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Dropping The F Bomb?

Greetings,

One Sunday evening a while back Caleb and I visited a housechurch in Virginia.  We had an excellent time with the saints there because they made us feel right at home.  They had just the right mix of humor and irreverence and they treated each other with much love and respect.

The Spirit led topic turned out to be how we treat one another in the Body of Christ when we have differing opinions or just disagree.  Every member contributed to the conversation and the flow of the dialogue was perfect.  Of course there were times when we shared awkward silence, but when you are attempting to be real with Him and one another that is just a natural part of the ongoing exchange of ideas.

A key to being able to navigate difficult conversations together is the willingness to hear each other out without threat of judgement or condemnation.  If you truly desire free and totally open fellowship then you must surrender to the art of active listening.  Disagreements are fine as long as you can still bear with one another in love, even in the face of major differences.

The folks there in Virginia told us of a time when someone just dropped the F bomb in the middle of their fellowship time together.  They had a disagreement over some of Paul’s letters and a member strongly opposed what another had said about Paul and the F bomb was dropped.  Not in a mean or disrespectful way, but in a WTF? kind of way.  They loved Jesus and each other enough that they continued to press on through the moment together until they found sufficient resolution.  Those involved chose not to take total offense at what was shared and that acceptance allowed them to continue the ongoing conversation until they found a place of common ground and mutual agreement.

I love my hc friends in Virginia and I was able to confirm to them that you really haven’t had relational housechurch until someone drops the F bomb or blood has been drawn.  Because if you are not getting close or intimate enough for these wild things to happen, you haven’t gone deep enough in each others lives to really call it church.  If you really want to be real and authentic then you will go to any length to know and love each other deeper than what the average traditional church allows.  Traditional church avoids depth of relationship with HIM and one another like the plague, while relational church embraces it.  Give me real and slightly vulgar on any day over fake and pristine.  I need fellowship with real people with warts, farts, blemishes and all.  I desire reality, true fellowship, and not fake behavior all the time.

Love and…

Kirk Out !

P.s.  This will be my last blog post until about July 4th.  Talena and I are taking our honeymoon trip and we will be heading east to Michigan to see family and friends.  We are also participating in the Searching Together Gathering in Wisconsin while we are gone.  Prayers appreciated!

 

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Even More Simple?

Greetings,

“.. The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.”  Galatians 5: 6

The ONLY thing that matters is faith expressing itself through LOVE!

That says it all.  I cannot add or subtract a single thing,

In this true Light, doctrine and theology do not matter much.

Love is THE answer.

Love and ….

Kirk Out !

 

Simple?

Greetings,

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  1 Peter 4: 8-10

Is it all really that simple?  Does it all really boil down to just love, hospitality and grace?  I believe the answer to those questions is yes.  Like I have said before though, it is not automatic.  We need to actively choose to love others deeply, offer hospitality freely and to faithfully offer grace to others.

Love is a verb and it needs to be applied personally and with very much care.  Nothing else covers sins like His love does.  It would all be very much easier if He only called us to love those who were entirely lovable, but the fact is that HE wants us to love everyone even those who are difficult to love.  My dear friend Glenn Kaiser says it something like this….”The way we love God the most is how we love those we like the least.”   Ain’t that the truth?  Furthermore, how well do we love those who have sinned against us?  Do we withhold our love from them or do we extend our hand to them in love?  Big questions that are not at all easy to answer.  I think we should love liberally and judge sparingly.

Hospitality is definitely a gift, but we are all called to offer it to others even if it is not our personal gifting.  Truth is that our hearts and homes should be open to everyone.  We should gladly serve others and offer them all we have to give.  Jesus held nothing back.  Not while feeding the multitudes or by going to the cross for us all.  Yet somehow we still find it difficult to even offer a cup of cold water in His name.  We all need to allow Him to soften our hearts so that we can eventually learn to love and serve others as well as He did.

We need to love and serve others in a wide and holistic manner, offering His grace in whatever form necessary.  Jesus lays it out quite clearly in Matthew 25..we should be serving and loving those who are hungry, thirsty, strange, naked, sick and in prison.  And I am certain His list is even more comprehensive than that.  We are meant to give grace to others no matter their station in life.

We were created to offer Love, Hospitality and Grace to both the washed and the unwashed. This is our calling, but are we fulfilling it?  Do we rush to the aid of others or do we hide as they pass us by?  Most of us do not even treat those close to us with such love and grace.  That saddens my heart.  In Christ we are capable of so much more than that.  Christ in us is THE Hope of Glory for both us and others.  Jesus wants us to be givers and lovers.  I do not want to settle for anything less than that.  My heart is sometimes selfish, but today I am choosing to give and love.  Anyone want to join me?

Love and ….

Kirk Out !

 

Judgment Or Grace And Mercy?

Greetings,

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.  Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.  And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”  2 Corinthians 5: 16-19

Wow, a powerful passage indeed.  We are no longer supposed to view people with our own worldly, carnal, eyes of judgement.  “Do not judge by mere appearance, but rather use righteous (God centered and influenced) judgment.” (John 7: 24)  We are not supposed to judge as the world does.  We are to see everyone only through the eyes of Christ now.

The Lord has given us ALL the ministry of reconciliation, which means we are not to hold ANYONE’S sins against them.  This is HUGE!  It is an area that the “church” gets almost totally wrong most of the time.  Most of the “church” today sits in judgment against most sins and the people who commit them, but the message that The Lord gave us is to forgive EVERYONE’S sins.  Lying, cheating, stealing, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, you name it and we are called to forgive as Christ forgave us.

This message is not optional people!  It is the central message of the very Gospel we say we believe in and live for.  We are supposed to approach ALL people with open arms and hearts, but the fact is that most of the time we totally reject the people who need God’s grace the most.  Instead of openly inviting people into the church we build fortresses, literally and metaphorically, to keep most people out of the church.  Don’t you see how ass backwards that is?  His message is not about our comfort zones, it is about totally loving the undesirable and outcasts of society.  We should all be on the very front line and cutting edge of meeting and accepting sinners just the way they are.

Expecting people to be clean, upright and sinless before they meet Jesus is totally ridiculous.   We are supposed to welcome EVERYONE into the Body of Christ and after that God will choose how to wash away and deal with whatever their various sins might be.  And it will be on His time schedule and NOT ours. Until we open our hearts and arms to EVERYONE the work of the church will remain undone.  Some smug religious folks might be comfortable with that, but I am not and neither is Jesus.  Coming into a relationship with Christ and His Church has always been a matter of whosoever will.  We all need to open our hearts and homes to the so called “unloveable”.  It is only then that His church will shine and begin to attract those who need HIM most.

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

 

Nothing Is Automatic

Greetings,

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”  Colossians 3: 12-14

Choosing to follow Jesus begins the process of us becoming a true child of God (John 1: 12). However, there is nothing automatic about becoming more like Him.  We could surely never save ourselves, but it is up to us whether or not we choose to grow in grace and knowledge beyond mere salvation.  Virtues like compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience are to be found in us only as we choose to grow and mature in the things of God.

The Holy Spirit is always there to equip us with these desirable traits, but we must actively pursue and choose them to be at work in us in any given moment.  In other words we must surrender to putting on these virtues moment by moment as they are needed in our daily lives. It is only then that we can effectively respond to the needs of others with grace, truth and love.

It is also true that we need to learn how to walk in forgiveness towards everyone, including ourselves.  It took me many years to forgive my earthly father for sexually, physically, emotionally and verbally abusing me as a child.  However, when forgiveness came it freed me up to live and love in ways not possible before I forgave.  On my own forgiving such offenses was impossible, but when I surrendered it all to Jesus, His Spirit gave me the ability to truly forgive and finally move leaps and bounds forward in every aspect of my life.

Some people, even Christ followers, say they cannot forgive those who sinned against them unless the sinner repents and apologizes.  That kind of thinking keeps the offended party from truly experiencing His grace and inhibits them from moving forward in many areas of their life. Forgiving others does not excuse their sin or let them off the hook with God.  Everyone has to stand before judgement someday, forgiven or not.  In fact forgiving our offenders many times does nothing for them, but what it does do is set us free and it allows us to move forward in the faith and life in general.  My father went to the grave totally denying the things he did to me, my mother and others.

Having virtues is all good and fine, but they amount to nothing without love.  Love covers a multitude of sins and it binds all things together in perfect unity.  Love like everything else is not automatic in this life.  We have to choose moment by moment to walk in love.  None of this is easy.  No one, including Jesus, ever said it would be.  However, if we surrender our hearts and minds to His love and faithfulness amazing things can happen.  With all I have been through since childhood, I am a walking miracle.  When I surrender to His grace and love I do more than just survive… I thrive.   I totally believe that anyone who loves and serves Him can be a walking miracle too.  We just need to actually clothe ourselves with His virtues each and everyday.

Love and …..

Kirk Out !

 

Open Rebuke

Greetings,

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.  Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”  Proverbs 27: 5-6

Believe it or not these are two of my favorite verses in the Old Testament.  They deal with relationship at a very deep and intense level.  They speak of deep friendship and love. Friendship and love that transcend any situation that we may find ourselves in.

I really love verse five because it even works backwards……better is open love than hidden rebuke.  I don’t know why I ever switched it around like that, but it surely fits either way.  Better is open rebuke …. I totally agree with that.  I would rather someone love me enough to publicly rebuke me, no matter the cost to my reputation, than I would have someone love me in secret.  Let’s face it… there are sometimes in our lives when we need to be on the receiving end of strong words of correction.  Who better is to bring this rebuke than a dear close friend?  In times like those the only people that could really reach out to us and minister effectively to such a need would be a true friend.  I am extremely thankful to have friends with such love and courage in my life and I am blessed to have been at times rebuked by them.

Why am I glad to have such friends in my life?  Friends that would challenge and rebuke me if needed?  Simply because their wounds can be trusted.  If someone comes to me in the Spirit of love and with respect I could receive about any message from this person.  Be it good news or bad I would trust them, and even if they were wrong it would still be well with my soul.  Yes- “men” I do not need in my life.  People that would kiss my ass I do not want or need.   What I do need from friends is gut level honesty.  I need friends that are honest and true, even if I don’t like the kind of truth they are presenting to me.

True friends like that are not easy to find, but I have found many of them in totally open & free, Spirit led fellowship over the last forty some years.  In most traditional/institutional “churches” scripture and right doctrine reign supreme at times even over Christ Himself.  However, in a truly Spirit led church relationships with Jesus and one another are central to the life of the church.  We are all called to be REAL and AUTHENTIC, but in most “christian” circles these days superficiality is what you get and most seem satisfied with that level of relationship.  Jesus calls for much more than that, with Him and with one another.  So why don’t we just go for it each and everyday?  Give Him all your fears and insecurity and take a leap of faith by allowing others to see and experience the real you, totally free and uncensored.  I started doing that over forty years ago and I am never looking back.  Does anyone out there want to join me on this grand adventure?  If so buckle up, because it is a bumpy ride, but well worth the trip!

Love and ….

Kirk Out !

 

“Obey” Your Leaders?

Greetings,

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I believe that every member of The Body of Christ is a full and equal peer under ONLY Jesus.  I contend that all Christ followers are true siblings and that no believer ever has the “rule” over and above other believers.  Many in the traditional “church” believe in Ruling Elders and that only the Clergy are to be in charge over the church.  I say that ONLY Jesus is The Head, Ruler and true Shepherd of His Church.

It seems that most traditional “church” Pastors disagree with my stance on church leadership.  I mention these Pastors here because they often quote Hebrews 13: 17 as a validation of having humans rule over others in the church.  Today I want to take an honest look at that verse and determine what it might really mean to all of us in His Church.

We are going to look at several English translations of that particular verse. However, there is no real good substitute for the Greek.  I took over three years of Koine Greek in college, but that was over 25 years ago. Now with the Internet and computer tools we can all finally delve into real meanings that can be very eye opening. For example;

Hebrews 13:17a Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: – KJV

Hebrews 13:17a Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them [continually recognizing their authority over you] – Amplified

Hebrews 13:17a Keep constantly obeying your rulers, and constantly be
submitting to them – Wuest

The Amplified and Wuest both do a better job bringing in the concept of
continuing action that is only implied in the KJV

However, translators that want to appease the King and Church (or today get endorsements that increase sales) do not want to “rock the traditional boat”.  King James would never endorse a translation that did not support hierarchy and “men” ruling over other “men”.  The King James translators were biased towards human leadership and rule in the church because they knew the King could have their heads if their words did not support Kings and Clergy.

Let us look at three Greek words that are prominent in this verse:

Peitho – persuasion
Hegeomai – chosen leader
Hupeiko – military term to stop fighting after a loss

Then taking the Greek into full consideration the verse should read like this:

Hebrews 13:17a Stop resisting and allow yourself to be persuaded by
those you have chosen to follow.

Now that translation of the Greek seems to me, to better line up with what Jesus showed us about true leadership in the church.  It also comes more into line with what Paul taught about authority in the church.  This translation makes the whole concept of leadership more relational, as it should be.  Instead of being ruled and made to obey someone in a position of power over us, we instead have the freedom of choice to be persuaded by someone we want to follow because of the life we have seen them live before us.  This is not being commanded or told what to do by someone with a title or position.  This is us voluntarily wanting to follow someone we love, know and appreciate because we have a relationship with them.  In a free church submission is always voluntary and never forced.  We should never be forced to follow anyone’s lead, even if they are licensed, ordained and have a title that makes them sound important.  Jesus does not force us to follow Him, so why should we ever follow ANYone who tries to force us to submit, listen to and follow them because of position or title?  True submission occurs when we realize that someone has laid down their life for us and that they are acting in our best interest in any given situation.  It is always about relationship and never about power, manipulation and control.

In most traditional “churches” Leadership is always top heavy and always top down.  That is not the way that it should be among us followers of Jesus.  Jesus led by example as did Paul and others.  In the church it should never be about edicts or commands from those in recognized Leadership.  The two main things I always look for in someone I might follow are love and humility.  The reason I follow any peer is that I see that they are following Christ Jesus.  As Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”  A true leader does not seek to lead, no they seek to follow Christ alone.  Leadership, true leadership, is merely a quite simple by-product of following and abiding in Jesus.

Love and ……

Kirk Out !