The Brisbane Christian Fellowship Cult – The Thin End of The Corruption in Leadership Wedge.

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Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

Galatians 2 NKJV

What does BCF cult leader Victor J. Hall, Joseph Biden former US Vice President and Harvey Weinstein disgraced Hollywood Director have in common?  They are essentially the same men in different guises. This blog post is all about seeing the culturally sanctioned abuse of the powerless by the powerful in both the world and the church as one and the same.  They are rooted in sin and the flesh and they are empowered by demonic forces.  This is not the time to be mincing words and pandering to the desperate need of the powerful to silence their victims through the forced submission to politically correct thinking and cowardly acts of what some call love and respect but others see as accommodation and sycophancy.

When we left the cult Brisbane Christian Fellowship in 2004 I remember saying to Steve that what we had experienced was the thin end of the wedge.  I had no idea what I was about to get myself into.  Those words were prophetic. As we found, it is the thin end of the wedge in so many ways not the least important or puissant being that of morally corrupt men having the power to abuse women and children. In the last thirteen or so years we have amassed a huge body of knowledge and experience of the world and the rest of the church which has stood testimony to this truth.  I thought once I healed from the abuse that I would no longer want to talk about it.  If BCF had been the thin end of a very small wedge then that would probably have happened.  The fact that the wedge is not just large but universal and that this behaviour is being repeated throughout both Christendom and the world makes it practically and ethically impossible to put your spiritual feet up and just live your life as you would wish.  No woman naturally desires to fight anyone or anything.  Our God-given affections lean towards sustaining relationships not relational or even physical aggression.  Those who do, and I was raised by one so I know what I am talking about, are either corrupted by abuse themselves or simply have a preternatural bent towards manipulation and control.  Frankly my own opinion is that these women are demonically influenced or actually possessed. But that is another story.

I recently saw a video of Joe Biden the former Vice President during Obama’s reign.  I had heard his name but knew nothing about him and wasn’t inclined to find out. Australians don’t usually follow U.S. politics unless it has something to do with them personally.  Really, we are pretty ignorant of foreign governments and their personalities unless we make a habit of watching Fox News or CNN or some other mainstream media broadcast based in the U.S. That being said, I found this video to be more than intriguing, it was in fact deeply disturbing.  I also wondered as I skipped through the most painful bits (involving mainly little girls) how something like this just gets ignored or dismissed.

The problem is this. In any institution which has an established culture and long running traditions and a huge power pyramid the little guys always bow to those higher up in the pyramid.  So people like Joe Biden who is second only to the President end up with a huge attitude of entitlement. He is the stunt double of the ‘leader of the free world’. He gets to do whatever he wants right? Wrong. He has MORE responsibility for his actions because they affect so many others.  This is not tolerable.  It is bad enough that old white guys with patriarchal, misogynistic and predatory modes of operation run governments. But if there is literally no sanctuary with God’s people then where do we turn for comfort and support?  THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is the essence of the crime.  It is not just a crime against the poor, the widows, the orphans and the disenfranchised, it is a crime against God.  For God himself says he will take revenge on those who are the victims of the power-hungry corrupt men who say they are God’s shepherds and prophets and teachers.

It doesn’t appear, at first google, that Biden has a great reputation amongst his countrymen. A lot of people are awake enough to recognise his behaviour as not just creepy but sexually abusive. Nobody should get a free pass to touch anyone at anytime. We have personally experienced pastors and elders of churches who think that by virtue of the fact that they are leaders, men and ‘christians’ that they can touch anyone in any way they want to and if anyone complains they were either ‘just joking’ or you are ‘just too sensitive’.  They may apologise to your face but you will get the sharp end of their gossiping tongue and probably get shunned as we did.  And I am not referring to BCF here but a recent foray into a church which was also established by Ray Jackson Junior.

Jackson was a sexual predator and apparently a lot of churches he established have this kind of culture within their doors.  It is NEVER OK to treat anyone with disrespect but in Biden’s case, this man was swearing-in the members of the Senate in an official ceremony replete with photo opportunities and cameramen filming his every move.  If these videos are all over the internet, and this was not  his first public outing as a sexual predator, then this man clearly does not see any reason to change his behaviour.  He is obviously being sanctioned by those at the top of the pyramid and those in the Whitehouse to whom I would assume sexual predation is normal.

Before I go any further, here is the video of Biden I was referring to.

The first family to enjoy Uncle Joe’s special attention is the worst and most uncomfortable thing to watch, especially for the poor little girl in the red dress who simply couldn’t get away and was unable to get any help from the men around her, in particular her father who appeared not to even notice what Biden was doing.  Often however, these kinds of things are part of the general cult mentality in these institutions.  Hollywood is another culprit for allowing this kind of thing to carry on without question. I do not for a moment think that the latest Oprah Winfrey speech at the Golden Globes or the self-righteous declaiming of all things Weinstein is going to change anything.  This abuse has been part of the Hollywood backstory and ongoing culture and is not going to stop.  For some reason they have thrown Weinstein  under the bus, he is the sacrificial goat for this year.  The fact that so many have denounced Oprah’s speech is because she has been well known as one of the supporters and even enablers of Weinstein.  Nobody is going so far as to call Oprah a pimp, but she appears by some accounts to certainly have helped Weinstein’s lecherous behaviour.

Despite all appearances to the contrary there is actually a difference between pastors and elders behaving like Joe Biden and Joe Biden. And what is that difference?  The difference in these men is not in their base nature or their capitulation to it.  The difference is in the way God sees them.  God’s anger and judgement upon the wicked is one thing, his anger and judgement upon those who claim to be His people is something else.  They may both end up in hell but one group are supposed to be under the grace of the blood of Jesus Christ.   We expect the unsaved to act like citizens of Sodom despite the fact that certain of them like Biden are again, ostensibly, elected officials who are supposed to be above reproach (or at least that is the fairytale we have listened to for centuries).

Our fight however is ongoing.  We seek not to out these men for the sake of feeling justified in ourselves or making ourselves seem more righteous because of it.  In my experience there is a vast difference between the Christian who has suffered at the hands of unscrupulous church leaders who have taken advantage of his trust and loyalty and those who grandstand about their own purity at the expense of other’s reputation. We have not chosen to call out corruption.  Well, OK, yes we have.  I mean, we blog, we talk about it frequently and we are not going to stop talking about it.  Until these men repent, and frankly I am not expecting it any time soon, we must call them on their pretence.  Again, a snake who doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a snake is far preferrable to a camouflaged predator who fools the prey into thinking they are safe and then makes a jump for them when they are not looking.  These are cowardly acts.

To say nothing, to pursue our own comforts and a life outside of all corruption and false teaching would mean that we go back to sleep.  Once awakened, a sleeper is ready to go out into the sunlight and live.  To love sleep is to love sin and ignorance.  Look at Jonah. We choose to act, to speak and to oppose false shepherds and predators of every stripe.  It is not ‘our best life’, humanly speaking.  But it appears to be what we have been formed for.

Take care Vic Hall and every man who runs Brisbane Christian Fellowship.  Your judgement is upon you and even now if you repent you will be able to escape God’s wrath.  If you do not, even unto death, then you will face His great wrath against you at your death.  Hell is forever gentlemen and there is no escape.  And to any Christian who has left BCF and no longer believes in Hell, I feel sorry for you.  God is just and righteous and it is a truly terrible shame that people who formerly believed and loved Him have been turned away by abuse and false teaching.  God has mercy upon you and will seek after you as a shepherd after a lost lamb, but He will have no mercy on those who have done this to you.  Of that I am certain and know it for sure to the bottom of my very soul. I also include those leaders such as Raymond Guyatt and Graeme Harry and other men who have left BCF and not repented of their sins against the Church.  Do not think that just because you are out you can just carry on with  your lives and ignore the terrible damage you have inflicted.  You need to repent and ask forgiveness of those you have abused.  REPENT gentlemen or you will perish!

If it wasn’t for the fact that the Bible itself has prophesied that this would happen, I would be crying out how it is possible for the church to come to this terrible place.  Things are going to get worse, a portion of the church, the largest portion I am afraid will reject the Bible, the orthodox teaching of Jesus and Paul and the Prophets and Apostles and follow after man-made fables and false gospels.  They will eventually become the end times church which will hail the Antichrist as Jesus himself.  So, while we still fight the good fight, we fight with the end in sight and the end for us is not on this earth.

 

 

 

 

 

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How Do Normal People End Up In A Cult?

 

If by ‘normal’ you mean well-adjusted people who came from nurturing, caring environments with loving, accepting parents and family then those people do not become members of cults.  It’s those with damaged hearts and souls who appear normal on the outside, usually because of a lifelong ability to ‘keep calm and carry on’ and ‘keep up appearances’, who become cult members.

It is more than your sanity is worth to actually speak up about the pain you experienced from your own family.  So you learn from an early age to be like everyone else.  Most people are not perceptive enough to notice that you are ‘different’ to them, so most of the time it works. However, other people still end up getting the sense that something is not quite right, so you are kept on the outer rim of friendship groups or other groups of people.  That rejection, which has occurred in your life since childhood just keeps on reinforcing the pain you have felt that you are somehow damaged and ‘not normal’ and in your own mind and broken heart, there is a strong need to be approved of.  By somebody, anybody.  Hence the perfect cult victim is created.

I want to stress here that the need to be accepted and loved is absolutely normal.  Every human being is born with this need. You are not abnormal because this need is not met.  You are the result of the actions of those who should have loved but did not.  Recognising this begets the ability to find the source of all love and acceptance and that is Jesus Christ.  We come to Him and He is able to wipe away every tear, to take the burdens we have carried our whole lives and to minister to our broken hearts.  It is, I stress, the God of the Universe, who both fashioned our souls and saved them from destruction, who is the source of all healing and help.  NOT men. Obviously the problem occurs when we conflate men with God and think that pastors or elders should be given the same authority as God in their lives.  God never expects this, it is not biblical, nowhere in scripture does God give men that authority.  Scripture says there is one mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus Christ.  No other.  This idea that men and God are one actually comes from the child within.  Our understanding of the fact that a loving human father is not God should come about naturally so that the attachment to our fathers is not damaged.  When we have abusive fathers the realisation that our fathers are not God doesn’t occur the way it should.  Not only are we not loved, but we are abused by the very person who should be caring for us. So we blame God instead of the man.  This leads either to being addicted to religion and religious leaders or it leads to atheism. The reason cults are so intriguing is because they appeal to people’s needs to be accepted, loved, and controlled.

Nobody asks to be born.  A parent makes that choice – to become a parent.  It is therefore their responsibility, as an adult, to take care of the baby they brought into the world.  It is such a common-sensical thing to say, yet so many people in the world do not have that sense.  They actually think that they can treat their children however they wish and there will be no consequences to that.  These parents either have no consciences or they simply choose to go against them.  I personally do not buy the lie that most psychologists peddle that ‘hurt people hurt people’.  This is a never ending cycle without a beginning and without an end, without a purpose and without a solution.  Life itself teaches us that nothing comes from nothing.  Therefore, abuse must start somewhere, and it can also end in the same place, in the mind and heart of an individual.  An individual who chooses to abuse their privileged position as a parent will always reap what they sow.  They reap destruction and pain and chaos.  This is why we have cults and it is also why apparently normal and sane people join them.

I am not a therapist nor a qualified psychologist, but I have studied the subject during university courses and done enough independent study myself to understand a thing or two. I also have my own personal experiences and those of the people I knew from years prior to joining the cult who changed before my eyes.  I have tried to talk these people out of being part of the cult and they have totally refused to listen or to admit that what is happening to them is harmful.  They won’t listen when I tell them what happened to us, they simply tell me that ‘it has nothing to do with us, go and talk to the elders’.  They ignore the decades worth of friendship that we had had previous to the cult membership and refuse to listen to a heartfelt plea from a genuine friend.  Instead, they prefer to cover their ears, avert their eyes and ‘keep calm and carry on’.

Ironically, the reason why this wartime mantra and form of brainwashing was inculcated into the British public was because they were in a constant state of panic and trauma.  Bombs were falling, the universe was being destroyed, but they were supposed to pretend everything was normal and carry on.  If they had not been zombified by the wartime government, they would have rebelled. No sane person wants to participate in war unless there is an alternative.  The British Government ensured that their citizens were reassured that their leaders were in control. This is exactly what cult members are told.  ‘Nothing to see here’, when somebody escapes or tries to tell them what heinous crimes the leaders of the cult have just performed.  They go to their ‘fathers in the faith’ and are reassured that everything is just as it should be. So they ignore what their own senses and minds tell them.  They ‘unknow’ the truth.  Scripture tells us that those who have no love for the truth will be sent a strong delusion.  Yes, these verses relate to the Anti-Christ, but every cult leader is a type of anti-christ and has the spirit of rebellion and apostasy over it.  Everyone who ‘greets false teachers’ will be sharing in their wickedness.  It is important for everyone who exits a cult to repent and renounce the involvement with the false teaching that John talks about in 2 John 1:10.

 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2 (NKJV)

I also know that many of my friends came from ‘negative childhoods’.  Their families were abusive, their childhoods were disrupted.  So they had been looking for belonging, love, and parenting their whole lives.  What many church leaders do, and this is across the board regardless of denomination, is take the place of absentee fathers or abusive mothers.  They take the reins of a person’s life, tell them what to do, reassure them, in short they control them rather than teach them to be independent and to go to God for their support and needs.  The body of Christ is nothing without Jesus.  He is our reason for existence, and the Holy Spirit is our power and strength.  Human beings cannot give us what we are looking for, but because as new Christians we are told that we should join a church and get the help we need from older more mature Christians, many of us end up in unhealthy churches run by control freaks and psychopaths who revel in the fact that their congregations are simply putty in their hands.

People want to be told what to do because they genuinely believe that other human beings can take the place of God in their lives.  They conflate human parenting and the fatherhood of God himself and assume that if they just do what the pastor or elders tell them to do, God will be pleased with them. But God is not interested in having His people become co-dependent upon human beings.  He told Israel, when they asked for a human king to lead them, that a human king would rip them off, send their children to war and destroy their lives.  They would not listen, so God provided them with Saul.  And it happened exactly as God said that it would.  The Israelites were ripped off by their human king.  (1 Samuel 8)

It is still happening today.  People want, for their own personal reasons, to be lead by a man.  So men lead them.  Those men, who were often never even supposed to be in that place at all, end up becoming corrupt and wicked and end up wallowing in all kinds of carnality, greed, sexual impurity, crimes of all sorts.  Then the people become damaged and offended by this behaviour, as well they should.  But what they don’t do is look at why they followed these men in the first place.  Everyone who exits a cult needs to understand how it was that they gave their loyalty to men so easily. Then they need to understand how it was that they were unable to see the abuse for what it was.  It was because they were deceived and led astray by their own sinful flesh.

So does this mean its our own fault if we end up in a cult?  Yes and no.

A man’s sin is his own, and elders and pastors who abuse the flock will be held accountable by God for their sins.  They will be judged harshly for leading the vulnerable astray and many of them will end up eternally punished.  It is not a light or easily dismissed thing to abuse God’s people.  He will avenge them and Himself.

However, we also need to recognise our own blindness.  We need to see how it is that we were so easily led astray and how it was that we were unable to recognise abuse when it was right in front of our eyes.  Many of the people who have left BCF, the cult we were part of (Brisbane Christian Fellowship), have admitted that they knew that the Holy Spirit was trying to get their attention a long time before they actually had the courage to leave.  Most people, I believe, know when something is not right.  They just don’t want to do anything about it in the hopes that it will all go away. But it doesn’t.  It just gets worse.

I have been asked a few times how it was that I ended up in a religious cult for 15 years.  People don’t understand how you can be so sane and yet have made such stupid decisions.  The problem is, I am sane now, I wasn’t then, and they didn’t know me back then.  So what they are seeing is me as the post-brainwashed person.  A pre-brainwashed person is completely different. I used to have terrible panic attacks several times a day.  I would wake up at 3.30 a.m. with my heart pounding and my stomach churning for no apparent reason.  I was just scared of getting another attack.  It took 20  years to finally realise what was happening to me, and it was because the upbringing I experienced was so traumatic. One of the books I read years later was by Sallee McLaren, a melbourne psychologist.  She states that:

One thing that I think needs to be noted is that it is not a coincidence that almost every person I see in my anxiety clinic has come from a ‘difficult’ background. A difficult background simply means that objectively a person has, on average, experienced more distressing events in her or his childhood than other people have experienced. These events could be all sorts of things, like parental separation or divorce, death of someone close, serious illness, school bullying, excessive parental criticism, physical or sexual assault, excessive moving from place to place, or over-protection from parents (which teaches children that the world is a frightening place that they need protection from, and, which also teaches children that they cannot trust themselves and depend upon their own resources and, therefore have to be rescued or over-protected).  Dr. Sallee McLaren’s Blog

I was not able to function as a ‘normal’ adult anymore because the old ‘keep calm and carry on’ mantra no longer worked.  I did the opposite.  I began to feel what my body had been telling me to feel for 20 years.  I panicked and froze and was not able to carry on in any way shape or form. So I began looking for answers.  My first response was to go to church leaders and counselors. Some of these people were genuinely ignorant of what panic disorder is and back in the early 80s there really were very few people who had even heard of it.  Nobody was able to tell me why I was living with totally frayed nerves and yet managing to ‘keep calm and carry on’.  It took a huge toll.

It really is no surprise that five years later I was involved in a religious cult.

I know that this will not be a popular suggestion.  Cult victims should be given sympathy and compassion.  I did not say I didn’t feel sympathy and compassion for cult victims.  I have been feeling sympathy and compassion for my friends in the cult for over 30 years.  It has not helped them though.  I have also seen people who have left the cult try every type of means to recover from their experiences, and the only way I have seen which has any genuine effect is to take a hard look at your own personal experience and work out how it was that you stayed in a cult when you were under so much pressure and feeling so much pain and rejection and loneliness.  The big question is not how you got there, the big question is why did you stay?

So next time you hear a cult victim talk about their experiences, don’t wonder at how such an obviously intelligent person can get themselves involved in a religious cult and be so deceived.  Realise that we are not just walking intellects.  We have hearts and souls which need to be fed and nurtured. And when those needs are not met, we suffer greatly. We will do anything to stop the pain, anything.  We will go to anyone who offers us love and acceptance. The leaders of cults are almost invariably psychopaths and conscienceless individuals who take up their mantles for the very reason that so many vulnerable and hurting people will accept their lies and egotistical behaviour and think they are some kind of messiah.  They want and need a messiah, but the person they really need is Jesus.  These men and women will not lead them to Jesus, they will just suck the life and money out of them until they can give no more and then they will broom them to the kerb.

 

Drawing Lines In the Sand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Mark 10: 28-30)

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

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

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

*The seekgod.ca website appears to be down at the moment, I don’t know if this is temporary or not. However, for further reading and evidence you can go to this page which provides excerpts from the book “Spiritual Warfare: Politics of the Religious Right” by Sara Diamond. Diamond covers this issue in a section of the book on pages 122-123.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a very revealing statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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.

Christian Narcissists

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Not a Christian, but looks a lot like one.

Narcissism is not what some people might think.

 

It is not self-absorption or even extreme selfishness.  It is a pathological lack of conscience, empathy, compassion, humility and reasonable self-image which revolves around actual talents and character.  It is about lying every time  you open y our mouth.  It is about thinking about your life as a fantasy of what you want to be and then believing it to be true. It is also about expecting others to believe it even when there is no empirical evidence to support that belief. Incredibly,  Narcissists seem to manage to convince others that what they think about themselves is true. They seem to be able to project an image and convey such confidence in that image that others are manipulated into believing it to be real.

Narcissists do not cope well with denial of their fantasies about themselves. Unfortunately, although they are toxic emotional vampires, they can be very charming and persuasive and make you believe that you are their very bestest best friend at first meeting.  They love bomb strangers and at the same time treat their old friends and relatives like dirt. Then they want to know why you are acting strangely around them. It’s because you are catching onto their behaviour and trying to fit it into the jigsaw puzzle of their lives.  The bits don’t match.  They won’t, they belong to a number of different jigsaws.  The one the narcissist is working on is different to the one  you see. They mess with your head and make you believe you are the one with the problem. So lacking in normal morality and working conscience are they that they can carry on like this with a huge smile on their face and be completely free of any shame, guilt or concern about their actions and their consequences. They are like six-year-olds playing a game and they get just as hostile when you don’t want to play any more.

Narcissists can turn from the cute six-year-old to the homicidal maniac at the drop of a hat.  You might think this is an overstatement, but there have been narcissists of my acquaintance who would easily kill somebody if they thought they would not be caught or that it wouldn’t harm their image.  Fortunately they usually stop short of this and just murder your soul instead.  Murdering somebody’s reputation or character is also a good substitute.  That takes time and effort however, so you would have to have upset the narcissist a lot for them to get to that point. On the other hand if the narcissist has a willing pack of servants, often called flying monkeys on the internet, especially family members, then they can get them to do the dirty work for them.

Narcissists have been known to destroy marriages, families, people’s sanity and their careers and to cause nervous breakdowns and suicide, but not so as anybody would notice.  They attack by stealth and its a campaign of attrition. Only the victim knows anything is wrong at first and afterwards, they still blame the victim when it is clearly the narcissist staring at you with the knife in their hand.

Some psychologists have made the suggestion that Narcissists become what they are because they were abused as children and have never grown up and have no real choice as to how they behave.  But the evidence belies this statement.  Anyone with any intimate knowledge of narcissism, especially if they have been raised by it, grown up with it or married it will know that narcissists are not just abused children.  They are extremely functional adults who know the difference between good and evil, and switch between the two depending on who they are talking to and whether or not there are witnesses.  I have seen children do this as well.  And these children were not abused, they were simply choosing to do the wrong thing to suit themselves, and then to cover it up by charming the person in authority, usually the parent.

I am not a psychologist, although I am an avid student of human behaviour. Having grown up around narcissism, and spent 15 years in a religious cult you have no choice but to deal with it.  It is a case of adapt or die.  You have to learn who your enemy is.  And this brings me to the point of my title.  Christian narcissists are liars.  They are first of all not Christians, because it is not possible to continually sin without conscience and be genuinely filled with the Holy Spirit.  Therefore if a narcissist claims to be saved and moreover is a member of local congregation I treat them with the utmost caution.  So called Christian Narcissists can run churches, preach from pulpits or sit on boards.  They can be married to the pastor or serve on the missionary committee, you will know when you have struck one because they continually leave you stunned with their rudeness and contempt. Should you try and deal with this person they will look and sound as though they are truly interested in helping you come to terms with your stupidity.  They are simply not able to recognise their own sin, and will wipe it off onto you because you are blaming them, the blameless, spotless lamb of God.  I heard an abusive former elder of the religious cult I went to actually say this.  He spent decades preaching a false gospel, abusing and bullying everyone he met yet when they finally kicked him out, and we went to him to ask him to be accountable for his actions, his whole demeanour was one of total innocence. Who me?  How could I be at fault?  Now scripture tells us that nobody is without sin and if anyone says he has no sin he is a liar.  This man had lied to us for a couple of decades and after having been kicked out of his own cult, he was still lying.   However, I once saw a picture of him up on his facebook page.  He had that typical narcissist smug grin.  It is the grin of a naughty child who is making you their co-conspirator.  It’s the ‘we all know I am naughty but you know you love me’ look that very small children are apt to get away with.  Its ugly and its an outright offence against the body of Christ and God himself.

The Blood of Jesus and How It Changes Everything

 

 

Lambs frolicking in Christchurch, New Zealand (© Andrew Walmsley/Alamy)(Bing Australia)
Lambs frolicking in Christchurch, New Zealand (© Andrew Walmsley/Alamy)(Bing Australia)

 

 

Recently, I have been reading the book The Power of the Blood of Jesus’ by Andrew Murray. The teaching in this book has opened my eyes to the truths about the blood of Jesus Christ contained in scripture in a way that nothing else ever has. In fact, I can’t remember ever having read, or in fact heard, any teaching on this subject which is as in-depth or as revelatory as this. Murray is not alone in his studies on this subject, many authors and speakers have dealt with it over the centuries. However, this particular book is a classic and has been well-read and accepted as a sound theological treatise. In my lifetime, this has been a revolutionary and challenging book to read and I feel I am going to have to re-read it quite a few times. Our whole family in fact have been reading the book and discovering more and more about the wonderful salvation which is so freely available to all in the death of Jesus on the Cross.

The more I think about the power of the blood and how it cleanses and makes us fit to approach the throne of God, the more I realise how this fact also changes everything else about my walk with Jesus and in fact our lives and the history of our family up to this point.

Our family spent 15 years (1989-2004) in an abusive group called Brisbane Christian Fellowship. Much has been written about this particular organisation, and I won’t insult the church of Jesus Christ by calling it a church. It is a religious institution…that is all. There may well be true believers in its midst and the Holy Spirit will lead them out sooner or later. Strangely, when we left, we were told we were leaving them because we ‘were not of them’, a reference to the scripture 1 John 2:19

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

In fact, they themselves were not of Christ. There was nothing which manifested in that place which was of Christ and despite the fact that they held communion and preached on the significance of ‘the one table’ for the whole body, they were woefully inadequate and in fact mostly wrong in both their exegesis of the meaning of communion and the execution of their offices as ‘elders’.

Steve and I have often discussed what it was that kept us in this place for so long. In essence, it was a lack of understanding of the true gospel. The whole time we were there we strove to be one with the members of the congregation, yet there was always a sense that we were failing and we couldn’t work out why. The elders would have had us believe that we were not obeying them and this was the result of it. We continually felt ashamed, oppressed and worn out. What was lacking was the realisation that we were trying to become one with darkness and there is simply no fellowship of darkness and light. (2 Corinthians 6:14)

We thought we had to somehow make ourselves fit to be members of the body of Christ and that somehow our actions or our acceptability to others (especially the elders) would ensure our acceptance into that body .It was a terrible thing to live with. We felt in our spirits always at odds with what our minds were telling us. We believed we were members of the body, yet we continually worked to gain acceptance into it. We were told on some occasions that we were ‘accepted in the beloved’ from the pulpit, and yet it was clear that there was an overarching yet subtle rejection of us as members of this group. We questioned why this was at every possible juncture. We asked people to our house and were rejected. We wondered why others were asked to go away on vacation but not us. We tried to be part of things like the ‘young marrieds’ group and were told that there were not enough spaces. There were plenty of opportunities for us to involve ourselves in the activities and social life of this place, yet over and over, we walked away with the impression that we were never really quite making it. An astounding observation in a group of people who claimed to be members of the body of Christ.

We had been part of a smaller church which had joined the larger congregation of BCF. We were told that we were joining with them in person because in Spirit we were all one in Christ and that we should rejoice that we were becoming part of the larger body. This was not only illogical it was a completely wrong reason to become part of BCF. If, in fact, (and it is true) we are all one in Spirit and regardless of where we live in the world we are all part of the Body of Christ, then we do not need to come together as one whole body in one place at one time every week. It makes no difference where we are. In fact, it is neither practical nor necessary to do so. We were lied to by the elders who agreed to join with BCF and we were also coerced into believing that this group of people were in fact actually part of the body of Christ in the first place.

Many times we were told as a congregation that we may not even be saved. A lack of assurance in our salvation was a very central part of the abuse that these men heaped upon their people. When we left, we thought that this was why we had always felt that we were disjointed as it were while we were in the group. Their explanation was ‘you were not really of us – they said we were not part of the body of Christ because in their parlance, that is what the ‘us’ means. It meant they were part of the body of Christ, or more specifically, they believe they ARE the body of Christ in Brisbane and all true believers should join them. If fact, all they do is begin new works in various places and hijack other people’s congregations or else encourage lost and hurting Christians to join them in the hope that this is a place where they will find their true calling. Again, it is all a lie.

For many years I questioned the ‘once saved always saved’ message. I believe now that this falls very far short of understanding what ‘saved’ even means. If we are able to come to the Cross of Jesus Christ, and understand what the blood of Jesus Christ has done for us, and we get well and truly converted and continue on in the faith (‘if we endure to the end we are saved’) as all who are given a revelation of this truth will do,I am convinced of it then there will be a mighty change in our lives. We will repent of our sins, we will understand our position in Christ as unassailable, and we will have a mighty saving faith in the blood to deliver us from sin and wickedness and the evil and darkness which surrounds us. BCF have repeatedly taught that we have no ‘position’ in Christ at all but this is to create doubt and fear and a toxic dependence upon the elders to save them.

The congregation of this ‘church’ are not filled with the joy of the Lord or of their salvation. They walk in fear, doubt, anxiety, distrust, frustration, despair and often loneliness and depression. We have always believed this was because of the terrible abuses heaped upon them by the elders. In fact we need to consider this very important and central fact. Are these ones who identify as Christians in fact saved? I believe not. In fact, I believe most of the members of the BCF congregation (if not many other churches in this country) are not saved at all simply because they have not been properly discipled, or taught, the scriptural truths which will in fact change them from sad defeated and fearful religious human beings into joy, faith and hope-filled believers.

It is the blood of Jesus Christ which saves, cleanses and defeats the power of sin in our lives. We are NOT dependent upon some false teacher or other to pronounce our acceptability to God, and these men are very adept at this kind of sorcery. Yet so many of the congregation are not saved at all. We, who were saved and came to Christ in a completely different environment, and were taught and discipled by other men in other ways, came into this environment believing that these people were exactly like us. How wrong we were. They had been taught lies and religious myths for decades and had learned to lean on the rotten bones of greedy sinful godless men instead of the true rock of their salvation, Christ himself.

One of the first sermons we heard in this place was by a man called Vic Hall, who now leads these people and their various churches around this country. He told us that we ‘do not have a pipeline to God’. He tried to tell us that our relationship with Jesus was now null and void and that in its place was the relationship with the elders of this congregation who would now be the face and voice of Christ to us and that we should obey them and it would be as though we were obeying Christ. It was not said in this kind of language of course, it was spoken in words which were much less clear and not all at once. Over the course of time, we stopped believing in Jesus, stopped reading our bibles, stopped praying in fact, and believed that our involvement with this church and its leaders was all that was necessary.

The truth of the matter, which I have only lately come to understand fully, was that there was no ‘us’ to be part of. This was not a church of Jesus Christ, this was no group of members of the body of Christ. Within its ranks there were individuals and marriages who were members of the body of Christ due to their conversion at some previous point and who had gotten themselves well and truly lost. Jesus has, and will, come to claim those ones. But nobody who has heard this un-gospel since a child, or has become a ‘christian’ within its ranks ( a precious few I think) or has stayed inside its gates for more than a few years will be able to call themselves truly saved until they leave and come once again to that bounteous place where the blood can cleanse them of their blindness, deception and wicked deeds. Indeed, the insidious hints and insinuations to the congregation that they might not be saved, that they may never enter heaven because they were not truly obeying, or believing in the un-gospel that was being preached was in fact twisted truth. There was no genuine gospel being preached, the blood of Jesus has been trampled underfoot for years, and there is no growth, change, deliverance or fruit of the Spirit.

26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
(Hebrews 10)

Many have left this place claiming ‘there is no love here’. An idea which has created a great deal of angst in the leaders who have gone to great lengths to protest that there is indeed a great deal of love. They point to the ‘works’ which have been done there in the name of Jesus, yet as Paul points out, you can be prophesying, believing, giving all your worldly goods to the poor and giving your body to be burned but if there is no love you have nothing. These elders have simply pointed to all the ‘works’ they have done and failed to realise that love can be completely absent regardless of how busy you are as a Christian doing religious activities.

There was manifestly no love in that place, as many can attest, because of the lack of salvation, the lack of genuine change, of new creation, of the love of Christ. The love of the Father was not in them, therefore there was no love of the brethren.

As John proclaims…

“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loves not his brother abides in death.”(1 John 3:14)

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”(John 13:35)

“Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.”(1 John 2:10)

A precious antidote to this lack of love, is to understand what the blood of Jesus has done for us. It has enabled us to come to the cross as wicked sinners lacking in even the most basic love for mankind, to be washed and cleaned and to be given new life, robes of righteousness and the power to defeat sin. We now are new creations. We are now able to love, rejoice, hope, believe, trust, walk in the Spirit, know the mind of Christ, and grow and change into mature believers. There was no love at BCF because there was no gospel. There was no change at BCF because there was no gospel. There was no communion of the saints at BCF because there were no saints and there were no saints because there was no gospel.

I can’t stress enough the importance of this truth. The gospel has the power to save. The gospel has the power to save and only the gospel has the power to save. This is why Paul talks about a little leaven leavening the whole lump. (Gal:5:9) It only takes a partial gospel, an incomplete gospel, a slightly changed gospel, or indeed that most frightful of all things doctrines of demons, to deceive us, and we will not be able to partake of the whole of what is available to us.

Not only was BCF preaching a false gospel – come to the elders and be saved – but it was controlling and manipulating its members in cruel and unusual punishment. This was no mere mistaken preaching, this was the whole package of torment, anguish, fear, destruction and theft. People entered in believing they were partaking of the communion of Christ and left broken and battered not even realising they had partaken of demonic perversion and been made unclean and unworthy to be called Christ’s.

Jesus has had to come to us as a family and show us once again what the saving power of His Blood is all about. We have had to ask Him to cleanse us, forgive us, change us so that we no longer live in the oppression and false teaching which was heaped upon us by ungodly men clothing themselves as angels of light.

Their sin made themselves unclean, and because we had partaken of their false gospel we also were unclean.

7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we[b] do not lose those things we worked for, but that we[c] may receive a full reward.9 Whoever transgresses[d] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

(2 John 1:9-11)

If it is a sin to bring a false doctrine and equally a sin to share in this false doctrine, then we need to confess that sin before Jesus and repent of it, and be washed by his wonderful blood and be restored to Him. For we not only shared in those evil deeds by staying in that place and giving them our tithe, and essentially our approval, but we supported them in word and deed by participating in the life of the church including communion.

Paul was adamant about ensuring you don’t participate in communion in an unworthy manner.

“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

(1 Corinthians 11:27-32)

In this same chapter just before he discusses communion, Paul also mentions heresies and divisions amongst the brethren.

For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

(1 Corinthians 11:18-19)

We participated in a communion of false believers preaching a false gospel and leading others astray. It was a synagogue of satan, or more pertinently, a church of satan (Rev. 3:9). We were not hearing the true gospel any more than we were loving each other and laying down our lives for each other. The blood of Christ was made to no effect, because there was no faith that all we needed to do was partake of His life. We were living sad religious lives led by angry, greedy religious men.

God has awakened our hearts to the gospel, has cleansed us in His life-giving blood and empowered us to live, pray, believe and trust in His provision and His grace for each and every day. THIS is the gospel, THIS is what brings the joy of the Lord, and THIS is what true communion with Christ is all about. We no longer have to strive to become members of the body of Christ, in Him and because of His sacrifice, His resurrection, we are made one.

A true believer will always love the brethren. They do not need to be harangued or attacked by preachers to do so. You know when you have spoken to another member of the body of Christ because there is that universal acknowledgement in the Spirit that here is another like unto ourselves who are united by the blood of Jesus. The love of God is in us because He loved us first and proved His love at the Cross. That love is shed abroad in our hearts and to our brethren and to the unsaved also upon we have great compassion as lost, as we once were ourselves.

No, the blood of Jesus is the ONLY thing which unites us as believers and that unification is present, eternal and functional wherever and whenever we find each other in this present darkness. Only a false gospel presented by messengers of Satan can erode and disrupt that unity. May it never be.

39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. ( Hebrews 10)

 

Much love,

 

Anita Brady

 

Prodigal at the Takeaway

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I saw my old friend Graham down at our local fish and chip shop the other day. My husband and I were in on a Friday night on our own for a change, the kids had all gone out, and we thought we would whoop it up and get some takeaway. I was talking to Steve about what looked nice, and glanced up suddenly and there to my surprise was Graham. For a brief moment I nearly forgot everything that had happened. The words were on the tip of my tongue except they weren’t released. “How are you Graham? Good to see you’.

Then I realised. Graham wasn’t allowed to talk to me. He attended a church which didn’t let him talk to people who had left. I wondered if Graham knew why he wasn’t talking to me. It was clear by his face – the jaw set, the eyes staring straight ahead, that expressionless yet so expressive look which I had come to connect with ‘them’ – that to talk to him would have caused him embarrassment. We hadn’t spoken in over ten years. But I couldn’t ask about his wife and children. I had to pretend that we didn’t know each other. Or care. It was ridiculous.

Yet, if I had spoken to Graham out of determination not to allow his scruples to affect me, I would have offended him, embarrassed him as well probably. He was the ‘weaker brother’ in this situation. I didn’t want to make him any more anxious and distressed than he obviously was. Nobody else in the shop, which was pretty crowded, would have seen his distress, but I knew from experience that his heart would have been pounding and his mind racing just because he was in the same room as us.

Of course, there was every possibility that he didn’t even see or recognise me. Graham was a bit vague like that. He was the absent-minded professor type. He was a very clever man and his mind was always on other things. But we had been friends. We had been friends before the takeover by the cult. We had used to sing, laugh, talk and enjoy church together. We even used to have meals together, our families, our kids, without the hard-faced, hard-heartedness which I was now confronted with.

Ironically, this shunning, this sword into the heart twisting and pulling, was being done without much forethought. For a man who was used to thinking a lot, he had become a zombie; a Stepford Wife. He was married to the church, his wife came second, his children third, his friends a very faint fourth if there was such a position. And God? God was the elders of the church and Graham was being a good Christian. He was doing what he was told, and what he thought was necessary for our salvation, in the hope that we would one day come back to the fold and once again submit ourselves to the insanity which had forced us out in the first place. Yet, Graham would not have read his bible, would not have realised that this sort of discipline was reserved for the heartless, wicked, rebellious person who had refused God time and again and refused to change their ways when they had been repeatedly confronted. Graham thought that he was helping us see the error of our ways, he didn’t realise that we had left because of the error of the ways of the church he attended. He was told we were no longer ‘of them’, therefore, he treated us the way so many of his type treated us. He was the superior person for removing himself from us. We were to be treated as though we were not even present.

So Steve and I bought our fish and chips and went and sat in the car and ate, laughed, talked and lamented about poor old Graham. Graham took his takeaway, and sat with his little boy looking out at the sea, on a bench by himself, lonely and devoid of the presence of God, like all rebellious men are, yet still thinking that he had done the right thing by pretending we didn’t exist.

It’s strange, I would have thought people like this were hardly rebellious. They were always being accused of such by the men who led them. But this was because the men who led them were rebellious. There was an ‘older son’ mentality at this church. It looked down it’s nose at those who did not ‘get it’ and became envious and jealous of everything the younger son appeared to be getting which by their reckoning was completely undeserved. Yet they were like dogs in the manger. They didn’t want what the Father had given them, but they didn’t want anyone else to get it either. No feasting, no rejoicing, no love over the return of the prodigal, or concern for the lost who are perishing, just hard, arrogant, patronising refusal to let God melt their hearts. Rebellion does that to people. It hardens their hearts and makes them angry and bitter.

Graham and his friends would attend church that Sunday and believe all was right with the world. We wouldn’t attend church at all, but we would pray with our kids, read our bibles, and be free of the religious accoutrement which men like Graham take for granted. We would not be yelled at by controlling, perfidious men with greedy hearts and ugly manners. We would not join with those who destroyed marriages and families and praised God all in the same week. We would remove ourselves, yet our punishment was to be bereft of people we cared about and loved. This was their way of telling us we were wrong. If they thought this was going to make a difference, they were right.
We would be wounded because of the terrible loss and because of the terrible pain which the loss created. But we would not regret having walked away from the cult, and we would not regret having the scales lifted from our eyes and the hardness from our hearts. We would know for sure that our lives were changed. Graham would continue coldly ignoring friends who had left. He would think all was the way it should be. But he would be ignoring the still small voice of God in his own heart which told him that it really wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. He would become, had become, spiritually atrophied.

We love you Graham. We won’t forget you. We mourn the loss, we miss the friendship and we hope you leave the pigsty before it’s too late.

Enjoy your fish and chips matey, but we hope fervently you don’t miss out on the marriage supper of the lamb.