Friday, August 8, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
I mean, can we say "I am a 'Insert New Name Here', formerly a Christian" kind of like FedEx Office is saying "We are FedEx/Office, formerly FedEx/Kinkos." ?
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
This post mainly speaks of where we are in relation to church stuff 3 years after leaving the old one. We are finding that we are still not ready to jump in and help out at the good church yet, which is sometimes disconcerting, and we are evaluating our reasons for that.
Each one of us who have left the former church could write a book on what occurred there, and needless to say old habits needs to be redone. Our entire way of life needs to be transformed. One of the old habits is attending church just because it's expected of us as Christians, although this is an obligation common to Christians everywhere. We're now learning to listen to the Holy Spirit and only go when it's in our spirits to go which may seem weird to those who haven't endured the teaching that attending church on Sunday is tied to the depth of one's spirituality. Hopefully in re-doing this, we will establish a more healthy habit of approaching the Lord whether in prayer or in attending church. The bleak alternative is to be like robotrons reporting for duty. If we were machines it'd be different, but 'last time we checked' we are still human.
Unfortunately, we have the rhetoric memorized about why we are supposed to force ourselves to do stuff when our hearts are not in it -- how it's dying to self and becoming more like Christ out of sacrifice. Although dying to self is one of the principals of a Spirit-led life, at Cult Church it was twisted and used to subtley control us especially when we began to ignore red flags and allowed the leadership to cross our boundaries. Why did the leaders have no problem with crossing our boundaries?? Equally as important, why did we let them?
Obligation was one of the Church's greatest tools in getting people to attend all the meetings about doing all the work. Even if individuals weren't well suited for the job, we were taught to teach them to ignore their inner misgivings and call it dying to self. If that aroused feelings of frustration or anger it meant he/she wasn't dead enough yet. I guess that's one way to delegate all the work dreamed up by leaders with endless ideas.
Obligation was also a great tool for generating tithes and offerings: Teach people every week in a 15-min sermonette before the offering to give in faith especially directing it at those who have money, but also reminding the ones who had a 'widow's mite' how they should give all they have to the church, -- I mean, to the Lord. Dying to self for the greater good of the church was essential --you were decreasing and Christ was increasing--or at least, the church itself was increasing. Or was that the senior Pastor's Family Lifestyle that was increasing?? Maybe they should have just implemented mandatory tithe like the Mormons and be done with it. It'd save them alot of preachy energy expended.
The more reticent of us are not getting involved in our new church yet because of all the crap we endured at the Controlling Church and because we couldn't bear to go through it again. We've decided it's best for now to 'hide behind the pillars'! We have no desire to be seen or heard by leaders. In fact, we tend to go the other way if we see them.
Yet, we aren't waiting for perfect forgiveness to jump back in either. We do understand that God uses us even while on the mend. But, could it be that we aren't designed to be inside the church and so we shouldn't gage our health on whether we want to help out at church or not. Perhaps we will find our path of 'ministry' (or let's just call it 'helping others') outside the church walls. If we use our energy for what we aren't supposed to do, there won't be energy left to do what we are to do.
Truth to tell, there are a lot of people like us out there -- we've been reading books and blogs and there are entire communities of us with similar disorders as a result of spiritual abuse . A lot of what we are reading indicates that, for the most part, these people still love Jesus but can't stomach the church any longer (even the good ones like ours) and that's mainly because there are religious Christians lurking in churches ready to pounce, even if the pastor and staff are cool and discerning.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
In the last few years we've noticed a certain pattern emerging, without really meaning to, of a certain progression -- layers of religiousness coming off if the person lets it happen. We've also been watching certain people who jump right back into ministry or into another church similar to the one they left. They've seemed to stay stranded in the same state they were in before they left. It's like they are still hungry for the fix that only their particular brand of religious addiction can give them. But how will they avoid the same pitfalls that made them miserable before when they can't even see these kind of religious roads all lead to a similar end?
So, we thought to compile a check list (from what we've learned so far) of signs to gage whether you are STILL IN the religious system or whether you are REALLY OUT! Or we could rephrase it another way: How really out ARE you? Do you still crave the same things you did before you left?
Here is what we've come up with so far -- the prophetic references reflect the type of church we were in so those wouldn't apply to all churches. Feel free to add any of your own!
YOU KNOW YOU RE REALLY OUT OF THE FORMER RELIGIOUS WORLD WHEN
1. You don't mind taking time to just chill from church. If you need to sit a Sunday out, you do, and with no guilt.
2. You don't go running to leaders to pray for you every time you have a need, you take it to God yourself and if you need to, you call a friend you trust.
3. You don't stand in line to meet the pastor at your new church because you feel he/she needs to know who you are because a shepherd should know his sheep. Instead, you embrace the fact that Jesus is your Shepherd and HE knows who you are and that He not only loves you deeply, he actually LIKES you and is interested about every detail of your life.
4. In your new church you feel more like hiding behind the pillars to remain unnoticed. This is actually a good sign.
4. For those who used to watch TBN, you don't anymore.
5. You don't seek personal prophetic words from 'prophets'.
6. For those of you who subscribed to the Elijah List, you are no longer interested.
7. You are no longer interested in church conferences or prophetic parachurch conferences. You are now free to spend your money and time wisely to pursue your own art, dreams, and the like.
8. You realize that the time spent at former church wasted precious time and you grieve over the lost time more than you grieve having to leave.
9. You wake up one morning and realize you really DON'T CARE what the former church people think of you.
10. You have an increasing desire to purge your vocabulary of any Christian Lingo, i.e. religious sounding jargon.
11. You realize that you still have your faith even after it's gone through the wringer and you are now sitting at the feet of God with a sound mind even if you do feel like you are in first grade all over again.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Friday, January 4, 2008
As with any form of abuse, human behavior shows that we gravitate toward what has hurt us in the past. Getting healed and functional in an area is certainly vital before hurling headlong into the same abuse again. Often the abused becomes the abuser so the need to at least undo what's been done should take place in us first, if not a complete recreation of the soul, before taking on something new. And what's the hurry? Is it an ego trip or insecurity issue? It could be and it's something we all deal with.
Yes, it's been uncomfortable at times when we don't give in to the common expectations of the Christian Culture to serve in the local church in some way. Especially when the church is a healthy fruitful one. But we've been listening to a voice within that we do believe is from the Holy Spirit, to wait till he gives a green light to that type of thing. Well, at least that's what our general concensus is. We all hear from him individually and in essence he's been reminding some of us that we aren't ready yet.Maybe we'll never be completely without the long term effects of what we went through. But that doesn't mean that the Lord wouldnt want to work on us for at least some semblance of health, giving us time to reclaim our own faith, and the opportunity to be happy again, and eventually even be a better help to those who go through what we've gone through.
Meanwhile the Lord is faithful to 'use us' to confirm to others who are in the same 'place' that they aren't crazy and to take comfort in the fact that their faith is intact and that's a good thing.
We may still break out into a sweat if we see an offering basket go by or hear a plea for help from the children's ministry on Sundays. We are obviously not ready to do anything more than be a part of the throng (when we can even do that) knowing that it would be a disservice to the church to engage while still under diress.
To summarize, each person has a different time line and a unique path of ministry. Some of us may never help at a church again. Ministry is being redefined completely as we let the Lord recreate us for whatever the next step is--in or out of a church. That's the most healing thing of all, knowing that God isn't limited to the four walls of a building.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Here's what Wikipdia says about Freedom of thought:"To deny a person's freedom of thought is to deny what can be considered one's most basic freedom; to think for one's self.Since the whole concept of 'freedom of thought' rests on the freedom of the individual to believe whatever one thinks is best (freedom of belief), the notion of 'freedom of religion' is closely related and inextricably bound up with these. While in many societies and forms of government, there has been effectively no freedom of religion or belief, this same freedom has been cherished and developed to a great extent in the modern western world, such that it is taken for granted.This development was enshrined in words in the United States Constitution by the Bill of Rights, which contains the famous guarantee in the First Amendment that laws may not be made that interfere with religion "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". Today nearly all democratic nations around the world contain similar language within their respective Constitutions."
All that to say: Ask questions and don't ignore red flags when you see them, in any arena of life, but especially when it comes to your religion and what a leader is asking you to do in the name of relgion. There is no question you shouldn't be able to ask. And you can ask God questions. His shoulders are big enough to handle whatever you may throw at him. In fact, that's why he gave us the ability to reason with wisdom.
question: 1 a (1): an interrogative expression often used to test knowledge (2): an interrogative sentence or clause b:a subject or aspect in dispute or open for discussion
2 a: an act or instance of asking : inquiry
inquiry: 1 : examination into facts or principles : research 2 : a request for information 3 : a systematic investigation often of a matter of public b: interrogation; also : a judicial or official investigation d (1): objection dispute (2): room for doubt or objection (3): chance possibility
red flag: 1 : a warning signal 2 : something that attracts usually irritated attention