I love stories. I appreciate fiction. If done correctly, fiction can take you to places unconsidered and unknown. However, the stories that really get me are the true life stories that also introduce unconsidered and unknown territory. Due to the fact they are experiences that actual people have actually gone through, such tales seem to have that extra bite on them and they become more relatable to me. You know, they are the “you-couldn’t-make-this-up-if-you-tried” kind of tale.
Over the last holiday season, I had the privilege of proofing a book for a precious couple up in Idaho that wrote a book about their faith journey and the lessons learned. Rethinking the Unthinkable in the Light of Love by Chad and Ondrea Kidd was truly a blessing to me as they shared the ins and outs, ups and downs on their road pursuing the King of the Kingdom. Having read it “technically”, I decided to go back through it in order to receive its spiritual substance, and as I always do with every book I read, look for Christ in the pages! I’m glad I did because it was extremely encouraging to me both in real life experiences and revealing Christ!
I thoroughly enjoyed their expression found in the book. So much so, it left me craving even more “real life” stories about Seekers’ journeys. Fortunately, I remembered that the first weekend in December, Misty and I had the honor of hosting a dear brother from California for a weekend. We had been introduced to David a few years back through mutual acquaintances but we had never had the time to spend with one another to really initiate a relationship. So, it was great to have him in our home, meet some of the local brothers/sisters here in North Texas and just spend the time together.
During the course of our weekend together, David provided me with a book he had penned back in 2006 which detailed his journey out of the institution that we Christians call “church”. Remembering our time together and hearing some of his stories firsthand, I knew that if I delved into When the Church Leaves the Building that I’d more than likely satisfy my craving for some more “you-couldn’t-make-this-up-if-you-tried” kind of tale.
Look, if you know me at all or even take a little trip through Forerunner Perspective, you realize that I’m A-L-L about transition, change, reformation and any other synonym of the previously listed words. Doing the same thing we’ve always done and expecting different results is absurd to me. And, I am NOT just talking about the mechanics of “church”. I am talking about how we exist and attempt to identify with Father’s Ways but we ultimately resign ourselves to “doing” crazy stuff and offer it up to Him as if He should receive it! We inherently “do” insane things and then justify ourselves in doing it because we exist as less than what the New Creation in Christ affords. Such things first occurred to me about 20 years ago and they are even more prominent to me today.
In the past year, we have been in a season where Father is requiring that we step out of certain things, release others, repent of mindsets, etc. Such transition “out of” STUFF and “into” Kingdom never stops. So, in reading WTCLTB by Fredrickson, I was seeking further affirmation and encouragement. Let me tell you, the brother’s book – it doesn’t disappoint!
With Chapter titles like: Stop the Revival; Give Me the Real Thing!, Let My People Go and Gathering Around Father within the first few chapters of the book, I knew this book was going to be as juicy as a Sunday afternoon, after church pot roast dinner!
As I read through the copy and entered the different scenarios of David’s experiences, I was immediately taken back through similar experiences that we had along our journey. Again, having had David here with us in our home undoubtedly afforded me a perspective that I would not have otherwise been able to muster. I felt the man’s heart as I read his accounts and heard the inflections of his voice as he told each story, whether the scene was gruelingly awkward and painful or entertainingly amusing. The point being that there was a connectedness in reading the book and it caused me to remember certain things that I had forgotten about our journey.
If you made me choose one passage in the book that ministered to me the most, perhaps it would be found in Chapter 12 under the subtitle, Choosing to Love.
I finally realized that I had a choice to make: I would continue to fight a losing battle for the preservation of my own personal comfort zone or allow God to teach me how to love the people He was putting in front of me with even a fraction of the love he so freely poured on me. I had to face the fact that, although I loved to spend time alone with God, I resented His habit of inviting His friends to invade my life. Yet, I read 1 John 4:20 that “anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” I cringed to think that the intimacy I enjoyed with God was based in sentiment or, at best, a shallow understanding of what love really is. Giving wise counsel was always fulfilling and rewarding, but working it out in my own life was painful and costly.
That sound you just heard, dear reader…………well, that’s the rubber meeting the road! See, what I didn’t tell you is that not only did David decide to leave the institution, the congregation decided to go with him! You know what you usually get when you have a situation like that? A train wreck! Trust me………I’ve been involved and observed a few. It ain’t pretty!
WTCLTB is a transparent view of an exodus and chock full of anecdotes from Fredrickson’s journey and adventure with the “congregation”. Each one is wrapped up in the Godly wisdom and counsel he mentions but you can truly tell that the bow on top of the package is Love that has been worked into the life of a humble brother. There is no question that he is in hot pursuit of entering Father’s intentions and would like for as many as would to join him on the adventure.
It would be extremely difficult to explain how timely and effective both of the books mentioned in this blog were in ministering to us during the season we are in. Encouraging? I’d say! Affirming? Absolutely!! But, perhaps the preeminent thing is what the preeminent thing always happens to be……………the glory of Christ revealed through His diversity, yet contained in His Oneness! His riches are unsearchable, inexhaustible and He works in a variety of ways to bring us all into Him!
I appreciate the courage and faith I know it took for Fredrickson to walk through his transition and, not only keep his heart right but actually allow Father to give him a new one. I also appreciate the time, sacrifice and humility it takes to share those experiences in this book. I know they are authentic and extremely meaningful because I’ve seen the (yet to be) finished product in the man.
I found WTCLTB to be a treasure. I bet you will, too!
Keep your peace!