Visiting a Snake Handling Church

Reposted from 9 November 2016

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Last Friday, I visited a snake handling church.  It took several months to find it, because the practice is extremely rare.  The church is located in Section, Alabama, which is a little less than 2 hours from where I live.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos to share.  I wanted to take pictures; however, it seemed disrespectful.  I also felt like I would be violating their privacy.

I was concerned about how the church members would react to me.  There is no way I could just blend in with the regulars.  I have very short hair, I am covered in tattoos, and I was wearing pants.  However, they were nice and welcomed me to the church.  Several of the ladies took time to talk with me and the preacher even invited me to have dinner at his house with him and his family.

The first part of the service involves worshipping God by singing and offering praises.  They used various instruments and it was rather loud.  People raised their hands and their bodies would shake as they were worshiping.  Others walked around the building and prayed in tongues.

During the singing portion, the preacher picked up a copperhead snake and raised it into the air.  A second man also tried to pick up the snake, but the snake attempted to bite the man.  The preacher came over and prayed for the man, so he could try again.  His next attempt was successful and he also held the snake over his head.

Several other men held a small flaming torch and they started putting their hands on top of the flames.  They also held the torch close to their chest and directly under their chins.  After a few seconds, they praised God for not allowing them to get hurt by the flames and passed the torch to another man.

I was disturbed by the small children playing in the aisle ways of the church.  A two year old girl was allowed to room free as they were worshiping.  What if someone drops the poisonous snake and the child happens to be near them?

The worship lasted an hour and was followed by an hour of preaching.  The best way to describe the preacher’s sermon, it was convoluted.  The preacher jumped from one topic to another and then back to a previous topic.

The main points of his sermon:  it’s a sin for men to have long hair, it’s a sin for women to have short hair, it’s a sin for women to use makeup, it’s a sin for women to wear pants, it’s a sin for women to be in a leadership position over a man, if you are filled with the Holy Spirit you will speak in tongues, you must be baptized in Jesus name to be saved, you must be filled with the spirit and speak in tongues to be saved, other denominations are sending everyone to hell by teaching false doctrine, you should only marry a holiness person, and failure to keep any of the commandments will result in physical illnesses as well as an eternity in hell.

At the end of his sermon, the preacher looked at me and said God will accept you as you are and if your hair is short you can still come unto God and be saved.  Even though it’s awkward when the preacher speaks directly to you and everyone in the congregation knows what he is talking about, I felt like he was trying to reach out and teach the gospel.  He did not condemn at any time, so that’s a plus.

All in all, I am glad I went to the service.  It was an interesting experience and I learned a few things about a fringe religious group that I didn’t know.

 

Make Rest a Priority

In Matthew 11:20-12:21, we learn Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath and he wants to offer rest for our weary souls.  All we need to do is follow Jesus.

Rest is often undervalued in our society.  There is so much to do at work, at school, and our options for entertainment are phenomenal.  Granted entertainment is fun, but it can also prevent us from getting the rest we need.

Jesus offers us spiritual rest.  We can trust in his acceptance and forgiveness.  He invites us to destress our souls and spend quite time with him in worship, prayer and meditation.  He wants to help us overcome our anxieties and our fears.

We know rest is important and we know the consequences of not getting enough rest.

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Increased risk of disease
  • Decreased ability to function
  • Decreased ability to focus
  • Anxiety
  • Increased aggression

Make rest a priority in your life and you will notice the difference.

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Help Me God (Matthew 7:7-11)

In Matthew 7:7-11, Jesus is still delivering the Sermon on the Mount and he tells the crowd how to petition God for help in times of struggle and how to find answers to our questions.

  1. Ask – Make your request known to God, say something to God in prayer, ask and you will receive
  2. Seek – Spend time searching for your answers or for what you need, seek and you will find
  3. Knock – Make your request known by attacking attention to your needs, knock and it will be opened

Each step requires effort on our part, but God promises to help us when we ask, seek, and knock.

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Whole Living in a Broken World

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Charles Davis is a local minister and author.  I meet him last year at the Southern Author’s Expo in Huntsville, Alabama.  I was intrigued by the title of his book “Whole Living in a Broken World,” so I bought a copy.  I finally got around to reading it this week.

According to Charles Davis, the problems in churches are:

  1.  Most “members” never attend
  2. Personal transformation is rare
  3. Biblical illiteracy is rampit
  4. A lot of members who attend don’t want to participate

These problems have lead to the broken world we live in today.  The solutions that will allow for whole living are:

  1.  Know and experience God as He is
  2. Understand the grace of God
  3. The Holy Spirit is central to the spirit life of believers
  4. Avoid sins that prevent whole living
  5. Exercise faith through worship, service, Bible study, prayer, fasting, thankfulness, generosity, and church attendance

I did enjoy reading the book and found it beneficial.  Also, there is a lot of good advice in this book.

There is one thing I found a bit odd.  The author excessively quoted other biblical scholars and theologians.  Almost every paragraph had a quote in it and every principle was backed by numerous quotes.

I have nothing against using quotes and often do so in my own writing.  However, when it is so pervasive it feels like the author was unable to support his ideas without the help of others or like the author was totally reliant on what other writers had to say about each subject.

Thank You Everyone

As of today, I can blink my left eye.  It still takes a bit of effort, but I can do it.  I am really excited about this, because I will not have to tape my eyelid closed anymore.

I have not gained control of the left side of my mouth yet.  However, I do occasionally feel my muscles twitch around my lips and nose.  That is also a good sign.

I wanted to thank everyone for their prayers, well wishes, and positive thoughts.  You guys have really helped keep my spirits up during this difficult time.  I appreciate all of you.

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