*This was originally a post on Facebook*
I probably see at least 10 memes a day I disagree with. I'm not talking about political memes, or just weird stuff, I'm talking about "Biblical" memes. Pictures people share that you can look at and read in 20 seconds or less, hit like, share, and think we’ve proven your case.
I usually just roll my eyes and keep scrolling. If I had to respond to everything I disagreed with on the internet, I wouldn't have a life. Sometimes I want to "correct the world," but then I remember, that's not possible. Sure, there are times when I see one that is accurate and clever, and I'll chuckle and say to myself, "that's right," and hit like.
A big problem though with this stuff is it desensitizes folks from studying. It's much easier to just scroll through Facebook, see something you like or agree with, do a 5 minute Google search (if that), share what you like, and then move on, acting like you are some kind of spiritual sleuth. It breeds laziness. Few spend a lot of time studying any more. People will even read a post like this one, get as far this point (maybe) and think, "Man, I ain't got time to read one of these long posts." That might be you right now. 😃
Anyhow... I ran across this picture the other day (shown below) that said, "Where did the church meet?" It listed 13 Bible verses, and out beside each of them said something about a house. I saw person after person sharing it, and then as I would read posts and comments under posts, I'd also see that folks acted like... "das it." Believe these house verses or you're just in bondage to organized religion. There was also the tendency to think that coming together in a house just meant everyone gets equal say, we all get to take turns teaching, and there's a warm, cozy feeling that comes along with that.
I have been involved in home fellowships before, and I've been to some good ones. *I don't believe there is anything wrong with a fellowship of believers meeting in a home on Sabbath.* But I also don't believe there's anything wrong with a fellowship of believers meeting in a synagogue, or a "church building," or a rented room at a hotel, or under an oak tree.
What “got my goat” right from the start was how this picture presented home fellowship as the only place the "church" (early fellowship of believers in the NT) met. As a matter of fact, the very first scripture cited on the picture, Acts 2:46, says that the early believers met *at the Temple.* It says, "And every day they devoted themselves to meeting together *in the temple complex,* and broke bread from house to house." The picture below just says "Acts 2:46... 'house to house,'" and leaves it at that.
When Yeshua walked the earth, his custom was to go to the synagogue on Sabbath (Luke 4:16). That doesn't mean he didn't go into homes and minister to people, sharing the scriptures with them, but it does mean that when Sabbath came, his custom (habit, manner, that which he was used to doing) was to enter a place of worship and participate in the prayers, readings, listen to the teachings, sing psalms, etc. Someone might argue, "Well, synagogue just means an assembly of people." They are wrong. That is not what synagogue "just means."
Matthew 4:23 says that Yeshua taught "*in* their synagogues," (also Matthew 9:35; 13:54). Mark 1:21 says he *entered into* the synagogue and taught. That's talking about a place of worship; a place specifically built for people to come to on Sabbath and fellowship under the banner of the Almighty. Time and time again you find verses like this in the gospels. Just do a search on the word synagogue and synagogues in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
An interesting verse I found while I was teaching through Luke's gospel was Luke 7:5. This verse speaks of a well known centurion, know among the Jewish people of that area and time, building a synagogue for true worship. The people told Yeshua that the centurion "loves our nation and has *built* us a synagogue." That's a building folks, and the construction of it (financing) was looked upon as a prestigious act.
There's another verse that gets overlooked due to its English translation, James 2:2. James speaks of a man coming into a meeting (HCSB) or assembly (KJV), but the Greek word is synagogue (sunagoge). James is here writing to believers in the Messiah (1:1). (Acts 22:19 and 26:11 mentions that Saul of Tarsus, prior to his conversion, persecuted those in the synagogues who believed in Yeshua as the promised Messiah.)
Acts 15:21 is another one. Long story short: the new, Gentile converts to faith in Messiah were placed under four basic guidelines after their acceptance of Yeshua, because as they attended synagogue service, they'd hear the rest of the law of Moses taught, and they'd grow in grace and knowledge in time.
See, all this got left out of the picture below, and therefore the picture was misleading in its content. But this is not the only misleading content in the picture.
Another problem is that the first 9 verses in the picture don't even talk about home fellowships; only the last 4 verses. See, the first 9 verses in the picture only speak of people's homes. They say zero about people holding a Sabbath service or holy convocation inside of a home. In other words, those 9 verses are NOT about "house churches."
Acts 2:46 just mentions believers sharing meals in different homes. I'm sure they were talking Scripture, just like I do just about every time I sit down for a meal, but the verse isn't about a "house church." Acts 5:42 is speaking of the Apostles of Yeshua proclaiming the gospel at the Temple and in various homes; no "house church." Acts 8:3 just mentions Saul of Tarsus dragging people out of their homes; people who believed in Yeshua. When it says "Saul was ravaging the church," that's a text that shows the church is more than a place of worship - it is the people. That doesn't mean a church has to be less than a place of worship, it just shows that it is more than a place. You can have a place but no people. It is the people who are primary in making up the church.
Moving on, Acts 10:2 just says Cornelius feared the Almighty with all his house. Nothing about a "house church." Acts 12:12 mentions the house of Mary mother of John Mark, and it says people had gathered there to pray. They were there praying because Peter had been thrown into prison; nothing about a "house church." Acts 16:32 just mentions Paul and Silas sharing the gospel with a jailer and all his house, speaking of his family. Acts 16:40 just mentions Paul and Silas going to Lydia's house to encourage some brothers. Acts 18:7 just mentions in passing Titius Justus' house, and then goes on to mention that his house was next door to *the synagogue,* i.e. place of worship. Acts 20:20 mentions that Paul taught in public and from house to house.
Not a single one of these verses I've just mentioned, the first 9 verses on the picture below, talk about a "house church." Someone may say, "Well, the last 4 verses do," and that is true and fine. Just put those last 4 verses on the pic. Why in the world would we want to manipulate 9 other verses, and then write nothing about the synagogues of the first century, and then share that pic? Here's why: people love tradition more than the Scriptures. That's the hard truth, and it's not just the "Christian Church" or "Christianity," it's also the “Hebrew Roots, Torah Observant followers of the Way.” People as a whole are more content to peddle something they think or like than they are to do the hard work of diligent study and research in the Scriptures.
This is why that picture will probably continue to get shared on Facebook and other social media outlets, but a more lengthy, detailed post like this will not. We are lazy, stubborn, and don't want to work hard; in the natural or the spiritual.
Ok, let me deal with something else. I believe the picture is also misleading in intent. I think most people sharing this pic do not like organized, structured church. I know this, because I’ve been in this “Torah movement” since 1997, and I’ve met and talked to hundreds (maybe over a thousand or more) people who have been hurt or let down by Christian churches who have turned into a business rather than a genuine place of prayer, worship, teaching, family of faith, etc.
Listen to me: I understand the hurt. I’ve been there. I’ve seen behind the scenes. I’ve heard pastors say they are running a business. I’ve listened to sermons that had little to no scripture in them, and what verse where there were taken out of context. I’ve watched people get stabbed in the back. I’ve watched people care more about their name than the name of Messiah. I’ve seen preachers live lavish lifestyles while congregants have little, or can’t pay a light bill. I’m with you. All of that is garbage. I don’t want any part of that.
But... don’t let the misuse of something turn you away from it’s proper use. People do this all the time in various ways. They’ll see something abused, and they’ll forget there is a proper use of that something, and get as far away from it altogether as possible. It’s like being bitten by a dog, and then you never want anything to do with dogs. Or being involved in an abusive marriage, so you think all marriages are trash. You shouldn’t operate like that. Just because you’ve been in a bad church doesn’t mean there aren’t any good, organized, structured churches.
The NT not only teaches about a place of worship (synagogue), but it also teaches about structure, order, and leadership. It’s not just a free for all. It’s not everything goes, or “we just do what the ‘spirit’ leads us to do.” No, no, no, that’s not taught in the Bible, but that is the mentality of the majority of people who only promote “home church.” They’ve had bad experiences, so they want to try something different, even if it means plucking a few verses out of the NT about church in someone’s home, and then forming a way to do church differently. I think a lot of times the intentions are good, but it ends up being more of a reaction to an abuse rather than a, "let's look at the Scriptures and see what a NT church should look like."
Acts 14:23 mentions that Paul and Barnabus appointed elders in every church they planted. An elder refers to a leader. An older man who is seasoned in the faith, and meets the qualifications listed for an elder in both Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3. In the list of qualifications, Paul speaks of man *managing his own household,* and then likens it to how this same man will be able to *manage the church* (1 Timothy 3:4-5). Paul also mentions that his directives were to appoint elders in every town, and he calls the elders overseers and managers (Titus 1:7).
When there was a dispute among the early church, the *apostles and elders* met and discussed (Acts 15:1-2, 6). Towards the end of the discussion, Peter spoke up, and then James settled the matter (15:7-21). Acts 16:4 mentions the decisions reached by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. There wasn't a free for all where everyone got to decide what was to be done. It was trusted, qualified elders who made those decisions. I guess someone could have stood up and tried to rebuke James and Peter, but they would have been in the wrong.
Acts 20:17 mentions that Paul sent for the elders of the church. 1 Timothy 5:17 mentions the elders that rule well, and it even goes on to say that they are worthy of ample honorarium, which is double financial support to what the genuine widows are receiving, because the elders labor in word and doctrine, or work hard at teaching and preaching. James 5:14 mentions calling for the elders of the church to pray over one who is sick or weak. 1 Peter 5:1-4 is an exhortation for the elders of the church to feed the flock, take oversight, and not do so out of greed for money or a desire to lord over people, but to set a righteous example for them.
There is also 1 Corinthians 14 which mentions that everything in the church should be done decently and in order (14:40). The context deals with the proper use of the gifts and talents inside the church.
I didn't mean for this post to be this long, lol... but I had to touch on these matters, because I think so many in the Torah Observant movement ignore them. They have a lone ranger mentality that thinks, "I can just stay home and read my Bible and that is my church." Others may meet with a few people on Sabbath, and don't get me wrong, that is great, but they then look down upon structured, organized church in a building other than a home. Again, I get that this stems from seeing abuse, but there are places that do it right rather than wrong.
I'll close with this. I am still learning, and I do not claim to be without fault, but I have been an elder in a congregation now for over 10 years. I'm not the sole elder. We have two other brothers who help teach, lead, and guide, and another elder who leads and guides more in a one-on-one teaching capacity. We don't always agree, and everything is not seamless, but we shepherd a flock of people. We gather weekly to pray together, read together, sing together, and then actually study the Bible. I teach through books of the Bible, or do multiple sermons on certain topics. Another brother does the same. Then we have a brother who teaches in more of an encouraging, edifying way, and that is good, because we need balance. It can't all be dotting i's and crossing t's. We have to have doctrine *and* encouragement. We have to laugh *and* cry. We have to study *and* be encouraged.
We also have a testimony or prayer request "service" after the teaching, where people can share what's on their heart, ask a question, give a prayer request, etc. Sometimes it's therapy. Sometimes people cry as they share. Sometimes they laugh. Sometimes we open the Bible back up and discuss what's been taught. Sometimes we debate back and forth. All of this is healthy.
This can be done in a home or in a synagogue. I don't look down on "house church," so long as the Biblical guidelines are followed. But please don't look down on or believe that holding meetings in a "church building" or synagogue is bad or second class. Having leadership is not bad. There is such a thing as good men who lead in gentleness and by example, with a light yoke (like Messiah; Matthew 11:28-30).
I believe that structured, organized, weekly fellowship is so important, that if you live somewhere where you don't have this, you should seriously think about doing some research online and move to a place where you can have this. Praise Yahweh we have technology today whereby we can fellowship across a computer screen, but you can't hug a computer screen. You can’t sit down and have coffee, and reach out and shake hands over a computer. You can't really get to know someone unless you spend personal time with them. Being around someone for an extended period of time causes you to get to know the real person, and build community. And you really shouldn't trust a man or his message until you examine his life. That verse from 1 Timothy 3:4-5 shows this.
I realize some people can't move or re-locate. I realize some people are elderly and not very mobile. Some people are locked in financially. In these cases, I will tell you what I would do. I would find a small, local church that had good leadership, and I would join. And I wouldn't join to try to stir up trouble, I would join to add grace, joy, and knowledge to that fellowship. I would see where ministry was needed, if needed. I'd offer my gifts and talents to the church. I'd help out whenever and with whatever I could. I'd get to know everyone there. I wouldn't beat people over the head about Christmas or pork. Some of y'all need to read that last line about 10 times. I would just serve the church, and as time and Yahweh allowed, I'd share with the pastor or elders, the things that I believe Scripture teaches and emphasizes. And I'd share with patience, because goodness knows Yahweh has been oh so patient with me. I would do all of this, because I believe so strongly in local, weekly (and beyond) fellowship.
Anyhow... this is why I just scroll past most memes or pictures I don't agree with, lol. I don't have time to write posts like this every day. But sometimes, I just can't take falsehood being shared over and over again. I love the truth too much.
I did a job for an elderly man today. Born in Italy, then raised in New York as a teenager. Ended up he is now a Baptist. 82 years old.
He told me he loved his great grandmother, and she always encouraged him to read the Bible and listen to the Lord. He said he ignored her completely, until he was about 40.
One evening he was flipping through the channels, and Billy Graham was on preaching. This was like the late 70’s. He watched and listened carefully. His great grandmother came back to his memory. The message provoked his heart. He knelt down in the living room and said, “Please Lord forgive me of my sins. I want my life to be for you.” I thought that was beautiful.
I didn’t try to correct this old man on anything he said. I just listened and smiled, and I kinda teared up a little once. He was speaking from his heart. I respected where he is at in his walk.
He did end up asking me where I went to church, and I answered him briefly, and ended our talk by sharing with him the meaning of the word Hallelujah, and left it at that.
We are not commanded to fix anyone. We are commanded to plant and water seeds, and let Yahweh give the increase. There’s likely a lot I wouldn’t see eye-to-eye with him about. I’m not big on Baptist doctrine, lol, but I love me some Baptists! 😃 The point is that I could have smothered him with feast days, dietary laws, tassels, or the lunar-solar calendar, and a whole bunch of other stuff... that yes is important, but would have turned him away had I became pushy and belligerent... like I see so many do on social media.
You’ve got to realize that people aren’t going to listen to anything you have to say if you just pound them over and over and over. The Bible isn’t to be used as hammer to nail people down.
“Do you ever get forceful brother Matthew?” Yes. Yes I do. Mainly when I’m talking to pastors who’ve been leading people for 20+ years and aren’t doing anything but making money off of folks. I get pushy. I may even seem a little mean. But I save it for those who should know better, not for people who are seeking for the truth the best they know how. Believe it or not there are so many good hearted folks in the world who walk in all they know to walk. Just like you and I do right now. Ain’t none of us got it figured all out.
I’d encourage everyone to take a deep breath, and just try to love people. “That never works!” Yea, yea, yea... It’s never worked for you because you have never tried it. You may have tried it for a day, but you’re flesh couldn’t stand it, so you went back to thinking you could pound the truth into somebody.
Please... slow down. Love people where they are at. Help them. Be a neighbor to them. Listen when they talk. Shut up for a while. Just be like the Messiah.
Anyhow... that’s been going through my head most of the day. ✌🏼
— So when I tell the wicked person, ‘You will surely die,' but he repents of his sin and does what is just and right — he returns collateral, makes restitution for what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without practicing iniquity — he will certainly live; he will not die. None of the sins he committed will be held against him. He has done what is just and right; he will certainly live. (Ezekiel 33:14-16, HCSB)
NOTE: Repenting of one’s sins means doing what is just and right. If there is no doing, there is no repentance. Repentance here is described as reversing one’s actions. Going from sinning to obeying.
— “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord! ' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Matthew 7:21, HCSB)
NOTE: There is saying and there is doing. You can sing to the Lord. You can say you love the Lord. You can shout out “Lord, Lord!” with tears in your eyes. But it is only those who *do* the Father’s will that will be in the kingdom.
— Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don't start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones! Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn't produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:8-9, HCSB)
NOTE: These Judahites were saying one thing but showing another. John the Baptizer basically says, “Quit talking, and start doing.”
— They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work. (Titus 1:16, HCSB)
NOTE: Profession doesn’t equal possession. You can say you know the Almighty all day long, but be denying Him the entire time by your works. It’s no different than a man who tells his wife he loves her, but never spends time with her, never does anything for her, and cheats on her. Does he really love his wife? Would a wife trust him after years of abuse because he said he’d changed, or would she need to see works over time and re-build trust that way?
— But if anyone does not provide for his own, that is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8, HCSB)
NOTE: The way a person denies the faith here is not by saying “I deny the faith.” A person may never deny the faith by saying such, but yet they’ve denied the faith by not *doing* something.
— This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” yet doesn't keep His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: (1 John 2:3-5, HCSB)
NOTE: Again, we have people who say they’ve come to know the Creator. How do we tell who’s telling the truth? We look for the ones who keep the commandments.
It is error to base someone’s repentance off of their words. People say, “Well were not God, we don’t know their heart.” Listen... Yahweh has given us humans a way to know someone’s heart: by their actions. It’s no different than knowing which tree is an apple, pear, or peach tree. You know a tree by the fruit it bears. You know a person by the works they do.
Yahweh is not unable to save a person like Benny Hinn (or Ted Bundy, or any other criminal you want to name). I am not denying the saving power of the Almighty, or saying that anyone is out of Yahweh’s reach. People who have heard me preach or read my posts should know better than that.
I am saying that the proof of salvation will not be found by listening to a polished speech. You don’t even trust a used care salesman like that.
If someone’s known for ripping people off for the last 20 years at a used car lot, you don’t go to that lot. If you see a commercial where the guy says, “I’m different now. Good cars for a fair price are sold by me now. I’ve turned over a new leaf.” Do you march over there the next day and get all excited about the man’s change? Of course not. You judge his words by his actions from that day forward.
Over time, you can watch a person who says they’ve repented. Trust is built by repeated action. No one is perfect, but a repentant person will try to be. They will be sorrowful, and humble themselves because of the wrongs they’ve done. They will be okay with giving people time to see the change in their life. They won’t expect immediate acceptance.
If you’re comfortable with rejoicing over words that’s on you. I’m not. What Hinn needs to do is record another video clip him him explaining how he is going to repay people one at a time, and give his belongings away. He’s made enough money from preaching to last 100 lifetimes. It’s time to give back, and live the rest of his life frugally. Over time we will hear people’s testimonies of how Hinn gave them money to pay off their house or car, or gave people groceries, built people homes, etc.
He also needs to start teaching Scripture exegetically, or either step down and let someone else take over who can do so. Even in the clip he just rambles. There’s never any expository teaching.
Don’t be fooled by snake oil salesman. Know the Scriptures, or else the devil will deceive the heaven out of you. ✌🏼
I hesitated to post this, but I express thoughts here that I would otherwise probably hold in. It helps me mentally to get my feelings out.
My Grandaddy is sick, and I’ve been using all of my extra time to go and sit with him. Sometimes we chat. Sometimes I just sit there as he sleeps or watches TV land.
Grandaddy is one of the best men I know. He has shown me nothing but love for almost 40 years. I grew up beside his house, and then I lived with him in high school. I’ve never heard him complain about me, and he’s never spoken anything but positive words to me. In life’s biggest mistakes, he was there to hug me and tell me it would all work out. He would roll with it, and wouldn’t even get on to me when I’d mess up. The love he’d show would automatically make me want to do better.
I’ve watched him love and help people who couldn’t care less. I’ve watch him give to people who never intended to give back to him. I’ve seen him open his home to strangers. I’ve seen him show love and forgiveness to people that were undeserving. When folks couldn’t catch a break, Grandaddy would give them a break.
I don’t know how much longer I’ll have him here to talk to. I pray he gets better, but I realize it’s appointed for each of us to take our last breath. I’m spending as much time with him now, so he’ll know even more how much I love him. That’s what life is about anyway right?
The other day I sat there and watched him talk a little, and nap, and smile, and shake his head. I remembered how he would take me to the store when I was little; too many times to count. “You wanna’ go to the store grand-darlin’?” he’d ask.
I spoke up and said, “Grandaddy... do you want me to go get you something from the store? Anything?” He looked at me, and then looked away. About 30 seconds passed and he said, “I think I’d like a doughnut and a Coca-cola.” I told him no problem, and me and my sister went and got him (and Grandmama) some doughnuts. Grandmama asked “How many doughnuts are you gonna’ get?” I told her “I might get a dozen.” She smiled and shook her head. She wanted the chocolate ones. 😃
I love my Grandparents. They’ve lived in the same house since 1962. Grandaddy told me he built it for around $10,000. That was a while back, lol. It does my heart good to go back there and sit with them in this same house. I have so many good memories inside those walls.
I could probably write a book about him, but I’ll stop here for now. I may post a lot more as I remember, because he’s pretty much all I’ve got on my mind currently.
Thanks for reading a bit about my Grandaddy.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.