There are several comments to the above linked article that are very good.
As for me, I have my reasons. They’re myriad and multifaceted and multiplying, to tell the truth.
Have you ever been in the middle of the crisis feeling anguish you can’t cope with and there are no answers and the friends you thought you could count on have left you in the ditch to rot and you just wish you could curl up in a dark place to pull more darkness and isolation over you so you could wither and die? That’s called despair.
And when people tell you that God never puts anything on you that you can’t handle does it stab you in the gut and leave you wanting to claw someone’s eyes out for being so insensitive and stupid?
Sound familiar? Been there. Let me tell you I love you and I understand. Get in touch if you want and we’ll talk if you need it. I won’t tell you that stupid platitude that is nothing more than, “Oh, come on. You can handle it. It can’t be that bad. You’re not a good Christian if you can’t handle it.”
Nonsense. Maybe in a couple of weeks I’ll tell you the story of the time God shattered me into into so many itty bitty pieces It’s hard to find the old me anymore. Almost 8 years ago… Another time perhaps.
A friend who has also seen some very hard times shared this blog post and it’s well worth sharing again and again.
God won’t give you more than you can handle. If I may be so bold, let’s just call that what it is:
The church-as-church paradigm is failing. Why?
I honestly think that nobody wants to grow up. As believers, we’re not designed to live a lifetime on spiritual milk. We need meat and vegetables and gravy and sweet cream and luscious pie and fish and corn on the cob and fried Okra and beans and cornbread and tomatoes and mashed taters with lots of fresh butter. And we need to be treasure hunting. It breaks my heart to know that we have pews and chairs loaded with adult Christians who come to church to be fed but they can’t open the Bible and cook a single thing in it for themselves. After a while the milk gets sour and doesn’t satisfy. How about a nice potroast?!
But if you teach your flock to feed themselves, they might start to think for themselves.
I’ve served with controlling and abusive pastors. Just yesterday something came to mind out of history and I saw it in a different light and as I was standing at the coffee maker I said to God, “He manipulated me!” The situation’s detail isn’t important. Suffice to say that 8 years later I’m still processing some aspects of it.
Abusive pastors can come in as many flavors and colors as you can dream up and though there are so many that are very gifted at being a servant to their congregation, I fear that the ones just needing a church job and the controllers and the users outnumber the good ones. Please God, let me be so very wrong.
My absolute best advice for any believer: Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you (there is one Teacher), open your Bible and read it. If you don’t understand it that’s okay. You’re not alone. If you’re utterly perplexed accept that you can’t know everything and move on. But keep reading and keep pondering and wondering and looking for Jesus in every single word. Don’t just believe because someone tells you something. Check it for yourself. If you don’t know where to start, try the books of John,, Matthew, Romans, Hebrews, Galatians, and Ephesians to start with.
Earlier I shared about abusive pastors and how to spot them. Let’s get into a little more detail with a blog post I really enjoyed reading. It’s honest and candid, and it speaks to what a “pastor” should be.
“Do you want to be out of a job?” he replied.
I had wanted to post something deep, something profound, something so earth-shattering everyone would be weeping by the second sentence. But, Migraine. ‘Nuff said. So, here’s a reminder.
Click —> NO ROCKS!!! Especially a Pet Rock!
This may turn into a saga. And up front, I want your feedback and I want lots of it. This is a difficult post emotionally, theologically, eschatologically. I can only relate my own opinions and impressions. The Holy Spirit speaks to us uniquely as a body of individuals and as individuals trying to fit into His body a little better. There are concrete boundaries and concepts we all agree on, but individual tidbits touch us all individually. End of prologue.
This started a long time ago in a …. nevermind that cliche, and it recently started stirring in my mind after a hyper-minister posted to a friend’s thread something very legalistic and quoted Jesus where he said, “Go and sin no more.” Let’s go there.
And standing up and seeing no one but the woman, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
(John 8:10-11 EMTV)
This woman had just been caught in adultery, dragged out of her house (or her “friend’s” house) and to the Temple for trial and she was about to be killed by stoning. There were plenty of witnesses and everyone knew what she was. A trial was cursory. If you want to back up and read the whole story, please do. I need to move on ahead.
“Go, and from now on do not sin.”
I wish I had ten bucks for every time I’ve heard that particular Axe fall. Have you ever watched someone’s face- someone who is struggling with ongoing failures and sin- and they have a friend shoot that arrow straight into the heart? You see hope and Life drain out of their eyes. “Who of you, if your son asks you for a fish would give him a snake?” Don’t get me wrong, if someone is deliberately living what they know to be wrong, point it out and offer them some help at correcting it. But don’t shoot them. And keep in mind, you and I have probably done far worse.
Speaking of fish, every fish needs a tail. Let’s back up a bit and go look at a nice tail. For that, we need a chunk of scripture.
John 5:2-14 ISV Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem is a pool called Bethesda in Hebrew. It has five colonnades, (3) and under these a large number of sick people were lying—blind, lame, or paralyzed—waiting for the movement of the water. (4) At certain times an angel of the Lord would go down into the pool and stir up the water, and whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. (5) One particular man was there who had been ill for 38 years. (6) When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (7) The sick man answered him, “Sir, I don’t have anyone to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I’m trying to get there, someone else steps down ahead of me.” (8) Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” (9) The man immediately became well, and he picked up his mat and started walking. Now that day was a Sabbath. (10) So the Jews told the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat. (11) But he answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.'” (12) They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Pick it up and walk’?” (13) But the one who had been healed did not know who it was, because Jesus had slipped away from the crowd in that place. (14) Later on, Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “See, you have become well. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
There it is again. Don’t sin anymore. But notice the reason why, “or something worse may happen to you.” We’ll come back to this in a moment.
Can of worms: In these two pieces of scripture can I honestly derive a command to me personally to not ever sin again or Jesus is going to make my car’s engine stall in the middle of nowhere when it’s -17F outside? Do I seriously think if you pick up a quarter from the church parking lot and put it in your pocket to spend at the car wash instead of taking it to the police like you’re supposed to then God is going to give away the PIN number to your debit card so some creep in China can drain your bank account? I’ve heard those types of inferences many times, and from devout Biblethumptarians. No, I don’t take them very seriously. Yes, God uses all circumstances to His glory, but I honestly don’t believe that God’s finished work includes his sitting with his window on the world and passing out sin citations and deciding what the fine will be.
But I’ve lived that way.
What do I think? I think we need to take Jesus literally here. Don’t sin. Sin bad. Sin leads to pain every time. Stop sinning or you may really get hurt, again. Do not go take fifty bucks cash and go “party” with anyone because you could catch all sorts of stuff. If you go to that party and leave with an extra going away present for later, who decided to give it to you, you or God? You walked in there on your own and asked for it. Be sure you tell the doctor it was your fault when he writes the prescription.
Does God wreck marriages over pornography? Does Jesus kill smokers and drinkers? Does God infect people with HIV for revenge? No. We make those choices. God is the one who arranged for forgiveness, redemption, restoration, and healing of the soul. He uses those things, but he is not the cause. And why does he let things like that happen? You’re made in his image, why not go ask a mirror the same question. Seriously, go ask the mirror why it lets bad things happen. I’ll let you think a while on that one.
If you were perfectly Holy, would you let you make your own mistakes and then be there to help you through it and out of it, or would you drop a piano on you for one little thing? And what if you’ve accepted the work of redemption done by Christ? if you’re already forgiven, WHY would God need to drop a safe on you?
Let’s stop there for now and call this Part One. I’ll go make sure the piano and safe are tied up well, just in case. I have to go catch the worms that got out.