“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” Romans 16: 17-20
Pretty straightforward warning from Paul there. Divisions and obstacles need to be avoided or they can shipwreck our faith in a hurry. Sure there are other divisions, but the biggest division that I see in the Body of Christ is that between Clergy and laity or Leaders and followers. It is an obstacle and division because it creates the myth that some Christians are leaders and others can’t lead. This division stifles the Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ by denying every member ministry and instead it elevates one person or a select few over the rest of the congregation. Then instead of the Body being living and active, it becomes dead-like and passive. The Church should never be about a few participants and many spectators. No EVERYONE is supposed to be a vibrant participant with much to share with the rest of the Body. When the Church is allowing and empowering every member to be Spiritual givers and not mere takers….She shines!
Who is misleading the Church these days? Most denominations (The very word denomination means division) and independent “churches” uphold the Clergy/Laity division and the notion that some Christians are special and to be revered over and above other followers of Christ. Sure most denominations and independents give lip service to the Priesthood of all Believers, but the problem is that they do not make it their practice in everyday church-life. Other than that it is impossible to turn on the television and find a TV preacher that doesn’t line their own pockets with cash smooth-talked and manipulated away from the innocent. Just a few years ago The Trinity Broadcasting Network, the largest “christian” network, had come under fire because the founders very own grand daughter had come forward to say that they had misappropriated MILLIONS of dollars from the ministry to feed the founders appetite for more luxury cars, jet airplanes, mansions and mammon in general. Aside from the money problem much of the theology of most TV preachers is just whacked. The whole prosperity doctrine and Seed Faith movement is just so very, very wrong. I totally believe in prayer and healing, but not the kind that apparently says that God can be manipulated with money.
The whole being wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil is just excellent. The best way to be innocent about anything is to not even be exposed to it in the first place. When they train U.S. Treasury agents, the agents only work with real money. They get to know real currency so well, that when they come across counterfeit bills later they almost automatically know them to be fake. It seems that God wants the very same from us where it comes to good and evil. It is all about knowing the good so well and intimately that when we come across the evil we will know it right away. BIG EVIL is easy to spot. It is the little evil things that tend to trip us up in this life.
I really like the last verses in this passage. It is great to know that God will soon crush satan and somehow it will be with peace and right under our very own feet. To me this means to hold on because it won’t be very long until God helps you through any difficult situation that you can face or even imagine. Because the awesome Grace of Jesus is with us.
Kirk Out !
“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyones food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’” 2 Thessalonians 3: 6-10
This passage says a whole lot about being a true leader in the Body of Christ. It tells me that for the sake of the Gospel even Paul thought it was vital to work hard with his own hands among (and not over) the people rather than taking any pay for his ministry. Paul thought that being a role model and an example was far better than taking any right of pay or compensation. In fact in First Corinthians chapter 9 verse 12 Paul says flat out that taking pay for ministry actually “hinders” The Gospel of Christ.
“Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it.” 1 Corinthians 9: 16-18
The example that Paul gave us makes it quite clear that being paid salary in any way for ministry is dead wrong and in fact hinders the gospel. According to these passages there should be no such thing as paid ministers in the Body of Christ. The Gospel was always intended to be made available totally free of charge or fee. Paul worked hard with his own hands to support himself when he was not in chains. In fact he even paid for all of his own food when he visited a community for any length of time.
Jesus never asked for pay either when he ministered. In fact the only recorded time that Jesus passed an offering plate it had food for others on it and it was NOT for the purpose of collecting money for ministry or anything else. Walking the walk and being an example and a role model is far more important than taking any right of pay for ministry or service.
For these reasons I am a tent making addictions counselor by trade and I never take ANY pay for ministering the Gospel to others. This is the example that Jesus and Paul gave us in the New Testament and I want to follow their lead in these and all other matters. Taking all this under consideration I really do not understand why any Pastors or church Leaders can accept pay of any kind for ministering the gospel. I do not want to put myself in any situation where my sincerity can be brought into question because of money issues. Truth and Love are always supposed to be offered totally free of charge.
Kirk Out !
“Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant- not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the Letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3: 4-6
As I see it our competence comes directly and completely from God alone via The Holy Spirit. It does not come from extensive study, skill, or knowledge of the bible and it definitely does not come from position or title. In these matters our hearts are much more important than our heads. He who studies the most does not win in matters of relational ministry and gifting. No, what really matters is how much we surrender our hearts and very beings unto Christ. It is not about being smart or intelligent, it is about being teachable, humble and gentle in heart.
We are ALL called to be ministers of The Spirit and NOT the Letter. We are also called to the ministry of reconciliation and that requires relationship…which is empty without the Holy Spirit. Being in The Spirit is much more important and vital than how much of the Letter we can jam and cram into our brains; or throw at others who may be seeking Christ. In society today and in the “Church” at large knowledge is exalted and desired, but God always looks at the state of our hearts. It is not about what you know, it is about WHO you know and to what extent you allow Jesus to flood and overtake your whole life and entire being with His Supernatural Truth in Love. When I share Jesus with people I want to share love, life and liberty. So I share as His Spirit leads me with gentleness and compassion. I do not want to share the Letter with others, because that only kills and brings Spiritual death.
The Letter of The Law means death and destruction. When I share the truth in love I want to be Spirit led even in the scriptures that Jesus may desire me to use. It is entirely possible to memorize thousands of verses and still not truly know what they really mean or how Christ can set someone free. There is always great tension where it comes to The Spirit verses the Letter and we need to be very discerning or we can lead others away from Jesus rather than to Him. Doesn’t that just describe much of the modern “Church”? Knowledge puffs up, the Letter kills, but The Spirit always gives life.
Love and ….
Kirk Out !
“Jesus looked at them and said, with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”…………Matthew 19: 26
In totally open and free, Spirit led home fellowship this past weekend we read through the entire fifth chapter of The Gospel of John. (Yes, we use our bibles all the time, contrary to popular belief) Every person there had something very valuable to share that helped the entire passage come alive to all of us. What struck me most was how Jesus asked people to do the impossible all of the time. In John 5: 8 Jesus told an invalid to “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Jesus simply asked this man to do what he could not do and when the man responded he could walk without further difficulty.
There are quite a few other instances of Jesus asking the impossible of people in the New Testament. Like when He told the man with the withered arm to stretch out his arm and when He told Peter to “come” walk on the water with Him. Friends, If your arm is withered you cannot stretch it out and no man can walk on water. However, when Jesus told them to do these impossible things they could do them every single time.
If this is true then why do we always seem to doubt when Jesus seems to be calling for us to do the impossible? Speaking for myself I think it is because I lack FAITH at times. Sometimes I get so engrossed and wrapped up in the FACT of the obstacle, that I am facing, that I fail to have the faith necessary for Him to move it out of my way,… so that I can then proceed to the places He has already pre-ordained me to be victorious.
The fact that I had PTSD hindered my walk for 17 years, but now I have the faith to overcome it. Staying in the fact of my situation and diagnosis robbed me, my family and our fellowships of many blessings, and in the end it cost me my marriage. But now forgetting what is behind I strain forward towards what is ahead for me in Christ Jesus. I now have tremendous renewed faith and hope again because of the ministry of Jesus, the Body of Christ and the tools I have gained from EMDR and other effective counseling.
“We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5: 7) I no longer live by only what my human eyes can see. Now, once again I live by faith in Christ and that is making all the difference in the world for me and those I love. And even if you do happen to lack faith all you have to do is ask Jesus and He will give it to you when the time is perfect. I now am facing all of my obstacles head on and with His help I am moving through them, instead of trying to go over, under, or around them. Avoiding them is no longer an option for me. No matter what impossible odds you may be facing, Jesus can get you through them to the freedom that is found on the other side. Now with Christ I am doing the impossible every day and so can all of you!
Kirk Out !
P.s. These past several days Jesus has been freeing me up emotionally. This is allowing me to give and experience intimacy in ways I haven’t been able to in years. Please pray for Janet and I as we move forward together in our relationship? I feel we really turned a big corner this weekend and we are both looking forward to great things in our future.
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5: 16-25
This passage of the bible is packed full of excellent encouragement, but I am only going to focus on a few things here today. Right away I want to point out that it says “LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” NOTICE: It does not say live by The BIBLE! People have been trying to live by the bible for many centuries and it has not produced the kind of fruit that is overcoming and beneficial. “Churches” and entire denominations have made the bible their sole foundation and rule of life, yet they still fall short of becoming what GOD has desired them to be. “Because those who are led by The Spirit of God are the children of God.” (Romans 8:14) I am not saying that the bible is not important in the life of a believer, but I am saying that we need The Holy Spirit to guide us in how we use the bible and find out what it really means. Take the bible away from someone led by The Spirit and The Spirit will still find a way to teach and lead that person just like HE led the early church into all truth many years before they even had bibles. But in turn trying to use the bible without the Spirit’s leading and all you end up with is legalism, dead letter, intellect, and Spiritual death. No wonder that there are so many dead churches out there today. The pews and seats may be full, but there is no real Spiritual life.
I say it is best to live by The Spirit and keep in step with The Spirit, using the bible as HE sees fits along the way in this life. Being Spirit filled is not something I take for granted. I try to surrender each moment to The Lord and to be in HIS flow as much as humanly possible. Having said that I also am led to read and study the bible on most days. I live in the best case scenario: led by The Spirit, but having free access to my bible at any time. Take my bible away from me and I will likely miss it, but The Spirit will compensate for my loss. However, if The Spirit is somehow taken away from me the bible could in no way compensate for that loss. But I know by His seal and promise that The Spirit will not ever leave me. I hope I have been clear in this matter. This is a difficult discussion to navigate and most people judge and react harshly even before they hear each others explanation and story. I am not anti-bible, but I am pro-Spirit.
Kirk Out !
“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” He said. “The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1: 14-15
In the scriptures we find that the very first message that Jesus ever shared publically was some form of “Repent and believe!” To this He added the Kingdom of God is near. To me this means that repentance is a very important core component of our long and short term Spiritual journey. Sure some press this point until it becomes some warped form of perpetual self abasement, but to me the message of Jesus is simple….Turn around! When you are going in the wrong direction in life simply turn and face Jesus again. In my life I have had numerous times when God needed to turn me around and set me in the right direction again. Just what do we need to turn away from? The world system of doing things, which includes religion, divisions, and every form of selfishness and idolatry. We always need to move from man-centric to God-centric. When I am going the way of the world I really want and need for Jesus to just turn me around. And guess what? HE does! When I cooperate with Him in full.
Next we need to believe in Him. Not in some wishy washy way either. No, HE wants us to trust in, cling to, and rely on Him. HE wants for us to surrender our entire being to Him; No rationalization, no bargaining, and no treaties. In other words HE gets all of us with no holding back ANY portion. Without this type of complete belief in our lives we will always be tossed back and forth by the wind and waves that the enemy and life in general throws at us. I am talking totally unconditional surrender. He will take us just as we are, as long as we are willing to BE just who He wants us to BE in the moments, days and years to come.
The message Jesus brought had supreme balance. He said, “Repent and believe!” Problem is that most “churches” out there preach either REPENT, REPENT, REPENT, WORKS, WORKS, WORKS or BELIEVE, BELIEVE, BELIEVE, GRACE, GRACE, GRACE! His Truth in Love is found in the balance and that is exactly where we need to be living each and every day of our lives.
Now concerning the Kingdom of God being near… I know that there are tons of different beliefs out there that try to describe what The Kingdom of God is. The book shelves are full up where it comes to this topic. My slant on this is extremely simple… When The King is near His Kingdom is never far off. Where The King is, His Kingdom is there with Him. Follow Christ alone and you will find The Kingdom of God, both now and until the very end of all days.
Love and ……