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Where did you get hungry for "something more"?


#1

OK, let’s begin. We’re going to work through each chapter one at a time, giving ourselves a couple of weeks to explore the content of each one. As you read through the first chapter, feel free to ask questions, share from your own journey, and make observations that have enriched your own journey.

Since FINDING CHURCH is about exploring the nature of church life beyond our conformity-based institutions, what is it that made you hunger for “something more”?


Welcome to Discuss @ Lifestream.org
#2

I don’t recall not being hungry for some thing more, having been raised in a toxic performance based all truth no grace faith community where God was always angry and could not be pleased. Really a tragic community, many people including myself spent the better part of our early to mid life in an internal rage that took a lot of energy to suppress.

Thankfully, God never left me and had his eye upon me all these days of anger, rebellion,and…well…whatever else.

In 1991 I left the institution and discovered Jesus, who was “there all the time”. For 4 years I walked with Him in a way that was more real than walking beside another human being. My brokenness, however, needed to be addressed, I was believing and living my life from a lie based system which I had developed through the formative woundings.

On April 22nd of this year of 2016 it will be 25 years of study, searching, desert, loneliness, failed experiments at community, and the like. In the last few years I discovered Church Outside the Walls which really connected with all I’d come to find meaningful in my heart of hearts.

As well, I have completed a 2 yr training in therapy by which people can receive truth through an encounter with Jesus in areas of their inner lives previously found impossible. I am now an accredited therapist and so blessed to be able to engage with people looking for “something more” while encouraging them in their walk to newer levels of wholeness in their personal journey with Jesus.

I would like to end by saying that nothing goes by the Father’s eye that has not been approved for us by Him, there is nothing that He cannot use for our good and His glory. What an amazing experience to walk with Him daily with a simple anticipation and expectation as to what He has in store for anyone walking in an affectionate and deep love relationship with Him.


#3

I remember several years ago walking into the sanctuary and thinking to my self there has to more than this. At the time I was serving as the lead teacher in the older preschool room in our children’s ministry. I realized that the work I was doing I could do without any help from God. I wanted to be in a place where I could see God working.


#4

While a young child, I loved the Hymns and Classical presentations of fabulous, glorious music in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, but I longed for more. I longed for the fellowship that I read about in the Scriptures. I loved John’s words concerning His Sheep hearing His Voice. I longed to hear and follow. In the US Navy, I met Captain Jack Peters who while functioning in as a Chaplain, refused the formalities of office or rank. He discipled men to become followers of The Son of God and listeners to the Spirit. The sense of Community and Fellowship experienced marked our life in ways we have never forgotten. C.P introduced me to the mystics, to Dietrich Bonhoeffer and to the Bruderhof… I worked side by side with him through 3 tours of Vietnam introducing as many as God brought across our path to Jesus Christ and the pathways of discipleship. I still hunger for the sweetness of that Life Over Flowing between us.


#5

I think I have always been hungry for God…to be loved unconditionally just as I am. I have gone through a lengthy period of counsel for childhood sexual abuse and many years as a bulimic. God has done a wonderful work in me and I find myself very open to anything He might want to do in me and through me. I have found myself speaking to a number of women’s retreats and ministries sharing God and the awesome “grace in Jesus” He is longing to give to us! My husband has watched my healing and is very supportive of me…he is also loving the freedom from laws and rules that he was raised in! Freedom in just trusting God and living in His love is such an exciting way to live!


#6

As a young high school Bible teacher I thought I had Christianity figured out. I was pretty insulated from “the world” and any conflict in my Christian life revolved around debates about predestination, divorce and remarriage, tongues, the role of women in the church, worship styles, and the like. Some books began to move me beyond these kinds of arguments: the writings of Frederick Buechner, Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey, and Finding God by Larry Crabb. When I became a pastor at age 33 I discovered the writings of Eugene Peterson, and the Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. These books stirred in me a recognition that I had very little figured out. At the same time, they opened to me a stream of Christianity I didn’t know existed (along with so many more great books!).

Good thing, because I was becoming frustrated with the shallow, performance oriented version of “church” I was leading. Attending Larry Crabb’s school of spiritual direction for a week helped reinvigorate me personally but I was still unaware or unable to articulate that deep down I felt that the very nature of institutional church was counterproductive on so many levels to what God seems to want to do in and through his people (including spiritual formation). The very “worship gatherings” I was leading, despite more participation from the church family, a mix of traditional and contemporary music, and me moving out from behind the pulpit and off the platform to the front row to preach, were alienating the pillars of the church and leaving me empty. Even now that the pillars are gone and the small group that’s left is experiencing a new freedom, there is still not agreement on what church is meant to be. I now realize that the primary ways we have come to define church-Sunday morning services, a roster of ministries, a building where it all takes place, and a pastor whose name is on the sign out front (along with an outreach event now and then)-are not all that conducive to following Jesus. Its all left me starving for something more. And I’m still the pastor.


#7

[quote=“Amistigoso, post:2, topic:14”]
I don’t recall not being hungry for something more, having been raised in a toxic performance based all truth no grace faith community where God was always angry and could not be pleased. Really a tragic community.

You asked where I got hungry for something more. From the age of 10 I was aware of things amiss in a toxic little Full Gospel Church. I was too young to be able to understand what was bothersome other than there were numerous things that felt weird. I was a very sensitive young lad who imprinted things very deeply and seriously which didn’t help. Everything thing in me that God created to know Him joyfully and with intimacy seem to have been be stifled.

So I rebelled with a vengeance, left home when I was 15 and lived life as a certified hell raiser for the next 20 - 25 years. Not sure if this helps.


#8

The ‘something more’ came to me when I stopped looking for validation from people, and started looking for validation from God.

When I first gave my life to Christ, a particular friend who I knew who also was a believer, I leaned on for advice and direction. He gave me a Bible and jotted down the ‘love’ verse, 1 Corinthians:13. For years we would share our experiences with eachother rather easily, but I began to notice while I continued to grow in the Lord, he stagnated. He could no longer help me as he did in the past. Things I tried he suggested weren’t working for me, and as a result, the friendship started to break down. I realize I had a significant part to play in the demise, looking to him for something he had no claim to on my life. For that I am heartbroken.

As I lean more on God…

I become less needy in relationships.

I give people more space.

I give myself more space.

I don’t press as often.

I become more aware of other people’s needs and interests above my own, which is difficult because I spend much time alone, which usually tends to make one self-centered.

I realize my brokenness and imperfections.

As I get older I become more aware of the brevity and fragility of life.

I treasure people more.

I no longer have an agenda for myself or others, for I realize although I hold the pencil, God holds the eraser.


#9

Hmm. I’m not sure I can think of a time when I was satisfied with church or felt like I had arrived at what Jesus promised his disciples. I have been a believer since I was five years old and grew up in church. When I look back over my past I realize that I never experienced or saw anyone experiencing, life in relationship with the Father. As others have pointed out there is a great deal of difference between having a relationship with God and merely having a doctrine that says that you do. I think my wife and I both finally realized about three years ago that we didn’t fit in organized church and that being there could not lead us to what we really longed for, the reality of a life lived moment by moment in the Father.


#10

My hunger started with a couple of things that peaked my interest in the 1990’s. (1) I began to see that it seemed like the churches I had attended were giving lists of do’s and don’ts instead of showing people how to live by faith. (2) I had heard about people that left the institutional church (or IC) for house church or other things outside the IC, and it seemed like there was greater freedom outside the IC, and I liked it. Both of these things seemed to show me that the things I saw in the IC, didn’t seem to match up with what the Bible said about the early church.

A few years later I read some books that showed that the Christian life was more about God’s love and living by faith instead of self-effort. This changed my life dramatically, and I haven’t been the same since. I’m so thankful to God for this.

I look forward to the continuing good discussion here.


#11

There has never been a time when I was not hungry to know God more deeply. As I grew up, I was involved in our churches (dad was the minister) according to my abilities, I always read the Bible and all the study materials and engaged 120% in activities and served as best I could. Every year my week at church camp was the highlight of my life. (Grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan).

As I got older, I found fewer folks who wanted to talk about the deeps things of God…especially not with a woman. That was a hard time in my life and I made many poor decisions from lack of good counsel. I did not fit the mold I was being shoved into.

But as things started to go south during my pastoral ministry – after four years of the most awesome ministry – I began to see that the “institution” was suffocating the “church”. After a very painful parting in 2005, I was pretty numb until January 6, 2006, when I had a strange vision of authentic community. I went after it as a new church planting strategy, but learned to recognize that it was a vision of what God was doing so that I would recognize it when it crossed my path. I am looking out for it – what I called CovenantClusters --every day, yet trusting Father’s timing. I am also so grateful that in these past 10 years Father has walked me back from the institutional ways, so that I now see the vision of CovenantClusters from a very different view. I am content to wait and watch and love my children day by day…and those who Father puts in my path. In the meantime, I have read all of Wayne’s books and many others. And I have finally learned to journal (starting in 2009, not long before meeting Wayne). Journaling has been an important practice for me, which I started with my blog, but then went personal as life got so very dark.


#12

Let see…where to begin. I grew up in a family that did not attend a congregation on a regular basis.There was a lot of conflict surrounding our interactions with others when it came to the spiritual arena. My dad’s mom had an intense conversion experience and many spiritual experiences that she shared with us over and over. These experiences scared the crud out of me and my view of God was one based on fear. I do love my grandma and she is still alive at 89 and I now know she has a sincere childlike faith in Jesus but she came from such a broken background it messed up her relating to Him and others but no matter He has held her and is still gently working in her life. All the time I have known her she has been driven but just in the last couple years she is starting get a glimpse of His rest. Slowly but surely.

I trusted Jesus when I was five. I had just went through a very traumatic experience which involved some of the neighbor kids my brother and I hung out with. I won’t go into detail but it involved going to the police department because of something my brother and I had been involved with. My little mind could not process what was happening and my parents never took the time to explain to me that I was going to be okay…anyway the experience left me terrified that I might go to jail.

A couple weeks later I was in my living room and I heard a preacher on TV talking about Jesus and the cross and I turned to Jesus to help me and of course He did. There were many other shameful things that I had experienced but at the time I was not even aware of them. I just knew that at five years old I had a deep sense of shame and I needed Jesus.

Fast forward to 17 years old and I had just gotten clean from the party life and I turned to Jesus fully again and so began my involvement with the institution. I did not start to come to terms with my abusive past for many years and so I think that it set me up to be very submissive to spiritual authority figures within the congregations I attended. I found that I was always ready and willing to serve anywhere I was needed. I would go through a cycle where I would plug into a congregation, get involved, become overwhelmed, start noticing manipulation and control within the leadership, and then leave and start that cycle again. The cycle was broken 3.5 years ago and I can say that finally my soul is truly beginning to rest in the Father’s love and affection for me. Slowly but surely His love is winning every part of me!


#13

As a child I attended a mainline liturgical denomination and processed through their Sunday school system and choir. For the most part, it was just something everyone in my family had to do. There were a couple of people at that congregation who seemed to stand out as having something more going for them than the majority. One such person was a man who I later found out had a personal experience of realizing God apart from the formality. He prayed and asked Father to be able to join the pentecostal denomination across town but felt and followed the urging to stay in our ‘church’ and become involved in the Sunday school. He was one who somehow communicated the reality of Jesus beyond the liturgy. When returning home on several occasions after his sessions, I could fully imagine Jesus being out on the street and communicating with and healing others… Unfortunately I didn’t dare let my imagination include his reaching out to me. My home situation was very fractured. We children were constantly reminded how much of a burden we were and that we weren’t to expect much from life other than to literally be doormats for others. I think that played into not picturing a personal interaction with Jesus.
When I was 12 years of age one of my brothers died in a car accident. Upon hearing of his death I began to cry, and immediately heard an internal question as to what made me cry. I answered that it was because my brother had died. The same question repeated. At that point I responded internally to that question’s presence that I feared my brother didn’t know I loved him and that I didn’t know if he loved me. Immediately, interactions with him over the years played through my mind with an understanding that he loved me and knew I loved him. Although I was still grieving his loss at the emotional level, a place in the center of my being that had felt wrenched with torment was released to a peace that I couldn’t understand. It wasn’t until I was about 18 yrs old and had the spirit opening experience of personal conversion, that I realized that presence on the night of my brother’s death was God’s. I guess he knew that our family wasn’t able to be present to one another in a healthy manner to process through the challenges attending grief and mercifully ministered to me.
Between the time of my brother’s passing and my personal conversion, I had pulled back from Sunday services attendance, and went through doubt, unbelief, and deep questioning. The circumstances that lead to my new awareness of the reality of God were definitely directed outside of my control. I threw myself into discovering all I could about God and many good experiences came out of it, however, throughout the years, in retrospect, I just kept moving from one specialized system to another. I would be excited by what looked like a promise of realizing some special attribute promoted by a group, only to find the same disappointments eventually rearing their not so attractive heads. I would read something in the scriptures that would get me to question my interpretations or gleanings from which ever group I was fellowshipping with at the time. I would attempt to enter conversations about how those verses would call into question a predominant teaching or thought and would be immediately reprimanded and left feeling the ultimate fool.
After a few decades of congregation surfing, an abusive marriage (that I was encouraged to continue to submit to with promptings such as, ‘if you have lemons, make lemonade,’ ‘you’ve made your bed, now you have to lie in it,’ and other such nonsense), I found myself a single mother of two young children, left to support and defend them and myself from the threat of further violence. Surveying the ‘teachings’ from the years that increasingly pointed to a God who was impossible to please, with my being so deficient in every aspect of life I left a congregation one day and indicated to God that, no disrespect intended, but I could no longer participate in the system. I didn’t want to become so embittered as to rage publicly against him as I had heard of others doing. However, in all honesty I couldn’t bring myself to try and press on in what always turned out to be so heart wrenching and faith destroying.
For a few years I focused on working and supporting my son and daughter. Then one day, at one of my jobs, Father reached out to me. I was timid at first, not wanting to fall down another ‘rabbit hole.’ The prompting remained and then through rekindling a friendship from my younger days with another believer, I was introduced to some resources of which The God Journey was one. I began engaging in the search and was totally enthralled to learn that some of those misgivings and questions and promptings over the years were not so out in left field as I was led to believe. I am not going to say that life is a bowl full of cherries since then. It has been a time of discovery and of not feeling quite so alone. It is a time where the child within me thinks that if I was walking home from Sunday school and imagining Jesus along the way healing and interacting with others, that he would look my way in an inclusive manner.
So, the question about hungering for something more… I think it has always been there in some form or fashion, even at the darkest of hours when my mind struggles between doubt/unbelief and full on believing. I may not be able to name or identify the hungering until later, but it is quite possibly the single most important attribute that keeps me moving on.


#14

In 1998. I was hurting and attending church with my husband and children was just not doing it for me. I felt no closer to the Lord.

I am still processing all that I/we have been through since then. It has been wild.

I want to add that what I have been through has deepened my relationship with the Lord since 1998


#15

It was whilst I was attending a local church where I’d been a member for a few years. I was growing more and more disillusioned with what was going on. I remember thinking there has to be more that this! I mean look at creation it’s wonderful and that is what God made, the church of people I am looking at isn’t too pretty to say the least. I wanted more and knew there was more out there somewhere.
I was on my way back home from a Sunday meeting at the church I was attending when I felt God say, “I want you to come away as there is something I want to show you.” I spent a few weeks wondering if I’d heard right but stayed away and waited. I was walking in a shopping centre, passing a bookshop when I felt I need to go in. Well in that bookshop The Shack was on sale, I picked it up twice and put it back on the shelf before finally picking it up and buying it. I went home and read it and I knew I’d heard correctly. That was a good few years ago and I felt I had begun a new journey that would lead me to where I am today. The most amazingly exciting part is that something more is still unravelling,I read He Loves me and I’m still growing into that. It’s been slow but the hunger has grown the knowing I’m not alone. Now in the last few months I am seeing God move me from having me all to Himself to a door opening to a community of believers. Some are in the street, in the shopping centres, at work and in homes. That’s where over the last few weeks I have gone from overly excited to scared and back to excited. It’s like I am struggling to believe this is real but it is.
I am really enjoying this discussion there is so many real people that have posted here already. I have laughed, cried and generally noticed that this is what I’ve been hoping for. Over the next few weeks I hope to be able to come on here, read the posts and get dose of fine tuning to the Spirits voice and Jesus leading in Finding his Bride for real this time :wink:

Ian. Colnbrook, Berkshire (near Heathrow) UK


#16

It has been at least 10 years that I have hungered for something more than just institutional church. I am still going to church on sunday mornings but am glad to discover that there are others hungering for something more as well. Learning to live in His affection and learning the freedom from performance based living is where I am at this present time. I am excited to e apart of this discussion and to hear what is going on in other lives on this journey.


#17

Something (now I know Someone) told me “not to let man get in the road between knowing”.

There was a time I was questioning whether or not I really believed all this…after much contemplation I reached a very solid YES and while I was feeling very good about that…from somewhere came this something in my head “But do you love me”? BAM. I had to think about what that meant and the answer was that knowing in my heart that YES I do. BUT what does that mean and how does it all fit together. Suddenly I am on the journey. Love isn’t a big message in church. Only after “The Jesus Lens” and “He Loves Me” did I even realize it was the most important part of being a Christian.

I go to church but I guard my heart from the “institution”. I am trying to understand how the I/C came to be what it is with so many well intentioned people. I know that guilt is an evil tool that man loves to use. There is no substitute for study, prayer and a living relationship. I want to learn how to neutralize what I/C does to people. I read somewhere recently we need to know the truth first and then be able to see what other people do with it and learn from that.


#18

Hi DKM. Having ditched the cold stones of the building in 1991 my journey has been finding Jesus in the midst of all the twists and turns of the last 25 years, Many years in a dry and desert land where my soul thirsted for the living Water. Just in the last while, difficult to define in terms of time and date, I have discovered that He is willing to enter my place of loneliness, confusion, etc. All I need to do is ask Him.

Are you finding yourself being able to make sense/progress out of the chaos, confusion and whatever else tried your soul to the very core?


#19

Lol. My often prayer is “Lord, I just don’t understand.” I don’t expect him to necessarily explain it to me I just want him to know I’m confused about some things.


#20

He’s OK with us emoting in any reverential way as you are aware. The Psalms make that very clear. In his most blatant complaints to God, David usually ended that psalm with a reaffirmation of His trust in God, usually with something like “But God is…”. Sometimes I just tell the Lord I hurt. He loves that level of intimacy. Not that I hurt, but that He understands and feels my hurt. I grew up listening to a song “God Understands”. Check FB

for the lyrics. There’s a song on youtube as well.