SSB Gathering – March 1, 2015

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

 by Kathi

 red poppies

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Mark 12: 28-34

(28) One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

(29) “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. (30) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (31) The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

(32) “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. (33) To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

(34) When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

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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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38 comments on “SSB Gathering – March 1, 2015

  1. I thought it posted earlier when I checked. Did you have your coffee this morning, Kathi? 🙂 Thanks much for putting these together for me. It’s a great help to me. Even if there is not a lot of activity, it’s here and available.

    BTW, Kathi and I were talking last night about songs and verses and realizing that we may inadvertently trigger someone with a painful memory connected to a song or a verse. Please know that we would never do that intentionally. If something triggers you, feel free to talk about it. We won’t be offended. That’s what this place is for.

    I hope everyone has a great day!

    Like

  2. Hey Julie Anne. I started reading your blog about a week ago, and finally worked up the courage to ask something that’s been bothering me for a long time. Is it wrong to hate praying? I don’t hate God, and I wish I could pray, but when I try, I feel like I’m reciting the table of the elements– completely empty and hypocritical. I feel all the feelings: gratitude, love, trust, etc., until I open my mouth. Then all of a sudden, there’s nothing left but resentment and bitterness. Why does God need me to feed His ego by churning out a lot of meaningless words??

    The only time/way I can remember talking comfortably to God is during a crisis. I’m about to fall off a horse, a friend is in the hospital, etc., and then it’s only, “help!!”

    Talking with “normal church people” has been completely non-productive; usually it makes me feel guiltier than ever. I keep getting the “pray without ceasing” bit. Do you have any thoughts, or know of anyone with a similar experience?

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  3. I realized it did not post as scheduled after I had my coffee Julie Anne! 😉 I thought I did everything right, but didn’t see it when I woke up this morning. Oh well.

    Witch Hazel – Honestly, I don’t pray that often unless I tell someone I’ll pray for them. We have prayed for years about certain things and find no change. Then we’ll hear from a family member who says that God always answers their prayers. We feel like we’re in the no-hearing zone. I can’t say that I’ve felt guilt, but certainly disappointment. I understand what you’re saying.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I applaud the verses you chose this morning. It is so easy to forget that these two commands sum up what we are to be and do. Love is the key, not nagging, debating, winning, or any other action that we tend to get caught up in. Often I get so frustrated with others’ behavior, that I ignore my own contribution to bad situations. I forget to step back, set a safe boundary and love in the way Jesus taught. I need to be reminded of this hourly!!!
    As for the music, your readers can choose whether or not to push play! I am sure for every song that one reader loves, another feels despair. There has been music here that I love, some that I feel indifferent about and a few, well I just move on. So JA and Kathi I personally think you don’t need to worry about it. Until you start “ambushing” your readers with “pop up” music 🙂 , don’t sweat the tunes!
    Thank you for being here on Sunday. I still haven’t dipped my toe back into church so it is a blessing to have this place to come. I may be the one lost sheep that Jesus goes in search of. That is what your Sunday post is for me. I have never attended a church that would do that for a member. For them it is all about the numbers! I am thankful for all who come here! Xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Welcome to the blog, Witch Hazel. I love your pseudonym – the name of a plant used medicinally for healing.

    I also really like your question about praying. I wanted to get clarity, first. Do you mean praying in general, or praying corporately (out loud)?

    I think when we have experienced difficulties in church or especially spiritual abuse, it can sometimes be difficult to pray. Some of that may be because we were told “rules” how to pray and those rules might not even be Biblical. Sometimes it can cause us to feel inadequate if our prayers are judged by others.

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  6. Witch Hazel! Join the club. For me it gets worse when people all compete with their praying. Usually I feel like I am talking to myself or performing for others! Everyone worships differently. I have joined a group of people who meet weekly ( at a Catholic Church-new for me) who practice centering prayer. We basically sit for a period of time and listen for what God has to say to us. It is sitting in silence, with no need to “talk to God”. that has been so soothing for me. Maybe one day it will make me feel more “open” to verbal prayer, but for now it helps.
    I know different people here have their own experiences with prayer. Some people are transformed by it and others just feel unnerved by it. Please do not allow others to dictate how you are to connect with God. Guilt is so counterproductive. Is there anytime you connect with God? Looking at a sunset, a child, listening to music, helping someone in need. As the verse today says, love is key, not words!!! Your actions can be a prayer. Or at least that is my take on things.
    I love your honesty! You are an example for all of us.

    Like

  7. I mostly mean praying out loud. The churches I’ve grown up in put a ton of emphasis on praying out loud- evidently God can’t hear you otherwise. Silently is less difficult, but anything beyond a simple ‘thanks’ or ‘help’ still feels forced and fake.

    For a time, my mom was into a study of 1st Peter that taught you to pray. It had some kind of anagram. A stood for adoration, C for confession, S for supplication. There was another letter, but I don’t remember it. The study made it very clear that supplication (asking for things) was to one very last, and was not to take up more than about an eighth of the total prayer; furthermore, you were definitely NOT supposed to ask for anything special: daily bread only.

    I have also heard several sermons on how you MUST ALWAYS PRAY SOME VERSION OF THE LORD’S PRAYER!!! in some form or another. I have been told that the prayer must always come from the heart, but at the same time you absolutely must pray x amount if times per day, whether you want to or not. I have been told that praying is a special time between you and God, that without it you will have no idea what His Will might be (funny, I thought that was what the Bible was for), use a devotional book to tell you what to pray, pray for yourself, pray for others, always pray out loud, never pray out loud…..

    Liked by 1 person

  8. @Witch Hazel: Put aways all the formulas and just pray from the heart. Whatever works for you — out loud or silent, thanks or requests, anger or joy. There is no right or wrong. Just share.

    We all go through times when the prayers simply can’t leave our hearts. We’re too tired or hurt or have too many questions. That’s when it’s important to remember that the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf.

    @Ann: PLEASE be very careful with centering prayer. I ventured into that realm and found a whole bunch of demonic activity, and it took nearly two years to recover.

    Like

  9. Hi Witch Hazel,

    Wow. Sounds like you’ve been given a lot of contradictory advise. I don’t think I’d want to pray either, if I were you. :/

    I find those acronym things feel fake to me too. I’m not sure where those ideas come from. I don’t do most conversations with people, especially people I’m in intimate relationship with, according to a formula like that ACTS acronym. God is a person, not some sort of combination lock with dials that have to be turned just exactly this way, this number of times, in this direction, until you hit this number, and do the same thing until you get to the next number, and make sure you do the numbers in this order all the time or you haven’t done it “right” and it won’t “work.” It sounds like you’ve been given formulas intended to get certain results, rather than prayer as conversation with your dearest Friend designed to foster intimacy and relationship. No wonder it feels fake to you.

    I would agree that prayer should come from the heart, but in that case it needs to be your prayer from your heart, not a formula.

    I’ve heard of people who come out of environments where prayer is hyper-structured who have the same difficulty with praying that you describe. For a long time they just do not want to because it feels fake and forced. Just the idea of prayer and what they’ve been taught it is is not how they want to relate to God. Apparently, eventually most of them find their way into praying their own way from their hearts, but it can take a long time for some folks.

    Not sure if any of this resonates, but my $.02

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  10. @Witch Hazel: I completely understand. After attending church for decades all the prayers sound the same. Same words, same phrases over and over, all sounding meaningless.

    So when I talk to God, I don’t think of it as praying, I think of it as just talking to Him. No boring repetition of phrases I think I should say because I heard it at church. I just start talking (almost always silently – I am very uncomfortable praying out loud).
    Whatever is on my mind is what comes out first – “Lord, today really sucked” or “My kids are struggling please be with them” or “Thank you for a good day.” Just talking like I would to my family.

    I read in an old book on prayer that it’s even okay to say “Lord I just don’t want to talk to you right now.” He will understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I hate praying out loud and avoid it like the plague because I feel I’m being judged by others by how I pray and it’s no longer between me and God. I think it would be so much better if a group leader would tell people to pray silently for a minute for a certain prayer request, then another minute for another and so on instead of one or more praying aloud or worse, going around the circle or table.

    As for personal prayers, words aren’t always necessary.

    Like

  12. I agree with the posts that say think of praying as just talking to God. Just like you are talking to Him right there in front of you. (actually you are) I laugh when I hear someone praying in King James. Is that the way we talk to our friends? My Bible says to go boldly into the throne of God and look him square in the eyes and bring Him our needs. He is my friend. And I quit trying to impress others that may be around me a long time ago. I could really care less what others will think of my prayer. I’m not talking to them anyway.
    Jim

    Liked by 1 person

  13. WH is my excellent daughter. I’m so glad she’s found a place here too. We’ve been through a LOT with church, both over her lifetime and especially intense this last year. Thanks to everyone for making her feel welcome and like she has something important to say. Because she does…but we’re more accustomed to being shut down in the church, and her especially because of her youth and awesomely unusual mind.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Prayer is such a personal thing just as our relationship with Jesus is. I was raised in a church that spoke just like the KJV and I didn’t see a think weird about it at the time. Later is life I realized that I don’t live in the 1700’s and don’t talk like that to my friends so why would I speak that way to my best friend. He knows what’s on our hearts at all times, but wants us to come to Him with everything. That doesn’t mean that you should feel pressure from anyone else on what you pray, when, where or how. If you don’t feel comfortable praying in front of a group, that should be perfectly acceptable.

    Doing the acronym thing is too stressful IMO. JOY, give thanks to or for Jesus first, praise God, Others next and Yourself last. Keeping things in a nice little order just doesn’t work for me. It should be a pleasure to talk to God. When I pray out loud I stumble over words, can’t remember who I want to pray for or about. Sometimes I can’t think of any thing to pray about so I pray through scripture. I don’t think that lightning will strike if I neglect to pray before my breakfast or at least it hasn’t yet. I don’t know about anyone else but I give thanks for blue skies, butterflies, a warm summer breeze, fire flies in the middle of the night. It doesn’t take much for me to want to thank God for it.

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  15. Boy, Persephone, your comment made me smile and get a little teary-eyed. I guess I was just thinking about how spiritual abuse affects a whole family and us mamas are very concerned about our children, as the damage done to us was also done to them. I’m so glad Witch Hazel felt comfortable commenting here. And I’m especially thrilled that she has a safe place with you to process what you as a family went through. My daughter (Hannah) and I got closer through our experience (after a brief rocky period). I predict the same for you.

    Last Sunday at church we had a different pastor preach and he discussed prayer and also fessed up that he did not like to pray corporately. I loved his honesty. I have a hunch that many in the church breathed a sigh of relief when he said that.

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  16. Gail – I’m sorry that I didn’t respond earlier today. I’m glad that the music meant a lot to you.

    Which leads me to….If anyone has requests for music that you would like to see on here, please let me know. I feel like I’ve already gone through my favorites. I’m open to suggestions! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. My daughter is a really cool person. With all we’ve been through – including a divorce this year from an emotionally/spiritually abusive husband/father – I’m really blessed in my kids. That’s such an overused word, but it’s really how I feel about them. We’ve even survived flirting around the edges of the homeschool movement, but came out of that intact.

    We laugh a LOT. We have a lot of gallows humor, but also just a supreme appreciation for the absurd, especially in everyday life, and ESPECIALLY in the church. We tend to annoy your average church folk.

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  18. “We tend to annoy your average church folk.”

    I know that feeling only in a different way. Last night, in small group, we were discussing if discipleship can occur online for most of an hour and a half. I raised my hand to speak several times. Each time someone else was addressed to speak. I will swear that I did not wear my invisible suit and I actually was there. The facilitator already knows my views on the topic. I think the blogs that I reach out to are fantastic. Others lift me up and I have the hope that something I say helps someone else. Sometimes yes, others, not so much. I have been discipled more by those I speak to online than those I meet in person. There is far less judgment and much more empathy.

    The people that were called on put a very high value on the local church and think talking to people online is a waste of time. The reasoning behind their opinions is because anyone can say anything and not be who they claim they are. As we all know, that can also happen in person, but these folks think that you need to see facial expressions and body language to understand a person. Horse Hockey!! Even the preacher admits that half of the last 15 weddings he performed the couples met online. Seriously, online meetings can be valuable. I know Julie Anne, this is not a dating site, but you don’t know if the Lord won’t use it to put some happy couple together. lol

    Now, I will admit that I have a difficult time remembering everyone’s story (background). Short term memory issues make it more difficult and will take me longer to grasp where someone is coming from, but that is also a problem when I meet people in person. If I am judged by my body language, I wonder what the man thought as I was spilling the communion cup as it was being passed out as my hands shook from tremors or my head involuntarily shaking no to a thought that I wanted to say yes to. Body language is not always what it is cracked up to be. I sat with a woman last night who I have been talking to for a few months and could not remember her name to save my life.

    I love the fact that mom’s and their daughters are coming together at the same safe place.

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  19. WH, I thrilled that you feel comfortable having your mom respond here. I have never had a daughter, but I am one! Sometimes moms’ egos get caught up in how their daughters question things, but your mom sounds like she wants you to blaze your own trail! Moms aren’t perfect, but usually have their child’s best interest at heart!😃 Have a wonderful week to all!

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  20. “I love the fact that mom’s and their daughters are coming together at the same safe place.”
    That may not have come out quite right, so I hope no one takes offense. I know it would be better to have other meeting places.

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  21. Brenda R says, “Last night, in small group, we were discussing if discipleship can occur online for most of an hour and a half. I raised my hand to speak several times. Each time someone else was addressed to speak.”

    Kathi is right, the facilitator had an agenda. I don’t think I’m just being cynical to suggest that maybe, just maybe, you were the target of the entire discussion. If you are participating in blogs, nobody, including the facilitator, can keep you from speaking. They cannot control the discussion. They cannot exercise power over you. (Actually, your facilitator probably wouldn’t have succeeded in securing my silence. I’m not in the habit of raising my hand before speaking in a small group setting.)

    That said, I would agree that, where fellowship isn’t squelched, face to face is better than online. It’s just that in the couple of instances where I was privileged to enjoy actual, honest and open, uncontrolled fellowship over any significant period of time, there was active resistance from one pastor and something of a hijacking of the fellowship by another pastor. They simply cannot stand not being in control, or at least the center of attention.

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  22. Ann,
    Well, she was here first. :). Due to her own background, she’s always worked really hard to make sure we kids end up our own people.
    Brenda R.,
    No offence taken.

    Everyone who responded, thanks for taking the time. I didn’t know this was such an issue for so many other people. Maybe we need to reconsider the “standard” definition of prayer.

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  23. Gary W.,
    Unless, of course, the pastor thinks it’s beneath him to be directly involved. In the abusive Driscoll-worshipping church we were in, the pastor used the passage about appointing deacons to justify his lack of care for the hurting in the church. According to him, Peter essentially said, “Hey, go take care of those pesky widows and orphans. They are not the leader’s problem; I have more spiritual things to do!”

    That doesn’t mean he didn’t still control the church, he just made sure that he didn’t have to bother with any flock problems if He didn’t want to.

    Capital H inserted to make a point.

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  24. Gary W,
    There is always someone that can speak louder than I can and more men attending the group than women. Most of the women rarely speak in any situation I have been in with them. I had no problem speaking up to the lady I was sitting next after the session by saying that apparently I was invisible and told her what my views were. She didn’t seem to have a problem with anything that I said. The questions are supposedly coming in from the group on a weekly basis. Now I’m not so sure.

    I have had convos with this person regarding my opinions, but don’t think anyone else knows that. There was one person who thought it was a possibility of having good interaction online, but were thinking of social media as only being FB, Instagram and Twitter. I don’t do any of that and believe he was speaking of someone he knew personally.

    Perhaps next time I should take a megaphone with me and boom out, “I’m here”.

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  25. Witch Hazel,

    In which case this “pastor” ought to stop calling himself a pastor.

    Brenda,

    Or maybe just a large placard to hold up reminding people of your presence. Might be the last time you would be allowed to be present, though. Sounds like the group you’re in may be a good place to be, although maybe this particular facilitator is maybe more into controlling than facilitating. Maybe I’m being unfair. Don’t let anything I say sour a good thing for you.

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  26. My experience with Internet relationships has been great. I met my husband in a medical support chatroom where I also met my best friend. She and another friend of ours also met their husbands in the same chatroom. I have met dozens of people at conventions that I had previously met online and every person was exactly how they presented themselves online. I really don’t know what I would have done without those friendships. I know the Internet can be a dangerous place but I think when people come together to support each other, whether it is in coping with a disease in the family or recovering from abuse, that kind of situation doesn’t attract the crazies or the exploiters. I think the support here is great too.

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  27. Gary W,
    You don’t have the capability of souring me on a good thing. lol No offense, I do pay attention to your opinions. This isn’t a good thing. I have every intention of addressing the situation after prayerful consideration. I do not want my emotions to get the best of me and say something out of contempt. I do get the impression of control behind a smile.

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  28. Marsha,
    That is interesting. I’ll have to find an MS singles chat room. I do know of 2 couples that met at MS seminars. In each case one had the disease and the other was a medical professional of some sort. It worked out well for them. I’m glad your marriage has been good for you.

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  29. My experience with Internet relationships has been great.

    Oh, wow, me too, Marsha. The bulk of my support during the lawsuit came from internet “strangers” who have now become some of my dearest friends. I’ve also met a handful of blog readers. I absolutely love that!

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  30. I don’t do most conversations with people, especially people I’m in intimate relationship with, according to a formula like that ACTS acronym. God is a person, not some sort of combination lock with dials that have to be turned just exactly this way, this number of times, in this direction, until you hit this number, and do the same thing until you get to the next number, and make sure you do the numbers in this order all the time or you haven’t done it “right” and it won’t “work.”

    If God DID work like that, you wouldn’t be praying; you’d be uttering a Magickal Incantation to force the supernatural being or force to YOUR will.

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  31. Brenda R – The next time you’re in that group situation, stand up, point your finger in the air and with the greatest amount of confidence you can muster up yell, “Hello! I’ve got something to say over here!” And then start talking until you finish what you have to say. When you’re done, thank them for listening then have a seat. Since you’ve been overlooked enough don’t worry about interrupting anyone.

    Now, I can’t say that it will work out all that well for you, but you’ll certainly get their attention! 😉

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  32. Kathi,
    That is a great idea, Kathi. I’m not sure how it will go over with the facilitator, but I really don’t know if I am totally concerned about his reactions any longer. Sometimes you’ve just got to take the bull by the horns, I can’t allow them to silence me. I should know during the next meeting what is going on. I plan to put my $.02 worth in even if it is a topic that I’m unconcerned about. I am bound and determined to be a part of the local body, if not at this church, I will find another. There is so much work that needs to be done and I should be allowed my voice.

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