Door to Door Cult Service

 

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We keep getting visits from the members of the local Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall.

Just about every month they show up in our street, which is pretty long. They turn up in the middle of the day, and the houses they don’t hit during the week, they come back on Saturday morning and try again. What amazes me is that they just keep coming despite getting the same responses from the same houses every time. They continually knock on our door despite the numbers of times I have asked them to take us off their list. We are not interested, we do not want to read their literature since we already know what it says, and we know for a fact that engaging with these people in conversation would be redundant. Trying to get a cult member to see the light is an exercise in futility. Only God is able to reach them and often they need to be at the end of their strength in order to do that. Been there, not interested in revisiting.

My son opened the door to them the other day. He asked me what he should say to them, I just told him not to bother trying to witness to them, just tell them we are not interested. However, a few minutes later after I thought they had gone, they were still there trying to shove tracts in his face, and I heard the sentence “we would just like to share with you from this literature”. He had not asked them in, and since it is still my house I would have objected anyway, but I came to the door and was, frankly, a little too brisk with them. “No, you will not be sharing anything today, now you need to leave the house, off you go” I told them. They looked a bit shocked to be dismissed in such a fashion, but left quickly thank heavens.

We tend to see people from cults as being carriers of doctrines of demons and also of carrying some rather nasty spirits themselves as they walk around. If you open yourself to darkness it will come in without a second invitation. I know from experience what some of my former friends became upon having spent only a few months at BCF. They were not the same people they were, they were darker, without peace, self-focused and easily irritated. In fact, everyone, including us, became shadows of their former selves.

A woman I knew from my Pentecostal days, Jan Groenveld, now gone to be with the Lord, spent a great deal of time setting up a website in Australia to inform others about the tactics and beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses as she used to belong to them herself. Jan was tireless in her efforts to inform and expose this organisation. Yet despite the work of people such as Jan, the organisation appears to be growing bigger. The enemy is clearly delighted at the success of his campaign. If it’s not the Mormons, it’s the J.W.s, or the Scientologists, they are all the same in their approach to the truth and their rejection of those who question their beliefs. If once you ever get inside any of these cults, they will treat you all like worker ants. You have no rights, no personal life and no mind of your own, you must do as you are told and people do. It is the methods they use to get people to accept them as genuine kind and good Christians which upset me the most.

The whole concept of door knocking is to make disciples. They are not interested in asking questions about their own faith or discussing their own doubts in a realistic way, this would be akin to committing spiritual suicide. They are not open to your opinion or view and once they know that you are a committed Christian their only concern is to get you to change your ideas to conform with theirs. This is an insidious and unstoppable religious spirit which is determined to break and destroy the faith of genuine believers and to ensnare as many people as possible into their cult. If they can’t cause you to doubt they will dismiss you as quickly as most people dismiss them. It is a cold-hearted and unfeeling spirit which quenches the life in people.

When I was a much younger Christian, I used to try and talk to them, discuss their beliefs pleasantly and try and witness to them. I was an abject failure. After having exited a cult myself, I understand their thinking a whole lot better. I also understand that it is almost impossible to try and talk these people out of their faith. It would have to be the exception to come across a J.W. who is wavering in their own belief and the fact that they go about two by two, an older J.W. with a younger would ensure that anybody who is susceptible to doubt would be kept out of the conversation by the older and more experienced person.

Trying to talk to somebody who is deceived by doctrines of demons is very difficult. It is even more difficult when you know that these people are not friends who you just happened to meet at the local shopping mall, or even invited into your home to have a coffee. No, these people are trained in more ways than one. They are told how to witness, they are told what to say, they are informed about all of the ways in which they will be responded to by the world, and any ‘persecution’ ie shows of rejection or worse by those on the other side of the door would also be dealt with the JW way.

So what you are dealing with is an organised and systematic assault (although they wouldn’t think of it that way) which is not to be dismissed lightly. Having spent many years in a controlling religious cult, I am probably not the person to be talking to about witnessing to cult members. I have tried talking to my former friends who are still in the cult I belonged to. They do not want to listen to me, I am considered to be apostate and therefore a bad influence, and this is what happens to all who leave a cult. You are shunned and ignored and treated with contempt.

So when I see Jehovah’s Witnesses, I do not get warm fuzzy feelings inside hoping that I may open up their eyes to the truth of the real gospel. I am afraid it takes a whole lot more than good intentions to talk to these people and most Christians do not understand the strength and depth of the delusion they are under.

I have tried being polite and indifferent, and a lot of the time I am just annoyed. They come into my house despite the many ways I show them I am not interested, and on one occasion I had a bevy of women standing at my front garden gate actually yelling at me while I am standing inside my house. Was this designed to make me feel embarrassed so that I would come out and talk to them? I am afraid all this does is upset me. Nobody with that kind of rudeness is welcome in my home even to discuss the gospel, and I am not at liberty to discuss the gospel with those who do not ‘have an ear to hear’.

So while many Christians have the opinion that Jehovah’s Witnesses should be given every opportunity to hear the gospel, it is important to remember that in actual fact the witnessing days when they are at your front door is probably the time they are the least open to the gospel. They are taught how to think they are told what to say and they have their very large and abusive organisation behind them. Knowing what it is like to live in these types of environments, I can say that there is a very great deal of fear involved. You may not be conscious of it, but you do what you are told to do because you are too scared not to. You think that if you don’t God will somehow punish you.

My husband worked for a man once years ago who was a Jehovah’s Witness. He was a very kind and friendly man and once he knew that my husband and I were Christians, he offered to have us over for dinner in his house and to debate the subject of the Trinity. We were more than happy to show him the verses in our bibles which told us that the Holy Spirit was a person and not an impersonal force, and spent a couple of hours after dinner talking with them about it. My husband had written down a lot of his notes and later gave them to his boss. This was in the days before personal computers and iphones, so sending information by email wasn’t a common thing back then. His boss was quite glad to be able to read his notes, but I don’t think either he or his wife ever left the organisation. The trouble was, he used to be a Catholic and the JWs entered his home one day when he was in a very difficult time of personal crisis and because he was vulnerable, they were able to get him to commit himself to their organisation. That is the way cults work. They love bomb you, convince you they are the answer to all your problems and then after the honeymoon period, the hard work starts.

While my husband was able to be a consistent witness to this man and his wife, he was not able to have as much influence as he would have liked. We left much the wiser when it came to talking to cult members, ironically we became cult members ourselves shortly afterwards. So it is very important to remember how easy it is to be deceived and entrapped by lies and false gospels. The most important thing to do is to make sure we know the gospel ourselves, and to keep reading the word of God on a regular basis in order to remind ourselves what it actually says. This way there is less likelihood of being deceived by the enemy who loves to question the word of God and get us to do the same.

Bless you.

Steve and Anita Brady

 

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.

Church Hierachy and Invalidation

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Invalidation can come in many forms.

You can be ignored or you can become enmeshed.  You can be attacked or you can be minimised. Whichever way you are invalidated it is always abuse.  It is abuse because you are being told that you do not matter, that your opinion, your personhood has no import, no impact on the people around you, that you are in effect invisible. You are being abused because the person abusing is the person with the influence and authority.  There is a power imbalance.  There is nothing more damaging to a human being than to be informed by the human beings they value the most that they are themselves value-less.  It creates a deep feeling of insignificance, powerlessness and depression.  Unfortunately, in churches, it also gives people the erroneous idea that God himself disapproves of them because the hierarchy disapproves of them.  This is the idea.  In the most abusive environments, the hierarchy stands in for God and therefore any communication with the congregation is purported to be from God himself.  If you buy into this idea you start to believe that the human being you support as pastor or elder is the conduit through which your relationship to God is realised.  Their acceptance becomes God’s acceptance, their disapproval becomes God’s disapproval.

Different church hierarchies tend to use different methods.

A patriarchal and authoritarian structure has more heavy handed methods of invalidating.  Generally they choose to invalidate the opposition without by isolating their group and any criticism from those within by abusing their members.  Women in general and wives in particular are seen as a threat in these structures.  They are a threat because the wives are far more perceptive than their husbands, and they have an intimate relationship with them.  They know all their dirty little secrets. So in order to control them women will be invalidated by being handed a gender role defined, they decree, by scripture.  Often these structures claim to be ‘the truth’ and they will therefore invalidate all other denominations as ‘other’, or in some cases ‘irrelevant’.  John Macarthur recently decreed anyone not reformed as ‘basically irrelevant’ and another reformed pastor added ‘and wrong’.  This kind of fascist approach to faith is not what we see in scripture.  The disciples knew the truth, they preached a true gospel and they condemned preachers of a false gospel, but they did not murder those who opposed them as Calvin did, or shut down genuine questioners in the church.  It seems all of Calvin’s children have a similar mindset to himself minus the bloodshed.  But this is just one denomination.  We have seen similar attitudes in other types of churches, notably those who embrace Latter Rain theology. But plenty of Baptist or even Pentecostal churches have this kind of heavy handed approach.  There are always of course the independent groups or minor cults. It seems to come down to the spirit behind the church itself rather than the denomination, but there certainly are some denominations which lend themselves to this attitude.

On the opposite end of the scale, the emerging seeker-sensitive church takes a different approach.  Their attitude to dissenters is just as self-righteous and just as invalidating but they are often much more subtle.  Rather than take on other Christians they are apt to take on ‘the world’ although how much change they are actually effecting with their political and social activism is yet to be ascertained. This is their stated aim.  They are not interested in being changed from within by Christ, they are more interested in changing things around them; in particular political or social problems such as poverty which they say is the responsibility of the church.  It is easy to see that their theology is skewed in this way in order to avoid actually being accountable to other believers and to God.  If they keep the focus on changing the world, they appear to be both engaged in the world and therefore powerful, and also ‘doing what Jesus did’ ie. feeding the poor. What they inevitably refuse to accept is that Jesus’ message was not ‘feed the poor’ it was ‘be saved from out of this perverse generation’. That has always been God’s message to His people and to the rest of the world.  He came to save our souls, not feed our bodies, although obviously He has also promised to feed us as a good Father and a good Shepherd.  For God though, relationship with Himself through His Son is the essence of His message.

In our experience the emerging approach to any opposition or even casual questioning is to either pretend you don’t exist or to embrace you in a warm fuzzy ‘we love you anyway’ conversation.  Here I should point out that others including ourselves have also experienced rudeness, rejection and shunning from individuals in the emerging church.  So they are not without their clumsy and immature attempts to avoid dealing with questioners.   The face they present to the world is a much more benevolent one.  They want to disarm  you and help you to understand that they are not about conflict, they are about peacemaking. So the conversation becomes moot and you are left hanging, wondering what just happened.  In effect, this is a form of enmeshment and gaslighting.  They convince you that you are the problem not them yet the genius behind their approach is that they maintain an almost hypnotic insistence that they are simply interested in embracing your views along with everyone else’s.  It is impossible to argue with somebody who refuses to recognise the differences between two opposing ideas. We are all the same, each person is valid, and in this apparently egalitarian theology what they are actually doing is invalidating everyone. Its like that statement ‘everybody’s special’ which essentially nullifies the meaning of special – that which embodies the idea of different, or out of the ordinary.  If you change the meaning of special so that it actually means ‘the same’, then the word has lost its specific meaning. Covertly changing the meaning of language has always been one of the methods that cults and or political movements have gained traction with their ideas.  It’s a classic bait and switch. It not only destabilises their followers, it confuses the enemy, and produces cognitive dissonance, an important ingredient in manipulating the masses.

In many ways, the emerging church theology as a whole is about enmeshment.  They wish to do away with opposition entirely. They don’t like to declaim their beliefs, they do not have a ‘theology’, there is no right and wrong and everyone’s ideas are valid. Or so they say.  In actual fact they are invalidating not just individuals but whole faith systems by homogenising all faiths into one.  There are no more boundaries there is just this apparently loving whole which revolves around….well they don’t like to define what it revolve around but often it is their Jesus, who in fact is not the biblical Jesus but a synthetic amalgamation of eastern and western mysticism which is embodied in an impotent, unilateral Jesus.  In fact, this Jesus is the forerunner to the Antichrist who will be worshipped by all religions.  If you buy into the emerging church anti-doctrine doctrines, you will inevitably lose any biblical perspective that you originally had.  The emerging church is actually a political tool of the movers and shakers of this world which uses the Marxist and Hegelian doctrines and methods of social and political change.  Hegel stated:

(the state)‘has the supreme right against the individual, whose supreme duty is to be a member of the State… for the right of the world spirit is above all special privileges (source)

This is a quote from the same source above which describes Hegelian philosophy.

The Hegelian dialectic is the framework for guiding our thoughts and actions into conflicts that lead us to a predetermined solution. If we do not understand how the Hegelian dialectic shapes our perceptions of the world, then we do not know how we are helping to implement the vision. When we remain locked into dialectical thinking, we cannot see out of the box.

Hegel’s dialectic is the tool which manipulates us into a frenzied circular pattern of thought and action. Every time we fight for or defend against an ideology we are playing a necessary role in Marx and Engels’ grand design to advance humanity into a dictatorship of the proletariat. The synthetic Hegelian solution to all these conflicts can’t be introduced unless we all take a side that will advance the agenda. The Marxist’s global agenda is moving along at breakneck speed. The only way to completely stop the privacy invasions, expanding domestic police powers, land grabs, insane wars against inanimate objects (and transient verbs), covert actions, and outright assaults on individual liberty, is to step outside the dialectic. This releases us from the limitations of controlled and guided thought.

The emerging church above anything is a political force being used by the powers that be to manipulate and control the Christian church.  We are being manipulated into taking a political stand when Jesus did not tell us to be political.  His kingdom is not of this world, and when He returns very soon to claim His own, He will not be making any political statements.  His is the power and the glory forever and ever amen.  Therefore, our eyes should be on the returning King and not on changing the world which needs must deteriorate.  We cannot stop the sinking ship.  We are urged to love our neighbours, to minister to our brothers and sisters, and to love our enemies.  We do not gain anything in God’s Kingdom by endorsing political manoeuvres by religious leaders or by fighting social battles to help feed the poor. Yet this is the agenda of the emerging church.  You don’t count unless you are poor and either unchurched or of a different religion.  People of this nature are, by definition, more virtuous and need greater recognition and help than any Western Christian.  Yet the very people who espouse this idea are western Christians.  What is this but invalidation on a mass, and political scale.

In essence, and this is an exceedingly ironic fact, the emerging church purports to be the antidote to the patriarchal and authoritarian church theology and methods of preceding ages.  The leaders present themselves as non-authoritarian yet wise. However they still lead megachurches as professional Christians.  Their target is the younger generation who have not yet been established in traditional theology and are still easily persuaded.  They convince even older Christians that the idea of an imposing and angry God who ‘murdered his son on the cross in an act of barbarism’ is not biblical, that God is in essence Father Christmas and does not want to punish anybody in an eternal hell.  They therefore, in order to uphold this ‘theology’ need to invalidate the historical and biblical Christ and remake Him into a clappy-happy loving peace-nik neo hippy who embraces everybody and does not impose any expectation upon his people.

In essence, the emerging church invalidates everyone who does not agree with their version of the truth.  This is the same problem any hierarchical system has, they just have different agendas.  While many hierarchical church systems preach the gospel, they present a straw man god who is the ‘angry god’ that emerging church leaders love to impune.

There you have two sides to the argument.  The dialect is complete and  you must choose which one you embrace.

As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.  Jesus Christ is neither a hippy nor a policeman, He is the Son of God, himself God and the creator of the universe, the saviour of all mankind who brings to us the gift of eternal life.  He neither condemns us nor tells us we don’t have to change, nor does he endorse socio-political ideologies.  He is not a change agent, He enables us to be born again.  He does not change our flesh, He makes us wholly new.  Neither approach is right, both approaches invalidate the individual, the theology of the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ and blaspheme Jesus himself and His cross.

God does not condone abuse, nor does He endorse false doctrine.  A false teacher is twice accursed and their end is destruction, and we are told not to even greet such a one.  It is starting to look as though the life of a genuinely born-again believer and son of God in this world is that of a weary but determined soldier fighting the final battle before the return of Jesus Christ.

My encouragement is to stand fast, hold your ground and resist the Devil and he will flee.  That is our battle, that is our calling.  Jesus is coming!  Hallelujah!

 

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.

Family Privilege

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Parents who provide consistent affection, emotional and physical safety, boundaries, limits and expectations, opportunities, role modeling, belonging, safety, unconditional love and spiritual values foster the healthy development of Family Privilege. However, in spite of our rhetoric about the family values and the value of families, Family Privilege is largely invisible to children and young people who benefit from it. Like the wind, which is unseen but powerful, Family Privilege has a profound impact.

John Seita “Reclaiming Family Privilege” (https://www.questia.com/magazine/1P3-2942825771/reclaiming-family-privilege)

 

There seems to be an idea that regularly surfaces that people who are estranged need to ‘get over their past’, make or receive amends for things that have happened and get on with it. Sometimes people who have elected to estrange are perceived as being “ruthless, unkind, damaged, lacking in compassion, unwilling to forgive and forget –  unwilling to go the distance”.

What is regularly overlooked is that for some people who are estranged the problems didn’t necessarily start in childhood nor did they end there. Adults may be subject to ongoing toxic stress and trauma and just because they are older it doesn’t mean that it hurts any less.

Fiona McColl – E-stranged.com (http://e-stranged.com/blog/tag/family-estrangement/page/4/)

 

10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.

(Psalm 27)

We have been reading and researching on and around this topic for the last dozen years but it wasn’t until I read John Seita’s quote above about family privilege on Fiona McColl’s  blog that I realised how profound this concept is. Those  who have healthy, or at the very least non-abusive, families do not even realise what privileges they have in the community.  And that is as it should be.  It is only abused children who sense deeply that they have been bereft of something important.  Those children who have no sense of belonging, although they may not have been able to identify it, will be able to recognise that belonging in healthy family dynamics around them.  It will resonate with them at a profound level and they will carry that pain with them to adulthood and beyond.

This is actually a good thing.  For when those children grow up, this ‘knowing’ will be the catalyst and motivator to seek out reasons for and answers to their deep seated distress.  If we don’t recognise what constitutes normal healthy and good family dynamics we will never understand why the dysfunctional and abusive doesn’t quite sit right. We know at a visceral level but until we know with our hearts and minds we will continue to pine for what is rightfully ours.

Unfortunately, it often does take many decades before adult children of dysfunctional families discover what is wrong.  They will have always thought it was them, but usually something will trigger an awakening in which they suddenly see themselves in a different light. Sometimes it will be through therapy, sometimes through their own research, sometimes it will take a traumatic event but they will start to see that their issues have a much broader landscape than they ever dared to imagine.

In the same way that family privilege is camouflaged to the members of that family, familial abuse is considered normal and the deep down shame and guilt that members carry is often mitigated by mentally and verbally excusing the abuse in some way both to yourself and outsiders. Should anyone else try and point it out, the members of the abusive family will defend their family dysfunction to the bitter end. “Nobody is perfect”, and “but at least they provided food on the table and a roof over our heads” or “they weren’t that bad” are some of the extenuations we tell ourselves. Yet these statements in themselves are evidence that there is a problem.  As we stated above, children in privileged families don’t need to excuse anything.

As Fiona McColl points out, for many who come from abusive families of origin there is an ongoing problem; not just in the way they cope with the abuse from their families but because they continue the pattern and cycle of abuse with significant others (spouses, partners, friends). Until this recognition hits and we seek out knowledge, support and help we will continue to see these isues as either insignficant or somehow our own fault.

In our case, it wasn’t until we left an abusive cult ‘church’ which we had attended for 15 years that we realised that the problems we faced in the cult were exactly the same problems we had faced growing up. It wasn’t until we woke up to what was going on in the cult and asked ourselves how it was that we allowed all of this to happen and thought it was normal that we looked at our lives as a whole and saw the patterns.

To those who ask, and it is a common question, how normal intelligent and otherwise sensible people manage to get themselves involved in cults I have this to say.  Read John Seir’s quote above.  It is hardly revelatory, these aspects of family have been recognised for centuries.  We all know why family is a good thing, they have your back, they are a safe place to fall, a place where you belong.  If you don’t have a safe place in  your family then where do you have it?  We have it in God.  Many will go to God for support, love, encouragement, a safe place.  And scripture is clear, ‘when my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will take me up’ (Psalm 27 v 10).  So we go to church.  A good church functions like a good family.  It provides everything that a fallen, broken family doesn’t.  And of course a privileged christian family in a privileged christian spiritual family or church is quite something to behold.  Here, and nowhere else, do we see the way family is supposed to exist, living in both the joy of physical closeness and oneness with God.

A cult is what happens when we see a ‘form of godliness’ (2Timothy 3) without the power.  A cult is a mile wide and an inch deep.  Their love is ‘love bombing’ it is not real.  Their closeness is based on fear and trauma bonding not freedom and their sense of belonging is based on secrecy and punishment not genuine acceptance.  For those who have come from abusive and dysfunctional families looking for the genuine article it is very easy to be deceived. They have had no experience of the real thing so they tend to move towards what they think is normal.  However their ‘normal’ is in fact dysfunction.

A cult doesn’t look like a cult on the outside, and its members, because they reside in a dysfunctional spiritual family, don’t recognise the abuse from the inside either. Nobody finds out about a cult until somebody who left talks about what went on.  In order to do that they fist have to wake up.  When they do they begin to hold the abusers accountable.  Then the fireworks begin.  It is the wilful, narcissistic malice of the cult leaders and their cronies which both drives and contains the group.  It isn’t until you fall foul of these wolves that you realise the kind of group you were in.  This is a place of deliberate deception.  If you wonder how anyone could stay in a cult, or join one, recognise if nothing else that deliberate deception is demonic in origin and keeps a strong hold on its victims.  Those who step into these groups do not choose to join cults, they desire to be accepted, loved and embraced.  They are looking for a place of belonging, and God’s family does provide that.  It is only when sin, the wickedness of the false shepherds and false Christians, gets a hold on a group that you end up with a cult.

It has been over ten years since we left the cult and embarked upon a life changing journey to examine ourselves, our families of origin, our own family dynamics, our marriage dynamics and our personal issues.  We have made every effort to align ourselves with not only God’s word on all of these things but to apportion responsibility where it actually resides and not heap everything upon our own heads. Not even God blames anyone for something they did not do. Amazingly though, Jesus took other peple’s sins against us to the cross as well as our own sins. He died for those abuses that others perpetrated against us. It is because of this that we can understand that becoming part of God’s household where He himself is the Father is taking us into totally unexplored territory. Our family privilege comes from being part of the body of Christ.  It is both an inherited privilege and one we learn through faith.  We don’t immediately recover from what we experienced in our biological family when we become born again, but knowing what happened and seeing the truth of how we were damaged can give us a new appreciation for the fatherhood of God and the ways of His household.

One of the biggest problems with Christians coming into the Kingdom of God and learning about how God’s family operates is that more often than we would like, the ones trying to teach us about Kingdom principles have themselves come from dysfunctional backgrounds and have not done the work needed to free themselves from their own unhealthy ways of relating. For example, when I was 19 and suffering from panic attacks I looked to other Christians to help me deal with it.  I had become a Christian myself at 13, but living in a household antagonistic to faith of any kind and not having any other support from Christians outside my family, I ended up backslidden and trying desperately to get my family’s approval thereby causing myself much grief through compromise.

So I went and talked to a Pastor’s wife I had met briefly through a friend of mine.  She herself had come from an abusive dysfunctional family and though I didn’t know it her own family were not coping either. Pastor’s kids I have known have generally ended up pretty screwed up. It seems leaders’ families get the brunt not only of the general family dysfunction but the dysfunction brought on by religious duties overriding family needs.  So, here was I, a total emotional mess due to my upbringing trying to get some much needed spiritual and familial support from a spiritual ‘mother’ but I ended up inheriting not only my own biological family issues but many of hers.

Not only was the pastor’s family something of a mess but they were not able to recognise that my own familial issues were similar to theirs.  We focused on things, good things, like baptism in water and in the Spirit and bible studies, getting involved in church and so on.  While these things helped me progress somewhat in my walk with God, they did not address the core issues which were causing my panic attacks.  It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I realised my panic attacks were a result of my upbringing and could not therefore be fixed with just prayer or bible study or memorising scriptures or going to church.  There needed to be a painful awakening to what was broken in my family and therefore in myself.  For however much parents want to blame their children for their children’s issues, there is no getting away from the fact that these children are the way they are because they were raised by their dysfunctional parents.

Any child, regardless of their innate personality is going to be affected by their family environment in profound and far-reaching ways.  These issues are generational to the extent that they remain unrecognised or unresolved but they can be changed and blocked from going any further.  This has been the intent in our family.  By recognising what had gone before it is much easier to address what is happening now, be accountable for how you have raised your family and make an effort to talk to your children, repent, ask for forgiveness and discuss what is happening.

Then you will be able to move from briar to myrtle, from the curse of sin to the blessings of God.  This alone is the privilege of the inheritance of the children of Abraham.

Anita Brady

 

 

 

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.