How Satan Works

zchurchstorm.jpg

 

Be sober, be vigilant; because[c] your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may[d] the God of all grace, who called us[e] to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.  (1 Peter 5:8-11)

The overriding means by which Satan works is described in Scripture. He prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy.

Prowling suggests stealth and predation. He is looking for those who are the weakest so that he may devour them.

A roaring lion is declaring his territory. We know that demons or fallen angels have their own geographical areas over which they have been given authority. Their authority however is limited to the demonic realm. They can influence and affect human beings and also enter into them and control them and in this way they have power over what humans do. Most heinous crimes are not committed by human beings on their own, they are willing accomplices to demonic plans and purposes. Sometimes this happens without their knowledge but never without their consent. I am not talking about Satan worshippers, I am talking about ordinary human beings who willingly engage in sin which opens the door to the demonic realm and creates strongholds which then turn into gateways for demonic beings and their associates to come in and take hold of that human being. And the last state of the man is worse than the first.

Satan told Jesus Christ that he could give Him the kingdoms of the earth if He fell down and worshipped him. The absolute arrogance and foolishness of this statement proves that Satan himself is deceived. He is deluded, he is insane. He was in eternity before the throne of God leading the worship of God, and here he is demanding that Jesus worship him. Mostly of course his methods are not this direct and confrontational. I have heard stories of believers who have met with Satan in this kind of way, but they are few and far between. Usually we have to deal with subtle or else not so subtle attacks.

So Satan is about stealing that which does not belong to him. He is about murdering, or taking life and he is about destroying. He not only destroys and kills those who are under his power, he destroys and kills Christians, as the many thousands of martyrs over the centuries will attest to. I don’t believe Satan has been given power over the church in the way that he will have over the saints during the Tribulation for example. I think those who have been killed as martyrs for the faith were a small percentage of the church and those ones will receive a greater reward for their suffering in heaven. I think causing death is probably not something God allows for every Christian, only those who are appointed to it as the apostles and others were. On the whole, Satan wishes to destroy but is thwarted by God as in the case of Job. There are many other examples of believers who have been saved from death by angels or just circumstances which change. I have read many stories of those who were saved from certain death simply by listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit and changing their travel plans for example.

Following are ten methods which I have found in my own life and the lives of others I have known that Satan uses to steal, kill and destroy the work of God and the people of God. This list is by no means exhaustive, but I thought it was kind of fun to be alliterative. Please add your own entries to the list in the comments section. I would love to hear from you.

Deception – either counterfeiting that which is of God or changing the gospel so that the power of God’s word is void because the Word which was brought by Jesus and the apostles is not being taught. Scripture tells us that the power of the Word of God is unto salvation. This is not possible if the actual word of God is not being taught.

For example, if it is taught that Jesus is not the Son of God, or God himself, and simply a ‘good teacher’, and there is some other way of entering heaven, or finding God the creator/father, then this is a false gospel. It has no power, except to deceive, and deception as the means Satan uses to enslave human beings is extremely powerful.

Jesus told his disciples to be careful that they would not be deceived.

Discouragement – causing doubt and fear to come upon the believer

Despair – causing the believer to cease believing

Dismemberment – attempting to pull apart anything that is knit together, such as families, marriages or congregations

Devolution – attempting to cause the work of God to go backward to its original state or cease to exist

Derangement – attempting to cause the work of God to be disjointed or to cease working in a way which brings glory to God

Dissolution – attempting to dissolve groups or communities completely so they no longer exist as such

Disunity – creating discord and ill feeling amongst the body of Christ

Distraction – causing individual believers or groups to lose focus on what God has called them to do, usually with the things of the world. The things of the world are designed to distract us from the things of God.

Deadly Sins – Causing the believer to be overwhelmed with the weight of sin and causing them to be so filled with doubt that they do not come to Jesus to be washed and forgiven.

False Teachers are Abusers of the Brethren

 

zspiritual abuse

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. (2 Timothy 3)

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality,[c] wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving,[d] unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32)

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. …(2 Peter 2)

Whoever transgresses[d] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. ( 2 John 1:9-11)

 

11. By wishing a false brother or teacher “God (or ‘good’) speed,” you imply that he is capable as such of good speed and joy (the literal meaning of the Greek), and that you wish him it while opposing Christ; so you identify yourself with “his evil deeds.” The Greek of “partaker” is “having communion with.” We cannot have communion with saints and with Antichrist at the same time. Here we see John’s naturally fiery zeal directed to a right end. Polycarp, the disciple of John, told contemporaries of Irenæus, who narrates the story on their authority, that on one occasion when John was about to bathe, and heard that Cerinthus, the heretic, was within, he retired with abhorrence, exclaiming, Surely the house will fall in ruins since the enemy of the truth is there. (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary)

 

Is there anyone who has ever been deceived by a false teacher or abused by a false Christian  who is not convinced that deception and abuse go hand in hand?

Scriptures make it very clear that false teachers are not just those who have simply misread scripture or are well-intentioned but wrong.  I can’t find anywhere in the New Testament where either Jesus or the apostles thought about false teachers in this manner.  I don’t see Peter, Paul or John excusing the teaching or the teachers because of ignorance or immaturity.  There were those in Scripture like Peter and Apollos who were ignorant or misled but who were also able to be reasoned with by more mature Christians and who changed their teaching as a result of an appeal. There was no doubt that these men were brothers because of their love and humility.  But I fail to find anywhere that genuine brothers and sisters in Christ were also teachers of false doctrines.  It seems that Scripture makes it clear that if you teach a false doctrine, you are also a person of unsound character and are in fact wicked, cursed and to be shunned. In fact, false teachers are cursed by Paul in Galatians 1 and cursed by Peter in the second chapter of his second letter.  John says don’t even greet them, Paul tells Timothy to turn away from them. Teaching false doctrine and being deceptive, abusive and leading others astray go hand in glove, make no mistake about it.

I don’t believe that we are to show any leniency to those who prove both by their inability to be reasoned with and their false teaching that they are reprobates.  They may present themselves as very charming reprobates, but God does not look at the outward appearance but upon their hearts.  The hearts of false teachers are rebellious, unable to love the brethren or God and while they may boast of their love for others and their good deeds before men, Christ will say to them ‘depart from me’.  God has no part with false teachers and we are encouraged by the writers of the New Testament to do likewise.  It seems unkind and almost wrong to do this.  It is undoubtedly hard to do this.  Any genuine believer has compassion and concern for those who are headed to hell, but false teachers it seems fall into a separate category. They are evil, we are to turn away from them.  How is this possible, when so many of them seem simply to be just making an error in judgement.  Can’t we just reason with them and help them to see their mistake?

I would encourage you to do this very thing. You can’t know immediately what kind of character a person has simply by hearing their preaching, or by knowing who they follow or endorse.  There can be brothers and sisters in Christ who follow false teachers without realising the teachings are false simply through immaturity.  Go to those ones, reason with them, contend for the faith, point out the error, plead and encourage, and if you have won your brother, their souls are saved.  If on the other hand, you are ignored, mocked, verbally abused or shunned because you have tried to help them see their error, you will know immediately of what type these Christians are.  They have not just become deceived, but they have ‘drunk the koolaide’.  This term is a reference to the Jonestown massacre in the People’s Temple Agricultural Project commune in Guyana.  It is called Jonestown after the cult leader Jim Jones who had gone from teaching the Word in California to a perverted form of “Apostolic Socialism” in Africa and was using drugs and spreading paranoia and hate in his cult group caused his people to take poison.

Over 900 Americans, who had followed Jones to Africa died in this massacre and it is rumoured that the poison was placed in koolaide so that the people, a third of whom were minors, would drink it.  It is not the only and won’t be the last traumatic final act of madmen who begin by preaching scripture, lurch into false teaching and end up mass murderers.  Not every false teacher is a murderer but I can think of many who are even now lauded as fine theologians.  John Calvin murdered  believers who refused to accept his teachings.  If he had done something like that today he would be in jail or worse.  Yet, because these teachers are historical figures Christians ignore their characters and their obvious lack of love for the brethren who don’t agree with them or try and reason with them to see the error of their ways, they are treated as great men. Obviously Jim Jones is not a great man, but he did not begin a denomination.  It is amazing how many people will follow an obvious lunatic or abuser.  Look at the many who follow L. Ron Hubbard’s teachings of Scientology.  All you have to do is read their histories to see what kind of people they were, moreover, the types of circles they moved in.  Read this excerpt of another article which describes Hubbard’s known associates and you will see what I mean.

But not every false teacher or false Christian keeps such company.  Not everyone appears to be evil or insane or leads others to their physical deaths.  Satan can appear as an angel of light and false teachers are known for their ability to deceive and ‘bewitch’. Even the apostle Paul was concerned about the believers in Galatia who had obviously been led astray by a false teacher.

In all my readings of the New Testament, especially since we left the cult, I have seen that just about every author, including Jesus, warns believers not to be deceived and to watch out for false teachers. Satan was the first false teacher, in the garden of Eden. His words to Eve were “Has God really said?”.  This is the first and foremost rule of false teaching.  Create doubt in the Word of God, even if at first it is a small doubt (in the authenticity of the translation perhaps), and then build on that doubt with your own version of the truth.  You will find false teachers will always start out with the truth, but then they either add to, take away from, or outright change the words of the Bible, or the meaning of those words. Deceivers will always involve themselves in a ‘bait and switch’. They will make  you think they are Christians, and preaching the gospel, and then they will have different meanings for the words you take for granted. Even the term ‘gospel’ means different things to different Christians.

This alone makes the false teacher an abuser of the brethren.  You cannot love the body of Christ and be loose with the word of God.  If you understand the power of the Word, and for this you must have experienced it for yourself, then you will not wish any to be deprived of the experience or understanding of it. A true believer must be transformed, there has to be a testimony of the Cross of Jesus Christ and its work in their lives.  Then when they know the power of the gospel, they will not want to ever teach or preach another way.  This is the essence of becoming a born-again believer.  You know who your saviour is, and you know because ‘the Bible told me so’.  You will know the Bible told you because somebody else explained it to you.  A true teacher will preach the Word of God, a false teacher will teach something else. This something else will not have the power of the Word to change lives, and they will only look different, they will not actually be different.

Thus any false teaching leads believers and unbelievers astray, hence the warnings.  If you are leading believers astray you are abusing your position as teacher, which means you are also abusing those you are teaching.  It doesn’t have to be overt or physical abuse, but look how many times those who have started with spiritual abuse ended up caught in adultery or other sins.

We are to be on the lookout for false teachers.  Unfortuntaely, most of the church is asleep.

We need to wake up.

Jesus’ return is immanent.

Get right with God, start reading scripture on a daily basis, and be fed with the Word.

 

zchurchmeme.jpg

 

 

 

 

Searching For The Body

zjesustomb.png

Mark 5 (New King James)

36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 37 And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. 38 Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. 39 When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.”

40 And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. 41 Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement. 43 But He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat.

John 11 (New King James)

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”

When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”

a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

Luke 24

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them,[a] came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly[b] perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!

Have you ever noticed how many bodies are spoken of in the New Testament?

There is of course the literal body of Christ. We know that Jesus’ body was laid in a tomb, but on the third day, when Mary and the others went to the garden, the Angel asked why they look for the living among the dead. It must have been a wonderful and joyful shock to know that He whom they loved and had mourned for was now alive.

Then there is the body of Christ which is the body of believers both past present and future. We who believe, love and obey the Lord Jesus Christ are the temples of His Holy Spirit, and belong to Him. We are the ones Paul mentioned when he talked about each of us being members of one another (Romans 12), and that no member of the body can say to another ‘we have no need of you’. (1 Corinthians 12).

In both cases, the body of Jesus is a living and breathing being. It is not dead. The Spirit of God dwells in each believer and causes his once dead spirit to become alive to the mind of Christ, to the will of the Father and to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

There are of course other bodies.

The bodies of Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus.

It’s really interesting that both in the case of Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus, Jesus mentioned that these were not bodies, but they were people who were merely asleep. Nobody believed Him of course. They laughed at him in the case of Jairus’ daughter. But Jesus knew what he was talking about. A sleeper is someone who is in fact still alive. They are unconscious to the world around them and will shortly wake up and once again be ‘alive’ to the world. Dead people and sleeping people have much in common bar one important distinction. Dead people do not wake up.

Spiritually speaking, the dead are not ‘awake’ to the reality of God. ‘Let the dead bury the dead’ said Jesus to the young man who wanted to follow him. In other words, those who are not willing to follow Jesus, who do not come to Him and look to Him for salvation are dead to the kingdom of God. We who are alive in our spirits are no longer dead. So, those who believe in Jesus, those like the woman with the issue of blood, Jairus and his daughter, Mary, Martha and Lazarus do not die, they merely sleep. Paul also referred to those believers who sleep in 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians.

Interestingly, in both the case of Jairus and Lazarus, Jesus delayed his coming. He saw the faith of those who asked him to heal, but he knew that in both cases it was God’s will that instead of a healing there should be a raising of the body to the glory of God. Many didn’t believe that he could raise a dead body. There were not just cautions from people who cared about Him, “Lord he has been dead four days”, but there was mocking laughter from those who thought Jesus was a bit loopy. Jesus answer to the mocking was to ‘put them all outside”. He removed the mockers and spoke to the family. This was their home. This was their daughter and he spoke with compassion and concern. After he raised their daughter to life, he told them to feed her. I think this is also significant. A body which has recently died and then resurrected needs nourishment and care in order to continue living. Jesus did not raise this little girl to see her fail from lack of food. The parents were probably so overjoyed that they forgot about the practical things. She had probably not eaten for days due to the sickness, and now here she was pulsing with new life, and ready to partake of the energy and goodness which sustenance gives us.

I find it really poignant that in this chapter, Jesus heals a woman with a flow of blood and who has a deep faith that even touching his garment will heal her. She had life flowing from her, for life is in the blood, yet her faith moved her to seek out Jesus, even after he had been summoned by somebody else for the healing of someone probably much more severely affected. This lady didn’t want to draw attention to herself, probably because she would have been unclean and she didn’t want Jesus to have to touch her and thereby become unclean himself. What she didn’t know was that Jesus would not have been unclean from touching her and it was her faith which drew power from Him in order that she should be healed. This is a beautiful picture of weakness and impoverishment from illness which is wonderfully healed by Jesus without even his conscious partaking in it. It was her faith which made her whole.

Later, He looks for faith from Jairus’ family in order that he might be able to raise their daughter from the dead. In my opinion faith is sorely needed in the church today.

The church in this country is sick and dying. It has an issue of blood. It is not only weakened by this flow of life, but it is unclean because of this flow, and it needs to come to Jesus in faith and be healed. Like the Jairus family, the church also needs to be regenerated.

We have been searching for the body of Christ for some time. He was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit. He now sits at the throne of the Father, but his body, we, the sheep of His pasture, are all of us going our own way. We not only need to return to the lover of our souls and the good shepherd, but we need his resurrection power to return us to the place of true and genuine commitment to each other and to the ministry of the Holy Spirit through each and every one of us, that’s men women and children, in and through us.

The women of the body need to step out in their Spirit giftings. They need to know they are accepted as equals by their brothers, so that they may be able to preach the gospel, share what God has given them with the rest of the body and not tethered to the traditions of men and religion and forbidden with sour and bitter remonstrations not to preach or teach because Jesus doesn’t allow it.

Since when does Jesus not allow his sisters in the Lord to walk in the Spirit, to hear the voice of God and to speak the word which they hear in their hearts? If those words happen to be words of encouragement, prophecy, wisdom, teaching or edification, then such is the will of the Holy Spirit and he should not be blocked, or He will be offended. If a woman has a heart for the body of a carer and a helper, should she be stopped because of her sex and made to sit in the pews and wait while another more acceptable, male, member of the body do the ministering? None of this even makes sense!!

No, the body of Christ is less than what it is meant to be. Mainly because of the headstrong stubborn and wicked hearts of human beings who prefer to remain bound in their own doctrines and religious traditions. We are all one in Christ!!! The body is all around us, yet she is ill and needs to be not only healed, but risen from the dead!

The Red Queen’s Race

 

red queen.jpg

“Now! Now!” cried the Queen. “Faster! Faster!” And they went so fast that at last they seemed to skim through the air, hardly touching the ground with their feet, till suddenly, just as Alice was getting quite exhausted, they stopped, and she found herself sitting on the ground, breathless and giddy. The Queen propped her against a tree, and said kindly, “You may rest a little now.”

Alice looked round her in great surprise. “Why, I do believe we’ve been under this tree all the time! Everything’s just as it was!”   “Of course it is,” said the Queen: “what would you have it?”   “Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you ran very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

“I’d rather not try, please!” said Alice. “I’m quite content to stay here — only I am so hot and thirsty! ”

“I know what you’d like!” the Queen said good-naturedly, taking a little box out of her pocket, “Have a biscuit?” Alice thought it would not be civil to say “No,” though it wasn’t at all what she wanted. So she took it, and ate it as well as she could: and it was very dry; and she thought she had never been so nearly choked in all her life.

“While you’re refreshing yourself,” said the Queen, “I’ll just take the measurements.” And she took a ribbon out of her pocket, marked in inches, and began measuring out the ground, and sticking little pegs in here and there.

“At the end of two yards,” she said, putting in a peg to mark the distance, “I shall give you your directions — have another biscuit?”

“No, thank you,” said Alice: “one’s quite enough!”

“Thirst quenched, I hope?” said the Queen. (Source)

I remember reading “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, and “Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll as a child. I didn’t actually enjoy them that much, perhaps it was the ugly surrealism of the Tennyson illustrations, perhaps it was the vaguely emotionally disturbing conversations and characters. Everyone seemed either haughty, irrational, arbitrary, vicious, abusive or just plain stupid. Perhaps this is the way Carroll wanted his readers to feel, I haven’t spent much time reading about the author. They never seemed to be proper children’s books to me. .

I have thought more recently however, that these stories didn’t gel with me as a child, because I actually lived in my own ‘Looking Glass’ world. The Queen of Hearts was like my mother, indomitable, malevolent and ultimately inescapable. When you live with a malignant narcissist, you live like Alice every day of your life, trying hard not to rock the boat or offend anyone, but failing anyway. Alice spent a lot of time trying to understand the characters which inhabited her dreams, or her mirror, and in both stories, she seemed to be quite literally, the pawn, moved around the board at the whim of the other more powerful characters.

Reading this excerpt again, I realized that the topsy-turvy world of the Red Queen was very similar to the world of the cult. It was a natural progression for me to move from the restrictions of an abusive family, to the restrictions of an abusive religious regime. I saw many similarities between the narcissistic household I grew up in, and the environment of the cult. Again, you are at the mercy of those whose authority and position are unquestioned. Running as fast as you can in order to stay in one place, and being given dry biscuits to quench your thirst are only two of the paradoxes which you live with. In the cult, you had to work as hard as you could just to survive, and if anyone wanted to rise in the ranks of the leadership, you had to ‘run at least as twice as fast’ to get anywhere. When you had a need, you were not given anything to fill that need, in fact you were given the opposite. For example, when you went to the elders for comfort and support, more often than not you came away with condemnation, shame, guilt and anxiety. Don’t ask these men for a fish, because they will give you a snake.

“He must first be able to willingly receive and express shame when conviction comes. He must be able to blush as he owns the humiliation” (‘Dealing with Shame’ by Graham Pomery April 29th 1998)

This is just one example of the eternal paradox of living with narcissistic leadership. They don’t want you to just confess your sins to them, they want you to squirm and suffer. They don’t offer you comfort and encouragement, but further condemnation. Again, not an egg, but a scorpion (Luke 11:12). Not something to nourish and fill you, but something to poison and damage you. Never mind that there is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). I would suggest that people who are confessing sin are not walking according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Therefore, they would be receiving the comfort of Christ, if those ministering to them were not themselves walking in the flesh.

In a cult, there is no understanding that this world is different to the world outside the looking glass. In a cult, reality is defined by the leaders. There is no world outside the cult to speak of, and if you want to not only stay in one place, but to get ahead, you have to do an awful lot of exhausting running around. When you expressed your needs to the leaders, you were not given anything to help or support you, more often than not, what they gave you was like dry biscuits to a thirsty man. Not only was it the opposite of what you needed, but it was more than likely going to make things worse.

This ‘black is white’ type of existence produces fear, anxiety, confusion, striving to achieve the unachieveable. The goal posts were continually being moved, and then you were blamed for not having noticed. The congregation are kept off-balance so that they are continually questioning their own perceptions. They are expected to understand the notes and papers that they are continually bombarded with, with minimal explanations. This produces further confusion. The Theology of BCF is not clear and readily expressed. You wouldn’t find that many members of the congregation who are able to explain their particular beliefs other than in generalities. ‘I must submit to my husband as head of my family, and then to the elders according to the gospel of headship’ etc. What it ends up being is a reiteration of the jargon people hear on Sunday, or read for home group meetings, or hear others speak in conversation.

The difference between cult members and Alice are that Alice is at least aware that she is being pushed around.

“It was much pleasanter at home, when one wasn’t always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits.” (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

These men are as confident as the Red Queen, or the Queen of Hearts, or perhaps more aptly, the Mad Hatter, when it comes to being right, and Alice, the poor simple newcomer, must agree with their own interpretation of reality, or be pronounced stupid.

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.”The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.”The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master – that’s all.’

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. ‘They’ve a temper, some of them – particularly verbs: they’re the proudest – adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs – however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’

‘Would you tell me, please,’ said Alice, ‘what that means?’

‘Now you talk like a reasonable child,’ said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. ‘I meant by “impenetrability” that we’ve had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you’d mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don’t mean to stop here all the rest of your life.’

‘That’s a great deal to make one word mean,’ Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

‘When I make a word do a lot of work like that,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘I always pay it extra.’

‘Oh!’ said Alice. She was too much puzzled to make any other remark.Source

I used to often feel a vague sense of sickness and nausea that you experience with motion sickness (brought on ironically enough by a disturbance in the equilibrium in your ear which affects your balance). My balance was profoundly affected because it was meant to be.

This sort of behaviour is common amongst narcissists .

She makes you look crazy. If you try to confront her about something she’s done, she’ll tell you that you have “a very vivid imagination” (this is a phrase commonly used by abusers of all sorts to invalidate your experience of their abuse) that you don’t know what you’re talking about, or that she has no idea what you’re talking about. She will claim not to remember even very memorable events, flatly denying they ever happened, nor will she ever acknowledge any possibility that she might have forgotten. This is an extremely aggressive and exceptionally infuriating tactic called “gaslighting,” common to abusers of all kinds. Your perceptions of reality are continually undermined so that you end up without any confidence in your intuition, your memory or your powers of reasoning. This makes you a much better victim for the abuser.

Narcissists gaslight routinely. The narcissist will either insinuate or will tell you outright that you’re unstable, otherwise you wouldn’t believe such ridiculous things or be so uncooperative. You’re oversensitive. You’re imagining things. You’re hysterical. You’re completely unreasonable. You’re over-reacting, like you always do. She’ll talk to you when you’ve calmed down and aren’t so irrational. She may even characterize you as being neurotic or psychotic.

Once she’s constructed these fantasies of your emotional pathologies, she’ll tell others about them, as always, presenting her smears as expressions of concern and declaring her own helpless victimhood. She didn’t do anything. She has no idea why you’re so irrationally angry with her. You’ve hurt her terribly. She thinks you may need psychotherapy. She loves you very much and would do anything to make you happy, but she just doesn’t know what to do. You keep pushing her away when all she wants to do is help you.Source

This quote is regarding narcissistic women, in particular mothers. Having lived with this sort of crazy behaviour, I recognize it in the cult environment. One of the many examples of gaslighting comes when anyone leaves the cult. One particular member, the former wife of one of the elders was forced into a situation where the elders actually tried to prove that she was crazy in court. It failed of course, because she isn’t crazy. But the whole congregation now uses that description freely, because they have been taught to believe it by the leaders. Anyone who is not doing what they want them to do is anything ranging from ‘unsubmitted’, to ‘not of us’, to downright insane. It may work on the congregation.

In their view, antagonists don’t need therapy, they need to come and confess their sins, come back into the fold and be ‘adjusted’ by the leadership. If that sounds disturbingly like men who have lost their tenuous hold on reality think again. They know exactly what they are doing.

 

Last Post from Old Blog

I should clarify that this is the last post from the blog ‘Tales from the Crypt’…

You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.(A quote from A.A. Milne)

This will be my last post for this blog.

I have spent the best part of the last twelve months on the internet, using my energy, my left brain, my focus and my drive to say what I have needed to say. It has by no means been an easy task.

I started this blog in fear and trepidation, not knowing what would become of it or me. I needed to speak out, I needed to know others were hearing me, and I have accomplished that aim. I wanted to document my journey for others, because when I first came out of BCF, there was nothing on the internet, and that was distressing, because it made me think I was the only one suffering the way I was. Now, of course, we all know that none of us are alone.

The ABC has done a fine job giving our cause the publicity it has so badly needed for so long, and others are also becoming vocal so it seems that further comment from me is no longer necessary.

I appreciate all those who have read here, and stopped for long enough to find out what was going on. I appreciate those who have been regulars and stayed to encourage and support, it has been invaluable.

Abuse, at any level, is very difficult to fight. Abusers don’t look like Hannibal Lecter. They are personable, helpful, easy to trust, good at what they do. They often win medals and awards in their chosen profession and are commonly public figures, with impeccable reputations (thanks to their spin doctors). So if you are going to speak up about abuse from a ‘respectable’ member of society, you had better be sure to have some watertight evidence, and a very large group of supporters to help you over the rough patches. We all know that this is rarely the case for abuse victims. Mostly they are just solitary courageous persons who are ‘angry as hell and aren’t going to take it any more’. Hence the difficulty.

I saw an interview recently with Frank Abagnale Jnr, the famous confidence trickster and con-man who lived a lie for years in America. His was the main character from the movie ‘Catch me if You Can’, with Tom Hanks. He must have been some kind of a genius, he was able to pass himself off as a doctor, a lawyer, and an airline pilot and nobody EVER questioned him. Finally, after many years he was caught, and served a prison sentence. He then worked for the FBI helping them catch other fraudsters. How is it that he was able to fool everyone, including the professionals? He was obviously a very friendly, confident man who presented a likeable and trustworthy façade. He was just as obviously a psychopath. He had no conscience, no boundaries, and he did what he did because he could. His criminal career started in adolescence, as many psychopath’s careers do, conning even his parents.

Admittedly this happened in the sixties when people were generally much more trusting and the checks and balances which occur now in professional environments did not then exist. Even today though, there is ample evidence to suggest that most of us have no idea that psychopaths roam our planet in the form of nice everyday people. They look like us, they sound like us, the only difference is that they are players. They do what they do in order to take what they need from you, and if making themselves ‘fit in’ works, they will do that. Psychopaths and other types of abusers are predators.

Generally, abusers ensconce themselves in places nobody would suspect them to be. As a society, we tend to trust our teachers, doctors and pastors. We have to. We are handing ourselves and our families over to their care on a daily basis. But there is more than just a need for trust, many people trust willingly because it is in their nature.

From what I have observed, our tendency to trust easily can also come from environmental factors. You may have had a childhood where you were greatly loved by your family and friends and learned that the world is a good place with helpful kind people. Alternatively, you may have had a childhood of abuse, where your survival depended upon doing as you were told, avoiding trouble and never questioning authority. A childhood of this sort trains you up to become fair game for further abuse as an adult. Cults are full of adults who were taught as children that abuse is normal, that their opinions don’t count and that their own perceptions and feelings are wrong. They have learned to be helpless. They have learned that there really is no point in trying to change the status quo because you are always wrong and it doesn’t really matter anyway. This would have to be the saddest human condition possible, and it is so readily changed because it is based on a lie. When people discover the truth for themselves and finally get their heads around it, the revolution begins.

For every man, woman and child who despairs, I believe there is hope. I have been in that pit, wanting to die, too afraid to end my life because I had three small children and an unshakeable belief that my life was not my own. I also had an inexplicable something deep within my core which was stronger than death.. I still had hope in the midst of terror and anguish. How can that be? Others have asked me the same question and I can tell you the answer with confidence. God helped me. He does not abandon us EVER. Our feelings overwhelm us, our thoughts lie to us, but our feelings and thoughts change, they diminish and pass. We can reach beyond the walls of our own minds. The Holy Spirit, whose power is certainly never made any less, even by evil men, remains ever vigilant, and he will speak to us and enable us to move past our pain. I have experienced this, and so have many others.

I have read as much as I can on psychological disorders, abuse, family dynamics, church history, church government, and biblical interpretation. I still believe fervently that knowledge is power, and when you have been stripped of all outside information for most of your life, knowledge becomes very powerful indeed.

I know now exactly what happened to me and why. I know that wholeness and co-dependency cannot co-exist. I use the term co-dependency to mean a type of existence where you are literally enmeshed with somebody else or a group of somebodies to the point that you cannot live an independent life. Every decision you make must be checked with them first, every thought you have revolves around them, you worry constantly that you are going to upset them, so your actions are weighed always with the other person’s comfort in mind. In extreme cases, as in the situation of a cult, your thoughts are their thoughts, your ways are their ways, and your life belongs to them. This goes beyond trust, and enters the realm of brainwashing. Independent thought and action become sin. Not only that, but the leaders of the cult, the other half of the co-dependence equation, delight in the subservience of their congregation members and will go to great lengths to keep the status quo. It is in their best interests to have you co-dependent, not yours.

This goes against everything I believe to be true of Christ and our relationship with him. God gave us independent thought, and he also gave us the ability to choose. Not only that but he delights in us, and in our lives, watching as we use our intelligence and our experience to make both wise and foolish choices. It is his pleasure to allow us to come to our heavenly Father, ask for his help and receive his forgiveness when we fail. This is a relationship which is not only enhanced by our ability to freely choose, but it absolutely depends upon it.

I still have a huge amount to learn, and I will continue healing. I will always walk with a limp I think, but that’s fine. I can at least accept that now with peace instead of rage. The rage was important, but I am glad it is finally passing. I need to live in peace.

Ah yes peace.

Romans 12:18 says “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live in peace with all people”  I had an interesting thought about that verse today as I was thinking how to write this post. I suddenly realized….when Paul said, be at peace with all men, he wasn’t saying ‘be nice to all men’. He was saying do whatever you can do, if possible, to live in peace with yourself and others. That little ‘if possible’ phrase in there is a life-saver. It stops all those religious busy-bodies who want to make you feel ashamed because you are angry about something someone else did. It also stops us feeling guilty when we don’t get on with everybody at church, everybody in the family, or everybody at work. It means that there will be times when it isn’t possible to be at peace, and hopefully, says Paul, it won’t be your fault. Repent where you are wrong, but if you can’t have peace with all men, God won’t hold it against you.

If you encounter contentious abusive people and you know you will never have a moment’s peace with them, get away from them. Avoiding entanglement with destructive people has to be the most peaceable thing you can do. Self-protection and the protection of your children, is a God-given right, and a natural instinct. I am not a member of the gun lobby by the way. I am talking about non-violent protection.

Being at peace with others is pro-active. A lot of what passes for ‘nice Christian behaviour’ is in essence simply passive-aggression. If you ask someone to do something, and they have no intention of doing it, but they say yes, and then avoid you for weeks, that is passive-aggression. Christians are good at this because we think it makes us look like peace-keepers, when in fact we are just being cowardly. We don’t want to say no, because we are afraid others won’t like us. We don’t like confronting others, so we avoid them.

I have to say that I learned the hard way that recognizing your boundaries, saying no to abuse, talking to someone when they have offended you, making a clear statement of what you will and won’t do and sticking to it, and refusing to play mind-games with people who haven’t learned all of the above makes for a not so peaceable life. We think that keeping the peace and speaking ‘little white lies’ are synonymous. The only thing lying of any colour is synonymous with is high blood pressure. How in God’s name have we reached such an impasse?

I get myself into trouble regularly because I won’t accept the following excuses for bad behaviour……(note: any number of these excuses can be used together, or all at once)

  1. a) They aren’t like that all the time
  2. b) They are only like that with you
  3. c) They didn’t really mean it
  4. d) You don’t really understand them
  5. e) You are just being difficult
  6. f) You must have a problem with them (do you think?)
  7. g) That’s just the way they are

or   (my personal favourite)

  1. h) They are just very passionate about their work

Just once, I would like somebody to say “You know, that WAS pretty bad, I think you deserve an apology, and as the person responsible for this organization, I will see to it that you get one”.

If you want to contact me, you can still use the email address on the right of this blog.

The forum will still be running for as long as people want to talk, and that may be for some time to come.

Thankyou all again for reading. We trust that all who are imprisoned by men who claim to act on behalf of Christ, will soon have the freedom that only Christ can bring.

Isaiah 61 (King James)

1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

.

When Life Hands You Lemons…

Nobody eats lemons.

If life hands you lemons, give ’em to Jesus and He will make something good out of something bad.  He is the only one who can.

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[b] with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

(Romans 8:26-30)

The Dot Point Syndrome

 

nazi church.png

“I tell people all the time. We’re not a church for everybody”

I read a gob-smacking article the other day.    It was by a pastor of a large church in America and the title was 7 reasons you should invite some people to leave your church.  The article in its entirety is here.

I thought that this article was going to be about church discipline.

It was about removing those people who are not ‘getting with the programme’, or supporting your vision and are consistently refusing to sign up for the sycophant roster. Except he used phrases like ‘unaligned’, ‘passionate’ and ‘disengaged’.  Those are much better phrases than “people who think for themselves”, “reserved”, and “engaged elsewhere”, or even “act like Bereans”.  Anybody who writes like is waving a red flag in front of a bull as far as I am concerned.

The author, a pastor of a large church and author of several books, the latest being “7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow”, made a point of saying initially how he hates it when people unsubscribe from his blog and how he invited people to unsubscribe just to prove a point.  Apparently a few people did unsubscribe but in the end the numbers of people subscribing grew.  This according to the author is a great prescription for church growth, hence the article.  I am not exaggerating.  He figures if its good for a personal blog, its good for your church.  WOW.

The author of this article, like so many I have seen on the internet has what I call the dot point syndrome.  They write articles, preach sermons (if you can call them that) which wouldn’t look out of place in tabloid magazines except they are now on the internet. These types of articles are attention grabbers, click-bait. They are a mile wide and an inch deep and give the impression that the authors are filled with knowledge and wisdom and that they are somehow reducing their knowledge to easily digestible pieces which can be read in ten minutes and spewed out by others whenever they are at a loss for their next Sunday message.  They get ‘re-imagined’ and copied and copied again, and really you feel like you are just reading the same article over and over.  Here are some of the titles I found on a brief internet search.

7 Questions Your Minister Does Not Want You To Ask

10 Reasons Why People Leave Church

7 Things You Shouldn’t Do When a Church is In Decline

6 Dangerous People Who Could Harm Your Church

5 Things You Shouldn’t Say To Your Pastor

3 Questions You Should Ask Before You Leave Your Church

3 Bad Reasons to Leave Your Church

Let me just briefly comment on these dot points to prove that in fact they are simply all restating the same thing and could have been just one point.  In fact the article was a couple of pages in before you actually got to the 7 reasons, so we should give the author kudos for that.

1. Unaligned people cost you something.

In the case of my blog, I pay for my subscribers. It’s not huge dollars, but I was paying for people to be on the list who didn’t want to be on the list. It cost me money.I would rather pay for people who are passionate about leadership and this blog than for people who aren’t.

People who don’t care about your church or organization cost you something too. Energy. Time. Frustration. Malaise. A lack of momentum.People who are not aligned with your mission and vision always cost something.Why pay? Why not make room for more people who are aligned?

The author compares blog subscribers to church members. I am totally awestruck by this outrageous comparison.  Apparently, it cost the author to have subscribers he didn’t want. OK, that makes business sense.  But how in all honesty can you compare subscribers to your brothers and sisters in Christ?  People who ‘care’ about YOUR organisation?  Last time I looked it was Christ’s church, not the pastor’s.  The author may be the pastor (dear God help the congregation) but they do not have a pastor’s heart.  This is a person who should be running a secular organisation because they have all the compassion and concern for others that  you would expect from a CEO. In fact, really good CEO’s ARE compassionate and considerate to other human beings in their employ.  In fact, they are required to be by law.  What law is there that defends the members of this congregation from their clearly fiscally oriented pastor.  If I was in this guy’s church I would use this article as proof that he needs to go find a job and leave pastoring to people with that gift. He has a problem with people who make you use up energy and time.  WHAT THE??? Whatever happened to doing God’s will, and ministering to those HE wants you to minister to?  It cost Jesus his LIFE!!!!

2. Having the right people is better than simply having people.

Having more people is not better than having the right people.As this Inc. article shows, the financial costs of hiring the wrong person can be astounding.

Before you have more people, you need the right people.

The right people are people capable of taking on leadership, who are aligned around a common mission, vision, strategy and values, and who have the character to withstand the tests of leadership.Get these people in place, and amazing things happen

OK, so hiring staff for a church is a serious business, but hey, isn’t that where prayer, discussion with other staff members and discernment come into play?  He doesn’t mention boring stuff like that, he is more concerned about the financial costs of hiring the wrong person.  And having the character to withstand tests would be an important skill in this church I would imagine.  Especially when you are dealing with this kind of leader.

.3. Some people will find a better fit elsewhere

Releasing people doesn’t have to be a sea of nastiness. In fact, if it is, you’re doing it wrong. Think of it this way: If someone isn’t passionate about your organization’s purpose, they will actually be better off somewhere else.

I tell people that all the time. We are not a church for everybody. THE church is for everyone. But your church isn’t. You’re one part of a much bigger body. You alone will not reach your entire city. We need each other as church leaders.

You’ll be serving people by letting them find a better fit, and finding like minded people will help you accomplish your mission more effectively.

Seriously, some people will honestly thrive in a different environment than yours. Why not celebrate that?

Let them go. You don’t own the Kingdom.

I only have one question to ask here…WHY is your church not for everybody?  Isn’t a church about the people God wants to be there?  Maybe God’s idea of church membership isn’t the same as yours, a puny human being with clearly no pastoring gift let alone any compassion, empathy and social skills.

4. Disengaged people can be disengaged elsewhere.

Here’s the reality. Not everyone is ready to engage.

If you’ve got disengaged people, let them be disengaged elsewhere.

They can not serve, not give and not invite friends at some other church. They don’t have to take up space in yours.

Particularly in a growing church where space is at a premium (as it often is at our church), we can’t really afford long-term people who are not going to engage in the mission.

I have all the time in the world for new people who are taking the time to explore faith. I have less time for ‘mature’ Christians who won’t roll up their sleeves and engage the mission (while we’re at it, we should rethink our definition of maturity).

You are right.  Not everybody is ready to engage.  It would be nice to get to know you first and then maybe meet your parents, wife, children, other parishioners etc.  Then of course you would like to get the proposal. For example just exactly what am I getting engaged with?  A pastor or a lifetime commitment?  In this case apparently both. And heaven help you if you are not doing your job as well as your co-spouse thinks you should.  You are likely to be divorced for costing him money. He clearly marries a lot.

Also, space is at a premium?  Where are you fellowshipping?  A rabbit hutch? I think this pastor really needs to rethink his definition of what Pastor means.  And while we are at it, what does ‘explore faith’ mean?  Does he mean the unsaved?  So, those not born again apparently get a free pass for not getting involved in ‘the mission’, but everybody else, presumably those who have been there for Some Time, are not given any free passes. For anything. Apparently.

. A few aligned people can change the world.

I used to say we could do more with 300 aligned people than with 3,000 unaligned people. Then one year, in a tough season for us as a church plant, we shrank down to almost 300 adults—far smaller than what we were two years earlier.

We became so focused on our mission and particular strategy—and pursued it in a portable setting without all the trappings of other churches—that many people left.It was a tough tough season.But as I outlined in this post, those who stayed got aligned. Our mission became focused.

Now, a few years later, we’re bigger than at any time in our history, and most of our growth is coming from previously unchurched people. People are passionate about our mission.

When you’re tempted to simply do whatever it takes to keep people, remember that a few aligned people can change the world. Jesus did it with 12.

The main mission of this guy is financial.  He wants a big church, he wants people who get with the programme of the boss’s building agenda and he wants to be massive, huge, really really big.  WHY?  He doesn’t know.  He just says the word aligned a lot because it sounds hip, cool and relevant. And, oh…big church..more money.  You know.  I get rich.

6. Those who stay will feel honored and relieved.

You’ve got great people at your church. You really do.

When you clarify your focus and lead, great people generally follow. I’m assuming here that you have a God-given vision that’s affirmed by some capable and wise people around you. But many people will thank you for cutting through the ambiguity and double-mindedness and leading.

When you cut unaligned people loose, the aligned will always thank you.

So, cutting unaligned people loose…don’t remember that phrase in the Bible.  Blessed are aligned, they will receive the appreciation of others who are also aligned. Also, we just don’t need any more ambiguity and double-mindedness because this article is so chock full of direct, specific directions for how to grow your church isn’t it?  OK, you think so, name some.  Go on…just two.  I can think of two.  Kick out critics.  Keep the sycophants.  Big church.

7. You’ll be blown away by how enthusiastic some of your people really are.

Over time, if your vision and direction are solid, you will see enthusiasm grow.People will get passionate about your mission.You will be amazed at how much synergy there is in a group of people moving forward together.

When the voices of the critics go silent (because they leave), you will finally hear the voice of enthusiasm.I realize few people talk about this in the church. And I realize it’s controversial.

But I wonder if just some of it rings true.What are you learning?What keeps you from releasing people? 

Over time mind you, you will see enthusiasm grow.  I thought we were talking about passion. Maybe its too much to expect that level of sycophancy all at once, first of all, we get people to drink the koolaide, and that requires delicate handling.

A group of people moving forward together….on a parade ground…with a drill sergeant.  Yup that would be controversial, especially since this is a church.  And a church is a group of believers who have a common faith and are filled with the Spirit of God which is one spirit but many giftings, and moved by the Holy Spirit, not the Boss.

And what is more beautiful than the silence which ensues when there is nobody left…to disagree with you of course.

Lastly, I would have thought that this pastor’s writing should be wholly ringing true if he is speaking the truth.  Instead, he rather coyly suggests that only some of it would ring true because this is a controversial topic (you got that right) and that few people talk about this.  I can imagine that in this pastor’s church nobody talks about anything controversial because that would involve being a ‘critic’ which is not allowed in his church.

New Emergent Words for the Week:

Passionate: – people who have black belt in martial art of Chu-Ningin  (sycophancy and enablement)

Aligned:-groupie

Wrong People:-sincere, authentic believers with personal relationship with Jesus

Right People:-servile flatterers

Disengaged:-people whose lord is Jesus not Pastor

Synergy:- Like synchronised swimming but on dry land

Mission:-reason for writing dot point messages and hiring sycophants

Vision:-thing purportedly received from god of choice to reassure sycophants they have made the right choice

Critics:-Disengaged wrong people without mission or vision

By Hook Or By Crook

tornado

You don’t have to be in Kansas anymore for bad stuff to happen. Just ask Dorothy.

16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” 18 And this she did for many days.

But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. 19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.

We all develop methods of surviving in a harsh world.  Divination should not be one of them, and I am not just speaking to Christians.  As you can see from the above paragraph, divination comes only by one source and that is Satanic.  You might have great powers but they are not yours and any power of this sort is usually got by illegal means (God’s law not man’s).  Satan’s power was given to him by God but he fell and now uses that power to attempt to destroy the church.  The whole world might be under the sway of the evil one, but he does what he does in his own name, not God’s. Therefore, his authority is illegitimate, and so is anything he gives human beings.  It will not be blessed by God, the righteous One.

Astrology and tea-leaf reading aside, we all have means to ‘predict’ the future, but unless God gives us a prophetic word we are engaging in divination.  Divination is witchcraft which is rebellion which is sin.  Scripture does not get any clearer on this.  Divination can be described as the premeditated choice to seek out means to know the future which are empowered by demonic forces. It is the fleshly desire to know the future which opens the door to the demonic. I should just point out that praying and asking God for clarity on a situation is not divination.  He is the legitimate authority, and James tells us if we need wisdom He will give liberally to all men and without reproach.  That is a very important verse. It means God knows we need help to live our lives and will give it to us.  It’s depending on anything other than God which is the problem. However, the means by which we can engage in divination can be fuzzy especially if we are well-meaning.  Let me explain.

I grew up in an abusive household. Every one of my siblings has the same problems because we had one parent who was a narcissist and the other who was an enabler.  Some of us grew up more like our parents than others, but all of us developed habitually  crooked ways of coping.  When I became a Christian, I continued using these coping methods because I had not developed my relationship with Lord enough to learn that this was not only unacceptable to Him, but was also sinful.  Some things aren’t obvious as I said, other things we keep doing because we just don’t know how to stop.  In my case, I kept doing them because my need to feel safe and in control was more important than trusting God.

God is trustworthy, men are not, and sometimes women in particular tend to conflate the two.  We put our trust in men; our husbands, our pastors, other Christian leaders and speakers.  And it can be a snare and a downfall to our relationship with God.  If you put men in the place of God you will inevitably stumble, and in fact this is idol worship by another name.  So it is one thing to talk about trusting God, but being able to trust God alone is something else. I needed a revelation of the love of God and His trustworthiness.

I developed in my childhood the habit of predicting what would happen that day and finding ways of dealing with it.  I was bullied a lot at school because I was a weird little kid and didn’t know how to relate to other little kids. I knew how to relate to adults (pull forelock and act like a suck-up) but I didn’t know about peer groups.  Therefore, going to school was a scary prospect.  I spent most of the first half an hour in bed in the mornings working out ways to deal with the various kids who I knew were going to pick on me the moment I got to school.  Sometimes all I could tell myself was ‘at least I can have marmalade on my toast this morning’.  Marmalade on toast was my favourite breakfast.  I learned ways to comfort myself, and food was one of them.

dot and toto.png

If Toto can make it out alive anything is possible…

As an adult this translated into mentally preparing myself for what I thought might have been coming the next day, or far into the future.  For the most part it didn’t work, but for most of my life, I figured if I knew how to imagine myself getting it right then I would be better at getting it right when it actually happened.  This, in my experience, disproves all of the ‘name it and claim it’ messages that psychologists and life coaches like Tony Robbins have worked on for years.  You do not create your own future.  If you did, then my whole life should have looked like a Hollywood movie.  I certainly was good at directing them in my head.  “They will say this, then I will say that.  Then they will do this and then I will do that, and it will all end thusly”.  It never did.  Inevitably, I forgot the script, or they just didn’t do what I thought they would.

I was trying to predict the future.  It was not entirely accurate.  OK, it was not accurate at all, but the fact that I was trying to work out what was going to happen based on what I knew of the situation was still prediction.

You might say, ‘but wait a minute didn’t you just define divination as using methods which are empowered by satanic forces?  Imagining what would happen is not satanic is it?”.  I know right?  It doesn’t come across as evil or wicked or engaging in witchcraft.  But wait…

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 Corinthians)

Paul is talking here about not warring in the flesh.  In Ephesians 6 he talks about the fact that we war against spiritual forces.

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand

I might also add here my favouritest verse of all time Romans 12:1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God

All of this tells me that our minds need to be transformed so that we can deal with the flesh and also the spiritual battle which comes against us.  If Satan is encouraging us to mentally prepare for the future by rehearsing events which may or may not happen then we are not walking in faith. Scripture tells us to take every thought captive.  It means every sinful thought.  It is impossible to take every thought captive per se. So spending hours (and I did) mentally rehearsing events, conversations and outcomes is not taking every thought captive to God.  If our minds need to be renewed its because our minds are the place where sin is conceived.  If we sin habitually through mentally trying to control what happens, which is witchcraft, then we need to repent and deal with life a different way, God’s way.

When you come from an abusive background, whether that is from a family of origin or from another source such as marrying a psychopath (and I say this with respect, the internet is full of testimonies from partners of deranged humans), or from being exposed long-term to abuse from pastors or bosses or others, the thing you want the most is to ensure that this NEVER happens again.  So you do what you need to do in order to avoid it. For many of us, it is controlling the outcome.  Of everything.

We PREDICT our futures, in order to PREPARE for any future abuse or pain and thereby PROTECT ourselves and stay safe.  It makes perfect sense when you are in there.  But living like this is walking in the flesh, it is NOT trusting in God, it is trusting in your own ability to prepare for the next onslaught even if there isn’t one.  You think you are doing yourself a favour, but all you are doing is setting yourself up for failure.  Nobody ever gets divination right every time.  You only have to fail half of the time in a situation like this and you make yourself crazy.  WHY, you ask yourself, did I not see that coming?  You end up getting more and more and more distressed which in turn gives you even more energy to try that much harder next time to prepare for the next crazy turn of events.

Let’s face it.  Life is unpredictable, it is getting even more unpredictable as the world turns.  Or not, I personally believe we live in a geocentric universe.  Finding that out actually changed my life, I am not kidding.  Have you ever seen or felt the earth spinning?  I won’t go on, that would be a whole blog post on its own.  Anyway, even realising that God made the earth first because of His great plans for us and His great love for His people and that He will also make a new heaven and earth for our future enjoyment didn’t stop me from trying to plot for my own success.

Look, it doesn’t matter why we do it.  You don’t have to have come from an abusive background.  Every human being wants to know the future.  It’s why we talk about time travel. The thought that this might actually be scientifically possible (it isn’t and will never be) gets us all excited.  Knowing the future is not the answer.  Preparing for possible difficulty pain or trauma is not the answer either. As anyone who has ever paid for insurance for years and then found out that the insurance company won’t pay up because the fine print said that this particular disaster wasn’t applicable finds out….you can’t cover every eventuality and the odds are that the thing you never even imagined is the thing that eventually happens.

Having said that, we still need to deal with that very human need for preparation and protection right?  Look at Noah.  He prepared as God told him to and was protected from God’s wrath.  God knows the end from the beginning and He will tell us what to do in every eventuality.  We do not need to run around as the rest of the world does as though we have no God, and as though God isn’t in control but expects us to somehow know what to do because we have intelligence.  I actually heard a very young pastor say that once.  He said where scripture doesn’t tell us what to do specifically, then we ‘have the freedom’ to do whatever seems to be good to us at the time because that is why God gave us brains.  Somebody needs to tell this young guy that stuff not specifically covered in scripture leaves out about 50% of the issues of modern life.  That is NOT the gospel.  We have been given the Holy Spirit who is our GUIDE, counselor, comforter and teacher and will lead us and help us as Jesus helped his disciples when He was on earth. Added to this, while scripture may not specifically address issues such as, say, birth control, scripture still gives us the markers for our spiritual and moral compass.  God loves children, children are a blessing, some people can’t have children, God heals barrenness etc.  You get where I am going with this.  I hope. The generalities are there even if the specifics are not.  God wants us to know what His will is for our lives (Romans 12:2) and therefore it is not up to us to determine our futures.

It’s when we act as though this is not the case, or simply forget that this is the case, that we end up getting ourselves tangled up in knots literally and figuratively.  If you are suffering constant headaches and anxiety or even panic attacks because your stress levels are through the roof,  you might consider that you may actually be trying to manipulate and control your life, and other people’s, for their own good of course.  This may well be a common problem for women, but it is NOT a godly response to life.  We walk by faith, NOT by hook or by crook.

Next post, I will talk about the antidote to this PREDICT, PREPARE and PROTECT problem.

The Resistible Revolutionary

shane-claiborne

Shane Claiborne’s understanding of the gospel seems a little skewed.

Here’s a quote of his from his book ‘Irresistible Revolution’.

“For even if the whole world believed in resurrection, little would change until we began to practice it. We can believe in CPR but people will remain dead until someone breathes new life into them. And we can tell the world that there is life after death, but the world really seems to be wondering if there is life before death”.

And another one..

“Sometimes people call folks here at the Simple Way saints. usually they either want to applaud our lives and live vicariously through us, or they want to write us off as superhuman and create a safe distance. One of  my favourite quotes, written on my wall here in bold black marker, is from Dorothy Day: “Don’t call us saints; we don’t want to be dismissed that easily”.

I flicked through “Irresistible Revolution” at our local bookstore the other day. I was going to buy it, but after finding quotes like these on just about every page, I wondered whether it was worth it.  I found Shane’s attitude of superiority off-putting.  Apparently nobody in the church but Shane and his fellow Red Letter Christians are getting it right, and this is never a good place from which to speak to other believers.  I spent a couple of decades in a cult which had the same exclusivity  and taught others to shun the outsiders.  It’s this exclusion of others that gives you a sense that you are right with God. It is so incredibly easy for people to fall into this delusion.  It’s why there are so many churches like that.  But Mr. Claiborne has fallen into the same trap. Unfortunately nobody can tell him that, because he seems superbly at ease with his critics, almost encouraging them. A person who has come to this place of sublime ignorance of his own fallibility is in a  dangerous place.  It is a place where you are so sure you can never be deceived, yet it is almost always the hallmark of those who actually are deceived.  It makes me think of  this quote from the character Sheldon Cooper from TV’s “Big Bang Theory”

“Howard, you know me to be a very smart man. Don’t you think that if I were wrong, I’d know it?”

sheldon

I want to deconstruct the above quotes.  When I left the cult we were part of, I had to look again at the books and literature we had to read, written exclusively by the cult leaders, and understand what they were actually saying, as opposed to what we thought they said.  What I found was actually pretty revealing.  It opened my eyes. So much we took for granted actually wasn’t there.  What was there however was a horrendously boastful and arrogant assumption that not only were the leaders always right but any wrongdoing could simply be determined to be dealt with by themselves.  They were never accountable to anyone, least of all the people they destroyed.   I began to study other writings, such as those of George Orwell.  His “Politics and the English Language” is very good, it shows how words can be used to manipulate people’s minds and emotions.  This kind of language is common in politics, but just as common in advertising, religion, social movements or anywhere where human beings want to influence others.

I want people to think about what is being said, even if it is coming from a genuinely likeable Christian guy who looks a little groovy and seems to know how to fix the world.

Let me just say that I am aware I am taking these quotes out of a much larger context, but I have  studied Shane Claiborne’s message in other mediums and read exhaustive critiques of the book “Irresistible Revolution” by others. Mr. Claiborne I think has made his message clear.  These snippets are more about decoding language than they are about looking at Shane’s larger works, I think they are good examples of how his language is symbolic of a confusion of theology and a deliberately non-biblical gospel. Shane wants to start a revolution, not preach what has been preached before. He wants to remove landmarks and create new ones, not follow the ways of Paul and the other apostles.

First of all “How can we worship a homeless man on Sunday and then ignore one on Monday”.

Let me show you why this language is so powerful.  Like I said, the visual image of Shane is not that of a dangerous person who wants to lead you down a dark path.  He looks like a college kid even though he is now in his forties.  So you are lulled into a sense that here is a guy who knows a thing or too because he is not pretentious, nor is he a stuffy religious leader or pastor. He is not ‘pastor Shane’, he is just Shane. So we listen to Shane speak because not only is he not stuffy and pretentious in a religious way, he has kudos.  He is well known, people want to hear him speak, he must be saying something important.

But let’s look at what he says.  First of all he poses a question.  It is a question which puts people on the back foot because it uses language which nobody connects with church.  Jesus, a homeless man?  Yeah, I suppose he was. So if this statement is true then so must the other one be.  Yeah, we worship a homeless carpenter and then ignore a homeless drunk guy the next day.  You feel humbled, despondent, depressed even.  Boy, I just don’t know how I can call myself a Christian. But look at Shane, he lives with homeless people and the poor, he must know what he is talking about, I should be like Shane.  How could you argue with that?  An appeal to consider the plight of the homeless based on who Jesus was.

But wait…

Actually Jesus was not homeless.  He had lived with his family for 30 years as a carpenter, probably supporting His mother and  younger siblings after Joseph died.  His choice to leave home at 30 and begin his ministry was deliberate, and he did not have a home because the bank foreclosed or because he had been thrown out by his wife or because he could not afford one or because he was a drug addict.  He did not have a permanent home because His ministry was to move amongst the Jewish settlements preaching the gospel. He went and stayed with friends often, or asked to stay with those he talked to. He was not homeless, as in sleeping on the streets.  Everything he did was deliberate and was the will of the Father. I don’t think you can say the same thing about the guy in the street.

Neither was Jesus ‘a  homeless man‘ in the same way the guy in the picture is.  Jesus first of all is the Son of God, not just a man.  Claiborne seems to major on Jesus humanity and forget that He is holy, perfect righteous and just and not just a guy we follow.  So the message that Jesus is the same as the guy on the street is false and misleading.  We don’t worship a man, we worship God, and Jesus himself said to the Pharisees that if you can’t accept that Jesus is the I AM then you can’t be saved.

The question also implies that all Christians ignore homeless people.  This is not true either.  I find Claiborne’s sweeping statements about his brothers and sisters in Christ to be condemnatory.  The amount of emphasis he puts on actually living amongst the poor rather than doing what you can at the local soup kitchen etc is rather dishonest.  Shane can pick and choose how he responds to his own situation in whichever way the Holy Spirit guides him.  I don’t think it is Shane’s role to act as the Holy Spirit in people’s lives and giving others guidance on how to live.  Giving is done in response to the Holy Spirit, not some man who places himself in the position of being the leader of some kind of revolutionary new world religion which is replacing the tired old Christianity which people over 40 preach about.

Shane is taking upon himself a position and an authority that God did not give him. He is nobody’s pastor except those who fellowship with him. Otherwise he is simply a commentator, a guy with an opinion.  Somebody who is connected with others who have a name like Mother Theresa.  Lots of people have worked with Mother Theresa and they don’t all write books and go on speaking tours claiming to be ‘irresistible revolutionaries’. There is no ‘new move’ or ‘revolution’ other than the one that certain people wish to produce. But then this has always been the way with any revolution.  There are the revolutionaries, the agitators, the behind the scenes guys who get a hold of others like the university students (read Tailor of Panama it describes the whole thing) and the young seminary students who are tomorrow’s pastors. And then there are the plebs, the unaware, the moral majority who are just trying to eke out a living. Revolutionaries are rarely the dispossessed, they are the rich elite who agitate the easily manipulated (young idealistic impressionable).  That’s how revolutions start, and they end with bloodshed, always and the reorganisation of the universe. Order out of chaos has always been the method of the revolutionary. Out with the old order, in with the new. But hey, he’s a likable guy, its only the doom merchants who spew bile against likable guys. Nobody else minds, they are just happy to be part of something great.

And last but not least, the question uses the royal ‘we’. He says ‘we’ but he means ‘you’. He says ‘we’ to take the edge off his judgement of apparently all Christians. If he includes himself it means he is a Christian too. If he doesn’t include himself and says ‘you’ he excludes himself from Christianity.  He has to say ‘we’, it confirms the solidarity he has with his audience. However if you look at what he is saying, he can’t possibly include himself in this.  If he accuses himself of worshipping Jesus on Sunday and ignoring homeless people on Monday then he is denying everything else he has told you about himself and his community.  He doesn’t really mean himself or he would have to repent and in humility change the way he does things.  He has already told you he lives amongst the poor.  He already does the things he thinks everyone else should be doing.  So this is not a ‘we’ statement any more than “so where are we going for our holidays” is from a shop assistant who just sold you a suitcase. She is being patronising, so is he.

Shane is in a position of responsibility, being the leader of a community, an author and a teacher.  He is in a position of power and authority especially in the eyes of Christians.  It is also the reason why so many dislike Shane’s approach, and his message.  Shane likes to think that other people just don’t get him, and he encourages his followers to believe this to.  Its not that his critics don’t get him, its that they don’t reflect back to him the image that he wants them to see.  So while Shane is insisting that his way is Jesus’ way, in fact, it is not.  It is simply Shane’s way. It’s why you have to really listen and really read what he has said and not just assume things because he uses scripture intermingled with powerfully emotive language.  Really look at what he is saying.

“Sometimes people call folks here at the Simple Way saints. usually they either want to applaud our lives and live vicariously through us, or they want to write us off as superhuman and create a safe distance. One of  my favourite quotes, written on my wall here in bold black marker, is from Dorothy Day: “Don’t call us saints; we don’t want to be dismissed that easily”. (my emphases)

Here Mr. Claiborne is making sweeping statements again.  “Usually”, meaning all the time, it is the normal thing, other people who see his community and want to applaud them and apparently live vicariously through them.  Even if he does say so himself.

This is a hugely narcissistic statement. Shane is saying that ‘people want to be me’ because they think I am superhuman. Really? So there are not just people who walk through and go ‘good for you guys like what you are doing’ and walk away and forget about them? Apparently others also want to live vicariously through them.  This is another extreme statement. How do you know that is the case?  And if so, why is it the case?  Only cults have these kinds of extreme reactions.  Nobody wants to ‘be’ the pastor down the road at the local Baptist church even if he is a great guy who helps people.  Nobody wants to ‘live vicariously’ through Christians they know even if those people are Christ-like.   Paul said ‘imitate me as I imitate Christ’ but not even Paul wanted others to be him, as he said later when he castigated those who were ‘of Paul’ or ‘of Apollos’.  Shane doesn’t actually say in this paragraph that living vicariously through them is a bad thing.  He has an almost ‘aw shucks’ response to these statements.  Yet even his rebuttal of these attitudes in the last sentence of the quote “don’t call us saints” is weird.  Dorothy Day was another political and social activist and journalist and became a Catholic. Her understanding of the word ‘saint’ is not what the Bible teaches. We ARE saints, the bible calls us saints.  It’s just a word meaning believers.  We are all saints.  And saints or not, nobody is dismissing anyone.  There is a really strong contradiction going on here.  One minute Shane is saying people want to be us, next minute he is saying don’t dismiss us. Nobody is dismissing Shane Claiborne and his works however he wants to skew this.  They are very definitely making a huge fuss about him as he has already stated.

There are some serious concerns in even these two simple quotes.  I haven’t touched on the other quote I mentioned. Shane states that even if the whole world believed in resurrection, nothing would change until you practiced it. OK, resurrection isn’t practised it just is.  One minute you are dead, the next you are alive.  You don’t have to do anything for somebody to realise something has changed.  When Lazarus was raised from the dead, people knew about it. Its why we know about the story two thousand years later.  When Jesus was raised by the Holy Spirit, His resurrection was reality changing.  We are raised to new life and we are called to walk in the Spirit, to put off the flesh and to walk in the Spirit.  The believers at Pentecost were immediately empowered by the Spirit and Peter in particular preached a powerful life changing sermon and thousands were saved in one day!  THAT is the power of the gospel.  Its Jesus who does the changing and its Jesus who gives the increase. It wasn’t Peter who was trying hard to be something, he simply changed. We don’t have to ‘do’ anything in order to prove that there has been a massive change in us.

I am reminded of a guy I knew at my church when I was a teenager.  He used to be a career criminal, a biker, a drug dealer, a vicious thug and generally nasty piece of work.  When he got saved, he had to be extradited back to Melbourne for trial.  The judge took one look at this guy, Terry his name was, and said ‘you’ve changed’. This judge knew Terry as he had come before him many times previously. Yet the judge could see straight away that something was different about Terry. So much had Terry changed that his very short stint in jail ended up seeing dozens of hardened criminals saved. These were all men who knew Terry.  They knew what kind of person he was.  When he got saved, his face changed, his nature changed, his habits changed, he was a new creation.  That whole prison was changed because of Terry and he continued going back to prison to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now Terry runs a church which helps the poor, the druggies and the down and outs.  He has set up a service which provides free food.  Not just for ‘the poor’ but anyone who needs a helping hand including the white middle class that Shane Claiborne seems to enjoy deriding. Nobody sees Terry’s work as being  useless or pointless or ‘not enough’.  Yet to Shane Claiborne, this kind of things is not acceptable.  I could go on and quote a number of things Shane has said in his books and speeches, but the heart of it is that he wants to condemn his fellow Christians because in his eyes, we are not doing what we should be doing.

One last thing about Terry.  He is well respected and recognised, but he is an old campaigner.  He is a conservative evangelical.  He got saved in the Assemblies of God church in Brisbane, and people in Australia have seen his face a few times in the media as they all seem to like him and treat him as the real deal Christian.  Yet, strangely, nobody tells Terry that he is a superman. When people look at Terry, they see Jesus, because Terry still looks like a scary biker.  He is a big teddy bear and a very genuine Christian.  But nobody wants to ‘be’ Terry or live vicariously through him. So what’s the difference between a man who loves Jesus and reaches out to the community in love and is seen by unsaved people as an actual Christian, and a man who has to convince others by teaching and writing books that he is a totally radical revolutionary for God.  What is wrong with just being an unassuming person whose life was changed by Jesus. Maybe Shane hasn’t met enough Terrys to realise that THIS is what it means to be saved.  Jesus already changed the world, and they don’t want to know Him.  What Jesus does is change people’s hearts and then through those changed hearts, other people are changed.  Not much has changed or is going to change because of the efforts of people who don’t really know what they believe and are trying desperately to get others to believe they are special.

I don’t think Shane Claiborne understands the gospel. It makes me tired.  I don’t think he knows Jesus as well as he thinks he does. I don’t think anyone can talk the way he can about the church if they love it with their whole heart the way Jesus told us to.  “Love the Lord your God and your neighbour as yourself”.  Loving your neighbour doesn’t just mean the poor.  If your neighbour happens to be poor then you can help them. But giving people stuff doesn’t mean you are a great Christian or that you have been transformed by the power of the blood of Jesus.  Genuine transformation is its own advertisement.  It always has been, for centuries before Shane was born and will be again until Jesus returns.  I don’t need somebody like Shane to tell me how to live, and I don’t like, even from a cursory glance what Shane preaches.  I don’t believe he has been transformed or that he understands the new life of Christ or he wouldn’t say these things.

If people are wondering if there is life before death  they need to see the new life of Jesus Christ.  Not in your works, but in the actual difference in your face.  There is a difference in people who know Jesus because the Holy Spirit has made them a new creation. I can testify to this for myself and others I know who have been changed by Jesus. I have seen and heard many testimonies from brothers and sisters who were miraculously saved and changed.  It is this change which makes others know and see the powerful reality of Jesus Christ. If you have changed, then you will do things differently. But the change comes first, then the actions.  People like Shane have always tried to make it the other way around, and all they do is lay heavy burdens on believers who try and get it right in order to impress others. The key to all of this is understanding your sin and the cross.  We don’t worship the cross, we worship Jesus. We just understand the substitutionary atonement of the cross in that Jesus’ sacrifice was necessary to take away the sin of the world. I don’t think Shane understands this at all, not in a personal way, because I don’t think he knows Jesus.

I have seen men who have this kind of power before.  Plenty of people want to follow and imitate charismatic men who manipulate and shame others in subtle and clever ways. The followers almost NEVER blame the leader for making them think they have to do stuff to be saved, they mostly blame themselves.  They try real hard to get it right, to impress the leader and to look good to others, but in the end they are dead spiritually because they have put the leader in the place of the Holy Spirit and their faith in Jesus, and Jesus alone has been eroded. People who follow Shane seem to do so with utter devotion. Shane can do nothing wrong, nobody is allowed to criticise Shane because if you do then you are part of the fundamentalist traditional church who just want to shut him up because they ‘just don’t get it’.  That too is dismissive and trite.

I don’t see Shane Claiborne preaching the gospel to people and seeing them saved.  I see Mr. Claiborne trying to get in the way and tell everyone else in the church not just how to ‘do church’ but how to ‘do life’.  I don’t find this either revolutionary or irresistible, in fact I find it rude and abusive.

Theodore and Isabella

theo-and-bella

Lilting underwater sway
With undulating tail
Each footfall fluid and faultless
Easy and serene.
They purr and thrum and bombinate with very satisfaction.
They thrive and croon
Smooch and spoon and serenade,
Supplicate and woo,
Coax, cajole and captivate
And soon
All that is beheld with tawny eyes
Becomes their own.

Two shadows
Following a foot behind
Or choosing then to sprint ahead
And claim the bed.
Not just one cat sized piece
But the whole.
Sprawling deliciously,
Blinking artlessly,
Quick with consolation
For taking your side.
Cold wet nose pressed
With affection against your cheek.

Late night scraps.
Up and down the hallways,
In and out the doorways,
Underneath the table legs
And up the front flyscreen.
Each too nimble to hurt or hinder
One another
And growls and grumblings all a romp
Til zest and zeal is spent.

Endless curiosity
Staring unblinking out the windows
And following a careless insect
Into corners hitherto unexplored
Or explored again.
The unstoppable determination
To win the right
To household domination
And claim the rubbish bin’s delights.
The invisible elastic
That draws them to you
Sitting close by
Or finding space where none exists
Just to be in your presence.

 

Anita Brady © 2017