Sunday, October 29, 2006

Don't Drink the Kool-Aid

"Nobody joins a cult. Nobody joins something they think is going to hurt them. You join a Religious organization, you join a political movement, and you join with people you really like." This was a quote from the new movie Jonestown - The life and death of Peoples Temple.

Each time I have revisited this topic over the past 30 years, I have been touched in a different and deeper way. Initially, I was most touched by the loss of so many people, especially the children. Later on, I was amazed at Jim Jones, and how he could be so deceived and diluted, and to believe the things that he did.

This week, I heard the quote above, and was struck with something completely different. I have been thinking about the people again, but this time, about how they were deceived. They didn't start out wanting to be deceived or to join a cult. They joined a religious organization. It was a political movement to break free from government control and the American religious system. They were attracted to and surrounded by caring, loving people. Their leader seemed to make so much sense, and provided clear leadership and purpose - at first. But in the end, it all led to death.

There is a song by Jim Cole which says, "Complacency's a poison, taken one drop at a time. It fools our minds to thinking that everything's just fine..." - for so long, we were involved in the American religious community, and I can see from that experience how easy it is to yield undue control to the "authority" of the leadership. When religious leadership steps out of the servant role and into the controlling role, they have placed themselves between the believer and God, sometimes even acting AS God. This can be a dangerous place of control and undue influence.

Christ came as the ONE mediator between God and man. Any time a person steps into that mediator role, whether clergy or layman, it is to usurp God's place and authority.

u·surp Pronunciation (y-sûrp, -zûrp)
v. u·surped, u·surp·ing, u·surps
1. To seize and hold (the power or rights of another, for example) by force and without legal authority.
2. To take over or occupy without right: usurp a neighbor's land.
To seize another's place, authority, or possession wrongfully.

The one good thing that has come out of our past is that we have been awakened to an awareness of this type of control and abuse that some may attempt to use to control and bewitch believers. This type of control serves its own purposes and agendas, rather than God's, and it attempts to conform others to its own image, rather than assisting them in developing into the fullness of the measure and stature of Christ.


Monday, October 09, 2006

A Special Thanks....

As our family as gone through difficult times, I have been thankful for so many things.

For my dear wife - She has endured the pain and suffering, difficulties and burdens, with great love and great strength. Though her body is weak, her spirit is very strong. I love her more now than ever before. She is my favorite. I long for the days when we can enjoy better circumstances together, but I am thankful it is her that I am sharing this experience with. She has shown me the real meaning of life and love, and that it is about being and not doing.

For my sons - Both boys have demonstrated such perseverance and strength, faith and hope, joy and peace during this most difficult time for them. Our youngest cannot even remember mommy being able to care for him or being well. Both boys have such strong character and are genuine, loving and kind. They both have said the thing they want to be most is a daddy. They said they know it is hard work, because the daddy has to take care of everything and everyone, and the mommy's role is to love the babies, but they want to be one someday. They have held me up, prayed me through, and loved me unconditionally.

For health for our kids and me - Our kids haven't been sick in almost 2 years. They have been in school, around others who are sick, and yet, they haven't been sick at all in almost 2 years. Not even a cold, and neither have I.

For our immediate and extended families and friends - Our families and friends have all pitched in to help with caring for our children when we have to travel, and have helped with expenses and needs. They are tireless in their love, compassion and generosity, and often, it is overwhelming to be able to receive. For our closest and most faithful friends - We have a few very close friends who have hung with us through all of this. They never once judged us or tried to "fix" us. They just love us, and have made themselves our local family, since all of our biological family is out of town. We have been amazed at the generosity of so many, of both their time and treasure, to help us through this time.

For provision - We have been provided for. Through all of the expenses, especially the ones lately, where the IV Antibiotics have all been "out of pocket", since the insurance company and my employer would only pay for the first 30 days, we have been well cared for.

For help - We have had help from a special lady, who comes faithfully twice a week, to help us out, so that I can run errands, buy groceries and so much more.

For our internet friends, who have prayed for us, encouraged us, and even a very few who have sent care packages to us, lifting our spirits on the heaviest of days.

For neighbors - We have had two neighbors who consistently call to ask if they can pickup items at the grocery for us, or help in any way, and then refuse to allow us to pay for what they buy for us. Even when we give them a list, they often come back with more than we asked for. Two more neighbors have dropped in just at the right time with meals. They just "happen" to be making extra, and thought of us.

For two very special, generous and industrius friends - We have two friends who helped us work through difficulties. One modified our home to allow wheelchair access to the bathroom at a very low cost, and another built us a hitch platform to carry the scooter at a low cost, making our lives much easier.

For my employer and 1st and 2nd line managers - My employer and my managers have been very understanding during all of this time. They have allowed me to flex my schedule to be able to make the numerous trips out of town for treatment and appointments for Kim's care. They have worked with me through so very much.

For the TRACS program - TRACS arranged for a wheelchair ramp to be built at cost for us, which has opened up a new world.

For the late Robert Ludlum, whose books have provided a refuge for us. As we lie awake and read just before bedtime each night, we have been able to, for a little while, enjoy the exciting, clandestine experiences of his protagonists and heroes, while not wanting to put down the book in the midst of such incredible story lines. What a gift!

We are so very blessed. We recognize God brought all of this into our lives, and is our consistent and faithful provider, but it is good to remember, and to remind ourselves and others that God truly will never forsake us nor leave us, and that He always provides, even in the seemingly bleakest moments.

May we all know the fullness of the depth, height, breadth and intensity of His love for us.