already exempt

I AM the ekklesia. But I am not a religious institution. I have no tax-exempt status for them to take away. With money or with no money I am able to do whatever He calls me to do, and leads me to do, to serve and help any and all others in the flock of Christ. HE is the one who equips me and provides me what I need, to care for others. Not the government.

YOU ARE the ekklesia. But you are not a religious institution. You, an individual person, have no tax-exempt status that they can take away. They cannot prevent you from functioning as you are called to function in Christ. They cannot prevent you from doing His will, as He leads by the Spirit and as He speaks with words. With money or with no money, you are able to do whatever He calls you to do to serve and help the least of these His brethren. HE is the one who equips  you and provides you what you need, to care for others. Not the government.

You are already exempt from “tax exempt”. There is nothing they can “take away” from you. And no one can stop you from helping, teaching, giving, and caring for others; from living His life, the kingdom within you.
http://time.com/3939143/nows-the-time-to-end-tax-exemptions-for-religious-institutions/

4 Questions to ask before joining a Church

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8

This post is a response to this article by the “The Gospel Coalition”:

Link:  4 Questions to Ask Before Joining a Church

1. Is this a Church where my family will be safe from sexual predators? Is this a Church where my family will be safe from deceptive pastors who will do anything to cover up evil in order to protect and preserve what they have worked so hard all their lives to build?

2. Is this a Church where I am convinced I will not be lied to by the endless false doctrines and traditions of American Churchianity?

3. Is this a Church where my family will experience truth and freedom and love, and not shame, bondage, lies, oppression, condemnation and shunning? (And disenfranchisement if we question anything or speak truth?) Is this a Church where the PASTORS have accountability and do not circle the wagons in “good old boy” fashion to protect their kingdoms (Churches/ministries) and reputations, fame and income, at all costs?

4. Is this a Church where I am allowed to use my gifts and serve Christ and the saints by the leading and power of the Holy Spirit, as led and directed by God, without having my work and service nullified, shamed and disallowed by the Church Clergy hierarchy? Is this a Church where I am allowed to obey Christ above the Church leadership and not submit my service to Christ, my conscience and very soul to the “Clergy”?

Important final note: You and your family must understand that it is Christ who is your Lord, not the Institutional Church, not the “Clergy” (self-appointed pastors) and not the religion and hierarchy of Roman Catholic based Hierarchical Christendom. You must understand that you are accountable to Christ Jesus who leads you by His Spirit. You must understand that you are not under the authority of “local shepherds” you are under the authority of Christ. And understand that YOU, saint, also have authority in Christ not just the “Clergy” which is a man-made construct of the Roman Catholic Church, based in ancient paganism and religious Old Testament Judaism. You have authority; you are a priest of God, yes you. This wonderful truth is brought to you by the Kingdom of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord. The Kingdom of God is within you.

You must understand this hierarchy, with men lording it over you, is not of Christ, that you are all brothers, equals in Christ and free in Him to love God and neighbor and serve according to the leading and power of the Holy Spirit. You must all submit to one another, it is not about the lowly “laity” submitting to the higher ranking “Clergy”. You must understand that men requiring you to be under them in an authoritarian hierarchy of lordship over you, is sinful and not of Christ. Watch out for men who want you to submit to their “shepherding” (control and dominance and suppression) of you.

You must understand that it is being IN Christ that makes you part of the flock, not attendance at an institutional, man created, 501c3 Church business franchise. You must understand that Jesus Christ Himself is the real Shepherd and you all are the church (ekklesia, the called out assembly) and wherever you are, with other saints, there is the church, there is the people and flock of Jesus Christ. You may meet in a dirt floor shack, a coffee shop, an empty lot, at a kitchen table, on the street corner or in a prison cell. Christ is with you and in you (Christ in you hope of glory) and there you have the church, wherever YOU are, dear saint of God. Do not let the hireling “shepherds” lord it over you, shame you or stop you from being who you are in Christ.

Do not let them lie to you and deceive you. Do not let them shame you. Do not let them turn your joy of your first love (Jesus Christ) into a lifetime of oppressive bondage to serve them and maintain the existence of their man created, business marketing managed, flesh powered organizations. Do not let them turn your first love joy and Christ Life into a lifetime of serving, slaving for and financing a “Thing” to keep it going. (The man created Church System is a “Thing”, an “it”.)

Therefore friends, do not join a “Church”, join Jesus Christ and stay joined to Him. Listen not to Churchmen who are NOT focused on Jesus Christ, they are completely focused on The Institutional Church, especially THEIR CHURCH and making it “successful”. Jesus Christ is your Shepherd and you are in His flock. He will lead, guide and teach you. HE will care for you. Listen to Jesus Christ and continue in His word. You will know the Truth, and the Truth will make you free. Peace in Christ, my beloved brothers and sisters.

Firmly rooted in Christ

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. Col.2:6-8

Guest post by: Evelyn ‘Freeindeed’ Hawkins, aka Exit Churchianity.

If a so-called ‘pastor’ expects you to ‘stay planted’ in his “church” FOREVER, or until “he releases you” — then you’re dealing with a religious PRISON WARDEN and not a servant of Jesus Christ.

The body of Christ is a FAMILY, not spiritual inmates serving a LIFE SENTENCE at a religious penitentiary calling itself a “church.” Beware of fake ‘pastors’ who try to put you on lock down and falsely accuse saints of being “vagabonds” for fellowshiping from church to church. Nowhere in Scripture does it state or imply that Believers have to stay in ONE church.

Jesus didn’t set up a religious institution at ONE location and expect His disciples to stay there FOREVER. Jesus’ built an ekklesia (an assembly of Believers) throughout the Roman empire, and traveled from place to place ministering to individuals and groups for a season. The apostles did the same. None of the apostles taught Believers to ‘stay planted’ in ONE location or assembly their WHOLE LIFE, and that if they fellowshiped from place to place they were “vagabonds.”

The house that God planted you in is the BODY OF CHRIST (which is the house of God!), not a church-building or a 501 c(3) religious corporation. The house of God is not brick and mortar, nor is it a “creature of the State.” God doesn’t plant people in buildings or corporations. He plants and grafts people into Jesus Christ. He is the Vine! We are to stay planted and rooted in Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:6-8, John 15). This is what the apostles taught, and anyone who teaches something different is promoting a doctrine of men to keep you in their institution.

If God leads you to stay, then stay. But if God leads you to go, then go. Real servants of Christ will love you and respect you whether you stay or go, because they know that it’s not about THEM and their opinion of where you should be, but about Jesus and God’s will for your life.

By: Evelyn Hawkins

Jesus at my door

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Rev.3:20

Christ came to visit me. There He was! He stood at the door and knocked. I heard His voice
and opened the door and He came him in. I gave Him a warm hug. I was so glad to see Him.

We sat at my table and had coffee and talked. We laughed and I learned a lot listening to Him teach me deep things. We shared food together and talked more. We cried together,  yet we shared joy, encouragement and hope. I learned profound truth from just watching Him live His life. We had sweet communion together and shared friendship and the purest love.

ALL

For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 1Cor14

Not a male? Not a Clergyman? Not a Theologian? Not a pastor? Not an MDiv? Not ordained? Not an owner or employee of a 501c3 Church business? Not an owner or member of a recognized tax-exempt Ministry? Not “accepted” by the inner circles of Ecclesiastical Power? Not a graduate of systematic theology school?  Not a problem!

You may ALL prophesy!

You have no need of permission from someone above you in some hierarchy.

You also are ekklesia. You also have the Holy Spirit. The Lord also speaks to you. He also reveals to you. You also have a part to play. You also have something to contribute. Yes, you also may participate, along with all the others. You may speak to others what He has given you to speak. You may edify and exhort and proclaim.

That all may learn, and all may be comforted.

You have permission FROM GOD to prophesy. That Christ’s flock may be edified, taught, warned, comforted, encouraged, exhorted.

You are a member of the Kingdom.  His Kingdom is a Kingdom of priests. All the saints in the Kingdom are priests.

The ekklesia, His Kingdom, is made up of ALL the saints. You are a member of that ALL.

Christendom the mighty city

We would have healed Babylon, but she cannot be healed Jer.5:19 niv

..you great city, you mighty city, Babylon! Rev18:10 esv

Reformation

Christians who mean well and love God and His people, sometimes imagine they can help “reform” Christendom. They hope they can try to change it, fix it and make it more like what Jesus intended for His followers. They want to clean her up and try a new “look” on her, a new dress perhaps, different colorful adornments. But she remains unchanged inside. She remains the same “woman” under whichever color dress she is wearing.

Christendom, a world system, its formal structure and function, is not a work of God. It is a carnal work of man and the spiritual powers that are in opposition to Christ. Christendom is a work of religious power and political power and financial power. All the striving, writing, debating, disputations, councils, logic, academics, rhetoric, persuasion, programs, plans, governments, strategies, architects, kings, popes, priests, PhDs, bankers, lawyers and politicians in the world cannot fix it.

The work of God, through those who abide in Christ, is a work of the Spirit. This work of God in the Spirit, through Spirit-filled disciples of Jesus Christ, has been continuing along in Holy Spirit power, all this time, regardless of what Christendom has been doing. And these Spirit filled disciples do get revived, encouraged, guided, corrected, disciplined, exhorted, sanctified and brought to repentance directly by the Spirit of Christ. Thus Christ reforms the hearts of his people, His ekklesia that He is building Himself.

Our fellowship

ACTS 20

We are gathered together, all through the night, until the break of day…. “from house to house”, breaking bread (communion with one another, with Him), teaching, exhorting, consoling, encouraging and helping one another, eating together (when we can), declaring to one another what is profitable, preaching the kingdom to each other, warning and admonishing with tears, being an example (v35), reminding one another to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, praying, weeping, embracing, sharing fellowship together, accompanying one another… Acts20

 

 

The troublemakers

Guest post:

BE LIKE STEPHEN: MAKING THE RIGHT KIND OF TROUBLE

by: A. Brother

“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.”

Acts 7:55-58

When a man gets a full vision of Christ, and has his eyes opened to who Christ really is, and then seeks to communicate that fullness to others, he will run into trouble, and create much opposition.  Here we have that happening.  Stephen had testified to the full message of Christ in front of the religious establishment of his day, and he was rewarded by being dragged outside the city walls and stoned by a large crowd of men.
When any of us begins truly seeking to have his eyes opened to this fullness of life in Christ, and it begins happening, Christ in us will overflow to others, and the truth will often offend and even infuriate those who do not see.  It happened throughout Scripture, and it will happen to those today who make it their sole aim in life to know Christ, the fellowship of his suffering, the power of his resurrection.
My heart is grieving this morning over the state of the Body of Christ.  Not because I choose to be critical, or because I am legalistically imposing the measure of Scripture upon our current modes and methods of doing church.  But because I see the people of God like Jesus saw the Jews in His days among them, and wept.  I was raised in these churches, and spent many years trying to live the life they represented was the Christian life.  The Spirit of God grieves today at the hardness of our hearts, and the proud insistence that we know how to do everything Christian in the best way.
God’s people in our modern, affluent society are like sheep without a Shepherd.  Running to this man or that man who can speak well, or has written some landmark book about the Christian life.  Running after this or that new method, or clever program, or way of doing church that seems to breathe something new into their spiritual walks.
Scripture points back to Christ Himself, who is not only our Savior and Lord, but whose Life must be in us, whose Eyes must illuminate Truth to us, whose Mind must open us up to His fullness.  Our hearts must beat to the drum of His love in our chests.  This is what Jesus taught, that we are the branches to His Vine, and the Father the source of all nourishment.  That remaining in Him is the essential, and all other things are optional.
So why do we concentrate on the optional?
Today we have a plethora of pulchritudinous programming going on among Christians.  (Sorry for the cheesy PPP acronym).  That means a complete array of attractive systems for practicing and distributing the gospel.  The church has become like a spiritual candy store, holding out sweets and treats, hoping to lure people into attending.
Come here to church because we have so many services of different worship styles to meet your needs.  Come here and enjoy cappuccinos while you fellowship after worship.  Does your back get tired while meeting together?  Can’t see or hear the presentation very well?  No problem, we’ve installed expensive theatre-style seats and fabulous sound systems so you can concentrate on hearing the music and viewing the sermon in total comfort.  The Pastor is on a huge screen or multiple screens around the room so you can feel like you’re actually in a more intimate, personal setting.
Tired of traditions that bore you?  No worries, I feel you, we’ve done away with the things that take too much time and effort.  Communion is only hassled with on occasion, and then with little cups and tiny wafers, and love feasts among believers are a thing of the past.
Remember how Paul used to speak on and on to those early believers, cramming in Truth until late at night, meeting in homes day after day, gathering anytime they could find to be together, hungry for the Word, hungry for the Spirit to work, thirsting after righteousness like it was Life itself?  Forget about it!  We don’t need all that.
We have schedules to keep, and people to see, and business to conduct, and lives to live out in the world.  We’ve figured out how to do both!  Just keep your appointment with God in our services once or twice a week, or if you’re really zealous, meet for a Bible study, too.  That will set you on fire.
The reason we’ve settled for this type of Country-Club Christianity is that we have not understood the Christ-life.
We have been taught wrongly, by men who have only known the casual, easy gospel of modern, affluent religion, instead of the radical, revolutionary, life-changing, outside the city gates, stir-up-opposition-everywhere-you-go, stumbling-block, hate-inducing, cliff-edge, religion-destroying, faith- and love-filled Gospel of Christ that God absolutely will not allow to be contained in man-made systems or programs.
You can be a member of the Christian Country Club set, or you can be a member of the Body of Christ.  There is no middle ground.  From the birth of the Body, men have sought to impose their own religious mind-sets upon it, and have succeeded in the form of the huge Christian denominations and organizations throughout history.
The dynamic ekklesia, Christ’s church, which originally meant the “called out to be together” people of God, has been hijacked by religionEvery day more Christians get together and decide they want to form another group, or build another building to meet their needs.  Every day Christians make another list of options they want in their religion.  Every day Christians miss the simplicity of Christ, and His love and power, in favor of building another platform from which to proclaim an easy gospel.  With their list of choice options, they have managed to derail the Spirit of God from reaching men.  Like the Pharisees, they keep others out of the Kingdom as they are keeping themselves out.
The point is this:  Stephen saw what we must see.
Christ is all, and is our focus.  Not our methods and man-made options.  Not our forms of doing church.  We don’t worry about that.  We seek Christ, and He seeks us.  We die, He lives.  Individually and corporately.  Christ leads us by His Spirit, and dictates what we do and how we do it.
Today, Christ may do this.  Tomorrow He may do that.  Just as He did with His disciples, He is busy doing the Father’s work, and will not be pinned down as to where or how He’ll be doing it.  He looks for needs, and He responds.  Today He is in Bethany, tomorrow in Cana of Galilee, the next day in Jerusalem.  Today He’s healing people, tomorrow preaching from a hilltop, the next day He’s confronting the religious leaders.  He is ever meeting where two or three of us are gathered together.  He is not bound by our calendars and schedules.  And He would have us be more responsive and flexible, open to the Spirit of God to respond to one another and to His prompting.  Many of our modern churches are just as hide-bound and fixed in their ways as the highly liturgical churches they criticize.  They just have different traditions.
This dying to the Old Man and living to Christ in the New Man is a messy, hard, can’t-be-contained-in-traditions thing.  No carefully-programmed new church service format or electronic gadget is going to make this happen, or, more tragically, even allow this to happen.  There is no room in our carefully-scripted lives for God to move.
One thing is certain.  If you and I have the explosive, uncontainable Spirit of God in us, we will be like Stephen.  Seeing clearly the Christ we love and serve, and speaking of Him to whoever asks, no matter the consequences.  There is no room for compromise in the Kingdom of God.  We love and serve Christ, without any option.  That is the gospel, the good news of the Kingdom.  This hard, beautiful and ultimately impossible-without-God gospel that is Christ in us.
Like our Lord Jesus Christ, like Stephen, like a host of others including many around the world today, when we stand and tell the Truth from Scripture many will oppose us.  The fury of the oppressor, religious or pagan, has the same result.  The stoning of the one who sees.  The shooting of the Messenger.  The eradication or excommunication of the offender.
Be ready, brother or sister, if you seek Christ in all His fullness.  He will uphold you.
Visit the Narrow Gate blog by A. Brother here: The Narrow Gate

shamed

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. Acts5:41

In The Church I was shamed by the pastor for rightly discerning false teaching the camp and boldly calling it out. (Warning & exposing the darkness.)

In The Church I was shamed by the pastor for caring for and helping suffering Christians. (Loving one another; loving Christians.)

In the assembly (ekklesia) , I know that I am allowed to use my spiritual gifts that He has given me, as He leads me by His Spirit, to be a witness to the world, boldly preach truth,  to minister to & help the suffering, and to edify the saints.

And there, I am not shamed for doing so.