Plēn & Paniym

You may have noticed that the front page quotes the First Commandment slightly different than how you’re accustom. It’s because of these two words, “plēn” and “paniym”.

A great deal of Pagans, and “Christo-Pagans”, use the phrasing “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” to justify the worship of other deities. Some have even used it to justify new age concepts born from a further perversion of the Catholic Intercession of the Saints and Guardian Angels traditions. They argue, that this simply means God is “top dog” and the rest are beneath Him. They point further to the word “elohim” being a plural term, and that God is acknowledging the existence of other gods.

But “paniym”, the word used in the Hebrew version of this verse, is rooted in the word “face”, associated with the “presence”. “Plēn” is the Septuagint translation, meaning “besides”, “except” or “but”.

God’s Commandment is straight forward, and several times over confirmed by how He responds to the Israelites in the Old Testament: If you choose to follow YHWH, you can have no other gods in your life.

Those who wish to pursue a polytheistic tradition may be asking yourself “then why use that language? Why call them gods at all? It’s actually something a friend continueally asked me as I was working on how to tell my story to others- “You keep giving these demonic forces status by calling them gods, you haven’t fully accepted Christ, and it shows, you need to work on that.” (paraphrased). That actually nagged at me for a long time, I couldn’t figure out whether or not my friend was right. But as I continued reading the Bible to find a way to best convey what God had revealed to me, I found myself asking “why does God use the word ‘gods'”, why did the Apostles refer to them as such? As I dug into the Greek and Hebrew, I started to realize it’s because it’s how we communicate theologically about the topic of supernatural beings. While Demon is something we can use amongst believers, non-believers regulate the demonic to beings lesser than their own gods. They aren’t in the same category, and therefore it is simple for them to write off the statement that they follow demons.

Granted, that problem will not go away, at least not in terms of how non-believers approach the topic. But perhaps with those which proclaim they worship the Virgin Mary as a goddess, or those which adopt YHWH as a higher god alongside their own, we can work to dispell this myth that YHWH is okay with His children following other gods.

So how did the Jewish people understand the gods, in truth? I think the answer lies in a singular word that was translated poorly into the Hebrew from the original Greek. Today Christians say “You worship demons”, but we have been robbed of the verse which affirms our beliefs.

Psalm 96:4-5 For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.  For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens and the Earth.

The highlighted word is what you will find in every Hebrew-based Bible translation. But the Masoretic texts were translated in the 16th Century AD, whereas the original Greek comes from the 3rd Century BC. The difference in this single word is everything in this passage. It reads daimonia, a word which is only ever translated as devils or demons. It is my personal belief that if the original word in this Psalm had been intended to be a lifeless representation of some idea which didn’t actually exist (the Hebrew ‘eliyl [idol] translates as: of nought, good for nothing, worthless) this passage would surely read eidōlon.

Although the choice is yours to make, I feel I would be remiss if I let the lie of polytheistic Christianity persist. It may seem harsh to hear, but YHWH will not accept someone who hasn’t committed to Him alone. That’s not a decision I or anyone else gets to make, God made that decision long before we were born. I am thankful that He continues to be patient with us, but I’ll be honest: it’s better to make the decision sooner than later.

Early Beginnings & The Inter-connected Web

I haven’t had many visions, and of the very few I have had, I can only attribute 1 to God, and one I do not believe was from God at all. But this is the vision I’m going to tell you about in this post is one I don’t know where it came from at all. But it did have it’s own impact on my life, and has some bearing on the ministry this website hopes to cultivate.

When I was young, I was abused by my father. It was in the late 1980s through to 1991 when the Department of Human Services got involved. I couldn’t tell you exactly how old I was when these things happened to me, but I can tell you that it was before I was 6 years old.

My first memory is of my father holding a pistol at my mother’s head, threatening both her, myself and younger brother. This was the kind of household I was growing up in, and because my father was so well liked by others practically no one believed my mother. Not until a babysitter found bruising on me and my brother.

My next memory was a vision. One I saw, but no one else did. I was too young to really understand anything of Christ. Every time we went to a church, we had to walk two miles to get there and by the time we arrived the church was more interested in getting my mother to watch after the children rather than letting her join congregation. This took away from the number of times we attended. So when I saw this vision- I had no frame to really put it into…but it stuck with me for years.

I was watching my mother reading in a chair from another room, where I was suppose to be asleep. When suddenly a ring of fire came up from the floor and when it died down, my father was standing there frantically trying to speak to my mother. He was asking for forgiveness, although I couldn’t see them, I felt like there were tears in his eyes. Then just as suddenly as the ring appeared, it came back and died down again with nothing standing there. Later I would learn that during this time my father was seeking counsel from a witch named Tish Owen. Tish, being the most well-known pagan in Nashville, TN, later started classes where she taught practioners how to take their pagan life to the next level. Unknowingly, my brother- who bears the same first and last name as my father- took one of those classes with his wife and they were certified to become High Priest and Priestess.

After the babysitters discovered our abuse, we were moved into fostercare. My brother, our younger sister and I were fortunate to be in the same household. This couple went to a Non-Denominational Church in Brentwood, TN called “New Hope Church”. That’s the first place I was able to learn any of the basic hero stories of the Bible, including Christ’s crucifixtion. A year later, my family was reunited with my mother, who became a member of “The Cathedral of Incarnation”, a Catholic Church. The couple which had taken me and my siblings in became our God-Parents, and I still enjoy a relationship with them to this day.

I was baptised with the Catholic Church, a few years after we joined. But as I kept going, I started questioning things for myself. My mother did too, and she started watching a televised Bible Study by Pastor Arnold Murray of Shepherd’s Chapel. We continued to go to Mass while my mother tried to figure out what to do next. But at the age of 13, I had my final straw when I read a newsletter by a Catholic organization. It talked about a church somewhere in South America which wanted to elevate the Virgin Mary to effectively be a goddess. At that point, I decided that if this is just how low Catholics could get because they were taught dangerous doctrine, then polytheism was a more likely candidate for how the world was suppose to work. Afterall, only Christianity and Judaism (I didn’t know about other traditions yet) were claiming one god, they must be the ones that are wrong.

So I took to private study and spoke with friends to get information about pagan worship. Where most people go to witchcraft because they could be in control of things, I walked into it because I thought it was theological correct. As I got further into it, control wasn’t my goal, but instead to be a public servant to others around me. So I took up witchcraft practices and new age thoughts in order to help the people around me overcome obstacles in their life. I wasn’t engaged in curses, I was more interested in healing.

My mother diverged shortly after and we attended a bible study formed around the Shepherd’s Chapel study model. I picked up some things from the Bible Study, such as how to actually find information out of a lexicon. The stories I remembered focused on the most were on visions of Ezekiel, the first few chapters of Genesis, prophecies in Matthew 24, and Revelation. I didn’t really take as much interest in anything else they were teaching. I had learned enough in the Catholic Church, and Revelation was becoming a huge topic in school because of the “Left Behind” series. Most of the time I was out hanging with the kids that attended and occupying them as the oldest in attendance.

Then at Passover 2000, my mother took me to get Baptised by Pastor Arnold Murray. Not wanting to reveal that I was actually pursuing something completely different, I went along with it. She watched and when everything was done she told me what she saw. She had watched Pastor Murray baptise others before me, but his baptism changed when he got to me. She said his whole demeanor changed, and it looked as though he was praying extra hard for me. I didn’t tell her the truth of my pagan studies until nearly 8 years after that baptism.

The next year, God sent an angel to call me out of witchcraft. Sad to say, but the truth is things didn’t end there for me. I continued with a lot of unease as to what to do next. Between my first vision (my father in a fire-ring) and coming face-to-face with an Angel of the Lord, I should have turned then…but my sins kept piling up.

Although I could go further on the topic. We would be here for far too long. The story of what happened in May 2002 and some of the things that led to this ministry is documented in my book. A book I do not seek to make money off of, and can be read it for free online here, or a physical copy purchased at the bare minimum Amazon would allow me to set the price at ($3.80): A Wicked & Adulterous Generation.

What Church do you attend?

I can’t tell you how often this question comes up. And I would be lying to you if I said I feel freedom in the fact that my answer is “I don’t have one”. But I’d also be lying if I told you that everytime someone invites me to their church I feel some sort of thrill that I can try out a new one until I find the one God wants me at.

The raw, honest truth is, I make time to spend with God on my own, during the week. Churches aren’t as open in the United States as I romanticize them to have been a few centuries ago. When I think of an effective church, I think of one where I can go in and pray, and be able to recieve fellowship with God’s people. That’s probably because the ideal church environment in my head, is what we had in the 90s at The Cathedral of Incarnation in Nashville, TN. I haven’t been back for quite some time, but I imagine they are the same as they use to be, but of course they have the funding to pull it off.

Most Protestant Churches, however, don’t. And even many of the Catholic Churches in my region don’t have the staffing to keep an open space for people that just want to come in and pray. In the Upstate, there are only two welcoming places I have been able to find for someone that just wants to come in and pray- an Episcopal Church in Downtown Greenville and The Potter’s Place in Central, SC just behind Southern Wesleyan University.

One might ask- why does an open-door church, with an accessible ministry team, matter? We live in a day and age where fighting to make a living is difficult. My husband works the second shift during the week, and to make ends meet I work a two day 12-hr security shift on the weekends. This allows us the ability to have a stable income just to maintain living in a trailer, while we try to save up for a better place…through the turmoil of maintaining a single car and 500cc scooter, and raising a rambucous 8 year old. Churches which have weekday services or bible studies, are missing daycares- and my son simply will not sit still. I’ve tried looking for daytime Bible Study groups, but they lack the fellowship aspect. Every Bible Study I’ve tried to go to as an adult has ended up being less interaction and more watch-the-video, here’s a workbook and homework (it’s not graded).

Though, there was one. Exactly one church I thought I could be a part of…then God woke me up. This church had Charismatic leanings, and the more I paid attention to what was being said, and how my soul responded to those things, the more spiritually sick I felt. I still love the people that started the church, and even believe God wanted me there for a short time to bear witness. It hurts even that I had a place I could fellowship, but I had to leave because the church itself was decieved into teaching Christianized witchcraft. Exposure to this church has knocked out several congregations, such as those which follow Pentacostalism, Bethel and Hillsong.

I have difficulty with the Catholic Church, Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches for various reasons. The church my mother attends (Shepherd’s Chapel) may have been helpful early on, but theologically I’ve reached different conclusions on many of the key points their ministry is founded upon. Jehovah’s Witness relies to heavily on trying to correct failed internal prophecies and Mormonism accepts books that flies in the face of God’s declaration that He would use Israel itself to make the world know He is God. Then there are times I see things that concern me within congregations, such was the case in 2019 when the United Methodist Convened to discuss the topic of LGBT rights within the church. Guest musicians seemed to lack the spirit of worship when they sang, the arguments for and against equal LGBT representation were less based on scripture and history and more about personal feelings. The convention, from every angle, was built too heavily upon a popularity contest, rather than getting down to the bottom of what God’s wishes are. Some churches deny the reality of demons and witchcraft, regulating them to nothing more than figments of imagination- something that I find is very damaging, though can understand others find more benign.

Assuming I did find a denomination that fit, the next problem is finding a church that lives those values. It sounds like I’m looking for perfection, but I’m not. I know there is no such thing as the perfect church, at least not since the Apostles and possibly their proteges lived. After that point, it’s been a game of telephone. And as things got more spread out, people were able to mix other theological thought with scripture- as far back as Ignatius and Polycarp calling out Gnostic traditions. One might even argue earlier, as Paul is seen several times calling out false prophets.

Finding a church is difficult and a personal journey that must be taken seriously. I can tell you that the longer I go without finding one, the more the questions weigh upon me:

Is my pride keeping me from Church?

Is God waiting for me to do something before revealing a church?

Or is it true that he doctrines of man have really corrupted the Body of Christ that much that it’s harder to find a church that teaches truth?

For Christians that invoke Paul’s epistle 1 Timothy 2:12-15, saying a woman has no right to seek their own answers, for they are easily decieved, my message is simple: with over 30,000 denominations in the world, many having vastly different undrstandings, how can you expect a woman to follow man and know for certain they are following God’s Word? For just as easily as women are decieved, Paul warned against false prophets, Polycarp, Ignatius and Ireneaus being so close in time to the original apostles fought against heresays. Paul himself acknowledges that men can be decieved. And God multiple times over has made the statement that the sin of a person lays upon them, even when they have been led astray by another.

It is for this reason, my prayer is that if it seem right to God, that he find us worthy to send a Prophet for the nations, to set us right once more.