“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 and phileo love relationship with the Lord and each other. Jesus 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, grace and freedom you will find it there. However, if you take a non-relational approach you will just find dead 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 !
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5: 1-6
Jesus said: “Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, and the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9: 17
It seems that there will always be people living under the law and trying to place others under it too. To do so denies the message of grace and the entire New Covenant. In Jesus we are set free from the law of sin and death and reborn into His wonderful Kingdom of love, grace and light. To choose law instead of grace places one under a yoke of slavery and bondage to the written code that brings death in this life.
Furthermore, if we follow any portion of the law we are obligated to obey the whole law and Christ becomes worthless to us. Those who seek to be justified by observing the law are separated from Christ’s grace. Jesus still loves them, but the law places a wall between them and Christ that cannot be scaled by mere human endeavor or obedience to the law. The only way to grace, truth, and life is through a relationship with Jesus, and one cannot serve both Christ and the law simultaneously. Once again the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
However, a simple turning away from the law and towards Christ again will restore our relationship with Him and place us firmly within His hands of Grace and mercy once more. It is all about faith and never observance of the law. Jesus waits patiently for us to turn His way and never gives up on us. No matter what we do, His face is continually turned towards us and He is quick to forgive.
In the end the only thing that really matters is faith expressing itself through love. The Lord has faith in us and He expressed His love by going to the cross. The big question is….will we deny ourselves, take up our very own cross and follow Him daily? You say you have faith? Prove it by extending love and grace to others along the way. Purposely walk away from the law and the judgment it places on everyone, and instead open your heart to Him and allow His great love and grace to flow forth through you to both the washed and unwashed masses. Jesus has filled our lives, our new wineskins, with the priceless new wine of His Spirit. Drink deeply from His fountain of life and allow Him to pour you out for the sake of others each and every day.
Kirk Out !
“What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has something to share.” 1 Cor. 14:26 paraphrase
Wow! This blog is now averaging over 1200 views a day and yesterday it shattered the old record of 1999 with 2070 views. Thanks everyone for reading and following this blog. I enjoy blogging, but I long for more dialogue and interaction with those who read my musings. I have always hoped that my blog posts would provoke and stimulate more conversation and questions than they have so far. Normally we average eight comments per blog post. However, I am glad to report that my most recent offering generated 15 comments so far. If you know me you know that I am all about mutual participation and I crave the give and take of a lively, dynamic, healthy conversation. I NEVER want this site to become just another monologue online. There are already plenty of those out there. Perhaps silence is agreement on most things, but I would much rather have healthy dialogue with some disagreement than blog posts that prompt little or no response from their readers.
I don’t mean to complain, but as a proponent and advocate for totally free and open, Spirit led fellowship; I just expected more dialogue in this particular online environment. Perhaps I set my hopes too high? Then again when I factor in facebook messages, facebook chats, comments, calls and private emails concerning my blog …I guess I am getting plenty of participation after all. I just love it when everybody shares and had hoped that online fellowship would mirror more closely face to face fellowship than what it apparently does. In our times of simple, home, organic fellowship we expect everyone to share and are blessed when they do. Of course we never force participation, but we purposely create and nurture an open environment that welcomes everyone’s portion to the table. We take very seriously the Priesthood of EVERY believer.
In closing I would just like to encourage everyone out there to actively participate in this blog, their fellowship, and life in general. Sure there are times for silence, but I also believe that we are created to be more proactive than passive in this life. We have all been given a voice by God and He expects us to use it to encourage, rebuke, and bless others. God Himself said, “Come let us reason together”. He wants us to interact with Him and all of His creation. Without your voice His song and story are incomplete. I look forward to hearing from you, and so does He.
Love and …….
Kirk Out !
“The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Isaiah 51: 11
It seems I have a serious problem about being too serious all the time. Several people close to me have noticed that my post PTSD personality lacks the fun, spontaneity and humor of my former self. In fact I am now so somber, steady, measured and centered in my actions and speech that it is having a negative impact on my relationships. My online and texting personality is appropriately full and varied, but face to face I am still very guarded and downright stoic and at times cold in demeanor. I need more Kirk and less Spock in this area. I want to be totally real and authentic in every area of my life.
I discussed this problem in depth with my counselor today and also sought counsel and prayer from close friends. When we looked at what is occurring and why….. several things came to mind in no particular order. 1. I am older and more mature now than pre-PTSD. 2. My medications work to keep me centered emotionally so that I have few highs and lows. The good news is that I now take literally half the amount of medications than I did one year ago. 3. Like Paul, I am bold in my letters, but meek in person. 4. I have just emerged after 15 years in a very dark, deep, cold, hellish and dangerous pit full of brutal, traumatic PTSD flashbacks. Because of this I am having to learn all over again how to interact and relate to others without being too vigilant and self protective. My father destroyed my childhood, but I will not allow him to steal my relationships and future from beyond the grave.
It is likely a mixture of those things, but regardless of the cause I know that I need to press through the problem and become fully me again. I don’t want to be the serious boring guy with extensive baggage. I want to be joyful, fun and jovial like I used to be. My mind seems fully intact, but my emotions are something I still fear a bit. My rapier wit and humor used to be Robin Williamsesque, but today in person they are rarely on display.
I know that the joy of the Lord is my strength and I want to fully live in that joy, moment by moment, each and every day. I am still not sure how to get there other than to continue pressing forward in my relationships and in Christ. Everyone I have talked with tells me that in a short time I will recover all that the enemy and illness took from me including aspects of my personality and emotions that are now somewhat blunted due to the trauma I experienced and the medications that I take. I know beyond all doubt that I can overcome this with the help of The Lord and those who love me. It will just take a little time to get back up to speed with my feelings. Thanks for taking time to read this today. I deeply appreciate everyone that reads this blog. I thank you for your prayers. I guess rising from the ashes and being resurrected is rarely an easy path without any complications.
Love and ……
Kirk Out !
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said:”I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18: 1-4
While I was away last weekend I thought a lot about my children and children in general. I am glad to report that all four of my children love Jesus and serve Him. Many of the questions I am asked about relational churching have to do with what we do FOR the children. My answer is we do everything WITH the children. Because in relational HC children are full fledged members and participants from the very beginning. Relational churchers serve one another and are expected to interact WITH one another. In relational church we do not wait for Clergy to DO something FOR us. No, we step right out and do things together in His Name.
Like I said all my children, ages 30, 26, 20 and 14, love and serve Him today. They were raised in relational fellowship and were never Sunday schooled or youth grouped at all. They grew up in totally open and free, Spirit led fellowship without a Pastor or any traditional/institutional trappings or programs. And I sincerely believe that they are better off because of it. We never segregated our gatherings by age, gender or anything. When they were very young they played at our feet and as they grew older they participated as they were able in music, singing, praying and sharing.
I fondly recall when Caleb (Now 20) was like 8 years old and he shared at some length about Cain and Abel, and his sharing inspired the rest of us to reexamine what we viewed as acceptable sacrifice unto God. Over the years I have witnessed many children share wonderful insights and major prayer requests. When younger folks are encouraged to share in fellowship it is amazing how much truth and love flows forth from their lips and hearts.
Jesus said that we need to change and become like little children or we would miss the Kingdom. To me this speaks of our need for childlike innocence and enthusiasm. We need to encourage everyone to come to Jesus as a child would. I say honor children and they will grow up to honor you. If given freedom in The Spirit children can even lead adults with awesome results.
Love and …..
Kirk Out !
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principals of this world rather than on Christ.” Colossians 2: 6-8
The passage above makes all sorts of sense, assuming that you were taught the truth in love to begin with. But what happens when you are taught wrong instead of right? What if from your infancy in Christ you were taught hollow and deceptive philosophy, human tradition, and the basic principals of the world instead of the real truth? I will tell you what happens….you end up with much of what the modern church is today. You end up with a church full of ineffectual Christians who tend to do more damage to the image of Christ than they do good in His name.
Harsh and controversial words I know, but I speak them in love and out of a sincere desire to see The Body of Christ flourish instead of flounder. The simple truth is that the modern traditional church does not act or look much like it should after 2000 years of following Jesus. Because the church Jesus founded was based on relationships and not human hierarchies, organizational flow charts and programs.
The early church used its resources to reach out to unbelievers and take care of widows, orphans and the poor. While the modern church spends most of its assets on Clergy salaries, buildings and building funds. When the church began there was no such things as a separate class of believer called the Clergy. In fact they practiced and taught that every follower of Jesus was a gifted and talented priest and they did not place Pastors on a platform over and above other saints. The modern church model of Pastor as CEO and sole Leader comes directly from the basic principals of the world and not Jesus. The whole concept of leadership being totally male comes from human tradition and not Christ. Jesus was totally inclusive of all who would believe, yet much of the modern church practices exclusivity where it comes to gender, race, sexual identity, and social class. Sure on paper many claim to be open and accepting, but in practice there are tons of closed hearts and minds. We have been taught to be judgmental instead of loving. In todays church homosexuality is the unforgivable sin, but greed and gluttony are just fine. In todays church “God hates Fags”, but the accurate truth is that God loves EVERYONE!
Somewhere the church lost her way and she embraced lies and error instead of the truth in love. Friends examine yourselves and rid yourselves of error. Many times we were taught and learned falsehoods. We utterly need to unlearn many things that we have been taught. I have talked to numerous educators and they all agree that UNLEARNING is tremendously more difficult than learning was in the first place. We need to shine the Light of Truth into the shadowy corners of our theologies and then get down on our knees to weed out everything that does not measure up to HIS truth in love. The Spirit of Truth is calling out to the church, but when will we listen and learn as we should?
Love and ……
Kirk Out !