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by Jordan Hathcock

“A priest once quoted to me the Roman saying that a religion is dead when the priests laugh at each other across the altar. I always laugh at the altar, be it Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist, because real religion is the transformation of anxiety into laughter.”– Alan Watts

When exploring the comedic landscape, be it stand-up or just laughing with buddies, what we discover is total-unsaturated freedom. I mean, come on! You know you cannot deny when a good joke hits your soul, you become overpowered with joy and bliss. The endorphins hit an all-time high, and you bask in the comfort of hilariousness. When swimming in the Christian tradition, I think “busting-up” is a vital prophetic practice to have if we ever want to see restorative justice and mercy flow through our current social landscape.

How do we experience this through the Christian tradition? Well, unfortunately we don’t see to many preachers at the pulpit preaching “go out and watch some comedy”, but this does not mean that from the broad scope of things, the Christ-trajectory hasn’t journeyed out to this particular new endeavor. Yes, I get it. When we see how uncomfortable someone’s sense of humors can make us feel, its hard not to react in disdained. I find it interesting that a sermon kind of has the same kind of effect on us. Comedian Pete Homes says it best:

“The skill set of pastor and comedian are incredibly similar. You want to affect people. You’re good at reading rooms. You’re persuasive, and you’re likable.”

Now, I am not saying that we are just to be entertained in our seats while watching the “pastor” make us laugh. That is not the point. The point, I think, is we might have to find ourselves in uncomfortable spaces to be able to stretch us to encounter different perspectives. We are seeing some truth spoken to power being projected out of the stand-up scene, which if we listen closely and take some pointers, it might just help us over here in the Christian world.

The prophetic is used not to just expose the injustices, but also to bring about liberation. We must see that when we laugh, it is a way for us to heal towards a better way of living for ourselves and the community we relate to. Likewise, as the medical research shows:

“There is growing evidence that laughter as a physical activity can additionally produce small but quantifiable positive physiological benefits.”

The physiological also plays a huge part in the spiritual. When we step into the realm of expressed humor, we find ourselves in a place of peace. It is peacemaking that brings us into the “reign of God”. There is hope for this Jesus tradition and it is finding our sense of humor! Yes, the current divide and injustices that is currently happening within our current American culture is ramped.

It’s easy to get to serious with ourselves with all the bullshit running amok! Believe me, I am guilty of it! Please understand, we are not to ignore the racism that is happening within the police force across the county, school shootings, the Trump impeachment scandal, etc. The list can go on and on.

But we must admit, when things to get a little out of hand, the only medicine is to laugh that shit off! Like good old Sarah reminds us in her time of utter disbelief in the insanity: “So, Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” (Gen 18:12) Pleasure? In all this mess? Is it possible? Don’t know (like always) but I do trust in the gift of laughter. From this ancient tradition, its time to let go of the long faces and step into the vibrant space of comedy…

“When I opened my eyes and saw the real world, I began to laugh and I haven’t stopped since.” – Soren Kierkegaard

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by Jordan Hathcock

 “We are part of something more than we are observing something. How does that feel to you? From the perspective of participation, we can recognize that most of religious and church history has been largely preoccupied with religious ideas about which we could be wrong or right. When it is all about ideas, we do not have to be part of “it”; we just need to talk correctly about “it.” We can avoid actually living out our beliefs and walking our talk.”– Richard Rohr

When it comes to the history of Christendom, it was mostly about obedience then participation. We see this through the various traditions. This concept of obedience ends up being more of “having the correct” beliefs rather than living out a loving way of life. When we get to caught up in the ideas of faith, we wind up being consumers rather than doers.

When we come to experiential trust, we can recognize that it’s really about connecting with others through relationships. It’s making oneself encounter the whole of being rather than worrying about if you have the doctrine of the atonement right (which it all boils down to a theory rather than an experience). See, when we get to caught up in “who has it right” we create an us vs. them paradigm which only causes division.

We have to come to the table of reconciliation and be always for coming together unified despite our differences. Yes, there is a way to participate that involves some type of decision to “obey”-which a better term would be taking action. Unfortunately, from many people’s stories and experiences with obedience, it was more of a blind allegiance rather than a divine connection. It is a dangerous thing when one loses himself to the higher powers of authority. This will lead to unhealthy abuse as one study showed regarding blind authoritative control:

“Decent people participate in horrific acts not because they become passive, mindless functionaries who do not know what they are doing, but rather because they come to believe — typically under the influence of those in authority — that what they are doing is right.”-Science Daily

When we come to a place of authoritative obedience, we become oblivious to the harmful effects to ourselves and others. This is not what having faith is all about! Faith is having the courage to step into the unknown and experience the process of bringing about love that heals and liberates. God is not interested in obedience as much as entering in a relational space that endows growth and connection. Yes, we make the decision to trust and follow God, but if we do not believe that the center of all being is already connected to us, we will never fully allow this relationship to God and Her creation blossom and take hold of our reality. If its just obedience to an idea and not to a reality, we will not see the transformation bloom in ourselves and our surroundings.

Coming to a place of desiring the divine connection is a difficult journey. Its not all skittles and rainbows, that is for damn sure! It does take a great amount of patience and letting go of egotistical habits. Jesus wasn’t lying when he said, “to find life you must lose your life”. It is action that really drives a reaction. If we just sit on the sidelines of statements of beliefs, we will never truly experience the divine transformation that breaks us free. If we don’t take seriously the Orthopraxy of this whole Jesus movement, we are not going to survive. Its time we become participants of the God who is love and let go of the idea of blind obedience if we ever want to see dynamic change…

“New and stirring things are belittled because if they are not belittled the humiliating question arises ‘Why then are you not taking part in them?” ― H.G. Wells

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by Jordan Hathcock, Guest Blogger
https://welcometothetablesite.wordpress.com/2019/07/30/knowing-souls/

“So let’s get to the point, let’s roll another joint
Let’s head on down the road
There’s somewhere I gotta go
And you don’t know how it feels
No, you don’t know how it feels to be me”. – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Do we really know “how it feels” to be in someone else’s shoes? Can we really comprehend the magnitude of other people’s experiences? Hard to say, really.  I know for myself; it is not easy trying to empathize and relate to others experiences and dispositions. We all attempt and often fail miserably. Often, our motives are what really play a huge part in how we engage with others and their issues. Coming from the Christian perspective, I think we are on the failing end of making a positive difference in others who are different then us.

It has become a competition in winning the souls of others, instead of building authentic relationships. Numerous of factors come into play of why this is. Not to get to long winded on this blog post, but the biggest driving force is the concept of hell. The Christian tradition has morphed into a factory of “get people of hell in the afterlife” instead of letting people experience “heaven on earth in the here and now”. Fear, greed, and the us vs. them motif is the foundation of this unfortunate state of affairs we are currently experiencing.  When you make a belief system of fear and hate into a thriving institution, the effects are direly devastating.

But, I don’t think all is lost (yes, very optimistic of me I know).  There always has been another spark and remnant that comes out of the evil empire that brings about hopeful change. I would like to quote this verse from the Christian scriptures that brings to light these two contending ideas of winning souls vs. entering in genuine relationships:

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.  I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

The premise I take here (from the many different interpretations and commentary I have found with this scripture verse, and guess what? That’s ok!), Paul was trying to bring about blessings to those he made contact with for the sake of the gospel. It states: “I have become all things to all people…in order to save some”. It has the “winning souls” rhetoric here and to the first century readers that could have been more of a way of getting to a better way of being to escape the oncoming destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D (just a little side note hehe). But, I think how Paul finished up this passage is showing the real intention of “becoming all things to all people” (the true relationship builder): SO THAT I MAY SHARE IN ITS BLESSINGS! This right here is the point of entering in relationships with others.  This is what the Gospel of Christ should bring to ALL PEOPLE.

It about truly knowing people.  When Jesus says: To know God and His Son, this knowing is ginosko and this literally means “a felt knowing”, as in RELATIONAL! No matter who it is–black, white, gay, straight–experiencing the blessings of peace which produces love is what it’s all about. It is going out there and becoming friends with others (I know we can’t do this with everyone, but I think we can fucking do a better job than what we are doing now)! This is what brings us out of the hell we sometimes find ourselves in this life. The Kin-dom reality is about the here and now.  We will never develop and evolve (aka salvation) as a species until we realize that its real relationships that will get us there…

“Self-sufficiency makes God experience impossible! That’s why Jesus showed up in this world as a naked, vulnerable one, a defenseless baby lying in the place where animals eat. Talk about utter relationship! Naked vulnerability means I’m going to let you influence me; I’m going to allow you to change me. The Way of Jesus is an invitation to a Trinitarian way of living, loving, and relating—on earth as it is in the Godhead. We are intrinsically like the Trinity, living in absolute relatedness. To choose to stand outside of this Flow is the deepest and most obvious meaning of sin. We call the Flow love. We really were made for love, and outside of it we die very quickly.”

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by Jordan Hathcock, Guest Blogger
https://welcometothetablesite.wordpress.com

We Americans are easily impressed by all things big and successful. We find it almost impossible to gainsay that which has massive popular endorsement. So the assumption is that if a particular message can fill churches and arenas and propel books onto bestseller lists, then it must be a good thing. – Brian Zahnd

Bigger, stronger and faster, it’s the only way to survive and thrive in the good old USA. It has become the mantra of modern-day capitalism. The consumerism culture thrives on the constant banter of “we want it now and more of it”! We as a species have been leading the charge and now are seeing the horrible and harmful effects in our communities and environment.

Within the Christian platform, we have seen how using this consumer culture tactic, enables devastating spiritual and physical carnage. The Mega Church has become the mascot of this mass consumption crusade through its ideologies and practices. Now, every entity has its anomalies (like all things in life). There are some heathy and good results coming from mega churches, no doubt (I have experienced it firsthand). But, from an overarching perspective, the fruit of the mega church doesn’t look so good.

Here are just a few examples of what happens when the tribalistic big church group think runs the show:

– Too big to fail

– Prohibits intellectual diversity

– Pastor egomaniac syndrome

– Misappropriated funds

– Sexual misconduct

All of this leads to unhealthy relationships which then produces unhealthy communities. When we make church a “corporation”, we open-up all the rules and regulations that need a corporation to be successful. It comes more of a place to compete instead of a place to heal. When this becomes the priority (bigger and better) we lose the capacity to really step into discipleship (loving the least of these).

Just recently, we have seen this model of church cause great harm and pain. The Village Church and its head pastor Matt Chandler were caught up in a tragic incident that resulted in sexual abuse. On Feb. 17, 2018, Ms. Bragg and her husband, reported to the Village that their daughter, at about age 11, had been sexually abused at the church’s summer camp for children. Since then, Matthew Tonne, who was the church’s associate children’s minister, had been investigated by the police, indicted and arrested on charges of sexually molesting Ms. Bragg’s daughter. [1.]

With this devastating tragedy, you would expect any ethical organization (especially a church) to do whatever it takes to bring justice to this girl and her family. Not only that, but love and support from the leadership. This never happened as Ms. Bragg stated:

Ms. Bragg waited for church leaders to explain what had happened and to thoroughly inform other families in the congregation. She waited for the Village to take responsibility and apologize. She waited to have even one conversation with Mr. Chandler, a leader she had long admired.

But none of that ever came.

“You can’t even take care of the family you know,” she remembered thinking as she walked out of the large auditorium. “Don’t tell more victims to come to you, because you’re just going to cause more hurt.”[2.]

AHHH! This is fucking unacceptable! How can you sleep at night Village clergy?! Matt Chandler, where are you at?! How does it come to this? Well, I think what we see here is when you are part of a non-stop “bigger, stronger, faster” locomotive church model, you plow through anything that gets in your way (disregarding all collateral damage). When you run a community based on American consumerism ethics, you become too big to fail and will not accept defeat. The machine has too much of a good thing going to worry about a little sexual abuse…what a diabolical program.

What’s the lesson we can learn from all of this? I don’t know but I think we need to realize the danger when it comes to our hyper competitive consumer culture. If we claim to participate in the divine love of the universe that engulfs the air we breathe and the people we trust, we must create healthy spaces for Christs collective to grow. This earth in time and space and the forever now that lies between is to important and precious to ignore. We must humble ourselves and let go of our egos to let the Spirit guide us to new heights. It’s the least of these that we are here to serve, not the power-hungry tyrants and their cutthroat empires…

But the modern-day church doesn’t like to wander or wait. The modern-day church likes results. Convinced the gospel is a product we’ve got to sell to an increasingly shrinking market, we like our people to function as walking advertisements: happy, put-together, finished—proof that this Jesus stuff WORKS! At its best, such a culture generates pews of Stepford Wife–style robots with painted smiles and programmed moves. At its worst, it creates environments where abuse and corruption get covered up to protect reputations and preserve image. – Rachel Held Evans

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by Jose Bosque, Guest Blogger
https://godsleader.com

I can’t begin to tell you how important it is for you as a believer to find freedom from the religious system.  What I am about to share is not just another teaching for the Body of Christ to read. It is the squeezed and pressed nectar of almost 30 years serving my King. This teaching was organically (by the Holy Spirit) produced in much fire, testing, and trials. I say this not to exalt myself as a great overcomer, but to give glory to God whose love and favor was predisposed towards me before I was in my mother’s womb. Many preachers talk about the high price they paid to come to maturity and wisdom. I would rather say like Paul that everything I lost looking back was rubbish compared to the excellency of knowing Christ. This is my journey; it doesn’t have to be yours. If in sharing these crossroads you find that there are similarities, maybe the Holy Spirit will bless you to know that you are headed in the right direction. Here are the 12 steps to finding freedom from the religious system.

  1. The Lord dwells in His people not in buildings.

There is no greater idolatry in the religious system than human being’s fascination with buildings. While God is looking at the internals (a pure heart), we are busy dressing up the externals (Sunday clothes and lavish buildings). Most Sunday morning church-goers have heard that we are the temple of the Lord, but they continue to say they are going to church or the House of the Lord. They ask me all the time, “Where is your Church, and where do you go to church?” It just breaks my heart. That explains why people act totally different when they are inside a church building than in their regular life. It’s that their God lives in a building they call the church. So they act like one thing in the church building and something else when they are not “in Church.” Shamefully for many believers the masks come off even before they make it out the back door. The church The Lord Jesus is building isn’t made of brick and mortar. God is not impressed with our elaborate sanctuaries, stain glass windows, golden altars, and 30 million-dollar arenas. All the lighting, mega stages, and expensive sound systems with dry ice clouds doesn’t do anything for Him either. He is not interested in people who just come to worship Him for an hour or two on Sunday. He is looking down at a people in whom He dwells and who release His fragrance wherever they go daily in this fallen world.

  1. The Church is about the people, not my Ministry goals.

This particular focus helped me take my eyes off the ministry and my personal goals and begin to understand I was there for the people; the people were not there for me. I was trained to attain goals. I used to tell people, “The few cannot affect the good of the many.”  My translation to that was no one was coming between me and my goals. In my heart I thought I was doing the right thing, but many were hurt on my road to achieving the success and the values of the religious system. I had no trouble loving the many because those ideals usually lined up with my goals. It was the few I had trouble loving and being patient with especially when something they did came against my idol “the ministry.” If you messed with the ministry, you messed with me, and to my shame, I had no trouble laying hands on you. Another problem was most of my church leaders had the same sickness I did. So rarely did someone call me out concerning my sin. Even the spiritual fathers I had at the time had an agenda to keep me close, so they wouldn’t rebuke me either. I suspect that birds of a feather flock together, so we chose each other according to what was in our hearts. If I had to put the spotlight on the greatest problem in the Lord’s Church today, it is the lack of authentic, no agenda love. That is why it is so important to get freedom from the religious system. It rewards performance and breeds a lack of love.

  1. His presence (The Holy Spirit) is always with us.

I spent most of my 16 years as pastor trying to conjure up the presence of God inside of the four walls. Everything we did was about calling down His presence, whether it was with our modern worship and high praises or my “super anointed” preaching. We worked hard for it every time we met.. Today we claim to be even more “advanced” because we have digital sound systems and lights, giant screens, and dry ice to move people emotionally. In essence we teach people that we live in hell and heaven is inside our church buildings. We even tell the people that it is “in His presence” where they can get their healing. A study of the New Testament will reveal no example of a Christian gathering searching for His presence or teaching about how to get His people in His presence. The Holy Spirit is with us 24/7 and never leaves us nor forsakes us. The Holy Spirit is not some goose pimple, emotional, ecstatic feeling. He is our friend and comforter that comes alongside us to lead us to Christ.

My friend Don Nori Sr. founder of Destiny Image press says:

“The glory of ‘Union with God’ IS His presence Whose final resting place is within your heart. This is where He IS. “This is My rest forever. Here will I dwell. For the Lord has chosen Zion (you and I), He has always desired us for His ultimate habitation. (to live within us!) Worship doesn’t bring glory from the sky. Prayer does not convince glory to come. Fasting does not capture glory’s attention. Glory is Christ within. Surrender consumes the soul with His Life.”

Notice this verse about a gathering of the church:

But if ALL prophesy, (profess Christ), and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you. 1 Cor 14:24-25 NKJV

He worships because he is moved by the love, peace, and unity of the saints. Saints you don’t need to get in His presence! This isn’t Star Wars and “may the force be with you.” He hasn’t gone anywhere. If anything you have moved in your heart away from the Lord. Jesus Christ did all the work necessary for us today to constantly be in His presence. This in no way rejects a sovereign move of God or advocates for boring gatherings.

You can read more on the subject from Steve Crosby’s Book on New Testament Worship

http://www.stevecrosby.com/Praise-Worship-Presence-New-Covenant-p/pwpsc.htm

  1. The Clergy-Laity division is a worldly invention.

When I pestored (that’s not a misspelling) I didn’t know that I was teaching this lie because of “how we did Church”. The system feeds the system. I was always calling “our” people to go deeper, to be holier ,and to be more committed. They would answer me, “You’re the Pastor, and you get paid to do nothing but that. We have a job and we have a life; we just don’t have the time you do.” How did we get like this, or why does this perspective exist you ask?

As soon as the bible came into the hands of the public in the 1500’s and common people began to learn to read, the Catholic Church instituted this teaching to protect the office of the priest and the existence of the religious system. The Protestants and evangelicals also jumped on this bandwagon. They too needed to maintain the existence of a religious upper class so they could authenticate before their governments their qualification to exist apart from the Catholic Church outside the rule of the State.

What good are the Charismatic renewal and revivals if we never deal with the foundational problem that keeps Christians from seeing themselves as priests unto God? Christ is the Head of the Church, not Pastors and Priests. The church gives lip service to the Priesthood of every Believer but then denies it in practice. This article is too short to explain how the religious system twists (today we say Spin) two words to get their desired result. Suffice to say, many leaders have put on very faithfully the religious system given to us by our predecessors since we have never seen anything else. Unlike David when confronting Goliath who told the King Saul:

38 So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off. 1 Sam 17:38-39 NKJV

If you have a calling from the Lord, do not compromise and don’t let them put the religious system on you!

  1. Every Christian is a minister of the Gospel.

We have invented church membership even though the bible clearly outlines that we are all members of one Body. We are told that some of us are paid ministers, and the rest of us are just members. Members attend (to be counted), and they give money to support buildings and staff (professional ministers) salaries. We are challenged to share the gospel and invite others to our buildings once a week. That pretty much sums up the spiritual life of a modern Christian believer. If a believer is part of a mega church, it’s even easier to get lost among the crowd so you can enjoy all the benefits without having to be responsible or accountable. Until we begin doing things biblically and return to the Lord’s definitions, we will be fostering weak, shallow, and immature Christians.

Here is a couple of verses;

6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor 3:6 NKJV

10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4:10 NKJV

Imagine the power available to the Body of Christ and to each congregation if the 80% who consider themselves weekly spectators ever wake up out of this error? The problem will come when on-fire Christians outperform the paid staff. Then the question will have to be answered, “Why are we paying paid professionals to do what every Christian should be doing?” Oops, but now we will have people out of work and much more money to help the poor, widows and the orphans.

  1. There is no such thing as Spiritual and Secular time.

My greatest joy as a Christian came when I realized I was a 24/7 minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. My work at my company improved because I began to do everything unto my God, not for my employer just as scripture says;

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Col 3:17 NKJV

This concept of dividing things into secular and spiritual is a concept right out of hell. This is probably the number one reason most Christian ride the roller coaster of ups and downs in their Christian testimony. When they are in the church building or doing “church things,” they wear their “goody-two-shoes” mask, but when they are away, they live like and act like devils. What good is it to sit in a weekly service without fail Sunday after Sunday and then whenever you get behind the wheel of your car, you fight with and curse every other driver on the road? This concept of dividing time between spiritual and secular breeds hypocrisy in God’s people. There is no such thing as secular time for those who carry the living Christ in their heart. If you want to find sick, demonized people who are in denial, there is no better place than the church. Weekly religious observance has no power over the flesh, but works great to deceive God’s people concerning their true spiritual condition. Some day we will give account for every second and every breath here on earth.

  1. We congregate whenever 2 or 3 are gathered not once a week.

When the Lord began to wake me up to get out of religious system, I began to read revival books. Having almost no examples around me, I feasted on the stories and biographies of great men. I remember reading about John Wesley keeping a record of His daily sermons which had numbers like “67 sermons today” in his diary, and I would wonder what is he talking about? In those days I traveled much to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, and the most sermons I ever preached in one day was 6, and by the last one I was dying. The more I read the more the emphasis on daily instead of weekly came alive to me. Also these men considered any meeting anywhere if two or three saints gathered to be a gathering of the church. I hear you saying yes, but that is not a service. Who says and where do you find it in the New Covenant that God requires services? Do you know why Christian pastors and priests do not consider you to be congregating if you are not in their weekly services? Do I have to spell it out for you? The religious system must come down hard against anyone or anything that is subversive to the continual existence of the status-quo.

I could run a congregation of thousands today if I would just play the religious systems games. I could do just like many of my peers who live a very fat, happy, and prosperous life. The problem will come on judgment day when I face my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On that day many mini-kingdoms will go up in smoke and only that which was really built upon Christ will stand. Real Christian leaders know they will give an account, and they walk with a Holy fear of the Lord.

  1. Christianity is a daily lifestyle and was never a Weekly Observance.

Christianity today is such a far cry from what Christianity was in the first century. Today the church is in the world, and the world is in the church. Every religion that exists compels their followers to worship a deity in a building or sacred place. Every religion that exists demands that rituals be done to maintain in good standing with that deity. Only Christianity passes the believer from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Light by faith in the once-for-all work of Jesus on the cross. Scripture says we are pilgrims and strangers just passing through this world on our way to Eternity. That means nothing in this world controls us, and we don’t live for anything permanent down here. Check your life and see if it reflects a just-passing-through lifestyle. If Christ is your life and you have a daily growing relationship with Him ,most likely your heart is focused on pleasing Him. If your Christianity is a “punch the clock” once a week observance or service, you probably have your heart focused on self and your desires. You only attend the slotted time because you think it keeps God happy. This is not confessional time, but Christianity as you have found out doesn’t work weekly. Either Christ is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.

  1. Christians are to feed daily on His Rhema not on Bible verses and Sermons.

Are you aware that more than 95% of people in the 1st century could not read or write? Are you aware that books (including the Bible) did not get into a commoners hands till after the 1500’s. So if people could not read and write and most of the church including its leaders were poor and at the bottom of society, how did the church exist without Bible verses to quote? There were no seminaries until the Catholic Church built the first one in 1567. How were leaders trained for the first 1500 years of the Church? Let me just quote one Bible verse that has been misquoted for years and has mislead many to prove what I am about to say. Millions of tracts and Bibles have been printed and distributed based on just this one verse;

17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Rom 10:17 NKJV

As a normal every week modern church goer if you were asked “What is the word of God in this verse?” you would respond “the Bible.” Well, guess what – it isn’t the Bible! It’s the Greek word RHEMA which means a fresh word from God. RHEMA is what the Lord is saying to us through the Holy Spirit. This word RHEMA is what guides and directs His children daily. This daily communication is the basis of our intimate relationship with God. It’s what kept the church going for the first 1500 years and what allows true Christians to walk with God today. The Greek word used for the Scripture/the Bible is only found twice in the entire New Testament. Today when people talk about a “Word from God,” they are talking about a sermon or a Bible verse. The early saints had a personal 24/7 relationship with Christ the LOGOS, so when they heard a RHEMA in their Spirit, they obeyed it. The religious system has created a Christianity that cannot exist without the system. If Christians are taught to relate to God themselves instead of getting their truth through a mediator once a week, the religious system of men would come tumbling down and Christian maturity would multiply.

Want another Bible verse that has been misquoted? Believe me there are many. You heard said that as Christians we are to put on the full armor of God from Ephesians 6:

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; Eph 6:17 NKJV

You can die saying the Sword of the Spirit is the Bible, but you would be wrong. It’s RHEMA! Memorize all the Bible verses you want, but if you haven’t received a fresh word from the Lord, you don’t have your full armor on. In the Spanish world they leave an open Bible in the house to ward off evil spirits. The devil laughs at goofiness like that. My brother’s house is full of wooden crosses in the design, and the floor planks are lined underneath with pages from the Bible so the preacher who built it could “walk on the word”. None of that helped him when he got caught in adultery with his secretary and lost his home, wife, family, and his ministry. You say the number one need of the Church today is we need disciples. Make them the way the Church did for the first 1500 years. You don’t make them pointing them to a book; you make them pointing them to a relationship with Christ their Lord and Savior.

  1. Unity in the Body is based on Agape Love, not Doctrinal Conformity.

In Seminary I was trained to teach people doctrine so they could get into right standing with God. The problem came when I began to teach what had been taught to me by the religious system. I found that believers were full of Bible verses and head knowledge about what was right, but somehow it didn’t always translate into their daily life and character. First, the truth without love is not the truth. It doesn’t matter how much truth (Bible verses you can recite) you think you know if you don’t have the character to obey them you, will fail time after time. I confess to you it is a strong deception, and I was blind to it for a very long time. No more, I am free and getting freer every day.

When I saw the division created by denominations, race, language, and people coming from so many varied backgrounds and levels of maturity, I asked the Lord how could we ever come into agreement?  He revealed to me that it was the bonds of His love that keep His people together and not our uniformity and conformity to a set doctrine. Everything improved when I taught what the Lord had revealed to me. The Bible speaks of only one test for true Christianity

35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 NKJV

I love the words of this old gospel song:

I come to the garden alone

While the dew is still on the roses

And the voice I hear falling on my ear

The son of God discloses.

And he walks with me and he talks with me

And he tells me I am his own

And the joy we share as we tarry there

None other has ever known.

For the record; I am back in the garden! JLB

  1. Mature and Tested Relationships are the backbone of the Church.

I have always been impressed by the testimony of the first disciples. The example of how they cared for one another, how they shared their belongings, how they cared for the poor and the widows among them is truly extraordinary

32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. Acts 4:32 NKJV

How can we do those things today with the shallowness of relationships of so-called Christians today? How do you go from looking at the back of someone’s head to knowing what is in their refrigerator?

I have watched hundreds of leaders and diverse Christian groups working together over the years. I observed them in their highs and lows. I watched how they operated, what kept them together and what caused them to blow up. Sometimes I see myself as a Christian Church sociologist because I love to dig deep and see what causes things to work as they do. Real relationships are formed by the Love of Christ. Relationships can’t be hurried or legislated from a pulpit. The best a leader can do to help others is to model the power and strength of true relationships before those who watch them. I can tell you this, only those that see the church as a family and actually make time to allow life to create mature and tested relationships will be able to stay together in the days to come.

It is not easy but today I maintain new covenant relationships with a handful of men and women. I am convinced that at the drop of a hat we would move heaven and hell to come to each others aid. This is not an “apostolic” network, or a religious society. This is family, the foundation of the New Testament church.

  1. Jesus Christ performed the last service unto God the Father 2000+ years ago.

No more services are needed nor required. We don’t come together for Christian maintenance. We cannot add anything to the final work of Christ on the Cross. We are justified based on His final work and purified by His blood shed once for all. No amount of man-made rituals can improve your position before God. The Lord is not impressed with your weekly attendance or the amount of money you give. Jesus Christ did all the work necessary for us today to immediately and constantly be in His presence. See below;

19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, Heb 10:19-21 NKJV

The idea of services is a copy and leftover of the Protestants who protested against the Catholic idea of working for salvation and performing rituals weekly to be found right with God. Every seminary spin of the present biblical record in scripture for the existence of services is a lie and a twisting of the truth to maintain the religious system.

So you say you come to worship Him. Don’t you know that you began to worship him the moment your feet hit the ground this morning. You worship as you care for your family or work hard in your business. Washing dishes with a glad and thankful heart is worship. Real worship doesn’t need one of those professional celebrity christian cheerleaders. The greatest worship comes from simple thankful believers who raise their song to heaven in the midst of loneliness, suffering, and persecution just like in the first century.

The New Testament reason to gather is for Agape. Agape feasts were for the establishing of relationships and the caring of one another as they were moved by the compassion and the love of Christ. These were not scheduled or calendared, and certainly were not weekly. So what would happen this Sunday if the only reason people could attend would be as described above? No performances, no entertainment, no showing off, no business networking, no getting the word from the preacher, no rituals ,and no self-anything. I think we would have a lot of almost empty buildings.

Freedom from the Religious System

You have a chance to be a pillar in the coming revolution of the Church as she breaks free from the bondage of the current religious system of men. Simply speaking, what is coming will bring Christianity to its knees and only that which is His will remain. Already the exodus has begun and we have only been feeling the early tremors. No man can lead it since the Head of the Church is just taking back what belongs to Him. The greatest days of the Church are ahead of us, but for many it will not look like anything they have seen before. No, the church is not leaving earth like a wounded puppy with its tail between its legs whom the Lord had to pull out of the fire. The Kingdom of God reigns and King Jesus is preparing His Bride to shine like the stars in the sky. Her brilliance will come from her being purified in the fire like Gold. She will have the fragrance of the King upon her which will dwarf the incense of men. And she will be draped in such a Cloud of His Glory and Splendor that no dry ice machines or digital light shows will able to to imitate it.

Be a pillar in the coming revolution!

Much love,
Jose Bosque

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by Jim Gordon

I recently listened to a YouTube video by Richard Jacobson and in it he mentioned veal crates. I had never heard of that before so I checked it out a little. It was interesting reading about veal crates and it got me to thinking about another type of box.

What I found was that veal crates are a close-confinement system of raising veal calves. Veal crates are designed to limit movement of the animal because meat turns redder and tougher if the animals are allowed to exercise. In some veal crate systems, the calves are kept in the dark without bedding and fed nothing but milk.

Veal crates seem to limit the calf from being able to move about and roam in much larger areas thus getting exercise which would cause the animal to strengthen. It also keeps them from contact with other calves and under the control of the person raising the calf.

VealCrate

Personally, this makes me think of the institutional church. Before we go any further, I want to point out that I am not an enemy of the church. I was part of the institution for over fifty years and very involved, so I can speak as an insider rather than someone who knows nothing of what I am saying. I do believe the institution confines us and limits the freedom God intended us to have.

I also realize that people cannot just up and leave because someone else says they should. It is a choice between the person and the Spirit. I believe there is specific timing as to when and if someone leaves the religious institution. I know for me it took fifteen years or so of being dissatisfied and thinking there had to be more. As Barbara Symons mentioned in her book ‘Escaping Christianity: Finding Christ’, “There is a need for all of us to experience restriction until Christ is formed within—like a pearl within an oyster, closed tightly until the time of harvesting. Before I understood this principle, I tried to convince others to leave the system as I did and in retrospect, it was before their time. I felt like a cage fighter; only my opponent was the cage itself. I was battered and beaten by trying to dismantle the religious system from the inside out as I tried to liberate those still within its grasp. I now understand that people will remain within restraint as long as they need to”.

People are brought into the box of religion and kept there to support and grow the institution. Once inside the box they are taught what that particular denomination believes or how that specific pastor thinks. Sometimes they are kept in the dark and only fed the milk of the word rather than the meat that gives them strength, knowledge and the ability to hear the Spirit for themselves.

Many times, people are restrained from being free to serve and use the gifts they have been given. Therefore, due to lack of exercise of using their talents they become weak and have no confidence to do anything other than what the institution says.

Most of the time they are only having fellowship with those within the box and usually encouraged to avoid fellowship with people who see things differently or do not go along with their way of thinking.

Outofthebox

Rather than enjoying the freedom God has provided outside the box and a life of accepting others and loving others, they are kept inside. By doing so they learn to exclude people, avoid certain people and are only fed the knowledge the institution and pastor wants them to know, all with the purpose to keep them from leaving.

It seems to me that breaking out of the box and being free to follow God without the rules, regulations and expectations of religion would be a much better way of showing the love of God to others. Being free to fellowship with all people, accept and love others with the love of God no matter who they are or what they believe.

We are not meant to be confined within the walls of institutional religion. God has set us free to follow Jesus wherever he leads. We are free from the rules that religion puts upon us for the purpose of making us better Christians. We are the Church that Jesus is building, a people who love and follow him not a building or organization.

Rather than live within the confines of the box religion puts us in, break free and live in the world God has created. Love people, accept others and show the unconditional love of God to everyone.

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by Jim Gordon

I have watched with displeasure at times the discussions and comments on Social Media. This is a common way of communication these days and it is very easy to be much bolder and argumentative than usual. We express our thoughts and feelings in a much meaner way than we would if we were face to face.

I think most people find that sitting in front of a computer screen gives a sense of boldness and openness to express themselves in ways that are not always a good thing. I think there is something about not being in the presence of someone or seeing their face that emboldens us and allows our mean side to come out.

arguingonline

To me it is the same feeling you can get when you get behind the wheel of a car. All of a sudden we seem to be in attack mode. We blow our horn at others, yell and curse and flip people off, yet if we walked by them on the street we would smile and say hello.

There is something about face to face communication that usually changes the way we talk to and treat others. Face to face communication seems to take away the meanness we usually find with social media communication. Looking someone in the face, being in their presence seems to soften the way we talk and respond.

Why is it we cannot seem to see the human person behind the computer screen? Why is it we feel the meanness, this emboldened power to treat others with contempt? Remember Jesus said to love not only those who love you but to love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.

There is nothing wrong with social media and communicating through it. Just keep in mind that there is another human being on the other end, and even though we are not in their physical presence the things we say and the way we react has an impact on them. Let us make it a point to have a positive, encouraging impact when we communicate with others.

The way of Christ is the way of love. Whether it be online or in person we are to love our neighbors. In our world today living in love is becoming rare. Yet by doing so in the power of the Spirit it will be noticed and it will make a difference in the lives of those who are hurting and so desperately seeking for love and acceptance.

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