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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, 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 !

 

Elders? Yes Or No?

Greetings,

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed.  Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock.”  1 Peter 5: 1-3  Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament

Yes, there are such people as true elders within the Body of Christ.  However, please notice that they are AMONG us and NOT over us.  In my over 42 years of serving the Body of Christ I have noticed that true elders do not accept titles or pay for their service.  No, they serve gladly and give of themselves continually without compensation or reward.  These mature folk help us find safe pasture where we are able to grow and learn directly from The Master.  They help make sure we are safe in all matters of faith and practice.

The Lord never meant for these gifts to become offices to be filled.  This is not about positions within the Body, because there are really no positions in the true Body of Christ.  Because we are all equal siblings peers and Priests in God’s true Church.  There is no positional Leadership in the Body of Christ, except that Jesus is King and we are not.  The only way to effectively lead in Christ’s Body is by example.  We are not to stand over and above others in the church and tell them what to do or believe.  We will not Lord over others in the Body.  What we will do is live upright lives worthy of the callings we have received.  We will be the same person in public or in private.  We will love others by laying our lives down for them.  The greatest calling any of us can receive is that of being a servant to all, just like Christ Jesus.

I have witnessed the church function gloriously without professional, positional, paid leadership for over 42 years.  It can and does work extremely well.  The church does not need those with titles or positions to be effective in its ministry.  The church I am speaking of makes disciples and cares for others extremely well; and it spends all its resources on direct ministry to widows, orphans, and those in Spiritual and natural need; instead of on Clergy salaries, buildings and institutional maintenance.   Any human hierarchy within the church hinders the church.  I know it is a very simple way that I follow and in that way Jesus is the One and ONLY Head and Leader.  I will bow down to Him and no other.  Who do you follow?  I certainly don’t want anyone to follow me.  I am just glad when folks choose to stand alongside me.

Love and …..

Kirk Out !

 

THE Great Shepherd

Greetings,
                    “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.”  Hebrews 13: 20-21
                   Flat out truth…. who is THE Shepherd of the sheep?  Only Jesus and no other man!  Who equips us with everything good for doing His will?  Only Jesus and no other man!  Jesus is The Shepherd and The One who equips us.  We don’t need a human Pastor, in fact many times they only get in HIS way.
                    Don’t get me wrong, many times The Lord uses another Christ follower to help bring us deeper into HIS Truth and Love.  He uses sisters and brothers in the faith to teach us all the time. However, The Holy Spirit is the great teacher and His anointing will teach us all we ever need and we can find and follow HIS Spirit in and through one another.  We have a direct connection to The Lord and we can hear directly from Him.  Primary revelation comes right from the Lord with no human filter.  However, many times our sibling peers can shed light on His truth and bring us much needed secondary revelation that builds on His truth, grace, mercy and love.
                    As I have said before here… I believe in true elders in the Body of Christ.  I also know that there are those in His Body who move in The Spirit as apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor/teachers.  These gifted people are called to come alongside us and help us learn different facets of His Truth and Love, during different seasons of our lives.  No one, but Jesus is over and above us.  I also believe that EVERYONE in the Body of Christ is gifted by the Holy Spirit.  We best share these gifts with one another via deep meaningful conversation and dialogue.  Sermons and monologues are not the way that we can best learn and hear from The Christ found in one another.
                    We need one another in the Body of Christ.  We need for iron to sharpen iron.  Through ongoing conversations we help shape one another into who HE wants us to be.  I do not discount the gifts.  However, the modern traditional “church” has elevated the gifts to a place God never intended for them to be.  Man and satan want us to look UP to other “men”  Man and satan want us to place mere “men” over and above other men.  According to Jesus it is not supposed to be that way among us.  According to Jesus there is only one Leader/Teacher and we are all supposed to be equal sibling peers to one another.  When I say “men” I totally include women in all my statements because we are all equals and peers, regardless of gender, race, age, gifting or social class.
                    What a rant that was?  Just sharing what is on my heart and mind today  I deeply desire that everyone would be totally free from the shackles and bondage that dead religion brings. Freedom!   Jesus lived and died so that we could find it in this life as well as the next.  So please don’t give up until you find it in Christ and one another?
                    Love and…..
                    Kirk Out !
P.s.  That’s right, I am back posting BLOGS again.  I needed the time off to re-evaluate everything in my life and to make certain that all my priorites were as straight as they needed to be.
One of the main purposes when I began blogging was to use these writings to help address my problems with PTSD and expose them to more light, light that shines forth from HIS Body.  Due to the PTSD my life was spinning out of control.  My wife kicked me out and filed for divorce after 30 years of marriage and the violent flash backs of being sexually, emotionally, physically and verbally abused since age 4 were running wild and I had no control.
Having this BLOG gave me ONE THING in my life I could manage everyday and it really helped me.  Today I have some flashbacks, but now they are managible and fewer than ever.
In fact my whole life is blessed and managable now.  So please pray for me as I move forward with this BLOG.  I may be posting less often and relying on my wife and those I have fellowship with more.  So I am still BLOGGING, but at a different stage in my life and recovery than before.  Thanks to everyone who reads here and especially those who interact.

“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 !

P.s.  I am been praying and have decided to take the Holidays off from Blogging to focus even more on family, friends and fellowship.  However, I hope some good discussion is prompted by this current blogpost before we all tend to things we need to do this Christmas season?

 

Totally Free & Open, Spirit Led Fellowship

Greetings,

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4: 4-7

Some time ago in free and open fellowship, during prayer, The Spirit had me have this passage from Philippians ready to share.  Then not too long into the gathering a brother was sharing about how he was very anxious about a situation at his workplace.  It was the perfect opening for me to share the passage that God already led me to, and it was very well received.

Then another brother began sharing how as of late he had been drawn to the very same passage.  Another sister said that she too had been reading Philippians a lot lately.  That is what I just love about totally free & open, Spirit led fellowship.  No one planned anything or had an agenda, but The Spirit knew exactly how to lead us and all we had to do was surrender to His will.  It was amazing!  I have witnessed The Lord lead gatherings like this since 1976 and I have never once been disappointed.  God knows exactly how to lead us without the need of any liturgy, human plan, or agenda.  And the past 40 plus years I have been learning how to stay out of His way and allow Him to flow through each and every member as He sees fit.  We are not in need of any Pastor or human Leader to direct our meetings.  No, we just let go and let The Spirit of God flow as He desires in our midst.

Another thing that happened during this gathering was a brother expressing how he could not afford his blood sugar medication, so he was doing without.  Then another brother stepped right up and gave this brother all the cash that he had on him.  It was more than enough to cover the medication.  This kind of thing happens all the time in free and open fellowship. When you don’t have a Pastor or building to pay for, it totally frees up the Body to be able to give as anyone has need.  True fellowship works like a fully functioning family and NOT like a business as most “churches” do.  Love and freedom abound when they do not have to follow a planned schedule.  We simply adjust to The Spirit’s flow, instead of requiring God to follow our format and plan.  That is what works for us anyway.  Let God out of your box and He will AMAZE you!

Love and…….

Kirk Out !