“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,…” Philippians 3: 20
As I sit here and write this blog the fourth of July is nearly upon us here in the USA. July 4th is the day Americans celebrate the signing of the declaration that led to our independence from England. This is the day we watch or march in parades, salute the American flag, and enjoy massive, expensive fireworks displays.
To be totally honest I am not much of a patriot and never have been. Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful for the freedoms we enjoy here in the USA and I appreciate those who have died defending our country. Heck, when I was young I even served in the US army and received an honorable discharge. I have never been big on guns, but in basic training I was rated as an expert with the M-16 and was the top marksman in our company. However, my favorite memory of training at Fort Knox was that they were filming the movie comedy “Stripes” with Bill Murray while I was there. Our unit even got to march in the background in several scenes. That is as close as I ever got to being a movie star.
Back on topic…like I said I am not a patriot. In fact I feel that much of what we call patriotism borders on idolatry, especially in the USA. To many the love of country ranks equal or above the love of God. In many “churches” the love of country is completely intertwined with the love of God to the point it is nearly impossible to separate the two.
I am not anti-America, but I do claim that my sole citizenship is in heaven and not the USA. Because of this I personally refuse to say the pledge of allegiance to the US flag. I even hate to stand up when someone sings our national anthem. I refuse to find fault with those who do, but I do not understand the practice. My sole allegiance is to Jesus and I love and serve only Him and not a flag or a country.
I just feel that Jesus needs to be first and foremost in our lives. Plus the USA, in my opinion, is not the totally bright and righteous place that many claim it is. Our government and military has raped, killed, pillaged and burned with the worst of them. And I refuse to celebrate that fact. No country is God’s country, because the Lord does not play favorites. To somehow think that God is always on the side of the USA and that we are endorsed by Him to police and rule the rest of the world is just plain wrong and sinful. The USA is not now and has never been a “Christian” nation. We need to love, honor and serve Jesus and sometimes our country gets directly in the way of that. Anyway, those are my thoughts on Independence day.
Kirk Out !
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father’, for you have one Father, and He is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher’, for you have one Teacher, The Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23: 8-12
Jesus spells it out with extreme clarity that no one should have a position or title that places them over and above other followers of Christ. The simple fact is, that in Christ, we are all equal sibling peers and we should honor Him and one another by living and acting that way whenever we interact and share. There should never be such a system in place that ranks some believers above other believers. We should call no one Pastor, Teacher or Leader. It is also true that we should not treat anyone with more respect and honor than others. Even if we do not use titles or positions we should always remember that we are all sisters and brothers and that “favoritism is forbidden” in the Body of Christ.
Jesus made it abundantly clear that only God Himself is to be followed and revered. We have been freely given The Holy Spirit to guide and lead us into ALL truth, and we do not need that ANY human teach us the ways of God and the Spirit. We have all been given the anointing of the Spirit and all we need is Jesus and no other “man’s” teaching to be fully equipped for any and every good work. (1 John 2)
HIS anointing flows through all of His followers and as peers in Christ He can speak through each one of us in turn in order to get His message out to the Body of Christ and the world. No person should ever be elevated to a status over and above being our mutual peer in Christ. Along the way He will speak through various members of His Body and we can all learn the truth in love from one another as the Spirit leads and HE sees fit.
Any church system that uses a hierarchy and places some over and above others is antichrist. Because that system goes totally against what Jesus taught. According to Jesus we are all equal sibling peers, sisters and brothers under only Christ and NO other including Pastor, Elder, Apostle, Reverend or Pope. If we say we are followers of Jesus then we should really truly BE followers of Jesus alone and absolutely no one else.
Love and …..
Kirk Out !
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5: 21
“”Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.” Isaiah 1: 18
This past weekend I had the honor and pleasure of being a participant in this years Searching Together event. We gathered Thursday through Sunday just West of Chicago Illinois at a venue that provided us an opportunity for a true communal living experience in beautiful guest apartments with three bedrooms each. We met together under the Headship of Christ and the leading of the Holy Spirit. We broke bread together with glad and sincere hearts and all of our times of fellowship were extremely sweet and profitable. Everything we did we did together including making necessary decisions by consensus as a true ekklesia always should. We cooked, shopped, ate, cleaned, openly shared, discussed and sang together as one Body in Christ.
This year’s gathering like last years was intentionally more open and conversational than previous events. Instead of having 40 minute teachings followed by 40 minutes of questions and interaction, every session was allowed to be totally free, open and interactive from the start. Our focus was on dialogue rather than monologue and Spirit led interruption was welcomed and encouraged.
In a word it was WONDERFUL. It was perhaps the best national gathering (We had folks there from coast to coast) I have participated in since 1996 at Potato Creek Indiana. We were encouraged and allowed to have totally open and free, Spirit led fellowship without the hint of any hierarchy, manipulation or human control. The flow of the Holy Spirit was very rich and deep and everyone got to share their portion of truth in love with the entire group. Plus believe it or not we did not experience even one moment of contention or sharp disagreement.
We were small in number, but mighty in Spirit. There were folks there from Washington, Utah, Arizona, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Connecticut. One couple was brand new into relational, organic, simple, house church and had many questions for those of us who left institutional, traditional religion, behind us many, many years ago. When you church relationally no question is ever off limits. That type of freedom to sincerely question anything and everything is one of the many marvelous benefits of totally free and open fellowship.
As we took turns sharing we simply submitted to the Christ in one another and the overwhelming fruit was sincere love. In prayer, song and word we lifted our voices and Jesus met us there in a deep and substantial way. I have been gathering and interacting in this free and open manner since 1976, and not once have I been disappointed. When you put away all agendas and yield to the Spirit’s leading and teaching through each member of the Body the Truth in Love just flows to the benefit of all involved.
At this simple gathering my relationship with Jesus grew deeper, as did my relationships with the other participants. Wow, it is a true blessing to be honestly able to say “participants” instead of mere attendees. Special thanks to Jon, Dotty and all the others that worked to help this event happen. I am really looking forward to 2016. Those folks are more than friends…they are family!
Kirk Out !
p.s. On my drive home from Chicago I stopped for coffee and had a meaningful conversation with the man sitting at the table beside me. Warren asked me where I was coming from and I told him, “a fellowship gathering” near Chicago. He then asked if it was a “Church conference”? I told him, “Not really” and explained to him the nature of the “Searching Together” events and he seemed quite interested and loved the concept of a totally open and free Jesus gathering where no “man” or Pastor was needed or wanted to lead such a thing. We must have spoken for over 20 minutes and then he asked me if I would pray FOR him to be able to find the type of authentic fellowship we had been discussing. I told Warren that I would pray WITH him and he agreed and we prayed right there in the middle of that toll road Starbucks. Please pray for him? I left him my contact information and hope to hear back from him soon. He lives in Toledo Ohio about 1.75 hours from here.
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16: 12-13
There we have it! The definitive word, right from the mouth of Jesus Himself…. It is The Holy Spirit that guides and leads us into ALL TRUTH. This is why I say and stress that we must be Spirit led and NOT bible led. Taking these words of Jesus into full account and consideration how can anyone say anything different?
The Spirit of Truth is above the bible there is just no other way around that truth. Now when the Spirit is leading us into this truth, the place He leads us perhaps most often is the bible. The Spirit can and does lead us in the scriptures and that is as it should be. However, the bible does not always lead us back to the truth of The Spirit. Because without The Spirit’s illumination the bible is nothing more than dead letter. “For the Letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” The vast majority of traditional/institutional “churches” out there claim that the bible is their final or sole authority in matters of faith and practice. Yet they deny, in practice, the Priesthood of all believers and settle most often for the Priesthood of one “man” in their congregations that they call their Pastor. Plus they deny many if not most of the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives individuals in the Body of Christ. When they limit or deny the Holy Spirit’s empowerments like that they can always back it up with their version and interpretation of scripture. Jesus came so that we could be free in the Spirit and led by Him and no longer be in bondage to the written word and Law. Being bible led places limits on the Holy Spirit’s leading and in fact denies us of the full and free Gospel of Truth that is abundantly found in the Spirit of Christ alone.
This brings us to one very great and important question….. Would the Spirit ever tell us to do something that goes directly against Scripture? Please step back, say a prayer, and ponder that for a minute? The answer is YES He can and does at times. Now, read Acts chapter 10 verses 9-16. In that passage the Lord directly tells Peter three times to kill and eat what scripture had previously called unclean. Peter was told in no uncertain terms to violate what was written in the scriptures.
So I choose to yield and submit to The Spirit’s leading in all things, biblical or otherwise. At least I do on good days. More human words here will not prove this case any better than what Jesus, Himself, has said about this matter. God, The Father, The Son Jesus, and The Spirit reign supreme. I refuse to follow or bow down to anything or anyone less than God Himself. I will choose direct revelation from The Spirit over and above secondary revelation from a book about Him on any day.
Love and …..
Kirk Out !
p.s. Thursday June 25th thru Sunday June 28th I will be West of Chicago participating in a gathering of believers called “Searching Together”. This will be my third consecutive time at this annual event and yes I am bringing my guitar. My laptop is not currently working so my time online will likely be very limited. I don’t expect to blog again until after I return home, as I will be focusing on face to face and heart to heart fellowship. As always I appreciate that you choose to read and participate in this wild and crazy blog. Thanks also for your prayers as I travel and share.
“…because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” Romans 8: 14-17
Here it is again…… “..those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Please notice again that we are supposed to be Spirit led and NOT bible led. If someone is bible led it does not necessarily mean that they are a son of God, but if they are Spirit led they are a son of God. It does not get much clearer than that folks. Once again I am not saying that the bible is not important in the life of a Christ follower. In fact the place that the Spirit leads us most often to for truth and confirmation is the bible. However, being Spirit led is not limited to the bible; but being bible led leads to many limitations.
Another thing…. I was just reading Revelation and in chapters two and three we find messages to the seven churches and each message concludes with,,, “Let him who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” The Greek word used for “hear” is a form of akouomai, from which we get the English word acoustic and it means exactly what it says…to hear or recognize. If we really want to know what God is saying to the church we need to listen to, and follow, the Spirit; NOT the bible. Don’t throw your bible away, but only use it when the Spirit leads you to.
Finally Jesus said in John Chapter 10 that His sheep hear His voice and obey. So where it comes to following Jesus and The Spirit we need to listen for and hear His voice. It does not say to look at and read the bible. True Christ followers listen for His voice instead of always trying to make the bible The Sole Authority. Of course when we do read the bible we can also hear His voice there quite often, but always remember that His voice is always more important than what is printed on the page. Right now some folks are shaking their heads and pulling out their hair because of what I have written here. I will say this right out loud now…. sola scriptura is a lie. The bible is not the know all and end all of the faith. I am surely glad to have the bible as a most excellent resource in my life, but I refuse to elevate it to near Godhood. I know this is a difficult saying, but what I am sharing is the Truth in Love, even according to the bible. Listen for His voice? The Spirit of Christ will surely guide you into ALL Truth!
Love and …..
Kirk Out !
“Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.” Ephesians 6: 19
Many people have recently asked me why I have so much success in leading people to Jesus. They wanted to know if I had a rehearsed plan or spiel, like the “Roman’s road or The Four Spiritual Laws”, that I used to get folks to “buy in” to Jesus. I can honestly say that I have no advance plan, agenda, script or formula that I follow in sharing Christ with others. My sharing with them is always entirely spontaneous and Spirit led, moment by moment.
What I say to people can be a mixture of my personal testimony, actual words of Jesus, or other pertinent passages from the bible. I always try to speak from the heart, not from a script. I seriously doubt if I have ever used the same exact wording with more than one person. I feel the main reason I easily connect with others is because I am authentic, real and genuine. With me what you see is exactly what you get with absolutely no guile or pretense. (But even I have bad days) I sincerely love all people and it shows and that draws people to me I am certain. I view all people as precious and valuable to God and potential members of my Spiritual family. I see the spark of HIS Creation in everyone’s life and only want to offer them a full and rewarding relationship with Jesus and The Body Of Christ.
Another reason I have been able to impact lives with the Love and acceptance of Christ is that I pray continually for Jesus to prepare the hearts and minds of the people He is going to put me in direct contact with. I also pray and submit my will to Him asking that He continually prepare my heart, mind and message; so that I can always be ready for those He sends my way on a given day. This is not rocket science. I purposely and intentionally make myself available to Him and others. When I do this He fully equips me and makes me more than able to share the Truth in Love with whosoever will. You see it really is ALL about Him and not about me.
I hope you can now see how simple sharing Christ can be? It doesn’t take smarts and extreme biblical knowledge. All it takes is an open heart and complete surrender to the pathway He picks for you. Along the way on that path you will encounter those who need His Love, Grace, Mercy and Truth. Then in the proper moment simply open your mouth and allow Him to speak His words through you. It is all about simple conversations, real give and take dialogue. Worked for Jesus, worked for Paul and it still works for me. “Perfect Love casts out all fear.” Trust Jesus to use you in this manner also, and then prepare to be amazed.
Kirk Out !
Normally I would open here with a bible passage. However, I can’t today because just about a half hour ago I gave away my last bible. Now I won’t be able to afford one until I get paid next week. I could go online and find a passage, but I just don’t have that much time right now. If I could quote a passage here it would be the Gospel of John, the first half of chapter two.
I am just home from eating an early dinner at Applebee’s. The restaurant was crowded so I sat at the bar to eat. When the bartender asked how I was doing, I said overflowing with the Joy of the Lord. She was a bit taken aback by my response, so then I added ….Jesus just makes me feel good about life. Then she smiled at me and said, “I wish I could feel good about life too.” I responded with….. Jesus can do that for you…can we talk?
For the next 45 minutes we had an awesome conversation as she worked. I shared the words of Jesus with Kristen, words of truth, love, grace and life. She wondered if Jesus could ever really love or understand someone who serves alcohol for a living. It was then that I told her that the very first miracle Jesus ever performed was turning water into wine at a wedding banquet. That simple fact nearly blew Kristen’s mind.
Next she told me that “Christians” have never treated her well. That when they come there to eat after their “church” services they are rude and rarely ever tip well. Kristen said that she had tried going to several churches over the years, but always left the building feeling judged and condemned instead of loved and comforted. Right then I shocked her when I explained that I did not go to church, as she understands it, that I simply met with other followers of Jesus in homes.
I went on to say that in home fellowship we had open and free, Spirit led conversations where everyone gets to share, rather than sermons given by one “man” in charge called Pastor. She wanted to know more about what happens when we meet so I told her that we would pray, sing, share testimonies and read the bible together in no particular set order. I said it was a family gathering where we ate and shared our hearts with one another in celebration of Jesus. At which she exclaimed, “I would just love that!”
Next our conversation turned directly towards her and Jesus. I asked her if she wanted Jesus in her life. She said yes, but that she had so much to change in her life before Jesus would ever accept her. I said the good news was that Jesus accepts everyone right where they are in life. She said, but what about all my sins, poor judgment and foul behavior? I told her that Jesus accepts her just the way she is and that in time if her behavior needed changes Jesus would help her with that all the way, no matter what! I said we don’t change in order to be saved, but rather freely receive salvation in order that Jesus can make changes for and in us. I told Kristen that everything begins and ends with relationship with God via Jesus Christ. After that we prayed together and she laid her burdens down at the foot of the cross.
My heart is simply overflowing with His love. I cannot restrain or contain it. It is a little scary because it seems so out of control, but I can’t deny it. I am so in love with Jesus and the Spirit has anointed me to share the Good News. I do not know how long this season will last in my life, but I am just holding on to Him for dear life as He races before me preparing hearts to receive His love, truth, mercy and grace. I mean this is so unbelievable and wild…every time I buy another bible He has me give it away within a week. I guess all those people who accuse me of not valuing the bible and using it incorrectly need to just back off and shut up. Jesus and His words are just so alive and real to me right now. I am nothing, Christ is ALL! Please pray for Kristen?
Love and ….
Kirk Out !
P.s. That wonderful conversation occurred almost two ago. I tried to stay in contact with Kristen, but when I went to check on her at Applebee’s the manager informed me that she had transferred to another location. The Lord has led me to pray for Kristen many times since our conversation, but I had no idea where she was or how she was doing. Well, she called me this last July and told me she was now located in Indianapolis. She said she is still following Jesus and that HE has been teaching her and setting her free in every area of her life. Kristen now has half a dozen friends that also follow Christ and they get together to share, eat and pray often. Two of her friends she actually led to Jesus when she shared her personal testimony during a conversation over a meal. She tried going to a “church” building again, but being there just made her feel “yucky” in her Spirit, so she has not gone back. She thanked me for sharing Jesus with her in August 2013 and also for giving her my bible. I encouraged her to continue in simple fellowship with her friends under the Headship of Christ alone. She told me she would stay in touch and I told her that she was loved and appreciated. Kristen called again about 2 weeks ago and said that Jesus and the Body of Christ were becoming more and more real to her every single day. We both laughed when she told me that now Jesus has her giving away her bibles too. Then she invited me down to Indy for fellowship whenever I could make it there. I told her that sounded awesome. She then suggested that we end our conversation in prayer and let me tell you that was some GREAT prayer. Seems that in Kristen’s very first year of following Christ she started a fellowship in her home and led others to Jesus. Now do you see what I am talking about in this blog? It does not take special schools, education, titles or training to plant a simple church. It doesn’t even take that much time. All it takes is a willing heart and an openness to the things of the Spirit.
I am overwhelmed by HIS Grace, Mercy and Love once again. Simple, Spirit led conversations lead to such wonderful fruit. At least a dozen more more have come to Jesus that way since August 2013 and I don’t see this current pathway ending any time soon for me. Share the simplicity of Jesus along the way instead of weighty Law and doctrine, and everybody wins.