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   Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10

Dan Beaty
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This question was raised in a book entitled, "The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages Upon the Christian Church." It is striking when you think about the emphasis Jesus placed on our attitudes and actions and the very lack of that emphasis found in most of the creeds.

It is not suggested that we should abandon the creeds, but what would happen if we took the sermon on the mount more seriously?

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By John Broadus DD, LLD, 1890

It requires an almost impossible effort of historical imagination to appreciate the change which Christianity has wrought in the feelings of mankind with regard to the poor. Still, even in Christian countries, the poor are often despised and neglected and wronged. But this much at least is true, that all men know it ought to be otherwise, and that very many strive, in various and helpful ways, to have it otherwise. Jesus of Nazareth has been the best friend the poor have ever had in human history and his faithful and wise followers will try in this also to be like him.

Yet we have seen that he was no enemy of wealth, that he had special friends and devoted followers who were wealthy. And there is nothing in his teachings to encourage the notion that equality in human possessions is desirable or possible.

In this connection it may be well to make a slight digression, and notice a very common and very grave misunderstanding as to the generosity of the Saviour's followers in Jerusalem during the years that immediately succeeded his departure. The phrase is used in Acts, "they had all things common"; and it is stated that even the holders of real estate would sell it and bring the money to the Apostles for the support of the brethren. Hence the idea has grown widely current that these Christians at Jerusalem were really Communists, that every one who joined them at once gave up his entire possessions to a common fund and there was no longer any private ownership. And from this supposed fact various inferences have been drawn by friend and foe. But it is not a fact. It can be proven from the record that they were not Communists. 

When Ananias sold a piece of land, and brought a part of the proceeds to the Apostles, making the impression that he had brought all, as others were doing, Peter said to him, "While it remained, did it not remain thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thy power?" His sin was not in withholding a part, but in lying to inspired men, lying against God. Now this language of Peter is absolutely incompatible with the idea that every Christian at once gave up all his property to a common fund. The Apostle declares that the property was his own while it remained unsold; and that after it was sold, the money was in his own power. He was under no necessity of selling, or of turning over the proceeds. 

Think of it and this clearly shows that no real Communism prevailed among them. What then is meant by the phrase "they had all things common"? It means that they held all their property as for the common benefit. Listen: "and not one of them said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own but they had all things common." No one said that any part of his property was his own. It was his own, but he did not so speak of it. He regarded and treated his property as held for the benefit of his brethren. 

A reader of the Greek will notice that here and throughout the following passage every verb is in the imperfect tense showing what happened from time to time as the brethren saw need and felt moved: "as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them and brought the prices of the things that were sold and laid them at the Apostles' feet; and distribution was made unto each, according as any one had need." Every verb is in the imperfect tense. (Acts 4:32-35; likewise in 2:43-47.) One Christian this month, and another the next month, would bring money, even selling property for the purpose; and this went on during the several years embraced in the first six chapters of Acts. Thus you see that this was not at all a case of Communism. 

It was a case of extraordinary generosity, called for by extraordinary needs. Many of these first believers had come up to the great Pentecost, with only money enough for a short visit and a return. And here they were remaining for months and years. Others had been fishermen on the Lake of Galilee, and at Jerusalem had no means of livelihood; others were poor Jews at Jerusalem, accustomed to receive help from the contributions of wealthy Jews in foreign countries, and cut off from this as soon as they became Christians. Rejoicing together in their new faith and hope and love, those of them who had property gladly contributed, as they saw occasion, for the support of their brethren. All this ceased of course when the disciples were scattered in every direction by the persecution that arose in connection with Stephen. And it is greatly to be regretted that this magnificent example of Christian generosity should be popularly mistaken for an attempt at Communism and even sometimes represented as turning out to be impracticable - and thereby showing itself to be unwise.

The fact that in this and various other cases the ethical teachings of Christianity have been widely misunderstood, must not prevent us from recognizing and endeavoring fully to appreciate how much the Saviour really taught that was new to the world, and among the greatest blessings ever brought to mankind. When he said "give to him that asketh," it was (as we have seen) not a mere rule, requiring or authorizing to scatter alms with blind negligence, since God, who is held forth as our example, gives to those who ask him, but gives wisely and yet it is a precept that stirs every true Christian heart to benevolence. Whether we shall give to needy individuals upon casual application or shall in general prefer to give through carefully organized effort, is a question of expediency and practical wisdom ; but in some way, yea, in all ways that are not palpably unwise, we must give. It is in accordance with the whole spirit of Christianity that we should not merely relieve human suffering, but that we should strive to prevent it.

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God is changing the Church, and that, in turn, will change the world. Millions of Christians around the world are aware of an imminent reformation of global proportions. They say, in effect: "Church as we know it is preventing Church as God wants it." A growing number of them are surprisingly hearing God say the very same things. There is a collective new awareness of age-old revelations, a corporate spiritual echo. In the following "15 Theses" I will summarize a part of this, and I am convinced that it reflects a part of what the Spirit of God is saying to the Church today. For some, it might be the proverbial fist-sized cloud on Elijah's sky. Others already feel the pouring rain.

1. Church is a Way of Life, not a series of religious meetings

Before they where called Christians, followers of Christ have been called "The Way". One of the reasons was, that they have literally found "the way to live." The nature of Church is not reflected in a constant series of religious meetings lead by professional clergy in holy rooms specially reserved to experience Jesus, but in the prophetic way followers of Christ live their everyday life in spiritually extended families as a vivid answer to the questions society faces, at the place where it counts most: in their homes.

2. Time to change the system

In aligning itself to the religious patterns of the day, the historic Orthodox Church after Constantine in the 4th century AD adopted a religious system which was in essence Old Testament, complete with priests, altar, a Christian temple (cathedral), frankincense and a Jewish, synagogue-style worship pattern. The Roman Catholic Church went on to canonize the system. Luther did reform the content of the gospel, but left the outer forms of "church" remarkably untouched; the Free-Churches freed the system from the State, the Baptists then baptized it, the Quakers dry-cleaned it, the Salvation Army put it into a uniform, the Pentecostals anointed it and the Charismatics renewed it, but until today nobody has really changed the superstructure. It is about time to do just that.

3. The Third Reformation

In rediscovering the gospel of salvation by faith and grace alone, Luther started to reform the Church through a reformation of theology. In the 18th century through movements like the Moravians there was a recovery of a new intimacy with God, which led to a reformation of spirituality, the Second Reformation. Now God is touching the wineskins themselves, initiating a Third Reformation, a reformation of structure.

4. From Church-Houses to house-churches

Since New Testament times, there is no such thing as "a house of God". At the cost of his life, Stephen reminded unequivocally: God does not live in temples made by human hands. The Church is the people of God. The Church, therefore, was and is at home where people are at home: in ordinary houses. There, the people of God: ~Share their lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, ~Have "meatings," that is, they eat when they meet, ~They often do not even hesitate to sell private property and share material and spiritual blessings, ~Teach each other in real-life situations how to obey God's word, dialogue - and not professor-style, `~Pray and prophesy with each other, baptize, `lose their face' and their ego by confessing their sins, ~Regaining a new corporate identity by experiencing love, acceptance and forgiveness.

5. The church has to become small in order to grow big

Most churches of today are simply too big to provide real fellowship. They have too often become "fellowships without fellowship." The New Testament Church was a mass of small groups, typically between 10 and 15 people. It grew not upward into big congregations between 20 and 300 people filling a cathedral and making real, mutual communication improbable. Instead, it multiplied "sidewards", like organic cells, once these groups reached around 15-20 people. Then, if possible, it drew all the Christians together into citywide celebrations, as with Solomon's Temple court in Jerusalem. The traditional congregational church as we know it is, statistically speaking, neither big nor beautiful, but rather a sad compromise, an overgrown house-church and an under-grown celebration, often missing the dynamics of both.

6. No church is led by a Pastor alone

The local church is not led by a Pastor, but fathered by an Elder, a local person of wisdom and reality. The local house-churches are then networked into a movement by the combination of elders and members of the so-called five-fold ministries (Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Evangelists and Teachers) circulating "from house to house," whereby there is a special foundational role to play for the apostolic and prophetic ministries (Eph. 2:20, and 4:11.12). A Pastor (shepherd) is a very necessary part of the whole team, but he cannot fulfill more than a part of the whole task of "equipping the saints for the ministry," and has to be complemented synergistically by the other four ministries in order to function properly.

7. The right pieces - fitted together in the wrong way

In doing a puzzle, we need to have the right original for the pieces, otherwise the final product, the whole picture, turns out wrong, and the individual pieces do not make much sense. This has happened to large parts of the Christian world: we have all the right pieces, but have fitted them together wrong, because of fear, tradition, religious jealousy and a power-and-control mentality. As water is found in three forms, ice, water and steam, the five ministries mentioned in Eph. 4:11-12, the Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists are also found today, but not always in the right forms and in the right places: they are often frozen to ice in the rigid system of institutionalized Christianity; they sometimes exist as clear water; or they have vanished like steam into the thin air of free-flying ministries and "independent" churches, accountable to no-one. As it is best to water flowers with the fluid version of water, these five equipping ministries will have to be transformed back into new, and at the same time age-old, forms, so that the whole spiritual organism can flourish and the individual "ministers" can find their proper role and place in the whole. That is one more reason why we need to return back to the Maker's original and blueprint for the Church.

8. God does not leave the Church in the hands of bureaucratic clergy

No expression of a New Testament church is ever led by just one professional "holy man" doing the business of communicating with God and then feeding some relatively passive religious consumers Moses-style. Christianity has adopted this method from pagan religions, or at best from the Old Testament. The heavy professionalisation of the church since Constantine has now been a pervasive influence long enough, dividing the people of God artificially into laity and clergy. According to the New Testament (1 Tim. 2:5), "there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." God simply does not bless religious professionals to force themselves in-between people and God forever. The veil is torn, and God is allowing people to access Himself directly through Jesus Christ, the only Way. To enable the priesthood of all believers, the present system will have to change completely. Bureaucracy is the most dubious of all administrative systems, because it basically asks only two questions: yes or no. There is no room for spontaneity and humanity, no room for real life. This may be OK for politics and companies, but not the Church. God seems to be in the business of delivering His Church from a Babylonian captivity of religious bureaucrats and controlling spirits into the public domain, the hands of ordinary people made extraordinary by God, who, like in the old days, may still smell of fish, perfume and revolution.

9. Return from organized to organic forms of Christianity

The "Body of Christ" is a vivid description of an organic, not an organized, being. Church consists on its local level of a multitude of spiritual families, which are organically related to each other as a network, where the way the pieces are functioning together is an integral part of the message of the whole. What has become a maximum of organization with a minimum of organism, has to be changed into a minimum of organization to allow a maximum of organism. Too much organization has, like a straightjacket, often choked the organism for fear that something might go wrong. Fear is the opposite of faith, and not exactly a Christian virtue. Fear wants to control, faith can trust. Control, therefore, may be good, but trust is better. The Body of Christ is entrusted by God into the hands of steward-minded people with a supernatural charismatic gift to believe God that He is still in control, even if they are not. A development of trust-related regional and national networks, not a new arrangement of political ecumenism is necessary for organic forms of Christianity to reemerge.

10. From worshipping our worship to worshipping God

The image of much of contemporary Christianity can be summarized, a bit euphemistically, as holy people coming regularly to a holy place at a holy day at a holy hour to participate in a holy ritual lead by a holy man dressed in holy clothes against a holy fee. Since this regular performance-oriented enterprise called "worship service" requires a lot of organizational talent and administrative bureaucracy to keep going, formalized and institutionalized patterns developed quickly into rigid traditions. Statistically, a traditional 1-2 hour "worship service" is very resource-hungry but actually produces very little fruit in terms of discipling people, that is, in changed lives. Economically speaking, it might be a "high input and low output" structure. Traditionally, the desire to "worship in the right way" has led to much denominationalism, confessionalism and nominalism. This not only ignores that Christians are called to "worship in truth and in spirit," not in cathedrals holding songbooks, but also ignores that most of life is informal, and so is Christianity as "the Way of Life." Do we need to change from being powerful actors to start "acting powerfully?"

11. Stop bringing people to church, and start bringing the church to the people

The church is changing back from being a Come-structure to being again a Go-structure. As one result, the Church needs to stop trying to bring people "into the church," and start bringing the Church to the people. The mission of the Church will never be accomplished just by adding to the existing structure; it will take nothing less than a mushrooming of the church through spontaneous multiplication of itself into areas of the population of the world, where Christ is not yet known.

12. Rediscovering the "Lord's Supper" to be a real supper with real food

Church tradition has managed to "celebrate the Lord's Supper" in a homeopathic and deeply religious form, characteristically with a few drops of wine, a tasteless cookie and a sad face. However, the "Lord's Supper" was actually more a substantial supper with a symbolic meaning, than a symbolic supper with a substantial meaning. God is restoring eating back into our meeting.

13. From Denominations to city-wide celebrations

Jesus called a universal movement, and what came was a series of religious companies with global chains marketing their special brands of Christianity and competing with each other. Through this branding of Christianity most of Protestantism has, therefore, become politically insignificant and often more concerned with traditional specialties and religious infighting than with developing a collective testimony before the world. Jesus simply never asked people to organize themselves into denominations. In the early days of the Church, Christians had a dual identity: they were truly His church and vertically converted to God, and then organized themselves according to geography, that is, converting also horizontally to each other on earth. This means not only Christian neighbors organizing themselves into neighborhood- or house-churches, where they share their lives locally, but Christians coming together as a collective identity as much as they can for citywide or regional celebrations expressing the corporateness of the Church of the city or region. Authenticity in the neighborhoods connected with a regional or citywide corporate identity will make the Church not only politically significant and spiritually convincing, but will allow a return to the biblical model of the City-Church.

14. Developing a persecution-proof spirit

They crucified Jesus, the Boss of all the Christians. Today, his followers are often more into titles, medals and social respectability, or, worst of all, they remain silent and are not worth being noticed at all. "Blessed are you when you are persecuted", says Jesus. Biblical Christianity is a healthy threat to pagan godlessness and sinfulness, a world overcome by greed, materialism, jealousy and any amount of demonic standards of ethics, sex, money and power. Contemporary Christianity in many countries is simply too harmless and polite to be worth persecuting. But as Christians again live out New Testament standards of life and, for example, call sin as sin, conversion or persecution has been, is and will be the natural reaction of the world. Instead of nesting comfortably in temporary zones of religious liberty, Christians will have to prepare to be again discovered as the main culprits against global humanism, the modern slavery of having to have fun and the outright worship of Self, the wrong centre of the universe. That is why Christians will and must feel the "repressive tolerance" of a world which has lost any absolutes and therefore refuses to recognize and obey its creator God with his absolute standards. Coupled with the growing ideologisation, privatization and spiritualisation of politics and economics, Christians will, sooner than most think, have their chance to stand happily accused in the company of Jesus. They need to prepare now for the future by developing a persecution-proof spirit and an even more persecution-proof structure.

15. The Church comes home

Where is the easiest place, say, for a man to be spiritual? Maybe again, is it hiding behind a big pulpit, dressed up in holy robes, preaching holy words to a faceless crowd and then disappearing into an office? And what is the most difficult, and therefore most meaningful, place for a man to be spiritual? At home, in the presence of his wife and children, where everything he does and says is automatically put through a spiritual litmus test against reality, where hypocrisy can be effectively weeded out and authenticity can grow. Much of Christianity has fled the family, often as a place of its own spiritual defeat, and then has organized artificial performances in sacred buildings far from the atmosphere of real life. As God is in the business of recapturing the homes, the church turns back to its roots, back to where it came from. It literally comes home, completing the circle of Church history at the end of world history.

As Christians of all walks of life, from all denominations and backgrounds, feel a clear echo in their spirit to what God's Spirit is saying to the Church, and start to hear globally in order to act locally, they begin to function again as one body. They organize themselves into neighborhood house-churches and meet in regional or city-celebrations. You are invited to become part of this movement and make your own contribution. Maybe your home, too, will become a house that changes the world.

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Jayne
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This is the one minute elevator version. The story begins and ends with the glory of God - to the amazement of and benefit to all mankind. He extends his love to us for his own glory. His name is love and love is what he does. Known in Christian circles as 'grace'.

His love motivates us to love others. So true it is that the Scriptures can say: "Whoever is born of God loves the brethren." What could be more natural? Love always desires the company or fellowship of it's object, be it one or more persons.

And what could be more natural and instinctive than to eat with and meet with other Christians in a domestic setting? Thus house church - a simple, time-proven, low-cost arrangement for young and old.

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. Acts 2:46

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Jayne
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Tommy Harris
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I was reading tonight and just noticed something in the story of the Centurion who was asking Jesus for a healing for his friend.

When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. 2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6 So Jesus went with them. Luke 7.

The centurion loved his nation. What does it mean to love your nation? Our country is not at peace with itself. How do we love our nation? My real citizenship is in heaven but is there something else?

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David Anderson
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After the Corona Virus and new work at home opportunities, many corporations see less and less use for a physical headquarters. The Church of Christ should also consider this question. Truth is, many of the denominations which have a Headquarters are completely out of touch or even at odds with those they claim to represent on the local level.

Would I post a portion of an article like this? Because the church should be able to learn from the business world if it can and should. After all, Jesus had much to say about stewardship. Likewise, he mentioned that the sons of the world are for their own generation wiser than the children of light” (Luke 16:8). 

More importantly, Jesus is Lord of all things - that includes business and commerce. This is the reason he could advise his hearers to "make friends with money." (Luke 16:9) But I digress.

A church building, likewise, is something which is unnecessary and can even be a hindrance. But not in every case, I must freely admit.

From a recent Inc Magazine, for your enjoyment:

Many start ups are, of course, launched out of home offices or proverbial garages. However, there's usually an assumption that, if your start-up is successful, you'll need to rent office space to continue to grow the business.

However, one of the cool things about our wired-up business world is that almost every function that a small company needs can be handled remotely or contracted out. Since that's so, why spend money on corporate headquarters?

Take, for example, Fractured Prune Doughnuts, a quick-service doughnut franchise that's rapidly grown from 1 to 25 outlets. Despite what you'd naturally assume given a company of that size, CEO Dan Brinton has only two corporate employees on his payroll.

Rather than paying for posh headquarters and flying potential franchisees to headquarters for meetings, Brinton brings his "corporate headquarters" (essentially him and his laptop) to wherever it's needed.

In 2014, Brinton spent 223 days on the road meeting with franchisees to launch new stores. This has allowed him to spend as much time as possible assisting franchisees with their openings, while avoiding the hassle and expense of managing a physical office.

In addition, because Brinton needn't worry about relocation costs, he can contract work to the most experienced professionals (production, marketing, PR, etc.) regardless of where those professionals prefer to live.

This allows Brinton to focus on franchisee success and his vision for the company, rather than office management and politics. It also ensures that the growth of his company "is organic and not merely growth for its own sake."

Brinton makes an important point here, because once established, corporate headquarters have a tendency to take on a life of their own.

I've worked with many companies whose palatial headquarters are full of figureheads and bureaucrats whose primary job is proving their own importance by vetoing good ideas and road-blocking productive work.

Although much of the business world still considers fancy headquarters to be a sign of success, a big corporate headquarters only represents "growth" in the sense that a tumor represents growth.

In most companies, the disappearance of corporate headquarters would be a net gain in productivity because the real work (design, manufacturing, sales, support, etc.) takes place elsewhere...


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Tommy Harris
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Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. (NASB)

I am one of those parents who claimed Proverbs 22:6 as a definite promise. I understood that it's inclusion within the scriptures designated it as God-breathed. 

Is it a promise or a possible hope? I struggle letting it go as merely a hope. Yet I just see more and more instances where the children do not follow the parents even into middle-age and even later.

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librarian
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Look closely. Can you read the words on the wall? 

He always seems so happy. Now we know why...

Matt Risinger is a DIY hero who loves to share his knowledge and his home and his Saviour. 

https://buildshownetwork.com

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David Anderson
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We don't hear too much from Gene Edwards lately. I recently noticed that 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. His 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.

For more information.

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

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David Anderson
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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

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Tommy Harris
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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?


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David Anderson
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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.

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Robert Pineda
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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!

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librarian
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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.

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

Thanks

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Dan Beaty
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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.

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Jayne
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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

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David Anderson
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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.

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

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Dan Beaty
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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!

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Alexander
   adds 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.

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"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.

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