Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Vision To Come Again

This was written by me almost 30 years ago. I have changed some of the tenses from present to past. This was a real fellowship that was based upon the Church in the “Book of Acts”. It lasted for about 7 years. I believe this could be a pattern for what God may do again in the days ahead.


Several years ago during a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a small group of believers was formed, Having come out of a critical time of national unrest in the '60's, there developed an awareness of many of the problems, false values, and overly materialistic philosophies that had become entrenched in our society. This laid the ground work in the hearts of many young people to search for a higher and more excellent way. A search not just to improve this existing system, which is corrupt even at its core, but for a whole new kingdom — The Kingdom of God! The Lord began to gather these new generation Christians in a rented house in Danville, Virginia, which came to be known as the Hallelujah House. As we began to worship and express our love for our new found King, the Lord Jesus Christ, He began to move and teach and impart a vision of community as a manifestation of the Kingdom of God in the earth. It was there, with the helpful leadership of PeterZ, that Sonshine Farm was born! Jesus said, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid." Matthew 5:14. A city is a gathering of indivi­dual lights. Alone our light can be hidden, but corporately that light cannot be hidden. Community is first established in the heart as we become committed one to another in love, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another." John 13:35. Once this work was done in our hearts, God would supply the land to accomplish His plan. As we began to looking, God led Peter to a place near the Virginia-North Carolina line about 10 miles east of Danville. As he drove up the hill to the old farm house, the word of the Lord came to him and said, "This is the place," The run down old house, built before the Civil War, sat on top of a hill with a beautiful view of the Dan River Valley, The place was in terrible shape and the grounds were all overgrown, it looked a lot like we do before the Lord gets hold of us; filthy on the Inside and run down on the outside.

That same night, we came together to pray and ask God to confirm this word. Peter flipped open his Bible, and his eyes fell on Haggai 1:15 which said, "In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month," (That would be June 24 in our calendar) which just happened to be the exact day that it was: so we looked back to the beginning of the chapter to see what it was that happened in that day and began to read. The prophet seemed to be describing the condition of the country and the church today. In the verse 7 & 6, it says, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; consider your ways. Go up to the hill and bring wood and rebuild the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord." This was a strong and powerful confirmation, not only that we had found His place, but also why the church, the body of Christ, is in the condition it is in today. Verse 9 states, "My house is waste because ye run every man to his own house.” Everybody looks after themselves, does their own thing, has their own plans and just adds Jesus to it. God wants to add us to His plan that we might look after one another.
Based upon this word that God had given us we knew that we were in his will, but there was still one problem, the matter of money! We were a small group and had been meeting together for only about a year. With all of us saving our offerings we only had approximately $4,000.00, which was far short of what we needed for even a down payment. But God had given us peace and confi­dence. We knew that if God had spoken. He was also able to provide for the needs. So as quickly as possible we called the fellowship together again to spend the day in prayer and fasting. That same day as we were praying one of the wealthiest business men in town called and asked if Peter would be willing to meet with him. He had heard about people whose lives had been changed and some that had been delivered from drugs. He wanted to know more about us and what our plans were. Peter told him about the farm and our vision. Then he asked "How much money do you need?" Peter said "about $15.000.00 for the down payment," He asked "how much do you have?" "About $4,000.00" was the reply. He said "I'll give you the other $11,000.00”. We hadn't even asked him. The Lord is truly able to provide, and will work miracles to accomplish his will.Back in Haggai chapter 1, verses 13 & 14 say: "I am with you, saith the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of the remnant of the people, and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God."

That is exactly what happened. We all put our abilities and skills together to restore the house.
So the Farm was restored and new life brought to the place. Just as we have been restored and given new life.

The church is being progressively rebuilt as the truth is renewed in our midst and the end of the age draws near. The light has been growing brighter and brighter "until the day dawns, and the day star arises in our hearts”. God is preparing a glorious bride without spot or blemish. It shall be brought to a full restoration and fulfill Haggai 2:9:
"The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, (early church as seen in the Book of Acts) and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts."


The fellowship had then undergone a great deal of development and had grown to several hundred in number. It eventually covered over 400 acres of farm land in Virginia and North Carolina, portions of which we used to form subdivisions where many of the families built homes with the help of each other and our own construction com­panies that grew as a result. There were also many families that settled in a small and historic old town near by; located right in the midst of our surrounding farms. It served for business and trade needs.
Among the facilities that the Lord had provided were:
Men’s dormitories, a women's dormitory, a greenhouse, a large new meeting house, a swimming pool for community use, baptisms and children's summer camps. We were also able to purchase an old school building.
The school building had 14 classrooms and a gymnasium. We had intended to develop this school so that our children could receive an education based in the truth and centered in Christ.
We planted apple and peach orchards and were beginning to farm the land as we learned to organically cultivate, raise livestock and keep bees.
A community food distribution center was developed in a store front nearby. Through the center, we both bought and produced food, goods, and other necessities in large quantities to both save people money and minister to those in need. James says that if we don't minister to those things needful to the body (food, clothing, and shelter), our faith is dead. (James 2:16).
Another way we had been able to help each other was through the establishing of a Help Fund. As members contributed to this fund, we had taken care of many hospital bills, paid for the birth of many babies (by which we had been blessed), and provided for several other financial emergencies. We also trained nurse mid-wives and were looking to set up our own basic health care facilities.
Within the community some of our own businesses were providing jobs to help meet our needs. Members were also delighted to give aid in whatever service was needed; A construction company had grown from a few of the brothers who learned their skills from
the restoration of the farm house. Now there are branches extending from carpentry into plumbing, electrical work, masonry, painting wallpapering, and cabinet and furniture making. Some of the people were involved in crafts such as quilting, painting, weaving and pottery. Plans were underway to form a craft store to market these items.
As we come together we can see the provision of God taking shape in many different forms. We were hoping to develop resources and abilities that could set us free from the control of the antichrist world system. What would happen if the oil supplies are turned off? Are we the church to be addicted to and dependent on those things for survival? There is no power shortage in God.
We are always experimenting with new ideas and concepts of doing things (such as alternate power sources — wind, solar, wood, water etc.) to enhance the manifestation of the Kingdom and supply our needs.

Historically, whenever a people strayed from God and His righteousness, judgment was just around the corner. Just because they were God's chosen people did not exempt them. In fact, judgment came upon them quicker as the scripture says, "Judgment must first begin at the house of God." (1 Peter 4 :1) This is not to neglect God's mercy for "his mercy endures forever" to the repentant heart, but the judgments of the Lord are correction to the believer and destruction to the stiff-necked and proud. (Micah 4:1 and Romans 5:3). God desires to raise up a standard in the church by which He can judge the heathen, but in general, the church has accepted the standards and values of the world. We have become dependent on the world, and they tell us how to live. Jesus said the church is to be in the world; not the world in the church. We are to
be light and salt to the world. Many “Christians” follow the Lord for selfish reasons, wanting only to hear about all the blessings that they will receive, never wanting to know what the will of God is for their lives. They are taught to "give and it shall be given unto you" (Luke 6:38). To motivate people to give in order to get was not what was intended by the Lord. Anyone who does not speak as though God only wants to cater to everyone’s desires becomes unpopular and a voice that much of Christianity wants to put away. This was also the attitude of the children of Israel to the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah. Nevertheless, their words were true no matte how unpopular, It is time for the voice of the prophet to be heard again in the church.
Let us beware of the attitude "God will supply" when what we mean is our way.
The Children of Israel felt the same way as they did their own thing and said, "We have the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord." (Jeremiah 7:34,4), like the hypocrisy of the “God Bless America” crowd. He warned them not to believe those lying words. We see today many well meaning Christians, politicians and business men, trying to preserve the status quo and bring our constitution back to our founding fathers. They forget that we are not called as Christians to just help society get better, but to be representatives of another kingdom. Our founding fathers are not Franklin, Jefferson, and Washington, but the apostles and prophets. Other foundations can no man lay, and our constitution is the word of God. When Jesus came the first time, this was the attitude of many religious people: "Lord will thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" They think "Oh if we only can get some nice Christians in government and in business". They are the same way now. The Lord did not come to restore some earthly kingdom, but to set up His kingdom. Hallelujah! No one likes change, but change must come. It would be better to look at some of the things we should be doing instead of hoping that it all blows over. If we are not seeking first the kingdom of God, and are only slightly involved in the Christian community, it will be easy to get assimilated into the culture of the world and receive their values and philosophies. The early Christians knew this and therefore lived as a society apart from the mainstream of the world culture. We are not talking about withdrawing from the world, but being separate. This gives us a much better opportunity to live the gospel and show forth an alternative life style to the world. This does not diminish our evangelical outreach and ministry. On the contrary, the gospel is more powerful in demonstration rather than in word only. In addition, we become as a prophetic statement to the world.
Psalm 133 says, "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity," and we have found that this is so. The two greatest commandments in which all others are fulfilled, are to love the Lord with all our heart, and to love one another as He loved us. We hope, by both what we teach and by the way we live, to give the world a glimpse of the Kingdom of God. In this environment we can better minister to the needs of the total man spiritually, emotionally, physically, and socially. The Bible can be taught not just as information, but as a way of life. We exist because there is a need.
As God establishes a firm foundation, "for the church is the pillar and ground of the truth," (1 Timothy 3:15), we can "go out into all nations and make disciples, teaching them to observe all things that He has commanded." (Matthew 28:19 & 20). For He taught us to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, not just some watered down version of salvation, to be filled with the spirit with signs and wonders following.
Basis and Belief
We believe in the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ and that we have redemption through His blood.
We believe, as did our early church fathers, in the doctrines outlined in the Apostles Creed.
"/ believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His
only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, seated at the right hand of God, the Father, Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Universal Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting." Amen!
Jesus the God-Man lived, died, and rose again, and we have eternal life through His name. He sent His Holy Spirit to empower us and guide us into all truth. (Acts 2).
We believe in the absolute authority of the Bible as God's word which is a lamp unto our path and food for our Spirit.
When we receive Jesus as our Savior, we are born into another Kingdom which is not of this world. "Delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son," (Col. 1:13), the church is therefore called as a body of believers to represent this Kingdom; dedicated to obey and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, reaching out, sharing our lives in self-sacrificing love. We are a peculiar people, a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9) that God has called forth, through whom He will build His Kingdom. Our boundaries are not set by Geographic’s but by faith. "The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Ghost." (Romans 14:17). The Bible com­mands us to walk in the Spirit as ambassa­dors of His Kingdom. Hebrews 11:3 instructs us that all that is seen (the material world) came forth from the invisible (the spiritual world). Therefore, if we become truly spiritual, it will change the material world. His Kingdom that now exists in Spirit is corning forth from within the heart of His people, (Luke 17:20 & 21), to be manifested in the earth. "Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10).

At this point, it might be important to briefly discuss some differences in beliefs concerning the "end times" and the "rapture" in the light of the Bible. This is not just for the sake of argument so that we ma have this theological position or that, but it has a vital bearing on the direction that the body of Christ should take. We believe that the scriptures teach that as the end of the age draws near there is coming a time of great tribulation upon the earth. It is coming as "travail upon a woman with child", (I Thessalonians 5:3). The pains start out mild and far apart, but they get closer and closer together and become more and more intense. Paul says that we are children of the day and not of the night so there is no reason why this should come upon us by surprise. The reason that this will come as a surprise to the world is because they do not look at the signs of the times, They turn away from the hand writing on the wall and assume that man (who is his own god) can work out all of his problems. This is reminiscent of the days of Noah. People were carrying on eating and drinking and making merry as though nothing were wrong. (Matthew 24:38). When we look around us at the corruption in government, the economic situation, the social injustice, the moral condition, the world scene, and the prevailing philosophy, they all tell us that something catastrophic is about to happen. The idea that we will be raptured out of any trouble is not consistent with the Bible, The purpose of tribulation is to destroy the tares (wicked) and perfect the wheat by burning off the chaff. In Matthew 13:30 concerning the parable of the wheat and the tares, it is important to note that it is the tares that are taken first and bound in bundles to burn. In verse 41, it says that "the Son of man shall send forth his angels and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and them which do iniquity." Also, in Matthew 24:37, He says "As the days of Noah were so shall the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field: the one shall be taken and the other left." In the days of Noah, it was the wicked that were taken. Again in 1Corinthians 15:51 & 52 it says we shall be changed at the last trump which is the same trump of 1 Thessalonians 4:16, for it is when the dead in Christ shall be raised. Now if we look in Revelation chapters 8 through 11, we see that there are seven trumpets. The first six are tribulation and the seventh says "the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever." This aligns very well with what Paul was talk­ing of in the "Last trump". Ephesians 5:27 tells us that He is coming for a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, and Acts 3:21 declares that the heavens must withhold Him until the times of the restitution of all things, (see Proverbs 10:30),
We believe that God is gathering His people for the time of His return is near. God has called us as His bride: a body of people, not a multitude of individuals, but a corporate expression of Him. Individually we cannot stand, for His Glory would destroy us, but there is one place in the scriptures where he gives us His Glory, John 17:22. "The Glory which Thou gaveist me I have given them: that they may be one, even as we are one,"

Direction and Future
We believe the Lord has directed us to become less and less dependent on the industrial world, which has brought so many into bondage, and become more and more self-sufficient. We believe that the world is on the threshold of a great shaking and much tribulation, Revelation 18:4 instructs us to “come out of her that we be not a partaker of her sins and receive not of her plagues."
God is preparing us for the years ahead and we, as well as a growing network of other communities throughout the world, can be a place of refuge and provision, a kind of ark, for the rest of the Body of Christ.
We hope to grow in His spirit and walk daily — a step at a time — spreading God's word to the ends of the earth "in deed and in truth," to a lost and dying world. "Till all the earth is filled with the glory of the Lord", Amen!!!