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HAPPY ELEVENTH BIRTHDAY REAL CHRISTIANITY

 

It has been a privilege and blessing to do this work here over the last eleven years. I am thankful to the Lord. With your help I look forward to year twelve…

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So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. [Acts 5:41-42]

As Christians, suffering is often a difficult concept to grasp. It is hard to make sense of in light of the fact that the Lord said He came that we may “have life abundantly.” Abundant life and suffering don’t seem to go together. These two appear to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. How can such opposites have fellowship? The Scriptures are clear, however, that real Christians are also called to share in His sufferings.

I’ve written about 750 posts in my time here at WordPress. Most of these are teaching posts of two to four pages. I have also written many longer articles, however, which means my total count here is probably approaching three thousand pages. That’s approximately ten to fifteen books.

Please excuse me for personal reference but I think we need times of such accounting. These annual birthday posts are one of two times during the year when I allow a tad more personal reference in order to give you, my dear readers, a better understanding of who I am and what the Lord has called me to do. In that light, we should all be glad that His standards of judgment are not those of the world.

The world, and yes, even the Christian world, judges ministers on their success, how big their church or ministry is, whether or not they’re on television, and whether or not they have millions of people, millions of dollars, and many church higher-ups backing them. I am not saying that all of such people have drifted off and do believe that some of them are where they are supposed to be, but I am saying that the standard of what a real minister of the Gospel is was established in the very beginning and that it is FAR different from modern standards.

Of course, though most Christians and most ministers thoroughly reject it, the greatest and only standard is that of our Lord Jesus. Prior to official ministry He worked tirelessly and obscurely preparing for it. He also worked for most of His life to that point as a builder. Though the Scriptures refer to Him as a carpenter, the meaning of the term extended beyond what one may think a carpenter was in those days. He was actually involved in larger construction projects though to what degree we do not know. Suffice it to say that He learned His craft from His stepfather Joseph and served him honorably while growing up. There is no doubt the Lord had great success as a builder though such success is relative. At some point Joseph passed away and the Lord had to take responsibility for His mother and siblings. He also had to prepare for future ministry which included earning enough money to finance it. He would have to earn enough not only for Himself, which amounted to next to nothing, but mainly to take care of His twelve and their families. This measure of a minister of the Gospel is therefore, truly, pretty much the opposite of Christian ministers in general, who are more concerned with their own bottom line rather than that of their congregants.

During His ministry, the Lord Jesus, a Man accustomed to having much more, one whom the apostle Paul said was rich and became poor, pared Himself down to the use of only the barest of the bare essentials. He had no house. He had pretty much no possessions whatsoever other than the clothes on His back. This was the model He set. He taught this model to His men. He taught them to travel light. Therefore, the idea that He would involve Himself with something so spurious and foreign as building “church buildings” and doing His best to look like a Pharisee is ludicrous.

It was the Pharisees and those like them who were obsessed with religious externals. They had to have their synagogues and their high places therein, their own equivalent of platform thrones, from which they could rule and make sure everyone knew who was in charge. They also loved their extravagant clerical costumes and their highbrow religious attitudes that would gag a maggot. The Pharisees were also lovers of money (as were the Sadducees, Scribes, etc.). Their religion was entirely external. The Lord, on the other hand, had no need of such ridiculous externals. His was a spiritual ministry. He was a spiritual King of a spiritual Kingdom. From without, He had nothing by which to command respect according to sinful religious standards. This is obviously why the religious leaders had no respect for Him and why they treated Him with such contempt.

It was the same for the twelve apostles. It was the same for all the Lord’s disciples. It was the same for all of His true followers. And it is the same for all real Christians ever since.

SPEAKING OF EXTERNALS…

Over the last several years church buildings in America have been closing at an alarming rate. Until a person takes a look at this phenomenon he is completely unaware of it and doesn’t understand either side of the issue. A great church-building campaign was implemented throughout the last century. Protestant churches of all major denominations engaged in the practice once they had the money to spend, and they obviously had gained a lot. The Roman Catholic Church had always been flush with cash and power, so building church buildings everywhere was relatively easy for them also. However, what goes up must come down. That many of these church buildings no longer exist or have been sold and transferred into something else is yet another sign of the times. Sadly, for the most part, much of the money that these religious leaders possessed and had access to was used improperly. THE MONEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN SPENT ON PEOPLE.

This is what the Lord did. Unlike the grifting Christian religious leaders who refuse the Lord’s example and appropriate that of the Pharisees who have no problem asking for and demanding money all day long because they are worth it though “their people” are obviously not, the Lord worked very hard in His early life earning the money He would need for ministry and for supporting His ministers. He never called them forth from their life’s work at earning money for their families, whatever their trade may be, such as fisherman, without also providing for them. Imagine all those guys just dropping their nets and following a poor preacher all of the sudden and leaving their families in the lurch. This is apparently what most Christians must believe.

In reality then, one can see that the object of highest value in the Lord’s eyes was never external religious stuff but PEOPLE. The Lord Jesus loves PEOPLE. The Lord Jesus died for PEOPLE. He lives for PEOPLE. He rose again from the dead so that PEOPLE dead in sin can be saved and also rise again. His entire focus was always on PEOPLE. And He loves every single PERSON exactly the same because one cannot exceed the fullness of one’s heart and the Lord always gives His full heart to “whosoever will.”

Thus, practical externals are okay if necessary but are always far down the priority list. Regarding places to meet, why build external “church houses” when so many homes are available for use? How many times do we see the Lord using someone’s home, such as Peter’s, as not only a place to stay but a place to meet? The Book of Acts, early on, reports that they went “house to house.” And how many times do we see this standard throughout the epistles? There was always someone’s home here and there used as a meeting place. The houses of the early Christians thus served a dual purpose. They were following the Lord’s example.    

As we continue on we will see more and more church buildings shuttered forever, especially after so much of American Christianity bought into the scam of the last two years and began worshiping “remotely.” One wonders what happened to these people. The bigger question, however, is how American Christians in general also bought into the hate toward those Christians who refused to engage in the false narrative. This is obviously a terrible development but what is done is now done. There is no going back. It was a big test and many if not most American Christians failed it.

ON THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION

Over the last eleven years I have done my best to warn you and keep you informed. I have always worked very hard at gaining information and truth because it is what I do. It is my calling. The Lord anointed me for this. I mostly get rejection, however, which is roughly par for the course. And I often prefer a parabolic approach. I don’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence. (The Lord used parables for a reason. They force people to think and become engaged.) However, Americans, and people in general, who refuse to consider the Lord’s gracious offer to become real Christians, usually do not make this decision based on what but on will. In other words, most people know the Lord Jesus is someone very special and have little or nothing against Him. With just a little introductory witnessing people quickly understand what is what. Their problem is thus not one of facts and truth but one of will, in that if they acknowledge the truth about the Lord they know they will have to submit to Him and quit their free-to-sin lifestyle. They don’t want to do this. Carrying a cross is no fun. They would rather keep their independence from God so they can maintain their authority to live in whatever way they choose. They are therefore forced to reject truth which forces them to cast aspersions upon the Lord’s Truth in order to be comfortable in the unworkable place they have chosen.

It is interesting that many Christians have the same attitude. In their case, New Testament facts do not matter. If New Testament facts clash with the doctrines of their denomination most will always choose the false or incomplete doctrines of their denomination. It is a religious thing. It is a cultural thing. It is a social thing. It is a lowest possible common denominator thing. Rather than choose the Lord’s full Truth and likely lose fellowship and social standing (and money and power and prestige and honor and self-congratulatory plaques on the wall and trophies in one’s case) they would rather keep on keeping on and keep the Lord and His hardcore Christianity at a distance. They would rather not be confused by facts. Again, especially in these days when so much truth and information is available, it is not because disobedient Christians do not know it but because they don’t want it. So they gather among other Christians like themselves and support one another in their disobedience. It gives them a warm glow or something and makes the conviction go away.

Tradition is a hard taskmaster to break free from.

Speaking of houses, did you know vast swaths of housing in America are being bought up at this very moment? Did you know that entities worth trillions of dollars are buying entire neighborhoods and plan to continue until they own as much housing as possible? And that they are buying houses above market rates to insure that owners will sell? And that they plan to turn all of these into rental properties and raise the rents astronomically? Money is not a problem for them. All they have to do is keep raising the sale price until the sellers sell.

Did you also know that the American homeless problem is growing by leaps and bounds? Did you know that renters are being priced out by being presented with massive rent increases they simply cannot afford? And that these responsible hard-working Americans can now not afford to live anywhere in their areas because the cost of housing has risen so dramatically? It is one thing to be homeless because one may be lazy or has given up or is mentally unstable or is addicted to drugs or alcohol. There has always been a percentage of the populace that fits this category. But many homeless people as of late are homeless because their salaries no longer allow them an affordable place to stay. Many of these continue working their jobs while living in their car or on the street. This is an entirely new phenomenon. And it is beginning to explode.

Did you also know there is war against your food? That bad actors are buying up all the farm land? That a great many food processing plants are mysteriously being destroyed all across the country? That multiple millions of chickens, etc. are being willfully destroyed because of possible bird flu? In other words, in order to protect the people we must starve them. Famine is thus coming to America as is increasing poverty. Destruction is upon us and most people are not even aware of it. I humbly suggest you do your own research to confirm this. You will then see.

We must also work harder at researching Scripture. The Lord rebuked the Pharisees in part because they knew the Scriptures but refused any understanding of Him as the Messiah. To do so would put too much pressure on them to change and get right with God. For them there was simply too much to lose. Our attitude toward Scripture thus reveals the condition of our heart.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” [John 5:39-44][1]

The Lord said the Scriptures tell all about Him. But how many “Christians” are willing to do the simple work of reading and studying the Scriptures, especially the pure teachings of the Lord Jesus, to get to know Him better and pattern their lives according to His will? If we want to know Him and know about Him, this is how to do it. Of course, the Lord was talking about the Old Testament in the preceding. We have so much more! A great way to get to know the Living Word is by reading the written Word. Those who do are much better prepared for any eventuality including that of the present.

At the end of the day we were all properly warned. Many Christians have been warning for a long time. It is mostly a failing cause which reminds one of Jeremiah’s work. Next to no one heeded his warnings or considered his teachings. Most of the Lord’s own people even rejected all of His warnings when only a very short time was left to repent. Most refused. Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple were destroyed forever. Is this America’s fate? Unless something dramatic happens very soon it certainly is to whatever degree. As of now it appears that no one is doing anything to rebuke the devourer. The Devourer is running roughshod over the country and Christians are still doing and believing what they always have which is exactly how we arrived at the present. Unless one is doing what the Lord requires, the same old same old will no longer work. It is not working and hasn’t been for a while now. Also, the spiritual void created by the fake Christians is now being filled up by the fakest of fake ministers and most are none the wiser. It is all happening right before us. For many it is hidden in plain sight. American Christianity has largely been taken over by imposters.

SOMETHING MUST CHANGE. CHRISTIANS MUST DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. CHRISTIANS IN AMERICA MUST INCREASE THEIR SPIRITUAL PRESENCE AND ABILITIES HIGH ENOUGH AND STRONG ENOUGH AND POWERFUL ENOUGH TO MAKE THE DIFFERENCE. CHRISTIANS MUST START STANDING UP AGAINST ALL THE DECEPTIVE COUNTERFEIT GARBAGE.

The tide of this greatest spiritual war in this country must be turned. I believe it will be. But it also looks like it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Maybe this is the only way to make Christians wake up. Maybe they cannot be properly motivated while relatively free and financially comfortable and must be enslaved and suffer great lack before they get the big idea. (Experience is the best teacher.) When they do the Lord Jesus will be there to meet them.

MY WORK

I have written more new material and longer articles this year than in any previous year. I remain very thankful for those of you who read and follow. Words cannot express how much I appreciate it. But it’s not about me, of course, but the material. If you want to further support my work, say a prayer. There are many things I need to accomplish. Your prayers may help move some mountains. I continue to do what I can to direct people to the Lord’s pure teachings. When we apply them correctly we no longer support lesser teachings and false interpretations of His Word, maintain false ideas and formats, or focus on religious externals. Real Christianity is about the heart. The Lord knows your heart. He knows everything about you. This would normally cause a person to simply give up and surrender to Him knowing he or she cannot hide. But again, it is not about what but will. One must engage one’s will in the process. One must surrender one’s will to Him. Whoever does gains the greatest benefit which is a close relationship with the Lord and secondly, is blessed with specific fulfilling spiritual work to further His Kingdom.

Remember, the last member of the human body to surrender to the Lord Jesus is the tongue. When this most rebellious member fully submits the Holy Spirit enters and heavenly speech pours forth. This is the clear record in Acts. It is the same when we surrender our will. His will then becomes dominant in our lives and everything begins to change for the better. We must know He loves us with all His heart and will bless us with abundant life if only we allow Him to do so. He is a benevolent God of mercy and compassion. It is very important in this regard that we embrace His full curriculum. This process will drive out any false or incomplete teachings resident in our minds which means such things will no longer be a burden or a drag on our spiritual lives. His Truth also puts an end to confusion and cognitive dissonance.

WHAT ABOUT AMERICA?

I have been telling you for eleven years now through this medium that a national Great Awakening is upon us. I got the word from the Lord in late August of 2010, going on twelve years ago, that we were in the early stages at that time. The term Great Awakening was not at all in use then. Roughly five to seven years went by as I continued to labor in obscurity before the term then burst upon the scene in America. Now, probably half the country is well aware of the term Great Awakening. Millions know what it means. Millions are seeing the light and gaining more truth daily at an exponential rate. The Lord is seeing to this. HE IS EXPOSING EVIL LIKE NEVER BEFORE. But the perpetrators are still getting off scot free. Facts no longer matter. It reveals who is in control at that level. But the Lord’s Light will keep shining. Sin will continue being revealed. There is nothing anyone can do to stop this juggernaut let loose by the Lord. The devil wanted to amp it up and the Lord essentially said, “Fine. Now watch what I can do.” Whenever the enemy comes in like a flood the Lord will have the last word if we submit to Him and allow Him and will bring an answering flood of goodness and abundant life for His people. The Lord always takes care of His people but this works best when we fully cooperate.

Therefore, regarding the country, all nations and empires eventually come to an end. The only entity existing in the world at present that will never come to an end is the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. This Kingdom has existed on this planet since the first century AD. It was designed to continue growing and expanding until it fills the earth. It is constantly clashing with the temporary kingdoms of this world controlled by you know you. The Lord, however, said the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

Currently, spiritual warfare in America is off the charts. It will be up to the relative few to continue fighting this battle. Most Christians are not engaging and will not engage. It is because most are not really Christians anyway. They have false conversions. They are Christians in name only. These are the people who comprise Unreal Christianity. They cannot fight their way out of a spiritual paper bag. It’s just the way it is.

OUR PRESENT

Though things look pretty bad and times are growing darker, and it appears as though all sin ever known to man is being freely exhibited all around us with no apparent remedy, and that those who are supposed to honor the rule of law and enforce the law are doing the opposite, always remember that the Lord Jesus is in charge. And even though He is not in effective charge in that He gave us free will and honors it and will never force anyone to do anything, He is in charge in that He can answer effectively at any time. It greatly helps Him when we pray properly and sincerely. I have the faith that He can do anything whenever He wants to. I have seen great miracles in my time and in my own life. We should all know what the Lord can do.

So be strong! Believe Him! Believe in Him! He keeps winning! The enemy has been throwing everything he has at us but keeps failing and thus continues resorting to different tactics. If the Lord’s relatively few people stay with Him the Lord will continue defeating anything the enemy might try. But again, we must put all of this in the context of the Lord’s invisible spiritual Kingdom. He puts all of His efforts into saving PEOPLE not things.

Outside of His Kingdom, everything in this world is temporary with an expiration date. We must occupy and be responsible but know our spiritual responsibility must be paramount.

Consider His perfect example. Consider the example of our Christian forebears in the first century. Study them. Read their accounts. Do what they did.

This is the answer.  

© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

TENTS OF INTENSITY: IDENTIFYING THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

I’m reading a book about a Christian minister in the early to mid-20th century conducting evangelistic meetings and starting churches. In tents.

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ATTENTION TO TENT MINISTRY INTENTIONS

This is nothing profound or out of the ordinary, of course, since big canvas tents had become the norm of sorts for large evangelistic meetings by mid-century. They were also used by those sent to start new ministry works in various small towns and locations throughout the country. If one had a tent he could carry it around on a trailer with the other stuff necessary for holding services. Once the minister secured a location on which to set up the tent it didn’t take long to begin holding services. The tent itself would often act as free advertising. When the people of the town saw the new curiosity, like a traveling road show or entertainment spectacle, they were often drawn to it since the interloping tent attraction added a new level of excitement in a hum drum existence. The minister to which I am referring did much of his early work in the late 1920s and into 1930s during the Great Depression. He was not only offering the Gospel of salvation to the locals but also giving them hope and inspiration.

He later revealed his method for starting new churches. He would visit a new town, usually of the smaller variety and sometimes in out of the way places. He would set up his tent, which often included a platform to preach from, maybe do a little additional advertising around town, and then commence with holding services. After a few months of steady work holding consistent meetings and growing a regular congregation he would set up a pastor to take care of the folks while the folks compensated the new pastor with a living. Then he would move on. It would take a certain quantity of people giving a necessary amount of money to support the pastor depending on the situation and his needs. To replace the tent, a local building would be appropriated for either rent or purchase depending on the circumstances. If all continued to go well regarding growth and expansion the new church start would be able to eventually build a new church building to call their own.

This was a difficult effort overall if the church start minister was not connected to an established deep pockets denomination from which to draw support and financing. Anything the Lord created through him must have been greatly satisfying, since he was starting from scratch, especially since his preaching method, doctrine, and ministry emphasis was on the salvation of souls, which was usually not the emphasis of the mainline churches. Such tent ministry methods were sometimes or frequently seen as deviating from the Christian norm and were somewhat disdained by both local anti-Christian forces who often got stirred up and provoked rather easily, as well as by the local denominational church pastors who may have seen such efforts personally intimidating, a threat to their authority, and an invasion of their turf.

It is why this particular minister and those like him saw Christian ministry not as business as usual but one much more in line with the New Covenant practices of the Lord Jesus. They got their ideas from the New Testament. Thus, they saw themselves as certainly different from the norm but were not so untraditional that they would not later adopt the same formats of those churchmen and traditional Christians opposing their early efforts.

BEHOLD, I WILL DO A NEW THING

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. [2Corinthians 5:17]

These new ministers of the Gospel were part of a new wave breaking upon America as part of a Great Awakening movement that had its roots primarily in the 1906 Los Angeles Azusa Street Revival. The people of that time associated with the movement were more than willing to step from traditional methods and go out on large limbs of pure faith to honor the Lord. And He blessed them for it.

The majority of Christians today cannot identify with that movement or what those people went through to assist the Lord in bringing forth new Light. Their emphasis on Pentecost and Book of Acts happenings took a tremendous amount of courage and demanded a willingness to have one’s Christian reputation destroyed. As John the Baptist facing off against the Pharisees, they had to put up with unending attacks not necessarily from local yokels in general, though that was surely the case, but primarily from status quo Christians in high places and their unthinking drone army of pew-worn sycophantic lemmings. Whatever Christian norm had been established at that time by the current generation was seen as the norm from which no one should deviate. Of course, necessary deviations from such established traditional sleepy time norms must happen anyway if the real Gospel is to be preached, otherwise there would never be the proper spiritual corrections and ongoing restoration toward the pure New Testament prototype.

DID THE APOSTLES USE TENTS?

And this is where it gets interesting. The minister tent user of which I speak and whose book I’m reading who held a great many tent crusades et al in his time over several years was not actually engaging in a pure New Testament effort after all because the big top model was relatively recent. I’m not sure what minister first used a tent for ministry purposes and I don’t feel like doing the research but one wonders if the idea came from the ever present traveling circuses of bygone years. I’m sure big canvas tents were used for more than just circuses but I think said circuses indeed captured the market on the imagination since pretty much everybody back in the day associated circuses with giant tents filled with lions and tigers and bears and acrobats coming to town. It was only a hop and a skip sans the jump to put the proverbial two and two together and manifest a flashing yellow light bulb over one’s head toward the big ministry-minded voilà: We can use tents in ministry!

It was certainly a good idea and maybe a great one. Except for one little problem. It was at heart a mere variation on the standard model of the local church building. As I said, if the tent ministers/ministries were successful, the people they gathered would eventually be housed in something more permanent than the transitory tent which makes the tent a kind of halfway house toward the standard church house. So the question regarding the Early Church and its non-use of permanent meeting buildings would also apply to the big tents of past crusade fame. You see, not only did the early believers never have any permanent church buildings as we know the term, they would also not use big tents if indeed big tents were available. Now, stay with me here because there is a point to this, hard to figure though it may first appear.

HOUSE TO HOUSE

Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart… [Acts 2:46]

The private home was their preferred meeting place. It was essentially their only allowable meeting place. The New Covenant Scriptures are filled with references to houses being utilized for meeting places. The apostle Paul mentions them often and that he taught from house to house (Acts 20:20). This means the term “church house” has an entirely different connotation from their perspective. Rather than it being a public Christian meeting house which Christians attend from without as it has been throughout much of western history, the original church houses were actual church houses—they were private houses that Christians lived in that Christians also used for ministry meetings. This was the case in the very beginning in Jerusalem and it remained the case for roughly three centuries. The exact model was used throughout the Gentile world within the Roman Empire.

Regarding overt persecution from the state, in the early going until the emperor Claudius was ousted in 54AD and Nero came to power, the Gentile Christians got a pass because the Romans considered them a Jewish sect and the Jews had already been granted an exclusion of sorts from practicing the Roman religion and participating in the emperor cult. One reason for this was their many centuries-old religious practice that far predated Roman times which gave them an effective grandfather clause. That and the fact that Jews made big gigantic huge earth-shattering trouble at any appearance of attack against their religion or when obedience to Roman religion was put forth or even suggested.

The time came however, when the Gentile Christians could no longer fly under the radar though they sincerely attempted to always “follow peace with all men” (Hebrews 12:4). Part of the reason for that was those same unbelieving Jews who professed holy hell when their religion was slighted had no problem doing the slighting themselves against followers of the Lord Jesus, most especially if they were fellow Israelites. It was also quite problematic that the more vocal and hard core branch didn’t stop at mere slights but proceeded to destruction and murder. In other words, the unbelieving Jews were blessed with effective freedom of religion and respect by a Roman government which could otherwise be quite brutal but they refused such freedom of religion to their brothers following the Lord Jesus and the many Gentiles following Him as well.

Thus the Romans were not the persecutors in the beginning. They were sometimes influenced by unbelieving Jews undercover to go after Christians as was the case recorded in Acts Chapter 12 when Herod Agrippa had the apostle James unlawfully executed, and “when he saw that it pleased the Jews,” he planned on murdering Peter also. Both of these men were obviously solid Israelites but no matter.

It was nutbag Nero who later jettisoned the peaceful policy of Claudius (41-54AD) toward the Christians, a period when real Christianity had flourished in the empire. It was on Nero’s sordid watch that the first major Roman state persecution broke out against Christian believers. At that point the home fellowships in Rome and other areas had to take extra precautions not only because of Nero’s madness and the antichrist influence upon him but also because Christianity was now seen as something entirely different from first century Judaism. Its growing numbers and influence appeared threatening. Christians soon became Roman public enemy number one and convenient scapegoats.

Therefore, even though real Christianity had gained great early success and had much freedom to meet relatively unmolested in their homes over a wide stretch of territory throughout the Roman Empire, there had certainly been insufficient wherewithal to create actual Christian meeting houses (though they saw no need for such and even likely perceived what we termed church buildings as counterproductive), such buildings became impossible after the start of Nero’s persecution.

Yet, as it was, after the early glory days in the 30s AD when persecution and famine broke out in Jerusalem scattering the seed of the Gospel to the four corners, the same in essence had happened in Nero’s time (54-68AD), as Christians were forced to grow ever more vigilant, spiritually strong, and able to travel. And they had to travel light. This still required meeting in small groups in homes as the best way to stay undetected in part and be seen as peaceable law abiding citizens of no threat to the state or their neighbors. To construct an overt large building to meet in would be seen as an affront and would be out of character anyway. The plan they were taught by the Lord had always worked very well as it had for Him. Remember, though the Lord sometimes ministered in synagogues there came a time when He was no longer welcome. The same thing happened to the apostle Paul in his early ministry who often started in the local synagogues teaching the Good News to his brothers. He was often warmly accepted early on and gained converts but eventually the unbelievers there created such a terror he had to move on.

For the early believers, ministry was not bound by convention but simply a matter of shining their light, witnessing, assisting the Lord in saving souls, helping and loving others, teaching the Gospel when open doors and hungry hearts presented themselves, keeping a relatively low profile when necessary, and most importantly, being vessels filled with the Spirit of God and praying others through to the same experience.

THE REAL TENTS

For the Early Church, Pentecost was essentially an everyday affair. Real Christianity started in a private home in Jerusalem in an appropriately named Upper Room and continued with that format everywhere it traveled. The first many generations of Christian believers had no church buildings or large canvas tents. They had next to nothing of what later Christians, including today’s, deemed indispensable. What they had, however, worked wonders. It did so because their ministry model was organic and close to the people.

The closer we get to their model at present, the more we will be like them and the more spiritual success we will have. Rather than insisting on traditional largely non-productive, unworkable, unbiblical ministry models and watching the culture and country fall down all around us as a result, not to mention millions of souls being lost due to such models never caring to reach them, it is high time we get this right and do things the Lord’s way. Humble servitude always works. People need the Lord.

“Freely you received, freely give.” [Matthew 10:8b]

At the end of the day, the only real church buildings, the only real tents, are our own bodies—spiritual temples—each of which should be dedicated to the Lord Jesus as a welcome home for His Holy Spirit. This is the actual New Covenant model—individual spiritual temples built up into one large spiritual temple composed of all real Christians, exactly as our spiritual forebears believed, taught, and practiced. They placed a very high priority on believers being filled with the Holy Spirit of the Lord. We see this referenced repeatedly in the early history of Christianity at Pentecost, immediately after Pentecost, and throughout the Book of Acts record over the next forty years. Receiving the Spirit of God was AN EVENT. It never happened by osmosis and never happened “by faith” without powerful empirical evidence witnessed by others.

The one common denominator evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit, through the process toward total submission, was the surrender of the last rebellious holdout of the human body—the tongue.

Thus, the early Community of the Lord Jesus was composed of brand new, spiritually clean, holy, set apart for service, mobile temples filled with the Holy Spirit. The Lord alluded to this future standard repeatedly during His ministry in the gospels. The New Covenant epistles, especially those of Paul, also mention this truth. He taught on it. He refers to believers who have experienced it. In the middle of these two we have the Book of Acts which illustrates the experience in real time. The major problem with much of Christianity is that it skips over Acts and goes straight from the gospels to the epistles. This causes non-Spirit-filled Christians to identify with the content of Paul’s letters as though it applied to them and causes them to think they are Spirit-filled when they are not.

In the following passage, the apostle Paul identified the real Christians of his time not according to Christian religious tradition, but according to OT Scripture and as those who had fully experienced Pentecost. A separation and dedication was called for then as it must be now:

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?

For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty. [2Corinthins 6:14-18][1]

© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

DAMAGING GOD’S MANAGING: SUPPLANTING THE LORD’S ORIGINAL MODEL WITH THE PASTOR PARADIGM

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It is a direct result of the false clergy-laity divide. Once that precedent was set, local one man rule quickly followed. Most insist on the “pastor” title.

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Everybody calls them pastor. Next to no one ever questions the title nor the position of the title holder. Much worse than this, next to no one ever does any New Testament research on this particular term to verify its legitimacy. Like so many other things regarding traditional Christianity as opposed to the Lord’s original model, the pastor title and one man rule has been successfully embedded in religious concrete with nary a fight. Though it has no legitimate reason to exist, its presence proves the further presence of misinformation by design and millions of Christians unaware of the truth. Those in control would rather not deal with any Biblical truth that challenges their position.

THE LORD’S ACTUAL MANAGEMENT MODEL

For those interested in what the New Testament actually teaches about the Lord’s original model, the following four points explain it succinctly:

  1. The New Covenant Communities were each ruled exclusively by the Lord Jesus through the medium of His Holy Spirit.
  2. He appointed men under His leadership to supervisory places of service. These men were generally entitled elders and overseers.
  3. He appointed other men to associate places of service generally entitled deacons and ministers.
  4. Each Community was supervised by a group of elders and never by one man.

I have researched this topic for decades and written long papers. I have done exhaustive New Testament studies on the subject. Because I must be relatively concise with this article, I will explain and clarify, though briefly, the New Testament facts regarding the pastor title and position, and why the issue matters. I will be quoting from my book Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church (which contains much deeper research). Each book excerpt will be indented to differentiate it from the post text. Keep in mind that the words pastor and shepherd are not synonymous:

As mentioned previously, the word “pastor” is mentioned only once in the New Testament and is translated from the Greek word poimen, which is translated as “shepherd” on every other occurrence of its use. “Pastor” is originally a Latin word and means “herdsman,” which is defined as “a manager, tender, or breeder of livestock.” Though “herdsman” and “shepherd” might appear identical, there is a difference. The Good Shepherd, for example, cannot be identified as a mere manager of livestock, but only as a caring shepherd who gives His life for the sheep. A herdsman, or pastor, is actually more similar to a hired hand in the sense that livestock is seen as a commodity, and the level of personal care is much lower than that of a true shepherd. It is in Ephesians 4:11 that we find the only occurrence of the word “pastor.” If the translators had used the word “shepherd,” as they should have, we quite possibly wouldn’t have today’s “herdsmen” in authority over God’s people, but true shepherds who assist the Great Shepherd. [1]

Again, the word “pastor” is mentioned only once in the New Testament and is translated from the Greek word poimen which is defined as “shepherd.” This Greek word occurs 18 times in the New Testament. Why is it translated as shepherd 17 times instead of all 18? There is absolutely no legitimate reason for this. Since the original King James Version of 1611 was written with a strong authoritarian bias per the king of England and his translators, this was their chance to insert an authority word since the word “shepherd” is disdained by authoritarians as weak and essentially useless for instituting rule. Of course, the Lord Jesus was never referred to as “Pastor” nor were any of His disciples. He was, however, addressed often as Shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd not the “Good Pastor.” We must follow His example:

A real pastor is nothing more than, and nothing less than, a shepherd. Many of those who represent themselves as pastors today are anything but. There are many preachers who desire a nice, steady job and a “Pastor” title. There are also quite a few homesick evangelists who would rather settle down in one location to do pastoral work instead of attend to their callings. It should be obvious that the only real pastors are those who are functioning as pastors, that is, caring for and shepherding God’s flock according to God’s will. There are undoubtedly many people who are called to be shepherds who are not serving as such, or else the Church would be in a lot better shape. Most of these are probably wasting away on pews because they don’t feel qualified when comparing themselves to the multi-credentialed big boys in the pulpits. [2]

Because a great many of our so-called Christian leaders refuse the original New Testament management model of the Lord Jesus, might they also be engaging in other violations? If their desire is to rule over the flock instead of shepherd the flock, their spiritual condition doesn’t really matter. Perhaps this is why so many Christian leaders, including those with a pastor title, seem to always be engaged in some form of hidden sin:

Through deception, each of us can become blind to our own sin at any given time. No one is immune from this possibility. The most susceptible are those who have such a high opinion of their worth and stature the very idea of their fallibility and sinful tendencies escape them. Such “right” supremacists would no longer think it possible to be unaware of or compromised by their own sin than they would think anybody else could possibly serve in their place. When this high-minded attitude is resident within professional Christian leadership, it serves as an obstructing hidden sin against abundant living for those in their care. Hence, it is far too often the case that those who lead congregations do so according to their own will since they are not fully obedient to the will of God. This is not the picture of Jesus working through a person, but a person working of his own accord.

Therefore, many spiritually hungry and unfulfilled seekers of life have unknowingly committed the sin of appropriating for themselves leaders other than Jesus. The Lord makes it very clear that He is the only Good Shepherd, and though a believer may gain assistance from a person of more mature spiritual standing, such a person must never occupy the foremost place of authority in a believer’s life. Such facts bring us to the sad conclusion that many Christian leaders and/or pastors are not true shepherds at all, but mere hired hands. They might indeed care somewhat for those in their congregations, but they certainly don’t possess the same level of care as the Good Shepherd. As hired hands whose salary stems from the pocket of their congregations, they can get by without being tapped-in to God’s payroll and yet maintain their ministerial credentials. The shepherdless sheep, however, are not quite as artful and are often scattered by the wolf. [3]

HOME GROWN WOLVES

While churches have been hyper-sensitized to all manner of possible minor deviations from doctrinal and cultural protocol arising from the congregation and (Aghast!) mysterious visitors, no one ever looks in the other direction. The dude in the pulpit is thus most often immune. He is rarely queried. As long as he gets the denominational doctrine right people look the other way. This would explain the previous passage regarding sin in high places. Where then, would the enemy strike? Would the enemy seek to clandestinely enter the well guarded congregation, the laity class, where every member must always toe the mark and squeal on those who don’t? Or would he attempt a takeover by going after those high and lifted up with little or no accountability that control the operation? We should all know that the devil will always try to gain control of the few in control in order to control all. This is yet another reason why such false Christian authority positions are highly vulnerable to temptation. It is the opposite, of course, with legitimate, accountable, and transparent Christian eldership groups. These men act in the service of the Lord Jesus and not only watch over the flock but each other as well.

Could this be why the clergy boys double down and also establish protective manned check points toward their hidden ivory towers? And condition the congregation to never question “them that have the rule over you?” Do they set up all this protection to keep people from finding out what they really are and what they’re really up to? This is a far cry from the way the Lord Jesus and His followers ever conducted themselves. The “One Man Show” Ruling Paradigm has thus done great damage to the Lord’s management model and has had a devastating effect on what could have been regarding American Christianity’s positive impact on the country. The enemy has gained a beachhead:

 Christianity in general has become too stodgy and complacent to be changed by Him in any appreciable manner, since the will of the people for His control is greatly lacking. Revival and/or renewal do not address the root of the problem, and this consequently demands a new approach. The people who are at least trying to obey Him in this regard are finding some success, and their new-found fresh spiritual forays contrast sharply with conventional methods. It is in comparing the two that we discover a glaring truth.

When the splitting of community became official, it easily did more to thwart God’s plan for evangelizing the world than anything else man has devised. The reason why is simple—ninety-something percent of the membership was removed from the process. The “laity” was deemed unqualified for officially ordained Christian service and, consequently, unworthy of receiving God’s call. Yet, there was a time when all believers heard the call of God, and each person heard it from Jesus Himself. At the present, due to the entrenched tradition of the clergy-laity division, many Christians never consider the possibility of devoting their lives to God because they have been made to think that God only chooses certain rare holy ones for His work. If this is true, the Lord is breaking His own commandment by judging a good many people as unqualified before they ever get a chance to prove themselves.

The only thing which actually disqualifies a person from ministry is the same thing which disqualifies him from membership in the Church, and that is simply a lack of full commitment to the absolute Lordship of Jesus. There is nothing inherent within any sincere believer which disqualifies him or her from the Lord’s service—somebody else’s service yes, but not the Lord’s. Every Christian needs to know that all legitimate calls to ministry come only from the Lord, and each should be encouraged to find his or her place of service. There are abundant ministry needs to address, very few who feel worthy to address them, and many who were discouraged from entering the Lord’s service by inept ministers who were more than likely never called themselves, at least, not by God. [4]

ESTABLISHING DOMINION THROUGH ARCHITECTURE

Why are church building interiors arranged like theaters, auditoriums, assembly houses, and ancient Roman amphitheaters, with platforms and stages, and lecterns and pulpits? The Lord’s original apostles and the entire first century Christian Community never appropriated any of these. Instead, theirs was an organic fellowship utilizing available organic means. For example, they never had any central meeting house but always met in private homes. They took care of one another. What one lacked another provided. They steered clear of any institutionalism, prideful shows of earthly power, or dominance over the people dogma precisely because they were spiritually powerful humble servants, exactly as their Lord commanded them to be.

This question of church buildings thus pretty much answers itself for those paying attention. To go along with clergy dominance, it helps to create imposing material representations of said dominance. The people need to know who’s in charge. It began about 1700 years ago with the first “cathedrals.” They simply transformed Roman government structures for Christian use and then continued with the government model to showcase their rule over the people. Never mind that the Lord Jesus never engaged in such earthly nonsense. When did the Lord and His men ever advocate for the building of static church buildings? There were no church buildings for three centuries and the early believers managed to turn the world upside down anyway. The Lord’s kingdom was and remains a spiritual kingdom devoid of the mandatory trappings of earthly kingdoms.

Also, when did the Lord Jesus ever act like a duded-up ruling potentate preaching down from on high to the lower class? Is He not the most humble Man who ever lived? Did not the Creator Himself choose to present Himself that way? Why did God enter this world like everyone else, as a mere babe? Is He teaching us something with His perfect attitude? Is He not our perfect example?

There is a massive disconnect in this area. When presented with such information most Christians simply stare and say nothing or get angry and go into defense mode. This is highly unfortunate. I am not saying that good is not being done in traditional Christian settings. But such tradition has most often been a huge drag on what could otherwise be accomplished. And nothing subverts the process more than a solitary strong man in control dictating anything and everything, and building according to his vision instead of the Lord’s vision. These ruling pastors (and this is a perfect grammatical definition) are most often working in direct opposition to the Lord Jesus rather than working in concert with Him. The Lord is thus forced to support them in part because of the limited good done in such places since they are on balance better than nothing at all.

STUDY TO SHEW THYSELF APPROVED

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. [2Timothy 2:15] 

Imagine rightly praising your first grade child for doing well in his or her school work. Then imagine the idea of praising him or her when the child continues to operate on a first grade level in the second or third grade. Then think about what happens when kids are passed on to the next grades when they never complete the required course work for their previous grade. You will eventually have some really ignorant children and teenagers that simply cannot handle the work which the grade they were passed to requires.

Did you know we have an absolute epidemic of ignorant children in schools? That we have ignorant teenagers actually graduating from high schools? That some of these are actually attending college? In the early years of this country, roughly three centuries ago, children were learning new languages. They were reading the classics at early ages. They were reading the Word of God and understanding it. They had difficult course work but many were mastering it. Have you seen the bright but disciplined children in this world mastering musical instruments? Have you noticed how some children learn practical work at early ages and later become masters at their trades?

We do a great disservice to children by allowing them to be dumbed down rather than instructed properly toward higher levels. How many people notice the miracle of very small children somehow learning complex grammar and language at the age of two to three years old? How did their grasp of grammar and vocabulary suddenly shoot through the roof? The so-called experts have no answer for this. It defies evolutionary thinking. It is impossible that the children learned it on their own. It is not possible to teach it. They acquire a great amount of information and ability at an extremely young age and begin working out complex problems when they should not be able to.

Then they are placed in “schools” with extremely limited learning environments with forced low common denominators that cause their revved up rocket engine minds potentially taking them into outer space to be downgraded to virtual Model T’s and in other cases horse and buggy technology that make it difficult to get on down the road and impossible to travel any appreciable distance. Rather than continuing toward epic flight they are forced into slave galleys pulling at oars to support the institution and its parasitic inhabitants and leaders instead of the other way around.

This exact dynamic has transpired in American Christianity. The arrogant clergy boys and their sycophants have created institutions that serve them instead of serving the people. The people suffer. Christians never get the teaching they need or the Biblical and spiritual knowledge they require. These Pharisaical leaders almost never create a single disciple but maintain dumbed down “congregants” who rarely progress and are next to worthless spiritually. Most American Christians have never had a real born again experience. Most have never read the Bible. Most are Biblically illiterate. Most have a dirt foundation with a future fall. It is almost never the case that such eternal church-going Christians cannot learn or be properly discipled as the Lord clearly commanded. It is that true discipleship is at odds with the traditional curriculum. Keeping the congregation dumbed down and under control is a much better management model because it’s a much better business model. It is better to keep everyone in elementary school perpetually to keep them coming, giving their money and support, and maintaining the rule of the clergy and local “pastors.” The last thing they want is people doing things the Lord’s way. I mean, if everybody developed as real ministers of the Gospel and actually graduated, how could that be good for the local church?

SUPPORTING THE COUNTERFEIT

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” [Luke 6:46] [5] 

Why is it that most Christians never properly compare the Lord’s ministry style with their own and comprehend the night and day difference? Is it simple cognitive dissonance? Why do so many Christians look upon the Lord Jesus, the original apostles, and the first century Church as primitive and even wacky, and their methods those of a long dead culture that could never work in the present? The reality of the matter is that the Lord’s management model, which is the perfect model, is rejected not because it doesn’t work or cannot work but because it conflicts with what Americans Christians have built in its place.

Why do so many Christians support the Pastor Paradigm? Why does the majority continue to insist on supporting a failed model? The official model is a counterfeit substitute that falls short on many levels. It is why American Christianity in general continues to deteriorate and lose influence. Look around! America and Americans are suffering! Real Christianity is under attack! It is only the current Great Awakening which largely exists outside official channels that is allowing for a vehicle through which the Lord can work. Sound familiar?

They refuse the Lord’s full authority, refuse His perfect management model, and refuse to allow the infusion of spiritual life that so many are desperately praying for. For them it will always be business as usual.

“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” [Matthew 23:8-13]   

© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] © 2001 Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

[2] © 2001 Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

[3] © 2001 Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

[4] © 2001 Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

[5] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE PARABLE OF THE CHURCH CHAIRS

Then Peter and John went to church.

It was the day after the Sabbath. The new padded church chairs had arrived from Antioch. The tasteful gray tones of each identical chair matched well with the muted shades of the carpet and fabric-covered acoustic wall panels.

Strolling to the front row, the two apostles looked forward to seeing their own new church chairs with their names scripted tastefully on the backrest, but otherwise denoting a pure spiritual humility in that the chairs were identical to all the others.

They had learned this from the Master, who had decided it best to no longer sit in His huge and decorative platform throne but down among the little people in a regular chair. And His new chair was a regular chair like all the rest, of course, except for being gold-plated, just a tad larger, with His name embossed, and with special wiring and comports to facilitate better communication and access to His laptop.

The usual comforting din of low voices and polite conversation had ceased momentarily as the two great men took their seats on either side of the big chair in the center of the first row like all the rest. Church was about to begin. All was in good order.

The church song leader and choir director strode to the front. Also known as Pastor of Music, he was beaming. Some thought it was because his new contract increased his salary to match that of the top 5% of mega church song leaders and choir directors across the land. But others whispered something about a new friend. The congregation had always admired his polished taste in manner and clothing, as well as his unashamed emotive expressions and being able to cry so easily at the moving of the Spirit. He always worked very hard at putting forth an excellent expression of taste and unity toward the outside community. He handpicked and/or created the choir robe fabrics, wall hangings, platform arrangements (though he abhorred the term “platform”), and all else associated with his music and performance. He believed that God deserved the very best and was thankful for the generous monetary outlays which allowed him to give God the very best.

At last, the moment that everyone anticipated had finally arrived—the time had come for the church members to enter and stand in place among the rows of new chairs. The joy was palpable. There was a kind of hush all over the church.

Within seconds all was quiet. All children below the age of thirteen had long since been tucked away out of sight in Sunday school rooms and all the precious little toddlers and infants in their Sunday best were ensconced in the large permanent cry room and nursery far in the back. Amid the dignified and inspirational silence, the church lights were dimmed, and the low opening strains of introductory live instrumental praise and worship music commenced. Since only standing was allowed during praise and worship, trying out the new church chairs would have to wait. Thankfully, though many were tempted, every single person in the congregation continued standing and no one gave in to temptation, though many were sorely tried.

Some were visibly saddened on this momentous day because the Master would not be in attendance. If only He could be here! Instead, and much more important, He had a church business meeting in Jerusalem regarding the purchase of a new plot of land near the old city of David to build a new satellite church facility including extensive grounds for multipurpose use in sight of the Temple Mount. Among the attendees of the church business meeting would be highbrow Sadducees and high-level temple priests who had no little concern at such a radical-appearing move of the young upstarts. They were especially concerned about the large parking lot and the effect on traffic flow, not to mention further strain on the local Gihon Spring water supply. But Christianity must prevail, of course, regardless of such outright persecution.

Praise and worship had finally ended. After almost an hour of standing and singing, some with arms raised, most congregants were ready to take a rest and try out the new chairs. After resisting temptation for so long several people hesitated. But those who sat instantly felt the difference! The new chairs were a hit! Although the previous padded pews had been quite comfortable, the padding in the new chairs was better, and even more relaxing. Some of the older church members were sad at the loss of their favored pews, but the pews were deemed much too “churchy.”

Though not nearly as dignified as the stately old state-of-the-art padded pews in muted taupe, the new shade-of-gray padded stackable chairs represented well the new freedom everyone was feeling—the chairs lightened the mood and helped bring the local church into the twentieth century. Of course, the chairs had to be fastened together in clearly delineated exact rows with perfect spacing and placement. But unlike the former pews, these new chairs were not bolted to the floor. That particular fact alone was an obvious unspoken cry of freedom and spiritual liberty.

The brand new chairs, like each congregant, illustrated very well the clear New Testament concept that freedom of spiritual expression should be greatly encouraged but never allowed to go so far as to affect controlled unity, church uniforms, or correct and proper attitude and decorum. Though such facts were much appreciated by those of the older generation, they would have to understand that church must be brought closer to the original model, though even many young adults were concerned that change was happening too fast. But they appreciated the freedom to dress down somewhat and be more comfortable.

Some of the younger men actually got together beforehand and made a pact, vowing to bring the church into even greater liberty by no longer wearing neckties with their business suits. Though applauded on one level, these boat-rocking young men knew that such a radical move would cost them when unpaid entitled staff positions became available. And they could forget about church valet parking without a considerable increase in gratuity. Such is the cost paid by spiritual pioneers.

It was now time for the preaching to start. The Lord had left the Apostle Peter in charge, of course, as He always did when He was on the road. The Apostle Peter was noted for being the first among equals and relished his place in the pecking order. As the Lord taught, the big man was to be addressed by his title and never his name, hold his head high, and walk in the dignity of his office. And unlike the religious Pharisees who insisted on wearing specialized ecclesiastical clothing, the Apostle Peter, as did the other apostles, dressed instead in the simple attire of mere business executives and CEO’s.

Being second in command to God was certainly okay under such circumstances. The Apostle Peter celebrated the day by wearing a brand new blazer with a new gold “key” motif on the front, designed specifically for him by the Pastor of Music and fashioned by a local tailor who had also received the contract to make the choir robes, special singer costumes, and general performance attire.

Then, exactly on cue, with the Apostle John looking on (who was also looking forward to the day when the Apostle Peter would get promoted to Senior Pastor of the new satellite church so he could have his own opportunity to preach on such occasions when the Master left town on important church business), the Apostle Peter arose from his humble new front row padded church chair and strode toward the huge handcrafted wood pulpit atop the platform, climbing each step with dignity and decorum, his head held high, a servant to all.

It had taken him years to get the smell of fish off his hands.

© 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.   

KARMA CHICKENS HOME TO ROOST: THE UNFORTUNATE FALLOUT OF UNACCOUNTABLE CHURCH AUTHORITARIANISM

Many church-going Christians in America, a probable majority, are currently acting powerless in the face of tyrannical secular overreach because they’re long conditioned to be subservient to strict clergy control.

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DO NOT GIVE HIS GLORY TO ANOTHER

There is only ONE Person deserving of all praise and honor. If Christians honored this ONE Person the way they honor their preachers/pastors/ministers/priests/reverends, the response to our present circumstances would be swift and powerful. That it is not is due to centuries of church conditioning that renders Christians largely harmless to the enemy, primarily because they have surrendered their God-given authority to authoritarians and high hat ecclesiastics more interested in power over Christians than serving the Lord to foster power within Christians.

We have the perfect example in the Lord Jesus. He had to die to release us from bondage. His intent was to free us from the prison of sin, usher us into abundant life, and empower us to stand, as He did, against all enemies. His example did not allow for a mere lone potentate on a platform throne but a sea of Spirit-filled believers let loose in the world to tell everyone the Good News and defeat every single spiritual enemy in opposition. His example, teaching, and spiritual equipping created spiritually powerful people willing to do battle anywhere and everywhere. They were never a collection of docile sheep silent and servile under a single high and lifted up human subsidiary or some absolutely unscriptural vaunted hierarchy with a dominant pyramid topper, but a collection of equals under the sole authority of the ONE who died to save them.

The Lord Jesus was the only ONE the early Community of the Lord honored above themselves. They honored each other laterally as sisters and brothers, and served one another as sisters and brothers, and lowered themselves to the status of servants but only in ultimate service to the Lord. They served one another not according to the standard servant-authoritarian paradigm but for the love they each had for one another. The Lord taught them to do just that and to even prefer their brother. This allowed not only for the destruction of human pride but also obliterated any idea or desire of taking charge over one another. This attitude allowed for an otherwise impossible dynamic in that the original Christians were both humble to the nth degree but powerful enough to whip demons and take their names.

Speaking of which, if so many of today’s pastors can’t even stand up to obvious attacks against Christianity and one’s calling, and stand up for the people they are supposed to be serving, and instead teach their congregants to stand down without a fight, which also involves standing down against clear violations of the American Constitution, does anyone really think these compromised authoritarians are fighting unseen spiritual enemies? If they refuse to stand up against petty tyrants—those in the process of seeing just how far they can go to restrict or even eliminate Christian freedoms—how can they possibly stand up against unseen demonic forces?

AUTHORITARIANISM AT ALL COSTS

And therein lies the rub. For the Christian authoritarians to be in charge it means the Lord Jesus can’t be. Now, please don’t get me wrong here. The Lord is in charge anyway, everywhere, in an overall sense, but He allows the possibility of being voted down. He never forces Himself upon anyone. Does Hebrew history reveal anything with greater destructive spiritual impact than this one primary fact? —That God is sovereign but the Hebrew nation rejected Him repeatedly? Why then is it so difficult to see Christians doing the same?

It’s different in one sense, however. The Israelites never made rejecting God a traditionally accepted practice. They always knew it was wrong, that is, whenever they actually had a mind to think about it. Also, the prophets, when they weren’t dead, never ceased to warn the authority thieves of their illicit behavior.

For Christianity, though, and I am certainly speaking in general terms, clergy dominance did not only become an accepted tradition, it became foundational policy to trumpet at all times. Once the people were thoroughly cowed (sound familiar?) the big boys let up, but still insisted on building and maintaining the outward structure of control. It is in part why most church formats all look the same: There is a restricted area up front or raised platform with platform thrones and sacred pulpits, and down below or beyond there is the mass of powerless nobody little people all lined up side-to-side in lateral rows staring over the back of each other’s heads dutifully supporting their betters. One group is very small, compensated, and overtly respected. The other group is very large and must find their own way in the world. Does this look like Christian fellowship? Does it look like the spiritual interacting of the people of God? Does it even look like Scripture? Why do theaters, concert halls, opera houses, Roman basilicas, and ancient pagan temples have the exact floor plan?

DOMINANCE AND SUBMISSION

The greatest trick the devil ever perpetrated was convincing a few prideful bigwigs to elevate themselves over everyone else and demand subservience. Why? Because in the process it removed 99% of Christians from viable ministry. It turned a massive untold number of believers into passive non-workers so those who wrested control could have full control. Remember, however, though it might be hard to understand now, the original Christians were world-changing devil-busters filled with the power and love of God who wreaked havoc on the devil’s evil kingdom and rescued millions of people from his clutches. They attacked hell en masse and took no quarter. They knew what their purpose was and achieved it every day. They were the direct opposite of passive pew-sitters allowing the few in charge to do whatever they want. Is it any wonder, then, that the history of Christianity is filled with the abuse of power? Is it any wonder that evil at the top grew without restraint? Who was rightly checking it? Who was holding them accountable? Who is holding them accountable at present? I am being very kind here. I could go on. It would be somewhat akin (to an infinitely lesser degree) to the Lord’s rebukeathons against the Scribes and Pharisees. There is no end to the subject matter.

Whereas once false Christian potentates ruled with an iron thumb, murdered masses, persecuted real believers, and demanded even their own people to grovel before them, the greater aspect of today’s abuse involves a mass misallocation of funds. Most of the money given is spent unwisely and inappropriately. It is spent on the accoutrements of this world and comparative little is given to those who need it most. Not only have the great bulk of Christians been relegated to the sidelines, their individual ministries are rarely or never supported, and certainly not financially. Meanwhile, a few have no end of funding. Some of those in the clergy class know the money allocation state of affairs is inherently incorrect and one-sided (because they still have the modicum of a working conscience) and consequently reduce their takings to what may be termed a sensible amount. Others, however, go whole hog. They rake it in like gangbusters and have a ball. There is often no end to their excess. They always have a tendency to spend it on the wrong things, which mainly involve their personal lives and the material trappings of their fiefdoms. They will also send assistance elsewhere, often far elsewhere, but neglect faithful brother Jones and supportive sister Smith sitting right there in the congregation.

FOLLOW THE LEADER, NOT THE CLERGY HANDBOOK

One may wish to remember the Lord’s example. If He did not allow any extravagance for Himself (or pretty much anything), where do such Christian leaders get their authorization? Again, it’s not from Scripture but from a false Christian tradition. And if anyone might be thinking the actual problem is not the clergy barrel as a whole but only a few bad apples within it, why don’t other Christian leaders call them out? One denomination doing this to another doesn’t count. That’s often just religious/political backbiting and posturing. Each denomination believes it has the best interpretation or expression of Christianity and thus rejects the others. They do this to protect their status as distinct Christian cults and will always protect their own even if their own are guilty. It’s called protecting the brand. The higher up the ladder you go, however, the more corrupt it becomes because they have more power to shield the guilty. The corruption then spreads downward through their corrupt policies.

A better example may be the polyculture associated with Christian TV. Apparently all these different people with all their different backgrounds and all their different doctrines have no problem with one another. Have you ever seen anyone on Christian television openly rebuke and call out the frauds among them? Is it because there are no frauds? Is it because they think it’s not “Christian” to do such a thing? The truth is that many are chicken, compromised by the same process, and don’t want the spotlight shining on them (or all weapons turned in their direction). They are all drawing from the same money well. Therefore they forego any possibility of being a corrective force. It proves they collectively have no interest in reform. This is absolutely no different than the dynamic played out among the ancient Hebrew prophets and evil kings. Those connected to the kings knew they better keep their mouth shut. The prophets, however, said to hell with that and refused to be silent. Have you ever seen an actual prophet in this sense on Christian television?

Imagine much of the power of that medium being wasted because many of those in control are no different than most politicians. The latter ilk are often compromised entirely and are usually controlled puppets, world class rip-off artists, or both, and this is why they talk but never act unless it’s in favor of their lobbyists et al. Sound familiar? How much money and support has been going to Washington forever? And things keep getting worse for the country. Meanwhile, Christian television, multiple mega churches, and scads of ministries all across the nation have a preponderance of money, equipment, and locations to preach from with their congregations in full support, but the country keeps going to hell. Maybe it’s because their stuff is in the hands of the wrong people. You can’t expect someone who refuses to clean up his own act to clean up larger venues. How long will we keep going through the motions to nowhere while souls are not being reached with the real Gospel? The people who could do the job and are doing their best with what they have routinely get mothballed, blackballed, or disfellowshipped in a complete reversal of the actual intent of fellowship. The ones who should get disfellowshipped are the faux controllers and their supporters. (In reality this has actually happened, though in reverse, in the sense that it is easier for one or a few to leave. See Luke 9:5.)

Since those interested in truth and reform always amount to a small minority, the controllers believe it is better to kick out a few, render them inconsequential, or cold-shoulder them into oblivion. This has caused all those who remain to fall into the clergy worship trap which renders them powerless. Perhaps this is why you can never count on them to come through when spiritual effort is most needed. The powerful spiritual DNA is gone because they removed it. The great frontline soldiers with all the grit and determination were seen as way over the top for the sensitive spiritual reality rejecters. And the leaders like it much better when Christians are simple-minded and docile who never, ever challenge them. They fight anyone else. The only ones left are thus easily controlled. It’s the religious equivalent of putting strong little boys on Ritalin to neuter the strength God gave them in order to make them behave and fit within a contrived, inhumane round-peg-in-a-square-hole system in which all must be coerced into silence and servitude.

This is how the elite in charge have transformed Christianity. Instead of developing dedicated disciples per the Lord’s direction they contrive collectively constrained converts under clergy control.

Real Christians are thus largely off the radar. They don’t fit so well once gaining maturity. It’s the same thing with the country. The elite in charge vote themselves excess and merely patronize their “constituents,” especially at election time. America used to be a great country filled with strong moral people but is now inhabited by a seeming majority of selfish, apathetic, and dependent unawares without a clue or the gumption or ability to right the ship. The real patriots who can right the ship are constantly under attack which makes it difficult to mount a charge. And then there’s the quite successful divide and conquer strategy which always seems to rear its ugly head in times of spiritual progress.

The same has also always been the case in Christianity. A few Christians get it right and attempt reform to the Lord’s original standard but sold-out authoritarians crush them to the best of their ability with the silent support of the majority. The guilty party has obviously decided on planet earth as their heaven which renders spiritual graduation into eternal life essentially undoable. They may have a rude awakening upon casting off their mortal coil.

They likely will not see what Stephen saw when his time came.

© 2020 by R.J. Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

In the Beginning, Real Christians Didn’t “Go To Church” to “Have Church.” Real Christians ARE the Church.

         The following post is in answer to an excellent comment from one of my long time faithful readers found in the comment section here. I have always appreciated her support and insight. We have never met but have established a good rapport over the last several years. From my perspective, we are a good example of how two Christians might not believe everything the same but want to stay in fellowship anyway. This is what all believers should strive for.

 

         Thank you. Your comment brought many thoughts and memories to me as well. In my extensive church career I have been a member of the very big and very small. I have spent time in mega churches. I have spent time in many small house groups, some which were official “churches” and some not. I presided over my own group for several years. I learned early on that we will never be able to make disciples as the Lord commanded unless we change the focus to much smaller groups so each person has an excellent opportunity to develop. In my case it didn’t matter what size church I attended because I learned most of what I know through my own individual study and walk with the Lord, but I appreciate having a well-rounded perspective.

         No preacher should be “rich and famous.” Those who love the spotlight and insist on taking control are not demonstrating the humility of the Lord. They are not in it for the right reasons. Maybe some of them started out well but backslid into the usual false paradigm. The more the big shots claim their head honcho status the more the rest of the congregation must be relegated to irrelevance. They are not allowed to develop. The Lord ends up losing scads of potential ministers because the one guy claims it all for himself.

         In smaller groups this would not happen. People have a much greater opportunity to contribute and develop. Seeing the ridiculous seas of silent humanity in the vast majority of “churches” sitting back and doing nothing except honoring ad nauseam the lone dude in the pulpit or spotlight in no way represents real New Testament Christianity. The Lord and the early Church never did it that way. Each group of believers was relatively small and had several mature ministers who brought different gifts and abilities. Those were true communities of people in which everyone was contributing in a substantial way. They were no mere spectators, which now make up the vast majority of church-goers.

         People walk in the light they have. It appears that your parents struggled to keep it all together at times serving the Lord over many decades and greatly succeeded. They never looked back. How blessed they were! We play the hand we are dealt. We do the best we can. We work with the tools we have. We try to get better. This agrees with the New Testament example.

         But the fake preachers want none of this. They want power and control and money and prestige. They want exactly the same things the false prophets of old wanted and what the Pharisees demanded in the first century. That false set-up strives mightily against the Spirit of the Lord Jesus and exists as the greatest opposing force to doing things His way.

       “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?” [Jeremiah 5:30-31]   

         Instead of these mega churches and large congregations we would be much better off with as many small groups as possible spread all over the countryside and urban areas to reach people where they are and allow every single believer to have a voice and a significant place in real ministry. This is actually happening and has been happening for decades but the big boys have also been very successful in keeping the movement from taking off. They fear their bottom line. They don’t want to lose their money, prestige, jobs, and market share.

         In reality, if most of these various congregations and mega churches, along with the few very influential rich and famous who run them, disappeared tomorrow, it would make little difference in the country. Most of them serve no real spiritual purpose. America has become a sin-filled empty spiritual shell compared to what it once was on their watch. And they don’t care.

         Real Christians must continue to fight for and stand up for the Lord Jesus. We must submit to Him, serve Him, and serve one another. We must preach the real Gospel. When we do, the very clear evidence of His presence and direction become obvious. The reason real revivals and spiritual awakenings are rare is because stubborn religious flesh wins most of the time. Real Christians are fought against and their efforts curtailed. Worldliness ensues. Unreal Christians subvert themselves to the sinful and rebellious culture. And they submit to the wrong people. Then the devil works through the vast presentation of religious and personal pride. He has a field day. These fake Christians leave the Lord Jesus in the lurch, that is, in a vulnerable and unsupported position.

         Whoever has enough money to build cathedrals and mega churches has far too much money. Such vast sums should instead be spent on people, and it is people who comprise the real Church. There are millions of the Lord’s real ministers who struggle every day due to a lack of funds and their ministries are more difficult as a result. But there are always available funds (billions) to build what are essentially extremely expensive and comfortable barns to house those who refuse the Lord’s full counsel. Most of the early cathedrals no longer exist or are mere ruins.

         History repeats itself.

        “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.” [Luke 6:46-49][1]

         © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

JESUS DESTROYS COMMUNITY DIVISION: ALL REAL CHRISTIANS ARE EQUAL AND SHARE IDENTICAL ACCESS TO THE LORD

         The Lord Jesus taught us that only He must be in charge. Most Christian leaders reject that directive. This is part of the reason why an alternative form of Christianity was created long ago.

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         Only the Lord Jesus is worthy of praise. Unless anyone out there has done what He did no one else qualifies. Yet we continue to have the equivalent of bowing before religious leaders and kissing their rings as if they somehow managed to grab a hold of something higher than the rest of us and land upon a leadership summit denied to everyone else. In reality, of course, no such place exists within His Community and never has.

         But for any readers out there not yet familiar with this blog and the faithful readers who have supported it for many years, you might have a problem with this simple fact. I say this because in many Christian circles this idea of a higher spiritual class with an extremely small qualified membership continues to persist. Nothing has changed concerning this concept except the surface facade, in that many of these have assumed casual dress and contemporary speech as a way to falsely bridge the gap or appear more relatable. Notwithstanding the Biblical directive to the contrary, people are still drawn to leaders who seem to have it all together but the greater part of their standing is based on mere appearance, and as I have said many times before, appearance is everything.

         Substance matters little. Before we go further, I will insert a single passage of Scripture to prove my point, though I could list many others. From this one passage we can see very clearly the truth the Lord taught in the beginning that has since been rejected by you know who:

         For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. [Galatians 3:26-29]

        In this single Scriptural passage lies the pure truth of a radical new paradigm and community association model which thoroughly destroys the concept of any clergy-laity class divide or pyramidal leadership model based on a dominating upper class wresting all control at the very top. In this one passage, taught very clearly to the apostle Paul by the Lord Jesus, exists the following:

ONE:

         There is absolutely no distinction whatsoever between what Paul refers to as Jew and Greek, otherwise known as Jew and Gentile. And within either there is no distinction based on race or nationality. In the Lord’s Community both Jews and Gentiles have exactly equal standing. There are thus (1) Believing Jews and Gentiles and (2) Unbelieving Jews and Gentiles. Inclusion in the Community is based only on faith in the Lord Jesus. Among those who follow the Lord there is no difference in status. However, many Christian Zionists will disagree with Paul on this point, as they believe it is possible to be a Jew and still be saved without the Lord Jesus, or that a Jew somehow has higher standing in the Lord’s Community.

TWO:

         If you are a slave or a free man it makes absolutely no difference to your place in the Lord’s Community. You are both absolutely equal. There are no class differences based on socio-economic status. Though we no longer have the high level of forced slavery in the world today as it existed then, slavery still exists in many countries all across the planet and forms of indentured servitude run rampant. This is especially true in dominating oppressive states which strongly fight real Christianity. For those of us who live in relatively free countries, we owe it to our Christian brothers and sisters in such countries to help fight for their freedom.

THREE:

         There is absolutely no difference whatsoever between male and female in the Community of the Lord. Both are equal. While this point may no longer be as radical as it once was in the free world, it was certainly radical when Paul wrote it and continued to be throughout history and most of the world. On the Day of Pentecost there were obviously both men and women among the 120 who were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in languages they had never learned. Among the women there who engaged in the practice was Mary, the Lord’s mother. Christian women might want to acknowledge this. Catholic women might want to especially acknowledge this. We have much knowledge of the role played by women in the early Church. They were often those who made their houses available for spiritual meetings, which was a very dangerous practice in those times. (Remember, there were no official “church buildings” for three centuries and real Christianity was illegal.)

CLERGY-LAITY DIVISIONS DISRESPECT THE LORD

         As an associative point in this discussion, the clergy class came into existence based primarily on economic opportunity and thus education level. This notion continues to persist in that only few Christians apparently have a high enough education level required to be a member of today’s clergy (regardless of denomination). Almost everyone else, regardless of their education level or spiritual standing, accept this class division as Gospel truth when it is clearly no such thing. Thus, the 99% for the most part sit passively and silently in the pews and are completely on their own as individuals, as opposed to the very small higher class which mans all the pulpits and collects all the donations. Why more Christians do not see this otherwise obvious violation of Scripture attests to its long-held traditional standing and inherent subterfuge. It exists to keep the majority of Christians uneducated, silent, out of the spiritual workforce, and to serve the clergy class rather than the Lord.

SERVANT LEADERS

          And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.” [Luke 22:24-26] [1] 

        The Lord Jesus taught that all of His children are on equal footing. There are no distinctions and no class divisions. He created no clergy or laity. He created no church or denominational hierarchies. If anything at all, those members of His Community with more authority, which is based only on greater spiritual maturity, are subjected to greater servanthood. In other words, they pay a higher price in blood, sweat, and tears. Perhaps this is why so many Christians want nothing to do with ministry.

         Yet, EVERY SINGLE REAL CHRISTIAN IS CALLED TO SOME FORM OF MINISTRY. To reject one’s calling is a sin, and unrepentant sin causes a big relational problem with the Lord and one another, and will eventually cause one to lose one’s soul.

         The institutional clergy refutes the fact that all are called to serve because its members want to corner the market (and have). Once the majority of such people gain control they then manage to not even answer their own callings, if they ever did to begin with. Thus, the entire process results in removing pretty much everybody from real Christian service.

         And we wonder why Unreal Christianity is failing…

         © 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Americans Deciding with Their Feet: The Ongoing Exodus from Traditional Christianity (1)

         Several years ago, an elder relative was bemoaning the state of his traditional church. “It’s nothing but a few old people,” he said.

         Of course, he was one of the old people. The church was dying.

         This phenomenon has been happening all across the country for several decades now, as traditional churches fight to maintain their existence while also fighting to resist any change for the better.

         In big metropolitan areas the problem is not perceived as much since many churches manage to keep the pews full. The problem, however, remains. It does not go away simply by increasing or maintaining attendance, because many of these churchgoers are mere new transplants from elsewhere or the next generation of existing families. There are extremely few new converts in these places.

         Regarding the next generation, a new Pew Research Center report  reveals that only 27% of Younger Millennials attend religious services on a weekly basis. Younger Millennials are American adults born after 1990:

         “As older cohorts of adults (comprised mainly of self-identified Christians) pass away, they are being replaced by a new cohort of young adults who display far lower levels of attachment to organized religion than their parents’ and grandparents’ generations did when they were the same age.” [1]

         For the past twenty-five years I have been writing and teaching about this subject, and warning that American Christianity’s insistence on maintaining a dying status quo would cost it severely in the future. Few listen. Many who are listening have been deciding with their feet, regardless of any warnings. They decide to leave because American Christianity has been dying a slow death for many decades. They notice this phenomenon, as those with vision notice any obvious institutional pretense, in that the ones who buy into a false, unsustainable, and dying method are blind to its relatively short life expectancy.

         American Christianity of the twentieth century had devolved into saying one thing and doing another as standard operating procedure. It had adopted the enterprising spirit of the times, in that success was measured in the same terms that businesses and professional sports teams are measured—there must be backsides in the pews and the backsides must have healthy wallets.

         For those who did not have the wherewithal, as did the Catholics and large Protestant denominations, to build large buildings to house their flocks, some new Christian enterprises bought giant tents and moved them from city to city.

         Regardless of what appeared on the surface as decidedly different approaches to Christianity and completely different belief systems, the one thing that stayed constant was that “Christianity” must possess large containers (church buildings) and put large groups of people in the containers on a regular basis (congregations), and these people must be willing to support this non-Biblical concept monetarily.

         However, the Lord Jesus has always had a different plan—the right plan—and He began revealing much spiritual light in the very midst of, and against, the enterprising, false “Christian” revival which was based on the popular political propaganda of those times.

         It was in the bustling and burgeoning post-war 1950s when this populist form of American Christianity reached its peak, and it was toward the end of the 1950s when the Lord Jesus made His move toward real revival… [To Be Continued.]

         © 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] © 2015 Pew Research Center: U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious

The Parable of the Church Chairs 2013

       Then Peter and John went to church.

        It was the day after the Sabbath. The new padded folding chairs had arrived from Antioch. The tasteful gray tones of each identical chair matched well with the muted shades of the carpet and fabric-covered acoustic wall panels.

         Strolling to the front row, the two apostles looked forward to seeing their own new church chairs with their names scripted tastefully on the backrest, but otherwise denoting a pure spiritual humility in that the chairs were identical to all the others.

         They had learned this from the Master, who had decided it best to no longer sit in His huge and decorative platform throne but down among the little people in a regular chair. And His new chair was a regular chair like all the rest, of course, except for being gold-plated, just a tad larger, with His name embossed, and with special wiring and comports to facilitate better communication and access to His laptop.

         The usual comforting din of low voices and polite conversation had ceased momentarily as the two great men took their seats on either side of the big chair in the center of the first row like all the rest. Church was about to begin. All was in good order.

         The church song leader and choir director strode to the front. Also known as Pastor of Music, he was beaming. Some thought it was because his new contract increased his salary to match that of the top 5% of mega church song leaders and choir directors across the land. But others whispered something about a new friend. The congregation had always admired his polished taste in manner and clothing, as well as his unashamed emotive expressions and being able to cry so easily at the moving of the Spirit. He always worked very hard at putting forth an excellent expression of taste and unity toward the outside community. He handpicked and/or created the choir robe fabrics, wall hangings, platform arrangements (though he abhorred the term “platform”), and all else associated with his music and performance. He believed that God deserved the very best and was thankful for the generous monetary outlays which allowed him to give God the very best.

         At last, the moment that everyone anticipated had finally arrived—the time had come for the church members to stand in place among the rows of new chairs. The joy was palpable. There was a kind of hush all over the church.

         Within seconds all was quiet. All children below the age of thirteen had long since been tucked away out of sight in Sunday school rooms and all the precious little toddlers and infants in their Sunday best were ensconced in the large permanent cry room and nursery far in the back. Amid the dignified and inspirational silence, the church lights were dimmed, and the low opening strains of introductory live instrumental praise and worship music commenced. Since only standing was allowed during praise and worship, trying out the new church chairs would have to wait. Thankfully, though many were tempted, every single person in the congregation continued standing and no one gave in to temptation, though many were sorely tried.

         Some were visibly saddened on this momentous day because the Master would not be in attendance. If only He could be here! Instead, and much more important, He had a church business meeting in Jerusalem regarding the purchase of a new plot of land near the old city of David to build a new satellite church facility including extensive grounds for multipurpose use in sight of the Temple Mount. Among the attendees of the church business meeting would be highbrow Sadducees and high-level temple priests who had no little concern at such a radical-appearing move of the young upstarts. They were especially concerned about the large parking lot and the effect on traffic flow, not to mentioned further strain on the local Gihon Spring water supply. But Christianity must prevail, of course, regardless of such outright persecution.

         Praise and worship had finally ended. After almost an hour of standing and singing, some with arms raised, most congregants were ready to take a rest and try out the new chairs. After resisting temptation for so long several people hesitated. But those who sat instantly felt the difference! The new chairs were a hit! Although the previous padded pews had been quite comfortable, the padding in the new chairs was better, and even more relaxing. Some of the older church members were sad at the loss of their favored pews, but the pews were deemed much too “churchy.”

         Though not nearly as dignified as the stately old state-of-the-art padded pews in muted taupe, the new shade-of-gray padded metal folding chairs represented well the new freedom everyone was feeling—the chairs lightened the mood and helped bring the local church into the twentieth century. Of course, the chairs had to be fastened together in clearly delineated exact rows with perfect spacing and placement. But unlike the former pews, these new chairs were not bolted to the floor. That particular fact alone was an obvious unspoken cry of freedom and spiritual liberty.

         The brand new chairs, like each congregant, illustrated very well the clear New Testament concept that freedom of spiritual expression should be greatly encouraged but never allowed to go so far as to affect controlled unity, church uniforms, or correct and proper attitude and decorum. Though such facts were much appreciated by those of the older generation, they would have to understand that church must be brought closer to the original model, though even many young adults were concerned that change was happening too fast. But they appreciated the freedom to dress down somewhat and be more comfortable.

         Some of the younger men actually got together beforehand and made a pact, vowing to bring the church into even greater liberty by no longer wearing neckties with their business suits. Though applauded on one level, these boat-rocking young men knew that such a radical move would cost them when unpaid entitled staff positions became available. And they could forget about church valet parking without a considerable increase in gratuity. Such is the cost paid by spiritual pioneers.

         It was now time for the preaching to start. The Lord had left the Apostle Peter in charge, of course, as He always did when He was on the road. The Apostle Peter was noted for being the first among equals and relished his place in the pecking order. As the Lord taught, the big man was to be addressed by his title and never his name, hold his head high, and walk in the dignity of his office. And unlike the religious Pharisees who insisted on wearing specialized ecclesiastical clothing, the Apostle Peter, as did the other apostles, dressed instead in the simple attire of mere business executives and CEO’s.

         Being second in command to God was certainly okay under such circumstances. The Apostle Peter celebrated the day by wearing a brand new blazer with a new gold “key” motif on the front, designed specifically for him by the Pastor of Music and fashioned by a local tailor who had also received the contract to make the choir robes, special singer costumes, and general performance attire.

         Then, exactly on cue, with the Apostle John looking on (who was also looking forward to the day when the Apostle Peter would get promoted to Senior Pastor of the new satellite church so he could have his own opportunity to preach on such occasions when the Master left town on important church business), the Apostle Peter arose from his humble new front row padded church chair and strode toward the huge handcrafted wood pulpit atop the platform, climbing each step with dignity and decorum, his head held high, a servant to all.

         It had taken him years to get the smell of fish off his hands.

         © 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.   

The Classic Church Building: A Non-Biblical Wineskin (Part 2)

         “No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” [Mark 2:22]   

         Throughout all of man’s history, the one constant form of physical structure which has accounted for 99% of all buildings on the planet is the simple family dwelling. Be it a hut, a tent, or something more extravagant, it is home. Houses, therefore, have forever been ubiquitous. Even in modern society houses greatly outnumber all other buildings. The farther one goes back in history, the more the percentage rises. Hence, the private home was then and remains now the best ministry tool of all time, and the early believers proved it.

         All throughout the Book of Acts is the record of private homes being used in ministry. They began by going “house to house.” The house of the upper room was most likely the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark. After his Damascus road experience, Paul was taken to the house of Judas where he met Ananias. Peter was staying at Simon the tanner’s house by the sea. Paul stayed at and ministered from Lydia’s house in Philippi. The home of Jason in Thessalonica was obviously used for ministry. Paul also lived at and ministered from the house of Titius Justus in Corinth.

         Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; also greet the church that is in their house. [Romans 16:3-5]   

         Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. [Colossians 4:15]

         Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. [Philemon 1:1-3] [1]

         Church buildings are not New Testament archetypical. They can be good. They can be useful. They are possibly great on a temporary basis. But they are very costly and high maintenance. They sometimes cause more problems than they solve. And the number one reason is because they are slow.

         I played softball with a guy once who had to be one of the slowest guys in the whole world. He was not overweight. He was physically healthy. But I could make it to second base before he ever got to first. Once, a dim coach actually put this gentleman in front of me in the batting order. In that game, he had somehow made it safely to first base. Then I came up. I got a hit that would normally easily get me to second base and maybe third. But when I rounded first base my buddy was only halfway to second. Doh! He barely made it there. I’m standing on first when I might have made it to third. And I was not the fastest guy on the team.

         American Christianity has slowed considerably. Despite all the latest technology it has grown sluggish, materialistic, and weighted down. It is no wonder it is failing so badly. The Community of the Lord Jesus was built to be fleet of foot, in shape, slim and trim, on the move, and filled with energy, but also strong in its own right. American Christianity has grown in size as has the population and as a result has long since given up sprints. The problem is doubly bad in that we don’t have the strength for weight-lifting competitions either. In general spiritual terms, though traditional American Christianity has church buildings everywhere, we’re simply not getting the job done, are routinely outclassed, and often overrun. People “go to church” forever and never get to know most of the people in the congregation.  

         On the other hand, there is a relatively new wineskin in this country on the rise. It has remained true to the gospel but has sloughed off old forms that slow and restrict. It is having a tremendous impact.

          House churches and small groups have exploded in the country over the last two decades. Its proponents are quick and mobile, and do whatever possible to reach the lost and disciple the up and coming. There is no way to stop their progress. They need little or no funding. They reach places traditional Christianity rarely reaches. They touch hearts. The organic nature of a small group allows the Lord to be in charge. One cannot hide in a small group. Everybody is somebody. Through much learning and many spiritual trials, home church practitioners have developed the same ministry forms of the early centuries of Christianity. They are motivated by love. They stand on unity. They live to serve.

         The Lord’s original model is presently being applied in more places in the world than ever before, and is impacting the lives of millions that would otherwise never be reached. Mobility is the key. Instead of one large physical building, there are scads of many smaller buildings. Some have no buildings. By this they much more easily follow the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, and cover a lot of ground. And they are having miraculous Lord Jesus-caliber results.

        Also, they understand that each real believer is a house—the real building—a mobile tent wherein lives the Spirit of the Lord. Collectively these comprise the worldwide Community of Called-Out Ones independent of the traditions of men. On those occasions when church buildings supplement the work of God and exist according to His will, it is good. Otherwise, we must follow the Lord’s example, trim down, get quick, and make the necessary transistion to the future. His work demands it. [Part 2 of 2] 

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

The Classic Church Building: A Non-Biblical Wineskin (Part 1)

         The Community of the Lord was built for speed. It began in the upper room of a house. The early Church had no time to even consider the things we in the present deem wholly indispensible. They were out to save the world. The Community was expanding by leaps and bounds. Growth was rapid from the very beginning and never slowed for three centuries. It began on its very first day in Jerusalem with a harvest of three thousand souls.

         Imagine that. Many churches of today work for long decades to accumulate a few hundred loyal members. Many are presently trying to keep what they have and are failing miserably.

         It was twenty years ago when I began receiving from the Lord the notes and revelations that would eventually become my first book. But I knew by the 1970’s, within a very short time of studying the New Testament by Holy Spirit inspiration that modern Christianity did not match up at all with the prototype. And I wondered why.

         I quickly got the big idea. I eventually spent thirty years in institutional churches, including my youth, gaining much experience of all that is good about church buildings and that which is not so good. There is no question that the latter outweighs the former.

         First of all, church buildings are simply not Biblical. The Lord never built a building nor did He ever instruct His men to do so. He was never on board with the rich, connected Sadducees who controlled the Jerusalem Temple. Though He often preached in synagogues when welcome, He spent the majority of His ministry time out in the open, in the woods, along the Sea, and on the beaten paths. He was always moving. Always. The Lord Jesus was mobile. The tabernacle in the wilderness was mobile. It was a tent. It was set up, used, taken down, loaded up, transported to a new site, and set up again.

         The Lord taught His men to be mobile. He taught them to give up all their possessions, in part so that they would have nothing tying them down when it came time to move on. The apostle Paul was also constantly on the move. There were occasions when he stayed local to teach and establish a work and then he was off yet again. The traveling man was so mobile that the Lord blessed him with a perfect location to end his life on earth—on the side of a road outside Rome.

         The Lord had no place to lay His head. He occasionally stayed with others but He mostly slept under the stars. He was on a mission. He had work to do. He could not afford to be slowed down.

         It is as obvious as it can be that the early believers followed His example. They were as mobile as He was, and a perfect representation in spiritual terms of the tabernacle of Moses, which was a type of mobile ministry centered on human beings.

         Conversely, our ministries are most often centered on church buildings. We are often bound by church buildings. We can’t get them out of our heads. We cannot imagine life without them (“How can I go to church if there’s not a church?”). For the most part, Christians feel absolutely naked without the comfort, security, and anchor of a building.

         Yet, the majority of Christians throughout history never had buildings. The majority of real Christians on the planet today do not have buildings. But they have the Lord. They are dedicated. They are productive. And they are fast. They can break camp quickly and move to new locations, so to speak. Some of the travel real Christians do is in the Spirit. It is not always geographic. We live, we learn, we gain revelation and greater knowledge, we mature, and then we have to leave old forms, understandings, and perspectives and create new ones based on such. Core Biblical truths are thus granted greater freedom and opportunity to produce much fruit. Isn’t this our goal?

         Static forms always slow. They restrict. We end up trying to force our ministries within such structures. But are we really having an impact on society? How can we when we force others to come to us instead of us going to them?

         Here’s the real beauty of the Lord Jesus and his manner of ministry: He needs nothing material on a permanent basis. Because He is God, He can create anything He needs whenever He needs it, so why must He accumulate a bunch of stuff to schlep around? All it does it slow Him down and restrict ministry efforts. The bulk of His work is in the spiritual realm. If He wants or needs stuff He acquires it. But when it is has served its purpose He gives it away or sells it, and usually gives the money to the needy. Then He starts again. He will not be bound by anything. He is as free as free can be. He builds nothing that grows sluggish as long as He is in charge. [Part 1 of 2]

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.