Monday, March 31, 2008

Subtle Changes

Alert: For those of you who are not familiar with phrases such as; Spiritual Warfare, Ruling and Reigning, Cleansing the Land, Ruling Spirits over a Region, Spiritual prayer over a region or a city or the names of Cindy Jacobs or Dutch Sheets, you can just skip over this post. You really won’t understand it except to rejoice with me that these things are not part of who I am now. Go have a cup of coffee and thank Father that you don’t have this stuff to purge from your lives.

One of the surprising things in this journey has been watching myself change in very subtle ways. There have been moments of extreme change in how I view things or how I may act now (like my last posts details- Thanks to all the wahoos offered there) but those are easy to see and notice. Other things are changing though and I didn’t decide to change them…they just are different now.

I was driving with Husband to Georgia for a brief visit with his parents this weekend. We love to drive and it was a good get-away. Mostly our driving time was in listening to Rob Bell preach and then listening to Wayne Jacobsen’s series on Transitions. Great time together. We love driving and processing together.

The thing I noticed though was during a quiet period. Husband drove past a small city in Maryland or somewhere along the way. As we passed over the bridge and I took in the downtown section I thought to myself, “I bet there are great people there. I could live there I think.”

Now this might not be amazingly different for you to imagine someone thinking but let me in on what I might have said just a year ago in passing this city.

“Hmmmm…I wonder what spirit resides here in this city. It feels dark and controlled. I bet there are people who are praying here against the darkness. Maybe from that hill over there. Yes, that would be the spot to pray from. Wow, I bet the churches in this area are not even aware of the presence that I feel here. Probably not an apostolic presence in this city at all.”

Does that weird you out or what???? EWWWWWWWW!

This trip, I loved driving past cities and just loving the people in them. Realizing that Father is especially fond of them and desired a relationship with them. I laughed and cringed at what I would have thought before. What a waste of time and how inflated my ego to think that I could even know that stuff. It makes you constantly alert and fearful because the enemy is sooooo big. In that alertness you miss on the simple act of loving the people there and dreaming of a possible relationship with them.

I really am beginning to like me so much better now. I bet the people in that town would too.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Silence Is Not Golden - It's My Time To Speak


To all....I did call my (former) wonderful friend on Wednesday. She assured me that to be in contact with me would just cause her to look at issues that she just can't afford to look at right now. It was heartbreaking to hear the fear in her voice. We won't have any contact from this point out but I got to tell her that I loved her and when she did have the freedom to look at the issues, she was always welcome at my door. (even if she did not want to talk about anything church related) I was eleated to get to talk to her and really end it for the time being. My only hope is that they are now in the position that Husband and I had left in leadership. NO ONE HAS EVER LASTED IN LEADERSHIP THERE!!! So it is just a matter of time before I get to have a real relationship with her again. And I assured her that I would never be angry enough at her to not be her friend in the future. I was so excited to address the elephant in the relationship that I danced around the house the rest of the day. Truth truly is freeing! And I love elephants!

I will no longer be silent!

I feel this today as clearly as I felt that we were to leave our CLB.

For the past year (except for a letter to two friends the first week we left) we have not initiated any relationships other than the ones who sought us out and those whom had already left the church.. We have worked hard sometimes to keep those – especially in the beginning – but we have not gone to our former friends to see if they wanted to have any sort of relationship with us.

But somewhere in the past few weeks I have decided something. I’M NOT WRONG!!

Now, I may not be entirely right. In fact I can say quite emphatically that I am certain that I am not entirely right on how I see facts from our past or our present situation. Really, that does not bother me anymore. I don’t have to be completely right. What a freedom that is!!

Husband has always said that when I finally decide that I have done nothing wrong, I will be dangerous. He was right because what has kept me quiet all this time is that I felt that somehow, I was missing something. Somehow, I was reading the situation at our CLB wrong. Somehow, I would find out that really they were not as deceived as I thought they were. Somehow, I deserved to have relationships cut off. Somehow, I had done something really wrong. Somehow, what I had done necessitated my not being able to have relationships with these people.

I felt like I needed to just disappear from their lives so that they could go on unhindered in the church life that they have. If I saw them, I needed to just tell them that I loved them and “be nice to them.” I felt that I should not be the one to address the proverbial elephant that was standing in the corner of our conversation.

Then Daughter taught me a lesson the other day. She ran into some of our leaders unexpectedly. They waved and smiled. She approached them and without a lot of anger told them that it was not appropriate with what they have done to simply smile and wave at her. She stood her ground. She pointed out the elephant between them and her. She told them that she was not going to play the games and then turned and left.

Know what? In addressing the real issue that is between her and them, she felt free for the first time since she left. Fear rolled off her. She is a new person today. She is no longer slinking around. She is no longer afraid. She found freedom! I was so proud of her. To our knowledge, no one has had the guts to do what she did.

If people are willing to talk, we are ready to talk. I re-read every blog that I have posted. I would love to sit down with ANYONE and discuss the things that I have written. I’m not ashamed of my journey since last March. In fact I think I have something to say!

I am not wrong. There are problems with my CLB. For instance, I can show you multiple sites that have lists of what makes a church a cult and my former ‘church’ fits all but one or two of each list! There is a problem there. I did not make up the lists. Nor did they visit our group and then make up the list. The lists FIT!! This is not my problem! We did not know this when we left. We just knew that the leadership was way too interested in their own position of Apostles and Prophets and in ranking themselves above all the rest of us.

I have learned enough now though to quit doubting my own sanity. I have learned why we are shunned. I have learned more about the whole movement of the New Apostolic Reformation. I have learned what about it I agree with and what about it I abhor. And, I have decided not to be quiet and play along with the whole thing when I have the chance.

Now, let me say this to alleviate the minds of all those who think I’m going to go off half cocked. I’m going to try and not be foolish about this. I am not going to go and intentionally stir up trouble. Wayne and Brad on their last podcast said something to this effect, “Don’t go and start a war in someone’s heart before it is Father’s time.” Therefore, I am not going to go and write to everyone who is there. There will be no mass emails, phone calls or visits. But to those that I just ‘happen’ to run into, I just may address the elephant in the room.

Maybe not, we’ll see.

I will not slink around them though as if I have done something wrong any more though. I will not play the game any longer as if I deserve to be shunned. If someone is uncomfortable talking to me I am apt to ask them why all the discomfort. If they ignore me, I am apt to ask why they do that. If they pretend that everything is just fine, I may ask why they are pretending with me when I know they have huge problems with me.

And, I am going to call two close former friends and ask them if they want me to leave them alone or if there is a way to have a friendship in the midst of all of this. At least I will know and not be left to my assumptions. Knowing is always better for me.

Will let you know how it goes.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter 2008

I’m not in “Church” this Easter Sunday morning.

First time ever in my whole life. Since birth. Since conception.

I started my life in my mother’s arms in the service. I graduated into the nursery for the next few Easters. Then into the services. Sometimes three in one day. Sunrise service, Morning Services and Services at night. I glued on the stone to the Sunday school paper, colored in the angel at the door, play acted the whole scene numerous times and sang with the children’s choir in the big service. I graduated to singing in the choir for Easter Cantatas, and special music. Husband was in a “Last Supper” reenactment and acted as the lead, Peter in “The Witness” by Barry McGuire while I was in the chorus. We went on from there to putting on our own very small services in our new church plant in Michigan. Then 20 years here where Easter services were downplayed as silly and almost pagan in nature.

So this morning, the first time out of an institutional church setting and wondering, really, what the day of Easter means to me, has been truly refreshing.

The question of the morning for me has been, “How does the resurrection of Jesus affect me this morning?”

And in the answer to that question comes a depth of the most incredible peace and contentment that I have ever felt.

He did it. He did it to completely eradicate the need for me to do anything more than return his love for me. He did it to free me to be able to love others. He did it to show me that he was who he said he was. He did it to reconcile me to the Father who longed for a relationship with me. He did it to abolish the rules of religion. All of them.

And for that, on this first Easter day where Church Lady is not in a chair or a pew, I am so grateful. I am at peace.

I think if I am ever involved in an institutional setting again of believers that I will refuse to go to a meeting on Easter.

Just to remind myself that He did it all. I can be at peace and full of gratefulness on this day where everyone else feels the need to do the “right” thing by going to see God at his house. I don’t need to.

Especially today of all days.

Happy Easter Everyone. He is Risen….I am free.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

5 Year Plans - Flushed

My CLB was famous for planning for the future. We were yearly instructed to write out our plan for the year, the next 5 years and maybe even the next 10 years. We would bring it down to the front, put it in a basket and ask God to bless it. This was extremely hard for me. I felt ashamed that I could not do this but really, I had to face the fact that my life was not mine to plan. For one, I was a wife of one, a mom of 7, and a daughter of 2 elderly parents who live just 10 steps outside my house. My life mostly revolves around other’s lives of which I have very little control. I’m a support person. I do have my own will and can plan some things that I want to do, but if someone gets sick or has a great need, I am the one to whom they turn. I don’t resent this, it just makes it hard to plan for 5 years in the future - or tomorrow with any certainty.

Then when you bring in the whole CLB thing it got even harder. They wanted you to be brilliant and plan for the future but they also wanted your future to be planned around making their future turn out like they wanted. This was not a democratic society I lived in. They planned the future for the ‘church’ and then the ‘church’ made it happen. If you were not on board for this then you were labeled “in rebellion or not one of us.”

So how in the heck was I to make out a five year plan? I hated it each year. I think I did it one year and then looked at it at the end of the year and swore I would never do it again. It just mocked me. It was a wish list, not a one year plan.

In our leaving the whole CLB, even the plans that I did have are totally gone. I am like a person out to sea with no ability to steer and it is a very cloudy night. I have NO idea what course to chart or direction to head. I felt that this was somehow not OK. We were supposed to know what we were to do, right? At least at some point we would have a clue…..right?

So when Watchman wrote this up the other day, I thought it was spot on and it gave me hope for not having a plan in sight. He says, in summing his post up:
Keep learning who you are and let that uniqueness define and shape you and what you do. Don’t be so concerned about the details of the future as you are with the details of your identity. Knowing this helped me make the decision to leave the Church As We Know It and start creating my role in the Church of the Future. I think it will serve you well, also.

And then another blogger that I have truly enjoyed following the past month or two (and can’t wait till she opens comments again after lent) wrote this about planning for the future:

So, a couple years ago, I decided to set aside the spreadsheets and the goals lists. I decided to stop praying this:
Give us this day a detailed plan of how You're going to provide bread for us every day
for the next 20 years with specifics as to what quantities You will provide and at what intervals we can expect to receive them so that I might work that into my goals milestones.
And to start praying this:
Give us this day our daily bread.


Perhaps it's my nonreligious background, but I continue to be amazed that my life has not fallen into scattered chaos without my planning it out to the last detail. What I secretly worried would happen is that this whole "following God's will" thing would lead to me jumping from one idea to the next, leaving a bunch of unfinished projects in my wake after I drifted off to do the next thing that I decided was "God's will." But that hasn't happened. Looking back at the past couple of years, there's more clarity in my life than ever before. It's like watching a play unfold: I see storylines cropping up, I'm starting to see a clear direction and purpose in where I have been led so far...I just don't know where it's going from here, or how it's going to end. As I've said before, it's more exciting than anything I could have ever planned.

As I said, it is sometimes better to let someone else speak because they sometimes can say it far better than we would have.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

To All The Friends I've Loved Before

I’ve noticed that I’ve been able to look at Friendships in my CLB in an entirely different way this week.

I received an email from a woman who had just left her church. In the email she said this, “I've pretty much lost about 85% of my friendships at my CLB but I'm beginning to accept that.”

In responding back to her I was pondering my words. I’ve been there. Actually, I lost a higher percentage, so I felt that I might know how she might be feeling. I wanted to help her feel better. I wanted her not to be shut in with grief over this loss.

So I was tempted to write some of the following: Things such as....You will find out in the next few months who really was your friend…..Don’t worry about those that are not talking to you…..They weren’t your friends in the first place……..

Have you heard any of those or have you spoken them to yourself?

You know what???? Those statements, while they may be true are not necessarily true. I agree that statements such as these were true of a very few in my CLB. But it is not true of all or even most of my relationships there. I believe that the beliefs of the CLB has blinded their eyes to the truth of my friendship with them. They feel that they are not allowed to be my friend or that they will loose too much to be my friend. (Remember, in my CLB you loose your destiny and your covering if you disagree too much with the Apostle. This is a very scary thing to be threatened with.) They are just as blind as I was before I started recognizing that this was not a good place to be.

It may seem to make it easier if you tell yourself that they were never your friend in the first place. But I’m coming to realize that it really does not make it easier. Here’s why. If you believe they were never actually your friends then why would you grieve for them? You feel stupid to be sad for something that was a lie. You feel doubly duped that you believed in all of the CLB’s crap AND you didn’t even know that what friendship was.

I’m sorry but that is just not true! I had friends, and I know what friendship is! Therefore, it is ok for me to grieve the loss of these friends. It is ok for me to keep an open door if they ever decided to walk back into my life. I know what friendship is….It is a linking of hearts. (It is rare when only one person feels they are in a friendship and the other person does not.) I am choosing to believe that I am not that dysfunctional.

So to own up that those people who no longer associate with me truly were friends allows me to grieve but grieve without feeling stupid. It allows me to love them now and not get angry at them (for allegedly never really being my friend). It strengthens my own self confidence that I can have friendships and that I am not crazy in thinking that so many of these women and men were truly my friends. It gives me hope that I can make new friends in the future and that I am not a failure at judging true friendship. And, it allows me hope that they might come back into friendship with me. (If they never really were my friends than there is no hope of having anything in the future).

It is funny. To believe the above paragraph brings all sorts of negative emotions. Grief, over the loss. Anger, over the blindness that our CLB perpetuates. Frustration, that they can’t also see the truth or that I can’t do anything about it. Hurt, that they see in small ways what they are doing and yet still can’t see the bigger picture.

But it brings out some very positive emotions. Hope – for one – that there will be friendships renewed at a later time. Love – That in the midst of their blindness I still can continue to love them and be willing to be their friends. Self confidence – I had lots of friends before this and I am a good judge of friends. I will have and build more friendships in the future. And Relief – that it is not me that is dysfunctional and crazy.

So, to my friend who wrote me about loosing her friends and to others out there who have walked this same path, I say to you…..Grieve, Hurt, get Angry and Frustrated but don’t top all that off with the lie that you are also crazy and these people were never your friends in the first place. Come to terms with those that truly were not your friends and who only used you for their own ends but then embrace the friendships that you really did have and base your feelings on the truth.

And……To all the friends I’ve loved before…. I say to them this:


I love you all. My door is not locked from the inside. It is wide open and ready to welcome you at any time. You were my friends. You will remain my friends until you tell me that you no longer wish to be on that list. Even then, I will love you.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Come to Our Missional, Emergent, Post Charismatic, Bible, Barbeque, Worship Center

So I have spent almost a year on the internet reading, researching and pondering what I believe and what others are saying. The people I read are varied – to say the least. I read Calvinist, Reformed, Charismatics, Emergent, Post Charismatics, Atheists, Cult survivors, and so many others. Some know exactly what the ‘Church’ is supposed to look like, some aren’t sure and others just hate the whole institution.

Husband decided last May that we were not going to do anything for a year. We were going to detox and just let things settle. And we have. But there is a shifting in our spirit somehow coming into the Spring season. May is not that far away and we realize that we are no closer to having an idea of what we will do then than when we left a year ago.

One of the first books that we read last year was ‘So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore,” by Wayne Jacobsen. In the last few nights we have revisited the book and read it again with somewhat fresh eyes. Eyes that have had the scales of the institution fallen off. We love the heart of this book but have more questions now than before.

The main question is this; seemingly, in the New Testament, the Body of Christ did intentionally meet together on what appears to be a somewhat regular basis. In these meetings, in whatever format, there was fellowship, teaching, music, encouragement, prophecy and eating together. I think you will agree that to do this, takes some intentionality. It takes someone to ‘lead’ and others to participate. I think that what Wayne puts forth in his book of really letting the Holy Spirit put these gatherings together has to have some purposeful direction from a human being also involved. I don’t think he would disagree.

But to be purposeful in trying to start something scares us to death. The minute you do decide to start something you have to decide what to start. Does that make sense? In the very act of beginning something you have to decide 1) what to begin and 2) what not to begin. Decisions have to be made to decide what to include and what not to include. You can say that you will start something that will have no true purpose other than meeting but I can’t see how that would really happen. Just in deciding to have the meeting, boundaries will naturally be erected.

So, what do you start? Do we call it missional, emergent, bible centered, just fellowship, a gathering for worship, a barbeque, a charismatic fellowship, a home group or what?

A very wise pastor wrote to us the other day. He said this. “In looking around all the church plants before we started our church here in our town, I pondered all that I had seen. It seemed that those churches that deviated from centering their congregations around anything else other than to Love God and to then in turn Love each other, in time became sidetracked and shipwrecked.”

As I thought about this it became so clear to me. To create a fellowship, say around ‘signs and wonders,’ produces either a desire for more of them or a pride in the fact that it is happening and thus became off kilter. It becomes about signs and wonders not about Him. To create a fellowship around gifting and hierarchy produced my story here at this blog. To create a fellowship around the prophetic word produced churches that became unbalanced in their chasing after the newest prophet or making everything a prophetic word and results in the disillusionment of many Christians. It again wasn’t about simply loving God and others.

And here is where I hope I don’t offend many who read here. I’m wondering if even the striving for a more missional model or a emergent type of a structure will again end up in another ditch – just off to the other side of the road. It seems in trying to distinguish ourselves from another group or distinguish ourselves even to ourselves we just build another rigid structure – just out of a different material.

What if our structure was the non structure of having a group of people who gather together to try to encourage each other to love God and love others? Could you take what is true of each of the other camps and include it when appropriate? In other words, if someone is sick then, of course you would anoint them with oil and pray for their healing – but you would not hold healing services. If someone is dealing with a demonic force in their lives, of course you would pray for the spirit to depart and for the Holy Spirit to fill the empty place – you just wouldn’t open up a deliverance tent the next week. If a need became evident of finances or help to the poor that the group could have an impact in, of course a missional model would be seen. And when a couple of guys or girls with a broken sexuality decided to be brave enough to have us love on them, we might even be seen as emergent.

But none of the above would define us. The only definition would be to Love God and Love Others. Whatever flowed in or out of the group would be an example of that statement and not the definition of our group. (One key thing would to not let our statement be rooted in pride or it would become just another structure.)

What do you guys think? Could it be done? Could there be humility in facilitating a group like this? Where are the pitfalls? Am I being too simple? Too naive?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Tempted into doing what we’ve always wanted to do - From Abmo

Some days I post something and then after it is already up I read something that someone else has written and I want to say, "WAIT!! Don't read mine today - Read this instead."

Yesterday was one of those days. Please go over to Abmo at Windblown Hope and read what he has to say about a question I asked in my post of Prophetic Words - The Shaking Continues the other day. He takes the temptation of Jesus and shows how we still are tempted to do the very same things in our lives as we try and build an expression of the Kingdom of God here on earth with our own hands. I think it truly, is brilliant.

So today, if you would, please read here.

And if you can, please also read the comments from that post. I think those that comment have so much to add to the discussion that I often am tempted to give them their own post so you all can see what they wrote and added.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Religion and Fear

Larry Norman died last week. I read about it on many blogs. I am old enough to remember his music and so I kept wondering why I had not liked his music. You need to realize that I love music. All kinds. I listen to everything and actually enjoy it all. I can have my windows rattling with Bach or Mozart just as they could be rattling with the latest Rap from Eminem. And when the whole Christian Rock was born I had all the new records. Sandy, Amy, Keith, Love Song……Lend an ear….to a love song….oooh a love song….(Sing along now) So why did I not listen to Larry Norman?

It wasn’t until I read Brant’s post last week that I remembered why. It was those movies – A Thief in the Night, Left Behind. Larry’s most famous song was the soundtrack to those movies. No wonder why I was not fond of him. He was my introduction to FEAR IN RELIGION.

My introduction to fear in the church came at a very young age. Now that I think back on it I am outraged. What person lets a little kid watch such a movie? Now, I had “asked Jesus in my heart,” when I was 5. It was real to me and I really think that something supernatural was placed in me that night. With the rules of the game, I was safe – I was saved and going to heaven – I would be raptured when it happened. But I didn’t feel safe. I was always panicked anytime I could not find my parents. I forever worried about driving along in a car and the driver being ‘taken’ and the rest of us left to die in a fiery crash. If my parents were even 5 minutes late getting home I had a stomach ache. (Oh, for cell phones)

It is funny. We believed in eternal salvation but you were never sure that if you were to have been found at a dance or a movie theatre or even just thinking a bad thought - and the rapture occurred – would you really be taken? Because of this doctrine I lived my life in fear. Fear of not being good enough and fear of being left to being marked by the Beast and forever out of the grace of God.

I was 25 before I met a kind pastor that blew away this theology in 2 hours one night. I had never even met a Christian before that did not believe in the rapture. We had heard about such heretics in my Bible School but no one had ever told me that true Christian men and women did not all believe the same things. My world was rocked and I cried for the next week. How in the world had I been taught these things without saying that there at least were other ways to view what the Bible was saying? Why was I not taught that this was a new belief of only a few hundred years old? Why was I not taught that it was actually the Scofield Bible’s notes that made this doctrine preached in the United States so widely? For something so fundamentally believed and accepted in my little life, why was I not given all the facts and then allowed to make my own decision?

But that is not the reason for this post. The reason I wanted to talk about this today is because I got very used to fear in my faith. Those in authority used fear to control their congregations. In a podcast from Wayne and Brad last week (Freedom from Fear) they cited an article that said that fear can be the most controlling force in a person’s life.

That got me thinking. I could look back into my childhood and see where fear was used by the church (and I hated it) but I wanted to look forward….after I changed my theology….to see if fear had still been used to control me. How did the whole Charismatic theology manifest fear in my life, and was I still under fear today?

Here are some ways I thought of:

There was a huge fear of the demonic. Fear that you would do or say something that would open you up to demonic forces in your life. Fear against what the ruling forces of the region could do to you.

Fear of somehow losing your destiny – through either making bad choices in a church or mate or life in general or being in the wrong church or camp.

Fear of being out from under authority. Fear that you were not obeying your husband or father and then later on, fear that you were not submitting to the Apostle or Prophet of the church.

Fear of not tithing and/or not giving enough to ‘cover’ your own finances to where God would bless you.

Fear of not raising your kids just right so that they would make the very same choices that you would make for them.

Fear that the world would corrupt us or our kids by contact with it.

Fear that allowing a non Christian to teach our kids would result in God not being in their lives.

Fear that anything we or our kids did, might be a stumbling block to someone.

Fear that if we did not come across as spiritual – that we would be demoted or sidelined or shunned.

Fear of admitting your were broken and not healed yet.

Fear of missing ‘your opportunity’ for healing or deliverance or blessing from whatever service was being held that night or that weekend. (actually this was used to try to get people to EVERY meeting that the church had – even a business or planning meeting… could never tell when God would show up and you weren’t there) Fear of not being where God’s Spirit was being poured out.

Fear that someone might actually find out that you were just pretending in worship. Fear of not looking “worshipful.” Fear that there is something really wrong with you.

Fear of not being able to say that you disagreed. Fear that you were somehow evil because you had an opinion that differed.

I’m sure there is more….I am just sickened. I am over 50 and I have lived every moment of my life in Jesus, in fear. From the time I made my first steps toward this life of Faith I have carried a companion with me named Fear.

So today I resolve to dismiss my companion of Fear and replace him. I want a new traveling companion. I hate what Fear has done to my life.

Therefore, I will replace him with……Grace or Wisdom or maybe Laughter. What do you think? Who do you walk with?