The Parable of the Talents, for a Fearful Abuse Survivor

Dear friend~

In our correspondence, you referred to the parable of the talents as a story of a person being punished “because he feared the master’s severity.  It was not about the cleverness of investing but about how he viewed the owner/master,” you said. “I hate it… but that’s soo me. And I know it displeases Him. Because if I BELIEVED in my heart what my head and you tell me of Him, I wouldn’t be feeling this. So I don’t. And it feels like I can’t.” Continue reading “The Parable of the Talents, for a Fearful Abuse Survivor”

How to Come Out of a Cult and Find Jesus 

 

I met Emily Elizabeth Anderson in January of this year, when she told me she had appreciated my Untwisting Scriptures books and asked to interview me on her blog, Thriving Forward. (You can find that interview here.)

I knew she had come out of the Bill Gothard cult (Advanced Training Institute, ATI), I knew she was now free from it, and I knew she loved Jesus. (A rare combination, it seems, for young people who grew up Gothard.)

But it was when I heard her being interviewed in a Called to Peace Ministries Facebook Live that I heard that story. I asked her to share more with me about it, and she sent me her testimony.

The thing is, my friends. The thing is, I was sure that the people who leave cults and also leave Jesus don’t really know who He is. I figured they couldn’t have really found out who He is, clear through, as He’s presented in the gospels.

And Emily confirmed these suspicions. Continue reading “How to Come Out of a Cult and Find Jesus “

Those 365 “Fear Not” Verses in the Bible

NOTE: I’ve written about fear a number of times. Some of the most pertinent are listed and linked down at the end of this article.

We don’t want to ignore the fear signals that tell us to get out of an unsafe situation, and I’ve addressed those in other articles. But the encouraging “fear not” verses in the Bible will help us to shed inappropriate fear.

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Have you heard, as I have, that there are 365 “fear not” verses in the Bible, one for every day of the year? (And that this is supposed to help you remember to not be afraid.)

Well, that sounded a little suspect to me, so I decided to check it out. Turns out even websites like this one that claimed they were giving you all “365” fear not verses actually listed fewer than 150.

Maybe they thought no one would ever count? Continue reading “Those 365 “Fear Not” Verses in the Bible”

Casting Out Fear by Whistling a Happy Tune

A couple of years ago I wrote a series about “fear” (part one, part two, part three). But I knew there was much more for me to learn, and for me to share with others.

Not to mention that I want my next Untwisting Scriptures book to be (tentatively) subtitled Shut Your Mouth and Stuff Your Emotions.

Yesterday, a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I sat outside with my Bible and pondered “perfect love casts out fear” in 1 John (which I plan to blog about eventually). As I did, I thought about the typical ways believers are told to “cast out fear” and get on the right track with their “perfect love.”

All too often church leaders and other church people tell us that it’s by “choosing to do right,” our actions, our behavior, our internal decisions. Gritting our teeth and forcing ourselves. Will power. There may be some mention of the Holy Spirit, but it is often passing and incidental. Continue reading “Casting Out Fear by Whistling a Happy Tune”

Does He Look Like He Loves You? (Guest Post by “Mara”)

Many Christians of my fundamentalist and evangelical background are wary of the concept of “religious experience,” at least partly because it has been abused in some circles. After all, “experience” without knowledge can open one to error and evil.

But if we as Jesus followers have only an intellectual knowledge of the Lord with no sense of His presence, then we face the danger of having a hollow faith. Our day-to-day Christianity can be devoid of the life He has promised (as in, for example, Ephesians 3:19-20). Continue reading “Does He Look Like He Loves You? (Guest Post by “Mara”)”

6 Ways “The Gospel” Is so Much More than You’re Usually Told

OR “Why the Resurrection is Essential to Your Salvation” (in honor of Holy Week)

Much of my writing is presented to refute false teaching in the fundamentalist and evangelical Christian world. But I always want to point my readers to what is true, right, and good.

This Holy Week—the week that Christians especially honor the Lord Jesus Christ for all He has done for us, the week that culminates with a celebration of His Resurrection for us—I want to zero in on The Gospel.

Through the years that I’ve been in this evangelical world, I’ve pondered how much the term “gospel” is presented as vital, while at the same time how seldom those who use the term “gospel” have actually defined and described what they mean by it.

But understanding what “the gospel” is can mean the difference between death and life. Continue reading “6 Ways “The Gospel” Is so Much More than You’re Usually Told”

Is Empathy Still a Sin? The Joe Rigney / Hannah Anderson Conversation

Last week Alistair Roberts hosted Joe Rigney, the new president of Bethlehem College & Seminary and author of multiple books, alongside Hannah Anderson, author of multiple books.

They disagreed about empathy, and did so amicably. That part was refreshing.

But I confess, some parts of the conversation were befuddling to me.

Yes, empathy is definitely still a sin, according to Joe Rigney

Empathy is always sinful, according to Joe Rigney, because (1) it sets aside all judgment of rightness and wrongness (as Brené Brown recommends), and (2) the empathetic person gets down in the quicksand with the sufferer instead of staying safely on the shore and casting out a rope. Continue reading “Is Empathy Still a Sin? The Joe Rigney / Hannah Anderson Conversation”

The Amazing Grace Cycle (Guest Post by Deborah Brunt)

Deborah Brunt is a friend who served in the Southern Baptist Convention for many years, as an author, teacher, and women’s leader. Long before others were doing so, she bravely stood against the abuses of power and belittling of women that she saw and experienced in her various capacities there.

A couple of years ago Deborah wrote her account of being ousted from her life-long denomination for refusing to simply go along with the program, continuing to question and challenge. She described how she was shamed, blamed, ignored, shunned, and thrust to the side. In today’s terminology, we would say she was “cancelled,” or at least that’s what they tried to do. Continue reading “The Amazing Grace Cycle (Guest Post by Deborah Brunt)”