Saturday, April 23, 2016

Hotspots: Hebrews 10:25: Epilogue

I was going to post a new installment of my series “Hotspots” but felt led this morning to wrap up my last installment w/ an epilogue… 

As I've shown, Hebrews 10:25 has nothing to do w/ mandatory weekly Church attendance as is taught by many & everything to do w/ not abandoning our hope in Christ & being gathered unto Him.

Unfortunately, many pastors, teachers & leaders do not have this revelation or mindset; they just don't have a correct grasp of this verse...

Most pastors, teachers & leaders are all for equipping the saints for ministry, as long as that ministry either takes place on weekdays in the workplace or on Sunday morning in the Church building. Take a look around you; your community is your mission field, it's open 24 hours a day & it's desperate for Christ.

Take a prayerful drive, walk or leisurely bike ride on a Sunday morning around your community between say 9 am – noon. Check out about 3 different parks & see how many people are there having a picnic or a family outing or playing frisbee w/ their dogs… check out the beach & see the massive number of youth playing beach volleyball… check out the golf courses & see the impressive number of people there… that's your mission field folks.

Who's going to reach them if everyone who can reach them 
are in a Church service every single Sunday morning
due to a misinterpretation & abuse of Hebrews 10:25? 

Jesus went to the temple as was His custom but if you look at His life & ministry, 99% of both were spent outside of any building, He was active & present in the community. He was there when the people where there, day or night, Sabbath or not; a calendar & a clock meant nothing to the Lord of Creation.

I'm all for Believers getting together on a regular basis, whether they choose to do that in a designated building at a designated time... whether that's in homes… whether that's in the mission field AKA your community; I'm all for God's people getting together & learning from each other, encouraging one another & worshiping the Living God.

What I have trouble w/ is a legalistic mindset that tries to define 
what Church is, when & how (& how often) it has to be done & 
if you don't agree or comply, you're in "violation" of Scripture..

Case in point: I recently read a Google+ post from a fellowship that was posing/answering this question: "If my church decides to have a mid-week service & I can't make it, am I sinning?" Their answer? "Yes you are sinning, you are forsaking the assembling of yourselves together. If the leadership decides to have two mid-week services, then be there or you're violating the command to go to church as stated in Hebrews 10:25!" Now this is extreme legalism & blatant abuse of Scripture.

Missing a Sunday service or two is not “forsaking” (renouncing, abandoning) anything. Culture & Community needs Believers & yes, sometimes they need them on a Sunday morning.

Here are some suggestions for elders to prayerfully consider:

  • Cancel one Sunday service a month & encourage your members to minister in the community on that morning, whether it's at the beach, park or golf course. Your job is to equip the saints for ministry, so send them out & let them minister!
  • If you must have a weekly service, then have a Saturday evening service prior to the canceled Sunday morning service; pray for people to have a heart for their community & for those going out into it on that Sunday morning to connect & minister effectively
  • Quit trying to find ways to get people into your building on a Sunday morning & start trying to find ways to get the people in your building out into the community. Quit trying to get people out of their comfort zones into yours & reverse that = go where the people are when they are there

There's a few more but I'll let you come up w/ the rest…

I'm tossing around the idea of a Sunday morning golf ministry myself, probably once a month but I'm still praying it out. Some people had a problem w/ that, “On a Sunday morning? Gasp!”; most others were very supportive as they know that Sunday morning & ministry have a pretty good history together; who's going to reach them on Sunday mornings if those who can reach them aren't there to reach them? 

One of my former pastors had a saying, 
“blessed are the flexible, for they won't get bent out of shape”

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hotspots: Hebrews 10:25 Part III

So what does Hebrews 10:25 really mean then? The book of Hebrews has a theme & it is not about religious attendance but about clinging to Christ, specifically the hope of Jesus Christ (verse 23). 

Other verses that speak of this great “hope” of Jesus Christ and His return:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
“Now also we would not have you ignorant, brethren, about those who fall asleep [in death], that you may not grieve [for them] as the rest do who have no hope [beyond the grave].”

Titus 2:13
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”

So lets break Hebrews 10:25 down then revisit the overall picture:

"Forsake" in Greek is egkataleipō = quit, leave entirely, abandon completely, desert, to give up or renounce 

The same word is found in Matt 27:46 “My God, My God, why have You forsaken (egkataleipō) me?” & also in 2 Tim 4:10 “for Demas has forsaken (egkataleipō) me”

Now, is someone who attends a church service once a month or once every 3 months completely abandoning or renouncing anything?

Hebrews was addressed to persecuted Jewish Christians who were completely (or considering) abandoning "faith in Christ".

"Assembling together" is a one word phrase from the Greek word episunsgoge or episynagoge = to be gathered together but to who or to whom?

It can be found in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together (episynagoge) unto Him...”

This verse is telling us to cling to & "gather ourselves unto Christ" & don't be shaken. It has nothing to do w/ mandatory, weekly church attendance & everything to do w/ persistence to stay focused on Christ & His return. 
  
Check out these other verses regarding our “hope” = gathering unto Christ: Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34, Mark 13:26, Mark 1:33, Luke 12:1.

The book of Hebrews is all about not casting away the hope or confidence in Christ & His return, again it is not about mandatory, weekly church attendance; it is a command to hold fast to our profession of faith/hope, that was promised by Jesus that upon His return we will be gathered unto Him. 

Verse 26 is a warning about what happens if a person forsakes the hope of gathering together w/ Christ: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins.”

This is encouragement not to turn away from the faith & hope of Christ coming to fulfill His promise lest they be cast into judgment as there is nothing more to be done for the remission of sins.

So, the writer of Hebrews is encouraging people throughout the entire book to hold fast, to not forsake their faith/hope/promise of being gathered unto Christ yet he takes a break in the middle of ten chapters, changes the subject & commands them to go to church every Sunday? That's quite a stretch..

Once again, is it good for Believers to get together & encourage one another on a regular or semi-regular basis? You bet it is. Now regular for some people is weekly, regular for others is monthly, for others still it's quarterly, for some that means in a Church building, for others that means in homes; like I stated in Part II it doesn't mention the frequency in which to assemble together. Is Hebrews 10:25 talking about mandatory, weekly church attendance? You bet it's not & that's pretty clear from the Greek study.

I cannot change what Greek words were used, I just can't but they were chosen for reason.

Is there any doubt that Hebrews 10:25 is one of the most abused & misrepresented Scriptures ever?

If more people would just take the time to study not just the content but the context, the Greek & Hebrew words & to actually be Berean regarding what they are taught we would see much more freedom & effectiveness in the Body of Christ today.

Hotspots: Hebrews 10:25 Part II


Hebrews 10:25
“and forsake not the assembly/gathering of yourselves together as is the habit of some...”

This may shock you, but Hebrews 10:25 does not talk about mandatory, weekly church attendance, but IF it did, here are some points to consider:

  • It didn't say be sure to go to church every Sunday
  • It didn't say be sure that you gather in a specially designed building
  • It didn't say be sure to join an institution
  • It didn't say gather in one place around a primary leader
  • It didn't say make sure you hear a 1 hour sermon
  • It didn't even say how often to meet


What it does imply:

  • To draw near to God
  • To experience forgiveness
  • To help each other hold fast & not to waiver in our faith
  • To spur each other on to love & good deeds
  • To encourage each other


Note: These previous points were taken from the following website: (www.alternativechurch.wordpress.com)

People are the Church, the Ekklesia. The Ekklesia is not defined by, confined to or contained in physical buildings, it never was, never will be. The Ekklesia can assemble/gather anywhere, anytime.

Hebrews 10:25 does say meet regularly w/ other Believers for mutual encouragement but:

  • it doesn't specify the day in which to meet
  • it doesn't specify the frequency in which to meet
  • it doesn't specify the manner in which to meet 


Remember, the Early Church met:

  • every single day 
  • house to house, not one specific house


It's funny how the same people who spout off about verse 25 in chapter 10 completely ignore verse 13 in chapter 3 = exhort one another daily.

So, here's a breakdown of what we have so far:

  • there was a physical building where people used to “meet the Lord”, under a priest, assemble/gather together, etc
  • at Jesus' crucifixion, the veil was rent in two = access for all, not just the priests
  • we are all priests now
  • Jesus said there would be an end to location-based worship
  • the Early Church met in both the temple courts & in homes (house to house)
  • the Early Church met every day 


Most of Jesus' teaching & ministry was in the community, outside of any building. It's basically the complete opposite of that now. For most people, “ministry” takes place:

  • inside a certain building
  • on a certain day & time
  • in a structured format
  • under a priest or pastor


Questions:

  • Do you attend a weekly meeting/gathering/assembly for the joy of community or out of a sense of religious obligation?
  • How can anyone uphold one verse (Heb 10:25) & completely disregard another (Heb 3:13) in the same letter?


In no way, shape or form can verse 25 mean or imply mandatory weekly Church attendance; in fact the word Church or Ekklesia is not found in that verse at all; it's only found twice in the Book of Hebrews (2:12, 12:23). To clarify once again, I'm all for Believers getting together & not isolating themselves for extended periods of time.

Continued in Part III...

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hotspots: Hebrews 10:25 Part I

I'm starting a new series called “Hotspots” that will be addressing, dealing w/ & correcting some religious mindsets on various topics. I have a saying, “Sometimes the truth is hard to swallow, that's why you need to wash it down w/ the Word”.

Hebrews 10:25
"... forsake not the gathering of yourselves together as is the habit of some"

Here are some Tweets & Google+ posts I've seen over the last year regarding Hebrews 10:25, check out the religious mindsets, misinterpretation & misapplication of this Scripture w/ my response(s) following:

  • If you don't go to Church you will not BE the Church. #hebrews1025 #Faithseed 

Jesus said they'll be an end to location-based worship (John 4:21).
We are the Ekklesia, walls do not define nor contain us.


  • It is important to be under a covering where you can be accountable as well as a witness to other people! #Hebrews1025 

Jesus is our covering, people are not. If anything happened to your human "covering" are you suddenly uncovered? What does this have to do w/ the verse at hand?


  • In the "post-Christian America" Sunday is the new Saturday. #forsakenottheassemblingofyourselves #hebrews1025

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8).
Jesus is our Sabbath rest (Hewbrews 4:9-10).


  • YOU need to get to Church today! There's a blessing with your name on it! #GetToChurch #Hebrews1025 

I'm already blessed w/ every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3).
My blessing is not contingent on where I'm physically at.
My blessing is because of Christ & Him w/ me (Matthew 28:20) & in me (Col 1:27).


  • If your #faith can't even get you out of bed in the morning for #church, chances are it won't get you to #heaven. #KnowThyself #Hebrews1025

The stupidity of this statement speaks for itself.


  • How many church services would there be if everyone stayed home when you do? #Hebrews1025 

Guilt, Guilt, Guilt.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).


  • The night you stay home from Church could be the Service that God would given you your miracle.. #Hebrews1025 

I didn't realize that miracles where confined to a location & time...


  • 94% of Americans believe in God, but only 17% were in church last Sunday.” Not good #Hebrews1025 


Who conducted this poll?
How many of these had to work last Sunday?
How many of these took a Sunday off or were on vacation?
How many went to a Saturday evening service?
How is this information even relevant?
How many of these “Christians” that were in “Church” last Sunday are active their community like Jesus was?
What if the 83% that weren't in “Church” last Sunday were volunteering at food banks or shelters & witnessing at the beach, parks or golf courses?
What if they were busy actually BEING the Church?


  • ask yourself this: What will YOU deify to justify missing church this morning? #Hebrews1025 #NoOtherGodsBeforeMe 

Some people make a god out of their church service & attendance...


  • If I were Satan, I'd convince a society, w/ the most potential for revival, that church attendance was optional. #Hebrews1025 

I would not want to be Satan, period. If I were though, I'd twist the meaning of Scripture around to make it mean something it doesn't.


  • You'll never get the most out of your relationship with God when you don't make it a point to be in His house. #GoToChurch
  • Excuses are running out & getting old. God deserves our very best !! Get up & Go to the Fathers house. #gotochurch 

Old Covenant = I was glad when they said unto me let us go to the house of the Lord (Psalm 122:1).

New Covenant = God dwells in a house not made w/ hands (Acts 7:48, 17:24).

Can you see the religious mindsets we're up against here? Now, let me say this up front: I'm all for Believers getting together; w/ that said let's move on to Part II.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Golf Revelation: Part III

In Part I of this series I talked about switching things up, like the clubs you usually use & the way you do things; in Part II I shared on not keeping score & just enjoying the game; now I want to talk about “the grip”.

When I was first learning how to play golf, I was taught how to hold the club a certain way. Yes, there other ways of holding it but the “accepted” method was the globally popular interlocking grip used by most golfers on the planet. 



It worked well for the first few months but I found myself w/ a rigid swing & bad slice (for those who don't know what a slice is it's like throwing a curve ball in baseball, there the spin is intentional whereas in golf it's not). One day I was out in the yard during my quiet time: hitting some practice balls, meditating on the Lord, dwelling on Scripture & watching my ball curve through the air each time... 

I asked the Lord what I was doing wrong & He simply said, “change your grip”. So I unlocked my fingers & held my club like a baseball bat (the 10 finger grip as shown above), making minor adjustments & I found that my swing was smoother & the ball had virtually zero spin = a straighter path for the ball & a happier me!

There's something to be learned here:

Sometimes you just need to change your grip on Scripture & how you approach it. Sometimes people are so rigid in their beliefs, whether that's due to what they were taught or denominational doctrine. A bad doctrine or take on Scripture can be like a bad grip on your club & like sending your ball off to the side somewhere you find yourself in the woods & not the fairway.
I personally had to change my grip, both in golf & in my study Scripture; I was so rigid on Law, works, my performance, etc that over years & years caused me to develop a slice in my theology. Once I got a grip on grace & studied Scripture through the finished work of Christ on the Cross, through the eyes of grace, through resting in Him, through His performance & not mine… it reset my game. 



Saturday, April 2, 2016

Saturday Reverie 4.2.2016

reverie: a state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing…

I can honestly say I've never experienced a week of such extreme contrasts as this week was:

Sunday: I watched the long awaited superhero movie “Batman vs Superman”. As a fan of the previous movie “Man of Steel” I was looking forward to this but I struggled to stay awake during this overlong snooze fest. The running time was around  2.5 hours, which to me was about 2 hours too long. It was dark, depressing & just dragged on… I found myself wanting to yell at the screen, “Do something! Show some emotion!” but the pacing was so slow I just lost interest. It's a sad day when the best part about a Superman/Batman mashup movie is Wonder Woman & the end credits.



Monday: Supergirl succeeded where Superman failed. Seriously. I'm not kidding. On Monday's episode of Supergirl, the Flash showed up & it was amazing = bright, lite, funny & fast paced; before I knew it the episode was over & I wanted to see it again. It was the complete contrast of what I had seen not 24 hours earlier in the DC Universe. 

Tuesday: I had zero energy, motivation & inspiration. I just did not feel like doing anything. My eyes struggled to stay open, blogs just weren't flowing, ideas weren't coming & the day felt like that Superman movie I was trying to forget.

Wednesday: The complete opposite of the day before = non-stop action (just like that Supergirl episode I could not forget), ideas were like popcorn popping in my brain, I just couldn't keep up w/ them all, they were coming that fast; it was a good day.

Thursday: My usual songwriting day. I had nothing. My brain was a desert, my creativity the tumbleweed. I couldn't write a song to save my life, not even a bad song! All the notes & chords sounded the same to me, the words were elusive, everything was dry as dust…

Friday: If Thursday was a desert, Friday was a rainforest. By the time it was over, I had nine songs sitting in front of me, some old, some new, some partially re-written, others completely. Notes were all over the place regarding effects & arrangements. I was drenched.

That was my week of extremes: bored, entertained, slow, fast, dry, wet. That's life & this week, I lived it.