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My Report On The 2018 Searching Together Gathering

Greetings,

“If we walk in the light as HE is in the light we have fellowship with one another…”

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

This years gathering was off the charts awesome.  HIS people from five different states drove miles upon miles sacrificing their time, energy and money to simply come together under the Headship of Christ alone, to experience true Body life with one another.

PLEASE TAKE NOTE: this was a fellowship gathering and NOT a conference or a seminar.  We came together in simplicity to hear and experience from every member their portion of the Truth in Love in Christ.Jesus  We had no featured speakers or so called experts.  This was not at all about sitting in rows and quietly listening to sermons or structured teaching.  We sat in a circle so that we could gaze upon the glory of Christ that shone forth from each others faces as each member shared their experience, strength and hope with the rest of the Body.

This was totally open and free, Spirit led sharing from our hearts.  It was an entirely interactive, true give and take, Holy ebb and flow, participatory gathering.  This remained true in our times of meeting, breaking bread together, or relaxing in our guest rooms.  We met, shared, played, sang, shopped, ate and cleaned together.  This was a time of true community and living together in total unity and because we surrendered to that in every aspect….God bestowed upon us all HIS very grand, complete, and whole blessing.

In the meetings or in conversations over dinners, everyone there got to share their stories and testimonies of God’s grace and leading in their lives.  We shared the good, the bad and the ugly; including challenges we have faced or are still facing.  We held each other up in prayer and will continue to do so.  We laughed and cried together.  Because we opened up our hearts and lives to one another and Christ we forged relationships that went very deep, very fast.  At Searching Together 2018 we became more than just friends, now we are family.

In four days of open and free sharing without a Pastor or one person in charge of our gathering there was not any petty contention at all!  In true open fellowship there will be differences of opinion at times, but those differences need not divide us.  We lived that at this gathering.

Love, acceptance and forgiveness are the way of Christ and learning to walk in these attributes together takes a lifetime.  Christ and HIS Body the Church are to put relationship first and foremost.  Jesus said that, “There is no greater love than to lay your life down for a friend.”  That is a very high call my friends and I believe it starts by being willing to lay down our point of view or opinion on even biblical issues for the sake of others until the time is right for all involved.

I loved and embraced every aspect of Searching Together 2018.  The Lord used each and every member there to mold and reshape all of our hearts and minds.  I love real life, real time relating to whatever comes up along the way.  Hope to see others there next year and I am so glad that the fellowships I relate to practice Spirit led, free & open gatherings all of the time.

Love and……

Kirk Out !

 

 

 

 

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USA? No, Not Really

Greetings,

“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 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.

Love and……

Kirk Out !

P.s.  Talena and I are now back home safe and sound after our honeymoon trip back East.  Our time with family and friends was most excellent.  The Searching Together Gathering was wonderful and I will give you my full report in the next few days.

 

Dropping The F Bomb?

Greetings,

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 of Christ 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 time 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, farts, blemishes and all.  I desire reality, true fellowship, and not fake behavior all the time.

Love and…

Kirk Out !

P.s.  This will be my last blog post until about July 4th.  Talena and I are taking our honeymoon trip and we will be heading east to Michigan to see family and friends.  We are also participating in the Searching Together Gathering in Wisconsin while we are gone.  Prayers appreciated!

 

Even More Simple?

Greetings,

“.. The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.”  Galatians 5: 6

The ONLY thing that matters is faith expressing itself through LOVE!

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 !

 

Simple?

Greetings,

“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 very 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 love and serve others as well as He did.

We need to love and 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 and loving 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 !

 

Judgment Or Grace And Mercy?

Greetings,

“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) judgment.” (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 judgment 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.

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

 

Nothing Is Automatic

Greetings,

“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 !