“You prophets tell lies. Your lies hurt good people—I did not want to hurt them! You support the wicked and encourage them. You don’t tell them to change their lives. You don’t try to save their lives! 23 So you will not see any more useless visions or do any more magic. I will save my people from your power, and you will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 13: 13-23
My mom and dad raised me, but my grandmother (dad’s mom) took us (three sisters) to church with her every Sunday. Mom and dad did not regularly go to church when we were little, but both believed in God.
This morning I find myself reminiscing about my mom and dad. They divorced after 25 years of marriage before we were of age. At that point, they went their separate ways. Mom took us to California to live, dad stayed in Chicago, eventually remarrying within a few years.
My oldest sister and I only stayed in California for about a year. We wanted to move back to Chicago, and mom let us since dad had remarried. That arrangement changed shortly after we moved back.
My sister moved with our aunt (dad’s sister), and I stayed with dad and my stepmother. My oldest sister and I are 10.5 months apart. When we moved back to Chicago, she was a freshman in high school, and I was in eighth grade.
My stepmother was a devout Christian; she even had dad going to church every Sunday. Dad’s only sister and my uncle, also devoted Christians, went to church almost every Sunday. So once again, going to the church continued to be a normal part of my life.
When I started going to church with dad and my stepmom, I began to form opinions on different church issues because mom and dad’s church was quite amusing. Perhaps this was my second glimpse into a thing called life.
Our preacher was gay during a time when gay was not accepted, especially in a flamboyant display. My stepmother had been a member there for many years’ way before she and dad married. In fact, she was much older than dad by about twenty years.
She was very close to her pastor; cooked dinner for him at his house and at the church. I remember being at his house with her and my dad after church several times when the pastor was cussing like a sailor.
The first time I was shocked. I thought to myself, “what kind of church is this?” The matter did not seem to bother my dad or stepmom. Three or four years later, I married, moved away from home, and started having kids.
During this next phase of my life, I started going to my in-law’s church, Methodist. I was not involved in any ministries, auxiliaries, or groups, but my husband’s pastor and husband were very close.
They went to high school together. However, my husband had stopped going to church.
As I matured and life took its course, I begin to change my views about the church in general. After about ten years of marriage, the fairy tale began to look like one that would not have a happy ending. As fate would have it, we divorced when the kids were like 9 and 5.
My church home was about to be no more again because there was no chance I would show my face in that church again! From that point on, that church was my ex-husband’s family’s church. The next step, “we went our separate ways.” I became a single mother, moved to the other side of town, and the rest is history. When somebody tells you life is kicking them in the butt, be empathetic. You don’t know what a person is going through. Sometimes they just need you, not a therapy session. Humans need to vent. It helps when you can do it and not be judged, criticized, or corrected before laying your heart on the line.
Within the year, I befriended a kind Christian lady on my job. Even though she was considerably older than me, we became like aunt and niece. She always wanted a daughter to go along with her son, but that was never going to happen since her biological clock had stopped ticking.
At any rate, one day, she invited me to her church. The invite turned into a matchmaking attempt backed by good intentions. She had gotten to know a single professional man at church whom she thought would be a good catch.
He was a deacon at the church. The introduction went off without a hitch, eventually leading to a relationship, finally marriage. God was working in my life, but little did I know this man was about to be a piece of work. However, it would be almost eight years before I would learn his real identity. My views on meeting a good man in the church were about to do a 360.
We started attending the church as a family with an understanding that he was the man, the decision-maker, seat chooser, financier, bible scholar, attorney, and self-professed “been in church all his life Christian.”
Okay, these characteristics represent all that he was to himself, which became the nucleus of our marital problems. I saw red flags early on, but I at least wanted to give it a chance. This church, like so many others, never really felt like my home church. His past always seemed to be a part of our present.
Within a year, we moved from Illinois to Atlanta, where we joined a megachurch. Megachurches had never been my thing, but I took one for the team. After settling down in Atlanta, I began taking in therapeutic foster teens.
My daughter had just started high school, and my eighteen-year-old son had stayed in Chicago with his dad. At one point, I began to miss him dearly, so I started asking him to move to Atlanta with the family and me there. He told me he did not want to live in Atlanta but would come to visit as often as possible. I did not give up. I kept asking him to come. One morning he called me. He said he wanted to come to live with me. I was elated, overjoyed.
I talked to his dad about the move, and we both agreed. Within a few days, my son had arrived in Atlanta, and within two weeks, he was killed by a twenty-one-year-old driver. This was the beginning of the end that I had come to know and love.
I began to feel as though I was caught in a storm with nothing to cover or protect me from the harsh cold element. The rain just kept on coming.
During that same time, my husband’s mother had an aneurysm. He was her only child. She lived in New York, was no longer able to take care of herself, so she moved to Atlanta with us during my storm.
It was so much going on that I did not know which way to turn. We had recently purchased a home before my son came to Atlanta and would have been closing on the house two weeks before he died. My son never got to set foot in the house, but he did see it. I beat myself up for a long time, thinking that if I hadn’t asked him to move to Atlanta, he would still be alive.
My life had hit a wall, there was no upside or light at the end of the tunnel.
I am usually the go-to-person for uplifting words, but I had nothing to myself. I really do not know if I was depressed or just deeply grieved and angry.
My husband (then) had asked me if I thought it would be better if his mom and I started going to the 11 o’clock church service rather than the 7:30-morning service; he thought it took too long for me to get his mom ready for church to leave with him.
I agreed to it because it made sense and was easier on his mother and me. Her cognitive thinking and overall body strength had deteriorated. An aneurysm changed her life in a way that totally changed her quality of life. She couldn’t comb her own hair and had no daughters.
She could not remember how to scramble an egg or make toast but I love to cook.
She did not want to be a burden yet she had nobody to take her in.
Finally, I got it! God sent her to me because I loved her like I loved my own mother.
Whatever she could no longer do for herself, I could and would do for her. God planned the work. My job was to work on the plan.
Consequently, I was like Whitney Houston when she said in song “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.” So, one day, I took a good look at my mother-in-law’s dilemma and compared it to mine. I could not help but ask myself “who would I rather be, my mother-in-law or me?”
Just when I began to think the storm was subsiding, I got hit head-on by part two of the storm. “I found out my husband (at that time) was having an affair with a woman who went to our church, and they had a two-year-old together.” The funny thing, before I found out about her, I had told myself I could not take any worse in my life.
I had begun to develop negative opinions about the church in general. I was really church hurt. “My heart was wrenched.”
When I thought about caring for my husband’s mom during her aneurysm while he was unfaithful crushed my spirit. His mom was so hurt and angry with him. I wouldn’t know for sure if I was depressed. I think I angrier than anything else.
So at that point, I was at my wit’s end, as low as anybody could go and still manage to get up. I hit rock bottom. While I was down there, the Lord told me to let go of all the hurt, paper trails, and anger brought on by my husband’s infidelity and fathering a child outside of our marriage.
I realized at that moment because the love was gone, which made it possible for me to pick up the pieces of my life and move on with God’s help. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulder.
God spoke to me about the final paper trail on my son’s life, consisting of medical records, a death certificate, and a coroner’s report. I had gotten into a habit of reading them every day as if they were a newspaper.
I prayed, asking God for strength, courage, and faith to make decisions that I needed to make to get on with my life.
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
As time went by, I matured in Christ by reading the Bible more and praying for understanding.
The Lord spoke to me about my walk with Jesus. He said I could do more. I wanted to do more. I became a therapeutic foster parent. I believe that was how God wanted me to use my spiritual gifts during that phase of my life.
I learned how to take the gifts and skills that he had given me and utilize them in all walks of life.
Knowing and understanding the message of Christ’s death and Resurrection is a big part of my ability to testify.
“I believe that Jesus Christ was crucified, died, on the third day he rose from the grave and ascended into heaven. Additionally, I believe that with all my heart because if that did not happen as the Apostle, Paul says, “our faith is futile and we would still be living in our sins, and those who have fallen asleep in Christ have actually perished if none of this is true.”
What changed me when I accepted Jesus as Lord and savior can look in the mirror and recognize my faults; I could not fix my brokenness no matter how hard I tried.
My heart had become hard and cold, especially toward the church. Although I was still going to church, I had come to resent the church which was hindering my spiritual growth.
I realized that God didn’t want me to waste my time complaining about what was going on in every church. He wanted me to do His will, spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and not be contributing to the source of what was tearing me apart.
I have taken everything that I’ve learned from attending various Churches over the years and hidden it in my heart so I can serve them anytime, anyplace.
After coming to Christ, I realize that the church was never capable of feeling voids that God had not yet emptied. It seems that I have spent half a lifetime attempting to place question marks where God had already put a period.
Making the church my enemy was a mistake. God already knows that many places of worship are not what he ordained them to be. That’s why he empowered believers to set their gifts free and use them abundantly.
The search was over. I am a new creature in Christ. I have taken off the old, and I put on the new.
When I raise up my hands and fall on my knees, Jesus begins to fulfill his promise of supplying all my needs.
The Lord invited me to separate my soul from the living dead to bring everything ahead. He gave me a new song to sing, new clothes to replace the old. By all accounts, I am a new creature in Christ.
I don’t ever want to be separated from God again. I want an everlasting life just as I have been promised by Christ, my Friend.
Let me tell you how I came to Christ. I was broken, a wretch, a token of Satan with a heart in need of rejuvenation. I’m not running anymore. God rescued me from me, and He gave me a chance to get my life back on track. I will never look back.
Thank God I know what my spiritual gifts are. I know my purpose. It is to lead others to Christ by example.
Okay, I said I’m churched out! Churched out means being sick of the hypocrisy, mixed messages, and all the mess many modern-day churches embody. My statement about being churched out in no way suggests the church has become irrelevant. But, it does suggest that Christians must reevaluate the true meaning of Christianity and how their church measures up to the early church. To worship idolatry, ignore false prophecy to appease those who promote it is a sure-fire way to damnation.
If you don’t believe me, believe the Word of God!
Warnings Against False Prophets
13 Then, the word of the Lord came to me. He said, 2 “Son of man, you must speak to the prophets of Israel for me. They are only saying what they want to say. You must speak to them. Tell them this: ‘Listen to this message from the Lord! 3 This is what the Lord God says. Bad things will happen to your foolish prophets. You are following your own spirits. You are not telling people what you really see in visions.
4 “‘Israel, your prophets are false prophets. They are like jackals hunting for food among the ruins of a city. 5 You have not put soldiers near the broken walls of the city. You have not built walls to protect the family of Israel. So when the day comes for the Lord to punish you, you will lose the war!
6 “‘Your prophets say they have seen visions. They did their magic to see what will happen next. But everything they said would happen is a lie. They claim to speak for the Lord, but the Lord did not send them. And they still think that what they said is what will happen.
7 “‘If you prophets saw visions, they were not true. And all you got from your magic was lies! So how can you say that the Lord told you those things? I did not speak to you!’”
8 So now, the Lord God really will speak. He says, “You told lies. You saw visions that were not true. So now I am against you!” This is what the Lord God said. 9 “I will punish those prophets whose visions are false and who lie about the future. I will remove them from my people. Their names will not be in the list of the family of Israel. They will never again come to the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord God!
10 “Again and again those false prophets lied to my people. They said there would be peace, but there is no peace. The people need to fix the walls and prepare for war. But they only slap a thin coat of plaster[b] over the broken walls. 11 Tell them that I will send hail and a strong rain. The wind will blow hard, and a tornado will come. Then the wall will fall down. 12 When the wall falls down, the people will ask the prophets, ‘What happened to the plaster you put on the wall?’” 13 The Lord God says, “I am angry and I will send a storm against you. I am angry and I will send a strong rain. I am angry and I will make hail fall from the sky and completely destroy you! 14 You put plaster on the wall, but I will destroy the whole wall. I will pull it to the ground. The wall will fall on you, and then you will know that I am the Lord. 15 I will finish showing my anger against the wall and those who put plaster on it. Then I will say, ‘There is no wall, and there are no workers to put plaster on it.’
16 “All these things will happen to the false prophets of Israel. They speak to the people of Jerusalem and say there will be peace, but there is no peace.” This is what the Lord God said.
17 God said, “Son of man, look at the women prophets in Israel. They say the things they want to say, so you must speak against them for me. You must say this to them: 18 ‘This is what the Lord God says: Bad things will happen to you women. You sew cloth bracelets for people to wear on their arms. You make special scarves for people to wear on their heads. You say those things have magic powers to control people’s lives. You trap the people only to keep yourselves alive! 19 You make them think I am not important. You turn them against me for a few handfuls of barley and a few scraps of bread. You tell lies to my people. They love to listen to lies. You kill those who should live, and you let people live who should die. 20 So this is what the Lord God says to you: You make those cloth bracelets to trap people, but I will set them free. I will tear those bracelets off your arms, and the people will be free from you. They will be like birds flying from a trap. 21 And I will tear up those scarves and save my people from your power. They will escape from your trap, and you will know that I am the Lord.
22 “‘You prophets tell lies. Your lies hurt good people—I did not want to hurt them! You support the wicked and encourage them. You don’t tell them to change their lives. You don’t try to save their lives! 23 So you will not see any more useless visions or do any more magic. I will save my people from your power, and you will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 13: 13-23