Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I No Longer Mistrust God

I'm still kinda thinking this through, but over the years this realization has begun to dawn on me the longer I have been on this journey away from the oppressive hand of Spiritual Abuse. The realization is this: I no longer mistrust God.
A person really doesn't realize that they have God trusting issues under the prosperity/word of faith doctrine until they have left it. Many of the doctrines and teachings of that movement really set you up to fail, to be disappointed, to come to the crashing understanding that our faith isn't enough to move God's hand, that we are not enough. Somehow, we didn't believe hard enough to make God intervene. We didn't quote enough scriptures or we weren't standing on the right ones. Maybe we have some hidden sin or generational curses that are holding us back from the all encompassing redemption that happened on the cross?
Wait! Did I just say the all encompassing redemption that happened on the cross?
Just focus on that for just a second.....the ALL encompassing redemption that happened on the CROSS!
OK, so I had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with what happened on the Cross of Calvary. I didn't have to quote 25 scriptures on healing to make that happen and I didn't have to go through a 10 page prayer on breaking generational curses to make the redemption of the cross effective in my life. Jesus did everything I needed to provide for my redemption and salvation. Jesus, Yeshua, the Son of God, did it ALL. My part was grace through faith, I believed; a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8
So tomorrow I must spend at least a 10th of my time awake in prayer and study of the word to qualify for any blessing that God may or may not have had for me that day. All in hopes that my prayer for God to move mountains will be answered. I must earn the favor of God with my works, with extra long prayer times, quoting scripture, and volunteer service at my church. If I don't my "Holy meter" will be too low to earn the blessing that is mine as a "King's kid". Right?.......Right......(insert sarcasm here).
There's a song that I just absolutely love at the moment and the verse is so simple. It says: All sufficient sacrifice. So freely given, such a price. Bought our Redemption. Heaven's gates swing wide.
Then the chorus simply states: There is power in name of Jesus, to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain. And just in case you really need it to sink in they repeat it many times. Jesus is the ALL Sufficient Sacrifice that provided our All Encompassing Redemption and we didn't have to do a thing to earn that or make it happen. There was no exercising our faith or activating it, or faking it till we made it. It had nothing to do with anything we did. See, as followers of Christ, he does the work and we follow. It doesn't mean that we don't need to pray, or study scripture, or volunteer at our churches or in our communities, it means that the work of the cross was not contingent on those things.
Somehow, Faith and acting out our Faith is so much deeper and more precious than what the Word of Faith/Prosperity gospel portrays. I know that even though I have gone through, and will go through, some very deep valleys in my life, the Sovereign God, my King of Kings, will make a way for me and work all things out for my good even during the darkest times of my life. I trust Him to know what's best for me and I no longer worry if I've earned His favor with all of my "works". I just take his scripture to heart (most of the time, because I'm not perfect in the least and sometimes I need reminding). Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths (paraphrase quote there). So I try and recognize God in every situation. The situation may look pretty hopeless at times, but I know that me jumping through spiritual hoops has nothing to do with whether or not my God will come through or not. Because He will. He always does. Plain and Simple.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Excellent Resources for Spiritual Abuse!
Jeff VanVonderen does an awesome job explaining Spiritual Abuse! If any of you, my readers, suspect you are going to an abusive church or know someone who is, please watch this awesome video. Jeff really hits the nail on the head and teaches through scripture how insidious Spiritual Abuse is. The term "Spiritual Abuse" may be new to some but the actions, process and results of it are there throughout scripture. I encourage all leaders to learn about this sensitive topic because there are way too many wolves in sheep's clothing (pseudo shepherds) fleecing and murdering the flock in today's churches. We need to know how to bring healing and to recognize abusive leaders and abusive doctrines that promote abusive leaders.
Here is part 2 and 3 of that same series:
Watch them, be taught, get informed and live in the freedom that Christ paid for on the cross at Calvary!
Be blessed!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Your Church's Public Image...

Today, on facebook, a friend of mine posted on my wall this very interesting article from Christianity Today. It's titled "The Widowmaker Repents". And here's the link if you'd like to read the article for yourself.
The article was extremely insightful and it is just awesome to see a church repent from their wrongdoing after they had injured so many pastors and leaders, and I'm certain quite a few other congregation members as well. I really wish many more churches would do this. I wish my former church would do this.
Anyway, the article got me thinking. What image does your church project into the community? Churches have reputations. I can mention a church name to a group of people and at least one person will tell me about the reputation of that church. That individual may or may not be a brother or sister in Christ and they may or may not have previously attended that church. It doesn't matter. But the fact is, if your church has been a church for very long, they will have a reputation and it may be a key as to whether your church is healthy or not.
I suggest everyone find out the reputation of the church they attend. It may be an eye opener and bring up some red or green flags. If you are looking for a church, this may help you avoid the unhealthy ones.
I'll use my church for example. We have a reputation in the community. Here's what I've heard.
 - It has very "strong" women. That's been used in a good and bad connotation. I have to laugh because I'm one of those and I know both sides to that statement. Being a "strong" woman has it's blessings and downfalls. I am kinda stubborn, but I'm a leader and many of the women in my church are too. We are strong women.
- We are known as a praying church. I think that's a good thing. Our Pastor is known for his long prayers....hehe! He even includes song titles without realizing it!
- We are known as a community/outreach minded church.
- And we are known as a "be who you are" church.
- And a worshiping church. (I'd like to think I had something to do with that as the worship
I'm sure their are other things we are known for in the community but that's basically what I have heard from other Pastors and people in our community.
So looking at a church's reputation can tell you a little bit more about the inner workings of a church. Things to look out for, some red flags:
- If your pastor at all discusses how others pastors in town talk negatively about him or her. If your leadership doesn't have good standing in the community how will your church?
- Do you have any outside influences to even ask about your church's reputation? OK MAJOR RED FLAG!!!! If you have no friends or family outside your own church to ask about what they think about your church....THEN YOU JUST MIGHT BE IN A VERY UNHEALTHY CHURCH!!!!!
- take a look at turn over in your church. Do people come for a few months then leave? Call up people who have left and find out WHY!!! Not everyone who leaves a church is backslidden or has rebellion issues. If that's your leader's or other congregation member's response as to why individuals or families have left or theydo not know, then that's another RED FLAG! Plus if no one ever leaves your church on good terms....BAD!
Basically I want people to evaluate their church dynamics and strive to be in healthy places spiritually. We all have unintentionally hurt people but some churches do it intentionally. They intentionally control their congregations, or in some cases key influential members do this to their leaders or other congregation members. They intentionally seek out to isolate members from outside influences.
So when you ask people about your church be on the look out for:
  - "oh, you go to "THAT" church." You may want to ask their honest opinion of what they meant by "THAT".
- The polite, awkward, cringing face that let's you know they really don't want to offend you with their opinion.
Things you don't want to hear about your church:
- gossipers
- judgmental
- manipulators
- negative activities about your leaders
- financial issues like suspicion of misappropriating funds! PLUS: if your pastor brings this up on a consistent basis that he's been accused multiple times of this.....'cough, cough'....the people who accused him may just have reason to have accused him...or her....just saying! I've seen this and when I was asking about a churches reputation in this community that same issue was repeated and repeated and repeated! All from different sources and all had different stories from different times! I was shocked! This was clearly an issue in that church!
- stories about "I knew someone who went there" and they left on bad terms! What people say about your church outside of it matters!
- sin bashing - this can be like the judgemental thing but more specifically, like preaching against homosexuallity on a tangent because a homosexual visited your church for the first time on a sunday morning. Other pastors would call this "situational preaching".
- FALSE DOCTRINE! If someone tells you this about your church....please listen! You have no idea until you've come out of a church with false doctrine how insidious it can be. I am sorry to inform some you but we are NOT little gods and there is no scriptural evidence that Jesus went to hell for three days!
- money hungry
- controlling
I could go on but the point is, if your church portrays a negative image to the community then why are you part of it? If you are a leader of that kind of church repent! Seriously! The hardest thing to do as a leader is to admit when we are wrong. I get that. I DO NOT like being wrong....just ask my husband (see that's the bad part of being a strong woman). But if we lose focus of being the Gospel, the Good News, to our communities for the sake of our Pride then we've lost the Salt. We have missed it. I'd rather be wrong and see our communities come to the hope and knowledge of Christ. We have got the greatest story ever worth telling and we are sitting on our hands doing nothing. Instead we are portraying the exact opposite. What's our public Image? If it's negative, let's do some repenting like the church in the article and change it. Here in Panama City there are just too many churches with a negative public image and each of us has to ask why and to do something about it. So what's your church's Public Image?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why I am no longer Word of Faith

On Sunday I got to speak on something near and dear to my heart: false teachers. I have experience with false teachers since I was under one for 5 years and I grew up hearing many false doctrines through other Word of Faith leaders, and sometimes Pentecostal and other denominational leaders. 
I don't claim to have all my doctrinal ducks in a row. I'm not a theologian. What I do know, and recognize, is that false teachers, prophets and leaders have stripped the church of their witness and many sheep are being devoured, ravaged and fleeced. I would like to say that I believe that Word of Faith doctrines and it's leaders are false doctrines and teachers. Their doctrines do not line up with the word of God and are contrary to the very nature and character of God. Most often these doctrines deny the Sovereignty of God but it goes so much deeper than that. 
I am not so eloquent and studied that I can break down every false doctrine for you if you are under the Word of Faith, or your church leaders hold to the teachings of people such as: Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Myers, Paula White, Joseph Prince, Crefflo Dollar, The Crouch's, Jessie Duplantis, E.W. Kenyon, Fred Price and Rodd Parsley. Their are many more who follow the doctrines of the Word of Faith movement. Just turn on the TV to any Christian station and you will see them. 
Since I can't do the subject justice, I will refer to a work that I know does an excellent job with sound biblical teaching and exposes the true nature of the heresies that these people preach. There is nothing new under the sun and the devil is using the same tactic that he used in the Garden. The devil has said to the church just like in Genesis 3:4-5
"You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil". 
Word of Faith doctrines teach that we are "little gods", enticing us with the same twisted truth that the serpent told Eve that she would be "like God". Word of Faith doctrines also teach that as "little gods" we can name and claim our rights of heaven here upon this earth as if somehow we know more than our Sovereign God. They teach that we have creative power to speak things into existence as these "little gods". 
The saddest part of these doctrines is that they have permeated themselves into other denominations and the heresies have spread and are no longer within the confines of just the Word of Faith movement. These heresies have perverted and destroyed our witness and credibility with the World because we no longer have the salt that causes the World to thirst for the truth. We look and act just like the rest of the world; consumed by materialism, fame, domination and wealth. 
This video I'm going to post for you all is quite lengthy, but it's worth watching. Watch it and see if any of these heretical teachings have slithered their way into your belief systems. It is eye opening to see and hear the heresies so blatantly put out there for us to see and how clearly the Word of God puts these doctrines and heresies in their place. Even if you have never gone to a Word of Faith church and don't even know what denomination it is, watch this video and examine your faith. Paul encourages us in 1 Corinthians 13:5 to "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? - unless indeed you are disqualified. 
God tells us to examine and test ourselves. Let the Holy Spirit reveal to you if you are believing and holding onto a false doctrine. I had held on to so many, but by the grace of God I'm coming to know Him more than I ever knew while I was under the Word of Faith movement. 
Here's the video. Take a look and be blessed. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Is Church Your Idol?

I promised a few weeks ago I'd post on how things have changed for me over the last few years and something I heard on the radio this morning inspired me to continue on that theme. On my daily hour plus, long drive to drop children off at their perspective schools I was listening to the Wally show on my local Christian radio station and Wally was talking about idols in our lives and it got me thinking. I can honestly say that years ago church was an idol in my life. I didn't mean to make it my idol, and many ministry leaders struggle with this because ministry at times can be all-consuming, but it became one for me, with horns, and demanded sacrifices and child offerings. This idol was encouraged, pushed and often even forced upon, and it demanded my full-time worship and sacrifice. See, in spiritually abusive churches, and with abusive leaders, the idol of church must be worshiped at all cost because without our devotion and constant attention to this idol, the church will never grow in size. Spiritual abusive leaders need worshipers to fuel their egos and to replace the constant turnover rate of the disenfranchised. In my old church turnover was a constant problem. I was never aware of how much until I left the church and started running into people who had formally attended my old church for a short time, but then left unexpectedly. Most had, at one point in time, gone to the pastor and had questioned something they didn't like, or sought advice only to get bad advice, then questioned that advice and then were asked to leave the church because they "dishonored" the pastor. Anyway...I got off topic. So church became an idol in my life. My whole existence revolved around church and this cycle of behavior was encouraged, expected and demanded of me by my pastors and even congregation members. If I wasn't at an event, I was questioned as to why. I was questioned by congregation members and reprimanded by leaders. If I came down sick, I was still expected to be there. There was only one time I missed an event... The Pastor was soon approaching his 50th birthday and a bunch of people were going to create a funny video about things to do after 50 and this video was to be presented during church. Well of course, I was expected to be there, but the night before I had broke out in terrible hives. My face and chest was a giant, itchy, red, swollen, awful, painful array of hives. There was NO WAY I was going to venture into the public eye much less be in a video! I was putting ice on my face and chest and doping myself up on large amounts of benedryl. To drive anywhere so I could be at a pool/video making party and be in the sun and outdoors would have been dangerous to other drivers and would have made the hives worsen with sun exposure. So I obviously canceled. Well, a few days after the event a good friend informed me of how the pastors son had openly bashed me during the entire event about my lack of commitment to the church and his father. That event was the ONLY event I ever missed all the time I worked there. So, you can see by sharing this story how this idol was encouraged and forced upon people. I mean I gladly and willingly took this idol into my heart. I admit that. I neglected my children, my husband, and excluded everyone I knew or ever met who were outside of my church, my idol. I was detrimental to the gospel of Jesus Christ because this idol consumed my life. So how have things changed? Well, church is no longer my idol! I don't feel guilty if I miss an event or I'm sick and need to rest at home. I no longer drag myself to church if I cannot breathe or I'm puking because I know I will be judged to have a lack of faith because I'm not walking in victory and health. I have sick days. I'm allowed to have rest and my current leaders have never guilted me into coming when I know I cannot make it. I have friends OUTSIDE the church! Previously, at my old church it was VERY frowned upon to have friends from different churches or even unsaved friends. I cannot count the number of times my friend and old worship leader (She was the worship leader at my old church for three years) was bashed, discussed with disdain, and our friendship strongly discouraged. I was even strongly encouraged and it was suggested to me that I delete all former congregation members from my facebook and myspace account(a suggestion was always an order, never optional. I'd get reprimanded if I didn't follow these suggestions). So now I'm guilt free. I can pick and choose what events I attend and there is no condemnation if I have things planned or need family time. I have had numerous sick days because of that stupid, awful and nasty flu bug that I kept catching repeatedly (thankfully winter is over now and we are all in good health). I also have friends outside my church and *gasp* some of them are non-Christians! I'm also not condemned like I once was for sharing things I struggle with and I'm allowed to be imperfect. If I have a financial, emotional or spiritual need I'm allowed to share my burdens. At my former church, I was told not to share these things because we were the leaders and if I had a need I was required to go to the pastor for these things. I just want to point out how toxic this is. If your pastor requires you as a congregation member or staff member to come to them for all theneeds you may have they are setting themselves up for them to be your source and to make you beholden to them. The times they help you will always come back as strings and attachments; a gift with strings attached. For instance, a few months after I left I received a phone call from the pastors wife and she was ranting about something that she assumed I had said or did...something about a letter...not totally sure, but in that conversation she yelled at me at how they had "fixed your babies teeth", bought me a new air conditioner (which they never did. They paid 30 bucks to have mine serviced when hubby was out of town), bought me clothes and had treated me like a daughter and how could I do this to them. I had no clue what she was talking about, but I thought it interesting how whenever they helped someone it was always with conditions and everyone knew about how they helped them. I knew very personal information about some people and how the pastor had helped them with co-signed mortgages and even helped one person avoid a tax evasion prison sentence. Help from my old pastors came with a price. Nothing was ever confidential or free. EVER! It always came with the price of unmerited absolute devotion, obedience and worship. Now I could go on and on about all the awful stories and what these people did at my old church, but I won't. Just know that these stories are NOT isolated instances. I've heard similar stories from other leaders who have been abused and congregation members...and NOT just from my old church! In fact, all the spiritual abuse stories I've heard have the same theme, that the idol of "church" must be worshiped! Total and absolute devotion to the church idol is mandated and if you don't worship the idol you are shunned and something is wrong with you, never the idol or its worshipers. I want people who read my blog to sit back, take stock and look at what is going on in their own lives and churches. Way too many of our churches are unhealthy. Now think...are any of my stories, my experiences similar in some way to what you have experienced? If so it might be time to go read Matthew chapter 7 and do some fruit inspecting of these ministries. Has "Church" been promoted as an idol in your church? Is "church" an idol in your own life? If it is, it may be high time to cast down that idol and evaluate how to not have that idol come crawling back up on that pedestal in your life. For me, that idol is no longer there. It took a great emotionally rendering event in my life to bring that idol crashing down in my life and for a long time I still sought to worship that idol by trying to find the "perfect" church in which I could become consumed in once again; all so I could feel that comfortable sense of belonging and that feeling of being needed; that they could not do without me. So, as with all my posts, and the purpose behind them, examine and evaluate. Then make a change if needed.

Friday, April 19, 2013

How Things Have Changed

For some reason today I began to contemplate how different my life has been since I left my abusive church. It's a wonder at how free I feel. I have often thought about this but just haven't chosen to write about it in my blog until now. I know I have many anonymous readers out there who might be curious as to how things ended up. They may be trying to decide if the cost is worth leaving their abusive church situation (I know I have some readers from my former church and I hope you weigh my words carefully). Plus I decided to write this post as an encouragement to those who have just come out of a spiritually abusive situation; it does get better. On Wednesday, I began to tell a new member at my church my testimony of how I came through my spiritually abusive situation and the shock at what I went through was expressed with a comment that I've heard many times, "I'm surprised you are still a Christian". Most Pastors and leaders who I've told are all surprised that I'm still serving God and even more shocked that I'm still serving in the ministry. I think back to things I endured and the things that I had once considered "normal" and now I know that those things are not in the gospel or are even appropriate. But before I get into how my life is so different now, I must confess I didn't share the whole story. I left out a very important section. I didn't do it because I'm just now adding to my story now to make it more dramatic or because I'm some sort of drama queen, but I did it because of sheer embarrassment and shame that I didn't see my old Pastor for who he was and what he was doing was wrong. See, my former Pastor was like a father to me and I just couldn't comprehend that this father-figure in my life could ever look at me in an inappropriate way but he did. He also acted inappropriately towards me on numerous occasions and in front of witnesses. My old Pastor sexually harassed me and I was too ashamed to admit it in my blog because honestly, most victims of sexual harassment aren't believed. They are often ridiculed and blamed as if they had somehow brought the abuse upon themselves by dressing or acting provocatively. But anyone who knew me then knows provocative behavior and dress was not in my MO. In fact, sometimes I dressed too conservatively. No one ever saw me wear skirts above my knees and a low cut top was always worn with a conservative cami underneath. Cleavage was NOT in my dress code. My clothes were never tight and my hair was either curled (nothing fancy)or in a pony. Makeup was also minimal. I wasn't wearing flowered peter pan collared dresses that came to the floor mind you, but I was appropriately dressed at all times and would have been welcomed in the vast majority of even the most conservative of religious institutions. So neither my dress nor my mannerisms brought any of this unwanted attention. Now the sexual harassment that I suffered through wasn't the kind where the boss tries to force the employee through direct manipulation to have sex with them. He was much more subtle. It's why I was so embarrassed to even acknowledge to myself that it was even happening. The first time my Pastor said, "if anything ever happened to (insert his wife's name here)I would go for someone in their 30's", my radar should have been going off, but it didn't because not only did he say this in front of the Associate Pastor, but I just couldn't believe that this father-like man of God could ever be referring to me. I didn't want to believe it. But for two years he made this same exact statement, over and over again. He also brought up my breast size over and over again and compared the size of them to those in the youth group (he did this in front of the youth pastor as well). He also came into my office and once asked me about masturbation and if I practiced it. Another time he came into my office and asked me if I would ever have cosmetic surgery on my breasts. We were alone in the church when both of those conversations took place. Then the topper, which really made me realize the harassment was real and not just imagined, was when during a mission trip, he invited me into his bedroom, which I promptly declined and went to read my bible (our hosts had just left the house and we were alone). Then a few weeks later (a week before the miscarriage) he told me I needed to give my husband an ultimatum to get his "life right with God" because my husband wasn't a regular attender so the Pastor told me we were "unequally yoked". He encouraged me to leave my husband and move in with him and his wife because I deserved better. There were tons of other instances where my old Pastor acted inappropriately but I just swept them under the carpet because I just didn't want to believe that my life with the leaders in the church was a complete fraud. I had a great job that I loved and would have done for free because I loved it so much. I could bring my children with me whenever I needed to and I had close friends. I had a family within my church. The church was my total life and support system so it threw me for a loop when that rug was yanked out from underneath me. So now I bet some of you are now going...."ah, I get it now". It all starts to make sense when you add the sexual harassment element into things. It explains his obvious adverse reaction to my pregnancy and the controlling way he tried to dictate my life, marriage, and family by saying it was against God's will for me to have another child. It also explains why (to you readers) he was so adamant at convincing everyone I was crazy and then not allowing me to finish out my two weeks. He was doing everything he could just to discredit me in case the truth ever reared it's ugly head and I chose to speak up. As soon as he knew that his chances were smashed, he could no longer control me, and because we were possibly leaving, he was scrambling to cover all his bases by defaming me from the pulpit and on a one-on-one basis with my friends. But THANK GOD that's over. I no longer have to worry about that and God has fine tuned my spiritual abuse radar and I now call things for what they are I won't tolerate it. Now to how things have changed...Well obviously I no longer have to deal with sexual harassment or manipulative abuse from my Pastor. Even though those things changed immediately for me, since I was pretty much cast out of the church and asked not to return, the healing process has taken a long time. Longer than I would have hoped, but it has happened. On a physical level there was an immediate change in our finances. My old Pastor had said to many people how we would see financial ruin because of our disobedience but the opposite happened. We are not rich mind you, but when you consistently get blessed financially with large raises and opportunities, you know that those condemning statements were not godly in the least. In fact, my husband now makes more now on his own than what we made three and half years ago with both of our incomes. But that change was immediate. As soon as we left that church we saw God bless us. I had been so worried about losing my monthly income but God always knows what he is doing and he's proven himself faithful. I also saw an immediate change in ALL of my relationships. Wow, that was the biggest impact by far! My marriage relationship went through a time of renewal and intense intimacy. We were suddenly "one flesh"(I'm not talking sexually here just that we were finally on the same page). I was no longer allowing my pastor or any one else to trump my husband. I really began to learn what it means to respect my husband. For the first time in years I was actually listening to my husband's spiritual advice instead of demeaning and dismissing him as spiritually inferior. Turns out my husband is a wealth of wisdom. Another relationship that changed was my relationship with my kids. I became so much more relaxed and I grew so much closer to my children and far less critical. I shudder to think what kind of atmosphere my kids would have grown up under had we stayed at that church. Considering that 90% of the youth in my old church who went through their teenage years there were sexually active by the age of 12 or 13 and so many of those youth went through serious identity and sexual orientation crisis's. My son will be 12 tomorrow and I just cannot imagine my little boy being sexually active at his age. I witnessed numerous families ship their troubled teens off to live with some relative because they wouldn't tolerate that sinful behavior in their homes anymore. It makes me grieve to see what these poor teens had to endure. This post is beginning to get rather long and I will post more in a few days, but just know this reader,in all things we have seen the opposite of what was predicted of us by our old leaders. It is OK to leave an abusive church. It will hurt to do so and to leave all your close ties behind, but always remember this one thing....John 3:16, the most famous verse in the Bible...For God so loved... Just stop right there and focus on the love of God. Judge everything by the love of God. The love of God should be your standard, ruler and measurement of all things. And what does Jesus say in John 13:34-35? “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” If you cannot hold up that ruler of love and be able to see the love of God in a ministry then you will want and need to steer clear. All you should ever have to do is ask, "is this love?". If you can't see the love in someone's actions and words consistently than it is not of God. So walk away. No one is perfect but look for the consistency. In my walk with that church the consistent pattern was of: manipulation, greed, lies, illegal activity, questionable money practices, harassment, destroying of marital and family relationships, backbiting, gossip, divulging of confidences, condemnation, reprimands, pride, elitism, judgment, guilt trips to serve and tithe. For those in abusive church situations, think about the last time you spoke to your Pastor and he brought something to your attention. Was any of it based on what was best for you, your family and your spiritual growth? Or was it best for the church or pastor in a monetary way or for you to fill yet another volunteer position? Did your encounter leave you feeling elated and blessed, or overwhelmed and burnt out by yet another expectation? I'd say 90% of my encounters with my old Pastor, where he brought something to my attention, left me feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. It was just one more plate that I had to juggle with impossible expectations. Just go look up Matt 11:28-30. When God asks you to do something he always shoulders the burden and you're just there to walk alongside, but abusive pastors expect you to do their will, not God's, then blame you when the burden becomes too much to handle. Is what your pastor asks you to do his will or God's will?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Starting at the Beginning

For those of you who want to start at the beginning and work your way through to the end here's a tip:
Click on the Archives in April and start at the post "In the Beginning". That is the start of my story and then just follow it through until the last post.

I have to warn you blog is not for everyone. Those who are religious and think it is sacrilege to speak out against injustice, just because it was my Pastors who did it, do not seem to like what I have to say. I read something recently and I have a response for those who seem to be offended by my candidness of what happened to me. It goes something like this: "we have been taught for so long against offence that we no longer get offended at injustice".

In the past, I have had to remind, even good Christian people, that pregnancy discrimination is illegal. I have had to point out that manipulation is not godly, nor is it love. I have had to point out that the employment practices that were practised by my old church were unethical, at best. If these things had happened to me while working in a secular environment, I would have had a crowd of supporters behind me. Instead, because it was my church leaders instead of the "evil, sinful, boss-man" of the secular world, I am labelled by some as a gossiper, or one who sows discord among the brethren.
Maybe I'm actually trying to unify the brethren and spare more people from the pains of spiritual abuse. Abuse is never good and it is only God who can take something awful and turn it around for good. In my experience though, things only change when we allow God to change them. Covering our eyes, like five year old children and thinking no one can see the abuse if we just imagine hard enough is pure foolishness. Whenever God makes a change in us, we have to acknowledge the existence of what God wants to remove first. It is only then that God begins the miraculous transformation as we allow Him access into our lives. It always starts with two things: acknowledging the problem, and acknowledging that we need God's help to fix it.
Spiritual Abuse is a problem in today's church and the solution starts with acknowledging that there is a problem. The good thing is God always has the solution and that only requires love and obedience.