JohnSWilson3 Blog

Synchroblog – Gospel for the Middle
July 9, 2012, 6:56 pm
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes

The following exercise is from the synchroblog at

Fielding Melish and his wife Felicia have two children, ages 10 and 6. They live in a very remote part of Maine, USA. They are surrounded by extended family, none of whom are Christians. The nearest churches are one hour away, and by all evangelical standards, none of them are good. These churches are either highly legalistic, highly libertine, or just flat-out flaky.

One of Fielding’s cousins is a practicing Christian. They see each other once a year. Fielding’s cousin has shared Christ with Fielding many times over the years. Whenever they’ve talked about spiritual things, Fielding shows interest.

Felicia grew up in a Christian home. She’s received Christ, but she isn’t evangelistic and is overwhelmed with working long hours and raising two small children. She would love to find a church nearby for the spiritual support and instruction, but none exist.

Fielding has no college education. While he is capable of reading, he is not a reader. He doesn’t use the Web either. He’s a man who works with his hands, both for his career and for recreation. He’s an “outdoorsman.” He hunts, he builds, he does manual labor, etc. In his spare time, he helps his elderly parents with various building projects.

Fielding is not an atheist. Neither is he an agnostic. He believes in God. He believes Jesus is the Savior of the world who died for our sins and rose again from the dead. He hasn’t fully surrendered his life to Christ, but he is not sure what that looks like exactly. His children know a little about the Lord, mostly because of what their mother has taught them.

Recently Fielding asked this question:

When I’m with my cousin once a year, I want to learn more about God. But when I come back home, and I’m around everyone else, my mind is off of God, and I am back to working, raising my kids, and helping my parents. Someone needs to come up with a solution for people like me . . . people who are in the middle. (By “in the middle,” Fielding means someone who believes in Jesus, but who isn’t fully absorbed in the faith yet either. They simply don’t know enough nor do they have any spiritual support system around them.)

Relocating is not an option for Fielding and his wife. Even if they wanted to relocate, they don’t see a way they could do it financially.

Remember: Fielding and his wife don’t personally know any Christians. None of their extended family or coworkers are believers either. And the nearest churches (which are an hour away) aren’t recommended.

Question: If you were Fielding’s cousin, how would you instruct him and his wife the next time you saw them?

Here is my answer to the question.

Hi Fielding, I have been asking Father what to tell you about the things that you and Felicia have shared with me. I have been praying for you and me and our families.

I know brother that you and Felicia have been searching for a church home, you have a heart for God and Felicia would love a place where you all can gather to learn more about Christ and receive “spiritual support and instruction.” I have a couple of suggestions that might be something to consider to help you out and the family together, if you are willing to accept them.

I have found some of Frank Viola’s audio podcasts very encouraging and think that you and Felicia might find that to be the same as well. The two of you could perhaps take some time together each week and listen to them and talk about what you think Jesus is telling you from them.

God so desires that when brothers and sisters come together they come together like a family. Wow, and we have so much family in this area, albeit our physical family. Perhaps at some of the family get togethers you might broach the subject of perhaps meeting from time to time, maybe each month or so and have a potluck to listen to Frank’s podcast and then talk about what you learned from it. (Here is the link:

I know this may not seem like church but really church is about family, eating together, helping each other, loving one another in practical ways, and sharing what we are learning about Jesus together and others. At least this is how the first brothers and sisters got together. Today church has gotten a bit complex, we can be the church in our homes or wherever we can get together. God likes to keep it simple, we make it difficult.

Brother, I know I only visit only once a year. I am praying about whether God would allow me and my family to move closer so we might get together more often.

So what do you think brother? What is God telling you about what I’ve shared?

Review of “The Torch and the Testimony” by John W. Kennedy
July 3, 2012, 1:33 am
Filed under: 2A - Book Reviews

I have actually had the book “The Torch of the Testimony” by John W. Kennedy for some time, ever since reading “Pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola and George Barna a couple years ago. I have also read quite a lot of books on church history but believe this by far is probably the most succinct and least biased that I have read. Too often as the saying goes “those who win the war writes the history.” Sadly when many of the gatherings of Christ’s people degenerated into a religion they tended to be the only writers since they attempted to exterminated those true gatherings of God of whom they disagreed with. But in this day and age God has raised up some truly excellent writers who not only have experienced and expressed the life of Christ but can write in humbleness of heart and share using history as a backdrop to look at the gathering of God’s people for the purpose God meant it to be and make some striking conclusions.

“The Torch and the Testimony” is a quick read, a book you really don’t want to put down! It does not follow most other history books that go into the sordid and horrible details of gossip, slander, murder, etc. He does though give some analysis to the reasons for such awful behavior but most importantly gives the precious journey of those who wanted to simply live life together from Acts to the present time looking at the key spiritual movements through history and the resulting conclusions. In his preface he writes: “The great need of the present day is not for more knowledge, theological or historical, but that what knowledge we have should be practically related to life.” This then is a key to understanding why Kennedy writes the way he does. Kennedy goes into sufficient detail into the major movements both ecclesiastical and spiritual throughout church history to give the reader a big picture of what happened from the time Christ came and indwelt His people with His life by His Spirit.

Throughout the book, based on what history shows us, some key principles are shown for how well a gathering of God’s people can endure the challenges of fellowship together and be a place Christ finds to rest His head. Perhaps the key principles that Kennedy notes are that “the ground of fellowship is possession of the life of Christ,” “the church is grounded solidly upon it’s relationship with Christ and looks to Him alone as its Head,” and that every member is a participant.

Kennedy also gives a warning on the key temptations for every local gathering (ekklesia) of Christ:

“The true church is the scene of a continual, spiritual struggle for its own existence…It is tempted to compromise with organized Christianity. It is tempted to organize itself in order to conserve what it has gained. It is tempted to sectarianism by limiting its growth to a certain emphasis of Christian truth. When it succumbs to any of these temptations, declension follows, for progress has been limited, and when it has reached the end of its possible progress, it must fade out as a spiritual power. This is the picture that history so graphically portrays, the picture of spiritual power followed by declension, but from every scene of declension God calls out His remnant.”

Throughout the difficulties of Christ finding a place of rest He has always had a remnant. You may be in a local gathering learning to center your life together on Christ alone as we are. By the way, we too still have much to learn. May you be comforted to know that you are not alone. May we fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith! These are some arresting words of exhortation by Kennedy to Christ’s people:

“Life reproduces life. The church is the embodiment of the life of Christ, and is not dependent upon particular leaders or institutions for maintaining its existence. Where the vitality of the Spirit directed by God’s Word exists in those who are part of that body, the churches will extend and grow. No power of earth or hell can overcome them.”

May we simply gather together with Christ as Head living by Him, in so doing we will be over-comers and endure until the end.