My Spiritual Journey

Please, read this first
For as long as I can remember I’ve been in Church.  I was brought up in Church, so to speak.  Not that I had parents who were in the ministry but they loved God and served Him – and are still serving Him – in the best way they knew.  For me going to Church was as normal as going to school.  But God in his wisdom did not confine me to only one Church-group or one specific Denomination.  He introduced me to different ways and places of worshiping and serving Him throughout my life.  This happened not without my own searching after the Way, the Truth and the Life[1].
 
I was brought up in a Denomination where Bible knowledge was important. I knew the stories of the Old Testament and the Gospels frontwards and backwards.  However, the book of Acts, where the Apostles and early Church experienced the working of the Holy Spirit were not preached in such a way that it inspired anyone to seek after the same experiences.  It had its purpose for establishing the first Churches – so I was told – but is not relevant for today.  This, in some way, did not witness with something on the inside of me, neither did it lessen my hunger and thirst for righteousness[2].
 
So, the moment I finished school, God moved me to the next Church where my thirst would be quenched.  As I attended my first service, I heard people sing and pray in tongues. I will not forget the inward feeling of “this is it, this is what I was looking for!”  And for the next five years of my life I learned everything I could about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I was baptized in water (although I was also baptized as a baby, obviously not knowing why), baptized with the Holy Spirit and learning to discern the voice of the Lord.  Those were wonderful years where I did not miss any Sunday service, arrived at least 30 minutes before a service and was disappointed when the 2 hour service came to an end.  It felt as if I found a hidden treasure.
 
Matthew 13:44 KJV
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.
 
I literally sold my time, my energy, my talents and friends to have more of the Kingdom I found.  But as with everything else in life, once you’ve conquered, attained or are comfortable with the new, we either want something more or become passive.
 
And so it was God’s time to move my wife and I – literally and spiritually – to the next place for growth.  This time it was a fresh and vibrant way of praise and worship.  Another Church where the main focus was faith and healing and prosperity.  Again I felt the excitement of finding new treasures of the Kingdom.  There we were also introduced to other ministries and we found ourselves every now and then, driving hundreds of kilometers to meetings and attending four-hour services, twice a day for three to five days consecutively.  Those were years where I experienced amazing breakthroughs in my life.  It was also a time where I have observed men of God with real spiritual power and men who tried to copy those who operated in God’s power.  The difference, not only in the men but also in the results, were worthy of note.  Thinking back on those years I can truly say…Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out![3]
 
Those were also the times where I not only got involved in cell-groups but during later years – as we had moved to another Church in the meanwhile – started our own cell-group.  Other Cell-groups were diminishing as their Cell-members started coming to our house. This obviously upset certain people in our Church.  We grew into a “mini” Church within a year and so the pastor closed our Cell-group with these words; “I don’t want you to start a Church within a Church”.  But I could not stop or be stopped. I felt like Jeremiah when he said; but if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.[4]
 
We then started another (undercover) cell-group.  Undercover, as we did not tell our Pastor about it.  Again it outgrew the living room of our house. This time the people came from different Churches and Denominations.  We did not have a specific program or followed any cell-group manual or book.  We just stuck with Paul’s instructions to the Church in Corinth.
 
1 Corinthians 14:26 (AMP)
What then, brethren, is [the right course]? When you meet together, each one has a hymn, a teaching, a disclosure of special knowledge or information, an utterance in a [strange] tongue, or an interpretation of it. [But] let everything be constructive and edifying and for the good of all.
 
During this period of time we had an opportunity to visit the largest denomination in Nigeria and Africa.  We attended a weekend Conference where the attendance was over eight hundred thousand (800 000) people and the services lasted from five to ten hours at a time.  An experience of a life time!  God exposed me to a totally new way of worship, preaching and ministering to masses of people.  Something that I am very grateful for.  During that week in West Africa, the Lord once again confirmed my calling to ministry and within two months after our return, I was approached by a relatively large Church to serve as one of their pastors.  Within a year I was ordained by the International Ministry[5] overseeing that Church.  For eighteen months I served at that Church before they sent me out to start a Church in the town where we lived, about seventy five kilometers from the Mother-Church.
 
At this time I was also still in business and although my heart was in the ministry, my time was divided between ministry and business[6].  It was only three years later that the Lord specifically told me to leave the business world and put all my focus, time and energy on the ministry.
 
1 Kings 19:19-21 (NIV)
So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother good-by,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”   “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.
 
It was time for me to leave everything behind, burn it, and follow Christ.  Becoming his “full-time”[7] servant[8] was the next place of growth. At the same time we also broke away from our Mother-Church and became an Independent Church.
 
Not knowing it at that time, this breaking away and pioneering into a “new land” would bring us into contact with new ministries.  During those years we established relationships with those in the Apostolic and Prophetic move of God.  Again, something totally unfamiliar to us, but as we searched the Scriptures we could not deny what God has disclosed to us.
 
Acts 17:10-11 (NLT)
That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.
 
It opened the dynamics of spiritual growth to a different dimension.  Suddenly different parts of the Bible began to make sense and I could understand the gifts and calling[9] of God on certain ministers.  Not only did He revealed this but also cause our Church to grow into the Prophetic and Apostolic.  One of the pitfalls of ministry is the “staying at campsite” when the cloud moves.
 
Exodus 40:36-37 (NIV)
In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted.
 
There are times when God will take years to make sure certain truths are not mere head knowledge but have actually become part of our lives. Where we don’t just preach the Word but the Word has become part of us.  It has to work, cut, change and transform us into exactly what He has purposed for us.  At other times the dealings of the Spirit of God in our lives are more swift and the call to move forward quicker than anticipated.
 
Numbers 9:21-22 (NIV)
Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out.
 
I have heard ministers preaching the same message for years and years. Always telling the same stories, worshiping in their particular style and having the same meetings when they were suppose to “clear the campsite” and move with the “cloud” in a new direction.  There is nothing wrong in repeating our actions as long as the “cloud” is at rest.  When year in and year out we worship, pray, preach and talk the same things, we should ask ourselves whether there is any spiritual growth.  The end of our growth is not a gift or title or an office, but the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ[10].  There is a beginning and there is an end of our faith[11].  Although we have become accustomed to our “campsite” it is no reason, however difficult it may be, to stay when the Spirit urges us to move onward and upwards.
 
Philippians 3:14 (AMP)
I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.
 
KJV I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
 
And so, as you have read, God has really taken me on this journey of seeing, observing and experiencing ministry from different Churches, Denominations and view points. I have seen the real and caught sight of the fake.  I have felt the true power of God’s Spirit and behold the counterfeit.  I have met the true Apostles and Prophets of God as well as those who claim the title but lack the fruit[12].
 
All of this, my personal Church history, has obviously colored my picture of what Church should look like, how it functions and the purpose for which God designed it to be. You as the reader most probably had very different experiences of Church and ministry.  Those experiences influenced your thinking about God, how He works, whom He chooses to work through, the purpose of the Church and how Church should look like.  I have discovered in all my years of Church life – if I may call it that – the very thing I find pleasant today, may be the hindrance to spiritual growth[13] tomorrow.  And the very spiritual activities[14] which bring me much life and edification can so easily be turned into lifeless traditions that stifle spiritual growth.  We find such an example with the Church in the wilderness[15]. In the book of Numbers we find Israel moaning and groaning again.  They started to speak against God and Moses.
 
Numbers 21:4-9 (NIV)
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”  Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.  The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.
 
This was certainly one of God’s amazing ways of bringing once again healing and deliverance to his people.  It is very likely that they carried the bronze snake with them, setting it up wherever they camped, and that it was fixed in a permanent location once they were in the land.  The reason for this assumption is to be found in a later portion of Scripture where the people of Israel, approximately eight hundred years later, worshiped the same bronze snake.
 
2 Kings 18:1-4 (NKJV)
Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden imageand broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan[16].
 
I have seen how Christians fall into the same spiritual trap.  God had brought healing, deliverance or a breakthrough in their lives through a specific way of worshiping him[17]. Then for the rest of their lives they are clinging to that way of worship, thinking God must use the same thing over and over when another breakthrough is needed.  It may be time to stop burning incense to your bronze snake and rather listen to the Spirit’s new way for this time of your life.
 
During the last few years I began questioning the vision and mission of the Church.  I wanted to find out what God’s plan for His Church is and whether I clearly understood His intention for the Body of Christ[18]. What I am sharing on this website is what I believe I have learned and discovered so far. This is based on personal revelation which is within the confines of Scripture.  I believe it is in no way exhaustive but in the Apostle Paul’s words I still know in part[19].
 
It is my conviction that Christ’s purpose for his Church precedes and exceeds the structure of the Church.  The reason for such a statement is based on my observances of more than 40 years of attending Church services and 10 years of been in ministry.  I have been in “normal” Church services where people sat in rows without participation and experienced wonderful breakthroughs which changed me permanently. But, I have also experienced the boring, monotonous preaching of a sermon which made an hour feel like a life time. On the other hand, there is the small cell-group type of fellowship where everybody sits in a circle and has the opportunity to share and participate.  In this structure I have both experienced the supernatural energy[20] of the Spirit as well as the confusion which followed strife and division[21] among the members.  When we only focus on structure, believing that if the structure is right the people will change, we are misled.  For as the saying goes; fine feathers don’t make fine birds.  In recent years there have been numerous books on returning to the roots of the early Church.  It certainly has its benefits of knowing the origin of the Church as well as the roots of our Church practices.  But without an inward working of the Spirit of God the outwork changes will be to no avail.  When our hearts are after Christ and we are willing to follow the Lamb wherever he goes[22], he will make sure to order our steps[23] to places where we will experience spiritual growth as well as intimacy with Him and fellow Christians.  And this may happen in Church structures which are familiar to us or in places of worship that do not necessarily resemble anything of Church as we know it.  But as the Apostle Paul so aptly writes to one of the Churches;
 
Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)
…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

[1] John 14:6

[2] Matthew 5:6

[3] Romans 11:33 (NIV)

[4] Jeremiah 20:9 (NIV)

[5] The reader will note I am not mentioning any specific Church, Denomination or Ministry.  My intention is purely to focus on God’s guidance and processes in my life and not to promote or in any way harm a specific Church, Denomination or Ministry.

[6] Acts 20:33-34, 1 Corinthians 4:12, 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9

[7] In no way do I imply that if you are in part-time ministry, you are not His full-time servant. It was what the Lord told me and therefore applies to me personally.

[8] James 1:1, Jude 1, Revelation 1:1

[9] Acts 11:29

[10] Ephesians 4:13

[11] 1 Peter 1:9

[12] Luke 6:44, 2 Corinthians 11:13

[13] Whenever I use the phrase “spiritual growth”, I refer to the spiritual process of changing our nature and character to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ as is mentioned in Ephesians 4:13.  This process is under the guidance of His Spirit but depends on our obedience, faithfulness and willingness and is not based upon works but by grace.

[14] Spiritual activities like prayer, fasting, Bible reading, cell-groups, communion etc.

[15] Acts 7:38 (KJV) This is he (Moses) that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us.

[16] Nehushtan means something made of copper or the copper serpent of the desert.

[17] This may be a certain way of praise and worship, a period of fasting or a night of prayer.  It may even be a person or ministry that God chose to use at that specific time of your life.  The very thing God uses today, may become an idol tomorrow.  God is progressive and does not allow us to camp to long at a certain place in our growth and relationship with him.

[18] When using the term Body of Christ, I refer to the Church. See Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:12, 5:23, and 30.

[19] 1 Corinthians 13:12

[20] 1 Corinthians 12:1 (Amp) Now about spiritual gifts (the special endowments of supernatural energy), brethren, I do not want you to be misinformed.

[21] James 3:16 (KJV) For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

[22] Revelation 14:4

[23] Psalm 37:23


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