Story #4 Continued – Live Interview-Story of Recovery from a Church of God childhood-Part 2

Well, we’re back with another portion of an interview conducted this year.   This is another portion of an earlier interview.  This person, who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian church, talks about why it was difficult for children in this performance-based religion, the church politics that created such a system,  the disruption caused by this system to her relationship with her family, and shame-based church disciplines.  I know for me and my family, it was damaging to hear over the pulpit that there is no favoritism in God’s church and that partiality was a sin, and then to see it all around you not from the lay members but the leadership.

Approx. 16 minutes, voices have been altered.

Our Actions Reveal Our Character

“The real me isn’t the person I describe, no the real me is me revealed by my actions.”

― Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Assessing the Problem

How many times in relationships and life have we ignored people’s actions and tried to ascribe to them a better attribute than they deserve? Maybe they’re busy, perhaps they didn’t really mean what they said, or I know this person just lied to me, but maybe they misspoke. A detective in a documentary said one time that to ignore coincidence after coincidence is just plain stupid. When people act childish, manipulative, jealous or hateful. There is no mistake.

And that’s the hard part, isn’t it? It’s not that we don’t recognize these character flaws, we try to believe the best about people and unintentionally blind ourselves refusing to accept what we know in our heart of hearts. Continue reading “Our Actions Reveal Our Character”

No Capes! The Day I Stopped Fixing Other People

There are times I must refuse to be a hero for other people’s causes.

e48df3c7d48dd4cd41c2ff3aae8b2722My goal this upcoming year is to stay focused on the here and now. This year I’m taking the philosophy of Edna Mode, the fictitious designer of superhero costumes in the Incredibles.

I’m going Mode mode. Renee a la Mode. Ok. Enough.

Her sentiment about “never looking back” is fantastic but that can be hard when you’ve got a lot of life to look back on. Staying in the present require changes that keep me in the right frame of mind. Facebook contacts may have to be blocked or less contact made with negative people, but I have to do whatever I can to remain on the upward track. I feel the tug from above to face forward and keep my emotions from getting tied up with the past.

I don’t mean to sound weird or schizophrenic, but all of us have an inner voice. The voice that tells us it’s time to move on and start a new chapter.  The voice that warns us in our gut about dangerous people. That gut feeling, Malcolm Gladwell calls it the Blink moment. Continue reading “No Capes! The Day I Stopped Fixing Other People”

Decisions in Zombie-Land

If you’re a Christian, you already know that your opinion about life and how your life should go will often run into a conflict with the Word of God.  God’s word is not designed to make us comfortable, but it challenges us spiritually to be more like Christ.   I write so much about spiritual awareness because I was so UN-aware of my religious surroundings most of my life.  I write from a place of learning.  Learning about Christ means learning more about me and understanding my journey to the present.  I didn’t realize how wrapped up in religion I was until one day I realized that I had only been studying the Bible with the voices of other people’s religious opinions in my head.

Let me explain.

I would read scripture and already decide what it meant because I  figured had already been taught that by my church (no need to explore further because the preacher said “thus”) or I would ignore any other meaning. It was as if I had become a spiritual zombie. Dead from the neck up.  Oh, I had a lot of company in zombie-town

An example of this, this will be my first time in 35 years putting up Christmas decorations.  It’s a long story about obeying my teaching. And no, we weren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I’ll tell you more about this confusion later this week.
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There was a part of my spiritual life where I didn’t read scriptures to discover what God was saying. I might do it in personal meditation time, but when it came to doctrine, I would read and study with the mindset of confirming what I already BELIEVED.  I did this even when there were times that what I was taught was not matching with reality.  We had to support our practices.  They were called “standards,” but very few could you find in the bible. But, internal standards of love,  mercy, truth, and justice, etc.  seemed to take a back seat to traditions and the name of the church.

 I stayed in zombie mode. 

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Admit it! This is about the only place you can find, bible discussion, pictures of zombies and talks about Christmas decorations in the same blog post!

But what if some of the things you already practice are not based on careful study of the Bible in the first place? As a pew sitter, you just not your head if you know better and keep it moving.  But teaching it is a whole other ball game.

I was studying with blinders on.  There was honesty there because I wouldn’t allow God  (can you imagine?) to talk to me about anything different from what my religion taught!

If we read to understand the will of God for our lives, we have to read the Bible in a way that we fully understand God’s meaning.  Going to church with the blind leading the blind is horrible.  I know, because I was one of them.  At one point many years ago, when I was in seekers mode, I would listen to my preacher and just enjoy the show, not really planning on changing anything that would be painful to change.  Once I got out of that mode of low-level living and made a serious commitment to live right, I discovered a whole new world of understanding. It was wonderful.

However, it seemed I was falling back into a spiritual mentality that I had left many years ago.  The mindset of not really concentrating on Jesus and me and just accepting what was becoming the status quo.  But this time in a different way.  I equated disobeying man-made rules with falling away from God. To me, there was no difference. Yet, in the bible, there is a difference. I can’t believe I’m writing this, but while I taught against man-made religions, I also was following a lot of personal rules manacled to my testimony of salvation. 

Paul continually talks about ignoring man-made rules and focusing on Christ. But I couldn’t see how I wasn’t focusing on Christ.  I was DOING so much.

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (NASB) Romans 2

However, as I began to see significant conflicts,  that I knew were not godly,  it made me stop and think.  Believe me, I talked to my leaders but with no added clarity.  It only made it worse.

As I began to focus on my relationship with Christ and not assume I was saved because I was with a particular religious group, I decided to get back to the Bible– plainly as it was written. God called me to re-connect with Him for myself, which is something I think God wants all of us to do.

One thing I discovered was that I was beginning to accept things were not biblical.  My church always taught that saved people don’t have to join a denomination to be saved.  They merely must connect with Christ. “God didn’t call people to join a church. He told them to repent of sin and be saved, be connected to the true vine, Jesus Christ.”  That’s so true. I loved that truth.  I still believe that, but I saw that our churches overall had changed in practice. I noticed that people began to say “well, they’re saved, but they’re not Church of God.” How can that be if salvation makes you a member?

In practice, one became required to agree to not only general rules but the rules of particular leaders and their wives to be right with God and avoid prosecution or persecution.

Those 11 Herbs and Spices

Some churches require that you believe in Jesus, but you ALSO must include their 11 herbs and spices and special sauce to be a Christian TRULY.

This is no different than the Pharisees and Jewish religious leaders who had adjusted the law of Moses and the Levitical ceremonial laws until it became their religion and not God’s.  Jesus had considerable problems with the religious leaders of his day because they began to serve themselves and change not only the laws of Moses but the emphasis of what was important in those laws. ( See Matthew 23).

In practice, one became required to agree not only to general rules but the rules of particular leaders and their wives to be right with God and avoid prosecution or persecution.  

I began to accept wrongdoing in our religious group as typical.  If you internally start to recognize something as commonplace, then you will begin to excuse it.   No Christian should accept wrongdoing privately. If I became too disturbed because nothing was done or said about it,  it was just too stressful.  So I would ignore it for sanity sake and move on to other things. The problem was, I found myself ignoring stuff –a lot. We may not always be able to do something about wrong but to accept it as just part of the Christian landscape kind of diminishes the whole purpose of coming out of darkness into light. Don’t you think?

3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them. (NIV), Ephesians 5

 

The Crazy Comey-esque Church Firing

Watching what happened with FBI Director James Comey reminded me of the time I was fired –at church.  Like so many, I’ve been watching with interest the current events of the last week regarding the firing of James Comey.  I’ve heard comments about the messy way the firing was done (not even a heads up or a handshake?), Comey’s prior mistakes, Comey’s support or lack of support in the FBI.  Of course, if you listen to the Huckabee-Spicer-Trump connection from the White House, you would think he’s the worst FBI director of all time, but that’s politics. Continue reading “The Crazy Comey-esque Church Firing”