Monday, July 19, 2010

Heavenly Deception - previous post

My previous post was a poem written by brettact2. The poem is a description of his journey from spiritual abuse to freedom in Christ. I’m sure many who have been victimized by spiritual abuse can relate to the hurt and the struggles that he describes.

Brett has graciously agreed to make himself available to dialogue with anyone who would like to share their thoughts and their questions. So, if you’ve been touched by the raw honesty of his poem, feel free to add your comments.

Freedom is available to you and I know Brett would love to hear your story and encourage you on your journey to freedom. I'm going to link this post to my Forgetting the Former Things blog where I first posted this because Brett added a comment in which he asked some thought provoking questions as well as sharing more about his journey so, after reading his poem, I suggest you read his additional comments. Feel free to respond.

Heavenly Deception

The following poem was posted on The Free Believers Network forum. The author who calls himself brettact2 wrote this poem describing his journey out of "a one true church personality cult 30 years ago."

Because of my experience with spiritual abuse, this poem touched me deeply and I believe anyone who has been victimized will be able to relate to what was said. I asked Brett if I could post it here because it clearly describes the confusion and guilt that we experience as our eyes are opened. I believe understanding our emotions and knowing that it’s okay will help in the healing of those who are still struggling.

May you be encouraged as you read Brett’s words.

Heavenly Deception

There is so much Lord,
That is claimed in Your name,
For which we are ashamed.

Truth whispered from ear to ear;
Prized, hidden, cloaked,
Disguised from the world;
For we are one of the chosen few,
Initiates into the mysteries of time,
And the world laughs at us.

The works of man feel soo good-
Discipline, love, acceptance,
Unity in uniformity,
Common belief,
With no grief, no pain-
We’re anesthetized,
So we believe everyone else is insane
Living in vain,
While we're mindless -
Drugged out, washed out,
Unable to know our feelings & doubts,
Because we know Truth,
We're in the Family,
We're his 'children'
And must express the reality thereof;
Perfectly loyal, without fear, doubt,
Or equivocation.
Just claim emancipation,
As we sink deeper,
And deeper,
Thru mere participation,
Into mindless submission,
Performing the deception,
Ordained of god,
To advance the Work,
Amongst all these clods.
Heavenly Deception -
In the name of Truth.

We sit back,
Having it all pat,
Swallowing Satan's con:
Surface religion.
Tired of his standard brands,
We searched for truth, peace & love.
He offered us suitable facsimiles,
(Empty & hollow,
The only level deception survives at)
Just prior to our reality confrontation;
Plucked out of the rat race,
Placed into Satan's deceptive grace.

But then the moment comes,
The true moment of truth,
When we see
From the simple gut level values of our conscious,
That what the group speaks,
To its members
And the world,
Don't match.
The moment of confrontation -
When we find politics preempts truth.

"God, what do I do?
This group teaches the truth,
The fruits are good,
But God,
This is hypocrisy,
Help me Lord!
I want to believe!
I want to belong!
I want to serve You,
I want to do what is right!
Help me God,
Show me how to reconcile the two,
Maybe this…
Or maybe that…
But it doesn't fit!
It just doesn't fit.

Lord, why aren't you answering me?
Can You?
Maybe they don't reconcile -
But they've got to -
What they preach and write is so true -
I've put so much into this organization -
They can't be hypocrites,
Can they?…
Why not?
Why do they have to be different from other men?
Why can't money, power & fame
Get to them,
Making religion one big game?
Help me!!!
I don't want to think these thoughts,
I don't want to believe this to be true,
I want to believe in You,
I want to do Your work,
And they're doing it.
Help me!!
I can't figure this out!
Its driving me mad!
Help me!!!

Then more information came pouring in,
Confusing me more,
Friends desperately bombarding me with questions and facts;
The dilemma worsens;
I can't hold on,
But I must,
They are God's chosen,
The true church,
The only way to eternal life.

"I just want peace Lord,
I don't want anything new in my life;
I just want to sit home.
Leave me alone everyone,
I'm busy hanging on to the truth;
Please, don't change anything in my world,
I'm just barely in it now.
Oh Lord, I can't wait till the day I die'
Thoughtless death,
Sweet death,
Please come to me."

But it didn't.
Instead, You sent a message,
You reminded me of our first meeting,
How You convicted me to search for the Truth,
Showed me to judge honestly.

Thank You Lord,
For renewing my faith in You to see me through.
Be with me as I study YOUR Word,
Let me not take sides,
Nor make artificial standards to measure by,
But seek the Truth,
Which shall make me free;
If I am free
I am free totally.

There is so much Lord,
That's destroying people in these cults;
Use me to help them,
To help pluck them out of the fire somehow,
As You have plucked me,
Saved me from deception's misery.
Come Lord Jesus,
To save us all from ourselves.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Spiritual Abuse Recovery

Recently, I was made aware of a new book that has been published and released. The author is Dr. Barb Orlowski and the title is "Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness." The book is the result of Dr. Orlowski's research to understand "how Christians have gone from the devastating experience of spiritual abuse at their local church to a condition of spiritual restoration."

In the process of researching this topic, Dr. Orlowski has gathered data from interviews with those who have experienced spiritual abuse and have gone through the process of recovery. Although I haven't read this book yet, through my correspondence with Dr. Orlowski, I've come to appreciate her desire to see people set free and made whole.

Paul warned the Ephesian church that wolves impersonating sheep would come among the flock and deceive them. This has proven to be true as countless thousands of sincere believers have been victimized by abusive church leaders using a distorted interpretation of the Bible to hold people in bondage. Having a sincere desire to serve God, these believers are led to believe that their love for God is demonstrated by unquestioning obedience to their church leaders.

Spiritual abuse is the misuse of power and authority and, in abusive systems, followers become nothing more than slaves who are there to fulfill their leaders whims and desires. Some eventually grow tired of the control and constant abuse and leave the group. However, even though they've left, the journey to wholeness has just begun and it can be a long and painful one. During this time, the person needs to know that they're not alone in what they're experiencing and that wholeness is possible. I believe Barb's book can be a welcome resource as they navigate through the often turbulent process of healing.

To learn more about this book, check out her website.

Karen's story - part 2

As I explained in a previous post, my friend Karen, sent me several private messages sharing her story. She had been a victim of spiritual abuse and has learned much as a result of having gone through that experience. I believe her story would be an encouragement to other so I asked her if I could post it here. Because of the length of the messages, I've decided to post them as a series, so here's part 2 of Karen's story.

"That’s the theoretical stuff. Now I want to talk about my own personal reactions and down-to-earth lessons. I am far from “healed,” so if some of these sound jaded or cynical, they probably are….

If you meet someone who hears from God all the time and presents themselves as spiritually sensitive or godly, run like hell. Especially if they want to “mentor you.” They’re either compensating for something and hiding some deep insecurities or they’re on a power trip which can be very subtle. A person can really exalt oneself and feed off the good feelings of “doing ministry” and become bad news without realizing it.

Be alert for addictive behavior like immersion in christian music, always seeking “more” from God, activities and mannerisms that make people appear as other than human or real--unapproachable, distant because they’re so into Jesus that they have no time or space for you. Ya can’t love God and not love those around you.

If you can’t talk about or question the unspoken cultural rules, mannerisms, or mass opinions, get out.

Trust your gut. If you’re feeling something that you can’t verbalize that makes you uncomfortable, listen and don’t dismiss it even if you can’t describe what you are uncomfortable about. Clarity on that will come later. If you’re feeling repressed, you are being repressed.

Don’t be surprised if your best friends suddenly ignore your existence.

If you have to go someplace to find God or God’s anointing, healing, or whatever, chances are it’s just another human activity and full of emotionalism and hype. Do yourself a favor and stay home.

Look out for dishonor and disrespect meted out to people who do not conform. Look for uniformity touted as “unity.”

If someone starts talking about “touch not God’s anointed”, get out.

Often there will be a brief time in a new group where there is more freedom than you’ve ever seen in a congregation. Watch for leadership to start talking about training people to operate in their gifts, or requesting that you go to a select group of people (an inner circle of “elders” or “more experienced people”) before being allowed to speak, or the beginnings of teachings about Jezebel spirits or spiritual authority. All or some of these indicators mean that the fun is over: someone feels threatened and needs to be controlling. When that happens, you may as well leave, because the initial freedom that drew you will never be allowed to return. It is classic bait and switch, and you will be left to jump hoops without ever getting to your destination of freedom of expression within the body. And you will be shut down.

Intellectualism may not foster spirituality, but neither does emotionalism.

Bondage is often disguised as freedom."

Karen's story

From time to time, I'll be posting with the author's permission emails or private messages that I've received. Some of these people have shared their story with me and I feel that others can relate to what they've written and would be encouraged to read about their experiences.

My friend, Karen, has been a victim of spiritual abuse and is still working through the process of healing. As part of this processing, she recently sent me several lengthy messages expressing her thoughts. She has graciously agreed to allow me to post excerpts from her story. Because of the length of the messages, I'll be sharing her thoughts in two separate postings.

Since spiritual abuse can appear in many forms, I know many of you will be able to relate to her experiences. Her story is important and by sharing it here, I hope many of you will be encouraged as you continue your journey to wholeness.

Thank you, Karen, for letting me share your story. Here are excerpts from the messages she sent me:

"To begin with, no spirituality can be healthy if it spawns a dysfunctional subculture.

Are certain personality types drawn to this sort of thing? Are people so threatened that they have to build a rigid structure around them so they can feel secure?

It struck me that their whole view of reality was almost like a fantasy role playing game.

A performance trap, but with the additional poison of the Garden of Eden temptation: “You shall be as God”--and people grasped at personal power and a sense of significance that they lacked in their daily lives. What I really found weird was traveling with these people to a conference: we were in the car for a few hours, but nobody talked! The p&w music played and everyone was having their special god time, and that couldn’t be interrupted. Even on the way home, nobody wanted to talk about what they experienced or heard at the conference. This is true in the Church services too…. It was just individuals seeking their touch from God, no sense of corporate interaction. It occurred to me that these were all God addicts trying to get their next “hit” of the warm fuzzies and were willing to do what it took to “get the anointing” or get high on Jesus. And the sharp demarcation between the spiritual and physical world ensured that mundane existence didn’t have anything to do with God, unless there were some “divine appointments” in which you could escape for a while into that “other world.”

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pigs in the Pulpit

Written by J. Michael Wittman, "Pigs in the Pulpit" is the story of his family's journey to freedom after years in what he describes as a cult-like group. As I've said in previous posts, spiritual abuse is a subject that has been swept under the rug by the institutional church. No one wants to talk about it. Well, J. Michael Wittman is talking about it and I admire his candor.

As long as it remains a hidden topic, multitudes of sincere believers will be hurt and victimized. Anyone who has read my blog knows that I'm passionate about seeing the captives set free so I'm thankful for books like this one that are exposing the truth about spiritual abuse.

This is a captivating story of how the author and his family were ensnared in abusive systems for over 17 years. He describes his initial experience of "love bombing" and how that led to allegiance to two different groups and leaders that were controlling and abusive. In the early stages, there was "a systematic tearing down of my will, my conscience and my character, so that I would be more susceptible to being controlled."

Those who haven't been involved in these types of groups wonder why anyone would stay. However, one of the characteristics of mind control is that people find it difficult to leave even after they begin to see what's happening. The tentacles of mind control are strong and not easily broken. The author clearly describes the struggle he and his family went through before they finally were able to break free.

Even after leaving, however, the road to healing and normalcy is often long and difficult. In my opinion, the last chapter of the book is one of the best. In it, the author gives ten suggestions that will aid in the transition to normalcy. Even though I've been outside of an abusive group for many years, I found his suggestions helpful.

Reading this book was painful at times since I could relate to the author's pain and humiliation. However, in my opinion, he's done a wonderful job of describing the horrors of what he endured. Until people are willing to speak out, others will continue to be victimized. and I'm glad he's chosen to tell his story.

Although the story was riveting, it was sometimes difficult to wade through the many unimportant descriptive details. However, I still believe it's an excellent resource for anyone struggling to break free from an oppressive religious system.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"My Journey Out of Oz"- Freedom From A Spiritually Abusive Church

My friend, Windblown1, has agreed to let me share her story of God’s amazing grace as he set her free after spending almost 30 years in a spiritually abusive church. Here’s her story in her own words.


Six years ago, May 2004:
I had made my decision to leave, through MUCH turmoil and fear.
I was alone in the house, trying to get my mind to focus on the practical issues of my decision.
In an overwhelming rush of emotion, an explosion of pent up anger, frustration, fear and disillusionment burst forth from me and I began to SCREAM, SCREAM, SCREEEEEEEEEEEEAM--on and on for a very long time. If someone had been in the house at the time, they would have taken me to the emergency room for treatment.
But I was alone~~~~
I fell to the floor by my bed and from deep in my spirit I began to say, “The Lord is my Shepherd,
I shall not want, He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He restores my soul.”
Peace began to come~~
When I got up from the floor, I was ready to take the step that would lead me to life “outside the walls.”
I call it “My Journey Out of OZ” because after I was out, and the curtain began to be pulled back, I was to realize that the “Power” that I so feared and submitted to, was only in my mind. A false illusion taught and nurtured by a system that thrives on power, manipulation and control.
But at that time, I only saw the works of one person, our pastor.
It would be a long time before I would realize that the whole system was rotten.
The journey began some 31 years ago.
A farm wife with 3 children who loved to garden, can food, and take care of her home.
A woman who married right out of high school.
A woman who had a DEEP hunger for God in her soul.
A woman searching for the missing piece to herself, for wholeness.
I had gotten involved in New Age, filled myself with the teachings in my search for Truth. I was not raised in a Christian home, but in those days I think we all thought we were Christians because we were Americans.
One day my friend, who was on this spiritual quest with me, told me she had met someone who taught Bible studies and this woman was willing to teach us.
We were so excited, finally we were going to find Truth!
We started the Bible study with 4 ladies in a kitchen. The woman teaching us was an excellent teacher and filled with the power of God. I never had known anyone who knew the Bible like she did and taught with such authority. ( I question this now, but then, to a “babe” in Christ, so hungry, like a baby bird, I hung on her every word.) Plus, she would pray for us and there was such “power” that we were just astonished!
People began to hear about what was happening, such excitement. Before long we outgrew the home Bible studies and started meeting in a church.
The Bible study group grew larger than the congregation of the church where we were meeting.
Our teacher said that God told her to start a church--- so we started meeting in a home on Sunday mornings. Over 80 people gathered together as a charismatic church. Very quickly we outgrew the home and rented a building.
When we outgrew the rented building, we were finally able to buy a building, which everyone worked together to remodel and make into our home church.
Eventually we grew to around 450 people (in a very small community) had a Bible school, a pre-school through high school academic school, plus a daycare.
We believed we were the exemplary model of a New Testament church!
About eight years after the church began, my husband of 28 years, who was opposed to my involvement with the group, divorced me to marry another woman.
We had three children, one of them a son, who was married and the other two lived with me at home. My daughter was about 22 and my other son was a young teenager.
I had never held a job outside our home, having married directly out of high school.
Life as I had known it was over.
I began to do the only thing I knew how to do, which was clean houses. The pastor hired me to clean the church and I struggled to find myself in this new life that I had been thrown into.
The thing that helped me the most at this scary, but in some ways, exhilarating time of my life, was the Lord and being a part of such a strong and supportive church family. I felt surrounded, loved and cushioned from the problems of adjustment that I faced.
The pastor began to take an interest in me and began to ask me to go with her on trips and gave me a job as secretary of the academic school. I had no former experience, was allowed to learn “on the job.”
God was truly taking care of me.
Little did I know that I was a “prime” candidate for the message that was in the charismatic/Pentecostal. Prophetic words were a part of our lives~~we believed God still speaks today and we “lived” for the “word of the Lord” to flow through people to us~~especially the “prophets” who spoke to our church on a regular basis.
Our pastor was a prophetess, everyone hung on her every word and believed she truly heard from God for her “flock.” Of course we were encouraged to “hear” for ourselves, but all revelations and directions we might receive from the Lord had to be given to her to be “judged” before acted upon.
Many time she would say, “I don’t witness to that” and that would settle it. There was a fear that if we went against her council, we were in great danger of being “out of God’s will.”
It was in this climate that I began to build my new life. It was filled with hope and destiny. God had brought one chapter of my life to fruition to begin a life that was to equip me to fulfill my “DESTINY.”
I was told through a prophetic word from the pastor that I had fulfilled my role as “mother” and God wanted to take me to the next stage of my “DESTINY.”
She said I was not to “abandon” my children, but my focus was to be what God wanted to do in my life NOW.
Not too long after this was spoken, she had a “dream” and she saw a puzzle (the puzzle was her) and there was a hole and God put a piece in that hole and it was me.
Because of that “vision”, the prophetic words and because I agreed with it, I moved into her house, leaving my young teenage son with my daughter.
Destiny was calling me~~~~~
She said that I was to be her “intercessor” and traveling companion/personal assistant. (In reality I was more like a servant, doing any and all jobs that needed to be done around the ministry. I never knew what I would be doing from day to day, which kept me in a state of vulnerability, because if I didn’t “do” something I should have “known” to do, I was chastised by a tongue lashing or by being totally ignored and dismissed.)
In later years, I did become more of an assistant/traveling companion to her, and she trusted me.
This was “heady” stuff for me---I believed I was her “Elisha” and when I had been trained, drained and perfected, I would “receive” the “double portion” of her anointing.
This is where the story gets bizarre and very difficult to write. The reason is that there are so many layers of circumstance, and some VERY weird “spiritual” factors that made up my life for the next 15 years.
My daughter has chronicled many of the things that we experienced in great detail.
She joined the church about two years after I did. She was in her early 20’s and never been exposed to any kind of spiritual training. She felt the drawing of the Lord, though, and gave her heart to Him. She did and still does love Him with all her heart.
The pastor took an immediate interest in her and made her the church administrator. My daughter experienced some troubling situations almost from the beginning, which included control and belittling, and she quit in less than a week. We all experienced an almost suffocating heaviness and anxiety, so my daughter, fearing she had stepped out of God’s will went back.
She was there about thirteen years and became the pastor’s “right hand” man, the assistant pastor, being groomed to become pastor when the pastor left to fulfill her “apostolic” call. (Of course, she could never release any authority to anyone. All people on staff had LOTS of responsibility without any authority. Everything had to go through her. Even when she was traveling out of state or out of the country, the phone and email were ALWAYS the first things that were set up or gained access to.
In about her eleventh year my daughter met a man that the pastor approved of and they got married. Thus began a war of loyalty for my daughter between the pastor and her husband. Crisis after crisis. Crazy, bizarre situations that were impossible for my daughter to deal with. She had been taught “total” obedience to pastor, now her husband saw the control and was not putting up with it. Long story short, he took my daughter and they left town and never came back.
For over seven years I did not speak to my daughter or see her. She had two miscarriages, and I did not call or send her a card. I said to the pastor, “ I would like to send L. some yellow roses to let her know that I am thinking of her” and she said, “Do it and you are “OUT OF HERE.”
I didn’t do it!
Fear is a strong motivator, the need for security and a place of ministry, proved to be even stronger than my love for my daughter.
Of course, I had been told that she was “the enemy” married to the son of “satan.” I grieved that she had “broken covenant” and was now an “infidel” to us.
The years after my daughter left were in many ways “the best of times and the worst of times.” In some ways for me, because I had proven my loyalty to her, we became more like friends and sisters at times. She confided in me all her anxiety with “spiritual warfare,” trying to “grow” the church and keep people in their “places.”
We all had a “spiritual place” that we had to occupy or she would know “by the spirit” and we would be railed upon for sometimes hours at a time or “put outside the camp” until we became cleansed and were back in our “place.”
One of the greatest fears was not being in our “place.” Of course, one could never know what that meant, only SHE could discern it. It was usually better to stay close to her, then you could monitor her moods and “spiritual” insights. When I was allowed to visit my younger son or other family members, I would always be sent out of the house to get” that spirit” off of me and get back into my place before I could be in her good graces again. I couldn’t even bring gifts that my son gave me into the house because of the “family” spirit attached to them. Many times I threw his gifts away or carried them around in the trunk of my car.
Because of that “curse,” my daughter and I had to get rid of everything from our past. Furniture, jewelry, anything and everything from my mother and life. I even threw away diamond rings because of the “warfare” that surrounded them.
When my daughter went on her honeymoon, after 3 days all hell broke loose because “she (my daughter) should have “known” by the “spirit” that she was needed at the church. When she did return, she was not spoken to and the ushers sat her in a pew with the other members, like she wasn’t even recognized. CRAZY, CRAZY stuff. All designed to manipulate people into submission.
I ran away three times in the beginning, and the last time, I thought the “heavy hand “ of God was on me so strong that I couldn’t breathe for a week. I thought I had “left” God’s perfect will and that life for me was over.
At the end of the week, after my lying on the floor and repenting and confessing my rebellion to God, she said God had opened the “place” back up, so I could come back.
This is just a thumbnail sketch of some of the things we experienced in the name of God, under the mantle of the charismatic/Pentecostal “covering.”
She was our ”apostle.” She was exalted by prophets and apostles that we were in fellowship with. She was given an honorary doctorate. So she became Dr. not just pastor/ apostle.
One prophetess told us that we were to honor her by bringing gifts to the altar, because the prophetess heard the Lord say that our pastor was going to marry.
So for a couple of weeks, people came with lavish, beautifully wrapped gifts of lingerie, perfumes, clothing and jewelry and put them on the altar.
Of course, she has never married, and still nobody wants to question the prophetic abuse that is so prevalent in the apostolic/prophetic camp.
I believe it is no better than spiritual “witchcraft” and fortunetelling.
We had prophets come and have us line up and declare our loyalty and allegiance to her. I am talking of over 400 people~~ good, honest, God believing people.
After the church imploded, many of these same leaders said they knew there was control but knew it wouldn’t do any good to confront it.
So for almost 30 years, I lived and breathed these teachings and ways.
Towards the end, I was beginning to be separated by being sent to Poland for several months at a time. etc. She seemed to know that things were shifting with me because she got very insecure and the last 3 years with her were “hell on earth.”
Things began to unravel at the church. The leadership actually started talking (something that is absolutely forbidden--”touch not mine anointed”)
And we all began to whisper, the “emperor has no clothes!”
Truth began to replace the lies, speaking our hearts began to replace the silence that protected the corruption.
A shaking began to take place that ended up removing almost all the leadership and most of the people. All that remained was the money given in good faith to build our “new, bigger and better building” for our Regional ministry. Plus, all the land and buildings owned by the church, purchased by a loyal, trusting congregation.
The people who are still there, have all that remains. They just went through the 2nd split recently and I believe there are only about 25 people left to carry out the “amazing destiny” that was prophesied over the place. But some diehards still think that if you have enough “faith” you cannot fail.
But the foundation is rotten and it is only a matter of time until it all disappears back into the earth (man) from which it was formed.

Back to where I began this history of my journey.
I am ready to walk out the door. I even had a “vision” of a door opened for me to walk through.
I read these words in a devotional the night before I was to leave:
“So go forth today in great faith, My child. There are rivers which you must cross. As you dip your foot in the waters that would hinder you from obeying my will, behold, the waters will part and you shall cross over on dry ground to safety, to new land, to new experiences.
Begin to move NOW! And you shall rejoice at the great and might victory which shall surely be thine.”
I wrote in my journal:
“Today I step through a new door. The chapter is finished, the book has been completed.
Today, a fresh page, a new beginning.
Volume two of the “Saga of the Servant of the Most High God.”
I stepped out of the door, locked it behind me. I left in a borrowed car, with only my clothes and books. No home, no family, no future (that I could see.)
But as I stepped out, it was as if I was lifted by “eagles wings” and taken forth into my new life.
I felt as if I had been “flung” into the air and the very Hand of God caught me and has never let go of me.
I have abundance in all things. My relationship with my daughter and family has been restored. My daughter opened her home and arms to me and treats me with such honor and love. God is healing us all~~ Little by little.
I have much more to write about the process of the renewing of my mind from the “religion” and much more to say about His “Amazing Grace.”
I will probably spend the rest of my years digesting and dissecting all that happened in our lives.
But for now, all I can say is ~~Thank You~~ To My Faithful God!!

Written in my journal May 15, 2004:
“Let the rejoicing begin~~
The birds are singing,
The leaves of the trees are waving,
The brooks are bubbling.
The whole earth is filled with the Glory,
Filling the atmosphere with praise.
To the Creator,
To the One who is over all~~
Oh, how I worship You,
Your majesty!!
Open my eyes to see more of You,
May my life be a mirror of Your Life.

June 16, 2004
The prison doors have been flung open~~WIDE
Run, Run to the place of refuge
Provided by the Lord.
Feel the wind in your face
The warmth of the sun on your head.
The weight of the shackles are gone
The restrictions of the freedom of my feet are released.
The most beautiful word
Jesus set us free!
I will run and not be weary
I will leap and rejoice!
Like the calves let out of their stalls
This is the hour that the Sun of Righteousness arises
With healing in his wings
Because I fear His name~~~


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Helpful facts about cults

Cults are full of the weak, weird and emotionally unstable.

Not true. Many cult members are very intelligent, attractive and skilled. The reality is that all sorts of people are involved in cults. One of the few common denominators is that they were often recruited at a low point in their life — more about that later.

Regarding "love bombing."

Beware of "instant friends." Remember true friendships develop over time.

These facts are taken from "How Cults Work." To read the entire article, follow this

Sin and shame part 2: The solution

In an earlier post, I discussed the fact that it’s our shame and not sin that causes a separation between us and God. To get the background, you might want to read that post before reading this one. The comments were really good so I think it would be helpful to read them as well.

Although there had been a barrier, God in his love and mercy, has provided a solution and that solution is the cross. Jesus bore our sins on the cross but more importantly . . . he bore our shame. Shame and sin were nailed to the cross so there’s no longer any separation between God and us. Now, we can enjoy unbroken fellowship with him.

Since I’ve grown in the security of God’s love, I no longer spend a lot of time worrying about sin. To be honest, I rarely think about it. This actually concerned me more than the actual sin itself. However, I’ve since come to understand that an over concern with sin is a shame based behavior that Jesus dealt with on the cross. Because shame has been removed, sin should no longer be the focus of our attention. Now that I’m free, my attention can be focused on God and his love.

When I blow it, I don’t have to run from him in shame. Instead, I can go to him confident that I’m loved and accepted. Love (God) is patient. He understands our humanness and that at times, we may even be stubborn and want our own way. Yet, he still loves us.

As I’m learning to live more deeply in his love, God’s healing those broken places in my life that have caused me to sin. Now, I can stop beating myself over the head when I miss it. Instead . . . I can accept my humanness and live free from shame knowing that I’m fully loved and accepted by God.

Sin and shame part 1: Why are you hiding?

For years, I believed that sin caused a separation between God and me. I was taught that God is righteous and holy and can’t bear to look on sin so when I sin, he turns away from me. In order to be restored to a right relationship with him, I had to repent and ask for his forgiveness. Then, I could live in his forgiveness until the next time I sinned and then the process began again.

Recently, my understanding of this has changed. In the garden, after Adam and Eve had sinned by eating the fruit God had told them not to eat, he didn’t turn away from them. Instead, he came looking for them as he had always done. However, now instead of greeting him, they hid from him. When they didn’t immediately come to him, he called out to them and they finally responded. They told him that they had hidden because they were naked. Shame because of their naked condition had caused them to hide from God.

This story and many others show us that God never turns away from us even when we sin. However, because of shame, we turn away from him. So, it’s obvious that shame, not sin is what causes this separation.

In the story of the loving father and his prodigal son, the father saw his son coming home when he was a long way off. He didn’t wait for his son to come to him and ask his forgiveness. Instead, before the boy could say a word, he ran to him, hugged him and kissed him. He immediately restored him fully as a son with all of the rights and privileges of a son because, in his eyes, there had never been a separation. The separation only existed in his son’s heart.

Jesus also told a story about a shepherd who left his 99 sheep to look for one lost sheep. He didn't wait for the sheep to come to him with its head hanging down in shame. Instead, he went looking for it until he found it. Then, he joyfully put it on his shoulders and carried it home.

Religion has taught us that because of his holiness, fellowship with God is broken until we've repented. This tradition has caused a lot of insecurity and fear because we're never quite sure if we've offended him. We've been told that we're out from under his umbrella of protection until we repent. So, if we don't quickly repent, all sorts of terrible things can happen to us and our family.

This picture of an easily offended God is in my opinion despicable. The description of love given by the apostle Paul says that love is not easily angered and it keeps no record of wrongs. In other words, love is not easily offended. Since God is love, then it stands to reason that he's not easily offended either.

Mind Control

I found this article posted on Cultwatch describing the mind control that is used by abusive groups. My desire is to see people free from the ravages of spiritual abuse and I believe this article will inform and perhaps lead some to take steps towards their freedom.

To read the article, follow this link.