Been here- done that. I’ve been hit over the head with Hebrews 10 so many times, I have a permanent bump. I used to defend myself, , but one time, an answer Popped out of my mouth so quickly it surprised me. Now I tell them “I’ve been freed of the need.” Doesn’t that have a Wonderful Religious Ring to it? So far, it’s stopped the attack cold. I don’t know why, but I’m not questioning it either. Maybe some day it will open a door to a Good discussion.
Hi To Everyone!
I know I’m a bit late to the party, but would like to join anyway. I had intentions of participating when you first began, but life got in the way. I first learned of “The God Journey” and “Lifestream” about a year ago and listened to and read the older newsletters with great enthusiasm. My husband and I are empty nesters and have one married son who is an associate pastor at a “missionary focused” church. It is a bit ironic that it was he who actually introduced us to “NT ekklessia” several years ago, but for reasons I know he feels sure of he has chosen to belong to an IC. We live in a bedroom community outside beautiful Raleigh NC and although we’ve resided here for more than 30 years we don’t have many friends. I am shy and a bit of an introvert and have always had trouble in that area. My husband would (and does) speak to anyone, always. It’s probably a southern thing as I am not a “native” like him which doesn’t help when you’re not involved with a church community.
I was “raised” catholic, but I’ve been a Jesus followerer for about 21 years. My husband and I have been in and out (mostly out) of the IC for over 15 years. From the very beginning of our IC journey we almost never felt at ease and questioned so many things that we were asked (politely) to leave the very first IC we joined. We kept asking ourselves if this was all there is what’s so great about it? We would take a break from “churchianity” only to return due to loneliness, guilt, or wanting to serve somehow. Our last IC was a place most appealing to our “needs” and “wants”, but we still knew the body of Christ was NOT an organization, nor a business, nor an institution and that there was something more to “Christ in me, the hope of glory”.
What delayed my involvement here this past May when you began the book was the pull towards a super group of believers (former church friends) that asked us to help “lead” them in a home group. We made the commitment and began to pray and study and pray some more about how to move forward. We met with these 6 couples approximately 3-4 different times just for fellowship which was fine, but we knew they wanted a more defined purpose in meeting and we were all praying how best to see this unfold. Hubby and I were both in agreement that He was finally opening the door to true community. Wahoo!
I sent an email out last week to the group’s home hosts outlining some details about the options available in how to handle some “housekeeping” (figuratively speaking) issues and explained how excited we were to be a part of this group and what He was doing. I got a reply the next day that they changed their plans. They had recently gotten very involved in church and hosting the group would be too much for them to take on right now. WOW! I looked at my husband and said, “I’m through!” Now I know that it wasn’t personal and it may not have anything to do with the IC, but I am just tired of trying to “find” church or be a part of “fellowship” or feeling like I’m supposed to be doing something because that’s what Christians do.
These past 15 years I’ve been through the stage of “this is great, not having to go to church”. I then went through the “We’ll be praying for your soul” phase. And then the “really ticked off at pastoral/leadership authority” stage and then I finally got to the “extending grace to those who don’t see as I do” stage. Which is where I’m currently at. I can’t be upset with them because they believe differently. I hope they are content where they are as I am where I’m at. I know in my heart that Jesus never intended for His bride to look like the modern day IC and no matter how hard I want to be a part of something that seems spiritual and appears to be relational and looks like they’re serving the lost and hungry it has never lived up to what I truly believe it was meant to be.
I’ve read, followed or listened to everything I could regarding genuine community. Milt Rodriguez, Frank Viola, Neil Cole and others and I know it’s not about what people say or write, but what He’s calling me to. I know that I know there’s more, much more and I’m so hungry for it it hurts. It just does seem so elusive sometimes because either we try too hard instead of letting go and allowing Him to steer, or we sit back and wait for the “nudge” which we’ve obviously misconstrued way too many times and in turn miss out altogether.
I know God loves me. I’m learning this truth more and more, especially since my husband lost his job 2 years ago and we went without a paycheck for also 11 months. I have had health issues since a serious injury at 19 and trust is a constant companion when living with chronic pain. We’re still trying to learn to live in this new “normal” of existing on 1/2 our income, but it’s brought us both to a better place spiritually. He’s taught us both a lot about leaning on His understanding instead of our own. About what really matters. We would just like to find a few fellow sojourners that seek the simplicity of living loved to navigate the road with. As with others here it’s difficult. I’m truly grateful I have a living God who is dwells within me.
Sorry I went long. Hope to gain insight, friends and a whole lotta Him. Thanks.
Jo from Apex, NC
Jo, thanks for sharing your story. It seems to be okay to go long here; we couldn’t know much about you in a paragraph. We’ve been without a steady income for over eight months now. I was just thinking this afternoon, I’d sure like to be someplace where we can have friends. . . . . . . I was waiting in the exam chair at the eye doctor’s this morning and remembering times in the past when things worked out despite what appeared to be insurmountable odds. But I’d be a liar if I said this is fun and games right now. Waiting is hard. And I’m not even sure what we are waiting for. Just know we have to move soon. You are certainly right about leaning on His understanding.
Welcome to the discussion group.
I live a little ways off the other side of Raleigh to the east… I also have a friend that is on this journey, and he lives off the south side of Raleigh.
It has been a lonely journey for me at times also, but maybe we aren’t as alone as we might think.
I have been going through the intros and trying to get caught up with who’s who and take in all the great advice, suggestions and words of encouragement. Might take me awhile, but time is something I’ve got plenty of. Beth, I’m sorry about your situation and I can certainly understand your concerns about how the future will unfold. The first 6 months of no income I was beside myself with worry. Of course I convinced myself and all those around me that I trusted Father, but inside I was sick with anxiety. Then one day I read this devotional and everything changed.
"The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, deserted island. He prayed fervently for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none came. Exhausted, he eventually built a small hut out of driftwood as a shelter and a place to store his few remaining possessions.
One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke billowing up to the sky. Everything was lost. Stunned with grief and anger, he cried, “God, how could You do this to me?” Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” the weary man asked. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.
God is always at work in our lives, even during our most stress-filled moments. When we entrust everything we are and everything we have to Him, when we depend upon His truth instead of our own understanding and choose to walk in obedience, He promises to “make our paths straight.” No matter how deep the valley, we can count on God for direction.
Valleys are best faced with a total abandonment to the Shepherd of the valley. How many times have we danced with joy on the mountaintop and then moaned and complained in the valley?
God is Lord of the mountain and the valley.
I suspect that the most powerful life is lived in the valley – not on the mountaintop. Every valley is surrounded by mountains. Every valley has a Shepherd, a Shepherd who will walk with us through the valley, and a Shepherd who will go before us, leading us out of the valley.
No matter where you are today, your Father is there. No matter how deep or long the valley, He is with you, waiting for you to surrender all."
After reading this I realized I felt the same as the lone survivor, abandoned by God and wondering why He would allow so much pain and grief and heartache in my life. Wasn’t it enough that I live with chronic pain? And then the job loss. Wasn’t that enough? And then abandoned by family and friends. Enough Lord! What does all this mean? And then He answered. He reminded me of all the times I claimed that everything I have is really His and all the times I sing out, "You give and take away, but my heart will choose to say Lord blessed be Your name and all the times I claimed that I’d give my life for Him. So if I was willing to die for Him why wasn’t I willing to give up my stuff for Him, my home, my security, my health for Him? Wow! It’s easy to say we’d allow a gunman to shoot us to stand up for our faith, but maybe because we know where we’ll be within moments, but to give up our comforts and our things? No, no! Don’t touch my stuff! It’s ALL His anyway. If He chooses to remove it from my life He has a reason that will always work out for my good and that’s what I put my faith in. He is with us waiting for us to surrender ALL.
I pray Beth that the God of all comfort holds you in His arms and brings you peace through this valley.
Jo, you are a dear to go to the trouble to write all that out for me. And I needed it right now! Bless you!
Sometimes I feel like such a phony. I trust, yet I don’t. I still feel like I have to say the right things before I’m chastised by “whomever” out there. Gotta stay one step ahead of Them. Has God got it in for me when I fall short? Maybe it’s all my fault we’ll freeze to death without electric because I bought one too many books on Amazon trying to find sense through all this mess called church!!! Shame on me. If we don’t freeze to death we’re sure to starve first. Then I get a grip and tell that little voice to shut up!!! It does. . . . . for a while. Then it starts up again. The voice asks me things like, Are you sure you believe all this trust stuff, or are you really just in gross denial? You’d better start looking for that homeless shelter that takes families!!! The most dangerous thing is to get out the mental calculator and start figuring out all the expenses we might have twenty or thirty years down the road. Gotta get a grip. Remind myself again, it’s not the circumstances. It’s about Jesus. Look up!!!
I’m grateful for your prayer. I appreciate your sharing that word with me. . . . . . Monday will be a big day. If we haven’t heard from any of the other opportunities, we will dive into house-hunting whole hog. So many variables to all appearances. Overwhelmed. We need the Lord to make the way especially clear.
Beth - will be praying for you and your family on Monday.
I sure appreciate that. I was just washing dishes and going round in my head about this whole thing. I’d better be grateful we have a roof over our heads tonight and a freezer full of food. Gotta give it a break! Don’t even know what to ask for now. . . . . . . simply the Lord’s direction. Thanks, Bob.
I have also been praying for you often Beth knowing you and your family are going through such difficult circumstances.
Federal Way Washington State
Johanna, thank you. The sweetest calm came over me this afternoon, and I had a sense that there must be people praying. I am so grateful. I was just reading Oliver Price’s book, The Power of Praying Together. Wonderful. Someone can write the simplest things, and they just spring alive off the page one day. We know God answers prayer, but sometimes we become aware He REALLY answers. Ya’ know?? Thanks, again, for your concern.
Several of you have told me you’re praying for our family right now. I’ve never even seen your faces! But I want you to know I’m grateful. Thank you! I don’t have a clue what’s happening right now, just the sense (a nudge?) that something is . . . . . . you know? My husband had planned to take off on the great house-hunt today, but he hasn’t, yet. It’s one of those times I just know not to ask. Moment by moment, like the song says. God bless!
Beth in the Texas panhandle
If there is some Tangible way we can help tide you over, please let us know. We always try to have a little something available for such times. Meanwhile- hugs & prayers for continued peace in the middle of all this Storm.
Thank you. You are an encourager! God must have foreseen [rather - God DID foresee] this time, and we do have more savings than normal. Friends outside the present mess are paying utilities which takes some pressure off because there are no jobs nearby. It’s so hard on the bread-earner to be without a paycheck. He has always worked hard to take care of us. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not the last of God’s provision. The biggest quandary is, what’s next? Where to go and what to do? We don’t want to make a dumb move that would cost us. Renting is out. At the moment, a really good option has not surfaced. We need to be sure to see it when it does! We are doing everything we can to follow up on things that might lead in a good direction. And we feel a bit under the gun to prove to anyone who might think that we are dragging our feet that we are not. Nothing remotely reasonable has opened up. Figure we just haven’t hit on it, yet.
I’m really thinking a lot about this matter of knowing the Lord’s will. Have about decided that there are times He has very specific things in mind for a person/s to do - like a point man going ahead of others. But more often, I’m wondering if He doesn’t give us a lot of room to decide what’s what at that time. Try it! See where it goes! Choices. If He gives us the freedom to love Him, why wouldn’t He give us the freedom to choose paths we’d really like to take? Or maybe it’s not about the path after all??
There is a part of me that can’t imagine ever getting out of “ministry” in some form or fashion; there is another part that is scared half out of my wits. What if hubs is offered another church and they turn out to be awful? I don’t want to do this again. But they could turn out to be nice people and we might have a blast. There actually are some churches that aren’t horror shows. . . . . . .But the alternative is so attractive. I like the whole Finding Church thing, but my husband isn’t exactly on board. I don’t want to have my way if it means he can’t “join” by his own choice; he’s a brilliant, thoughtful person who is not at all sloppy in his thinking and commitments. Even when we didn’t have a church, he’d attend somewhere. I usually went with him when I could. Really enjoy the country church we go to right now.
This may sound kinda’ wacko, but we were watching a movie earlier on YouTube (our evening supper routine these days). Angela Lansbury played a charwoman who scrimped and saved for three years to go to Paris and buy herself a Dior gown just for the pure fun of it. It was a sweet movie. She crossed paths with many folks, righted wrongs, reunited families, and played a little matchmaking on the side. All the nice people won in the end. Charming! The thought flashed across my mind: I wish church was more like that. Things work out nice and people are happy. They all partied and rejoiced with her when the dress was finally fitted and finished. Then another thought came on the tail of the first. What if we really did give it all up and start over? Just enjoy doing whatever we needed to do. No more previewing every word that comes out of my mouth before I say it. Maybe he’d be so relaxed when he gets out from under this mess, he might really like being out. Could God use all those years and years of study in a different way? Would it all be a waste, or will it still count? We might have to come to an understanding about the attending bit. We wouldn’t turn our backs on the Lord – just give “the pastorate” a break. Find church AT Walmart instead of feeling that pressure to insert an innocent, non-offensive invitation TO church. Put a whole new spin on the house-hunting. Instead of getting out of here under pressure, we might really GO someplace. It’s a thought. Or maybe I just need a mental vacation. Hmmm.
All that to say, I think something has to give soon. We’re praying and looking. Many people are keeping us in prayer and looking, too. One friend called on vacation yesterday; he was looking for housing in another state!! It’s wild, and I bless his effort. I hope something very obvious pops up soon. . . . . When I met my husband I knew with every assurance that he was the person God had given me. Even back in the far recess of my heart where I can be very honest with myself. Not one doubt or second guessing. But most other decisions have not been so 100% clear. We’d come to a time a decision had to be made - best we could tell - and we made it. I figure that the God who inspired the Word and preserved it all this time can redirect us if He wants to. We’re open. He’s in the business of making things clear. So!
The prayer and encouragement means a lot. Helps! That’s what we need right now. We want to do the right thing. If the Lord points us in a particular direction so clearly we can’t possibly miss it, that’s where we’ll go - whatever. Meanwhile, maybe I’m still talking myself around a loop trying to find a way out!!! . . . . . . I still have a sense there are some things that haven’t come together just yet, things I can’t see plainly or just don’t know about. Prayer is where it’s at, even if mine get pretty bent up gettin’ out! I’m just grateful for all those who are lifting us up. I try to keep everyone informed about what He’s doing in answer to their prayer. This whole mess has become way too consuming, so it is a gift to know others are interceding on our behalf. I’m about down to “Lord, I don’t have a clue, so just help, please.”
Thanks so much! I just can’t say that big enough!
Beth in Texas
If you and your husband would like some fellowship, perhaps we could meet in Raleigh for a Sunday brunch some time.
Some of you guys have been praying for us. I’ve got a special request. We’ve got a deadline to get out of the parsonage of our former church. We are waiting to hear on two very good positions after the first of the year. Hubs is especially well qualified for both. We’ll need a little extra time to accomplish a move even if he gets one. . . . . . Now the heater is acting up. Turned it off to be on the safe side, and it’s getting cooler. Have a space heater for our special child. The man who installed the unit is a real friend; he left the church with us when everything blew up. I know he’ll help us if he can. Please pray that everything will be okay and the church won’t have any expense. They are running real low on funds now, and we just don’t need the headache. Thanks! ~Beth in Texas
UPDATE: Two men are going to see that we get some flexibility so we won’t have to move twice, back-to-back. So grateful!! What a load off my mind!
LATER: Heater not doing so well. Hoping it’s just the thermostat.
You are connected…
My name is Stephan (47, married, no children) from Germany. I have been connected to Lifestream for some 10 years, after having had an interest in house churches.
I am a Lutheran by origin, but now attend services at my wife’s Baptist church, where she serves as an elder. I am not intending to leave it, but trying to keep my distance when it comes to too much of an institutionalized faith.
We have a very lively house group which I tend to see as my church. House groups and/or churches has for long been my interest. Yet, I do not see that in an institutional way anymore.
I am a school teacher for English and Russian by profession, but now work as a private tutor, also teaching German. At the moment I am a little more involved into teaching refugees German as a foreign language. I see my job a little as “tentmaking”, talking about faith matters when time is ripe.
I have been looking for contacts “outside the box” for quite a while now. I have been told to look for them in the area where I live (and will continue to do so), but it is not easy, as most people around me are still used to the ways “inside the box”. So, nearly every conversation has to be started from the beginning. That is why I would be grateful to find some people who have walked a little further on this journey or who are intending to start.
I have read “Finding Church” one time through myself and am now doing it again with my wife, after I had told her that this basically was the way I would like to live church and that I would like her to understand.
I do not know, if a chapter-for-chapter analysis in a forum really appeals to me, but I will try. To be honest, I prefer the bilateral contact, as it seems more relational to me. So, if there is anybody who would like to connect, please feel free to do so here or under this mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have also read “So you don’t want to go to church anymore” and “The Shack”, among other Lifestream publications. If this here is not a place to discuss them, I also refer to my e-mail address.
Really hoping to hear from some of you,
Welcome to the forum.
Many of us here in this forum also have difficulty finding people in the local area where we live to discuss these types of things.
I hope you find some good fellowship here… I agree that 2 people talking face to face is preferred, but can be difficult to find.
Thanks for welcoming and having me.
I’m sure, too, that I will find some fellowship here. I wasn’t even assuming to find somebody to talk to face to face – writing mails to one another will do as well, I’d say.
Anyone from Europe or even Germany here? Just wondering which nationalities are gathered here.
A blessed Easter to you all and your families,
My name is Lidia Hunter and I am from Johannesburg in South Africa. I have been married to my husband,Ted (the best thing that ever happened to me) since 2010 after being a single mother for over 20 years. Between us we have 4 adult children, 3 grandchildren and 3 adopted grandchildren. I will be turning 60 in December.
If I would write the story of my life, you could interpret it any way you want: comedy, tragedy, horror, thriller and more…
I have read the Shack, and saw the movie twice. A friend then introduced to Wayne’s book “So you don’t want to go to church anymore?”. I read the book 4 times in 2 weeks, and would have done it more, did I not lend it to a friend.
I am at the moment what you would call “un-churched”. I up in a traditional ‘main stream’ church, where I learned that God is an angry old man with a stick, waiting to hit you when you are naughty. I stopped going to church until in my thirties, where I started to attend a charismatic church. Over the years I have been all over, but never felt accepted and loved.
I suffer from fibromyalgia, which causes me to be in pain ALL the time. Recently after being admitted to a clinic 3 times, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2, which means that I do not manic spells, but always, should you look at a graph - it would spike at “normal” and down to the extreme low - never above the line. (I hope what I try to say, makes sense). I was honest and open with the church leadership. All I wanted, was to be understood and accepted for who I am, and all I happened to find was rejection. It is very hurtful.
The last while I started to turn into a recluse, and I find my solace in Bible study with my husband (something I am forcing myself into, just to get some form of Word in me, and to establish some discipline), reading and listening to people like Wayne’s podcasts.
I am so sad that I missed Wayne when he was in SA, but I am sure there will be more visits…
I have just discovered the discussions, and trust that it will be helpful.