Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Wrong Path Part 2

So the other day I posted about the pagan times of my life. And to just recap quickly.....While I was on that part of my life's journey I realized that the majority of the people that I met were just as confused and hurt as I was with regards to the Christian life. Most had been hurt by other Christians in one way or another. This hurt inspired them to lash out against God, against the Bible and what it stands for, and more than anything they lashed out against what they viewed as "organized religion". In doing this they were grasping onto anything that made them feel better, that seemingly gave them more control over their lives, and anything that would show in a very public way that they were against anything "Christian". These are people that have been hurt by the ones that SHOULD have been showing them love.

*Edit*I've stated many times with my business of manufacturing bath and body products that believe in complete transparency and full disclosure. Well that also continues on over into my personal life and my work in ministry as well. I have nothing to hide. And my experiences can hopefully help someone else going through the same thing. I believe tha tin order to help others that one must also be willing to be open and honest about themselves to start with. And that is where I'm coming from and sharing my life as it was when I was living as a pagan.

Now on to the not so pretty side of things.......and yes, it's more confession time for me here.

You see, while I was hurt by many Christians which led me to live as a pagan to begin with, I was also hurt by people who called themselves my friends who were also pagan. This opened my eyes to the fact that even Christians are just human and will make mistakes and are capable of hurting others.

I was involved in a coven - yes, the witchy wiccan kind. I was the coven scribe. That just means that I kept record of everything from every gathering we had. We had our circles for every pagan holiday you can think of. We attended every pagan gathering and festival that was close enough to drive to. And yes, I dragged my husband and children to these events with me. We met some very different people at these events. And now that I look back on those times I feel so very sorry for many of the people I saw. Many of them are under the dilution that they are actually fairies. They believe they do real magic (the hocus pocus kind you see on TV). I anyone or any living thing. But there were some that practiced what they called "dark magick".

And that leads me to the most horrific experience of my life. A little background first.....within our "coven" we had a set of rules. One of the main rules was that none of us were to bring in an outsider without prior consent from the whole group. If even one of us was uncomfortable with someone they were not brought in. This was for the safety of everyone involved. So noone would know where we lived, where we gathered, etc. And you will soon see why that rule was so important.

One night we had a coven gathering at my home. The lady who was considered the "high priestess" took it upon herself to bring in someone that we did not know and that had not been voted on. My dog (a Rottie) went absolutely crazy as soon as this man got out of his car. If she could have gone straight through the fence to get him she would have. He also was obviously very scared of her. Without making this story too long let's just say that the so called "leader" of our little group decided she didn't like me anymore. I was best friends with her father and step-mother though. That night when we wrapped things up and everyone left. Her step-mom called me because she had a very bad feeling about something. She felt that something bad was going to happen to me and that it involved her step-daughter and this man. She called me to warn me.

That night I found myself in my own personal "hell". Around 11pm strange phone calls started. The person on the other end had used a device to alter their voice so that I could not recognize who it was. The phone number appeared as a blocked number. They were calling every 5-10 minutes. The calls were threatening in every possible way. They knew things about my life that only our "coven" members knew (such as my husband was out of town, where he was, when he would be back, my children's names and ages, where their bedrooms were in the house, etc). I didn't have visitors to my home other than these people. We lived out in the boonies (which is why we had our gatherings at my house). And I did not share personal information with anyone except those in my closest circle of friends, which, at that time, was my coven friends.

The calls escalated to brutal and very cruel threats of violence against my children and my husband as they stated the purpose was all for me to watch so that I could be punished. These calls continued until around 4am the next morning. During this time I called the police multiple times. I was upfront and honest with them about the situation. And I found that by doing so they were unwilling to come to my aid. Now mind you, I had 4 children in the house and my husband was not home at this time and the police were made very aware of this. I had all the calls recorded on voicemail as I stopped answering them and letting them go straight to voicemail. This was the most helpless that I had ever felt in my life.

Now you want to know who I cried out to for help? Who it was that was my first thought when the police failed me? GOD!! Yes, I was on my knees begging Him to rescue me and my keep us safe. It wasn't the pagan gods that I prayed to. It was the One and Only Almighty God, my Heavenly Father that I cried out to.

After getting off my knees I had the strength to answer the phone one more time. I remembered at that moment that my dog did not like this man and that he was very afraid of my dog. When I answered I did not give him the time to speak. I just spoke to him and reminded him that my dog didn't like him, that he wouldn't make it past my door frame, and that I did have other means to defend myself. I didn't have the strength to stand up to this person prior to calling out to God. I didn't have the courage either. But in that moment of prayer God poured out His peace, His courage and His strength onto me.

The police finally arrived the following evening....yes, you read that was nearly 24 hours after the fact that they finally decided to show up. They sat and listened to every gruesome threat (the caller was very detailed in what he was going to do to my family while making me watch and then what he would do to me when he was done....very very detailed down to the last drop of blood in our bodies). They recorded the messages. I gave them every phone number and address for the ones I knew were involved. They also had this girl's family's information. They had everything they needed to handle this. But, sadly, they dropped it and never did a thing. So once again, I was crushed and felt defeated.

I would love to say that at that point I turned back to the church and to God. But it was the moment. I continued on my journey. Met a few others that were not quite as bad as these people but still bad in other ways. But it was the same story with each of them, they were deeply hurt by people who called themselves Christians. Hurt people hurt people.

We ultimately moved out of the area and while I was not really what you would consider a "practicing witch" anymore, I also had not turned fully back to God. Not until that friend of mine invited me to her church (the one I speak of in the previous post).

I can assure you, though, that I never once witnessed the divine healing and deliverance during these pagan days of mine like I have that comes from Almighty God. And having experienced divine healing myself (yes, even prior to this time on my pagan journey) I know there is nothing like this to be found in the pagan world. The "spells" are prayers to their gods. They cry out to their gods but there is never an answer.

So now, as I reflect back on this time of my life, I see all the many many times that God had me protected. So many situations that could have ended very badly for me and my family. So many dangers lurking in that world, in the pagan world. It wasn't the false gods that rescued me, that protected me, that gave me strength and courage. No. It was my Abba Father. It was the Almighty God of the Bible.

I tell you all this to convey this message....... Even when you do not think God is with you, He is. Even when you think He has left you and abandoned you, He hasn't. Even when you think there is something more, something better out there, there isn't. Even when you are confused and don't know what to do, He still has a plan for you. Even when you feel unloved and left out, He still loves you. Even when you are not acting and behaving in a way that pleases Him, He still loves and accepts you. Even when you are broken, battered and bruised, He is your healer. And no matter what you've done, no matter what you've said, no matter what company you keep, when you cry out to Him, He is there and He will answer. God is God. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is unchanging. He is forgiving. He is loving. He is kind. He is our everything. And there is nothing and no-one in this world that loves you more than He does.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Wrong Path

We all go through so many ups and downs in this thing called "life". And God is with us every step of the way, even when we aren't fully aware because we are just hurting so much and can't see past the tears, or because we are just in a place where we CHOOSE not to be aware of His presence. Either way, He is always with us.

In my book, Just Be!, I share part of my testimony. This part covers a 7 year jaunt down a pagan path. I shared in the book my view of others prior to this path. It was one of pure judgmental attitude towards those that lived different than me. I would go from one extreme (in my wild young adult years) to the other extreme of being literally a "hateful, judgmental Christian". I thought I was doing the right thing. Yes, I was telling people about Christ and His sacrifice for us. But I wasn't doing it with much love. But I didn't realize that back then, in the moment. It wasn't until a move, having no family and friends around other than my husband and children, that I really began to understand that my behavior was wrong.

When I turned to walk down that path of paganism it was because I had now been on the receiving end of the judgement that I was so quick to dish out before our move. It was this judgmental attitude that was shown towards me and my family that caused me to walk away from the church, the people in God's house. I had some very deep hurts to deal with. And the ones that accepted me completely and fully as myself with no judgement and no condemnation were the pagans in the community. They took me in and loved me and allowed me to see the hurt they too had been through at the hands of other Christians.

Don't get me wrong, there were some very hateful and cruel folks that I met while on that path as well. But I had the opportunity to see how much love the majority of them have to share. More than that, though, I was able to see and hear the "WHY" to each of their stories. This was a learning experience for me. And one that ultimately led me closer to the Lord and helped to strengthen the relationship that I once had with Him. It helped me to see how much He really loves me and how He will never let go of me and never leave me alone unguarded and unprotected.

I'll share a little more about some specific things that took place that really showed me His love and protection through this time in another post. What I want to share today is more about the people that I met on this journey of mine.

You see, most of the pagans I met and had the opportunity to grow close to during this time were in the same place as me for the same reason......they were deeply hurt by someone or many someones that called themselves Christians. They were looking for the love and acceptance that they SHOULD have been able to find in their own community of other believers. They were looking to fill a void with human love that can only be filled with the love of God. They were blinded to the love of God by the judgment of other believers. If you were to ask any one of them what they don't like about Christianity their answer will be "the people". Almost always it's the people. And since "the people" are a reflection of the God we serve what, then, do you think their perception of God is? They were confused just as I was.

Confused? Yes, confused. You see, when God's people act in an ugly and hateful and judgmental way toward others it causes pain which leads to confusion. Why you ask? Simple, if we are to be Christ-like, as the title Christian implies, then why are we not actually being Christ-like? Why aren't we loving others regardless of where they are in life or what they have or are going through? Why are we judging so many based on what we see with our own eyes when we really truly do not have the full and clear picture as God does? Why are we picking and choosing the parts of the Bible that WE ourselves live out in our lives and then criticize others for what we perceive as being sinful? Why are we making one sin out to be worse than another? Why are we just teaching the wrath of God and not at all the love He has for every single one of His children?

So the Bible tells us that Christ came to redeem us, that we are ALL sinners, we ALL fall short of the glory of God.....but that God has such a deep passionate love for ALL of us that He gave up His one and only Son to pay the price of our sins. And then you have people who call themselves by His name that behave in an opposite manner. Yes, that is confusing. And yes, it causes people to turn away from the "church" and seek out a community of people that will accept them for who they are no questions asked.

You see, most of the pagans that I have met have made their decision about God based on the words and actions of the people who call themselves by His name. They have been judged and hurt and shunned by the very people that are supposed to be the "salt and the light" to this world (Matthew 5:13-16). How can we be the salt and the light in this world if we are so busy being judgmental and hateful and cruel to both believers and non-believers?

Something that I learned while on this path is that while they may believe different than Christians do, they are still people. They have feelings. They have love in their hearts. They are still God's children. Even if they don't know it yet.

What did it take for me to find my way back to the Lord? I never really turned away from God completely. I wasn't able to abandon the truth that I really truly knew deep down in my heart. I wasn't able to abandon the knowledge that Christ gave His life for my salvation. But I wasn't ready to deal with His people. And I was walking the pagan walk, talking the pagan talk. It wasn't until a very dear friend of mine reached out to me in love. She extended her hand to me and extended the invitation to go visit her church. She knew what I believed. She knew the life I was living. Incidentally, at that time I had only known her for a few months when she did reach out to me. The point is, she loved me for me and was able to see past the life I was living. She invited me without judgment to experience God's love once again.

Now there are some who would be so bold as to say that God would never love a pagan.....that God would never accept a pagan back into His family. These are all lies of the enemy. The enemy wants you to believe that your place is in a world void of God. The enemy wants you to believe that God does not love you and that you can only be accepted by those that have turned away from Him. The enemy wants you to remain in a state of confusion. But I'm here to tell you different. God has fully accepted me back into His family. He has never stopped loving me. He has never stopped being my Heavenly Father. And the same goes for every single person that has taken a wrong turn in life. God loves you still. And He is waiting for your return.

So what's my point in all this? LOVE LOVE LOVE People, wake up and realize that others are never going to see the love of God in and through you if you aren't willing to just love them. Share the truth of Christ's redemptive work on the cross and then just love them and let God sort it all out. It's not our job to "make" someone believe or to "make" someone do what we think they ought to be doing. It is our job to spread the Gospel and to be the salt and the light of this world. We cannot do that if we are always sitting in the seat of judgement that is not even ours to sit in.

Later this week I will also be posting about some of the dangers of paganism. It wasn't all a bed of roses. And yes, there were some painful times during those 7 years. I don't want to leave anyone thinking this is a good path to go down because it's not. But I do hope that believers who do read this will take into consideration that others are not seeing the love God has to offer when His people are the ones doing the hurting.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Today is a New Day

I woke up this morning to the birds singing outside and my first thought was "Thank You Lord for the beautiful wake up song". My second thought was "Thank You Lord for a new day".

I am so thankful for each and every new day the Lord provides. Not just because His days are so beautiful and full of wonder (because we just never know what any day is going to hold for us). But, thankful because it is another chance to get it right. It's another chance to do the right thing....and perhaps right some wrongs. It's another chance to show my love to those around me. It's another chance to ask for forgiveness - and to offer it to others. It's another chance to do something unexpected for someone....a random act of kindness. It's another chance to allow the world around us to see Jesus in us.....and possibly another chance to allow someone who's never met Him to finally see His love through us.

I think I could go on and on with my list of why I am so thankful for each new day. But I'd rather hear what makes each new day special for YOU!!! Please feel free to comment here, or on my FB or even my Twitter with what makes you thankful for each new day.