Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z: Zodiac

And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.
Deuteronomy 4:19

I paid five dollars to have my palm read in 1993 at the Oregon State Fair. The gypsy-looking woman studied my hand and told me some distressing news: my lifeline was extremely short – barely visible. I would die young. My love line was broken: I wouldn’t find love until later in life. So, I was to die young and find love when I was old. Awesome.

I will admit that for years, I enjoyed reading my daily horoscope and finding ways that it rang true. I kept a horoscope taped to my refrigerator from a few years ago that I particularly liked: “Be patient with the current state of things. You will have more than one career in your lifetime and several big adventures. Whenever you’re in a lull, as you may be now, rest up and take full advantage.” I liked it because, like most horoscopes, it was an encouraging message. But, it didn't apply to every Cancer I knew. It was entertainment – not prophesy. At least, that's how I used to justify it.

Years later, I had another palm reading by a woman who said she was Catholic. This time, my reading indicated that my lifeline was long and steady: I would enjoy good health long into old age.

I know that many Christians believe astrology is heresy. I know other folks who believe in star signs and even use it in place of traditional religion. For me, it was a fun diversion; interesting to see the coincidences and nice to read encouraging messages. After researching what God’s word says on the subject, I no longer consider it harmless entertainment. The old horoscope clipping came down, and if anyone wants to know my sign, well that’s irrelevant.

Harmless or risky: what do you think about astrology, horoscopes, and palm readers?

Monday, April 29, 2013


And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement

Hebrews 9:27

For the past year or so, I've been hearing young adults use the word "YOLO" to explain why they take risks or make irresponsible choices. YOLO, for any who do not know, stands for "you only live once."

That sentiment can be taken in a few different ways, as The Lonely Island song, "YOLO" demonstrates (a parody about being overly cautious so you don't die): 

But, everyone is going to die, so instead of using YOLO as an excuse to push boundaries (or never leave the house), please use this as a reminder that you will also only die once, and then you will face judgement.

Your past doesn't disqualify you from God's grace. But refusing to acknowledge Jesus Christ's sacrifice and accept the grace freely given, will. You never know when you're going to die, so please make a decision before it's too late.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Reblog: I'll Drink The Cool Aid!

I wrote my favorite blog entry a few weeks after I began blogging, on August 29, 2011, when I got a Facebook message in response to my previous entries about the FOC. The message read:

“Interesting.. since I don’t belong to your cult, I am going to hell? dude thats f--ed up!! will you drink the punch if asked too?

This is my response: yes, you're going to Hell and yes, I will drink the punch.

In middle school (mid-1980s) we have the Rajneeshee cult here in Oregon. It is a big deal on the news. Many of their members wear red and we all joke that our vice-principal is a member because she has a red suit she wears once a week.
In high school I write a paper about the Jonestown cult. I know what a cult is. I have even heard it whispered that the Followers are a cult. But it doesn’t matter what we’re called. This is the only truth I know.
There are two ways to get into heaven and I would take either one without blinking an eye. The first is to be baptized by a prophet. Since the last living prophet died four years before I was born, I am stuck with door number two: martyrdom.
People want to know why the Followers allow their children to die. Why not take them to a doctor? Let me tell you why: we are told that the only option we have to absolutely ensure salvation is martyrdom.
If a woman dies in childbirth, it has been proven (I cannot give the details of this proof here because I want you to read my memoir) that she is assured salvation. If a child dies and his family has the faith and trust to allow God’s will to be done, then that child is also on his way to the streets paved in gold.
I don’t know if you can understand this, but fear is a powerful thing. I do not want to go to Hell. If there is a temporary suffering – even if that means two days of hard child-birthing followed by a slow and painful death with my baby still unborn – I choose to take that route over an eternity of Hell Fire and Damnation where there will be weeping an gnashing of teeth. If watching my two year old child die because she needs an insulin shot will mean she gets a free ticket in, well, thank God I am not faced with that choice. We all know that God sent His son to die a horrible death. God even asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Why should our children be spared?
I think about Hell all the time. I obsess about it. I imagine the day I am thrown in. I picture the weeping and gnashing of teeth. I’m not sure what gnashing is, but I think it involves a demon bashing my teeth in with a sledgehammer; new teeth replace the old and the process repeats for all of eternity. I suppose this teeth bashing happens inside a pool of boiling lava. My skin melts off and regenerates in endless torture.
            So, yes, if drinking the punch keeps me out of Hell, then bottoms up, baby!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X: Xenophobe

Preachers and pastors who make their paying career in ministry are false prophets, we were taught. Those hundreds of thousands of men who have gone through college and graduate school to study the bible and the original languages and contexts of the scriptures, biblical scholars, are fakes. They are not hand-picked men of God.

In college, I made friends with a young woman who was the daughter of a pastor. She was the first person to tell me about the trinity – she even drew a picture to explain it. At that point I was already out of the FOC, but still very much afraid of other belief systems and worldly churches. I told my mom about my new friend and what I was learning. Mom’s response was to sternly rebuke me for casting my pearls among the swine. Because the woman had a father who was a worldly pastor, because she was not “born holy” in the FOC, she was swine.

Xenophobe: a person who fears or hates foreigners, strange customs, etc.

How can the FOC receive help if not from a stranger or outsider? I’ve been thinking about this. From my own experience in public speaking, it’s not something that comes easily or naturally. Just imagine, being very sheltered in who and what you were exposed to and then suddenly being called to become a preacher! I have to believe that these men (Walter White and other FOC preachers) really were lead and inspired by God, through the Holy Spirit to preach the word. How else could they have captivated such a loyal following? But, I have also come to accept that the FOC did not alone hold God’s heart. God didn’t send Jesus to die on the cross just for that little town in Oregon. God cares about the souls of the whole world.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Hebrews 13:2

Last Sunday, I printed a message from a stranger to the OC FOC. I don’t know what his message is, or what God is calling his friend to do. But, I do believe that if the group is to be helped, it is very likely that the help will come from the outside.

Friday, April 26, 2013

W: Wisdom

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain therof than fine gold.
She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every on that retaineth her.
Proverbs 3:13-18

When I consider this passage of scripture, I notice that the positive attribute of wisdom is spoken of as feminine. It reminds me of a young man I recently met (around eight or nine years old) who happily told me, “Girls are smarter than boys and boys are stronger than girls.” I was surprised that he didn’t seem bothered by this apparent fact. He was just happy to be stronger than girls. I have taught every grade level from Kindergarten through college, with the exception of second grade and high school seniors, so I do have an opinion about his statement (boys are stronger).

Yesterday, an agnostic friend sent me this picture, with the comment that I should stop reading (my favorite pastime):

So, I decided to apply wisdom to the situation by checking the bible verses listed on the man’s sign. Here they are:

The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.
Psalm 5:5

The have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not
Psalm 115:5

Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.
Amos 5:15

There is no evidence in any of these three verses that “God hates book lernin’.” My conclusion is that this photograph is an anti-Christian hoax. I’d love to hear what you think.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V: Vessel (Are Women The Weaker Sex?)

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers are not hindered.
1 Peter 3:7

By Enid Neel
There are a lot of people who spin the Bible just like a politician spins the media. But what does the bible say about the relationship between men and women. Let's talk about a few specific points then we'll get to the big picture.

The bible compares men and women to pots. People in ancient times used clay pots for everything, so this was an analogy they had a better understanding of than we do. The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:7 that a husband should honor a wife as a weaker vessel. A LOT of women are offended by this. But we don't understand the context. Jews had pots designated for different jobs around the house. There was a big plain pot with sturdy handles that you carried to the well for water. It was plain, serviceable and built for work. But this pot was left by the door. They had beautiful ornate pitchers that were filled out of this larger pot. They had lovely handles and ornate design, but were not meant to carry out of the heavy lifting. These were called the weaker vessels. That's how God designed the marriage relationship. God is the source, He is the water.

The husband as the head of the household, carries the responsibility of supplying his home with God's provisions. As the sturdy pot brings the nourishment into the home, the serving vessel, relieves him of some of his burden and in turn distributes the blessing to everyone in the home. Both are a valuable part of a supply chain. Neither is designed to do the others job. You wouldn't want to go to the well with your ice tea pitcher, neither would you want to fill the glasses on the table with a 5 gallon bucket! Both jobs are necessary and worthy of honor for the part they play. I am glad God views me as an ornate and beautiful pitcher to deliver living water to my family. Heaven only knows how often I feel like an old clay bucket, unappreciated and unnoticed. But the God of heaven has commanded my husband to honor me as a 'weaker vessel'. I am not designed to take on all the burdens that I sometimes try to take on. Is it any wonder our handles fall off and we get bunged up? We were not designed for 'heavy lifting'. We were designed to share our burdens with our spouse and our God. Not try to do it all ourselves.

This set up takes pressure off both husband and wife. God built us for our tasks, and enabled us to do them well. But God has not equipped us to take over our spouses' job. And we need to quit trying to ram a round peg into a square hole. Your husband was not designed to have the finesse of a dainty pitcher and your wife was not meant to carry the spiritual water to the house, that's your job...

Step up and own the job God has given each of you and your home will be a better place.
My name is Enid. As a wife, mother, sister and member of the human race(or rat race) I have come in contact with many marriage killers. I hope to share the pitfalls I've found, so that you can avoid them. Life is so much better when you go around obstacles ,not through them! Some of these things are so easy. Some are the hardest job you'll ever do...but your family is worth the effort. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U: Unbelievable

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light
1 Peter 2:9

“That’s unbelievable!”
Talking to outsiders about the way I was raised in the FOC, with all its accompanying restrictions, rituals, and atypical beliefs, can be awkward. It can lead people to think of me as some kind of sheltered oddball who had that “weird” upbringing. When I have confessed to having been born at home, never having been inoculated, kissing people on the lips at church, being forbidden from making friends outside a closed group of people, and that all of my childhood friends have shunned me, I get these types of responses:
“I can’t believe that!”
“Did you grow up in the United States?”
“Did you live on a commune?”
          “Are your parents cousins?”
          “Yeah, right.”

          As a mother, I now experience a lot of firsts through my children: well child visits, shots (ouch, the kids say they hurt – and I’ll take their word for it), vacation bible school, AWANA, summer sleep away camp, soccer practice, cub scouts, ballet. My son will go to Outdoor School next year, an event I desperately wanted to participate in when I was in sixth grade. And, he’ll go to school dances. These are things I couldn’t do. These are common things that most people experience. My life was not common.
          I’m not complaining about my unbelievable upbringing. It is what it is (or, it was what it was). It’s part of what makes me who I am today. And I don’t mind being unusual.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T: Temporary

He screamed all night. In my sleep deprived state of mind, I thought I would die of frustration or exhaustion.  I can’t do this forever, I thought to myself. I can’t take care of him. Will he ever stop screaming? That little red faced baby boy, eleven years later, is (today) out in the garden planting catnip seeds and helping his sister plant her flowers. He comes up to my earlobes and can’t wait to get taller than me – he won’t have to wait long at this rate, and I’m not short.

The essential truth that my brain couldn’t register back then was that God wasn’t asking me to take care of a screaming baby forever. He was asking me to do it that night, and a handful of other nights. Everything we experience, good or bad, is temporary.

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18

One thing is for sure, that little boy will keep getting bigger and more independent. If you haven’t read the book “I’ll Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch, please enjoy this YouTube reading of the book. But I have to warn you: it’s a tearjerker.

If you are going through a tough time, please remember that it won’t last forever: nothing in this life does. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

S: Stop

There has been too much sadness lately; and too much loss. If there is something we can do to help (and there usually is, even if it’s just a word of encouragement), we should do it. 

Here’s an idea: let’s stop. Stop saying mean things to people. Stop saying mean things about people. Step in and say something when you hear others badmouthing another human being. Do you think I’m talking about you? Maybe I am (I know that I’m also talking to myself). Please just stop and think before you do an unkind deed or say an unkind word to another person. Even if you believe they deserve your judgment. Even if you are sure that they deserve to be blackballed and shunned.

Don’t stand by and watch someone being bullied or hurt because they are different, strange, overweight, poor, or mentally ill. Do you know someone who is hard to love? That is the person who needs your love and care the most. Be that person.

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of these the least of my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Matthew 25:40

It’s hard to love people who are different from us. People who make choices we don’t understand or approve of. It’s not easy to keep praying for and offering help to someone who doesn’t seem to want to help themselves or make changes. It’s discouraging and frustrating and you will probably want to give up, but please don’t. Please don’t stop loving and caring for people. There is no greater purpose than loving the unlovable, sad, needy, helpless, mentally ill, and homeless.

Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not though away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray form them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Matthew 5:42-44

Please do not give up on yourself! Your life may feel bleak and hopeless, but I promise that you will not always feel this way. Do not give up hope. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, pray, and ask for help; you will be amazed at how many people care about you and are willing to help you.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Letter to the OC FOC

Today, instead of writing a blog, I have offered to publish a letter to the Oregon City FOC. The contact information for the author can be found at the bottom of his letter, for any who are interested.

* * * *

Recently, I received a report from another saint of a vision he had concerning FOC. Addressing this vision with the LORD, HE gave me a vision of FOC. The vision is a budded flower like a rose that has been closed for too long waiting to be nourished and drenched in the sun light but with care from the LORD, this bud will begin to open and bloom into a beautiful flower with its peddles extending to great reaches.

Because of his vision, my fellow brother attended the FOC praise meeting a week ago this last Thursday. He indicated that he was definitely considered an outsider but we have attended many a gathering of "saints", so we do not offend easily.

I have no direct confirmation from the LORD, that I am to be a tool in seeing this vision come to fruition, but I am open to be used however the LORD sees fit.

Much has been said and written concerning the FOC congregation, but I come from a satellite extension of Faith Assembly under Theologian Hobart Freeman. So, I hold many of the same doctrines of Faith as FOC, however, may differ on the application of the doctrines.

As redeemed saints, we all have a ministry and a mission of Reconciliation, directed by Jesus, THE CHRIST, to extend to the world just as HE extended to us. The ONLY way to accomplish this is through the Love of GOD to us.

As a servant of GOD, I am vigilant concerning the people of the LORD.

I appreciate any insights you could give me as to the best or proper approach to introduce myself and others to the elder(s) and congregation of FOC. 

BBB or Triple B (Blessed Brother Bob)
Brother Bob can be reached at oracleel@hotmail.com

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R: Repent

Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him. Matthew 21:31-32 (KJV)

I know a very special young woman who was abused in her past. When the subject  comes up, she insists that the man who abused her deserves to burn in Hell for all eternity and she doesn’t want anything to do with a God who would forgive that man. How can it be that serial killers and rapists can repent of their sins and be saved by grace? Is that justice?

We all deserve to die. We all deserve Hell, because we have all sinned. You don’t get to count your sins and hope that you “make it” in under the wire. It doesn’t work that way. One sin is worthy of death. And the only way to pay for your sins is through repenting and accepting of the grace of God through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. There will be many sinners in heaven and many who thought themselves righteous who do not make it. Sounds unbelievable, but the bible is clear on this point:

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
Matthew 21:31-32 (NIV)

Are you concerned with earning your way into heaven? Have you sinned too much to be acceptable to God? Do you believe that if you have sinned less than others, you must be okay with God?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q: Questions

Today's topic is questions: are you asking the right ones? What are the reasons and motives behind your questions? During Jesus' ministry, he was often criticized and questioned by the Pharisees who were out to trap Him and find fault. The Pharisees were legalists who cared more about their rules than showing love or actually living godly lives: they were hypocrites. 

Like the FOC member, who wishes to remain anonymous, the Pharisees asked a lot of questions. And, like Mr. Anonymous, they were asking all the wrong questions. Why do I ignore most of the man’s questions? Because the questions are red herrings – off topic and unimportant (and, not incidentally, he would argue and bicker with any answer I were to give). So, rather than addressing those legalistic questions, I’d like to take a look at the attitude behind them.

* * * * *

The dictionary definition of self-righteousness is “confident of one’s own righteousness, especially when smugly moralistic and intolerant of the opinions and behavior of others.” Biblically speaking, self-righteousness, also known as legalism, is the idea that we can somehow generate within ourselves a righteousness that will be acceptable to God (Romans 3:10). Although any serious Christian would recognize the error of this thought, because of our sin nature, it is a constant temptation to all of us to believe we are, or can be, righteous in and of ourselves. In the New Testament, Jesus and the apostle Paul came down particularly hard on those who attempted to live in self-righteousness.

Jesus’ condemnation of self-righteousness was especially harsh in His treatment of the Jewish leadership of the time. Six times in Matthew 23, Jesus condemns the scribes and Pharisees for rigidly adhering to the letter of the law in order to make themselves look better to others. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector was specifically told by Jesus to “some who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt" (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee assumed his acceptance with God based on his own actions, whereas the tax collector recognized that there was nothing in himself that would cause God to approve of him. Over and over again in the gospels, Jesus clashes with the Pharisees and scribes about true righteousness. At the same time, He spends a great deal of time and energy warning His disciples about the dangers of self-righteousness, making it clear that without Him, they could do nothing (John 15:5).

Paul’s treatment of self-righteousness is no less scathing than Jesus’ was. He began his great argument in Romans for the grace of God by condemning the Jews’ self-righteous trust in circumcision (Romans 2:17-24). He follows that up in chapter 10, saying that the Jews tried to gain acceptance with God based on their own righteousness, demonstrating ignorance of the true righteousness of God (Romans 10:3). His conclusion is that Christ is the end of righteousness, not man.

Paul’s letter to the Galatian church also addressed this very issue. These believers were being told that they had to do certain things to be acceptable to God, specifically be circumcised. Paul goes so far as to say that this is another gospel and calls those who advocate it “accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9). More tellingly, he tells his readers that if righteousness could come from their own actions, then Jesus died “for no purpose” (Galatians 2:21), and that righteousness could come “by the law” (Galatians 3:21). Paul’s conclusion about the Galatian believers was that they had been foolish in their attempt to be perfected by the flesh (Galatians 3:1-3).

It would be an understatement to say that every believer is plagued by this attitude. It is in our sin nature to try to do something to merit our salvation. The costly freedom of grace, bought for us by the blood of Jesus with no contribution from us, is difficult for our prideful hearts to understand or appreciate. It is far easier to compare ourselves with one another than it is to recognize that we cannot measure up to the standards of a holy God. However, in Christ we can know true righteousness. In Christ, we can know the forgiveness of sin that comes to us through grace. Because He stood in our place, we benefit from both His sinless life and His sin-bearing death (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of His sacrifice, we can face our sin and bring it to the cross, rather than try somehow to be good enough for God. Only in the cross can we see the grace that covers all our sin, and defeat the constant tendency to self-righteousness in our hearts.

This article was reprinted with permission, and originally appeared at www.gotquestions.org.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P: Peace

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Matthew 5:9

It's been a sad week in America between Monday's Boston Marathon explosion and yesterday's explosion in Waco, Texas. I’ve been thinking a lot about peace. What does it mean to be at peace? to live a peaceful life? and to live peacefully with others? There are many directives in the bible about peace. We are to be peacemakers.

In many ways, I am not a peacemaker. I’m a wavemaker, more like it. I write about things that others would like kept quiet. I write critically about beliefs and practices that do not align with scripture. And that doesn’t keep the peace.

But I really do want to live a peaceful life. I love it when my children play cooperatively together (I almost always grab my camera to record such blessed moments). I love teaching, especially when I get that magical dynamic of students where everyone works cooperatively and enjoys learning and helping their classmates.  When I hear people yelling at each other (or – and especially this – their young children), I will step in and ask if they need help (which often redirects their anger toward me).

When I began this blog, in 2011, the description on the header under “Does Air Exist?” was: “An insider’s look into the notorious Followers of Christ in Oregon City.” About six months later, I changed it to the quote you now see under my blog title. I did that for several reasons – the biggest motivator was that I didn’t want my blog to be just a tell-all, but a place where I could write about my journey as a Christian woman and the issues that are important to me. Yes, the FOC was instrumental in my foundational beliefs, but that’s not all I have to say. I don’t want to be their enemy. I don’t want to argue with them. I don’t have it (peace) mastered; it’s a daily struggle. But it’s a worthwhile and important journey.

* * * * 

Do you struggle with being at peace? How do you maintain a peaceful life while dealing with very fallible people on a daily basis?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O: Only One

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 14:6

Okay, I’m just going to come out and say it: there is only one way to get to Heaven and that’s Jesus. I’m usually a bit more politically correct when addressing general public, but I’ve just about had it with all the criticism of our savior. There are numerous ex-Christians who say they cannot accept an absolute and exclusive belief system. Many are looking for an all-inclusive spirituality of love and acceptance. Hello, people, Jesus came up with the outrageous ideas about love, not the humanists (copy cats). Jesus is love.

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Mark 12:30-31

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N: Naive

Is it good to be naïve? The word is often used in a negative way, but when I look at the actual dictionary definition, I can see how it might be seen as a positive attribute:

1.     having or showing unaffected simplicity of nature or absence of artificiality; unsophisticated; ingenious.
2.      Having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; credulous.
3.     Having or marked by a simple, unaffectedly direct style reflecting little or no formal training or technique.

When I was eighteen, I met a black girl. She had her hair in tightly braided columns. “Wow, I love your n-knots,” I blurted (only I actually said the n-word to her). She looked at me for a long moment and then said, “That’s not a word you’re supposed to say. The hairstyle is called corn rows.” 

I really shouldn’t have been quite so naïve. I did grow up hearing and saying the n-word. We ate delicious nuts, which we called n-toes (i.e., Brazil nuts). We had a selection song that included the n-word, “eenie-meenie-minie-mo catch a n—by his toe...,” which has evolved to be “catch a tiger by its toe.” We went “n-knocking” to prank our friends, but my children call that “ding-dong-ditching.”

When I was in elementary school there was a family that lived nearby of uncertain racial origin. Their daughter had not been terrible friendly to me. One day she pushed into my seat on the bus and I said, under my breath (or so I thought), “Go away n---.” Well, she heard it. And they called and told my mom what I’d said. And I got spanked. (If you’re the person I’m writing about and you’re reading this, please know that I’m very sorry and embarrassed for having said those words to you.)

So, by age eighteen I should’ve realized it wasn’t okay to say the word to outsiders, particularly black outsiders. I'm thankful that the beautiful young lady I met was patient enough to explain that to me rather than give me the earful (or fistful) I deserved.

Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
1 Corinthians 14:20 (KJV)

Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regards to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.
1 Cointhians 14:20 (NIV)

Do you have a similar story of naiveté? Is there anything positive about being naïve?

Monday, April 15, 2013

M: Meaning

This afternoon, I'm sitting at my desk pondering the two certainties of life: death and taxes. If I live out my natural life, I'm about half done (though, in light of this morning's events in Boston, I don't take a natural death for granted). And with every passing year (and decade), I have to face the fact that there are no do-overs. We only age in one direction, and that's up. Where has the time gone? And, what was the meaning of it? Where's this narrative going?

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:31-33

I think about the meaning and purpose of my life often. Am I doing what I’m meant to do? I believed, as a child, that the purpose of this life was a trial to determine our eternal destiny: if we were good, we’d go to heaven; if not…bad news.

I still think like that in some ways, though I try not to be so legalistic, I’m not sure there’s a way to overcome those old records. But, the way I think about the purpose, or meaning, of life is evolving. I believe I have a purpose that goes beyond proving myself to be “good” enough. I have been given certain abilities for a reason.

The parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) is a story I heard from the pulpit as a child and one I have often returned to in my search for meaning. I know that the talents in the parable refer to money, not skills/abilities, but I like to think that since this is a parable, the current meaning of “talent” can very well apply.

I believe the purpose/meaning of life is to live for God, seeking His will first, and to use my God-given talents to the fullest, rather than bury them. In the parable, the last servant – who had been given only one talent – buried his talent so it wouldn’t be lost. This servant was reprimanded and the talent was taken away.

I’d love to hear from you: What do you think the meaning of life is?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Are You a Doormat? #iHateWhenPeopleExpectMeTo

#iHateWhenPeopleExpectMeTo is trending on Twitter today. Here are some of the most retweeted and favorited tweets:

give my honest opinion when they ask for it and when I do, they want to get mad -______-

do stuff just because everyone else is doing it... Nope, I have standards.

apologize when they were clearly wrong

do everything for them

do things for them that they wouldn't do for me.

share every time I have some food, can I just enjoy my meal for once.

There's a common thread here. People are resentful about being walked on, abused, and taken advantage of. I am so there. How do you balance Christian charity with having enough standards that you don't end up exploding?

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Matthew 5:39

I don't know the answer. I do know that I can give you a detailed list of the people who repeatedly take advantage of me (I won't do it, though). Holding a grudge or holding it in? Being Christlike is not easy!

Can you relate? Do you feel like a doormat? Do you have any tips for letting all the insults and injuries go? I'd love to hear your words of wisdom and/or experience.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L: Leadership

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

Proverbs 11:14

There are people in the FOC who think they can logically disprove anything I write about my experience in the group by saying, “Nope, that’s not us. Your family was just weird.” Or, “How would you know what we were taught…”. You get the picture. They don’t want me talking about the group, so they try to claim that I don’t know anything. And even if their claims were accurate, they bring up a really serious issue: leaderlessness.

What happens when you get a group of twelve hundred to two thousand people and nobody’s in charge? According to the scriptures, the people fall. After more than forty years, what has happened to this group? The people have their “pet doctrines” -  a fact that was prophesied by the late Walter White. The members argue, bicker, and disown each other. Young people suffer and die. And can you get a straight answer on why these dearly held practices and beliefs continue? No. Every group, church, organization, and family needs leadership.

Where there is no vision, the people perish.
Proverbs 29:18