Last week I posted the first of a series of post that deal with the issues and desions made about switching a churches. Below is the letter that Rob Grunden, who blogs over at Yahweh’s Gentile, wrote for the series.
I would like to clarify, here in the beginning that I am speaking for myself, and not my
wife in this. My wife grew up very differently than I and has a wonderful, God-breathed
story of her own. I would also like to say that I do not take switching weekly meeting
places lightly. I watched many people switch where they attended for petty, ridiculous,
childish reasons that make Jesus look bad. Not only do I not condone leaving a church
simply because you got mad at the pastor or someone hurt your feelings once, I believe
that scripture teaches that the people like that are more like an infestation of God’s
church than Followers of Christ. Okay, I’ll be finished with my rant now.
I will not mention the denomination that I grew up around because there are plenty of
places throughout the United States that are a part of it and follow Jesus wholeheartedly.
I spent from childhood to early adulthood being in a church building three times per
week. We had Sunday Morning, Sunday Evening, and Wednesday Night. This was the
routine. I was always the boy that knew all of the right answers in Sunday School and
was the first one in line for every summer camp that had anything to do with our church.
I went to the alter and “re-dedicated” my life to God what must have been hundreds of
times before I even graduated High School. My cheeks were pinched multiple times
while little old ladies would tell me, “You’re going to be a great preacher someday”.
However, there were multiple problems developing within me that would eventually be
the reason that God changed my heart and mind.
The doctrine that I was taught led me to believe that the Gospel of Jesus was simply,
“Ask Jesus to come into your heart” and don’t backslide (which is a rant for another
day). This created a VERY large problem for me. I couldn’t stop sinning. I kept messing
up. I was always left wondering if I had fallen away so much that I was no longer saved.
God later revealed to me that this is impossible and a lie. During this part of the struggle
I remember so many times that I simply gave up trying because I always failed. The real
result of this false doctrine in my life was I began a worthless endeavor to try and earn
God’s favor. The truth of God’s love for me was there IF I was able to be good and do the right things. If you’ve ever tried to be good for the sake of earning the love of our God, then you no doubt understand that it wasn’t long before I began to just not care anymore.
I also began to see a lot more of the same thing that the rest of the world uses as an
excuse to not be a part of the church; hypocrisy. There were a lot of people saying
things like, “don’t drink or dance” while I noticed them telling dirty jokes and laughing
along with their families. Church leadership would chastise people for listening
CHRISTIAN rock music because it was “us being like the world” while loving the father
of Methodism, John Wesley, who re-wrote the lyrics of bar music to try to reach the
spiritually blind for Jesus. The little doctrine rules and regulations guidebook that the
denomination published was viewed as THE guidebook more so than the Word of God.
The worst thing about all of this was it was very much distorting my picture of who God
is. Because I wasn’t exposed to anything but this doctrine, this is what I thought the
church was. This is how I believed we were supposed to act or behave. These were the
only truths that I knew.
Well, it finally happened. One summer after I’d graduated high school I was attending
one of the many camps that I normally attended but something was different. I had truly
reached a point of not caring anymore. I was at a point of not even wanting to want
Jesus in my heart anymore, though He was and would prove to not leave me alone.
That summer at camp I had my first taste of vodka, my first Marlboro Ultra-Light, and
experienced sex for the first time. I was done. I quit. During the months that followed,
the Holy Spirit tortured me daily as I began to smoke a pack a day, party every
weekend, drink on the job (at the Boys and Girls Club) and regularly indulge in sexual
God eventually put me in my place and not long after I put my life back in his hands I
was hired as a Youth Minister in Bismarck, North Dakota. That lasted about a year
before I broke again and ended up in the psych ward of a nearby hospital overnight on
suicide watch. My view of God was so screwed up. He was a God that would love
everyone, not push us to purge sin from our lives, while unsaving us if we didn’t behave. There were so many things that I didn’t understand. So many ideas that seemed so contradictory to me. And then it happened. My longtime friend for whom I’m writing this now, Michael Moore introduced me to Pastor Mark Driscoll, online of course.
Over the course of the following few years God began to transform me. He began to
change my heart and life. My theology changed drastically. God taught me through
great teachers that once He saves me, once Jesus begins his redeeming work in my
heart and life, there is no turning back. There is no amount of work I can do to make
God like me. I can do nothing to gain his acceptance. HE saved ME. I didn’t save myself
by deciding to make this huge life changing decision. God made the decision to come
and rescue me! This was huge. This was the single biggest relief of my life. I wasn’t
perfect, and that’s okay.
Another thing that I learned from God is that I am to take responsibility for the sin in my
life as He reveals it to me. I have to repent. A child-like “sorry daddy” wasn’t good
enough. He began to show me what it meant to be truly sorrowful because I’d let him
down and sinned against him. He also taught me that I couldn’t simply will myself to
change by following a list of things to do to stop sinning. It was his work in me. It is
God’s responsibility to change me and mine to be willing; truly willing to allow it.
The result of this change that was happening was that I began to, for the first time
understand who I was in regards to God. The relationship was being painted the correct
way. I began to long to long for God. I wanted to want him more. There is no way in
human language for me to describe how much of a life change went on and is still going
on in my life as a result of God reforming my faith (no pun intended).
In short, God moved me to switch denominations as he showed me more of who he is.
Since the change in worship venue I have seen a more real God than ever before. I now
know a God that while loving unconditionally punishes sin relentlessly. I now know a
God who doesn’t want me to tire myself trying so hard to please him but instead wants
me to spend every waking moment talking and visiting with him. I now know a God who
loves us enough to reach across galaxies and solar systems to bring himself to us and hates sin enough to kill Ananias and Saphira where they stood because they tried to lie to him and take his glory.
This is a great God. This is the only God. My hope is that he would use my life to reveal
himself to others wherever he takes me from here.
Want to share your story? E-mail me at MooreMinistry@gmail.com