A Tale Of Two Churches [Lesson 9.2]

3 Aug
A tale of two churches…
 – The Home Church –

Exactly what is meant by the phrase “Home Church?” Home churches, also known as house churches, describe small groups of believers – even as few as 2 or 3 – who gather in the name of Jesus Christ. They are very similar to the earliest churches which were customarily designated in the Scriptures as household units. These first Christians, you will recall, reveled in the fact that they personally had become the new dwelling place of the Almighty – living stones in God’s spiritual temple.

The basic rationale? The undergirding principle here is that all authority in heaven and in earth reside in Jesus Christ who reveals Himself through scripture, nature and by supernatural means, as well. Knowledge and all ethics are thus derived from Jesus Christ through the His Holy Spirit.

This means that the totality of life must be God-directed as we are motivated by gratitude for the life, death, and resurrection of His Son. The Home Church perspective is thus a unique world-view in which every follower of Jesus becomes a full-time Christian minister or servant. Every day, every event, every thought, every place become the domain of the Messiah. The line between sacred and secular progressively diminishes because Christ gives true meaning to all things. Every thought is to be brought captive to Him who is All and in all.” (1)

 – The Full Service Church –
On Easter of 1980, Saddleback Valley Community Church held its very first public service and 205 people, most of whom had never been to church, showed up. That began one of the most exciting journeys of growth that any church has experienced in American history. In more than two decades of ministry in South Orange County, God has continued to expand the church’s influence. Currently, Saddleback Church has more than 200 ministries serving the church and community. One in nine people in the area call Saddleback their church home.

God has also expanded the church’s ministry both nationally and internationally. Pastor Rick’s 1995 book The Purpose Driven Church, is translated into over 25 languages and was voted one of the “100 Christian Books That Changed the 20th Century. More than 350,000 church leaders from 120 countries have been trained in Saddleback’s purpose-driven paradigm. Pastor Rick’s latest book, The Purpose Driven Life, has been the #1 or #2 bestseller on the New York Times bestseller list for almost two years and still selling about a million copies a month. It has been named “Book of the Year” twice- in both 2003 and 2004, and recognized as “the bestselling hardback non-fiction book in history.” It focuses on the truth that life is “not about you,” and shows how God can enable each of us to live for His purposes. (2)

Which of the above examples are Christ’s Church? If you answered, both of them, you would be right. Based on our definition of church, both of them are local communities of Christ believers. The small house church might have 20 members or 2 or 3. Saddleback has thousands. Where is God’s blessings? Would Saddleback be so large if it didn’t attract a certain type of believer? You can see from the description of the house church that from their perspective,  thousands are leaving institutional churches to be in a more participatory God experience.(3) Who’s right? They both are. We all come to God with different baggage. Some are burned out with trying to do everything that they just want to be served for a while. Some are tired of being “preached” to and want a smaller community that they can actually take part in ministry. Both are right. Both serve God. Both are not for everyone.
God’s relationship with us is uniquely personal. Our journeys are all unique. Along the way, we may meet people with similar experiences or beliefs or goals. Those relationships are what form local communities. Some of those communities stay small. Others, see different visions for ministry and grow into the thousands. Each has it’s purpose. Each has it’s members. Each glorifies God in serving Him.
Where do you fit? Big, small, somewhere in between?
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

What Is Church [Lesson 9.1]

2 Aug
What is church?  When you think about church, what immediately comes to mind?  I Google’d the word “church” and here are some entries that came up:
Presbyterian Church(USA)  I wonder how they got listed first?
The United Church of Christ  How united is it? Ever check how many denominations there are?
The Church of England | Church of England  So nice that they named it twice!
The Episcopal Church Welcomes You  Well thank you!
Landover Baptist: America’s Favorite Church   I didn’t know that!
The Church of the SubGenius huh?
Church of Satan: The Official Web Site Even he has a church
+++ Saddleback Church +++  They must use the plusses to illustrate just how big they are!
Church Sign GeneratorNow you can get your customized church sign as a refrigerator magnet! Does your fridge then become an alter?
Church of Euthanasia   I would guess that this is a young church.
Westboro Baptist Church – Godhatesfags.com  Now what kind of a Christian message does that send? Actually, living in Kansas City for a while, we were all familiar with Fred Phelps anti-gay message.
Metal Church Rock On!
Inflatable Church   Where the preacher is really full of hot air!
Virtual Church Only exists in your mind.
Church of Fools In a Biblical sense, is this the church of unbelievers? Ps 53:1
Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping  Where do I sign up?
This could get ridiculous.  With all of the above examples, can you tell me what church is?  As it relates to our subject of Bible doctrine, church is the community of God’s people whose relationships with one another are based on their relationships with Jesus Christ.  If you look at what the Bible says about churches, it never refers to buildings as churches like we do today, but to certain people as comprising the church.  The Greek word εκκλησία η which is usually translated  as “church” in the New Testament, gives us the picture of people who have responded to God’s call.  The community of believers are known collectively as the “universal church”.
There is another way church is referred to in the Bible.  The bible also refers to local gatherings of believers as specific churches.  1 Cor 1:2 says, “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy…”   In Gal 1:2, it says, “To the churches in Galatia…” In Phil 1:1 it addresses “the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons…”
So, you can see that although universally, the church comprises all believers of Jesus Christ, we also recognize the need for local community churches.  We will explore these in more depth throughout this week. 
I wonder if the Church of Stop Shopping is in a mall?

Greek Translation

εκκλησία η = the Church a group called out
ekklisia i



What is the Bible – Really? [Lesson 8.3]

30 Jul

What is the story in the Bible? When you boil it all down, what does the Bible really tell us? Is it full of rules and regulations? Does it tell us how to be good so we can go to heaven? Is it just a historical document?

Think. What the Bible tells us is that it’s all about His persistent desire for a relationship with us. Most religions tell us what to so we can get closer to god. The Bible tells us all about God’s desire to be close to us. He wants a relationship with us. We spend our life hiding from Him but He still pursues us. Think. What was the first thing Adam did after he sinned? He hid from God. The relationship was broken. God is passionate about man. He loves us so much that He humbled Himself and died for us. He wants a relationship with us and so he provided a document – a love letter that tells us how much we are loved. He provides examples of other men who hid from him. Some eventually came out of hiding and confessed their sin and pursued a relationship with God. Others continued to hide. Some were saved, some were lost. Jesus’ desire for us has always been life.

Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, and to have it more abundantly.” No one knows how to live life like Jesus.

We have a Bible, Gods Word, that tells us how we can come out of hiding and enjoy the abundant life with Jesus. It’s right there. Don’t believe me? Read Romans!

 Bible References

John 10:10


The Roman Road to Salvation

1. We are all sinners.
Romans 3:23  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

2. The punishment for sin is an eternal death. But the gift of God is eternal life.
Romans 6:23a “For the wages of sin is death;”

3. God sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins.
Romans 3:23b “…But the gift of God is eternal life.”
Romans 5:8,  “God demonstrates His own love for us, in
that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us!”

4. Ask God to forgive you and save you.
Romans 10:9 “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord,
and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead,
you will be saved.”

Romans 10:13  “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord  will be saved!”

5. Accept His gift of salvation.
Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything
else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ
Jesus our Lord.”

Too Busy To Write [Lesson 8.2]

28 Jul

For the second week in a row, I have struggled to find time to do my lesson. This morning was a great example. I was studying my lesson and had some great thoughts that I wanted to share with you. Then I had to stop for a meeting. Once the meeting was over, I was too busy with work to go back to my lesson. It is now after midnight and I just remembered that I didn’t write anything down.

I am glad that the authors of the Bible weren’t too busy to write down what God inspired them to write. Could you imagine what a mish-mash of thoughts and ideas we would be left with if they didn’t take the time to write it down? Can you imagine the “fish stories” that would have come out of the Bible if they relied on their memories? (I can hear it now – “No really, the fish swallowed him whole. He built a fire and camped out for 40 days and 40 nights until the flood ended and then he swam to an island where Ginger and Maryanne were.”) We know that the oral traditions of man, those stories which are passed from one generation to the next, may change greatly as they are handed down. Clearly, it wouldn’t have been the best method for God to “reveal” what He wanted us to know what He expects of us.

The Bible is filled with references from the writers that it was God inspired. In Exodus 17:14, it says,”Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Josua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” God not only told Moses to write it but also made sure he knew that others needed to hear it. I am sure glad Moses obeyed. I’m glad Moses took the time to write down what God told him. Without his writing it, I wouldn’t have anything to write about tonight.

That is why I had to write it down before I went to bed. I didn’t want to forget.


Bible Trivia [Lesson 8.1]

25 Jul

Our lesson this week is on God’s Word. As we begin our study, here are a few fun facts from Bibleinfo.com


Bible: Facts and Trivia

The Bible is actually a library of 66 books, written by 44 authors over a period of about 1500 years. The 39 books of the Old Testament were composed between 1400 and 400 B.C., the 27 books of the New Testament between A.D. 50 and 100. The 39 books of the Old Testament were composed between 1400 and 400 B.C., the 27 books of the New Testament between A.D. 50 and 100.

The Bible was divided into chapters by Stephen Langton about A.D. 1228. The Old Testament was divided into verses by R. Nathan in A.D. 1448 and the New Testament by Robert Stephanus in A.D. 1551. The entire Bible divided into chapters and verses first appeared in the Geneva Bible of 1560.

Here are some interesting tidbits of facts and trivia specifically in regards to the King James Version of the Bible.

Books of the Bible:

  • Books of the Bible: 66
  • Books in Old Testament: 39
  • Books in New Testament: 27
  • Middle book of Old Testament: Proverbs
  • Middle book of New Testament: 2 Thessalonians


  • Old Testament: 23,214 verses
  • New Testament: 7,959 verses
  • Middle verse of the Bible: Psalms 118:8
  • Middle verse of the Old Testament: 2 Chronicles 20:17
  • Middle verse of the New Testament: Acts 17:17
  • Shortest verse of the Old Testament: 1 Chronicles 1:25
  • Shortest verse of the New Testament: “Jesus wept.” John 11:35
  • Longest verse in the Bible: Esther 8:9
  • Verse containing all letters of the alphabet except J: Ezra 7:21
  • Verse containing all letters of the alphabet except Q: Daniel 4:37
  • Verses most alike: Psalm 107:8,15,21, 31


  • Entire Bible: 1189
  • Old Testament: 929
  • New Testament: 260
  • Middle chapter of Old Testament: Job 29
  • Middle chapter of New Testament: Romans 13
  • Middle and shortest chapter of Bible: Psalms 117
  • Longest chapter in the Bible: Psalm 119
  • Chapters that are most alike: 2 Kings 19 and Isaiah 37


  • In the Old Testament: 592,439 words
  • In the New Testament: 181,253 words
  • Longest word in the Bible (18 letters): Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Isaiah 8:1,3)
  • King with shortest reign: King Zimri (7 days) I Kings 16:15
  • Words occurring only once in the Bible:
    • Eternity (Isaiah 57:15)
    • Grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5)
    • Gnat (Matthew 23:24)

No Trespassing [Lesson 7.3]

21 Jul
tres – pass
1. To commit an offense or a sin; transgress or err.
2. To commit an unlawful injury to the person, property,
or rights of another, with actual or implied force or
violence, especially to enter onto another’s land wrongfully.
3. To infringe on the privacy, time, or attention of another.
1. Transgression of a moral or social law, code, or duty.
2. The act of trespassing.
3. A suit brought for trespassing.
4. An intrusion or infringement on another.

We’ve all seen the signs –
Most people would heed the sign and stay off of the property. I always think of The Lords Prayer, when I hear the word trespass. I learned the prayer with the word “trespass” instead of “debts” or “sins” –
“…And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
What does trespass really mean in our discussion of the nature of sin?  Just like the signs that people post to keep others outside of their property boundaries, God has set up certain moral boundaries for us that we know as laws. When a person trespasses, or crosses over these boundary lines, he sins – he ignores God’s law. Lawlessness is sin and we know the consequences of sin. But, unlike the NO TRESPASSING sign above, God’s sign says something like:
God knows that we will sin. He sent His son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our trespass. All we need to do is repent of our sin and accept His gift of salvation.

Man’s Need for Government [Lesson 7.2]

19 Jul

Because of sin, we see evidence throughout the Bible of the need for government in society. I will be the first to admit that I don’t like over-reaching governments. I don’t like to pay taxes. I think that too many people have become too dependent on government instead of God. I have all sorts of problems with human forms of Government.

Many people dream of a place called Utopia. This is an idealistic place where perfect justice and social harmony exist. Everyone minds his own business, gladly contributes to the welfare of the rest, and enjoys the good things of life to the fullest. If you are honest with yourself, you know that a utopian society can not exist on earth. Human beings are sinners. They are selfish, prideful and rebellious by nature. No one is immune from this. Communism and Socialism are examples of failed attempts to create these types of societies. There is always someone who will grab more power or control for himself. Then others will follow until you have a corrupt society.

I am still amazed at the brilliance of our founding fathers. The government they set up is as fair as you could get. Even after 200 years, the original government structure is still in place. We see indications that it could start falling apart. Through human sin, we see corruption at all levels of our government. It isn’t perfect is it?

When Jesus comes again to rule on earth, it will be much different. You can read it in Revelation 21 and 22. Here is my translation. The earth will completely be healed. The old heaven and earth are gone and there will be a new heaven and earth. A new city of Jerusalem will come out of heaven and settle on the earth. It will be a glorious city. God will make His home there. There will be no need for a sun as God’s glory will light up the earth. The walls will shine like gems. The streets will be gold. A pure river with the water of life will flow down the middle of the main street. There will be a tree of life on each side. Each tree will bear 12 different fruits that will always be replenished. There will be no more death or sorrow. No crying, no pain. No hunger and no thirst. Nothing will be cursed. There will be no night. No evil will be allowed in the city.

Sounds like a wonderful place right? Want to know how to get there? Recognize that you are a sinner. Ask for forgiveness and tell Jesus that you accept His gift of salvation. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you the rest of your life.

God said that only those who are victorious will inherit all these blessings. Don’t be left outside the walls.

The Reality of Sin [Lesson 7.1]

18 Jul

Sin may be defined as disobedience and failure to conform to the laws God has given for the direction of His rational creatures.

We know that sin exists. Sin is one of the main topics of the Bible. We see the first indication of sin when Satan rebelled against God. Other angels joined in the rebellion and were forever cast out of heaven.

Next, we see sin in Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. Then Cain and Able fell under the power of sin. Adam and Eve’s sin and the sin of Cain were because they disobeyed God.

Later, God talked to Charlton Heston, I mean Moses, and gave him the Ten Commandments. God came down to this earth in the form of a burning bush to give His law to His people so that there wouldn’t be any doubt as to what they should or should not do. This is how important God takes sin.

The historical books, Joshua through Esther, record the tragic failure of God’s people to obey His commandments. They reveal the backsliding, disobedience, stubbornness, and rebellion of Israel toward God and His laws.

The Bible continues to give example after example of man rebelling against God. King David, Judas Iscariot, Peter, Paul. We also learn that just thinking about doing the sin is sin itself. On adultery, Jesus said in Mathew 5:28, But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

We also know the result of sin. With the angels, we learned that the ones who rebelled against God were permanently cast out of heaven. Romans 6:23 tell us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

That takes us back to the one decision everyone has to make at least once in their lives. You have to make the decision to accept God’s gift of salvation through Jesus’ death on the cross or you can reject it.  Not deciding is the same as rejecting. There is no other choice. Only salvation through Jesus death will save you from a certain death.

Which do you choose?

Good Will Hunting [Lesson 6.5]

15 Jul

Take one look at me and you know that I don’t have any will power! I love food. Let me restate that – I really love food. Without over-analyzing the situation, I realize that this is one temptation that I just can’t overcome on my own.

I used to have another bad habit. For about 25 years, I smoked at least a pack of cigarettes a day. I’m not proud of that but I tell you to illustrate a point. I used to think that I didn’t have any will power to stop smoking either. Every time I would try to quit on my own, I would start right back up again. I used to joke that I quite 100 times, I just started 101 times. One day a few years ago, I thought I was having a heart attack. It wasn’t anything but it was enough to think that I might want to be around longer for my kids. I knew that I was powerless over cigarettes and I needed God’s help. I prayed that night and asked God to give me the strength to resist the temptations that were going to come my way when I tried to quit smoking. The next day, I woke up and I didn’t have any cravings. I just kept waiting for that overwhelming urge to smoke. Day after day I waited. Anytime I thought about having a smoke, the thought passed quickly. I was conscious that God was strengthening my will to resist. I could choose to smoke or not to smoke. God wasn’t preventing me from smoking, He just made it easier for me to choose the right action. It has been a few years now since I quit smoking and I don’t even have a memory of what it was like to moke. God not only strengthened my will to resist temptation, he has now even removed any memory of what it was like to smoke. Praise God!

Yesterday I talked about our conscience and how it is our built-in monitor that lets us know what is right and wrong. We have another attribute that is connected to our conscience. God gave us a will. The will is our faculty of choosing or deciding between possible courses of action. We can freely choose to do anything that is consistent with our nature. When man was created God gave him the power of choice: to sin or not to sin.

We also have the power to accept God or reject God. We can accept Christ as Savior or reject Him. He doesn’t force us to do so. By an act of will, we can accept the offer and become a child of God; or we can reject His offer and remain under His judgment. In this process, both the will of man and the will of God are involved.

In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, “Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends.” You have to act on that knock. You can either get up and open the door or you can leave Him standing out in the cold. It’s up to you. You have free will.

The Devil Made Me Do It! [Lesson 6.4]

14 Jul

I used to like to watch the Flip Wilson Show. For those of you who are wondering who Flip Wilson was, he was a popular comedian in the 70’s. He had a comedy skit show on TV in which he played a number of different characters, like the Reverend Leroy (pastor of “The Church of What’s Happenin’ Now“). Another popular character was Geraldine Jones! Flip based this character on an old girlfriend and transformed himself into Geraldine by donning a dress, some strategically placed padding and working his voice into a falsetto which still sounded a bit husky for a female. But the audiences would go crazy for Geraldine and her famous line.

“The devil made me do it,” was the cry.

And the audience would howl it’s approval. After all, what a great excuse! It’s not my fault. I had to do it. The devil made me do it.

God made man with a conscience. The conscience monitors (warns of or instructs about) the rightness or wrongness of attitudes that are taking shape or of actions that we are about to carry out. I have seen it in my children first hand. I watch as they do something even though they know that it is wrong. They are always trying to test my limits. Their conscience tells them that they are about to do wrong but they lack the discipline not to do it.

The Holy Spirit is our helper in these situations. As Christians, we can lean on the power of the Holy Spirit to resist temptation and follow rightness. In fact, we can say that our conscience speaks to us under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Our conscience can also become corrupt. Before his conversion, Paul was very conscientious in his wrong conduct. He thought he was doing the right thing. He had adopted a wrong interpretation of the Old Testament and his conscience witnessed on the basis of that interpretation, and it led him astray. That is why later, after his conversion, when he was accused, he said in Acts 24:16, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

We need to always be on guard that our conscience does not become corrupt. If we strive like Paul to always keep our conscience clear before God and man, then the Holy Spirit can and will influence our conscience to guide us toward rightness.

Let your cry be, “The Holy Spirit made me do it!”

And the deacons said “Amen!” Thank you Reverand Leroy!