Drawing Lines In the Sand

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We began this blog as a family and we have covered all kinds of subjects, mainly to do with Christian living and spiritual abuse from cult-like churches. We have recently included some blog posts about specifics regarding our families and why we went no contact with them.

We just wanted to talk about what no contact actually is and what it isn’t and the thinking behind it because a lot of people talk about this on the net, but not a lot of people really understand the reasoning behind it.

Going no contact is not about ignoring or shunning. It is not about revenge and it is not about manipulating in order to get people to do what you want. It is an event horizon.

The phrase ‘drawing a line in the sand’ is something of a misnomer. When you think about it, sand is not something which holds it’s shape. Drawing a line in the sand is more akin to making a temporary boundary than it is to making a permanent one. Drawing a line in the cement is probably a better term to use in this instance. There is time for it to cure and therefore make the line fixed, but after that, it is indelible. Going no contact is about drawing a line beyond which reality changes.  It is a time line but also a paradigm shift. It can be temporary or not, the choice is up to you. And this, for abuse survivors is the most significant property of the no contact decision.  It is a choice we make to protect ourselves from further abuse.  A choice, I say again, that WE make.  When those choices are impugned or resisted we learn to live as viable adults who must accept that life is not simple and that we have to accept these tests of our character. It is where we grow and change.  Therefore the choice to go no contact is not just a border or barrier to abuse, it is a means by which our identity is matured. Through making and keeping boundaries we grow tougher and at the same time more malleable.  We learn to tell genuine belligerence from guileless ignorance.  And there is a difference.  The real wolves, the real life destroyers, are the blissfully unconscionable, not those people who have simply made bad choices.

Discussion online about going no contact, I think, began among those in the narcissistic abuse community. It grew from discussion about how to deal with narcissists in your family or other relationships who won’t stop abusing you. Most people do not go no-contact on a whim. In fact many people report not actually wanting to cut their abusers out of their lives altogether. Others have a great deal of difficulty making complete breaks. It is neither easy nor always possible to go this route. Often there are cases involving children where this is not possible. What is clear though, is that many recognise very early in their journey to health and wholeness that they simply cannot reason with their abusers. This is actually what prompts most people to even recognise abuse in the first place. It is the act of somebody who lacks the ability to use self-control or empathise with others, the act of somebody without a conscience who figures that laws or consequences are for other people.

I want to point out that for Christians, going no contact is reinforced by scripture. If you go to a brother and point out his sin and he refuses to deal with it, take another as a witness and try again. If he still won’t respond, take it to the church, and if he still refuses to change you refuse the sinner entry into the congregation until they come to their senses. No contact in scripture was always a means to get a sinner to stop sinning and keep the congregation safe from their behaviour. It’s all in Matthew 18.

In the case of the cult, we went to them, or rather Steve went to them, in order to talk to them about their behaviour. Steve got a lecture about how I was a ‘bad influence’ and that Steve needed to side with the elders against me and that if he didn’t…. You get the picture. Since we had already been witnesses to at least one family who they had destroyed, we got the picture very quickly. Fortunately for us, Steve stood up to their ridiculous assertions and we parted company. It took 15 years to get to this point. 15 years of trying over and over to fit in, to understand what was going wrong and usually blaming ourselves. 15 years of ‘discussions’ with cult leaders which ended up being more like confessions. During this time our self-respect was eroded, our mental well-being was undercut time and again and our faith in God and in other Christians was undermined. It was inevitable that we would come to the conclusion that enough was enough. The only reason it took 15 years was because they had not ever dealt with us in such a direct and retributive manner. We were being warned that the elders were targeting us, me in particular, because I had spoken to a ‘person of interest’, namely a woman whose marriage they were already in the process of destroying. They knew that if she talked to me, I would know the truth and they would not be able to deal with two of us knowing too much. They had already isolated her and planned on creating a divorce. In our marriage they simply warned Steve that his place was with the elders and their assessment of my danger to them. Steve saw this venality for what it was and made up his mind.

In cults unfortunately, you don’t get to enjoy the benefit of seeing them come to their senses because while you are cutting ties to them, they are cutting ties to you and lying about why you left to everyone still in the cult. They work on the people you know to ensure that they learn their lines, that we are cursed and that they should not have anything to do with us. So trying to explain to others why you are leaving is often completely pointless. They have already been brainwashed against you. Then you get all the fun things like coming face to face with cult members you barely know in the supermarket and having to ‘overhear’ them talking about you in the next aisle, or having to ask them to get out of your way so that you can get something from the shelf right behind them because they are being deliberately obstructive.

In our case, they also invaded our children’s school. Six months after we left, three cult members became teachers on our children’s campus. One of whom was in our home group for a couple of years and was to be teaching our son Nicholas. Nick was only 11 at the time, didn’t understand the dynamics of what had just happened and figured that his new teacher was a really nice lady. Which she was, to him. It was part of the agenda of dividing families.  Unfortunately, she refused to accept that Nick has dyslexia because in the cult, children don’t have learning difficulties because everything is caused by disobedience to the cult leaders. So it became impossible to relate to her. So going no contact was not really an option for us. The minute you leave a cult, you are persona non grata.

As far as going no contact with our families the minute we explained where we were coming from, the more we saw that our siblings in particular were not going to listen to us and were going to protect and agree with our mothers, on both sides of the family. Kind of interesting that both of us had the same dynamics happening.

The fact is that the whole ‘waking up’ crisis involves a deep level of trauma in itself. In effect, dealing with family who support a corrupt leadership is exactly the same as dealing with a congregation who support a corrupt leadership. If its not happening to them they will ignore, minimize, justify, explain and generally blame you instead of thinking that maybe there is something to what you are talking about. People will label you as the ‘crazy one’ rather than take time to understand. If you know anything about brainwashing and group-think, especially in relation to trauma bonding, you will understand that it takes a HUGE shift in thinking and an attendant strong emotional disturbance before you are able to even empathize. People who are not involved in the group will more easily be able to judge your story objectively. We discovered this the hard way. We did not want to have to go and tell our story to strangers, but having come from a cult and then recognizing the same dynamics in our own families, we realized we had no choice. Nobody we knew, nobody who had known us for decades, was going to be able to help us.

In a cult, you may be able to get the other inmates to agree that something is wrong. They may even go so far as to start questioning the status quo themselves. But its’ like being on a piece of elastic. People will only go as far as the elastic allows them and then spring back to their original mindset. It’s a form of self-protection. Any seismic shift in reality is incredibly difficult to manage. Human beings are more likely to stay warm and safe in bed than want to get out and get dressed in the cold. Once you are out however, you realise if you stay in bed, you won’t be living your life, you will be just existing, however warm and comfortable you will be. It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees as the old saying goes. To which I would add, it is better to die in your shoes than be murdered in your beds. You still die, but at least you will have lived first.

So short of deliberately shaking people up you are really forced to make more changes in your life when your family and friends refuse to see the truth and choose rather to continue living with a lie. That is their choice, in the end yours will take you down a different path. What inevitably occurs however, is that while you manfully make your choice and travel down another road, there will be the pain of loss and even further abuse from a family who not only don’t understand your choice but actively oppose it at every opportunity.

So you will have to further consolidate your losses by making the choice to stop the exposure to more abuse. In our cases, we communicated with family members, wrote letters to explain our positions and were met with insults, accusations, fake apologies or attempts to diffuse the situation by saying ‘but we love you so much’ which actually does nothing to deal with the problem at all. Especially when you know that ‘love’ in an abusive environment is not love at all. People can be brainwashed into thinking that they are loved when they get attention, or they are given treats, or they are allowed to spend time with the person they want attention from. It is extremely easy to manipulate people into thinking that the leadership cares about them if the leadership plays good cop bad cop on a regular basis and keeps either the congregation or the group members in a constant state of imbalance, never knowing what is coming next. It is really the definition of “Stockholm Syndrome”. The reason that kidnapping victims end up relying on their captors and in some cases developing romantic relationships with them. They end up getting into a state of learned helplessness and believe that they have to do what they can to survive. Cult members do the same thing except on a much longer term basis. All of the friends we left behind in the cult have been there now for nearly 30 years. Their kids are all married and having kids of their own. It is a loss we feel at a very deep level because our own children were cut off from their friends and should have been having a life with these young adults, and sharing their own children with each other. You might think that we should just get on and ‘get a life’. But bearing the scars of a loss of a friendship group, especially in a christian group where the connection is spiritual as well as social and familial, is not something you can outlive or distract yourself from. These scars are lifelong, they are not to be dismissed lightly and they should be respected. You don’t just ‘get a life’. It is the reason that Christ’s scars remained after his resurrection. His sacrifice for us was not just temporal, it was eternal. Relationships involve deep scars, some sacrificial, some malignant, but we all bear them. It is what makes us human, the images of the God who created us.

Making the choice to go no contact with abusers and their supporters is the very means by which survivors ‘get a life’. We move on with our lives, cognizant of the memories of the people we choose to remove ourselves from, and not without the pain of knowing those relationships will possibly not ever be mended. We have told our relatives, in writing, that when they begin to treat us with respect, we will be happy to talk with them again. The ball is actually in their court. If they want to start talking to us as equals and with a genuine desire to relate in a healthy way, we are happy to talk with them. Nobody has ever taken us up on that. They have simply used our refusal to be treated badly as a weapon against us and even gone so far as to tell their own children that we want nothing to do with them either. This is patently not true. We do not know their children, they have made sure of that. As adults they have their own lives, and they can contact us if they wish to verify what happened. They are not likely to do this unless they experience a waking up of their own through hardship or trauma.

It is really that simple. We have learned to draw the line, to cut off the generational abuse. That may mean that we never have extended family around us until our own children marry and have their own children. We have come to terms with that and do not expect anyone to come searching for us. In fact, we expect the opposite. This blog is not widely read, and probably will never be. It is simply our means of speaking up about what has happened to us and why we have taken the action we have.

We wish no ill on anyone. In fact, we pray to the effect that no ill will happen to our family and even now, knowing that our mothers are old and will very shortly be required to stand and give account to God for their lives, we pray they will be spared the agony of being denied an eternity in His presence. We wish nobody the torment of hell, but since people make their own decisions about God likewise they make their own decisions about hell. I know that our families know the gospel, because we have told them the gospel ourselves. They are without excuse.

28 Peter began to say to Him, “Look, we have left everything and followed You.”

29 “Truly I tell you, said Jesus, “- no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for My sake and for the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundredfold in the present age—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, along with persecutions—and to receive eternal life in the age to come.

(Mark 10: 28-30)

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Drawing Lines in the Sand (Part 2)

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Drawing lines in the sand is good for everybody but not everybody will initially recognise this. If you have been raised in an environment where the lines have been erased and redrawn a thousand times and you are used to people making declarations which mean precisely nothing lines will be ignored.

If you live in a cult where some lines mean nothing and other lines mean sudden death, and those lines are interchangeable depending upon the whims of the people in control, then you either take no chances or throw caution to the winds. We have seen both effects.  Usually the more neurotic you are the less likely you will be to challenge authority.

Human beings can only take so much  capriciousness. Sooner or later, usually when you get to a certain age – marriage, children, maturity and all of the perspective engendered  – you come to a line of your own. And you decide that you are not going to live under the erratic and irrational rule of your tormentors any more. As I said previously, it takes a lot, usually an event horizon, before you make your move. Some people never make one.  Only God can help them, often they never recover. It is tragic but it is true. Our prayer is that family members we have appealed to for change will come to an epiphany themselves. We are speaking the truth. And I am not talking about truth in the same way that smug, self-protecting ingenues talk about truth. It is not whatever anyone wants it to mean in the same way Humpty Dumpty talked about grammar.

We believe truth is particular, timeless, constant and credible not dynamic and isomorphic (as in the Tardis controls for all you Whovians out there). When you discover the truth about yourself, it is not something that just you can understand. The real truth about anybody is true regardless of who understands it. Years ago when people lived in villages not cities, everyone knew who they were. Whole families had traits which everyone recognised and saw passed down through the generations. This is why village church leaders had such a position of honour. They heard confessions and understood family issues like nobody else. Yet the essence of individuals were regarded and respected. Not so in today’s fast paced billion-membered world. Morals used to be upheld, values practiced and characters tested and found to be unvarying and worthy of honour. Today, people think morals are pictures on walls and character is a person in a movie.

People who continually lie to, degrade, humiliate, disregard and dismiss their family members can expect to have their relations with their victims suddenly and comprehensively removed. The fact that they get given warnings and second chances is testament to the character of the victims, not a testament to the character of the abusers. Abusers who then ignore the request to change or at the very least refuse to apologise for their actions, and blithely continue to treat the victim in the way they always have can only expect to be given short shrift. These ones have disqualified themselves as reasonable human beings. They have made it abundantly clear to their reasonable victims that they will not abide by moral values of any sort and that they are going to continue to do the very thing that marks them out as implausible.

It is one thing to have compassion on those who have abused you, to pray for them to change, to hope that they will one day understand what they have done. It is quite another thing to have it shoved in your face time after time that not only is your abuser not going to change, but they are going to step up the abuse to a whole other level and think that their actions are not only enjoyable but that you somehow owe them an apology for expecting them to change.

Not happening.

This is why we have posted on this topic on this blog. Not only are we no longer putting up with continued abuse, but we are calling it out, naming names, and making sure abusive family members recognise that there are consequences to their actions. We have done this after years of minding our own business, ‘getting a life’, and attempting to create a family not marred and disfigured by sociopathic individuals.  We reached a line when we attempted to communicate with those who figured they could carry on ad infinitum with impunity.  We reached another one when our attempts to live a quiet life were continually interrupted by further burlesque from the sideshow of family vanities.

Do we expect them to stop after this? We expect nothing, we hope eternally. Not because we are somehow better human beings than them, but because we know that God does not give up on anyone until they are dead. He gives us opportunity after opportunity to repent, to change, to come to our senses. Not because of who we are, but because of who He is. His unchanging mercy and love means that today is the day of salvation. In a very short while, it will be the day of judgement.

Over the last few years we have had text messages from family members preaching little homilies. Previously we have had those same family members making phone calls in the middle of a working day completely out of the blue, giving updates on their health and welfare. They don’t talk to us for years, then suddenly, they decide to contact us in the middle of the day at work to chat. They couldn’t have waited until the weekend. They choose to phone at the most inconvenient time of the day, and week, and then expect that they will get a listening ear while they whine about their health issues and family problems. The same person who has ignored us and our family for years, literally, and shown absolutely no interest in our health or family problems.

The insufferable selfishness of this behaviour is beyond belief.

Our children have had family members stalking them on face-book, trying to friend them, sending them messages etc. This is not only ridiculous because they assume our kids have not been affected by their total disinterest in their lives, but because they assume we don’t talk about it. Maybe in their families people don’t discuss issues or problems and come to solutions as a family, but we do. We warn, we protect and we help our kids to know who to avoid and understand who is not going to treat them with respect.

They too grew up in a cult environment. They were abused as well. They need to know who they can trust, and they need to know who is abusive so they can avoid the same mistakes we made. So as a family we stand together. They tried to destroy our family in the cult, we warn anyone who wants to try and destroy our family outside of the cult that you will be coming up against a force to be reckoned with.

So we have made some fairly decent strides forward. Not just as human beings, but as a family group. We are not perfect by any means, but we are stronger in ways that most people would not even begin to understand.

We have learned to stand up against the tide of opposition, to deal with the frequent persecution and attempts to destabilise, especially from those who claim to be Christians and yet are not. Scripture makes it clear that if you have no love for the brethren, then the love of God is not in you.

We will not continually ignore the repeated attempts to interrupt our lives by people who individually and as a group refuse to change or grow. They need to answer the clue phone. THEY need to get a life. They need to recognise that when we say we don’t accept abuse in any forms that we mean it. They need to recognise that stalking us on facebook, making ludicrous assertions about us on internet sites and then pretending that all of this is negligible only serves to make us more determined to safeguard our family from their imbecilic behaviour.

There is one more line to draw.

That is the line of too late.

That line is for God to determine and it usually comes with death. Not always. If anyone reading this lives beyond the time when they take the mark of the Beast, that line will have been crossed.

The time is coming when the church will no longer be a place of refuge. When that time comes, you will have nowhere to turn but the Bible. We hope you learn from the trauma you have already been through and recognise that the people who drew the lines were the people who cared enough to teach you to stay on your side of them.

If you don’t want to learn that lesson, you will have to deal with God. He judges those who touch His people, He always has, He always will. Make the decision to be born into that people. Jesus said that you can be born by His Spirit, through faith that He is the Messiah, Saviour and God who created you. There is no other way through, and nobody, including the man who will claim to be Christ but will in fact be anti-christ will be able to help you.

 

 

My Faith Journey – Anita’s New Beginning

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I was 13 years old and in the second year of High School. A girl I had met in Art class asked me if I would like to go to a holiday camp with her during our Autumn break. I HATED camps. I had no idea why, but I wanted to go on this one. Those two weeks in May literally changed my life.

We had to travel to Christmas Creek in the Lamington Plateau on the Queensland border. On the bus there was a group of girls who were mucking around and having fun. But they didn’t seem like the usual types of girls I had known at school. They were kind and joyful and there was something else. They didn’t do the usual teenage thing with strangers.  They didn’t dismiss you with their self-absorption. There was an unspoken acceptance in their faces, there was a glimpse of something preternatural, yet completely compelling. A doorway to heaven opened that day. Light streamed through that opening and hit my deepest soul and I felt as though I had come home.

There were about 7 or 8 other girls in our cabin. The first day they were all lively and chattering together as well as asking me questions out of genuine interest. I wouldn’t even tell them my name. I just told them I was ‘Shelley’s friend’. They were confused but they didn’t badger me. When I was ill, the camp leaders showed compassion and concern and gave me advice and comfort. I was so unfamiliar with this that I didn’t really know what to do with it. Even Bible studies, which were a mystery to me, were fun with these people. They were not trying to play one person off against another, they weren’t trying to embarrass anybody who didn’t know the answers, there was absolutely no sarcasm.

I was totally engaged. And for a kid who had grown up feeling totally isolated, this was a huge change. Something was going on. I had no time to think about it, all I knew was that the two weeks flew by.

Later, when Shelley asked if I wanted to pray and ask Jesus into my heart, I knew I wanted what these girls had. I needed some time to feel ready to do what I needed to do, but one night in the second week of the camp, Shelley and I had agreed we would pray together and I would ask Jesus to come and be my Saviour and Lord. We had planned to get up in the middle of the night and pray together.  Why then? It made it more exciting I suppose. We were teenagers.  What can I say?  Except Shelley refused to wake up. I didn’t want to wake up the others in the cabin, so I simply prayed my own prayer and tried to remember the words that Shelley had used. I knew what I was praying, even if I didn’t have a full grasp of everything that it involved. Jesus became the central point around which my life revolved.

Those two weeks introduced me to the body of Christ and the joy of living that we were meant to have as God’s own children. When they told me I had to share my faith with my family my heart fell. Nobody talked about religion at home except for my oldest sister who had been immersed in the religious teachings of a cult leader in America. There was constant friction every time the subject of God came up. Nobody wanted another religious convert in the family.  I hardly knew what to say to them.

All I know is that I tried to explain what had happened to me.  I remember crying when my mother made it clear she wanted nothing to do with it.  It was a hard thing for a 13-year-old to face but it didn’t change my faith.  I had signed up for a free mail-out of Scripture Union booklets with a year’s worth of bible readings and commentary.  They were called ‘Daily Bread’.  Many Christians have used those resources over the years, but for me, they were an oasis in the desert.  I think it was what kept me going during that time.  I wasn’t able to get to church except on the odd occasion somebody was willing to drive me there.

Strangely, Shelley fell away.  The last time I talked to her was just after I got married.  I phoned her up, and she wanted nothing to do with me.  No explanation, just angry denunciations and demands that I go and relate to my church friends.  We had spent many years after we left school just going to the movies or having coffee together. I will never know what happened to her, but I get a sense she just got too involved in the world and left her former faith behind as though it was a piece of clothing that no longer fitted. Contacting her probably just reminded her of who she had been and it was too much for her to cope with.  My prayer is that she finds her way back before it’s too late.

I was baptised when I was 19, but not after having faced months of panic attacks and the recognition that I needed more than just bible studies to thrive as a Christian. But that is another story.

Conspiracies, Cults and Mainstream Christianity: How Five Men Changed the World

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A set of papers which came to our notice recently has changed the way we view the evangelical church. But perhaps that is too broad. It is our view of the movers and shakers of the evangelical church which has been changed. Then again if the ‘pillars’ of the church, those men and few women who have shaped congregations denominations and even generations of believers, suddenly lose their lustre and you see them not as godly mature teachers but secretive lying conspirators then it will in fact affect your understanding of the whole church. It is that grave.

We were reading on the website seekgod.ca a copy of the General Council Minutes of the Fort Lauderdale Elders, the men who began the Shepherding movement of the 70s and 80s and who had such a huge influence on the evangelical and charismatic church during that era. Literally dozens of denominations and congregations were involved in this movement which basically became a cult-like influence on people’s lives. These men, each of whom had their own very influential international ministries via books, tapes and conferences, became a massive force in American evangelical history not to mention in Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the world.

The Shepherding movement was at its heart a means by which a tyrannical pyramid shaped hierarchy was set in place to control and dominate the lives of those who submitted to its power. The five principal men involved were Don Basham, Derek Prince, Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson and Ern Baxter. These men came from varying denominational backgrounds from Assemblies of God to Southern Baptist and were known as the ‘Fort Lauderdale Five’ or the ‘fab five’. You need only to go online to research the heresies and devastation that the shepherding movement produced. The very worst of this scenario is that these men never really repented of their heresies and most of them are now dead. The one man who actually publicly repented via a letter of repentance and refutation of these heresies, Bob Mumford, didn’t actually make a full acknowledgement that the movement and the errors they taught and practiced were not orthodox and were not healthy. If you read the letter in its entirety, (at this site) you will see that he manages to skirt round issues and rather than make specific and direct statements that he was wrong and he recognizes the extent of the damage he and the other men did to the body of Christ, he simply explains why he did what he did.

His opening statement that “I feel as though I have offended the Lord Himself, resulting in His resistance and continued conviction” is a classic fluffy non-statement. He only feels as though he offended God, he doesn’t acknowledge his actions as sin or the result of fleshly desires for power over others. Later in the statement he says “Accountability, personal training under the guidance of another, and effective pastoral care are needed biblical concepts”. Yet he doesn’t produce a bible verse to this effect. The whole point of the Shepherding movement, that we all need to be ‘accountable’ to another human being and that this accountability should include every little detail of life up to and including who you marry and where you live, is antithetical to the freedom, liberty from restriction, grace and power that is found in Christ himself. Yet these men literally controlled whole denominations and the pyramidal structure of ‘accountability’ was such that they  were given pope-like adoration by many christians. And I don’t use the term ‘pope’ loosely.

Individually, men like Derek Prince who removed himself from the ‘Fab Five’ in 1983, still had a huge influence on the evangelical church. Even today, his dvd’s books and youtube videos are watched by tens of thousands and many consider his teaching to be biblical and authoritative. We ourselves were influenced by Prince’s teachings, many of which we hasten to add were not heretical in the slightest. This is often the way with teachers and pastors who end up damaging people’s lives. A large percentage of their preaching is biblical and orthodox. It is the percentage that isn’t which ends up damaging the body of Christ and in the end it is what they are known for rather than the good that they have done. Unfortunately, Derek Prince and his cohorts were not just guilty of false theology and praxis. They were guilty of much more that they did not ever publicly acknowledge.

Prince made a statement after Mumford read out his statement of confession regarding the Shepherding movement. He said “I never was involved in asking people to submit to me…I tend to let people go their own way…I don’t believe it was ever God’s intent to start a movement. All of us have to share the responsibility, however, of failing God and failing the body of Christ’. I think the phrase you were looking for Mr. Prince was ‘I sinned against God and the body of Christ’. Failure in scripture is not an option. Recognition of one’s sin is the means by which we are released from the wages of sin, that being spiritual death.

Neither Mumford nor Prince really made it clear in their statements at the annual pastor’s conference at The Church on The Way in November 1989 that they recognised the far reaching effects of their control and domination of the evangelical church. They could have been a great force for good on that occasion. “There were 1700 pastors and spouses in attendance. They represented 700 churches and 34 denominations in 41 states and 17 nations”. *It didn’t get very much bigger than that in that era. Yet they failed not only to fully understand the impact they had but to fully repent and acknowledge their errors and sin and make restitution to the millions of people whose lives they changed.

*http://jamiebuckinghamministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Jan.Feb-1990-The-End-of-the-Discipleship-Era.pdf

While all of this is bad enough, reading through the minutes of the General Council meeting of these men sheds a completely different light on their actions, intentions and agenda. For they did indeed have an agenda no less than setting up a world-wide movement which would include the Catholic church and every other denomination that existed at the time. They were well on their way to it if the minutes of these meetings in the mid-seventies prove. These are actual articles, they are not fiction and they prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the ‘fab five’ were intending no less than a world take-over of the evangelical church with their teachings. It is important then for all Christians, especially Christians who have been damaged and had their families destroyed by men like this to recognise that God is ever in control and these men did not get their way. We are not suggesting however, that the agenda of a one world religion has gone away, far from it. It will happen and be part of the final world government, there is far too much evidence of this both biblically and empirically for this to have been a one-hit wonder.

We will give you some quotes from these minutes which were taken from September 1974 to August 1977.

An interesting excerpt from the first set of minutes suggests that these men were only interested in working among themselves in terms of who they took orders from. There were no, at this point, outside authorities or groups who had input into their plans.

Bob Mumford was to be the presiding elder/head of the elders group, Derek Prince was to chair the meetings. The two men who basically admitted nothing about their own sins against God and the body of Christ were the ones with the most influence it appears. Prince stated in the pastor’s conference in 1989 that “I never was involved in asking people to submit to me” is a lie. He was accountable for a small group of men initially in this group which met regularly to table their intentions and plans for the future of evangelical Christianity. He was not only shepherding other men in that group, he was shepherding other larger groups as the minutes will prove.

Here is a very revealing statement:

We will not make a public announcement about our commitment together. We can be open about the commitment between Don, Ern, John, Derek and Charles now. Steve and Ralph have to get the approval of their community coordinators and inform the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service Committee. We will discuss at our next meeting how to communicate about the full council”.

There are many statements like this throughout these sets of minutes which not only provide proof of their involvement with the Catholic Church but of their concerns about how their actions will be received by the larger protestant church. One statement urges Derek Prince to be cautious about how he presents himself to the leftist liberal churches and to be sure not to appear to be too conservative to them.

You can read through these sets of minutes yourself and come to your own conclusions. What this information has done for us is to make a huge impact on our understanding of what was going on among men who individually had a great deal of credibility and integrity as leaders and teachers in the body of Christ. They not only were involved in a conspiracy of the very worst kind, ie controlling not just congregations within their own influence, but planning to control congregations on whole continents and geo/political areas. The minutes prove that the Cardinal Suenens, a highly influential Catholic leader called “a major architect of 20th Century Roman Catholicism” in his New York Times obituary (see previous link) appeared to be wanting more control over what these men did than what they were comfortable with, but these minutes only cover a couple of years and are a snapshot of the inner workings of the sanctum of the ‘fab five’.

I find it interesting that the more we research about church history and the inter-connection of denominational leaders and the influence of various teachers throughout the centuries that a much larger picture becomes clear. It almost appears that nobody with a large international ministry can be trusted because as soon as they become leaders with influence and power, they become a part of a much larger global agenda which has been continuing through the centuries since the church of Jesus Christ was formed over 2000 years ago. These agendas are almost always secret and therefore conspiratorial.  Paul was aware of wolves in amongst the flocks we was overseeing in the New Testament and so concerned was he that he prayed and urged others to pray ceaselessly. (Acts 20:29) His fight is now done and we are left to continue to pray unceasingly for the faith of the remnant of believers in this day and age who will need every strength and help to continue on in the face of worldly opposition and persecution and the efforts of the enemy Satan to infiltrate the body of Christ and steal our spiritual lives and destroy our walk with Jesus.

We urge you to read these minutes and familiarise yourself with what these men were really about. If you have ever been part of a church which has instituted Shepherding teaching, or any other kind of aberrant teaching which leads to overt control and micro-management of the lives of congregation members, you will be fascinated at how these teachings were actually part of a much larger agenda. In fact, the whole of the seekgod.ca website is filled with proof that this agenda has played out in all kinds of church and secular environments throughout history.

I have to say that these minutes have changed forever the way I see the religious world. Billy Graham is another stalwart who has been proven to have an ecumenical, one-world religion agenda. Not only do these men wish to see a joining of that which cannot possibly be joined, the world and the church, false teaching and biblical teaching, they are interested only in individual Christians having somebody they can be ‘accountable to’ so that they can be controlled.

With the advent of electronic communication and databases such as google and facebook, the governments of the world are keeping a watch on our activities and ensuring that no opposition will go unnoticed. Even now, Youtube and Facebook will block and in some cases remove any upload which contains viewpoints opposed to theirs. It is no longer a free society, we are not able to publish independently of these media giants. In the seventies and eighties, the Fab Five were able to hold their secret meetings with the Vatican and other powerful religious bodies and foment their plans. Those plans may or may not have come to pass at that time. The Shepherding movement may not be lead by the Fab Five any more, but vestiges of the movement are still in operation and still forcing Christians to submit to their leaders in every possible way. The damage is still being done in one form or another.

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Of course, the Shepherding movement was only one way in which Christians were being controlled. The Brisbane Christian Fellowship which we were a part of was also affected by the teachings which influenced the Shepherding movement, specifically the Latter Rain/Manifest Sons of God teachings. Not only were we expected to ‘confess our sins’ to the various elders of this church, but unbeknownst to us, our confessions were being tabulated and filed for future manipulation. Our words were taken down and used as evidence against us if we looked like we were going to be a bit of a handful at a later date. When we left, accusations and snide comments were thrown at us proving that the elders we had trusted had been privy to every conversation we had ever had with any of them and then they twisted those words, made us look like evil villains whose every action proved us untrustworthy. The elders who controlled us were the ones who were untrustworthy. They used the classic bait and switch. They showed themselves to be genial, caring compassionate pastors and shepherds and then when we gave them our wholehearted trust, they broke that trust and used our vulnerability to control us.

There really are no words to describe the betrayal of men like this. Not only did the Fab Five betray the body of Christ with their carnal misuse of their positions of trust and authority, but they used their positions to secretively plan to control churches on other continents via the Charismatic and Pentecostal church groups in both Protestant and Catholic denominations. The catholic church was complicit in this and here is the rub. Who controlled who? Whose agenda was it in the end? We will never really know completely, but then we don’t need to.

For us, the event horizon, the point at which the whole picture becomes clear and we can see how everything links and where it is all going, was reading these minutes and recognising that trusting in any man wholeheartedly, even in the Christian church is dangerous. Yet churches everywhere, especially charsimatic churches, expect Christians to commit themselves to their leader’s vision, or their leader’s approval of their decisions or even their leader’s involvement in family and personal issues which have nothing whatsoever to do with them. Church covenants are a world-wide phenomenon which are growing more and more intrusive. Yet Christians continue to sign these ridiculous documents. We are NOT accountable to men, we are accountable to God through His Holy Spirit. We are free in Jesus Christ and have no obligation to the flesh, as Paul himself states in Romans 8; not our own flesh nor anybody else’s. When Paul wrote to submit to elders because they are responsible for our welfare, it was not a blank cheque for leaders to control and manipulate other people’s lives. Paul was making a statement about the responsibility leaders had to God, a much greater responsibility than anybody else had. They were not only looking after their own lives, they were caring for other people’s. This caring has NEVER involved expecting that people come to them as high priests to confess sins or look for acceptance or take the place of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Yet the control goes on.

As yet, we are not clear what this event horizon changes in our lives. It is a  huge eye-opener, and all but completes the picture we have been piecing together since our exit from the cult. While we still accept the Bible as the word of God, we still see God’s truth as never failing or passing away, we recognise that nobody in public ministry is immune from the corruption of power. We still believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord and as the son of God and God himself. We still believe that the body of Christ belongs to Him and that He is the author and perfecter of our faith, not men. We everywhere see the failings of men in churches, and especially the failings of church leaders. We all sin, but some sins are worse than others, and the sins of leaders who use their positions to control others are not ignored by God. He is very very concerned about those who use their leadership to profit off the very sheep they are supposed to be protecting.

 

 

 

Shame

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Shame is about being  exposed down to your very inner thoughts, no covering whatsoever. Often it is not physical nakedness which brings shame, but soul nakedness. But who hasn’t had a dream where you are naked and embarrassed trying to find something to cover yourself. We strive so hard to hide our true selves. We cover our sins, we cover our wrong motives and intentions and our wrong thoughts with explanations, defenses and arguments. Often we use lies to do this. We lie to ourselves, we lie to others, we even lie to God. The result of all of these stratagems is confusion, pain and a web of intrigue which traps us. We can’t move beyond that web because that web must move with us wherever we go. We must continue to explain and defend our actions because we are ashamed of our sins. If this goes on for long enough we begin to believe our lies. In fact our lies begin to propagate. Our lies beget bigger and more intricate lies. Then our lies depend on other people believing our lies. In order to get others to believe our lies, we must either coerce or flatter and cajole and sometimes manipulate and bully. Eventually our consciences are seared, we become desperate human beings and so deeply committed to protecting our own web of intrigue that the slightest provocation creates a hostile response. We become experts at discerning the intents of others. We begin to assess whether somebody poses a threat to us and our house of cards. We are not fully aware of it, but that house of cards is constructed so flimsily that really it will take very little to destroy it, so we must protect, protect, protect.

How ridiculous we have become.

All that is necessary is for us to go to Jesus, the lover of our souls, and confess our sins and He takes our shame, that shame that He bore on the Cross on our behalf, and gives us in exchange His freedom from shame. That is all that is needed to have that burden of sin removed and the terrible pain of humiliation that we carry to be taken away. We become free and our shame is gone. We can walk with our heads high, praising God who has given us His life, His glory, His righteousness because of His grace and His love for us. Who is it who claims that only a God who is a pathological murderer would place His son on the cross for us? This is truly a lie from the pit. God is no man that He should either lie or that He should murder. His own law states ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’. He did not kill. We did. He allowed himself to be murdered on our behalf. Christ’s death on the cross was not the act of a murderous God, it was the act of a loving merciful God who allowed his murderers to do what they willed in order that as a man He might be killed so that as God He might rise again and bring glorious life and salvation to all men. Anyone who rejects this act as the act of an insane God and then rejects God on the basis of that is not only deceived, they are being driven by demons

12 Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that hath endured such gainsaying of sinners against himself, that ye wax not weary, fainting in your souls. 4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin: 5 and ye have forgotten the exhortation which reasoneth with you as with sons,

Hebrews 12:1-5

Manipulative People

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Dealing With Manipulative People

An Excerpt from the book: In Sheep’s Clothing
By George K. Simon

Two Basic Types of Aggression

There are two basic types of aggression: overt-aggression and covert-aggression. When you’re determined to have something and you’re open, direct and obvious in your manner of fighting, your behavior is best labeled overtly aggressive. When you’re out to “win,” dominate or control, but are subtle, underhanded or deceptive enough to hide your true intentions, your behavior is most appropriately labeled covertly aggressive. Now, avoiding any overt display of aggression while simultaneously intimidating others into giving you what you want is a powerfully manipulative maneuver. That’s why covert-aggression is most often the vehicle for interpersonal manipulation.

Acts of Covert-Aggression vs. Covert-Aggressive Personalities

Most of us have engaged in some sort of covertly aggressive behavior from time to time. Periodically trying to manipulate a person or a situation doesn’t make someone a covert-aggressive personality. Personality can be defined by the way a person habitually perceives, relates to and interacts with others and the world at large.

The tactics of deceit, manipulation and control are a steady diet for covert-aggressive personality. It’s the way they prefer to deal with others and to get the things they want in life.

For a long time, I wondered why manipulation victims have a hard time seeing what really goes on in manipulative interactions. At first, I was tempted to fault them. But I’ve learned that they get hoodwinked for some very good reasons:

  1. A manipulator’s aggression is not obvious. Our gut may tell us that they’re fighting for something, struggling to overcome us, gain power, or have their way, and we find ourselves unconsciously on the defensive. But because we can’t point to clear, objective evidence they’re aggressing against us, we can’t readily validate our feelings.
  2. The tactics manipulators use can make it seem like they’re hurting, caring, defending, …, almost anything but fighting. These tactics are hard to recognize as merely clever ploys. They always make just enough sense to make a person doubt their gut hunch that they’re being taken advantage of or abused. Besides, the tactics not only make it hard for you to consciously and objectively tell that a manipulator is fighting, but they also simultaneously keep you or consciously on the defensive. These features make them highly effective psychological weapons to which anyone can be vulnerable. It’s hard to think clearly when someone has you emotionally on the run.
  3. All of us have weaknesses and insecurities that a clever manipulator might exploit. Sometimes, we’re aware of these weaknesses and how someone might use them to take advantage of us. For example, I hear parents say things like: “Yeah, I know I have a big guilt button.” – But at the time their manipulative child is busily pushing that button, they can easily forget what’s really going on. Besides, sometimes we’re unaware of our biggest vulnerabilities. Manipulators often know us better than we know ourselves. They know what buttons to push, when and how hard. Our lack of self-knowledge sets us up to be exploited.
  4. What our gut tells us a manipulator is like, challenges everything we’ve been taught to believe about human nature. We’ve been inundated with a psychology that has us seeing everybody, at least to some degree, as afraid, insecure or “hung-up.” So, while our gut tells us we’re dealing with a ruthless conniver, our head tells us they must be really frightened or wounded “underneath.” What’s more, most of us generally hate to think of ourselves as callous and insensitive people. We hesitate to make harsh or seemingly negative judgments about others. We want to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they don’t really harbor the malevolent intentions we suspect. We’re more apt to doubt and blame ourselves for daring to believe what our gut tells us about our manipulator’s character.

Recognizing Aggressive Agendas

Accepting how fundamental it is for people to fight for the things they want and becoming more aware of the subtle, underhanded ways people can and do fight in their daily endeavors and relationships can be very consciousness expanding. Learning to recognize an aggressive move when somebody makes one and learning how to handle oneself in any of life’s many battles, has turned out to be the most empowering experience for the manipulation victims with whom I’ve worked. It’s how they eventually freed themselves from their manipulator’s dominance and control and gained a much needed boost to their own sense of self esteem. Recognizing the inherent aggression in manipulative behavior and becoming more aware of the slick, surreptitious ways that manipulative people prefer to aggress against us is extremely important. Not recognizing and accurately labeling their subtly aggressive moves causes most people to misinterpret the behavior of manipulators and, therefore, fail to respond to them in an appropriate fashion. Recognizing when and how manipulators are fighting with covertly aggressive tactics is essential.

Defense Mechanisms and Offensive Tactics

Almost everyone is familiar with the term defense mechanism. Defense mechanisms are the “automatic” (i.e. unconscious) mental behaviors all of us employ to protect or defend ourselves from the “threat” of some emotional pain. More specifically, ego defense mechanisms are mental behaviors we use to “defend” our self-images from “invitations” to feel ashamed or guilty about something. There are many different kinds of ego defenses and the more traditional (psychodynamic) theories of personality have always tended to distinguish the various personality types, at least in part, by the types of ego defenses they prefer to use. One of the problems with psychodynamic approaches to understanding human behavior is that they tend to depict people as most always afraid of something and defending or protecting themselves in some way; even when they’re in the act of aggressing. Covert-aggressive personalities (indeed all aggressive personalities) use a variety of mental behaviors and interpersonal maneuvers to help ensure they get what they want. Some of these behaviors have been traditionally thought of as defense mechanisms.

While, from a certain perspective we might say someone engaging in these behaviors is defending their ego from any sense of shame or guilt, it’s important to realize that at the time the aggressor is exhibiting these behaviors, he is not primarily defending (i.e. attempting to prevent some internally painful event from occurring), but rather fighting to maintain position, gain power and to remove any obstacles (both internal and external) in the way of getting what he wants. Seeing the aggressor as on the defensive in any sense is a set-up for victimization. Recognizing that they’re primarily on the offensive, mentally prepares a person for the decisive action they need to take in order to avoid being run over. Therefore, I think it’s best to conceptualize many of the mental behaviors (no matter how “automatic” or “unconscious” they may appear) we often think of as defense mechanisms, as offensive power tactics, because aggressive personalities employ them primarily to manipulate, control and achieve dominance over others. Rather than trying to prevent something emotionally painful or dreadful from happening, anyone using these tactics is primarily trying to ensure that something they want to happen does indeed happen. Using the vignettes presented in the previous chapters for illustration, let’s take a look at the principal tactics covert-aggressive personalities use to ensure they get their way and maintain a position of power over their victims:

Denial – This is when the aggressor refuses to admit that they’ve done something harmful or hurtful when they clearly have. It’s a way they lie (to themselves as well as to others) about their aggressive intentions. This “Who… Me?” tactic is a way of “playing innocent,” and invites the victim to feel unjustified in confronting the aggressor about the inappropriateness of a behavior. It’s also the way the aggressor gives him/herself permission to keep right on doing what they want to do. This denial is not the same kind of denial that a person who has just lost a loved one and can’t quite bear to accept the pain and reality of the loss engages in. That type of denial really is mostly a “defense” against unbearable hurt and anxiety. Rather, this type of denial is not primarily a “defense” but a maneuver the aggressor uses to get others to back off, back down or maybe even feel guilty themselves for insinuating he’s doing something wrong.

Selective Inattention – This tactic is similar to and sometimes mistaken for denial It’s when the aggressor “plays dumb,” or acts oblivious. When engaging in this tactic, the aggressor actively ignores the warnings, pleas or wishes of others, and in general, refuses to pay attention to everything and anything that might distract them from pursuing their own agenda. Often, the aggressor knows full well what you want from him when he starts to exhibit this “I don’t want to hear it!” behavior. By using this tactic, the aggressor actively resists submitting himself to the tasks of paying attention to or refraining from the behavior you want him to change.

Rationalization – A rationalization is the excuse an aggressor tries to offer for engaging in an inappropriate or harmful behavior. It can be an effective tactic, especially when the explanation or justification the aggressor offers makes just enough sense that any reasonably conscientious person is likely to fall for it. It’s a powerful tactic because it not only serves to remove any internal resistance the aggressor might have about doing what he wants to do (quieting any qualms of conscience he might have) but also to keep others off his back. If the aggressor can convince you he’s justified in whatever he’s doing, then he’s freer to pursue his goals without interference.

Diversion – A moving target is hard to hit. When we try to pin a manipulator down or try to keep a discussion focused on a single issue or behavior we don’t like, he’s expert at knowing how to change the subject, dodge the issue or in some way throw us a curve. Manipulators use distraction and diversion techniques to keep the focus off their behavior, move us off-track, and keep themselves free to promote their self-serving hidden agendas.

Early in the current school year, I found it necessary to address my son’s irresponsibility about doing his homework by making a rule that he bring his books home every night. One time I asked: “Did you bring your books home today?” His response was: “Guess what, Dad. Instead of tomorrow, we’re not going to have our test – until Friday.” My question was simple and direct. His answer was deliberately evasive and diversionary. He knew that if he answered the question directly and honestly, he would have received a consequence for failing to bring his books home. By using diversion (and also offering a rationalization) he was already fighting with me to avoid that consequence. Whenever someone is not responding directly to an issue, you can safely assume that for some reason, they’re trying to give you the the slip.

Covert Intimidation – Aggressors frequently threaten their victims to keep them anxious, apprehensive and in a one-down position. Covert-aggressives intimidate their victims by making veiled (subtle, indirect or implied) threats. Guilt-tripping and shaming are two of the covert-aggressive’s favourite weapons. Both are special intimidation tactics.

Guilt-tripping – One thing that aggressive personalities know well is that other types of persons have very different consciences than they do. Manipulators are often skilled at using what they know to be the greater conscientiousness of their victims as a means of keeping them in a self-doubting, anxious, and submissive position. The more conscientious the potential victim, the more effective guilt is as a weapon. Aggressive personalities of all types use guilt-tripping so frequently and effectively as a manipulative tactic, that I believe it illustrates how fundamentally different in character they are compared to other (especially neurotic) personalities. All a manipulator has to do is suggest to the conscientious person that they don’t care enough, are too selfish, etc., and that person immediately starts to feel bad. On the contrary, a conscientious person might try until they’re blue in the face to get a manipulator (or any other aggressive personality) to feel badly about a hurtful behavior, acknowledge responsibility, or admit wrongdoing, to absolutely no avail.

Shaming – This is the technique of using subtle sarcasm and put-downs as a means of increasing fear and self-doubt in others. Covert-aggressives use this tactic to make others feel inadequate or unworthy, and therefore, defer to them. It’s an effective way to foster a continued sense of personal inadequacy in the weaker party, thereby allowing an aggressor to maintain a position of dominance.

Covert-aggressives are expert at using shaming tactics in the most subtle ways. Sometimes it can just be in the glances they give or the tone of voice they use. Using rhetorical comments, subtle sarcasm and other techniques, they can invite you to feel ashamed of yourself for even daring to challenge them.

Playing the Victim Role – This tactic involves portraying oneself as an innocent victim of circumstances or someone else’s behavior in order to gain sympathy, evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. One thing that covert-aggressive personalities count on is the fact that less calloused and less hostile personalities usually can’t stand to see anyone suffering. Therefore, the tactic is simple. Convince your victim you’re suffering in some way, and they’ll try to relieve your distress.

Vilifying the Victim – This tactic is frequently used in conjunction with the tactic of playing the victim role. The aggressor uses this tactic to make it appear he is only responding (i.e. defending himself against) aggression on the part of the victim. It enables the aggressor to better put the victim on the defensive.

Playing the Servant Role – Covert-aggressives use this tactic to cloak their self-serving agendas in the guise of service to a more noble cause. It’s a common tactic but difficult to recognize. By pretending to be working hard on someone else’s behalf, covert-aggressives conceal their own ambition, desire for power, and quest for a position of dominance over others.. One hallmark characteristic of covert-aggressive personalities is loudly professing subservience while fighting for dominance.

Seduction – Covert-aggressive personalities are adept at charming, praising, flattering or overtly supporting others in order to get them to lower their defenses and surrender their trust and loyalty. Covert-aggressives are also particularly aware that people who are to some extent emotionally needy and dependent (and that includes most people who aren’t character-disordered) want approval, reassurance, and a sense of being valued and needed more than anything. Appearing to be attentive to these needs can be a manipulator’s ticket to incredible power over others.

Projecting the blame (blaming others) – Aggressive personalities are always looking for a way to shift the blame for their aggressive behavior. Covert-aggressives are not only skilled at finding scapegoats, they’re expert at doing so in subtle, hard to detect ways.

Minimization – This tactic is a unique kind of denial coupled with rationalization. When using this maneuver, the aggressor is attempting to assert that his abusive behavior isn’t really as harmful or irresponsible as someone else may be claiming. It’s the aggressor’s attempt to make a molehill out of a mountain.

I’ve presented the principal tactics that covert-aggressives use to manipulate and control others. They are not always easy to recognize. Although all aggressive personalities tend to use these tactics, covert-aggressives generally use them slickly, subtly and adeptly. Anyone dealing with a covertly aggressive person will need to heighten gut-level sensitivity to the use of these tactics if they’re to avoid being taken in by them.

Ben Shapiro – Conservative Hero?

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We have been watching a lot of Ben Shapiro vids lately. Ben is an American political commentator and an Orthodox Jew who at 17 became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in America. He studied political science and law and then became a lawyer and editor of a video commentary site, ‘The Ben Shapiro Show’. He was an editor at Breibart before that. So …highly intelligent and his debating skills are second to none. We don’t agree with everything Mr. Shapiro says, but his approach is non-hostile highly logic-centred and common-sense related and frankly, at the age of 33 I don’t think there are very many members of the political left in America who can hold a candle to him. We have seen quite a few of his debates and his youth is his only drawback. I can only assume he will one day be a senator. Which will be a shame. We need ‘ordinary people’ if you can call a genius with an eidetic memory ordinary, to speak up for conservative ideals in western politics without actually joining the fray.

Ben is a great spokesperson for convervatives in America. But as he puts it in this video, he is actually a political libertarian which means that he wants less government legislation not more. In Ben’s words, and we concur, ‘the government sucks at everything’ and should stay out of everyone’s personal lives. He says that he wants to live in a country where he doesn’t have to care what you do and you don’t have to care what he does. This is the ideal, but unfortunately, everything anyone does has consequences. You can’t just live and let live, although most of us try to. When other people get in your face and force you to comply with their personal perception of what their ‘rights’ are then you need to learn to not only defend yourself but get all your ducks lined up in a row. And this is where Ben Shapiro appears to have excelled. He has thought his arguments through, and is skilled at thinking on his feet. I could not think my way out of a wet paper bag when I am in a confrontation, which is why I prefer writing my thoughts down. However, Ben is actually a good role model for millenials in that if you learn to debate the way he does, you don’t have to use ad hominem, you don’t have to use logical fallacies and you don’t have to get nasty, crude or abusive, you can impress people simply with your ability to think in a straight line and know your facts. He has an unfair advantage with the University students who line up to debate him on college campuses because frequently they have not thought their positions through and some end up actually recognising that. If nothing else, Mr. Shapiro is doing students a favour by helping them smarten their critical thinking skills. I certainly was not good in my twenties at this kind of thing. Not many are. It would be a great thing if more university students were able to recognise groupthink and step beyond it to determine what they actually believe instead of simply being lazy and agreeing with whoever has the loudest voice.

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Ben talks about gay marriage and why he doesn’t care what people do as long as it doesn’t become a threat to his own way of life. He is not interested in stopping gay people marrying if that’s what they want, but where it becomes an issue of forcing a business to serve their interests and then suing them for tens of thousands of dollars when there was a baker across the street who would have served them it becomes nefarious. This is where there needs to be a much stronger offensive rather than a snivelling defensive which makes conservatives look either look like the stern headmaster or the pathetic victim. His suggestion is that conservatives don’t let down their guard and recognise that the doors are now open for further incursions into the personal lives of conservative religious people.

This I think is the essence of most conservative qualms about gay marriage. Generally, Australians are happy for gay people to live their lives as long as they don’t bother them. It’s not exactly heroically moral and virtuous, but they don’t start wars either. In essence I guess, a lot of Australians simply don’t want to have to think their way around political agendas, they don’t have the energy. They are too tired from a day’s work trying to pay their taxes and feed their families, and this is something that political lobbyists take advantage of. It is also where America is different to us. Their history and culture has been formed by political dissidents who have hoped to create a libertarian society free from both religious and political bigotry and authoritarianism. There are not enough Ben Shapiros in Australia, in fact I am not sure if there are any. I have zero respect or admiration for any political figures this country has ever produced. They may be great personalities and good for a laugh, but their job is not to entertain but to govern, and they appear to have little desire to actually do this. The political landscape in Australia has been marred by leftist controversy and bad management and right wing indifference and intolerance. Which party rules better? The one who doesn’t make a horses arse of themselves in a public place. Australians may have short memories, but they are not that short. A former labor supporter once publicly said ‘Australians only vote for Labor once in their lifetimes’. It kind of says it all.

My children have not had their own kids yet, they are not even married and probably won’t be for some time. But Steve and I are concerned about the next generation of children and the world they would be growing up in. It would be lovely if everyone had a strong moral worldview and had a developed integrity and sense of self-worth. But that is not going to happen if Christians teach their kids that they have to conform to the way the world is. First of all you have to decide which version of worldly you are talking about. Is it the social justice/environmentally friendly version or is it the ancient gnostic/medieval monastic mystical version or is it the Hillsong Happy Clappy version. I should just mention briefly that Hillsong’s takeover of the AOG church in Australia and in particular their takeover of Garden City Christian Church, which I attended for some years, was not only insidious and cultish it was wrong, wrong, wrong. The Houstons have no authority and no credibility and no thinking Christian should endorse their brand at all, ever. I hope I got that said.

Generally though, those churches which encourage other worldviews and preach a kind of all encompassing everything goes theology have absolutely nothing to offer the next generation. The parents don’t know what they believe, the kids are not going to know what they believe, and the pastors just keep embracing whatever comes at them down the pike because they don’t have a backbone and don’t want to ‘offend anyone’. It encourages a hypocritical religious show which begins on Sunday morning and ends on Sunday night and rears its head whenever they are questioned about their beliefs. The rest of their lives are spent living in worse spiritual squalor than any non-religious person on the planet. A fake Christian is a pimple on the backside of the universe and I could quote you a fair number of scripture verses which make it clear that God himself gives them short shrift.

So when it comes to knowing what you believe and being agreeable about definding it, the video I linked to is a good example. Dave Rubin is a liberal. Yet he is able to have a sensible and even friendly discussion with Ben whilst asking him what he believes and why. Ben’s machine-gun delivery style can be very difficult to listen to at times, especially if you have seen a lot of his stuff, and somebody suggested he may even be Aspergic, which is possible. He tends to interrupt a lot and Dave seems to be a fairly genial guy so doesn’t seem upset about that. If Ben took the intensity down a peg or two he might have been able to relax a little more, Dave certainly did.

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You don’t have to compromise your views and beliefs in order to be agreeable. You don’t have to sacrifice integrity in order to tell the other person they are wrong, and you don’t have to be an existential chameleon in order to be acceptable or garner support.

I think in the end this is what everyone, regardless of your political, religious or social beliefs are, wants and needs. The extreme left liberals need to understand this, but as one, they tend towards hostility and aggression when they don’t get consensus of opinion. This above anything else makes me wonder if they are in touch with reality at all. NOBODY expects everyone to agree with them. Nobody. So why are they so surprised, angry and abusive when people have opposing viewpoints. They are not right about everything. Neither is Ben Shapiro.

Recovery From Abuse – Not One Size Fits All

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This is a blog post from the Tales From The Crypt Blog which we edited between 2006 and 2012.  It focuses on our experiences post BCF and encourages others who have been traumatised by controlling Christian organisations and spiritual abuse.

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I would like to air some reflections which have been bouncing around the inside of my brain over the last few weeks. I particularly want to encourage other ex-BCF members to remember the place from whence they have come. More than anything else, we have to remember, and remind ourselves continually, that we have just come out of a cult, and cults are very particular, and peculiar places. They have messed with your head, and your life. That does NOT mean you are crazy, but it does mean that they have inflicted some damage, and that needs to be healed. How is that healed? That is between you and God.

I think its important to recognize the way cults work. Cults employ groupthink in the same way that our lungs employ oxygen. Cult leaders manipulate groupthink to increase fear, confusion, dependency, and loyalty. This is why BCF members for the most part will continue to defend their leaders and their group. They have been taught to believe that the rest of the world is the enemy. If you believe that your only place of safety is being attacked, you will fight to the death to ward off any blow which comes against you or your leaders.

If you are immersed in groupthink, you won’t be using your common sense or the logical side of your brain. Groupthink relies on emotions not objective facts therefore facts, logic, and the experiences of those which disagree with your perception are ditched. You don’t think for yourself, because you have been told year after year after year that reason is the enemy of faith, as Vic Hall himself has written.

Why is reason the enemy? Because if people are thinking for themselves, they are going to argue with you, and disagree with you and then if they disagree with you enough they will leave. If enough people leave, you won’t have a congregation, and your reputation will be so tarnished that you will have a great deal of trouble rescuing it.

Emerging from a cult takes involves a great deal of trauma regardless of how much abuse was actually perpetrated against you. The fact that you have been completely and wholly devoted to a group of people who you trusted without reservation and you thought believed in you and loved you unconditionally, and then you discover that these people have turned out to be deceiving you the whole time, and then turned on you at your darkest moment is probably one of life’s most soul-destroying event. I would go so far as to say that many ex-members of BCF are suffering Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome to some degree. Not all, and the one thing I want to do is avoid making black and white statements. The fact that you have removed yourself from those outside the cult almost guarantees that you will find it difficult to find support and help from others who should have, and in all other instances would have, been close to you.

You have become your own worst enemy. You now must not only heal from these lost years of deception, but you must rebuild your life from scratch. You must re-discover your faith, you must re-learn who God is, you must reclaim your mind, your abilities, your independence, your integrity, your self-respect, your individuality.

It is this last I would like to focus on. Anyone who has spent decades of their life immersed in groupthink needs to become independent like their lungs need oxygen (to re-use a metaphor). You HAVE to find yourself again, and you HAVE to do that with support. SUPPORT, I say, not ADVICE. There is a difference.

Ex-members of a cult need to be told over and over and over again….” you don’t need to be told how to live, you can trust yourself to make the best decision for yourself and your family. You are a grown adult and not a child, you are capable, competent and you will re-discover that in time.” That of course doesn’t mean you don’t need to ask for help and support, that too is the right of every independent adult.

Many ex-members have gone to see psychologists or other mental health professionals just to talk about their experiences and receive some proper professional support. Others have seen medical doctors, or spoken to Christian pastors who have likewise given them what they need. It is my earnest belief that God helps us in our need in ways we are not even conscious of at the time. There may be those who don’t even feel comfortable talking to professionals, and that too is fine.

I know many won’t step foot inside a church, and find doing so is as traumatic as going back to BCF would be. This is PERFECTLY NORMAL. I include a link to an excellent article here on emotional triggers. This article is discussing PTSD, but the phenomenon of triggers occurs in cult victims also, regardless of whether you have been diagnosed with PTSD or not. The information is still valid. It has certainly helped me. (no link)

I would also like to remind readers of this blog that we put up a link to Jeff Van Vonderen’s excellent video series on spiritual abuse some months ago. He also talks about triggers and the symptoms of those who have suffered from being abused by those they trusted implicitly. These videos have also helped a lot of people who have been through what we have been through.

I have to stress that each individual who has been through the BCF group of churches and out the other side needs more than anything to trust themselves again. Trusting your instincts, relying on them in fact, and believing that you know what is best for you, is the best thing.

What that means is that if you decide that you no longer want to go into a church again, that is your choice and doesn’t mean you are no longer a Christian. You can fellowship with other Christians in your own time, and in the manner of your choosing (just a cup of coffee is still ‘fellowship), and you must not feel guilty about that. No-one else has the right to dictate to you the manner of your own healing, and since the manner of healing from a cult should be entirely and intrinsically individual, the choice is yours.

I wish somebody had told me that when I left BCF. I spent an inordinate amount of time just feeling guilty that I wasn’t doing what others wanted me to do. There were other ex-BCF members who got together occasionally, and I just felt I couldn’t be with them for long periods. The triggers were too great, and the stress just left me feeling emotionally exhausted. That’s why the internet was so great for me. I was able to talk to others without leaving my house or absorbing other people’s emotional turmoil. Some people are naturally sensitive and empathetic to others, and these people are even more at risk of becoming stressed around other ex-cult refugees. I say again, each of us must look after ourselves in the way which is best for US, not someone else.

Over time, I found myself doing things like personality tests, and IQ tests and other types of things which are free on the net, mainly for my own amusement, but a part of me needed to rediscover who I was. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY could tell me who I was, I had to find that out for myself. It didn’t really matter what I did because the key here was that I was experimenting.

A therapist I spoke to a couple of years ago told me that my ability to be spontaneous, experimental, and to push against the boundaries had been squashed. I was simply unable to think outside the square. I had to practice, practice, practice. That meant doing all the things which I hadn’t given myself permission to do up til that point.

I must say that I also found myself getting physically exhausted very easily.  I found myself also suffering nightmares with alarming regularity, but as I told my 12 year old the other day, nightmares are just the brain’s way of dealing with what you have been thinking about during the day. If you have been traumatized, so has your mind. This is a healthy and normal way of coping with that stress.

I must say here that I am not a psychologist (although I am studying to be one), and that my advice is simply based on my own experiences. Anecdotal evidence (or personal experience) has always been a great help for those seeking for encouragement that they are not alone in their sufferings, or that they are not crazy.

Let me say again, you must find your own healing, your own way, and you will find it. Don’t allow somebody else to categorise you, make you feel guilty or ashamed. You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to. God isn’t going to take away your salvation if you swear, get angry, get furious, tell somebody exactly what you think without qualification, or refuse to do something. You have the right to be angry, you have the right to whichever emotional state you find yourself at any time. Emotions are not sin. You have to rediscover your own right to make your own decisions. That will take time, and that too is NORMAL.

My favourite quote here is ‘I am reacting normally to an abnormal situation’. It’s true. What we have been through is not normal in Christian circles, or even in secular circles. We have been treated with utter disrespect and abused without conscience. Coming to terms with this will also take time, and everyone is at a different level of healing.

I don’t know what else I can offer other than the words “It happened to me too”. You have done nothing wrong, but you have been with people who have taken advantage of you and the best defense to avoid being a victim is knowledge of how abusers work, and knowledge of yourself.

I heard another quote recently ironically enough from ‘The Art of War’.

“If you know yourself and you know your enemy, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”.

This is where the quote ‘know yourself’ comes from, and it is a very good piece of advice. If you know yourself, you can make your own decisions and not feel guilty if someone disagrees with you. You can act without shame if someone doesn’t think you should do what you want to do. You can begin to have confidence, and as my husband often says ‘back your own judgement’. We have learned to do this the hard way believe me, but the effects of this on our lives have been revolutionary. We trust our own gut instincts now, and we even hear God speaking to us on occasion. We know its him because when he says something, it comes true. We hear his voice now as a gentle guidance rather than a monkey on our back. God is no longer a tyrant, but a sensitive, careful voice of love and encouragement. THERE IS NOW NO CONDEMNATION.

We live for the day when you are all free of the condemnation that has plagued your consciences for so long.

 

Further help:

Complex Trauma: Understanding and Treatment Diane Langberg

Can Authentic Christians be Chronic Abusers?

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20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen. 21 And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.  (1 John 4)

To begin with, a man’s actions mark him out.  They characterise him, they qualify him and they prove his allegiances and his God.  In the case of a Christian, love is what proves us. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples” (John 13:35).

If we love God at all, it is because He loved us first. It follows then that if we have God’s love in us we would automatically love God’s people over and above even our own unsaved family.  Because our love FOR God is actually the love OF God himself. But how is love proven?  It is very simple. God sacrificed himself to bring us again to himself, His love lead inevitably to the willingness to die in order to restore His people. So it follows that a loving Christian parent nurtures their child.  A loving Christian sibling values, approves and respects their siblings.  A loving Christian pastor protects, supports (materially and spiritually) and teaches his flock.  A loving Christian marriage partner lays their lives down for the other.  True love is both felt and seen and it involves actively caring for and fellowshipping with the other.  Chronic abuse of other Christians proves not love but hate.

The conclusion I have come to is that even a true Christian can develop really bad habits, but they prove their genuine faith by responding to the love of God and repenting of their ways when they are confronted with their sin.  Anyone who says he has no sin and that the person who accuses them must be the sinner is not an authentic born-again Christian. They have not the love of God within them, because they prove by their refusal to humble themselves and their hard-heartedness that they are lost. They need prayer, they need to hear the genuine gospel and they need to be born from above.

When Christian people you trust and love prove themselves untrustworthy and capable of betrayal, a Christian’s worldview is shaken.  When that same Christian attempts to reason with the person who has betrayed them and finds that the betrayer does not want to either admit to or apologise for (or make fake apologies for) what they have done, the Christian becomes distressed and upset.  When their betrayer then turns around and expects them to forgive them and forget what happened and pretend it never happened, the pain of this becomes too much to bear.  Many questions swirl around a Christian’s head, not the least being ‘was the betrayer actually a Christian to begin with?’ .  It is a fair question.

I would first of all suggest that we demarcate the differences between ‘offenses’ which the scriptures help us to deal with (Matthew 18 is a good example) and ‘abuse’ which is more about character disorder and chronic offense  often not just with one person but with many.  In the case of a church elder or leader who has abused many in the congregation and has refused time and time again to either acknowledge or repent of their sins against others and at the same time expects their congregation to remain silent about what happened and never even mention it to others, then you have all the elements of a reprobate.  No Christian who loves God and God’s family will abuse in this way.

Some may have developed a carnal lifestyle because of lack of genuine teaching and a failure to mature and act out of ignorance.  But all genuine believers, because of the presence of the conviction of the Holy Spirit are able to a) recognise sin and b) repent of it out of the understanding that sin separates and confession and forgiveness reconciles. It might take some discussion with mature believers who can help the offender recognise that their actions and beliefs are irreconcilable with scripture, but it is possible to bring people like this to their senses.

It’s those who steadfastly maintain, over time, that they are faultless in the face of not one but many accusations of abuse that we must call out, accuse of their sins in public and hope that they will eventually come to a place of crying out to God.  It is a terrible thing but there are people who identify as Christians who will never cry out to God in repentance or even acknowledge to themselves that their actions are not just sinful but in many cases criminal.  I am not just talking about rapists, child molesters and serial adulterers.  There are many in churches today who repeatedly indulge sexual sins of all types.  There are many in churches today who think it is their right to control and manipulate other Christians. There are many who cover over their sins, persuade others to cover for them and ensnare weak minded and immature believers.  Chronic abusers are not just damaging themselves, they are damaging the body of Christ.

Jesus and Paul had a lot to say about the ‘weaker brother’.  Paul even went so far as to say he would rather become a vegetarian if eating meat caused a weaker brother to stumble. (1 Corinthians 8:13) This is a rather dramatic statement.  Yet how many Christian leaders today have this level of humility, this level of self-sacrifice to their church members?  Very few. But its not just church leaders who fail in this.  Church members, ordinary Christians who run businesses or act as ‘counsellors’ or teach Sunday School or influence other church members in some way can be guilty of reprobate behaviour.  In short they are hating their brothers and sisters by treating them as lesser beings or beings whose lives don’t even register.  Hurting fellow Christians can take on the characteristics of kicking a dog or stepping on an insect.  These people may believe that Jesus Christ is their Saviour, but how can these people claim to be loving others when they are acting like this?

This issue is not a delicate one.  It is not enough to simply excuse the pastor because ‘it has nothing to do with me’.  It is not enough to turn the other cheek when chronic abuse is happening.  Scripture tells us that every fact should be verified by the witness of the two or three. If anyone is to bring an accusation against an elder there should be again a witness to the fact.  In the case of Brisbane Christian Fellowship, the witnesses number two or three hundred at least, and I would suggest even two or three thousand by this date.  The same applies to individuals who are not leaders.  But what happens when that fact is established beyond reasonable doubt?  The answer is not just to hope that it all goes away and never speak of it again.  I propose that the answer is to keep speaking about it until the abuser repents and acknowledges that their actions have damaged lives.  If it means that the accusations have to go public, then it is necessary.

Two thousand years ago, you could ‘take it to the church’ as Jesus mentions in Matthew 18 if the accused will not repent.  In today’s culture, when it is the church who encourages and protects abusers, we take it to the wider Christian body.  Even in the face of malicious charges of ‘just being bitter’, or ‘not dealing with it privately’ it is necessary to speak up, and keep speaking up.  Why is this necessary?  To annoy the abuser?  NO, because of love.

How can ‘airing your dirty linen’ be a loving act?  Because the pain of betrayal means that the betrayed need the offense, the sin of abuse to be brought out into the open in order that the deeds done in darkness will be brought to the light.  Only then can the relationship hope to be mended, and only then can the abuser hope to be changed into Christlikeness.  Most chronic abusers don’t want to deal with this.  But it is their only hope. The reason they became chronic abusers in the first place is because their actions were not dealt with properly after the first time they offended in this way.  They need restoration, renewal and transformation, and only God can do that for them.

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  (1 John 1)

When the betrayer confesses, recognises the pain and destruction to the relationship and willingly concedes the need to repair the damage, there can once again be true fellowship.  Christians who see no need to either confess or repent of sins against relationship do not value relationship.  This is why it is neither helpful nor scriptural to insist that a woman who is being physically abused by her husband should ‘submit’.  A woman in this situation needs help, and there needs to be distance between her and her husband and she needs to protect her children if necessary.  The only way that marriage can mend is if the abuser changes, and that can be a wife or husband.  The only way that they can change is if it is made abundantly clear that other christians around them will not tolerate them in their midst if they keep abusing.

A loving Christian does not deliberately offend others, does not abuse when confronted with their sins, does not incite abuse by others against the one they offended.  Again, a chronic abuser who does all of these things does not have the right to be called an authentic Christian by the church.  We MUST have, not a standard of behaviour, but a recognition that actions are determined by choices and choices by faith.  Our love for God and His people will cause us to make every effort to bring the abuser to repentance even if it means turning them out of the church.  If every Christian takes a zero tolerance approach to abuse in their own lives, we will all be doing each other a great favour.  But love needs must be extended to those who abuse.  And loving the abuser means making extremely painful decisions and being willing to follow through on them.