Sunday, January 26, 2014

Are You a Christian Scientist or a Scientologist?

In the 1990s, I was a young adult, recently out of the FOC; yet, I didn't have a lot of ways of successfully relating to the world or explaining why I had some very odd attitudes, beliefs, and practices. Why hadn't I ever been to see a doctor? Was a Christian Scientist or a Scientologist? Well, neither.

I hadn't - at that time - even heard of such religions. I barely understood the difference between Judaism and Christianity. I learned not to share my differences with most people because it just led to questions I either couldn't answer, or didn't really want to talk about.

I don't really think about those other religions much - except that they share some practices with the FOC such as shunning ex-members and discouraging medical interventions. Christian Science actually has more in common with the Oregon City branch of the FOC than I would've imagined. Not only are they faith healers, who believe in the Bible - they also do not have ministers, but base their religion off the legacy of their leader's words (in the case of Christian Science, the published work of their leader). Like the FOC, many practitioners, children and adults, have died from medically-preventable ailments. Christian Scientists practice faith healing through consultations (in person or over the phone, where the practitioner / provider argues the illness out of the patient / parishioner. It is the only faith healing practice that qualifies for billing through medical insurance.

Scientology, on the other hand, is not based on the Christian religion. It was started by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer, and was made famous by Tom Cruise. Scientologists believe people are immortal in that the essence of us lives on in nature. I haven't delved too much into researching their beliefs, but from skimming their website, they believe in striving to be the best they can be, spiritual enlightenment, etc. While many may believe that Scientologists practice faith healing; but, according to their website, they do take prescribed medicine and seek medical care with the exception of psychiatric medicine, which they believe to by harmful and sometimes deadly.

While I am no longer a faith healer, I do appreciate the basic belief. I believe in prayer with medicine - that God can heal and God can (and does) use medical doctors and medicine to help us heal. And, while I do not agree with most of the Scientology movement, I do appreciate the idea that psychiatric medicines are overprescribed and often not the best path.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Men First

Imagine the scene. Women and girls have worked hard to prepare their best dishes for the potluck. They’ve arranged these delicious offerings on nice serving trays and together, dozens of women have set out stacks of plates, silverware, napkins, and cups. Multi-gallon pots of coffee are brewed. Everything is set up. Time to eat.

Men and boys rush to line up and pile food onto their plates. They take their heaping plates to a table and wait for their wives to bring them coffee. Other men crowd in with plates of their own.

Where are all those women who have prepared this feast? Where are their daughters, who’ve eagerly helped? They stand back until all men and boys have helped themselves and taken the best seats. Some women bring cups of coffee to the men.

After the men and boys are served, seated, and eating; the ladies begin to line up. The food is getting cold, the favorite dishes are running out, and the seats at the tables are taken. That’s okay, because they’re not expected to sit with their menfolk to eat. A woman sitting down at a men’s table would be scandalous.

I didn’t think it was odd. I certainly didn’t like it, but like so many other rituals which were set up in favor of men and boys, I had no power to change it. It just was.

Now imagine what potlucks and church events are like outside the FOC. Women and men prepare food to share – mostly women, but many men enjoy cooking and happily add their best dishes to the feast. When it is time to eat, and leader calls everyone to attention and prays for the food. Then people line up and fill their plates. People are not segregated by gender, though sometimes by age. Elderly folks are often invited to go first, or children. But I always get my food with my husband – not for him (he likes to serve himself), and certainly not after him. And we sit together. He would hate to be forced to sit at an all men’s table. How boring!

“…but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever be chief among you, let him first be your servant”
Matthew 20:26-27

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Power of Words: The Other F-Word

Many people think I’m weird about words. “It’s just a word,” a counselor friend declares – attempting to convince me that it’s fine for children to curse. I don’t agree. Even while teaching adults, I often stopped students in hallways and common areas who were dropping f-bombs to let them know that educated people should have attained the use of a broader vocabulary than f-ing this and f-ing that. It simply makes people sound ignorant, in my opinion.

When it comes to my children, I’m even more vigilant about what they can hear, because what goes in may eventually come out. With my oldest, I managed to prevent him from even hearing the f-word until he was ten. That wasn’t easy to do. It meant heavily restricting his movie-watching, friends, and most-importantly: where he went to school (private Christian school). Then one day, it happened. I left him with a trusted sitter, someone I’d known forever and trusted. She, apparently, thought nothing of saying it in front of my kid. And he came home and proudly repeated it. Theory confirmed (what goes in comes out).

But the real f-word is much more dangerous, in my opinion. The word is “fool.” I remember the first time I heard someone use the word – in seventh grade as we were heading for our after school buses, a worldly kid shouted at another boy, “You’re a fool!” A felt icy cold air around me. I felt certain that boy had just signed himself up for hell.

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
- Matthew 5:22

When I was around fifth or sixth grade, some of my peers started using the word “idiot.” When my folks heard us kids using the word, they put a stop to it, pointing out that idiot is synonymous to fool. I later came to realize that most insults are also synonyms of fool. So are there any safe insults to hurl at people? Is this the point of Matthew 5:22? Don’t insult people? Don’t call people names?

Although, I’ve overcome my past enough to realize much of what was taught and widely accepted was not biblically accurate, I’m still terrified of words like fool.

And worse than fool, is the taking of God’s name in vain – which, to my mind, I confuse with blasphemy. Maybe I’m incorrect about that, but I figure it’s better to be safe than sorry. Truthfully I’d prefer to hear the f-word a million times than to hear someone take God’s name in vain.

What do you think about the power of words? Harmless or very potent?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Brian Moore: Will He Know You on That Day?

Former FOC member, Brian Moore, asked me to publish this message today.
* * * *
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'"(Matthew 7:21-23)

These particular words are some of the most frightening that we can read in the New Testament from He who defeated death itself, Jesus Christ. Now I must ask the reader, what did our Lord say to do at the end of the gospel according to Matthew?

"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

This statement is the great commission, the song "Whosoever will" takes some of it's lyrics from the verse above.
“Whosoever heareth,” shout, shout the sound!
Spread the blessed tidings all the world around;
Spread the joyful news wherever man is found:
“Whosoever will may come.”

Now I can't tell you how many times I sang that song, probably a few hundred at least, but was I about spread the joyful news? No! And you aren't either if you continue to put God in a box! How many conversations have you had with your neighbor, coworker, or a peer about the good news? Does God know you? Are you showing your beliefs in your actions? Will He tell you to depart from Him on that day?

The sad truth is that most of you do not read as you should: you read as you want. You put God in a box to fit your lives, you tell Him how He operates, what He's going to do, you have reduced Him! I serve a God that says: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:7-11)

I serve a God who can open the Red Sea! You serve an idea of God: you have built up a nice idea of God in your minds, your minds have been taken captive! You have been taken captive by men's dreams!

"Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams," declares the Lord, "and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit," declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 23:32)

So at this time I would like to share a few more passages of scripture and I ask you does this apply to you or not? Does it apply to you under the "right" circumstances? What will you do with this information? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone even if it means loosing a few friends or family? Or will you just put it off one more day?

I feel it is my obligation to warn the righteous and the wicked: "Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. When I say to the wicked, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself. Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he will die; since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself." (Ezekiel 3:17-21)

"Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!" (Acts 2:37-40)

"As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?" [ And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."] And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him." (Acts 8:36-38)

I believe that a person can receive the Holy Spirit before baptism but Peter said that you will receive it when you are baptized, This is how I came to know The Lord, and I hope that I have been able to stir your mind a little bit and make you think, I urge you to talk to people about this good news, have a bible study with a few friends and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ! Step out of your comfort zone!

Until next time may The Lord Jesus Christ bless you, and keep you; make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.