“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Timothy 4: 2
“……. “Death has been swallowed up in victory. “Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15: 54-57
Thursday night just after 8 pm. I found the nice older lady who lives in the apartment below me cold and dead in her chair. Her 20 something daughter came and got me when no one would answer her Mother’s door. I helped her daughter break in through the bedroom window, but we were too late to help.
Claudia was a kind and generous soul. She was my downstairs neighbor for over three years. Until just recently we did not have a lot of conversations, but starting about a month ago we seemed to always check our mailboxes at the same time. We normally did little more than exchange pleasantries, but 2 weeks ago I helped carry her groceries in from her car. This led to her asking me if I wanted a glass of fresh lemonade and that led to our very first lengthy conversation.
We must have talked for about a half hour and then she asked me to help her exchange her oxygen tanks. Claudia suffered from emphysema and I was glad to help. She knew I was a follower of Jesus from our brief communications over the years, but in that very moment I felt the Lord nudge me to talk to her frankly about the Holy Spirit. I told her I was familiar with breathing difficulties because I have had asthma in the past and my Mother had COPD before she died 13 years ago. Somehow (I don’t know how) that led to me explaining how the Spirit of Christ was like the breath of God and that the Wind of The Spirit could fill us and set us free in Christ.
Claudia’s face lit up as I was speaking the truth in love to her and after a few minutes she told me that she desired to have Jesus and the Spirit of Christ in her life. In that very moment I felt the Spirit come upon her and she invited The Lord Jesus to take charge of her life. At this point we were both in tears and I gave her a big hug and with a glad heart I welcomed her into the Body of Christ. This was clearly an upper room experience for the both of us.
Now I sit here two weeks later and Claudia has passed on to be with Jesus forever. Hard to believe for sure, but It seems that Claudia had been witnessing to her family and friends at great length during her last days on earth. I am now fielding numerous questions about Jesus and the one true faith from Claudia’s family and friends. To the point that I have given away all my bibles again. What a very nice problem to have. All of this just serves to prove that if you simply live your life for Jesus…HE will give you opportunities to share your faith in Him with neighbors and others along the way….no matter what season you find yourself in. Jesus is REAL! For over three years I was able to plant very small seeds in Claudia’s heart and mind by just being available to Jesus during very small exchanges of pleasantries and by serving her once in awhile by helping her carry in her groceries. In short, I was just being a good neighbor. So I prayed for her and waited for the opportunity for our conversations to turn towards Christ. Finally when she was ready so was I, and the rest is HIStory.
Kirk Out !
p.s. I would appreciate your prayers? Finding Claudia cold and dead has triggered some flashbacks about finding my own Mother cold and dead 13 years ago. So far I am coping pretty well, but these are tough memories.
Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I believe that every member of The Body of Christ is an equal peer under ONLY Jesus. I contend that all Christ followers are true siblings and that no believer ever has the “rule” over and above other believers. Many in the traditional “church” believe in Ruling Elders and that only Clergy are to be in charge over the church. I say that ONLY Jesus is The Head, Ruler and true Shepherd of His Church.
It seems that most traditional “church” Pastors disagree with my stance on church leadership. I mention these Pastors here because they often quote Hebrews 13: 17 as a validation of having humans rule over others in the church. Today I want to take an honest look at that verse and determine what it might really mean to all of us in His Church.
We are going to look at several English translations of that particular verse. However, there is no real good substitute for the Greek. I took three years of Koine Greek in college, but that was 25 years ago. Now with the Internet and computer tools we can all finally delve into real meanings that can be eye opening. For example;
Hebrews 13:17a Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: – KJV
Hebrews 13:17a Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them [continually recognizing their authority over you] – Amplified
Hebrews 13:17a Keep constantly obeying your rulers, and constantly be
submitting to them – Wuest
The Amplified and Wuest both do a better job bringing in the concept of
continuing action that is only implied in the KJV
However, translators that want to appease the King and church (or today get endorsements that increase sales) do not want to “rock the traditional boat”. King James would never endorse a translation that did not support hierarchy and men ruling over other men. The King James translators were biased towards human leadership and rule in the church because they knew the King could have their heads if their words did not support Kings and Clergy.
Let us look at three Greek words that are prominent in this verse:
Peitho – persuasion
Hegeomai – chosen leader
Hupeiko – military term to stop fighting after a loss
Then taking the Greek into consideration the verse should read like this:
Hebrews 13:17a Stop resisting and allow yourself to be persuaded by
those you have chosen to follow.
Now that translation of the Greek seems to me, to better line up with what Jesus showed us about leadership in the church. It also comes more into line with what Paul taught about authority in the church. This translation makes the whole concept of leadership more relational, as it should be. Instead of being ruled and made to obey someone in a position over us, we instead have freedom of choice to be persuaded by someone we want to follow because of the life we have seen them live before us. This is not being commanded or told what to do by someone with a title or position. This is us voluntarily wanting to follow someone we love, know and appreciate because we have a relationship with them. In a free church submission is always voluntary and never forced. We should never be forced to follow anyone’s lead, even if they are licensed, ordained and have a title that makes them sound important. Jesus does not force us to follow Him, so why should we ever follow ANYone who tries to force us to submit, listen to and follow them because of position or title? True submission occurs when we realize that someone has laid down their life for us and that they are acting in our best interest in any given situation. It is always about relationship and never about power, manipulation and control.
In most traditional “churches” Leadership is top heavy and always top down. That is not the way that it should be among us followers of Jesus. Jesus led by example as did Paul and others. In the church it should never be about edicts or commands from those in recognized Leadership. The two main things I always look for in someone I might follow are love and humility. The reason I follow any peer is that I see that they are following Christ Jesus. A true leader does not seek to lead, no they seek to follow HIM. Leadership is merely a by-product of following and abiding in Jesus.
Love and ……
Kirk Out !
In the movie, “Star Trek 6 The Undiscovered Country” Spock quoted this old Vulcan (Ha Ha) proverb to Captain Kirk just before they were to host a diplomatic dinner with The Klingon Chancellor and his advisors aboard the Starship Enterprise. Problem is the last thing Kirk wants to do is to discuss peace with a Klingon because a Klingon murdered his son and he is still nursing deep wounds over that incident. Kirk has an extensive history with the Klingons including battle situations, and he tends to view them as “animals” because of past history and what happened with his son.
Peace is not something that Kirk sees as desirable or even possible. He has been wronged and he is unwilling to forgive or let go of his personal pain. How many of us have been there? Most likely not due to the loss of a son, but wronged and unwilling to forgive is a place that most of us visit at least once in our lives. I know I have spent a season or two there and I definitely do not recommend it. Being unwilling to forgive damages our “heart” and leads to bitterness. And bitterness is a stone cold killer that destroys everything in its path, including relationships. There can be no peace where bitterness is allowed to live. So, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Forgiveness is the key that unlocks our hearts and allows us to truly live free in Jesus. Refusing to forgive brings severe bitterness, rage, anger and eventually malice. Malice is defined as “a desire to harm others or to see others suffer.” An “Eye for an eye” may sound reasonable for severe offenses, but it is not the way of Jesus or the cross. In the long run such attitudes and behavior only cause us to suffer. Other people will wrong us in this life, and it is how we respond to such wrongs that helps define our lives. Because we are to, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see The Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:14-15)
We need to remember who forgiveness is for. We forgive because Jesus desires us to and because it sets US free. The person we forgive will still have to stand before God due to their offense. Forgiveness lets us off the hook, not them.
Captain James T. Kirk eventually forgave the Klingons. Who do we need to forgive TODAY?
P.s. Great news here…Amanda my oldest is pregnant. She had her ultrasound today and we found out she and Alan are having twins. They are due April 19th. My birthday is the 16th. We are all very excited!
“A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way.” Jeremiah 5: 30-31
Wow! I find it amazing how this Old Testament passage just pegs most of the modern Traditional/Institutional “church”. Much of what is being taught and “prophesied” in the “church” at large these days falls way short of being the truth in love. Nowadays we see “The Purpose Driven Life” being lauded as the way to go; instead of the Spirit led life. We see the extremes of works righteousness and total, ultimate grace being presented as the truth with very little balance to be found. As always the three fold mantra of “Go to church, pay your tithe, and read your bible” seems to reign supreme. Along with “submit” to the Pastor’s authority. Reading the bible can be an extremely productive thing except when they say it must be read always and solely through the lens of proper “church” leadership and doctrine. To them the top down hierarchy of leadership must always be preserved and by doing so they cripple the Body of Christ. They teach primarily the things that lead only to being in bondage to the modern “church” system of doing things. Sure there may be some exceptions, but on the whole many lies are being shared and propagated in the “church” today.
Priests, Pastor’s and others who rule by their own authority are holding the Body Of Christ back in numerous ways. Ruling is a major problem in the “church” today. Because in the New Testament those who God calls to help lead the church are supposed to do so by serving and NOT by ruling. And they should serve only by HIS authority and NOT their own. The only chain of command found in the New Testament is that JESUS is the ONLY King, Ruler and Head of His Church and we all follow Him. True servants serve in the Body of Christ and we should only follow them as they follow Christ. I will not follow a human Leader, but I will follow the Christ I find in other sisters and brothers in the Lord as they go about following Him.
Does God ever get sad? I know that Jesus wept and was a man of many sorrows. I think it is very sad that God’s people love that prophets prophesy lies and that Leaders are doing so by their own authority. How dysfunctional is that? A church that fosters co-dependency on it’s human Leaders instead of full and total dependency on Christ and Christ alone; is a very unhealthy church indeed. I often weep for the Church and pray that it shall one day return to Jesus who is it’s first and only true love. Don’t settle for human substitutes! Claim only Jesus as your King and follow only Him first and foremost.
Love and …..
Kirk Out !
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55: 6
Thursday morning I was watching Fleetwood Mac perform live on the TODAY SHOW. They are one of my favorite bands from the 70’s. I just have always loved their sound. One of the things I really liked about them is that they have three lead vocalists who also sing harmony extremely well. That morning as they played the song “Go Your Own Way” there was a red banner behind the stage that read, “SEEK JESUS NOT CHURCH”. That simple phrase instantly struck me as a Spiritual truth and it has been on my heart and mind since I first saw it. I do not think that the band was responsible for the banner, but I guess it is a possibility even though they have been known to practice witchcraft and abuse cocaine in the past. Either way I will certainly be praying for them from now on.
“SEEK JESUS NOT CHURCH”, That certainly does ring very true to me. It makes great sense because it is Jesus that defines the Church and certainly not the other way around. In fact much of the mess that most of the Traditional/Institutional “Church” has become comes from its attempting to define who Jesus is for themselves and outsiders. The Jesus they present is exclusive and not inclusive and many times quite angry and judgemental. Their Jesus condemns sin and sinners instead of being the One who reconciles All to right standing with God in spite of their sins. Their Jesus rubber stamps and approves of them isolating themselves from the world and hating those still in it. Their Jesus divides while the true Jesus unites. Finally their Jesus has love and redemption, but only for those who meet their conditions and criteria. When you seek Church instead of Christ you end up with the Christ they preach and define instead of the One True living and all loving and forgiving Jesus Christ Who is Lord over all creation.
If you desire life, love and truth SEEK JESUS and allow Him to fully define and reveal Himself to you. For in that process He will also introduce you to the true Church, the Body of Christ who gladly welcomes whosoever will into its outstretched arms of mercy and grace. The true Church is always about relationship and not dead religion. The true Church is about total freedom in the Spirit and not rules and legalism. The false Church is about traditions, conditions and the Law. The true Church knows that the Letter of the Law kills, but the Spirit always gives life and more freedom. The false Church sets itself up as judge, jury and makes God into the executioner. I am not meaning to be so harsh, but in comparison there are HUGE differences between the true Church of Jesus and the other one out there claiming to be His, but in reality is man centric instead of Christ centric.
All I really know is this….. Jesus loves you and if you seek Him you will find Him. When you receive Him His Spirit will fill and guide you into all truth, even the truth about Church. So don’t put the cart before the horse and instead seek Him first and allow Him to reveal Himself to you. The Love of Christ is unconditional. Being in Christ is a lifelong journey of discovering the truth in love. It is my sincere hope and prayer that whoever reads this finds Him and then at HIs leading discovers true fellowship with others in the glorious Bride of Christ which is the one true Church. Please do not settle for anything less than His Love, Grace and Truth.
Kirk Out !
“Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. 1 Corinthians 10: 14-17
I don’t really know how to begin today, so I will just dive in head first. The most troublesome idol in the church today is “THE MINISTRY”. It elevates some members of the body over and above all the other members. “THE MINISTRY” divides us when we should all be unified. To say that some of us should be separated from and placed above other members in any sort of hierarchy just screams idolatry. That’s right all Pastor/pewsitter, Clergy/laity, and Gifted/regular divisions promote idolatry and destroy true unity and our oneness in Christ.
In the Body of Christ we are ALL special and gifted. To say that some of us are more special and gifted than the rest lends itself to the development of idols in our midst. In the true Body of Christ we are all equal sibling peers under only Jesus. It is nothing but pure idolatry to place persons in positions of trust and authority over the rest of the Body.
In the true church everyone is a minister and NOT just the Pastor, so the idol of “THE MINISTRY” does not even exist. However, when the “church” is run like a business instead of a living body positions are created and slots or offices need to be filled for the organization to run smoothly. In short we create idols when we place women or men in positions of authority in the “church”.
Ministry is something that flows naturally and supernaturally from the life of a follower of Jesus. “THE MINISTRY” is a man-made, perhaps demonically inspired idol that ultimately divides and does great damage to those left in its wake. I know I am sharing a very difficult and harsh word, but it needs to be shared so that everyone in the church can eventually be free from the oppression and bondage of the false “church” system.
Love and …….
Kirk Out !
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,.. Romans 8: 1
I quote this passage today because I have some dear friends who are very close to me that are having a lot of trouble walking in this truth. They love Jesus, but are living in a perpetual state of self condemnation. Because of this they feel they are unfit and unworthy to serve God or to be in relationship with those who are serving God. This is exactly the lie that the enemy wants them to believe.
When we condemn ourselves for our shortcomings instead of receiving the grace that Christ’s sacrifice provided for all of us, we are playing God with our own lives and calling God a liar. We are saying that the blood of Jesus did not fully cleanse us and that we know ourselves better than God does. When we deny Christ in this manner it always leads us to be angry, hurt and resentful towards not only ourselves, but also towards God and others.
Whom the Son sets free is free indeed and we should not pass harsh judgment on ourselves and deny ourselves of His grace, mercy and love. Sometimes I am very critical of myself and when I put myself in that frame of mind it always leads to me condemning me. When I allow that mindset it also always leads me to withdraw from fellowship with others who are serving Him.
Guilt and condemnation NEVER come from The Lord. NEVER! The only cure for self condemnation is to take our eyes off of ourselves and our shortcomings and to instead focus totally on Jesus and all He has done to set us free. Then we must accept His unconditional love and grace, knowing full well that no one is worthy on our own merit and that we all need Him to be our Redeemer and Lord.
If you get anything out of this simple blog today let it be this: NO matter how many steps we take away from The Lord, it is always only one small step back into His loving arms. In fact less than a step, simply TURN towards Him and He will embrace you with HIs Love, mercy and forgiveness. He never leaves or forsakes us. Not even when we choose to have a bad attitude concerning our own walk with Him. It is by grace we are saved! I know you give grace freely to others, but how about giving yourself some today?
Kirk Out !