Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Unquestioned Authority

Unquestioned Authority

In an unhealthy church, it is considered rebellion when someone questions decisions that are made or statements that are said from the pulpit. Granted, there are those who constantly question the leadership in any church -- but often such constant questioning comes from an individual's critical attitude.

Pastors must learn to deal with such questioning in a compassionate, positive manner. However, in an unhealthy church, any and all questions are considered threats to the pastor's "God-ordained" authority. Members who do dare to question their leaders or who do not follow their directives often are confronted with severe consequences.

A man from one church told me, "We were told that it is more important to obey leaders than to question what they are doing." He went on to say, "It was unthinkable to question the motives of the pastor."

For example, one couple, members of a church on the West Coast, decided to take a family vacation. This couple purchased their airline tickets and finalized the rest of their plans. They were looking forward to their long-needed time off. Once the pastor discovered their plans, he rebuked them for not getting his permission first and warned them not to go on the trip. They went anyway. Shortly after they returned, they were visited by some of the church's leadership. They were informed that by going on vacation against the pastor's wishes, they were in rebellion. To enforce the pastor's authority, there had to be some form of punishment applied. This couple was then informed that no one from the church was permitted to speak to them or have any contact them for a time determined by the pastor. Even their children were not permitted to play with any of the other children from the church.

Pastors operating under a spirit of control are often convinced that they are the only ones who can accurately hear from God. Under the constant exposure to this spirit, members often become convinced that they indeed need their pastor to think for them. In essence, their personal fellowship with the Lord has been abdicated for a relationship with a man. As a result, they lose their confidence in being able to discern the will of God for their lives.

Stop Spiritual Abuse!

Stop Spiritual Abuse!

Are you serving God sincerely but receiving cruel treatment from your church leader? If you think that your church leader uses "divine authority" to control, manipulate, or dominate you then you might be a victim of spiritual abuse.

What is Spiritual Abuse?

Spiritual abuse happens when a spouse or a person in religious authority misleads you in the name of God, and then attempts to control your mind and faith once more in the name of God or the church.The perpetuator of spiritual abuse takes advantage of your spirituality by using his/her religious position and puts you in a state of dependence to his/her authority before you make any decision. The abuse will continue until you feel that you cannot do anything on your own without your spiritual leader's help and involvement. The abusive process will make you indecisive and can later lead you to question your faith in God.Spiritual abuse can take place inside your home or in the church.

Remember: God or His teaching is not responsible for the spiritual abuse; it's the person who misleads you in the name of God.

Be Free from Spiritual AbuseFree your mind and feelings from the control of spiritual abusers. Start by realizing that you can decide for your own spirituality. You are able to make decisions concerning what is good and what is bad for yourself.You can realize God by understanding first His nature as a loving God. You can understand the basics of faith: faith is to trust in God and to know the truth of God.Don't let your fate and spirituality suffer in the hands of an abuser. Be free.

Do you have the 7 Signs of Spiritual Distress?

Do you have the 7 Signs of Spiritual Distress?

Assess your self by going through the questions under the seven manifestations of spiritual distress.
Note: Use the questions as a tool to evaluate your spirituality for you to know if you need any spiritual intervention.

Spiritual pain

Is your spirit suffering because of conflicting views related to your faith or religion?
Are you struggling spiritually in your relationship with God?
Do you often feel a state of spiritual emptiness?
Are you hurting because of uncertainty in your belief?
Spiritual alienationAre you often sad because God seems very far away?
Do you feel alone during hard times and needing help from God?
Are you seeking spiritual comfort during times of trouble?
Spiritual anxietyDo you have a daily fear of God's wrath?
Are you worried that God might be displeased with you and might punish you?
Are you afraid of the future because God might send you to hell?
Spiritual guiltIs your spiritual life suffering because you think God is not pleased with you?
Do you often feel that you're not pleasing God and that He would be angry at you?
Are you blaming yourself too much for your sin?
Spiritual angerDo you think God is angry at you because you're sick?
Do you hate God and blame Him for your illness?
Is God unfair because He is allowing pain and suffering in this world?
Are you angry at religious ministers because they're not with you in times of trial?
Spiritual lossIs your spirit struggling because you're not feeling the love of God?
Do you ever think that God has abandoned you?
Spiritual despairDo you feel hopeless because God may not bless you anymore?
Are you depress because some people are not pleasing God?
Do you think loving others is a waste of time?

Remember: If you need any spiritual help, please get in touch with a counselor or minister who will listen to your spiritual need. If you're not comfortable with somebody assisting you on your spiritual journey, you can also consult your holy book (Holy Bible for Christians) for guidance

Victory Outreach Abuse...

BE CAREFUL of Victory Outreach. Before you join in on their "Vision" understand that you will be stripped of all the visions God has shown you in your life. You will be made to let go of all free thinking and the visions God has given to you. You will lose who you are and what you stand for. You will be criticised, cursed and made to serve, serve, serve. Even at the expense of your own family. Please do not get conned into this system of spiritual abuse. It is a cult. A cult is : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work ... Sony Arganzoni, the great leader is mentioned more in the messages than Jesus Christ himself. They tell their people "We have a great inheritance because we come from the mother church in La Puente". I'm sorry, but last time I checked, our inheritance comes from Jesus Christ anf the price he paid on the cross for our sins. He predestined our lives before we were even born. Psalms 139:16... 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

1 John 4
Test the Spirits 1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

Ephesians 4:14-20
14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.


The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse

Jeff VanVonderen, a personal friend and lead interventionist in A&E's critically acclaimed television reality show "Intervention," is the author of several bestselling Christian books. I once asked him which book was his most popular book and I was suprised at his answer. It was not the great family book "Families Where Grace Is In Place" or the wonderful "Tired of Trying to Measure Up," but the book he co-authored with Pastor David Johnson, pastor of The Church of the Open Door in Minneapolis, Minnesota, entitled "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse."In this book Dr. VanVonderen identifies seven characteristics of spiritually abusive systems:

(1). Leaders in spiritually abusive systems spend a great deal of time power-posturing by focusing on their "authority" and reminding others of it.It is called posturing because the authority does not flow from genuine, godly character, but rather it is postured. As a result, a great deal of time is spent by these abusive leaders convincing others of their influence, expertise, longevity and how much authority they have and much everyone else is supposed to submit to it. The fact that they are eager to place people "under" them in submission --- under their word, under their "authority" --- is a sign of an abusive system. Jesus taught as one who actually had authority, not as the scribes who postured authority (Matt. 7:28).

(2). In abusive religious systems there is a preoccupation with performance.The Bible tells us not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 8:1). Conformed means "squeezed from the outside in" while transformed means "changed from the inside out." In a spiritual abusive system there is little focus on relational discipleship, or the heart of the Christian, but rather, there is an emphasis on meeting quotas, obtaining goals, and increasing numbers, and then pretending as if one's performance were the measure of one's spirituality.

(3). In spiritually abusive systems people's lives are controlled from the outside by rules, spoken and unspoken.One unspoken rule in an abusive system, according to Jeff, is "never disagree with authorities." Rules like this remain unspoken (no official policy) because to examine them in the light of mature dialogue would instantly reveal how illogical, anti-Christian and unhealthy they are. Silence becomes the wall of protectiton, shielding the abusive authoritarian from scrutiny or challenge. The way this unspoken rule of silence is maintained is very simple according to Dr. VanVonderen: the person who speaks about a problem must become the problem. The person becomes the problem by being accused of being arrogant, angry, unloving and other Christian adjectives to attempt to keep the silence maintained and discredit the person who raises the issues that need addressing.Jeff compares this abusive spiritual system to the "pretend peace" of Jeremiah's day when the prophets cried 'peace, peace' when there is none. A healthy church or organization affirms that all topics are open for discussion, and on some points there will be a determination to agree to disagree. Christians should be able to disagree and still fellowship and cooperate with each other in a spirit of love and humility.

(4). In spiritually abusive religious systems the mundane becomes the essential, the vital becomes trivial, and the real needs of real people are neglected for the sake of "agendas."Jesus told the Pharisees that in their religion "they neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice, mercy and faithfulness" and ended up being "blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" (Matthew 23:23-24).

(5). In an abusive religious system those in charge believe that "others will not understand what we're all about, so let's not let them know, or else we will be falsely ridiculed or attacked." This abusive system of religion works on two assumptons:
(1). What we say, know, or do is a result of being more entlightened than others;
(2). Others will not understand unless they become one of us; and
(3). Those who are not one of us are not with us, and therefore, are our enemies. It is an "us" vs. "them" mentality within an abusive religious system.

(6). In a spiritually abusive religious system there is a demand that loyalty be to the organization and not necessarily the Kingdom of God. The mentality that prevails is "we alone are right." Because of this, anyone who speaks out against the direction of the organization is considered disloyal and is either silenced or removed. Tactics used against the , according to Dr. Jeff VanVonderen, include
(1). threats,
(2). slander,
(3). humiliation,
(4). and shame in attempts to get the person who questions authority to "submit" or leave the organization.

(7). In abusive religious systems secrecy is prevalent and openness and transparency are rarely seen. What is important to these abusive organizations is the maintaining of secrecy. Real problems are never addressed. Real issues are never faced. Some even believe secrecy is necessary to protect "God's good name." So how things look and what others think becomes more important than what is real.It is secrecy and using "spiritual" code language that makes spiritual abuse "subtle." The subtle power of spiritual abuse would not be subtle if things were in the open or if people spoke in language that got to the point and did not obfuscate the problem with flowery spiritual code words that have no real sense or meaning.This is good food for thought for any of us in positions of God-given authority such as pastors, administrators, trustees, missionaries, executives and others whom God has given leadership.We need to ask ourselves, "Are we contributing to creating a spiritually abusive environment in our church, denomination or agency?" If so, how can we move our organization toward health? Friday, I'll tell you what Jeff says about how change occurs in an abusive environment.To see an example of courageously confronting an overt abusive system of religion, watch this commentary from an Arab woman whose life is now in danger. Her courage is admirable.

Test The Spirits...

Let’s Get REAL With Ourselves!
1 Timothy 4:13 (New Living Translation)
13 Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.
Be Careful of being taught by "mans word". Listen carefully, tune into the TRUTH of the scriptures. Be careful when you are told your visions from God do not count. Never lay down the visions God has given to you for a vision of another. Educate yourself with the written word of God. If you are not being taught the living word of God through the scriptures and you notice every service you are receiving a "motivational speach", be careful. Question their agenda, count how many scriptures are being read.
1 John 4:1 NIV [Test the Spirits] Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Mark 13:22 NIV 22.For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect--if that were possible. 23. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
Galatians 1:6 NIV 6.I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- 7. which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8.But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9. As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! 10. Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Romans 16:17 ...17. I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. 20. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
Phillipians 2 : 13 Reads: 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
Notice it says God will give you the desire. Not a man or organization. But God alone. He will give you the desire, no man can force the desire to do anything else. We are instructed to listen to Gods voice. If someone is instructing you to listen to their voice because they hear from God. That is incorrect. God will tell you first, then someone will confirm it. That is call Confirmation from God.