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Forgiveness, Comfort, and Love

Greetings,

“If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent – not to put it too severely.  The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him.  Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.  I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.  The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything.  If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him.  And what I have forgiven – if there was anything to forgive – I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us.  For we are not unaware of his schemes.”  2 Corinthians 2: 5-11

Satan loves to see divisions in the Body of Christ.  If he can divide and separate us from each other he knows he has a better chance of winning others over to his side of the battle.  Unity of The Spirit attracts people to the one true faith.  While ugly divisions tend to drive people away. The Spirit and the flesh are at war with each other.  With The Spirit comes acceptance and love. The flesh thrives on controversy and can be very divisive.  A house divided cannot stand. Satan’s schemes and devices are intended to drive wedges between members of Christ’s body and between us all and God.

The enemy wants us to expel from the church those who sin.  Satan would have us devour one another in the name of Christ.  This is not the way of Jesus our Lord.  Jesus wants us to forgive, comfort and love those among us who stumble and fall.  Even those who have sinned greatly against us.  God is all about restoration and not separation and division.  Spiritual elitism that puts people in different classes within the Body due to certain giftings or even sins is dead wrong.  There is no class system in the true Body of Christ.

As I have said many times God hates division.  You have heard me speak out against the Clergy/Laity division, calling it the worst division in the church.  However, it may just have an equal.  That equal being the division between good sinners and bad sinners.  We all sin, but many times we view certain sins as being worse than others.  In making this judgement we further divide the Body of Christ.  Because only God can determine the difference between a sheep and a goat.  Besides there is no such thing as a good sin in the first place.

Friends, it is far past time that we forgive, comfort and reaffirm our love for people who have sinned against us.  The true test of our faith is whether or not we will be obedient to love and forgive those who have done us wrong.  This is not an easy task.  It took me many, many years to finally be able to forgive my father for brutally raping and sexually abusing me as a child.  However, when I finally did I found the most healing and peace that I had ever known.  Forgiving others does not give them a free pass from God’s judgement.  What it does is set us free in this life, so that we can live and love beyond our scars and wounds.  If we want healing and restoration in this life, it bests serves us to offer the same to those around us who need it now.  If we say we are followers of Jesus then we better be willing to say “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”, just like HE did.

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

 

How Then Should We Meet?

Greetings,

“What then shall we say, brothers?  When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.  All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church…….  Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.  And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop.  For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.  The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.  For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.”  1 Corinthians 14:26,29-33

There we have it!  God’s idea of a peaceful, orderly worship gathering.  Where EVERYONE gets to share and EVERYONE may be instructed and encouraged.  There we can ALL share an inspired Word and EVERYONE gets to participate.  I am talking about totally free and open, Spirit led fellowship

.God’s way to gather is NOT 3 songs, a prayer, an offering, and a sermon.  So why do 99% of “churches” follow a pattern similar to this?  The way of “man” sets an order of worship that God did not inspire or ordain and yet they call their liturgy the way of God.  Notice in this passage that there is no room for professional Pastors or Worship Leaders.  Because we don’t need them.  In fact they get in the way of the Spirit’s inspiration.

The way of The Lord is about EVERYBODY participating whenever we gather.  In most congregations the Pastor does over 90% of the sharing when they gather.  This is NOT the way of The Lord.  This is NOT orderly worship according to Jesus.

Orderly worship according to God is a wild free for all, where EVERYONE gets to share in turn as The Spirit gives them revelation.  I have seen it work this way for over 44 years now and I have never witnessed it spin out of God’s control.  The Spirit is fully capable of guiding a room full of His people according to His will and His ways.  A Pastor or master of ceremonies is NOT a need.  Sermons are not needed or desired.  This passage of Corinthians makes that abundantly clear.  We need to stop doing things “man’s” way, and start doing things God’s way. HIS way is free and open with EVERYONE participating.  “Man’s” way has oppressive structure and Leadership that has been holding the Body of Christ back for centuries. I honestly do not know how this passage can be looked at any other way.  Simple open fellowship is the way of Jesus.  Contrived agendas led by “men” with hyper-order are not His way.  It can’t be both ways. As for me and my house we will serve The Lord.

Love and…….

Kirk Out !

 

Pastors, Platforms, and Pulpits

Greetings,

“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.  Keep away from them.  For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites.  By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.  Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.”  Romans 16: 17-19

The biggest and worst division in the church today is the Clergy/Laity divide and anyone who promotes or serves that division is putting a huge obstacle in the way of sincere followers of Jesus.  This division calls some of us gifted Ministers and leaves the rest of us as passive listeners and pew warmers.  This divide denies every member ministry and does not allow for the Priesthood of all believers.  The Body of Christ should never be divided in this or any other manner.

We need to be careful around people who participate in and promote this ungodly division in the church.  Any system that separates us into different categories like Clergy/Laity, Leader/follower, speaker/listener and gifted/non-gifted should be avoided and exposed as divisive and wrong.  According to Jesus we are all just brothers, sisters  and peers in the Body of Christ and no believer should ever be over and above another believer.

Our obedience to Christ in these and all matters is extremely important to the health of The Body Of Christ.  Sermons and monologues deny us of the dialogue and rich interaction that The Body needs in order to be healthy and well rounded under Christ.  We are supposed to be wise about every good thing, like every member ministry, and innocent concerning evil things like divisions in His church.

We are all equals and peers in the eyes of God and we should not allow mere “men” to rise up among us and damage our unity in Christ just because they want to dominate our gatherings and share lengthy monologues or sermons filled with smooth talk.  In Jesus we all have a message to share freely with others and we can all take turns sharing our hearts with the rest of the Body whenever we gather.  Because interactive gatherings are how we best learn from both Him and one another.  We need one another in the Body of Christ.  Iron needs to sharpen iron in all of our lives and we need to honor the fact that we are ALL iron and in need of mutual sharpening.  Too many times “men” try to sharpen and disciple others from the pulpit like they are THE sharpening stone and everyone else is a blunt knife.  This simply is not the best way for the church to function.  All things, including discipleship, should be done in a relational and conversational manner with mutual sharing and not any sort of a top down system.  Pastors, Platforms and Pulpits do not foster relationship with one another or with HIM.  Face to face, heart to heart, and eye to eye are the best ways to relate to one another and effectively BE the church; and BEING the church is a whole lot better than just GOING to one.

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

 

The Yoke’s On Me

Greetings,

Jesus said:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11: 28-30

This is one of my favorite passages in all of scripture.  Here Jesus calls anyone who is struggling to simply come to Him and then find rest.  This message is so comforting because we all struggle at times and desperately need to find a place of comfort and rest so that we can just recharge and face another day of challenges.

However, the way Jesus wants us to find this rest is very unique.  In fact it is a total contradiction.  In order to find the rest that Jesus wants us to have He invites us to take His yoke upon us.  In the world yokes are meant for oxen or other beasts of burden, so that they can be controlled better while carrying very heavy loads.  Yet the yoke Jesus suggests for us is one that is not burdensome at all, in fact it is easy and light.

Jesus wants us yoked with Him so that we can learn directly from Him how to better navigate the path He sets before us in this life.  Yokes are usually made for two animals so that they can pull in tandem, side by side.  Here I believe Jesus is suggesting to us that we should allow His Spirit to be yoked with us.  This makes perfect sense because The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, is literally “The One called alongside us”.  Why would we ever go it alone in this life when God has fully provided a better way for us.  A way to do it with HIM, instead of all on our own.

Jesus clearly wants us in His yoke so that we can learn directly from Him.  However, far too many of us are yoked with something or someone else altogether.  Yoke with the church and it will fail you. Yoke with a Pastor and they will fail you.  Even yoke with the bible and it will fail you.  Jesus and His Spirit are the only ones who really fit into the yoke with you.  So if you want to learn directly from The One who is gentle and humble in heart, Jesus Himself, then step right up and take His yoke upon you.  This is THE way Jesus wants us to learn.  Sermons get you no where.  The bible only gets you part way.  Same goes for commentaries or other written works of “men”.  Sure secondary revelation can help at times, but there is nothing like direct teaching and revelation from The One called right alongside us.

Why read a book when you can actually experience Truth in Love?  Why settle for a postcard when you can actually take the trip for yourself?  We all have plenty of questions, but ONLY HE has answers.  Time to look only to HIM and no other “man” or method.

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

 

Does It Take Desire, Effort, or Mercy?

Greetings,

“What then shall we say?  Is God unjust?  Not at all!  For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”  Romans 9: 14-16

Wow?  God’s favor and mercy towards us does not depend on our desire or effort?  That is a huge relief, but it seems to go against much of what the traditional/institutional “church” has been telling us about ourselves since it all began.  The powers that be have said for ages that the way we tithe or give money to the church results in God’s blessing or lack thereof.  They have even implied that our attendance in “church” services somehow helps determine how God views us.  They also proclaim that how much we read and study our bibles somehow affects our status in God’s economy.

Most “churches” say upfront that our relationship with God is supposed to be about faith and not works, but in practice they demand works from us in order to remain members in good standing.  I hate mixed messages, but they abound from pulpits every single week.

So is it mercy and grace or works and effort that maintain our relationship with God?  Or is it a mixture of both faith and works?  I say it is much more about God than it is about us.  However, I do believe that how we respond to God’s grace and mercy does play a role in our ongoing salvation and current state of being.  I have looked at Universal Reconciliation, but I am not yet fully ready to say that all are saved regardless of our actions and choices quite yet.  I do feel that God’s forgiveness and grace is MUCH, MUCH, bigger than what most current day “churches” teach and practice.  To me, it is all about Jesus, but at some point we need to acknowledge and cooperate with what God has freely set before us.  The grace of God gives us unmerited favor, but we also need to walk within the parameters of HIS grace.

I know what I want to say on this topic, but I just can’t seem to find sufficient words to say what is on my heart and mind.  I feel that no matter how I say it..I will be misunderstood.  Theologians have pondered the tension between grace and works for centuries.  The truth is that it is hard to balance the notion of unmerited favor with “faith without works is dead.” (James 2)  The way Martin Luther wanted to deal with it was to leave the book of James out of the bible altogether.  I just can’t do that.  However, my understanding is that the fruit of the Spirit comes through faith that God is working within you, and not at all by self discipline or works.

Well, I threw my thoughts out there on the subject.  Anyone else dare to weigh in?  Today I am as clear as mud it seems LOL.

Love and……

Kirk Out !

 

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 !

 

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 !