Well, I had a feeling. I had a “feeling” in January that I would be going to the Third Day concert in Lexington in March. As the time drew near, it was NOT looking good. I was hoping to take Ben and Noah as I knew I would be taking Jillian and Natalie on a road trip in May and wanted to spend some “hang-out time” with them. Gas prices being what they are and deposit on a cruise being what it is, I had pretty much given up hope but I still felt like I was suppose to go. As it turned out, the boys were invited to an Air Soft War the same weekend and they would much rather go shoot and be shot than tag along with me to a concert so I asked Craig if he wanted to go. OF COURSE he wanted to go but he couldn’t get off and was still concerned about the cost. Last Wednesday, two days before the concert, I got an email from Merchandise X saying they needed help with A-team (my preference). My only hope for even being able to be admitted to the concert was working merchandise as it was a sold-out show and you get a free ticket when you work merchandise. You also get a t-shirt. Sweet deal. That same day, my dear Gomer friend, Robyn from Detroit, called about going to the show with me and splitting gas. God cares about the little things. Especially me because I’m His favorite.
The next day, Robyn was crashing at my place and Friday morning we were up and on our way before dawn. I love road trips! We worked merchandise together before at the Ft. Wayne concert and we make a pretty darn good team. It’s work but it’s fun and a “relaxing productivity.” We were just starting to get busy when some goofball came out on the balcony walkway over the foyer and started singing opera or something to us. I looked up to see who the weirdo making me laugh was and it was Tai Anderson. He he he….
After working, Robyn and I hung out a bit and debated on whether we wanted to risk giving up our sweet parking place. The threat of rain said, “You know, if you walk to get lunch, I’m going to dump buckets on you.” So we drove and it just drizzled. We ate at J.J. McBrewster’s, some mighty fine barbecue! Our table greeted us with this:
We were so humored, we bought a bottle for Mac.
The pulled BBQ Pork with fixins was DE-lish! We were so stuffed!
After lunch, we returned to Quest Community Church to find that our ringmaster, Lisa, did in fact, need more help which we were happy to provide. After that, the crowds started to arrive and the Wired wristbands were being distributed. That was another treat – our Wired membership expired in December and we can’t afford to renew just yet. I had resigned myself to just going to the concert – that was enough for me! Robyn had mentioned that she was pretty sure we could figure something out but the thought occurred to me that I have wonderful friends called Gomers and I knew several were going to the Lexington concert. I posted on the FB page asking if anyone going with a family membership could add me as a friend. NatiGrl Gomer came to the rescue so I was able to go the Meet & Greet, too! Thanks so much Natalie!
It was great to see several friends there and to partake in the Q & A and M & G. The guys are so genuine and a joy to be around. They really are some of the friendliest people and, though some M&Gs are crazy like Friday due to large crowds, that they take the time to visit with as many of their fans as possible shows just what gents they are.
After the M & G, we went to the auditorium, and it was packed. We just “so happened” to sit just across the aisle from the DeChants, dear friends we met a Third Day concert some time ago. They are sweethearts and I was SO happy to see them! Another Gomer, Chelsie & her mom sat with us. Gomers behind us. Worshiping together was tremendous!
Robyn had led the way to seats that “just so happened” to be where the guys parked their acoustic set (which I had forgotten about). I’m tellin’ ya, I’m God’s favorite.
SO, we were treated, not only to front row, they also played Love Song which I had requested on Twitter. Whether that’s the reason they decided to add it to the set list or not, who cares? They played it and it was Goosebump-worship-time!
This was the next best thing to being in front row. Just sayin’.
As if I had not been spoiled enough, there was an after-show acoustic concert with Nigel (he sure knows what to do with a harmonica), Matt Maher, Trevor Morgan and Mac. It was incredible! I got a feeling, alright: that I’m God’s favorite. Have I mentioned that?
Third Day rocked the house. But more than that, I was lost in worship during this concert. The fellowship, singing and dancing – that’s what I was needing after being over-extended and overwhelmed for way too long. God knew that. I “had a feeling” He knew what I needed.
If you’ve never been to a Third Day concert, you don’t know what you’re missing. You also have to go to at least one to be qualified to make fun of how psycho us Gomers are about our band. Then…you’ll be one of us and find yourself making fun of yourself for being so psycho! Besides….
I got a feeling we’re going to have a fantabulous time in Raleigh when we gather with Gomers for a big partay! (FYI for those not in the know, I Got a Feeling is a Third Day song, just in case you didn’t figure that out.)
What’s not shared is lost,
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!
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:
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
That’s the word that describes a day like today. Of course, during the morning rush to be ready to host our home church, I gave my traditional threats to never host again. But things came together, our church family arrived, a meal was shared, and the weather was hand-delivered from Heaven. Being able to, once again, be outside for our worship time was such a blessing! I wish I could describe the serenity that comes with home church. All of our members are still sinners, mind you, but having been over-committed and too busy for livin’ in my previous life in “regular” church, “doing” church as described in the New Testament has been such a sanctuary. Sanctuary is the very reason we started fellowshipping with this group; we were struggling with how involved with youth and children’s activities we should be. We’re already homeschooling and peer dependency/pressure was one reason we chose that route. Watching our young ladies struggle with there self-image, attitudes toward their siblings and
parents, and basic respect and maturity caused us to prayerfully consider the possibility that all those books and homeschool convention speakers were right about the negative effects of youth group. (A brief trip down memory lane helped as well). Michael Pearl wrote and excellent article on Sanctuary that convicted us and led us to home church. In the article, he talked about how the church today is more of a mission field than a sanctuary and families need sanctuary; it’s how we’re wired and what God intended the church to be. The church was never meant to be an evangelistic tool, believe it or not. WE are the evangelists and the church is for, eh hem, the church. It’s for building each other up, teaching, singing praises to our Creator. But what about seekers? That’s what hospitality is for. But people are too busy doing church crud, school band and athletics, etc. to be hospitable. Nuff said.
I believe it pleases God when his church gathers as a family reunion and spends the day together. You get to know people when you spend that much time together, and they get to know you. There’s no faking it – problems can’t hide, sorrows will be shared, as will the joys. There’s no denying that God works through institutional church and that the Holy Spirit moves amongst His people wherever they are called to be. I just know that more and more folks are feeling the weight of doctrines and activities and division and activities and pressure and traditions and activities, and, and, and just want to be with God’s people. Winds are changing – this may be a part of it.
I posted on Facebook that I’m sure they played Ultimate
Frisbee in Corinth. A friend said,”They probably called it
Ultimatum di Fresbee.”
Natalie and friend in
our “balcony seats.”
Judah is all snips and snails. This time, he has a toad. He played with it for hours. Try getting away with that in children’s church.
What’s not shared is lost,