Category Archives: Home Church

Screech! Halt! Last Chance!

Vinnie opened the door and greeted us with hugs. He then gave me an odd look.

“What?” I said.

“You’re not fifteen minutes early, which means you’re late.”

I pointed at Jane as she walked ahead of me, past the small office on the left and into the great room.

Vinnie and Gracie had completely remodeled the condo, removing two walls, adding dark hardwood floors, white crown molding, and painting the walls a soft yellow. The place sparkled and was perfect for Wednesday night home church meetings. The Sunday meeting still remained at our home, but we also had a morning women’s meeting, a men’s meeting, and an outdoor prayer meeting in a park. We were now a community that enjoyed being with one another.

“Hey, Gunsmoke, over here,” said Phil, standing by the large maple harvest table.

We hugged and patted each other on the backs.

I turned to greet seventy-eight year old Randy Greenfield with a hug, even though he breathed through a nose cannula and held his compact oxygen tank in his left hand. He had been a pack a day smoker until quitting at age sixty-five. His wife, Jessie, sitting at the table, reached up, and held my hands in hers. She suffered from diabetes and vision problems.

I greeted Faye and Gracie who were busy preparing the food. Both Ruth Harden and Pamela Walters waved at me and I moved in their direction. Seventy-six year old Ruth sat in a wheelchair because of a stroke from a year earlier. Pamela was an eighty-four year old woman who suffered stage-three bone cancer, but never let it get her down. The two women hugged and kissed me.

“Where are Mason and Flo?” I asked.

“They called and said they might be a few minutes late,” replied Vinnie.

Ding dong!

Vinnie left to answer the doorbell. He soon returned with Mason and Florence Prewitt, an African-American couple, who were both in their early seventies. Everyone greeted them with hugs.

“Let’s sit down and eat,” said Gracie, carrying a bowl of vegetable soup to the table.

The twelve of us sat around the large table and held hands while Vinnie blessed the meal. Then, the fellowship began in earnest. Different ones testified what the Lord was doing in their lives. A few shared scripture revelations. Faye sang a new song. On and on, it went while we ate. As someone once wrote: home churches that meat together stay together.

“Hey everyone, can you guess what our friends at Jedidiah Smith Community Church call us?” asked Faye during a lull in the conversation.

The clanking of spoons against bowls of vegetable soup ceased. The room became quiet. All looked toward Faye with blank looks on their faces.

“No, what?” said Gracie, not willing to play along with the guessing game.

“The geezer church!” proclaimed Faye. Her dark eyes narrowed and lips puckered to show the acrid taste in her mouth from the name.

“What a great name? I love it,” said Vinnie.

“Yeah, me, too,” replied Randy.

Phil looked at Faye first before giving the thumbs up sign.

“Maybe we should register the name. Then, we can print ‘Geezer Church’ logos on caps and t-shirts. Maybe even bumper stickers,” I said, thinking about royalties.

Jane elbowed me in the ribs and gave me her look, the one that sends me to the guest bedroom to sleep if I step over the line.

“I hate it!” she proclaimed, crossing her arms in her ‘don’t mess with Jane’ manner.

“Why?” I asked.

“I don’t like being defined as an old bloke.”

“Well?”

“We may be approaching the sunsets of our lives, but I don’t have to be reminded of it with a comedic term. I can still pray and worship the Lord as well as I did in my younger years and maybe even better.

Pamela put her two forefingers to her lips and whistled a shrill-pitched note.

“I agree with Jane,” she added.

“Do we need a name?” I asked.

“Yes,” all the women said in unison.

The men shrugged and gritted their teeth.

“Let’s hear your ideas,” said Faye, looking around the table.

The suggested names ranged from the Agape Home Church to the Temecula Valley Home Group, with numerous cutesy ones in between.

“What about Last Chance?” I said as the conversation died down.

“Last Chance? Why?” asked Ruth.

“For most of us it’s our last chance to serve the Lord. It’s the last chance to speak what is in our hearts to others. It’s our last chance to earn eternal rewards. It’s our last chance to know Jesus better on this side of heaven.”

Phil waved his hand in the air. All turned toward him.

“I’m convinced that Last Chance is a great name for our group. What about the rest of you?” he said, lightly elbowing Faye in the ribs.

That night, we upgraded our name from Geezer Church to Last Chance in a unanimous vote, but yet the slight shiver still remained in place when we drove home.

(Excerpt from Unhinged Geezer by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2015, Amazon eBook)

For many years, I have prayed and fasted on Tuesdays for various reasons. It all began with praying for the suffering Christians of North Korea. Then it included praying for Christians held as prisoners in Asia. Then for India. Then for all of Asia. Then for “one new man.” Then for healing and deliverance.

So now, beginning next week, I will be praying and fasting for senior citizens (geezers) to be revived, set on fire by the Holy Spirit, take their places in a new move of God, and for some Last Chance groups to be planted in America, especially on the West Coast.

 

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Geezer Up (Part 8)

Jane

Because of my standby reservation, I was the last person to board the Virgin Airline’s Airbus A320. One hundred and forty-five other passengers walked ahead of me to their seats. I looked at my boarding pass − Row 24 Seat B − and tried to look over shoulders and heads for my seat, but my five feet three inches of stature hindered my efforts. I eventually arrived there, lifted my black suitcase into the overhead storage compartment, and squeezed past the outside passenger’s long legs into the seat.

The young sailor with a shaved head in Seat A by the window looked up from his iPad and nodded at me. The lanky man to my right, sitting by the aisle in Seat C, paid no attention and opened his iPad, connecting to the Internet through Virgin’s free WiFi service. Both put headphones on as soon as the plane taxied toward the runway.

I reached down and pulled a Michael Connelly paperback novel out of my purse, but the Harry Bosch story failed to hold my interest for long. My mind kept wandering back over Dylan’s and my off-the-beaten-path spiritual journey.

It all began when Dylan walked out of Jedidiah Smith Community Church on that first Sunday in June three years earlier when the new pastor preached his first sermon. Dylan explained that he couldn’t listen to another sermon while he ignored the Lord’s voice telling him to branch off into a different type of church ministry. That different type of church ended up being a home church, which we called Last Chance. Two senior couples joined us in the new venture: Phil and Faye Strawmeier and Vinnie and Gracie Nguyen. Both couples had been our closest friends for years. Others joined our house church so that the original assembly now numbered eighteen people.

But it was Pamela Walter’s words to Dylan and me just before she died which stirred Dylan’s heart. “The Lord wants the Last Chance groups, like yours, to spread all along the West Coast, from San Diego to Seattle. He wants to use senior citizens as His last chance army to touch millions of people −” she said.

Dylan interrupted her and explained we didn’t know how to do something like that.

I still remember her words: “Shush! Of course, you don’t, but He knows how to do it. Fast and pray and He will show you.”

Then, she died.

Dylan focused his life on obeying Pamela’s prophetic words to us from that moment forward. He fasted, prayed, studied the word, and continually sought the Lord on what we needed to do. His seeking led to three new groups being started: one in Hemet, Lake Elsinore, and Corona.

I went along with whatever Dylan wanted, not because I heard the Lord’s voice for myself or even felt impressed to do so. I just trusted that Dylan heard the Lord’s voice and followed him. Maybe I caved in too easily rather than seeking the Lord on my own.

But when Dylan said he felt the Lord wanted us to plant Last Chance home churches in San Francisco, I was shocked and nervous. As he spoke his vision to me, I comforted myself by figuring it would be years before we reached the Bay area. Yet, two days later, he received an invitation to speak at a Business Men’s Fellowship luncheon in China Town. He left a week later, hoping doors would open for Last Chance groups in San Francisco.

I watched him leave and waved at him, but in my heart, I prayed nothing special would happen. I hoped it would be a nice trip for Dylan but nothing more. Nothing more at all.

Maybe you think I’m selfish and maybe I am. But I am seventy-three years old and so is Dylan. I want to get off this spiritual merry-go-round and enjoy life again. Do some traveling to Branson, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, and even Paris or London. I want to enjoy our sunset years without worrying about jail or confrontations. Why not? We deserve it, don’t we?

(Continued in Part 9…if you’re interested, the full series to date may be seen here.) 

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“My Church is a Bunch of Nice Losers” (Conclusion)

A little over twenty-five years ago, I read an interview in Charisma Magazine of David Yonggi Cho. In it, Cho explained the success of Yoido Full Gospel Church (830,000 members) and why America would never have a church that large.

“Yoido is built on prayer,” Cho stated. “All of our hundreds of pastors and elders average three hours per day in prayer. Hundreds of thousands of other members pray at least two hours each day. Our prayer meetings number over two hundred thousand participants and Prayer Mountain has over one million believers, visiting it to pray and fast for days at a time in special cubicles. I don’t believe Americans are willing to pay this high of price to have a church like Yoido.”

Cho’s words bugged me. So, I cut the article out of the magazine and hung it on my wall to spur me on to prove him wrong about us Americans.

Fast forward to today’s America.

I mostly now agree with Cho’s words because let’s be honest, okay?

How many people do you think will attend a church which announces ahead of time that its foundations are built on the 8 Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount with prayer, fasting, giving to the poor, self-denial, and seeking the Lord being our outward responses? My guess is that big buildings won’t be needed — an average sized closet should handle the attendance.

And salaried clergy? We won’t need them.

And sermons? There won’t be any unless the Holy Spirit anoints someone to speak.

And music? All of us should be able to make a joyful noise, maybe even a song of the Spirit.

Temecula may be 6,000 miles from Seoul Korea and Yoido Full Gospel Church, but it might as well be 6 million miles with crazy ideas like this one.

Yet, this is what the Lord has placed on my heart to pray for and start: churches and groups based on Matthew 5,6, and 7 or the Sermon on the Mount.

You see, when society unravels here in America – and it will – our neighbors will be looking for answers. They won’t find them in most churches, which are filled with nice people, but who won’t have prepared themselves ahead of time. This will be the day that Matt 567 groups will be needed, but the time for preparation is now.

My prayer is that the West Coast will soon be filled with these groups, assemblies, churches, or whatever you want to call them so that every neighborhood will have one nearby.

Okay, it’s a big vision, but I believe it’s a winning one for the days ahead.

(Conclusion……if you’re interested, the full series to date can be seen here.)

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Leadership: Yipes!

snail

As a birthday present to myself in 2002, I attended a two-day home church seminar put on my Tony and Felicity Dale in Oxnard, California. The meeting was held in an old barn with forty or so people in the place.

I knew no one and also knew very little about the home church movement in America.

During a break, a man introduced himself and we struck up a conversation. The man said something that has stuck with me ever since: “Frank Viola is the most radical leader in the home church movement.”

Now, the man spoke the words as a warning to me, but it had the opposite affect. You see, I like radicals and made up my mind to read as many of Frank Viola’s books as possible. I now enjoy all of Viola’s books and his blog. And what’s more, I even like Viola as a person.

Now, I said all of the above as a way to introduce the best article I have ever seen on New Testament church leadership. And let me tell you, all of Christianity needs to read this and be set free from the myths that keeps us Christians in bondage to our false leadership ideas. You can read the whole article here.

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Prayer: So Easy To Talk About, Yet So Tough To Do (Part 1)

IMG_0773

Almost twenty-five years ago, I read an interview of David Yongi Cho in Charisma Magazine which really bummed me out. It was a long interview which dealt with his life and founding of the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, which then had 700,000 members.

What particularly bummed me out was when the interviewer asked: “Will America ever have a church as large as Yoido Full Gospel Church?”

“No,” replied Cho, “because Americans aren’t willing to pay the price in prayer that it takes to build a large church like Yoido.”

Slap! His words felt like a glove slap to my face, challenging me to a duel.

I readily admit to being full of myself at the time because I prayed 3 to 4 hours each day which is what Cho and his 400 elders averaged. So, I thought: “All I need to do is find a few believers like me who enjoy praying and voilà! America will have a large church.”

Well, after journeying over hundreds of miles of life’s back roads and through more than enough deep valleys, I have arrived at this conclusion: Cho was right. America will never have a church like Yoido Full Gospel, which now has over 1 million members.

“What?” you proclaim, picking up your gloves, readying to slap my face. “Do you still believe that the Lord’s house is called to be a house of prayer?

“Yes, I do,” I reply, keeping my eyes on your hands.

“Then what’s your problem?” you say through clenched teeth, still ready to slap me.

I shrug. “It’s a long story. Do you really want to hear it?” I whisper.

So, over the next few weeks, I will write on prayer. Some of the articles will deal with my prayer heroes. Some will deal with the mistakes of different prayer movements. Some will deal with my mistakes and lessons I’ve learned about prayer.

But hopefully, we will all end up trusting and loving the Lord more than we do now.

(Continued in Part 2)

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Taco Tuesday Special! Free e-Book on Amazon.

Jonah1

If you have a Kindle, Kindle Fire, iPad, Nexus, Galaxy, a computer, or smart phone with Kindle apps on it, my e-book novel, Jonah, is FREE April 9 – 10, through Amazon.

Amazon Book Description:

The novel, Jonah, consists of two novellas written specifically for people who live in a post-911 America and who no longer see hope in a watered down, same-o same-o religion.

The main character in the first novella, “Jeremiah,” has his dreams wrecked by a late night visitation with an angel. Then, he receives a prophetic message for San Francisco. Will the city heed Jeremiah’s warning or is the city doomed?

In the second novella, “Jonah,” two prophets receive identical messages for the West Coast. Though each faces different struggles, it comes down to whether or not the people believe the prophets’ words. If the prophetic words are ignored, what will happen?

Fiction or prophecy? Time will soon reveal the answer to all of us.

Print Length: 225 pages.  File Size: 388 KB  Regular Price: $2.99

Free April 9 and April 10, 2013. So, check it out here and while you’re there check out my nine other e-books here.

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Moving Again?

dolly moving

In 17 years of marriage, Honey and I have moved at least 33 times, with stops in 9 different states and 18 different cities. The latest move was from a home on the north side of Temecula to one in central Temecula, a four mile hop, skip, and a jump for us.

A well-meaning pastor once took me aside and gave one of those lectures no one ever likes to hear.

“Larry, you need stability in your life and marriage,” he said, shaking his head at our wanderings. “No one will ever take your ministry seriously if you don’t settle down. You need to find yourself a city and a good church to park yourself so others will take you more seriously. Please, seek the Lord on this advice.”

If you think about it, his words make sense, right? Shouldn’t a prophetic person build a reputation with a pastor and a body of believers so he won’t look like a wandering gadfly to everyone?

Maybe.

It all comes down to this one single point: obeying the voice of God.

You see, if Honey and I have obeyed the voice of God to the best of our abilities with our moves, then who cares what the pastor and others think. In God’s eyes, our reputations were excess baggage in comparison to the open-door policy at His throne of grace where we can come at anytime for grace and mercy to help us in times of need.

Walking by faith carries with it the possibility we will not always hit the bullseye on the target when we set out on our journeys. Yes, I know we can fast and pray and wait and seek, but eventually we have to get off our knees and walk it out. And from experience, I can tell you there is plenty of wiggle room in the will of God which will end up costing us time and money. All of this will frustrate and drive us to the end of ourselves until we trust Him for everything.

Looking back on the 33 moves, would I do it all over again?

Yes, in a heartbeat! His grace is sufficient and that’s good enough for me.

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