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It was a warm summer morning and Jill felt a cool breeze across her cheek as she left the house. She was on her way to church. As she gently stopped the car before backing out of the driveway her Bible suddenly fell on the floor. When she reached down to pick it up she noticed an old yellowed gospel tract that had slipped out. She looked at the title, ‘Consider Jesus’. For a brief moment her mind drifted back in time to her college years. She remembered how her friends told her they had ‘turned on to Jesus’. She remembered how she too had ‘accepted Christ’. She thought about the bible studies and the prayer meetings and how they would pass out tracts and tell their friends to ‘consider Jesus’. She thought about Patti, the first person she had led to Christ. Patti was now a missionary and Jill would receive occasional letters about how she and her husband worked with children in some poor country. As she began to drive she remembered how she used to trust the Lord even to the point of praying before she would leave her dorm. She thought about the joy and peace they all had. She had been ‘filled with the Spirit’ and Jesus was Lord. What had happened she asked herself as she reflected on her life? She had a good job, a nice home, and a wonderful husband who earlier that morning had taken the children to Sunday School. The church had just built a new sanctuary and even had a small food court. Then she thought about how she and her college friends would go to restaurants and open their bibles and talk about the Lord and leave tracts for the waitress. She then thought about how things had changed. What happened to the joy and excitement and how come no one got saved anymore? Then before she knew it she heard herself say ‘something’s wrong’. As Jill sat in church that morning she noticed that the sermon had almost no scripture in it. And as she left she thought about how she and her friends used to greet each other with ‘Praise the Lord’ and ‘Jesus is coming’. Then a strange thought entered her mind. This is wrong. This is all wrong. That evening she picked up her bible for the first time in a very long time and she began to write down some verses. When her husband asked her what she was doing she said ‘I’m just writing down a few things the Lord is showing me’. Then her husband remembered how he used to study the word. People used to say he was quite a good teacher. In fact that was what had first attracted Jill to him. Her friends had told her about this really good bible study and the guy who taught it really knew the word. As Tom watched his wife writing down Scripture he thought back about how someone had given him a bible and told him he was lost and needed a savior. Not only did he get saved but he was soon teaching a bible study. They often had to turn people away because there was not enough room for everyone who came. Then he thought about Sunday school that morning. He was teaching a class on Christian money management. He thought about the church. It was a beautiful building with a gym, a bookstore, a food court and a wonderful sanctuary with windows that looked out on a small lake on one side and grassy meadows on the other. They had wonderful music, a great choir, and the staff even had their own computer network. Over the altar which was really a stage hung a large sign that summed up the churches philosophy ‘A church where the lost and lonely find joy’. What a joke it all was. Tom had been troubled about it for a long time. With a lump in his throat he thought about the discipleship class he had tried to teach. It was poorly attended and eventually he began looking for more interesting topics that people would relate to. The money management class had been suggested by his friend Bill and people said it was really helping them. Finally Jill handed him a sheet of paper and said ‘Honey, you need to see this’. Tom was surprised that Jill had only written down a few verses. The first was about leaving your first love and another said that the people worshipped in vain honoring God with their lips but not with their hearts. The last was from Mat. 18 and said where two or more gather in Jesus name he is there in their midst. That night Tom and Jill prayed together. They still loved the Lord. But a strange awareness now came over them that they no longer had the dynamic Christianity they once knew. In fact, they now themselves had what they used to call ‘Churchianity’. What had happened to them?

CONSIDER JESUS

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It’s funny sometimes how the Holy Spirit works. Like the angel who troubled the waters in the pool of Bethesda Tom and Jill now had troubled spirits. As the weeks went by they realized even more that their church had little in common with the Christianity they had been introduced to back in their college days. They soon began to discuss the idea of inviting their friends to their home for prayer and to study the bible. Tom said he was going to talk to the Pastor about it. Jill asked him why. Tom said ‘well don’t you think we should’. Again Jill asked him why. Tom said ‘because he is our shepherd’. Jill said ‘Jesus is our shepherd’. Tom said ‘well he’s in charge of the church’. Jill said ‘Jesus is the head of the church’. Tom said ‘well he is the one who leads the flock’. Jill said ‘yes and he sure has led them by the still waters’. ‘You little rebel’ Tom said ‘you still have the fire of the Holy Spirit after all these years’. ‘Praise the Lord’. And so it was that Tom and Jill began a small bible study in their home. People from the church had little interest and the Pastor jokingly said they were regressing. At first Tom and Jill took things in stride but then one night someone came to the study and got saved. That night for the first time in many years with a little group of believers Tom and Jill wept at the foot of the cross. Tears of repentance and tears of joy flowed as they held each other thanked the Lord for what he had done. Once again the Holy Spirit was moving in Tom and Jill’s life. When the Pastor heard that someone had been saved he asked Tom when he was going to bring them to church. ‘You know Tom’ he said, ‘we value church membership here’. Tom told him that the Holy Spirit makes all believers members of Christ’s body when they are saved. At that point the Pastor told Tom that he and the elders of the church had become concerned about him and Jill and about the bible study. ‘Tom you stopped teaching the class on Christians and finances and we had to find someone else to take over’. Tom thought for a moment and finally said ‘Pastor, we are only being obedient to the Lord. His word tells us not to forsake assembling together, and that is what we are doing in our home’. ‘And what do you think we do here every Sunday Tom’? ‘Well it’s not the same’ Tom said. ‘People come here every week and they sing a few songs and hear a short sermon and then they leave. They don’t pray together and they don’t talk to each other’. ‘Tom we have fellowship dinners here every month, don’t you think people talk together then’? ‘Well they don’t talk about the Lord’ Tom said. ‘You see Pastor, the purpose of our meetings is to talk about the Lord, who he is, and what he is doing in our lives’. ‘Well Tom I hate to bring this up but the church does not really agree with what you two are doing’. ‘What’ Tom said, ‘you don’t agree with believers gathering together to pray and study the bible.’ ‘Tom, let me ask you a question, who is your authority and what covering is your little group under’? Tom then said that he knew of no scripture that said Christians had any authority other than the bible and that the only covering that he needed to be under was the blood of Christ. It was not long before Tom and Jill were treated as outcasts. They thought about the church and how it was so precious in the heart of God that he had sent his only son to shed his blood so that we could be saved and have fellowship with one another. They thought about how the word said that in the last days men would hold to a form of godliness while denying its power. And so it was that a little church in a house was born. They had no Pastor, no building, and no denomination. What they had was love for one another and they had Jesus, and they had his word. And it seemed to them like that was enough. This story is based mostly on a dream but a lot of it is factual. It is a composite of experiences in my life and in the lives of others I have known The time has come or true believers to stop playing church and to start serving Jesus. Frank Avery fda6889@hotmail.com

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