An audience hearing doctrine or army setting captives free?

It’s okay to sit in an audience and hear a talk about God. It’s better to have a direct audience with God. Sure, God can use a one-man sermon, but He would have more options if everybody present could share as led by the Spirit.

Perhaps God wants more than an audience hearing doctrine. I believe that He wants an army that sets the captives free! The old hymn is called, “Onward Christian Soldiers,” not “On, Bored Christian Audience.”

What you hear a preacher say matters very little, compared to what you choose to say and do. Christ-followers were never called to be mere spectators in a audience; but an army united in mutual support and spiritual combat.

Trying to be a Christian, based on one experience with Christ; is like trying to stay alive, based on one experience of breathing. We need a fresh, continual, interactive relationship with the risen Jesus.

What’s going on inside your mind and heart has a much bigger impact on your life than what’s going on around you does. In spite of that, so many people work hard to try to control their circumstances, while few try really hard to control their feelings and desires.

To successfully control our feelings and desires, we have to have the on going presence and the help of the risen Jesus. Trying to control yourself without the risen Jesus helping you, is like trying to swim without the water. Christians are called to obey Jesus, even when they don’t want to. Will you?

We have to go beyond doctrine. Doctrine is not 100% clear. (“We know in part.”) Doctrinal pride divides the body of Christ. The risen Jesus guides us together. Unless the risen Jesus is the doctor in your life, your doctrine will be based on your own wisdom. (Get it? Doctor in, doctrine.)

If all Christ-followers have Jesus living in them, then we are united in Him. Have you ever met another Christian and immediately felt a heart-connection with her/him? That’s because we share the life of Christ with all people who have Jesus living inside of them.

If Jesus lives in both you and me; then regardless of any other factors, we need to show love, kindness, and compassion to each other. We are part of one body under Christ, indivisible, offering God’s liberty and mercy to all! God’s Math: 1 Christ-follower x 1 Christ-follower x 1 Christ-follower
x 1 Christ-follower . . . =  One Body Life.

Get in the God’s game. In ekklesia we’re the town council for the city of God.  (Ekklesia is God’s Spirit-led assembly; an open forum for Christ; a biblical alternative to traditional church.) And even when we’re alone, we’re ambassadors for Christ.

ekklesia poster funny

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Posted in alternative to sermons, Christ in you, Christ in you the hope of glory, doctrines, God's army, Onward Christian Soldiers, preaching, sermon material, sermons, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What happened to The Salvation Army Berry Street?

Numerous people have asked Ernie (my wife) and me what happened to Berry Street and why we are no longer there. If you have read some of my blog posts, then you already know a lot about The Salvation Army Berry Street. If not, here’s a brief summary:

About ten years ago, my wife and I were both employees of The Salvation Army in Nashville. The Nashville Area Commander, with support from the Territorial Headquarters, approached us and asked us if we would like to start a “nontraditional corps” (a Salvation Army church) in an empty corps building in Nashville. He said that a traditional corps had never done well in that neighborhood and asked if we had any ideas of how we could do things differently.

We shared our vision of open sharing and participation based on 1 Corinthians 14:26 (which at the time we called “sermon-free church”). Our leader liked the idea and shared it with Territorial Headquarters. They gave us full-support as well as financial backing to start Berry Street Corps.

We started meeting and God began to attract an amazing, interracial, socially-diverse group of people who came together to listen to the risen Jesus and then to say and/or do what He said. We were in an urban neighborhood and many children began to come, almost all of them coming without a parent with them. God even provided outstanding, volunteer leaders to work with the kids every Sunday morning.

Each Sunday morning for 9 1/2 years, we met together to listen to and be prompted by Jesus. We saw many lives transformed as ordinary people opened their hearts to one another and to Jesus. Everyday people shared eloquently as the Holy Spirit moved them and we were all deeply touched and transformed by what we heard and experienced. Also, continual outreach was done in the neighborhood by Berry Street regulars and volunteers — festivals, concerts, friend making, counseling support, one-on-one mentoring, supplying school supplies, lots of free meals, and regular prayer walking with The Salvation Army Flag, etc.

Overall our attendance usually averaged about 35 children and 30 adults. However, there was a season when The Salvation Army brought men from the Nashvile ARC (rehabilitation center) to Berry Street and we averaged more than 100 people a Sunday for several months. Over the years, we had hundreds of visitors (and regular attendees) from Nashville and around the country come to see what was going on at Berry Street. Many times they came to tears as they saw God working through a diverse group of everyday people.

Several Salvation Army magazines published upbeat articles about how we met at Berry Street. I wrote a book about it called Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible–Ekklesia and War Cry (the national magazine of The Salvation Army in the USA) published a great review of it. They said: “Beyond Church is groundbreaking . . . a plea to awaken the vibrant life and possibilities of godly community.”

Serving under three Nashville Area Commanders and three Divisional Commanders, we were given complete freedom to be “nontraditional” and to creatively follow the Holy Spirit’s direct leading, during Berry Street worship meetings. Our leaders all gave us and Berry Street amazing love and support. We were also encouraged and loved by many other Salvation Army officers (pastors/leaders) from around the country. In 9 1/2 years, only one person in The Salvation Army, a retired officer, ever told us that what we were doing at Berry Street didn’t match the Army.

Then a new Area Commander came to Nashville. From the start he told us that we had to change how Berry Street met. We tried to cooperate and changed Berry Street as much as we felt we could. However, he made a few demands that we couldn’t go along with, especially the one that said that we could no longer allow people to openly share during the Sunday morning meeting. We felt like we had no choice but to resign, rather than give up our calling from God (and foundational directions from The Salvation Army to lead a nontraditional corps).

Our abrupt and surprising departure was a very painful experience for Ernie and me and for all who had been a part of Berry Street in various ways: soldiers, regular attendees, the children, volunteers, supporters, people in the neighborhood, visitors, etc. About 70 adults came to our last meeting to say farewell and remember the amazing things God did at the corner of Berry and Meridian streets in East Nashville. It was a glorious time of celebrating the ways God blessed us all through ministering to one another!

Thank you to all the many people who have supported us, prayed for us, and encouraged us as we have walked though all the years at Berry Street and through this transition. Ernie and I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity that God and The Salvation Army gave us to explore and live out at Berry Street, for 9 1/2 years, the ancient Greek New Testament concept of open sharing and participation known as ekklesia.

Although we are not sure what God has for us next or how we are going to make a living, we are excited and hopeful. In the mean time, God has given us some part-time work. Ernie and I are not retiring. We are looking forward to meaningful assignments.

I’ve always loved preaching and speaking (although I didn’t formally do that at Berry Street) and feel like God is going to open some doors for that. If you need someone who can help impart passion for Christ in your revival meeting, corps, church, event, councils, men’s camp, ARC, etc., please keep me in mind.

Ernie is an amazing facilitator and speaker. She loves to lead women’s retreats and workshops and to speak at women’s camps.

Ernie and I both facilitate team-building workshops based on the DiSC Personal Profile. These usually last about 3 hours and can help any group learn to work together more effectively as they learn about their personal style and the style of others on the team.

I also have 12 years experience as a full-time motivational speaker and would love to help your company, association, or group get excited about their lives and their jobs. I use lots of humor and even amazing illusions (“magic tricks”).

Feel free to contact me by email: stsimms@live.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Adult Rehabilitation Center, alternative church, ARC, church, ekklesia, nontraditional church, organic chruch, Salvation Army, Salvation Army ARC, Salvation Army Berry Street, Salvation Army church, Salvation Army Corps, Salvation Army Flag, Salvation Army Nashville, Salvation army officers, Salvation Army soldiers, simple church, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Do the CBS (“Crazy” Bible Stuff)

It’s time to begin to do the CBS, the “crazy” Bible stuff. Dare to read it, believe it, & boldly do it — now. Definition: “Crazy Bible stuff” is stuff in the Bible commonly considered to be crazy. Here’s an example: “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed.”

It takes “crazy” courage to push aside your own desires and do the “crazy” Bible stuff instead. There’s great hope in this “crazy” Bible stuff! “The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.”

If you will do the “crazy” stuff of the Bible, “crazy” will soon become amazing! Perhaps actually doing the “crazy” Bible stuff (CBS) is the key to sanity. “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only.”

Try some non-stop, “crazy” Bible stuff: “Pray without ceasing.”

In a society that teaches us to do whatever feels good; this “crazy” Bible stuff says: “Resist the devil & he will flee from you.”

Here’s some more CBS: Jesus said; “Cast out demons.” Don’t let demons influence or torment you. Run them out of your mind!

This “crazy” Bible stuff will help clear your conscience. “Confess your faults to one another.” It takes crazy self-control to do this “crazy” Bible stuff: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.”

Meetings can be mighty boring. Doing the “crazy” Bible stuff makes them come alive with awe & wonder! When Christians meet with the agility of the Holy Spirit and do the “crazy Bible stuff,” signs and wonders begin to happen.

People who enjoy boring meetings shouldn’t be in charge of church services. (Ekklesia speaks louder than church.) Maybe one man doing all the talking isn’t the most effective way to hold a church meeting.

An actual demonstration of “crazy” Bible stuff is worth 1,000 sermons. “Crazy” Bible stuff! The world doesn’t need you to preach about
“turning the other cheek.” They need to see you do it! Faulty logic: “I attend church; therefore I am a Christian.”

“Crazy” Bible stuff: “Teach and admonish one another.” Oh for an environment where that can be done during church meetings!

This “crazy” Bible stuff is especially hard to do! “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Also try this CBS: “Be kind and compassionate to one another; forgiving each other.”

Here’s some “crazy” Bible stuff you can do on Facebook. “Bless those who curse you.” Here’s some “crazy” Bible stuff almost everyone disobeys:
“You shall not lie.”

This “crazy Bible stuff” could make a “shock-jock” flinch. “Whoever keeps the whole law & yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”

You might want to experience this CBS: “I want you all to speak in tongues.” –Apostle Paul. To sum up “crazy” Bible stuff: “Deny yourself.”

“Crazy” Bible stuff is important because the physical world is but a temporary illusion. It is untold trillions of electrons orbiting empty space. However, when the reality of God shines through the physical world, we call it beauty.

Religious programs tend to divide us, but doing the “crazy” Bible stuff can bring us together as one. When two people who are intimately connected to the risen Jesus meet, they have an instant connection with one another.

What “Crazy” Bible Stuff (CBS) has most impacted your life?

Posted in casting out demons, clear conscience, Divine healing, faith healing, forgiveness, gifts of healing, healing, pray without ceasing, religious persecution, resist the devil, signs and wonders, speaking in tongues, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our violent world desperately needs the message of ONE. http://amzn.to/2fU7hn8

Attacking & injuring people with words is the first step toward violence. Be kind.

To stop the growth of evil in society, we all need to stop allowing it in our own hearts & minds. Since evil acts begin in the heart; to overcome evil, hearts must be changed. “Out of the heart come evil thoughts.” –Mt.15:19

–“Why?”– Here’s one of the best answers I’ve found as to why people do terribly evil things. “When a person denies his conscience for too long, it can become seared. That person becomes susceptible to receiving and accepting all sorts of harmful and evil things. This is true for both believers and unbelievers. A seared conscience will open a person up to demonic spirits and activities.” –from the book ONE, page 183 — http://amzn.to/2yHoCTT

We all ought to resist demonic thought, because if it’s not fought and if inner freedom’s not sought, it will leave us distraught. Freedom from the torment of evil thoughts is possible; but it requires the successful use of
spiritual strategies.

Let’s get back to the basics of spiritual strategies. “Thou shalt not kill.”

Peace isn’t a sign. Peace is a heart and mind that’s free from evil, torment, and anxiety. Peace is also freedom from guilt. The answer to guilt isn’t denial. It’s repentance, forgiveness at the Cross, and a new life in Christ. For guilt relief: Receive remorse, redirection, & reconciliation with God and with other people.

Loving your family is natural. Loving your enemies is supernatural. Christ-followers are called to live supernaturally!

Jesus prayed that all the members of His body be one (see John 17). Will it ever happen? Yes. We can be one because on the organizational chart for the body of Christ, everyone reports directly to the living, resurrected Jesus. When we all do that, oneness happens.

For practical ways to be one with others in the body of Christ, check out the book ONE: Unfolding God’s Eternal Purpose From House To House.

 

Posted in demons, evil spirits, good and evil, guilt, heart is deceitful, heart is desperately wicked, how to overcome guilt, inner peace, mass murders, murders, ONE: Unfolding God's Eternal Purpose From House To House, overcoming evil, peace, problem of evil, shall not kill, source of evil, Uncategorized, where does evil come from, why mass shootings | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s much easier to hear God than to obey Him!

When you can’t figure everything out, perhaps all you need to do is to notice and follow the inner guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can direct you in miraculous ways if you pay attention to and obey His gentle nudgings.

As human beings, we have a much greater problem obeying God, than we have knowing what He wants us to do. For example, it’s easy to notice a prompting from the Holy Spirit, but suppress the impulse. That’s why the Bible says: “Quench not the Spirit.” Too often we let our loyalties, feelings, or opinions override what God is telling us to do.

Has God told you to do something that you’ve not done? Go back and do that; and soon you will become aware of His next step for you.

Go beyond hearing about Jesus. Instead, hear directly from Jesus and then say and/or do what He tells you.

Being led by the Spirit is not automatic. However, if we take small steps in obedience to the Spirit’s inner promptings, our confidence in Him grows and we can gradually learn to listen to and obey Him through out the day.

Jesus wants all His followers to be one — not in organizational or denominational unity; but in heartfelt love and community. All who have the risen Jesus living in them are my sisters and brothers in Christ.

Sometimes it’s helpful to ask; “How does God, with His eternal perspective and love for the whole world, see this?” The New Testament is powerful if you do two things with it: 1) Read it with an open heart; and 2) Do the stuff it teaches. I read the Bible with my eyes on the pages, my mind on the words, and my heart open to the Spirit.

The Bible is more than an ancient document. The main character is alive & still working to change people’s lives! Studying the Bible can only take us so far. We need to get to know the Author and then do the stuff He teaches.

The Bible is like the tide-maker; that giant, floating ball that makes the oceans rise and fall. It brightly reflects the Son in the middle of the world’s darkness.  To ignore the Bible is to close your heart to amazing inspiration and light.

Gracebook (the Bible) shows me the great price that Jesus paid to take the punishment for my sin and free me from its power. O, the wonder of it all!

Many people feel alone in a crowd. I feel accompanied when I’m alone. (Jesus is incredible!)

Let go & hold on! Let go of destructive thoughts, words, & actions; & hold on to the risen Jesus. Anybody can be opinionated, but it takes great strength & courage to be kind to those who disagree with you.

Remember the old Gospel song “Old Time Religion” that said: “Makes me love everybody?” What happened?

Profanity is perhaps the most pervasive pattern of hate speech. (It’s plainly not polite or pleasant.)

Some anonymous people discovered the New Testament idea of ekklesia and turned it into support groups. (AA, NA, Al-Anon, etc.) Yet, we all need God’s ekklesia support group.

Posted in as many as are led by the Spirit, Be filled with the Spirit, filled with the Spirit, flow of the Spirit, hearing the Spirit, Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit teaches, How to be led by the Spirit, in step with the Spirit, in the Spirit, leading of the Spirit, listening to the Spirit, ministry of the Spirit, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Statues & Knees (a paradox)

A poem about statues and knees:
With statues we honor
Men who took up arms
In violent rebellion
Against America;
But we dishonor
Those who simply kneel
To protest police shootings
Of unarmed men.
Posted in all lives matter, American Civil War, American patriotism, black lives matter, blue lives matter, Civil War, football, justice, National Football League, nationalism, patriotism, police lives matter, police violence, professional football, race, racial healing, racial reconciliation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perhaps church could “Let go and let God.”

Human control isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. By letting go of worship services and letting God, Himself, control and personally direct them, church can move into a supernatural dimension.

Jesus wants to use you, and all of His followers, (not just a preacher), to show His love to and to minister to others.  He isn’t dead & needing a professional spokesperson. He’s alive & speaking for Himself. Listen!

When Christians come together for worship, everyone is important. We all can have something valuable to share. Fifty-something times, the New Testament tells us to minister to one another in various ways.

There’s no hierarchy in the Body of Christ because every member has a direct connection with the Head, Jesus! In the Gospels you see that Jesus is informal, relational, and unpredictable. He doesn’t follow a set program. In the Gospels the Pharisees resisted Jesus because He wouldn’t follow their program.

If we program Jesus, then we’re the boss. We need to let Jesus program us. Some people would rather personally interact with Jesus than to sit & watch a program about Him.

When Christians gather as an interactive assembly of equals led by the risen Jesus, that’s ekklesia. There’s one leader in the Body of Christ, the living Jesus. The rest of us are followers.

To “let go & let God” isn’t just for individuals. It’s even more powerful if a group lets go of human control and let’s God take over.

Biblical Christianity is a daily adventure full of excitement & joy! Our call is to bring people to Jesus so that they can follow Him, not to make people dependent on a preacher.

In this age of “tolerance” why don’t churches have more tolerance for people who want to obey the Holy Spirit’s promptings? There seems to be no room in church for people who want to share what God puts on their heart according to 1 Corinthians 14:26.

Jesus is far more real to me than any Sunday morning program. Sometimes they distract me from His presence.

True love cares for people beyond race, politics, nationalism, religion, or behavior because all are hurting. Christians are called to loyalty to the risen Jesus above all other loyalties.

I love living in a country where people are free to express disagreement. I just wish we would be kinder with it. I’d rather show God’s love than win an argument.

God’s heart is so much larger than any nation; caring deeply about every kindred & every tribe. O, for the heart of God!P

Posted in a Christians loyalty, loyality, nationalism, politics, race, religion, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment