“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” ~ Hebrews 12:11-12
BEFORE GOING TO BATTLE, GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER!
Free EBook: Church What it is & is not
WHAT DOES THE CHURCH LOOK LIKE IF IT IS NOT A BUILDING?
SHAKEDOWN for modern day religion. After reading so far, is there any hope at all for the church? YES!! Here is the fun part! We, as a small study group, and as a remnant in the body of Christ, Revelation 12:17 are not called to “fix,” the old system. Jesus has told us to enter into a new Kingdom, a new system a new way with a new government. This also means that we are to leave the old Kingdom, the old system, the old way and the old government.
Do you understand that statement? We have been called to start over. The Word doesn’t tell us to fix, bind, loose, cast out or pray for that old system. We are commanded to come out from among it, Revelation 18:4. At this point I would like to minister to you a super injection of power and refreshing of God’s Word!
“Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” ~ Psalm 23:6
“Pursue peace…and holiness,” ~ Hebrew 12:14
“Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding your intimate friend;” ~ Proverbs 7:4
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting…” ~ James 1:5-6
THE FAMILY – A PROVEN WORKING MODEL OF THE CHURCH
In the book of Acts several things are taken for granted. The church was birthed at a certain time, in a certain culture with certain built-in features. One of the most important features was the relationship of family.
Jesus consequently used “family terms,” to describe the Kingdom of God and the relationships involved. Let’s watch as the family begins and the relationship enters;
“BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”” ~ Matthew1:23
“4 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” ~ John 1:14
“In my Father’s house are many dwelling places…” ~ John 14:2
“The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate’” ~ Luke 15:12
‘Father, the time has come, Glorify your Son, that you Son may glorify you,” ~ John 17:1
“…that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us…” ~ John 17:21
Paul made this bold statement using family terms:
“Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me,” ~ 1 Corinthians 4:15-16
And later wrote that; “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son,’” ~ Hebrews 12:5-6
John continued the family theme when he described the development of a new Christian from a child to a mature father figure. “I am writing to you, little children…I am writing to you, fathers, …I am writing to you, young men…” ~ 1 John. 2:12-13
Paul describes God’s governmental order using the marriage; “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.” ~ Ephesians 5:23-25
Now notice how God’s governmental order continues in the same family principle:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” ~ Ephesians 6:1-4
It is so clear that God establishes His authority with the family chain-of-command through dependency and submission. A baby is dependent on the parents for all his provisions; food, shelter, clothing, love and education. A wife is dependent on her husband to be the leader, and final decision maker, (personally accountable to God), in their home.
“…a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife,” ~ Ephesians. 5:31
A husband who is totally dependent on God for life, guidance, wisdom and understanding. This chain of command is blessed if it is honored through serving and relationship. Although, If any part of this chain is broken through abuse of the authority or rebellion to the authority, our homes will be more likened to a dwelling in a living hell, filled with violence, impure motives and a self-seeking existence, the blessing is removed.
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou has rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king,” ~ 1 Samuel 15:23 (KJV).
As we reject the authority of God, likewise our authority is removed. Rebellion says; “I won’t do it,” and stubbornness says; “I’ll do it, but I will do it my way.”
I know you are probably thinking that most homes in the United States, and around the world, are broken, dysfunctional, stubborn, rebellious, abused and violent places of existence where authority is a joke. Well, not in my home, and possibly not in your home either. Our study group decided we had to start somewhere. I had to decide for myself to embrace the will of God for my life and be made-into the righteous man God designed me to be. I made a decision to rule my household the way Christ rules the church; through loving sacrifice and authority. Raising my children to honor and respect people and proper authority which includes God and His government. You can do the same.
You ask; “When are we going to get to this proven working model of the church you promised?” Did you miss it? More than half has already been introduced to you. The Church starts with and is the family. The church is wherever two or more believers are gathered together under Godly authority. That begins with my family and your family, Praise God!
The picture of the church is this: a dad, mom and possibly children, sitting around a dinner table – holding hands and praying in the name of Jesus. This is it, this is the church! One might ask; “But what about _________ you can fill in the blank with a thousand religious things but each time it will have to come down to this simple definition of the church.
1700 YEARS OF RELIGION AGAINST YOU
Many people have not understood this concept, no matter how many ways I have tried to explain it. One friend of influence told me if I continued to “lean” this direction I would never be allowed to preach in a certain state in America ever again. A minister friend of mine sarcastically asked me if I really thought Jesus was that “out of control” with His church. Ouch, he told me that I was coming against 1700 years of religious practice and that I was teaching preference rather than Bible.
One of the most common yet hardest questions to answer for everyone in our study group was this: “Where do you go to church?” It is right up there with; “How are you?” No one really wants to know, it is just a conditioned question demanding a conditioned response, unless you don’t give the conditioned response i.e.; “Actually I am not doing very well today.” I have seen people get very nervous with a truthful response. Concerning the “church” question, we knew what people were asking; they were trying to size us up; to see what camp or denomination we were in. You know, to see if we were on their side or not. Now that I think about it, that is really a weird question, like; “What family do you go to?” Our responses changed as we would share that we don’t go to church, we are the church and that we are “in” church or “having” church right now; taking the conversation back to scripture and our Lord Jesus’ original design; you know, two or more believers gathered together.
This was tough as we felt stretched between two extremes. One extreme was that religious people (including relatives) tried to mark us as outsiders and force us to isolate and disconnect from the body of Christ. The other extreme was our freedom to move in and out of any religious group. We would love on people and pray at the coffee shop, share a scripture at work and people would get “Born again” and set free before Sunday came. It truly seemed either/or. Not much middle ground. People either loved or hated us.
VISION OF BEING A NEW PEOPLE
Something else started happening, we were transitioning from a study group to being the church. This new revelation started adding real meat to our skeletal outline. We started having expectations of each other and people’s feelings were getting involved as we not only studied the church but became responsible and accountable for one another. We became several families that loved each other and wanted to practice what Jesus had revealed.
We had to pause and pray and not only understand what Jesus was doing in us but also understand that we were setting vision for others around us. We had to write the vision down so that we could make purposeful, intentional decisions not just reacting to what was happening but actually positioning ourselves to be aggressive people of action.
“Then the LORD answered me and said, “Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run.” ~ Habakkuk 2:2
“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint…” ~ Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” ~ Amos 3:3 (KJV)
GETTING OUR FAMILIES IN ORDER
Our first item of business was making our foundation sure. With the Biblical definition of church being our families, we started to “take inventory” if you will. We began to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of our families to see what direction our Lord would take us to strengthen His Church.
From the onset this idea of getting your family in order didn’t look that hard, but once we turned off our TV and stopped eating in the Living Room we realized this was serious. We had to reacquaint ourselves with the Dining Room Table and look our family in the face over a meal. When was the last time we prayed something besides; “Rub-a-dub-dub thank you for the grub – yea God”. That would mean everyone would have to sit down at the same time.
Without a lot of encouragement most families can’t pass this first simple task of eating together every night. I have come to understand that most religious families only have a “form of Godliness”. By that I mean they attend some kind of formal religious gathering once or twice a month, bow their heads for prayer in a restaurant and talk to their neighbors about the latest program in their church building. There is a religious image but just no power. What works in public or in “the church building” just doesn’t seem to work at home around the table.
“…holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power…” ~ 2 Timothy 3:5
In using the analogy of a baseball game most religious families never get a hit because they are tremendously unprepared. The husband or dad tries to lead his family but something ALWAYS comes up and he just can’t quite get started. Work calls, a check bounces, the car breaks down and he just didn’t have time to read his Bible and pray, let-a-lone lead his family. So what does he do? He takes his family to a religious building and lets someone else try and lead his family.
What I am writing to you about; the family being the church, is a radical revelation which demands radical change and it takes radical people to walk it out.
What is the solution? Get your family in order! We have discovered a measurable pattern in Deuteronomy chapter 20 starting at verse 5 through verse 8.
Before you go to battle:
- Get your house in order.
- Get your finances in order.
- Get your relationships in order.
This is the hard responsible stuff that most of us want someone else to do for us. The Good News is that you can do it and you can measure your progress as you go. First you will exchange old ways for new ways just like moving dinner from the Living Room back to the Dining Room.
Ok, once a family understands that they are the church and then proceeds to make a plan to put all things in order, the next step is to assemble with other believers. One very helpful key here, have a sense of humor and prepare to laugh at yourselves, a lot! We are very funny humans at times.
What have we discovered in Chapter Eight?
35. Family, Relationships and Authority.
36. House in order.
37. Finances in order.
38. Relationships in order.
39. Not just a form of Godliness.
40. Accept the Power.
Personal Journal Insert:
In the past few years I have seen and experienced so many miracles; husbands and wives sharing their dark secrets with each other and breaking the power of demons off their marriage. A brother in my driveway smashing a five thousand dollar record collection with a hammer. Two young adults who were sexually active in their past, receive and follow premarital counsel to practice sexual abstinence until their wedding night. A man publicly bowing on his knees asking his wife and daughter to forgive him of abuse. A young sister who yielded one time sexually and contracted a sexual disease, publicly repent and was restored as thirty women lined up to love on her one at a time! Oh, the freedom of the Word of God and the Way of God is almost overwhelming.