Faith & Encouragement

I’ll start walking your way…

January 14, 2009

…You start walking mine.

In all of these comments, did anyone stop to consider why I entitled The Most Important Post Evar “We’re All Adults Here”?

See, the way I see it we are each, individually, responsible for our own faith.  I’m pretty sure I’ve got everyone on board with that one.  If you disagree with that, I think you took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and should probably read James one more time.

So… My faith = my responsibility.   Your faith = yours.

Second brilliant and salient point…

There are those within the Body who are older, wiser, more deserving of respect and who are given both the calling and the ability to lead, care-take and uphold those who are, shall we say, not so much of any of the above.

Now here’s where it gets a bit hinky…

Just because someone tells me they are “called” does not make it so.  I believed for years that I was “called” to something specific.  What it is doesn’t matter, here’s my point… The opportunity and fruit were never realized…  No room was made… Guess what?

I get to be ordinary.  Those things I thought to be true were not recognizable to the body of believers I found myself in fellowship with.

Not recognizable.

Yet… Ask anyone who spends any time with me or who has been to dinner at my house and ask them if I am hospitable… Ask my friend Kris if I have ever shared the Word with her and helped her understand.  Have I ever taught anyone?

Those gifts are recognizable.   They swirl around me and create a space that is Heidi Shaped wherever I go.

No vote is necessary.  No committee.  No striving to become.  It’s how I was created to be.   So I am.

When I’m not fighting against it…  But that’s another story.

There is a man I met a long time ago.   Kind,  scholarly,  plain.   He and his family spent 30 years in Honduras, in the mountains,  tending and loving, teaching and guiding a tribal group.   A group that loved them and a group they loved too.  They spent their lives, all the best parts, on this group of largely insignificant, uneducated natives.

And they will shine brighter in heaven than most.  I’m sure.   I was young and stupid when I knew them, but I do remember them as kind and unpretentious and very, very, very real.   Without guile.

That man was an Elder in the faith.   He has gone on to be with the Lord but if he showed up at my doorstep today and said, “Thus saith the Lord!”  I’d hear him.  And I would submit.

Marion and John…  Strong, brilliant and beautiful people who spent every Monday night for a year with a young couple, their infant son and taught us how to love each other and how to live.  Did we listen less because they weren’t “recognized” by the larger community of the mega-church we were attending?

Did the sacrifice of their love, life and guidance mean less or impact me less because we met outside the organized structure?

The strongest accountability and the most tender authority I have ever experienced has happened through those who came along side me, who walked with me when it was dark and who did not shout at me from their lofty position.

Conversely, the strongest demands for accountability and the most crushing power of demanded submission has been from those who have stood in front of the assembly loudly proclaiming what they believed was their “right” to be heard.

Experiential?   A bit.

Is there to be order?   Of course!!!  Should we submit?   Well,  children to their parents,  wives to their husbands and husbands to Christ.

Believers one to another.    Provoking each other to love and good deeds.

To some were given, Farmer Tom quotes from Ephesians 4:11.   Some, not all.   And that means 3 men in a congregation of 50 or 8 in a fellowship of 500?   That’s all?   Those are the recognized ones and therefore given greater latitude and opportunity to speak while the rest of the congregation sits quietly and “submits”?

Six years ago I struggled with a frustration and anger that couldn’t be contained.  I lashed out at my children and husband on a daily basis.   Frankly?  I was a terrible person to be around.

One day, someone spoke into my life.   He spoke this verse, “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.”  Ecclesiastes 7:9.

There were no loud thunderclaps, no bolt of lightening.  No altar call or offering.   Just a quiet voice in the seat behind me.   The car seat behind me.  Between taking bites of Goldfish and shaing his sippy cup.

And it rocked my world.   My 3 year old son spoke the Word and it changed my entire perspective, brought repentance and has changed me.   Irrevocably.

What authority did he have that I should submit to the words he spoke?  That of a fellow believer.

There is no structure, no external force on the planet that would cause an insubordinate heart to bow and no man-made contrivance which would cause you to live more honestly before G-d and man.

If you don’t choose to do so.   Choose.  Free will….   Responsibility.

See, this faith thing isn’t quite at quantifiable as we’d like to believe it is.   Angie and I became friends outside the fellowship we attended.  The church gathering was merely a vehicle to get us in the same room so we could be introduced.   It didn’t make us friends.   That was  a conscious choice we have continued to make for the last 4 years.

I don’t presume to have this thing figured out.   Yes, free-form fellowship gets scary and out of hand and just plain weird. So does organization and ritual.   Be honest.   We all know how we’d like it to be.   I don’t think I’m alone in hoping for a group of like-minded believer who earnestly seek to please G-d, serve each other and to spread the Gospel.   Simple faith.   Strong faith.

Koinonia before eternity.   If there is such a thing.

I’ll ask you this.   When the world ceases to even allow us, those who claim Christ, to meet in our prescribed fashion and we are forced into small groups with no recognizable leader as we meet surrepticiously to avoid persecution and to protect our families and loved ones,  what will remain?

Bi-laws?  Committees?   Denominations?   Bulletins?  Ordinations?   $10,000 chairs? Or will we be reduced to 12 people in a house whispering over the book of John and remembering Esther?  12 people who are less interested in who is in charge and more interested in how to persevere?  Perhaps?  Will we even have a “worship minister” or a  “coffee ministry”.   Those beans need savin’!

Do you think we’ll really still be arguing over Calvinism v. Armenianism,  Saturday v. Sunday,  Torah v. Grace?   Really?    Will we still be throwing  at one another our knowledge of the original languages and pontificating over the finest points of  the Pauline dissertation on Grace?  Pontificating until we slit someone’s throat with one of those finer points…

Really?

Those things have been very important to me in the past.   Very Important.  It was intoxicating, to me, to study and dig and learn and read and when my brain was full to bursting to share my knowledge with whatever poor soul happens to be in my nearest vicinity.   Oh, I could debate and discuss and divide and, and, and…

But it’s not quite as important now.   I don’t really care who is up front.   Just because his name tag says pastor doesn’t mean he’s got one whit of verifiable insight into my life.  In fact, it honestly doesn’t even mean he’s an honest man who would be honorable with the gift of submission and accountability those he fellowships with would give him.   Names on a list mean nothing.

One conversation, one spark of interest, one single handshake and I will take the time to consider.  I will give you a chance or two.   Most often though?   I submit to the believers I know.  Why?   Because I know them to be believers.  Not because they say so but because they show it in their life.  They’ve got fruit.  And I see it, I smell it, I am fed by it.  I like to worship with a group of folks who are engaged in their worship but that doesn’ t mean their faith is “real”  it could just mean the music’s great and the “vibe” is good.

The elders in the early Church were recognizable.   Not just because the committee voted them in or they had a Ph.D behind their name.   The prophets, teachers, pastors, etc. functioned as such whether they were on staff or not.

Can Eaglewood help it when the Lord speaks to him and the Holy Spirit within compels him to act?   And if he could help it, if he chose to quench that Spirit and disobey, would that make the calling less important and needed by the Body?   Can Farmer Tom help it that he sees those younger in the faith and expends  effort and passion seeking to show the truth of the Word clearly and without compromise?

Can Jason help it that he strongly desires to exhort and encourage those around him even at the cost of being excluded and misunderstood?

Yes.   You can all “help it”…  If you want to deny how you were created to be and the calling the Lord has placed on your heart.   If that’s how you want to live…  You can choose.

Of course, it’s not much of a life for a believer…   Just sayin’.

I will freely admit that Men Up Front are about as exciting to me as, well, getting mugged in an Eastern European underground rail station.    I’ve spent my life watching the abysmal performance of men who stood as Leadership. Spiritual Authorities…  Bud Hornback to TMUF.   Meat grinders, all of them.

Men with titles.   Who gives a rip?  I don’t.   I would much rather be surrounded by believers with hearts.  Obedient believers with hearts.   Obedient believers with hearts who aren’t trying to prove to each other how right or wrong we all are.

Am I jonesing for a Love-In?  Get real.

Yeah… That’s what I want.   Just to get real.  In the Body.    What is man’s construct?  What is G-d’s intention?  Why do we try so hard to create our own interpretation?   Safety?   Certainty?

I don’t know a lot.  I look at the last few years of my life and, honestly,  I’m not real impressed with G-d’s performance.    I’m tired.  I’m broken and I don’t have a lot of hope for my future.   It’s been almost a year and a half since I “craved” the fellowship of anyone.   Beyond knowing it’s “needful” I really have no use for more than my husband and children.   I go through the motions, I ask the right questions and make the right noises at all the appropriate times.  Church, as we play it in the modern world, is a game easily played and manipulated.

I think what encourages me the most, from all 43 comments, as of this writing, is that there are still a few people who care enough to have the discussion and seek to encourage, exhort, challenge and even defend the Word.

I applaud you all.   Keep seeking.   Maybe one of us will find the truth.   Hopefully the rest of us will be willing to listen.

  • farmer Tom

    To some were given, Farmer Tom says.

    Heidi, with all due respect, that’s not it at all>

    The biggest problem in the church today and one I see evidenced in this discussion is, …………………………………………..and yes I’ll get there, but be warned, I’m tired of pulling my punches, I’m going to let fly.

    I am an overweight,four eyed, contentious, opinionated, condescending, cantankerous, failed farmer wanna be, who has zero net worth, and a loud mouth. What I say means jack shit.

    I have no more authority, no more discernment, no more knowledge, no more insight, than the neighborhood bum. You should not, in fact can not take my words as being anymore valuable than those of a babbling child.

    Is this clear?? Is this clear?

    Somehow these discussions here and else where evolve into a listing of everyones feelings, opinions, I think, I don’t like, yada yada yada.

    Go look at those posts, how much of it is, I think this or I think that, or so and so said, or history says, or I feel, or my dog said, or I had this vision after I had pizza with anchovies on top.

    Are you ready for the truth?

    I quoted the divinely inspired Word of the Almighty God, given by inspiration to His Apostle. My word means nothing. God’s Word is my final authority for faith and practice.

    It’s in the Book Heidi!!

    I didn’t “say” anything, I quoted the Book.

    You don’t like SOME, take it up with God Himself.

  • My apologies for not properly quoting you… Or quoting you speaking the Word. I don’t have a problem with the Word. I really don’t. I’m not a part of the Emotion Driven Church. Of course, you don’t really know that from only reading on a blog, so I suppose that’s a moot point.

    I’m not changing Scripture, am I? If I refuse to acknowledge much of the Churchianity rigamarole as valid? I’m not despising the Word because I personally am not able to see the justification for what has become common practice. In the New Testament, please correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t the elders and other leaders recognized by the Apostles?

    Which apostle recognized my husband when he was voted in at the last congregation we fellowshipped with?

    Are there modern Apostles? Or apostles. Little a…

    FT, I’m not prepared to go into a lengthy dissertation on the state of my wavering and pathetic faith, such as it is. Hell, I’m not even convinced G-d likes me much less loves me.

    Thank you for speaking the Word. Thank you for not pulling punches.

    But I’m already bleeding on the floor. A kick would have done just fine.

  • As a mater of fact I did. It is precisely why I waited, prayed, and then waded into the conversation.

  • “Can Eaglewood help it when the Lord speaks to him and the Holy Spirit within compels him to act? And if he could help it, if he chose to quench that Spirit and disobey, would that make the calling less important and needed by the Body?”

    I can tell you from experience it is very easy to disobey, quench, and ignore for a time, but the Spirit does not take “no” for an answer lightly and is known to loose the “dogs of war” upon your spirit to get you to listen and act. Your right, it does not make my calling (burden) any less important. It does mean that I can be a stubborn, mule headed ignoramus at times though.

    I found myself in an odd place in that conversation. I, the lone “homeless” prophet stuck in the position of defending (to some degree) the very institution that would have nothing to do with me. The same institution that I have said in the past needs to be shaken to its foundation so that it can see Who the Foundation is. I found myself defending it. It felt odd but I also knew was right.

    I am glad to read that you can see that a leaderless church is like a ship without a rudder. The question I think is important here is what kind of leadership organization is Biblical. Even in your “doomsday” scenario where the church has gone underground there will be leaders. There are people who are “natural” leaders and they will lead and others will follow. That is part of human nature. Division of leadership was one of the early problems the church had to deal with. It will always be somewhat of a problem as long as fallen men are in charge.

    The other thing that is going to have to go away is governmental interference in the operation of churches. My foray into starting a ministry and dealing with non-profit laws and tax exemptions has taught me A LOT. The business structure with boards, directors and such is enforced. You can not incorporate without a board of directors. That makes starting a ministry and following Biblical guidelines more difficult to say the least. In the past following my heart and starting Eagle’s Wings Family Ministries would have been simple. Government interference has made to process indescribably difficult with the hoops I have to jump through just to be able to ensure all the money the ministry brings in goes to helping people. Churches, because they are viewed as non-profit corporations by the government, have to jump through the same hoops. I know that is a little off topic but I think it is important to know where the CEO/Director model comes from.

  • It’s amazing to me how easily my post on “Organic Church” was read into…

    Have I ever stated I wanted a group without leadership? It’s a pretty significant distinction, does everyone think I would assume an extreme paradigm shift without specifically saying so?

    Ok… For the record. Not ok with the complete absence of structure, understands the need, the blessing and the value of G-dly leadership. When I say the “perfect” environment for me, at this point in my life, would be a home fellowship environment with a few people I can trust it’s not an abandonment of the Body Corporate as we know it. In any group there will be those who lead and those who follow. Human nature and all that. Gifts making room, informed recognition of said gifts,etc, etc, etc. If we, this small group of trusted individuals, decided to do a “church plant”, we would decide amongst ourselves who was to lead and how our meeting times would, roughly, look. I just don’t want to further the cause of The Church Machine with all its accoutremont and busyness detracting from real fellowship, real study of the Word, real community. Houses? Why not? Why pay for the building with all it’s needs if you don’t have to?

    My issue, which I have tried and obviously failed to communicate, is that of the division of the Body into “Those allowed to speak” and “Those who must obey”. Demanded submission, closely guarded and prized “authority”.

    I hate being misunderstood. I despise it. It makes me ill.

    I am sincerely looking for scraps here. Reasons why the Body is even worth it. It being my time and effort. Historically, The Body has had very little use for me unless I showed myself as a producer. Sure, I can study the Word alone, exegete, wax long and eloquent. Sure, I can work diligently to understand. My long held and unwavering belief that when I am challenged by something in the Word, I change, the Word remains.

    I’m not confused by the Word, I’m not trying to re-invent or re-define the basics of the Word. I’m trying to find out where I go from here, what that looks like and what is foundational, what is man-contrived and what is purely from a place of fear and the need to control my environment.

    Eagle, I see that there are requirements placed on ministries that are external and to me, fall into the “render to Caesar”, “Obey the laws of the land” type perspective. I think that is an important part of the conversation.

    My question is this… Why do we, as Christian Incorporated, believe we should have the right to be tax-exempt?

  • I may have read TOO much into your posts. I have been known to do that a number of times. Please forgive me.

    I am not sure I really wanted to get into the tax debate but you asked so I will give my two cents worth. I think churches and ministries should be tax exempt and regulation free. Those who are so free with the admonitions about separation of church and state are very vocal when it looks like the state may participate in a religious event, but say nothing when the church is regulated by the state. By requiring a ministry, church, or charity to register (pay a fee), organize in the manner the government chooses, or apply for tax exemption so that they can use the ministries money to the fullest extent it is an intrusion on their first amendment rights. There are other things as well such as hiring practices that are affected. If I do not apply for federal tax exemption then the anti-discriminatory laws will affect my hiring practices. Meaning if I do not hire the atheist applying for a position in the ministry and he is qualified I have opened myself up to a lawsuit.

    It is sort of a damned if you do and a damned if you don’t kind of situation. File for tax exemption and be subject to one set of rules on the structure of your ministry and accounting practices or refrain from tax exemption and be subject to the whims of our enemies that would use it as an opening to shut us all down.

  • I was thinking of leaving it alone, but since it was brought up twice I hafta jump in. There is NO requirement to become a 501c3. NONE ZIP ZERO ZILCH NADA.

    Again there is NO requirement.

    All that 501c3 does is put you under the boot of the state and allows them to dictate what you can say. So far its not too onerous, tomorrow it will be.

    Heidi,

    The Church is tax exempt because it is higher than the State. Just as a State cannot tax the FedGov, neither can the State tax the Church

    for more info see <a href="http://www.churchstarter.com/FAQ.html#Is_filing_an_application_with_the_IRS_for_501(c)(3)_tax_exemption_required_for_churches&quot; and here

    Its a pet peeve of mine. And it silences the church which offends and upsets me.

  • umm

    Trying those links again… here

    And here

  • Jason

    Heidi,

    Excellent post…couldn’t agree more.

    Some people will fight to the end – causing blood and tears – to make sure they are RIGHT, and to prove everyone else WRONG. Even if that means taking scripture out of context and not understanding its true meaning.

    That’s why I listen to God, not man. For God judges the heart, man judges the outward appearance, or what he doesn’t know/understand. My Shepherd is Christ, and my guide is the Holy Spirit. Where they lead, I will go.

    Going to church once a week, submitting to a pastor, taking communion, and tithing 10% won’t get you into heaven. As Isaiah said, “The multitude of your sacrifices – what are they to me?” God wants our hearts, and if we earnestly follow him, our reward will be his Kingdom.

    Heidi, listen to no one except God. He’s the only one who can search your heart.

  • Listen to G-d….

    Yeah… Working on that one.

  • It is interesting to see the two sides that have arisen. One one side we have those who generally identify with the libertarian philosophy who are defending a more-or-less centrally administered church (Myself, FT and I think Eagle as well) and and I am gonna make an assumption here but I assume that Jason and Rick would identify themselves as conservatives who would go for central administration in the political realm, but a nearly pure libertarian view of church/religion. This is something I will have to ponder (Jason & Rick, are you conservatives?)

    Also, another thing to ponder… Which of you (everyone) believe in Sola Scriptura?

  • Erik,

    Thank you for that information. Too bad my ministry is not a church. It is a charitable ministry which falls under the guidelines as a non-profit corporation.

  • Erik,

    Yes I am libertarian, and I believe in a biblical model for the leadership in a church body. Do I believe that there should be a spiritual head of each church body? Yes I do. But not one who is uncountable to the body. He is a guide, or teacher but not a ruler. Much like the husband in a family.

    Yes I do believe in the final authority of the scriptures.

  • Jason

    Erik,

    To be honest, I don’t like labels. I am who I am.

    I believe the Scriptures are from God, but I don’t agree with the “one-man” leadership structure. Leadership should be shared by a group of people, rather than one person with a CEO-type title. And no, I still don’t agree with it even if there is an elder board or council that oversees the pastor. There should not be one person who is singled out as the “priest” or “leader” of a group. That burden should be shared and carried, again, by a group of elders. If power is given to a select group of people, power is taken from the body as a whole.

    The problem wit a spiritual head of a church body is that we expect that person to be a pastor, teacher, administrator, prophet, evangelist, apostle, and counselor all in one. I have yet to see of any pastor that possess all of those qualities, and the Bible clearly says that…”Some are given to be apostles, pastors, evangelists,” etc.

    If all the gifts within the body were realized and used effectively, what’s the point of having one person in charge of a body? We should all collectively represent the body in the community, not just one man.

    We agree one one point: leadership within the body is essential. But we disagree on what that should look like. Leaders should be servants, not those who have titles because they can speak well behind a pulpit and perform well in a job interview.

    One more thought…when a group of people are sitting in a building listening to a worship team and then one man teach, where’s the intimacy? Where’s the fellowship? Where’s the one-on-one interaction? And I don’t believe small or home groups are any more effective. The function and look like a smaller version of the larger gathering. Been there, done that.

    As for Sola Sctriptura…no, I don’t believe in it because it’s based on a system that is pagan in its roots and was developed out of a religious system…not God.

  • Jason

    One question…

    I’m curious why so many Christians worry so much about the leadership structure? Are we more worried about ourselves and our own faith, or is it that we’re more concerned with everyone else?

    Leadership is rarely about serving…it’s usually more concerned with controlling.

  • Erik, I just ran for Secretary of State in Oregon as a Republican. I live in Springfield/Eugene which is a highly liberal area. I worked in Television News for 23 years as a Journalist. During my campaign I wasn’t Republican enough for my party and I’m not liberal enough to be a Democrat. I personally still believe in the power and voice of the people. Conservative: Probably. I don’t want government involved in my life but believe I should carry a gun if I want, that police are good guys (for the most part) and that we should take care of those around us. So there I sit Erik, in no mans land. I’m a registered Republican if that’s what you are asking.

    Farmer Tom: You are quick to judge Heidi’s thoughts and her heart. Right off the bat in your post you say she’s wrong. Someday, God may show you that you may not know as much as you think you do. After all, God can remove and allow blinders where He chooses and we really don’t know when they’re on or off do we.

  • As for leadership structure. It’s right there in the Bible. Jesus Christ is the head of THE CHURCH. If He chooses to tell me something He knows how to find me. I don’t need a priest or pastor to do my dirty work. He also will and has found spiritual authority for my life. Imagine that? I didn’t even have to go to a building to find it.

    Heidi, I think your post is great. Remember, God will show you the way. Sometimes He uses men (and women) to guide you but He’s the one we need to depend on and listen to. The church is still the bride and God is in the process of Bleaching her, to whiten her up so she will be as white as snow. But remember the remnant is small. The institution (as it’s written in the word) is not going to take God’s side. It never has and it never will.
    Love yah

  • Oh, Erik, Just so you know I lost the election but won the battle. God is good.

    When I refer to Institution I speak of the religious spirit that seems to have a stronghold on the club.

  • Eaglewood, I like your 8:22 post. I get what you’re saying and see it almost the same way.

    I wonder that in the near future, non-profit status for churches will disappear and then what will happen? I think it’s coming I really do. Personally, I think it would be the best thing for the church. We’d have to become the church not a business.

    I know I write lots of short responses but that’s because I have to read these posts one at a time.

  • farmer Tom

    I’m curious why so many Christians worry so much about the leadership structure?

    I gave a vague answer to this earlier, but let me elaborate.

    A little family history.

    My grandparents left a main line Protestant denomination in the middle to late fifties. The reverend denied the virgin birth from the pulpit. They walked out and never went back. Their oldest son had already joined with a group, that claimed be just like the early NT church, no leader, no building, no name for the group, just a (as they put it) assembly of Believers gathered in Jesus name. Now I have no problem with that idea in principle, cause after all they were following the Biblical pattern right?

    The next three of my grandparents children joined themselves with independent Bible Believing Churches, there is even a group that goes by a moniker similar to that.

    The two youngest (including my Dad) followed my Grandparents to the other end of the street in town and joined to a independent ______ Church with strong Fundamentalist ties.

    Now, 60 years later what are the results? Same parents, all of the children made professions of faith, claim the name of Jesus Christ. How has their choice of “churches” affected their lives and families?

    Start with the youngest. One was a missionary. Both totally committed to Jesus Christ, all of their children not just believers, but committed Christians as well. Several in full time service as pastors or missionaries.

    Middle three, all living as committed Christians. Two of the three had very large families, nineteen kids from three families, two of the three were missionaries, the other was in full time ministry. In the third generation two divorces, several (four to my knowledge) of the fourth generation not living for the Lord. But since they had the largest families, the rate of failure to follow in the spiritual path of the parents is small, as a percentage of the total. Most of the fourth generation as well are now committed Christians living faithfully for the Lord.

    The oldest son, and his unorganized church. His term not mine. Farmed for a while, was a missionary for a while, spent the last years of his life being the teaching elder in more than one “assembly”. Sent most of his kids off to boarding school while on the mission field. At some stage in their life three of the six children were not living for the Lord or were at best simply going through the motions. One divorce out of six kids. The third generation at least 3 out of 12 are now in open rebellion to the gospel, and living as the ungodly.

    Now I’ve been very vague as to denominations etc, but from my personal experience, based on a family history of divergent methods of local church ecclesiology, how we “do” church has a direct impact on the future generations.

    Now I am fully aware that I just gave an opinion. And I am equally sure that someone will have a story to contest my opinion or an anecdote which makes my opinion seem silly/foolish, fine, I can deal with that.

    But the answer to your question Jason is this, As the Body/Bride of Jesus Christ, we are His representatives on this planet for His glory and His alone. How we do “church” is a public example of how the Body functions. If the Body fails to function in a manner that glorifies Jesus Christ then we bring shame to ourselves and our Savior. Since witnessing to the lost, including our own children, is part of our responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ, we had better do “church” in a manner that is consistent with God’s revealed Word, and effectively communicates the Truth of that Word to the lost, including our children.

    And in my opinion, from personal experience, I can state with confidence that the “unorganized” “church” structure is not conducive to fulfilling that responsibility.

    Remember, and I quote again from Ephesians 4.

    11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

    12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

    13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

    14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

    15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

    16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

  • As for Sola Sctriptura…no, I don’t believe in it because it’s based on a system that is pagan in its roots and was developed out of a religious system…not God.

    Okay, I think I am actually confused by this statement. Believing that the Bible is final arbiter is basic theology, at least for Protestants. I suppose that if you are catholic then I could understand that statement (tho I would disagree) This statement baffles me. What do you mean by it?

    Immediately preceeding that statement you state when a group of people are sitting in a building listening to a worship team and then one man teach, where’s the intimacy? Where’s the fellowship? Where’s the one-on-one interaction? And I don’t believe small or home groups are any more effective. The function and look like a smaller version of the larger gathering. Been there, done that. What do you propose is the solution to believers meeting together? Certainly a leaderless/rudderless group is not profitable, but what else is there? As I do believe in Sola Scriptura some Scriptures would be nice.

  • “But the answer to your question Jason is this, As the Body/Bride of Jesus Christ, we are His representatives on this planet for His glory and His alone. How we do “church” is a public example of how the Body functions. If the Body fails to function in a manner that glorifies Jesus Christ then we bring shame to ourselves and our Savior.”

    Boy Tom there’s a loaded statement. I think we found something we can agree on. I wonder what Jesus thinks of the way the church functions right now. Do we bring shame or glory to God? That’s a great question.
    The good news is He is purifying His bride. I can’t wait to see what she looks like so that she will bring glory to the father. The day is coming but it probably won’t look like we think.

  • Yikes! My head is exploding!! Too many things to think about.

    My only little brief comment is that we keep talking about “The Man Up Front” as if preaching is his only job, and that he is the final authority on everything. That’s one model, but it’s not the only model. My pastor spends about 20 minutes a week, and works 50! Of course there isn’t a lot of intimacy from the pulpit, but that’s not all he does. He visits the sick and housebound, he counsels those in need, he provides input but NOT leadership on different ministries in the church, he moderates the board of elders but THEY vote on the decisions as he has no vote, he calls on people who are new to the church, he teaches a small-group Bible study, he continues his own study of Scripture, he spends one-on-one time with various members of the church for various reasons — in other words, he MINISTERS. He serves, as a leader should. I like this model. It sort of reminds me of Jesus: preaching in the temple, preaching to the multitudes, but spending time with the sick and crippled, spending time with those who are in need, spending time with the disciples, MINISTERING.

    As for the whole question of “authority”, I always remember that people said about Jesus that they listened to him because “he taught as one having authority.” He is our ultimate authority; and people can only have limited authority over us (actually, only the authority that we give them) because everything they do has to be checked against the authority of Jesus.

    Heidi, I ache for you for the incredibly harrowing experiences that you went through in the former “fellowship” that you were in. I pray for your healing and for you to find true loving fellowship with humble and compassionate believers. I believe that G-d has given you many gifts, and I grieve that these gifts were stifled in your experience. I would love to be a part of any table where you sit, and to pray, sing, eat and laugh with you.

  • Oops, that is “he spends 20 minutes a week PREACHING and works 50 HOURS a week”…my proofreading skills weaken as it gets later!

  • Oh, and one more thing: This is absolutely correct:
    So… My faith = my responsibility. Your faith = yours.

    It goes back to Romans 14:4 — ) Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

  • Sparrow,

    That brought some perspective to the position of Pastor. Thanks.

    And I had stated how it is important to know Jewish history in the previous post. On your quote “he taught as one having authority.” there is interesting backstory to that quote. The Rabbis always taught by quoting others. “Rabbi Yoseph said this, Rabbi Shlomo said that” Jesus did not teach that way. Jesus said things like “Ye have heard it said [X] but I say unto you…” The rabbis did this to protect themselves from teaching wrongly. Jesus of course had no such worry and taught not with hedging but with a surety that comes from a commanding understanding of the subject.

  • One thing to consider in all of this, is that besides the true spiritual authority that I think most acknowledge to one degree or another, there is also a strong false authority movement afoot in many churches. Called the apostolic-prophetic movement, the witness of the Spirit to my spirit is that this is not Godly in origin at all, but is part of the scheme of the enemy in these last days.

    There has been a surge of overemphasis in many parts of the body on “submission to authority”, and in a time when deception grows daily stronger, I believe this is a time bomb waiting to go off. The authority of “leadership” is raised over the authority of the Spirit and the Word.

    Remember there is to be a great apostasy ahead of the coming of the Lord, and I do not believe this refers to the secular world, but will occur within the Church itself.

    In consequence of this, and some negative experiences I had a few years ago, I have pulled away from the church I used to attend. And I have not been convicted by the Lord for this, on the contrary I had a rather interesting word from Him: He told me he was giving me an “authority of one”, meaning essentially what some of you have said–I am in authority over no one, and none are in authority over me, save for He himself. I answer to Him and He guides me directly. It is both a greater burden and a lesser blessing than being plugged in to a true and faithful authority structure, but at least in my case it is necessitated by the times.

  • Desert Cat, I am all ears right now. What is the Apostolic-prophetic Movement? I have not heard of it.

    Aside from that part of what you said, because I don’t understand it, the rest of your post made my spirit leap inside.

    I see exactly what you are talking about but didn’t understand it. I too believe God has told me there is only one authority in my life and that is God. The institutional church lovers like to hold the authority thing over your head to keep the club going. I think God is going to shake up the church to clean it up and get us back to doing church work rather than being a giant social organization that hides behind God.
    The enemy is smart. He knows you don’t fight from the outside but instead you go inside.
    The problem is when you start talking like this (watch the posts that follow) those in the institutional church try to discredit you. They toss scripture at you to try and shut you up.
    So many, just quietly do church, the way God tells them while the rest of the organization moves from building to building trying to find a place they fit. Good luck. If you read the Bible and see how Jesus lived you begin to realize “YOU WON”T FIT”. Instead as Oswald Chambers puts it “you will have a White Funeral” where you realize you are dead or dying and nothing matters (you stop caring what people say) but what God tells you.
    Desert Cat, you struck a nerve with me. (in a good way) It’s so frustrating to be in this place, where Heidi and many of us find ourselves.
    Your words excite me because I do believe God loves His church so much that He won’t allow it to keep going as a business. Perhaps He doesn’t want it to be acceptable. Christianity, perhaps, has become too acceptable and social and the original design evoked death and anger.
    I see a day when the craftsman style buildings we call church will be taken over by groups and made into halls for the homeless or office buildings and the church will have to meet in secret.
    It’s time we as the church stop trying to market God. How do you market a faith that says ” to be a Christian means you won’t be liked, you have to die to yourself and allow some guy you have never seen and can hardly hear take over”. “You may loose everything, your family quite possibly will hate you and all that you have come to depend on gets to go away”. Who is going to join that organization?
    Instead we create something that looks acceptable and then wonder why it doesn’t stick for most people. We wonder why they get bored with the phony and leave for another church or feel like God left them with no ticket at the bus station.
    It’s time the church get back to what it was. It’s time we as believers stop pretending we have something to sell and instead love God and people to death.(in that order)
    Say what you want. Hide behind what you think you know. If we are honest with ourselves none of us has a clue. So, tuck your books, your scripture and your Sunday School lessons back in your Bible, get on your knees and, as I will also do, ask God to forgive me for my arrogance and show me HIS Authority in my life and which direction He wants me to go. Some will be in the institutional church and some won’t. But in the end it’s really no one’s business but Gods.
    Thanks for allowing me this rant. It’s the most honest I’ve been in a long time. Desert Cat, God used you today to liven my wire. Bless you.

  • Rick,

    Here-Here.

    When I hear someone talk like this it confirms I am not crazy. I had always contended that I was not the only one G_d was talking to about this but when it seems like I am the lone voice in the wilderness sometime I begin wondering about my sanity.

    I too am interested in information on the Apostolic-prophetic Movement. I have never heard of it before. I know G_d has specifically called me as one of His prophets for this age. I would love to know what this movement teaches though, because I consider myself a defender of His Truth and His Word. I want to see His Church return to its true Love.

    Thank you for your transparency Rick.

  • Rick,
    I like to do a little bit of research myself. This blog may give you some info.

    http://spiritoferror.wordpress.com/

  • Google is a great resource, and I’m pleased to see that near the top of the list is one of my trusted authors Holly Pivec. Start with her blog and then peruse the rest of the links, and by the time you’re done you’ll know more than me.

    My experience is more limited, because I fled as soon as I smelled the stink of apostasy creeping in. My parents encountered the early vestiges of this movement many years ago at a “school for the prophets” seminar in Florida. It turned out the power they were involved with was demonic to the core, and they’ve been very sensitive and aware of this…”thing” ever since. They left our church about a year before I did, based on what they were beginning to see in the prayer ministry they were deeply involved in.

    I left my leadership role in the missions outreach program I was involved in when they began pouring on the “submission to authority” stuff pretty heavily, requiring signed statements of obedience to legalistic checklists–nothing really out of line, but it felt wrong to me. And it followed on two years of being left hanging out to dry time and again. I couldn’t sign. I felt a check in my spirit and left that day without renewing my commitment.

    My wife, who is a free-spirit, was not going to be dissuaded so easily. She continued, moving into a new position on the worship dance team, until about a year ago they cranked the notches tighter, requiring signed statements of obedience not just of leadership roles, but of everyone serving in any role in any ministry. As soon as she signed it, the leader challenged her with a completely silly requirement–buy a certain expensive bag from a certain online company to hold her dance equipment she toted to and from church, as an act of obedience to authority…or else leave. She finally saw the light. Their goal was to crush her spirit, and she’s been bitter and broken about it ever since. She *loved* dance worship–it was her God-made mode of loving expression to the Father, and her modality of spiritual warfare.

    And it was ripped from her. By the exercise of false spiritual authority.

    My last straw (I had been attending long after I left my ministry role) was a sermon given by my pastor and his wife that never once referenced the Word, but was all about their experiences at the recent conference they had attended and the new apostolic roles they felt God was placing them in.

    “Whoops. I know where this is going. Too bad, too. This has been a great place to worship and serve for many years. But I have to leave now…”

  • I too believe God has told me there is only one authority in my life and that is God.

    And there is no conflict between this belief and submission to true spiritual authority within the larger body of Christ. Here’s Why:

    It is not to the “man up front” that we are to submit, but to the Spirit of Christ that dwells within him. And we are not left helpless on earth! We too have that same Spirit of Grace indwelling us, and through it we may recognize Christ in others. It is why we are told to submit to one another–NOT to our human, failed selves, not to secular, human authority structures, but to the Image of the Living God indwelling our fellow believers.

    I do think there is a role for the “man up front”–IF he is one who has died daily, for years, and is a more transparent vessel for the image of Christ. THEN his authority is true and recognizable and we are blessed spiritually by submitting to it. To the degree that he is human and acts from his natural, fallen nature, we are not obligated to submit. Though we may yet, for a time, out of peace and to pray for his reconciliation in those areas where he himself has yet to submit to the authority of Christ that is over him.

    But you see, the farther we have gone away from true spiritual worship and an assembly of believers rooted in this principle, the more the human leaders of our institutions would like to have us believe that it is their secular, human organization that carries the spiritual authority of Christ.

    It ain’t necessarily so.

    Don’t let anyone convince you that bale of wheat straw is really spun gold!

  • Rick,

    I whole-heartedly agree with your statement about the church trying to be acceptable. I have a long standing rant about the church having lost its saltiness. We try to be cool and “relevant” but what we end up with is a pretend church that is worthless to the people and that reason is why the church has no influence.

    If the church started just preaching the Word of G-d then the power would return because the power is in the Word of G-d and not in the marketing of it. Want to reach out to the youth? Stop with the plays and lights and smoke and get back to the actual word. Sure you will lose kids at first but those that remain might get saved and have their lives changed. And what is more important than that? Want to reach adults? Preach the word. Stop with the gimmicks. Lives won’t be changed in a feel good ear-tickling service.

  • Jason

    Tom,

    I’ll be honest. It’s hard to want to engage with you or answer questions based on your abrasive, judgmental attitude. With comments like, “I’ll slap you,” in one post, and then telling me last year in a debate with you that “I’m handing my kids over to Satan for putting them in public school,” just about does it for me. I don’t know you personally, but at least in the blog world, your behavior stops way short of being Christ-like. But who am I to judge a man’s character solely from the blog world?

    Your history about your family struck a chord with me, so here goes…

    That’s your experience. Mine? Completely different. Just because you attend church doesn’t guarantee squat about someone’s salvation or walk with God. In fact, statistics prove that upwards of 88% of churched kids (who attended youth group) end up walking away when they become adults. That’s a great track record for the church, isn’t it? Something isn’t right with this picture.

    I come from a family of pastors and the dysfunction that I’ve seen and experienced and watching those not walk with the Lord is abundant. Why? Because the mentality was about the traditions of church, putting on your Sunday best, and being prim and proper. There was no room for grace, no room for the messy realities of life. Don’t tell me going to church automatically means anything.

    My mom was abused by pastors in the church. To this day she can’t stand to enter a church or look at a pastor. It takes her back to the shame and pain she dealt with. I used to judge her for it. I told her she needed to get right with God and go back to church. Guess what? She lit into me on day and said, “How dare you judge me. How do you know what my relationship with God is like? I pray every day. I talk with God more than you’ll ever know. I believe what the Bible says. Not everything in life is what it seems.”

    I felt horrible. I didn’t understand her circumstances and I judged her for it. I don’t care if my mom ever goes to church again. She’s a broken vessel with a past that will probably haunt her for the rest of her life. Life isn’t perfect. She won’t see full restoration until she goes to be with Jesus. Oh, it’s easy to say, “Just get over it.” But for those of us who have never been abused, we don’t understand.

    I had the greatest conversation with my mom a few months ago, and I apologized for what I did several years ago. I explained to her my thoughts and feelings about church now and that I don’t believe church is a requirement (as we know it today). It opened up a place in our relationship and I’ve talked about more deep, spiritual things with my mom recently than ever before. What I didn’t see before was a woman who loved God, but was hurt by God’s people. She doesn’t stay away from the church because of God, she stays away because of the hypocrocy and control of many leaders. Do you really think God’s not going to let her into heaven because she doesn’t go to church? Please! Do you know why she opened up to me? Because she used to view her own son just like every other pastor. Now she sees me as someone who loves her no matter what. That to me was the greatest lesson about what true love in Christ is all about.

    Secondly, I met Rick several years ago and we formed an incredible friendship. Rick helped to encourage and counsel me about things I had been struggling with in my life for years. We have what I call, a true brotherhood. He understand me, and I understand him.

    He is a prophet who spoke into my life and helped me in areas where no one else could. God gave him visions that brought healing and restoration to my life. He is my overseer/pastor. Not because he holds that title, but because I can trust him. He is there to serve me and help guide me; but above all, he sees me as a friend. And he doesn’t look for or even need the title of overseer in my life. He just is.

    I’ve grown more in the last 3.5 years than ever before. I see God more clearly, I’ve been freed of certain bondage, and I’ve seen God at work like never before. And guess where it all happened? Outside the church in an unorganized fashion. No liturgy, no agenda, no five-point sermon, and no pleading to get involved. With Rick, I have true fellowship and true accountability, and I’ve experienced “church” like never before.

    The accountability and friendships I have around me are my anchor. The true friends, those I love and trust; those who I’m more that willing to submit; those who have my best intentions in mind, aren’t in the institutional church I attend. They are all around me and the hedge of protection I feel is so much greater than anything I’ve ever experienced inside the four walls of a building.

    Not everything in life is as black and white as you’d like it to be.

  • Jason

    Tom, you keep going back to Ephesians 4. I think a little context is important. He was writing to a bunch of Gentile people who had been brought up in a pagan culture, full of idols and sexual debauchery. He’s not only trying to reiterate to the them deity of Christ in Ephesians 1, but he’s also explaining what some of the gifts are.

    Some were given to be apostles, pastors, etc. That “some” doesn’t mean a select chosen few as in leadership like we think today. Paul was simply pointing out that he wanted the Ephesians to recognized their gifts. Hence the reason for saying earlier in chapter four that, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

    You can’t just quote Ephesians on its own without other verses in the Bible. There are many other gifts within the body like those who encourage, are hospitable, givers of money, etc. Paul never makes a distinction that being a pastor is more special or an elevated position, compared with someone who is hospitable.

    Notice the plural form of all of those words. Paul’s letter is written to one church. What does this tell us? Paul is saying that within the Ephesian church (one group), there are many apostles, many pastors, many evangelists. He never once points to one person, or a seven-member elder board as the place of leadership. He is essentially telling the people to recognize their gifts so they can do the work of the body in an organized fashion.

    Being organized in the body, as you mentioned Erik, isn’t about sitting in a service. If God’s people took the time to truly understand their own gifts and how they are to function within the body, God’s Spirit would lead and direct us. That’s why we should look at Christ as the head of the church, not one man.

    Oh, and term Bishop? Completely Pagan: Bishop comes from the Greek word episkopos (ἐπίσκοπος, from ἐπί “over” and σκοπός “seeing”) which can be translated overseer, superintendent, supervisor, the first, leader or foreman.

    Tom likes to us this as proof that since Bishop means overseer, and a Bishop was known as a leader within the church, that confirms the one-man pastor leadership model we see today. On the contrary.

    Bishop is not a biblical or spiritual term. Bishops were those in Roman culture who were overseers of the courts, the temples (where idol worship took place), and the in civic life. It had nothing to do with anything Godly. Again, Constantine was the one who instituted this position within the church, even giving early Bishops political authority.

    Our interpretation of pastor/overseer/teacher is based on this false assumption. Not the fact that there are many with one body, one group of believers, who possess these gifts. Their purpose is to edify the body and help other believers realize their gifts for what? To feed the hungry, help the poor, take of the widows and oppressed.

    I have yet seen any evidence, scriptural or otherwise, the proves the one-man leadership model. Where in the New Testament does this exist?

  • The verbosity of this thread overwhelms me…

  • farmer Tom

    Heidi,
    I am vexed by your lack of a preview option. As an ignorant farmer, it is difficult for me to rewrite, adjust, revise and reorganize my writing when can only see a small portion of it at a time.

    BTW, I’m really enjoying this exercise in defending my belief system from Scripture, nothing like asking good questions to make ones mind work.

    Jason,

    I am very pointed in my discussion here and everywhere, I’ve lost a least one business deal because I refuse to couch my position by using weasel words, and obtuse language. I strongly dislike endless verbosity which usually results in opinions and discussion amounting to cotton candy, lots of empty hollow words. (I’m not accusing you of this.) So my personal style is to do this, Matthew 5:37

    “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

    Now that ruffles feathers. Cause in our culture if you don’t affirm every persons opinion/babbling as valid, you are considered harsh, judgmental, full of anger, hatred and intolerant.
    So you have a right to your opinion, if I disagree, I will tell you no holds barred, cause I will not “moderate” my tone for anybody.

    Enough about my style.

    You said, He was writing to a bunch of Gentile people who had been brought up in a pagan culture, full of idols and sexual debauchery.

    And today is different how?

    Now for something serious. It is obvious that you have done some study of the Word. The question is your ability to take what you have read/studied and make logical sense of it.

    A lesson in logic sir.

    episkopos

    What does this Greek term mean and what did it mean in 62 -66 AD when I Timothy was written?

    What did it mean in 100 AD at least 100 hundred years before the dreaded Constantine came on the scene??

    I’m sure this line of reasoning may be hard for you to do, since you are making your argument based on the idea that Constantine screwed up the “real” church, but try anyway.

    What does episkopos mean?

    episkopos

    1) investigation, inspection, visitation

    a) that act by which God looks into and searches out the ways, deeds character, of men, in order to adjudge them their lot accordingly, whether joyous or sad

    b) oversight

    1) overseership, office, charge, the office of an elder

    2) the overseer or presiding officers of a Christian church

    Now if the word had a meaning prior to Constantine’s existence, can you logically say that Constantine made it up? Can you blame Constantine for a pre-existing term, and for it’s meaning?

    Now going back to Ephesians 4,

    What does the Greek term poimēn mean?

    What did poimēn mean in 60 – 63 AD when Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians??

    What did it mean in 100 AD at least 100 hundred years before the dreaded Constantine came on the scene??

    So what does poimēn mean?

    poimēn

    1) a herdsman, esp. a shepherd

    a) in the parable, he to whose care and control others have committed themselves, and whose precepts they follow

    2) metaph.

    a) the presiding officer, manager, director, of any assembly: so of Christ the Head of the church

    1) of the overseers of the Christian assemblies

    2) of kings and princes

    Now pay attention, this is extremely important.

    Paul an Apostle of Jesus Christ writing to the church at Ephesus said the following,

    11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

    then and this is key, that same Apostle Paul wrote a letter to his son in the faith Timothy. And said,

    1 This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

    Do you know where Timothy was at Jason? Timothy was in Ephesus!

    Since we seem to be having communication issues let me make it very plain. I’m copying the definitions directly from above.

    episkopē 2) the overseer or presiding officers of a Christian church

    poimēn 1) of the overseers of the Christian assemblies

    Can you see any similarity? Is it possible that the Apostle Paul, (according to Peter, Paul was writing under the direction of the Holy Spirit), long before the dreaded Constantine was on the scene, used two words,
    episkopē and poimēn when writing to the believers at Ephesus and a man from that body Timothy which mean the same thing?

    Coincidence, I don’t think so.

    Further more, in all this discussion, not once has anyone bothered to mention, (for my part purposely), that the I Timothy passage does not just indicate an individual within the body equal to all the rest of the body. It says the “office of an elder”. Oh and the Ephesians passage “the presiding officer”. (see word definitions above)
    Notice poimēn“the presiding officer” and episkopē “presiding officers”. What does presiding mean? Dictionary.com

    pre⋅side
     1. to occupy the place of authority or control, as in an assembly or meeting; act as president or chairperson.

    Now maybe the term office/officer doesn’t mean anything to you, maybe when an “officer” of the law tells you to pull over, you just keep on driving, because as citizens we are all equal after all, no man has authority over you! Right?

    Think I’m making a big deal out of “office”? Read the rest of the I Timothy 3 passage, the term is used at least three times, the other 2 referring to the office of the deacon. And in verses 4,5 and 12 he compares one who “rules” proïstēmi to “be over” his own house to one who “takes care of” the church.

    So we see that there is a specific office, an overseer, who’s job is to care for the church, to in fact, preside over, rule over, the church.

    rule
    proïstēmi

    1) to set or place before

    a) to set over

    b) to be over, to superintend, preside over

    c) to be a protector or guardian

    1) to give aid

    d) to care for, give attention to

    1) profess honest occupations

    You said,

    Again, Constantine was the one who instituted this position within the church, even giving early Bishops political authority.

    Our interpretation of pastor/overseer/teacher is based on this false assumption. Not the fact that there are many with one body, one group of believers, who possess these gifts.

    Care to retract that statement?

    What is the theme of I Timothy, Jason? What was Paul telling his son in the faith? Do you know what the key verse in I Timothy is? This letter was written and I quote Paul in I Timothy 3:15,

    But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

    Paul told Timothy, Son this is how you “do” church, see everything from chapter 1 thru chapter 3 verse 13.

    Want a summary? avoid creating questions vs.4, avoid false teachers, vs.7, obey the law,vs. 8-10
    and be thankful for the grace of God, vs. 9-17 fight a good fight, vs. 18-20, chpt 2. pray for everyone even those in authority vs.1-2, praying to the end that all men would be saved because of the work and grace of Jesus Christ, vs.4 -8, the role of women in the church, and why they were not to usurp authority over the men vs.9-15, chpt 3. Establish two offices within the church, pastor and deacons vs, 1-13.

    What to know how to “do” church. Paul told Timothy how to “do” church.

    Now all this was written at lest 150 years before Constantine was born. Give it up Jason, you are buying a line of reasoning from some book you read which is logically invalid. It’s wrong.

    Try instead basing how you “do” church on the revealed Word of God.

  • Jason

    Tom,

    You are in grave error.

    If you had the slightest understanding of history you’d realize that the Roman culture was alive and well during biblical times. This “Bishop” concept was always there, before and after Constantine.

    Given Paul’s Jewish background and culture, he would NOT have used a Greek term like Bishop when communicating to people because the office of a Bishop and how it functioned did not exist within any church capacity. It is therefore, extremely unlikely that Paul, given his knowledge of Torah and the Prophets, where there was never a mention of Bishop, would have never used that term.

    Not only that, but many of the most well-known translations that we use today were written well after Constantine had been on the scene and created the office of Bishop within the church. We are not using the “original” languages in their pure form. They have been distorted by church leadership and rituals over the centuries to fit into their own distorted doctrine.

    Trying to correlate a police office with a pastor is about the most sophomoric, laughable, idiotic thing I’ve heard in a long time.

    As for your 1 Timothy reference, again you take it completely out of context. First of all, Timothy wasn’t a pastor of one church. He traveled around and never called one place home, or “his” church. He was more of an apostle than a “pastor.” His job, like Paul’s, was to spread the word and help plant churches (home churches). Not only that, but just because the Bible says that “He who desires to be an overseer, desires a noble task,” doesn’t not even begin to prove that a one-man pastor show existed. IT DIDN’T in the early church. Archeological digs have proven that the early church met in homes, not in buildings!!! Again, you’re using a version of the Bible which used the term Bishop. As I said earlier, this term was written into later version of the Bible after Constantine.

    The church of God is people, not a building, not a system.

    “Now all this was written at lest 150 years before Constantine was born. Give it up Jason, you are buying a line of reasoning from some book you read which is logically invalid. It’s wrong.

    Try instead basing how you “do” church on the revealed Word of God.”

    Did you not read the part where I said the I’ve read multiple books and done my own research? History doesn’t lie, but of course you don’t care. You’re more interested in following tradition than you are accepting truth.

    Nice try Tom. You’re still an arrogant SOB and completely out of touch with reality. You refuse to look at the facts and understand history. You’re so typical of most Christians. You’re naive and dogmatic. You’re no different from the Pharisees. You like to sit in judgment over others and “lord it over” with your abrasive, ungodly attitude. You think you know it all and you think you’re right. Being right is more important to you than loving and accepting.

    I don’t give a rats ass what you think anymore and it was mistake for engaging with you again. It’s people like you who misrepresent the body of Christ by your judgmental, arrogant attitude. No wonder so many people have walked away from the church and continue do so in large numbers. I’d show the numbers to that study, but I’m sure you’d tell me the numbers aren’t logical.

    Enjoy your life, Tom. This is the last time I ever have anything to do with you again. You’re waste of my breath.

  • farmer Tom

    Well done Jason.

    Not one Scriptural reference.

    and I’m a SOB,

    thanks for this stimulating discussion.

  • I don’t know you personally, but at least in the blog world, your behavior stops way short of being Christ-like.

    Please note the small selection of quotes (and actions) from Jesus, who was certainly no mild namby pamby man.

    Matt 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things?

    Matt 23:27-29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men’s] bones, and of all uncleanness.Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,

    Matt 23:33 [Ye] serpents, [ye] generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

    Luke 11:39 Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. Ye fools.

    John 2:14-15 And [Jesus] found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple

    I think I should also note that Luke 19:47 states that Jesus “taught daily in the temple”

  • Farmer Tom,

    I think you did a great job of defending your beliefs and an excellent job of using the original source to make your points. It is far better to let G-d state His case than for any one of us to try to do so. For as some wit once said, How do you defend a lion? You don’t. You just let him out of his cage.

    You sir, have let the Lion out of the cage and I applaud you for it.

  • I read something in a book written by John Eldride this morning called “Waking the dead”. I know, jump all over me now because it’s not from the Bible but if you can get over that for one moment you might learn something.

    Eldridge says : Going to church with hundreds of other people to sit and hear a sermon doesn’t ask much of you. It certainly will never expose you. That’s why most folks prefer it. Because community will. It will reveal where you have yet to become holy, right at that very moment you are so keenly aware of how they have yet to become holy. It will bring you close and you will be seen and you will be known and therein lies the power and therein lies the danger.

    I long for a community, like the one in the early church, where you had people of “One Heart” together. They fought for each other, looked out for each other, supported each other. I think that is what is coming. I believe God is at work drawing people away from the old and into something new. Not new for the sake of new. Not a better way of marketing a God who can’t be marketed. But a true community of people, willing to not fake church and hide in a pew but step outside the ways of comfort and really fight for one another, not over the color of the new carpet in the Sunday School wing.

  • The third paragraph in my last post was me not Eldridge. As a former journalist I should have made that clear. I don’t want John responsible for my words.

  • Rick,

    Eldridge has written some good and helpful stuff. The problem isn’t other books and people, the problem is when those other books or people are elevated above the Word of G-d. That is the root of the disagreement between Jason and FT and I. Jason has elevated that book he refers to above the Holy Book and FT and I won’t do that. We believe that when a book or person disagrees with the clearly stated Word that the Word has the final say.

    Want community? The Jews had it figured out. A part of the solution was the observance of the Sabbath, which Christ stated was created for man. The Sabbath is a time to gather with family, friends and neighbors. Of course Christians think that the commands of the Bible do not apply in any way to them so getting the idea of Sabbath observance through to them would be about impossible. Fortunately I go to a messianic church where many of the ideas are still active. After every sabbath service we take a meal together. Its sorta like a weekly potluck and we all sit around and do life together for a while. The church would do well to do this, much as Eldgridge writes.

  • Erik,

    I have never used another book to elevate it above the Bible. To ignore historical facts that help you better understand biblical history is dangerous and insidious at best.

    Based on the research I’ve done, I will never agree that a one-man pastor led church is biblical (not wrong, just not something that can be supported biblically). Leadership? Yes, absolutely. I believe that is to be a shared responsibility among a group of elders, not just one man.

    Erik, I honestly have to say that I’m dumbfounded that you would support Tom’s behavior as being biblical. Jesus is Jesus – He is God. Last time I checked, Farmer Tom isn’t. Jesus had every right to over turn the money changing tables and chastise the religious leaders. They were misrepresenting God, and their dogmatic behavior was oppressive to God’s people.

    Tom can disagree with me all he wants, but that does not give him the right to treat others like shit. And for you to defend that is equally disappointing.

    You know what I like best about this conversation? I doesn’t matter what any of you think. I can live my life with God as I feel he calls me. That still small voice that is the Holy Spirit will lead and guide me. That’s who I get to listen to – not a other men who think there way is the right way and only way to approach God.

    Oh, and you both say that the “it says in the book this is how you you’re supposed to church.” Well, guess what? That’s exactly what Paul did when he had Christians murdered before he was converted. It’s easy to use scripture to judge and condemn rather than love and encourage. Tom is a perfect example of this.