“If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent – not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven – if there was anything to forgive – I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2: 5-11
Satan loves to see divisions in the body of Christ. If he can divide and separate us from each other he knows he has a better chance of winning others over to his side of the battle. Unity of The Spirit attracts people to the one true faith. While ugly divisions tend to drive people away. The Spirit and the flesh are at war with each other. With The Spirit comes acceptance and love. The flesh thrives on controversy and can be very divisive. A house divided cannot stand. Satan’s schemes and devices are intended to drive wedges between members of Christ’s body and between us all and God.
The enemy wants us to expel from the church those who sin. Satan would have us devour one another in the name of Christ. This is not the way of Jesus our Lord. Jesus wants us to forgive, comfort and love those among us who stumble and fall. Even those who have sinned greatly against us. God is all about restoration and not separation and division. Spiritual elitism that puts people in different classes within the body due to certain giftings or even sins is dead wrong. There is no class system in the true body of Christ.
As I have said many times God hates division. You have heard me speak out against the Clergy/Laity division, calling it the worst division in the church. However, it may just have an equal. That equal being the division between good sinners and bad sinners. We all sin, but many times we view certain sins as being worse than others. In making this judgement we further divide the body of Christ. Because only God can determine the difference between a sheep and a goat. Besides there is no such thing as a good sin in the first place.
Friends, it is far past time that we forgive, comfort and reaffirm our love for people who have sinned against us. The true test of our faith is whether or not we will be obedient to love and forgive those who have done us wrong. This is not an easy task. It took me years to be able to forgive my father for raping and sexually abusing me as a child. However, when I finally did I found the most healing and peace that I had ever known. Forgiving others does not give them a free pass from God’s judgement. What it does is set us free in this life, so that we can live and love beyond our scars and wounds. If we want healing and restoration in this life, it bests serves us to offer the same to those around us who need it now. If we say we are followers of Jesus then we better be willing to say “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”, just like He did.
Kirk Out !
“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9: 19-22
When we gathered for free and open home fellowship today a dear sister suggested that we look into these verses together. We then spent over an hour discussing this passage and what we collectively saw in it. The discussion was lively, very deep and even included some gems of wisdom from a 14 year old. As we wrestled with Paul’s words together it became abundantly clear to us that it is very important that we remain flexible in the hands of God. That God may want us to go to various extremes in order to reach others with the message of grace, truth and love.
We agreed that our approach to conveying His message may vary greatly from person to person and that a cookie cutter application of the Gospel will rarely, if ever, work. Our study also reaffirmed that winning others to Christ is a vitally important aspect of being an everyday Christ follower and that becoming all things to all men is something Jesus still wants us to do even in this day and age. Everyone in the room freely admitted that they fell short of the ideal in this area, but we also all agreed that we would like to do better in the future. Becoming weak or vulnerable for the sake of others takes some serious self denial and that is never easy, but neither is any calling from God.
Most of all we agreed that sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit in each and every situation was key to reaching those yet to fully know Jesus. All the bible verses in the world pale in comparison to a simple cup of cold water given in His name. Knowing the bible means nothing if you cannot reach out and literally touch someone with the truth in love. Many times a simple hug or listening ear will speak volumes more than a clever bible quote. Someone also pointed out that in every situation who God calls, He also equips. Being an effective Christ follower is never confined by natural ability. In fact it is always based on availability to His call rather than our human abilities and skills.
All in all it was a wonderful time in Christ together and to top it all off we feasted on roasted rosemary pork loin, garlic mashed potatoes, baked beans with mega bacon, deviled eggs, and an assorted fruit and cheese plate. I feel sorry for those who only take communion with a tiny cracker and a thimble of juice, but I feel more sorry for those who only get to sit in rows and passively listen to a sermon/monologue instead of being able to participate in a Spirit led discussion whenever they gather.
Kirk Out !
“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.”‘ But wisdom is proved right by her actions.” Matthew 11: 16-19
Does anyone else find it odd that Jesus loved and was a friend of tax collectors and sinners, but the vast majority of traditional/institutional “church” members avoid folks like that like the plague? Many seem to preach and follow the doctrine of separation. Which calls for “saints” to totally avoid sinners at just about all cost. Jesus certainly did not live that way and neither should we.
Jesus lived, loved, and walked among every type of person in the communities He served, lived in and visited. Not even the lepers were unclean to Him. In fact the people He had the most difficulties with were the Pharisees who valued Law and separation over and above relationship. Seems to me that there are a great number of modern day Pharisees in the “Church” today. They are people who lift doctrine, Law and “right” teaching over relationship, grace, mercy and love.
In true community everyone is accepted and loved, even sinners. Which raises this huge question…. are there any sinners in your life? Or is your circle of community drawn so small and tight that it only includes members of your “church”? Seems to me that Jesus was saying that we all need to play, dance, sing, eat, drink and mourn together with people from all walks of life. If your “Christian” life is so narrow that no “sinner” can be a part of it at any time… I think you miss the true message of Jesus and have settled for something far less than Christ.
Of course this whole conversation begs the question of… who is not a sinner in the first place? Jesus emptied Himself, left heaven and His Father to come to earth as a mortal child and then as a mortal man loved us so much that He freely gave His life for all of us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5: 8) Jesus is the friend of sinners and if you can fully grasp that in your heart and mind, you would have no problem whatsoever welcoming sinners into your life too. We are all called to love and serve whoever comes into our lives. To actually lay down our lives for our friends, and if your definition of “friend” is too narrow… I am certain that Jesus weeps.
Kirk Out !
Ferengi are aliens in the Star Trek universe that love money and all things mammon. It seems their purpose in life is to make a profit in anything they do. The way of the Ferengi is in direct opposition to the ways of Jesus. “For the love of money (mammon/stuff) is a root of all kinds of evil. And it is further written that, Some people, eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10) The desire for money is just not the way of the cross.
What does this all mean for people who make money off of the Gospel? I think it puts them in a place that God never intended for them to be. Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians 2:17….”Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like someone sent from God.” Seems pretty darn clear that making any sort of profit because of ministry is not God’s way. That certainly shows that most televangelists and prosperity preachers are in the wrong. Paul went even further in 1 Corinthians 9:12 where he basically said that getting paid as an apostle would “hinder and discredit” the Gospel of Christ.
From my study and experience it looks to me that ministers should not get pay for their gifts and service to the church. I know that sounds extreme, and perhaps it is, but it seems crystal clear to me. When I study the New Testament I see Paul tentmaking and getting a job whenever it is possible for him to do so. Sure there were, at times, love offerings and gifts to support him when he was in chains or unable to work. However, he NEVER took a salary to do the work of The Lord.
What does this mean to modern day Pastors and ministers serving the church. I am pretty sure that it means that they shouldn’t get paid… period! In fact if they are getting paid this is what Jesus has to say about it, He says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” (John 10:11-13) To me this implies that Jesus is the only good shepherd and that all the others are not so good. It definitely says that being a hired hand and getting paid to work with the sheep is totally wrong.
I have known some good Pastors over the years, but I still feel that their position and pay goes against God’s best will. Ministry is a calling and not a job or profession. Churches should use their resources for missions and to take care of widows, orphans, and others in need. Paying someone to lead in the church puts pressure and expectations on that person to perform, but it also takes pressure off those being served in the congregation and makes then passive spectators. The New Testament call is for every member ministry and paying Pastors and such tends to inhibit the Body of Christ in numerous very negative ways.
If the most excellent way is love, then we should all freely love and care for others. When one gets paid to love, it is called prostitution. Need I say more?
Love and …….
Kirk Out !
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3: 15-17
The Lord has me camped out in the book of Colossians and I am just loving it. I have always been drawn to this particular passage because it is so rich and affirming. Yes, we should allow the peace of Jesus to rule in our hearts. In fact “rule” in this passage means to act as an umpire; meaning that His peace should always be the deciding factor and only arbitrator in every decision we make. That’s right, Jesus is the one that gets to call all the shots, be it fair, foul, safe or out. We always need to surrender our will to His because He is Lord and knows what is best for us in every situation.
We also need to allow Jesus to live deeply in us because we need to be teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom. Did you catch the full weight of those words? NOTICE: It is WE that get to teach and admonish one another. It is NOT a Pastor that is called to do this; it is EACH and EVERYONE of us. Again, it is every member ministry and never a one man show. Plus together we all get to sing all sorts of different songs to our Lord. Many of the home fellowships I am involved in write their very own original songs. We have found this extremely fun and rewarding. There is nothing wrong with singing songs written by men dead centuries ago, but to sing fresh and relevant songs is a great blessing.
Finally, this passage closes with “WHATEVER” we do in “word or deed”, we should do it “ALL” in The Name of Jesus. God wants your whole life and not just a portion of it. Too many believers just give 10% of their incomes, an hour on Wednesday night and an hour and a half on Sunday morning to God. Jesus wants our entire being surrendered to Him, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. I also think it is good to remember here that there are some things (sins, behaviors, habits) that can never really be done in The Name of Jesus. We need to always be aware of the fact that we are His ambassadors and that WHEREVER we may be; we are stepping on His mission field. Unbelievers, friends and family are watching every move we make and so is He. So I say bring it on and thanks be to God!
Kirk Out !
I know I am different and not quite right off the rack, but one of my favorite moments from the Star Trek movies is found in “GENERATIONS”. It is the scene where Picard has gone into the reality altering NEXUS RIBBON and he has found Captain Kirk. They are riding horses and Kirk jumps over a chasm, turns around and jumps the same chasm again. He has a look of dismay on his face and he looks at Picard and says, “That wasn’t real.” You see Kirk had jumped at that very spot dozens of times in his life and he always felt some danger and excitement in his gut, but not this time. This time he knew that because he was in the NEXUS that the jump was not authentic or real. He realized that he was living within a fantasy, and that did not please or satisfy him. At first Kirk enjoyed the NEXUS because he could relive wonderful moments in his life, but after his realization at the chasm he knew that in his heart he required life to be real and not fake.
Picard came to the NEXUS to recruit James T. Kirk for a dangerous and life threatening mission. At first Kirk balked because he was enjoying the benefits of living in the fantasy that the NEXUS provided. However, upon Kirk’s discovery that the NEXUS was not reality, he quickly agreed to go on Picard’s mission to save others and The Enterprise and its crew. Kirk knew full well that this was a very dangerous life or death situation, but the good Captain chose grim reality over staying in a world that was not real.
Now ask yourself the question….. which choice would you make? Beyond that speculation based on Sci-fi, what choices do you make in everyday life? Do you choose what is real and authentic or do you chase fantasies? Is the life you live centered in the reality of Christ Jesus and all that means, or do you refuse to live life on life’s terms? I know, HUGE questions, but what are your sincere answers? Proverbs 13:5 states, “The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked use it to bring shame and disgrace.” Is being true and real more important to you than having vain imaginations just so you can look better in front of your peers and others? Is having ANY fantasy in your real life, beyond simple entertainment, ever a good thing? When people look to, into, and at you do they really get what they see? Are you authentic to the core? Ecclesiastes 5:7 says, “Much fantasy and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.”
Being insincere or fake is the antithesis of being a true Christ Follower. After all Jesus is The Truth and if we are truly to be called His, then we must also be truthful and transparent as He was. Captain Kirk chose a real death rather than a false life. So did Jesus. As my dear friend Glenn Kaiser says, “It will cost you everything to follow Jesus, and it will also cost you everything if you don’t.” So why hold back and hold onto the fantasies in your life? You say you want to be more like Jesus? Then BE more like Jesus and don’t hold back the truth in ANY part of your life. Because being fake is just not worth it. And others are watching you and they desperately need the truth from you, it could make a huge difference in their lives.
Love and ……
P.s. Being totally authentic and real is not always easy in this life. Yet, as individuals it is something that Christ requires of us. Now widen the scope to collections of individual Christians…what we call the Church. Is the “church” you attend fully truthful, authentic and real? Or is it just a Sunday morning show complete with hip music, lights and an entertaining pep talk? In the end the true Church is all about authentic relationship with Christ and one another, relationships that run even deeper than family. Without deep fellowship and sincere involvement in each others lives on more than Sundays we will never really be the Church that Jesus meant for us to be. Me? I am done with the fake, false and insincere. I would rather have one tiny bit of what is truthful and real…than a whole shitload of something less than genuine. So I choose what is simple, organic, true and relational over the imposter every day. My path is rarely easy, but I embrace it’s gritty reality with a kung fu death grip and say to Jesus ……bring it on!
“Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.”
“…and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.” Matthew 6: 12
Forgiveness is a HUGE topic and what we believe and practice concerning forgiveness pretty much impacts our lives every single day. As in all things how we approach forgiveness can either be a major positive force in our lives or a serious negative millstone around our very own necks. I have found the best way to approach forgiveness is direct and head on. For if we do not give our full attention to it…. unforgiveness can blindside us like a runaway freight train and leave us in ruins.
This was my very first fall, winter and spring without a serious PTSD episode in 15 years, and I haven’t had a significant flashback in over ten months now. Many factors contributed to my overall positive mental health this fall including prayer, counseling, medication, an awesome positive relationship, and depth of fellowship with Christ and His Body. However, perhaps the greatest single factor has been my ability to finally let go of the pain, shame and hate that I have held against my father for his horrific rapes and abuse he inflicted upon me as a child. In short, I just forgave him.
Many times in the last 15 years I thought I had forgiven him, but each time I still held on to minuscule amounts of inner rage and hatred. Letting all that go has lifted a very heavy burden from my life and right now I feel more open and free than I ever have in life. Now when judgement against my father rises within my inner being I choose to forgive again at that very moment and the negative feelings are totally released into the care of God. Because of forgiveness I am now free and the Peace of Christ floods my mind and Spirit and cleanses away all the negative thoughts and feelings related to the abuse. Oh I still have memories, but the memories are now submitted to Christ and no longer hold any power against me.
I seriously questioned the Lord and myself as to why I had not forgiven my father any sooner, and the answer was that I was neither ready or able until recently. These things take time and should not be rushed. In the end it was not at all about my father deserving forgiveness, but rather about me deserving peace. Plus I finally understood that I am affected by the measure that I forgive others. Holding back forgiveness for ANY reason, just holds us back. It does not affect those who sinned against us at all. If I truly forgive as Christ forgave me…it changes my whole universe for the better. Like I said, forgiveness is a HUGE topic and I have only scratched the mere surface of it here today. Give grace, give mercy, give love, give forgiveness, and it changes your whole world. I know my world has been rocked by it for the better. Today I choose to forgive and because of that I am at peace, joyful and well.
Kirk Out !