From a recent online dialog... (Its not the first time I've been asked the question).
Bob, are you Catholic now?
Hi Dear Brother!
Not per se RC, but Catholic as part of the Body of Christ Universally, yes! And Orthodox, Evangelical, Charismatic, Independent you might say I am “Communionist” ... Just that being at the Lord's Table He shares with me all things Christian.
Perhaps understanding my story and background
may help to understand how this came about.
I was born on a Naval Base in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1952 and grew up Methodist, went to Quaker School, came to the Lord via 4 Campus Crusaders, the 4 Spiritual Laws and the witness of God's love and grace at the Manlius Bible Church in Manlius New York on Super Bowl Sunday in 1971. Then I was Baptized in the Spirit in a Men's Laundry Room at Towson State University. A few weeks later I held an all night prayer meeting under the Bell Tower at Stephen's Hall where we had 12 decisions for the Lord. Soon after this I drove cross country with my new wife to go to Campus Crusade in Arrowhead Springs - Bob Cording redirected us to Berkeley, California where we stayed at the Christian World Liberation Front on a mattress on the roof of the God's Love household. We were told they were looking for someone to take over the studio where Jefferson Airplane used to rehearse. We were thinking about starting a Christian Theater Company.
While there, we handed out "Right On" (a counter-culture Gospel News Paper) published by CWLF (the Christian World Liberation Front) One evening, under the outdoor preaching of Dr. Jack N. Sparks, the Lord called me into "ministry" with a vision for a Coffee House back on the east coast. (From a distance I watched Jack's story unfolded over the next 40 years as 'my father' in the faith - Jack became one of the founders of Grace Haven Farms which became the New Covenant Apostolic Order. Overseeing over 400 local churches across the United States in search of New Testament authenticity, they were the first to build a bridge to unity by travelling to the orthodox churches in Turkey (First Constantinople and then Antioch which led to the start of the Evangelical Orthodox Church in America under the auspices of the Antiochan Orthodox Church. Dr. Jack also founded the St. Athanasius University of Orthodox Theology in Santa Barbara.
When I got back from California I was baptized in the Chesapeake by Southern Baptist pastor Dr. John Pepper (Furnace Branch Baptist Church in Glen Burnie, MD) - we were hit by a car on the way to the baptism and hit by another car on the way home! Then I was co-founder of Solomon's Porch (with John and Patty Hancock) Coffee House, then founder of Living Stones Fellowship, a house church. We went to Joppa Road Baptist (charismatic) church where we submitted the work of Living Stones and organized outdoor Jesus Meetings (after the first Sun Fest in California but before The Agape/Jesus Festivals in Lancaster, PA and Fishnet - In fact, in our first outdoor meeting, Forest Stiltner arranged for a sister named Joni Erickson to come and share her story! (I helped lift her wheelchair to the platform on Joppa Road. At our second meeting we had a Colt football player share his testimony in a junior high school auditorium on Harford Road. We only had one decision for Christ that night. The young man became a martyr as within six months he was murdered for his faith in Dundalk, Maryland. It led to revival there. Durnig that time i also served as youth leader for The Nicky Cruz Crusade where we had 800 decisions for the Lord and then served as youth director for the Billy Graham Crusade in Baltimore along side UMC Pastor David Rimbach - my youth pastor at Grace United Methodist before I became a Christian.
Then I attended Christ for the Nations in Dallas earning my Ministry of Fine Arts Degree. There we went attended 1st Assembly, Beverly Hills Baptist Church and others around Dallas. In the second year I was asked to help Pastor Bob Tilton (1976) get started in Farmers Branch, TX with Word of Faith World Outreach Center. At Christ for the Nations I was able to meet men and women of God from around the world who were part of what God was doing in every corner of the globe. We had inspired teaching and courses and our formation included building a solid prayer life. In a period of two years there were over 40 leaders from all walks of independent, evangelical, charismatic and Pentecostal backgrounds. I taught "Drama As Ministry" - the first of its kind at CFNI. It was a great time of teaching and inspiration and for making relationships. In 1976 we toured the 26 states in 76 days during the United States Bicentennial sharing the Gospel with Glory Company through drama, music, creative arts and ministry. We shared through street theater, in hospitals, prisons, retirement homes, churches of many different denominations and even sang grace in 4 part harmony in restaurants.
After graduating I pastored the Maumelle Valley Christian Center in Arkansas, in the Petit Jean mountains (near Williams Junction) - then I went to Little Rock to start International House of Prayer (IHOP) before the Kansas City IHOP (Strackbein Family, The Watsons and others) in the Colonial Gardens clubhouse! It was a house church with a focus on praise, worship, prayer, evangelism and christian unity. In our first year we had a thanksgiving meeting that brought together Church from around Little Rock just to give thanks and worship together. I was then was invited back to to my home church at Joppa Road Baptist to become Associate Pastor.
There we started The Joppa Bible Institute and I had a radio broadcast called International Voice of Prayer on WTOW. We also founded Intercessors for Maryland which led to an invitation to become part of Intercessors for America (but turned it down) to become part of the Lamb of God Ecumenical Covenant Community. I was Associate with Fred Lessons to start the Free Church Fellowship that eventually became (Living Water?) While there wrote a play called The Ram and The Troubadour, We started a radio broadcast and ministry with George Misulia called Common Ground. We examined Common Ground between Roman Catholic Tradition and the various positions of Protestants and Independent Evangelicals and Charismatics.
From Lamb of God I went to Ann Arbor, Michigan to participate in the International Development Year of the Sword of the Spirit representing the voice of the Free Church. We spent a year among leaders from around the world from various Communities to dialog and pray about finding 'convergence'/common ground through ancient Creed, review of Ecumenical gatherings, and discovery through dialog and common life. Our aim was to cooperate evangelically for renewal with representation from the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant and Evangelicals - mostly from the United States. It was there I wrote The Association of Free Church Assemblies Constitution. (First of its kind in 400 years - centered on the Moravian Code.)
Other titles in following years included: "The Scorpion Dilemma" on the occult, cults and christian error (modern day heresies that we grappled with), "Lord Teach Us To Prayr", "How to Raise the Dead", "Blueprint for Revival", "The Way of Life Seminar", "Becoming the Overcomer" and "Millenial Tidal Wave of the Holy Spirit".
After coming back from Michigan we started The Plaid Coyote and worked with St. Timothy's Episcopal in Catonsville - my ex-wife, Pat taught there and my children attended there. By then I had left the formal ministry as full time vocation and focused on working to take care of my family financially. I had a tough time and then our marriage broke up. I lived on my own for a while.
From 1991-2011 my Christian activities were relegated to day to day "survival faith". I had to confront my inability to "do for the Lord", my apparent failure to be "successful" in ministry according to anyone's requirements. I knew the Lord, but more "about" the Lord. I read all the books, was in more membership classes and taught more of them than I care to mention. I was blessed with God's blessing in terms of being able to pay the bills and it was also hard work with no end in sight. We lived form paycheck to paycheck. Finally - after 40 years as an active/nominal evangelical charismatic who was at the end of himself, grace found my address! His love broke through. I understood that when Jesus said, "It is finished" it was! I knew He meant it because I met Him all over again who loved me first!
Camille and I had found each other, by God's goodness and graciousness in the middle of terrific turmoil. We married and thus began a a long process of mutual healing that took years of patience and love. During this time I became a full commissioned sales professional. For 16 years I sold advertising all over the country. During my 'wilderness years' I maintained my relationship with the Lord and got a bit burned out on the riggers and indifference I witnessed in church life . In the fall of 2012, during a time of fasting and prayer, the Lord began to speak with me about walking among the young lions. Within 3 months Camille and I for whatever reasons started to have communion every day we were together and even when I was on the road.
Then one day in our living room we experienced what we now call The Miracle of CommunionFire! What I have experienced in the past two years - every day - has taken 40 years of Christian life and activity and given me the power to Follow Jesus!
I tried on my own for 40 years to follow Jesus the best I could but CommunionFire has enabled me by His sovereign grace and power of the Holy Spirit to follow Him and receive life from Him. What we experience is best summed up in 2 Corinthians 3:18.
Every day at His Table - in His presence - we are transformed a little bit more from one degree of glory to another degree of His glory. We now have 3 weekly house churches that meet around the Table of the Lord to encounter the Lord and to share the bread of those encounters with each other. We are feeling directed to start two more locations in January.
The Lord's Table feeds us with revival every day in our homes and from house to house once a week in groups of 6-12 in various locations. We don't have to find a tent 60 miles away in the country to hear revival preaching to have revival. It is a daily event at His Table. Its not easy to explain but we are trying as He enables us to do so.
When you sent me Grace Abounding To The Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan it was early in our CommunionFire experience and helped to settle many questions we were encountering to give us final and ongoing clarity about the enormous enveloping grace that we encountered and continue to encounter at His Table.
I could go on and on... but in short - Jesus is opening and handing us the treasures from His storehouse.
"And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel." Isaiah 45:3
From John 15:14 "You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you."
Then John 16 16, 25 Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me... ”
17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”
19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
So in CommunionFire - we believe for the unity of the Body of Christ based on the unity we experience when in Communion with Jesus individually! Only He can bring about the answer to His own prayer in John 17 - but John chapter 6, and chapters 13-16 all lead into the John 17 experience that Jesus intends to answer and will answer.
In a true sense I am Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, Charismatic, Independent, every day believer enjoying Communion with the Lord and his people anywhere and everywhere...and He is there waiting for us every time. He lives to give. He wants to share His love, His life, His peace, His joy all hanging on the hinges of eternal life and His promise to all who come to His Table - If you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have my life in you, your have the assurance of eternal life and I will raise you up in the last day! If you don't - you have no life in you!"
(Asked Again) Are you Catholic now Bob?
Hello Dear Brother!
I guess you are asking me directly "if I am now Roman Catholic?" Or do you mean: Greek Orthodox? Russian? Oriental? Coptic? Which one are you referring to? I am lower "c" catholic... as in universally christian - gleaning from the Scriptures, history and any common ground created at the Table of the Lord. In my personal constitution and communion. When in a RC Church I cross my arms during the Mass and do not receive the Eucharist, In the Orthodox Church we went forward to receive from the bread and when asked what parish we came from - we said, 'none' the Priest took the bread back our of our hands. When I go to the Methodist Church we can take the communion but when I meet with their leaders to discuss CommunionFire they met with me on pretense - promising an ongoing dialog - that never has happened.
However at least 30 of their members have visited our house gatherings. The brother that hosts the Pastors Luncheons in our area from a successful independent church has made it clear he is absolutely in disagreement with the Orthodox and RC Churches and leadership... and they only have communion one time per year "On Passover" - because he thinks they are to be done together. The local Episcopal Church interviewed me for a position as the head of Christian Education and said I was very qualified - but because I wasn't ordained according to the Book of Common Prayer. A large popular local Baptist Church pastor - loved the concept of CommunionFire and actually understood it - just couldn't figure out how it might be taught - wanted to know what the wine skin looked like and sounded like. The Church of Christ - was moved by and asks from time to time about CommunionFire and has Communion every week! There have been no further invites or discussions... yet!
I have met with leaders all over the area and spoken with missionary groups, ministries and people around the world and from every imaginable christian background. Our ministry - message is Communion and CommunionFire! Hard to go wrong when you just do as Jesus asked. "Do this" He says. When we do, we engage Him. The rest of the process of transformation is in His hands by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our greatest persecutor is Indifference. Our greatest enemy is distraction. The war is on and we are constantly surrounded by our enemies. Our greatest resistance comes not from God's people but His leaders - His shepherds. They just don't have time and don't care and they hide behind every imaginable wall to avoid dealing with accountability to the very presence of their Savior, Lord and Friend. I was at my lowest point. Broken, broke and wondering if I had been forgotten by the Lord and His people. At my last - with my wife - His love prevailed! His love conquered our hearts. He swept us into His presence and we have never left. We want Him to have our lives in the palm of His hand and i is the only place we want to be.
All I can tell you brother - like 2 Cor 3:12 "Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelis might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."
That liberty or freedom (whom the Son sets free is free indeed) to us has come to mean we are free to love all who come to the Lord's Table. We believe as in Luke 24 that something happens when we offer our bread and wine to the Lord with thanksgiving and prayer. By it He opens our eyes to His eternal reality and our ears to hear the Rhema - revealing the Logos causing the Graphe to come alive. All we can do is share with you and anyone else who cares to read about it as our first hand witness to the truth - Jesus Christ . We witness to His story and at His Table He makes us a part of His story.
Why isn't the church, Christians, believers, JESUS followers, with any Christian background talking about what Jesus asked us to do? "Eat His Body and Drink His Blood"? He said if we don't We Have No Life In Us but if we do We Have His Life In Us, We Have Eternal Life and He will Raise Us Up On The Last Day?
That's what baffles me. While you wonder about what Patch I might wear - I see brothers and sisters whose faith is dying or has no communion or if they do have communion its a memorial about an event 2,000 years ago.
Communion just is not relevant to faith today and yet its the center of the practice of daily revival after we answer the door - when He knocks at the door of our heart and he says I will come in and sup with you........
Then, if we follow Him to His Table - We sup with Him! He is happy to share our bread of sorrows if we will - when finished - feed on His Bread of Life!
So there is no church that will work with us now... or recognize what we are doing but I fully embrace ALL my brothers and sisters in Christ because at His Table - When I experience the Miracle of CommunionFire - ongoing transformation and deepening communion with Jesus Christ - then I understand how He loves me. I know the expression on His face when He looks at me. I know His personality - He is joyful, loving, kind, gentle and a Good Shepherd. That alone and His growing presence in my life lets me embrace all who He embraces.
I'm not interested in what man's rules and dispositions are - just the strength of His love and grace in my life. One of the first things I encountered was Jesus looking right at me saying, "Follow Me!" When He did, for the first time in my life, I had the power to follow Him. His paths of righteousness lead me many many different places - down roads I've never seen before, been afraid to explore and even through the valley of the shadow of death (first hand) - all roads of Jesus lead one place - to His Table!
The doorway is the Cross and the Way of Life is found where He leads. We find His leadership, care, love, comfort and direction in His presence.
Where is the one place He guarantees His presence - at His Table! He is there. He will never leave us or forsake us. There we find Him to be a poet, a healer, a lover, our King, our Deliverer, our High Priest, our Savior and Lord... "paths of righteousness for His name's sake." at His Table He anoints us and our cup overflows... with goodness and mercy that follows us the rest of our days...
Sorry brother - I have no Church Membership Patch - just a part of the Body of Christ!
Bob, I have grave reservations about universality, some where in the universe hell exists.
My "universality" is defined by the Lord as those who have eternal life - my focus too. The universe is a natural place and temporary. Universality as in Catholic - means the Kingdom of God - an eternal place that is the ultimate reality and supersedes our current universe.
Hell is full already and will be swallowing way too many more... If we don't find each other in Christ how will anyone find Him among us.
There is little to NO discussion about communion anywhere by anyone and yet it was the campfire of the first 700 years of the Church. We have many lessons to learn about this, but they are taught by the Lord at His Table.
Start with Jesus asked us to "Do This" - yet we don't! He said if we don't do it we have no life in us! I mean between me and Jesus not me and you. Me and you can only find His Communion by the communion we each have with Him. Then and only then will we find each other in the way, truth and life.
I am having more and more concern for those who are not coming to the Lord's Table - who do not know Him because they take no time for Him to share Himself with them. I think many who say they are 'saved' do not know Him. He said in the last days there would be a great falling away. I look at what's going on for the most part in the body of Christ and I see very very few who are united to the Lord much less united to one another. I fear for those who ignore Him. "I never knew you... depart from me you workers of iniquity."
You want me to share about the fires of hell or the Fire of His Presence? There is not much time. A few will be pulled out of the fire of hell - but not many. I don't think Christians really care about their eternal destiny because it is not evident now.
If they cared they would at a minimum - (after they repent and believe and accept Him to their table where they offer their bread of sorrows) never follow Him to come to His Table to feed on His presence, His life, His love, His peace which only He can give.
We cannot earn it and we cannot make it happen - only He can. If we don't spend time receiving from Him - feeding on his Body and Blood - how will we ever become with Him much less one another. I think you totally miss my point... my concern isn't that there are very few who are going to hell - its that I was pulled out of the fire that was consuming my life and rescued by His fire that feeds me with his lie. It is no longer I that live - thank God! i created a mess when I tried - but He creates goodness and mercy when I took my place to find my life his with Christ in God.
We also find three very important constants to those who actually encounter Jesus in CommunionFire.
1)You need to believe and confess (which can happen even by the sheer act of Communion),
2) You need to understand that the law of the Spirit has set us free from the law of sin and death - that when Jesus said, "It is finished" - it was!
3) You must be baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of a heaven born language!
If you are missing any of these understandings and provisions of His grace - then your eyes may not be opened to recognize His presence or hear His voice. Keep coming to the Table. He desperately wants us to avail ourselves of every good and perfect gift - of His exceeding great and precious promises that we might partake of His divine nature. Most of all He wants us to KNOW HIM! Not about Him.
No amount of prayer, scripture study, worship, church attendance, knowledge of Church history or liturgy or discipleship can replace the intimate act of Communion each day at His Table to feed on the Bread of His Body and Wine of His Blood. There are no excuses, no rationale, no theology to responding to His invitation. If He is your Shepherd - I know of only one place He leads: His Table - Prepared By Him - In The Presence of Our Enemies.
It is there and only there that HE anoints us with the oil of His gladness. It is there and only there that our hearts will overflow on a regular basis. It is at His Table that others recognize His Goodness and Mercy that follows us where ever life leads us throughout the day.
But we must have this revival every day if we are to have His life as the source of our life. Without Him you are nothing and He is your everything! He's been to your table...
Now come to His Table and exchange your bread of sorrows for His Bread of eternal tomorrows, today!
Bob Bonnell Communion Pastor
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