Posted January 7th, 2010 at 07:04 PM by mary
I was raised Disciples of Christ (Christian). When I was nine, I repented and asked Jesus into my heart, and my life changed radically, especially in one way. I had been an angry child, so I started praying that Jesus would teach me to love. When I prayed this way, God would "hug me big, inside out"-my heart would be filled with love and joy in those moments of prayer. I kept this time very private. To my knowledge no one knew what had prompted the changes in my life. (They were just very thankful something had changed!!)
For the next few years there were times I was closer to God and times I wasn't, but He was always there. At 15, I was baptized. (Mom didn't believe in child baptism, so my request had been denied for several years.) At 18, I began attending a Pentecostal church. There, they taught that there was more for me. God has more for everyone, so this was an easy concept to grasp. Soon after starting to attend there, I was baptized in Jesus name and filled with the Holy Ghost. The pastor took us to ecumenical meetings, and I attended Baptist Bible studies and Disciples of Christ youth fellowships. We fellowshipped other churches and called their members Christians. I never heard anyone at church downplay their experiences.
A few years later, a new pastor came into my life. He taught that no one who had not repented, been baptized in Jesus' name, and received the Holy Ghost was saved. Had the teaching been that a person isn’t saved if they were taught Jesus’ name baptism and rejected it, I could have almost accepted it. But this new teaching was difficult to swallow; my earlier experiences were too real and life changing to doubt. Even more difficult for me to grasp was his teaching that other Pentecostals with fewer standards were also hell bound. Was my former pastor unsaved because he wore a watch, didn't follow some other standard, or fellowshipped Trinitarians? Was I unsaved because I had skirts with slits in them? I couldn't accept that, but stayed anyway.
One night, an evangelist came. He preached that night that if a hand is cut off from the body, the hand would die, but the body wouldn’t. Maybe the hand was diseased or injured. Sometimes the body needed to cut a part off to survive. If it did, the part that was cut off would die. There was no way for a hand to live apart from the body-it couldn’t be grafted onto another body, and it couldn’t be grafted back into the body it had been cut off from for very long after the blood supply stopped. Therefore, if the pastor cut a person out of the church, that person would be condemned, cut off from the blood of Jesus.
Very shortly after that disturbing message, my pastor got up and preached that a person was going to leave soon, and would almost immediately cut their hair and wear pants. He said everyone would be surprised who it was, but that it would happen. After church that night, he called me at home and told me to never...