Friday, April 24, 2009

Grace Notes: The Grace To Decide

There is a fine line between responsible leadership and dogmatic control. All risks notwithstanding, people need to be informed and then released to come to their own convictions. Why must a minister constantly issue public edicts and decrees? Seems awfully popelike to me. Have we wandered that far from grace?

-Charles Swindoll-
Grace Awakening
rain image by Find Stuff2 in photobucket

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Those Who Sow

“There is no such thing as a 'self-made' man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success.”
-George Matthew Adams-

A few posts back, I posted the previous quote and a "Tell Your Tale" offer.
A read responded with this wonderful account:

Our son, raised in the cult from the age of 18 months, helped us out after he went to UCLA, got into the theology library and got delivered. He was excommunicated, of course. Like good cult zombies, we withdrew our financial support from him at first, but at the same time pleaded and argued with the cult leader to reverse the excommunication. Our son was forgiving and persistent. He wrote us letters, sent us books, and planted enough seeds of doubt and truth that we left six months later, being pretty much forced out for not agreeing with the leadership.
Margaret Irons

God bless those who persevere to sow seeds of freedom.

mustard seed faith by: annben02 in photobucket

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Grace Notes:The Grace To Let Go

...[An] attitude worth the tendency to control others. I find this especially prevalent among those who find their security in religious rigidity.
They get their way by manipulating and intimidating. They use fear tactics, veiled threats, and oblique hints to get their way.
...Controllers win by intimidation. Whether physical or verbal,they bully their way as they attempt to manipulate us into doing their will.

-Charles Swindoll-
Grace Awakening
butterfly image by cake036 in photobucket

Friday Quote (on Saturday)

"Quick! I am sane now. If only I could get out of this enchanted chair, it would last. But every night they bind me, and so every night my chance is gone. But you are not enemies. I am not your prisoner. Quick! Cut these cords."

-C.S. Lewis- The Silver Chair

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Remember There Will Be Easter Morning

In the post "Good Friday Quote", I quoted from Brock and Bodie Thoene's book
All Rivers To The Sea.
Kate, scarred from past tragedies and facing fresh fear in the potato famine, reminds herself of words that bore her through the past scars:

Grieve like Mary at the grave for all you cannot understand.
Give up to God the hopes your love has begotten.
Mourn at the tomb of what you've lost.
Then give up to God what you cannot change.
Remember there will be Easter morning.
Hope in that alone.
Bear your scars with joy.

That is where I stand on this Easter morning. I've grieved for the years lived in torment and fear of human.
I'm giving up to God the hopes that the abuse will end, for truly only from Him can come the freedom from the dark power of spiritual oppression.
I've mourned for friends who count me as one dead.
I cannot change one aspect of the abuse, past or continuing- so I place my faith in a faithful Creator.
And I remember that Easter morning does come.
All that is dead in darkness and pain will be changed in His power and resurrected in gladness by His grace.
So, I have reached a fork in my path.
I won't forget my past, nor do I want to. It is mine- I lived it, the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful.
For me, it's time to close the book and not read the page of rage and hurt anymore.
I feel a bit like Bilbo Baggins when he said :

It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to.

I've stepped on the road of freedom and there is no knowing what wonderful adventures I will have.
So, I feel I've buried the enslaved, fearful Dobby part of myself in the quiet grave by the sea and thrown the ring of memories in the fires of Mt. Doom.
Because I am me, I have a few last words for the person who, for many years, held such a place of absolute control over my mind:

To My Former Pastor:
Did you know the apostle Paul was once the same as you?
He was a spiritual abuser- the ultimate kind: If one didn't believe as he thought one should or practice one's faith according to his rules, he had that person killed.
Chuck Swindoll, in his book The Grace Awakening , called him a grace killer.
There is an incredible twist to Paul's story- he didn't remain a grace killer and a spiritual abuser. He had a grace awakening.
He went on to vehemently fight against the effects of grace killers:

O you dear idiots of Galatia, who saw Jesus crucified so plainly, who has been casting a spell over you? I shall ask you a simple question...Surely you can't be so idiotic as to think that a man begins his spiritual life in the Spirit and then completes it by reverting to outward observances?

I hope that your story has the same redeeming twist. I hope grace awakens in your life: grace to let others follow God for themselves, grace to cease seeing yourself as God's judgement stone and God's rule enforcer.
Because, you see, God doesn't need a rule enforcer.
He is full of grace and His grace has given each and everyone the gift of choice.
He graced us with the gift of choice of where to spend eternity. Max Lucado says in his book He Chose The Nails:

There are times when God sends thunder to stir us. There are times when God send blessings to lure us. But there are times when God sends nothing but silence as He honors us with the freedom to choose where we spend eternity.

I believe that you honestly feel you are doing God's work by forcing people to salvation by your rules and regulations. Salvation by keeping a choke hold on their identity and freedom of choice. By giving your judgment on people now so God won't have to do it later, at His second return to earth.
You employed every skulduggery tactic available (lying, cheating, mind-control, phone-tapping, shadowing-should I go on?) to aid you in your endeavor.
You have significantly materially profited from stealing other's money and time- so all your motives haven't been squeakily clean and noble.
You are so angry any time someone speaks the truth of your actions.
You say they are motivated by evil, trying to destroy God' work.
I believe this reaction is due to the fact that you truly believe in your self-appointed title.
I challenge you to look at your flock.
Are they genuinely happy?
Do they abound in peace?
Are their actions motivated by fear of you or love?
I know I was motivated by absolute terror when I was under your control.
I remember that you dutifully squashed anyone who threatened your control out of a sincere belief you had to control the flock to keep them safe under 'God's Umbrella'.
You have chosen a heavy burden trying to maintain people's salvation through fear.

I hope you stand at the foot of the cross, like the weary Pilgrim, and let your terrible burden tumble off your back.
I hope you find grace.
The grace to let go and let others be.
For people will never grow up in Christ as long as they live by your opinion and your word. It isn't your job to be every one's conscience.
Quoting from Grace Awakening once again:

Grace...brings a freedom to enjoy the privileges of being out from under slavery and allowing other such freedom...It is a freedom to become all that He meant me to be, regardless of how He leads others... I can be me...and freedom is then released to others so they can be who they are meant to be-different from me!

The apostle Paul let grace explode his horizons- as I hope you will.
You have golden years to live- why not set your flock free from paralyzing fear so they may live theirs?

I am praying for you and for those you control.

A Toxic Sheep No More

"Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance. "

I really hope you choose to dance.

road image by jacedesbff in photobucket
dance image by carolinegrasso in photobucket

Easter Quote

Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time.

Martin Luther
image by philljackson12 in photobucket

Good Friday Quote

From All Rivers To The Sea by Brock and Bodie Thoene:

She tried to remember what Father O'Bannon said when she survived her own inferno and others she loved did not...when she could not...kneel before the living God without reproaching Him for her suffering. What was it that made her lay aside her bitterness...opening the drawer she rifled through a sheaf of papers until she came to a single yellowed sheet she had written upon years ago... Scars.Visible.Invisible...The wounds of a risen Christ...hands,head, side and feet.Touch them and believe.
Hide in them and live.
Cherish your scars, Kate. They make you more like Him.
Christ crucified, the only begotten Son of God sacrificed for you.
And at the foot of the cross, most human of all agony. His mother watched Him die.
Think on it! To stand helpless while the child she loved suffered and died...She took Him from the cross and buried Him...Grieve like Mary at the grave for all you cannot understand.
Give up to God the hopes your love has begotten
Mourn at the tomb of what you've lost.
Then Give up to God what you cannot change.
Remember there will be Easter morning.
Hope in that alone.
Bear your scars with joy.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I Will Dance Again...

A friend and I recently spoke of the 'conditioning' that sometimes lies subtly dormant in the minds of ex-cult members.
Conditioning being, according to the encyclopedia Britannica:

"Conditioning is a form of learning in which...a given stimulus...becomes increasingly effective in evoking a response... a response occurs with increasing regularity..."
Any questioning of the authority in a Dade City cult elicited sharp and swift consequences. The 'errant' member had 'touched God's anointed mouth piece' according to the cult leader. Public humiliation in church services were the effective tool in 'evoking' a response'.
Who wanted to to be held up as an example of shame in the midst of their peers? Silence was safe; so "a response occurs with increasing regularity" was the silent submission to the cult leader's will.
Now, as we voice loudly and often our dissent with the abusive practices, a 'knee-jerk' conditioning trigger hops in the way of the stretching of our atrophied muscles of speaking aloud wrongs committed.
However, we shan't be stopped in our dance of freedom. We speak the truth, in the faith of God's love, extended even to the flagrant abuser, and dance in the gladness of truth.
We even hope, should God be merciful, that the abuser finds themselves dancing to tune of God-given freedom and mercy.
A fearful, 'conditioned' muscle might put a slight crimp in our joyous bound, but we dance to the words of truth anyway.
Because truly, only by speaking out will the abuse's effectiveness be silenced.
As only by stretching and dancing will the stiff muscle become limber and supple once more.
image by Adegrazia in photobucket