Last Christian Standing

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As I write this the vestiges of ex-cyclone Debbie have passed over Brisbane. For the last couple of days it has been a howling gale. This morning a peaceful composition of golden sunlight and cool wind gusts.  Brisbane doesn’t get cyclones thank God, but we always get at least a week of rain every time a cyclone hits the mid-east coast of Queensland.  It’s not normal rain, its a deluge. In fact on the radar you can still see the old eye and the clouds circling around it, much slower than before but the pattern is still clear.  These last few days have made me think of Noah and how it would have been to be the only Christian family in a world gone mad.  Genesis 6:5 tells it like this:

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually

In the Mount Olivet discourse, Jesus told us that the last days, the days before His return, the situation would be very similar to the days of Noah.  People would be unaware of the coming of judgement.  They would be giving in marriage and feasting as though tomorrow would in fact come.  But their works would mark them out as evil.

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

This is what many are seeing now and are agreeing that we are in the end times before Jesus return. In fact, it is the reference to Noah’s day that makes me believe in a pre-tribulation catching away of the church into heaven for the marriage supper of the Lamb.  Who would be giving in marriage when the world is in intense trauma the like of which nobody had ever seen before?  You would certainly be looking for the return of Christ at such a time, or at least the appearance of a saviour, you would not be gaily planning the rest of your life.

Jesus is not the only one who spoke of end time falling away from the faith. Paul mentioned it to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3. In fact Paul’s words mirror those of Jesus.

 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

While Paul may have been referring to current events, and Christians since Pentecost would have been looking upward for Jesus return, the fact that 2000 years later we are seeing events take place which would not have been able to occur historically should give us pause.  There is a great deal written about end times prophecies on the internet, but I want to ask you this.  What would you do if everyone around you forsook Jesus and you were the last Christian left standing.    Remember Elijah?

And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.15 And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:

16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.17 And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

Elijah was another prophet who endured climate upheaval and communed with God.  He had come to a place of utter despair because of the severe testing and opposition he had from demonic principalities and powers.  He felt he was in the last days himself, but God assured him that there were indeed seven thousand others.  That is quite a number. I would be more than happy with seven thousand friends who believed the same way I did.  Even if that number was worldwide. It would be much more comforting if they were in my city of course. But I have been asking myself the same question.  What would I do if everyone else I knew had fallen away?  Would I still stand firm?  You can’t just gloss this one over.  The situation in churches worldwide is desperate.  False doctrines which used to be just here and there now seem to be converging on the church at a rate of knots;  New Age philosophies, Seeker Sensitive watering down of the Word. Sin and repentance and the Cross are now just fairytales, as many so called Christian pastors are preaching a gospel which excludes biblical truths and focuses instead on narratives which only look Christian but are in fact kool-aide laced with cyanide.

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Jesus said that if we followed Him we would endure persecution. The problem for many Christians these days is that not only are we receiving persecution from the world we are receiving it from others who profess Christ as their saviour.  Historically, this is not uncommon. Protestants have been slaughtered by Catholics, Protestants have slaughtered other Protestants.  I even read recently that in the early days of America, the Quakers were persecuted by the Puritans.  Mind you in Cromwellian England, the Puritans persecuted just about everybody.  It is truly disturbing what some people will do in the name of Jesus.

However, for us, it is not so much persecution as peaceful protest.  We walk into a Baptist church and find that they are not Baptist at all, they are preaching a neo-liberal, post-modern, eco-gospel and going on about living in ‘intentional community’ with the urban poor.  We try talking to the pastors about this but have distractions thrown up in our face. They are not interested in discussing false doctrine, they want you to keep your concerns to yourself, they are perfectly happy being double-minded. Last year they hosted a ‘Friends of Israel’ meeting at their church, this year they are adamantly pro-Palestinian. WHY?

I was watching a video of US ambassador to Israel Nikki Haley explaining that the Trump government were now supporting Israel, the only democratic country in the Middle East. She reported that an attempt to place a Palestinian representative in a high ranking position in the UN was met with unmitigated opposition and apparently nixed.  This is good news to many supporters of Israel.  It concerns us greatly that a church should suddenly shift its allegiances.  However, when you look at the fact that they have taken on a new pastor couple who have recently graduated from a bible college which is pro-liberal and supports such speakers as Shane Claiborne, the picture becomes much clearer.  Claiborne along with many liberals is pro-Palestinian.  Why?  Because people like Claiborne are being used by the powers that be to introduce a world religion which is slowly but surely taking over the visible church.  What is deeply troubling is that so many are simply following the pied piper into destruction.  Actually now that I think about it, the Pied Piper wore a coat of many colours.  This new ‘religion’ of the Liberal left is one which conflates all the world religions into one, disparages the Bible as no longer the inerrant Word of God, and claims Jesus is not the only way to God.  The pipers, or seducers of this new religion are playing a tune which many people can dance to.  Yet it is the same lie the serpent spoke to Eve. You don’t need God, you can be like God instead.

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An article on my newsfeed yesterday told me that in Indonesia recently a python was found which had swallowed the body of a man whole.  I won’t post the picture as it was pretty disturbing.  You can find it if you look for it.  But the thought of a python swallowing a human is profound. The python Spirit in scripture is the spirit of divination.  In Acts 16, Paul and Silas went to Philippi and met a girl possessed with the spirit.  She worked as a prophetess and told fortunes for money.

16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” 18 And this she did for many days.But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. 19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.

This is an extract from Wikipedia about the Python spirit of divination.

There are various versions of Python’s birth and death at the hands of Apollo. In the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, now thought to have been composed in 522 BCE when the archaic period in Greek history was giving way to the Classical period,[4] a small detail is provided regarding Apollo’s combat with the serpent, in some sections identified as the deadly Drakaina, or her parent.

The version related by Hyginus[5] holds that when Zeus lay with the goddess Leto, and she was to deliver Artemis and Apollo, Hera was jealous and sent Python to pursue Leto throughout the lands, so that she could not deliver wherever the sun shone. Thus when Apollo was grown he wanted to avenge his mother’s plight and pursued Python, making his way straight for Mount Parnassus where the serpent dwelled, and chased it to the oracle of Gaia at Delphi; there he dared to penetrate the sacred precinct and kill it with his arrows beside the rock cleft where the priestess sat on her tripod. Robert Graves, who habitually read into primitive myths a retelling of archaic political and social turmoil, saw in this the capturing by Hellenes of a pre-Hellenic shrine. “To placate local opinion at Delphi,” he wrote in The Greek Myths, “regular funeral games were instituted in honour of the dead hero Python, and her priestess was retained in office.”

The politics are conjectural, but the myth reports that Zeus ordered Apollo to purify himself for the sacrilege and instituted the Pythian Games, over which Apollo was to preside, as penance for his act.

Erwin Rohde wrote that the Python was an earth spirit, who was conquered by Apollo, and buried under the Omphalos, and that it is a case of one god setting up his temple on the grave of another.[6] The priestess of the oracle at Delphi became known as the Pythia, after the place-name Pytho, which Greeks explained as named after the rotting (πύθειν) of the slain serpent’s corpse in the strength of Hyperion (day) or Helios (the sun).[7

It is clear to me that the spirit behind the New Religion which is being forced upon the church is the Python Spirit. It is squeezing the life out of genuine believers.  Satan wants to destroy the true Christians of this age, and he will do this by bringing in the New Age as he has been doing for centuries, slowly and carefully.  This is a long game, and he is in no hurry, but currently, the changes are happening so fast it is our concern that believers are being overtaken without knowledge and without warning.

We need to consider what might happen if everyone we know turns against us to this new religion, and we are left the last Christian standing.  I don’t believe we will be truly alone, because just as God had his seven thousand in the days of Elijah, so he will have at present.

It is interesting that I heard a wonderful and stirring hymn the other day called ‘The Days of Elijah’.  Here are the lyrics.

Days Of Elijah

These are the days of Elijah
Declaring the word of the Lord, yeah
And these are the days of Your servant Moses
Righteousness being restored

These are the days of great trials
Of famine and darkness and sword
Still we are the voice in the desert crying
Prepare ye the way of the Lord!

Say, behold He comes, riding on the clouds
Shining like the sun at the trumpet’s call
Lift your voice, year of Jubilee
Out of Zion’s hill, salvation comes

And these are the days of Ezekiel
The dry bones becoming flesh
And these are the days of Your servant, David
Rebuilding a temple of praise

And these are the days of the harvest
The fields are all white in Your world
And we are the laborers that are in Your vineyard
Declaring the Word of the Lord

Say, behold He comes, riding on the clouds
Shining like the sun at the trumpet’s call
Lift your voice, year of Jubilee
Out of Zion’s hill, salvation comes

Behold He comes, riding on the clouds
Shining like the sun at the trumpet’s call
Lift your voice, year of Jubilee
Out of Zion’s hill, salvation comes

So while the world is being rapidly changed by agents of the enemy, we remain and we stand, having put on the armour of God.  We occupy until He comes.  We will ever look to the skies awaiting His return and looking for the blessed hope who is He who both sustains and keeps us in these last days. May all my brothers and sisters, the true believers who are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ link together in the Holy Spirit and pray for endurance.  We will need it.

God bless you all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last Post from Old Blog

I should clarify that this is the last post from the blog ‘Tales from the Crypt’…

You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.(A quote from A.A. Milne)

This will be my last post for this blog.

I have spent the best part of the last twelve months on the internet, using my energy, my left brain, my focus and my drive to say what I have needed to say. It has by no means been an easy task.

I started this blog in fear and trepidation, not knowing what would become of it or me. I needed to speak out, I needed to know others were hearing me, and I have accomplished that aim. I wanted to document my journey for others, because when I first came out of BCF, there was nothing on the internet, and that was distressing, because it made me think I was the only one suffering the way I was. Now, of course, we all know that none of us are alone.

The ABC has done a fine job giving our cause the publicity it has so badly needed for so long, and others are also becoming vocal so it seems that further comment from me is no longer necessary.

I appreciate all those who have read here, and stopped for long enough to find out what was going on. I appreciate those who have been regulars and stayed to encourage and support, it has been invaluable.

Abuse, at any level, is very difficult to fight. Abusers don’t look like Hannibal Lecter. They are personable, helpful, easy to trust, good at what they do. They often win medals and awards in their chosen profession and are commonly public figures, with impeccable reputations (thanks to their spin doctors). So if you are going to speak up about abuse from a ‘respectable’ member of society, you had better be sure to have some watertight evidence, and a very large group of supporters to help you over the rough patches. We all know that this is rarely the case for abuse victims. Mostly they are just solitary courageous persons who are ‘angry as hell and aren’t going to take it any more’. Hence the difficulty.

I saw an interview recently with Frank Abagnale Jnr, the famous confidence trickster and con-man who lived a lie for years in America. His was the main character from the movie ‘Catch me if You Can’, with Tom Hanks. He must have been some kind of a genius, he was able to pass himself off as a doctor, a lawyer, and an airline pilot and nobody EVER questioned him. Finally, after many years he was caught, and served a prison sentence. He then worked for the FBI helping them catch other fraudsters. How is it that he was able to fool everyone, including the professionals? He was obviously a very friendly, confident man who presented a likeable and trustworthy façade. He was just as obviously a psychopath. He had no conscience, no boundaries, and he did what he did because he could. His criminal career started in adolescence, as many psychopath’s careers do, conning even his parents.

Admittedly this happened in the sixties when people were generally much more trusting and the checks and balances which occur now in professional environments did not then exist. Even today though, there is ample evidence to suggest that most of us have no idea that psychopaths roam our planet in the form of nice everyday people. They look like us, they sound like us, the only difference is that they are players. They do what they do in order to take what they need from you, and if making themselves ‘fit in’ works, they will do that. Psychopaths and other types of abusers are predators.

Generally, abusers ensconce themselves in places nobody would suspect them to be. As a society, we tend to trust our teachers, doctors and pastors. We have to. We are handing ourselves and our families over to their care on a daily basis. But there is more than just a need for trust, many people trust willingly because it is in their nature.

From what I have observed, our tendency to trust easily can also come from environmental factors. You may have had a childhood where you were greatly loved by your family and friends and learned that the world is a good place with helpful kind people. Alternatively, you may have had a childhood of abuse, where your survival depended upon doing as you were told, avoiding trouble and never questioning authority. A childhood of this sort trains you up to become fair game for further abuse as an adult. Cults are full of adults who were taught as children that abuse is normal, that their opinions don’t count and that their own perceptions and feelings are wrong. They have learned to be helpless. They have learned that there really is no point in trying to change the status quo because you are always wrong and it doesn’t really matter anyway. This would have to be the saddest human condition possible, and it is so readily changed because it is based on a lie. When people discover the truth for themselves and finally get their heads around it, the revolution begins.

For every man, woman and child who despairs, I believe there is hope. I have been in that pit, wanting to die, too afraid to end my life because I had three small children and an unshakeable belief that my life was not my own. I also had an inexplicable something deep within my core which was stronger than death.. I still had hope in the midst of terror and anguish. How can that be? Others have asked me the same question and I can tell you the answer with confidence. God helped me. He does not abandon us EVER. Our feelings overwhelm us, our thoughts lie to us, but our feelings and thoughts change, they diminish and pass. We can reach beyond the walls of our own minds. The Holy Spirit, whose power is certainly never made any less, even by evil men, remains ever vigilant, and he will speak to us and enable us to move past our pain. I have experienced this, and so have many others.

I have read as much as I can on psychological disorders, abuse, family dynamics, church history, church government, and biblical interpretation. I still believe fervently that knowledge is power, and when you have been stripped of all outside information for most of your life, knowledge becomes very powerful indeed.

I know now exactly what happened to me and why. I know that wholeness and co-dependency cannot co-exist. I use the term co-dependency to mean a type of existence where you are literally enmeshed with somebody else or a group of somebodies to the point that you cannot live an independent life. Every decision you make must be checked with them first, every thought you have revolves around them, you worry constantly that you are going to upset them, so your actions are weighed always with the other person’s comfort in mind. In extreme cases, as in the situation of a cult, your thoughts are their thoughts, your ways are their ways, and your life belongs to them. This goes beyond trust, and enters the realm of brainwashing. Independent thought and action become sin. Not only that, but the leaders of the cult, the other half of the co-dependence equation, delight in the subservience of their congregation members and will go to great lengths to keep the status quo. It is in their best interests to have you co-dependent, not yours.

This goes against everything I believe to be true of Christ and our relationship with him. God gave us independent thought, and he also gave us the ability to choose. Not only that but he delights in us, and in our lives, watching as we use our intelligence and our experience to make both wise and foolish choices. It is his pleasure to allow us to come to our heavenly Father, ask for his help and receive his forgiveness when we fail. This is a relationship which is not only enhanced by our ability to freely choose, but it absolutely depends upon it.

I still have a huge amount to learn, and I will continue healing. I will always walk with a limp I think, but that’s fine. I can at least accept that now with peace instead of rage. The rage was important, but I am glad it is finally passing. I need to live in peace.

Ah yes peace.

Romans 12:18 says “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live in peace with all people”  I had an interesting thought about that verse today as I was thinking how to write this post. I suddenly realized….when Paul said, be at peace with all men, he wasn’t saying ‘be nice to all men’. He was saying do whatever you can do, if possible, to live in peace with yourself and others. That little ‘if possible’ phrase in there is a life-saver. It stops all those religious busy-bodies who want to make you feel ashamed because you are angry about something someone else did. It also stops us feeling guilty when we don’t get on with everybody at church, everybody in the family, or everybody at work. It means that there will be times when it isn’t possible to be at peace, and hopefully, says Paul, it won’t be your fault. Repent where you are wrong, but if you can’t have peace with all men, God won’t hold it against you.

If you encounter contentious abusive people and you know you will never have a moment’s peace with them, get away from them. Avoiding entanglement with destructive people has to be the most peaceable thing you can do. Self-protection and the protection of your children, is a God-given right, and a natural instinct. I am not a member of the gun lobby by the way. I am talking about non-violent protection.

Being at peace with others is pro-active. A lot of what passes for ‘nice Christian behaviour’ is in essence simply passive-aggression. If you ask someone to do something, and they have no intention of doing it, but they say yes, and then avoid you for weeks, that is passive-aggression. Christians are good at this because we think it makes us look like peace-keepers, when in fact we are just being cowardly. We don’t want to say no, because we are afraid others won’t like us. We don’t like confronting others, so we avoid them.

I have to say that I learned the hard way that recognizing your boundaries, saying no to abuse, talking to someone when they have offended you, making a clear statement of what you will and won’t do and sticking to it, and refusing to play mind-games with people who haven’t learned all of the above makes for a not so peaceable life. We think that keeping the peace and speaking ‘little white lies’ are synonymous. The only thing lying of any colour is synonymous with is high blood pressure. How in God’s name have we reached such an impasse?

I get myself into trouble regularly because I won’t accept the following excuses for bad behaviour……(note: any number of these excuses can be used together, or all at once)

  1. a) They aren’t like that all the time
  2. b) They are only like that with you
  3. c) They didn’t really mean it
  4. d) You don’t really understand them
  5. e) You are just being difficult
  6. f) You must have a problem with them (do you think?)
  7. g) That’s just the way they are

or   (my personal favourite)

  1. h) They are just very passionate about their work

Just once, I would like somebody to say “You know, that WAS pretty bad, I think you deserve an apology, and as the person responsible for this organization, I will see to it that you get one”.

If you want to contact me, you can still use the email address on the right of this blog.

The forum will still be running for as long as people want to talk, and that may be for some time to come.

Thankyou all again for reading. We trust that all who are imprisoned by men who claim to act on behalf of Christ, will soon have the freedom that only Christ can bring.

Isaiah 61 (King James)

1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

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A TimeTo Speak and A Time To Be Silent

Original Artwork Copyright 2017
This is an old blog post from around 2008.  The original blog ‘Tales From The Crypt’ is now deleted, but the blog was my attempt to make sense of what happened to us when we left the cult.  I kept that blog going for 6 years, and it helped some people, and gained some traction when the ABC documentary exposed the cult. I should probably apologise for some of the language ahead of time. I left it in because it reminds me of who I was back then.

OLD BLOG POST

You know, there comes a time when you feel the need to speak up about your experiences. Then there is a time when you recognise that you probably need to just shut up about it. That usually comes when you realize that there are a lot of people out there who actually don’t give a crap. The ones who do give a crap are going to support you anyway whether you have been through a traumatic experience or not. The ones who actively work against you aren’t worth talking to. It’s difficult to determine who is the right and best person to hear your story. It’s a slow journey.

I have made a lot of mistakes telling my story to the wrong people and for the wrong reasons.

We told one of the Pastors at an extremely large church (founded by ex-MCF members)  here in Melbourne about our plight, hoping that we could find a fellowship that would be supportive and nurturing. Now, that was not a sin, and it wasn’t a mistake. We did a very normal thing for a Christian to do. We went to a pastor who by his own confession and trade is a professional carer. We contacted him, he made it clear that he was willing to talk further, and then invited us over to his house for a meal. We just assumed that we had found somebody caring enough to want to help us.

Here, I would like to make a point of saying that in my experience as a christian, I have not met that many pastors who know what they are doing. Too many young men go into the ministry with bright ideas, but no real understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, or level of compassion. Like any of the caring professions, I imagine people get worn down and forget to care for themselves. They get emotionally tired, stressed, dare I say cynical. They get sloppy, bad at what they are doing, and when they should have cut their losses, or looked for some help, they continue on in body while the spirit has left the building.

To the credit of this man and his wife, he listened for nearly four hours to a very intense story. It would have been exhausting.. At some point in our conversation, he must have figured he was either in over his head, or that he just didn’t have what it took to help us. He explained he was on his way to Canberra to some sort of political conference and couldn’t help us right now.. The impression we got was that his agenda was politics, and not pastoring. Now that is another subject entirely, but suffice to say he should not have met with us at all if his attention was focused on his own career, and not his job description. We weren’t part of his portfolio, so he passed us on to ‘somebody who can help you better than I can’. It was just a shame we spent so much time and emotional energy talking to someone who couldn’t help us.. We sent him a few emails after that trying to clarify a few issues, but his attitude was clearly that of somebody who had already decided he didn’t want anything else to do with us. Ok then.

So, he passed the buck. That meant we would have to go over the whole thing again with another complete stranger. Unfortunately, the complete stranger that we spoke to had previously spent 30 years in MCF and was still struggling with the fact that his daughter hadn’t left with him. He was clearly devastated and used the opportunity to spill out his agony to my husband when he phoned him. Still more unfortunately, my husband let drop that we were not attending a church. He told us we would lose our children if we didn’t immediately go back to a fellowship. At that point, we had just had enough. More accusations of irresponsible parenting, or ‘backsliding’ as a Christian (whatever the hell that actually means) we did not need. Besides, this gentleman was hardly in a position to be helping others since he had clearly not come to terms with his own grief on this issue. He was very intense and confrontational. So, lesson learned…you would think. You would be wrong.

Some time later, I made the mistake of telling my story to the administrator of a course that I had taken at my local TAFE college. I was not happy with the actions of a teacher who had some serious issues with misogynistic and inappropriate behaviour. I made some complaints to the administration, (who had confided in me that I wasn’t the first person to complain about this man) wasn’t getting anywhere, and felt that if I explained my background to these people, they would understand why I was felt so distressed by the behaviour of this teacher. I was wrong. I was essentially giving them a reason to not follow through with my complaints. Instead of allowing the issue to hang on its own merits, I sought to give it some extra oomph by explaining my personal interests in attending a college which took some effort to make sure its teachers were not abusing their positions. What happened instead was that my ‘history’ now mitigated my complaints, and actually lessened the potency of my case against this teacher. I became the ‘cult survivor’ with all of the insinuations that carries about my alleged emotional and mental stability, rather than just being a concerned female student. Although they went through the motions of passing the buck from one department through to the next, no real action was taken and I got tired of being ‘wrangled’. In the end, I felt I had exposed myself and my personal history in a way which did not honour myself, or even my own family for that matter, and the information was not treated with respect.

They were not ‘bad’ people as such, but I wasn’t using discretion, I was getting desperate enough to think that if I ‘confessed’ they would support me and deal with the teacher who was behaving inappropriately towards me. The fact is, this is exactly how I functioned at BCF. Confessing your struggles, your most intimate secrets, your bad experiences, your failures is a way of lifting the burden of guilt that you carry with you daily. Apart from that, you are expected to go to the ‘fathers’ in order to be matured as a christian. The more you lay yourself open to them, the greater your spirituality is supposed to be. It doesn’t work that way in practice however, everything you say is taken down as evidence and used against you at the soonest opportunity.

Only other cult survivors can truly understand what you have been through when you exit a cult. The trouble with that is, often cult survivors want to get as far away from the cult as they can, and that means they don’t want to socialize with other cult survivors that much. All you end up doing is rehashing the experience, and it can be ten times as stressful as talking to someone who doesn’t share your background. You are not only living your pain, you are living other’s pain as well. Despite that, you still need to construct a support group to replace the one which was so cruelly ripped away from you, so the process of recognizing and relating to emotionally healthy people is a very complex one. There is no such thing as pre-packaged premium grade materials with which to build a truly supportive and loving ‘family’ to replace the one which you either didn’t receive when you were born, or the one which you thought would do you in its stead, your local christian cult. So you are not only having to use some wisdom in knowing who to talk to, but you need to be able to bounce back from the inevitable disappointments and frustration of coming across people who are either completely incompatible with you (despite their initial apparent concern), or are actually out to use their position to take advantage of your vulnerability. Yes, life is a bitch. Or to put it more eloquently, small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life and few find it. But then, this is all part of the change of attitude I needed to espouse on coming out of the cult. Cults make everything black and white, right and wrong. Life just isn’t like that, and if you have a penchant for easy answers, real life has a way of knocking you back down every time you think you have got it all pegged. But then, I think everyone faces that frustration, not just cult survivors, its just much harder for us because our brains are hardwired to ignore the inevitable anomalies to our world view. When you exit, you have to find another world view. Therein lies the problem.

 

I was looking for emotional and personal support. I didn’t find it at college, I didn’t find it at the church we went to, I didn’t find it in my family (who are dysfunctional anyway) and I didn’t find it from the counselors I spoke to. Counsellors and psychologists who claim to be ‘good with cult survivors’ generally aren’t. Unless you have experienced it first hand, don’t even think that you know what you are talking about. It’s like a virgin looking up a sex manual and going, ‘yup, know what that’s all about’, and then teaching a sex education class. Not only will you be giving out faulty information, but those with experience are going to pick your lack of it very quickly and any credibility you may have had with the inexperienced is going to fly out the window. You will in short get your bottom kicked very quickly and you will deserve it. Unfortuntaely, nobody kicks the bottoms of most psychologists or counselors, they tend to just not go back to them if they aren’t good at what they do. I think the professionals tend to pass this off with the euphemistic phrase ‘not everyone is compatible’. They fail to see that sometimes they are just not good at what they do. So what’s the answer? When I was looking up scriptures while writing this post, I came upon that old group of couplets from Ecclesiastes 3:

1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

 

What I think is interesting is the line in verse 8, ‘a time to love and a time to hate’. There is a time to hate. A time to hate what is evil. There is a time to tear down, and then there is a time to build. For us, these last four years have been a time to tear down. We have had to tear down the wrong, the evil, the bad, the destructive, the lies, the deceit, the toxic relationships, the friends who weren’t, and the family who had no capacity to love. We have had to deconstruct the world according to Meg and Burnie and replace that with the truth. Truth has to be sought. It doesn’t stare you in the face. If it did, Paul would never have had to be knocked off his horse. We have had our time of weeping, in fact, I wouldn’t like to say we are done yet, I think we have some weeping still to do. We have had our time of mourning, and our time of throwing away, our time for war. Now we are looking at a time to rebuild. Our time for healing from the destruction is now, and that means that we gather the wisdom we have gleaned from our mistakes, the mistakes we have made since leaving BCF, and we recognize that not everyone is our friend. Not everyone even makes a good friend. Not everyone who appears benign is so, not everyone who says ‘tell me your sorrows’ is genuinely good at listening. Not everyone with a title has the attributes of that title, not everyone with a profession is naturally gifted in that profession. I guess this is not exactly a revelation for most people, but it is what we have learned over the recent past.

I am overlooking the good in all of this however. There are people in this world who are compassionate, good at listening, selfless, patient and gentle. They are not as common as they need to be. Finding them takes time and effort, and for every time you think you have struck gold, be prepared to realize that fools gold is always more abundant than the genuine article and you are going to be disappointed now and then. Having said all that, God himself fills in the gaps that people leave. For as many times as you strike out, the comfort of God can give you encouragement which makes up for the frustration. He also gives you the ability to keep going long after you have grown tired of other people. Once you are stronger, you are able to accept other’s inadequacies, and you learn to lean on Jesus more often.

I was going to title this post ‘note to self’, but it applies to everyone I think. There is a time when you realize that the need to tell your story is completely valid, but your story is so important that you make a lot of mistakes trying to find the right avenue for it. You need to talk, that much is absolutely vital. I still need to talk. I need to get past those tapes in my head which still say ‘who the hell do you think you are’ every time I voice an opinion. After the initial gush of talking, when you find your voice, you discover the elegant, subtle and much overlooked virtue of discretion, and recognize that you have the unrestricted power to choose what you will say to whom, and how and when you will speak. It is an unadulterated pleasure to me to think well before I speak, and to make my decisions with the maximum of forethought rather than being hasty and deciding because I feel pressured by someone else. I am even learning the art of the well-timed retort to presumptuous questions; learning I say, not good at.

Telling your story is important, and when the urgency has faded to a low roar, you are more in a position to choose your words wisely. This is a skill learned slowly and carefully, and not one I would insist on for those who have recently come out of abuse. Your need to talk is too great and I wouldn’t want to smother anyone. To each, the wisest course is best discovered in their own way and time.

How Can I Know I am Deceived?

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It is something of a paradox.

You can only see deception before you get into it.  Once you are there, deception makes it almost impossible to know whether you are deceived. In fact, one of the hallmarks of being deceived is the conviction that you couldn’t possibly be deceived.  It is always possible. Moreover, false teachers are mentioned in the New Testament by everyone including Jesus.

You need discernment, and discernment comes from the Holy Spirit. Even though some more mature Christians could tell from the outset that somebody is preaching or practicing error just from their own experience. Sometimes it is hard even for them to tell the difference between false and true.  That is why you need God himself to give you the ability to tell the difference. If you fall into the sin of pride and believe that it is not possible for you to be deceived because of all your experience, you are then in the greatest danger of deception because you are deceived already. Nobody is immune.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon has famously said “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right”.

And as anyone who has had to try and tell a fake from the original would know, most counterfeiters will go to great lengths to make their version appear true to form. They always manage to make some tiny mistake which tells you that this is not the genuine article however insignificant it may seem at first. Of course some scam artists are not that concerned with making perfect forgeries.  They are aware that the general public aren’t looking too closely at that designer handbag or expensive perfume.  They make it look almost correct and that is usually good enough. Fortunately, or not, false teachers are not that good at faking it any more either.  They don’t need to be.  Most Christians don’t bother to check the labels on their new pastor or their exciting guest speaker, they just go with the flow.

In order not to be deceived, you have to be on the lookout for deception. Jesus told us that in the last days, there would be many false teachers and He even said that there would be many false Christs.

3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. (Matthew 24)

Now there are those who claim to be Jesus, but most genuine believes would of course recognise these men as insane straight away. The ones to look out for would come in His name, and we know for sure that many false teachers claim to be believers. Yet the Christ they claim to be or rather teach is a false Christ, for of course there is only one second advent and that hasn’t happened yet.

We have been deceived before. We belonged to a small church in Brisbane whose elders listened to false teaching without their theological thinking caps on. The message was about unity. So they were deceived even further when a religious cult which also preached unity wanted our church to join them. However, this cult’s version of ‘unity’ was – they were the true church in our city, everyone else had to come and join them, moreover, everyone had to come under the leadership of their ‘apostles’. Well, you know you are in a cult when you are flattered, cajoled and deceived into joining a group, but as soon as you do the knives come out. Everyone who has left this cult has done so under duress. Anyone who leaves it according to them is now going to hell, because they are leaving the true church.

While you are being deceived, it doesn’t seem like deception. When you are in the midst of the deception you can’t know that you are deceived because you would swear black and blue that you are not. Have you ever had a conversation with a cult member?  Maybe a Jehovah’s Witness is at your door and you mistakenly think all you need to do is show them the truth from scripture and they will see the light?  It isn’t easy to talk to them, they are literally brainwashed.  Their minds run a particular course, they are taught how to respond to the people they ‘witness’ to. It is like talking to computer software.  They only know one type of response, the one they are programmed with. Cults are an extreme example, but in fact the problem is the same regardless of whether people are in a cult or not.  Deception creates people who repeat what they are told.

In fact, one of the best ways you can tell if somebody, or a group of somebody’s are deceived is if they keep quoting their favourite teacher, take any and every opportunity to spruik that teacher’s words, and in fact keep using the same language that their teacher uses.  One group I can think of off hand that we had to deal with kept using the term ‘Father’ instead of our Father when referring to God. “Father says this, or Father wants me to do that”.  This may not seem to be that much of a sign people are deceived, but it is the way they say it, the number of times they say it and the fact that everyone is using the same terms without picking up that they are simply repeating somebody else.  In short, there is no sign of independence of thought, simply a reiteration of the teacher or teachers.

 It is only people who can question what they believe and weigh the evidence who know they are not deceived. A deceived person, in my experience, neither knows nor is able to question the deception. When we were presented with the foregone conclusion that our church was going to join this other larger cult church, half of our congregation refused to join and left. The rest of us, who were mostly in our twenties with not much experience of churches in general other than the one we belonged to, trusted our pastors and let them lead us into a destructive and deceiving cult. We realise now of course if we had not been so lazy about our walk with Jesus, nor so trusting of men, we would have stopped and checked things out. But let me just say this. If you follow men, you won’t bother checking them when they fall into error. You will believe that these teachers love you and wouldn’t willingly lead you into false teaching. But if they themselves are deceived, and they then lead you into deception, it will be the blind leading the blind and we did fall into a very deep ditch.

The antidote to this is not to follow men, but to be in Christ. That way, when error comes, and it will, the Holy Spirit will be able to speak to your spirit and warn you that something is not right. You don’t even need to be a theologian, just awake to the voice of your Lord and God, the true Jesus.

Now, this is a tricky business. Paul called false teachers twice accursed, and he asked the Galatians ‘who has bewitched you’. (Galatians 1) Deception is like being under a spell.

Look at Eve in Genesis 3. It was only after God spoke to her and asked her what had happened that the spell was broken and she was able to say “I was deceived”. Nobody who is actually within the spell of the deception is able to see that. Eve sinned and partook of the punishment that was meted out to both Adam and herself, but she was able to recognise the source of the lie. Adam however is not recorded as ever having recognised Satan as the deceiver. He actually blamed God for giving him the woman who gave him the fruit. In fact, he, the keeper of the garden, allowed Satan to get in in the first place, stood idly by while his wife was being manipulated and then took the fruit which he was told not to take. And for centuries Eve and subsequently all women, have been made the source of all temptation and evil by both unbelievers and believers. Manifestly, Satan is the source of all evil, and deception. Yet Eve was called ‘the mother of all living’. It was also Eve who was the first to announce that God was her ‘Lord’ when she gave birth to Cain. I think those who have woken up from deception, repented of it and dealt with the sin of pride which precedes deceptions are probably in the best position to recognise error in the future.

I say pride is the source of deception because Satan himself, who was the greatest of all living creatures God had made at that point, decided it wasn’t enough just to lead the worship of God, he wanted to be like God and sit in the place of God. This of course is not just pride, it is insanity or psychopathy at the very least. It seems impossible to us as earthbound humans from whose eyes God is hidden that Satan who stood before the throne of God would actually think that he could be God himself. I don’t know what went on in his brain, but I do know that ever after this, he has tempted human beings to do what he did. He deceived Eve into believing that God had not given her everything she could ever need. Eve was perfect! She had a perfect relationship with God! As Satan used to. Yet he convinced her that the fruit of this tree would ‘make you wise’ knowing good and evil. Eve forgot that she was already perfectly wise, she knew God what else was there to know? Satan’s knowledge is corrupt, gives death not life, and is in fact not knowledge at all, it is a corruption of the truth, and is in fact all lies. There is no knowledge that Satan has which is not a counterfeit of God’s eternal truth. It may seem novel and exciting when men sell everything they have to attain it, but for centuries all Satan has done is lure men to their deaths, simply because that is his nature. He is profane, wicked, evil and sadistic and hates all life.

If we succumb to lies, to deception which lies are, then we will taste something of Satan’s kingdom. Make no mistake, deception, theological error, false teachers, are cursed simply because they are undermining the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are presenting a false Christ, and therefore they are leading others from the true Jesus of Scripture.

How do you know if you are deceived? If you can’t question what you believe, check it out against the Bible, do some research and look at your leaders and teachers and see if these men have been accused of heresy by other Christians, then you are probably under deception. If you have already checked out what is being taught to you against scripture and know for sure that you can defend what you believe sincerely and without hostility there is a good chance you are not deceived.

But even I can’t tell you that you are not deceived. Only the Holy Spirit can show you. Our hearts are deceitfully wicked and can lead us into error even in our own minds. We can believe we are without sin, but only God can show us that to be true, because only God is perfect. This is why it is so important for us to continually pray, commune with God, read His word and even listen to others when they tell you might be wrong. There is nothing wrong with having a conviction of truth, in fact we are told not to be double-minded. There are many Christians who at one time or another have listened to or believed falsehoods. It is the Christian who follows the teaching and practice of liars and frauds and then defends that teaching without checking to see if it is true who are deceived to the point of deadly error. If these ones don’t change their ways, they will be counted as wicked as the teachers they agree with.

It is a serious thing to fall into error, but it is not the end of your spiritual life. We know in our own lives that the Holy Spirit continually spoke quietly to us that all was not well. Our cult leaders were destroying peoples marriages, controlling people’s lives and telling everyone if they didn’t obey them they were not saved. It isn’t rocket science. Anyone could have told us that we were in a bad place. But we didn’t see it. Scripture tells us that you are a slave to the one whom you obey. Once you are a slave, you have to wait for Jesus to free you from the prison you have locked yourself into. I still remember praying that prayer, very simple, but from the heart one day in my bedroom. “God deliver us”. I knew straight away that God had heard that prayer. I knew something was wrong and woke up much faster than Steve did. Within two years, God had engineered our circumstances so that they were so bad, so difficult that Steve was forced to admit that we were surrounded by enemies, and that we needed to escape. It took 15 years all up. And then a couple of years after that of dabbling in emerging church error and other bad theology before the Holy Spirit taught us to stand on our own two feet and do our own bible studies and research and find out what is the difference between right and almost right.

God can save anyone, and the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Do not give up on anyone in a cult. But don’t be deceived yourself. False teachers, especially false teachers who have been plying their trades for decades and destroyed many other Christians will have to pay for their sins. If they don’t repent, they will go to hell. For these ones are not saved. It is doubtful they were even saved to begin with. There are many who profess to be Christians, who even know exactly how to preach the truth, or what sounds exactly like the truth, yet who are not in the body of Christ. Pray for discernment, use wisdom and do your research.

May God keep us all from deception and false teachers.

What A Successful Christian Looks Like

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Nobody Special

13 This wisdom I have also seen under the sun, and it seemed great to me: 14 There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares[b] around it. 15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man. (Ecclesiastes 11)

1. You are Not the Popular Guy

Most genuine ‘love-the-Lord-with-your-whole-heart’ Christians don’t have large crowds of people who love them unconditionally, constantly contact them and hang off of their every word.  We have been conditioned in contemporary western culture to believe that unless you have a large church or at the very least a ‘ministry’, then you aren’t really making it as a believer. Jesus himself was not the popular guy.  He had a following of 12 men plus a few others and all of them suddenly disappeared as soon as the situation hotted-up.

Now he did have thousands of people who regularly turned to listen to Him preach and hoped for a miracle or exciting healing, but few actually hung around because they believed in Him. Often Jesus’ words to those ones were ‘he who has an ear to hear’.  So Jesus knew who they were…most weren’t hearing.  And of the men he chose to be his first disciples,  Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him, Philip doubted him, most of them didn’t know who He really was, and when it came right down to it, most of these guys  didn’t really understand Jesus’ ministry.  It wasn’t until Jesus died, resurrected and ascended and the Holy Spirit came to them at Pentecost that the church really got going.  THEN they were imbued with power from on high and were able to preach the truth.  In today’s terms, even Jesus’ disciples would not have made it onto the ‘popular preacher circuit’.

2. You have a history of getting it wrong

There is a difference between being a false teacher with a history of getting it wrong, and a regular Christian who is seeking the truth and in the process actually ends up following a  false teacher.  Your heart is in the right place, but you keep coming across charlatans who make you think that they are ‘great men of God’ but are in fact, well, charlatans.  There are far too many of them out there. Deception is a spirit and many have been bewitched by doctrines of demons.  It takes discernment to get it right, and most of us don’t develop that until a little later in life; unless you have a gift of discernment. The real key to our Christian walk is if we are learning something in the process. If there is a marked upward swing in maturity levels because you have learned from your many mistakes you can rest easy.  I should add, it doesn’t matter how late in life that maturity comes, as long as it is there somewhere.

3. You have not got that many friends

Similar to number one but more about our personal lives than our public ones.  Just look at Facebook.  When people actually call faces on a web-page ‘friends’ in order to look successful, you know society is in peril.  A genuine man of God seems to have very few people he knows with a like mind.  True believers look for kindred spirits, those whose love for Jesus marks them out as being a little bit too zealous or intense to ‘just hang out’. He often has false friends, friends who walk away because he is starting to talk about strange stuff like the end times, prophecy and the rapture, phhht, WHO talks about that anymore? There are few like-minded people today who love the Lord their God with their whole heart, mind, soul and strength, and are willing to go against popular trends in the church let alone in society because they study their bible and know what God actually says on the subject. There is nothing more exciting than talking about what Jesus is doing in our lives or in the world.  Why do so few Christians actually want to?

4. People close to you tend to reject or betray you

When you are walking closely with the Lord, your friends tend to fall away.  The closer you walk, the more you lose people.  If you became a Christian at a young age, say in high school, you will find that there will be few who will agree with you or your beliefs, even other Christians. But as you age you realise that the majority of Christians are pew warmers,  non-thinkers who like to go to Church because it is the thing to do.  Young Christians often go to church to find a partner.  Then they stay in that church to get married, have children and settle into middle age. Then their kids do exactly the same thing. Christianity to many is simply a lifestyle choice not a commitment to a person, Jesus Christ.

If you hold your relationship with Jesus closely to your heart and are completely reliant upon Him, determined to obey Him and follow Him in every part of your life, then others who don’t have that same attitude will of necessity become less important. You get asked to a family barbecue, but you are more concerned about sharing the gospel with a neighbour.  So your family start to see you as ‘not there for them’ and the insistence that you make a choice will start to become more vocal.  So you make a choice.  Not because you want to but because you are forced to.  They won’t of course accept that choice, because you are not putting them first.  Even Jesus chose His Heavenly Father’s voice over his parent’s or family’s.  Jesus is described as a ‘man of sorrows’ despised and rejected by men.  He knew what it was to lose friends, and if we follow Him, we will too.

5. Few people agree with your views

It is exceedingly strange to me how many Christians follow after false teachers.  It seems that the more people love a particular teacher the less likely he is to be biblical.  Therefore, even in your own church, you can find that you will be on your own if you ask questions, challenge the accepted beliefs of the denomination or the currently popular author or speaker.  Emerging church and new age seeker-sensitive teachers are some of the most deceptive teachers in Christianity.  They are in fact preparing Christians for the coming New World Order in which the Antichrist will rule and reign supreme.  He will have a world religion and a false prophet and these Christians will be primed to join that world religion. Already, same-sex marriage,  accepting homosexuality as natural and God-ordained,  embracing other religions as legitimate paths to God and other errors are accepted freely in many pulpits.  If you don’t embrace these things you are seen as a ‘fundamentalist’ and are accused of hate crimes.  These accusations are not just coming from the world but the church.  We are facing a time when true believers are actually going to be in the minority. I think its important to expect this and prepare ourselves if we truly wish to stay the course.

6. People think you are weird

Have you found people avoiding you?  Do people say they want to spend time with you but somehow never actually end up doing it?  Do people even tend to hate you on sight?  I know this sounds extreme but we have found this happens to many genuine believers.  We believe that the spirit of Antichrist is stepping up his attempts to undermine the church and all true believers.  If you have decided to love the Lord with your whole life and not leave any stone unturned in your relationship with Him, odd things may start to happen.  You  might find yourself face to face with opposition you never thought possible.  It may just be something minor like slowly losing contact with certain ones. Or it may be really obvious like total strangers suddenly acting strangely around you.  I could write a book on this one.  We are truly convinced that genuine believers in the last days will be confronting principalities and powers in ways other so-called Christians won’t.  Genuine believers are the real threat to Satan, not the popular pastors or authors or speakers or the ones with books on the New York Times Bestsellers List week after week.  It won’t be the famous names in the end times who will be making the difference in the Kingdom of God, but the no-names no big deal types, the man in the street, the Christian next door.

7. Nothing terribly spectacular ever happens to you

Now I know I just said that weird stuff can be happening to genuine believers, but we are not having healing meetings, or tent revivals or even back yard revivals.  We are using up just about all our energy getting up in the morning, praying our way through the day and sitting around the table praying at night.  It is the authentic plodders, the person that most people would ignore on the bus who are living powerful lives.  You might not think you are doing anything fantastic or earth-shattering but there is nothing more important than the ordinary Christian, obeying Jesus Christ and being filled with the Holy Spirit.  There is no guarantee that ‘great things’ are going to happen to you, but you will be part of something truly inspiring.  We overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and our testimony.  It is our faith in God which makes us great, not the great acts we do.  We can’t all be Moses, Daniel, Esther or Joseph.  But we are called to such a time as this to be steadfast witnesses in a dark and dying world.

8. Most of the time you feel like a failure.

If you add up all these things we have been talking about, it is bound to make you feel like a failure.  The problem with this is, you actually begin to believe what you feel.  This is why it is so important to get into the Word.  We are not failures.  We are normal.  Look at Paul.  He famously lists his many difficulties, trials and experiences here:

24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. (2 Corinthians 11)

Few people, unless you are like one of the ‘Red Letter Christians’ who don’t consider anything except Jesus’ words to be of any importance, would dismiss Paul as an unimportant and unsuccessful Christian.  He is one of the great saints and theologians of history.  He is not only famous, he is well-known, well-loved, well quoted, well read, every single day, by millions of believers.  You can’t call Paul a little guy, a man in the street.  Yet if we look at his example and compare it to our own, we can’t help but be encouraged.

Look at David, a similar situation.  In his own lifetime he was a king yes, but he messed up big time, he barely got into his kingdom with his own life, and he was betrayed by his own children.  Not exactly what you would expect from a ‘man after God’s own heart’.

No, I am sorry, but a genuine man or woman of God is not going to be anything like what popular authors and speakers in today’s church profess.  Only God counts our failures as blessings.  Only God knows how bad we could have been or how many times we could have messed up.  He works everything for good, even the failures.  So get used to failing, it is better than being puffed up with pride and stepping all over your family in God without even realising it. In fact, in my estimation, a man who fails frequently is more likely to be used by God than a man who is continually successful.  God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and the weak things to confound the strong. (2 Corinthians 1:27).  Love that verse.

9. You get the blues, feel yukky and get minor illnesses more often than others.

One thing we have sort of expected as bible believing Christians is that we shouldn’t  feel bad very often. You should be feeling great!  Right?  We are blessed, loved and accepted by Jesus, we love others, we are filled with love, joy and peace!  But you know what?  If you are doing battle with the enemy on a daily basis, if you are getting victory over personal sins and you are confronting unbelievers with the truth of the gospel, you are going to feel pretty darn bad.  You know why? Because you are spending your energy – you are wrestling with principalities and powers and probably not even aware of it.  It drains you, it causes your body to fight harder to stay healthy, it creates poor sleep, bad eating habits and lack of exercise (unless you count getting down on your knees and up again on a regular basis).  You get headaches, colds, flu, aches and pains, hives, bruises, allergies and other stress related physical issues.

Let’s face it, you don’t spend all of your time down at the gym because you don’t worship physical fitness.  You don’t spend all of your time making sure you eat healthy foods and constantly go on diets because you are not worried about illness or focused on what you look like.  You don’t visit the doctor every other week having multiple tests just in case you might have symptoms of a serious illness because you are not afraid to die.  You just live your life, bless the food, go on prayer walks, visit your friends and neighbours to help them, tell them about Jesus and generally spend your energies serving others, not serving yourself. A genuine believer forgets about themselves.  In fact, good brothers and sisters will be the ones thinking about us and praying for us.  It’s a mutual experience.  Don’t be surprised when you get sick, and when you do, take it as an opportunity to pray and ask the Lord to heal you and watch how He answers the prayers of His faithful and obedient sons and daughters!  Bless the Lord and thankyou Jesus.

10. Sometimes you feel like God is out to get you – you KNOW for sure Satan is.

A genuine believer can sometimes feel that God is not as close-by as He actually is. In fact, sometimes, if you spend too much time examining your life, especially looking backwards, you can be tempted to look back in anxiety and wonder where your life went.  You can get discouraged by the numbers of failures, you can think God has abandoned you, you can start to actually believe God hates you or is out to get you.  But again, this is the deception of the enemy. Now you know you have heard that term before. You know Satan loves to lie to us and get us to believe those lies.  But maybe you aren’t really aware of just how powerfully easy it is to believe those lies. Maybe you aren’t really convinced of how real those lies can be, they actually convince you that they are true.  This is how people can be deceived, both in their own minds, and by false teachers.  Those lies sound just so real, so true.  And what is worse, those lies convince you that you are wise to believe them.  Not believing the lies of Satan makes you feel like a fool. Mainly because Satan’s lies are more often than not found in man’s wisdom.  When Satan convinced Adam and Eve of his lies, he began a career of spreading his convoluted and abominable lies throughout all history and to every human being on the planet.  So coming to us individually and whispering lies into our ears when we are feeling low is the simplest thing in the world to him.  He can make you think you are a total idiot for even believing God exists if you let Him.

We have to always remind ourselves who is our enemy.  And when those lies start to sound like truth, go back to Scripture and remind yourself of who your God is, and how much He loves you and how much Satan hates you.  God is not out to get you, but your enemy certainly is.  Stand firm in the faith that you confessed right from your birth as a son or daughter of God and persevere.

He who remains steadfast to the end will be saved!

The Phantom Kitten of Cameroon

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About a year ago we bought a Siamese kitten.  It was not without its difficulties.

You wouldn’t think it would be, after all, its pretty simple. Go to breeder, pay huge amount of money, bring kitten back.

But for reasons of temporary insanity, we decided to buy sight unseen over the internet.

My advice to all pet lovers is DO NOT DO THIS!

We were caught by a scam which originated in, surprise surprise not an African mainland nation but Cameroon. We knew nothing about Cameroon.  We still don’t.  We just know that the thieves were apparently situated there, using a fake bank account.  Yes, we, highly intelligent people with a history of dealing with unscrupulous people, somehow managed not to stop ourselves sending money overseas to a bank account in Cameroon.  Now in my defense I did think…Cameroon….Cameroon?  And did actually consider for a moment that this may not be legitimate.  Do you think?

You may, dear readers (all three of you), think that what follows is really just an excuse for getting all emotionally carried away by pictures of cute little Siamese kittens and yes, it is.  However, I felt it important to at least lend some gravitas to my own dumb as a box of rocks behaviour by telling the whole story so nobody else falls victim to these scams. And apparently a lot of people already have, so I am not the only one.

I will start by saying that it was my fault, even though my daughter was the one who actually communicated with the ‘woman in South Australia’ who she thought she was dealing with.  I should have pricked up my ears when ‘she’ started calling my daughter ‘dear’ too early in the piece and then continued to call her that when we started to glom on to the scam.  It clearly was not a woman at all, and even more clearly a misogynist male psychopath, who was perpetrating the crime  in the first place.  The signs were all there, I simply did not put the brakes on.  Most of these scams are held in place by the desire of the scam-ee to actually want the lie to be true.  Dare I say that most deceptions, especially over the internet, would have this as a common thread.  Ooohhhh, look at the little cute kitty cat.  Yeah, right, you mean the little cute kitty cat picture they grabbed from google images?

Obviously the key here is to ask for facts, proof, information, evidence, don’t just go on email exchanges with a complete stranger.  More importantly, don’t believe in the kindness of strangers when money is involved.  Who offers a free animal at only the cost of transport (about $250) when it would be just as easy to give the animal away in the local paper.  This is the scam.  You only pay for the transport not the actual animal.  Sounds like a deal right?  Yes and no.  Obviously.  ‘Scuse me while I revisit my stupidity and cringe in my seat whilst mentally beating myself up once again.

Now, I will just say, in my own defense, although it clearly isn’t one at all, that previous to this, a friend of a friend offered us a dog over the internet.  The people who owned the dog were moving to New Zealand and were wanting somebody to take over her care.  They emailed us a picture of said dog, gave some details.  In fact, we did not have to pay for the transport of the dog from Victoria to Brisbane because apparently their company were paying for all their transport costs.  We did ask questions on that occasion.  WHY?  I mean, why then?  Seriously?

We almost lost the deal with the owners who were apparently getting a bit upset with us for not immediately jumping for joy at a free pet.  I wanted to know more about the dog who was about a year old.  Unfortunately for me, they weren’t in a communicative mood. In fact, they didn’t even change details on the dog’s microchip record so I had to sign a declaration to prove that the owners had actually given up their ownership and given the dog to us.  Anyway, we now have Ruby. How’s this for weird.  We lost a dog called Coco in Melbourne when she got sick a couple of years previous to this.  The dog we adopted was from Melbourne and called Coco.  We changed her name to Ruby.  Strange coincidence. Anyway, that particular incident did not involve the exchange of funds between Australia and an unknown third world country.  So the odds of getting scammed were slightly lowered.

However, because of this event, we, I mean I, were less inclined to think more cautiously about what was going on with the kitten issue.  I mean, it had worked before right?  Maybe the Cameroon account was just an offshore bank account for tax purposes…..oh forget it, I should have known straight away and stopped things right in their tracks.  Part of me figured my daughter needed to have some experience in this kind of thing since she was paying for it not me. However, as I said, my own brain went on holiday during this period, I actually have no excuse.

As you can see, this kind of even is totally traumatic and even years later still humiliates and distresses people.  You do feel like an idiot. Maybe its because you were one.  Anyway, it was still fraud and theft.

So here’s what actually went down.  We found the advertisement on a domestic buy/sell website.  My daughter contacted the ‘woman’ purportedly in South Australia, chosen for its distance from most of the mainland cities I would assume.  If we had lived in Adelaide, we are sure the destination would have suddenly been moved to Perth or some such. Anyway, they had photographs of the kitten, details about when it was born etc.  My daughter and the disgusting wicked scam perpetrator had a number of very in-depth email conversations.  The ‘owner’ of the photograph of the pretend kitten wanted to know a great deal about her and wanted to make sure that the photograph of the kitten was going to the ‘right person’.  How could you doubt that kind of integrity right?  Of course right.

So when the immoral scam artist decided that his stolen photograph of a kitten was going to go to a good home, he dropped her in it.  She needed to send $250 via some weird teller machine in a – get this – 7-11 store (ANOTHER BIG RED FLAG YOU IDIOT!!) to an account in Cameroon.  Yes, I did think what I said before, Cameroon doesn’t sound good right, but we had already figured we knew who we were dealing with.  When we asked a question about the account, the ‘lady’ told us it was all OK as she had done this kind of thing before.

Ugly Cameroonite scammer now told us that we would have only to wait another 6 or so hours until about 6 p.m. that night (the amount of time ironically it would take for the funds to clear to the fake bank account in said unknown African country).  We were so excited.

All this had happened so fast, we did not tell Steve until later that day.  His first instincts were correct (of course) and he checked the name of the pet carrier on the internet.  My husband is our knight in shining workboots.  He rang us straight back when he found out that the carrier in question does not transport animals.  Yes, that is right, the carrier that the idiots in Cameroon told us they were using does not actually transport animals.

Cue ‘that can’t be right’ cognitive dissonance and cries of distress at own stupidity suddenly dawning on one’s brain.

So we emailed the ‘lady in South Australia’.  All I can say is that the absolute calm and apparent integrity of the ‘lady’ was totally gobsmackingly outrageous. This piece of trash was still telling our daughter that everything was going to be OK, and we would get our little kitty on time, and just to have patience.  Something about the sliminess of that response finally got our crap-o-meter working.  So I looked up pet purchasing scams on the internet.  Well, that one came up immediately.  We knew straight away we had been had.

So I wrote to the dirty mongrels pretending to be my daughter.  Two can play at that game!  Yeah, I sure showed them.

I told them that we were on to them, that they were not going to get any more of our money and that they needed to repent of their sins or they were going to hell.

Apparently, the scam ran that if you wanted to get the kitten you had to pay more money to the transport company who failed to tell you about these hidden costs that suddenly became payable.  So not only were they liars and thieves, they were blackmailers!

It was actually pretty disturbing frankly.

What was even more disturbing was that when I wrote to the scammers telling them we were on to them, they pretended to be deeply offended and told me that I would regret being ‘mean’ to them when the kitten turned up on our doorstep.  They were even now still trying to play games with us.  Not only that, but I suspect they were still buying time, knowing that there was a window of opportunity for the Federal Police to track them.  Unfortunately we didn’t contact the Feds in time, but we did give them the details of the scam for future reference.

What killed me was that these psychopaths were still trying to make me feel guilty for their abuse.  It’s absolutely typical in fact of all lifelong abusers.  They are so good at what they do that they feel no remorse, have no conscience and actually think that they have the right to tell you off for calling them on their abuse.

So obviously, lesson well learned, my daughter lost $250, but as we commiserated with her afterwards, we said that you could blow that much on a shopping trip and probably not actually notice that much.  I know that sounds shallow and ridiculous, but at the time we were trying to salve our wounded pride as much as anything.

We did end up getting a Siamese kitten.  We bought her from a reputable breeder for $800 and drove to the establishment in our own car to ‘vet’ the animals for ourselves.  We also were given a proper certificate of authenticity and medical records for the animal.  Although the Scameroonites promised to send papers also, we did not see them BEFORE we sent the money.

We were very tempted just after we realised we had been had to email the scammers and tell them we just got the kitten, thankyou very much and tell them how excited we were and thankyou for helping us etc. and then send them another google picture of a Siamese kitten.  It would not have gotten our money back, but I would have loved to have seen the confusion on their faces.

Moral of the story – the use of emotional manipulation via pictures, stories and lies is a common factor in scams.  When it comes to the internet and total strangers, do your homework, trust nobody and keep your money in the same country.

 

 

 

The Unintentional Humour of the Relationally Challenged

sock monkey.jpg

We are occasionally visited on social media sites by former abusers.

They have used false names to try and ‘friend’ us, they failed.

They have tried to use their own names to ‘friend’ us.  Again, they fail.

They also try and friend various members of our family they have not friended before, in the hope that they won’t know who they are.  The trouble with functioning families is that they warn loved ones about abusers.  Dysfunctional families don’t, so abusers don’t get that they are known and noted.  They can’t get in under the radar because normal people are not dumb, they learn from their experiences and ensure they won’t be taken in again.

We have given up being surprised by these repeated albeit random attempts to get our attention so they can ‘listen in’ on our lives without actually participating in them. They are not interested in being friends, they are simply interested in any information they can glean.  Its gotten to the point that we kind of find it amusing in a serious sort of way. Knowledge is power and gossip is king in the ever changing circles of communication with abusers.  So, getting an edge on those people who have had the gall to cut you off because you won’t stop damaging them is all important.  Shame that victims wise up to their tactics.  There is just too much information sharing on the internet now, former victims tell their stories and let people know what goes on.  Knowledge may be power for abusers, but experience is enlightenment for survivors.

Many Christians don’t realise that the Bible actually gives us legitimate reasons to shun others.  When you have left a cult and people have shunned you because you are leaving, this is not a legitimate excuse.  Especially if the people shunning you are the actual abusers.  Paul warned Timothy (2 Timothy 3) that in the last days men would grow worse and worse and have a form of godliness but deny its power. He said ‘from such turn away’.  He also cursed false teachers and along with John and Peter warned those they loved against them.  In fact, it is a very loving act to warn others against those who would shipwreck others faith.  Especially when you know that these issues weigh heavily in eternity.

Jesus, Paul, Peter and John all warned against those who would lead others astray and also against those who would attempt to preach a false gospel, especially one which rejects the divinity of Jesus Christ who came in flesh as the Son of God.  There are more and more examples of false teachers, or followers of false teachers as time progresses to the end, and as much as it is getting very wearing to continually have to gird your loins against those who wish to destroy your relationship with God, it is entirely necessary.  It is a spiritual battle, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, and it goes also for family members.

There is a great deal talked about regarding ‘no contact’ when it comes to abuse.  We believe Christians have an obligation to talk to the abuser, or false teacher, face to face if possible and explain why their teaching or behaviour is both aberrant and damaging. I should point out however, that where teaching is public either via the internet or through published works, we are right to critically examine those teachings for ourselves without going to the author who we often can’t talk to simply because of practicality.

We are genuinely amazed at the growing numbers of people we know who will not just refuse to admit that they are damaging others but who act as though they are completely without sin at all.

I understand that facing up to your sins is difficult.  We have all had to do it.  It is even more difficult when you have to face the person  you have sinned against.  But when it comes to relatives, ‘friends’, or more particularly brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to walk in the light with one another in order to deal with offences.  If the other person, especially if they claim to be a born again Christian, refuses to listen to or recognise the validity of the other Christian’s offence, there is nothing left to do, but walk away, commit them to God and hope and pray that they are brought to their senses before it is too late.

I was listening to a Paul Washer message the other day.  He is one of those fire and brimstone preachers, whose messages are often to the point, direct and don’t mess around with words.  I appreciate that.  Few preachers these days have the courage to talk like this, and count the cost of losing friends and popularity as a result.  As Washer said in this clip, he often hears people saying that he needs to ‘lighten up’ because he takes things too seriously, and seems to be depressed all the time.  He explained that the reason that he seems this way is that people’s eternal destination is being weighed in the balance.  He said that some of us will end up in heaven so glorious that if we were seen by those on earth they would be tempted to bend in worship, and others who end up in Hell will be so bent twisted and ugly and tormented that they will not be recognisable.  As any loving brother, he wants everyone to be glorified, not end up in hell.  For many church goers now though, hell doesn’t, conveniently, exist.  So that kind of nixes that idea.  Its pointless to pretend that Hell isn’t real and that God is ‘too loving’ to punish anyone.  The fact is  God doesn’t send us there, and we will all have had the opportunity to make a decision about Jesus Christ.  God is just, righteous and good and is not willing that any should perish. If you end up there, it is because you have chosen Hell rather than to ‘have this man to rule over us’.

Our job as members of the body of Christ however, is to preach the gospel message, warn against and deal with reprobates – those who know the truth but who will not respond to it.

The whole point of going ‘no contact’ with abusers, especially those who claim to be Christians, apart from of course protecting yourself, is that they will be able to see the error of their ways.  Shunning others seems like a terrible weapon to use, and so it is in the hands of those who have no righteous reason to use it.  Most have tried to talk to their abuser repeatedly, to put across their point of view, to warn that their actions are hurtful, offensive and damaging.  However, for those who have been repeatedly abused by false brethren, false teachers or false friends, this is a last resort and a final one.

When the abuser decides to try and get your attention all over again by contacting you on one of the social media outlets, you have no other choice but simply to ignore them.  If they were going to contact you to tell you they have dealt with the sin, wanted to ask for forgiveness and repent, that is a different matter.  So far however, after nearly 30 years of dealing with people like this, we have never seen anyone respond like this. Usually they are just continuing the old behaviour.  In fact, if nothing else, it’s proof that they have not changed.

We pray that God will restore these ones to himself, but we are not going to lose any sleep over them.  If they want to play the internet stalker, they need to recognise that in the end, it is simply going to make them look like the desperados they are rather than gain them any traction.  Hopefully, in the end, they will go to God and ask Him for the gift of repentance. Otherwise, its no deal schlemiel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me Lost Me Cookie At the Disco

cookie monster

Cookie Monster: The lights were shining
The night was fine
And me was having a real great time
Then me got careless
Me don’t know how
But me had something me can’t find now!

(chorus) Me lost me cookie at the disco

Cookie Monster: The mood exciting
The music loud
Me just a part of that happy crowd
Me feet go crazy
Across the floor
But something made my sweetie not be there no more!

One Sunday over Christmas, Steve and I visited the sort of church we are almost never in.  We visited out of curiosity but also out of familiarity because the last time we were in the city we had been in this church and enjoyed our visit.  It was a couple of decades later however and a lot had changed.

The interior of the church was black.  We kind of expected that since we had checked out their internet site.  But we stayed to talk to the pastors at the door anyway.

Within about ten minutes of us being there, we noticed that the stage down the front was looking a little blurry.  I turned to the Pastor we were speaking to and asked him if that was a smoke machine down the front and he said that it was.  He put the blame on ‘them’ whoever they were and said that ‘they’ loved having the smoke machines.

As time progressed, we found a seat and waited for the meeting to start.  We generally, like the cowards we are, like being at the back just in case we need to make a quick getaway.  On this occasion however it proved useful.  As soon as the music started, the strobe lights began.  The whole building was dark, there was a stage with all the rock instruments you could want, there was a young woman wearing a very short skirt and holding a microphone and there was a smoke machine and strobe lights.  The only thing that could complete the picture was a mirror ball.

Why do churches do this?

I mean really, why?

Look at the logic behind it, it makes no sense.  Out in the world, people go to discos, or nightclubs or rock concerts to do one of three things – generally.  They are either there to hook up with somebody, they are there to buy or consume drugs, or they are there to hang out with their friends, switch off their brains and drink themselves to oblivion.  All in all, the intent is to forget their lives, which are meaningless, fear-laden and filled with dysfunctional relationships.  And if things are going well, they still go to the pub, club, or friends places to do the same things. Such is life in the world.

So the logic in the seeker-sensitive churches is – we will entice the unchurched into church by making a church look like a club or disco.  Because that’s where people go to ‘have a good time’ without recognising that the time they are having is not ‘good’ at all, it is perverse. But then you have to actually be saved from out of this perverse generation in order to recognise that. So once people are in the ‘church’, we will do the classic bait and switch. We will wham them with the gospel and they will get saved.  Maybe.  I mean would you bother getting saved if there was no difference between life inside and outside the church? What would be the point.  In fact, most seeker sensitive churches don’t preach the gospel or anything like it.  They waffle, they tell people that heaven will be a party, they refuse to mention sin, repentance or the cross because that might, gasp, be offensive, and then they wonder why their congregations have the maturity of three year olds.

The average person in the street is not that stupid. They do not think that a church looking like a disco actually is a disco.  Nor do they consider that they will be able to do any of the above disco related activities in a church because they will generally expect that a church would not encourage them – being a church, a place of worshipping God. Most people  know at some level that they are sinning by getting drunk, doing drugs, having sex and ignoring God.   What sinners are looking for is answers to life’s problems. And, being intelligent, they assume that because what they are doing doesn’t work, that what does work will be something different.  They just haven’t found it yet. Similar to the tenet that insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over in the hope that something will change.

The problem with seeker-sensitive churches is that they are announcing to the world that they don’t actually have the answer to life’s problems, and they are expecting the world to tell them what to do next.  This is a total abdication of truth, it is also a cowardly refusal to actually seek the Lord to know His mind on how to reach the lost.  They have sold their soul in order to be friends with the world, in order to save the world.  Nope, doesn’t work. Not only that, but scripture (James 4:4) tells us that if you are friends with the world you are an enemy of God. WOW.  How did the SS churches miss that one? They missed it because they don’t read their Bibles, nor do they have any genuine faith. In fact, I would have to say that most of them are either not saved, or are just baby Christians who have never grown up.

But back to our church visit. Well, we certainly did lose something at this disco. In fact, it wasn’t just us.  The church had lost its whole reason for being.  We didn’t stay to listen to any preaching, but really, we didn’t think that this would be an issue.  If this is how they believe churches should appeal to people in post-modern society, they really had lost the plot.  And I guess they also lost the Holy Spirit, because nobody had any idea how to worship the Lord in that environment at all.

 I was beginning to wonder if I was going to go blind because every time the strobe lights whirled around they hit me right at eye level.  I don’t know whose idea that was, but it was completely ridiculous.  You couldn’t concentrate on anything that was going on at the front, because you were continually shielding your eyes against the lights.  It was like being blinded by somebody’s car headlights on high beam at night, and just as enjoyable.

We stayed ten minutes and left. Just before we left, I disappeared to the bathroom, and Steve talked briefly with a young guy who came and sat next to him.  He told Steve he only came there for the music.  Which was a little sad, because frankly, the ‘worship leader’ couldn’t sing. What was interesting was that this young guy who just came for the music clearly wasn’t a Christian.  He was like a guy on the street who just came in to sit for a while and enjoy the free disco. So, yeah, to some degree their devious plan worked.  It got one guy off the street and inside.  But with nobody to tell him the gospsel?  He was sadly going to stay lost.

You Can’t Serve God and Mormon

zacharias
Ligonier Ministries discussion

Steve and I listened to an informative video the other night.  It was a recording from the 2007 Ligonier Ministries conference.  I can’t post it because WordPress won’t let me but here is the link. It was a conversation regarding the errors of the post-modern liberal theology which has permeated the evangelical church over the last two decades.  The three men discussing this were Ravi Zacharias, R.C. Sproul and Al Mohler.  They were intelligent erudite and entertaining.  Each speaker in his own way had an eloquence which only professors at university who speak for a living could have.

We were enthralled and we also appreciated the wisdom of the combined years and experience that these men had.  Its actually a real shame that not many younger Christians appreciate the perspective that age can give.  The longer you live, the more you see because time has given you an understanding that you simply cannot have when you are younger.  It is almost impossible to explain that to a young person, and they will not appreciate what you are saying because you can’t until you age.  It’s a puzzlement.

I had heard of these men before but didn’t really know much about them.  As they were talking however, it dawned on me that their orientation seemed to be leaning towards Calvinistic beliefs. Sure enough, when I did some research, both Mohler and Sproul are firmly reformed in their theology.  Al Mohler is currently president of the Southern Baptist Convention in the States and is what is termed a ‘New Calvinist’.  R.C. Sproul  is a Calvinist theologian and founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries.  Ravi Zacharias is not a Calvinist I believe, but is well known as a speaker and author and apologist.

Ravi Zacharias in particular was very droll and charming and had a way of speaking which made you want to hear more.  He was more of a story teller than anything I think.  Their strong distaste and concern for the errors of post-modernist theology were helpful to us as we realised that the problems in the Emerging church have actually been around for many decades, even centuries.  Sproul even playfully suggested that Satan was a post-modernist since his lie to Eve “Did God really say?” was the essence of emerging thought.

But even as we listened to these gentlemen, something was not sitting right with me.   The more I listened to them, the more I realised that in actual fact a lot of their statements were wrong.  We are not Calvinists, and don’t agree with the five points of Calvinist theology, believing they are neither defensible nor biblical.  But while I previously mentioned the wisdom and experience these men have, there is also a disturbing arrogance which came with it, and its not the first time I have seen this.

John MacArthur, a popular Reformed pastor with his own Bible commentary, is another Calvinist of this stripe.  Yet there are many who have left his Grace Community church believing it is a cult due to the way they are treated and the utter refusal to brook any dissension.  These are two of the biggest pointers to spiritual abuse.  If pastors will not discuss concerns with members of the congregations or even visitors to the congregation, they are not allowing for the possibility of error.  And even if they are not in error, they should still be able to converse civilly with those who disagree with them or have concerns.  Not so John Macarthur.  There are more issues that I have with Mr. MacArthur’s theology and that of John Calvin, but I don’t want to talk about that here.

I wanted to mention how much these men were name dropping.  They talked about the various universities they had taught at and the various people they knew and it was like a very subtle competition. But you could see that they revelled in the fact that they were well known and sought after speakers.  There is nothing wrong with being famous, but it seems no human being can cope with it for too long without it going to his head.  My concern was that their fame had changed who they were as Christians. There was little in the way of humility and some of Sproul’s jokes were disrespectful to God’s word and fairly tasteless.

Added to this, there seemed to be a marked sense of being in a good ole boys club. and not only that but that they recounted incidents in which they had changed their minds on issues within a day or so of some great man or other telling them that they disagreed with them.

Al Mohler mentioned that he had held very strong egalitarian views on women in the church when he was at University and when he had stated these views to a visiting complementarian speaker whom he very much admired, he immediately (overnight) changed his viewpoint.  This speaker had told him that his (Mohler’s) views were an embarrassment and immediately Mohler decided to look into why it was that his hero of the faith felt this way.  When a young man changes his mind that quickly because a famous man tells him to, you can be sure that he doesn’t really know what he believes.  You can’t do a thorough study of either approaches to the subject of women in the church overnight, and in order to really understand what the Holy Spirit is saying to the church on this matter, you need more than a few hours prayer.  Mohler claimed that he had not been influenced at all by the words of the visiting speaker, yet evidence would tend to suggest otherwise.

Likewise Ravi Zacharias who seems to have slid into false teaching very quickly, told the story of his invitation by the Mormon Church to speak at the LDS Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City in 2004.  Initially he said he turned it down, he did not explain why this was.  But then he apparently was accosted by everyone from his wife to famous Christian authors and pastors like James Dobson, psychologist and founder of Focus on the Family and Charles Colson former counsel  to President Richard Nixon. These are not minor Christian celebrities. All of them told him to accept the invitation to speak, they told him that it was necessary for him to be there, presumably to preach the gospel.  Now not once did Zacharias mention what God wanted him to do, he was completely focused it seemed on what everyone around him, especially influential famous men, wanted him to do.  I do not believe he should have gone to preach there since scripture tells us to have nothing to do with false teachers. Not only that but Ravi Zacharias has a history of ecumenist preaching and attempting to ‘dialogue’ with false teachers, as though being friends will make other people more open to listening to what you have to say.  It didn’t do a thing for the Middle East conflict and will never do so.  You can’t be friends with people who hate your guts and want to destroy you.  It is the same when you are talking to a cult which has had a strong presence in the U.S. for many years and actually believes it is a Christian church.  They are not.  Ravi Zacharias was not preaching the gospel of repentance from sin, he was trying to compare notes about what they do believe.  They do not worship the same God or the same Jesus.  Why on earth would a cult want Ravi Zacharias to preach to them in the first place.  There is something profoundly disturbing in the fact that a false religion likes a particular Christian apologist’s messages. That tells me that Zacharias’ preaching is far too watered down to actually do anybody any good.

It is important to recognise a number of things here.  You can be preaching a false message and still be a great speaker and a charming person.  You can be preaching a false message about one issue and a true one on another issue.  And thirdly, even if, like Mohler and Sproul your theology is deeply flawed, you can still have biblical beliefs on a number of issues such as the person and ministry of Jesus Christ.  It is even more proof that we need as Christians in these last days, to test the Spirits, to keep our bibles with us at all times, and to do some research if we sense within our spirits that something just doesn’t sound right.

When Steve and I were in BCF, there were a lot of times when I knew something was wrong, I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was.  It wasn’t until we left that we were able to understand the gravity of the error. It’s too easy to sit passively and be entertained or informed, but you must always have your critical thinking cap on, first of all dowsed in the blood of Jesus Christ so that you will have the mind of Christ and you will know whether what you are hearing is right or not.

When Life Hands You Lemons…

Nobody eats lemons.

If life hands you lemons, give ’em to Jesus and He will make something good out of something bad.  He is the only one who can.

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[b] with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

(Romans 8:26-30)