The spiritual journey became alive in me at the age of 17. Prior to that time life was average, church occasionally, prayer occasionally, and sin a regular lifestyle. I knew of God through friends and family but did not KNOW him.
Soon after accepting, my friends and I began our spiritual walks with Christ and started attending a local church. Coincidentally, a vacation bible school was going on and we were able tell the leaders what great things God and Jesus was doing in our lives. We were given tremendous freedom by the people there to share on a regular basis what God was doing. Several ministers allowed us to accompany them in their ministries and share at revivals.
As time progressed, my friends and I could not get enough of God’s word. We loved what God had done and wanted to know more. We would attend any church service and constantly listen to Christian TV and radio. Sometimes we were greatly encouraged and sometimes not due to varying doctrines.
Unfortunately we did not know how to study our bibles and would pick parts of verses to make our creeds. Some of our leaders would not understand how in the world we came to the conclusions we came to. We did so in the name of “revelation”.
Through a few other friends, we were presented with an opportunity to go to another church youth group on Thursday nights. Their were lots of young people there, something that we did not have much of at our services. We began to regularly attend, while still being committed to our home base.
As time passed, we were interested in the new churches’ services and went a few times. They were much more contemporary than the home churches’ services. At the home church, the worship had a country feel or sound.
I went one day and expressed to the pastor at the new congregation of a desire to possibly begin attending.
The home congregation, although reluctant, allowed us to follow our desires and try the other congregation. The new congregation was upbeat, lively, new. There were lots of young people, all crowded in a tiny room. It was obvious that this place had become too small for the numbers. We were happy with the new-found friends we had acquired while in the new place. We were also enamored by how busy everything and everyone was.
In a short time, minister friends of the new pastor would come or be invited to speak.
They would encourage the board members and congregation to support their ministers and their congregation by putting up money for the new building, new vehicles and a new home for the ministers (I was in agreement with this then as I still am now- We should support the needs of ministers and give). However as more ministers came, the message became very clear. In addition to biblical principles mentioned above, everyone was encouraged to give above and beyond their means for excessive things. References were even made about Solomon’s temple and those people coming from far and wide to give. Focus would be placed more on the outward appearance than on the inward.
It all came to a head one night when a friend and former roommate from college challenged me on what I was living and preaching. He would challenge me to be noble, as the Berean believers in Acts 17:11, who would search the scriptures daily to find out if what was being preached was actually true. Our conversation would spark a six-month withdrawal from activities both social and religious. A time in which I would fast and pray and read and study sometimes 6 hours a day. I would ponder these things and see that a good sixty percent of what was being preached was clearly not so. Our lives were just as excessive as our message was.
At one point, as I sat down with some colleagues and we hashed over what scripture says about the excesses of money and nonexistence of the tithe. One friend in particular said that he saw what scripture plainly pointed out but was unwilling to confront the pastor. He did not want to lose his position in the church for he had always desired to be paid as a full time minister and knew that tithing was the main source of income in that local church. It mattered more to him to conform than to confront.
Since money related issues were so emphasized, this was the majority of what was studied. Other topics would soon be researched and most often proven to be full of misinterpretations.
Much of the site in the Topic List
is geared towards money scriptures that have been taken out of context.
I present the same challenge to you. Be noble as those were in the early church. Study everything you hear according to God’s word, the final authority. Read the verses surrounding a scripture to establish the writer’s goals and to find true context. Familiarize yourself with the history of the believers especially in the book of Acts. Look closer at the transition from old covenant to new in the book of Hebrews and in the four gospels.
If you have already left a Word-of-Faith church because of abuses or false teaching, God will not abandon you. He loves you and is not finished working in you. You may feel cold, dead, alone, bitter, or condemned. These are natural feelings. They run their course. All of the bloggers here are in some way connected and feel or have felt just like you do. Keep pursuing God as your heart leads but don’t condemn yourself if you miss a month of Sundays or a decade of them. Some people heal differently than others.