This next section chronicles, in a nutshell, the next 8 years of my life where, for the most part, I was alone, single and learning much about God.
About the time I accepted God in my life (or, depending on the point of view, He called me), I started going to a church. This non denominational church taught some basic things that, at first, I found interesting. However, after a year, I became bored. After all, the pastor spoke about things I already knew from reading the Bible. Thankfully, they hired a youth pastor who took special interest in those young people who wanted to grow in their faith.
The next few months under his leadership excited me. He gave us a book, Youth Aflame , a manual for discipleship, and began to teach us from it. Unfortunately, his tenure at the church did not last long. One day, he disappeared. I was told that he quit, though some said he got fired after a falling out with the pastor. I simply knew it was sudden. Thrust back into the main sanctuary, I found myself becoming bored, and wishing to learn more about God, then what was taught there.
I eventually quit that church, and spent the next couple of years studying both the Bible and this discipleship book. The more I read both, the more I questioned our typical church structure. I struggle to reconcile the current, modern church set up with what I read in the Bible (That’s a topic for another post, one day). At the same time, I tried about a half dozen different churches. As I saw issues that I had struggles reconciling with God’s Word, I would ask those around me, or the pastor directly. The responses I received left me struggling.
I stopped attending churches altogether. A couple of years later, one of my friends urged me to find a church. I eventually felt led to join an Assemblies of God church located about 35 miles from my apartment (Talk about a drive!). Intimidated by its size, I almost quit before I started. Yet, after a service, I felt welcome there. Furthermore, I felt I learned something from the message.
I continued to attend to a number of months. During one service, the pastor asked those who wanted prayer to come to the front. I went. As he prayed over people, they fell over backwards. I began to worry… when the Pastor prays for me, should I also fall back? I didn’t know what to do. So, when he came, I fell over.
I left, very confused. Was this feeling an empowerment of the Holy Spirit? I did now know. I began to question my faith and my attendance at the church. Later, I heard a radio broadcast. I know it God answering my concerns, as the speaker mentioned the very church I attended in regards to a book he had written. I bought the book. I also bought a couple of books, written by the pastor, from the bookstore of the church.
As I read both, it was abundantly clear that the book from the radio speaker was filled with historic fact, Bible reference and a logical line of thought. Filled with ‘personal testimonies,’ the book by the pastors lacked any Biblical backing. I confronted the pastor. He reminded me that in God’s Word, Satan will be the accuser of the Brethen, implying that any who would accuse the church of Christ must work for the Devil. I was stunned.
In those years, I learned the importance of reading the Word of God. Through the years, including the situations above, it protected me from false teaching and from falling away when those teachers caused me to question my faith.
More tests would present themselves. But, that is a story for another day!