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Where Does My Tithe Money Go? (Kelly takes a vacation)

When you give to a church it's usually understood that the money goes to support the church's finances and keep it running.  Being a...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Spiritual Abuse happens everywhere

This post is simply to link to another amazing blog post (or more specifically the comments section).


Here's a quick summary:

Mark Driscoll, mysogynist - asshole - mega church leader - gets caught being abusive to his congregation, accused of plagiarism and inappropriate use of church money.

Tony Jones - narcissistic - Emergent - blogger - writes a blog saying "It could have happened to any of us."  Wow, Tony!  No, I don't think this could have happened to anyone but a power hungry prick.  Takes one to know one, right?

So David Hayward (nakedpastor) does a cartoon and blog post about all of this.

As of this post, it's at 774 comments.  Tony's ex-wife came on and cut loose about the horrors she experienced with him and the Emergent movement leaders.  Some of these leaders, including Tony, came on trying to silence her.  She continued on.  Other leaders came on and apologized for how they'd treated her.  More people came forward sharing their own stories of spiritual abuse.  It's been horrifying, wonderful, sad and healing.  Spiritual abuse happens everywhere....but people are now speaking up and not hiding.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

You are not being persecuted for Jesus, Crossing Church

Just watched the last of The Crossing Church's sermon series "Taste & See".  Though the sermon was preached to the church, it was really just a pep rally to get the congregation to bring more people to church.  (Church growth = $$$)  The Crossing has done everything from outright public shaming to make their people bring more to their church (ex. - putting invite cards on every chair and making everyone stand "before God" to commit to giving them out) to the more subtle ways, such as this sermon.  

Pastor Eric Dykstra went through various ways that people react to hearing the Gospel.  The first he calls Rejection - "the enemy steals some peoples' understanding".  "It's not that they don't understand - The Evil One STOLE their ability to understand."  - referencing 2 Corinthians 4:4.  So if I don't believe like you, with your interpretation, then Satan has confused me?  

He goes on to say that, "You can't convince anyone to believe.  It's the Holy Spirit's job."  "they don't have deep roots - they fall away as soon as they have problems" "we stay in faith and grow past our problems"  "they tithed once" "you stay in faith until you see it"  So if someone's faith dies, then why didn't the Holy Spirit kick in and help?  Provide comfort?  This doesn't make any sense at all.  So what happened to me?  Because I did believe.  I did.  I was baptized twice.  I gave, gave and gave some more. I was "in the faith" for decades.  

The real fun comes at minute 26.  "Persecution usually looks like false accusation, slander, mockery or lying...."  Oh hell, you aren't being persecuted for Jesus.  I am mocking you because of the dumb ass things you say that hurt people.  Big difference.  Oh and your reference to the End Times was hysterical.  

Yes, I did get "the life sucker punched out of them"...by you Crossing Church. 

So he says at the beginning that the Holy Spirit is in charge of bringing people to Jesus.  Not you.  You're off the hook.  Yeah!  Then the best scripture twisting moment is at minute 42.  "those who believe produce fruit - do you have any?" "your life is going to lead someone to Jesus...you've gotta keep saying the Gospel until someone comes to FAITH!!!!"  At minute 46:20 he says that  "you're gonna be the one to do it".  Minute 44 "you get to do this church!!"  Um, no.  Producing fruit has to do with the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, kindness, etc...  People coming to Jesus is not a test of your faith and it's so sad to think how many in that Crossing Church audience felt the shame of that ridiculous statement.

It's the same old song and dance.  The Crossing Church is once again putting the weight of the world on the shoulders of those who attend.  As I've said before, Big Give expectation will be soon.

Friday, August 29, 2014

You're invited to The Crossing Church!

You're invited to The Crossing Church!  Did you receive an invite card?  If you haven't, then be ready!  It's coming up on National Back to Church Week End.  This is the week end where churches try to get people (those bringing in the money) back from Summer vacation and into church.  Churches will have special events to entice people to come, maybe some food, possibly a bouncy house for the kids.  The Crossing Church uses its members to do hard core marketing through inviting others to church using invitation cards.

These are a few cards from previous years and their latest attempt is no exception.  As indicated in this tweet below, they are giving the Crossing people cards with the expectation to hand out and invite.  

I asked my son, who was 11 years old at the time, how he felt about the invite cards.  "I felt I didn't have a choice.  In addition to handing out cards to invite to church, I also was told we had to invite to youth group.  They even threatened us saying that if more people weren't coming we couldn't have the youth group.  Even though I could tell something wasn't right with what I was doing, the way they placed this obligation before us, it made it my main goal.  I had the weight of the world on my shoulders passing out those cards.  I felt I wasn't doing it right because sometimes I left it on a teacher's desk or slipped it in a locker and was too nervous to say it face to face.  The Crossing made it clear that I was risking people going to hell if I didn't invite them to church.  No matter how hard you invited it was never enough.  There would be a new stack of cards the next week and you had to start it all again."

The premise is that it was your fault if your friends and family went to hell if you did not want to invite them to church.  You're told you should want to do this.  But what if you didn't want to invite anyone?  What if you're shy?  Introverted?  Or simply didn't feel this was the best way to reach people?  The shaming was horrific.  Examples were made of those who got large numbers of people to attend.  Staff members were given quotas which they had to meet.  Glares of disgust were given to those who didn't stand up in church to say they would pass out all the invite cards on their chair.  INVITE! INVITE! INVITE!

I have to ask you Crossing Church; how big is your God?  Your loving God would allow his children to burn in hell just because someone didn't pass out an invite card?  Gee...not much grace on tap here.

Bottom line: more people coming = more money coming in.  This isn't a community of believers; it's business.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I Love My Church at The Crossing Church

So The Crossing Church just finished an "I love my church" series.  Well we've heard this bedtime story before (2011).  Though they seem to have learned their lesson from years ago, as this very series was the deal breaker for many, it's the same message simply tamed down and softened a bit.  

Lets compare:

2011 version - I love my church series told us: You will revolve your life, your time and your money around The Crossing Church or plan on being kicked out the back door.  (I walked out that back door freely which lead me to the alley - hence the name "Thoughts from the Back Alley")

2014 version: "I will do whatever it takes - money, time, talent", "the church of Jesus does whatever it takes", "what if you partnered with us...what if you were the Christian Jesus intended"

Oh my!  So to give of your money, talent and time to The Crossing Church is to be the Christian Jesus intended.  Churches are fabulous at subtle manipulation but this is one of the better ways I've seen.  Because flip it the other way; the insinuation is that if you aren't giving and serving is that you aren't being a real Christian.  Even in their new code (the old code)it says "Our staff and leaders go above and beyond to give sacrificially...We don't do this because we have to, but because we WANT to!" So what does it mean if you don't want to?  You aren't serving God correctly?  You aren't a Christian?  It becomes more about what's not being said than what is actually said.

The sermons were the usual Crossing dogma: lots of shaming on their congregants for wanting to be fed (learn), saying "we expect to live unselfishly" yet also talking about how they like half and half at the coffee shop (Jesus was all about lattes) and how this "reflects their personalities" (uh no..it's about controlling your empire), and of course the money shot "I will do whatever it takes, money, time, talent".  Money.  Time.  Talent.  Much more subtle this time but the same message of revolving your life around The Crossing Church....or you're not being the Christian Jesus wants you to be.  

So what can you expect next?  THE BIG GIVE!!  I'll predict that they will ask for another big money give in the next 4-6 weeks.  Church attendance in Minnesota gets low in the summer which means tithing is down so that means they'll need a special manipulative way to get those dollars rolling back in.  It will most likely be something about a Fall Kickoff (churches love Fall kick offs!) and needing more money so people can come to The Crossing and meet Jesus (because where the hell else could they possibly find him?)  Come on friends, million dollar buildings don't pay for themselves so you'd better open those wallets for Jesus just like Pastor Eric's mentor Ed Young tells you to!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Spiritual Misfit - A book review

Though following the antics of The Crossing Church does take up valuable time, not to mention annoyance, I was recently shown the website Blogging for Books and have begun doing book reviews for them.  The first book I chose was Spiritual Misfit by Michelle DeRusha.  I had high hopes for this book after reading the back cover: "After twenty years of unbelief, estranged from her childhood faith and ultimately from God, Michelle DeRusha unexpectedly found herself wrestling hard with questions of spirituality— and deeply frustrated by the lack of clear answers. Until she realized that the questions themselves paved a way for faith.“Declaring my unbelief,” writes DeRusha, “was the first step; declaring my unbelief allowed me to begin to seek authentically.” Spiritual Misfit chronicles one woman’s journey toward an understanding that belief and doubt can coexist."

Though this book starts out with the author exploring her doubt it quickly becomes a checklist on how to be a good church-going Christian.  She was raised Catholic, married a Minnesota Lutheran but really had no firm spiritual base of any kind.  She begins going to a Lutheran church after moving to Nebraska; more out of feeling she should, trying desperately to fit in and to relieve the loneliness of being in a new place without the security of friends and family.  

She has some real moments where she admits her true feelings: "To fake my belief was better than facing the terrifying truth of no life after death."  Yet even in her doubt, it's clear she feels she should believe something.  She is searching for truth but it results in following the set formula.  She flips flops back and forth between acceptance that she'll never fully know the mysteries of the universe to speaking fluent Christianese using every cliche ever written.  I wanted to experience her frustration and doubt yet each time she'd get close to being honest and real, she would come back with a pat answer straight from Sunday school.  

This book clearly had a Christian Evangelical audience in mind and isn't truly written for someone living in the tension between belief and unknowing.  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Thank You Crossing Church

In the last few weeks there has been quite a bit of both outrage and support over my latest post about The Crossing Church's antics.  In public comments and private messages I've been told I'm bitter, my heart is hard, my view on morality questionable and I'm going to burn in hell.  I've also been thanked for calling out the hypocrisy and not backing down.

A recent comment by Peter, "It's my prayer that the reality of sin and God's justice would break your hardened heart and that the good news of God's perfect grace would mend that broken heart."

First of all, my heart is neither hardened nor broken.  I sure felt that way for most of my life after years of indoctrination of being told "you're a sinner", "you're broken", "you need to ask Jesus to soften your heart".  No.  I'm just a human; neither good or bad.  Just existing.  Have I done things that society would consider morally wrong?  Sure.  Have I done things that I personally find to be wrong?  Yes.  But I not longer believe that any of these things are worthy of being burned for eternity in a lake of fire if I don't believe correctly, say magical words or live a certain way.  Not that there aren't consequences to possibly face for actions but those consequences happen here, while alive, and are not forever.  

No need to give me a Christianese rant as I know every argument you'll try to give.  They bore me.  If your God is truly real and truly loving then I'm fine and I'll have to gamble on those things and not the bullshit guilt trip I've been sold my entire life.

All that said; I do want to sincerely thank The Crossing Church for being the final straw that got me out of the Christian life.  

Thank you for not answering my questions, as I finally learned that no one has those answers.

Thank you for being abusive to your members, as I then had to leave and thankfully never go back.

Thank you for being so arrogant and vain, as it gave confirmation to my intuition saying "this just isn't right".

Thank you for keeping me on the outside and never letting me into the popular crowd, as I'm sure I would have stayed and still be sucked into your nonsense.

Thank you for consistently acting ridiculous, as that forced me to dig deeper and open my eyes.

Thank you for mismanaging money and living large off the tithes of your members.

I was just reading a recent post by Pastor Eric Dykstra that said to walk in freedom, joy and love.  I do walk in those things because of releasing Christianity.  No book of rules, no forced giving, no expectations.  I get to think for myself, use logic and reason, and not believe I'm hard and broken.  It's a true freedom like no other.  

I thank you because after all the searching, the sadness, the pain and the anger, I'm finally free of you.  I kissed hell, a vengeful God, penal substitutionary atonement and the "inerrant word of God" good bye and it's wonderful.  I did it all while in Christianity: every prayer, every study, every song, every shame filled service.  I did all these things while pushing down the feeling that it was all bullshit.  Asked Jesus into my heart a good 10,000 times, and was even told by a Crossing church leader "maybe you should do it again - out loud in front of me" because supposedly their presence would make it take and then I'd feel it the way they did?  Whatever.  Baptized twice and no special supernatural thing ever happened.  It was in going all in at The Crossing Church that it finally fell apart.  

I don't know if there is a God.  I don't know if there is an after life.  I don't know and that's OK.  I live in the tension between the possibility of an all powerful deity and nothingness.  And that's fine.  I'm open to all thoughts, possibilities and ideas.  I accept that what I feel today will probably change.  Jesus said his burden was light, and he was cool so maybe that's true, but the burden of the church is unbearable.  So happy to be free.  Thank you Crossing Church.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A challenge for Kelly Dykstra

I took a little time off from this blog as I was in a new adventure in my life which involved quite a bit of Buddhist readings.  I contemplated karma and the possibility, if it's even true, of something coming back to me for calling out The Crossing Church on their abusive and flat out ridiculous behaviors.  I decided, that even with my snarkiness, that since I only spoke truth that any karma would be good karma.  That said, I'd still considered stopping.  I considered walking away.  I tried.  And then this nonsense came up:

Wow, Kelly! 

A quote from her latest sermon - Minute 14:35 - she began praying for these shoes because "Why not? God likes me!"

Comments from Stuff Christian Culture Likes about this instagram post:

"my problem is that she's making a distinct effort to show them off with the hashtag #jesuslovesme, as if to rub it in the face of someone who can barely afford Payless. Does Jesus not love them then? "
"It feeds the lie that the size of a person's pocketbook somehow proves the measure of God's love for them."

"Forget the shoes... the message she is sending is so repulsive. So what do you tell the child praying that his mother is healed from cancer, or the family praying for a job so they can feed their kids or the wife in an abusive relationship? Based on her message she would say that God must not like them enough to solve their problems. She must have a nice life that wanting a pair of pricy shoes is her biggest "problem" and thankfully God loves her enough. Oh this story is so ridiculous. Who cares what her friend spent on the shoes, but the fact that this person spent time thinking and praying about buying her the shoes... I wish people could focus their energy on what really matters. I guess if God really liked me he would not have let my Mom die 4 years ago and wouldn't have given my Dad Stage IV lung cancer in the fall...#awfultheologyshouldntbeallowedtopreach"

"She could have fed two families for a month for the price of the cheapest Louboutins. I guess Jesus doesn't love hungry people."

"Yo Haters - this is what Jesus wants! She gets to have insanely expensive shoes because she's blessed. She's obviously tithing hard, doing shit right and in God's favor." - This one is mine. ;-)
So God gives you incredibly expensive designer shoes (Low end price of over $1000), you pastor a church of primarily blue collar, semi-rural people who shop at Wal-Mart and clip coupons, and you think it's a good thing to flaunt this?!

 Lets get back to that sermon: Minute 16:13 - A friend knew she wanted the shoes and bought them for her. "Her friend paid the price for the shoes like Jesus paid the price for our sins."  
No.  Just no.  You make it known you want these shoes, have the audacity to pray for them, and then compare your rich friend (I'm guessing Lisa Young or Lisa Cornelius) shelling out a few bucks to feed your desire for the good life to Jesus dying for the sins of the world!?!?  When I heard the sermon and the words "my friend paid the price for these shoes..." I thought "Of all that is holy please do not tell me she's going to compare this to the cross.  I'm agnostic and still find this horrendous!!
As my good friend said, "The only people that should be bragging about God giving them new shoes are the people who didn't have shoes in the first place!"
So here is your challenge Kelly: give up the shoes for the good of those without shoes.  Put them up for auction, sell them, you pick - but give them up.  Give them up just as you and your husband have asked others to give things (very specifically shoes in fact) up.  Prove you are the exemplary Christian you claim to be.  Prove my post about your use of tithe money was wrong.  Prove you care more about people than things.  Prove it.

Pretty sure this is what Jesus would do, right?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Crossing Church: God's Chosen Exorcists or Abusers of those who are struggling with Mentall Illness?

Oops they did it again! It looks like those Crossing Church leaders (pastors) are up to their old antics again of being hurtful and disposing of a person without a care. Here is the condensed version: a young lady applies to the CrossingCollege and during this time experiences a psychotic break which was later diagnosed as major depressive w psychotic features. She came in for her interview for the college and was told she did not have the Holy Spirit and was possessed by a demon. Yeah. Then later while she was hospitalized for this condition, her mother called the Crossing Church to explain what had happened. They told HER MOTHER "Your daughter made a pact with the devil."
Crossing, I do know you love high drama, and love to see a demon under every bush, but You Were Wrong! I'm sure you saw some scary things. I'm sure it was worrisome behavior. But just because you don't understand it that doesn't make it a demon. If someone is acting strangely or in a way that frightens you then get them professional help; don't call them possessed and abandon them. Get some education on mental illness and start showing some compassion.
As always, you owe another apology.
I'm happy to introduce a special guest blogger for this post. This is the woman who was told she was possessed by "pastors" at The Crossing Church. She's amazingly brave and has some awesome wisdom to share as a person who went through hell and back and survived.

~ As our churches continue to reach out to the community on a larger scale, what with “Mega Churches” popping up all over, our congregations are being filled with many who suffer from a mental illness.

Like mainstream society, Mental Illness is also a bit taboo in our places of worship. There is much to be learned and understood of mental illnesses like Bipolar and Schizophrenia, even in mainstream society, let alone the Church.

When I, myself, became acutely ill with psychosis and went to my church (The Crossing Church) with concerns for my safety because I was a prophet, I was met with the common fear and conclusions that accompany the stigma of Mental Illness still today. I was told that I was possessed and must have made a “deal with the devil”, that I “did not know the Holy Spirit.” These things being farthest from the truth devastated me.

In the wake of Pastor Rick Warrens son’s death, reportedly suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder and/or Bipolar Disorder, now more than ever is the time to finally open our communications about this neglected, hurting part of our community. If we take anything away from the loss of life due to Mental Illness- let it be that it is in fact a potential lethal illness in our communities.

That, when the problem lies inside the mind prayer and positive thinking, which form in and are used in the mind, simply makes these methods insufficient to complete recovery and quality of life.

First, I will introduce you to two particularly mysterious illness, bipolar disorder, and Schizophrenia.

Bipolar Disorder displays varying symptoms of severe depression, to paranoid mania. Loss of inhibitions, recklessness, spending sprees, and promiscuity also accompany the disease. Biological changes in the brain are the source of these actions.
The DSM criteria describes severe mood swings and even psychosis (Loss of touch with reality) in severe cases.

Psychosis is a condition where one has lost touch with reality. Delusions, hallucinations and paranoia are the main symptoms of Psychosis. To be “psychotic”, does not mean that the person will be violent. In fact research shows most people suffering psychosis are not violent at all, and if they do harm, they harm themselves.  Psychosis is the main hallmark of Schizophrenia.

In Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia, delusions can often involve religion. A person may believe they are a prophet, Jesus Christ or other religious figure, or that they are on a special mission from God. A person may feel attacked by demons, and followed by the government.

Being devout Christians, we often do feel at times, that we have a particular purpose in life to accomplish for Him. The difference between that and the “missions” accompanying psychosis is that in psychosis none of what the person is putting together is true or makes sense and may attribute significant meaning to innocuous events.

If you happen to interact with someone who is ill with psychosis, either from Bipolar Disorder or from Schizophrenia, you may notice a number of things.

They may have difficulty forming a sentence or looking at you in the eye. They may rhyme their words, loose track and stop mid-sentence, or make up completely new words. Their eyes may wander and they may appear “jumpy”. They may be very withdrawn and quiet, inappropriately responding to social ques. They may even express some of their fears to you. It is at that point, you have two options.

Option A. Respond to your discomfort by avoiding the situation and excusing yourself from the situation.
The sufferer will then have one more missed opportunity to alerting those involved to their depreciating mental state. They will have to suffer with a nightmare of delusions and hallucinations that much longer.

Option B. You may try to ask the sufferer if they are OK. Try to engage them in conversation. Based on that conversation, you can than utilize that “emergency contact number” on volunteer and tithe forms, and alert someone involved in the sufferer’s life that they seem out of sorts. Under other circumstances it may seem odd, but if an individual comes to you claiming someone is trying to kill them, or that they have special powers from God, it is most certainly appropriate to show concern.

It is however, rarely done because of the stigma and fear associated with Psychotic illnesses.
Hollywood does little to educate society. In many blockbuster action or horror hits, the villain is labeled “a psychotic killer.” Many studies show, as noted previously, people with psychosis or “psychotic” are very unlikely to become violent. Serial killers are typically diagnosed with Psychopathy, or Sociopathic. Some are stories about demon possessed individuals, and mirroring schizophrenic symptoms (aside from the theatrical paranormal activity, levitating etc...), hearing voices and hallucinating.

The way that diabetes and the wrong amount of insulin make an individual sick, so dopamine does in people with Schizophrenia. It is a medical, biological illness that creates mainly, severe thought disturbances.

In addition to intermittent or chronic episodes of psychosis, Schizophrenics also suffer from:
·         Apathy
·         Flat Affect
·         Decreased motivation
·         Desire less

This is just to name a few. This is not a problem with morale or discipline, but a medical illness that is more feared and harder to adjust to than a cancer diagnosis, in many cases.

When Society begins to see Bipolar, Schizophrenia and psychotic illnesses for what they are, then will proper research, and results begin.  Just as Alzheimer’s so devastates the mind in the elderly, so Schizophrenia does in ones prime of life. Awareness, compassion and medical treatment are necessary.

Let’s uplift and edify our congregations by educating ourselves about mental illness and going beyond the stereotypes to connect with someone suffering today. It may save a life. ~

I'm honored to have this courageous young woman be on my blog.  Wishing her future health, happiness and joy.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Crossing Church Grand Opening - Can they move past their previous abuses?

It's a matter of hours until The Crossing Church begins their grand opening of their multi-million dollar new building.  Their "leaders" are poised and ready for the troubled, naive and clueless to wander through the new doors with their wallets open in hopes of getting a little "favor" or "blessings" from God.  What most of these people don't realize is The Crossing Church's history and their failure to right the wrongs of their troubled past.

Churches are run by humans and any good Christian will take a lot of effort to shame anyone that speaks out against pain and suffering caused by the church.  We spoke out anyway.  We were belittled, demeaned and even threatened to shut up but we didn't.  We were told we were: bitter, confused, stopping people from meeting Jesus, needed to forgive and heartless.  We told our many stories of manipulation, betrayal, hurt and disposal.

There was an apology, to me, though I'm not really the one that needed it.  To put it bluntly, I do not see how The Crossing Church, and specifically Eric and Kelly Dyskstra, can stand on that stage bellowing about grace and not make amends for the immense damage they did to human lives. It's unfathomable yet it goes on.

I've said it before and I'll reiterate it one more time: Eric, Kelly and The Crossing - if you make amends for what you've done then I will shut up.  Admit it.  Stop covering up.  Humble yourselves.  Let go of your insanely large egos for just a moment and be sorry.  You wonder why people call you a cult?  This is why!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Where Does My Tithe Money Go? (Kelly takes a vacation)

When you give to a church it's usually understood that the money goes to support the church's finances and keep it running.  Being a pastor's daughter I was well aware that the lights weren't free and the offering paid Daddy's salary.  

At The Crossing church it's a little different: you are giving to God!  You are told repeatedly that God needs 10% (minimum) back and if you give this you'll be blessed!  You can visibly see that a multi-million dollar building is being built but the premise is this: bigger church - more people can fit - so more people get saved by Jesus.  They say they are now being transparent with finances and I'll admit I haven't seen this yet.  

I did see this: These were all the dates Kelly traveled this year.  WOW!

1/25-1/28 - Alabama (funeral / family)
2/2 - St. Louis
2/12-2/16 - C3 - Dallas (conference)
3/18 - Haiti
3/19 - Miami (flying back from Haiti)

4/1 - IA (Easter with family)
5/16 - Seattle (conference)
5/28 - 6/13 - Extended Vacation
9/9 - Houston (Joel Osteen)
10/1 - Staff Retreat
10/17 - Brainerd
11/11-11/17 - Nashville (conference)
11/28 - IA (Thanksgiving with family)
12/2 - 12/6 - Liberty Church / PA, Ohio, Niagara Falls (9 state road trip)
12/25 - Off on another plane (assuming for Christmas with family)

Whether for a conference or family vacation that's a lot of money spent traveling.  Tithe money.  The Dykstra's are of course free to allocate their salaries in any way they choose.  But I have to ask; how much was paid for by the church?  

While pondering this I looked up my Paypay account to see my giving history to The Crossing.  The attached picture is only two months worth of giving.  Looking back I can see how they used manipulation and fear to persuade me, and so many others, to give.  I gave as if I was paying off a mob boss (God).  I never expected blessings - I was just looking for less pain - maybe some protection.  

I sacrificed to give this much.  This was WAY above 10%, this was savings, this was grocery money.  I'm left to wonder how much went to a vacation, shoes or dining out.  I can't lie about this; I'm seething just thinking about it.