Learn to Discern: Church Membership Accountability and Discipline of Children

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Learn to discern church websites, church discipline procedures, membership rules and accountability, attendance, and tithe requirements before joining a new church.  A lot of information can be found on church websites.

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This is what happens to our trees when there are two days of morning frost and temperatures below freezing.

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The other day, I posted an article including a video of the 12 Doctrines of Christmas which was a take-off using the popular tune of the 12 Days of Christmas. The lyrics included some very large theological words with which I was mostly unfamiliar. I don’t know whether the people in this church ordinarily use vocabulary like that, but I wanted to see what kind of church it was.

I did a little digging around. The name of the church was listed on the YouTube video as Grace Bible Church of Moorpark. It was simple to find the church via a quick Google search.

During the defamation lawsuit brought on by my former church, Beaverton Grace Bible Church (did you catch that – another Grace Bible church), several people alerted me to the fact that the church bylaws were very legalistic. Since then, I have taken a closer look at other church’s bylaws/church discipline procedures, and membership requirements to see if I can discern legalism or extra-Biblical rules.

If you are looking for a new church, this is a good way to get the flavor of the church before setting one foot inside the doors. In fact, it is a very beneficial way to weed out ones with obvious warning signs. Deb from Wartburg Watch blog recently published an excellent article on How to Analyze Churches Via the Internet which has other great ideas. I’ve added the Wartburg Watch article to the Resource Page as well.

I’ve included a couple of sections of the bylaws from Grace Bible at Moorpark:

SECTION 4: Church Membership: Accountability

The Elders of the church will hold members accountable to maintain their commitment to the Lord and to His Church.  Annually, each member shall reconsider each of the commitments required of new members.

People’s level of involvement sometimes diminishes over time.  For this reason, each year around the anniversary date of having been received into membership, the Elders will meet with each member or member family to evaluate the present level of commitment.  Attendance, serving, and giving will be discussed.  This annual review will also provide members a chance to ask questions, express concerns, and seek counsel of the Elders. Please see Section 1., D.

A.   If a member is continuing steadfastly in his commitments and wishes to renew his membership, he will be invited to do so.  The renewal will be so noted in the membership roll book.

B.   If a member has become lax in any of the commitments required for new members and wishes to renew his membership, he will be given three months to demonstrate a renewed commitment to his membership.  After three months, if the areas of concern have been rectified, the member will be invited to renew his membership, and the renewal shall be so noted in the membership roll book.  If after three months the member has not satisfactorily rectified the areas of concern, the membership will be terminated.  The member may reapply for membership whenever he is again ready to make and keep the necessary commitment.

The goal of this is always to help members be restored to full participation in membership, never is the desire to terminate membership.  The Elders will work with people in a gracious manner, but they cannot shepherd the people if they are not given the opportunity to do so.

Here is another section that I have not seen in any other church bylaws.  It is listed under the subtitle of The Subjects Discipline in the church bylaws:

4.   Children.  The Elders will exercise disciplinary authority, with children in the congregation, if necessary, in the following ways:

a)    If a child in the congregation, having grown up in a Christian home:

(i) stops attending church,

(ii) leaves the household, or

(iii) turns eighteen years of age

without ever having made a profession of faith, the Elders will solemnly warn the child of the spiritual hazards of rejecting a biblical upbringing, and urge him to repent and believe.  Parents of these individuals who are in our congregation shall be informed and/or included in this process.

This is a proactive act of love prompted by genuine concern for the person’s soul.

b)   If a child in the congregation has professed faith in the Lord and subsequently demonstrates a rebellious spirit, or repudiates his earlier profession of faith, the Elders will offer pastoral help to the head of the household as appropriate.  If the child persists in a state of rebellion, the Elders may initiate the process of church discipline and the child may be excommunicated.

What do you think?  Would you feel like this is a balanced and safe place to bring your family?

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124 comments on “Learn to Discern: Church Membership Accountability and Discipline of Children

  1. I’m not sure. It seems kind of vague to me. Why not investigate why their attendance is lacking? I don’t like the children issue. I feel that alone is the parent’s responsibility, however, they can seek counsel from the church if they want to. But to have discipline administered by the elders? No.
    Another issue is, as many have stated before, churches can have their bylaws written down for all to see. The problem is the ‘unwritten laws’ that no one knows about until a situation arises. Or churches who don’t abide by their own bylaws. I am having that issue now. The head presbytery of my church has a list of bylaws and papers their churches should abide by, but the church I attend under them does not follow them. what you see/read isn’t always what you get.

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  2. Nope! I wouldn’t have anything to do with that church. The elders are taking on far too much control and it doesn’t sound like there is a loving spirit in the bunch.

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  3. Julie Anne

    Wow – Another 501 (c) 3, non-profit, Tax Deductible, Religious Corporation,
    that the IRS calls church – With the word Grace in it’s “Title.”

    But – NOT much Grace when it comes to the folks attending. 😉

    And – I still can NOT find “Church Membership” in my antiquated KJV.
    I still can NOT find “Church Leaders” in my antiquated KJV.

    Sounds like Grace’s “Church Leaders” have developed, invented…
    “Church Membership” to be another “the Law” to control the folks.
    And they bind more, and more, heavy burdens on folks shoulders.

    Seems Jesus warned His Disciples about the “Religious Leaders” of His day.

    Mat 23:4-7 in the NKJAV. – “The New King James Amos Version” 😉
    4* For they, the pastors, the church leaders, the blind leading the blind,
    bind heavy burdens, more and more rules, and grievous to be borne,
    and lay them on men’s shoulders; while always obeying the pastor.
    but they, church leaders will not move them with one of their fingers.
    5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: standing at the pulpit.
    they make broad their phylacteries, their Authority, their Power, their profit.
    And enlarge the borders of their garments, teaching thru books, confrences.
    even enlarging their control over your life and your childrens lives.
    6* And, Today’s Church leaders love the uppermost rooms at feasts,
    and the chief seats in the congregations, up on the stage, to be seen of men,
    7* And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
    Pastor, Pastor.

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  4. The whole thing is strange – what they should then add is they’ll pay for the therapy your childen will need when told their souls are in danger. Excellent way to ensure they never go back. This is why the nones (people who choose “none” when asked about their religion) are growing in the young adult group and so many in that age group are leaving the church.

    This happened to a young woman I’ve known since she was in her teens. She was caught staying overnight at her boyfriend’s house a couple nights. Told to repent and change. She did and was told she was welcome in church but not helping with anything and that her soul was in danger anyway. By the time she came to me she was in a deep depression and suicidal. Totally believed them. She received psychiatric help and is now part of a welcoming church but she misses the people at her first church – it was the church she attended in her teens when her parents completely neglected her. But they let her down and didn’t seem to even notice when she became depressed – I heard messages the minister left her and was sickened.

    On the plus, the warning at least lets you hear what you’re getting into before you become attached to the church community and less able to see the hypocrisy.

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  5. Nope! It’s like having an employment evaluation, only backwords, these yahoos are the ones that should be in the hot seat of the tithers, how arrogant of these men, and I suppose there could be women also, there are women pastors who still hold to a hierarchy of control in church organizations also. I get the idea from the NT that participation in church life is not to be compulsory, this smacks of coercion and bullying and I don’t trust that there are any sincere godly motives in any of the leaders who adhere to this stuff. I also am beginning to think that there is something very sick in any of us who would follow these people.

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  6. I just looked up the church you referenced. I notice there is an Elder Detwiler. I never heard that name before Brent Detwiler of SGM fame, could they be related? Brent wrote some pretty controlling material that he called Bible doctrine before defecting from SGM.

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  7. Patti

    Yes – agree
    “I don’t trust that there are any sincere godly motives in any of the leaders who adhere to this stuff.”

    And again – agree
    “I also am beginning to think that there is something “very sick” in any of us who would follow these people.”

    I was one of those “very sick.” – Needed approval from the “Leader.”

    Jer 5:31
    The prophets prophesy falsely,
    and the priests bear rule by their means;
    and **My People** love to have it so…

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  8. Many of my long-held beliefs and denominational affiliations are being shattered. 😦 I will NO LONGER consider myself a Southern Baptist, or any kind of Baptist at all. The denominations (especially Baptist) have been overtaken by New-Calvinists, Patriarchalists, misogynists, Dominionists, Reconstructionists and Totalitarian dictatorships which are demanding total control and obedience to their new rules of governing congregations or face disciplinary actions by these “rulers” behind the pulpits.

    I will just stay home and stay true to the Bible as my source instead of false teachings. I am also learning that science and faith DO go together, opposite of what I’ve grown up to believe. Talk about a crisis of faith!!! :-O

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  9. I suspect the main motivation behind these rules is to help encourage people to remain faithful to the Lord and active in service to Him and His people. One would hope that the church at least makes these requirements well known to prospective members, instead of just having them in bylaws that people might never be aware of until an issue arises.

    But what constitutes “steadfast commitments” in attendance, service and giving could be quite subjective, or could mean one thing to the elders and another thing to a member or prospective member. Do variations in individual personal, family, health, financial, etc. circumstances impact what is expected from one person vs. another? Who decides? I suspect it would be the elders.

    Seems like a situation ripe for abuse, no matter how well-intentioned the motivation for the bylaws may be. Do churches like this not realize that church membership is a voluntary choice and that the members are (mostly) adults, capable of deciding what is appropriate for themselves and their families? Do they not think the Holy Spirit is able to convict and lead people into what He desires them to do, without the need for heavy-handed authoritarianism from the elders?

    As to the members’ children who have not made a profession of faith (or who have done so but later repudiate their profession by their words and/or lifestyle), it is to be expected that church leaders would lovingly and kindly point out the spiritual dangers and encourage them to repent and believe. But, once again, the wording appears to out the elders in a place of rulership over the members rather than a place of servanthood.

    I would not join a church with these bylaws, unless God told me to do so in a very direct way that He typically does not do in my life. And even then I’d probably argue with Him about it. 🙂

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  10. Do they not think the Holy Spirit is able to convict and lead people into what He desires them to do, without the need for heavy-handed authoritarianism from the elders?

    Exactly, Another Tom. Who needs the Holy Spirit when you have elders like this? That is the problem. They put themselves in a god-like position to judge and forget that all who are Christian are part of the Priesthood of Believers. These leaders are so gung-ho on their position of authority, they can easily usurp the Holy Spirit.

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  11. The elders will WHAT???? Run, run as fast as you can.
    The “elders” better hadn’t try that with me or anybody around me.

    “Seems Jesus warned His Disciples about the “Religious Leaders” of His day.” Yes, indeed, so He did.

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  12. Unreal. This clearly is a church that is very domineering.

    One IFBC in my area has a school. This is right out of their student manual:

    “Fathering or bearing an illegitimate baby (Penalty: permanent expulsion) [SCHOOL] reserves the right to require a pregnancy test.”

    How can you reserve a right you never had in the first place?

    “Attending public movies at a theater or IMAX (Penalty: expulsion)
    Viewing an inappropriate movie in the home (Penalty: administrative decision)”

    So if you want to go to the movies with your kid, they will be expelled from the school.

    WTF?

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  13. Sadly, these bylaws – or whatever they call it…are all about what you can do for the ‘authorities’. WAY to much concentrate on that, and not on how the church is to serve the body.

    ”Attendance, serving, and giving will be discussed.” If they are all that ‘concerned’ honestly they would do this more than once a year. If you are a regular in attendance, and you fell off the face of the earth? If you were serving, but then backed away for a period of time? Elders – or whomever – that are committed to the people that have signed on to serve would have these answers earlier compared to later. It certainly would NOT be in the tone that this written in either. Giving is something between you and God. That should be off the table completely. If you push that to much people will not ‘give’ in the manner that the bible asked them too – proper motives and attitude.

    Quite honestly, is the elders that should be annually reviewed. How are they serving the body, and giving of themselves? What type of support do they need, and does it come from the proper attitude? This is the role – to serve the body of Christ, and not keep a tally of how you are serving us.

    They wouldn’t be allowed near my children. God is more than capable of taking the wheel there, and I will let them know if they can help in a ‘support’ mode.

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  14. Steve

    Yup – Jesus had such loving kind words for the “Religious Leaders.”
    And those were His Priests, His Words, His system, they were maintaining.
    Seems He used “Woe unto” and “hypocrites” – A Lot. 🙂

    Mt 23:27
    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
    for ye are like unto whited sepulchres,
    which indeed appear beautiful outward,
    but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

    Lu 11:46
    Woe unto you also, ye lawyers!
    for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne,
    and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

    Lu 11:52
    Woe unto you, lawyers!
    for ye have taken away the key of knowledge:
    ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

    Yup – Salvation, Eternal Life, is Free,

    But – Now – Law, and Rules, and Law, and rules… Hard to keep track… 😉

    Go to church, and Go often, Tithe to church, and also offerings,
    Give your Time, Talent and Treasure, to your leaders, oops, I mean God.
    Clean this house of God, mow the lawn, clean the toilets, wash the windows.
    Salvation in Free – this is just ministry, we are called to be servants. So Serve.
    Join a church, sign up for church membership,
    So we “Leaders” can love you with loving kind gentle Church Discipline.
    Obey church leaders, submit to church leaders, never question leaders…
    Could be sin ya know…

    Yeah Run – Run as fast as you can…

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  15. Since when does non-attendance mean disfellowship? My former congregation kicked a guy out of membership because he married a Catholic girl before he went to Afghanistan. Another was disfellowshipped because he was sleeping with a married woman. Granted, these are different issues, and I disagreed with the first one. But there were people in that congregation who came two or three times a year, and they were still considered members in good standing. OTOH, even though we went to every activity and tithed, we always felt the heavy hand of discipline. Never sign a membership covenant!

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  16. And another thing, no one is going to tell me how to raise my daughter. They tried that, and its one of the reasons we left. Meanwhile, our daughter turned out very well, is studying to be a doctor, and most of those kids can’t make it in the real world.

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  17. ‘Is it just me, but does the part about “Children” not scream “CULT?”’
    Oh yes, indeed. It says it loud & clear.

    “And another thing, no one is going to tell me how to raise my daughter.”
    Good for you!! [Insert picture of wildly clapping and cheering smiley here].

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  18. Sounds very controlling to me. I tried to compare it to what my church’s website says about membership, but its currently down. However, I’m sure there’s nothing along those lines in their membership requirements. I’ve attended my church since 2008 but have not become a member, and I doubt I ever will. I don’t believe in church membership because it is a manmade construct.

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  19. I challenge their very first, foundational, unsupported “local church membership” assumption. From he pamphlet:
    “We at Grace Bible Church believe that local church membership is BIBLICAL and therefore important.  We believe that all Christians should be members of a local church.
    …..
    Membership in a local church, AS TAUGHT IN THE BIBLE, is voluntary, but not trivial.  
    ……
    While there is NO VERSE IN THE BIBLE that calls on believers to become members of a local church, we see the importance…” Etc etc 

    My ALL CAPS — the part I’d sincerely like them to explain! 

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  20. What it says to me is that they are admitting that they don’t know who the people in the church are. If you’re the leadership, you will already know everybody who is part of the church from week to week. If you have to go a year before reviewing somebody’s life, then you’re obviously not doing your job.

    I can only imagine the surprises people will experience during those “reviews.”

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  21. Commitment and membership in an institutional church is OPTIONAL, not a biblical or God-ordained mandate. Claiming members MUST conform to involvement standards (including children) in obedience to God is spiritual manipulation. A loving God wants people to gather with others who love and believe, and how and when they do that is no one else’s business. It could be in a church, pub, home, park, hike, or Starbucks. We have to outgrow what I call “churchianity.” It’s exclusive and elitist and spiritually abusive and creates a bunch of self-righteous legalists who block free-thinking people from fellowship and makes the Path of Christ into a behavioral and doctrinal code—the exact opposite of what Jesus and Paul taught. Run, don’t walk, from such “churches.”

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  22. A combination of laughter and shock as I read those astonishing membership rules.

    2 Cor 9:7 “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

    In what way is this not a cult?

    Is there an unwritten law of the Universe which states that any church which has ‘Grace’ in its title will invariably demonstrate its antithesis?

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  23. Julie Anne, I could barely read through that list, it brought back so many horrible memories of our own experience.

    One day an elder called me and told me I was to stop counseling a young woman the elders had previously asked me to counsel. He told me that if I did not repent of my counsel to her I was in danger of being excommunicated. I told him that I believed my counsel to be biblically sound and he told me that if I didn’t repent, it would prove to the elders that I was not even a Christian. I refused. Do you know what my counsel had been to this woman? She had gone to the elders and asked for the Scripture they used to support certain questionable doctrines the pastor was teaching and they told her “Don’t worry about it, you can’t understand these things. Just trust your elders, that is what we are here for.” I responded to her that she was to be a Berean and search the Scriptures herself and that if anyone tells her otherwise, they are wrong! She is no longer in any church and really struggles even being around Christians.

    I didn’t realize how much of a trip had been laid on me until months later when I was cleaning and picked up a book and my baptismal certificate fell out. As I read it I wept, seeing my public profession of faith as a ten year old recorded on paper. In my head I knew these men were wrong but it affected my heart and my soul very profoundly. Later when I understood spiritual abuse, it all made sense.

    At this point, I will not become a member of a church again.

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  24. ‘Wesley’s portrayal of the spiritual pilgrimage in terms of “the scripture way of salvation” provided their model for experiential Christianity. They assumed and insisted upon the integrity of basic Christian truth and emphasized its practical application in the lives of believers.

    This perspective is apparent in the Wesleyan understanding of “catholic spirit.” While it is true that United Methodists are fixed upon certain religious affirmations, grounded in the gospel and confirmed in their experience, they also recognize the right of Christians to disagree on matters such as forms of worship, structures of church government, modes of Baptism, or theological explorations. They believe such differences do not break the bond of fellowship that ties Christians together in Jesus Christ. Wesley’s familiar dictum was, “As to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.”
    “To be ignorant of many things and to be mistaken in some,” Wesley observed, “is the necessary condition of humanity.” ‘

    The above is straight from my church’s website.
    I knew there was a reason I landed there……

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  25. Karen (thatmom), I had a flashback of Beaverton Grace Bible Church when I read your comment. Pardon me while I unload.

    The day after they fired our friend I was speaking with one elder (who has since left) and he was trying to convince me that what they did was right. Another elder, Dale Weaver, then took over the conversation and he read Heb 13:17 multiple times to me – – – that elders were responsible for the care of our souls and who was I to question those who were entrusted with our souls. He used that verse in an attempt to silence me, but I kept going on, not accepting his word. But the audacity of him to put himself in that kind of position over me, trying to instill spiritual condemnation on me as if I were sinning and in grave danger still brings back the feelings.

    On top of that, in the back of my mind was my daughter Hannah who had left home (and church) nearly a year before. If they (elders and pastor Chuck O’Neal) cared for my daughter’s soul, then why hadn’t they gone out evangelizing to her on a Friday night like they did every Friday night (or any other day for that matter). Why did my daughter’s soul not matter – – – – a daughter from a family of their own flock?

    On one of the last days we were there, when they were not sure if we were leaving or not, Chuck O’Neal told my husband that they should go and have coffee with Hannah. SAY WHAT? NOW????? After a year had gone by? This was another tactic to “win” us to stay – love bombing. It was too late. I saw through the facade and with or without my husband, I was a goner.

    Chuck O’Neal, I believe YOU are a fraud. You care about souls that YOU can conquer for YOUR narcissistic benefit, not for God’s glory.

    Ok, thanks Karen, I obviously had some unresolved anger to deal with.

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  26. These people are manipulators, but they are not master manipulators. The annual threat of automatic expulsion may be useful in motivating fear based compliance, but once automatic expulsion kicks in, all possibility of further control has been lost. Truly accomplished manipulators require by-laws, covenants, etc., that permit these abusive leaders to place congregants in discipline, while prohibiting their departure.

    Of course, as Lynette points out, by-laws etc. are never binding on the “leaders.” In the late 80’s I asked a Southern Baptist Church to remove me from their membership rolls. I had started attending an American Baptist Church. Some years later I began visiting the Sunday school at my old Southern Baptist Church. Then, about 2 years ago the “pastor” instructed me to quit visiting when I challenged him for using a fear based Halloween hell house type event to evangelize children. After confirming that I had not been removed from the membership rolls, as I had requested, I actually requested the initiation of whatever disciplinary proceedings were called for in the by-laws. They declined to initiate disciplinary proceedings. They wouldn’t even give me a copy of their then-current by-laws. However, so far as I know, I am still technically a member. For all the good it does them.

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  27. Steve Scott, why would any preacher or minister be reviewing my life anyway? (Your comment about going a year until reviewing a life implies the review will be done on a regular basis.) While we in a community can call each other into question, it is never to be done with a judgmental spirit, which is what the word “review” implies.

    Zooey111, I’m with you and glad I landed with the United Methodists. Profess a faith in God, Jesus Christ the son, and the Holy Spirit and the other things we can work out. And if you want to be a member and never attend but on holidays or weddings, we’ll welcome you then. What is “official” membership anyway? The community is those who choose to be in relationship to one another. Not those who are forced to or who are afraid to leave because of punishment consequences but those who show up to teach and feed and clothe and minister to others- all those things Jesus called us to do. Voluntary and without judgment of others who go a different route.

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  28. You know a lot of employers have annual reviews to see if there is room for improvement or a time to commend a person for exceptional work. What I do or don’t do in the church or in my life will be rewarded by my God, not men who put themselves way too high on a pedestal. I have heard folks say they feel some people should “do more”. How do they know what another person is doing. They could be going out and taking meals to homeless people, but humble themselves and don’t speak of it to other people. I believe the Bible says something to the effect that what you do in private will be rewarded to the fullest. It is no one elses business what God calls me to do. I certainly shouldn’t have to justify it to men on an annual basis.

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  29. Waitingforthetrumpet2,

    Could you please elaborate on your view of science and faith going together? I don’t believe the Big Bang Theory or evolution can go together with faith. In what ways do they coexist?

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  30. The other side of the coin, which I guess this is trying to combat, are those churches who have everyone in town on their membership role and only a few people in attendance. That’s not a good thing.

    But this just takes it too far. I can’t imagine a church reviiewing my giving over the last year and sitting in judgment as to whether it was enough.

    Who would bother to “renew their membership” in aplace like this?:

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  31. @Gary

    Yes, truly accomplished manipulators wouldn’t state this up-front. They might instead preach on holiness and commitment in general terms, making you feel ashamed and guilty for not giving more and finally condemning you from the pulpit if you fail to comply.

    They would also have mastered the art of turning the faithful against you, so you have no one to turn to when the abuse starts.

    In any case, the advice remains the same: RUN!

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  32. Julie Anne,

    My former Pastor wanted to meet with me using certain people that didn’t pose a threat as a “Doctrinal Challenge” to him, as mediators. Those people didn’t know his Doctrine but liked his aggressive Methodology based on suffering and a “Law and Sin Centered” ministry rather than “Christ Centered”.

    He was going to use this opportunity to defend his “Methodology” by simply “cherry picking” certain scriptures without disclosing his doctrine which is deceiving to both the mediators and to myself..

    Now when God revealed to me his Hyper Doctrine, he wanted no part in meeting with us and the Elders who were taken back by our former Pastor’s Covert style of being Stealth with his Hyper Doctrine.

    His attitude toward women (and men) who struggled to embrace his “Methodology” was degrading.

    I think that little meeting with coffee your former Pastor wanted with you, whether it was “love bombing” as an attempt to win you back or a way to rebuke you and then justify himself through “cherry picking” of certain scripture would’ve been toxic.

    I have a feeling your former Pastor wasn’t going to fully disclose the basis of his Doctrine or Methodology and you would still be in the dark while being put under a micro-scope..

    It seems both our former Pastors’ have much of the same belief system and both were Covert in their aggressive manner in how they attempt to control congregations. Although I don’t know how much emphasis your Pastor put on your church, of his own personal need to see identifiable suffering, for the church to be saved.

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  33. In my experience “giving or not giving enough”relates only to what goes on inside the church. we had a nursing home ministry many years ago. The most convenient time for the home to have us come was 11 o’clock, an hour before their mealtime. The church would not bless our efforts or release volunteers for this ministry because the pastor did not want us released from the church service. We did it anyway and managed to draft a few like minded (o how I hate that word) to what God commanded..We have since left that church and have plenty of time to do the ministries God has sown us to do

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  34. Chris asked: “Is there an unwritten law of the Universe which states that any church which has ‘Grace’ in its title will invariably demonstrate its antithesis?”

    Actually, most of these churches have “Grace” in their names not because they practice grace, but because they believe in the “doctrines of Grace.” “Grace” in the church’s name is a description of doctrinal beliefs, not a description of a way of life.

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  35. Mark said:

    I think that little meeting with coffee your former Pastor wanted with you, whether it was “love bombing” as an attempt to win you back or a way to rebuke you and then justify himself through “cherry picking” of certain scripture would’ve been toxic.

    I may have confused you about the coffee meeting. He told my husband that he and my husband should take Hannah out to coffee in an attempt to evangelize her. During the prior year he had made no contact with her whatsoever. He only cared to evangelize her at that time in hopes that it would show his interest in our daughter’s spirituality. It was a ploy to keep us at the church. It was too late.

    I have a feeling your former Pastor wasn’t going to fully disclose the basis of his Doctrine or Methodology and you would still be in the dark while being put under a micro-scope..

    I don’t think Chuck ever hid his Calvinism (more like hyper Calvinism). What he tried to hide was his tyrannical ways. We really had no clue how bad it was until after we left and seeing his behavior. And then it became crystal clear after starting the BGBC Survivor blog and people from 10 years earlier (whom I had never met) came out of the blue to tell their stories to me privately – – although some did leave comments anonymously.

    This is the kind of thing that is scary to think of – – – so many pastors like this where people have been spiritually bullied and silenced for a decade or more.

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  36. Actually, most of these churches have “Grace” in their names not because they practice grace, but because they believe in the “doctrines of Grace.”

    I’m slow. I finally figured that out recently.

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  37. The church would not bless our efforts or release volunteers for this ministry because the pastor did not want us released from the church service.

    Look at this wording. The church would not release volunteers. As if the church/pastor owns people?! ACK!!!!

    Leslie – good for you that you left and continued in this great ministry!

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  38. Oh, I just noticed this. Put 2 and 2 together…

    First: “B. If a member has become lax in any of the commitments required for new members and wishes to renew his membership, he will be given three months to demonstrate a renewed commitment to his membership.”

    Followed by: “After three months, if the areas of concern have been rectified, the member will be invited to renew his membership, and the renewal shall be so noted in the membership roll book.”

    The solution is simple. Slack off for nine months, then when the elders get on your case, shape up for a few months. Brilliant legalists create predictible results.

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  39. 2Samuel17: Thanks for posting that Fernando video! My late-husband used to play guitar for Fernando back in the 1990s at the church where we met. As Michael slipped from this world to Eternity, he listened to Fernando’s music. Yes, give me Jesus! 🙂

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  40. Hi Brenda, sorry…my granddaughter was hogging up my laptop. I had been reading over at The WartburgWatch and they ran a series on Science and Creation and I started having a crisis of faith. I had always been taught that we were only to accept that the Earth was 6000 years old, and that didn’t reconcile with science. Then I followed a couple of links from TWW and came across this site:

    http://www.oldearth.org/site_map.htm

    And add to all the mess that’s been going on with the SBC, I’ve become disheartened and disillusioned. 😦

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  41. “A loving God wants people to gather with others who love and believe, and how and when they do that is no one else’s business. It could be in a church, pub, home, park, hike, or Starbucks. We have to outgrow what I call “churchianity.” It’s exclusive and elitist and spiritually abusive and creates a bunch of self-righteous legalists who block free-thinking people from fellowship and makes the Path of Christ into a behavioral and doctrinal code—the exact opposite of what Jesus and Paul taught. Run, don’t walk, from such “churches.” ”

    Liked this comment much. Jesus’ greatest command was love-centered. Love is not someone hurting someone else to get them to do. Love does not make.

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  42. The trouble with the “doctrines of grace” is that they basically define grace into hell on earth for human beings not on the top of a hierarchy, with powers of manipulation, sin-sniffing to result in abuse of the believer, etc. This is like the old Stalinists who defined freedom as freedom from choice other than to obey the authoritarians.

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  43. Is what one believes as the age of the earth a salvic belief? There are many who know Genesis is both figurative and literal. There are actually pastors out there who teach that Moses wrote it which blows my mind. Is the age of the earth really a salvic issue? What about all those poor souls throughout the Dark Ages who were not allowed to read the scriptures and had to rely on what some priest told them.

    Is what one believes about gender roles salvic? A male mediator between women and Jesus Christ? Sin for a woman to preach or shepherd another? That would mean being a woman is sinful by simple gender.

    Can those who do not think women are NOT restricted from shepherding or preaching be really saved? Scripture “appears” to be confusing as Paul says one thing to the Corinthians and another to Timothy in Ephesus. But then, that is why reading 1st Century counsel without the historical context makes scripture into a club to beat folks with.

    The problem is there are too many out there who actually teach the above issues as salvic.

    Is scripture on par with the Holy Spirit? All the many translations and bad interpretations? Were ALL the translators inspired by the Holy Spirit? At Hampton Court? The monastery where Pagnino changed “turning” to “desire” in the 1300’s?

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  44. waitingforthetrumpet2, I too had a faith crisis back in the mid 1960’s over science and creation. The first thing I found out that the evolutionist side said was “one could not have any level of intelligence and believe in the Gen 1 account of creation”. This was very problematic for me and I came to the conclusion that if Gen 1 was a false concept, then probably the rest of the Bible could be doubted as well. At that time the only book that I knew of was “The Genius Flood” by Dr Henry Morris. I realized at that time, the so called fact that only stupid people believe in the Gen 1 account of creation was wrong. Clearly, Dr. Morris had an IQ that approached the top end.
    Setting Ken Ham aside, there are many books and proofs out there that the answers to the length of time may be a bit shorter that science has suggested. The entire account of the Mount St. Helens eruption is one example. Within a matter of a few years a 1/40 scale Grand Canyon was created by the water and steam force created by the volcano. The rocks created tested out to be over a billion years old and were actually only a few years old.
    Don’t give up on the Bible and your faith. Do some study and you will find out, you do not have to check out your brains at the door of the church to believe Gen 1 and that God is big enough to have done it anyway He wanted to. I know that this is off topic but I felt a necessity to respond and perhaps we can carry on this conversation on some other way.

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  45. That’s the problem, Lydia. That’s what was drummed into my head for 50+ years, that if I didn’t believe in YE, then I must not believe anything the Bible said, ergo, I’m not saved. So I believed.

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  46. waitingforthetrumpet2 – – You are experiencing the same faith crisis my daughter had (and continues) – stemming from the idea that one must believe in YEC to be saved. Do you see how dangerous this kind of teaching is? So-called church leaders take the topic of creation and make it a primary doctrine issue. It simply is NOT. The Bible does not say believe in the Young Earth Creation and you will be saved. It says Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. It is that simple.

    I’m very sad that this has been so troubling for you, but yet thankful that you have brought it up here because I know that your words (like my daughter’s) represent many others who thought they were all alone in this thinking. Having this discussion may help many others to know they can indeed be a Christian and have differing opinions on creation.

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  47. It got to the point that if the Genesis account of creation isn’t literal, then what else isn’t true of the things I was taught? Is Revelation wrong then? Have I been waiting for the trumpet in vain?????

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  48. After years of study, I feel that both sides of the topic are extreme in their findings. The billions of years are necessary for the so called mutations to take place for a true evolution to take place and the going through the genealogy of Genius to place the age of the earth at 6k or 8k years old is speculative at best. I have found that with some fundamentalist, they feel they are protecting the Word of God by proclaiming the earth is 6k years old and tying that figure into a salvation necessity belief.

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  49. W4TT: I do not have many answers, but there are certain things in creation that I cannot deny that only direct me to an amazing Creator.

    I’ve been to maybe 30 or so births as a “doula” (labor support person) and am absolutely fascinated with the birthing process and what a woman goes through. I combine the science part and it goes right back to God as the author of Intelligent Design.

    Let me share a bit of what fascinates me:

    After a woman births a baby, the baby is born with a sucking reflex. As soon as that baby is put to the breast, he sucks and will ingest colostrom – the perfect nourishment for the newborn baby – highly concentrated and designed to meet everything the baby needs at his stage of life. Who made all of that happen?

    Additionally, once the baby is at the breast, the suckling produces oxytocin which will cause the woman’s uterus to contract. The contractions are painful, but this will help her uterus to get back into shape again after birthing. Pretty cool benefit.

    Within days, the colostrum will change consistency from thick/yellow to thinner white milk. Mama’s milk has changed – spontaneously – -to meet baby’s growing needs.

    Another benefit of the suckling is hormones released that make mama fall in love with her baby. God knew she would need this with all of the sleep deprivation she would be getting. Who made this happen? A thoughtful Creator.

    Think of the positioning of the breasts and the distance of baby’s head to mama’s eyes when nursing. I have spent many years of my life nursing my 7 babies and so I’ve had a good time to think about this. I’ve tried to think what it would be like to have breasts located in other places on her body. Is there any other place on a woman’s body that would be better suited? I cannot think of any. Breasts were perfectly placed and science tells us this. The distance from baby’s eyes to mama’s eyes while nursing is the perfect distance according to scientists. This is where babies first learn about trust as they gaze into their mama’s eyes and mama responds back with her facial expressions. Yea, that’s intelligent design.

    I nursed every baby until they self-weaned. I also read up on scientific studies of breastmilk. Did you know that the composition of breast milk is ever-changing – even after the 1-year mark? The composition always changes to meet the baby’s growing needs perfectly. Formula does not change. It remains the same. No other food can change. This is amazing design.

    Another interesting thought is how easily accessible hands are for hand-holding. I can be over 6 feet tall and so easily hold a toddler’s hand. How beautiful is that?

    The above is about the extent of my interest in science. But that little bit shows me we have a wonderful Creator who cares so intimately about us and the important details of our physical growth, of our relationships – even in how he created our bodies for relationship. (How God created bodies for sex is another fascinating topic.)

    These are the things I hold onto when I get confused about what what is really important. We have a heavenly Father who so marvelously made us mothers to be able to give of ourselves physically and emotionally to our children.

    I don’t know if this helps at all, but I, too, get confused with Old Earth and Young Earth, but frankly, I don’t care. It’s not a salvation issue, so it’s not worth fretting.

    I hope you are having fun enjoying your grand babies climbing all over you lap. An amazing God created those precious souls. Soak up that thought for a while. Hugs*

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  50. Just think, Julie Anne, all that you have talked about is programmed into the DNA of each person. Not only what happens but when it happens even to my gray hair and lack of it on my head. DNA and all that it contains screams of intelligent design. We indeed have an awesome God.

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  51. I don’t understand. What is the difference between practicing grace and “the doctrines of Grace”?

    (“Actually, most of these churches have “Grace” in their names not because they practice grace, but because they believe in the “doctrines of Grace.”

    I’m slow. I finally figured that out recently.”)

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  52. I don’t look at the Bible as a science book. What Genesis does tell me is we have a Creator God who loves us. It doesn’t seem important how God created earth, but that we have a God that intentionally created the world- not some random act. Anyway, how would you explain creation to a preliterate tribal society? Probably through myth. It doesn’t mean the scripture is wrong, just that God presented himself and creation in a way understandable to his people! He always meets us where we are! JA, Thank you for all you do! Ann

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  53. Thank you, Julie Anne. Have been going to a Calvinistic church for years and never connected “doctrines of grace” with TULIP before. But then, my eyes start to cross when they start using those multi-syllable Greek-based technical terms…

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  54. Refugee, it’s taken me a long while to figure this out (and I think I’ve just started to scratch the surface). Part of me wishes I was “back there” again when Christianity was simply about Christ and His love for us and what He did for us on the Cross in His death and resurrection.

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  55. “That’s the problem, Lydia. That’s what was drummed into my head for 50+ years, that if I didn’t believe in YE, then I must not believe anything the Bible said, ergo, I’m not saved. So I believed.”

    This was not really an issue growing up in the SBC. It seems to have become a salvic issue about 30 years ago. Thing is, I was fortunate enough to have an uncle who was a rocket scientist (seriously!~) who was NOT young earth. But he was also a serious believer. So I grew up around both views and the discussion on both considered edifying and educational.

    I am very concerned about the intolerance of some believers who actually use YE as an evangelistic tool! I have witnessed this many times and it blows my mind each time. And many times it is adults taking youth groups out on such “missions”. Makes me sick.

    Praise God you now know freedom of thought. And that it does NOT matter how old the earth is! He created it.

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  56. Is this a church or a cult? I read guidelines for membership and for control of the home and family. When a group of individuals attempts this much control on membership and their families, it crosses the line to a cult. I’m glad I’m an Episcopalian! I’ve been in a really bitchy mood and haven’t gone to HE in about a year and a half. Everyone knows I’m in a bitchy mood, and leaves me alone. I’m not visited, lectured, or harassed. They all know me. When I’m no longer in a vile mood I’ll go back. It has nothing to do with the church, just that I’m in a lousy mood. I know I can rely on the church and membership if I need help – sort of a live and let live. I can’t imagine ever being a part of a congregation where ever aspect of life is controlled.

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  57. S.J. Redhead, sounds like you have a sweet, loving community. It has to help the mood too knowing they’ll love you no matter what. That’s what I pray my children find – a community who loves them no matter what.

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  58. Question: Who gave these clowns the keys to heaven? Mere men set themselves up as judge, jury, and executioner for one’s salvation. Who are they to usurp the judgement seat of God?

    Folks would be much better off emotionally and spiritually if they understood these humans don’t get to be the deciders when it comes to the state of their souls.

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  59. SJ,
    How is it possible to stay close to God and remain in a “bitchy” mood? Time for some on the knees and talk to the Lord about it. There is no darkness in the Light and allowing yourself to remain in a “bitchy” mood doesn’t show the Light of Christ. It has nothing to do with a hierarchy telling you what to do. It has everything to do with your relationship with the One who supplies all our needs. I will be praying for you.

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  60. @Brenda,
    I seldom post here, mostly lurk, but even I am offended by your patronizing comments to SJ. Who are you to lecture her in this manner? Fact: one of the strongest influences of mood is the activity of brain neurotransmitters … bitchy moods included. It’s not a “spiritual problem,” it’s a byproduct of this fallen world we live in. There is now a medical test you can get that measures amount and activity of brain neurotransmitters. If you’re too low or too high, you can have all kinds of mood issues, including “bitchy” ones. Get those neurotransmitters straightened out, and voila – you become a much happier, mentally healthy person. SJ is probably in a “bitchy” mood because life is tough and it is not always in our power to change our mood. I prayed for years to be delivered from depression and it took 20 years before I found the right doctor. Comments like yours above would assign the blame to me for not being “on the knees and talking to the Lord” enough about it. Sheesh. Give me a break.

    @SJ, you be bitchy as long as you’re bitchy. It is what it is. Be good to yourself, and this too, shall pass.

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  61. Oh, and if y’all will permit me a moment of indulgence, I wanted to add that for me, antidepressants were NOT the answer. I did lots of research and decided they were not for me (they would not have worked anyway, because I was gaba deficient, not serotonin deficient). The fix was simple, cheap, over-the-counter amino acid supplements … once I had a neurotransmitter urine test and got results. I felt better literally within 1 hour after taking 1 capsule. And to think I spent too many years thinking I was lazy or had character issues or it was a “spiritual problem.” It wasn’t. A book called “The Mood Cure” by Julia Ross was how God answered my prayers … once I got out of my own way.

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  62. S.J., just noticed my phone auto corrected your last name – I apologize!

    Brenda, you do a great job of demonstrating spiritual abuse. Not appropriate.  

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  63. Leila, While I agree that there are physical stimuli for depression, I must disagree that there are for “bitchy”. I know people with both. Depression has many causes. Most who I know with depression are in relational abuse, while others have an imbalance of some kind that they have no control over. I have been through both depression due to abuse that was easily controlled after counseling and being away from the abuser and bitchy due to my own sin and need for repentance. I had no other way of curing bitchy than bowing down before my God and asking him to enter the broken places of my heart and fill them with His Spirit. It was a Christian Sister who pointed out my need and lead me to that conviction. We as Christians should steer clear of behavior that would lead a lost soul from finding Christ. We should want the world to see us living in the Spirit and showing them that the world is not where it’s at and that living in Christ is where they want to be too. We live in a fallen world and are to be disciples and soul winners. Most on this site are professed Christians. It was not my intent to offend anyone. As much as I disagree with the elders of any church labeling individuals as they see fit, I also feel that if I as a professed Christian am not behaving as such for a length of time that if my brother or sister in Christ didn’t point it out to me that they didn’t love me very much or care for my relationship with Christ. Everyone has a bad day from time to time, but praying through it usually resolves the issue along the way. Sometimes it takes staying on my knees for a time.

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  64. Leila, I do take anti depressants. A very recent thing. I have MS and they are prescribed for tremors. My hands shake to the point that it is hard to get food from the spoon/fork to my mouth. Through all of that, I know that God loves me, will provide what I need in His time and I will praise Him for it.

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  65. Brenda,

    If you know that there are physical stimuli for depression, and if you yourself take anti depressants, and if you recognize that bad relationships affect how we feel (of course), why was it that you automatically jumped in and started lecturing SJ for her supposed spiritual deficiencies? You were not loving. Wouldn’t it have been better to enter into her pain, maybe ask some questions, share somewhat of your own experiences of bitchiness and what has worked for you–all without shoulding and oughting all over somebody who you maybe had an opportunity to befriend?

    SJ,

    I don’t consider myself to be at liberty to share details, because they aren’t mine to share, but I have reason to react very strongly when Christians automatically assume that moods of which they disapprove are evidence of spiritual deficiency. The tendency of ill-informed preachers to to denigrate and even mock those who aren’t perpetually happy-happy-happy is one reason I am not presently participating in organized, institutionalized “Christianity.” What you say about your own congregation’s loving acceptance of you and its avoidance of judgmentalism gives me hope. If I ever do decide to again participate in a traditional “church” fellowship, I will look for a congregation like yours. In my own small town, this probably means I will become involved in United Methodism. After nearly half a century of active involvement I am now done with evangelicalism, which I deem to have become, at best, a wholly owned subsidiary of a certain political party.

    Brenda, again,

    I’m afraid that your comments to SJ have made me quite angry. Please give it a break. Or perhaps I should be more gentle and simply suggest that you try to learn how to share without engendering feelings of condemnation. I perceive that your heart is probably good, but your methods are too much like the typical guilt mongering, fear inducing, shaming preachers that populate the evangelical landscape.

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  66. My reason for taking anti depressants is not for depression. As I said, they are for symptoms due to Multiple Sclerosis. Many medications are used for other purposes than the one they were originally made for. I knew I had a problem and got help. I would help SJ if I could, but the only thing I can do is pray for her. I meant no harm.

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  67. Brenda, you assume too much. Bitchiness is often a symptom of depression. It’s obviously on a cycle for S.J. since S.J. said this has happened before. That isn’t a character trait, as you imply. It sounds like irritation and easy to anger – classic symptoms of depression. You also assume you are in a Christian community with S.J. and should call S.J. into question. You’re not. All Christians are not supposed to “correct” the behavior of all other Christians. Besides, S.J. made it clear there is a Christian community involved so why are you taking it upon yourself and not trusting to the church?

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  68. If this is not a Christian community why are we talking under the name Spiritual Sounding Board. I was not trying to correct anyone. Praying seeks wisdom and answers to our cares and problems. All Christians are THE Church and not every building with Church on its name plate are a true church. If I were in a church, hadn’t been there for quite some time and no one thought enough of me to call on me and see how I was, I would be looking for a new church. SJ–I mean you no harm.

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  69. There is now a medical test you can get that measures amount and activity of brain neurotransmitters. If you’re too low or too high, you can have all kinds of mood issues, including “bitchy” ones. Get those neurotransmitters straightened out, and voila – you become a much happier, mentally healthy person.

    Fascinating, Leila. Thanks for sharing this information.

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  70. Julie Anne, that test is only about 3 or 4 years old, and has been a godsend for me and several of my children. Crippling anxiety, depression, lack of focus, lack of motivation — what some Christians would blame on a lack of faith — has been turned around completely, utterly changing our lives, for the cost of about 5 cents per day of readily available OTC amino acids. Most mainstream doctors aren’t familiar with it, though; you have to find a more progressive doctor who practices functional/integrative medicine.

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  71. I’m very glad you mentioned it. Imagine the countless people who are taking meds with side effects that will never work for them! I’m very happy for you and your family. It’s an amazing story.

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  72. Brenda, commenting on a blog is not the same as being part of a Christian community where one may call others into question. It is true some online relationships can develop into a close-knit community but S.J. has hardly shared here. You know nothing. Obviously S.J.’s church is aware of the situation and is loving. Just because someone’s church leaves them alone doesn’t mean they don’t care – it can mean they get it. I have a friend who suffers from seasonal depression. We know it and don’t bug her in the winter. If it’s summer and we don’t see her, we ask. We can do that because we KNOW her. You assumed S.J’s situation was a lack of spiritual direction and that it was your place to give that direction. It wasn’t. Just because you say your intentions were good doesn’t mean they were. You wanted to fix the problem and claimed to know the answer without considering whether you were making it worse. You also need to be in a mutual and voluntary relationship with someone to call him or her into question. It’s not something you get to do just because they’re in the same room as you. This is supposed to be a safe place – challenge by choice not by your choice.

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  73. I don’t agree Jackie. Anywhere we are with other Christians is a Christian community. It this is not one person a name change is in order. I post on Christian blogs on a regular basis and have never before been accused of spiritual abuse or any other kind of abuse. I have been thanked for my help. I don’t respond without prayerful consideration and many times feel the Lord saying no, keep still. I didn’t this time. I don’t know the circumstance, but God does and he is the Healer.

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  74. “If this is not a Christian community why are we talking under the name Spiritual Sounding Board?….a name change is in order.”

    Brenda, you’ll have to take that up with Julie Anne. This is her blog and she decides what to name it — no one else. In the meantime, you’ll just have to accept that not everyone here is a Christian. Julie Anne is a Christian, S.J. seems to be one, I am, and many others are. Quite a few, though, don’t go to church and some aren’t Christians at all. JA’s daughter Hannah (for example) comments here occasionally, and she left the faith quite some time ago.

    As Jackie said, I think you assume too much. In particular, you assumed that S.J. wants, or needs, your advice. I trust that you only meant to help her out, but we all need to learn when to step back, listen and try to understand better.

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  75. And I need to learn when to get to sleep. Speaking of which… it’s already 2014 here in Japan, and past my bedtime. Sorry for the “one-off” comment, but I’ve got an early start tomorrow.

    Happy New Year to Julie Anne and everyone here! May 2014 be a better, brighter year for all of God’s people, and the whole world.

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  76. “If this is not a Christian community why are we talking under the name Spiritual Sounding Board.’

    It is a mistake to assume anyone wearing the moniker “Christian” thinks the same way you do about what is Christian.

    “I was not trying to correct anyone.”

    Actually you have done a lot of “declaring” here which comes off the same way.

    “Praying seeks wisdom and answers to our cares and problems.”

    Here is an example of some of the tiresome “declaring”. You know what the above communicates don’t you? It communicates to sold out believers who have prayed for 30 years or more who have had no answers that they are just not as Holy as you are. You are setting yourself up here. Perhaps that is all you have. But perhaps one day you will understand that the life of a believer can differ greatly from one another. If there is one thing I am weary of are the fakey happy clappy “Christians” who are not real. Who put on the show to be around other believers. It is so shallow and is what most of our churches are filled with. We want the person diagnosed with cancer to be of good cheer. To not make US depressed. We make them think they are a bad witness if they are not cheerful.

    “All Christians are THE Church and not every building with Church on its name plate are a true church.”

    Are you speaking of true believers or everyone who calls themselves a Christian? I often wonder about this because the most cruel cold hearted people I have met who have done great harm to people are “Christians”.

    ” If I were in a church, hadn’t been there for quite some time and no one thought enough of me to call on me and see how I was, I would be looking for a new church.”

    If they knew you and you did not want to be bothered they should respect that. I have known folks like that who just want to come when they want to come and be left alone. Respecting someone’s wishes is Christian deportment. The problem is the churches usually want tto regulate attendance. I say welcome them when they come.

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  77. “Praying seeks wisdom and answers to our cares and problems.”

    I believe you will find my paraphrased “declaration” in Proverbs. God wants us to pray and seek his grace and wisdom. I agree to disagree, but if we don’t all agree on what a Christian is then we all need to read our Bibles a little more. We may not all be called for the same purpose, but we all become Christians through the belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus on the cross.

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  78. Brenda, I happen to agree with you that God calls me to seek wisdom through my relationship with him (or her – difficult when we have no gender neutral term!). However, that’s not what you said.

    “How is it possible to stay close to God and remain in a “bitchy” mood?” is actually what you said. You can be close to God and be in a terrible mood, for many different reasons. Doesn’t mean you aren’t praying or seeking. And it doesnt mean you’re a failure at being in a relationship with God either, or that you aren’t trusting in Christ’s gift for you. But you said S.J.’s mood was proof of a lack of relationship with God. That’s condemnation and judgment.

    As for being a Christian blog, I would say this is because Julie Anne says it it. I am a Christian with a strong faith. Certain people in my church would feel free to call me into question. Close Christian friends would feel the same if they thought I was pulling away and didn’t know why or thought their advice was helpful. Julie Anne could say something to me because we’ve emailed and have shared common interests and because I see her as a teacher. But it’s different with strangers. I’m only questioning your behavior because I believe it was destructive. If you wanted to truly help S.J., you could have asked what you could do or just said you’ll pray. I believe we can pray for strangers without knowing details. I believe prayer is powerful. You said you felt called to share your “wisdom” and I respect that. There are better ways to share it then condemning and assuming.

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  79. Over a long period of time, I don’t see how it could be possible. Again, I agree to disagree and meant no harm to anyone. The Comforter, my Rock, my Salvation. Is anyone on this site educating people of these truths. Today I have been called destructive and spiritually abusive. I have been writing on Christian blogs to total strangers for quite some time and never been seen that way before. I didn’t say I felt called to share my wisdom. Apart from God, I have none. The part of this whole conversation that troubles me most is that I am being condemned by everyone but the one I originally responded to and said I would pray for and I am praying for her. God can change all things for those who trust Him.

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  80. Brenda, Your comments come off as condescending with lots of Christianese thrown in for affirmation of your position in Christ. Perhaps you don’t mean them to. You seem to be trying to make yourself look like some super Christian and that others here are not. Some of us just don’t “wear” it like you do because it is a HUGE turn off to so many people. Your comments seem “declarative” as if you have cornered the market on God’s truth that others here have not. I can assure you that is not true. Perhaps some here come at it from a different perspective. If there is one thing I have learned that I tried to ignore is that God meets people where they are. Not to keep them there but come along beside them, guiding them. Perhaps this blog is not as fundamentalist as you are used to?

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  81. “I believe you will find my paraphrased “declaration” in Proverbs.”

    Do you really want me to do an analysis of Proverbs? :o) People who quote Proverbs as declarations don’t understand the book. (CJ Mahaney does this all the time with Proverbs to control people and build himself up)

    Yes, we should pray and seek wisdom. I am in no way saying we should not pray and seek wisdom as I would be ignoring what I do myself…….but quoting that to people as if it just happens automatically is to not understand Proverbs or people at all. Christianity is about relationships with Christ and humans.

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  82. In no way am I saying anything happens over night. It certainly didn’t for me. In no way am I a Fundamentalist or know the language of Christianese. I get it. You are dead set on disliking me and that is fine. I can get really happy however about what God has done in my life and want to share with others what he can do for them.

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  83. Brenda, again you are declaring that certain behaviors are inconsistent with a relationship with God because you don’t see how it could be otherwise. You don’t see how that is judgmental?

    I did not say you were destructive. I said your behavior was. I also said you were being spiritually abusive, not that you were an abuser. Those are different. One side points to behavior, the other to the person. But you also commented that people are determined not to like you, as if that is what this is about. This has to do with behavior. You seem fine with telling S.J. how behavior should change and how S.J.’s current behavior is lacking but claim it’s not personal. So why can’t I say something about your behavior without you saying it’s personal?

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  84. Jackie, I see how I am being judged by those on this site in this particular segment. I have lived through abuse. Being spiritually, sexually, physically, verbally or emotionally abusive is being an abuser. Perhaps you have never lived it, but I have.

    Again, I meant no harm to SJ and if I offended HER, which she has not said, in anyway I am sorry, I am praying for her and her recovery.

    So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Cor 15:58.

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  85. Brenda says “we all become Christians through the belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus on the cross.” Maybe I’m nitpicking, but I don’t think so. I would understand that we become Christians through placing that kind of faith in Jesus which is founded on love, maintained in hope, and expressed by trusting obedience. It doesn’t have to do with the head knowledge, with knowing facts about Jesus. It has to do with knowing Jesus experientially, through relationship, in the same manner that one can only come to know another person through relationship.

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  86. Correct Gary it is a heart knowledge and relationship. I believed and placed my trust in Jesus in my heart. I believe that once I asked him to save me, He did. I also believe the power of His Name and His Blood are powerful enough for that to be never ending. Nit pick all you want. I have experienced quite a lot of that here today. We do not all express the process in quite the same manner. I know no one who does not accept these events as fact to be a professing Christian. They may believe He existed, died and was buried but they do not believe in His resurrection or that he is the Son of God. Knowing facts about Jesus would be limited. We really aren’t told much about His earthly life until he was 30.

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  87. Brenda,

    What you say at 2:05 re: what it means to be a Christian works for me. Thanks! As to your having been nitpicked, I can’t speak for others, but I’m pretty sensitive about the rather common phenomenon of people coming here to preach and lecture, and not at all for the purpose of building up. Even well intentioned observations can look to me like like the kinds of arrogant, abusive preachin’ and a teachin’ so many have experienced. Well, I suppose you may feel you yourself have been the target of a fair amount of preachin’ and a teachin’ so I won’t say any more, or not much more. Whether or not you understand why some, including myself, have reacted the way we have, you definitely get credit for politely hanging in there.

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  88. Gary,

    The same type of thing happens in the blogs that I frequent more often. I am not even sure how I stumbled here, it wasn’t on purpose. God’s will I suppose. I am surely not here to try to lecture or preach to anyone. I for one agree to disagree. If it was God’s purpose to teach me patience and perseverance, I think he was spot on placing me here.

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  89. “The same type of thing happens in the blogs that I frequent more often. I am not even sure how I stumbled here, it wasn’t on purpose. God’s will I suppose. I am surely not here to try to lecture or preach to anyone. I for one agree to disagree. If it was God’s purpose to teach me patience and perseverance, I think he was spot on placing me here.”

    Brenda, There is so much Platonic determinism in this comment I hardly know where to start. The end result is no matter what you say or do, it is God’s will or purpose. That leaves Brenda with no volition and ultimately no responsibility.

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  90. God’s will. God’s purpose. He placed me here. God ordained. God predetermined it. It happened, it must be right. God allowed it.

    Think carefully. Whoever makes these statements (myself included, not picking on Brenda) is saying that the mere fact that something occurred means:

    it is right
    it is good
    it is from God
    God is on their side

    This is not a small thing. It is a big deal. Not everyone who uses these words means them to be hurtful. However, these words commonly defend all kinds of evil & the abused are left with nowhere to go mentally or spiritually.

    These words will never allow anyone to think about right & wrong. These words move us right into fatalism… when right is wrong, and wrong is right… just because it happened.

    These words state that just because it happened, by default it’s right. This is not good thinking. These words can send someone to their breaking point. These words teach suffering, submission, compliance. The truth is, each person makes choices each & every day, for good or bad. Just like our kids do. They aren’t robots. Remember, we don’t have absolute robot control over our children’s behavior, yet we do love our kids.

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  91. A Mom – – Your comment reminds me of something else – – the flip side – – how babies are born in sin – – we are not good. I’ve gotten reprimanded for saying someone was good. No one is good – only God is good.

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  92. Thanks Julie Ann. I really worry about that sort of thinking

    Amom took that thinking to it’s logical conclusions and she is so right.

    What if we believed that God wants us to be responsible for everything we say or do because He created humans to be rational thinking beings? That would mean we have to take responsibility and be obedient to Christ as believers saved by grace (and repentance). Obedience is responsibility and not a work of salvation.

    There is something else to fear when attributing everything we do or what happens to God’s will or purpose. The commandment that says we are not to take the Lord’s Name in Vain really means we are not to attribute to God things that are not from Him. Therefore such declarations that this thing or that event is God’s will or purpose can be very dangerous. We had best be circumspect before we declare such things as God’s will or purpose.

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  93. Lydia, You obviously know everyone’s heart, especially mine. much more than God does and are determined to put me in my place. Why don’t you just say “Go away, we don’t want your king here.” I originally was interested in the topic, but since the topic has changed to me, not so much. I’m not sure how many times I must say I meant no harm, but I meant no harm. You are determined to pick me apart. Are you licensed to diagnose? Sj-Once again, I meant no harm. I had your best at heart.

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  94. Brenda,

    Lydia is not judging your heart. She is responding to your words. I also picked up on your expression of what I would call deterministic fatalism (“I think he was spot on placing me here”. No, God didn’t place you here. You chose to come here of your own free will. God allowed you to choose to come here, and He is not doubt teaching you something. Or maybe He is simply allowing you to learn something. In any event, you simply are not some sort of automaton who has no choice but to do whatever it is you find yourself doing, as your comment suggests. If Humans have no choice but to do whatever it is they do, God is the author of sin, and that simply cannot be.

    On a related note, even if Lydia was judging your heart, I find nothing in Scripture that proscribes judging (as in discerning) other people’s hearts. In fact, I dare say that we must become proficient in judging/discerning others’ hearts. Otherwise, we would not be able to respond to Jesus’ admonitions regarding our dealings with those He called wolves and pigs. I am of the opinion that ecclesiastical leaders wrongly teach us not to judge hearts in order to minimize the possibility that they themselves will be held accountable.

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  95. Gary, I also have picked up on many things that were said to me. My heart only has to be right with God and held accountable to Him. You can judge if you want, it won’t make you right. There is a process in the Bible for going to a brother or sister that has offended you or you think is going down the wrong path. This is not it. I will continue to pray for Sj I have learned that this site is not home for me. This site is legalism in a different way. As long as I agree completely or express myself just the way you want, everything is well. The elders that were spoke of in the original post were wrong. This is too. I recently escaped a very abusive husband. I see this site no less abusive.

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  96. “Lydia, You obviously know everyone’s heart, especially mine. much more than God does and are determined to put me in my place. ”

    Brenda, why should I assume there is something different in a person’s heart than what they say, write or do? How does that work? Scripture says that what is in the heart comes out. Are you trying to tell me you have different beliefs in your heart than what you write here? I have never understood that declaration that we are claiming to know another’s heart and that is some sort of sin. It is said a lot in Christian circles. All we can go by are what people say, write or do.

    One reason comments on a blog are a blessing is that we can flesh out understanding. You have continued on the same path even though quite a few here have questioned your declarations. What conclusion are we to come to? In fact, you have declared that all you write here is God’s will/purpose so who can argue with that? Now you declare that I am claiming to know “everyone’s” heart much more than God does. Can you not see the problem? Did God make you write that, too?

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  97. “There is something else to fear when attributing everything we do or what happens to God’s will or purpose. The commandment that says we are not to take the Lord’s Name in Vain really means we are not to attribute to God things that are not from Him. Therefore such declarations that this thing or that event is God’s will or purpose can be very dangerous.”

    Yes. It is not right or fair to account any action (good or bad) to a person, if that person was not responsible. How much more upsetting is it then to account any or all our actions (good or bad) to God, as if God is responsible for what we do?

    Fate = fatalism = destiny = determinism = pre-determinism. This belief is found in the Islamic religion. Possibly other world religions as well. It is not found in Jesus’ teachings nor found when reading the Bible as a whole, IMO.

    It’s evident this belief has slowly crept into American Christian churches over the last few decades. I am concerned. It does not give our young people any hope… or understanding of personal responsibility.

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  98. “I’ve gotten reprimanded for saying someone was good. No one is good – only God is good.”

    IF no one is good
    OR
    IF only Christians are good, and it’s not them doing good, only God doing good through them in them
    THEN we would be a liar to:

    tell anyone, “good job”
    look anyone in the eye and tell them, “thank you”

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  99. Brenda
    DECEMBER 29, 2013 @ 1:25 PM
    “Waitingforthetrumpet2,

    Could you please elaborate on your view of science and faith going together? I don’t believe the Big Bang Theory or evolution can go together with faith. In what ways do they coexist?”

    I feel like I was being effectively dismissed. Did I once say anything about believing in evolution? There are many scientists who are Christians who also do not believe in evolution, but can justify science with the Bible. If all science is an abomination because it doesn’t accept a literal 6 24-hour day creation, then explain how there can be stars that are hundreds, thousands, millions and even billions of light-years away….if the sun, moon and stars were all created on the first or second 24 hour day and the Earth is only 6000 years old.. Am I not entitled to my feelings, fears, thoughts or questions, just because someone else here doesn’t believe in something I wrote?

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  100. Waitingforthetrumpet 2, I know you asked Brenda, but I’m curious. Are you saying you don’t believe evolution is compatible with Christian teaching?

    It’s not an essential for me – I’m just wondering. I personally believe they are compatible when we view the Bible as a series of teachings, especially if we see that a day according to the Creation story may not be a day as we define it. There’s so many incredible things about the world – like the stars you mentioned. Isn’t it amazing?

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  101. My view on evolution, so far, is still up in the air. I am having to overhaul many of my 50+ years of beliefs and am currently going through a faith crisis. I am not losing my faith in Jesus, I just am now questioning my beliefs of what I was taught from the Bible.

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  102. lydiasellerofpurple on January 1, 2014 at 9:47 PM,
    Thank you for your information on not taking the Lord’s name in vain. That makes so much sense and highlights the importance of that commandment.

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  103. waitingforthetrumpet2, thank you for your answer. For me it’s been hard when I hear people saying “this is what the Bible says,” but I know the Bible contradicts itself and I know it was translated so many times and in pieces. It’s also difficult for me when people pick one scripture and demand it be translated literally and be applied now but then have tattoos or short hair (or long hair) or wear jewelry to church. A minister/friend told me to look to the Bible for what it teaches us about the nature of God. I believe in God, Jesus Christ who came as a man and died on the cross so we can be reconciled with God, and the Holy Spirit. Beyond that, I’m thinking it doesn’t matter. One day we’ll all face God and be drawn to God or reject God. And there are so many ways to know God in this world.

    May you enjoy your journey of discovery.

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  104. “My view on evolution, so far, is still up in the air. I am having to overhaul many of my 50+ years of beliefs and am currently going through a faith crisis. I am not losing my faith in Jesus, I just am now questioning my beliefs of what I was taught from the Bible.”

    An interesting read is Genesis for Normal People, It is not really about evolution but about how to read Genesis

    http://www.amazon.com/Genesis-Normal-People-Study-Edition-ebook/dp/B007T9R8DM

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  105. “Thank you for your information on not taking the Lord’s name in vain. That makes so much sense and highlights the importance of that commandment.”

    Were you taught it was about cussing, too? I really gleaned a lot from studying how an ancient Hebrew audience would have understood it. Kind of scared me because it is so easy to say something is from God or something is God’s will. Many of us have done that as it is normal in most Christian circles. Instead, a harder way is to ask what is my responsibility?

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  106. I don’t remember why I thought it was about cussing, but I do know that has never made sense to me. It just didn’t go with the other commandments or seem to be serious enough to claim the top spot. But the way you explain it makes a lot of sense – it is really serious to claim that something is from God when it’s not necessarily. For one thing, it can interfere with other people’s relationship with God. And that fits with what else the Bible tells us about the nature of God.

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