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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The crushed plant

If you know me, you know I love plants! I find it very clear why God gave man the job of tending a garden... such beauty!

So, I have a few plants around my back patio. I enjoy them, I know them, I care for them.

and then... my two year old: that boy!

I was peacefully sitting in my living room when I saw pillows flying from the deck (second floor) and onto the patio below, where my beloved plants are, those pillows are not fluffy! they are outdoor furniture pillows and they fell directly on one of my favorite succulents. My husband bought that one for my from the Milwaukee Domes during our last trip there. Everything that comes from Wisconsin I treasure, if it is a plant... even more! So I was afraid to even lift the pillow.

The sight was not pretty. My precious Crassula Rupestris (Kebab Succulent) had been crushed... there were leaves, little pieces of branches and dirt everywhere. A big part of the plant remained in the pot and attached to the roots but not intact. Some pieces were just gone. The whole plant suffered. I felt overwhelmed with sadness and even anger... it was a bigger reaction than you would expect for a little plant...  and it's because I saw myself in that plant... I saw myself and friends and brothers and sisters in those leaves that were so violently snatched from the plant.... and yet the story doesn't end there...


As I picked up the pot and the broken pieces... I immediately yelled at my son  ehem... started to work on the plant. I started to carefully place the leaves and stems into different pots, some stayed in bigger clumps together, some individual pieces went to new pots and containers.

What once was a beautiful plant would all start to become different plants all of their own. This could only happen  because of my love for them and because I know what to do. Some will struggle a bit longer than others, some will immediately start to grow roots and even the original plant will never look the same and was severely wounded. For each of those now separate plants somehow things will begin to be better... and then even blossom into perfect, healthy new life.

This wasn't my original plan for the plant. What happened wasn't my purpose for it or what I desired for it, and even though I knew I could do still do something about it, it still hurt. I still wish it hadn't gone through that. There will be discipline for the one who caused it, because it wasn't entirely unintentional... he knew exactly what he was doing. The plants might look at me and think I did this for this very purpose. I am so good with them that when they see themselves healthy and beautiful they might even think I caused them the initial pain so that it could lead to this. My plants will not ever understand this is something I never meant for them and I was never behind their crushing... but even when that wasn't my plan, I love them enough to still restore and redeem and I can turn something that could have destroyed them into something good. Yes, sometimes there's pruning and cleaning up that might be painful and I am behind that but, other things happen just because we live in sinful world... where even Jesus had to pray "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven"... we are definitely not there yet! And still I trust the perfect Creator to heal and restore the pieces that are broken in all of our lives.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for being oh so gentle! for caring for us your children even more than we could ever care for plants... Thank you for your gentle hand when pruning... and for your mighty hand to do something beautiful even out of any and all unexpected events. You are above it all, you are able!

© Paloma K.

Monday, August 19, 2019

New Mercies

Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

© Paloma K.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Leaving a church... not The Church

What a busy time this has been! And in this point of life we are finding ourselves going through an indescribably painful moment as a family as we have left the place that we have called "our church" for  exactly 8 years... so get ready because this is going to be a loaded post....

In this period of time where I go from disappointment to sadness to anger to zeal to thirst and hunger for justice, to numbness and denial and feel like I am almost in a loop ... I cling to God and cling to people who I have found through this process that are also believers in God... not in man... people who thankfully see what we see... feel as we feel and have too been convicted with the same convictions and it makes it all more endurable.

But there is something I have found and I feel the need to talk about (well.. in all honesty there's so much that I feel the need to address but all in due time) I find myself often thinking of  the verse that says:

"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." (James 1:19b-20) 

I don't always succeed with the slow to become angry.... so pray for me there!

So today I want to talk about:

Reasons for leaving a church:

What are the reasons to leave a church? Well... we are free... (while at the same time being bondservants of Christ and submitted to Him)...  of course as believers we should have a strong commitment to the Body of Christ and realize that The Church IS God's answer for the World until He comes back... we are never going to leave The Church.... but we are not necessarily tied to a local church in an unbreakable covenant that we cannot leave because that would be a cult... not a church... but something I have heard a lot, lately is the

"as long as the Word keeps being preached you should stay" 


"as long as the Gospel is being proclaimed you shouldn't leave"

and it made me think of how sadly I have said those same phrases in the past... without any biblical foundation... is that the only reason to leave a church? if the Word of God is no longer being preached? I mean... if it got to that I hope you of course know to identify it and leave it... if the Word of God is not being preached please, I don't think you need to read an article to tell you that is not the church... at all...

but...  I am going to dare to say the following... You can leave the local church you attend when:

- It changed so drastically and dramatically it is no longer the church you joined. 
  I mean... what would the difference be then between that church and another one? If you can't even recognize it? again... we are not in a cult, we are in local churches where if you leave it doesn't mean you are telling those people you no longer want anything to do with them... I am sure those that are close to you will continue to be close even if you leave. I guess what I am saying is ... if you want to stay you're free to do so.... if you want to leave... you are free to do so too... I know it's a weird concept to understand but sadly sometimes it seems that those that those who changed EVERYTHING expect everybody to be in agreement... and if anyone wants to leave for that they're mocked like they're not strong in the faith or something... and those leaving end up being attacked just by their preference... Many say it's bad to leave a church because of music preferences and lights or worship styles... and while those might not be the deepest reasons or holiest sounding reasons the truth is that we all usually attend a place where we feel free to worship even with our personality styles... some people wouldn't like to worship dancing inside the building, some would, some wouldn't like tambourines, some would, some wouldn't like music that is extremely loud, some would and that is all ok... we can still love one another and decide it is no longer the place where we want to worship... That is OK! So if you leave a place for those reasons... I'd say how happy for you... because ... at least you're not going through terrible heartache.... It's not a division or a deception or a horrible conflict... it's just a matter of preference... it shouldn't divide anybody... some like to worship one way, some another and it doesn't make those who stay or those who leave better than the other.

Paul and Barnabas are a good example of brothers that parted ways over a disagreement that was not a doctrinal issue... (can two walk together if they don't agree? ) The rupture involved a personal dispute based upon a judgment call. neither Paul nor Barnabas let the conflict distract them from their efforts of spreading the gospel... and it didn't mean one hated the other. 

But...  the other thing... and maybe deeper reasons to leave would be:

2 Tim. 3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive,disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

So.... what about the preaching of the Gospel? Well... the Bible also says:

You Will Know Them by Their Fruits

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits.Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
And the Bible also says that we can honor God with our lips and yet our hearts are far from Him!

Another one:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

So... honestly... the whole "only leave a church if they stop preaching the Word of God" doesn't hold much water if by "preaching" or "teaching" we are referring to the words that come out of their mouth.... we might be far away from what the Word of God actually says!

So... what about all the pastors that have abused children and were at the same time "preaching the Word of God"? Should we stay "as long as the Word of God is being preached?"

I have to remember that the devil himself knows Scripture and quotes it and has tried to deceive many (including the Son of God Himself) with the very words in that Book throughout the history of humanity... (from the very beginning).

Just recently I had an encounter with someone I thought I knew and now I realize I never really did.... some leaders in our churches expect us to follow blindly the one in the front because he is "being led by the Holy Spirit" ("don't you dare question that or I cannot longer talk to you!" is the response)... do not be deceived brothers and sisters... you and I have the Holy Spirit as well... (or what do they think we're following?) They trusted us for a voting when we had no real information except our trust in them when they were the designated group looking for a pastor... and now that we actually start to discover what the plans were all along (and which were never disclosed to the whole church) they are offended if we question it and I guess we're no longer Christian in their eyes? or the Holy Spirit somehow left us?... It's us... THE CHURCH! SAYING... THIS IS NOT FROM GOD!

If only one person or a certain group of "leaders" has that access to God then again... it's not a church with the Holy Spirit indwelling each believer but if He seems to reveal himself only to the one getting paid for it... that is not The Church... it is just a weird cult of our own making.

Also... if you can't even question what's going on.... and you're met with bullying tactics... if you can't even ask anyone what's happening and they demonize anyone for questioning... . When people in leadership abuse members because "that's how things are done whether people like it or not" when people are fired because we are pursuing trendiness. When they tell you they can't say more because they don't want to bash anyone (like that's not precisely BASHING them just by saying that). When there is so much secrecy that that's exactly what creates rumors and divisions, when the hearts of our brothers and sisters are being broken behind close doors but in public we make it appear as "we are all ok, let's pray for their faithful ministry", when we sound more like a wordly corporation than the church, honestly... shame on us if we let it continue... I am sure many will still continue... even after knowing the truth... and that's ok... but everyone should at least have the chance to know what really is going on!

I used to sell self defense tools... I mostly care about sharing the information for women, children and teens to protect themselves against abuse and sexual violence and there is one thing I learned..


Abusers always have one MO they tell their victims that it would be best for them to not speak to anyone else about it because "you don't want to hurt others" ... the shame is put in the victim, they make them feel guilty and even responsible for the pain "they're going to cause"...

But in many of our churches you will hear how approachable they are and "If you need to talk to someone talk to your leaders" well, isn't that convenient?... it's like asking the victim to talk to the abuser to "address her fears" ... 

The molester tells the little girl to not tell her mommy because her mommy will be devastated

the husband tells the wife to not tell anyone because he also can say things about her.... and her shame is enough to get her quiet...

Abuse happens... in churches too... not always in ways that make the headlines but I have witnessed it now from up close happening...

in our churches sometimes it's wolves telling the sheep to stay quiet for the sake of the unity of the flock...

when it's them ... who are devastating and ravaging the flock

When can you leave your church?

When not only can you leave but it would be wrong for you to stay?

When the Word of God is being preached from up front and stepped on with the actions when nobody else can see... When the Body of Christ is being dismissed for age or style, when the Word of God is being used for personal gain and to form a personal kingdom rather than to extend the Kingdom of God... When there is deception and lies!  Where can we find a good church? Not a perfect church because hey... we're not perfect... but if the Word of God is being preached and there's no blatant deception, abuse, demonzing those who dare question... when you feel like the music is extremely loud even.... thank God that if you are in Christ you are never leaving THE CHURCH....  you and I are family even if I have never met you... then You know HIS voice and follow it.... if you are not making a dime and you stand up for your brother and sister... if injustice, money hunger, the Word being deceptively "proclaimed" makes you want to scream "How long o Lord? How long? until your Bride is safely forever with you and free from those who want to ravage it pretending to be shepherding it...."

I am sick of the corporation or club... what a stinking waste of time if that's what we are doing on Sunday mornings!!! I would rather stay in bed! I do not covet "a position in the church"  what a dangerous place to be in... I am sick of the hired consultants to tell us what our vision is... it's ALL IN THE WORD OF GOD for crying out loud! Someone even told me recently that the church in the United Kingdom died because they weren't willing to change...

absurd! churches die because they look for man made strategies to keep them alive rather than going the The One who sustains it! How spoiled, self centered, self sufficient and arrogant have we become to believe that we can plan for "the success of the Church"? HIS CHURCH! THE KING'S CHURCH! ... when it is God the One who adds the ones that will be added... when "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." 

It's not about up to us to "make it succeed"... yes... many of our churches are "successful"  (apparently) because of their many activities and strategies and because of the ruthless leaders taking them "higher". We have pastors that no longer suffer for Christ and somehow convince us that this is their "calling" (In many cases a six figure calling!)... I wonder if they knew their lives as pastors would be like Paul's was if they would feel the same way about this calling!

"24Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones,three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiledand have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches."  

And yet Paul wouldn't be hired by us .... because He probably didn't have the looks, the money, the "influence" the "leadership skills"... He wasn't a "visionary" or young enough...

 And here we are ... running like headless chickens... choosing to have our churches led by strategists, visionaries,  CEOs and consultant groups because it's easier than a life of prayer... they seem to have it all... they grow and grow and become the biggest, the greatest in the eyes of men.... I wonder if we could see with God's eyes where that most successful church is... is it meeting in an old building? Does it have really bad music but a heart of worship? Is it in a quiet home with the prayerful family? I wonder.... I just know that we sadly buy into the deception

And then... the whole "everything happens for a purpose" phrase has infiltrated our churches  who then give more permission to those running the show to take advantage... I wonder how many of our leaders are actually God's judgment and not God's blessing... like in the days when Saul was crowned king... that God's people wanted a king so badly that God gave them exactly what they wanted (even if it was bad for them) ... and then we tell the victims to find "God's purpose" behind what they're going through... and How God is "doing all this" we sound insane! not in a good Biblical way just insane.... God is not behind sin... He is not behind the abuse... He is not the cause of the deception... and Yes... He will not waste these momentary tribulations in their lives... but Woe to those who were willing and happy to be the cause for His children's pain and suffering.

When do you leave a church? I don't know about you... You tell me...

Just don't say "when the Word of God stops being preached"  if you only refer to the words that are said out loud. Because the evil ones hear you and this allows them to keep preaching the Word of God with their lips but with their actions they deny it.

I just can't stand to be on the side of injustice... Because even if I lose any leftover reputation I might still have, or lose the "friendships" of some that I now know never were, I'll also lose the comfort of having the place that was my my other home, fun activities, a place to go to... I do it for what's correct... not without pain... and I rejoice to join in the pain of those who have been unjustly treated, I rejoice (in tears) to teach my children that following God is not always following the majority, that it hurts at times, that if I can't endure this then if any days of persecution come I won't be able to endure that, I rejoice in the fact that The Church can't be divided and I am a part of it... I rejoice in the fact that God is faithful and He never changes... I rejoice while it hurts... because God will comfort me from that too!

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean." Matthew 23:27

© Paloma K.