Archive for April, 2009

You have considered my trouble;
You have known my soul
In adversities
Psalm 31:7

Lord, sometimes I’m so afraid
my skin grows cold
and I can hardly breathe.
I feel so helpless.
I’m afraid of so many things
of certain people, of being alone,
of death, pain,
not having enough money…..
Lord, the list never ends.
I just can’t help myself.

I am your refuge and your fortress,
your God on whom you can rely.
Do you not know that
in Me you are safe?

When you live in My Shelter,
you are in the shadow of the Almighty,
whose power no enemy can withstand.
Be filled with My spirit
so you can rise above your human
strength and live in My
supernatural strength.
I will deliver you
from all traps and snares.
I will cover you with the holy feathers
of My protecting wings.
My Holy Spirit within you will
convince you of your place of safety.
In the place of safety you will not be afraid
of destruction, real or imagined.

Though you may observe the world
stumbling and falling around you,
you will walk in your integrity,
empowered by My Spirit,
and you will be unscathed.
Make a home for your heart
in the secret place of the Most High,
the place where you were born to live.

Psalm 91:1-7

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Working Out Your Salvation

An essential ingredient of Christianity is when a man or woman develops a life-altering connection with Almighty God, which becomes a solid, unassailable relationship. As such, the literature describing God’s nature and Man’s nature is deep and authentic, especially when it comes to the manner by which sinful men and women relate to a holy God. It’s why the Scriptures are so rich with Divine wisdom and how it contrasts with the foolishness of people—most of which is tragic, some of which is comical.

At the same time, the Christian experience—especially during the last half of the 20th century—has many commonly held beliefs, which contradict biblical teaching and the experience of most people’s lives. One of these false assumptions is that, when a person invites Christ to come into his or her life, sinful behavior changes quickly, permanently, and nearly flawlessly.

The height of this foolishness is when new converts are paraded in front of the church—like a successful businessman parades a trophy wife. To show them off, new converts often “give their testimonies” in front of large groups. In Campus Crusade for Christ, this practice was elevated to an art form.

Like an infomercial, these testimonies routinely exaggerate the truth like a fat, middle-aged man exaggerates the distance he jogs. Invariably, the person giving the testimony inflates the depth of his or her depravity before turning their lives over to God. Interestingly, they seem to enjoy depicting themselves as much worse than they actually were, as the litany of offenses and misbehavior actually grows as time passes. For example, someone who smoked pot a couple of times would say, “Back then, I was a real pothead.” The person would become a horrible miscreant, as the facts would take a back seat to an embellished story. With equal exaggeration, the person would describe how exemplary his or her life has become since being “born again.” Much of the transformation exists in their story but not in their day-to-day behavior.

Their embellished story becomes “the truth,” as the person’s infomercial takes on a life of its own. Enjoying the stature, which comes from living a lie, many of these people come to believe their prevarication, defending it as who they really are. When this process is complete, another Pharisee is born and added to the ranks of Christendom.

In a nutshell, that’s the problem with more Christian testimonies than not. Like infomercials, the product—core change in a person—is over-sold and under delivered. Because much of the change isn’t real or long lasting, those who know these people—how they walk as juxtaposed to how they talk—dismiss these testimonies like the claims of pyramid marketers. Others, who are less charitable, reject Christianity completely because they can see this as hypocrisy—as “a bunch of bull.”

Here’s the question that needs an answer: Wouldn’t it be better to tell the truth, to be completely transparent, and let the chips fall where they may?

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I’ve just finished watching the Susan Boyle rendition of “I Have a Dream” from Les Miserables for about the fifteenth time, and each time it brings tears to my eyes. It’s that inspiring. That it was an incredible performance was obvious, but it was much more than that. After all, there are many great performances.

The first time I saw it about 6 million had seen it before me. Now, there have been 43 million, which begs this question: Why has this become such a popular uTube video?

I believe I have the answer. It’s because our life, as Americans, has taken such a hit that we rally to the cause of an obvious underdog. Like Susan Boyle, we’ve been told we can’t do it; we can’t make the grade. Our best times are behind us, and we should apologize for everything we have ever done since the Pilgrims landed in 1620.

We are no longer a nation based on Judeo-Christian principles, and we should apologize to terrorists, abandon our allies, and accept the inevitable decline of our civilization. It’s the politically correct thing to do. Maybe you can accept this, but I say, No way! We still have a great deal to offer.

Let the First Lady be ashamed of being an American; I’m not. Let the President bow to a Muslim King; I won’t. Let those who whine that we will never be great again, say what they will. Our best days are still ahead of us.

Like Susan Boyle, I know I still have what it takes, and so do millions of others. We can weather this storm. Remember, it took a Jimmy Carter to get a Ronald Reagan. It’s the same for Barack Hussain Obama. His socialism will get old quickly, and we will once again be what we were called to be–a city on a hill, a beacon of light for others to notice and emulate.

That’s what makes me tear up when I listen to Susan Boyle repeatedly–her belief in herself, despite all obstacles. Hang in there, and never, never, never give up.

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Christianity is all about a person developing a life-altering relationship with Almighty God—a personal, intimate relationship. As such, the literature describing God’s nature and Man’s nature is deep and authentic, especially when it comes to how sinful men related to a holy God. It’s why the Scriptures are so rich with wisdom—God’s wisdom.

At the same time, Christianity in America, especially from the last half of the 20th century forward, has many commonly held assumptions, which contradict biblical teaching and the reality of life. One of these false assumptions is that once a person invites Christ to come into his or her life that their sinful behavior changes quickly and permanently.

It’s the reason why churches parade new converts in front of the entire church to “give their testimony.” Like an infomercial, these testimonies exaggerate the truth as much as a middle-aged man exaggerates how far and how often he jogs. Invariably, the person giving the testimony exaggerates the depth of their depravity before inviting Christ to come into his or her life. With equal exaggeration, the person describes how exemplary they have become since being “born again.”

Like most infomercials, the product is over-sold and under delivered. Because authenticity is missing, many dismiss these testimonies as being overstated, while others reject Christianity because they can see the speakers as hypocrites.

Wouldn’t it be better to tell the truth scrupously, and let the chips fall where they may?

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Hmmm. From the beginning, the haughty attitude, the statement that he can change America, talk openly to socialist nations implying he can get things done. I do not see him as laying his life on the line for anyone, especially NOT America. But throwing us under the bus as he is doing continually.

Barrack Obama said it best when at his acceptance speech he said “Ladies and Gentlemen, change has come to America”, arms open. My first thought was, yes, the change is him, the first black man to be President. That is the only change I feel he was after.

When Michelle Obama said she was proud of America for the first time in her adult life, I felt it was only because they were able to run as the first black family in the white house. If they are racists and felt they never had a chance in America as Blacks, oppressed, which they clearly were not, then yes, she would finally be proud but racist if she felt oppressed, they’ve both accomplished more than most white Americans. Give me a break.

I often said he was a narcissist and now I know he’s a Sociopath as well. He has done nothing but lie. He plays both sides anywhere he goes and he cares not who’s toes he steps on and he’ll just placate you to make it right or seem like he’s on your side all over again.

The number one sign of a Sociopath is continuous lies.His campaign proved that, he changed daily in his speeches on his beliefs and what his plans would be

Now he wants the name JESUS taken down when he made a speech at Georgetown University. And it was. I do not believe that he knew nothing of this beforehand.

The narcissism in him wants to be above Jesus? or is he really an Athiest who pretended to be a Christian.

No Christian would denounce anything about Jesus or God for any reason in any form.

Even in my distrust of him from day one, I still feel totally abused and betrayed by him as an American.

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In each of these cases, religious abuse occurred. Obviously, the priest had no right to slap a seven-year-old child. In the second case, the minister used his position of authority to assault the young man’s character instead of dealing with the issue, which in that case was the church’s belief that square dancing was sinful. In this instance, the abuse was probably unintentional. The abuse in the final case, however, was much more serious. In fact, it was life altering and very destructive. Not many suffer abuse at this level, but those who do have significant scarring to their souls.

Tragically, religious abuse occurs every day, and millions have a story bottled up inside them. Perhaps you have one as well? Even if you consider your abuse to be minor, it is an issue, which needs to be addressed. This is specifically what Pushing Jesus will help you accomplish.

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I was badly confused and didn’t know what to do or how to handle what was happening. While in this confused state of mental turmoil, I flew back East for my sister’s wedding, leaving my wife and children in Santa Barbara. To save money, I stayed at my brother’s house.

My sister-in-law’s younger sister, who I’ll call Melissa, took care of my brother’s young sons so that we could have a pleasant evening and stay at the reception longer. It was nice to be with my family and life-long friends. Because it was an escape from all the stress at home, I let my guard down and became extremely intoxicated. My judgment was also impaired.

For years, Melissa had had a crush on me. After my brother and his wife went to bed, Melissa made her move. Well, you can guess what happened. We had an encounter—at the end of which I freaked out. I dressed, left the house, and walked for hours. My life was in shambles, and I knew it. I called my wife and told her exactly what had happened—all of it. I was desperate for help. Her response, which I expected, was to call The Elders.

When I returned to Santa Barbara the following day, The Elders were waiting for me—all of them. I wasn’t allowed to go home until they “dealt with me.” When I arrived, I had never felt so heartsick and remorseful in my life. I was willing to do anything to get back on track. The Elders could see this, but it didn’t matter. They only had one method for handling every situation—abusive verbal intimidation. After two hours of enduring their malicious assault, I started having suicidal ideations for the first time in my life. Shattered and intimidated, I became very compliant.

Their verbal abuse was difficult to handle. Far worse, however, was their chiding and contemptuous ridicule which never ended. By contrast, Confession in Roman Catholicism is sacred, and nothing said is ever repeated. At our church, the exact opposite was true. Confession to The Elders was fuel for gossip, providing another level of disgrace and humiliation. They also kicked me off the softball team—to give me more time “to think about” what I had done.

The Elders for our family were, by far, the most brutal at the church. One was an auto mechanic, and the other was a pressman for a local printer. Both had graduated high school but had no further education. I was expected to “submit” every important personal and family decision to them to see if it was God’s will or not. To this day, I can still see them wagging a finger at me—with grease under their fingernails—to tell me angrily, without question, what God’s will was for my life.

For example, when I decided to get an M.A and a Ph.D., they were my authority concerning educational matters. The pressman could barely read, but he was God’s authority in my life about higher education. Nearly everybody accepted this nonsense. If you questioned it, your loyalty and submissiveness quickly became the issue, and you were “dealt with accordingly.” In other words, they would scream at you, routinely using profanity to do so—while at the same time calling it God’s will.

They actually practiced a de facto infallibility because they would never admit to being wrong about how they handled a situation. They would always say they made a lot of mistakes, but no mistake was ever specific. This is how a cult works and how it exercises power over the young, the naive, and the unstable, which was nearly everybody in our church.

Over time and slowly, The Elders became the head of the household in each family, usurping authority which rightfully belonged to the husband. It’s how they maintained an iron fist of control. They were like the pigs in Animal Farm who ended up dressing like men, calling themselves more equal than the other animals. I knew it was wrong and clearly undermined the sanctity of each family, but nearly all of my friends accepted it as gospel. I couldn’t. To me, it was aberrant, and I found myself at the University of California—Santa Barbara library every day reading about cults and brainwashing.

I began writing about what life was really like in our church and submitted it to the leaders as a critique for much needed reform. It took me a year to complete; I’m not sure the founder even read it. Presenting it to him and the others, however, was very important for me because I wasn’t going to be bullied by their cultic practices any longer, nor would I let them verbally abuse me ever again.

I finally broke free from the cult, but the years of abusiveness took a heavy toll on my wife and me. She drank heavily, stopped taking care of our children, and had numerous affairs. She never recovered from our experience in the cult. Neither did our marriage.

I became an alcoholic and had a string of relationships. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, I became the person The Elders said I would be. I stopped believing God loved me, and I was very angry with Him for many years. My self-worth was in the toilet, and it took a decade for me to figure out what happened. When I did, I did the work necessary to finally get back on track—to reestablish my relationship with God. To this day, however, it’s hard to be a member of a church. I can’t let my guard down completely—I just can’t. The damage is too deep.

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