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The Absolute Number One Priority Of The Church?

Greetings,

“…. And now I will show you the most excellent way.  13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”              First Corinthians 13

Last week when I was driving home I was flipping through radio stations and landed on a John MacArthur program.  He is a famous preacher and he and the announcer were discussing the “absolute number one priority of the Church”.  Their claim was that the “teaching and preaching of the Word Of God” took total preeminence over anything else that the Church ever does.  As they were discussing this topic I felt very grieved in the Spirit and my heart was greatly saddened.

In that moment three things struck me pretty hard as to why what they asserted was such a lie from the enemy.  Since that moment I have prayed and sincerely pondered the magnitude of their complete lie and this is what was revealed to me.

Number one….  They perpetuated the myth that the bible is “the Word of God”.  The bible is a great book and I believe it to be God inspired and extremely beneficial to the life of every follower of Christ.  However, the bible NEVER, EVER claims to be “The Word of God.”  In fact the bible clearly states that Jesus is The Word of God and not a mere book about God and HIS will and ways.

Number two….  To elevate the “teaching and preaching” of the book to the very first priority of the Church places the Clergy ( Pastors, Preachers and Teachers) on the highest possible pedestal; totally re-enforcing that there is a human hierarchy and spiritual caste system in the Church.  It destroys the concept of true unity among all believers and the fact that we are ALL equal peer siblings in the Body of Christ.  And in a very real way it affirms that those who deliver the message in Church are equal to or greater than even Jesus.  Think about it?  If their job is delivering the utmost important thing it by default makes them, and not Christ, the most important person in the Church.  Yikes!  No, make that major Yikes!  We in the simple, organic, home church crowd try to avoid this problem altogether by having free flowing conversations rather than sermons and monologue.

Number three….  The flat out truth in love is that neither preaching, teaching or the bible are God’s priority.  Because LOVE and LOVE alone is the greatest and most excellent way.  The number one call of the Church is to LOVE God and LOVE one another and one another includes the “least of these” whoever they may be.  In the end only three things remain…FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE, but the GREATEST of these is LOVE.  Giving ANYONE ANYTHING LESS THAN LOVE falls WAY short of God’s plan for us.  We are to always walk in LOVE and to LOVE is THE Greatest command that The Lord has ever given us and ever will.  Yes, I am very passionate about this and I often fall short of loving others as I should; but that does not negate this message.  If the Church at large fails at love is it really HIS Church to begin with?  THE ONE thing we utterly need to get right is loving others.  Love opens the door to all the other things we can do or say to help others in their state of need. Evangelism, teaching, equipping, and healing can NEVER truly happen if we don’t lead with LOVE.  I need to end now and get on my face before Jesus.  For I cannot escape the conviction this has brought to my heart and mind.

Love and….

Kirk Out !

 

 

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Little Children

Greetings,

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  He called a little child and had him stand among them.  And he said:”I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 18: 1-4

Last weekend I thought a lot about my children and children in general.  I am glad to report that all four of my children love Jesus and serve Him outside of traditional religion.  Many of the questions I am asked about relational churching have to do with what we do FOR the children.  My answer is we do everything WITH the children.  Because in relational HC children are full fledged members and participants from the very beginning.  Relational churchers serve one another and are expected to interact WITH one another.  In relational church we do not wait for Clergy to DO something FOR us.  No, we step right out and do things together in His Name.

Like I said all my children, ages 33, 29, 23 and 18, love and serve Christ today.  They were raised in relational fellowship and were never Sunday schooled or youth grouped at all.  They grew up in totally open and free, Spirit led fellowship without a Pastor or any traditional/institutional trappings or programs.  And I sincerely believe that they are better off because of it.  We never segregated our gatherings by age, gender or anything.  When they were very young they played at our feet and as they grew older they participated as they were able in music, singing, praying and sharing.

I fondly recall when Caleb (Now 23) was like 9 years old and he shared at some length about Cain and Abel, and his sharing inspired the rest of us to reexamine what we viewed as acceptable sacrifice unto God.  Over the years I have witnessed many children share wonderful insights and major prayer requests.  When younger folks are encouraged to share in fellowship it is amazing how much truth and love flows forth from their lips and hearts.

Jesus said that we need to change and become like little children or we would miss the Kingdom.  To me this speaks of our need for childlike innocence and enthusiasm.  We need to encourage everyone to come to Jesus as a child would.  I say honor children and they will grow up to honor you.  If given freedom in The Spirit children can even lead and teach adults with awesome results.

Love and …..

Kirk Out !

 

 

 

 

Time To Get Authentic And Real!

Greetings,

“Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  Romans 12: 9-12

Wow, what a packed passage that is?  Love must be sincere, real and not feigned!  How true is that?  My Greek professor in college told us that the word used for sincere comes from the arts.  It means without wax.  You see sculptors of that day needed to pick the best marble for their creations.  Unscrupulous ones would pick cheap marble with many flaws and would fill in the cracks and crevasses with wax in order to deceive potential buyers.  Artists who were real would let any flaws in the rock show for what they were naturally.  So in the context of relationships to be sincere is to allow any shortcomings, flaws or blemishes to show.  It is all about being REAL and NOT fake or deceptive.   In Jesus it is totally fine to be exactly who you are, without the need to cover up or conceal anything.  It is time to ditch the fig leaves!   Because we all fall short of the ideal, but His love compensates and makes us whole, complete and mature.  And it takes two real people to make a real relationship.  Anything less than real just compromises the relationship and damages the connection.  Jesus emptied Himself and became fully human and real for us.  Should we give Him and others any less in return?

Because of Him we can be joyful in hope.  Knowing full well that our joy will be made fully complete in Him allows us to have hope through the most difficult of circumstances and times.  We can be patient in affliction because He is our healer and He is never slow in keeping His promise.  Then we can remain faithful in prayer because He has remained faithful to us and brought us through many valleys of the shadow of death.  Being connected to Him via sincere love gives us the motivation to press forward in spite of our shortcomings, obstacles and troubles.

In closing I would like to say that I just love sincerity and that it is the single greatest thing that I look for in people with whom I want to relate with in this life.  It is better to be sincerely wrong about something than phony and right.  Jesus can work greatly through a person who is sincere, authentic, and real, but dishonesty can severely limit our capacity to live, love and relate with Him and others.

Love and……

Kirk Out !

p.s.  I love simple, relational, organic, Spirit led home fellowship because I feel it helps us to be sincerely authentic and real on every imaginable level.  It is hard to hide anything and slide by in a simple living room full of mutual face to face peers.  Plus when open, deep, gut level sharing by all is the norm it does not take long for deep and sincere relationships to develop and thrive.

 

A Lesson From STAR TREK: The NEXUS RIBBON

Greetings,

I know I am different and not quite right off the rack, but one of my favorite moments from all the Star Trek movies is found in “GENERATIONS”.  It is the scene where Picard has gone into the reality altering NEXUS RIBBON and he has found Captain Kirk.  They are riding horses and Kirk jumps over a chasm, turns around and jumps the same chasm again.  He has a look of dismay on his face and he looks at Picard and says, “That wasn’t real.”  You see Kirk had jumped at that very spot dozens of times in his life and he always felt some danger and excitement in his gut, but not this time.  This time he knew that because he was in the NEXUS that the jump was not authentic or real.  He realized that he was living within a fantasy, and that did not please or satisfy him.  At first Kirk enjoyed the NEXUS because he could relive wonderful moments in his life, but after his realization at the chasm he knew that in his heart he required life to be real and not fake.

Picard came to the NEXUS to recruit James T. Kirk for a dangerous and life threatening mission.  At first Kirk balked because he was enjoying the benefits of living in the fantasy that the NEXUS provided.  However, upon Kirk’s discovery that the NEXUS was not reality, he quickly agreed to go on Picard’s mission to save others and The Enterprise and its crew. Kirk knew full well that this was a very dangerous life or death situation, but the good Captain chose grim reality over staying in a world that was not real.

Now ask yourself the question…..  which choice would you make?  Beyond that speculation based on Sci-fi, what choices do you make in everyday life?  Do you choose what is real and authentic or do you chase fantasies?  Is the life you live centered in the reality of Christ Jesus and all that means, or do you refuse to live life on life’s terms?  I know, HUGE questions, but what are your sincere answers?  Proverbs 13:5 states, “The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked use it to bring shame and disgrace.”  Is being true and real more important to you than having vain imaginations just so you can look better in front of your peers and others?  Is having ANY fantasy in your real life, beyond simple entertainment, ever a good thing?  When people look to, into, and at you do they really get what they see?  Are you authentic to the core?  Ecclesiastes 5:7 says, “Much fantasy and many words are meaningless.  Therefore stand in awe of God.”

Being insincere or fake is the antithesis of being a true Christ Follower.  After all Jesus is The Truth and if we are truly to be called His, then we must also be truthful and transparent as He was.  Captain Kirk chose a real death rather than a false life.  So did Jesus.  As my dear friend Glenn Kaiser says, “It will cost you everything to follow Jesus, and it will also cost you everything if you don’t.”  So why hold back and hold onto the fantasies in your life?  You say you want to be more like Jesus?  Then BE more like Jesus and don’t hold back the truth in ANY part of your life.  Because being fake is just not worth it.  And others are watching you and they desperately need the truth from you, it could make a huge difference in their lives.

Love and ……

Kirk out!

P.s.  Being totally authentic and real is not always easy in this life.  Yet, as individuals it is something that Christ requires of us.  Now widen the scope to collections of individual Christians…what we call the Church.  Is the “church” you attend fully truthful, authentic and real?  Or is it just a Sunday morning show complete with hip music, lights and an entertaining pep talk?  In the end the true Church is all about authentic relationship with Christ and one another, relationships that run even deeper than family.  Without deep fellowship and sincere involvement in each others lives on more than Sundays we will never really be the Church that Jesus meant for us to be.  Me?  I am done with the fake, false and insincere.  I would rather have one tiny bit of what is truthful and real…than a whole shitload of something less than genuine.  So I choose what is simple, organic, true and relational over the impostor every day.  My path is rarely easy, but I embrace it’s gritty reality with a kung fu death grip and say to Jesus ……bring it on my Lord!

 

 

 

 

Two Extremely Important Things The “Church” Has Forgotten

Greetings,

26 “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.”  1 Corinthians 14: 26 NIV

1 Corinthians chapter 14 is perhaps the only passage in the entire New Testament that gives us any sort of loose pattern or prescription of how the Church should function WHENEVER it meets or gathers.  Yet, the vast overwhelming majority of “Christian” gatherings either purposely ignore or forget to allow for two key elements whenever they meet.

Element number one:  Each and every member of the congregation has the opportunity to share their gift and contribution openly with the entire Body gathered that day.  The truth is clear cut in this matter…WHENEVER the Church comes together each member gets to share what the Lord lays on their heart as led by the Holy Spirit.  In fact this MUST BE DONE SO THAT THE CHURCH MAY BE BUILT UP.

29-30″ Two or three may prophesy, one at a time, if they have the gift, while all the others listen. But if, while someone is prophesying, someone else receives a message or idea from the Lord, the one who is speaking should stop. 31 In this way all who have the gift of prophecy can speak, one after the other, and everyone will learn and be encouraged and helped.32 Remember that a person who has a message from God has the power to stop himself or wait his turn.[a] 33 God is not one who likes things to be disorderly and upset. He likes harmony, and he finds it in all the other churches.”  1 Corinthians 14: 29-33   The Living Bible

Element number two:  The Lord has given the Church a very great and precious gift to help with the overall flow of ANY gathering.  That gift my friends is the blessed gift of INTERRUPTION.  That’s right in a true Spirit led and dare I even say biblical church gathering there are no sermons or monologues.  No ONE person gets to dominate what should be a totally free and open sharing time.  EVERYONE can share their message or idea from the Lord with the entire Body.  And when we do begin to share our portion for the day we should be acutely aware that others may have something to add or subtract from what we have offered.  We can do this by pausing often and yielding the floor to others as needed.  This will take a great sensitivity to the Spirit, Who should be the one and only true leader and director of each and every gathering of the church.  This takes much practice and self control, but it is entirely worth doing if we really want our gatherings to reflect and glorify Christ.

If what I am sharing here today is true and trustworthy… why do we rarely, if ever, see a gathering that puts these two all important elements into action and practice?  I have been meeting in this simple, organic and profound manner in homes for over 41 years now, but I have NEVER witnessed or heard of a Sunday morning service/show in a “Church” building that followed these God ordained practices.  The ONLY times I have seen the Pastor interrupted in such a manner was the few times that I was the one doing the interrupting.  I am not all that special folks.  I just have a deep passion to see the Body of Christ set free to operate according to the ways of the Spirit, instead of the ways of mere “men”.  God’s way is rarely as neat and tidy as the typical Sunday show, but then again family life sure can be messy at times.  Real true conversations among family and friends are naturally given to an ebb and flow and give and take that many times includes interruptions and redirection.  If this is true of real life… how should the Church be ANY different?  I also know that asking these type of questions can sometimes get you kicked out of some “churches”.  However, if authority is never questioned it will never change and there are many dear sisters and brothers out there just DYING for a change.  Change starts with one person just trying to follow Jesus as best as they can.  I have been that person and hope to always be.  Perhaps today is your turn?

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

 

 

True Koinonia

Greetings,

”I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.  God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.  And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.”  Philippians 1: 3-11

It is extremely clear from this passage of scripture that Paul believed that he was in a total partnership with the believers that he was serving.  The Greek word for partnership used here is koinonia and it clearly means fellowship and partnership.  It also means mutual participation.  Paul did not support the idea of hierarchical leadership or a Clergy/Laity division. No, he believed in total mutuality in the Body of Christ.  He knew that he was partners with the believers that he served.   There was no Spiritual caste system that elevated one believer over others.  Paul’s Spirit inspired writings do not support a system that places a Pastor over the rest of the flock.  Paul considered everyone in the Body of Christ to be equal in Christ and he knew that every believer was also a minister of the Gospel.

Paul had a real deep heartfelt connection with the church in Philippi.  He held the church there in his heart and he had great affection for them.  If you get the chance please read Acts chapter 16 and it will tell you of Paul’s visit there. It was there that he encountered a group of women praying by a river, that included Lydia a leading businesswoman in that region.  The Lord opened up Lydia’s heart to Paul’s message and then Lydia opened her home to Paul and Silas. (my youngest daughter is named Lydia)  Soon afterwards Paul and Silas end up getting stripped and flogged and thrown into jail.  While in jail Paul and Silas just prayed and sang to God until an earthquake shakes the whole Jail.  The jailer thinking that the prisoners had escaped was going to kill himself until Paul informed him that no one had left the jail.  Because of this the jailer and his whole family came to The Lord.  Then before leaving the city Paul and Silas return to Lydia’s home and they encouraged everyone before they left town.  Of major note in this passage is how important women are in the whole scope of things and also how the early believers met in homes.  It seems that when one opened their heart to Jesus their home was automatically open for fellowship also.

Paul had a partnership with those he served and he realized how important it is to have a real intimate connection and relationship with other believers.  He prayed that love would abound in them, more and more, in both knowledge and depth of insight.  He wanted his fellow believers to be able to discern what was best for themselves, instead of being THE ONE who always had to tell them what to do or think.  Paul equipped other believers, but he also wanted them to be able to function on their own without him.  To Paul the church is supposed to be mutual and participatory.   Paul’s message was NOT.. I will LEAD and you will follow.  No, it was that Christ will LEAD and we ALL will follow.  As in “follow me as I follow Christ.”  So to me partnership, koinonia, fellowship and mutual participation are the way to go if you really want to be a vibrant and healthy church.

Love and ……

Kirk Out !

 

 

When Is A Church No Longer A Church?

Greetings,
                     “God sets the lonely in families….”  Psalm 68: 6
 “..for we are members of His Body.”  Ephesians 5: 30
 “…for the sake of His Body, which is the church.”  Colossians 1: 24
                     Today’s blog post is going to be very short.  The Lord gave me these words one night and then told me not to add or subtract anything.  So here it is…..
                     The church becomes an institution instead of the living Body of Christ when it runs like a business instead of a family, when some members are elevated with titles, offices or positions, when someone starts making money by “serving” it, and when it desires tax exempt status from the state.  The Institutional “church” system is wrong and perhaps at times even evil.  When one follows traditions instead of the Spirit’s leading things go all to hell very quickly.
                    Love and….
                    Kirk Out !
P.s.  However, I do affirm that I have believing brothers and sisters still within the system.  Jesus in Revelation cries out to those still in the Babylon system, “Come out from Her My people!”  So some of HIS people are definitely in there.  I just feel that not every gathering of believers qualifies as being church.  I love the people, but hate the system.