Tuesday, July 27, 2010


"And then I started thinking about my own life, how I need people to love me and like me and how, if they don't, I feel miserable and sad and how I am tempted to believe what they are saying about me is true. It is though the voice God used to have has been taken up by less credible voices."
~Donald Miller, Searching For God Knows What~

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Surviving The Control: How Did You Cope?

I am a Potter fan. I admit it wholeheartedly. First chance I get I am bee-lining to Universal Studios for the ultimate Potter experience.

If you are not a Potter fan, please allow me a moment to tell you why I am.

Reading the Potter books aided me in escaping the horrid reality. Tapping the wall in Diagon Alley opened a door away from the existence of the cult. The wall always slammed solidly shut, never admitting my abuser.

I often wished I could go to platform at King's Cross Station and waltz through the barrier leaving forever the pain wracked experience of church.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Picasso Would Understand My Slightly Sad Sundays

Sundays are slightly depressing to me. It gets to you when you hear fifty-two or so Sundays a year that nuclear nightmares are lurking just slightly around the corner and that the United Nations is days away from passing out free "Mark of the Beast" cards to the evilly loyal, cutting off the food supply from the rest of us more sanctified folks.

Sundays are my 'Picasso' days. Good sense is slightly out of focus, slightly distorted. I don't listen to the news, read the Bible (hold the 'Gasp!' factor down...I still read it the other days), or go to church. I'm just not quite that brave on Sundays. If the current President is washing the country down the world drain I beg you not to tell me on a Sunday.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Manipulative Power of Peace: Guest Post by Lewis Wells

A month ago I discovered the blog Commandments of Men by blogger Lewis Wells. Lewis writes with passion of the danger of legalistic, human-powered religion. His personal loss at the hands of patriarchal control breaks my heart.
Thank you, Lewis, for speaking out against spiritual abuse.

Without further ado, Lewis' guest post:

Show of hands...

Who among you has based a decision solely on whether or not you had "peace" about it? (my hand is raised)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Quivering Daughters: Interview With Hillary McFarland

Almost three weeks ago, on a Sunday evening, I sat on my ottoman, surrounded by tissues, tears running down my cheeks.
I was listening to Hillary McFarland, author of Quivering Daughters - Hope and Healing for the Daughters of Patriarchy, describe broken little girls. Little girls and women who despair of life as they sink beneath the weight of guilt and fear.

Hillary spoke of these 'quivering daughters' with such compassion and understanding. Her tone was gentle and sympathetic as she explained how a family, God-honoring and intent on maintaining His precepts and standards can evolve into a fear-riddled, guilt-consumed environment.

At the end of our conversation it felt as though a large weight was lifted off my own shoulders. I realized I had allowed the fear and insecurity of my repressive ex-church to wind it ways through my head and heart. I was, in various circumstances, once again quivering.

It took almost two weeks to write this post...simply because the tears would start again as I remembered how FREE I felt after speaking with Hillary. God has truly blessed her to minister to the broken heart and crushed spirit. I pray that her book finds its way into the hands of many discouraged and faltering 'daughters'.

Here are Hillary's beautiful explanations to my questions:

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Home is Where the Heart Is: Guest Post From Meg and Bernie

I am so honored to have Meg and Bernie, authors of the blog Tales From The Crypt share a guest post on recognizing God's love:

My heart has been in Brisbane, and with all those we left behind when we came out of BCF. It is also still with those family we cut off for reasons of our own safety and emotional health. What does this say of me? It says that the love I crave has been tainted love, not genuine love. In fact, human beings don’t know what love actually is until God shows us. For if God is not just the perfect lover, but IS love itself, then anything that we humans come into contact with from each other which does not first originate from God is not really love . It is something else entirely. This is a difficult concept to get your head around. We like to think that humans can love each other just as well without God thank you. Mothers love their children, men and women love each other, lay down their lives for those they love, keeping them close, protecting them, giving them everything they need. But if we compare this to the love of God, it falls short consistently.

In dramatic or traumatic events, human love and sacrifice comes to the fore. We do indeed put our own lives at risk in order to save others, sometimes not even those we know, sometimes complete strangers. This indeed looks very much like Godly love. It is, for an instant, the personification of Godly love. But none of us can hope to replicate this for a lifetime. To suffer loss daily, for the sake of those you love is not possible for human beings, nor do I believe that God asks us to do this where our own lives have become degraded or imprisoned as a result. Only he is capable of this type of love, and it is therefore the reason that he alone is worthy of what the bible calls our first love. His love is pure holy and self-sacrificing, and only his love can sustain us. We can show a much lesser form of this love to each other, and a diluted version of it as it comes through our flesh. Only the love which is given freely, which both enhances the life of the giver, and the life of those loved, can be representational of God himself.

God’s life and being is never diminished by his longsuffering on behalf of the human race. He is not in bondage, or imprisoned, nor is his essence lessened by pouring out his love upon us, as we constantly turn away from him, give ourselves to others who are less worthy, worship things, and become spiritual harlots.

God does not for example, expect a woman to stay with a husband who beats her or her children, emotionally abuses her, is an adulterer, treats her with anything other than Godly self-sacrificing love. This is NOT love. A woman may believe she loves her husband, but a woman in this situation is NOT able to determine her own emotional state, as her perceptions are affected by the abuse. She believes she should stay with a man who abuses her because she loves him, yet, even God tells us to turn away from ungodly ones, to not even eat with them. So, it is evident that true LOVE, as opposed to true human love, which we must call something else to avoid confusion, is not one which benefits only one party. God’s love does not diminish his person; it is instead the perfect reflection of who he is.

It is therefore important for us to know what genuine love is. The true definition of love is nothing to do with emotions or even actions, since human emotions and actions are always less than perfect. The ONLY illustration of perfect love that we have is Jesus; and he in turn is the personification of God.

It is important then, to rearrange our understanding of real love. If my heart is still with those who have abused me, who care nothing for me, who have ignored my needs and diminished me as a person, and who continue to do so even after I have brought all this to their attention, then my heart is at fault. If I still find comfort in my memories, in the nostalgia of remembering what I thought was love, then I am seeking after something which is not God. Like David, I need to ask God to create a clean heart in me, or to put it another way, to help me to understand what real love is, and to renew my heart so that I can receive and perceive it.

Much love,

Bernie and Meg
Authors of Tales from the Crypt)
photo by sheriffdave in photobucket

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Story of Survival

I asked some recent commenters to share their accounts of life within a fundamentalist/cult group. Here is one reader's story:

"Once upon a time, there was a man who wanted to find a good church for his family to go to in order that they could all worship and serve God together. One would not expect this to be a problem in the Southeast United States but the fact remained clear that there were a bunch of organizations that called themselves a “church” that were little more than social clubs. There was a heavy emphasis on meeting felt needs and little if any emphasis on really studying the Bible.

However, after looking for a while, the man and his family found a church that seemed perfect. The Bible was taught exceptionally. There were no fluffy Sunday School classes with trite prepackaged lessons that were superficial. Rather, the teachers taught straight from the Bible. The man was a Calvinist and this church held to the doctrines of grace. The church wasn’t huge but it was big enough to have something for all ages of the family to learn and serve. This should have been the “Happily Ever After”.

Such was not the case, however. About a year or so after they had joined the church, the pastor began to make pleas from the pulpit for increased faithfulness in giving. He said the church was going through a budget crisis. A few months ago, one of the elders had left with some of the congregants to form their own church. About 10 families left. A few other families left for various other reasons. Now, with the pastor making a plea for funds, the man’s “Spidey sense” started to tingle.

No financial reports were ever released. It was really the first the man had thought about it or realized it. Most churches he had been in had business meetings. The financial reports were laid on a back table where everyone could get them. This church didn’t do that. When the man asked the pastor, he was told you had to ask for the reports and they would be mailed to you. So the man asked for the reports. Being an auditor by trade, as soon as he opened the Excel file, he knew where the problem was.

The church’s budget was going to run about $50,000 short for the year if subsequent months ran like the month he looked at. So he started to look at the various categories to see where the problem was. Long story short—the pastor’s salary was better than 50% of the budget with the mortgage being another 30%. When this $100,000 a year salary and $60,000 a year mortgage payment were paid, there was hardly anything left to pay for maintenance, utilities, or anything else. Now the man’s “Spidey Sense” was REALLY tingling. However, he forced himself to keep his concerns to himself. They are the elders, he said, and it’s their job to make these decisions. Besides, the pastor seems to be a man of integrity.

However, that integrity was only a veneer and a thin one at that. About 6 months later, several more families left the congregation. There was a big meeting to explain what had happened and why. Basically, the families left out of concern for the pastor and what they perceived was a greedy attitude on his part. He had taken time out of a sermon series in Ephesians to begin to preach on stewardship and the need to tighten our belts. However, he was still making $100,000 in a church with about 120 people on Sunday Morning. He would make comments that “The average salary in this area is $60,000 per year, we should have no problem with the finances in this church”. After this meeting, the man had an occasion to talk to the pastor and some of the things the pastor said caused the ol’ “Spidey Sense” to start ringing again. Particularly, “I’ve got 20 years experience and a doctorate”. His doctorate was from a diploma mill. However, he seemed to be saying “I deserve this salary”. It also came out that he was able to pay considerably more on his mortgage than the payment every month. This man, in every respect, was becoming quite wealthy. Further, he told the man that he hasn’t taken a raise in 3 years. With his salary I should certainly hope not.

Anyway, the man pushed these concerns down again. He and his family liked the church. They liked the people. Then, the Holy Spirit began to convict him that staying silent was wrong. He began to question the financial decisions of the church and was rudely rebuffed. He finally asked to meet with the elders. You see, anytime someone had a problem, the elders wanted to meet with them individually. They didn’t want people to compare notes and see that others saw the same problems in the church. They also felt it easier to intimidate the person. The man met with the elders and it was like Pink Floyd’s song “The Wall”. They blew off his concerns and basically said that to leave the church without a valid biblical reason was to leave without God’s approval.

A few months went by and some things started happening that violated what the elders claimed were things they’d never do. They had a woman lead music on Wednesday night because the two guys who would usually do it were not there. The elders claimed she wasn’t leading because she was standing with the instrumentalists rather than on the platform. In other words, we’re going to claim that we would never do something but if it becomes necessary we’ll just change the vocabulary, call it something different, and do it anyway. That was the final straw.

The man went to tell the pastor that he would no longer serve in any ministries in the church. The pastor asked why. The man cited the incident above as proof that the elders had no integrity. The pastor was irate. He began to raise his voice. The man told him he didn’t come there to argue but to inform him of a decision. At this point, the pastor blew his stack and said, oh and I’m quoting here, “Don’t you DARE walk away from me!”

The man laughed. He told the pastor “You have no authority over me”. As he turned to walk out, the pastor said “As pastor of this church I certainly do”. He rudely told the man that his resignation was accepted and if he wanted to talk to the elders they would meet with him. The man thought to himself “Alan and the Yes-men”.

He and his family left the church and, after a few months of looking have found a church where the leaders are men of integrity and they can feel safe. Leaving was hard. Staying, however, would have been a greater sin. Supporting a church where the leadership do not have the character qualifications the Bible says they should have is dangerous and potentially damaging. If you find yourself in this situation, you’re not alone. The above story is real. The people in it survived through God’s grace. You can too."

Read more on Joe's blog Hear God Speak

photobucket picture by:kmlapham