in a couple of fellowships we relate to stepped forward and organized things – including a great cookout.

Afterwards, Marianne and I both said that this was one of the nicest days we’ve had in years – not because the past few years have been bad (they’ve been challenging due to some of my health issues, but not “bad”!), but because we’re seeing solid maturity arise among those we’ve been pouring our lives into.

Although we’ve always loved them deeply, now it’s actually fun to spend time with them!

In addition, we now have the profound pleasure of watching them reproduce their life in Christ among others.

As they step forward and do the work of mission, discipleship and strengthening our various fellowships, it seems more and more that God’s role for Marianne and me is to step back and serve through simple hospitality, unassuming encouragement and quiet mentoring.

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Felicity Dale, Hypocrisy and Power

Author and “simple church” advocate Felicity Dale over at House2House Ministries is personally charming, and I generally agree with her views regarding simple church and gender equality within the Body of Christ.

But my own experience with her over the last year has been very troubling – especially when it comes to the contradiction between her public positions and private actions.

Sex abuse and cover up: C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries, Frank Viola and his band of "apostolic workers", Bill Gothard and his Institute of Basic Life Principles... When will we ever learn?

Felicity Dale: Do as I say, not as I do.

Felicity Dale is part of the self-appointed accountability team of Frank Viola, who is an author, an itinerant church leader and one of her fellow so-called “apostolic workers”. He also has a troubled history of sexual predation against young women and teenagers.

After Frank Viola rebuffed all efforts to communicate directly with him by those with detailed knowledge of the facts, some of us contacted Felicity Dale last year in an effort to resolve our growing concerns about Frank Viola’s history of abuse.

She also was given a lengthy private statement on behalf of one of Frank Viola’s multiple teenage victims, with details about how he abused that young woman and others.

That victim’s statement fully confirmed the separate warnings issued against Frank Viola by his former church. Among other things, his past church established through multiple witnesses and documents his pattern of predation and abuse – including his long-running exploitation of a teenager in that church who was half his age and a former high school student of his.

This new written statement, however, involved an additional teenage victim.

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The Gospel, Up Straight and Direct

Today I was with a group of men in the jail. One of them was very troubled because his son was getting into all kinds of trouble. He couldn’t understand why, because (he claimed) he loved his son and was always telling him he loved him.

repentanceI felt something stir in my spirit, looked him straight in the eye, and said that was a lie. He didn’t love his son, he loved his drugs more – and thus had not cared enough to be part of his son’s life as his son was growing up. This deeply wounded his son, who felt unloved and worthless because of it – and was now acting out.

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Bart Breen and Frank Viola – An Update

Bart Breen and Frank Viola: Lies, Sexual Abuse and Cover Up

Bart Breen

Bart Breen

After remaining quiet for over a year, it is time to expose – and name names – the ongoing campaign by Frank Viola and his fellow self-appointed “apostolic workers” at House2House Ministries as they use proxies like Bart Breen to attack and try to silence victims of their abuse and cover up.

In this exposé, I update an earlier blog to address what’s been going on – both publicly and behind the scenes – over the last year as they desperately try muzzle the truth at the expense of their victims, rather than openly confess and repent.

Their “Beyond” cult has run its course. It is now time for men and women of good will to speak up and confront their lies, abuse and cover up.

Celebrating Redemption

graduationThis afternoon, I’m driving to Richmond, Virginia, to attend the graduation of a young man I first met in jail years ago. He’s receiving his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, with honors, from Virginia Commonwealth University. From jail to now has been an intense journey as Marianne and I stood with him during the hard times and refused to let him fall through the cracks. Now, we get to rejoice with him as he achieves this major milestone.

Following God’s Presence is something I wrote five years ago about him, and the church he was part of in the jail. In fact, he’s one of the brothers who asked to pray for me, as I recount in that piece.

I’m not going to use his name, because he is very humble and doesn’t like publicity. But you know who you are, and I am so very, very proud of you! Even as I write this, I’m tearing up thinking about the honor it’s been to be part of God’s plan of redemption and restoration in your life.

~ Jim Wright

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Hospitality and the Kingdom of God

Playing Chicken Feet

 
Yesterday, like we often do, we had family and friends – some old, some new – over for supper and fellowship. Marianne cooked the main dish, I put on a big pot of coffee, and they brought everything else.

Because it was Easter, we opened our home to folks who didn’t have family in the area and invited them to spend the day with our family. They included guys from several fellowships we’re linked to, and some not in any church.

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My Bible Prophecy Secret Decoder Ring

My Secret Decoder Ring

My Secret Decoder Ring

Unfortunately, I lost my John Hagee “Bible Prophecy Secret Decoder Ring”, so I was unable to determine the true meaning of last night’s “blood moon” before I went to bed.

Within nothing more to do, I decided I might as well get a good night’s sleep, wake up in the morning, and get on with my life – just like normal.

Now that it’s morning, I see that the world’s still here – with its normal complement of good news and bad news.

What a bummer. I was hoping for something more exciting, given all the hype.

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Dopeless Hope Fiends

While visiting one of our indigenous fellowships in the local jail yesterday, a brother blew me away with this comment:

“On the outside, we were hopeless dope fiends. In jail, God is turning us into dopeless hope fiends.”

I liked that, and love how God brings hope to the hopeless.

~ Jim Wright

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Recovery Homes

Several of our fellowships want to open additional recovery homes in the county for those putting their lives back together following abuse, imprisonment, addiction, economic distress or other major disruption. Over the last several years, we have teamed up with another ministry to support this local need, but its focus is only on addiction – which is very much needed. However, we also need similar homes for those dealing with other issues.

Our desire is to create transitional, peer recovery homes where there is functional, Christ-centered community within each house. This would involve mutual support, encouragement and accountability among the residents – with appropriate outside support and oversight.

Our experiences to date have confirmed that such a focus is essential for real change to occur among those in each home. Otherwise, the houses become little more than a warehouse for knuckleheads, and become a detriment rather than an asset for those seeking to put their lives back together.

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Phony Apostles and Real Elders

PhoneyThe next time you are tempted to fall under the influence of some author, blogger or other self-anointed “itinerant” authority on “being the church”, ask first if they have a history of personally being – on a sustained basis – part of the kind of church they promote.

For example, here in the U.S., the number of phonies pontificating on all things organic and missional in various books, blogs, social media posts and conferences is astounding. They talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.

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Year in Review

Here’s a montage of my twenty most significant posts on Facebook in 2013.

When Facebook created it, it brought many smiles and a few cringes:

My 2013 Year in Review

Feel free to take a look.

As this montage shows, it has been a wonderful, yet “interesting”, year.

I think my biggest struggle was seeing the power games, leadership abuses, lies and cover ups in the organic/simple church community at the national level – which far exceed anything I’ve ever witnessed in the traditional, “institutional” church – while still holding firm, despite their hypocrisy, to some related core principles.

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Organic Cults and So-Called “Apostolic Workers”

T.A.C.O.s Anyone? By Roger E. Olson

This article provides a sober warning by Dr. Olson that increasingly applies, unfortunately, to certain segments of the so-called “organic” or “simple” church community here in the West – which have come under the influence of so-called “apostolic workers” and their books, blogs and magazines.

house2house

Self-Proclaimed “Apostles”

Often, when you find an evangelical cult, you don’t have scratch very deep to find some self-professed “apostle” just below the surface.

Unfortunately, the “apostolic workers” now peddling their influence, books and conferences in the organic/simple church community – like we’ve seen with other so-called and often dead-end “new apostolic reformation” movements – are self-appointed, self-proclaimed and unaccountable (except to other “apostolic workers” who are part of their own mutual promotion network).

They also have been aggressively seeking to silence – through threats and slander – all who dare mention the history of sexual predation, abuse and coverup among them.

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Everyone Loves…

 

Everyone loves the poor, until asked to share a meal in their home with one.

Everyone loves mercy, until they have to embrace the actual mess of inconvenient victims.

Everyone loves justice, until it disturbs their comfort zones.

 

Everyone loves the prophetic, until it exposes sin among them.

Everyone loves grace, until it calls them to repent.

Everyone loves love, until it speaks truth.

 

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A Simple Cure for a Terminal Condition

Is it any wonder that a generation raised to believe it’s all about them has a hard time grasping that it’s all about God?snake-oil-salesman

They are easy prey for those peddling God’s amazing grace, love and acceptance, while rejecting repentance, truth and change.

The greatest deceptions, however, involve half truths.

Unfortunately, there’s just too much of this going around these days, and it’s terminal when it comes to healthy believers and healthy ekklesia.

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Making Sexual Abuse by Church Leaders Illegal

Sign A Petition to Change Virginia’s Fiduciary Code & Criminal Statutes to Include Clergy:

A ministry Marianne and I are part of, through our churches, is Nathan’s Voice. It has helped many victims of sexual abuse by church leaders, and hardly a week goes by that we are not assisting or counseling yet another survivor – both men and women.

PhoneyThis is a widespread problem, involving leaders in the church who use their position of trust to sexually prey upon men and women seeking their help.

It effects all kinds of churches, from highly structured traditional churches to loosely organized organic fellowships – and all kinds of church leaders, from local “pastors” to so-called apostolic “workers”.

Most people are surprised to learn that in the United States, this is not illegal in most jurisdictions unless it involves some other misconduct – such as a direct physical assault, a minor, or maybe employment discrimination (i.e., sexual harassment in the workplace against an employee of the church).

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