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Patience = Salvation?

Greetings,

“Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.”  2 Peter 3: 15

So the “Lord’s patience means salvation”?  That sounds perfectly right and true to me.  Because after all God is Love and according to 1 Corinthians 13 the very first thing love is….is patient.  And since “Love never fails”… I imagine that neither does His patience.  As a human father sometimes I have lost my patience with my children because of their disobedience, and when that happened I gave them a time out or other Temporary punishment.  Father God is perfect and infinite so I believe that His patience is also infinite with us.  More and more I am finding it difficult to grasp or believe that a patient and loving, Almighty God would ever sentence any of His children to an eternal punishment or torment.  I am not a follower of Universal reconciliation, but I am coming to believe more and more in a extreme perfect grace that is deeper and wider than the human mind can ever conceive or begin to fully contemplate.  A Grace that religion will most certainly reject.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3: 9

Now the big question is does God always get what He wants and desires according to His own perfect will?  His patience means salvation and He is ultimately patient with each and every one of us.  He does not desire that anyone of us would perish.  He wants us all to repent and follow Him.  Just how many chances do we get at this?  No human knows the answer to that question.  Does total repentance need to occur in our short time here on earth?  I know that eventually, that “every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”  Is it ever going to be too late for us to embrace, receive and follow Jesus?  And if it does not happen in this age, is it possible to occur in the age to come?  I sure have a lot of questions, but I certainly don’t know many answers at this point in my life.

In times past I used to have God, heaven and hell all figured out and placed in a nice tidy comfortable box that I could manage. However, my journey of faith has imploded that box and now I am content just to know Christ and allow Him to manage all the details.  I have come to believe that all Jesus requires of me is a simple and sincere faith that leads to absolutely nothing else than love for God and all others.  I don’t understand the timeline of salvation and I no longer desire to.  Life in Christ is all about the journey and not any particular destination.  I no longer worry about heaven or hell.  Today I embrace that journey and am all about loving Him and others along the way.  LOVE IS THE ANSWER!

Recently Jesus has been using me often in evangelism.  In the last several months more than a dozen folks have come to believe in Jesus via simple conversations with me.  Not once was hell ever mentioned in any of those conversations.  God is a God of supreme opportunities and never about threats of hell and punishment.  Over the last 43 years I have had many of these simple conversations with folks coming to believe and I honestly can’t remember one single time that I used hell to leverage a single person into choosing Jesus Christ.  To me that would mean manipulation. The simple message of freedom, grace, truth and love is all I ever share and it most certainly is more than enough.  In the end it all boils down to LOVE and LOVE NEVER FAILS.

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

 

 

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Jesus Was Fully Human

Greetings,

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus The Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrews 4: 14-16

The following took place about four years ago.  I felt The Holy Spirit’s leading to revisit it again here today after an excellent lengthy conversation I had with a dear friend and brother last night….. :

I am just now home from an afternoon of excellent fellowship.  Jesus definitely met us exactly where we needed Him.  We were few in number because two families had to cancel at the last moment because of vehicle breakdowns, but the flow of the Holy Spirit was very sweet and we were all blessed to our very core during our simple time of gathering together in His Name.  We sang, prayed, read some scripture, shared and broke bread together with glad and sincere hearts.

Today the Lord had us focus upon how Jesus completely understands our weaknesses and struggles in this life.  Because Jesus was born a fully mortal human and lived 33 years here as one of us. Philippians 2 makes it totally clear that Jesus became a mere man while here on earth and He emptied Himself of any Godlike powers or advantage in order to walk among us here as a humble servant of all.  Jesus understands being human and He faced trials and temptations just as we do every single day. The example Jesus set for us was how to properly respond to any given situation in the Spirit instead of the flesh.  Jesus did not heal people or perform miracles as God, He did so as a normal human being with the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through Him.  I feel that we always need to be reminded that God can and will work miracles through us also, if we would only surrender and respond to the Spirit’s leading and walk as Jesus did.  I know this is true because I have witnessed and experienced it in my own life and travels.

We closed our time together by going boldly before the throne of grace together seeking His mercy and grace to help us with our current needs and afflictions.  Some needed healing, others needed God’s intervention concerning health insurance and medication issues.  We also prayed for loved ones in need of Jesus.  I just love totally free and open, Spirit led fellowship and in over 43 years of meeting this way I can honestly say I have never once been disappointed.  The Holy Spirit is fully able to lead, teach and inspire us without the need of any recognized or official human Leadership. What can I say?  God is simply good enough to lead and inspire us without our help or best laid plans.

Love and….

Kirk Out !

P.s.  To be totally clear..I believe in the Deity of Christ, but that He set that aside for the time He was here on earth.  In doing so He became our supreme example of how to lead a Spirit led and empowered life as a mere human being.

 

It Only Takes A Spark

Greetings,
                         “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”  Genesis 1: 27
                          God is THE Creator and He created us in His image.  I feel that being made in His image means that we will be like Him.  To me that means that we are also meant to be creators like Him.  That He will work through us and inspire us to create and be creative in many ways.  I feel that we all have a creative spark, His mark within us.  That is why the whole concept of spectator Christianity goes directly against God’s will for His people.  Instead of always sitting and watching “church Leaders” showcase and use their creativity when the church gathers…the whole Body of Christ should be about sharing their creative gifts with one another and others.
                         This whole idea of us all being creators goes far beyond the Sunday morning shows.  Our entire lives should be filled with His creative spark and His creativity within us should flow forth in everyday life for all to taste and see that He is Good. EVERYONE has gifts from God that they should be using every day.  The gift of creativity can manifest in a great number of ways and I do not even pretend to know them all.  Many times His spark within us can create various kinds of art including, painting, drawing, singing, dancing or playing a musical instrument.  Others are gifted in sharing the written word in poems, stories and songs.  Songs and poems can often be written with help from other members of the Body.  Our gift may just be sharing a single line of prose, a single idea, or a simple tune that can be built upon by others unto completion as Jesus directs.  Our fellowship here has written many songs together with each member sharing a small piece of the puzzle.
                         Cooking is also an art through which our creativity can flow.  Developing recipes that others can share is a great gift.  Our fellowship takes great care in creating meals that we can share when we gather together.  Hospitality is a fantastic gift through which our personal creativity can shine.  Others are gifted and create by knitting, sewing and crocheting.  The possibilities are endless.  Some are great at wood working and building different things.   Finally, others are very creative at sharing the Gospel and teaching, even through blogs and non-traditional means.
                         The point is that EVERYONE is born with His creative spark within them, and that spark can and should be used to glorify Jesus and bless the Body of Christ and others.  When the Body gathers to worship their Creator and break bread… everyone should have the opportunity to use their gifts and share their creativity.  In 99% of Sunday morning “church” services across the world only 1% of the people get to share their creativity, portion and gift with God and the rest of the Body.  Instead of freedom and opportunity to share, most receive oppression and bondage to a system that serves only itself and NOT God. The Body of Christ is meant to have the opportunity to build itself up in Love as EACH PART does its work in Him.  If your “church” experience is dominated by a few “men” called Clergy and a precious few others ever get to share there…It might just be time to run away, far and fast!
                         Love and….
                    Kirk Out !

Wanted Dead And Alive?

Greetings,

 

 “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.  Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness.  For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”  Romans 6: 11-14

 

Grace always empowers and motivates us to make better choices in life.  Our day to day choices are what make up the very fabric of our lives.  Every day we have the option of being dead to sin or allowing sin to control and distort our lives.  When we choose to reckon ourselves dead to sin…that is when we are most alive in Christ.  As we become more and more mature in our faith making the best right choices should get easier, but sometimes we all still get greatly tempted to enter into wrongdoing or sin.  Even a mature Jesus was tempted by satan.  So never make the mistake of thinking you are somehow beyond being tempted to stray from Christ’s straight and narrow way.

 

 If we truly walk fully in the grace provided for us by the Lord… sin will not be our master.  This is accomplished by continually being led by the Holy Spirit and not giving into our flesh or carnal reasoning.  Some try to be bible led in their walk and many times this leads to having some sense of the Law being able to keep us from sin.  This is a HUGE mistake! Confidence in our own knowledge, interpretation skills and understanding of what is written often only leads to pride and that pride can lead to destruction.  However, if we instead live and walk fully in the Spirit we will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  Sure use the bible as the Spirit leads you, but avoid using it according to your own intellect, understanding and flesh.

 

 If the Church would only respect and recognize that we are totally under grace and not the Law anymore, She would indeed be glorious and a safe haven to all.  Mixing the Law with Grace leads to much confusion and destruction in the lives of those seeking justification via the written code.  Trying to live under any component of the Law denies Christ and the work He completed and accomplished on the cross.  It is ONLY by grace that we have been saved. The only way to walk in such amazing grace is under the Headship of Lord Jesus via the leading of the Holy Spirit.  For any part or portion of the Letter kills, but only the Spirit gives life and complete Spiritual nourishment that benefits not only us, but also those we are in fellowship with along the way.

 

 Love and…..

 

 Kirk Out !

 

The Overflow

Greetings,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings  we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”  2 Corinthians 1: 3-7

This passage makes it extremely clear and confirms unto me that any real ministry or comfort only take place when our lives are subject to the very same sufferings as those that we are attempting to serve must endure on a daily basis.  In other words if we want to be effective ministers we must be totally submerged in the culture and pain that others live in continually.  To be brutally honest I think that most short term missions trips are pretty bogus.  In fact our whole lives are supposed to be an ongoing missions trip.  If you want to reach someone with the Gospel then you must live where they live, eat what they eat, work like they work, suffer what they suffer, and celebrate what they celebrate.  The only real way to serve is from WITHIN a group of people, and NEVER from above or outside of them.  That is why the whole Clergy/Laity thing is bullshit.  The most effective way to make disciples is eye to eye, shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, hip to hip and knee to knee, and NEVER from the top down.

True ministry involves a total devotion to those that we serve; starting with Jesus.  When we serve like this we meet others needs out of the overflow of comfort and grace from our very own lives.  We can extend grace and healing because we have experienced it first hand and not because we read it in any book, including the bible.   We can minister salvation to others because we have lived it in the very same environment as those who we would have receive it.  Sermons are nothing more than fancy and useless words unless we live lives that back up those words to the utmost extent.

True fellowship and koinonia come from a shared life experience and not from any mission statement or strategic plan.  If we would only be totally upfront,open, honest and real about our own struggles and shortcomings…  CHRIST would put on display our overcoming of such obstacles to the benefit of all those we share life with each and every day.  You want others to receive His grace and mercy?  Then just receive them yourself and then tell others just what it is like to know Him in His sufferings and His power.  The only way to make a difference in the lives of others is to allow Him to make such a difference in your life and then put you on simple display within their community.  I realize my words have been forceful today, but I am passionate about these things.

Love and….

Kirk Out !

 

Pimping Out A Gift From God?

Greetings,

“Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.  I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing.  You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.  In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”             Acts 20: 32-35

Seriously, I do not understand at all how anyone can read these words of Paul and still support a “church” system in which ministers get paid for sharing their gifts with the rest of the Body of Christ.  Clearly Paul’s example was to work a regular secular job in order to provide for one’s needs and living expenses.  In the New Testament there is no such thing as a professional Minister.  The Levitical Priesthood has been done away with by Jesus and now every single follower of Christ is a priest before both God and “men”.

Ministry was never meant to be a full time occupation.  The Lord wants us all to work hard in the communities we live in and serve, so that we can develop relationships with others and be good examples to all who view our lives.  In the true Body of Christ there is no Clergy/Laity system or division and everyone is a minister, not just a select few.

A true follower of Jesus is a servant to all and is not a seeker of position or power over others in the church.  Jesus is the only true Head of His Body and the only Leader we should be following in this life and in the church.  Every other member of His Body serves and functions under His Headship in order that we may grow and build up the Body in love, as EACH PART does its work.

Paul lived and worked among the Ephesians for three years, sharing the gospel free of charge and taking no money or support from the church whatsoever.  He held a full time job during this time and was never a burden to those he served.  In fact taking money for loving others has a name…it is called prostitution.   If Paul, who was an apostle, did things that simple way then why can’t the modern “church” do the same?  If we took the money that we pay Clergy and gave it all to the poor and needy, boy what a difference the church could make in numerous lives.  Add that to the money spent on “church” buildings and I bet we could easily feed the world.  I know some are now saying to themselves, “What no Clergy, no buildings…what else does this crazy guy want to do away with?”  My short answer would be sermons, traditions and programs!  You want a strong church?  Go with simple every member ministry and totally free and open Spirit led gatherings….and I am just getting started!  Am I stark raving mad or just totally in love with Jesus and His bride?

Love and …..

Kirk Out !

 

Does Jesus Weep?

Greetings,

Jesus said:

“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 and above 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 most certain that Jesus weeps.

Love and….

Kirk Out !