A CLUB OR A FAMILY?
By Tom Lamb- New Zealand
A CLUB OR A FAMILY?
us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
Remain where you are:
You've probably heard the term (especially if you have come out of the Charismatic Movement) ... "grow where you are planted!!" An old time favourite cliché in the organized church, borrowed to obstruct folk from leaving the System. Borrowed because this 'one liner' is as New Testament as it could get:
1 Cor . 7:20. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
This scripture has got nothing to do with staying in your church after you meet Jesus because if your church, or elders, or minister, were dead or blatantly apostate, would it be the dead ministering to the quickened. It is merely Paul encouraging a believer to stay in the natural situations where he was born again at this particular time, like a place of employment or education etc. In other words ... grow where you are already planted!
How many people have got saved in natural surroundings then sent to a "first principles" class at a denomination to get indoctrinated and ended up in a "spiritual" hothouse being groomed as a clone in unnatural surroundings.
In order to be the realist people on earth, Christians by scripture are urged to remain in the real world, minus artificial settings. And this is where the family principle in scripture functions:
11:14. Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou
and all thy house shall be saved.
A family or a club:
There's much said in the secular establishment about being a family. (Isn't it lovely!?) When an organization has to reconstruct (some say, "des-truct") one of the first shock absorbers put in place is the philosophy "we are a family!" Everywhere you turn clubs and organizations are using terms like "family" or "community". Remember when George Bush used the engineered Gulf War to usher in (the term) New World Order? With 'user friendly' terms stamped on it in the form of such catch phrases as "the Community of Nations", "the World Community", "the International Community", the Family of Nations", "the Global Village", etc.? Gives it a human touch, a ring of warmth, such as Glasnost and Perestroika, before the USSR collapsed and yielded to the NWO. Community Policing and Neighbourhood Watch (spying on your neighbours) are other such examples on a smaller scale.
Even schools and boards are declaring they want to operate like a family. What is actually happening is good old valued terms are being redefined to make the New Age more presentable and attractive. By calling a school institution a family is a bit of a check really, as it is blindly setting up in opposition to the traditional family structure which is both biblical and ordained of God. Slowly and stealthfully, unbeknown to many, the God ordained family unit is being eroded and undermined with the prospect of "Nanny" State replacing it.
The established church has lead the way in this mitigating effect for decades, even centuries, by replacing the true church based on the family structure along with it's unique values. This is because the nucleus of the local church was a continuation of God's ordained family unit, whether it happened to be made up off natural blood-stock finding God together, or adopted 'odds and ends' who had met the Lord individually, and found a new home. Look how the book of Acts supports the church as a 'home functioning organism':
Meals and making merry ... breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. (2:46)Also, scripture in general supports home group fellowship:
with the church that is in their house. (1st Cor. 16:19)
and the church which is in his house. (Col. 4:15)
and to the church is in thy house. (Phn. 2)
about the concept of the Pastor? The word pastor (shepherd) is only mentioned
once is the New Testament as a function (not title) within the plurality of an
eldership. The is no "pastor" culture (Nicolaitan concept) or one man bands
in the NT. Elders are not laity but maturity. They are not imports
either. They don't come in (beware of this; Jude 1:19) but are raised from
within, where they have proved themselves accountable and faithful.
A new place:
Let's ignore the word "church" at this stage as this hijacked word has many religious connotations. The New Testament also speaks of Jesus' little flock ... a remnant people, a peculiar people ... a special possession for the Lord's own inhabitant. That's us, His people called out unto a God Who is both our Maker and Father, away from the convention and status quo of the world's system (political and ecclesiastical) to a new found place in the wilderness of refuge and refreshment in Christ. Nothing to do with a pilgrimage to a piece of (apparently now negotiable) real estate in the Mid East. Nothing to do with "going" to the organization down the road. Or eating out of the hat of the latest self-styled teacher/prophet ... Lo here! or, lo there!
other words, the convert's position changes spiritually speaking, the moment he
or she receives Christ as Savour, to a place of divine privilege above the rest
of creation. More special than the beasts of the field and the fowls of
the air. Higher than the angelic. Incredible but true!
Make your heart where your home is:
The principal of the household is scriptural:
Galatians 6:10. As we have
therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are
of the household of faith.
Ever since the Radical Pilgrim came online two years ago, I get countless letters from individuals, couples, and families, who are quitting or have quit "going to church". Many (like we experienced) are going through withdrawal symptoms (old wine - the drug version - hard to kick!) and are looking for some sort of assurance they are not "being unfaithful" or "going into deception", along with the apparent need of being pointed to something palpable and even palatable.
My advice ... forget it!! Also ... forget looking for any "spiritual" adulation and elation! Reason? We have been called to a kingdom without outward observation and a spiritual church whose founder and maker is God. We get the truth by revelation and we live (totally) by faith. Immensely simple and practically practical! Without substitutes! Without tangible trappings! Hard it will be, but very rewarding.
Also quit looking to others for nourishment, or meeting your needs. The Lord as God is our chief nourisher and need meeter, as well as provider and source. It comes back to Him always. Or at least us ... how we are responding to Him! Making it with Him! Relationship! Our communion is spiritually natural and naturally spiritual. Not mystical or abstract in any way. Worked out in real life.
Sure we need fellowship, as fellowship is vital. And scriptural. However, fellowship should not have dogma or cultural conditions place on it. The object of the exercise is to start in the home with your family, staying clean and real, and being totally word based. If increase comes it will be by the Lord and not by programme. That's a guarantee! If you do not have a family then keep hounding someone who is getting on your level. This will provoke and employ them into the scriptures. If they bail out, then and only then, move on.
Remember, the word (the Book) is our bread, and as our spiritual staple diet should be coupled with the cross at the centre when we meet. And by the cross I don't mean a relic, symbol or icon, but the the work our Saviour accomplished on the dead tree.
Singing or prayer
should not be our centre. Let that come naturally. Avoid pump-ups.
Keep everything low key. Avoid "worship"! Now you must be really wondering
where I am coming from? Worship is the way we live and do things.
If it's unto the Lord, for His honour and Namesake; it's worship; unadulterated.
When you try to make it happen, it's a performance! However, above all these
things avoid cliques and exclusiveness. These be they
who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. Go
to places on the odd occasion where someone uses the word authoritatively.
That will be the odd occasion; usually! If the condition is; you must join
him to get the benefits, then that's his problem. Don't be obligated to
man but the Lord. And don't treat your group as the "one and only".
Your true friend may have a doctrine off- key. You may miss a genuine friend
if you cut him off because he does not fit your mould. Remember, the emphasis
is on the word as our base and the cross as our centrality. The third and
only other bare essential is the Holy Ghost who makes all this a reality.
An environment for homechurches:
In regards to the hour in which we live, the advantage believers have above those who stay in the denominations are as follows:
Acts 10:2 ...
with all his house
The Western Conventional Church has had its day, now it is capitulating with every one else to the spirit of the New Age compliance, and is now part of the Super Church, the Great Whore of Revelation. Certain members who are adhering to the simplicity in Christ, are gradually leaving her as they hear the Spirit beckoning ... Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins.
Please check this following website and you will see even established witch covens are being incorporated into this great ecumenical conglomerate.
There is a call to the wilderness, the refreshing
place of God. Where believers are finding the reality of the scriptures,
and learning to put their complete trust in their Provider, who said,
I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
In spirit and in truth:
Have you ever heard the term or been asked the question, "Where do you worship?"
Did you know that when we gather we are not suppose to come together for the sole purpose of worship (leave that to the religionists)!? Nowhere in the New Testament does this notion lend support. You see New Covenant worship is in spirit and in truth. Therefore, everything we do; working, recreational activities, eating and drinking, making love (strictly within the confines of marriage) and of course fellowship, is to be in spirit and in truth. Our lives should be a continual worship unto the Lord. It's our reasonable service.
Just imagine sending your children away to special seminars where they will learn the art of honouring and respecting you with lip and devotional service. Certain parts of the day or week are laid aside where your children can prove their devotion to you by mechanically saying the right things and following the correct procedure:
"Father, this day we are bestowing upon you all the praise due to your name, all the honour you are worthy of, because you have chosen to devote yourself to our well being and upkeep. We hereby praise you from the bottom of our hearts Father! We hereby praise you with the fruit of our lips. This day do we use to pay special tribute, gratitude and respect for the affections you bestow upon us each day. Praise you Father!!" " Now's it okay if we go outside and make mud pies?"
Praise is not simply a word but an attitude with expression. F'instance, if you are introduced to someone's baby while casually passing by do you exclaim, "Oh I praise your child! How I praise it! Praise it! Oh ... hallelujah, hallelujah!!"
No you say, "Oh what a beautiful looking child! Look at it's lovely complexion! He's got your lovely eyes, and your husbands smile, and ... ... !" etc. etc. (thanks Juan!)
You see praise is not mechanical, or empty rhetoric, or even showy. It is not expressed blindly, glibly, superficially, but for a reason. Like spontaneously expressing gratitude for something already purposed, and praising someone for their attributes. David and others did:
Psalms 52:9 I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it
Psalms 118:21. I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
Psalms 139:14. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
Isaiah 12:1 ... I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.
Isaiah 25:1. O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
The following wasn't actually orchestrated either:
Acts 16:23-25. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. Then all heaven broke lose!
The teaching of "praise and worship" based on music, which was introduced through the charismatic movement, then infiltrating most mainline churches, sounds "nice" and scriptural, but is in fact a big con, allowing people to be manipulated through their emotions. This leads to spiritual deception, and in the end, if we continually refuse repentance, God will hand us over to such things as Toronto / Pensacola and New Wave type delusion.
Be careful of music too! In meeting together that is! It is scriptural to sing to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. But this is only a minor part of the New Testament (today it is major and full-on!) with very little scriptural reference. The reason ... it was only part of meeting for uplifting each other unto the Lord. It was never intended to be dominant (don't let me put you off listening for enjoyment sake though) let alone the centre replacing true fellowship. Music has only taken over in recent decades as it is based on vibes and warm fuzzies, usually plus someone's ego.
As far a Christian having a career in music I don't believe the Lord would have a problem, as long as the music was wholesome, provoking or uplifting, and wasn't used as a substitute for true New Testament church.
Things like Worship
Leaders and Youth Pastors are also unscriptural. Sorry about that!!
We come together for fellowship. That's why it is an unstructured 'happening' in the home where there is no pressure to perform. "Going to church" may look impressive but is in fact impersonal, cold, institutionalized gobbledegook. As well as being unscriptural. That's why things have to be up-dated all the time, like cosmetic face-lifts (the new-look auditorium), with the latest and the greatest trends (a clean-look rock band), marketed in such a way to make things look exciting and relevant, and to keep folk involved, so they don't have time or heart to question and break-out. When it is just you and your friends making it with God, you don't need substitutes, the Holy Spirit is sufficient thanks!
A scripture that's quoted many times to lure folk back into the Comfortable Church is Hebrews 10:25:
Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is ...
Now straight away, because of our Westernized mentality, we associate the word assembling with the formal word 'assembly'. Like gathering in a hall with hundreds of others after the school bell has rung. Or mustering on a field military style, after an alarm has gone.
"Assembling yourselves together" simply means coming together at one given, or casual time, like:
... where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Why do we come together? Well, we will have to quote some more of Hebrews 10:25:
... exhorting one another.
In other words, we meet together to encourage one another, taking advantage we are still living in the day of grace. Prodding, provoking, stirring, sharpening and stimulating one another, is all part of it (verse 24). This is spiritually healthy and helps keep us honest, and on our toes.
Titus 1:8 ... a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men ...
This means you can choose your own friends.
Why gather with those who are unruly, or have a competitive spirit? Or be bullied or blackmailed into fellowship? Or why be forced to come together with someone who doesn't like you? You know ... who bring a sour attitude with them. In our meetings we shouldn't have time to get bogged down with trivial irrelevant issues and mumbo jumbo, a slinging match, nor going for the jugular. The object of the exercise is to gather with those who are hungry, whose affections are set on above, who bring no malice with them, so we can uplift one another.
Get this verse ... follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord with a pure heart.
After all ... a little leaven leavens the whole lump.