For 20 years I attended church with my grandparents and parents. Both attended a different denomination. Honestly all I recall mostly is struggling to stay awake during the services. The only great thing about my grandparents church was that it was next to a McDonalds. Secondly there was an elderly lady who passed out candies to the children after church. Thirdly my best friend David went there, but it's not like we had a lot of time to play together.
My parents church at least had breakfast or pastries and juice in the morning before church. So I was able to get something to eat. Beyond those refreshments, I did not find the services to be overly refreshing or invigorating.
I was an acolyte at my parent's church. Of course not by choice. My dad made me do it. I had to wear this long white robe (as if it isn't hot enough already in Florida). Before church I had to light the candles while the organ played some very still sober funeral music. Then during the service before communion, I had to walk up to the altar and pour oil and wine for the priests. The wierdest part was one instruction I was given to pour a bit of wine on the priest's hands during his cleansing. It seems to me that would make your hands sticky. Lastly at the end of the ceremony I was to extinguish the candles. Believe me, by the end of the service, I felt both extinguished and exhausted. Nothing said or done during the services necessarily added to me but primarily seemingly subtracted from me.
It was always good to leave church because the services always seemed to drain my energy. I felt diminished and contained the whole time in church. It was like walking around in a straight jacket being told what to do. I never saw anyone real exhuberance, expression or supernatural breakthroughs.
The big breakthrough came when I experienced a supernatural touch from God in my bedroom. It was then that I myself began to read the Bible and feel the Holy Spirit. How amazing was that! The Holy Spirit's touch and Presence were electrifying. It was like hot oil rushing up and down my inner being, glory filling my soul and fire flowing on and all around me.
Indeed there was a vast difference between God and religion. Thankfully I made this discovery. Sadly however I was bound in dead religion for twenty years, which I fruitlessly wasted while thinking I was pleasing God. The Creator is never pleased when you are diminished and dwarfed by religion. Religion is a work of man to contain and control humanity. God however wants to liberate mankind and fill them to overflowing with His divine love and life.
So I left the dead dumb churches that I was brought up in to seek a spiritual house where God's Spirit was present and flowed in power. I came upon what some would call a charismatic church, led by Pastor Benny Hinn, which was like going to a big party every service. The atmosphere was celebratory and dynamic. People who came experienced and testified of miracles in their lives. They were really turned on and on fire for God. This was way different than the religious funeral services I had attended for twenty years with my family.
Of course when my family saw me escape their dead dumb church they began to criticize and mock me. Yet I gladly endured their stupidity and remained in life giving spirituality. I realize the people attending those churches with my family are sincere and truly desirious of God. Nevertheless that does not change the condition of the churches. Perhaps the sermons at my parents church might have helped some adults, but I never sensed a spirit of faith or inspiration flowing from the pulpit myself. As a youth I was bored to tears there.
Orlando Christian Center on the other hand had exhuberant praise and worship, people dancing and shouting for joy, fiery sermons, altar calls where people received prayer, and best of all divine manifestations of the power of God. I saw many people healed of ailments and diseases. Not to mention I also saw people demon possessed people set free. Watching such occurrences live was way better than going to the movies. I saw excorcisms in church. That is how it was in the days of Jesus. That is how it should be today!
Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever! We should never think to reduce God to our liturgical ways, denominational rigidity, cultural stupidity or fearful conformity. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of liberty. Love, life and liberty are what God is all about. Fear, conformity, stupidity and containment is the hallmark of religion.
Another thing I noticed once I escaped the prison with stained glass windows and began attending my new church was people weren't overly caught up in what everyone wore. It was very liberating to be loved and accepted without the religious uncomfortable attire. Besides nowhere in the Bible does it say Jesus ever wore a suit and tie. I'm not a suit and tie kind of guy.
I am a God kind of guy now thanks to my marvelous discovery of the Holy Spirit and the Bible. The dead churches my family attended were without Bibles. The only person who ever seemed to have a Bible was the priest. Not so at my new church where everyone brought their Bibles and vigorously followed along during Pastor Benny's sermons.
Again there is a vast difference between religion and God. I pray that you escape the confines and tentacles of religion to discover the true and living God who loves and is crazy about you!
Paul Davis is a traveling minister and author of several books including Breakthrough for a Broken Heart and Stop Lusting & Start Living.
Paul is a life coach (relational & professional), popular worldwide keynote speaker, creative consultant, humor being, adventurer, explorer, mediator, minister, liberator and dream-maker.
Paul's compassion for people & passion to travel has taken him to over 50 countries of the world where he has had a tremendous impact. Paul has also brought revival to many in war-torn, impoverished and tsunami stricken regions of the earth. His nonprofit organization Dream-Maker Ministries is building dreams and breaking limitations.
Paul's Breakthrough Seminars inspire, revive, awaken, impregnate with purpose, impart the fire of desire, catapult people into a new level of self-awareness, facilitate destiny discovery and dream fulfillment.
Contact Paul to minister, speak at your event or for life coaching: RevivingNations@yahoo.com 407-967-7553.
For additional info: http://www.DreamMakerMinistries.com , http://www.CreativeCommunications.TV