The Church in My House

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The Church in My House

Postby LivingFree » Sun Dec 24, 2006 7:05 pm

My little congregation just left. What a wonderful Christmas Eve service we had together. God was here, and we were truly blessed.

For those of you who don't know, here's a bit of background. Nov. 1, 2005, I officially retired from active ministry, after 43 years. My health, both physically and emotionally, was such that it was difficult to get established in a new church home. We mainly slept in and attended TV church. One of my wife's friends, Esther, said one day, "Whenever your husband starts his own church, Tom and I will be the first in line." Well, that day came in February, 2006.

Since then Tom and Esther have attended every week, and we've had as many as eleven, meeting in the living room of our home. Tom is diabetic, like my wife, so they have something in common. Esther works 3rd shift, so is a morning sleeper like we are also. So we gather at 2:00 PM for lunch together, and then worship afterwards. My wife and Esther share the food preparation costs and work.

Tom and Esther have two young adult sons, ages 21 (Ben) & 23 (Tommy), both still living at home. They have always had a ministry to young people they call "strays" -- young people that don't have good home lives, and find love and Christian counsel in Tom and Esther's home. Tommy's girlfriend, Destiny, age 25, grew up in a home where the mother is bipolar, and a Wiccan high priestess. Destiny now lives with Tom and Esther, and is very open to Christian teaching. She loves us dearly and we love her. She says her life changed when she started coming to church here with Tommy. Ben was abused as a child, in a church bathroom, and still hasn't come, but we keep him in our prayer.

Tom has a friend, Art, who is also diabetic, and can't drive, but he has a friend who drives him around. They have been in our church once. Another family, Tom and Tammy, have also been here some, but are quite irregular. Tom's sister, Deb and husband Walt, have been here once, and Walt just loved it.

Now, about today. We don't run by the clock, we run by the Spirit. Tom and Esther, Tommy and Destiny, showed up at 2:40. Esther brought the dinner, and we enjoyed food and fellowship around the table. We began worship at 3:45. We always begin by singing, "We have gathered in this house to worship Him," fitting for us! Then comes the Bible study / sermon, which is always open to comment and question. Today we read Luke 2:1-15 and portions of Matt. 2:1-12 and in between, sang the most favorite Christmas carols (1st verse only). Then we shared -- this time, in answer to the question "What is t he greatest gift God has given you in 2006?" My wife and I both said, "Your friendship and support, Tom and Esther." Destiny said, "Tommy." Tom said, "Better health" (Last year his longevity was in grave doubt.) Esther said, "This church." Needless to say, we cried a bit as we shared. Then we sang our closing song, always "Bind us together in love." The benediction was a reading of "Love came down at Christmas."

Our children live in IN and KS, 1 - 2 days drive distant, and are still somewhat nervous about my journey into naturism, so this worship service (always clothed) was a very special Christmas Eve gift for us today. We look for God's blessing and grace in 2007.
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Postby jochanaan » Sun Dec 24, 2006 7:51 pm

That's wonderful, LF! I am so glad this new group of believers has gathered around you. Of course, we're consumed with curiosity about their reactions to your naturism... ;)

Is your group connected with the House Church movement? (http://www.hccentral.com/) I know some House Church people; they're good people, and I feel that home churches are a valid alternative to the institutional churches.

May God the Father, through His Spirit's indwelling, continue to bless your group, and may you all grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus our Savior and Lord.
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Postby Jon-Marc » Sun Dec 24, 2006 9:15 pm

I would really enjoy something like that as long as I didn't have to wear clothes. :lol: Our choir (I attempt tp sing bass) did a great stirring contata tonight. At one point I became so emotional I had to stop singing for a moment. What a wonderful Gift God gave to us nearly 2,000 years ago. No words can describe this matchless Gift called Jesus!
The Righteousness of Christ--the ONLY clothing I need.
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Postby LivingFree » Sun Dec 24, 2006 10:28 pm

jochanaan wrote:Of course, we're consumed with curiosity about their reactions to your naturism... ;)

Is your group connected with the House Church movement?


The answer to the second question is No. One of the interesting phenomena of Mennonite spirituality is that individual, independent home fellowships just "spring up." In the earliest beginnings of the Anabaptist movement that's usually how they all met, and that spirit of independent individualism and a willingness to follow the prompting of the Spirit exists to this day. In our case, we follow the core values of the ana - baptist movement, but we are The Church that Meets In My House, unaffiliated with any other movement but the Holy Spirit.

The answer to the second question is a bit more mysterious. In the early weeks of our new house church, one of the pastors who is a part of the church I used to pastor, where we had strong ties to a small group within the church, met with that small group and "spilled the beans" about my naturism, in an effort to discredit me and ensure that they would have nothing more to do with me. Tom and Esther were there that night, and on Tuesday invited us out for lunch. They asked me for my "answer," and it was satisfactory to them, so they surrounded us with love and support. They have consistently told others, "they don't push it onto anyone else, and there's nothing different about them than from before." Their son, Tommy, likes to tell his friends, "I have a cool pastor. He's even a nudist." One thing they all really like about me is that I'm down to earth, I have real answers from the Bible, not theological pablum, and I don't push things onto them "from on high" they're not interested in or ready for. Yet they defend to the death my right to be who I am, as long as the Bible doesn't speak against it.
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Postby jochanaan » Sun Dec 24, 2006 11:12 pm

LivingFree wrote:The answer to the second question is No. One of the interesting phenomena of Mennonite spirituality is that individual, independent home fellowships just "spring up." In the earliest beginnings of the Anabaptist movement that's usually how they all met, and that spirit of independent individualism and a willingness to follow the prompting of the Spirit exists to this day. In our case, we follow the core values of the ana - baptist movement, but we are The Church that Meets In My House, unaffiliated with any other movement but the Holy Spirit.

Yeah, the Baptist movement began in homes too, and many Baptist groups still embrace this independent spirit and are suspicious of overly hierarchical denominations.
LivingFree wrote:The answer to the second question is a bit more mysterious...

I assume you mean "...to the first question..."? :wink: That's great! We can only pray that their friendship with you will lead them to question society's teachings about nakedness.
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Postby LivingFree » Mon Dec 25, 2006 1:39 am

jochanaan wrote:
LivingFree wrote:The answer to the second question is a bit more mysterious...

I assume you mean "...to the first question..."? :wink: That's great! We can only pray that their friendship with you will lead them to question society's teachings about nakedness.


Yes, thanks for the correction. :oops:

On the other, I really don't even care if they ever question society's teachings on nakedness. There are so many other hurdles in their lives that one is far down the priority list. It will have to be God's own doing if the priorities are rearranged.
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Postby Desert Hiker » Mon Dec 25, 2006 4:19 am

Thanks for sharing with us--we are blessed by it.

May God continue to lead, guide, and bless all of you.
Peace In Christ, Sam

Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart...--Job
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Postby natman » Tue Dec 26, 2006 11:54 am

LF,

Sounds like you have a great group of friends and brothers and sisters in Christ, especially in Tom and Ester.

jochanaan wrote:We can only pray that their friendship with you will lead them to question society's teachings about nakedness.


I also now wonder what other areas we have missed the boat.
SON-cerely,
Nathan Powers

Get exposed to the sun, and get exposed to the Son.
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Postby LivingFree » Tue Dec 26, 2006 2:14 pm

natman wrote:I also now wonder what other areas we have missed the boat.


Could you comment on where you were going with this thought?
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Postby natman » Tue Dec 26, 2006 6:27 pm

Well, until a few years ago, I NEVER would have thought that naturism would be compatible with Christianity. I had never even thought to research it. Doing such research has allowed me to re-read the Bible, unfiltered by church tradition (solo scriptore')

Likewise, what other areas have we been oppressed by human tradition over scriptural freedom?

Depending on denomination, areas of drink and food come to mind. I think I have already covered those in my mind and on these forums. We have also talked about sexuality within marriage. I cannot think of other areas at this time, but there probably is something we haven't discussed.
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Postby jochanaan » Tue Dec 26, 2006 7:00 pm

Well, when I think of how many times the New Testament authors encourage us to greet with a kiss... :cry: Many of us have been afraid of physical contact--an even more unhealthy fear than that of nudity, since our bodies and souls both require touch.
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Postby LivingFree » Tue Dec 26, 2006 9:52 pm

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Nathan, and Joch also. I can think of several others also, each of which would merit its own strip discussion.

Psalms speaks very favorable of delighting in wine, and using dance in worship.

The holy kiss (cheek to cheek?) could also be expanded to the holy hug.

What would Jesus' practice of eating and drinking with sinners include in today's world -- people who choose a drug-oriented, or alcohol type lifestyle? People living with same sex partners? (How do Christians respond when one of their family members seems to prefer same sex relationships -- [I know of several]?) Would it include doctors who perform abortions?

Here's another one I've thought about a lot. The Bible talks about a man leaving his father and mother and becoming joined to his 'isha = woman / wife. But nowhere does it command a fancy wedding celebration or "making it legal." Those are manmade conventions. So is there room in today's world to giving tacit recognition to couples that simply start living together? Aren't they married in God's sight? Must we relegate them to second tier status until they "legalize" it?

And I'm sure there are other matters, also. Water simply runs downhill. Society is often about a generation behind in accepting societal changes, and the church is about two generations behind that. How godly can that be, if we are to love sinners to Christ?
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House Church

Postby TheNakedProphet » Sat Dec 30, 2006 8:34 pm

It was great to hear of others who are meeting in their homes. My wife, Stephanie, and I are starting a house church in Kittredge, Colorado, next weekend (7 January 2007), in our own home. We do not have "pastors" or "elders," as are commonly recognized in the organized church system. We believe in the priesthood of all believers, and we believe in the functioning of ALL the saints, women included (hence Paul's encouragement that ALL would prophesy in the meetings). Children are allowed to function in the meetings, as well, and our meetings have NEVER gotten "out-of-hand."

The issue about our own naturism came up in one of the house churches Stephanie and I were in about a year ago. One of the "elders" of that group decided to wait until the other "elder" was out of town, then kicked me and Stephanie out of the house church, warning the entire church that they had to "protect their children from Michael and Stephanie!" The entire church membership rallied around us, and told the "elder" in question that they would trust THEIR children with us before anyone else, and that they weren't allowing the "elder" to kick us out, no matter what. The "elder" and his family, and one other family, left and didn't come back.

What a sorry mess the sin of Adam and Eve has brought to us! The shame over the bodies God gave us, and called VERY GOOD, has destroyed any ability to look at another person's naked body without a sense of horror, or sinful thinking ("stinkin'" thinking). The truth of the matter is that we have been "trained" by the organized church system, and the world system, to think about the body the way our culture(s) does(do). When the Word of God says that GOD called our naked bodies VERY GOOD, and we call them evil, WE are walking contrary to the Word of God. Isaiah 5:20 states, "Woe to him who calls evil good and good evil..." Woe has certainly come upon us, hasn't it? For we, as a culture, have called what God called very good evil. And we have called what God called evil good. We (culturally) say that the naked body is evil. Then we turn around and watch movie after movie that has unbridled violence, killing, massacre and sexual sin blasting at our eyeballs, and into our senses, day after day, hour after hour.

King David said that he would not put anything evil before his eyes. Most Christians state that the naked human body is evil, and they say that that is what King David meant. If they only knew the truth: David recognized that the human body was wonderful in God's sight. That's why he said, literally, "I truly am fearfully, reverently distinguished, made. For the fountain of your eyes saw my embryo, and you wrote the score of my life, inscribing all that I am (enumerating and recounting the celebration of your nature, your image) in the palm of your hand. During the heat of the passion of that day, you squeezed me into the shape, the likeness of your image, as a potter would mould the clay..." Does that even come close to seeing the body as something evil? I think not. By the way, I have a friend who is the best Biblical language scholar I have ever met, and he recognized that my translation of the Hebrew context of the above passage was VERY accurate.

For what it's worth, we are going to attempt to re-train the saints in our house church concerning the beauty, the normalcy and the acceptance of the nude human body. Who knows? We might be able to start the first naturist house church that we have ever known in the United States. We are inviting everyone in Colorado to come and be a part of this unique expression of the Body of Jesus Christ, and anyone who is visiting Colorado, we invited you, too. Come and be a part of Christ's Body, by recognizing the human body's necessary physical expression of the divine nature of the Living God in the earth!

Michael & Stephanie
Last edited by TheNakedProphet on Tue Jan 16, 2007 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If Jesus wasn't ashamed of being born naked, being baptized naked, being crucified naked, and coming out of the tomb naked, why should I be ashamed of being naked?
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RE: Greeting One Another With A Holy Kiss

Postby TheNakedProphet » Sat Dec 30, 2006 8:53 pm

Dear LF,

Thought you might be interested in knowing that the "holy kiss" that is mentioned in Scriptures was, from the start, on the lips, NOT on the cheek. It wasn't until the heresy that taught that women were the "embodiment of the devil" that we begin seeing a straying from godly affection in the church. The gnostic heresies, in which the main premise was that anything of the physical body/realm was evil and anything of the spiritual realm was good, contributed to the falsehoods that have been believed in the Church concerning the body, nudity, human sexuality, the sexual organs and sex itself.

Affection has been a huge problem in the Church's ranks, and our modern issues aren't exempt from that (i.e. Catholic priests' pedophilia, and the Evangelical pastors' sexual dabblings). Just think, if we began teaching ourselves and others about the truth the Word of God speaks concerning human sexuality and the naked human body, what would this do to the Church and our culture(s)? Do you think we could be the catalysts for change herein? I, for one, am going to try my hardest, with God's help, and the leading of the Holy Spirit, to be a catalyst.

I have begun greeting my brothers in Christ with a kiss on the cheek. Some of them who know me better greet me with a kiss on the lips. My wife doesn't mind. She will ALWAYS get my affection, and the kisses between us are way different (and BETTER) than the holy kisses between brethren. Our kisses are a part of the holy bed of marriage, and therefore are even holier than the kisses I give my brothers in Christ. Can any of you say that you would be willing to break with tradition with the holy kiss? No guts, no glory. No glory, no Jesus. No Jesus... I'll let you finish that one.

Michael
If Jesus wasn't ashamed of being born naked, being baptized naked, being crucified naked, and coming out of the tomb naked, why should I be ashamed of being naked?
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Postby Desert Hiker » Tue Jan 02, 2007 7:23 am

Thanks for sharing Michael, and I pray for God's blessing on your continued good works--may they be purely of the Spirit, and by the Spirit. It is always good that people be given a place to gather where God is there in Spirit and in Truth, and can freely worship Him, and know Him personally. May Jesus grace, and mercy be made known to all, and His freedom from the bondage of sin and shame be made known to all who come to know Him. Amen
Peace In Christ, Sam

Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart...--Job
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