This Easter, my prayers and passion have been for my fellow believer. It was originally intended for a specific group of friends on the peripheral of my life, but could easily apply to anyone.
Easter is the celebration of new life for a variety of reasons, and it’s the most hyped and prepared-for Sunday of the whole year for most churches. As my family and I sit restfully today, watching person after person celebrate the Lord on Facebook, my heart aches for you to know the Lord more fully and to become a truer expression of Him on the earth.
You see, in previous decades I spent most of my life being a part of both the PC(USA) and Southern Baptist denominations. I also spent time in the non-denominational mega-church world, as a long-time attender of 7:22 during college. I am so thankful for the leadership, fellowship, and love for the Lord that I was introduced to at these places.
Since then, I was a part of 6 men and women who left the Southern Baptist church, with the blessing of our local church’s pastor, and started a small home fellowship. We didn’t do it out of anger or bitterness toward the church, we did it because we felt like the Lord was calling us to it. Since then, the Lord has done amazing things in our midst and Heather and I are completely different and renewed people.
Heather, at the time, was stressed out, unhealthy, and in the depths of full-on clinical depression. She was taking anti-depressants and felt continually in a haze, not ever feeling like the Lord was close to her. Now, she has been freed from depression, and has not taken any medication for it in three years. She regularly prophesies and brings encouragements and prayers forth in our church meetings.
I, at the time, was a rude, video-game addicted, judgmental Christian who had no confidence in the Lord and no discernable spiritual fruit to show forth for my life. Now, the Lord has broken this addiction from me and the Lord has birthed a deep servant heart in me. I’m still working on the rudeness part, though my brothers and sisters in the Lord are the real judge of that .
So what does this have to do with you? Do I want you to all join our house church or start house churches of your own? Hardly.
Below is a list of things I do want for you. These are things we’ve either come to know deeply or just are starting to walk within. My prayer for you is that you would “strive to enter His rest” in these things – don’t just live the same way you’ve been living and expect these things to magically spring up! While I do believe that how we do church and how we live has played a massive part in this, I do also believe that the Lord births these things in all sorts of churches very different from our own.
- a close brotherhood and sisterhood that is deeply involved in one another’s lives. I have numerous brothers and my wife has numerous sisters that we can turn to for ANY struggle, problem, or pain. We love them, and they love us, and we prove it week after week.
- the Lord’s Holy Spirit playing a major part in our personal lives and church meetings – prophecy, visions, open worship. Basically, learning how to know God’s will for our lives and church. In another words, we’ve seen the Lord bestow the gifts of the Spirit, and we’ve learned how to use those for their intended purpose – encouragement and edification.
- broken, messed up people being restored – to their families, to themselves, to the Lord. We’ve been so privileged to watch the Lord do these things in ourselves and our family. We’ve seen people be freed from the grips of self-pity, shame, depression, pornography, self-deception, anger, selfishness.
- a freedom and confidence to speak forth what I think the Lord is saying through me, and a whole room full of people to either bear witness to it or call me crazy.
I’m not saying you don’t already see the Lord in these things already, in fact I’ve lost or never had close communication with some of you. I just desire for them for you, and pray that they will be so if they aren’t already.
So where does that leave us? I want this for all of you, for all who believe in Christ. I believe these things are just the tip of the iceberg when Jesus said he came to bring abundant life. They aren’t lofty ideals for a select few, they’re available to all who call on the name of the Lord.
So if these things are what you desire, what are the practical steps?
- Begin to earnestly pray for the Lord to birth these things in your life, and watch for ways in which He is trying to bring these things forth in you. If you’re tagged on the Facebook note for this post, I’ve been praying this on your behalf already…. for awhile for some of you, and less for others.
- Among those you are in fellowship with, start conversations about going deeper in the Lord and see what fruit can come from it. Yes, it will be awkward to bring up, especially if your conversations don’t naturally gravitate to the things of the Lord. It’s always worth it.
- If you don’t have a church home right now, find a church in your area that is seeking the Lord in these things. I don’t have a deep knowledge about where to find such churches in many places, though I do know some pockets of believers in Selmer, TN, Atlanta, GA, and Gainesville, FL. There are fellowships doing these things all over the world, I’m just not personally acquainted with very many of them (though I wish I was).
- Read about the work of the Lord in these things. While books do shed some light and bring forth some growth, they can’t compete with real life experience in these things. I can recommend our own community blog, http://lovingthechurch.net , Frank Viola’s blog, http://frankviola.wordpress.com/ , and the books of Frank Viola or Neil Cole (though I haven’t read their books myself).
I’d love nothing more than to talk through some of these things with you (or anyone else reading this!). My phone number is 404-933-7787, and my email address is email@example.com .