March 31, 2019
Recently I received an invitation from Wharton, TX Grace Community Fellowship to attend a new teaching series entitled “Breathing Room”. My memory banks were activated.
GCF Wharton has come a long way from its small humble beginnings back in the early nineties. When I leave my home and drive east on Boling Highway I am amazed at the large well-kept campus of the church. The clean bright buildings blend well with the new Middle School campus. A sight perceived in the mind of both religious and educational leaders from earlier times did in fact come to fruition. We can be thankful for the insights and determination of a few people who envisioned the future then acted in order to see it completed.
The leadership of GCF has done remarkable job in keeping its footprint visible. The small one room store-front on the square has grown into a multi-million dollar business with similar new buildings in outlying communities. It has given “Breathing Room” to countless individuals who support it to a fault. Hundreds of lives have been changed through the years since if first became a community of believers.
When I say my memory banks were activated what I mean is I can remember my early days there. I remember when Sunday School consisted of someone sharing an experience they had with the Holy Spirit. A lesson they had to learn because something in their life needed change. Lessons of real life shared with each other so we all might learn from it.
I remember when worship time could go on for hours or sometimes not at all. Again often time the result of a personal experience someone would break forth in a song. No one knew the words but soon the entire congregation was singing it together.
I remember when we walked to neighboring churches on a Sunday morning and shared services with them.
I remember getting together with other churches in the area just to worship, to praise God and to share experiences with our sister congregations.
I remember when on Easter Sunday we would gather for sunrise service with teachings from a real Jew who understood many of the traditions of the Jewish religion. After the teaching and worship time a breakfast brought in by the congregation was served and fun and game for the families were enjoyed in the afternoon. Happy Times!!
(It could have been breakfast first and services later)
I remember when groups met in homes and issues were discussed sometimes personal sometimes general but always a way to lift each other up. Transparency was the by word during those time. Don’t be afraid to share your needs regardless of what they were we are here to help was the invitation to one and all.
I remember having a baptismal service in someone’s swimming pool and what a beautiful experience that was. Again the whole congregation was celebrating the new life being dedicated to the Lord.
I remember when the goal was to cover Wharton County for Christ. The entire congregation would unite in prayer and fasting for weeks at a time. Special times of service for others was normal.
I could go on and on with memories however memories don’t do much for the present. I will say without hesitation most of the time I spent there was some of the best time of my life.
What is going on now is the question? I admit I know very little about GCF today. What I do know is I do not have faith in the program today as I once did. I know I will not commit a penny or an hour of service to the program.
“Breathing Room” to me is an oxymoron. This institution is not much different than thousands of other across the country. Religion today will smother you until you cannot hear the voice of God. It will keep you so busy doing the work of the Lord you will never be able to even know what the Spirit is saying to you now. Any time you are required to follow a set of rules regardless of Bible base set down by man or you are out you are being smothered. (If you don’t believe like us you don’t belong here)
Cookie cutter worship times, cookie cutter home groups, cookie cutter congregations with their cookie cutter buildings will never take the place of a Spirit led group of people who come together with one purpose in mind which is to serve one another. Serving an institution of religion is not serving God nor man. Religion can and does accomplish much good in our world. Religion is also responsible for spreading discourse, hate, adversity, envy and most all the no-no’s of the scriptures. Religion keeps souls separated from God and attached to a man, a building and or a set of rules. These are the things smothering us and a nine part study on my physicality, spirituality, emotions and financial awareness will only draw me into more and more dependence on religion and less and less on God’s guidance for my life. God alone knows me, my spirit, my emotions, my capabilities and so much more I don’t know about myself
Breathing Room for me was when I left religion completely and learned to trust the Spirit within me to show direction, purpose, capabilities and limitations in my life.
March 31, 2019