“Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others…..So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10: 23-24, 31-33, 11: 1
This passage, I believe, addresses perhaps the greatest sin in the Church. Selfishness is a crippling sin. It causes us to focus on ourselves and our own needs; instead of serving and giving to others. Jesus said that loving our neighbors as ourselves was just like the greatest commandment. That means that if we really love God we will serve and treat others by laying down our lives for them. Putting other first is an easy concept, but actually doing it is rare in the modern, and especially Western, church.
Seeking the good of others, instead of our own good should be a foundational aspect of our faith. Jesus came to serve and not be served and Paul echoed that truth in his life and ministry too. Personal sacrifice for the sake of others should be practiced daily in the life of a true Christ follower. However, instead of denying ourselves and taking up our cross (Which Jesus said was a must) and serving others; on most days we end up serving only ourselves. Most “church” goers I come into contact with have little or no practice of denying themselves, and instead of following the words of Jesus they follow the modern mantra of, “Whoever dies with the most toys wins.” The prosperity “doctrine”, which I believe is false teaching, has permeated most of the “church” including the mainline denominations to a certain extent.
I find this very sad, but true. However, why should the average “Joe Christian” give to those in need when the “church” he belongs to spends 97% of its income on itself via building expenses and Clergy salaries? That’s right only about 3% of the money collected in the traditional “church” goes to actual, hands on, ministry, missions and helping those in need like widows and orphans. Pure religion rarely exists anymore and the “church” gets fat while our sisters and brothers around the globe are starving.
However, that system that calls itself the church is never going to change. Babylon is a fact of life until Jesus destroys it in the end. Hate the system, but love and rescue the people. So we all need to focus on personal sacrifice and giving directly to those who need it now. Self denial is not an option according to Jesus and neither is caring for others who have a need. So start allowing the Holy Spirit to manage your resources and money instead of the “church” and your own desires. If you would just raise your head away from self consuming activities and look around for those in need, I guarantee you will find just the right person, or persons, to start giving to. Need an idea? Twenty five years ago our housechurch started helping families who lost their homes and belongings to fires here locally. Remember, God loves a cheerful giver!
Kirk Out !
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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….” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
I have been pondering love a lot lately. I think it comes with the territory when you have soon to be 2 year old grand-twins, two grandsons under age 5 and are at the beginning of new relationships. Love is an immense concept. Well worthy of deep pondering. So why does it flood your mind with sweet nothings? When I hold my sweet grandchildren my heart and mind turn to sweet mush. I just know it makes me feel good inside.
I John 4:16 states that “God is love.” If this is true then the passage quoted above helps us define who God is. It seems to me that in the New Covenant God reveals Himself to us in ways totally different from the Old Covenant. Today God is all about love and forgiveness, but in times past it seems that God was about blood soaked vengeance and such. Has God changed? Or has Jesus opened a whole new window to see God through? I think Jesus was a total game changer and His blood purchased for us a new forgiveness and love, the likes of which was never seen before on this earth. But of course Jesus always was and the Father always knew and The Spirit has always revealed. It is just up to us to walk in His love today as we understand Him.
Think about it? If God is love then can we say the following considering 1 Corinthians 13 ?….. God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God is not rude, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails..
That makes me think hard about just who God is and I feel that it fits God extremely well. In Christ, God fully opened His life to us and now Grace prevails like it never has before. It makes me draw even closer to God when I know He is not angry at me and He keeps no record of my wrongs. Today I am experiencing love from a wide variety of sources and angles, and this love makes me draw near to Him and walk a better walk towards others. I hope this makes some sense today, but then again I am surrounded in love so who knows? Sometimes love doesn’t make much sense, but I know when I am in it. It helps me to remember that the very first thing love is, is patient. So Lord, please help us all to be patient today. We want to run beside You, and not in front of or behind You. Please help us to keep in step with You and Your love all of our days.
Kirk Out !
P.s. John Boy’s quadruple bypass surgery did not go well. His diabetes has adversely affected his tissues and one of the valves was totally shot. They completed the triple bypass with complications. If John Boy wants to live he will have to take insulin that he has been avoiding for years and stop being his own DR and dietician. He is in stable, but critical condition now.
“The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Acts 16:29-31
For me last Thursday was laundry day after a long fellowship vacation. So I got my dirty clothes together and went to the laundrymat. While I was there I ran into a former co-worker that I had not seen in many years. During our conversation we caught each other up concerning our current employment and how our families were doing. We were both surprised at how our children had grown and matured. Then all of a sudden in the middle of our conversation WHAM JESUS WAS THERE and I was leading her to The Lord. It was totally casual and nothing was forced. We had just been talking about how I was coping with my PTSD. She was there eighteen years ago when I had my first PTSD episode at work and I crawled under my desk, screamed, cried and assumed the fetal position. She saw how well I was getting along now and she directly asked me what seemed to be working for me. The answer to that question was Jesus, The Body of Christ, and a new treatment called EMDR. She is a therapist too, so she actually knew about EMDR, but she asked for more information about how Jesus was helping me. I spoke of His love, grace, mercy and healing and she responded by asking me how she could experience such things in her life. We prayed together right there and she let Jesus invade her very being. Immediately she also began praying in tongues and was filled with The Spirit. All of this happened without any coaching. I am telling you it was just another awesome flow of His Holy Spirit there that day.
After the initial rush of The Spirit we continued to talk and she told me how she had been watching me during the seven years we had worked in the same counseling center. She knew I was a believer and an excellent counselor, but noticed that I never tried to push Jesus on anyone at work. She had tried various “churches” over the years, but they never felt “right” to her. I told her that was because many churches don’t have it right because their focus is on their leaders and things other than the simplicity of Christ and the relationships that flow out of experiencing Him together. Most “churches” focus on programs and the external and works. While Jesus focuses on relationship, our hearts and the completed work of the cross.
Our time together was cut short because she had to get her client back to his place. However, we exchanged phone numbers and she definitely wants to talk more. She asked what church I went to and I told her that I don’t go to church, but I do simply meet with other followers of Jesus in homes. She seemed interested so I told her we would talk about that at another time. We hugged and off she went. If you get a chance please remember Dianne in your prayers this week because I think she is at the beginning of a new and grand journey.
Kirk Out !
P.s. This meeting happened two years ago and I re-post it here because we bumped into each other again last weekend. She called me several times during the past 2 years and she reports that she is still following Jesus, but has run into much trouble and confusion trying to find a “church” to belong to. Every single place she has visited has felt very wrong in her Spirit and she discerned that these places all focused on manipulation and control instead of freedom and true fellowship. So now she really wants to visit one of the home fellowships I relate to. I told her it would be a joy to fellowship in Christ with her. Dianne then said, “I guess I just had to find out about the traditional “church” the hard way.” We both then laughed and embraced. Please pray for Dianne as she seeks to follow Jesus and discover true fellowship? She lives about an hour’s drive from here or other hc’s in our network.
P.s.s. Please pray for John Boy from our fellowship here in Sturgis? He had a heart attack Sunday night and they discovered that 3 of his major heart arteries were 80% blocked. The Dr’s are deciding whether to try stents or going ahead with triple bypass surgery.
Below is the report of last years trip South. I am feeling a bit better today, but still out of sorts and lacking. If Jesus can use me with all my problems and shortcomings I am certain HE can and will use you too. These reports are just evidence of that fact. I hope they bless someone out there today.
“Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” Genesis 9:16
This year’s trip South was very eventful and rewarding in a great number of ways. I spent the first night in North Georgia with Michael M and his family. Michael has been involved with housechurching for quite a few years both in the states and overseas in Israel and the South Pacific. We have been butting heads online for over 10 years now because I feel he is too Jewish and legalistic in his view of scripture and he feels I have a “low view of scripture”. However, face to face it all worked out fine and Michael was a very gracious host. He still values the Law and I value the New Covenant over and above the Old.
Early the next morning I headed South towards Florida and I had to stop for gas just South of Macon Ga. As I was filling my tank a glorious double rainbow filled the Eastern sky. Then I noticed another gentleman nearby who seemed enthralled with the rainbows. I then felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to start a conversation with this man. I then told this man that the rainbow was God’s sign unto all men that HE would never send a devastating flood upon the entire earth again. We then conversed back and forth for about ten minutes and then Marvin asked me flat out how he could be saved. We then prayed and Marvin asked Jesus to fill his heart and take over his life. This left us both in tears and we embraced before saying our goodbyes and getting back on the road.
I spent the next 5 nights with a dear childhood friend, I have known for over 40 years, and his wonderful family. Dave E. is now serving the Lord as a funeral director and has been sharing Jesus openly with his clients for over 3 years now with much fruit and success. Dave and I spent some of our teen years on fire for Jesus in what we called the AFL-CYO or the All For the Lord Christian Youth Outreach. A group of teens in love with Jesus and one another. Our totally open and free, Spirit led gatherings laid a solid foundation for what I would later simply call home fellowships or house churches.
While I spent my nights with Dave, I was also spending days with my dear nearly 94 year old Aunt Marie. We enjoyed rich fellowship as we played endless card games with each other. Aunt Marie is my favorite person in the world and I am quite certain I would not be alive or serving Jesus if it were not for her effective prayers over my entire life. If I have ever been in the presence of a true saint it would have to be Marie and I treasure every moment I get to spend with her each year.
I also had the pleasure of visiting with several home fellowships on the Gulf coast while I was there. These are “churches” I have helped start or have encouraged over the past 15 years. In a bit of a surprise I felt prompted by the Lord to visit “The Refuge” semi-traditional “church” on Sunday morning. This is the “church” my cousin Lonnie is helping to plant. While the “worship” band was playing I was given a clear prophetic word for this congregation. In gentleness I gave this word about “not despising the days of small beginnings” and always allowing Jesus to lead His Church and following no other man other than Christ. Right after giving them this word from the Lord their pastor stepped forward in tears and turned on the powerpoint presentation….. and right there in black and white in big bold letters was the title of the talk he intended to give that day…. it simply read..”Do not despise the days of small things.” It was dead silent in there and everyone could feel the Spirit as if it was electricity. We then closed in prayer and all left encouraged and challenged by what had just occurred. The young pastor took my phone number and we have spoken several times since that amazing day. Lonnie and I met for breakfast on Tuesday and he apologized for misjudging me several years ago after I visited the Refuge and I reported in my blog how it was much better than the average traditional “church”, but it still had one foot in Babylon and one foot in the Lord. He broke fellowship with me over my choice of words back then, but now freely admits I was spot on. Today the Refuge is focusing on feeding the poor and hungry in their community and I praise them for that much needed ministry.
Next on my way back home to Michigan I spent 2 nights with my old college friend and dear brother Doug O. Doug has long been a great source of encouragement to me and this blog page. We had some fun and encouraged one another greatly. That is my trip in a nutshell. Please be praying for Marvin our new brother in Christ? It was once again an amazing trip.
Kirk Out !
P.s. I almost forgot…. I also met with David F. in Ocala for coffee and quick fellowship on my way back North. He seemed like a very precious fellow. David, I hope to have more time together next year.
I would appreciate your prayers. I am feeling VERY out of sorts today and am also having computer/online issues. Because of that I am posting my report of my 2015 trip South. I hope some find encouragement through it.
“13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3: 13-17
My trip down South and back was filled with wonderful fellowship along the way. However, the final leg of my journey home from Chattanooga Tennessee to Sturgis Michigan on Tuesday was wrought with ice, snow, wind and terrible driving conditions that led to one pretty chaotic and amazing day.
The weather forecast for Chattanooga Monday afternoon through early Tuesday morning was for freezing rain and ice. So if need be I was going to stay there an extra night and leave Wednesday morning. However, several pressing issues at home needed my attention a.s.a.p. So I was hoping and praying that I would be able to depart early on Tuesday. For some unknown reason the Holy Spirit told me to set my alarm for 8:30 am instead of 6:15 on Tuesday. Over the years I have simply learned not to question such leadings. So I was obedient. First miracle… Chattanooga’s temperatures stayed in the mid thirties that night so the major ice storm was averted there. However, everywhere in every direction surrounding Chattanooga there was major ice and snow events.
I left wet, but not quite frozen Chattanooga at 9:15 am Tuesday. The roads were fine even through the mountains on I-24 North. Then just 15 minutes South of ice & snow covered Nashville, traffic northbound came to an abrupt halt. It then took over an hour to travel three miles due to a multi car accident. Then six minutes later when traffic just started flowing nicely again we came to another freeway stoppage. This time it took nearly two hours to clear several wrecked cars and two jack-knifed and twisted semi-tractor trailers from the roadway. Second miracle…. If I would have left Chattanooga as planned at 7 am instead of yielding to a Spirit led time of 9:15, it is possible that I may have been involved in one of these horrific crashes
Just North of Nashville I stopped at a truck stop for gas and food. As I went inside to the restaurant I passed an older grey haired and bearded man with a backpack. I went to the bathroom and while at the urinal the Spirit told me to offer the man I saw outside a meal and a ride North. So I fed Randy and he did indeed need a ride North to Chicago. I told Him I could take him as far as Indianapolis and off toward snow covered Kentucky we went. I attempted to engage Randy in conversation, but he was quiet and not talkative at all. I asked him if he liked to listen to good rock music and he nodded yes, so I turned up my CD of REZ Band’s 1983 live “Bootleg” album. The songs on this totally rocking CD are interlaced with sharing and testimonies from my dear Jesus People friends Wendi and Glenn Kaiser. Both Randy and I spent the next hour slapping time and nodding our heads to the beat of this awesome Jesus music. After the final song Glenn gave a short message and invitation to become a follower of Christ. When I looked over at Randy I could clearly see that he was tearing up and beginning to cry, so I asked him if he needed to talk. He said yes and we spent the next few hours discussing our lives and what we believed about Jesus and the Body of Christ. Randy told me he had always hoped that Jesus was real, but when he visited “churches” and talked with “Christians” it always left a bad taste in his “mouth”, so he never pursued a relationship with Jesus or those who claimed to follow Him. So I then shared my journey in Christ with Randy including my take on true fellowship and the Body of Christ. Moments later Randy was praying out loud and surrendering his life to Jesus. I did not ask him or tell him to pray, he just did so on his own without any coaching from me. Third miracle… I would have never crossed paths with Randy if it were not for all the delays and obstacles I encountered this day.
Just before we hit the South side of Indianapolis Randy asked me if he could be baptized now. I said a quick prayer in my head and asked Jesus and Jesus said yes. So I exited I-65 and found the first motel with an indoor pool. I rented Randy a room for the night (Thank God for credit cards in emergency situations) and we changed into shorts and went to the heated pool together. Minutes later I baptized Randy in Jesus name. Fourth miracle… It was near darkness outside, but the exact moment Randy emerged from the water the clouds parted on this grey and dreary day and the sun shone brightly for a moment and the refraction of the sun’s light caught the glass of the atrium the pool was in and the colors of a rainbow were broadcast on the wall nearest us. It was amazing! After drying off and dressing in Randy’s room we both said our tearful goodbyes. He did not have a cell phone or an address, but I still gave him my info anyways.
Then I raced to my car and took off towards home. I Had exactly 3.5 hours to get from Indy to where I have my dog Rocky boarded. If I was late I would not be able to retrieve him and it would have cost me an extra days fee. To get there I would have to average about 80 miles an hour, so off I went. The roads were clear so I had a decent chance of making it on time. About an hour shy of home what looked like a three foot long 4X4 piece of wood flew off the flatbed semi truck I was following and it was heading right for me. In a split second I swerved in an attempt to avoid the object. Bad idea! I then spun out over 360 degrees and violently hit the deep ditch on the right side of the road filled with over 2 feet of snow at 70 miles per hour. I thought to myself…this is going to be bad, so I yelled out … please help Jesus! When I came to a stop I was glad to be alive and unhurt. I could not open my door due to the depth of the snow. I was about 20 feet off the road and in deep shit. I had no money for a wrecker and no time to waste. I needed help and asked for divine intervention. I was able to begin slowly rocking the car back and forth in the snow. I did this about 4 times and then gave it all the gas I had. I nearly reached the shoulder of the interstate, but then slipped back down to the bottom. This was simply an impossible situation to overcome. However, on the very next attempt I made it back onto the road. That was definitely miracle number five on this very long day. Plus I made it to get Rocky on time. When I got home late that night I examined my car and the plastic bumper had 2 holes in it where the 4X4 hit. The rest of the car was without mark or blemish. Thank Jesus there were no fences, guardrails or roadside markers or signs where I went off the road. That just might be miracle number six?
Don’t try to ever tell me that Jesus does not direct not only our paths, but also our very individual steps. When we cry out to HIM.. HE intervenes! Things like these have happened to me far too many times to call them coincidence. It is great to be back blogging. Thanks for reading. Please pray for our new brother Randy?
Kirk Out !
P.s. I just found a 100 dollar bill in my coat pocket. I have no explanation for this, unless Randy slipped it into my pocket yesterday. Wow! I am left speechless.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12: 1-3
Last week while in sunny Florida I spent a lot of time walking on the beach where we spread my Mother’s ashes over fourteen years ago. Now I don’t believe that we can have conversations with the dead, but I do believe that remembering them can give us much solace. My Mom and I used to walk Green Key beach, hand in hand, often when I was ages 4-11. I remember her touch, smile, hair and our encouraging conversations.
During the last several years I have learned from The Lord the power of positive memories. Having PTSD these last 18 years I have been flooded with negative flashbacks and memories on numerous occasions. They have been so over-powering at times that they even led me to be suicidal quite often.
Recently, Jesus has been leading me to recapture the good and positive memories of my childhood. PTSD made me re-live brutal abuse and rapes by my father from ages 4-11. These horrific memories filled almost all of my days and nights with pain and terror. Now that is all changing as I allow myself to embrace and remember the excellent times I also had during my childhood. Now The Lord is using the fantastic moments of my youth to counter balance the scales of my life. In the past I found trying to recall these fond moments nearly impossible due to the sheer weight and volume of the horrific flashbacks. However, now Jesus has granted me much abundant grace and freedom in recalling the wonderful days of my youth.
I believe that now my Mom is a member of the great cloud of witnesses that I am engulfed and surrounded by. Now I am throwing off the negative memories that have hindered me for the last 18 years and I am also no longer giving in to the sin of ungodly inner rage, self loathing and anger that had me entangled for so long. My eyes are now totally fixed on Jesus and because of that I am no longer growing weary or losing heart. Jesus endured opposition from sinful men as I have endured opposition from my earthly father and the enemy.
I fully embrace the current freedom I am experiencing and I am just loving being able to recall the great times of my youth. I was in chains to the flashbacks, but now I am free. When the enemy comes against me now in my mind I just recall and re-live the walks on the beach with my loving, gracious and wonderful Mom. I thank the Lord for granting me the liberty to replace my destructive past with a loving and productive one. Now when the flashbacks hit, I just close my eyes and all of sudden I am there with my Mom on that beach and more amazing than that Jesus is there hand in hand with me and my Mom too. Such a simple revelation and I just hope and pray that someday everyone out there reading this can be set free from any part of their past that holds them back in this life also.
Love and ….
Kirk Out !
“Jesus and His disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way He asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” ”But what about you?” He asked. ”Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about Him. He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took His aside and began to rebuke Him. But when Jesus turned and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter. ”Get behind me, Satan!” He said. ”You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Mark 8: 27-33
Our housechurch read and discussed this passage during totally free & open fellowship here last night. We found it amazing and almost laughable at how fast Peter could go from zero to stupid. One moment Peter recognized Jesus as the Christ and in the next he took Jesus (The Christ) aside and was actually rebuking Him. Who does that? The simple answer we came up with was that we do, and all the time.
In a moment we can go from knowing and experiencing Jesus as the Christ; to questioning and denying His truth for our lives. Our attention should be focused on The Lord and His will for us, but many times we get distracted by the things of the world. Fact is that there are many things out there competing for our attention and unfortunately Jesus doesn’t always win . Satan wants us to be distracted because he knows how effective and powerful the Body of Christ can be if led by God. Many times it boils down to what we deem important in our lives. Is that sporting event, television show, song, sermon, bible, doctrine or cute guy or girl really more worthy of our attention than the living God is? We all know the answer, but are we really willing to change the way we think and begin to take captive every thought and make them obedient to Christ?
So today which will it be? The things of God or the things of men? We all know that our hearts and minds should be tuned into Jesus and His will for our lives. But, will we really surrender in such a manner that allows Him to lead us by His Spirit from moment to moment with our minds fixed solely on Him? We need to ask ourselves these questions and better yet come up with answers that truly align with His will for our lives.
Peter, the rock, was a flawed human being just like us. One moment affirming Jesus as the Christ and the next in opposition to His will. Peter said he would never deny Jesus, but he did three times before the cock crowed and then Jesus restored him. No one is perfect, but the Lord, and I am thankful that His grace is sufficient for us all. However, I also believe we need to actively choose to cooperate with His will if we want to walk in The Spirit and not the flesh. Anyway we needed to be reminded of that last night and I thought I would pass it on here to you all today. And remember, “HE will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on HIM.”
Kirk Out !