My first introduction to Jesus - that is, the first time I came into contact with Him where I recognized that He was calling me - was when I was 11. I went forward at a summer camp "revival meeting" because I knew Someone was speaking to my heart and prompting me to respond. That brief encounter with Christ didn't last though and I soon got into rock music, drugs and rebellion.
After many years of aimless drifting through life, I was reintroduced to Jesus Christ when I went to see Josh McDowell's Evidence for Faith video series. I had heard much about the Bible as a child - I had gone to an Assemblies of God "church" with my mom and spent 6 years in an inter-denominational Christian school after my first experience with Christ - but this time, Christ was again speaking to my heart and prompting me to respond to Him.
I did respond. At that time, I started attending an institutional "non-denominational" "church" because I thought that was what God would want of me. I attended all three of their weekly Bible studies, two of their smaller group fellowships, and studied God's word voraciously by reading and writing down what I learned. But, though I didn't fully understand it at the time, I soon discovered that "church" was not the answer. I was still hungering for something more.
That hunger led me to try other fellowships - one of which was an independent home fellowship led by a lady with some strange, pseudo-hyperfaith teachings. These teachings led me to having notions that, by knowing what prayers to pray, what actions to take, etc., I would then be able to expect certain things from God. In a weird way, I came to be in charge of my own spiritual walk, in essence subconsciously (no, this never comes to the forefront of one's thinking in those circles!) supposing myself able to manipulate God - and what a disaster it proved to be!
At any rate, after being spiritually shipwrecked for a couple of years, God graciously drew me back to Himself. I returned to the first "church" I had been attending because I did not know anywhere else to go. The "pastor" of this fellowship seemed to teach the word with reasonable accuracy (or at least so I thought at the time) and so I got more involved with the "church" again. I became involved with one of their home fellowships, entered their ministry school, and even went to Moscow, Russia on a short-term missions trip. During this time, I was also continuing to personally pursue God by a lot of reading and writing relating to the word of God. A portion of what I have written and put on the webpage, although edited and changed somewhat since then, comes from this period of my life. It was this study and writing, combined with my experience in Russia, that God used to begin to reveal to me the abysmal condition of the American "church."
When I was in Moscow, I met non-Christian Russians who had more depth of character than Christian Americans. And I could see Russians who were being Americanized that were losing their depth of character. God revealed to me that this depth in Russians and shallowness in Americans was a result of the work of patience and suffering - in the Russians, it was the presence of these factors, in the Americans, it was their absence.
Another aspect of my deep questioning revolved around the notion that there was an "American gospel" - one tainted with materialism and carnality - that the Russians didn't need - something which we were told repeatedly while in Moscow. Well, in my mind, if the Russians didn't need it, why did the Americans? So I started looking at my "church" and asking the question, "What is wrong with this picture?" And God started revealing answers. Needless to say now, that didn't go over well with the leadership of the "church."
From the suffering inflicted upon me by status-quo "church" leaders because of my questions, and through the restorative relationships I have been led into within the true Body of Christ as a result, God is now bringing me into a place of sharing His life, light and truth with all those who love and hunger for the truth and righteousness of God. It is with my whole life that I serve God (as unprofitable as that may be for God, that is what He asks of me). And, after all He has done for me, how could I give any less?
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