Monday, January 30, 2006


I have rarely found anyone who doesn’t pray. The most unlikely folks that you think aren’t praying - guess what they are doing - they are praying. Like one individual said, when asked why he prays, "You’ve got to."

The problem with prayer is not the "want to." We want to pray! The problem is the "how to." Prayer can be frustrating, for the vast majority of people, the frustration is trying to figure out the right words to say. So, it’s not with the ‘want to,’ but it is about the words. Look at the prayers of Jesus, the best known prayer of Jesus is the Lord’s Prayer. It is a short prayer! Prayer is not about the number of words; prayer is an attitude of the heart. I heard someone say that every time you think about God you pray. Wow! What a powerful opportunity to turn thoughts into prayer, because God hears our hearts. It is not a matter of our words.

“Father” - every time I say that word, I am recognizing I am in the presence of God, I’m in the provision of God and I am in the protection of God. Prayer is the realization that you are in the presence of your Father; you’re in the provision of your Father; you are in the protection of your Father. Prayer is about relationship. Every relationship has risks (sound familiar?).

What about prayer challenges you?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Does the Church Care?

Is it unrealistic to desire the church gathering to be a place of spiritual edification?
Does it happen?

Throughout the New Testament churches are called to specific action. One of the most enlightening studies is to examine the biblical teachings concerning our responsibilities to "one another." Notice we are called to:

1. Be in agreement with one another.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. --Romans 12:10

2. Pursue that which builds up one another.
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. --Romans 14:13

3. Accept one another.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus... Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God... I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. --Romans 15:5, 7, 14

4. Show courtesy to one another.
So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. --I Corinthians 11:33

5. Carry one another's burdens.
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. --Galatians 6:26.

6. Tolerate one another.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. --Ephesians 4:2

7. Forgive one another.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. --Ephesians 4:32;

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. --Colossians 3:13

8. Submit to one another.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. --Ephesians 5:21

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. --I Peter 5:5

9. Admonish one another in wisdom.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. --Colossians 3:16

10. Comfort one another.
Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other... Therefore encourage each other with these words... Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing... Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. --I Thessalonians 4:9, 18; 5:11,15

11. Promote love and good works in one another.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. --Hebrews 10:24

12. Love one another.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. --I Peter 1:22
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. --I Peter 4:8-9;

This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. --I John 3:11

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. --I John 4:7

Any thoughts on this list? Which on this list do you see as the biggest problem in the/your local church? (or even on this blog)? NO NAMES please or the post will be removed (graciously of course!)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Crazy Church

Have you ever stood in a church, entrance, hallway or parking lot and listened to stories that sounded like you were listening to a soap opera or a prime time movie only to find out that the story was about a local Christian community?

Local churches all over the world are shattered so often that it is almost an expected result. Pastors are fired, members storm off, staff members take a group from one church to start another just down the road. Business meetings become filled with yelling, fighting and screaming, believers taking sides against fellow believers. Then there are power plays, deception, and alliances that would make reality TV look sane.

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, "How in the world did the church get here? Is this what church is supposed to be like?" No wonder that many people fall away from the institutional church.

Have you ever wondered why members of the church of the living God sometimes act like nonbelievers?

Have you ever thought that church might be fun and fulfilling, were it not for the people inside the building? (I heard one pastor say .. jokingly “I love ministry, it is people I hate.” Or was it?)
Have you ever been so completed outraged by actions in the church that you swore off church completely? Have you ever felt that going to church was a waste of your time? Have you ever wondered why God would even save some of these folk, much less use them in a local church?

Well, so have I. You read correctly. I have been frustrated by churches that I have served in. But truthfully, so are most pastors. When we gather with friends or in conventions and meetings, ministers often speak in hushed tones and whispers, relaying stories of horrific business meetings, contentious committees, and brutal fellowships and relationships.
Virtually every Christian, active in a local assembly, can share stories that defy the imagination. Church is not supposed to be this way!

Does any of this resonate with you? I may be a little naive... but I don't think that it should be that hard to get along with people... yet I've found that people offend very easily (I don't believe that I get offended that easily) Should getting along really be all that hard? Why do churches have to be nastier (or at least as nasty) as the world sometimes?

For the next few weeks I'd like to invite you along for the journey... and I would like to hear your stories. BUT here is the catch! Do not include names or places of churches in your stories. If a real name of a person or a church appears, I will pull the post…as I had to do in a previous response. Let us learn from each other…ok?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

So, what's a victim of spiritual abuse to do?

Thanks for all the input on this post for the last week. But here is some suggestions as to what are you to do if you find yourself in a situation that involves spiritual abuse.

Apart from serious emotional counseling, you will most likely face only two options:

First, Stay and Pray. This may be the most difficult option, but it still an option none the less. To remain in a climate of religious control is spiritually repressive, even toxic, to your spiritual health and the well-being of your family. But if you feel God (and not guilt!!!) requires you to stay, Stay and Pray.

As believer we know that situations can change in answer to prayer. But you need to know that in spiritually abusive groups you should expect change to come at a snail’s pace. Abusive leaders will vigorously resist any change that threatens their “anointed office,” especially if they, through training and upbringing, feel their position is scriptural.But if you decide to stay, do not stay to fight the leader or members.

Personally, I feel to stay in a contentious situation and to fight usually proves to be counterproductive, especially in an unhealthy environment of control, and does little good. If you have asked God to change the situation, allow Him to do so . . . without your help! Complaining and criticizing may give you a false sense of management over the crisis -- at least you are doing something, right? -- but it is a feeble and usually ineffectual way of striking back at your problem. Especially in abusively controlling relationships. It is best to leave the matter in God’s hands altogether or to leave the church altogether.

I also recommend, in these instances, that you seek wise counsel from an objective (and I stress the word “objective”), biblically knowledgeable and spiritually grounded pastor, friend or professional counselor. It is best to find someone outside your church. Openly and honestly share the problem from your perspective and listen and be prepared to listen to what they have to tell you.Secondly, Leave. This may be the most difficult option especially of you have strong ties to the church, but it still an option none the less. Leaving a church or organization is a difficult decision to make, especially when you have close friends and community.

But remember is it possible that your friends will resist your decision to leave their fellowship. Others may brand you as a troublemaker or accuse you of abandoning them. But, you need to know that the Bible supports, and even encourages, your decision to flee from spiritually abusive and oppressive situations (e.g., Rom.16.17-18; Col.2.4, 8; 2 Tim.2.14-16; 3 John 3 9-11).

Jesus made it very clear to His generation that they were not to trust nor submit to the oppressive control of the Pharisees. However, if you leave, Cleave to your faith in Jesus Christ. Avoid the temptation to become a casualty by dropping-out. Before leaving a spiritually malignant group, seek and follow the advice of a godly Christian leader who can advise you impartially. Simply running away from a problem is no solution, especially if you have no direction in which to flee. Locate a spiritual community that is based on servant-leadership and mutual respect and love for one another, whose priorities and leadership follow the model of Jesus Christ, and whose teachings are sound.

Just my thoughts…what are yours?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Spiritual Abuse Part dUh!

Thanks for all the emails and posts with regards to our family scenario! It is greatly appreciated by all!

Now….Happy New Year….and on that note I would like to add to Spiritual Abuse Part dUh!
If you check the archives I already did a post regarding “touch not the Lord’s Anointed” {‘Don’t Touch’-September 19} so I will leave that one alone. But for me, as I have had time to reflect this past few weeks and it is interesting to discover that abusive religious leaders share a host of traits common to domestic batterers.

According to studies offered by such organizations as the Project for Victims of Family Abuse and the Crisis Support Network, among others, domestic abusers are characterized by:Controlling and manipulative behavior in relationships;
Insistence on a "pecking order" with them at the top;

Demand for rigid rules fortifying their authority;

Using shame and guilt to buffer control;

Use privilege and entitlement to maintain status;

Require unrealistic expectations of you and others;

Push for hasty decisions and immediate responses;

Refuse to negotiate or compromise decisions;

Intolerant of differing views;

Hypersensitive to criticism;

Exhibit insatiable ego needs;

Demonstrate childlike narcissism;

Unreasonable possessiveness;

Isolate you from other people, groups and ideas;

Verbally and psychologically degrade subordinates;

Blame others for problems;

Deny personal responsibility for problems;

Use of coercion and intimidation to gain the advantage.

Draw your own conclusions. An abuser is an abuser, in your home or in your church.So what is a
person to do?