Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Restoring the Early Church ~ Lesson 2

Please note: this post is part two in a study series we are beginning, in which you are welcome to join. You may find part one, the introduction, HERE.

This is a study that made me rethink a lot of beliefs I held tightly but did not own...things I believed because I was told they were true, rather than because I studied them myself. I had to slaughter a lot of my 'sacred cows', and tear down many high places as I went through this study the first time. Because my memory is intact concerning my own experience with the study is the reason we will move slowly through this. It just takes time to digest it all.

Before we begin, I want to encourage everyone to do your homework! What...there's homework? Well, not officially, but in order to own beliefs, one really needs to study for themselves. So get out your Bibles, pens and notebooks, and let's do the Berean thing.
"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Acts 17 : 10-11

So often it is a temptation to skim over Scriptures that are familiar to us, because, well, we've read the same ones a thousand times over. I want to encourage you to really meditate on the Scriptures in the study. Use your concordance to look up the words in the original Hebrew or Greek, make notes, and allow yourself some time for what you're studying to sink in. Ask Father, through His Holy Spirit, to confirm what you are reading...He will.

Here are a couple of quotes to notice as you go through this lesson:
Keep this in mind: Religion in itself would not exist if people weren't mislead into believing their distinct religious ritual and creed made them acceptable to God. And note:
Religion can exist without any relationship with God.

And regarding the two charts at the end of the lesson, Mike and Sue urge:
It's vital that you examine and judge your own faith practices. In the next few pages, we contrast different aspects of the Hebraic, relational way of interacting with God and each other, and Hellenistic, religious forms. Prayerfully go through the comparison to discern if you have been told the whole truth during your faith pilgrimage.

And one more:
One of the main difficulties in any discussion about "faith" is to admit that you might be wrong.

Throughout the study, I'll be sharing several areas where Mr. Visionary and I realized that we were indeed, dead wrong, once we compared "what we believed" to the Scriptures.

Here's the link for Lesson Two. Remember to come back and post your thoughts after going through it. We all will.

14 comments:

  1. Julie - can we do a brief introduction here? I feel like a stranger walking into a quilting bee.
    My name is Ali, I am 31 - I am married with one homeschooled son. I was raised Catholic, then went wildly astray. I met my husband 8 years ago and he brought me back to church (non-denominatal Christian) where I accepted Christ.
    Then I figured since I was into the church thing I had better sit down and read the Bible through beginning to end. One problem with that plan was that when I read the bible from one side to another I started noticing inconsistancies between God's Word and the way we practice our faith.
    In reading today's lesson one thing that stood out for me was Page 11, point 2.
    Something I noticed when reading through the bible was that God had all these holidays for his people to celebrate, and it seems that modern people have traded every biblical holiday in for a "Hallmark Holiday"

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  2. I am ready to contribute a few of my own thoughts to get this started.

    First of all, I honestly can say that my relationship with God is one of LONGING. I am seeking guidance and wisdom. I desire to be given understanding; to know His heart. I do not trust my own judgment in handling the Scriptures and am afraid of misinterpreting Scripture. I want to be sure I am responding to the Spirit and not depending on my mind's analysis.

    I think our small fellowship is trying to follow the pattern of the early church in the way that it focuses on personal relationships with others, and it puts its hands and its money where its mouth is. When there is a need in the community, when there are those who are unsaved or searching, the members of the church do all they can to get involved and minister to people. And to one another. The give and give of themselves. We don’t have programs or organized outreaches…we simply act as we see needs, pray as we see needs, and give as much as we can in whatever way that we can. I feel it is done in a way that shows true love and that nothing is expected in return.

    But when it comes right down to it, my own spiritual growth is just as dependent on my relationship with God as it is on being taught at church. Knowledge isn’t everything. Knowing doctrine alone doesn’t achieve the relationships…so maybe I have just come to understand an important point about what else is needful.

    So many churches have superior attitude to others, an exclusivity and pride that hinders growth. Outsiders do not feel that they are good enough to associate with people of such high spirituality, and that we must be perfect and unable to relate to them. I appreciate that Christ humbled himself in such a way as an example for us.


    Forgive me for making comparisons. I am letting go of some of my own “sacred cows.”

    I am literally in turmoil over making a mistake in my conclusions in this study. I do not want to foolishly or carelessly question the past authority in my life. So many different things that have crossed my path these past months have lead me here. I feel compelled to work through it and learn what changes God would have us make.



    The denomination I grew up in very earnestly believes they are more correct than the others. I have concluded that the existence of denominations leads to exclusivity and pride. There is a false sense of confidence in feeling more spiritually acceptable. On the other hand, a lack of division gives way for the acceptance of very unscriptural practices (like homosexual members or pastors). We should all be ONE IN CHRIST as he desires. How can that be?

    I have come to the point in my life where I am letting go and learning to find out for myself what I believe. I can't accept all the things that were ingrained during my growing up years.

    The church in America today was pretty well summed up in the description of Hellenism. There is so much emphasis on feelings, appeal to the mind and soul, enjoyment, and creeds. I am keenly aware of those things and am in full agreement with that assessment.

    I have also been in churches where Bible knowledge consumes the head and nothing comes from the heart. Emphasis on WHAT is right vs. WHO is right should be what we seek. (p.10)

    I am thankful that God was not left out of my spiritual experience; that it IS based on a personal, viable trust in God. I DO feel the vital factor of a relationships was not given its rightful place.

    I am encouraged by the concluding points to be prayerfully patient while undergoing the process peacefully. I look forward to learning how to bring it about! I want my prime motivation to be a love of God and others.

    ~Annette

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  3. I'll be back tonight, Lord willing - to join in.

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  4. Oh, wow...what a ride this is going to be! Thank you Julie for this great idea. Don't you all just wish we sit around together and share while having a nice cup of tea! Ok, I'll snap back into reality now!...as the baby wakes and needs to be nursed. :)
    My brief background...I'm 31. I have 3 children and we homeschool also. My father is also a pastor and loves the scriptures. I'm very thankful for my upbringing. But I'm ready to dig in and "own" what I really believe. Looking forward to all the fellowship!
    Amy

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  5. "You have only so much time and opportunity to expend your life, and the first three relational rings need to take precedence." (p.2, lesson 2)

    I felt resistance when I first read this - what about all those out there who need to hear the gospel?

    But then....

    "Keep in mind that the quality of each subsequent relationship as you go outward in the diagram depends on the quality of the relationships nearer the center."

    Of course. It's about relating with God and others....

    maybe what I'm resisting is the exposed heart required for this level of intimacy....

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  6. oldpathsfamilyfarmOctober 17, 2007 at 1:37 PM

    Chrissy~

    I had that reaction at first, too...especially as a girl who always wanted to be a missionary. But Father brought to mind the MK's and PK's I knew in school (missionary kids and preachers' kids), and what a wreck they were (not ALL, of course)...and I realized *why* the first three *have* to be the priority.

    I realized that the outer layers have to flow from something of depth and truth in the inner layers to make any difference. In other words, I can't be fake ~ either in my private prayer closet or my private home, and be a super-hero Christian in public.

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  7. I'm looking forward to this study, thanks so much My intro. and invitational post to my friends and readers to join us is finally up. I've been reading through the study here and there today when I sit down to nurse baby S. I hope to finish the first two portions soon and gather my thoughts...
    Thanks so much Julie, and to the rest of you ladies as well for your participation. I look forward to learning with you all.

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  8. Thanks for hosting, Julie. Although most of this is unfamiliar to me, and although I'm not sure where it ends up - I'm eager to learn as we go.

    I found the "model" (the square with emanating layers) to be very welcome. I have spent my life in church, and have basically been taught that things should be completely turned around from this model.

    I have experienced (so often, too much) the fact that ministers (in particular) are to give so much of themselves away on the fourth layer and outward that they virtually nothing left over for the inner three layers.

    Yet, practical living has told me - even before Julie introduced this to me - that the inner layers MUST come first, that all else flows out of those closest relationships.

    I found, as I went thru the worksheet, that I already operate much more closely in line with the Hebraic mindset - so I am excited to see what this means in my life!

    I was also interested to read that I am to expect a pulling away from other "ties" for a time - and THAT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED! Hmmm. Thanks for inviting me, Julie!

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  9. I have been so in prayer over things in my own life now that I've read the first couple of lessons. It's a refining time in my life right now, and of course, external things are going to pull away from that, but oh how much truth are in the verses I've been lead to the past day!

    I'm Deanna, helpmeet to Dewey and momma to our 9 blessings. We are moving in slightly differing directions right now, Dewey and I...well, not different directions, we are going the same way, just taking different strides right now. It's a blessing to know that growth is happening. I always get troubled in my heart when things seem to be too stilted around here.
    Thank you for inviting me Julie -- this has come at just the right time for my life and Walk!

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  10. I am Christi, I am moma to nine blessings ages 20-1yo, wife to one for the past 20 years, we homeschool and love it!

    I am slow processing my thoughts but I love the model. I don't serve in the church we are at, and haven't in a few years. I have felt called to serve in my home for a while now. People at churches really don't understand though.

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  11. Introduction -
    I'm Lisa, another homeschooling mom living on a small farm with a self-employed husband. :) We have discovered that a home congregation has developed in our home - our family and two others. It is quite a blessing, to be sure!

    I am really looking forward to this study and to the participation! Thank you, Julie, for doing this. I'm looking forward to participating as much as I can. :)

    Blessings ~
    Lisa

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  12. Hi Ladies,
    My name is Cheri, momma to 8, 4 living, and 3 still at home. Have been homeschooling for 20 years and live on a small farm.

    I find that the first 15 years of my walk the churches followed more of the Hellenistic model but the last 13 more closely resemble the Hebraic model. I have been blessed to experience the deep relational church and long for that again.
    I look forward to this study and getting to know you all. I am all for the cup of tea and long discussions!
    Blessings,
    Cheri

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  13. I'm just jumping in...very intrigued and been on this topic myself for a fewyears...ever since I began to read the Bible from cover to coverfor myself and noticed: uh, my reality and this theology don't match!

    SO, anyway, I'm 38, have a great husband who's a firefighter and 4 homeschooled children 15 to 8 in ages. We live on a ranch and so I' don't have too much free time, but do hope to participate as much as possible. (for me) ")

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  14. I am jumping in too, I am Jeannie I am 29, Married for 10 Years to my high school sweettart, we have 2 children DD 11, DS 7, Just embarking on our first year into home schooling, although I think I am the one being taught as I am learning so much. We are a military family of 10 years as well. I have grown quite curious as to why the church now a days is in such chaos, I am also on a learning journey about our hebraic adoption since because of our faith in Christ Jesus.

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