Friday, April 26, 2013

Another spiritual pet peeve: folks supposedly "led by the spirit"

This morning I'm waiting to hear from God if I should attend the healing services our church is beginning. I think we should be as Biblical as possible. Which means we should follow exactly what the Book of James says to "call the elders of the church and they anoint with oil." 

There is nothing in the New Testament Bible that says we should call the pastor of the church or that the person giving the sermon that week should pray for healing. Elders is plural, and it means we should have at least two people and they should be deacons or the people who have been in the church the longest or older believers. Sister Evelyn, you, and Dr Randolph. 

The devil is very slick and he gets people to do church traditions instead of doing what the Bible says. When people say they aren't prayed up enough to pray for the sick...that makes my eyebrows kinda go UP. (Ah, the McDonnell wariness!) There is nothing in the Bible about having to be prayed up to pray for someone who is sick. Jesus is in us, the Holy Spirit is in us. It's not our "praying up" that heals a person but our willingness to be used by the Holy Spirit and our boldness to command. It's good if we've been praying and reading our Bible but if we haven't been praying, we should pray anyway. The Holy Spirit might be willing to heal the person. And I've seen a lot of people who were prayed up pray for people, yet they never got the person healed anyway. 

Two weeks ago, I asked someone in church if I could pray for her and she said, "Pastor said that if someone has prayed for you, then someone else shouldn't come up and pray after them." That's also totally new to me and totally Blackchurchy tradition. 

Yes, everything must be in order but this is a church tradition and there is not anything in the Bible about time limits between prayers.  If it's about the pastor or the prayer feeling that someone is taking credit away for his prayer or feeling that someone is making him look bad, then that's the pastor's problem and not a church problem if you just get one person to pray then another to pray then another to pray. One after the other in order. In the old testament, one person could pray for a person but in the New Testament a lot is done by the laying on of hands of the presbytery and by everyone praying at the same time.  1 Titus 4:14

That and the being "prayed up" enough to pray for someone's healing or the "you can't pray for a person if another person has already prayed for them." 

These are demonic in that they subtly stand in the way of God's commands. Although God may use people who don't exactly do as he commanded, these man-made traditions prevent people from doing the thing God has commanded. They actually forbid and get in the way of what God actually said.

Why not try to do healing services God's way? Who knows? All those folks who've been going to healing services sick as heck for ages might just get finally healed if we did exactly what God says.

The Book of James says, "IF anyone is sick, let them call for the elders of the church and let them pray." That's the command that God says WILL save the sick.

Maybe God doesn't want only one person praying for sick people. The Bible said, "go out two by two." Maybe God doesn't want church folks looking unto one person for their need for healing. Maybe God wants the deacons and elders to represent the entire church going against the illness. Maybe God just wants to heal people in the church through elders. Stephen healed a lot of people and he was an elder. 

But it seems to me that if the Bible says, "call the elders" and not "call the pastor" then we ought to do what God commands.  It's possible that that small change could get folks healed. Pastors who are used to being the center of everything get in the way of God's healing. People who can't pray for someone after another person has prayed get in the way of God. People who can't pray for a sick person unless they are prayed up get in the way of God. These are all demonic lies that go against the Bible but people see them as church traditions.

As Jesus said, "Your traditions have made the words of God to no effect." Mark 7:3-13

Book of Galatians. Paul said, "those who are under the law are under a curse." Also thinking of the Book of Romans. Either you're under the law of life of the Spirit of Christ Jesus or you're under the law of sin and death. Either Jesus does all the work in us everyday of holiness, praying, believing because the life we live we live by his faith and his righteousness. This is the power of Grace of Christ working within us.  Or we trust in our own prayer, our own faith, our own righteousness...which is the law...and which puts us back under the power of the law. We have to be careful that we don't think our prayers, our faith, our fastings, will do what God wants. 

The sickness in this small congregation amazes me. I'm thinking it's because of all the trusting in good behavior. Praying instead of letting the Lord within pray. Doing good and will-worship instead of letting one's righteousness come Christ's blood and from the Holy Spirit changing us. 

I don't care about little changes here and there. All denominations don't have to be alike but I won't go to a healing service if it's not done at least the way God commands us to do it. I've just been sick too long. 

Then there is the "special anointings" and "spirit-led" business. Seriously, some churches have reached a place where they just get weirdly emotional and base so much on some feeling the Holy Spirit has supposedly given them. 

I've just read too much of Christian History and am so involved in so many ministries such as Andrew Strom's John the Baptist Ministry  and Revival school that I get wary of churches that are too (so-called) spirit-led, especially when they do it at the expense of the Bible. 

From what I've seen, many times God is indeed leading His people by His Spirit. But at other times, there is a controlling spirit, a spirit of favortism, and a spirit that slowly leads people away from the Bible. As a people, we Christians are still very immature and we often cannot tell the difference between God's spirit, group/herd mind, and self-deception.

It reminds me of what happened once at a particular church. I asked the pastor to pray for a certain sister in Christ. Later, just before prayer time, another sister asked the pastor to pray for this same sister. The pastor had asked us at the beginning of the service to pray for her own daughter and two others. So there we were at the end of the service, and who does the pray for --despite two requests? Her daughter and the two others. Upshot? That sister who we asked the pastor to pray for ended up in the hospital the next week. Now, was that the pastor following God's leading? Or was that a pastor with certain people on her mind who couldn't see clear because she had her own motherly cares? 

I've seen this kind of thing done so many times in churches. And in larger churches, there ends up a bunch of people who are always being chosen, picked, prayed for, rebuked, being used, etc. I've seen people sick and sick as anything whom the "Lord" never seemed to notice or whom pastors never seemed to be "led" to pray for. 

After a while, this "being led" or this "someone must have a special anointing" to pray for someone habit leads to controlling. . .with pastors deciding (supposedly the Holy Spirit telling them) who to pray for and who not to. IT gets weird. I've seen it and this phenomenon is spoken about throughout church history. A really great book by Hannah Whitall Smith called The Unselfishness of God talks about how this worked in and hurt the Quaker movement. In addition, this tendency to go with "leadings" sometimes go at odds with the Bible. At first there is a working with the Bible, the Spirit, and man's unredeemed soul. But after a while  it's the Spirit and man's unredeemed soul without the Bible (because those who are led feel that the Bible is legalistic. Then after that, it's just man's unredeemed soul. The Quakers were the charismatics/pentecostals of their day. They started with only dealing with the Spirit then they slowly threw away the Bible. Nowadays, most Quakers are very New Age. 

Just my warning. I'm not legalistic at all. But I do think the Bible is a map. It shows us the hills, the pitfalls, the right road, the wrong ones.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On boy toys, woundedness and healing

There's a new Japanese drama out these days: Last Cinderella. I have an unsettled feeling about it. I can see the old cliches already, even in the first episode. I can see the Japanese drama tendency to preachiness and the desire to either affirm the status quo or to be all outre and trendy and turn the world upside down. I really don't want to watch this drama which will probably upset me except that... Miura Haruma is in it.

I know nothing about this guy. Unlike other Asian faves, he's a total blank to me and I can't say I've ever gotten a glimpse of his soul. He is merely beautiful and I have a horrible deep intense love for beautiful men. The love of the creature, alas. Enjoyment of beauty at its best, lust at its worst.

But there is something else. This guy enters my fantasy life. Oh, not some super duper passionate sex thing...but simply as a boy toy sitting beside me at fantasy conventions. A boy toy to affirm some part of me that apparently needs affirming.

What would having such a prize -- for that's what boy toys are, gnerally-- at my side? I'm not talking about a true may december love, although boy toys could be that as well. Love comes in all varieties. Or maybe I am. But with a boy toy, the thing is to be seen. One must be envied by those who have not thought of one as sexually viable. Is that it?

The desire to provoke jealousy. Here, look at me! Look at me!
I've seen this desire to provoke envy -- the desire to be seen as wonderful, glorious, whatever-- in some of my gay friends -- priests, lawyers, doctors, Indian chiefs. Would it heal the soul to finally be viewed as something great in the eyes of others?

I'm thinking of Tennessee Williams. Love that guy! He had what my friend Rodlyn Douglas had, what Jamaica Kincaid has, what Julien Green had, -- a fierce non-self-rationalizing morbid introspection -- self-examination to the most painful degree. When one reads his women -- sorry folks but it's true!-- one can see Tennessee's heart. Who can read The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone and not see an old Queen pondering his uselessness?

But as a writer back in the fifties, there is just so much truth Tennessee could write about himself? And fierce self-evisceration in one's stories is a brave thing to do in a world such as ours which does not reward honesty and where one must tell the truth slant, as Emily Dickinson says.

Nevertheless, the idea is blossoming in my heart of writing a short story about an older black woman writer who gets into a relationship with a young beautiful Japanese boy. Oh, it'll be painful if I am to be truly honest. I may write fantasies but I don't trust them. My love stories tend to be bittersweet, very bittersweet indeed.

And although the fantasy of the relationship could heal my soul in one way, I think a true exploration of the need to be affirmed --and theinadequacy of human fantasies to heal-- would be nearer healing. Nearer truth. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Seven Men and the Secret of Their Greatness

Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness  by Eric Metaxas

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595554696
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595554697

  • Here's the blurb:

    In Seven MenNew York Times best-selling author Eric Metaxas presents seven exquisitely crafted short portraits of widely known—but not well understood—Christian men, each of whom uniquely showcases a commitment to live by certain virtues in the truth of the gospel.
    Written in a beautiful and engaging style, Seven Men addresses what it means (or should mean) to be a man today, at a time when media and popular culture present images of masculinity that are not the picture presented in Scripture and historic civil life. What does it take to be a true exemplar as a father, brother, husband, leader, coach, counselor, change agent, and wise man? What does it mean to stand for honesty, courage, and charity, especially at times when the culture and the world run counter to those values?
    Each of the seven biographies represents the life of a man who experienced the struggles and challenges to be strong in the face of forces and circumstances that would have destroyed the resolve of lesser men. Each of the seven men profiled—George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, John Paul II, and Charles Colson—call the reader to a more elevated walk and lifestyle, one that embodies the gospel in the world around us.

    Thursday, April 04, 2013

    Pandora's Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal

    Pandora's Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal [Hardcover]

    Melanie Warner

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (February 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145166673X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451666731

  • Here's the Blurb:
    In the tradition of Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore’s Dilemma a fascinating and cutting-edge look at the scary truth about what really goes into our food.
    If a piece of individually wrapped cheese retains its shape, color, and texture for years, what does it say about the food we eat and feed our children? Former New York Times business reporter and mother Melanie Warner decided to explore that question when she observed the phenomenon of the indestructible cheese. She began an investigative journey that takes her to research labs, food science departments, and factories around the country. What she discovered provides a rare, eye-opening—and sometimes disturbing—account of what we’re really eating. Warner looks at how decades of food science have resulted in the cheapest, most abundant, most addictive, and most nutritionally devastating food in the world, and she uncovers startling evidence about the profound health implications of the packaged and fast foods that we eat on a daily basis.
    From breakfast cereal to chicken subs to nutrition bars, processed foods account for roughly 70 percent of our nation’s calories. Despite the growing presence of farmers’ markets and organic produce, strange food additives are nearly impossible to avoid. Combining meticulous research, vivid writing, and cultural analysis, Warner blows the lid off the largely undocumented—and lightly regulated—world of chemically treated and processed foods and lays bare the potential price we may pay for consuming even so-called “healthy” foods.

    About the Author

    Melanie Warner is a freelance writer for various publications, including The New York TimesFast Company, and She has spent the past fifteen years writing about business. For two years, she was a staff reporter for The New York Times covering the food industry. Before that, she spent seven years as a writer at Fortune magazine, where among other things, she wrote about the dot com boom in Silicon Valley. She lives in Colorado with her husband and two young boys.

    And here is the kindle version

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