Friday, November 11, 2011

Spiritual Abuse Parallels

From Ron Bracken of the Centre Daily Times in State College:

"To answer that you have to understand the culture that has prevailed for at least as long as Paterno was in charge of the football program. It was, right up until he was removed from his position Wednesday night, a climate of Kremlin-like secrecy, of tightly-controlled access, of rule by dynamic terror. It was understood that if you wanted to be around his program in a professional aspect, you did so at his pleasure and by his rules."

Do you see the parallels?

Climate of secrecy
Tightly controlled access
Rule by dynamic terror
If you want to be a part in any aspect it is at their pleasure and by their rules.

Whether a university, church or even a family, abuse is bound to happen when these things are present. Just change the names and you have it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Log In My Own Eye

I have no idea where to begin.

For those of you out of the area you may have heard about the scandal that has rocked Penn State this week. There are men that are very high up in the authority structures of Penn State that have hidden the ugliness of child sexual abuse of one of their own peers/coaches/leaders from the public for years. The sheer scope of this horrendous crime has no words in my vocabulary to describe the ache of my heart as I read the accounts.
But somewhere in the past few days I began to see trigger words that made me wonder even about my own heart. I’m not going to rehash the Penn State story so you may have to read a bit on it to understand what I am saying, but my first thought was this: In being a leader so long at our church am I ultimately no different than the men who failed to report the crimes at Penn State? Now there were no crimes of a sexual nature that I ever witnessed nor do I even want to insinuate that there were. Nor am I saying that anything I have ever witnessed even starts to approach the gravity of child abuse.
So I’m off the hook right? Well... wait – not so fast.
I watched as people were thrown out and left by the wayside with no friends, no support system and spiritually bleeding and never did anything about it.
I believed the system was right or at least “making a difference” in people’s lives. I decided to look at the positive things and not the negative because “Not everything was bad.”
I believed I had no right to correct the leaders. Other leaders needed to do the correcting right?
I didn’t want to chance the fact that what I was seeing might be a skewed viewpoint and therefore not correct. (What if I am wrong?!)
I did not want to jeopardize my position within the system.
And ultimately, in my heart, I knew what happened when you questioned the leaders or the system.
I basically shut up for the support of the system and in that – am I any different? Does any of that sound familiar to the Penn State scandal? Do you see the analogy I’m drawing?
Funny, the people over at our blog decided a few weeks ago that the real truth needed to come out about the church we were involved in. We spoke up. Ultimately we decided that it might be ok to hurt the system if it will help those who are being chewed up by the same.
Ultimately, I am asking those who may be tempted to throw stones at Penn State right now to first look into our own hearts and ask forgiveness for staying quiet on things in our own lives that we should have spoken out against.
Is there something that you need to speak up about? Is there a story that you need to tell? Is there a system or person you need to confront? Let’s learn something this week in looking at Penn State. Let’s not let the log in our own eye obstruct our vision any more.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Have Moved On!

One of the things I think I have feared the most is both the idea that somehow I might be bitter and with that bitterness that I will not "move on."

I think you might have heard the same thing in your own lives. If you talk about the things that have happened one of the first things said to you by well meaning friends is this idea that they fear we might become bitter and that we "won't let this all go" and "move on."

So I fear that since I am still writing about it and explaining what happened to us that the verdict will be - "see, you haven't moved on."

Well today I have had a revelation of my own heart that has helped me and I hope will help those who lovingly worry about me.

I have moved on!

I have moved on to help others either heal from their own experiences and/or help them out of their present situation by seeing someone else's story or hearing the truth about the spiritual abuse that they are experiencing.

And you know what? I think I 'moved on' very early in this blog - almost from the very beginning. If you read "The Reason for the Blog" on the sidebar of this site you will read that my desire back then was that it would help someone else. Yes, I realize that I also needed healing and a place to vent a bit but honestly the minute I was "out" of the situation I began to want to desperately help others like I had been helped.

So for those who might be worried about me not moving past this issue in my life, please be assured, I have. Yes, there are still stories to be told and even some repentance that I will still need to deal with in my own life. But my point is NOT to rehash this or to have some sort of vengeance on those still in the system.

I've moved from a house called Hurting to a brand new address called Helping.

For anyone who wants to visit me there, please write, call or come and sit on my deck and hopefully we can sort out together what Father's heart is for all of this. You may not move on yourself to "help." But your moving on can be to something that God has called you to do and be involved with.

For me, today, I'm sure for the first time of my "calling."

(Big sigh)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Can't Believe I Once Believed This Stuff!!

I just received a letter from a "prayer warrior" of a leading man in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). It seems that Mr. and Mrs Wagner (I think he refers to himself as the "presiding apostle") have been experiencing some severe health issues. Doris has had knee surgery and it has become repeatedly infected and Peter has some heart issues. My heart truly goes out to these people. I know how scary these kinds of issues are - even to the point they are life threatening. I wish no harm to these folks.

BUT - O MY GOD. The letter that just went out yesterday getting people to pray is so much sadder than their physical conditions. They are essentially calling people to fast and pray for 40 days for the Wagners. No problem there. But the reason for the fasting and praying is this:

"(We) feel strongly that the warfare that is coming against Peter and Doris is a very high level of warfare. Especially, since Peter has been pulled into the public eye concerning the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Consequently, there are pagan websites that are speaking about and against the Wagners and those associated with them and their stance on spiritual warfare. We are also all aware that we are in a season of "demonic high worship/holy days." (emphasis mine)

These people feel that the problems the Wagners are having are directly related to demons and people's curses. What an awful thing to believe. Essentially they are saying that your (our) God is not big enough to protect you (us). We now have to unpack our bag full of charms and trinkets to ward off the evil of these evil people. And just what is a "very high level" even supposed to mean? Can we just make this stuff up? I guess because of the "high position" that Mr. Wagner holds then it takes "high level of warfare" to come against him.

(Funny that I have not read that there may be sin in their lives because this is the accusation that many make against those outside of their group when we get sick or are in financial trouble. Did Peter and Doris repent of anything they could think of before they allowed hundreds of people to go without their breakfast for the 40 days? Or maybe they are out from under "covering!" That must be it because when we walked out of our last 'church' that is what was promised to us and we know that this "covering" is supposed to keep evil away - Right?)

This woman goes on to say :

It is obvious that we need to increase intercession for the Wagners during this crucial time. As the word of God clearly shares, "This kind will only come out by prayer and fasting."

So she takes a phrase out of the Bible (which I might add is disputed to be in the very original text itself) of Jesus casting out a demon that his followers were not having any luck with and applies it to this situation. Again, OMG!!

So they call as many people as can possible be rounded up (because we all know it is the numbers that will overcome this evil that has beset the Wagners) to pray against the demons that they have - or are being allowed to afflict them - or are in their general vicinity. At least the ones sent by those very evil pagans and their very evil pagan websites. See I told you we needed to rule and reign on those 7 mountains so our leaders can live a life of true health till they pass on into eternity through a non-sickness or non-accidental caused death.

Now I have been a bit tongue-in-cheek about this but truly I am aghast at what I used to live under, participate in and even teach. We have been called OUT OF FEAR based living. Where there is love there is no fear. Quit fearing the enemy that has been defeated and only has a hold on you if you believe his lies.

Pray for the Wagners - Yes. I believe in prayer. I believe in healing. But leave all the witchcraft to the "pagans" that you think are so evil. And while you are praying for the healing of Doris' knee and Peter's heart would you also pray that they and their followers quit living in fear and find the faith in the Father's care for them.

Jesus won didn't he? Can we act like it?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Bitterness - The Scarlet Letter of Silence

Have you ever been labeled "Bitter?" So many of us coming from bad situations fear that we will either sound bitter or wonder if there is any bitterness left in our hearts for those who have either wittingly or unwittingly hurt us.

The idea seems to be this - If you are bitter or sound bitter than you can be easily dismissed, not listened to or your story voided and cast aside. Only the ones who are not "bitter" are allowed to speak. (Sadly, this ends up to be all who are speaking!)

But can you imagine sitting in a court of law. Someone is giving a testimony on the witness stand and the judge looks at them and says, "Strike this man's testimony! He sounds bitter!"

Or can you imagine people in Jesus' day telling him, "Pay no attention to that crazy man yelling at the Pharisees! He sounds bitter!"

How about telling a verbally abused wife or daughter to be silent because they just sound bitter?

The truth is that any time you give an account of a wrong done either to you or to others you can sound bitter.

So many of us have never said anything because we might sound bitter or are afraid that someone might perceive us as bitter. Therefore stories go untold and the perpetrators of the abuse are allowed to continue on with us standing on the sidelines with what amounts to the Christian scarlet letter pasted to our foreheads.

Just being bitter does not change your testimony from valid to non-valid. Being bitter does not change the truth of the matter.

Bitterness is a heart issue. Someone can "sound" bitter and not have a bitter issue at all. Maybe they just sound angry. Bitterness is an internal thing. Truly only the person and God can sort this one out. Let's stop judging each other and let the Holy Spirit do his job.

The bad thing is we don't even have to have an enemy to wear the label. Often the very ones we are trying to help give it to us. Or for my own part I have to battle back the voices in my head that tell my own heart that I just might be bitter somewhere that I don't realize it.

Well today, I'm done. I've asked the Holy Spirit to show me where there is any bitterness. He has said nothing. I am so willing to repent if I need to but I see nothing. Therefore I am going to be free in telling my story as he wants me to share it and to urge others to tell theirs.

When you tell your story you have every right to be angry (you might even SOUND bitter!). When you hear someone else's story you are allowed to be angry! In fact if you are not angry then something in your heart is broken. Christians have for too long been silenced by this "Bitter slinging."

I'm asking that you deal with your own heart before God and then speak. Don't be silent because you must might somewhere, somehow, in some dark place that you can't see be bitter or angry or be perceived as such. It is not worth watching the ruin any longer.

Here is a post from someone who says this much better than I could every say it. The Bitterness Phenomenon

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Losing Your Destiny

The biggest scare tactic that this church will throw at you if you even think of leaving their ranks is that of "losing your destiny." (A quick look at the latest sermon topics will reveal their last one preached in September.

Let's talk about that for a minute.

People who believe that it is possible to lose their destiny tend to agree to a few things. 1) That you were created by God for a purpose in this life. 2) That God has a "primary" plan for your life for which you were created, and 3) it is possible to either throw this plan away or somehow miss it and therefore lose the destiny that God created for you. (Note - I no longer believe this way because it stems from the Old Testament law and stories and ignores the cross - but that is another post)

Now, it sounds very scary to any believer who values loving God to think that they will get to heaven and find out that the very thing that God created them for has been lost, stolen or thrown away. It carries great significance with it. It carries the idea that God will (at least) be mad at you, and for some even hints that you may even lose your salvation.

My biggest question when I left this 'church' was this very question. Will I, or am I, walking away from or losing my destiny.

Well yes. I did. But wait. If, by losing my destiny you are referring to being able to do anything further with this group - then, I certainly lost my "destiny" there at that establishment. No longer would my destiny be to champion their ideals, pay for their ideals or give free labor to support their ideals. And in that sense, and only that sense, did I lose my "destiny" with those who are still there.

BUT if you are referring to my destiny in Jesus - my destiny that has been planned for me from the beginning of time - then NO! I have not!

I was destined to be loved by God. I was destined to love my husband, my children and my family. I was destined to love those who I am in contact day to day. I was destined to do the works of salvation. But even saying that, my destiny is tied up - not in my ability to walk perfectly - but in the very nature of who God is. He holds my destiny - Not some church or some apostle, pastor or prophet or some group of friends - God. And only He gets to decide if I have lost it! No man - Apostle or not- can declare that you have lost it. When a man holds that power and uses it to threaten you, it is Spiritual Abuse in its rawest form.

Let me assure you that mine and all others who have walked away because we finally could no longer stomach the abuse of either ourselves or other people have our destinies fully intact and flourishing. You won't lose yours either.

You might just understand for the first time what it really is though and that is simply too wonderful to "miss."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Leaving a House of 16 years

The other day I packed up my home in State College. Through the packing phase, I really did not feel much. I knew I would miss things about the house but there was no strong feeling one way or the other about leaving it.

Leaving friends was one thing. At least I did feel strongly that I would miss them. But the house surprised me. I thought I would hate getting rid of it and here I was packing up each room and - nothing.

Until the last night.

I was sitting on the floor of the Front room, folding some last minute laundry when it hit me. But what hit me was not what I expected.

I felt I was in a movie or a TV show or something like that where there is time lapse photography. The one where you are in a room and it shows you over time people coming and going and interacting. Sometimes I could replay a scene, other times it was only a snapshot. But the memories I had were strange ones. What came back to me that night was almost magical and spiritual rolled into one. I did not dredge these up as you can do if you try. These just flashed before me as if I had no control over which ones to choose. Some memories were sad, others were happy. Some made my heart hurt and some encouraged me.

For those who know me, here were a few.

Eating Ice cream out of the carton on our kitchen floor with all the girls and - in this one picture in my head - with Carla and Krysti.

Standing outside the back door and asking Julie if she would like to stay in our home until she and Mark could get married.

Taking wall paper off the walls with Scott when we first moved in.

Arguing with Bina over what she was wearing on the stairs leading to the front door. (Sorry Bina - that is just what came to me at the moment)

Seeing again, all the wonderful people and my family around me in the upstairs bedroom when Nathan was born. Seeing the look in Bailey's eyes as she watched the miracle.

Sitting in the rocker in Nathan's room when I felt God tell me about Josh.

Seeing the front room packed with students eating, laughing.

Sitting in front of the fireplace with Kerri.

A snapshot of Scott and Carla as they came over after the Antioch meeting about us. Carla sitting on the footstool with Scott behind her.

John Kelly sitting in the corner chair of our living room. (not one of my favorite for sure :)

Bob Bradbury sitting on the hearth praying for Nathan

Bethy on the rooftop watching the stars and another of her sitting in one of the blue chairs with Christian, all snuggled up.

Laughing with Britty and Carla in the kitchen about something.

Seeing someone's car parked in the MIDDLE of the driveway! (Marshall horrors) :)

Anyway, you get the picture I hope. Here was a house that had many memories buried in it. Memories I was able to share in as it opened the floodgates to me.

I loved that last evening in my house. Thanks House for the memories and all the good times and bad that made up our life there.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hernando Beach

As promised, I will update you on our lives.
Last year, if yout might remember, we decided to spend a week in Florida to see if we really liked it as much as we thought we remembered. Well, we did. We did not mind the heat or the bugs. (we came in July so as to have the full effect of both :) When we got home we put the house on the market.
Anyone who knows real estate will know that the market is depressed most anywhere you look. State College was not exception. Our house went on the market for a good $100,000 less than what we had been told it was worth a few years before. Still, even at the reduced price it was hardly seen.
Knowing that we really needed/wanted to leave we decided to put it up for rent. Fortunately, in our area (a college town) it rented quickly. I had a crash course learning how to remotely control the computer and phones in the office and put everything scanned onto the computer. We devised all new systems and with the help of my fantasic employees, I was able to work remotely. I love the day and age we live in. 10 years ago this would not have been possible.
Meanwhile Marsh had had his eye on rentals down here in Hernando Beach. He found one in April that sounded too good to be true. A canal house just off the gulf. It would be small but we wanted to see it. We flew down (missing a dear friends' wedding) and scooped it up. I walked into the place and almost pleaded with the realator to let us live here. I almost thought that it had to be some sort of scam (posted on Craigs list, not really sure who the owner was, etc) but we got here and "Too good to be True" became reality.
Every night I walk across the street and breathe in the Gulf air as I watch the sun set. Most night I have my husband at my side. Some nights we persuade the boys to come with us with all their noise and laughter.
Bad parts of being here? The only bad part is not being able to bring my friends from State College. I miss them. Dearly.
Good parts?
- I look out my window and see palm trees.
- The smell of the Gulf heals my heart.
- I get to have both a vacation place and a place of work. Anytime I go on vacation I am always ready to get home and do something productive. Here I have that AND watch the sun set each night. This has been the best thing!
- The sky is so very big. I actually feel like God is closer somehow. I know that is crazy but I have felt like my prayers might really be being heard.
- Did I mention the smell. My kids think I'm crazy. But it really does something to me.
- I can go into any store in town and not be braced to see someone who won't speak to me or look at me. That has been such a freeing feeling.
Marshall stopped by a church the other day. A storefront with a sign. As he looked at it a guy in a van that said it serviced pools stopped by to say hi. Turned out he was the pastor although grudgingly it seemed. Said he never wanted to be the pastor but the old pastor died and so he "got elected" The more he and Marsh talked the funnier it got. Seems it might be something we want to explore at least. Who knows.
Anyway, Who knows. We are here and we love it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Sad Picture

So much has happened. I'll spend some time at my computer and update anyone who is still plugged in here. Short version, we have moved.

The group we belonged to has moved out of the building we loved and prayed over. There were so many prophetic words over this place.

No one to line up around the block to see what God was doing.
No one to have their lives radically changed in the building
No great influx of money which would enable us to buy the building.
No great tidal wave of God's glory sweeping down the street.
No great movement of the Holy Spirit.
No great revival of the town or the University.

Now the building just sells pizza and rugs.

It is sad. Heartbreaking really.