What would you give up to follow Jesus? Better yet, what have you given up already? Anything? If salvation is a free gift, then why even have this conversation? I say it is because there are some things that are just beyond mere salvation. A deeper, more fulfilling relationship and walk with Jesus and others is one of those things.
Jesus has an interesting conversation with a rich young man in Matthew chapter 19. The young man claims to have kept some heavy commandments like, “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Yet Jesus said he still lacked one thing… That the young man still needed to go sell all of his possessions and give to the poor. It says that when “the young man heard this he went away sad because he had great wealth.”
I believe that we need to surrender everything in order to follow Jesus and to walk closely with Him. That includes more than just money or all the stuff we have accumulated in our lives. It includes any intellectual property or things we take pride in too. Paul put it this way in Philippians 3:7-8, ” But, whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish (garbage, dung, shit) , that I may gain Christ.” I don’t know about you, but I want more than to just be saved. I want to truly know Jesus and walk closely with Him in this life, as well as the next.
Does this mean that you will have to literally sell your home and all your belongings and give it all to the poor? For some of us, yes. But for the most of us it means to be totally sold out and willing to lay it all down if He requires it of us at any given time. What it really means is don’t allow your stuff to own or control you. We need to be free of the bondage and slavery to all of our belongings and the endless pride we have in our earthly accomplishments. My dear friend Glenn Kaiser puts it this way, ” It will cost you everything to follow Jesus, and it will cost you everything if you don’t.” So don’t cling tightly to all your trophies and prizes that you have gained in this life. Sometimes the thing we need to give up most is the recognition we have received for our gifts and talents.
Total surrender is a very difficult thing to do. Most of us never really surrender. What we really do most times is negotiate treaties. Always holding back a portion of ourselves and this is a sad way to live our lives before Christ and others. What part of, “Deny yourself.” did you not understand?
Love and …….
Kirk Out !
Friends, to me following Jesus is an *us* and *we* and not an *I* and *me* type of life and journey. Right at the very start of humankind God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Gen 2:18) We are meant to be part of a Body, part of a team, part of something bigger than just ourselves.
It seems that The Lord is continuing to place on my heart and mind the importance of every member ministry and The Priesthood of every believer. Today I am going to look at Ephesians 4:7-16 in a way that you may have never considered before. Many use this passage to further divide the church and support a Clergy/Laity division. In my experience and study what I have found concerning this passage is that it has much more to do with our being connected with *one another* and Jesus than it has to do with the so called “Power gifts”.
Starting with verse 7 it begins with, “But to *each one* of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” We *all* get a portion of grace and gifting and not just so called leaders. Continuing in verse 11… It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,” Notice that each gifting represented here is in small case letters, these are NOT titles to be given, but rather descriptions of various gifting and service. Continuing in verse 12..”to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up, until *we all* reach *unity* in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” It is quite clear that these gifts are meant to unify the church, but all too often these concepts are used to divide the church into Clergy and Laity, Leaders and followers, and gifted and pew warmers. It is my strong passionate belief that *every* member of the true church has been given a portion of the type of gifts described above and that all believers can at times function in these particular gifts when prompted by The Holy Spirit and given opportunity in the Body. When everyone get to share their God given portion and gifting all of God’s people get better prepared and equipped for true servanthood and great works of service both in the Church and to the world around us.
What happens when these gifts are allowed to flow naturally/supernaturally through all believers? Verse 14…. Then *we* will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, (in the Greek it involves more than speaking, it is literally ‘truthing’ in love, involving all we say or do and not just our words) *we* will in *all* things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From Him the *whole* body, joined and held together by *every* supporting ligament, grows and builds “itself* up in love, *AS EACH PART DOES ITS WORK.”
There it is! When the whole church and each and every member is allowed to function in their giftings, we really are able to grow up and accomplish the things of God together. Over the past 38 years I have witnessed and experienced the wonders of every member ministry. So I will ask this simple question once again… are you a gifted minister in the Body of Christ or are you paying someone else to try and do that for you?
Kirk Out !
Everyone is needed, valuable, and extremely important in the true Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. Every single person has God given gifts that are vital to The Body Of Christ. It is not just the Pastors or The Clergy that are supposed to be sharing and ministering. Every single member of the Church is a gifted minister and is supposed to be serving and sharing with others on a regular basis as led by the Holy Spirit.
First Corinthians chapter 12 makes this very clear where it says, “Now to *each one* the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” It goes on to list numerous different gifts such as wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues and interpretation. Verse 11 says that, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to *each one,* just as He determines. Everyone has Spirit endowed gifts of The Spirit. Spiritual gifts are not confined or regulated to or by the recognized leadership of any church or fellowship.
Fact is that in the Church every single member is extremely valuable and needed for the Body to operate and function as Jesus intended. One part of the body cannot say to another part of the body “I don’t need you.”; “so sit down in that pew and shut up and listen.” Then verse 25 makes it very clear that there should be “No divisions in the Body.” Yet most of the modern traditional church allows for and supports the Clergy/Laity division and it is a lie straight from the pit of Hell! The church should never be divided into Leaders and followers, gifted and non-gifted, Ministers and lay people, Speakers and listeners, male and female, old and young, Performers and spectators, active and passive, Priests and non-Priests. Because every member ministry is one of the vital key messages of the New Covenant. 1 Peter makes it totally clear that in Jesus *we* are a Priesthood of EVERY and ALL believers.
For it is written, “… when you come together, *everyone* has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. *All* of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:26) If this is not happening all of the time when you gather with other followers of Christ, then you are settling for something far different and far less than The Lord ever intended or envisioned for His Body.
Every member ministry is one of my passions. I long to see the Church operating at its full potential and that only happens when *everyone* gets to share their portion whenever the church gathers together. In most congregations one person preaches while hundreds of others sit and listen passively. This is not the way of Christ. The way of Jesus is full interactive discussion and dialogue with the entire whole body participating and interacting as much as possible as the Spirit leads.
In this episode of the original Star Trek television series Spock has to take the lead and command of an away team on a shuttle mission. He has to make several major, difficult, life or death decisions that end with mixed results. When the mission is over Spock is asked about how he felt about taking command and being a Leader. He gives an excellent response that I feel is the right attitude to have whenever one is called to lead. He says, ” I neither enjoy the idea of command, nor am I frightened by it. It simply exists.”
Leadership, it seems to me, has more books written about it than just about any other topic. Go to any bookstore and you will find a whole section dedicated to it. This is even true of Christian bookstores. Leadership in the Church, what it is and how it works, has been written about and discussed by Christians since the Church was birthed over 2000 years ago. It is my contention that the Traditional/Institutional Church has been getting Leadership all wrong since nearly its inception with few exceptions.
In most modern “Churches” The Pastor is The Leader and Head of his Church. I think Jesus would object to this since JESUS is The ONLY HEAD and LEADER of HIS Church. I don’t see leadership residing in one person per church. In my experience and study I have found leadership to be like a baton used in a relay race. Different members of the church take turns carrying the baton according to whoever is in The Spirit or has the anointing at any given moment. I don’t know about you, but I want to follow whoever Jesus is choosing moment by moment in the race. And leading is NOT reserved for any specific gender, race or age. ANYone can take the lead as Jesus chooses. Many times in our home fellowships it has been a female or a child that takes the lead. And we have never been mislead or disappointed at HIS choosing. Sure many times it is the more mature members that carry the baton during the longer and more difficult legs of the race, but the whole body gets to participate in leading as CHRIST wills. This does not negate the need for true elders in the fellowship. It just makes their role different than many traditionalists describe.
Leadership is quite often misunderstood by the Church at large. What can be confusing about it, is that Leadership is not really about Leading. It is really about following and servanthood. Paul never said follow me. He said “follow me, as I follow Christ.” Big difference! I would rather follow a good Christ follower than a Leader any day. The Lords most definitive words on leadership are found in Mark 10:42-45, “Jesus called them together and said, ‘you know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Leading the Jesus way is extremely different than the way that the world or the modern church leads. It is not a traditional or corporate model and it involves no climbing of the ladder. It is NOT a hierarchy with the Leader being on top. No it is rather the way of the servant and laying down and providing a wide strong foundation from the bottom for all. Leadership is not the big deal that men make it out to be. It is the simple way of the servant. It needs no platform or pulpit. Like Spock said, “It simply exists.” So just let it flow from Jesus and step up and take your turn when the baton is passed on to you.
Kirk Out !
We have a saying in Narcotics Anonymous that goes something like this, “I have never met anyone too dumb to get clean and sober, but I have met those who are too smart to ever get it.” In my over 35 years of clean time in recovery I have seen a lot of addicts come and go, and live and die and many have proven the statement given above to be true. It really does seem that some don’t get clean because their intellect gets in their way. Because of this they are unable to surrender to a simple 12 step lifestyle that could save them and help them avoid the troubles and woes that addiction brings. Problem is that when one has a grand intellect they sometimes try to think themselves out of terrible situations, instead of simply surrendering their will and life to God and HIS will for them.
The fact is that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up and the man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.” (1 Corinthians 8) When we are “puffed” up in this manner it is difficult to see anything except what is in our own big head. This is true of any problem that we face in this life and not just addiction. We really think we know better than even God in many situations and because of this we become our own worst enemy. Intellectual pride is a HUGE obstacle to overcome, because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) And let me tell you God’s grace, His unmerited favor, has gotten me out of more bad situations than my own best thinking ever has. In fact it is usually my own best thinking that gets me into the negative situations that HIS grace eventually pulls me out of.
Don’t get me wrong, a healthy intellect is something we could all benefit from. The problems come when we elevate our intellect to a place equal or above God’s will and ways. “For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” (1 Corinthians 1:19) It all boils down to what I have said here before..we “need to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) The key here is EVERY thought and not just the ones we think could be wrong or misguided. Because what might be right and prudent in one situation could be 100% wrong in the next. I think it is a HUGE problem when we pre-approve certain thoughts by our own carnal reasoning. When we do that we are just playing God and the potential for negative consequences is very high. The thing we need to always remember is God’s will, NOT my will, even when my will looks more feasible and attractive at the time. Because, “The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)
Kirk Out !