Honesty time. This post will take a very different style to anything I have written because this is about me personally. Over the past year I have had a pretty trying time emotionally and spiritually. There have been major ups and major downs along the way. I find myself now not really on a new journey, but one that I am on nonetheless. One that I am excited about. But first a little background:
Since I was 5 I could not wait to go to church on Sunday. I would wake my dad early in the morning, all dressed in my Sunday suit to ask what time we were leaving for church. If he said we weren’t going that day I would walk 1km to my friend’s house and catch a ride with them. When we did go I always hoped to be able to go with my dad, who was an elder, to the back room where all the elders and deacons met with the pastor before the service. I loved this more than anything else. I felt like I was part of the special inner-workings of the church.
For 26 years I was a committed Sunday Christian. I basically did almost every job you could think of in the church system.
I worked the parking lot.
I cleaned the toilets.
I managed the resource table.
I caught the slain.
I packed the chairs and swept the floors.
I played in the band.
I lead worship.
I made coffee. I made really good coffee.
I attended prayer meetings.
I led small groups.
I wrote books.
I founded a ministry.
I preached at conferences and churches in 6 different countries.
I was chosen to serve on leadership teams.
I had job offers from churches.
I did outreach into the community.
I taught Sunday school.
The one thing I never did though, was plant a church or pastor it. And I actually came pretty close… But then, about 7 months ago I stopped being a ‘Sunday Christian’ if I can put it like that. I have not been to a Sunday service since, and currently don’t really plan on going anytime soon.
This didn’t of course just happen over night and in the course of my transition major bridges were burned with very close relationships and connections I have built in the past. Granted some of the bridge-burning helped me make my choice to forgo the Sunday service. But to this day I am saddened when I think of those people, to the relationships lost for now. My heart will always be for their dreams to be fulfilled, even if we don’t currently walk side by side as we once did. We each did what we thought right at the time when I made the choice to search for a different expression of church. Words were spoken, some in anger, some in frustration and some in regret, and in the end the relationships ended. Badly.
Since then I have gone through stages of being critical and angry, at myself, at the leaders I had a falling out with, at church in general, at God even in someways. Did I say things that I regret during these times? Of course. And since I have a rather public voice it means what I said travelled pretty far and that unfortunately has led to some people thinking I no longer value local church. Nothing could be further from the truth. But it also didn’t help the possibility of mending those burned bridges anytime soon…
Then about 4 months ago I was invited along to a home group meeting, a small group of one of the bigger churches here in Hong Kong. The people I met there have become like family to me in these few short months. And contrary to what some might think, I am very committed to my local church. I have never attended their corporate Sunday service, and like I said I am not planning to anytime soon. I still have things to work out…
We meet in a building (a house is a building after all) every week and we sing and share teachings, we talk, discuss, laugh and cry. We bring testimonies, share prayer requests and food. Oh do we eat! I have found a community of believers who actually do life together, who desire real, honest and transparent relationships. They loved me even with the baggage I came with. They actually loved me despite the baggage I came with. They knew my story, they knew what happened in the past year. They knew how I felt about church at that time. Yet they opened their arms, their homes, their lives and said, come in, and come find yourself again.
To such love I can be committed. To such acceptance I can not add. They might not know it, but they restored in me a hope I thought lost. And more than that, maybe beyond what they actually realise, they are a very real expression of what I now believe church is really meant to be.
I no longer hold any grudges against the people with whom I had a falling out during my transition. I am no longer angry. I forgive them. I bless them. I pray that grace and peace be multiplied to them. And if it ever happens that our bridges may be restored, I will welcome it gladly and I will be overjoyed. We will most probably still define certain things differently and place more value in different things, but we are family nonetheless and I love them regardless.
To those who have walked beside Rensia and I during this time knowing a little more about what was going on, thank you for your prayers, emails, calls, advice, council and love. We love and appreciate you all more than you know.
So as I continue on my journey outside of the typical Sunday church I will share what I find, what I see and what I experience, as I have always done through this blog. Perhaps not always as personal, I don’t know. I also might not see things the same as many of my friends who still go to Sunday church and that is actually ok by me. We might strongly disagree and on certain topics and we might strongly agree on others. Even in disagreement nobody needs to end relationships. If we have to agree to disagree, then lets rather do that than destroy the relationship.
So to end, my message is not one that is anti-local church. My message is Christ and Him crucified, as it has been and will always be. So when you read what I might write, I pray you will realize I am now more for local church than I ever was in the 26 years before. I do not plan to write much about church in general, and I also don’t like to make the distinction between organic church and institutional church as others prefer to do. But I will make distinctions between freedom and religion. I also understand that one man’s freedom might look like religion or rebellion to another, but that is a story for another time…
“The free person in Christ and the rebellious will always look the same to those who labor under religious obligation, because both ignore the conventions that govern men and women. But there is a major difference between the two. The rebel does it to serve himself and his passions, always harming others in the process and leaving a wake of anarchy behind him. The free person in Christ, however, does so because they no longer have a need to serve themselves. Having embraced God’s love at a far deeper level than any method of behavioral conformity will touch, they will guard that freedom even if it means others will misunderstand their pursuits. They reject the conventions of control not to please themselves, but Father Himself.” ~ Wayne Jacobsen
Grace and peace to you all!
I am blessed to be going to South Africa to visit my family during March. Yay! This will be the second time in 6 years that I will see them. Double Yay!
Since I will be gone, I won’t be posting much during that time, so I decided to open the influence I have to you guys. What I mean is, I want you guys to write truth and spread freedom through this blog. So I am opening the floor for you to send me your own articles to be featured right here on this blog. We have built a pretty big social reach over the years, so your nugget of truth will potentially be seen by a couple of thousand people right around the world!
I will load them up as they come in and schedule them to be posted during the month of March and perhaps beyond depending on the response I get… Obviously there are a few guidelines I would like you to stick to:
- Keep it short, simple and to the point. 500-800 words Max.
- Keep it Christ-centred.
- If you are a blogger, be sure to include the back links to your blog so I can include them in the post.
Ok, so there were only 3 guidelines. You can write about anything you want. Jesus, Grace, Healing, Identity, Discipling, Church, Freedom, Testimonies, Stories, Ponderings, Musings, Poetry whatever you want! You can even submit more than one article if you want.
You can send you articles to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have pictures you would like to include in the article, please attach them too. Oh, and please remember to give your article a header that will make readers want to read it. And let me know what country you’re from too!
Ok, if you have any questions, ask in the comments below.
I have just received a few extra free promo days from Amazon so I am making my books available for free to you all again! Starting tomorrow, for the next 3 days you can download the kindle versions for free and for nothing! The exact dates are from midnight to midnight 17 Feb until 19 Feb Pacific Standard Time. Please help spread the word so everybody who wants a free copy can get their hands on one!
If you don’t have a kindle device you can download the kindle software to most any computer, smartphone and tablet for free. Click here for more info.
Click the share button below and let your friends know!
Grace and Peace!
Here are some popular highlights from So You Think Your Mind Is Renewed?
“Grace is more than unmerited and unearned favor. It is unmerited and unearned life, forgiveness, redemption, provision, healing, protection, peace, wholeness, freedom and so much more.”
“If you recognize lack, you will always look to your problem and not to your Provider.”
“If you want or need exponential increase, thank God for what you have and start giving it away! It is in the giving away that the multiplication manifests.”
And here are few popular highlights from Administering The Children’s Bread.
“Everything you believe about salvation is exactly true for healing too. Both are always God’s will at all times because both were provided for in the same atoning sacrifice.”
“Covenant governs relationship. The covenant you are under determines how God relates to you and how you relate to God. Don’t relate to Him through a covenant that is not applicable to you.”
“Because we are and know who we are, we do. We don’t do to become. Our identity is found in Christ alone, not in our deeds. Whether we succeed or fail, we remain the righteousness of God in Christ.”