August 20, 2001 Vol 01 : 055
Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] The Organic Church Part 1
[New Testament Church Proliferation] The Organic Church -Part 2
Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] House Church Problems
Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001 09:03:00 -0700 From: jferris
Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] The Organic Church Part 1
Thank you so much for your very helpful analysis of the "cell church movement".
The difficulty that I have had in the past with this word picture is that it is not one that is easily understood in ways that can help us to see what God is after in us where relationships are concerned. The "same DNA" resulting in different parts is helpful, but beyond that, the word picture is obscure for most of us. I just don't relate easily to being part of a cell or a cell in relationship to something else. For one thing, you have to have a magnifying glass to learn much.
Rather I think there is more to be learned by looking at the Church as a new creation. Just about everyone is familiar with the old creation, and according to Romans 1, there is much to be learned there. In spite of all its problems, the amazing thing is that the old creation has survived this long. On the face of it, at least, it looks like the progeny of the first Adam are still alive and still reproducing life. I know that's not the Divine perspective, but I still think it would be wise to take a hard look at it, so we can learn how God does life. A little less religion, and a lot more life would be very helpful, even in The Name of The Lord.
May God Bless you as you continue to pursue this very vital matter.
A Church Prepared for Revival The Organic Church Keith W. Smith PART 1 Introduction
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Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001 22:37:53 -0400 From: "Charles W. Bevel Jr."
Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] House Church Problems
BRAVO! Jay Bravo and Bravisimo!
Right, right, right!
I saw two movies in succession one day (feeling bad for watching so much TV). In the first movie when people died they went to Judgment City. They stayed in hotels, went to restaurants, etc.. while they each went to trial over a period of days. The hero of the story met for the first time someone who he (in a few days of course) fell in love with. The basis of the prosecution against the hero was that he lacked courage and was ruled all his life by fear. Well the defense couldn't over come the argument so the hero was sentenced to reincarnation. While he was on the train to reincarnation he saw his love interest on the train to a higher place. He so wanted to be with her that he broke out of his train, risked life and limb crossing tracks to get to her train and struggled to get in to be with her. The movie ended with the prosecution, the defense, and the two judges watching the whole scenario by video. The defense attorney says "how's that for courage". One judge looks the other, they both smile then the one judge says "Let Him in." The train door opens letting our hero onto the train to a higher place where he and the women he's in love with embrace. The fact that the train is going to a higher place is a peripheral consideration.
The second movie was about a depression era poor young man who gets talked into doing a robbery. He feels bad afterward especially because the guy who talked him into the robbery hurts the old Jewish grocery store owner. So he goes back without identifying himself as one of the masked robbers and begins to do free work for the man to repay him. The old man hires him and he begins to learn that this man is not a strictly religious Jew (he eats pork occasionally) but the rather the old man says he strives to be, as his father taught him, a mensch (forgive the spelling). A mensch he says is one who is honest loyal humble etc. etc. etc.. An example would be that he chases a customer several blocks to return a nickel in change she forgot. Another is that he opens at 6am every morning for a 3 cent sale because the old lady has been shopping from him for years.
Anyway the young man then falls in love with the old Jew's daughter whom he peeps at through her bathroom window at night. They start to date and though he "truly loves her" he ends up basically perpetrating a date rape against the young lady. After that he is found out as one of the robbers. He is thrown out on his ear and all is lost. However the old man dies and the young man comes back to help run the store. The Jewish mother who knows nothing of the date rape but doesn't want her daughter involved with a gentile reluctantly allows it. The young man intrigued with the dead man's integrity vs. his own depravity begins to study torah and eventually joins a bar mitzvah class. He is tempted again to peep through the young ladies window but in a fit of disgust tears down the makeshift climbing apparatus. The two do not eventually "fall back in love" but the movie ends when she sees the young man in the park reading the Torah wearing her father's reading glasses (given to him by her mother). She realizes that his consuming desire for her has been replaced by a desire to know truth and real love (as in the expression of unselfish concern for others). She walks up to him and in a small gesture let's him know that she has forgiven him. But not only that, she expresses to him without words that she has a new respect for him that is above and beyond the "in love" thing she had for him before. The respect she has for him is the respect one has for another who has tapped into eternal things.
In the first movie we see heaven being entered as a result of sexual "love". In the second movie we see sexual love fail but we see it making a come back. The movie ends with us being assured that sexual love will be built over time on the foundation of eternal love inherited from the "father". Is that cool or what?!?!
For me it's tremendously encouraging. My wife and I had a shot gun wedding. We had two kids before we were married even though we both were committed (however immature) Christians. When we met and "dated" our most passionate conversations were about our dreams to do great and wonderful things for God. We talked about theatrical productions and Christian schools and other things. After 11 years together and 9 years of marriage, conversations such as we are having and those dreams (which I've come to believe were truly inspired visions from the Lord) are the only things that still pull us together. But alas those connections seem to be so few and far between. We have failed each other so miserably in OUR love for each other that we don't trust each other anymore. But we can and are learning to bless each other as we share what we know of God's love with each other not in word (talking about God's love) but in deed showing love and respect. We've got the foundation laid as we clear away the ruins of our house built on sand. It's a grand project we're working on both with our own individual set of instructions from God. And it looks like it'll take forever and more often than not it's painful (the cross you were speaking of) but nothing else seems at all worth the effort.
Is that what you're talking about?
PS: No offense taken on the Christmas thing. I understood where you were coming from. Just wanted to share a little of myself in a light hearted way.
PPS: I'm loving your conversation. It makes me feel good to know that I'm not the only one who hasn't bowed the knee to Baal so to speak but who sees (if only through a glass darkly) something besides what everybody else sees (like sexual love conquers all).
- -----Original Message----- From: jferris To: New Testament Church Proliferation Date: Monday, August 20, 2001 8:18 AM
Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] House Church Problems
There was another, perhaps more focused response I would like to make to yo ur situation, and I do so on list, because I think it addresses a very big problem in the church. The world is talking about sex, and therefore determining the standards or lack of them. The Church is not talking about sex, and is therefore relevant in the tremendous area of human interest, concern and increasingly chronic failure.
One thing that has become very over the past couple of years is that sex is a parable, and quite probably the most loaded parable of the creation and the Scripture. I think I had been increasingly aware of this for quite some time prior, but never put in a place where I could see it with so much clarity. So, what's the point of the parable? THE POINT IS CHRIST and, in His fullness, Christ and the Church. This is fundamental, and fundamental in a way which will ultimately reveal the true fundamentalists. The present ones seem to be clueless. Just about every day, I have to repent of my theology just to make it to stupid.
Where love and intimacy are concerned, God is the great initiator. It is enough that we as a bride be open to His advances. About all that we are really good at is throwing up barriers to intimacy. Of course we do this with the Devil's help and at his urging. With deception and accusation as his primary weapons, he is able to keep us far off by confusion and guilt.
In no other area of human experience is he more successful than in the area of our sexuality. The culture seems to be rapidly approaching terminal confusion in this area, and our sexuality remains a source of great embarrassment to the "church". Lately, I am taking some encouragement in the knowledge that The Kingdom of God does does not come by appearances. The "church" is preoccupied with appearances, but the true bride is looking for reality, a reality which will be publicly revealed only when everything else is being shaken.
In March of 2000, I wrote to a couple who have a marriage counseling ministry:
"I think that I should have to say that the Love of God is quite possibly the most misunderstood fact of life in the universe.
The two most life changing revelations in my own life have been, that which I call "the LOVE PATENT", and that, "JESUS IS LORD OF RELATIONSHIPS". The second is not possible without the first. Unless, and until our expectations are nailed to the tree, we will never be able to love, as God loves. But for our own expectations to be nailed to the tree, we have to come to realize that, that's where God's were, the day he said, "I love you". I was nailing Him to the tree, and at that very moment, He was saying, "I Love you."
"If we have no revelation of that kind of love, then we will love a person only until they nail us to a tree. That's not good enough, because it is not God enough. In the first instance, it has to be God TO me, and in the second instance, it has to be God THROUGH me. It has to be all of God, and none of me.
Our greatest difficulty is with believing that, knowing us even better than we know ourselves, God not only loves us, but He loves us so much that he laid His life down for us on our worst day. To believe that, is the miracle of salvation. I do not believe that most "Christians" believe that. To believe that, is to be changed in ways much more substantial than what we are presently seeing in The Name of The Lord.
For me, part of the evidence of unbelief can be seen in our religious reaction to passion. We don't love with passion, the way God clearly did, and does, and we get very offended with those who do. Passionate lovers are "reckoned among the transgressors". This is the result of the misunderstanding mentioned in the first line above. If we could be so in touch with the Love of God, that we are empowered by His love in our ability to love others, our "evangelism" would be much more effective, offensive, perhaps, but effective. There would be quality conversions, and quality converts, entering into the House that Jesus went away to prepare, rather than our own "cieled houses",(Haggai 1 kjv) that we have built in His Name.
Frankly, both the world, and the nominal "church" are so sexually preoccupied in their understanding of intimacy, that they can't get through to the intimacy of the Godhead for their sexual hang-ups. The world is clueless, and the "church" has thrown the baby out with the bath water. In my view, this is a big part of the reason why Christians can't seem to get along with each other, we're trying to get along with the wrong kind of love.
There is no cross in that kind of love. Without the cross, two can never be one. I may not like the fact, that even God could not love me without the cross, but when I'm honest with myself, I am forced to admit that it was the only way. If the Lamb had to be slain before the foundation of the world in order for God to accept me as His, then how can anyone on earth accept me, except by that same cross? And, conversely, If I think that I can love and accept anyone else, except on that same basis, I'm kidding myself. By the cross, God has made it possible for me to love, so much so that, if I claim to love Him, who I have not seen, but I don't love you who I have seen, I'm kidding myself about God."
Someone observed: "And so it is; but when divine love is withdrawn, we are naked."
I responded, "Actually, when divine love is withdrawn, if such a thing were possible, we are dead."
It was further observed that, "The way to establish or fix human relationships is to seek the God of relationships. Of course, we know that. This past year, I have seen the difference that makes. I have really seen the difference between those who have a relationship with God, and how loyal they are with human relationships, versus those who have or had only the human relationships."
I responded by noting what had been observed, "... the way to establish or fix human relationships...', For us to try to do this is illegal. Relationships, like every other good thing, are the gift of God, "lest any man should boast." Our need is for the revelation that Jesus is Lord of relationship, and then for the revelation of the relationships themselves. Everything needs to be tested, and The Lord has provided us the means, but the means does not include horizontal trust or fulfilled expectations."
Looking back on this exchange from the light of today, I would have to say that the phrase "sexual hang-up" is redundant. The parable is so powerful, that until we get the point, God's point, we are hung up, and a very easy target for the Satan. Once we get the point, we are set free. We finally have a place to go with all the passion, all the raging chemistry, and the compelling need for intimacy."
As for "Happy Passover!" vs "Merry Christmas", please pardon my lack of sensitivity in that connection, my point was and is that the true gifts are the those that He gives us in the persons of one another.
Yours in Christ,
"Charles W. Bevel Jr." wrote:
Thanks for the response. I feel so lonely sometimes but I know I'm waiting for something of which God has "in sundry times and in divers manners" shown me was possible and to an extent has allowed me to experience. I'm feeling a bit stuck in that the options apparently open to me don't seem to lead to what God has shown me. On the other hand there is some courage that I must show.
What you wrote is a witness and a confirmation to me that these kind of experiences are a taste of what is to come if I continue to move in faith beyond fear toward honesty. I know better than to go blabbing all around town about my sexual struggles or starting arguments over church structure but if I have the courage to follow where the spirit leads things will get better and brighter and body life (for lack of a better term) will begin to come alive in my experience of Christ and his people.
PS: I'm one of those who don't do Christmas, but I do accept gifts from those who do (hate to ruin their giving!). Happy Passover! :-)
Thanks a third time CwBjr
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Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2001 13:17:50 EDT From: JAMESRUTZ
Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches
Church Without Walls is by Jim Petersen, NavPress, 1992. Great book.