He’s standing in the self-check-out line at Walmart plugging pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters from his children’s piggy banks into the cash register just to buy a few groceries. He has no job and has not been able to get one, but he doesn’t qualify for government programs and would not, on principle, take that support even if it were available. Where is the church?

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In Numbers 22 – 24, the children of Israel, beginning to grow under the blessing of God, were being perceived as a threat to the surrounding nations. So Balak, king of Moab, sent for Balaam (the son of Beor, the soothsayer [Joshua 13:22], so soothsaying, the practice of blessing or cursing another in exchange for payment, may have been presumptively the family trade?) to curse Israel and, thus, eliminate Israel’s threat to Moab. Balak knew that Balaam had a connection with God and, with it, the power to effectively bless or curse anyone. So Balaam told the Moabite princes that he would do whatever God told him to do concerning Israel.

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When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they went and hid. They made themselves coverings of fig leaves to hide their nakedness. The habit continues today – people covering their weaknesses, their failures, their shortfalls, their embarrassments, their insecurities with fig leaves.

A church needs a leader without fig leaves – one who will be for them the model of a spiritual nudist. Unfortunately, that model is not standard. What most see is a very polished, very covered up artificial contrivance. Consider:

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If your church were not there, would anybody miss it? If so, what would they miss about it?

When you go there, are you excited – thrilled, even – at the reflection of Jesus that you see in the face of others, and do they see that same reflection in you? Or do you talk about the weather, last Friday’s ball game, the new bull, or Uncle Andy’s gout –  anything but the One Who built His body (ecclesia) upon the rock of Himself?

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It’s about culture.

Guys, wear your hair “too” long, and you’re a rebel. That goes back to the 60s and 70s. How long is “too long” depends: it’s relative. And if someone says, “Well, Jesus had long hair!” that guy just doesn’t get it. (See, if He did, it was OK back then; it wasn’t culturally relevant. [But, no, actually, others would say, Jesus’ hair was always short enough to pass hair check - a very modern military look - while everyone else’s around him was longer, at least over the ear.] My point. Culture.)

Nowadays it’s OK for women to wear pants, but not so long ago it was – My goodness! Talk about rebellion! Cultural.

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Shallow is sometimes defined as a mile wide and an inch deep. Most of life, quite frankly, is shallow that way. But there’s no place for shallow in the Kingdom of God – in its earthly manifestation, the ecclesia. So we’re drilling down on church.

What is the church and how does it differ from what Jesus set up in scripture (the ecclesia)? Yes, there is a difference. Go back and read the articles that preceded this one. But we’re not stopping there. This is not a mission to destroy but to resuscitate. Some call for revival, others for reformation, but let’s go for a revolution – a complete turning around, 360 degrees, back go what Jesus set up 2000 years ago. And when we encounter conflict with what currently exists, let’s let scripture rule. That’s Ground Rule # 1.

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God resides in a building made with hands. We call that place the “house of God.” There is one day of the week that He is more present there , and that is when we are supposed to go meet with Him.

We follow pagan practices that we insist are scriptural because they are called by terms that appear in our favorite versions of the Bible, never taking the time to do deeper studies of the original text in the original languages or the full context of the passage in question or the actual historical record to come to understand just what was intended by the writers of scripture and what historically changed that intent, and for what purpose.

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The largest single and fastest growing demographic among Christian believers as concerns church is the un-churched – those who are not members of and do not regularly attend the services of a church. If this writer has been successful in pointing out the distinctions between the church and the ecclesia, that need not cause readers to regard decreasing church membership necessarily as evidence of fewer numbers in the Body of Christ - the ecclesia – itself, for the two are distinctly different. And, in fact, as the church is not the ecclesia but often serves rather to distract believers from the ecclesia, it is better that the church should decrease. (“He must increase but I must decrease.”)

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Let’s start with a few operative principles:

If commanded explicitly by the written Word of God in the original languages, it is authoritative; all else is suspect. (Acts 17:11 governs.)

If God did not say, God did not say; let God be true and every man a liar. (If a man says that God said what God did not say [and record as such in His written Word], that man is a liar.)

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It has all the components of a business: cash flow (or a negative downside from lack thereof), a CEO, a board of directors, employees, customers, products and services, advertising, special offers, a physical plant, overhead expenses, recognition by government and other businesses, interaction with suppliers and regulatory agencies, etc. It also has access to the greatest manual on business ever written … which manual, and dissemination of business success instruction therefrom, is one of its primary purposes for existence as a business. It is highly intriguing, therefore, that this business entity is so practically averse to disseminating that information regularly.

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So, does God in His Word have something to say about law and about education? You betcha! Unfortunately, not much is said about those two subjects in churches. Why not? Why should the church be bound to the “religion mountain,” where the world is happy for the church to stay … as long as we let them do their thing on the other six mountains? Why does the church willingly agree to not bring “religion” into the marketplace and to keep church and state separate?  

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s2smodern

Ah, the memories: two new pair of jeans (one green, one brown; blue jeans were still not allowed); three or four new shirts; perhaps a pair of shoes; sox and understuff … along with pencils, pencil sharpener, erasers, paper, ruler, glue, pencil box … And the smell – the smell of new clothes and school paraphernalia! It marked the end of summer and the advent of a new adventure.

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Law wasn’t God’s first choice: relationship was. But He did give us law (the law was “added,” Galatians 3:19 tells us), and it is the highest form of law there is. Do you suppose He has something to say about it?

Who is more trustworthy when it comes to law – an attorney … or the Creator, the Law-Giver Himself? Considering that the law that attorneys are expert about – attorney-made law (statutory) – is the lowest form of law, upon whom should we rely for the final word on law?

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What do you LOVE to do? What are you GOOD AT doing? What do you DREAM ABOUT doing? What are you PASSIONATE about? Whether you know it as such or not, that, most likely, is the thing that God has called and gifted you to do. It doesn’t matter what it is; if you are a lover of God, He has placed that thing in you and that is your calling – the thing that you were placed on this earth to do. That thing – that Royal assignment – is for you the most important thing in the world.

It may be farming – tilling the ground, planting seed, cultivating it and harvesting it. It may be caring for animals. It may be building or repairing engines. It may be architectural design. It may be teaching and inspiring others. It may be drawing, painting or sculpting. It may be composing music or singing or playing on an instrument. It may be preparing food. It may be gathering herbs and preparing herbal teas and tinctures. It may be cleaning and organizing. It may be writing words so as to communicate ideas and thoughts. It may be interpreting words that others have written, perhaps in a foreign language, so that others may understand. It can be anything that follows - and does not violate - God’s principles of truth.

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The “Seven Mountain” idea, mentioned earlier in “What Really Matters?” is that there are seven specific spheres of influence – “mountains” – where Christians must seek to gain control in order for Jesus to return and take His throne on the earth. Those seven spheres are most often identified as: 1) Media, 2) Government, 3) Education, 4) Business, 5) Religion, 6) Arts & Entertainment and 7) Family. Setting aside considerations of theology or eschatology, and dealing just with those divisions into seven categories, an objective analysis should lead us to reject the idea that there are actually seven distinct groupings at all.

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In this neck of the woods, “Where do y’all go to church?” is usually the second or third question after “Where do you live?” or “What do you do?” Going to church is a socially-normal thing to do around here; it’s part of the culture. But “where” is probably the only biblically-based descriptor there is for this thing we call “church.” Geography is not, however, where church stops. There are denominations, and divisions within denominations, and preferred doctrines, including what other divisions are safe to associate with.

What denomination was Jesus?

Seriously.

What really matters?

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s2smodern
Mike Scruggs