Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Stench of Legalism

I have not written much about spiritual abuse lately. I have been concentrating on trying to win my battle with prostate cancer. I made a blog about my experience of having tomo radiation for the past 37 days.

I was just on Facebook in another friend's account debating a YWAMmer preaching
hell, fire and brimstone with a big dose of legalism vs. living the message of love in
1 Corinthians 13. I did not know this person with whom I was debating, but I certainly recognized the familiar spirit!

There will be a lot of “Christians” going to bed tonight with a head full of biblical doctrine, dos and don'ts who will be using their “ministry” to force the yolk of legalism, hell fire and damnation upon the lost, yet with a heart void of grace & love. I think it is time the Church preaches 1 Corinthians 13 but more importantly, LIVES it.

I know that if my only examples of Christianity were the leadership (not all of them) the 12 years I was in YWAM, I would have walked away from Christ when I left YWAM as well (as I know some did). I know the leaders were not a reflection of His character though. There were a lot of great sermons there, but a complete lack of servant hood.

And who showed most, the character and love of Christ when I had my cancer surgery? The fundamentalist/legalistic brother of mine who feels like only his little church has a corner on Truth, but only wrote a short note before surgery to say they were praying for me and never inquired as to how I was doing or called me after surgery or through radiation? No! My gay brother & his partner who came to care for me the two weeks surrounding my surgery! I will take the love shown through a Believer who may not have it all together (and who does?) over suffocating legalism ANY day!

I would MUCH rather see the Gospel lived out than hear the words coming from one who does not practice it! Anyone can say "God loves you, etc", but to SHOW the love & servant heart of God takes sacrifice and a relationship with Him. I pray I can show more & more of this attribute of the Saviour.

I heard this week, from a former person in leadership at YWAM Honolulu while I was there. It was one I did not know very well, but whom I had not experienced any abuse from. I shared what I had gone through & where I was at now, still healing from over a decade ago of over a decade of ugly spiritual abuse.

I experienced more healing with his words which also shared a broken view of leadership at YWAM while I was there as well as a lack of grace. He had also shared things that had gone on in his life after YWAM in Christian community, failures & decisions people did not agree with & so turned their backs on him. Again, so often the Church will “love” us if we do, say and are like we perceive who they want us to be. Praise Jesus, He accepts us right where we're at.

Our conversation began when I posted that I was going to watch the DVD on Lonnie Frisbee:
Lonnie Frisbee, The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher. It shared how if it were not for Lonnie Frisbee, there would probably be no Calvary Chapel or Vineyard denominations but due to Lonnie's struggles, they have wiped him out of their history.

Unfortunately, I think how Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard treated Lonnie is all too typical of the Church. I think that a lot of spiritual leaders don't realize they too live in glass houses as they throw stones of condemnation at those who are not like them and struggle with sins they evidently feel the blood of Christ can not cover. It makes those who struggle with sin (and that includes ALL of us) feel that we are not wanted by God, much less His church.

I liked how Lonnie was heard saying to Christians, “Take your free will back!” I felt the 12 years I was in YWAM I gave up my priceless gift of free will to the leaders. Man tries all too often to try & force us to wear the yolk of sinless perfection and legalism while God can and does use us right where we're at, in spite of our weakness, frailty and shortcomings. God's yolk is light while man's is crushing.

The longer I have been away from YWAM there is even a stronger stench to legalism. The one who has not experienced much grace himself shows little grace towards others...

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Song for Me

Photo of me as a Child

After re-connecting with my friend Caleb Shepard I met at YWAM Honolulu, who is also from Idaho I directed him to my blog as he was at the YWAM base during the last, most abusive days with me. He is an author, playwright, professional musician, artist, and Martial arts instructor. Caleb has a ministry called
Men of Valor Ministries and Echoes of Heaven. He is based in Knoxville, TN with his lovely wife Kathryn and three children.

He wrote a song for me reflecting on spiritual abuse entitled Show Me You (Click on title to play).

Today on Facebook, he wrote:

This song "Show Me You" was written for my friend Joel W. Carlson who is one of the most beautiful jewels in the Kingdom of God. I have seen him endure countless unjustified injustices and yet still overflows with the creativity and love that only reveals the nature of God. Love you Joey.

I am humbled and blessed by his words, but feel unworthy of them. I am honored to call Caleb, a kind and humble man my friend and brother.