“Paul, an apostle-sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead…” Galatians 1: 1
“But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles-only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.” Galatians 1: 15-24
Several quick points here…
1. Paul was sent directly by God. He did not have to be endorsed by a Pastor/Leader, “church” council or any missions board.
2. Paul did not consult with anyone, including others who were apostles of his day.
3. It was three years before he even went to Jerusalem and met Peter and James.
4. All this being said…when The Lord leads you to go somewhere or do something, you can just do it. You do not need approval or permission from any person or group. If you trust His Voice you can just flow in the Spirit and do ANYTHING He calls you to. Problem is that most do not know or trust His Voice, even though the bible states that His sheep hear His Voice and obey. It is a matter of hearing His actual Voice and not second hand revelation from the mouth of another. It is all about hearing His audible Voice, at least it will seem audible to you when you hear it. NOTICE: It does not say that His sheep will read the bible and obey. This is about intimately knowing and recognizing the Voice of our Lord and then following exactly what He says. The big question now is do you trust Him and His Voice?
Ask yourself the following questions:
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1: 10
Just who are you trying to please? And why? If you are going to follow and serve God then just go ahead and serve Him as His Voice leads you. Forget about the approval and acceptance of mere men. Paul did not return to Jerusalem for another 14 years after his first encounter with Peter. And when he did return he opposed and rebuked Peter to his face, because Peter was listening to the voices of the Jews instead of The Voice of The Lord. Peter compromised the truth in love and was honoring Jewish Law over and above the message of Grace. How often do we compromise what His Voice tells us in order to keep the peace and win the approval of mere men?
I know I am asking difficult questions, but know that I am asking myself the very same questions and I am definitely not measuring up 100% of the time. It’s simple….hear His Voice and obey, but we tend to over complicate it in our daily lives. Today I choose to listen to The Lord…knowing full well that who HE calls HE also equips. Stop measuring yourself by external standards like the Law and peer pressure. Jesus always compensates for what you may lack. Now is the time to just BE obedient and follow His Voice today.
Kirk Out !
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15: 12-17
This is oh so very simple. Jesus desires that we love Him and one another. We were created to be in an agape love relationship with the Lord and each other. He wants to be friends with us. We are called to be in a relationship with Him that goes deeper and is much more personal than He just being Master and us being His servants. Christ’s example indicates that being friends is perhaps our highest calling in this life. This relates to my last blog about making disciples. The best and most effective way of making disciples is via friendship. That is exactly how Jesus treated and taught His disciples.
Friend to friend is how we reach others for the Kingdom, not teacher to student, Pastor to “layperson” or Clergy to “laity”. Knowing these things should lead us to view everything through the lens of relationship, instead of the lens of religion, tradition or doctrine. When we read and try to understand the bible we should do so in a relational manner. The Spirit will lead us into all truth and I say that all truth is relational truth. When we approach the bible in this manner we will see it as living, alive and real; instead of a book of rules, dead letter and regulations. If you look for relationship, love and freedom you will find it there. However, if you take a non-relational approach you will just find religion instead of Christ. Taking a purely academic approach will fail you also. To understand the text you will have to use your heart more than your head. They say most people miss God by only 18 inches…the distance between your brain and your heart.
Jesus is the King of Kings and He commands that we be in a loving relationship with Him and one another. To make a friend you have to be a friend. It involves laying your heart and everything else on the line. To know Jesus is to Love Him and to love Him you must surrender everything, including your personal comfort zones. In the process of making friends you end up making disciples. The challenge is to love Jesus and those He places in your life every single day.
Kirk Out !
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5: 21
I quote this verse today because Jorge made a thought provoking statement in a comment on a long ago blog. He said this…..”Without submission there is no discipleship.” I believe there is truth in that statement, but not in the way Jorge intended it.
When Jesus gave “The Great Commission” He made it very clear that a primary purpose of the Church was to “make disciples” or to help others develop a deep and meaningful relationship with God. The traditional “church” is failing miserably at this because they think it can be done by right preaching, teaching and correct doctrine. Few, if any, disciples can be made from a pulpit; but that is their main plan.
The only way to make true disciples is via personal relationship. If you open up and share your very life with someone, you then are given the opportunity to share the gospel too. In healthy relationships there is always mutual submission and a free & open exchange of convictions, thoughts and ideas. The key is that we come alongside each other and never seek a place above someone else. We should never forget that in Christ we are all sibling peers. Differently gifted at times, but still mutual peers at all times.
Jesus desires that His Church would operate in total unity and love. This can never happen where a human hierarchy exists. Because when there are offices and positions that place some Christ followers over and above other Christ followers there is no true unity. How can we ever be ONE in Christ unless everything is mutual and shared, including leadership? Never forget that everyone in His Church is gifted and called. If we would truly submit to one another out of reverence for Christ…. the Church would be transformed and new disciples would be made every day. The way we overcome and grow is brother to brother, sister to sister, friend to friend, and NOT Pastor to congregation. We need each other in the Body of Christ. Cast down all your crowns and titles and seek His face today in one accord.
Kirk Out !
” When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Matthew 8: 5-10
Yesterday while driving home from Laura’s place I happened to notice a police patrol car parked in front of a gas station near where I was pulled over last week. Hoping to see officer Matt again I pulled into the store lot and went inside. He was not in there, but I approached another policeman and asked him if Matt was on duty today. This officer named Michael told me that Matt was off today. I then asked Michael to tell Matt that Christopher was still praying for him and his son Issac. Michael then said, “Wait a minute, you’re that long haired Jesus freak who gave Matt that heretical book last week.” I said, guilty as charged.
Michael then told me that Matt gave him the book to read saying “This book will rock your world.” Michael then read the book the very same day it was given to him and he loved every single word. The book confirmed to Michael that “Church as usual” fell WAY short of God’s ideal for the Body of Christ. However, in many ways the book left him with more questions than answers. He told me that traditional “church” services gave him no voice or fulfillment and he just knew there had to be a better way to serve and learn from Jesus. His big question was, “What do I do now that I know the truth and can’t go back to Egypt?”
I told him he was now in for the biggest adventure of his life. That now is the time to learn directly from Jesus and the Holy Spirit without the need for a Pastor or other earthly human mediator. Plus you have Matt and Matt has you as a true brother in the faith and that is a wonderful place to start. Michael then told me that their wives had also read the book and were on board for the next step, “Whatever that may be?” I encouraged Michael to keep things as simple as possible. To get together for fellowship and meals as often as possible and to share life with one another as HE leads.
Michael then wanted to know if I would help them along the way. I said, “Sure, but only if you treat me as a brother and not some kind of pseudo-pastor.” I said the key was keeping Christ the central thing in our lives, both individually and as a group. Then I encouraged Michael by telling him that there are many other Christ followers out there gathering for relational, simple, organic, home fellowship without all the bells, whistles and distractions of the traditional “church.” I told him he was going to thoroughly enjoy being free from the bondage of institutional religion. I said it was not an easy path to follow, but it was 100% real and totally worth whatever it may cost along the way. Because truth be told it will cost you everything to follow Jesus and it will also cost you everything if you don’t.
Then with all that being said I told my brother that I had to get back on the road before the next snow storm hit. We then exchanged a hug and he told me the best news I had heard all year…. that Matt’s son Issac was now in remission from his cancer. Let me tell you now that Jesus is totally awesome and amazing and HIS timing is perfect. Jesus is now calling for HIS Bride to come forth to embrace and follow only HIM like never before. Be wise and don’t miss this move of the Holy Spirit!
Kirk Out !
p.s. To find out more about the book God has me giving away please go to: www.waschurchgodsidea.com It was written by my dear friend Marc Winter.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect re-payment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners’, expecting to be re-paid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6: 32-36
Someone posted these verses on an E-group the other day and they hit me fresh and right between the eyes. We are supposed to be good and merciful to everyone, even enemies and those who mistreat us. Is it just me or does that sound like a large and very difficult task?
Sometimes I find it most difficult to be loving and kind even to those close to me, but God expects that and more from every one of us. It is easy to be kind to the kind, most of the time. However, the Lord desires that we be kind and merciful to even our worst enemies. My dear friend Glenn Kaiser put it this way….., ” How we treat the person we love the least, is how we love God the most.” Returning kindness for kindness is easy, but showing kindness and mercy to those who are against us or God; that is a monumental task.
If we want to truly be sons of the Most High..we need to be kind and merciful to everyone and perhaps especially to those whom we find the most difficulty relating to…including the ungrateful and the wicked. I do not think we can do this on our own, but Christ in us can…if we allow Him to. That brings us back to a familiar topic…surrender! If we yield our heart and mind to Jesus we can, via The Spirit, do things that are impossible in our flesh.
It is a simple principle …If we truly love God..we will in turn love others without condition. This does not mean we will always enter into full relationship with those who could do us harm. It is most possible to love others when healthy boundaries are in place. I loved and forgave my abusive father, but when I finally remembered the abuse and no longer repressed the memories; I did not put myself or my children in situations where he could do further harm. So sure be loving, kind, forgiving and merciful, but be smart too. Surrender every relationship to Jesus and He will help you navigate any situation you may face.
Kirk Out !
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11: 28
The older I get the more I appreciate the rest and times of pause that the Lord grants us. I need to be reminded at times to just slow down and enjoy His presence. The world and the traditional “church” system is always pushing us to go, go, go, and do, do, do. If we live at the pace that the world pushes on us it can be exhausting and burdensome. Jesus wants us to slow down and simply BE the church, instead of always having to DO church-like things.
True Spirituality is about BEING in Christ and not about DOING things in Christ’s name. We need to rest in Him and not be concerned about building ANYthing for Him. There is no such thing as Kingdom building in the true church. The Lord’s Kingdom already is built and prepared by Him and nothing we can DO can add to that fact. We just need to enter into His rest and bear fruit by BEING in Him and not try to manufacture fruit by DOING things for Him. True fruit is borne and it nourishes, while wax fruit is MANufactured, tastes bad and has no nutritional value.
Jesus applies zero pressure upon us to perform and make things happen. No, we are to abide in Him, and by simply BEING in Him true fruit of the Spirit will be born through us. Trying to make things, even Godly things, happen is counter-productive.
Did you ever notice how often the word “Selah” occurs in the Psalms? It is in there a lot, and it means to pause, be refreshed and reflect. It is about BEING still and knowing HE is God. After all He created us to BE human Beings and NOT human’s doing. HE who began a good work in us will complete it. It is not about us DOING anything except surrendering and allowing Jesus to do good things in and through us. ”The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.”
Tomorrow I am going to hang out and chill with some other like minded believers. I have no agenda whatsoever and I do not know what I am going to say or do when we gather. I trust that Christ in me will take care of all that, and it should be that way in all of my life’s interactions. There is no need to stress and prepare whatever words or actions I may bring to any gathering or situation. If I surrender to and abide in Him, His truth in love will just flow through me and accomplish whatever He intends to accomplish. It is not my role or job to DO anything, except BE in The Spirit at all times. Like my tee-shirts say, “Don’t Go To Church…BE The Church !” We all need to stop striving and start BEING. At least that is what is on my heart and mind today.
Kirk Out !