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 5% 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 95% 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 am sorry if this blog doesn’t measure up, but I am intoxicated with love after spending the day with my 4 grandchildren at my daughter Becca’s wedding. I got to hold, love and play with the twins Gus and Annabelle (who are almost 6 months old) Owen who is 2 and Kaden who turns 3 later this month. They all fill my heart with joy and I love them all so very, very much. So today I simply shared what little else I had on my heart and mind. My heart is so filled with sincere love and right now nothing else matters. Plus Becca and Kyle’s wedding and reception were awesome. Very free, open, bold and non-conventional. They had no need or want for a Clergyman and instead had dear friends and family tell the story of their relationship. If anyone wants to add or subtract from what I have shared here today, please do so in the comments?
Kirk Out !
“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!
Kirk Out !
“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 new grand-twins, two grandsons under age 3 and are at the beginning of new relationships. 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.
Kirk Out !
“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 here last night. 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.”
Kirk Out !
“….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 !
“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 !
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.