Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas Message

Christmas would be much better if there were a lot less consumerism and bickering about word usage, and instead a lot more love, tolerance and compassion. Christmas can bring out the worst and most hateful side in people.  Sometimes I am ashamed of what my fellow Christians do over the holidays. 

Do not get caught up in consumerism. If a business is open on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day then that means these workers are not able to spend the holidays with their families. Please boycott these companies. Do you really have to buy something in the middle of the night on Thanksgiving or Christmas?  And do you have to pull out those credit cards? Would Jesus want you becoming “slaves to lenders” on the celebration of his birthday?

And don’t forget the spirit of Santa Clause.  Santa has been turned into a market ploy so people will spend more money. Santa was originally about giving to kids who had nothing. Be Santa for someone this year instead of rushing all over the malls and supporting the Corporate Clause.  Give to a child who will not get something from Santa this year. Instead of focusing on what Santa will bring your kids, remind them about the gift of Jesus.

Please lose the obsession over Christmas vs. Holidays.  I once received messages on a social network from a fellow Christian who was encouraging people to boycott his buddy’s party because it was called a “holiday” party rather than a Christmas Party.  How are you supposed to witness to others if you cannot even attend a party because it is called a “holiday party”? Would Jesus really care what the party is called?  What is it Christians are so afraid of? Are you that weak in your faith that you cannot celebrate the holidays with someone of another faith? How would you feel if a Jewish friend did not show up to your Christmas or Holiday Party because you did not call it a Hanukkah Party?

I am not sure where this originated, but it circulates in email during Christmas.  I found this copy on a blog. This pretty much sums up how feel about Christmas. Please read this “letter from Jesus.” I hope it opens your eyes up to some things.  
A Letter from Jesus about Christmas

My Dearest Loved Ones,

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season.
How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER!
Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that, there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.
Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.
If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:
1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.
2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up... it will be nice hearing from you again.
4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need - spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.
5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.
6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.
7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one.
8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary - especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.
9. Here's a good one... There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.
10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.
Don't forget - I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court.
And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember...

I Love You,
Jesus (Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented (blog).2010)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Testimony: From Satanism to Christianity

I will start with a brief overview of my journey to Christ.  I spent five years practicing the occult in some form; Ultimately, I became a Satanist and formed a coven with my husband. In October of 2008 I was saved and baptized. My spiritual journey has been a long and winding road that eventually led me to pursue a Master of Divinity program in seminary school.

I grew up with a single mom. My father left when I was three; my sister is 14 years older than me so I was mostly an only child. My mother had multiple mental health issues growing up and never got over my dad leaving.  As a child, my mother was a Christian; we attended a Southern Baptist church quite regularly.  When I was 5 or 6, my mother pulled me aside while we were visiting my grandmother. I remember the exact spot in her living room next to the huge window overlooking the front yard down a long gravel driveway.  She told me that if I did not let Christ into my heart, I would burn forever in fire. She had me kneel next to her and led me through a prayer to accept Christ.  I was terrified at the thought of the eternal fire; I did not feel Christ in my heart. I prayed multiple times as a child asking him to enter, but I never felt him, and I did not understand why.  I was haunted by nightmares about burning in the lake of fire throughout my childhood.

Eventually, my mom became more and more depressed and we stopped attending church.  Any time we did attend church or talk about church, it was always a church that was really fundamentalist, judgmental and talked a lot about Hell.  Every Christian I knew spoke about the law and Hell and how you should or should not act, or they were just plain hypocrites.  I never had a good Christian role model and certainly was never shown the loving side of Christ.

As a child, I remember a lot of unusual things around me. I often felt a presence as if I could sense spirits.  I dreamed vivid dreams There were other things that led me to later seek out the occult. In the 6th grade, a teacher pulled my mother aside and said she was “scared” of me and that I made her nervous. This same teacher was an extremely fundamentalist Christian to the point where she did not want to discuss evolution in class nor allow “trick or treating” on Halloween.

To add to that, my mother told me that the other family members thought I was “strange” or “different,” and “selfish.”  My mother kept us isolated from nearly everyone. I practically had to take care of her as a child due to her mental health issues. She had me believing that all we had was each other and that no one else cared about us.  She always pitted me against my dad when she had financial issues and made me call him up asking for money.  By the time I was a teenager, I hated my family. I saw them as living the good life with plenty of money while my mom couldn’t afford to feed us. I didn’t realize that she was in fact spending all her money due to bipolar issues.  I started to struggle with temper and rage issues.  I became outraged over social injustices that affected my mother. Over time, I think I started to believe that I was alone, strange and different, and then when the demons said I was different because I was special or “chosen,” I started to believe it as well.

I had a friend in high school who was involved in the youth group at another Southern Baptist church, but it seemed to me that all the church ever cared about was homosexuality and abortion. Plus, they openly promoted Rush Limbaugh whom I despised. I happened to be a liberal and I started to feel isolated because of that.  It was all about politics, the law, Hell and judgment. I went to the youth group to be with my friend, but it never meant anything as the focus was always on how we should not act, how terrible the world was, and how everyone was going to Hell.  One of our Sunday school youth group lessons was about the details of the abortion procedure for instance. This church was the perfect example of a congregation suffering from what Lane and Tripp call the “Gospel Gap” in How People Change. The gospel gap according to Lane and Tripp is a vast gap in our understanding of the gospel which undermines all of our relationships, our decisions, and our attempts to minister to others.[1] This church certainly failed at ministering to me as a youth and instead pushed me far away from Christ.

I did very good in school, and was active in student government and politics. I was a leader and I had the respect of others, but I had no really close friends.  My mom smothered me and doted on my so much that I felt guilty not spending time with her. I was nominated as “most likely to become a politician” when senior superlatives came out our senior year.  

I attended Cornell University, and loved every moment of it.  For the first time, I had close friends. I was very bold and ambitious. I liked to challenge the status quo and question standard beliefs. I enjoyed the attention of a good debate. Whatever I did, I became a leader in it as always. I was not religious and did not really care about it either way. I got my buckets filled so to speak in politics just as I did in high school.  Looking back, I believe I started to like the power and crave it more and more. On top of that, I started to struggle more with anger issues.

It was not until after college that I really sought out the occult. I was active in politics and various social and peace movements. During the Iraq War, I became active in the peace movement and for the first time actually really sought out Christ because I witnessed loving Christians in the peace movement.  This was the closest I had seen to Christians doing Christ like things.  However, something happened. Looking back on it now, I realize it might have been the final seed.

While in the Middle East, I came across a group of “sun worshippers” in a village. I don’t think it was intentional, but seeds were planted. As I said before, I was always attuned to spirits and things around me. The place felt strange and uneasy.  Part of me didn’t want to go into the temple, but I did. After that I started to delve into paganism, fascinated with Babylonian mythology.  I want to emphasize here that I do not blame people of other religions, but Satan used that as a gateway to reach me and the seeds had already been planted as a child. It was not any one person’s fault; it was simply the energy around that village.  Others were there with me and to my knowledge were not impacted by it, other than one individual flipping out about the fact that these people are also rumored to worship the devil.

When I came back home to the states, I realized that there was an active occult movement. I liked the empowering energy and craved the knowledge and power that might come with it. I learned Reiki which opened me up even further to the occult. I became a Reiki Master and started to teach others about the occult. Reiki itself was not bad, but I used it to open myself up to darker energies. Opening yourself up to strange “energy” and “channeling your spirit guide,” is a wide open gate to demons and Satan.

During this time, a coworker introduced me to a Christian book series called Left Behind.  I read the series and then studied Revelation more in the Bible. The series was really a hateful, graphic and cruel portrayal of Christ and the end times. I would not recommend it for a seeking person.  This type of thing only makes you accept Christ out of fear, not love.  It would be okay for a solid, secure Christian, but not a non- believer.  I could not understand how a loving God could destroy his creation. I started to become sympathetic to Lucifer “Satan,” I saw him as simply God’s adversary trying to protect humanity from his wrath. I slowly realized the new age spirit guides were demons and I saw Lucifer as a “light bringer.”  I started to channel his energy and pray to him and it felt empowering.  I started communicating with the demons on a regular basis, and was told to form a coven, a coven that would become an army.

Ultimately, myself and a few others founded this coven, naming it the Order of the Morning Star.  This is where I met my husband, Joseph Craig.  We had known each other for a few years, and he was also into paganism and the new age. He happened to have started out with Nordic paganism where as I came from Babylonian paganism. He like myself had grown up around a very judgmental church and family, and also was attuned to spirits.  He joined the Order of the Morning Star and later we started formally dating.  He could channel demons as well and was a great teacher like I was a good leader. We recruited more and grew the coven.  We actually thought we could win Armageddon.

We also had a more legitimate business as a front called the Indigo Dawn. The Indigo Dawn was our “new age” cover where we offered Reiki healing, spirit guidance, channeling, divination, etc.

[1] Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp, How People Change (Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2008), 2.

At various times we let other members of the coven live with us.  We opened up our home as a place to teach new members.  We believed we were doing the right thing, that we were enlightening humanity to the truth.  However, over time, the demons started becoming more violent and forceful with us, and in turn we became more coercive and harder with other members.  Eventually, things kind of became a blur.

I was falling hard.  I had a one way ticket to Hell. I had a raging temper during all of this and the slightest offense would set me off.   I had started to realize that Lucifer was indeed evil and started embracing the violent, destructive side of it all. I had no morals and thought I was invincible.  I realized that Satan was not going to win the war and that the only end for me was Hell.  I did not care though as I had come to accept my fate. Part of me thought about getting out of it, but Satan and the demons threatened me. They said they’d kill everyone I loved if I didn’t do what they asked.  

So I did all they asked, until one day the Durham Police showed up.  They arrested Joe and myself for assault. Two members of our coven had turned us in saying we had beaten and abused them.  Apparently, they wanted out and the only place they knew to turn was the police.  We weren’t guilty of all the charges, but we weren’t innocent either. We had dragged these two to Hell with us. Granted they were Satanists too, but we were their leaders and we were hard on them just as the demons were hard on us.  It was a violent path, and all who follow it eventually figure that out.

I spent three weeks in Durham County Jail until I could afford to bond out. My friends and family stood by me and showed me nothing but love. I had friends put up their own money to bond me out. Even as I set in jail, it all seemed surreal to me. I am thankful for the inmates that taught me about Christ. I remember the passage that one inmate showed me. It was Psalm 27.  The inmate giving it to me was in jail on charges of murder. She was facing more time than I could imagine, yet she talked to me about Christ.  I was sort of sulky at first. I didn’t believe I deserved to be in jail. Then another inmate asked me bluntly, “So you never did anything wrong before?”  She was right; I did deserve to be there.  My time in jail really opened me up to what injustices were really out there. I had been a peace activist and social activist, but it took suffering with others in jail to really make me see what I had missed.  While in jail, I prayed to Christ and reached out to him.  Also, while in jail, I was very worried about my dog, a pitbull named Tia. She was my baby and I was terrified the police would search the house and shoot her because she was very defensive.  I prayed for Tia’s safety many times. It turns out the police did search our house, and an officer was able to walk Tia outside with no problems at all. She is still with me today. That was not in her nature, and the only way I can explain that is God. For some that might not mean much, but to me that meant everything. When I need a reminder of God’s love for me and to know he does not abandon us, I just pat Tia.

When I bonded out, I attended my mom’s church, Providence Road Church of Christ, in Charlotte.  They loved me and accepted me.  I was saved and baptized. As I was baptized I felt a wave of peace wash over me. That night I drove to Durham to visit my husband in jail. The jail was on lock down and I was turned away. Had it not been for that baptism, I would have lost my temper and who knows what would have happened. A few months later, Joe bonded out again with the help of a good friend and family. He too became saved and baptized.  The church continued to show us love and guide us in our new life and even help us with a place to stay and money.  A year or so after our arrest, Joe and I accepted a plea deal for Misdemeanor assault. We served a year probation. After all we had been through and the felonies we were facing, this was indeed a blessing from God.

I do not know where Joe and I would be today had we not been arrested that night. I honestly believe that God stepped in to free us from Satan’s grip. I would say we would either be dead, in prison, or worse doing exactly what we thought we wanted to do.  There is nothing else God could have done to get my attention. I am sure he tried in other ways, but the only thing that would work was to forcefully get me out of Satan’s grip. He isolated me in jail where I had no choice to but clear my head and think about where I was headed.

Currently, Joe and I are still happily married. We are attending and volunteering at Holy Covenant United Church of Christ.  I am a student in the Master of Divinity Program at Chicago Theological Seminary. We are sharing our story with others and also reaching out to those in prison.  I now realize that the leadership gifts I had were meant to be used for Christ. I am still a peace and social activist, but I am at peace now. I have righteous anger, not the violent type I had before.  I have been through it and want to be a witness to others in similar situation.  I had friends supporting me when I was in jail, but it was still a lonely, stressful, terrifying situation. I cannot imagine how it must feel for someone who has no support.  I want to give testimonies and tell my story about the dangers of the occult.   I want to show people the love of Christ, not judgment.  If it were about the law, Jesus did not need to die on the Cross.  It’s about Grace and Mercy.  No one can fulfill the law. If you’ve committed one sin, you’ve committed them all. If you hear more about judgment and politics at your church, then pray about it and find another. Do not judge Christ based on the actions of his followers. Do not turn to the enemy because you are not feeling Christ’s love at church. Those are just one of Satan’s many tools to keep you from knowing Christ. If God stepped in to save a Satanist, then he can save you too.  Like Saul became Paul, God will get the glory in the end.

Finally, I want to address people who were involved in the occult with Joe and I. I am not trying to blame anyone for my decision to follow Satan. Yes, my childhood and the church were contributing factors, but ultimately, I made the decision to follow Satan. No one made me do it. I am sorry for anyone I hurt in any way. I know it is hard to believe I am sincere. As fanatical and hateful as I was back then, I wouldn't believe me either. That's okay if you don't, but don't hold that against Christ. Please give him a chance regardless of how you feel about me.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Feed Tia

Seeing as though this is my first blog post, I thought I would use it to explain the title of this blog, “Feed Tia.”

Tia is my white female Pit Bull Terrier.  I purchased her not long after I graduated from college and moved to Durham, North Carolina. She was born deaf in one ear and could hear very little from the other.  I took her to obedience school, but still she was always very defensive, jumpy , and protective.  Unfortunately, she is everything that gives pit bulls a bad name; she is aggressive, and unpredictable, but I love her anyway.  I raised her since a puppy and she was always there for me when I had no one else.  She knows when I am sad and jumps right in front of me when she thinks I am in danger.  

Our home has a reputation of being the house with the scary “cujo” about to jump through the window.  When members of our church helped us move in, she nearly chewed through the bedroom door.   However, after Tia gets to know and trust you, she is a sweetheart and will love you forever.   The same dog that looked like she wanted to rip your throat out will lay in your lap and wash your face for you, but that is after she knows you are a good person.   She loves our cats and gets along generally with other dogs, but she does not trust people.

Before I became a Christian, I was involved in Satanism and the occult. I had never really seen the love of Christ, only the more judgmental “accept Christ or burn in Hell.”  Long story short (a story I will tell in more detail later on this blog), my husband , Joe, and I shared our home with other occultists, and as expected following such a dark path, things got violent.   Our two housemates had us arrested for assault.  I spent about three weeks in jail, and one of the things that worried me most was Tia.  I was terrified that I might lose her. I knew that if the police searched the house, they would shoot her.  Our neighbor watched out for her and took care of our pets, but one time he was away, and as I feared the police did show up to search the house.  By this time, several inmates had shared the Bible with me, and I had started reading some passages and slowly reaching out to Christ. 

One night during visitation hours, our neighbor, Jim, showed up to visit me. He showed me pictures of our pets and assured me Tia was fine. He said the police did search the house, and when he came over that night to feed Tia and the cats, the back door was open and Tia was running around outside in the backyard.  There was a notice on the door saying animal control had picked up one of our cats because the police thought the animals had been abandoned, and would be back to collect the others.  Jim talked to the police to find out what had happened. Apparently when the police showed up, one of the officers was able to get Tia to follow him outside while they searched the house.  There is no way this would have happened under normal circumstances.  I can attribute it to a kind police officer who understands a dog is protecting its territory, but as aggressive and threatening as Tia can be in her territory, I do not believe that was the only explanation.  Thank God, all of our animals turned out okay. One of our cats hid, and Jim retrieved the other from the animal shelter.  

I prayed about Tia many times in jail.  It was a miracle that the cops did not shoot her. I believe God knew what she meant to me, and that he wanted to show me his love for me even when in the past I scoffed at Him.  When I am doubting or feeling down today, all I need to do is look at Tia and I am reminded of God’s love for me.  I believe without a doubt He is the only reason she is with us today.  After both Joe and I bonded out of jail, we had accepted Christ and shortly after our release, we both got baptized at Providence Road Church of Christ.

In the Bible after Jesus had returned from the dead, He was having breakfast with his disciples.  “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”  Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”” John 21: 15-17. The most important thing that Jesus wanted his disciples to do was love and tend to others.   A lawyer of the Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was.  He answered, “You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and the first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22: 34-40. God wants us to do for the “least of these.” He wants us to love others no matter what they do.   “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even the sinners love those who love them. If you do good for those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even the sinners do the same.”  Luke 6: 32-34

Had it not been for Christians reaching out to Joe and myself, we would not have seen the love of Christ and accepted his Grace.  Members of Providence Road Church of Christ showed us love and did not judge us despite all that was said about our case all over the news.  The case was sensationalized because of the occult nature and the fact that I was involved in politics.  When we were released from jail, church members offered us a place to stay, got us counseling, and even helped us financially.

 If something happened to me, would you feed Tia for me? Would you come to our house and love on her despite how she growled at you? A Christian family at our church already did. They took her into their home while I was away at court.  Like Tia, we were mean, hateful, and intolerant.  However, through Christ’s love and mercy, we were saved.  Would you give a dog a chance if it were growling at you and lunging toward you to bite? Would you be kind to someone and show them mercy if they were insulting and throwing insults at you or if they were beating you up?  Jesus did even as he was being beaten and nailed to the cross.