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 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 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, blemishes and all. I desire reality, true fellowship, and not fake behavior all the time.
Kirk Out !
P.s. All the stuff in my old apartment has now been moved into our new townhouse. However, sorting and unpacking may take quite a while. I definitely pulled something in my stomach/side during the move. The new place looks great and is liveable, except for the massive pile of stuff in the dining room. As they say, “slow and steady wins the race”. Thanks to everyone who prayed for us during the big move.
Many of you already know this, but for those of you who didn’t…. My 15 year old daughter Lydia decided to stay here with me, her family, friends and school instead of moving to California with her Mom who is going to move in with her boyfriend this fall. I am overjoyed at her decision, as are her siblings and friends.
However, we needed to find a two bedroom apartment a.s.a.p. It just so happened (I feel it is a God thing) that a 2 bedroom townhouse with basement became available in the same complex I live in now. Plus the rent is very affordable. So today, the hottest, most humid day of the year, we moved all the big stuff and much of the small stuff, one block down the street. I have until THursday night to finish moving and have my old apartment all cleaned out. That means I still need to pack and move the kitchen, clear out 2 closets and empty the medicine cabinet.
Doing all that on top of running the booming asphalt sealing business that my son Caleb and I recently started will be a real chore. So blogging will likely be on the back burner for several days. We also would surely appreciate your prayers as we have to deal with the first disgruntled client I have ever had in over 40 years of serving the public. WE did great work for her at a fair price, but she refused to pay because some overspray got on some of her plants that closely hugged the driveway. The sealer we use is very friendly for the environment and won’t kill the plants. Quite frankly such overspray is unavoidable and minimal. I hope to reason with her and gain her favor tomorrow afternoon.
THis short post now has you up to speed concerning the KIrk family. Once again your prayers are deeply appreciated.
KIrk Out !
P.s. I am VERY stiff and sore after the big move.
“……The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5: 6
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 !
“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 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 serve others as well as He did.
We need to 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 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 !
“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) judgement.” (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 judgement 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.
Kirk Out !
“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 !
“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 thirty-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 35 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 !
p.s. Right now I am extremely busy starting a new business with my son and navigating some difficult family issues. Because of this I may need to blog less often. If anyone wants details so they can pray effectively please send me a private message?