The following was first taught verbally (originating from notes scratched on a McDonald’s napkin) in a living room in the Midwest in 1986. It was spoken to a group of believers that is neither protestant nor catholic, neither charismatic, pentecostal, fundamental, or evangelical — in the typical sense that those labels are used. As you read you’ll notice many direct excerpts from that evening. Such excerpts throughout this book may sound “personal” (or colloquially awkward and redundant) for that reason. Frankly, I don’t even want to take the time to pretty anything up — there’s too much work to do. The thoughts contained here are nothing more than just one weak, sometimes‑failing-but-determined brother opening his heart to his friends. The subject? God’s People cultivating a deep relationship with their God and one another. It’s about gathering “in His Name” — letting Jesus, our Lord, have His way utterly in our midst.
Two or three thoughts to help you along the way as you read: Much of what is contained in these pages is not simply the exposition of Scripture, but the application of Scriptural Truths. The focus will be, as Paul’s often was, on the nature of practical Life, walking with Jesus Christ in His Kingdom. Later on in the book, in the last two sections especially, you’ll discover more in the “Vision” realm than the practical thoughts that permeate the early chapters. Hang tough! Also, several have suggested that the footnotes may be amongst the most important parts of this book. Please take the time to read them, to gain the most from the investment you’ll make in digging in to all of this.
You will find, I hope, that this writing is not about a “new way to have church.” Those of us who worked together to offer these thoughts to you are in total agreement: We want nothing whatsoever to do with being known as “those folks that talk about meetings.” YUCK! Our hearts, and I believe our way of Life, is about JESUS, not meetings. This writing is about HIM, and something nearly foreign to western, twentieth-century thinking: It is about a Kingdom.
Few in a democratic society can even fathom the true meaning and administration of a “Kingdom.” Just as an example of our culture’s arrogance and disloyalties, masses applaud the insulting two‑hour television rebuttals to the President’s “State of the Union Address.” How can we understand a “Kingdom” when we are so committed to “every man doing what is right in his own eyes?” (“Submission” is never submission — if we must agree first.)
In spite of the vocabulary used during “worship time,” most of christendom today is pretty far from being, really, an expression of the Kingdom of God. Absolute loyalty, and prostrate unquestioning obedience and devotion, are mostly passe in our “modern” world. (Neat worship hours are still “in,” however.) Dare we truly penetrate the meaning of the present manifestation of His Lordship “in our midst?” As Paul said, “Now!” (And I certainly am not speaking of a “social utopia.” I am speaking of the same Glory manifested in a weak, but awe‑some “no beauty or majesty” People that was manifested first in our Lord as He walked with us in the flesh.)
To put it yet another way, this writing is about Life, Together, as a Family, under our Father. He meant for us to journey Together. “We being many, are one body.” The poems and song lyrics that you’ll discover as you journey through these pages are representative, I think, of this Truth. Each was written by a member of the Body of Christ in this locale, and offered at different times, during gatherings, and from house to house. These offerings, too, were never meant to impress anyone but Jesus, and are simply the heart‑felt expressions of the day‑to‑day life of God’s lambs living for Jesus and for one another.
For clarity’s sake I should say again that many of the thoughts here were originally spoken directly to a church that was already living in very much the reality of “daily in public and from house to house.” For that reason, if you are living in a more typical modern‑day religious church environment, you may be a step or two out of an ability to visualize, or live in, some of what follows. At least for now. If this turns out to be the case, try to understand as much as you can, and pray that God will give increase to these Seeds in your future. But don’t ever be complacent and accept less than what Jesus deserves in His People! Be a catalyst for Godly change!
This teaching was, at the time it was originally spoken, a direct challenge to some of the carnality of those early days in the local church where God had placed us. Still, there has been a continual paradox — a paradox that seems very much like that of Isaiah 53. In spite of the suffering, there has been much to be thankful for. This excerpt (from another writing) was written to describe some of what God has done in His People, His Bride, here and around the world, in spite of her weaknesses:
Jesus’ Bride, His Church. She’s a special Lady, a “Bride PREPARED for the return of the Groom,” the King of Glory. She’s “a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish.” She is an equal yoke for Jesus — compassionate, yet filled with fury towards hypocrisy; sensitive, yet relentlessly pursuing the completion of Her Father’s business. This is the church that Jesus bought with His very Blood…
She’s a church that is not bound by time and place, but visibly expresses herself “daily in public and from house to house.” She’s “joined and knit together by every supporting ligament,” “everyone members of one‑another,” “confessing sins one to another,” “admonishing one another daily so that none are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin,” always loving and serving and “bearing one‑another’s burdens” in joy and thanksgiving (and, occasionally, with a few tears). She is a “city set on a hill that cannot be hidden.” Her corporate gatherings are only the overflow of what is happening on the streets and in the homes of all of her people.
“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.”
She’s characterized by “mega power” and “mega grace.” Sin is exposed and eradicated with “ever-increasing Glory” in the lives of those in the church. Captives have been, at long last, set FREE. (With more to come, by His Grace!) The singing of songs to our God isn’t directed by a menu printed a week in advance, but (hopefully!) flows out of what God is doing in our midst each moment.
Together, with intimacy of relationships, we’ll continue to learn to LIVE as our Lord did. Jesus, the Christ of God, now lives within us, individually and as a People — (Col. 1:26-27, 3:4; Gal.2:20; Acts 17:28; Eph.3:10, 5:18; 1Jn.2:6; Rom.8:9).
The Church here has had good days and bad days (if not good months and bad months) and is readily able to admit that she still has much to learn. And at the time of this admonition (the oral teaching about meetings in His Kingdom) “way back when”…the baby stuff almost seemed to bury us at times. And it certainly took a lot of the fun out of gatherings or evenings when we had to deal with that baby stuff. Has it been worth it? It has been awesome. No complaints. Many tears and late nights, and much perspiration by His Priesthood over the years, but no complaints. We wouldn’t go back in time for a jillion dollars.
Again, you’ll need to remember that this teaching came to the surface during a gathering of a church that was already walking (though childishly much of the time!) as a Priesthood of Believers. There were (and are) no “Bible Studies” — but much Bible. There were (and are) no “services” — but very frequent gatherings of the entire church. There were (and are) no “Prayer Meetings” — but much prayer together and separately. There were (and are) no clergymen — but there are Saints leading the way who are washed in His Blood and Enveloped by His Spirit. Frail as we are, that is at least our direction by the Grace of God, and many of the following exhortations are directly to those who have already moved (a short distance) down that Path towards letting Jesus have His Church back. As you’ll be able to tell, we wrestled with it and fumbled around some, as will all who desire to get up out of the chair and test their legs! Come along with us. Jesus is fun to be around!
1 Isaiah 9:6-7; 2Cor.3:17-18; Acts 3:17‑23; Mat.4:23; Lk.10:9, Acts 8:12, 28:31. Back
2 Ephesians 3:10; Matthew 16:18. Back
3 2Corinthians 13:4, 12:9-10; 1Corinthians 3:18, 4:10‑13, 1:18‑31; Isaiah 53:1‑4,10. Back
4 Early on I’d like to say this: We, as a part of Christ’s Church in the city in which we live, do not make any claims for ourselves. We only want to boast in our Lord, Jesus. To point anyone towards us, rather than towards our Brother and King and the Truth of His Word, would be a tragedy. As soon as anyone promotes themselves, or offers themselves as a model of God’s Truth (though such models are a valid possibility if GOD does the promotion by His Grace — 1Thes.1:7, 1:6, 2:10, 14), a fall is near. When they offer themselves as a “fishbowl” for others to look at, they become driven by their need to protect their reputation and to promote their paradigm. Frankly, by the time you read this book, the entire Church here — men, women, and children — may have been sent out to other cities and countries, never again to meet together as a whole. That “sending” — whether via the means of Acts 13 or Acts 8 — is always a possibility for “children of Abraham” (Heb.11:8‑10, Rom.4:16). We’re not aware of any such plans God may have for us at this instant, but we all want to have our roots, our center of gravity, in Heaven (Eph.2:6; Col.3:1‑4; Heb.11:13‑16; 1Pet.2:9‑12) so that we will be immediately available to God.
My point is this: Let the Truth of the Word of God and the Life of Jesus be the Standard that drives you to a healthy dissatisfaction for any environment you are in that does not fully express God’s Heart. Don’t follow men or movements, but rather let God Himself build a deep, deep conviction of His Desire for His People in your soul. Then you will be impassioned all the days of your life for Him and His Purposes — no matter what anyone anywhere does, or does not do. Jesus will never disappoint you. Live, and be willing to die, for HIM. Back
5 The phrase “temple courts” referred to in Acts 2 — Acts 8, and interpreted hereafter as “in public,” does not, in the Scriptures, refer to a “church building.” The phrase “temple courts” in the Scriptures refers to an area that the people of Jerusalem used as a city park, not a religious structure erected for “services.” Back
6 The Traditions of Men, P.O. Box 68309, Indianapolis, IN. 46268. Back