Open Air Preacher Tony Miano’s Insensitive Tweets after Nepal Earthquake Disaster

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Open Air Preacher Tony Miano’s Twitter behavior and lessons he’s learned about kindness with his own family.

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Over the weekend, open air street preacher, Tony Miano, current member of John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church, responded to a CNN tweet about the devastating earthquake in Nepal:

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This tweet created quite a firestorm on Twitter. How could a man be so cold, callous, and insensitive amidst such a horrific catastrophe which has now claimed over 2,500 lives? An international media outlet from UK, The Independent, was the first to cover the story involving Miano: Nepal earthquake: US Pastor Tony Miano sparks outcry by suggesting Nepalis should not rebuild their ‘pagan shrines’.

 

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Here are the first two paragraphs from The Independent:

A former Los Angeles police officer and self-styled preacher, has sparked outcry by suggesting that Nepalis should not rebuild their “pagan shrines” and instead convert to Christianity.

Tony Miano, an outspoken conservative who has previously been accused of homophobia, triggered angry responses when he posted a series of messages on social media, expressing sympathy for the people struck by devastation in Nepal, but suggesting God was angry.

Take a look at some of the tweets.

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“My Twitter feed is exploding.”

“The gates of Twitter hell have been released.”

~Tony Miano

I’m confused by this. The gates of Twitter hell have been released by whom?  Who is taking credit for this?
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Tony Miano nepal earthquake

 

Here is Tony Miano explaining how he has spent four hours of his time interacting with people of different faith. Keep in mind, he is a full-time evangelist supported solely by donations. Isn’t this what he is supposed to be doing?  Note the hashtag: #NotYourGrandpaMinistry, making sure we know that it’s hard work doing what he does.

Tony Miano Nepal Earthquake

 

This latest incident is another media attention grabber, but I also want to describe what he calls love. I think I figured out what he means by love in his podcast, Family Relationships: It’s Not to Late to Reboot.  The first half of the podcast he discusses the public response to his tweets, the second half is actually remarkable and we’ll get to that in a bit.

tony miano nepal earthquake

 

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The podcast begins with Miano defending his tweet (shown above):

That’s what I posted.  That’s my heart. I don’t want any of the pagan temples that have led billions of people to hell to be rebuilt because I want every human being in Nepal to come to genuine repentance in faith in Christ. That was my hope and Twitter has just exploded.  So . . .what should our response be?

In the podcast, he said he didn’t pull a Pat Robertson, who has a reputation for saying inappropriate comments after tragedies, but yet he proved himself to be “a Pat Robertson” as he continued:

I didn’t do a Pat Robertson and I didn’t go out and say that this event is God’s judgment against the Nepal. I didn’t say that. It could be, certainly, it could be. God is sovereign over everything. He directly causes and/or allows everything to happen. He’s not indifferent. He’s not uninvolved. He’s not sitting in yonder heaven twiddling his thumbs watching the world go by without having any hand in it. His hand is all over it. There’s not a stray atom. There’s not a stray molecule. There’s not a single hair out of place . . . The earth shakes at His command . . He is in control of all of it.

So, he said God controls every molecule, but he isn’t pulling a Pat Robertson. Okay. He continued:

I don’t think my tweet was taken the wrong way. I think it was taken as it was intended, and people hate itbecause people hate Jesus Christ. The comments have been: “how dare you –  how dare you use this tragedy to “promote” your religion?”

My response would be, “how dare a Christian not open his or her mouth and call people to repent and believe the gospel in times of tragedy?” Show me in the Bible where the Bible supports the idea of Christians remaining silent because bad things are happening to bad people?

He is not sorry for the tweet whatsoever, but believes as a Christian he should be tweeting for people to repent. He then goes on to describe how he sees himself, and his friends, and everyone as “bad people” because no one is good, not even himself, his friends, his wife. Bad things happen because of sin. He discusses the wrath of God:

“A 7.8 earthquake in Katmandu will seem like a ripple in a kiddie pool compared to what Jesus Christ will do to this earth as he judges in righteousness. That is a message of love. That is a message of love.”

  [JA note: he repeated that line twice.] 

I shared the gospel  – I don’t know how many dozens of times on Twitter today. . . and people hate it.  They hate the message of love because they love themselves and they love their sin more than they love God. They want to be God, and, like the Pharisees, they want to murder the God they know exists because they want to be God, because they do not want to submit to the authority of Him.

And that is true of the most angriest [sic] vile atheist on the planet and it is true of the humblest meekest mildest [sic] Nepali Hindu woman bowing before a temple, bowing before an idol. It is hatred of the God they know exists. It is hatred of their Creator. It is hatred of Christ.

I do not believe that the responses to Tony’s tweets indicated people’s hatred of Christ. Their response was to his behavior. I believe he knew it would cause a outroar and this method has been proven successful before. This is not so much about saving souls as it is about drawing attention to Tony Miano under the guise of spreading the Gospel and I think we have the proof below in Tony’s own words. I wonder how many people have been saved after someone told them to repent on Twitter? Think about it.

Miano finished his diatribe and asks his podcast partner, Chris Hohnholz, to share his thoughts:

Miano asked, “What do you think, Chris? I’m done preaching. What do you think?”

Chris joined the conversation. At first you might wonder where he’s going with his words (the bolded part), but then you can see how he justifies and supports Miano’s tweets:

You know, brother, I was just thinking about the whole,  “now-is-not-the time” [phrase]. It’s interesting because most of the folks who would make such a claim probably would also be saying – well, any other time is not the really the time. It’s not the issue of the timing. Certainly we as Christians are sensitive to someone if someone is in great pain because of the loss of a child, the last thing we’re going to do is to take them through an Are-You-a-Good-Person test. We’re going to comfort them, we’re going take care of them. . .

[Side note:  The Are-you-a-Good-Person test may have originated from Ray Comfort (Tony Miano formerly worked with Ray at Living Waters). It’s a tool evangelists use in sharing the Gospel to convince the person that they are really not a good person, that they are in fact a sinner, and they need Christ.  Here’s a cutesy example of it produced by Living Waters.]

Chris Hohnholz continues:

But when we are distant from it, and it’s a subject that we can discuss, this is what’s going on, this is the reality of death, that those who died outside of Christ in Nepal will be going to hell. [But] we’re not in the midst of it. We’re not taking care of the broken and bleeding bodies. We’re distant from it. We’re able to discuss this matter and talk about what the real hope is, because sadly, for those who died outside of Christ in Nepal, there is no hope now . . .We have the opportunity to bring hope to those who are hurt by this emotionally, who are concerned for people who have been affected by this.

Ok, so here it is. I think we got a clue from Chris. Since Tony Miano is DISTANT from the disaster area, he thinks it’s okay to discuss it with such strong terms. That is the justification = geographical distance. This mileage apparently gives him the right to say what he feels needs to be said – which he calls l.o.v.e.

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Miano then exhorted Christians to behave appropriately on Twitter.  This is rich:

I’ve also posted on Twitter asking Christians who are jumping in to make sure that they do so with Christlikeness, that souls being saved is more important than winning the argument and we can’t respond in kind and revile, no matter how bad the reviling is. I had people posting prayers asking for my death, you know, and, things like that. We obviously can’t respond in kind. We’ve got to love the lost.

uh-huh! 

Ok, now here’s an unexpected twist to the story. In the second half of the podcast, at about the 41-minute mark, Tony Miano shared from his heart about his family, his parents’ divorce, estrangement from his mother and also his sisters. The last time all of his siblings were together was 16 years ago. The last time he spoke with his mom was 5 years ago. Miano discussed honor and how he knew he was commanded Biblically to honor his parents, but he did not exactly know how to do that or what that looked like.

Tony Miano shared how he met with his younger sisters and his mother. He had some very deep heart-to-heart conversations with his sisters, one in particular lasting 5 hours, saying, “The Lord allowed me to have the most profitable Gospel conversation with this sister that I’ve ever had since coming to faith in Christ, and He wasn’t done.”

This Tony Miano was different. It was beautiful. He stated there was reconciliation, healing, joy, smiles, experiences that the siblings hadn’t shared for a long time. Look at these words:

Now along with the estrangement with my mom, there was also estrangement with my two youngest sisters for all kinds of reasons. I think it would also be safe to say at times it was the Gospel that was part of that estrangement, but not only the Gospel. There were times along the way I blew it in how I shared the Gospel with them, not the when, not the why, but the how.

 Do you see that? He gets it – – “the how.”  That is exactly what we’ve been saying all along – it is “the how.”

He also shared a bit about his long-time friend, Ray Comfort. He said that Comfort modeled to him what “true kindness to unsaved family members really looks like.”  He mentioned how Ray Comfort shows kindness even in the way he treats atheists after having an hour-long debate with them. After a debate, Comfort would shake their hand, put his hand on their shoulder. Kindness. Ray Comfort showed kindness and Miano respected him for that.

In the same podcast in which Tony Miano says it is love to behave as he did in his tweets regarding the temples in Nepal and telling people to repent following a natural disaster, we see that he has been shown and received kindness in his interaction with his siblings as Christ was exalted in their conversation.

You can’t have it both ways, but Tony Miano thinks he is entitled to behave one way on social media, yet knows in his heart that “the how” and kindness, the same kindness he experienced with his precious sisters and mother, is of God.

And this is the saddest thing of all to me – – Tony’s online behavior. Take a look at how many news outlets are picking up the story and it has been growing.

Please, Tony, if you cannot be kind for Christ, if you cannot control “the how,” please check to see if you are in the right business/ministry . . . .  for Christ’s sake.

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SSB Gathering – April 26, 2015

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

 by Kathi

 trillium lake

1 Corinthians 12: 12-27

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Geeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say,”Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

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May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

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Now go on out and spread some love!

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Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

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photo credit: Brian Bonham

Saturday Morning Funnies

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Sometimes it gets heavy around here. This week I have watched two videos that had me laughing so hard I was crying. I must share:
The first one is public on Facebook and I’m unable to embed it here, so you’ll just have to click on the link. It’s the most hilarious baptism I’ve ever seen.
The second one is here:

“What would it be like if sermons had a laugh track?”

Who are the Dones and Why Have They Left the Institutional Church?

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We’ve heard of the Nones, but who are the Dones?

Are you familiar with these terms? Baptist News article, You’ve met the ‘nones.’ Now meet the ‘dones.’ covered this topic last year:

Just as churches, seminaries and congregational consultants were wrapping their heads around the concept of “the nones” in religious life, yet another term emerges for yet another category of Americans abandoning the church: “the dones.”

The first group denotes the growing number of Americans with no religion affiliation. “Nones,” which may represent as much as 38 percent of the U.S. population, also are known for generally having had no or very little in the way of religious upbringing.

But sociologists, church historians and congregational coaches have realized for a while that another subset of Americans are answering “none” on surveys about religious affiliations: Those who have grown up in the church and remained active in adulthood — at least until getting tired of church life.

The rest of the article talks about the struggles churches are facing as good church folk are leaving the institutional walls. I think it is a wake-up call for the institutional church.

Today I posted a 7-minute interview about the “dones” on the SSB Facebook page and it has received some great responses. I asked the powers that be if the video was able to be shared outside of Facebook and it was then uploaded to YouTube, so I am happy to be able to share it with you on the blog.  It’s just over 7 minutes (the complete webinar can be found here: Rise of the Dones Webinar Follow Up).

I think some of the SSB community might be able to connect with the dones.

Here is James Paul’s intro to the video:

A fast-growing demographic of Christians are fleeing the institutional church. On April 15th, sociologist Josh Packard gave a webinar presentation on “the dones.” So who are they? The answers may surprise you.

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I’ve copied some of the comments from both James Paul and SSB’s Facebook posts so you can see the responses:

This is spot on! Although, I’ll admit, I was angry when I left. I’m not angry any more, but I am uninterested. -KB

I’m angry at a lot of pastors who know they are doing wrong by institutionalizing but gotta feed the system to USE people to get their paycheck, easy flexible schedule, 5-7 weeks of vacation, conferences, and entitlements. These pastors know better but will either spiritualize or ignore the truth of what they are doing and defend the system to the death or until it stops paying off for them. ~Dennis

What stood out for me is what a deliberate, contemplative, meaningful (and heart-wrenching) decision this tends to be. The church as an institution has failed those who it needs and counts on the most. This is a crisis for the church… but a personal victory for those who seek peace and comfort away from the institution that let them down. Even the WORD “church” is slowly changing definition. This is not a bad thing. ~Carol

Love this comment. ~Jami

Carol, This is so true. When we decided to leave church (or churches, in our case) it was not a fly-by-night decision. For one church, we prayed and talked for two years before we left. For another, it took a 3-4 months (less time because we had already been through the first one). It was not an easy decision the first time because we had invested almost 10 years of our lives in the church, working side-by-side with people we cared deeply about. The second time was a bit easier because we spotted the red flags immediately. -KB

I didn’t leave church because I lost my faith. I left to preserve it. ~Bart

I believe the whole “Dones” movement is actually a move of God. With the current state of business-as-usual in the “church” scene and growing religious unrest in the world, perhaps the healthiest and safest place for Believers is outside of those comfortable four walls, interacting in daily life with one another and others…in the world but not of it (which is what we’re called to BE anyway!) ~Joe

“I think many people stayed in church in the past because it was generally accepted that all “good” people attended church and one had to belong to church to be a respected community member. That is no longer the case and this subconsciously influences people not to attend.” ~ Linda

Often God takes folks at the margin – remembering the Jesus people. At the moment, he seems to be rounding up people who have loved him inside the walls and is asking them to love him outside. ~Dwight

I liked D. L. Webster’s comment in his article, Are “Dones” a Major Warning Sign for the Church?

To summarize, I think that some our fundamental paradigms about church got knocked off track centuries ago (most notably around the 4th century to be precise). I believe that church as we usually think of it will continue to slide into irrelevance though God will continue to work there too. It seems to me that Christianity’s best are leaving the traditional, institutional church because God is revealing its inadequacies. These “dones” are pursing Jesus, his ways and his community outside the church institution in a way which is more in line with God’s leading.

related links:

Christian Women and the Curse and Their Curse-Ravaged Homes …. Oh My

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Women, when you wake up in the morning, are you ready to take on your curse-ravaged homes?

by Kathi

Adam & Eve

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To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children.

Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”  

Genesis 3:16

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But women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.  

1 Timothy 2:15

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Kim Ransleben wrote an article for Desiring God blog (John Piper’s baby) entitled,  “When Women Face Their Cursed-Ravaged Homes”. The article makes me question which is cursed-ravaged, the home or the woman’s body as an “earthly home?” By using 1 Timothy 2:15 as the key verse for the post, I would have gone with the latter explanation for the article. But then in reading on, the meaning was lost on me and all was blurry. Here is the gist of the article:

1. Relationships (spouse, children and friendships) are painful.

2. Women grow weary and seek escape outside the home.

3. By reading stories of women in the Bible, we can gain strength to keep on going.

4. The Gospel turns us back to our homes.

I’m still confused. Who, or what, is exactly cursed? How exactly does “the Gospel” turn us back to our homes?

The author mentions the curse placed upon Eve in Genesis 3:

Paul knew that in mentioning Adam, Eve, and childbearing in the context of this verse, he would call to mind that very real curse from Genesis 3. Yet here he isn’t condemning us by that curse, but is telling us that the very area of the woman’s curse is now one of the most powerful tools in our sanctification.

Here I assume she is talking about woman, as a person, being cursed; the specific curse placed on woman. However, at the end of the article she says,

As we embrace our calling to face our curse-ravaged homes with hope, we will find ourselves overflowing that same faith and love for a world desperately in need of it.

Now I’m wondering if  she is talking about the home-life being cursed due to dealing with difficult relationships and women wanting more in life.

“Being a life-giver and a most suitable helper is wearying work.” Kim Ransleben

When I read the author’s bio, I noticed that she is a curriculum writer and Bible study teacher. Her article, however, gives us no indication that she did any exegetical study on this verse. Simple questions such as, “Who is the audience this author is writing to?” and “What are the cultural issues Timothy is dealing with?” are essential in Bible study. I read it more as “women’s lives are nothing but cursed, so pull yourself up by your bootstraps and quit your whining for something better.”

The final advice that bothers me is:

Turn your heart back to your family, back to childrearing, back to the place of our sanctification.

Family and childrearing is not a woman’s place of sanctification. If that is the case, then there are many women that I know and love who are not sanctified because they either choose to not have children or they are physically unable to. But, I’m sure Piper and his crew would have something to say about that.

Honestly, something didn’t sit right with me when I first read this article, and as I write this, I’m struggling to figure out exactly what bothers me. How does this article sit with you? What are your thoughts?

photo credit: taken by Kathi at Sistine Chapel

SSB Gathering – April 19, 2015

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

 by Kathi

 Venice windows

Luke 14: 1-14

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts of the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.

Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” And they had nothing to say.

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Then Jesus said to the host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

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May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

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Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

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Bullies: Celebrity Leaders Who Act Different in Private Settings Reveal Their Heart

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Watch out for any celebrity or Christian leader who treats you differently in private. They are bullies.

 

 

Have you seen this video of ESPN’s reporter Britt McHenry who berates an employee at a towing company as she pays to collect her impounded vehicle? It’s been making the rounds in social media and people are appropriately stunned at her behavior caught on video.

I was shocked at what I heard. I thought about how she used her celebrity position, her education, her good looks, to elevate herself above another human being. Not only that, she berated the female employee about her teeth, assumed she had no education, called her overweight, etc.  Take a look (you might want to stop the video at 1:45 to avoid an advertisement):

 

 

 

Here is a bit of the transcription thanks to Washington Post’s article: Who had the worst week in Washington? Britt McHenry:

“I’m on television, and you’re in a f—ing trailer, honey,” McHenry said in the tirade, released online Thursday. “That’s all you care about is just taking people’s money,” she added. “With no education, no skill set. Just wanted to clarify that.”

She went on to blast the woman’s alleged lack of teeth and advised her to “lose some weight, baby girl.”

Ms. McHenry’s behavior is completely inappropriate. Searching on social media, you can see the disgust people are expressing about her behavior. And there is talk about why she is only suspended for one week.

Please tell me that this is not true:

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I recently read this excellent article by Pat Green: Night Moves: Diary of a Chicago Area Cabbie ex-Preacher Man.

This article describes an account of Pat, a Chicago cabbie, giving a ride to a popular preacher whose ministry he knew and followed. This preacher is a respected author and speaker.

The celebrity pastor behaved one way under the public spotlight, but donned a completely different persona when one-on-one with the cab driver. This well-known preacher showed a sense of entitlement as he treated the cabbie as a less-than. Here is an excerpt from the article. We jump in the story as the cabbie attempts to be gracious to this “hero” and gives his rude behavior the benefit of the doubt:

I decided to change the topic a little.

“I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t like the restaurants. So where are you flying to?”

“Look, I already know what you do. Pretending to care what I do is not going to change the tip. I had to wait for almost 20 minutes to start this ride. Just get me there on time. Do you even know where you are going? I don’t see your GPS on.”

“I only use it if I don’t know where I am going. I know where we are going.”

“Your parents must be so proud of your achievement.” He remarked. He then grabbed his smart phone and disappeared into it.

Did he just say that? He could not have just said that. This is not happening. Not him. Not the one who preaches a better gospel. Not a person who inspired me to change the way I approached not only church, but the manner in which I handled my faith at the time.

I just got on to driving while he typed away on his phone.

At one point he looked up from his phone and asked,”Can you move it a little bit?” I was doing 5 over the limit. I was with the flow of the beginning morning airport traffic.

Spiritual leaders who behave one way in public and treat you badly in private are spiritual bullies. Period. Don’t be deceived by their charm, celebrity status, privilege.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” John 10: 11-13

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Abuse Survivors Question the Idea That Nothing Happens in Your Life – Even Abuse – That God Does Not Permit

 There is nothing that happens in your life that God does not permit – – even abuse?


We got in a heated discussion in the comments on the last post regarding the determinist belief that nothing happens in our lives that God does not permit. For people who have been abused, that is a tough pill to swallow. For abuse survivors, please be careful. This discussion could be triggering.

determinist teachings 6834815688_4686d663db

This determinist belief seems to contradict the idea of a kind and loving Father who protects His children. Gail asked Pastor Wade Burleson specific questions and I thought it would be best to put them in a new blog post to keep this topic together.

Here is Gail’s comment to Wade which I also sent to him in an e-mail:

Wade,

I just listened to one of the sermons that Oasis linked on the other thread. I have a few questions & observations. I will be quoting some of what you said to clear up any confusion to those who didn’t listen.
“Every affliction in your life is of the Lord, all of it is.”

I was molested at five years old by my father, by another again at seven the list doesn’t stop there, for time sake I will be brief. Do you believe child rape is a affliction?

I do not understand what you meant when you said “affliction is of the Lord” but “not from the Lord.” What does that even mean?

“Nothing happens in your life that God either permits, promotes or prohibits”
Okay, so God could have prohibited my abuse? Or He permitted it? Wow, that sounds like God was implicit in what tore me to shreds as a girl.

Can you understand why your words cause turmoil inside of me?

I trust that you meant what you said in your sermon, that you are learning, growing from this interaction also with Oasis.
Would you consider that perhaps you miscommunicated with her? You keep insisting that you are not in the wrong at all, that she has her perception which makes it her reality, which implies at least to me that she is not telling the truth.
I will be out the rest of the afternoon, if I don’t respond I am not ignoring you, just have a full day.

Wade responded back to my e-mail and gave me permission to post his response to Gail’s questions:

I can sure understand that there are triggers for anyone who has undergone abuse. I would like to answer Gail’s questions, and feel free if you would like to use them.

(1). “Every affliction in your life is of the Lord, all of it is”

God says “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7). The word disaster is better translated (in my opinion) “affliction.”

However, there must be some caveats and qualifications with any understanding of this Isaiah passage of scripture. The Bible never contradicts itself – ever. We also read “For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone (to do evil); But each one is tempted (to do evil) when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust (James 1:13-14). So when I (or anyone) says God “affliction is of the Lord” it NEVER means He causes, designs, authors, or creates EVIL.” Not at all.

“Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). God only creates good. Man and fallen angels create evil. When I say “Affliction is of God” I mean God is able to take what man creates (evil) and orchestrate good from it. Evil is not good, nor is good evil – rather, God is able to turn what man meant for evil into good. God is never responsible for evil. He is only and always the author of good.

(2). “I was molested at five years old by my father, by another again at seven the list doesn’t stop there, for time sake I will be brief. Do you believe child rape is an affliction?”

Rape is evil. Rape is a crime. The rapist alone is responsible for the unspeakable horror. What I believe is that somehow, someway, God will produce good from evil. For example, the punishment of the rapist at the Judgment will be a good thing. The ultimate healing of the victim of rape through the love, mercy and kindness of God will be a good thing. The question that you seem to be asking is simple: “DID GOD CAUSE THE RAPE?” My answer: “GOOD GOD NO.”

I do believe that God allows evil to occur (that He doesn’t cause) because He will ultimately bring about an eternal greater good.

My example would be the beheading of the Coptic Christians in Lebanon. Did God cause this to happen? No. Will ultimate good come from it? Yes.

“For we know that God works all things together for good to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

(3). “I do not understand what you meant when you said ‘affliction is of the Lord’ but ‘not from the Lord. What does that even mean?”

It simple means that God does not create, cause or author evil (‘from the Lord’), but God will allow and permit evil because of an ultimate greater good that is coming, including the display of His holiness and justice in the punishment of the sinner and His mercy, goodness and kindness in the redemption of the victim.

(4). “Can you understand your words cause turmoil inside me?”

Yes. Absolutely. There’s wisdom in simply being there for someone whose been abused in the beginning, showing love. However, if I didn’t believe that ultimately the only hope of real recovery from deep, intense scars of past abuse is the knowledge that good IS COMING (the abuse is NOT GOOD), but good is coming, then I would remain silent about these things forever. I only speak of what I see Romans 8:28 to teach when asked. I never offer it until asked.

(5). “Would you consider that perhaps you miscommunicated with her (Oasis)?”

Of course. I also have no hesitation in apologizing. I just need to be shown (because she said it was in writing), and in my opinion, I have never – ever – said “God designs sexual abuse.” I have only and always said “God designs good” and I do not believe in any form or fashion sexual abuse is good.

Wade also added the following:

I am out for the rest of the week. This is all I can offer. I would suggest that those who would like to read further what I believe to go to the link “The Prince of Evil Overcome by the King of Good.” http://www.wadeburleson.org/2013/10/the-prince-of-evil-overruled-by-king-of.html

photo credit: [As seen on my run.] via photopin (license)

SSB Gathering – April 12, 2015

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

 by Kathi

 mirror lake

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

***


***

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

***
Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

***

Photo credit: Brian Bonham

Pastor Preaches: “Brother, This is a Man’s World”

Pastor William Lytell: “But brother, this is a man’s world.”

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Long-tLook at Me. Show Offime readers may remember that a kitty adopted us a few years ago. Marbles grew up and went on to have kitties of her own – four kittens. We kept the orange kitty and named him Pumpkin. He was pretty cute as a kitten.

He grew up to be a very handsome cat. Look at him high up on his scratching post as if he is the King of the Castle.

Earlier today, I found Pumpkin “playing” with a mouse two feet from where I was sitting at my computer desk, but outside, on the other side of the window. The mouse was still breathing, quite heavily, as I could see his little tummy move when he inhaled and exhaled. My cat kept licking his paws. It was not going to go well for this little mouse.

I find it interesting that Pumpkin likes to play with his live toys right in front of me, as if he needs to have an audience. Puh-lease, Pumpkin! This was not how I planned on spending my Friday morning.

IMG_2191

What is it with my cat? Why does he need to do his dirty deeds in front of me? He could have picked any other place around our large house, but pretty much every morning, this is what he does – catches, plays with, kills, and eats mice, birds, and snakes. It grosses me out. I really don’t enjoy it, although my boys do (and they love to tell me in great detail about the insides of the victims). Boys!

I’ve seen a video making the rounds and some have shared it with me. It’s about a pastor who also likes to be in the limelight, and for some reason, this pastor reminded me of my cat who puts himself in my field of vision so I’m forced to watch him. The very beginning of the story is detailed at WINK news, but here’s a summary:

Last month, a 9-yr old boy came home from Gospel Baptist Church in Bonita Springs, Florida, with a gun he found in the restroom. His mother notified authorities, and thankfully, nobody was hurt. Later, the long-time pastor of the church, Pastor William Lytell, was contacted by media about the incident. Lytell shared with his congregation about how a reporter came to him wanting more details of the story:

“But I got a kick when the guy came to interview me, I knew, I knew what was going to happen. I know how those news people think. They are looking for a story. They are desperate for a story. Their job relies on having a story.  . . . I felt led to do it – to give the guy a story.  I bet they go out there and film that sign, “male leadership” and that’s going to go out throughout the whole county. Do you know what we’d have to pay to do something like that?  That’s probably a $100,000 gift. I’m not going to thank the person that left the weapon, however.” (JA transcription)

Well, just like my cat, Pumpkin, who insists I watch him conquer and destroy his play toy and acts like the king of the castle, Pastor Lytell seems to have a need to draw attention to himself as he relays the story about the gun and then uses the gun story to get on his pet (pun intended) topic of men and male leadership. He thinks God was merciful in giving him a free media gift valued $100,000 by having the opportunity to share about “male leadership” throughout the community via the media report. No, I don’t think it’s about God being merciful, I think it’s Lytell taking advantage of his lofty position on his own scratching post, aka his pulpit.

Thanks to Bad Preachers who uploaded this March 29 sermon to their YouTube account, we can hear this man in all of his pompous male glory spouting off.

H/T to Rawstory transcribed more:

“Don’t you be ashamed you go to a church with male leadership,” Lytell said. “Every church that’s right with God oughta have a sign: ‘Male Leadership.’ Because that’s the only kind of leadership, both from Adam all the way to the last part of the Bible. It’s all been male. This is a man’s world!”

“And all the men said, ‘Amen!’” he continued. “There aren’t many places were men can ever rejoice anymore without feeling about half-ashamed because they try to put you down or sue you or something, but brother this is a man’s world. You can say what you want, you can do what you want, but God made Adam in leadership and it’s going to end with a man in leadership. It doesn’t make men better, it is just God’s way.”

 

 ***

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There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galations 3:28

***

I feel bad for the women who walk in those church doors each week and subject themselves to that sign, the words of their, pastor, husbands, and men in the church who devalue women and their personhood and claim that it’s Biblical. I don’t think Jesus would be pleased.

Whose Rights are Protected in The Gospel Coalition’s Article on Churches and Current Legal Culture?

 Church Membership is being pushed in The Gospel Coalition’s recent article. Whose rights are protected?


 

Christina Holcomb, litigation counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, wrote an article for The Gospel Coalition (TGC), 5 Actions Churches Should Take in a Changing Legal Culture, which was published today.

I can’t help but perk up and take notice when I read about churches and legal counsel after having been sued by my former pastor, Chuck O’Neal, and the church, Beaverton Grace Bible Church. Please note that both my former pastor and the church were plaintiffs named in the lawsuit. Here are a couple of screenshots from this lovely document that altered the course of my life:

bgbc2

Back page:

bgbc

Ms. Holcomb summarizes the new threats she sees in our current culture as it relates to religious rights and freedoms:

These new political, cultural, and legal realities directly affect the church’s freedom to live out its faith. While most church decisions about internal governance or doctrine currently enjoy constitutional protection, churches cannot assume that these protections will stand indefinitely. Maintaining a gospel-centered witness in today’s culture requires not only standing firm on the truths of Scripture, but also taking affirmative steps to protect the church’s freedom to continue peacefully teach and live out its faith.

She gave a brief paragraph for the following points:

1. Adopt a written statement of faith about marriage.

2. Establish religious employment criteria.

3. Create a facility use policy.

4. Establish a written marriage policy.

It is the last point, “Adopt a written membership policy,” where I would like to focus.  Here is what she wrote:

5. Adopt a written membership policy.

Only those persons who “unite” with the church have consented to the church’s authority over them. As a result, churches with formal members have greater legal protection when it becomes necessary to exercise church discipline. Churches are encouraged to adopt a written membership policy that explains the procedure for becoming a church member, procedures for member discipline, and procedures for rescinding church membership.

Of course, this recommendation does not mean that a church should adopt a form of church government to which it does not subscribe. Churches can still have designated members who affirm they are committed to and part of a church body, even if there is no voting or say in church practices.

Okie-dokie, I have a couple of thoughts:

Notice in the first sentence:  Only those persons who “unite” with the church have consented to the church’s authority over them

When you become a member, you are agreeing/consenting to the church’s authority over you.

Ok, now take a look at the second sentence:  As a result, churches with formal members have greater legal protection when it becomes necessary to exercise church discipline.

Look again closely. Who has the protection?  The member or the church?

Also please note that she’s encouraging all churches to adopt a written membership policy. 


 

Christiana Holcomb lays it out for us pretty clearly. She says the church must protect themselves first.

But when abusive church leadership has the law on their side and they don’t agree with you, a covenant-signed church member, you could be hosed.


 

I was sued without being a church member (despite the fabrications you read elsewhere by Chuck O’Neal). We never signed any documentation, never went before the church body to say we were formally agreeing to be members. I have a copy of the bylaws and know what membership entails and we were not official members, but my daughter and I were still sued.

Imagine, however, being in an abusive church in which your church membership is hung over your head and you are reminded that you signed the dotted line. You may have forfeited some of your legal rights. Please think very carefully about church membership. It is not a biblical mandate. It is a modern cultural trend.

 

Edited to add:  It looks like Dee at The Wartburg Watch blog also had a strong reaction to this article and wrote a blog post. There are some real practical helps here: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2015/04/09/further-proof-you-are-signing-a-legal-contract-not-a-membership-covenant-courtesy-of-the-gospel-coalition/

Mark Dever’s New Book and Pastors Who Use Language to Control Their Members to Not Connect with Others Outside of Church-Approved Groups

Mark Dever, 9Marks, and other pastors using language to control and coerce members to not engage in outside activities without church endorsement

 


Mark Dever’s parachurch organization, 9Marks, is advertising a new book written by Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop. The book entitled, The Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church Attractive (9Marks), is due to be released this month and 9Marks is using their Facebook page to bring attention to it.

Kathi recently posted about it on the SSB Facebook page (and I noticed a new Facebook advertisement from 9Marks yesterday):

 


9Marks, Mark Dever, Compelling Community, Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 9.50.34 AM

 


Kathi included her comments:

I’m confused. Does 9Marks think it’s okay for Christians to unite and create community around something that doesn’t focus on the gospel?

What if I started a knitting group and the knitters happen to be all Christian. What if we don’t talk about the gospel once – at all – during our knitting time. But, we sit, knit, drink wine and enjoy each other’s company. Is that bad? (I think I may know the answer already. -KB)

Kathi raises a good point. What about other gatherings?  Do you see the subtle unspoken rule in this phrase?

 When Christians unite around something other than the gospel, they create community that would likely exist even if God didn’t.

Before I go any further, let’s take a look at the book’s summary from Amazon:

What does a community look like that testifies to God’s power?

God’s people are called to a togetherness and commitment that transcends all natural boundaries—whether ethnic, generational, or economic. But such community can only be enjoyed when it relies on the power of God in the gospel.

In The Compelling Community, pastors Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop cast a captivating vision for authentic fellowship in the local church that goes beyond small groups. Full of biblical principles and practical advice, this book will help pastors lead their congregations toward the kind of community that glorifies God, edifies his people, and attracts the lost. (Source: Amazon)

Ok, Kathi brought up a knitting group and coincidentally I was in a knitting group while attending my former church which I believe runs like a cult, Beaverton Grace Bible Church. This knitting group consisted of some friends from a former church and also other knitting friends, some were Believers, some not. I was never told not to go to the knitting group by my pastor, but I felt guilty each time I went. I felt I was betraying someone, but who?  Yes, I thought I was betraying my pastor and his “mission.”

Whenever I played the piano for the local high school choir and the concert coincided with Wednesday evening services, I felt guilty that I wasn’t spiritual enough, that I was letting my church family down. These guilty feelings really weighed on me. Why couldn’t I spend time with great friends and knit, even if the conversation didn’t always revolve around the gospel? Why couldn’t I share my love of music with high school students who were part of my community? We were building relationships and I was getting to know people in my community. Where was this division coming from?

My gut proved me right. I later got word from my friend who was a staff employee that my pastor, Chuck O’Neal, did NOT like me meeting with other ladies to knit. He controlled the influence over the ladies in his church. This was a church that would allow baby showers and bridal showers, but there were no ladies Bible studies. At our ladies retreat, aside from a few sessions with ladies from our church leading devotional type discussions, our primary teaching came from Chuck O’Neal via videotape.  The second year I went to the ladies retreat was a mix up of the ladies speaking, but again, we took the same videotape and hit play and Chuck O’Neal spoke to us again (the content on the video is worthy of a separate blog post). I guess he didn’t have time to give us new information to learn.

The underlying message I got from the nonverbal communication was this:

  • you can do things together as a group as long as they are church-approved, meaning Chuck O’Neal approved
  • you don’t get to have any teachings unless I (pastor) am teaching them or I give special permission for one of the elders to preach (rarely)
  • if you do anything that doesn’t include the church community or is not church-approved, the activity is suspect

9Marks and Mark Dever are known for their strict church membership policies. I’m sure this goes along with their thoughts on keeping a pure community without outside influence. In this short video clip, we hear about the importance of committed church members and the church community. We also see a strong belief in a hierarchical structure of pastors and their belief that church membership is crucial to be an effective church and community

 

 


I think we can get to the heart of the message when Jamie Donlop shares at the 1:34 mark. He’s talking about the church community within the physical building, not about the Christian community at large.

Ok, here is where JA rants.

Based on what I know about 9Marks, I am concerned about the underlying message of this forthcoming book.  I am also concerned that this book will get in the hands of abusive leadership – leaders who know how to use words in a way that make congregants feel guilty for participating in a bowling league, a community choir, a nonprofit group, etc. You will see that these leaders won’t come out and tell you to not participate in outside activities – that’s too cult-like. But they will speak in language with an underlying tone that if you do, you are showing your lack of commitment to their church community. You may even hear that they are concerned about your soul. They want all of the church members (and you’ve got to be a member) to behave like they do – – 110% committed to the church at any and all times unless there is a justifiable excuse (illness, business trip, vacation).

Folks, these leaders are responding in fear. When one is living in fear, there is the need to be in control. They are afraid of losing you (your tithes may be part of this fear, but not always) and so they use gospelese lingo and hand-selected Bible verses to keep you where they want you. If you don’t do something that is church-sanctioned, if you are missing church for other activities, they interpret it as your lack of commitment to their church community.  In other words, they fear they are losing their grip on you.

Here’s the deal. This is more about church leaders owning their congregants and ruling over them rather than trusting congregants to use their own discernment and make their own decisions about what activities in which to participate.

Chuck O’Neal had no clue that as we were knitting, we were inviting other ladies into our group. One lady came for months and was led to Christ. The love of Christ had shown through the ladies at that knitting group and it drew her to Christ. This group of Christians from different churches, all with a heart for Jesus, met this precious woman where she was and loved on her. Christ’s love was speaking through His church Body at large, through the Believers in this knitting group, not through a pastor-approved group.

The reality that these controlling authority figures forget to realize is that there is real church happening outside their church, too. But because they aren’t apart of it and it hasn’t gone through their gospel purity test, they cannot approve/endorse it.  To that I say, oh well – they need to get over it.

We do not need the approval of our pastors to share our gifts outside of the church, to have relationships outside of the church, to participate in activities outside of the church.  We are to be a light in the darkness, not holed up and tethered to our church building and its church-approved activities. I do not see so much of this emphasis in Scripture. I, do, however, see Jesus out among the sick, the poor, the oppressed and other Believers. He was out in the community.

At your church, are you feeling guilty for doing “non-approved” outside activities? If you feel like you need your church’s permission to do outside activities, you might want to dig a little deeper and ask what other aspects of your life they are controlling. Is this a safe place for you spiritually? Are you encouraged to use your gifts? Are they encouraging you to hear from God or are they telling you what God says as if they are mediator?

I am very concerned that pastors who have a need to be in control will use this book, written by a well-known celebrity pastor and endorsed by the respected 9Marks group, to further justify pulling in the reins on their congregation. When you have a leader who decides how you get to use your time outside of church, making decisions for your outside activities, you are heading into cult-type behavior. Watch out!

 

 

 

SSB Gathering – April 5, 2015

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

 by Kathi

 trilium flower

Luke 24: 1-12

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'” Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

***

***

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

***
Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

***

Photo credit: Brian Bonham

Did Former Vision Forum President Doug Phillips Play Hide-and-Seek with Process Server?

 


 

Former Vision Forum President and prominent Christian homeschool leader, Doug Phillips, apparently made attempts to evade process server


 

So . . . the other day, I was sent something interesting about Doug Phillips – a public court document. I shared with Kathi the gist of it and asked if she had any ideas of background music to help set the mood. She sent me this and it’s just perfect.

In order to get into the right groove and get a full experience when reading the legalese, you really must hit “play” on the following YouTube video.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Evidently a process server tried to serve Doug Phillips last year and you will read details of the process server’s attempts and summary. Attempts is the key word there.
Even though this document is publicly available, I have decided to blacken the process server’s name, personal addresses, etc., for obvious reasons.

 


 


Process Server doug Phillips  2015-04-01 at 10.38.32 PM

 

Ok, here is the fun part. Turn up the volume:

 

doug phillips process se

 

 

I’m not sure if Phillips was ever successfully served, but perhaps the they might want to try this method for serving Phillips next time:

 


 


 

One has to wonder how the judge in his case will think about Doug Phillips, who is a lawyer, trying to evade being served.

***

 

 


Related links:

Phillips resigned from Vision Forum Ministries late October of 2013. He is currently in the middle of a lawsuit (Lourdes Torres, Alleged Victim in the Doug Phillips (Vision Forum) Sex Abuse Scandals Files Lawsuit).

You can find more information about why Assurance insurance company went after Phillips in this article: 

Man Shares Personal Testimony of How Bill Gothard Used Bible Verses Which Led to the Abuse of Children, Part 2

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Personal Story of Abuse following the teachings of Bill Gothard, ATI, IBLP

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The following is Part 2 of Dash sharing how the teachings of Bill Gothard influenced his parents to “spank” his siblings. Although I know Dash’s identity, he has asked to remain anonymous. Dash’s account shows that they were not spankings, but abuse:

I am a survivor of Gothard’s cult. I experienced unspeakable physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from my mother and father, who were at one point among Gothard’s “model parents.” Gothard is not human. Gothard does not deserve compassion. Gothard is not a man, and he does not have the slightest shred of decency or humanity within him. Bill Gothard is a monster in human form, and as far as I am concerned, he can’t die soon enough.

I asked Dash questions about his childhood and more specifics about how he was disciplined. Again, I must issue a trigger warning to those who have experienced abuse.  There may be some parents reading who used to follow Gothard’s teachings and have now left that behind. This, too, might be difficult for you to read.

In the following, Dash responds to my questions. My questions are in green:

What kinds of things did you and your sister do that resulted in “spankings?”  Can you give an example of what disobedience looked like, i.e, talking back, not doing what you were told to do, etc.?
It’s hard to dredge up specific examples of behaviors that resulted in beatings (I’m going to use the term “beating” rather than “spanking,” because that’s what they were), because frankly my recollection of the events leading up to the beatings are hazy. However, punishable offenses included: Not getting a chore done on time, or to the required degree of perfection (chores included dusting, vacuuming, taking out the trash). Arguing or fighting with my siblings (to clarify, I have an older sister and younger brother), and I mean trivial things like arguing over which record we were going to listen to or who got to play with which stuffed animal. Arriving home late from a friend’s house, arriving home late after school, not getting out of bed promptly in the morning, complaining about going to church. The list is endless.

As our family began to seriously decay and slide toward doom, punishments extended to include: making a salad incorrectly, accidentally dropping a dish or a milk bottle, getting the bathroom floor wet during a bath, not setting the table for dinner quickly enough, forgetting to put clothes in the laundry basket, putting a book back on the bookshelf in the wrong place. In other words, any trivial perceived imperfection became grounds for beatings.

One of the worst beatings of my life was administered by my mother around nine years old when we were making chocolate chip cookies. I was given the task of running the hand-held mixer, which I was happy to do because then I might get one of the detachable beaters with cookie batter on it after. I was standing on a stool, and I turned to ask my mother a question. Being an absent-minded kid, when I turned I unconsciously lifted the mixer out of the batter and cookie dough flew all over the wall. My mom went livid and slapped me full in the face, knocking me sprawling off the stool. She then dragged me bawling upstairs and beat me with the 3/4″ dowel rod for almost 30 minutes.
What made them stop the beatings after an hour or however long?  Was there something you or your sister did that helped them to stop? Were your parents looking for signs of remorse?  Did they finally give up?
The stipulation was that we had to hold still and submissively accept the beating, and we had to stop crying and be silent and not make a sound. This was a specific part of Gothard’s beating protocol, found in one of his pamphlets: the silent, limp submission to a beating was his metric for a “repentant spirit.”

To this day, I cannot show normal emotional responses to my environment as a result of this aversive conditioning; I reflexively suppress every emotional response. I cannot maintain a long-term relationship with a woman because of this emotional dysfunction, which is why I am still single at 44. I have had therapists hint that I might be a sociopath because of the superficial appearance of this emotional dysfunction, which I know not to be the case. I have emotions, I just cannot show or express them properly. It makes me want to kill myself.

Did your parents talk to you while you were getting “spanked?”  How was their tone of voice? Were they yelling or did they use a normal tone of voice?  Did they use scripture while “spanking?”  Did they pray with you after?
They would yell and scream and bellow. They would tell us what bad, awful, evil, horrible, sinful children we were. In the beginning, there was no pretext of spiritual context; later on as I got older and the beatings continued, my father began making attempts to pray with us after a beating, as if it was a spiritual exercise. For the most part, however, the beatings took place in an atmosphere of apoplectic, psychotic rage, especially when my mother was administering them. I use the term “psychotic” because my mother has been diagnosed as bipolar, and her fits of apoplexy were probably manic fugues. It was terrifying. To this day I have nightmares about it.
Did they realize you were bruised?  Did they ever acknowledge they went overboard or apologize?
The bruising and other injuries (which at one point for me included a broken finger, and for my brother once included a broken forearm) were never acknowledged by my parents. It was implied that we deserved it. “That’s what you get for your sinful disobedience” was the message.
My parents have never really acknowledged the specific details of what they did. Both of them have acknowledged that hitting us was wrong, but we can’t discuss details properly because they are so horrified and humiliated by the recollection of what they did to us. My mother has sobbing fits when I try to bring any of this up. Both my parents have tried to make amends through financial reparations: paying for therapists, occasionally helping with rent or medical bills. But I’m still broken, so everyday life is a constant struggle. I wake up every morning and look in the mirror, and I have to find a reason not to kill myself.
I have a cat that I adopted 13 years ago who snuggles with me and is my little buddy. Having a cat is the only thing that keeps me going; I have to take care of my cat, so I can’t kill myself. I have to focus on something other than myself in order to go on living. It’s pretty bleak.
I’d like to state again for the record that Gothard apologists are remorseless sadists, and this includes that Alfred character who comments on your blog. These people KNOW THAT THESE THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN THE IBLP/ATI PROGRAM, AND THEY ARE FINE WITH IT. They are sociopaths. And Gothard is a monster, because he knows about these events and he ENCOURAGES THEM.
photo credit: bark via photopin cc

Update on Lourdes Torres-Manteufel vs Doug Phillips Lawsuit

 

Lourdes Torres-Manteufel vs Doug Phillips Vision Forum Lawsuit Update

 

Several weeks ago, a reader asked if I had any updates on the Lourdes Torres-Manteufel vs. Doug Phillips lawsuit. I contacted David C. Gibbs III to see if he could provide us with an update on the case and he has done so:

 

The Torres lawsuit is proceeding on two fronts, one in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio division, Case 5:14-cv-00758-HLH and the underlying state lawsuit in Texas State Court, 438th Judicial District, Bexar County, Cause No: 2014-CI-05999.

The federal lawsuit was filed by Assurance Company of America (insurance carrier) to deny coverage to Vision Forum and Phillips. That case is set to end discovery in May and is set for trial in July of 2015.

The underlying Texas state lawsuit has been amended to include additional defendants Don Hart, Scott Brown, and James Zes (three men who were on the board of directors for Vision Forum Ministries). Discovery is ongoing in the state case and trial is set for March of 2016.

Lourdes Torres appreciates the prayers and concern of people from across the nation as she wants to rebuild her life and overcome the abuse she endured.

 

  ~David C. Gibbs III, March 28 2015

 
 

 

Related Links:

SSB Gathering – March 29, 2015

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

 by Kathi

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John 12: 12-19

(12) The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. (13) They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the King of Israel!”

(14) Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, (15) “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” (16) At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

(17) Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. (18) Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. (19) So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

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Psalm 118: 22-29

(22) The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; (23) the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. (24) This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

(25) O Lord, save us; O Lord, grant us success. (26) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you.

(27) The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. (28) You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.

(29) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

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May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

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Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

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Man Shares Personal Testimony of How Bill Gothard Used Bible Verses Which Led to the Abuse of Children

Personal Story of Abuse following the teachings of Bill Gothard, ATI, IBLP

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Last month, “Dash” commented on an older SSB article, Bill Gothard’s New Program/Ministry: Total Success Power Teams. He used some strong words to describe his experience:

I am a survivor of Gothard’s cult. I experienced unspeakable physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from my mother and father, who were at one point among Gothard’s “model parents.” Gothard is not human. Gothard does not deserve compassion. Gothard is not a man, and he does not have the slightest shred of decency or humanity within him. Bill Gothard is a monster in human form, and as far as I am concerned, he can’t die soon enough.

In the comments, Dash was asked to share more, and did so with me privately. I have compiled them into this article (and at least one more article). Dash’s words were difficult for me to read, especially because of my own abusive childhood, but also because of many years of teachings I was subjected to as a parent, including Gothard’s materials, so I am going to issue trigger warnings for anyone who might be triggered by childhood abuse, by spiritual abuse, etc.

Responses to Lawsuit Filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries

Dash Explains Why He is Telling His Story Now

I have chosen to share my story with you because I’m 44 years old and it’s time for me to start talking, to anyone who cares enough to listen. I’ve already lost more than half my time to Gothard, and I want my life back. He’s 80 years old and I believe he is still damaging people in alarming ways, and he is leaving behind a deeply rooted, vile and secretively violent institution that seems to be poised to grind forth in his absence and continue churning out his awful work upon the next generation. I want to put a stop to IBLP, and I want to end Gothard’s legacy as utterly as possible. Everything he has ever written, touched, or talked about is poisoned and poisonous, and it must be destroyed.

Specifically, I’d like to talk about those aspects of Gothard’s teachings which were protocols for physical abuse: examples include blanket training, beating children with rods, and the sheer exasperation of parents whose children failed the rules of the program which would result in explosions of rage and indiscriminate hitting. In particular, Gothard’s distortions of the following verse were extremely detrimental:

Proverbs 23:13- Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

Gothard devoted a great deal of written material, both IBLP and ATI, to using this verse as a premise for encouraging brutal beatings, albeit using roundabout phrasing and “soft” language which absolved him legally of any actual responsibility. At least, that’s how my parents interpreted it.

Part of my frustration in confronting Gothard stems from the fact that my family threw out a lot of Gothard’s most offensive ATI literature, some of which included blatantly racist arguments encouraging white followers to apply the “Quiverfull” practice, and to avoid miscegenation (in addition to the pamphlets encouraging beatings). So I can’t document a lot of these anecdotes. The basic literature quoting Proverbs 23:13, however, is part of the Red Book I believe; so it begins there.

“Spanking” vs Beatings

Also, I would like to be very clear about this point: “spanking” was not what we experienced in my family. These were actual beatings, ranging anywhere from five minutes to an hour or more. The beatings were delivered to the buttocks, thighs, and lower back, and sometimes the hands, fingers, and forearms (defensive injuries), in response to any perceived slight, offense, or rules violation.

Depending on the severity of the of the punishment, anything from a wooden spoon to a 3/4″x2′ dowel rod was used. My parents actually had an array of dowel rods to choose from (at least a dozen) ranging from a thin one about 1/8″ thick to the 3/4″ terror previously described. Occasionally my dad would use his belt, a heavy leather belt with a weighty brass buckle. Not often, though, because the belt would leave visible bruises.

My sister and I would go to school with huge black and purple welts across our buttocks, carefully placed so that they were covered by our clothes, and we would sit at our desks in excruciating pain with tears streaming silently down our faces. This was during our initial participation in ATI, but before we enrolled full-bore in home-schooling.

My parents were very clear that these practices were part of our Gothard instruction.

On the few occasions when I met Gothard in person, he actually stated that he believed spanking made children healthier and more successful. He would then quote the proverb about beating. He was very good about mincing words in order to evade responsibility.

If you have questions at this point, it would help the dialogue. I’m happy to type everything I can think of, but I get so bogged-down and blinded with rage that it becomes difficult to think clearly. Answering questions is very focusing for me.

(JA note:  On the next post, I have asked Dash specific questions and he responds to those questions.

I’m not interested in confronting Gothard on Christian terms, in accordance with church protocols. He forfeited that privilege decades ago. I want worldly justice. I want a genuine reckoning from the man. I want to burn his entire legacy to the ground, and stand amid the ashes and say to the world, “This was a man who ruined thousands upon thousands of lives. Nothing to see here. Please move along.”

The greatest and most dangerous fallacy that I keep hearing from Gothard apologists is the argument “Gothard my be imperfect, but his teachings are still right.” No, no and no. This is a lie: an ugly, flat-out foul and evil lie, intended to continue perpetuating Gothard’s abusive legacy. Everything Gothard teaches is wrong, all of it, even his direct Scripture quotes, because the CONTEXT is wrong. It places Gothard in the seat of worship instead of Christ. Everything Gothard ever taught or ever will teach must be discarded. If people want answers, they should listen to the Holy Spirit, and not any human teacher.

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The Dangerous Fallacies of Gothard Apologists

I’ve stated this in a previous email, but it bears repeating. The greatest and most dangerous fallacy that I hear from Gothard apologists is the argument “Gothard may be imperfect, but his teachings are still right.” This is blatantly false. Everything Gothard teaches is wrong, all of it, even his direct Scripture quotes, because the CONTEXT is wrong. It places Gothard in the seat of worship instead of Christ.

Everything Gothard ever taught or ever will teach must be discarded. If people want answers, they should read the Bible and listen to the Holy Spirit. They should not listen to Gothard or any other human teacher; they should make up their own minds.

 he second greatest fallacy I hear from Gothard apologists is “Many families have a great experience in IBLP and ATI. If your family had a bad experience, it’s because you misinterpreted Gothard’s intentions.” This is also blatantly false. I believe Gothard does in fact intend for parents to beat their children. I would argue that anyone who claims to have had a good experience with Gothard, IBLP, or ATI is either lying, deluded, or sadists themselves. If you got 4-5 years into ATI and you actually applied everything in the publications that Gothard sent you, especially the material based on Proverbs 23:13, you would have had an identical experience to mine.

I would argue that those who believe that they had a positive experience with Gothard are the ones who are in fact misinterpreting his intentions… just as I would argue that those who defend his behavior from the ongoing accusations of sexual misconduct are deluding themselves as to his true nature, and are blind to the damage he has inflicted.

Dash Believes Bill Gothard to be a Con Artist and Explains Why

I believe that Gothard is a consummate con artist. In spite of the endless documentation of the damage he has done, Gothard still manages to convince his inner circle of friends that he is a good man with good intentions who merely stumbled a little bit, and his victims are more to blame than he is for making such a big deal out of “nothing.” There are two explanations for this phenomenon:

  •  The first explanation is that genuinely hurting people, like my mother, who are desperate for real answers and a real connection with God, are easily misled by Gothard’s overpowering charm, his carefully crafted image, and his claims of secret knowledge and a special understanding of the Bible. These people are broken to begin with, and the hurt piled on hurt that Gothard inflicts is too much for them to comprehend; they defend Gothard out of reflex as all abuse victims will defend an abuser, due to Stockholm syndrome and an inability to comprehend their own damages and failures.
  • The second explanation is that Gothard appeals to genuine sadists and sociopaths, such as your commenter Alfred who obviously has zero concern for Gothard’s victims and is committed entirely to defending Gothard and behaving as vindictively toward his accusers as possible. These people are reprehensible scumbags. I would use a more graceful word to describe them, but there isn’t one.

JA note: Alfred, who was mentioned above, is Alfred Corduan, who commented on this SSB post. You can also see his comments on articles at the Gothard survivor site, Recovering Grace website, where he continually defends Bill Gothard. 

I would like to close at this time by saying that while I no longer call myself a Christian, I never gave up on Christ. I still believe in the Great Commandment:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I don’t do so well with the first part; loving God is next to impossible when I don’t know who God is, and I blame Gothard for that. I may yet end up in hell, and there’s nothing I can do about it. So I focus on the second part, and I try to love my fellow-man as best I can. That’s the best I can do. I can’t save myself. Only God can do that, if he wants to.

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photo credit: bark via photopin cc

A Spider Web of Emergent Leader Tony Jones and His Business and Christian Celebrity Supporters

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Emergent Leader Tony Jones has a group of friends who fail to look beyond the benefits his celebrity status gives them

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Have you been following the ongoing Tony Jones/Julie McMahon strife in social media lately?  Tony Jones is part of the Emerging Church movement. R.L. Stollar did a great piece summing it up and here is a quick overview:

On January 27, 2015, Emerging Church leader Tony Jones released a statement responding to allegations of abuse against him by his former wife, Julie McMahon.

These allegations, which date back to 2008 when Jones served McMahon divorce papers, received a breath of new life in the last year in the comments section of David Hayward’s blog post about Jones and Mark Driscoll, “Tony Jones on Mark Driscoll: What came first, the thug or the theology?” They then came to the forefront of numerous people’s attentions when popular Christian leaders Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber announced their WX15 conference, originally produced by Tony Jones’s organization, the JoPa Group. Several concerned fans of Evans, for example, commented on one of her blog posts about Evans and Bolz-Weber’s associating with Jones. “I saw your upcoming conference featuring women and got super excited,” said one individual, “until I saw that you’re partnering with Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt for the event. This is surprising to me because you’ve always been an advocate for the abused and for victims, but Tony Jones had been accused by his ex wife of some serious things, including throwing her against a wall and dislocating her shoulder from its socket.” A Response to Tony Jones’s Statement

Here is how Tony Jones responded publicly about his divorce:

Being a theologian has always felt like the right fit for me. I realize that my divorce impacts my credibility in some circles, but I am thankful for the communities that continue in relationship with me and continue to allow me to serve in the capacity I have felt called to since middle school. – Tony Jones 

Interesting … he still feels called to ministry despite one of the most bitter, contentious, and ongoing divorce court battles I’ve seen (the battle still continues today), while evidently leaving his wife and children in dire financial situation. But it is the second part of this quote that I’d like to focus on:

… but I am thankful for the communities that continue in relationship with me and continue to allow me to serve in the capacity I have felt called to since middle school.

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What communities?  Who is allowing him to serve in the capacity he has felt called to since middle school?  Who are these people who ignore domestic violence among their ranks in support of a friend? 

There is a disturbing pattern that we have seen time and again, where the church creates a climate where leaders defend other leaders for no other reason except that they are their buddies, meanwhile the marginalized, the abused are left in the dust. Let me name a few stories SSB has covered:

It has happened in Calvary Chapel: Chuck Smith knew of the gross abuse problems going on with Pastor Bob Grenier and his church and sons. But the abuse was overlooked and Chuck Smith essentially said his hands were tied. It’s messy to call out one of “your own,” isn’t it?

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It has happened in my case. After Chuck O’Neal’s lawsuit against me and four others was dismissed, he tried to recreate his image and has done so by buying a relationship. Chuck O’Neal’s church supports Tony Miano monthly for his full-time street preacher “ministry” and also endorsed Tony Miano’s book. They speak at conferences together. Do you think that Tony Miano would ever speak out against Chuck O’Neal and his bad behavior for suing?  Nope, nada. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

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In the Sovereign Grace Ministries/CJ Mahaney situation, we saw how pastors covered up for each other and kept known sex abuse cases amongst themselves instead of reporting to authorities. The pastors continually denied knowing about these sexual abuse cases, yet once in court, one pastor finally admitted under oath that he did in fact know of the sex abuse coverup.

This lawsuit was dismissed only because of the Statute of Limitations, but the appalling pattern which we are observing is leaders in high places who deliberately turned a blind eye to known abuses. In C.J. Mahaney’s case, his friends in high places (at The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel), even wrote public statements in support of C.J. Mahaney. Not one of those men who issued those statements has publicly recanted them (although one of the statements has been removed).

But this is how I see it working with C.J. supporters: “We love C.J. Mahaney and what he stands for. He’s got all the right doctrine. He believes in complementarianism just like we do. He’s Reformed, he’s got charisma, he draws a crowd, and a crowd follows him at conferences and buys his books. He has endorsed the books that I wrote, so that means more people buy my books, so let’s not let a little church squabble interfere with OUR relationship. I’ll just let C.J. Mahaney handle his church because it really doesn’t affect me.”

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We are now watching the same pattern unfold with Tony Jones and his circle of friends who have come to his defense.

They have done this publicly via statements of support, they also support him by endorsing his books, inviting him to speak, etc. Additionally, some of these defenders shut down anyone who challenges their endorsement of their good buddy, Tony Jones. They shut down the conversation by removing comments, unfollowing on Twitter, etc.

In fact it was seeing this kind of behavior by a notable friend of Tony Jones which prompted a recent tweet of mine:

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They have even attempted to shut down conversation by threatening lawsuits against bloggers who speak out or allow conversations on their blog. Yes, David Hayward was threatened when he allowed Julie McMahon and others a place to share their personal story on his blog post. Her voice was previously silenced in Emergent circles and she was referred to as “bat-shit crazy.” (That exact and very memorable phrase was heard by people who had never even met Julie, but were warned to stay away from her.)

I stumbled across a great video which describes the pattern of what is going on with Tony Jones and his friends. Some call this kind of network diagram a mind map, others call it a spider web. Whatever the term, “Emergent Parody” uses it to show how Tony Jones and some other people involved with Emergent events and books are all tied together. This video is only 4 minutes long, but as you see the web of connections between these folks, we have to ask ourselves, “who is benefiting from these business-like connections?”

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Brad Sargent has been following and writing the ongoing developments in the Tony Jones situation, especially as it relates to abuse systems. This is from his article, 10 Institutional: Christian Industrial Complex:

If/when money becomes a major issue to the insider elites, the oligarchy typically becomes a plutarchy (i.e., plutocracy, rule by the rich). This is where the individual celebrities link up with complementary financial partners: event sponsors and promoters, publishers, speakers bureaus, social media platforms, certifying agencies, etc. Where grassroots movements might be far more sustainable, the consumer networks require constant streams of new products to keep the income maintainable – and sometimes the reduction in the size of the celebrity group at the top of the publicity pyramid.

When the demand side of consumers marries with the supply side of elites-and-partners, this once-creative counterculture is on the way to a closed system. Only those individuals who have the required platform, message, social media following, connections with others in the directory are allowed to be designated as elite insiders, and – for “the greater good” – there is now a gridlock against outside voices that critique. Inside critiquers are likewise not very welcome, and so various enforcers of the system find ways to silence, deflect, or remove them.

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Update on Alecia Pennington, Homeschool Alumna with No Legal Identification for Job, College, Passport, Driver’s License, etc.

 

Update on Alecia Pennington, the homeschool alumna who has no legal identification.

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First Church Men’s Breakfast Group

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Families of First Church’s Men’s Breakfast Group Mourn Their Loss

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Please pray for the families of First Church’s Men’s Breakfast Group as they grieve. The Men’s Breakfast Group was comprised of faithful men who cherished God’s word. More than just a once a month pancake gathering, the Men’s Breakfast Group loved serving God near and far. Last year they put a new roof on Widow Smith’s house. But her neighbor Widow Jones didn’t qualify for them to unstop her sink while they were there because she has able-bodied nephews who could do the task.

For this year’s annual short-term missionary trip, the men heard of a village in Kaping, Micronesia that needed a bridge over a creek. While there, they contracted a bacterial infection that the natives are immune to.  Don Miller, a recent convert, had taken a medical journal with the remedy. The book was authored by Terry Gold.

Being the Bereans that they were, they knew better than to receive instruction from a woman and offend God. When they could not determine with absolute certainty that Terry was a man, they threw the book in the ocean, thereby removing the temptation to consult it and condemn their souls while saving their lives. Such was their devotion to the Holy Scriptures.

A mealtrain has been set up to help feed their wives and children for a couple of weeks. To help the families financially, we have started a gofundme campaign as well.

contributed by: ACFJ’s Ellie

Flashback: This Week At the Shepherds’ Conference with Pastor Chuck O’Neal Three Years Ago

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Three years ago, I was sued by my ex-pastor, Chuck O’Neal, pastor of Beaverton Grace Bible Church, for speaking out on social media about the abuse we and other families incurred.

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