A brother to one who destroys

Proverbs 18:9 (NIV) One who is slack in his work is a brother to one who destroys.

So in other words: lazy people don’t necessarily destroy outright, they are just intimately related to those who DO destroy…this concept is also displayed in the idiom ‘idle hands are the devil’s workshop’.

I haven’t had much time to ponder and write as December and January are busy times for my line of work (that is– my outside-the-home work, which is in addition to home and yard; family and community ‘work’). This year circumstances beyond my control have made this season ‘at work’ even busier for me.

However, because I’ve been working more than usual, I have had lots of time to observe the work habits, and sometimes the lack thereof, of others around me. As well as how one worker’s laziness then creates a damaging and reverberating effect on the surroundings – both coworker and client or customer deeply feeling and having to deal with the consequences of these effects.

So I thought I’d take a few minutes before heading into the office, to flesh out some thoughts I’ve been having about all of that.

To be fair: I have also noticed my own gut and heart revolting and straining over the tedium that is part and parcel of my job duties. I feel myself struggling to recover from what, in all honesty, I need to just call what it actually is: Laziness. There are any number of tasks that I just ‘do myself’ at work rather than watch a coworker half-heartedly complete them or complete them sub-standard to what I wanted. These are often tasks that I find myself groaning inwardly about doing myself. My lazy heart not wanting to do them anymore than anyone else wanted to, but the realization that part of my duties as a Christian is to take joy in these things, regardless, is often what spurs me onward. And so I put that lazy part of me ‘to death’ for another day. Lazy-me will undoubtedly resurrect sooner or later, though, so don’t go thinking I’m all that. (I’m not).

When I was in therapy for diagnosed PTSD and anxiety disorder, I eagerly went down the blame-it-all-on-workaholism-and-perfectionism-trail of ‘you worked way too much for too long, you set way too high of expectations, and that’s how you ended up needing therapy for stress and anxiety.’

That ‘workaholic’ trail is wide and well traveled. Followed closely by the ‘perfectionism’ trail, which seems equally wide and well traveled. Many self-help (Christian and other) books have been published to get us to recover from things like perfectionism, workaholism, and stress. One therapist, and one minister I visited with, introduced themselves to me as ‘recovering perfectionists.’

Many of those ‘Christian’ books and programs I bought, or bought into, included things that were way too close to contemplative prayer, eastern breathing practices, meditation, and yoga for me to actually FIND relaxing and restful. (And if you’ve been reading this blog prior then you pretty much know that I had to throw that detail in. Otherwise — there’s an X in the upper right corner if you believe such things are compatible with Biblical Christianity–as I do not.)

Now that I’m several years out of the therapy processes that were helpful in some ways (particularly in recovery from sexual abuse)–but which I then found that I had to process back out of again as I didn’t like what certain aspects had done to my belief system– I see several points where I was led astray, and other points which raised a whole lot of questions for which I do not have any clear answers.

For instance: do sloth like, gluttonous, lazy folks really need to recover from working too much? Do they really need to be told over and over again that ‘God wants us to rest.’ Clearly: taking a day a week off is one entire commandment, of a mere ten. What about the other six days though? If we truly had found ‘balance’, then shouldn’t there be just as many self-help books being written about how to be diligent, self-denying, hard workers who overcome our sinful lazy natures and do not cheat our earthly bosses (or God) out of the time we owe them or Him?

When I read the letters to the churches in Revelation for a fresh time, my experience in organized Americanized churches and ministries– usually has me seeing American Christians as being exceedingly: ‘laodicean’. We sure seem ineffectual, lacking passion, lukewarm…and, well, lazy. Lovers of pleasure, not sacrifice. Believers in wealth and self-esteem and learning to let God love us better; not prostrate on our knees with broken and contrite hearts before God confessing how poor we actually are in the midst of all our filthy mammon (a broken and contrite heart IS the sacrifice He desires).

I glanced longingly at my office bookshelf the other day — realizing it would be a while until I got to a point at work where I could settle into some winter ‘free time’ to read–and as I ran my eyes over the book spines, I noticed how many titles there were about ‘rest’ and ‘relaxing’. And how few books I had about ‘doing things’. Save for some business, marketing, gardening and homesteading how to books (some of which are all about being lazy, LOL, and others which seem to have ulterior motives of saving and remaking the world by our own merits).

All of which convicted me further. I have entire bookshelves of waste that only feeds into my own laziness and desire for money and means I didn’t earn honestly.

I think a great deal of why the world, and the church, seems to be harvesting the fruit of our sins — can be summed up by Paul’s words to Timothy: For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. (2 Timothy 3:2 NLT)

Many Christians I talk with have been trying to find their purpose or figure out their calling. Indeed: seeking our purpose and finding our calling seem to slip right by these words in 2 Timothy. As it seems like we want to turn our lives over to God, like we are being self-denying and God seeking; not materialistic lovers of self and mammon. But reading today’s (January 14th) Oswald Chamber’s daily devotion gave me pause. To quote Chambers:

God doesn’t single out someone and say, “Now, you go.” He did not force His will on Isaiah. Isaiah was in the presence of God, and he overheard the call. His response, performed in complete freedom, could only be to say, “Here am I! Send me.”

Remove the thought from your mind of expecting God to come to force you or to plead with you. When our Lord called His disciples, He did it without irresistible pressure from the outside. The quiet, yet passionate, insistence of His “Follow Me” was spoken to men whose every sense was receptive (Matthew 4:19). If we will allow the Holy Spirit to bring us face to face with God, we too will hear what Isaiah heard— “the voice of the Lord.” In perfect freedom we too will say, “Here am I! Send me.”

What if our ‘sending’ is more like quietly sticking with a job or the task at hand and going through the tedium of service wherein God opens doors constantly for us to ‘share the reason for our joy.’ A work and calling that mostly goes unnoticed by the ministry organizations of today, work which seems to have little effect, but nevertheless which pleases the Lord and makes great contribution to those around us.

When we think of ministry or a calling of God, do we immediately think of the person washing the dinner dishes, or the public toilets at a small business with a gospel song and a word of encouragement or Godly correction always ready on their lips. As for me, too often when I heard the word ‘ministry’ or ‘work of God’ I would think of the writers and speakers and front of the room people leading the sheep. But is that type of thing the best way to tend to the sheep? Or does it reinforce the idea that the chosen ones are those who have the ‘obvious’ ministries and the rest of us just haven’t surrendered yet or we’d be there too, on those platforms or working in some ‘actual’ ministry role — (playing on the construct that Jesus set forth when He said many are called but few are chosen).

What if the chosen prove to be the believers who listened to a call which has them in some wilderness places, away from the spotlights and platforms, fighting back against laziness and selfishness by their very witness and life examples, and knowing that in so doing they are being a brother and sister to those who sanctify and preserve what is left. Rather than being a brother to those who destroy.

Could responding to a call from God be as simple as: stop being lazy?

God’s Healthcare And God’s Economy

A family member asked me why I am so wary of the vaccine. He didn’t understand how God could allow something like that to fool so many innocent people (if it’s truly a ‘bad’ thing as I am sensing it could be). I’ve had lots of premonitions now and just a ‘general fear’ regarding it — to the point where I don’t plan to take it myself; even, and especially, if it is forced.

My immediate thought, after being challenged by a family member, was that the God we tend to fashion in our own minds is often a bit different than the God revealed in Holy Scriptures. I’m guilty of making God into what I want Him to be instead of trusting who He really is, and so that was not a judgment of this family member. It’s a warning to myself as much as to anyone else. The real God, revealed in Scriptures, did take great care to warn us ahead of time about what would happen in the time between Jesus ascension and His second coming. And many of these things ARE very hard things to accept; but I think that is exactly why we were warned ahead of time.

Matthew 24: 24- 25 (NLT) For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.

If you aren’t already familiar with all of Matthew 24, I encourage you to refresh your memory and read it for context of the above verse. It parallels with Luke 21 and Mark 13. Here is a handy reference of the major parallels.

Being questioned by this family member started me pondering. I was then able to give voice to some of my reasonings behind the reasonings…things I don’t always share as they are slowly developed in my head by evidence gathered as I live my life and sift out whatever seems evil. And so I tend to think that these evil things I spot in the world must be obviously evil to others as well.

If you aren’t familiar with my background – I am a clergy sexual abuse survivor. Multiple layers of abuse had to be undone in my life for me to heal. I don’t think it is even possible to be sexually abused by anyone in any manner without some sort of brainwashing and emotional abuse coinciding with it, and, in the case of ongoing familial abuse (which mine was) a very, very deep level of brainwashing and grooming tends to occur as well. And in terms of clergy abuse–there was also a great deal of spiritual abuse and spiritual brainwashing.

I have written, fairly extensively, about the process of coming out of all of that brainwashing. The benefits now being that I have the vantage point of someone who has been trapped by evil, and lived to tell about disentangling myself from that evil trap.

And so I will share a bit, here, about what I’ve been seeing that is ‘off’ within the modern healthcare complex.

There were attempts at brainwashing by doctors, nurses, and other proponents of ‘health’. Were it not for my own natural defensiveness that was born in a childhood where people, especially those seeming to show favor to me or wanting to ‘help’ me, really were out to get me and harm me, I probably wouldn’t have picked up on these things. I learned to keep my guard up in order to survive. I once paid several therapists to try and undo all that guard keeping I come by naturally. Thankfully that didn’t fully work.

I see my past, and the discernment skills it honed in me, as a gift of God. All of which adds yet another layer, as to why it wasn’t that big of a stretch for me to see that something evil could definitely come out of an industry that seems to be so helpful and humanitarian. The clergy in my family who abused me was also quite helpful and humanitarian to many; beloved even.

However, not everyone shares my way of processing things, or my past experiences with evil– and so I can see how all of this might be a big stretch for others — which, well, also could just be part of the delusion.

And so I started to explain all the spirit checks I’ve had, myself, to this family member– as I have navigated the modern healthcare complex over a lifetime which included some fairly severe injury as well as recent mystery illnesses which eventually just got chalked up to PTSD. I’ve spent more time in hospitals and navigating the modern healthcare complex, as well as alternative things like diet and various lifestyle changes, than many people my age.

Time and again: very kind, wise, loving, friendly doctors and therapists (some who have even given me permission to call them at home!) have damaged me in their efforts to heal. I’m still thankful they were there, especially in times of real emergency! And, in terms of what the experience, and the failure of some tests too on my part, then revealed about my faith, specifically where I needed to change things, it all proved to have value (Romans 8! God works ALL things for the good of those who love Him! GOD IS GOOD!!).

And so: let it be known that I wouldn’t even be here without modern health care. I remain thankful for that too. But, I would also not be honest if I didn’t admit that there was also damage done too, and more than a few disasters to my walk with God which were barely averted.

Healthcare professionals routinely tried to steer me toward things that could altar my mind — like anxiety and depression meds and other strong medicine I was literally too afraid to take (fear is not all bad, it can be a gift–especially the Holy Fear of God!), or urging me to do yoga and meditation, or suggesting other practices that are full of the new age– certain massage techniques like reiki, and acupuncture, and Chinese medicine beliefs. Chiropractic care, and especially naturopathic and holistic medicine/practitioners, even navigating the aisles of natural health food stores— I found to be a quagmire of eastern and mystical religions, calling out to me like sirens with their lusty promises of cures–some of which I regrettably tried and then repented of, and all of which routinely gave me great pause and many many spirit checks as a Biblical Christian.

The way I see it: there has been next to zero Christian discernment in the modern healthcare complex and even less, it seems, in the rising naturopathic/holistic fields. And many Christians I know will listen to their doctors, or alternative care providers, and follow their directives and readily take all the prescriptions and practices (occult or other) they offer, without really questioning them or researching what the pharmaceutical or supplement or herb is really going to do, from a scriptural context. One Christian friend defended the Medical Medium (the name alone ought to be obvious), claiming he was a Christian– and even if he was not — he’s ‘just recommending people eat more vegetables, what’s the harm in that?’ Another family member told me he had ‘needling’ done, and it worked, after everything else had failed. I was aware that acupuncture had recently been whitewashed over and renamed as needling instead. So I was well aware of it’s eastern religious roots.

But when I said to this family member: needling is an eastern religious practice. How did you reconcile having that done; as a Christian? He blurted back in dismissal, “It didn’t change my faith one bit, it just stopped my pain.”

Hmm. I would argue that such a compromise of one’s faith in God could reveal what one is really putting his faith into. These revelations, if they are recognized, allow us time to repent before we are sealed in the delusion of such sins. But if we aren’t even listening and turning, when others are revealing these things plainly: what happens to us? Does the delusion we are under only intensify and risk our very foundation of faith?

A parallel can be drawn here. Between the blind faith we tend to put in the modern healthcare complex above and beyond our faith to God, and the way we go about church. Specifically how many of us Christians blindly follow and put faith in a minister or church leadership, above and beyond our faith in God Himself. Without really questioning methods or teachings or verifying the practices we are engaging in– being like the Bereans in all things and testing the spirits as 1 John 4 urges.

One could argue (and many already have) that the advent of the Birth Control pill, with it’s abortifacient qualities, all of which came through the modern healthcare and pharmaceutical complex–just as this vaccine is now coming, was enough to bring down judgment upon the entire healthcare/pharmaceutical complex which birthed it and the people who partook of it.

I will briefly mention pharmakeia and then I will quit talking about the modern healthcare complex. Pharmakeia could be its own very deep dive. The pharmaceutical complex, the ‘alternative’ medicines, with all its corruption and mind altering medicines and practices, seems to fit well into the warning in Revelation 18:23, about God’s people refusing to give up their sorceries/witchcraft, which is translated from the greek word: pharmakeia and which is where we get the modern word pharmacy. (See Revelation 18 for context.)

Many other things coming out of the modern healthcare complex (it’s penchant for eastern practices and acceptance of shamanistic techniques is a lot like ‘sorcery’ to me), as well as the naturopathic world (more ‘sorcery’, the way I see it: muscle testing, reiki, acupuncture, mind altering herbs, teas, mushrooms, etc.) do seem to fit into Pharmakeia; as well. It really does seem to me that much of what we now turn to for help with our health is more and more resembling of witchdoctors; than anything godly.

But does anyone care about the Christian purity of healthcare? Catholics are being urged to take the vaccine in an act of charity and good will; being absolved of any guilt for aborted fetal tissue by the Vatican itself. It’s hard to stand against such things, and against the acceptance of standard health care practices. To speak against doctors and nurses can be as difficult to do as to speak against members of the clergy.

“It didn’t change my faith. It just took away my pain.”

Sometimes God has reasons for us to be stuck in pain. Pain might be the clearest indication that we are still alive in Christ.

Then again, what about the pain endured by the clergy abuse survivor, or the medical malpractice victim–where do they get help and support, in a world that doesn’t want to hear anything bad about our designated experts and heroes?

And now I will briefly mention the other half of the title of this post.

A colleague, who seems atheistic on bad days and agnostic when he’s in a good mood, has a favorite expression:

Follow the money trail. There you will find the corruption.

If you get nothing else from this post, I hope you take away this very simple lesson in Discernment!!

If you want to test something, whether it’s a ministry or a vaccine: I suggest you do as my unbelieving friend suggests.

Follow the money trail!

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:10.

God’s economy is very different from this world’s economy. Read ALL of 1 Timothy 6 to see a clear example of God’s economic principles.

Sobering.

In God’s economy He bears ALL the cost Himself! In God’s economy, followers of Jesus love others and treat them well, for they know that ‘those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction‘ (1 Timothy 6:9). God’s ministers and evangelists readily bear the cost themselves, and trust that God will provide for them to do so.

A great ‘working’ ‘real life’ example of God’s economy is exemplified very well in something I have witnessed my husband do, at our business, countless times over the years.

It started decades ago with a young man in our community who had fallen into drug use. He gave him a job, trained him how to work, and the young man eventually got clean. To this day that man credits my husband for teaching him ‘the right way to sweep a cement floor’ and many other things too.

Since then I have seen my husband annually and routinely take in, and take on, about one-three, sometimes more, very green employees, some quite young, some almost too old to help anymore, some with few skills and others who come with a lot of baggage. He puts them on the payroll, buys them a pair of work gloves and a pliers, and he sets out, while paying THEM, to teach them skills which they did not have prior. Skills which, once acquired and honed, they often then take and use somewhere else entirely, already well trained under our payroll and experience. Where another then reaps the rewards of an experienced and well trained employee.

His example inspires me constantly to do better at training up others myself. This past year I had some painting projects to complete. I could have hired professionals; but I wanted to do it myself. And it may have been easier in some ways had I just done every bit of it myself. But circumstances kept opening up and I was able to hire four separate amateurs. Some far more green than others. As the months passed and the year comes to a close, I can look back and count up four people, who improved their painting skills as I paid them to help me.

Each one was eager for a chance to make a bit extra cash and several were eager to learn something they had never done prior; as well. And so I found myself showing others the art of cutting a clean line with a paintbrush, next to a ceiling or a baseboard. Someone else had trained me in how to paint like a true professional years prior. I trained others this year; and I paid them as I trained them too. And yes, as much as I could, the conversation while painting walls often steered to my witness of Jesus 🙂

I do not share this to brag about my husband or myself; although I am incredibly proud and thankful for the man God gave me!

I share this to contrast that basic economic and discipleship example with what we see elsewhere in the world; and even now in the church.

The Christian example, and the righteous, godly example: is to BEAR THE COST of discipleship. To actually PAY the mentee while they are still learning the skill. And then turn them loose to benefit OTHERS.

What does it mean when churches and ministries try to hold onto people ‘for life’, when they willingly take money from green people in the name of teaching them discipleship?

What does it mean when the world readily passes the cost of education and vocational training and discipleship processes onto the very people MOST in need of it, people who often cannot even afford it and who have gotten no real training on the homefront?

What does it mean when pharmaceutical companies develop something they then market to save the masses, and instead of patiently testing to see what it might bear out, instead of bearing the cost of any repercussions themselves, they pass all that potential cost onto the very people in need? Knowing that we’re all now so programmed (brainwashed?) to accept that kind of thing as normal — that we will receive the things we bear the cost for, with as much thanks as we might receive God’s FREE gift of eternal value; which came at great cost to HIM?

Passing the greatest economic COST onto those most in need has now just become the accepted economic practices of the world and, sadly, of a lot of the church.

Furthermore, I wonder how many Christians even think to use very basic discernment–follow the money trail–which should lead to the questioning of why the poor and the un-qualified are bearing so much of the cost for the rich, when God would have it be the exact opposite!

I know it’s bad writing form to answer rhetorical questions I just asked in paragraphs above — but I think it all could mean many things. Some are not so pretty: seems much of the professing church is now given over to evil and some kind of strong delusion. And I don’t know for certain but I shudder because it looks this vaccine MIGHT be very, very costly, and very very damaging.

But God’s healthcare and God’s economy will be what rules forever and ever. These other forms are, even as I write this, already passing away. Praise Jesus, creator and King of the universe, for that!!

Maranatha!!

If the trumpet gives a muffled sound, who will prepare for battle?

I was once an avid reader of the Lighthouse Trails blog. Particularly after a friend or family member heartily recommended (or gifted) the latest popular Christian book or movement or minister’s podcast. Which inevitably gave me (yet another) spirit check.

Thankfully, while carefully researching whatever friend or family member had encouraged me to jump blindly into, the Lighthouse Trails writers had almost always already sounded a clear alarm regarding said podcast, book, movement, author, or ministry. And the concerns they raised usually lined up (for the most part) with my own discernment. I found the mere presence of such a resource to be comforting. I felt ‘less lonely’ and ‘less crazy’. Seeing other discerning believers was helpful. It fortified me to resist the pressure to conform and compromise.

Granted, there’d be a few niggling things here and there with which I didn’t fully agree with the Lighthouse Trails writers. Some of that was likely me and my own issues though. Overall–the LT blog was a welcoming place of refuge for me. WAS being the key word there.

The latest guest post on the Lighthouse Trails Blog is shocking for its loudly muffled noise.

The sheer blindness to simple truth, which is on display in this post has me re-considering how much I still want to trust any of what Lighthouse Trails has to share. It seems their affinity for Trump has been costly to their ability to give a clear warning cry. And sadly this is the case with more and more ministries I once followed for encouragement and information.

I feel like an eaglet whose soft padded nest has worn through to the barbed thorns beneath it — time to fly away, as so many of the places I once went to for refuge are now thorny places of danger.

In case you don’t want to read the full article, here are the paraphrased highlights: Trump is responsible for developing the Covid Vaccine! BUT Pfizer hid the completion of their vaccine from the public until November 9th–when it was too late to impact the election in Trump’s favor. When the vaccine was ready for distribution, Pfizer alerted Biden first, not Trump, which was also wrong of them. This article is not the only one giving Trump credit for the vaccine. Even as they claim voter fraud cost Trump the election (voter fraud was also mentioned in the linked LT article) and even as those who voted for Trump are inevitably also the demographic which is the most vaccine hesitant — those same Trumpers still want to make sure he gets credit for making it? I find that so confusing. Muffled Trumpets indeed.

And, even though the vaccine is GOOD– the pandemic itself is actually totally overblown (YET they say YAY to Trump for making a vaccine at warp speed!!??).

If all that muffled noise made sense to you — you might want to stop reading here. We are clearly going to disagree.

Simple logic tells me that IF the pandemic and its associated risks is/are overblown, then that would make the one person (TRUMP) now taking the most public responsibility for a very rushed vaccine: downright EVIL. It simply can’t be both a false pandemic AND a vaccine to end the ‘false’ pandemic also being a major accomplishment. Because if the pandemic is overblown then there is no need for a vaccine. Let alone one that was rushed and has many Christians and others hesitant and outright questioning its safety. No? Does your logic agree or disagree with mine on this?

The linked article above also states that Chemical abortion is on the rise. As is transgender agendas in schools. This after four years of Trump in office–because, well, of course: liberal leftists are to blame for that.

And that Middle East peace deal. What an achievement for Trump!

When I first began to study the end times, Obama was in office and writers and websites and prophesy watchers all told me to watch the Middle East and watch for a peace deal to be brokered as after a peace treaty between Israel and the Arabs is signed, that is when everything would ‘begin’ in earnest. As it will be the antichrist who will ‘confirm a covenant with many’ (Daniel 9:27). Furthermore: when people declare peace and safety–that is when sudden destruction will come on them (1 Thessalonians 5:3)

Had a ‘leftist’ like Obama or Biden been behind the Abraham Accord signed Sept. 15, 2020–would it be seen as a major accomplishment by this same author? Or does biblical discernment change based on which political party is brokering a historic Middle East peace deal?

I won’t even get into the pre-tribulation rapture peeps like JD Faraq, someone else I used to follow avidly and took much comfort from. The vaccine is also bad news to most of them (but Trump, who is behind the vaccine, is still considered a ‘good guy’ to a lot of Pre-Trib peeps)… but yet, JD Faraq insists that a vaccine can’t be the mark of the beast… as we have no beast…YET.

Trump’s big peace treaty was commemorated by a coin with his signature on it. Indeed, Trump likes to take credit for many things, like the pouring out of millions of warp speeded vials (a coincidence which reminds THIS AUTHOR–ME–entirely too much of Revelation’s bowls being poured out…) into humans…yes, Trump really likes to stamp his name (image?) wherever he can…including on a coin which has Saturn and Jupiter aligning on it and quotes the Koran as well as Jeremiah 14:13–‘I will give you lasting peace in this place’

Jeremiah 14:13, in context, is anything but declaring peace. It’s actually quoting the words of false prophets–conclusions made through divinations, idolatry, and delusions of the mind.

Jeremiah 14:13-14

But I said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! The prophets keep telling them, ‘You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.’”

Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations,idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.”

I quoted The Berean Study Bible version of 1 Corinthians 14:8 in the title of this post. That was intentional. Because communicating through masks results in a muffled sound. And there is more than one way to wear a mask, or a veil as the Bible calls it. But for those who are aware of what an unmasked person looks like and sounds like, in this age of masking up, double mindedness and massive deception, it isn’t that hard to know who can be trusted and who it is best to avoid.

The way I see it: any Christian endorsing any political candidate right now is suspect and double minded.

Full disclosure of my own beliefs: I am NOT political, and haven’t voted for a presidential candidate since 2008. I have no idea when the rapture will occur–I hope it’s ASAP, though. But I’m not counting on a rapture, just trusting in Jesus’ plan whatever it looks like. I think we could actually be in the midst of the tribulation, and I do believe the rapture will happen sometime before the wrath of God fully destroys the world.

I do also suspect the pandemic is overblown and is being used to bring in a new world order and I find the masked people everywhere unsettling and a sign of the times–times of massive, massive deception and double minded posturing, people hiding their real intentions behind ‘veils’, and so therefore I think the vaccine could be (time will tell) the mark of the beast, or at the very least it could be the vials/bowls/cup being poured out in revelation destroying many — or perhaps even both. I don’t know for sure. I see how it might be,though.

Time will tell these things. Wisdom is proven by her children/actions. In the meantime, I do not trust anyone holding a high level of political office in the world, right now. I don’t know what to think of the millennium but IF there isn’t a literal millennium, then it sure seems as if the devil has been let off his chain to deceive the nations…but I don’t know.

I also am not even sure that I should be sharing what I really believe and think about all of this, anywhere, as it also seems like the time to ‘sound trumpets’ may now be at a close. If people didn’t love God enough to hear the warning blasts, which I and others have been hearing for years — chances are they won’t hear my trumpet blast either. Therefore me trumpeting out what I see as the truth might only serve to get me in all sorts of trouble that I don’t exactly need. Nevertheless, I will share this bare faced and as open as I can be to the few people who might share my frame of heart and mind and might find it and receive some encouragement or exhortation if needed:

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Jesus told us several important things- which stick out to me-in Matthew 24 – do not be alarmed and do not be deceived. AND: many will turn away from the faith. But the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

All of my former soft comforting nests seem to be disappearing now and so I pray that I can keep clinging to the firm rock of Jesus.

Maranatha!

Yoga by any other name is still Yoga

There is a theme in my recent posts. The theme might be summed up as my recent return to embracing my childhood work ethic, after years of chronic illness left me unable to be as active as I would have liked to be. I was stuck in a state of exhaustion and pain which also had me questioning my former life of hard work as well.

My childhood on the farm was one in which lifting hay bales was known to be a better way to build muscles than lifting weights. Then I saw the rise of popular workout regimes (which I won’t name here) where you do things like pound tires with sledgehammers. And this is not done in order to remove the rubber from it’s metal rim to fix a flat, either. People are paying membership fees in order to pound giant tires just to pound them… as exercise… and then posting their sweaty pounding sessions on instagram.

The pride filled, ‘I wanna look like that in a bikini too’, part of me wants to try it with my own tire and hammer…while the former farm girl in me scratches her head and thankfully I am usually able to bring myself out of the temptation.

Working harder with my hands, at some task or other, (even if it’s just running a vacuum across my floors) has been something I feel called to start doing again with increasing vigor and intention. Just to be more active in general and use my time more wisely, not necessarily to look better in a swimsuit.

At the same time: spirit checks and a general mistrust of a lifestyle that is too focused on ‘self-improvement’ continues to keep me from trying the latest workout fad.

A Christian friend who, pre Covid, liked to take long walks with other Christian friends–outdoors in good weather and shopping malls in cold weather–for health reasons; physically, mentally, and spiritually–shared my reservations about getting into the ‘work out life.’ She had similar spirit checks about getting too involved with self-improvement efforts. She understood all I was feeling about it and even shared some of her more alarming experiences when she had tried joining some workout groups of other women in gyms and yoga studios too. Yikes.

But I hesitate to even bring up these feelings with most, as exercise and physical health seem to be generally accepted almost as acts of godliness that aren’t to be questioned.

When I got sick with PTSD and anxiety disorder (and then discovered I had toxicity issues from supplemented foods, environmental exposures, and so-called healthy foods I was eating)–I was told many different things would heal me. The exercise fans told me I just needed to push and exercise my way right through all the pain and then I’d be fine. The therapy fans told me weekly therapy and only mild to moderate exercise, was needed, so I didn’t up my stress levels and could figure out where my thinking was messed up, as physical and mental stress is what had conked out my body.

The standard doctors wanted to give me antidepressants to fix it all. Most of the natural doctors and nutritionists wanted me to take supplements (one even said that certain supplements boosted serotonin and were like natural prozac). The advice ran in all directions. Yet there was a common thread with every therapist and doctor I consulted, from the naturopaths to the conventional ones. From the new age and the buddhist to the Christians. I heard the same advice over and over everywhere I went for help. I braced myself to hear it, as it was so common:

Have you tried Yoga? Are you meditating? It’s been proven to work!

Being a contrarian by nature: I naturally made it my goal to recover without doing yoga and meditation. My avoidance of those methods was more than general contrarianism, though. I was well aware, prior to getting sick, that Yoga prepared the body for death, not life. That it even might open doors to the occult. Same with meditation. That my heart can’t be fully for God while doing a downward facing dog. That if I blank out my mind, anything could enter it. That it is impossible to separate the religious element of Yoga into simple ‘exercise’, and that the devil likes to convince us, by appealing to our pride usually, that his ways are actually beneficial, healthful and restorative; not deadly. Usually sin and evil hooks us by seeming to help us tremendously; only to ultimately lead to death and a numbing of conscience to where we accept worsening sin and evil; in the long run.

And so now that I am being more active, I am looking around at other active people and paying attention to what has happened in the ‘gym scene’ too.

It looks like the swinging hammers at tires phase may be dying out. But, Yoga is really everywhere, now. Except it’s morphed into something else and isn’t being called Yoga. It’s so 2010 to still call it yoga… It’s yoga with prefixes like restorative or hot now, or else it’s just stretching and breath work and preparation for real exercise. In other fitness circles, they proudly boast their method is a blend of yoga (Hindu) and taoism.

Not like it matters, though. Even if yoga was always still being called yoga, most Christians I know would not have a problem doing it to try and keep or restore their health. Just as they haven’t for nearly a decade now.

In general, what’s happened in the exercise world since I last looked into it, seems to be about what has happened in the church and the world, too. The deception has morphed into something so puffed up that if one wasn’t aware of the dangers such things held as seeds; one isn’t going to now recognize the fullness of its rotten fruit, either.

Meanwhile: I am thinking this is just more proof of the lateness of the hour. And that I might have to find a hayloft and an old school farmer who needs it organized. That may be about the only safe thing left for my hands to do right now.

Do Christians need a wake up call from other Christians?

Jesus said, ‘For wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.’ (Luke 12:34 NLT).

I’ll return to that concept.

But first: I liked a lot of what this article had to say. However, based on the ‘no politically-bent comments will be posted’ disclaimer at the beginning, I excitedly presumed I was going to be reading something soundly spiritual. A wake up call for the church to come out of the worldly realm of politics, not a call to choose the less corrupt side of Joe Biden (in the author’s opinion). That is what I didn’t like about it. Oh, I am wary and alarmed of all the ‘Christian Trumpers’, too. As I’ve written before, I simply realize I don’t have to pick a monkey in the world’s circus.

The article gave me pause in another way as well. I began pondering the idea of Christians giving other Christians ‘a wake up call’. This caused a lot of self-examination on my part. As, of course Christians need to give one another a wake up call is usually my thinking. Recently I’ve been questioning my thinking though.

I’ll return to all that as well. First, I’d like to address the political bent in that linked ‘wake up call to the church’ article. Wouldn’t BOTH Biden and Trump; who represent the ultimate manifestation of ’empire’– be like Satan tempting Jesus with a shortcut to all that He eventually had coming anyway?

Empire being in direct contrast to the throne of the lamb (Jesus). Therefore, following the Lamb OUT of Worldly Empire is the ultimate wake-up call which God gave in Revelation (and much of the Bible, the way I see it). By the way: I learned the ‘Empire versus following the Lamb’ concept from the book ‘Reading Revelation Responsibly’ by Matthew J. Gorman. (This is NOT an endorsement of that book. I took some things from it, but found other things troubling–like his quoting of Eugene Peterson.)

Had the title of the linked article been something like, “Why I am voting for Biden; as a Christian” I likely wouldn’t have read it. Not because I am for Trump, either, as stated above and elsewhere on my blog. But because the Lord called me out of my former political involvements, as I’ve also stated several times here. That is why I don’t spend much time reading why Christians vote the way they do. I find it distracting and fear it also might prove tempting. 

The wake-up call went off, for me, after the stock market crash in 2008 and the resulting behaviors of the politicians of the ‘Christian Right’ in bailing out the banks. That event, along with the Lord putting several Christian ‘end timers’ into my path, sparked me to study eschatology. As well as to actively work to get out of debt, and to try and change some other things I’d accepted as ‘normal’.

I couldn’t in good conscience vote for any option for President since waking up and then seeing the unfolding of more (and more) wake up alarms in the world, America, and in American politics too. The hour seems too late for me to risk further involvement in politics and I shudder at how involved with the worldly empire I still remain. Or, as the above linked article called it, accepting ‘Satan’s shortcut’.

Thanks to what began unfolding for me in 2008, I better realize the dangers of colluding with worldly empire. Particularly in order to try and gain what I will eventually have coming anyway (if I can restrain myself from involvement in these sort of ‘bull fights’ and stay content at the Throne of Jesus).

The way I see it (and I could be wrong, these are just my opinions): God has already given wake up calls to the church. The calls were/are often being ignored…I ignored plenty of wake up calls myself in the past! I get it. My heart’s desire was not entirely sold out for God. I pray it is more sold out now than prior. I was a living reflection of Jesus’ words about ‘wherever your treasure is, there will also be the desires of your heart.’

For most of my life I preferred to stay in bed with the world, hitting the snooze button; lulled by the words my adulterous lover was whispering to me which made me not even notice the annoying sound of alarms going off every few minutes.

And now, over a decade later since my big wake up call moment in 2008– our world is even closer to global ‘oneness and unity’ through one world religion and government. The NAR (New apostolic reformation–Paula White, etc. — Trump’s inner circle religious posse) and the RCC (Biden’s religious posse) are like two sides of the same coin, seeming to be different and somehow antagonistic from one another. Yet ultimately I fear everyone will end up in the same spiritual condition by following either side: little gods who bow down to one another, trying to be as God and re-build a unifying worldwide ‘tower of babel’, which is like thumbing one’s nose at the real God. 

Thesis + antithesis = synthesis. Things can often seem so different between the thesis and the antithesis, that it’s tempting to think there isn’t actually going to be some ultimate synthesis waiting in the wings by going along with one of the two choices we seem to be given. There’s Satan’s shortcut temptations again.

Which is why choosing either side seems dangerous, adulterous, and even idolatrous, to me.

I see Jesus as the third, usually unseen and un-marketed, option. I hope to cling to Him, to ‘otherness’ and not be sucked into oneness (otherness versus one-ness is a concept I heard from Carl Teichrib, a researcher and author of the incredible book: Game of Gods. I am working my way through it, and so I can’t endorse it YET, but let’s just say I am in awe of the research he has compiled and his insights into what is happening in the world and in religion).

I think historically that is what it meant to BE a Christian: to choose Jesus as the unseen and un-marketed third option whenever the world put forth a thesis and antithesis option.

But again: I may be wrong. That’s the beauty of the gift of free will. We all get to use our own free will in these matters. And we also get to choose whether or not to push the snooze button and keep sleeping, when God sounds those wake up alarms. It can be risky to try and wake up sleepers–it may also not even be part of God’s plan for us to go around ‘sounding alarms’ either, when the human heart ‘wants what it wants’ to quote a popular song lyric. But we don’t need popular songs when we have the Bible. It has already said all which can be said anyway. Like this verse:

Song of Songs 8:4 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

This verse, the article I linked above, as well as Jesus’ words about my treasure dictating the desires of my own heart: has me re-examining my own desires, including my eagerness to ‘warn others’ and ‘sound alarms’ and all that. What is really behind all that anyway?

Hopefully I can turn my own desires back to Him whenever I find myself tempted toward adultery and idolatry with the world. Thereby my example might also urge others to return to Jesus as first and only love.

Perhaps it’s best to leave the actual wake up calls, the sounding of alarms and all that-to God. And not insist that people who still desire to push snooze ‘get up already‘.

Would you want to have a friend, let alone a lover, who doesn’t even desire your company enough to get out of bed when you call for him to come and meet you?

Then what makes us think God wants us going around trying to wake up adulterous lovers for Him?

Maybe its best to let the sleepers sleep. And let those of us who are awake– return to, and try to keep, our own desires for God.

The Accepted Idolatry of Spouse & Family

Much has been said already in the blogs and youtube videos I follow- about how God has allowed for ‘the removal of our idols’. Sports, entertainment, leisure, restaurants, nonessential shopping…few mention church fellowship ties, or family ties, and how they can also become an idol before God.

If you’ve read my recent posts, you will see my insistence that we can still have church in our own homes ‘wherever one or two are gathered.’

Now I feel led to add an addendum to what I’ve already shared:

As humans we are very good at making other people into idols in our lives. With social distancing, it seems even that insidious idol has been revealed (for those with eyes to see and ears to hear). In many cases it has even been physically removed or threatened, as well.

We see horrible stories of infected people dying alone without family or spouse by their side. And I keep seeing news reports and stories of how spouses are willingly living separately and keeping their distance from one another to prevent spread of sickness. Particularly if they work in healthcare or had been traveling. Famous examples are in the news too. It was reported that Prince Charles stayed away from his wife during his illness. Oprah Winfrey insisted her long time partner stay in her guest house for fourteen days after he returned from travel.

This is, indeed, a very strange time. But I think there is meaning in what is coming through our news channels as well. I think these rich details, much like the rich details in scripture, are being put into the world for a deeper reason — for those who are willing to ponder it and pray about it.

In my own life the Lord has revealed my idolatry toward my spouse, toward my children and even toward those family members who once abused me in unconscionable ways. That last one took me a long while to see; as I was already keeping my distance! But idols grow in our hearts and physical distance is not always enough to knock them down. I also came to believe that one of the horrible effects of such acts of evil is to leave behind a type of bondage to the victim; which must be brought before God in order to be broken. And therefore I’m not convinced that we love and adore all our idols; sometimes we are fixated on an idol in ways we can’t even comprehend and need help untangling from. In this way we allow it to control us long after it’s initial evil attempt to control us!

It is our attitudes and beliefs which need to change, a turning BACK to God in full repentance and wholeheartedness of faith and love for Him, and trust that He will free us from whatever has us bound if we ask and seek that from Him–in this way I feel idols can easily be destroyed before God; through His power to save and sanctify us.

It was still a painful discovery, though, every time He showed me an idol I had made from another person. And inevitably, once I knocked it down, I healed a great deal. Other times my troubled relationship with that person I had made into an idol (particularly my spouse and children) then grew and improved. Because I was no longer trying to control their every move–as we tend to do with idols. Think of the super fan in the stadium or before the television. It is as if he can will his favorite team to a victory through his screams and clenched jaw and strong desire to control their performance.

Do we do similar controlling measures with our spouse, children, family members, church family?

I have certainly been guilty of that in the past!

1 John 5: 21 Dear children, keep yourself from idols.

Luke 9:59-60 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Luke 11:27-28 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

1 Corinthians 7:32-34 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs–how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world–how he can please his wife–and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world–how she can please her husband.

Luke 14:26  If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.

Right now the world is telling us we must be prepared to separate from a sick family member and die alone; in order to stop the spread of a sickness and, in essence, be able to live (to die another day).

God’s word has always been clear that real disciples are willing to lose everything, including parents, children, spouse, in order to gain Him.

Is eternity in His presence enough of a reason to separate our hearts from our idols; even  the idols we make of other people– which can seem so blessed and holy and not like idols at all?

Or will we choose to cling to our life here on earth– for who knows how long?

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Kissing is Abuse (A Survivor’s Thoughts on The Purity Movement). Part 2.

(Continued from part one here)….As an adult, coming to terms with my child abuse, I can remember feeling literal pain when talking with sisters in Christ who had upbringings that fell in line with The Purity Movement. They recalled childhoods wherein their fathers sat around the dinner table expounding upon the Bible. The minister in their family would lead worship songs and take them to summer camps (without assaulting them). Their mothers guarded their encounters with other children and adults. They actually threw out, or burned, the questionable toothpaste and the smut books…why hadn’t God put me in one of those homes instead of the one I was in?  That realization hurt. As an abuse survivor: The Purity Movement can sting in so many ways.

I was jealous for what these sisters in Christ had been given. Their caregivers had shut the door on the devil. Mine had invited him in for coffee! In contrast, I felt even more defiled and abandoned–and unsure if I even belonged within Christianity. I also learned that jealousy can be physically painful. It hollows out your chest cavity and burns your guts. I felt weak; exhausted. It wasn’t fun to sit through these stories others shared. But it was necessary to my healing. It also wasn’t fun to finally share my own stories of defilement. But it was necessary to my healing. Because it was my story. I’m more like Tamar from the Bible than I am Laura from Little House on the Prairie. And owning that made for a whole lot of pain; but it also made all the difference too. My own religious double-mindedness was disappearing, the more I owned the truth.

In time those feelings of jealous pain passed and I began to take a hard look at my relationship with Jesus. I wasn’t following Jesus because someone had been sure that I was ‘kept pure’, leaving me determined to ‘stay that way’ by jumping under Jesus’s Umbrella until marriage. No. Furthermore, my sexuality is only one part of what Jesus purified. The Purity Movement runs the risk of making everything about sex, instead of about Jesus. Sex was a frequent topic of discussion in my perverted upbringing, also with a hyper focus on the ‘sexual status’ of young girls. And so if we are ‘truly guarding’ a woman, then shouldn’t her sexual status remain private? Is ‘ensuring virginity’ something God told His people to do? We know they often made it public in the Old Testament but it is unclear if that publicity was a command of God. Because I grew up with religious people hiding their own perversions, who also loved to find out such intimate details about others, (particularly young people)– I question whether showing off a daughter’s purity cloth, or a modern day purity ring, isn’t simply more evidence of the human tendency to get fixated on sex; and particularly the innocent sexual status of young people. It’s a scary thought, to me.

Furthermore, our depravity goes much deeper than sex, it involves greed and pride and a host of other ills too. True purity is about much more than celibacy. It’s about turning from our very nature as fallen humans. And so ultimately: I can’t credit the way I was raised, any certain movement or published book, for my salvation and restoration which covers everything about me: including my sexuality. I can only credit God Himself for it.

Eventually it became clear that few people are walking in sexual freedom, no matter their backgrounds, or marital status–and that those who had been public about private matters often lived to regret it later (as Joshua Harris now seems to be doing). I had to wonder if it was because they’d never believed they had a reason to wrestle with their own purity status? Or if it was because in their own ways, they were also victims of sexualization (which is abuse, too)–except it would be taboo to ever call it that in a Christian setting! Meanwhile, I wrestled openly with mine, and asked God for salvation from my damnation as well as the healing of my broken sexuality and past abuse. I came to believe that eternity, purity and sexual freedom is found through ongoing repentance. Active trust in Jesus, not my own past or present action (or inaction), is what makes me pure.

Therein is the freedom. In admitting your own defeat and declaring “Jesus makes and keeps me pure!” Having said that, I actually have no problem with people attempting to keep their homes pure, for their children’s sake. I would likely do the same, could I redo some things myself in the way I raised my own. But I truly hope I would never ‘broadcast’ the virginity status of any young person (even with their expressed permission — young people are too young to understand the ramifications of that). Nor would I take part in putting a young person on some sort of public faith based platform or pedestal, as few adults have the kind of maturity and groundedness-in-Christ to handle such exposure. Putting young people into the public eye prematurely is rampant in modern Christianity. (Amending this on 8-23-19 to add: I believe every now and again a young person comes along who does have the kind of maturity to be in ministry at a young age. Often that person has been given an inordinate amount of wisdom AND has also endured so many trials that they are more than ready for a spotlight or platform. However, maturity really is necessary to be in that kind of ministry or have that kind of platform. Unfortunately, I also know ‘older people’ in ministry who still lack maturity.)

The idea that we can even ‘stay pure’ in the first place, is another thing that gave me pause, about The Purity Movement (after I peeled through the hurt, anger, jealousy, and outrage over ‘broadcasting the sexual status of young people’). The way I see it, it is impossible to spend any amount of time on earth, single or married, and not have your mind defiled to some degree by your own thought processes.

Jesus said if a man even thinks about a woman in ‘that way’ then he has committed adultery with her in his heart. Which tells me that even the best homes (and marriages) — are still not pure enough for God’s standards — no matter how careful they have been. The antidote isn’t merely avoidance of the devil; it is utter dependence on Jesus.

I am no longer painfully jealous when I hear about other people’s upbringings. I am all the more aware of what Jesus continues to give me. And I cling to that the way only someone who can’t hear the word ‘kiss’ without flinching, would cling.

Wrong as they were about so many things, and implicit as they were in the abuses of a child (me) — my parents behavior, and the actions of a wolf in shepherd’s clothing— was the conduit for me to respond to the Holy Spirit’s offering of Christ’s purity in every way I needed it.

For that I am thankful.

Nevertheless, Shut De Do is a favorite song of mine and I often think of that song when I think of my upbringing. If only someone watching over me had shut the door and kept the devil in the night.

 

 

When Kissing is Abuse (A Survivor’s Thoughts on The Purity Movement). Part 1.

Trigger warning — details about sexual abuse follow. I have enjoyed reading about the fall out from the I Kissed Dating Goodbye author’s change of heart– here’s a synopsis if interested. So much has already been said, from many angles. Please bear with me as I attempt to explain my own feelings. (Or feel free to move along to another post as this  one will get lengthy!) Update: I have so much to say on this topic, I am turning it into two posts!

Joshua Harris’s popular Christian book was something I’d never heard about prior to leaving the protestant faith I was born into. To date, I still have not read his book! Therefore the things I write here should not be taken as reflections of his former work or current change of heart about it.

Nevertheless, posts about Harris and I Kissed Dating Goodbye kept triggering me. I sat with it a while before it hit me. When I was a preschooler, a minister in my extended family started abusive contact in the form of kissing. And so I learned that kissing brings with it a whole lot of guilt and yucky feelings. I still have mixed emotions about kissing. Jesus was betrayed by a kiss. And it seems I was as well. Like Judas, my betrayer was also imbedded within Christian leadership. It’s hard to enjoy something that holds a sting inside of it. The very title of the book, with the word kissing being so closely associated with a Christian movement and leadership; triggered me.

Triggers aren’t the problem. Avoiding pain is the problem. Therefore it’s taken me a while to process through this one and again, apologies for the length on these posts and thanks for anyone who ploughs through it all with me!

When I left protestantism and began exploring other Christian faith traditions — The Purity Movement came onto my radar. I was uncomfortable with it. I was still trying to reconcile what had happened to me — with my own sexual purity stolen by abuse, and the discomfort I still felt from the continued voyeurism, and focus on my body, which I had experienced growing up.

I tried to make sense of what I was feeling. I knew that the way I was raised had been wrong. But I did not feel The Purity Movement was ‘getting it right’ either–and it took me a long while to realize why I felt that way. As a survivor of voyeurism, I saw how The Purity Movement, and book’s like Harris’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye zeroed in on young people’s sex lives (a non existent sex life is still a focus on another’s sex life), forcing teenagers belonging to the movement to inadvertently become ‘public’ with very private information — thereby the adults and others looking on were also, in some ways, participating in voyeuristically viewing teenagers in terms of ‘sex’.

That irritated me.

I was also secretly jealous of the homes that had attempted to keep their children pure, adding yet another layer to the convoluted onion I needed to peel.

The Protestant home I grew up in was outwardly Christian (church attendance, having funerals and weddings ‘in the church’, getting confirmed in the teen years, and sprinkling/baptizing babies). But my immediate family was not ‘hit’ by the Jesus movement, that gained momentum in the 70’s and 80’s; or the homeschooling movement that took off in the 90’s. Though there were some charismatic gospel records that made a rotation on the record player.

The minister in the family practiced a strange mix of religious behaviors with licentiousness. When I first began to take my faith seriously, the ‘trained theologian’ in the living room mocked me openly about being a ‘fundie’, asking why I was ‘getting so weirdly religious lately’. He would talk quite skillfully and sincerely about ‘faith’ when needed, but show a very tawdry side if he knew his audience would actually appreciate a ‘minister who cusses’. He was ‘intellectual and modern’, about faith, often arguing from a near atheistic-sounding viewpoint, (that is when he was willing to talk ‘shop’). Ordinarily he avoided religious discussions, preferring instead to start gossip, or share jokes lifted from raunchy comedians.

His influence left a heavy mark.

…But the truth is, many family members seemed to operate with similar double-mindedness, as the family minister had.

My father was often perverted and displayed some serious lapses in moral judgment. He had another side, though, that would surface at church. And in the sweeping Christian movements of the 70’s through 90’s, we had frequent encounters with people who were participating in all kinds of faith movements and new rules — which left impressions on me, and contributed to my longing for a ‘serious’ faith walk myself. My father sat piously, listening to a visiting minister (not the one who abused me), or a religious relative passing through the area, as if in total agreement. One such visitor even insisted that Proctor & Gamble products had a satanic seal and should therefore be boycotted by all Christians, prompting my dad to dig out some deodorant and toothpaste, as well as a magnifying glass to look them over. The next day at the dinner table he was troubled and asked my mother, ‘Maybe we should stop buying that brand–what if that really is the sign of the devil on our toothpaste?’

Like the rest of the family my mother didn’t watch after my purity, storing her vast collection of explicit romance novels on my bookshelf, and ignoring the other pornography to which I was being exposed. Yet she also had her own type of faith and devotion life too. One which she occasionally shared aloud. So I wasn’t sure what to expect in that moment…and my hopes were kindled a bit. But she just snorted and waved her hand in front of her face in response to dad’s momentary crisis of conscience. Our P&G toothpaste continued without interruption. But I remember spending a lot of time looking at that tiny moon-man symbol, fearfully wondering if that’s why I kept getting cavities.

After toddlerhood, all of the abuse escalated, throughout the family. One abuser was beyond reproach, though, being a minister.

I blamed myself.

(See part two for more).

 

 

The Golden Rule Can’t Be About Me.

smiling woman holding black smartphone
Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

I have an agnostic, leaning-toward-atheist, friend who believes all you need to do in life is to follow ‘The Golden Rule’. Always treat others as you would want to be treated yourself. She asserts that if you do that, you will get back out of life what you put into it. Furthermore, she’s been known to say that if everyone simply followed The Golden Rule, the world would not be the world as we know it (I think she meant ‘bad’ in general. But, IMHO: the world as we know it is increasingly narcissistic– we have become ‘lovers of self’, just as was prophesied by Paul to Timothy).

I agreed with her but added some thoughts of my own too. Since I believe all people are capable of evil, by nature–we need help keeping The Golden Rule. Such help comes in the form of Jesus, specifically His Word (Jesus IS the word!).

By the way, friend, God’s word/AKA Jesus is what gave us The Golden Rule…

And, not surprisingly, she didn’t believe The Golden Rule originated in the Bible. Citing chapter and verse did nothing. I’m not one to argue, I’d rather let the seed do what seeds do (die, or, lie dormant and sprout when least expected– six years later, in a crack that developed on hard cement). My Golden Rule friend is actually basing her life on two Biblical principles, without realizing it. The Golden Rule is one, and the idea that we get back what we give out is number two, i.e. we reap what we sow. (I didn’t even ‘go there’ on that point–seeing how the Golden Rule Bible verse played out!)

Anyway, I believe the key to understanding Mathew 7:12 (the famous ‘golden rule’ precept) lies in Matthew 7:11.

Jesus says in Matthew 7:11 that though we are evil, we still know how to give good things to those we love. How much more, then, does God the Father, (in Whom NO evil resides), KNOW how to give good gifts?

Sadly, I know the sin nature of people, myself included. We are capable of committing evil under the right (wrong?) circumstances. And I’ve also experienced what the devil is capable of as well–so there’s no doubt in my mind that the dark dude would LOVE it–say, for instance, if the recent earthquake in California had resulted in total annihilation instead of the fairly serious damage that was caused (sadly). The fact that this world is still, for the most part, orderly, and that many people enjoy long lives relatively free of major devastations, is one of those ‘good gifts of a righteous God.’ His hand still has sway over this world and is undoubtedly keeping order, IMHO. When that restraint is lifted, I believe it will get very ugly indeed–I just hope I’m not here to witness that!

But back to The Golden Rule. It struck me recently that we, in our selfish nature, have twisted even that genius summation of all the law and prophets. Time and again as I’ve been attempting to heal from PTSD, I have received advice and responses from professionals, friends, and family that have come from a place of ‘their experience’ instead of truly trying to understand, and respect, mine.

All too often, when we are faced with another person’s pain, we respond exactly as we presume we would want to be responded to (with all of our personal quirks, belief systems, dislikes and affinities) instead of listening and then selflessly responding as that person would like us to respond (or outright needs us to respond in truth, whether they want the truth or not).

I think we err in this way because treating others as we would want to be treated seems so noble and good. So… without reproach. So… Golden Rule-y! But if we overlook our own ability to be fallen and sinful (and self-focused), we could cause others more damage than help.

  • You are feeling sick and so I’ll just give you space, because I just want to be left alone when I’m not feeling well. (Perhaps the hurting person wants and/or needs someone to bring breakfast in bed–and then lunch and dinner too!)
  • I don’t like it when people talk bad about my family so I am not going to say anything bad to you about yours. (Perhaps the person recovering from abuse desperately wants to hear someone say her parents/siblings/uncles/grandparents are given over to evil!)
  • I don’t like physical affection so I will listen to you cry about this but I am NOT going to hug you. (Perhaps thats person wants a hug, or someone holding their hand).
  • Prayer makes everything better for me so I am going to stop on this sidewalk and pray right here, right now, over you. (Does the person even want to be prayed over right now, let alone in public?)
  • My minister said forgiveness heals and so you just need to forgive it. (even though David spent chapters of the psalms calling down curses on his enemies in order to purge and deal with his emotions!)

I could go on, and on, but perhaps others can add their own thoughts and examples of ways we respond to hurting people based on our experiences; not theirs.

I suggest we get better about asking.

  • What can I do for you?
  • What do you need right now?
  • Do you want a hug?
  • A prayer?
  • Some space?          

Honor the responses to those questions. Get to know someone who is hurting and treat them as they want to be treated. And please stop telling abuse survivors they just ‘need to forgive’. Most of the time they need to get good and angry before forgiveness can happen.

The Golden Rule is a wonderful precept! Yet it can go really sideways when we start seeing everyone else exactly as we view ourselves. Which leads me back to where I started: humans are becoming increasingly narcissistic. And it’s the ultimate narcissistic foible to forget that we are still…self-focused humans ourselves.

All of which makes me want to close with a word the early church used often:

Maranatha!

Smelled Like Funky Religion To Me.

blur close up environment incense
Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

I recently visited a healing room. The strong smell of incense, upon opening the door, warned there could be funky stuff inside…and my nose is rarely wrong. The room was filled with tulle and pillows and swords and crowns. Some visitors looked right at home while others looked a bit uneasy.

I wasn’t seeking a healing or praying for anyone else’s. I went there because friends invited us to an event. I also share some things in common with the proponents of healing rooms.

  • I believe in healings.
  • I believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit are at work today.

But there were things about this healing room that I found too weird for my personal comfort–and weird is not meant as a pejorative. I like weird. I am quite weird by usual standards. (Which is why I get these invites). Furthermore, I can’t stand incense. I get an instant headache whenever I get but a whiff of it. I avoid places that use it. Unless I’ve already entered the front door to an event where I was expected.

TOO LATE.

When we finally left I told my husband the experience ‘smelled like funky religion to me!’ Which confused him. He hadn’t even noticed the smell of incense. So while I didn’t actually see any sticks burning– at some point I know that room had burned incense.

I was leery of the healing room going into it, and leery of writing of the experience here, (lest I offend someone). In both cases I simply went for it. I even engaged in quizzical conversation with a leader there. She wasn’t sure, herself, what all the pillows and tulle was about, or the columns, or the sword stuck into a rock (I didn’t even ask about the other sword hanging on the wall)…some people had shown up one day and ‘decorated’ and she was as surprised by the outcome as I…as we chatted on, I round-about shared the pain of my family estrangement. She suggested a character in the Bible as an example in moving forward. God had shown me that same character in the Bible too.

That coincidence wasn’t enough to convince me to drop all my guard, though. Incense aside, I am biased against religious icons and props. Maybe my conservative protestant upbringing shows there. Mainly, though, I have healed enough to heed any feelings of unease in my spirit. At one time I would have gone into self doubt or blame and shame and, eager to please, gone along with whatever my friends suggested. This time it was clear what I was to do. Spirit checks urged me to keep some distance unless/until God leads me back.

Yet the incense lingered, as incense does…so I looked up several scriptures. I have been ruminating on Psalm 141:2.  May my prayer be set before You like incense, my uplifted hands like the evening sacrifice. 

Maybe God likes incense? The temple incense instructions are detailed in Exodus30, as well as stern warnings against offering ‘strange’ incense. I was curious if that incense had ever been recreated. The Bible’s version prolly smelled better than today’s stinky sticks. Either way, I suspect God likes heartfelt prayers and worship best of all.