Would your church be able to help someone in the midst of a crisis? How equipped are they?

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Before we get into today’s article, we’ve passed an important milestone here. Today, I noticed in my Facebook’s “On This Day” feature, that it is the 4th year anniversary date of the judge’s decision on the defamation lawsuit brought on by my former pastor, Chuck O’Neal of Beaverton Grace Bible Church (BGBC) vs. me and 4 others. Our attorney filed an anti-SLAPP counter suit which meant that O’Neal and BGBC had to prove that our case met the legal definition of defamation. It did not. Not even one phrase that I used (or anyone else used) met even the first tier of the defamation definition (that we had intentionally lied). In order Chuck O’Neal to have won, he had to prove that we knowingly lied about him, AND, we lied with the intent to harm. Judge Fun dismissed the entire case.

When I think back on four years, the amount of information I have learned is remarkable. So much of that has been because of you. Thank you. God has restored what the locust has eaten. Through my pain and now the information I’ve learned along the way, SSB has been a safe and a growing place for me and for others. Yea God.

Here’s the note that appeared on my timeline 4 years ago by a friend:

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Chuck O'Neal, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, spiritual abuse, defamation lawsuit, spiritual bullies

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Would your church be able to help someone in the midst of a crisis? How equipped are they?

 

In February,  I got involved in a situation in which a mom of many children discovered that her husband was sexually abusing their children. The world as she knew it had stopped. Everything. Not only did she need to deal with her own emotions and grief, and care for her children, but she also had to make plans for her family’s future. This was quite an undertaking and I’m sure it will take months of adjustment trying to find their new normal.

This situation was local for me, so it gave me the opportunity to see what help is available to people in this type of crisis.

A while ago, I went a choral concert which was held at a local church. When I went into the ladies restroom, I noticed this on the wall:

 

image

 

It occurred to me that we don’t have anything like that posted in our ladies’ restroom. What a perfect place to post something on domestic violence – a place where a woman’s abuser won’t see her getting this helpful information.

But, then, in the main hallway, I found many more resources.  Check this out:

 

Part of the behind the scenes ministry work at SSB is what I call “triage.” People will contact me privately with immediate needs. I listen to them and see how I can support them so that not only their immediate need is met, but there is a plan for future needs to be met. Kathi, by the way, has been so helpful with this.

A few times, I have been able to shoot Kathi a message while I’m on the phone or messaging with someone in a crisis. Kathi has then been able look up resources in that person’s area so I can give them immediate resources. Having someone who cares and can give resources is so important in a crisis.

What I have come to realize, through hearing these stories, is that many  – and perhaps most – churches are ill-equipped to handle a crisis.

This church I visited is capable of sending a woman in a crisis to local organizations so she can get the immediate help she needs. Notice they are referring OUT of the church – referring to those who are trained to deal with these types of issues. That’s important.

As it turns out, the woman I mentioned above now attends my church (You can read an update on her situation here, or feel free to contact me if you would like to help Grace). The first church she went to for help did not give her much assistance. Additionally, there was very little follow-up care. This is a case which will require long-term care. I am hoping my own church can do better. I’ve never been active in my own church in the same capacity that I help people who reach out to me here at the blog.  I hope the tools I have learned here can benefit people at my own church.

I know a situation of domestic violence at BGBC. Allegedly, my former pastor did not allow a battered wife to attend support group meetings for survivors of domestic violence. He told her that she must meet with him at church. But he never met with her because it meant he was alone with her. She, too, did not get the help she needed as far as counseling. She also did not get the financial and transportation help she needed to get back on her feet. She was abandoned spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

We have willing and able bodies at my church, but in speaking with my pastor after church on Sunday, there are no real plans in place in the event that another mom in a crisis comes to the church needing help. I’m going to try to work on this as my August project for my church, along with another project for the blog that Kathi and another SSB elf has been working on related to domestic violence. (I will fill you in on that soon.)

So, I’m very curious. I’d like to get an idea of what a typical church looks like when it comes to helping those in the midst of a crisis. Can you give me an idea of what you’ve seen in your local churches?

The following are the types of questions I’m interested in hearing about. I want to know how well (or not well) local churches are able to meet the needs of people in crises. Any response along the following lines would be helpful.

 

If you are a regular church attender, does your church have a plan to help people in a crisis?

If a mother and children came to your church’s office needing food, money, lodging, would your church be able to meet those needs?

Do you have someone at your church who knows what is available in the community and can help her as she connects with agencies who can give her ongoing financial, medial, mental health, or housing support?

Do you have someone designated to make meals for people in need, someone designated to oversee financial assistance, childcare, or ongoing support (each area might require a different person or a group of people).

Does your church refer out to licensed therapists?

How would your church handle a domestic violence situation?

Also, if you have personal experience with a church and how they met your needs in a crisis, I’d love to hear your story, too.  You can post in the comments or e-mail me at spiritualsb@gmail.com.  If you have a story, I’d like to know the kind of crisis and how the church assisted you. Is there anything they did that you did not like?  Is there something that could have been done better?

The more feedback I get on this post, the more information I will be able to share with my pastor, and thus, be a better help for those in a crisis, so thank you in advance for your participation. ~ja

 

 

 

SSB Gathering – July 24, 2106

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

Sellwood flowers

***

Luke 15: 11 – 32

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered  your property with prostitutes comes him, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”

Galatians 5: 22 – 23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

***


May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

***
Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

***

photo credit – Kathi – Flowers in Sellwood, Portland, OR

Is this normal?

I’ve been out of commission a bit this week, having out-of-town visitors, and a quick trip to Portland for a wedding. 

I had to drive down Walker Road a few minutes ago to pick up my son, and drove by my old church, Beaverton Grace Bible Church. As I drove by the church, I  noticed something that seemed odd. I couldn’t find the sign that shows the name of the church. I also did not see any sign listing the time for church services. 

Does this seem odd to anyone else?  If someone wanted to attend this church, they’d have to call the church office, but they don’t know what name to look up.  My creepo meter is going off. I guess they don’t want new people. So much for evangelism, huh?

Why would a church not have a sign with the church name and times of services?  Can you think of any reason?

When Wine and Complementarity are a Good Thing

Thinking of Complementarity in a Different Way

by Kathi

The word “complementarity” has been discussed on the blog and SSB Facebook page a lot. Our discussions tend to focus on how men and women interact with each other in marriage, and the church and society in general. Have you ever heard the word used any other way?

Before moving on, please take a few minutes to watch this very interesting video about people enjoying a party, their unexpected guest, and how they all responded to him.

 

 

Up until now I thought that the folks at CBMW were pretty much the only ones giving a definition to complementarity.  This video uses the word in referring to how people mirror each other when they interact. It’s a very interesting concept and a useful idea to keep in mind when dealing with people during a stressful situation.

Let’s raise a glass (of wine, of course!) to a positive spin on the word complementarity!

SSB Gathering – July 17, 2016

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

haystack rock

***

Luke 15: 1 – 10

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

 Proverbs 8: 1 – 21

Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?  On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud:

“To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding. Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge. Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

“I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power. By me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just; princes govern, and all nobles who rule on earth. I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity. My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, bestowing wealth on those who love me and making their treasuries full.”

***


May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

***
Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

***

photo credit – Brian – Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, OR

The Gift of Standing in the Trenches with a Survivor

 

 

***

“Being heard
is so close to being loved
that for the average person,
they are almost indistinguishable.”
― David Augsburger

The other day, a spiritual abuse survivor and friend I met last year in Moscow, Idaho, posted the following quote by Dr. Diane Langberg on her Facebook wall. Please read it slowly and carefully. Knowing and understanding this could be the very gift you use to help propel a survivor in a positive direction towards healing.

One characteristic of dealing with survivors of trauma is the repetitious nature of that work. Survivors will say the same things over and over—“How could my father do that to me . . .” They will be repetitious in dealing with their emotions—“I am so angry that . . .” And they will repeat their losses again and again—“I cannot believe so-and-so is dead . . .”

Expect it, and learn to sit with it. The magnitude of the trauma is so great that repetition is necessary. The mind cannot imagine what happened. It cannot hold such a thought. Bearing the intensity of emotions is impossible and so the feelings must be tried on again and again. These are attempts to bear what cannot be borne. They are struggles to integrate into life what does not fit because there are no categories. Be patient, and then be patient some more. ~ Diane Langberg, Suffering and the Heart of God

 

This.this.this.this.this!!!!

What happens when people are finally out of a toxic and abusive environment, completely free from abuse?  Is it over? They might think it would be over, but sometimes that is where the difficulty begins as they realize what was done to them, what was stolen from them, how they were used, harmed, controlled by someone else. This can be a long process, and it may not seem like it is going anywhere because of the repetition that Dr. Langberg refers to above. But it’s so important to note that the pattern of a survivor repeating their story over and over again is very normal.

I remember meeting with Pastor Ken Garrett and a group of friends at a picnic. Most of the people there had been part of the cult that Ken was involved in. At that time, it had been over 12 years since people had left the cult.  Some of us shared our abuse stories. It was a safe place. We all understood abuse and wanted to listen and share in their suffering. I looked around the group. I saw tears streaming down cheeks as stories were shared. Even though this had happened over 12 years ago, the pain was still very real. I believe this opportunity was another step in their healing process. It was another time where they could say with their voice and be heard what was done to them.

Survivors will feel the need to repeat their stories. This is when they need people who will sit with them in the trenches. It is as if when they repeat their experience, they are finally allowing themselves permission to understand that it really happened to them, not someone else over there. The abuse issue, when the survivor was in the abusive environment, kept the reality of abuse at a safe distance emotionally, because it would have been far too difficult to process then. It is by repeating the same story over again that the blinders slowly fall off. Truth of the abuse is acknowledged, and they come to their own conclusions about what they incurred, “Oh, that is why I felt or responded this way,” “I didn’t realize how he needed to use me for his own personal gain,” “by abusing me, he stole this from me,” etc.

It is very important that survivors process what happened to them and that they are able to make their own connections. This is often what happens as someone is telling their story. They are hearing themselves speak it out loud. They are connecting with their own story and making conclusions about what happened to them. Finally, they are giving the abuse and conflicts the time they deserve, but this time in a safe environment without outside distractions, and especially people who might minimize their story, dismiss it, or even blame them.

Greater love has no one than this,

that one lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

One of the amazing things about this process of a survivor telling their story to someone safe, is that they are doing a lot of their own work. As Dr. Langberg said above, when they are in the midst of an abuse situation or environment, their brain is working hard to survive. It doesn’t have time to connect with the emotions. Their energy is used up for questions like: what is going to happen next? how should I respond? how can I get out of this situation? There may or may not be clarity about the situation. While they are in the midst of the trauma or abusive situation, they may not understand or have identified that they are in an abusive situation, but there is a sense of conflict, nonetheless, and that conflict takes energy.

I was speaking with a domestic abuse survivor yesterday, and she was telling me about the confusion and conflict she felt. Because she wasn’t experiencing physical abuse, she didn’t know that she was experiencing abuse, so she minimized her own abuse as simply a relational issue. This is what can often happen with spiritual abuse. There may not be an awareness that an abuser has used their power or influence to control you. You may identify uncomfortable feelings, but the abuse word may never register.

I have been the recipient of people who have chosen to go into the trenches with me and trench, spiritual abuse, advocatemy abuse journey. It is the most generous and incredible gift I have received. Having someone give you their time, listen to you, acknowledge your pain, your loss, be nonjudgmental is a rare gift these days. But it is life-changing.

Are you willing to get your feet all mucky and dirty in a trench? To listen to stories of anger and pain? Next time you see a trench, let it remind you that you can be a gift to vulnerable and abused people by choosing to give the gift of time. You can acknowledge their pain and loss, encourage them, and simply be there.

photo credit: IMG_8774 via photopin (license)

Seeking the Truth about the Saeed Abedini Story: Part 1

***


Administrative note:
Michael Newnham has given me permission to cross-post his article from Phoenix Preacher blog. We have both spent countless hours investigating, talking with people, gathering source documentation, first separately, and then when we realized we were uncovering similar information, made the decision to work on this as a team.

As a personal note, I have such great respect for Michael. He led the way on social media reminding everyone each week to pray for Saeed and his family, petitioning God for Saeed’s release from Iranian prison. When news came of Saeed’s release and there were allegations of domestic violence, etc, he was quite shocked. It took quite a bit for Michael to even consider that what we had been told by ministries and leaders that perhaps all was not as presented. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with a man who has much integrity and wants the church to remain true and set apart in this dying world. ~Julie Anne


Seeking the Truth about the Saeed Abedini Story: Part 1

by Michael Newnham

1This is Part 1 of a multi part series that will explore the situation around Saeed Abedini, his imprisonment, and his actions before and after his captivity.

When Saeed Abedini was imprisoned in Iran in the summer of 2012, the church here and abroad set about to free him with one of the biggest campaigns in recent memory.

Abedini was presented to us as an innocent missionary, a man of God imprisoned for his faith in Jesus Christ.

He was held in horrible conditions we were told, tortured and beaten, often at the edge of death.

The church mobilized as rarely before as organizations like the American Center For Law and Justice, men like Franklin Graham, and hundreds of churches and individuals took up the cause.

Millions of dollars were raised, millions of words written and messages sent to free Abedini before it was too late.

The more we learn, the more we call into question the truth of the narrative we were fed.

According to an Iranian publication these pictures were taken in the prison Abedini was in from November 2013 on.

saeed-in-prison-1

saeed-in-prison-2

saeed-in-prison-3

When I asked Abedini about these photos, he declined to comment.

Others were told that it was a trick perpetrated by the Iranian government to make it appear that he was fine.

When I personally asked him during a phone interview whether he was beaten and tortured as we were told, he continually reiterated that it had been for the first six months.

That brings into question what was going on in the two years after that.

Many of us were astonished by the fact that Saeed Abedini looked rather fit when he arrived back in the U.S.

We were further astonished to hear that Abedini had a cell phone and was able to not only communicate with his family, but to watch movies and surf the net.

These pictures may explain how that was the case….

These same pictures appeared on Naghmeh Abedini’s wall and then disappeared.

Sources tell us that she was allegedly ordered to do so by the ACLJ.

The question before the house is this…

Were Franklin Graham, the ACLJ, and Naghmeh Abedini aware of and exaggerating the truth of Abedini’s captivity?

Two years ago, the ACLJ published this;

“Pastor Saeed is facing constant threats to his very life in the new prison.  There have been several nights where he has awoken to men standing over him with knives.  Pastor Saeed’s “cell” is only separated by a curtain from the rest of the violent prisoner ward he is forced to share, allowing dangerous prisoners – murderers and rapists – unfettered access to him 24 hours a day.

He has also been robbed at knifepoint several times, stripping him of what few necessities he has been permitted to purchase for personal hygiene.

As a result of the robberies, the utterly deplorable conditions of the prison, and the lack of doctor-prescribed medication which is being withheld by prison authorities, Pastor Saeed’s health has quickly deteriorated.

The pain in his stomach has returned and he is now experiencing increased pain in what he described to his family as his kidneys.  As a result of repeated beatings in Evin prison, Pastor Saeed suffered from internal bleeding.  After months of being refused medical care, Pastor Saeed was allowed to see a doctor and was prescribed medication earlier this year.  As a result of that medication, his physical condition had improved and his pain had subsided.  However, since being moved from Evin to Rajai Shahr last month, Iranian officials have refused to allow him this critical medication and his condition is worsening.

He is being refused medication, prescribed by Iranian doctors, for injuries he sustained from prison beatings.  This is one of the most deplorable human rights violations imaginable.

To make matters worse, the prison conditions and lack of basic hygiene have led to his body being covered head to toe in lice.  Because of the lice and increased pain, Pastor Saeed has been having trouble sleeping.  He is also experiencing symptoms of recurring urinary tract infections.  There is no medication to stop the infections.  He is now also experiencing significant joint pain.

His family reports that Pastor Saeed has also noticeably lost weight in the new prison from lack of proper nutrition.

The conditions he faces are unfathomable.  He faces direct threats to his life on an almost daily basis.

…The time is now to pressure Iran for his release.  Each day could be his last.”

Were the conditions of his captivity continually exaggerated to keep attention on his plight?

Some sources say yes… and that Naghmeh Abedini was allegedly instructed by others to lie about them when she had questions herself..

We received this statement from Mrs Abedini’s representative;

“During her husband’s imprisonment, Mrs. Abedini’s driving concern was always the safety of her husband and she followed the advice of the counsellors that were helping her achieve that end. Her information regarding Saeed’s prison experience came directly from him and those who visited him, and when they were able to be in contact, he actively directed her in what he expected her to do.

Now that Saeed has been released, she is praying for the restoration of her family”

Let me be clear…any imprisonment is painful and difficult.

However, the public would have interceded without any embellishment of the facts.

It is purported that Abedini’s situation was a cash cow for both Graham and the ACLJ, as well as a political tool for those hoping to stop the Iranian nuclear deal proposed by President Obama.

Framing his captivity in the direst possible way would have enabled the donations to keep flowing and kept the story on the front burner of American media.

Thus, the public in general (and the church in particular) were possibly subject to, if not outright fraud, gross misinformation.

Today, Saeed Abedini will speak at your gathering…for a reported 7500.00…using the old narrative.

If this narrative is a mixture of fact and fiction, it was mainly propagated by Naghmeh Abedini who tirelessly traveled the world to advocate for her husbands release.

While I believe she is complicit in whatever untruths were spread, I also believe that she was quite possibly a victim of powerful men, especially her husband.

It was that abuse that she said caused her to cease her advocacy and that we will examine more closely in the second part of this series.

phoenixpreacher@gmail.com

So, We’re Collecting Money for a New Documentary to Promote a Specific Doctrine?

***

A blog reader alerted me to a kickstarter, or fundraising effort. Les Lanphere created the kickstarter to raise money for a new documentary on Calvinism called, Calvinist.

Les Lanphere describes himself as, “a film maker who has worked in a variety of areas in production and post production on films like Transformers 3, The Smurfs, Epic, and Rock of Ages. Les is also one of the hosts of a popular Christian podcast called the Reformed Pubcast.”

What is the purpose of the documentary? It is:

A film seeking to explain Calvinism, celebrate its recent resurgence, and to answer the question, “What’s next?”

I tried to embed the video summary, but was unable to. Here is the link.

Notice the big names in this documentary: Kevin DeYoung, Ligon Duncan, Michael Horton, Tim Challies, Carl Trueman, Voddie Baucham, James White, R. Scott Clark, and Joe Thorn.

A few quotes popped out at me as I read this. Those who have been reading the blog for a Calvinist documentarywhile know that I object to labels. I find they can be misleading. For that matter, I know many people who label themselves as “Calvinist,” or “complementarian,” etc, but do not know exactly what the word means. Another issue with labels is there seems to be a continuum for many of them.

For example, with Calvinism, one can be a 5-point Calvinist, but even a 2-point Calvinist will call themselves a Calvinist.  Um . . . hello . .  that’s less than half of TULIP’s primary beliefs. Some couples claim to be complementarian, yet to outsiders, they function like egalitarians. As I said . . . so much for labels. They may not fully represent someone and their beliefs, and can be quite confusing and complicate matters.

I digress.

Here are a few sentences that stuck out to me:

CALVINIST is a film about a powerful and interesting movement God has orchestrated over last generation that finds its roots in a rich and fascinating history.

 

Calvinist documentary1Powerful and interesting movement that God has orchestrated? How do we know that God orchestrated it? Did he send direct e-mails to key people in the movement? I’m not sure that all non-Calvinists would agree with this. If you are a Calvinist, I’m sure this sounds pretty special. To outsiders, not so much. To me, it sounds like a bunch of hype. And for the record, I do not like hype. I saw what it did in my former church. If I saw a documentary selling Arminianism, I’d be having a similar cow. Moooooo!

Rich and fascinating history? I don’t care about this kind of history and decalvinist documentaryad men. I know
a few people who would gasp at this. ::::shudder:::: I am a Believer. I am of the priesthood of Believers, as every Christian is, both men and women alike – as in e.q.u.a.l. Dead men did not have any more access to God than you or me, so it bothers me when people elevate dead men like this. Give me Jesus.

 

 

I’m a musician and my brain just traveled here. Please join me:

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus
When I am alone
When I am alone
Oh, when I am alone
Give me Jesus

 

Amen! Now that’s what I’m talking about. No hyped up dead men, or alive men, or special doctrine, just Jesus and me (or you).
I digress, Part 2.
Oh, have you been noticing the screen-caps of the rewards for donors? Gotta love the Calvinist terms, like irresistible in this one:
3

 

Back to the bothersome, annoying quotes.

 

CALVINIST will be modern, youthful, and energetic. The tone will be encouraging while also challenging.

Say what? Because Calvinism (or any other doctrine, for that matter) has to be doctored up and sold to the masses, “modern, youthful, and energetic?”  Puh-lease.  Can we stop this madness? God is – He just is. He needs no modernization or fixing, period.

By supporting this project you are helping to explain to the world the wonderful doctrines of grace and allowing a generation to tell their story. As more people hear what Calvinism is really about, who knows what God may do…

To this, I say, there is nothing new under the sun. Take that money and be the hands and feet of Christ in your churches and community. Help a domestic violence survivor with childcare expenses so she can go to school. Shoot, pay for her tuition. Buy someone a car who has no transportation to stay gainfully employed.  Help fill someone’s fridge. There are life/death situations all around us and money is being raised to sell a doctrine?  Lord, help us all.
End rant.
~ja

 

Practical Guidelines for Teaching Complementarity

Ligon Duncan, CBMW, Complementarianism, Egalitarian, headship


 

Practical Guidelines for Teaching Complementarity

by Kathi

 

Ligon Duncan stresses that if pastors do not regularly teach complementarity, then “we lose on this issue.”

 

 

Screenshot 2016-07-04 at 12.15.57 PM

Feel free to play along while you watch the video. You are guaranteed a black out!

 

In April, Ligon Duncan addressed pastors at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) pre-conference of the 2016 T4G conference regarding how to address complementarianism.


Duncan offered eight guidelines for pastors when teaching complementarianism. Three celebrate complementarianism, and five realizations as you practice this “Biblical” view.

You have to teach and preach complementarianism.

Duncan stresses that if pastors do not regularly address complementarianism, then congregations will be won over to the teachings of culture and “we will lose on this issue.” Duncan also stresses that pastors need to make sure that leaders in the church are equipped in this teaching as well.

This leads me to wonder: how often is he talking about addressing this issue from the pulpit? Every other Sunday? Every Sunday? Should it be taught in Sunday school classes and small groups? How about in children’s and youth ministries? If he is calling for equipping leaders, then it sounds like he wants the church to be infiltrated to follow complementarianism on all fronts.

The church needs to become a culture that honors women and loves people who struggle with same sex attraction.

Duncan states that when pastors teach on complementarity they will be labeled as misogynistic and homophobic. Yes, very true. So how is a pastor to combat that view? By publicly honoring women and loving people with same sex attraction.

It is this part of the talk where I get the feeling that Duncan is stressing that complementarianism requires an image make-over. Is he sincere about honoring and loving? I really hope so. However, he goes on to say that he hopes that women’s and gay’s testimony to complementarianism is that “we’re not treated like that.” So really, it seems more of concern about how complementarianism is portrayed than anything else.

As you celebrate “beautiful complementarianism” make sure men know that headship is a service and not a “tool for self-interest.”

Doesn’t this make you wonder why Duncan must tell pastors to address that women should be honored and men cannot use complementarianism as a tool of abuse? In relationships where each partner is treated as an equal, men do not need to be reminded that they are given a “unique responsibility.”

And, for good measure, I’ll throw this quote out to stand on its own:

When women realize that the Bible’s teaching on men being godly spiritual leaders in the home is something that is in their best interest, they are the people in local congregations that are loudly most for it.

Sigh. I haven’t realized what is in my “best interest.”

Moving on to the realizations…

Don’t assume the next generation agrees with complementarianism.

Gasp! And if they don’t?! What is a pastor to do?

Don’t panic!

A pastor must show the next generation the beauty of complementarianism by living it out in marriages and preaching it from the pulpit.

Polity is theology.

This is what it all comes down to. It’s not the death, burial and resurrection of Christ that dictates theology, but church policy and governance on complementarianism. A secondary issue becomes a primary theological issue.

Don’t overreact.

The goal here is to stay calm and carry on. Don’t restrict women’s ministries in the church and make sure that people understand that preaching/teaching of the church is to be done by “qualified men.” Apparently this is not a male/female issue, but an issue of making sure that a qualified man does the job.

Be firm in your conviction and winsome in your persuasion.

Make sure ardent feminists and gays are offended by your teaching yet are overwhelmed by the respect and love you show them.

None of this information is new. Duncan has been teaching about complementarianism for years. But I get the feeling that there has been a bit more push back toward CBMW in regard to their teaching. More women are telling their stories about suffering through abusive marriages that resulted from following strict gender role teaching. Aimee Byrd recently wrote a fantastic post about how CBMW has left complementarian women feeling betrayed by their silence.

CBMW needs to learn that showing respect and love to people, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, is what should be preached from the pulpit because it is how God commands us to live. That should be the primary issue on a pastor’s heart.  Any public display of honoring a woman or loving a gay person will only be seen as a facade if all you are doing is attempting to show that complementarianism is “not like that.”

SSB Gathering – July 3, 2016

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

tiny flower

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Luke 13: 31 – 14: 14

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day – for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent.

Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” And they had nothing to say.

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

 Proverbs 3: 27-28

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow” – when you now have it with you.

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***:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

***
Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

***

photo credit – Kathi – Tiny flower

Doug Phillips: The Sex Abuse Lawsuit Conclusion and Epilogue of His Vision Forum Shipwreck

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Doug Phillips Lawsuit, Lourdes Torres, Sex Abuse, Vision Forum, Spiritual Abuse

 


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Doug Phillips, Vision Forum Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 12.03.20 PM

It’s been a long while since there have been any updates on the Lourdes Torres vs Douglas Phillips lawsuit. Normally, I received updates from Attorney David C. Gibbs III, who represented Lourdes Torres. Either he would e-mail or text me, or I would inquire of him, and he or another attorney from his office would respond quickly.

Because of the influence Doug Phillips had in so many lives in the Christian Homeschool Movement, I’ve tried hard to get information from first-hand sources. Sadly, after several requests, I have not received any response from Attorney Gibbs’ office regarding recent updates on this case; however, Free Jinger, a website that hosts discussions on the culture, abuses, and key people in Christian fundamentalism, noted mid-May that the court case was dismissed:

 

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I was also told by a couple of very reliable sources that the lawsuit was dismissed, settled out of court, and a gag order in place, so that would explain why we haven’t heard anything from Lourdes Torres or anyone.

I’m disappointed with the outcome of this case for a number of reasons. Although this case primarily concerned Doug Phillips’ inappropriate relationship and grooming of an underage teen, then using his position of authority as clergy, boss, and mentor to continue the relationship after she became an adult, it represented much more than that.

While Phillips’ ship has sunk, and the case has closed, it doesn’t really feel finished to me. Lourdes Torres was the sacrificial lamb who bravely spoke out about this clergy abuse. She helped to sink the ship of Doug Phillips’ ministry, Vision Forum, which had been a mainstay in the Christian homeschool community for many years. However, it feels like Phillips got away with harming much more than a Titanic-full of people. People who boarded his ship, expected a captain who would safely navigate them. They had no clue that he was going to cause a shipwreck.

One cannot say that this lawsuit only affected Lourdes Torres, Boerne Christian Assembly, and the Phillips family. As a result of Doug Phillips’ so-called ministry demise, some families have shattered and had difficulty picking up the pieces. Some have shipwrecked their faith. I read e-mails from divided spouses and families: one spouse wanted to discard the teachings of Phillips, while the other wanted to continue Phillips’ teachings. How does a family reconcile this kind of conflict?

While Doug Phillips and his family have now abandoned the idea of family-integrated churches (which he claimed was the right way to go to worship as a family), he and his family have joined a traditional church in Texas with segregated age groups (something he taught against). He also failed to abide by the church rules he helped establish when he founded the church, Boerne Christian Assembly.

In November of 2014, elders Jeff Horn and David Fry posted a note at the Boerne Christian Assembly website (which now doesn’t seem to exist) that Philips was excommunicated. Doug Phillips has done nothing to resolve that issue. No big deal for him, he just wiped his hands clean of his old life and is starting a new one with his family.

In closing the final chapter of Doug Phillips and his shipwrecked ministry, I thought it would be good to reflect on a couple of comments left here at SSB by two individuals during the height of the Doug Phillips scandal. I do not believe these two individuals have commented since that time, but they obviously had a need to share what they had gone through. Their personal stories about sex abuse and patriarchy represent real lives and most likely echo the experience of others.

 

I was sexually and spiritually abused by a spiritual leader in our church starting at age 13. Unless you have lived that experience, you cannot understand the anguish and struggle it is to be whole again with both God and self. The shame, the confusion, the lost innocence, losing the childlike faith you had in God and “Jesus loves me this I know” because you no longer “know”. S’s comments obviously show her own unhealed, bitter woundedness from her husband’s unfaithfulness, as it is a very selfish stance to ever blame the one under the control of a man of such age, authority, spiritual position and charm as DP (and my own abuser).

I was sucked into the Patriarchial [sic] mess 9 years ago when our state’s Christian homeschool conference changed from teaching us how to teach our children, to guilting us in how badly we were living as families of faith. In my own spiritual mess of striving to please God, as I was not yet whole from the abuse, I quickly fell for the charm, the smiling, happy-looking families, the mandate that to be right with God we must live their way. To have our children saved, faith-filled, strong in the Lord, we must live their way. To pass on the mantle of faithfulness that the world could not destroy in them or future generations, we must live their way–and of course, that meant buying and using what they sold.

For 3 1/2 years I wore skirts only. I finally convinced my husband to let us go to a FIC [family-integrated church]. We were all miserable, but that only meant that I was failing to “get it right”. Somehow, someway, I was missing the message. So much fear grew in me. My family, my children were not going to turn out right. I was failing them and failing God. Wow!! Exactly what my abuser had once told me, “Saying no to him was saying no to God and failing him was failing God.”

I just found out about all of this on Saturday when I came across the World magazine article on DP [Doug Phillips] someone posted on Facebook. Although we have been away from the FIC for 5 years and patriarchial [sic] thinking in general for 3, it was fresh salt to the wounds. I have thousands of $’s in materials from VF that have been sitting on shelves untouched because I have been so unsure, uncertain in what to believe. Today, I will box them up for the dump. I see freedom in my future. But for now, this is all so very painful.

Unless you have walked in any shoes similar to Victim, you CANNOT understand. To be sinned against in such a way, in the name of Jesus, is indescribable. I apologize for writing so much, but I do appreciate having a safe place to express these deep emotions. Thank you!

 

 

 

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Longtime lurker as I’ve been sorting through extricating my family from this patriarchy culture. As a father of 4 daughters, reading what this sociopath has done makes me want to meet him in a dark alley and educate him in the usefulness of Israeli special forces training. And by this I completely mean I would kick his @#$. Your pushup regimen wouldn’t help one iota Doug.

All these patriarchy wimps can ‘pray’ for him and his wife, and try to sound holier than thou with their long-winded sophistry. Deep down they are still intimidated by him and wondering if he’ll rise like a phoenix. Better to not be too overt in their dismissal right? Quietly distance because ‘its the ‘Reformed Christianese’ way to handle it, right? Some are merely swooping in to fill the patriarchy vacuum and acquire the cash flow stream that was VF.

No. Real men kick @#$ when things are obvious. Real men protect and fight when needed. This is why Lourdes’ family chased this predator down the street after he jumps out her window. They are the real men. They don’t just ‘play’ one on stage or in self-aggrandizing ‘crockumentaries’. They ended it right then and there. Looking down the barrel of a gun. Real men. With fire in their betrayed eyes. No lifts in their cowboy boots needed, Doug.

Patriarchy puts the weight of the world via Old Testament manipulation on families, then runs to the New Testament for ‘forgiveness’ when the fruit of these doctrinal entrapments are shown in the light of day. It’s called EVIL doctrine. Wolves in sheep’s clothing. We’ll know a tree by its fruits. Their brand of ‘forgiveness’ is attempting to hide it (VF Board) to protect the cash cows (I mean ‘ministries’).

Equally culpable are the sycophants who equate Phillips with some kind of modern-day King David archetype – ‘well, he ‘fell’ but I still believe what he taught was Biblical’…are you kidding me?! This knee jerk quasi-biblical response is merely projection. They actually do (or did) view him as their king. Not Christ. Little doug fricking phillips.

They are that blind. *I* was that blind. Lock, stock and barrel. A one time conference speaker, leader in a well known ‘reformed’ church, the whole shootin’ match. Could smell the megalomania on Phillips from the first time I met him, but ignored my better judgement. Just wasn’t ‘reformed’ enough I told myself. Wrong. I was ignoring red flags because something inside me wanted to be in the ‘inner circle’ with these yahoos. That’s how a cult is designed – to make people deeply revere and subsequently want to become one of the leaders.

Strange brew because this cult is more like a network – almost like the tapes and seminar kingpins of Amway. Different leaders and power structures around the U.S. – all vying for paid speaking gigs at each other’s events. They are information and event marketers, pure and simple. These are not ministries. While small potatoes in the world of business, they still rake in hundreds of thousands a year – under the guise of 501c3 status. It’s profitable! And just like Gothard and every other deceived ‘celebrity’ minister turned information marketer – they believe their monetary ‘success’ is God’s blessing. God’s ‘approval’ on what they are doing in this world to ‘take dominion’ and reconstruct America in the vanity of their mind’s eye. And if *they have ‘God’s’ approval, who are you and I to question it? MenoGAWD syndrome in the worst sort of way.

But thank God for the Holy Spirit opening my eyes and getting my family out of this mess. We are truly free in Christ, led by the Holy Spirit and in relationship with a loving Father.

We’ll be reading about this ‘movement’ on wikipedia as another creepy anomaly history lesson in American Churchianity. Beware of future iterations of it however. The wolves have to eat until they stand before God for their duplicity.

 

 

If you were affected by Doug Phillips’ teachings on Patriarchy, the Homeschool Movement, Courtship, family-integrated churches, etc, and would like to leave an update on how you and your family are doing, I’d especially love to hear from you.

Oh, one more thing – – I checked out VisionForum.com to see if there was anything left of the site. It has changed [see updated note below]. I don’t think it is quite what Doug Phillips, Esq. had enVisioned . . . or not.

 

vision forum, doug phillips

visionforum.com

 

Edited to note:  Gary W. correctly pointed out that the Vision Forum website used the address: http://www.visionforumministries.org, not Vision Forum.com.  I’m going to leave the above photo posted because of the irony of a website named Vision Forum. To me, this aptly describes how Doug Phillips lived his life. He lived the high life, while gambling with people’s lives. ~ja

Update again:  Ok, the Vision Forum store/catalog which sold books and gender-specific toys did use the VisionForum.com site!!  The ministry used the http://www.visionforumministries.org site.

SSB Gathering – June 26, 2016

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

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Luke 13: 10-29

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.” Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a  large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers.’

“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when yous see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

 1 Peter 1: 3-5

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

***


***:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

***
Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

***

photo credit – Kathi – Busy bee

Pastor Chuck O’Neal Badgers and Berates an Abortion Clinic Escort about His Manhood

Continue reading

A Brief Blog Respite and JA’s Back

Update from Julie Anne

Well, I didn’t intend to be away for so long or I would have posted something. Truth be told, every day I planned on posting something “tomorrow,” but as I followed my gut, that “tomorrow” didn’t happen, so obviously it wasn’t meant to be. I guess I needed the down time. I’ve been going to school even in the summer for two years now and didn’t realize how exhausted I was, physically, emotionally, academically.

Two years ago, I was only a high school graduate with a busy family and busy blog. Today, I now have my Associates degree (2 more years to go for my Bachelors), with a busy family and a blog that still has a bunch of readers who keep coming back for more, even though I haven’t published anything for the longest time in the blog’s 4-yr history. Thank you for your patience and support. You all are so gracious.

Here is how I’ve spent some of my time unwinding:

I taught my youngest how to do rug hooking.

 

I’ve been chauffeuring my youngest two back and forth to their Fun with Clay class each day. They already have their first project ready to go into the kiln and there’s still three weeks of class left. I love this. It’s 2 hours every day where they get to use their creativity and do not get distracted with technology.

 

The kids and I have been playing lots of Sequence. 

 

We’ve been picking raspberries from our prolific bushes. We already have picked enough for a few pies. If you haven’t ever had fresh red raspberry pie, they are amazing.

 

 

Last year I started making succulent arrangements. I had one arrangement outside and succulent pieces dropped in the soil beneath. This year, those little pieces have come up as volunteers, so I’ve created a little area and have helped them along by transplanting more starts so they will take over an area by our front walkway.  We live next to the Columbia River, and the rocks are river rocks we dug up from our yard. We have so many, so it’s fun to find creative ways to use them. I took this picture of the succulents a few days ago and there has already been significant growth in those few days. We probably won’t see any soil here by the end of summer – it will be full of succulents. I can’t wait!

 

 

I planted these perennials last year and they have quadrupled in size.  Kathi helped me discover the name: Rudbeckia hirta (Gloriosa Daisy). It’s been  fun to dig in the dirt and plant new annuals and perennials in the yard. I have missed this hobby.

 

 

And last, but not least, I’ve cast on a new knitting project. It’s been too long since I’ve last knit, and now I can enjoy a little down time while catching up with some favorite Netflix shows (currently Call the Midwife). I forgot this kind of bliss without school deadlines!

 

If you have sent me an e-mail in the last month or so and I have not responded, please try again. I’ve been trying to dig through the pile.  I’ve been working on a few ongoing situations that have updates, and also have had some deep thoughts on a new topic that hasn’t been discussed. So, hopefully, you’ll see more regular posts for the next few months while I”m on summer break.

Special thanks to Kathi for keeping the Sunday gatherings going each week!

 

SSB Gathering – June 19, 2016

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

horses

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Luke 12: 49 – 13: 9

“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?

“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled along the way,or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'”

 Psalm 10: 17 – 18

You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

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***:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

***
Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

***

photo credit – Brian – Horses

SSB Gathering – June 12, 2016

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

kinsale

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Luke 12: 22 – 48

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?” The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

“That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

 Psalm 28: 7

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

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***:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

***
Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

***

photo credit – Kathi – Kinsale, Ireland

When You are Done with Church

How Do You Respond When Someone Talks to You About Your Lack of Church Attendance?

st basils

Kathi here. For many years my family and I attended church. We faithfully went to Sunday service, Wednesday nights, gave our money and spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours volunteering. At one point, though, we realized that we were exhausted and disillusioned with “doing church,” so we decided to leave. We found our Sunday mornings to be more relaxing and stress free. It’s been nice.

Even though we do not attend a church, we have never lost our faith in God and we have found that the church is not confined to Sunday mornings in four walls. We now have relationships with people that we never thought we would because we no longer spend our free time with only church people. Actually, we never really left church. Church is different for us.

But that’s not enough for some people. Because I live in the same town where I used to go to church I inevitably run into someone that I spent many Sundays with. And, after chatting for a few moments I am always asked, “So where do you go to church now?” Which leaves me telling them, “nowhere.” Which leads them to saying, “Oh, you should try our church,” or “That’s too bad,” or “The church is really different now. You should try coming back.”

Then, I explain this blog, how I have met so many people here and how we are a church that supports each other. I am told that it’s not the same. And. they’re right. It’s not the same, it’s just different. You know what? I’m okay with different. I know that no matter how much I try to explain why we don’t go to church, I will never be understood.

If you are someone who is done with church, how do you respond when someone asks you about why you no longer go? Do you find that it is a source of contention between you and someone you know or love? Have you ever had to explain that your salvation is not dependent upon whether or not you go to church?

Photo credit – Kathi, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia

New Disturbing Tweet by John Piper

John Piper – Troubling Tweets


 

John Piper is known for troubling tweets. Here’s a new one. 

John Piper, troubling tweet, Calvinism

Below is the live link tweet. You can click on the timestamp to read the many responses:

 

Here are the Bible verses mentioned in the tweet:

Deuteronomy 5:9: Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

Ezekiel 18:20:  The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

A couple of tweets expressing their thoughts about the tweet:

 

 

 

SSB Gathering – June 5, 2016

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

strolling through venice

***

Luke 12: 1 – 21

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after than can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

“I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

And he told this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

 Psalm 34: 14

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

***


***:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

***
Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

***

photo credit – Kathi – strolling through Venice, Italy

The Challenge of Dealing with the Effects of Sexual Addiction, Pornography, Pedophilia by Family Members or Friends

Sexual addictions, pornography, pedophiles, family and friends of sexual addicts, S-Anon

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

***

 
Thanks for bearing with me as I’m getting hit with year-end activities for my children and me at school. I’m in the middle of cramming, finals, and looking forward to having a Summer break this year!

While the blog articles have tapered during my busy school schedule, the activity behind the scenes continues and I’m grateful for all I have learned in walking with people who are going through challenging and very difficult times. Last night was one such example which I’d like to share.

Last night, I attended an S-Anon meeting. It was my first time going to a 12-step meeting of any kind. I attended at the request of a new friend who, understandably, didn’t want to go to this meeting by herself.

 

What is S-Anon and for whom is it geared?

S-Anon a 12-step group that meets weekly for family members or friends of people addicted to sex (pornography, relationships, etc).

With any addiction, family and friends become a part of the addict’s system. Family and friends are impacted by their loved one’s addiction. It can affect them personally and in relationships, present and future. Additionally, how they respond to their addicted love one can have ramifications. Is the sex addiction talked about openly? Or is it the elephant in the middle of the room that people know exists, but refuse to talk about.

 

Would S-Anon be a good fit for me? The sexual addict I know is not in my immediate family.

At first, I was thinking that I really didn’t qualify to be at this meeting since there’s no sex addict in my immediate family and I don’t have close friends addicted to sex (to my knowledge, anyway). But then I realized that my in-law certainly has affected my immediate family. He is a pedophile, and our family has had to make very clear boundaries on visitation rules; for example, he is not allowed in our home, period. We allow time for meals, etc, but my kids are always reminded about safe touching, not being alone with him, etc. So, yes, I would benefit from these meetings, as would my adult children. There is a teen version of S-Anon, so that would be an additional option for my younger kids.

While the sex addict in my family is not in our immediate family, the situation has presented challenging issues for our family. We have had to broach the subject of sex and sex abuse at a very young age and in very clear terms with our children. We have had to grieve the loss of a normal grandparent-grandchild relationship.

I remember the day it struck me that my dreams of leaving our kids with the grandparents for a special weekend or a few days was completely out of the question. My children have had to find other “adopted” grandparents to fill some of those roles; but it will never be the same as most families where grandparents are an integral part of their lives. That’s just one of a number of losses we have faced due to sexual addiction. This is definitely something I could bring up at a future meeting that has affected me. Do I have anger about it? You bet! I wanted my children to have the best childhood possible and that was robbed from them (and me) due to the pedophile.

 

S-Anon, wife of pedophile, pornography, sexual addictionsWhat about other areas of sexual addiction are discussed?

Another area that I’ve seen an increased amount of discussion is the issue of a husband’s use of porn (including child pornography) and it’s effect on marriages and families. This is a very real and ongoing problem many Christian families face. The sense of betrayal, lack of trust, self-blame, body shaming issues really come to surface for wives of porn addicts. With porn, the marriage bedroom becomes very crowded and complicated. This takes its toll on wives, and the ripple effect on the children can become very apparent. If the sexual addiction interferes with a job and the addict gets fired, obviously this will have severe consequences on the family.

Because sexual addictions are such a secretive sin, children might sense that something is wrong, but not know quite what it is. They might not understand why mom is so depressed. It would be good to explore this topic more and I hope to be able to share personal stories because I know it is a growing issue that is rarely addressed from the pulpit. I wonder how many wives of sex addicts are sitting in the pews each Sunday at church wondering how their church can help them. It’s typically not  a topic that pastors address. Where will these wives turn for help?

Over 3 years ago, I posted the first article on wives of pedophiles, Being Married to a Pedophile: A Wife Speaks Out and Offers Hope to Other Wives of Pedophiles. This was written by a SSB reader, Anon3, who shared her experience and offered words of hope to another wife of a pedophile. I wish I had kept track of how many women have found that blog post and responded. Looking back, I would say that on average, one person per week has either comment or sent an e-mail asking for help. Those are just people who land at the blog by doing using search engines. Wives of pedophiles would certainly be welcome at A-Anon meetings.

 

What are the meetings like?

The meeting we attended was quite small, but it varies at every location. The meeting is structured and begins with reading excerpts from their S-Anon book which establishes the rules, objectives of the meeting, and a focus topic area. There is a time where people are allowed to share and a closing. It is confidential and what is said there, needs to remain there.

What I did find is that it is a safe place to gather, share personal stories, get encouragement and support. So many times when we are dealing with something by ourselves, we take it personally, blame ourselves. When we open up with others and exchange stories, we will see familiar behavioral patterns. This is similar to the familiarity many of us have had with spiritual abuse. We have a common denominator with similar, but not exactly the same experiences. (More questions about meetings.)

I think in time, an S-Anon member can get clarity and understanding why they have responded the way they have: why they may have trust issues, why they may have anger, etc.

Knowing and identifying these patterns will be helpful when learning to make healthier decisions and setting appropriate boundaries with the sexually addicted loved one. This is not an easy process. It takes work, but I have spoken with several people who have said the program has given them great tools.

I sensed that those who were at the meeting last night found confidence, understanding, and a tremendous amount of weight lifted from them as have traveled this journey. Rather than trying to survive, they seemed to be thriving AND have enough energy left to help others along in their journey. That was very encouraging for me to see.

For those who have just found this article via a search engine and who are dealing with a sexual addict, welcome.  You are in a difficult place, but you are certainly not alone. You are always welcome to comment here on the blog. I also have a private forum you may ask to join. (Email me at spiritualsb@gmail.com). But I also encourage you to seek out a local S-Anon for ongoing support. You definitely do not need to walk this road by yourself. Many have done it before you and would like to offer support.

Here are a few questions from a longer set of questions at the S-Anon website:

Is S-Anon for you?

  • Have you felt hurt or embarrassed by someone’s sexual conduct?
  • Have you secretly searched for clues about someone’s sexual behavior?
  • Have you lied about or covered up another person’s sexual conduct?
  • Have you had money problems because of someone’s sexual behavior?
  • Have you felt betrayed or abandoned by someone you loved and trusted?
  • Are you afraid to upset the sexaholic for fear that he or she will leave you?

You can see if there is a local S-Anon group in your area here.

Note: Although I used men as addicts in the examples above, women are not exempt from having sexual addictions.

 

If Being Hurt by the Church Causes You to Lose Faith in God . . .

 

This meme was posted on Facebook. For those who have been harmed by church leaders/people, what does this message say to you?  I’d love to read your first impressions of this meme.

 

 

 

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Capturing the Minds of Daughters via Reconstructionism, Gary DeMar, The American Vision, and the Homeschool Movement

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