Well, that has always been a bit of a challenge for me. I did not come from a "dysfuntional" family. My parents were/ are good, honest, hard working people. My mother was stay at home, cooked cleaned, etc. as well as book work for my dads bakery business. I had an uncle that had always gone to that "holy roller" church. He was a good man, but I never really talked much to him.
When I was 14 or so, I started going to a pentocostal church out of boredom. I met who was to become my wife of almost 30 years there. I was in a revival service one night, and tongues and interpretaion came forth. It was powerful. The man used had always had a speech problem, but when God spoke thru him, it was as clear as could be. I knew this was real. I went to the alter and repented, spoke in tongues, and was baptized. I was "saved". I played church for a few years. Then in & out for several years, even after I married.
When my first daughter was born, I felt God again, telling me I needed to be aleader in my house. So, I did what I always do. I "got back in church". This was a cycle I would repeat for nearly 27 years. During these times I lost several loved ones. First in 76, my baby sister drowned (3 YEARS OLD). I was not going to church then, so I didn't question God to much. Then, in 81, my oldest brother (26 years old) was killed by a drunk driver, while delivering donuts early one morning. My best friend was also with him, and killed as well. I was going to church at the time, and tried to stay positive for my Mom & Dad. After this though, I began to question God, and why all this stuff happens. The church was so dry, and planned, and steeped in traditon. I was so hugry for God, but I couldn't find Him in the building. So, I pretty much gave up.
I stayed married, tried to be a good dad, moved to Georgia, got a good job, but felt so unworthy. When I went to church, I was pounded down, whether by myself of by the pastor, it matters not. Then, my brother Lannie died, suddenly. Let me say here, that Lannie was mentally retarded. He was awsome. He was a light of love, and a source of true happiness for my parents, and all of us. He lived in a community home, and came home to mom & dads every weekend. When I would come home for a visit, I couldn't wait to see him. When he hugged me, it was as if God himself was hugging me. Pure love, without any of the motives or baggage that we "regular" people have in us. Anyway, when he was in the hospital, we all prayed.
For me, it was the first time in a long time. But I did feel that God told me he was going to heal him. Then he died. And a big part of me (and all the family) died with him. he was 44. I spun out. Bitterness and resentment filled me. I wanted nothing to do with God, and his punishment. So, I walked like that for about 2 years. Finally one night at dinner with our friends, God spoke to me, that He had healed Lance, completely! He is now in heaven, whole, and waiting for us. My mom& dad have now been baptized in Jesus name! God takes a tragedy and turns it into a miracle. I told my oldest kid how I felt, and poisoned her mind with my feelings. And even my 2nd child as well. I will say that the traditional church we raised them in was not working for them at all, either. Thankfully, both of my older girls are finding there way back to God, and I am so thankful for that.
Anyway, then, a very good friend of mine, left the church they were attending. (the same one my wife and 2 younger girls went to). I had known him and been great friends for 24 years. They had even moved to GA a few months after us. Anyway, I saw his struggle, and talked with him about it. We had always griped and complained about the regimented services, the traditions, etc. We just never knew what to do about it.
During this time a friend of his, started his own church. He had been a missionary to Lebenon, and felt God call him back to the USA and start a work here. In the early stages of this, is where I again found God. When I turned back to Him, he was right there to meet me. We felt Gods presence so strong. Tongues, interpretations, waiting on God. Awsome! We (us 3 men) would get together on Monday mornings and talk, pray, eat, fellowship, etc. We talked about the direction we wanted from God. His will, His spirit, His leading. It was good for about 8 months. Then my dear brother took a turn towards the more traditional service. Three songs, preach, alter call, announcements, etc. Also, he took over the leadership. It was now "do what I say" I am the pastor kind of mentality. God began to withdraw from our services. My good friend ran into obstacles with him. Everything changed. My friend and his prescious family left that "church". I hung on. I talked to my wife and kids. We prayed. We sought after God. I would like to say here, that the pastor is still a good man, a man who seekd God. I love him, and fellowship with him when I can. It was important for me that he knew this, and he does.
I knew God was leading us. I took a trip up to see my folks. During this trip, my friend called me and told me to pick up a book, Pagan Christianity. He was a guy who has been into books for years. I never once, wanted to, felt compelled to, or did read any book he suggested. For only God knows His timing. I felt to go get the book. I bought it. I read it. The veil was rent! All the things that so easily beset me, were gone. We have left the steeple. We are now growing in God like never before. This is not the path of the faint hearted. Its not easy. In one way, there is more pressure on me than ever before in my walk. However, in the best way possible, I am free. We are determined that He is able! He has, in His good timing, answered my prayers. Never have I been closer to God, everyday, then at this point in my life. My wife was a couple steps behind me, but has more than caught the vision we now share. So- if you have read this, you can see where God has brought us. We are rebuilding His temple. God is good, all the time!
I am always interested in meeting/ networking with people of like faith. Hopefully I will learn here, and if God allows, be a servant to someone as well...