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.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Word/Faith and the Lack of Fruit.

My little girl had to have surgery.

Before I go on, I must say, while my blog title points to growing up in the word/faith religion, Much of my writing deals with the aftermath and the recovery.

My husband had been overseas for more than a year. As a military wife, you really do learn how to fend for yourself. Still, support is always a blessing.

My four-year-old daughter was having surgery for an umbilical hernia. This was one of the times I just knew I couldn't do it alone. I lived near by family and nobody offered to help.

I prayed and prayed and finally, the week of the surgery, I asked family members if they wouldn't mind just sitting with me while I waited. My father is always the first one I ask. He is not into prosperity teachings. I'd say years of my mother's religion has turned him into an agnostic who wants nothing to do with religion. Interestingly enough, he was the only family member I can say who went out of his way to help while my husband was deployed. To this day, he's the only one I ask for help. Anyhow, he actually said no but said he'd stop by later in the afternoon.

And, so I thought, "Okay, I'll ask my mother." She has never been known for reliability. I remember one time during the deployment she asked me why I wasn't asking her for help. I did not want to hurt her feelings by saying, "Well, because you always say no." I just said something about our schedules being different. She insisted that I have a morning to myself and that she insisted on watching the children. Yes, this surprised by but I happily said yes. I made an appointment to have my hair cut and made plans. The day before she was to babysit, she called up and said, "No, I don't think I'm going to babysit for you tomorrow." No excuses other than she just didn't want to do it after all. So, she just wasn't going to do it. She stays in her room until the middle of the afternoon every day and this is what she did that day.

You ask why she stays in her room until the middle of every day? Well, technically, whenever there is a church function, she'll get up at a normal hour. When my father retired, God suddenly 'spoke' to my mother and told her to stay in bed until the middle of each afternoon praying. She stays up until the middle of the night every night after my father is asleep and then spends pretty much all of the day tucked in her room. They have different rooms. We used to see her pop out of her room when Joyce Meyer or Joel Osteen were on television but, now that they have a dvr, she doesn't even come out for those shows.

Fast-forward back to the week of surgery and I ask if she'll sit with me so I would not be alone. She just said no. She told me if the Lord wanted her to be there, He would have told her. Okay, I really am used to that type of response and, really, I expected it. I won't say it didn't hurt though.

So, I thought I'd ask my sister. Now, my sister is also strongly in word-faith teachings. I just thought somewhere in those teachings, there has to be some urge to want to help when needed. But, no, my sister said she would have her five-year-old daughter and being in a hospital would be too traumatic. I would have been there in a heartbeat for my sister or anybody else so, by this time, I was feeling just heartbroken.

In church that weekend, I was just fighting tears. I kept praying that the God would change their hearts because I just didn't feel I could do this alone. I had already seen my son go through surgery when he was six and nothing quite prepares you for what you go through.

After service, one of the women from church walked up and said that God had really laid it on her heart to sit with me through the surgery. I had never even mentioned that I would be alone at the hospital.

Of course, when she asked, I thought of her five-year-old daughter and my own sister's response. She told me it would be a blessing if they could both be there for us.

And, they were there for us. Even as my daughter had a really bad reaction to the anesthesia, they sat with me through it all.

and they prayed with me.

While this is only one instance, I was reminded today of the fruit of the word/faith movement. Oh yes, I won't tell you people under these teachings won't ever help. I'll just tell you, I've learned to expect help on their terms and when it is convenient for them. No sacrifice for sacrifices are terribly messy things.

I saw true Christianity at work the day of the surgery. I saw the fruit of the Spirit. I saw God answer my prayer.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Monday, May 31, 2010

"Well, she must not be a real Christian then"

"Well, she must not be a real Christian then"

Roughly, ten years ago, I started the healing process from word of faith teachings. I can tell you, healing did not come overnight. Honestly, healing took years.

During this time, not only had I prayed, no, actually begged that God reveal His truth and only His truth, but I prayed that He would clearly reveal the word of faith teachings with which I'd grown up for what they truly were.

And, during this time, a young woman in our church (a non word of faith church) was brutally raped and left for dead.

This young woman had given her life to the Lord only months before this horrific event. Within a couple weeks of being raped, she was back in church sharing her story of how God saved her life.

The bruises were still clearly visible around her neck where the rapist had tried to strangle her. And, yet, she was praising God for her life and using this unspeakable horror to reach out to others.

I shared her story with my sister, a sister who is as word of faith as it gets. And, after sharing this young lady's story and how she was placing her trust in God all the while, my sister said,

"Well, she must not be a real Christian then."

See, with the theology with which we grew up, bad things don't happen to Christians. Essentially, if you stay within the word of faith guidelines, you are bullet proof.

I know, I know, many people, after reading this are thinking of the apostles or, perhaps, the last verses of Hebrews 11:

Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

I can only tell you that at that moment, I gave praise for a young woman who went through something no woman should ever have to endure and who was able to use it for God's glory. At that moment, I realized the difference between the 'theology of me' and true Christianity.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Growing Up With the Bakkers

Often, when asked about my childhood, I tell people I grew up with the Bakkers.

You know, Jim and TammyFaye?

And, often, people look at me with that Oh My expression and a nod because then they understand mine was a different childhood.

See, I grew up with a mother enveloped in the word of faith movement. Only I didn't know there was a name for our religion then. I just always thought of our faith as true Christianity and, as taught, didn't really believe that anybody in any other church truly knew the Lord.

I grew up with a Super Apostle and, as a result, my story is one of a falling away from the church, rebellion and, ultimately, redemption.

My blog posts over the coming days may seem random. Yes, they may jump from topic to topic. Nevertheless, these posts will be from the heart.

The one thought with which I'd like to leave you is pray for truth.