And Now for Something Completely Different

Like many people of faith I’m disappointed and disturbed by Friday’s SCOTUS decision legalizing same-sex marriage. I think the faith community has real and legitimate concerns about future implications for religious freedom and the tax-exempt status of non-profits, among other things.

However, what if we used this NOT as an opportunity to further dig in our heels in a real or imagined “culture war,” and instead viewed our nation first and foremost as a “mission field.” Michael Horton made this case very well in his 1994 book, “Beyond Culture Wars: Is America a Mission Field or a Battle Field?” And it seems to me that’s basically what David Brooks is getting at in his NYT column today, “The Next Culture War.”

How do we live this out practically? Scripture I find instructive is John 3:17, where Jesus says “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” As believers in Christ we need to evaluate ourselves honestly and ask ‘Am I condemning others MORE than I’m pointing them to the one who died for their sins and rose from the dead?’

Let’s heed the encouragement of Joseph Aldrich in his wonderful book, “Gentle Persausion: Creative Ways to Introduce Your Friends to Christ,” where he wrote “Love them until they ask you why.” I think this is very much in keeping with 1Peter 3:15,16, which says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have, but do this with GENTLENESS and RESPECT, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in  Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

#Parkinsong Challenge

Leader-Telegram reporter, Eric Lindquist, brought tears to my eyes Father’s Day morning with his very personal, front page column discussing his dad’s battle with Parkinson’s disease. In the column, Lindquist bravely kicked off an effort to raise funds for Parkinson’s research through the #Parkinsong Challenge. When I interviewed him about it Monday morning on WOGO-AM680 and WOGO.com, I pledged to accept the challenge. Will you? Listen to my interview with him, and learn more about this great effort kicking off in Eau Claire–and don’t miss Eric singing a slice of Don Mc Lean’s “American Pie.”

Mormonism Contrasted with Christianity

On the May 7th “Front Page,” Pastor Mike Thompson of Faith Free Church in Stanley helped us wrap up five straight Thursday broadcasts on “Cults,” focusing today on Mormonism. While Mike provided the historical background and a doctrinal comparison for folks to consider, Carla Wehe(Way) offered her perspective as someone fresh out of Mormonism after mor

 

A Comparison Between Christian Doctrine and Mormon Doctrine

by Matt Slick

“Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it and see if it will stand the test,” (Brigham Young, May 18, 1873, Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 46).

What does Mormonism Teach?

1.God came from another planet

2.God is a man with a body of flesh and bones

3.There is a mother goddess

4.God and his goddess wife are married

5.You can become gods

Following is a Comparison between Christian Doctrine and Mormon Doctrine:

1)GOD

CHRISTIAN

There is only one God. (Isaiah 43:11;44:6, 8; 45:5)

“And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light: and there was light,” (Book of Abraham 4:3).

God has always been God. (Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 57:15)

MORMON

“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!!! . . . We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).

CHRISTIAN

God is a spirit without flesh and bones. (John 4:24; Luke 24:39)

“The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s,” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22; Compare with Alma 18:26-27; 22:9-10).

MORMON

“Therefore we know that both the Father and the Son are in form and stature perfect men; each of them possesses a tangible body . . . of flesh and bones,” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 38).

2)TRINITY

CHRISTIAN

The Trinity is the doctrine that there is only one God in all the universe, and that He exists in three eternal, simultaneous persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

MORMON

The trinity is three separate Gods: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. “That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man,”(Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 35).

3)JESUS

CHRISTIAN

Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. (Isaiah 7:14; Matt. 1:23)

MORMON

“The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood–was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers,” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 115).

“Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers” (Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce McConkie, p. 547).

CHRISTIAN

Jesus is the eternal Son. He is second person of the Trinity. He has two natures.He is God in flesh and man (John 1:1, 14;Col. 2;9) and the creator of all things (Col. 1:15-17).

MORMON

Jesus is the literal spirit-brother of Lucifer, a creation (Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15).

4) THE HOLY SPIRIT

CHRISTIAN

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is not a force. He is a person. (Acts 5:3-4; 13:2)

MORMON

Mormonism distinguishes between the Holy Spirit (God’s presence via an essence) and the Holy Ghost (the third god in the Mormon doctrine of the trinity).

5)SALVATION

CHRISTIAN

Salvation is the forgiveness of sin and deliverance of the sinner from damnation. It is a free gift received by God’s grace (Eph. 2:8; Rom. 6:23) and cannot be earned. (Rom. 11:6)

MORMON

Salvation has a double meaning in Mormonism: universal resurrection and . . .”The first effect [of the atonement] is to secure to all mankind alike, exemption from the penalty of the fall, thus providing a plan of General Salvation. The second effect is to open a way for Individual Salvation whereby mankind may secure remission of personal sins,” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 78-79).

CHRISTIAN

Salvation (forgiveness of sins) is not by works. (Eph. 2:8;Rom. 4:5; Gal. 2:21)

MORMON

“As these sins are the result of individual acts it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements–‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel,'” (Articles of Faith, p. 79).

6)BIBLE

CHRISTIAN

The inspired inerrant word of God (2 Tim. 3:16). It is authoritative in all subjects it addresses.

MORMON

“We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. . .” (8th Article of Faith of the Mormon Church)

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This is only a sample of many of the differences between Christianity and Mormonism. As you can see, they are quite different doctrines. God cannot be uncreated and created at the same time. There cannot be only one God and many gods at the same time. The Trinity cannot be one God in three persons and three gods in an office known as the Trinity, etc. These teachings are mutually exclusive.

This is important because faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. Is the Mormon god the real one? Or, is the God of historic and Biblical Christianity the real one?

Mormonism is obviously not the Biblical version of Christianity. It is not Christian, and Mormons serve a different god from do the Christians–a god that does not exist. Paul talks about this in Gal. 4:8, “when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.” Only the God of the Bible exists. There are no others. Mormonism puts its faith in a non-existent god.

Eight Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses

Eight Questions(and three scriptures) for Jehovah’s Witnesses

On the April 30th “Front Page” we continued our series on cults with Pastors Mike Thompson and Brian Cole of Faith Free Church(faithfreestanley.org) in Stanley, as we focused on Jehovah’s Witnesses. For a fuller discussion of these questions/verses adapted from Rose Publishing, check out our podcast of the April 30th FP.

1.Would you want a person translating a bible from Greek to English to be qualified in biblical languages? If so, how do you come to grips with the truth that the New World Translation was written by a team that was not qualified to translate the Greek text? Only one person on the translation team had ANY Greek training. And he had nothing more than the introduction class in college?

Food for thought: Could you translate a Spanish bible if you had only an introduction to Spanish class?

Question: Did you realize that in order to translate a bible from Greek to English it takes about 3 to 5 years of Greek training at minimum?

Question: Did you realize the watchtower translation team which had insufficient Greek training added words to your bible that do not exist in ANY Greek text?

Question: Did you realize that translating a bible from Greek to English is an exercise of linguistics and not an act of prophecy? God spoke in a language and he never changes the meaning of words or the rules of grammar. He spoke to us in known language and expects us to follow the normal rules of the language in which He gave us His word.

2. Are you okay with the Watchtower making up rules that are not in the bible?
1.Blood transfusions = consuming blood (really?)
2.Discourages too much education: Does it seem like they are trying to keep you unlearned so you won’t find out something?
3.Don’t salute the flag or serve in the military (our real biblical call is to worship God and not the countries’ leaders as they did in Rome)

3. If the Watchtower Governing Body claims to be the only mediator between God and men. They would be equal to a prophet, but have they passed the test of a prophet? (see 1 Kings 17) One book by the grandson of Franz portrays the watchtower as a group of men who are biblically illiterate. Further, did you know that bible claims there is ONE mediator between God and men? It is the Lord Jesus Christ. And each person approaches God through Him alone.

4. Are you okay with the fact that the Watchtower had to use a occultist to justify their changing the text in John chapter one? An occultist was the only person in the world they could find who did not see Jesus as God in John 1. This occultist is the only one who agreed that they should add (all other things) to John 1 giving the idea that Jesus was not the God of Genesis 1 who created “EVERYTHING.”

Johannes Greber, a Roman Catholic priest became interested in communication with spirit beings. These “spirits” often spoke through his wife, a spirit medium, and told him the Bible was full of errors.

Greber authored the book: “Communication With The Spirit World of God.” In this book, Greber claims the spirits helped him in his translation of the New Testament. Greber saw translations coming not by scholarship but by the words passing before his eyes. This is the way an occultists writes as he or she communicates with demons.

Greber claims that “Jesus was not God but one of the first of God’s sons.”

In 1956 the Watchtower admitted Greber was a spiritist. But in 1962 they began quoting Greber as a theological source. Why would they quote Greber (a known occultist) in their literature? Because they could find no one else that would render John 1:1-3 the way their own translation did.

Word for Word Greek to English Translation

by Mounce

John 1:1-3

1 Inen the beginningarchē waseimi theho Wordlogos, andkai theho Wordlogos waseimi withpros ·ho Godtheos, andkai theho Wordlogos waseimi Godtheos. 2 Hehoutos waseimi inen the beginningarchē withpros ·ho Godtheos. 3 Allpas things were createdginomai bydia himautos, andkai apartchōris from himautos notoude a single thingheis was createdginomai thathos has been createdginomai.

Dr Mounce is one of the top Greek scholars in the world. If he and every other Greek scholar translated the bible passages as the JWs do I would be a JW. But I trust the Greek scholarship of those who have actually studied the language. Again, why is the ONLY person is the world that agrees with the John 1 rendering (Jesus created “all other” thing) a known occultist?

5. Why do you deny the Trinity and the Deity of Jesus when they are both clearly taught in scripture?

(Jesus called Himself “I AM” which is the tetragrammaton of Yahweh)

(Act 5 says to those who withheld money, you have lied to the Holy Spirit, you have lied to God and not man. Luke is calling the Holy Spirit God. This is further proof for a trinitarian God)

(At the baptism of Jesus you see the Father, Spirit and Son appear in the same moment and in the same text)

6. The bible calls for the ministry of benevolence among God’s people. Yet the ministry of benevolence does not exist in the JWs. Why is this important biblical practice ignored?

Matthew 5:42 42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

Matthew 25:35-45 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; …

Luke 3:11 11 And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.”

7. Why would the JWs require 2 witnesses to child molestation. Are you okay with a denomination that make child molestation predictable? Romans 13 tells us that God uses governments to protect us. Why hide child molestation information from the government? There are NEVER 2 witness. Perverts molest children only when they are alone and when there are NO witnesses to the crime. This is what happens when you make up rules that are not in the bible. People get hurt!

8. Why do your leaders discourage you from hearing other perspectives or having friends of other faiths? If your doctrine was solid it could stand any test or examination including input from outside sources. It is because they do not want you to find out about their total lack of scholarship background and the truth that they used Greber an occultist to confirm their mistranslation of John 1. If you know too much you may find the truth.

3 Passages for Witnesses

John 20:28

Vs 28 In answer Thomas said to him: “My Lord and my God!” vs29 Jesus said to him: Because you have seen me have you believed? Happy are those who do not see and yet believe.

Isaiah 9:6

Vs 6 For there has been a child born to us, (Jesus) there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace (Name for the eternal God are given to Jesus, the “child born to us”). 7 To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom in order to establish it firmly and to sustain it by means of justice and by means of righteousness, from now on and to time indefinite. The very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.

Revelation Sequence

Revelation 1:8 I am the Alpha and the Omega, says Jehovah God, “the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.”

Question: Who is speaking here? Who is Alpha and Omega?

Revelation 21:5-7 And the One seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new.” Also he says: “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 6 And he said to me: “They have come to pass! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To anyone thirsting I will give from the spring of the water of life free. 7 Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

Question: Do we still see that Alpha and Omega is Jehovah God?

Revelation 22:13 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

Question: Do we still see that Alpha and Omega is Jehovah God?

Revelation 1:17 When I saw him, I fell as dead at his feet. And he laid his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last,

Question: Who is the “First and The Last?”

Hint: They will answer; “Jehovah God”

….Let’s continue reading…

Revelation 1:17-18 I am the First and the Last, 18 and the living one, and I became dead, but look! I am living forever and ever, and I have the keys of death and of the Grave.

Question: When did Jehovah God die? If this is not Jesus, who could it possibly be?

Question: Can you go back to your Kingdom Hall and ask your overseer when Jehovah God died? If this is not Jesus who is this? When you get an answer can you bring it back to me?

Characteristics of Christian Cults

On Thursday’s “Front Page,” Pastor Mike Thompson and Associate Pastor Brian Cole of Faith Free Church(faithfreestanley.org) in Stanley continued our series on “Cults, the Occult and False Teachers.” They began by dealing with the “Characteristics of Christian Cults”, and talked later about “Techniques Used to Control People in Cults or Abusive Churches.” The material they presented was adapted from Rose Publishing. The podcast provides a fuller discussion of lists below.

Christian Cult Characteristics

1.A leader who claims to hear from God like an Old Testament Prophet or an Apostle. Who can question a prophet? Who can check the prophet for errors unless the prophet is forced to compare his so called “word” with scripture.

2.This leader and the group rejects all other churches or minimizes that claiming that our church is more “pure” and “undefiled” than all others.

3.There is control over members activities and friendships. In some of the worst cases members are told to distance themselves from their families or those who disagree with the church / organization.

4.Special diets. Many churches make themselves stand out from others churches by claiming that they are holier because they abstain from certain foods. They are “serious” about their faith because they are willing to follow “the entire word.” This usually relates to following Jewish dietary laws that were a requirement of the temple system.

5. Special language is a common among churches that display cult like behavior. Their buzzwords are a summary of their special revelation that sets them apart as God’s only people. Words like; “full revelation,” “slave class,” or “truly chosen” are used to identify members. This special language functions like a secret handshake and tells you who is buying in and who is not.

6.Sleep deprivation is a technique used by many cults in induction phases. This cuts down peoples’ defenses so they will agree with just about anything. It is an interrogation technique used by some of the more dangerous cults.

7.No privacy. A false teacher does not want you to be apart from him and have time to think about what you are doing.

8.Overpowering demonstrations of love often directly follow abusive behavior. The craving some people have for love causes them to put up with the abusive indoctrination and systems corrections that immediately precede the outpourings of love. In addition love bombing is used to initiate or recruit people into a cult or false teaching.

9.Control over finances is typical of those who claim to be the only voice of God. They want you to “sew” into this exclusive ministry so that the only true teaching will grow. However, the money often goes directly into the pockets of the upper echelon of the organization.

10.Leadership of cults and false churches do not tolerate honest questions. They demean people often in public and force them to repent of questioning God’s prophet. Leaders must maintain the ruse that they alone hear from God. If this scam is broken their control over others may be broken. Thus all questioning must be met with extreme measures.

Techniques Used To Control People

In Cults or Abusive Churches

The following are psychological techniques used by many cults, codependent leaders, or control members (enforcers) to control others or protect themselves from exposure.

1.Spiritual abuse

Spiritual abuse is the act of using God’s name or unbiblical rules to “get bigger” than people so as to eliminate their questions or force their ongoing compliance.

2.Triangulation

When a leader is threatened or a parishioner wants to exert unbiblical influence, he or she will contact many people and solicit them to be against the person that is being singled out. This is a form of systems correction that keeps an unhealthy system in tact.

3. Refuse to acknowledge ANY good deeds, actions or beliefs until that person comes to agree with the system enforcer about the issue in question.

4. Withholding love and approval no matter how good or bad a person performs until the “non-aligned” person agrees with the system enforcer about the issue in question.

5. Sabotage various aspects of the “non-aligned” person such as relationships, work or ministry until they agree with the system enforcer about the issue in question.

6. Lie about the person (slander) until they agree with the system enforcer about the issue in question.

7. Fault find until they agree with the system enforcer about the issue in question.

These techniques have been used by abusive leaders and abusive non-leaders in order to control the behavior of other others within a religious system.

Fed Up

fedupThanks to Carol Banks in Menomonie for e-mailing me today about the new documentary, “Fed Up,” the movie the food industry doesn’t want you to see, but which she did see during a special screening Tuesday night at the Mabel Tainter theater. Check out the trailer and tell me you’re not interested in seeing the full  movie.

 

Woman Shares Story of Spiritual Abuse

On the Friday, Feb. 6th, “Front Page,” we continued to talk about spiritual abuse and dangerous religious groups. Rene Couture read the following lengthy testimony of the spiritual abuse faced by a woman attending a Wisconsin church:

In the scheme of life, there are things that matter and things that don’t really matter much. Knowing the difference between the two often requires wisdom. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Anyone who has experienced or is presently experiencing spiritual abuse needs to know that their story matters. It’s time to no longer be silent about something that has affected countless believers worldwide.

Spiritual abuse is not something I profess with flippancy. Nor is spiritual abuse something that happens to weak people who are looking for someone to control them. Spiritual abuse, typically, is something that happens slowly and subtly by a person in leadership in whom you have developed a deep level of trust.

Jeff Van Vonderen, co-author of “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” says it well:

“Spiritual abuse occurs when someone in a position of spiritual authority–the purpose of which is to ‘come underneath’ and serve, build, equip and make God’s people more free–misuses that authority by placing themselves over God’s people to control, coerce or manipulate them for seemingly godly purposes which are really their own. Nothing about spiritual abuse is simple. Those who have experienced it know it is powerful enough to cause them to question their relationship with God, indeed the very existence of God. And it is subtle too! The perpetrators of spiritual abuse are rarely ‘Snidely Whiplash’ sorts of characters who announce that they are going to drain your spiritual energy. They may be people who seem like they are seeking to guide you to the deepest levels of spiritual maturity.”

Such was the case for me…

It took all of my energy to walk through the doors of my new church. It was my last ditch effort to be a part of a church that I hoped would be different from the last one. Our three children were all still living at home. Being committed to a local church was part of the rich spiritual heritage my husband and I wanted to give our children.

At the time my husband and I owned a successful business; we were both strong leaders looking for a place to grow deeper in our relationship with God.

My new pastor and I connected from the very beginning. I found that I could be candid with him and he was very authentic and genuine in listening to what I had to say. He was aware that I had been hurt by a pastor in the past and he encouraged me to meet with him one-on-one to share my story and to receive counsel. He was a very busy man, willing to make time to meet with me. I was honored.

One meeting turned into many meetings. Little by little he was able to convince me that I could trust him and that he was safe and that I was loved. I was flattered that in a church of substantial size I had caught the attention of–what at the time I believed–was a very charismatic, influential and dynamic leader. His biggest bend always came down to trust, until the day he knew he had fully gained my trust.

In retrospect, the day I gave him my full trust was a game changer.

The man who had been so patient and so kind and so giving of his time suddenly revealed another side of himself to me and I found myself needing his permission and approval on every aspect of my life. Slowly, the space between me and my husband grew further and further apart as I became dependent on my pastor emotionally. I unwittingly allowed my pastor to control me, unaware at the time how slippery and dangerous the slope had become I was scaling.

As our friendship grew stronger, I was rewarded with opportunities within the church. He elevated me in different areas of leadership and, of course, I was honored to have a pastor who saw my worth.

With each new privilege also entered a new level of accountability and I soon learned that nothing short of exclusive allegiance to my leader was acceptable if I wanted to continue to have a voice in ministry.

My strong personality seemed to be a challenge to him as we fought back and forth on many occasions regarding issues that we disagreed about. I also learned that he was able to call me out on anything and everything, but I dare not ever call him out on any areas of his life. He had a ready answer for anything that was happening, and his word and his counsel were taken as the gospel not just by me, but also those who were a part of the inner circle of the church. There was a special vocabulary used among the members of the church that became a part of the culture of only that specific church.

Our family became close friends with our pastor and his family, however we were not able to let anyone know of our secret friendship. He told me that no one needed to know how close we were because they would be jealous. Many people sought after this man’s approval and friendship. I felt special and lucky. My closest friends were all in the “winner’s circle,” so to speak–all on staff and/or in positions of authority and leadership.

As weeks turned into months, I learned how to navigate around what at times could best be described as a volcano waiting to erupt. He could make me feel like the most valuable woman in the church or he could make me feel like the stuff that lies just beneath pond scum. All power rested in his court. I learned what made him happy and I learned through experience what made him angry.

In the midst of what felt, at times, like the best days of my life, if I am honest, I would have to admit that there were red-flag moments that I chose to put in the back of my mind. One such instance was during one of our meetings when my pastor told me that I had no true friends besides him and his wife and that from now on I needed to only talk to them about everything. He also convinced me of people in my immediate family who I should no longer allow to be part of my life. I soon lost touch with friends who I had known for years who were not a part of the church, as my pastor convinced me how these friends were not healthy for me. Two dear friends, not members of my church, had somewhat of an “intervention” with me one day to share their concerns for the path I was walking. I didn’t listen.

As a point of clarity, there is something that I would like to elaborate on for a moment. My story is not about me falling prey to a man or of a man’s power to control me. This is the story about a man of the cloth, a pastor, who proclaimed the words, “God told me,” and “God says” and then would go into detail as to what a person must do to be in the will of God. The idolatrous part of our relationship was the extreme spiritual use of God’s name, will and power and the expectations of my pastor for me to obey him, in the name of God. Serving or worshipping something or someone other than the One True God is idolatry.

In the midst of my idolatry of placing another man on God’s throne, something unexplainable happened. God, in His great mercy and grace, gave me a heart for prayer and an insatiable appetite for His Word. I spent many hours in prayer and studying the Bible. As I look back now, I still shake my head in wonder at how my Father could give such a gift to an undeserving child.

One day in a meeting with my pastor he shared that God had shown him–and one of the other pastor’s at the church–that they were being called to something greater. He said that he knew that there was one other person that God was calling to this new ministry with them and that God had shown them that it was me. The three of us were going to do something great. I was honored at the thought of doing ministry with this giant of a man. We gave the project a secret name and agreed to not let anyone know what was happening until the time was right.

My husband and I committed to spending an extended amount of time in prayer about our future and the future of our family. In doing so God showed both of us something that I did not want to see–that He was asking us to move to a different state to be a part of a different ministry. A ministry apart from my pastor. Had God’s voice lacked clarity I would have probably refused to obey, but He showed us very clearly that we were to move.

In retrospect, I believe the move was a rescue mission that would eventually cost us everything, as God plucked our family out of the hands of danger.

As is often the case, time and distance have a way of helping us see life through a different lens.

God began to heal my eyes and the blinders began to fall off. I saw the danger of my relationship with my pastor and I sent him an e-mail apologizing to him for my sin of allowing him to have a place in my life that only God should have. I also warned him that there were others, like myself, who were looking to him for answers and affirmation instead of looking to God. He never responded to my e-mail.

Several dear friends who also started to question some of the happenings at the church, after years of being prominent members of the church community, were cast aside. After one particularly disturbing incident, I called one of the overseers who I had known for many years. Instead of considering my words, the overseer ran to the pastor and almost overnight I was cut off from everyone. Those whom I had thought were my friends would not return e-mails, texts or phone calls. No explanation. Overnight I became a dead woman.

Although this is not the happy ending anyone would hope for, this is where only part of my story ends. As I write this story, several years after the experience, I am still dead to these people, but not to my Maker.

Here’s the good news: after several attempts to reach out for answers, many sleepless nights, bitter tears and a heart gripped in the throws of rejection, anger and deep anguish, God is fully back on His throne.

Only God is Truth! There are no substitutes! There is no man who can be to any of us what only God was intended to be. The Tree of Life of Good and Evil was a gift to Adam and Eve. It allowed them the freedom to choose whom they would serve. In my own sin of choosing to unwittingly look to a pastor for affirmation, love and answers, God did not leave me nor forsake me. When I fell to my knees in repentance it was my Father who held me and loved me and told me that I was His beloved daughter.

In the years since this experience, our family has gone through great trials. We have also experienced great joys. People have stood beside us whom God has brought into our world because of His goodness. These days, I am much more cautious in friendship and much more in love with my husband. God has brought great healing and restoration to our marriage.

Although I do not know how long a healing process should take, I am finding that each new day is filled with beauty and wonder if I’m willing to seek Him.

Most days I do.

Some days, though, you might find me sitting in the back of the church, arms crossed, struggling to understand the mystery of the church and what church is supposed to look like in an imperfect world.

The effects of spiritual abuse remain and, while I am aware I can not make myself better, I also understand that keeping one of the deepest forms of abuse a secret is creating a speedy exit from our churches by many believers who have been abused as well. Where do these abused believers turn for healing before they give up and join the ever-growing population of “done with church”?