Six Years Later

Joel HorstToday marks six years since the first post on this blog. It’s interesting to think back on all that the Lord has done in my life over those six years.

Six years ago, I was still steeped in Bill Gothard’s false teachings, trying to live the Christian life on my own strength, and failing. I claimed to be a radical for Jesus, and I indeed wanted to be one–tried to be one–but I lacked the power of His grace to actually be who He wanted me to be.

Then came an experience I described as “The Terror of the Lord“. I believed that God gave me a great working-over about Facebook and my activities there. In the following years, I followed the feelings that I had–do this, don’t do that–as best as I could. Sometimes, the feelings, which I believed came from the Lord, were contradictory, or told me to do completely illogical things. If I failed to follow the impressions I received, I would have terrible feelings of condemnation.

For four years, some of the darkest of my life, I was in bondage to those feelings. My relationship with God suffered. Instead of having the delightful devotional life I had had before, seeing interesting things in God’s Word and blogging about them, I would sit with my Bible in front of me, trying to figure out the insight that my feelings had told me was just waiting in a particular verse. Sometimes I saw something. Sometimes I didn’t. I took weeks to read through the book of Proverbs–I mean, like maybe several months. And it’s not that I was learning a lot from it. I would go to spend time with the Lord and, instead of sweet communion, feel despair, silence, condemnation and bondage.

I also had a poor relationship with my dad. I work full-time on our family farm, and have done so for the last 16 years. Dad’s goal was to teach us how to work, but I wasn’t a good worker. Dad couldn’t trust me to get a job done properly and in good time. If he went somewhere for the day, I usually didn’t get much done while he was gone. It was a constant source of conflict.

In addition, we had numerous arguments, because in addition to being unreliable, I was also too bullheaded to listen to reproof. Eventually, God showed me that, to gain wisdom, I needed to listen better and hear what Dad had to teach me, but we still had many conflicts.

The breakthrough started in November 2013, when we found out about Doug Phillips’s immorality. This was followed, in early 2014, by the exposure of Bill Gothard’s sinful conduct and deception. That really shook me up spiritually. Next to my dad, Bill had influenced me more than any other one person. I was shaken to the core, because Bill’s teachings and philosophies were part of my core. I began to realize that maybe the things that I believed weren’t true, and started seeking to find the truth.

On May 5, 2014, God delivered me from the bondage of following feelings, when He showed me that these feelings were not coming from Him. What a relief!

Throughout 2014, God was working on my life and heart, wooing me to Him, correcting problems in my life, teaching me of the need for His grace. On October 18, I rededicated my life to Him and gave Him complete Lordship over me. This was a major turning point in my life.

 

I want to confess publicly, right here and now, that I was a hypocrite. I claimed to be a “radical for Jesus”, but I wasn’t one. People thought that I was a great guy, wise and dedicated to serving God. In fact, I even thought that I wasn’t too bad. That, however, was false, as was the image I conveyed to people. If you were one of the people I deceived, I apologize, and I ask your forgiveness.

 

Since rededicating my life to God, He has been revealing Himself more abundantly to me. The sweet communion is back, and better than before. 2015 was a banner year, as God worked in our lives and taught our family many lessons. It culminated in us closing our farm store and stopping production of meat chickens, turkeys and pullets, while increasing egg production. Our family relationship is much better than it used to be, and I now enjoy working with my dad. When he goes somewhere, things still get done. We have much less conflict than we used to, and our differences usually get resolved better than they used to.

If there’s one thing I want you to learn from my life, it’s this: follow God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and look to Him for the grace to obey Him. There is no other way to live the Christian life. Rules, formulas, plans, self-help books–they are all worthless for making us into God’s image. Only by God’s grace can we ever do what He wants us to do.

P. S. Please stay tuned in to this blog. My dad, Myron Horst, is busy working on a book entitled The Failure of the Great Amish and Conservative Mennonite Dress Experiment, and you don’t want to miss it when it comes out! Prepare to be shocked, stunned, convicted, and challenged–and your life turned upside-down.

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4 Replies to “Six Years Later”

    1. But at the time, I thought it was so great… 🙁

      It wasn’t until a couple years ago that God started showing me how much Bill’s wrong philosophies were messing up my life. The more He showed me, the more amazed I was, and the more I was disgusted at Bill!

      But it was all part of God’s plan, and looking back from this side of the journey, I’m thankful for both the good and the bad.

  1. “Rules, formulas, plans, self-help books–they are all worthless for making us into God’s image. Only by God’s grace can we ever do what He wants us to do.” So good and true. And I would add, the power of the resurrection as described at the end of Ephesians 1. I remember one time when I was studying that being pulled up short about its life-changing truth.

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