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 , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sermons have been greatly used by God

The Protestant Reformation (which began in 1517, back in the day when the priest was the smartest person in town) made some very effective changes in the way church was done. Those changes helped to create a spiritual revolution and have been mightily used by God for almost 500 years.

In 1517, a monk named Martin Luther published 95 ideas for changing the way traditional church was being done. (His ideas also changed theology, but that is a different story.) The traditional church at that time in Western Europe was the Roman Catholic Church.

Sunday worship in the Roman Catholic Church was called Mass and centered around an altar that held the Eucharist (the bread and wine that the Catholic church taught became the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ when blessed by a priest). Repeating ancient liturgy (a fixed set of ceremonies and words) to honor the Eucharist and then having a priest serve it to the people in the congregation was the main focus of the church meeting. Sometimes a homily (a short talk that followed the reading of Scripture) was given by a priest from a lectern located beyond the side of the altar.

According to Google, the homily was “primarily for spiritual edification rather than doctrinal instruction.” Religious images and statues that decorated the church buildings were intended to teach the people. Bibles were very rare before the printing press was invented around 1445. For centuries afterwards very few people knew how to read. They desperately needed someone to explain the Bible to them.

Martin Luther believed that the way church was being done was not as biblical or as effective in maturing Christ-followers as it could be.  The ideas Luther presented sparked a revolution in the way church was done in Protestant churches:

  • Most of the liturgy was removed from church meetings and most of the statues and images were taken out.
  • The every Sunday Eucharist was removed and replaced with occasional Communion which was no longer seen as the literal body and blood of Jesus.
  • The altar was reduced in size and was no longer the center of the meeting.
  • The lectern was replaced with a pulpit that was given the prominent place in the church building, usually behind and above the altar.
  • The homily was replaced by a weekly sermon that focused on doctrinal instruction and became the central focus of the meeting.
  • The primary role of the people was no longer to receive the Eucharist and participate in the liturgy, but to listen to religious instruction.

pulpit

Now that those changes have been in effect in Protestant churches for 499 years, what is the best way we can celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017? Perhaps that would be to update some of those changes for the 21st Century.

In 1517 the preacher was the smartest guy in town and often was the only person who could read. There were few Bibles and very few people knew much about it. So the Reformation created a spiritual revolution by making Bible knowledge available to common people through sermons.

However, in 2016 most people can read and Bibles are very easy to come by. Technology has given us incredible Bible study tools. People can hear a sermon anytime and anywhere — on TV, radio, YouTube, smart phones.  Millions of Christ-followers are walking away from hearing Sunday sermons and calling themselves “Dones.” Our culture has become highly participatory and interactive.

Perhaps we it’s time for a brand new reformation based on 1 Corinthians 14:26 that instructs us to allow everybody present the freedom to speak out church meetings. Perhaps, like the Protestant reformers, we need to go beyond church as usual.

Check out Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible–Ekklesia at this link.

 

 

 

 

Posted in 1517, 500th anniversary, 95 theses, Catholic Church, Catholic mass, Catholicism, changes in worship, Christian education, church altar, denominations, Eucharist, hermeneutics, homily, illiteracy, liturgical churches, liturgy, non-liturgical, printing press, Protestant, Protestant Reformers, pulpit, pulpit ministry, Roman Catholic, sermons, the Western church, theology, types of worship, Uncategorized, Western Christianity, Western Europe, worship, worship service, worship styles, worship wars | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Jesus Christ Superstar Revival” pic shows powerful vision for church

Jesus Christ Superstar.jpg

This picture from the Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar by Tony-winning director Des McAnuff (which opened at the Neil Simon Theatre 0n March 22, 2012 and ran for 116 performances) vividly portrays the vision I have for church.

  1.  Jesus is literally with us when we gather in His name, even if we don’t see Him with our physical eyes.
  2. Everybody’s attention is focused on the living, resurrected Jesus in our midst, rather than on a person in a pulpit on a platform in the front of the room.
  3. Everyday people are free to listen to the living Jesus and then to say or do in the meeting,  whatever Jesus tells them to.
  4. Jesus, Himself, directly choreographs the meeting without a human choreographer.

Can the One who choreographs the Universe,
The stars in space,
The electrons in an atom,
The cells in a human body,
Choreograph the members of the body of Christ
When we gather in His name,
Without a human master of ceremonies?

The answer is yes! The real question is “Will we let Him?”

If we let Jesus be our Choreographer, He will take us beyond church as usual. Check out Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible–Ekklesia.”

Posted in Broadway plays, Des McAnuff, ekklesia, house church, Neil Simon, organic church, simple church, theatre, Tony winning director, Uncategorized, vision, where there is no vision the people, young men will see visions | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blessed are the “pour” in spirit . . .

pour out your heart

Blessed are the “pour” in spirit,
Who share from their heart
For they will be healed.
You can listen to lectures
Full of points and principles
Yet your pain will persist.
But when you’re allowed
To openly pour out your heart
To other people who care,
Deep inner healing begins to start.
Your burdens are lifted
As you get things off your chest
And receive love and support
From those who humbly hear your heart.
But where can you pour it all out?
Is there a safe place surrounded by love
And people you can trust
To hear and heal, yet not reveal?
Support groups are good,
Yet, still there’s a risk.
But what if you could share
In the presence of God,
Surrounded by His love
Shinning through people’s faces?
I believe that what we call “church”
Was originally designed
To be a spiritual support group,
Where everyday people
Could freely show and tell
What’s on their heart.
“Confess your faults to one another.”
“Bear one another’s burdens.”
“What then shall we say, brothers and sisters?
When you come together, each of you has . . .”
Something to pour out of your spirit.

Learn more about the pour in spirit by clicking here.

Posted in 1 Corinthians 14:26, 12 step group, AA, AA meetings, Alcoholics Anonymous, bear one another's burdens, bearing with one another in love, Bible quotes, celebrate recovery, Christ-centered recovery, Christian recovery, confess your sins, healing, healing life's hurts, house church, I will pour out my Spirit, Love one another, making church more participatory, Maya Angelou, Narcotics Anonymous, one another, one anothers, organic chruch, participatory church, participatory culture, quote, recovery groups, self-help group, sharing, sharing in church, simple church, spiritual healing, Uncategorized, When you come together | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment