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Alternative Christian Churches
Good News

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. John 17:21

David Anderson
  added a Discussion 

We don't hear too much from Gene Edwards lately. I recently noticed he had celebrated a rare and  important anniversary. Not the 25th, not the 35th, not the 45th, not the 55th... Drum roll... How about the 66th?

Interestingly, he and Helen were married before a nationwide television audience of millions.

Gene isn't my favorite writer but others hold him in high esteem. Hi influence is undeniable. Regardless, let us give credit where it is truly due. This is a monumental achievement. And an excellent example to all who bear the name of Christ. Especially when marriage, even within the church, has fallen onto hard times.

https://www.firstcoastnews.com/article/life/heartwarming/married-on-live-television-couple-celebrates-65th-wedding-anniversary/77-f51a8a6f-850c-4d45-81bb-e3ea8eaea9b3

Is there anyone meeting in Hernando or Pasco counties on the Florida Gulf Coast?

David Anderson
  added a Discussion 

Jerry Falwell Junior just gave the enemies of God another occassion to blaspheme. "Whatever God he worships - we don’t want it and we don’t need it," they say to themselves.

He has also offended every one of his 100,000 students and his alumni as well. Now, like 97% of those who get caught, he will begin to tap-dance around the clock. And to blame others, of course.

We are not here to bash the institutional church - that would take forever and we would all be drained. Besides, several "leaders" in the "organic church movement" have also been caught in sexual misconduct and cover-ups. Still we must pause now and then to consider what is going on in this world where each of us is called to serve.

An old Indian Chief supposedly remarked: "There is a black dog and a white dog within each of us. The one we feed will eventually gain control." That's you and that's me. There are no exceptions.

The words of Jesus to his disciples still echo down through the centuries: "Watch and pray."

May God have mercy upon US.

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-falwell-relationship/

Because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme my name, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.  2 Sam. 12:14

Tommy Harris
  added a Discussion 

Greetings Church. We have been thinking about several church questions in our family. The questions about the number of leaders and participants necessary for the establishment of a Christian Church don't seem to attract much attention. I guess we are just used to the model of the large group mentality. 

So are there other models found in scripture and history?


Regardless of what sort of Christian music you listen to, if you are blessed then I will also rejoice. To each his own. Or her own.

Some of us can only make a joyful noise... Me, for example.

Franky Schaeffer had strong words for the Christian Music Industry way back in the 80's.

Today Christian endeavor in the arts is typified by the contents of your local Christian book store, accessories, paraphernalia shop. For the coffee table, we have a set of praying hands made out of some sort of pressed muck. Christian posters are ready to adorn your walls with suitable Christian graffiti to sanctify them and make them a justifiable expense. Perhaps a little plastic cube with a mustard seed entombed to boost your understanding of faith. If this were not enough, a toothbrush with a Bible verse stamped on its plastic handle, and a comb with a Christian slogan or two impressed on it. 

On a flimsy rack are stacked a pile of records; you may choose them at random, blindfolded, for most of them will be the same idle rehash of acceptable spiritual slogans, endlessly recycled as pablum for the tone deaf, television softened brains of our present day Christian.

Hello! My name is Rob Pineda, and I live in Deltona, Florida. My family and I are going in the house church direction, and was wondering how others feel about starting out with just your own family? Is that not a good idea? Is it just fine?  Just looking for some opinions, and input. Thank you so much!

librarian
  added an Audio

Patricia Summitt was an American women's college basketball head coach who accrued 1,098 career wins, the most in college basketball history upon her retirement. She served as the head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team from 1974 to 2012, before retiring at age 59 after receiving a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. She won eight NCAA championships.

John Almas
  added a Discussion 

Hi. I'm from Winnipeg Manitoba and new to this site. Does your network have any house churches here in my area?

Thanks

librarian
  added a File 
Dan Beaty
  added a Post 
Dan Beaty
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Recently I have considered how the Covid-19 might affect many churches financially, as their numbers are limited in gathering, and when the offerings of many are received. That got me to thinking of the time when Jesus sent out His disciples and told them to not bring additional provisions. Their needs were supplied, and they were fruitful in their work.

So how much does it really cost to love, serve, and bless others with the Good News of the Kingdom of God? I know we all have physical needs, but my hope is that we will learn that we can worship God, and serve others much more efficiently than we have in the past, only because we had to during this time.

librarian
  added a File 
Jayne
  added a Post 

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,

When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is strange with its twists and turns

As every one of us sometimes learns

And many a failure comes about

When he might have won had he stuck it out;

Don't give up though the pace seems slow—

You may succeed with another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out—

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

And you never can tell just how close you are,

It may be near when it seems so far;

So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit—

It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

           John Greenleaf Whittier

librarian
  added a File 

Oh my, what a sheltered life I have lived! When I was a small child and would encounter the few Bible stories of bad women, I was completely unable to associate any woman in my own world with their strange behavior. In fact, in my Senior class in High School, I was not aware of a single broken home among my friends. My neighborhood was no different. Of course, this does not mean that they were all happy homes. And later, some divorces did occur.

I am the sixth child myself so I am thankful to have lived in a time when children were perceived as blessings. Like your Mom, mine was the best. 'Brother Mother' we called her. She was fun but very saintly in all her ways. As for ever witnessing her arguing with my Dad, it never happened. Of course they would disagree. But they kept it to themselves. Knowing that no child wants to be in the middle of an argument.

Dad saw Europe flattened in WW2. So in his mind, nothing left in this life was big enough to be upset for long. Both Mom and Dad were consistent peacemakers. Because they lived their lives before the eye of the Almighty.

Tell us about your Mom, if you would...

Thank you, Lord, for all the faithful moms who quietly do their work for You each day. Of all your blessings, they are near the top of the list.

Dan Beaty
  added a Post 

Here is song I recently composed, entitled "Face To Face." https://www.facebook.com/dan.beaty.3975012/videos/2566239913632986/

Dan Beaty
  added a Discussion 

From the first week when the Covid-19 was discovered in my state of Ohio, I realized the weight of the challenge it would bring to North American churches.  Now that most public houses of worship are closed, the familiar routine has been seriously disrupted. However, believers still have tremendous opportunities for fellowship using the technologies available. In fact, I have had more fellowship with more people from more places recently than before!

The people of God have never been in a place where they cannot obey God. They can always pray, worship Him and love others. It might be more difficult, and in some cases lead to martyrdom, but that is certainly not the case here in North America. Maybe, just maybe, more of us will learn that we really did not need so many costly programs and facilities to fulfill our destiny of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever!

Alexander
  added a Post 

Joh 6:63 It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and are life.

In another place I conversed with a believer that had trouble knowing the voice of the Lord. I shared with him John 6:63. Jesus told us that his words are “spirit” and “life”. These two words help us recognize the words of Jesus. “Spirit” is both the will of God – thus the content will be confirmed in Scriptures – and the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit moves to bring his words to pass. “Life” means movement and action. When the Lord speaks to you, there is a motivation to act upon his words.

I shared with this person a recent experience I had on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. One of the translators spoke to 2 men and she and the other translator became aware of demonic presence. The translator not speaking called me over and told me they felt demons coming from a woman who was sitting in the background. So I stood at the fence in front of the woman and spoke to the demons in the woman, who spoke no English only Creole. But the demons understood me and caused the woman to get up and walk away. Later, at our base camp, the Lord spoke to me and told me to go to the tree. I instantly got up and went to the tree where the translator was telling the story to the team leader. The Lord wanted me to share my part in the story. When the Lord told me to go, I did not realize that the Lord was talking to me, I only knew I had to go. In hindsight and reviewing my memory I realized I went because Jesus told me to go.

After this discussion I started noticing this in the Bible. Here are some examples.

Luk 5:10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will be catching people alive.”

Luk 5:11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything, and followed him.


Notice they left their fishing boats as soon as Jesus said they would catch people instead of fish. Spirit and life comes from the Lord’s words and they acted upon it immediately. To fair, in this instance they saw the miracle of catching fish, when they caught nothing all day, which the Lord told them to do as payment for using their boats to stand in while he taught on the Kingdom of God to the crowds.

Luk 5:27 After these things he went out, and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office, and said to him, “Follow me!”

Luk 5:28 He left everything, and rose up and followed him.

In this story of Matthew, Jesus walks by Matthew and tells him to follow him and Matthew with no miracle to see obeys immediately leaving it all behind. Spirit and life. It seems that Jesus was prompted by the Spirit to tell Matthew to follow him, and the Spirit brought life to the Lord’s words to motivate Matthew to get up and go.

There are many things in learning to recognize the Lord’s voice, but it is not any different than knowing your wife or husband’s voice. There are characteristics to his voice that are knowable. Jesus did say,

Joh_10:4 Whenever he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice**.**


One last word of encouragement. My father was a scientist. He told me when I was a child that part of the scientific method is to examine an object by yourself and become familiar with it before hearing the opinions of others. If you hear opinions first, then examine the object, you will not see the object clearly because the opinions of others will create a bias causing you to look for what you had heard instead of seeing what is there.

When I came to Christ, I took his advice to heart. I wanted to hear and see the Lord and the Scriptures for myself before hearing the opinion of others. When I thought the Lord spoke, I obeyed. When I was wrong, I also saw his help in correcting me. I read the Bible 3 chapters a day from Genesis to Revelation 5 years in a row.

This is my encouragement. Put out of your mind all that you have been told and listen and look for your self. Yes, God speaks through the Bible. But He also speaks directly to our hearts in a number of ways. It could be as a realization. It could be as a drop into our spirits. It could be an unexpected thought in our minds. It could be from a preacher’s message. It could be from a song on the radio.

Regardless of how the Lord is speaking, you will learn the characteristics of his voice just as you know the voice of a family member even when unseen.

"The Call to Make Disciples" -

Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This verse commonly referred to as the great commission has been unfortunately, neglected by many professing believers. many have exchanged that primary mission in favor of building corporations and empires of their own design. Consequently, today the practice of discipling is so rare as to be completely foreign to our Christian experience. Far too often the institutional church system has created dependent members vs. independent followers of Christ. We are called to engage with a lost world, for the express purpose of creating Kingdom followers who upon maturity are able to do the same. 

With that said Our goal is to help equip Christian believers to open their homes, using their relationships and spheres of influence to begin making disciples themselves for God's Kingdom. We are pleased to offer our first course in our online leadership training school. We have moved out from the "traditional Church" systems, following Gods leading past our fears and doubts to begin making disciples in response to his call and command. We want to offer what we've learned to others who may be experiencing the same fears and doubts and come along side them as they walk out this high calling. There aren't many training's that we have seen that are geared toward house church communities, and so we are excited to partner with other home churches toward equipping the body!

You can find our courses here:

https://ravensvoiceministries.weebly.com/media

Or here

https://luther-maranda-courses.teachable.com/

P.S. 

We are currently offering a coupon code for 50% off!

Enter code 50OFF15 to get your discount.

administrator
  added a Discussion 

Hi All. We used to read about the great plagues. Now we are living in one. By God's grace we will live through it. Martin Luther, in a letter to a friend, explains how this might be accomplished:

I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.  

If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God. 

    Luther’s Works 43:132

David Anderson
  added a Discussion 

They wondered why they or their loved ones were found by the Coronavirus. They did take precautions.

"Coronavirus might spread much farther than 6 feet in the air. CDC says wear a mask in public.

Air contaminated with the COVID-19 virus might travel four times farther than the 6 feet the CDC asks we distance ourselves, according to a recent study.

The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that under the right conditions, liquid droplets from sneezes, coughs and just exhaling can travel more than 26 feet and linger in the air for minutes.

Findings such as these may have some bearing on the CDC's recommendation on Friday that Americans wear non-surgical face masks in public — especially in places "where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain."

“There is no virtual wall at this 3- to 6-feet distance” says Lydia Bourouiba, the study's author, who specializes in fluid dynamics and is an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These findings suggest the greatest risk is for health care workers working with infected patients, she says.

As seen in this video, shot from different views and posted with Bourouiba's report, the invisible cloud can travel up to 26 feet:

The study focuses on a turbulent gas, the cloud emitted when someone coughs, sneezes or exhales. Liquid droplets of various sizes drop onto surfaces, while others can be trapped in a cloud that can swirl around a room with a payload, in theory, of pathogen-bearing droplets.

How cough and sneeze droplets travel

A lot goes into how far the cloud and its droplets travel: a person's physiology, the environment, humidity and temperature. “The cloud can reach up to 26 feet for sneezes and less than that for coughs — about 16 to 19 feet,” Bourouiba says.

According to a 2009 World Health Organization report, when someone coughs, they can spray up to 3,000 droplets. A sneeze could yield 40,000." 

     from USA Today, 4 3 2020

Greetings to all my Brothers and Sisters here in the House Church Network.

My name is Timothy Yeghian.   Isn't it tough to introduce yourself.   Folks want to know who we are, but it isn't about us; it is about Jesus.
I'll just tell you who I am and if people fall asleep ... well, serves me right?


I am 66 now and came to Christ in ... I am looking up, which means I don't remember.       Let's see, ... 1973.

I am not from the Catholic side of the fence or the Protestant sea of denominations.   Nope.   I am one of the few Christians whom you might meet who comes from the Oriental Orthodox.  And the largest of that is the Armenian branch.   We kicked Rome to the curb in 451 AD.  I don't think we helped them carry there bags either.   The first New Testament that was translated from the Hellenistic Koine Greek was called Gabar, or scholars call this "Classical Armenian."   If I ever get to meet a group of believers I will sing one of our chants for you from the 3rd century.  

1974 the Vietnam War was winding down and after prayer I joined the army and asked for the Chaplain's Corps.   I told God to put me anywhere, and He did.   Without agreeing to it on paper, lol, God assigned me 2nd / 504 of the 82nd Airborne Infantry.   I don't know how many night jumps I made with the men I served.  I lost count after "2."  

Familiar with the Armenian text, that was when I started to study Greek.   Men were coming to me with one version and another with another version and asking me questions I couldn't answer.   As not many folks read our scribbles, I started learning Greek in 1974.  

I survived the 82nd Airborne and started college as a double major, almost triple major:   Greek for one, with minors in Chinese and Japanese, and Ancient History, with minors in Russian and Astrophysics.

The Japanese government hired me right out of college, nobody was hiring veterans in those days, and the Japanese shipped me to Japan where I lived for 17 years, and street witnessed in Japan on the weekends.  I used Japan as a base to smuggle Bibles into China.

After 17 years of life in Japan, the UN knocked on my door and offered me a job in the UN in Africa. That put me in reach of Iran and Saudi Arabia. I can't say much more about that. I will say, however, that there are two places where you can see the Holy Spirit setting things on fire: China and Iran

If it is of any help at all to any brother or sister here, I have been reading my New Testament in Greek for almost half a century.   I started on extant manuscripts in the handwritten originals about 10 years ago.   Yes, I have been to many fancy schools, etc., but never mind that.  

I am writing this for this following reason:

If someone wishes to ask a question about the variations in translation, or rabbinic traditions behind Matthew, Mark, or Luke in the original Greek, I will be glad to be your servant on these matters.   Moreover, our first translators were bilingual in Koine Greek, so when we peer at the Greek from the view of the Armenian, we get a lot of extra help on what we are looking at.   

I especially think about my Christian sisters.   I have many friends who are not Christians and they wrestle with Christians because of many of these traditions.   Moreover, Christian sisters too have their struggles with many things.   Consider me your brother, and you don't even have to bake me a pie.

However, I have a caveat.   The Armenian Christian tradition is very, very different from Protestantism.   I have visited these "Cruise Ship Churches" and listened.   Reading from the Bible in the original language is a traditional form of worship for us.   Yes, but, - we don't have "pastors" closing the Bible and then saying that "God thinks this," "God is saying this," or "God is saying the other thing."    To us in the Armenian Christian tradition, we can't say "God thinks" anything.   

We can share what we feel God is saying to "us," but more than that is considered blasphemy.   Our reason is no one can know the mind of God.   It is very much a part of why we split from Rome in 451 AD.   That was a very big part of it.   I have had certain people from certain denonminations go off like a bottle rocket with me on how what they were saying was "The Voice of God."   I can share what the language says, within the context of our ancient culture, which was within Greater Greece, both before and after the Age of Alexander, but we can't then "close the Book" and say, "Here is what the mind of God is on this issue."   Syrian and Armenian Christians don't do that kind of work, add smile.

I am pleased to be your brother in Christ from here in Alaska, and soon, Redding, CA.

As Paul said, in Romans 15:13
......

ΠΡΟΣ ΡΩΜΑΙΟΥΣ 15:13, Romans 15:13:

Ο ΔΕΘΕΟΣΤΗΣΕΠΙΔΟΣΠΛΗΡΩΣΑΙΥΜΑ

ΣΠΑΣΗΣΧΑΡΑΣΚΑΙΕΙΡΗΝΗΣΕΝΤΩΠΙΣΤΕ

ΥΕΙΝΕΙΣΤΟΠΕΡΙΣΣΕΥΕΙΝΥΜΑΣΕΝΤΗΕΛ

ΠΙΔΙΕΝΔΥΝΑΜΕΙΠΝΕΥΜΑΤΟΣΑΓΙΟΥ

In his name

Brother Yeghian

Redding + Anchorage





David Anderson
  added a Discussion 

Many churches are pushing pause on gathering their congregants for weekly worship services during this season of coronavirus risk, including children’s ministry classes and groups. While many of us might be tempted to enjoy a break from church, that’s the last thing we really need. At times like this, we desperately need God’s Word to reassure us that He is in control; we need to sing songs that remind us of His power; we need worship.

The Bible teaches us to “watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together (emphasis mine), as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, CSB) We know, as Christ followers, that we are called to gather together as the Church—the bride of Christ Himself. However, as we retreat to the safety of our houses under city ordinances and precaution, we should look around and recognize that the very people we live with in our homes are part of that same calling—our family. We should continue (or start) to gather together to worship as a family.

Whether you are a parent, a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or friendly neighbor, you can still gather together for a worship experience. This may sound intimidating to you, like something you are not equipped for, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact now is the perfect time to start doing a family worship time, and to keep doing long after coronavirus leaves us.

If you read the portion of Deuteronomy 6 sometimes referred to as the Shema, it’s easy to see that family discipleship is a scriptural command: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (emphasis mine).” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7, CSB) So, let’s face it. Many of us will be “sitting in our houses”—with our kids or other family members—for longer periods of time than we are currently used to, as some schools may close and workplaces may go to a temporary remote work model. Chances are, your family might be experiencing some anxiety in this unprecedented situation. Use this extra time wisely and talk about God’s Word—the ultimate soother of our souls and healer of our hearts!

quoted from: 

https://christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/march/when-your-church-cant-meet-gather-your-family-for-worship-h.html

librarian
  added a Video

Before there was the church - there was the family. They encompass one another but are separate spheres. For example, those who fail at leading in their own home are not encouraged to lead in the church. Of course all parents fail occasionally but the drift and direction of their role must be positive.

Observe how this young child is cheering on her Mom as she goes into harm's way to help others far away, sick with the Corona Virus. Her Dad is also a doctor and has just learned that his wife has volunteered.

Remember that Jesus, the Great Healer, also came not to be served but to serve. And that He too is cheering us on.

Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.  Matthew 28

Jim
  added a Post 

Anyone out there aware of any house churches in my area of southwest Stevens County, WA?

Alexander
  added a Post 

When reading what Jesus says, many times it seems his topics are unrelated, so the natural tendency is to grab onto parts that we think we understand while missing the point of his discourse which runs like a thread tying together all the seemingly unrelated topics. The discourse in Matthew 18 is one such example.

But before getting to Matthew 18 a foundation to his discourse begins in Matthew 16. Having traveled to the north of Israel to Caesarea Philippi due west of Tyre in Syria.  They stood in front of 3 pagan temples, one specifically was called the Gates of Hades, where the Greeks believed was the entrance to the underworld, where they performed immoral acts of worship.   With this background, Jesus asks his disciples who people (and them) thought he was.  Peter replied,

Mat 16:16  ...“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Mat 16:17  Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

We see here that Peter received a realization directly from God.

Mat 16:18 I also tell you that you are Peter  [petros in Greek meaning “a piece of rock’], and on this rock [petra in Greek meaning “a mass of rock such as a cliff”]  I will build my assembly [ekklesia in Greek, not “church” but an assembly of government leaders] , and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 

Despite the claim of Catholicism, the rock that Christ builds his assembly upon is the direct revelation from God that believers, like Peter,  have particularly after the new birth is given.  

The Greek word ekklesia, translated as “church” in most translations, literally means “called out” and is understood to mean an assembly gathered in answer to that call.  What has been forgotten about the term is that such assemblies were usually assemblies of government.  The ancient Greek culture was a pure democracy with each citizen having a vote in any matter.  When a matter needed to be settled, they were all called together to discuss and vote on that matter.

The Gates of Hades in the background of this discussion is a symbol of the governments of the world.  What Jesus told Peter and his disciples is that he was establishing his government on Earth as representatives of his government in heaven, whose strength against the powers of darkness would be the direct communication of God to his children in their hearts.  Jesus goes on to say:

Mat 16:19  I will give to you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven; and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.” 

Jesus is saying that the ability to prevail against the powers of darkness governing on behalf of Satan on Earth will be the specific things the Lord tells his disciples on how to win the battles, hence are the keys to victory.   We have not been given authority that is willy nilly.  In other words, whatever is forbidden in Heaven we can forbid (bind or stop) on Earth.  Likewise, whatever is permitted in Heaven we can release (loose or permit) on Earth.

This context of the body of Christ, called “ambassadors” by Paul (2 Cor 5:20), as government servants of Heaven on Earth is what is in mind of the disciples when we open chapter 18.

Mat 18:1  In that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”

The disciples are still thinking in terms of a worldly kingdoms.  They are thinking they will be lords of creation like the pagan kings of this Earth. Jesus corrects them.

Mat 18:2  Jesus called a little child to himself, and set him in the middle of them, 

Mat 18:3  and said, “Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Mat 18:4  Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. 

The obvious answer, which is the main answer, is that all of us have to be like little children, with simple faith and innocence, to humbly enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  And, clearly, we are to continue as such, if we are to be greatly used by the King.

Since the child is sitting on his lap, Jesus makes a point about actual children, not adults being child like, in how much God cares for them.

The abuse of children is as old as mankind.   The valley of Hinnom is a deep and narrow ravine, with steep, rocky sides, to the south and west of Jerusalem, separating Mount Zion to the north from the "hill of evil counsel," and the sloping rocky plateau of the "plain of Rephaim" to the south.   During the Old Testament days many Israelis worshipped Moloch whose worship required the sacrifice of their children.   Their garbage was burned in the valley of Hinnom, so a constant fire raged in that valley.  They throw their infants alive into that fire as part of the Moloch worship.

In Satanic Ritual Abuse, children are sexually abused and sacrificed today.  News of these abominations are becoming more widely known.  Even without the SRA, the rampant pedophilia around the world, within the Catholic Church and Protestant denominations are being exposed even as you read this post.  

In this discussion with his disciples about greatness, Jesus gives a grave warning to any who harm innocent children.

Mat 18:5  Whoever receives one such little child in my name receives me, 

Mat 18:6  but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble [skandalizō], it would be better for him that a huge millstone should be hung around his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depths of the sea. 

Mat 18:7  “Woe to the world because of occasions of stumbling! For it must be that the occasions come, but woe to that person through whom the occasion comes! 

The Greek word translated as stumble, or offend, is skandalizo, from where we get our English word, “scandal”.  It literally means to entrap or ensnare.  It could easily refer to kidnapping, as for the purpose of human trafficking.  If this meaning is intended, his admonition takes on a darker meaning.

Mat 18:8  If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into the eternal fire. 

Mat 18:9  If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna of fire. 

Could the case be made that since the context of his discourse is harming children, and pedophilia being a serious harm, that cutting things off could also mean it would be better to castrate yourself than ending up in the Lake of Fire?

Mat 18:10  See that you don’t despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. 

Mat 18:11  For the Son of Man came to save that which was lost. 

Verse 11 is more commonly understood to mean that Jesus has come to save lost souls. And this truly is the case.  But our context still refers to children.  It is not like Jesus is changing topics.  He came to save the children, as well as adults, and especially the lost innocence that was defiled in the previous verses.

Mat 18:12  “What do you think? If a man has one hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine, go to the mountains, and seek that which has gone astray? 

Mat 18:13  If he finds it, most certainly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 

Mat 18:14  Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. 

The parable of the lost sheep is a common evangelism verse, but notice he concludes the parable referring to little children again.  Yes, those of child like faith, but he still has a child on his lap and he is speaking about children.

If the thread of his point is forgotten, it seems like he suddenly changes topics, but he is not.   Saving the lost, as well as the little children, is a matter of reconciliation.

Mat 18:15  “If your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained back your brother. 

No description is given of what kind of sin a brother has done is given.  But if we stay on topic of the child, the sin might be a father confronting a brother who has molested his daughter, as a possibility.

Mat 18:16  But if he doesn’t listen, take one or two more with you, that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 

Mat 18:17  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly. If he refuses to hear the assembly [ekklesia] also, let him be to you as a Gentile or a tax collector. 

Jesus outlines his protocols of reconciliation.  Speak privately with the offender first, then without repentance and reconciliation, bring two or three witnesses to encourage repentance and reconciliation.  But if the offender refuses to repent, then the matter is brought before the body of Christ as the government [ekkelesia] of God on Earth.  If still unrepentant, the offender is to be regarded as a pagan, not a follower of Christ.

Mat 18:18  Most certainly I tell you, whatever things you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever things you release on earth will have been released in heaven. 

In verse 18 we see the authority of the ekklesia exercised.  Forbidding (binding) the offender to participate in the group also means, he gets cut off from the grace of God.

Paul dealt this same way with the Corinthian assembly.  

1Co 5:1  It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles, that one has his father’s wife. 

This was his direction.

1Co_5:5  To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

In other words the offender was forbidden (binding) from being in the group, which meant he was also forbidden from Heaven which is why he was delivered unto Satan. God’s protection was lifted off him and Satan had free reign in his life.

Mat 18:19  Again, assuredly I tell you, that if two of you will agree on earth concerning anything that they will ask, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven. 

Mat 18:20  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the middle of them.”

Again, when the point of the discourse is forgotten, verses are commonly used in ways not specifically intended by Christ.  That does not mean such use is wrong, just that it was not the primary point.  In these two verses of  19 and 20 we often hear that in 19 it is a power of agreement, and in 20 a gathering  (as for home congregations) only need to be two or three.  That is not the context.  The context is still dealing with unrepentance resulting in excommunication. The goal is reconciliation, but we are speaking of failed reconciliation in this context.  

So two agreeing in verse 19 is the authority of the ekklesia being exercised in forbidding fellowship with the unrepentant.  And verse 20 means that in that small ekklesia exercising their authority Christ is backing up their authority.   Please remember, too, that in the beginning when the two brothers are privately discussing, Christ is there, too, trying to help the repentance and reconciliation. Likewise when the offended comes back with 2 or 3 witnesses.

Even with pedophilia, Christ wants repentance followed with reconciliation.  Remember the Corinthian  scandal [skandalizo] of the believer who slept with his father’s wife?  He was excommunicated and later repented.  Paul had to remind Corinth that the heart of God is reconciliation, and that the brother should be brought back into fellowship.

2Co 2:6  This punishment which was inflicted by the many is sufficient for such a one; 

2Co 2:7  so that on the contrary you should rather forgive him and comfort him, lest by any means such a one should be swallowed up with his excessive sorrow. 

2Co 2:8  Therefore I beg you to confirm your love toward him. 

Peter understood the Lord’s heart, so he asks how often should we forgive?

Mat 18:21  Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?” 

Mat 18:22  Jesus said to him, “I don’t tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven. 

Jesus then tells the story of the debtor who was forgiven, but did not forgive others himself.

We don’t know when the child came off the Lord’s lap. For all we know the child had remained there the entire time.  In light of the news today, re-reading Matthew 18 put a whole new perspective on me. Woe unto those who have abused the little children.  God have mercy on them, and grant them repentance for forgiveness.

Appendix

I posted this on a general Christian forum before posting here.  Do not think that your house church is a totally safe haven.   My wife and I were a part of house church that was mostly just 2 families: one dad was Wycliff Bible translator and the other dad was a realtor.  They were good friends and both families had 5-6 children.   After a few months I made the comment that I never sensed the Holy Spirit in their gathering and friction developed between me and the Wycliff father.  Since it was their fellowship and we were guests, we bowed out and departed.

Three years later, the father who was a realtor contacted me out of the blue to apologize to me.  He said I was right.  The Wycliff dad had a 16 year old daughter and the she confessed to her mother that her dad and been sexually molesting her.  The second father wanted me to talk to the Wycliff dad.  I did not want to know any details, and when we met I only encouraged him to hold onto his repentance and the Lord would heal the wounds in his family over time.

Too many believers are unwilling to confront others.  I trust that in your gatherings, you can do so.

Lisa
  added a Discussion 

LIST or FIND house churches, simple churches or organic churches on this new site:  www.housechurchconnect.com   It’s completely free to use - no cost, no donations, no advertising.  It offers: 1) Easy, self-serve listing functionality, 2) The ability to search using Google mapping, and 3) Private, secure communication between those listing a house church and people searching for one.  Please consider listing YOUR house church, or a proposed one.  God bless you.

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As you would consider a church in your home, remember that you are acting upon an ancient Biblical and a historical precedent. A practical one, too. You are acting upon the Word of God - not reacting or overreacting to something or someone else. You are building upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, the solid rock.

Do not however expect too much nor too little from your initial endeavors. Thunder and lightning won't occur. Christian meetings, although essential, are not and were not meant to be an end in themselves. Their purpose is to equip, edify, encourage, and excite the saints for something else - ministry or service. The popular view that spirituality is essentially measured by the number of "services" that one attends is quite erroneous. We are recreated in Christ for good works. Ephesians. 2:10, Titus 2:14, Hebrews 10:24. Too many Christians seem to be living for the sole purpose of attending another meeting. This is living to eat instead of eating to live. This is buying an automobile in order to drive back and forth to the filling station.

What about yourself, dear reader? How is your progress in this new direction? Have you yet decided what to call your own meetings as you consider what ministries you will undertake and whom you would invite? Simply call it a Christian meeting, gathering, home fellowship, home church, house church, small group, or just church. 

Is someone suggesting that you are being too seperatistic? Simply invite that someone to your meeting! Did someone say that you have insufficient accountability? Invite this person to enter into a personal accountability relationship with you. Do you feel that you're not qualified to initiate a meeting? Wrong. Do you feel uncomfortable to lead in prayer? Pray silently then. Your confidence in this area will come later.

Do you feel that it would be improper to eat the Lord's Supper in your own home or even outdoors? Really? For what reason?

Did you ever notice that Scripture is completely silent about "starting a church". Or "organizing a church"? This is because there is but one church and it has already begun. Thus in Scripture, we read about those who "were added to the church" - not about those who started churches in this place or another.

Objections arise. "But we have no pastor". Maybe not but it is nothing to be ashamed of. Shepherds do not magically appear. It takes time and experience. Surely one would not fault a young couple who were childless. Nor would you accuse them of not having a real family. That would be cruel. 

Yes, the New Testament often speaks of leaders and simple organization. And of churches which are incomplete without them. But notice that the churches existed nonetheless. 

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. Titus 1:5.

And notice that the elders were city-wide elders in the above context. Interesting.

Simply said, if you are a Christian, you are a minister-servant of Jesus Christ and a priest unto the Lord God. You are the 'highest' which God has ordained to do the 'lowest'. Mark 9:35, Mark 10:44. Act accordingly and enter into God's glorious liberty. And fail not to accept the accompanying responsibility to spread the mercy and truth of our Risen Savior, as you find, disciple, and join with like-minded friends.

So, begin by beginning. Like skating in order to learn to skate. Like riding a bike to learn to ride a bike. Yes, the hardest part of a task is getting started. That is why we must continue to encourage one another as we enter the future by returning to the past.

Dan Beaty
  added a Discussion 

I have been wanting to get the results of my life-long study of biblical prophesy into a book form some day. What do y'all think of this title:

Where Do You Think You Are Going?

Is there a real purpose for your life, for humanity, or the planet earth? Is there a reason for our existence?

Does the bible and the teachings of Jesus lead us to despair, or to hope?

Carol Riordan
  added a Discussion 

I live in Long Island, NY and I'm looking into home churches.  Was wondering if anyone knows of any in this area?