John, to the Ekklesia at Anoka,
It has been my honor to serve as part of the group, Anoka Awakening.
The year 2020 was turbulent in many ways, but through them all, God was faithful. Almighty God was with us every step of the way guiding us through changes in our operations, refining us through pruning that we may produce greater fruit, comforting us in our trials, and faithfully, lovingly providing all that we needed, both physically and spiritually.
The year 2021 will undoubtedly have much of the same, concerning challenges and refinement. We should, however, be operating at a higher level, walking in greater faith. The ministry opportunities will be numerous, and we should experience great times of rejoicing in what the Lord has done, and will do, in our midst. While some may preach the darkness, I choose to focus on the light. The darkness may seem greater all around us, but this is due in part to the increased light as the Kingdom of Heaven invades our space through those who intimately walk with God in this world.
The line of demarcation between dark and light, evil and good, seems to grow clearer with the passage of time. Fence sitting is becoming increasingly difficult as people are being pressured to take a stand for or against the things of this world. Choices and decisions need to be made and positions are being established. While this may be good to enhance the ability to discern a matter quickly, it does have a dangerous pitfall. It creates an “us vs. them” paradigm that can inhibit ministry to others.
The evil one has done well this past year to pit person against person to distract us from combatting evil with good. Now more than ever we need to focus on overcoming evil with love; specifically, the love of God flowing through us. We cannot let the manifestation of demonic rage and wickedness distract us from loving the person and sharing the hope that is offered by the gospel and kingdom life.
Concerning the ministry of Anoka Awakening, the past years have been primarily reactionary in nature. While a few things have been accomplished in the city, we must be more proactive in the future to impact our community for the Kingdom of God. We will not do things just for the sake of activity in search of meaning, rather we will continue to only do things as led by the Lord. The difference will be the intention to persistently seek the Lord concerning His desires and His will rather than sitting back and waiting for someone to be inspired and seeing if any action will take place. We will ask, seek, and knock. We will discern the will of the Lord and then we will be doers and not hearers only.
Thus, the Ekklesia at Anoka is operational. We have explored ekklesia in prior Sunday Sessions with some excellent conversations. It has been interesting to see how this all tied back to the beginning of Sunday Sessions with the Living Stones and Building the Wall. Holy Spirit is Masterful at tying all this together when we pay attention and follow His plan. While we will still have Sunday Sessions on Sunday afternoons/evenings and Fire-Pit Worship on Thursday nights, we will also have Ekklesia on Tuesday nights.
- Fire-Pit Worship, Thursdays, 6:30 – 10:00 PM
- Corporate gathering to worship God
- Time for personal encounter and intimacy with God
- Opportunities to minister to one another
- Sunday Sessions, Sundays, 4:00 – 8:00 PM
- Fellowship gathering with a meal
- A short teaching on a topic
- A conversation on the topic
- Opportunities to minister to one another
- Ekklesia at Anoka, Tuesdays, 7:00 – 10:00 PM
- A time to corporately inquire of the Lord for His plans for Anoka and beyond
- A deliberate seeking of His will and the plan for the implementation of it
- Acting upon the revelation we receive
- Opportunities to minister to our region
Throughout my time as a follower of Christ, many people have either called me a pastor or asked me if I was a pastor. Much of what I did involved pastoral care for my brothers and sisters in Christ, so I suppose the assumption was reasonable. Until recently I would always respond that I was not a pastor because I did not have the diploma, nor did I care to go sit in classes. However, God has called me with the gift of pastor. A prophet confirmed it with a word from the Lord for me, while others have affirmed the validity of it by the witness they received. This realization does not change how I do things as such, but it does add a weight of responsibility to what I do.
The gifts, as seen in the Apostle Paul’s writings, were given for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry. That is, the gifts are for the maturing of fellow believers, that each one may be strengthened to do the ministry they are called to do by the Lord. The gifts are for serving the body of believers. Like Christ, the one with the gift is there to serve, not to be served.
Christ gave these five gifts: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher. (Ephesians 4:11)
Christ gave the purpose: for the perfecting of the saints so they can do ministry and build up the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12)
Christ defined the time frame: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13)
The gifts have specific roles and purposes in building up the body. The ekklesia will explore these and seek God as they are put into practice. I believe we have a few of these in place by the grace of God. I also believe that until all are in place, He uses others to perform some of the necessary roles, for the time being, to accomplish His purposes. For our part, we need to be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit and have discernment to know what is of God and what is of the flesh.
Activities in 2020 were somewhat limited by the events of the world. There were 69 official events with Anoka Awakening. This new schedule potentially puts that number over 150. With 44 people involved throughout the year, only 6 participated in 40% or more of those activities; only 2 over 60%. We will each need to determine our level of commitment and participation for 2021 as the Lord opens doors to minister to our community.
Concerning our finances in 2020, the Lord blessed us with exactly what we needed. Anoka Awakening entered the year with the January bills paid and $204 cash on hand. We concluded 2020 with the January rent paid for 2021 and $0 cash on hand. God used 11 people to provide 80% of the finances. Here too, each of us must ask God what He would have us to do. We should then come into agreement with Him and do what we have determined with Him. God will remain faithful to His children.
Our email list in 2020 remained consistent at about 50 recipients of our updates. Of the 50, 24 have not participated in activities nor provided finances in 2020. I trust the Lord has them praying for us as I know personally that some do.
I, as I hope you do also, appreciate all who participate in Anoka Awakening whether in activity, financial support, or prayer support. It is the Lord who keeps all these bases covered for us. It is Christ Jesus who said, “Upon this rock I will build my ekklesia.” He will build it and I trust we will continue to serve it. I deeply appreciate and sincerely thank our intercessors.
My personal focus for ministry remains as it has been for the past 36 years since I surrendered my life to the Lord in February of 1985:
- Share the good news of the gospel with whoever will listen
- Provoke believers to live more holy lives for Christ
Considering the recognition of the pastoral gift, I will serve in building up the saints to perfect the body for the ministry to which they are called. The Lord willing, I will make myself available to all who seek encouragement, comfort, and council, doing my best as the Lord leads me and as His grace enables me.
That said, I will continue to participate in every event or activity as possible and I will continue to financially support the ministry as led by the Lord to give from what He provides in my life. I will also continue my practice of spending time in the morning in worship, study, and prayer. Over the past number of years, I have begun most days at our space for time with the Lord focusing on Anoka and the ministry He calls me to do. Aside from the times a job takes me out of town, I will be as involved as I ever have been, if not more, in the ministry of Anoka Awakening.
I pray that each of you will seek the Lord for:
- clarity in the ministry to which you are called
- discovery of the commitment He asks of you to make
- the faith and faithfulness to carry it out
I look forward to serving you, and serving with you, in 2021.
“for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.” (Ephesians 6:22-24)