5 ways to recover from hurt in church

Ouch! Even the title of this post is a bit painful. However, if you’ve ever been hurt by church (and/or by people in church) here are 5 things that can help you heal your hurting heart.

1) Forgive. It’s hard to heal when you’re focused on pain. Perhaps the best way to let pain go is to forgive. So what does that mean? Well, it’s not about forgetting. Forgiving is about intentionally giving up any right you feel that you may have to hold anger, bitterness, resentment, disappointment, frustration, or anything else, against any person or any institution. Forgiveness is not a feeling; it’s a decision to give up your perceived rights to judgment, bad feelings, and/or retaliation. Decide to lay those “rights” down, no matter how you feel.

2) Resist any and all the accusations that come to your mind or heart, against the person, persons, or institutions who hurt you. Refuse to let accusations have any place in your words, thoughts, or feelings. When they come to you, say something like: “I gave up my right to accuse anyone about that anymore; so now there’s no room in me for accusations.”  If you will continually resist accusations, they will back away.

3) Begin to pray God’s blessing on the institution, person, or persons who hurt you. Whether you feel like it or not, call their name and ask God to bless them, their health, their finances, their family, etc. Do this every time negative feelings about them come to your mind and gradually those negative feelings will shrink until they vanish.

4) Move on, but don’t just automatically assume that you have to (or need to) go back to another institutional church. Ask God what He wants you to do next and how He wants you to obey Hebrews 10:25 “. . . not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” God may tell you to go to a house church, or to start a worship gathering in your home, or to meet regularly and pray with one or two friends, or He might want you to start a regular Skype meeting with Christians who live away from you, or He might direct you to attend another church. If you pray and listen, God will speak to you and direct you. Then follow His instructions.

5) Learn about the Greek New Testament concept of “ekklesia.” That word was mistranslated into English as “church,” but “ekklesia” actually was the name for the city council in ancient, democratic, Greek city states. Ekklesia was a town meeting where everyone present was considered equal and anyone could speak up and share what was on their heart. I believe Paul was referring to the ekklesia style of meeting in 1 Corinthians 14:26 when he stats that everyone can have something to share in a Christian gathering.

The first few chapters in the book, ONE: Unfolding God’s Eternal Purpose From House To House by Henry Hon, are all about ekklesia. Instead of mistranslating it as “church” ONE uses the word “assembly.”

ONE states: “It is imperative that a distinction be made between the assembly as defined by the New Testament and churches as they are known today.” That distinction can help heal your church hurt by showing you that God has an alternative way of Christians meeting together than what we call church. Get or download a copy of ONE on Amazon and find out more for yourself.

Also, check out my book, Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible–Ekklesia.

church building Melanie's painting

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Posted in bitterness, blame, Bless those who curse you, church mediation, ekklesia, forgiveness, house church, organic church, peace, peacemaking, prayer, reconciliation, resentment, root of bitterness, simple church, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letting church come home

For those who like the idea of house church, but can’t find one and/or don’t know how to start one, there is great news. ONE is really a house church handbook. It’s full of practical and theological ideas about meeting together with other believers in someone’s home.

A lot of people are looking for more than church as usual — and for various reasons. Many people have been hurt by church; some deeply hurt. Others just have an inner longing for deeper fellowship than hearing a sermon together.

But what can people who want something more than church do? After all, there really hasn’t been a good alternative to the traditional church model which is based on passive hearing a sermon.

Well, a great alternative is house church. It’s not just a small version of the traditional one-man-preaching model. House church is much more than that. It is based on a group of people coming together to love, encourage, and support one another in the safety of a home.

It’s like a Christian support group. People come together and share what God puts on their heart. They really get to know one another and learn to truly care about and appreciate one another.

The first Christians met in homes. Going back to worship God in homes can help reconnect us with the roots of our faith and with the risen Jesus who lives in our fellow believers.

So, to learn more get a copy of ONE in paperback or Kindle @ http://amzn.to/2zvVz6H

 Nashville ekklesia

Posted in family gathering, family of God, family time, family togetherness, family values, I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Most Christians have been trained to listen to a preacher, but not trained to listen to the risen Jesus.

When I was growing up in church, I was trained to listen to a preacher, but not trained to listen to the risen Jesus. (If church doesn’t train Christians to listen to and obey the Jesus, who will?) The reality is that if only one person is expected to speak for God (week after week), everybody else learns to be quietly passive.

After years of hearing Sunday sermons, I went to a meeting where ordinary people spoke of their love for Christ. It was in that meeting that I met the risen Jesus! That’s when I discovered that going to church without going to the risen Jesus is just going through the motions.

I used to go with ordinary people on “Lay” Witness Missions in churches and we would all take turns telling how we met Jesus. I love to hear ordinary people speak when they are prompted by the Spirit and tell what God is showing them and saying to them.

Perhaps Christians need a place to go on Sunday mornings that welcomes them as an active participants and not just as passive spectators. A team that only lets one person use his talents limits its effectiveness. So too a church service.

Sermons come from outside yourself, through your ears, and into your brain. However,
Jesus wants to speak directly to your heart! A preacher can lecture you about the Bible, but you’d be better off to spend that time reading it for yourself and letting the living Jesus explain it to you. After all, the Bible does not say, “Let the redeemed of the Lord listen to sermons.” Also, there is no mention of pulpits (or lecterns) in the New Testament.

Church is often like a gym that lectures people on fitness and then sends them home without letting them workout. So, as you sit though church, don’t forget to go to and view the living Jesus and let Him renew you with a spiritual workout. If Jesus is the Head of the church, perhaps we should gather to let Him speak and then everyone say and do whatever He tells us to.

It’s okay to occasionally listen to a spokesman for Jesus, but Jesus also wants to talk to you Himself. Don’t miss out on that! When Christianity presents “Head Talks” it can be informative; but when we present the risen Jesus, He is transformative!

To listen to a talk about a beautiful fountain is okay, but I’d sure rather watch it freely flow. Same with Jesus! Fountains need to freely flow. So do churches. Cut off the flow of either one and it becomes pretty lifeless.

God is my search engine. When I ask Him questions He pops up answers in my heart or leads me to passages in the Bible.

To be a “a hospital for sinners,” church needs to go beyond a sermon and let its members minister to people individually. A church service without room for openness and brokenness is broken.

I believe God is calling church back to its roots — the Greek New Testament concept of ekklesia. Will churches respond? If we won’t make room for the Spirit to birth something new, we may be acting like the innkeeper who had no room for Jesus’ birth.

Is a preacher the only one who can hear God’s voice in a congregation of Christians? He who has ears let him hear. What would happen if we spent as much time in church listening directly to the Lord as we do listening to a sermon?

Since true worship is a heart matter, it can’t be done as a mere duty or obligation. It has to be more than that! To limit God to the limits of a Sunday morning program is to limit God. Dare to let God loose!

Here’s the bottom line:  Christian worship isn’t about watching a religious program. It’s about openly expressing adoration & obedience to the risen Jesus.

Jesus is speaking directly to you; not just to (or through) a pastor. Hear the risen One; not just the one on a platform. Jesus is Lord (Absolute Master). To tell Jesus, “No, Lord;” is to deny His Lordship.

 

Posted in alternative to preaching, homiletics, lay preaching, Lay Witness Missions, lay witness movement, leadership training, nontraditional preaching, preaching without words, pulpit, pulpit ministry, search engine, sermons, Ted Talks, Train yourself unto godliness., Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If it’s harmful, don’t do it. If it’s unkind, don’t say it. If it’s tormenting, don’t think it.

The thoughts and images that you have allowed in your mind were the seeds that produced the way you feel today.

Posted in advice, do it, do the math, Don't be afraid, harmful habit, harmful thinking, power of words, speak the truth in love, tormenting thoughts, Uncategorized, unkindness, wisdom, word of wisdom, words | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be a fruity Christian

There’s no better stuff than the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But you often need to go out on a limb to get it. After all, that’s where the fruit grows. Are you ready to be a fruity Christian?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . .” –Galatians 5:22-23

“Most Christians, after accepting Jesus Christ, spend a lot of effort trying to behave according to what is portrayed in the Bible. They focus on overcoming their sins and failures, and they do their best to be holy in order to have a ‘good’ testimony. Though these efforts seem admirable, they can become a distraction from doing the things that will actually help them grow spiritually. And if they are not growing, then trying to live the Christian life becomes a very frustrating endeavor.”

ONE poster fruit of the Spirit

“Consider the fruit of the Spirit, that is what the Christian life should be. Fruit is just the product of life and growth, not self-effort and work. If believers will focus on the four essentials for life and growth then the outcome, fruit, includes all the things that make a believer become a duplicate of Jesus Christ. A believer with the fruit of the Spirit, as listed, is certainly one with all believers in the body, and a joy for all people to be around.”

The two quotes are from the book ONE: Unfolding God’s Eternal Purpose From House To House by Henry Hon. Get a copy in paperback or only 3.99 in Kindle @ http://amzn.to/2hHg1Kv 

Posted in character, characteristics of a Christian, content of their character, faith, faithfulness, fruity, goodness, joy, kindness, longsuffering, love, patience, peace, self-control, spiritual formation, spiritual growth, spiritual maturity, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Did Jesus establish a democratic *Theocracy?

I believe that what we call church was originally intended to be a democratic *Theocracy — an organic body of Jesus’ disciples, ruled and led directly by the living, resurrected Jesus. Jesus established it by saying, “On this rock (of direct revelation from God) I will build my ekklesia (which is usually mistranslated as church).”

A democratic Theocracy is the kingdom of God. It is God the Father/Jesus/Holy Spirit governing the body of Christ by living inside of and speaking through all of His people. It’s democratic because all can share, but it is Theocratic because people aren’t sharing their own opinions and feelings, but what the living God is speaking inside of them.

God led Israel into the promised land and established them to be a Theocracy — directly ruled and governed by Him. God gave them His law so that they would know what He wanted and He gave them His judges and prophets to rescue them when they got off track and to return their focus to God as their ruler, their invisible King.

Rather than having a national government, Israel was originally established as a loose confederation of tribes to be ruled by the living God, Himself. The tribes were united, not by politics or governmental structures or human hierarchies or a one-man king; but by their commitment to follow the living God as their King and to obey His law.

This made them a very odd country in the ancient world. The almost universal form of government among the ancients was the kingdom — a country or tribe ruled by one man — the king (or the tribal chief). Over several generations, Israel began to ask that God give them a king. God warned them that a king would abuse them and their children and their children’s children, but Israel continued to insist on a king. So God eventually allowed them their desire to be ruled by a king.

A kingdom was basically a dictatorship where one man was the final authority and had no checks or balances. He wasn’t accountable to anyone or anything. If the king’s heart was to do good, a kingdom would experience some degree of justice, however, because the king was human and had his own personal agenda, the justice was always flawed by the kings personal flaws. However, if the king’s heart was to promote himself and his own power, injustice would prevail.

Besides, Israel, I’m only aware of one other ancient country or tribe that didn’t have a king or tribal chief. That was Greece, which was established as a loose confederation of city-states. Originally in Greece there was no strong national government, but each city was a full democracy.

(What we call democracies in the modern world are really republics. In a full democracy, laws and decisions are made by a vote that is open to all of the citizens and there is no head of state. In a republic, however, laws are made by a vote of elected representatives of the people, while daily decisions are made by a chief executive — a head of state.)

The ancient Greek city-states invented full democracy. All the citizens of a particular city were called to gather regularly in an open forum called the ekklesia (city council). In the ekklesia they freely discussed the needs of the city and made decisions by majority vote. Every citizen who wanted to could share his views in the ekklesia.

I believe that one of the reasons that God came in the flesh as Jesus was to establish the kingdom (the direct rule) of God. Jesus said “The kingdom of God is within you.” God wants to rule individuals from the inside out — by His presence living within them and flowing through them, out of their innermost being.

Jesus also wants God’s direct government to go beyond ruling within individuals to ruling His body of believers and and making them the salt and light that influences the surrounding human society toward God and His goodness. That’s why Jesus chose to use the term ekklesia. (His choice wasn’t an accident.)

By choosing that ancient Greek government word, Jesus combined the two forms of ancient government that weren’t human kingdoms, into the kingdom of God. He takes the Theocracy of Israel and the democracy of Greece and unites them as a democratic Theocracy.

In His democratic Theocracy God governs by speaking within the hearts of many people and by promting them to share what He tells them when they gather in Jesus’ name. Unfortunately, church has replaced ekklesia with a hierarchy and attempted to rule over the body of Christ with the human authority of making one man the practical head of a local church while still proclaiming Jesus as the mere figurehead. However, in the body of Christ, the kingdom of God “comes without observation” or pomp and circumstance, because King Jesus rules invisibly from within the various individuals in a gathering of His body, as they humbly obey His internal promptings.

Nowadays, Christ is restoring His democratic Theocracy. The ancient Greek ekklesia met when a herald called the people to gather in the city center. Today the Holy Spirit is heralding for God’s people to gather around the living, resurrected Jesus; to listen to His voice in their hearts; and to say and do whatever He tells them.

After writhing this I went to Facebook and the first thing I saw was this “Memory” that I wrote a year ago today:

“The working of God in and through everyday people is hidden and ignored in church. The living God is doing amazing things in the lives of all of the people present, however, only one person is allowed to speak, while the rest must politely listen. Thus the living message of God speaking through His many people is eclipsed by putting all the attention on the same man, week after week.”

–If you want to know more about ekklesia go to http://amzn.to/2zPlXvt

democratic Theocracy

*I choose to capitalize Theocracy in this post because Theo is the Greek name for God and ocracy is the Greek term for government, making Theocracy mean the government of God.

 

 

Posted in ancient Greece, ancient history, ancient Israel, body of Christ, ekklesia, Greek city state, Head of the church, Israel, On this rock I will build My church, organic chruch, oxymorons, politics, tribes of Israel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lecture-ship or discipleship?

Church has replaced discipleship with lecture-ship. But no discipleship equals no New Testament Christianity!

Jesus came to give you direct access to God. You don’t need a human go-between to lecture you once a week.

Jesus said to make disciples. He never said to make sermon-hearers. 10,000 sermons won’t make you a disciple. You’ve got to stand up, speak up, and live the Gospel! Jesus didn’t say go hear a sermon once a week. He said, “Follow Me.”

church lectureship

Christians sit in rows and hear talks about the Gospel. But why not meet together and actually do the Gospel stuff? Discipleship is not the theology we’ve heard preached; it’s how free we are to flow in obedience with the Holy Spirit.

Discipleship is not about merely instructing the mind. It’s about transforming the heart and the lifestyle!

Discipleship is relational. It must be based on genuine heart connection, not on following a curriculum. Trying to preach someone into discipleship is like trying to preach a non-swimmer into swimming. It takes more than preaching.

Many churches say they believe in “the priesthood of the believer” but then they expect one person to do almost all the ministry. But, why should we expect only one person in a congregation to get a word from God when God is speaking to all?

Faith in Christ doesn’t come through a religious institution. It flows from the heart. So why are churches so against letting ordinary people speak out in worship services?

In the book of Revelation, gatherings of Christians are called lamp stands, not lecture halls. Preaching tells unbelievers about Christ, but once Christ is living in you, you can listen directly to Him and share what He tells you with others!

A Christian & a minister or preacher are the same thing. Christ lives in all His followers, not just in preachers. Let all proclaim His reality. The silence of Christians can keep Christ hidden, but open, heart-felt sharing makes Him known! Perhaps pastors need to recognize that the Holy Spirit can use ordinary Christians to freely speak out in church services.

Some people want to follow Jesus without the Holy Spirit; others without the Bible.
I desperately need both. Many want to ignore the Bible. Some want reverence it. I want to read it & live by it.  Do you want a more powerful message than any preacher can give? Open the Bible, ask God to speak, then read!

When church is lite, it doesn’t make people uncomfortable. When it is light, it does! How can ordinary Christians get in the game and let their light shine, when church has trained them to merely sit on the bench and be lite? Jesus said: “Let your light shine,” not “Let your lite whine.”

Casual sermons produce casual Christians. The fire of God produces spiritual warriors. “Send the fire!”

A gathering of the body of Christ needs input from numerous people, not just from one! (1 Corinthians 14:26) When Christ-followers begin to meet to engage in spiritual warfare as a Spirit-led team, all Heaven breaks out! Church presents a formal talk about the Light. Ekklesia let’s the Light shine.

To claim grace without obedience to Christ is ingratitude and disrespect. Let’s be grateful to Jesus for His free sacrifice for our sins and follow and obey Him with all of our heart!

“To speak the Gospel without attempting to perform the Gospel is a false proclamation of the Gospel.” –William Willimon

“The preaching that this world needs most is the sermons in shoes that are walking with Jesus Christ.” –D.L. Moody

“If Jesus preached the same message minister’s preach today, He would have never been crucified.” –Leonard Ravenhill

Get beyond preaching with Beyond Church available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/2hI2ru9

Posted in body of Christ, Book of Revelation, casual church, cost of discipleship, disciple making, disciples, Gospel, how to be a disciple, Leonard Ravenhill, making disciples, ministers, New Testament, preach the gospel, preacher, preachers, preaching the Gospel, priest, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments