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Immanuel: God With Us

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”

– John 1:1-2,14




OK, everybody, let’s just take a breath here and pull it back a notch.

Obviously, the response from the article “IT’S BEEN A WHILE” has been overwhelming but revealing, to say the least. What it shows me is that there are plenty of wounded people out here – mostly people who used to get along with one another.

What’s going on?

Let me say right here that any nasty comments will be edited or deleted because the object of this debate is not to hurt each other – it’s to debate, to discover, to provoke, to rethink, to reveal truth. Yeah, truth. But we must do it in a loving way.

Let’s speak the truth in love, OK?

I’ll start by saying that I was personally offended by comments about my wife and I that weren’t true. We stand accused of “tearing down our brothers and sisters,” “taking off and abandoning friends,” “being petty” and carrying out our ministry as a job or looking for a job, when none of those things could be further from truth or reality.

We have faithfully worked in local churches and overseas for more than 34 years, never expecting nor taking anything in return. Anyone who really knows us knows that we have always wanted only to serve God, our church and our brothers and sisters, here and around the world. That’s the truth, and we’ve given the best years of our lives exemplifying that truth. No one can take that away from us.

However, there came a time when we saw things coming in and taking root in our church that we felt weren’t scriptural, that were out of balance and that we had to speak up about. So we did.

The reason people think we abandoned them after 16 years is that we left quietly. We had no desire to cause a disruption in the body, because we love the people we served with for so long. The last thing we were going to do was start a campaign to defend ourselves or try to turn people against one another.

We spoke our peace behind the scenes, to the pastors and elders, and were pretty much ignored or dismissed. As an elder, I shared my heart, my dreams and my God-given vision with the pastor for more than two years – several times to the point of tears. It was very frustrating not receiving any encouragement or direction, even after asking for it, directly, eye-to-eye.

In the midst of this we saw doctrinal error and danger, and were told there was none. We saw imbalance, and heard that everything was fine. We witnessed the loss of a vision, and were instructed that the original vision came from naivete and a youthful arrogance.

We kind of liked that naivete. It smelled of faith. Of dreams. Of multiplication. Of working together toward a goal that would stretch us all to the limit, but one that would bear fruit.

So we had no choice but to leave. No fanfare. No thanks. No goodbyes.

And the explanation was left up to the pastor.

So if any of you got the impression that we abandoned you, or that anybody was blindsided, you got bad information.

Let me ask you this: If any leader of a local church leaves unexpectedly, shouldn’t that arouse some curiosity amongst those who think they’re sensitive to the Spirit of God? Shouldn’t those same people ask their leaders why these people left? What’s the real story? What’s really going on, because something just doesn’t smell right?

I think some smellers are off, because it appears that most – almost all – of our friends just believed what you were told, and didn’t bother to check with us to see if it was true. A few of you called and asked, so we told you why we left.

But it hasn’t made a difference. The error is still in the church, and it’s because most people don’t want to see it, don’t care enough to speak up or are too afraid to do so. It seems there’s so much apathy few truly care – either about us or how the church is run. And when people like us do say something, we’re misrepresented or worse.

Some of the recent comments on this blog have been harsh, and that’s because good people have been hurt by other good people. Feelings run deep, and that’s OK. I pray the discussion continues and grows, because there’s a greater discussion that demands attention, and it’s not about one local church in a small suburb of Detroit.

It’s about the condition of the Body of Christ in the western world, and the model we’re supposed to be following. It’s going to take courage to look at ourselves honestly, admit our mistakes, correct our errors, forgive one another and ultimately let the world see Jesus through our love for one another.

Maybe that love starts right here, in the midst of a painful argument, just like families sometimes do. Maybe God will use this as a starting point for aiming us all in the right direction.

Or maybe nobody will read this blog again. I don’t know.

It’s up to God, isn’t it?

What do you think?

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