Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Prosperity Gospel? You Need To Speak Out!

With the prosperity gospel growing in popularity, I've been heartened by the number of sites and bloggers tackling this false gospel. 

This morning I read an article by Steven Morales on The Gospel Coalition's website:

I Visited a Prosperity Gospel Megachurch

The article is worth a read.  The author wanted to see what a prosperity church was about and so he visited one.  He makes some great points.  It is easy for people to twist God's Word and make it all about themselves.  The prosperity gospel is indeed about as shallow a religion as one could hope for.  There is no doubt about that. 

I had only one issue with the article.  Mr. Morales says, "People need Jesus, not your snarky criticism."  Yes, I agree with this  Snarkiness only hurts the conversation but I don't agree with not calling out these people online.   Let me tell you why.

If you've read any of my blog, you'll know, I was hurt terribly by family seduced by this false gospel.  They are still very involved and, sadly, now involved with Bethel in Redding.  Their hearts haven't changed.  They still very glibly will share with you what 'God told them'.  If the 'word' that they share isn't in some way to control your life, it is to rationalize something in their own.  You can't argue with God, right? 

As a result, I do share articles about Bethel, about Jesus Culture, about Kim Walker, about Jenn Johnson, about Kris Valloton and about other popular wolves involved in the health and wealth doctrine (i.e. Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, etc...).  As more and more people leave these teachings, they are sharing the cultic and occultic nature behind them.

Generally the post I share will get a few likes and maybe a comment about how awful all of it is.  Then, I get a private message or email from somebody.  The article made an impression.  They've been listening to Jesus Culture and they didn't realize all the weirdness that surrounds them.  They knew something was off though and just didn't know what it was. They want to know more.  So I share my story.  All the while I'm praying for them.  Sometimes these folks don't really respond after a few messages and I just continue to pray and then I hear from them again.  They were convicted and no longer follow those teachings.  Awesome! Sometimes, the response is immediate and they are done with those teachers.    Other times, I'll hear from somebody so far into these teachings and while the conversation may start out well, they soon let loose about what they think of me.  I never make the conversation personal about them.  It's about me and what God's done in my life and what is wrong with the teachings.  The angrier they get, the more I know they are very lost and all that you do is pray at that point.

There are those who believe that if you just share the Truth, people will recognize that they are involved in some hokey teachings but I've heard from enough people now to realize that isn't always true.  Sometimes that article you post about a false prophet or false teacher will really shake somebody out of their 'prosperity gospel' stupor.

The Bible contains quite a few warnings about false prophets and false teachers.  Shouldn't we warn our friends and loved ones as well?
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.   ~ 2 Peter 2:1-3

Keep sharing those articles and keep praying that the Holy Spirit would just reveal truth to them. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Word of Faith and Physical Abuse

I am realizing that as my children get older and older that a lot of my struggles with my 'word of faith' upbringing are becoming bigger and bigger.  What do I mean by bigger and bigger?  In the past, I worked to push a lot of this away.  I didn't want to deal with any of it.  When I was younger that was easy to do with my rebellious lifestyle.  In fact, I do believe my teenaged rebellion was my way of coping.  As my children get older, though, I remember all too vividly my youth and all I went through.

Going back, I have many memories of TBN-type shows on the television.  Those shows were so much a part of my mother's life that she would even call into them.  One night, I had a major nosebleed.  It bled heavily with major clots all night long.  Rather than take me in, my mother called the TBN telephone lines where they prayed for me.  Meanwhile, I bled and bled and bled for hours after that call.  Finally my mother talked to somebody (don't remember who but thinking it was my grandmother) who told her to put ice on the back of my neck, hold my head up and pinch my nose (or something similar).  After many hours of bleeding, it stopped.  Of course, TBN got the glory but it reminds me a bit of an old Jewish(?) proverb I've heard:  If you fall out of your boat, pray but meanwhile start swimming.

So, while TBN was on in the background of my youth, my mother was disciplining me.  At least this is what I thought was happening.  It was about fifth or sixth grade when I remember the Principal calling me into her office at school.  She wanted to let me know that what I shared would stay there but was I being abused?  I was shocked.  Abuse?  No, my mother had shared stories of abused children.  They were the ones with cigarette burns all over their bodies and broken limbs.  I wasn't abused.  I remember telling my mom that the Principal has asked if there was abuse.  My life changed.  No longer was she hitting me with any object within reach.  Well, occasionally she would but not as much.  But, I hadn't considered it abuse before.  She called them spankings.  She found others way to keep me miserable.  One of her favorites was to put hot sauce on the inside of my lip.  I am so sensitive to spicy foods, still am that this was torture.  The pain would go on and on.  She still would wait until the last minute to cancel any plans I had with friends.  That happened a lot and I'd always try to completely avoid her whenever I was looking forward to something.  She would give me thousands of sentences to do that would keep me in my room for days.

I attended a catholic school so the bruises down my legs and arms were always readily visible.  Her favorite objects to hit us with were a brush or wooden spoon.  Sometimes it was on the rear end but often it was not.    Had my Principal phrased the question differently, I could have answered yes.  Had she asked if my mother hit me, I would have said yes but, in my mind, I did not equate hitting with abuse.

While the choices I made to rebel were mine, I do wonder how different things might have been if I'd had a mother who was not an abuser and who was not a part of the 'word of faith' religion.  Were other families from our church abusing?  I don't know.  I really don't but I can tell you that teenage rebellion was rampant!  I was always hearing stories about so and so's daughter running away or another girl pregnant or some son with a drinking or drug problem.  For that reason, I do think this is a pretty major problem.  True, it happens in non-word of faith homes but, percentage wise, I think rebellion happens at a much greater than average  rate within this religion.

"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."  ~ Ephesians 6:4

As a result, I don't spank my children.  My son is now a teenager and a very good kid. He's starting to look at colleges and has a plan for his future.  He's involved in church and in the community.  My tween age daughter and I have such a good relationship.  I definitely did not have that as a girl and I love how she feels she can share her inner most thoughts with me.  I hope that continues.  They aren't perfect and I certainly am not but my husband and I are very involved in their lives.  I really believe that being in a true Bible believing church is critical.  I also believe that as parents we are to model the love God has for us, His children.  Yes, that does involve discipline but, in our family, that doesn't involve spanking or hitting.   I've learned that words matter i.e. I Love You but your actions truly speak volumes about the condition of one's heart.
"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."  ~ Matthew 16:20

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Ol' "God Told Me" Routine

I may have already mentioned this but, did you know, I've survived two raptures?  Since you are reading this, I assume you have as well.

See, as a child, I was told without a doubt that Jesus was returning in the 80s.  Digging back into all of that, I think some of that was Hal Lindsey, some was TBN, and in my household, a lot of it was my mother.  I honestly grew up believing I would never see adulthood.  You might not think that is a big deal but when you are a child, knowing you are not ever going to be an adult does change how you think.

Of course, by the time the late 80s rolled around and still no Appearance, I was in full-blown rebellion mode.  I'd seen too many prophesies fizzle and was just fed up with the attempt to control my life with the "God told me..." routine.

At one point, I asked what had happened.  Why didn't Jesus show?  Turns out my mother, et al... had misunderstood the prophesy.  Jesus was actually returning before 2000 without a doubt.  My mother has said repeatedly from my very first memories that God told her she would never die.  She was going to be raptured.  Her churches love that stuff.  They eat it up.  As a result, her prophesies grow and become more frequent.

I remember the year she was heavily speaking faith.  I was an adult by this time.  About January of that year, God told her my father was absolutely going to become a Christian.  No doubt that would take a Saul/Paul experience but she she had faith and, after all, God told her...  The year wore on, no conversion.  Every conversation with her though would bring mention of his impending conversion.  The next year, I just had to know what happened.  Keep in mind, by that point, I didn't take her "God told Me's" seriously but since that was such a part of that last year, just had to know what she'd say.  Silly her, she misunderstood God.  It was actually that I would become pregnant during that year.  Oh my goodness, she was correct.  I was pregnant.  Keep in mind, I had been pregnant for months before she made that revelation.

And, that is what happens with the "God told Me's"  Sometimes they would happen.  Most often they would happen after the fact.  She'd share her revelation AFTER it occurred.  "I knew that would happen, God told me..."  Apparently, she knew I'd be pregnant that year because a 'prophetess' told her but she didn't reveal that to me to later and, no, the 'prophetess' never even mentioned that it would be her daughter pregnant only that somebody would become pregnant.  That was revealed to me months after I had already revealed my pregnancy.  Generally, though, her predictions ended up not being true.  Honestly, I have a much better guessing record that her "God told me" record.

"And the Lord said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart."  Jeremiah 14:14

Oh, and not all her "God told Me's" were predictions.  They would also be a way to try and change me.  They were about control.  After all, if God has told somebody something, who are you to argue.  Any time she wanted the last word on the subject, it would end with a "God told me" and your argument, no matter what it was would become invalid.

One think I do know, her claims never make God look good.  When she gets the occasional prediction correct, it is for her glory and her glory alone.

Sad to say, my sister is following in her footsteps.  Interesting that my mother seems to relish when my sister gets it wrong.  For example, some years back, it was predicted to be a very cold winter where we were.  La Nina years usually meant snow for our area.  That's no secret.  Weathermen were talking about it on television and my mom and sister are big TV-weather watchers.  So, God tells my sister that it will snow at Christmas.  They are guaranteed to have a white Christmas and my sister prepares.  Didn't happen.  It did however snow a couple months later which is usually when they get a bit of snow anyway.  So my mother asked my sister (which my mother gleefully reported to me in a phone conversation), "What happened?  Why didn't it snow?"  My sister's no dummy after being under the tutelage of the master for so many years.  God had meant that it would snow during "the Christmas season."  Didn't realize the Christmas season extended to February/March but so be it.  Just hard for me to know that I'm losing my sister to this nonsense.

At some point I would like to tackle why I really believe the "God told Me's" are actually breaking the Third Commandment but I will leave that for another day.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain."  Exodus 20:7

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Word of Faith and the Rift of Torn Apart Families Due to Repressed Memories

The rift in my family that I largely attribute to the 'word of faith' religion has really caused me to examine so much of my childhood, my family and my faith.

When I was a child, I remember looking forward to holidays at the relatives.  Each year, we'd attend Christmas Eve at my grandmother's and another evening to celebrate at my grandfather's house (they were divorced).  One year, that changed.  We were told that grandpa had done something terrible to my mother and that was that.  As I got older, I pieced together that she had accused him of sexual abuse.  The rift in our family was massive.  People weren't talking to other people and relationships were hurt and strained.  

I've always been a believer that if somebody says they are being abused, believe them. 

So why don't I believe her now?

Over the years, I'd ask questions.  My mother didn't offer much and I only found out bits and pieces over time. I found out she believed it happened only once when she was about five or so.  She told me the memory had been 'hidden'.  Many years later she told me that she, in fact, had always remembered it.  When I asked her once as a young adult, why, knowing her father was a molester would she have left me alone with him on so many occasions as a young child.  She told me she never did.  I know she did because I have fond memories of he and I playing with his model trains in the basement (and, no, I was never abused by him).  Keep in mind, when asking all these questions over the years, I absolutely believed her without a doubt.  Years later I brought up again how she had left me alone with him and that I remembered being alone with him numerous times and then she said she allowed it because she *knew* he would never molest me.  

I think that is when I really started to question her memory.

Come to find out, these accusations came about after being in 'christian' therapy during the 80s.  I've since learned the 'repressed memory therapy' was all the rage then.   Do a search on 'false memory syndrome' and how many of these cases have been debunked. These 'memories' tore families apart.  I've seen that firsthand.  

So, I started wondering, what did these repressed memories have to do with our church?  While I can't remember for certain, I do remember there was a 'revival' happening at our church for an extended period (months and months if not longer).  We were there all the time.  I remember people being 'healed' of abuse.  Did this revelation come during that time?  Could be.  It was certainly close to that period.   I've also been told that this about the time my mother was in therapy.

And, when I think about it, it seems the women who played the biggest role in our church or my mother's subsequent church were all sexual abuse survivors.  Look at the 'Super Apostles' (as I like to think to them ref: 2 Corinthians 11), some of the biggest names (and the richest) were sexually abused women (i.e Paula White, Joyce Meyer).   Were they really abused or was it simply due to repressed memory therapy which has since been debunked?  I do not know.  As for my mother, I do believe everything was exacerbated by her church family where I know she has received so much attention due to her 'testimony'.

My grandfather died many years later and never spoke to our family again after the accusations.  Even on his death bed, my mother knew he would apologize.  I'm sure she spoke faith and pronounced that God told her he would. He never did. 

As for my mother's 'abuse'.  Difficult for me to say, but I am just so skeptical that it happened.  Other than my father, probably my sister and, of course, my mom's church family, I do not know of anybody who believed her story.  My mother's stories do change over the years to make herself sound more believable not just in this situation but in so many.  When confronted, she'll always accuse other people of lying even when they confront her with some 'truth' she has since changed.  I did grow up thinking of my mother as a 'Super Apostle'.  Imagine my surprise when as an adult, I found the term for her in my Bible.  It wasn't what I thought it meant.

2 Corinthians 11:4-6
For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Month I Had a Mom

If you've read any of my posts, you know my mom is heavily into the Word of Faith religion and has been for a number of decades.  Having a close relationship with her if you are not a member of that church is just near impossible.  Not only are people in this religion notorious for their blab it and grab it antics, they are pretty good at the Push 'em and Shove 'em away thing as well.

Several years ago, something changed.  My mother was roughly 60 years old and was diagnosed with severe Osteoporosis.  It laid her up for about a month or so.  She couldn't even get out of bed without help.  Why Osteoporosis at such a young age?  It is believed that she has an eating disorder. Her diet is in no way balanced and cutting out dairy (among so many other things) so long ago brought on Osteoporosis with a vengeance along with a really bad case of Shingles.  I felt sorry for her.  I knew her church wouldn't be supportive (i.e. they believe illness is the result of unconfessed sin, etc, etc, etc...).  Keep in mind, up until this time, we only talk on the phone a handful of times each year because those conversations usually left me stressed.  During this time, however,  I called her every day just to chat and discovered something...

I had a Mom!  I mean I really had a Mom buried somewhere in there.  During that month, there were no put downs.  There was no comparing me to my sister.  There was no gossip about other people.  She was real.  She was being nice.  I remember walking up to my husband stunned after several conversations and wondered who this woman was.  I wasn't complaining though.  I felt like I had what my other friends had which was a Mom.  She even questioned a bit with me, a person who does not share her religious views, why this was happening and I got to share a little about what the Bible says.  She's been reading her Bible for well on 40 years now and didn't even know about some of what I was sharing.  I shared very humbly and hoped for the seeds to take root.

One thing I've learned is that God uses our difficult circumstances be they illness, financial difficulties, or any hardship for His good when we are following Him.  I've heard one pastor say that when you speak faith and deny your circumstances, you are forgetting that the Lord chastens those who He loves.  In denying your circumstances you may actually be denying the work of the Holy Spirit and the work God is doing in your life.  That is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  That really resonated with me because I know in my most difficult moments, God has used hard times to not only get my attention but to grow me as well.

Alas, after a month, my mother was recovering and heading back to her church.  I knew it was over when she called to specifically tell me that I wasn't allowed to tell anybody about her Osteoporosis. She didn't even tell a couple of her children or her own family. Hard to claim you are never sick when people know, not only were you sick, but you were severely so.   Sadly, I realized that I had lost the Mom I had had for that month..  She has not returned.

Romans 8:28And we know that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I'm Back and Talking about the Myth of the Generational Curse

I cannot believe it has been three years since I last posted here. There is a reason for that. This is all too painful. I think my years growing up prosperity theology have just taken their toll and it has been easier not to deal with it.

So, what has changed? Why am I back?

 Early this year I cut ties with my family. Such a difficult decision. I've been praying and asking Pastors how do I balance honoring my mother with the fact that she is also a false prophet? That has been such a struggle for me.

I think my answer became clear when I realized that my mother was actually suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It was like a lightbulb turned on. The missing puzzle piece was found. My life, my childhood, our family, well, it all started to make sense. This word of faith thing? It wasn't the problem. Yes, it is a problem but it was and is a symptom of the much larger problem. My mother found a 'me-centered' theology that allowed her to share directly words for 'god' that backed up everything she believes should be true. She found the perfect way to control others, by being God's mouthpiece.

Funny, one of the things I've felt healed of was her pronouncement of generational sin on my own family. I remember being very pregnant with my second child. My first child was several years old and going through therapy for Sensory Integration Disorder. Wonderful child and, really, it is not that big of a deal. He's much older now and there are very few signs of it. Anyhow, I remember getting a call one night as I was very heavily pregnant and my husband was deployed. Let me stop and say right here, pregnancy and deployments? Stressful enough. Add to that a mother who calls you out of the blue to tell you that 'god' told her that we really needed to be praying for my unborn child. We needed to break the curse passed down from my husband's family's bloodline which she implied was the reason for my son's 'issues'. God had really put that on her heart. She proceeded to put down my husband's family a bit in a very 'caring' way or so I'm sure that is what she believes.

Taking a moment to take a deep breath.

This was just another way she was putting me in my place and pronouncing judgment on my family. This was all about control. What do I believe about generational curses? I believe what God has revealed to us through His Word.
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. ~ Exodus 20:5-6
I don't have to waste time worrying about my mother's supposed curse. I love the Lord. I have no doubt about that. I've been forgiven much and God loves me! I won't tell you there won't be rough times because there certainly are but His promise is that He'll carry me through them and He does!

Now I really want to post all of Ezekiel 18 here but, I'll post snippets and, if you are concerned about generational sin, I encourage you to spend time praying and reading that chapter. What an eye opener!
The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: “‘The parents eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die. ~ Ezekiel 18:1-4
Ironically, this said, I do feel as if I'm healing from the "generational" sin in my own family: The curses passed down by my own mother of which I am still in the process of healing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

And By His Stripes...

C'mon, we all KNOW this one. You have a bad case of the sniffles. Your poor little nose is chafed and you're just not looking your best. Now, say it with me, "By His stripes, I AM HEALED."

Because we ALL know that's why Jesus died on the cross. He knew that one day we'd have that chafed little nose and He wanted to give us the power to speak health over our lives. No more wasting our money on boxes of aloe-laden kleenex and Nyquil.


Thank God for this verse. This is the verse that brought me completely away from the word of faith religion.

Wait a minute, did I dare to call this a religion? We all know this is NOT a religion, it IS a relationship.

Okay, I'm getting sidetracked but, yes, looking back, word faith types are the most religious people I have ever encountered. I see so many parallels between them and the Pharisees. Their religion is about showing their devoutness and showing off their blessings.

I was in my young 30s and while I had gotten away from these churches, I still occasionally visited my family's church and I still had a number of these teachings locked inside me. I remember just driving one day and just feeling like I needed to pray for truth. I didn't know why but I prayed.

I'd love to tell you that was the day I saw the light but, no, that was not it.

I felt so urged to pray for truth that for probably two years, I prayed this a lot. Often, it would leave me in tears. I didn't know why. I just felt so strongly led to pray for truth.

Then, one night, a couple years later, I was online late one night and stumbled across an article on the misuse of Isaiah 53. To say that it felt like a bolt of lightning was an understatement.

See, I always felt uneasy about the way preachers talked about Isaiah 53. Something just didn't sit right but I didn't know what and, to tell the truth, it was just a vague uneasiness so I never really thought too much about it.

And, yet, this article really summed up what I had always known in my heart but had never really realized, that verse has nothing to do with healing me from a cold. It doesn't even have anything to do with healing somebody from cancer.

To say the stripes on our Lord's back have anything to do with healing me from disease is not only wrong, I now believe it is blasphemous.

Strong words, I know.

Those verses have everything to do with healing but that healing is eternal. As Christians, we are guaranteed healing. However, that healing may be on this side of the grave or the other. Miss that and you are missing out on one of the greatest truths of the Bible. This is so much bigger than healing sickness. I have no doubt whatsoever of that.

If you hear me even discuss those verses, I guarantee it'll be in the proper context. Keep in mind, that verse says we WERE healed. Not that we WILL BE healed. As Christians we WERE healed from sin and this life. That healing was a one-time deal. We don't need to keep claiming it. If we confess with our mouth and believe in our heart Jesus is God, we are guaranteed an eternity with our Saviour.

And, please, don't get me wrong. I fully believe God heals. Whether God chooses to heal us or not, we have a promise in Romans 8:28. Speak faith against your circumstances and you are likely denying God that chance to work in your life.

Finding that article on the misuse of these verses was the first step toward healing from a religion of abuse. My healing also involved a crisis of faith but God is faithful and through that crisis, I grew in ways I could could never have imagined. Romans 8:28 my friend!

1 Peter 2:24-25
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.