Monthly Archives: October 2010

When Birds of a Feather Have too Far to Fly

Everybody showed up for church today. It was a packed house and it was so nice that the weather allowed us to open windows to welcome the breeze and rain cooled the air. When that many peeps pack a house, it can get mighty warm mighty fast. But today was pleasant and folks hung out later than usual. The small fries were able to run amuck outside and the older set played Ultimate Frisbee and some basketball. The dessert table included Pumpkin Rolls, Pumpkin Pie with Homemade Whipped Cream, and we made Pumpkin Crunch. The singing is always great and, though I’m dead tired and kept trying to fall asleep, there was a teaching time that was anointed. I was also blessed simply by the conversation shared among sisters. Very convicting. I was reminded of how a wife has the power to turn a perfectly decent husband into a monster, a lame husband into a worse one, or a monster into a perfectly decent husband. That’s another blog post.

Today’s biggest focus, besides Christ, of course, was the imminent departure of our friends from South Africa. Walter, Elaine, Janna, Nadia, and little François. They have spent the past year with us as dear friends and members of our church. For most of the past year, Lenae took Autumn and Isabelle to the our friends’ home each Monday to give a ballet lesson to help them learn English, have friends their own age and, of course, learn ballet basics. Lenae used what she has learned from working at Dance Techniques and it was fun to watch her put together lesson plans for them and talk about how each lesson went. There were days they stayed longer so the girls could play. The friendships made between the girls and the bond that Lenae developed with Elaine were precious to watch. We’re already talking about sending Lenae to visit in South Africa after we can save up enough money.

It’s been fun learning about the differences as well as similarities in our cultures. What’s been especially enjoyable has been sharing the love of cooking with Elaine. She’s a fabulous cook and always goes over the top. We’re likeminded in the importance of presentation and experimenting. When we asked her what her likes and dislikes of American cuisine are, she said she likes it all. If she weren’t moving back, we would put her to work at our shop. She said if she were staying, she would love to. Man, I wish we had opened earlier!

Elaine and I also like to laugh. We enjoy good humor and good jokes. Her joy is contagious and I’m going to miss having that around. If laughter is good medicine, I’m a healthier person because of Elaine. As it usually goes, I regret I didn’t take the time to get to know her better earlier in the year.

So, this week, our friends will be heading back home on an 18 hour flight with little kids (pray for them!) and they have so many mixed emotions. They’ve missed their family and friends and country but will miss being here. My emotions aren’t mixed at all. I’ve already had the tears fall a few times the past week (and tonight) and I would love it if all of their family just moved here. But, since that can’t happen, we’re already having serious discussions about saving for a trip to South Africa, preferably around New Year’s because they have this way-awesome international fireworks competition at Cape Town! Who knew? Until then, thank God for internet. I’m gonna have to learn to use Skype.

Play With Your Food!

Michelle

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I See a Sign!

After finding out that our “sign person” is booked until the end of the year, we debated (for about 2 minutes) about whether to spend twice as much to hire a professional sign company to make our signs or go at it ourselves. We had already purchased materials to make the street sign so Natalie said she was game. I went to Officemax with our logo on my flash drive and, as our sign lady said they would, they delivered. We now have our logo printed as big as life (okay 24″x 36″) and ready to stencil onto our already primed sign. Natalie will start on that today. We also had my FIL come to the shop and move the phone lines to where we want them while sharing with Benjamin his knowledge on the subject (while snapping at him occasionally in a way that only a Grandpa can get away with – it didn’t faze Ben at all, but if (when) I do that, then I’m being mean. Not fair.) Anyhoo, the previous owner, for whatever reason, had multiple phone jacks on the “appliance” side of the shop while the counter side had a couple of lines dangling there for the security system and another that was damaged. We’re “all good” now and have our charge card machine, fax and phone ready to roll!

That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.

Ecclesiastes 3:13

Today, I MUST needs stay home. Besides starting a business, it’s seasonal switchover time for 13 people and we host church on Sunday! And I just need to stay home. I don’t know how much longer I will have that opportunity!

I will stay home. You can’t make me leave…

I don’t have time to blog but feel compelled to tell somebody, anybody that I am staying home today. Every day that I purposed to be home for a day, duty has called me, demanded that I go somewhere. I have been trying for some time to explain to my DH, who is also frustrated with my non-stop running, that starting a business would require a huge amount of busy-ness and running to and fro is a part of the deal.I confess I’ve been anxious about this because I already have a full-time job being a homeschool mom of many. BUT, today, I am determined that I will be home, I will conquer the mountains, albeit organized mountains, of seasonal switchover, plan the menu for church on Sunday, have the house clean, pay bills, do some marketing, AND homeschool….all in a single bound. I do, in fact, take Supermom pills and something makes me think I should go take them…I’m going to need them.

I have been asking God over and over again how I am suppose to be a homeschooling mom while doing this catering thing but Craig keeps reassuring me that God wants us to do this and He already has it all figured out. Dear God, being the coordinator of all things homeschool AND business start-up, I really need You to let me in on the plan so I know how to do this. I realize our mornings are starting earlier and earlier and am counting on those hours for school but I need to know the rest of the game plan. Thank You.

Well, with the hub-bub of getting the day going, I cannot think to write so will call this one short and sweet. And that’s okay, because I’m staying home with my precious hub-bub makers and I’m going to enjoy every interruption.

Play with your food!

Michelle

God’s Family Get-Together

Last night, a small group gathered to hear the amazing teaching of Beresford Job from the U.K. who is travelling around the States this fall with his wife, Belinda, and daughter, Bethany. It’s always a treat to have the privilege to hear someone who has so thoroughly scrutinized the Word of God, looking only at Scripture, its origins, it’s language, structure, context and Divine inspiration without the influence of man’s interpretation (or misinterpretation, as the case may be). That being said, what follows are from my notes from last night’s teaching and I am just passing along these truths that have been misunderstood for way too long.

First of all, if we can know one thing about a church in the New Testament, we can, typically, know what is true of all the churches. i.e. scriptures addressing or referring to “all the churches,” “As in all the congregations of the saints” -1 Cor. 14:33b, etc. We also know that the apostles taught the same thing about everything. They didn’t each have their own version of how things should be done. There was consistency. In the NT, the test of if a church was truly a church was they were conforming to all the other churches.

So, 4 things in Scripture that characterizes the church of the New Testament:

  1. Leadership – For any institution to function, some form of “government” is needed. Even in marriage, there is a form of “government” necessary. In the Bible, the church leaders are referred to elders, bishops/overseers, pastors/shepherds. These terms are synonymous for the same people. Beresford told us to underline this: Scripture knows nothing of the pastor/minister of a church. Especially one brought in from the outside.Church government and decision-making was by consensus. Elders were part of the decision-making process but were not the decision-makers. Also, the church leaders were raised up from within the church, not brought in from elsewhere. There’s no “power pyramid” in Scripture. There are many little men, not a few “big” men and certainly no “expert” in charge of it all.
  2. Whenever a church is located in Scripture, it’s located in the home, without exception. The church, by its purpose and Biblical example, is meant to be numerically small, which will shock most Christians as today’s church believes the bigger, the better. The design is small as opposed to big because of its purpose. Beresford offered the parallel of the purpose of an airplane. Its purpose is to fly people from one place to another therefore; it is designed to do so. If you remove the wings of the plane while it’s over the ocean, it becomes a rather ineffective submarine. If you change the design, you compromise its function. The function of the church: it’s an extended family of God’s people – “the household of God” (Eph. 2:19, 1 Tim. 3:15). If you’re a believer, you are literally my brother or sister; God is literally our Father. What is the church? A family. Again, another underline, Scripture has no knowledge of a church building. No church met elsewhere other that the home. Also, when joining the small church, you are delivered from two evils: a. churches in competition with each other and b. “Ego” leaders from the outside will go looking for other fish to fry.

    3 & 4 address what happened when the church was gathered:

  3. There was a time of worship, prayer, teaching, sharing, ministering of the Spirit, et al. Many as possible would make small contributions to the gathering time as opposed to a few or one making a large contribution. Scripture has no knowledge of a church service. The church service was created in the 2nd century by church leaders and is not merely different from the original design, it is the opposite.
  4. They ate a meal together. The Lord’s Supper, the bridal supper, the love feast…it was a MEAL! The loaf and the cup were a part of the meal and stood in for the physical presence of Jesus. God’s Word says He’s there with us but until He eats with us in person, we remember His presence through the breaking of bread and drinking of the “cup” and we share a feast that looks forward to the wedding feast to come.

These four things define the New Testament church. Again, form follows function. The church’s function – God’s family. What do families do? They hang out, catch up, help each other, relate to one another, eat together, play together – this takes time! A church gathering is a family get-together. Picture a family get-together with Granddad at the front of the room in front of rows of chairs and he offers a pep talk to the family. A couple of others give a few comments, announcements, and then everyone goes home. Ironically, some family members will meet at a restaurant or home for lunch. (I think we know instinctively inside this is how it’s suppose to be). Unfortunately, in institutional church, many “family members” are excluded from the cliques gathering for the Sunday lunch. That’s because the family has become dysfunctional. Dysfunctional family = unbiblical church (remember – you change the form, you compromise the function). Today’s church is the real church, it’s just dysfunctional. Try having fellowship with 500 of your closest friends.

In the Bible, there is no salary for ministering. There are scriptures used to justify this; “a worker is worth his hire,” etc. but these are NOT referring to the function of the church gathering. We need to get back to making the Scripture the final authority on church life. We’ve bought into the idea that the Bible is the final authority on everything but church life.

“What about digging into deep doctrines?” Daily study and teaching doesn’t belong in the Lord’s Day gathering. Teaching happened! But not on Sunday. There was sharing, testimony, singing, praying. Some make the argument that the New Testament church gathered in homes because they were underground. That’s simply not true. Some were, but the persecution was spasmodic and had not become widespread until later. Not all churches were persecuted. There is no instance of the church gathering in a building. Some will say “but the church building is a lighthouse to the community.” Um, that’s not what Jesus said. We’re to “live such good lives among the pagans that they see your good works and praise our Father in heaven.” Paul would rent a hall for teaching. Peter would evangelize. Interestingly enough, every religion at the time worshiped in a building. Christians were considered atheists since they didn’t meet in a building. They were asked, “Where does your God live?” They could have but didn’t. And yet, there was no time the church spread more. Relying on a building is a mistake. They met in houses because that’s what the apostles taught them. There were no denominations.

How can small churches “cough up” all of the ministries needed? “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Eph. 4:11-13 Word got out about Paul without a building. Churches in Greece got finances together to help the Jerusalem during famine. Ministry is NEVER hierarchal. We’ve made the mistake of relying on ministries to do the works of service rather than people…families working together as God’s family.

A little history – in 95 A.D., Clement of Rome said, “Let’s have a priesthood.” Your relationship with God depended on your relationship with a bishop. In 150 A.D., the priesthood decided if you were a Christian or not. These are the roots of today’s institutional church. No wonder it doesn’t look like a family.

Beresford noted that whatever the current move of God is, it’s considered bizarre, weird, off the wall, and peculiar. That’s been the case throughout history. Home church, or house church, is considered the “lunatic fringe” right now, except in China where it’s been growing at an unstoppable rate. And, wouldn’t you know, China has more Christians than America, now. Hmmmm. Coincidence?

There’s also something to be said for the house church’s sustainability – “Divorce isn’t’ an option.” You won’t have fewer problems you will have more but you’ll have the problems that sanctify you.

Evangelism isn’t the job of the church; it’s the job of Christians. The job of the church is the same as family – to nurture, love and support its members. Church growth should not be a measuring stick. Healthy church is measured by the Gospel going out through its relationships.

TODAY’S PRAYER FOR OUR CHILDREN: Father God, I pray our children will read Your Word with open eyes and open heart. I pray they are teachable and will love You and Your Word so much, they will earnestly seek Your Truth as they grow in wisdom and discernment. In Jesus, amen.