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Posts Tagged ‘simple church’

Sunset on the Savannah

Check out part three here!

Love, Cindy

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As I sat quietly, hoping to hear something from God, a picture of a wild rose opened wide with the pollen exposed came into my mind. This is what I believe I heard:

As the blossom clothes and glorifies and helps to identify the rose bush, so I have clothed you with beauty, My saints. The rose bush without the blossom remains a rose bush. It does not become more or less a rose bush because it bears or does not bear blossoms, but beauty and fruitfulness (which is produced by beauty) are the whole point of a rose bush. Oh yes, the bush is delicate and lacy and lovely on its own. Its leaves are unsurpassed for intricacy of design and even its thorns are a treat to behold. Yet without bright blossoms, who notices a rose bush amongst the aspens? Only those seeking it. But everyone sees the blossoms.

Therefore, whoever seeks the rose bush will find it, but even he who does not seek will notice the bright pink roses. There is a time for blossoms and a time for buds. There is a time for root and branch to grow, and for the bursting forth of new leaves.

A new, small rose bush may have a few blossoms in its first year, but its strength must be reserved for growing. Unless conditions are harsh and the bush senses it will die soon. Then it must mature quickly and produce fruit if it can, with seed.

But if the bush will live, it is best for it to grown and allow blossoms to come forth as they come.

The blossoms that clothe the bush are the righteous deeds of the saints–they are the fine, snowy linen worn by My bride, the beauty of the flowers that attracts insects and bees and birds–all of which feed on the flowers and cause them to produce fruit.

And the fruit is good for eating and for the sowing of new seed. The seed is produced by being and by drawing nourishment from the stalk and the root.

Artificial roses can be beautiful, but they do not produce pollen and nectar, nor do they have a fragrance to attract. They may attract some less-discerning with their intense colors, but they have nothing to offer for the hungry. There is no food, no fragrance, no feeding the spirit, and no fruit and no seed.

Cultivated roses are a little better. They have life, of sorts, though it must be supported by all kinds of outside intervention; sprays and pruning and fertilizers and work. Wild roses grow of themselves. All who are around them see, and marvel that such beauty can spring forth in unusual and unexpected places. Wild roses know the seasons and the times; when to bloom and when to fruit. Cultivated roses that survive in uncultivated times do so by going wild. Some can and some can’t. Some survive and some do not, and some are better gone. But the seed–the seed knows its way back to the wild.

All that you need is within you. Do not fail to listen to the voice of My Spirit within you. My seed is in you. Let it lead you back to the forest glen–to the sunlit hollows where the wild roses thrive.

This is a message to the organic church. If it makes no sense to you and you want to understand, please feel free to ask any questions you’d like.

Blessings, Cindy

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Ladybug on Leaf

Frank Viola posted an excellent blog today addressing this question, and you should read it–with all of its accompanying links. However, I’d like to summarize just a bit here, since it’s a long blog, and it may take you a day or two to find a quiet hour to study it. I’d like to note, though, that Franks’ entire article is well worth reading, especially if you haven’t read his books. You’ll get a lot of good information from it.

In our western SD community, the term Organic Church tends to pull up images of “all my friends and my old lady sitting, passing the pipe around” (John Denver; paraphrased slightly). Very funny, not true. We don’t pass the pipe around at all–we’ve never passed a pipe around, nor even discussed the possibility. But we do sit around in front of the fire sometimes, if it’s cold. And we do share our portions of Jesus Christ with one another.

In the “house church movement,” the name Organic Church has been used to refer to any non-traditional gathering of God’s people, whether it fits the original intent of the term or not. Here’s a quote from T. Austin Sparks that more accurately defines the meaning of the term Organic Church:

God’s way and law of fullness is that of organic life. In the Divine order, life produces its own organism, whether it be a vegetable, animal, human or spiritual. This means that everything comes from the inside. Function, order and fruit issue from this law of life within. It was solely on this principle that what we have in the New Testament came into being. Organized Christianity has entirely reversed this order.

And here it is in Frank Viola’s words:

By “organic church,” I mean a non-traditional church that is born out of spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic church life is a grass roots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every-member functioning, open-participatory meetings (opposed to pastor-to-pew services), non-hierarchical leadership, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional Leader and Head of the gathering.

Put another way, organic church life is the “experience” of the Body of Christ. In its purest form, it’s the fellowship of the Triune God brought to earth and experienced by human beings. . . . Organic church is not a theater with a script. It’s a lifestyle-a spontaneous journey with the Lord Jesus and His disciples in close-knit community.

House churches are not all alike. I believe that God does work through all kinds of churches, whether they meet in a “church” building, a living room, a coffee shop, or the break room of a business. That said, simply meeting outside a traditional church setting does not mean that a church is accurately described as “organic.” I really do encourage you to read Frank’s whole article, as he describes this a lot more thoroughly than I have here.

Frank Viola works with a number of brothers and sisters in planting and helping organic churches around the world. Two of his brothers, Milt Rodriguez and Gary Welter, have agreed to come here to Rapid City, SD to help us. To start out, they’ll be doing a conference for us on the last weekend of February. I know, I know–that does sound a little institutionalized, but I can explain . . . really! This event has a number of purposes: to draw people together in our area so we can get to know one another and perhaps learn of others nearby who also want to meet in an organic way; to give us all some new insights into the ways God (the Father, Son, Spirit) IS community, and how He wants us to be community not only with one another, but also with Him; and to pave the way for possible future help from these brothers, who are a treasure trove of practical experience in living organic church.

If you live in the “five state region,” (you know who you are 😉 ), or even if you don’t but would like to learn more about how to learn to meet and live life together in an organic way, you’re welcome to join us, whether for the conference or for one of our regular/irregular meetings. We’d love to have you come and to have the opportunity to get to know you.

Love Always, Cindy

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My highly gifted daughter, Cheri, made this poster for our upcoming Organic Church Conference. I’ll say more about this later, but I wanted to get the news out. To learn more and/or to register, you can click this link.

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9/16/09: This word has some history. I’m reading a book right now that, while I’m sure it has a lot of good stuff in it, is a bit discouraging at the start. The book asserts that no one can do organic church without a trainer and/or personal experience. Since that’s exactly what we’re doing, you may understand that I found this discouraging. There is, so far as I know, no help available for a small group of believers in a small town, so what are we supposed to do?

Anyway, I was trying to meditate on John 4, which is what the church is reading just now, but God knew what I truly needed to hear. As always, eat the grain; throw out the stubble (that part–the stubble–is the bits of me I failed to see and toss out).

I AM, and the things I do, I do in My own way. You no longer have that endless expanse of years stretching out before you. Behold; I do a new work and all who see will marvel. Can a nation be born in a day? And yet it (Israel) is. Let this be a sign to you. Can a church spontaneously spring up of its own volition? I say to you that I do not require a human agency to bring this about. No one but I can build My church. I will send to you whom I will send, and you do not need or require a human agency to springboard you into effectiveness. My word to you is this: Send your desires into My harvest and I will fulfill them. No other than I Myself will guide you, yet you will walk in My paths.

The time is short, and human agency (or lack of it) must not stand in the way of those who would work in the harvest. I Myself am sufficient to guide you, and I will guide you in My paths. Only see that you do not neglect to walk in those ways I point out to you. I will be waiting there for you and we will go on together. Always it must be so: I call; you come. So we will make our journey. The closer to Me you are willing to come, the better and faster we will go on. Do not hang back, enthralled by the things of interest along the trail, or you will neglect My company. Do not leave My path; do not lose sight of Me, or you will wander in darkness and never bear fruit to life eternal.

Too much of My church will straggle along, never knowing the richness of My company on the journey because they lag back and do not obey My commands to draw near. Like children, I must gather them again and again and urge them on. Do not remain so, but grow up into My mature sons and daughters to whom I can entrust My work–My important jobs–to whom I can say, “Do this,” and know it will be done. Delayed obedience is like smoke in My eyes–an irritant and a painful nuisance. Just do what I say when I say it–not three weeks later. Then we will be walking side by side, arm in arm, and the way will pass so much more sweetly.

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I had a dream a couple of weeks ago. Because it is controversial and a bit harsher than I really feel comfortable with, I’ve hesitated to post it here, but God has been prodding me. Please feel free to give me your impressions on this. Don’t bother giving your purely intellectual ideas. I’ve found that mine are nearly always wrong. Please–if you’d like to offer insight–pray over it and ask God. I’d love to hear what you believe He is saying to you.

In the dream, I saw a red-haired, fairly young woman. I understood her to be my sister (though I have no biological sister). Something bad had happened to her. She was dead, but alive and walking around. Not evil, but just not “there.” Not like a zombie, though. In the flesh, she was healthy looking. I knew that she had been pregnant and that the baby had died with her. I felt that her insides had all been taken out with the baby. She had a twin who was also pregnant. The twin was also emotionally flat, but not dead. I knew that I loved them, but that something was wrong with both of them.

So here is the interpretation, as I believe I heard it:

The women are two versions of My church. One is dead all together and her children are dead. This is not, as it seems, a harmless though powerless shell. The insides are gone (My Spirit), and her appearance is now animated by tradition, but soon by evil. The living woman is just like her dead sister in that all she has and is are leaving her–flowing out of her into a new life. The first twin failed to deliver her child. The second will deliver, but will not nurture her offspring. Everything in her that is alive will go into the child and she will merge with her sister. That which is left behind of the two women is not themselves–the shell, the appearance is still lovely–still alive after the flesh, but the life of My Spirit has gone with the child. Do not mourn the woman. Her life–all she is that is true and good, lives personally and sentiently in the child bride. The old shell, which contains no personality or consciousness of herself, will be used by another, but she is not dead. She is perfected in the child.

Her shell, still lovely, must not be mistaken for My church. She has not yet been completely delivered, but this process is ongoing. Yet, like a birth, it will be completed and the child, placenta and all will be delivered, and it will be done. There will then be nothing in her of Me or of herself. The remnant will be out and the life will have its new home in the child. She–all that is true and lovely and chaste and good, is now the child. She–the child being born of her–is My bride to be. They are one–the refined essence of the mother and the new life of the child–are one.

—-I asked: Why the red hair?—-

To show that she is different–rejected, yet beautiful–and to signify the blood that purchased her.

—-Why two women? Who are they?—-

To show that the “high” church and the protestant church are one. The women are one woman in two parts, just as identical twins arise from a single fertilized egg, the women are two parts of a single person. Nothing has been lost. All is in the child that is of Me.

My church is My body. There are believers yet in the high church, but all governance of that church is given over to men. My Spirit has not ruled there for a very, very long time. The church as it is, is dead. There are a few live people hanging about, but soon it will smell too bad, and they too will leave.

Like the deeds of Jerusalem became worse even than the deeds of her sister, Samaria, the deeds of the protestant “church” will continue to grow colder and more worldly until the true children will have to leave. I will plant them where they are, and they will learn to go in and out and find pasture. They will sink down deep into the soil, becoming one with it. I will raise them up to newness of life and My hand will reap a mighty harvest in that hour. Do not reject days of toil without apparent reward. Soon the day will see the glorious crop brought forth by the Son. Soon the blooms will open to the sky and will produce fruits, luscious and ripe. You will pluck them and put them in a bag and carry them with you into My storehouse. This will happen in the final hour and then night will fall and all who hear My voice will heed the call to come home.

So that’s it. This is a post for the church, and if you are in the church, you probably understand the symbolism here, so I’m not going to explain it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I may not know the answer, but you’re welcome to ask anyway. 😉

Love in Jesus, Cindy

I’d like to add an update to this post. Reading over it, I realize it may look like I’ve got it in for and don’t appreciate the historical church. Granted the institutional church has a lot of problems, but it’s still been used of God to do a lot of His will. It would be a lie to say that God hasn’t used and isn’t still using the institutional church. He obviously is. So why would its members leave something so undeniably good?

Here’s my theory about this. Keep in mind, it’s my theory, not a prophecy or anything, but it makes sense to me. Of course, God is always surprising and it’s quite possible things will play out differently. I see future persecution playing a large part in the demise of the current church structure. To over-simplify things, it seems to me the scenario could be something like this:

What if, as Christianity becomes less and less accepted, prominent churches are forced to compromise in order to keep their doors open? As government censorship and regulations become too oppressive and dictatorial, they’ll have to choose: either close or compromise. If they close, the God-fearing among their membership will go underground and the false brethren will either join a compromising church or leave the church all together. If they compromise, eventually they will compromise too much and the God-fearing among the membership will go underground and the false brethren will either stay or leave the church all together.

If this happens, the only thing that will be left will be the lifeless shell of what was once a church. The people of God will all have left the building and it will be occupied by false brethren who still consider themselves to be the church. What will be left would most likely be used by the enemy to further his object of persecuting the church and deceiving the nations.

So that’s my idea of how the dream I’ve shared could play out. Again, it’s my take and nothing more, but it sure seems to me it could happen that way. Let me know what you think.

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Debs has gotten quite a lot of response to her simple question (below).

Simple question….

Posted by: Debs on: July 22, 2009

Do you believe the church is intended for the believer or non-believer…and why? Think about it, it’s not as simple as you may think…. 😉

I had already responded once, giving an answer that wasn’t precisely what she was asking. The church is for Jesus. But as to my thoughts on the question she was really addressing, they’re too long for a polite response on anyone else’s blog, so I’m posting them here.

Hi, Debs

I’ve been reading through the dialogue on your post, and I think I know what you’re saying, but maybe not. What is a church “service?” What does that mean? For me, a year ago, that meant sitting through some horrible music and listing to a good sermon, smiling at a few people, shaking hands, then heading out for breakfast.

We no longer do “services.” Soon I’ll get the house tidied up. The church will meet here this afternoon. We’ll play with the kids, have a meal, spend some time worshiping, discussing, praying, prophesying, etc.–whatever the Holy Spirit leads us to do. Counting everything, it will go on for five hours or so.

Tomorrow morning, two of us will visit a lady who can’t join us on Sundays, do a bible study with her, then another two will visit a lady whose husband is antagonistic to the gospel, provide some moral support, pray, do some more bible study, have a snack. In the evening, some more ladies will be getting together for a study on Esther. That’s church, too.

To the traditional church environment, no matter how good the show, I would not bring an unbeliever even if I could find one willing to go (which is not easy). No one would notice she was there; if I introduced her, people would politely welcome her, nothing like true friendship; she would not understand the language nor the concepts taught in that strange language, and would feel uncomfortable (as indeed I do, too).

To the simple church environment, I would willingly bring an unbeliever, and I would not worry about the music or the pastor’s sermon or about whether she would feel intimately welcomed. No problem. The music is just us singing together; there is no sermon; and no person of reasonable good will could ever feel unwelcome.

To the visiting environment, I would be even more comfortable bringing an unbeliever. It seems that the smaller the group, the less threatening and the more appropriate it can be for friendship and eventual discipleship. In that way, I would say that yes, the church is an appropriate place to bring unbelievers. It all depends on what “church” means and is.

What I’m looking for right now, however, is the man/woman/family of peace. Someone receptive to Jesus, someone who knows people and has a circle of influence, and is open to bringing those friends/family together to explore spiritual things. That may happen at table 10 in a cafe, or in a crowded apartment, or even under a bridge at the city park. This is what I see Jesus doing in the gospels–bringing the good news to the world, rather than the world to the sanctuary of the four walls.

I don’t know about GB, but in the US, bringing people to the church in the four walls is not an attractive option to said people. They feel they’re “in the cross-hairs,” rather than being sought out for friendship. Our traditional churches try all sorts of things to get people to come. The youth pastor of our old church gave out prizes–expensive prizes–to the lucky winners of the evening’s drawing. He got a lot of kids, but only as long as he continued offering the prizes, etc. The thought of Jesus saying to the crowd after the feeding of the 5,000, “You seek me because you ate of the loaves and were filled” comes to mind.

Other churches try to invoke a pub/coffee shop/entertainment type of environment, tasteful decor, spectacular music, stellar sermons complete with special effects. They train greeters, offer targeted ministries for every conceivable special needs group, and even have great coffee. Yes, they’re trying very, very hard to appeal to unbelievers, and yet the church as a whole is shrinking in the US almost as fast as it is growing in China, where becoming a believer can get you beaten, thrown in jail, and even executed (unofficially–but still . . . ).

People in the US are leaving the traditional church in record numbers. Many are leaving because they’ve never been a part of us, and many more are leaving because they’ve lost their faith. But there’s a third group–people who are leaving because they wish to preserve their faith. Some of these people end up “doing church” at home, with their own families, and some of them band together in groups like the one coming to our house this afternoon. God is doing a new thing (well, maybe not so new–maybe God is bringing back a very old thing–a foundational thing). We need more of the next stage, where the church spills completely out of the building and into the world, and I believe that is coming, too.

The church is for Jesus. The church is for a display of God’s Son to the spiritual forces of wickedness at work in the world. The church is for the training up of the saints to the work of service to Jesus, to one another and (this is where unbelievers come in) to the world. The church is to be the city set on a hill; not the lamp hidden under a basket (or inside a special building). In order to give light to the world, we need to go out into the world. Inviting the world to come in and enjoy our light is fine, but isn’t it even better to go out into the highways and gathering places of the world and shine there?

Grace and Peace, Cindy

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