“I’m a good person,” is a stealth oxymoron

Are you a “good person”? According to Jesus the phrase, “I’m a good person,” is a stealth oxymoron. Jesus said; “No one is good–except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)

In fact, Jesus calls 3 groups of people “evil” or “wicked:” 1) His disciples, 2) a Judean crowd, and 3) a group of Pharisees (who were religious leaders). Check out these three verses in Luke chapter 11:

1) In verse 13 Jesus says to His disciples: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”
2) In verse 29 Jesus says to a Judean crowd: “This is a wicked generation.”
3) In verse 39 Jesus says to a group of religious conservatives; “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.”

–Why would Jesus tell people we would consider “good people” that they were wicked? Because as long as we think we are good, we have no need of a Savior. It is only when we fully realize that we are evil that we acknowledge our need for someone to save us from our sins. Do you?

secrets of the heart exposed

So how can we see the wickedness in our own heart? 1) Begin to read the New Testament as a love letter from God. In the light of God’s love your heart will be gradually exposed and you will begin to see how your sin has separated you from Him. 2) Experience the New Testament concept of ekklesia (a gathering of Christ-followers where people are allowed to share from their heart as prompted by the Spirit). “If an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in (to ekklesia) while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!'” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25)

Learn more about ekklesia in my new book Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible–Ekklesia available on Amazon in Kindle or paperback at this link.

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Posted in 1 Corinthians 14, all have sinned, Beyond Church, Bible, ekklesia, evil, good person, greed, Jesus, Jesus Christ, judge, judge not, judgment, Luke, Mark, New Testament, oxymoron, Pharisees, problem of evil, Savior, sin, sinfulness, source of evil, there is none righteous, Uncategorized, wickedness, worship | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cereal, cars, & church alternatives . . .

If for many centuries, almost everyone in the world who ate breakfast always had some brand of cereal, we would think it strange if a few people started talking and writing about having pancakes for breakfast. Breakfast cereal eaters might even feel threatened and/or put off by the break in tradition.

For many centuries, almost everyone in the world who has gone to church (except Quakers) has gone to some brand of highly programmed meeting built around a one-man sermon. However, nowadays some people are openly talking and writing about unprogrammed worship where everyday people are allowed to show and tell what God has done as they are prompted by the Holy Spirit. Should traditional church feel uncomfortable about that? No.

–God has used the traditional church format and will continue to use it. But perhaps there is another way of Christians meeting together that God also wants to use. Why should we limit God to just one format for Christian meetings?
–Here’s another example. Cars were the main personal vehicles in use for many years. When SUVs and minivans came out, car drivers didn’t think that SUV/minivan drivers were saying that cars were bad. They just chose to go beyond cars and drive a different vehicle.
–In the 21st Century God is introducing us to a new vehicle for corporate worship. He’s bringing back the New Testament concept of ekklesia based on 1 Corinthians 14:26. The traditional church model will always be around, but God is offering us something fresh and creative.
–Learn more about ekklesia at this link.

church cars cereal

Posted in alternative church, Beyond Church, change in church, change management, changes in worship, ekklesia, fresh expressions, house church, lay testimonies, messy church, nontraditional church, personal testimonies, Quakers, salvation testimonies, simple church, Spirit-led, Uncategorized, unprogrammed meetings | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Forgivers, enemy-lovers, and Divine visitation

Christ-followers are called to be forgivers and enemy-lovers. We cannot afford to be offended when our comfort zone is breached. So how are we doing?

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith.” 2 Corinthians 13:5. Are you:
1) Surrendered to secularism;
2) Satisfied with a religious system; or
3) Stirred up by the Holy Spirit?

If every time we gather in His name, we would surrender control of the meeting to His Divine visitation we would go beyond church as usual! When a worship meeting is led by the “sensible presence of God” rather than by a program, amazing things happen! “There are no words to express that kind of sweetness or humble exultation that arises from the sensible presence of God.” –Jonathan Edwards

Let’s go beyond “going through the motions” — beyond church!
“Christ has become the center of focus for our lives. It is far more than going through the motions, observing rituals and spiritual disciplines.” –General André Cox, international leader of The Salvation Army

Check out my new book Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible–Ekklesia.

 

 

Posted in André Cox, being religious, Beyond Church, General Andre Cox, Holy Spirit, How to forgive., Meeting for Worship, presence of God, religious ceremonies, secularism, simple church, spiritual disciplines, Uncategorized, worship | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

God dropped two burning books in my lap.

A retired Nazarene preacher called me and wanted to donate his personal library of 9 big boxes of books. How could I say no?

So this week I picked up two of those hundreds of books. Bang! They shook my soul. Here are some quotes from: Let The Church Be The Church by Raymond C. Ortlund (1983) and Revival by Martin Lloyd-Jones (1959).

Raymond C. Ortlund wrote:

“Has your church become part of ‘the church’ (ekklesia) — or did it just steal the label? When the church truly becomes the church it starts fulfilling God’s original intentions for it.”

“Together as a congregation we had a week of ‘waiting on God.’ There were no programs, no plans made. We simply cancelled everything, ground all the machinery to a halt, and gathered each evening for a week to sit before the Lord and see what He would say to us. Maybe Quakers know a lot about this, but I tell you, for us activist Congregationalists, this was a new thing. We looked up into His face. We waited on Him. Sometimes we were moved to sing, or pray, or confess, or testify. Sometimes we just sat. But that week we became quiet enough to see a lot of things more clearly–especially the Lord.”

“After Christ’s ascension, the believers did not preach. During the ten days they were together not one person was healed, not one lesson was taught, not one sermon was preached. They had something else to do; to wait on God, to sit quietly until they had His empowering, His direction.”

“If the church is centered on anything, anyone, any doctrine, any project–anything but Christ–it is off balance, off center.”

“Traditions of the past, tenaciously clung to , can bind us with chains and drag us downward and away from the fresh firstness of Christ.”

“The God-centered church must be willing to put all its activities on trail before the judgment seat of the Lord.”

“The pattern in the New Testament is for the loving family of believers to disciple each other. They must move into each other’s lives, in honor prefer one another, edify one another, admonish and instruct one another, greet one another with a holy kiss, care for one another, serve one another, be honest with one another, comfort one another, and James adds, ‘confess (their) sins to each other.'”

“‘Big’ Christians (by ‘big’ Christians I mean those who have big responsibilities and are looked up to) tend to operate in the body at the advisory level. In that way they’re saying ‘I don’t need you, but you very much need me.’ Pastors and other Christian leaders can easily fall into the trap of functioning by always teaching other Christians what to do. Keep your relationships in the body two-way. Let others minister to you. Be willing to be ministered to.”

Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote:

“The church is so constituted that every member matters, and matters in a very vital sense. There is a curious tendency today, for members of the Christian Church to feel and to think that they themselves can do very little, and so they tend to look to others to do all that is needed for them . . . Now that, of course, is a complete denial of the New Testament doctrine of the church as the body of Christ, where every single member has responsibility.”

“Is it not obvious to all of us, that the church is patently failing?”

“What so many are disputing and denying and ignoring is what I would call the immediate and direct action of the Holy Spirit. They say that the Spirit only works through the word, and that we must not expect anything from the Spirit apart from that which comes immediately through the word. And so, it seems to me, they are quenching the Spirit, because I read in Acts 13 that the Holy Ghost said unto the church at Antioch, ‘Separate me Barnabas and Saul . . .’ And I read in chapter 15 that the council in Jerusalem said, ‘It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us . . .'”

“The living, powerful activity of the Spirit; the Spirit coming directly, as it were, and controlling, and leading, and guiding, and giving orders, and indicating what was to be done; the Spirit descending upon them; that is what you always have in revival. But that is the thing that seems to have gone entirely out of the minds of men and women.”

“We must not grieve the Spirit, we must not quench the Spirit, we must give obeience to the Spirit. An as long as we do that, we shall go on being filled with the Spirit . . . the Spirit being poured out upon us until we are filled to overflowing.”

“The church has been trying to attract people to herself, putting on popular programs, dramas, music, this, that, and the other, trying to entice the people, especially the young people, but they do not come. Of course not. They never will until they know the name of the Lord, and . . . they will never know it until they see a manifestation of it, and, so we pray; descend, come down, rend the heavens that these adversaries may know Your name. Nothing will make them listen but that. We have tried everything else, have we not?

“Shame on us for our puny prayers, for putting our limits to God’s illimitable power!”

“God’s displeasure is upon the church because of her sin, because of her apostasy and her rebellion, but if she truly repents and really seeks Him, He will yet meet with her.”

–These amazing quotes strongly confirm what is written in my new book Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible–Ekklesia available on Amazon at this link.

 

 

 

Posted in Beyond Church, Bible type revival, Christian books, ekklesia, house church, Is the church failing?, Let The Church Be The Church, Martin Lloyd-Jones, organic church, Raymond C. Ortlund, revival, revival fires, simple church, spiritual awakening, Steve Simms, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Church = Audience? Or Team?

Is a church service with only one speaker like a band with only one instrument? (That’s an oxymoron, isn’t it?) Jesus said: “New wine must be poured into new wine skins.” If we want the new wine of the Holy Spirit, perhaps we need the new wine skin of open, participatory church.

What does it mean to gather in Jesus name? Jesus said: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” There are two main ways people can gather:

  1. People can gather as an audience to passively watch a presenter or a program.
  2. People can gather as a team to actively work and interact together.

Matthew 18

Which way did Jesus mean? The Greek word for gathered in Jesus’ statement is synēgmenoi and one of the definitions I found is: “to join together, join in one.”

Here are the verses before it:

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

In contexts it appears that Jesus is referring to people gathering to: 1) work together in binding and loosing; and 2) actively come to a sense of agreement.

Historically and traditionally, church has gathered (and still does) as a passive audience. But what if Jesus intended for His people to be actively and interactively involved when we meet in His name. Paul confirms this concept in 1 Corinthians 14:26 when he says: “When you come together, each of you has . . .” something to share with the group.

The Greek word in Matthew 16:18 where Jesus is quoted as saying, “I will build My church,” is ekklesia.  Ekklesia was the name for the governing body of Greek-city states. It was an open, participatory, interactive body that gathered to work together to make decisions (binding and loosing) on behalf of the city.

Because of this, it seems that Jesus promised to be with us when we gather to work together as a team, not when we gather to just be a passive audience.  What do you think?

Going beyond a passive audience to a interactive team is as easy as 1,2,3.
1) Gather with some Christ-followers;
2) Let everyone listen to God.
3) Let them share what they hear.

For more, check out my new book: Beyond Church: The Lost Word Of The Bible–Ekklesia available on Amazon at this link.

Posted in 1 Corinthians 14:26, agreeing in prayer, audience, Beyond Church, binding and loosing, Christian community, ekklesia, Greek city-states, Greek word for, house church, Matthew 18:20, organic chruch, simple church, team, the lost of the Bible, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hope for those burned out on politics

Administrations come with fanfare. Administrations go with disappointment. It’s an ongoing cycle that can leave us discouraged.

Here’s hope for those burned out on politics . . .

Jesus prayed and taught us to pray for
An environment ruled by
The presence and prompting of God.
That environment is not just
A distant locality we reach when we die,
But a present reality encountered
In Christ-controlled community:
“Your kingdom come, your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.”
A God-ruled environment
Comes into existence
When Christ followers gather
And let Him personally build His ekklesia
(The body of Christ meeting under His direct control),
By each one listening to His voice
And then saying and doing
Whatever He tells them to.
“When you come together, each of you has . . .”
Something to share in the meeting.
“For where two or three gather in My name,
There am I with them”
Perhaps He’s present to personally run His meeting,
Not to be a spectator or an honoree.
But to rule and to reign and to set us free.
If you want to learn to pray, experience, and live “Your kingdom come,” click on my new book Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible–Ekklesia.
kingdom come quote
Posted in Alan Redpath, Beyond Church, body of Christ, casting your vote, ekklesia, house church, how to know God's will, Jesus Christ, kingdom come, kingdom of God, kingdom of heaven, kingdom values, organic chruch, poem, political environment, quote, simple church, Steve Simms, the Kingdom of God is at hand, Uncategorized, where two or three are gathered | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can church be a caucus for Christ?

Does Jesus call us to caucus?

Iowa debt to Christ
That I can never repay
So I will vote with my life
To obey Him everyday!
Jesus calls us to caucus,
Which means in essence,
We gather in His name,
To be led by His presence.
1 Corinthians 14:26

What if church met to caucus for Christ — to gather with other Christ-followers and listen to each other express our love, commitment, gratitude, and support for the living, resurrected Jesus? (After all, I owe a [Iowa] debt to Jesus that I can never repay! Do you?)

To caucus for Christ is to move beyond church as usual (church as a passive, spectator sport) and into church as an open, interactive, participatory event where ordinary people express their love for Jesus as they show and tell what He has done.

Lear more about how to go beyond church at this link.Iowa

Posted in Beyond Church, faith in politics, organic chruch, politics, politics and religion, presidential campaign, presidential candidates 2016, presidential election, simple church, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment