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Follow Jesus, Avoid Babylon

Greetings,

“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is among you, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”  1 Peter 5: 1-3

Leadership was never supposed to be a really big deal in the Body of Christ.  In fact it is something meant to be extremely simple and easy.  Those who are older and more mature in the faith are supposed to help watch over the Body.  NOTICE… it says to the elders AMONG you.  True biblical leadership comes from those willing to be among the Body, not over or in charge of it.

Jesus is the one and only true Shepherd of His Church.  He alone is The Head and the rest of us serve as various parts of the Body.  Some in the Body are eyes and ears and it is their function to watch over the rest of the Body of Christ.  This is not complicated stuff.  God always uses those who are open and willing to serve.  When The Spirit is allowed to flow freely among the Body each part does its work without the need for titles, platforms or positions.

True elders do not serve for money or reimbursement.  They also do not serve for prestige, meaning they are not concerned about prominence and influential status or wealth.  They simply serve because they are needed and called by God to help the Body of Christ grow up into the Head, who is Christ Jesus.

True elders NEVER Lord over anyone at any time.  They understand that their calling is to be examples for the rest of the Body.  They do not use titles or seek position over others in the Body.  Because they realize that there are NO positions to be had in the true Body of Christ. They use their gifts from within the body and do not want to be elevated above their mutual sibling peers in Christ.

Healthy families listen to their older members and appreciate the wisdom that comes from having lived longer in this world.  The church in its purest form is a fully functioning healthy family consisting of co-equal brother and sister peers that are under only The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  Those more experienced in the ways of The Lord provide guidance and wisdom as The Spirit leads.  When God’s family gathers at His table for fellowship everyone sits on level ground and no “man” is elevated above the table.  I do not know of any natural families where some members sit on a platform above other family members when they gather for a meal or fellowship.  There are very few if any monologues that occur within a family.  The family norm is open dialogue and even when older siblings share their story there is always room for questions and further conversation.

I know some people think I am over simplifying the role of leadership in the Body, but I do not believe that even I can state how simple it really is.  Sure leadership is important in the Body, but it is important that we lead as Jesus would have us lead and not as the world or the traditional “Church” would. If ANY “church” has traditions, positions, Clergy, and programs that violate Christ, the Priesthood of all believers and the teachings of The Holy Spirit; we should really pray and seek God as to what our response to them should be.  Speaking for myself, I cannot serve the whore.  I was born, raised and reborn outside traditional religion and that is where I now make my bed.  When led I have warned “churches” and Clergy about the error of their ways, but from now on I will yield to The Spirit and stay outside of the traditional camp until I receive further guidance.  What should you do?  That is between God and you.  I pray you make the right decision my friends.

Love and …..

Kirk Out !

P.s. I love the people, but hate the institution of Babylon that holds them captive.

 

Hospitality and Other Gifts

Greetings,

“The end of all things is near.  Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.  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.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.  If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.  Amen.”  1 Peter 4: 7-11

How exciting?  If the end was near when Peter wrote this passage over 2000 years ago, then it is really getting even closer and closer everyday.  Talk about a perfect circle?  When I pray I become clear minded and more self-controlled.  That is why I pray immediately whenever I start having PTSD flashbacks.

As always with God, Love comes first and we need to share that love with one another.  Nothing is more important than love.  When we love we open our hearts and when we offer hospitality we open our lives and homes to one another.  Jesus wants us to be extremely close to one another.  We should be sharing our entire lives with one another.  Do you realize that the phrase “one another” appears nearly 75 times in the New Testament?

Everyone in the Body of Christ has God given gifts and we need to use them to serve others.  Does your fellowship give you opportunities to use your gifts?  The vast majority of traditional “churches” give very little opportunity for those other than The Pastor to really use their gifts.  The open and relational fellowships I partner with, always give opportunity for everyone to share and use their gifts.  If you are not being encouraged to use your gifts in your fellowship; I strongly encourage you to find fellowship elsewhere with other people.

When we do share and speak we need to make sure we are in The Spirit and not the flesh.  If we are in The Spirit it is as if we are speaking the very words of God.  God wants to move or speak through every single member when we gather.  So please make room for everyone who fellowships with you to share their diverse gifts with you?  Everyone has a portion to share in our gatherings.  When we share our gifts we need to do so with the strength God provides and not with the arm of the flesh.  Just let The Spirit flow through you and don’t try to make anything happen.  When we surrender to His leading He gets all the glory and the Body is built up in Him.

I hope this blog made sense today.  I was having some flashbacks while writing it, but I pressed on through and I hope it turned out alright.

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

 

Love and Witness

Greetings,

“Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.  And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia.  Yet we urge you brothers, to do so more and more.  Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”  1 Thessalonians 4: 8-12

Several things jump out at me from this passage.  First and foremost is that the Thessalonians were taught directly by God the ways of brotherly love.  We are talking about direct revelation here and it is very clear that they heard this from God Himself and not from a human apostle, teacher, preacher or pastor.  We can learn many things from God directly if we seek Him.  What they learned about love did not come from a bible or another human being.  I think far too often in the Body of Christ we look to and depend upon human messengers instead of looking directly to God for His voice and instructions.  The Holy Spirit is fully capable and should be our primary teacher in all things.  Wise “men” still seek Him and they do not need to wait for secondary revelation from a book or human teacher to lead them in the ways of Christ.

Secondly, how we live our lives is extremely vital to how we are received by others.  We should be hard workers that are focused on doing our best while quietly minding what we are doing.  If we stand out it should only be because of Jesus being in our lives.  We should be humble and not seek to draw attention to ourselves as we go about our daily lives.

Finally, we work and live upright lives so that we will not be dependent on anyone else.  Paul, Silas, and Timothy gave this instruction to the Thessalonians and better than that they modeled upright behavior by working hard among them laboring and toiling night and day. Paul and the guys were not dependent on salary or gifts.  No, they made their own money and did not even take anyone’s food without paying for it. I believe that being self supporting missionaries (tentmakers) is a New Testament model that all in the church should follow. Serving the church should never be about money.  More important than money is that we should all work and be active in our communities so that the witness of our simple daily lives may be seen and respected by outsiders.  Simple witness and evangelism is something that occurs most often outside of our church meetings.  If you want the Jesus in your life to impact the people God has placed in your lives then you need to live Jesus style in your workplace and community everyday.  If your only workplace is the church then I think you miss much of what following Jesus is really all about.

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

 

Massively HUGE Grace

Greetings,

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”  Colossians 2: 13-15

Wow, very heavy words!  What struck me hardest and most when reading this passage of scripture is that God made us alive with Christ even before we ever repented and believed in Him.  That just opens a huge can of theological worms, doesn’t it?  I mean while we were dead in our sins and all about our sinful nature, that is when He made us all alive and saved us.  All of this occurred before we ever confessed and asked Him into our lives.  According to this passage the cross was triumphant in our lives even before we ever acknowledged Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Can it be that we were actually saved long before we ever knew it?  How does this passage fit in with Romans 10: 9 &10?  There it says that IF we confess and believe we will be saved. However, God is not restricted by time, so maybe the order in which we confess doesn’t really matter.  I still feel that we need to acknowledge Him and the work that He accomplished for us on the cross, but it seems to me that God had us firmly planted in the palm of His hand way before we did anything on our own accord to acknowledge or receive Him.

It seems to me that grace was given and applied well before we ever even had a clue as to who Christ really was.  HIS providence was in effect even before our cooperation was ever considered.  Don’t get me wrong I still feel we need to cooperate and work out our salvation with fear (a sense of awe and wonder) and trembling, but I will also say that the Grace of our Lord is immensely deeper and wider than almost any church has presented it in all of history. My current beliefs still fall a little short of fully endorsing the idea of Universal Reconciliation, but theologically, and socially my beliefs lean further left than they ever have.  I value relationship over doctrine any day.  Is that just because I am getting old, or is it yet another renewal of my heart and mind?  Either way I still say that Christ’s Grace is massively HUGE and we are all so very, very small.

Love and……

Kirk Out !

 

Beggars and Bread

Greetings,

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.  Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  Hebrews 13: 7-8

Leadership is something that the Body of Christ needs; there is no denying that fact.  However, leadership in the Body should be totally different than leadership in the world.  Worldly leadership is about ruling OVER people from above them and giving them rules, commands and edicts.  The Jesus style of leadership is about serving others from AMONG or even underneath them.  Problem is that most all traditional/institutional “churches” don’t really follow Jesus in these matters.

Jesus humbled Himself and became a servant to all, even unto death.  Worldly leadership is about ruling and Jesus style leadership is about serving.  Believe me, leading and serving are two very different things.  Jesus never served from an elevated platform, pulpit, or throne.  Jesus even bowed down before the twelve disciples when He washed their feet.  If Jesus viewed Himself as our brother how can any of us ever say we are more than that to our peers and those we serve?

It is clear that when we lead we should do it from AMONG the Body and not from above it.  Jesus made it very clear that there is one Father (Leader) and that we are all brothers.  And brothers don’t use exalted titles when they serve either.  Servants lead by example and not mere words.  And they never use their service and gifts to leverage others into following their way.  Jesus is our greatest example of being a servant who leads.  Then came others like Paul, Peter, James and John.  It would do us all well to imitate their faith.  They did not Lord OVER people, they walked AMONG them and established relationship and dialogue with them.  They did not sermonize or give orders, no they spoke plainly and persuaded others by their actions and words.

The outcome of their way of life was most times persecution and martyrdom, but that did not stop them from living out their faith as an example to the church.  If Jesus Christ is truly the same yesterday and today and forever then His example of service and ministry is one we should still follow today.  If that is true then none of us should ever act as if we are more than a older sibling and peer to those we serve.  And we should never use a title, platform or a pulpit in our efforts to serve the Body or those yet to receive Him.  Jesus did not have many meetings, but He had a lot of meals and he always had excellent conversations with those who were seeking Him.  If you really want to reach people with His message then simply come alongside them and share your life with them from the level ground at the foot of the cross.  Only Jesus should be exalted.  So I say follow me as I follow Christ, but remember we are all on a common path to Him.  There is no special path just for Leaders.  Always remember Jesus is the one and only True Shepherd and all of the rest of us are His simple sheep.  No other human is ABOVE you!  Martin Luther said it something like this, “All we are is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”

Love and …

Kirk Out !

p.s.  When I write “brothers” I mean it in a fully inclusive way including females as Jesus did.

 

Who Calls The Shots In Your Life?

Greetings,

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  Colossians 3: 15-17

The Lord has me camped out in the book of Colossians and I am just loving it.  I have always been drawn to this particular passage because it is so rich and affirming.  Yes, we should allow the peace of Jesus to rule in our hearts. In fact “rule” in this passage means to act as an umpire; meaning that His peace should always be the deciding factor and only arbitrator in each and every decision we make.  That’s right, Jesus is the one that gets to call all the shots, be it fair or foul, ball or strike, safe or out.  We always need to surrender our will to His because He is Lord and knows what is best for us in every situation or circumstance.  Too many people that claim Jesus as their Lord still make their very own decisions where it comes to where to go to school, what career path they should pursue, who they should date, who they should marry, and countless other important choices, not to mention what type of fellowship they will become part of.

We also need to allow Jesus to live deeply within us because we need to be teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom.  Did you catch the full weight of those words?  NOTICE:  It is WE that get to teach and admonish ONE ANOTHER.  It is NOT a Pastor that is called to do this; it is EACH and EVERYONE of us.  Again, it is every member ministry and never a one man show.  Plus together we all get to sing all sorts of different songs to our Lord.  Many of the home fellowships I am involved in write their very own original songs.  We have found this extremely fun and rewarding.  There is nothing wrong with singing songs written by men dead centuries ago, but to sing fresh and relevant songs is a very tremendous blessing.

Finally, this passage closes with “WHATEVER” we do in “word or deed”, we should do it “ALL” in The Name of Jesus.  God wants your whole life and not just a portion of it.  Too many believers just give a percentage of their incomes, an hour on Wednesday night and an hour and a half on Sunday morning to God.  Jesus wants our entire being surrendered to Him, 24 hours a day and seven days a week.  I also think it is good to remember here that there are some things (sins, behaviors, habits) that can never really be done in The Name of Jesus.  We need to always be vigilant and aware of the fact that we are His ambassadors and that WHEREVER we may be; we are stepping onto His mission field.  Unbelievers, friends and family are watching every move we make and so is Jesus.  So I say bring it on and thanks be to God!

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

 

Why Do We Do What We Do?

Greetings,

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principals of this world rather than on Christ.”  Colossians 2: 8

Human traditions and worldly principals?  There we have much of the “Church” today.  Instead of depending on Christ alone; the “Church” has its multitude of traditions and it holds onto them with a kung foo death grip.

Some of these crippling traditions are as follows:

1.  Calling the bible The Word of God.  This is a tradition developed by the “Church” in the past 500 years.  It elevates the bible to a place equal or higher than The Holy Spirit and allows those who read best to manipulate and control the masses.  Please take note…the bible itself never claims that it is The Word of God and in fact it shows that Jesus Himself is The Word.  Anyone who says we are to be bible led, denies the rightful place of The Spirit in our lives.  The bible does indeed contain words of God, but in itself it is not The Word of God.  The Bible was never meant to be a rule book that is used to dominate others.

2.  Calling the building where we meet The Church.  The whole idea that we can GO to Church is a terrible tradition.  The Church is comprised of the people who follow Christ.  This Church is the people and NEVER the building where they happen to meet.  Don’t Go To Church, BE The Church!

3.  Tithing is a terrible tradition.  It was a requirement in the Old Covenant, but is no longer in Christ.  Now it is done only as a tradition.  It was used to support the Levitical Priesthood, but now in the New Covenant we are all Priests.  Sure we should be cheerful givers, but to widows and orphans and such and not to Clergy and building programs.

4.  Another crippling tradition says that leadership is male.  This fallacy places men over women and denies females of their God given places in the Body of Christ.  It is supposed to be The Priesthood of ALL Believers and not just males.  We are all supposed to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

5.  Any tradition such as The Clergy/Laity division that allows for any hierarchy within the church comes exclusively from the teachings of men and Not God.  In Christ we all will have times when we take the lead in fellowship as The Spirit leads us.  There is not a separate class of Christ followers that are OVER all other followers of Jesus.  Yes, I rail against this one a lot.

6.  The most recent tradition of “men” that has plagued the Church is the corporate business model of doing “church”.  In this model The Pastor is the CEO of the church and he has a board of other “leaders” and together they control the church.  The motivating factor of this tradition is money and we all know that whoever controls the money also controls the vision of the “church”.

There are certainly other traditions of “men” that limit the effectiveness of the Church, but I will stop here for now.  I will say this though….ANYTHING that would have us depend on something other than Jesus is faulty and wrong.  Too many churches are more about building projects and storing up treasures here on earth than they are about being true to the message of Jesus.  He wants all of us to be renewed and turned away from the things of earth, so that we can instead follow Him rather than the traditions of “men”.  Traditions serve only themselves; we are to love and serve people.  Relationships matter way more than ANY tradition.   I do not do anything for the sake of tradition.  I do what I do because Christ leads me to; and if He does it more than just once that is great too.

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

P.s.  In fact scripture actually says that traditions nullify The Word of God.  They really makes Jesus and all HE has done ineffective in our lives and churches.