Joel 2:23-26 (New International Version)
23 “Be glad, people of Zion,
rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given you the autumn rains
because he is faithful.
He sends you abundant showers,
both autumn and spring rains, as before.
24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm[a]—
my great army that I sent among you.
26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.”
On October 24th 2013, Catherine S. left the following comment on my blog “Fear No More”
“How wonderful to hear of Christ’s miracle in your life! As I read your post, I thought of Joel 2:23-26, and especially where the Lord says His people will be repaid “for the years the locusts have eaten.” I not only believe that God will continue in His faithfulness to heal you, but that the passage in Joel is a word for you.”
As I sit here one year later updating this blog post there are literally tears of gratitude and joy streaming down my cheeks again onto my very damp shirt. His presence in my life is utterly undeniable and I am so very, very grateful. This was my second straight October without a single PTSD episode in 15 years. In fact I have been PTSD episode free for over 14 months now. This freedom from flashbacks of brutal rapes and childhood sexual abuse is truly a miracle in my life and I praise Jesus for the peace that now floods my soul and mind. I still have the occasional mild flashback, but they no longer cause me great distress and that is saying a lot; because in the last 15 years I have had nearly 50 psychiatric hospitalizations and several serious suicide attempts.
The Lord sent His autumn rains to cleanse and purify all of my fall memories. I was four years old the first time I was molested and raped in a pile of autumn leaves and until last year the beautiful fall foliage brought to my mind only excessive fear and terror. Today I am not afraid and can actually enjoy all the colors that this season brings. Historically my Novembers have been as challenging and difficult as my Octobers, but with all of this positive Spiritual momentum I feel like, with the help of Jesus, I can face any obstacles that the next month may bring.
The locusts have indeed eaten a good portion of my last 15 years of life. Although in the last 3.5 years I have made significant progress in dealing with my childhood issues. I now feel that every area of my life is in the process of complete restoration. However, by my ex-wife’s choosing..our marriage is one thing that will not be restored. I understand her choice and I am glad to report that we are getting along well now and that our relationship as ex’s is about as good as it can be at this point. Every other area of my life is going amazingly well. Relationships with my children and friends are completely healed and GOD has placed the most wonderful and beautiful woman in my life. Janet truly loves Jesus and me, and it sure looks like she is “The One”. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically I have never felt better in all my 52 years.
Jesus has always been with me from my earliest childhood memories, (HE was there holding and comforting me during the abuse) but now there is an intimacy and a closeness that has been lacking in recent years due to the flashbacks. The relationship I now share with Jesus is more than worth having to go through 15 years of hell to obtain. As I draw closer and closer to Him, He does not retreat, but presses even closer to me than I could ever imagine or explain with mere words. This relationship leads me to connect with others in the Body of Christ even deeper than ever before. Our times of fellowship together encourage us to press more and more into the fullness of His Truth in Love. His mercy and grace carried me for 15 years and now all I want to do is carry His love, truth, mercy and grace to others who desperately need the touch of Christ in their lives Thank you for that word Catherine. It found roots in my heart and encouraged me greatly. I know that the prayers of many have been sent out for me over the years and I appreciate every single one of them. With the help of Jesus and His dear saints I can now stand upright and I am ready to be poured out for the sake of others now. If Jesus could rescue and deliver me I know He can do it for you too. Don’t give up! Sometimes it takes awhile (even 15 years), but you just might be His very next miracle.
Kirk Out !
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5: 11-12
Three people contacted me last night and two of them shared those exact verses with me, and the other person encouraged me in a very similar manner. All these friends knew was that the Holy Spirit prompted them to call and encourage me. They had no idea about my current circumstances. All I can say is that according to those verses I am in the process of being very greatly blessed the last few days.
In the last 48 hours in an online forum about house churches Two legalistic men have attacked and denounced me falling just short of calling me a false teacher. All this is because we have different understanding about some key issues in the Church. They say I have a low view of scripture because I refuse to elevate the written word to a place equal to or greater than Jesus Himself, because I feel that is idolatry. They say scripture is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. While I believe that only Jesus is THE final authority in all matters PERIOD. They also vehemently disagree with me when I say the Church needs to be Spirit led rather than bible led. We also part ways concerning the role of hierarchy in the Church. They believe in and support the need for a human hierarchy to rule over the Church based on gifting, gender and biblical knowledge. While I say we are all equal sibling peers in the Church under only the rule of Christ alone. They see the need for human rulers with great authority, but I see the need for true servants with equal authority in Christ. Finally I support the full equality of women in the Body of Christ in regards to all giftings and practice and they promote patriarchy where only males can ever lead and teach. Yes, there are very dysfunctional house churches out there that differ very little from most traditional “churches”.
Some would say to me that an online forum is no big deal and that I should just leave to avoid further conflict with these two men. Problem is that I have been called and equipped by Jesus to contend for the faith in situations just like this. I also am not the only one speaking for the ways of Christ rather than men there. Jim W. a dear brother in Christ had stood back to back with me fending off the assault of the enemy via these two very persuasive, highly intellectual men. Jim and I feel that we need to take a stand against the very traditional/Institutional teaching of these two men who tend to dominate the discussion at this forum of more than 550 people. There simply needs to be light in the midst of this darkness. So that those who visit there sincerely seeking a better more relational way to Church can find it there in this location. It would be Christlike to just present differing views and opinions concerning difficult beliefs and doctrines there, but these two men continually go for the jugular and place their feet on the neck of those with differing views. Demanding compliance to their understanding of such doctrines and scripture. It would be great if someone would step in to help moderate the discussions there, but these guys help administrate this forum so there is not much help or balance in sight. Brothers in Christ should be able to work through differences such as ours, but they are all but saying Jim and I aren’t even real Christians because of our views and lack of having the bible as our only standard. However, the deeper I go in Christ it seems that I become too radical for even the radicals.
Me? I accept anyone who loves Jesus and calls Him their Lord. If they follow Him in the big picture I am certain that any other details can be worked out over time and fellowship. If we agree on who Jesus is we should be able to walk together and figure the rest out in His good time. God hates divisions and to divide over doctrine before giving our sibling relationships a real chance to grow and mature is a HUGE mistake in my humble opinion.
The traditional “church” has many doctrinal obstacles in the way of true fellowship and life in Him. The same should not be true in totally open and free, organic, Spirit led and relational fellowship. Jesus never made me take a test about doctrine or scriptural knowledge in order to enter into a relationship with Him. He called me His friend and then began to teach me via the Spirit all I needed to know about life in Him and the Church. Cutting people off over doctrinal disputes is like aborting a baby before it grows to full term and is born. It takes time with Him to learn and grow into the disciples He intends us to be, but if we walk with Him and one another long enough we will all eventually grow up to where we can be fully birthed into His amazing truth and love. I don’t consider myself to be fully there yet, but I hope to be in the future. I would surely appreciate your prayers for Jim and I. Fighting the doctrine police is surely a difficult adventure. Jesus said we should be defined by our love for one another and not by our doctrines. I say a tree is known by its fruit.
Love and ……
Kirk Out !
P.s. Today Claudia’s family asked me to help them put together a memorial service for her. They continue to ask sincere questions about Jesus. Several are very close to inviting Him into their lives. Please pray for them and the memorial?
“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 !