Saturday, October 11, 2008

I've Left My Church Pt.4.....Conclusion

So I've packed my stuff up and I'm heading back to Detroit. I'm telling you I woke that morning around 9:30 or 10 am, and that was the fastest I had packed anything. I've taken whole nights just to pack two bags for flights to golf tournaments around the country.

As I head out, and begin the 14 hour drive back (not all at once...7 hours to cousin's house in WV, spend the night, and finish the other 7 the next day), thoughts run through my mind of "Am I making the right decision? Am I disobeying God? Am I going to get punished by God for not staying over the summer like I said God told me to?...and I did believe God told me those good ol impressions and voices in my head, as well as pressure from other people in the church to show my dedication to the ministry.

Now this is interesting as well but as I was standing in my room at the ministry house, looking over the room to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything, I distinctly remember a thought go across my mind saying "you won't be back"...well I just threw it out of my mind as I thought it was "the enemy"

It was at that time, now that I have reflected on it, that this was God leading me, even though I didn't actively know it. I had thoughts that I was disobeying but it seemed that I had come up with excuses to to my pastor as to why I was leaving. Remember, I had no knowledge at this from the Word and other resources as to the things that were going on that seemed to bother me. I actually came up with a good reason that I was just coming home for three months to save up some money and to get my wisdom teeth out and I would be back. And actually, I really intended to do that (and I did get my wisdom teeth out...not as bad as I thought it would be).

So as I'm on the first leg of the trip, it was actually relaxing in a way. I tell you driving through those mountains of Virginia and West Virginia is truly a beautiful sight to see. I had worship and praise music on and did a lot of praying and thinking.

But I just felt like ok, I'm doing the right thing.

So I get back home the next day, and I was so happy to be back home, you wouldn't know. Here is where the journey REALLY was about to start.

After getting my wisdom teeth pulled and recovering from that, I started looking for jobs. I was committed to my plan of saving money and going back to Virginia. One thing that stuck out to me that may have confirmed I wasn't supposed to stay in Virginia was that I couldn't find the simplest of jobs so I could stay in the ministry house and pay rent. I couldn't get hired as a waiter, dish washer, ANYTHING.

But anyways, while looking for a job in Detroit which is so hard, I realized I had A LOT of free time. This is when I began using this time to get in my Word more than I had ever gotten into before in my life. I had no job, no money, so even though I didn't spend all day reading I spent 1, 2, 3 hours at a time a lot of days and also a lot of days I would just open it throughout the day, read a chapter, come back later and read again.

I believe my first step in coming to where I was now was this "will of God", that seemed so elusive and hard to find for me and my christian friends. Now in all my reading of the Bible, the only instances I hear of the will of God come in the form of something that implies that we already know what it is and that we are to do it. These verses are perfect examples:

John 7:17

If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

Acts 20:27

For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.

Acts 22:14

"Then he said: 'The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his

Colossians 1:9

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Colossians 4:12

Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.

Hebrews 10:7

Then I said, 'Here I am&emdash;it is written about me in the scroll&emdash; I have come to do your will, O God.' "

Hebrews 10:36

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

1 Peter 4:2

As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

1 John 2:17

The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

1 John 5:14

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

Now these verses explicitly make statements about doing the will of God. My question came as, ok the God never tells us how to find it. There is no method in the BIBLE to find out what God's will is for our lives. What I did notice that many MEN claimed to have formulas and steps to finding the will of God. I started coming to a conclusion although I wasn't completely sure of it. I concluded that the way I was being taught how to find God's will for my life wasn't in the bible at all. We never read about Paul or Peter or anyone in the Bible trying to figure out what God has planned for their lives. Second, I concluded that it is selfish and puts the focus on ME.

What am I supposed to do next?
What college should I go to?
Who should I marry?

Now this seems all fine and dandy, but first of all, with this view, we are basing the view of God's individual will for our lives in terms of it turning out good. For example, if I ask God who to marry, and I believe God has told me to marry Susie as it is God's perfect will for my life, and later on in the marriage, Susie becomes severely ill and now I have to take care of her 24/7 because she cannot move or anything, was that God's will? Did I make a mistake? I would hope that wouldn't be the thinking but how do you test whether or not you're in God's will? There are sooooo many instances in the bible where God's will for a person's life was to suffer aka Job, aka Hosea.

Third, I realized there is a will of God for believers and that it can be found right in God's Word and it's not lost. I heard of Gary Frieson's book "Decision Making and the Will of God" as I had started reading other people's thoughts on this subject on other blogs. It was a good read and everything was backed up scripturally. After this I firmly believed that God's will for the believer is to be saved through Jesus Christ, that believers be sanctified, that they be submitted, spirit filled and spirit led as in Ephesians 4, and suffering for His name. If we are doing all these things and making decisions according to these things and using wisdom as well, then there is no agonizing over what to do next as if you are doing these things, God is the one in control of your life and controlling your desires, and He will lead you where He needs you to be and you're walking by faith knowing that He's doing that.

So after this breakthrough I obviously now saw that I disagreed with the common view at our church that WE have to find out what God's will is for our lives or we could miss it and just throw God's plans off. Actually that now sounded funny to me that we, the created by God for His glory and purpose, the clay so to speak, could derail God's plans because we didn't search hard enough or pray hard enough.

Even with this new outlook on God's will, I wasn't gungho to leave the ministry as it was just a different viewpoint.

So step forward to around early July. Still reading more people's thoughts on the will of God, I was somehow led to where Pastor Bob Dewaay had an article on Personal words from God. I read some more articles about common problems in the church today and how we need to get back to sola scriptura. I was also looking for info on Todd Bentley's fiasco and I was led to many sites talking about this Charismatic movement that I had never heard of.

So I do some research on what the Charismatic movement is, and I was stunned that a lot, not all, of characteristics fit my church. There was no gold dust or anything, but the people in the church were adamantly excited about Todd Bentley and the couple in Atlanta I found out are part of several organizations which have people like Mike Bickle and Lou Engle at the head of them. They are part of the Latter Rain Movement and that is such a long topic to get into so please look into it for yourself.

So I notice all these characteristics and it started clicking and making sense as to why I would not want to do stuff in in the past or I would get feelings of nausea or nervousness when things like spiritual warfare would go on or the mis speaking of tongues and basically all the emphasis on the spiritual realm. Also the high performance driven culture at the church. It was always taught that we are not saved by works, but it seemed exactly like what we were doing.

I felt like I had to go to every single event and help out at everything or I was missing out on God. When looking at other people I felt I wasn't laying my life down enough.

It was a relieving feeling but at the same time I didn't want to fully accept it because well, I loved the people at the church.

Now this church wasn't abusive with power or hungry for money or anything like that, but again it felt like everybody was sold out to the ministry. The ministry was everything but of course God is at the head of the ministry so we're doing all this for Him. The ministry, the ministry, the ministry. I began to wonder, if this ministry decided to leave or disappear, would we feel like we are serving God? Would we be able to live out this christian faith with just fellowshipping with one another?

Don't get me wrong, I believe church to be very important, but it seems like America's church culture, serving God, pleasing God, and "fellowshipping" revolves around activities and events. As long as you're busy for Christ, you're doing fine, when in actuality, you could be doing everything you wanna do for Christ, and still not be anything and miss the whole point of this Christian faith which is God conforming us to the image of His Son.

So as I'm finding all this stuff out and how similar my church was to charismatic churches, I then have a talk with one of my good friends and somehow he stated that he had some questions about some things as well at the church.

I couldn't believe it. Finally somebody I could talk to about this!!

I wasn't totally sure though yet so I let him continue and it turned out we were definitely on the same page. I found out that my other friend in the church was also talking with him and he had the same questions and concerns as well. The teachings on salvation, the extra biblical revelation, the misuse of the gifts, etc.

It also turned out we had been reading the same exact websites for references. These two also left with me about a month ago and you wanna know another odd thing? We didn't consult each other about these things, but during the school year, those two were always the ones riding with me in my car to all the church events. I now know that God had a reason for us becoming good friends during this time as our support for each other has been so helpful during these past four months.

So we continue to just gather more and more info, just in our Word more and more and I finally hear that one of them had talked to the pastor and officially resigned. Two weeks later, the other one did. A week later, I did. I went through a couple of phone calls and email exchanges with the pastor and he said some of the stuff I was concerned about like Atlanta for example was valid but that was for people who wanted more of God.

More of God? I thought the closest we could get to God was being saved through His Son. Was His work not complete? Do we have to add more to it? Now I'm not saying we just get saved and chill. Salvation is a lifetime process in which God sustains us and gives us the strength to work it out. But do I have to do other things to "get more of God"? It subtlely creates levels of christians. The ones in ATL are definitely getting more from God than someone who is not there. It's not stated but that's the only logical conclusion one can come up with. Also the pastor allowing them to continue to be part of organizations with false prophets was just not acceptable. And I can't forget about the experiences that I had which so messed with my faith and my spirit.

So ultimately after hard and agonizing thinking over whether I should stay or not, I resigned. Again the pastor is one of the nicest people I've ever known and there were no hard feelings or rudeness or "you're going to get judged by God" talk. I realize that with a lot of stories I've read, my exit could've been a lot worse.

And you already know the story with the girl which was the hardest thing to do. It seemed I had been praying and asking God for a godly woman, she came, and then it was over just like that.

So here I am now. Recovering...sort of. My recovery is in terms of getting over the feelings of absolute loneliness and making sure my faith is grounded in Christ, not a church or experiences. Oh and yes I am a reformed christian now. I believe salvation is totally of God and not of man's own power.

I know God has led me to this point even though these feelings of isolation and loneliness seem to much to bear at times.

I'm glad I will be heading down to my school's homecoming to see my other friends for a weekend. God has also blessed me with a $20 an hour job in my field (Graphic Design) in one of the toughest job markets in the country.

I have a church here, but not many people my age so that is difficult although I plan on asking my pastor if it's ok if I can lead the young people's group (the few there are...18-25) as the former leader has moved out of state.

But my confidence is in the Lord as Proverbs says, and let's see how things have turned out in a year or so.



getting there said...

Excellent article!!! You nailed this one to the tee!! I will comment further on monday. . but I thought I'd quickly comment on this particular one that you have written is at the heart of it all! I really relate to this :) chat on monday!

Set Free said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog. I read through almost the whole thing today. I know exactly what you mean by having those questions in your heart and feeling like something is not right, but going along with it anyway. I've learned that if there is a question, it's there for a reason. If something doesn't seem right, then it probably isn't.

I was involved in a church that was very performance oriented and we were expected to be at every meeting and participate in everything they did - you're right when you say that you begin to lose sight of your relationship with God. Now that I'm away from all of it, I feel like I've "returned to my first love - Jesus." (Rev. 2:5)

Thanks for sharing your story!

3D said...

getting there

Thanks for the comment!!

set free

I enjoy your blog as well. Your posts also relate to a lot that I experienced and you make a point about if you have a question about something, it's there for a reason. I wish I would've realized that sooner but all in God's timing of course.

getting there said...

I especially relate to where our church or should I say the Xpastor would often pray for 'more of God' and you really nailed it when you said that isn't what Jesus did for us enough? I have been taking two steps forward and three steps back but it is getting better! More and more things keep coming to the forefront.. it is scary sometimes.. but its a good thing! I keep having flash backs on the Xchurch or clb (church left behind). the things said and done.. I'm am detoxing Big Time and I am glad to read your story and your progress!