Last September I offered a post called The Church I Love. In that post I mentioned that out of all the churches I ever belonged to, only two of them really jazzed me. I then spent the rest of that post describing, briefly, the first one – New Life Church in Abilene, Texas. I now want to take some time and tell about the second one, Vandelia Church in Lubbock, Texas.
I don’t usually post praises of the church. This blog spends a LOT of time and energy calling out the church of America that so blithely closes the homeless out and consigns them to the cold of night. I regularly pray and work in every imaginative way I can to change that, and I am not at all bashful about criticizing this huge (and yet almost unnoticed) elephant in the room! AND YET… I love the church. I am a critic from within! Like Israel’s prophets of old, I am very much FOR the people of God. I just am FOR THEM BEING FOR GOD rather than their Republican agendas, their home security, or any other phenomena that get in the way.
That said, I have a handful of very beautiful experiences too. Experiences that teach me… that open my mind, my heart, to ever new dimensions of God’s will for this world. It is entirely appropriate that I share those too. And I hope that describing these experiences will challenge the church to repent ever bit as much as my criticisms.
In this post, I introduce Vandelia Church – a church I have referenced extensively throughout this blog. I became involved with Vandelia about a decade ago and fell in love with that body even more passionately than I did with New Life, if that is possible. Perhaps I should not say “more than”… but I did spend a lot more time and energy at Vandelia and my ministry took on far more dramatic and prophetic dimensions there. And in fact, I have so many experiences to share regarding my time with Vandelia that I expect to turn this into a series of posts where I account for and explore my very small part in the church history of that body.
However, to come to a fuller disclosure, I will say that my relationship with Vandelia has been a rocky one for the last 6 years. In fact, I suffered (still do) some deep disappointment with that body shortly after I announced my desire to commit to prophetic ministry there. That too is ironic because the very first time I ever visited Vandelia was when I attended a conference that discussed prophecy in the church where I first learned that it SHOULD be desired (something else I previously posted on here).
Shortly after I announced that I desired prophetic ministry, I attended worship on a Fourth-of-July Sunday and took an American flag to church with me. I held that flag in my left hand along with my Bible in the same hand. I let that flag trail on the floor behind me as I walked through the lobby and the hall to Bible class and then to the sanctuary for the worship hour. I called it “Drag a Flag” Sunday. It was my prophetic dramatization of that PROUD flag bending a knee before the LORD in his house.
There were a lot of pie eyed expressions and pursed lips as I did that. Only one man confronted me about it later, but I certainly found out after that “We will NOT listen to you” – as one of the shepherds told me on another occasion. I made that symbol of American pride and power bend the knee in the House of the Lord, and it pissed off a lot of people! The unspoken message was LEAVE OUR IDOLS OUT OF THIS!!! And I became functionally shunned. I earned a prophet’s wage right in my own beloved church home! (Mark 6:4 anybody???)
Yeah…. We’ve had a rather icy relationship since then. But I never stopped loving that church. It just seems to be from a distance and from behind the ice now. And there are other developments that came in shortly after “Drag a Flag” Sunday when Vandelia officially embraced the book (and “philosophy” of) When Helping Hurts. Quite frankly, Vandelia still needs to repent from that too.
Back to the LOVE part(s), I write here so bluntly, and open with these blunt words because when I say that I love this church, I want you to understand that I mean it. I have reasons to take my marbles and go home. But there were about 5 years of rich experiences that I don’t think even most of Vandelia really knows about, experiences that I have to share which for the Glory of God need to be shared. And I expect that I need several posts to do that justice.
So… please stay tuned as I share what I think are some truly mind-blowing Spiritual experiences that I found in a little West Texas church of Christ (of all places) that have power to confront the Rulers and Authorities in the heavenlies. And I will post them under the title: The Vandelia I LOVE.