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.


Anonymous said...

I hope your friend can see your heart! I understand your feelings for her and her family.
I watched 3 distinct situations in a former church have outcomes that were (unfortunately) not Godly.
One day my 11-yr. old inquired about one particular situation. After sharing something about it w/ her, she in turn asked a question that was very asute for a child her age.
I believe there are 'adults' at this church who have not "allowed themselves" to see as clearly as my 'child'. I believe they love their pastor (as I did), but do not want to face that he's capable of wrong-doing (as I had to, and yes, it was hard to deal with). I also believe some have their focus on man and not God. Why, we were blessed before ever attending that church and were blessed going out. God's love and provision for us are not dependent on a church or a human being.
I'm a child of God who had to walk away due to integrity and leave others I loved behind. Still yet, some of those are as knowledgeable in both head and heart as I am (of injustice and wrong-doing) and have chosen to stay. That is their choice, but I cannot help but wonder what it says to some of their own children who are as wise as mine!
I rejoiced in the salvations that occurred at the church - I love to see souls saved! When I saw the many responses to other alter calls for prayer needs, it was obvious we were like any other church. We had needs; we were not perfect. We need not "pretend to be". Why, the toughest time our family has gone through financially was while we attended that church! Yes, we are tithers, we know the benefits of salvation, and that Jesus came that we might have an abundant life. We walk in faith and are blessed, and God delivered us from the financial situation, and He still loves us today.
The 3 previously mentioned situations that presented themselves at our church caused tremendous disappointment. I was praying for the pastor to show God's love, operate in wisdom, shepherd his flock and to walk in integrity. One October day I looked up the word "pastor" - a clergyman or overseer who serves a local body. "Serve" - to attend to, to work for, as a servant, worthy of reliance and trust. Situations had revealed that I did not really have a "pastor".
May your friend find peace, as we have. There are other good churches and pastors who are worthy of reliance and trust! "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

Anonymous said...

To anonymous-

I have wondered about some of the people we left behind at our old church. They were good people. They knew the facts, although many others did not. I cannot understand people choosing to stand behind unrighteousness. When they discovered the amount of wickedness in my old church, WHY DIDN'T THEY RUN OUT? It calls their character into question.

Some have said, "God hasn't told me to leave." Or "I don't have a 'release in my spirit'". To which I think, "Why does God have to repeat to you what He has already said in His Word? He's already condemned such behavior."

When, I know they have higher standards for their own children. If their teenager had a friend that God had indeed brought into his life, but that friend began to take the wrong path in life, those parents would send their teen’s friend on down the road. They wouldn't wait for their teen to "hear from God".

Yet, they themselves have some idea that loyalty to the Pastor is greater than any other virtue. It's as if they have taken one bit of Truth and exalted it above all other Truth. I have to wonder, "How bad would the Pastor have to be for you to leave???"

I don't think they realize that their children are getting training in manipulation because the sheep ARE being manipulated. And if they think that is an outlandish claim, they should investigate and find out the truth about all that has transpired.
It is of utmost importance that God's people stand for what is right. We are the salt and light.

-Amos M.

Anonymous said...

Very good post and comment by Amos M. It is frustrating to see your friends go through what you've just come out of. You want to help them and get them on the road to recovery as soon as possible, but you also want their "leaving" to be their decision and come from THEIR heart. There IS danger in staying. Not only are people being taken advantage of, but the children in such churches are like little sponges and they "soak up" all of the attitudes and teachings that promote serving a man--instead of mankind. Alot of the time the children in such churches feel inferior to the pastor's kids/grandkids. They grow up wondering why the "royal family" plays by a different set of rules. That can cause some major self-esteem issues as the child grows up.

My heart goes out to everyone still in that type of church. And I pray that they read this heart-felt blog and Amos' previous comment and start asking some questions for themselves.

Libby said...

People should read this.