Thursday, February 5, 2015

Will The Real Church Of Christ Please Stand Up

Immersed In Culture
Or, Not.

On my dying church that wants to see its Two Hundredth Birthday in 90+/- years (two posts back):

FLT To The Rescue Again

May There Be Springs In My Desert

Pretty sure it was Nancy Leigh DeMoss whose interview on Family Life Today radio finally started my recovery ball rolling.

It was a typical weekday morning, immersed in my 1.5 hrs of Christian radio tuned to FLT, Focus on the Family, and more recently, My Family Talk, hoping against hope that something might stick to my needy, doubting soul.  I know that actually reading and meditating on scripture every morning is the preferred means by which saved sinners experience sanctification, a discipline others seem to excel at;

but it has never won me much.  Dyslexic? Yes. Floaters in one eye? Big ones. Hard to breath? Asthma makes it hard to sit still, so I like to keep moving.

No, reading is not my strong suit. Tried Bible On Tape, but the readers were Monotone. Or overly eager actors with bad British accents.

So this female speaker-whomever-she-was, Nancy L. or someone else, recounted her discipline of praying daily forgiveness toward her offenders. This took me aback like a rear-ender spawns whiplash.  It produced a shocking thought: there's someone else who gets offended nearly every day, too?

It was relief to my soul to hear that I was not the only one on the planet collecting offenses and feeling miserable about it.  Now, I'm sure she doesn't go around pissing people off the way I seem to, yet, imagine someone godly enough to be invited onto the "Dennis and Bob Show" (FLT-Rainey/Lapine) who yet admits to bitterness and pain from flawed people.

She recounted how she and her husband would kneel together each night, and one by one, confess any bitterness over each offense and --here's the kicker-- release the offender.

Just release them, as in Forgive. And then go on. A one-and-done, systematic and clinical.

- - - - - - - -

Used to praying with my husband most nights, it would be simple enough to try this practice out, but praying THIS deeply would be a challenge. Our prayers had obviously been pretty shallow up to that point.

I tried it a few times, but it became so obvious that I was nursing my wounds rather than releasing them.  Mostly I'd just cry. Good old husband of mine. He just listens and endures my female tendancy to enjoy bitterness.

(It was slightly maddening that, in the years following, he would barely remember my litanies of pain if one came up later. He is too much a genius at forgetting.

Why don't men luxuriate in bitterness? Is resentment a female-only trait?)

It "hit me" last week, the reason why his premarital moral shortcomings were a non-issue with him, while mine have plagued and provoked these long 30 years. He was prayed over by and with his former college pastor and all his brother buddies in the days leading up to our pregnant wedding. They formed a man-circle and held a man-confessional. And never thought about it again. Now there's a one-and-done.


He sort of forgot that his besmirched girlfriend might benefit from a similar cleansing. Oh, there's another post for yet another, other, other day...

- - - - - - - - -

Back to more recent female choke holds.
Since one particular resentment went deeper than the rest, I made the name of the perpetrator into a computer-desktop password, and each time I'd turn on the computer I'd type it in, praying for her, letter by letter-by-slowly-plunked-out letter.

In a few years, the bile subsided and she was no longer the boogieman.  Galatians 6* began to make sense. It says I create my own destruction by withholding forgiveness. What I sow to my flesh in un-forgiveness, I reap to my flesh in self loathing and constant complaining; all the while making myself into my own version of a demigod, meting out my own justice (bile) rather than leaving it in God's hands where it belongs.

By now, too, my girls were in prayer for me. Adult children are such a boon.

The part that is kind of a stretch is the part where I'm called to replace a snub from a "sister in Christ" with an appropriate, biblically KIND thought.  The Beth Moore Breaking Free Bible Study came in handy here. The daughters went through it about the same time I did.

Apparently, those of us who take snubs to heart are the ones who do not have a grasp of who we are in Christ: we are supposed to see ourselves as his Beloved, His Precious Ones. . .  Those thoughts are more given to those from the Selfie generation. I do not take Selfies. I do not think of myself as God's gift to the world.  Beth Moore would have quite a time with me.

Then there are the "Pastor Blobs" of my fundamentalist past, who have driven jet black opinions deeply downward in indelible ink, their poison ever creeping though the crevasses of my already crumpled, paper thin soul and psyche, tainting me as a . . .

.Jezebel, whore,  non-Christian, unforgivable piece of "...."

I've sought counseling some twenty times.

At last count, we'd spent thousands on introductory $essions with various attempted "therapists," yet n'one was ever good enough to match my TV-brained expectations of professional brilliance:  I wanted a morph of every Hollywood portrayal of Anti-Freudian perfection:  Sybil's Dr. Wilber (Joanne Woodward);  The Kid, Russ Duritz' Dr. Alexander (Dana Ivey); Good Will Hunting's Sean Maguire (Robin Williams!); and Conrad Jarrett's Dr. Berger (Judd Hirsch! in Ordinary People).

I've stopped looking.

By God's grace and the gift of a patient husband, I am slowly climbing a forgiveness ladder toward reality.  We still pray together semi-daily. I am trying to oil paint again. We have settled into a church after two years of rest from Sunday Sparring. There are two Celebrate Recovery groups in town. I walk 3 miles 2x/week. . .

. . . And, a most important development,

 I've switched from an asthma med that may have been a major culprit behind my spiraling depression these past ten+ years:  If you know anyone using a daily inhaler for their COPD, especially children, ask them if they're on Q-Var, and if so, to carefully read their RX insert. It could mean the difference between life and death.)

Life ( deep, slightly congested breath) really can be good again. If a little wheezy.

Sad to leave Q-Var behind. It really did the best job.

* my main motivation to forgive is obviously selfish here. I'll master Colossians 3:13 later.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

How To End A Grand Hundred Year Run

Once upon a long time ago, a man, his wife and their two bebés entered a big, beautiful baptist church after relocating ninety minutes north of their San Diego love nest. The attendees in that sixties vintage sanctuary were warm and welcoming; the teaching was sound; the location too perfect; the parking was easy; an invite to the MOMs group was immediate; the nursery, mostly clean. While unremarkable, the music was sweet sounding, and now and then, a soloist seemed to call down the angels.

Best of all, the pastor was not one of those yelling pulpit pounders whose misguided pomposity makes it impossible to invite neighbors and friends.

That man and his wife are us. We loved this church, and imagined our kids' weddings there, and even our funerals, too, so sure were we that we'd found the perfect spiritual ground zero.

So, we stayed, and our family grew by one. We made a few friends, invited a few neighbors, and some in-laws even joined us once; and we half-read our Bibles and tryTryTried to pray everyday so we might growGrowGrO.

But I learned quickly not to question leadership. A first conflict surfaced over birth control. Certain that God calls Christians to trust Him regarding how many children to "have," I asked a leader at a dinner party what she thought.  Controversy is a No-No, she said; the topic was way too dangerous for the pastor to take a stand on, and he wouldn't "go there."  Hmm.

- - - - - - - - -

Our years there were marked by where we sat each Sunday: twenty two years of dotting that big theatre-style sanctuary with our bottoms firmly planted in the worn, squeaky (and somewhat painful) seats until, by the end of the last decade we had migrated around to that far front section on the far left side.

And there in front of us, nearly always seated two or three rows ahead, would be Chris and Lindsay. Her smile was warm, her loving ways so amazing, her generous spirit always evident, and Chris had a heart to match. They made you sure that God did indeed intersect with this fallen world in real and immediate ways... unlike my world, where the intersections had clogged a bit, and I just couldn't quite figure out why. But that's for another day.

Meanwhile, Chris composed, sang and lead worship.

Now and then, we would slide a few dollars under their door, or send something by mail, always anonymously, and always troubled by just a little "sweat" over not knowing if the mailman might lose it, or if their dog would accidentally eat it.

In the interim, a few pastors came and went amidst some rumblings about why; and then all seemed well enough again, so that one never inquired as to details, as that would be stooping to gossip.

Somewhere in the mix came a 100 Year Anniversary of the big beautiful baptist church, and all seemed airtight and locked in for another good 100 year run.

But that was before the terrible 2000's started to disintegrate everyone and everything in a strange and unforeseen way that took our prized little faith nest and mitigated it one trial at a time.

Looking back, I now see how every few years a tinge of subtle dysfunction seemed to work a little leaven --both mine and theirs-- into the once fresh loaf until eventually, everyone was blindly preferring flat, tasteless melba toast because the fresh loaf had soured.  I want to say it started with the move in the late nineties to remove "Baptist" from the church name and signage, and no one batted an eye. Doctrinal compromises crept in, sure, but in refusing to face them, it was mistreatment of the laity that finally brought this church down.

Meanwhile, from my vantage point, I had long before detached from the leadership.

...There was a pastor I like to call Mr. Pottery Barn, who advised my Missions bound middle child to put off her foreign missions plans in order to pursue a post-graduate degree, and now her huge student debt prevents any thought of her leaving; and surely the same man was joking when he said he wouldn't take my son to "share" Christ at our local café because he didn't like the coffee there... only he wasn't joking. Actually, no pastor I knew practiced evangelism; and the last time I saw him, PBMan was in a bar sucking down a frosty beer with their latest Late-Great Pastor. . . Then, there's the beset, sort-of Men's Minister who seemed so aggrieved and passive, and who answered one phone call once; and the frownie support staff couple who started a (not very baptist) brewery; and that high school retreat after which my son announced that his "youth pastor said" to strut around the house in his underwear, sporting a G-Unit baseball cap, because now it meant 'GodUnit', and I would just have to get over it. And I recall a Jr.High overnighter where the kids gorged on candy, ran around 'till exhausted, maybe slept, and then went home in the morning with nary a devotional reading, teaching, or prayer, nor anything redeeming that might distinguish the event from a Boys&GirlsClub slumber party, and never mind that our chronically ill child gave away her sleeping bag and slept on the unheated floor with no covers, and was now feeling sick.  Don't forget that Children's Ministry Director who accused me of stealing classroom scissors, possibly because I caught her sneaking the donated Harvest Festival candy she desperately begged everyone to donate... Worst of all, the scary looks I'd get from one pastor's wife (and her best friend), whose offhand comments about how good looking her husband is just came out of nowhere one day.

I began overtly avoiding them in order to preserve what little sanity remained by 2010...

This sounds petty, sure, because I'm trying to keep it light; but so much more could be penned.  I can recall with pin point precision three ornery run-ins that, upon reflection, only belong in the pages of a Stephen King novel. [My job, as one poor in spirit yet desperately in want of recovery, is to render Mr. King's diabolicals into harmless Jan Karon caricatures.  A work this blog may well facilitate.]

At one time, unaware of all of this, dear hubster thought about leaving, but didn't, though I was way passed my expiration date. Then, suddenly, a crisis at home and a counselor telling me we should move; and now, three years later, we are scratching our heads and wondering what just happened? 

But that's for another day.

- - - - - - - - -

Through it all, there were Chris and Lindsey, loving the lost and the lonely, serving in whatever capacity they were asked, and rising above the fray. Even after the elders fired them. The practice of tucking away all the many offenses seemed to be working alright for them!

I have it on good authority that the church is in tatters, though Chris and Lindsay are now back, and the place is being held together by Chris and Lindsay glue, the only kind that can work in dire times like these, because it is the authentic love of The Saviour that animates them.

And we wonder how it will proceed without addressing the clear need for a declaration of repentance posted prominently on their website:

"We the remnant staff of this OnceUponATime love nest of Ground Zeroness, 
do hereby profess that we are aggrieved by the trespasses of our forebears 
and hereby repent, on their behalf, for all the shenanigans, rudenesses, 
unkindnesses and unforgiveness delivered to a laity who deserved only the 
love of The Risen Christ..." 

and then hold a mass foot washing to help salve and bind the wounds.

- - - - - - - - -

And maybe a few more firings, like the pastor who wouldn't release my husband from a duty until after Focus On The Family counselor intervened, and an elder board of Pottery Barn co-dependents who seem to think hipsterism and designer office decor are godly virtues qualifying them for promotion.

But what do I know?

I am an insane ex-Christian who only ever just wanted to read my Bible and pray every day so I'd growGrowGrO. But Old Deluder Satan found that I have a secret fondness for alcohol, and that, with a little help, I'd come around to agreeing with my n0-longer-baptist elders that it's good to drink away your sorrows when the mean looks start to frighten (and now you've at long last something in common with the Frownie Staff Couple).

Well, at least my son threw away his gangster hat. But wait. Was that before or after he wrapped his truck around a tree after a night out drinking with his band of Eagle Scouts?  All that to say, Once Upon A Time, we thought a big beautiful baptist church was the answer to our prayers. And that the BSA was a hedge against delinquency.

Oh, Jesus. Why did it take so long to find out how superficial "big" and "beautiful" are; and how void a denominational tradition is when it lacks the Chris and Lindsay glue that is You. Just Pure You.

I am again a seeker. Where will He be found? Somewhere there's a Beth Moore counseling department standing ready to hear my weak hearted confessions.

And where no child receives Gangster hats and Jockey briefs in the name of discipleship training. Please.

Galatians 6:8 (YLT) ...because he who is sowing to his own flesh, of the flesh shall reap corruption; and he who is sowing to the Spirit, of the Spirit shall reap life.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lies, Lies, Lies

Pastor Blob, Smiling. 
Lifted From A Northern CA Baptist Church Website

Well, true. It most definitely is not charitable to refer to the gentleman above as Mr. Blob.  May I postulate that charity is one sanctification that, for now, remains just beyond my wretched reach? Doesn't help that my husband joins me in using this jaunty label. Might even be the one who invented it.

I dedicated this blog when it first launched to "finally putting Christ at The Bottom." That meant that I would try to come to terms with Truth that is really true, that is TRULY Jesus; and commit to an exploration of how any lesser priority leads to frustration, deception and self-rejection for the Believer; and damnation for the non-believer.

The outworking of that simple goal has been to realize that I've been stewing in lies. A dark and murky swirl of them, where self-idolatry and the opinions of others matter more than raw honesty over where our identity comes from.

All recovery programs call that stewy pit by the same name: Denial.

Opening my spiritual eyes to this has been a hard won discovery, but the journey that lead me to it enabled me to see that the 'mere man' pictured above has actually been a guest in my pit. More than a fellow liar, though, he has been the "foundation" of who I considered myself to be. He's been my deafening accuser.

Blob was "at the bottom," and not Christ at all.

I've been sidetracked by this accuser since his misfired ego wagged at me in 1986 and since that woeful evening, I've allowed him to remain a near constant presence. Some misguided voice inside demanded that I endure his accusations; and for some dysfunctional reason I all too obediently obliged, paying heed to his berating belittling most days, into every week and through each year and decade.  When you're raised Catholic, you learn that authority is never questioned.  Leaders are always right.

Someday I'll tell the story of how he became stuck in my craw, a force to be reckoned with for three  insufferable decades, but first, hear the main point of my discovery:

At the bottom of every pathology, every crazy making habit, 
every mysterious compulsion or misbehavior, 
there is ultimately some lie or lies we've subtly believed, 
either knowingly or unknowingly.

And my lie was this: Pastor Blob is a god, his opinion of me mattered, and forgiveness in Christ does not extend to those who are disgraced by a pastor whose authority loathed your sullied past.


LORD Christ, my Saviour, Redeemer, Deliverer,  I repent of making a mere man into an idol whose tormenting judgement and Dallas Theological Seminary credentials condemned me to three decades of self loathing, bitterness and scorn.

Wherever he is, bless him with the knowledge that his misdeeds no longer curse at least one of his victims.

And may I someday learn that the witnesses who stood there when he let fly his thoughtless remarks did indeed come to my defense and put him in his place.  Something tells me they did, as shortly after that tormenting day, a year or so after we moved away, he was fired and the church simply fizzled. Poof! Gone into the abyss.

Thankfully, we had a face saving excuse for leaving. My husband changed jobs and moved us two hours north.

But, OH, how relieved I was to hear the man was no longer a threat to my beloved beachside town.

And how revived I am now, finally, to feel relief from the relieving.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sex Talk

Another salute to FAMILYLIFE.COM:

By definition, all marriages are broken, because every human institution suffers under the frail realities of The Fall; and how much more so in the age of the The Madonna/Miley Bra (or lack thereof), Victoria'sSecret assaults, and the Internet porn invasion, where both sexes are lured into the lurid on an hourly, if not minute by minute basis.

But it's finally getting easier to hear sound teaching on sex, to comprehend God's purpose for it, and to implement that understanding into our childrearing and marriages.  Between Focus on The Family (Jim Daley), My Family Talk (James Dobson) and Family Life Today (Dennis Rainey), my favorite is the latter, where I've heard more solid sex teaching in the last 2 years than in the previous two decades put together. Thank you, God, for good old radio talk show hosts who know how to let down their guard and posit good natured, jovial banter in the service of Christ and HIS Body.

Imagine the misery of raising kids in the hellish 60's-70's, before the advent of Bold Christian Radio offered seekers "Help For Today, Hope for Tomorrow..."

Worse yet, imagine my own poor children being raised in 90's by a mom who suffered to grow up in the miserable 60's and 70's. My Poooor Babies!

Never fear, HELP is near.

Look Up, and hear today and tomorrow's broadcast boil down the essentials of making peace in bed. . . and in my head.

twitter: @familylife
6/26 The Place of Your Pleasure - Sex and Money with on FamilyLife Today

Wednesday, November 6, 2013




OF COURSE my credit card beef with Barclay's was my fault. We should never have accrued an unpaid balance in the first place.  When this beef BLEW back in 2008, I hid the ugly battle from the innocence of children who, at the time, were all living at home and hearing the "debt free" mantra so loudly that our blatant contradiction had to be kept under wraps.  Why did Mr. Man use an Apple Juniper Credit Card to purchase our 2003 iMac? I do not know. For SHAME.

By January of 2008, there was another balance on that card, and minutes before the midnight payment deadline, I was skittering to pay by phone. Their system proved perplexing, as the automated voice at the Barclays end was incomprehensible, but happily, they offered a real person option to complete their electronic check procedure.

THE real person customer service agent was a clever "Michelle." Confident, emphatic, very reassuring. I believed her every word.  I explained that I feared I'd mistakenly entered the routing number of my check rather than my account number, but she assured me the payment had gone through, and that I had nothing to worry about.

Of course, it did not go through. To make matters worse, we did not have the internet at home, so when hubster tried to double check the account from his work Monday morning, their website for some strange reason would not allow access to our statement! He made a payment anyway, just in case, but it didn't matter. A fine was levied. It was a day late.

I PROTESTED. I filed appeals. I made calls and wrote letters.

What I did NOT DO was pay their fine.

I WAS adamant that I owed them nothing beyond my monthly payment and that they owed me an apology for the headache brought on by the Oh-So-Clever Michelle. Nevermind that I was too stupid to know the difference between an account number and a routing number. Such idiocy was unforgivable and they were incalcitrant. Stupid people unfortunate enough to fall into the lair of Michelle do not deserve mercy.

I folded my denied appeal letters into a manilla folder and stuffed it into the banking drawer of the file cabinet, trying not to spit whenever it crossed my path.  Then came a credit check during a 2012 home loan pre-approval process. It revealed that Barclays Bank had downgraded our nearly perfect credit rating due to a "pattern of late payments." Seriously.


THANK YOU Jim Puzzanghera. If not for your June 19, 2012 story detailing the process by which aggrieved bank customers can aire their fraud complaints, I would still be spitting nails when I do my monthly filing. I read his BUSINESS SECTION article, followed directions, and in less than a month,  received something CIVILIZED from Barclays. Barely.  They threw me a small bone, but it was SOMETHING.

Breathe. After four years of queasy spitting, I could finally BREATHE, even though all they agreed to do was reverse their credit ding. I didn't get my $35 back because "their records don't go back that far" and they couldn't prove I wasn't lying. Holy Sheissa. A credit card company's records don't go back four years? Someone tell the IRS.

WELL, Mr. Puzzanghera, if the Courts should find that my aggrieved state deserves a billion or two for pain and suffering out of all those zillion$ in fines flying around between aggrieved plaintiff governments of the western world [ ] and Barclays (and JPMorgan, and Lehman Bros, and...!), I promise to share a few hundred million with you.  Even if you are a demon democrat. Oh crap. I didn't just say that. Oops. Yes I did. [ ]

JOURNALISTS rock. Thank you, L.A. Times.

A Humbled Republican... who's really more of an independent. Seriously.


Monday, July 22, 2013

News That Was Not News,9171,2059604-2,00.html *

It would seem that a movement bent upon earning the acceptance of the rest of the world would be monitored by that world, and irregular findings reported in upfront fashion. Kudos to Time Magazine, then, for plainly revealing the soul of sexual excess in this Dan Savage quote from an interview in 2011:

"We talk about love in a way that is very unrealistic: "If you're in love, you're not going to want to have sex with anyone else but that person." That's not true.  We need to acknowledge that truth so that people don't have to spend 40 years of marriage lying to and policing each other."

The facts have been on the table for decades that the hmsxl lifestyle is not about monogamy; rather, that it's plainly about camouflage.  Getting those facts officially recognized has proven impossible in a media driven culture.

Witness the day I phoned a radio talk show hosted by Larry Mantle of KPCC in Pasadena. I read from a report listing a litany of disease statistics exclusive to the hmsxl community revealing epidemic levels of hepatitis, STD's, intestinal diseases, mental illness, yadayada.

Mr. Mantle hung up on me.

I was not only cut off mid-sentence (that's typically called 'censorship,' yet, who am I to judge, being a biased witness...), but I'm pretty sure my phone # was blocked, as all subsequent attempts to phone in to Mr. Mantle's show proved unsuccessful; I mean, I didn't just get a busy signal, I got rolled over to a dial tone.

My point? The dusting of respectability given the hmsxl movement by our media gatekeepers is not evil simply because they're withholding truth. It is beyond evil because it promotes behaviour that is truly a medically established deathstyle.

I implore Mr. Mantle and the TV networks to report truthfully in future, to stop glamorizing a lifestyle that defies basic human biologic function, and "acknowledge truth" that, for the average hmsxl, in-your-face promiscuity is actually the norm, and monogamy is, for the most part, a charade.

The in-our-faces acknowledgment that monogamous man-woman marriage is "in peril" does not justify promoting the very behaviour that contributes to that peril. Normalizing sex outside the bounds of the marriage commitment does not a secure culture make. Does not a secure family make. Does not a sound man or woman make. Yet the fiscal lives of most media moguls depend upon that peril.

Where is media coverage of Marriage Encounter, Love Won Out  or  Family Life Today Seminars?

Our attendance at seminars by has made a good sized dent in my all-too-human propensity to live myopically for myself, and has guided my husband's determination to deny himself the sexual gratification served up by every F-ING network and cableTV outlet, magazine, catalog and department store advertisement EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY. My husband is my HERO for withstanding, mostly, such chronic onslaught. When his fight wavers, he has men in his life who hold him accountable; and we have methods in place whereby our marriage is guarded and my expectations are kept in check. Because we all agree, there is not one man on the planet for whom sexual temptation is not a daily reality.

FLT's marriage seminars affirm and encourage mature adult commitments based on self denial, and confront the hedonism of Mr. Savage's sex column and the hmsxl movement's mantra of feel-good impulsivity. They've REVISITED & UNVEILED THE OLD DEFINITION of manhood: one where sacrifice, self-discipline, the courage to say what no one else is saying, and a personal commitment to hammer out virtue over vice can win the day; where, in the battle of the mind, positing a Christ centered marriage can actually buffet the sex drive. A Real Man say's no to his sexual fantasies and honors his commitment to make his wife the sole object of his lifelong passions.

Once upon a time, it was the FCC's mandate to do guard our culture. How stupid was that. Never trust a government bureaucracy to do a Real Man - man's job.

I join Family Life Today in calling out REAL MEN who will defy the new "norm" and reject a culture of "go along to get along."  To step up and speak out against media trespasses.  And to teach their daughters and sons that the vices portrayed in nearly every music lyric and video come with an abhorrent deathstyle price tag.

Maybe the good folks at are dreamers; but OH how good it feels to dream. Hope is born of such things.

And hope is just what we need most right now.

(*Were I not in the thick of battle with depression right now, I would stop and pray for Mr. Savage.  Maybe you who are reading this will help a lame blogger and do it for me.

I guess the need of the day is prayer for us all. Recognizing the terminal end of an entire culture because truth has been exchanged for lies doesn't permit me to minimize the dignity of every individual within that sphere.  Every friend I've known who lives out a cohabiting lifestyle or hmsxl world view has suffered indignity and shame at the hands of some.  For that I repent.  I appeal to my conservative world to give every individual the respect and honor due them as a child of God worthy of the grace and love we all crave at the foot of the cross, while still recognizing the boundaries of good judgement... )

Update: On tolerating intolerance - or, not:   Thurs. December 12, 2013/