I know I am different and not quite right off the rack, but one of my favorite moments from all the Star Trek movies is found in “GENERATIONS”. It is the scene where Picard has gone into the reality altering NEXUS RIBBON and he has found Captain Kirk. They are riding horses and Kirk jumps over a chasm, turns around and jumps the same chasm again. He has a look of dismay on his face and he looks at Picard and says, “That wasn’t real.” You see Kirk had jumped at that very spot dozens of times in his life and he always felt some danger and excitement in his gut, but not this time. This time he knew that because he was in the NEXUS that the jump was not authentic or real. He realized that he was living within a fantasy, and that did not please or satisfy him. At first Kirk enjoyed the NEXUS because he could relive wonderful moments in his life, but after his realization at the chasm he knew that in his heart he required life to be real and not fake.
Picard came to the NEXUS to recruit James T. Kirk for a dangerous and life threatening mission. At first Kirk balked because he was enjoying the benefits of living in the fantasy that the NEXUS provided. However, upon Kirk’s discovery that the NEXUS was not reality, he quickly agreed to go on Picard’s mission to save others and The Enterprise and its crew. Kirk knew full well that this was a very dangerous life or death situation, but the good Captain chose grim reality over staying in a world that was not real.
Now ask yourself the question….. which choice would you make? Beyond that speculation based on Sci-fi, what choices do you make in everyday life? Do you choose what is real and authentic or do you chase fantasies? Is the life you live centered in the reality of Christ Jesus and all that means, or do you refuse to live life on life’s terms? I know, HUGE questions, but what are your sincere answers? Proverbs 13:5 states, “The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked use it to bring shame and disgrace.” Is being true and real more important to you than having vain imaginations just so you can look better in front of your peers and others? Is having ANY fantasy in your real life, beyond simple entertainment, ever a good thing? When people look to, into, and at you do they really get what they see? Are you authentic to the core? Ecclesiastes 5:7 says, “Much fantasy and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.”
Being insincere or fake is the antithesis of being a true Christ Follower. After all Jesus is The Truth and if we are truly to be called His, then we must also be truthful and transparent as He was. Captain Kirk chose a real death rather than a false life. So did Jesus. As my dear friend Glenn Kaiser says, “It will cost you everything to follow Jesus, and it will also cost you everything if you don’t.” So why hold back and hold onto the fantasies in your life? You say you want to be more like Jesus? Then BE more like Jesus and don’t hold back the truth in ANY part of your life. Because being fake is just not worth it. And others are watching you and they desperately need the truth from you, it could make a huge difference in their lives.
Love and ……
P.s. Being totally authentic and real is not always easy in this life. Yet, as individuals it is something that Christ requires of us. Now widen the scope to collections of individual Christians…what we call the Church. Is the “church” you attend fully truthful, authentic and real? Or is it just a Sunday morning show complete with hip music, lights and an entertaining pep talk? In the end the true Church is all about authentic relationship with Christ and one another, relationships that run even deeper than family. Without deep fellowship and sincere involvement in each others lives on more than Sundays we will never really be the Church that Jesus meant for us to be. Me? I am done with the fake, false and insincere. I would rather have one tiny bit of what is truthful and real…than a whole shitload of something less than genuine. So I choose what is simple, organic, true and relational over the imposter every day. My path is rarely easy, but I embrace it’s gritty reality with a kung fu death grip and say to Jesus ……bring it on my Lord!
26 “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.” 1 Corinthians 14: 26 NIV
1 Corinthians chapter 14 is perhaps the only passage in the entire New Testament that gives us any sort of loose pattern or prescription of how the Church should function WHENEVER it meets or gathers. Yet, the vast overwhelming majority of “Christian” gatherings either purposely ignore or forget to allow for two key elements whenever they meet.
Element number one: Each and every member of the congregation has the opportunity to share their gift and contribution openly with the entire Body gathered that day. The truth is clear cut in this matter…WHENEVER the Church comes together each member gets to share what the Lord lays on their heart as led by the Holy Spirit. In fact this MUST BE DONE SO THAT THE CHURCH MAY BE BUILT UP.
29-30″ Two or three may prophesy, one at a time, if they have the gift, while all the others listen. But if, while someone is prophesying, someone else receives a message or idea from the Lord, the one who is speaking should stop. 31 In this way all who have the gift of prophecy can speak, one after the other, and everyone will learn and be encouraged and helped.32 Remember that a person who has a message from God has the power to stop himself or wait his turn.[a] 33 God is not one who likes things to be disorderly and upset. He likes harmony, and he finds it in all the other churches.” 1 Corinthians 14: 29-33 The Living Bible
Element number two: The Lord has given the Church a very great and precious gift to help with the overall flow of ANY gathering. That gift my friends is the blessed gift of INTERRUPTION. That’s right in a true Spirit led and dare I even say biblical church gathering there are no sermons or monologues. No ONE person gets to dominate what should be a totally free and open sharing time. EVERYONE can share their message or idea from the Lord with the entire Body. And when we do begin to share our portion for the day we should be acutely aware that others may have something to add or subtract from what we have offered. We can do this by pausing often and yielding the floor to others as needed. This will take a great sensitivity to the Spirit, Who should be the one and only true leader and director of each and every gathering of the church. This takes much practice and self control, but it is entirely worth doing if we really want our gatherings to reflect and glorify Christ.
If what I am sharing here today is true and trustworthy… why do we rarely, if ever, see a gathering that puts these two all important elements into action and practice? I have been meeting in this simple, organic and profound manner in homes for over 37 years now, but I have NEVER witnessed or heard of a Sunday morning service/show in a “Church” building that followed these God ordained practices. The ONLY times I have seen the Pastor interrupted in such a manner was the few times that I was the one doing the interrupting. I am not all that special folks. I just have a deep passion to see the Body of Christ set free to operate according to the ways of the Spirit, instead of the ways of mere “men”. God’s way is rarely as neat and tidy as the typical Sunday show, but then again family life sure can be messy at times. Real true conversations among family and friends are naturally given to an ebb and flow and give and take that many times includes interruptions and redirection. If this is true of real life… how should the Church be ANY different? I also know that asking these type of questions can sometimes get you kicked out of some “churches”. However, if authority is never questioned it will never change and there are many dear sisters and brothers out there just DYING for a change. Change starts with one person just trying to follow Jesus as best as they can. I have been that person and hope to always be. Perhaps today is your turn?
Kirk Out !
”I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1: 3-11
It is extremely clear from this passage of scripture that Paul believed that he was in a total partnership with the believers that he was serving. The Greek word for partnership used here is koinonia and it clearly means fellowship and partnership. It also means mutual participation. Paul did not support the idea of hierarchical leadership or a Clergy/Laity division. No, he believed in total mutuality in the Body of Christ. He knew that he was partners with the believers that he served. There was no Spiritual caste system that elevated one believer over others. Paul’s Spirit inspired writings do not support a system that places a Pastor over the rest of the flock. Paul considered everyone in the Body of Christ to be equal in Christ and he knew that every believer was also a minister of the Gospel.
Paul had a real deep heartfelt connection with the church in Philippi. He held the church there in his heart and he had great affection for them. If you get the chance please read Acts chapter 16 and it will tell you of Paul’s visit there. It was there that he encountered a group of women praying by a river, that included Lydia a leading businesswoman in that region. The Lord opened up Lydia’s heart to Paul’s message and then Lydia opened her home to Paul and Silas. (my youngest daughter is named Lydia) Soon afterwards Paul and Silas end up getting stripped and flogged and thrown into jail. While in jail Paul and Silas just prayed and sang to God until an earthquake shakes the whole Jail. The jailer thinking that the prisoners had escaped was going to kill himself until Paul informed him that no one had left the jail. Because of this the jailer and his whole family came to The Lord. Then before leaving the city Paul and Silas return to Lydia’s home and they encouraged everyone before they left town. Of major note in this passage is how important women are in the whole scope of things and also how the early believers met in homes. It seems that when one opened their heart to Jesus their home was automatically open for fellowship also.
Paul had a partnership with those he served and he realized how important it is to have a real intimate connection and relationship with other believers. He prayed that love would abound in them, more and more, in both knowledge and depth of insight. He wanted his fellow believers to be able to discern what was best for themselves, instead of being THE ONE who always had to tell them what to do or think. Paul equipped other believers, but he also wanted them to be able to function on their own without him. To Paul the church is supposed to be mutual and participatory. Paul’s message was NOT.. I will LEAD and you will follow. No, it was that Christ will LEAD and we ALL will follow. As in “follow me as I follow Christ.” So to me partnership, koinonia, fellowship and mutual participation are the way to go if you really want to be a vibrant and healthy church.
Love and ……
Kirk Out !
“…..When you come together, EVERYONE has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. ALL of these MUST be done for the strengthening of the church.” 1 Corinthians 14: 26
Recently a brother asked me a couple of questions concerning how we fellowship in the housechurches I relate to, first he wanted to know what happens when we gather:
As far as “how to” it varies greatly.
The most important thing of course is to be led by The Holy Spirit.
None of the hc’s I relate to have a “PASTOR” or any paid ministers, however
a lot of pastoral ministry takes place anyway. We just take care of one another as needed.
We see our LEADER as Jesus and all the rest of us follow Him as best we can.
Although some leading takes place as we totally try to live out “follow me as I follow Christ.”
The leading in our gatherings is shared, and we hopefully follow moment by moment whoever (regardless of age, sex, race, etc.) has The Spirit’s anointing at any given time or moment.. One time a 9 year old excellently taught us about Cain and Abel and acceptable sacrifices.
In short our gatherings are open and free and many, hopefully all, share what Christ has put on their hearts and minds for our progressive mutual edification.
We see our gatherings as an ongoing conversation and hopefully this is following Jesus’ example of using dialogue instead of monologue or sermon to best share the truth in love with one another.
Now what does this look like from week to week? SIMPLE
We gather for a meal and pray. The meal is our communion and everyone contributes a dish to share. We have many conversations going on during the meal, eventually we will gather in the livingroom for a more focused time of song and sharing. Whoever is musical leads in praise and we all join in and anyone can suggest a song or play their instrument. Eventually this usually leads to some more prayer and then someone will begin sharing about something that has been on their heart this week and from there IT’S ON and we all share in turn, often using the bible as our resource, and reading whole passages together.
The whole gathering usually takes several hours or more from meal to finish.
Let me stress this. I have been meeting this way for over 37 years, and in all that time I have NEVER witnessed a gathering get “out of control” or into deep heresy. Somehow it just flows and The Lord blesses it. However, in this flow very rarely the more mature among us may need to redirect the sharing into a more positive direction.
I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s simple, it’s a flow, it’s relational, it’s family.
The other question that this brother asked was if we held to any creeds or other tests for fellowship:
In over 37 years of fellowshipping in homes, I have never been part of a house church with a test for fellowship other than a desire to meet with us. Because of this we have had many non-believers become believers. And those who held to non- Jesus like beliefs weeded themselves out or changed in a very short period of time.
I will meet with anybody willing to dialogue concerning the faith. And in a totally open and free, Spirit led meeting it is impossible to hide any real personal heresies for very long. Most folks who have fellowshipped with us over the years usually grow out of their problem theologies in time. When all things, including leadership, are open and mutual things just have a really neat way of working themselves out for the benefit of all involved. That at least is my experience and hope.
If anyone else has any questions please feel free to ask anytime.
Love and ……
Kirk Out !
“After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, ”Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized. Acts 18:1-8
I believe I see something in this passage. Something that can be easily missed in everyday reading, but I still see it now. What I see is the Body of Christ reaching out and giving accountability and encouragement to Paul.
Before Silas and Timothy arrived in Corinth Paul was going to the synagogue and REASONING with the Jews and Greeks trying to PERSUADE them and it seems like he was not getting very good results. However, as soon as Silas and Timothy show up Paul completely changes his message and method away from human reasoning and persuasion to EXCLUSIVELY PREACHING and TESTIFYING that Jesus was the Christ. I contend that it is quite possible that Silas and Timothy corrected and encouraged Paul and brought about this change in his ministry in Corinth.
I know I may be reaching here, but when I have shared this with others in the Body of Christ over the years it has been for the most part well received. One thing for sure is that something changed when Silas and Timothy came to Corinth. I also know that human reasoning and persuasion never bring the type of results that simple sharing and testifying in The Spirit do. Here we see Paul changing his message and method and right away he gets a response. Sure the initial response is opposition and abuse, but shortly thereafter Paul moves his ministry to a home and then many Corinthians believed and were baptized.
There is a huge difference between using our heads and using our hearts. Knowledge puffs up and can often stand in the way of real Spirit led sharing. I know this because I have been there and I have gladly received correction from the Body of Christ many times. Paul was human just as we are and he made mistakes just like we do. When we gather with other believers for totally free & open, Spirit led fellowship perhaps the main question we should ask ourselves when we are about to share is…..Is it me, or is it God? Quite frankly the only way to find out is to go ahead and share and allow the Body to judge our offerings. (1 Corinthians 14) Many are afraid to share because they might be wrong, but in our fear there is so much pride and in our pride so much fear. The only way to work through this with one another is to be honest and allow those we have come to love and trust to judge our sharing. So I say when you think you have something to share… GO FOR IT! Because we can all share in turn and allow the Holy Spirit to work among and in us. It takes the whole Body Of Christ fully functioning as it should to determine what His message is to be on any given day. Me? I want encouragement and accountability. When we all share our Christ given portion of the truth in love, the message is beautiful and bears much fruit. So please share away and allow the Body to determine what is excellent and of The Spirit of Christ on any given day?
Love and ….
Kirk Out !
“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds (stripes) we are healed.” Isaiah 53: 5
The totally amazing response to my recent blog posts about overcoming PTSD and childhood sexual abuse continues. Since Wednesday thirty seven people with issues similar to mine have come forward asking for help and support. It seems that freedom in Christ is contagious and I am hoping that it continues to spread like wildfire. In Christ there is nothing that we cannot overcome together.
This past week has reminded me that our own personal stories and testimonies of overcoming serious traumatic obstacles in our lives can bring to others great healing and hope. We all know that by the stripes and wounds of Jesus we are healed. Beyond that I contend that by our very own wounds and stripes others can be healed. How great and wonderful it is to know that someone else suffered as we did and then still came out clean and healed on the other side of their trauma. Jesus endured and overcame suffering for us and in Christ we can suffer and overcome for the sake of others. Our endurance in the midst of great trials, suffering and trauma can inspire others to hold on until their deliverance and healing finally comes.
This is the beauty of totally open and free, Spirit led, organic fellowship. Only in a atmosphere of free and open, Spirit led sharing and dialogue is there opportunity and room for all of our stories and sufferings to be told. In a closed, sermon and Pastor centered “church” there is seldom, if ever, the chance for anyone to share their story and struggles with the rest of the Body of Christ. In the middle of my very worst PTSD trials Jesus and those I share fellowship with carried and supported me until I was again able to stand and walk on my own again. In free and open fellowship relationships are forged in the fire of love, truth and compassion. Because of this fire we are able to trust and open up to one another in ways only the true family of God can. I can share my deepest and darkest of secrets with my siblings in Christ, because they have shared their deepest and darkest with me. Then together we can all seek His face until our healing arrives. The true Body of Christ will go to war with you and have your back until victory comes, no matter how long it takes. This is all about sharing ALL OF LIFE with one another while holding nothing back, and not just sharing a pew on Sunday morning.
Kirk Out !