Sunday, December 13, 2009

Newspaper Covers Spiritual Abuse

Click here to read an article on spiritual abuse from a California newspaper. I hope that more newspapers, radio shows, and talk shows start covering this subject. I think there are so many more people out there who have been affected by spiritual abuse than could ever be imagined.

Click here to read an article about people taking action against a spiritually abusive pastor.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Great Post Link

I read a great post on Provender's blog called, "Are You Covering For A Spiritually Abusive Pastor?" I could relate to all 20 signs. If you have been a part of a church like this or if you suspect you might be, this list is eye opening. Click here to read.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Attack Of The Super Apostles

I came across a very informative article called, "Attack Of The Super Apostles." It describes in detail how these false ministers operate. (Click on title to read.)

Here is also a series of articles called, "The Super Apostles Series."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Manipulator's Behavior Defined

Manipulators are very good at controlling others. Their behaviors consist of flattering, threatening, making you feel guilty, and demeaning you. You may get confused over a period of time because they use different tactics to best fit what they want at the time. If you often feel stressed and resentful after spending time with this person, you are most likely dealing with a manipulator.

The manipulator's behavior defined:

Flattery. Manipulators will pour on the flattery when they think it will help them work their way into a person's life. Manipulators use flattery to pull in unsuspecting prospects. Every time you turn around they pour on the compliments, sometimes to the point of being ridiculous.

Threats. Threats can be subtle or they can be severe. Some threats may include refusing to allow family members to see the children, divorce, and even suicide. In many cases these are just empty threats because manipulators are bullies on the outside, but cowards on the inside. However, never take a threat lightly and always take the proper precautions to protect yourself.
Guilt. Manipulators will make you feel guilty if you try to call them on the carpet. They are never wrong in their eyes and in most situations you cannot win against a manipulator. They play the victim and place the blame on everyone but themselves. You will find yourself constantly apologizing when you haven't done anything wrong. The best thing you can do is not deal with a manipulator at all.

Demeaning. When things don't go their way they will try to tear you down. They will call you names, talk bad about you to others, and sometimes even physical abuse is involved. The manipulator will try to wear down your self esteem so that you will become dependent on him/her. Most manipulators have terrible self-esteem issues.

Tips on dealing with a controller or manipulator.....

*When you recognize that you have been controlled or manipulated, distance yourself from the manipulator and his/her agenda.

*You should know that you cannot change them. You can only change your reaction to their bizarre behavior. (Many times you don't even realize how bizarre their behavior really was until you are away from it for a while.)

*Have the self-respect to stand up for yourself and do not let the controller take away your independence any longer. Life was meant to be enjoyed with a person who respects you and allows you to be yourself.

*Don't blow off the opinions of your friends and family. They have your best interest in mind. If everyone who cares about you is concerned about your relationship, trust them. You may be under such control that you just can't see it for what it is. Once you get away from the manipulator you will begin to see it for what it truly is.

*Know that people like this rarely change and probably the best thing for you to do is remove yourself from this type of relationship and not look back.

(If you found this post helpful, you may want to read Dealing With Manipulative People and Are You Dealing With A Manipulator?)

How To Live

There are many people who lived under strong legalism for many years in our former church. There were so many rules it was hard to enjoy life, but that has all changed now for the better. The people who have left are thriving and we are very happy. The sad thing is, for all those years many good people were trying to live by every single rule only to find out the leaders were living a double life. There was nepotism, lies, money issues, mistreatment of members and staff, promises made that were never kept, and to top it off the youth pastor recently went to prison on federal sex charges.

Sometimes when people have been in an extremely controlling situation, they have to learn all over again how to live life and be themselves. This is true for church situations, job situations, bad marriages, and other types of relationships gone bad.

This is a great song that encourages you to enjoy your life and not let someone else control you and rob you of your freedom.....

The Controlling, Narcissist Leader/Pastor

Ungodly, controlling pastors have hurt many people. The phrase "ungodly pastors" seems to be an oxymoron. These two words shouldn't go together in the same sentence, but the sad truth is there are pastors and leaders who are only in the position for their own lustful desires.

These dictating leaders can be described by many words - controllers, manipulators, narcissists, psychopaths, cult leaders, false pastors, and dictators, to name a few. There are varying degrees of this type of leadership and some are more damaging than others, but I have seen the negative effects these type of leaders can have on people. Some pastors are just strong leaders, while others are narcissitic psychopaths. If you haven't ever been around a person like this it may be hard for you to imagine that there are people who go to these extreme measures. But for those who have suffered under this type of heartless leadership, you know all too well how deep the wounds go.

Here are some signs and characteristics of a narcissist, unscriptural leader.....

*Resembles the same attitude Diotrephes had in III John verse 9. He is proud, carnal, demanding, overbearing, impatient, uncompassionate, "loving" only toward those who submit to him, but mean-spirited toward those who do not agree with him.

*He develops doctrines from pet verses that appear to support his view.

*He makes people feel that they cannot make important decisions and know God's will without him.

*He exalts himself before the people.

*He ridicules his associates, making them look small in the eyes of the church members, thus increasing his own prestige and authority and decreasing theirs.

*He treats men who leave as fools and evil men. All kindness and friendship is withdrawn by the leaders. People are only treated kindly when they submit to his doctrines and "authority."

*He contradicts himself a lot.

*He is accountable to no one.

*He provokes and intimidates people to get what he wants.

*He demands respect instead of trying to earn respect.

*He wears a phony grin and acts like everything is all right even when things are falling apart in his church.

*He acts as if he knows everything, but he really doesn't know how to handle problems he has caused.

*He is a captive storyteller and exaggerates the truth all the time. He is able to spin a web that intrigues others and pulls them into his life.

*He has the capacity to destroy his critics verbally and disarm them emotionally.

*He does not recognize the individuality or rights of others.

*He is extremely self-serving and thinks he deserves royal treatment.

*He has no checks on his behavior - anything goes.

*He has tremendous feelings of entitlement. He believes everything is owed to him as a right.

*He presents himself as a genius.

*He has an insatiable need for adoration. When others aren't praising him, he will praise himself.

*He gives the perception that he lives a grandiose life, but paranoia rules him. He creates an us vs. them mentality because of his perceived hostile environment.

*He lies coolly and easily, even when it is obvious he is being untruthful. It is almost impossible for him to be consistently truthful about either a major or minor issue.

*He is a plagiarist and a thief. He seldom gives credit to the true originators of ideas.

*He is extremely convincing and could more than likely pass a lie detector test.

*He does not have friends.

*He doesn't not have feelings of remorse, shame, or guilt. He feels justified in all his actions because he considers himself the ultimate moral arbiter. Nothing gets in his way.

*He is unmoved by things that would unset the normal person, while outraged by insignificant matters.

*He is cold, with shallow emotions, living in a dark world of his own.

*He can witness or order acts of utter brutality without experiencing a shred of emotion.

*He casts himself in a role of total control, which he plays to the hilt.

*He is tragically flawed in being able to either give or receive love.

*He despises community and emotional intimacy, and so he is profoundly lonely. On the one hand, though, there is something about his loneliness that he likes; for he can attribute it to his unique and superior nature.

*He constantly tests the beliefs of his followers, often with bizarre behaviors.

*He readily takes advantage of others, expressing utter contempt for anyone else's feelings. Someone in distress is not important to him. Although intelligent, perceptive, and quite good at sizing people up, he makes no real connections with others. He uses his "people skills" to exploit, abuse, and wield power.

*He will favor and offer help to people who are down as long as he thinks they will be useful to him later on down the road. Such favors might include offering employment, loaning money, or offering personal counseling. He may call in his favor if he sees you slipping away. Also, such opportunities help the narcissist persuade himself that he is good, despite the gnawing awareness of the dark cellar at heart.

*He has an inflated sense of superiority which propels him to recklessness; for he is subject to fantasies of omnipotence and unequalled brilliance, and he feels that he is above the law. And it is this sense of superiority that allows him to underestimate the intelligence and determination of his adversaries.

*He is indifferent to injustice and it's victims, but he rages against the person who is a threat to his charade and/or who refuses to cooperate with his underhanded schemes.

(I have taken a few of these statements from an article I have been reading, entitled Narcissism and the Dynamics of Evil. I decided just to add the link instead of continuing to add to my post. It's a very informative article.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Symptoms Of An Abusive Group

Are you still wondering if your church is showing symptoms of being an abusive group? Are you talking yourself out of leaving because your church may have virtues that seem to compensate for its possible abuses? You may not be able to see right now how being in a controlling, abusive system is affecting you, but it will damage the central core of who you are. And I can assure you it will affect your children at some point. To help you make a clear assessment, here is a review of the symptoms of an abusive religious group according to Jesus in Matthew 23:

1. Abusive leaders base their spiritual authority on their position or office rather than on their service to the group. Their style of leadership is authoritarian.

2. Leaders in abusive churches often say one thing but do another. Their words and deeds do not match.

3. They manipulate people by making them feel guilty for not measuring up spiritually. They lay heavy religious loads on people and make no effort to lift those loads. You know that you are in an abusive church if the loads just keep getting heavier.

4. Abusive leaders are preoccupied with looking good. They labor to keep up appearance. They stifle any criticism that puts them in a bad light.

5, They seek honorific titles and special privileges that elevate them above the group. They promote a class system with themselves at the top. They desire to be number one and they require everyone to refer to them as "Pastor" or "Dr."

6. Their communication is not straight. their speech becomes especially vague and confusing when they are defending themselves.

7. They major on minor issues to the neglect of the truly important ones. They are conscientious about religious details but neglect God's larger agendas.

I encourage you to read Matthew 23 in the New Living Translation. Jesus felt very strongly about religious leaders who abuse their power and use it over innocent people. He told us not to follow these "blind guides." He also pointed out in Matthew 23 that this "greatism" these leaders seek is false faith. Christianity is not about one man trying to build himself up and promote his own agenda. It is about reaching out and making a difference in many lives by sharing His love, grace, and mercy. Can you really go on giving your time, energy, and money to support something you know is destructive? Can you go on placing your family at risk by continually exposing them to the toxins of spiritual abuse? Sometimes the best thing we can do for abusive leaders is to leave them. Sometimes the most human act is to let an abusive church die. Stephen Arterburn says, "We must have the courage to follow Christ's example and overturn the system if the system is wrong. Silent submission in the face of violence, dishonesty, and abuse will only enable that abuse to be passed on to generations."

This information was found in Ken Blue's book, "Healing Spiritual Abuse."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Positive Side

The words in Romans 8:28 ring true to me today…..

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.”

God looks out for us, even when we have gone places He did not lead us. He helps us learn from our mistakes and turns bad situations around for our good. That's what He has done for many people who have left controlling, abusive situations. Even though we haved walked through some very difficult moments, we can now look at the positive side.

Here are some strengths I have noticed that develop in people when they leave controlling churches:

*Greater compassion and empathy towards others

*Analytical thinking (You think deeply about core concerns. From this point forward you will exercise keen judgment and discernment so you will never find yourself in the same situation again.)

*Greater level of honesty and trustworthiness (You are so disgusted at the lies, fraud, dishonesty, and even criminality that went on, it makes you resolve yourself to live in a higher degree of honor and trustworthiness. You don’t want to be anything like your former leaders.)

*Social/community activism (You are so tired of looking inward and catering to the needs of selfish leaders, you become extremely enthusiastic about reaching out and serving others.)

*Fearlessness (You have given into a bully for so long, it’s time to stand up for yourself and take a new direction. You decide no one is going to control you or stand in your way! You also decide to step out and go after your dreams.)


*Gratitude (You are so glad to be free from the control, manipulation, and harsh judgment you were under, you become more thankful even for the little things in life.)

*Inquisitiveness and curiosity (You realize it’s okay to question anything!)

*Sense of direction and purpose



*Ability to show emotion

*Ability to be yourself

*Ability to find meaning in adversity

*Ability to cope with difficulties (After all that you experienced and dealt with in a controlling church, handling the normal strains of everyday life seem like nothing. If you have survived a controlling, abusive situation, you can survive just about anything!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's Been A Year!

This Sunday marks the one year anniversary of when I left my former church! I feel like having a party to celebrate! I cannot find the words to describe how happy I am to be free from the control I was under. If you have followed my blog at all you know how difficult it has been for me at times, but God's grace has brought me through. I am truly thankful for the important lessons I have learned over the past year.

I have learned to follow my heart and take heed to red flags when they pop up. When there are questions, they are there for a reason. I will never let another man control me or try to take the place of Jesus in my life. I will stand up for what I believe in and I will not keep silent when things are wrong. I have learned that being a Christian is not about following a set of rules and regulations, but it's about having a relationship with God and knowing His love. I have learned that true joy comes from serving others. I have found that there are many wonderful, normal people who love and accept others for who they are. They are true examples of Jesus. I have learned that what really matters in life is loving God and loving people.

I still have some questions, but I know in time all of my questions will be answered. As I look at how far I've come, I am excited about the things I will learn over this next year. There will always be those who are just beginning their journey out of the control, so I hope I can use the experiences I have walked through to help others find their freedom.

I invite you to comment and share an important lesson you have learned. I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Controlling Leader

Here is a list of characteristics of a controlling leader:

*Preoccupied with his own needs being met, while the needs of his subordinates are ignored

*Preoccupied with looking good, labors to keep up appearances

*Seeks honorific titles and special privileges that elevates him above the group

*Promotes a class system with himself at the top

*Demands loyalty and honor

*Speaks often of his authority, constantly reminding everyone that he is in charge

*Stifles any criticism that puts him in a bad light

*Majors on minor issues and neglects the truly important ones

*Speech is vague and confusing when he is defending himself

*Feels the need to embellish the truth and make things appear more or less grand than they really are

*Speaks out boldly on wrong behavior, even when involved in that same behavior

*Believes people are extremely bad or wonderful, depending on the amount of support offered to him

*Motivated by greed

*Impressed with material goods and those who have them

*Fears sexual inadequacy

*Feels he is owed something

*Lives in a false world where he is convinced he is right

*Surrounds himself with people who are insecure and easily swayed

*Manipulates others using guilt, shame, and remorse

*Tries to come across confident in an attempt to cover up his insecurity

*Blames others for his own failures

*Is not involved in any accountable relationships and has no intimate relationships

*When in a bind he will ask for forgiveness and appear sincere in doing so

*Fears not measuring up or losing his image

*Needs professional help

The Controlling, Abusive Pastor

In the book of Jeremiah, God spoke against those who operated in their own authority while abusing the very people they were supposed to bless.

"An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?" (Jeremiah 5:30-31)

Leaders were using their influence to convince people that their power was divine. Yet in reality, these false prophets and priests were merely wielding their self-imposed influence for personal gain, claiming they were speaking for God. The people bought the lies and believed all the promises that were made. This happened in the Old Testament and it's happening today. Don't let it happen to you!

Here is a list of some common characteristics of a controlling, abusive pastor.....

*Preoccupied with his own needs being met, while the needs of the people are ignored.

*Focuses on his own never-ending quest for personal fulfillment and happiness, while the real needs of the people are lost or forgotten.

*Expects the people to obey his every command without question.

*Preaches on his spiritual authority every week, constantly reminding everyone that he is in charge.

*Tries to take the place of Jesus in people's lives.

*Tells people they cannot leave the church with God's blessing unless he approves the decision.

*Uses scripture in order to gain biblical grounds to control people's lives.

*Instills a sense of obligation by reminding the people of everything he has done for them.

*Demands loyalty and honor from the people.

*Demands performance from people, not accepting them for who they are.

*Thinks the people in his congregation belong to him.

*Manipulates people into giving their money.

*Has an elitist attitude and says that no one else is preaching the gospel as good as he is.

*Overly concerned with appearances

*Has no respect for other churches or denominations.

*Is insecure, jealous, and cowardice

*Uses fear and intimidation to keep people from leaving his organization or church.

*This information is from the book "Toxic Faith," by Stephen Arterburn & Jack Felton.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Crying Shame: Charlatans In The House

I came across a great article called, "A Crying Shame: Charlatans In The House," by J. Lee Brady. Don't fall for these foolish gimmiks!

"Churches and ministries are employing bizarre gimmicks to raise money. What has happened to our discernment?

You've probably heard it on Christian television before. An evangelist opens his Bible, reads a Scripture and then suggests that you send an odd amount of money to keep your favorite program on the air for another month. He begs. He pleads. He cries. And then he tells you that if you hurry and give right now, "while God is stirring the waters," the Holy Spirit will reward you in an extra-special way.

I've heard different amounts suggested-such as $64.11, or $72.14, or $53.24, to correlate with some obscure Old Testament Scripture reference. The implication is that if you write a check for this magical amount, God will release some kind of special blessing on you, such as the salvation of loved ones or the quick sale of a house.

To the untrained ear this may sound like a formula for blessing. Actually it is more akin to superstition-or worse, witchcraft. It's not even remotely biblical, but those of us in the charismatic movement are so used to tolerating such shenanigans that we think this is standard procedure for fundraising.

Some ministers who raise money for Christian television stations have succumbed to the infamous "debt reduction" tactic. It goes like this: "God says that if you will give a $1,000 sacrificial offering right now (God always seems to be in crisis mode in these situations), you will supernaturally get out of debt! The miracle anointing is here! You can release it by writing that check! And we take credit cards, too!"

Talk about voodoo economics. This kind of manipulation is actually against the law in Canada. The U.S. government allows American evangelists to get away with it, but that doesn't mean it's right. It is a spiritualized form of arm-twisting. And believe it or not, it is getting more blatant and bizarre.

A widely traveled minister recently gave a message about what he called "the Boaz anointing" at a prominent church in Florida. He then invited anyone who wanted this "new" blessing to come to the altar, where gullible souls were encouraged to deposit a check for $1,500 in the basket. Apparently the Boaz anointing can be yours if you can afford this hefty price.

At another church in my city of Orlando, a self-proclaimed prophet said that he would have a personal word of blessing to pronounce over any person who could give $1,000 in the offering. That's right- he was selling personal prophecies.Those who actually gave the amount (yes, some people actually fell for this charlatan) stood up to receive "words." I want to rip my shirt in half and throw dust on my head.

Why should we be surprised that the church in America is making such a weak impact on society when we are allowing greedy impostors to pollute our pulpits? They are no different than the sons of Eli, who took the people's offerings "by force" so that they could spend it on their own selfish wants (see 1 Sam.2:12-16). They have fallen into the error of the sorcerer Simon, who offered to buy the power of the Holy Spirit so that he could impress people (see Acts 8:18-20).

And what happens to the people who buy into this craziness? I've heard some suggest that "God will bless anyone who gives," even if they give to a crook. That's hogwash. Those who use manipulation, strong-arm tactics or Scripture-twisting to get money, or who sell the anointing of God so they can buy clothes and houses are not going to release any form of blessing.

Such dark forces actually follow ministries that have given themselves over to this spirit of financial manipulation. The Bible actually says that charlatans - those who follow the "error of Balaam"- will face a harsh judgment. (Jude 11,13).

What can you do about this? You don't have to stop giving. God loves a cheerful giver, but He does not want us to give under compulsion. Nor does He want us to reward the modern sons of Eli. Speak out. Confront those who misuse the Bible to dig for money. Change the channel. Get up and walk out. Give to ministries that focus on meeting real needs and maintain ethical accounting standards. This financial foolishness will end when all of us take a stand."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Shame-Based Systems

If you have ever been involved in a controlling, abusive church, this post will make a lot of sense and hopefully bring some understanding to you. The information I am using can be found in the book, "Tired Of Trying To Measure Up," by Jeff Van Vonderen.

What is a "shame-based system?" A shame-based system can be a church or Christian group in which the authority figure demands a certain level of performance, whether spoken or implied. If you don't live up to the standard of the system, messages that are either subtle or overt will tell you that you are not good enough - you simply don't measure up. But that's not even the saddest part.

Worst of all, a sense of shame can keep you at a distance from God. It keeps you from praying because, "Why would God want to do something from me?" In abusive churches, the disconnected, controlling leaders, who are supposed to represent God, have given people a distorted view of who God is. People who have been in situations like this might think, "Why would God answer my prayers? I don't come close to living up to His standards. He probably doesn't even want to be around me."

People who are involved or have been involved in these types of situations encounter struggles over a period of time.

Here are a few:

*Difficulty trusting people
*Low self-esteem
*Highly performance-conscious
*Don't know yourself very well
*Feel Wounded
*Feel tired
*Can't tell what is normal until away from situation

The following is a list of characteristics that best describe the relationship systems, past and/or present, under which tired, wounded people labor:

1. Out-loud shaming

Comparing one person to another causes shame. Name-calling causes shame. Phrases like, "What an idiot you are!" and "What's wrong with you?" will shame a person. This type of shaming is hard to overcome.

2. Shame-based systems are performance-oriented

We all need an environment where we feel our needs are met because of who we are, not because of what we do. In this system, value and acceptance are earned on the basis of performance. We become ingrained with a need to measure up. We are taught that acceptability comes from religious performance, rather than being taught to rely on our identity as a child of God.

3. Unspoken rules govern shame-based systems

The rule that reigns supreme in this type of system is the "can't talk" rule. The truth of the matter in a church system is that some pastors are afraid of what the existence of a problem says about them as leaders. If there is a problem or question, then the person raising the question is the problem for raising a challenge.

Here is a list of other examples of unspoken rules that govern shame-based systems:

*"What's real doesn't matter; how things look is what really matters."
*"What other people think is more important."
*"Adults are more important than children."
*"People who feel sad are oversensitive."
*"Something is wrong with people who feel at all."
*"Feelings don't matter."
*"We don't have any problems."
*"Questioning is disrespectful."
*"Women are here to do what men want."
*"When women are upset, they're just being oversensitive."
*"It's not okay to have needs - needs are selfish."

Left in the dark, these rules have an incredible amount of power and anyone who brings them to light will be shamed.

4. People in shame-based systems "code" when they talk

In this system when someone asks you "to do them a favor," you know you don't have the option to say no. It wasn't really a favor, but it was a command. It swiftly becomes clear that needs, honest feelings, questions and opinions that differ are not okay. Saying things straight will get you labeled as the problem, so you have to learn how to speak in code to get what you need. You learn to carry an invisible code book in your head that helps you say things with the least amount of waves possible.

5. Shame-based systems have a hard time with kids

Needs, feelings, opinions, and certain behaviors all have the potential to bring on a sense of shame - especially to kids. Everything must be perfect. You must walk on egg shells and take everything seriously. Tow the line, mind your p's and q's, and act your age. Watch what you say and don't make too much noise. It's not okay for kids to be kids in shame-based churches. They must be miniature adults. It's not a healthy environment for children because they don't find out what's real.

6. Shame-based systems are preoccupied with fault and blame

These systems burn a lot of energy in self-defense, and in asking "Who's responsible?" This question is not asked for the purpose of helping the guilty party face the consequences, but it is raised so they can know whom should be shamed and made to feel bad.

7. Shame-based systems are strong on "head skills"

People in shame-based relationships live in a defensive mode. Shame hurts. It cuts to the heart. Therefore, people must become experts at "self-defense" techniques. These include: denying the existence of problems or rationalizing them away and blaming others. In this system, people are constantly interrogated. But the questions have no answers. "I just can't understand why you did that! Is your head on backwards?" "Why did you do that?" The only safe answer is "I don't know." Any other answer would be analyzed and made to look foolish.

8. Shame-based systems are weak on "heart skills"

Experiencing or expressing certain emotions such as sadness, hurt, loneliness, or humiliation is viewed as an indication of weakness or defectiveness. In these systems people believe that feelings should go away. Consequently, they get stuck carrying a lot of heavy emotions and are never able to resolve them.

9. People in a shame-based system only look as if their needs are met

People come away from these systems with a sense that they are:

*Not loved and accepted
*Only loved and accepted if, when, or because they perform
*Not capable, valuable, or worthwhile
*Alone, not really belonging anywhere, to anything, or with anyone

10. The shame-based church is a system that is upside-down

This relationship system isn't there to pour strength and fullness into its members. Instead, it draws from its members in order to perpetuate itself. Since love and acceptance are something to be earned, members have learned to be good performers. The result is people who are empty and disconnected on the inside with the appearance of fullness on the outside.

People in these shame-based systems spend their lives wondering when they are going to start living and being happy. But life is here to be had and enjoyed freely. Make the choice not to listen to these "killing" voices anymore and choose life!

I Wonder What Jesus Thinks

I read this verse the other day and it hit me in a way I had never seen it before.

"When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them, "The Scriptures declare, 'My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves." (Mark 15:11-17)

I want to briefly share some of the thoughts that came to me....

I wonder what Jesus thinks about the way certain churches handle money. Have some used the church as a way to make money off of honest, God-fearing people? I mean after all, why would a church charge $7 for a CD of the message when it only cost about .40 to make? I know of churches that make all of the messages available free of charge.

Has Jesus gotten upset because honest people have been taken advantage of? I remember a meeting that took place a couple of years back at a very nice venue in town. A special guest was in town and he was going to speak during a luncheon. The true cost of the ticket was less than $20, but the leaders of the church charged $40 for each ticket. The high cost of the ticket made it impossible for some members to attend, but that did not deter the leader's decision to make money off of the tickets.

Is it right to charge more for a church event than it really costs? I don't believe there's anything wrong with covering the cost of an event or even covering unforeseen charges, but it seems to me that the intention of making money off of the church members crosses the line. I think the church should be a place that will try to make a way to include everyone who desires to be a part. The attitude that came across to me was, "If you don't have the faith to believe for the money, then we don't want you to come."

I know God wants churches to prosper so they can get the Gospel out and reach the world, but it should be achieved by honest means. I think people should at least know where their money is going when they give it and I believe people should be treated honestly and fairly at all times.

People should not be conned or coerced into giving - hence the 20 minute prelude before every offering. Do people really have to be pounded week after week, year after year with a mini sermon on tithing? I think the leaders should consider a different approach because if people haven't gotten the message in the 10 to 20 years of hearing it, maybe they aren't going to. I love the approach they take at my new church - let people follow their own heart and give cheerfully when God leads them to.

The main emphasis of a church should never be on money, but it should be on what really matters - having a relationship with God and helping people. Why isn't this the main focus of some churches? I think the answer is clear....To some, money is more important than people. That's not the way it is with Jesus and that may be one reason why He got so upset that day in the temple.

Just curious.....Do you think there is anything to these thoughts and questions I have had or have I misread this?

The Narcissist Leader - Do You Know One?

The DSM-IV, a psychological diagnostic source, recently came out with a list of the criteria for NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). A person displaying a pattern of at least five of the following signs indicates that there is a strong possibility that he/she is a narcissist.

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance.

2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

3. Believes that he/she is "special" and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions.

4. Requires excessive admiration.

5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations that others will treat him/her with favor or will automatically comply with his/her expectations.

6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his/her own ends.

7. Lacks empathy and is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him/her.

9. Shows arrogant, haughty behavior or attitude.

10. Will often have temper tantrums, unreasonable expectations, shocking selfishness, and a complete inability to engage in teamwork.

Dealing With Manipulative People

If you think you may be dealing with a manipulative person, ask yourself these questions....

*Have your friends or family members remarked on how you don't seem like yourself since you entered this relationship? Are they looking at you sideways?

*Have your family relationships become filled with tension at the mention of the manipulator's name?

*Are the people who care about you the most getting worried about you?

*Have you severed ties to the familiar stability of the world you have known and placed the manipulator at the center of your universe?

*Are you losing your individuality and strength?

*Do you find yourself doing things you wouldn't ordinarily do?

*Have the goals and dreams that previously defined you all of a sudden been pushed to the back burner?

*Does the manipulator try to isolate you from your friends and family members?

*Are your attitudes changing to more closely mirror the manipulator's rather than who you really are?

*Do you willfully close your eyes to behavior that you know is wrong?

*Do you excuse the manipulator's behavior? Are you constantly defending him/her?

*Does it seem that it's always "all about him/her?"

*Does the manipulator know how to pull your strings? Do you find yourself doing things you really wish you hadn't?

*Does the manipulator try to take over your financial decisions?

*Do you find that you are being controlled or manipulated through half-truths or omissions? Are you slowly finding out that you have been lied to repeatedly?

*Does the manipulator in your life play the victim and blame others for his/her problems?

*Is there just enough weirdness to make you stop and think, but not quite enough to get you to re-evaluate the entire relationship?

*Are the manipulator's apologies shallow?

Here is some information that you should know if you are dealing with a manipulative person....

*Being in a relationship with a manipulative person is a destructive cycle.

*People in healthy relationships have nothing to hide or defend.

*Don't blow off the opinions of your friends and family. They have your best interests in mind. When you cut off your support system, it only helps the manipulator gain dominance over you.

*Compassion is not easily understood or accepted by manipulators. It will only hurt you more in the end.

*Manipulative people are often very insecure. The root of their selfish control is their own damaged self esteem.

*Don't try to point out the above warning signs to the manipulator. This type of person won't recognize it and you will only be wasting your time.

*This control doesn't happen overnight, but it happens subtly over a period of time. Manipulators will invest months or even years in "training" you to accept and carry out their will.

*Severely controlling and manipulative people often have clinical mental disorders. You cannot hope to change or rescue such a person. As much as you may care for them, the best help you can give them is to refuse to be their victim and direct them to professional help - although most of the time they won't admit they need help.

*Manipulators are legends in their own mind, but the truth eventually comes to light.

(If you found this post helpful, you may also want to read The Manipulators Behavior Defined and Are You Dealing With A Manipulator?)

Characteristics Of Pathological Liars

I came across this list the other day and thought it was very enlightening. I think we all deal with people like this at some point in our life, although I hope you don't have to very often. Many times controlling, manipulative people have these same characteristics, because they are good at lying.

Here is a list of common characteristics of pathological liars.....

*Contradict what they say.

*Lie about even the smallest things.

*Add exaggerations to every sentence.

*Change their story all the time.

*Act very defensively when you question their statements.

*Believe what they say is true, when everyone else knows it isn't.

*Lie when it is very easy to tell the truth.

*Lie to get sympathy, to look better, to save their hide, etc.

*Fool people at first but once they get to know them, no one believes anything they ever say.

*Are extremely manipulative.

*Have been caught in lies repeatedly.

*Will never fess up to the lies.

*Are a legend in their own mind.

*May have a personality disorder.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Link To A Special Letter

As I was reading Aida's blog, "Forgetting The Former Things," I came across a link to a letter written by a lady describing her experience of coming out of a controlling church. I am adding a link to this letter because I think it will help others who are recovering from spiritual abuse. Click here to read the letter and comments.