Architekton—Home Church Notes
Excerpts (unrefined, unfinished) from an upcoming book, and series of Email teachings… This represents approximately 1 or 2% of the topics that will be addressed, ultimately. This has been done for the sake of, and at the request of those scattered in 100,000 different locales desiring to express Jesus organically in a Body of Believers, “joined and knit together by every supporting ligament,” “contending as One man for the Faith.” Many find themselves tripped up and frustrated by problems in their lives together—problems that might have been avoided by using better “Building” Principles earlier on. As Paul was to say, “Now each of you must be very careful how you build upon that Foundation.” It matters how we build. If we build on sand, or with leaven, or foolishness, or fad, or with ego or fear…we will make certain a collapse “when the storms come.” Yet, if we build as Jesus built, look to Him for Truths of Architectural Principles, He WILL build HIS Church. And HIS church (as opposed to a few true believers scattered here and there, or groups that are not truly churches) will be distinguished from those built on wishful thinking or violated Truths. HIS will stand.
Don’t Shop ‘Til You Drop—Give Yourself Away
Do they know WHY they want to leave where they are, to come to where you are? Are they “shopping for a better ‘church family’”? Oh, groan…
And is it really as Pure as “just wanting God’s Will to be done”? Usually not. Very often there is a mixture of self-centered and shallow motives that need to be purged in order for them to really hear God’s voice as to where they should live. That’s one way you can help them. Don’t let them bail out on where they already live so easily as they may desire.
And to be honest, if they aren’t acting on what they’ve learned where they are at, they will likely be trouble when they move to where you are.
Remember the story of the caterpillar that needs to break free from the cocoon, and the chick that needs to break out of its own egg in order to be strong enough to LIVE once they get out of their “bondage”? These are good “visual aids” to what is absolutely the case in the Spiritual Realm. People must do what they can do in the place where they are, or He will grant them nothing more anywhere else. Jesus promised this would be true on several occasions.
We must “walk as Jesus walked, if we claim to be in Him.” And, Jesus “did nothing in secret.” He made it clear, “daily in the public places” exactly where He was coming from. He “would have gathered them…but they would not.” If we’re living Jesus’ Way, then we won’t just “sneak out the back door of the burning building” and leave everyone else in the dangerous and unBiblical situation that we know to be untenable with God’s Heart and Will and Commands.
We’ll “do nothing in secret,” and deeply desire that all come along. If they “would not” after we have spilt blood and tears for them, then the Kingdom will go to those who will bear its Fruit. To just “sneak out the back door,” or allow anyone to move to where you are that has not spent themselves tirelessly and with great risk, “from house to house with tears,” and giving out written things and encouragements “daily, so that none are hardened and deceived” is inviting trouble later on. Everyone must give themselves to the current relationships that Father has granted them, and fight for their souls and obedience to His Ways, until they are warmly received, or rejected or thrown out. This is God’s Way in most every case, because it is Jesus’ Way.
Oh, how different this is from the “recruiting nickels and noses” that virtually every religious group is so known for! God’s Way is to help His People learn to obey Him, that they may learn to hear Him. (Rom. 12:1-2; Jn. 7-8; Gal. 5; etc.) If we help everyone to respond to His Commands so that they may Hear Him better, then HE can build His Church as He pleases, without us getting our fingers all over it! Hallelujah!
Hey, I know you’re tired, and you’ve taken care of so many folks in the last several months. Many even stayed at your house. I know your husband has taken off days from work and lost pay in order to be with those that have come from other cities and other countries. I know it’s been difficult, and the various personalities and repetitive questions can be challenging. Clearly so. And yet, didn’t Father call us to be “philoxenos”—lovers of strangers? Didn’t Jesus speak much about that cup of water, and brothers in needs of various kinds, and through one of His servants speak of “entertaining angels, without recognizing them as such”? Yes, it can be challenging, whether a street person or a visiting “VIP,” so-called. But what is life all about??!! Sure, we have to protect God’s Family, and ours, from the enraged, or the psycho-prophetic self-proclaimed “gifts to the body,” from those who confuse hippy life for Jesus Life, and from the “Fairy Dust” fakers, and the ecclesia tourists, and the others that aren’t coming to Him, truly. BUT, while discernment is mandatory, if our motives are Right and we are sharing “wisdom in the multitude of counselors” as we Work together to Hear His voice, there is also a time to break through the comfort zones and stretch out our hands. Philoxenos. Lovers of strangers. The “good Samaritan” that Jesus so honored didn’t have all of the answers in advance, either. Give your life away. It’s the Way of the Cross, and the most rewarding way to live that any human could ever imagine. Don’t lose the Opportunity! Who knows if He’ll give you another. No complaining, or you are unworthy of the Assignment.
I Want to Visit!
“I’d like to come to see the Church there, in action!”
“Ummm…to ummm, well…” Maybe to get ideas to take back home?
Please don’t come. Jesus isn’t like that. He can’t be franchised—only loved.
Maybe just to experience “the church”? Leave your Nikon camera and Bermuda shorts at home. (“Oh, look, Marge! Come see the ‘church life’! Over there—look!”) Tourism and “community hopping” is a spectator sport that is encouraged by pretenders and demi-popes and marketers, but if someone, somewhere, something anywhere is for Real—then recommending or allowing anyone to come to look at anyone but Jesus is just one more gimmick and counterfeit. Don’t let anyone sell you that bag of spoiled groceries. That’s not Him.
Perhaps one would want to come to judge, or critique. Or, perhaps it’s all a game to play—a kind of religious chess game that intrigues them and they would like to dissect how the “game” is played where you are. Don’t let them come. No one has the right to slice and dice God’s family in the veg-a-matic of their proud minds.
Do they collapse “at the name of Jesus”? Do they revere Him and His Hand and His Work—or is it something for them? A platform? A curiosity? A fad? A self-serving way to fulfill their loneliness or find a “spouse”? Is it to them, a “home school support group,” or “a child-raising seminar coming to a neighborhood near you”? That is utter nonsense.
No way can one be welcomed with such ulterior or sinful motives. Do they love Him desperately, or sincerely desire to do so at any personal cost? You need to know. And they need to know Jesus can’t be found any of those other places, no matter how many miles they’ve traveled to “see the show,” or how many oceans they’ve swam across in order to visit.
Jesus and His Life can’t be found by external observance, according to the Master Himself. Until we help them get their heart right, they won’t find HIM anywhere—and nothing else matters. We’re NOT helping someone by letting them visit for the wrong reasons. Don’t be sheepish or manipulated or carnally sympathetic in these matters. If they come in through the wrong door, they will end up in the wrong house. Those doors can never lead to a Place where THEY will find Him, even if everyone there is.
Is There a Reason to Live Close Together?
Is there a reason to live close together? Absolutely. Fifteen years into the expression of the church here, and it is beyond dispute that saints living “within an apple core’s throw” or closer to one another has shown infinite value in the growth and work of God’s People in Him.
Many who had lived up to 45 minutes from one of the areas where the Believers are packed in close to one another have eventually desired to move into the “eye of the Storm”—the neighborhood where other Believers express His Life with one another in the streets and homes daily. They will tell in profound terms how this move has changed their lives for Him forever, even in surprising ways that they would never have predicted, far beyond what they could “ask for or imagine.” Others that simply lived two apartment buildings away from where many Saints were living, eventually couldn’t contain themselves, and actually moved their possessions and homes a hundred yards into the apartment buildings where other Believers were living—and will tell you that the difference has been phenomenal for them!
Everyone lives where they live for a reason. What you are “seeking first” is clearly demonstrated by where you choose to live, whether the city or the neighborhood. As a president of a home building company once said, people make their choices about where they live according to the priorities in their lives. Some make the quality of the “school district” their highest priority in why they choose a house and a neighborhood. What are they “seeking first” in their lives? The Kingdom? Clearly not. There is another “god” that has influenced their decision more than Jesus and His Kingdom.
“Seek first His Kingdom, and His Righteousness.” Jesus didn’t say, as obvious as it would have seemed to us to do so, “Seek first the KING!” Surely a King-dom that is not focused upon, and deeply in love with, the KING is not part of His Kingdom at all, but simply religion. And yet, Jesus was very clear as to what He would have us seek first: the expression of His Reign in His People. So, why does any person live where they do? Because of what they are “seeking first.” It is quite the revealer of what’s in a person’s heart.
Some, the home building executive said, choose to live where they live because it is close to their workplace, or have moved to the city because of a job transfer. What is such a person seeking first? If that is why they moved to that place, they are not seeking first the Kingdom.
Some, he said, move to a particular place because of living close to biological family members, or because of “standard of living” homes and neighborhoods, or because of climate or access to parks or sports. Surely it is not difficult to understand that “idolatry” (idol worship) is not any more complicated than this: allowing anything to influence our decision-making other than “seeking first the King and His Kingdom”! Some people worship, then, the false god of genetic family who are often pagan or lukewarm at best. Some worship the false god of materialism and desire to live in a certain quality of home or neighborhood for their own worldly motives, often rationalized by “noble”-sounding justification. Some, then, worship demons (idol worship, idolatry). Let’s not soft sell anything! Without even knowing it in most cases, it IS idolatry, and thus demon worship, to allow anything to be the true primary decision-influencing factor—other than “seeking first the expression of His Reign in His People.”
Now, that is not to say that everyone ought to move to some particular place or another where other believers are living. (If those believers are truly led by the Spirit, rather than their own egos or ambition, or naïveté, they wouldn’t let you move there anyway—before you have done your job faithfully where you already live!) However, you surely had better assess honestly WHY you live where you do, or are wanting to move where you desire to move. Anything less than “seeking FIRST His KINGDOM, His visible Reign in His visible Body” will be revealed by fire as the work is shown to be wood, hay, and stubble, and is burnt up in judgment.
Of course there will be times that the King would have someone in an odd situation, by His Choice. In such a case, it would not be “seeking first the Kingdom” to move somewhere where Jesus is expressing Himself in His Rule and Life in a true Lampstand. It would be disobedience to move somewhere other than where He wants you to be. But, more often than not, excuses and selfishness and fear and worldliness and idolatry or money or laziness or lack of fire in the heart for Jesus and His Purposes are the real reasons a person chooses to live somewhere. That’s no good! Let’s turn that around, okay?
Life is too short to squander, wouldn’t you say?!
Pop the Bubble!
When you’re speaking to someone, even someone you don’t know well, don’t be afraid to “pop the bubble.” SO much harm has been done when one of the Saints has had an “inkling” of an idea that there is a problem in some area or another with a person they were speaking with or near, but was afraid to ask about it.
Perhaps the procrastination or refusal to speak up or ask about the perceived problem was due to a false humility. “Who am I, anyway?” Maybe it was under the guise of, “If it was really an issue, someone else would have asked or said something already.” Or, “I’m probably just imagining it anyway, and it’s just my problem.” But truthfully, if you don’t understand yourself to be a Priest of the Most High God, and an Ambassador, “as if God were making His appeal through you,” then you’re not likely to be of much use to Him, you know? You have to see yourself as one who can be entrusted with the very riches of God, and His deepest secrets, and most important tasks in changing lives! You know the Scriptures for each of these things, but do you believe it and act like it’s true?!
Be willing to “pop the bubble” of comfort and expectation and protocol! Don’t be rude, or arrogant. Do be gentle as best you can be, and humiliating someone is never the objective, of course. But Simon the sorcerer, Jannes and Jambres, Elymas Bar-Jesus, Alexander the metalworker, Ananias and Sapphira, the Pharisees and many others discovered that Jesus isn’t always socially and politically “correct” either.
Be willing to “pop the bubble” if you wish to hear and serve Jesus and be a “prophetic people.” The alternative—a “pathetic people”—isn’t very attractive. And that’s what satan would make of God’s People that are afraid to Represent.
“Be thou strong and courageous”—but gentle and wise at the same time. Don’t worry, the One who invented that idea lives inside of you, if you’re His.
And, functioning in the Body of Christ, you’ll get the feedback, safeguards, wisdom, correction, encouragement, and ‘equipping for Works’ of service that you need to grow and serve Him well. That’s part of the Plan too. The Treasure in earthen vessels.
What about that “singles’ household”? Great idea, huh? NOT!
“God sets the lonely in families.”
God never intended a “sub-class” of those that are unmarried! “Neither Jew, nor Greek”—but “single” is okay? No way. We’ve seen it in city after city and many countries where we have been with Believers. It is inexcusable and destructive to unmarried adults, young or old, to be separated from the other Saints, functionally. We must not selfishly “focus on the family,” instead of “focus on the FAMILY” as GOD defines “Family,” by the second birth!
Picture this: The Church in a city has four Believers of Chinese origin, four black Kenyan’s, and three Thai Believers. What would you think of the wretched blindness of anyone who would encourage the four from China to live together in a house or apartment, and hang around together…and the four blacks to be roommates and closer to one another than to any other…and the three from Thailand to be roommates and be with each other most of the time? Can you think of anything more pathetic? To recommend such a thing, or allow such a thing to emerge without resolving it somehow would be disgusting, wouldn’t it?!
Do we really need to apply the point?! Why should a person who has remained unmarried for Jesus be segregated or receive prejudice in any way? (By the way, anyone can get married if they are willing to compromise Jesus and yoke to one that is unfit in Christ to yoke to. Therefore, any true Disciple that is unmarried has done so as a Gift to Jesus.)
There are few things more ugly than the blindness of those that would allow those unmarried to be “left out” or lumped together in some automatic fashion in a “singles’ household.” Those that have died to self for Jesus are to receive “a hundred mothers and brothers and sisters, lands and possessions.” To permit the unmarried, or the Thais, anything less than all-inclusive, fully-enabled and privileged Life—relationally, financially, and in every other way—is disobedient and short-sighted on our parts! We must care for all as we would for “our own” (the pagans’ perspective of “family”), because Jesus DID make us One! “There is no difference then…!”
Practically speaking, does that mean that unmarrieds should never live together? No, it doesn’t mean that. But FAR better that we would seek other solutions, regardless of the alleged personal cost to those that have married. Know what I mean? And, the so-called cost is actually a privilege with rich blessings and gifts hidden in the package!
Frankly, we have seen at times in other cities something which seems almost unbelievable, but is true. Sometimes “singles” want to be independent and unaccountable and “footloose and fancy-free.” They don’t want to talk about what they’re doing, who they’re close to, what is happening on their job, why they go where they go, or work where they work. Perhaps they’ve been trained to be unChristian in this way by the religious system’s flawed life, and would change if given the chance. Or perhaps those that don’t want others’ involvement in their goings and comings and life in general…are not Christians at all, in some cases. Jesus and Paul did both say that “loving the Light” and “loving the Truth” are essential as evidence of Salvation. If a person doesn’t WANT involvement in their lives, whether married or unmarried, there is something seriously wrong with them, and any relationship with Jesus is Biblically seriously in question. That’s just simply what God said about it, and since this is virtually never acknowledged or dealt with in institutional religion (whether in the home or a religious facility), it is worth bringing up. God speaks of it often, and we’re obligated to say what HE says about it, I would think.
So, back to the point? If unmarried Believers have some significantly different lifestyle than those that are married, there is a problem that must be resolved in order to find Jesus and His Best. If an unmarried person’s evening and weekend level of involvement with children and opportunities are different than those that are married, there is a serious problem and loss that must be resolved. Somehow you are Building improperly if Jesus and Paul and Timothy would be left out of anything where you live, simply because they are unmarried…YUCK! Shame on your world if it shows this sort of prejudice—based on color, age, education, or marital status!
GOD sets the lonely in Family! Let’s go there, where God can be found! And, we’re not talking theory. It CAN be done!
“We now see NO man after the flesh, though we once saw even Jesus this way.”
Sometimes Don’t Live So Close
Sometimes, it is NOT appropriate to live super close to each other. Can you believe it? It’s true, in certain situations. If a person is still untested and all you have of them is their words, but no proven willingness to walk the way of the Cross and endure skandalon, they should not be allowed to live next door or across the hall.
If a person or family or one of the spouses are not truly known under the pressure of the storms that Jesus said would come, it is far better to suggest they live a block or two away (which is generally far closer than they’ve ever lived to God’s People before, and they don’t likely see the real benefit of being closer than that anyway). Even a mile or two away is okay, in a case like that. Renting an apartment or flat or home is far, far better than purchasing, and this should be made very clear to the new person or family before they come, if they must come.
As time passes, if the newcomers demonstrate by their lives (not their words) that they are truly sincere followers of Jesus, willing to leave “father, mother, brother, sister, lands and possessions” for Him, and to endure the skandal of “walking in the Light”—then living next door might make sense and be far superior to being a block or mile away. But don’t make the mistake of inviting an untested person to live next door to the Saints! You may regret that for years to come.
The grief of dealing with smooth talkers, but those that turn out, in Light, to be haters of the Cross, is no fun at all. And to be constantly running into them, even in your own driveway and when your children are playing outdoors, is grief that no one should have to bear. Much pain and confusion and many energy leaks can be avoided entirely by simply avoiding foolish Building Practices or premature invitations into close proximity.
“THIS is HOW all men will know you are MY disciples—by the Love that they observe you are having for one another in daily Life.” Unless men can SEE you loving on each other as you rise up, and sit down, and walk along the way with your brothers and sisters, they will be robbed by our poor decisions and selfish decisions of how we spend our time and where we live. This is not “one way”—but HOW!
One story amongst a thousand: A driver of a snowplow truck, an unBeliever, stopped me on the street a few nights ago. I was returning from walking some sisters to their homes, up the street a few houses, one winter night. A snowplow came roaring up to me, swung around, and the driver’s-side window rolled down. The snowplow driver then said, “I just want to let someone know that I really look forward to plowing snow over here. This seems like the perfect neighborhood. Everyone really seems to know each other and take care of each other, just plowing snow over here encourages me.” I asked where he lived, told him that Jesus was the reason for what he was seeing, and told him to come back when he had more time to talk, and that we’d keep a house in the neighborhood reserved for him and his family. : ) He was quite gracious and focused as we spoke. “This is how all men will know!”
Barbeques, taking each other’s trash out, mowing the lawns, repairs, help with children, ride sharing, grocery shopping together (going to the market together), passing a football (“grid iron” ball, for you Aussies!) or playing basketball with the children, parades of folks heading from house to house in the evenings, bearing food, love, and gifts of the Holy Spirit—all of these things are far more obvious and observable than you know! How much love do the unBelievers see you having for one another on Sunday morning in a religious facility (or weekly/weakly living room meeting) during a ritual? Just about zilch! What will we do about the Master’s Words? “THIS is HOW all men will know that you are of Me—by their observation of y’all loving on each other in the course of living life!”
How about this: What about two families sharing the same house or apartment indefinitely? As cozy and spiritual as it may sound, it is very rare that that would be a good idea. We realize that you may not understand “why not” at this point. It just sounds like fun, and so “christian,” doesn’t it? Nevertheless, two “heads” in one home, when there are two families living under one roof, is an unsustainable situation. I’m not suggesting that mature followers of Jesus would be prone to sins of selfishness and pride and materialism and therefore would have a difficult time “getting along.” I AM saying that fundamentally and principally speaking, it will create dilemmas that are unnecessary and problematic. It is simply bad Building, and it would be very rare that this bad Building would not result in spiritual problems that could have been avoided. At the cinema, anything with two heads…is a monster.
Certainly, there will be times where “bunking up” in the midst of tragedy or transition is necessary and proper. However, it should be clear that the stay is to be considered short-term, and that one family is the “guest” of the other family. These two factors (even if the stay ends up being a little longer than anticipated for whatever reason) will keep the spiritual contradiction and problem (of “two heads” in the household)—at bay. As on any team, if everyone knows their role, it is helpful. And, since we must not be “unaware of satan’s devices” it is best to avoid co-ownership and co-occupancy issues, which can become unnecessary stumbling blocks or distractions. Let’s reserve our energy for what we really ARE supposed to be doing with our lives and relationships!
We Used to Be Like That…and Other Deceptions
If you ever hear someone say anything like these statements, rest assured they have NO idea what a church is, or what they are speaking of.
“Hey, we used to be like that back when we were small and could all fit in a living room, too”—or,
“That’s fine now, but when there are 30 of you (or 50, or 120, or 250, or _____), THEN you’ll have to institutionalize… Ummm, I mean…‘organize’ (Ummm…maybe you mean ‘fossilize’?)…like us.”
Or, “Participation and deep relationships are only possible in small, intimate settings.” (How many did Freud say was the maximum for group therapy? Wasn’t it Freud who said “Split into more ‘house churches’ once you have more than thirty?”)
Seems to me that God had a different paradigm in Mind when He added 3000 in a single day with never the slightest hint of “breaking them up into small groups,” or “assigning” anyone to anyone, or to any small “group” or “house church”! Intimacy is essential and anything less is rebellion and unBiblical—but why are humans SO intent on birthing Ishmael, instead of Isaac, by getting their “bright ideas” smeared into God’s Ways?!
It IS possible to have all of the Benefits of intimate Life with Jesus and one another, daily “joined and knit together by every supporting ligament”—without a single program or rule or code or “mission statement” or assignment or officials or automatic anything. Just like it was with Jesus when He was here the first time! Why would we accept anything less?!!!
A true Lampstand is a very Holy thing, and not an intellectual trifle or casual club: “I can start one of them things—no problem!” That is a serious abuse and Jesus is very jealous for what dares to call itself His Bride. The clubs need quotations like those above in order to explain their failures and “fading Glory.” But it was never intended to be so. Not the Real thing.