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Posts Tagged ‘church’

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 Jim Gordon

Does done with religion suggest that we are done with God? For those of you who have followed our postings for some time, you know better. Yet when people hear done with religion they often times think that means done with God.

So many people associate religion, Christianity, church and God all as the same thing. Christianity is a religion and going to church and participating in the religious activities are part of people trying to follow rules and commands to be a better person.

For us here at Done with Religion we see things differently. Religion and the things people normally think of when they hear the word is a man-made way of trying to know God and earn his love. They are still trying to obey rules and follow the old covenant commands that were part of the covenant that Jesus fulfilled.

We are done with religion. We are done mixing old and new covenant teachings. We are done trying to do things to be good enough to earn God’s love or to pay him back for what he has done for us. The new covenant or agreement that went into effect at the resurrection is one of grace. Jesus restored our fellowship directly with God and there is nothing we can do to earn it or pay him back.

We believe the Church is made up of the people, a community of believers who walk daily under the headship of Jesus. It is not a building people meet in once or twice a week. We believe the Holy Spirit of Christ lives within us and guides us. There is no longer a reason to look to religion as a means to get closer to God. We no longer need a middle man or pastor as a mediator. We no longer choose to sit in an organized meeting being quiet and listening to a chosen few talk. We are all priests, we all have something to say and something to do. We no longer do anything out of obligation but out of love for God and our fellow mankind.

We also know there are many within the traditional church system who are there because of their love for God. The church is all we have known and many still feel that is where they need to be. For them they need to stay within the system and worship God there, but still understand what church is and is not.

Yes those of us who have come to see the system as a flawed way to God, we are happy to be outside the walls of religion. To be clear, if you are within the church system, love God and are serving him out of love and grace that is good. If you have left the organized church and you look to the Spirit for guidance and teaching and you understand that you are the Church, do not feel guilty. Do not let anyone tell you that you are wrong, or fallen from grace or backslidden. You are an important and necessary part of the body of Christ (the Church) just as much as those who attend a church building.

Whether in an organized church or outside the walls of religion, it is important to realize the difference between the old and new covenant. Many church systems teach a mixture of these and this should not be. A good book to read that explains the difference is Clash of the Covenants by Michael Kapler. If you are within the church system check out the differences so you will know if your pastor is teaching correctly about who you are in Christ.

Yes, we are done with religion. We have made a choice to leave the church system and walk outside the walls of religion. No, we have not left God. We love him and depend on him daily. We realize we are now his Church. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We no longer depend on rules and commandments to guide us since we have the Spirit living within. It is now a life of loving God and loving our fellow human beings and living in unconditional love (not always agreement) with all people.

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by Jim Gordon

If you have spent anytime in the institutional church system you know something about tithing. Tithing is talked about in every church whether it is every week, every month or only a certain time during the year. We need to remember there is a difference between tithing, giving and financial support.

I remember feeling guilty because I felt I could not afford to tithe. You know, the real tithe, ten percent of your income and that was not take-home pay that was ten percent of all you made.

I can remember one church we used to attend the pastor would have the ushers count the money after the offering and if there was not enough in it he would tell them to pass the plates again. Another church we went to the pastor told the congregation they needed to give one month’s salary to support a special building project they had going.

Now I know not all churches go to that extreme, but all churches will talk about the tithe. What bothers me about all this is that the tithe is an old covenant teaching. I believe that tithing is no longer something we need to worry about. We no longer have a storehouse to bring the tithe into. Many teach that the church is the storehouse but that is certainly not the case. If you read more about what tithing was and what the purpose was back in the old testament you will see it is no longer for us.

The church is not a building or storehouse. God does not live in buildings made by hands. We are the temple of God and he lives within us. The Church that God is building is not a religion or institution or organization. The Church is made up of the community of believers who live for God each and every day by the guidance of the Spirit that is within us.

I have no problem with giving. In fact, we are to give but we are not to tithe. Giving is done out of love, it is done out of caring. It has no set amount and is not an obligation for us to fulfill.

cheerfulgiving

If people decide to attend a church building and be part of the religious institution that is OK as long as they know that it is not God’s house and tithing is no longer required. If the pastor would just be honest and tell the people that they are part of an organization that meets in a building and it needs their support. They have bills to pay, salaries to meet, utilities to pay and expenses that have to be paid if they are going to run the organization.

What upsets me is when the pastor tries to guilt the members into giving their money because they are giving to God, or they are told they are robbing God by not giving their ten percent. They are told to bring the tithe into the storehouse so that others can be helped, then most of the money goes to pay the expenses of the organization. Just be honest and tell them there are expenses that need to be paid and if you are part of this group you need to help pay the bills.

I could go along with that much better. I could go along with being told we need to financially support the organization to pay the bills. Beyond that we are free to give what we feel is right and directly to people who need it without going through the organization who takes its cut.

So, for those who are still in the institutional church give your money as financial support of the organization. There is nothing wrong with that, but do not think you are giving to God. Do not let the pastor guilt you into giving because you are robbing from God. The old covenant has been fulfilled and we now live by grace in the new covenant where tithing is no longer needed.

Follow your heart and give to others out of love and as you feel led. If you attend a religious organization then give your money to financially support it, but do not feel guilty or be guilted into giving money out of any obligation. You are free to give as you see fit.

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by Jim Gordon

Since doing the article on abuse in the church I have come across several people who have left the church system but not because of abuse. Unfortunately, abuse does happen and it is terrible especially within a place that should be known for its love.

Yet, even more than stories of abuse the one comment that seems to keep being said is that ‘I left because something just did not seem to be right. I felt there had to be more’.

I think this is a common feeling among those of us who have attended church for some time and have seen some things that just do not make sense. Sitting in a service once a week looking at the back of someone’s head does not make a lot of sense when in the bible we are told when we come together each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. Yet that does not happen. We all sit quietly listening to one person participate.

BetheChurch

God said he is building his Church from living stones, or in other words from us. Church is people. It is not a building nor an organization. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and if the Spirit of Christ lives within us, why are we just sitting letting only a few participate?

Many people are coming to the realization that the organization we know as church is flawed and not what God intended. We seem to be putting our focus on the pastor and the organization rather than emphasizing the Spirit of Christ who lives within us. We are to allow him to love others through us as we go about our daily lives. People are getting tired of just sitting along the sidelines when we can walk daily with the Spirit of Christ walking with us.

The Church that God is building is a living organism, many people making up one body under the headship of Christ. The church that many attend is an organization made of brick and mortar, doctrines and denominations and led by human beings. Many good things happen in the church building but the body of Christ is an active, living body where everyone has an equal part to play. Rather than attend a pre-planned service once a week we are to be living daily under the guidance of the Spirit. It is by his power from within that we can show the love of God to everyone we meet.

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by Jim Gordon

Have you been hurt by the church? Have you been abused within the church? I know many have and that is terrible, but there are many more who have not. My wife and I are a couple of the many who were never abused or hurt within the church but we still left. There are many of us who have left the system, not due to abuse or hurt but we have come to see the system as flawed. We have come to find a better way to express our love for God and for our fellow mankind. For us it is walking outside the walls of religion yet following the example of Jesus by loving God and loving people, all without an ulterior motive of getting people to church. Do you have a similar story? If so we would be glad to hear about your steps to leaving the system. Feel free to post your comments below.

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by Cindy Felkel, Guest Blogger

A friend sent me a picture (of a little boy praying in front of pictures of missing children) this past Sunday morning. When I saw the picture, I burst into tears.

See, all week, I’ve been processing information I heard at a seminar put on by the Underground of Ct., where they talked about the realities of domestic minor sex trafficking.

In this seminar, they covered statistics about how much it happens in Connecticut. One of the speakers drove home the point that the men who are paying tons of money to abuse youth in our neighborhoods are mostly middle class white married men with good jobs. They are our neighbors and leaders in our communities. They are hiding in plain sight because no one is suspicious of them.

Another speaker at this seminar was a survivor of sex trafficking. She spoke about the importance of being seen. She said that when she was trafficked, she only thought of herself as a body, an object to be used. It was being seen as a whole person of value that led her out of the abuse.

This beautiful young survivor sells t-shirts which say, “You are seen”.

With each t-shirt, she gives people a postcard which says, “Whether you got this t-shirt to remind yourself you are not alone, or to remind others, both are equally important. Darkness thrives in its ability to hide, but you have the ability to acknowledge that it has been seen and the power to not walk away. As a survivor of domestic minor sex trafficking, I wear this shirt in remembrance of one simple healing truth:

If there is only one thing you could offer someone in need, let it be your willingness to stay.

The glaring message that I walked away from this seminar with was the need to really see the people around me.

praying for missing children facebook

I also left with a nagging sense of the reality of how much the two biggest so- called Christian institutions in our country, the Catholic church and the Southern Baptist convention, have perpetuated systems of covering up abuse*.

The very next day, I read this quote from Brené Brown’s book Dare to LeadPerhaps the most devastating sign of a shame infestation is a cover-up. Cover-ups are perpetrated not only by the original actors, but by a culture of complicity and shame… When the culture of a corporation, nonprofit, university, government, CHURCH, sports program, school or family mandates that it is more important to protect the reputation of that system and those in power than it is to protect the human dignity of individuals or communities, you be certain of the following problems:

Shame is systemic
Complicity is part of the culture
Money and power trump ethics
Accountability is dead
Control and fear are management tools
And there’s a trail of devastation and pain”
pg 135

Sadly, this describes much of what has been happening in American church culture a little too well. I know so many of the stories of people who have been hurt. As sickening and devastating as those stories are, I also know that they represent only the tip of the iceberg.

It is no wonder we have a culture of middle-class white men committing unspeakable abuse against our children and supporting a $10.5 billion industry. When our church culture became about building the individual kingdoms of dynamic leaders, the religious culture of America made shame so much the norm that I doubt there is any life in America right not that has not been negatively impacted by it.

And those perpetrators? That’s totally a result of shame and inadequacy in their own lives. No one abuses others without dehumanizing them and without a need to use others to fill voids in their own lives. It’s a shame cycle that is devastating our country.

As I processed all of these things, I felt like I was almost in a state of shock. The reality of what was happening in our country,

Then, on Sunday, when my friend sent me that picture, I was also listening to a sermon by Andy Stanley where he said, “When what’s best for people is no longer what’s most important to you, you are at odds with God.”

As I sat there crying, ridiculously, it all came together for me.

If we don’t care about the healing of the individuals who have been abused by and because of church culture, and the shame culture so prevalent in America, I completely believe that we are at odds with God.

Our young people don’t need us to get better at sharing our theology or making sermons more attractive. They don’t even need us to pass more government programs or less or whatever politics you fool yourself into believing is going to change things. Nothing can bring people out of the darkness except seeing them.

They need to be seen. They need to be cared for.

That is the job of people who are following Jesus. That is what Jesus taught.

Forgive me for all the times I don’t see.

Blessings,

Cindy (rumandcolaforthesoul.com)

*I’m aware that there is abuse happening in other denominations and religions. I have only witnessed the abuse and heard the stories from these two cultures. I grew up going to Southern Baptist churches and I live in a predominately Catholic area. My adamant belief is based on anecdotal evidence and informal research into what others have written. However, I stand firm in that is obvious when leaders cover up abuse and allow victims to be shamed, the influence of the shame culture they model extends far beyond the incidents we hear about in the news. It impacts every person in that church and all the people the religious elite have labeled less important than their vision.

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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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