A while back I was having a conversation with a business associate when the subject of relationship with God came up. While it was apparent that she considered herself a Christian, I wasn’t entirely sure what her perspective was on things like religion, church, and so on, so I just began to offer some of my own perspectives and the ball started rolling.
My friend from work quickly told me why she could no longer stomach church in general and why she was not a regular attender by any means. It wasn’t because of false teachings. It wasn’t because of abusive leadership. It wasn’t because of judgmental Christians. It wasn’t because she didn’t like the music or the pastor or tithing or some program. What she said to me was simply that she gets enough “organization” at work. This was a simple yet quite impressive statement to me, especially coming from a non-church-goer that isn’t likely even aware of an “out of church movement”. I could tell this wasn’t her trying to wax eloquent by expressing observant contradictions between the Ecclesia and man-made church, or even with any intention to complain in general. There was no attitude of complaint in her voice whatsoever. It was just a simple response… “I do all that stuff at work, all day long, day after day… why would I want to do that at church too?” It struck me that, while most of us have realized this problem with churchianity (the incessant infatuation with organization and all the legalism that comes along with it), I don’t often think of this as a response people normally give for why they don’t go to church. Some express exhaustion with the lifeless routines. Some talk about false teachings, abuse by leaders, arrogant or hypocritical people, boring sermons, etc… but few simply point out the obvious reality that church today looks almost exactly like the corporate world.
There was no attitude of complaint in her voice whatsoever. It was just a simple response… “I do all that stuff at work, all day long, day after day… why would I want to do that at church too?”
This was a statement I certainly related to, since my job involves plenty of organization (since I work at an organization). One of the most refreshing things about my relationship with Jesus is that it bears no semblance of some kind of corporate structure at all. It is, after all, a RELATIONSHIP! Generally, people who attempt to approach their friends with the same attitude as their job, don’t usually have those friends for too long. Certainly God is much more than a close friend. Why on earth would someone presume He can be organized into a clever little program (as though He were a product to be packaged and marketed)? This is GOD we are talking about!
When I first made my exodus from organized religion, I remember talking with someone online about aspects of the Christian faith and the term “orthodoxy” came up. Now, up until that time I had always presumed I held to orthodox Christianity, because my understanding of orthodoxy was with regard to the doctrine established by Jesus Christ and His apostles in the first century. I still hold to that ideal; However, as I began to re-examine the actual definition of the term orthodox, I found that embracing this concept was not as simplistic as I once presumed.
Here is this literal definition of orthodox from Webster’s Dictionary:
1. accepted as true or correct by most people : supporting or believing what most people think is true.
2. accepting and closely following the traditional beliefs and customs of a religion.
This is the dictionary definition of “orthodox” and was a bit of a shocker to re-read… “Accepted as true or correct by most people…” What? I could care less about what “most people” think with regard to the Christian life. What the Lord Jesus says is true is the only truth I desire to accept! Orthodox refers to “supporting or believing what most people think is true…” What they THINK is true? Since when has the Lord Jesus called anyone to support and accept what most people THINK is true? If you don’t mind me saying, that’s likely one of the major reasons why we have so many church organizations today that are all over the place with doctrine. It’s not that there is a problem with doctrine; The problem is that they are basing their doctrine on orthodoxy – what most people think is true… rather that drawing the truth from out of the Scriptures as plainly as Jesus spoke. We have pastors and teachers everywhere, giving their twist on doctrine and these become divisions apart from the sound doctrine once delivered to the saints, as we read about in Scripture.
Hebrews 10:25 (William Tyndale’s Translation, 1526)
The following was taken from a letter I wrote to someone a long while back about the subject of “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25), which is a common verse cited by many Christians who believe that if you’re not attending weekly religious meetings of some sort or plugged in to a church organization that you are somehow out of sync with Scripture and, for all practical purposes, “backsliding”. Some refer to the “out-of-church” crowd as isolationists, rebels, or walking wounded and this verse is often given as the prescription. But is “attending church” really what the author of Hebrews had in mind here? I don’t think so. For those interested, I thought I’d share my (not so) little rant.
P.S. Much of the information in this letter is drawn from other articles I have written as well as books and resources from other researchers and friends who have written on this topic.
My desire is to embrace God’s truth (not just for truth’s sake, but because I love Him and desire to grow evermore close to Him) and I, quite honestly, do not care if the traditions of men (even my own) are offended by His truth. If a person is honest, they will have to admit that when flesh is confronted by the Spirit of the Living God and the truth of Scripture it often resists submission and humility. But my response to that conviction of Christ and His Word must be to repent and yield, otherwise I only end up hardening my heart and increasing in stubbornness as well as blindness. I want to see clearly with spiritual eyes and walk full in the grace and liberty of Jesus Christ whose precious blood was shed for me.
We Christians tend to throw around a lot of terminologies as well as operate under a lot of religious mindsets that are, quite honestly, the primary product of human tradition and not biblical design. This is not to suggest that all organization is “evil” but sometimes it is counterproductive to true and essential spiritual growth. Sometimes our traditions can make God’s Word to seemingly have no affect and can even move us to actually reject His commands. Jesus Himself noted this reality. Just as we read in Mark 7:5, so are there “Pharisees” today who are asking the question of those who refuse to follow erroneous traditions at the expense of biblical truth: “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders?” You know well, I’m sure, Jesus’ bold reply:
Mark 7:6-9 – He told them, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites. As it is written, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is empty, because they teach human rules as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.” Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your own tradition!”
Before I can answer the question of what I believe Hebrews 10:25 specifically has in mind concerning “assembling”, I feel it is important to look closer at what “assembly” is all about in the body of Christ as Scripture presents it. Too many Christians have been raised with a traditionally-inspired definition of some of these terms and this has served to make them embrace many Biblically-inaccurate concepts. First I would like to look closer at the popular concept of the word “church”as it is understood today in comparison and contrast with the biblical meaning.
The following article was written by me a few years after I left the organized church system in late 2001. I had just come out of a church that strongly, manipulatively and even oppressively (at times) emphasized the unbiblical doctrine of monetary tithing (and I had become aware of how widespread this same mentality was among so many churches all over). It won’t be too difficult to recognize my zeal concerning this matter and, while I may have softened my approach slightly since then (because of God’s work of love and grace in my heart), this is still very much the conviction of my heart and I do believe the Lord was revealing His truth to me in these things. I do not suppose I am any person’s judge where matters of money may interchange with Gospel work so I hope I will not be misunderstood here, but I think it’s good for us to “check ourselves” and invite the Holy Spirit to weigh our motives and direct whatever change He may desire in our hearts and lives. For some, this will present a difficult view to consider and some may even find this offensive. So long as it is man’s religious inventions that circumvent truth that are offended, then I say GOOD if those notions be offended. They have no place among the Family of God and ought to be discarded. I also understand that some will simply feel that my conclusions are perhaps over-zealous in their application. I always encourage every believer to weigh everything against the study of Scripture and the voice of the Spirit of God, who is the One that guides us into all Truth. I pray that this will challenge and provoke people to righteousness, not anger or offense. My sincere desire is that Christians flee religious captivity and error and embrace the full Gospel of Jesus Christ and all which He has purposed for the Family of God to walk in. If you don’t agree with me, I hope you will still love and pray for me… and, by all means, feel free to share your comments in response. God bless! -Dave
Matthew 21:10-13 (NIV) – When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were BUYING and SELLING there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.'”
Revelation 13:16-17 (NIV) – He (the anti-Christ) also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell UNLESS he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.
These two passages are curious aren’t they? The first one describes Jesus entering into the “holy place” and casting out all who bought and sold. This “holy place” had been turned into a marketplace. The business of religion was in full swing and money was the primary concern of the events transpiring here. In fact, regardless of all the other “legal” activities going on here, Jesus is at once consumed with this one thing that has literally ruined every other aspect of this place’s intended purpose! He does not softly speak about preserving the good and giving a little bit of advice about the rest… This is no minor detail to Jesus! John’s account of this event (2:5) says that Jesus fashioned a whip and drove the moneychangers (BOTH BUYERS AND SELLERS) out! He turned over their tables and scattered their money all over the place!
NOTE: The following post is an article I wrote back in 2008 (modified and updated). It contains some of my personal opinions on fasting and my own experience. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you attempt to follow any of the activities described in this article, it is recommended that you first consult a physician for medical advice.
Most Christians who are familiar with the topic of fasting are basically trained to believe it has some kind of supernatural element attached to the activity. How often (during my church-attending days) I have sat in services where the congregation was encouraged to fast and pray so that the hand of God would “move” in their situation. The activity of fasting was virtually implied as some kind of “magical” formula to entice God to do certain things. If you really wanted something from God, you added fasting to your prayer.
For years I believed in “the power of fasting” (I still do) but I never really understood why. For the most part I was just aware that the Bible referred to it, Jesus did it, several of the patriarchs did it and called others to do it, etc. I heard preachers say things like, “If you really want to see the hand of God move in your life, start fasting.” So it did seem to be some kind of mysterious formula that, apparently, God really liked. On occasion I did add fasting along with prayer to my daily routine and, I must confess, I experienced things I did not experience otherwise. For example, a greater clarity of thought and ability to focus on spiritual things. It also seemed to add a kind of euphoria while praying. I felt closer to God and equally more energized, alert and focused. So it appeared, based on my own experience, that fasting worked. But why? More on that in a moment.
Note from Dave of TruthForFree: The following was originally a post on my friend Johnny’s Facebook page (November 10th) “Hard Truth”. The original two-part post has been combined into a single post for viewing here. Follow-up comments are welcome and Johnny also welcomes personal comments or questions directed to his email.
TRANCE’DANCE in Church-world
Which Witch is which?
by Johnny Johnson
I rarely mention names in my posts because I know God can save people involved in the occult and I’m not on a witch-hunt. The information I will share may be all one needs to know and flee from Charismatic Witchcraft. That being said, if you want to know the name of this person I am exposing on this page let me know. Perhaps your own teens may be involved and this post might trigger some “catch phrases” you’ve heard them say.
Satan’s capacity for wicked imagination seems bottomless. Furthermore, he is not the least bit intimidated by today’s postmodern church leadership. And just when I think the devil can’t get any more brazen introducing his dark spiritual substitutes for revival into the spiritually empty sanctuaries of church-world, he pulls another rabbit out of his hat.
Currently there is a female “prophet” who has made quite a name for herself in the USA and abroad she proudly admits that she is a “New Mystic.” In my opinion she is none-other than a witch; a witch who is unleashing one of the most powerful manifestations of evil upon an unsuspecting and spiritually blind generation of believers.
Just got some really great news today… Mom is being released from the hospital to go home! Thank you all so very much for praying for her!!!
My wife and I were able to get out of town and over to see her the last couple of days, which was a big shot in the arm for her. My sister from Chelan, WA (along with the kids; my awesome nieces) also made the trip and my sister from Seattle was there too and we were all together with her and had a wonderful time.
When we first arrived, the news was not so great… at least from the nurse that was attending her. She painted quite a dismal picture for us and didn’t supply much hope at all. Mom was also in quit a bit of pain and discomfort. I read to her from my phone, all the comments from those of you who shared emails with me that you’d be praying and also the comments from friends, family and acquaintances from off Facebook that were praying. She was so moved by this. My wife and I also prayed for her.
As we were there visiting, along with my family, the doctor came in and gave us an update on her situation and looked her over a bit and said he was impressed with how well she was recovering. The damage caused by the internal bleeding (something to do with her blood-thinning medication) was beginning to heal. I don’t remember all the technical terms he used, but her blood was improving even as we were there in the room. The doc said she was mending well and should be able to go home before too long. By the next day, mom was also looking and sounding more like herself and the nurse that had been so dismal before, literally changed her tune and was suddenly more positive.
Then, today, my sister let us all know that the doc has released her to go home! Even better, Lord-willing, she might be able to spend the holidays with us!
I know that God heard all the prayers and I thank all of you so very much for that!
Mom still needs more healing and I know we would appreciate your continued prayers. My mom is now 80+ years old and she’s quite a lady! I love her so much! She is one of the great reasons I am serving Jesus today. The doc said she is showing some early signs of dementia… but I know, especially after seeing how rapidly she has been recovering from this present incident, God is able to heal this too!
Thanks again, everyone, for your love and prayers. I really cannot say enough how much it means!
God bless you all my friends!!!!
In His grip,
Hi everyone, I would like to ask you all to please pray for my mother as she is presently in the hospital. She started experiencing some severe swelling and pain over the weekend so my sister and her husband took her to Urgent Care last night and discovered that there is some internal bleeding going on (quite a bit actually). Her condition is serious but stable. She will be in the hospital for at least a couple of days while the doctors try to get this under control and help her, but I know God knows exactly the problem and how to heal it so I’m requesting that you guys could all pray if you would.
I don’t have too much more information than this right now (and by the time this post goes out via email, more may have changed, so rather than issue a new post each time, I’ll just leave updates in the comments on the blog).
Thanks for your love and concern and prayers. You guys have all prayed before when I’ve shared requests and I’ve seen God answer those prayers so I’m asking my family in Christ once again. Please also pray for my family (my sister, Kristine, and my bro-in-law, Jason, and the kids) because they need the Lord’s strength and comfort and are there with her right now. I’m 250 miles away from home at the moment and can’t be with them all unless God provides a way for me to get there.
Just a quick update to thank everyone for your prayers for my friend Jeff. Jeff is going to be fine. His heart is okay and there are no serious concerns at this point, so they sent him home (the same evening actually). He has had a blood clot in his leg they have been watching (this was prior to the hospital episode) and they think the chests pains may have been related to that, but the clot is also stable and dissolving. Belinda (Jeff’s wife) sends her thanks to all of you for your love and prayers. God heard and answered!!!
Hey guys, just wanted to throw a quick prayer request out there for my friend Jeff (that’s him in the pic). He was taken to the hospital this morning (Thursday, October 9th) as he was having some pains in his chest. This brother has already won a victory over cancer several years back but has an ongoing heart condition. We don’t know yet how serious this is. They are running all kinds of tests on him. His wife Belinda is, of course, very concerned. Please pray for him (and Belinda). They are awesome people! I would really appreciate it and I know his family would as well.
God bless! Thanks again!!!