Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Please Pray for Me

This is a sticky post. Please scroll down if you would like to read newer content. Thank you!

I have been reading a short e-book entitled Overcoming the Victim Spirit by Arthur Burk. As a result, I realize it's high time for me to ask for prayer.

Years ago, I had a dream about a young woman who came rushing at me from out of the darkness. She violently grabbed me and attempted to throw me to the ground. I ended up sort of easily rolling her over my shoulder, and she ended up lying on her back on the ground.  I then sat on top of her and asked, "Don't you know the Lord loves you? Don't you know you are beautiful to Him?"

In real life we attended the same church. But I was new, and though I had seen her face once, we had never spoken. Even so, within a few months, the attack on my life as seen in the dream, got underway.

That was almost ten years ago, and I'm still fighting.

The woman's name is Liz. After all of these years, we still have never spoken to one another, but because she was employed by a ministry, I have seen on her occasion at their conferences. And last year, while at an event, when she and I were completely alone in a hotel conference room, Liz came up behind me and used her body to push me causing me to stumble into a row of chairs.

I was not hurt at all and did not even say a word in response, but I realized in both the spiritual and physical realms, a line of some sort had been crossed. It's one thing to be harassed spiritually. It's another to be touched physically. Things only escalate from there.

So, I've been spinning my wheels. Doing the Abraham thing--you know, pleading for mercy for that person so they are healed rather than destroyed. Looking at myself every which way because surely  I am guilty of something. Have I not prayed enough? Blessed enough? Forgiven enough?

No. What happened is that I left the land of Common Sense and wandered into Victim Town where I felt I was to blame for everything. This is not my fault. The spiritual issues (sins) in my heart that this situation uncovered have been dealt with. I am not one to shy away from repentance. I've been to the foot of the Cross a million times. The truth is this is finished. Done. Over. My guilt has left the building.

I have watched Liz destroy reputations, abuse an animal, and emotionally manipulate audiences and church leaders. My personal information obtained at the ministry she works for was shared with church members who, as a result broke off relationship with me. I am still slandered.

Last but not least, when I moved back to my home state after being gone for four years, within three days, she moved back from out of state as well. She wanted to reclaim her church territory there, too. Even though we don't know each other, she tends to show up at almost any church I've attended including a couple in Florida, and frankly, I've had enough of it all. It's now time to call in some bigger guns and ask the world to pray for me. Prayer changes everything.

And another reason I need your help is because Liz has at least one strong cohort whose name is Diane Demers. Diane is a volunteer at the aforementioned ministry. For a period of a few months I personally spent time wth her, and in that time, I was in her home.

Diane showed me her collection of books. They turned out to all be New Age material. Not a Bible in sight. I asked her why she had those books. She said, "That's how I learned about Jesus."

Well, that was the last time I went to her house. Within days, she called me up to tell me that she was praying against me--because I needed to go back to South Carolina.

During the same conversation she shared that she believes that the president of this ministry is the incarnate form of the Virgin Mary, and it's her job to pray for the restoration of Mary in the Catholic Church. My presence around the president was a threat to that objective.

(Yes, I know how kooky this sounds, but it's all true, so just go with it. No one said demonically inspired thought was logical. Also, the president's spouse wrote a book on how to be delivered from demons, so the situation is actually logical in that context. It's just a huge irony to me that the president doesn't recognize she is the subject of the problems written about in that book!)

It's been 7 years, and this woman is still openly praying against me, and I have reason to believe the prayers include a call for death. Not only is this a threat to me, but it is also a threat to this ministry which has done a remarkable job in ministering to the hurting for decades.

You might wonder why I am naming names here. It is because I invoked the Biblical right (found in Matthew) to do so. I confronted these ladies privately and personally. I also confronted the president of this ministry because as a leader she is responsible for the conduct of those working for her.

Liz and Diane denied their sin. And their resolve to continue their activity against me only strengthened. The president of the ministry did not acknowledge these issues at all.

I didn't have to do any work to gather two or three witnesses because they existed even before I had my own problems with these people because they had the same problems with them first. They came to me when they saw what had happened.

And since the leader of this parachurch ministry is also a person who sinned against me, that base (of sharing the sin with a church leader) has also already been covered.

I now have the right to discuss this openly. And so I am.

I want you to know that my experiences with these women no longer hurt or even confound me. I am able to bless them. I am able to understand, through my first dream, the grief of the Holy Spirit when He cried out through me, "Don't you know the Lord loves you?" No, she didn't and still doesn't know. Her violence toward others is from that inability to receive from God as if she is totally cut off from Him. Understand that Jesus' heart is broken over this. Liz was God's own created child.

But for me to remain a victim because of her own pain and severed conscience is sin, too. I have to get up off the ground. I love my Lord. And I love His design for me. I was called to pray--to pray for the release of captives specifically. And I know that involves autistic people. I can't leave people sitting in the darkness because I'm too scared to name my own. That's why I need you. Because you need freedom for your children, and I know I am meant to participate with the Holy Spirit in bringing that about.

So. This is over. This is over for my sake and for the sake of the ministry I've written about here, and for the sake of all of those meant to receive healing at that ministry in the years and decades to come. These two ladies and their lesser cohorts are and have been destroying this place for years.

And it's for the sake of its president who has been deceived over the belief that if she just loves these people enough they will be healed. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. They need to be cut loose, and you, Judith, need to trust that the Lord can handle them with perfect love even if His discipline is involved. 

You also need to pray for the healing of those who have been wounded by these two over the last decade. They number in the hundreds if not thousands. Finally, you need to help restore the reputations of those people whose lives were decimated by slander. What you have been dealing with here is narcissism, and as a psychologist it's time to open your eyes and see it plainly for what it is. Deal with it.

So please pray for me. No witchcraft prayers though. Just because I mentioned names here does not mean that I intend for anyone to pray prayers that control them or how God handles them. Just join me in asking God to expose deeds of darkness and to give strength, courage, and protection to those who will need to remove them from leadership.

Ask God to bless these two women. In anyway at all He sees fit. He may even allow Liz to be promoted to a more prolific position. Whatever He decides is fine with me. It's just that I need the reinforcements (you) to see that His will be done in all things.

It's time. It's time for the light to shatter the darkness.

Thank you.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Up in Flames

Hearth Fire
Does anyone remember the scene from Little Women when Jo discovers her manuscript burning up in the fire? In the film version of the story, she responds to the sight with a combination of deep despair and murderous rage toward Amy. "I'll never forgive you!" Jo cries in utter agony. 

There is just something about watching your own heart and spirit, manifested on paper, go up in flames. You wish you could fly up into the chimney and gather up the wisps of smoke that is you and never have to let go of them again. But you can't. Instead helplessness wells up inside, meeting and kissing the rage that first took up residence in your heart. They are the new but permanent co-inhabitants of your soul. 

Before I became a teenager, an elementary school teacher encouraged me to keep a journal, so I did. I'm not sure even a year had passed before my father decided to read it. Pretty soon, I found myself in a psychologist's office. The reason being on a Dysfunctional Family Scale of 1-10, we consistently rated about a 9.5. My journal was my only link to sanity. I wrote to preserve my memories of me. My true self. My pops didn't like what he saw, though. I countered, "Well, you shouldn't have read it anyway."

Yet my father claimed my journal was always left out in the open so sub-consciously I must of wanted him to read it. The truth is, I was an extremely fragmented child. Traumatized people are fantastically disorganized people due to a poor working memory produced by unrelenting trauma, so I was forever failing to keep track of anything once it left my sight. I wanted my dad to invade my privacy as much as I wanted brain surgery without anesthesia. 

I suppose the one interesting result visiting one psychologist after another is that they all unequivocally told my parents, "She's the only normal one in your family. I don't need to see Kelly, but please make an appointment with me for yourselves on the way out." They never did. 

I've digressed here so back to the story. The very first psychologist I saw somehow ended up with my journals in her possession. She had read them before my appointment and thus had asked to speak with me alone. She spent a great deal of time validating my feelings, but still she told me, "Your emotions are too powerful, so," and she handed me back my pile of spiral notebooks, "I recommend you burn these. It's the only protection you have from your family." 

My mother had always cast a shadow of danger over my life. I didn't doubt there could be a day when she might go too far, putting an end to my physical existence. And by then, that day in the psychologist's office, I also already knew an emotional part of me had died so her suggestion seemed like a good idea. I had myself a nice indoor bonfire a few days later and thought nothing more about it.

Just the other day, though, that scene of me sitting in front of the fireplace thirty years ago kind of burst onto my mental sight. The memory came out of nowhere. As it did, I understood what a horrible mistake it was to set fire to my mind. To watch my voice go up in smoke, and have to live with the consequence that from then on, I would forever choke on my words whenever I tried to speak anything I truly needed to say.

After that I day, I continued to lose the memory of how to feel. Then as time went by I also forgot how to think. More time passed and spiritual apathy set in. Even physically, my shoulder muscles atrophied (they are fine now). Finally, I no longer could recall how to tell right from wrong, and that, my friends, is the short version of how a person who starts out with a sound mind eventually becomes a victim. 

In my twenties, I began having a recurring dream. I was in danger, so I ran to a phone booth to call for help. Only sometimes I couldn't remember how to dial 9-1-1. At other times, I didn't have enough money to use the phone. Or if I did, I kept dropping the coins again and again instead of being able to deposit them into the slot. The thing I had dreaded in those dreams always came upon me.

I have to tell you, nothing more has hampered my prayer life than a fear of speaking. The psalmist over and over again talks about God rescuing those who call for help. "I waited patiently for the Lord. He turned to me and He heard my cry." Does God turn to those who can't speak? Who can't cry out? 

I used to worry about that, though needlessly because I now know the answer is yes. Yes He does. He knows the hearts and minds of everyone without our having to say a word. My God has turned to me. He still is turning to me. And He is saving me now. Again. Still. He is teaching me how to unearth my repressed thoughts and emotions. Like the mythical Phoenix, God is raising up my lost words, dreams, fears, and hopes. I see them rising up in the ashes. Lord Jesus, I place all that is coming forth back into Your very capable and beautiful hands!

I thank You, God, for Your resurrection power! 

Recommended reading: The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Is Autism Kryptonite to Narcissism? Maybe.

No one will ever hear me say autism is a gift. The few advantages in life I may have received from ASD weren't really worth the physical and emotional pain just about everyone on the spectrum experiences daily. 

On the other hand, it would be dishonest of me to say I have received no blessing from autism. Our straightforward nature may be a little (or totally) unnerving to the rest of the world, but even so, in us there is no guile. 

I once lived with someone diagnosed with NPD. Her diagnosis came quite by accident because in stereotypical fashion, she did not seek therapy for herself. She did not believe she had any issues whatsoever. Rather, she latched onto younger women with emotional problems and accompanied them to their therapy appointments, wanting to be seen as their savior and rescuer. 

The pool of these therapists was small. After a few years, one of them who had seen her frequently accompany a number of her patients to their appointments finally said in a moment of exasperation, "Jean, you have Narcissistic Personality Disorder!" Jean was totally incensed about the whole thing and told me about the conversation immediately after coming home. Little did she know, I had realized this myself about that same time thanks to my Personality Disorders class.

Jean Hamilton had been like a mother to me. I met her during my first college stint. She was a former professor, who like my aunt, had been widowed at a young age. Also like my aunt, she lost one of her children. They even had the same first and middle name and graduated from the same Ohio university. She was a Christian who was a good role model. Or so it seemed. 

Sixteen years after first meeting her, I returned to the College of Charleston. Jean was very much involved in my life by then so when she asked if I wanted to live in her home until I graduated from school, the offer raised no red flags. I accepted and started classes a month later.

A month after that, I was diagnosed with high functioning autism. It was then that Jean's alter-ego began to emerge. Essentially, she made accusations toward me as often but as casually as one may comment on the weather. One day, she came to me with an open Bible in hand. "This is a list of prideful qualities. You have all six. This is you." Then she walked right back out of the room.

I grabbed my own Bible and found the same passage. And I walked into her room and said, "Actually Jean, this passage describes you." And then I turned around and walked out in the same manner. 

The difference between me then and now is today there would be forethought in my statement and therefore I probably wouldn't say it. Back then, though, it was the response of a child simply saying to someone else, "You said something to me that isn't true and here's why." 

But as it turned out, this kind of reaction truly is kryptonite to a narcissist. They expect a nasty, dramatic response to their insults and rejection--not a logical response void of emotion that turns the tables back on them. 

Narcissists do not meet needs in another person's life. They fulfill desires, but only in the very beginning of a "relationship". They work quickly and lavishly so their target is immediately hooked. As time goes on, however, the target will be despised for the very same attribute that initially attracted the narcissist to him or her.

Due in part to a major dopamine deficit, autistic people have few if any desires, so we have the ability to live without what the narcissist first offers but then suddenly and quickly withholds. Do this long enough and you will come face to face with a raging monster, which is what happened to me. Ultimately it got me kicked out of my home and robbed of all of my cash so while I was finishing up college, I also lived on the streets for an entire semester.

It's twelve years later, and I've come to realize that I didn't come through that situation as unscathed as I thought. The #metoo movement got me thinking quite a bit because honestly, despite receiving the physical healing I have written about here, lately I've had jaw, lymph node, and joint pain. My body has been telling me, "Pay attention. Your emotions are out of whack, and it hurts!"

I realized this week that I just passed my twelfth homeless anniversary. That's also when all the lymph node pain began. Putting it all together I also realized that being robbed and tossed out on the street like human garbage was traumatizing and confusing. Jean had money. Lots of money. She was a community and church pillar, and she had been friends with Elisabeth Eliot among other well-known Christians. 

These were all the reasons I thought she was trustworthy.  Instead these turned out to be the reasons she wasn't trustworthy. The image Jean put forth was so bright, it blinded people as if they had looked directly into the sun. They had no ability to see the real Jean.

That's right. These people appear as angels of light. Yet for whatever reason not everyone is fooled. I wasn't. I just didn't have the language to describe what I saw. Now I do. That is why I did not have a problem addressing my issues with Liz in my sticky post up above. Her behavior is Jean's down to the core, and it needed to be brought to light. 

It seems like Western society has an either/or mentality, but I am a both/and kind of person. Am I coming down hard on Liz and Jean? Either I am and don't care for them, or if I did care, I wouldn't write about this. 

That's not the case. I am deeply saddened that such a thing as NPD even exists. Those living with it have never known real human connection and barring a miracle, they never will. My heart is broken for them. In this way, they are suffering. 

Yet while I am sad for them, I am protective of those who are or will become targets of people with NPD. Narcissistic people are violent. The abuse starts out covert until a person becomes conditioned to it. Then it becomes more flagrant--and frequent. This is what angers me, and to this I say no more. Not to me. Not to anyone. Especially not in a church or a ministry. 

I am praying for a friend now who has been targeted. This is the both/and situation. I DO have great empathy for the one doing the targeting, but I have a serious longing for my friend to see the light and recover her lost sense of self. Her confidence is gone. And she doesn't know why. This is something for which I have major compassion. I want justice for her. 

By the way, you can want justice for a person and still ask God to be merciful toward the one committing the wrong. He loves all involved, but He's fair and He delivers. And His heart is more toward the oppressed than the oppressors. Don't let a false mercy cloud your vision. Put these things into the hands of the All Knowing One--our Lord Jesus. He will do the right thing. His ways are higher. Trust Him. 

Keep fighting the good fight. It's an ugly phase we are going through, but we will get through it. The Church will shine again. We will be unified in the days to come, we will truly love and forgive one another, and we will be reconciled to one another. We will live in peace again.

Blessings to you tonight.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Phil Cooke & The Rise of Christian Mobs

Struggling again with insomnia and its resultant boredom, I scrolled through Twitter earlier this morning. Some years ago, I followed author and speaker, Phil Cooke, but due to my love/mostly hate relationship with social media I've not often read his posts. One did manage to catch my eye this morning, though. 

Called, "The Internet and the Rise of Christian Mobs," waves of guilt washed over me as I read his feelings about those who use the web to bring to light their less than stellar church or ministry experiences. As you can see from my sticky post up above, I have taken this route also.

Part of Mr. Cooke's complaints are valid. Seems everyday someone writes and posts a new article to try to annihilate people like Beth Moore, except in perhaps a twisted way I can understand even that. 

Why? Because we are all born into the faith as legalists. Time and again well meaning saints thrust a Bible into the hands of new converts the second they finish repeating the "sinner's prayer." 

"Read John!" the saint commands (First off, why? and oh, um...there's four John's in here, so which one do you mean?). The dutiful do read John and more but with no one to help them understand what it all means, Scripture just seems like it is one Big Rule Book.

Except it's not. The Bible is a beautiful Story Book of how God, through time, has related to everything and everyone He ever created and of course, His redemption of it all through His Son, Jesus Christ. Except, if one is a brand new Christian and doesn't yet know such things, then people like Beth Moore rock their world. She's breaking "the rules", and people should know how dangerous she is, so yes, in their zeal they take to the internet and sound the alarm. 

Well, Beth is dangerous, but not in the way they believe. She's dangerous to hell, but that's all. Not to believers.

So, there's that. And in response, a few people do rise up and add their comments to lend "support" to the initial claim. And yes, after reading a comment or two, if I can stomach even that much, I click off the site thinking we've become a nation of idiotic lemmings who now use the words "witch hunt" and "collusion" in our everyday vernacular because we are also a nation of parrots. We do speak without thinking, and this bothers me. 

But then there's this; a story I read in the New York Times five minutes after reading Phil Cooke's post. A pastor in Memphis came forward to confess an "incident" of sexual misconduct with a minor who was part of a youth group twenty years ago. For those who don't want to click on the article, this wasn't an incident. It was a psychologically and emotionally scarring assault.

So when I read that, I thought, "Oh yeah, now I remember why people are taking to the internet to tell their stories!" As in, duhhh. Mr. Cooke talks about being there for church leaders in the aftermath of a fall. The problem is on the other end, where church members have a front row seat to everything that leads up to that fall, sometimes observing the circus for decades before the truth finally comes to light, which is at the time of that fall.

The problem which Mr. Cooke doesn't seem to realize is, sin doesn't happen in a vacuum.  Where there is a situation in which someone is sinning, that sin manifests as harmful action against other people, and those people become victims. 

Mr. Cooke's post goes on to state that Jesus never encouraged mob behavior. While in a literal sense this is true, I also think people have this fantasy of Jesus who, while out in public, would say in sort of a hushed tone, "Hey Bro, can you step over here for a second? Yeah, we need to talk a bit about how you want to kill me and all, but we'll do it in private so you don't feel ashamed or anything."

Everyone acts like Jesus never had an unkind word to say. Or He didn't call people names. Or He never called out anyone in public (Note: He always did). Or He wasn't incited to violent anger and cracked a whip around that He actually made with His own two hands. Unjust religious people infuriated Him. Constantly. 

Eighty-five percent of women with ASD will be violently assaulted during their lifetime. They will be assaulted more than once. I am part of that statistic. That said, unjust and criminal behavior perpetrated by a church leader does not deserve the protection of silence regardless of the victim's particular circumstances. I'm not only talking about people on the spectrum here. I'm saying absolutely no one should be forced to call the darkness light and the light darkness. I, for one, refuse to do it.

So, if a person has done everything they could to confront their abuser and to obtain justice but couldn't, well, I say let the chips fall where they may. The internet may be the only outlet a muted person has in his or her possession to speak words that truly need to be said. 

Honestly, if a man or woman wants to stand in a pulpit on Sunday but then chooses to abuse someone behind it in the shadows on Monday because they think there will be no consequences, I think they--and I mean you, may need to think again. I'm just saying. 

We tolerate garbage in church we'd never think twice about anywhere else. If you found out on the day of a major operation that your surgeon was a raging alcoholic, you'd go home and then report him to the medical board. If your son's teacher molested him, you'd yank your baby out of class and go file a police report in a millisecond.

Please tell me then, what is so different when these things happen inside of a church? Especially when the standards for its leaders, in terms of how they are to live are supposed to be higher than those whom they lead? The fact is, the water table is low across the board right now, and that's a fact Mr. Cooke may want to think about in the future. 

So, that concludes my early morning thoughts for today. For the record, while I do not know Phil Cooke at all, in my opinion he honestly comes across as a genuine and honorable person. His post just struck a nerve in me today. I understand in part, where he is coming from, but the problem is, too much for too long has been swept under the rug. The agony of secret keeping, I think, has become too much for many of us to bear.  

Friday, January 5, 2018

Looking Ahead

Antique binoculars
Photo Credit:
Clem Onojeghuo
I definitely do not have a finger on the pulse of the tech world, yet lately it seems that all manner of online content is becoming much more in-depth than it used to be. For me, the novelist living in a Twitter world, this is a welcome and wonderful shift. It's been a mighty long time since I've seen a paragraph longer than a single sentence in the digital realm.

Basically the blogging bar has been raised and I want to rise to the challenge. For starters, I now plan to write about the healing of our spirit, soul, and body on an entirely new website, but each post will look more like an essay or research article instead of a few hastily compiled bullet point type sentences. Facts inform but stories transform.

And I can write this way now because the College of Charleston's Alumni Services includes free online access to their/our library. It's like database and journal article heaven so I'll no longer have to rely on my memory of brain info learned at CofC in the past. I can now look things up, see what's new, summarize anything potentially useful and pass it on to you.

On a personal level, I will be writing much more about my family of origin. On my mother's side there is a generational issue of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).* My personality has no doubt been shaped by NPD, probably giving my writing voice a legalistic or militant to edge to it, but I never want to give you a "just grin and bear your pain" impression through anything said here.

Randolph Hall, College of Charleston.
Randolph Hall, CofC
Instead my hope and desire is to confront a societal attitude which promotes a victim mentality both within my own life and others around me. Remaining a victim means remaining in pain and receiving, at the least, an emotional payoff for it. Legalism on the other hand, ignores pain entirely. The ideal I'm suggesting is to confront the pay off you get from the pain, then bring that pain forward, do all that it takes to deal with it, and then put it aside in order to move forward in life. It's not that the past is forgotten or deemed unimportant. It's just that it's not front and center in your life anymore. It becomes a tool and stops being a crutch. This frees you to live in love with others around you which promotes all kinds of healing.

This (confronting a victim mentality) is important because I have met a number of parents with autistic children, who despite having enormous challenges, are still entirely capable of experiencing success in their lives. They are high functioning. Yet, his or her mother or father just can't get past the grief of the diagnosis so their child is forced to waste away while mom and/or dad spend(s) a decade lamenting over the loss of having a "normal" child. Even more damage is done if other siblings live in the house. Grief is understandable and absolutely acceptable for a season even for a few years or more. After a decade, though, it's not okay. You've left the land of the living. It's necessary to make your way back.

Anyway, I essentially want to explain where my mindset of facing pain comes from just to let you know that my directness is not another autistic quality of mine. It is a by-product of healing but still kind of unusual (from what I'm told) in our culture, nonetheless.

Other tangible goals in mind are to write a book of healing prayers and offer it up for sale on Amazon, or if someone really wants it but can't afford it--they can have it for free. Today's Prayer for Healing of Autism alone has generated thousands of views over the years and is still accessed daily. This tells me people have a need for these prayers, and it is one way I know to encourage hearts all around the world. Your suffering does matter to me.

And I'll be learning technical garb to improve this blog. It's not going anywhere. I so love the prayers you parents leave regarding your children, and I always answer them as soon as possible. But anyway, just yesterday I suddenly discovered blogging isn't as simple as it used to be. Now there's stuff called microdata, structured data, schemata, and more! to worry about.

Oy vey. I built this blog from scratch, using a Wordpress theme in a Blogger platform (something that wasn't supposed to be possible in 2010, but I still did it) and then customized things even more from there. Except after that I kind of dropped the ball on keeping up with my html/CSS skills.

Well, yesterday I found out dropping the ball means Google could care less about a blog's existence since it uses, among other things, the microdata and structured data I never learned to put into my code to better index a blog post. Boy do I have to get it together! There's more to websites these days than just a little html, so let's just say I'll be very busy in the days to come. I hope my head doesn't explode from learning all of these new things!

I hope you find healing and freedom this year, even if it's long-awaited. This is my prayer for you--that this is your year.

*The spiritual beliefs of this author I've linked to do not reflect my own, however, I do think her articles on narcissism are some of the best currently published online. NPD is not widely understood nor expansively studied but many of its targets are suffering and need to know they are not alone. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Thoughts on 2018

Photo by Freepik.com
Never before have I had thoughts on my mind about an upcoming new year. In the cold of northern winters where I grew up, and even in the milder South where I've lived since, there's nothing about January that usually either shouts out or whispers renewal to me.

And honestly, renewal isn't the word coming to me now, either. A few phrases tumbling around in my brain are transparency. Deconstruction. Realignment. Downsizing without downgrading

Some smoke is going to get cleared for a few people, while a few mirrors are going to get shattered. For a few others, the curtain will be pulled back and you'll see the scary Wizard with the booming voice was really all along just a little guy with a microphone and a few props.

What (or rather who) has intimidated you for so long will not do so any longer. What (or who) has been mystifying will not only be clear but also suddenly extraordinarily simple to understand. This is the deconstruction element.

The transparency element I think is already in the works. The growing number of Hollywood voices speaking out against their abusers cannot be ignored anymore. Further, I think their voices will give other people from all walks of life the impetus to also speak out. Even about spiritual abuse.

Yep. While I cannot at present claim to definitively see, in a spiritual sense, upcoming changes in churches and ministries, I can't help but think that the development of things such as crowdfunding sites and minimalist living means that young people will not be as in awe of the mega-millions generated by a few well-known ministries. In fact, they may even turn out to be somewhat disgusted by the uberwealth of Gospel preachers. (I suspect that larger organizations run the risk of more incidents of abuses of power than smaller ones although being little certainly does not exempt one from trouble).

It's too optimistic to think that the prosperity gospel will die altogether (and unfortunately I think the era of prosperity prophecy has only just begun), but put succinctly, when enough people come forward and share abusive experiences that occurred within the walls of a ministry, the transparency that should have been in place all along will ultimately be a welcome consequence of these reports and stories.

Ministries will get smaller (why does one organization have to minister to all 7.4 billion people on the planet anyway???). The smaller size will generate greater accountability and intimacy. Over time, the improvements in day-to-day operations of ministries and even churches will definitely be an upgrade over how they manage themselves now despite getting smaller in actual size.

Be brave this year. Turn off YouTube and go to a real church to hear a sermon. Why keep putting money in the pockets of either rich TV preachers or those who illegally upload videos of the same? You don't have to perpetuate the awe and sometimes downright idolatry of a public speaker. Neither do you need to bolster the popularity of those doling out false hope just for a few seconds of fame--at another person's expense.

Bigger isn't better. Wealth is not correlated with anointing. Reputation means nothing. And the necessity of social media to share stories and information is probably the biggest ruse of them all. How did Luke know that a heavenly host appeared to the shepherds the night Jesus was born? The lowly shepherds, with no social standing whatsoever, have had their part of the Christmas story told for 2,000 years. It got out despite their lack of status in the community.

Trust me, if you have a story meant to get around, it will--with or without the internet.

Underdogs, castoffs, and the almost always passed over, buckle your seat belts. This year, some of you are in for quite a crazy but good ride. You have been preparing, and it's time to get off the bench to finally play ball. Fortunately for you, the realignment ministries will have no choice but to experience will create a better environment for all of you--I think maturity and humility will be some desired results of what's coming. You'll thrive in your position instead of having to fight for it among your supposed peers.

It's not going to be about being in the spotlight anymore. It will be about being on a team. I am not prophesying prosperity here. I am speaking about your purpose. If you don't give up, you will be given the chance by God to live in that ordained purpose so press on. I think this is a year of restorative justice. You are needed in God's Kingdom. More importantly, you are wanted by God Himself.

Let's make 2018 the year of integrity in all that we do. Some ministries can start by removing their YouTube clips from video looping programs (which is where I found this segment today--on a looping site). Quite a dishonest method of misleading people into believing content has true merit by falsely generating views on YouTube. Way to go. Really. Way. To. Go.

Sigh. Okay. Back to the point, which is: Please...let us walk humbly in true love. The light in the world is going to get a little bit dimmer this year but consequently the Light of the World will have a chance to shine brighter through you in that darkness. You carry that light of Jesus and the playing field is level in God's eyes. You are qualified. The era of sickening ministry competition inside the Church's walls will finally be coming to a close. It probably won't happen all at once, but...it will happen. Amen.

It is a new day. Praise the Lord and God bless you!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

"Delayed" Healing

Those are my footprints over there. The reason for posting them is because prior to this photo taken in October, my feet were as flat as pancakes. For an entire forty-six years. 

Pancakes, I say. Except in June of 2016, I attended a healing conference up in Vermont and for whatever reason, one of the speakers suddenly announced, "If you have flat feet come up front. God wants to heal you!"

The first and only thought that went through my mind was, "Really? Who cares? My feet have been this way all of my life. They don't bother me." Yet despite my attitude, I still found myself front and center awaiting healing prayer...

Later that evening, I went back to my hotel room, filled up my ice bucket with water and then proceeded to dump out the water so I could walk through it and verify my healing. Except there was no healing. This confirmed my initial thought of who cares and I never gave it another thought. 

Except sixteen months later when I had to get something from my car after a rain storm, I just happened to turn around to glance at something behind me. Then for whatever reason I also glanced at the ground. When I saw my footprints, I couldn't believe my eyes. As you can see, I have arches now. 

And yes, I was amazed. Yet on the other hand, I was perplexed. The "who cares" question became more bewildering instead of less. Physically I feel no better or different than I did before. Yet clearly this mattered to God, and so did the fact that He waited 16 months to perform His wonderous act. 

Well, the other day as I pondered this again, I remembered what Jesus said to the Pharisees when He asked, "Which is easier for Me to say, 'Your sins are forgiven or stand up and walk?'" (Matthew 9:5). 

Through that scripture He meant that neither act was easier than the other, but to show that He had the authority to forgive sin (an internal process), He had to demonstrate He had the authority to command a paralytic to walk (an external process providing physical, verifiable proof of His authority).

So, in essence, I felt like He was showing me something similar, saying to me, "Which is easier? For Me to transform the bone and muscular structure of your feet or to transform your heart and conform you to my likeness? But to show you I have the authority (ability) to transform your heart, I have healed (changed) your feet." 

Well, that made sense to me. And so did the 16 month delay. Who among us doesn't feel defeated when we do not see an immediate response from God to our prayers? We all do. Yet, I have to say that the more I think about this healing, my faith only rises in response. The Lord hears our prayers! Yet, His timing is perfect and His ways are perfect. I don't know what my feet mean to Him, but He does demonstrate that He takes care of us even down to the most mundane and minute detail. 

So I encourage you today to keep up with your prayers. I also want to encourage you to pursue your healing even by attending conferences. As you may have noticed, I am not particularly enamored with any ministry right now, as it seems they are all trying to be rock stars at the moment but still, in a conference environment there does seem to be a greater concentration of the Holy Spirit there. It's just a hunch, but I think a stronger presence *may* help to increase the odds of your healing. And I want that for you.

Just try not to let yourself get caught up in the marketing hype of whatever ministry is hosting. They are just people. It is the Lord moving among you. He is the one who will set you free. Not the speakers themselves.

Don't give up. Waiting is probably the hardest spiritual discipline there is but when the Lord hastens and healing occurs, the pain of the wait suddenly disappears.

Merry Christmas to you all! God bless you.