Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Author Spotlight (Irma Clark)

I turn the spotlight on my sister & fellow author Irma Clark.

Irma Clark is the author of A Perfect Match, an adoption story. She is a graduate of Florida State University currently living in Tallahassee, Florida. Also, she is a member of the Tallahassee Authors Network because she enjoys spending time with other authors to motivate her writing career. Her novel is an adoption story written in Christian fiction.
Irma is working on her second novel entitled, The Barren Woman.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Church Issues (Loss of Identity)

I’m starting on a blog series that has been on my spirit since June of this year. I was debating on Sunday whether to subtitle this Loss of Identity or Free Thinking. As you can see, Loss of Identity won. This particular post has been on my spirit for a couple weeks. It’s my heart’s prayer that you open your mind, heart & spirit to this. I believe God will bless your spirit totally if you can stay through this entire post. I need to thank one of my sisters for these thought provoking questions, which will be how I start this blog (and for some additional thoughts within this blog). I modified some of the questions a little bit for all to participate.

Take this moment and think about your life before you joined your respective church and now that you’re in your respective church. Here are some questions for you to ponder:

  1. How was your relationship with your parents, siblings, and friends?
  2. Were you always in a defensive mode?
  3. Were you always on guard?
  4. Did you always feel like you have to hide the truth about your past or current church?
  5. Are you openly sharing the teachings of your current church?
  6. Have your habits changed?
  7. Have your eating or sleeping habits changed?
  8. Do you feel nervous or on edge?
  9. Do you still hang out with your friends from the past on a regular basis?
  10. When was the last time you called them asking to hang out or just talk?
  11. What about your music choices, have they changed?
  12. Has your prayer life and prayer language changed?
  13. Has your vocabulary changed?  How many words have different meanings now that you’re attending your current church?
  14. Do you listen to Christian radio or visit Christian bookstores or did you used to?
  15. What about God?  How is your relationship with Him?  Be honest with yourself and God.
  16. How many times have you chosen to lie to your loved ones about anything to do with your new church?
  17. Ladies: when was the last time you wore a pair of pants/jeans or sandals to church on Sunday?  Have you stopped wearing two pairs of earrings if you have double piercings?
  18. Men: when was the last time you went to church on Sunday without wearing a tie and slacks?  Have you stopped wearing earrings if your ears are pierced?

If your responses came out more on the negative side to where you’ve shunned your friends & family away, you might have lost your identity to the church and its doctrine. This is just a little something to think about.

Now, I used to go to a church where we all (men & women) were under the leader’s control. I’ll use this one clip because I will cover different clips under a different topic.
I think back to my former church and it was mandatory that we men go to the Men's Bible Studies (M-F at 6am). There were times I would register for classes either at 7am or on Thursday night intentionally just to get a break from it. Our pastor would go so far as to say we were in sin if we didn't do what he says. If we missed a Thursday night service or a Sunday service, we were taking a vacation from God. How’s that for control! He said that the wives had to be homemakers, and they were in sin if they worked. A man was not supposed to cook, that was the woman's job. There was a couple where the husband was living a double personality. He was trying so hard to be himself, but he didn't want to hear a lecture all about him being in sin if he didn't implement what the pastor told him to do (causing him to lose his own identity). My former pastor was good for making a Sunday lesson (or a Men’s Bible Study) on people who didn’t do what the pastor said. The end result was a loss of his identity, the couple divorced and they both left the church. I actually left the church a week or two after they did. Just from that, you can gain an idea of what we went through (I stayed there from August 1998 to May 2000).

There are many churches where people can't think for themselves. It's a tragedy!
The beauty of God is He gives us the power of choice. We have the choice to do right or to do wrong, but we will reap what we sow. Churches designed by God are taught to listen to Him through reading His word, gaining counsel from your pastors, parents and friends and to think for you. Domineering churches (like my former church) are taught to listen to the leader because he has made all of the decisions for you. I will add this: my former pastor was so domineering to where he decided who you married. Here’s the tragedy, most of those he married, are now divorced once they left the church.

Here are some more characteristics of a domineering church (and I’d strongly consider you leaving for your sanity):
  1. Every single action you participate in with a church is determined by your pastor of the local congregation.
  2. You will be told when to go to church and where.  You’ll be told how to dress, what to eat and drink, what to study and when.  You only serve on the worship team or child care when the pastor calls to let you know they have an opening that needs to be filled
Ladies, would you sit under a religions organization that's telling you what to do and you have no right to question it OR would you continue to sit under that kind of teaching even if you know that teaching is far off or contradictory? If you are currently sitting under a domineering church like what I mentioned above, why are you still there? If you have fears of leaving, talk to me. I left my former church and they actually came looking for me. But I have my freedom.