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Remember, God is in Control! (Part I)
Bible study on God.

At first blush, some disturbing things are going on in the world regarding government's attack on churches.

But in this article, I ask you to step back and view things from a broader perspective than is presented in the media.

Let me suggest that the abuses of secular religion (denominations) are causing these problems, which could adversely affect the Lord's church.

Church Owned Businesses
Denominations are abusing their nonprofit, tax exempt status (in my opinion) by owning businesses.

For example, one church has gotten into the funeral business recently. Some churches own insurance companies, TV stations, radio stations, farms, and schools. One church even owns a mall in Chicago.

Of course, there's no authority for a church to own a business.

As a result of this sin, I personally expect the nonprofit status of churches to change, and welcome changes that would stop abuse.

But, the tax-exempt status we enjoy as a congregation of the Lord's church may be taken away as a result.

Unfortunately, we may have to suffer because of the sins of men, but I personally don't care. I'd rather see such abuses stopped, and lose a tax deduction, than see them continue.

Vatican, a Country
The Vatican is a country founded by the Roman Catholic Church. It has its own army, a seat at the United Nations, an embassy in Washington, D.C., and issues it's own passports and stamps. Some people even argue it can't be sued because of diplomatic immunity, as with sexual abuse cases against its clergy.

Besides this, the United States has an Ambassador to the Vatican who works in Rome. Of course, this person's job is to maintain political ties between both countries -- the United States and the Roman Catholic Church.

So, what ramifications could result from a church being a country?

The church could go to war and attack people of other nations, such as during the Crusades. Or, it could politically and economically enforce its will against other nations, which some people claim is being done today. Or, it could be attacked by other nations who disagree with its policies and behaviors.

At any rate, when a church is allowed to be a country, and operate as a sovereign nation, while other churches aren't granted the same power, there can be big problems.

If there is trouble, we as a congregation of the Lord's church could be caught in the crossfire, and innocently suffer as a result of the sins of others.

Home Bible Studies
Last week, there were a number of news stories about a preacher and his wife who were ordered by San Diego County to stop having Bible classes in their home until obtaining a Major Use Permit costing thousands of dollars.

Details haven't been released as to why such an order was issued, but let's think about a possible reason -- small group ministries.

As far as I can tell, small group ministries developed with large community churches having thousands of members, who needed a way to get members involved with small groups of people to keep them interested and involved.

As a result, a whole industry has sprung up to support small group ministries in churches, selling everything from prepackaged programs to software that tracks members and activities.

In essence, churches with small group ministries use the homes of members rather than their colossal church building, as part of their work. The ministry is organized and sponsored by the church, as part of their work. It's like churches are conducting their business in the private residents of select members.

It's easy to imagine how this could cause problems in neighborhoods where homes are used to host small church groups, where attendance can easily get up to the high 40's -- the size of a small congregation.

The infrastructure of many neighborhoods isn't built to accommodate the influx of people with small group ministries, especially on a weekly basis.

And neighbors can become irritated when community property is used to bring in large numbers of people for church, presenting a safety risk with higher traffic and cars lining narrow streets.

Quite honestly, I don't want one of my neighbors hosting a church group every week, with twenty or thirty cars blocking the road, making it dangerous for kids to play and residents to go about their normal business. And what if three neighbors on the same street all hosted a small group the same evening, what would happen then?

As a result of men preaching false doctrines to tickle people's ears and create megachurches, using members' homes to accomplish part of their work, we may have more civil regulation limiting such practices. And those regulations could negatively impact members of the Lord's church.

But don't fear, God is in control!

To be continued.