Insidious Behavior at The Village Church Regarding a Pedophile and His Former Wife

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Horrific story of spiritual abuse, mishandling of sex abuse, church membership, Matt Chandler, The Village Church, Jordan Root, pedophile, child pornography

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I woke up late this morning and checked my Twitter feed to find that many of my Twitter friends were shocked and appalled at the treatment of Karen Hinkley (formerly Karen Root) by Matt Chandler’s church, The Village Church.

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The Village Church, Matt Chandler, Jordan Root, pedophile, sex abuse, spiritual abuse

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Amy Smith, aka @watchkeep on Twitter, is an advocate for abuse survivor, a twitterer extraordinaire, and a champion for exposing truth. She compiled a shocking article presenting primary source documents and screenshots of text messages about this situation.

We don’t need to wonder why people are leaving churches. This is a prime example of why I will never, ever, ever sign a dotted line to become a member of a church.

I will briefly summarize the story, but please read Amy’s article here: She Speaks: The Village Church protects a confessed pedophile and “disciplines” his wife, a brave young woman and missionary

Also, The Wartburg Watch will be covering follow-up stories next week. I am so grateful for Amy and Dee who expose this nonsense. Hopefully, by shining the light on these types of stories, others will not have to suffer the same kind of pain Karen has experienced.

Imagine being on the mission field in a foreign country and finding out that your husband has been viewing child pornography. Imagine having to pack up your belongings and come back home to your sending church and wonder what your future holds.

Karen released a statement. The bulk of the statement is to make sure that the truth is exposed. She rightly shares this concern:

It is my sincere hope that Jordan has not sexually abused any children, but I believe the circumstances warrant his exposure so that any victims who might be out there can be identified and given an opportunity for justice and healing.

However, these two key paragraphs are worth noting. This is a common pattern we see in churches that do not handle sex abuse cases well. They will defend the perpetrator and victims of the abuser are treated as if they are the primary problem:

The inclination towards minimization and secrecy that the pastors and elders of The Village Church have displayed is inexcusable. And the spiritual abuse I have experienced at their hands is unacceptable from those who would represent Jesus Christ. Jesus cares deeply for the vulnerable and the voiceless. He speaks strongly against those who would victimize children, and he went toe-to-toe with the religious bullies of his day who “tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” (Matthew 23) The treatment of Jordan as the victim and me as the perpetrator by the leadership of the church is an appalling reversal that evidences priorities that are not in line with the Word of God.

And this one:

Pastors and elders of The Village Church, I urge you to rethink your hasty and public declaration of Jordan’s repentance and require him to seek out appropriate treatment for the nature and seriousness of his issues. I also urge you to conduct a thorough inquiry into how this situation unfolded and reform any policies and practices that contributed to your failure to respond appropriately. 

In Amy’s blog article, you will find a note Karen wrote to the leaders at The Village Church informing them that she is withdrawing her membership from the church. She also stated that she filed for an annulment from her pedophile husband.

A week or so later, she received this letter which outlined that The Village Church was putting her in church discipline for not allowing the church leadership to “care” for her. Furthermore, her soon-to-be ex-husband was NOT put in church discipline.

We have been perplexed by your decision to file for an annulment of your marriage without first abiding by your covenant obligations to submit to the care and direction of your elders. As I mentioned in my first letter, this decision violates your covenant with us – and places you under discipline. Per section 10.5 of The Village Church bylaws, you are prohibited from voluntarily resigning membership while subject to the formal disciplinary process. We cannot, therefore, accept your resignation. – See more at: http://watchkeep.blogspot.com/#sthash.f9fRwy2Y.dpuf

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The article documents statements pastors at The Village Church which defend Jordan Root, wanting to protect his reputation, for fear that people come to wrong conclusions. You really need to read the whole article and documents for yourself.

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Spiritual Abuse: What Motivates Abusers? Fear?

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What motivates those who spiritually abuse? Is it fear?

 

I recently read this quote by John Steinbeck and was thinking about it in the context of spiritual abuse and those who use their position of authority to control and abuse church members.

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What do you think? Is it fear that is motivating spiritual tyrants to bully and abuse?

Mark Driscoll, Dan Kellogg and Gold Creek Community Church’s Rap

Gold Creek Community Church, Pastor Dan Kellogg, Mark Driscoll and church rap and twerk video

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Twerking

Twerking outside of church

Twerking outside of church

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Why would a pastor invite someone he didn’t even know personally – someone with a bad public reputation as an abuser – to come and speak to his church?

It’s all becoming crystal clear about Gold Creek Community Church. Ann’s comment yesterday made a lot of sense and might help explain why Mark Driscoll was invited:

Mark Driscoll, Gold Creek Community Church, Pastor Dan Kellogg

Now, take a look at this video. What are they advertising? Do you hear anything about Christ mentioned?

This is a call to get people “back to church,” in other words, into their building for what????  So you can be a part of what? What is this? What are they advertising?

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Loosely transcribed rap song:

“Get Yourself (Back To Church)”

Hey, we’re making some noise in the 4-2-5, and the 2-0-6 and even the 3-6-0.

We’ve been playing all summer going here and there,

Not worrying about nothin, not even a care

But the summer’s winding down, and the end’s in sight,

Things are about to get normal, things about to get right.

Been camping in the rain in Deception Pass,

You’ve been sunning yourself in the Leavenworth grass,

Did the little summer hike to the Rainier peak,

Went to concerts in the street and an ___[???]_____

We’ve been working hard at the GC church, making plans for the fall at the GC church,

it’s going to be epic, gotta write this down, won’t want to miss church, gotta stay in town.

Chorus:
Get yourself, BACK TO CHURCH

Get yourself, BACK TO CHURCH

Get your big bad self, BACK TO CHURCH

Get yourself back to the Creek

Listen to the flow at the Creek. Oh yea, oh yea. Get yourself back to the Creek.

We’ve got a brand new series in the fresh kids zone,

Rockin’ the big top, won’t want to stay home,

From the tweens j high to the upper class,

We’re so polished up, it will cut like glass

Where’re my kids at? Where’re my kids at? Where’re my kids at? Where’re my kids at? Where’re my kids at? No seriously, where are my kids?

Get yourself, BACK TO CHURCH

Get yourself, BACK TO CHURCH

Get your big bad self, BACK TO CHURCH

Listen to the flow at the creek.

Events are planned so you gotta be there,

Special speakers are booked, breathe the fresh air

Events’ll be crackin’ like you’ve never seen,

The fall will be rollin’ with a brand new sheen,

We’re revving up the adult domain,

Sermon’s getting better, never be the same

Kickin’ up the worship, you won’t want to miss,

new video guy rockin’, his name is Chris.

Get yourself, BACK TO CHURCH

Get yourself, BACK TO CHURCH

Get your big bad self, BACK TO CHURCH

Listen. .  (BACK TO CHURCH) to the flow at the Creek, oh yea, oh yea,

Get yourself (BACK TO CHURCH) back to the Creek. Listen. Listen.

Get yourself (BACK TO CHURCH) back to the Creek. Oh yea.

Get yourself back to the Creek. Get yourself . . Get yourself. Get yourself back to the Creek, oh yea.

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I also wanted to make sure this is in a blog post: Gold Creek Community Church does not like you disagreeing with them in a public forum. They don’t even entertain gracious and heartfelt comments like the Facebook comment posted below. I became aware that several people had commented at Pastor Dan Kellogg’s blog Facebook page and the comments were removed, so I posted a note that I had the screenshot and would be posting it on my blog if it was removed. That did not seem to deter him, as both comments were removed within a couple of hours:

Markdriscoll1

Pastor Mark Driscoll Preaches at Pastor Dan Kellogg’s Gold Creek Community Church

Mark Driscoll preaches while former Mars Hill Members protest outside of Pastor Dan Kellogg’s Gold Creek Community Church

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Pastor Dan Kellogg of Gold Creek Community Church invited Pastor Mark Driscoll, former pastor of Mars Hill churches, to preach at his Seattle-area church yesterday. There was also a protest outside during the service by about a dozen former Mars Hill church members.

A leaflet distributed by demonstrators was entitled “Mark Driscoll – Unfit for any Pulpit”. It said: “We believe restoration is possible and we pray regularly for Mark. Putting Mark back in the pulpit as a leader in the Church now is not biblical. It is neither loving to him or to those with whom he has not reconciled.” (Source: Christianity Today: Mark Driscoll gets standing ovation from Seattle church, but protesters picket service)

Here is a link to the pdf of the leaftlet which was distributed (special thanks to Warren Throckmorton who has done a stellar job covering the Mark Driscoll saga). Below is a screen shot of the top portion of the leaflet:

Mark driscoll pdf Warren Throckmorton, Mars Hill, Gold Creek, Pastor Dan kellogg

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Before the service, Pastor Dan Kellogg released a blog article after he became aware that there would be protestors. Here are some notable quotes:

  • I have done my homework. He is a controversial speaker but after talking with his accountability board they said: “There is nothing Mark has done that disqualifies him from ministry”.
  • Very soon he will move and begin again in another city. He has learned some valuable lessons. He is a changed man.
  • I now know there will be protesters this morning. “Christians that are taking the time on Sunday morning to protest.” He is not their pastor. He has not committed the unforgiveable sin. They are angry and unforgiving. I wish they would take the time to hold signs that protest the Christians killed in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Nigeria. But, they will focus on Mark.

Before Driscoll took the stage, Pastor Dan Kellogg gave an introduction. I have transcribed it as follows:

Repurpose is really about repurposing your faith – our faith – and our church. When I started preparing for this series, there was a prompting in my spirit to consider inviting Mark Driscoll to come and to kick off this series. [Applause.] That’s cool.  Now, there’s no one better to speak on this subject and here’s why.  [Because] he’s in the middle of repurposing his life. If you know Mark, he’s in the middle of repurposing his life. Graciously, he’s agreed to speak today.

Before he comes out, though, I want to recognize three types of people that are sitting in the service here today. The first type of people … are people that just clapped that absolutely love Mark, many of them have found Christ in his ministry. And they’re here, they are thankful, they are excited about hearing from Mark again.

There are some who are here that have strong opinions against Mark. And you’re here. Thank you for being here. Many of you have made some of those opinions based on gossip – on somebody else’s … opinion of Mark. That’s not been fair to Mark. I believe he’s been unfairly treated by former staff people and by the media. And I want to support Mark and his family, especially during this time. [Chokes up.]

Some of you don’t know who Mark is. That’s a whole bunch of you – you go, “Who’s Mark? What are we talking about? What’s going on?” We’re glad you’re here. We just want you to have fun. So no matter what your opinion is today, I want you to be open to God’s Spirit today.  You don’t have to change your opinion. But you can hear from God today. We’re people of grace. If you don’t know this about us, Gold Creek is full of people of grace. We make room for anyone. We are not for everyone, but we’re for anyone, so I’m asking you to give Mark a warm welcome, a grace-filled welcome to the stage. Mark Driscoll, come up here.

You can hear Kellogg’s introduction and Driscoll’s sermon here:

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Have I missed it? Have we seen where Mark Driscoll has publicly apologized for how he treated his staff and members? Has he taken responsibility for the allegations of plagiarism that were noted in several of his books? Who is holding Mark Driscoll accountable now? Why are the victims dismissed and labeled as gossips? Did Kellogg and his team interview any people who have spoken out publicly to hear their side or see if Driscoll has made amends?

One word about all of this: disturbing.

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Related article: Grading Pastor Dan Kellogg’s Mark Driscoll Homework

SSB Gathering – May 17, 2015

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

 by Kathi

oswald west

Romans 12: 9-21

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what it good.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor , serving the Lord.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Live in harmony with one another.

Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

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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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photo credit: Brian Bonham

Kevin DeYoung Pushes Church Memberships and Making Vows

Church Membership, Pastor Kevin DeYoung, Making Vows, The Gospel Coalition, here we go again!

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At The Gospel Coalition website, Pastor Kevin DeYoung has a new article on church membership, 6 Reasons Why Membership Matters. The title is not correct. It should be:

“6 Reasons Why Church Membership Matters to Controlling Pastors.”

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As long as celebrity church leaders continue to push this dangerous teaching, my blogging friends from coast to coast will be pushing back.

Thank you, Amos, for bringing this article to my attention. Let’s just jump on in and I’ll add my editorial comments:

1. In joining a church you make visible your commitment to Christ and his people. Membership is one way to raise the flag of faith. You state before God and others that you are part of this local body of believers.

You do NOT need to be a member to raise the flag of faith. Your presence and fellowship among a body of believers is enough proof.

2. Making a commitment makes a powerful statement in a low-commitment culture. Many bowling leagues require more of their members than our churches.

Our commitment is to Christ and His precepts. Why is DeYoung keeping this so narrow to a body of believers at a church? The Body of Christ reaches far outside the confines of a physical building.

3. We can be overly independent. In the West, it’s one of the best and worst thing about us. We are free spirits and critical thinkers. We get an idea and run with it. But whose [sic] running with us? And are any of us running in the same direction? Membership states in a formal way, “I am part of something bigger than myself. I am not just one of three hundred individuals. I am part of a body.”

Part of a body following whom? One leader? How about following Christ?

4. Church membership keeps us accountable. When we join a church we are offering ourselves to one another to be encouraged, rebuked, corrected, and served. We are placing ourselves under leaders and submitting to their authority (Heb. 13:7). We are saying, “I am here to stay. I want to help you grow in godliness. Will you help me to do the same?”

There it is, the most popular verse used by leaders who to control their underlings. It does not require church membership to encourage one another. This is just nuts. When did church memberships start?  25-50 years ago?  Why weren’t there membership rules before that?

5. Joining the church will help your pastor and elders be more faithful shepherds. Hebrews 13:7 says “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.” That’s your part as “laypeople”. Here’s our part as leaders: “They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.”

Ack – two times he’s using that verse to push an authority position.

As a pastor I take very seriously my responsibility before God to watch care for souls. At almost every elders’ meeting the RCA Book of Church Order instructed us “seek to determine whether any members of the congregation are in need of special care regarding their spiritual condition and/or not making faithful use of the means of grace.”

Code language:  let’s see who is messing up so we can use our self-appointed authority positions and put people in church discipline. “Making faithful use of the means of grace?”  Say what? What exactly does this mean?

This is hard enough to do in a church like ours where there is constant turnover, but it’s even harder when we don’t know who is really a part of this flock.

Me thinks they probably take roll here to determine who is present or not present. Watch out!

To give just one example, we try to be diligent in following up with people who haven’t been at our church for a while. This is a challenge. But if you never become a member, we can’t tell if you are really gone, because we might not be sure if you were ever here! It’s nearly impossible for the elders to shepherd the flock when they don’t know who really considers them their shepherds.

Yup, there it is. And if I say that I can’t make it to Sunday because I’m out of town at my daughter’s volleyball tournaments, and that excuse doesn’t pass their test, then what? Church discipline?

6. Joining the church gives you an opportunity to make promises. . . . They are solemn vows. And we must hold each other to them. If you don’t join the church, you miss an opportunity to publicly make these promises, inviting the elders and the rest of the body to hold you to these promises-which would be missing out on great spiritual benefit, for you, your leaders, and the whole church.

Hold on, just a minute. Did he just say vows? This pastor is telling you to go against Scripture?

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. Matthew 5: 33-37

Articles from women bloggers (Dee and Deb from The Wartburg Watch) from the East Coast to SSB on the West Coast warning about these dangerous teachings:

Questionning the Morality and Ethics of Samuel James and His Recent Article

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 Samuel James, ERLC, watchdog blogs, abuse, and the church

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Merriam-Webster defines the following:

Morality

beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior

the degree to which something is right and good : the moral goodness or badness of something

Ethics

rules of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad

It’s important to take note of the meanings above when reading this article.

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Samuel James is Communications Specialist at The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and works directly for Russell Moore, who is President of the group.

Samuel James’ most recent blog article, What Not to Do When a Fellow Christian Embarrasses The Rest of Us, left quite a few people disturbed.

I tweeted about this particular article on Friday:

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I will be covering points 6 through 9 in this article. You can read the rest at his site.

At first, I was struck that this was yet another person giving the warning about “watchdog blogs:”

7) Don’t start a “watchdog blog.” Seriously, don’t ever.  

We’ve seen that before.

And then I discovered that Samuel James had preemptively blocked me on Twitter. We’ve also been seeing more and more of this pattern on Twitter. Mr. James then went on to block several others who were either bloggers or others who questioned him about his article:

Samuel James, ERLC Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 7.29.17 AM

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So, what we have here is, “I get to say what I want to say and you don’t get to respond back.”

That’s just rude. It’s also the pattern we see in abusive authority figures:  the no-talk rule. The no-talk rule prevents others from raising the alarm of abuse because any kind of negative talk is shoved under the carpet. If you can’t talk about the problem, then no one else will know about it. The dark secret stays contained and abuse continues.

But all of the above is trivial compared to what follows. I wonder about Mr. James and what he thinks about morality and ethics after reading the next paragraph, and I shudder to think about the group he represents (ERLC) if they believe as he does. This next paragraph is a doozy:

6) Don’t ever, ever, ever, EVER even passively, suggestively, or indirectly legitimize or rationalize bitterness and suspicion towards the church. If someone says to you, “This is why I don’t go to church,” they might think they’re telling the truth, but they’re not. They don’t love the church because they don’t love Jesus. Saying, “Yes, you have a point, church can be so frustrating” feels like empathy, but it’s not. It’s self-preserveration at the cost of slandering Christ’s body.

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Mark Lawrence’s response to Mr. James on Twitter is very important:

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G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) also left a response to the article on their Facebook page:

These types of posts written by church “leaders” are so damaging and hurtful for many reasons. Pious demands for silence are inconsistent with light, truth and love.

And finally, the last two comments:

8) Don’t read the comments.

Note:  Samuel James closed the comments on his own blog article.

9) Don’t leave a comment.

Note: Samuel James closed the comments on his own blog article.

Now, let’s take a look at ERLC’s first three ministry statements:

MISSION

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission exists to assist the churches by helping them understand the moral demands of the gospel, apply Christian principles to moral and social problems and questions of public policy, and to promote religious liberty in cooperation with the churches and other Southern Baptist entities.

MINISTRIES

1. ASSIST CHURCHES IN APPLYING THE MORAL AND ETHICAL TEACHINGS OF THE BIBLE TO THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.

Provide research, information resources, consultation, and counsel to denominational entities, churches and individuals with regard to the application of Christian principles in everyday living and the nation’s public life.

2. ASSIST CHURCHES THROUGH THE COMMUNICATION AND ADVOCACY OF MORAL AND ETHICAL CONCERNS IN THE PUBLIC ARENA.

Represent Southern Baptists in communicating the ethical positions of the Southern Baptist Convention to the public and to public officials.

3. ASSIST CHURCHES IN THEIR MORAL WITNESS IN LOCAL COMMUNITIES.

Provide information resources that inform and equip churches for active moral witness in their communities.

Mr. James’s statements are inappropriate and distasteful, especially to those who have been harmed by the church. The issues that many bloggers discuss are of moral and ethical concerns: how sex abuse cases are handled in the church, how pastors use their position of authority as a spiritual weapon, how the church handles cases of domestic violence, how the church takes care of the oppressed.

I wish Mr. James could read just a week’s worth of my e-mails and get a reality check to what many are experiencing. I also question what kind of ethics and morality is going on at ERLC that Mr. James could produce such a piece.

Since, Mr. James does not allow comments, blocks people on Twitter who engage him (and even people who don’t), he leaves me no choice but to blog about it. And now you may have the opportunity to share your thoughts, too.

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SSB Gathering – May 10, 2015

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

 by Kathi

Gorge sunrise

Romans 6: 1-14

What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

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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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photo credit: Brian Bonham

Building a God-Saturated, Christ-centered Home through Biblical Headship

Jeff Pollard on Biblical Headship

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Hey! American men!  Step it up ’cause you’re not leading your home biblically well enough!

-by Kathi

7336163426_9b20e87653

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The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC) posted a video of Jeff Pollard, explaining biblical headship. Jeff Pollard is elder (that means pastor in family-integrated churchspeak) at Mt. Zion Bible Church, Pensacola, Florida. He is the author Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America (which is currently available at Amazon for $.01).

The video is short, which makes me wonder if it’s a snippet of a talk that Mr. Pollard has recorded. Even though it’s short, there’s much to digest.

Mr. Pollard starts with:

When God appoints a man to be the head it’s to be the husband of his wife and to love her as Christ loved the church. That’s an astonishing requirement. Who’s sufficient for these things? And to try to get the modern American male to understand what it means to live as a self-sacrificing head of a wife is still a great challenge.

Mr. Pollard thinks exactly what I think, “That’s an astonishing requirement.” I truly feel for men who live with this appointment and requirement. I can only think that it is incredibly stressful to have that much to carry on your shoulders.

What exactly does “biblical headship” mean to Mr. Pollard? It seems that dads (really no mention of being a husband in here) are supposed to provide children with a “God-saturated world” and a “Christ-centered life.” How do dads do this? Through scripture reading and prayer. Oh, and sprinkle homeschooling on top to call it good (almost good).

Even with the Bible reading, prayer, and homeschooling, it still seems that men are not living up to the standard of biblical headship because Mr. Pollard ends with:

So dads, they [children] are important. And I see signs that some of them are growing, but I don’t see enough, even in some of the age-integrated circles. So that’s a very real concern for me.

Thank you for your concern, Mr. Pollard, and for dealing with it by offering a vague explanation of “biblical headship.” American men, I’m sorry, but you are a bunch of poor saps because this elder doesn’t think you’ve got what it takes to do the job of providing biblical headship over your family. Try as hard as you like, you’ll never measure up to the standard made up in this guy’s head.

Photo credit: Ephesians 5:22-26 | Husbands, Love your wives! via photopin (license)

Pastor Chuck O’Neal and Open Air Preacher Tony Miano to Speak at Jeremiah Cry Conference Hosted at Beaverton Grace Bible Church

Chuck O’Neal and Beaverton Grace Bible Church to host Jeremiah Cry Ministries “The Soul Winner” conference. O’Neal will be speaking as well as Open Air Preacher Tony Miano.

What a combination:  a suing pastor and open air preacher who behaves like the “spirit of Westboro” speaking on soul winning. The conference is May 7-9, 2015 at my former church.

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jercry2

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This is Miano’s style of “soul winning.” It sure looks like his goal is to intentionally offend:

jercry1

We all remember he calls this evangelizing, too:

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Patterns Abusers Use:  Image Control

Does anyone else find it strange that during this week of the Jeremiah Conference, my former pastor’s blog in which he fabricates all kinds of stories about me is mysteriously gone?

 Chuck O'Neal, Tony Miano

Me thinks he is trying to clean up his image.

A little background for those who don’t know the story. I was sued by Pastor Chuck O’Neal of Beaverton Grace Bible Church on February 22, 2012. Two months later, April 19, four domain sites were purchased using a similar web address to my old blog: BGBCSurvivors.  Buying four similar domains already in use is a tactic employed by dishonest people who are attempting to “phish” traffic to their site. There are legal cases involving this activity.

Dee of The Wartburg Watch blog covered this story:

Charles (Chuck) O’Neal – the Beaverton pastor who sued Julie Anne Smith, her daughter, and others for defamation – together with other church leaders, has launched a website called True BGBC Survivors: Surviving Four Years of Hate, Reviling Accusations, and Criminal Slander.  If you’ve been reading here, you will remember Chuck as the pastor who sued former church members for $500,000.  The story went viral and was covered by news outlets around the globe. (Source: Wartburg Watch Blog)

This is not the first time O’Neal has tried to clean up his image. His church blog was redone and looks much more family friendly. Another example is his Twitter profile. This is what his Twitter profile looked like during the lawsuit:

Con10 2013-06-22 at 10.22.45 AM

He later “cleaned” it up to look like this:

Con 12 2013-07-05 at 6.19.52 PM

Chuck O’Neal’s blog “True BGBC Survivors” was activated with its first posts on December 2, 2012, some four months after he lost the defamation lawsuit and:

Announcements, such as on Twitter, that this new blog had been launched showed up as early as December 10, and some comments were posted the next day. (Source)

This “business” card was also on the “impostor” blog. Below is a screenshot that I took from the original site. These were cards that Chuck O’Neal’s wife, Tonya, printed -5,000 cards!  Cards were placed on parked cars in shopping malls and even at a church where several former members were worshipping. The church security personnel had to quickly scour the parking lot to remove the business cards from the cars. If memory serves, they collected over 200 cards. This is how my pastor and his wife and church members behave. Below is a screenshot from the now-removed blog:

Con A 2012-12-18 at 9.08.18 AM

Slander blogger card front

Julie Anne holding “business card”

 Trolls

That brings me to another notable pattern I’ve seen before: trolls. Those of us who have maintained survivor blogs know that trolls come and attempt to create division.  I also suspect their goal is to keep me distracted from blogging, because the blog and my readers’ insightful comments are a threat to their “ministry.”

Yesterday, SSB commenter, Sage, came to the blog and commented these :::::cough, cough:::::: kind words about me:

You and many of your followers are akin to Jezebel. You are a bully. A liar. A twister of scripture. You openly mock, question and condemn believers you know almost nothing about. You take people’s word who believe as you do as the gospel truth, without ever realizing their motives or questioning their charachter [sic].

and

I know for a fact there are outright lies told here. Whether she is so blinded by her hatred for the standard christian faith and it’s teaching, especially on male & female teaching, or because she does not do due dilegence [sic]- either way she is at fault for speaking evil of men and women of the christian [sic] faith who she says she shares faith with but does not follow the scriptures in how she treats them or handles disputes. She is at fault for the outright lies told time and time again.

I highly suspect that Sage was sent my way to distract me from the upcoming conference. Sorry, Sage, your behavior outs you.

Phil Johnson, Tony Miano, Grace Community Church, and Public Rebuking for Public Behavior

 Phil Johnson, Tony Miano, Grace Community Church and Public Rebuking for Bad Public Behavior

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Last week, I posted this article, Open Air Preacher Tony Miano’s Insensitive Tweets after Nepal Earthquake Disaster, after Tony Miano sent out this tweet:

 

tony miano nepal earthquake

There was an enormous negative response on Twitter directed towards Miano from Christians and non-Christians alike.

Tony Miano has let it be known many places that he is under Grace Community’s authority. Miano mentions it here on his blog:

“As my family and I seek membership at Grace Community Church, I will also seek to bring myself and my ministry as an evangelist/open-air preacher under the authority and accountability of my pastors/elders. How long this will take, what processes will be involved, and exactly what all of this will look like will be determined by the elders of Grace Community Church. (Source)”

If Tony Miano is under the authority of Grace Community, does Tony Miano’s words and behavior represent Grace Community? Do the leaders at Grace Community Church endorse his behavior?

A response eventually came from Grace Community’s Phil Johnson on his personal Facebook page:

A couple of recent incidents compel me to say this:

Romans 12:15 says, “Weep with those who weep.” The immediate context is about how we should treat unbelievers, including overtly hostile unbelievers. Natural disasters, funerals, memorial services, and other times of grief are not appropriate times for strangers to stand on the sidelines with a megaphone and broadcast a message of damnation. That’s the spirit of Westboro, not the Spirit of God.

I was grateful for the response and tweeted about it here. The tweet includes my words on top and the screenshot of Phil Johnson’s Facebook comment below:

 

Phil Johnson, Tony Miano, Westboro, Nepal Earthquake, Grace Community Church

 

When looking through the comments on Phil Johnson’s Facebook wall, however, I saw someone asking a very legitimate question and comment:

 

“Am I correct that at one point, Tony Miano was, if he is not still, a member at Grace Community Church? At least he advertises that he is accountable to the elders at GCC. This is not the first incident with him. Is there some sort of church discipline for this kind of stuff? And if he is no longer a member, then maybe there needs to be a public distancing between the two parties, in the same manner that he publicized going there. “

This is something that we have been wondering here for some time as we have observed Tony Miano’s public behavior.  I tweeted the comment (using a screenshot taken from my cell phone):

 

phil johnson, tony miano

(It’s important to note that the above comment was removed from Johnson’s Facebook page.)

But it is the response to that tweet from Phil Johnson that gave me pause. I’ve included the entire Twittter conversation. I’ve heard Phil Johnson is John MacArthur’s right-hand man. I have seen him use his position to speak publicly for Grace Community and/or John MacArthur.

 

That’s the spirit of Westboro, not the Spirit of God. ~Phil Johnson

 

I’ve seen Johnson publicly call out Mark Driscoll, Joel Osteen, etc. But  . . . crickets . . . . when it comes to naming one in his own flock who behaves like Westboro?  What gives?!

To say that someone is behaving in “the spirit of Westboro, not the Spirit of God” is a very serious conclusion to make about someone who is a member of your congregation – – and you are a shepherd.

But take a look at how Johnson feels free to publicly rebuke me, not a member of his church:

 

phil johnson, tony miano, nepal earthquake, grace community church

 

 

phil johnson, tony miano, nepal earthquake, grace community church

 

 

Interesting.  Phil Johnson is not my pastor and he publicly rebuked me. Tony Miano insists that he is under the authority of Grace Community, but even after Johnson’s Facebook note appeared on April 27, Miano apparently did not get the memo from Johnson (notice the dates):

 

 

 

SSB Gathering – May 3, 2015

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

 by Kathi

poppies

Isaiah 1: 10-17

Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah!

“The multitude of your sacrifices – what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.

When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations – I cannot bear your evil assemblies.

Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.

Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight!

Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!

Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.

Defend the cause of the fatherless,

plead the case of the widow.”

***

 

***

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: Kathi Bonham

CBMW and Owen Strachan Tweets that the Church is Better at Handling Domestic Violence Than our Secular Culture

Owen Strachan and the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) thinks the church handles domestic violence against women better than secular culture.

owen strachan, council for biblical manhood and womanhood, cbmw, domestic violence, abuse, women

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Pastor Mike Sperou: Guilty on all 3 counts of sex abuse, sentenced to 20 years, while his devoted followers discount their own adult childrens’ testimonies of sex abuse

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Update on an earlier story:

Pastor Mike Sperou of North Clackamas Bible Community Church found guilty on all 3 counts of sex abuse of minor under 12 and is sentenced to 20 years.

 

This is one of those cases that leaves you shaking your head, thinking that you couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. But this is good. I have a happy update to report.  Earlier, I posted about the story of Pastor Mike Sperou who was arrested for sex abuse charges.  The article is here: Pastor Mike Sperou Will Have His Day in Court: Seven Women Come forward with Sexual Abuse Allegations.  To briefly recap, this story is closely connected with my friend (and friend of SSB), Pastor Ken Garret, who previously attended Sperou’s church, North Clackamas Bible Community, where two of his daughters were sexually abused. A total of seven women came forward and reported sex abuse to authorities.

Seven women had reported their sexual abuse to authorities; however, Oregon’s Statute of Limitations prevented Sperou from being tried for 6 of the cases.  However, the one remaining case was within the Statute of Limitations. The court hearings occurred the last two weeks. Two days ago, Sperous was charged, tried, and convicted of all three counts of first-degree sexual penetration of a person under the age of 12. This earned him a sentence of 20 years.

The following is a screenshot showing the picture on the front page of TheOregonian/OregonLive. Reporters, Rick Bella (who covered most of the story) and Steve Duin, did a stellar job of capturing what it felt like to be sitting in the court room with cult leader defenders on one side of the room and supporters of the sex abuse victims, family, friends, and former members on the other side. Can you imagine the tension in that room?

 

***

 

This is a remarkable story in that the six women who were not allowed to take their cases to court, were allowed by the judge to testify (as well as other former members, including Ken).  Their voices were heard. I am so proud of these women who chose to report their stories and go public.

This article, Steve Duin: Memory and moral suicide in Happy Valley, I found especially revealing in that it showed the insidious relational dynamics of the cult:

She usually wore Calvin Klein boxers and a t-shirt, she said. Her pastor and spiritual mentor came to bed in boxer shorts, and frequently hugged the long pillow – that he dubbed “Sally” – that separated them. Asked how long this bizarre sleeping arrangement continued, the 30-year-old Mitchell said, “Until now.”

SAY WHAT?!!!!!!

 

In this same article, we read how parents refuse to believe their adult daughters who said they were sexually abused. The parents essentially disowned them as they continued to defend and protect their brazen and unapologetic “pastor” leader. Folks, this is what we see with narcissists. There is an inner group always looking out for the leader, defending him, building him up, denying reality, even to the expense of abandoning relationships with their children.

Christ does not do this. Cults do!

Later, we read from Ken Garrett as he is quoted:

“Moral suicide,” Garrett calls it. Thirty years ago, Sperou’s disciples “never dreamed that allowing and cherishing a lie would corrupt their entire character,” he said. “Where they would actually sit in a courtroom, look in the faces of the daughters who came to them and said they were molested, and call them liars. They never dreamed they would end up here. Now that they’re here, they’re numb.”

Congratulations to Ken and Sharon. Congratulations to these brave 7 women:
Emily Bertram, 33
Shannon Clark, 28
Bryn Garrett, 30
Jennifer Olajuyin, 32
Amy Robinson, 35
Rachel Schackart, 29
Jessica Watson, 33
You are heroes. Your voices have been heard and justice is now being served.
I’m so grateful to you for standing up against this tyrant.  BRAVO!!!!

I encourage you to check out the other outstanding articles from OregonLive reporters, Rick Bella and Steve Duin:

 

Encouraging Shift from Bethlehem Baptist Church Regarding Domestic Abuse and Care for Abused Women

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Pastor Jason Meyer of Bethlehem Baptist Church Preaches on Domestic Abuse and Care for Abused Women, Marking a Change in Direction from John Piper’s Teachings

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Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.49.07 AM

Screenshot of the sermon Pastor Jason Meyer preached at Bethlehem Baptist Church, April 26, 2015

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Yesterday, I received an e-mail from reader, Ben, about a sermon preached at Bethlehem Baptist Church last Sunday concerning domestic violence. This is significant coming from John Piper’s former church and how he handled domestic violence:

“If it’s not requiring her to sin but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, and she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.” ~John Piper (See: Video and  Clarifying Statement)

To read the following summary, knowing where Bethlehem Baptist formerly stood on these issues, it’s encouraging to see a positive change. I don’t think we’re going to see a church go from A to Z overnight. But it’s clear that there has been thoughtful response to a growing problem that has been swept under the carpet for far too long.

I’m grateful to Ben who wrote this summary and shared his personal observations and commentary.


  * * *

by Ben

On Sunday April 26, as part of an ongoing series on 2 Corinthians, Pastor Jason Meyer (John Piper’s successor) of Bethlehem Baptist Church of Minneapolis preached a sermon and gave a call to action on rooting out domestic abuse in the church. Calling this a “draw-a-line-in-the-sand kind of moment,” Meyer said the elders have recently been working through this issue and implementing structure that will identify abuse, discipline abusers, and care for victims.

The sermon manuscript is here (see especially “Application” and following):  Fooled by False Leadership

Now granted: Bethlehem still unwaveringly teaches complementarianism. (Domestic abuse was labelled “hyper-headship” — a distortion of what the Bible teaches, just as they believe egalitarianism is.) And as far as I know, no one at Bethlehem has backed off their support for CJ Mahaney and other leaders at Spvereogm Grace Ministries (SGM) that did exactly the opposite of what they’re calling Bethlehem to do.

Nevertheless, there were several positive things in this sermon (and other events this weekend) that I think should be commended. If we want churches to stand firmly against abuse, I think they should be encouraged when they take positive steps, even when they haven’t yet gone as far as they should.

 

1. The elders at Bethlehem are emotionally invested in this issue.

Manuscript:

“This was not a stand-up-and-shout sermon for me to prepare. It was a break-down-and-weep sermon.”

From Meyer’s tone and expression (see the video) and advance notice that this was going to be a sober weekend, I am convinced they are treating this seriously.

2. They are confessing that abuse at Bethlehem has not always been handled as it should have been.

Manuscript:

“We have become aware some domestic abuse cases throughout Bethlehem, and we have learned that we have not always handled them well.”

3. They are also acknowledging that they had a lot they needed to learn, and sought outside help.

Manuscript:

“We brought a biblical counselor, John Henderson, to train the elders in better detecting and dealing with domestic abuse.”

4. They called out Doug Phillips and Vision Forum by name.

Manuscript:

“One example is Doug Philips’ ministry, called Vision Forum. A recent sex scandal that caused Doug Philips to step down has also raised even more questions about Vision Forum’s credibility. We do not want to leave people vulnerable to false teaching by failing to speak out against hyper-headship.”

5. They are taking a clear stand against victim-blaming.

Manuscript:

“In these situations, the conflict is not treated as normal marriage issues in which each spouse can look at what he or she is contributing. This is a predator/prey or abuser/abused situation. The prey needs to be protected from the predator. The abuser needs to be held accountable, and the abused needs to be shepherded to safety. Working on communication and having the couple go on dates is not the way to address abusive sinfulness. Telling the woman to submit better—and making her feel like she is to blame in some way—is the worse [sic] thing someone could say in that situation. If there is continual destructive abuse, you should never to ask [sic] the abused what they did to bring the abuse on. One of our counselors shared an analogy that stuck with me. It would be a little bit like the police on a 911 call coming into a crime scene where the wife has been shot and asking her what she did to bring on the bullets. The goal is to care for her and make sure she is safe and the shooter is arrested.”

6. They are also calling for abuse victims to be believed.

Manuscript:

“Abusers can be so charming around other people—that is part of the deception. Do you think they will really show their true colors in public? Don’t judge by appearances and discount what a woman says with flippant incredulity. Think about how much she is risking by saying anything at all. Take it seriously. Tell her that you believe her, that God hates abuse, and that you are committed to help her.”

7. Women were involved in creating the new structure and process to encourage abuse victims to come forward and make sure they’re cared for.

(The cringe-worthy language reveals their complementarian bent, but at least the men didn’t decide they knew everything they needed to handle this themselves.)

Manuscript:

“Woe to us as a church if our women get the impression that we don’t value their input or contributions. We have sought to involve more input from the wives of pastors and elders, telling them that we not only want their input but that we need it because we have blind spots. An ethos that does not value women can lead to an environment where sick things slip under the radar.”

(It’s not in the manuscript, but would be on the video: Meyer specifically said women helped create the new structure and process. At the end of the sermon, several women “first responders” came to the front in readiness to talk to anyone who needed it.)

8. They are encouraging abuse victims to give the new process a chance.

Elders Statement: “If you are a woman experiencing domestic abuse and would like counsel from a female ‘first responder’ who is a member at Bethlehem, please contact …”

Manuscript:

“Please let us help. God hates abuse, and so do we. We are committed to help. If you have come to us for help before and have been disappointed, please give us another chance. We believe that the tide of awareness has risen on all three campuses and that positive changes are happening.”

9. They are calling men in particular to speak up and take a stand: To do nothing is to support the abusers.

Manuscript:

“At first glance, it looks like there are three possible doors the men of this church can take. Door 1: side with the abusers, Door 2: take no side, or Door 3: side with the abused and stand up to the abusers. If you are tempted to open Door 2, please know that it is a slide just takes you [sic] to the same place as Door 1. Doing nothing is doing something: it is looking the other way so the abusers can do their thing without worrying who is watching.”

10. Finally, at an all-church meeting Sunday night, a member of the church was excommunicated after pleading guilty to sexual assault of minors.

Given that he confessed, and still claims to be a Christian, one person made the argument that he should remain a member of the church and be part of a discipline and restoration process, as in Matthew 18. But Meyer and the elders said (based on 1 Corinthians 5) that some sins bring such reproach on the name of “Christian” that they merit immediate expulsion, with the hope that someday later there may be evidence of repentance, and restoration of fellowship.

You can see the above is very focused on spousal abuse. I wish more had been said about the abuse of children, but it was mentioned (see manuscript), and Bethlehem already has a very careful process to deter abuse at the church (background checks, screening, and training of child care workers, two-person rules, etc.). I also wish more had been said about police involvement.

But again, there is a danger of making the perfect the enemy of the good. I was very encouraged by the direction; hopefully as time goes on, they will go farther. I do not believe these elders would hush up abuse, tell wives to return to their abusers, force children to meet with and forgive their adult abusers, etc. — the things that make SGM’s history so disgusting.


Julie Anne responding now.

There were a couple of notable paragraphs that I want to draw your attention to:

An ethos that does not value women can lead to an environment where sick things slip under the radar. I have heard this statement before—warning, if you want to see me get visibly upset, just say what I am about to say in my presence: “If wives would just submit better and become more meek and quiet, then husbands would not get so angry.” These thoughts must be taken captive, or else we can create a climate in which domestic abuse can take root and grow.

Hyper-headship is a satanic distortion of male leadership, but it can fly under the radar of discernment because it is disguised as strong male leadership. Make no mistake—it is harsh, oppressive, and controlling. In other words, hyper-headship becomes a breeding ground for domestic abuse.

I’ve seen some complementarian marriages work beautifully. But there is a very fine line that can be crossed when a husband decides “my wife is not being submissive” and ventures into what they refer as “hyper-headship.”

I was looking specifically for the words spiritual abuse mentioned and there was only one paragraph. For those wives who have been living with a husband who uses God, the Bible,  the husband’s assumed position of “hyper-headship” over the wife, living with such a person is horrific. Here is where spiritual abuse is mentioned:

We could add that spiritual abuse would be doing any of these things in the name of Jesus and using the Bible to defend them. Abusive leadership uses physical, psychological, and emotional (and spiritual) means to be lord over others. Servant leadership uses physical, psychological, and emotional (and spiritual) means to serve others.

I am greatly encouraged that this topic was discussed with great humility before the whole congregation, that the full transcript was posted, as well as the sermon on video. They clearly want to set the record straight that they plan on dealing with domestic violence and that it won’t be dismissed anymore.

What’s missing, however, are specifics, that hopefully will be addressed at some time. For example, how are abused wives (and their children) going to be assisted? Is there a plan in place? Are there safe houses? Will the church help these families financially? Will the husband/abuser be able to continue going to church? Will they allow a woman to divorce to her abusive husband or try to get the couple to reconcile?

It was mentioned that they “brought a biblical counselor, John Henderson, to train the elders in better detecting and dealing with domestic abuse.” I’m unclear what “dealing with domestic abuse means.” That raises some red flags for me after looking up John Henderson, who is part of Biblical Counseling Coalition. You can read Henderson’s bio here:

John Henderson received a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Texas A&M University and both Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the University of North Texas in Counseling Psychology. Since that time the Lord has dramatically shifted and transformed his view of many things, especially counseling.

Henderson has written a “biblical counseling curriculum for training in the local church.” Additionally, there are a couple of names I recognize as part of the Biblical Counseling Coalition group that leaves me concerned about their counseling. Will they try to keep the counseling in-house only for abuse cases? Hyper-headship is just a softer word for abuse. Someone who has a need to control and uses that control over others has serious mental health issues and the church is ill-equipped to handle such cases. The abuser should be put out of church so that the church is a haven of rest for the survivor and her family.

When the church encounters abuse, they must first report it to authorities, and then it is time to refer abuse victims over to those able to handle such cases, to outside trained mental health professionals, not in-house “trained” biblical counselors. The church’s responsibility should be on the abused woman and caring for her and her family. Abuse survivors can have a range of mental health issues caused by abuse and the church should not be handling PTSD, dissociative disorders, etc.

I agree with Ben, that when we see churches taking positive steps to help the abused, it’s important to acknowledge it. This is a positive step that I am publicly acknowledging . . . with caution  . . as outlined above.

 


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.

***

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.

***

 

***

“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?
 ***

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

 

***

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.

***

 

***

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.

***

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.

***
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?

***

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:

* * *

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

***

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

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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.

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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.

***
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

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