How Do Normal People End Up In A Cult?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Advertisements

Mind Washing

swimming-pool-1229130__340.jpg

 

We use our imaginations all the time.

And we don’t think anything of it… pardon the pun.

We have been told since we were children that using our imaginations is a great thing.  Even Sesame Street told us to do it.  Willy Wonka told us that living in our imagination we would be free.  But he was a fashion challenged recluse with the moral compass of a sewer rat so we will give ourselves permission to discard his advice.

We use our imaginations in the same way a wind surfer uses his sailboard.  We know where we want to go, we just make our thoughts go in that direction.  I remember as a child reading a book by Monica Dickens, the granddaughter of Charles Dickens.  She was writing a semi-autobiographical account of the various jobs she had had as a child and she talked about the ‘endless possibilities of the inside of one’s own head’.  That quote stuck with me because it resonated.  As a child, I spent most of my free time either reading or imagining other places where I would not have to face the daily pain I lived with. It is where I learned to hide my true thoughts and desires, and in fact to hide my true self.  It is where in fact I found that I could be totally at peace because nobody else could control me there, I was king of my own thoughts.

The only trouble with imagination is that it is driven by our hearts and if our hearts are corrupt then so our imagination will be. I was not saved at that point, so my thoughts were corrupt.  But I had developed a stronghold there almost literally.  So much so that when I was much older and living in a cult, that stronghold became even moreso my place of refuge. God had been replaced by evil overlords claiming to be his representatives.  So when it came time to recognise that this stronghold was in fact defiling me and was not God’s will for my life, the struggle to let go was enormous.  It wasn’t until I began to experience physical reactions to the many emotional struggles I had in my imagination that I realised what it was doing to me.  My mind was not just a stronghold, it became a ‘mighty tower’ the very thing that scripture tells us is the place that God is supposed to inhabit. I had made an idol out of my imagination.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.

Proverbs 18:10

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Psalm 91:2

I was doing some research on witchcraft recently and read something which really piqued my interest.  I was intrigued by a video by a Christian lady who had been a witch before she was saved. This lady explained how she used to work and I thought I would just check out whether this was real or not. I would not encourage visits to occult websites by the way, they are not somewhere anyone should spend a lot of time. A witch’s blog was describing that two of the main ingredients needed to cast spells are strong emotions and intent.  Apparently, demonic forces can be summoned simply by these two things and coupled with the words which are used, curses and spells can be cast over others.  Now the extent to which this is successful (or even viable) is beyond my ability or my desire to prove, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this was the case.  When Trump came to power in the U.S., there were a bunch of witches who used pictures of him coupled with various wiccan accoutrements to curse his person and presidency.   I would imagine there was a great deal of intense emotion and intent behind those spells.

Imagination often elicits strong emotion, and of course we use intent to control our imaginations.  We picture what we want to picture in our minds and make the characters say and do what we desire.  It is a potent mix, and one which human beings have used to their destruction and blessing. The imagination can create horrific scenarios as well as things which are of great benefit to ourselves and others.

Scripture gives us a great deal of direction when it comes to our thoughts.  Romans 12:2 tells us not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can know the good, perfect and acceptable will of God.  In fact, we are also urged to ‘have the mind of Christ’ by Paul.

For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16

Romans 8:6 tells us that to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  That right there friends is the prescription to end depression.  I don’t say this lightly because I have struggled with depression since I was a child.  But I also know that anti-depressants are not going to fix what ails us as human beings.  We are carnally minded if we don’t have the mind of Christ and if we are not born again.  We need to be cleansed by the washing of the water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26).

The word of God calls us to be sober-minded, to be single-minded and to be sound-minded.  We are to be of the same mind towards one another and to be like-minded and to set our minds on things that are above. These are all clear and direct calls to train our minds and our imaginations to godliness.

Further, we are told that we are to bring every thought to captivity to Christ.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

2 Corinthians 10

These are serious words to consider and digest.  Our imaginations are not our own, although we often keep our deepest imaginings secret from others.  In truth, much of what goes on in our imaginations if it were brought to light would be pretty shameful.  I know that my imagination has been having a field day over the years until God showed me only recently that in fact we can be defiled by our thoughts.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

Romans 8:5-7

If you do a word study of defilement in the bible, you will see that in the Old Testament there seem to be three main ways you could be defiled, through dead bodies, through blood and through idol worship.  There were other ways which involved mixture and eating wrong foods as well.  But in the New Testament, Jesus said that it was not what went into a man that defiled him but what was in his heart.

When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: 15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”

17 When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. 18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” 20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Mark 7

As you can see, evil thoughts come from the heart of a man, or his mind.  We can be defiled by the sins which occur in our imaginations.  Jesus told us that even if a man lusts after a woman in his heart he has already committed adultery or fornication with her. This is powerful stuff.  It means that the Bible is telling us something that even practitioners of occult works understand and use to their own and other people’s detriment.  If we think a thing as far as God is concerned it is already done.  If our intentions are to sin and we imagine that sin and presumably ‘feel’ that sin, then we have sinned.

Therefore, imagination is a potent tool which is not to be toyed with.  Nor can we own our imaginations and claim that we can play around inside our own minds without being accountable to God for what passes through them or what stays and is employed by us to act out various fantasies.

Every thought leads to an action.  Even imaginary ones.  Our actions may be those of omission rather than commission.  For example, if you are spending so much time imagining revenge on an enemy and not giving your attention to things that require it, you will make mistakes, miss things, not do your work properly, or even cause an accident.  I can’t tell you the numbers of times I have been mentally absent whilst driving because I was imagining a conversation in my head and not paying attention to the road.  In fact on one occasion, I ‘came to’ about ten minutes down the road and didn’t realise I had missed my turn off and took a second to realise where I was.  Now that is dangerous. I realised I had gone through several traffic lights and couldn’t even remember whether I had stopped at them or not.  What if I had run a red light?  Fortunately, it was a country road in the middle of the day so it was fairly quiet, but at peak hour?

Our imaginations can be used in godly ways.  Really though, it is probably better if we don’t spend too much time in our imagination at all.  In fact, even reading fiction can be a problem. We can lose ourselves in a novel, even a Christian one, and what we are doing is actually spending time in somebody else’s mind.  A creepy thought.  We might think that these are just words on a page, but actually they are creating something in our imaginations.  Our imaginations are powerful. Words are even more powerful. Both evoke emotions and change the way we think and act.  If we assume that we have ownership over both and don’t submit to the Word on these matters, we will not only allow sin to creep in and have power over us, we may even be walking into witchcraft without realising it.

People who have been through severe psychological trauma, whether that is brought on by physical, sexual or psychological abuse, will often ‘space out’, or disassociate at odd times. Psychologists claim that the mind can’t tolerate anything which is too overwhelming, especially if it is the mind of a child.  When things become too much to deal with our minds can shut off during those events and also afterwards when reminded of them. If the trauma is especially severe, the mind blanks out all memory of them. One of the things that can happen to trauma survivors is that they can space out via the use of their imaginations as I have just described.  While these behaviours can be understood in the light of what we have been through as children and as adults,  we can know that Jesus is able to help us in the midst of these episodes.  If we truly want to give him our lives and our whole being, body, mind, will and emotions, and that includes our imaginations, then He can both heal, renew, wash with His blood and change the way we think and the way we act.  This is both the reality and the hope we have as believers. It is one thing to recognise and understand why our minds and imaginations can be used to shield ourselves during an abusive episode, but we must remain vigilant once we realise what we are doing.  We are responsible for our thoughts and we can control them.

I don’t want anybody reading this to think that genuine soul and mind change is only true on paper.  It is real.  The key though is that only God can give us a revelation of how our imaginations can defile us.  Some things, like sexual sin, are obvious.  But other things, like using our imaginations to comfort or help us to deal with stress, triggers or other overwhelming things, need to be given to Jesus Christ along with the knowledge that “in the multitude of my anxieties within me , your comforts delight my soul”.  Psalm 94:19.

Jesus not only wants to deal with mind sin, he wants to wash our minds clean.  We used to be brainwashed in the cult.  That is the exposure to manipulation via words to think a certain way dictated to by other men or women.  Mind washing is the cleansing through the blood of Jesus and His Word, the healing of the effects of the sins of others and also the sins we continue to commit against ourselves and God.  Mind washing is imperative if you have been believing false doctrine for any length of time and especially so if it has changed the way you see God The Father, or Jesus.  Trauma can cause us to close off to God and believe He doesn’t care for us.  Those strongholds which form because we are shielding ourselves from the abuse of false doctrine can be empowered by demonic forces.  It feels like it is a safe place for us but in fact it is a prison.  Jesus told us He came to set the prisoners free and to heal the broken hearted (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1). It truly is the answer to the pain and brokenness we have experienced through the sins of others against  us.

Don’t use your imagination as a stronghold of comfort from suffering or as a mighty fortress against the enemy.  God alone has that right and place for His people.  If we name Jesus as the name above all names, and He is our Saviour, then we need to submit our imaginations to Him and allow Him to cleanse our minds.

Hallelujah.

 

Further Reading on this blog: By Hook or By Crook

 

 

 

Wake In Fright

hand

 

Thank God for Nightmares.

We have all had them. They come in different forms, with different subjects, but the common experience with nightmares is the shock, horror and fear that propels us to wake in fright, heart pounding. It usually takes us a few minutes to realise it was all a dream, a nightmare, and sometimes you need to actually get out of bed, walk around, make yourself a drink, sit and wake up properly before your brain gets a clue.

I don’t know how people without Jesus handle nightmares. All my children used to do is call out and either Steve and myself would run to them, pray over them and comfort them and they would go back to sleep. Sometimes it would take some time, but they would go back to sleep. If either Steve or myself woke up after a nightmare, we would pray for each other and the fear would go and peace would take over.

One night last year I was half asleep and suddenly woke up properly and the whole room was dark, as though there had been a blackout. But it wasn’t just dark, it was black, there was a presence in the room. The house we were in had had all kinds of weird anomalies and we were convinced that people who had rented the place previously were either witches or satanists. Doorways had appeared and disappeared, objects disappeared and reappeared practically before our eyes, we had plagues of fleas and ants and spiders, we had dog attacks, our cat died, people suddenly becoming loud and aggressive just as they walked past our house and then going back to normal once they were past, neighbours becoming hostile and aggressive and so many other things. We were convinced our neighbour was a witch, she was a deeply disturbed woman and her little boy used to laugh and cry hysterically when he went out to play. There were all sorts of strange things going on and we spent most of our time praying in tongues and just trying to get through the day. Of course we didn’t stay there, but it was the worst house we had ever been in.

But back to the ‘nightmare’, in the half-dream, half-waking experience I had, I could not move, but I could turn my head to see if Steve was awake, and I called out his name. Then I woke up properly and realised the presence had gone and the light in the bedroom was normal. It was horrible, and I will never forget it. Nightmares are the kinds of things we remember vividly, and some people are plagued with them frequently. To those ones I would counsel, call out to Jesus Christ, ask Him to save you, He is our Saviour and our protector against the darkness and our mortal enemy, Satan. You need to be born again and Jesus came to earth as a human being, indwelt by God, ‘The Word’ (see the gospel of John first chapter) in order to bear our sin, to become our sin, so that he may be sacrificed on our behalf so that we don’t have to bear the punishment of our sin. If you have not asked Jesus to save you and asked him to forgive you of your sin that sent him to the cross, you will not be received by God the father in heaven when you die. And it is this subject that I want to discuss.

Nightmares, no matter how bad they are, are simply a means that God uses to tell us that we have hope. Waking up from a nightmare has to be among one of life’s worst moments. If you have really really bad nightmares you know the horror and trauma that assails you while you are in them. But you have the blessed moment when you wake and realise it was not real, it was a dream. Fair enough, some people are still affected by the emotional torment of those nightmares, and some people simply can’t sleep because of them. But those people, in their waking moments still have hope. They can still go to Jesus and ask Him to heal them, to give them peace, to deliver them from the demons of their past and their inner minds. And He does, and He will.

We have hope.

Until we are on our deathbeds.

I am going to upload a video of the testimony of a woman who used to be a close friend of the satanist Anton Le Vey, the architect of America’s first Church of Satan. You can read about his life and career online, he was a pretty ugly character. He kept company with people like L. Ron Hubbard, also a satanist. Le Vey is reported to have ‘seen the light’ whilst on his deathbed. According to the woman in this video, satanists apparently revere death and consider it a great victory. What happened to Anton Le Vey apparently was not what he was expecting. He realised, to his great horror, that the nightmare was only just beginning and that he was not going to ever wake up from it. This is what hell is. Imagine your worst nightmare, and never being able to wake up from it. The horror, the pain and the trauma never ends, and there is no escape. Ever. For eternity.

It would take too long to list all the scriptural passages that refer to hell. I will include a fairly comprehensive article which will do that instead. To read more on what the bible says about hell go here.

The one verse which has always struck me as the most instructive is from Matthew 10:28.

27 “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10 NKJV

Even when Jesus is telling us about hell and God’s judgement, he is immediately afterwards giving us reassurance that we are valuable to him. He is giving us comfort in the midst of our fear, although it is fear of man that he is warning us against. It is better to fear God Jesus says, because God’s judgement is final and the wages of sin is eternal death.

This is why nightmares are such a vivid illustration of what awaits the unrepentant sinner, the one who ignores God’s grace. Today is the day of salvation.

Next time you have a nightmare, remember that. Remember that Jesus has given us today, the morning, the light, in which we can know the truth, and repent and be saved from eternal nightmares without end and with no escape.

Any unsaved person reading this will immediately try and dismiss this. Many so called Christians will also say that a loving God would not condemn anyone to hell, but Scripture is very clear on this subject. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it false. But God IS loving. He IS merciful, which is why He has provided a way of escape. His escape is now, while you are alive. We sometimes wonder why the very worst sinners, the mass murderers or the genocidal maniacs end up living such long lives. It is because their judgement awaits them at the end of their lives, and God is merciful to all. The rain falls on the just and the unjust, his mercy is fair and equitable to all, everyone, no matter how terrible their sin is able to be forgiven and will find a place in heaven with God. But make no mistake, a person who does not accept the salvation found in Christ will not find a place in heaven.

Our repentance needs to be true. Jesus said many will come to Him in that day, the day of the Lord (judgement day) and say ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we do this in your name, didn’t we do that in your name’, and God will say ‘depart from me I never knew you’. (Matthew 7:3) We can’t kid God. You can’t say “well, I believe” and then go on with your life as though your life is still your own. God requires not just faith, but our whole life.

25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Matthew 16:25 NKJV

 

Yet, as we give Him our lives, He gives us – in exchange – His life. Who wouldn’t rather have eternal life, the life of Christ himself than our own miserable and petty lives filled with fear and hatred and anger. We have nothing to offer God, yet He gladly receives what we have. Like the widow with two mites who gave everything she had.  (Mark 12: 41-44). Jesus told his disciples that her gift was greater than a wealthy man’s gift because she gave everything. Always in the Kingdom of God, it is the humble offering of ourselves, as little as we are, that impresses and pleases God. When Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) tried to pretend they were like the widow and gave ‘everything they had’ after selling some real estate, they were struck dead by God for lying. They could have just given what they wanted to give and kept the rest and not lied about it. Nobody was forcing them to give anything, but they wanted others to believe that they were humble and righteous, and it was this ugly and self-loving deception which caused their deaths.

So next time you wake in fright, and then feel the wave of relief when you realise that it was just a dream, remember that while it is still day you have the opportunity to make that relief an eternal reality. You will never have to face eternal torment and death if you make the decision now to accept the salvation and love that Jesus offers us.

God bless you now and forever more.

 

 

Further reading on this blog:  ‘Hell, Who Goes There‘.

 

Why Everybody Hates You

 

cross

John 7:7

The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil.

John 15:18

If the world hates you, you know it hated me before it hated you.

John 15:19

If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 17:14

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

1 John 3:13

Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.

1 John 2:15

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 3:14

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.

For the last twelve years or so, Steve and I have spent long hours talking and making sense of the world we entered after leaving the cult.  The world has changed markedly and continues to do so at a rate of knots.  But even more disturbing is the fact that the church has also changed.  We understood that we came out of a place which was an exception to the rule.  Once we wrapped our minds around the concept of the term ‘cult’, we expected to find different behaviour in other churches.  We have been deeply concerned  to find that in fact, much of the behaviour we saw in the cult is being replicated in other Christian organisations; churches and schools.
We were used to being treated badly by cult leaders, but we were not expecting to encounter abusive behaviour from what might be termed ‘ordinary Christians’.  What we discovered was that our cult experience was the thin end of the wedge.  In fact, as we went back over our histories, two separate and disconnected paths, we realised that we had both experienced really horrible behaviour from church people most of our lives.
Why was this?  Were we at fault?  Or were we just unfortunate enough to have been the target of a lot of badly behaved Christians?  Was our experience unique? I don’t think so. In the last twelve years we have done a lot of research and found that large numbers of Christians are leaving the church and not for the reasons that the so called researchers, like George Barna, have suggested. More often the stated reason for leaving churches is because the gospel is no longer being preached.  Genuine brothers and sisters in the Lord are offended with the false gospels, the false teachers, and the false prophets who arise in their midst.  They are faced with the choice of attempting to change the church or leaving.  It seems many, even after years of trying to get the leaders to see sense, have simply given up and looked for another place to fellowship. What they are finding is that there are very few churches now which appear to preach the gospel. If the gospel is not being preached, people sitting in the pews are not getting saved.  We heard the testimony of one man who sat in David Wilkerson’s Times Square Church and said that it was the first time he had ever heard the gospel in 20 years of being a Christian.  It was then that he actually became born again.  This is not an isolated example.
On this note, one preacher we have found to be the epitome of a good solid bible teacher is a man called Charles Lawson.  He is a Baptist pastor in Knoxville Tennessee.  He is what you might call an ‘old time pastor’, but he has done his research and is willing to discuss things from the pulpit that most pastors will not.  He talks about end times, the rapture of the church, he talks about the one world government and the occult.  He is filled with the Spirit and is a genuine brother in the Lord.  We delight in listening to his messages because for 12 years we have looked to find something similar in our country and have failed.  He is surely not the only pastor who preaches the gospel, but he is one we have spent a lot of time listening to.
line breakGood teachers aside, I believe there are two issues intertwined in this matter.  On the one hand  you have the hatred of the world for genuine believers, and on the other hand you have people who identify as Christians but are in fact not genuine believers because they have not been transformed. They have either come into the church on ‘another gospel’ or they have not been born again. So they are in fact still ‘in the world’ despite the fact that they believe in God.  Now bear with me, this is not about being accusatory, it is about observing and recognising the false and discerning the true.
Peruse the above verses.  You will find that Jesus made it abundantly clear that the world hated Him.   The world hated Him because the world is not of God.  Since born again Christians are of God, then it follows that the world is going to hate you. This is not a maybe.  Jesus was not saying ‘if’.  This is a rule of thumb.  The apostle John also reminds his readers that it should not be a surprise if the world hates you.  Because you are of God.
If the above is true then why am I seeing a whole lot of love for Jesus from the world.  And why is there such a conflation of world and church now in so many denominations. Everybody from Hollywood to the White House are saying that they are Christians.  And its not just happening in America.  I live in Australia and for the longest time our Prime Ministers made a big deal of being church going folk.  The Queen goes to church and is the head of the Church of England.  Are they all born again Christians? No.  No they are not. How do we know this? Because the world loves them, the world embraces them and they are not suffering persecution. And of course, their behaviour shows they are not.
I think what is happening here is that they are worshipping another Jesus.  The Jesus that they worship has a different source, the world.  The Jesus who walked the earth two thousand years ago and died on the cross, that Jesus was hated by everybody. Nobody wanted that Jesus to rule over them. Has the world suddenly changed since then?  No, interestingly, just as God doesn’t change, evil doesn’t change.
I think a lot of Christians assume that just because other Christians believe in ‘God’ that we are all worshipping the same God.  Not true.  There are many ‘Christ’s out there, and Jesus said that this would happen in the last days. But there are also many who are sitting in church believing they are brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus Christ, when in fact they have not actually even met Him.  They have not had a true conversion experience.  They might have been experiencing some kind of ‘spiritual’ experience, which it appears is a common thing even amongst pagan tribes.  We westerners tend to believe only in science and rational thought.  This is all well and good until you realise that much of what passes as science is rooted in pagan religion.  We have been fooled into thinking that there is no such thing as supernatural beings or supernatural powers.  Yet the Bible makes it clear that Satan is real, demons are real, angels are real, and they are constantly around us despite the fact that we cannot see or hear them.  Our religion has been influenced by such movements as the reformation – which in fact was simply a version of Catholicism and not true biblical Christianity (although it contained elements of it)  – and the charismatic/Pentecostal movements which were founded on various supernatural occurrences during so called ‘revivals’ over the last couple of hundred years. Many of those supernatural experiences were not of the Holy Spirit but were demonic in origin, and these experiences and the doctrines which support them have influenced our teaching and our expectations as believers.
We believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are not cessationists.  We have prayed for and seen healings, miracles, baptisms in the Spirit etc.  But what we are looking for is transformation.  We need to see changed lives which are led by and bear fruit from the Holy Spirit.  That fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. We tend to see the opposite in many Christians, or sometimes fake fruit.  Let’s look at that.
True Fruit                                                                          Fake Fruit
Love                                                                                   Affection
Joy                                                                                      High Spirits or Loudness
Peace                                                                                 Numbness
Patience                                                                            Inclusion
Goodness                                                                          Doing the right thing
Kindness                                                                           Tolerance
Gentleness                                                                        Psychology
Faithfulness                                                                      Prejudice
Self Control                                                                       Legalism
Christians in Western countries tend to believe that things should be a certain way.  We expect that Christians should act a certain way, generally according to the denomination we belong to.  Reformed churches behave this way, Pentecostal churches behave that way, Baptists do this, Presbyterians do that and so on.  What we have not really done is read our bibles, take note of what constitutes a changed life, the life of Christ within us, the life empowered by and filled with the Spirit of Christ.  We do not measure ourselves against scripture, we measure ourselves against the latest self-help book or teacher, not realising that these people are often not born again either.
A true born again Christian loves other true born again Christians.  You know when you have met somebody who is truly a new creation, you can see it in their eyes, the Spirit within you witness to the Spirit in the other person.  There is a unity which exists which does not need outward expression or conformity to a set of denominational rules or a set of rules which says ‘this is what a genuine bible believing Christian does’.  If the Spirit of him who raised Christ Jesus from the dead dwells within  you, then He who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies.  That same Spirit will empower you and that same Spirit will lead you and guide you.
Now obviously, Christians can be carnal.
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? … (I Corinthians 3)
 When Paul says carnal he is referring to immature Christians who are still spending most of their time walking in the flesh and therefore acting like ordinary men, unbelievers in the world.  We have obviously met a number of these.  The sort of behaviour though that we have experienced is more along the lines of people who don’t change at all over time.  They are not carnal sometimes and spiritual other times.  They really don’t have any Christian characteristics at all.  They are simply religious.
What we have to come to terms with in this so called post-modern society is that there is no longer a ‘church’ denomination which contains a bunch of born again believers.  True believers are now scattered.  Has it been this way from the beginning?  It is possible that this is so.  If true believers are salt and light then we cannot all stand in one clump, how can we salt the earth if we are sitting in one bunch every Sunday or weekday.  It is not possible for us to have a savoury effect.  Have you ever over-salted a soup or stew?  I have.  You can’t ‘unsalt’ it, you have to throw it out, you can’t eat it.  Likewise, we as believers are meant to be spread throughout the world and the so called ‘church’ on the earth.  We can come together to encourage each other, but I am starting to see that this coming together is going to get harder and harder, and we must find each other through other means than the local church organisation.  The church has now become like the world and the world like the church.  There is no longer any delineation, and the true believers are going underground.  Maybe it was always going to be this way at the end.
line break
We should no longer be surprised when we are hated both by the world AND others who identify as Christians.  IF the Holy Spirit is in you and not in the other so called Christians, you will be treated by them as you are by the world, because they are actually of the world.  Scripture tells us that there were believers in Paul’s day who turned away because of their love of the world; Demas (2 Timothy 4:10) was one of them.  We are told that if we are friends of the world we cannot be friends of God. (James 4:4).
The conclusion of the matter for us is that those who abused us and refused to change were not Christians to start with as they a) had no love for the brethren and b) were not transformed and c)did not have the fruit of the Spirit.  They were of the world and so hated us.  This goes for every other Christian we have not been able to communicate with or has treated us with disdain.  This is the only explanation that is viable.  Genuine believers may have bad days, or have some struggles with sin, but they do not habitually treat others with rudeness or disrespect.  Nor do I know anyone, who does not have a character disorder, even in the world, who would treat a perfect stranger with rudeness or disrespect.  But people who you know who habitually act coldly and arrogantly towards you yet claim to be believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ are not the genuine article.
It is in fact a huge relief for me to finally allow this truth to embrace my heart.  I do not have to feel bad that there are those out there who claim to be Christian who do not love me, despite the fact that I have striven to attain that love over the course of many years.  These ones cannot love, they do not have the love of God in them.
Only true believers can love true believers.
Only the world hates true believers.
And never the twain shall meet.

Refining Fire

black saturday.png

Our family were in the Dandenong Ranges during the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria a few years back. We did not suffer loss, but we had friends who did.  It killed many, changed many lives.  Many who were not even affected by the fires made significant life changes as a result of them.  They left the hills and went to live closer to the city where there is less bush to burn.  The reason they went to the hills in the first place was to find a haven, a tree change in the midst of the rat race.  What they discovered that living in the country has its own hazards and you can’t outrun the long arm of the Lord.

Suffering loss through a natural disaster covers the gamut of experiences.  As I said, you can remain physically untouched by the fires but still decide, out of fear for the future, to move house, and that is a traumatic enough experience, especially if you have lived for many decades unmolested by misfortunate and at peace.  Or you can lose everything.  One family we know of built a home amidst the bushland and literally away from everybody with only a dirt track running up and down gullies to get to their home.  When the fires struck they were in real danger.  What they thought was a secure haven became their worst nightmare.

This was supposed to be a good news story.  Just give me a paragraph or two.

One of the methods to fight large bush fires is to backburn. The rule is where the fire has already been, it cannot pass over again.  So fire fighters remove the source of the fuel where they think the wind is going to send the fire.  This usually happens in open country where the fire is getting out of control. Sometimes you get fire fighters in Australia doing what we call ‘burnoffs’ in the winter when the possibility of bush fires is a lot lower. They burn in the winter in order to reduce the severity of any possible fires in the summer when the conditions are a lot worse.

I find it really interesting from a spiritual point of view that when God talks about our works being tested by fire to see what will burn, God is pretty much doing the same thing.

But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Corinthians 13 :10-15)

Once the fire has taken everything from you, there is nothing left to burn. You get to a place in your life where there is literally nothing left in you, no  more idols, no more fleshly attitudes, no more obsessions or things you won’t let go of.  There is just you and God and your faith in Him because He has tested you and tested you.  I am here to tell you that the testing sometimes gets very very hot, to the point that you can’t think of one more thing that could possibly happen to you.  Once you get to the place where you trust God in all things because all of the fight has been burned out of you, you are just about numb and can do one thing and one thing only and that is praise God, then you know you have come to a place where you are on holy ground.  God does not try us to destroy us but to destroy our flesh.  He takes us through every possible testing, if we are willing, and wants to know what we will do with it.  Will we, like Job, choose unrighteousness over affliction?

Do not desire the night,
When people are cut off in their place.
21 Take heed, do not turn to iniquity,
For you have chosen this rather than affliction. (Job 36:20,21)

Or will we say to ourselves, like Job, God gives and God takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

There is another thing about back-burning and God’s ways.  Sometimes He burns us before Satan gets a chance to.  If He controls our lives by taking us through afflictions so that He can burn away the dross and get to the refined gold, then Satan will have less with which to whip us if he gets a chance to set a fire in our lives. Because both God and Satan can arrange a scorched earth session.  If Satan gets to it you can be assured he will make it burn hotter for longer than God ever would.  He seeks to destroy, God seeks only our good. This is why God looks for the response of faith in affliction.  Remember:

Many are the afflictions of the righteous but God delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19)

koala-bushfires
The iconic picture that went viral after the Melbourne fires. It sums up the plight of the survivor. God gives us the cool water of the Holy Spirit to minister to us in the midst of our afflictions. Thankyou Jesus.

To be able to worship the Lord in the midst of affliction is the change God seeks in us.  But to get to this place, we can’t just wish it upon ourselves, God has to work the change.  Sometimes you think things just can’t get much worse, and then they do.  What I have discovered is that if you really look back at your life, you will see that you actually did survive, even if you feel like you have been run over with a truck.  Not only did you survive but you survived to praise the Lord. And this my friends and family is the place of true joy and life.  For God is eternal and unchanging, and whether we live in the best of times or the worst of times, He does not change.  He is still holy, perfect, righteous, just and merciful and He goes with us through the battle, through the pain, through the devastation, through the outrage.  And if we choose His ways, and to praise Him through it all instead of cursing God and turning away from Him, we will change.  We will become the sons and daughters of God that He is looking for.  People who do not look to their outward circumstances for evidence of God’s faithfulness, but recognise that His faithfulness is eternal and is therefore worth praising regardless of how we feel.

I used to hear sermons like this as a young Christian.  I don’t hear them nowadays, they would be considered to be ‘offensive’ to many.  Yes, because they are offensive to the flesh, they are offensive to the natural mind of man, not to the Spirit, and to the nature of Jesus Christ which He is working in us.  And He is not looking for men to pay lip service to Him either.  To find the genuine ability in a human being to praise God in the midst of difficulty is a rare thing, because narrow is the way and few are they that find it.

To be able to declare God’s goodness in the land of the living (as opposed to Hades) is a wondrous thing. How can any human being do such a miraculous thing unless God himself touches us.  He scorches our land, takes the fire through, takes everything, burns it to see what it is made of.  If it is flesh, it will burn, if it is Spirit, it won’t, because of course that which is of God is made of gold, silver and precious stones, as is the New Jerusalem. We must be made of things eternal, which moth and rust and thief can destroy (not to mention fire).

This is not a popular thing to say. Nobody wants to be told in the midst of difficulty that God is testing them.  Paul tells us that nobody enjoys chastening but afterwards reaps the peaceable fruits of righteousness (Hebrews 12 7-11)

11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

But it is true nevertheless.

Being in the midst of a trial makes you blind. You can’t see the big picture, often you can’t even see your own hand in front of your face. You often can’t see God, can’t hear Him, don’t know if He is listening to your prayer.  But keep going.  In fact, let me just say this. You may have what psychologists term ‘suicidal ideation’.  It’s just a fancy term meaning, even death looks good compared to this.  They just don’t want to use the term.  But I will.  Because death to the flesh is actually what Christians are involved in every single day of their lives.  But you have days when your life is turned upside down by difficulty and trauma, sometimes from all sides at once, and you think you can’t possibly cope with any more pain.  Yet you do.  Guess what?  The earth has just been scorched.  Once God has burned the ground, it doesn’t burn again.  You are safe on the scorched earth.  If you stand there, you are free.  You have nothing left but God. Yes it seems like its the worst possible thing that could happen to you, but it isn’t.  Allowing God to test you in the fire is going through death in order to find life.  It’s no longer I that liveth but Christ that liveth in me.

Have I made it?  Am I that person who can praise God in the midst of trauma?  Let me just say that in all honesty I wish I was.  But I am BETTER at it than I was ten years ago.  I am not blowing my own trumpet here, I am just able to say that yes, the fire has scorched the earth and I am standing on ashes, but what burned was necessary to burn, and what has not burned is my spirit and my soul, and I can stand and praise God and focus on Him and know the truly peaceable fruit of righteousness. AMEN!

I’m a White Man and I’m Tired…

zz marzulli
I’m a white guy. To be more precise, I’m an Italian White-guy and I’m tired of being called a racist just because I agree with president-elect Trump that we should build a wall.
I’m tired of hearing that I’m privileged or “I didn’t make that” when all my life I’ve worked hard and no one gave me anything.
I’m tired of hearing the millennials demand free stuff. They should spend a week in Venezuela and see how free stuff leads to a ruinous future.
I’m tired of a bunch of pampered, hollywood actors pontificating when they are the epitome of, do what I say and not what I do.
I’m tired of being told what is politically correct speech and what isn’t.
I’m tired of hearing about the plight of men who think they’re women trapped in a mans body and then want to use the woman’s bathroom.
I’m tired of hearing about the supposed threat of climate change when many of these purveyors of doom fly all over the world, with their entourage and big jets. How BIG is their carbon footprint? Are you kidding me?
I’m really tired of seeing and hearing about what Lena Dunham thinks about anything… Move to Canada already if you hate this country so much.
I’m tired of hearing that it’s a woman’s right to choose, which, in my opinion, is the most fallacious argument of the 20th and 21st century. Life begins at conception. Go out to California and smash a condor egg, or cut down an oak tree and see where that gets you.
I’m tired of hearing about Jihad from people who kill and hate and yet some loon on the left wants to bring as many of these people  into our country as possible.
I’m tired of being taxed to death and working for about 6 months out of the year for a bloated federal government, which is  nothing more than being a modern-day serf.
I’m tired of being called dangerous and a threat to society because I believe in the tenants of the Bible.
I’m tired of being told that the Jews who are living in Israel are not the real Jews.
I’m tired of the global antisemitism.
I’m tired of being told that Evolution is a fact when the fact is Evolution is the biggest bunch of hooey ever foisted on the public.
I’m tired of being told that the second amendment isn’t for our times and that we need stricter gun control, in the wake of some nutcase—high on perception meds—who goes on a killing spree.
I’m tired of people  calling Donald Trump a Nazi when they have no idea of what a Nazi really is.
I’m tired of the Mullah’s in Iran denying the reality of the holocaust.
I’m tired of being told that Israel must divide her land in order to attain a lasting peace.
So that’s my partial list and I could go on but I think I’ve made my point.
What I’m not tired about is knowing that Jesus is the Messiah and He will return to set up His literal millennial kingdom. He will rule from Jerusalem, not Walla Walla Michigan. He will heal the nations.
My hope is this and nothing less.
In Jesus Christ and righteousness….

Source: I’m a White Man and I’m Tired…

What God Has Been Doing Lately in Our House

fern-178702__340

A few weeks ago our family went through a time of fasting and cleansing. We haven’t posted much lately because some of us have been getting born again. God spoke to our family a few weeks ago and called a three day fast and during that time God did mighty work. The result of which are still ricocheting through our house and I would suggest through some other people’s houses and all.

Our family lived in a cult for 15 years from 1989 to 2004. During that time the faith we had was undermined and eventually destroyed. By the time we left the cult we couldn’t even open our bibles without experiencing severe emotional distress. All we heard was the condemning voices of the men who had run the cult. They had taken every critical verse of scripture and made it their own, turning everything into a mockery of Christ and his work on the Cross. It was an authoritarian, abusive, controlling and destroying cult. People’s lives, marriages and families were broken, and they are totally unrepentant. Even some ex-leaders who have left have never openly admitted and repented of their false gospels and the damage they did to thousands of people. So God has, for the past twelve years, been undoing the damage that was done to us slowly, painfully and piece by piece.

In the process of healing and changing we have had to address false doctrines which have snuck into our family, destructive habits – sin in actual fact – and other things which needed to change. Last weekend was kind of a culmination of that. All of us were affected in one way or another, and those we thought needed the help the least were the ones who had been, unbeknownst to us, needing it the most.
But here is the thing….

We didn’t go to some conference, convention or convocation. Yes, we need the body of Christ, but when we are addressing issues that arise in our private lives within our family, God is quite capable of dealing with it between the people who are involved and not some stranger who we think is more spiritual than we are.  We have been listening to a section of a .Podcast from the Grace Community Church in California wherein John Macarthur has admitted that he didn’t know when he gave his life to the Lord, that he never really knew when he was converted and he isn’t worried about that. This was up on Pastor John Coleman’s website, (see link) Coleman has been a strong critic of MacArthur for some years but not from personal gripe, simply from examining his actions, teaching and the testimonies of members of the Grace Community who have had to leave due to abuse.

One of the most high profile evangelical ministers with an impressive pedigree of five generations of preachers and ministers (and high ranking freemasons) who has edited his own bible and run a huge international organisation admits that he actually didn’t ever get converted, he just kind of always sort of knew he was a Christian. As the host of the audio tape (Pastor John Coleman) said,  everyone he knows and has asked knows exactly when and where they got saved and how it affected them. I agree.  I remember distinctly the second week of the May school holidays in 1977 in my second year of High School, late one night in the bunkhouse of a Scripture Union camp saying a prayer and asking Jesus to forgive me for my sins.  I didn’t have a huge understanding of what I was doing then it wasn’t until much later when I was baptised and baptised in the Holy Spirit that I realised what the Cross and Resurrection were all about. But it changed me, and I went home to my unsaved family and told them what had happened and faced rejection and abuse because of it.  I have never regretted that decision nor have I wavered from it. I knew when it happened, I might have only been 13 at the time, and 19 when it all made sense, but I knew when it happened.

John Macarthur, evangelical Super-Pastor of the Universe apparently doesn’t know and doesn’t care. But then as we discovered later he is a Calvinist and Calvinists believe in predestination. If you are saved its because God has chosen you and you have no free will to make that choice yourself. So, John Macarthur figures he doesn’t need to have made that choice, its clear he is saved, obviously, duh, he runs a mega-church right?

So John Macarthur needs to get saved too. And he doesn’t need somebody who is more spiritual than he is, all he needs is to have his ears opened to the gospel and his heart convicted by the Holy Spirit. He KNOWS what to do, he just didn’t think he ever needed to do that. I think we need to pray for him, and his poor church organisation which according to reports is taking over other people’s churches, abusing its congregants and generally behaving like a cult, false doctrines and all. Who knew? We shall certainly pray for the congregations to get saved as well.

So, when God does a work in your life or the lives of those closest to you, remember that it is because of prayer, it happens in His timing not yours, and it is because you are open to hear his voice, obey his voice and to repent where you need to repent. Nobody is excluded from this. Nobody. I don’t care how many bibles have your face on the front cover.

 

Nick’s Testimony

cricket nick

My name is Nick Brady and i have been alive for 22 years. I came to Christ when i was 17, growing up in a christian home. Giving your life to Christ at that age was pretty hard for me as i was in my second last year of high school. I know it shouldn’t be hard but let me explain.

One of those pesky teenage traits was to have everyone like you (haha I’m still dealing with that one). So being courageous in my faith was one of those things that went to the back of my head as soon as i went through the school gate. However, that didn’t mean I wasn’t put into situations where I had a feeling deep down to let Christ be heard.

About halfway through my senior I had the opportunity to go on a geography excursion to Fraser Island in North Queensland. The week before I mentioned to my parents that I thought that God had been telling me to take my bible along. Just that, not preach my heart out, not give it to one of the 15 people going along, just take it along. I should probably mention by this point that I had been both baptised in water and the Holy Spirit. So I made the decision to take it along. Everything went well the first night, but on the second night (of the 5 days that we were there) I felt the urge to get out my bible and read it. I did this by myself, my teacher made some comment on how it was good that I was doing so. Still to this day I don’t know why he made those comments as he wasn’t , from what I could tell, a Christian.

Anyway that all went down, and then on the next night the Spirit of God really started to get things moving. I had decided that I wasn’t going to go off by myself and read on my own. That night I sat in our cabin and read my bible. There was about 6 guys all in the cabin and for the time that I was reading they came in and out. Once the lights out call had been given everyone settled down. Now that I look back I’m pretty sure we pushed the lights out a further hour or so. I’ll tell you why. A couple of the guys noticed that I was reading and asked what it was that I was reading. I told them that it was the bible, and then things kicked off from there. I had all sorts of questions flung at me. What do you believe? Why do you read it? You don’t really believe that do you? Then the next night the girls who made up the rest of the group ask me to read to them. Every student that was on that camp heard the word of God. A rather strange fact was that the people who owned that camp that we stayed at their main land address was 666. Creepy right!

So for the rest year twelve I didn’t have any other major opportunities to sharing of my faith. Questions where asked in both of the history classes I attended, when religion was the main topic of conversation. High school is always about fitting in, and for me that was paramount until I made the decision to follow my faith. I think by the time it came to graduation I had a better understanding of who I was in the world. I remember clearly one of my friends said to my once ” You are different Nick! Not a bad different but a good different”. I knew what he was talking about but he didn’t. He had picked up on something about me and that meant a lot, that people could see the difference.

After high school came a stint in Uni where I found that I was not cut out for all the demanding academic work. Later I fell into a job at a large department store.  Since starting full time work I have had multiple incidences where my faith has been discussed. Some of the older people have questioned it more sceptically then the younger people I have talked to. I have had opportunity to pray for a couple of people and also offered to pray others who are hurt. My position in the store is managing the stock replenishment team and that affords me the opportunity to talk to multiple people throughout the store. I pray often for the chance to talk to them about my faith, I doesn’t happen a lot but when it does I really relish the chance to talk to them about my faith.

So to sum everything up into a nice neat package I have chosen to give my life to the Lord, I have made mistakes but who hasn’t. That is what the power of the cross is for. My journey hasn’t been long but that doesn’t matter. Everyone is different.  I think what makes a big difference in the lives of young Christians is the ability to recognise when you have sinned, whether it be from the Lord through the Holy Spirit, through parents and or friends. It is like a radio, where you go to tune to a station, it takes time but when you finally get the station you can hear it loud and clear. It is also not just that ability to recognise but also humbling yourself before the Lord and going about the right way to cleanse yourself before a God that can not look upon sin. I can testify to the importance of this as I feel that through my mistakes and Cross bound redemption I am hearing more clearly from the Lord. That channel is becoming clearer and clearer.