New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



NT Church Proliferation Digest Saturday, October 19 2002 Volume 02 : Number 184
[NTCP] house church Conference with James Rutz and Robert Fitts
[NTCP] Where to Look
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 07:18:19 -0400
From: "Samuel Buick" <aom_canada * hotmail>
Subject: [NTCP] house church Conference with James Rutz and Robert Fitts

Hi All!

Been on the list, but only reading and "listening" and being tremendously
blessed!

I am involved in an house church network in Kitchener Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. I
was until three years ago a "professional" clergyman, in a Vineyard church.
Since 1999, I have been involved in establishing house churches in our area, and have
partnered with Robert Fitts (A Return To Simplicity, book on HC) and have
hosted an annual conference in our area on HC. This past June we
facilitated rotating one day seminars on house church in Barrie (north of Toronto), in
Newmarket (north of Toronto), Mississauga (west of Toronto), and in
Kitchener and Waterloo (west of Mississauga). They were very well attended,
and many were blessed through the ministry of Robert and the "4 H Vision
(house church, home bible college, houses of prayer, and healing rooms)"
that he shared and demonstrated.

Our own transition as an house church network has moved more and more into the realm
of intimacy and deep community. We have never known community as we are now
experiencing. Many of us have come from fractured homes, yes, even
preachers' kids like me (LOL)! We have found a real sense of belonging and
connectedness in our relationships with one another. As a result our HC's
which were in excess of 20 to 30 people, have now begun to meet in
gatherings of no more than a dozen. People are connecting throughout the
week and connecting in small groups of people as well. Our focus when we
gather as an house church now is totally around the common meal, and the fellowship of
the Lord around the table. It is easier to include the kids (I have two
homeschooled daughters, Caitlin (14) and Erinn (almost 13)). We would never
trade in the sense of community we now enjoy for "another meeting in a
house".

As a result we have prayed and sought the Lord about facilitating a
conference next June on BODY LIFE and COMMUNITY in HC.

We are privileged and blessed to have both James Rutz, author of THE OPEN
CHURCH, and Robert Fitts, author of A RETURN TO SIMPLICITY, be our guests
and to present to us what the Lord is showing them in the realm of full
participatory body life and ministry and community life as the Body of
Christ when we gather in His Name.

Those of you in Southern Ontario, Upper New York State, Upper Pennsylvania,
Eastern Michigan, and Northern Ohio, you may want to consider coming for
this two day gathering. Last year we had a woman drive all the way from
Northern Colorado!

We have targeted the third weekend of June 2003 (20-21)as our conference;
COMMUNITY BODY LIFE: Expressing Jesus in relationship and ministry.
Tentatively this is what is shaping up and it may change somewhat.

FRIDAY:
An afternoon session with house church church planters with the two keynote speakers,
perhaps over supper.
An evening session - Featuring Jim Rutz and a Q and A session right after.

SATURDAY:
Morning Session with Robert Fitts with Q & A
Break
Workshop - choose one of three facilitated by a regional HC servant leader
Break for Lunch
Afternoon Session with James Rutz with Q & A
Workshop - choose one of three facilitated by a regional HC servant leader
Evening Session with James Rutz
Wrap up and finish conference

ALSO:
We plan on having Robert Fitts do some more regional seminars the following
week. Stay tuned for those plans.

So, brothers and sisters, please consider coming to Ontario next June. The
snow is gone (usually in late March/early April), and the whether is balmy!
As soon as we arrange for the exact location, I will release that to you so
that you can make your plans.

Blessings,
Sam Buick
house church coach
Waterloo, Ontario
www.dwellingplacehop


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Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 11:46:57 +0000
From: goodwordusa * att
Subject: [NTCP] Where to Look

Why bother to gather in the home for worship and fellowship?

Why not simply go to the old church-house down the street, and join whatever
program they have going there?

What do we look for in house church that we so seldom find in the organized efforts of
the IC?

But here is a bigger question: Are we looking in the right place?

I will cheat and say that I believe the answer to that last question is sort of
yes and no. Here's what I mean.

As we walk along this life's path, we're bombarded by many things. Our own
bodies trouble us with fatigue or ill health or inabilities. Our minds trouble
us with memories, lack of training, and questions that lead to confusion. The
world troubles us by blasting away at our feelings and thoughts with its dark
delusions. The spiritual forces of wickedness fight against our sincere
faith. And our own sinful desires pull at us, calling us to depart from the
path of righteousness.

Where to we look for help? How do we stay on track? What do we do if we
notice that our feet are straying in the wrong direction?

In his letter to the believers at Colossae, Paul wrote:
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have ... for all who have
not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit
together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding
and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the
treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.
For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see
your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted
and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught,
abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by
philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the
elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Col. 2:1-8)

By the Spirit of God Paul tells us that he struggles for all of us

1. that our hearts may be encouraged
2. that we may be knit together in love
3. and that we may reach all the riches
a. of full assurance
b. of understanding
c. and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ

Notice that last part again: "...of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are
hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

According to Paul, what (or who) is the source of all that we need? Christ
Jesus. He is the secret, or the mystery of God. He is the means by which
everything works between God and man. He, the Lord Jesus Christ, is all life
and wisdom and knowledge for us. He is what we need to know, who we need to
know, and the means by which we are to understand everything.

It is to Him that we should be looking.

The secret of the Christian life is Jesus Himself. He is the mystery behind
what God is doing in our lives. When unbelievers look at us and try to
understand why we have a peace, and a hope, and a joy they do not get, we can
tell them that they need Jesus. He is the secret of our victory.

If we are dropping out of the IC in order to simplify our worship, in order to
put less between us and the Lord Jesus, in order to be more directly involved
with His Headship over all the things in our lives (we are the Church), then we
do well. And it is worth the efforts we may need to put forth.

Jesus is where we need to be looking for our help and wisdom and strength. The
secret of real Christian faith is not how many believers gather together, or
where they meet, or in what order they sing and pray, or how they celebrate a
meal. No, the secret is in our personal walk with Jesus, our spiritual worship
of Him (one on one), our eyes being focused on Him -- looking to Him for all
that we need and hunger for.

The Church is not a place or a method or an effort generated or put forth by
you and me. The New Testament Church is what happens when people follow Jesus,
looking to Him for everyhting they need.

Even centuries before Jesus walked the earth, true believers in God had an
understanding of this basic truth. They sensed by the Spirit of God that what
they needed was the Lord Himself.

One Psalmist (maybe David) says:
I will lift up my eyes to the hills --
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.
(Psalm 121)

When things get rough, and the way gets confusing and frightening, where should
we look? Should we dig deeper into our theologies, or change the way we
worship, or give more money to God? Maybe. But these things are not what
helps us.

What we really need is Jesus Himself. He is the mystery that makes God's grace
work for our good. He is the One who shepherds us and keeps us -- and finds us
when we stray. We must look to Him, and not get side-tracked by religion
itself. Our logic, our effort, our discipline is not the secret of our
strength, wisdom or hope. Jesus is.

The Lord Jesus is looking at you and me. All we need to do now is turn around
and look back at Him. And just keep on looking. Other things (like our
problems and questions) will come and go. This whole world will eventually
fade away. But Jesus remains forever, and whoever looks to Him for all things
will remain with Him, and they will be gathered together where He is.

"Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and
built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught,
abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by
philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the
elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." (Paul to the
Colossians, 2:6-8)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried
about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be
established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have
been occupied with them. We have an altar from which those who serve the
tabernacle have no right to eat. ...Therefore Jesus also, that He might
sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore
let us go forth to Him... For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the
one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise
to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. (taken from
Hebrews 13:8-15)

He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all
creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are
on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities
or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before
all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the
church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things
He may have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:15-18)

Again and again, in the Scriptures, we see "by Him," "through Him," "for
Him," "in Him," and "to Him." So let our faith be just like that: by Him,
through Him, for Him, in Him, and to Him.

Looking unto Jesus.

Jim


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Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 16:04:52 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

David A. wrote:

> Why don't you ask Peter about it?
> Here is what he said:
>
> Acts 2:23 Him (Jesus), being
> delivered by the determinate counsel
> and foreknowledge of God, YE HAVE
> TAKEN, AND BY WICKED HANDS
> HAVE CRUCIFIED AND SLAIN:
>
> Now, who were those words addressed
> to, Joel? Just back up one verse and
> you'll see it:
>
> Acts 2:22 YE MEN OF ISRAEL,

David, you are right to stand your ground on this point. In our day
when we are reconsidering Christian complicity in the Holocaust and other
atrocities committed by, sometimes yes, ... born again believers against
Jews, it is easy to shrink back from some of the stronger statements in the
NT indicting Israel's natural seed for killing their own prophets and
ultimately the Son of God. But thus it is written. And we must believe it
is true. So you have my respect for not wavering ... so long as you (and I
can see from your other statements that you do) keep things in perspective
with regards to gentile contributions to Christ's death. And ultimately
God's plan.

Some knowledge of idiom may shed a little light on the verses you
shared (Act. 2:22, 23). The "wicked hands" referred to in vs. 23 should
more literally be rendered "*lawless* [Gk. ANOMON] hands". Or to give it a
more Hebraic flair, "hands without Torah". It is a Hebrew idiom, featured
here in Greek, referring to non-Jews-- the part (hands) standing for the
whole (men without the Torah), so that it becomes evident that Peter had the
Romans are in mind, making *explicit* the gentile complicity in Christ's
death. Knowledge of this idiom by more modern translators is why the NIV
renders the pertinent part of vs. 23:

"... with the help of wicked men ..."

"... by the hands of godless men ..." (NASB).

"... by men outside the Law" (NJB).

"...using lawless men ..." (NAB).

So whereas from the KJV one might get the impression that the "wicked [i.e.
Torah-less] men" were in this context the Jewish leaders, it really refers
to the Roman gentiles as *the means* ["hands"] by which the ruthless
Israelite leadership carried out their evil scheme-- which translated into
God's plan of salvation.
Again, I agree wholeheartedly that the inspired NT teaches that Jewish
people in Christ's generation bore the weight of reponsibility for killing
their own Messiah. And I respect you for not cow-towing to sentiment on the
issue. More than one Jew has wrongly accused me of anti-semiticism because
I wouldn't recant what the Bible explicitly says. So I'm with you on this
one ... so long as we're clear that non-Jews are also fingered by Peter, ...
and that ultimately "blame" rests squarely with the LORD Himself.

> My point, and I stand by it for now, is that
> the Jews - those to whom He came, yet
> received him not - are not always reliable
> guides for belief and practice.

I'm afraid that here your mistrust extends too far. Jewish culture is
jam-packed full of customs and perspectives that will shed light for you on
so many difficult-to-understand verses in the NT. Don't throw the baby out
with the bath water, bro. You will be the lesser for it.

Michael
Jerusalem


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Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2002 23:10:15 -0400
From: David Anderson <david * housechurch>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

>Are there any avid Bonhoeffer fans out there on NTCP? If so, please chime
>in. I'd love more perspective.
>
>Blessings,
>Stephanie

Hey sister,

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was so keen on the Sermon on the mount, I can hardly
imagine him plotting against Hitler. Yet, look at all the casualties
which have resulted by our NOT going after 1 man - and consequently not
getting him (as in the case of Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden.)

Did I spell those two name OK? I have heard them pronounced every which
way...

From: http://www.n2clay/articles/bonhoeffer/bonhoeffer_essay.html

The churches of Germany, Lutheran and Confessing, no longer provided
resistance to what we now call the Holocaust, nor family to Bonhoeffer.
Bonhoeffer became part of Nazi intelligence, alongside Admiral Canaris.
Many of his family were also part of the military, and attempted to
overthrow the Nazi government, from the inside. All their plans failed,
and they were left with what they believed was their only recourse...to
assasinate Adolph Hitler. Of course, they were all found out, arrested by
the Gestapo, and sent to prison. As a result of his complicity, Dietrich
Bonhoeffer was hung on the gallows...three weeks before the Allies won
the war.

What was the point? Why do theologians and ethicists today still study
the life, times, and writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer? I believe there to
be a very important lesson in this man's life, and death. The church
during this time period had forsaken it's position as "a people called
apart", disciples of the Messiah, and chose to become bedfellows with the
state. This certainly is nothing novel; there have been many periods
(since the 4th. century) when the church (in varying places) and state
were in collusion. Bonhoeffer had tired of God "not doing anything", and
had taken matters into his own hands. Bonhoeffer no longer had the
counsel of the saints, the opportunity for dialogue with the body of
Christ, and people with which to pray, and hold him accountable. I find
no references to words of Jesus, or any of his disciples, that call
Christians to defeat evil by employing evil. Instead, when confronting
evil, we are to heed the words of Christ found in Matthew ch.5;

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But
I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the
right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you
and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces
you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you,
and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. "You have
heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I
tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that
you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on
the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the
unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?
Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your
brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do
that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

A good friend concluded that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was allowed (by God) to
die on the gallows vs. taking the stance of supreme judge and taking the
life of Adolph Hitler. Hitler was unquestionably an evil man, but the
body of Christ resorted to the ways of the world, by complying with
Hitler or, as in Bonhoeffer's case, becoming part of his murder plot.
Neither of these is the way of the cross. Nevertheless, God used
Bonhoeffer's life, even while imprisoned, to write as well as minister to
those around him.

- ---- end quote -----

David Anderson


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