© Fellowship at Cross Creek
Looking Backward to See Forward: Coincidence or Inspiration? Part I…
Beginning in January, 2010, and continuing on through the Fall of 2011, here are, but 43 of, the many possible evidences of God’s providential inspiration in bringing Joe and Fellowship to a special place of purpose: teaching others how to Sustainably Love.
Part I (Evidences: 1-15)…A Spiritual Toolbox; a Granddaughter’s smile; Pure Joy; the Easter Season; Counter-intuitive Bridge-building; Just One More Thing; Is God the God of our City?; an 18-month Renewal of Commitment; the incredible Moravian Pentecost and God’s Provision.
1) As Joe encourages his former college friend Jan C. to write her story of her breast cancer survival, she asks, What have you been writing? (Jan-Feb. 2010).
2) So Joe begins putting together a partial summary of what he has been teaching these past 25 years at Fellowship. Ultimately, this reflecting morphs and expands into more than just Accountable Love skills, but also skills involving finding and experiencing true joy, truth, community, change and influence–a Spiritual Survivor’s Toolbox, so to speak, containing 150 proven biblical skills, or tools, required for successful spiritual living.
3) In the midst of a difficult business year, Mike J. awakens one morning to his granddaughter’s beautiful smile and thinks, “Pure Joy.” Later that day, he connects his reaction to her smile with James’ admonition of how we are to view our all various trials…with “pure joy” (James 1). He emails this insight to Joe. (March 2010).
4) Inspired by what Mike J. has shared with him, in preparation for the 2010 Easter season, Joe decides to begin a study of Christ’s life, beginning with his repeated counter-intuitive prayer in the Garden before his arrest, trial and crucifixion: “Father, not my will, but yours be done.”
5) In order to demonstrate how this and other passages (including Christ’s commissioning of his disciples to take his story of redemption and forgiveness into all the world) practically applies to our lives, Joe employs the metaphor of bridge building. He then develops the art of building or converting scripture passages into step-by-step tools or bridges to successful Christian living.
6) Employing the survival leadership principle, Just One More Thing, from the life of Gen. Hal Moore (the inspiration for the popular book and movie, We Were Soldiers Once and Young, starring Mel Gibson), Joe begins to religiously use this principle himself, as well as, exhorting the Body to simplify their crisis decision-making, by simply making a series of “Just One More Thing” decisions.
7) While on her 11-month around the world missions adventure, Jeanne Bensch uploads a video of her group taking over a bar in Phuket, Thailand, so they can sing praise songs. This mirrors the experience of Aaron Boyd, composer of the popular praise song, God of this City (May).
8) Along with another video of a 24/7 prayer ministry to the island tourist community of Ibiza, Spain, Joe is led to explore the origins of both: 1) the phrase the Great Commission (Matt. 28) and 2) the 24/7 prayer movement. In addition, 3) Joe asks, is God the God of our City? And if so, 4) How do we build a counter-intuitive bridge back to our community?
9) Joe then stumbles across an article which suggests that a 1600s repentant prodigal royalty, turned-early counter-intuitive solo Protestant missionary to South America, named Baron von Welz, is the first to describe Jesus’ evangelistic exhortation to his disciples to take his story to the ends of the planet as… the Great Commission. Like many of Christ’s apostles, von Welz pays the ultimate price when after two years of service in Suriname, he is never heard from again.
10) This leads to another article, describing the early history of Protestant missions. Indeed, coming out of the corrupt Catholic church at the time, Protestant Reformers were not much interested in missions (as the Catholics, through their religious orders, were), but rather assumed God or the king would evangelize the heathen.
11) This also leads to the discovery of the founders of the 24/7 prayer movement—a small community of Christians living together in eastern Germany in the 1700s, called the Moravians. Their leader was the charismatic and spiritually-pietistic Count N. von Zinzendorf. As an act of spiritual warfare in order to protect a recent indwelling by God’s Spirit, called the Moravian Pentecost, this small village of Christians dedicates itself to praying around the clock in shifts. Their 24/7 prayer vigil will last for over a hundred years.
12) Empowered by prayer, this small village of Christians will sacrificially end up supplying half of all the world’s Protestant missionaries for the next century and half.
13) Falling, further and further behind in pay, and perhaps, fearing this might be the end of his almost 25-year tenure at Fellowship, Joe takes a page from Gen. Moore’s “Just One More Thing” playbook and: 1) pens a full rough draft of Accountable Love. (May 2010).
14) Then: 2) feeling led by and trusting God, a) Joe forgives his unpaid back pay, b) cuts his salary significantly, c) makes a 18-month commitment to Fellowship, d) asks only to be paid, if and when the funds are there, e) though in smaller weekly checks and f) asks not to know the past week’s giving until the next Sunday in the Ministry Notes. If Fellowship gets in a financial bind, g) Cindy B. is to let the other elders know. Joe does not want any knowledge of Fellowship’s giving to compromise his joy of serving or his 18-month commitment to Fellowship (June 2010).
15) Amazingly, through several unpredictable sources, including Fellowship, God provides for both Joe and Fellowship. (July 2010).
(Up Next: Part II (Evidences: 16-24)…A Successful Surgery; The Church of “Diss-ed” Bridgebuilders; Discovering Passions; Building a Float and Serving the Community.)