Old Covenant Church

I think I’m slowly comprehending the profound cleavage that’s occurring today in how folks understand “Church”.

Old Covenant Church

The Old Covenant was a revelation about God – His nature and precepts – with a tabernacle/temple where people could go to find His presence and a priesthood to help get right with Him.

This is like many churches today, which do a wonderful job teaching us about the Lord, providing a place and an environment for us to experience His presence, and serving as a bridge between God and His people.

Many are content to go to church to learn about God, feel His presence, and have an anointed and appointed pastor and his worship team mediate from the front. It would be dishonest to deny that those can be truly amazing, life-affirming pillars for one’s faith.

But in the New Testament, is that God’s perfect will?

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The Road to Grace

For the institutionally religious, the road to grace is the toughest journey they’ll ever face.

For me, this certainly has been the case. And although the road to grace has been a wonderful journey, there have been many bumps and detours along the way. But slowly, I’m finally starting to find my way forward.

It’s Jesus in me and Jesus through me, so that it becomes possible to have Jesus in us and Jesus through us.

So much of my life over the last five years has been about the Lord reducing me to that simple truth.

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A Hollow Gospel

Sometimes I get angry and need the Lord to settle my spirit.

I am so frustrated over the shattered lives of man after man who I help find the Lord in jail, who then go to some on-fire, podium-focused, pastor-centric church when they get out.


The Show

Inevitably, I will see those men back in jail again a year later, or I’ll hear that they have relapsed and fallen back into addiction or bondage.

Why are they back in jail or back in bondage? Because that “church” is little more than glory-halleluiah feel-good meetings with exciting sermons framed by manipulative emotional intensity which masquerades as “worship” – all deliberately designed to serve as a platform to showcase the gifted pastor and his gifted team.

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The Question of Leadership

ChoicesWhen folks start re-thinking institutional “church” and consider the idea of simple participatory fellowships, the first thing they often focus on is the question of leadership. That was true for me.

That’s an important issue, for sure. But the incessant focus on who will lead – and on creating proper leadership structures – typically comes out of the whole institutional paradigm they are trying to leave.

What we fail to realize is that elders (also called pastors, bishops and presbyters, depending on your translation) and deacons emerged in the New Testament from fellowship, and not fellowship from elders and deacons.

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Crossing Jordan

As folks progress from institutional podium churches toward organic participatory churches, they often allow themselves to continue being defined by the institutional church (“IC”). This arises not so much because they retain the attitudes and practices of the IC, but because they are still holding onto the disillusionment that emerged when they began to see the IC’s shortcomings and unbiblical traditions.

Organic Church

For many of us, when we finally leave the IC there is a season where we perceive and react to things not out of freedom, but rather out of not wanting to be like the IC. When we remain in a reactive mode, however, we remain in bondage to our past IC experiences.

In that place of reaction, our reality is still shaped by the IC rather than by who God wants us to be and by His promises for us. By reacting to the past, we are not able to grasp the future.

The best analogy is Israel’s journey out of Egypt and slavery, into the wilderness, and finally into the promised land.

Eventually, in my own life, I had to get to the place where I not only was delivered from Egypt, but was willing to let God take Egypt out of me. Like with Israel, that happened in the wilderness. It was hard, and took several years, but it was necessary in order to then cross over the Jordan River into God’s promises – where there is life and freedom and joy.

The resulting fellowships that are emerging in our area, among those who also have made it to the other side of Jordan, are renewing and refreshing and were worth the journey!

For those still in transition, don’t expect to be able to bypass the wilderness. The wilderness is dry and scorching, but God uses it to burn out of us those things from Egypt that otherwise still define us. It is part of God’s plan, because it is not enough to take a person out of Egypt. Rather, we also must allow God to take Egypt out of us!

Starve the Beast

According to a new study by Empty Tomb Inc., a Christian research agency, giving to traditional Protestant and evangelical churches has fallen to the lowest level in decades. The study says this is not due to the poor economy. Rather, it indicates that people are cutting back as they see how their tithes and offerings are typically misused by churches. It seems that folks are fed up with all the money grubbing for ego-buildings, staff who are increasingly detached from real ministry, and life-sucking programs that don’t really advance the Kingdom of God.

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The Church in the New Testament: Its Form, Function and Purpose

Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride! In this PowerPoint presentation, all that you think of as “church” is about to be challenged so God can woo us back to being, once more, the multi-faceted, wonderful, exciting Body of Christ.

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God seems to be laying a foundation for yet another of His periodic, history-changing interventions in the affairs of man. Over the last two thousand years there have been many such paradigm shifts, and it’s naive to think that our current, settled status quo will somehow be exempt from the unsettling but progressive advance of His Kingdom.

Paradigm Shifts

This newest paradigm shift is starting with pioneers who realize that God’s primary goal in history is to change not only individuals but also whole cultures and nations — as per the Great Commission.

Likewise, as with all prior interventions in history, His will is being applied to more and more aspects of His creation here on earth, just as it is in heaven — as per the Lord’s Prayer.

We also are coming to realize that the Kingdom of God — His will being done on earth (including all spheres of human endeavor) as it is in heaven — is bigger than the church. Nonetheless, we are beginning to understand that His Kingdom is not going to advance much further unless the church re-discovers her New Testament roots.

Admittedly, there is comfort in the familiar status quo of “church” as we’ve all come to know it. Some, however, are so hungry for God’s Kingdom — as it continues to progressively advance through history — that they’re willing hit to the reboot button and look afresh at God’ s purposes.

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True Ministry

Last night, we had one of our best times of “participatory church” as we seamlessly shared a meal, partook of communion, fellowshipped and ministered one with another — and none of it depended on me!

The last several weeks have been very emotionally and physically exhausting for me. On top of my best friend dying, I’ve been struggling to keep up with my various professional and counseling commitments while concurrently experiencing a particularly bad bout of chronic fatigue from my autoimmune condition.

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Good Christian Satire

I often get a chuckle from Lark News, and their latest spoof definitely rings all-to-true.

It reminds me of a very large (huge, in fact) evangelical church in town — where the pastor preaches his sermons on a vast stage each Sunday while a smoke machine bellows out measured amounts of awe and mystery in the background. For real!

It’s very good theater, plus the sermons aren’t half bad if you’re into that kind of thing.

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Evangelical Prophets or Martyrs?

I vividly recall leafing through World magazine back in 2006 and reading the unsettling but hardly surprising news that Randall Terry – the firebrand evangelical who formerly headed Operation Rescue and was then financially wiped out following a series of lawsuits by pro-abortionists – had joined the Roman Catholic Church.

“Unsettling,” because it provides further evidence of the growing weariness and disillusionment I’m seeing among spiritual “entrepreneurs” who’ve been laboring within evangelical circles to expand the Kingdom of God in all spheres of life and culture.

“Hardly surprising,” however, as those “on point” for the Kingdom increasingly seek refuge from the prevailing pop-theology (or dare I say lack of theology) and me-focused brand of Christianity that pervades evangelicalism (which includes charismatics and Pentecostals), animates many of our local church and national leaders, and cuts believers off from the great historic doctrines and creeds of our faith.

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