fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Sweet Hour of Prayer: to bless or to curse?

Sweet Hour of Prayer: to bless or to curse? by Julie McAllen

blue blessing and curse

 

Jeremiah’s Prayer

You who know, O Lord,
Remember me, take notice of me,
And take vengeance for me on my persecutors.
Do not, in view of Your patience, take me away;
Know that for Your sake I endure reproach.
Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.
I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers,
Nor did I exult.
Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone,
For You filled me with indignation.
Why has my pain been perpetual
And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?
Will You indeed be to me like a deceptive stream
With water that is unreliable? (Jeremiah 15:15-18)

I love the prophet Jeremiah, the poor guy.

“Take vengeance for me on my persecutors” says the weeping prophet. Have you ever cursed someone in prayer? Doesn’t it seem wrong since we are taught to forgive and pursue peace? But even Jesus didn’t hesitate to denounce some people. He didn’t labor in prayer to bless them or spend all His time counseling those readily recognized as sons of their father the devil. Jesus knew exactly when to curse a sinner and when to bless another. Of course, none of us want to be guilty of denouncing people for whom God wants us to pray or show compassion, but at the same time if we’re called to speak the hard truth we can’t afford to quench the fire of the Spirit.  The discernment we need is to do only what we see our father doing. The perfect son of God had this insight, but Jeremiah, like us, had to learn it through his trials.

When Jeremiah was called at a young age, he basically doubted it. Ya know, “God, I’m not your man.” But God assured him that He would be with Jeremiah and give him words to say in his mission territory which was the people of Judah. Tall task.

Why does God have prophets? Because even as He observes our sins, He loves us and seeks to bring us to Him. Jeremiah was called as a prophet and therefore filled with God’s thoughts toward Judah. The first call to order was to confront their sin. Yes, confront their sin, not pray. Jeremiah is told what to say to them and naturally is not well received. Think about that. God calls this young man to represent Him and continually must reassure him to “have no fear for I am with you” but basically throws him to the lions. He has no friends, no family and no respect from the religious community to whom he is sent. God didn’t just comfort Jeremiah in the absence of finding a wife, He expressly told Jeremiah not to look for one! God WANTED Jeremiah lonely. It kinda makes God look like a big meanie if you ask me. But what would’ve happened to Jeremiah if he had the support of family and community? Perhaps the fiery gift of justice in this prophet would have been quenched by the balance of a close relationship. Imagine Jeremiah about to go out the door to pronounce judgments against Judah and a sweet wife pleading with him to “calm down and be nice.” She might even use the standard blessing verse so many love to quote and tell Jeremiah that God has “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope ” (Jeremiah 29:11).  It’s rather amusing how often people single out this one verse from the book of Jeremiah to bless a friend when Jeremiah himself did not even have a pleasant life as a favored man of God. The plans God had for Jeremiah brought forth a prayer to curse the people to whom he was sent. Do you ever look at a guy like that and think to yourself, “Dear God, please don’t ever put me in that position. Can I please just have a normal life and I promise I will praise you all my days.” I know I have.

So here is Jeremiah, filled with God’s Holy Spirit and compassion toward Judah. And what happens? The reality check of it hits the prophet first with tears. He weeps and mourns for Judah. Their sin becomes his own sin. Have you ever noticed that among the prophets? They always plead something like Jeremiah’s words at Jeremiah 14:7, “our iniquities testify against us, O Lord, act for Your name’s sake!” The prophet is caught up in God’s concern for Judah at this point. He feels the love of God and His desire for them to return to Him. He is interceding in their behalf with an earnest prayer of repentance as he carries their sin as his own. Wouldn’t God delight in this? You’d think so wouldn’t you? But notice God’s reaction to Jeremiah who was led by God’s Spirit to pray in the first place.

“Do not pray for the welfare of this people” (Jeremiah 14:11)

Huh? I was just as perplexed as Jeremiah who argued with God and defended their waywardness based on the false prophets which misled them. I thought how this relates to my own prayers for those who are misled by false prophets. In prayer I cry the tears of Jesus remembering my own blindness as I ask for his mercy. I cry out that it’s not really their fault, they are in darkness and therefore I intercede. Jeremiah is basically arguing this same point with God. And God remains firm telling Jeremiah to give up these prayers and pronounce judgment not just on the leaders but all the people. I feel Jeremiah at this point. I wonder if Jeremiah saw God as heartless as I did when He said,

“Even though Moses and Samuel were to stand before Me, My heart would not be with this people; send them away from My presence and let them go! And it shall be that when they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then you are to tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord:
“Those destined for death, to death;
And those destined for the sword, to the sword;
And those destined for famine, to famine;
And those destined for captivity, to captivity.”’
I will appoint over them four kinds of doom,” declares the Lord: “the sword to slay, the dogs to drag off, and the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. (Jeremiah 15:1-3)

Ouch! God is pitiless toward Judah yet He has called a weeping man to confront them! God’s already appointing them to doom. Does He even desire repentance? It’s almost as if Jeremiah has more love toward Judah than God at this point. What a quandary for the prophet. It could have caused him to see himself as being wiser and more compassionate than God. I’ve no doubt this is what brought him to despair wondering about this God who called him. His own faith was being tested in this awful commission as evidenced in his remorse and regret at ever having been born!

Woe to me, my mother, that you have borne me
As a man of strife and a man of contention to all the land!
I have not lent, nor have men lent money to me,
Yet everyone curses me. (Jeremiah 15:10)

Jeremiah got a taste of what it is to be called by God. He knows what it feels like to be His spokesman and intercessor. And he just wants to die. It’s no fun, it’s causing him such personal pain that he is even willing to give up his relationship with the one who called him. But from the depths of his soul, he remembers how God’s word filled him and gave him joy. He’s not ready to give up on that, but he questions the hand that commissioned him to this indignation and now asks “will you indeed be to me like a deceptive stream with water that is unreliable?” (Jeremiah 15:18)

Whoa.

Can’t you just hear Jeremiah’s bi-polar prayer, “God, I love you so much, I am willing. Send me….. But God… I’m beginning to doubt the words I received. Yes, I ate them with joy, but maybe they are unreliable? How can I possibly be your spokesman when I see only this rotten fruit from my efforts and now you’re even telling me to stop praying for them? I give up.

The prophet was going through the refining fire. The compassion inside this man was now turning to hatred. Jeremiah’s heart became entangled with too much compassion toward a people needing discipline. Where was Jeremiah’s focus? On God or on these people? And this is where God had to step in and remind Jeremiah of his commission as a spokesman.

Therefore, thus says the Lord,
“If you return, then I will restore you—
Before Me you will stand;
And if you extract the precious from the worthless,
You will become My spokesman.
They for their part may turn to you,
But as for you, you must not turn to them.
“Then I will make you to this people
A fortified wall of bronze;
And though they fight against you,
They will not prevail over you;
For I am with you to save you
And deliver you,” declares the Lord.
“So I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked,
And I will redeem you from the grasp of the violent.” (Jeremiah 15:19-21)

God needed a spokesman not a man on his knees crying for himself or a wayward people. So Jeremiah was strengthened for the task and further set apart as a fortified wall of bronze by focusing his attention on the will of God instead of the reaction of those to whom he was sent. And so, after his pity party, Jeremiah again goes out boldly with the word of the Lord. And something new happens.

Do you remember how Jeremiah repented on behalf of his people when he was first sent but God told him to stop praying for them? Jeremiah questioned it but now he is being aligned with God because after his repeated attempts to get Judah to repent, he’s sick of them too. They’ve made their hate of God known as they seek to kill His prophet. And like any human being under such stress, Jeremiah has hit his breaking point and begins his appeal to God, not to save them this time, but to bring His wrath upon them!

“May an outcry be heard from their houses,
When You suddenly bring raiders upon them;
For they have dug a pit to capture me
And hidden snares for my feet.
Yet You, O Lord, know
All their deadly designs against me;
Do not forgive their iniquity
Or blot out their sin from Your sight.
But may they be overthrown before You;
Deal with them in the time of Your anger!” (Jer 18:22-23)

Uh-oh, is Jeremiah sinning by calling down these curses? The Lord does not rebuke Jeremiah in this prayer. Instead, He encourages him to buy an earthenware vessel and smash it before their eyes as a physical illustration for them to see what God is about to do to them. God confirms Jeremiah’s alignment with His will. Jeremiah is now seeing what his father in heaven is doing.

The lesson for us is contained within the model prayer, “let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  We’re here to announce God’s will and not our own. It’s a pleasure to pray blessings over those whom God has asked us to bless, but from the first calling of Jeremiah, God had in mind a curse toward Judah. His will to curse was set in heaven, but He was looking for someone on earth to proclaim it with authority. God was fed up with Judah and took the time to align soft-hearted Jeremiah with His will. Perhaps evil runs rampant because we all too often resist the Holy Spirit in this area. It’s uncomfortable to confront someone with their sin, but by assigning Jeremiah a stiff-necked people to reach, the faithful prophet came to know the joy, the love, the compassion and also the pain of His God. God held back nothing and Jeremiah came to know his God more intimately because of it.

Sweet hour of prayer: to bless or to curse?

Keep yourselves in Gods’ love, Julie

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May 16, 2014 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , | Comments Off on Sweet Hour of Prayer: to bless or to curse?

Still Crazy After All These Years

 Still Crazy After All These Years by Julie McAllen

Concerning Jesus…

“You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”   (John 7:20)

The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” …At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death.  (John 8:48, 52)

Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”  (John 10:20)

Concerning the Apostle Paul…

At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.” (Acts 26:24)

 Still Crazy After All These Years…

 “In the past, people tended to avoid those who suffered from mood disorders. As a result, many who were afflicted became social outcasts. Some encountered job discrimination. Others were shunned by members of their own family. Often, this only aggravated the problem and prevented those who were ailing from getting help.

In recent decades, however, great strides have been made in understanding clinical depression and bipolar disorder. Now it is well-known that these conditions are treatable. But getting help is not always easy….

The important thing is to reach out and get help. “Many times sufferers are frightened and ashamed of their condition,” … “The real shame, though, is suspecting you have a problem and not seeking the help that you so desperately need.”

I agree with these statements. The article from which they were taken also offered advice that I further support. It encouraged seeking comfort from God’s word the Bible and fellowship with other believers.

“Discerning Christians, therefore, avoid implying that depressed people are responsible for their own suffering. Such remarks would be no more helpful than those offered by Job’s false comforters (Job 8:1-6), and adds, “There is no doubt that by providing meaningful support, family members and friends can play a significant role in a sufferer’s well-being.”

Who wouldn’t agree? This is all very sound advice taken from the January 8, 2004 Awake! magazine published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. I think they tactfully dealt with the topic of mood disorders and I was very encouraged to read it because I have Seasonal depression. It usually begins in mid October with pain in my eyes and a loss of energy. Page 10 of the article noted that one member of the congregation of Jehovah’sWitnesses said, “the depression increases because I feel that my disorder must be a reflection of a lack of spirituality.” And added, “I have learned that depression is an illness that needs to be dealt with. It is not a reflection of my love for God or for my fellow Christians. It is not a true reflection of my spirituality.”

I also learned this lesson. I had become discouraged over the years as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and when the pressure got to me, I walked out in the fall of 2003 not knowing if I’d return. So this particular article was healing to me as I felt the Watchtower Society was addressing something going on in my own congregation. My discouragement had begun a few years earlier when I was reprimanded by an elder for following the Bible’s advice to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” Having grown up with a family member with bi-polar disorder and knowing my own seasonal depression, I was perhaps more sensitive to those in my congregation who were discouraged or depressed. The elder told me to “look out for number one” and reminded me that time spent trying to encourage the sister whom he referred to as “weak” was time I could be spending out in the door-to-door ministry. He had also given a talk on “marking” weak ones in the congregation and taking special precautions in our limited dealings with them. When I concurred that we have to protect our own spiritual standing but asked, “what if that person is so distraught they’re near suicide, you can’t leave a person alone in that condition can you?” His answer was a cold-hearted, “what are you going to do, commit suicide with them?”

I eventually followed orders and fell in line as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses “in good standing” by closing my heart and just performing my duties. Years passed and finally in 2003, I just stopped going to meetings. When I got the article on mood disorders at the start of 2004, I read the advice on pages 12-13 on how the congregation can offer support and was confirmed that I had followed the right course in reaching out to my sister after all….

“The Bible admonishes all Christians to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls” and to “be long-suffering toward all” (1 Thess 5:14) How can you do this? First, it is important to understand the distinction between mental and spiritual illness. For example, the Bible writer James indicated that prayer can make the spiritually indisposed one well. (James 5:14, 15) Nevertheless, Jesus acknowledged that those who are physically ailing need a physician. (Matt 9:12) Of course, it is always right and helpful to pray to Jehovah about any concern, including our health. (Ps 55:22; Phil 4:6-7) But the Bible does not state that increased spiritual activity in itself will cure present medical problems.

Discerning Christians, therefore, avoid implying that depressed people are responsible for their own suffering. Such remarks would be no more helpful than those offered by Job’s false comforters. (Job 8:1-6) The fact is that in many cases depression will not improve unless it is treated medically. This is especially so when a person is severely depressed, perhaps even suicidal. In such cases, professional attention is essential.”

I was being told NOT to speak to this discouraged sister because the elder said she was “spiritually weak.” Yet the article in the magazine that he, along with 6 million others at that time, were distributing door-to-door gave the advice TO SPEAK and TO PRAY, NOT AVOID! It also brought out that expecting increased activity from the individual would not be helpful, yet as any one of Jehovah’s Witnesses know too well their status of “weak” or “in good standing” is based upon the activities of meeting attendance and field service. She was doing less of both and thus labeled as “bad association.”

This incident made me feel insecure because I feared being labeled as “weak” and “bad association” myself if I was in need. How refreshing to read from the pages of the Awake! magazine this advice to the congregation,

“To be of assistance to sufferers, strive to be empathetic. (1 Cor 10:24; Phil 2:4) Try to view matters through the eyes of the sufferer rather than through your own. Do not burden the individual with unreasonable expectations. “When I am accepted for the person I am now,” says Carl, who struggles with depression, “I feel that my sense of belonging is gradually being restored. With the patient help of a few older friends, I have been able to build a closer relationship with God and have found a great measure of joy in helping others to do the same.”

I knew I had been an encouragement to that sister and perhaps the elders attitude toward it was merely a local problem and I could use the article to point out the physical as well as spiritual dimensions of my own depression and hers also.

Knock, Knock!

The elders had made a surprise visit to my home in mid October of 2004 demanding more activity from me with no offer to pray for me. I told them I was building my own relationship with God and found it difficult to go out in service telling others about how wonderful “Jehovah’s organization” was when I myself had begun to doubt that. Two weeks later I received a phone call letting me know of their intentions to disfellowship me which plunged me into a deep depression. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, however, reasoning that perhaps my seasonal depression was affecting my ability to receive corrective counsel so I quoted from the January 8, 2004 Awake! article to plea mercy and asked if we could put the hearings off until spring when I would be more stable in my thinking. They refused. What was my crime and why the hurry? I had begun to talk too much about Jesus.

Instead of speaking consolingly, they put me through an insulting inquisition. Instead of praying for me, they condemned me. On December. 2, 2004 they announced to my “brothers and sisters” that I was an apostate to the faith because I answered “yes” to their question of whether a person could have a relationship with God outside of the Watchtower. And thus I ended that year as a shunned person, one that the Watchtower recently declared as “mentally diseased.”

No one but me had followed the advice of the Awake! magazine yet I was the one called an apostate to the faith?

Where were the “loving and empathetic” elders of whom the sister in the Awake! article said this, “When the elders reassure me of Jehovah’s love, read me passages from God’s Word, the Bible, and speak of Jehovah’s purpose for a paradise of peace and well-being and when they pray with me—even on the telephone—I feel the burden lifting. I know I am not abandoned by Jehovah or by my brothers, and that is a source of strength for me.”

Actions speak louder than words and I discovered in more cases than just this one that the printed material from the Awake! and Watchtower differ from the actions of its leadership. One thing I would like to make aware to the public is that the Watchtower magazine that Jehovah’s Witnesses bring to your door is not the same information they study each week at their meetings. An article published in the July 15, 2011 study edition of The Watchtower warns followers to stay clear of “false teachers” who are condemned as being “mentally diseased” apostates who should be avoided at all costs. It reads, “Suppose that a doctor told you to avoid contact with someone who is infected with a contagious, deadly disease…. you would strictly heed his warning. Well, apostates are ‘mentally diseased’, and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings.”

They do not clarify what these false teachings are however. I learned the hard way that any teaching that does not agree with theirs is considered as false. But I’m in good company because according to them, Jesus Christ also would be considered an apostate to their faith.

To have a mental illness in itself should never be regarded with shame, their own literature pointed that out. In this case, however, the term “mentally diseased” is a supreme insult and many former members are rightly speaking out about it. Active members who are still able to think for themselves are not going to put up with this much longer either.

The July 15, 2011 article intended to inculcate their flock worldwide basically said that those of us who left to follow Jesus Christ are “mentally diseased.” In addition to that, they are told regularly at their meetings that those who have never joined their religion are “worldly” and will be destroyed at Armageddon. They believe that they alone have a channel of communication to God and this information about you and about me is not just from the leadership at Brooklyn, New York, but from Jehovah God himself. Basically, what they are being told is God is displeased with you and me and the only way to be in his favor is if we join the Watchtower so that we too can condemn everyone outside of it. And they call this Christianity????? To stand against this CONTROLLING RELIGION is not insane, it’s HEALTHY.

From the mouth of God straight into the Watchtower magazine for brainwashing amongst the flock: Taken from ‘Will you heed Jehovah’s warnings?’

“Jehovah, the Great Physician, tells us to avoid contact with them. We know what he means, but are we determined to heed his warning in all respects? What is involved in avoiding false teachers? We do not receive them into our homes or greet them. We also refuse to read their literature, watch television programs that feature them, examine their websites, or add our comments to their blogs. Why do we take such a firm stand?
“Because of love. We love ‘the God of truth’, so we are not interested in twisted teachings that contradict his Word of truth.”

Yes, because of love, entire families shun their own who are not able to keep up with the Watchtower’s requirements. I have friends who have been completely cut off from their families and suffer greatly because of it, yes, some of them do fit the description of “mentally diseased” now because of this action. But then, what happened to “by providing meaningful support, family members and friends can play a significant role in a sufferer’s well-being” from the January 8, 2004 Awake! article? Which article will they obey?

In the New World Translation of the Bible which Jehovah’s Witnesses use and make available to the public, Ecclesiastes 7:7  is rendered as “For mere oppression may make a wise one act crazy” and I can vouch that while under their oppression I was crazy.

I entered the ranks of the Watchtower in 1996 at first happily praising God because I thought I had found “the truth,” but by 2004 I was asking the demons to kill me. Insanity? YES!! The confused years that followed were a struggle to regain my mind, but by 2007 the dark cloud of Watchtower oppression left and I totally give credit to the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, the REAL TRUTH in my life.

The Awake! article on page 11 mentioned a woman who found it helpful to keep a daily journal in which she could pour out her feelings. Because we were not allowed to voice our own thoughts in the religion and discouraged from making friendships outside of it, my journal became the safe haven to release my tormented thoughts.  It’s not that I need to go back into that darkness again, but I thought it might be to someone else’s benefit to read selections from my personal journal.

Even in the Bible’s familiar Psalms of anguish, I believe the Spirit of Christ was writing them. I notice this in my own struggles also. At times my pen was seething with anger like a caged beast demanding freedom and then interrupted by a small still voice that said trust God, wait and hope in the promise of rescue not yet understanding how or when it would come about.

I began my study with Jehovah’s Witnesses in March 12, 1996. I was baptized 7 months later to the day on October 12.

February 7, 1997- Sometimes I’m sure I’m gonna bubble over with enthusiasm for the Truth! I can’t believe I’ve been so privileged to be drawn by Jehovah to do His will (John 6:44). It truly does give life purpose and meaning to share the good news with others. No one REALLY knows love until they feel this love (1 John 4:7-10)

After a large assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses I came home and wrote this April 14, 1997: Observation about the Truth to relate to new Bible studies: I realized it along the way and want to get it across to my students. First, you recognize the Bible as being the source of Truth. Then you recognize the organization teaching it and as a whole living by it.

Within 3 1/2 years under the influence of that organization, I wrote in August 1999: My worst fear is not that this system will end, but that I be found among the hypocrites putting faith in one another and our works and not the God of Salvation, Jehovah.

By that December, I questioned the existence of love: God is love. What is love? Love involves discipline. It is not love on the part of a friend if he allows his friend to inject poison in his body. Freedom of choice, then, becomes wicked. True love corrects, directs to a righteous way. It does demand obedience to “a way.” Tolerance, then, is against one way.

God was jealous for me and ready to show me the poison I’d been drinking in the Watchtower. I was about to undergo His discipline which eventually led me to repent of my involvement with the Watchtower.

December 1999: Into the pit. The cold harsh reality of life. So brief. So unimportant. Death so final. To know that there is no true friendship or love. We are essentially greedy and self-centered. We live for our gods or ourselves. But nothing is really truth. Life, all life, will end. Meantime, we live as we choose or make the most of our unfortunate circumstances.

4 years under the influence of “Jehovah’s organization” I was craving love…

March 23, 2000: All that I want. When all is said and done, what we all craved is LOVE. Unconditional. Life presents to us opportunities for praise in our accomplishments, material assets to prove our worth, but we are not really worthy until we believe—really trust—that we were worthy of LOVE. The ones who can believe are truly blessed. No matter how many lies or drugs it takes, we never quench the quest. Don’t make me stop. I’m too weak to believe otherwise. I’d rather believe the lie that LOVE exists. God exists. Life has purpose. I have a right to be here. Don’t take that away, it’s all I got amongst my mountain of things.

Good for nuthin’ slave… Manure is manure. It has value if spread out to nourish vegetation. Other than that, it stinks. Manure is manure. I am of value when used to help other things grow.

2001, five years under the Watchtower influence…

I will cling to whom I trust.

I know you created all things Jehovah. I know you have given me Spirit and Truth.

I know you care, I trust this. But what of earthly love?

I do not recognize love on the part of your servants, only your enemies—

Those clever, clever enemies of Truth

They accept me and love me,

But I can never attain to the divine

Which your imperfect, yet holy servants

Say I must aspire to.

It is a narrow road, perhaps too narrow for me.

And it’s knowing that you will spit me out

That makes it easier to leave.

You require me to cling

And yet if I doubt for a day

I am dust….

Continuing in the Watchtower. Welcome to my nightmare….

June 2002: “Then they shall know I am Jehovah!” When? When He acts violently against this dying system? Isn’t that how we FINALLY make ourselves known? By our violent tantrums as we break free from our enforced cover of purity? Who am I now???!!!!
As I smother every last vestige of myself in a shroud of Christianity, I find myself, yes, anticipating that violent day of proclamation prophesied about Him but it’s also for ME!!! But for what? To live forever in that world I’ve begun to despise by seeing its future inhabitants? There is NO LOVE, only clean, smiling people taught so well to be that way.

Oct 2002
Hate is crippling
I hate so much
where does it come from?
Is it because I’ve left them/it/Him in my heart
or is it because I’ve come to know them/it/Him?

Them/it/Him is Jehovah.
Jehovah is no longer God of course.
Jehovah is THEM: the organization
It: the congregation
Him: God expressed through the Bible

So much would be solved if I could just express myself, but doubt is not allowed.
Already judged
Labeled weak
Do show yourself weak and they will take advantage of you
Protect the children! With what? Religion?
Love is always the answer
Am I capable of defining love?

November 2003
I cling to the hate because if I don’t hate you I have to turn it on myself and I will slit my wrists. You were so mean, so insensitive, so powerful in your damned secure position able to oppress. Of course I am crazy now! You are protected by your position. I am open, naked, exposed and vulnerable. And I am trying to build my walls. I will not stoop so low as to take out this life. You will remain and I too will remain, but I will be honest and I will seek solace and I will not trust those who oppress. If I ask Jehovah to help me forgive and trust I will be vulnerable again.

I knew my anger was protecting me and any thought of forgiveness or love at that stage would just make me vulnerable to the oppressive wolves I discovered in the Watchtower. I went to the meetings and out in service with a smile, but I was gone, gone, gone. All I could do was hate. Free birds don’t like captivity. I was seeking release.

December 2003
One will see Christ’s fire in overturning the tables and make it their calling to expose religious hypocrisy.
One will center on Christ’s outreach to the hungry and set up a food shelter.
Another focuses on healing the sick.
All are ministries inspired by the Son of God.
Still, Truth will motivate others to do the work that indeed he commanded to be done,
“preach the good news of the kingdom.”
Again, a ministry given by the Son of God.

If I were to express my ideas through Christ, you say I have lost Jehovah.
If I were to present my case through Mosaic Law, you will say I have not known the Christ.
I use scriptures to defend my points and you say Satan has quoted them!
I find myself in a lost cause.

Yet I am free,
for I know the Truth
and it has set me free.
Free to expose the hypocrisy
Free to outreach to the hungry and sick
Free to also speak of the kingdom.
Yes, I will be crucified by the leaders for this
but I will be free!
(one year later I was disfellowshiped (crucified) for talking too much about Jesus and not recognizing Jehovah’s organization as his sole channel)

Just prior to their announcement that they intended to disfellowship me, I wrote this in the fall of 2004.
I just wanted to believe in love. Who would it hurt anyway? I just wanted to believe in love. When will the bullet find me? When will I feel the peace, the peace of non existence. To live and not know love is pure hell. This is the place where you love the demons because they will find a way to kill me and I welcome the peace.
There’s still a conscience, it says, “wait!” You can still turn to God. Yes, I can.

Out of all the voices in my head, I tried to listen to that one. It wasn’t easy, but I stuck around to listen.

Later in 2004, I penned

There’s a point at which the dedication to God becomes fused with dedication to the Society. It becomes one and the same. Leave the Watchtower and you have left God. Work for the Watchtower and you are working for God. I remember the subtlety, the encouragement to pioneer—or just “do more.” All the time. Eventually it gets to you. You begin to BELIEVE you don’t love God enough because you’re never DOING enough. You let go of that wonderful Spirit that was leading you to do works through love and begin working for THEM. I remember the feeling. It was the first time I signed up to auxiliary pioneer and it didn’t turn out well. I was “in” at that point. Prior to that I truly felt led by Spirit and I could truly love and minister to others through that love. It was a crossover. Now I’m at the crossroads again. I want to give up THEM. Their interpretation will be that I have “left Jehovah.” But no! It is because I miss Him so much! I wish I could trust that Spirit again. The one that made me work, yes, but through love for God, not obedience to THEM. I still believe in God. But yes, I’ve been confused as to who He is and what it is He really requires from us.

He is Jealous For Me.

In John 2:14-16, Jesus storms into the temple courts with a whip to drive out those elements which do not belong there. Zeal for his Father’s house CONSUMED him!! In seeking the Christ within each of us, there are stages of growth. One of which is this kind of righteous indignation he showed at the temple. I believe my anger and tears were the work of the Holy Spirit overturning the tables and reclaiming the temple of my body. Yes, Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He condemned it and wept. I think it is no different for us. I wept losing my beloved religion, but I also had to be honest and condemn it for what it was.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. (Eph 4:25-27)

Anger is part of speaking truthfully. Jesus proved this. But we do have to be careful that it does not control us and make us worse sinners than those we fight against. The bitterness can fester and thereby give a foothold to the devil. That is why Jesus taught us to pray for and bless those who persecute us. Forgiveness is armor for us, not permission given to them to wipe their feet on our backs. Jesus knows that when we have his Spirit in us, we are powerful in our words and actions. He wants Lordship even in our justified and righteous anger. I have learned to give it to him and use it to glorify him. May God be praised in the fire that motivates those who expose religions that falsely represent him.

Mind Control and Mental Illness

I am grateful for Mental Illness Awareness Week every October. During that time, dedicated volunteers from the National Alliance on Mental Illness use the opportunity to make known their services to help those suffering from chemical imbalance, stress caused by physical, sexual, and emotional abuse including the trauma incurred by those exposed to war. There is a network to those experiencing the post traumatic stress of abuse brought on by mind control also, but it is largely unknown and underground. That is why I feel it is necessary to bring it out from the shadows and into the realm of print this month. There are literally thousands of websites dedicated to helping those affected by cult involvement and mind control. Cults often persuade their members not to search these websites out, but I encourage those who are suffering or know someone who is to begin looking for answers in the interest of their mental health. There is help, there is hope.

During Mental Illness Awareness Week, many newspaper editorials make us aware of the chemical imbalance responsible for mood swings and the treatments available. They also note the effects on the brain from various past abuse and the necessity for counseling through such traumatic experience. We can be grateful for those who research and publish the information. An often overlooked area is spiritual abuse through mind control and how many people do suffer mental illness because it. I believe cult awareness belongs with Mental Illness Awareness and so I am sharing this as my contribution to Mental Illness Awareness Week. Your doctor, no matter how skilled and educated, may not understand the unique struggles you face in overcoming trauma brought on by years of spiritual abuse, but there is help through the many websites dedicated to discussion (group and one-on-one), prayer, and information to help you in your journey toward better mental health. Please begin the search today.

In 1961, Dr. Robert J. Lifton wrote the book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, after studying the effects of mind control on American prisoners of the war under the Communist Chinese. In chapter 22 of his book, Psychiatrist and Professor Robert J. Lifton outlines eight criteria of mind control, whether used by political, religious or psychological cults.

Members of high-demand organizations often experience the gradual narrowing of their thoughts. Their life experiences and future expectations are restricted and reduced to conform with that of the group. When this tendency is combined with an intense belief system that emphasizes the benefits of life in a higher plane of existence, members are more easily influenced to radically commit themselves to behavior they would not otherwise choose which sets up a perfect breeding ground for a mental disposition referred to as cognitive dissonance. Even after years of physically leaving a group and its teachings, the person’s mental health is impaired and they need support and healing.

These are the eight criteria found in Lifton’s study on Thought Reform.

Milieu Control This involves the control of information and communication both within the environment and, ultimately, within the individual, resulting in a significant degree of isolation from society at large.

Mystical Manipulation There is manipulation of experiences that appear spontaneous but in fact were planned and orchestrated by the group or its leaders in order to demonstrate divine authority or spiritual advancement or some special gift or talent that will then allow the leader to reinterpret events, scripture, and experiences as he or she wishes.

Demand for Purity The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection. The induction of guilt and/or shame is a powerful control device used here.

Confession Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group. There is no confidentiality; members’ “sins,” “attitudes,” and “faults” are discussed and exploited by the leaders.

Sacred Science The group’s doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute. Truth is not to be found outside the group. The leader, as the spokesperson for God or for all humanity, is likewise above criticism.

Loading the Language The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand. This jargon consists of thought-terminating clichés, which serve to alter members’ thought processes to conform to the group’s way of thinking.

Doctrine over person Member’s personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group.

Dispensing of existence The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not. This is usually not literal but means that those in the outside world are not saved, unenlightened, unconscious and they must be converted to the group’s ideology. If they do not join the group or are critical of the group, then they must be rejected by the members. Thus, the outside world loses all credibility. In conjunction, should any member leave the group, he or she must be rejected also. (Lifton, 1989)

I am not blaming the Watchtower for anybody’s chemical imbalance which manifests itself as mental illness. But I am not shy about exposing the trauma their oppression has caused in many minds including my own. As their Awake! article pointed out, there is such a thing as spiritual sickness and physical sickness. I still deal with my physical sickness of seasonal depression, but I am joy-filled even through dark days because I know my savior lives and he LOVES me. THAT is what was TAKEN from me as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses–the TRUTH that GOD LOVES ME. It made me insane to keep having to guess if Jehovah would still love me if I missed a meeting or didn’t get my hours in the door-to-door service! Now I know for certainty that God loves me and I will not let mere men oppress me again for it leads to spiritual sickness due to a divided mind that is not WHOLLY dedicated to God. Now that the Watchtower is no longer controlling my mind, I can once again love God with my WHOLE mind, heart, soul and strength. AMEN!!!

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

October 1, 2011 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Love Your Enemies

Love Your Enemies by Julie McAllen

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Lk 6:27-36)

It’s tough. Really tough. To be mocked, ignored, shunned, taken advantage of, the object of scorn? Suffering for thine enemies takes on many faces. Is the enemy the disease attacking your body from which you seek relief? When the pain is real, is it enough to know that Jesus “carried our sicknesses?” (Is 53:4) When the enemy is one who opposes your faith at work, home or even at church, is it enough to know that Jesus is familiar with suffering, despised and rejected by men? (Is 53:3) We hope in the resurrection, but when the enemy death steals those we love, we still suffer grief. It’s tough to love your enemies. Misery loves company, but misery also seeks immediate relief. We agree, “yes Lord, love my enemies, but get me out of this!”

Regardless of who or what that enemy proves to be, are we given any instruction from God in how we can cope with this perplexing and difficult command to “love your enemies?”

It’s easy to become a Christian. Get saved, go to church, wait for heaven. It’s easy, until you actually attempt to walk in the Spirit, fulfilling the words of Spirit that wage war against your flesh.

Love my enemy? Pray for those who persecute me!!? Who of us has not wanted to skip highlighting that one in our Bibles? We love to get our yellow markers out for the verses that tell us how loved WE are by God, but these ones are harder to accept, let alone apply. It makes little sense to our eyes of flesh when we see these words, but coming from Jesus, we know they are not mere red letters on a page, they are words of Spirit and life (John 6:63).

And so, we need his Spirit to accept them.

The apostle Paul, a saved and deeply spiritual man, outlined for our benefit the battle with sin he endured. Through it, he came to understand that within his flesh, or sin nature, nothing good resided there. (Ro 7:18) Paul did not stay in the infancy stage of his Christian life enjoying the bliss of salvation, he pressed on to maturity to know the suffering of Christ. He learned this through the battle of flesh and Spirit. Through this, Paul concluded it was impossible to please God or have fellowship with him in the flesh (Ro 8:8). What a wretched condition to love God and seek to please him, but fail time after time. Love your enemies? Try it in the flesh and you will know how far from God you really are.

Paul was humbled through his battle with the flesh and thereby could write with authority the truth of his own condition and ours. The truth? We’re hopeless, defeated and enslaved to the sin in us. Who will rescue us from this body of death? (Ro 7:24)

An authentic Christian life is not easy. It is the very real struggle of flesh and Spirit battling it out in our members. Proverbs 3:5 admonishes us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Yes, obey –even when it makes no sense to your flesh. Loving our enemies is such a daunting task. Our flesh resists it, our Spirit knows we are to obey. A battle ensues. What makes sense to the flesh is in opposition to God. And so, in Paul’s raw exposure of the battle, he offers the solution of how to win the war.

Life by the Spirit

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Ga 5:16-18)

What does this mean to “walk by the Spirit?” Is it to be continually in a love fest with the Lord overflowing with bliss? Oh that it were! But notice what Paul shares about this after he outlines the struggle of flesh and Spirit for us.

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Ro 8:12-17)

We have an obligation. It is to put to death the misdeeds of our flesh. One of which is a sinful inclination to withhold love from our enemies. Our flesh is opposed to giving them anything good. It is impossible to do this without God’s help. And so, how do we love them? How do we pray for them? Oh Jesus, help!

Our High Priest

The letter to the Hebrews outlines the priestly role of Jesus Christ who has entered the Most Holy Place with his own blood, in fact, the blood of God (Heb 9:12, Acts 20:28). And by this blood, we were invited into the New Covenant of which he is our mediator. The righteous blood of Jesus purified us to stand before the throne of God with confidence (Heb 10:19-22) And it is there, in that confidence that we trust the promise Jesus made at John 15:16 that what we ask in his name it will be given. To utter a prayer simply adding “in Jesus’ name” is not a magic formula however. It is the assured expectation from the prayer of intercession in which we become aware that we are not the ones praying. For in his position as High Priest, Hebrews 7:25 states that he is always alive and interceding for us. When he became the mediator of the New Covenant, we were invited to pray in his will and not our own.

As the body of Christ here on earth, we became the temple in which his Spirit dwells. The Spirit is always alive and interceding through us. If you’ve ever had the experience of being awakened in the middle of the night to pray and yet not know why or for whom, you understand the meaning of an aspect of walking in the Spirit.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Ro 8:26-27)

To groan and search in intercession under a burden not even knowing why is not the pleasant experience we seek in prayer, but it comes upon us like an unexpected wind. Our obedience is simply to remain in prayer waiting for a breakthrough. When we are not given the why or the who but only the burden, it comes out as “the groans that words can not express” for if we knew what to pray, we’d just say it wouldn’t we? But the Spirit-led prayer is the way in which Jesus intercedes on behalf of the saints. Without even realizing it, sometimes we pray for our enemies or those opposing other believers. When we faithfully avail ourselves to his work, relief comes when we become aware of the power flowing through us and out of us knowing that something or someone is being loosed in heaven (Matt 18:18). It’s a wonderful shared blessing when the Spirit reveals who it is we’ve been interceding for as we wait to see how he carries it out in this realm. When that person tells you how recently some “coincidence” occurred that solved a problem they’d been dealing with, our expressions of “praise God!” are most sincere. It’s no longer a praise for their “good fortune” in the happy coincidence, it is in the very real understanding that God had it planned for them and heard the cries of their heart in advance, but before he would pour out the blessing, he invited someone here on earth to speak it into existence through prayer. For everything that is good is created from his word, not our own. He invites us to intercession, he invites us into his divine nature and purpose.

So we see that the Spirit is capable of praying blessings through us. As our flesh resists loving our enemies, do you see how it is that we could pray for them? The obligation is not so much “pray for your enemies” as it is not to obey our sinful nature and live according to it. (Ro 8:12) We obey the Spirit’s lead.

When faced with the very real and very difficult task of loving those whom your flesh resists, we are not obligated to listen to the desires of that flesh–we are under command to live in the Spirit. Too often the concept of being “Spirit-filled” has been reduced to the pleasantries of worship. While prayers of adoration and corporate communion with the saints is ordained by God and necessary for our joy and refreshment, the suffering and burden that comes with the alignment of our wills to God’s is also part of the Spirit-filled life.

So God asks us to “love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who abuse us.” Is he asking us to be doormats? What is God’s goal in this? It remains as in all things, “to conform us into the likeness of his son.” This is why we were called in the first place (Ro 8:29).

Jesus, the firstborn among many brothers, walked perfectly by conforming his flesh to that of the Spirit. Paul also “pummeled his body and led it as a slave.” (1 Co 9:27) Yes, we DO have an obligation. It’s painfully stated as our assignment to put to death the misdeeds of our own sinful nature.

 Our adoption

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (Jn 1:12)

It is bliss to have the revelation that we belong to Christ having been adopted as children of God. Our spirit testifies with his and we cry out “Abba Father!” It is good to belong! But what kind of Spirit did we receive?

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Ro 8:15)

The same Spirit of adoption is not a spirit of fear! Fear makes us retreat from an enemy. Fear makes us protect our own.

Look now at your High Priest. He knows your fears, your situations and your sufferings. You have taken comfort in that understanding. But the pain is still there, causing your flesh to cry out for relief to be removed from this enemy.

Now look again at Jesus. He was enthroned in the heavens before coming to our earth. He looked down from that vantage point knowing that he was about to enter a hostile environment as a helpless baby, dependent upon sinful humans. He knew so well the suffering he would endure at the cross that he sweat drops of blood asking the cup of his affliction to pass if there were any other way. There was no other way. So, FEARLESSLY he came to earth. FEARLESSLY he presented himself to those he knew would one day spit in his face and nail his hands. He didn’t retreat. He faced the greatest enemy of those he loved. He faced death for all of us. He was moved by love, not fear. Perfect love had cast out fear. (1 John 4:18) And this is the same Spirit we received. And this is the Spirit praying for our enemies.

We do suffer. Maybe not at a literal cross, but by putting to death our own sinful nature. The nature that fears the enemy, the nature that retreats, the nature that refuses to bless, love or pray for those who oppose us. Our Lord died for us while we were yet his enemies (Ro 5:8-10), he asks us now to do the same. Oh God, help us!

And so, given his Spirit, we are commanded to love our enemies. We come before him, acknowledging our sin—the reluctance of our flesh to love and to bless. And we ask for a Helper. God has given us his Spirit, not so we can separate ourselves from our enemies, but to enable us to love them and thereby reflect his glory.

and if (we are) children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Ro 8:17-18)

Keep yourselves in God’s love, Julie

August 9, 2011 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions, Prayer Requests | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Love Your Enemies

   

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