September 22, 2006
Vineyard Christian Fellowship
As I was reflecting on the season of my life attending Vineyard Christian Fellowship I was surprised at how little I can remember from these days. It looks like this journal entry is going to be much shorter than the rest in this series. I couldn’t even find many pictures from this time in my life. Weird.
The years I’m referring to would typically be considered the college-age years, although I didn’t attend college. After I turned 18, I was truly on my own completely. No more guardians, I only saw my family when I visited Texas, and my Nanny only accompanied me on trips. (She was my favorite traveling companion!)
So, as I’m writing, think of me between the ages of 18 – 22. I still attended the “Christian Center” church in Texas when I was home but the majority of the time I attended the West Los Angeles Vineyard Christian Fellowship. We met in the local high school and Kenn Gulliksen was the pastor. Although, over the years, Jim Kermath and John Odean were also my pastors.
I guess the most profound influence “The Vineyard” had on my life was in the area of worship. Up until this point, I had been staunched in a solid foundation of hymns. (For which I am eternally grateful.) At the same time, it was like a fresh breeze from the ocean blew in to that high school auditorium each Sunday morning during the worship service.
I thoroughly enjoyed singing the praise songs. The lyrics were simple, but not simplistic. They encompassed deep truths in a very approachable way. For the first time, there was a real sense of personal connection with the Lord as I sang. I really felt like I was singing to Him, telling Him how much I loved Him, and reminding myself of His greatness and faithfulness.
There was a real “Emmanuel,” “God With Us,” kind of manifestation that happened because of this new worship style. I understood what it meant when the Bible said that God inhabits that praises of His people. It really felt like He was there in our midst. Now, I know that it isn’t all about feelings, but it sure is nice when it is!
This was during the early 80’s, fresh on the heels of the whole Southern California “Jesus Movement.” There was great enthusiasm and excitement in the young people, and this church was FULL of young people. Aside from leading me into a delicious dimension of personal praise, I would have to say that the people were the second greatest impact on my life from this church.
My friends were my life. I didn’t fly home to Texas as often during these years. I worked all day but my life revolved around my friends from this church. I am so grateful for these on-fire, down-to-earth, in-love-with-God, friends. They were truly my family and support structure during some awkward years.
As I reflect some more, I also remember that it was during this time, at this church, that I witnessed the power of Christian counseling. One of my friends, Pam Rice, was an “inner healing” Christian counselor. I sat in on many of her group sessions and learned so much about the importance of having a Christian counselor. What a loss for people who go to secular counselors and can’t take advantage of prayer and discernment and spiritual warfare and supernatural forgiveness and definitive emotional healing from The Healer. Actually, for the longest time I thought I was going to grow up and be a Christian counselor after the show went off the air.
That brings me to the last major influence I can remember from this church. I personally witnessed the power of God in healing, both physically and emotionally, time and time again. The Vineyard operated under the assumption that God is still a miracle-working God and He is alive and well and moving in power today. The years I spent in this church built a strong foundation of faith to pray big prayers to a big God and believe that He can answer them.
I wish I had more pictures to share of this time in my life. I guess I was too young to appreciate the importance of documenting today for the future. At this age I was too busy just living for today – and enjoying every minute of it, as long as I was with my friends.
Posted by weblion at 09:58 PM