Ministering and the Mobile Home Park.

Okay, okay, I won’t write about the Virus anymore. I hope.

I haven’t looked (because I don’t care) but I bet that’s the main subject of a ton of the blogs on this domain right now.

I like that a lot of the YouTubers I follow are choosing to still try to make their videos and keep it regular. Trying to brighten people’s day a little. I will say my blog traffic is increasing.

I’d rather not get traffic because of an epidemic, but maybe people will find it uplifting.

I have another story for you today.

My church is continuing with their efforts at helping. My pastor keeps saying he wants it to be like the book of Acts, getting out there and ministering to people on the street, at their homes, the old fashioned way. Thinking of creative ways to have service and stay connected.

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So, today we went to the mobile home park behind our church to take people emergency food and give them a flier to call us if they needed anything else. Also writing down their needs and offering to pray for them. They were seniors, the high risk people, so we wore gloves, and someone had graciously donated masks.

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I cant help but feel being part of a big church at a time like this has its perks. My church has a network of people who communicate to supply things. I kind of took that for granted before, but we’re probably still functioning because of that. Many churches are just shut down entirely.

I wonder how other religious institutions are doing. I wouldn’t have any way to know except Googling it.

Some people were scared to come outside and take stuff from us. Others came right out and smiled. Some told us they didn’t need it, they had enough. Others that they did need it and other stuff. Some said they’d just been praying and doing devotionals themselves this morning. There were a lot of Christians… I mean, I guess if you live behind a church, might as well be christian. (I don’t think that has anything to do with it really, but it must make it more encouraging to drive by that every day when you leave the unit.)

We still had boxes left over because so may people said they didn’t need it and to just go on and give it to someone who did. Some were crying because they were so touched that we thought of them to do this.

It did not seem remarkable to me at the time, but I guess these are the cute stories newspapers like to cover and people like to share on social media. (Hey, go ahead if you want. I don’t mind. You don’t have to though.) I don’t really feel like my life is that unusual, but I do get to be part of things that people think sound really special.

(I wonder how the homeless people in Skid Row are doing, my previous Church takes food there every so often, I’m sure they must be at risk, hopefully the church will find a way to still help them. It’s a bit far for my current church to travel.)

People have suggested that Christians only do stuff like this to feel good about themselves for helping the less fortune, the looked down in society. At a time like this, people’s pride goes into their pocket. I bet people who wouldn’t normally accept help from strangers would take a medical mask from one now, if they could be sure it wasn’t used.

Some people may do charity and volunteer acts in order to feel righteous. I doubt it matters that much to the most desperate people, as long as their needs are getting met, why should they care? It makes a difference to your own soul, and to your coworkers, what your attitude is, but the nice thing about Charity, is if it’s a good charity, it won’t make much difference to the people receiving it. (Not that that applies to everything, prayer without true compassion is both useless and discouraging to the one who receives it.)

Honestly, I think it scares people more that they might be received well. Because then they might have to do it again, and get involved. We humans are afraid of commitment to new things, especially ones we don’t get paid for. Its like money justifies the risk in our minds, but success and changing someone’s life don’t.

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? Goals?

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Or is it really…

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More about this.

Some people think that is because we are selfish, and while we are, many people are willing to be unselfish if it’s within their comfort zone of talents and time. We are more likely to hold back out of fear than straight up selfishness. Fear is selfishness more cleverly disguised.

I am not sure why we are so afraid to do good. For me, it’s the fear that I am not good myself, that I will be shown to be a fake, and will not be able to really help. It took me a long time to become self aware of that, and even longer to really start to overcome it. Now it haunts me, even though it does not necessarily stop me from acting. My sister says “I think it’s called the Flesh.”

Call it that, or the Inner Bully, or Internal Critic, whatever name you have for it. It works the same way.

Human beings feel we have some kind of price to pay in life, that we cannot be Good, or Brave, or Noble, or Heroic. We have lost that right somewhere, and living a small, cowardly life is our just desert for it.

Original Sin can explain that pretty cleanly, though it’s not a popular explanation anymore.

Maybe we no longer have the right to be Great, but the world still has a need for us to be so. It amazes me when I hear the little known stories that get passed around in books, and blogs, and articles, that not a lot pf people read, but they’re so inspiring. The best deeds may be the ones hardly anyone knows about.

What did it mean to someone? That someone cared even enough to knock on their door and give them food? Who knows? Only God.

The Bible says at the end of time, we’ll all give an account for our lives, and our works will be tested with fire. For Christians, the fire will not destroy us, even if our works burn up, because works are not why we are saved. Others will be judged according to their deeds, as well as their lack of faith. Jesus said “He who does not believe is condemned already.”

We are told we’ll be judged for something as personal as “every idle word we speak.” God looks at the heart after all.

The point is, our works may be the most important where we thought they were the least.

There is nothing wrong with famous good deeds. We need to be inspired. Sometimes whole nations need to be changed, people need to be liberated.

But the thing about small deeds, it’s hard for history to pick them apart, and try to read ulterior motives into it. Someone might assign dark motives to helping someone carry their groceries, but it’s far less likely anyone would bother to try.

Social Media has made even little deeds bigger, but the ones we still do with out cameras off and and between our vlogs, are the ones that people will remember the most, the people we did them for anyway. I can’t be the only one who immediately feels I’ve sunk in important whenever I see someone filming.

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This has been longer than I expected…well, in conclusion, I am still encouraging people to think about what they can be doing to help, even if it’s just calling someone, or mailing them food or supplies. Or checking in on elderly neighbors, form a healthy distance of course.

This should be our all the time, but still, times like these are when people really appreciate someone being brave enough to reach out. I tip my metaphorical hat to all of you who are already doing that.

Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.” (Proverbs 21:13)

Until next time, stay honest and healthy–Natasha.

Fear and The Food Bank.

So, ending the first week of confinement at home for most of us around the world–the first week for my part of America, for many people this is already getting old.

Today I got to bend the rules a bit with my church and help out with their weekly Food Drive. Of course they had less people there than usual, my sister and I had never helped out before, but we felt they would need the extra hands–my real reason was to get out of the house and be around other people for a while.

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So after 3 hours of stuffing food into bags, not sitting down, and carrying boxes and dishes around, I was ready to go home and put my feet up.

The talk at the event was a bit concerned. The people who come in for food are low income, or homeless. They are the most at risk of getting sick, as one person in charge explained to us. We had to wear masks if we were going to interact with them. Someone donated the masks and the gloves we wore, form what I heard. Or someone was lucky enough to find them, since those things are getting sold out everywhere.

But more than worrying about infecting anyone, the helpers were worried about whether we can have this in the following month. Without it some of these people might not get food at all, a lot of food banks are closing because everything is getting bought out so quickly. My grandma could only buy one bag of bread this morning. She was lucky there was even any left.

However, my family is not at risk of starving any time soon. If we were homeless, without access to a kitchen or pantry, that would be different.

My family has been on the brink of poverty plenty of times. Having a small business meant job security depends on the public demand of a small ring of customers. It’s not like widely known department stores that people know to search at. We had to move because we couldn’t pay rent anymore. If we hadn’t had a relative who would take us in, my dad said we could end up in a tent on the field. My dad was rather melodramatic. WE have plenty of friends who would probably help us out before that happened.

What goes around, comes around. We’ve let people stay at our house too when they didn’t have anywhere. Never for very long, but still.

I don’t like being so dependent, but am I glad that we have somewhere. Especially now that my dad’s income is not supporting us. My mom has gotten a 2nd job, so that will help we hope. But if we didn’t live here for free, we couldn’t make it.

All this to say, I’m hovering on the edge of the lower class here, though no one would think so to look at me. Looks can be deceiving. But there’s still so many people worse off. On top of that, they have to worry about catching cold and not being able to shower.

I guess what bothers me is this mass panic over the virus is so selfish.

People are buying up supplies who don’t really need it. Rushing in to get more. They don’t realize that stores donate food to charities, or people go to stores to get food to donate, and that goes to people who cannot afford it themselves. Who can’t even get it by going to a charity, if the charities are closing.

My church is afraid to close because so many places near it are closed that the people would have no where else to go. So we still had our event. We’re hoping to have it again next week. Hopefully through the rest of the crisis.

The Virus is terrible,  I get that. I maybe don’t get it as well because I haven’t seen it in action. Part of the reason it’s so devastating is that it’s new, and people don’t have immunity built up to it yet. In a few years, it’s likely to be a smaller problem. hopefully by next year, even.

It’s scary, sure. But it’s not the apocalypse.

It amazes me how scared people can get. It’s like we’re trained to react this way.

Though generations of books and movies about the end of the world and a post-apocalyptic world probably aren’t helping. I’ve known people who half believe in zombies and AI taking over, who see it as inevitable.

Christians know that the end of the world is inevitable. However, we’re told to walk boldly and wisely, redeeming the time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16).

Christians are basically paying rent for living on the planet by doing our good works. Not that we have to pay to life here, literally. We just see this body as a loan, a temporary home, meant to be used to help people with. And yes, enjoy life, because who says helping people has to be boring? It can help people a lot to just enjoy things. “A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).  Give me an anime with my sisters when I’m feeling down over a sermon any day.

We are allowed to participate in all parts of life, as long as we keep in mind they are fleeting and our real object is God. Balances is the key.

So when we face these crisis, we are supposed to feel as if we are just returning a borrowed book to the library, or a rented car, checking out of our resort, ect. Sure, it was fun while it lasted, but if the fun part is over, or even suspended, who was surprised?

“In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus said.

Our security does not depend on the world, and the world cannot take it away. People with God’s hand on their lives tend to evade life’s threats with a seeming ease of just being unaffected.

Sometimes Christians do suffer the same diseases, money problems, and terrible crimes as other people. A lot of the time actually, but it is not the end of our lives. We have a hope, we come out of it.

Of course, we’re human. Some of us grow faint and lose courage. Jesus also said “He who endures to the end shall be saved.”

In a crisis, the difference between a Christian and a non-christian might be compared (at it’s worst) to someone dangling off a cliff by their fingers.

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As long as they hold on, they won’t die, but they could slip at any moment. The cliff could give way. Some jerk could even come and kick them off.

Their strength will only last so long, even without another thing happening.

But, if there was a safety net hung below them, none of that other stuff would matter in the least. Whether they fell because they were tired, or the handhold wasn’t stable, or someone else pushed them, or it was just an accident, the end result it the same and the cause no longer matters.

I guess either way that’s the case. You can survive falling, sometimes. But you never need to survive if something catches you.

That’s Christianity. Even death isn’t a failure, if heaven is the safety net you fall into.

Whether that net takes you back to the cliff of this world and its problems, or take you home to heaven, you were still saved. So why worry?

Of course, it’s scary to dangle. It’s scary to free fall even for a few seconds. Just like it’s scary to endure a crisis not knowing what your escape will be.

But, you’re still 1000 times better off than the person with no net, no fall back, relying on their own strength to keep them alive.

The world will be afraid, because it has no hope. But we do not have to be.

I just wonder, over the world, how many Christians are contributing to this scare? And how many are choosing to trust God to catch them. I know my own dad tends to make it worse, but my mom and sisters tend to try to make it better. I hope I’m on that side also.

Maybe my challenge to you is to think about which one you are. I’m not hating on you if you’re scared, it’s normal to be scared, but are you trying to stay calm even so? Or are you adding to the chaos?

That could be as simple as texting a reminder about it when you didn’t really have to, and we all know people who feed off drama and the attention people give them when they bring up bad stuff.

We never know who might be affected in the long run by us giving way to fear.

After this post, I think I’ll stop writing about the Virus unless a really important thing comes up, because it’s not worthy of all my attention, or yours.

Until next time–Natasha.

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Outbreaks–a Christian’s perspective

Well, this is quite a time to be a blogger.

On the one hand, everything being closed means more people are going to be bored out of their minds and surfing the web, on the other hand, people are terrified.

In case someone reads this post in the next few years and has no idea what I’m talking about, we are currently in the middle of the COVID virus epidemic.

I have not been following the virus closely, as I don’t believe news reports to be the most reliable sources for realistic looks at any situation, let alone one causing panic. I just keep getting updated on what’s closing, and how many people can be in a room.

Right now we’re down to 10, hopefully it stays there, even that’s way too few to be practical.

If we hadn’t had such a run on supplies, this maybe could have been handled differently, like making any large group of people all wear masks and gloves before mingling. Only for crucial stuff though, of course who decides what’s crucial? I don’t envy the people trying to sort this out.

I’m just sad that my church services and Sunday school are shut down, and now my college is taking a break from classes to deal with it. I hope they don’t just stop, I don’t want to retake these classes.

Even without looking it up, I  know there’s people on both sides of the extremist spectrum who think that this is a plague from God, or a science experiment to weed out the elderly and infirm in our population.

As a Christian who reads her bible, I can’t rule out an act of God, but it’d be weirdly inefficient as a plague if it only targets those who are already old and ill. God is no respecter of persons.

If I was going to be a conspiracy theorist, I’d say man made, because a lot of sick people think that we need to decrease the population, and have no regard for the elderly.

However, even so this virus is pretty pathetic in terms of strength, for an epidemic. They say that kids may not even know they’re sick because their symptoms could be so light.

I did  not even take this seriously till it started effecting my life, and even  now, I am not that concerned, my family is generally pretty healthy, we rarely even get a regular flu. being homeschooled and genetically having strong immune systems has its perks.

I guess like most humans, until it’s bothering me, I don’t care about a lot of problems. I don’t see a point to worrying about something I cannot stop.

People ask around times like these why God allows such things to happen.

In the Bible, the first mention of disease is pretty late in, I don’t think it’s mentioned at all until Exodus, and if it is, it’s not with the principle characters. We know that God made the world perfect, and set up a diet for Adam that would keep him healthy  (see Genesis 1-3), Proverbs also says that following God’s word will bring heath to your bones.

God sends pestilence on Egypt and warns the Israelites the same will happen to them if they disobey him. Jesus and the prophets heal the sick. Jesus promises heath to those who serve him (though we know it is not exclusive health, just enough for us to keep serving him.) Paul says if we lay hands on the sick they will recover.

In modern day times, science suggests that most of our health problems are caused by bad environment, poor eating habits, and not enough exercise, or too much, for some people. Also insufficient clothing, in many countries.

If we human beings took better care of ourselves, and each other, God would have a lot less to do about it.

But even so, we really should be worse off than we are, some people’s good health just can’t be explained by their life choices, and I’ve known many health-focused Mormons who still get sick all the time.

The Bible would teach that Disease is the result of living in a sinful world. Like sin, disease effects multiple people. When someone sins they inflict pain on someone else, just like someone can spread a disease to an otherwise healthy person. You can’t blame the victim. Sickness can be a judgement, but as the book of Job warns us, only God can know when it’s a judgement, and when someone has been the victim of someone’s else wrong, or if it’s a test.

My dad would usually jump right on the Judgment train for any terrible thing that happened. While I could not prove he was wrong, it’s foolhardy to assume every evil is a judgement.

God says that He sends good times and bad times (Isaiah), but we know the Satan also causes disaster (Job 1-2), that human beings have agency and can cause ourselves problems, and that this fallen world has certain weather patterns and genetic flaws that cause problems periodically.

Sin is behind all of it, but the direct cause is not a thing anyone can know without special revelation. I don’t claim to be that much of a prophet. Hindsight is usually how we can judge the effects of something.

The point I’m trying to make is, we can try to make sense of this, but in the long run, it’s less frustrating to just trust God with it. To do the best we can to help each other and not give our leaders trouble by disobeying them over little things, and not to panic.

Whether you’re a tinfoil that kind of guy, or just trying to get through this with your sanity intact, keep in mind that everything passes away. No disaster can last forever, and epidemics usually don’t last long in each location. It’s almost come full circle as it is. A few months, and hopefully this will be a memory for most of us.

Also, my condolences to anyone who has lost anyone to this disease. Death happens, but it’s never expected or normal feeling.

We all should be praying for those who have to work still, or who are old enough to be in danger.

Until next time, stay healthy–Natasha.

Healer:

White Guilt

Whoo, let’s just start the flame wars now.

JK, my followers aren’t like that…so far.

Actually, given how many international followers I have, I wonder if everyone even is familiar with the term White Guilt.

This is a term those of us in the USA who are white have for the feeling of shame associated with the actions of our ancestors, and with our many privileges we have allegedly because of our race.

While people of any other ethnicity claim that they really are worse off and we just don’t understand.

Now I’m taking a World History Class at my public college, and its predictably anti-European.

Not that anyone calls it that, they cal it “Fair and Balanced” “Telling the Real Story” “Coming at it from a different perspective” and not using “The European Narrative.”

Now, there are no really honest generalizations if you’re talking about individual views. The Narrative of history from a European perspective is no more biased than from any other, if you mean in general. If you want to talk about the individuals, than it becomes a matter of each person’s story. Our judgment shifts from national and global to biographical. That’s fine. It’s human nature to be more interested in personal stories than vague histories.

If you want to look at the spirit of the age, that’s another matter. Certainly some ages had a general cruelty to them, others a more general sense of justice. I’m not sure any country has even been overwhelmingly kind, as kindness is always an individual sort of virtue, but some have been more fair, less likely to condone horrible things.

What my point is is that the claim of the public schools, at least in my country, that our older history is slanted toward the Europeans, and therefore it’s inaccurate, is bogus.

Of course it is, and our modern way of telling it slants it against the Europeans and if favor of literally anyone else, no matter how corrupt they are.

For example, a real instance that happened last week in my class discussion. We talked about the Aztecs, an ancient Mesoamerican civilizations (meaning they lived in the general area that is now Mexico or Central America). During the discussion, my professor and classmates criticized the Spaniards for disrespecting the Aztec’s religion by saying its gods were evil for requiring human sacrifice.

A little more history about the Aztecs: They were conquerors in much the same way the Spanish were. They took over and absorbed other cultures around them, took slaves (something that the Spanish did not do at the time) and sacrificed them to their gods as part of their blood ritual religion. Regularly.

My professor and classmates showed no sign of horror at this abominable practice, and when I suggested it was wrong, and the Spanish were right to criticize it, my professor decided to bring up some troubling beliefs in Christianity, the religion of the Spanish at the time (and, I’m certain she had guessed, my own religion, as I wore a cross to make it obvious.)

It’s only fair to share her points. She said that part of Christianity is symbolically eating the body and blood of Christ (which is not human sacrifice, even if it sounds gross) and that Abraham was even willing to sacrifice his son Isaac.

She should have brought up the time Japhthah sacrificed his daughter. That would have been a much stronger case than the time when God stopped Abraham form doing it.

Now, even among the people Jesus said it to, the Sacrament was a pretty weird idea and a lot of his followers left over it. Peter said they would stay because Jesus had the Words of Life. Jesus later established that eating his body and blood was to be symbolic thing, using bread and wine. Common foods that rich and poor alike would be able to eat.

While I agree it’s a strange practice, you won’t find any real religion that doesn’t have bizarre practices. And most are real, not symbolic. In the Bible God forbids cannibalism and human sacrifice (not self sacrifice, however).  God does not contradict Himself. Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac was before God had commanded against it, and God prevented it from actually happening, then later forbids it to make ti clear that it was a test and not something to actually do as an act of worship.

The Holy Communion is one of many parts of Christianity that use symbolism to show spiritual truths. When you eat something it becomes part of you, Jesus is a part of all of us. We are his body, and his blood is for our healing, when we eat and drink the symbolism of it, it is showing our oneness with Christ. IT has nothing to do with cannibalism.

Much the same way the Bible refers to suffering and judgment as a cup, it uses eating and drinking to symbolize the nearness and intensity of an experience or connection, but the followers of Christ understood that it was a symbol. And anyone who confuses a symbol for a real thing is generally starting a cult.

Which brings me back to the Aztecs. They were not symbolically shedding blood, they were actually doing it. The Christians’ own religion is not one that condones this or anything like it, and my Professors using it as such displays her ignorance of it, not my or the Spaniard’s ignorance of history or our own religion.

Why would an intelligent woman, who does not seem unkind, and a class of the brightest students at the college (if Honor Roll means anything) not see that they are defending murder sanctioned by a corrupt religion?

Because in their own words, no one is really right or wrong, there is no black and white.

But just to be clear, it was the Europeans who were in the wrong. They make sure we know that.

White Guilt. This is where is starts. Actually, it starts in Elementary School, with the view of history that justifies everyone but the ancestors of  many of the kids learning it, not to mention our Founders who gave us the country where we have the freedom to question them and our current leaders alike.

No race or ethnicity is perfect. No nation is perfect. Most are not fair. Most have been or are currently cruel.

Human Government as a rule has to be harsher than the individuals in it, because human justice is damage control. Unlike the justice of God, it cannot fix anything permanently, it is simply trying to assuage some of the evils that every society has.

No matter where you live and at what time, some class or race of people is being treated unfairly. Oppressed, perhaps. Though oppression is a tricky word. If the person really has no choice, than sure, they are oppressed. But in the Western world and some of the Eastern wold too, people can choose to quit a job and look elsewhere, or get a divorce, or not marry at all, or move. Then oppression becomes more of a mentality.

We in the USA are taught to feel ashamed of our past, and to strive for a vague idea of equality that the people who promote it do not even understand how to achieve, except by calling the rest of us who dare to have a spine out for being bigots.

I try to stay away from politics in my posts, but this goes beyond politics. It affects relegation, people’s sense of culture, and self respect.

I find it revolting to apologize for being an American and being White. While I do have ancestry that dates back to the colonies, I also have ancestry that dates back only 3 generations in America. And my people are some of the most hated and oppressed worldwide that exist, maybe the most.

I went to a Black Church for 6 years of my life (they were mostly 1st or 2nd generation Americans, so they didn’t feel as awkward about the race thing). There’s people at my current church from Sri Lanka, Africa, China, and Latino America, plus white people.

So I hardly think it’s really a matter of skin color or background. It’s an attitude to feel guilty for something you didn’t do, and to feel like a victim for something that never happened to you.

White Guilt is ridiculous in more ways than one, because it puts all White people into a box. I’m technically white, I look White, but I’m Slavic, with some Scottish, people who were not really a huge part of the European Slave trade. I’ve got Irish too, they were shipped around as indentured servants right along with the Africans, treated badly also.

My point is, you can’t look at me and assume I or my ancestors had any part of slavery or racism. You can’t assume that we were privileged, as Irish and Scottish people were looked down on in America, and still are in Britain, had the worst jobs just like the Africans did, and on my other family side, my people were hated even more.

So White Guilt, as an idea, is just as racist as Racism against anyone else. It’s saying that because you’re white, you’re a perpetrator of these ideas, or you come from people who perpetrated them, and now you need to make it better.

In the end, if you look at history honestly, everyone sucks. Humanity is a mess.

“There is none righteous, no not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.” (Romans 3:10-11)

There’s Human Guilt, that’s all there is. No sense blaming it one any one group of people.

That’s all for now, until next time–Natasha.

A tree by its fruit: My reflection on past experiences with a church.

Well it’s been too long.

I got busy with finals and then I hit writer’s block.

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To be honest, I just didn’t feel like blogging about my thoughts and life because it’s been kind of rough lately.

Now I’ve started my new classes and things are a little better.

I was thinking about something today.

How the bible measures being Christlike.

Story time:

So, way back when my dad started making us all go to his church, which I hated, as part of his insistence on control of the household, he would always praise the pastor of said church because he had over 20 attempts on his life, and he’d been delivered from them all by the Lord.

This pastor had some amazing stories. It was impressive.

As a young teen, I supposed that this pastor must be a very godly man if he had continued on through all that and been protected miraculously.

And I am not one to judge how close someone really is to God. All I can say is that God sounds very different from a traditional African perspective (as that’s what the church was.) They are all about God’s judgment and hatred of sin, and his power and majesty in our lives.

I do appreciate a focus on the sovereignty of God, but I kept noticing, year after year, a  discrepancy between what they talked about, and what went on at the church.

The people were generous, and seemingly well off based on their clothes and cars, but there was always talk from the pastors about God showing them that gossip and dishonor was going on among the congregation. I never heard any of it, but I did witness a lot of inconsiderateness from the Sunday School, which I helped with. And I got in trouble for being disrespectful to the teachers. (Though I was mostly just exchanging looks with my sister that the teacher didn’t like, and they claimed I encouraged the kids to misbehave. Instead of it being their disorganized teaching style.)

The pastors claimed to hear the voice of God, and there were healings and spiritual manifestations on a regular basis, seemed like a great church in that way.

Yet I never felt at home, or really comfortable around the people. As a younger person I was expected to sit quietly and do whatever I was told. I didn’t appreciate being bossed around at the age of 15-17 by people who were not my parents, or teachers, and who I did not really know.

Finally it came to a head after I and my sisters had left the church officially, and the whole abusive situation with our dad has blown up into something too big to ignore. We went to his pastor, who we were angry at for telling him to come home when he has been going to leave it for a few days. Much needed solitude, we thought. Let him feel some consequences for his actions.

For some context, this had happened years before in one of m dad’s childish tantrums and in his desire to punish my mom, he had been going to move out of the house for a brief periods of time. He also told us girls that he was tired of getting no respect in our house. Our pastor came to the house to talk him out of it, and my mom into thinking she was partially at fault.

I remember she told me that my dad was upset that she didn’t try to stop him, but she hadn’t because she didn’t know “what else to give.” She had done he’d asked.

But of course, with both of them saying she was partly at fault, she went long with it.

Now,several years later, when we’d thought we were past this, Dad pulled it again, because it worked so beautifully last time.

Now that I have delved more into this, I realize my pastor should have seen a red flag in the fact that this same thing was happening, and my dad had no sense of irony about it.

Instead he did the same thing as before.

So, us girls took initiative and had a meeting with him. During which my sister said he’s handled it the wrong way, and we said he should not have given such advice without more information.

The pastor got angry when we said that. He felt he should be blameless in the matter and it was very serious for us to say he was in the wrong.

What got more alarming was we also told him about the physical abuse  and he said Dad had told him about it and repented… he told us with a smile on his face.

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I told him that dad had threatened me with violence since that time, (implying I doubted he had really seen the error of his ways), and he seemed unbothered by it. He asked what we wanted him to do to help.

It became clear, after a certain point, that he was not really getting it, and that he wasn’t going to. We settled for telling him not to counsel Dad to come home again if the situation repeated itself, but beyond that, we saw that we couldn’t rely on Pastor for back up.

I really hope reading this story you were shaking your head in disbelief and not thinking that this sounded about normal from your experience.

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But it was normal in my experience. My dad picked friends and a church that encouraged all his ideas of himself. The emotional manipulation he used on us was doubled down on by family friends, fellow believers, and we ourselves in our blindness to it.

I had one lady from the same church come up to me with no prelude, and start telling me to stop pulling the princess act with my father, and to respect him more, while he stood there smiling and nodding in a satisfied way. I stared at her in disbelief.

No one ever asked me my side of it. They assumed there wasn’t one. I don’t know why adults assume kids who are difficult to their parents are always just brats, I was not a rebellious kid in other ways. I was well behaved, polite, and there was no uncontrolled behavior.

Everyone judged me based on how I treated my dad, coldly. My dad had made it impossible for me to show him affection. If I ever tried, he turned it into a guilt trip. He was so unpleasant to me, I didn’t often feel like it, it was all I could do to hold back my biting words at his cruelty.

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My dad, even now, has tried to manipulate me again about the situation. But now, I have words for it. I tell people what was really going on. Not in great detail, but I tell them. It wasn’t my fault.

I haven’t spoken to anyone from that church since my dad moved out. I haven’t spoken to him either.

I now know kids at my current church who are kind of like me with their parents. In the past, I judged kids like that as having bad attitudes, because that’s what I was told, but now, I am starting to think twice about making assumptions.

Kids often know whether they are really, truly loved or not. The people who buy books trying to figure out how to love their kids or spouses either already do, or are doing it because they see they have an all around problem with relationships and want to figure out what it is.

I couldn’t get my dad to read a book like that, because he didn’t really love me.

I begin to think we just don’t give children enough credit. I saw the problems between my parents a decade before they did. I still see it more clearly.

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What the point of this was is that my pastor would have done well to be more humble. He was so concerned with being spiritual, he was not even really hearing us. In their culture, it seemed that situations like what happened to use were just assumed to be normal, and if the man just apologized we could move on.

Broken trust was not really understood.

But Jesus said, whoever wants to lead and be great among you must first be a servant. While 1 Corinthians 13 says that even if we can do miracles, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and can prophecy, if we have not love, we are nothing, we gain nothing, and nothing comes of it.

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It’s so crucial, yet it is so easy to forget. Love is what God measures our works by, not how many times we survive an attempt on our life, or how much we know about each other.

If we cannot have compassion on people who are suffering, and humility enough to know when we are wrong and need to change our opinion, than what good is our advice? Our knowledge.

I know people who can give you a textbook diagnosis of your problem but can’t hear  you out patiently to save their lives. Maybe you know someone like that too. Or maybe you are the person.

Hey, I’m argumentative, I know the acceptation to just talk about your perspective, but I am at least becoming aware of when i tend to do that, and how I can stop myself. So, I’m not judging, I’m just warning.

I also know now that people can think they are hearing God, and only be hearing what they expect to hear.

I am no expert on the voice of God, and that’s a topic for another time,  for now suffice it to say that it’s dangerous to assume someone knows what God wants, if they are not full of his kindness or care for other people.

You know a tree by its fruit. Jesus said that too.

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With that, I will conclude this post. Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.