Breaking Free from our Temple Complex

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Ezekiel 47:2 (NIV)

He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.

CONSIDER THIS

“The Spirit of Jesus in me greets the Spirit of Jesus in you and brings us together in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.”

We closed yesterday standing on the banks of the River Jesus. This was the word he left us pondering:

“Everywhere the river flows, everything will live.” Say that aloud to yourself a few times. Get the cadence of it. 

“Everywhere the river flows, everything will live. Everywhere the river flows, everything will live.”

Try singing it. Make up a melody. 

The source of this river is Jesus himself. The water is his Spirit, the Holy Spirit. This is how he shares himself with us and through us with others. 

Everywhere the river flows, everything will live.

He couldn’t be more clear could he:

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

We believe, “there is a river” as the psalmist wrote long ago, “whose streams make glad the city of God” (Ps. 46:4). If we are honest, though, we are seeing and sensing only trickles. Why is that? Remember when trickles were in Uncle Zeke’s vision? 

He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.

The water was trickling back at the temple. The trickle became a brook, then a stream, and finally a roaring river too deep to cross; ankle deep, knee deep, waist deep, and then too deep to cross. You see the sight. The Spirit is giving you the insight. Why only trickles for us? Because we are stuck in the temple courts. The further we go downstream the deeper the river runs. There is a direct correspondence between the distance we get from the temple and the strength and size of the river. 

Water never flows uphill. Water always flows down to the lowest places. We certainly see this in the life of Jesus. He is always going to the hurting people, the broken places, the lost situations. The same holds true for the Holy Spirit. The river trickles at the temple but it roars at the Dead Sea. 

It’s odd how all the energy goes into the temple. We have a temple complex. The church was supposed to be different, and yet we still seem to carry such a strong temple mentality. All the action and money and metrics focus on the Sunday services. I follow a lot of churches on social media and I am always surprised by how most all of the postings are about the Sunday services, the sermon series, even telling the songs coming up this Sunday. That’s okay I guess. I’m just looking for some postings on what’s actually happening down river—you know, people speaking Jesus in the marketplace and Holy Spirit stories in the neighborhood, Dirty Kroger fails and Louisa from the Netherlands baptizing a new believer with bi-polar disorder in her bath tub. 

See if you can spot the most telling word in the text for today. I’ll repeat it here.

He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.

The word is “outside.” 

Outside. It’s the opposite of inside. Truthfully, we need to finally let go of the temple mindset. The temple is history. The future is Jesus. The River is rolling. The further down river we go the deeper the water of the Spirit flows, and the louder the song sings:

Everywhere the river flows, everything will live.

Still day one. 

THE PRAYER

God our Father, who with your son Jesus Messiah, fills us with the Holy Spirit, thank you for the miracle and the mystery of the day of Pentecost. And thank you for today, and that it is only the day after. Rivers, Jesus. I just keep praying for Rivers and I hear you saying, “Follow me there.” I’m really ready to stop going to church. I’m ready to become church with others and for others. I’m ready for the River, Jesus. Dead Sea here we come. Come Holy Spirit! make it so. Praying in your name, Jesus, amen. 

THE QUESTION

Why do you think all the energy of our churches goes into the Sunday services? What is that about? Do we see Sunday services prominently featured in the New Testament? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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P.S. This Coming Sunday . . . 

I will be preaching at Sagemont Church in Houston, Texas. My old friend, Matt Carter recently joined their staff as the Senior Pastor and graciously invited me to sow for awakening in their midst. If you are in the area please join us live and in person at 9:30 or 11:15 or join online live or later.

And by all means please pray for this opportunity to indeed be a sowing for great awakening. I’ll be taking my seeds.

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

8 COMMENTS

  1. J D, you ask, “Why do you think all the energy of our churches go into the Sunday services? I believe the answer to that question can be found by learning the history of the Church post Constantine. Once the Apostolic Church became legal, it retrogressed into its current form. What had been originally been formed as a Spirit led people of a kingdom of priesthood, a mobile gathering of Saints, where all were ministers, and the Father was worshiped in Spirit and in truth, was once again a religion with an elevated clergy class,and a designated time and place of worship. This form of Church has been thoroughly engrained within us and will be very resistant to change.

  2. Church is often called “Sunday services,” yet the neither the word “services” nor the concept of “services” is used in the New Testament to refer to a gathering of the body of Christ. There are 50+ “one another” statements in the New Testament where Christ-followers are called to serve but nowhere where we are told to attend “services.” Yes, Hebrews tells us to “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together,” but even that doesn’t say to “attend services.” Yet, church seems to be all about “Sunday services.” Why?

    “Sunday services” can be programmed and controlled by a pastor; what Christians do throughout the week can’t be. Church seems to fear loss of pastor control, so they focus on “Sunday services” which are some of the most tightly controlled human meetings anywhere. For a great awakening Christ-follows need the freedom, the training, and the encouragement to follow and obey the risen Jesus–the Holy Spirit–anywhere and everywhere!

  3. Then, let us consider downriver gatherings.

    I couldn’t paste a .jpeg of my model, but it begins with two gatherings, originally at a local church, but any place would do. The first meeting is entirely to bring together an application of the vision Jesus Messiah shares with those wanting to be involved. The second is also, somewhat, but it opens up a second application of our Lord’s heart for his people. Next is the first application. Another gathering follows. The reason for have them interspersed this way is to enable a constant build-up of excitement because this activity is not simply “One and done.” At each interaction, newcomers would be invited to help us “be more effective next time!” Like Pentecost, there would always be a day after, a Day One! I like to wash clothes for homeless and near-homeless kids in Lexington. That ministry is really very simple and anyone can do it. Still, I encounter so many needs while teaching our high-school moms. And I’ve also learned their issues are universal to Lexington. My heart is for those our community overlooks.
    Anyway, it’s not much, but it’s a dream I’ve carried for years.
    Sandy

  4. Ahhh. Well said JD. This Temple mentality that you share is likely the single greatest cause of “story poverty” in the church.

    As the Body of Christ collaborates and the water flows outside we will begin to end story poverty.

    Endstorypoverty.com
    T

  5. Before COVID our church used to post the number of people who attended services each week. I said that is nice, but why not post the number of people who served in the community each week. If all we do is go and sit at church each Sunday then what have we accomplished?
    We need to be the hands and feet of God who serve others in the community. Help others to come to Jesus.

  6. The mission field is downriver. People who are drowning in sin are in water up to their noses. Jesus called them by groups; orphans, prisoners, strangers, naked, sick, and widows. We now can add drug addicts, alcoholics, depression, anxiety, unworthy, and…
    These hurting, lost people are weak from treading water. They need a life jacket. Jesus is the life jacket. The Lifeline. We are the ones who are called to supply them. Some will say the life jacket of Jesus doesn’t fit or isn’t complimentary, Some will wear it until they’re on the shore, then remove it and toss it to the side. But we are not to give up, but to persevere. Because there will be the one out of 100 whose spirit reunites with Christ. And they too will become a Jesus lifejacket tosser.

  7. That statement “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together,” is truly a very important one, a command, no less. It doesn’t matter much to me what you call it when that command is obeyed, but getting together is vital. Call it services, church, meeting, gathering, whatever. All sorts of good things happen during those times. Singing, teaching, learning, giving, encouraging one another, being challenged by the Word, communion, making plans to reach people, expressing heart-felt love toward one another face to face, checking on needs of people and what we can do to meet those needs, and I don’t mean “our” people. I mean people.
    We are not a big group, but we are powerful. We have a separate time at 4:00 that is devoted totally to prayer. What a great time that is! We are there for however long it takes. It thrilled me last Sunday to see a good friend come to the prayer time that I’ve been talking to the Lord about for quite some time, asking Him to prod Mr. Friend, and stir him to come. And the Lord did that! It’s not important to us if someone prays out loud or not. Being there is important. I know that when requests are being made, there is a silent chorus of every voice in the room, talking to the Father about that person, that request. What a treasured time that is!
    I traveled extensively in a Southern Gospel Quartet for a long time and have seen ‘church’ in just about every size and shape you can imagine. Thankfully I am not part of one that exerts authority and starves for control. And would not be. I love the freedom in our group!! Church?? I don’t know. You call it. But it has always been something like a fort to me, a place where you go to get fresh supplies, rest if you need it, get fired up and get right back at it, doing whatever it is God gives you to do. I’m 86 and still doing it as He gives it. I’ve sat next to a satanic priestess and ministered to her, in McD’s, no less. I’ve prayed with people right at the cashier’s window at McD’s, in the entry way to our local grocery store… wherever He opens the door, I’ll expect Him to steer me and help me with what to say, how to say it, and when. I love it!!!

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