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Please Consider Participating In The 2017 Searching Together Gathering?

Yes, it’s that time of year again folks.  Searching Together 2017 is July 13-16 in Elgin Il.  This is gathering number 18 and space is very limited.  For more info please contact Jon Zens at:  jzens@searchingtogether.org.

What follows is my report on the 2016 gathering…………

Greetings,

“…… if we walk in the light as HE is in the light we have fellowship with one another….”

This year’s gathering was wonderful and awesome.  Twenty six of us from all over the USA came together truly as one to seek the face of Christ together.  Everyone’s portion of the Truth in Love was accepted and valued by the whole group and the results of our submitting unto one another in this fashion truly honored the Master and blessed us all in ways beyond mere belief.

This was my fourth straight year at the gathering and I have never been disappointed with the grace, freedom and hospitality that hosts Jon and Dotty Zens have offered to those willing and able to make the trip there.  In this blog I talk a lot about totally free and open, Spirit led, relational fellowship and I want to say that this gathering demonstrates that, on a national scale, better than any I have been a part of since 1996 in Potato Creek Indiana.

The Holy Spirit was with us all in a manner I have rarely experienced.  We would show up to whole group sessions and people would literally begin to share things that we had just discussed among ourselves in our separate apartments right before the session.  I mean word for word and scripture for scripture, exact same concepts and truths.  It was so confirmatory and awesome.  For example right before our very first session several of us were discussing the absolute need for humility in serving Christ and others.  Ten minutes later Jon opened the gathering by sharing briefly on the humility of Christ.  All four days were like this.

Our sessions were discussions, NOT sermons, with a supernatural give and take and ebb and flow.  Everyone was encouraged to share and no one dominated any portion of the gathering.  It was so encouraging to be a part of and witness so many freely sharing their gifts and insights and interacting with the rest of the Body at large.

To me living, eating, cooking, sharing and singing together was the best part of the gathering.  However, what I came away with the most was a deep sense of being thoroughly connected with others who were there.  There was a knitting together of hearts that many seldom, if ever, experience in everyday church life.  We did not ATTEND a conference together, we participated in the Divine nature together.  And friends, it doesn’t ever get any better than that on this side of eternity.  Give yourself to fellowship with others and you will reap real relationship directly from the Hand of Christ.

Love and……..

Kirk Out !

P.s.  We were up every night until after 1 am and it was worth it!

 

 

Are We Listening? Do We Even Care?

Greetings,

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.  Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,…”  Ephesians 6: 18-19

Since I gave out my telephone number several years ago in the “About Captain Kirk” section of this blog site I have received quite a few calls.  I just knew there were folks out there who struggle with depression, PTSD, and other mental health issues like myself.  Plus there are others who called who just wanted to know more about Jesus and relational fellowship.  The calls I got range about 60-40 between those needing encouragement and prayer, and the other half calling to encourage and pray for me.  Plus there was that one mystery caller who rebuked me.  Putting your personal information out in public always carries risk, but it was a chance the Lord had me ready to take for the benefit of others.

Most all of those calling for help have experienced apathy and rejection from the “church” because of their issues.  They had been told by “church leaders” that they needed to pray more and sin less.  The majority of “Christians” out there have no clue of how to address, treat, or pray for those with mental issues, and what they don’t understand they tend to label as demonic activity.  When those who suffer reached out to the “church” for help, prayer and encouragement; what they got was rejection and judgement.

This is why most people who struggle with mental and emotional issues never ask for help.  Because when they have in the past they were totally misunderstood and then treated like some sort of leper.  Many who ask for help are then labeled “less than” and then ignored for the most part.  Unless they also happen to be a good tither.  This is what the “church” does when they don’t understand the person or the problem.  I am certain there are some “churches” out there who do help and understand, but for the most part this is not true.  And it is not just the “churches” that don’t understand, it is society in general.

Back in 1992 when I was working as a psychiatric technician in a lock down unit we admitted a young woman who was very disturbed and depressed after a suicide attempt.  She was not fooling around either.  Instead of slashing horizontally on her wrists she did so vertically down the length of her forearms.  It was a miracle she did not bleed out and die.  The reason behind that drastic attempt was that her “church” told her that her secular music collection was the root of her mental illness and they forced their way into her apartment took her collection and burned it all right in front of her.  She was obsessed with John Lennon and owned everything he ever released including all the works of the Beatles.  They had to hold her down as they destroyed her many years of work collecting these albums.  That totally wrong and insensitive action really freaked her out and drove her deeper into depression and resulted in her attempting to take her own life.  I got to work with her several weeks at the unit and near the end of her stay I was led to simply share Jesus with her.  She responded well and received her freedom in Christ that very day.  Because I earned her trust and did not try to change or manipulate her in any way, we are still in touch all these years later.  In fact she now lives in the same apartment complex as I do.  She still struggles at times, but Jesus has made a HUGE difference in her life.

So how can we help the suffering?  Mostly by listening and allowing people to tell their own whole story.  If they can get what is bothering them off their chest it helps immensely.  If you are a totally engaged listener you are far more likely to be trusted than those who only listen in part because they feel they need to supply immediate feedback and an antidote.  We need to show love and appropriate concern, but the truth is that this does not take a whole lot of words on our behalf and surely not in the beginning.  After we have heard their story and prayed about it, we can then give them comforting words and support.  Remember Proverbs where it says, “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is the timely spoken word.”

This is a HUGE topic and I am not an expert by any means, but I hope what I have shared here helps some.  When you pray for someone it is vitally important that we only pray as the Spirit leads us.  In most cases I am not equipped to give expert advice.  So I hold back on what I think I want to say and instead hopefully say only what God desires me too.  Thanks to all those who called to encourage me, I really appreciate it.  Let me stress this one more time….NEVER underestimate the value of listening.  To both God and those you seek to serve.

Love and….

Kirk Out !

p.s.  Sometimes folks need more than prayer or wise counsel.  At times they may need medication and medical support.  Pray about it and don’t play doctor.  If you feel they may need professional help, call and help them make an appointment.  If possible drive them there yourself.  It is important to be there for them before, during, and after the healing process. Sometimes a friend is just exactly what they needed all along.

 

 

 

 

The Voice Of The Lord

Greetings,

“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 do.  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 Christ 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 Jesus 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 whatever  you may lack in gifts, skills and ability.  Now is the time to just BE obedient and follow His Voice today.

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

P.s. Please take notice…I am NOT saying that the prayers, accountability and confirmation from our equal sibling peers in Christ are not important or valuable.  It is great to have that type of support in the Body of Christ.  However, what I am saying is that hearing Christ’s voice directly for ourselves is infinitely more important.  Learning to hear, trust and depend upon the Voice of the Lord in our lives is the main key to knowing and abiding in HIS will for every aspect of our very being.  It takes faith in HIS Voice to actually do HIS will in our daily lives, and there will be times we will have to step out in this faith when no other means of confirmation are available.

 

Shared Life Is Not Optional

Greetings,

” All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”  Acts 2: 44-47

After a long ago blog……

Skylla asked a couple of great questions:

“Sweet. How long have ya’ll been together? How do you intertwine lives in between meetings?”

The fellowship here in Sturgis has been ongoing since we moved here in 1989.  I have been practicing totally free and open, Spirit led, relational fellowship wherever I have lived since 1976.

I just love your second question Skylla because it cuts right to the heart of the matter…relationships.  If all you do is have meetings and you never see one another or communicate and interact between gatherings…No matter how free and open your meetings might be …. I say you are falling WAY short of actually BEING the Church.   Because true and authentic fellowship calls for deep, intimate, interconnection with one another.  Even deeper connection than that of a natural family in my humble opinion.

If we do not share our entire lives with one another, we miss out on what God desires of us and the HUGE blessing that comes from being part of a true Spiritual family.  In the Body of Christ we need one another in order to properly function as He intended.  We only grow up into Christ as we share the truth in love with each other as each part does its work.  This takes a lot of communication.  Our fellowship here stays very connected by keeping in touch with each other via phone, internet and face to face as often as possible.  Technology has made being connected a whole lot easier, but can still fall short of HIS ideal if we are not willing to be fully open, honest and vulnerable as we communicate.  We have come to realize that true heart to heart sharing can happen in any venue, as long as we are willing to be that real with one another.  I am in contact with most everyone in our fellowship on a daily basis.  We are simply part of each others daily lives.

In our fellowship here we have people who live nearby and others who live 40 miles away.  It takes effort to maintain relationships, even more so when you live far apart. We eat together whenever we can and also have met at zoos and the movies for fellowship at times.  Group picnics are also fun together and we play cards and other games together often.  We also celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and births together.  If I remember correctly those we fellowship with were first to the hospital and first to hold most of our children, even before grandparents.  We have also mourned the loss of loved ones together and supported one another through many difficult times.

When we entered into this deep fellowship together we all gave each other full permission to speak into any and every part of our lives for the purpose of mutual edification, Spiritual growth and comfort.  No topic is ever off limits and we have encouraged and rebuked one another with mutual authority since day one.  Since we are closely knit together and in Christ belong to one another we have all surrendered the right to be able to ever say, “That is none of your business.”  We have chosen to always lay all of our cards on the table and never to hold anything back or in secret from each other.  In giving ourselves to love and respect one another in this manner we have gained much from the depths of Christ found in each others hearts and a great ability to pray effectively for one another like nothing I have ever witnessed before.

Some practical things we have done over the years were purchasing and sharing a lawn mower together, and sharing membership at Sam’s Club so that we could buy food and other things in bulk in order to save money.  I am sure I am missing other things that we share and do together, but the point is that we are actively involved in each others lives on an ongoing basis.  We love each other deeply and greatly desire authentic relationship with our Lord and one another.  To us LIFE is a shared experience and we value each other as sibling peers in Christ.  WE are a deeply connected family and in as many ways as we can we lay down our lives for each other.  We love and support each other in word, deed and prayer as much as humanly possible.  Our friendship is real and has been tested by life’s trials many times.  Strong words have been exchanged between us on many occasions as we have sought to remain accountable to Jesus and one another through many storms.  And guess what?  We have come out the other side in spite of many obstacles and remained true friends to this day.  We have proven time and time again that the blood of Jesus is thicker than any human blood or water.

Together we stand and divided we fall.  You asked an excellent question Skylla and I hope I have given you a satisfying answer.  All I know is that I have spoken my heart and I love all of my sisters and brothers in Christ, and His Love knows no boundaries.  Allow it to seek and find you and I promise that you will be continually amazed.

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

P.s.  Sue had asked for more sharing about what’s good about authentic relational fellowship, so I hope this fits the bill?

 

 

 

 

The Sound Of Silence

Greetings,

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from Thy presence, O Lord, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore unto me, the joy of Thy salvation and renew a right spirit within me.”  Psalm 51: 10-12

Some time ago I arrived home from an afternoon time of home fellowship here in Sturgis.  We gathered at 4 pm for a meal, some songs and a time of open Spirit led sharing.  The meal was a tasty combination of roast beef, hashbrown casserole, green beans and broccoli salad.  After the meal we gathered in the living room, tuned our guitars, and sang from our hearts.

The last song we sang was Psalm 51: 10-12.  After singing we sat in total silence, reflecting on the words of that familiar Psalm and recognizing our complete and utter need for a continuous renewal of our hearts, minds and spirits.  This was not an awkward silence in any sense at all.  It was deep, reflective and reverent.  In short, we sat in awe of our Creator and Redeemer.

In all, I bet we sat there in silence for nearly a half an hour.  Over the years we have learned to embrace these special times of silence.  Because we have discovered that when we are quiet and still, Christ speaks very clearly and loudly.  Eventually the silence was broken and we went on to discuss various prayer needs and a few other scriptures.

Embracing times of silence like this is not an easy thing to do. However, it is a huge mistake to think that during fellowship times we need to fill up any times of “dead air space”.  Part of us seems to think that we need to avoid silent times altogether, and that all silence is just awkward and a lack of having anything important or Spiritual to share.  Friends, nothing could be farther from the truth.  There are most definitely times “To be still and know He is God.”  It is immaturity that causes us to want to avoid “dead air.”

True Spiritual fellowship has nothing to do with putting on any type of a show.  Shows need to avoid gaps of silence in order to maintain their flow, and to be entertaining and profitable.  Modern “church” services rarely if ever allow any silence.  They even play soft music in the background during times of prayer and seeking.  I think the issue is control and those in charge may understand that they cannot be totally in control of the show during times of extended silence.  Because “dead air” does not make for good television, radio, or “church”.  I feel that perhaps they avoid times of silence because they know that, GASP, people might just think for themselves during those times.  And heaven forbid that GOD might actually speak during their silence and interrupt their show.

About 17 years ago we hosted a time of fellowship in our home and one day the Spirit led us to be silent for over two hours.  It was an amazing time of God speaking to all of us.  Everyone was crying and even the infants and children were dead silent the whole time.  To me that was a miracle and I tell you now that things that the Lord spoke to us during that time, in seed form, have now blossomed and grown within us to this very day.  It is not often that Christ calls us to silence like that, but when He does we now understand that Jesus has a great purpose in it.  Don’t be afraid of the quiet times…… Embrace them!

Love and….

Kirk Out !

P.s.  “Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…”

 

 

 

 

Through The Wringer Together

Greetings,

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with God’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.”  Romans 12: 12-16

One of the best things about being part of a fully functioning Body of Christ is that you never have to go through any of life’s challenges by yourself.  I thank God every day for the great people He has placed in my life.  People with who I have had deep, rich and rewarding fellowship.  Dear sisters and brothers who did not bail on me during the last 18 years of PTSD hell.  Our bonds have been severely tested at times, but whenever the dust cleared we were right there for each other time and time again.

Because of Christ in them I was given hope and with their support I have been able to be patient in my affliction.  Regardless of our circumstances we have managed to remain faithful in prayer for each other  One sister here has MS and another an autoimmune disorder, plus another brother recently had a heart attack and triple by-pass surgery.  We have been able to share with each other from both our heights and our depths.  We have practiced and lived hospitality.  With open hearts and open homes we have shared everything.

The passage I quoted above tells us to live in harmony with one another.  My friends..harmony cannot be achieved alone.  It takes multiple voices.  In all respects our faith is a team activity.  We simply need each other in the Body of Christ.  Everyone has an important portion to share and when each one of us adds to the mix our share… it is then we are made complete, whole and mature.  We are upfront, bold and active in our faith and a far cry from mere spectator Christianity that expects little more than passive pew sitting and paying your tithe on time.

We are more than just friends and siblings. We are peers.  We are each part of one another and together we thrive under Jesus The Head. When we allow ourselves to be assembled under Christ miracles happen.  I have not had a full blown PTSD episode in nearly four years now.  Because of that I can indeed say I am a walking miracle.  Many of my peers sowed in tears and prayer for well over a decade, desiring that I be totally set free from the emotional bondage of my childhood sexual, physical, verbal and emotional abuse.  Today, I can say with all confidence that I am well on my way to that total freedom.

Those I am in fellowship with have rejected any and all positions and instead we have chosen to contend as one “man” for the faith.  Where that kind of unity lives Jesus is able to fully manifest in us the gifts of the Spirit.  Because we have been accepted we can now be accepting of all others regardless of their current station in life or related problems.  In short we have been through the wringer together and we have not been found lacking in love, truth or compassion.  How many traditional “churches” can say the same?  Simple, organic, relational, Spirit led fellowship works.  “A tree is known by its fruit.”

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

 

 

Many Popes?

Greetings,
Jesus said:
                    “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi’, for you have only one Master and you are all brothers.  And do not call anyone on earth ‘father’, for you have one Father, and He is in heaven.  Nor are you to be called ‘teacher’, for you have one Teacher, the Christ.  The greatest among you will be your servant.  For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”   Matthew 23: 8-12
                    So the Roman Catholic “church” has a Pope and according to their theology the Pope is The Vicar of Christ.  They believe that the Pope is actually Christ on earth and that all should follow him.  To them the Pope is more than just Christ’s representative.  They actually say that the Pope basically is Christ in the here and now.  That is totally dead wrong in oh so many ways…make that in all ways!  Overall Francis seems to be a more down to earth Pope and I appreciate his focus on helping the poor and the oppressed, but quite frankly no “man” should ever be exalted and revered like he is.
                    However, the modern traditional “church” is not much better…because the vast majority of “churches” out there have Pastors who basically operate as little Popes.  They may stop just short of actually saying that Pastors are Christ, but they most definitely state that Pastors are Christ’s main representative in their “churches”.  Even when “churches” have boards, elders and deacons…the buck usually starts and stops with the Pastor.  I say that no “man” should have such power and authority in the “church”.  I have heard many Pastors say that they are God’s man and God’s mouthpiece to their “church”.  How incredibly wrong and sad is that?
                    Jesus basically says in this passage that no man should have the title or authority of a rabbi, Pastor, master, father, or teacher.  According to Jesus it is always wrong to use these titles of power and position, but congregations all over still insist on having Pastors, Rabbis, Fathers and Teachers.  Jesus said that we should not have these positions in our churches because we are all simply equal sibling peers in Christ.  There is no real chain of command in a true church except Jesus is King and all the rest of us are mere brothers and sisters.
                    The only thing any of us should strive to be called is a servant.  Laying down every title we should seek to merely serve others as Jesus did.  We are all called to lay down our lives for the sake of others.  Titles and positions destroy true unity and interrupt the Spirit’s flow to all who find themselves subordinate to “man” made hierarchies within the church.  We should all be free to directly hear God for ourselves and not through any other person with a position or title.  Popes, Pastors, Teachers are all the same…they all think they are serving, but all they really are doing is placing themselves as a roadblock between God and all others who desperately need to hear Christ’s voice for themselves.  There is to be NO human mediator between God and His children.  This is my plea to all of those out there who find themselves with a title or position within the “church”….Please get out of the way?  You want to help?  Then simply step down and aside and start being the sibling and peer you were always called to be.  Humble yourselves?
                    Love and …..
Kirk Out !