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Justice Is Required

Greetings,

“…… and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6: 8

Thank God that Jesus came here and fulfilled all of these requirements for us.  Jesus was all about justice, kindness and He did walk humbly with the Father.  However, I still believe that God desires us to walk in His ways and now that He has given us His Spirit it is now more than possible.

I find it interesting that we are called to DO justice, that means we are to actively walk in justice.  We get to administer justice to those who need it now.  Our lives should always touch the lives of others and provide justice for them in real and tangible ways.  That means we are called to level out the scales and make sure that others are treated just and fairly.  We should be out there on the front lines advocating for those who need to be treated fairly by society and those around them.  When we see injustice in action we should always pray and then intervene as the Spirit leads us.  I have seen this work in my life when I have jumped into the fray when I have witnessed people being bullied.

Once at Disney World we were getting ready to watch the parade and fireworks,  My Mom was in a wheelchair so we were in an area designated for the handicapped.  There was another area right next to us for the handicapped too, but some people were there who were obviously not disabled.  Other elderly folks in wheelchairs were trying to get the healthy people to move, but they refused and instead started cursing the elderly folks, telling them to “F#@% off”.  I felt the Spirit’s leading so I told my children to find a park employee and I leaped over the roped off section and landed face to face and right in front of the huge chief bully who continued to spout obscenities.  I told this guy to move out of the handicapped section and he refused.  Then I said to him, “Either move or be moved in Jesus Name!”  Right then he agreed to move and apologized to me and the elderly couple.  The park employee showed up a few minutes later and we told her what had transpired.  She thanked me for stepping into the situation and then we all watched the fireworks and parade.  On that night justice was served.

We are also required to “love kindness” and sometimes justice and kindness go hand in hand. Stepping up to confront the bully was a way of being kind to those being bullied.  However, most of the time kindness involves being gentle and compassionate.  To act kindly to those in need is to give them a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on.  Better yet, is to equip them to face the obstacles they are encountering.  Like giving food to the hungry or water to those who thirst.  Acts of kindness make the world a better place to live in, so I always make the effort to be kind towards everyone I encounter along the way.

Finally, we are to “walk humbly” WITH our God.  Notice we are not walking in front of God or behind Him, but rather WITH Him.  To me this speaks of keeping in step with The Spirit at all times.  HE is our guide and out of humility we should surrender to walking in step with Him. However, true humility is to totally bow down before Him and surrender our will.  I did a word study many years ago and was surprised to discover that one of the very root words of humble was “to be bold”.  True humility involves going boldly before His throne and then bowing down to whatever leading The Lord gives you.  Then of course we should lift our heads up high as we perform whatever actions He leads us to endeavor.  Our confidence should always be in Him as we boldly go wherever He may take us to do His will.  We are ALL called to be His instruments of justice and kindness in this seemingly lost and fallen world.

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

 

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Harsh Judgment

Greetings,

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:  ”For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8: 35-39

The last 19 years PTSD and related flashbacks of childhood sexual abuse and rape have really put me through the wringer.  I have experienced a few highs, but many, many, very deep lows. And right now I have several close friends facing various trials of faith.  I just needed to be reminded and to remind these dear friends today that NOTHING can separate us from the love of Jesus.

However, I know of one thing that can sure seem like it does separate us from Christ’s love, and that one thing is self condemnation.  When we judge ourselves too harshly, it is like we put up a wall between us and Christ.  I am well familiar with self hate and loathing.  When I was in the throes of PTSD flashback hell, I said and did unthinkable things to the ones that I loved.  I was lost in the past and I thought they were more of my abusers and I would do anything to create space between me and them.  I drove them away with harsh words and actions.  I even tried to drive God away from me because I was so ashamed of my behavior during PTSD episodes.

I held myself to an impossible standard of upright behavior and when I failed to attain that standard, I judged myself as being totally unworthy of love and concern.   I mean how could a Christ follower act in those ways?  My loved ones, psychiatrists, and counselors told me I was not fully responsible for my actions, but I could not hear them through the walls of pain and remorse I had built for myself.

Even without the PTSD I have always been very hard on myself.  I have always been quick to call myself a hypocrite when I fell short of a perfect “Christian” walk.  Grace was something I could freely give to others, but never to myself.  The outcome of my Super-Christian mentality led to deep and dark depression and even more self hate.

In the last several years I have been humbled by the ever-amazing love and grace of Jesus The Christ.  I hit my rock bottom and lost nearly everything, but even in the midst of great pain and loss there was Jesus.  He was always there, but I could not recognize Him because I tried to view Him through lenses of religious perfection.  When I finally just surrendered and gave up, He picked me right up and placed me on my feet again.  Now here I am ready to go as many rounds as necessary to win the battles that He now picks for me.  Now I realize that the only standard is Christ and that NO ONE measures up because we all fall short. The only one who can meet that standard is Jesus and the good news is that HE meets the standard for each and every one of us EVERY time.  We NEVER measure up, but HE ALWAYS DOES!

I was concerned about judging myself properly because I was worried about not measuring up on JUDGMENT DAY.  Now I realize that judgment day is not about me or what I have done, but it is all about Jesus and what He has done for us in advance.  To my friends who are struggling…just give up and surrender WHATEVER is holding you down.  Just accept His grace, mercy and love and learn how to walk in it.  I know EASY to say, harder to do, but if I can do it surely anyone can.  Remember that no low is too low for Jesus to reach and deliver.  I know and I am praying for you all.

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

 

Two Thoughts

Greetings,

Today I have two distinct thoughts rolling around in my head and I am not sure if either one of them is blog worthy.  So I am just going to throw them out here and see what happens.

Thought one:  “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men.”  Stephen said that in Acts 7 just before he was stoned to death.  Another version says it like this, “The Spirit of The Lord no longer dwells in temples made by human hands.”

So whenever a Pastor or anyone else refers to their “church” building as “God’s House”, they are telling a huge lie.  Right here in my town there is a “church” called “His House”.  The pastor there is a friend of mine and I have told him flat out that they need to change the name, but he just doesn’t see it that way.  Many times I have heard “men” say “Welcome to God’s House”.  Just how sad is that?  To be that far from the truth?  The truth is that those who follow Jesus are God’s house, we are God’s building made of lively stones and His Spirit lives in us.

Thought two:  The only times Jesus passed an offering plate was in offering fish and bread to those who were hungry, like in John 6.  Jesus never took up a collection so why should we? Problem is that less than 4% of the money collected by traditional “churches” actually goes to real ministry like feeding the poor and taking care of the elderly and orphans.  Over 96% of the “churches” intake of funds goes to building funds, maintaining buildings, paying Clergy, and institutional maintenance.  None of which are really needed to actually BE the church and serve God and others.  The Church abdicated its role as the mercy giver when it became an institution instead of a Body, and now the government is trying to fill that spot.  And it just doesn’t work well that way does it?

I know that many if not most “Christians” tend to be conservative republicans that oppose the liberal left democrats that are for big government programs to aid the poor and needy in our country.  It is ironic because it was actually the right leaning “Church”  that created the need for the liberal left’s social programs and agenda because the “Church” vacated their God-given role to take care of the poor, sick and needy.  Most “Churches” are now no longer real Churches because they have traded in BEING the Church and taking care of the downcast and instead now have become businesses focusing on collecting money and physical growth rather than caring deeply for others and true Spiritual growth.

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

 

Seeking For The Good Of Others

Greetings,

“Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive.  Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others…..So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everybody in every way.  For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.  Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”  1 Corinthians 10: 23-24, 31-33, 11: 1

This passage, I believe, addresses perhaps the greatest sin in the Church.  Selfishness is a crippling sin.  It causes us to focus on ourselves and our own needs; instead of serving and giving to others.  Jesus said that loving our neighbors as ourselves was just like the greatest commandment.  That means that if we really love God we will serve and treat others by laying down our lives for them.  Putting other first is an easy concept, but actually doing it is rare in the modern, and especially Western, church.

Seeking the good of others, instead of our own good should be a foundational aspect of our faith.  Jesus came to serve and not be served and Paul echoed that truth in his life and ministry too.  Personal sacrifice for the sake of others should be practiced daily in the life of a true Christ follower.  However, instead of denying ourselves and taking up our cross (Which Jesus said was a must) and serving others; on most days we end up serving only ourselves.  Most “church” goers I come into contact with have little or no practice of denying themselves, and instead of following the words of Jesus they follow the modern mantra of, “Whoever dies with the most toys wins.”  The prosperity “doctrine”, which I believe is false teaching, has permeated most of the “church” including the mainline denominations to a certain extent.

I find this very sad, but true.  However, why should the average “Joe Christian” give to those in need when the “church” he belongs to spends 97% of its income on itself via building expenses and Clergy salaries?  That’s right only about 3% of the money collected in the traditional “church” goes to actual, hands on, ministry, missions and helping those in need like widows and orphans.  Pure religion rarely exists anymore and the “church” gets fat while our sisters and brothers around the globe are starving.

However, that system that calls itself the church is never going to change.  Babylon is a fact of life until Jesus destroys it in the end.  Hate the system, but love and rescue the people.  So we all need to focus on personal sacrifice and giving directly to those who need it now.  Self denial is not an option according to Jesus and neither is caring for others who have a need.  So start allowing the Holy Spirit to manage your resources and money instead of the “church” and your own desires.  If you would just raise your head away from self consuming activities and look around for those in need, I guarantee you will find just the right person, or persons, to start giving to.  Need an idea?  Twenty five years ago our housechurch started helping families who lost their homes and belongings to fires here locally. Remember, God loves a cheerful giver!

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

 

Love Is …….

Greetings,

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails….”  1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

I have been pondering love a lot lately.  I think it comes with the territory when you have three year old grand-twins, two grandsons under age 6 and are at the beginning of new  and wonderful relationship and marriage.  Love is an immense concept.  Well worthy of deep pondering.  So why does it flood your mind with sweet nothings?  When I hold my sweet grandchildren my heart and mind turn to sweet mush.  I just know it makes me feel good inside.

I John 4:16  states that “God is love.”  If this is true then the passage quoted above helps us define who God is.  It seems to me that in the New Covenant God reveals Himself to us in ways totally different from the Old Covenant.  Today God is all about love and forgiveness, but in times past it seems that God was about blood soaked vengeance and such.  Has God changed? Or has Jesus opened a whole new window to see God through?  I think Jesus was a total game changer and His blood purchased for us a new forgiveness and love, the likes of which was never seen before on this earth.  But of course Jesus always was and the Father always knew and The Spirit has always revealed.  It is just up to us to walk in His love today as we understand Him.

Think about it?  If God is love then can we say the following considering 1 Corinthians 13 ?….. God is patient, God is kind.  God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud.  God is not rude, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  God never fails..

That makes me think hard about just who God is and I feel that it fits God extremely well.  In Christ, God fully opened His life to us and now Grace prevails like it never has before.  It makes me draw even closer to God when I know He is not angry at me and He keeps no record of my wrongs.  Today I am experiencing love from a wide variety of sources and angles, and this love makes me draw near to Him and walk a better walk towards others.  I hope this makes some sense today, but then again I am surrounded in love so who knows?  Sometimes love doesn’t make much sense, but I know when I am in it.  It helps me to remember that the very first thing love is, is patient.  So Lord, please help us all to be patient today.  We want to run beside You, and not in front of or behind You.  Please help us to keep in step with You and Your love all of our days.

Love and….

Kirk Out !

 

Zero To Stupid In Three Seconds

Greetings,

“Jesus and His disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi.  On the way He asked them, “Who do people say I am?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”  ”But what about you?”  He asked.  ”Who do you say I am?”  Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”  Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about Him.  He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again.  He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took His aside and began to rebuke Him.  But when Jesus turned and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter.  ”Get behind me, Satan!” He said.  ”You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”  Mark 8: 27-33

Our housechurch read and discussed this passage during totally free & open fellowship some time ago.  We found it amazing and almost laughable at how fast Peter could go from zero to stupid.  One moment Peter recognized Jesus as the Christ and in the next he took Jesus (The Christ) aside and was actually rebuking Him.  Who does that?  The simple answer we came up with was that we do, and all the time.

In a moment we can go from knowing and experiencing Jesus as the Christ; to questioning and denying His truth for our lives.  Our attention should be focused on The Lord and His will for us, but many times we get distracted by the things of the world.  Fact is that there are many things out there competing for our attention and unfortunately Jesus doesn’t always win .  Satan wants us to be distracted because he knows how effective and powerful the Body of Christ can be if led by God.  Many times it boils down to what we deem important in our lives.  Is that sporting event, television show, song, sermon, bible, doctrine or cute guy or girl really more worthy of our attention than the living God is?  We all know the answer, but are we really willing to change the way we think and begin to take captive every thought and make them obedient to Christ?

So today which will it be?  The things of God or the things of men?  We all know that our hearts and minds should be tuned into Jesus and His will for our lives.  But, will we really surrender in such a manner that allows Him to lead us by His Spirit from moment to moment with our minds fixed solely on Him?  We need to ask ourselves these questions and better yet come up with answers that truly align with His will for our lives.

Peter, the rock, was a flawed human being just like us.  One moment affirming Jesus as the Christ and the next in opposition to His will.  Peter said he would never deny Jesus, but he did three times before the cock crowed and then Jesus restored him.  No one is perfect, but the Lord, and I am thankful that His grace is sufficient for us all.  However, I also believe we need to actively choose to cooperate with His will if we want to walk in The Spirit and not the flesh.  Anyway we needed to be reminded of that last night and I thought I would pass it on here to you all today.  And remember, “HE will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on HIM.”

Love and……

Kirk Out !

 

 

A Fine Example

Greetings,

“….As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.  We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.  Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.  You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.  For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory.”  1 Thessalonians 2: 6-12

This passage gives us a fine example of how leadership should work in the Body of Christ. According to Jesus in HIS church we should have servants and not rulers. (Matthew 20:26)  Paul never used “apostle” as a title, no it was a just a word to describe what he was about.  Paul was all about leading by example and not by position or title.  Paul never said follow me, what he did say was follow me AS I follow Christ.  That is the kind of servant that I can really get behind and be taught and supported by.

Paul and his companions were not a burden to this church they served.  They worked to support and feed themselves and they shared the gospel free of charge.  They were part of the community.  They did not look down on those they were serving as mere followers.  No, they considered those they served as being family to them.

Most importantly they shared their whole lives with the Body.  In the modern “church” this rarely happens. Most seminaries and colleges teach future Pastors not to get too close to those they will be working over.  In fact they discourage Clergy from forging relationships with the “flock”.  Pastors many times are taught to avoid “the sin of familiarity” or being close friends with those “under” them.  I was once told, in defense of this modern caste system, that “heads relate with other heads and not with the Body at large.”  I have seen this horrible principle at work in many congregations and it is a very sad thing indeed to witness.

Relationships are the most important thing in life and that includes the Body.  Christ’s Body functions best when we see ourselves as close, mutual family and friends; sharing everything out of deep sincere love for Jesus and one another.  Those who are equipped and gifted to serve should function from within the Body and not from any position above other members. We need to stand together in true unity and reject any division or hierarchy that tries to raise its ugly head within the Body of Christ.  In Jesus every member is vital, gifted and important to the overall health of the Body.  Together we stand and divided we will fall.  At least that is the truth in love from my experience, perspective and hope.

Love and……

Kirk Out !