Sunday, July 22, 2012

'I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else.' says my church

Luke 18:11 Seems to be the attitude of my church.

As I have mentioned I am in the middle of a project to live in faith. It was going really well, I was feeling happy and balanced and I felt like I was making some real progress in my efforts to be more forgiving and getting rid of all that anger I have stored up inside of me from all the times I have been hurt by other Christians. Then I stopped praying every day and I started getting angry again and stopped being productive. During the time I was praying every day I was able to keep my house clean for the first time in my life. I read a ton and not just the Bible either. I started writing a novel and got to 30,000 words. 

Then I stopped and my house went to hell in a hand basket, and I have harder and harder time working on my novel. So here I am feeling like my experiment was successful and I want to go back to it. The worse side is now I really cannot stand my church. I had been avoiding going so I won’t  get triggered but today I had to go to the service and the guy preaching was the dude who keeps contradicting himself and I really have no idea if I disagree with him or not. It is infuriating. One moment he says all the rules of the Old Testament are still one hundred percent valid and should be followed and we cannot pick and choose, like the liberal Christians. Then the says we need discernment in knowing which rules to follow and goes on to explain how the rules are still valid. Is it just me or is there something missing? The worst part is this is exactly what he preaches every time he gets in the pulpit. He also says some of the most insulting things. He implies Muslims are evil, instead of just misinformed. There is a huge difference there, one is okay to say in a church and can be said with love, the other is not okay and has no love in it. Also when the tsunami happened in Japan he said it took place because there was so much idol worship there.

He is not the only one who says these things in service. Last week I did not go but a guy preached on how HIV was a punishment from God for immorality. I cannot bear this. I just cannot seem to gain anything of spiritual value from majority of the sermons at my church. There are a few people who preach and they are good but when there are just as many a**holes up there it just does not seem worth it. I have very few other churches available to me and the morning service in Finnish is just as bad. The last sermon that was delivered by the regular pastor was on the homosexual agenda.

Then I saw this posted on my church’s facebook group (presented in its original form all spelling and grammar original):
Dear friends and prayer partners in Christ vineyard,

This is very sad news, but I have to tell you about it. On August 2nd homosexualists want to organise the gay parade in Jerusalem. When I got this info my heart was so sad! How can it be in Jerusalem – the holy city of King of Kings?! Our role is to be high priest and to prepare the way for returning of the King of Glory!

If you are jealous for Jerusalem and the atmosphere in the Holy city please join us in the prayer for Jerusalem! We are going to meet on July 23 in the evening at 19.00 in the center of Jerusalem. I have some info about where the gay parade was pland to be (in which streets). We can walk the same streets and pray and proclaim the word of God and to devote these streets to God that unclean spirit can not touch this land and holy city! We are called to stay in the gap for Jerusalem not only in the physical world, but also in the spiritual world. It doesn’t matter which language you speak, but if you live in Jerusalem or other cities of Israel you are welcome to come and join us!

Our role as the high priest is to pray also for forgiveness of these people, who are homosexualists, and to confess their sins before God, because our war is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph.6:12) And more that this, we have special authority from God to do it! "Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you (Lk.10:19).

You can invite your friends to pray with us in the streets of Jerusalem. If you do not live in Israel or if you can not come to Jerusalem, we want to encourage you to pray alone or to organise a special prayer meeting with people from your church in this day.

“If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, If I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy.” (Ps.137:5-6)...PLS INCLUDE THIS IN YOUR PRAYER CLOSET ...Thanks

I am just absolutely overwhelmed by the ignorance and intolerance. This parade is actually an annual event that has been going on for over 13 years and has seen its share of violence with participants having been stabbed and otherwise attacked. I will be praying for the safety of the participants.

I feel really stuck. I wish to belong to a church but living in Finland I do not have a whole lot of choice. I have not joined this church for the reasons complained about above. The community is wonderful, I love the people.  The woman who posted this is a wonderfully sweet woman but so willfully ignorant I might die from contemplating it. So is everyone. I like the sense of belonging to a community of immigrants that is so close knit but I cannot be truly honest with them.
What are the alternatives? Home churching? Well, home churching is done by creepy fundies.  Also the Bible says we need to be a part of a faith community. Here are my other options: Baptists, Methodists, Freechurchers (The Evangelical Free Church of Finland), the Quakers that meet only once a month and not in the summer, Lutherans and the traditional Pentecostals. From what I have heard, one the Baptists churches is even worse around here, also we checked out their website and there were a ton of red flags. I suppose we could give the other church a try. I could try the Methodists, I know the pastor. I have translated some teaching materials for them. Also I could try the Freechurch. The Quakers are a little different brand of Quakerism and I really fear we would not fit in there spiritually like we did in our old church that we still belong to, but we could still try. The Lutherans are fine, I suppose, but they have a tendency to be a little spiritually dry and not committed, let’s just say they are a really respectable institution. They are exactly what you would expect out of a state church of a free and democratic nation. The Traditional Pentecostal church, we they are traditional, like they don’t let women preach, at all.

My immediate plans are to get back to daily prayer and reading the Bible. Then I will attempt to go church shopping to the Methodists and the Freechurch and see if there are other alternatives.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Demon Haunted World (or not)

Is a tittle of a book but it is also a world view some people have that I don’t. Some people see the world, literally, as a battle ground between the forces of good and evil, angels and demons. People like this hear demonic voices whispering to them. Everything wrong with everyone is cause by demons. Think Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.
I have a friend who sees the world exactly like that. She sees herself as exceptionally sensitive to the spirit world, maybe she is. I cannot feel what she feels or live in her head. I kind of find this infuriating because this gives power to all the self-deluding charlatans claiming spiritual powers and it is the antithesis of how I live my life.

To me the existence of demons and angels and of this battle is irrelevant. I read a short story once. I cannot remember where or what it was called but it was about a boy who lived in a medieval world and in that world everyone else saw angels singing hallelujah to the Lord as the sun rose and people were healed, curse, helped, by magic spells. This was a disability that set him apart of the rest of the world and was seen as defective. He wondered things like: What makes the sun burn? What is the source of its fuel? The moon and the sun must have different fuel because they have different light? What is the moons fuel? It also turned out he had an advantage over all the others. Sure, he could not see the wonder they saw, he could not be blessed or healed by supernatural means but he was also immune to all spells, curses and supernatural devices.

I feel like him. I don’t see these demonic powers neither can they hurt me. I don’t feel demonic voices in my head. Not that I don’t want to live in this fantastical world full of wonder, I just don’t. I think I know why my friend believes so readily in these powers. She used to be consumed by guilt because thoughts popped in her head that did not go along with the beatitudes. She looked for answers and thought it was just her, defective her, and she was consumed by guilt. Then she realized it was demons and she was absolved of guilt and self-loathing and now she just tells them to be quiet and it works. 

I was just the same, thoughts that I did not want crowded my head, I was besieged by desires and I could not stop them and I was consumed by guilt. Then I realized that Jesus had not been only crucified for my past sins but my current sins and all my future sins. He forgave me so I forgave myself and realized that quilt was not necessary. Repentance did not have to follow intense guilt because forgiveness had already taken place. Acknowledgement and conviction was all that was necessary. My guilt left and so did all those desires and thoughts. My guilt made me obsess and now that was gone and so were uncontrolled thoughts. I was free and so was my mind. She accepted that demons were whispering to her and I accepted that I was forgiven. Both resulted in a feeling of freedom and control. We indeed are very different.