SSB Gathering – September 25, 2016

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

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Luke 19: 28 – 48

After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Until it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.'”

Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They replied, “The Lord needs it.” They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you , even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

James 3:17 – 18

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

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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 – pumpkin patch

SSB Gathering – September 18, 2016

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

morning

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Luke 19: 11 – 27

While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’

“He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ ‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’

“The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’

“Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’ His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’

“Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’ ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’ He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and kill them in front of me.'”

Colossians 3: 11 – 17

Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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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 – September morning

“God’s Design” – Headship, Helper, and an Answer We Already Knew

God’s Design, Headship, Complementarianism, Biblical Gender Roles

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Image: Pixabay

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the titles below (except for The Answer We Already Knew) are chapters in the book.

Today, children, we learn about God’s perfect design for man and woman. Oh, and remember how men and women are equal, but different? We’re totally equal. (sigh)

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Image: From Kathi – Florence, Italy

“God’s Design for Man”

Here we learn that the way God created Adam and Eve teaches us about how God created man and woman. Because God made Adam first, that means that he is the head over the woman. Because God made Adam first, that means that man has the special job of having authority and responsibility over woman. This is evident in that Adam had the special job of being responsible in making sure that the command for not eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was kept.

Great way to be responsible, Adam.

Adam also had the special job of naming all of the animals. This is significant because when you name something, you have headship or authority over it. Just like when a girl is born she has her father’s name because he has headship over her. Just like when a woman marries she takes her husband’s name because her husband now has headship over her.

The authors state that Paul confirms the pattern for male headship based upon creation in 1 Timothy 2: 12-13:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve.

…as well as 1 Corinthians 11:3

But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

I’m going to leave that there. My personal thought for reading scripture is that we cannot pull a verse out of the Bible without considering the historical context for which it was written. Let’s talk about how these verses are used to define headship in the comment section.

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Image: Pixabay

“God’s Design for Woman”

Now we are supposed to learn that woman has a special design. However, the authors continue to talk about the special job of man. Adam had his job of naming the animals and realized that none could help him to be fruitful and multiply. Is the implication here that since sex with animals is not fruitful, God made Eve? hmm

With Adam created first and given the job of headship (again with Adam’s importance), naturally Eve’s job is to be “helping, supporting and submitting to (or accepting)” Adam’s leadership.

This is our lot in life, women. We are designed to help, submit, and support the man that God places over us as our head. Isn’t that special?

“Men and Women are Equal”

How would you begin to explain marriage to a child? Here, the authors attempt to compare men and women to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?? Yes, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; both are different but equally important to make the sandwich. This analogy has led to so many questions. What if you’re allergic to peanut butter? What if you don’t like peanut butter, but prefer almond butter? Then there’s the jelly; what if I like jam? This analogy has only left me questioning the whole argument.

Just like peanut butter and jelly:

So the first man and the first woman were given different jobs to do, but they were created equal – equally important, equally valuable, and equally made in God’s image.

With the definitions above regarding God’s design for man and woman, I’m totally picking up on the “equal” vibe. How can anyone think that the authors truly believe that men and women are equal? The constant hammering in the fact that the man is leader and woman completes (complements) man is a dead give-away that we are totally different. The fact that men and women are both made in God’s image seems merely coincidental.

The Answer We Already Knew

When this series first started, the question came up if this book would address the doctrine of Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS). There has been a lot of talk around the blogosphere lately of ESS. For those unfamiliar with the doctrine, the basic premise is that the relationship within the Trinity represents the relationship between men and women. When explaining this to children, it sounds like this:

Like the three persons of the Trinity, men and women are different from each other and have different jobs to do. Jesus, the Son of God, always obeys and submits to God the Father, even though the two are equal in power and glory. God the Father has a kind of headship over God the Son, but this doesn’t mean that the Son is any less important than the Father; they are equal.

Just like in God the Father’s relationship to the Son, the man has been given a kind of headship over the woman. We learn this from the Bible: “The head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” (I Corinthians 11:3). Even though their relationship and roles are different, a man and woman are equal, and each is just as important as the other.

When I started this series, I had not read ahead in the book. But, knowing that this book comes from a group aligned with Desiring God, I expected ESS to makes it’s way into the hearts and minds of children.

Now, the follow-up question (from the “Men and Women are Equal” chapter) to ponder and discuss: “In many places around the world, women are not treated with the honor and respect they should have as creatures created in God’s image. Why is this? How should we respond?”

SSB Gathering – September 11, 2016

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

-by Kathi

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I can image that most of us remember what we were doing when we heard the news about the attacks in New York City and the Pentagon and the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

May we keep in our hearts and minds today toward those who lost loved ones. May we continue to hope and pray for peace in a world that continues to war.

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Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fail; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

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Loving God of Peace: On this anniversary of unbelievable sorrow, comfort those who mourn, and guide our hearts toward healing and hope. Remind us of the love of Christ, love which leapt over cultural and ethnic boundaries to feed the hungry, seek the lost and care for the least. Make of Your children, no matter how we name You, one human family, bound together in the work of justice and peacemaking. Make us one with the Light that shines in the darkness and illumines a path toward understanding and reconciliation. Let love be our genuine call. Amen. – Prayer from Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Lewis

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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 – Pixabay

Clergy Sexual Abuse: If she consented to sex with her pastor, is she guilty?

Clergy Sex abuse, consent, sexual abuse, pastors who abuse, Tullian Tchividjian

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Last week I got in a Twitter debate with someone and I wanted to post a few significant tweets on:

clergy sex abuse

 

We were referencing Tullian Tchividjian and the sexual relationships he had with women while he was married and serving as pastor. Here are some tweets and discussion questions.  (By the way, I am working on an update on the Tullian Tchividjian saga. I’ve been sitting on some information for quite some time.)

Let’s talk!


 

 

Is it a slap in the face to call women who engage with their pastors as “victims?”

Is a woman who has sex with her pastor equally responsible?

 

SSB Gathering – September 4, 2016

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

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Luke 18: 35 – 9: 9

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, I want to see,” he replied. Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him,“Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.

I Corinthians 12: 22 – 26

On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need not special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

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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 – Tufted Puffin

“God’s Design” – Know Thyself, Creature

creation

God and Adam having a serious talk about who’s in charge.

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the titles below are chapters in the book.

Today we are gathering children around to discuss the first three chapters of God’s Design. Here we will learn that we have a creator and we are his creatures.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

“Knowing the Creator”

This chapter sets up the entire book by focusing on two points: God as creator and how he created us to work a certain way, and we can only understand ourselves when we understand the designer.

The flow of this chapter happens like this:

->Genesis 1:1 says we have a designer and we are “designed to work a certain way”…

-> The Bible gives us instructions on what we were made to do…

-> We are created “in His image,” so we are designed to be like Him…

-> Some people don’t follow the Bible so they are confused about themselves….

-> Do you trust God and His design for your life?

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

I would agree that we are all created in the image of God. In fact, I am amazed at how diverse God is when I view people from all around the world. Different skin tones, different heights, different body shapes, different mental and physical capabilities…the list can go on. But, when I read that we are “designed to work a certain way,”  I’m sure that the author is not referencing the fact that God blessed engineering minds with different capabilities than artistic minds or simply that boys have a penis and girls have a vagina. We know what this book is about so I think we can safely guess at what is meant by “work a certain way.”

My question then is this: If men and women are created in the image of God, and men and women are designed for different roles, does that mean that God also has a leadership/headship role and a submissive role? If God is creator and in complete power of everything (as we learn in the next chapter) how can he also be submissive to authority?

When the author says, “Those who do not honor, thank, and worship God end up confused about who they are and how they are to live,”I think, really? I know plenty of people who do not believe in God and they are not confused at all about themselves. I am left to assume that the lesson learned is: If you don’t follow the prescribed way we tell you to live (because it’s in the Bible), you will live in confusion. What a great way to start.

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“We are not the Creator”

That’s right. Get it out of your head. You are not God. You are a mere creature.

Remember being created in the image of God? Forget about it…you’re a creature.

And, as a mere creature, forget about complaining about how God created you. It won’t do any good anyway because apparently God is in complete control of us. Trust and embrace how you, creature, were created.

If we are created in God’s image, are we created with a mind, body and soul that reflects that image? And, if God is in complete control of us why do we need reminders to love one another? If God controls us, I would think that he would precisely do that – control us. That doesn’t explain why it is that Christian people are capable of doing horrible things. Perhaps thinking of yourself as a mere creature without any control over yourself is a bit depressing.

Stop thinking too hard about it, creature. Just accept it.

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“Created Male and Female”

Our last chapter if full of stereotypes that I’m sure you are all expecting. God created man and woman so that they could have lots and lots and lots of children creatures to fill the earth.

Boys like boy things such as guns and trucks and grow up to be masculine men. Girls like girl things like dolls and tea sets and grow up to be feminine women. Boys should dress like boys and girls should dress like girls. I really think that most of what we define as “boy things” and “girl things” is purely cultural. There was a time when boys wore dresses just like girls. Our commonly used pink for girls and blue for boys didn’t really catch on until after World War II.

So where does this leave a boy who likes to play with dolls? My son is younger than his sister and he loved to play whatever she was playing. There were times he would have painted finger nails and dress up in her swim suits (we have pictures to prove it!). Does a parent who teaches this book squelch that kind of play? And what about girls who love to wear pants, play with toy guns and end up joining the military? Are they not as feminine because they are not doing “girl things?” Then you enter the realm of people who are intersex. How confusing this teaching must be. They were created in the image of God, but they don’t quite fit a category.

The kicker of this chapter is the ending activity:

Discuss with your parents the ways that men and women behave differently. With their help, make a list of differences between men and women. Then go with your parents to a mall and notice how men and women are showing or not showing God’s good design.

And there’s your assignment for the day. Go to the mall, watch people and judge them based solely upon what you observe. What a way to raise children – to judge others instead of being compassionate.

Julie Anne’s Intruder, Softball, and Issues

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I promised an update on me and so here goes.  It seems that my generation and older seems to squirm about personal issues, but frankly, I’m tired of that. So, I’m posting what’s been happening with me because more often than not, when I do post on something personal, several people will usually e-mail me and tell me a similar story. We really are not alone in this world and I’m absolutely fine with this discussion.

Last Spring term at school, I could not wait for school to get out. I was completely spent. I could not get enough sleep. I attributed it to my busy lifestyle and just pure exhaustion. Boredom is a foreign concept to me.

One time at school, I had my period, and it was not pretty. Let’s just say that if Jesus were here walking down my street, I would the woman with the issue of blood racing to touch his robe. I knew that I needed to do something because after that day, I realized that every month, it would be necessary to remain at home for a few days so I could take care of said bleeding issue . . it was that bad, and it has gotten worse, currently over 6 weeks nonstop. I cannot afford that kind of disruption at school.

Additionally, for the last couple of years, I noticed weight again — specifically in my belly. If you are around my age, every symptom known to womankind can be attributed to pre-menopause or menopause symptoms and so that was the explanation I gave myself. It’s a lot easier to blame that than to interrupt your schedule to make an appointment that will tell you what you already know, right?  :)

Well, I eventually had enough of the issue and finally scheduled an appointment with my gynecologist who informed me that my uterus was the size of a 12-wk pregnancy.

 

Whoa! Say what? 12-wk pregnancy?  No wonder I look like I’m 12 weeks pregnant!

 

I started poking and prodding my belly, and sure enough, could feel the top of my uterus just below my belly button. I am normally very in tune with my body, how could I have missed this?  I scheduled an ultrasound and had blood tests done. I’m slightly anemic – that explains why I’m tired all the time, and there is a uterine fibroid.  Mine measured over 10 cm – bigger than a softball. HELLO!!! 

What the heck?  What’s going on in my body that it needs a soft-ball sized fibroid? I’m envisioning each month a softball game going on in my nether regions and I wasn’t even invited to participate. Ridiculous!

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Here’s a bit of info:

About 20 percent to 80 percent of women develop fibroids by the time they reach age 50. Fibroids are most common in women in their 40s and early 50s. Not all women with fibroids have symptoms. Women who do have symptoms often find fibroids hard to live with. Some have pain and heavy menstrual bleeding.

Fibroids also can put pressure on the bladder, causing frequent urination, or the rectum, causing rectal pressure. Should the fibroids get very large, they can cause the abdomen (stomach area) to enlarge, making a woman look pregnant. (Source)

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Evidently, many women have fibroids and never know it because they do not cause any symptoms. These are the women who go on in life with no issues. And obviously they or their body can easily tolerate the uninvited intruder. They be havin’ a good time playing softball without any negative effects. Cool for them!

 

 

I guess I’m special because the intruder is wreaking havoc on me physically. And as chief umpire, I’m calling this softball along with its player officially:

OUT!!!

 

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Tomorrow is the day I will be free!!!!  The invader (fibroid) and its host (my uterus) have one last day of residing in my body.  I have surgery first thing in the morning tomorrow. I will stay overnight in the hospital 1 or possibly 2 nights depending on recovery. Because of the size of the uninvited guest, the surgery will be done via abdomen, so I’ve been hearing it will be comparable to a c-section. So, for anyone who has had a c-section or this kind of surgery, please let me know what helped you in your recovery process.

I have no idea what will become of the blog for the next few weeks.  Will it interfere with my writing mojo?  Or, will it make me have more time for writing?  Anyway, I guess we’ll find out together.

Thanks for hanging on with me.  I have another post coming up and will be scheduling a new blog post of Kathi’s as she continues her series on reviewing the book, God’s Design. (Her excellent first article is here.)

The only knitting that will be happening is outside my womb from tomorrow on out – – haha!  Y’all, I can have a lot of fun with this.  Any and all jokes/puns are certainly welcome  :)  Yes, I am bringing my knitting needles to the hospital!

 

 

 

photo credits: Solano College Infielder Kylie Larsen (06) via photopin (license)Solano College Outfielder Molly Schnurr (14) via photopin (license), and Sierra College Catcher/First Baseman/Third Baseman Lexi Wagoner (21/33) via photopin (license)

 

 

SSB Gathering – August 28, 2016

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

river sunset

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Luke 18: 18 – 34

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”

“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” 

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.

I John 3: 17 – 18

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth.

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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 – Sunset on the Willamette River, Portland, OR

What Happened Last Week?

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Last week, I went to a memorial service in Portland and met someone I’ve been wanting to meet for a long time, Brad Sargent.

As long-time readers know, Brad has been a great help to me during my defamation lawsuit and on the blog for quite some time.  Brad spent hundreds of hours writing the BGBC archives because he thought my lawsuit was going to be another way that spiritual abusers would use to harm congregants. He’s been correct.  Since then, I’ve reported on other lawsuits or threatened lawsuits initiated by pastors against their congregants or former congregants. The archives have been a help for those congregants who are looking for information, want to know what could happen to them, etc. Most importantly, it lets those folks know that they are not alone, that someone else has walked that path, and no, they aren’t going crazy.

Brad has been studying abuse-related topics for decades and is in the process of writing a book and manual on systemic abuse. So, not only has he been a support to my case specifically, he has also been teaching me as we discuss other cases I’m working on. And he also looks over important posts that I think will generate a lot of interest and proofreads them for me.

Most importantly, Brad is a dear friend. I think the best support one can get for spiritual abuse is the comfort and affirmation from someone who also has experienced it. Brad gets it and has heard my tears. I hear a lot of stories, some of which can trigger what I’ve gone through or am currently going through. Brad is one of my sounding boards. So, after spending countless hours in e-mails and phone calls with him, you can see why I wanted to meet Brad.

I can attest that Brad is the real deal online and in person.  Here I am surprise attacking him with a selfie🙂

brad

 

On this trip to Portland, I also connected with Kathi again. We’ve met a few times – my favorite was when she invited herself to stay with me in Eastern WA (I loved that she invited herself, btw!!!).  I specifically wanted Kathi to have an opportunity to meet Brad, too, since we all work together in the same effort, so she was able to get off work early and drive in yucky Portland traffic to meet.

I tell you what, I didn’t seek people to help me out, they just kind of landed here and became part of the team, and I feel so fortunate to have these amazing people in my life. These two have tremendous hearts for hurting individuals. Not only are they great friends, but they are both self-motivated. When they see a need, they take the initiative to meet it — and I’m not just talking about the stuff you see visibly on the blog, but also behind the scenes, which also takes a lot of time. Kathi could be knitting, her favorite hobby, but she spends time giving to others. The same goes for Brad — well, I’m not sure about the knitting part, but you know . .  these people are the real deal.

brad1

 

If any of you follow us on the Facebook page, I’m sure you’ve seen Kathi and I go back and forth with each other, many times joking.  That’s how we do it. We have a lot of fun even while dealing with difficult and often tragic abuse cases.

Kathi and I decided to do a live Facebook video to share what our plans are for what’s left of the summer.  Let’s see if I can embed the video here. Here is a glimpse of what we have in the works and also what we are like when we talk together. It cracks me up. I love us.

 

 

 

Last week, you may have noticed there were no posts. Part of that was summer busy-ness – taking kids to music camp. Another time drainer is that we had a flood in our kitchen in July, so any kind of cooking is now camp style.  And I’ve had to spend time picking out flooring, counters, paints, appliances (since we’re doing so many upgrades), carpet, tile, yada yada. Holy cow – that takes a lot of time!

Additionally, there were doctors appointments and lab work done. I think I will make a new post for that. No worries. I’ll be fine. I think I’ll hit two birds with one stone in my next post, and you’ll see what I mean.

 

 

SSB Gathering – August 21, 2016

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

wahclella falls

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Luke 18: 1 – 17

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Matthew 18: 10

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”

***


***

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 – Wahclella Falls, Oregon

SSB Gathering – August 14, 2016

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

pretty latte

***

Luke 17: 11 – 37

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “God show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise up and go; your faith has made you well.”

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied,”The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”

Then he said to the disciples, ” The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or “Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life with preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”

“Where Lord?” they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”

James 2: 15- 17

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “God, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

***


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 – pretty latte

Vaccinating Children with Complementarian: Series Introduction – Review of “God’s Design” Gender Role Book for Children

Complementarian, Egalitarian, Teaching Children, Children Desiring God, John Piper


Series Introduction

Vaccinating Children with Complementarianism

by Kathi

Owen God's Design

The SSB Watch Dog  gives “4 Paws Down” for this book.

I spent many years reading books to my children. Homeschooling families know all too well the importance of reading. However, I can say that I never read a book like this to my kids.

God’s Design is a children’s books which teaches about the importance of  gender roles.

Oh, yes. You read that correctly.

About the Organization and Authors

God’s Design is written by Sally Michael and Gary Steward. It is published by P & R Publishing and sponsored through Children Desiring God. I purchased my copy through Amazon. Research and benefiting my charity of choice made this purchase a little bit easier to swallow. Here is some information about the authors from the back cover:

Sally Michaels is the cofounder, curriculum author, and publishing consultant of Children Desiring God. She is also an author, speaker, and former Minister for Children at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.

Gary Steward is an assistant professor of history at Colorado Christian University. Previously he served as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.

***

A couple of things stand out in these bios. First is the name, Children Desiring God. Does that sound familiar in any way? A simple Google search brought this up:

Screenshot 2016-08-05 at 9.30.02 PM

 

***

***

Yes, Children Desiring God is linked to Desiring God website. Desiring God’s year end 2014 statement has them listed as a ministry partner (or is it an extension of Desiring God? Either way, they are linked together.). Children Desiring God offers Sunday School curriculum, homeschool curriculum, books, seminars and an annual conference. Sounds like Children Desiring God runs about the same as Desiring God, only it’s solely geared toward children.

This leads me to my second stand out in the bios….who do you immediately think of when you hear Desiring God? It is no wonder that Sally Michaels is writing for Children Desiring God when she served at Bethlehem Baptist along side John Piper for 10 years (Sally’s husband, Michael, served for 20 years). What I want to know is how Sally managed to earn and maintain the coveted Minister title while working under John Piper’s leadership. Gary Steward also spent three years under John Piper’s tutelage and has contributed curriculum for Children Desiring God.

About the Book

God’s Design is roughly 100 pages long and consists of 26 short story chapters. Follow-up questions and activities are provided to ensure that children grasp the concepts in the lessons. The main purpose of this book is to build a theological foundation for “biblical manhood and womanhood” in children.

The preface offers more:

Now more than ever parents need to talk with their children in age-appropriate ways about God’s good design for manhood and womanhood. Parents also need to talk with their children concerning how many ideas about manhood and womanhood – egalitarianism, feminism, homosexuality, gender blending/bending – go against the beautiful design of gender complementarity.

And…

Children need to understand, before their teenage years, how God created men and women to be equal in personhood, dignity, and worth, and yet different regarding the roles He designed them to have.

We find many of the familiar catch phrases here. First there is the idea that egalitarianism and feminism go against the Bible. This is a hill to die on and for the life of me, I really do not understand why. All I can determine is that the last great stand for men to retain total power is in the home and in the church. I can understand why some Christians struggle with accepting homosexuality, but the reality is that God loves all people, and we should too. I find it fascinating how the theology of complementarity can be so focused on homosexuality. We must remember, though, that it is the view of biblical marriage which homosexuality threatens.

The other familiar catch phrase that is found in this part of the preface is how God created “men and women to be equal in personhood, dignity, and worth, and yet different regarding the roles he Designed them to have.” Different but equal. When will these folks ever learn that those who are “different” will never feel “equal” as long as this mentality is in place?

Continuing in the preface:

Hopefully this book can serve as a springboard for further interaction between parents and children, not just about manhood and womanhood, but about God and the gospel . May the Lord bless you as you inoculate your children against the Devil’s lies by speaking truth from God’s Word, and may your children grow up to be godly men and women who spread the light of the gospel and live out God’s design for men and women in a dark and needy world.

This book is about God and the gospel. THEIR gospel. That’s the problem with where complementarianism is at this point and time. It has become a primary doctrine issue and has become their gospel. The gospel is merely proclaiming the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and the eternal hope we have in Him alone. I often wonder if God looks down on these churches and leaders and is thinking that they have lost their first love.

But it’s this golden phrase that has me worried the most about this book: “May the Lord bless you as you inoculate your children against the Devil’s lies…” Oh, Lord, may we vaccinate our children against the evil lies of equality and women’s rights! This book may be damaged from being thrown across the room too many times.

About the Series

This series will consist of reviewing 2-3 chapters of God’s Design at a time. The goal is to post at least once a week. Given that summer is winding down quickly, we still have company coming to visit at some point within the next two months, and school will be starting back up, I may have to go a little longer in between. But, I will try to keep pauses short so that we don’t lose track in discussion.

Why am I doing this series? It’s not easy for me to hide my disdain for complementarity. I think that organizations such as Desiring God and CBMW have gone too far in convincing people that this is not one way of looking at marriage, gender roles, and roles in the church. It is the way. The gospel way. I think that their insistence on this issue is damaging and binds the freedom that we have in Christ. I hope you will find it informative to see what people embedded in the complementarian camp are using to vaccinate impressionable young minds.

SSB Gathering – August 7, 2016

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

starfish

***

Luke 16: 19 -17: 10

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to him.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.

“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith! He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

“Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'”

2 Corinthians 1: 3 – 4

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 have received from God.

***



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 – Starfish

How our Pastor’s Biblical Interpretation Can Affect Our Understanding of Scripture and God

***

This is a very insightful statement from C.J. Mahaney.

 

 

cj mahaney, spiritual abuse, chuck o'neal, beaverton grace bible churchWhen a pastor preaches,  he is leading his congregation in his interpretation of Scripture. It may or may not be correct. I know from reading many personal stories of those who were Mahaney’s church that his teachings caused spiritual harm. I don’t think he was referring to his own negative influence on his congregation when he composed his tweet.

It took me quite a while to figure it out, but at BGBC, I finally realized that my pastor did not fully preach about Jesus. The focus was on sin and law and getting saved. Jesus was primarily mentioned in reference to his death and resurrection. We weren’t encouraged spiritually, we were constantly reminded how sinful we were and how we had to repent and question our salvation. We were not built up in Christ. That part was left out. Instead, we were torn down, defeated, never rejoicing that His work was finished for us on the cross. 

How did I notice this? Because I found that I actually skimmed over verses that talked about being built up in Christ. As my pastor focused on his choice of key words and ideas and used verses to back up his teaching, he often failed to tell “the rest of my story.”  My eyes were focused on his words which were filled with doom and gloom. Since he didn’t highlight words of hope and assurance from Scripture, I placed those words at a lower precedence, too. His preaching influenced the way I read my Bible in a negative way, rather taking the whole passage in context and with thoughtful reading.

Oh, how my soul longed to hear words like this: 

“And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.” Acts 20:32

 

 

Janey The Small has it right above. I don’t think God wanted me to wallow in sin like my pastor was suggesting. It didn’t line up with what I believed Scripture was teaching me that I was a new creation in Christ once I became a Believer. 

Has your pastor’s interpretation of Scripture harmed you in your Christian walk?  

 

 

 

Help! My Family Member or Close Friend is Trapped in a High-Controlling Church or Cult. How Can I Encourage Them to Leave?

How to help a family member or friend leave a high-controlling church group or cult: spiritual abuse, trapped, thought reform, mind control, freedom


 

“Mind control is the process by which individual or collective freedom of choice and action is compromised by agents or agencies that modify or distort perception, motivation, affect, cognition and/or behavioral outcomes. It is neither magical nor mystical, but a process that involves a set of basic social psychological principles. Conformity, compliance, persuasion, dissonance, reactance, guilt and fear arousal, modeling and identification are some of the staple social influence ingredients well studied in psychological experiments and field studies. In some combinations, they create a powerful crucible of extreme mental and behavioral manipulation when synthesized with several other real-world factors, such as charismatic, authoritarian leaders, dominant ideologies, social isolation, physical debilitation, induced phobias, and extreme threats or promised rewards that are typically deceptively orchestrated, over an extended time period in settings where they are applied intensively.”
Steven Hassan, Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-Selling Guide to Protection, Rescue and Recovery from Destructive Cults

***

I’ve heard it said that losing a child to death can be a parent’s worst nightmare. Now imagine having lost your adult child and their family, not to death, but to a high-controlling church or cult. Imagine not being able to celebrate birthdays or major holidays together. Imagine having only limited contact with your adult child and their family. How could your loved one entirely dismiss you, act like you are a stranger or enemy when you did nothing to them?

The other day, I watched a video by Dr. Steven Hassan. He was in the cult, The Unification Church, also called, The Moonies. After he was deprogrammed, he went to school and became an expert on cults. When listening to his story, something resonated with me about his story.

When he was 19 years old, he fell asleep at the wheel (he was allowed only 3-4 hours sleep each night while in the cult) going 80 mph and crashed. He was hospitalized for two weeks. Although estranged from his family, he reached out to the only family member who had not said to him that he was in a cult, his older sister. This struck me as I reflected on my experience at Beaverton Grace Bible Church (BGBC), which I view as a cult.

How did I respond to people who knew I was in a cult and wanted me out? How did I determine whether someone was a threat to me, or if they were going to support me no matter what, even if it meant I remained at BGBC? I think the answers to these questions might help people to understand what happens in the minds of people trapped in a high-controlling environment. I hope my experience will help others who are trying to help get their loved ones out of abusive cult environments.

These high-controlling environments aren’t limited to the “weird” cults like The Moonies. I’ve heard from people whose adult children are connected and emotionally trapped with churches pastored by graduates of John MacArthur’s, The Master’s Seminary. This has also happened in Doug Wilson’s churches, Harvest Bible Chapel, Mars Hill Church, etc. Emotional and spiritual entrapment is not remote.

I’ve heard the heartache from some of these parents via e-mail and phone conversations. They just want their kids and their families free. They want to snuggle and spoil their grandchildren. But their hands are tied, and they desperately want to know what to do. How can they get their loved ones out of their spiritually abusive church? Is there something they can do?

 

trapped, spiritual abuse, cult, high-controlling churches

 

It’s important to understand the dynamics of these types of groups. The leaders of these high-controlling church groups or cults are spiritual and emotional bullies. In order for them to have a functioning group, they must maintain control of the group. There are a number of ways they do this. They keep group members so busy that they are not able to do many outside activities. They are elitist. They teach that their way is the only right way and anyone who does not believe like they do are off. Anyone outside the group is viewed as suspect.  Why is that?  Because the guru leader does not have control of them. Consequently, not only are they  (outsiders) viewed as suspect, they eventually will be called enemies because if they believed as the group leader believed, they would be part of the group, right?

Just as one cannot question leaders who have all the “right” answers, group members will be taught  — even without words being said — that anyone who questions them is against them, and thus, against their guru leader. There is no allowance for differing opinions. If someone does not like the group or the leader, they are the enemy. Group members will be told Bible verses about enemies, how there can be no light in darkness, etc. Consequently, group members will distance, and then shun the outsiders who are really family and friends who care about them. The bully leader does not have to directly say, “do not associate with your family.” The implication in his messages and teachings does this. And when one is that enmeshed in the high-controlling system, members play their part in keeping the group pure from the perceived “enemy.”

For those who have loved ones caught in a high-controlling church or cult, it is very important to learn what is going on in the mind of someone trapped in that environment, and to be a bridge to that loved one. By bridge, I mean someone who still has access and a relationship with their loved one(s). In high-controlling churches, sometimes all access is remove. If you still have access, albeit limited access to your loved one, I’d like to share with you what helped me maintain access with my good friends, as I was in such a high-controlling group.

I remember having at least five friends who were concerned about our family and group of friends attending Beaverton Grace Bible Church. These five friends were not pushy, but asked genuine questions about the teachings and about the behavior of our pastor, Chuck O’Neal. Some had attended a service, heard him preach online, heard him preach at a graduation ceremony. Many had watched us change. They did not like what they saw and wanted to alert us that we were not in a healthy place. Their heart and intentions were spot on; however, sadly, unbeknownst to them, their method may have sabotaged their efforts. I distanced myself from those who reached out to me in this manner. I removed that bridge in our relationship.

Important Lesson 1:  Your loved one is not being physically chained to their high-control group. They are chained emotionally and spiritually. Your most important job is to keep the bridge between you and your loved one.

If you are in the beginning stages of making connections with your loved one and they are still solidly in the cult, do not tell them they are in a cult. Do not ask questions about what is taught. Do not try to reason with them. They are there because they believe it to be true. If you challenge this, you may lose all access to them. You will no longer have a bridge to connect with them.

Now imagine this. I didn’t like attending BGBC from the first time I heard O’Neal preach. Yet, at the same time, I did not care for someone challenging why I was at this church. I had already bought into some of the teachings and actually defended Chuck O’Neal, the church, the people, and my involvement there. It bothered me that my old friends were challenging me this way. I remember thinking that they just didn’t understand. They were missing out. They were trying to prevent me from becoming pure and holy and were the enemy. I needed to separate from them because they were interfering with my spiritual walk. I perceived them to be shallow Christians and I distanced myself from these folks. I didn’t want to be tainted by their weak religion (this was another lie I believed).

If you have a friend or family member in a cult or high-controlling church, you are probably going to want to show them what you see, how the teachings are wrong. You are, in fact, probably correct. As tempting as it is to say those things, it usually won’t work. They will sense that you are trying to control them, and/or lead them away from what they are defending as truth. In their minds, you will be labeled as untrustworthy or even as an enemy and lines will be drawn. You are no longer safe with them. Remember, they are in an environment in which they are being controlled. It will not feel safe for them to go from one person (guru leader) who is controlling them to another person (friend) who is telling them how to think.

Now, there was another group of old friends that I met with to knit regularly. I later learned that Chuck O’Neal had told a church employee (my friend) that he did not like me meeting with them, but O’Neal never told me personally. I continued to knit with my friends, but I had a sense that O’Neal didn’t approve. These ladies constantly showed me love and grace. They did not question why I was at BGBC. They shared what was going on in their lives and I shared what was going on in mine.

A couple of these ladies would later become my safe people. Through them, without them saying any words directly to me, I was able to see that I was being held captive spiritually and emotionally, and that my “church” was a destructive and hostile spiritual environment. I saw the freedom they had to follow the Holy Spirit and engage themselves with others outside the church. I saw how they ministered to people who came their way and didn’t need to run anything by their pastor for approval. The stark difference in how they lived their Christian walk and mine was very apparent. It’s something that stuck with me and helped me in my process of leaving BGBC.

Important Lesson 2: Extend love and grace, without judgment, to your loved one.

These two things will be lacking from any high-controlling church. This is what Steven Hassan had with his sister whom he trusted. This is the relationship I had with my knitting friends. Because trust is such an important issue with people in high-controlling groups, maintaining a trust relationship is crucial. You will continue to have that if you show love and grace.

It is so important thing for those caught in a high-controlling environment to have the freedom to make their own choices and come to their own conclusions. They are not getting that in their abusive groups, but you can help them experience it outside the group if you still have a connection with them. This can only happen in an environment with love and grace.

Important Lesson 3: Recreate what used to be normal with your loved one. Avoid talking about the destructive group entirely.

If there is any contact at all, remind your loved one of special shared memories. Talk about friends and family members. Make them their favorite meals. Bring out pictures and family videos. Make new memories together. Give them opportunities to make decisions: where would you like to go? what movie would you like to see? what would you like to eat? In some groups, they are not allowed to make decisions for themselves. You are showing them normalcy, something that is missing in their current controlled life.

It took a while for loved ones to get involved in a high-controlling group. It will take some time for them to get out. There is a chance that loved ones will remain. That is a very sad reality for some. However, I think the above suggestions will be the best way to show a trapped person light in their oppressive darkness. Hopefully it will appeal to them and when their group experience hits new lows, they might come to you and eventually escape from their spiritual and emotional captivity.

 

 

 

SSB Gathering – July 31, 2016

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

wild flower

***

Luke 16: 1 – 18

Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’

“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg – I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’

“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, How much do you owe my master?’ ‘Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.’

“Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’ ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. He told them, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’

“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.

“The law and the prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Deuteronomy 27: 19

“Cursed is the man withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”

***


I couldn’t resist:

baby baptism

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 – Wild flower and bee, Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, Portland, OR

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

***

 

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:

***

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

***


***

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.

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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?

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photo credit – Kathi – Tiny flower