People of Like Faith

Christianity can be extremely difficult to understand for those in the church and outside the church. There are so many streams of doctrine, liturgy, denominations, personal experience and the crazy thing about all it is, everyone thinks their truth reigns supreme. Instead of accepting men and women in the faith as brothers and sisters, we spend time arguing with each other.

I have to believe the Holy Spirit helps us all. Jesus said no one could reach the father except through him. Have you ever considered if there are many ways to Jesus? Could a loving God grade so harshly? Could he leave no margin for grace? Will everyone who doesn’t believe like us be separate from God? The Bible says the voice of God is like many waters. Does that mean God speaks to people in different ways, times and places?

And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.
1 Peter 1:1

Christianity needs to take a long look at our history. Mistakes made, human rights violations and a host of atrocities carried out in the name Christ. We have been divided so long we don’t know how to respect and love one another.

The first thing we do when meeting someone of faith, is to find out what stream they’re in. Things such as how we baptize, gifts of the spirit, sacraments, observances, rituals and whatever else. In the eyes of the unchurched, it must appear as though no one knows whats up.

Catholics observe lent, Protestants ask why? Pentecostals speak in tongues, baptist don’t believe that’s of God. Well I guess that depends on what type baptist. Lets see, 1st, 2nd, freewill, hardshell, united, southern, independent and whole host of others. These are just a few of the baptist organizations. Not picking on the baptist. Many church movements look the same.

The bottom line, God is sovereign and just. Not according to our traditions, Ideology or personal beliefs.

REMEMBER PERSONAL CONVICTIONS ARE PRIVATE PROPERTY!

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ
1 Peter 1:1

– KV

Being Human

I remember when I was young Lynard Skynard recorded the song give me back my bullets, put em back where they belong. I knew the words but not the meaning of them. Now at 51 I’m just beginning to get what Ronnie must have been feeling when he sang that tune.

Life can be a real challenge. Sometimes it seems as though it’s more trouble than it’s worth. To many days to count I’ve thought I don’t want to be in this world anymore. The hard part is not dying that’s easy, the hard part is living…

Like everyone I’ve had big dreams, you know the kind that transcends the place your standing and drops you off somewhere really special. It seems like time and circumstance have a way to pound those dreams out of you. We begin to settle for a life much different than we had anticipated.

Everyone likes to think that their a good person and people love and respect them in spite of their humanity. Well, welcome to the real world. I’ve learned you can’t do enough good to make up for all the hell you’ve created, at least in the eyes of some people. The self righteous “Christians” who fill the world with their judgmentalism and lack of human compassion, all in the name of Jesus.

I have tried to give grace and mercy to everyone I meet. I don’t want to judge anyone because I’m not God…..for the record I’m not the devil either. Maybe you should ask my family about the devil thing they might have a different opinion. If you truly want to know someone don’t ask their co-workers or friends, ask the wives and husbands, the children and family. We can all put on a good show for the select few. At the end of the day our real friends and family know the real you.

To sum this epistle up, I don’t share posts to get a following or build a support base. The simplicity of it all, I would like to think I can do a little good and relieve some of the internal pain and shame that I feel 24/7. I don’t mind when people judge me and say whatever they have to say, I’m grown, I can take it. What grieves my soul beyond measure is when people attack me and it causes my family to come to my defense.

Someone told me the other day, you ain’t nothing but a drunk… for the record, I’ve struggled with alcohol addiction for years. Some years I win and some I lose. To clear everything up, I’m not just a drunk, I’m a father, husband, brother, uncle, cousin and a person who loves people and hates himself at the same time.

If people want to try and destroy me because of my issues, I guess I have it coming. What I cannot live with is people who are so ugly and say incredibility mean things, never considering those that will be affected. We live in a very different time, I loved the little place I grew up in. The people and community, the lives shared and the roads traveled. The world has become a very different place…..the Internet and Facebook give people an audience for their bullshit…

Give me back my bullets, put em back where they belong…

If I go , it will be by my own hand not by another. Everyone who thinks they have ammunition to hurt me with….I just went public with my struggles, so if that doesn’t make some of the haters back off…than I guess you can kiss my corn bread eatin’ hillbilly ass…

If you find this offensive I guess just unfriend me because were not friends to begin with!

Understanding Acceptance

Is God misunderstood or simply misrepresented?

Christians seem to be becoming increasingly judgmental and reclusive, narrowing the number of people they deem worthy of love and acceptance. If we use the bible as a license to condemn others, than we truly do not understand the words and teachings of Christ.

Jesus came to pay the price for sin. His sacrifice satisfied Gods anger towards mankind and made us all the eternal focus of HIS love, grace and mercy.

If we understand God, than we love. If we do not love someone because of our differences, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or whatever the excuse, than we simply don’t understand the nature of God. If we claim to be Christians and refuse to love, then we are misrepresenting God. We learn early in our faith that God loved the world and that that’s why he sent his son.

What part of Gods world are you willing to love? Will you represent God? Will your character be loving or unloving? Will you drop the excuses for your prejudice? We can all find reasons to be fearful, especially with things we don’t understand, but can we decide to love and accept those that do not fit in our ideological view of God and the world?

We have to stop defending our right to be prejudice, in the name of God. And find reasons to show the love of God to our fellow man.

– K

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Ken speaks weekly at Spirit Life Church.

On Justice and Society

On the surface, the War for American Independence appears to be an inherently un-Christian event. The Apostle Paul, in Romans 13, seems to leave little room for revolution:

Romans 13
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained by God. Whosoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

So you see, how even history bares witness to our rebellious and rough start–we revolted against the power that was over us (our sovereign). To say the founding of America was on a wholly Christian foundation, might be stretching it a might. So when people say things that aren’t true, like they are true, that doesn’t make it true.

I’m proud to be an America, home of the free (for some)! I’m not ashamed of our rough beginnings, however, our Founders were on the wrong side of Christianity–with slavery, prejudice, and many other human rights issues. We are all flawed people. They were, we are. If we are going to pass down accurate history, for generations to come, shouldn’t we tell it right?

We don’t actually know to what level the founding fathers walked in Christian faith, as we know it today. They were no doubt greatly influenced by Christianity. But some of their lives were lived well outside the ethics that evangelicals hold. Having extra marital affairs, children out of wedlock, drunkenness, and much more debauchery.

Today’s evangelicals, according to their standards, would not call these men Christian. Today, 241 years since our founding, we seem to look back with rose colored glasses. We are a Christian nation, because we evolved into one, we became one because we worked at it–the gospel took root.

I am glad we are fighting to be a unified nation, under God. It’s been a long hard struggle and Americans have and continue to fight injustice. From heroin to racism, bigotry and beyond–its all our problem.

If we as a nation do not overcome our human injustices and prejudice, we will see missionaries in this nation once again. Bringing the gospel from a far away land, to save the savages. At a time when we appear more interested in devouring one another than engaging in a dialogue with our brothers and sisters across the ideological divide, even the blind know we are headed for the ditch.

Trump can’t make America great again. Only American citizens can! Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world. That’s the first song that always comes to mind from my childhood.

I believe we are standing at the threshold of another great awakening in this country. I pray it’s a full blown revolution. Like our founding fathers, we must revolt against all injustice.

People matter, give another human a chance–you’ll be surprised how much you’ll grow.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken speaks weekly at Spirit Life Church. Visit the Spirit Life Church website to learn more about Ps. Ken and listen to his messages online.

We Need One Another

John 15:4
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

In this passage, we find Jesus talking about His ability to bring life and fruitfulness to all who abide in Him. He speaks of the Father being the husbandman and Himself, the vine. Just as He has total dependency on the Father, we must have total dependency on Him to complete us, if we wish to bear fruit. In other words, we cannot truly succeed alone.

In Genesis God said it is not good for man to be alone. The Father is literally telling us that being alone is bad for our future progress and growth. This statement is not just related to marriage but encompasses the need for healthy relationships in all areas of life. We thrive as a part of something beyond ourselves. Without God, we are dead in trespass and sin. Without each other, we suffer a lonely existence void of celebration and community. To experience life in its fullest expression, we truly need one another.

I have recognized the great value of cultivating healthy relationships time after time in my own life. They help us through difficult times, and they offer a venue to share our joy communally through great times. There is nothing like partnering with people to share life!

In light of this deeply-ingrained need for one another, how should we look at being part of a local assembly? Our place in the corporate context of other believers is vitally important because it’s the only plan God made for our fellowship with each other. If we hope to be fruitful and successful in life, we must learn to work together. There is no escaping the great expectation God has for all believers to coordinate our efforts and learn to bear fruit as a unit, and not just individually.

Over the last few decades, there has been a shift toward idol worship, super-stardom and covetousness throughout the world. Whether in sports, music, television or ministry, there seems to be a longing for the spotlight to validate and authenticate our actions. The concept of team building is being cast by the wayside and the art of networking has become altogether selfish.

Jesus related the Kingdom to a man who cast a net into the sea. If we play with this concept a little we can see the Kingdom rests in the hands of Jesus, and we are the net (or network) being cast in order to bring about a harvest of souls. The net must be whole, complete and strong for maximum impact—the harvest is lost when there are tears and gaps.

The same concept works in our lives individually. We need power relationships and a local assembly to work alongside other believers. Without this structure in place, our results will be greatly limited. We can achieve a level of success individually, but we will never realize the God potential that comes with the corporate dynamic.

In the coming holiday season, find the time to evaluate your value on the various teams you find yourself in. As a parent, sibling, co-worker, parishioner, etc., do you bring what is necessary to bless and support others, or would things work out the same without you? Now is the time we as believers must be willing to engage ourselves! Let this season be a time of transition from self-centered thinking that says “what about me,” and find your refreshing in how you can bring value to the teams you’re on.

If you don’t have strong relationships, a thriving personal network and a place to serve, my prayer is you will not rest until those areas of your life are whole and functional.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken can be found each week at Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Visit the website to check out his sermons and/or learn more about Spirit Life.

Faith That’s Tried

1 Peter 1:7
These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

I’ve always been an all or nothing kind of guy. This tendency has no doubt served me in many ways but in some ways, it sets me up for defeat. For example, when I decide to get on a health kick, I go all out—radical changes to my diet, an hour of cardio a day, gym memberships complete with the latest in work-out apparel, etc. Unfortunately, going from couch potato to triathlete in a week is impossible and attempting such a regimen quickly left me burned out time and again.

So this January I took a new approach. I began implementing small changes into my lifestyle. Things such as starting the day with push-ups or cutting fried foods out of my diet. Small things that only took a little discipline. Not only was it easier to stick with, but when I started to gain small victories in my physical life I found it easier to incrementally build on them. No one has the discipline to go from zero to hero overnight, but if you take exercise the discipline you have to accomplish a small goal, it will grow and soon you’ll be amazed by what you’re capable of. Building discipline in this way is a lot like building faith.

Much like physical exercise strengthens our muscular system and provides us with greater confidence in our physical abilities, the testing and trying of our faith in Christ strengthens our spirits and leaves us with a greater confidence and trust in God’s providence over our lives. Faith that is untried and untested may be true faith, but it is certain to be little faith and will remain so without proper trials.

Throughout my Christian walk I’ve found that faith never prospers so well as when all things seem to be against us. It is when all options are removed that we have the opportunity to wholly trust God. Every believer trusts God to some degree, but it is when the flesh has no confidence in the things of this world that our spirit is free to make a truly powerful connection with the Lord. It is faith that makes this connection and it is faith that grows up in the face of adversity.

In Mark 11 Christ told us that we are to place our faith in God and then we could say to a mountain be removed and cast into the sea and it would obey us. What a powerful picture Jesus has painted for us here. The real power is not found in us, but in the object of our faith which is the Christ the Lord. Our faith in God releases the grace of God which delivers the results we are desparate for. Mountain moving faith depends on absolute confidence in the creator. This is the kind of trust that can only be built in trial fires throughout our Christian walk.

Unfortunately there are many incorrect concepts and doctrines being taught on the subject of faith. I’ve seen men take credit for acts of God based on their own faith. I have also seen people condemned because of their lack of faith. Jesus is our eternal example of redeemed humanity, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and having faith in God. Faith simply builds our divine confidence in God and keeps us properly connected to Him.

Remember that the trying of your faith is working to your benefit and not your detriment. Stay focused on the big picture in your time of need and you will realize that your faith has grown, your need was met, and Jesus is Lord of all.

God Bless.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken speaks weekly at Spirit Life Church. Visit the Spirit Life Church website to learn more about Ps. Ken and listen to his messages online.

Church Unity

There are many books written on the topic and in fact, much of what we read in the New Testament deals with the harmony between the brethren. We are instructed to love, pray for and even serve one another. Though this seems simple enough in theory, the practical application is much harder. Still, maintaining relational, theological and even philosophical unity is imperative to be successful in working together to fulfill God’s great commission. We don’t have to universally agree, but there is a set of unanimity that must be preserved in order for a church to walk together and build together. Unity is the most important asset for a team and must be preserved at all costs! When there is disunity, it must be dealt with. This brings about the question of church discipline and how it should be administered.

Church discipline is an ecclesiastical function that is mandated by the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20. This responsibility was given originally to the Apostles and continues today, falling upon the shoulders of Senior Elders.

This come under the doctrine of spiritual authority. I am not exempting eldership from correction and I do not believe that true spiritual authority creates hierarchies and citizenship structures—the catch with true spiritual authority is that it cannot be exercised beyond a believers willingness to receive it. There is no physical infrastructure to enforce the authority of God’s word like there is with the laws of this nation via the police and the criminal justice system. Whether or not a resolution takes place is up to the individual’s willingness to receive from the leader.

The Purpose of Church Discipline

First, church discipline should seek the restoration and reconciliation of the believer who is going astray. Going astray doesn’t necessarily mean open sin, though it absolutely applies to sinfulness. It can boil down to believers with inappropriate motives and bad attitudes that can affect and infect the entire church if it is not dealt with. As a shepherd this cannot and will not be tolerated. As I already stated, unity is the single greatest asset a group or team can possess and we must protect it.

There is always room for dissent and disagreement in our church but we must go about resolving these issues in a Biblical, loving manner. The good news is that if this is the focus of our actions, most issues can be handled easily. If we have a loving, trusting relationship there shouldn’t be anything we can’t work through! The bad news is that if this isn’t carried out, disagreements and misunderstandings can become toxic and spread to others, provoking offense and hurt feelings that really should never have arisen.

Revelation 12:10 exposes Satan as the accuser of the brethren and I believe it is accusation, not temptation, that is his most potent weapon against us. Satan accuses us and he accuses others in our minds. In no time at all a simple difference of opinion can escalate to full fledged bitterness. Instead of trying to reconcile we find ourselves building a mental case against a friend or leader, preparing for some kind of impending show-down and recruiting alliances across the group. The bottom line is that it never has to go this far and if we could step back from a situation and carry ourselves like mature believers, it wouldn’t!

And so, church discipline cannot be ignored. It must be undertaken in love, but undertaken nonetheless. Frustration, offense and bitterness are all signs of a troubled soul that left unattended, have the potential to do great harm to the unity of a local assembly, potentially even leading the individuals into sin. I know of no ministry that enjoys this particular function of the priesthood, but it is an integral part of spiritual growth. In order to have a Godly church there must be a standard upheld by the entire local assembly. There must be a willingness to seek God and an openness to redirection when necessary.

The Theology of Church Discipline

1) When conflict or sin has come between people, the goal is repentance and reconciliation, along with recompense, if needed.

2) Church leadership must be committed to the reputation of the Gospel and the well-being of the entire church, not just the interests of the individuals who are disgruntled or sinful.

3) Such matters in the church are entrusted to Christian leadership, namely the elders of a local assembly. Leaders must be careful not to abuse in any way the responsibility to oversee the unity of a fellowship of believers. In some situations there may arise an impasse, where people reject the counsel of leadership. This is a situation that must be followed by quick repentance and heart-change in order to preserve fellowship. Open discord is the antithesis of church unity and cannot be allowed to persist if the integrity of the work of God in that local church is to be maintained.

4) Discipline is never pleasant but the finished work will be a unified group of holy people, distinguished clearly from the world by possessing the heart of Christ.

5) For the truth to emerge, the elders must hear firsthand reports from all sides in the dispute before a decision can be reached.

6) Witnesses should be present in any dispute but the most important person to have present, is the one you’re offended with. If you’re qualm is with Brother Jones, why would you talk to Sister Clara about it? Grab a leader, sit down with Brother Jones and work it out! Our shared faith creates this enormous common ground upon which to build a solution—it pains me that we so often turn to school yard antics in the face of conflict.

7) The fellowship of the church is commanded by scripture. God’s people must be reminded that unrepentant sin and unnecessary division are unacceptable to a Holy God. We must look at sin—our own sin and that of others—in the light of God’s grace, forgiving one another and committing to allow Him to help us all grow.

Scripture references: Romans 16:17-18, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, 1 Corinthians 5:13, 1 Corinthians 14:40, 2 Corinthians 2:7, Revelation 2:2, 1 Peter 5:1-5, Hebrews 12:11, Proverbs 16:32, Proverbs 17:27, Acts 15, 2 Timothy 2:14-26, 2 Timothy 1:4-7; 2 Timothy 4:1-8.

Everyone has a choice regarding where they will attend church and with which local assembly they will serve. If the place you serving is not to your liking or you do not respect and trust the leadership, by all means exercise your free will and move on, but don’t allow the enemy to cause you to become an accuser. We only have a short time to labor.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken is the pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Check out the church website for sermons and more!