Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Had breakfast with a friend yesterday morning. They (his family) had gone to a certain church on Sunday. Said that they were so turned off by what was going on there.... The worship seemed more like a show. And the pastor talked way too long and too much about their building program. He even divulged the amount some were giving .......
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Last night had coffee with Wayne. We asked the question, "Is there anybody in our lives that we need to forgive?".......
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Tomorrow I will be meeting with someone in the hopes of reconciliation.......
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I was thinking about different ideas that we in "simple church" could implement.
1- instead of paying someone mega bucks to do a conference we could meet at someone's cottage and have discussions about the direction we are heading. (Lt's idea).
2- We need more people who will write inspiring books with no more than 70 pages in them. In the last 5 years I have rarely read a book right through. It's not that I don't enjoy reading but most people say in 312 pages what they could say in 70 or less. Anybody want to start up a small book publishing firm in their basement?
3- Sharing choruses and music that we have written for free.
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Why is it that when someone writes a book on a certain topic, he or she becomes the resident guru and everyone falls all over themselves trying to book that person for a conference? For example there are some writers who write about house church but they always seem to be on the road and talking about house church but never seem to be in one... mmmmmmm.
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Cute one liners. How does a butcher introduce his wife?........... meet patty!!!! Did you hear about the two Saskatchewanians who went hunting? ...... they were following some tracks and got hit by a train....
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Monday, June 02, 2003

THE TITHE?????
I do not believe the tithe exists for the Christian today. It is because of the erroneous teaching of the tithe that church justifies having buildings. If there is any way we can begin to convince people that the building is unnecessary begin with dismantling or deconstructing in the minds of people the teaching of the tithe. The tithe is the central reason for the existence of church buildings. Without the tithe we would have no buildings or system of church that we have today. These are the reasons I believe the tithe is not binding on us today.
1- New Covenant.... The destruction of the temple
2- Transportation of the gospel to the nations.... not Jewish customs
3- Paul's appeal for giving..... not the tithe
A quick overview of scripture regarding the tithe. I will not spend a lot of time here. There are three reasons given for the tithe in the O.T. First, to support the Levitical priests since they had no income. Second, for celebration around the temple system and the regular celebrations in keeping their religious customs. The third reason had to do with the sojourner, the stranger and the needy.
First: The New Covenant.... There are not very many of us who understand how new the New Covenant really is. Here is a question.... Who's idea was it that the Temple system come to an end....? was it a) house church and emerging church types. b) the Roman government in the apostolic age. c) the apostles, or d) George Bush. The answer is none of the above .. It was God's idea. When Jesus was overlooking the Temple in all of it's splendor he predicted that not one stone would be left upon another thereby predicting the Temple's destruction. He was not lamenting this but knew it had to be. He had already taught the woman at the well that people would not be worshipping in this place or that but in spirit and in truth. He wiped out the need for the Holy mountain .... Sinai .... and the Holy City.... Jerusalem. This was the new covenant... the new reality.... that God was not going to live in temples or buildings made of stone.... but amongst living stones.... His people. Now if the temple is destroyed and we no longer have that system what need is there of the tithe......mmm unless, of course, we the church have resurrected the temple system..........
Second. 95 to 99% of the gospel message was transported out of the nation that rejected Jesus as their Messiah and given to all the nations around them and all around the world. What was not being transported was the Jewish temple and the continuance of Jewish customs including the tithe system. They were transporting Jesus and His message. The nations knew nothing about the Jewish customs and celebrations and so on. So when Paul talked about giving, what was his foundation or what did he appeal to....... The tithe or first fruits?????? Hardly.
Third. The way teachers teach about tithe, it is very odd that neither Paul, nor John, nor Peter have anything to say about it. Paul often talked about giving. He even half heartedly confronts the Corinthian church to give. He uses the example of the Macedonian church on how to give. Now if the tithe were still in place it would have been Paul's right to go into some lengthy teaching about the tithe and how it was their responsibility to give based on the tithe. Of course he didn't because we no longer give based on any law. We give based on our being followers and being alive to Christ. Paul did not appeal to the tithe like so many preachers do today. Instead this was the reasoning he used. "the grace of God that is in you." "Give what you have purposed in your heart." Give sacrifically like the Macedonians" and give when there is need like in the Acts church. In an article in (www.house2house.tv), magazine entitled "Sacrificial Giving" Maurice Smith says.... "I am convinced that the New Testament standard and model for giving is not tithing, but radical sacrificial giving out of a transformed life. Now, I don't really want to engage in a "debate" over tithing, but I would challenge anyone to produce a single New Testament passage where tithing is demonstrated in practice in the life of the New Testament church. I can't find one. But I can find many examples of radical, sacrificial giving out of a transformed life which went far beyond tithing."
I would love to see a Pastor stand up and say to his congregation. From this day onward we teach that the tithe is not binding on you as a congregation. If you want to keep this going then it will have be totally on your giving. But before you give to this organization called church, have you checked around for struggling single moms or dad's? How about widows? Have you responded to our brothers and sisters who are hungry and homeless in Africa and India? How about our persecuted family in other countries. "But, but, but, pastor if we do that then there will be no money to pay for our building". To this the pastor answers "so be it" "But, but, but pastor if we do that we won't be able to afford to hire you". "Mmmmm never thought of that". Next Sunday his sermon is "The absolute necessity of Tithing." It would be better for him to have said "so be it."

zuzu@mts.net
Well I am back blogging. Last week I did some construction work for a friend.....aaaahhhhggg every bone in my body shut down. I was walking around like a zombie for a couple of days. here are a few updates. Last weekend Leighton Tebay (surprisingly pronounced Teebee) dropped by. He was in Winnipeg for a conference. We chatted for almost 6 hours straight. Seemed like we were just renewing old friendships instead of meeting for the first time. I'm not sure he got what he came for but we sat and talked about a lot of things. Thanks for dropping by Leighton. By the way Leighton calls his blog "the Heresy". you wanna talk heresy.... he likes coke and the Calgary Flames. It makes a guy wonder.
This weekend our former church invited me to do worship. I haven't done that in over 5 years. They are having family camp and they always end off the camp with a church service on Sunday morning.... that is when they want me to lead. It's funny... friends from that church were over for supper a couple of months ago and asked about our philosophy of church. So I answered.... relational, organic and the fact that we have done away with the church service. Of course that was the short answer. Well I was waiting for some kind of rebuttal and none came. Instead he talked about burn out and not really liking church and so on. I told him that I did not like church or the church service. A couple of weeks later I stopped and chatted with him at a building site. and he said "I have a hard question and an easy one. The hard one is "will you work for me on Monday?" I said yes. Then he said the easy one is "Will you lead worship at our family camp." It shocked me out of my pants." (I guess you can imagine the embarrassment i felt standing there with no pants on). Talk about mis judging the questions. I told him that I had to pray about this one. It took me three weeks to decide. The Lord kept telling me "They are not the enemy... they are not the enemy." so I'll have to shake the dust off of my overheads and get ready.
Just heard about another group in Steinbach who may be pulling out of their church to meet organically and an relationally. Interesting....... I am trying to get people 40 and over to start blogging but..... it's like trying to make changes in a church. whew....... My kids came home from a church family camp...... Amy my 13 year old had only 3 hours of sleep the first night and none the second night. Lynn and I were not around when they got home so Amy went to bed at 3:30 yesterday afternoon and go up at 7:30 this morning...... Jeff our 16 yr old (soon to be 17) had enough sense to get an average of 4 to 5 hours a night...... July 1rst is Lynn and my 25th anniversary. Wow i remember when my parents celebrated theirs. I thought they were old. Pressure's on to do something. I thought either Miami or Holland. Since Manitoba has towns with those names it might not be so expensive after all........... What to do for a job???????? Anyone want to visit the "Church of the Saviour" with me in the next couple of years? Today i will be working on a little article. (Half or three quarters of a page) entitled. The Central Reason the Church building exists is the erroneous teaching of the tithe. So that's it for now zuzu@mts.net

Monday, May 26, 2003

PART V

So what lesson did I learn? Well it is bridging the gap between the immature visionary and the practical visionary. To understand, in a deep way, that it is never about how many people one has in a group but whether those people are willing to count the cost. The immature visionary gets 10 people together and cares very little about those 10 people. His mind is scheming and thinking about the next 10 people he has no interest in helping. His satisfaction is not found in building quality but rather in numbers. Gordon Cosby of the Church of the Saviour has said this, "Vision is the destroyer of essence." This is coming from one of the most visionary minds the church has ever seen. For Cosby it is not about vision and fruit. It is very much about vision + sacrifice and commitment and then fruit. Does that mean we are to do what the church of the Saviour did. No. But there are lessons we can most definitely learn from them. I know that there are people who talk about being a missional church and wanting to make a deep impact but care little about the hard work that comes with it. At the same time, essence of the church is NOT the vision: Listen to Gordon Cosby in these 3 quotes: Read them slowly and let it sink in.

“…The essence of church is not its mission. [The “vision statement” is not what its about.] It’s not a matter of a group, battling homelessness, or working with at-risk children or people who don’t have jobs or people who are addicted or working with issues of justice or peace…the soul of the church is a gathered people whose only reason for gathering is Jesus. The church is a people who gather because they want to know Jesus in a deeper way. The focus must not be on the vision first but on the relationship with the one who gives the vision. The vision will not ultimately sustain us, but the one who gives the vision will…”

We will commit ourselves to an intensive love effort with a few people. We will be committed to smallness. Large numbers tend almost inevitably toward depersonalization and institutionalism, toward a lessening of commitment. So we resist the temptation of numbers and the power that comes through numbers.

The central reality of Church is a group of people, core people, called to be in deepening personal belonging of friendship with Jesus of Nazareth and through him to others.

Unfortunately when some people read this they think Cosby is affirming their belief of having no vision. But this is reading Cosby way out of context. He is saying that mission is NOT the essence of church. I find it very sad that many small groups never get beyond themselves and look outward. END PART V

Thursday, May 22, 2003

PART IV

I am not free to share about the Winnipeg group so I will fast forward to my chat with Wayne. I went to his place and we began to talk about growth and so on. We began talking about problems people have and as we talked about these things I believe the Lord was revealing something. You see I view myself as a visionary. The problem many visionaries have is that they tend to see the positive and that positiveness is usually linked with how many people will come along (ie numbers). We will have 20 to 30 new groups in the next 2 years and will plan and just about do anything to make it happen. They do not see that people come with all sorts of problems. And they need patient people to come along side them. It takes time for many people to get from where they are to being where God can reveal to them the flower that is in them and the gift that God has put in them. But we visionaries want some measure of success and we want it now. I will call this group immature visionaries. These visionaries spend much of their time wondering why the groups they have established keep falling apart.
On my way home from Wayne's I began thinking about all of this. Then my thoughts turned to the Church of the Saviour in Washington D.C. I had first read about them in 1994. The book was called "The New Community" by Elizabeth O'Connor. Then I read "Call to Commitment" by the same author. I had to visit them and in 1996 I did just that. I was amazed at what was happening there. Well as an immature visionary I was astounded by what I could see. The dilapidated apartments they transformed into beautiful living quarters. Drug addicts being healed. Free health clinics. The depth that seemed to be a part of them and so on. My eyes beheld the fruit of their work and I was amazed. What my eyes could not see were the hours upon hours of commitment and sacrifice that went into the work the Lord gave them to do. I wonder if those of us who are immature visionaries understand the commitment and sacrifice it will take to establish new communities. End PART IV

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

PART III
On Saturday morning I was cleaning my tapes up and came across a tape by Clarence Jordan called "The Substance of Faith.". Clarence Jordan began a communal farm just after World War II. His outreach purpose was to hire black people to work on his farm so they could save up money to buy themselves a house. Now Clarence Jordan was educate in agriculture and had a masters degree in theology. He was 6' 4" and usually wore suspenders. He did not look the educated type. Anyway in his effort to love black people (in Georgia) in the 40's and 50's, their farm was shot at, barns set on fire and bombed.... bullets often whizzed by them in the kitchen. Their farm was boycotted by all the businesses in Americus Georgia. So the words I share from Jordan are not words coming from a man that closes himself in an office and reads about the faith of others. He experienced real persecution in the States. Jordan was also the man who came up with the idea for Habitat for Humanity. He died in 1968 just before the first house was completed. Here are a few quotes that has helped out in my fight against FEAR.

"Faith is not belief in spite of the evidence, but a life lived in scorn of the consequences."

"Faith is not a way of thinking but a way of acting."

"Faith is the activation of our aspirations. The life based on unseen realities."

"So long as the word remains theory to us and is not incarnated into deeds and living... you do not have faith. You may have good theology but you do not have faith."

"Fear is the polio of the soul that prevents us from walking by faith."

"The foundation of fear is self-preservation."

"Death is fear's greatest worry"

"But death has been ABOLISHED."

"Fear will be overactive in us so long as it sees anywhere on the horizon the specter of death."

"we must have the assurance of the abolishment of death."

"Faith lay in the power of the resurrection"

"They did not preach ethics, but the resurrection."

"Three aspects of the life of Jesus are...His life, his crucifixion and His resurrection."

"We must stop putting our emphasis on freedom..instead that we are bound slaves.. slaves of the living God.

End part III

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

PART II
I don't think that I can remember all these in chronological order. I'll start with Mark 4. The part where Jesus is sleeping on a boat. A storm arises and the disciples are afraid. They wake Jesus up and His words hit me like a ton of bricks, "Why are you so timid.... don't you have faith." Well a revelation happened in getting me to see that fear works against faith. As long as fear was operative then how could faith.... which is always connected to conviction and action..... flourish? If one is paralyzed by fear then faith shrivels up. Now there are some things that are out of our control... like healing, changing someone's heart and the like and the only thing there is to do is to come to Jesus and believe...... but even some of those who were healed in scripture acted..... they sought Jesus out. But there are things that are firmly in our control and if we let fear rule then nothing will happen. For example our next door neighbors have lived there for about 2 or 3 years and we haven't said boo to each other. Well putting aside my fear I went over and had a chat with him for a half an hour.(this was about 4 days ago). Afterwards Lynn, my wife, brought over some rhubarb meringue pie. I also said that they could use our trampoline for their little guy anytime they wanted to. But if I continued to let fear control me it would not have happened.
Also Wayne, Lynn our children and myself are reading the book of Mark.... Well one of the things that comes out quite strong is the fact that throngs of people sought after Jesus. My thoughts are, how in the world could he keep up. Coupled with this is the same idea when Leighton Tebay (www.theheresy.com) posts "Escape from Christendom" on his blog. I scrolled down and my eyes fell on the fourth wilderness called the harvest. The question that was asked was, "But will I have the strength to keep on working among people with such great needs." This happened two nights ago shortly after I got in on Sunday night after my conversation with Wayne. Now tripled with that was an article I read from house2house magazine about someone's excitement about starting simple churches in their neighborhood. After being there for 5 years they have led only one family to the Lord and have started no other home groups. Then that person went on to tell how a couple of people in Spokane had a word from the Lord that revival was going to happen. Their question was "will the people of these cities be ready." And that was this person's question.
I wonder, when we pray for revival, do we know what we're asking? The truth is, if my neighbors did start coming to the Lord and home groups did start forming and multiplying on my street, my life would change. The usual routines would have to go. My thoughts and time and energy would have to be focused on a whole new group of people and a whole new set of challenges and opportunities
. This is the crucial question remains "Do we really want this to happen...... end PART II

PART I
What do these things have in common? Mark 4: The book of Mark. The Church of the Saviour. Clarence Jordan. Escape from Christendom. An article called, "Are we ready for revival." Assinaboine Park in Winnipeg. A group from Winnipeg. Last night's chat with Wayne........ ANSWER: the leading of the Holy Spirit...... to teach me one small but significant point that is crucial to home groups and reaching out.
Three weeks ago today, which is Monday, May 12th, I went for one of those long walks in Assinaboine park in Winnipeg. I struggled with the Lord about how our group had been together for a year and a half and no one has joined us in our journey. It seemed very much as if the Lord led us out of the traditional church and had asked me to begin small buildingless churches or home groups...... but nothing was happening. As I was praying and thinking, I began thinking of different ways to make contact with people and basically plan different ways to let people know about these kinds of churches. Well my spirits really began to soar. The Lord was with me.
I came home and a few days later came across a verse that hit me like a ton of bricks. "I will arouse him in righteousness. And will make his way smooth. He will build my city and will let my exiles go free. Without any payment or reward." Well I knew the Lord had aroused me. I also was sensing that a hedge was being built around me concerning a certain sin. That strengthening has lasted three weeks thus far. The area of fear was also always in my face. Somehow that had to be dealt with. But how? Now remember this is all happening in the last three weeks. That is over the past three weeks there has been a deep sense that God is speaking to me. I know this because of an aura or a sensing. My reading and circumstances are revealing deeper things. And I am understanding that it is purely a gift. This ends part I

Friday, May 16, 2003

So here is the home church situation as far as I know it in Manitoba. First there is our group of 5. We are connected to another home group in Sprague. Sprague is a good hour drive from our home. Good people there. They are in the south east corner of Manitoba just a few kilometers from the U.S. border. There is a Mennonite house group in Steinbach. We went there three or four times about 3 or 4 years ago. Not quite what we were looking for. In Morden, there are apparently 5 home groups. (Mennonite). Do not know too much about them. There is a home group of two families in Anola. In Pinawa a new home group has just started. They are connected to 3 other autonomous cell groups in Winnipeg. Through the grapevine we have heard about a Ken Stade, who is interested in house churches.
What I'd like to do is make connection with all the above and see if we can connect and learn from each other. There are three fears that I have concerning this. First, those who are a part of a denomination tend to want everyone to come under their umbrella. For example the Mennonites in these home churches are proud of their Anabaptists roots. If they were really honest with their "roots" they would realize that the early Anabaptists did not want to be called by any name. Just brothers and sisters. The name Anabaptists was not a name they chose for themselves. It was quite derogatory. It meant "you re baptizer." Many lost their lives because of re baptizing. It was only later when gifted leaders (learned or charismatic) began boxing everything in and making rules and regulations for everyone. Of all the so called theologies I identify most closely with the Anabaptists. I just think we need to drop the name and call each other brothers and sisters.
The second fear is connecting with those groups who have merely transferred what they did on Sunday morning to the home. When they have a few more people they will think about renting the school with the hope of building someday.
The third fear is two-fold. First, the simple church will become denominationalized...... aided by me. I got a phone call about a year ago and the person on the other end was very gracious. But he said that there was a possibility that a national house church leader could be appointed. This is why, amongst other things, we have been slow to jump on to this wagon. It just seemed that this strategy would naturally lead to the 20,000 and first denomination. Do you remember when the Israelites wanted a king like all the nations around them. God called them a stiff-necked people. I think you get the analogy. The second has to do with my own heart. I tend to want to connect with only those who share our vision and way of doing things. But how is this possible? Will this not lead to spiritual pride and building my own kingdom? What can we learn from each other? As I begin, which is for me a scary thing, to contact some of these groups I pray that we will be able to network to offer each other support and encouragement. Please pray for me.