Is It A Church Or A Cult?(written by Judena Klebs)

Is It A Church Or A Cult?(written by Judena Klebs)

There are many traits of cults, but we have recently encountered three of them :

1) Not wanting people in their group to read anything but their own literature to interpret the Bible

Recently we were told that we should not even read books from the library. The leader who mentioned this seems to believe that pastors can read whatever they want to read.
Do you suppose that there are opinions or information that they don’t want us to know?

2) Ostracizing those who leave the group

One of the common traits of a cult is when they tell their people to have nothing to do with those who have left their organization. The people are ordered to exclude them in every way, not to be friendly to them in any way, and are usually encouraged to persecute them or punish them in some way for leaving the group.

3) Dominating leadership

A prominent sign of a cult is leadership that claims to have special access to God that no one else has, that they are the source of truth, and that others must obey everything they say, having complete loyalty to their control.
I have heard some leaders say that their congregation answers only to them and that the leader himself answers only to God, Without any say from other humans. They believe that only they know what God approves or disapproves and that they alone are God’s representative. They supposedly have rights and privileges that others cannot enjoy.
Jesus said that the one who wants to be great must be the servant of all. The Bible also warns the shepherds of their congregation not to “lord it over” the flock.
When we run into people who think that they are the “boss” and consider it their job to dictate every detail of people’s lives, we know that we are seeing evidence of a cult. If leaders say that they answer to no other human authority but instead answer only to God without being questioned and if they refuse to listen to anyone else’s input, they should not be followed. Too bad that there are so many “churches” that are really cults.


Is God Responsible for our Suffering ? (an essay by Judena Klebs)

Is God Responsible for our Suffering ? (an essay by Judena Klebs)

For as long as I can remember, I have heard people pass on traditional
beliefs that God is the one who either “causes” or “allows” our
suffering.I have heard it in various churches and in society as a
whole. It is so common that people don’t seem to question it very
often. Is this what the Bible really teaches ?
I have suffered in various ways throughout my life. Many times I was
judged by others that God had caused my suffering because of some
fault of my own. Other times, it was worded that God had allowed my
suffering because I needed to change in some way. Many times I have
become frustrated with people’s conclusions.
One day I made a list of many of the things I had heard and was still
hearing from people whenever I had a problem. There were twelve
statements that came to mind. Perhaps there are other statements that
people make to blame God for our suffering but these twelve seem to
cover a lot of ground. I decided to respond to each of these
statements with comments and with scripture to hopefully counter some
of Satan’s lies coming to us through traditional beliefs.

Reasons people say that God “causes” or “allows” our suffering :

1) To make us a better person

2) To teach us something

3) To test us

4) To make us able to help others

5) To make us patient

6) To make us stronger

7) To prepare us for Heaven

8) To punish us for something

9) To keep us from pride

10) To make us like Christ

11) To teach us to be content

12) To help us get rid of sin

My Response to Each Reason :

1) To make us a better person

If suffering will make us better people, why do some suffer more than
others? Do some people need more improvement than others? Even if they
suffer as babies or young children? If they suffer, does that mean
they are inferior people to those who suffer less?
Acts 10:34 tells us that God does not show favoritism between people.
Actually, what does a person define as a “better” person? What kind of
improvements in a person really count? Who is to judge the quality of
people? If I hit you over the head with a baseball bat, would I make
you a better person?

2) To teach us something

How does suffering educate us? We find out how painful our lives are,
that we are unhappy, and that life is difficult. If that is what we
are supposed to learn, how does that benefit any one in any way?
1 Timothy 3:16,17 say that the scripture is useful for teaching, for
reproof, and for training in righteousness to equip us for every good
If the scripture teaches us what we need to know, wouldn’t suffering
only distract us from learning from the scripture? How can we
concentrate on the instruction we receive from our Bible study while
we are in pain?

3) To test us

The only tests God gave people in the Bible were commands to test
obedience. He did not send suffering except in judgment.
Except in cases where intercession turned the situation around, the
judgment was final. Since it was a final judgment, it could neither
teach nor test a person.
In James 1:13,14, God claims that He is not one who tempts anyone. The
words “test” and “tempt” are used interchangeably in this passage.
They come from the same Greek word, ” pi-ras-mos’ “. The kind of
testing that people say comes from God through suffering would be a
temptation to turn away from God rather than to Him. He cannot be
responsible to cause suffering in order to “test” people.

4) To make us able to help others.

If God causes or allows suffering to make us able to help others, why
did He cause or allow the other person to need help with the
particular problem they had in the first place? If no one was
suffering, no one would be needed to understand what the original
suffering person was going through.
It is true that once the suffering has occurred, it can be used for
the good of helping others. However, it is illogical to say that God
would cause or allow suffering so that people could be relieved of
suffering by being “helped”. Does He want them to suffer or be helped?
Which is it? Is His kingdom divided against itself?
In Matthew 12 : 24-26, the Pharisees accused Jesus of having a divided
kingdom by casting out a demon by Satan’s power. Jesus responded by
saying that every kingdom divided against itself is destroyed. How can
we accuse God of such foolishness?

5) To make us patient

Are we more patient when we suffer? I think not.
Many scriptures talk about patience but the word is often translated
as “perseverance” or “endurance”. These words describe a continual
obedience to God in spite of our suffering. Does this mean that the
suffering comes from God for this purpose?
James 1:3 in the King James Version of the Bible says that the testing
of our faith worketh patience. It does make us have to “work” our
patience. But only if we choose to endure.
It is actually harder to be patient when we are suffering because it
is only natural to fight to relieve our suffering. Why take measures
to ease our suffering by going to doctors or taking medicine when we
are sick, for example, if we lose the virtue of patience that way?
This goes back to the idea of suffering making us a better person. If
it does, we are bad when we feel better. Patience is a fruit of the
spirit, not the fruit of suffering ( Galatians 5 : 22 ).

6) To make us stronger

It is not the suffering that makes us stronger, but the endurance
through suffering that makes us stronger. God can use our faithfulness
through our suffering if we choose to endure. We can get through the
suffering to the other side of it, if we do not become bitter toward
God. This can be obtained by the realization that God is not the one
causing the suffering.
If we become stronger because of our endurance, God can use that to
bring good out of a bad situation. James 1 : 3,4 say that the testing
of our faith produces endurance. It does not say that God is the one
testing us. In James 1 : 2, it also says that keeping our joy in the
midst of our trials helps us to get through them and to develop
The Bible does talk a lot about suffering but if you study the context
of it, it usually refers to the suffering of persecution. We are not
always delivered from persecution. People are free to persecute us. It
is one of the ways ¬†we reach others for God’s kingdom. God also
promises to give us strength to go through it. ( See my notes about
“Paul’s thorn in the flesh” in point nine. )

7) To prepare us for Heaven

This is one of the strangest reasons given for suffering that I have
ever heard. As far as I know, there is no suffering in Heaven so how
could suffering here prepare us for it? Revelation 21:4 says that
God’s future Kingdom contains no mourning, crying, or pain.
What prepares us for Heaven is not our suffering but the salvation
from our sins that Jesus provided for us through His death on the
cross. Suffering is not God’s plan but it is the plan of Satan to try
to destroy us.

8) To punish us for something

Jesus has already paid for our sins. We receive Him as our substitute
and no longer need to be punished if we have accepted His free gift.
The Bible does talk about discipline but this is not the same as
punishment. Hebrews 12:5-13 talks about God’s discipline as correction
and instruction. It cannot be the same as punishment which is a
penalty for wrong and has no redeeming purpose. The Hebrews passage
above talks about ultimately producing healing for us.

9) To keep us from pride

People who believe that suffering is meant to keep us from pride are
usually referring to “Paul’s thorn in the flesh” spoken of in 2
Corinthians 12:7-10. This “thorn in the flesh” is said to be sent by a
messenger of Satan to keep Paul from being exalted. The context seems
to be referring to persecution which Paul suffered. To say that God
sent this thorn to keep Paul from being exalted does not consider 1
Peter 5:6,7 which says that God does exalt us in due time if we humble
ourselves. If God was trying to humble Paul through persecution, it
would not say that the “thorn” came from Satan.
God does not send us suffering to keep us from pride. He expects us to
humble ourselves. But then He promises to give us strength when we are

10) To make us like Christ

Philippians 2 : 4-11 tell us to follow Christ example by having the
same attitude toward others as He had when He humbled Himself by
letting go of His equality with God to come to earth and to become a
sacrifice for us. He did not exalt Himself so God, the Father exalted
Him. We are to be like Christ in the way He treated us.
Christ did suffer but He suffered in our place so that we would not be
judged. The only suffering that we are called to do is to suffer
persecution when necessary.
What makes us like Christ? When we live the way He lived on earth and
the way He lives now as He intercedes for us in Heaven. We are like
Him when we pray. We are like Him when we obey God. And we will be
like Him when He returns and we “see Him just as He is.” ( 1 John 3:2).
Suffering, in itself, does not make us like Christ. We may live for
Him or die for the sake of His gospel, but suffering itself does not
come from God.

11) To teach us to be content

This is similar to Point 5 ” To make us patient”. However, it also
suggests that we accept all our problems as coming from God. In
Philippians 4:11-13, Paul states that He has learned to be content in
every circumstance. He does not say that all his circumstances come
from God. He says that God strengthens him to do what He wants him to
do no matter what he faces. Suffering does not make him content but
God’s strength does.

12) To help us get rid of sin

If there is sin in our lives, we are told in 1 John 1:9 that if we
confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That is the way to get rid of
sin. Inflicting suffering on ourselves in penance or expecting God to
inflict suffering on us does not do it. Christ already paid the price
for our sin. We go to Him to get rid of it.

“What about Job?” many people may ask. “Didn’t God allow Satan to test Job?”
If you know the story, Satan tested Job in order to tempt him to curse
God. Since Satan has been the “god of this world” ( 2 Corinthians 4:4
and John 12:31 ), he had power on this earth to do evil. God
recognized that Satan had some power to hurt Job. In the sense that
God gave free will to people and to angels, God did allow Satan’s
control to a point. But He limited Satan’s control. He told Satan that
He would not allow him to take Job’s life. That is because God had a
plan to make up to Job the suffering Satan had caused by giving Job
twice as much as he had before.
In John 12:31 it says Satan has been cast out as god of this world.
But because Christians are unaware of the authority given to us by
Christ, many allow things to happen while thinking that it comes from
God. God was the one who ultimately healed Job. In the end, it was Job
who had to pray for his friends because they had falsely accused God
of punishing Job for some sin in his life.

Many people blame God for “causing” or “allowing” our suffering when
it is really they or others causing or allowing it. Because we have
free wills, we can choose to either obey God or to disobey Him by what
we do. Ultimately, the “bad” comes from Satan, but we and others make
choices that either cause or alleviate suffering. It can be an excuse
for our own decisions and actions to say that God caused or allowed
these things. This is a way to justify them and make them look right
to ourselves and to the rest of the world. Stop blaming God and face
up to your own responsibilities!
These false concepts of God have been taught to the world throughout
history. Maybe we should take a second look at our interpretation of
the Bible and not keep passing on to others what we have heard all of
our lives. Sometimes traditional beliefs can do a lot of damage and
encourage us to judge others who are suffering.

3 Strikes and I’m out

I have made the decision that now is the best time to leave Life Christian Center completely. I had planned to just quit going without saying a word. I didn’t want anyone to ask me my reasons for leaving. I didn’t ask anyone’s permission to visit that church when I started in the spring of 2011. I met a lot of great people in the year and a half that I was at youth group. Overtime though, I felt less and less welcome on Sunday mornings.

Laurie Virgin called me to find out how things were going with my new job. I told her what was happening. Then she said “see you Wednesday”. I had to break the news to her that I would not be coming anymore. What she told me not long after that really broke my heart. She said that she was going to announce to the church that I left and tell them to leave me alone. I didn’t tell her to do that. It is NOT her job to speak for me. I am a 25 year old adult and I can speak for myself.

She said that I was part of the church family and said that I was like a son to her. If this is how she treats a son then it is a good thing she only has daughters. I’m glad that I already have a mother. Laurie also accused my mom of dragging me into some pattern of looking though the eyes of hurt and finding fault with churches. My mom did not drag me into anything, but excuse me if I happen to notice that one of the faults of people in church is to judge my mother when they haven’t taken any time to talk to her and learn who she is. I’ve had people tell me that my mom needs to be put in a rest home, that she’s old, or tell her that God is testing her by breaking her tooth and she’s not passing the test.

I could easily have decided to leave just over the way they treat my mom, or maybe over the creepy dead animals in the men’s bathroom, but I stayed as long as I did because I do like many of the people and I haven’t found fault with the majority. However, I’m sure that when Laurie announces that I’ve left, she’ll try to come up with her own reasons to tell others when they ask why.

And so,I think it’s for everyone’s benefit that I explain the 3 strikes as I call them.

Strike 1

They told me I was a “distraction” when I danced during worship on Sunday. I don’t know who I was distracting or what I was distracting them from, but I felt rejected and not as welcome as I used to. The really odd thing is that even though they discouraged me from dancing on Sunday morning, it was just fine for me to dance in youth group on Wednesday. So tell me, is it right or wrong to dance? If it’s right, then what was wrong about it Sunday? If it’s wrong, then why is it ok only on Wednesday? It doesn’t make sense to me. I didn’t leave the church over that but I was depressed ever since then.

Strike 2

The Sunday that Suzy gave a prophecy that there were suicidal people there that should come to the front and be prayed for. Pastor Bill Virgin however said “don’t come,because…….just because”. I was one of the people who was extremely depressed to the point of feeling like I should die. It could have had something to do with the fact that we lost half our income, our washing machine had broken, I couldn’t get a job, and on top of that people thought I was bad for dancing. Either way, when he told me not to come and be prayed for, I only felt more rejected.

Strike 3

In Bill’s September 9 2012 sermon, his whole theme was about God breaking us and messing up our lives. He said at one part

“You ever been messed up by the lord? You will have your turn if you haven’t. Especially after today. We’re going to release a holy ghost mess up in your life.”

This is very different from my view of God as our loving creator,healer,and savior who forgives us and dies in our place so that we don’t have to be punished. I don’t agree with Bill’s opinion of God and I don’t find that type of God in the Bible. Aside from that, it was not the kind of encouragement I was hoping for.

These are a few thing that really made me question why I was still in that church. After much thinking and praying, I knew that I couldn’t continue listening to this garbage.

I hope that all you teenagers and young adults know that none of this has anything to do with you. I can’t hold you responsible for anything that other people say. I’ll miss seeing you as often as I did, but there is no reason you can’t talk to me if you want to.

Why I Like HyVee

Lately, my new job at HyVee has been all I can think about. I’ve been waiting all my life for an opportunity like this. I have an appointment at 10 AM Wednesday October 3 to talk with Andrea and Carol about when I’ll work and what time. So far Andrea said they’ll start me out bagging groceries. Seems like a simple thing and yet even that is very important. At Walmart I’ve seen that the cashiers always have to bag stuff besides taking people’s money and giving them change. Such a thing probably explains why it takes less time to check out at HyVee since everything moves faster with more people helping. In this way, in the same amount of time, HyVee can serve more customers and therefore make more money. People get out of their faster and get back to whatever it is they do in their lives.

I like the thought that I would be saving people time and yet I would be getting paid for it. I really want this to work. If I do well at HyVee then I could easily work there the rest of my life. All of a sudden I start thinking about how much I represent HyVee. As a customer, I already carry their canvas bags to carry what I buy. Without even thinking about it I have been advertising for them. Now I feel encouraged to buy the HyVee brands of things. Not only because they are usually cheap but because the success of HyVee directly affects me if my job is there. I’ve always liked shopping there anyway. It may not be as cheap as walmart but at least it primarily is a food store. It’s less crowded because you don’t have people buying computers,TVs,movies,furniture, or clothes.

All businesses depend on employees who can make customers feel welcome and get what they need. In a way it’s almost the same as the way that Christians should be. In fact, I find nicer people at a grocery store or a fast food restaurant than in most churches I’ve been in.

I’m excited about this job but still quite nervous. I want to do everything right. This is a game I cannot afford to lose. All my life we’ve been poor and I’ve been powerless to do anything to change it. I certainly need to earn the money.
But it’s also more than that. I will be around a lot of people, more than I ever have before and for much longer time than a few hours at church or the gamber center. Even though I feel like I have to impress people and prove that I can do a job well, I also am the worst actor the world has ever seen. I’m honest and tell the truth about whatever people ask me. The main benefit to this job is that nobody will really be talking to me except mostly the other employees and my managers.

I am not the sum of my problems.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything new on my blog. Lately things have been really weird and I tend to not talk about my life because I’m afraid of being judged. Then I snap out of it and remember I have no reputation to protect in the first place. One of the reasons I started this blog was to get out of my comfort zone.

But there is another problem I face that’s been going on as long as I can remember. Whenever people ask me how I am or what’s going on, the first thing I mention is usually how I can’t get a job, or about our neighbor who smokes, or about my mom’s current health problem. What I’ve realized is that I never talk about me. Surely there is something about my besides the daily problems I have. I’ve been questioning why I do this.

First, I assume that people don’t really want to know about me and expect a quick answer. If I were a regular person I could say “fine” but I’m too honest for that. So I tell them the reasons I’m not fine. Second, I think that people get really bored when I talk anything about the subjects I actually like. I’m pretty sure it’s already well known how nuts I am about shapes,colors,animals,children,and women. I don’t think there is really anything new about me since the last time the same person asked. Third, I feel guilty to even admit that there are things I enjoy about my life. I feel like I should be miserable and depressed because of all the evil in this world. It’s really silly since me feeling bad won’t make anybody else feel better. Fourth, I’m afraid that if people knew the real me they wouldn’t like me anymore. I act a lot of the time as if I don’t care what anyone thinks at all, but even I need to feel accepted and will sometimes simply stop talking so that I won’t say the wrong thing that will cause fights.

Also, I guess part of the problem is that sometimes I’m not sure who I am or what I’m really feeling. My life has been so tied around my mom all my life and still is since I still live with her. I may be 25 but I sure don’t feel like an adult. I’m going to make an effort to talk more about me partly because people need to know what they got themselves into when they met me and also because they should also speak to my mom if they want to know her. She may have taught me a lot and we may have to share the same apartment,food,and bathroom but we are still two different people.

I Like Babies

Since I’ve already had my rant against abortion, I think I should talk about how much I love babies. For some odd reason I like babies. They are safe. New babies haven’t learned to say mean things because they haven’t learned to say anything at all! Also, I don’t have to say anything to them at all. I just stare at them and they stare back. I’m not afraid of them and they aren’t afraid of me.

The younger people are, the better I get along with them. I think it’s because they turn evil as soon as they start going to school and end up copying the words and actions of whoever they are around. I wish that all people could stay as cute and honest as they were as a baby.

Also, this brings me to a problem I have. See, I have dreams of getting married and having kids, but there are a few reasons I don’t think it’s such a good idea. Obviously, this world is a mess. If I were to cause yet another baby to be born, they most likely would be hurt. I can’t promise them a good life. I can’t promise them that I could feed them since having a job and earning the money required to buy food for them is something totally out of my control. Here I’ve been trying to get a job since I was 16 and I’m 25.

Also, how do I know whether or not one of my children could end up being the next Adolf Hitler. I have no control over what they do when they grow up. I would try to teach them about Jesus so that they could be saved and live with me in heaven forever, but they also could reject that and go to hell forever and it would be my fault for having caused them to exist.

Though obviously all of that wouldn’t be something that I could do alone anyway. I would first have to find a wife who would end up being the mother. That’s not likely to happen either.

I’ve also thought about someday adopting someone. Someday if I’m rich enough, I could improve the life of someone who is already born so that if things turned out bad at least I wouldn’t feel the guilt of causing them to be conceived.

But how did I get talking about all those negative things? Back to the positive, I just plain like babies and want to have them for some odd reason. No doubt they would like playing with me just as nearly all the kids I’ve known at the various churches I’ve been in do. I’m just like a kid and I think the same way they do. I just happen to be in an adult body.

And that’s why I can’t understand why people want to kill their babies.


I haven’t been posting much lately because I spent all afternoon monday at the library and reading one of the books I checked out.

So I thought I would write about the things I like about public libraries and books. Whoever came up with the idea of putting in on paper was a genius. I will always prefer a real book over the silly ebooks people are into now. Traditional books don’t require electricity,last longer than any machine, and provide a good place to hide anything else that is thin like paper. Of course the usefulness of a book depends on the words inside. What it’s about and how true the information is matter more than the paper,ink,or pretty cover. I’ve heard you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Actually, you can but you’re most likely wrong.

Also, a public library is an amazing idea. It’s one of the few things that is free in this world. Not only can people read all the books,newspapers, and magazines but they also have computers with internet access these days. Actually, I think it’s kind of sad that most people are on the computers instead of reading books. The nice thing is that I can lay on the floor in the adult non fiction section and read without being in anyone’s way.

As long as there are public libraries in america, we haven’t lost all freedom.