Normally I would quote some scripture here, but once again I needed to give my last bible away while on another wonderful journey. Still, I think I will quote Jesus when He said, “Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you will find, and knock and the door shall be opened for you.” It is also written that ..”we do not have because we do not ask.” Proving to me at least that Jesus always wants to yes to those who follow Him. Knowing this fact it baffles me that we do not ask for Christ’s help more often than what we do. Jesus wants to help us 100% of the time, so why can’t we give ourselves to Him 100% of the time. Maybe it is because we are too prideful and self focused and absorbed?
My road trip to Florida and back was wonderful. I was deeply encouraged by some great people who were seeking simple, rich, relational fellowship with Christ and members of His Body. I just hope I was as encouraging to them as they were to me. Over coffee or over meals Jesus blessed our conversations and drew us nearer to Himself and one another.
As always the highlight of my trip was spending time with my soon to be 95 year old “Aunt” Marie. If I have ever encountered a true saint in my life it has to be Marie. She is the most accepting, non-judgmental, loving, person on the planet. I have never heard her say one bad word about anyone ever. And if others begin to say something negative about someone in her midst..Marie just says we need to pray for that person a little more. When I am with my Aunt we talk, eat and play cards until our fingers bleed. I so deeply love my Aunt Marie and am abundantly blessed to have her in my life. She is still strong in Spirit, sound in mind, but weak in body. She moves a lot slower than she used to, shuffling along rather than walking, but she still is up for me taking her out the eat a fresh broiled fish supper. Spending time with her refreshes my Spirit and soul. We all need people in our lives that do that for us.
I also got to spend time with my oldest friend Dave. We met in school when we were 11 and that means we have been in each other’s lives for nearly 44 years. We have been there for each other through both the good times and the bad. We also love each other enough to challenge each other to stay true to the will and ways of Christ. Sometimes we need friends to help redirect our course when we might be getting off track.
The last 3 days of my trip I stayed with my college buddy Doug. For 33 years we have been more than friends. It was good to spend time with Doug who yearns for more authentic fellowship in his life. He took me out for real Georgia barbecue and we feasted together.
Now to get back to the ask, seek, knock…. I left Augusta early Saturday morning. At about noon I was getting hungry and pulled into a Waffle House in North Carolina wanting to get a pecan waffle. The place was packed and I was told it would be a 20 minute wait for a seat. Then at the end of the counter I spied an empty seat at a small table for 2. There was an older lady sitting there, but I heard Jesus telling me to ask the woman if I could sit there with her, not knowing if she was with someone else who might be coming soon or just might be in the rest room. In a moment I fought off negativity, fear and insecurities about approaching a stranger in a situation like this and instead yielded to Christ and went up to the woman and asked if I could sit there with her. She smiled and said “certainly”.
The waitress took our order right away and then I introduced myself to Patricia. This led to a brief conversation of what brought me to North Carolina because she noticed right away that I did not have a southern accent. I explained the purpose of my trip South and how I loved to travel and encourage those seeking a more relational way of following Jesus and BEING the church together. It seems my sharing scratched Patricia right where she had an itch. She said that in all her 74 years she never found a “church” worth belonging to….She got nothing out of their sermons and was irked by their constant appeal for more and more money in their offering plates. We continued to converse while eating our lunch, but then she stopped abruptly and told me that the Jesus and faith that I described to her was more than worth following and she wanted to ask Him into her life right then and there. So right there in that very busy Waffle House we prayed together and she asked Jesus to reign supreme in her life from that moment on. It was amazing! Then it was time for both of us to leave and we embraced and exchanged phone numbers. Before she pulled away in her car I ran to my car and got my bible and gave it her asking her to focus on the Gospel of John.
Simply amazing isn’t it? All because I trusted Jesus enough to provide when I ask, seek or knock. I heard Jesus tell me to ask Patricia if I could sit with her and instead of second guessing, rationalizing, or being timid I chose to obey His voice and step out in faith and boldness. Opportunities like this abound all around us. When are we going to finally learn to “take advantage of every opportunity for the days are evil”? Stories like this should abound and be commonplace among those who love and serve Jesus. Simple Spirit led conversations bear fruit far beyond the grandest of any sermon or traditional “church” service.
“….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.
Kirk Out !
“As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” He told him, and Matthew got up and followed Him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with Him and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9: 9-13
A few observations here… First Matthew got up and followed Jesus right away without any questions or debate. Then immediately Matthew offered hospitality opening his home to Jesus and his disciples so that they could eat there. Hospitality should be an important aspect of our faith. When you open your heart to Jesus you should also open your home for fellowship right away.
The Pharisees, instead of rejoicing in this opportunity for Jesus to share with tax collectors and sinners, were bothered and accusatory because Jesus was eating with such people. Jesus was quick to put the Pharisees in their place and challenge them to go and learn what “mercy, not sacrifice” means. Then Jesus closed the conversation by telling them that He came to call sinners and not the righteous. The catch to that phrase is the fact that no one is righteous and we are all sinners. However, the religious who always view themselves as righteous because of pride and the sacrifices they make in front of other men, always fall way short of even beginning to understand what mercy is.
Mercy is responding with compassion instead of judgment towards those who are in need. It is treating people with kindness and sharing in their suffering instead looking down at them from a safe position or distance. The righteous/religious are rarely willing to meet someone at their level of need. Showing mercy means we have a willingness to get our hands dirty while helping those in need in the midst of their situation. Being merciful means we meet the needs of those deemed as unworthy by the religious and society in general. Being merciful means we serve and love sinners, in the midst of their sin, as Jesus would.
I would rather eat and hang out with so called sinners instead of Pharisees any day. True ministry is sharing your entire life with those in need. It is not about sharing a few bible verses with someone. We are called to walk in love and mercy towards others. Most “Christians” rarely, if ever, eat with sinners; but Jesus sure did. When was the last time you ate or hung out with “sinners”? The mindset of most “church goers” I meet is to avoid the world and sinners at all cost. The most ministry many “Christians” ever do is inviting someone to come to their “church” service on Sunday or worse just giving someone a bible tract to read. People we should be laying our lives down for the sake of others. We should live and work out loud among those who are yet to know Him. Love, mercy, compassion, hope, and grace are only valid when they are shared with one in need. These are supposed to be realities of our everyday life and not the exception. I have probably said too much, but I am going to ponder these things some more.
However, before I ponder I am going to share what happened here in Sturgis Friday in the late afternoon. Caleb and I were driving home from a driveway we had just sealcoated ten miles South of town when we received a phone call from a woman in need. Melinda told me she was over 7 months pregnant and she had not eaten anything in over 2 days. She found my number listed in the local paper’s “Religion” page, where all local “churches”, for free, can provide information on their fellowships meeting times and such. Our housechurch has been listed there for over 25 years now.
Melinda told me that she had called at least 20 other “churches” asking for help with food and all these “churches” told her basically that they don’t do “benevolence” in the community anymore, because they “outsourced” that “ministry” to the local Salvation Army by giving them a check each month. However, the Salvation Army only allows for one food basket per family each month and Melinda already used up her basket 2 weeks ago and she needed food now. I then asked Melinda for her phone number and address and told her I would call back soon. I fought off getting extremely pissed off with the other local “churches” and told Caleb what was going on. We then immediately prayed together and then went straight to the grocery store.
We bought 40 dollars worth of food and took it to a very surprised and happy pregnant woman and told her if she needed anything else just to call us. I then apologized for the coldheartedness of the other “churches” she had contacted. Then she asked why our church was willing to help when the others turned her away. I told her that when Mary was pregnant with Jesus she was also turned away, and that fact has always motivated us to help other pregnant women in need. I also said that our home fellowship does not have any Clergy to pay or buildings to maintain and because of that our funds are always fluid and available for benevolence. We prayed with Melinda and then we left for home.
When I got home I sent an email to the whole local ministerial association scolding them for their lack of mercy and benevolence in this situation. 1 Pastor responded with sincere repentance while 6 others told me I had no right to call them out and judge them in such a manner. To me a true church responds to the needs of others in their community. Especially when the one in need is pregnant. The true church should never say, “there is no more room at the Inn.”
Love and …..
Kirk Out !
P.s. This whole thing just really pisses me off deep in my Spirit. Yet another reason why, many if not most, institutional “churches” suck. Authentic Churches are all about benevolence IMHO.
P.s. The events detailed above happened a year and a half ago. I am happy to report that today as I was leaving the grocery store one of the local “Pastors” came up to me and told me I was right to have rebuked him and the other “Pastors” for not providing food and comfort to the pregnant woman last summer. George told me he repented and has been making restitution by helping others in need. I thanked George and we exchanged a big hug. Sometimes it takes awhile, but speaking the truth in love always gets results IMHO.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14: 25-26
This will be real short today, but very important. The 12 were very vital to the early church because of the amount of time they actually spent with Jesus before His crucifixion. They had first hand knowledge of the life and teachings of The Lord.
However, I feel the Holy Spirit was a total game changer. Before The Spirit was given only the 12 knew all the facts and knowledge about Jesus and His teachings. But when the Great Teacher The Holy Spirit came upon and filled followers of Christ; the 12 were no longer extra-special. All that they had been taught and experienced via Jesus was now made freely available for everyone by The Holy Spirit. That equals first hand direct Spiritual knowledge and wisdom in my book.
You either believe and confirm that The Spirit could teach everyone ALL things or you limit His power to the 12 special ones. I boldly say that EVERYTHING in all creation, all knowledge, all wisdom, and all power is fully and freely available to ANYONE who follows Jesus.
The Holy Spirit teaches us ALL THINGS. Nothing at all is hidden or secret and only available to a select few in the Body. Christ died for all and The Holy Spirit teaches all those who seek Him. It is supposed to be the Priesthood of ALL believers and not just a select few. However, the vast majority in the traditional/institutional “church” do not operate in their priesthood and instead depend upon Pastors to nourish them and provide all teaching and ministry. That is an extremely sad fact my friends. Because every child of God can be thoroughly equipped to lead and serve if they would just yield to the Spirit’s guidance and turn away from the teachings of mere men. It just could not be any more simple, if we are all priests before both God and “men”…. we should all step out in faith and use our God given gifts to change the world together. If Holy Spirit empowered, every member ministry was the norm instead of the exception.. we could be turning this world upside down to benefit everyone around us. That my friends would be a glorious Church indeed, but it will never happen where folks sit passive in the “pews” with full spiritual dependence upon one “special” Pastor, Apostle or Elder. WAKE UP PEOPLE! We are intended to be a fully functioning, complete Body of Christ under the Headship of Christ Jesus alone.
Kirk Out !
P.s. I am just back home from my trip South. It was a wonderful time of relating and fellowship in Christ. As soon as I can unpack and decompress I will post a full report.
Hello fellow seekers of truth in love,
First off, I must say straight out that there should be no divisions in the church. Because through Jesus we are all priests and equals now. I also know that Jesus led by example by being a servant and washing the disciples feet . Jesus also said “The greatest among you will be my servant.”
Remember, this is just how I feel and see. There is
no requirement for you to buy or order anything.
However, I would love your accountability and feedback in
continuing to sharpen one another though…
Some of this is recycled revelation for me that is hitting me fresh again now.
Just so happens that we have been “studying” the book of
Acts in our housechurch at the very time this pops up. I put studying in
quotes because we are going about it in an extremely
unstructured, disorganized way. We didn’t plan it.
God seems to have led us in this direction and we
are continuing until we get instructions otherwise.
Before I begin let me say that these are just
prayerful musings, or what ifs, at this point; but I am
becoming more and more convinced that they ring truthful.
I feel Acts Chapter 6 is very problematic. Some folks
might be right when they suggests the roots of the
hierarchical, institutional “church” may have grounding here. The
“apostles” may be getting too caught up in their own word of
mouth press by this time in the church’s young history.
It is pretty pious and hierarchical to say they
shouldn’t do common mercy, get your hands dirty,
practical ministry, wait on tables type of stuff; so they could do
hyper-spiritual, prayer, and word stuff ain’t it? And
then they assigned these non-attention getting “menial” tasks to others? So much for Jesus’ cup of cold water teaching ehh? How ’bout “…. you are not to be called teacher for you are all brothers (including sisters of course)”?
More troublesome than that to me is their reason. They
simply did this in response to a complaint. A complaint from the
Grecian Jews about fairness. Then they ASSUMED a need from this
complaint and REASONED a way to meet this supposed need.
No where does it say that they were led by God to do what
they did or organise at all. It even said it was a “proposal”.
I wonder was this Spirit led and God inspired or just a
reasonable fleshly response to a implied need? Did they use
rightgeous judgement in this matter, or did they judge by appearance
based on a complaint of a splinter group?
I also find it quite interesting that in the chapters
imediately following this “big idea” we find Stephen and
Philip doing wonders, miracles, and prayer and preaching stuff, instead of the menial tasks they had been assigned by the “apostles” in this “big idea”. Or like my friend Hal said “Stephen and company didn’t stay in the swim lane the 12 assigned them.”
Call me a hopelessly romantic heretic if you will, but
could it possibly be that Steve and Phil were the first relational
hc, buck the system types in church history? Seems they
wouldn’t let no apostolic decree keep them from their God-given,
blood bought priesthood!
In fact Steve was so bold and full of grace (yes, the two
are compatible at times. Surprise!) that he was the one who
got the attention of the Sanhedrin; instead of the prayer and word
only, special types. Of course they stoned him (Go figure?),
but not before he raised the relational church anthem of “
The Spirit of The Lord does not dwell in temples made by human
endeavor or hands.”
And Steve also voiced one of my all time faves with,
“You stiff necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears…you
always resist the Holy Spirit.”
Anyhow, Because Steve was bold enough to practice his full
priesthood, perhaps in spite of the revered apostles, he
got done in. But before the very eyes of Saul, soon to be
Paul. I feel this event helped bring conviction unto Paul and lead him
unto the one true faith.
At this point, perhaps due to bloodguilt, Saul starts going
crazy on the church and literally persecuting it to death.
Interestingly enough it says, “Saul began to destroy the church.
Going from house to house ..he put men and women in
prison.” So, the church is the people- men and women- and he had to
find them house to house. Why not in the temple or the temple
courts? Perhaps it is because they no longer gathered there like
they did in the extreme infancy of the church. Perhaps they only did
so in the begining because of their jewish baggage and grew out of
that to discover just meeting house to house was better?
Anyway, in Acts 8 we see Phil being led by the
Spirit and an angel to baptize somebody. Then
ordinary table waiter Phil even gets beamed up (Translated, moved?) God
style. Glad he didn’t take the place he’d been given by
the “big idea” Apostles and instead did the prayer and special word stuff too.
(Interesting sidenote: When Phil got Calgoned (God take
me away!) The guy he had just baptized was left all alone. Guess God
thought His Spirit could do a great job of discipling this guy
without Phil or the “Big Ideas” guys help?
Then in Acts 9 Saul gets zapped into Paul by Jesus. And
ordinary, heck he ain’t even worthy of waiting tables, Ananias
hears directly from God (Gee, and he wasn’t even reading a bible at
the time. In fact they didn’t exist yet) and proceeds to lay hands
on Paul the former persecuter and get him healed of blindness (physical
and spiritual?) and filled with the Holy Spirit. Sure hope
Ananias was an elder, if not he just might have violated James 5 too!
Please note: No special set apart for word and prayer, Big Idea
guys were involved in Paul’s conversion. In fact they didn’t want
to receive him when he did finally show up in their city.
“At once” Paul starts the powerful prayer and
word thing, without apostolic permission even. The gall! Then when Paul
finally gets accepted in Jerusalem he debates the Jews and they tried
to kill him! Wonder if he called them out for inciting the Big
Idea thing with their complaints?
How do I tie this mess together before I close?
Well, I find it interesting that the church grew beyond
the realm of Jerusalem (like it was supposed to by Acts 1) by a
strange chain of events and people.
And it was mainly due to the non-Big Idea, original apostle people. Steve takes a stand in spite of the place given him by the Ford folks. This stand gets the scattering going, except the Ford execs stay in Detroit. Plain old “Idealess” Phil then does God’s deeds in Samaria. Then Non-original, but rather ingrafted into the big idea guys, Paul gets the biggest missions territory.
Perhaps, just perhaps, Paul got the call because the Ford
Motor company was starting to blow it. And God proved that the
only thing special or set apart about folks is whether or not they
hear the Voice of The Spirit and obey!
Being an original apostle or Model T was not that big of a deal. It
is the Spirit led heart that matters and not the best laid plans
of mice and ANY men, including apostles.
Ford tried to incorporate and go assembly line, but God
forced the organic hands on planting and gardening once again?
Or am I dreaming? If I am it is sure sweet and not an
organizational nightmare at least!
And I just love Acts 9:31: ” Then the church
throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was
strenghtened; and encouraged by the apostles…. …NO THAT’S NOT
IT…IT’S BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, it grew in numbers, living in awe of the
But NO! God couldn’t have allowed an expression of
man’s error to teach us about Him and churchlife could HE?
Can anyone say “Golden Calf”? or John Mark?
Love and ……
Kirk Out !
p.s. The bible contains many messages of God’s people getting into error. So perhaps the 12 apostles got this wrong too? The bible speaks of every member ministry and the Priesthood of every believer. I contend that the 12 may have thought too highly of themselves. Because the example Jesus gave them was that of a servant that washed feet and waited on tables. For the twelve to so quickly abandon common serving as Christ did in favor of exclusive “Special” ministry totally flies in the face of the example Jesus lived out before their very eyes for over three years. True followers of Christ will always serve and wait on tables, and also give themselves fully to the Word and prayer. After all feeding the hungry is pretty “Special” too…in Christ’s eyes. Jesus fed the 5000 while also sharing the Word.
p.s.s. I know that this is the mother of all re-blogs with a few revisions, but it felt right to re-post it here today. I hope it is worthy of consideration and further dialogue.
p.s.s.s. I won’t be posting another blog post for awhile. Thursday I am driving South to spend time with other relational housechurch folks in Georgia and Florida. I will also be spending several days with my favorite person in the world my “Aunt” Marie who will soon turn 95 years old. She was the only Godly influence in my life when I was young and I am quite certain I would not be the person I am today without her prayers and words of wisdom.
“O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” Selah
But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill. Selah
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side. Arise, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people. Selah” Psalm 3
I am now in the process of living this Psalm out every day of my life. My foes are PTSD flashbacks of childhood sexual abuse and brutal rapes and they are many. Some have given up on me and are saying I will not recover from my affliction.
However, The Lord is my shield and He indeed does lift up my head. I cry out to Jesus and He rescues me, time and time again. I am now sleeping again and The Lord sustains me. I will no longer fear the multitude of flashbacks that have tried to hold me captive oh so long. I look to The Lord and He brings me deliverance.
This past week has been amazing with so many breakthroughs that I now cry tears of joy even as I write this. Jesus has invaded my dreams once again and He has driven out the enemy. Now when I have a flashback Jesus is right there with me speaking words of comfort, love and freedom. I have not felt such freedom in over 17 years.
Family members, friends and previous doctors and counselors had given up on me. However now I rise up from the ashes and I feel His hand upon me like never before. It is like a new chapter in my life is being written and I am amazed. I can now look to the future with a renewed hope and clarity of vision. Am I completely out of the woods yet? Only time will tell, but just like Jesus led me out of the woods when I was a young child, He is now in my sight again and all I want to do is follow Him.
I am very thankful for the multitude of prayers and words of encouragement that I have received from The Body Of Christ these past 17 years. Thanks also to those of you following this blog that have interceded for me countless times. I wish I could put into words how I am feeling right now, but it is so beyond words that I can’t even start. All I can say is JESUS IS AWESOME! Please allow Him to work in your life as He has in mine?
Love and ….
Kirk Out !
P.s. The last twelve days have been a challenge to endure. The most flashbacks and lack of sleep that I have faced in over four years. Still it has been less than a full blown PTSD episode and I am grateful for that fact. Three consecutive nights without sleep definitely beats nine for sure. Jesus is with me every step of the way and I know I can make it through this temporary obstacle with the direct aid of the Holy Spirit and the intercession and encouragement of my true siblings in Christ.