Season 1 / Church & Family: Grace for Them All - with Bill deVries

In this episode, Bill deVries shares his heart for Church & Family. He is a strong advocate for grace and sharing the Gospel with everyone he meets. He’s not afraid of disagreement and loves his family dearly. Let's hear what he has to say.

Ariana deVries

Welcome to the podcast. I'm very excited to be here with you all today, and especially excited to be here with my father-in-law. Thank you so much for being here, Dad. I'm really honoured to be able to chat with you about church and family.

Bill deVries

Well, this is exciting. It's been fun listening to some of the other podcasts and active listening and things people say. It's been very rewarding and enriching to hear some good things. So hopefully I'll have something worthwhile to say.

Ariana deVries

Well, you have been a great encourager for Scott and I. So, thank you for that.

Bill deVries

Thank you.

Ariana deVries

So for those who don't know you, share a little bit about yourself. You come from a family of nine kids. And tell me a little bit about that. What was that like?

Bill deVries

Right. So yes, I'm number four of nine. There are four boys and five girls and so a relatively large family, I guess part of being a large family is there's lots of things always going on. We lived in a pretty small house. My parents were immigrants from the Netherlands, and probably had a fairly hard go at it, just hearing some of the stories that they've talked about. And growing up, I realize now, we didn't have lots we didn't have much. But we had enough and we had a good time. We lived on a farm for the first number of years of my life. So we would explore and do things boys would do, at least us boys would and that was kind of fun. And then we moved to a very small house for the size of family was a tiny house. So I remember my mom often saying boys outside so we would explore the town in the gorge in our town and, and do those kinds of things. And it was a good life. We were happy we I was happy. I know. Don't speak for the others, but I think they were and we just had a good life and even though my parents didn't have much they didn't first of all act board. And they were very in are still there still with us today, and I even saw them yesterday, very generous with what they have very helpful. And just a model.

Ariana deVries

They care very much about people.

Bill deVries

Well, their life is about people. And even yesterday, my dad was just commenting on that just there's a steady flow of people in their lives and with the size of family, but also the their involvement in church, which I'm sure we can talk a little bit about here.

Ariana deVries

Yeah. So and then you went on to have a family of your own, which I am now a part of with six kids and it's great family to join in with.

Bill deVries

Oh thank you. Yeah, it's been great to have new additions like yourself. Sure. So lots of interesting things, lots of people in our lives. I often say even thinking about life and the number of people we have in our lives because of a large family. My wife being a large part of a large family, having a number of kids, and so on, and also being part of a large church community. I often say these days, "So many great people so little time".

Ariana deVries

Yes. Yes. That quote seems familiar to me from an earlier episode, I think. Yeah. So you were one of the early families in the church that you previously attended. And you helped to build that church up with your wife, my mom in law's dad, right. So what was it like being one of the core families involved there?

Bill deVries

Yeah. So quick bit of background. My father-in-law had, kind of by accident or unplanned, started a small community of believers in their home. And years later, my parents or family joined as well. And it was very raw At first and not unorganized. They were they were organized, but it was it was a fresh start to a church experience. And so yeah, we were kind of on the early side of that, and my dad was an elder. So one of the leaders, of course, my father in law, now being the pastor there. So we were very involved in all kinds of aspects of the church life or whatever. And as we were growing up, they were, of course, the regular programs, the youth programs and such. And then, I guess one of the things I had as an advantage was getting involved in the music a little later on. And so we were just involved in all kinds of things.

I guess, part of being early on, and my dad being an elder, he was also very concerned about how his family would serve the Lord. And so the things of the church were important to him. And I'm going to say he fought for us in a way that he wanted to make sure that things were working for us. And there were challenges along the way. We were kind of bucking the trend of religion in those days. Our parents had gotten saved. That was the way they would describe it from a sincere but religious background and then so they kind of didn't want to be religious. But that meant there were a lot of unwritten things and things that we would do. And I can see now that some people might have thought we were a bit of a cult. Yeah. Because just funny things that we would do that we would, things would happen. But anyways, it was a good time and lots of ways. There were some challenges which we might get into. I don't know. We'll see how it goes.

Ariana deVries

Yeah. And being one of the first families, core families, someone in leadership eventually, your dad being in leadership, did that shape the way that you viewed church?

Bill deVries

Well, I guess it was interesting. Church was sort of the centre of a lot of things; not necessarily the centre of all of our lives. I think family was the centre. Church was a big part of it. And then of course, we had our school and or sports or whatever we did. But church was definitely a big part of our experience life experience. So, of course, Sunday, but then there were we night services, and then Youth Services and things like that. So I guess a lot of things were revolving around church activities. Yeah. And then beliefs, but that's a whole other topic.

Ariana deVries

Right. So as your kids have gotten older, you guys actually decided to leave that church and join the church that we're currently at. What prompted you guys to do that?

Bill deVries

Well, that's a big question. It's a bit of a tough one. We'd been there for over 30 years and a lot of family there, we were well connected, well involved and very passionate about it. We'd gone through a leadership change, meaning the founding pastor to another pastor, and I was involved in leadership at the time. I found it very interesting to study leadership and the purpose of the church and all these kinds of things. But, it's a little hard to explain for sure. But I had a period of probably a year and a half of really restless, sleepless nights kind of just feeling like "Okay, it's time to go".

But I didn't like that thought. I didn't want that thought. We were very much taught and encouraged to bloom where you're planted and be faithful where you are and loyal and all those things that was in our heart to to stay and be part of what was happening, but it couldn't shake this thought it's time to go. And I heard a sermon from another preacher who said, if you've got this thought that you can't shake and it's just in your head you speaking about Moses or something. I can't remember the sermon but it can remember that there's This statement was, if you've got some, something that just you can't shake this thought that you just can't shake, maybe it's the Lord speaking to. So we kind of followed that and said, Okay, let's move to a different place. And let's just go to one place and just commit ourselves there. And that's what we've been doing for the last 15 years at this called second place.

Ariana deVries

Yeah, so then you have then in turn, made this church, your family and your community, which you're very good at doing. And you're very good at creating a place where people can feel safe with you and with your family. And I really appreciate that actually, in that people know that when they talk to Bill that it's someone that they can trust.

But my next question then is, how have you been purposeful and doing that? How have you been purposeful in creating a space where your kids especially feel safe to come to you with tough questions and thoughts and wondering about the universe and their journey and their place in the world. Because, I know Scott has said that a lot, you are someone that he knew that he could talk to you about those things without feeling judged, and I felt that too. We've had some great conversations about faith and theology and life and everything.

Bill deVries

A little passionate every once in a while.

Ariana deVries

Yeah, and you've taken it in stride. And I'm curious how you've gotten to that point of being able to do that with hard things.

Bill deVries

Yeah. So that's interesting and kind of important, actually, to answer that question. I think because, early, early on, when I was a new parent, my dad was gracious enough to pull me aside one time and say, “You can't control your kids”. And I was in, I guess, relationship enough with him and in a frame of mind or whatever to receive what he was saying and understand it. I was going to be the perfect parent with model children. And they were going to do exactly what I said the way I said it, and all that kind of stuff. And he did pull me aside and said, “That's not going to work”.

Now fast forward another 10-12 years or whatever. And as our kids became young teens, the question started coming. Why do we believe this? Why do you believe this? And I'm not sure I believe that. Questions like that. And I began to at first think, “Oh, these kids are well...I don't know if that's a rebellious thought, or is it? Are they questioning kind of our core beliefs? So that maybe they won't land in the same place? And what if they don't believe what we believe?” And all of a sudden, these fears started coming for a short time. But then this thought dropped into my head - the one girl who was asking these questions - she doesn't know what you know. She hasn't had time to process what you've processed. She needs to process this for herself. And who better to help her than me?

So when I cast those fears aside or set those fears aside and thought in those new terms of, “Hey, this is not a project.” That's not the right word. But this is an opportunity for me as a father to walk through processing what we believe with my kids. That changed so many things. And so then the next number of years up till today, literally, we're asking questions, and I guess I don't have the fear that my kids won't land where I've landed.

For starters, I'm not worried that they won't love the Lord or follow the Lord. I think a lot of that's pretty solid and the Lord will sort that out. The other part of it is, I've realized in that journey how much I have changed. So when Scott would have asked me years ago, what if everything we believe isn't true? And I would say, “Scott, I thought this through already, and I've come to a place of understanding certain things. So that isn't the way it is”. Well, then I look back on that now and say, “Okay, there were many things that I would have believed a certain way, even at that time that I don't believe the same way now”. So our faith, our beliefs, our view of things evolve over time. So that's been really helpful. So I'm not afraid of that.

In fact, I would recommend to all parents, when their kids start asking questions. Oh that reminds me of a guy. He said to me one time - like I kind of joke with people once in a while I say something like, “Your wife and kids treating you okay?”, or something like that. This one guy said, “Oh, my daughter's just driving me up the wall”. And I said, “What do you mean?, He said, “I wish she would just do what I tell her and not not talk back to me”. And I said, “How old is she?” And he said, “12 years old”. I said, “Buddy, you're going to lose”. And he looked at me. And he said, “What do you mean”? I said, “you can't approach a relationship, telling her at 12 years old what to do, you're going to lose. What you need to do instead is walk with her” and I told the story, like I just did earlier. And he said to me, “This was a divine moment”.

But really, if you start off saying, “Just do what I say. Don't ask questions” It's not going to work. Then I also think, going forward, when a teenager ends up, let's say in university Psychology 101, I've been in that class. One of the first things they like to do is dismantle everything you believe and knock it all down. Well, by having the conversations all along then when my kids would get into psychology 101, the questions that they're asking to try to dismantle aren't going to knock the kid down nearly as much because they've thought these things through already. But, I do feel for those kids who haven't had a chance to process any of this. They might have been in a sheltered environment and never asked the questions. They get into those types of scenarios and are totally unprepared. And that, I think, is a bit of a tragedy.

Ariana deVries

Yeah, I am curious. Now, this may be something that's a little bit controversial, though. But if someone in your family or your kids, or something like that - close friend - were to ask questions beyond the Gospel, how would you handle that? And how would you still have grace for them if they don't seem to be resting in that? If they're still questioning and going beyond that, and still searching and don't really seem to come to a solid place or the same place that you have in that?

Bill deVries

Okay, that's good. Like you and I have talked about certainty. So I have an assurance of faith. My faith in Jesus is pretty solid. I'm not worried about it. I'm not worried I'll lose my salvation or anything like that. And I've heard people use the term deconstructing quite a bit. For me, it's not so much deconstructing as maybe dismantling some things or letting certain things go. I guess when people have Jesus as the solid foundation, the anchor, whatever you want to call it, then I'm not too worried about what they believe. They can explore a little bit of things and it'll all come back to Jesus. I mean, that's really the...

Ariana deVries

What if they explore a lot? [Laughter] Sorry, keep going.

Bill deVries

Yeah, well...

So I guess I'd like to encourage people that the historical evidence of Jesus is pretty solid. The fact he rose again, I think, is fairly clear. People have talked about this and say this for many, many years, and much more than I would have ever, for sure. But there's no real explanation for the church. Other than that there was a resurrection, which is really the pivotal point to cross the resurrection. But if there had been no resurrection, there would be no story, there would be no Christianity, because it would have fizzled out. But what was it that caused this whole Christian movement, the way back then the disciples to preach the gospel? What was it? There's no real explanation other than a resurrection. Well, this changes everything. So if somebody would explore lots of different things, I would say, that's fine. I mean, it's everybody's free to explore. But I really think that there is something very real and very powerful and true about a specific message and that is, there was a Jesus. He came for a purpose. The stories of him are true, the resurrection did happen. And that changes everything. And so I'd like to at least help and encourage people to see that and then from there everything else can flow. So, I don't know if that answers your question. I'm

Ariana deVries

Um...ish. So like for the families who would have somebody who say is agnostic or atheist, and then some others are Christians, and they're kind of split. How can they still get along as a family?

Bill deVries

Oh, yeah, that is very different. I think we need to have love and grace for everybody. I have people in my life who are very different from me think very differently. I'm thinking like in a work situation, people who are not in belief system, like I'm in the totally different, but that doesn't change any of my rules. What does God's love look like flowing through me in this moment? What does that look like? If that person's Hindu or or agnostic or atheist or whatever, it makes no difference. These people are all loved by God, the same as me. No matter what people are doing or believing or how they're acting, God loves them as much as he loves me. They are as much his children as I am. So then all I need to do is just love them.

Ariana deVries

Yeah. Have you ever worried that your kids or grandkids may go too far in their questioning?

Bill deVries

No. Some people have asked me that, actually. And I'm not worried because when Jesus is the foundation, we can...let's take an analogy of I'm on this rock in the middle of water. And I got still a tether to the rock. Now I can jump off the rock and the winds can blow and the waves can beat or whatever, but that rock is still there. That’s solid. So I'm not too worried about that. I think that we're going to be okay. They're gonna be okay.

Ariana deVries

Yeah, so something I've heard you say over the years, especially in regards to things that we don't want to do is to choose your attitude. Is it something that you still believe? Or do you do differently now? Or how is it changed in light of your beliefs?

Bill deVries

Oh, I see. So, as a little kid, I would maybe encouraged to kid just choose to be happy. I think there's still a choice to be happy. I think it's okay to acknowledge when we're struggling, probably would be much more open to that now than I would have been. I don't think it's a clear answer, like, just accept an attitude of defeat or an attitude of confusion or something like that. I think that there's something we can do. But it's not as clear and cut and dried and as clear as it used to be.

Ariana deVries

Right. Because I know for some kids, that works great. And for others, it doesn't. And that's part of your personality, but it's not part of somebody else's. And so...

Bill deVries

Personality - you say that. We've been, as a family, learning more about personalities, which is a very helpful thing for me as a parent, to have gone through some of that with me, like the 16 personalities or the Enneagram, and so on. So to help understand why, let's say my kids think differently about certain things or respond differently or whatever, a lot of that is attributed to their personality, my personality. So I’m much more aware of that now than I had been.

Ariana deVries

I feel like that's helped our family a lot, especially in recent years of us all being on our own faith journeys, and learning how to understand each other through that, and how to ask questions appropriately, and what to do when someone responds in a certain way, or what have you. It's been very helpful, and has been very helpful for me to understand you better, because we've had our share of clashes, so to speak, but we get along super great, but I think it's because we understand each other.

Bill deVries

And that's been a very helpful tool, or those have been helpful tools to be able to recognize, okay, where's this coming from? Why does this person respond this way, or act this way, or think this way or do these things? And a lot of that is because of personality. And when we understand that, then it's not a question like, why don't you do it the way I do it? It's okay. This makes a lot of sense. Now we have grace for one another. I agree that understanding brings that grace.

And we can then also be free to be ourselves. Having said that, I do recognize, we were talking earlier about my Enneagram number eight, and I was talking with somebody about that today. Where I recognize some of the things that my personality might come across as either abrasive or confrontational, or whatever. And so I can work on those things to not necessarily do that or if I do, to explain why I come across that way. So then it's also not only having grace for one another in how they respond, but when I act a certain way or speak a certain way,. So I like to throw out confrontational, controversial topics. I realize now that's part of my personality. I have to be careful not to just think for some time, come up with a conclusion, throw out that conclusion to somebody and say, “Here's what I've been thinking”, and they just have no context for where did this come from? and stuff like that.

Ariana deVries

Yeah. And being a strong personality, you're very, I want to say very sure of what you think and believe and know and you want other people to share your experiences because you've experienced something that is wonderful, and especially in regards to the gospel and with grace and with your family. You have a great family and you would like other people to be able to experience that to some extent as well. I feel like that would be the case. And I know that you have some very strong, non negotiables in regards to church and family. So then I'm curious, how have you joined the two? How have you figured out how to care about church and the community there, those in leadership, while also caring very much about your family, and not prioritizing one over the other?

Bill deVries

Yeah, quite good. Before I go too far down that road, I am very, I guess I want to put out a disclaimer to people who are listening. First of all, I am coming from a very traditional family. Yes, I'm in a traditional family, meaning, you know, husband, wife, kids can thing and I'm very aware of That that isn't necessarily the norm for people. So...

Ariana deVries

We're very privileged.

Bill deVries

Well, we are privileged. I've been given so much. And I am very grateful for those things. But I do also want to be mindful that with family it might, for a lot of people look a little differently from mine. So I don't want to assume or be naive about that. So just just being aware of that.

But two topics, church and family, are big topics. Actually, earlier in the year I was thinking to myself, I'm going to try to spend a whole year not saying the word church.

Ariana deVries

Sorry I messed that up for you.

Bill deVries

This is maybe one of those controversial things or whatever. But when Jesus said, I will build my church. I've learned from other sources that that word church really should be community. I'm building my community, I will build my community, and we often, with the word church, think of a building. We often think of a one hour, two hour service, or whatever it may be, and that is what we think of as church.

But I don't think that that's what Jesus came to die for. He didn't come and do what he did and then die for us to have a weekend service for an hour, hour and a half. So what did he come for? He came for a community of believers; people who would follow him. And so anyways, just wanted to clarify that a little bit in my own mind.

Then, so family and church growing up and then with our own family, in some ways, they were intertwined. That's, I think, unique and unusual. So we certainly did a lot of things as family that were church related. So we kind of did them together, they kind of were in harmony with each other and that didn't seem to be a burden to any people, any buddy that I know of, in the family, but so as that kind of grew and so on. We as a family would be doing these church activities. But we also realize, or I realized more as time goes on, that church activities can often distract us from other things.

I also want to say that with church and family if one would trump the other, family always trumps church, in my perspective, family always comes first. I remember my dad years ago as a church leader, as an elder was responsible also for visiting people and all that and he has made the comment that he came to a point through different circumstances that he said, I will commit to two evenings maximum per week for church", because we can go too far. But then what you can end up doing is either losing your family so to speak, alienating them, or making them not want to love things about the church or whatever. So we don't want to do that...I don't think. And then realizing that the church is serving the family. Now the family can serve in the church. But really, it's the church is for the family. Family comes first. And I also would say that the family is our first ministry, so to speak. What's our responsibility? First, it's to those in our family. And then from there we go to other people.

Ariana deVries

Well, I remember once a couple years ago, we wanted to go as a family to the beach on a Sunday morning. And you told the leader of the team that you were a part of that you wanted to do that and you received a bit of flack for that. I remember this very vividly. But you stood up for the fact that you wanted to spend time with your family. And that actually meant a lot to me that you chose that. You said, "No, my family matters, and I'm going to set aside this time. Even though it may seem frivolous, family's important".

Bill deVries

So it is. Family trumps church.

Ariana deVries

Not to say that church community is not also valuable. Because, it's different. Yeah.

Bill deVries

Correct.

Ariana deVries

So if someone would come up to you and ask then, "how do I get my kids to like church"? What would you say?

Bill deVries

Well, that's a loaded question. I don't know if this is helpful. It might be unhelpful, but you might not be able to get your kids to like church. [Laughter] And maybe we're asking the wrong question or trying to do the wrong thing there. There are some people who may never like church if we call church or think of church as that hour, hour and a half service on a weekend at a building with a whole bunch of people packed together and such. That really isn't church. That is a gathering of believers. So that's that comment about trying to avoid the word church. I don't want to avoid the word church. I'm just trying to think through what this all means.

But anyway, so I know people who very much struggle with the closeness of a lot of bodies in the same place and just the overstimulation of sound and if the music's louder.

Ariana deVries

And again, going back to personality type.

Bill deVries

There you go. I know for myself that if I was in a church, quote, unquote, if I was in a church that the music wasn't great. It was grate on me. [Laughter] And I'm not sure I would stay. Now I know that sounds, probably to a lot of people, very carnal or unspiritual. But there are things about...well, I guess I'm just carnal or unspiritual person in that regard. [Laughter]

So I guess I understand how some people may have it may find it difficult to enjoy that kind of environment. I also hate to say it this way, but a lot of churches don't do a very good job of making it enjoyable for people. And that then makes it so that people aren't interested. So it's a bit of a challenge, a very big challenge actually, for church people to do church well, so that it is encouraging and uplifting. I guess part of the challenge there too is what is the message? Is it encouraging, uplifting? A lot of times people come away from a church experience feeling a little more beaten up, or feeling a little more guilty, or I got a new, bigger task list or something like that. And the way I understand it is we're here to encourage and build one another up and not to tear each other down. So that could be all part of it. And generally speaking, very few people in the church environment have control over all of that. It's a small group of people who are in leadership. How would somebody get their kid to like church...could be a difficult task as an organization or a weekend service or something like that. So I would encourage people in that situation, maybe don't try to get your kids to like church as much as love on them. Talk about the grace of God. Maybe as time goes on, they will also show the love of God to others. And that's a little bit of what Jesus came to get us to do. Yeah, so I don't know if that's helpful at all. Seems like I was rambling.

Ariana deVries

No, that's okay. Do you have any ideas of how we could do things maybe differently? That would be more encouraging, more exciting, I don't know.

Bill deVries

Well, I don't think that trying to look for...let's say somebody doesn't like the weekend services; a gathering of people that we can try very hard and spend a lot of money and have better lighting, music and more and all these kinds of things. I would suggest instead that those things aren't all bad in themselves, like all else being equal, like I said earlier, good music is better than bad, but if the message is the Gospel, meaning good news, and it's clearly presented as good news, then I think people will much more be encouraged. And if people come and they are encouraged and this is on a consistent basis, that they are encouraged, it will be much more likely that they will want to be they want to be there, like to be there, maybe invite others to be there, those types of things.

So I think the biggest difference...sometimes people have said "what this church needs is"...and then they fill in the blanks. And if somebody would say, "what does this church need...any church, I would say they need the gospel to be clearly presented. The good news, meaning Jesus came, he came to set up a new order. I guess, realizing that what he did was set up a new system that is very different from the old where the old was we are to do certain things to win his favor. He said, If you do these things, you'll be blessed. But if you don't, then bad things will happen. But the new order the new system, is very different. He's done all the work. I just rest in what his finished work has done for me. I don't have to do anything to win his favor. I've got it for free. And that's such good news. It's fantastic. And really, all that is done for me. And that then can prompt me to love others and that's the gospel in a nutshell, I think.

Ariana deVries

Yeah. What would you say to someone then who's struggling to communicate with their children, especially adult children or friends about church and faith and doubts and all of that. And then on the flip side, what would you say to someone whose child has maybe left the organized religion of church? Or whose families have been hurt by the church? How can we have grace and share the gospel them?

Bill deVries

Well, for anybody who's been hurt by the church, I would like to say "I'm sorry". We often haven't done a good job. We come across judgmental. Sometimes we as church leaders, get caught up in our own little world of how we want things to be. And lots of times well meaning and all that, but what we do is we end up alienating people, or not recognizing the real need that people have, and turning them away because we say, “Hey, we want certain behaviours, certain ways.” And we're coming across with that expectation, maybe that demand that you've got to behave a certain way, and if you don't, you really don't belong. And when people feel like they don't belong, because when nasty things were said, or judgment was felt or whatever, I'm just sorry, because that's really not the heart of Jesus. The heart of Jesus is to reach out in love to accept people in all situations.

So I would say to somebody whose kids have maybe walked away or people have been hurt. It's not the end of the story. That's one part of it. There's much more that yet that can be written yet, and, or experienced yet. And the Lord starts working in somebody and he likes to finish what he starts. And so it might not look like what we want it to look like when we, let's say, monitor behaviour, monitor attendance at a church service or something like that. That might not be what we expect, but I'm not sure that that's the right measuring stick or those are the right metrics to use. God is working behind the scenes, he's working in the hearts of people. And I think a lot of times people will have given up on church so to speak, but they haven't given up on God or faith or Jesus. They just don't like the experience of what they've had or people have mistreated them. But I also would say to somebody who has been hurt and left whatever. Do the best you can, to the best of your ability, not to hold grudges against people, but even then extend grace to others. We all need to extend grace to one another. And people see in part, do things in moments of insecurity, weakness, whatever it might be, and we got to maybe understand that a little bit too. I don't know. Yeah.

Ariana deVries

So what is it that you love most about church?

Bill deVries

Well, for sure that’s people. I guess, the community, the relationships that are built - back to that statement, “So many great people so little time”. An example is I play poker with the guys every week during the winter, and we just play poker and sometimes that's all we'll do. And then there are other times we will get into deeper discussions, or individually, be in pairs, or whatever, face to face , or when we're in a group, could be after church service or whatever. We're more connected because of that, and to me that kind of connection is where it's at,; where we can just, again, encourage one another and lift each other up and be part of each other's lives. I feel very, very, very rich in that if I ever had an issue, problem, challenge, and I needed help, I could text any one of those guys anytime of the day or night, and I know that any and all of them would drop what they're doing to help me. Well, that's powerful. And that's the kind of community that we have to be able to just do life together. That's what I really love about church.

Ariana deVries

And that's exactly what I would say, too. I also have the community of friends like that; that I know that I can call up for anything, and they'll be there. And that's what makes me love church. Totally. So then what do you value most about family?

Bill deVries

Well, actually the same thing. My kids won't remember because they were just born, and I did it with the grandkids too, when I held them the very first time , each one of them, and looked at them and talk to them. Of course, they couldn't understand brand new I in each case, one of the things I said to them is you don't know it. But we're going to be friends. It actually when we went to this new church two years ago, but back then I said to my wife, these people don't know it, but we are friends. But the problem is you can't be friends with all with everybody at the same level. And that's the challenge. The plus side is we've got these people in our lives. But the downside is, there's too many! Not really too many in a bad sense, but you just can't be really, really connected with everybody. So that's just the challenge of it all.

Ariana deVries

Yeah, and I know being part of this family. I appreciate how you have made the time to be with your family, and to put in an effort to have those tough conversations that need to be had, and to show us that you care to be with us, and show your love through your actions and not just your words, has been very appreciated and has been a great example for us in how to do family well. So thank you.

Bill deVries

Well, thank you for those kind words. I also realize that I am in progress.

Ariana deVries

Definitely, all of us are.

Bill deVries

Yes. Back to that, I throw out these these confrontational types of things or whatever. I realize sometimes I will say something, and then realize maybe that didn't go over very well. And even recently, just being more aware that I want to be cooperative with people rather than adversarial. Sometimes my nature can be - I see something I want different. And so I'll do something or say something in a way that maybe isn't helpful. So anyway, I'm learning. But I do want to be cooperative and join in with what Jesus is doing. And that is showing love to people.

Some of the things I've been thinking of recently is, how can I show the love of God to people in my life? What does the love of God look like in this situation? And that's really what I want to model more and more. And to do that in a way that just expresses the heart of God to people.

Ariana deVries

Yeah. So how's your experience with church and faith changed over the years?

Bill deVries

Well, do you want this to be the short answer or the long answer? [Laughter]

Ariana deVries

It can be as short or as long as you'd like,. Just be true true to your journey.

Bill deVries

So I started off in a religious but sincere home. My parents, like I said earlier, joined a church that was much more non religious. And so that kind of was foundational in a lot of ways. I was very young at the time. It didn't take long though, that we ended up having a lot of rules. Many are were, I guess, unwritten rules about how to live and dress and do music and all these kinds of things, which weren't really helpful to a lot of people. But anyways, we also very much studied Christian principles or principles of living from a Christian perspective. Yeah. And that kind of was formative to us. But I didn't realize at the time that actually that wasn't helpful. And, well, it was helpful to live a better life and all else being equal. It's good to live a good life than a bad life. But it's not Christian necessarily, because certain things that we do, let's say, good manners are honouring leaders or managing her finances and all these kinds of things are good principles. But they're not necessarily Christian, but we kind of linked them together. And it wasn't until fairly recently, I read Paul where he said, "Don't go by human principles that are designed to wear out with use". So it's not about principles that is our life.

I mean, I remember when my kids were getting older, I actually wrote a guidelines for conduct or something for our kids. This is all, you know, these kinds of things based on these principles. But I didn't hand it out or share it with anybody because something just didn't sit right, but I couldn't quite figure out what it was. Well, fast forward a number of years, quite a number of years. And it wasn't terribly long ago that something changed. And it was based on a sermon that I heard about the Sermon on the Mount. And growing up and for many years, I would even memorize a sermon on the mount is okay, Jesus, teaching is what we're supposed to do live better and all these kinds of things. But when I realized kind of, as I was saying earlier, this new covenant actually takes place at the cross. I realized from hearing that, that Jesus's teachings - Jesus was born under the law, as Paul says, "speaking to people, also under the law" his teaching was in the Sermon on the Mount telling people, essentially, you know what the law said that was kind of like a minimum standard, but I'm telling you, and then he would tell people a higher standard, and I thought, that's what I need to live. Like. But in analyzing it a bit further, he was saying things like, if your hand offends you cut it off, which we don't do. If your eye offends you pluck it out, which we don't do. Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. So okay, that's probably not very many. Then be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. These are all in the Sermon on the Mount. But none of us are doing these things. So he wasn't actually telling us Christians how to live, he was saying, "This is really what God demands".

Ariana deVries

And it's impossible. [Laughter]

Bill deVries

The Christian life is then impossible, which is the point. Now that sounds like pretty obvious, I guess, in some ways, but to me it was crucial and pivotal, because suddenly for me getting the perspective that the cross is when the New Covenant starts, makes so much of what Jesus taught much clearer. my beliefs have changed very much from a principles based sort of Christianity or belief system, to very much a an understanding or better understanding, I think, of what really did Jesus accomplish. And when he died and said, It is finished, what was finished. Well, the work of what God needed, was done. And we are now recipients of that finished work of Jesus, which is such good news gospel, good news.

Ariana deVries

And it is good news for the church. And it's good news in our families. And if we are able to talk about these things, in our church, and in our families, then I feel like that's how we get to have healthy families and healthy churches.

Bill deVries

Well, for sure. And then sometimes I get into a conversation with somebody and somebody will say something like, you know, I've been, I haven't been reading my Bible enough. I need to pray more. I need to whatever and no, you don't need to anything. So when somebody in my life will come and say, "I'm tired of it". Tired of what? Everything? What do you mean, you're tired of everything? I'm tired, I need to pray more. I need to read my Bible more. Like I said, I need to love my wife more. I need to I need to I need to. No. Stop it. Stop it already. Because Jesus said, "I have come that you may have rest for your souls". What is that rest? That Sabbath rest that Paul talks about? It is that work is done. We now rest in the finished work of Jesus, and that is so freeing.

And then what does it do? It changes me. His life in me, changes me and produces his fruit, his love. And is church important? Family important? They're both very important. Church meaning community.

I was thinking just the other day, about the nine fruits of the Spirit. So you get things like love, and patience and kindness, goodness, do you think about those? How many of those are tied into community? Things like humility, generosity, all these things are tied to community and that's, I think, important that we live in community with others and show the love of God and all these things. So that was a long answer. Could have gone a lot longer but still.

Ariana deVries

That's totally fine. So, as I close this my last question for you is, what words of hope and encouragement can you offer to those who are trying to figure out how family and church can work together and they're not quite sure how to do that yet?

Bill deVries

I guess back to...the story isn't over yet. There's there's lots to be written. I think the thing too, is to realize we're all in a journey together, as I mentioned earlier, maybe process together, allow people to think differently, to encourage people to think differently and express that. So in the family environment, like I was saying, with the teenagers, to have these questions, allow these questions to process these questions together. And I hope that the church can do the same thing where we're just allowed to and encouraged to Let's share we don't have to agree but we all love one another.

And so I'd like to encourage people that church might not look the same as what you expect it to look like, or what it looks like now might look differently in the future. But it's not about the church service or the attendance on a Sunday. I think that's important. It's more Are we being the church? Are we loving one another? Are we living the life that Jesus wants us to live, which is reaching out to others encouraging one another, and that can take so many different forms? And I think we can be creative in doing that. So that would be the kind of encouragement to them I suppose.

Ariana deVries

Well, thank you for chatting with me today; sharing your heart, sharing your journey.

Bill deVries

Thank you for having me.

Ariana deVries

I know that a lot of people look up to you, me included, for a pillar, so to speak, of faith and family. So thank you.

Bill deVries

Thank you; appreciate it.