I, A DISCIPLE OF CHRIST, WHAT I HAVE FOUND TO BE TRUE: The END
I’m starting this letter with the ending. It concludes in these 5 points for me personally, the reasons that I, Debbie McFarlin; who being found of sound mind hereby can declare myself to be a Christ Follower. I, a disciple of Christ.
- I’ve searched my heart, repented, pled the blood over and through my life and found myself and my motives to be pure.
- My heart and my vision are set on following hard after God and His righteousness first and foremost. Before I can dare teach others, before I can give advice or lend even my encouraging words to others, my own life has to be lived as a witness all on its own with or without words!
- Each day I strive to grow deeper and fuller of the Holy Spirit.
- Each day I strive to line myself up with God and His directives and will for my life. That’s not to say that in my learning, I do not fail. However, even in my failing I give God glory and honor for every mistake I make, every wrong direction I take, if I learn from it, it is honorable and silently points a finger to the throne of grace.
- I want to live my life every day in such a way that when I am on my deathbed I will have no regrets, at least not in the sense that I did not give my best, live my life full and love God with all my heart.
Having stated these main points as a conclusion of what I am about to write next, may I stress to you that I take John 14:21 seriously: Those who accept God’s commandments and obey them—THEY are His disciples. I’m convinced that though God knows we are imperfect; we are human with human failings, He gives us each commandment with full expectation that we follow them to our fullest ability. That we obey them is a test of true children to the father. The Father would not give His children instructions that they do not have the ability to obey.
Spoiled children tend to try and get by on their father’s name. Spoiled children strive to hide the things that they do not do in order to look good to the father. Spoiled children try to make themselves look good, not necessarily be good. While I have been a spoiled child, I have also been tested, tried and disciplined as a child. As a true child that the Father desires to make better, further discipline will be required and I will do my best to accept it, honor it and appreciate it knowing that it is for my ultimate good.
The purpose that God has put within every one of us as His children; His disciples, is this: to make disciples of others who obey Jesus by loving God and loving others. If that belief be true, then we must first live it, example it and then teach it. Our lives have to be a witness of that to others every single place we go, in our very dwelling places, in our work place and among every single person; every culture, every race, everywhere! When we fail, we must repent, we must apologize, we must make amends. That’s the life of every true Christian believer; to model Jesus Christ…to be pressed into His image, to be “mini-Christs”.
Matthew 25:40 comes to mind next: To clothe the naked, to tend to the sick, to feed the hungry, to visit the prisoner and to do it as unto the Lord. How we achieve this and the manners in which we strive to carry this out is of course diverse and an individual quest. How we achieve this in our local church is modeled and opportunities given to everyone to carry this out further in their individual lives as well as a corporate body effort.
Let me first reiterate what I have learned over the past few years about myself through church problems, through dealing with other pastors and fellows in leadership, and even members themselves. These are real thoughts from my journals, written to real people about real issues and problems:
We didn’t answer a call just to be figureheads—just pastors in name or my husband to preach—we desire to re-energize the people, and second to carry an existing vision further: to continue to grow spiritually first and in number. All churches start with a vision; with a burden and have been raised under God’s guidance and direction, praying and fasting and following after His heart. We know that has been done with a fear of God; with a deep reverence for the things of God and a love for the people of God.
My husband and I desire to carry that same vision and mission forward—for it to continue on.
We have spent some time getting to know people and them to know us, building trust, continuing to do some things although not visions of ours to minister in those areas long term but for continuity sake. Other than that, we haven’t changed anything—just took time transitioning into the church, jobs, house, etc.
I think we’ve proven to you and to the church that we are serious about 1 thing and that is to continue to do what God is leading us to do for this body of believers. We are not selfish nor headstrong; we don’t force to get our way or to come in arrogantly and/or demanding for the sake of selfish or prideful reasons.
I believe that our spirits bear witness to the fact that we want to humble ourselves before the Lord, pray fervently to be full of His Spirit and to hear from Heaven. If all of us are doing that, then there is no reason we won’t be in unity or have the mind of God for the direction of the church.
At no time did I ever think or plot; have any hidden agendas or even think that you would consider any of this as a ploy to take over, to get rid of you nor to even push you aside. Our whole reason for being here, as God is our judge, was to be partners with you for the Kingdom. Our hearts are open, laid before God in an honest and upright fashion.
I don’t think you have given us a chance to prove what we are capable of. Our desire has been to help you. We cannot be limited in what we do for years, being merely “go-for’s”. As a “called” person you know that it would be near impossible to sit back and only act when and if and what you say we can. We need liberty and freedom to be what God has called us to be and the “permission” to follow after what we feel the Spirit is calling us to do.
We are trustworthy and willing to prove that we are worthy of your trust. If we do things that are not harmonious THEN we expect you to bring us to task. Bring the questions! Bring the people’s perceptions to light. Let’s discuss them. Let’s reason together as adults who have the church’s best interest at heart. Let’s pray and ask God together to give the vision for the future of the church! And then, let’s go forward with our planning, with our goals and with Christ’s purposes reigning in our hearts first and foremost!
You have wrongly judged us based upon trivial matters. You have seen how we operate and you have witnessed our Spirits. To judge us based upon choir robes, flowers, financial report formats, and service order is unfair and petty. Frankly, there are weightier issues at hand. People’s souls are at stake… let’s concentrate on that!
Our desire for change is for the sole purpose of bringing freshness, newness and a renewal to our congregants and to the participants of our services to grow in Christ. Is not that the primary goal? Is not winning the lost our main purpose—our most high calling and commission?
Goals, programs, focus, teaching, and everything else will have a logical sequence and order if we are doing our job correctly. If we are responsible before God to lead a local body of believers to a deeper walk in God and all things godly, then changes will be made in a timely fashion and one that would be mutually agreeable. However, to be squelched on the basis that a person is griping about insignificant and very minor details is to obey that person’s opinions and not God. There is something wrong with that picture.
We (my husband and I) must open ourselves up to the Word of God and let it direct us, or we may as well say, “no, I’m doing it the way I think” and then go about our business without considering God’s will. Ephesians 4:1 says to LIVE a LIFE worthy of the calling you have received. This is our quest; to obey this command. It is a quest to reach and strive for with fear and trembling. If not here, then God will open the door for us elsewhere because you see, we must follow Him and obey Him and diligently seek Him for every direction.
Question: Do you feel like it was God’s will for us to come here? A. No—we made a mistake; we didn’t hear from God or B. Yes. I believe it was and if you believe it was, then why are we letting the devil sabotage the work that God wants to accomplish?
I was looking forward to working in a partnership with you. I thought we could be a dynamic synergistic team and fully expected it to be that way. However, the only way a partnership works is if we are in unity with God first and then we will be in unity together with one another!
Question: have you sought God on these issues that you are disagreeing about? Because we have! I say that without arrogance or pride… I say that with assurance because I know what we have heard. I know the voice of God and bickering about flowers, choir robes, formats or lack of, and whatever other non-essential issues that we have caused anyone to fret about is not it! It boils down to a choice. A choice to obey what God is directing or listen to fretting and frivolous griping.
I have confidence that we can overcome and be in unity with one another and make decisions together—agree together what we feel God’s vision and mission for this church is going forward. But if you want to remain the same and do things the way they’ve been done for years on end, then you will satisfy some people for this particular time frame but you will not be operating in faith or the fear of God and this assembly will die out.
There are no smooth sailing churches with no bumps in the road. You know from all of your experiences in ministry, that there are obstacles to overcome; there are mountains to climb, and valleys to cross. We have personal barriers that we have to bridge. There are and always will be hindrances that we must overcome in the Spirit. There are and always will be obstacles in our path that are for our development that we have to learn to dodge with agility or remove with strength and wisdom.
So you are saying we are control freaks—not because we haven’t gathered the key players together to try and get them involved, excited, upbeat, renewed, but because of a misconstrued idea? How about letting us explain that misconception and discussing it in a way that they can understand? Why haven’t we been able to meet with the ones who do not understand and to talk to them personally from our heart? May I respectfully ask, “Who is being dictatorial?” “Who is trying to control?” Let me ask you another question: How many of you are sweet, pliable, willing, always right, team players all of the time?
What it boils down to then, is we are not being permitted to give our opinions, discuss any ideas, brain storm or consider future projects, much less continue the way we feel God wants to lead because of these matters and based upon the opinions of (at the most) 2 percent of the congregation?
You asked us a question of “what it will take to grow the church?” May I answer that question now? The church will not grow until the ones here presently have a revival of Spirit. By that, I do not mean a “preaching revival” that lasts for a few days, or a weekend and then “concludes” but a renewal in each spirit! A fresh perspective; newness of life that is evident in the singing, on the faces and yes, even in our surroundings. If that takes beefing the place up a bit, changing things around a little—what should stop that? Until then, you have people who come and go because they see a church that is tired and drained. They walk in and there is no newness of life. There is no liberty or freedom, only scrutiny. The only ones who pass scrutiny are the ones who think the same way, act the same way and who have no ambition, drive or calling to be anything more than what exists right now.
He is the vine, we are the branches. Unless we remain in Him, we have no life in us.
We need Jesus HIMSELF! The realness of Him. He is alive! We need to feel that life! God loves beauty and God loves renewal so much so that He created the world to turn and the seasons to rotate and the hours to be renewed—night and day—moon and sun—winter and summer. But WE stay the same year after year after year? I don’t think so!
The church will not grow until you quit making it a competition. It is not a competition… it is lives hidden in Christ. All kinds of lives, all kinds of past living that have been grafted into the true vine. It is not who can decorate better, who can sing better, who can speak better, who can pray better (God forbid!). It is about people…all people… us included, getting so full of Jesus that there isn’t room for anything else.
We have championed unity from the beginning. We have done nothing … NO – thing here that hasn’t been about unity and following the Holy Spirit of God. Our vision has been on creating hunger in the people; to do that not only does the food have to be good but it has to look good and appetizing and the presentation of that food has to be nice and appealing.
Anyone who opposes that vision need take it up with the Lord Himself. That was/is His vision. Our methods to accomplish that may be different, but we all need to line up with that goal. It has to be at the bottom of everything that we do.
One option that must not be settled for and that is to sit down and settle because things might get uncomfortable. God didn’t call us to be comfortable; He called us to battle the darkness. Humans have limits—only God is limitless. Who do we trust in? God teaches valuable lessons through pain and heartache, if we are willing to go through it with Him. He will lead and guide and hold our hand all the way but He will not force us to take a step.
That doesn’t mean that it will be easy, or failure-safe. Even in this present situation—God brings us through in His time and I’m looking to Him for the path around the mountain—the bridge over or the tunnel to pass through it. I will not, however, think that He will desert me and leave me here to fend on my own. There are times that it might seem like it but I choose to trust His insight and not my own.
- We will not always be right and will need do-overs from time to time.
- We won’t always be successful or outdo ourselves every time.
- We won’t ever be able to please everyone or live up to other’s opinions
SERVE EVERYONE—BOW TO NONE
This is a letter to speak what I would express directly to you, if I could. We were judged and tried based on your perceptions; and not just your perceived ideas but on the twisted view of what you want to see. Unfortunately, we had no choice in the matter, nor the opportunity to explain or state our case. I wonder how “unanimous” it would be if all parties knew all of the truth? How can someone draw a truthful conclusion if they were not able to hear any clarifications, ask any questions, or hear the words from our mouths? Who can be so bold as to make that kind of judgment without hearing both sides of an issue? How can there be no valid reasons, no sin, no infractions, no unbiblical movements made and yet you declare us incompetent for the job?
It kind of reminds me of those court room proceedings where the lawyers manipulate the witnesses and only allow them to answer questions that will provide a slanted view. I sat there dumbfounded when people said things based upon screwed up perceptions because it was so ridiculous. Then I realized that innocent ones were misled. This causes me anger. Anger that is directed towards a manipulative spirit. Not a spirit of unity but one of disharmony. I hate that spirit and will not be judged by it. I will not stand in the company of discord. I will not sit in the seat of the scornful. I refuse to be the butt of anyone’s deception.
Although I don’t have the liberty to speak my mind on this subject openly to you, I thought of Jesus and how he must have felt when he saw the money changers take advantage of the temple goers. How dare they take something so sacred, and trample it, misuse it and profit from it so selfishly? The whips that Jesus fashioned that day were done deliberately and methodically for a specific purpose. If I could tear down this wall of immense deception and defend those who were innocently captured by mistruth, I would… today! However, I know that God has to be the judge here and He also has to be the defender of those who were too weak to stand up against this enormously unfair situation. But defend them, He will, because God hates deception too.
I have learned a lot through these experiences. I was distressed for a while because I desired for you to see my true heart. I was hurt because words and actions were twisted to mean something different than what was intended. Then, I was concerned that other’s beliefs were manipulated and opinions strongly influenced, pushed and forced to take sides. They should have been presented with both sides as Paul says, “Come, let us reason together”, in a discussion meant to build up and to hammer out together for the good of the whole. And then the anger starts up again. Resolve takes its place and then comfort comes to me knowing that God is still in control of my life, no matter what and that brings relief. Like a merry-go-round I twirled on these emotions for several days, …no… weeks, maybe months.
But once I was able to “let go” of these things because I really had no control over them, and to only control my own actions, I realized that I can take away from this experience good for my life: Learning, experience, insight, wisdom, and self control. To be harmless like a dove but cunning like a serpent. To be humbled but shrewd in all my endeavors. To trust and obey the Holy Spirit, to be kind but firm, and to please One, and Him only. Therefore, I need to thank you and bless you, for you have been a part of that growth.
That brings me to the conclusion that was placed at the beginning of this communication. First, I repent. If my actions have somehow displayed anything other than what I have stated in this letter, I am truly sorry for that has not been my intention. I have found myself clean of heart and that has ordered everything that I have done here in your presence as well as when you were not around. So I ask your forgiveness if that pure heart has not been evident to you.
Next, I bless you. I pray God bless you with the things that you need to be used in His service. He knows what those things are, I do not. You will be truly blessed even through the fire, if it causes you to be purified and sanctified. I speak blessings for you with whatever it is that God desires to endow you with. Whether it be riches or poverty, sickness or health, trial or peace, may they come in the form that you need in order to grow up in Him, strengthened and perfected in the Only One who can truly know us, as He sees our very hearts. I trust that He send you only those things that will cause you to be true sons and daughters, and that you not deceive yourselves and be lost in the end.
Now I can leave the negative behind me, bring the good with me and go to the next assignment armed with better judgment. I pray that you too, have learned from this. I pray that God give you the wisdom and the insight to lead the church that He has given you charge over, and that you too can say, “We Are Disciples of Christ.”