Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Put Your Trust In God

I have heard many things over the years that I am now taking the time to go back and re-examine. I have always liked to study and look things up in different Bible translations and commentaries, but I realize I have let some things get past me. I am trying to figure out how I allowed myself to accept so many things and why I didn't find out if they were really true before I believed them. I want to make sure from now on that I am keeping a watch over and guarding what goes into my heart and the hearts of my children.

When you submit yourself to a certain church, their focus will most likely become your focus. That's a good thing when they are teaching the Bible and pointing people to Jesus, but sometimes there are things being taught that aren't in line with the Bible. There are those who pull scriptures out of context and try to make doctrines out of them. People stand up and say, "God told me this," and everyone automatically believes it. I don't care who it is - when someone says that God spoke to them about something we should not accept it until we find it in the Bible. There are many differing teachings out there in the world and we are responsible to find out which ones are right. You can go to 2 different churches and hear 2 different teachings on the same subject, but how will you know which to believe? The only thing you should take at face value is the Bible. Make sure the Bible supports it before you base your life on it.

The truth is plain and simple. When it starts to become hard to understand we need to take a step back. I remember when I first got saved I loved to read my Bible. I was learning all about God and what I needed to do to please Him. Things over the years seemed to get more difficult to understand because people were teaching their "deep revelations" and they got away from the simple truths like:

*Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. (Matthew 5:6)

*Let your light so shine before men. (Matthew 5:16)

*Seek ye first the kingdom of God. (Matthew 6:33)

*The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray that the Lord will send laborers into His harvest. (Matthew 9:9)

*Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:37)

*Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39)

*Go into all the world, and preach the gospel. (Mark 16:15)

*Rejoice because your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20)

*For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son. (John 3:16)

*Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6)

*The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. (Romans 5:5)

*I will never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

I could go on and on, but I'm sure that many of you can relate to what I am saying. These are the scriptures we began to learn in the beginning. We can't get away from these simple truths. I have been going back and reading these scriptures and I feel like I am newly saved.

There are some teachings out there on money, tithing, and increase that people seem to be placing above everything else. There are a lot of new believers coming into churches and they aren't being taught simple foundational truths like the ones I listed above. Statements are being made in some churches that seem to say that everything good in a person's life hinges on the tithe. I do not believe that God withholds things from people that Jesus already provided just because they don't tithe. I cannot find in the Bible where it says that your healing is based on whether or not you tithe. I Peter 2:24 says, "By the stripes of Jesus you are healed." This verse is so clear about what brings about healing. It doesn't say that it's by the tithe you are healed. To say that you need to be a tither to receive from God brings works into the picture, but we are not under works, we are under grace! God does things for us because He loves us! When things like this are taught it makes people put their trust in their tithe instead of putting their trust in the Lord and His love for them.

I have heard teaching for years on I Corinthians 3:6 which says, "I, Paul, planted, and Apollos watered, but it was God who gave the increase." These verses have been taught in reference to financial increase. Just because the word 'increase' is used does not automatically mean that God is talking about money. I looked this up in a Bible commentary and it was not referring to money at all. I thought what it says is quiet ironic. Look at what it says.....

"Paul was reminding them that the ministers about who they contended were but ministers, mere instruments used by the God of all grace. Some of the people in Corinth seem to have made more of them, as if they were lords of their faith, authors of their religion. Note, we should take care not to deify ministers, not put them into the place of God. Apostles were not the authors of our faith and religion. Observe, all the gifts and powers that even apostles discovered and exerted in the work of the ministry were from God. The success of the ministry must be derived from the divine blessing. Ministers are nothing of themselves, can do nothing with effectiveness and success unless God give the increase. The best qualified and most faithful ministers have a just sense of their own insufficiency, and are very desirous that God should have all the glory of their success. Paul and Apollos are nothing at all in their own account, but God is all in all."

I have looked at certain scriptures for years and wondered why I didn't read it the same as some ministers do. I guess I just thought I wasn't getting the same big revelations that others were, but now I see that I wasn't supposed to. I want to have financial increase throughout my life. I think almost everyone probably does! But I don't think people should use a scripture that really doesn't even apply to try to make a point. It says what it says and that is what God meant!

Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and He will give you everything you need." God tells us in this verse how to bring blessing into our lives and it's by putting Him first. A few verses up, Matthew 6:24 says, "No man can serve two masters. You cannot serve God and money." Money is a tool we can use to do many things, but it can never become the main priority in our lives. I Timothy 6:17-18 says, "Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others." The things that should be taught are found in this verse - don't put your trust in money. Put your trust in God and the simple truths in His Word!

Monday, July 28, 2008

God's Unconditional Love

Another subject I've been thinking about and studying is God's unconditional love. I have heard about His love my whole life. I heard once that someone asked Billy Graham what was the most important thing he had learned in all his years of ministry and he said, "Jesus loves me, this I know." We have all sang that song, but did we really grasp the fullness of it? I think people can have a hard time believing in God's love for them if they have been through a tough time in their life. You see it all the time - children who grew up with an abusive father have a hard time relating to God as a Father. I have also seen how a person's view of God's love can be affected by being in a controlling, abusive church. Just like children think that their parents are a picture of God, I think young Christians look up to the church leaders to show them who God is. Church leaders should always point people to Jesus and be a picture of His love, but that doesn't always happen and it has caused some precious people to stumble.

I can see how people have the wrong impression of who God is because of certain things that have gone on in controlling churches. I think people unknowingly place God in the same category as the men of God in their lives. When they see their leaders acting in unloving or manipulative ways they automatically think that these men are representing God's character. I do not expect anyone to be perfect, but using ordinary, everyday people skills is a good place to start. They should just stop and ask the question, "How is what I am about to do or say going to affect this person?" One time I was in a meeting and I was pointed out and embarrassed in front of the whole congregation. I wanted to burst into tears and run out. I was able to hold it in, but I was standing there thinking, "Would God do this to me? Would He embarrass me like this?" I don't believe that He would ever do anything to hurt any of his children, but I can understand why people would question. I think some of the ways God is portrayed are very insulting to Him. I can see Him wanting to call out to people, "That is not the way I am! I am a gentleman!"

I saw something on the Internet the other day that made me cringe as I watched. There was a guy talking about a meeting he was preaching at and he said he was walking down the prayer line asking God why He wasn't healing people. (I know this sounds terrible, but I want to make a point.) He said that God told him that he needed to kick this certain lady in the face. He looked up and saw this 60 year old lady standing there with her eyes closed. He said he kicked her right in the face with his biker boot. I don't see how anyone could believe that these were God's instructions. Would God - a loving Father - ever tell someone to kick a lady in the face? I know if someone kicked me or my daughter in the face, my husband would be very upset. What are these types of behaviors saying to the world? Simple common sense tells us these are not loving behaviors. No wonder people in the world are not running to the church. Why would they want to subject themselves to things like this? Let's take the simple love test - would you want someone to treat your wife, mother, or child like this? Would you want someone to hurt them or call them a name? If you wouldn't, then neither would God.

I heard of a story where a young man had not been to church in years, but his family finally talked him into going. He had always had a bad case of psoriasis on the back of his head, so he wore caps to cover it up. He walked in the front door of the church and was met by someone telling him to remove his cap. He tried to explain to them that he needed to wear the cap because of his condition, but he was told, "I don't care what your problem is, you can't wear a cap in here because it shows disrespect to God." The young man turned around and walked out and never went back to another church. He wanted nothing to do with God or church after that. He had not been shown the love of God. That saddens me greatly. I don't think God cared for one second if that young man wore that cap into church. I think God cared much more about his soul than a rule!

I shared these stories, not to make people upset, but to show that these are not God's ways. His way is love. When people don't show His love, it's not His fault. He gets blamed for a lot of things He never had a part in. The church must keep their focus on God's love! Love is what really matters to God! People's lives could be hanging in the balance and one act of love could make the difference. Churches should never be so focused on keeping rules that they overlook a hurting person who needs the love of God. That young man should have been told, "Sure you can wear that cap, we're just glad you're here!" I John 4:7-8 says, "My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love - so you can't know Him if you don't love." These verses are very clear. If people don't love, then they don't know God - God is love!

I haven't heard many sermons taught on God's unconditional love, but I believe that people would be drawn to God much more because of His love for them, rather than the fear of what will happen if they don't follow the rules. We must realize that we can't do anything that will make Him love us any more or any less. The truth is that we don't have to do anything to earn God's unconditional love. We already have it! Think about it this way - do your children have to do something to earn your love? Do they have to give you money to make you love them? Do they walk around on pins and needles scared that if they make one wrong move you will pound them? No! We love our children, and there is nothing they can do to earn our love. We love them, not based on what they do, but who they are. God is the same with us! We were created because He wanted to have children to love and there is nothing we can do to earn His love. He just loves us! These are the things we need to be more focused on if we want to reach a lost and dying world.

I have heard it said many times that if people see us prosper and see us live in big houses they will want to serve God. I think that you can live in the biggest house in the world, but if you don't have love, people will not listen to you! People are looking for one thing to fill the void in their lives and it's God's unconditional love.

*I have added links on the sidebar to some wonderful articles on God's love.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What Does The Bible Say?

*A lot of this post is just me thinking out loud. If I learn later that I am wrong in anything I say, I will make it right. I am simply asking some questions and trying to figure some things out. If anyone has any thoughts or insight on these things, please comment.

Someone asked me the other day, "So how do you know which ministers are saying the right things?" I am not the one to say who is right or who is wrong, but I know that the Bible is the Word of God and that is what we must base our lives on. We should never just believe something because it comes from behind a pulpit. We have to take our Bibles and find out what God is really saying to us.

I went on to have a long conversation with this person and I shared with him what my family has been doing. We have taken our Bibles and we have begun to read them as if we are reading them for the first time. I think a lot of times people have added to what the Bible says, when what God expects us to do is take His Word for what it says. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about.....

"Jesus said to them, "If you can't understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? The sower plants seed by taking God's Word to others. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy, but since they don't have deep roots, they don't last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God's Word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God's word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God's Word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred fold." (Mark 4:13-20)

Many times people have taken these verses and used them in reference to having "good ground" for sowing money into. After reading this passage again recently, I don't see where these verses have anything to do with money. If you take these verses at face value and don't add anything to them, these are verses about sowing the Word of God into your heart. When Jesus talked about producing a hundred fold He was talking about the seed of the Word that fell on the good soil of a person's heart. I just don't think Jesus was referring to money here at all. Has anyone else ever noticed this?

A lot of people have been talking about the anointing lately, so it has caused me to do some thinking. I went to the concordance to look up the word "anointing" and there was only one scripture reference in the New Testament. (There are references to the word anoint, anointed, and anointing with oil, but only one for the anointing.) This one verse is I John 2:27 and it says, "The anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in him." Other translations don't even use the word anointing - some translations say, "As you have received the Holy Spirit...." That tells me that we all have the same anointing. We received it when we were saved. I just don't see where some anointings are higher than others. If I am thinking correctly, we all have the same Holy Spirit living in us and I don't think He comes in different degrees - one person is not higher than another in the eyes of God. Does anyone know of any scriptures that say something different?

I have heard ministers say that they have to "protect the anointing." What are they protecting it from? Isn't the anointing for the people? We see in the Bible that Jesus was always out among the people and it did not bother Him when people bumped into Him. In fact, people were healed when they came in contact with Him. Is the anointing so fragile as to be shaken when people have needs. I think the anointing they talk about, and the Holy Spirit are one in the same. John 14:26 says that He is a Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Stand-by. I have drawn the conclusion that the anointing would be all these things to the people. Would He withdraw Himself from the very people who need Him? I'm wondering if sometimes people feel like God may be unapproachable because some of the men they look up to are unapproachable. Here are some verses that tell us how it is supposed to be....

"I have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it's like to be a leader, in on Christ's sufferings as well as the coming glory. Here's my concern: that you care for God's flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way. When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with his rule, he'll see that you've done it right and commend you lavishly. Any you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for God has had it with the proud, but takes delight in just plain people. So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs." (I Peter 5:1-6)

Another thing I have heard so much about over the years is tithing. In some churches it seems that the tithe and money is all you hear about. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying anything negative about tithing or giving. Actually I love to give. It makes me happy when I help someone in need or when I give to a good cause. I also think it is good and right to support the church you attend with your finances, and I do. What I don't understand is why some churches feel that they have to pound it into people by teaching on tithing week after week. I think sometimes people feel like they are being forced into giving instead of being appreciated for what they do give. And since when did teaching on the tithe become more important than teaching on Jesus?

My husband grew up tithing in the Baptist church. It has always just been a way of life for him because he made the decision to tithe early on. Many people grew up the same way. I know of churches that say, "We are not going to pass buckets, if you want to give, there are buckets in the back as you leave. You just do whatever is on your heart to do." I love that! They believe that people can follow their heart and they don't have to try to force anyone to give. Sometimes money is never mentioned in a service at the church I am attending, but every time I put my offering in the bucket, it's full! People have a heart to give, but I think they can get to the point where they lose their joy and cheerfulness about giving when they feel like they are being fussed at or pressured into it. And I feel that it is wrong when people are told that God is not going to do anything for them if they don't put something in the bucket. Listen to these verses....

"You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving - the needs of the believers will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God." (2 Corinthians 9:7-8 & 11-12)

I believe that most every Christian has the heart to give. It's just in our nature because of who our Father is. I am not looking for a way out of giving or tithing, I am looking for the places to give where I can help the most people.

I really am searching for answers and trying to see things from God's viewpoint. Sometimes I feel like I am starting over. I know I learned some good things at my former church, but I am trying to figure out what to take with me and what to leave behind. I know this is a process that will take time. I just want to get back to the Bible and stay on the right track. If I see it on the pages of the Bible I will believe it fully. I think people can get overloaded with rules and trying to meet a certain standard that is placed on them by people, and not by God. I want to keep it simple and live out my life doing the things that really matter to God.

Friday, July 25, 2008

New Links To Check Out

Be sure to check out the new links I have added to the bottom of 'More Helpful Articles'. There is some good stuff there.

Stand Up

Can one person really make a difference? I read a story on the Internet that illustrates so well how one person standing up for what they believe in can change things. It is believed to be a true story. This is the story....

There was a professor of philosophy at USC who was a deeply committed atheist. His primary goal for one required class was to spend the entire semester attempting to prove that God couldn't exist. His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic. For twenty years, he had taught this class and no one had ever had the courage to go against him because of his reputation.

At the end of every semester, on the last day, he would say to his class of 300 students, "It there is anyone here who still believes in Jesus, stand up!" In twenty years, no one had ever stood up. They all knew what he was going to do next. He would say, "Anyone who does believe in God is a fool. If God existed, He could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking. Such a simple task to prove that He is God, and yet He can't do it." And every year, he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor and it would break into a hundred pieces. The students could do nothing but sit and stare. Most of the students were convinced that God couldn't exist.

A few years ago, there was a freshman who enrolled in the class. He was a Christian, and had heard the stories about this professor. He had to take the class because it was required for his major. He prayed every morning for 3 months that he would have the courage to stand up no matter what the professor said or what the class thought. He hoped that nothing could shatter his faith.

Finally the day came. The professor said, "If there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!" The professor and the class of 300 people looked at him, shocked, as he stood up in the back of the classroom. The professor shouted, "You fool! If God existed, He could keep this piece of chalk from breaking when it hit the ground!' He proceeded to drop the chalk, but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the pleats of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. As it hit the ground, it simply rolled away, unbroken. The professor's jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk. He looked at the young man and ran out of the lecture hall. The young man walked to the front of the classroom and shared his faith in Jesus for the next half hour. 300 students stayed and listened as he told of God's love for them.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Real Life

I have been thinking a lot about the service I went to the other night and I so appreciate the fact that a minister talked about the things people go through on a daily basis, in real life. He didn't try to give a formula for success, but he talked about real problems people face and what to do about them. People do have problems and just pretending that they don't doesn't make them go away. I went to a church where you had to keep up the appearance that everything was always great in your life. If you didn't, you were "not in faith." We just pushed things under the rug to keep up an image, but the real issues were never dealt with.

In controlling churches, how things look on the outside is so much more important than the people on the inside. Image is everything. The better the image, the more successful you are. You are taught that how you look is what really matters. You are told - dress nice, dress your kids nice, don't chew gum, keep your cars clean, hang out with wealthy people, and don't get to-go boxes at restaurants. What is all of that about? It's about image and it makes people feel that they are not accepted for who they are. I just don't think God cares about things that some make such a big deal about. The image is not what God places the importance on. The people are what really matter to God!

People have real problems, and churches, of all places, should realize that. When people are told they can't come for counseling, but instead they need to sit in church for their answers, real help and compassion should be offered in the services. The answer is not always to give more money. The ministers talk about their increase and their great anointing. They tell the people they need to follow them and rise to their level. I think some ministers have forgotten where they came from when they first started. They shouldn't point people to themselves, they should point people to Jesus.

I'm sorry if I sound a bit punchy today, but I talked to a friend this morning who is struggling because of being in a church like this. I'm upset that these churches have caused so many people to feel like they have no one to trust. I realized something today - I have been talking about how free I am, but she hasn't reached that place yet because of all the hard questions she still has. I don't want to be so caught up in my own life that I forget about the ones who are still having a tough time. These things should never be taken lightly - peoples lives are involved.

I never want it to come across like I'm down on the church (the body of Christ). The kind of church I am referring to above is a controlling, abusive church. I have found a new church that my family really likes and it has shown me that there are people and ministers out there who love God and love people. I also never want it to appear that I'm downplaying faith, because the Bible tells us to live by faith. I have just realized that faith is not a formula. Faith is not pretending you don't have problems. Faith is believing in a person - Jesus Christ. Faith is trusting in the truthfulness of God's Word and His love for us. I know that He will never roll His eyes or sigh if I bring my questions and problems to Him. He welcomes all of us with open arms and He will counsel us as much as we need it.

My prayer is that my friend, who I talked to today, will find all the answers she is looking for. If there was anything I could do to help and take the hurt away, I would do it. I want the very best for her and her entire family.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I went to a church service tonight and I heard a message that really touched my heart. It seemed to be a message that was tailor made just for me, and yet I looked around and saw many tears. The name of the message was SCARRED. The young minister began to talk about the many different types of scars people have - physical, emotional, and spiritual. My children and some of their friends were sitting in front of me and I thought about some of the most recent scars they have experienced. I thought about my friends who have been through the same things I have with a church and some have been through a lot worse than I could ever imagine. As he began to talk I knew that this service was going to bring healing to my life. It would take too long to try to cover it all, but I want to share a few things that really helped me.

He had some great illustrations - see if you can picture these things. He had everyone stand who had any type of physical scar. Almost every single person in the room stood. This signified how our co-workers, our friends, and strangers we come in contact with, all have scars that we don't know about. He also had a girl walk out with a jacket on, looking really happy, but when she took her jacket off, she had on a white shirt with pieces of red tape to symbolize scars in her life. He played a video of different people, who looked happy, but each one told about an event in their life that had left an emotional scar. The things he said and the illustrations he gave made me so aware that there are people all around us who are hurting. Then......

He shared about the scars that Jesus has and how He was thinking of each one of us when He took each blow. Each time Jesus was beat He thought about how much He loved us. Jesus pictured us in His mind and had thoughts of how we would be somebody in life because of the scars He was taking. Because of what Jesus did for us, we can overcome the scars in our lives. This young minister shouted, "Jesus thought we were worth it!" I was so reminded tonight of the love Jesus has for me and you.

He concluded the service by saying , "Jesus doesn't want us to let our scars defeat us. He wants us to use them to help others!" We all have scars that hurt, but when we look back and remember how we got them, we can use what we have learned to help others. I left there with great hope and a resolve to help as many people as I can. That's really what this blog is all about. I care enough that I don't want others to have hurts that cause scars in their lives. I thought about many of you tonight - ones who have been called names, ones who have lost children, ones who have lost friends, ones who have lost jobs, ones who have been mistreated, and I just want you to know that Jesus loves you and I love you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

On a Lighter Note

I came across this list on the Internet and I thought it was so cute. Guys, this is probably just for the ladies, although you can read it too. I wanted to post it to spread some happiness. (I added the last item on the list.)

Happiness is:

  1. Falling in love

  2. Laughing so hard your face hurts

  3. A hot shower

  4. No lines in the supermarket

  5. A special glance

  6. Getting mail

  7. Taking a drive on a pretty road

  8. Hearing your favorite song on the radio

  9. Lying in bed listening to rain outside

  10. Hot towels fresh out of the dryer

  11. A chocolate milkshake...or vanilla...or strawberry

  12. A bubble bath

  13. Giggling

  14. A good conversation

  15. The beach

  16. Finding money in your coat from last winter

  17. Laughing at yourself

  18. Running through sprinklers

  19. Laughing for absolutely no reason at all

  20. Playing with a new puppy

  21. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you

  22. Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep

  23. Making new friends or spending time with old ones

  24. Having someone play with your hair

  25. Sweet dreams

  26. Hot chocolate with marshmallows

  27. Swinging on swings

  28. Making chocolate chip cookies and eating them

  29. Having your friend send you homemade cookies

  30. Holding hands with someone you care about

  31. Watching the expression on someones face as they open a much-desired present from you

  32. Watching the sunrise

  33. Watching the sunset

  34. Getting out of bed every morning and being grateful for another beautiful day

  35. Knowing that somebody misses you

  36. Getting a hug from someone you care about

  37. Knowing you've done the right thing, no matter what other people think

  38. Being free and knowing what really matters in life

The Simple Love of God

I got an email this morning from a friend and she shared a great passage of scripture with me. I want to share it with you....

"Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity. God brings the best out of you, and develops well-formed maturity in you.

We are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? Let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy, share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody." (Romans 12:1-15)

When my friend sent this to me, she said,"This is what we should model our lives after." I can agree with her, this is the way I want to live. There are so many things in these scriptures that stand out to me. The Message Bible always says things in a way that hits close to home.

One thing that really bothers me is all of the severed relationships - it's like chopped off fingers that are talked about in the above scripture. If they aren't severed yet, they are being held in secret. It's not freedom when people are afraid to go to dinner with an old friend for fear of being seen with someone who left the church. It's not freedom when the people who you have been friends with for years are afraid to speak to you for fear of someone "telling on them." Since when did it become normal for a person to be told who they can and cannot speak to? The scriptures above talk about being good friends. They talk about loving deeply. In these churches you are expected to cut-off all relations with anyone who has left. If you don't, you are labeled a "renegade." This is so sad to me! This has left so many people wondering, "If a friend can so easily cut me off, then were they a true friend to begin with?" I have compassion for all of the people who feel they are required to cut people out of their lives, because they really don't see what they are doing (at least I don't think they do). One day I think they will see and regret it. God forbid that it would be too late to restore their relationships.

Another thing that is even worse than severed friendships is severed family relationships. We have had the impression that we have to "endure" family events because our families don't believe like we do. We have felt we were being persecuted, when our family was really looking out for our best interest. When I told my brother I had left my church, he said,"My prayers have been answered!" He had seen the control I was under and he was genuinely concerned. We should take the time to enjoy our families while we have the opportunity. I have always told my children, "If a relationship ever starts to come between you and your family - be it a friend, a girlfriend or boyfriend, or even a church, it is not of God." I know there are exceptions, but for the most part this is true.

Why have people gotten so far away from the simple love of God? It breaks my heart to see a husband and wife divided or when I hear that people haven't seen their children in years. These things should not be. The church should be the ones saying, "Go be with your family." If we would just read the scriptures and live by them, then we wouldn't find ourselves in situations that we regret. Most of the things our parents taught us about being nice to our friends, not keeping secrets, and taking care of our brothers and sisters, were right! We shouldn't let others pressure us into acting in immature ways. When people say, "I won't talk to those people who left," that's immature. The verses above say, "God brings the best out of you, developing maturity in you." I want God to bring the best out in me, and that's His love.

I guess you can sense my passion about this. I have seen the hurt on too many faces. We must all realize that so many things that we thought were right and important because of the way we were taught, pale in comparison to what really matters in life. God is not hard to figure out. He is love and He wants us to love others. If something promotes division, it is not promoting God's love. While reading the scriptures above, I was impressed at how much they exemplify love, freedom, unity, laughter, happiness, and friendship. This is what we should model our lives after.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Why Keep Secrets?

Another characteristic of a controlling church is being "secretive." This is the "can't talk" rule in a reverse role. This is the leaders not sharing any information with the church members. Jeff Van Vonderen says, "When you see people in a religious system being secretive - watch out. People don't hide what is appropriate; they hide what is inappropriate." I was watching a talk show one day on cults and a psychologist said that the number one thing that raises a red flag with him in churches is when people are secretive.

People give of their lives, their time, and their money faithfully week after week. It just doesn't seem to be right when these hard working people are told, "You have no say in any church matters." How can a church stay in unity when only a handful of people know what is going on? It's not asking too much when people want to know how the board members are selected, how the board functions, how the money is spent, or how much money goes to missions. Asking questions like this does not show disrespect to the leaders. It shows that you have an interest in the place you give so much of your life to. There are so many smart, trustworthy church members who really just want to help make the church a better place. It's not abnormal to ask questions, it's abnormal for people to sit back and let someone take control without knowing what's going on behind the scenes. Leaders should be glad when they have men and women of God who care enough to ask - it shows strength and character.

I recently went to a meeting at a church where anyone interested in knowing more about the church could come and ask questions. All of the questions I mentioned above were talked about openly. I didn't ask any questions because they covered it all up front, but I sat there and smiled through the whole meeting thinking, "So this is the way it's supposed to be." I felt like these people respected me enough to give me a voice. I always want to have a servant's heart, show respect, and be kind to all people. I want to teach my children respect and good manners, but I want them to have enough self-respect not to allow themselves to be controlled or manipulated by anyone.

If you see things that you question, don't just blindly go and give yourself fully. If you can't get your questions answered, you should be asking, "Why are you keeping secrets?"

Friday, July 18, 2008

Your Voice Counts

I wrote a post several days ago about the "can't talk" rule. This rule is one of the characteristics of a controlling church. Basically this rule says that you are not supposed to ask any questions or talk about any problems. If you do talk or question, you become "the problem" and you are then labeled disloyal or rebellious. I have been thinking about this a lot lately and I want to add some more thoughts to what I shared previously.

In a controlling church you are not allowed to voice your opinion. The consequences you may have to pay are not worth the chance you take for raising a question or an opposing opinion. This leaves you feeling like your thoughts don't count and you're not important enough to be heard. I think this characteristic is one of the most damaging because it takes away your voice and your individuality. It eventually begins to weaken your self-esteem. When someone tells you that you don't have a voice, it stunts your growth - mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It is not a healthy situation to be in because you hold years of hurts and questions inside. These things can't stay bottled up inside, they will one day have to come out.

Everyone needs to have a voice. God made us to be unique individuals and think for ourselves. God adores us just the way we are. Our individuality is what makes us special. We all have talents and ideas that can bless and further the kingdom of God. God does not want those gifts He has placed inside of us to be suppressed. We need to be free to be ourselves and feel that others embrace who we are. When someone tries to mold you into what they think you should be, it holds you back. God doesn't care about how a person wears their hair or the type of clothes they wear. We each have different ways we relate to things and God can use each of those ways. He just wants a persons heart. If people are going out and sharing God's love and salvation with others - that's all that really matters.

I feel that such an injustice has been done to many people who were faithful church members because what they wanted didn't matter. God never intended that we labor under the rule of someone else and lay our own desires aside. Matthew 11:28-30 says, "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." If you have been under a heavy rule - Jesus wants you free!

If you have been in a controlling church, you may feel beat down because you have been told that your dreams don't matter. These types of churches tell you to follow your dreams, but then you are never allowed to voice what they are. People eventually just give up on their dreams. I want to encourage you that there are people who want to hear what you have to say. Don't let the bad experiences you have had keep you from trying again. God wants to use you. As you try other churches keep your eyes wide open and if you see this characteristic, keep going. I know God still has representatives who genuinely love people and will treat you with the respect you deserve. YOUR VOICE COUNTS!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Trust Injuries

I received a comment on one of my previous posts from someone who had some very heartfelt questions. I have pondered on it for days and realized that his thoughts are the same as so many others, they are all just voiced in different ways. I want to share a portion of this comment with you....

"If I spent so many years of my life at the same church you did, working and believing in what I was doing, and it produced no lasting fruit, will I repeat the same thing all over again? If there is so much sin in the church (and I personally know much from Baptist to Pentecostal to Charismatic churches), where is my family supposed to go to find refuge in this world? Where are the people with the highest moral character this world can find? People no longer measure their words to be sober and honest. The church seems to have no impact on society or worse, it does impact it by contributing to its erosion." - Amos M.

I don't know the answers to all of these questions, but I can relate to the same feelings Amos is having. What stands out in my mind is that this person seems to be asking, "Who can you trust?" Shouldn't the church be the one place people can put their trust? Many people seem to be asking these questions.

People of all ages have been left in the wake, hurting, injured, bruised, and confused. The ones driving the boat don't even look back. They go on only thinking about themselves. Some of the ones suffering the most are young people who have been left devastated by people they trusted to love and protect them. I have watched as they have tried to pick up the pieces, but no one has reached out to them, hugged them, cried with them, or even apologized to them. I have wanted to run to them and beg them not to blame God the way they blame the ones who have hurt them. Some have given up on church and God all together. This shouldn't be! I want to call out to them at the top of my voice, "PLEASE DON'T GIVE UP ON GOD!"

I am a very emotional person. The one thing that will bring tears to my eyes quicker than anything is to see a group of teenagers worshipping God. I went to a service the other night where thousands of young people were all lifting their hands to God. It was amazing to see. Teenagers want to get involved and jump in with both feet. They are enthusiastic and zealous and will give their all for something they believe in. I think that's why they seem to fall the hardest when the trust they had in someone is broken. They have given 100%, but they walk away feeling that no one valued or cared about them.

Leaders in the church have a responsibility to be an example to the young people (and all people) entrusted to them. In many ways theses leaders represent stability, especially for teenagers who may be growing up without a dad or a mom. When that trust is broken it can make a young person feel that their whole world has fallen apart. They are told by the church and even some of their friends, "just get over it," but they are offered no help or guidance.

John Setser says it so well in his book, 'Broken Hearts, Shattered Trust,' "Tragic are the spiritual repercussions of a trust injury. Afflicted individuals find it difficult to believe in God. They feel like spiritual exiles not knowing where to turn. Faith and hope for the future disappear into thin air. They are left feeling frustrated, angry, and confused. The joy of their salvation seems lost forever." I know this seems extreme to those who have not experienced anything like this before, but there are people out there dealing with this today.

Getting past a trust injury is not an event, it's a process. God understands where we are. He allows us to take the little trust we have left and build it back at our pace. We can't lump God in with the mistreatment caused within the church. As sad as it is, there are abusive churches that will cause hurt and they don't even know or care how many people are suffering. The people who are left supporting these types of churches don't realize that they may one day be right where we are. I sincerely hope that doesn't happen, but if history truly does repeat itself, they probably will be.

I had another comment left on a previous post that expresses what is also in my heart. Set Free 1107 said, "I have great compassion for those who have been hurt. In our church's case some have been hurt more than others and my heart truly goes out to them. To those who are having a hard time going to church again I would encourage them that its OK to take a break but NEVER give up on God. Remember that it was only a MAN that failed you. God will never leave you or forsake you."

To Amos M., I don't believe you will repeat the same mistake again because you have seen the truth. I believe you will go on to bear much, lasting fruit because it is so apparent that you want what is right. I pray that God will lead you to a place where you can trust again and a place where your family can truly be happy.

I want to emphasize again, if you have questions, don't push them aside. Looking back, the questions I pushed aside were the ones warning me that I shouldn't be trusting. You don't have to have a 'word from God' if your heart already knows the truth. God has given us His mind on things and it is written on the pages of the Bible. The biggest thing on God's mind is love.

Romans 12:9 says, "Don't just pretend that you love others: really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of good. Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honoring each other."

Ephesians 4:32 says, "Deal gently with one another and maintain a good attitude. Show goodwill toward each other as God showed toward you in Christ."

John 13:35 says, "The mark by which all men will know you for my disciples will be the love you bear one another."

Colossians 3:14 says, "Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony."

Is this a picture of your church? These verses were written to the churches in the New Testament many years ago, but churches everywhere should practice these simple acts. I hope that churches will once again become places of refuge where God's people can trust. Loving God and loving people should be the focus of every church. That is what really matters!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Where Do We Go From Here?

"Spiritual abuse has the effect of making people extremely self-focused, preoccupied with doing things right and keeping happy those who are in places of authority. Recovery begins and continues with keeping our focus on God, what He has done, and who we are because of that. And in the context of open, grace-full relationships, this focus can be maintained." (Jeff Van Vonderen)

Recovery! I love what this quote says about recovery. We must keep our focus on God. Here are a few reminders of how much He loves us:

*God loves us. I John 3:1 says, "See how much the Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are."

*God handpicked us. Ephesians 1:4 says, "Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us."

*God comforts us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, "God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles."

I believe if we keep our minds on how much God loves us and keep our minds on loving Him we will recover from the hurts. It will take time, but I trust it will happen. I believe we must also focus on reaching out to others. People are the only eternal thing there is and when we invest in people we are investing in eternity. When you use the word "invest" money automatically comes to mind, but I am not talking about money. I am talking about investing love, compassion, understanding, friendship, prayers, time, and of course money if needed. Too many times people are focused on what they can get for themselves - more money, houses, cars, etc. Life is short and one day all of those material possessions will be nothing. But the people you have reached out to and been nice to and loved, they will be in eternity. What's more important?

Matthew 6:19-20 says, "Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart will also be."

God's treasures are His people. That's what He truly cares about. When we invest in His people it goes on record in heaven. A pastor I met recently told a great story about his life that I want to share. He was 17 years old and had only been saved a few months. He was sitting in church and heard a missionary talking about a bible school in India. The cost was $350 to send one young man to bible school for a year. There were many young men in India who wanted to attend, but they didn't have the money to go. He felt a tug at his heart and wanted to ask his dad to give the money to help. He went home that night and felt in his heart that God was telling him to give the money himself. $350 was a lot of money for a 17 year old boy, but he went to the bank and got the money. He took the money to the church to give to send one boy to bible school. He said he thinks about that young man often that he sent to school. He has never met him and doesn't even know his name, but he knows that whatever that young man has gone on to do - getting people saved in the country of India, sharing the Bible with many, starting churches, or whatever he has done - he was a part of and it will go towards his eternal account in heaven because he gave.

That's the kind of giving I want to do. I want to help missionaries who are feeding children. I want to send a boy from India to Bible school. I don't want to give to someone who is only interested in getting more stuff. I want to make a difference for eternity with my giving. I want to see people in heaven because of my giving. I'm so ready to quit hearing about people's possessions and hear what they are doing to make a difference in the lives of people for eternity. This is what it's all about!!!

One more thing I want to say, in the process of moving on it will also help to rely on friends who understand what you are going through. If a person hasn't been through a situation like this, it will be hard for them to understand. If you tried to explain it to some people they would think you were from Mars.

If you ever need a friend to talk to, please feel free to email me at setfree0408@gmail.com

I heard a great song today and here is a portion that touched my heart. This is a shout out to everyone who is free...

My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood, His mercy reigns
Unending love, Amazing grace

It is great to be free! My relationship with God is sweet. My friendships are flourishing. I can truly say that what really matters in life is loving God and loving people.

Spiritual Traps (Part 2)

(I know this is very wordy, but if you can make your way through it, it makes a lot of sense.)

"The fourth aspect of a good trap is called equity rescuing. When people do this with a house, we call the house a "money pit." Money pits are houses that suck people's money into an endless home-improvement mission. This happens because they invest money into the house to make it more livable. But more things keep going bad. Then more money is needed to continue the improvements. After a while, more and more investment is needed to "rescue" all the money already put into the house. This also happens with jobs. After ten years in a job you hate, your conversation with yourself goes something like this: "I hate this job. I think I'll quit. Wait a minute, I can't quit. If I quit I'll have wasted the past ten years. I'll stay for another year. If things don't improve in a year, then I'll quit." The problem is that in a year you have another year's "equity" to rescue. And you'd have to walk away from eleven years instead of ten, so it's harder to leave than before.

Equity rescuing occurs in abusive relationships, as well. In an abusive situation people start moving away from what is normal. Each time something else happens it moves you another step away, until you end up far from normal. You may even be well aware that the situation is abusive and abnormal. So you set up a "boundary." You say, "What's happened up until now is it. No more! I'll stay, but if this happens one more time, I'm leaving." It happens again, but for you to walk away from the situation at this point will feel as if you have been abused for nothing. So you try a little bit harder, and invest a little more of yourself. More serious abuse occurs, so you set up another boundary. "You can call me names and push me around, but if I ever get a black eye, then I'll quit.

The problem is that people don't compare their situation to what is normal, they compare it the last adjustment made. Compared to all they have invested, this latest violation just isn't that big of a compromise. If they would compare it to normal, they would be able to see how many unhealthy adjustments they have made and how really abnormal and unhealthy the relationship has become.

It's ironic that the fact that we care so much about our faith is what contributes to our being trapped in unhealthy systems. We care about the kingdom of God. We want to put our energy, our time, and our money there. Shouldn't the church be the best investment? But sometimes our efforts turn into an equity-rescuing venture.

You invest more and more of your life in a system that promises but cannot deliver. You deny what you see, how you feel, how tired you are, and the problems you have, and call it spiritual. As denial turns to delusion you lose sight of how the system has actually begun to hurt you and how your own life is hurting others. Your friends try to warn you, but you cannot hear. You are caught in the trap of the spiritually abusive system."

Spiritual Traps (Part 1)

I guess you can tell by now that I ask a lot of questions. I keep asking myself this one question over and over again, "How have so many smart, normal people ended up in a situation like this?" I have researched long and hard. I think I have found a pretty good answer and I want to share it. I am copying from the book - 'The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse' by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderan. The words in green will signify quotes from the book.

"In a very real real sense, the spiritually abusive system is a spiritual trap. And not just any old trap; a "good" one.

Spiritually abusive systems are easy to get into but hard to leave. The leaders assume power and demand obedience. They foster loyalty to the organization with implied or overt scare tactics and threats. Leaving the system is equal to leaving God and His protection. Paranoia about the evils outside the system makes people afraid to leave. This begins the building of a trap. Then comes the bait.

There are many kinds of bait in the spiritually abusive church, family or organization. "Right standing with God" is probably the most common bait. The abusive system gives people an opportunity to earn God's approval with their own positive self-effort. In fact, this is so appealing that people fail to notice several things.

For instance, they learn to ignore others around them who point out that they are being neglected or mistreated. They overlook it when they grow more tired as time goes on. They ignore the fact that people close to them are leaving and urging them to leave. They are oblivious to how it is becoming easier to justify the things that not too long ago they abhorred.

Other baits might include: the approval of people; religious status or position; a paycheck; the promise that things will improve; or an opportunity to be shamed and mistreated in a way that is consistent with their sense of deserving to be punished for being so "bad."

In addition to everything else these people ignore, they overlook the fact that their goal keeps moving out of reach. This reveals the third aspect of a good trap. Like the donkey who runs faster to reach the "carrot on a stick," the bait draws people deeper and deeper into the abusive religious system. If they want to stop struggling, a voice within "warns" them: "What if you give up now, just when you were about to have a spiritual 'breakthrough'?" So they cannot stop.

-more to come

Friday, July 11, 2008

Life Is Better With Friends

One of the greatest things that we have experienced since we left our former church is all of the wonderful friendships we have renewed and the new ones we are making. We see everything in such a different light. Don't get me wrong, we have always loved people and had many friends, but most of our friendships were inside the four walls of the church. We have been getting to know our neighbors and people in the community and we have met many very nice people. There are some people we have known for over twenty years, but are just now really getting to know them.

Controlling churches try to tell you who you should and should not talk to. They tell you that you should not fellowship with anyone who leaves the church. You are not even supposed to allow your children to play with their friends who leave. People who leave are basically shunned and then talked about in negative ways. How is that christian? Aren't christians supposed to love everyone? We are called to love others, especially our brothers and sisters in the Lord. How it must hurt the Lord to see His children divided. What are people teaching their children when they are taught to walk in love and then they are not allowed to talk or fellowship with people any more just because they leave the church? That is so far off of what the Bible teaches about love.

If a church has tried to control your life in this way, they have overstepped their bounds. One way to know if this has been a part of your life is to check up on your relationships. It became clear to me when I woke up one morning and thought about a dear friend of mine that I had not spoken to in months since she had left the church. She is one of the most loving, kind persons I have ever known. When I think about someone being a true christian, I think of her. Why had I let so much time pass before I called her? I am ashamed to say it was because I wasn't supposed to talk to people who had left the church. I am so glad I saw the truth because I could have missed out on having a wonderful friendship with a wonderful person. Looking back over the years, I see how many people have had friendships damaged for unfounded reasons.

We are supposed to reach out in our communities and be friends with many. If the members of a church only look inward, how will the church grow and how will people be helped? Church is about community. It's about reaching out and drawing people in by the love you have for them. A church should have the attitude of "what can we do for people" instead of "what can people do for us." People want to go to a church where people are friendly.

Friendship was ordained by God. He said it wasn't good for man to be alone. Life is meant to be shared with others. As I have been spending time with friends lately, I have realized how starved I had been for friendships. A church should promote fellowship among the people. We need each other - to love each other, to encourage each other, and even to give each other a shoulder to cry on. Proverbs 17:17 says, "Friends love through all kinds of weather." Proverbs 18:24 says, "Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family." That's the kind of friend I want to be.

Jesus is also our friend - our best friend. John 15:12-15 says, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends." You can see by reading this that the Lord wants a close, intense friendship with His people. I'm happy to say that I am a friend of God. He is ever mindful of us and He calls us His friends. Romans 5:11 says, "We have now actually received this amazing friendship with God." That's the friendship that matters most, but I also want to be a trusting friend to many, many people throughout my life. Life is better with friends!

I see more every day that loving God and loving people is what really matters in life.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's Okay to Question

It's hard to explain. For years you are in one place and you think you are doing the right thing. You step away and look back and you are so amazed that you didn't see things that are so clear now. The further you get from the situation, the more you see.

This can happen in many areas of life - relationships, jobs, and even churches. It happened to me in a church. It can happen to all different types of people. I don't think a person ever sets out to allow themselves to be controlled, manipulated, or hurt. Many people have found themselves in this situation and are now asking how they got there. I believe it is because when questions came up, they pushed them aside.

I got an email from a dear person the other day asking me if it's really okay to question authority in the church. Yes! It's okay to question. You not only have the right to question, but you have the responsibility to question, especially when your family is involved. In controlling churches you are told you cannot question, but you should be able to question anything. Leaders are more accountable because of their position of authority - not less accountable. Why? Because if you are a leader, people are following you.

I read an article about the characteristics of hurtful churches. When I read this quote I had an a-hah moment and I wanted to share it. "Churches with a "can't talk" rule will be extremely hurtful to their members. In these places problems can't be confronted or resolved because you become "the problem" for talking about the problem. Consequently, the offenders are isolated from accountability, and the ones hurt are isolated from healing. There is no chance for the healing that true unity in Christ brings." (Jeff Van Vonderan)

I saw many things that I had questions about, but we were not "allowed" to ask questions. If you did question you became a "disloyal" person. I remember having such a hopeless feeling, knowing I could not get the help I needed at the place I was supposed to be able to trust the most. If you hold your questions in and allow yourself to be controlled even when you don't agree with things, it will eventually bring frustration and hurt to you and your family.

I have realized that God wants us to take responsibility for our own lives and find out what He says really matters in life. I Timothy 2:5 says, "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ." We don't have to have another man to bridge the gap between us and God - Jesus already did that! He is our Man of God!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

It Takes Time

I hope the links to the articles and videos have been a help to you. I know when I was first beginning to question (and even now) it helped me so much to read everything I could find that showed me I was not alone. I have been so surprised to see how many people have been hurt by controlling churches.

I heard a great analogy the other day from a friend that I want to share with you. "The Bible says in Luke 4:18, "...Jesus came to heal the broken hearted and to set at liberty them that are bruised." He was not talking about an outer, physical bruise. He was talking about an internal bruise that caused hurt. A bruise comes about because of a hard blow and it takes time to go away. Some people say "just get over it" but there are hurts that will take time to heal. The bigger the bruise, the longer it takes to heal. There are many people who have taken blows from controlling church leaders. Some people have been hurt more than others, but Jesus came to set at liberty all that are bruised."

I also want to share a comment that someone left on one of my posts in reference to the healing process after being in an abusive church. "The difference for some people is how badly they were "burned". Maybe those that suffered third degree burns are taking a little more healing time than those who came away with first degree burns. The closer and longer you stay in the fire the greater the degree of pain. Also, there are some scars that will never completely go away. Those that have been able to move on are very fortunate, but they also must continue to understand that there are those who are still suffering everyday. The answers are not sometimes as simple as we want them to be, it will take more time for some than others because of the degree of pain. I pray that I will never appear judgmental to those who are still dealing with the hurt that they have suffered. There are many who are not able to just "get over it." They still have fresh wounds that are very tender and there are some who just now are learning how badly they have been hurt. Praise Him for the healing that He brings daily, because He is the only source of lasting peace."

These two analogies have helped me to understand how it takes time to heal. My heart goes out to all my friends and to the people I don't even know who have been hurt and disillusioned by these types of churches. I have read blogs by people from all over the U.S. and their stories are so similar I can hardly believe it. I know if I am touched by these things so deeply - how much more must God be. Every day is different as I walk through the process. I still have hard days, but I can truly say that it does get easier as time goes by. I am trying intently to follow my heart and keep my focus on what really matters - loving God and loving people. I think about those who are just beginning to see the truth and I want them to know that they have a friend who understands. And even more - Jesus understands. Jesus did come to heal the broken hearted and set at liberty them that are bruised.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Helpful Articles

I have added a list of articles I thought you might want to check out. I have found them to be very helpful - especially the videos.