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."